Eich's fundamental units were the four elements of wind, fire, water, and earth, not molecules and atoms like my previous world. It was obvious that this world wasn't a scientific one.
But some things remained the same. Intelligent species liked to research the foundational nature and workings of the worldthis was common to all intelligent species, no matter how different they were. If science on Earth could be called humanity's search for knowledge about Earth and nature, then magic was how mages searched for knowledge about Eich's workings and reason.
Since the four elements were the basic units that made up this world, no matter how advanced magic civilization was, everything was forever based on elemental magic. This was just like how the technology in my previous world had advanced to the extent of traveling to the moon while physics had reached the particle level. It just so happened that these two fields' theories and research results even complemented each other, helping both to progress. The most famous one among them would be the Theory of Relativity. It laid the foundation for how humans understood space and gravity and even allowed them to explore space. Much of this originated from the analysis of the fundamental particles that made up the universe.
The seekers of truth in this world were the same. They would dare to hypothesize and carefully search for proof while gradually analyzing the nature of the world of Eich. This was the only thing that all mages had in common. Sometimes, the understanding of something minute, which seemed only a useless theory, might actually be the mainspring of a huge leap forward in technology or magic.
Perhaps nobody would expect that in this sudden battle that had ended so quickly, the person who benefited the greatest wasn't actually Roland who was currently taking a bath in dragon's blood, nor was it the Goddess of Wealth, who was both in pain and delight as her believers and faith had greatly increased with the expansion of Wealth Points yet her divine soul had suffered from her incarnation's self-destruction. Instead, the greatest beneficiary was actually someone on the losing side of that battle: Zero.
In the core of the Ice Plane, there was a place tucked within numerous snowy mountains which went by the name of Amber Palace in the undead Tark Republic's language.
This ancient palace of snow and ice was decorated in a "historical" style. Unlike Aso who was born a slave, Zero was from a later generation, one where the Tark Republic was at its peak. All the decorations and spacing had clear geometrical patterns, while divine beasts were etched onto the door's knockers. A school of ice fish frolicked in the crystal waves of an icy river, seeming almost alive. These were all remnants from that ancient generation.
In a flower garden, ice maids were unhurriedly moving about, serving guests similarly made of ice. Musicians were giving performances. The normal sounds of activity and music made it seem that everything was still going on as normal in the Amber Palace. But in the empty main hall of this palace forgotten to history, there was a lonely throne, upon which the palace's master was hibernating. Her long, ceremonial clothing reached all the way to the steps.
Zero was currently in a deep sleep. The only thing different from her projection's appearance was that there was a tiny golden crown resting on her head.
However, she seemed to be not doing so well right now. The left side of her physical body was emanating chilling mist and frost, while the right half of her body was on fire. Running down her middle was an invisible line that seemed to separate her into two halves that didn't affect each other.
This ancient Undead Emperor slept here as she always did for the past several thousand years. Only now, one side of her throne was filled with icicles, while the other half was beginning to melt, a sign certain changes were occurring.
In this world, the concept of time was meaninglessit practically stood still. It was only after an unknown length of time that a light sigh sounded in the empty hall, amid the forever gray skies and the perpetual snow and ice.
"As expected, there's only that possibility I never expected that a junior would end up teaching me a lesson Is this one of the fundamental natural laws of the world?"
She was asking herself, and there was no need for her to answer out loud. At Zero's level, her knowledge alone was capable of changing her world.
"Energy is always conserved equally?"
For the master of the Ice Plane, words were power, and her understanding was reality. The moment she spoke, the entire plane lit up in a brilliant, golden light, the source of which was her throne. Everywhere the light touched was changed.
Observation meant the confirmation of existence. Under the Undead Emperor's observation, her entire plane was changed, as if an invisible brush was applying color to her world.
The snow-white castle walls of ice were colored with gray, as if they had now experienced the passing eons of history. The ice maids that appeared like dolls now had colors like the living. Apart from their still crystal clear eyes, it was impossible to tell them apart from the living.
The ice flowers in the garden were colored with the colors of the rainbow, while the ice fish jumping in the waves finally dived back into the water. The wheels of time that had stopped for several thousand years in the Ice Plane finally started turning again.
Around the Amber Palace, the snow mountains transformed into green mountains, while the frozen earth had now returned to the earth's natural brown color. This frozen amber transformed into a gem amongst the mountains.
"Is this the feeling of breathing? This is a heartbeat?"
The greatest change was in Zero herself. Her clear skin now had the natural color of white skin while red blood flowed underneath. Her ethereal ceremonial clothing transformed into true silk.
Her heartbeat that had stopped for tens of thousands of years had revived. Emotions of delight and nervousness suffused her blood. This mysterious change happened to Zero as her accumulated experience was added on to by knowledge she had gained from another world, as if she was a stone that had achieved enlightenment. Perhaps Zero was still an Undead Emperor, but the current her was no longer living or undead. She was no longer the same as her past self.
"Zero? No, from today onwards, my new name shall be 'Conservation.'"
Only the similarly ancient Senators of the Tark Republic knew that it was "Zero's" personal habit to use her greatest field of achievement as her name, abandoning her original name to history.
"Ice River," "Snow Stream," "Hibernation Freeze," "Under the Ice" and "Zero" were the five previous names of Zero, each representing a stage of her power. And "Zero" was the name she had used by far the longest. And today, she had changed her name yet again.
But the incomprehensible part was that the scene of her left half being icy and the right half burning up remained. Her soft skin had a clear line drawn down the middle, with the skin on her left white and clear, and the skin on the right bright red. Her hair on the left was a shade of silvery white, while her hair on the right was a shade of scarlet, akin to a burning fire. At her power level, it would be quite easy for her to change her physical appearance as she pleased, but she decided to maintain this unique characteristic.
"This I'll save this as a reminder, a memory."
But suddenly, Conservation pausedshe had a thought that interrupted her delight. She recalled the astral projection that she had lost, which was most likely being analyzed by Roland at the moment. If she was capable of obtaining this much information from him which greatly improved her own understanding and power level, then it was also completely possible for Roland to completely analyze her astral projection and obtain similar information.
"I doubt it's possible it's only an astral projection. Without a deep understanding of the concept of heat, it won't be possible"
But against all her expectations, in another small world, a similar brush was adding color. White seas of ice were being painted blue, while the pale sunlight was now turning a shade of scarlet. The wolves roaming around the plains were now a grassy green.
As Roland's physical body sunk into a deep slumber, his will descended upon his world as he changed it as he pleased.
And the vessel which acted as the host for his will was Conservation's lost astral projection, who was currently working hard at adding color to Frigidwinter Earth.
"No wonder this evolution was ranked higher than the dragon's blood evolution. This time, I've truly picked up an excellent treasure. I obtained the key that I had lacked the most."
From a certain standpoint, undead mages and mages didn't have any foundational differences. Unlike warlocks who were able to use magic from birth due to their bloodlines, undead mages and mages were all scholars who pursued the truth and were skilled at transforming knowledge and theory into actual power.
If you had to look for differences, it would mostly be that undead mages typically had very few moral limits. Not only would undead mages not hesitate to break normal taboos, they did not fear danger. More importantly, undead mages typically researched the area of "life" itself.
"How do body parts work? Why is it that without this organ, a person can't move? What if I add this partwill he be able to move again? Also just what exactly is a soul!?"
As for the details, since time was limited while knowledge was limitless, the undead mages' research naturally created many different research factionsthis was similar to how researching a subject to a certain extent would turn into researching about a specific area in that subject.
There was no research that was considered superior or inferior, just as how those who researched top-level technologies in my original world didn't actually make much more money than a top-level physicist. Undead mages who focused on researching Undead Calamity and other forbidden spells might not even be able to defeat a flesh and blood living alchemist who specialized in creating Abominations. If there had to be a way of seeing who was superior, then you could only measure them by how far each person had gone down their respective paths, which was why there were ranked power levels like Myth and SemiGod.
Since undead mages were mages as well, they, too, had to reach the rank of SemiGod by walking down the same path of ordinary mages in producing research results. If one hoped to bring about research results as an undead mage, one would need to become a top-level expert in their field.
Perhaps due to the mortal plane's own unfriendliness towards undead, it was more difficult for the undead to advance in power level than any other species. A normal SemiGod mage's equivalent would be a Myth-ranked undead, as Myth-ranked undead were already the foremost experts in their research fields. As for the SemiGod Undead Emperors, they weren't as simple as existences who were merely the foremost experts in their field. It could even be said that they created domains where only they reigned supreme, possessing power over some unclaimed concept which nobody else possessed. This was how they reached the level of being existences that the mortal plane wouldn't recognize, yet they still existed as enemies of the mortal plane.
This was also why even though Undead Emperors were only SemiGod in power level, but still obtained the same exiled status as the other Evil Gods and Gods from other dimensional planes. From a certain standpoint, the Undead Emperors had indeed walked down too far in a taboo field, dangerously touching the brink.
No matter how far an Undead Emperor traveled down their path, it all started with a basic research question. My basic research question could be considered "The quality of the soul," while the secrets I obtained from that astral projection told me that "Zero's" research question was "the temperature of life."
"Why is the weight of the soul 21 grams?"
"Why is it that the great majority of mammalian lifeforms and birds have a constant, set body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius?"
From a certain standpoint, these two questions were rather similar. They both appeared quite simple and it appeared easy to answer. But if you really tried to answer them and chased the reason down to the very foundation, you would touch on the innermost secrets of this world: the very essence of a soul, and the secrets of life.
Yep, from the very start, undead mages that researched topics like corpse zombie construction or Ice Dragon strengthening were all idiots attracted by the illusion of power but went down the wrong path. When taking the four elements to the extreme, it would return to the basic foundations of what the elements were, which was why the Frigid Nightmares' foundational magic and simple yet powerful forbidden spells existed. Undead magic started out from researching the living and the dead, and the final, highest-level topics of all would be the same as the very beginning source: souls and life.
The reason I was able to achieve so much in my knowledge about souls, apart from my own stubbornness and knowledge gained from two separate worlds, was that my soul refused to enter the Cycle of Reincarnation like everyone else. No normal path would carry one to the level of an unstoppable Undead Emperor. Apart from 99% hard work, 1% talent was absolutely required.
Although it sounded rather depressing, Undead Emperors were at a realm no normal path would lead to, and it was impossible for anyone to achieve it no matter how hard they worked, unless they were an ultra-rare genius among geniuses.
For instance, if it wasn't for the fact that I had experience tempering my soul in the Cycle of Reincarnation, personally witnessing the nature of souls in the Cycle, personally singing and showering in the River Styx, and repeatedly patching up my injured soul, it wouldn't have been possible for me to reach the level of an Undead Emperor.
As long as there was enough population, and the environment was suitable enough to foster a genius, these 0.00000001% of geniuses perhaps I should call them heaven-favored geniuses or miracle talentswould end up appearing. Not only did they need talent, they would also need to temper their talent to the very utmost, to the point where their talent separated them from everyone else. Once-in-a-lifetime luck as well as working hard for centuries were both necessaries, so of course there were incredibly few that could become Undead Emperors. The fact that "no normal path" could be taken meant that this path was far too difficult. Theoretically speaking, no Undead Emperor was younger than two thousand years old
Exceptions? You're mentioning how I reached this level despite being only three hundred something years old? In a way, I had my System to thank for this. Without her assistance and the cheat-like level of growth, I couldn't possibly have accumulated so much in this comparatively short period of time. Also, my largest cheat of all was that I had knowledge from two completely different worlds. In any field of research, looking at things from a different angle might end up with a completely different result, and coming up with revolutionary ways of thinking was the most difficult. Many geniuses with an extraordinary amount of talent were stuck in some area where they lacked insight and realization I definitely wasn't referring to the silly cat, as her problem was far different from most Myth-ranked undead.
Coughcoughgetting back on topic, from a certain standpoint, "Zero" was doubtlessly one such incredibly rare genius among geniuses. She must have spent countless years to reach her current level, and her age Fine, just as how I decided not to pursue Harloys and Little Red's real ages, I decided to be a gentleman and not think about how her age would be calculated in the tens of thousands of years as the basic unit . Yep, it definitely wasn't because I was worried that if I thought too much about this topic, my thoughts would be leaked to her through our soul connection, causing that silly cat to bite my head. Nor was it because recently I was so poor that I needed the silly cat's charity so that I wouldn't starve A pet cat like her actually had a secret gold hoard stashed away! Can you believe it!?
Cough, once again, trying to get on topic, "Zero" was a ghost, and her natural talent ability was to rob any living she touched of their heat. This wasn't a rare talent at all, nor was she a special high-ranked undead. Ghosts were limited in both growth potential and combat strength. But, what was slightly different about her was that she was incredibly sensitive to heat stealing. While other ghosts simply robbed as much heat as they could upon contact, she was able to finely determine just how much heat she robbed down to the very specific units, giving her the ability to play all sorts of tricks based on precise calculations.
Perhaps this talent of hers wasn't much practical use in combat, but her precise control over energy vastly helped her in the area of negative energy research, allowing her to reach the peak. And what truly helped her enter the "nearly unreachable" status of an Undead Emperor were her research results in the topic of "The effect of energy on the living."
Her natural talent made it easy for her to discern every change in energy. She was capable of observing the changes to a living individual with great precisionthe slightest modification in temperature would not be missed. In fact, one of her research fieldsunique to her alonewas "negative energy temperature" undead creatures, which were capable of producing negative energy fields. With her unique talent, she needed only a single glance to determine a living being or undead's power level. Her negative energy research was top-level amongst all the Undead Emperors, and her undead armies constituted a true perpetual motion machine and source of negative energy, making them fearsome existences in any battle of attrition.
Ever since she had started viewing energy as one of the sources of life for living creatures, she had gained the ability to send out incarnations of self with a portion of her power. The truly frightening part about Zero was her perfect control over energy.
However, that was where she had reached her limit. She only knew the effects of energy on living creatures and the undead, but she was unable to comprehend the effect of energy on this entire world. This wasn't because she was foolish or overly traditional. It was because undead mages forever focused only on souls and the living and were uninterested in the mechanical or the environment. And if you abandoned researching about energy in other areas, how would you possibly be able to obtain the overarching truth about energy? It just so happened that this magical world's research results arrived from "I saw it, so it existed"obviously, such an attitude made obtaining the truth incredibly difficult.
Perhaps someone taught it to her in the past, or perhaps she obtained esoteric knowledge from some texts. However, any Undead Emperor would have an understanding of the world similar to how it really worked. Undead Emperors were even capable of sending out incarnations to influence the mortal plane, so modifying their own world was even easier.
Yet an existence at a level equal to hers had used a real world of his own and an inexplicable method beyond her understanding, giving her a vicious slap in the face. One that had woken her up.
"So energy is always conserved. Energy can be transmitted from the sun and moon to trees and plants, and from trees and plants to humans, and from humans' corpses back to nature. Perhaps our world isn't isolated after all. Negative energy can be transmitted as well. Perhaps the very end of the negative energy which powers all undead is the positive energy that powers all life."
Once she updated her own concept of the world, her world finally progressed. The transference of negative and positive energy broke the boundaries between life and death. Fortunately, the Undead Emperor was the highest level achievable by any undead. Otherwise, a brand new title and level might be needed just for her.
From a certain standpoint, this was a research result she had obtained together with Roland. This was the combined crystallized wisdom of two Undead Emperors. While Zero evolved into "Conservation" because of this, Roland, too, obtained part of her research results from her astral projection and, in fact, ended up benefiting much more than her by adding on to his theories through another method.
Originally, Roland should have been incapable of analyzing Zero's astral projection. However, Aso just happened to give him large amounts of undead knowledge as a parting gift. While Aso's knowledge might not necessarily be at a higher level than Roland's, and his esoteric, top-level knowledge wasn't given to Roland, Roland had still obtained the Tark Republic's standard teaching materials and common research theories. Zero herself had also used these theories to gradually increase in power. With all of this, it was as if Roland possessed a key to open the gate to successfully analyze this astral projection.
"I've already reconstructed the energy cycle of my world. This isn't Earth where only positive energy exists. A cycle of negative energy is one of the main reasons behind the existence of souls, and one of the truly most amazing things about a magical world. Zero's eyes are wonderful! Everything I see may not be the truth, and I was limited by past beliefs. This isn't the purely physical world that I was from in the past. This is a world that's constructed of both the physical and the mental. While Zero was restricted by this world's way of thinking, I, too, was limited by my so-called scientific knowledge that I had valued so much."
At this moment, the shattered "Crown of Undead" Soul Imprint had reformed. But unlike the now completely fixed Ice Treader Soul Imprint, the undead magic Soul Imprint was the crystallized wisdom of three Undead Emperors; in fact, it represented an entirely new path. A path more difficult than before was now before Roland.
It was a face, a male face, split down the middle. One side was made of skeletal bones, while the other was a living person. The skeleton was smiling, while the living half was crying. He had broken the boundaries of life and death, gazing into the depths of the true nature of souls. He was
"Since he understands the Cycle of Reincarnation, the role of Judge of the Dead is the most suitable for him. Then, let's name him 'Judge of the River Styx.'"
There were no simple individuals among the Undead Emperors. While Zero had obtained much from Roland and had progressed down her path, the victor of their battle, Roland, had gained even more. It was only his power level that was limiting himhe was unable to completely display what he had obtained.
Yet some benefits could now be noticed.
When Roland had broken through, he had been greeted with a System Notification.
[Congratulations for successfully fixing the Crown of Undead Soul Imprint. You have now awakened your SemiGod Racial Talent, 'Stare of the Hell God'! System Reminder: This natural talent is dangerous. Very, very dangerous. Please use it carefully. Additional System Reminder: This racial talent can be further evolved. And please, take extra caution when using it.]
Release (2/4) for today.