CAPACITY FOR EVIL
Hannah had a rather peculiar expression as she inspected a rather simple yet elegantly decorated armor set that had caused a tinge of jealousy to surface even within her. It’s not as though she had never seen a set as good -- for she had seen much, much better ones -- but it was due to the fact that Lino was extremely young compared to those old monsters who have crafted the Sets for her own Sect.
Even the set she was holding wouldn’t be discarded, but most-likely awarded to the young generation’s best Disciple. Still, chances are that nobody would even want to wear in the first place, as the entire set is practically molded to fit Lino and his battle style... which very few in the entire world were willing to replicate.
[Heaven-Cast Armor Set -- 8/8 -- Legendary Unique]
Requirement: 10,000 Strength
Requirement: <Body Cultivation> Art
Requirement: Primal Qi (any form)
Requirement: Resistance to ‘Fear’
Durability: 60,000,000 (damage shared between all individual parts)
+300% to ‘Base Strength’
+300% to ‘Base Defense’
+300% to ‘Base Vitality’
+300% to ‘Base Damage’
+300% to ‘Base Resistances’
+100% to ‘Status Resistances’
+40% to ‘Elemental Affinity’
+??% to ‘??’ -- Progress [Level 280/281]
+??% to ‘??’ -- Progress [Level 280/851]
+??% to ‘??’ -- Progress [Level 280/1000]
Special Effect [Ironborn] -- 20% of incoming ‘Damage’ can be stored, up to Strength*30, which can be used to enchant any and all attacks
Special Effect [Heaven’s Son] -- Gain bonus +40% to ALL Stats per an enemy combatant no weaker than 50 Levels; stacks up to 25 enemies
Special Effect [Master of Void] -- mark up to 10 items in your possession; regardless of where they are, you can summon them back into the void in your possession
Special Effect [Legend] -- your Will is exceptionally strengthened when in an unfavorable situation; backlash effects from everything reduced by 50%, Qi expenditure reduced by 50%, chance to inflict Fear-related effects on the enemies through Will alone
Special Effect [Hell-Forged] -- each time the Wearer survives overwhelming odds, increase all Base Stats by 10%; stacks infinitely and persists even when the Armor Set isn’t worn
Special Effect [Defiance] -- Ignore ALL innate suppression from Realms and Levels; gain bonus 5% to ALL Stats for each 100 Levels of difference (if against multiple combatants, only the strongest is counted)
Special Effect [???] -- ??? [Progress - Level 280/281]
Special Effect [???] -- ??? [Progress - Level 280/851]
Special Effect [???] -- ??? [Progress - Level 280/1000]
Note: An unprecedented Divine Creation, unmatched far and wide in its make, created for those whose heart thumps with the drums of battles, those who tire not of death and chaos and those who never bow before their enemies.
“... fucking shit,” Hannah exclaimed, taking a deep breath. “No wonder you’re so strong despite not even having become and Exalted...”
“Right?! Right?!” Lino exclaimed with glee, his lips curled up in a beaming smile of pride. “This is insane, right? Even I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it! And then when I fought... goddamn, this shit is fucking awesome! Getting punched by a Sin-Devil practically tickled!”
“... but pretty much only you in the entire world can utilize the set completely,” Hannah said after a short thought. “So, past the collection value, you probably couldn’t sell it for all that much...”
“Who said anything about selling it?” Lino shrugged. “Do you not see the kind of shit I have to deal with all the time? I mean, for fuck’s sake, I’m Level 280, and here I am, fighting Titular Voids. Tell me, where else in the world does that happen?”
“... yeah...” Hannah mumbled faintly; she had to admit that when she was Level 280, she stood absolutely no chance of fighting even someone at Level 500-600, let alone a Titular Void. “Why are you stuck at Level 280, though? Shouldn’t it be easy to cross the wedge?” she asked, somewhat curious.
“Hmm...” Lino thought for a moment before replying. “It’s ‘cause the bastard said that I should first collect a few items that will help me condense Will into a corporeal form or something.”
“... you want to go for the Exalted Soul?” Hannah asked dubiously.
“You have no idea what that is, do you?”
“... haaah... how the hell did you even survive up until this point?” she lamented for a moment before explaining. “Usually, when people are crossing into the Realm of the Exalted, the only requirement is pretty much just to externalize your own Will -- it doesn’t even matter to what degree. It can even be by sheer luck, it still wouldn’t matter. However, there were some people throughout the history that had gone well beyond that, which is why the crossing is now divided into three ‘variations’ -- the ordinary one, upon which you become an Exalted, the version in which you actually gain control over a sliver of your Will like you already do whereupon you become Chosen Exalted, and the one you’re attempting -- to condense the Will into a corporeal object and stuff it into your Soul to nourish, after which you become the Exalted Soul.”
“... what are the differences?” Lino asked.
“The higher up the Realms you go, the more important does the Will become,” Hannah explained. “Think of it as... hmm... right, a projection of yourself; for instance, the reason why most people can’t go against those of much higher Realms like you can has very little to do with Qi, actually, as it’s all relative in the end -- a great part of it is due to Will. They feel suffocated by just even contemplating the fight, let alone engaging in it. Aah... it’s really difficult to explain. Even I don’t get it completely.”
“What Level are you anyway?” Lino asked, curious as he whipped out two gourds of wine and handed one over to her.
“... fuck off.”
“I’m serious, ha ha ha,” she laughed freely, seeing his distorted expression. “After all, I’ve been repeatedly cultivating since I was like 13-14 years old, and with all the resources my Sect shoved into me believing I was cultivating their Art, well... it’d be embarrassing if I didn’t reach the Level I did.”
“... seriously, fuck this shit.” Lino sighed in defeat, taking a sip of now embittered wine. “First Ella, now you... in comparison, I really come off as an untalented hack.”
“Ha ha, don’t feel that bad about it. Every Empyrean ever pretty much always lagged behind the rest, it isn’t anything unusual. The reason Empyreans have always terrified everyone isn’t even because they were super strong; it was usually because they were the bitch of the highest order to kill. For instance, if you wore this armor, I’m fairly confident that I’d stand absolutely no chance of killing you. Your regeneration is practically fucking out of this world.”
“Yeah, yeah, thanks for comforting me,” Lino chuckled. “Oh, right, what’s your title?”
“Officially?” she smirked. “Exalted Queen of Life.”
“... wow, that’s lame.”
“Yup.” she nodded in agreement. “But, my actual title is pretty cool I think.”
“... yeah, that’s pretty cool.” Lino nodded. “Wait, does anyone even know your actual Level?”
“... nope.” she said, somewhat bashful. “You’re the first.”
“Well, what a high-grade honor this is.”
“Are you making fun of me?”
“I wouldn’t dare.”
“Asshole.” she snorted.
“Ah, anyway, you’ll be the one taking the vanguard role now.”
“Yeah, sure. Of course I will.”
“... I sense sarcasm.”
“And you sense correctly!” she exclaimed with an innocent smile. “Besides, do you really think we’ll be fighting anything directly? We’d be flattened before we even knew we were fighting in the first place. The first priority is to try and put the Prime to sleep.”
“Any idea on how we’re going to achieve that?”
“You’re awfully cheery for someone who’s about to walk into the disaster far greater than the Devil’s Invasion.” Lino shrugged.
“Well, Astrum explained that the circumstances aren’t that dire. Didn’t Ataxia explain anything to you?”
“... hey, asshole. Mind explaining why you didn’t explain anything to me?” Lino angrily roared as Hannah did her best to withhold laughter.
“... I was merely pondering over how far you’ll go before asking for some answers.” the Writ replied shortly after, causing a twitch in Lino’s lips.
“... a-alright... so... how about you provide some answers, then.”
“As I’m sure the Elysian already knows,” the Writ voiced out through Lino’s lips. “Umbra is a Prime of Illusions, Shadows, Darkness, Misdirection and such. She has little to no direct battle strength, but breaking her defenses in a direct confrontation is simply impossible for you two at the moment. She works through corrupting any sentient beings, who serve as her hosts and further spread her influence. As she has awakened just recently, she’s still technically in a half-asleep state and is functioning purely on instincts which is why her expansion will be very limited.”
“...” the Writ grew silent for a moment to let Lino process everything.
“If she’s allowed to awaken fully and enter the rapid-expansion mode, she would make the entire Continent her domain within a single day. The drawback, however, to such strength is that it’s necessary for her to expand all the time, since if she doesn’t her influence withers. The best way to fight her is to use her period of being in the half-sleeping state to evacuate every form of life -- or to kill every form of life -- as far away from her as possible, and then to roam around her domain and prevent her agents from slipping past.”
“...” noticing Lino’s strange gleam, Hannah’s heart suddenly shuddered as she had a bad premonition. “W-what are you thinking?” she asked fearfully.
“He... he... he he he he...” a chuckle bordering between maniacal and outright evil escaped Lino’s lips as his face scrounged into the most menacing grin Hannah had ever seen. “We gon’ light up the world Hannah, ha ha ha ha, we’re gonna light up the fucking world!!” and thus began Hannah’s daily struggles to understand what Lino meant, though even her wildest imagination would come to disappoint her eventually.