Before stepping out into the open, the young apprentice mage boosted himself with more than half a dozen defensive spells. There was an ancient magic array protecting the interior of the castle, but the terrace did not have the same. While the entire demiplane was protected by the surrounding barrier, a part of the energy from the storms outside still managed to seep in. Even a small amount was fatal to anyone who wasn’t a grand mage; ordinary people would die in a few minutes with even their souls extinguished. Of course, even grand mages weren’t completely immune; they could only last an hour themselves.
While the Scholars of Soremburg had a number of special techniques to help mitigate the damage, more than five minutes outside would still be harmful to both body and soul. Whenever he ventured outside, the youth was always filled with respect for the old mage on the terrace. The man frequently studied his tomes out there, staying for days at a time.
The apprentice hurried over to the old mage and placed the magic paper on the table before him, “My Lord, the mirror sent a message.”
“A message?” the old mage was startled, taking the paper immediately. Skimming over it and frowning, he looked over at the youth, “You did well; being the one to receive this news is a form of destiny. How about this— head over to Grand Scholar Rhodey; if you can pass his test, he will take you under his wing.”
“Thank you, my Lord!” the youth said with enthusiasm, rushing back into the castle. In the meanwhile, the old mage composed himself and read through the magic paper repeatedly until it yellowed from the radiation, crumbling to ashes. A frown now plastered across his face, he sighed and slowly stood up.
By this point, the apprentice knocked on the door to one of the castle’s towers, the residence and library of Rhodey. The Grand Scholar was a middle-aged man who was known for being stern, inspiring fear in all his underlings. However, Rhodey only nodded as the youth stated the reason for his arrival, bringing him up several floors before activating a portal array.
“Go in, this is your test. So long as you make it out, you’ll become my personal apprentice,” the Scholar said expressionlessly.
The youth nodded hard, not even asking for more information as he gripped his staff and barely walked inside. Even a test like this was nearly impossible to come by in the castle, and he wanted to use the chance to impress. The old black stone of the castle slowly faded away, the world distorting until he was on the other side.
When he saw the test waiting for him, the youth promptly shrieked. The sky here was dark red, with dense lava flowing across the earth and a pungent smell of sulphur burning his nostrils. Black shadows were pouncing in and out of the flames, gravitating towards servants crawling around on the ground. While the youth had never been to this place before, he had heard it described to him so many times that the surroundings couldn’t be more familiar.
This was the abyss!
The youth almost couldn’t believe his own eyes. He was merely a level 12 mage, how could he survive the abyss? This was supposed to be a test! Forget taking on demons, just the environment of the abyss would be enough to kill him!
On top of all this, the youth was still suspended high up in the sky. The magic from the portal had yet to fade and kept him in place, but that power was quickly diminishing and letting him sink downwards. He screamed in despair as his mana refused to move at all, even his limbs frozen with fear. He was hundreds of metres in the sky, but even if the fall somehow didn’t kill him the lava and demons would.
Although eager, the youth was still a genius in the outer world. He immediately understood that this had all happened because of the message in the mirror. While he didn’t know what the message itself was, he did have all of the symbols in memory. The old mage had sent him to Rhodey not for a test but to kill him, just so the string of fate between the message and the Scholars could be severed.
“YOU BASTARDS!” he screamed with hatred as he fell to his certain demise.
However, his body suddenly came to a stop. An enormous hand grabbed him by the nape, and while he couldn’t see anything a thunderous voice resounded from behind him, “This one looks interesting, so many destinies he’s tied to!”
Within the castle at the heart of the energy storm, the old mage walked into a secret room. The hall was circular and contained thirteen seats placed in a ring, the number said to be special to their founder. The current interpretation was a belief that the world was governed by laws, but the laws themselves were an illusion. However, the interpretation had changed many times in the organisation’s history.
Every one of the seats was a high-backed armchair, the base completely solid while the backrest was filled with ornamentation. This was a style used by the popes of churches, the base representing the foundation of faith while the decorations on the back were meant to be in praise of the deity. However, these backrests were designed differently from the arched ones supported by beams; they contained carvings of all sorts of creatures from demons to elegant celestials.
The old mage activated a magic array in the room and took his seat, the room gradually filling up with mana until the rhomboidal gems on each of the other chairs started to glow brightly. In a few minutes, holograms of varying shapes and sizes occupied most of the remaining seats, some not human or even close. The door quickly opened, and Rhodey entered and sat down on one himself.
As the two exchanged glances, a soft nod from Rhodey left the old mage much more relaxed than before. Eventually, the remaining figures grew more distinct and stabilised; outside of one single chair that remained empty, all of the rest were occupied.
Everyone turned to the inscription of a book and pen in the centre of the hall as a round, ball-like figure spoke up, “Acting Lord, Grand Scholar, a full emergency meeting hasn’t been called in years.”
The old mage who was the acting lord of the castle nodded, “We received a message that a new seed of war and destruction has been found on Faelor, a subordinate plane to Norland. It has just reached level 10 and awakened its truename.”
Nearly every figure in the hall trembled a bit in surprise.
“A new broodmother? In all the centuries!”
”And awakening its truename at level 10 as well. This one is much more valuable than average.”
“It will progress our research into the Darkness greatly. We might even be able to jump an entire era in knowledge!”
As everyone started to chime in, a figure that looked like a giant beast spoke up, “Our development has stagnated in the past few centuries, and many resources have grown unstable. I cannot call on more manpower to safekeep these materials; the broodmother would solve all of these problems.”
“The seed provides great research value!” a human snorted, “How can we allow it to remain a mere source of soldiers? That will slow our research.”
“Losing our resources will still slow your research!” the beast snarled, “We currently have 62 unstable nodes, your supply of green sulphur crystals will drop by 71% in the next three decades!”
“Cough!” a shrivelled old figure suddenly interrupted with a few coughs, immediately garnering silence as a hoarse voice sounded, “History has warned us countless times that every broodmother is backed by a powerful organisation. Countless strings of fate are tied to it, and for this one to awaken at level 10 should only make us more cautious. Prudence will do us no harm; has the string of fate been severed?”
“The apprentice has already been tossed into the abyss,” Rhodey answered, “We did not kill him directly, nor did we receive the information ourselves. No prophets will be able to discover us.”
“Good… It’s just a pity about the apprentice…” the thin figure nodded in satisfaction.
“Such is his fate,” the acting lord of the castle dismissed the sentiment. Everyone else in the room indicated their agreement.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA