Book 4 chapter 3
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Eryl had a strange sense of deja’vu as she watched the twins run through the streets, the two girls brazenly investigating every shop or stall they passed as they dragged a very flustered Alagos behind them. It was painfully obvious the elven man was out of his depth with his new role as tour guide, not that it slowed the two down in the slightest as they pushed their way to a food stall.

Eryl was sure the man was regretting his decision to tell the two the council will pay for their trip into the city this once, though it was likely for the best as she couldn’t imagine Hecatolite being… happy about the exchange rates of crowns to the much heavier fells. 

As Eryl watched Hecatolite scarf down an entire deer leg, much to the enjoyment of the gathering crowd, she couldn’t help but remember the last time she was in the elven capital. This time was so similar, yet it was so different.

It’s been… What, eleven hundred years now? A sudden hollow nostalgia filled her as she closed her eyes, recalling the last group of heroes she had trained she again found herself wondering how this all had come about. 

Unlike the summoned heroes, the last group to hold that title were natural born souls of this world, though the demon lord at the time was to blame for the formation of so many heroes it really started as a standard ascension. A soul had managed to sprout from a seed into a fledgling divine, the system had assessed the soul and cataloged it before Eryl decided on the best course of action. 

It was after the assessment that she had decided not to summon souls given the world at the time had an abundance of powerful souls close to evolution and Ashmit was… well, standard Devil fare; not that she would ever tell the prideful man that. 

Ashmit really wasn’t anything super special though, minus the man's annoying cunning along with his understanding of spatial magic, he merely thought himself better than everyone else. Ashmit ravaged the world in an attempt to make it submit to his will, and likely would have succeeded if not for his own hubris.

But, since Ashmit was deemed as a “safe” demon lord, someone who wants to rule not necessarily destroy, as per system protocols he was left to his own devices. It was even determined that Eryl herself wouldn’t need to intervene in his ascension as the Oni had proven to be rather competent in controlling his newfound aether. There was the possibility of a natural born hero forming, as the best way for one to garner the faith needed to ascend is through conflict, and Ashmit was attempting to take over the entire world. That was until he had scorned a single human man.

Valor had been just one in a long line of people to cross Ashmit, just the two took to each other like oil and water. Valor had been a promising, if a little naive, knight who had been tasked with killing the evil “demon”; a task the young man had thrown himself at with all the vigor he could muster.

At the time Eryl gave the young knight a fair chance, well as fair as a mortal against a demon lord could be, of actually slaying Ashmit; though it was far more likely Valor would meet an untimely demise at the devil’s hands. That was before Valor, in an act of true brilliance, snuck into the demon lord’s lands and managed to slay one of Ashmits “generals” (calling them generals was a bit of a stretch given they were all superficial titles he granted to his family and close confidants). Needless to say, Valor had succeeded in capturing and then slaying a “general”, but what he did not expect was Ashmit’s reaction.

After hunting Valor down Ashmit, standing over a broken and battered Valor, did something that forced Eryl to admit she had underestimated just how dangerous the devil was. At the time, all the divine of the world had watched as Ashmit, a freshly formed demon lord, grabbed a nearly dead mortal man and forced aether into him, evolving a nearly dead Valor into a seed. What possessed Ashmit to do this is still a mystery to everyone but the Devil himself but the outcome was just as confusing. Ashmit, ruler of nearly half the world at the time, changed his entire empire to focus on a single man.

Over the next several years the demon lord systematically destroyed everything Valor had ever held dear, swatting the man down like a bug at every turn before all that was left was a worn-out husk of a man who had completely lost the will to fight before Ashmit just… stopped. He vanished off the face of the world for nearly fifteen years, the demon lord retreated into his own lands and left the world to rebuild. 

Valor, finally free of his prison, had begun to rebuild his life with the help of his first “companion”, a young court mage who had taken an interest in Valor’s “seed” trait, Taika. It was with her help that Valor was finally able to “sprout” onto the path of becoming a divine, and when the alarms in the system began.

Ashmit was a run of the mill demon lord, sure he was destructive, but the system gave near zero odds that he would ever destroy a soul even by accident given the man’s belief that everyone in the world was there for his own amusement. Valor however, was well on his path to shattering anyone in his path, and his religious fervor on receiving the “god-seed” trait along with the title “hero”, the odds of him destroying multiple souls in his revenge path forced Eryl to take up the mantle as “Sage” again.

Everyone misunderstands the purpose of the sage, always assuming they are there to guide heroes in defending the world; and that isn’t wrong per say. But that’s really only half the job. In all reality she had guided most of the divine of this world into their ascension, Devil and God alike. The true purpose of the sage is to train new seedlings in controlling their power as well as try and nudge them away from soul destruction. What they do with that power is up to them, as long as they don’t try to destroy the world or shatter the souls in it then Eryl can do nothing but point them in the right direction for their chosen path.

It really is just a coincidence that souls destined to become gods require more… guidance. Devils are typically more interested in ruling or competing, being the best is simple enough for them. As demonstrated by Ashmit’s followers now; his great grandson currently serving as his envoy in the all-faiths church is all but a pacifist, not exactly what one would expect from a devil’s cult leader, but the young man simply wanted to be a baker. As long as he strives to be the best baker Ashmit will support him, as nothing but the very best will be tolerated. 

Where gods, gods are vindictive. Some of them wish to rule sure, but most of them simply wish to destroy “evil”. which is why the “sage” is typically tied to the heroes of a world. So Eryl had packed up and descended onto the world where two souls were skirting ascension to attempt to guide one while leaving the other to his own devices. 

Looking back on it now, she made… several mistakes in her time as sage last time. She should have gone to Ashmit first and gotten a better understanding of the situation before contacting Valor, who by then had begun rallying the humans against the demon lord. Instead, she rushed to his side and attempted to begin his training. If she had waited till after the first failed invasion, then maybe Valor would have been more open minded to her teachings. But at the time the threat of Valor destroying either himself or someone else was too great; they were already discussing attempting an aether infusion on Taika when Eryl had arrived after all. 

Valor marched his army into the demon lands and found that Ashmit had not been idle. No, the demon lord was simply waiting, and what greeted the human army was nothing short of a single sided slaughter. By the time they were forced to retreat Valor had become a godling and he was beyond reasoning. Eryl was unable to keep him from attempting to force creating more seeds, so she did the only thing she could think of; what she was supposed to do. She guided him, teaching him how to utilize his aether and how to safely form a blessing of power on another soul. 

In doing so she had tried to explain the dangers of force creating a seed, that only certain souls would be able to contain the power. Valor had of course twisted that to mean only “chosen” ones could become heroes/seeds. Before Eryl could correct that way of thinking Taika had evolved into a god-seed herself. 

The threat of Valor attempting to force his chosen into ascension led to Eryl hastily making a system protocol that would protect souls being infused with aether, causing the power to bleed into the system and being disbursed among the divine souls of the world and stabilizing the link into a blessing instead… Now that she thinks about it, Hecatolite tripped that protocol when she destroyed part of the moon, so it wasn’t a waste as unlike Valor, she could destroy a soul completely by accident. It was honestly more impressive that she has somehow managed to create so many seeds without running into that error more often… did she just get lucky? 

Her “wife” not included, Hecatolite has force-formed four seeds in this world and only needed a system intervention once. Which is saying a lot as it took Valor three years to achieve the same results while actively trying with much less promising results, where Hecatolite did it within a few weeks of awakening on this world by pure happenstance. 

Valor had scoured the world for three years in hopes to find allies, thankfully Eryl was able to curb some of his attempts as her “voice of the world” skill as a sage was able to “vet” souls before his attempt to recruit them. 

Much to her amazement however, during the three years they had traveled, Ashmit did not attack a single time. He contented himself by again building up an army in anticipation of Valor’s final push into his lands, a fact Eryl knew at the time yet couldn’t share. At the time she couldn’t understand the demon lord, Ashmit had all but given up on his world domination and had amassed more than enough, power to fully ascend into a devil, yet he waited even halting his own ascension as Valor amassed another army to face him.

Where Valor’s first invasion was with an army his last was with an amassed power that up until recently, stood as the single most powerful force to have existed in this world. Six god-seeds led by a godling along with the world sage marched against a single demon lords army and by the end of it Valor’s forces had been reduced to less than half and Ashmit got away in the end. 

Eryl was only partly annoyed to have died, but once the fighting started Ashmit had seemed to focus on her. Separating her from the party before executing her in a surprisingly painless way, the two had exchanged words before her death; though they mainly consisted of Ashmit apologizing to Eryl for what he was about to do before beheading her and displaying her body on a pike. 

Eryl had been understandably disorientated after being murdered and by the time she had regained her composure it was all over. Ashmit had ascended and the remaining heroes of Valor had retreated to the human lands to lick their wounds. Once it was all settled Eryl had attempted to ask Ashmit why he had acted the way he did, only for the devil to laugh. 

Eryl still didn’t understand why Ashmit had gone to such lengths; why had the demon lord hunted Valor so? And that was the only word for what Ashmit had done, he hunted Valor to the ends of the earth and beyond but why?

If he had simply killed Valor it would have made sense, but Ashmit had purposefully made Valor nigh immortal before destroying his life. He had started by burning Valor’s home town, killing his family and brutally murdering his lover. Then he systematically killed anyone close to him, teachers, friends, hells Eryl is sure Ashmit killed just about anyone who Valor met in the years following their meeting. Then he simply let Valor rebuild himself before crushing him again all over again. Even their final clash on the mortal realm ended with Ashmit robbing him of his final wish to kill the demon lord by ascending to the divine realms before the fight’s conclusion.

And why did he go out of his way to kill Eryl? From what she knows of the battle Ashmit had only slain her, despite the other three deaths in Valor’s party it was as if Eryl was the only one he had intended to kill. 

A soft tug on her hand broke Eryl from her thoughts, opening her eyes to see whoever was trying to get her attention.

Then a small piece of the puzzle slid into place as Eryl found herself looking up into the blue eyes of the man before her. 

Though the man wasn’t tall he had an imposing air about him. His clearly muscular arms were covered in scars that vanished into his tight fitting tunic that did little to hide his defined chest, a scar along the side of his neck drew her eye as she traced it up his squared jawline, the scar leaving a bald spot in the mans trimmed beard before vanishing into his short blond hair he kept swept back to reveal his sharp blue eyes that seemed to soften as they looked into hers. Eryl assumed the man would be considered handsome, though she never gave it much thought before she’s finding she prefers… softer features. 

The man’s scowling frown twisted into a slight smile as he gently tugged on her arm as if trying to lead her somewhere before someone called out to her. 

“Eryl?” Hecatolites voice caused Eryl to blink, the man vanishing to reveal a small woman holding onto her hand. 

Hecatolites bright red eyes met hers and Eryl could see it. Her eyes softened exactly the same way, her lips curling into a faint smile as she spoke softly. “Is it memories? They get me sometimes too.” Hecatolite gently patted Eryl’s hand as she softly cooed, “it’s ok, just whispers. They can’t hurt you.”

Eryl didn’t know what to say as she watched Hecatolite, the caring expression on the small woman’s face as she ran a thumb across the back of her hand, causing her to freeze. Her long messy white hair was swept back behind her slightly pointed ears to reveal her soft expression, her lips parted in a slight smile that tugged at the corners of her eyes as let out a low hum. 

“Hecatolite…” Eryl paused as the calming aura washed over her, the young woman's smile only growing as she closed her eyes and rocked along to her own melody. And Eryl couldn’t find it in her to stop her. 

She watched in almost a trance as she took in the sight of Hecatolite holding her hand to her chest as she hummed an inhuman melody,her own body swaying slightly as she matched Hecatolite’s rhythm. The entire world fell away as a single lock of her messy hair fell into her face, Hecatoltie’s small nose wrinkling as her eyes clenched in concentration; the calming feeling wavering slightly before, without thought, Eryl’s hand moved.

  Before Eryl even realized, she brought her free hand up to brush the stray hairs aside, her hand running along the gentle curve of Hecatolite’s cheek. And she felt that pressure in her mind whenever she thought about Hecatolite. 

A… Bending. Something inside her fighting against the thoughts of the young woman, as if trying to deny her very existence yet this time… Eryl’s heart fluttered as her fingers brushed against Hecatolite's ear.

It was then, over a thousand years later, Eryl realized why Ashmit killed her. Valor loved me… The thought flowed unbidden into her mind as she recalled years of traveling with the man. Teaching him, training him, much like she is doing now with Hecatolite. Just like the strange girl, Eryl feared what would happen if Valor was left alone. Both were byproducts of things happening in the world Eryl couldn’t understand. And just like Valor, Hecatolite has a propensity for creating havoc in the system wherever she goes, forming seeds with no regard for the world's balance… but… he never knew me.

The bending gave away a little, just a little as countless hours with Hecatolite flowed into her mind. Exasperatedly explaining to the bodiless soul what things like toes do, teaching her how to use the terminals to access the library, even walking her though spell formation and the basics of enchanting while she waited to hatch from the egg in her sister’s mind. 

Or the way Hecatolite always looked at her. She could now see it, the clear admiration Hecatolite held for her, in the way she always gave Eryl her full attention whenever she spoke. How Hecatolite would always face her, or the way she asked questions; it was like Hecatolite truly believed Eryl knew… well everything. Eryl hadn’t even noticed, but as the last few months played in her mind, she realized that just as Hecatolite watched her she had also watched Hecatolite. 

The way she would jokingly play with Amethyst, or tease Himari. Countless time Eryl had to stifle a laugh as Hecatolite taste tested local fauna, or the way she protectively watched over those around her… 

Valor had looked at the world sage with reverence, as a powerful ally and someone he could rely on. But Hecatolite looked at Eryl with a caring admiration, as someone she wanted to be with… someone to support.

It wasn’t the first time someone had noticed Eryl’s distress, many people asking if she was ok in the past… But Hecatolite didn’t even ask, she somehow knew and moved to help…

Eryl could feel her throat tighten as Hecatolite’s calming song came to an end. Her eyes cracking open to reveal the crystal red of her iris before, with a slight tilt to her head, she smiled and asked. “Do you feel better now?”

Eryl could only nod as she was drawn into the red pools that were focused solely on her, the eyes she had avoided looking into now searching her every feature as if looking through her... 

The pressure in her mind seemed to redouble as Hecatolite nodded. “Good,” her hands were surprisingly soft as she carefully massaged Eryl’s hand. 

That’s when Eryl noticed two things. First, this was the first time ever she had touched Hecatolite without feeling the other woman's power, it was just… warmth. No underlying emotion, no pull, just her own body heat as Eryl caressed her cheek. The second however, was the sudden audience in the street as everyone within earshot stopped to stare in wonder at the duo.

Eryl’s hand fell away as Hecatolites eyes seemed to glaze over again, her soft smile breaking into a grin as she tugged on Eryl’s arm. “All-goose says he knows a…” Hecatolite paused before whispering, “Eryl, what’s it called when someone makes clothes?”

Eryl shook her head, “a tailor.” And just like that the strange pressure in Eryl’s mind snapped back into place, the sudden warmth in her chest vanishing along with her answer. Though she couldn’t help but tighten her grip on the smaller woman’s hand… she did have a habit of running off after all.

Hecatolite’s tail cracked, the sudden noise causing everyone around to jump, as it wagged happily. The sound acted almost like an alarm as everyone slowly started going about their day. 

“Yes!” Hecatolite exclaimed, clearly ignoring the now disbursing onlookers as she pulled Eryl up the street towards her waiting sister who was giving Eryl a mischievous grin. Amethyst winked as she whispered something to Himari who simultaneously blushed and face palmed at the same time, the tablet sized terminal in her hand flashing an annoyed yellow as she did. “a Tylor who can make clothes for tails! But you need clothes too, and All-goose says Tylor can make non-tail clothes too!” 


So I touched on this a little in this chapter and I will likely not be explaining it in the future. But for someone to ascend to the divine realms it requires a certain amount of prestige, faith/fallowers are required as they send the divine soul mana to be converted into aether (the number of followers is not important as much as the amount of power they send. as demonstrated with Hecatolite who only has a few handfuls of fallowers but they all send an abundance of power and Saffron sends her aether directly) . the fastest way for someone to gain enough "faith" is conflict which is why war hero's and the like are more likely to become seeds and ascend than not, this is also why most of the time if a godling or demon lord appears in the world the system will most likely assign an apposing force be it a hero or monster to help the person garner followers. always remember, the system will protect your soul but cares very little about your life.

this however is not the only way to ascend, Jaki herself is no combatant but still managed to gain enough prestige to ascend from being a leader of the bunnykin race. put in very simple terms however a gods power is based heavily on their fallowers, so Jacki's faith has grown in recent years she is still very weak compared to Valor or Siofra.

Also in terms of ascension one starts as a mortal and from there can develop into a seed by either growing their mana pool to the point it has to condense into aether, or having aether introduced into their soul much as Hecatolite and Ashmit have done. from there they "sprout" into either a godseed or devilseed this is just an arbitrary categorization in the system so it can assist you further down your path, a sprouted seed can support a little bit more aether than its non evolved counterpart but the main factor is a seeds growth/power. a seeds mana pool will either grow rapidly as to prepare to convert into aether or is already to the point where it will naturally condense.

from there someone becomes a godling/demon lord, again neither name is super important but this step is curtal in becoming a divine soul. at this stage a persons mana/aether pool flip, up until this point the souls mana pool would outweigh their aether, and though they are still considered a "mana soul" (a soul that produces mana to fuel itself) its aether pool will gradually begin consuming the mana until it either gobbles the whole thing up or you evolve into a divine soul (a aether soul, fueled by aether alone). these souls are powerful, but also really ticking time bombs as their aether pool gradually cannibalizes the mana portion of their soul. eventually the soul will not naturally produce enough mana to sustain its growing aether pool and will either collapse into itself (a act the system will attempt to prevent by purgeing the soul of aether and tossing it into a harvester world) or evolve into a an aether based soul that can fuel itself with the more condensed power source. this however is a very big problem as a soul in this stage must remain in the mortal realm as if they were trust into a divines presence the divine could possibly suck all their mana out and consume the mana based soul, but if the soul evolves on the mortal realm it risks consuming the mana around it to fuel itself. that is why Hecatolite become a divine of this world nearly killed both her and Himari as the system tried desperately to remove her from the world to protect those around her. typically by this point a soul will have been taught how to form its own realm via its soul space or been sucked into the divine realms by the admin. Amethyst ascension went much smoother thanks to the fact her soul never evolved into an aether soul and thus the system did not try to remove her. this is an error neither the system or Eryl knows how to fix so its kind of just glitch in the system right now. 

there is one other way to ascend that I haven't touched on the story, and probably wont, but the final way is the "chosen" route. this is the fastest, and rarest way to become a divine soul as it requires you to take the place of an existing divine. pretty much a god (or devil if they weren't so damn greedy) choses one of its fallowers and pretty much says "you deal with this" and gradually feeds them all their power until the soul ascends and takes its place. this is super rare as the soul will take not only the gods power but its domains as well and the previous divine will either die or leave the worlds pantheon for another world. it is far more likely for a god who is either tired of living or moving on to another world to chose another divine to oversee their domains rather than try to force ascend a mortal, but it not unheard of. both Jaki and Vala are the primary gods of each of their races and the only divine of there respective races as such if either of them wanted to step down or leave they would need to find a subtible replacement as to be the god of bunnykins one must infact be a bunnykin. 

looking at this massive block of text i probably should have included it into the story a bit more and will consider it in the future but I'm 20min into explaining it and would hate to have waisted that time. XD i hope it made since, if not i will try again later to explain it. 

As always, thank you for reading!