A light mist drifted across the lake’s mirror surface just as the sun’s rays kissed the western cliff head. The morning air enraptured Cyril as she drank the air through shuddering breath. The air chilled her lungs as her heart was chilled by her thoughts.
She sat upon the top of the broken western steps, with the hope that the waterfall would drown out her the plethora of thoughts that plagued her. While it worked for a while, the sounds of the waterfall disappeared as she drifted back into her grim thoughts. She had not slept the entire night. Neither had she felt tired.
They had moved Priscilla into her bedroom to sleep in the bed with Mai. Mai had stayed up a little longer to talk with Cyril; The information she had gathered through their brief conversation weight heavily upon her heart though.
She had spent half the night in the air to train with her new limbs. She found that her clothes would morph around them. However, she was aware that her clothes weren’t made from ordinary materials, she was happy that she did not have to strip to summon her wings back out. The rest of the night had been spent with her thoughts as she mulled the information in bite-size pieces.
With the first part being that Cyril was considered a mythical legend at this point in time. Long absent from the world stage, Alistair – God of Light – had also replaced her mother years ago. Mai was not aware of the change, but Madin had a few statues here and there; She was just not as mainstream as her daughter. The most famous statue was in the Capital of the Beastial Planes. There also wasn’t a mention of her father, Edward.
There also were no records of Madin being Cyril’s mother. The popular doctrine only states that she was the sole creator of the world. Cyril was not in the mood to correct her; tell her that the world had been created by a team of hundreds. That she only had been a part of a few teams. Administration, Design, and Final World Set. Three teams. Only one delved into the grit of the world and it was only her stating what she wanted, with little of the actual drafting of the designs themselves.
She also was the one that set down the environments, at least, when Jax was not around and no “Friends” had been on.
I only dealt with a little back end business, nothing on the scale that was needed to actually implement the vast array of stuff needed for this game… She told herself as she felt like the biggest fraud in existence. Slowly, she put herself further into the endless abyss that was despair. In reality, Cyril took herself too much out of what actually happened. She came up with most of the things in the world. As someone who was nearly at the company’s call twenty-four-seven – and the one who could green light just about anything -; Almost all projects only spent about the time needed to code and skin them.
It only took ten minutes to two hours for a green light for the game teams. Cyril was not aware she had single-handedly designed and, or, approved all the items in the world. Nearly half the biomes had also been placed by her. Though, it had been stripped down afterward by a team to optimize it for the servers. Maybe it was a stretch to call her THE creator, she certainly was the God of this world.
Why am I still alive? Cyril thought to herself. She was no saint; She was not charitable; She did not give her hand out freely; and certainly, she was not good. Morality was vague to her. She really only had stories to tell her and, in a world, where anything could be fixed, consequences were always reversible. It was as simple as putting as opening the Admin Menu.
Jax was the one who taught her about morals and good. Her father spent more and more of his time with the company to ensure she could live. Her mother had spent a lot of time with her in the beginning, but that soon fell away once the scope of the company had grown. She handled the medical side since her father had purchased her hospital to ensure they had doctors they picked.
The more she thought about it, the less she saw her value in living. She could not be called a human at this point.
Without her family – without Jax – was there a point in living?
She was alone.
It was all so much for a single night. She even contemplated suicide for a moment, as ridiculous as the notion of it was. She lamented how lucky she was to have had Jax. He would have talked her through the night, even if he had worked the next day. She was alone in a foreign, yet, all too familiar world without the people who gave her a reason to suffer it all. Even the valley she had crafted with care had been changed.
It was all so much to absorb in such a short amount of time.
With such a dark heart, even the water seemed to lose its shine and the cliffs miles high. She felt hopelessly small compared to her new world. This was her tomb and she felt it threatened to swallow her whole… With a shudder as she hit rock bottom, she hugged her knees to her chest. Her eyes shot from the endless tears shed earlier in the darkness. Everything was so large now… And with her love…
She felt so… So, lost.
Lost in her thoughts, she had not noticed Mai behind her; Concerned as she watched Cyril slowly make herself smaller. Wrapped tight in the thick cotton blanket, her nose was red from the frosty morning air. Mist parted her lips as she contemplated whether to step in and break whatever spiral the goddess had gotten herself into. Though, ideas were not actions.
“Lady Cyril-” The sudden turn of Cyril’s body scared her as two orbs of bright gold stared at her with slit eyes. “Sorry, but I was wondering… Are you okay?” She had already disturbed Cyril. Now she had to follow through or she believed she’d look a fool in front of her deity.
The sudden appearance of Mai had ripped Cyril from her void of darkness. The valley itself seemed to brighten with her appearance. The shimmer returned to the lake, and her ears became aware again of the waterfall as it gurgled beside her. She cleared her throat, but Mai saw how bloodshot her eyes were.
“Y-Yeah.” Cyril said with a weak voice.
“May I join you?” Mai asked. She was dense like Desmond. She could see when someone needed a friend. Cyril clearly needed someone and she was aware that the girl had not slept with them; Thus, she must have spent the night in solitude. That fact made her tender heart bleed, just as it bled for those they had lost yesterday.
“Up to you.” Cyril’s voice sounded better now. She watched Mai shuffle over to her and sit beside her. The blanket pressed warmly against her cold skin. The touch warmed her heart in a way she never had felt in such a long time. Mai opened the blanket and cursed at the gush of cold air that hit her barely clothed body. She wrapped her arm around Cyril and wrapped the blanket around them.
“Bring it close or I’ll freeze!” Mai chuckled as her body shuddered.
Cyril obediently did as Mai bid and brought the end close tightly to Mai’s end. The blanket was rather large, with enough room for another person, the slack of the blanket felt homely.
“Better?” Mai asked with a soft, reassuring, smile.
“Mm.” Cyril nodded once.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Mai asked – sure not the pressure the girl.
“I’m fine.” Cyril said. “But thank you.” She smiled meekly and chuckled at the girl’s concern.
“Did you sleep well?” Mai changed the subject without hesitation.
“Mmm.” She murmured before she shook her head. Even after she had been pulled from that darkness, she still brimmed with energy. “Did you sleep well?” Cyril returned the question.
“I… slept well.” She said unsure of herself.
“You don’t sound too sure of yourself,” Cyril commented.
“Given what happened yesterday…” Mai said as she looked over the beautiful lake. “I figured my dreams would be haunted.”
“Doubt it.” Cyril added. “Not here.”
“How do you figure that?” Mai turned to the white-haired girl, even a side view was so breathtaking in the early morning sun.
“Since this world is real.” Cyril turned to return the stare. One that made Mai’s rosy cheeks turn even redder that she had to look away. “I figure all the items in there would do their jobs.”
“What do you mean by that…?” Mai looked back; This time in confusion.
“Red orb on the hearth. “Cyril said. “It’s called Tranquil Last Wish. It brings peace to all who rest within any abode it’s placed in.”
“Holy shit…” Mai said with astonishment before she covered her mouth with a hand full of the blanket. “Pardon me, but you have one of those?!” She brought her face forward, her eyes gleamed with curiosity.”
“Mm.” Cyril nodded her head. “About ten if I remember. I have a lot of crap in that house, so I could have m-” Mai cut her off.
“Those are made from the most violent battles?!” Mai raised her voice. “Only two of those stones have been able to form in the last thousand years! Just how violent was your time that you could have more than ten?!”
“Because I could create them?” Cyril said matter-of-factly. “While, yes there was plenty of battles that would have made them lore wise; I only brought them into existence after the Demon King Raid.”
Mai sighed at that. As expected, she thought of what she would say if she created something of such value and she figured she’d be lost for words.
They talked until the sun touched the lake’s surface and the rest of the group awoke. They all came out when they couldn’t find the two and saw they huddled by the lake. Everyone came out smelly and dirty, as they had when they went to bed.
Cyril had them take a bath, girls first and the guys last.
Four doors occupied the hallway. The two on the right were to the warehouse and workshop respectively. The two on the left led to another workshop and to a bathing pool.
The bathroom was cut from the stone, similar to Cyril’s room. Four large pillars rose from each corner of the large steaming pool. Each wall was carved with a scene from nature. One of the flowers, One of a sea, one of a mountain valley, and one of a vast forest. At the head of the pool, a stone unicorn stood. Its tail was pushed to the side and water gushed out its butt. The statue definitely was one of Cyril’s more… childish jokes… One she forgot to remove.
Once the girls had bathed, the boys changed out with them.
For food, Mai had caught several large golden salmon that she hadn’t seen the last night. When she brought them back onto the grass, Cyril looked at them with surprise.
“O… “She muttered. “They’re still here…”
“You know what these are?” Mai asked. “I didn’t see these last night, but they’re here now. So I figured we’d eat a few.”
“Yeah.” Cyril said as she sat on the grass. “They’re Heavenly Salmon. They turn gold after dawn and translucent after dusk. They thrive off mana.”
Priscilla, who had been walking towards them, stopped when she saw the fish. “Are those… Heavenly Salmon…?” Her eyes were wide in shock.
“Mm.” Cyril looked to the fishes again then nodded. “Yup. Only fish that should exist here.”
“You know what these are too?” Mai asked Priscilla.
“They’re only the rarest breed of fish in the world!” Priscilla yelled as both the girls watch a gleam of greed flash in her eyes. “They can increase the flow of mana the person who eats their meat!”
“Mm. They should also increase stamina and health as well.” Cyril spoke up. “I guess that would be vitality now… I guess stamina would still be correct. ” Her thoughts trailed off.
“H-How do we cook it?” Mai said as she stared nervously at the fish.
“I heard my father say that the imperial chefs had to infuse mana into the meal before it could be served!” Priscilla said.
“No?” Cyril refuted that. “It should cook like normal salmon. Why the hell would you use mana infusion on food?”
“To cook it better!” Mai said gleefull now they were on a topic she understood. “Similar to smithing higher-end materials, you need to-”
Her explanation was cut short as she watched Cyril take the fish and begin to cook it in her hands with flames of gold. The girls looked at her in astonishment at her flamboyant usage of magic.
“Your hand isn’t burning…?” Mai asked nervously.
“What do you mean?” Cyril asked without looking to her. “Why would spells hurt my hand?”
“Because of the heat!” Priscilla said as she stared at Cyril’s hands which never showed any signs of burning. “Spells like frost or fire, are dangerous to handle with the bare hand. That’s why we use special wands for those.”
“I’ve reached the highest tier of flame magic. ” Cyril commented. “It’s fine.”
No one had the heart to tell it that it wasn’t. Then again, Priscilla wasn’t aware that she was also a Goddess. She viewed her as an angel, but angels could be harmed too. Yet, Cyril had reached the highest pinnacle of a branch of magic… This morning was too much for her.
Cyril had slightly overcooked the fishes, but it was still delicious. Priscilla warned Cyril to not eat the bones since such a dense concentration of mana could not be consumed directly. It had to be cooked in a soup and it could make ordinary ingredients on par with low-level magical ingredients. The boys came out and joined them for the meal as they were enough for both the boys to eat their fill with how large the fish was.
Priscilla also jogged Cyril through magic, since she figured things must have changed quite a bit since her time.
There was a four-step process she told her. Imagination, Knowledge, control, and induction – only for spell casting though.
“The first step is Knowledge,” Priscilla said. “To weave mana into what you desire, you need to know what as much as possible about it. Experience trumps book knowledge, so low-level fire magic is the easiest.”
“The second step is imagination.” She added.” You have to imagine how your spell is going to come about. Such as a small flame or a shard of ice.”
“The third step is the induction.” She continued. ” You begin to weave the mana into the spell. You weave your spell with chants or keywords laced with your intent to cast the spell. This also means you have to be aware of mana. ” She finished with that last step. ” Control is the final step in this crash course. This is where your intent and will come into play. You have to master-”
A torrent of fire erupted from Cyril’s hand. “That’s a lot of work use for a small fire.” She said with a pained face. Priscilla didn’t have the heart to refute her. The fire was at least taller than her if she stood on Cyril’s palm.
“Ah. I didn’t know angels needed a crash course in magic when they woke up.” Randol teased lightly. He was about to compliment Priscilla on her crash course, but a ball of fire burned past him in the time it took to blink and exploded on the lake behind him the water rose nearly forty feet into the air like a geyser. Everyone looked at Cyril, shocked by the sudden force.
“Oops.” Cyril said with a smirk. “I guess might need more practice.”
With that, the meal had ended and Cyril’s situation had given each of them a much-needed respite. Though yesterday’s events weighed on their hearts, it seemed a greater deal lighter now with a few laughs and a meal to warm their bellies.
The group entered Cyril’s home again before she spoke of her new plans.
“I’ve decided I want to leave here.” Cyril said.
“I didn’t think you would.” Desmond said. “I don’t feel you’d the type to stay hold up somewhere.” He shrugged.
“Mhm, I thought that would have been a given,” Mai said.
“Yup.” Priscilla and Randol agreed.
“Hey!” Cyril groaned “In the stories, the character has to say it!”
After a good laugh, they ironed the details out as Cyril figured out how to use her inventory ago and then shoved everything that wasn’t nailed down into it. The group had already become numb to it and they helped her clean all her things. Randol and Mai had been given new enchanted steel swords, though she didn’t tell them they were considered trash to her. It made them happy, so she couldn’t just burst that bubble for them. Priscilla received a new robe and an enchanted light steel breastplate. Now she had some sort of protection.
When she was done, the entire house was empty as the day she created it. She felt a pain in her heart, but she did not know what this journey would bring; She didn’t want to leave something and regret it later. She wasn’t going to return that’s why. As much as she wanted to set fire to home as some sort of symbolic gesture, she figured it would be best to leave it since it had survived this long.
The group set out across the lake. Cyril, in her own fashion, walked on the lake’s water. When asked how. “Magic!”, when asked why “Because I can.”; They had their first taste of the goddess’s whimsical nature. Her steps never disturbed the water’s surface as she walked as a brisk pace here and there. The rest of the group suffered through the water, wishing they could use their magic as freely as she did, but she was a divine being. They just accepted it as such.
She was the first to reach the platform where the portal rested. Half way through, the barrenness of the basin had made her feel depressed. Thus, she chose just to make haste to the portal. It took another ten minutes for the rest to catch up. “Ready?” Randol asked her. She took a final look of the valley before she nodded her head. It was midday when they crossed back into the city.
They appeared out on the platform center of the lake at the city’s center. The first thing Cyril noticed was the sudden howls of distant monsters. Puffs of smoke rose around the city, none near the city’s main square as there were already a few large monsters dead. The group proceeded with caution, but it looked like a lot of the fighting had taken place in the night. No one, aside from Cyril, wanted to linger in the area any longer. With no signs of their dead fellows, they had even less reason to stay.
Cyril picked up a few monster bodies and placed them into her inventory when she passed by them. It was the most she could do since the rest were nearly quaking in their boots. They continued with Cyril at their head with Randol as they proceeded down the main road. It had been cleared in the number of battles that must have taken place. More buildings had been torn down. Plant life trampled. Everything was beginning to fall apart.
In the distance, a spire fell down and urged the less hardy of them to move faster. To their wish, Cyril stopped collecting things and moved faster. The others wished she had a sense of danger like them.
A few large wyverns glided overhead; their cries stirred. More cries returned. Their guess had been wrong, the battle was going to heat up more. The outer fields of the city had been trampled as well with more bodies strewn about. It was complete chaos. There had even been a few monsters lurking about, but none bothered the seemingly weak group that was leaving the contested area.
Once they reached the foot of the forest, Cyril looked over at the city. She didn’t know why she had to keep looking back. Maybe the future scared her. The past seemed so comfortable. It was known and treaded. For once in her life, she may have had something to look forward to.
. . . . . .
“Noo!” The man howled as he tore at the black mass that made up his lower body. His voice was thick with anger as it echoed through the large brimstone chamber. He could not free himself of the mass, no matter how he tried. His skin was paler than moonlight. Lack of sun had made his skin almost see-through as his black veins pulsed with rage. His glowing red eyes were wide as he roared once more at his inability to break from his cursed body.
His cries alerted the others around him. Deformed beings that would have been called nightmares came to his side. Demons, Monsters, Evil creatures – Devils. They were the Devils that served him. Their weapons were brandished in the thought that someone had tried to attack their lord, but only found him in a fit on unexplainable rage.
“My lord!” A Devil, larger than the others, came forward. His skin was black as night with dim red pupils. ” Tell me what angers you so!” He pleaded with the man.
He only received a swipe of the man’s arms in response. He was smaller; His arms shorter, so the swipe only took the empty air with it. The Devil was nearly double the man’s size at fifteen feet tall with large bulging muscles. White painted adorned him in ornate tribal signs that stated he was the leader. A leader who reported to the angered god.
“Who do you wish killed?!” He bowed before the man. “Please, Your grace! Speak your will!”
The man eventual calmed down. His face still contorted with anger as he heaved heavily as he dug his claws into the black mass that weaved itself into the floor below him. Its tendrils pushed aside the stones like he was a tree.
“They found her!” He growled. His red eyes glowed with menace and bloodlust. Black wisps of smoke rose off his body as he fought to give his will to his underlings. “They fought my daughter’s tomb!”