Chapter 242 Feast 2
Aldrich knew that there was more he had to do. There was always something more to do. He still had to see how the Chrysalis developed so that he could figure out whether Boundaries could synchronize properly. He had to figure out how to approach the third trial quest now.
The Chrysalis, especially, he needed to figure out how much she could train her powers before the day of the hearing. At minimum, she would likely improve her ability to take things in and out of Aldrich's inner world, and that could prove to be invaluable.
If Aldrich wanted to make a point, to instill fear so that Fler'gan's potion worked well, he saw no better way than to showcase that he could take powerful troops with him at all times no matter where he was, ensuring that if he was made an enemy, there was never a space where anyone was safe from him.
"Oh, Aldrich, why do I sense that your mind has wandered off somewhere?" Valera poked Aldrich's shoulder and stared at him with a judging look.
Aldrich snapped out of his thoughts. "Just thinking."
Valera reached out across the table and brought a plate over to Aldrich. Atop of it were strips of grilled chicken breast laid across a creamy rich golden mashed potatoes.
"Try this. It is griffin meat, and I hear that griffin meat can make you faster and stronger," said Valera.
"Thanks." Aldrich looked over to Valera's side of the table. She did not have a plate in front of her. Just a large glass of blood red liquid. "You're not eating anything?"
"I prefer blood," said Valera. "As would most vampires. Thankfully, it seems this place is quite considerate of my kind." She swished the blood in her cup around in small, controlled circles with ladylike elegance before she sipped it. "It is quite fresh, extracted live. Not from no mere livestock either. From the blood of thinking creatures. Not quite human.
The blood profile is rather sweet, indicating that it was extracted from one experiencing pleasure and bliss.
Quite nice. Sweet blood is my favorite."
Valera held out her cup to Aldrich. "Would you like some?"
"Not quite my thing," said Aldrich.
"Oh, I see."
"Which is to say, I do appreciate the offer-,"
"I know." Valera nodded. "I simply want to get to know what you like and you do not like. The simple things. Not your favorite battle stratagem but your favorite foods and drinks and colors.
Things we should know in our relationship."
"You're right." Aldrich nodded back, filing down in his mind that if he was going to be in a proper relationship with Valera, he needed to connect with her on the small stuff too.
Or, at the very least, he needed to try.
"So, then-," began Aldrich before he was cut off.
"Haha! Are we drinking already!?" boomed Volantis. He did not sit anywhere but walked around with gusto, grabbing entire plates of food and shoveling them into his face.
His helm-face split down the middle and opened up, forming into what was basically a garbage disposal chute where he consumed anything he could get his hands on.
"At least there is one good thing about this body of steel: I can no longer grow full!"
"Don't get ahead of yourself, you armored whelp! These old bones can keep up with you a plenty!" A large horned skeleton shouted with equal might. He stood right beside Volantis, standing shoulder to shoulder with the tall armor.
The skeleton reached out and also shoveled plates of food into itself. Instead of spilling out everywhere through gaps in the bone, Aldrich saw that the food instead fed into a fire that seemed to rage within the skeleton that acted like a stomach, burning everything up that the undead 'ate'.
"Leos, before my return, I had no interest in feasts. But now, I shall show you who can truly devour the most!" said Volantis as he crammed in an entire roasted bird.
"All of you are weak." Okeanos stood with them, devouring dishes at hyperspeed. When he spoke, his words were a little garbled from eating while he was full.
Those three were in their own little world of competitive eating that Aldrich had no intention of joining. He did like to see his units were happy, though. He would have liked the units in his first trial quest such as the Geist to enjoy this as well, but they insisted on continuing to search for flowers.
"It is all so interesting." Valera looked upon the scene before her with a cocked head and a smile. "To think that we once fought against this tower, all these undead. I like to think they are more like us than the mortals we ended up defending for the sake of the realm."
"Isn't that right?" The Death Lord manifested on Aldrich's other side in a cloud of purple mist. She put a hand on Aldrich's shoulder. "How is it, Usurper? Is everything to your liking?"
"…Perhaps there is still potential for us to be enemies." Valera eyed the Death Lord's hand on Aldrich's shoulder.
"Come now, little lady, loosen up," said the Death Lord. "Were I not the one pushing for you and the Usurper's happiness, do you think you would even be where you are now?
With that silly oath of celibacy of yours and your master too busy with himself to ever think of love?
The Death Lord crossed her arms and turned up her face. "You should be showing me gratitude."
"…I suppose you do have a point." Valera sighed.
"Where is the Chrysalis?" said Aldrich.
"Perhaps it is time you named her something other than 'Chrysalis'" said the Death Lord. "It is only natural for those born to desire a unique name. But to answer your question, she is resting in Medula's study. She has tired herself out quite a bit training her powers, and I did not feel like the din of this feast a good place for her to rest."
"That was my sixteenth plate!" roared Volantis. He slammed his fist against the magic reinforced table. "Another!"
A skeletal waiter quickly rushed to Volantis's side with a plate in hand that quickly got devoured.
"Don't get cocky, boy!" The large flaming skeleton took two plates and directly shoved them into the flaming pit under its ribcage, incinerating both food and plate in one instant.
"Too slow!" complained Okeanos as he waved more skeletal waiters towards him. "Bring me more food! For master's sake, I cannot lose! Not to a bag of bones!"
"Who are you calling a bag of bones, huh, fish boy!?" said Leos as he chomped down on a slab of seared meat.
"…I can see what you mean. Her ears would have gone deaf by now." Aldrich eyed the flaming skeleton.
That was Leos, the second of the Deathguard. He was an ancient warrior from a civilization that far predated any that the player character interacted with in Elden World, belonging to the same civilization that the Hierophant did.
In life, Leos had been a revered general. In death, he was the High Commander of the Death Lord's many troops.
Where Rella, the first Deathguard, was a one man army on her own, Leos let the Death Lord's armies fight to their full potential. Though deadly serious in battle, it seemed Leos could let go and indulge himself when he wanted to.
In any case, even if Leos, Volantis, and Okeanos were quiet, there was still a large din from other tables in the enormous dining room where the Death Lord's knights conversed and ate. Even her five blacksmith giants were also present, picking away at a veritable mountain of meat.
Notably, Wai'ki and Medula were absent, but they did not seem like the type to come to these kinds of events anyway.
"But I must say," said the Death Lord. "Your little aspect is quite special in her talents and training."
"What's the progress on that like? And what about the training you proposed for her?"
"You are not planning anything strange, are you?" Valera looked at the Death Lord suspiciously.
"Hah, who do you think I am?" the Death Lord wagged a finger. "No, I have thoroughly analyzed your little one and found great insight as to how to train her.
The key is synchronization."
"Synchronization?" Aldrich asked.
"Indeed. In reading the little one's soul, I have found it exceptionally close to yours. You two are essentially two sides of a single coin.
There is a magic called synchronization that allows different individuals to bind to each other, sharing some parts of their powers.
The greater the compatibility between souls, the higher the rate of synchronization.
I have no doubt your souls are more than similar enough to synchronize.
What she currently lacks for you is combat experience and mana pool.
As a child, she lacks the mana pool to sustain her side of the Boundary properly. And in battle, it is unsure whether she can handle the stress of a fight to reliably use her abilities.
Synchronizing, however, allows you to draw on her power according to your own terms. It removes the decision making from her.
Simply put, you basically obtain her powers as your own. You decide how to cast and use them. You fuel them with your own mana pool, albeit at elevated cost.
This is the fastest way to have her powers - your Boundary powers - combat ready for you."