Bihena did not simply nominate Thelsa for this mission due to her previous connection to Dale. When it comes to the safety of the world, she would never resort to nepotism so easily. No, she chose Thelsa purely because of her strength. The Shadow Saint title did not simply give her another body that could act for her, those two bodies were perfectly in sync, able to communicate flawlessly while complimenting each other’s powers.
Although each body was restricted by the level limit of Fyor as a whole, it was not hard for Thelsa to find monsters to train both herself and Julia to the limit. After that, they would spend their free time sparring against one another, further improving their cooperation and understanding of their abilities.
Previously, when Thelsa had snuck into the Council on Dale’s mission, she had been forced to beat a hasty retreat due to a few average guards. But after surviving that encounter and developing this new power, she was even a match for the greatest elites that the Council could throw at her.
After the Six Pillars failed to complete their mission, Thelsa moved once again to stand in front of the crystal spire. It was unknown how long it would take the Council to begin questioning the fact that their elites had failed their mission, but she could not afford to lower her guard.
While she stood watch, Julia began consuming mana pills within her shadow, refreshing the mana that she had been forced to use on her top-tier spell. Abyss Break was an offensive version of the standard shadow binding spell, where one would pull a creature into a shadow prison. Instead, it only pulled in small sections as wide as a thread, essentially severing space wherever it cut. And once it had finished this first step, it rapidly expanded to consume what was left.
When we get out of here, make sure to see if we can grab one of those new grimoires from Earth! Julia called out from the shadow. Will make fighting way easier on me.
I’ll see what I can do. Thelsa nodded. She still intended to ‘renew’ Julia’s identity after this, since it would be all too clear that she was one of the ones responsible for killing Council soldiers. While it was unlikely that anyone would consider this a crime, she did not want to stand in the spotlight. Thankfully, she did not have to completely wipe out the personality that was Julia, merely give her a new name and change her appearance, maybe adjust her classes a bit.
Can I pick what my next name would be? Julia asked while they waited, slowly rising up from Thelsa’s shadow to join her in the formation.
Of course. Thelsa agreed without hesitation. Although Julia was fully aware and consented to her identity being replaced, Thelsa would still feel bad about not agreeing to her wishes in this matter.
I’ve always wanted to be a Sora. Sora Sparks! Now that would be a name.
Thelsa let out a light chuckle as she heard that. I’ll remember that. Well then… after this, please continue to take care of me, Sora.
Julia’s lips curved upwards into a smile before the two of them heard a voice shouting down the hall. “What’s taking you so long!?”
The one that turned the corner was an aged halfling man, his hair already starting to turn grey. When he looked into the room, and saw the splashes of blood along the floors, as well as the two women standing in front of the crystal, his eyes went wide. “Y-y-you! Why you! Do you know what you are doing?! The Warrior Goddess will not stand for this!”
Rather than standing and fighting, the man turned and ran after that threat, screaming. “Bihena, help us! People seek to destroy your most devout followers, and caretakers of your people!”
Of course, there was no answer that came to him. If he knew that the goddess he was praying to was resisting the urge to simply smite him, he might have chosen his words differently. As Thelsa and Julia were aware of the goddess’s stance, they simply looked to each other with wry grins.
As they waited, they began to feel like they had plenty of time… There were no rushing footsteps, no surging energies heading towards them. So the two got to work. Stretching out their hands, they focused, closing off the doorway to the room and sealing it with a wall of stone.
It was a full ten minutes before they could hear people banging against the wall on the other side. The sound of steel and bone striking stone echoed as cracks began to form with every hit. However, the fact that the wall was not simply blown apart showed that the people gathered now were only average guards, and that there was not even a druid among them.
“I’d rather not kill them if they’re this weak…” Julia muttered to herself, crossing her arms as she focused on maintaining the wall, gradually thickening it in case the guards began using their ki. “Lady Bihena, may we know how much longer to expect this siege?”
She was not expecting an answer, and was prepared to simply wait in silence. However, to her surprise, an answer did indeed come. It should only be a few more moments. The United Army has already reached the gate, and are dealing with the remaining elites. And don’t worry about your reward… I’ve been assured that you will receive something far too fitting for your abilities.
“Reward?” Julia blinked in confusion, having not really been expecting a reward. “With all due respect, Lady Bihena, we are doing this for the people. Please, do not trouble yourself with things like rewards. Just the fact that we are helping is enough.”
Sorry, my child. But she insisted on this one. Trying to argue with her when she has set her mind on something… well, let’s just say that it’s taken care of, and leave it at that for now, hmm? Bihena spoke in a gentle tone, clearly happy that Julia and Thelsa did not seem to care about being rewarded.
“She?” Thelsa asked, not sure who Bihena was talking about. Given that they were doing this for Fyor, she felt that the other goddess involved should be Aurivy. However, Bihena did not offer up an answer to this.
Instead, their answer came roughly five minutes later, when the two of them could hear the sounds of struggle outside their stone wall. The guards were being distracted, and had begun shouting, meaning that the army should have reached this location. Thelsa let out a sigh, preparing to sink into her own shadow when a golden mist suddenly wrapped around the two of them.
When the mist dispersed, the two were standing in an entirely new area. Now they were on an island, an old, weathered house behind them. Many of its planks were broken or rotted away, its windows shattered.
They were familiar with this sensation, having experienced it once before. “Thank you, Lady Aurivy.” Thelsa bowed reverently, knowing that Aurivy pulled them out of the room out of consideration for their desire to remain discreet.
There was a soft giggle that echoed in their minds, before that voice faded away, instead replaced by another. This one not in their heads, but from behind them. “No, we should be the ones thanking you.”
Thelsa and Julia both turned, surprised to find a red-skinned woman smiling at them. The presence she gave off, now that they were able to focus on her, was unmistakably that of a deity… which left her identity clear. “Lady Ashley.” The two women bowed in unison, lowering themselves to rest one knee on the ground, their heads lowered.
“Now now, none of that.” Ashley said in a gentle tone, and both Julia and Thelsa could feel themselves being lifted back to their feet. “It would have been a problem for us if you didn’t act, and having us do so personally would set a bad precedent. In times like these, we need people like yourselves that are willing to act on our behalf.”
“Of course, goddess.” Thelsa nodded her head, still doing her best to display her reverence even when her body refused to do so.
“Now… as for your reward. Yes, I’m the one that arranged things for that. Really, it should not come as a surprise to you, given that I am the Goddess of Darkness. Who better to reward the Shadow Saint?” There was a knowing smile on the demon goddess’s lips as she asked that.
In truth, Thelsa had never considered working as an agent for Ashley. Not because she had anything against the goddess, but simply because she did not believe she should attract enough attention for a goddess to even notice her. However, not it seemed that Ashley had indeed been watching, at least for a little while.
“I’m sure you are curious, so… allow me to get right to it. This reward… I will be granting you a fourth shadow, using my power. This shadow will be a bit different from the ones like Julia here, or the still growing Maria. She will hold a piece of my own power, a power compatible with your own.”
“In truth, I am doing this because I am curious if it will work.” Ashley spoke honestly, her smile widening. “You are a unique existence, Thelsa. The only being within five worlds that can do what you do. You can freely create shadows of life by siphoning the powers of darkness. So my gift to you… treat her well. She will be a lonely child, her power likely too great for her to easily contain. Show her the world, teach her, and allow her to create new bonds.”
As Ashley spoke, she waved a hand, and Thelsa’s eyes immediately went wide. She could feel the power surging up within her shadow, a fourth persona suddenly appearing. Unlike the ones she had created before, this was no human. Rather, she was a demon like Ashley herself.
Your third Shadow of Salvation, Petra Carna, has unlocked an achievement!
For being born with the divine powers of darkness, Petra Carna has received the Demigoddess of Shadows special title.
Thelsa immediately investigated the new shadow, and found that it only had three classes trained. Petra Carna was a druid, a priest, and a berserker. However, these three classes were all high enough level that her total power was somewhat beyond that of Thelsa herself… meaning that it was beyond the level limit of Fyor.
“W-will we even be able to use the gates like this?” Thelsa asked in concern, as otherwise that would mean that they would be trapped on what was no doubt the nineteenth layer of Fyor. The unique scenery, coupled with the sunless sky, could only make her think of the Dawn Kingdom.
“Well, I think so?” Ashley shrugged her shoulders, a carefree smile on her face. “As long as you don’t bring out Petra while you are crossing, the gate shouldn’t stop you. If it does, I will lower her strength enough that it won’t be an issue anymore. This child has a connection with me, but she otherwise does not know anything about the world. She is but a newborn at heart, so be kind to her. If you can win her love, she will be your greatest ally.”
Thelsa gave a small nod at that, looking to Julia. The black-haired woman let out a sigh. “Alright, alright. I’ll head for the gate, so you go take care of the new girl.” Julia smiled bitterly while Thelsa began to sink into her shadow. “I guess we’ll have our hands full for a while with this reward.”
I watched the scene play out with Ashley out of the corner of my eye, only half focusing on my game with Aurivy. Ashley had asked for permission to create a demigod, though she herself had not been sure that the procedure would work. Given that I was curious, and that we already had two demigods living within the world… one of them of my own creation, I saw no reason to refuse her.
As long as she didn’t go around doing this as much as Tryval had been trying to ‘produce’ a demigod originally, I saw no harm in it. And, given that that was not even possible, as Thelsa was likely the only person this method would work with, I decided to let her carry out her plan. I was already preparing to make Thelsa one of the chosen champions, once we advanced our rank and unlocked that feature.