Twelve years after the attempt to reach the Altar of Seraphina
Amidst the silence of Themistokera, Mallan sat atop a throne without an audience. Research, including aid from Mel Ficarum and Suntaria, concluded with little results; the aeter continued to hover above the floating kingdom, without aim or purpose. With a tilt, Mallan gazed at what once made his empire stand on equal terms with both the Noxun and the Godvildian people – the High Humans, or at least what remained of their existence.
It was a relentless effort, the High Human King’s years past the failure at Sol Sanctum. He felt the toll, enough to desire seclusion towards the end of everything. But the wheels of change did turn, in time, and without warning. It began with a stir that led to the low descent of Themistokera; the aeter had begun to turn.
Having acquired the knowledge of the world through the paths that often helped the soul-fires to Aeterna, the energy above the High Human kingdom sought refinement. It condensed into something small and spherical, pure in its composition. Mallan noticed an amalgamation of thoughts echo through the heavens – the voice of his people, screaming as it merged into uniformity.
In time, the skies darkened to a drizzle, thundering into a downpour right after. From the rain, the people of Themistokera withered, turning to dust and without hope for return. Mallan observed the event with indifference, having come to terms with the end of his race. His eyes focused on the aeter as it shrunk to a more compact form, curiously, eager to understand the result.
“You’ve broken us, Mioverold,” whispered Mallan, under his breath. “Now show me; what is it that you desire?”
Unstable still, the sphere struggled to maintain form. Its shape crumbled and then spread across the clouds, causing the lightning to become more lifelike. The nimbus now struck with precision, wrathful in its offense towards Mioverold. When the aeter turned its attention to the one person alive on Themistokera, it attacked with enough force to destroy the floating kingdom.
Mallan Argonaut raised an arm in response, distorting the space in front of him. He opened into a vault, with nothing but the abyss on the other end. It welcomed the lightning that threatened his home, and then devoured it just the same. But before any form of celebration, the High Human noticed Themistokera shake, violently.
The once powerful kingdom had now returned to Mioverold, stripped of its ability to stay afloat. Mallan frowned at the thought, and slowly refocused his attention to the aeter-manipulated clouds above him. In that moment, it appeared to calm. After a brief wait, the High Human King relaxed his shoulders, watching the nimbus disperse to clear skies.
“I will reach the Altar of Seraphina,” promised Mallan, bowing as he did. His forehead touched the soil of Themistokera in an embrace – a pledge to his fallen people. It dried his tears. “All of you, I will bring all of you back when I rewrite the laws of this world.”
The aeter slowly collected once more, settling into a state of tranquillity after having gained significant distance from the threat of Mallan Argonaut. It condensed into a sphere as it travelled, puzzled and under stress. For a significant stretch, the collective souls of Themistokera sought to understand their purpose – the simple meaning behind their deaths and their dissolution as individual identities. It urged a change, a transformation into something more human-like, but only vaguely intact.
Driven by little more than negative emotion, the souls of Themistokera now reached into the depths of their knowledge – knowledge acquired through the paths of Aeterna. But as they waded through the heavens, each of the millions from Themistokera resonated with a strong, unique aeter presence from a location beneath them. They hovered, momentarily, and then descended, entering the Kingdom of Suntaria.
At a distance, they noticed a man of immeasurable strength – of a godly constitution. From the shadows, they neared the Godvildian Lord, puzzled still. In Zane, they found a part of the answer – an insatiable desire towards consumption; the collective entity sought to add onto its strength with the Godvildian essence as well.
For the sake of experimentation, the souls attempted contact, only to find a portion of their existence burn into nothingness. They retreated, realizing their incapacity to breach the Godvildian Lord’s defence. Without further thought, the souls fled from the Kingdom of Suntaria, but with renewed purpose. They travelled through the heavens once more, and reached Mel Ficarum, seeping through the cracks to enter Caradus Castle; it benefitted them, to have remained without physical form.
On instinct, the souls navigated through several long corridors and flights of stairs to reach the Noxun King. Ceraunus Antiochus remained just as unbreachable in his defence, but allowed opportunity for conversation. The collective souls of Themistokera merged into the aeter around his body, finding comfort and compatibility in their approach.
In the moments that followed, Ceraunus felt a sort of pain invasively course through much of his mind and body. His vision blackened, forcing him out of reality and into a plane held delicately by the fabric of his imagination. He attempted to break free, but eased in his efforts at the sight of something familiar – at least in presence.
“Are…you…king of world?” asked the souls of Themistokera, in one voice, struggling to put words to sentence. “Complete…it must…future…for…we…”
“We were late then,” whispered Ceraunus, with a grim expression on his face. He held his tears and turned to address the souls that had invaded his body, “I am sorry. If you are here to deliver punishment, there is little I could do or say to avoid it. Actions lead to consequences, and I fear that mine stands before me now.”
“Death…” said the souls of Themistokera, with a weak voice. “Wait…Gods…”
“Is it my death that you desire?” asked Ceraunus. “I, I am fine with it. But I do have a request; there is something I must do for the people of this world. I would like for all of you to delay my punishment until then, at least.”
“No…I…else…seek,” continued the souls, mildly frustrated at their inability towards communication.
Ceraunus paused to consider his next response; he noticed intelligence in the collective group, mired in a sense of helplessness – a weakness. After some thought, he tightened the grip around his halberd and sliced through the ethereal plane, ripping a gate into existence. As the souls of Themistokera stirred with unease, Ceraunus gestured for them to pass through the dimensional tear.
“I realize my mistake now,” said Ceraunus, apologetically. “You are all at the cusp of an evolution, but I’m afraid that I’ll only misunderstand if we try to communicate prior that achievement. Let me help you reach that pinnacle, a little faster.”
“What…” managed the voice from the souls, in unison.
“This is a gateway into all the knowledge there is in this world,” explained Ceraunus. “In showing this to you, I atone for the sins that I have committed; or rather, I expect for you to at least understand my plight. Your hostility, your anger, it’s understandable. But I insist that you see Mioverold for what it is, with its flaws, and through it – perhaps emerge an ally.”
Encouraged by the Noxun King’s reassurance, the collective souls of Themistokera entered to experience the space of Seraphina, and the knowledge within it. In the process, they broke away – returning to individuality, only to merge once more. But in their second attempt, the souls gathered with strong purpose. Guided by the hand of Seraphina, they combined to take shape – human-like and with the aeter presence of a worldly inheritor.
Outside, Ceraunus waited with patience. He sat at the sound of a roar; it concluded the end of a journey, unlike any other. From the edges, the gate ripped further to allow for access to something monstrous. And upon re-entry to the ethereal plane, it had managed to cast a shadow over the Noxun King even. Ceraunus stayed his blade, despite instinct towards what he identified as evil, obligated to the fate of his crimes.
“This is simply spectacular,” said the being, with a laugh. “I thank you, Noxun King.”
“You speak with clarity now,” remarked Ceraunus, gulping as he did. “It makes sense for us to resume conversation then.”
“Do not worry, King Antiochus,” said the being. “I have seen the fate of Mioverold; what I seek is to help you achieve what you desire.”
“But I fear that I may have made a mistake with your evolution,” said Ceraunus. “Your aura, it reeks of nefarious intent.”
“I am but the emotions that inspired my change,” revealed the being. “But I am also what you were once looking for, twelve years ago – a worldly inheritor, albeit a fake.”
“And you wish to complete the Mimicry of Gods, Fake One?” asked Ceraunus, curiously.
“Yes, it is necessary for us to save Mioverold,” nodded the being, in agreement. “But it is just as necessary for you to atone for your crimes, my existence. And for that, I have a proposition.”
“I will allow for you to absorb me and my aeter as a worldly inheritor,” said the being. “There is a condition to it, however. On absorption, you will allow me a chance to extinguish your soul and take control of your body. You may resist, and I may lose – a trial to understand if you are worthy enough to lead the new world.”
“Regardless of the outcome, you will see to it that Mioverold is saved?” asked Ceraunus.
“I promise it!”
The Noxun King frowned, noticing a tremor in one of his hands. He released his halberd and watched it fade within the ethereal world. It made him wonder about the consequences of an agreement with what he considered an embodiment of corruption, of the gamble. With a sigh, he straightened his posture and gazed at the being in front of him.
“I agree to the terms,” said Ceraunus, slowly. “It’s our, my best option given present conditions. Do tell me one thing, though; your name, for me to remember past mistakes, should I emerge victorious in this little game of yours.”
“I never once thought about a name,” said the being, tilting its head through the revelation. “Niall, perhaps?”
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