87 Return of the Emperor
In an unknown piece of land where miasma was abundant, Clay and Ryan appeared in a flash of bright light which dissipated in an instant as they appeared.
Clay was holding Ryan in his arms just as usual, however, the moment that Clay took a breath of the air in Alleucanth, something unexpected happened.
Clay could feel that something was trying to restrain him but was unable to do so. It may have been a law of physics in this world or another type of force, however it could not bind Clay at all and instead moved on to Ryan instead. In alarm, Clay exerted some of his authority to protect Ryan, however, it was to no avail.
He understood that this force could not bind him, however, he also could not interfere with it. Which meant that he was no where near the level where he could restrain this unknown force.
Having no power to do anything, Clay could only look in worry as Ryan was brought into the air, floating while the force had him completely wrapped. Slowly, Ryan started to wake up and the moment he did, he started to feel unimaginable pain. His bones felt like it was being crushed and grinded, stretched and remade. His insides were burning as if he was being cooked in an oven. Right after that, he felt as if he was being stir fried along with his bones.
Countless cracking noises resounded on that spot in that unknown piece of land. This lasted four days and nights and Ryan were clearly in pain, however Clay could not do anything else than watch over his son as this force was doing something to him.
On the first day, he was so worried that he even hurt himself from holding himself back from throwing a fit of anger against the surroundings. However, on the second day, he noticed a change in Ryan's body. It grew a few inches taller and his limbs grew less plump. Ryan was also screaming less and less from each painful sensation that he was experiencing.
Finally, at the final and fourth day, Clay held Ryan in his arms. Yes, his arms. Ryan had grown to the size of a typical toddler. He was unconscious but his vitals were normal, merely asleep. This gave relief to Clay as he sat down, however, as he was in the motion of sitting down towards the ground, the earth itself moved and caught his butt and shaped itself into a nice-looking chair complete with engravings.
Clay snapped his left hand's fingers and instantly, there appeared a golem that looked familiar to Clay. This was one of the household golems that he created to keep the Apollo's Lair clean and livable even when he wasn't there.
"Take care of him gently. Let him sleep there." As Clay pointed with his chin where the golem was to take care of Ryan who'd grown up, as if an illusion, the earth yet again moved and formed itself poles by which to serve as pillars for the cloth that also appeared out of nowhere to become a tent. Inside the tent was a simple bed that was made of earth as well, polished to the extreme that it gave a luster when the sunshine hit it. A pillow was also present.
"Dammit! What was that force?!" Clay was not feeling as good as he looked. He was unaffected by that force, however, the moment they breathed as they got back, it came and put Ryan in so much pain to transform him according to some sick rule. "I have to figure this out, or else I won't be able to sleep properly. For my son's sake."
"Analyze all my skills and develop skills aimed at creating creatures through magic energy, spirits and miasma. If possible, create an energy reactor for miasma as well. In addition, I've been sensing the people of Claiomh since we got here and been hearing their thoughts regarding me and their requests. Sort this out and put it in a more manageable format." Clay was talking to himself, however, his Ultimate skill put itself to work and did what was ordered.
"I can't move from here until I know fully what has happened to me since my ascension. Too many variables can lead to me walking blind. I'll have to revisit Evernight to meet with the Lich god again soon. I'll have to delay that for a while to understand myself more." Saying that in a whisper, Clay closed his eyes and meditated. This way, he was able to visit the space in his consciousness where he could interact with his Ultimate Skill: Ultimate Comprehension – Akashic Query.
[Host has acquired Method of Ascension]
[Method of Ascension fully integrated]
[Development of Skill: Energy Reactor – Miasma is in progress]
[Energy Reactor – Miasma lacks component (Negative Emotions)]
[Requests permission to tap into the Host's Rage and Killing Intent to fuel Energy Reactor – Miasma]
[Permission Granted. Proceeding]
[Energy Reactor – Miasma developing.]
[Energy Absorption - Miasma merging with Dark Magic success. Integrating. Success]
[Energy Reactor – Miasma developed. Integrating. Success]
[Enhancing Creation Magic. Adding Coreless Body Production derived from Earth Magic – Golem Creation]
[Coreless Body Production skill developed. Integrating. Success]
[Creation Magic, Coreless Body Production and Necromancy merging process in progress]
[Artificial Lifeform Creation skill developed. Integrating. Success]
[Artificial Lifeform Creation lists the following basis for creation: Artificial Magic Creature, Artificial Spirit, Artificial Miasmic Creature, Artificial Solar Based Creature]
[Analyzing Contact with Unknown Force]
[Unknown Force shows traces of known energy – Divinity]
[Host has yet to develop or control Energy – Divinity]
[Host has developed the Stat: FAITH. Integrating. Success]
[Energy Absorption – Faith has been created. Integrating. Success]
[Analyzing Energy – Divinity in progress]
[Energy Absorption – Divinity can be developed from Soul, Faith and Light Affinity Magic Energy. Proceed Y/N?]
Clay abruptly opened his eyes from the shock he got. He was startled so much that he had retreated on his chair as if getting up.
"Divinity? Damn. If I'm successful in developing that, could it be that I can proceed to truly being a god? I wonder if I'll have to undergo another ascension ritual to ascend into being one. In which case, I don't have that means. No use thinking about it then. Proceed." Clay sat properly again and closed his eyes to meditate. Inside his consciousness, he saw the line of words that his Ultimate Skill was processing again.
[Energy Absorption – Divinity created. Integrating. Success]
[Analyzing Energy – Demonic in progress]
[Energy Absorption – Demonic can be developed from Soul, Miasma and Dark Affinity Magic Energy. Proceed Y/N?]
[Permission Granted. Proceeding]
[Energy Absorption – Demonic created. Integrating. Success]
[Host's Physical body can be enhanced. Proceed Y/N?]
[Permission Granted. Proceeding]
[Body Enhancement Failed. Retry.]
[Body Enhancement Failed. Possible cause: Lacking Stats in STR, INT, MGC, DEX]
Clay left his consciousness and opened his eyes again. He checked his stats and saw that FAITH was increasing steadily. While he also saw that Divinity and Demonic energies were staying put at 0. It was no wonder, Clay could not produce his own divinity and demonic energy after all. At least not yet.
Clay had not noticed, but the process of his skills and stats integrating and developing took him a long time. By the time he noticed, it was already morning of the next day.
Ryan was yet unconscious and so he hunted some game to prepare a feast for when he did wake up. Looking at him, Clay unconsciously saw his son's stats and he was again surprised.
Ryan's initial stat points did not change but the skills he had initially were all unlocked already. His Energy Reactor, Creation Magic and even Space-Time magic were all unlocked. In addition to that, his Language skill had been added listing Human Language and Abyssal Language in it. Clay knew that his son would be powerful as well just from looking at his skill set. Although the was lacking in physical strength, that could be remedied, especially since Clay specialized in Physical enhancement.
"Son wake up soon. We must get back home and see if anything's changed since we left." Clay said in murmur with longing in his eyes.
"I have failed your people my son. This guilt that I carry must not be for naught. I shall go back to Evernight when the time is ripe, to rectify my mistake there. I cannot forgive myself for this. I shall bring this guilt with me for the rest of eternity." Clay eyes started to water after thinking about the soldiers he cultivated in Evernight and how his arrogance and negligence had led to their demise on the battlefield. He even left the culprit alive. Failure after failure haunted Clay. They stayed in that unknown patch of land for a few more days before they left for Claiomh Solais, their home.
The skies were lit up by the fires that burned for who knows how long in the battlefield. The smell of blood and other fluids had mixed up in the air and was permeating the atmosphere. Thousands of bodies were sprawled on the ground leaking so much blood that it literally was sea of blood.
The limbs of countless soldiers and the heads of countless undead scattered I the battlefield can give one a heart attack if one wasn't used to such a sight.
A man stood at the edges of the battlefield wearing a robe and a pointy hat fit for mages that were not that numerous in Evernight. He was a what the people called a sage who could never hurt a fly, as even mosquitoes can feast upon his blood without him squashing them to death. This man was a firm believer of what they called the circle of life. One was subject to a greater cycle in life which flows on with or without human interference. However, his non-interference gave way for the monsters called undead to propagate even more rapidly in the lands of Evernight. He was their hope, and he had abandoned his people for his pointless principles.
That was, until his colleagues came to him asking for help explicitly. They conveyed to him that this disaster can be stopped if only he would move. His magic after all can reverse the very flow of time. However, even until the end, he was stubborn and did not budge. However, even a principled man could not emerge victorious to use his powers when it came to save his own life.
On the night when the undead had reached the forest he had been living in, to the hut that he had built for himself through his sweat and tears, he was attacked and dragged outside his hut. His resistance only showed when it was the time when his head was about to be cut off.
His magic circulated and he used the fullness of it to save himself. However, it was all for naught, for the speed of the blade, was faster than the invocation of a spell. His head was cut off and rolled away from his body. However, this happened after he had finished his spell. This was not a Space-Time magic, but a magic that utilizes it, nevertheless. This was a magic that allowed his soul to maintain its integrity once he was reincarnated.
After his head rolled, the man's eyes stared at someone watching him, meeting his eyes. With a flash of bright light, Ryan woke up with a start and was panting hard. Clay instantly came before him and helped him settle down while the Household golem brought a glass of water and a pitcher to drink.
Clay offered him the glass, but Ryan took the pitcher from the Golem and drank from it instead.
Clay looked at his son curiously and thought, he must have been thirsty.
"Son, are you alright? Are you hurt anywhere?"
Ryan heard Clay's voice in his ears and immediately looked up to him. However, when he looked up, he felt that Clay was emitting a different aura than he knew, as if the one in front of him was a different being.
He cautiously asked, "Fa-Father?" After saying this, he was even more surprised. He found that now he was able to articulate words using his own mouth. Which meant that he had grown up already!
Clay sensed the joy in his son and handed him a mirror after snapping his fingers and conjuring a mirror in his hand.
"Here. Look how big you've grown. Do you remember what happened?" Clay asked the obvious question. After all, Ryan just experienced excruciating pain that he knew was too much for ordinary children to go through. He was even worried that Ryan would die the moment he finished the process.
"Father is this real? I have grown bigger! This is awesome!" Seeing as Clay's question was thrown into the wind because of his excitement, Clay let him celebrate and told him, "Clean yourself up. We'll have some supper first before going back to Claiomh. It's been four years after all." With that, Clay turned around and prepared to cook some good food for him and Ryan. It has been sometime since he had cooked anything after all. He'd be able to utilize his alchemy skills after a long while.
While Clay cooked, Ryan was led by the household golem that Clay assigned to take care of him to the bathtub that Clay prepared for them both. The water was already hot, and Ryan's new clothes had been prepared as well. As if anticipating his awakening, everything was well-prepared. Ryan was inwardly impressed at his father's ability to take care of him.
"With my growth, I wonder if I can now practice magic?" Ryan was excited with the thought, and then he remembered his dream before he woke up just now. It was a memory from his past. He invoked a spell to retain his memories to remind him of the price that cost him and his people the whole world. "If only I wasn't so stubborn previously, would I have made a difference in Evernight?" After thinking about his, he was reminded yet again of another matter that he was also a participant of, Evernight… the Liberation Army, the last of his people!
Hurriedly, Ryan went out of the tent and found Clay who was cooking. He found the table they were to use for dining and sat at the chair allocated for him and slowly asked Clay about the matters in Evernight.
"Father… may I ask you a something?" Clay heard him and immediately stopped what he was doing for a second before resuming and answering Ryan.
"You want to ask how the Liberation Army and the people of Evernight fared in their endeavor?" Clay confirm Ryan's query. Ryan nodded his head as if Clay could see him and Clay continued speaking, taking Ryan's silence as his answer.
"They died on the battle before the tower. Marduke, the Grand Lich in charge of the tower let loose a spell that aggravated the soul of everyone in Evernight, attributing to them the madness to devour living being's souls. The Liberation Army were wiped out by them. The remaining people should still be inside the sanctuary we developed for them and enable them to live.
"However, they won't be able to get out of there unless they dig through the ground or learn earth magic. Both of which would jeopardize their lives if discovered. I'm sorry son. I failed your people and your world. If only I wasn't so careless and killed Marduke instantly, he wouldn't have had the chance to unleash such a terrible spell." Clay looked down on the stew he was, a trace of a tear gathered in his right eye. The guilt that came with his failure continues to eat him up even now.
"Is… Is that so?" Ryan was silent. In fact, he did not blame Clay. He could only blame himself for being so hasty in enacting his plan to save Evenight. If only he waited until he was old enough to come and save them himself. He wouldn't have made his father in this life worried and despondent over the failure of their attempt.
"Forgive me son." Clay turned around and sat at the only chair left around the table. He stared at Ryan with his powerful eyes that said it all. The once powerful eyes were now clouded by tears threatening to burst from it any moment now. Ryan saw this and was unable to hold back his tears. These were tears of lament and guilt towards the people he failed yet again and his father who he basically forced to help.
"Father there's nothing to forgive! Please do not worry about this matter. When I'm old enough, I shall go there myself and rid Evernight of the plague which is the undead! I promise on my life!" Ryan powerfully said. This display of resolution gave Clay some comfort from his son. He stood up and gave Ryan a hug. The little toddler was talking to him like an old man. What would Giselle say when he converses with her in the coming days?
"Thank you, my son. Let's get this food ready so we can leave early in the morning after a good night's rest." Clay said as he stood up and turned around to finish preparing the food. The aroma from the food he cooked attracted a lot of monsters in the vicinity, however, Clay's presence itself was something of a repellant to them as not one even dared to enter their camp. Only little bunnies and critters came and went inside the camp. It is true that beings far weaker won't be able to sense danger from someone far stronger than them.
With enough preparation and finishing in cooking the food. Clay sat down and joined Ryan on the table while the household golem served them both.
Ryan was immediately curious as if being reminded by the little golem's movements and existence.
"Father, is this a golem? Was it you who made it?" Ryan was amused looking at it while it was serving them.
"Oh yes. This guy was one of my earliest creations. Golem creation was something that I took an interest in as living in my hideout made it hard for my lonesome self. Taking care of the place was a hassle. So, I made them golems. Do you want to learn how to make one, or do you already know how to make one?" Clay spoke enthusiastically as if in the company of someone he could excitedly share his joys and hobbies. "Having a son to share these joys, simply is a blessing isn't it?" Clay thought joyously.
"I have never succeeded in making one, as I could not solve the problem of the core. If I were to put a soul inside it then that would cease to be called a golem and instead an artificial lifeform instead. In a way, our world was kind of backward in its magic development as, we have forgotten how to produce golems and instead we focused more on mastering the soul. I don't know how that happened though, no one knew even when I was alive there previously." Clay agreed with Ryan in saying that their world's magic development was backwards. In fact, Clay only learned to create artificial lifeforms recently because of his involvement in Evernight. If not for this, then he'd have no idea where to begin with the development of his magic and skills.
Clay and Ryan chatted with each other until late at night when Ryan's body could not take anymore and slowly drifted into sleeping. Clay chuckled and brought Ryan to his bed and went out the tent to sit at his earthen chair separate from the tent and the table. He began to yet again meditate.
When he left his consciousness, he left his ultimate skill to analyze ways to ascend into godhood, however, his only ticket to that knowledge seemed to be the Lich god who could possibly know about it. He stopped thinking about it and focused more on his growing FAITH stat. He wondered what this did.
The morning the next day.
Clay and Ryan packed everything up and shoved them into Clay's dimensional storage. Ryan was no longer surprised about it and instead excited to cast his own. By now, Clay's dimensional storage had no limitations and have even incorporated the Space-Time element of the Magic branch to totally stop time and give birth to the revised spell. Ryan could now cast this spell; however, his magic energy capacity was still in development so, Clay told him to wait for him to have greater capacity through training. And when Clay mentioned "training" Ryan immediately turned pale as he remembered the state of his direct subordinates when training. It was literally Hell.
When they were ready. Clay snapped his fingers to return the golem to the Apollo's Lair and created a rift in the air to immediately go to their home, Claiomh.