Chapter 270 Cure
A good minute after Clint left, Seraph broke himself out of his impression in the crater. Rubble and dust fell off of him in droves. His once perfect, glossy, wavy gold hair now fell down in messy, dust caked strands that veiled the blood painted all over his face.
From a minor assessment, Seraph figured he had suffered a fracture in his vertebrae and a minor concussion. Thankfully, the fracture did not paralyze him, and his base Alter healing factor smoothed the concussion over quickly.
With a growl more animal than man, Seraph stomped the ground, shattering the already damaged street even more. He had let evil get away yet again. He was meant to exterminate evil, and yet, he had been defeated just like that.
There was so much evil in this world.
So much evil that was powerful.
Seraph needed to get stronger. No matter what it took. Until every last shred of evil was exterminated.
Evil had taken everything from him. He would take everything from evil.
Seraph's receiver buzzed into life in his ear. "Who were they?"
"The right ones. Then Unbreakable was there," said Seraph.
"The Unbreakable? Then I'm assuming you're lying on the ground, all fucked up, aren't you?" The voice deepened in intensity, honing into a threatening edge.
"Standing, actually. But I could not enforce justice on them," said Seraph.
"Pathetic. I don't understand why so many people love you A rankers. You're all still useless. Then again, nobody loves you, justice-obsessed psychopath that you are."
"I have principles I stand by. Unlike you, Solar," countered Seraph. "And to think I once looked up to you."
"And I'm still looking down on you. Remember, Seraph, we're all in this together. Any one of us fails, and this house of card comes tumbling down on us. It crashes on me first, because I'm up higher than you, but when the crash does get to you, it'll have built up enough momentum to squish you into a tiny little smear on the pavement,"
"I know. I would have exterminated you in the name of justice already otherwise."
"Flexible principles, huh? You and I aren't so different."
"Flexible is a far cry from non-existent." Seraph said coolly. If there was thing he had long since learned to forget, it was fear.
"Just know where you stand. At the bottom of this all. Where you'll get crushed by circumstance or, if you get unlucky, my boot. And no amount of falsely placed confidence will save you from me.
I'm expecting better news from you later."
Solomon Solar's voice cut off, leaving Seraph in a brief moment of silence that soon would be cut off by the arrival of Panopticon drones. And a flurry of media drones asking him questions about this and that.
Seraph had long since committed to just ignoring the media completely. What use was popularity in the name of conducting absolute justice? Even if everyone in the world reviled him, as long as in the end he had cleansed the world, no matter how many bodies he piled beneath him to reach that point, he would be content.
But that single-minded focus had driven him into mistakes. Into risks. Into the situation he was in now, led around like a dog by Solomon Solar and the Trident.
Seraph grit his teeth as he saw flashing red dots approach him from the sky. Panopticon drones. One day, he would break free. One day, he would execute justice upon all of them.
Aldrich laid Chrysa down on Fler'Gan's lab table. She was still curled up in her sleeping ball position with tail touching her head. Shimmers of distorted space rippled all around her, warping the colors around her in a surrealistic slurry.
"How is she?" said Aldrich.
Fler'Gan inspected Chrysa with a monocle. He adjusted the monocle ring, and it clicked every so often as it engaged into different settings. This was a [Mana Reader] that could more accurately discern the flow of mana.
To Aldrich, it was useless because he had no real knowledge of how to read mana. The way he shaped and used mana was done almost completely for him via the system, though recently, experimentation had let him modify his spells a little such as with curving the trajectory of his [Death Bolts].
Still, that did not mean Aldrich had any of the book smarts knowledge that Fler'Gan had which was necessary to properly read mana.
"As you may know, mana is the power of the soul given form through physical vessels. A living being's mental state can heavily affect the flow of mana within their bodies, and in this child's case, these distortions are a clear sign of emotional anguish," said Fler'Gan.
"That much is obvious, is it not?" said Valera, pressing for a more specific answer.
"Patience, vampire. I was about to explain." Fler'Gan continued. "You are familiar with creatures such as succubi and incubi, are you not?"
"Yes," said Aldrich.
Valera eyed Aldrich suspiciously.
"In a purely academic manner," said Aldrich, and Valera's suspicion died down. "And in facing them in a fight."
"Then you know they are masters of nightmare magics. When a creature is in sleep, their soul is the most vulnerable. Normally, the soul is well guarded. An alert, active, stable mind is difficult to penetrate. Dreamstalkers such as succubi can take advantage of a somnolent state and freely drain mana from their victims.
The way this child's mana flickers indicates distress from a nightmare forcibly imposed upon her."
"From who?" said Aldrich.
"From you," said Fler'Gan.
"I have traced the origin of this nightmare. It comes from you. It is yours. I see that the Death Lord has imposed a ritual of synchronicity upon you two. But that is a link that flows in two ways.
Your soul, O Elder, is one dark and seeped in negative energy. This little one, on the other hand, is pure and positive. Yet, your soul, your mental strength, is far greater, and if one side of the scale holds greater weight, is it not inevitable for the scale to tip?"
"Inevitable? The Death Lord didn't make it out like there would be risks like this," said Aldrich. He remembered what he had seen when he tried to meld his mind with Chrysa's. The mass of tentacled darkness. "When I linked with her head, I also saw something. A mass of darkness."
"A beast constructed in the throes of a nightmare. I am sure that is not uncommon. However, I will warn you that I am not entirely certain about this," said Fler'Gan. "I am not an expert in soul magic. Its art was lost long before I was birthed. All I know of it are small, hazy bits and pieces from long forgotten and incomplete texts.
If you seek clearer answers, then you must go to the Death Lord."
"To that end, I will go ahead and disable the [Spatial Lock] imposed upon you two," said Fler'Gan. He took a few steps back, raised his hands towards Aldrich and Chrysa, and chanted, "[Great Dispel]."
A pale blue light emanated from his tendriled hands, washing over Aldrich and Chrysa. From his system status, he could see that the [Spatial Lock] was gone.
Thankfully, whatever was afflicting Chrysa was purely related to Elden World magic. Meaning that Aldrich had the resources to help her.
"Thanks, Fler'Gan. I owe you one," said Aldrich. He scooped Chrysa's limp body in his arms. Green mist started to emanate from him, surrounding his body.
"Grant me a new laboratory space in return," said Fler'Gan. "I am growing tired of this cramped space."
"You got it." Aldrich turned to Valera. "Valera, stay here for now. Keep a watch over this place and defend it in case anyone tracked us. I've had a [Grave Ward] follow us ever since we got ambushed, but I won't need it in the Necropolis. Keep it with you."
A [Grave Ward] floating behind Aldrich hovered over to Valera, and she grabbed the mass of giant eyes like it was a plushie. "Understood, master."
Aldrich then disappeared, his [Mist Phase] warping him away.
In the Necropolis -
"Hmm." The Death Lord circled Chrysa's prone body, furrowing her brows as she put a hand to her chin in thinking gesture. "Hmm," she repeated, deep in thought.
They were in Medula's magic experimentation room with blankets and pillows under Chrysa to give her some comfort.
"Do you know what's going on?" said Aldrich.
"Yes, and it is actually quite simple," said the Death Lord.
"What? Explain yourself."
"You two had a fight, didn't you?" said the Death Lord simply. "A fairly big one, too. The little one could not handle the stress of the moment, and that was enough weakness for the negative energy in your soul to seep through and wash over her."