Aldrich entered the Nexus, stepping into his familiar throne room, streaks of white dimensional energy arcing off his armor. Fler'Gan and Valera materialized on either side of him.
"Bah. Such a suffocating thing, this mask," said Fler'Gan, taking off his metal face plate.
"You don't have to wear it, you know," said Aldrich. "You saw Mollusk. There are plenty of people out in the new realm that don't have conventional human looks."
"Ah yes, Mollusk. He droned on and on to me about the persecution he suffered about his looks, hoping, perhaps, to find a fellow of shared traumas within me." Fler'Gan shrugged. "I care little of what mere men think of me. But I do tread cautiously around disparaging your image, O Elder."
"The world has seen geists and variants and giants under my command. You'll be the least of their worries," said Aldrich.
"I don't know," said Valera. She crossed her bare arms, not unburdened of her threateningly spiky hound armor, leaving her in her usual black dress. She smiled coyly at Fler'Gan. "Perhaps that mask does suit you. If only such that it prevents me from gazing upon you."
"I should have told Mollusk to be wary of you, not his fellow men," said Fler'Gan.
"Heh. I jest. Were you not a valuable asset to my dear, then perhaps not, but you are, so-," She shrugged.
"Hm. It feels empty here." Aldrich looked about at the vast expanse of his empty throne room. All his troops were not located in Haven, so the dreary grey stone tiles and walls just added to the bleak emptiness of it all.
"I am here!" Bors, the giant blacksmith, exclaimed from a distance away, a distance far enough where it was surprising the large being even heard Aldrich. He hammered at his anvil on a comically tiny piece that Aldrich zoomed in on to identify as a talisman.
The talisman was spherical, about the size of a tangerine with two distinct halves, one emblazoned with a red eye, the other with a black eye. The eyes looked quite animated, stylized in a tribalistic, totemic flair that belonged to Secret Demons.
"And with me, your item is near!"
"I see." Aldrich leaped into the air, soaring all the way over to Bors. He unfurled his draconic wings at the moment before his feet crashed into the stone floor, no doubt making an ungodly ruckus, letting him cinch a smooth, silent landing. "Interesting. Looks like Medula's help has paid off."
Aldrich could purify and process regular demon cores, but archdemon shards were beyond him. Archdemons were mighty beings capable of splitting their existence across many cores which they called shards, and even the weakest Archdemon shard required resources to purify that Aldrich simply did not have access to.
"Medula is smart. And with her help, I can make things with all my heart!" Bors nodded enthusiastically. He stopped bashing his enormous hammer atop the comparatively minisucle talisman to let Aldrich inspect the item.
Aldrich held it up. The talisman was tethered by a black chain that shimmered with waves of dark, demonic energy. He analyzed the item.
[Talisman of the Twin-Demon]
[Description: Shards of the twin Archdemons Anhil and Nilah reside within this talisman. On one face, the sound of Anhil's laughter rings. On another, the mute silence of Nilah reigns. Activate this talisman to temporarily give animated form to shardforms of the two.
As proud demons, the twins will obey but one command, though how they fulfill it is up to their whims.
Cooldown: 7 days]
"You've outdone yourself again, Bors," said Aldrich. "This is an incredible item, though even from a brief glance, I can tell that it's not one I can use very lightly."
The talisman allowed Aldrich to briefly summon shardforms of Anhil and Nilah, the twin demons he had fought in the third trial quest. Shardforms were the physical bodies that the shards could conjure to inhabit and interact with the world, giving them the ability to unleash their powers.
Anhil and Nilah were stronger than Aldrich at his base level. He needed to overload himself with Solar's power to stand a chance against them. Being able to unleash the demon duo would devastate 95% of enemies he would face in the Alter world.
But the fact that they would only obey a singular command was worrying at best and troublesome at worst. As secret demons, they were already hard to read and deal with. They would have to be a last resort, if used at all.
"I would rather like to say that I have outdone myself." Medula's voice confidently rang through the echoing hallway.
"I was just about to head over to you," said Aldrich. He looked over to Medula, finding that she had warped herself in a few meters above him.
"Well, I saved you the trouble, no?" Medula lost her usual suit jacket, revealing a white dress shirt with its sleeves rolled up, baring her pale forearms. Blood and fleshy bits were stuck to her arms, contrasting starkly with the white of her skin.
"Were you in the middle of something?" said Aldrich.
"I am due soon for my new body, no? I have been making preparations, creating a heart to implant. Unless, of course, you are not a man of your word." Medula's crimson eye narrowed at Aldrich.
"His word means more than anything you could fathom, demon." Valera appeared by Aldrich in an almost terrifyingly quick instant.
Fler'Gan was left twitching his mouth tendrils and staring at where Valera had been, then at where she was. He shrugged and began to float over, Vanguard's journal case in his hand.
"Ah, you. I should have expected no different. You do follow your master about everywhere. Without fail," said Medula.
"As is my duty," said Valera, proud.
"Reminds me of a dog," said Medula.
"Enough." Aldrich raised a hand to warn Medula to simmer her temper down. "You'll have your choice of a body in just a few days. For as long lived as you are, you're not particularly patient, are you."
"On the contrary, I believe myself to have been too patient," said Medula.