Chapter 187: Second and Fourth Deathguard [Bonus chapter for getting me to top 20 golden tickets/powerstones!] ====
Aldrich passed through the portal, followed by Okeanos and Valera. They warped into the Death Lord's Arena, standing in the center of an enormous colosseum.
They were in the actual ghting pit itself, surrounded by a stage of sand dotted with shards of shattered bone and bits and pieces of hacked o armor.
Evidently, this place had seen quite some action in the past.
Now, though, as Alrdich looked around, seeing the many empty stands and seats towering around the pit, he felt a distinct sense of emptiness. Of abandonment.
The Death Lord followed Aldrich's gaze and sighed. "Yes, this place has seen better days. Roaring crowds and battles to make the blood of even the coldest hearted of undead boil. But since the Severing of Realms, I fear I do not have enough under my command for such spectacle, with less than a third of my troops remaining with me." "Severing of Realms?" said Aldrich. "It is a term that Medula, my precious second, coined the strange incident that tore us from the Elduin realm and into this...this limbo space," said the Death
Lord. "This space bound strangely to your existence.
If you fall, we all fall, so do take that into note and try not to die, my dear
Usurper." "I've been meaning to ask about that, actually. Do you have any idea what happened to transfer you over here?" said Aldrich.
He had always been curious exactly how the game world had manifested into reality, but he had no ways to get an answer. There was his game console in
Blackwater, and he did have plans to retrieve it. However, it had been some time since Aldrich had been in Blackwater.
Most likely, his dorm room had been cleared out by now. And trying to get back to the rundown store that sold Aldrich the game would be impossible.
Aldrich remembered that store. It was a Shack store, a rundown, temporary store set up around the outskirts of Neo-York. The owner of the shack had been a man with a cybernetic black mask who had said nothing to Aldrich, just sold him the single copy of Elden World in his store for fty or so credits.
Shack stores like that which sold antique physical copies of games on top of random pieces of hardware and junk propped up and disappeared so often that he highly doubted the store even still existed.
And the store owner's status as a Nomad meant he had no citizenship recorded anywhere on top of never settling down in any one location. It would be incredibly dicult, if not near impossible to track him down, if he was even alive.
But if the Death Lord had the resources of her Necropolis, it might have been possible for her to get a much better understanding than Aldrich. "You wish to know the answer?" said the Death Lord. "The truth of the dark secret that lies in the this merging of realms?" "Yes," said Aldrich. "Then good, I do too." The Death Lord shrugged. "..." Aldrich put a palm to his face before speaking again. "Let's get on with xing Volantis."
The Death Lord smiled and nodded. "Medula, Wai'ki, it's about time you show yourselves."
In response, a portal appeared behind the Death Lord. This portal was not green like hers or Aldrich's, but instead a bright, infernal red. The tell tale coloring of demonic energy.
From there, two women stepped out that looked dramatically dierent from each other.
One of the women was tall and skinny, standing about level with Valera. She was dressed in a long black trench coat, with the coat tail reaching almost down her ankles. Almost all of her skin was covered, her hands wrapped in what looked like bandages and her feet clothed in black boots.
The lower half of her face was wrapped in bandages as well. The only thing really visible about her was her upper face, the skin pale in shade and marked along the cheeks with a line of gleaming red runes. Her eyes were a ery orange-red, covered a little by a thin curtain of white bangs.
Deep, tired crease lines and dark circles decorated her eyes, giving her a positively 'done with this all' aura.
She peered at Aldrich with this tired gaze. "So, this is who our new master will be? I expected more."
This was Curator Medula. Second among the Deathguard. Four red horns sprouted from the sides of her white hair, indicating her status as an
Archdemon. If Aldrich remembered correctly, she was level 80+.
She served as the curator of the Necropolis, specializing in spatial magics to keep things moving throughout the forbiddingly large structure. "D-don't say that – we don't know what kind of person he is! He might be wonderful!" said the woman beside her. She was a much smaller woman in comparison to Medula and held a far more welcoming aura with a shy but big smile.
She daintily grasped a wooden sta ending with a glowing blue ower head in front of her. Her garb consisted of a chest covering and ankle length skirt made of leaves and owers knitted together with bones. Unlike with Medula, this outt bared quite a bit of her tanned skin.
Her lengthy, forest green hair was tied in a bun set with narrow bone spikes as hair pins. Deer antlers glowing with a spectral blue shine sprouted from her head.
And this, Aldrich recognized, was Wai'Ki the Spirit Caller, the fourth of the
Deathguard. Level 60+. "I always set my bar low," said Medula. "That way, I'm never disappointed." "Stop spreading your negativity everywhere!" said Wai'ki. She turned to
Aldrich and gave him a deep bow. "Greetings, Usurper. I am Wai'Ki, fourth among the Deathguard. I look forward to working with you!"
Medula shrugged. "What she said." "Why are you two here?" said Aldrich. "To x Volantis, of course," said the Death Lord. "My powers can destroy, but restoration is not my specialty. These two are far better at that." "I see," said Aldrich. "Medula as an Archdemon probably has knowledge of
Volantis, and Wai'Ki's spirit magic helps in dealing with Volantis's soul." "Precisely," said the Death Lord. "My spirit magic is nothing to sco at, but it is still at the level of a novice compared to Wai'Ki." "Oh, don't say that, you're plenty special too, Melly!" said Wai'Ki. "Melly? That's your name?" said Aldrich to the Death Lord. He had never actually known the Death Lord's name in the lore because she was just known as, well, the Death Lord. "W-what?" The Death Lord was ustered. "No, that is a simple nickname. And so what if it is? Hm? Do you think it unbetting of someone my status?" "No, I don't particularly care," said Aldrich. "Alright, enough chatter," said Medula. She rubbed her forehead. "I have enough research and tower maintenance as is. Let's get on with this. You-,"
She pointed a bandage wrapped nger at Aldrich. "Get naked." "Excuse me!?" Valera stepped forward. "I need Volantis o to inspect him," said Medula. She looked at Valera, inspecting her briey before shooing her away. "You, you're useless. Go wait somewhere else." "If I am to be your new master in the future, then you should know a thing or two about treating others with respect," said Aldrich as he stepped in for
Valera. "Mm. What I mean is she's a warrior. She doesn't have the knowledge to be here. She'll get in the way. Same with that shellsh," said Medula as she stared at Aldrich with her unbrokenly fatigued stare. "I never get in the way of the master," protested Okeanos. "Medula is an academic through and through. She has spent her eternity secluding herself in a study like a recluse," said the Death Lord as she yanked
Medula back with her coat. Medula just stared tiredly as she was lifted up and placed behind the Death Lord like an unruly puppy. "She has not learned how to lter her thoughts. Nor has she learned a shred of decorum, no matter how much I try to teach her.
But she is right, Volantis must come o for this procedure to continue." "I understand," said Aldrich. He willed Volantis to detach, and the Demonwill's voice echoed in Aldrich's mind. 'Removing Armor' said the Demonwill.
Aldrich watched as the armor started to break apart into exible metal strips, peeling o of his body. "M-master? With no hesitation at all? I will give you your privacy!" Valera put her hands in front of her eyes, though noticeably, she left a gap between her ngers to peek.
And as the armor fully unpeeled, it revealed Aldrich in his full, naked glory. As a skeleton, of course. "I still feel strangely naked, even as a skeleton," commented Aldrich as he looked down at his body of bare bone. Then, his magical aura manifested, turning into a bright sphere of glowing green energy that covered his lower body. "Much better."
Valera sighed in mild disappointment as she took her hands from her eyes. "Inspecting now," said Medula as she twirled her hand. A faint purple outline covered Volantis's now empty armor form. The armor levitated in the air and plopped down right in front of Medula. "Wai'Ki, get over here and be ready." "Yes!" Wai'Ki hopped over to Medula's side, peering at Volantis. "How long will this take?" said Aldrich to the Death Lord. "Not long at all. A mere minute or so, I should say," said the Death Lord, gazing at Medula and Wai'ki like a proud parent. "After all, these are my precious
Deathguard. Their abilities are top class." "The Demonwill has become this weakened from the New World?
Interesting...," said Medula. She put a hand on the helm of the armor, directly over the white eye dot. "Isolating Demonwill."
Medula withdrew her hand, and from the eye dot, a strand of ery red energy emerged. The energy snaked upwards, coiling across Medula's ngers and up her arm like a living worm of energy. "Containing," said Medula as she opened her palm. A baseball sized black hole like void manifested above her hand, sucking in the Demonwill before collapsing in upon itself. This was Medula's Warp Magic, the Mystic Path that she specialized in the most.
Where warriors could devote themselves to Combat Arts and Weapon Arts that indicated specialties in specic martial arts and weapons, mages followed
Mystic Paths that indicated the eld of magic they practiced.
Medula nodded to Wai'Ki. "Your turn." "O-okay, I'll try my best!" Wai'Ki took her sta and gently put the ower head on Volantis's helm. "Volantis, you were such a wonderful mentor to me. Always driven to get stronger and so condent, too! Now-now I'll try and help you out." "---,---,---,---" Wai'Ki started to chant in a tongue that no human vocal chord could ever utter. It sounded like multiple voices layered into one. Utterly indecipherable.
As she spoke, her antlers glowed brightly, and strange, ghostly wisps started to emanate from the ground below Volantis, circling the armor in gently dancing light.