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A note from MelasD

Big shotuout to VoidHerald's new fic, Underland! It is by the amazing VoidHerald, so you know it'll be good. Seriously, he can write anything and produce art. Check it out and give it a rating!

Once, the sun shone brightly on Azlant. Until came the Whitemoon, to steal mankind's light and condemn it to eternal darkness. 

Valdemar Verney is a sorcerer with a dream: to find a new world for his people to settle, one where the sky isn't a ceiling made of stone. But in the underground empire of Azlant, dissent is never tolerated. Brought before one of the undead Dark Lords, Valdemar is offered a choice he cannot refuse. Meanwhile, the swordswoman Marianne Reynard is given a mission: to investigate a dead cult with a few mysteries left to unravel.

Both are looking for the truth, though they might regret finding it; for many cultists, monsters, and cosmic horrors stand in their way. They'll just have to kill them all.

Underland | Royal Road


214. Enigmatic Heart

“Go away! You’re wild!”

A Demon stood before me. She had pale skin, almost translucent and white, as pure as the clouds in the sky. Her hair was only a single shade darker than her complexion. It was silver in color, falling down to her shoulders in a disheveled mess. Our golden eyes met as she pointed a clawed finger my way.

“You cannot have my heart! It’s mine and mine alone!”

I stood before myself. The Demon matched my height, matched my hair, matched my claws, and matched my eyes. Our ears were both pointed, poking out of the side of our heads. And there, across her face, was a look of defiance that I so often bore.

Yet, despite our similarities, she was nothing like me. I had my hair tied and held up by a band given to me by Edithe. I wore a blue jacket— a Unique Grade item— from another world. A gift from a companion from another world. But she was not wearing a blue jacket.

She was not wearing clothes, not wearing artifacts, not wearing a hairband.

She was not real. Even if she seemed real. The words she spoke— they resounded in my head.

I narrowed my eyes.

Mind magic.

“You can’t trick me. I know… that’s not real. I know you’re not real.”

“I am real!”

She shouted. Her indignance was evident.

“You’re—”

Not holding a Nebular Scythe. Not wielding flaming magic.

“You’re just pretending to be me. You’re fake. Show yourself, [Lux Golmi].”

My gaze snapped around. It was an illusion. It had to be an illusion. But could Golems even cast illusion magic? This didn’t feel like the spell Belzu had cast to trap and ensnare me. My senses weren’t impeded, leading me to believe that what I smelled, heard, touched, saw, and tasted were real.

It was like what I could feel was diluted. However, I knew it wasn’t real.

The voice continued to echo in my mind. And I approached the faux Demon.

“You’re trying to trick me.”

“Trick you? I do not care about you! I just want to be left alone!”

“You goaded me on!”

I pointed accusingly at it. It stood there, harmless. A phantasm. She had no way to fight me. No weapon in its hand. No argument that could compel me to stop.

She wasn’t real. She wasn’t me. No companions. No words.

I raised my Nebular Scythe, and her eyes widened. Her entire body quivered, quaking in fear.

“You’re— you’re wild. I was just… I was with the others. And now you want to kill me. Even though I’m not a rock…”

I bit my lower lip. Taking a step back, I glared at the Demon.

“Why do you keep saying that? You’re a Golem. You’re a literal pile of rocks! Just one that can move! And now, talk for some reason!”

“So why does that give you the right to kill me?”

“Because you have something I want.”

I needed her— its Enigmatic Heart. It was the key ingredient necessary for making my Potion of Regeneration. Without it, I’d fail my alchemy lab, and risk getting expelled from Mavos Academy. Also, I’d still be missing my sixth arm while transformed in [Demonic Essence].

It was no different from fighting a group of Humans or monsters who were in my way, stopping me from achieving my goals. I’d skill the [Lux Golmi] and be done with it. But when it spoke once more, I hesitated.

“You’re wild!”

It repeated the words. The words that ground my movements to a halt. It struck me, a clean-cut wound to my chest that forced me to draw away from it. I glared at it, crossing my arms in annoyance.

“I…”

I took a deep breath.

“How am I wild? I have a reason to do this. I’m not just attacking you because of my instinct. I act with purpose. I’m not a wild Demon. I’m Salvos.

“But you’re trying to kill me. You’re the one here to take my life away from me. I’m only trying to protect myself.”

Was what I was doing wild? For a moment— a very brief moment— I closed my eyes. I thought about what I was doing. I was here with purpose, yes. To claim its Enigmatic Heart for my own gain. But did that make what I was doing right?

From the [Lux Golmi]’s perspective, I just barged into its home with a scythe, swinging the weapon and trying to kill it by ripping out its heart. That wasn’t… the most flattering representation of me. I enjoyed being terrifying. Because, when others feared me, they recognized me as better than them.

Which was all good and true.

Was I in the right here? Was I in the wrong here? Was I evil? Was I good? Did any of that matter? Those were Human ideals. At least, the ones that I was familiar with.

Kobolds had different ideas of what was good and bad; of what was evil and just. They warred with Humans because of it. Humans warred with Humans because they didn’t agree on how things were or how things should be.

I couldn’t care less about any of that.

I needed to graduate from Mavos Academy. I needed to get my sixth arm back. I needed to see Haec again.

This was what mattered to me. It was what drove me. I wasn’t wild. I couldn’t be wild. I invented the idea of what was wild. I decided what was wild and what was not— I was the arbiter, and I had made my decision.

“You’re messing with my head.”

I spoke simply. The apparition backed up, and I sliced it in half.

“You’re using my own arguments against me. To chase me away. Because you’re scared. You’re afraid. You don’t want to fight me. But that’s obvious. I knew that from your false words. There’s another reason why you want me to keep away— why you want me to leave.”

It didn’t scream as it fell in two. My Nebular Scythe cut through its skin like it was made of water. The body fell in two pieces, each evaporating until nothing was left. A mere simmering of my mind, drawn out by the [Lux Golmi]’s mind magic.

I marched forward, dragging the sizzling-edge of my scythe against the ground, scarring it with the smoldering determination I felt in my chest. The cave chamber was large. It stretched hundreds of feet across, its fringes dotted with what seemed like fallen rubble.

However, they moved. All at once, the rocks rose from the earth, an incomprehensible feat if one didn’t discern their true nature. Each and every single one of them that stood were Golems. They came in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Some of them were short, barely up to my torso; while others were much larger, even up to three times my height.

One of them dwarfed the rest. A giant that could be mistaken for a small hill. It dug itself out of the ground, growing taller with each passing second. When it straightened, it was the size of a castle’s tallest towers. Its hand alone could crush me with its sheer size. It vaguely resembled the shape of a Human, with arms that could touch its legs even when standing straight. Just made up of rocks.

I looked up at it, staring at the pink glow that was the only source of light in the dark cavern.

[Lux Golmi - Lvl. 131]

I was surrounded by a hundred Golems. A sound echoed in my head— one that had rang out earlier, but was muffled by the faux voice.

 

Now entering [Lair: Guard of the Golems].

 

I saw my goal right before me. The Enigmatic Heart of the [Lux Golmi] glinted, a massive crystal jammed into the chest of the gigantic Golem. It was what I wanted.

But it was not alone. It was surrounded by hundreds of its own companions. While I was alone.

It loomed over me, threatening to strike me that instant. I stared defiantly back at it, even as I heard the cacocopy of Golems encroach on me from behind. The [Lux Golmi] spoke in my head once more, this time, in a deep, bellowing voice.

“Wԋყ ԃιԃ ყσυ ƈσɱҽ?”

The words itself would’ve sent me reeling if I didn’t steel myself. I brought my scythe up, speaking unwaveringly.

“I’m here for Haec. For my classes. And most importantly, for myself.”

It took a step forward, and the entire cavern shook.

“Lҽαʋҽ.”

“I will not. Not until I have what I want.”

I glanced around at the Golems. Many of them were barely at Level 20. Only a handful were above Level 70. They’d be nothing more than a nuisance to me. I felt a flash of emotion wash over me. I knew what the [Lux Golmi] was feeling, thanks to its mind magic.

It was a word that was new to me. But I understood what it meant here.

“You... love your companions, don’t you? You’re doing this to protect them. Well, I’m doing the same.”

“Sσ ɯҽ ϝιɠƚ?”

“We don’t have to fight.”

The [Lux Golmi] cocked its head. I pointed up at its Enigmatic Heart.

“I just need a piece of your heart. A single shard. Then I’ll go.”

It reeled back, and the other Golems tensed. I shook my head.

“This is not a threat. I do not want to fight you. I didn’t even know that… rocks could talk. But here you are. Here we are.”

I gestured around, sighing. Love. The [Lux Golmi] tried to chase me away because it loved its companions. It did it to protect them. The more I focused on that word, the more I could feel what it felt.

Was this the same kind of love Nolan said he had for me? Was this the same kind of love that Saffron talked about? Maybe not. But it was close enough.

“I’m not wild. I’m Salvos. And I will fight for myself and my companions. So will you. But we don’t need to fight here. Let me take a single shard.”

That was all that I needed for my Potion of Regeneration. Taking the whole Enigmatic Heart would be an utter waste. I tossed aside my Nebular Scythe, once again facing the [Lux Golmi], and offering it an open hand.

“Do you trust me? For your companions.”

The giant Golem hesitated. It mulled over the question for a moment, but I already knew the decision it was about to make. Mind magic echoed in my head.

“Yҽʂ.”

With a smile, I approached the [Lux Golmi]. It lowered its guard, even as the other Golems panicked. But it kept them back. Offering me its hand, I climbed onto its open palm. There was rustling beneath my feet. Moss. Softer than grass.

It carried me up to its chest, halting just before the Enigmatic Heart. I placed my hand on it, closing my eyes. Its light glowed and dimmed, like the slow breathing of a child. Now, more than before, I could understand the [Lux Golmi]. There was some kind of connection. It was a result of mind magic, I knew. And yet, it was stronger now that I was gently brushing my fingers against it.

“Just a single shard.”

I spoke honestly, and it nodded. Its faceless head bore into me with an empty gaze, but I knew that it was afraid. So, I didn’t make any sudden movements. I just tapped a single clawed finger against the Enigmatic Heart—

Crack.

A shard fell off. It clinked onto my own fingers. I took a step back, looking at the pink glow of the [Lux Golmi]’s Enigmatic Heart. It flickered. Then it was back to normal.

“Thank you.”

I tightly gripped onto the shard of the Enigmatic Heart, seeing its oscillating pink light. The [Lux Golmi] drew its head back, raising its arm. I blinked and glanced up.

“Huh. Is that the exit?”

There was a narrow hole up above, one that was almost invisible in the darkness. It was a way out of the Lair. My presence still made the [Lux Golmi] uncomfortable, even if it knew I already had what I wanted. I gave it a reassuring look.

“I’ll leave now.”

Spreading my wings wide, I leapt up into the air. I hovered right by its head, glancing at the fallen tunnel back where I came from.

“Hey, at least with the cave-in, people are not going to be able to find you as easily as before, right?”

The [Lux Golmi] didn’t say anything. I rolled my eyes.

“Can’t even look at the bright side. Oh well. Goodbye!”

I flew up to the hole, leaving the Lair of Golems behind. I heard the notification resound in my head. I continued on, not stopping even as I left the darkness behind me, even as I saw the light. I continued past the entrance of the Dungeon. I continued past the canopy of trees. And I continued to make my way back to Mavos Academy.

I finally had what I needed to make a Potion of Regeneration.

 

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MelasD

  • Self-proclaimed most Successful Young Author on RoyalRoad based off the overly specific criteria he set. Became the 21st novel to hit 10,000 followers on the 21st of September, 2021, at the age of 21.
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