91 Heaven-bound Training
Clay had wanted to train his subordinates to be the pillar of Alleucanth when he decides to go and pursue even more power in the future. Clay knew that Alleucanth was still just developing and so the techniques and knowledge here was not exactly what he could consider modern. He had to go to other planets that could possibly have other powerhouses. He was powerful in Alleucanth, but what's to say that he'd still be powerful when he visited other planets with more advanced magic and scientific technologies developed.
So, he could only make them ascend.
The thing about ascension was, that any skill that he had prior to ascension were upgraded to better versions of it. Even Ultico was upgraded. So, before he made his subordinates ascend and possibly his son Ryan as well in the future along with his mother Giselle, who Clay now had some inkling of romantic feelings toward.
When they ascend, the first thing that they'd benefit from is the fact that they'd live longer lives compared to even the long-lived species like the elves. However, with a magic technique that Clay developed, dying of aging would be impossible for them.
He developed the technique of flooding the entire human being with magic particles instead of the usual elements. This process is arduous and painful in the long run, but the effects are boundless.
This was a technique he developed owing to his knowledge of some eastern fantasy cultivation methods. If in eastern fantasy, it was Qi that was absorbed by the body to make it tougher and stronger, Clay's technique replaces Qi with magic energy.
The manual was divided into 14 books. Each book contains the methods for cultivating the skin, bones, nerves, viscera, mind, perception and control. All of which were required to tempered again and again until they reach the next level. It was simple, not as complicated as the cultivation methods of eastern fantasy. It was a step by step method towards ascension that he cropped up.
Although for his subordinates, training was the only way. He couldn't let them slack off and cultivate close doors, when they had responsibilities to perform and take care of in Claiomh.
Their training now consisted of being pumped with magic energy from Clay. Yes, Clay was forcefully washing away their human flesh. This was the same with the methods of cultivation, but it was forceful and the pain they had to undergo was not something that should have been experienced if they cultivated instead.
Clay was not remorseful. He wanted them to be the first to understand how painful it is to gain power. Clay himself had to undergo a torturous period before he had become powerful. That was a long time ago though.
This kind of training was hellish to the point of wanting to go to heaven instead. Making this training, a heaven-bound training for the four of them. Plus, this was part of their punishment for leaving their posts when they were not supposed to.
After the incident on Ryan's birthday, it had already been a few months.
"You will grit your teeth and endure! You are warriors that will one day serve as pillars of this world. The gods can do nothing to you unless they descended themselves. You will rule the entire world with might and power!
"Endure! Do not think that power comes without effort and pain. You've experienced firsthand how painful it is to gain even the measly power that you had. You couldn't even finish one Demon even when you had my support. That's how weak you are. Compared to others, you're still chicks!
"I was ashamed to even admit that you are my subordinates. I could snap my fingers and kill without doing anything else, and yet my subordinates cannot even take down one Demon. The Shame!
"From now on, you will experience pain that transcends pain that you've ever experienced. All for the sake of your survival!"
With his impassioned speech, Clay proceeded with washing the four of them with his magic energy.
He was constantly monitoring their stats and their STR, INT, MGC, and DEX were steadily increasing at rapid speeds towards the millions in each session. Each session would last only about 2 hours and in those two hours, their screams would never cease.
Clay estimated that by the time he finished with them in a month, they'd have stats that go over at least 10 million.
"This should be enough to ascend with a decent enough power afterwards. Stronger that even Azarael when he had all that miasma collected in his body."
This training session lasted for a month and each day, would be more torturous than the previous. By the time they finished. Caltec, Isaac, Jon and Mor all had faces as serene as the night. As if they were unfeeling. However, their trembling betrayed what they had inside their minds. They feared the pain they had to endure yet again. However, they did not protest. They willingly gritted their teeth in order to be granted with power that would enable them to do their utmost in protecting their loved ones, their home and the peace they had built.
It was a month later that Clay decided to make them ascend. The place he chose as the ascension site was the peak of Moribor. He leveled the inside of the top of the mountain to make some space for them to proceed with the Ritual. The Moribor peak was now hollow as the space Clay decided to flatten was the interior of the peak.
Inside, Clay was standing a few meters away from the four of them. They were also separated by at least ten meters apart. Clay would work on them one by one from now on.
When the time came, Clay proceeded with the Ritual. And just like how he ascended it may take them a year at most or years if they are slow.
Clay snapped his finger and a household golem appeared beside him. He assigned this golem to take care of the four of them and this site for as long as they are yet awake before leaving.
At Claiomh, he assigned Yorna to be the temporary Mayor for as long as Isaac was training. He told her to relay to the families – the original families – that the four of them were training and that they will be absent from Claiomh for an indefinite amount of time. Just as Clay will also be gone.
"It is up to you to manage the entire city. Giselle will help manage the Empire, so you don't need to worry about it, just take care of this city and the original family. Here are some ideas that you may implement in this city first and expand and spread it to the empire later.
"Infrastructure, energy source, magic tools development, plans for world unification and magic techniques for the Elementalists and recipes for Alchemists.
"It should last you some 50 years or so until you finish all of these plans altogether. Exhausting this would put you to step into the future. I look forward to it when I come back."
Without staying longer, Clay disappeared while Yorna was looking at the documents. It was a stack of over 5 meters of paper, all plans for the future of Claiomh. Clay was planning to disappear and leave after his retainers were done with their ascension.
A few years later, Clay and Giselle and Ryan were sitting on a dining table inside their palace.
The food was aromatic and pleasing to the eyes. Giselle and Ryan were already eating, and Clay was simply enjoying this view. His fondness of Giselle had grown to an affectious stage already and love was clearly seen in his eyes these days. However, along with the love and yearning in his eyes for them, his family, there was also worry.
Giselle who was quite perceptive of Clay's micro expressions asked him.
"What troubles you my Lord you have yet to touch your food?"
"Ah! I was just enjoying the view of you and my son, eating peacefully and hope that it will continue to be so. The Demon Realm Emperor has already visited, the Dragonkin Emperor as well. The King of the Beast Prairie also graced us with his presence a few months ago. They have expressed their wish to unite with us one way or another.
"Ryan is already a young man. Right son? He is at a marriageable age and so I have arranged for him and the daughter of the Dragonkin emperor, Kezel to be wed this coming year. The Dragon emperor expressed his desire to unite us through the bond of marriage, obviously.
"The King of the Beast Prairie also expressed this; however, Ryan is only one, and their pride would not allow their princess to be merely a mistress. So, I've arranged for Caltec's son, who has now grown to be younger than Ryan a few years to marry their daughter. I have already arranged this for them, Caltec will not object.
"The Demon Empress though, has expressed unity in the form of marriage with me. I need your opinion on this, Giselle." Clay stopped talking and waited for Giselle to voice her opinion.
"My Lord, there is absolutely no problem for one such as yourself to have as many wives as you can. It is only natural that such a grand Emperor should have many heirs. In fact, Ryan has been such a blessing to us already and more like him should secure your Empire for eternity.
"So, marrying the Demon Empress and possibly having children with her will also be a glorious achievement for your Empire. That is my opinion." Giselle stopped talking up to here and continued eating with a smile.
"I see. However, having children is already out of the question. It seems that with my power, the ability to sire children has been lost in me. I mean we have tried time and again to produce another heir, however my constitution no longer permits me to have children. This is the price I must pay for the power I now possess. It cannot be remedied. That is why, it must be better to marry the Demon Empress with Ryan instead. Even as a mistress, she should be suitable for him. What say you, son?" Clay asked for Ryan's opinion. It was not because he wanted Ryan to decline but because Ryan too knew Clay's circumstance. After all, he was the only one who knew of Clays condition after Clay confided in him, entrusting Alleucanth to him.
"Father, there're no objections from me if it is your will. I shall obey."
Clay chuckled and soon began to laugh. He was glad that his son was someone he could talk to as an equal when they were in private. If not, he'd have no one to talk to and whine with.
"It is decided then!"
Another year passed and movement from the peak of Moribor alerted Clay, disappearing as he felt the movement.
Arriving instantly at the hollowed peak, Clay found Isaac first who was now floating in the air and looking at him curiously. After a few seconds of confusion, he immediately recognized Clay and descended to the ground to bow before him.
"Your subject, greets the Lord!"
Clay felt Isaac's power overflowing and surely, even those that are in hiding all over the world, could feel even a faint trace of this power. In fact, even the gods should have felt this power.
"Isaac. You have done well. Suppress your energy to the maximum level. Do not let it leak lest you freeze the people you are supposed to be protecting." With a laugh, Clay patted Isaac's shoulders and told him to suppress his power.
Isaac had looked like a pure ice spirit earlier. He was emitting unbelievable amounts of frost energy and his spiritual body was indeed ice-based. Clay could also feel that his connection to the Spirit Realm had gotten better and in fact, the Spirit King of Frost now stood almost as Isaac's equal. After suppressing his powers, Isaac's human countenance returned, and he was relieved.
"Good. Let's wait for the others to awaken then." Said Clay. It was Isaac who he first made to ascend. Next was Caltec, then Jon and then Mor.
Not soon after, Caltec did finish his ascension and had a spiritual body that was geared more on close combat. His spiritual body looked like a monk's. The same procedure happened as with Isaac and Clay made him to suppress his energy.
Soon, Jon and then Mor also awakened.
Jon's spiritual body was a swordsman. Quite common, but still powerful. And Mor's was a Magician who wore heavy armor. Most probably a magic swordsman.
After this reunion, Clay had taken all of them to Apollo's Lair. By this time, Apollo's Lair had already been established for years and its facilities have become state-of-the-art. The insulation was at its greatest output and not even the heat from the core of the Sun could enter the mansion. The golems continued their work while the four of them were surprised.
"Sire, where is this?" Asked Isaac. He felt apprehensive of the place, naturally. As if he was standing inside the most dangerous place he could possibly be.
"This is my Lair, on the Sun. I made this a long time ago. I took you here, because from now on, I will entrust to you the world of Alleucanth. You will be its overseer, executioner, judge, and guide. I have in this Lair of mine plans and knowledge that can help you further guide the world into prospering into the future.
"You will have access to all my golems here after I turn over the ownership to the four of you.
"I am telling you this because I am leaving Alleucanth and search for power in this massive universe. My adventure will take so much time that by the time I return, I don't even know if you'd still be alive. That is why, strive to lead Alleucanth and its people into the future.
"The gods may try to stop you because we've ruined their game, however, we shall not – "Just as Clay was giving that impassioned speech, he felt a movement near the skies of Moribor. A massive energy signature that even the Demon Azarael, could not compare to.
The same feeling of dread turned Clay's body almost into jelly while the four of them were already on the ground. Even when far away, they still felt the dread.
This feeling of dread was the same as when Clay came inside the Forbidden Chamber to meet the Lich god, when he was yet ascended. When he had ascended, he did not feel this again even when he met the Lich god again right after.
But now, he was feeling dread even more than when he encountered the Lich god for the first time! Just what could have caused this. However, Clay could not stay still. He perceived that this massive energy was not going to be dispersed but instead aimed and fired and the only target that is close to Moribor was Claiomh.
"This is bad!" Clay knew that his apprehension was right on the ball. Immediately he teleported right at the peak of Moribor and finally, the dread he felt took on physical form.
"Ah~ There you are. I couldn't find you anywhere in Alleucanth. I thought you went and died from just my manifestation. Do you know why I'm here?" said the physical form that the being in front of Clay.
"You are Sa– "before Clay finished pronouncing his name, Safir, the god of humanity hushed him.
"Hush! Do not mention my name lowly mortal. Have I not told you already? I told you like it was just yesterday to not lightly mention my name. Have you forgotten?" Clay stared at him in dread. He really felt like his insides were going to burst from the fear that he was feeling.
"Since you are keeping quiet, I shall answer my question then~
"I came here to punish the champion I have sent here to do my bidding. Since it was doing things not according to what I had in mind. You see, I asked my champion to destroy the other races and beat them to a pulp so that I would win, and the other gods would bow down before me and my power.
"However, my champion instead united the whole world and would not start to live according to peace. I predict that this peace would last for about a few hundred years with the insurances that you've already planned out and put in place am I right?
"My anger is consuming me, and I cannot let this go any further!
"You have given me no other choice! I shall destroy you and summon another hero that's right for my taste. And this time, I shall make it my slave! Damn you! Wasting my divinity on useless scum like you!"
After saying up to that point, the manifestation of Safir, the swirling clouds in the sky started to churn and coagulate. It turns into something else as a hole opened at its center and a bright light threatened to swallow the world with it from it.
"I shall destroy everything you've built so far, and I will kill you!
without further explanation and chances to converse, Safir brought his already raised hand down abruptly which corresponded to the movement inside the hole in the sky.
A bright light immediately beamed towards Claiomh along with the whole Moribor mountain where Clay was. Swallowing the entirety of Claiomh and even the periphery.
Clay's anguished voice resounded, "No!" as he circulated all the means he had all the power that he swore never to use for fear of going out of control. Everything he had, he dished out to resist this dreadful attack from one of the gods. The beam reached Clay first and he was almost completely crushed had it not been for his ascended power and skills.
Clay's mind was flooded with images of Ryan and Giselle who were at home probably teaching each other magic. The family of his four subordinates still going on with their daily duties happily and dutifully.
The citizens that put their trust on Clay the moment they moved to Claiomh. The countless lives that were going to be lost from this one attack of Safir. He was powerless to stop it. Even with the powers he attained it was not enough to resist a god.
Tears started to flow from Clay's eyes. He felt despair from being powerless against Safir. He also did not expect this god to be this malicious as to kill him and even those that were innocent. Tears continued to flow as Clay howled while clasping that Energy Beam from the sky in his embrace.
He did not want to let go, however, even if he did not, his body had already started to dissolve. It was as if this beam of light was separate from the laws of the world. Heat should not affect him, magic should follow his will and yet, it did not yield to him no matter how hard he tried.
"No!" Clay continued to shout "No" in denial of the fact that he could not stop this. Resisting till the last moment.
Safir showed up only for about 5 seconds from his manifestation to the conversation they had and the attack. In only five seconds, Clay was rendered powerless and incapable. In that 5 seconds, the lives of close to a million citizens would perish along with his child and wife.
Clay had hope that Ryan would be able to use his Space-Time Magic to run away, but not even Ryan could resist this beam as even after he used Time Stopping magic, it continued without being hindered at all. Only the sound of glass breaking as spell after spell was broken which only added to Clay's despair.
Clay was desperate but he did not have anything he could use to save his people. There was only one thing he could do now. That was to run away. And even this idea was something he rejected again and again. With his Space-Time Magic spell of Teleport, he could go to Evernight, the only other planet he could teleport to as he did not have any other coordinates. His magic was not restricted, and his energy was constantly being replenished by his reactor skills. It was possible to run away.
Time seemed to have slowed down for Clay to think it through again and again. And each scenario that he could think off, he would die and even his family died and people he cared for died. That was an unavoidable outcome, however, there was an outcome that did not involve him dying with them as well, giving him the chance to avenge his family and loved ones.
Yes, that was if he ran away.
Tears continued to drop from Clay's eyes as these thoughts continued to run in his mind.
"Will they forgive me?"
"Will I be able to avenge them?"
"Will I be strong enough?"
Questions upon questions sprung up and he denied each with a definite answer.
They'd not forgive me. Definitely.
I would not be able to avenge them. Certainly.
I won't be strong enough. Unfortunately.
Yet every time he reached that conclusion, somewhere in his heart, a hope was always budding.
You'll be fine. You'll be able to avenge them. You'll be able to punish them. No matter what it takes, no matter how long it takes. You will. If you are alive.
If you are alive.
When that line, "If you are alive" finally stuck itself on Clay's mind. He had made the decision. His expression turned cold and unfeeling. It was as if his warm and easy-going attitude was erased from existence. He executed Teleport right as he was pushed by the beam for the last time.
Clay's struggle only lasted for 1 second. And the beam, now unhindered by Clay punched through its target and cleansed the whole city of Claiomh.
Without knowing what happened. They only saw the disturbance in the sky and then the shine of the beam before they all turned into nothing. Citizen, Adventurer, Mercenary, Original Family, Imperial Family… no one was spared.
The aftermath was of no concern to Safir. He was going to summon another hero anyway.
However, the uniqueness of Safir's attack was that it only took the lives of people, not affecting the physical surroundings. And so, the city of Claiomh Solais, became a ghost town without anyone in it.
Not until four men arrived at a secret room inside the Imperial palace. Four men who despaired. Four men who witnessed what their Lord had done for them.
They were ascended beings. Their perception and sense were exceptional. Even now, they still felt the dread even when they knew that the being that manifested was already gone.
Their Lord faced that annihilation head on to protect them, and even he failed and vanished in the face of that overwhelming power.
They could not hold on and tears also started to stream from their eyes… The loss of their families and the pain of losing even their Lord… they were in so much pain.
Jon and Mor started wailing and banging the floor as they kneeled and cried. Isaac had been holding back his tears as he stood however, he still succumbed to it, nevertheless. Caltec on the other hand started to punish himself by banging his head on the sturdy walls that their Lord had made for their city. All for them.
He was furious at himself for being powerless, useless. The same went for the rest. Their cries filled the city of Claiomh with wails and as if offering their tears to the lost, they continued even until after a few days had passed.
They understood… Clay, their Lord was no more. And their loved ones were no more. However, the Empire was still dependent on them. And their Lord had given them one last order before he sacrificed himself for them. He said to lead, guide, implement, execute plans and reformation that he'd planned out for the future of Alleucanth.
They will not fail him again. They all swore.