Before the Death Lord could respond, Aldrich confirmed to himself that his quest for vengeance had truly ended.
[Quest: VENGEANCE completed]
[Objective: Death of Evan Harker completed]
[+50 EXP, 50 Coin]
[Objective: Death of Simon Wells completed]
[+ 100 EXP, 100 Coin]
[Objective: Death of Zayn Soldata completed]
[+9000 EXP, 5000 Coin]
[Objective: Death of Seth Solar completed]
[+20,000 EXP, 15,000 Coin]
[Negative Energy bonuses: +2000 EXP]
Aldrich saw all the experience cramming into his experience bar, but he did not level up.
Reading Aldrich's concern, the Death Lord explained. "All the experience, items and summons that you gain here flows into you only upon completion of this attempt, if you so choose to make this your final attempt." She raised a brow as she put clawed finger to her chin, cocking her head at Aldrich curiously. "Though, you will take this attempt as your final attempt, yes?"
"That depends on whether you give me the power I was promised or not," said Aldrich, threat oozing in his voice.
The Death Lord smiled widely, showing several rows of sharp fangs, like the jaws of a shark, beneath her shapely dark red lips. "Now that's the spirit. I am beginning to like you more and more every time we meet."
She nodded to Aldrich as she swayed her green scaled, serpentine tail from side to side. "Unlike many of my kind, I am not a dragon that breaks promises.
It is simply a little policy of mine to personally visit all those that near the completion of the Ritual of Eternity, for to become a Lich is a celebrated event, especially when that Lich is one with true free will."
"Interesting. I would have thought you would prefer Shades," said Aldrich. In Elden World lore, a lich that failed to pass the trial the Death Lord placed on them became mindless undead called Shades that basically were eternal slaves.
"Oh no, becoming a Shade is simply proof of weakness, and weakness, frankly, is boring," said the Death Lord. "But you, my Death Walker, are the exact opposite of boring."
"Good. Then you'll have no issue giving me what I need," said Aldrich.
"There. Like that. Power that you 'need', not power that you 'want.' A very key distinction between you and many Liches," said the Death Lord. "You believe you need this power for a higher cause, and that makes you fight, and that makes you succeed at any cost. It is an awfully admirable trait.
But yes, I will give you what you need. Yet are you certain you have completed ALL that you require for the Ritual of Eternity?"
"What do you mean?" Aldrich pulled up his quest tab to check his [Ritual of Eternity] quest.
[Objectives for quest: Ritual of Eternity]
[Obtain the Obelisk: Completed]
[Obtain a Phylactery: Completed]
[Sever all mortal bonds: INCOMPLETE]
"What…?" Aldrich narrowed his eyes. He had severed all strong mortal bonds, he was sure of it. He had the Butcher, the one who had personally tortured his parents, trapped in his Chrysalis. He had slaughtered those who had slaughtered him and his friends.
The Trident as an organization was something that Aldrich wanted to tear down, but he did not feel the same sense of burning, immediate vengeance against it as he did with the Butcher.
Whatever he had against the Trident was less personal and more a goal, a steppingstone on his conquest for power to bring this world into order.
The Death Lord moved close to Aldrich, and he immediately put up his guard, trying to manifest his weapons and magic. However, when he tried to reach out for his power, he felt it gone, like trying to reach into an unending well for the faraway submerged coins one knew would be at the bottom.
"You are unused to manifesting power in astral form, that much is to be expected. But I am not here to hurt you." The Death Lord put a pale, emerald scaled hand on Aldrich's arm, holding it close to her the same way a lady would hold her arm around a gentleman in a dance as she led him down to the ground.
Her expression lost her usual smiling coyness, replaced now with a solemnity that made it obvious she, behind her façade of casualness, had eons of life and undeath behind it. "Come. This is what you are missing."
The Death Lord led Aldrich in front of Adam and Elaine. Their zombie forms were covered in blood and entrails - all that remained now of Seth Solar. They stared blankly and dumbly at Aldrich's physical body, waiting his command, unable to see Aldrich's soul.
Seth Solar's soul floated into Aldrich. There was not enough of Seth Solar left to raise, so his soul automatically funneled into Aldrich unlike with Zayn who Aldrich marked to raise.
[1x Soul of Seth Solar obtained]
"You have not let go of them," said the Death Lord.
"What do you mean? I know they're gone. They're just empty shells of rotting flesh. I only kept them around for a symbolic sense of justice. To let them be a part of this vengeance even if it didn't mean anything," said Aldrich.
"Yes, that may be true, but deep down, you still hold out hope that you can bring them back, do you not? There are spells, mighty, higher circle spells, that can draw forth souls from the Soul Stream and bring them forth.
You know of them, and you know that if you amass enough power, enough levels, you might be able to learn such spells," said the Death Lord.
"…" Aldrich did not consciously think this, but he could tell that the Death Lord was right.
Some subconscious part of him pursued immense power not only to fulfill his goals, but because there were high level spells out there that could bring back the souls of even the long deceased, and that meant bringing Adam and Elaine back to live the lives that had been torn so cruelly from them.
It was not a goal he actively pursued because he knew it would tie him down to Adam and Elaine, but his bond with them was strong enough that it festered beneath his conscious thoughts anyway.
"I am here to tell you that it is impossible," said the Death Lord simply. "I have mastery of even the tenth circle spell [Astral Singularity] that can bring rip forth the souls of those deceased for eons, but magic that attempts to tap into the Soul Stream does not function in this reality, for it is not the Soul Stream of our own reality."
"…I see," said Aldrich.
"But there is one thing I can do for you. Though we cannot call upon souls of this reality, we can still create spiritual bodies with our magic.
That is how you may still cast magic that conjures up spirits that harm your foes.
Yet, in the end, these spirits we create are simply constructs destined to fade away, too unstable even to inhabit a flesh body."
The Death Lord inspected Adam and Elaine. She nodded to herself. "With my experience, I can likely construct temporary copies of their souls, but again, they cannot inhabit a flesh body, nor will they even be the real thing.
Their true souls are lost to the Soul Stream of this reality, and that is locked to even me, let alone you.
The only reason you would accept this offer would be to converse with your departed friends one last time. Their souls will even act as if they had been within these bodies the whole time, experiencing all that you have done.
Yet, it is merely that. An Act. An illusion.
They may not be real, but, if you so desire, it may be of some level of closure for you."
The Death Lord wrapped her arm around Aldrich's and squeezed it surprisingly comfortingly. "Consider this a gift from me, as one who knows what it is like to let go of true friendships.
Friendships that bind deep to the heart where their loss scars the very soul itself. Where their loss is a loss of a very part of yourself."
"…" Aldrich looked at Adam and Elaine. At their glazed over eyes, their rotted bodies, their bloodstained, horrible figures, and closed his eyes. Was this going to be his last memory of them?
He felt light, ever so light, but when he imagined them in his mind, he felt just one last tug of weight. "Do it. I'll talk to them again."
The Death Lord nodded and detached from Aldrich. Her own body was astral too, a silhouette of green, but unlike Aldrich, she could still generate magic from it. She stepped between Adam and Elaine and clasped her hands together. She closed her eyes. Her emerald green scales glowed as did her draconic horns.
A shimming white light formed between her palms, and it burst outwards, engulfing herself, Adam, and Elaine… From this burst of bright white light, bright, warm light that seemed like the kind you would bathe in when the gates of heaven opened, two dark silhouettes, one of a man, one of a woman, stepped out.