“Now, will you accept it?” → Shen
I asked plainly while feeling somewhat sleepy and wishing to start meditating. Alexander thought for a while then he started asking questions.
“Will they be able to work?” → Alexander
“Who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat. And no matter of rank or title, everyone is treated equally for now.” → Shen
“Oho? Then will they receive some kind of education?” → Alexander
“About martial arts, magic, geography, basic math, the theory of magic and so on.” → Shen
“Will they also learn how to write, read and make calculus?” → Alexander
“That’s on the first list, damn. Are you really asking me that?” → Shen
“What about a place to sleep in? And what about when someone falls sick?” → Alexander
“We have the best healers and the treatment is free. As for a place to sleep, everyone will acquire a hut, something like what you already have here to sleep in. Depending on how many they are, the house can be for 2, 3 or even 4 people.” → Shen
“How about a bath?” → Alexander
“We have a communal hot-spring, or simply use the basic spell [Cleanse] that everyone will have to learn from day one.” → Shen
“A hot spring?! Damn, that’s luxurious. Then, the last question; under what empire does it resides?” → Alexander
His last question seemed to carry some weight for some reason, but I simply grinned and said:
“None.” → Shen
“What?!” → Alexander
Again, his face froze after hearing the answer and I continued explaining.
“My place is right in the Danger Zone. A Kingdom that’s purified by its own aura which has the power to stand against any kind of demonic wave. The kingdom is named Antara and it was born not even half a year ago. Right now we’re welcoming anyone with open arms as long as they wish to abide by our rules and don’t make any troubles.” → Shen
“First of all, that sounds quite amazing. And second; no troubles? You’re asking a lot from bandits, you know?” → Alexander
“Yep. That’s why you’ll be working your ass off inside the Vestria continent while supporting the kingdom in the shadows.” → Shen
“ To be damn. You thought of it all. Just how much will I have to work?” → Alexander
“Enough to pay for everyone’s healthcare, education, homes and civilians’ rights.” → Shen
“Why do I feel like you just made this up?” → Alexander
“I needed a reason.” → Shen
“You’re a demon. You’ll keep me chained for my entire life.” → Alexander
“Chained by a village or a kingdom. It won’t be much difference so don’t worry.” → Shen
Alexander laughed at my shrewdness then with a complicated smile he scratched his neck and said:
“Oy Boss… Thanks.” → Alexander
“… Don’t think too much about it.” → Shen
“Aye.” → Alexander
We continued talking for a while then Alexander left to sleep with his adopted children, while I stood outside on a branch, keeping on staring at the moon.
Ryu. Can you talk? → Shen
I then contacted Ryu, thinking that it would be a good idea to report what happened just now.
…Eh? A-ah… Shen? → Ryu
Who else? Why do you sound so surprised? → Shen
His surprise somehow confused me, but it didn’t seem that he was surprised by me, but rather by what was happening at the moment on his side.
Has something happened that I’m not aware of? → Shen
U-uhm, kind of? Well, what I can say for sure is that… Your wife is amazing, man. → Ryu
What? → Shen
For some reasons, the way he said it irritated me quite a bit, making for my power to rise again while for my aura to emanate on the outside.
W-wait a moment! I didn’t mean it that way! → Shen
Ryu hurriedly tried to correct himself, being aware of how weird he sounded just now.
What I mean is, she can do a lot of amazing things! → Ryu
What the f*** are you talking about, man? → Shen
I only felt my irritation soar even more by how bad his choice of words was. Even though I had nothing to do with Sylvia, for some reasons, this still annoyed me quite a bit.
Don’t forget that you have Bonny as well, you damn player. → Shen
And I said hold on a second! God damn it, why is it so hard to explain this? → Ryu
Just tell me what happened. → Shen
I, uhm… I can’t really talk about it. → Ryu
And why is that? → Shen
Sylvia said not to tell you. → Ryu
BYE. → Shen
Wait! Okay, I’m sorry- → Ryu
Already quite annoyed I interrupted the conversation, only so Ryu won’t hear me while I was cursing him in my mind.
Still irritated at Ryu, I thought it would be a better idea to report all that happened with the bandits to Bonny and inform her about the future newcomers. After talking and telling her everything that happened, she agreed with my judgment and continued in high spirit.
So the master still has his kindness! I’m happy that you’re not just indifferent about all and everything after being touched by the devil. Everyone was worried about you after we heard the explanation from Ryu, but it seems we worried for nothing. → Bonny
Wait, huh? → Shen
At first dumbfounded, I then tried to explain myself back.
Wait. Kindness? I’m just keeping my words, you know? What kindness? → Shen
Yes, yes~. Then please continue to keep your promises from now on as well, Master Shen~. → Bonny
Uhuh… → Shen
Her sweet voice resounded in my head as I started to feel somewhat troubled by her misunderstanding. But I didn’t try to explain myself as I got serious and right before closing the connection, I informed her.
Also, try to keep an eye on that Ryu. → Shen
Eh? What do you mean? → Bonny
Ask him. He might know better. → Shen
After talking such with Bonny, I closed the connection and entered in meditation. I activated all my mental, spiritual and even physical barriers and started to slip into my own soul. I focused more and more and in the end, I entered into a deep trance.
While in a trance, nobody, not even the one who’s meditating, will be able to control what they’ll experience, everything is shown to them being only different pieces of information from either the subconscious or from different high spirits wishing to help or, why not? Control you or take away your sanity. Meditation has its own uses and, depending on the state of mind, they can show more conditions such as:
- It can help the cultivator to recover strength or even strengthen the mind, soul or body.
- It can help the cultivator to find answers for difficult questions.
- It can help the cultivator to connect with the Superior Spirit or any other kind of spirit the user wishes to connect with.
- It can send messages from the subconscious or from higher spirits which show the cultivator different objectives they have to complete so they could resolve problems or grow in spiritual power.
- As a message from the same sources as above, It can show to the cultivator the state of spirit, mind, and body, through symbolic forms. Like how I showed to Haidao his own reflection through my eyes; a reflection of a sinful soul that has been shown in the form of a putrid and decomposing corpse.
And so on and so forth other such things meditation can offer to a cultivator. And at this moment, I already got rid of the tiredness by focusing the Prana to my muscles and brain and revitalized them. All that’s left would be for me to feed on my curiosity and let my subconscious show me something I might have overlooked.
With my eyes completely shut, I silenced my mind, my feelings, and senses, and then focused completely on the darkness in my mind. My senses got completely sealed then weird geometrical forms of different colors flew through the darkness in my mind but I simply ignored them and continued focusing. Seconds, minutes, hours, I wasn’t aware of how much time passed any longer as I saw myself in front of a cell with black iron bars. It was literally just a shut box with three walls of concrete and one of the iron bars. Everywhere was only darkness while from inside the cell a golden-green light shone through the bars. I got closer and observed a silhouette of a young boy, crouching in a corner while sobbing in hushing hiccups. To my surprise, he wasn’t alone but another two silhouettes kneeled down beside him, both white and one of them patted his head while the other one held his hand tightly. I was able to recognize one of the silhouettes as being that of Sylvia’s, but the other one was completely unknown to me, being able to tell that it was also a woman, but nothing else.
I got closer and right before I could touch the bars, another feminine silhouette appeared, this time outside the cell, staring at me and observing my every move. I glanced at her for a moment then touched the bars and a buzzing sound resounded through the cell. The one golden and two white glowing spirits jolted and turned my way. Even so, other than looking my way with curiosity, they did nothing else. The young boy then stopped from sobbing and turned around, his eyes filled with shock and surprise. He got up and rushed toward the cell’s bars and tried to hug me through the bars, somewhat even desperately. I stared somewhat surprised, then I made a step forward to be in his arm-reach and the first thing he did was to grab onto my shirt desperately.
Right after he touched me, sudden waves of foreign fluffy and funny feelings invaded my chest as my heart started to pound so hard, it almost disturbed me enough to wake up from the trance. In a hurry, I retreated and tried to calm my heart down as the former feeling of fulfillment and sufficiency slowly dissipating from his chest.
[N-no! Please! Come back!]
In the boy’s green eyes I was able to read only despair and suffering, simply after taking a step backward. I was confused as for why he was so desperate about me, and also why I felt such a familiar feeling about him now that he touched me.
Do I know you? Why are you so desperately trying to reach me? → Shen
I asked somewhat confused while also feeling troubled by his pitiful appearance. With teary eyes and through sobs he told me such:
[I-I’m you! –sob- I’m you! The one that feels! Please! -sob- let me go! Please stop locking me like this!]
His pleas made me stare at him completely dumbfounded.
Me? You’re me? And What do you mean “stop locking you up”? When have I ever locked down a spirit? And you said you’re “me”? Which part? What spirit of mine? → Shen
[I –sob- I don’t know! I just want to get out and continue on helping you like before! –sob- you always took my words into consideration. Why are you like this so suddenly?!]
W-wait. I’m not sure I can understand what you’re meaning by that. I can’t even remember what spirit of mine you are. → Shen
[My pictures of the others, my videos with all those beautiful people I collected since the moment I appeared! –sob- Everything got burnt! I-I have –sob- I have nothing anymore…]
I was confused and shaken by his words as I made another step back, unable to understand what was happening.
As I was trying to understand what he just told me, a loud and demonic scream of a bat-like creature resounded from the distance and shot out right toward us with incredible speed.
A spiritual demon? It must’ve got past my barrier. With how weakened it is, it shouldn’t be able to do any kind of damage to my soul. → Shen
I looked at it indifferently but to my surprise, it flew past me, right toward the cell in front of me.
[Wait! Don’t come here!]
The boy shouted toward the demon desperately but the demon only felt more amused after seeing the boy’s troubled expression. Before he could reach the cell and enter through the bars, the golden spirit appeared in front of it and with a palm, she shattered half of the demon’s spiritual body. The other half flew through the bars and was instantly pulverized by a white fire from the unknown white spirit.
[Ah… I told you not to come…]
With a sad expression, the boy stared at the remaining dust which slowly dissipated from the bat’s spiritual remains. The white spirit which resembled Sylvia then hugged the boy from behind and shone her white light over him, making him relax and let go of the sadness. I looked surprised at the spirits that each had their own roles. And only after seeing them doing what they did, I then remembered what Ignatius told me, about my heart being guarded by three forms of protection.
My heart, my heart… my… heart…? → Shen
With shocked eyes, I stared at the young boy who still pleaded for me to get closer. With a trembling hand, I reached out toward him. The moment we touched, a current circulated through my entire being as the feeling of familiarity enveloped my entire being and made my eyes watery.
You’re… my heart? → Shen
I instinctively asked out, still unsure about anything else.
[No, b-but I’m a part of it! You might be able to remember the moment you free me from this cell!]
With hope written all over his face, the child jumped up and down while thinking that he might finally be able to get out of the cell.
Take you out? How? → Shen
[I… I don’t know…]
From being all elated and in high spirit, he suddenly fell down and almost depressed. The white spirit then shone her light on him, wishing to brighten his mood.
Seeing how he didn’t know either, I simply did what anyone would do on their first try: To break the bars. I grabbed a hold on the bars as I tried to break them and the buzzing sound resounded once again. The entire cell vibrated as I used more and more force on my arms to bend the bars and take the child outside of it.
The cell was already quacking from the vibrations but the bars were unmoving. More and more power was used but nothing changed, excepting the continuous vibrations which made even me feel dizzy and sick. I distanced myself from the bars then asked the kid.
Why don’t you make your guardians take you out? They seem quite darn powerful. → Shen
[They can’t… This cell was made by you and only you can break it… But I don’t understand why you did this! Why… Why would you wish to seal me down? Is it because my decisions made you forget? If so then I’m sorry! I beg for your forgiveness! But please, just don’t seal me away from you! I don’t want to be forgotten by you! Uuuh~…]
The child then fell down on his knees and started crying again in heart-shattering sobs. I looked at him helplessly while I felt frustrated for my own incapability to destroy something that apparently I created in my own soul. I tried many other forms by forming a huge hammer to break the walls, a sharp sword to cut the bars or even great spells like [Super Nova] or [Ira Daemon: Asmodeum Brachium], but nothing seemed to work on the walls or bars, making for my every attempt to fail miserably. After everything has failed, I breathed out heavily then turned around with a heavy look, a light whisper escaping my lips:
I’m sorry… I’m useless now… → Shen
With a heavy heart, I glanced once again at the young boy which made me have a feeling of familiarity then turned away from him and continued my travels forward, knowing that I was unable to do anything for him.
After another few moments which I was unable to tell if they were seconds, minutes or hours, a precipice opened up in front of me as a young man with a purple full metallic armor on him, stood tall right at the edge of it, looking downward with cold and merciless eyes. At his back a long and golden halberd, while at his belt a dark sword with a golden hilt. His arms crossed to his chest while his posture was tall and domineering. From inside the precipice, golden tongues of flames escaped upwards while their shine made the darkness around to retreat and distance itself, letting place for a golden shine which covered a few dozen meters everywhere around.
A demonic and broken-like voice echoed from inside the precipice, shaking the entire space and making the flames to whirl even stronger.
How is it? → Shen
I asked coldly while stepping right beside the young man in purple armor. He glanced at me then glared back down with the same imposing and domineering aura.
[He’s being cooked quite nicely. Too bad that he won’t die only from this.]
I looked downwards and saw that right in the middle of all the flames, atop a burning red-hot stone, the devil was chained down to his knees as the tongues of golden flames licked off his dark aura while his blood was evaporating. Even though his body showed almost no signs of being damaged, however, the pain he was suffering was still on par of being completely burned in and out over and over again without stopping. The devil heard our conversation and with blood-red eyes he glared upwards, his aura shooting out only to be engulfed by the flames once again. However, his loud and shrieking broken voice still resounded like that of an old wraith, thundering throughout the dark space around.
[OMISUS! You demon! After all the sufferings I had to endure because of you, now you’re torturing me with borrowed flames! You’re nothing but a coward who’s hiding behind borrowed power! You alone are NOTHING!]
I glared downwards and answered him back with a mocking smile on.
I just wished to break this bond we have together. I wanted to simply let you go and be done with it all. But you persisted on making my life a nightmare. If not for the three spells that protect my heart, I could have said that you succeeded. But too bad, things didn’t go your way. → Shen
[What a golden soul you are!]
The devil rebuked me with a sarcastic remark but I continued unperturbed, my eyes only turning sharper and merciless.
As for my powers, don’t worry. I detest what I got from you, but I will use this power in a way you were never able to do: making all to benefit. Also, I will return them soon enough the moment I find a way to get rid of you. As for these flames, I heard they’re from the Ninth Heaven? We, the All-Father’s children, have the right to borrow whatever is in His garden, so why would I be a coward if I’m using my Father’s creations? Are you simply trying on striking at my pride? Try as much as you want. Taunt me, curse at me. All your tries on angering me will only show just how desperate you are for my attention, pitiful creature. The longer I live, the better I understand that pride, just like any other emotion or feeling, is just another tool that lets me go past the struggles of life, using them to master myself and even control the others. A tool will not control me, not like how you let it happen to yourself, Rosabhi. → Shen
I then turned around and walked away, not before giving the last command to my Second Will:
Don’t lower the flames. But if you can, make them stronger. Let him think thoroughly of what he did, so next time he won’t open his mouth before giving it a first though. → Shen
Then the flames raised in intensity as the shrieks of pain coming from Rosabhi resounded even louder.
Just as before, unknown for how long I’ve been continuing stepping forward, I flew past colorful spirits left and right that seemed to be parts of my feelings or accumulated talents from past-lives, seeing how some were locked in cells while others were free on roaming around in the darkness. Some sat down and meditated, while others trained in different styles, be them martial arts, magic, while some even did something like crafting, alchemy, writing, dancing, painting, studying stars or geometry, sculpting, and so on and so forth of other forms of art or theory, be them mental or physical. I continued forward, until I reached a white spirit with a golden armor on, staring right at me with neutral eyes. Even though his face was expressionless, I felt some kind of disappointment redirected my way from him.
You must be… Superior Spirit, right? → Shen
[Indeed I am. Now please answer yourself. Why did you lock down your most dear feelings for? By feeling pain above the standards, you won’t grow any stronger, but only risk to fall under corruption.]
Wait. Are you talking about that brat? I don’t even know who he is. Let alone the reason why he’s sealed. Besides, I can’t even take him out of that cell. → Shen
[He is your Child-self. The spirit of childhood. The purest form of the soul, even purer than angels. And do you want to know why you sealed him? I can tell you why.]
His expression darkened as he glared at me in contempt. Somewhat hesitantly, I nodded my head and asked for an answer. With a sharp glare, he explained as if reproaching me.
[You shoved the one who also carries your innocence inside a cell, thinking that you will be able to protect him from the external pains, not thinking that, like this, you also damned your heart from feeling any kind of happiness, let alone understand them. Your foolishness self-succumbed to the fear of feeling pain and such you decided to seal your most important part of your heart; the Child-spirit, your purity, your innocence.]
W-wait a moment! I don’t even remember doing such a thing! → Shen
I was already annoyed at how he started scolding me out of nowhere when I had no such memories. But the spirit continued, disregarding my feelings, actually being even harsher.
[Of course, such actions you have made unconsciously, right after Rosabhi has burned your memories.]
T-then why are you so mad at me? → Shen
I asked somewhat confused while seeing his sharp glare on me. He then answered coldly, as if answering to the dumbest question ever.
[For you are slowly eaten by fear and not even aware of it. How can a Golden Soul let a tool called “emotions” eat at his heart? How can a great spirit like yourself be swallowed by our common enemy, Darkness? How could someone who amassed so much wisdom all these lives, let himself be overwhelmed by exhaustion and have his own barrier pierced by the likes of demons and devils?! Since forever you wished for power and wisdom, but you never thought of the price to pay. You must also accept the responsibility that comes together with it! By accepting one and ignoring the other, you only damned everyone around you! Can’t you behave by the great age you amassed for once!? You long since passed the age of a Young God, Omisus!]
His rage soared sky-high as the entire space shook and flames shot out from his mouth out of fury. I was completely baffled by his explosive fury, but I still asked back, just as irritated for getting no explanation on my actions that I supposedly did..
But what have I done for you to be so mad?! → Shen
[You almost fell into chaos by letting a small devil like Rosabhi to invade your soul. Let alone failing the test, but if someone who amassed so much wisdom, so much knowledge and so many talents from so many past-lives were to focus his entire being for evil and satisfying his own desires, the entire Sario would be sent into damnation together with its spirits, no matter the rank! Red, blue, white, golden, low, medium, high and even the godly ones! Every single one of them would’ve felt the echoes of a corrupted soul which passed through the Age of Gods and still accepts to reincarnate in flesh. And you, sealing your heart like this… you’re only giving chances for such a future to come into being the moment you’ll lose yourself a second time.]
B-but I’m not even a God yet…? Why would I be able to do so much? → Shen
[You’re still a human, coming from the main world created by the All-Father. You, having the blessing of the All-Father, you are untouched by the Laws of the Universe until you’ll return as a spirit. The living can be forgiven the moment they ask for it, but the spirits will always have to pay for their mistakes. You have freeway while as a human. But once you’ll return as a spirit, Tartarus will be the only end awaiting.]