Chapter 182: Into the Nexus 1
Aldrich stood at the bottom of his Crypt, doing what he did best: observing. He had expected to be dumped straight into a natural Null Zone.
He did not know exactly what Null Zones looked like, but if rumors on the Net had any weight behind them, they were supposed to be areas lled with giant
Null Ore that protruded from the ground in forests of blacklight crystal.
There were also rumors that monsters even more terrifying than variants roamed them, but these were entirely unfounded.
Considering Aldrich was underground, he gured he would have been in some kind of cave lled with the crystals.
That got him excited about the possibility of taking some for himself, but no, beneath him was a metal oor, around him were metal walls, and above him, far, far up, at least a hundred and fty meters up, there was a series of giant metal ceilings that locked together to form a thick, entrapping seal.
Yet, through the metal, Aldrich could see the faint shine of Null. The metal was not grey but tinted a slight purple. Null energy permeated through almost all known metals, and it did not take much exposure to disable an Alter.
In fact, if containing a live prisoner was the goal, then it was better to keep the
Null exposure insulated to some degree as it was in the Null Box. There were studies done on captive variants showing that extended complete exposure to
Null energy caused the body to start breaking apart from within.
Flesh rotted, blood vessels burst, bones cracked, and internal growths akin to rampant cancer ared up.
Most likely because with the Alter organ prevented from circulating its unique cells, the body that relied on its enriching eects quickly broke apart.
Aldrich placed a hand on a wall. A thick layer of dust pued up in a cloud around his black metaled ngers.
Nobody had been here in some time. The surface of the metal was relatively smooth, but there were small dents and scratches here and there, some leading into a discernable pattern upwards. Evidently, prior visitors to this place had tried to escape.
Aldrich tracked the patterns up, but they stopped past fty or so meters up.
Something prevented them from going any further.
Aldrich rapped his st on the wall with minor impact. The metal vibrated, echoing the impact surprisingly well with a dull ring. "I see," said Aldrich with a nod. He had an idea of how the Crypt worked.
Essentially, there WAS a larger area with Null Ore within it. Presumably a cavern of some sort. But this giant metal cylinder was dropped within it, presumably exactly to prevent people from trying to mess with the Null crystals or nding some way out via underground passageways.
The fact that there were very few dents on the metal likely meant that there was some way to track if someone was trying to break through. The sudden disappearance of climbing marks after fty meters indicated a countermeasure for those trying to climb up.
Likely tied with this metal's property to channel vibrations well. Aldrich's theory was that any appreciable impact caused enough vibrations to trigger sensors above the inuence of Null's tech disrupting properties.
Aldrich sat down and made himself comfortable. He was not intending on escaping anyway, he just wanted to make sure he knew what his surroundings were like. The only thing that really mattered to him was that surveillance was impossible, and the presence of Null light did exactly that.
Now then, with that conrmed, Aldrich got ready to get to work. He had taken enough of a break from ghting, it was time for a little bit of excitement now.
He placed his hand on the ground, and a green light burst from it.
Aldrich revealed his hand, a faint trail of smoke curled around his palm, baring a glowing green sigil. [1x Sign Stone consumed]
The sigil, Aldrich noted, was dierent. It consisted of simple line patterns that formed a shape reminiscent of a tower. He did not pay it much mind because he sensed nothing was o about it. Instead, he put his hand over the sign, and it reacted, glowing bright. [Will you enter the Nexus?]
Of course, Aldrich's answer was yes. When he willed this, the light from the sigil surged up, engulng him. As he felt the darkness of his prison turn into the darkness of dimensional shifting, he thanked circumstance for putting him in this jail.
The world probably thought that they had Aldrich secure here, especially with that '22' entity, an entity unbound by any law, ready to ght him and try to kill him, but all the government had provided Aldrich was a very neat, very private spot to grow stronger.
It reminded him of meditation caves where cultivators in some Chinese novels went to grow stronger.
Though, unlike them, Aldrich would not take 500 years. Probably. He hoped the
Death Lord had not changed too much, but knowing her unpredictable personality, really anything went. Regardless, he was prepared for the worst. =
But when Aldrich manifested into the Nexus, the worst was not what he got.
Instead, the moment he materialized, he was hit full force with what felt like a speeding truck.
Aldrich crashed into the ground, skidding backwards. "Oof," managed out Aldrich as he looked down to see Valera tackling him down with a full hug. "Master...you don't know how much I missed you!" said Valera. "It...hasn't even been a day," said Aldrich with struggling breath. Valera's hugs had always been dangerous, but with her level now almost reaching 50, they were now no joke. "A day without you is like an eternity to me," said Valera as she let out a sigh of contentment in holding Aldrich. "I...appreciate you too," said Aldrich. As Valera snuggled into his chest, he hovered his hand over her back, wavering, wondering if this was the right thing to do. "Hm?" Valera suddenly detached from Aldrich, letting him stand up. She circled around him, narrowing her red eyes as she inspected Aldrich's body like a wary cat. "What is it?" said Aldrich as he looked around to get a brief idea of his surroundings. He was not in the Nexus at all.
He was outside, standing in a vast eld of grass that stretched out into the horizon. Countless beautiful white lilies swayed in a gentle breeze, all of them glowing with a ghostly purple light.
There was no sun here, leaving this place in permanent night. There was still light, though, shining from high above, in a huge green orb atop an enormous tower that stretched into the skies. The orb mimicked the role of a moon, casting pale silver light tinted with green downwards.
This was...the Death Lord's realm? Had Aldrich been ported here? No, Sign
Stones worked only for the Nexus. Had she merged the Necropolis with the
Nexus, then? "What happened to the armor? He always complained about his personal space,
I would have thought he would speak out now," said Valera. "Volantis...is undergoing repairs" said Aldrich. "Repairs?" Valera put a hand to her lip in concern. She was dressed in her black dress set, and there, standing in the grass, amid a eld of glowing purple lilies, she looked stunning, like something straight out of a masterpiece painting.
Physical beauty did not aect Aldrich due to his Lich status, but he could still understand and appreciate it. "Will he be alright?" said Valera, concerned. "I'm surprised you would ask about his wellbeing," said Aldrich. "I am envious of how close he gets to be with you, and thoroughly annoyed by how he prevents me from expressing my loyalty" said Valera. "But that does not mean I can take away from what he does for you. What he does for this
Legion by protecting you when I cannot." "You're becoming more open minded," noted Aldrich. "It was a habit of mine to think myself your only defender," said Valera. She smiled proudly. "After all, I am your guardian knight. None should be deserving to shield you but I!" She shook her head. "But that is simply not true. I cannot be there with you all the time, nor am I the only one that deserves to protect you.
I realized it when I saw that little girl with the spatial magic work so very hard even under my harsh expectations. All of us – the entire Legion – are your guardian knight, and each of us has a role to play in it.
My feelings cannot be allowed to break the order of our Legion, especially not when I hold such a high role within it." "What a ne commander you have, Death Walker!" The Death Lord before
Aldrich and Valera. She pointed to Valera with her pipe, trails of lavender smoke curling from her lips as she spoke. "She learns so very quickly. Reminds me of myself when I was younger. But enough of this idle chatter!"
The Death Lord raised a proud arm in the air, the pipe in her ngers drawing a trail of smoke with her movements. Aldrich noticed then that she only had a single arm. "And welcome to your new and much improved Nexus!"