chapter 125: the setting sun

Roughly thirty years before the voice of the gods once more became active in the world, three children were walking towards a tall mountain, all alone. Each was dressed in deep red clothes, whether it was the dress of the girl, or the simple outfits of the boys. At the moment, the two boys were following behind the girl, staring ahead.

“Are you sure that it’s here, sister?” One of them asked. His features seemed slightly more refined than his ‘brother’, but the sense of power coming from him was no weaker. However, they both paled in comparison to their ‘elder sister’, the first of their kind.

“Yeah…” She said with a nod, able to feel a strange form of power calling her towards the mountain. Only recently did she begin to feel this sensation, after her power had eclipsed both of her kin. And she knew on some level what it was, a being that could be used as a host to grow another of their kind.

The three child-like beings had inherited some understanding from the being who created them, so they hadn’t sought out those powerful monks to expand their numbers. They would play with the children of the world, but they would not interfere with how it was run. And this was not simply because of some code of morals that they had learned, but something deeper.

They knew of their own mortality. If they truly did start to hunt the intelligent races whose bodies contained the ki that they needed, then they would be hunted. There were few among the races worthy of their attention, but those few would be able to fight with them to the bitter end. So they kept to their solitude, playing with the little ones and walking the land, endlessly looking for a monster born with the ki that they required.

It was not uncommon for a monster to be born with ki, quite the opposite. It was actually harder to find one that didn’t possess it. The problem was the quantity. The more powerful a monster was, the more likely that its energies would be split among different types. Because of that, the ki they had available would not be strong enough for what the children wanted.

Only allowed on

“Are the sky demons going to come for us again?” The other brother asked, causing the two to shudder. The sky demons, creatures that appeared to steal away the dead. The three of them knew why they were targeted by them, as they themselves appeared to be spirits part of the time. But they had already resisted, and fought back on multiple occasions when the sky demons tried to take them away.

“No.. this is different.” The sister said, shaking her head. “There is not enough death here for them… It’s like… the monsters here are quiet. Tame.”

As she said, this area was perhaps one of the quietest they had ever been to. Even those carnivorous monsters didn’t dare to raise a fuss and attack others, an invisible pressure restricting them to only feasting upon those that died to other causes. The three of them felt it, faintly, but the restriction was not one that would bind them. Their intelligence was too high to be influenced by their instincts like that, and furthermore they were not weaker than the being whose pressure was being emitted.

“Let’s go.” She said softly, her delicate feet pushing off the ground to send her soundlessly into the sky. Her two brothers quickly followed behind her, and red platforms briefly formed beneath their feet every time their toes pressed down in the air again, sending them further and further up.

Now, even the two brothers could tell that what they were looking for really was here. More importantly… the ki that they were feeling was powerful and unrestrained. Anyone who reached this level through training wouldn’t give that kind of feeling. This was obviously a monster, likely a mutant that had been born with overwhelming ki.

As long as it was not an intelligent creature that knew the true wonders of the energy it had been born with, it would not be a problem for the three siblings to take care of it. And sure enough, it wasn’t long before they found a large cave that had been carved out in the side of the mountain. The mouth of the cave was over a dozen meters tall, and it led into the mountain so deep that light couldn’t shine.

However, the three of them knew that this was the dwelling of the beast king which ruled the area. “Come out, then.” The sister said, putting her hands on her hips as she looked at the mouth of the cave. “I don’t know how smart you are, but I know you already sensed us approach.”

The two brothers smiled bitterly, but jumped off to the side, out of the way of the oncoming battle. They were by no means weak, but their sister was easily the strongest. More importantly, this was a special fight for them. This was their first chance to make another like themselves since they were born.

Sure enough, a deep rumbling could be heard within the cave, followed by a guttural growl. Though the being that exited walked on two legs, it was obviously not intelligent enough to speak. A brief hesitation flashed in the girl’s eyes as she saw this, but soon she shook her head. “If you were given enough time… maybe you could make your own race. I’m sorry, but we’ll have to cut off that chance here.”

If the creature truly did develop into a new species of its own, it would mean endless hosts for them to use in the future. But it would also mean destruction for the other races of the world. And more importantly, whether it would be able to even do so was a gamble that they couldn’t afford to take.

The being before her looked much like the humans that they had met and played with, though it was far, far larger. Its entire body was covered in dark golden fur, its toes elongated to nearly look like fingers. Behind it swayed a long, furred tail, and in its hand it held a long stick that seemed to be used as an improvised weapon.

She didn’t know what kind of creature this was, but she almost wanted to call it a mon’ki, as if the name came from some corner of her inherited memories. Inwardly, she marveled that her creator had even met beings like this before, but now was no time for such thoughts.

Scarlet, as she had taken to calling herself, raised one hand to provoke the mon’ki. “Come. Show me what you can do.” At the same time as she said this, her brothers dispersed into clouds of blood, which then vanished from the surroundings. Scarlet knew that they had simply chosen to take on their spirit form, in order to not obstruct their fight.

However, the mon’ki only saw it as the number of prey being reduced from three to one, and the small creature floating in the sky did not give it any sense of dread. It raised up the giant stick in its arm, which upon closer inspection was actually the entire trunk of a small tree, and swung it upwards at Scarlet. Because of its overflowing ki, the creature’s arm as well as the tree itself had been reinforced by its energy.

However, that was far from enough. Scarlet simply raised brought one foot forward, letting the tree crash into it. Her body seemed to be carried away by the weight of the swing, but in truth blood-red claws had formed along the sides of her feet, latching onto the tree.

Seeing this left the mon’ki confused, and it began wildly shaking the tree trunk in order to get the small creature off of it. Yet, Scarlett just continued to walk calmly towards him. “Shhh, it’s alright. Don’t waste too much of your energy.” She whispered softly, every step bringing her closer to it. A small smile, seemingly void of any malice, was present on her face as she looked at the mon’ki. It wasn’t the gaze of a creature looking at its prey, but rather the look of someone who was about to reunite with its family.

Still, that look sent chills throughout the mon’ki’s body. In an effort to get the small creature further away from it, it hurled the tree trunk away. But it was too little, too late. Scarlett effortless jumped off the trunk of the tree, landing in front of the mon’ki. She had to be careful not to do too much damage to its corpse, especially to the heart. Even though they had never done this before, they had watched their lesser kin doing so. A destroyed heart meant that a body was unusable, even if it was strong enough in life.

“Let’s finish this quickly.” She said, raising her head. The mon’ki pulled back one of its legs, the long toes of its feet curling up into something that looked like a fist just as she raised her delicate looking arm. Before the mon’ki could lower its head to kick her away, a bloody spear shot from her arm, stabbing it through the head. Or… to be more accurate, the spear was her arm.

The mon’ki’s body went limp, its leg crashing down before the great beast slowly descended, its body guided by the movements of Scarlet’s arm. “There, that should be just fine.” She smiled, thankful that the monster didn’t know how to use its own ki to actively reinforce itself. Had it done so, the fight would have lasted much longer, and it may have even used up too much ki to play as a host.

Then again, the mon’ki couldn’t be blamed for its ignorance. For a monster, its intelligence wasn’t necessarily low. However, it had simply never needed to know how to do that. Its sheer presence and overwhelming levels of ki had been enough to cow everything around it into submission all its life. There was no need to know how to do anything more than swing a big stick.

Scarlet’s two brothers materialized next to her in the same cloud of blood that they had left in, identical smiles on their faces. They helped her flip over the large body of the creature, after which Scarlet climbed up onto its chest. “Okay, here goes..” She muttered, closing her eyes.

“First, take control of the ki, stop it from vanishing.” She spoke, more to herself than anything, recalling the process she had seen the lesser kin taking. As she said that, she reached out and could feel the ki of the dead mon’ki slowly fading. Yet, when she pushed her hand into its chest, creating a bloody wound, she began to caress its heart gently.

As if that was some sort of cue, the ki began to flow slowly again within the mon’ki’s body, though now it was doing so under her control. “Next, merge the ki with the spirit.” Scarlet bit her lip at this stage, knowing that she had to focus. The gushing blood didn’t even register to her as her eyes turned the same red as her dress.

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Scarlet could see the spirit of the mon’ki slowly coalescing. However, the moment she caught sight of it, it was like a puppet with its strings cut. Instead of forming into the shape of its soul, it instead dropped back into the body powerlessly, where Scarlet began merging it with the ki hidden in its fresh blood.

Of course, this wasn’t the same method that the lesser kin used, but she was trying to be more careful in how she managed this. It wasn’t until the ki and spirit began to merge that a small cut appeared on the hand caressing the dead beast’s heart. Just a few drops of blood came out before she pulled her hand back and jumped from the beast.

Scarlet clenched her hands together as she looked at the beast’s body, and her two brothers silently came up to put a reassuring hand on her shoulders. As they watched, minutes turned into hours, and soon the sun was falling behind the mountain. Yet, they had not moved a single muscle the entire time. It could even be said that the dead mon’ki had moved more than them, a violent twitch running through its body now and then.

But now, all of a sudden, the creature’s body began to spasm erratically. Its large limbs flailed, its chest swelling up. Under the hopeful gazes of three creatures who could be called more monstrous than any beast, the torso of the mon’ki erupted into a spray of blood and gore, showing the three of them.

As the blood rain fell and the sun set behind the mountain, a young girl who looked almost identical to Scarlet stood within the shredded corpse of the former tyrant of the mountain. She looked at the three of her kin with empty eyes, gaining only a trace of recognition when her gaze fell upon Scarlet. “Mo…ther?” She spoke out, her voice quiet and untrained.

“That’s right.” Scarlet said, red tears falling from her eyes. “I’m your mother. And from now on… you are Set. The fourth of our kind, and the newest member of our family.”

“Fam…ily.” Set repeated the word, a small smile forming on her face as she seemed to have some idea behind its meaning. Her head bobbed up and down slightly, and a red dress appeared around her, similar to the one that Scarlet wore. To most, the scene of four children happily being showered in the blood and entrails of a giant beast might look like the stuff of nightmares. But to them… this was the realization of their greatest dreams.

“Okay, I am exerting my right to say that that is just messed up, and creepy as all hell.” I said, shivering slightly as I finished watching the scene that had been recorded atop the mountain. It had taken me nearly an hour to find the Martial Spirits, and trace their timelines back to when they had created their fourth, but it definitely left a powerful impression within me. “I really hope they don’t turn evil later…”

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