VOLUME XI - THE LIGHT
THE FORGOTTEN TALE (I)
The moment Alst’s Heart entered Lino’s Singularity, the latter felt a mind-numbing pain assail every inch of his body as he cried out to the point he nearly didn’t hear the robotic voice inside his own head.
[... Alst’s Heart Consumption Commencing...]
[Absorption Rate: 0,001%...]
[Increased Strength by 5%]
[Increased Vitality by 5%]
[... increased affinity with Death; understanding of Law of Death grows]
[... Level increased to 564]
[Bearer gained Access to an Archaic Record...]
[Archaic Record -- The Forgotten Tale unlocked...]
Lino didn’t even have a split second to voice out his complaints before his Soul was ripped directly out of his body and sent on a spiral through the spacetime, winding up in a strange, eerie, borderline nightmare-inspired landscape. Strange, purple mushrooms stood as tall as trees, the surrounding landscape reminiscent of a swamp, with occasional bubbles bursting out onto the surface and releasing acid-green spray of liquid into the air.
Dark gray mist shrouded the above and beyond, tinkering closely with the ground that was covered in dead and dying roots and strange, almost blade-like grass. It was beyond the point of being able to distinguish night from day, so Lino quickly gave up, pulling himself back to reality.
“... hm?” a soft hum parted out into the world. “Ataxia chose me?”
“...” it was a woman’s voice, Lino realized. From the overall understanding, she appeared to be of the average build and size, with amnesty-colored boyish hair and a pair of milky white eyes... she was blind, Lino realized -- at least when it came to the most ordinary of the sights.
“... then he must have found my successor,” the woman mused with a faint smile. “Ah, a champagne-worthy moment. Shame I don’t have any.”
“My name is Eve.” Lino’s mind raced quickly as his ears perked up. “Just... Eve. I can’t recall my birth name, or if I even had one. It’s the name Ataxia gave me, and the name I bore till my dying breath. And it’s the name the world remembered me by... for some time, at least.”
“If he’s sent you to me,” she said. “It must mean that you’ve done that which I could not -- and, not to come out too pompous -- there is only one thing I ever failed to achieve in my life. Well, two things, really. Surpass Eldon... and summon Primal Chaos.”
“...” another familiar name popped into the conversation, but as Lino was unable to utter a word of communication, he was left to be led by Eva’s remnant Will.
“And forgive me for doubting you, but the likelihood of anyone surpassing Eldon... is minuscule, which means you summoned the Primal Chaos. Congratulations.” she added with a mumble, sighing as she looked up to the sky. “I was born blind,” she said. “During the Four Clans Era. I was a mutated child of a Devil and an Angel, unwanted and despised by both. As chance would fancy it, I inherited only the weaknesses of the two races... but none of the strengths. But, I think you’ve already figured that out from the fact I was an Empyrean.” I really didn’t... Lino lamented inwardly.
“I grew up largely on the streets till my tenth year when I realized I could earn a lot of money by selling myself... so I did. Time and again; and, however ugly it might have been, I moved out of the streets. Bought a small house, started growing a farm, and was content dying there. It was on my twentieth birthday that I met Ataxia, and my life changed forever.”
“As life had ripped any emotion I might have had as a babe from me, I did whatever he asked; I killed, I slaughtered, I robbed... by the first year’s end, I was the most wanted criminal across the entire Central Continent. Eventually, I went over the ocean, and joined the cults of the truly strong. It was there that I’d found my home. Wars... wars were led everywhere, by everyone, against everyone else. It wasn’t just racial wars... but inter-racial wars as well. Women were forced to have upward of fifteen to twenty children during their lifetimes just to remotely make up for the dead ones.”
“By my twenty-second birthday, I became a Titular,” Lino almost wanted to scream out in agony, but realizing he couldn’t, he just cried inwardly. “Or, at least, what was the equivalent of one back then. See... the world was in an awkward transition between Magic and Cultivation; while Magic was rather old, very complex and oftentimes didn’t even work... it was also extremely powerful. Transformative Theory of Magic, they called it -- by taking raw elements of the world and, unlike Cultivation, simply forcing them to become something else rather than filtering them. One massive Magical Explosion was enough to sink a large island. And hundreds went off by the day across the world...”
“By my twenty-fifth birthday, I had met all other Bearers and killed them at least once,” she said. “And Gaia’s repeated attempts to kill me were entirely futile as she was also coming off the Titan Era during which her influence -- and in extension her strength -- was sapped dry. I ruled the world, single-handedly. They called me the Blind Nightmare... and the world you’re seeing now, is where I died.”
“...” Lino awaited patiently for the explanation.
“At the height of my power, however... I had stopped listening to Ataxia.” she said. “I became my own demon, doing whatever I willed, ignoring any possible consequences. I deemed myself immortal and indestructible. But... there’s always a higher tree and a deeper ocean.”
“I imagine that you must have heard of Great Descent,” Eve said with a bitter chuckle. “So have I, back then... but I ignored them. I simply took them as an elitist sect, the ilk of the emerging Holy Grounds. But... one day... a man showed up in front of me. He wore a simple, porcelain mask with two holes for eyes, and 8 dotted on the masked cheek. By the time I realized he was a foe, I found myself here... within the rotten vision of what the world saw me as.”
“It became my prison,” she continued, lamenting. “And I died... right after leaving my Will. I forcibly burst my heart, Soul and Singularity at the same time, thereby ending my reign. Unlike most other Records you have gone through, I won’t show you my last moments; they are ugly, depressing, and I’d rather you remember me as someone else than the broken wreck I would become.”
“...” Lino was still trying to contemplate the fact that Great Descent was around during the Four Clans Era, which means they are at the very least around 3 billion years old as an organization.
“I will let you see three moments of my life--” Eve continued after a short pause. “The day I became a Titular... the day I slaughtered four other Bearers... and the day I met Eight, who imprisoned me here.”
“None of these three moments will offer you profound insight into things, my successor,” she said. “And, there is very little I can teach you as you’ve already done one thing I couldn’t have. Take away from my life what you will, but know I’ve died filled with regrets and shame. Even still... almost till my dying day... I spent every waking hour screaming and blaming Ataxia, yet he never spoke back. Rather, he never spoke to me after I was imprisoned. He was still there... I could feel him, nestling inside the very depths of my being. But... he was silent. I was once again the young girl, lying in a cold bed after warming another... facing nothing but the voices inside my own head. And, well... if there’s one thing we all universally fear, it’s the voice inside of us... our own echo... when all else grows silent.”
“... for some reason,” she mumbled suddenly. “I can sense a faint presence of Umbra on you. If you ever get the chance... apologize to her for me. I’ve let many people down in my life... but letting her down is one I never forgave myself for.”
“Without any further ado, my successor... welcome to my life,” she said with a faint chuckle, closing her eyes. “No doubt a Forgotten Tale of shame... for all parties involved.”