The New World Chapter 242


Chapter 242

After hours of crawling through magma, I reached Elderfire. Coming up through sandstone and dunes, I pulled myself up a few miles outside the town. Brushing off chunks of solidified igneous rocks, I ran towards the center of the city.

I found most of the gialgathens being taken care of in the wisp laden pools. The gialgathen shamans leveraged off the artificial life I created here, creating a natural zone of healing and stasis. They already saved hundreds of lives. Besides for them, Kessiah zoned in on her work.

The sheer consistency of her effort amazed me most. Sure, anyone can put out for a few days or even weeks. Months though? That took some serious grit, and Kessiah was showing that in spades. If anything, she deserved a reward for it.

I put that on my growing mental checklist of stuff to do. Having sent a message to Torix letting him know I'm fine, I reached the temple where the lich laired himself. If that wasn't a word, I'm coining it expressly for Torix since he did it so often.

Walking into said lair, I found him talking with the Overseer. They discussed along heated lines, Torix brandishing his hands,

"I understand the need for surveillance, but to demand complete control of the projects? This is an abuse of Schema's power, and I will not stand for it."

The Overseer raised a hand, replying with a no-nonsense tone,

"It is not up for debate. Your eldritch studies have been proceeding without guidance for an extended period already. You are simply fortunate that further action hasn't been taken."

I stepped up, "What's the issue here?"

The Overseer turned towards me, and he took a step back,

"Ah, you have arrived."

Torix walked up to me, his frail bones clanking against the stone and threatening to snap with each step,

"Perhaps you may talk more sense into this belligerent. He's demanding the confiscation of our eldritch research. While I'm willing to make a compromise, demanding absolute control is absurd."

I turned to the Overseer, "You want to detain Amara or something like that?"

The Overseer stumbled his words a bit though he gained confidence as he continued,

"I...Schema is demanding the confiscation of the research due to the legalities involved. It's highly illegal, and your guild is fortunate that more action wasn't taken."

I spread out my arms, "I've adjusted the defenses as needed. The blue core I set up has billions of mana to stop any escaping eldritch. That much mana could evaporate just about anything. We have the situation under control."

The Overseer turned a palm to me, his electronic suit humming with energy, "This is a matter of legalities, not of compromise. You've been breaking the law, and action must be taken. Due to extraneous circumstances, we can bend the law for you and your guild. Your progress against the Adair Family has been noted."

He let his hand down, "However, this will not be allowed to continue."

I crossed my arms, "Look, I understand if you want to make sure our research projects are ethical and up to Schema's standards. I can't agree to give away portions of my guild for nothing, though. I'm stressed for resources as it is."

I raised a hand, "So how about this - you can send a few Speakers to help with the research. We get some competent scientists to help us out. You get to share in the research and make sure it's up to par. Does that sound good?"

I reached out a hand. The Overseer stared between my hand and me, "Hmm..."

Torix stared between us, "What? I just offered the same consideration, yet you utterly ignored my own proposition. This-"

The Overseer waved away Torix's concerns, "Let me consider this in silence."

I looked to Torix then back at the Overseer, glaring at him. I chose to remain silent for now. A few seconds later, the Overseer lifted his hand, "I will accept this compromise."

I narrowed my eyes while shaking his hand, "Sure. There's some other stuff I want to talk about real quick if you have the time." 

The Overseer turned to me,

"I will cancel two of my appointments. We have nine minutes remaining to discuss whatever it is you wish to speak of."

Wow. He made time for me. That was new.

I lifted a hand, "So, I wanted to ask for some help from Schema."

The Overseer opened his status, "Let me analyze our resources...We may offer support during key conflicts. You are fighting against the Adair Family, and Schema supports that. What would you need the most?"

I counted on my fingers, "We need mind mages, any troops you can give, as many healers as you can spare, and we need people that can transport people quickly."

The Overseer fiddled with his status for a bit, 

"We can do nothing for the mind mages. Other worlds are rebelling now, and Schema is utterly unprepared for the scale of the conflict regarding the mental assaults. The same can be said for generic combat forces. However-"

The Overseer sent a few messages. Torix read the posted messages before clapping his hands, "We will accept your generosity, oh powerful Overseer."

Even through his massive helmet, I could tell the Overseer rolled his eyes,

"Your flattery falls on deaf ears. I've given a task force of five healers and two portal specialists for you to utilize. While unable to create portals of vast distances, they are serviceable on a city-wide scale. Will that do?"

I raised a fist, "Honestly, it's a lot more than I expected. Thanks. I also wanted to warn you about Lehesion."

As I said those words, the Overseer stood up straighter. I continued,

"The thing is, he was holding back against us when we all fought together. I think Schema needs to come up with an actual plan to take him out. I'm willing to help out, and so is Helios."

The Overseer shook his head, 

"I fully understand the threat Lehesion poses, but Schema has this situation under control. If our research is correct, Lehesion's mana is tied to Giess. Schema is going to sterilize the surface of the planet, leaving nothing but glass remaining."

The Overseer pressed his fingers together as if crushing an insect,

"Lehesion will have no mana source, and the threat will be muted."

I shook my head, "That's not the only place he gets his mana from. At least I'm pretty sure, at least. Lehesion is connected to an Old One."

The Overseer took a step back, "They've made contracts with Baldowah?"

I shook my head, "No, it's probably Eonoth."

The Overseer tilted his head, "Eonoth? I've never heard of that Old One. This is...new. Are you certain it wasn't an illusion from Etorhma or Baldowah?"

I nodded, "Yeah, I'm sure. Eonoth talked to me. I tried to shut him out, but he was too big for me to handle. I came out sane, and during that discussion, I learned that Lehesion's connection to Giess is based on Eonoth's interference. Glassing Giess might not be enough if that's the case."

The Overseer raised a palm, "I've heard your concerns, but I assure you of this - spatial fortresses cannot be destroyed. They are immovable and unstoppable. They are Schema's strongest defense, and one is coming here to assist with the glassing. That is a deep nail in the coffin the Adair Family have found themselves in. Focus on your own problems, and we shall handle ours."

I weighed my hands back and forth, "Let's just think this out for a moment. What will Schema do if the glassing fails?"

"It will not fail."

This was starting to remind me of a few conversations I had with a Sentinel back in BloodHollow. I took a deep breath, "Well, just consider it hypothetically. If the glassing fails, that is going to put a lot of fire under this rebellion. More worlds are going to follow in the wake of an event like that."

I tapped the side of my head, "Think about it. The scale of this rebellion will explode since rebelling worlds won't have to worry about glassing anymore. It will be a calling card for the Adair Family. Tohtella's smart about this kind of thing, so she's definitely thought about this."

I waved my hands, "What can Schema do if he doesn't have that defense?"

The Overseer crossed his arms, "It is simple. Torix has run an effective media campaign that shows the extent of the Hybridization program. It has proven very effective at dissuading worlds from joining the rebellion."

Torix weighed his hands back and forth, "Unfortunately, Tohtella devised a relatively effective countermeasure. She is showing footage of Daniel tearing engineers apart and evaporating people in the dreadnoughts. They're painting him out as a mindless monster that is also a dog for Schema."

I turned to him, a bit peeved, "Really? What kind of response do people expect when you see that kind of shit?"

Torix lifted his palms to me, "I never mentioned agreeing with the message. While not carrying the same sting as our own campaign, it has leveled the playing field to an extent, so to speak."

Yeah, that made sense. Still a bit peeved, I turned to the Overseer, "Well, there you have it. We need to do more than what we're doing." 

The Overseer met my eye, "While I understand your lack of faith in a spatial fortress, you simply have never seen one in action. They. Are. Immovable."

I pointed behind me, "Here's the thing, so is Lehesion. I don't know if you watched our fight, but-"

The Overseer raised a palm, "I saw the footage Torix showed. I was impressed by you, not by Lehesion's abilities."

Just remembering the fight made my skin crawl a bit. It reminded me of facing Yawm so long ago. I was helpless, and I couldn't do a damn thing to stop him. Schema watched on the sidelines then, and he was watching on the sidelines now. I spread out my hands, my voice growing heated, 

"The guy toyed with me and with everything we've sent his way. He's been fucking around this entire time. You think that was his limit? Just sitting there and tanking antimatter waves with ease? The guy has the mana of a planet or maybe even more. We don't know. We haven't even tested that thing yet."

The Overseer glanced down while holding his face up in his hand. He took a deep breath before putting a hand on my shoulder,

"Daniel. Schema is not as limited as you seem to think. He has this situation under control. I can understand your fear. I can understand you worrying about your guild's future. I assure you, Schema will handle this. You are an asset now. Schema is not going to leave your guild to die like he did with Yawm. I have convinced him otherwise. This time will be different."

The Overseer hit the nail on the head. For once, it sounded like he was talking as himself instead of as the Overseer. I took a deep breath, realizing how worked up I was. A tense moment passed as I swallowed, calming myself down. This situation was similar to Yawm. I was just trying to do right by the system, yet I ended up facing some sleeping behemoth.

Unlike last time, I had a lot more to lose. A guild, yeah, but also my friends, mentor, and a kickass girlfriend. I know it wasn't as big or fancy as something like the empire, but what I had meant the world to me. The thought of losing it all because I tried doing the right thing...it made me want to crawl into a hole.

I got my composure back though, settling myself down,

"Yeah, I get it. Sorry about that. It's just a lot to take in. Lehesion could crush Mt. Verner in a second. That's scary."

The Overseer put his hand down, "I understand, and given your history against Yawm, trusting Schema is a lot to ask. However, I still ask it of you. Is there anything else you wish to discuss?"

I took a breath before thinking for a moment. I looked to the Overseer,

"Is there anyone that could help us with our campaign on Giess?"

The Overseer glanced up, "Hmm, not on such short notice, but perhaps overtime. I would recommend contacting the Golemnites and the Ahcorous."

I pursed my lips. The Overseer lifted a hand, interacting with his status. A picture of Wrath showed up along with some floating ball of energy,

"The Golemnites are a species of aetherial beings that manifest in physical objects. While a strange race with odd conventions, they are excellent at mind magic. They will prove useful given their incorporeal form as well. It is difficult to find better scouts or spies."

"They sound oddly familiar." I pointed at Wrath, "I'm pretty sure I've actually met her."

The Overseer looked over Wrath, "Ah, yes, Wrath. She is a prolific Fringe Walker. Most of the Ahcourous are, in fact. The queens are at least. They are a race of amorphous blobs operating on hydraulic, internal pressures. They form large, sprawling colonies, their members ravenous. They would do well in eradicating silvered territory, as they can eat metal."

Torix tilted his head, "You seem to have thought quite a bit about this. That isn't by chance, is it?"

The Overseer shrugged, "I considered them as options to assist Giess before the glassing was announced. Is this the kind of information you needed?"

"Yeah. Thanks."

The Overseer pressed his fingertips together before pulling them outwards. His suit buzzed as a tear in space-time rended open. He gave me a curt nod, 

"That is the limit of my time. Goodbye, Harbinger."

As he stepped out and the portal closed, I turned to Torix. Once gone, I pointed to where the Overseer was a second ago,

"Was it just me, or was he acting weird?"

Torix shrugged, "It is quite simple, really. The Overseer respects you more after viewing your last battle with Lehesion. You and he are equals in many respects now, despite the vast rift in levels. That is precisely why he ignored my own arguments and favored your own. It's the difference in what we've achieved."

I spread out my arms, 

"I just never imagined he'd be like that. I thought he'd listen to what you're saying rather than thinking about who is saying it. I mean shit, I'm strong, but you're obviously the better strategist. That strategic ability helps, and it's worth a lot."

Torix shook his head, 

"There is still much you have to learn, disciple. In Schema's universe, one's status is reflected by their ability to kill eldritch. This is Schema's primary directive, and he dispenses influence depending on that one parameter. You are far better at killing eldritch; therefore, the Overseer respects you more. Quaint, simplistic, and direct, yet that is how people are."

Torix shrugged, "Such is the life we live. Though, at times, I must hold my tongue, I will endure as long as we get what we need to accomplish our goals. I'd rather not let my pride halt our progress. That would simply add to my rather long list of regrets."

I scratched the side of my head, "Well, I still think it's bullshit, but I'll keep that in mind. Let's talk about something else. How much longer before the next battle?"

Torix held up four fingers, "It will require four days of planning. This is mostly due to waiting for those healers and warp specialists to arrive. I organized the actual assault weeks ago."

I spread out my arms, "So we have some extra time?"

"I would suppose so."

I rubbed my hands together, "Enough time to for the new body thing?"

Torix leaned back, surprised by what I said. After a bit of thought, he rolled his hands, "Perhaps. It would take three days at the absolute least."

I cupped my chin, "I'll be honest, I've been curious about the lich thing for a while. How does it work?"

Torix coughed into his hand despite being a skeleton, "Ahem, well, it's a...complicated process."

I raised an eyebrow, "Why do you sound so nervous to tell me about it?"

Torix sighed and took a deep breath, "The nature of the process is rather...how to put it...ruthless, perhaps?"

I rolled my eyes, "Well, I figured that much. It's necromancy, and I'm sure you've done some questionable stuff before we met. It's part of being hundreds of years old."

Torix grabbed the back of his neck, looking back and forth. He cast another silencing spell, covering us with it. He pointed at me, "This is not to leave the sanctums of your mind, understood?"

I sat down, suspending myself with a gravity well, "Of course."

Torix sat down on a blot of dark mana, "Then, perhaps it is time I share some of my past with you. It's about time for the passing of that knowledge."

Torix lifted his hand, creating an illusion. A red star with a planet circled around it. Torix pointed at the planet,

"I was born on Xanthar, a planet tidally locked. One side faces the sun at all times, the other peering out into the depths of space, shaded in perpetual darkness."

Torix gestured a palm, "This resulted in int two primary landmasses on the planet, one molten and the other frozen. Between these two existed a strip of arable land known as Arcadia. Large mountains kept the frigid blizzards and the heated storms from reaching us. In a way, it acted as the Elysium of the entire planet."

Torix stared off into the distance, traveling towards a distant place, "I was born there centuries ago. During that time, I was a member of the Anamor Clan. Any influential Iteran was of course-"

I said, "Iteran?"

"My species."

I lifted my head, "Ah, here I always thought you were pretty much human."

Torix stared down at himself, "Our races must have a similar structure. Odd." He peered up, "Now, as with most of our species, the Anamor Clan held many alliances, rivalries, and hostilities. During my younger years, I engrossed myself in this rivalry, my desire for combat fervent. In a way, I was much like you, though more magically inclined."

I raised my fists, "Hey if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Torix scoffed, "Perhaps. That point aside, I became curious about necromancy after my clan suffered severe losses to a rival order. They used dark magic that resulted in our forces being wiped out. During that time, I studied tactics and counter maneuvers to combat their abilities."

That must have been where Torix got all of his tactical nuances. I listened as he continued,

"No matter what I employed, we suffered severe losses. Despite the warnings from my family, I understood we would be wiped off our homeland should we continue fighting in that manner. I dived into the darker magics, my own nature well suited for it."

A bit of bitterness leaked into Torix's voice, 

"Perhaps too suited for it. I achieved many victories, fighting fire with fire, so to speak. At the same time, I came close to true death many times. That fear, it soaked into my very bones and marrow. It clouded my judgment, and it left me weak."

Torix continued with a bit of delight in his voice,

"In order to transcend death and surpass my physical limits, I devised a plan. I created a sacrificial ritual sight to become a lich. To do so, I needed a vast well of vitality and life, however. Fortunately for my aims, the rival faction served that purpose rather nicely."

His tone turned cold,

"And that is what I did. I culled our enemies while giving myself an everlasting life. My family did not see it as such. They feared me, and perhaps they were right to do so. That was a dark time in my life. After I was exiled, I turned towards experimentation as an outlet for my frustration."

Torix stared down, "I...I did things that are better left unspoken."

I winced a bit at the prospect. Torix pressed two fingers against his temple,

"I devised a lair on Xanthar's moon, my phylactery safe for all time. I tangled myself with many unsightly organizations, the least of which the necromancers. While I never did something on the scale of the Hybridization program, I...I might have given a chance."

He shook his head slowly,

"And...and I would like to think I've changed. No, I know I have, but I see that darkness well up to the surface at times. When I met you, I saw my younger self before I lay corrupted by my own resentment. There are times I fear you too shall fall to the same bitterness."

I remembered the hatred I felt for Schema when he left me against Yawm. Hell, that same feeling flared when I imagined Schema leaving us against Lehesion. It's enough to drive a guy mad if it happens enough.

Yeah, I could imagine being consumed by that kind of thing.

Torix continued,

"I hoped to help you with it, and I like to think I have in certain ways."

I stared at Torix, "You have."

"Thank you. This is why I never mention my homeworld, my family, or my past as a rule. It is nothing I'm proud of. I hope to redeem myself with what we've built."

"We will."

"I would like to believe so. As far as transferring the body is concerned, I would need a vast well of mana, an enormous overflow of life, and a safe spot for a new phylactery."

I pursed my lip, "Why not just use your old one?"

"It is located far away. We would need to travel there, and that would require warping towards Xanthar. Once there, traversing towards the moon and finding the exact position would take a measure of time as well. By then, we'd have lost too much time. It's quicker to simply craft another phylactery."

"So, finding a safe place is the problem?"

"Indeed. While I have faith in a blue core's abilities to defend, a phylactery on either Mt. Verner or Elderfire could be evaporated by Lehesion. My life would be forfeit then."

I frowned, "Huh...what about putting it in dimensional storage?"

"A phylactery is considered organic matter. This creates a rejection for the dimensional storages Schema dispenses. I've crafted my own pocket dimensions as well, but they are maintained by my mana. Without an actual body, a soul struggled to use mana of any kind. Most pocket dimensions cannot be maintained. My soul would be lost to eternity if I passed."

I tapped my chin, "What about my own pocket dimension? I mean, I'm not dying anytime soon."

Torix leaned back, "Huh...That would be more than suitable, though your death would result in...Even then, I wouldn't perish forthrightly."

I shrugged, "You'd lose your phylactery, sure, but you could just resonate again with your old one. For now, it's a safer place than either base, at least."

Torix peered off into the distance, "I...I suppose that would work for now."

"What do we need next?"

Torix pulled his grimoire from his robe, "There are two more obstacles, the first of which lies with resonance. Much of the time involved with becoming a lich comes from a lack of continuity between the new body and the old mind. If overall affinity is low, then the mind will reject the body, and as such, the soul anchoring process won't take place."

Torix knocked on his old, bony body, "This is particularly a problem with Schema's system. He doesn't wish to re-invest into a new body each time a lich dies. That is why I am so frail. Fortunately, your construct is more durable than a system enhanced individual."

I pointed around at the trees in Elderfire, "Would the life from quintessence work for your summoning rituals?"

"It would, though it would be far from optimal. The best source of fuel for a lich's ascension comes from the desires, memories, and pain of the living. It takes time to manifest memories and desires which your creations have yet to develop. I would suggest using eldritch and silvers with a surge of artificial life to assist."

I crossed my arms, "Do you have any places scoped out?"

"Indeed, I have found a few excellent spots for the process. These places are isolated from interference, teeming with life, and unprepared for magic. They suit our purposes perfectly. Now for the subject of resonance-"

Torix snapped his fingers, the sound swallowing barrier dissipating. We walked back towards his lair, finding the metal construct on the ground. It crushed into the stone a bit, the rock unable to withstand its weight. Torix gestured to it,

"The runic markings you made, they assist with that process quite a bit. I would actually ask of you to carve a set of runic markings into it from my grimoire."

"Why do you need me to do it?"

Torix raised a finger, "The first reason is that these are the standard etchings I utilize to ensure resonance. They allow certain aspects of my personality to personify more easily."

Torix lowered his hand, "Perhaps more importantly, however, is that I cannot carve into the metal."

Oh. Yeah, that made sense. 

Torix put his hands on his hips, "That is all it requires. I've already handled the details involved outside of those requirements."

Glancing down at the darkened frame, it dwarfed Torix's current skeletal form. It radiated with dominion magic, a hunger emanating from it. Torix leaned down and dragged his hand across a metal plate on the shoulder, 

"Can you hear it? It calls for a master, its howls haunting."

I cracked my neck, 

"Then let's go make this happen."