Ryone, what can you tell me after seeing that? Given that this was a momentous occasion in magical history, there was absolutely no chance that Ryone wouldn’t have been watching. I was sure that she was paying close attention to every little facet of the human mage’s body, studying everything that she could.
I… I don’t know! Ryone called back, but sounded rather happy. I love not knowing! I mean, this goes against the normal flow for elementalists entirely! From what I can sense, her mana is no longer being leaked from her body. Instead, it is being gathered at the imprint on her left hand even now, when she’s unconscious.
It can be assumed that the magic is either steadily growing in strength, or building a charge. If you gave me a year to study this, I can probably give you more information. But with this… It’ll open up a new path for mages! Previously, they were forced to take a great number of levels as a martial artist in order to withstand the enhanced gravity of upper floors. But, advanced classes boost all attributes. They won’t fall behind martial fighters anymore in power because of a lack of levels!
I gave a small nod as I listened to her excited explanation. I was sure that once information got around about the advanced class, things would change drastically on Fyor. There were probably already those who specifically trained in Earth’s version of an elementalist in order to make up the stat deficiency, but doing so required them to study an entirely new and more complicated system of magic.
Since she said that she needed a year, I gave her that. Warning her to prepare herself, I sped the world along by one year. As I did so, I turned my eyes towards Earth, curious to what changes had taken place there over the last two hundred plus years.
Scarlet sat with a smile on her face, perched on the balcony of a large stone tower. She was no longer simply ‘mother’ to the kin. Now, she was Empress. Her palace, albeit not as fantastic as some other kings and queens, overlooked the large city in which her kin took residence.
After she learned the method of spiritual travel, the population of her people had boomed. It took barely a year for her to meet her goal of a thousand greater kin. And once that goal was reached, she called them to the island that had been chosen. She taught the method of travel to the greater kin she had created, and had them bring those scattered lesser kin from the various lands.
Although the lowest of them refused to journey with them, there were many who accepted. Enough to form the Bloodhaven Empire. They could place no wards around their walls, no spells to defend them from monsters. But to them, such things weren’t needed. Only the most daring of monsters would ever approach their cities, most scared away by the thick aura of death.
It had taken time to build their cities, as the lesser kin were not great craftsmen and there were simply too few of the greater kin. But, now that the empire had been built and her rule recognized by her people, she was ready for the next stage of her plan.
Her eyes closed as she recalled the words written within the books of the Sky Citadel. Spiritual energy surged within her, taking the shape she desired. A method of communication, the same one that she had used to rally her people. Only this time, it was being focused on a different individual, one that she was able to sense from the lands of the half beasts.
“I am Scarlet, the Empress of Bloodhaven.” She began, not knowing what rank the person that she spoke to possessed. “This is neither a hallucination, nor is it a joke. You possess the strongest ki within your land, so I speak with you now.” At least, she was able to differentiate between the spirits of monsters and people, once she properly connected with them.
“Pass a message to the king or queen of your realm. I would seek an audience with the Voices of the people. In seven days, I shall be at the Keeper’s Palace in the sky. I hope to meet with everyone at that time.”
After she finished sending that message, she sent out another, this time to the humans. And then, the elves, the dwarves, the centaurs… She sent them to every race she knew of before finally contacting Tsubaki directly, asking her to pass along her message to the other worlds.
Finally, when seven days had passed, she prayed again to be transported to the Sky Citadel. When she arrived, she could feel more presences than during her last stay, which brought a small smile to her face.
Tsubaki was still kneeling in the throne room when she arrived, though stood up to turn and face Scarlet. “May I ask why you have gathered everyone, and announced it so publicly?” Tsubaki wondered, since Scarlet had not only contacted Tsubaki directly, but also the beastkin.
“Don’t worry.” Scarlet spoke politely, offering Tsubaki a light bow. “I mean no offense towards anyone with this gathering. I know that is not what Dale would wish for, and if I should try, you would cut me down without hesitation, no?”
Tsubaki actually smiled slightly at that. Although Scarlet was blunt, and often bloody with her speech, she was still kind. The two had managed to get along during her previous stay. “As you say.” With that, she summoned the other representatives through her avatars, and had them gather in the throne room.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone attended. There was no sign of the demon representative, nor that of the new world, Fyor. No matter… Scarlet thought to herself. In time, perhaps they will regret not being here.
“Everyone, I would like to thank you all for coming.” She addressed them politely, bowing her head to them. “Most of you do not know who I am, so first I would like to introduce myself.”
“I am Scarlet, the Empress of Blood and ruler of the Bloodhaven Empire. I control those martial spirits who have lived in your lands for so many years.”
At her introduction, there was a murmur from the crowd, until a single figure trotted forward. A centaur with a black pelt, covered by various purple markings. The voice of the centaurs, Alme Dien, and one of the few first generation representatives that still survived. “You mean… the blood creatures, which have often terrorized smaller settlements?” She asked, a slight tremor in her voice.
However, Scarlet shook her head. “No, I have no power over those. The lowest of my kin are the beasts of which you speak. I refer to the people who have remained hidden, rarely journeying beyond their own secluded villages.”
“Aye.” A female dwarf spoke up. “I know who ye’r on about. Found em a few centuries back, my people did. Had a… small disagreement with em. Each kept our own since, but also kept an eye on em. Guess ye’r the reason why they all up and vanished few years back?”
Scarlet gave a small nod towards the dwarven representative. “That’s right. Ever since our creation, I have been attempting to build the population of the greater kin such as myself. But, as many of you have seen from the lowest of kin, we breed within bodies rich with ki. The greater the kin, the higher the requirement. Finding suitable hosts for those like myself has been… difficult.”
Several people grew uncomfortable at this revelation, before Scarlet continued. “I have always forbidden those under my control from using a member of any of your races as a breeding host. Doing so would have gone against the wishes of the Keeper.”
“You… know the keeper?” Soreya, the elven representative, asked in surprise. Age was starting to take its toll on her face, though she still seemed as inquisitive as she had been the day she first appeared in the Citadel.
The newly crowned empress smiled slightly at that. “I do. He created me, so many years ago, from his own blood. That is why I possess a part of his heart, and do not wish to see the deaths of those he has raised.”
“My point for calling you all here is two-fold. First, I wished to introduce myself and my people to those who were not familiar. I have now done that. The second goal is for my nation to be recognized by all others. I wish to establish trade between my people and those of your races.”
Again, it was Soreya who spoke immediately. “Trade? Your nation has just been founded, by your own words. What trade could you offer, or is your land built on a rare mineral vein?” Despite her words, her tone was not derogatory, but genuinely curious. As one who followed the goddess of wealth and merchants, she was innately sensitive towards business opportunities.
“We have a very special resource to offer.” Scarlet nodded with a mysterious smile. “We have ourselves. Many of you should be aware of what a martial spirit can do for a monk, and I sense several monks among your number.”
Soreya’s eyes widened as she realized the meaning of her words. “You mean… you would offer your own people as trade?” The thought of this unsettled not only her, but many of the representatives.
“You misunderstand my words, dear elf. I am not trading them into servitude. This is an equal partnership where both parties prosper. My proposition is to allow monks of your races to visit the empire, and form a pact with one of my kin. Whether it is a greater or lesser kin depends on their talent and attitude.”
Hearing Scarlet’s explanation, Soreya was just about to speak when a kitsune in a green dress spoke up, the representative of Deckan. “What do you get out of this deal? You are simply reducing your population through this trade, and so far haven’t asked for anything in return.”
Scarlet gave a nod of acknowledgement to the kitsune’s words. “There are some resources among your races that would be precious to us, yes. However, the greatest benefit to us is what we receive from the pact. Although we become bound to our partner until their death, their death allows us to propagate within them.”
“I shall make no attempts to hide the facts. In exchange for the power our people can offer, the monk who chooses this will become a future breeding host upon their eventual death. And, although unfortunate, our breeding consumes the spirit of the host. In exchange for power in this life, they will be unable to pass on to the next. I would ask all of you to make this information known to any who would wish for this pact.”
“So we’re selling our souls to you.” The kitsune continued. “Selling our souls for a greater strength in this life? Are there really many who would accept such a deal?”
“Yes, yes, I think there are.” The answer did not come from Scarlet, but rather Soreya. She sent a look towards the human representative, and gave a small nod. “I believe he is considering the deal, are you not good sir?”
The human male, a man wearing a black and white robe, laughed lightly. “You have learned to see through people quite well, miss.” He said, not denying her guess. “Many people face hardships in this world that they lack the power to overcome. The help of a martial spirit to them may be worth forsaking their own souls. Many still seek only to obtain the greatest power that they can, and leave their mark on history.”
“And which are you?” Soreya asked with a knowing smile.
“I wish to leave my mark.” He answered honestly. “I wish to be as well known as the first of the Choir. Tell me, empress…” He turned to address Scarlet directly. “If one accepts the power you offer, is it purely destructive? Or can this gift be used to help others?”
Scarlet gave a warm smile as she heard the question. “We are of the blood. While our powers are great and terrifying, they can also be gentle. This aspect is rarely seen in the lowest of kin, and has no doubt stained our image. If you were to join with one of my kin, you would learn new healing arts, defensive shields, as well as the power to destroy foes.”
The man nodded with an understanding expression. “Then, after I pass along word to my people, I would request to be the first to partake in this deal. Would that be acceptable, empress?”
Scarlet gave a happy nod, glad that there were people willing to accept this deal. She knew that one of the first representatives had housed one of her lowest kin, but that person likely didn’t know the details of the pact before she entered into it. In some ways, it was harder to make the decision after having been informed.