Chapter 13 - The Truth
Still using the cooling spell to protect himself from the heat, Aaron approached the survivor, seeing that her injuries had been magically sealed before she fainted. He recognized her as the one he had shot from the underground to meet the first meteor head on.
This close, he could feel the density of her mana and the size of her mana pool, which allowed him to estimate her level. But doing so made him even more unsatisfied with his battle. Just to make sure that he wasn't getting her level wrong, he used the Check Level Heavenly Skill.
Level: 8 — Eminent Mage
He had been right. She was an Eminence. But how the hell was she so weak, then?
Unfortunately, she wasn't in conditions to be interrogated. Fortunately, he could directly search her mind to find out.
Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Single Element: Soul — Seventh Memory Search!
In this world, the consciousness was merged with the soul and thus, the soul element was used to interact with it. Since she was an Eminence and he a Champion, Aaron wouldn't have been able to search her memories if she had been healthy, even if she was unconscious.
However, her willpower had been shaken to the point that she had fainted from fear after suffering a crushing defeat and losing three limbs. Her psychological state was fragile at best and his spell found no resistance at all as it crept into her soul.
Suddenly, his vision shifted. He found himself in a dark place, looking at scattered crystal fragments that shone brightly. It felt like being amid a starry sky. Each shard contained a memory, and his spell allowed him to know the general content of each one just by looking at them.
Every single memory of hers was there, bare before him. Searching one's memory was something so invasive that Aaron would never do it except under extreme situations, or when the target of the search had tried to do something evil enough, attacking him for greed included.
Anything else wouldn't be enough for him to go to such extremes as to search someone's memories, because he knew that if he didn't draw the line somewhere, he would turn into something he definitely didn't want to.
The first issue was that searching someone's memories was inebriating. The feeling of power, the knowledge that everything she was could be found out by him with his mere willing of it, that he would know every little secret about her, all her dark fears and all the right buttons to push to get her to do things he wanted her... That was a delightful sensation, something unique and impossible to explain.
The second issue was that after becoming an Ascender, he would be able to absorb all of the target's memories in a few minutes. It was like living an entire life, the good and the bad, in an instant. Feeling an entire life worth of sensations and emotions in such a short period of time was also something indescribably intoxicating!
He had known of many people who lost themselves to memory searching, living like addicts, always looking for a good fix. And that was only the beginning. After enough memories had been searched, they would lose their own personalities and turn into mindless beasts incapable of doing anything but 'consuming' other people's memories.
It didn't matter how great his willpower was, he hadn't lived so long by putting himself at needless risk. Even now, as he started looking around for the reason behind her weakness, he made sure to ignore all other memories.
He soon found the shard containing the memory of their 'battle,' if one could call it so. He focused on it his vision shifted again. This time, he found himself inside her body, seeing what she saw, hearing what she heard, feeling what she felt, and thinking what she thought.
She was invisible, a thousand legs away from the kid, waiting in ambush when he stopped his carriage and climbed on it. That stupid action of his allowed her to confirm that he was indeed the one she had been looking for!
The first thing he did was using a strange spell that seemed to distort space. Apparently, he had felt that something was wrong in the area and was trying to force possible enemies out with parlor tricks. Yes, parlor tricks, for even if he was using the elusive space element, there was no way it could affect her that far away.
That thought died a second later when she felt a spell slam in her body and temporarily bring her out of stealth!
Incredible! To comprehend Space Laws at all was already a great feat. To do so at such an early age, confirmed that he was indeed a genius as stated in her orders!
As for his usage of a rare long-range spell, it was only slightly surprising. The Valdian Kingdom was much stronger than her own Czernian Kingdom and seeing that they had provided such a precious spell to a child was only further proof of that.
But he was just too green. Yes, he had detected her, but what could he do now? Run away? If he did so, she would pursue. Come close to fight her? If he did so, he would have to show another trick to force her out of her own invisible spell, else he would have to fight a stronger and invisible enemy!
While she was thinking about that, he cast another spell that made her amazed yet again. She could barely believe a twelve-year-old could create and control such a big meteor. That spell was certainly stretching the limits of the Seventh level!
She immediately made the earth rise with a spell, creating a shield around herself, while also casting another spell to hide underground, thus rendering his meteor absolutely useless. By doing so, she limited her Mana Sense's range, making it impossible to feel the meteor, but she only had to wait for it to hit to know it was safe to leave her hideout!
She almost pitied her target for wasting so much mana in such a useless attack. The Valdian Kingdom indeed had good long-range spells, but he was simply too inexperienced to open the battle with his strongest moves.
But then, when she thought herself safe underground, came fear and confusion. The very ground she stood on shot her upwards so fast and so unexpectedly that she didn't even have time to react before she was already being launched on the air.
She couldn't understand. What exactly had happened? Who was attacking her? Was it the boy? If so, how could he even use such a precise spell on such a great distance?
While she was still trying to get her bearings, the huge meteor hit her face-first. She barely managed to create a shield in time when two new meteors came crashing at her, and their power wasn't something she could defend properly against, not in such short notice at least. It wasn't just their impact that was powerful, they also exploded in magic and fire, turning her surroundings into mayhem, trying to crush and burn her alive at the same time, all the while leaving her incapable of differentiating up from down.
Instinctive use of magic allowed her to keep her life, but she lost three of her limbs and found herself almost completely out of depth. In time, she managed to cast a spell to stop the bleeding and clear her mind, finding herself in the middle of a burning crater.
With the dizziness gone, she understood what had happened and felt desperate for a moment, just before realizing not everything was lost! Not only could her limbs be regrown later, but she also had over half her mana pool remaining! Meanwhile, such a big spell capable of creating three meteors had surely exhausted the boy! She only had to get rid of the Champion with him, then she would—
Her line of thought stopped when her Mana Sense felt the boy move. But he wasn't fainting from mana exhaustion like she expected. No, he was breathing regularly and walking with ease, and even had a mana shield on.
He had made her little more than a ragged doll but hadn't lost a single breath to do so.
Her arm and her legs were gone, but he didn't even look excited about it.
He had attacked her without mercy, but the look on his face was of annoyance as if she was a bug he had had to squelch before moving on.
To her, he didn't look like a kid anymore, but an enormous monster, a merciless bringer of fire and death, a reaper of death walking on earth.
And he was coming for her.
Sheer terror filled her mind and then there was only darkness.
Aaron withdrew from the memory, even more confused by what he found. What the hell was that about long-range spells being rare?
He quickly perused all the memories from the time she received the orders to capture him until now, watching them in a kind of fast-forward mode that still allowed him to get most of the information from them.
What he found made him astonished and hungry for more information about this world's mages! As fast as he could, he checked the memories of her being educated on the world and in magic, to discover what was considered common sense.
He ended up positively stunned.
The world... It was vastly different from what he had learned in the family's library. Firestar was much more protective of information than Aaron had guessed. Knowledge of many things had been hidden from him, especially the social structure of his continent and how much power the mages in the region wielded.
The world was divided in seven continents, of which the Fire Continent was the third weakest. That, Aaron had known. What he hadn't known was that each continent was controlled by an Immortal.
The very name of the Fire Continent came from the Fire Immortal who controlled it. It was also he who funded the Fire Empire that ruled over the entire continent. The continent was many times the size of Earth and there were a large number of nations in it, but every single one of them was a vassal of the Empire. They either pledged allegiance to the Empire or they were extinguished through brute force!
The ruler of the Empire in the Fire Immortal's stead was a level 9, Saint, called Emperor Saint. There had been many Emperor Saints in the Empire's history, but they had always been mages, all appointed by the Fire Immortal himself. The Fire Immortal's bias towards mages didn't stop there; only mages were even allowed in the Imperial Capital. Moreover, imperial law dictated that no warrior was allowed to hold any official position in any nation under the Empire.
While he had guessed that there was a higher power above the Valdian Kingdom, he hadn't expected an empire that spanned the entire continent to be so meddlesome in the affairs of small fish like his family. He had pissed a foe greater than expected by helping the warriors, but he would be damned if he would get panicky because of it.
He had defeated much stronger foes from a much worse position in his past lives.
More interesting than the Fire Empire though was that he finally knew the correct name of the Asshats: The Immortal Crusade.
The Immortal Crusade had been funded by the Fire Immortal and a few other Immortals with the sole purpose to find and eradicate demons by any means necessary.
'Titanic' wasn't enough to describe its power and influence. Every Overlord in the continent was automatically considered a member of the Crusade and had to respect the responsibilities and limitations that came with it. All Ascenders had to obey its orders without question. Everyone else just tried to stay out of its way.
There were other large organizations in the Empire, filled with people that were nominally part of the Crusade but actually competed against it in the many areas where the Crusade's laws were vague. Still, even the most powerful of those organizations, the Temple of Time, only had less than half the power of the Crusade.
Fortunately, he had properly investigated the Asshats by asking Firestar and had expected them to be that big. His very plans depended on the Crusade name being great enough for everyone but the desperate to respect its rules.
While the Crusade was after him, he would be safe. When the investigation concluded though, even if he was found innocent, the Empire would send people to hunt him down the next second due to his words promoting warriors in the competition. He wasn't sure of what would happen then, but he wasn't optimistic.
The good news was that the West Region, where he was at, sucked big time. The Fire Empire was divided into four regions, and the West Region was the weakest, save for a few areas like the Three Towers. The Cage hadn't been messing around when it said Aaron would be reincarnated as royalty of a minor country, focus on minor.
Such weakness was easily perceived. In the Eminence's memories, he had witnessed the great number of people she had killed to protect her mission. She wasn't a bad combatant, but she was still ways off of what he considered an adequate way for a powerful Eminent Mage to fight.
Even without taking into account her lack of long-ranged spells, which he now knew to be a rarity in the West Region, she was too introspective, her reflexes were too slow, her casting speed was outrageous, and her decision making was questionable.
Such weakness had an explanation. Resources and mana itself were too scarce in the West Region. The most powerful people had emigrated to more fertile lands, taking their good spells and secrets with them, leaving only the unschooled, the weak and the stupid behind. Aaron's own Valdian Family was an example, needing him to point out the possibility of using steam to make a better healing formation, something extremely simple to think about.
As for why he hadn't been told any of this, the answer was simple:
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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
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