28 – Demon Lord Route – Fugue
The heart of Yggdrasil was what I once thought to be just a chamber hidden in the inner depths of Alvheim. It was mostly the same as I remembered it being in the future, despite my alternate entrance. The major difference was the atmosphere, sacred and filled with life rather than desolate and dead.
Roots swirled around the chamber, gathering around an orb of glowing green light in the center. Within it, I could see a sword suspended within the radiance.
A splitting headache and a flash of a memory.
I grimaced and clutched my head with my left hand.
After a few moments, the headache passed. I sighed and stepped forward, glancing around.
I didn’t need Analyze to see the patterns of mana woven into the area. They shone with enough power that it could be seen with the naked eye. Patterns that formed barriers to protect Alvheim. Patterns that formed lines of communications throughout the Ancient Forest. Patterns that formed what were essentially trip-wires, detecting whenever those with hostile intent drew near.
Powerful but simple. The patterns did their job and did it well, but they weren’t enough.
I watched how the patterns wove into each other and interacted. Where I couldn’t comprehend them, I used Analyze. Coupled with my experience from seeing the barriers on the outskirts of Alvheim and my Absolute Memory, it didn’t take long before I could figure out where to place my additions.
Anti-magic formed in my right hand. Though it served as the antithesis of mana, the properties were similar. Slowly, carefully, I twisted what little I could muster into threads, weaving them into patterns like the ones I saw.
“Hello.” A voice echoed from just beside my right ear.
I froze. After making sure that the Anti-magic remained secure and far away from the existing mana patterns, I turned my head to look at the source of the voice.
A young girl in a dark brown dress floated in the air next to me. Short, light green hair drifted in a non-existent breeze while her bright emerald eyes stared straight into my own. She smiled and shifted her body as if she was leaning on the ground, elbows knelt and propping up her head with her hands.
“…Hello,” I said.
The girl stared at me for a little bit and then said, “You’re weird. Did you know that?”
I thought about her words and then said, “And you must be Yggdrasil?”
The girl shook her head. “Iggy.”
The girl pouted and said, “My name is Iggy. Yggdrasil is too long and boooring.”
“…Sure, Iggy.” So the spirit of Yggdrasil was a young child. That meant that the World Tree wasn’t that old yet in terms of its general lifespan.
A splitting headache and another flash of a memory. A young girl’s sobs and pained screams.
I flinched, but managed to keep my expression neutral.
Yggdrasil… or rather, Iggy, tilted her head and said, “So whatcha doing, Mister Weird?”
I turned my gaze back to the thread of Anti-magic in my hands and said, “I’m making sure your heart is safe.”
I nodded. “Bad people are going to come here soon to try and steal what you keep in your heart.”
Iggy gasped. “They can’t!”
I looped my thread of Anti-magic through the pattern of mana, carefully forging a circuit, and then said, “They can. And they will… if I don’t set this up.”
Iggy drifted closer, moving near the thread of Anti-magic.
I frowned and said, “Could you not do that?”
“…But it’s weird,” Iggy said. “It feels really tingly.”
I spiraled a thread of chaos mana around the Anti-magic and said, “I don’t doubt it. Chaos mana and Anti-magic would definitely feel strange to you.” Well, more like lethal. I didn’t say that though.
Iggy nodded and remained quiet, content to watch me work.
I took advantage of the silence and completed a few circuits. An Anti-magic barrier to trigger when the defensive barriers fell. A Chaos barrier to reinforce the existing mana barriers. Anti-magic fail-safes, chaotic reinforcement… if anyone thought they could break the spells by short-circuiting them with chaos magic or Anti-magic they would be in for a surprise.
Perhaps realizing that I was finished with the delicate work, Iggy said, “Hey, Mister Weird.”
“What is it?”
I sighed and said, “What is it, Iggy?”
“Why is your soul split up into a bunch of pieces?”
I froze and slowly turned towards her. “…What are you talking about?”
Iggy leaned back, changing her position to sit cross-legged, and then held out her hands, palms raised. “This is what a normal soul looks like.”
A white orb appeared above her hands, radiating a powerful light.
“Sometimes, people have different attributes so the color changes.”
After saying that, the orb in Iggy’s hands changed its hue, shifting from green to red to blue.
“But Mister,” Iggy said. “Yours looks like this.”
The orb turned back to white and then shattered . Bits and pieces drifted in the air like splinters of glass caught in orbit. The white light vanished, broken up into its individual waves. The orbs still glowed, but it was a kaleidoscope. All the colors making up white were still present, but they had been scattered into separate parts, now distinct from the whole. But more worrying than that, peering in the depths of the orb there were hollow parts, black areas where light didn’t shine.
It was wrong.
Impossible. A soul should not be like that. Could not be like that. And definitely not my soul, not with my ability.
Iggy nodded. “I know! And look, the inside’s all empty.” The young girl made another light and shone in through the center. The black areas instantly lit up, showing that they were empty space rather than bits of darkness.
A chill crept up my spine. The implication of that…
Iggy clapped her hands together, making the orbs disappear, and then turned to face me. “So, Mister Weird. What are you?”
“Curses, girl! Use your wind magic properly!”
“You think I’m not trying?!”
Saphira roared and breathed crimson lightning at a crowd of shadowy figures.
After escaping from the house, Saphira turned into her dragon form and tossed both Aria and Titania on her back before flying into the air.
In response to that, the shadowy figure had summoned a small army of similar shadowy beings, although with different forms and statures.
Saphira’s breath attack vaporized half of the shadowy beings, but the other half continued to fly through the air, racing towards the girls.
Aria lifted her left hand and said, “Spirits of Wind! Fall and become my shield! Dark Tempest!”
True to the spell’s name, a vortex of dark wind swirled around Saphira, buying the trio a momentary breather.
“Elf!” Saphira said.
Titania flinched, snapped from her daze at the sudden events. “What is it?”
“Where is my Master?”
“Of for the love of-“ Aria cursed and said, “Lord Nazin, Tani! Where’s Lord Nazin?”
“Oh! Lord Nazin went to meet with father half an hour ago!”
Aria grimaced, feeling the strain from maintaining her spell. “When do you think he’ll be back?”
“Any moment now?”
“I don’t know, alright!? He left me behind without telling me anything!”
“Useless! Even the girl does better!”
Aria groaned. “Stop arguing and get ready! I can’t hold this any longer!”
At that time, a distorted voice echoed. “ Dark wind, twist and die… ”
“Girl! Let go of your spell!”
Aria quickly did as she was told and relinquished her grasp on the dark tempest. The moment she did, that voice continued.
“ …Cruel Gale’s Demise .”
The tempest screeched and then shattered, as if an invisible creature ripped it apart.
When the wind died, the shadowy beings reemerged. The difference was that the numbers had more than doubled the original count, almost blanketing out the blue sky.
Aria panted, exhausted from forcibly terminating her spell. “Any… bright ideas… lizard?”
“Only one, girl. But I can scarcely believe that they will provide an opportunity.”
Aria turned her gaze back towards the army of shadow beings.
The original figure still floated in the air near their ruined home. Perhaps it felt that the army of shadow beings was enough, or perhaps it had lost all sense of self-preservation after its powerful attack, it remained there unmoving.
Not that it helped their situation anymore knowing that. Even if the original shadowy figure didn’t move, the army of shadow beings surrounding them was more than enough.
Aria felt a hand placed on her shoulder. Her eyes widened and she glanced back to see Titania standing. “Tani?”
The eldest princess of Alvheim smiled and said, “Allow me.”
Aria shook her head. “No, Tani. You can’t-“
Before she could say anything else, Titania leapt through the air.
“Oh spirits of wind, lend me your strength and be my wings. Flight!”
Titania’s falling body slowed and then rose back up. At the same time, she held out her right and left hands holding the hilts of swords that didn’t yet exist. “Oh spirits of ice, lend me your strength and be my blades. Frost Edge!”
Titania’s empty hands were filled, and she armed herself with a matching pair of light blue long swords.
“Argh! Stupid Tani!” Aria jumped off Saphira as well and raced after Titania. “You’d better work fast, Fi! If Tani dies because of this, I’m going to tell Nowun!”
“H-Hmph. Needless worries!”