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You have learned Despair Aura!
Your Intimidation skill has been incorporated!
Despair Aura has leveled up! x2
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Pronos suddenly jumped in fright to the opposite side of the room as a black thin aura appeared around Rakna. The little snake almost thought he was going to get a heart attack. He looked back at his therian friend from a distance and could still feel as if something was looming over his head and whispering in his ears while pressing a knife against his throat.
“Oh,” Rakna exclaimed when he saw that and Pronos deadpanned at him. He looked at himself and the pitch-black aura around him. He squinted and tried to activate his regular aura on top of it. It instantly turned into a mix of cold cyan and black. “Hm, good to know. Though, this thing will be troublesome if it even affects allies.”
[If I may, Despair Aura is an intent and emotion-fueled skill. It is in the realm of possibility to spare certain people from it as long as you consciously establish that they’re no danger to you.]
“I see,” he followed Alexa’s advice and exhaled as he tried to focus on ‘who Pronos was’ and easily enough, the pressure on the little snake nearly vanished as if it was never there.
Pronos hissed in relief and carefully made his way back. He jumped on the seat next to Rakna and curiously looked at the fluctuating black and blue aura. He could still feel some amount of coercion but it wasn’t hostile.
At the same time, Rakna’s ears twitched as the sound of footsteps echoed. He instantly powered down his auras and looked at the staircase where three people had emerged. One of them was predictably Gray but the other two perplexed him.
The first one was a woman with short straight blonde hair and blue eyes. She wore a completely white attire and sported a Christian cross around her neck. She had a soft smile on her face that emitted nothing but compassion. But he could tell by her scent that she was annoyed.
In fact, this irritation seemed to be directed at the second unknown individual next to her. It was a middle-aged man with sharp features and mellow brown eyes. He wore a black and red garb that made him look like a priest. Just like the woman, he also had a cross hanging from his neck.
However, the cross was beyond weird. If anything, Rakna would describe it as a satanic symbol more than anything else. This cross had eight branches with four of them forming a diagonal cross on top of the regular Christian one. It seemed to be made of wood with a very dark shade and was attached with a thin chain. But the most abnormal thing about it was the silver skull.
At the center point where the branches met laid a small silver skull with a very faint red glow in its eye sockets. Rakna couldn’t help but shiver at this alien symbol but for some reason, it also felt somewhat familiar to him.
There was also the problem of his new ability to smell emotions. For one, he could easily smell the simple emotions coming from both the woman and Gray but the other man was different. He had no way of describing the scent he gave off, but the first thing that came to his mind was emptiness; a bottomless pit.
“Oh? Is this the young man responsible for finding the tomb?” The woman asked when she spotted Rakna in the lounge room. Her scent had gained a faint hint of curiosity and respect.
“Yes, his name is Rakna Xiorra. Throne of Glory’s latest recruit,” Gray said as he led the way toward the couches near said recruit. “By the way, I heard from Vegas that you went out with your foxy today, did you have fun?” He asked with a grin.
Rakna huffed. “Moderately.”
Gray cackled. “More seriously, how you’re holding up?”
“Fine, all things considered,” Rakna said as he flexed his arm. “I still have a headache and I’ll probably need some time before I can move freely, but most of my injuries are healed.”
“Great! I assume you don’t mind if they ask you a few questions then, right?” The clown said as he waved at the two people following him.
“And they are?” Rakna retorted.
When Gray was about to introduce them, the priest raised his hand to stop him, “Let me. My name is O’Gram Hei. I’m a Cardinal hailing from the Basilica of Eternal Night.”
‘Eternal Night? Again?’ Rakna thought. “Are you a group of people capable of using Aeter then?”
“Unfortunately, no. We merely worship the God of Eternal Night. We do have some Aeter wielders in our ranks but that is not what defines our members. We would be quite short-handed if that were the case, considering the rarity of Aeter users.”
“I see…” He muttered then turned toward the other person.
She smiled at him when he looked at her. “Nice to meet you, my name is Angela Frey. I’m a dean and unofficial priestess from the Christian Church.”
“So, even Christianity is here…” Now, this truly puzzled Rakna. “How? Shouldn’t it be a religion from Earth? It’s the same for you Clown; you seem to have some knowledge of Earth’s culture.”
“Ah, right, I forgot you were new to the System,” Gray uttered. “You’re both wrong and correct. Let’s see… Have you ever heard of the Spiritual Tree?”
Rakna scowled. “Like, the World Tree?”
“No, that would be Yggdrasil,” O’Gram intervened. “How about this instead? Do you know of the collective consciousness?”
“I have heard of the concept.”
“Then, that will make it easier. The Spiritual Tree is the root of the collective consciousness which freely spreads across all worlds and dimensions. Beliefs, ideas, dreams; all of it goes through the Spiritual Tree and shapes the world.”
Gray nodded. “Why do you think the Dreorins, while globally called differently from Earth, have the same individual designations that you know of? Monsters like kobolds, goblins, orcs, slimes were fictional beings in your world. They were undeniably imagined by someone at some point but the question is; how did it happen?”
“You see, the Spiritual Tree makes sure that the world stays ‘consistent’. If a sentient being thinks of something that is already registered inside the collective consciousness, then they will name it accordingly after receiving inspiration from the Tree itself without them even realizing it. That is why, while the Earth has indeed come up with their own culture, it is not necessarily unique.”
“That does make sense…” Rakna recalled everything he saw until now. Slimes, dinosaurs, golems, beast-men, elves, and even mundane things such as gold, animals, and plants. All of those were at some point the fruit of human imagination or research, for either their appellation of portrayal, but it would be conceited to say that the Earth was somehow the origin of their existence.
“But what is the first instance? Is it possible to know which planet or world changed the records of the Spiritual Tree? For instance, the first humans, the first elves, the first monsters, or gods?”
Gray shrugged. “That, I don’t know. The universe is ever-expanding anyway. I don’t even want to think about how hard that would be.”
“But anyhow, we’re getting out of topic,” Angela said and everyone looked at her. “Rakna Xiorra, we are here to ask about your… encounter. Your AI told us it was an Abyss Téras by the name of Verias. We would like you to give us more details of what happened.”
“Can I ask why?” Rakna replied whilst frowning at the two devout people. “More specifically, why would you two need to know?”
“I can answer that,” O’Gram said. “Our Basilica and the Church are two of the most influential organizations in the System and our nemesis is the Abyss. Being a gathering of both the terrors of nature, the Téra, and the creatures of the night, Vampires, they are our archenemy.”
“Indeed,” Angela nodded. “I do not know of what the Church exactly was on your planet, but it’s a fact that vampires, among others, are one of our biggest enemies.”
Rakna raised an eyebrow. “Well, as far as I know, vampires do not exist on Earth. However, it is a not well-known fact that the more convoluted legends originated from a certain disease. A disease that made one’s skin paler and over-sensitive to sunlight.”
Angela was first confused by his intention in saying that but it quickly turned into a wince when he continued.
“The Church branded them as malevolent for their suffering. They were seen as people that would sleep in the dark because that was their only way to shield themselves from the light of the sun and hide from scorn. They would be fearful of onions because they had properties that worsened their illness’ symptoms. They would be scared of the Christian Cross because that meant that the inquisition was nearby and might burn them or spike them.”
Gray curiously judged Rakna as he stated those facts with a steady and unperturbed tone. As for O’Gram and Angela, the former had an intrigued look while the latter was frowning.
“What are you trying to say?” She asked with a lower tone.
“I mean to say that humans are ugly creatures,” Rakna responded without missing a beat. “But it’s not limited to them. My uncle used to say that anyone capable of thought is prejudiced to both the worst and the best. I respect religions, and those who believe in it as well, but… I despise the man-made values used to command others through an underserved sacred authority.”
“You…” Angela was speechless. “Are you questioning the Church’s morals?”
“I’m not questioning them… tell me; do you have a Bible?”
The priestess furrowed her eyebrows at the unexpected inquiry. “We do...”
“Who wrote it?”
Gray couldn’t help but snicker. Before Angela could properly think about the implications of the question, she turned toward the cyborg with a small glare.
The clown waved his hand while covering his non-existent mouth. “My bad, my bad. It was just too funny to see a newbie criticize your organization barely minutes after meeting you.”
“I have to agree,” O’Gram concorded with a small smile on his face. “However, I do understand what he implies. The Bible was written by men, not God. Its teachings were warped by the vision of mortals. In other words, followers of God might be followers of their own warped desires. Am I right, young man?”
Rakna snorted. “Pretty much,” he said and turned toward Angela. “I’m sorry if I have offended you with this, but my uncle and I have had… issues with the Church in the past. I have to admit that I’m still a bit affected by it even to this day. I got carried away.”
Angela seemed to calm down a bit after that. “I… forgive you. At the very least, while I am not optimistic enough to say that the Church is not without corruption, I swear to you that our main objective will always be to bring hope and salvation to anyone who seeks it.”
“I will also take this occasion to say it,” O’Gram followed up. “Our Basilica does not operate like an ordinary religion. We are merely believers of the Eternal Night God, whose morals are to protect the peace, our children’s future, and to destroy the Téra. Unlike the Church, we’re closer to military force.”
Rakna sighed and nodded at them. He almost felt a bit guilty after his rant. Almost. When he heard her ask how the Church was on Earth, it had brought back some unpleasant memories.
“If I may, can I ask what kind of altercations you had with the Church?” Angela voiced what the two other people in the room were also wondering.
Rakna closed his eyes for a few seconds before shaking his head. “I’m sorry but it’s not something I like to recount. You were here for information on Verias, right? I guess you two need it to verify his death or make a report?”
“O-oh, yes,” Angela cleared her throat as the objective of her visit returned to her.
“Can you tell us more about what happened?” O’Gram asked afterward.
Rakna breathed in and leaned against the couch. “As you already know, I found the tomb under an underground village. I found it after following a scout patrol of dark elves that attacked me when I arrived on the Plateau.”
“Other than the curse, I quickly realized that were was something weird about it and after a bit of digging, I discovered that their chief was simply non-existent. My AI forwarded the idea that the entire village was under an illusion of some sort. I found a hidden passage inside the chief’s house which led me to the tomb. I fought two golems that were guarding it and the sarcophagus opened soon after.”
“And Verias came out of it, huh?” O’Gram remarked while rubbing his chin. “How strong was he exactly?”
“Abyss Téras, Level 99. His Path was Sorcerer of the Upper Life. He had Curse, Illusion, and Abyss magic with one of his spells being Tier 4.”
The more he said, the more shocked the listeners were. Even Gray was stunned. “How did you manage to beat that?”
“Oi, that’s my thing,” the clown quipped vexingly.
“Wait, wait, do you know his full name?” Angela asked hurriedly.
“I think it was… Asziquol Naberum Verias. He apparently was a former Abyss Ruler that betrayed his superiors and was punished for it.”
“Naberum? You mean, the actual one?” O’Gram uttered with widened eyes. “I thought it was a sort of descendant, but you actually fought one of the former Rulers and won?”
“He was weakened,” Rakna indicated.
“And you were what, level 20?” Angela deadpanned and he shrugged.
“In any case, if what you say is true, this is a way bigger deal than we thought. Hundreds of years ago, he was known as the King of the Puppet Legion for his absurd ability to create and control Abyss Puppets. Who knows what would have happened if he had fully recovered?”
Angela nodded. “I have to agree with him for once. That man would have been a threat for not only the Fifth Plateau but the entire System.”
“It makes sense now,” Gray remarked. “When I tried to teleport to you through the System, it was rejected as if something was blocking it. That was probably the work of an array of some sort that he made. It would also explain how that village has never been found until now.”
“One last thing,” O’Gram said. “Can you describe him to us? His appearance? Personality?”
“Arrogant, cruel, and vicious. As for his appearance…” Rakna trailed for a second and addressed Alexa internally. ‘Alexa, has my HL recorded my fight with Verias?’
[Affirmative. Would you like me to project a hologram?]
“Yes,” he responded out loud and his lenses glowed and projected the image of Verias in the room the worn-out bandages loosely wrapped around his body.
Angela shivered at the sight of his ear-splitting smirk and his sharp teeth akin to a shark.
Gray hummed as he observed the holographic reconstruction. “So, this is the guy, huh?”
“Yes, I can confirm it,” O’Gram declared. “This is definitely a Téras and it also matches the records we have of the Abyss Rulers. Can I ask you what you did with the body?”
“Is something wrong?”
Rakna pursed his lips and Pronos sweat dropped since he was the only one who knew the answer to this question other than him. “I… kind of… ate it?”
“Seriously?” Gray was speechless and he wasn’t the only one. “Why?”
“I was… not in full control of myself at the time.”
“I… see,” O’Gram mumbled with an odd expression before turning toward Angela. They nodded at each other and stood up from their seats. “Thank you for allowing us here, Whisles. We will report this to our superiors.”
“You can expect a reward for your deed,” Angela said while looking at Rakna. “Defeating an Abyss Ruler is a praiseworthy feat, no matter the circumstances.”
Rakna nodded. “Hm, I’ll look forward to it.”
“On this note, have a good day.” The priestess and cardinal bowed slightly and left the Pavilion.