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Neave stood over Radeon’s headless corpse. Blood not of his own dripped down his lips. He remembered Radeon’s words.

Have you not slaughtered your sect members!?

Now, in the post-fight silence, he stood alone.

And those damned words finally sunk in.

The Zearthorn sect was gone.

Neave had no idea why it was gone.

Did everybody for some reason think it was Neave that destroyed the sect? If so, did that mean that everybody in the sect was dead? But that made no sense. It made no sense at all. If everyone was dead, that would include Marven. If they thought Neave had killed Marven then they wouldn’t have been sending silver and gold path cultivators after him.

But those words still hung on his mind. Did these people truly believe he was some sort of loose monstrosity that needed to be hunted down and killed?

His breathing sped up.

Did this mean that they were hunting him down not out of greed but for the sake of removing a potentially dangerous threat?

His heart beat faster.

If so then who had he just slaughtered?

No.

No, that wasn’t right. These people were still after his life. If it was due to a misunderstanding it was still their own damn fault for being dumbasses. So they were either dangerously stupid or greedy and evil.

Just the way all cultivators are…

Neave sighed. Killing humans wasn’t like killing demons. When he killed the elders he knew that they deserved it, so that was fine. When he was attacked by the masked cultivators in Pavarrie, he couldn’t see their faces, he didn’t know their names or genders or dreams or beliefs or anything, so he didn’t care. But this…

“Isn’t this world just fucking rotten?”

Neave felt the madness recede. It was like he was lucid for the first time in a while. He stood, covered in blood head to toe, every cell in his body screaming in agony, yet he felt exactly the same way he had felt when he was nothing more than just an eleven-year-old boy.

An outcast whose very existence seemed to be unacceptable to cultivators.

As he was drifting in thought he sensed something. There was a spirit. It was way out of his spirit sense range, but he could still feel it nonetheless. He frowned and focused harder, noticing a small ethereal thread connecting his spirit to the other one. So he followed it.

***

Gabrias was still hiding in a tree. He was quite literally on the brink of shitting his pants. The noise had stopped coming a few minutes ago and he was too far to tell which side had won. The rational part of him felt there was no way they had failed.

But the fight was so, so loud.

What made all the noise then? The child must have put up a damn good fight if it sounded like an entire mountain was collapsing.

This was the exact moment he spotted the child standing right below the tree and staring up at him.

He nearly had a heart attack.

***

Neave stared at the shivering cultivator and he felt like he knew him from somewhere. The man shuffled and fell from the high branch onto the grass beneath.

“No! Please! Don’t kill me!”

“Wait, I remember you! Didn’t you pay me a visit when I was living in Pavarrie?” Neave remembered the feeling of something washing over his spirit. Then he looked at the thread connecting their spirits. “Oh for fucks sake, don’t tell me you were tracking me?”

“Please, please I will do anything just don’t kill me!”

The man begged and screamed. Neave could see the patch of cloth around the man’s crotch dampen as he pissed himself. Neave stared at him with a sad look in his eye. So they knew. If this man had visited him first he must have told them what Neave was like. They had no excuse to be hunting him down like an animal...

Out of every belief he'd held. Out of everything he thought was correct...

This was the one time he wished he had been wrong.

“Okay, alright man just stop this crap, I’m not going to kill you.”

That didn’t make Gabrias feel any less frightened at all.

“Wh–What are you going to do to me?”

Neave pondered that. He didn't want to kill this man. This man was a malicious child killer that was worth less than the dirt he pissed himself on.

But did that mean that killing him was truly the only option?

ҾҾҾҾҾÞÞÞÞÞÞ

Yes, it was.

No, it wasn't.

Neave blinked a few times, dazed at the strange sense of incongruence he felt. He had a small headache. He touched the temple of his head. But when he touched his hand, he pulled it back and looked at his hand.

His hand was bloody.

Why was his hand bloody?

He wasn't bleeding.

He didn't remember using his hands to kill anyone either. Neave shrugged.

It must ÞÞÞÞbe notҾhing.

Neave looked back at the pathetic man and decided.

“I will be making you my henchman, of course!”

Gabrias stared at Neave, dumbfounded.

“Huh!?”

“You will be my loyal dog! Now get on your knees and beg!”

Gabrias froze. He couldn’t believe his ears. But the moment Neave as much as opened his mouth to speak again he was already on all fours, barking like a dog.

“Good boy! Now you smell like shit so I’ll have to bathe you!”

Neave dragged Gabrias by his leg and ran to a nearby creek. Then he dipped him into the water a few times and gave him a good swirl. He pulled out the dazed Gabrias and then blew at him with fire breath to dry him up. Gabrias screamed.

“Oh, don’t be a baby! You’re on the bronze path, a bit of fire won’t hurt you.”

Neave then pulled a rope out of his dimension ring and tied Gabrias up. He tied him up into more or less a ball and then tied this giant man to his back, literally carrying him like a backpack. Then he set off running.

***

Neave spent the next entire day running. This time, rather than leaving a disaster behind him, he moved stealthily and avoided fighting or stirring up any monsters.

Although he didn’t know the direction towards the capital, he was still a gigantic nerd. He couldn’t tell just from the nearest few mountains, but after passing several mountain ranges he was rather confident he remembered where he was on the map of the empire. He had literally memorized the entire map and now he cross-referenced his environment and placed his location rather confidently on the map.

He had surprisingly enough been running vaguely in the direction of the capital this whole time. He still only covered a tiny bit of the distance, however. But he was very close to a settlement. Neave ran to the small town and after he’d approached it, left Gabrias alone in the woods. He tied him up to a tree like a dog. Gabrias couldn’t run away even if he wanted, since Neave could track him down by following the thread generated by Gabrias’ spirit power. And sadly, Gabrias couldn’t just cancel the tracking either. Not unless he had another target to track. But he was in the forest. Alone.

And Neave promised to kill him if he moved out of the range of the rope.

Neave walked over to the town. Then he stopped once he spotted the town in the distance. He felt… Awful. The very thought of stepping into the town made him feel sick to the stomach. He was tempted to just run off into the woods and never talk to another person again. But he wanted to be around people. He didn’t want to just be a ‘thing to be chased down’ forever. Besides, there was something he needed to do.

He walked towards the town, taking careful step after careful step. Neave kept looking down to the ground. He walked up to the entrance of the town and lined up in the short line of people waiting to get in. He was breathing heavily. His palms were sweating.

“Hey, kid! Where did you come from? Are you lost?” The town guard looked Neave up and down. His clothes were torn, and he looked like he’d been living in the wilderness for weeks.

Neave looked up to the guard. And he clenched his teeth, tensed his muscles, and resisted his reflex reaction. The guard wasn’t a human to Neave.

It was a dҾmon.

The guard was a sickly gray, dirty, eyeless demon with a gaping maw. Neave kept looking at the guard's face until the image of the demon disappeared. He breathed out a sigh of relief.

“Good question. I want to say that I am not lost, but what defines lost? Are you perhaps referring to the state of not knowing where you are? If so, I know where I am. Are you referring to the state of being lost to someone else? I have nobody to whom I could be lost. But if you may be referring to a more spiritual, philosophical definition of lost, then I am…”

A burly man behind Neave spoke up.

“Hurry the hell up, kid!”

Neave turned around, spotting the large (demØÿn) ÞÞÞÞÞÞ man.

“This kind gentleman has asked me a question, I’d be rude to deny him an answer, no?”

“I don’t have time for some beggar being a smart-ass. Move or I will make you move.”

Neave just turned around and ignored him.

“As I was saying…”

Suddenly, the man grabbed him by his hair and pushed him out of the line and onto the ground. The guard frowned at that but he didn’t say anything. Neave lay on the ground, completely motionless.

Kill him.

ƧƧÞÞÿ

Just kill him.

He doesn’t deserve to live.

That is no man, that is a beast.

That is a demon, Neave.

The guard is a dÞemon too.

The spectators are demons too.

You are young.

New. ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ

They are old.

They have ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞbeen here for much longer than you.

These are the ones who have created such a rotten world.

They are guilty.

And you must punish them.

Neave started getting up. His mouth opened just a bit too much and his fists clenched. His eyes shot open and he stared back at the tall demon.

He took one step forward.

Then another.

“What is it kid, you want to fight or something?”

Just as Neave was about to kill the man, he heard a voice.

“...Neave?”

Neave turned around.

Two demons, no, two people stood behind him.

Harel and his father stared at him with wide eyes and gaping mouths.

Neave’s first instinct was to run away. But upon seeing his father’s face he just couldn’t stop the spite from bubbling up to the surface.

“Father dearest! What a surprise! May you please let me know exactly what kind of calamity struck the sect after I left? Did a fucking meteorite fall from the sky? Or maybe it was some horrible monster from the depths? Or maybe…”

Everybody was staring at the spectacle. The burly man scoffed and ignored the scene.

Neave was going to continue but he noticed the unusual expression on Marven’s face. No, the expression wasn’t just unusual. Marven was crying. He ran towards Neave, who almost reacted by hitting him with a true strike. But he held himself back. Marven hugged Neave and cried into his shoulder.

“You’re alive. My son is alive.”

Neave couldn’t find the words to speak.

***

Neave, Harel, and Marven sat awkwardly around a campfire. It was already nighttime. They didn’t go into the town, rather choosing to camp outside to get some much-needed privacy. Harel was deathly silent. Not only was she afraid that saying anything could ruin the father-son reunion, but she was also… Intimidated.

Neave gave off a crazy presence now. He didn’t have that much mass, but Harel could tell that those weren’t ordinary muscles. Harel couldn’t feel his cultivation, but she could tell that even elder Kaphor would have gotten utterly demolished in a fight against this Neave. Everything about him looked wild.

They had already been sitting in front of the campfire for at least half an hour. Nobody had said even a word. Neave stared directly at his father. Then he finally spoke up.

“What happened to the sect?”

Marven responded with a sardonic smirk on his lips.

“I destroyed it.”

“Bruh.”

“What?” Both Harel and Marven asked at the same time.

“I mean, uh, why?”

Marven took a deep breath and released it slowly, then he looked Neave in the eye.

“You were right. In hindsight, I can’t even believe I let things get that bad. Like a frog getting boiled slowly over hundreds of years I was cooked alive. It is almost ironic that being such a shitty sect master that nobody ever surpassed me was also probably the only reason I am even still alive. What a joke of a sect master I was, truly.”

Neave couldn’t believe his ears. He was looking at Marven Zearthorn. The arrogant, almighty know-it-all sect master that represented everything he hated about cultivators. Harel was taller than him. He was rather short, so being taller than him wasn’t a massive achievement, but… He always seemed gigantic. It was like an optical illusion, no matter the physical size of anyone standing next to him he always somehow seemed larger, greater.

But now he seemed tiny, defeated.

And weak.

“I want to ask you a question in return. Neave, what was in that book?”

Neave paused. He was about to give him some bullshit excuse and dodge the question, but he didn’t want to. He wanted to tell them. Neave wanted someone to know.

So he told them.

He told them about the place he had found himself in, and he told them about the demons. He told them about the impossible challenge he had to overcome and the eternity spent in agony. Harel couldn’t breathe. At some point, she felt like she was going to have a panic attack. Marven looked grave and distressed.

They wanted to believe he was just pulling their leg. Both Harel and Marven wanted to believe Neave was just joking or being overly imaginative.

But the sheer level of detail combined with Neave’s abnormal abilities was proof enough.

And he did not sound like he was joking. Not even a little bit.

“I am… I am so sorry Neave. I should have cast that book away a long time ago. I am so sorry. I… I…” Marven was breathing heavily.

Harel passed out.

“Harel! Are you alright?” Marven jumped.

Neave felt strangely satisfied with their reaction. Some twisted part of him relished. It felt validating. He had lived through something these weaklings couldn’t even endure through a retelling. But those feelings were cast aside. The way Marven jumped when Harel passed out just felt…

Neave scoffed.

The old man was finally treating someone like their own kid… What a joke.

Neave waited for Marven to wake Harel up. She got up and sat back down, looking petrified. Neave looked at the two of them and he felt… Confused. Marven had always been what Neave thought of as a, lightly put, horrible human being.

So why did it feel like he had changed?

Did this mean that it was possible for shit people to not be shit people?

Neave asked them a question.

“What do the two of you want?”

Marven spoke slowly, almost as if embarrassed.

“Well, I just wanted to talk to you and apologize for my…”

“No, you idiot, I mean in general. Why do the two of you strive for power? What are your goals?”

Marven went silent and Harel stared at Neave in confusion. She wasn’t certain how to answer the question, mostly because the answer seemed to be so obvious.

“Why else, but to gain more power? Being more powerful is good, you and the ones you care about are in less danger and you get to live a better life.”

“Be honest with me Harel. That’s a bullshit answer. If anything, the more powerful you become, the more danger you and those you care about are in.”

Harel was about to object, but Marven nodded in agreement. So she paused and thought about it. She remembered their trip so far, the places they’d visited.

Everywhere, everything was fortified. All cities and towns were heavily defended and walled off from the outside. And outside…

“I want to get more powerful so I can help fight against the monster apocalypse.”

“You are lying.”

“No, I am being honest.”

“That isn’t what you want to get, that is what you’re willing to trade for it. That is the bit of freedom you’re willing to cast away. So I ask you again. Be honest with me, Harel. What do you want?”

Harel hesitated for a good bit, but the more she thought about it the more confident she was that she had the right answer. But she started blushing as it felt incredibly embarrassing saying it out loud.

“I… I want to be seen as a hero!”

Those are some thick chains.

“I’m sorry?”

“And what do you want to do then?”

Harel blushed harder.

“I want… I want people to praise me and I want my name to be remembered. There, happy?”

Neave nodded. A solid answer in his books. He then turned to Marven, who laughed.

“Are you going to ask me the same question? I mean, shouldn’t that already be obvious? I’ve never been particularly secretive about it.”

Both Harel and Neave raised an eyebrow at that. Marven was surprised that they couldn’t guess.

“It’s so I can have as many women as I want, of course!”

Both Neave and Harel gave him a flat look. Harel scooted a bit further away from him and Neave snickered.

“What!? Didn’t you say I should be honest?”

“Oh that was honest, dad, maybe even a bit too honest.”

Marven scoffed and turned away.

“Well, that’s what my goal has always been. Sadly it isn’t as easy as it may seem. I haven’t made much progress in that regard.”

Neave broke out into laughter and Harel stared daggers at him.

“There’s more to relations with women than just you know, why the hell am I talking to kids about this? I must truly be going mad.”

Neave almost fell over to the ground in laughter. Harel looked at Marven as if he were a wart growing on her finger. Neave laughed it out and asked again.

“So, do you two want to start a sect with me?”

Marven and Harel looked at him in surprise. Harel was the first to speak.

“A sect? What do you…?”

Marven lifted his hand and interrupted Harel.

“Neave. We have told you ours, now I would like to hear about your goals. What do you want?”

Neave pondered. His eyes seemed to grow vacant and he stared up into the sky.

“Oh, my goals are simple, I just want to slaughter all the devils and lord over the gods.”

That sounded like a joke. But something about the way that joke was delivered felt… Well, if anything, he probably wasn’t lying about those being his goals.

Harel and Marven didn’t press any further.

“Look, Neave, I do know why you would want to start another sect, but I am not willing to become a sect master again.”

“Who said you will be the sect master?” Neave grinned.

“Oh, you wish to do it yourself?” Marven grinned back.

“Nope. I have a brilliant idea. Follow me!”

Neave led the two of them a bit further into the woods.

Harel shrieked and Marven frowned. There was a man tied to a tree like some sort of farm animal. The man whimpered upon seeing Neave and stared at Marven and Harel with pleading eyes. Marven stepped up.

“Neave! What the hell is going on here?”

“Oh, this? This is just a dog, don’t worry about it.”

“Neave, I know you’ve been through a lot, but that doesn’t give you the right to act like you’re out of your heavens damned mind! Unhand that man at once!”

“This man right here pops, is a man that had marked me with a tracking spirit power and led an entire platoon of cultivators to kill me, including three on the gold path.”

Marven paused. He paused at the insinuation of Neave’s statement.

“Does that…”

Neave just grinned.

“How… Exactly how much have you advanced since you escaped the sect?”

Neave grinned harder and removed the veil.

Marven’s eyes shot open in disbelief.

The very beginning of the foundation realm.

“Is that… Is that another trick?”

Neave just blew a bit of fire into Marven’s face. Marven flinched.

Spirit powers?

“No. Let’s just say I side-stepped the path for now. Dog! Get up.”

Gabrias shot up to his feet.

“Now stop shaking.”

Then he froze.

Neave turned to Harel and Marven, who were staring at Neave in disbelief.

“See? Wouldn’t he pass for a great sect master?”

Marven wanted to set the man free initially, but the man’s actions had most certainly not gathered much sympathy from him. He didn’t want his son to be walking down such a path, however. But he didn’t know what to do either. Neave was clearly more than a little crazy. Marven wanted to be careful and approach the situation delicately. For now, he decided to play along.

“Look, Neave, it takes more to be a sect master than just being intimidating. This man is on the third step of the bronze path. Even the most backwater sects are led by at least someone on the silver path…”

“Don’t worry about that father! Look!” Neave pointed at Gabrias and a thin tendril of life force shot out of Neave’s finger. A strange liquid flowed along the thread of life force and it touched the man’s skin. The moment it did, he started screaming in agony.

Marven winced and wanted to stop whatever Neave was doing, but if he interrupted him he was afraid the man’s life would be endangered. Marven grit his teeth, but his mouth shot open in shock soon enough.

Neave wrapped a thin layer of the man’s life force around his spirit.

“Phew, that was hard!” Neave wiped the sweat off his brow and the man finally seemed to be able to breathe. “Now that we’ve hidden his cultivation, we can just make him pretend to be really strong!”

Marven took a few steady breaths and continued playing along.

“Alright, exactly how do you want to do that?”

“You, of course! If an elder of our new sect was on the platinum path, people would naturally assume that the sect master must be even more powerful! This life force veil will only serve to convince people of that fact.“

Harel was hiding behind Marven and shaking in fear. She was trying to do her best to appear relaxed, but that was becoming impossible. Marven was fully convinced that this idea was horrible. However, his son was alive. And what he had gone through was entirely Marven’s fault. He decided to play along with this idea for now. If anything, it would allow him to remain close to Neave and work on helping him properly recover.

He couldn’t just abandon Brivia’s son. Not after everything that happened.

“Alright then! Let’s do it, that sounds like a plan to me!”

Harel looked at Marven with total disbelief. Did he eat some funny mushrooms or something?

Neave beamed.

“Excellent, excellent. We will make the ultimate sect! Absolutely nobody in this entire realm will be able to stand up to us!” Neave looked up to the sky, “Absolutely nobody.”

Marven ignored the ominous connotation of those words.

“Alright, but we should probably disguise ourselves in some way.”

“You are correct! Nobody will join a sect with the sect destroyer and the demon child after all, hmm, let’s see.” Neave focused for a bit and then his expression relaxed.

Marven almost jumped in surprise.

“What the hell!?”

Neave had initiated a spirit trial? Why? Marven’s heart was about to burst as he feared for his son's life. But seconds later, Neave opened his eyes again. Then he cackled.

Suddenly, Neave started morphing. His body transformed bit by bit, growing and shifting. Once the transformation stopped, both Harel and Marven took a sharp breath of air.

Standing before them was what looked like a thirteen, perhaps a fourteen-year-old boy. He had long, pink hair streaked with red locks and Neave’s face, but older-looking. He was significantly taller, however, surely far more than Neave would be once he aged a little. He opened his deep blue eyes and gazed at them with a self-satisfied smile.

“Meet the perfect young master! And as for you old man…”

Neave smiled.

“I think you should shave your head!”

***

Ilkivir had been traveling for quite a while. Currently, he was walking through a treacherous mountain path. The mountain range he was located in was nothing but barren, jagged stone. He was incredibly high up, carefully treading the path so he wouldn’t cause an avalanche of stone.

Again.

He made his way through the mountains and eventually finally walked into a small cave high up on one of the peaks. He sat down in front of what looked like a ritual circle embedded in stone. He pricked his finger with a needle and let a single drop hit the stone.

The very instant the drop touched the ritual circle, he appeared. Ilkivir didn’t flinch, externally at least, but his spirit still winced the moment this individual appeared. It was a hooded figure with a plain white mask, nothing but two, large, round openings for eyes.

And there was no light behind those openings at all.

This was nothing but an illusion, or a projection rather, of the actual individual.

The archdemon Ilkivir had sold his soul to.

“Master!”

He prostrated himself.

The hooded demon responded in a voice that sounded like an ominous whisper.

“You have brought me news.”

“Yes, milord. The news isn’t good.” Ilkivir swallowed. “The sect that the child belonged to has been destroyed.”

“Had the child perished?”

Ilkivir explained the rumors about the “demon child” from the Zearthorn sect. The archdemon listened intently. Once Ilkivir was done, it asked.

“Are you certain that the rumors about this book are as you say?”

Ilkivir nodded.

The archdemon stared at Ilkivir for a while, making every single hair on Ilkivir’s body stand on end.

Then it finally spoke.

“Fake your death, Ilkivir. You must find and kill that child at all cost.”

***

The Emperor was standing with his arms crossed, his expression hard. The worst had come to pass. He didn’t mention it to the others, but all of them stood tensely as they watched the disaster transpire.

And they all knew. Had they not been late, this could have been avoided.

Beanna was crying.

“Jeevian, we have to do something.”

“Silence. It is already too late. If we step within the range of that thing’s senses, it will engage in a battle with us. I have witnessed the destruction it is capable of firsthand. If we get involved, everyone will die. Zhaore has already warned them. They still have the time to evacuate a few of those among the younger generation. Remember this, all of you. This is the price of sloppiness when the weight of an empire lays on your shoulders.”

***

Hunter was being dragged by an elder of the Bentheta sect. He was thrown like a bag of rice onto a literal pile of disciples from the younger generation.

“For the love of all that is sacred, get that teleportation platform going!”

Faint green light enveloped the platform Hunter was laying on and he was teleported together with the other disciples.

To the capital of the Yixine empire.

***

Kaigo Bentheta was standing on top of the main building of his sect. This entire situation had only started less than two minutes ago. He looked down to the outer edges of the borders of his sect. Kaigo had heard the warning from the man in the black trench coat.

He couldn’t believe it until he saw it with his own eyes. The moment his gaze landed on the creature approaching his sect, he turned around and ran. He jumped off the building and ran like a coward as he left the rest of his sect behind to die.

***

She was getting tired of walking. She could smell the thing that lured her out to the surface.

It was close.

To a myth golem as heavy as her, walking on top of dirt was like treading through deep snow. It was annoying. The surface was barren and frustrating. But she was so close. Once she encountered the large building the wonderful smell was coming from she scoffed.

These mutant flesh golems had zero taste in architecture, seriously.

She would be doing them a favor by, let's say, forcing them to renovate a bit.

She lifted her arm high above her body and in the palm of her hand, light appeared. Golden fire concentrated into a point. It started buzzing so loudly the mere noise alone was causing the area around her to fall apart. Then it started growing. The fire washed everything around her in glaring golden light as the trees vaporized into smoke. Then the massive fireball shrank into a tiny, egg-sized ball that blazed brighter than the sun.

Then she threw the ball at the ugly building.

***

The guilt was devouring Kaigo. He felt like a worthless piece of shit for leaving everyone behind to die. He had already stepped out of the sect premises when he spotted the golden light.

Once the relief washed over him he felt even more deplorable, but there was no hope. A single glance at that thing was enough to tell him everything he needed to know.

That creature was from beyond diamond rank.

He ran through the woods, making distance from the sect premises.

And that was when the entire world turned into gold. The shockwave shattered every single bone in his body and he fell to the ground. The last thing that he saw was the entire Bentheta sect enveloped in a pillar of golden flame.

A pillar that stretched endlessly into the sky.

***

She walked over into the remains of the hideous building. Even as a sea of lava, it still looked nicer than it used to. She swam through the thick magma and made her way to the thing calling for her.

She finally had it. And it was beautiful. She swam out. Then she raised the object. It was a foldable, square-shaped piece of wonderful red material. Every single carat of precious metal in her body ached to incorporate this into her being.

ƕƔƦҿҿҿҿҿҿҿ

Something was happening. Dark tendrils sprouted from the object and latched onto her beautiful hands. She cursed and threw the object away. Was this some sort of ploy by those wretched liches? Had she been tricked? She shot out black lightning into the material and it sunk into the lava.

She was angry. She would go all the way back down and destroy all of those…

Ɣҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿҿ

The red material shot out from beneath the lava and sank into her body. She screamed. Her screams were like mountains of metal scraping against one another. The lava around her boiled and evaporated as the noise alone made even the lava heat up until it evaporated. Eventually, she stopped screaming.

ҿҿҿҿƔҾҾÞ

She turned around and started walking again.

With every footstep, she left a bloody mark deep within the soil.

***

A female figure wearing beautiful white armor flew over the ocean at immense speed. Her armor was smooth and polished, covering every single inch of her body. Her helmet was a smooth, roughly head-shaped piece of pristine white metal.

After flying over the ocean for a while, she encountered a massive wall that appeared to stretch endlessly in every direction, both to the horizon and into the sky. There was a large sea creature swinging its tentacles at the wall. It would never actually break through the Great Wall of Langen even if it smashed away for a million years.

She felt disgusted at seeing this filthy creature lay its suckers on something created by the great gods. She held her sword upright and a giant, phantasmal replica of the sword manifested out of qi above the creature. Then it sank and obliterated the disgusting creature into a billion pieces.

That was better.

She walked over to the wall and moved through it as if it wasn’t even there. Then she smiled in pride as she looked down. Almost all of the land of the Langen continent was covered in beautiful buildings of white stone. Even the weeds that grew were like rainbow gems that lined the streets.

As for the parts of land that hadn’t been built on, they were only the most pristine and perfect parts of nature. Glittering bodies of water so pure it could wash away even one’s sins. Grass and leaves of verdant green so vibrant, merely looking at them felt like one was sharing the joy of bathing in the glorious light of the mother sun. The bark of trees, ancient and wise, had every pore reciting the stories of the glory of their kingdom. White bunnies and unicorns of shimmering mane feasted on the bountiful fruits of nature.

Not all of the buildings were populated. Far from it. But the generosity of the gods was endless. It was a matter of pride to them that every one of their faithful, at least of those that were pure, was taken care of. She breathed in the fragrant air and finished her admiration. It was time to go make her report.

She flew over to a large platform. Complex runes lined the surface as she released a bit of qi to start the teleportation process. Everything around her melted in shimmering rainbow colors and seconds later she was standing in the court of the Great Queen. The large hall was lined with immaculate statues armored with only the greatest of equipment. These were true golems, not the bastardizations manifested from remnants of the blasphemous monstrosities. Rainbow colors morphed and shifted along the ceiling, as angelic doves flew, peacefully fluttering through the divine mist.

The armored woman didn’t dare take flight in the Grand Queen’s court. She walked instead. On a massive throne of platinum, on the other side of the room, sat a woman. Her skin was so clear not even the milk of a pegasus could compare in purity and beauty. Her head was adorned by a voluminous mane of golden hair. Her pupils were a golden ring surrounding a true white center.

She smiled sadly at the armored woman. As expected of the Grand Queen. She must already be aware of what she was about to hear. The prescience of someone directly suborned to the gods should never be underestimated. Regardless, the armored woman made her report.

She spoke of the current condition of the Xinkummar continent. It was a truly dire situation. The number of individuals sullying their spirit with corruption was increasing at a drastic pace. But that was a minor detail compared to the truly horrible news. A transcendent monstrosity had made its way up to the surface. And it was chasing after a devil-made artifact.

The grand queen nodded slowly with a sad look on her face.

“The gods have decided that it is time. These recent events have finally made even the almighty rulers of this realm convinced that the continent of Xinkummar has truly been lost. The last vestiges of their protection are going to be retracted.”

“Milady, what about the Bonmiele church?”

“Those that remained incorrupt have already been evacuated.”

The armored woman bowed her head.

“As expected of your eminence. That ends my report.”

The Grand Queen giggled. In a mere moment, she went from feeling like a supreme ruler to seeming more like a caring mother. The armored woman removed her helmet. Her striking silver hair flowed out of the armor like a heavenly waterfall and her cyan eyes shone like spotless gems. The Grand Queen nodded and smiled at her.

“Excellent work, Brivia.”

***

RestarҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾҾ

ƦƦƔҾҾҾÞҿҿҾ

ƦҾstar-

ƔƦÞÞÞ

ÞÞÞÞÞestarƔƔƔ

In the darkest corner of a long-forgotten underground chamber, a corpse lay rotting wrapped in dark tendrils of madness. Whispers, shrieks, and promises of oblivion hung just beyond the limen of hearing.

ҾÞҿҿҿҿ

ƔҾҾҾ…

The only entrance was a smashed part of the wall, already overgrown by jagged obsidian brush.

ҾҿҿÞ

ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞƔ

After an eternity of remaining behind, forgotten, abandoned. Shackled in the rustiest of chains.

Finally.

"Took you long enough, you little shit."

He opened his eyes.

[The Jester of apocalypse: Eternity]

[BOOK 1 END]

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A note from Robert Blaise

[UPDATE]

WOOOOO BABY. 

That's indeed what I have been waiting for, yes. That is truly what it is all about. 

Book one is done boys! 

Now, a hiatus. Not a long one, though. 

You know I've been learning about writing a lot recently. Grammar, prose, show not tell type of stuff, you know. And also rereading my book. 

Jesus Christ almighty. 

All I'm going to say is that a partial rewrite is basically unavoidable. I must have fixed as many as 2-3k mistakes so far, but they just keep multiplying or smth. If it was only grammar I could give it to someone to proofread it, but sadly there is a lot of other issues as well and I want my story to be the absolute best it can be before I continue with book two. (Don't worry, I'm not a perfectionist or anything, I'm not gonna spend a bajillion years fixing it ok?)

So first I will be polishing book one. Then I will be building backlog for book two. 

Expect an announcement within the next two weeks. I'll make a short side-story about Marven's origins as a cultivator and announce when the polished version will be put up so you can reread in you want to (don't worry, you don't have to, I'm not gonna change anything fundamental, just clean things up and make it better.)  

Also, I will probably be announcing the time frame of when book two will start releasing. 

Until then stay tuned and go read something fun! :)

/////////////////// 

[SHOUT-OUT]

Thomas Lowe was destined for a life of mediocrity as he worked a dead-end job in rural america. But fate seemed to have other plans for him. 

One card changed everything. A power beyond imagination. A prophecy that put him in the crosshairs of Ancient Clans and Noble Houses that have existed since the dawn of the first era.

The name of that card was....

[Card Name: The Fool]

[Rank: Ephemeral [Legendary Unique] 

///////////////

Go check out The Legendary Fool!


About the author

Robert Blaise

Bio: Man do I love recursion. Man do I love recursion. Man do I love recursion. Man do I love...

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