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CHAPTER 87

ASHEN EMPEROR

Dark skies trembled slightly as a palm-sized vortexes spun ceaselessly beneath them. They appeared to be devouring the light the sun cast, spitting it out on the other side in the form of obsidian fog which covered the entirety of a massive basin. Towers made entirely out of obsidian stone rose around these vortexes, woven into the large-scale city of crisscrossing roads and absolute darkness. The atmosphere was well beyond being simply eerie and desolate, and was more akin to absolute suffocation of life. Were an ordinary mortal even to gaze upon the sight, there’s no doubt their soul would immediately be plundered.

Though appearing random, the tall towers were built in a pre-planned manner, forming a massive formation that encompassed the entire city. If one looked at it from far above, a shape of three inverse triangles connected to the central point. In-between ran a cross, which then further split at the edges, connecting to the edges of triangles.

At the central point, where all of the formation converged, was the tallest tower which, much like vortexes above, ceaselessly spat out black gas from its openings. There wasn’t even an ounce of light anywhere near or inside of it, and it appeared to be bereft of life. However, it was not so.

Deep within the tower, around its midway point, was a grand hall embroiled with skeletal statues of hundreds of different beasts, and purely obsidian statues of various devils. The statues were formed in a half-circle, all pointing toward a singular point of the hall - the throne. The throne was stacked with bones, yet its seating and splat were made out of rough, meteorite stone. The bones around the throne stacked outwardly, as though mimicking a birth of a world-ending shockwave. They protruded like glaciers and icicles, yet their dark, silvery hue hardly matched the former’s beauty.

Atop the throne sat a pale-looking youth, appearing to be no older than twenty-five. Though pale, he seemed rather handsome, and the pair of blue eyes were like stark gems in the world of darkness, sparkling with radiance beyond reason. He was entirely cloaked in shadows from neck down to his toes to the point that one was unable to discern his body.

His hair had turned into withering white and it fell softly over his shoulders as a crown made out of hellfire rested atop of his head, burning eternally in black haze. The youth’s expression was that of indifference and distance as he observed four Demons kneeling before him. All four Demons were actually Great Demons and they were already at the pinnacle of Purity Realm, yet they felt neither shame nor unwillingness when bowing before the strange youth.

“Interesting,” the youth suddenly mumbled, his voice echoing through the hall. “I was not wrong. He’s still here.” the four Demons dared not speak and merely listened in silence. “Which means that she’s here as well. Interesting indeed.” his thin lips suddenly curled up in a sudden smile as his entire body vanished from the spot. The four Demons still remained kneeling, though, as though awaiting his return.

The youth was none other than Prince Yox of Umbra Kingdom who had since sold his soul entirely to the Devils. None of his human disposition remained, and if one were to peer beneath his flesh, they’d see nothing but ever-rotating darkness. Souls of humans and devils were starkly different; rather, souls of all races were different, as they were borne of different ideas and concepts. Devils were born directly of Devil Qi, which was the complete opposite of Gaia Qi; though not inherently ‘evil’ in any way, shape or form, due to the precedent that Gaia was Light, Devils themselves, in opposition, chose the sigil of Darkness and bore it with pride.

Prince Yox - now known as Ashen Emperor - clipped through the void and appeared on the topmost floor of the central tower. There, unlike his own hall, the room was far simpler; save for a few bookshelves, chairs and tables, there were no statues and no throne. However, the pressure exuded by this simple room was perhaps tens of thousands of time grander than that of his own hall. Yox could do nothing but immediately fall on on knee and bow his head as he stared at the figure across from him. It was a two-horned Devil with scaled skin and bulging muscles across his body. His face was extruded akin to horse’s, while his two eyes lacked pupils and were entirely black.

“Grandmaster.” Yox spoke humbly.

“Hm? Ashen Emperor, why have you come here?” though the voice appeared calm and indifferent, it bore directly into Yox’s soul, shaking him from within.

“I implore a favor from Your Majesty.”

“You wish to lead the expedition against Man?” the Devil asked.

“Yes.”

“... I cannot permit that.”

“...” Yox held back from shouting, choosing his words carefully. “May I ask why?”

“Your hatred,” the Devil replied. “It will bear you death.”

“My hatred?”

“Toward that boy,” the Devil elaborated. “You are not someone who can stand in his path.”

“...” to say Yox was shocked would be an understatement. He had already considered that boy a fly, and he merely wished to go out to settle past scores and retrieve Freya from the boy’s clutches. Being told, however, that he was not the boy’s match - despite already having ascended to Illumine Realm - ate away at him like a soul-devouring worm.

“Don’t be indignant,” the Devil, naturally, was able to perceive any and all emotional changes within Yox. However, he hardly cared; the only reason he even spoke to the youth before him was because, surprisingly, the youth bore ever-rare <Innate Devil Qi> body, despite being a human initially. Though not exactly unique or even the strongest body for Devil Qi cultivation, it was still a lucky find in the middle of nowhere. Some time in the far distant future, he even had a chance of becoming a Variant. “Even I do not possess the right to stand in his path.”

“G-grandmaster?!” Yox was unable to hold it in any longer. If the Devil before him said that Yox had no right, though he’d be unwilling, he’d still accept it one way or another. But to say that even his Master - a God-Devil Variant - had no right to stand in that fly’s path, how could Yox accept it?

“That boy...” the Devil spoke, sighing faintly as he walked over to one of the bookshelves and picked up a tattered and worn book. “Will one day change the world, Ashen Emperor. Not a realm, not a kingdom, not a mere dynasty - but the entire world. He is not someone either one of us can measure against. You have already learned of the Writs, have you not?”

“... I have, Grandmaster,” Yox spoke. “There are Seven of them, and each embodies one of Seven Origin Principles of Existence.”

“Indeed,” the Devil nodded. “Of the Seven, which do you think is the most powerful?”

“...” Yox fell into a temporary silence; though he wanted to say it was Aphotic Writ - Writ of Darkness - he was unable to. “I... I am not certain, Grandmaster. Perhaps... Writ of Nihility?”

“... hmm, nihility is indeed a concept that’s hard to surpass,” the Devil said. “However, it is not the strongest. While it embodies the concept of nothingness, there is feasibly nobody who can comprehend it. Even the Writ’s Will cannot comprehend its own concept. Nothingness does not exist, after all.”

“Then, which one is it?” Yox asked.

“Canorous Writ,” the Devil said. “Writ of Spoken Word. Its prowess is something that even Gaia fears. Thus, she imposed the greatest restrictions upon its bearer. The latter is unable to even leave the Realm of Heavens, forever entombed in that hellhole.” the Devil sighed for a moment, shaking his head. “Though, even if it’s inherently most powerful, and can through sheer force gain temporary control of other Writs, there is one that it cannot move no matter what.”

“... Empyrean Writ?” Yox ventured a guess. Surprisingly, within the Library he had access to, while other Writs were described in great detail, there was very little information on Empyrean Writ.

“Yes,” the Devil said, his eyes flashing with strange gleam. “Writ of Chaos. Even Spoken Word came from somewhere, and it cannot command that which it came from - the Chaos itself. Even Gaia, regardless of her prowess, cannot command the Empyrean Writ. Perhaps... perhaps even the First Scripture couldn’t do so. Chaos, after all, is everlasting,” the Devil continued. “Even before the Writ’s Will was formed, Chaos ought to have existed. It is just that it lacked a representative. Things cannot be born from nothing; equivalent energy is always necessary. Which means that energy pool large enough to form an entire world and all its subsidiary dimensions had to have existed before the descent of the First Scripture and the Writs. And that energy was most-likely a purely chaotic one.”

“...” Yox already had a vague idea as to why the Grandmaster chose to speak about this, but that vague idea had further sent him down the spiral of madness.

“You must have already understood, and you are right. That boy is the bearer of <Empyrean Writ>. The embodiment of Chaos in the ocean of Order. You must understand, little one, that even us - the Devils - and our Devil Qi - are entirely bound by Order. Though we oppose Gaia, we are unable to break away from its claws entirely. Even the Origin Father isn’t powerful enough to separate the chains which bind him to the Source. However, Empyrean Writ has already done so, eons ago; it not only separated itself from Gaia, but it also slashed its connection to the First Scripture, which supposedly gave it birth. Tell me now, little one, is that the sort of figure you wish to entangle yourself with?”

Yox mumbled indescribably for a moment before bowing deeply and leaving. The moment he left, the Devil’s indifferent expression changed as his thin lips curled up in a vicious grin. Abandon the pursuit of the boy? Impossible! The Devil knew Yox’s heart better than Yox himself. Even if he had entirely converted to a Devil now, he still grew up a human and has been a human for over twenty years of his life. If there’s one thing that even Devils had to admit humans were far superior in, it was incessant greed! Greed that could topple Kingdoms and Empires within a night! Though the young Prince had been reborn, he was still at the very bottom of all Devils, looking up at the wall he couldn’t surmount no matter how hard he tried. How tempting was something like the <Empyrean Writ> to him?

Devil’s eyes suddenly flashed for a moment as he sighed, shaking his head. Though I can’t make a move against the boy, he thought, putting the book down. Do you really think all of us will bow down to an absolute nobody, Father? Your words are Devils’ Creed, but, in the end, nothing is an absolute law in this world. If we bow down before the Writ, how are we any different than those six slaving away in Heaven’s Realm for eons without seeing even the sun? You deemed it worthy to sacrifice millions of children for this boy... do you think everyone would blindly bow before you and accept it? You’ve grown weak, Father. Too weak to lead us to the apex of this world... and beyond...

With the incentive of the <Empyrean Writ>, the Devil knew Yox was currently mulling over how to get it. No matter how strong the boy was, or how much potential he held, so long as he was dealt with early on, it would all be but a puff of smoke. The Devil, as many other like-minded ones, knew that this was the last straw; considering their Origin Father’s action, it really showed that the Writ was throwing all eggs in the basket of this boy. If this time it also turned into a failure, Writ would most-likely either surrender himself over to Gaia, or perish in the infinite symphony of time. In the grand scheme of things, even if Writ perished, it wouldn’t change much of the world’s current order; while it would prevent Gaia from breaching past the barrier in the near future, the breach itself was already inevitability. With six Holy Writs working in concert tirelessly, no matter how profound the Barrier of the World is, it would eventually crash and crumble. We have to plan it well, the Devil thought as his memory flashed back to the deep abyss past which no living soul could tread. From what I know, besides Origin Father, four out of six Ancestral Devils, eleven out of sixteen Primal Elders and sixty out of seventy-four Grand Elders are in support of the boy. Perhaps even boy’s death wouldn’t force them to turn over to our side; if we don’t stand united, we can’t win against Gaia. Haii, I wonder if Master has had any luck locating [Codex of Banishment]...

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beddedOtaku

Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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