Chapter 38 - Asserting Dominance
Take a prophecy about the end of the world, for instance. With enough knowledge about the political and economic undercurrents of the world, even without knowing everything there was to know about every inhabitant in the planet, it wasn't difficult to guess that a huge war might be on the way within some hundred years. Even if one of the powers involved might change how it did things, there was so much involved in such a huge happening, that too many threads had to fail to unravel to prevent the rope from snapping and the world ending.
If it was going to happen anyway, what was the good of prophesying it?
Now, take a prophecy about a stripped cat named 'Tom' being born on a farm. It could be reasonable to make such prediction based on intimate knowledge about the cat's parents, the farmworkers, the animals and insects that might or not interact with the cat, the kids who liked to kill cats in the region, and so on. But only if it was to happen in a few months at most. Anything over than that, and way too many things could go wrong and prevent the prophecy from coming to fruition: the farm could be burned, the cat's parents could die, no one might be around the farm to name the cat 'Tom,' one of the fore-parents of the cat might decide to leave the region, a locust plague might happen, among many other possibilities.
Again, what was the meaning behind prophesying it, if it might not even happen due to minor details?
But as little as he liked prophecies, they came from the Universal Core itself. No one really knew why it sent Visions to some people, but it did, and ever so rarely, it had its uses.
"How did you identify me?" He asked.
She smiled. "It has been Envisioned by the First Prophetess, the Herald of Time will come," she recited like someone who had repeated those lines multiple times, "He shall brandish time-space like a sword, and sever reality as one who knows all secrets of the universe. Treat him well."
He frowned. The second part was vague enough that it could mean multiple things, and the first part could be accomplished by anyone who had enough knowledge on the Laws of Time and the Laws of Space and knew how to create spells.
However, it was likely him. He had used a technique in his previous world to create a similar blade in multiple occasions, so it fit his knowledge on prophecies that the Universal Core might use that fact about his past to predict what he might do in the future. Severing reality was too broad to define, but 'one who knows all secrets of the universe' could only be him.
Well, it could be an incredibly powerful being who decided to travel to this shitholy planet, but the likelihood of anyone that powerful doing so was minimal. It was nothing short of a miracle that a former Origin Immortal like him was here, and he didn't expect even Prime Immortals to also come one day. Anything below that, including Immortals, simply couldn't be considered to know all secrets of the universe. For him, it was already a stretch to even include Prime Immortals.
"What does 'treat him well' means?" He asked.
Her smile faltered a little. "I'm not sure. But it goes well with my own Vision that ordered me to protect you, see? I'm sure there was no error on that!" She said excitedly.
"Nothing," she said hurriedly.
Aaron's curiosity was picked, but he wasn't close enough to her yet. He could force her to speak, but there was no urgency in finding more about the Temple of Time and his prophecy. Soon enough, he would be out of the reaches of both the Temple and the Crusade alike. Then, he would have more than enough time to talk and try to figure things out.
After breakfast, they resumed their journey.
"This is a good place," Aaron said as soon as they reached the first open area of their travel. It was a flat land without narrow walls. The rock gave way to earth and low vegetation, with a single overgrown trail amidst it. The area around the plane went up and down, making it hard to see what was beyond the immediate area.
"A good place for what, young master?" Sara asked.
"Training and baiting. You both get to it." He turned to Helina. "How far can your Mana Sense go in this terrain?"
Mana could go through the earth, but it was costly. Mana Sense, much like his own Omnisense, was most commonly used as a blanket to cover the surface, plus the air up to some height. It was like a thick blanket that could feel whatever it touched.
But just like a blanket, if there were toys in the bed, it would either fail to touch the mattress – thus creating blind spots in the Mana Sense, which was stupid –, or it would end up covering a smaller radius because of the rough surface.
"Two hundred legs," she said.
Aaron frowned. "What? Explain." That was way too low. An Eminence should have one thousand legs – or one kilometer – of coverage on a clean surface. How could her Mana Sense's range be of two hundred meters?
"If I go further than this and enter some powerful beast's territory, it could take offense and attack us," she explained.
"We want to offend them. Extend it to your maximum range for now. Let me know when we get company."
"Herald, this..." She said with uncertainty. "One doesn't simply provoke beasts in Death's Shadow Mountains."
"Good thing we're six, then."
"That's not what I meant."
"I know," he said. "I also know I'm not in the habit of repeating myself. Do as I say."
She frowned. "Herald... As much as I admire you... I was ordered to protect you, not obey you."
He smiled. "You're not telling me something, girl. You pay me respect one time, but then says I'm just a minor character from some obscure prophecy. You call me the Herald of Time – which, let me tell you, is not some minor title, especially when coming from people like you who worship Time –, but when I tell you to do something, you say you're not supposed to obey me. Your actions and your words are at odds with each other."
"I don't know what you're talking about," she said.
Aaron stepped closer to her. "You kneeled before me, girl. You don't do this when you met someone who was prophesied. You get excited, yes. You might even hug me, or jump in happiness, or shed tears of joy, but not kneel. Now, I don't care too much about your secrets, not enough to disrespect your privacy. But don't you fucking take me for an idiot." He used a simple spell and started floating, putting his eyes to her eye level.
She paled a little. "I was told to protect you-"
"I can take an obedient liar with me," he said, interrupting her, "but I won't take a useless one, no matter how good your intentions may be. Obey me, or get the hell away from here."
He was starting her training already. Following someone without agreeing on conditions beforehand was stupid. Lying to someone stronger than yourself without the ability to do it well enough was akin to suicide.
She had been too pampered as the Youngest from the Prophetesses; it was time to teach her worldly wisdom. Her obeying him was just a welcome plus.
Helina was completely lost, she simply didn't understand just what was going on.
Where had that conversation come from?
When did he notice her lying to him?
More importantly, why was he doing that?
No one had ever treated her like that. Even in the Temple, when she was being punished, people would do so with the proper decorum befitting a Youngest.
"Well?" He asked after some time of silence.
His face was stern, and as he floated in front of her, she felt she liked him more when she could look down on him.
She felt conflicted. On one hand, the Herald of Time was supposed to bring humanity victory against the demons, but on the other hand, he was just a Champion for now, and she had been ordered by Time to protect him – no matter what he said, she just knew Time was sentient.
But his ultimatum... Obey him or leave? Leave where? She was in the middle of the Wyvern Pass! They had lucked out for not being attacked the day before, but she had no hope of surviving if she walked alone.
Wasn't he being too unreasonable? Too overbearing?
"Why?" She asked. "Why are you doing this?"
He smiled in a wicked way. "Isn't it obvious? Because I can."
She shook her head intensely. "I don't believe it." Her voice was full of doubt. "You won't expel me in such a dangerous place."
His smile widened, but his eyes were cold. "Will you bet your life on that, girl?"
Her heart beat furiously. Would she bet her life on a boy she barely knew caring about her? He might have a glorious future in front of him, but all heroes had dark histories in their past. No one was born perfect.
Could she chance becoming just a footnote of a dark past in the Herald of Time's glorious history?
She couldn't get a grasp of her feelings. There was fear, there was regret, there was unwillingness. She felt like a trapped animal being forced to do whatever his new human owner wanted, like a powerless kid who wanted to struggle against her parents' orders, but knew she shouldn't.
She could try to rebel, yes, but could she deal with the consequences of doing so?
Her shoulders fell, her head lowered. She extended her Mana Sense as ordered, and said only one word. "Done."
Never before in her life had she felt so impotent.
Aaron felt a bit of pity for her, but it was better for her to face reality in a controlled environment than deal with people who really wanted to take advantage of her.
"Good," he said and landed on the ground. "Let me know if we're attacked. We'll stay here until tomorrow."
"Why are you doing all of this?" Shadow One asked. "I thought you were going to the White Sea to get better equipment."
"I am, but Mark is about to become a One-Star Warrior. Both him and Sara need the training, and what better training environment is there than a place filled with beasts, but with an Ascender at disposal to protect us?"
Shadow One would be gone soon enough if he had it his way. Why not take advantage of her while he could though?
Before she could reply, the sound of bones breaking could be heard together with a grunt of pain.
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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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