Nikki - The Prince of Asphodel
The dust settled down. But my temper didn’t. I didn’t even know how to start expressing everything that was pent-up within. As the young prince caught up to me, he gently placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. For the first time, there was an unsure expression on his face.
“It wasn’t supposed to end this way.” I murmured.
“I know. Believe me, I know.” Prince Zion replied gravely. It made my stomach turn whenever I’d get a glimpse of the dust by my feet. “Samael is still a threat. Teios Kyr is still out there. And we don’t know where to start next.”
“No, you don’t. You’re a spoiled prince. You know nothing.” I shot back. My voice was raised slightly. From the corner of my sight, Sir Raea almost stirred uncomfortably. But her poker face didn’t betray her if she was upset at my words to her master. “My friend is gone. And I wouldn’t be able to avenge him. I am now starting to doubt if I can take my mother back. You have no idea what that is like.”
“Yes, I do know. Did you really think that I would not know of your background, Nikki? I make it my business that I know a lot about the people I collaborate with.” Prince Zion insisted coldly. “You still have a chance to save your mother. I never had that opportunity. That’s why I’ve decided to help you.”
I was taken back by that and fell silent.
“I’m sorry. That was something I shouldn’t have said.” I stated in a low voice, but the young prince’s eyes were reassuring. He looked genuinely concerned, but I couldn’t bring myself to trust him. Prince Zion had that aura of always having an ulterior motive despite the youthful look. “I’m just…angry.”
“It’s okay.” Prince Zion assured. Then he nodded at Sir Raea, who simply left us. It was weird, especially that the young prince was in no condition to fight. I kind of hoped that I wouldn’t need to be the prince’s protector at that moment. “But we wouldn’t be making any progress if we would just be angry. We need to take action. And we will follow through.”
“I will search for the others. Please protect the prince this time.” The female knight announced as she walked away from us. Bitterness was evident in her voice. I knew what it was for. “I will not be gone for long.”
“Do we have a plan?” I asked Prince Zion.
“We need to first regroup with High Magus Shiraea and Praetor Cerva on the other side. There are a lot of things to assess, particularly now that we learned Samael is simply hiding in the background.” Prince Zion explained. What he said all made sense, so I made no interjections. “Plus, we also need to assess the damages in Gyroseus. Before we went here in Asphodel, a huge creature was seen rising from the eastern sea.”
“I almost forgot about that! That kid with Magitech ability had to fight alone in the air. Unless they have mages, who are capable of flying, too.” I exclaimed. The small kid was deeply unlikable. But I also couldn’t help but worry. It was one versus an army, after all. And the massive beasts were no joke. “Should we go now?”
“No. We need to wait for the others. We could not afford to be careless right now. The only reason we beat that Samael clone was because he got too careless in the end.” Prince Zion objected quickly. Then he groaned in pain. The bleeding on his leg already slowed down but still looked gruesome. “Plus I couldn’t fight with this.”
“Let me see that.” I suggested. Then I knelt by his leg and used a ritual so I could sense what was going inside his thighs. “This might take a while.”
“Is it bad?” Prince Zion asked. I was expecting that he would look worried. It was then I remembered that he was not exactly a little kid. The young prince knew what was at stake, and he was proud to be in battle. “I’ve never faced an opponent like that before. I should be more careful next time.”
The markings on my arms extended to his leg and into the wound. Since it was purely made of avroi, it would slither into the opening of the flesh painlessly. The markings would be a form of sensors. During my time of study under the Professor, I learned that Life and Necromancy Magic often involved inscriptions for their rituals to take effect. And thanks to my aptitude to learn fast, it wasn’t a problem.
“It slightly nicked your femoral artery. No other damages so far. A millimeter more, and it would have been fatal.” I explained to him. But he seemed uncaring about it. I would’ve panicked if it were me, though. “You almost bled to death.”
“Something worse almost happened before. This was still pretty small, but hey, I have a new scar to show my twin brother. One more thing that is different between him and me.” He chuckled lightly. His high-pitched laugh was slightly disconcerting for someone who almost died. “If you want to ask about the other one, I almost lost my left arm. If Sir Coren wasn’t there, then I would have a harder time battling against opponents.”
“I’m more worried that you didn’t feel anxious at all. Fear is a built-in emotion to further our survival.” I pointed out as I focused on my task. With my other hand, I started to draw the ritual circle for a higher level of healing magic. “Then, I remember that you’re an ordinary kid.”
“Trust me. I was quite scared, Nikki.” The young prince grinned. He seemed genuine about it, but I was a skeptic. I wanted to object but chose to start casting my healing ritual instead. “There’s just no point in being anxious about it now. But if you want an honest reply, I’m more concerned with you.”
“Me?” I exclaimed. The inscription started to glow blue and a tint of silver. I commanded it to insert into the wound and speed up the process. Since it was a more potentially lethal wound, I used the Time-Heal Ritual. It was designed to speed up time in a particular area, so cuts will heal up faster. Slowly, the injury started to close as I poured more avroi into it. Since it was a small wound, I had to be very precise, or else it might damage the other veins. “Why me?”
“When my leg was impaled, and Samael was pinned down, you were forced to make a choice.” Prince Zion pointed out. My heart skipped a beat as I recalled that very moment of a split-second decision. I almost clenched my hand into a fist from what he said. “And you chose to attack the enemy instead of protecting me.”
“Yeah. So?” I objected adamantly. But the young prince was not bothered by my defiant answer. Then I focused on the insertion of the ritual into his body. He winced slightly as I accidentally touched a nerve. “I was clear that my goal was to kill Samael. Not babysit you.”
“I know, I know.” Prince Zion raised both his hands. His eyes were sincere, and the spinning colors of his iris brought out a sage-like atmosphere. He always showed wisdom beyond his age. But I didn’t want to patronize him. “But that’s not really the point.”
“Explain.” I asserted.
“It was fortunate that Sir Raea was there. She’s a very devoted Kingsblade, indeed. But I was ready to die anytime. I’m a warrior. Dying in battle is a great honor for one. Besides, my little twin brother is still there to lead the Kingdom of Sevel someday.” The young prince explained. To make it worse, he looked absolutely convinced with his answer. It was irritating. “But remember, Nikki, not everyone is ready to die anytime.”
“What’s your point?” I inquired coldly.
“Don’t ever be consumed by revenge. Don’t ever forget your humanity.” He spoke strongly. It caught me slightly off guard. My focus dwindled for a split-second, and the flow of avroi paused momentarily inside his thighs. “Important people may die because you had other priorities. I would have no problem if I died today. But spare the people who hope to live another day.”
I didn’t reply to that. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction.
It took a few more minutes of silence before the healing sped up faster, and I successfully closed the cut in his femoral artery. He still lost a fair amount of blood, which caused a mess in his royal garments.
“Prince Zion!” A voice called out from behind us. It was Sir Ysverin who came and rushed to his master’s side. Sir Raea followed closely from behind.” What happened, Your Highness?”
“I got careless.” The young prince snickered half-heartedly. But he was slightly pale than before. He was still mortal, after all. A young one at that. “Nikki pulled off a pretty smart move, though. He ticked Samael and killed him.”
“Samael is dead? The sucker didn’t even wait for me.” Another voice boomed from the other side. It was from Sir Coren. Beside him was SIr Sylva, who had a slash right underneath his right eye. It could have blinded him if he didn’t manage to evade that one. “That’s a load of koprsh!”
“What an un-knight-ly thing to say, Sir Coren.” Sir Sylva commented with a calm voice. Then his eyes slowly gaze over to what I was doing at the prince’s wounded leg. For some reason, I could sense that Sir Sylva was very sensitive to the flow of avroi in the atmosphere. “You’re speaking to His Highness. Please do not forget his manners.”
“Whatever.” Sir Coren grumbled. That when I saw a few wounds on his arms as if someone took a bite on it. Then I almost froze when I noticed the missing chunk of muscle torn off from his calf. Yet he walked as if it was nothing. “The young master knows me well. No need for formality.”
“That’s not an excuse!” Sir Raea admonished with a stern voice.
“Calm down, my subjects. There is no need to fuss over honorifics.” Prince Zion interjected. There was shame all over the faces of the three Kingsblades at that very moment. “I have insisted multiple times that you are part of my family. There is no need to address me so formally when there are no other people.”
Then Sir Sylva glared at me. I didn’t see it, but I definitely felt his gaze from behind me. It almost tore through my skull.
“I would not consider Nikki as an outsider, Sir Sylva.” Prince Zion pointed out with sincerity. I was already closing up the rip in the muscle fibers at that moment, and the artery looked adequately reconstructed. “No need for unnecessary tension here. He’s already healing my wounds as we speak. Show him some respect.”
No one spoke after that.
The young prince winced as I finally closed the wound. There was no trace of it at all. And it was the first time I actually used a complicated healing ritual on a person. Thankfully, it was pretty basic. There were other operations I’ve seen in the books that are far more sophisticated. Sir Ysverin was beside us. He looked quite contented as he watched the remaining process unfold.
“If I may ask something, Your Highness.” Sir Sylva broke the ice. Even the way he inquired was full of poise and elegance. “Now that Samael is dead, how do we plan on dismantling Teios Kyr for good?”
Prince Zion, Sir Raea, and I quickly looked at each other eye to eye.
“That’s pretty much a concern right now.” Prince Zion muttered. He looked firm and brave despite the awful news. And his confidence always triggered my anger for some reason. It was begging to be smashed. “Samael isn’t dead. It was an impostor. Some sort of clone.”
“I have never encountered anything like that.” I disclosed softly. It was a genuine thought. I walked back to the pile of dust and ripped the lower leggings of my pants. I gathered a handful of the dust and wrapped it with the torn piece before putting it inside my pocket. “With everything that is going on, I don’t think it’s magic from Altimeraea. Worse, it might be from Tartaros. I think it would be best to study this for later.”
“No offense, young man. But you haven’t a mage for that long. It won’t be surprising if you have never encountered such things.” Sir Sylva pointed out. He was right, though. I thought Prince Zion would defend me, but he didn’t. “Altimeraea is not a stranger to otherworldly elements. But isn’t Tartaros an exaggeration?”
“We have underestimated Teios Kyr too much. It has proven to be fatal. At this point, we need to consider the strangest ideas.” Prince Zion retorted. It made sense since it was a reasonable contemplation. Underestimating the enemy could be dangerous for us. “Nikki, are you able to check the other side?”
“Yeah.” I croaked. My voice almost didn’t come out.
I felt my fatigue at that moment. And it bulldozed me with abruptness. High Magus Shiraea warned me about this. Mages can still experience tremendous physical tiredness even if there are mass amounts of avroi sources. And it could be dangerous if not appropriately discerned. I sense the horrid sensation that some of my muscles don’t feel responsive. They just froze for a few seconds and spasmed lightly. I heard the young prince objected further to what Sir Sylva said, but it was already an indistinguishable mumble in my ears.
Instead, I closed my eyes and summoned an undead eagle. Then I pushed it to the other realm with my hand. Within my mind’s eye, I started to see sharply what my summon could see. Thanks to the eagle’s eye, everything was in greater detail.
“The fighting had stopped. And I don’t see any enemies within the walls of the city.” I said to my companions. Thankfully, they stopped their bantering and listened with no objections. “The army is tending to the wounded, and some are doing a bit of excavation on some of the crushed buildings. It seems clear. Should we go?”
I just nodded at them. One by one, they gathered towards me and put a hand on my shoulder. I summoned a bit more of my strength and slid back into Altimeraea with my allies. My knees buckled, and I almost fell forward. Prince Zion tried to stop me from falling, but my hand reflexively swatted his hand.
“I don’t need your pity.” I grumbled. The young prince did not make any violent response, though. His Kingsblades were probably more offended by what I did. “We need to look for the Professor first, so know our next step.”
Before he could speak, there was a loud whistle from above. We all looked up and saw the boy that was sent by Mr. Rutherford zooming from the sky. He landed a few feet away, and his flight assist contraptions on his back detached themselves. All of it was absorbed back into the two metallic arms that hovered right behind him.
“What happened while we were gone?” Prince Zion demanded.
“It was supposed to be a loss.” The boy admitted. I noticed the dents and scratches on his cybernetic armor, but there were no visible wounds on him. Indeed, he had to have some bruising inside. He still looked quite battered. “Then the enemies retreated minutes ago. We tried to send scouts after them to track down potential hideouts nearby.”
“And what about the Praetor? What about High Magus Shiraea?” I asked the boy, cautiously. I saw a slight crack in his helmet and spotted some locks of light blonde hair. “Are they okay?”
“Come with me. High Magus Shiraea gave me the task to watch out for you people once you got back from Asphodel.” The boy asserted. He didn’t wait for our approval and started walking in a particular direction. Most likely, where we would find the Professor. We had no choice but to move along. “I sent out some drones a while ago and came as soon as I detected your avroi signatures.”
“Avroi have signatures?” I asked sheepishly. In my head, I could imagine the helix symbol. It was my best guess. “Is that like DNA?”
“Yes. Each person’s avroi is unique.” The little boy affirmed. “But it sometimes takes time to analyze it. I have not studied it further, though. But I assume that siblings can have similar traits.”
“Wait a sec!” I quipped sharply. It caught everyone’s attention, and looked at me as we strolled through the streets. The mysterious boy walked ahead of us while I walked side by side with the young prince. Behind us were the four Kingsblades. “When did you have the time to analyze ours?”
“The first moment I saw you before the battle started. I already took small samples when you were close enough. It wasn’t that hard.” He replied. His tone was quite icy and mechanical. The boy was quite the robot that he is portraying. “I already have a small database of signatures for most of the important mages here in Altimeraea.”
“You are quite audacious to take something from His Highness without his permission, young man.” Sir Sylva threatened. “Try that again, and I will take your life. I don’t really care if you’re a little kid.”
“And I’m just quite delighted to know that I am labeled as one of the important mages of Altimeraea.” Prince Zion snickered. It wasn’t a big deal for me either. I understood that the boy was simply preparing ahead. “Relax, Sir Sylva. I’m sure he had good reasons.”
“You can try.” The little boy taunted. Sir Sylva still looked calm, but there was something familiar with the boy. I just couldn’t figure it out. I barely had the energy to think further. “I would already be a dozen moves ready before you make think of a plan. It’s not that hard.”
Sir Coren burst out laughing intensely. He even stopped to hit his knee with his palm. Even the young prince had to stop himself from laughing. “Holy crap! The little boy turned you into a piece of koprsh! That little boy needs a huge medal!”
“Maybe I can challenge him to a friendly duel.” Sir Sylva suggested, trying to retain his dignity. Or what was left of it. It was only Sir Raea who remain calm and composed. Everybody else was snickering at the boy’s remark. “Then we’ll see if it’s not that hard.”
“Like what I said, you can try. I’m more than ready to drive into the ground anytime.” The young boy flaunted even further. Everyone just stood silent and watched if the elegant knight would lose it. “Before all of you slipped in Asphodel, I already observed your fighting styles thanks to my drones. My AI had already made the computations and calibrated the perfect strategy to beat whatever you have. It’s not that hard, at all.”
“That sounds good!” The young prince remarked before Sir Sylva could make a comeback. The smile on his face was giddy. “Maybe we can duel later! My little brother would be most jealous if he missed out on an opportunity like this.”
“Hey! You need to rest your leg first. Even if I already healed that one, your muscles fiber can still be torn.” I admonished the young prince harshly. The young prince just frowned at me like a pitiful kid. “Don’t be stubborn. And don’t be careless.”
Sir Coren just roared in laughter even louder.
“It would be an honor to duel with you, Your Highness.” The young boy replied respectfully. Sir Ysverin snickered at that. Even Sir Raea had a smirk at the corner of her mouth. “I’m sure there are a lot of fighting styles that you have not yet shown. It would be delightful to see more of them.”
“Your magic is very impressive. Those creatures were not a joke, but you were able to battle with them in mid-air because no one could.” I pointed out. Everyone else seemed to acknowledge that. It was even more remarkable that he wasn’t heavily wounded. And it’s even harder to admit that he had the more arduous battle among all of us. “That’s not a small feat.”
“Of course.” The boy beamed. I couldn’t see it from behind, but I just knew that his lips curled into a smile. The enemy is strong. But we have powerful mages on our side as well. “That’s because I am the strongest MagiTechnician there is.”
No one objected to that. It wasn’t a mere declaration. It was a challenge for everyone who could hear it. And I was sure he was more than ready to trample anyone who dares duel with him.
We entered a smaller building that led to some sort of underground bunker. I couldn’t help but be vigilant in case the young boy was a traitor. Hopefully not. I had no more strength to fight. The 4-foot tall metal arms the hovered behind him was a considerably powerful weapon. And the building didn’t have space for a fight.
I pushed down the thought further until we entered a small room.
Praetor Cerva was there, resting on her chair. Opposite her was High Magus Shiraea. Then there was another man in the room. A little bit younger than the praetor. He had an undercut hairstyle with ash blonde hair on top, and the sides were deep brown. Stubbles of beard were present throughout his jawline. The man looked quite rugged.
Everything seemed fine. Except the Professor was missing her left arm. It looked like it was torn from her body, and a bunch of bandages was around it. Her skin was pale despite its natural deep mahogany color. Then her lips were parched, and she looked quite dehydrated.
I was stunned and silent.
“Professor, will you be okay?” It was Prince Zion who broke the silence. His tone was grave. And the situation merited it. “And if I may ask, why are we hiding here?”
“I will be fine. If you’re worried about my arm, don’t.” She replied elegantly. I couldn’t help worry more. When people said that, it’s often a bad thing. “I can still reconstruct a new arm for myself. Druid Magic can be helpful for that part. But I’m afraid I’ve lost my actual arm.”
“Report what happened in Asphodel.” The man demanded. And it looked like a protest was not welcome. “Make it concise so we can make a decision right now.”
We didn’t waste time. All of us said our accounts as to what happened on the other side. They seemed disturbed at the fact when we told them Samael had us played all along. Anyone would be. There were damages everywhere. An unknown kind of enemy had appeared. And the mind behind the whole thing was nowhere to be found. What’s worse is that no one knew what his next plot would be. Everything was merely a brandishing of their capabilities as Teios Kyr.
It took a few minutes before the Kingsblades reported about the creatures we have encountered in Asphodel. They described how the Asphodel’s side of the city had almost turned into a hive of the mysterious monsters. I also submitted the dust sample that I took from the weird clone of Samael. I made sure to suggest that it was probably not of Altimeraean origin. There was not much to report on our end, aside from Samael being on the side of Asphodel. But looking at the hindsight, we were deliberately separated from the High Magus.
The question is why.
My thoughts were interrupted when it was the mysterious boy’s report. He was very analytical and presented factual data. Almost like a school report. Based on everyone’s expression, they were not used to being exposed to that kind of information. It took a few minutes as he described the capabilities and weaknesses of the creatures. I didn’t even imagine that it would have two hearts.
“Based on the drones that I have sent out, there are a total of 33 soldiers that were killed in action. 47 are fatally harmed. And 122 have lighter wounds which are still assisting everyone else this moment.” The young MagiTechnician stated dryly, finishing up his report. Thanks to his gadgets that he deployed everywhere, he made a comprehensive report about the total damages in Gyroseus. “Only 18% of the buildings in the city are partially destroyed. 2% are completely destroyed. If you’re thinking about the damages done outside, it might take a year to restore the crucial properties is needs to bear agriculture again.”
“Do you have any idea what happened to the enemy?” The man inquired. He was by the table and was making some sort of drawing on it. Although he had nothing to draw with, I was positive that he created a mental imagery in his own head. “I’m sure you have sent out drones for that, too.”
“Affirmative.” The little boy replied. He opened his palm, and a hologram shot out it. Everyone except me was surprised as he displayed a map. Then he started pointing the route that the enemies took. A line was slowly drawn to give a better visual. “After the enemy’s retreat, they all vanished at this point. That’s around 8 miles away. There was no trace of them. Except for a faint scent of avroi at a particular point. I strongly propose that it should be investigated later on.”
“And what about the calamity?” High Magus Shiraea asked.
“The thing also withdrew. Unfortunately, I was not able to track it further.” The cyborg-boy explained. My stomach jumped as I imagined the Godzilla-like creature that could have flattened the whole city if it wasn’t stopped. Not even weapons from my world could fend it off. “But my drones were not exactly designed for deep-sea ventures. It was quickly crushed a kilometer underwater. The small drones couldn’t withstand the pressure of the ocean.”
Then there was a short silence.
“That will be all. Thank you.” The man concluded. He seemed surprisingly contented from the enemy’s disappearance. Something is not right. I was not convinced that the enemies would vanish just lie that. “I suppose this debriefing is over. You may go back to the Ambassadors’ Inn.”
“Thank you, Jacob Rutherford. We are in great debt for your help today. I find it most promising that we will work together again.” Praetor Cerva stated to the mysterious cyborg-boy. For the first time, we heard his real name. Rutherford. It’s possible that he is the son of Mr. Rutherford. But it was a ballsy move to send his own son to the battlefield. “I am also thankful for the assistance from Sevel. And of course, the young Necromancer. It’s fortunate that despite the sour history between our countries, we are a united front today.”
“It was an honor to fight with you, Praetor Cerva.” The young prince bowed slowly. The Kingsblades behind him did the same. “Even if I died today, I would have no regrets. We all fought for the right thing. And we will extend help as much as possible to take down Teios Kyr.”
Praetor Cerva just smiled and said nothing further.
“High Magus Shiraea, looks like it’s pretty clear. I think it would be best for you to get away as soon as possible.” The other man conferred. His tone became urgent, and I couldn’t blame him. “We do not want any further casualties. Our sensor mages saw no breach in the territory. It should be fine to cast an inter-dimensional portal.”
“And as agreed, I will not disclose our next whereabouts. I advise that you two do the same.” High Magus Shiraea affirmed. “You know what to do if there are changes with the schedule.”
“We will meet on the night of the second full moon in the Green Flamingo’s Bosom. The Supreme Qirian Council will be there.” Praetor Cerva asserted. It was a formal invite for the Professor. She was undoubtedly a well-acquainted individual. But seeing her lose an arm was a bit traumatic for me. High Magus Shiraea was a very powerful mage. And the fact that she was almost fatally wounded spoke large volumes of the enemy’s strength. “But for now, the goal is for us to rest and keep safe until we can regroup. Then we launch a counterattack against Teios Kyr.”
“And thank you for the invite, Praetor Eilihad.” The Professor turned to the man. Then I remembered the powerful lightning that smashed down from the skies. I couldn’t think of any other person except that man. That only meant that he was insanely powerful, too. “Come, Nikki. We need to hide in the meantime.”
All of us left the room, except for the two Praetors. Prince Zion and his Kingsblades went ahead. The Rutherford kid quickly vanished without a trace. I couldn’t help but peek a little behind me. It looked like they had something else to discuss. Whatever it is, it must have severe ramifications for Zidania. And all I could hope was the end of Samael, and the rest of those are like him.
As we walked outside, I couldn’t help but feel terrible for the Professor. The sight of her losing an arm wrecked my confidence. I’ve looked up to her over the months that we have been together. She had helped me fulfill some of my potential as a Necromancer without asking for anything in return. The High Magus was a selfless woman. And I hope that someday, I would my turn to defend her.
“Where are we heading?” I asked her.
“You will know when we get there.” She replied softly. Fatigue was written all over her face. Once in a while, I would catch her muscles spasm randomly. It was the earliest stage of burnout. “But first, we must retrieve your mother. We will need to lay low until I’m able to plan a course of action with the rest of the Praetors.”
“Okay.” I resigned. It sounded like a good plan, after all.
“Nikki!” A voice called behind me.
I turned around to see Prince Zion walking up to me.
“Anything else I need to do for you, Your Highness?” I sneered. He just smiled at my repulsive tone like it was nothing. The young prince had too much of a sunny personality. And that’s why he would never be in the top list of my favorite people. Never. “What’s your next move?”
“I’ll need to meet my little brother in the Citadel of Jeonnan first. I heard that there was also new information about Teios Kyr.” The young prince explained. He looked quite thrilled. I had to wonder how long since the last time he saw his twin. I could imagine his other half would be as noisy and as lively as him. “But after that, I’m not sure. What about you two?”
I kept my mouth shut since I didn’t know anything.
“We might take upon Mr. Rutherford’s offer and infiltrate Fuhrstenvald.” The High Magus told him. I was irritated immediately because he said it to Prince Zion but not me. And she even flaunted that she answered his question. “Nikki will be coming with me. He still has a lot to learn.”
“Wait!” I quipped. My reflex caused me to raise my hand and called both their attention. Prince Zion looked surprised. “What about my mother? I just can’t leave her like that.”
“Let’s see first what happens.” The Professor urged. Her icy voice was stubborn, and I was sure that she wouldn’t budge from the idea. And I find it crazy that she didn’t consult me about it. She’s going to drag me along again to who knows where. “Then we will decide later. You’re no longer safe in your realm. It would be best if you keep moving around.”
“But that means I would be gone for quite a while.” I concluded. It was always like that in movies. Infiltration missions would always take months before it is done. It even takes years at times. “I can’t wait that long!”
“That’s correct. But you don’t really have a choice. I have what you want.” She replied with no compassion or whatsoever. And I think she was trying to taunt me, but I had no clue why. “I will see if I can assemble a small team for that.”
“High Magus Shiraea, please take care.” Prince Zion interrupted. He knew that was close to fuming. I may highly respect my mentor, but this one was a crazy twist to what would happen next. “It won’t be easy anymore to fight with only one arm.”
“This is nothing. I can reconstruct a new arm for myself.” The Professor replied. In my head, I told myself to calm down. I didn’t have the energy to put up a verbal exchange. My body was screaming at me to take it a notch down. “Worry for yourself more, Prince Zion. War is coming.”
The young prince did not say a word and simply nodded in acknowledgment of what my mentor said. War is coming. Even I didn’t like the sound of it. Then Prince Zion faced me. “I guess this is goodbye for now.”
“Looks like it.” I stated. Then the young prince extended his arm. We shook each other’s hands firmly. As if we would never meet again. Instead, I smiled at him, which caused him to smile back. Then I finally decided to break my animosity towards him with a fist-bump to his shoulder. “Be careful, Your Highness. We still have a score to settle. And I won’t lose to you next time.”
“I’m looking forward to that!” The young prince grinned widely and fist-bumped me back on my shoulder. “Goodbye, Nikki. I hope we can be actual friends the next time we meet.”
He turned around before I could speak a word and walked away. High Magus Shiraea didn’t say a word either. All I could do was look at the young prince who gave me something to think about. I never bothered to actually ask myself why I had withheld friendship from him. It was a thought for some other time.
As the day ended, we went back to the Everglade manor to get my mother. I summoned a couple of wights to carry her before we teleported again back to my own realm. High Magus Shiraea decided to stay somewhere in South East Asia where the technology isn’t too advanced. That way, not even Mr. Rutherford will easily track us. According to my mentor, the goal was to be invisible to both enemies and allies.
We also brought with us all that we needed to revive my mother. Vials upon vials of different kinds of extracts from plants and animals were all brought by my undead creatures. The extra hands were beneficial. We settled in one of the islands wherein there weren’t many locals to question our presence. We had to use special hexes to repel them unconsciously so we could live in peace.
During the first week, High Magus Shiraea successfully reconstructed a new arm. It was for temporary measures since she didn’t have the resources yet. It was made out of clay, but it was enough. She said that it would not be as precise as her actual hand, but it was better than nothing. Once it was replaced by the better arm, her ability to cast multiple spells would return.
Days passed by, and the rose of Erehis finally bloomed. It was an exotic flower found in the deeper parts of Teutesus. The Professor had to retrieve it some months prior since it was a dangerous journey. The nectar was extracted and mixed with the final phase of the antidote. I was so thrilled that I started preparing the ritual circle right away. Master Shiraea understood and didn’t make any comments about it.
The whole room was filled with inscriptions. They were miniature commands to bend the ancient laws of magic. The theory behind it was still too obscure for me since it was designed to be understood by Rune Mages. In the next few minutes, High Magus Shiraea commenced with the ritual. Like all the other ones, the writings on the wall began to dance towards a vial of antidote. It started to glow in a deep hue of blue. Then it grew black as it absorbed the dark writings.
The finished product was a small vial of dark liquid. It looked sinister, as if it was going to take your soul. Goosebumps ran up to my spine. The little thing was so heavy with avroi. Months worth of effort just for the small thing.
“This antidote doesn’t look too friendly.” I commented.
The Professor loaded it in a syringe. Then she turned to my mom and carefully administered it to her by injecting it into her bloodstream. My heart stopped for a second. It was the moment of truth, after all. Slowly, color came back to my mother. Then she took a deep breath before exhaling calmly. Her eyes fluttered before opening gently.
“Mom!” I bawled. I couldn’t help myself anymore but tear up. My arms reflexively wrapped around her. She looked confused as she stared at me. “Mom! You’re back! You’re alive!”
“Where am I?” She asked. Her throat was parched. It was a good thing that High Magus was heavily proficient with Life Magic. Even if she was in a comatose state for months, her muscle didn’t degenerate. It was surprising that her upper body could incline upwards. “What happened, Nikki? Where are we?”
“Long story!” I cried out loud. But she looked happy that I was there with her. I was, too. The feeling was indescribable. The high was just insane. The moment of redemption was at hand. “We can talk about it later, mom. What matters is that you’re back!”
“Wait a second.” She mumbled. “Shiraea, is that you?”
The Professor nodded. My world stopped. All my thoughts were blasted into oblivion as my mother looked at the High Magus. And my mom looked at her with awe. It was almost ridiculous.
“It was not easy to find you.” High Magus Shiraea commented. But there was pride in her voice. And my mind slowed down, taking everything in. “You have quite a talented son, Evva.”
“Wa-Wait.” I stammered. “Wha-What’s going on?”
“When you barged into the Citadel of M’Vokagola, your powers already caught my attention. I knew you were unique.” The Professor explained. She looked serene as she laid down the details. And she gazed into my eyes, everything that happened started to fall into place. “Your eyes that were blue like the stars in the night sky. Your aptitude for Necromancy. Your mysterious Nyxian Blade. Your elite genetic pedigree. There was no mistaking it. And my hunch was right.”
I couldn’t even say a single word.
“Then I was able to catch up to you. I had to fix the incident inside the Citadel first. If my hunch was wrong, then I would have eliminated you right away.” High Magus Shiraea continued. My neck tingled with a weird sensation. “But you told me about what happened. And you brought me to your mother. That’s when I knew I was right all along.”
“Right about what?” I asked rhetorically.
“Nikki, I’m so sorry.” My mother apologized. She tried to reach out with her hand, but I pulled back. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. “Please understand. I’ve done everything I can to protect you.”
“Evva.” My mentor faced my mother. Her face was undoubtedly determined. And it was agonizingly forceful already. “You have to tell him the truth. You need to tell him who he really is.”
“Mom. No more lies. Please!” I moaned. Tears kept pouring out. Mom started crying, too. “Please! Tell me. Who am I?!”
“Your true name is Nikolai Vashchenko, and your father is the god of the other realm.” My mother said. My heart stopped for a split second. And my throat went immediately tight. Even my lungs halted. I went dizzy from all of it. “Nikki, you are the Prince of Asphodel. You are the son of Death.”