A sense of completion filled her body as she punched the door, causing a massive explosion that launched pieces of the Bloodline Vat in every direction. Rampant energies blasted out of the sealed chambers, her prison for the past month.
But she was finally out.
Inevitability looked around and saw that things were the same. Some of their new serfs had been bloodied by shrapnel, but she wasn’t in the mood to enjoy their pained cries as she turned her attention inward.
The crystal was perfectly formed in her body, continuously swallowing her Cosmic Energy and releasing a slightly modified energy. She had already heard from her master what the change would entail. The angrier she became the more powerful the energy would become. This power would come at the expense of her rationality, and perhaps even her safety, but who cared about that when it would allow her to kill those that angered her?
She opened her status screen, taking a look at her race to make sure.
[D] – Zhix – Manic Vessel (Special)
She went over her attributes quickly as well, disappointed that they hadn’t leaped forward after weeks of suffering. But the Bloodline Seed had finally managed to imprint a Synthetic Bloodline on her body with the help of the taboo technology. It, unfortunately, wasn’t a Combat Bloodline, but she didn’t really mind.
Calling it Special made it feel like the Bloodline was something her master had prepared specifically for her. She was about to close her status screen, but she noticed something interesting.
[E] Chains of Fate [24%]. 5% - ?.
There was a change in her cultivation manual as well, with a new number appearing. She would have to ask her master to be sure, but she guessed that her bloodline gave a five percent power boost at the minimum, rising even higher depending on her anger. As where the roof was, it would depend on how much Zachary Atwood would manage to piss her off.
Good, you’re out. Come see me, a voice echoed in Inevitability’s head, and her eyes lit up as she hurried toward the building her master used.
However, she stopped in her tracks when she saw her master’s situation, her eyes widening in shock. He was pale and gaunt, looking like he was beset by some unknown affliction. His pristine muscles were all withered away and it looked like a gust would topple him over. The only reason she didn’t panic was that his aura was as stable as ever.
“What’s wrong?!” Inevitability said with shock after she closed the door behind her.
Just what had happened while she was locked in that damn machine?
“You did it. Good job, Kirath,” Adcarkas said with a smile. “I’m fine. I had a tousle with the Super Brother-Man. He is stronger than I expected.”
“He’s still alive after meeting you?” Inevitability said incredulously.
“I met him outside. I couldn’t go all-out because of the compulsions,” Adcarkas sighed as he got to his feet. “Come with me, it’s almost time.”
Kirath mutely nodded as she followed her master out of the town, moving toward the inner reaches of the Heathen World. Her eyes kept darting toward her master with worry, seeing how he struggled to keep the pace. But she knew better than to ask or offer help.
A few walls of spatial tears tried to bar their path, but her master easily moved out of the way so that they could reach further inside.
“There is something I need to tell you. Something I’ve kept from you and your brother all this time,” Adcarkas suddenly said without stopping.
“What’s going on?” Inevitability asked with confusion.
“I was born almost 800 years ago. My master was Barvat, the previous leader of the True Path. However, the True Path was almost extinguished when the Crusade took place. The war killed most of our people, leaving just Barvat behind, severely weakened. Much was lost in those desperate years, and my master’s conviction started faltering,” Adcarkas sighed.
“How is this related to our current situation?” Inevitability asked with a frown.
Truthfully, she hated listening about the True Path or The Great Redeemer. Their master was as much to blame for her brother’s death as Zachary Atwood, as far as she was concerned. If not for his rules they would have long killed that human to snuff out a threat in its cradle. Besides, his convoluted plan had forced her true master to live like a rat for centuries when he should have been the leader of the Zhix.
“Just listen,” Adcarkas said, a dangerous glint in his eyes telling Inevitability that he would not tolerate any more interruptions.
“Barvat asked himself, was all this suffering worth the small morsels of power that Voridis A’Heliophos left for us? Are there truly no other paths to take? But such thoughts were obviously heresy, and he suffered great backlashes as a result. However, he somehow managed to hold on for centuries while being tortured by the Karmic Bindings of The Great Redeemer. One day he managed to complete a daring plan,” Adcarkas said. "And that's when he took me on as a disciple, an orphan of just four years."
“He split my soul into two.”
“Wh-“ Inevitability blurted, but she quickly stopped herself.
“It was crude and it shouldn't have succeeded, but here I stand. Then again, I suspect that I was not his first attempt. Most of my soul is completely bound by the Karmic Bindings, but a small part is free. One part is out in the open, one is hidden, like a whisper in the void,” Adcarkas sighed. “I couldn’t openly defy our master, but my subconscious could slightly alter my actions, and sometimes even take over for a short duration.”
Inevitabilities’ heart beat like a drum as she listened to her master. This was the first time she had ever heard him display anything except devout fervor and fanaticism for The Great Redeemer.
“Obviously such a procedure caused some side-effects, like an unstable disposition,” Adcarkas wryly smiled. “But it gave me a chance to break the chains that binds me. That would have bound you.”
“Would have?” Inevitability muttered with confusion.
“Haven’t you noticed? Neither you nor your brother were as fervent followers as me or previous generations. It was not a coincidence. My subconscious modified your cultivation manuals. It wasn’t enough to completely rid you of the Karmic Contract, but it was a step in the right direction. That’s why you could attack Zachary Atwood during the hunt. That’s why your brother could move out without telling me,” Adcarkas sighed, vexation glimmering in his eyes. “You could say I am responsible for the death of Karath through my meddling.”
“That’s not-!” Kirath blurted, but was stopped by a wave of Adcarkas’ hand.
“First I hoped that my changes would lessen the bindings by each subsequent generation, but that goal had to be discarded when the Integration took place. I saw no option but to fulfill the contract. However, everything changed when we found this place,” Adcarkas said. “Here the Karmic Contract is muted, and I could freely plan for our future.”
“So we’re not going to follow that man when he arrives?!” Inevitability couldn’t stop herself from asking, her eyes widening with anticipation.
“You’ve read the reports. What’s the point of following a man who needed to take a crooked path just to reach D-Grade, even with the vast wealth of a grand Cultivator Clan at his beck and call? And now he’s out of time, needing to perform an even greater sacrifice. Trash,” Adcarkas spat.
“Then what are we doing here? Let’s just go?” Inevitability ventured.
“We can’t,” Adcarkas sighed. “We are still caught in his net. But I think I might have found a solution. Ah, we’re here.”
Inevitability hadn’t checked where they were going at all as she raptly listened to her master’s narration, but her eyes widened when she saw a massive field of spatial rifts blocking their path, hundreds upon hundreds of them.
“Stay close to me,” Adcarkas said as they started to make their way through the field of spatial chaos.
Kirath stayed on the heels of Adcarkas, a sheen of sweat covering her face as they moved forward. Her master was clearly struggling to clear the path for them, and she hated that there wasn’t anything she could do to assist him. It took them almost an hour to move just a hundred meters, but Kirath was shocked to see what was on the other side.
It was a large spatial sphere hovering in the center of a large hall, a starry night depicted in its center. Kirath had heard of these Void Spheres before, but they weren’t supposed to be this big, or this stable. It was no doubt an accomplishment of her master. After all, the whole room was absolutely covered in dense inscriptions.
She also noted with interest that there were over a hundred crystals embedded among the inscriptions. She had wondered where all those Gemling artisans had gone, it turned out that they had been turned into materials for an array.
“What’s this?” Kirath asked with wonder.
“The way to break the bonds of fate. The key to freedom,” Adcarkas said with a smile.
“A Void Sphere?” Kirath asked with confusion.
“Our Strength is still nothing compared to Voridis A’Heliophos,” Adcarkas explained. “So we need to borrow the power of the Dimensional Seed. It’s just a treasure, but is still a tier higher than our master.”
“I understand!” Kirath said, her eyes lighting up. “It’s amazing how master could think of something as intricate as this.”
“You’re just as important for the next step,” Adcarkas said as he took out a box. “This will require both our effort. For freedom.”
“Me?” Kirath repeated as her eyes turned to the box as her master opened it.
It looked like an egg made from thousands of thin metal wires, each of them woven in extremely intricate patterns. It was roughly the size of her head, but it wasn’t completely solid. She could somewhat discern a sanguine crystal glistening in its core, held in place by some of the wires.
The crystal itself wasn’t something Inevitability recognized, but her antennae felt a sharp backlash from the amount of power it contained. She didn’t know what her master had created, but she knew that it had the power to kill her outright.
A small spatial tear suddenly appeared out of nowhere, cutting a shallow wound on her master’s arm. A trail of blood ran down his hand, entering a small groove on the metal egg. The blood continued to run down the sides of the egg, forming an intricate red pattern across its surface.
“You next,” Adcarkas said as he walked over to Kirath.
She unhesitantly cut open a similar wound as her master. Kirath felt a wave of dizziness hit as her blood dripped down on the egg, and she looked down at it with confusion. Her blood actually followed a completely different set of grooves, forming a second pattern on the surface of the egg before it entered its depths.
“Good,” Adcarcas nodded before he walked over to the Void Sphere.
Kirath followed his actions with confusion, and her eyes widened when she saw him throw the egg inside the sphere. It rippled like the surface of a lake, and the starry night suddenly disappeared. It was replaced by thousands out of thousands of harried faces, all of them Zhix. One tormented spirit kept replacing another in an endless cycle until the sphere stabilized and turned completely pitch-black.
“Enter it,” Adcarkas said.
“What? Enter? That thing?” Kirath said with hesitation.
“My body is too wounded to withstand it for too long. But it is not dangerous to you now that your bloodline is awakened. Look,” Adcarkas said as he pushed his bleeding hand into the Void Sphere, causing a small swirl of red to enter its depths. But his arm was mostly unscathed as he dragged it out again. “Besides, I need to control the array to make sure it runs properly."
“What do I need to do?” Kirath asked.
“Just hold on and don’t move. You will form the connection between us and our master. He will try to stop us from breaking the contract, and it will hurt. But you need to hold on. For freedom,” Adcarkas said as he turned toward Kirath, yearning in his eyes.
“I understand. I will not disappoint you,” Kirath said as she took a steadying breath before entering the massive sphere.
Her heart hammered from fear as she was submerged in the darkness. She didn't fear getting killed in battle, but this was something else entirely. But seconds passed and she soon calmed down soon enough as she felt that nothing was amiss. It even felt a bit like she was enclosed in her master's embrace because of the enormous concentration of Spatial Energy around her.
There was a weird power burrowing into her body, but it wasn’t very painful. It just seemed to blend with the power from the crystal in her chest. She opened her eyes, seeing a small swirl of her blood rushing from her arm toward the heart of the sphere. Just like her master’s. She turned her head toward the outside, and she saw her master looking back at her speaking as he gestured.
I can’t hear you, she said, but no sound came out.
Adcarkas still nodded in understanding and indicated for her to take a seated position and steady her mind. She quickly followed his instructions, and she felt a weird power appear all around her a second later. Her master had started.
The weird power soon started to enter her body and discomfort quickly turned into pain. She grit her teeth and held on, not wanting to ruin her master's efforts. But the odd energy started creeping into her mind as well, like tendrils of corruption. Her very soul reflexively shuddered and tried to shake off the intrusion, and a sense of wrongness quickly overcame her determination.
Eventually, she couldn't take it any longer, and she opened her eyes again to look at her master for directions. He looked back at her with a comforting smile, but there was a terrifying coldness in the depths of his eyes. She tried to move but her body didn't listen.
Desolation, sorrow, acceptance.
She closed her eyes again, and images of a long-lost time flickered through her mind. Of the small workshop in the heart of the basin, some distance away from the Hive. Of two orphans playing while their master worked on his inventions. A carefree time under a different sky.
A smile crept across Adcarkas face as he sensed how the resistance subsided, knowing his gambit had succeeded.
“A Fulcrum and the death of a world, to open the path to Monarchy. I’ll provide these things, erasing the debt of the True Path and severing Karma. If my dear master is here to reap the benefits or not, that’s his problem,” Adcarkas muttered as his eyes turned toward the Core of the Mystic Realm. “My destiny lies elsewhere.”