“Can I come with?” I asked curiously. “Want to see how you manage things around here. I mean, it’s got to be a lot of work to do on your own.”
Irena’s footsteps paused after I asked that, and she seemed to be struggling to decide. After a moment, however, she nodded her head slightly. Following that, the two of us proceeded to move out of the bedroom and into a long hall, at the end of which was a single door. The hall had a simple wooden floor with white painted walls and ceiling, so there was not exactly a lot to look at.
However, when we made it to the next room, I saw a throne in the center of a large room. The throne was seated atop a raised pillar, which Irena flew up to. Since I was here to simply observe, I didn’t go up there to join her. I would likely only be getting in the way if I did so.
“You may enter.” A cold voice rang out beyond the door to the palace of the Goddess of the Underworld. This caused the figure standing there to shake uncontrollably. It was not that she normally had a caring personality, but the Goddess seemed worse than usual right now.
“Y-yes.” He said, hurriedly opening the doors and stepping through. As usual, he found the Goddess upon her throne, but this time there was something different. At the back of the room, next to a door that nobody ever uses, was a daeva that the man had never seen before. He just stood there calmly, looking between Irena and the man, as if watching a performance.
“You have something to report?” Before the human spirit could think about this new character for too long, the Goddess’s cold voice snapped his attention back to her. He could see barely restrained fury within her eyes, and knew that delaying would be… unhealthy.
“Y-yes. This one has been tasked with providing a report to your majesty.” The spirit bowed down low, as if breaking eye contact would direct the fury he had seen to go elsewhere.
“Get on with it, then.”
“Of course.” Even with his body being already dead, he could feel a cold sweat gathering. “Today, a large number of an unidentified race has appeared at the borders of the city, and we felt that this matter should be brought to your attention.”
“I am aware of the matter already.” She spoke briefly. “Is there anything else.”
“A-ah. Yes… this..” The man tried to figure out how to ask what he needed to ask, the second reason he had been elected to talk to the Goddess. As a member of the governing council, he had the chance to converse with the Goddess, and the obligation to do so in emergencies. “This voice that everyone is hearing-”
He did not even finish his words when a heavy pressure forced him to his knees. Looking up, he knew it was from her. “You do not need to know of these things.” He could feel the venom in her voice, and knew that if he tried to press the subject, he might not live to regret it.
“U-understood, Goddess.” His entire body shook, trying to force himself to his feet, but simply being unable to.
“Is there anything else?” He barely managed to lift his head to look at her, seeing that her patience had almost reached its limit. There had been other matters he had been sent here to discuss, but he knew that he had no chance of going over them at this time.
“N-no. That is all.” As soon as the words left his lips, the pressure on him changed. From pushing him to the floor, it wrapped around him and flung him out the door before he could even make a sound. By the time he noticed he had even moved, he was slamming against a wall over a hundred meters away from the palace.
After he recovered, he couldn’t help but think about the figure that had calmly stood at the side, in a place none had dared to stand before. How that figure had simply watched Irena, as if measuring her. He felt an all new series of chills running down his spine at that.
“That seemed a bit extreme.” I spoke after the elf spirit had been abruptly tossed from the room. It was obvious that he was afraid of Irena, and that she seemed a bit upset. Most likely, she hadn’t planned on anyone interrupting us.
“Sorry.” She said, turning her head away. Though, her voice had lost its coldness, becoming a bit more gentle. “Really, though, you do seem to enjoy making things difficult.” She uttered that last bit with a sigh, just barely loud enough for me to hear.
“Huh? Did something bad happen?” I was confused by that statement, not knowing what she meant.
“Those announcements, of course. Though, I guess you probably didn’t have another way to do it easily, did you?” Ahh… well, I could have had the pantheon pass down the information, but this seemed more efficient? “Wait, you did?” She saw the guilty look on my face, and performed the underworld’s first facepalm.
“Uhm… maybe? But it was either that, or repeat it to every god and goddess, and have them do it. Seemed like a better idea to just do it myself.”
Irena let out another sigh. “Well, looks like you’re stuck doing that now. Two announcements like that in a single generation, the image has already been set.”
Oh… “Didn’t really think that far ahead… Any other crucial mistakes I should be aware of?”
Irena seemed to think about it far longer than I was comfortable with. “Not that I can think of right now.” She shook her head and stood from the throne. “Now, where were we?”
“You were just about to explain how the Reaper class powers worked.”
Smiling, Irena nodded her head once. “Aha, that’s right. Well… actually, the Reaper class is pretty complicated. For a soul spell to trigger, you don’t simply need an image of the spell. You need a complex image, and you need to pour your will into that image. From what I’ve seen, there are some ways to identify patterns between the images, but I have only managed to take it so far.”
“Would you mind giving me a demonstration?”
She nodded her head again, flying down to land in front of me. “Alright. Let’s start with a simple one, a spell I made myself after analyzing what other Reapers were able to produce. This is the image needed for that spell.” Irena held one hand out, and above it was a floating golden wheel with six spokes.
“And the spell it produces… Don’t worry, this doesn’t hurt.” Uh oh, I didn’t really like the sound of that. As the image above her hand faded away, six golden rods of light slammed into me from all sides, pinning my body in place. Surprisingly, they held no physical presence, but simply having them in contact with my body seemed to paralyze me, even the parts that were not touching them.
I had to wait for her to cancel the spell before I was even able to talk. “W-what was that?”
“I call it the Binding Wheel. You can already guess what it does, so I won’t bother with that explanation. Essentially, the image you produce in your mind will have an impact on the spell. I picture a wheel with six rods, and six rods hold you in place.”
“Oh… I see.” This is not how I expected the Reaper magic to work. I thought that it might use spell diagrams like the living magic, or work purely based on imagination, but not… whatever this was. “I think it might be better to stick with the Spirit Hunter class…” At least that one I was able to use whether I was in the afterlife or the living world, and it seemed considerably easier to manage.
Irena nodded her head softly. “That’s understandable. Is there anything else you want to do while you are here?” Her voice seemed to hold some hope, as if she wasn’t ready for me to leave just yet. It’s understandable, really. I mean, when making her personality I made it so that she loved me, and this was the first time we had ever spent an extended period together. I’d be surprised if she was ready for it to end so quickly.
However, a thought did occur to me. “Well… there is one thing I want to do, but I need to get an answer from you, first.”
“Of course, anything you need.” She seemed happy that I was not leaving yet, but I doubt she would do anything more than secretly pout if I had.
“When a Spirit Hunter makes an item, is there any way to recover the Spirit Energy they use in it, aside from absorbing the item back into themselves?”
Irena thought about that for a short moment, but then nodded her head. “Yes, as long as you are within the underworld, your Spirit Energy will recover at a natural rate. If you are in the mortal world, you would have to acquire the energy from other sources.”
I nodded my head slightly, and then considered the total SE I had at my disposal. “Alright, then I’d like to make something. Think of it as a decoration for your house.” Irena’s smile brightened when she heard that, but her jaw dropped when she saw me moving to the door.
“Y-you mean outside?” She asked, her voice seeming to indicate she was practically panicking.
“Yeah, is that a problem?” I asked curiously.
“No…” She said after a long moment. “But, we should take steps to make sure that you aren’t seen. Or, do you want your reputation to climb even higher?”
I… hadn’t thought about that. “Okay… do what you have to do.” I gave her my approval as I began walking to the door again. I had barely taken a step outside when a large black wall rose up around the courtyard, completely sealing off the palace. Sheesh… a little overboard?
A strange sight occurred that day in the underworld, in the vicinity of the Goddess’s Palace. First, one of the leading members of the council had been forcibly thrown out. Then, not ten minutes later, a man had emerged from the palace, one nobody had ever seen before. As soon as he emerged, as if to hide his identity a massive wall was raised around him. None could see through the wall to know what was going on, and they could not tell whether it was the man himself who created the wall, or their Goddess.
All they knew was that a wall had been formed as soon as anyone could see his face, and that when the wall was gone, a work of art appeared in front of the palace that astounded everyone. A large, stone pillar over five meters wide and ten tall stood at the center, with ten figures surrounding it. The pillar itself was unimportant, but the figures left everyone speechless.
Standing facing away from the palace was the Goddess Irena, whom everyone recognized. Among the other nine, many people were able to place names to them, despite having never seen them before. They were all the gods and goddesses, who were known to each of their races the moment they were born. Each one facing away from the pillar, as if protecting it.
What, then, did the pillar signify? Was it the world, with the gods and goddesses protecting it from harm? Some thought that might be the case, but many had a different opinion. Many believed that the pillar was someone whom even the gods must obey. They stood, not to protect the pillar, but to simply stand with it. People began imagining that an eleventh figure stood atop the pillar, standing above the gods themselves. However, no such figure had been created with this work of art, leaving them confused for its true purpose.