Yay, finals are over and I have time to my favorite pastime again~
Lesson learned that I’ll probably not heed: Don’t procrastinate!
Chapter 45: Something Old and Something New
The wind around me began to pick up signifying the appearance of the portal. Off to the side I watched as the red sphere and red disk took its forms to form the spatial passageway. Already coming, I could hear the rumble of moving metal parts carrying a familiar container. Like it did an hour earlier it stopped and unloaded the dozens of my brothers.
Once it finished, I quickly clasped my hands and bowed to give a short prayer to the lucids.
“Looks like its time.”
With the assistance of my movement spell, I vaulted up through the portal landing on the hard floor of the unknown room. With the help of a little orb of light, I could make out the details inside.
The walls a smooth tiling of matte black embedded in them was exposed piping of a crimson liquid through clear tubes running along like veins.
They probably aren’t for decoration. I ran my fingers over one of the pipes feeling a soft heat radiating from them.
With the same puff of air the container’s chute closed and the portal that was on the ground began to close. Little by little the outside faded away showing allowing me to see the large triangular formation that allowed the portal to exist. The massive spell etched into the ground was filled to the brim with few spatial sigils I did know and many I didn’t.
The red liquid drained from out of the sigil flowing in the surrounding network of pipes on the ground and ultimately up into the walls.
“They didn’t spare any expense to make this place completely automated.”
I assume the entire building was being fueled by a massive crystal battery filled with someone’s red mana. From the way it functioned, I could sense it was extremely efficient it could go decades, or more, before needing to be refilled.
Eugene’s estate treasure had a small crystal battery the size of a fist under the kitchen sink. Other estate treasures, especially the ones with built-in protections, of course, had much larger ones.
I turned my attention away and made my way through the only hall that led into this room. Above me was the rail system that carried the large metal silo where the lucids to be disposed of were hauled in.
Although I was told there shouldn’t be any dangers or traps my steps were light.
Going off the conversation I was in the bottom most floor of the underground building. Above me are the artificial wombs and all the floors above that are the rooms where the seven thousand lucids are being forcefully kept and drained for every little bit of essence they can.
Following the rail, I quickly, and carefully, made my way up a set of black stairs tracing my finger on the cold texture of the matte finish. A trace of excitement followed my steps.
My offspring said my body was here! Maybe with a simple touch, I could hop right into it.
I did it for these lucid clones that are based on me so why wouldn’t it work for my actual body?
“It’s here.” The steps ended and tiny space led me to a double door.
Above me, the rail disappeared behind the walls.
The like-new doors opened without a single sound or any sense of resistance. Only the sound of fresh air flowing in announced my arrival.
With my presence, soft sterile lights turned themselves on my eyes instantly fell on the giant egg-shaped glass pod connected to the ground at the center of the room right in front of me. I looked around, all four walls were lined with smaller glass pods. With lighting, I dispersed my orb.
“These are me…?” I neared a pod that was right next to the door.
Floating at the center I could make out something swimming inside a bubbling white liquid. A fleshy ball spun and twisted inside as it rapidly grew larger. Entranced and curious I watched as the white liquid slowly turned clearer allowing me to see more in a moments time I could make out a fetus than an infant.
“Ha…” Was all I could say being taken aback in a mixture of awe, disgust, and fondness seeing the quick tumor-like growth.
My shock was exacerbated by the fact that each wall had 8 of these giant incubator tanks turning clearer at the same rate. Each with the exact same pale infant inside.
“Where, where my body?” I darted back to the center of the black-walled room.
My sight fell onto the much larger glass enclosure at the center of the room.
My steps were unsteady as I lugged each leg to move forward. Fear began to fill me as I neared the much milkier white liquid that filled the giant enclosure.
“This must have taken years to create, no, more than that. Decades.”
As the stepped closer I finally noticed the incredible detail in the formation that wrapped around the enclosure. Instantly I could see there was a stark similarity to the essence filtering technique in the glowing red etchings on the ground only this work was so incredibly specific. If the filtering technique was a mesh sieve then this was an atomic microscope in terms of focus.
I pressed my hand against the warm glass soon followed by my cheek as I tried to peer inside. I squinted to make anything out in the murky liquid. With a soft thud, a floating eye tapped against the glass matching my eye line locking eye contact.
It was instant. I knew to who that soft amber eye belongs to. A feeling that came from the depths of me. The eye that had greeted its owner since the first time it saw itself in a mirror.
“Haaaa…” My entire body shook as I fell back.
With the current inside the eye floated away, receding back deep into in the milky soup.
Was it hope that blinded me? Why did I think regaining my body was going to be simple?
A half smile cracked on my face unsure how to feel at the absurdity of the situation. Like a bubbling human stew a hand missing most of its flesh, a spine missing half the sternum, and the skin of a face passed by rolling along the glass.
“That’s me,” the thoughts that followed where.
They’ve killed me.
A chime from a loudspeaker rung out.
“Incubation phase is now complete, verifying batch…”
“Batch verified, failure rate 34.4%. Beginning purging phase…”
With the announcement, all the pods began to churn as the liquid drained out from the pods. In the brief moment I had turned my attention away they all had fully grown. Inside all 32 pods where pale bodies of sleeping lucids. However, in 11 pods scattered around the room the liquid remained undrained. The pod changed shape as the glass elongated to touch the ceiling connecting itself to a large hole. With a single motion those 11 bodies where heaved up out of sight.
“Those must have been the damaged ones.” I shook my head.
“Completely and utterly disgusting.” Like a puppy mill.
Throw into the mix what they had done to my body?
I was seething, I wanted to destroy the entire facility. Destroy it along with the dirt it stands on. Wishing I could smite it out of existence.
All funded by the Blood Axis…
“So the Scale Allegiance murdered Eurval and me in cold blood for dungeon materials and the Blood Axis destroyed my original body and are the reason why I’ve been led to this world!”
“Ohhh what a joke this is!”
A smile streaked across my cheeks my face was dyed red in anger while the laughs expelled the frustration.
“Well, if you’ve taken so much from me, then you should not mind me doing the same!”
My massive dark tungsten spear appeared in my hands, with the use of both of my arms I plunged it into the ground and began to saw around the giant formation encircling the enclosure where my body parts swam.
The matte metallic ground put no resistance as I cut through. The sharpness and hardness of a heroic grade spear was too great for it to fight it. I made my way through the entire room taking with me anything I could get my hands on.
Research binders, cubes filled with unknown data, lab equipment, it was thrown into my storage ring all the same. Even if it was built into the structure that is bound to someone all I had to do was cut it loose!
“Error, host body not connected attempting to reconnect. Error, host body not connected attempting to reconnect.”
The same message repeated itself when I had already taken away the center enclosure along with the ground it was connected to.
“Beginning floor transfer phase for successful growths of batch 329 model Earth.Sample.Cleaned.Slate in 10…9…”
“Stopping transfer phase. Transfer phase successfully stopped.”
I was a bit surprised it head my word.
“They really believed the wards outside were impregnable so they didn’t bother with any security other than the badges.”
If what the lucids said was correct then Lisuliam is a person with a stature of Laurent except specialized in defensive warding magic. While not always obvious, I feel those who focused on surviving are the most fearsome.
I scratched my chin, my assumption of Laurent being able to waltz through here was wrong, I think he could, but Laurent would have to know ahead of time to prepare prior to trying.
Just how strong are my soul and will? Then why did the Blood Axis go for my physical essence instead of my soul?
I had no answer, but I wanted to keep those thoughts.
However, for now, I shelved them, I had other pressing things. I needed to release the other seven-thousand lucids and escape from here with them.
I really jumped into this headfirst…
“Open these pods and release them right here.” I pointed to the ground as I spoke to the machine in a hopeful voice.
“Commencing waking protocol… Waking protocol successful. Opening incubators.”
The glass drooped down as if melting to allow the 21 lucids step out. Once they left the pods the glass rose from the ground reforming back into the original shapes.
“Father!” “Father!!” “Father.” Each one greeted me with a short bow.
It was uncomfortable to be called that, but I couldn’t help but feel a warm fondness watching them.
“Wait here okay while I get everyone else.”
“Of course, father.”
I gave a nod then proceeded to rip out each pod from the walls and the ground with the help of my spear throwing them into my spatial ring.
Once done, I turned my eyes to the ceiling and called out to it.
“Open all the essence absorbing pods from all the floors above.”
“Attempting to release…”
“Room Error, authorization must be granted from the location of the requested pods to be released.”
Well, it shouldn’t be too hard scouring through the 50 or so rooms. One of the data cubes contained a simple map of the building.
With the assistance of the map projected into my sight, I began to make my way to the door that was straight across from where I came in. It led directly to a small hallway where the stairs to the next floor began. Because this building meant for the normal people they saw no need to add an elevator.
A dull sound of my steps up the sterile still air filled the hallways as I made my way through to the first of seven floors. Immediately up the steps was a straight corridor with automatic doors on each side and long windows to see into the rooms.
Like an indoor farm, each room was packed with simpler versions of the incubator pods downstairs. The greatest difference was the clear liquid that was being pumped through each one. I jumped into the closest one to my left.
“Release them all.”
“Release authorization for pods 6997-7236 granted. Beginning release protocol…”
With the announcement, all the pods shook simultaneously as the clear liquid began to be drained out quickly.
“Release protocol successful. Opening pods.”
Unlike the liquid glass, these pods hatched open with the top swinging up to reveal the lucids all cramped in the same fetal position.
“Poor things how can they dot his and not see the cruelty?” I shook my head as I touched the head of a lucid from a pod near me.
Each one was a pile of skin and bones their eyes sunken into the dark circles around their eyes. Being stuck in such a position for so long had warped their back and muscles.
They told me they would be able to move after a day’s rest…
I was too naïve thinking they would move normally. At best they could walk with a limp and a hunched back. At worst they wouldn’t even be able to lift their heads to see where they’re going.
They had their essence drained for every moment since their birth. Their body having to heal them each night only exacerbating the issues of such a horrible resting position.
While none of it was life threatening, I could smell the minty scent that came from healing poitions coming from the pods, I was completely sure it would be true torture living like this.
I wonder if the reason they haven’t broken mentally is because they’ve never had a taste of anything else…
To them, this must be the norm.
“Awful, just awful. Horrible even.” Just thinking about their suffering sent another a rush of blood to my head.
“How can someone just knowingly do…”
I let out a calming breath relaxing my jaw.
“Rest here, we’ll be out soon.” With no energy to speak only some had the energy to crack their murky glazed eyes open to confirm my words.
I stepped out, back into the corridor. There were thirty-six of these rooms throughout seven floors each one holding about two-hundred essence draining pods.
There was a hurry in my step that wasn’t there when I first got here. Now that I had personally witnessed their pain I wanted to put a stop to it as soon as possible.
“The sooner they begin recovering the faster we can all leave.”
I began to make my way to the next room picking up random data cubes, papers, interesting materials. Really, anything I could throw into my storage ring.
Each room I repeated the same words to begin the process of freeing my lucids. And for each room, especially so for the higher the floors, their condition worsened.
Ashy skin that looked ready to flake off with a breath, missing chunks of hair that fall off with the slightest movements, and scars from removed growths and open sores that were left unchecked only to be healed haphazardly.
They didn’t care what their condition was so long as they were alive.
“Release authorization for pods 1-223 granted. Beginning release protocol..”
“This is the last room” I gave a brief look around only shaking my head once more. Being the oldest of the lucids they had been suffering the longest.
“You where the flaming tree wasn’t you?” I caressed the face of the lucid in pod labeled ‘1’.
The damaged boy cracked his eye barely nodding his head in response.
“I feel bad making them have to walk all the way down to the basement but I have no choice.”
There will be a dozen or so I’ll have to carry to the disposal chute. Not to dispose them of course, but to make use of the monorail that leads all the way down to where the portal out is located.
With everyone finally out I would now have to wait for them to regain the minimal strength to move.
“I should go talk to them and see how they’re fairing.” Right now they can’t even speak.
I closed my eyes and focused on visualizing the strange plane where I was led to.
“Father, you’re back.” The burning tree greeted me along with the many other mana bodies that inhabited this shared space.
My blue crystal gave a short pulse in response.
“I was able to release all of you from those pods, how are you all doing? Is anyone having any trouble?” Many of them didn’t have the energy to talk so this was the best way to find out if someone needed special attention.
All the mana bodies shook as they spoke to each other.
“We’re all slowing regaining our lost strength now that it’s not being taken away anymore. Soon we will all be able to get up. We believe it should take half a day at the fastest and a full one at the slowest.”
“I know for sure at least a dozen of you cannot, or at least should not be able to walk.”
Their selflessness was too much.
“Pods 4732, 2122 to 2131, 348 to 351, and 34 are in the gravest conditions.”
More than I thought… some must have had injuries I couldn’t see.
“Alright, you all seem calm about this aren’t you angry?”
“Angry? Why would we feel angry we are before you. We are happy in fact.”
“These people, this country have treated you with no regard holding you in cages where you can’t walk or run. Tortured you. Killed our brothers and you’re not angry?”
“If I had the strength right now I would obliterate this entire facility go after everyone responsible for all of this suffering.”
My mana body shone with an intense blue light as the anger began to boil over.
“Father… is that what we should do?” All of the mana bodies looked towards me their lights exuding an innocence.
The intensity of my blue light lowered as I calmed down.
I’m being inconsiderate.
Mixed into those words are my own feelings too about how the Blood Axis summoned me, destroyed my body with no care to its owner, and will probably do the same to my fellow classmates and more importantly my friends.
“No, forget what I said. Feel how you want to feel. But promise me that you’ll at least won’t give up your personal freedom.”
My feelings towards Laurent and the Blood Axis are set I won’t drag others into this needlessly. Not only that but my intuition tells me my grievances will not end without more bloodshed. Its just a shame it was Eurval’s and mine to have spilled first.
“We shall father.”
A bashful smile broke on my face being called father, definitely not something I could use to quickly.
With those words, I left the shared realm back into the world. I had some things I wanted to ponder alone.
I’ve already figured being from Earth makes me a special specimen for the people here. I am also sure it wasn’t just me that was brought to this world so I doubt they will be handing over my fellow earthlings willingly. Considering the investment that was put into creating this place for me getting them back will be difficult.
I was only able to find this place because I was directly associated. The world of Erd is large even if I have the ability to pass through their wards I need to know where they are first.
“I just hope the data cubes have even a morsel of any information about this when I comb through them…”
We would embark in a day. At best I could stagger the escapes since the ones closest to the bottom floor where freed first, but even then there would be backlog.
I leaned back on the stool inside a lab on the seventh floor. These where the first and they would be the first to regain their strength. This was also where I had finished ransacking again for anything of remote value — All the other stools included.
“Time I figure out why they wanted my body so much.” I stood up and walked to the center of the room to the large open area.
A gust of wind pushed past me when I dropped the massive chunk of building along with the large enclosure with the stew of my body was being kept — Or what was left.
With a bit of mana, I made the glass casing spread open to allow a nice hole at the top.
“When absorbing essence people want to to use it to change either by gaining traits from a hyre or increasing their bodily strength, but here I’m hoping that this stew is enough to return me to my former self.”
I was amused at the irony.
“They said my essence was hard to absorb let us see if that holds true for the person its rightfully for.”
A massive version of Demonic Hunter’s Heart speared to cover me and the large tank in front.
No need to bother with turning it into an essence orb, I’ll just do the transfer directly. I closed my eyes and sat down within the large spell formation.
“Come to me!”
A storm of black clouds sprung up from the whole I had made. I had a hunch the glass was somehow isolating. A torrent of pure black smoke poured out filling the entire space within confines of the spell on the ground.
“This is too much for just some bones, an eye, and a face…”
This was much more of me than I thought!
“The milky liquid wasn’t just for keeping the embryos alive. It is where most of my body must have dissolved into for the incubation process.”
I had thought seven-thousand or so was the upper limit of how many lucids was possible with one body, but I was wrong, seven-thousand is just the amount they have been able to make so far.
Although drained continually they weren’t dead because they never were able to drain all of the essences from each lucid after all this time. That’s how hard it was to extract my essence. That means, although now disfigured, each lucid should be quite strong.
The clear liquid must have had some kind of sedative too, else they could have broken free.
But isn’t the success rate is too high for having only seven-thousand?
They have had years and could produce 600 lucids a day since the success rate is over 50%.
I pushed the question back as I put forth my concentrations towards what was going to happen once I absorb this monsoon of essence.
The density within the large area of the spell was high enough that I could feel it seeping into my body without any help. Of course, it also had to do with being my own.
“Shit, I didn’t expect I too would be stuck here for a day.”
I had set up some wards on the first floor and in the basement along with some trap arrows at the entrance of this lab, but that was because I was going to rest here not be completely immobile.
It helped me feel at ease that all my ransacking and releasing of lucids hadn’t tripped any alarms. Else, I was sure someone would have appeared in an instant.
“This is too good to pass up.”
After weighing benefits of stopping or continuing against each other I figured this massive jump in pure physical strength was worth to have as soon as possible.
The sooner I can move the better I could feel.
With a laser focus, I began to forcefully absorb the essence completely raw into myself making sure not a single spec of this smoke went to waste.