Reborn: Evolving From Nothing / Reborn: Evolving From Nothing Chapter 202 The Thunder Sain
This was one of the legends of this world! A fantastic hero that fought against the mighty Demon Emperor of old! A literal fairy tale character! While Dorian hadn’t grown up in this reality, and thus didn’t see the man in the same light as most folk, he still found it amazing to meet an actual legend.
Dorian paused slightly as he looked at the man. He could sense, instinctively, that the man in front of him truly was a human. It wasn’t an illusion created by the Array he was in, nor was it his mind playing tricks on him. He was actually speaking to Kaladin, the Thunder Saint.
“Aren’t you supposed to be something like a monk? Why do you have so much hair?” He spoke up, saying the first thing that came to mind. He internally rebuked himself right after, trying to think up a better question.
“I was never good at being a monk. But hey, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right?” Kaladin smiled back. When he spoke and smiled, the long, lightning bolt tattoo scrunched up, making it look like it was striking down.
Dorian frowned slightly,
“Didn’t you found an entire monastery full of monks?” He nodded at Kaladin.
“I am a terrible role model.” Kaladin shrugged.
“But… you’re the Thunder Saint! You’re supposed to be famed for your dedication and bravery!” Dorian felt like the stories he’d read about this particular Great Hero didn’t seem quite so accurate.
“Well, I suppose that does make me a great role model.” Kaladin rubbed his chin,
“I guess the two cancel out? That makes me a mediocre role model?” He pounded a hand on his chest, giving Dorian a full-toothed grin,
“I have always strived for mediocrity!”
“I’m not sure that’s how any of that works…” Dorian returned, stuttering.
“Ah, don’t worry about it, don’t sweat the small stuff.” Kaladin waved him off, seemingly unconcerned that his logic was completely flawed, instead digging into his own line of questioning,
“Who might you be, young Demon, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Ah, oh, right! I’m Dorian! And, well, I’m not reeeeally a Demon, but it’s complicated.” Dorian began.
A few moments passed as Dorian gave the legendary hero a somewhat vague explanation. Despite feeling instinctively that this was indeed the legendary Thunder Saint, he kept his responses guarded and careful.
He explained that he was here to un-Seal Moria and wipe out the dangerous Demonic remnants that prowled about here. He also mentioned that his ‘wife’ had her soul injured and he was trying to find medicine to help her recover.
Oddly enough, Kaladin gave him an actual round of applause when he heard that, even tearing up. The supposed monk had none of the decorum Dorian would expect from a monk, but at this point, nothing would surprise him.
Dorian kept his questions rather pointed, knowing that time was of the essence, to at least some degree. The Demonic Shades outside were locked in a stalemate with those golems, he had a few hours at most. Spending a few minutes getting some answers was a worthy endeavor.
Kaladin seemed perfectly fine with answering, talking freely. There was a ton he wanted to ask the legendary Thunder Saint, but he needed to focus on his immediate needs first.
“This all is an enormous, interconnected Array, constructed using the biggest remnants of the Soul Spell Matrix of the Demon Emperor, to prevent him from resuscitating.” Kaladin was currently explaining where they were right now, and what the Sealing Tubes functioned for.
“I thought you all fully killed him at the final battle?” Dorian asked back, curious. Understanding the trap he was in was the first step to escaping it.
“Well, yes and no. We definitely obliterated his body, largely thanks to Yukeli, myself, and Arthur. We then harnessed the power of an entire world, drawing on every bit of energy from the Laws we could manage to create this prison, all to Seal away his Soul Spell Matrix.”
“Why didn’t you just destroy it?” Dorian replied, scratching his head.
Kaladin gave him an amused look.
“Do you think we didn’t try?” He shook his head,
“The Demon Emperor was a freakish monster in his own right. He split his soul into multiple pieces right before he died, scattering them into the air through some type of mystical Spell. While we managed to destroy his main body, large pieces of his soul still existed, hidden within the fabric of existence here on Moria.”
“Such a thing was unheard of, unthinkable, even. Who would willingly split 7 pieces of their soul away? It was suicidal, but, then again, he was dying to us anyway.” Kaladin then gestured at the world below,
“It’s part of why we chose to harness the power of this world, transforming it into a relatively Lawless wasteland. We thought we might be able to starve out and obliterate the remnants of the Demon Emperor.”
“But…?” Dorian queried.
“No buts. We did it. The Demon Emperor is most certainly dead, any remnant pieces of his soul stamped out. He may have been a powerful Angelic Class Demon, but he was not a God.” Kaladin smiled, this time a bit sadly,
“Pray few can out march the clutches of Time.”
There was a quiet moment as Kaladin seemed to ponder something. Dorian waited patiently, but when it became clear that Kaladin could sit still there for hours or even days, he broke in with another question,
“Well, then how did you end up here?”
Kaladin looked up and sighed,
“The final battle was grueling. In the end, I was struck with an attack that rent my soul, very nearly killing me. The injury was likely to be fatal if I did not receive immediate treatment or rest for hundreds of years, which would kill me anyway from old age. I am not an immortal and the injury was very draining on my life force.” He rubbed his chin lightly,
“Even the boost from my enhanced Soul Spell Matrix couldn’t make up for that.” He shrugged,
“The Demon Emperor’s attacks were incredibly strange and difficult to defend against, bypassing even the sturdiest of shields.” Kaladin’s voice became engaged as he went on, enjoying the opportunity to talk,
“Arthur and Sun Wukong left to fight off the High Generals as they rushed back to attack the castle, while Ausra and Yukeli began constructing this enormous Sealing Array. It was eventually determined that the complexity of the Array was too great. To Seal an entire planet… it was something incredibly difficult to accomplish. There was no normal Matrix Genie that could maintain something of such scale.” His eyes flashed,
“However… the soul of an Angelic Class monk like myself, on the other hand… it was something I could handle with ease, even in my near-death state.”
“You sacrificed yourself?” Dorian said slowly, his eyes wide.
Kaladin eyed him, a small smile on his face,
“You don’t understand the evils that the Demons inflicted, Mr. Young-Demon-that-claims-to-not-be-Demon. The Demon Emperor actually wasn’t that bad a fellow, but he didn’t control his subordinates and refused to keep them in line. Something had to be done.” He sighed,
“If I could prevent a repeat of all that pain, all that suffering… yes, I would be willing to die for that. There is a reason I went on such a suicidal mission in the first place.” He shook his head,
“The war was horrifying. Billions and billions of innocents were swept up in it, the constant slaughter, the destruction of entire planets… anything was worth it to stop that unending war.”
“And so here you are now.” Dorian stared at Kaladin, without blinking.
Dorian stayed silent for a moment, taking the information in. His heart was tinged with genuine, heartfelt respect as he heard the man’s tale first hand.
After that moment, he asked another question.
“You don’t seem particularly in control of the Array.” He began slowly, waving his hand, “In fact, I spoke to another Array Genie, one that was in control of a network of Inheritances connected to this planet. He didn’t mention you at all.”
Kaladin nodded as he heard this,
“Each of the Sealing Lances was placed at a spot where a remnant of the Demon Emperor’s soul was detected. Eventually, the soul remnants would be absorbed into each Sealing Lance. The plan was for them to slowly dissipate. Unfortunately…” He shrugged,
“Emperor Karsos was a wily bastard. He co-opted the Sealing network we built to spread all the knowledge he had of his Demonic Laws, and created his own Array network on top of ours. Over time, these two networks have merged somewhat, making a mess of everything. That Array Genie was his creation.”
‘Sealing Lances? Tubes? Rods? Can no one pick out a single name for the damn things?’ Dorian tossed the thought from his mind as he continued to listen.
“It’s because of that, though, that I’ve managed to get a few indirect messages out to some of my descendants in the Monastery. Karsos was also able to send out rumors and information of his own, drawing Demonic disciples here.” Kaladin continued.
“Wait… does that mean you heard what happened to Yukeli?” Dorian interjected.
“Oh? You know of that? Well, yes, I’m aware of how he went insane in the end, though only because of a few messages Ausra sent me. I’ve already done everything I could to help her.” He sighed.
“Still, all in all, living in here hasn’t been that bad.” Kaladin motioned with his hand.
Immediately, a chair appeared, made out of what appeared to be crackling yellow energy. He sat down in the chair comfortably, turning to look back at Dorian.
“It is what it is, I can’t change the past.” He smiled.
“But…” As Dorian went over all this, his eyes narrowed,
“Does that mean the Demon Emperor is still alive, in part? Just, somewhere in the Array?” Dorian replied, feeling confused.
Kaladin laughed out loud,
“I already told you. He’s dead. Even with only a few disassociated soul remnants left, the Demon Emperor truly was a great foe to face, but time is the one enemy that no one can truly defeat.” He looked over towards Moria with a sad gleam in his eyes,
“Karsos faded into the nether several hundred years ago. The injuries he sustained by splitting his soul were not survivable. I only managed to survive so long by leeching off the Array, having it slowly heal my soul.” He frowned ever so slightly,
“I have been alone ever since.”
Dorian felt his heartstrings tug. Kaladin’s experience reminded him of when he was trapped in his own Soul Spell Matrix for years, time accelerated and forming a mental prison of sorts. He couldn’t imagine how awful it would be to be trapped here for centuries.
“Well… How do we get out?” Dorian took command as he began to walk around the floating disk, his eyes narrowing.
Kaladin gave him a cheerful smile,
“You can’t. There are tons of safeguards in place locking the area down. Both myself and the Demon Emperor tried for centuries to leave and failed. I’m just a soul so escaping wouldn’t do much for me, but it was fun to try. It’s quite great to have company now, but I am sorry to have to bring forth such sad tidings.” For the first time, Kaladin’s unwavering optimism broke slightly as he gave Dorian a sympathetic look.
“Right, right.” Dorian waved him off,
“But, hypothetically, if I wanted to get out, how would I do that? I’m a bit… special when it comes to doing things I shouldn’t be able to do.” He turned a questioning eye upon Kaladin.
The monk paused for a moment.
“Well, the first thing you’d need to do is be able to access the Demonic Array left by Karsos. You actually stand a chance of that, given your Demonic nature.” Kaladin made a few motions in the air.
Immediately, a vertical glowing circle of green light appeared, floating in the air. Strange symbols could be seen, flowing in a complex pattern.
Dorian stepped forward as he looked at it, rubbing his chin.
“However, you’ll need to be recognized by the Signature Control Key from Karsos’ Array network, and there’s no way you can ge-” Kaladin abruptly shut his mouth as he saw Dorian reach forward.
A flash of light lit up the world as the air, and every single chain that was holding down Moria, shivered. Dorian’s eyes began to glow, a faint Aura wrapping around him.
“You… you are recognized by his Signature Control Key?!” Kaladin’s jaw dropped.
After a moment, however, he recovered, the excitement fading from his eyes.
The chains that had shivered did only that. They didn’t stretch taut and the light that Dorian had brought into existence faded. The world around him returned to normal, nothing changing.
“It’s still useless. You might be able to access Karsos’ Array Network, but the Array Network left behind by us can only be directly accessed by Yukel-”
His jaw dropped a second time as a second glowing circle formed in the air, this one a cool white color.
“W-w-what?! By Ausra’s spatula, how in the 30,000 Worlds is that possible?!?!”
“You can access Yukeli and Ausra’s Array? It recognizes you?! How?!”
Kaladin’s eyes seemed as if they were about to pop out of his head.
He tentatively sighed again after a moment, noting that the world around him was still stable.
“Even if you can access the network Yukeli and Ausra built, there is a safeguard that requires Ausra’s presence to be-“
Light blazed as the chains pulled away from Moria, the world trembling about them.
Kaladin stared at Dorian, his jaw looking as if it was about to fall off his face in sheer, unadulterated shock. Despite being only a soul his eyes almost rolled up in the back of his head, as if he was about to faint.
“What in the 30,000 Worlds are you?!”
.. .. .. .. .. ..
Meanwhile, while all of this was going down, on a World not too far from here…
The King of the Shades, Hasith Shanty, looked at the sword he held in his hand quietly. It was larger than average, a type of longsword known as a bastard sword. He held the sword gingerly, as if he didn’t want to be wielding it at all.
His full greying beard had been cut short, giving him a more military appearance. His calculating grey eyes and lean muscular figure remained the same, as were the dozens of knives that were strapped to the long and ornate purple robes he wore.
He was standing in a large, glittering sunroom. Light was let in from giant panes of glass overhead, illuminating a mostly empty practice room. The floor was covered with a large grey mat. One wall had a selection of weapons on it and a door, while the other three were filled with mostly clear windows.
“The preparations are almost complete. Highlord Marcus Aurelius… I will seize Evonon from you even if I must kill off your entire planet to do so.” He grit his teeth as he spoke.
“My people are depending on me. The entire Commune is, though they don’t know it. We have less than a century left.” He slowly sheathed his blade with a sigh. A black Angelic Halo appeared around his head for a brief moment before vanishing.
He sighed again, his eyes flicking to the side.
“Bariel. Enter now.” His voice echoed as he waved his hand to the side.
“Your Highness! I bring urgent news!” A Shade wearing a set of dark grey plate armor walked in, holding a metal helmet in one hand. The Shade was older, with a lined face and grey hair. Despite that, a vibrant Lord Class Aura surrounded him. He was one of the Shade King’s trusted aides, in charge of bringing important information to the King in a timely manner.
“Just moments ago, Excelsior Gamin sent in a request for backup! He’s become entrapped in a prolonged battle with one of the Family Generals of the Aurelius Family, General Balbinus, on Shaptle! Specifically, just above the city of Cracktyl.”
As Hasith heard this, he froze, not revealing a hint of emotion.
“Have any of the Dukes or the Church sent any significant forces to intervene yet?” He queried quietly, his voice calm and collected.
“No, sir!” Bariel responded, barking out a fast response.
“You are dismissed. Have word passed on to the Church and the District Commander that oversees the planet of Shaptle. Also… I believe Duke Barmo has some influence there? Send him word as well, as a courtesy.”
“Yes, sir!” Bariel dashed off, his voice echoing as he ran to fulfill the Shade King’s orders.
A quiet pause ensued as the Shade King was left alone.
“Balbinus is on Shaptle? Marcus would never give up Evonon, even with a hostage to trade. Bloodshed is unavoidable. However, I might be able to lure him out alone if I have one of his Generals…” Hasith’s eyes flashed, his mouth twisting slightly as if in distaste,
“And if not, killing him would save tens of thousands of lives and precious time that we can’t afford to waste. The sooner this pointless war ends, the better.” The Shade King seemed to talk himself into it.
He blinked slowly and then took a deep breath. The dark Angelic Halo appeared, hovering around his head once more. A vast, overwhelmingly powerful Aura burst forth around him, visibly fracturing the air within a few meters of him.
A moment later, both he and the fractured air vanished, disappearing as if they had never been there at all.