Lucifer loved the starry sky as his roof and the ground as his throne. In fact, the area he deemed peaceful and scenic could not be touched by his undead subjects at all. After all, him being an Undead Seraphim gave him the ability to nullify the rotting of nature present in every undead, so, with a few scenic spots left intact, the rest of the planet he occupied would soon turn barren and dusty. Many pits are dug to hide the lower-ranked undeads and special forms of higher-ranked undeads that still couldn't resist sunlight while Lucifer would just spend his days doing nothing but gazing at the sky.
Almost three days, according to his time, had passed since his connection with the true clone, due to the war plane, was severed. He didn't panic, after all, the true clone was simply 3% of his soul and power. Even if somehow, by some form of miracle, Kaal's current incarnation emerges victorious, his essence would return. After all, being his true clone, the clone would carry the same grudge and emotion which can only be satiated by a battle that determined the life and death of the opponent and with little to no chance of betrayal from the clone himself, Lucifer continued to meditate. That's the only thing he could do to pass his time. He had lost his sense of taste, touch, and even pain after becoming an undead. A godsend gift to someone but the likes of Lucifer who had no choice left could only become an undead seraphim.
At this moment, Lucifer's eyes snapped open while his wings unfurled. Instantly, he shot into the sky, the booms echoed in his trails as his speed surpassed the reaches of sound and finally, without even losing a single feather on his wings as he spread them wide to come to a sudden stop once exiting the entirety of the atmosphere of the planet he had invaded almost a month back, Lucifer, in his casual clothes that failed to stop the frost from reaching up to the fabric, looked at the tiny white thread floating without moving at all.
"Lucifer... it's been a long time."
A mature, impassionate voice stretched into the void. Instead of breaking the laws of physics, the voice didn't travel through space but the light connection formed from ethereal energy that did not need any form of matter to pass through. It simply existed. Hearing the voice, Lucifer gulped for a second. He wished to kill supreme seraphim, he didn't care for one of the most infamous Rank 9 hosts Death's reputation and showed off his spunk. But the man on the other side of the thread scared him. Infamy the man had gathered very little but those who knew his past, his convictions, and his objectives... would definitely decide to stay away from him. Lucifer included. The three infernals included.
"Stop it... that title brings memories complicated enough that I am unable to completely process even now. Sometimes... I wish I had taken the path of indifference... don't you agree?"
"A- Adapt... it has truly been a long time."
"I am asked a favor... let Nik grow. Stop pursuing him directly or indirectly. It's either that, or me changing my target and setting a 'beneficial' experience for you... and still full of emotion despite your current status, I am sure, the Vengeful Zombie Bloodline of yours would not enjoy taking revenge on an opponent lower in status and power when compared to you."
"Nik..." Not having the literal mental capacity to understand how the ant could acquaintance with Adapt, Lucifer decided to ponder later while refuting with a scoff, "That's why I sent a Rank 1 true clone."
"Considering that Nik lives... and is standing in front of me, I'd say that your clone failed. Now, I am not unaware of methods to force your opponents... what I am requesting you is to not copy your father when driven into desperation."
Stopping for a moment, Lucifer finally snarled, "Even if you are protecting him... hehe, why even bother putting a pretense. You can't protect anyone, right? That's why you 'adapt.' A ghost that is driven by vengeance. A monster of past that is no different from me!"
The tiny white thread instantly enlarged into a gigantic serpent, white-scaled, as it coiled around Lucifer, instantly restricting him as the icy blue eyes of the serpent matched Lucifer's while it hissed, the voice physical in transference and finally bending the law of physics as Lucifer gritted his teeth, his orifices leaking with pale blue blood. "Is that it!" The undead's voice rumbled as his blood flowed in the beautiful, empty space. "I am never going to let go of Kaal! Don't you get it! You should, right! He is the one that caused me to adopt the Vengeful Zombie Bloodline! He is the one who set a target on his head of his own volition... everything... it's his fault, everything!" Lucifer's voice soon crackled into a mournful chuckle, "We all played into his palms back then. Who's to say Nik wouldn't be the same?"
"I didn't care about Kaal back then, and I don't care about Nik now. Our paths are never meant to collide... Supreme killed her with without any intervention from the third party," Taking a deep breath, Adapt whispered as the snake loosened its constriction, "I am asking you to stop hunting Nik for now. For all you may know, this is yet another one of the ploys Kaal might have employed... after all, that demon was far more adept in learning of future than to live in past like ordinary time benders.
"What about my clone?" Lucifer inquired, a little gloomy as he considered the possibility, "Why haven't I received the essence of my clone yet?"
For a moment, the voice turned silent. After a short bout of silence in the space, Adapt's voice echoed, "He says that your true clone is kept a hostage in... a spatial dimension."
"Let me speak to him... please," Lucifer whispered, reigning in his annoyance.
At his request, the other side went silent once again before a little more cheerful voice greeted Lucifer's mind.
"Yo! I hope you don't mind me bringing in a fair judge. What's the score, you ask? 1-1 for the moment." As Lucifer heard Nik's voice, he bit his bloodied lips, "Rank 8, Nik. I can't divine you now... but, I am capable to follow a few leads. I'll find you when you reach rank 8... till then, I'll keep an eye on your homeworld and you'll keep my clone as your hostage."
What Lucifer didn't expect Nik to do was chuckle in response. A little derisive in tone as the L.u.s.t Apostle continued, "Homeworld? Give me a break. I can't care for some mortals!" Without giving Lucifer any chance to speak, Nik continued, "Go ahead! Invade it or destroy it, I don't care. The fact is, now, you won't touch me. In return, I'll give you my word that I won't turn your clone's gender and f.u.c.k her brains out!" Jarred by the glee hidden within his voice, Lucifer growled, "Bastard!"
"You can call me a son of a bitch, too, if that makes you feel cool. You know I am more than willing to commit to my promise if that keeps me safe. So, the next time we'll meet is when I reach Rank 8, cool?"
"That was an awfully awkward thing to state in front of the true body of the clone you were commenting upon," Adapt stated as Nik's gaze was far too attracted by the beautiful and elegant serpent that disappeared into Adapt's body. Instead of answering Adapt, Nik inquired with a confused expression, "What I asked from you was to help me connect with Lucifer, not speak up for me and threaten him. Why did you do that?"
Looking back, Adapt gazed at the suppressed succubus, just like others, who wished to come close to Nik and Adapt. "You don't have enough defenses to hide you Chaos Soul and another soul incubating within your spiritual world. Neither you have enough strength to resist the deviancy of your ancestors. What I am willing to do and my motives will become clear once you understand... what Supreme Seraphim is, and how he is connected to all of us. You, me, Kaal, infernals, and, paradises... even the other brat there," gesturing towards Ray, Adapt continued, "We all are connected. Not the way you think, like some stupid threads of fate... that thread is the easiest to cut."
Taking a deep breath, Adapt disappeared, leaving his voice behind, "I have a favor to ask of you, too. Take care of them... everyone. I lied when I said that the path if indifference is better. I am still sour, but you aren't. Just... make sure, you don't screw with Supreme, now."
As he disappeared, Nik pursed his lips. He had been wanting to ask for Adapt to remove the restriction in his body by Khooni but the man faded out without even giving Nik any chance to try and persuade him again.
"Sky... what do you think of him..." Nik inquired as he heard Sky sigh in annoyance, "Him? He is that annoying relative who will give you advice on everything... but, the truly infuriating part is that he is mostly correct."
"You know him?" Nik then recalled Adapt's familiarity with Kaal and Lucifer, making him realize that it isn't far-fetched that Sky might know of him. "Of course," she whispered, "Let's not talk about him... he still gives me the creep. I mean, why else would a Rank 9 dress as a salesman if not screwed in his head?"
"I don't know..." Nik muttered while walking towards Ray, "He seemed genuinely... caring. Maybe he is my secret angel? Taking care of me from shadows like the coolest guardian ever..."
"Get off your high horses. A favor will be repaid, remember that. The longer it takes for Adapt to ask you, the greater the importance of the task and the following risk." Flushing Nik's hope, Sky commented with a snicker.
"Hey," giving a hand to the kneeling and the sweat-soaked Ray, Nik smiled, "You've seen better days... feeling ok?"
At his inquiry, Ray took a deep breath and shakily gripped Nik's hand, trying to stand up slowly while his loud, ragged breathing continued to ring, just like other steel-balled hosts around Nik and Ray. "W-what the f.u.c.k was that?" Ray gasped, a drop of sweat sliding down his nose and stopping over the tip of his nose. Rubbing his face with the other hand, Ray waited for Nik's reply since he was the only one able to stand straight and with quite a smug smile if Ray may add.
"A form of pressure... from what I can understand. Anyway, I don't think... I want to take part in the auction further. Brian isn't here, too... do you have some more stuff to sell?"
Nik inquired as he slowly guided Ray out of the crowd. After a few moments, when Ray finally gained strength, he straightened his back and took his hand, "Thanks... for earlier," he buzzed, "And, no. I thought the auction would be more fun... but it isn't."
"Maybe we haven't gotten to their level to feel the fun," Nik shrugged, "After this... we'll probably meet each other in the world we travel. So, stay safe until we meet. Maybe the reincarnation hearts have a chat function... hopefully."
"Yeah..." Ray muttered, "Anyway, we'll meet later. I am out of this place."
Apparently, the understanding of truly not being able to avoid pain in this place, as promised previously, Ray had finally lost all of his interest and pressed his index over the empty area in front of him, disappearing shortly, followed by Nik. Seeing all this, a certain black-haired man sitting in the first row only stared at the spot for a few moments.
"We are sent back to our room, huh..." Nik looked at his room and sighed loudly, "We couldn't achieve our objective of becoming a Grandmaster in Elements..."
"But we earned a lot more than expected. The [Profession] and the [Idle Summoner] legacy would help a lot... I know of Idle Summoner. In fact, this was Adapt's golden finger back in the day. Of course, I wasn't born and don't know what kind of dispute the man had with the Supreme Seraphim, but the word is that he is 'family.'"
"Well, I figured this much by hearing Lucifer's and Adapt's chat. Well, should we just utilize the remaining skill points and finally digest the other benefits?" Nik inquired rhetorically as he found that removing himself from the auction far earlier than he had planned previously gave him more than 24 hours of time. "We have achieved the goal of stopping Lucifer from pursuing my ass and making good use of unusable treasure. Now, all we need to do is use the remaining stat points... heck, I'll just put all of it in my energy stat since the other stats can be strengthened using my skills."
"Then, you should absorb the profession and once you also digest the legacy, only then you should absorb the Reincarnation Heart since the absorption of another system would probably remove you from Paradise altogether." Sky suggested, "And don't forget to empty your inventory into Dream Core... keep the remaining empty wrappers in the inventory though..."
"Damn, Sky, you sure like to worry about everything. You sure Kaal didn't really fall for you?"
"He was an asshole," Sky grumbled, "We'll see about you though."
Smiling happily, Nik began his final upgrade in the paradise.