City of Sin

Book 9, Chapter 144
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Queen Of Shadows

“Explore the new world?” Richard was confused by Soremburg’s proposition.

However, the mage responded to the question with another question of his own, “Have you thought about the final meaning of life?”

This was a question that Richard had no answer to. Power? Longevity? Experience? Nothing truly made sense.

Soremburg smiled, “It is evolution. However, that evolution has a forced limit to it, and you qualify to explore that problem. I believe you have already discovered that there is a limit to strength in this world, and it isn’t a natural limit based on talent. We simply cannot attain true perfection; the laws of the world serve only as a fetter to drag us down. The world does not welcome existences like us, and in fact tries its utmost to bring about our destruction. I arrived at the dark side of the world and seized authority over it so I could test my conjectures. The reapers are designed to bring down those races that finally reach a pinnacle. Grasping the foundational laws of existence is actually a death knell, and was why six powerful races were eliminated before us. Norland is in the Seventh Era, while the primal celestials hailed from the Sixth.”

“Then your aim is...”

“I want to explore the limits of existence and break the shackles on the world, bringing about a new beginning.”

Richard fell silent for a moment before saying indifferently, “The reapers haven’t been hard to deal with so far, be it here or in Faelor.”

Soremburg laughed, “Those were just toys I sent to play with you. I strictly followed the rules of the game and only dispatched one starship, but your power to destroy it was still beyond my expectations. That was when I knew you had the destiny to accompany me.”

“So that was you, huh. Thanks for admitting it,” Richard sighed, a dazzling blue radiance lighting up in his hand. Lightning zipped around in a beautiful melody as it begged to be released.

“Wait... What are you doing... NO!” Soremburg screamed as the light was shot towards his brain, tinging everything in the vicinity blue before breaking it down and scattering it all over. The entire hall was broken down into dust.

Things were finally done... Richard sighed. The Scholars were difficult to track, but in a real battle they couldn’t last longer than a single strike. That was simply the path they chose.

From laws to knowledge and even evolution, Soremburg had left Richard far behind. The two viewed the world from entirely different levels, and despite being an unrivalled existence Richard was almost like a wild beast in comparison to the cold, calculating Scholar. He actually agreed with the man’s theories, and perhaps would one day embark on the same kind of path, but right now he had to destroy the Scholar and everything he stood for. Even if his own vengeance could be thrown away, he couldn’t ignore the wishes of the billion souls he had picked up in Faelor.

However, his instinct was screaming that things weren’t truly the end. Scholars were crafty and had many tricks up their sleeve, and he had been burnt by supposedly dead ones before. His truesight caught nothing, but he frowned and summoned the tetrahedron of his truename. With even the billion eyes failing to see anything, he now knew that something truly was wrong. There should have been a soul ripple left behind if Soremburg had been killed, and no such ripple could escape the combined souls of his truename.

However, he wasn’t really concerned with things any longer. Now that he had destroyed Soremburg once, he could do it again whenever necessary. He would only grow stronger with the passage of time, unearthing the many secrets of Faust and exploring the various planes that were even stronger than Norland. The Eternal Dragon still had a number of rank 1 blessings to offer, and time would forever be on his side. If the Scholars ever revealed a trace of their existence, he would just extinguish them.

He was just about to look through the broken fortress when the shadows nearby gathered together, revealing a beautiful elvish woman walking towards him with a small mote of light grasped in her right hand. His truesight showed that she was an epic being that was made of amalgamated shadows, but she felt like the pinnacle of what a nightmare creature to become. In her hand was actually Soremburg’s soul!

Richard recalled the portal that had opened up just as he attacked the tower. He didn’t know what enmity lay between Soremburg and the nightmare creatures, but someone capturing this soul had saved him a great deal of trouble. He smiled and bowed, “May I learn your name, my Lady? And could you give me that soul in your hand?”

The ten-metre-tall woman flicked a finger, bouncing the trapped soul over to Richard, “You are the only one who can completely destroy this man. As for me, my name is Alucia.”

“Alucia? The Goddess of the Moon?”

The woman grimaced, “Once, but I fell from grace long ago. I was killed by Soremburg and his reapers, and my divine power was integrated into his final plan. I am now the Queen of Shadows.”

The fall of the Moon Goddess was news that would shock all elves. Recalling that his mother had guessed this long ago, he frowned, “Then why would you become the Queen of Shadows?”

“All souls exterminated by the reapers eventually become nightmare creatures. We wander around in the cracks of existence, filled with a desire to destroy all physical things. Such a strange balance, isn’t it?” she chuckled, but Richard could tell that she wasn’t as calm as she looked.

“But then, how did I feel your divinity in my enlightenment ceremony?”

“Because I had apportioned the power for that ceremony long ago. I still recall yours clearly.”

Seeing her smile a little, Richard’s eyes went wide in understanding, “You were the one who gave me the blessing of truth?”

Alucia nodded and sighed softly, “The ability to see the truth of the world, it is something unique to beings of shadow. Perhaps it is compensation for the unjustness of existence; the strongest of us can bestow our gifts upon other beings, hoping for them to end the reapers once and for all. You were only one of many we gambled on, but amongst hundreds of millennia you were the only success.”

Richard opened opened his mouth with the intent to say something, but he eventually sighed and burnt Soremburg’s soul to a crisp.

Seeing Soremburg’s soul completely annihilated, Alucia finally relaxed and saluted him, “You have the gratitude of all shadow life. I hope we never meet again.”

“I wish you peace,” Richard returned the salute, watching as Alucia dissolved into the darkness and dissipated away. He continued to investigate the fortress, retrieving a few important components that weren’t too heavily damaged before refining the rest into ember essence that he took back to Faust.

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