A span of over nine years has taught Lino many things; large period of it was spent in isolation and soul-binding silence, one that drove him near the edges of complete madness, and ever since he walked out of it, he found it quite difficult to readjust to the bustle and hustle of the large cities with a lot of people. In his early days spent in the City of Sun, he mainly remained withdrawn, as loud, scattered noises caused weeping headaches to assail him.
As days, months and years passed, though, he’d gotten more and more used to it all. Perhaps the greatest of rewards, however, of the nine years he’d spent the way he did was knowledge - not only external, factual one, but also one of human nature. As for the former, however, he himself was somewhat of a library now with the amount of knowledge he possessed, ranging from encapsulating events of different eras and figures which reshaped the world.
He first came across the mention of the ‘Forgotten Kingdom’ eight months ago when he snuck into the Palace’s restricted library. There wasn’t a lot of information, but as it piqued his interest, he wished to scour about it a bit more when the Writ informed him he knew far more than any library in the world... as he lived through it.
It was mainly through the Writ that Lino learned of the Oreb Kingdom, its history, rise and fall as well as events and figures which attributed to it being such a lavish part of continent’s history. One has to know that the current era, Warring Era, has been going on for over one and a half billion years; that is to say that the Forgotten Kingdom itself existed prior to this period, including all people who inhabited it back then.
He well understood Felix’s reaction, as he was quite similar when he first learned it all. More so than anything else, over the past two years, he’d understood just how much of a ‘taboo’ even a mention of anything Empyrean-related was. Even here, tens of thousands of miles away from the shores of Central Continent, and hundreds of thousands of miles away from the shores of Holy Continent, most people in the up-and-up end of society were aware of, if nothing else, Empyrean’s evil nature.
Erdicth was actually an exception rather than the norm and it was only so due to his encounter with Eshen. When others were added in the picture, it formed a rather one-lined notion of hostility rather than any form of reverence. He hadn’t any notion of informing Felix - or anyone else for that matter - of who he was. Empyrean Evil has transformed into this monolithic belief upheld by everyone and everything, and no amount of ‘evidence’ would change it as such any time soon.
He knew very well that if he was to disclose his identity, he would be hunted like a rabid dog almost immediately by everyone on the continent, weak or strong alike, as it was associated with the sort of ‘traditional honor’ of heroism, as most books depicting any form of a battle against Empyreans denoted the opposing side as heroes of the age devout to and marked by light and life themselves.
Victors, indeed, wrote histories in the end; as Gaia herself and other Writs sit atop the World’s Throne, they can disperse any information they wish at will and others would have no choice but to accept it as one and only truth. Only now did he fully understand the weight of Fae’s warning a long time ago over how he should keep who he was hidden. He fervently believed that no small amount of luck played part in his identity remaining secret for so long.
With his interests ignited, he began learning more and more about the Forgotten Kingdom, which is when he first realized that some ruins may have remained on the current area of Demonic Battlefield. It was really only after Emperor Althone informed him of them that his guesses were proven right. However, he wasn’t interested in the ruins for the reasons most others were - which ranged from Legendary Artifacts to cultivation methods and technologies - but for the reasons privy only to select few.
He was quite certain that even Emperor Althone wasn’t aware of the complete story behind the Forgotten Kingdom, and that he truly believed it was at one point merely a powerhouse which happened to have some connection to Empyrean Writ that was overwhelmed by someone, leaving behind numerous legacies. However, he doubted no one else was aware of the truth behind it all - specifically the enigmatic figure that went by a simple name: Damian.
Even he, with all avenues of knowledge at his disposal, knew very little about the man. From what Lino read and learned, Damian rose to power approximately half a millennium ago, partly due to his charismatic order of leadership and partly due to his insane battle prowess which allowed him to leap as many as six realms of difference when battling.
Ever since the initial rise, he’d fallen somewhat dormant when it came to public appearances, yet most still believed he was running the whole ordeal of Demonic Battlefield from behind the curtains. Lino considered him one of two major threats to his eventual journey over to the ruins, alongside one of the former Emperors of the Divine Dynasty: Arch Emperor Gustav.
Lino was more certain in the fact that Gustav knew most parts of the story behind the Forgotten Kingdom than Damian, and that all stemmed from a single fact: the man was at least 200 million years old. You do not grow that old in a world beset by wars with being reckless and headstrong, but by being cunning and knowledgeable to the extreme.
As he saw stunned Felix out, he returned back into his little shack and sat into the corner, pulling out a small, worn-out parchment from seemingly nowhere. He’d looked at the parchment hundred times over in the past two months after acquiring it, and it was one of the main reasons why he wanted to go to ruins in the first place.
The parchment denoted a simple image of a red-eyed woman kneeling before the sky, with the former’s entire armor having been nearly shredded to pieces. The kneeling woman was actually the last Empyrean of the Oreb Kingdom: Syvelea, Daughter of Gods.
According to the Writ, during the Last Battle for the Forgotten Kingdom,she managed to kill the other Bearers of Writs that attacked her, but as she’d overdrawn herself, she also died in the end. However, just before she did, the Writ managed to condense her entire essence into a Singularity. One of Lino’s goals was exactly finding that Singularity and ‘swallowing’ it, similarly to what happened with Eshen in the end.
“... is there really no way to speed up the recovery?” Lino asked, putting the parchment back into the void world.
“No.” the Writ replied without hesitation. “You have damaged your fundamentals, which require specific and slow means of recovery. If you were to involve external factors, it could potentially lead to permanent damage.”
“Ahh...” he sighed dejectedly. “One year is a long period of time. They might unearth it all before I even dare go over there.”
“I doubt it. Even finding a member with suitable bloodline to open the initial entrance may take up the entire year.”
“They can’t just grab anyone from the line to do it?” Lino asked, somewhat surprised.
“There were exactly four Major Royal Bloodlines, all of whom had different access to the Kingdom’s parts. However, only a member with all four Bloodlines could open up the Gates leading to the Kingdom without any external tools others used. And even back then, they were rarer than Dragons’ Hearts.”
“Interesting...” Lino mumbled, smiling faintly. “Let’s hope they don’t get too lucky in the process. Have you analyzed the Empire’s Artifact?”
“No. Due to having to devote majority of my function to your recovery, the remaining parts are inadequate which is why it’s taking so long. I estimate another half a year at minimum, bar from any other barriers being present.”
“They went to great lengths to conceal it,” Lino said, staring into the void. “Well above anyone else I’ve come across. I wonder what’s the reason? Fear of spies leaking information? Artifact is actually quite weak? Nah, it can’t be that simple.”
“Why did you tell that youth the truth? It might be dangerous if others come to know you were the source.”
“... I doubt he’ll spread it,” Lino said. “Besides, I’m banking on him at least alerting our dear Empress. This should give me a bargaining chip to talk to Seers eventually.”
“You shouldn’t trust too much the Dealers of Fate. All their knowledge on the subject comes from personal interpretation of vague notions.”
“... why are you so reluctant to talk about Fate anyway? It seems you two could be good friends.”
“... our goals do not align. Rather, you could say we stand on the opposite spectrums when it comes to our purposes.”
“So what? It wants the world of peace and love and pleasures and eternal peace?” Lino asked, smirking.
“... it wants world void of choices,” the Writ said, his iconic, robotic voice seemingly gaining a trace of emotion for a moment. “Where every so-called ‘predestined’ event happens independent of individual’s desires. Where the world stays on its own, ‘written’ course, never straying.”
“... so... you’re saying Fate’s actually a sentient entity?” Lino asked, somewhat shocked.
“Right, shut me down when things get interesting. Why even bother teasing me? Geez, you’re like a woman who leads you into her rooms, strips naked, strokes you a bit and then tells you she’s got a headache or has to get up early. What’s even the point of tease? I was interested in the first place! That’s why I bought you the damn drink!” Writ remained silent as Lino went on about his ranting over recent events that left him slightly bitter of reality. The rant would last for quite a while in the end...