Book 8, Chapter 48

Crystallised Soul

Richard had the worker drones continue their excavation for the next two weeks, hiding himself in his laboratory and working on the giant’s heart until it was refined into a finger-sized clear crystal that held all of the life force. Satisfied with his work, he took out a silver armour piece and embedded the crystal within. However, just as the crystal and armour piece started to fuse, he heard a violent roar and blacked out!

It only took a moment to regain his sight, but Richard discovered that the entire mountain was shaking, broken boulders raining down from above. His rune knights and followers quickly looked up with alarm, many of them silently flaring up their auras to shatter the falling rocks. Even with their combined strength, a full mountain’s collapse would kill a majority of those present.

However, Asiris suddenly let out a sharp cry and slowed the trembling significantly. Richard recognised a spell that intimidated souls, useful against ghosts and other spectral beings. The tremors came from the resistance of the giant’s soul; even with the physical body eliminated, the soul had probably escaped back here. Given aeons of time, it would perhaps be reborn. Unfortunately, it had seen Richard turning its heart into a rune component and lost its composure, determined to bury all enemies in the belly of the mountain.

Asiris let out another shrill shout to ease the trembling further, but standing behind him Richard shook his head ever so slightly. The Dark Priest wasn’t accomplished enough in the domain of souls; were Nyra here, she would have pulled the giant’s soul out from its hiding place and enslaved it. On the other hand, his spell was only suppressive in nature; it didn’t even do any real damage.

Richard himself walked to the fringe of the platform, lifting his left hand and pointing towards a section of the mountain, “Unwilling to accept our fate, are we? Since you chose to make me your enemy, this is the destiny you’re doomed to. Submit, or be destroyed.”

Countless blue sparks shot out of Richard’s open palm, looking almost alive as they flew around in beautiful arcs to trace out blue threads. All the followers, even Asiris himself, felt like these sparks were only ethereal without an ounce of power, but the giant’s roars quickly transformed into a cry of surprise. A phantom was revealed in the sky, starting to crackle and burn as it made contact with the sparks.

The surprise quickly turned to pain, and then fear. The giant’s soul tried to escape, but even as it tried to push away the sparks with several fragmented images even more surrounded it and started burning it up. The blue flames seemed to be nothing in the face of the hundred-metre tall phantom, but they quickly shrank the soul down before turning it into a sapphire that fell into Richard’s palm.

Absolute silence filled the hall as Richard’s followers stared at the gem that was now in Richard’s hands. Asiris shivered, suddenly realising that his robes were drenched in sweat. He also felt a sense of powerlessness, as though he had just awoken from a nightmare that had lasted all night.

He suddenly realised that this was fear. Fear… The Dark Priest thought he had already forgotten what that was. Even death, the eternal slumber, didn’t inspire even the slightest bit of fear in him. Even facing monsters like Gaton and Mordred, he had the courage to battle to the death. However, now he was feeling terrified, like he would never be able to bring himself to actually fight Richard even if his life depended on it!

Those dazzling blue sparks had managed to confine and then crystallise a soul, something that was supposed to be the exclusive domain of the gods. Asiris suddenly felt like he no longer knew Richard; was this the same young man he’d met all those years ago, eyes full of stubbornness yet too shy to even speak? Only those like him who had experience with the realm of the soul would know how terrifying this was. Even the flames from the star of destruction could only destroy souls, not capture them like Richard had. There was only one possibility behind such an ability, an ancient taboo the very thought of which caused him to shudder in fear.

Holding onto the crystal that was the giant’s soul, Richard felt a connection to a new law, one of size and power that would put him on the path of the ancient titans. He was rather surprised by this discovery; it was one thing to be able to extract a target’s laws from their soul after killing them, but refining that soul into a solid crystal containing fragments of those laws was entirely different. It was a frightening display that left his followers unable to mask their instinctive vigilance, with the rune knights looking confused at the sense of danger they felt subconsciously.

However, it was Asiris’s expression that drew Richard’s attention the most, the Dark Priest’s mixture of fright and recognition stunning him for a moment. Did he know about soul hunters, and had he sensed something despite the ability being hidden in the sparks?

Thankfully, he managed to keep the alarm off his own face, calmly stowing the crystallised soul away while acting calm as usual, “Everything’s back to normal, continue exploring. But be careful, there might be more enemies hidden around.”

The spell formation in the hall continued to run, constantly absorbing the origin energy of Faelor. However, the broodmother had already ingested the skeletons, and replacing them were numerous large eggs derived from the skeletons of the giant and the astral beast. It took three whole days to digest the latter even with Richard taking away the skull in hopes of analysing some of the laws behind its disintegrating gaze, but she was already far into her analysis. The eggs would hatch in roughly a month.

In the scant few days she had been here, the broodmother had already formed a small larval forest nearby. There was an enormous cocoon within even larger than a flying chrysalis that she was nurturing herself, but the contents of it were unknown.

Richard began work on his endless list of tasks, currently analysing the inner structure of the mountain that was being revealed by the worker drones. He took quite a while performing calculations to see where exactly the plane’s origin energy was flowing, eventually marking his estimated direction on the map. Once he had graphed all of his options, he sent orders to the cloned brains to have the workers dig down in that direction.

This particular task didn’t take very long, so once he was done he started working on another piece of Midren’s battle edition. This one was built around the godsblood, the foundation alone taking more than a hundred steps, but he finished it all in half a month with no mistakes at all. Just as he was about to move on to the next crystal of godsblood, news came from the worker drones that they had found an underground passage; his vision connecting to one through the cloned brain, he saw the same corridor that Runai had once walked.

Richard instantly noticed the abyssal architecture to the corridor, and with everything else he had seen he could confirm that the demons were the source of the strangeness in the Genesis. Ordering the workers to widen the passage leading there, he gathered his followers and rune knights before blinking over.

The moment the party arrived, a dozen workers rushed into the long corridor and were met by a number of lesser demons that had blinked in from an unknown location. There were more than a hundred demons that were around level 6 or 7, but the drones were completely unafraid of death and tried to use their acid and stingers to kill the opponents.

Richard raised his hand, sparks floating on his palm as he prepared to attack, but the entire corridor started pulsing in a set rhythm. It distracted him so much that the sparks dissipated, and he even left himself completely defenseless.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA