“….Wait, what?” → Ryu
Here Ryu’s brain shortcut again, feeling as if he heard something ridiculous for the God-knows how many times by now.[Sigh~ I keep on forgetting that you’re just a young dragon of not even 100 years. How much would you have this year? 21?]
“…22.” → Ryu[Ah, at an age where they still miss their mother. Well, for a mortal I suppose the speed of maturity is more accelerated than for us dragons… Maybe… or maybe with not that much.]
“Master… please continue.” → Ryu
Trying not to cry after feeling his pride being stabbed, again and again, Ryu begged Ignatius to continue with his explanation. Ignatius then continued, but with just a few words:[Little Dragon. Just think of it this way: This world does not exist, but there are still three categories that are still present everywhere in this universe: The primordial that existed even before anything was born, the divine that created this world, this illusion. And then there are us. Now the next question would be: just what are we? The ones who are living this illusion?]
“W-what we are?” → Ryu[Yes. Ryu, what are you?]
For the first time, Ignatius actually pronounced his name, but his question made Ryu freeze in place. Unable to come with an answer, Ignatius walked past him, going toward Melinda and Theo, not before telling him:[Sit down and meditate at my words, Ryu. Don’t forget the examples I showed you. Think about all we talked until now and find your own answer while evading the Chaos. Do not let the ABYSS engulf your judgment as you meditate.]
“…Yes, master…” → Ryu
With unfocused eyes, Ryu stood down and started thinking while remembering everything he heard and saw from Ignatius. His senses closed while darkness engulfed him. He found himself sitting inside his own mind, inside a dark space as he continued to think and search for an answer:
What am I… if all I’m living now is just an illusion… an illusion… like a game… wait. A game?! → Ryu
Ryu then remembered about the system which tells them about their status, together with their spatial inventory. He also remembered about how he felt the first time he started playing games, being so engulfed in them that he forgot to eat, sleep or go to school.
Being engulfed into the game means forgetting about yourself… this illusion is like a game… and if I’m too engulfed into it then I’ll need to pay… money means emotions, then I’m wasting myself for someone else’s sake… who are they? The game is created by an organization… we’re wasting our money, which is energy, for the sake of some organizations… and in this case, the organizations are the devils… which means, this world was created by- → Ryu
“…What…?” → Ryu
Ryu opened his eyes wide and shock covered his face. A dark aura then started to engulf him as worry and fear slowly engulfed him.
S-so does that mean this world was created by devils…? B-but the creator is the All-Father. T-then he is… A Devil? → Ryu
His aura exploded as mana-deviation started to take place inside Ryu. One of his arms started to transform and grow into one of a dragon, but it was bending in an unnatural way while bones were growing through the skin and scales. Half his face became scaled with sharp teeth and with a ferocious eye. A spiked tail grew from behind him as it struck the ground continuously while pieces of bones flew around, making the entire mountain to shake. One grotesque wing with the position of the bones deformed grew ridiculously large and stabbed the trees around with its stuck out bones.
I-if the God-father is in truth a devil… and we are… his sons, his creations… then are we… De- → Ryu[Ryu.]
Just as his mana-deviation closed to the point of no return, turning Ryu into a Demonic Dragon under the state of Berserk, Ignatius under the form of a Dragon appeared before him, anger and indignation flashing through his eyes.
“…Mast-…er…?” → Ryu[I told you to control your emotions, Little Dragon. You didn’t listen.]
Ryu’s demonic form stared at Ignatius and just as he wanted to ask some more, Ignatius’ tail slammed on him once with such brutal force, enough to crack the entire mountain into two parts. He then engulfed a deep mouth of air, then exhaled a burning golden breath of purifying flames, molding the entire mountain, especially in the place where Ryu was buried in boulders and dust. After feeling like the entire chaotic and dark aura has been purified by his breath, Ignatius slammed his claw and roughly plucked a normal Ryu from through the molted boulders, naked and passed out but with no injuries. The entire tip of the mountain was burning-red while any tree that even surrounded the mountain was now nothing but ashes.
Ignatius looked at Ryu with a deep frown on his face, seeing dark cracks on half his face, on his left arm, and down his spine.[Touched by Chaos to such an extent… Just what were you about to believe in?]
Ignatius then touched his forehead with one of his claws and closed his eyes, trying to read his thoughts of before being slammed by him.
After reading everything, Ignatius opened his eyes wide and a pained grin covered his face.[What a belief you almost reached… Just like Thanatos, you almost turned into a Dragon ruled by Darkness…]
To become a deity, one has to learn and understand fundamental truths. But such knowledge is like a two-edged sword with incredibly sharp edges. Once misunderstood or known halfway, the truth will accelerate your consciousness and change the entire point of view upon the world itself, driving some into insanity, or toward a path which would make them demonize and darken their hearts completely. Such truths cannot be learned by someone who doesn’t have a specific level of understanding upon the spiritual, risking of finding partial forms of truths which could bring anyone on the path of Chaos and Darkness.
As Ignatius thought of what he should do now, a sudden string of dark energy creeped out from Ryu’s cracked left arm toward his chest, making Ignatius wake up from his thoughts.
He then transformed back into a dragoon like Ryu, took off his coat and covered Ryu with it, then made his body levitate while he engulfed it inside a fiery golden spherical aura. The dark energy that seeped out from Ryu was instantly purified, but the dark cracks continued to exist on his body.
I must enter in his mind. → Ignatius
Ignatius then took a position of meditation right beside Ryu’s levitating body and sent his consciousness inside Ryu’s forehead while sitting still like a statue, his breathing almost non-existent.
Nothingness surrounded them as shadows jumped and dashed through the darkness around, looking as if the monsters of the Abyss were curiously staring in the middle of the space, where Ignatius was sitting down together with a normal Ryu and a rather demonic one from which a thick and dark aura emanated everywhere around him. All three of them sat down at a table while drinking tea, or rather, only Ignatius was drinking tea. Ryu being too nervous to do so, while the demonic one just stared intently at Ignatius.
“Who are you?” → Demonic Ryu
In the end, the demonic Ryu asked quite annoyed as he continued to observe Ignatius sip his tea in the middle of a dark and chaotic space. Even Ryu showed some confusion as for why his Master was here, but he felt too pressured to even talk at the moment.
Hearing his question, Ignatius opened his eyes and placed the cup of tea down.[I am his master, little devil. Dragon of Balance and Order, Ignatius. Who might you be?]
With a mocking smile, the demonic Ryu asked amused.
“Balance and Order? In a world ruled by a DEVIL? There shall not exist such things. You are nothing more than an enemy.” → Demonic Ryu
With a confident smile, demonic Ryu took the cup of tea and sipped for himself, a relaxed sigh escaping his mouth.
“I should thank you for telling me the TRUTH. Now I understand that I need nothing, and such, I have no obligations over no one.” → Demonic Ryu[Oh, but you’re so mistaken.]
“What?” → Demonic Ryu
Ignatius calmly said and demonic Ryu asked confused while even Ryu looked the same way. Ignatius then turned to Ryu and asked with a frown.[Young dragon, I told you to remember all I said and did: put aside your emotions and meditate over it to find your own answer. But what is this? Why are your feelings of fear and frustration taking over your judgment to such an extent that your circulation deviated?]
Hearing his question, Ryu hastily said with some panic in his eyes.
“M-master! How can I stay calm when the world itself is rotten?! How can I stay calm when devils are using us as batteries for themselves!? As food!” → Ryu[Ryu.]
Ignatius shook his head and said once again.[When you heard that the world is an illusion. Why did you first feel fear?]
“W-why? Because… w-well, isn’t it weird to not know what true reality is then?!” → Ryu[So you were afraid of the unknown. Then, why did you stop here? Why did you finish your research over truth as it being in the favor of a devil? Why didn’t you search further for reality?]
“Continue forward…? What?” → Ryu[Listen here, young dragon. No matter of the truth you find, small or large. You shall never take for granted once you heard a part of it. Continue onwards and search through all the questions that appear in your head: Is this world truly created by a devil? Then how come there exists beauty as well? Are we truly devils? If so, then why are we being used by our own kin? Why do we also feel compassion and positive feelings? Can devils even feel the love in the first place? Once you fell into confusion, just continue asking yourself questions. Through questions, you might find an answer, Ryu.]
“Through questions… so I should not stop asking…” → Ryu
Ryu then thought to himself and continued to meditate, his mind racing continuously.
Reality is an illusion… so what is death…? A form to escape this illusion… not the end… Then why are we living this illusion…? Ignatius told me is so the souls can learn how to live… So is the illusion beneficial for me…? If I can evolve through it, then it is. Are devils making beneficial things for other spirits? I don’t think so… So this illusion, this world was created by God? Most certainly… at least by someone who doesn’t simply turn us into food or batteries… But how are devils taking advantage of us…? … How…? → Ryu
Ryu then opened his eyes and stared at his demonic form, thinking how his dark thoughts suddenly let loose uncontrollable feelings of fear. He looked more intently and the demonic form made a wide and sinister smile while turning at him.
“I… invited you here. Didn’t I?” → Ryu
“Yes.” → Demonic Ryu
“Why…?” → Ryu
“Confusion engulfed you, then you asked for answers. Such, I gave you an answer.” → Demonic Ryu
“You offered me your answer. Not the right one.” → Ryu
“What would I win if I gave you a good answer?” → Demonic Ryu
“So you tricked me.” → Ryu
“You tricked yourself.” → Demonic Ryu
“Indeed.” → Ryu
By letting our dark thoughts engulf our minds, the devils will take advantage and give answers to our questions… Answers that only fuel even more the dark thoughts, and giving even more power to the devils around… I just fooled myself by letting my fears to answer for myself. → Ryu
Ryu then calmly turned around toward Ignatius and bowed his head lightly.
“I thank the master for enlightening me.” → Ryu[I just reminded you of yourself. The answer was always within you.]
Ignatius smiled calmly, proud that his disciple finally understood and found his own answer. However, demonic Ryu now stopped smiling and looked at Ryu with contempt and frustration.
“Time… I lacked time…” → Demonic Ryu
Ryu then sipped from the cup, his face calm and composed.
“Indeed. Perhaps one more hour and my soul would’ve been now under the torrents of Chaos.” → Ryu
As Ryu drank his tea, his mind continued asking and answering, as if he continued to be in a trance.
They take advantage by answering our questions first. They want to perturb us, thus making us fall even more under the torrent of emotions. What my job is as a living soul? Is to not fall and to not deviate by the path in front of me. By the path, I made and choose. Good or bad, I shall walk it with all my heart, making this illusionary world turn into the reality I want. “Reality is malleable.” If Ignatius’ words are true, then not just my body and surroundings can be changed as I wish to, but even my own destiny. Shen said it himself: “Nobody can foretell my destiny but myself”, and I shall do the same! → Ryu
Suddenly the darkness around started to swirl into one great tornado that cleared every shadow of doubt and fear, having as the tornado’s eye, Ryu and Ignatius, the Demonic Ryu being also one of the shadows which were sent flying by the storm. As the wind continued to swirl and turn, Ignatius and Ryu who sat calmly in the middle of it all while drinking tea had not even one hair move from the violent wind.[I see you’re controlling the wind pretty well.]
“I simply don’t wish for it to disturb us.” → Ryu[I can’t even hear it.]
“Because I don’t wish for it to be heard. This silence is calming for me.” → Ryu
Ignatius nodded approvingly while Ryu smiled calmly, answering with a firm yet tranquil tone.[By the looks of it, you must’ve have found your answer by now.]
“Yes. If reality is truly a fake, or just an illusion made by the soul to advance as a spirit, then it must at least go the way I want. If I’m also nothing but another soul trapped into an illusion, then I shall remain true to myself and do as I see fit. Walk with no regrets, live with no remorse.” → Ryu[Do you think you yourself are real?]
Ryu smiled at Ignatius then said:
“You said it yourself: the only real ones are the primordial, the divine, and this illusion. And then here we are us. And your words are now bringing forth other questions: Putting aside the primordial, I already understood what the illusion is… but then here remains us and the divine? Then what are we to be different from this divine? Are we of a more inferior essence? Or are we equals?” → Ryu[I see. So what is your answer to all those questions?]
“If is true that the real ones are just us and the divine, then the difference between us is that: we are living, while they are in their immortal spirit form. Just like the soul is after death.” → Ryu[Very well.]
“Now if we take this difference away, then that means after death, we are just like any other God. Some with more knowledge while some with fewer, but we all are made of the same divine essence.” → Ryu[How did you come to such a conclusion?]
“Simple. The fact that we can control this Illusion which was built by the All-Father means that we have the same rights as him. What differentiates us is that he has the manual about how this world works, while we have to discover how to control it by ourselves. We have to find all of the truths on our own. But the power to control it and the access to do as we wish still remains true and within us.” → Ryu[Well done, Young Dragon. Now maybe for the next many other truths, you’ll learn in the future, you might be able to keep the emotions in check, yes?]
“Y-yes master…” → Ryu
Smiling awkwardly Ryu bowed his head once again. The two of them then woke up, Ryu completely baffled by the fact that he woke up naked once again. He hastily searched for some clothes from inside his inventory and quickly changed in them. As he observed Ignatius staring calmly at the green mountains in the distance, Ryu suddenly asked somewhat curious.
“Master, just how did you think of this truth? Just how did you think of the fact that reality is but another illusion, while we all are incarnated gods?” → Ryu
Ignatius then turned around and with a plain expression he said such:[How? Simple. The existence of dreams made me aware of this.]
“D-dreams…?” → Ryu
Ryu thought for a moment then a sudden idea struck him, making him feel quite ridiculous as for why he didn’t think of this before as well.[Yes, dreams. They are but a work of our minds, combining memories and ideas from inside or outside our subconscious. I became more curious about this weird personal world, and such I tried to stay awake inside the dream. To remain conscious and do things my own way. After more tries with numerous fails, I was able to stay conscious inside the dream, and immediately I found out that whatever I wanted, instantly happened inside the dream just as I imagined. The world was mine as I was the creator of everything inside. Well, after reaching such a conclusion, I suddenly thought: What if reality is but a dream as well? What if reality is not true, but just another dream? Our own, or another greater being’s? Why am I not able to do the same as in the dream? And then an answer struck me for this one question as well.]
“Answer? What answer?” → Ryu
Ryu asked confused, unable to understand why one could do as wished inside a dream, while inside this illusion things were so hard to control. However, Ignatius’ answer still left Ryu dumbfounded.[It was because I didn’t believe that reality is just another dream.]
“…What?” → Ryu[Yes. I, myself limited my abilities and powers, thinking that this world is one, while my dreams are another, but I was unable to see at that time that maybe both are but one of the same world, and is just me who negates this fact. I then tried to believe. To believe that reality is just another dream that goes the way I want. Just another illusion created by my own subconscious for me. Or rather, by a greater creator that gave me access to build and live inside his own dream.]
Ryu stared completely surprised by his explanation. Giving such an easy-to-understand one, and such a straightforward one, with no need to doubt, with no need to think about, just to accept and see what happens.
I might… Have a long way to go… → Ryu
Thinking on his own, Ignatius then asked Ryu with a wide grin.[So? Can you transform into a dragon now?]
“Eh?” → Ryu
Frozen in place, Ryu asked somewhat dumbfounded.[What’s with that face? Now that you know a fundamental truth, you should be able to change the reality of your body into one of a dragon. Having the essence already integrated inside you, there should be no problem in transforming into a fully-fledged black dragon.]
“W-wait… I’m still not even sure what’s the difference now that I understood this truth.” → Ryu[Oh really? Then does this surprise you now?]
Ignatius then waved his hand and a wooden chair appeared, together with a wooden table on which a warm cup of tea with steam slowly raising in the air. Ryu looked with some interest then commented in a rather calm mode.
“So you materialized a chair and table, together with the cup, then simply thought of the composition of the tea you wished to brew, right? I can tell there is no true composition inside that wood, being a rather frail and weak one. I think that just by sitting on it, it will break instantly.” → Ryu[OH, well done.]
Ignatius nodded his head then sat on the chair calmly, drinking the tea while crossing his legs with a calm posture.
“…Did you just infuse more composition inside the wood?” → Ryu[So you did see that. Very well. Now, are you telling me that such an understanding is not something you missed before?]
“…Alright, I understand now.” → Ryu
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Ryu smiled calmly then entered into a deep trance, trying this time to change his very structure into one of a true mighty dragon.
And while at it, let’s try become a Royal one. Why not? This is my body, this is my life, so I can become whatever I wish. → Ryu
Ryu’s aura then intensified and boiled even outside his body, but unlike before, there was no destruction happening to the surroundings, no pressure felt from his aura, and no discomfort felt by him either, just a feeling as if his entire body was buzzing, perceiving his command and trying to obey the wishes of their commander, the one at control.
While Ryu was closing up to his goal inside the Separate Space, a few days have passed and I was already inside William’s turf, reaching his home as decided.
“I-I’m sick…” → William
“Seriously now. Just a bit of flying and you’re already like this.” → Shen
I said with a meek voice to William who was now shaking on his legs, his face changing colors from green to purple.
We both landed in front of a rather rundown villa made of stone and wood, with an old medieval design but one that had windows made of glass. The courtyard was quite spacious while inside it, a well taken care-of flower garden, with just a little stone fence that separated the villa and garden from the outside territory. The villa was positioned atop a hill with a direct view at the little village downwards, at a forest right beside it, and at a little river. All in all, it seemed to be a modest place but with a beautiful sight.
“Your place is not bad at all.” → Shen
“T-thank you-Mmpf~!” → William
“Please don’t puke in front of me…” → Shen
“Y-yes… This way please…” → William
William covered his mouth and swallowed whatever came back to him, then walked me toward the front of the gates. He easily pushed the little stone gate and continued forward, walking through the garden. He inhaled the beautiful smell of flowers and his eyes opened wide in surprise.
“Is there something wrong?” → Shen
“No, it’s just… I never had such a lively garden before and at such a time no less. For it to grow so much in just a few days… Just what happened?” → William
“Is it that big of a deal?” → Shen
Not being a specialist, I wasn’t able to tell why it meant so much for William that the flowers bloomed, then another idea struck me.
H-hold on… It’s not spring yet, is it? → Shen
Then William also said.
“But sir? It’s not spring for them to bloom even if I had men to wetter them, you know?” → William
“… I got a hunch…” → Shen
We then walked forward and the wooden door at the entrance opened wide, letting a woman with brown hair and green eyes in modest attire welcome us. A worried expression was etched all over her face as she jumped into William’s arms the next second.
“William! Dear! Are you alright?! My William, I was so worried!”
Tears fell down her face as she tightly held him in her arms. At first surprised, William then smiled warmly and embraced her back, a calm smile on his face.