Chapter 1 - Departure
"I was not born on this planet," Aaron said seriously to the two people in the throne room. "In fact, I'm not even from this universe."
Shock was visible in the two people's eyes. None of the two even considered not believing his words. The Supreme World Sovereign never joked when he sat on the White Jade Throne. This was actually the very reason Aaron decided to reveal the truth to them like that.
"You must have questions," he said. "Ask away."
"Where did you come from?" The old male, clothed in colorful luxurious clothes, asked. "Why are you here? What-"
"Forget that!" The young-looking female wearing a beautifully crafted armor interrupted. "Why are you telling us this now?"
Aaron, who wore simple martial arts robes, smiled. Old Tom was a Bard and asked questions to help him compose a song to sing or a tale to tell. Lia, however, was a leader forged by him and considered the practical implications of his revelation before anything else. One looked to the past, while the other prepared for the future.
"I come from planet Earth, located in an unnamed universe. As for why I'm here…" He sighed. "I was the most powerful being from that universe, so powerful that I could destroy entire planets with a mere snap of my fingers." He wasn't exaggerating; rather, he was downplaying his power, for they simply couldn't understand the dimension of his former strength. He had been the greatest energetic manipulator ever born, and in his spare time — which was plentiful — he had at mastered all Higher Professions. He had been a force to reckon with.
"Imagine being immortal," he continued, "having lived for eons, with the power to get whatever you want, whenever you want. Imagine having experienced all you sought after, and even some things you didn't just because you thought those things might cure you of your boredom." He hadn't been actually bored, his willpower too strong for that, but he had certainly been missing a goal in his life.
"I knew it!" Tom said with a laugh. "I always knew you were a descended god! I was right!"
"Shut up, let him finish," Lia said.
"One day, I... Stumbled upon a portal to this planet." That was a simple way of putting it but even he didn't understand those circumstances entirely. He only knew a mysterious power wanted him to come and he ended up agreeing for the greater good. "I felt what was on this side of the portal by using my Origin Sense and what I found was heart-wrenching."
He sighed, remembering that moment. "A universe isn't a living being per se, but it's also not entirely dead. It has a semblance of a consciousness, which resides in its Core. What I found out was that this Universe's Core has been Caged and forced to do things against its nature. It was crying and screaming, in absolute pain and despair, begging for help from anyone powerful enough to heed its call." He made a pause. "This universe is slowly dying. Given a few extra billion years, it shall implode, and nothing shall remain."
Tom had a frown, trying to understand where his tale was leading. Lia, however, had already understood everything and yelled in despair. "No! No, you won't! You are not leaving!"
Aaron smiled warmly at her, like a grandfather looking at a cute granddaughter. "I sympathized with the Core and came to save this universe, but when I went through the portal, I lost all my power. I recovered what I could, but in this world, the level cap is ten, the Overlord level, and I can go no further than it. I'm way off from my former power, which I require to reach my goals. World Sovereigns like us can travel to higher-ranked worlds, which have higher level caps, and I need to do so."
"Why leave now? Why not sooner? Or later, for that matter?" Tom asked before Lia could say anything more. She had asked just that before and listened attentively.
"When I came to this world, I was unsure if the Cage had someone behind it, or if whoever put it in place had already left. I also didn't know whatever measures the Cage might have to prevent people from going against it. These past thousand years, after conquering this world and becoming a World Sovereign, I tested the Cage in various ways. Just yesterday, after my last test, I became sure enough that I can act freely, and the Cage won't hinder me in any way as long as I follow its base rules, like not going above a world's level cap, or only leaving by spending Destiny Points."
Show Destiny Points, Aaron thought.
Out of nowhere, a transparent white rectangle with golden borders and written text inside appeared before him. It was just like a videogame window from Earth.
The Cage had turned the universe in a big game, or at least added lots of game-like features to the universe, like videogame windows. People were supposed to conquer worlds and use the Destiny Points they acquired in the process to change the world however they wanted. Of course, he had only learned about it after he killed the last World Sovereign and conquered the world, for it wasn't in the World Sovereigns' interest for someone to try and overthrow them, and so they kept the information a secret.
Being a World Sovereign enabled him to spend the Destiny Points to do virtually anything, from creating a new race to making the world plane. Whatever one wanted, as long as one was willing to spend the points the Cage asked for, it would be done.
This world's former World Sovereign, for instance, had placed a Class System in this world, just like a videogame. Tom was a Bard, and Lia, an Empress. Aaron didn't revert it because it would cost too much.
He could also travel to other worlds by using Destiny Points. If he tried to leave through space, he would get a warning window, and if he didn't heed its warning, he would die. However, using the Cage's system to travel to another world had a huge letdown: it practically required one to be reborn.
Going as the current him, without being reborn, would cost him a hundred million points, something way out of his budget.
"As for why I decided to go now," he said, "you know my Destiny Points have started to decay a few years back. The rate of decay is increasing by the day. Today, when I woke up, I had five hundred points less than yesterday. My guess is that the Cage, the one behind this entire system that you call Will of the Universe, doesn't want people to keep reserve points; either you use them to change the world, or you leave the world. That way, World Sovereigns can eventually be overcome, else they would just keep using Destiny Points to kill all competition."
He had asked once how much doing so would cost and was met with a game window asking him to define 'competition.' When he said he wanted to kill all other Overlords in the world, he found that it surprisingly cost only a million Destiny Points. With how rare Overlords were, plus the fact that World Sovereigns couldn't die from old age, he would be able to keep his power for a very long time with his nineteen million points without having to do any real work to prevent people from killing him.
After a long silence, Lia finally spoke. "Are you coming back to us?" There was real pain in her voice.
"Yes," Aaron said. No matter how much time he took to do what he had to, his two friends were World Sovereigns just like him, and they could wait for eternity for his return. "Just don't die until I save the universe."
She snorted, saying not with words but with this gesture what she thought about what he had said. As if she would ever fail to curb her enemies and die!
They looked at each other for a long time, savoring their last moment together before his departure. Tom silently took a bottle of wine and three cups seemingly out of nowhere, poured the cups, then offered them to his two friends.
Aaron and Lia accepted their cups and raised them.
"We had a fun journey," Aaron said. "Thank you for your company."
Tom nodded. "It was fun indeed. Safe travels, my friend."
Lia kept silent for a moment but ended up speaking. When she did, a single tear rolled down from the Ice Empress' left eye. If anyone saw it, they would doubt their own sight. "I love you, big brother."
Aaron smiled widely. At last, the little troublemaker acknowledged him as his big brother!
Without any further word, they drowned their wine in a single gulp and threw the invaluable crystal cup on the ground. No one would clean those crystal shards, for they symbolized Aaron breaking his bonds with them in his departure. It would be his job to repair the cups when he returned.
Tom walked to the throne, Aaron rose, and they hugged in silence for a couple minutes. Lia waited for them to be done, then also hugged Aaron.
"Do it," she said. He nodded and did so.
Show Available Destiny Worlds, he thought, and a new videogame-like window appeared before him.
Available Destiny Worlds
(Sorted by cost)
World ID #1 — Rank 1 — 320,000,000 points
World ID #3 — Rank 1 — 120,000,000 points
World ID #2 — Rank 1 — 100,000,000 points
A list of worlds appeared before him. He scrolled them until he found the one he would be traveling to. Upon selecting it, the window content changed.
Destiny World Selected
You've selected WORLD ID #77932 - RANK 3
Current environment: MAGE GENETICS VARIANT 2
Max level: 12 — IMMORTAL
Dominant race: HUMAN
WARNING: COLLAPSE IN 10,800 YEARS!
DISCOUNT APPLIED - 8,000,000 POINTS
Worlds were divided into ranks, and his current world, at the fifth-rank, only allowed him to go to level 10, while a fourth-rank would allow him to get to level 11, a third-rank world to level 12, and so on.
What he hadn't told his two friends was that besides testing the Cage, he had been waiting to get directly to a better-ranked world to minimize the number of times he had to be reborn. After all, each time he was reborn as a defenseless baby, his life would be at risk. He obviously didn't want to do it over and over again.
Going to a fourth-rank world only cost ten million points, while he had nineteen, but a third-rank world cost twenty million points! Thankfully, while browsing through the available worlds, he had seen a first-rank world costing only half its price because a calamity had befallen it. Thus, he had been waiting for a third-rank world to also get a discount, so he could get directly to it!
And just the day before, he had found the perfect opportunity!
He didn't know what having the current environment set to 'Mage Genetics Variant 2' meant but given his capabilities, he wasn't overly preoccupied. Just to be sure though, he selected a few circumstances about his birth to make his life easier and safer in his earlier days.
You've selected HUMAN
Variant #1: MAGE
He had always been a human and it would be a big advantage to him if he kept to what he was intimate with, especially since the prior window said that the world's dominant race was human.
Due to the world environment being described as 'Mage Genetics Variant 2,' he chose to be born a mage, which he didn't know what meant. Alas, he would rather have it than not. It would be easier to purge it if it was an impurity than to get a gene in case he needed it.
You've selected ROYALTY OF MINOR COUNTRY
Variant #1: MAGOCRACY
Variant #2: POWER-BASED HIERARCHY
Variant #3: BORN DISTANT FROM THRONE
Points required: 2,000,000
He also selected his place of birth. He didn't want to be killed by a random thug or die of starvation before he could amass enough power to protect himself, so he chose to be born royalty. To his surprise, the variants 'Magocracy' and 'Power-Based Hierarchy' were immediately forced on him because of this pick. It seemed the social structure of that world was set on stone, or at least a royal mage could only be born in such countries.
Becoming the direct descendant of a country would be too expensive and he lowered the cost by becoming just a member of the royal family that was born way too distant from the throne.
It was also safer this way, for who knows who might want the direct descendant of the throne to die in his early days?
You've selected FIRST NAME
Lastly, being able to choose his name was a nice quirk. It was free too and he would like it very much to keep the name he had had since he was born back on Earth.
Are you sure you want to proceed?
Total Destiny Points cost: 18,000,000
Your remaining 1,276,378 Destiny Points will be lost.
He had already simulated the most optimal choices uncountable times, making sure he was getting the best value out of his points. It was a shame that he would lose the points, but he was confident in his choices, and there was nothing else useful that he could pick with that many points.
Just to make sure though, he triple-checked everything and nodded satisfied.
I'm sure, he thought, willing his thoughts to reach the system. The windows closed automatically and another one appeared with new text.
Your soul will be taken to a temporary location to await reincarnation.
He looked at his friends, put his hands on their shoulders, and smiled. It was for them too that he had to leave, no matter how much they would be saddened by it.
"Goodbye, my friends," he said.
Lia allowed a couple of extra tears to fall from her eyes.
Reality itself shattered behind him, a rift straight into the Void. His soul was pulled by an irresistible force, and then, there was only darkness.
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I'm Ed, a writer of GameLit. So far I have released only two books, but I'm working on increasing this number by tens! No, by hundreds! Maybe thousands! xP
Mailing list: http://www.edward-castle.com/