Chapter 1: The Longest Life among All Lives
The world did not always stay the same like people had always believed. It changed every now and then. Era was forged by series of events in different periods of time. From Stone Age to Medieval Time, human had been through countless occasion. They could be peaceful but they could be violent. It was rather seldom that a person could breathe the air of the new age, because one usually could not live long enough to witness a dynasty of a new king.
Knowledge and techniques getting lost was nothing special. The change in people’s perspective and the equipment development had erased the old habits and brought newer and better service to life. For instance, the thought of using metallic tools in farming and fighting never existed during Stone Age. On the other hand, a person from a modern world probably never imagined living a life without a proper toilet.
Ridiculously, the development of a single world seemed pretty damned boring to the God of Creation, if there was one.
That was why there were distinguished worlds existing at the same time. Some worlds had magic and some did not, and developed in their own ways. For example, if there was a world without magic, as the time kept passing, modern technologies would be made, massive machines would be built, and the organisms would depend on those things to survive and venture further. Alternatively, tools in a fantasy world would pretty much stay the same due to the convenience and the power of magic. Perhaps the people living there would create more powerful or more useful magic to serve their purposes.
My name was Ares, although I was not a god or something like that, I had traveled to many worlds in different flows of time. It was not easy for me to explain it but I have a passive skill called [Hourglass], which would reincarnate me into another world as another role after my death.
It was like a reset button. My head would explode if I tried to count how many years had passed since the first time I had started this unexpected journey. My guess was roughly 1,000 years but even several thousands more might make no difference.
Despite owning a skill giving ability to live in many worlds, this was rather a curse. My belief of Rest in Peace was shattered without mercy by a random superior existence.
I used to be a businessman before living as a cave man in Ice Age, a president of the most powerful country, a farmer in a kingdom, an ant in a desert, a dragon in ancient time, etc. I also spent my lifetimes in a modern world with high technologies, in a prehistoric world with dinosaurs, in a fantasy world with magic and mythic creatures, and so forth.
Furthermore, I failed to determine whether it was fortunate or not when I was able to keep all the knowledge and power I had gained before a new reincarnation. It was extremely difficult to keep my mind conscious because I could easily turn into a monster powerful enough to destroy a whole planet.
After a few times getting back to life after death, I started to make a bet with myself about in which world and which role I would be summoned.
In this life, I was lying on a comfortable bed in a nursing home, taking my last breath. Rarely were people here since the whole facility and equipment functioned by robots working here instead of real nurses or doctors. At the first time I went to this world, I was really shocked seeing all this. Eventually I got used to cyborgs and highly intelligent machines. If I had not succeeded to blend in, I would have killed myself to active my passive skill [Hourglass]. Oh yeah I tried it once and it did not stop the function of [Hourglass]. I was moved to another world with another role once again. That time was horrible when I lived as an ant and had to pick up every single pieces of everything. How could it not be hard when it took me around 5 hours just to go for one kilometer?
I had to run away and hide when it rained and travelled further than expected just because of a tiny pond, where I could get drown easily.
They always said “Rome cannot be built in one day”, and I totally agreed since I picked up tons of both useful and useless experience. I used to be a hot tempered businessman in my first life but due to “experience” of living as an ant, I became patient and it helped me a lot in the next life.
I still remembered the time I joined a rebellion group formed by people living under the cruel domination of a tyrant. Several days before we launched our final attack to the castle, whilst I and my fellows were transporting weapons through a city, we were humiliated and beaten up badly by a few mere gate keepers. If I had lost my temper there, we would have been exposed and our plan would have certainly failed.
No matter what kinds of flavor I tasted, they were tasty this way or another. Therefore, I expected that what I learned from life full of advanced technologies could turn into a useful tool for me.
During my thoughts, a beam of light has been coming already. In front of me, a shadow in shape of an hourglass was turning upside down. This scene was too familiar to me since I had seen it hundreds of times before. I hope I would rise as human again next time.
It was not easy no matter how many times I had been reincarnated. I was usually born as a baby with remained memories but now it was a bit weird.
I did not want to blame the odd but the curse could not make an excuse this time.
How on Earth did I become an Undead?
According to my surroundings, it had to be a summoning activity. There were a necromancer, tons of candles (do they really need to buy this many?), a transmutation circle drawn on the floor, and magic traces all over the place.
Because it had become a habit, I always checked my status and appearance every time I came to a new life. Furthermore, I was not sure if it was “life” when the creature I took shape was a dead one, coming back to life with forced will.
After a moment of confuse, I regained my calmness and turn my eyes toward the necromancer. He was silent for a bit then spoke up.
“Who are you?” Necromancer asked me like he used to ask numberless skeleton before that.
“My name is Ares but there is one thing you need to know. I am not your puppet or summoned beast. I can control my own body and I will act in my own will.”
The necromancer was in shock, apparently. However, he turned back to his sense quickly and continued our conversation.
“I understand. My name is Naru. As you can see, I have held a special ceremony to summon you here since I did not want any stupid puppet without self-control.”
“So we are clear. Why did you summon me?“
“Summoning Undead is one thing but what I want you to do is far more important than what a mere skeleton can do.“ Naru was slowly getting serious.
“Are you saying that you tried to get a special Undead to do something essential?“ Ares figured it out.
“You got it right. My time is almost up so I will explain it to you briefly. I am not an Undead 100% so my body has been getting rotten for 400 years. My ultimate purpose is to control the time.“
“To control time? Are you serious?“ By the time I heard that, a sudden anger arose in my mind.
“Yes, I am. It must be a spell or a skill or an item or something out there that has the power to manipulate time.” Naru failed to notice my angry expression (because I did not have a face) and kept his excitement. “I have found evidence but I am no way near to achieve what I have been searching. All of my documents and research were stored in my house in the middle of a poisonous swamp.“
“And what do you want from me?“ Seeing him like that calmed me down a little.
Naru looked straight to my eyes and said his intention. “I want you to carry on my will. Search for it! You are a true Undead. Time means nothing to you as long as you do not get yourself killed.”
I was stunned for several seconds. What this guy was asking me to do was always what I wanted to escape from.
”Once you mess up with time, it is a curse. Trust me. You do not want to get involved.”
Because of my serious voice, he started to wonder, ”How can you know?”
It was dangerous to carelessly tell someone about my curse. Nevertheless, the one in front of me was at his end, so I thought it would be safe to speak honesty.
“I have a special ability, a passive skill. The name is [Hourglass]. It resets my life every time I die and send me to another world, turning me into an organism and starting a new life. This time, it is Undead.”
”WHAT? Is that truth?” Naru could not restrain his doubt and shock. He accidently raised his voice.
”You can choose to believe me or not”. I decided to summarize my story for him, since my first life until this one.
After listening to everything I said, Naru stayed quite for a long time.
Then he laughed
”Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
Now I was worried. He might fine it too hard to believe and lose control. ”Are you alright?”
”400 years of my life is not a waste. By telling me about the worlds you have been in, you have to grant me my final wish. Thank you!”
Seeing Naru almost kneeling on the floor caught me surprised. However very soon later I finally knew why.
His life was miserable. His lover was ripped from him and sent to another country, which later was destroyed by his nation. Naru found her dead in a ruinous castle, wearing a maid dress. Even though the body was severely damaged, he still recognized his beloved one.
After all that time, he was on his way to turn back time to change everything had happened. More than 400 years had passed yet he had not accomplished his wish even. Fortunately, at the end of his journey, he met me.
We then spent the whole night together sharing our own stories. Naru, a poor man who had turned into a necromancer to seek time control, was completely satisfied that night. Once I gave him my word that I would reverse time for him if I figure how, he had nothing to regret.
His wish would never come true because it was never my original purpose. I sought to end my flow of time, not turning it around.
I did not want to lie to Naru but a fake promise was a lot better than a straight rejection to somebody on the verge of death.
His life ended after a week.
During the time being together, Naru told me a lot about this world and some factors I need to be cautious on. Besides, I have all the records belonged to him when he spent time on travelling around the world and collecting information.
There were so many things to learn and lots of things to catch up. That was why I used a whole year studying everything I needed in this little wooden cabin in the middle of a poisonous swamp before starting my journey in this world.
From Naru’s hand notes and his collection of books, I learned about magic spells and all other skills. However, spell required chanting sentence to be activated. That is essential in order to properly control the flow of mana inside the body and if a person tried to use a huge amount of mana from the nature, that one must hold a ceremony.
Naru was an example. If he wanted to summon an ordinary Undead, all he needed to do was used more mana within his body by chanting several sentences. In contrast, Naru was aiming for a more powerful Undead so that he had to prepare a lot.
More complex and powerful spells consumed lots of mana and they all were very difficult to control the flow of mana. In the case a person lost the control his own mana, he would be driven mad and die or worse, became a monster and attack everyone else.
I was different. As I tried to cast a spell and succeeded under Naru’s instruction, I figured out something else. Instead of spell, what I had was skill. Having cooldown was the only disadvantage of using a skill. Cooldown was a minimum period of time that a caster needed to wait after using a skill or an item before it could be used again. Thus I had no worries about controlling my mana or anything like that. Moreover, I could use it immediately without long boring chanting sentences. In spite of some skills requiring a bit of casting time, it was rather a delay than a chanting sentence so they were not similar.
In this world, only people born with mana within their body could use magic and they had many choices how to live their lives. Some people lived as knights, farmers, pharmacist, etc. Some used their power to fight in battles while some spent their entire life to help people.
The proportion of people with mana over those without it was not high. If a magic caster had enormous mana pool and he or she was considered powerful and often earned a high position in the kingdom.
Another point I needed to pay attention on was the government. It seemed the period was still in Medieval Time, the ultimate power laid in the king’s hand, then royals and nobles, and finally landlords.
Because it seemed waste of time just to sit here and make a guess, I decided to leave the swamp and travel around the world. Having an Undead body meant I could not die due to age and casual sickness.
It seemed I was going to have the longest life among all lives I had had.
I pulled out an item called <Storage Crystal> from my Inventory, a different dimensional space to store my belongings. <Storage Crystal> was able to store a removable object no matter how big it was. That was one of my proudest inventions in the world of alchemy. Since I wanted to distinguish potions and elixirs made by Naru and those by me, the best option was to keep his everything within the house.
“Activate <Storage Crystal>”
A glowing light engulfed Naru’s house and faded away quickly, leaving a pale blude crystal on my hand. The name of the item was changed from <Storage Crystal> to <Crystal of Naru’s House>. Then I put it back to my Inventory.
Before going, I covered my skeleton body with a set of white armor. Only my skull was left to be seen because I could not decide whether I should wear a helmet or not. Even though I let my skull exposed, the armor provided protection for it as well. It was made of alloy by combining Orichalcum and Adamantite, two legendary types of metal, and enhanced to its best.
I did not think an atomic bomb or a dragon breath able to leave any scratch on my armor. That was how hard it could be. With this [White King Guard], my worry about being one-shot by a powerful creature reduced significantly but being careful was never too much. I used to be overconfident and shot down by a plasma canon whilst carelessly flying at 20,000 km/h. I swore I would never repeat that mistake again.
Next, I checked my status for one last time. As always a transparent window appeared in my vision. The menu was divided into tabs for [Map], [Inventory], [Status], and [Skill]. Once I looked at [Status] tab, my personal intellect showed up.
·Class: Ancient Death Knight
·Strength (STR): 52,000
·Constitution (CON): 65,000
·Dexterity (DEX): 26,000
·Intelligence (INT): 26,000
·Passive Skill: Hourglass
·Active Skills: Etc.
My power was converted into level and points in this world. Despite my own will wanting to have equal Stats, CON had the highest point after all. Perhaps it was because of my race, Undead, a being which was tough to get rid of. Briefly, STR (strength) represented physical power I possessed, CON my vitality, DEX agility and flexibility, and INT mana pool and mana manipulation.
The next thing was money.
According to Naru, different kingdoms ran different currency among them but they usually had the same value. They even had exchange system so it was quite convenient. Naru told me to use his saving but I rather make my own money than using someone else’s.
The currency of the nearest kingdom was Gyl. There were bronze, silver, gold, and platinum coins. One bronze coin was evaluated as 1G, silver 100G, gold 10,000G, and platinum 1,000,000G.
Currently I had not had any money of this world but I did have something to sell like valuable materials and potions or elixirs. Unfortunately, selling mysterious stuffs on the first time coming here was dangerous. I really did not want to risk it at all. I got to find another way.
It was time to leave the swamp and venture.