THE TEMPESTS OF HEAVEN
A long bay stretched northward, while even grander ocean billowed southward, surrounding an elongated peninsula sticking out of the easternmost point of the Holy Continent. Resting on top of tall and sharp cliffs, and surrounded by vast, flourishing valleys and lavishly green mountains, was the official home of the Heaven’s Chosen. A sect consisted of hundreds upon hundreds of buildings styled in Skyhaven-noir architecture, spiked towers and spires bounding domed palaces stretching for over a hundred meters into the sky. Streets lay paved with limestone, as clean as a newborn’s tear, all intersecting repeatedly into the sections divided by tall, bronze statues.
The central building lay stacked against the cliff's edge, overlooking both the Pilgrim's Bay toward the north-west and the informally known Winged Ocean toward the south. It was a majestic creation heaving upward of six hundred meters at its highest point, cleaved into subsets of the subsets. It sported golden, bronze, silver and white palette, two massive, silver wheels bounding over it, stacked with gears connected to steel lines holding up the bridges binding together dozens of tall, roofed platforms. It stood up in the sky like a labyrinth, an interwoven web of suspended passages leading everywhere and nowhere.
It almost seemed to be a city unto itself, remarkably elevated above its surroundings, seemingly cleaved into another reality. Glassed domes reflected light perfectly above, creating a cascading shower of colors that fell over the rest of the sect, dousing it in perpetual light. Birds, both beastly and those less so, repeatedly circled above, with air dock resting on the far western side, suspended by the connecting steel lines, holding in total nearly twenty ships, repeatedly welcoming new ones and waving farewell to the departing.
Both the central subsection and the rest of the sect never seemed to sleep, as thousands could be spotted at any given moment drifting away through the canvasing streets in search of their destinies. Colors of robes ranged from bright azure to clear silver, each depicting various levels of achievements and status most vainly displayed to the world.
Home to the most-talented the Cultivation World had to offer lived on forevermore, be it dark or light, never asleep.
Within the central subsection, hidden away from the grandiose elevations that would put the capitals of all Empires to shame, deep underground, was a small sector of the so-called Cultivating Domes. They were specially designed rooms bounded with millions of formations whose sole focus was to speed the inhabitant’s cultivation.
Even further down than that, at the lowest point, nearly a mile underground, a singular chamber existed where two men and a woman were currently sitting. One of the two men and a woman had a deep frown on their faces, their disturbed expressions reflected in their sharp eyes.
The woman appeared relatively young, breaching her forties. She had smooth and copper-tanned skin and a pair of brisk, emerald-green eyes. On the taller end, her slender figure was hidden beneath a massively loose, golden robe.
The frowning man appeared older, though not by much; he still maintained fairly colorful, twilight-dyed hair, a stark contrast to his silver beard. A pair of crimson eyes swirled unto themselves, carefully inspecting the third’s man limp expression.
The Devil Slayer, Hound of the East, sat impassioned, slowly drinking rather pleasant, jasmine tea. He seemed unhurried and entirely indifferent to the scrutinizing glances of the two.
“... let me get this right,” the woman said. “You want us to betray Gaia... and fight for the Empyrean... and you want us to do that on your word alone?”
“... yeah, pretty much.” the Slayer said, smiling faintly.
“We’ve always suspected you were nuts,” the other man said, sucking in a cold breath. “But, by gods, this is insane Hound... even for you. Seeing as this came straight after you went to confront the Maiden... is it something she said? Did? Did she perhaps beat your ass black and blue and the only way you could live was to give yourself, and your home, over to her?”
"..." the Slayer chuckled, inwardly musing how this friend of his always had a keen eye for the truth... though it was usually slightly skewed from the reality. "Make of my words what you will, Y'lov. This wasn't a proposal -- merely a statement."
“... what? We don’t get a say in our potential demise, Y’nn?” the woman frowned, her voice growing slightly louder. “You remain asleep for millions of years at the time while the rest of us have to ensure we are never toppled, and when you do decide to wake up, you just expect us to do whatever you will at your mere word?”
“... this has been my home for much longer than yours, Y’elleve,” the Slayer said, still smiling. “Do you believe I want it ended?”
“That’s not what--”
“I know,” he interrupted her quickly. “I’ve spoken my mind. Besides, our help won’t be needed for quite some time. Until then, perhaps it’s best we actually learn something about our Empyrean, no? Like, how did he manage to take a full-brunt hit from Two, and not only live but shrug it off?”
“--’cause he’s a body-nutjob like you?” Y’lov shrugged.
“All pointers are to the high Vitality. Nothing too out of the ordinary for the Empyrean.” Y’elleve said.
“... no, perhaps not... for a seasoned Empyrean,” the Slayer said. “Definitely yes for a young buck barely fourth decade into the living. We’re talking over sixty million here, Y’elleve.”
“Most of which was acquired by items.”
“Which, as I’ve come to learn, he crafted himself.”
“--yeah, alright, that’s a bit insane, I admit.” Y’lov said, sighing. “An Empyrean hand-crafting his own armors and weapons? Talk about beating a dead fuckin’ horse... that kid’s gonna give this world some major headaches.”
“Items that increase Strength and Vitality are inherently difficult to come across,” Y’elleve said, rubbing her temple. “Namely because crack cases like you are, well, extremely rare. If he’s crafting armor with massive percentile increase... it means it’s only a matter of time before we see Universal-tier item with Vitality bonuses in hundreds of thousands. Wouldn’t he, well, effectively become immortal at that point?”
“Not really,” the Slayer said, shaking his head lightly. “Part of the reason why Body Cultivation isn’t so popular is not just because we’ve got to use our bodies as weapons -- it’s because there are many methods to deal with us. There are thousands of weapons out there in the world whose damage is based on Vitality percentage. While useless against you two...”
“... it’s a miracle against you. True.” Y’elleve nodded. “But, if he could devise a measure to prevent that...”
“He still wouldn’t be immortal. Vitality merely represents how many surface hits you can take before cracking. A straight stab to the heart or brain still accounts for some serious, if not lethal, damage.”
“Goddamn, Body Cultivators are fucking useless...” Y’lov growled lowly. “And now you’re asking us to throw our banner not just behind one, but two of you useless dongs...”
“... if I recall correctly,” the Slayer said, chuckling. “This useless dong has saved your life far too many times to keep the count, no?”
“... the greatest shame of my life, really.”
“... even if we agree, it will be beyond difficult, if not impossible, for everyone in the Sect to respect your decision,” Y’elleve said. “Respect for you has waned considerably over the years, Y’nn. You may be shocked to find out that your word doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to.”
“Which is why I’m reaching out to you two first with my decision...” he smiled pleasantly, causing the two to sigh. “I’m sure you have your fancy ways of social grace that I’ve always lacked to convince them.”
“--they will resist,” Y’lov said. “Massively. There might even be an open rebellion. Especially by the thousands directly or indirectly harmed by current or former Empyreans. If you could just throw us a fucking bone Y’nn, something, anything, to clue us in... we might have a better chance of convincing them...”
“... when I made this decision,” Y’nn said after a short silence. “I hardly made it for the Empyrean.”
“You got hard for the Maiden, huh?” Y’love commented with a strange grin. “I heard she was a fuckin’ beaut, but she hid before I could take her in.”
“However, the more I looked into him, the more I realized... he’s the future.”
“How come?” Y’elleve asked, frowning.
"Because the only reason the Descent intervened was because he went after the Bearers -- not because of Gaia," Y'nn said. "Which means they didn't wish to be his enemy. In addition, even that old Monster is trying to reach out to him. Then you've got the Maiden, three Bearers, Qe'lls, Eternals... what more do you need, you two? The entire world is throwing their names behind him -- openly at that -- defying the order of things that has persisted for billions of years. The uprising is even greater than during the Eldon's era. He's got Gods, Devils, Writs, Bearers, Maidens, a Dragon... and would have most likely had the Descent... that's not just an army... that's an Origin War-winning army."
“... why did he go after the Bearers, though?” Y’lov suddenly asked. “I figured he killed Light in the bout of passion, but all his moves so far have been relatively steady. Why the sudden shift? If he’s willing to take in the Bearers and work with them, why go after those two?”
“... my guess is that he’s trying to rapidly increase the amount of Chaos in the world,” Y’nn said, sighing faintly. “Or that he was trying to appease Ataxia.”
“... appease him?!” Y’elleve’s brows arched as she quizzed.
“... hm,” Y’nn nodded. “I was led to believe that... he may not be as loyal of a soldier as the motherly vestiges of the world has portrayed him to be...”