Chapter 47: A Foggy Future
“You know what.” I put a hand up to stop them.
“Before you hand those over we should introduce ourselves first.”
Now that the fight was over strong-arming them like this… felt awkward. I’m not going to take everything they have, don’t get me wrong, but I do want food, clothes, and money as dipping into my guild points felt like a big waste.
Consider this, reparations.
“I’ll go first,” I spoke.
“My name is Lucid Gracile and as you can see I was the ‘subject’ all the homunculi were infused with. I won’t tell why or how but I came to release them from this facility. I had planned to escape unnoticed, but in the end, my presence alerted you somehow.”
The lanky pale man studied my words for a bit before shaking his head as if he realized something.
“So the large swing in success rate was probably due to you being here… I had come to find the reason as to why, and it seems I have found it.”
After those words he looked at me. In his bright sun colored eyes that contrasted his icy appearance, his gaze passed over me before returning to looking at the ground.
I didn’t like that gaze he was feeling me up trying to decipher me as a person. I know because I often do it too. Ingrained in me since my eternal battle with Alice.
“My lord, while we intend to honor this agreement of servitude, we would be grateful to hear the specifics.” His voice was serious.
After signing their life away to someone else who wouldn’t be. But he seemed to be taking this development as the norm it was par course they would want to know the outlook of the rest of their lives.
Fortunate for them, I don’t plan to keep them chained to me forever. Maybe the people of the world are fine with it and do just that, but I intend to only keep them as my servants, which is the polite way to say slave, until I feel they have done enough. It sounds cold but I mean it in the most tender way a person speaking of their slaves can say it. However, before I do undo the binding I will force them to swear secrecy.
I would be stupid not to think they don’t have loyalties elsewhere so I’ll be careful.
“Specifics on the services I expect?”
From their conversations, I can see these two where close. How close I should test and find out. The more I know about them the better I can use them.
Hearing my response they both looked up towards me.
I sent a lecherous scan at the woman beside him as panning my eyes over the two. To be fair she was beautiful, flawless skin, a defined body, and a face that lacked the scheming eyes of the man beside her.
Slowly, I took in their reaction.
She didn’t seem to notice the creepy stare, but he sure did. The change in his expression went from a serious one to a grave one in an instant, before hiding itself back to serious.
In a winner take all world this was to be expected.
So he cares for her.
I shifted my gaze back to the man. At least I know I’m not dealing with someone unfeeling. I had some inclinations to think that seeing how they treated the lucids.
“As I said I will be letting you keep your most of your autonomy and human rights but I ask that you help me achieve a couple goals. First, freeing them from here.”
I pointed at one of the empty rooms where the lucids had slept for years.
“Second, securing a place where they can safely live on their own. And third, is a bit long so we will talk about it later.”
The third being helping find the others who might have been summoned like me.
I waved my hand at them to speak.
They looked at each other their eyebrows raised slightly. Their bodies lightened with a little less despair dragging them down, especially at the revelation of their human rights.
Just because I’ve been in a new world for a good while doesn’t mean my worldview has completely changed. Some stuff obviously has but I do hope my core values don’t…
Whether that will be possible after a long period of time I can’t say.
The lanky man spoke first.
“My name is Eystil Neysil, my lord, I am the lead manager and lead researcher for this leg of the Stabilization project.”
Stabilization Project? I had a question but held my tongue and moved my eyes to the woman.
“And I am Frium Neysil, my lord, I am the designated transport, head of security, and guard assigned to Eystil.”
“You two are siblings?”
That explained his reaction a little more.
“Yes my lord, Frium is my younger sis—”
“Adoptive, younger sister my lord” Frium sent Eystil a glare speaking over him.
“Frium, is my adoptive sister since before she could even crawl and didn’t know she was adopted until she turned fifteen, my lord.”
A loud pause followed the sudden information.
“You…can drop the lord and refer to me as Lucid.”
I had contemplated on having them call me Henry, but I felt that was too much information and similarly Lumi was too little. Lucid was the perfect middle ground.
Speaking of lucid…
The many lucids, my clone-homunculi hybrids, began to pour in from the stairway and the front doors which was unlocked when the two entered. They flowed in surrounding us standing perfectly straight, the ones that could, and perfectly lined in rows.
It was an odd sight as if I had walked into a house of mirrors completely nude, well maybe not so much anymore as I looked more like my old self with a dash of lucid sprinkled on top.
The two frowned looking a bit nervous surrounded by so many lucids.
“I had planned to pay for a small village to be built on the unclaimed lands to the west, I was going to go about it myself and try to be discreet, but with you two now…”
“As a gauge for your capabilities, I will leave it to you.”
I let my words be filled with a coldness in them an attempt to scare them a bit and remind them of their position, I think it is necessary.
““We will see to it that we do not disappoint you Lucid.”“ They both said.
With my request, the two finally stood up after having been on one knee the entire time.
Frium’s words rung sincere, but Eystil’s not so much. I don’t believe the fear of being killed or punished was the best motivator in the long run. However, for the moment it would do fine.
Considering how easy it is to create towns with estate treasures I had more than enough to buy decent ones with guild points I had left. The bigger task was transporting over seven thousand people.
“Frium do you have the ability to teleport more than just another person?”
“I do, however, with such a large amount of people I will overreach to cover long distances quickly.”
Her attitude was a bit more positive, unlike her brother who seemed like he was already planning something.
I thought for a moment. She accepted her fate much more quickly than I would have. A stark difference from her dismay before chanting the oath. I put her far into the camp that believes that the strong are rightful to rule over the weak, seeing something like this as fair.
As I’ve often heard repeated, “you can only blame yourself for being too weak.”
“You won’t have to do that, how much time would you need to bring all of us to the outer borders of the Blood Axis? Do you think there is enough time before others know of what has happened here?”
The northern continent was gigantic. Speculants roamed free in the unclaimed lands conquering dungeons away from the eye of the guild. Lawless, but also the reason why sects, clans, schools, and kingdoms can form out of thin air. If their backing is strong enough no one would deny their authority. No one wants to pick a fight with Laurents of the world even if it is winnable the cost isn’t worth it.
“If each of… your kin can share the load by pouring mana into a talisman I provide, it should be possible with thirty or so jumps in total. I’ve had experience with moving large battalions. I can have them at least to the outer borders within 100 hours and if reality allows it a little further. ”
Teleporting battalions for thousands?
War must be a nightmare game of chess.
I nodded my head, “once you find the estate treasures to house them along with the necessary supplies we’ll head out. How long until others part of the Stabilization project realize something is amiss?”
“With reassurance from us, I doubt they will know until the delivery of essence doesn’t arrive early next month.”
That was reassuring, although strong, I can’t wield any of it well enough to fight a squadron or someone stronger than these two.
I don’t want to be here longer than necessary.
With the introductions over I took the large frozen ice shard necklace from Frium and a similar bracelet from Eystil.
I sent my mana into the own items binding them easily.
Holy shit they’re rich!
Estate treasures, expensive materials, rare books, rare weapons. If this was any indication their accounts must be filled with all kinds of currencies. I took out my phone and began taking inventory of everything.
“I’ll take 90%.” I looked at them stating my intentions.
Even with taking 90% of all their wealth they where not going be wanting for wealth.
“You two aren’t nobles right? Or come from a wealthy connected family?”
Eystil and Frium shook their heads.
“Before obtaining the positions we have now we would conquer dungeons together we use to be speculants that specialized in ice based dungeons.”
“Inside is our amassed wealth from then and our salaries now.” Frium added.
I was tempted to move most of the account balances into my own, but stopped. They will be the ones that will be buying everything necessary for the micro self-sufficient town I have in mind.
Speaking of that, I think its time to find out everything there is to know about this place.
“Follow me, I have many questions about this facility, my kin, me, and about being summoned.”
Although the oath was active I still had them walk in front of me as I pointed them to a small intact room at the far corner.
“The Stabilization Project?” I sat in a small conference room listening to Eystil speak for the last hour.
Frium sat in silence as she listened in too, it looked like she was learning things she didn’t know.
I trusted the words Eystil spoke mostly due to the oath making him unable to harm me in any way, but also how his understanding on the subject of human cloning techniques, embedded magic, and understanding of the soul flowed out effortlessly with conviction.
Easily able to describe the process of creating the homunculi-clone hybrids in a digestible way. I’m sure it helped that I had a base knowledge of what was possible on Earth. However, for much of the magic and soul parts, I understood little.
Despite their young appearance, appearing to be in their twenties, the timeline they gave me of their work told me they were past fifty and had been working here for the last twenty years. Only having started the extraction of my man juice a little over four years ago.
Their age wasn’t surprising as I knew leaving the apostle stage meant aging slowed to a crawl. What was slightly interesting was the confirmation that age didn’t necessarily mean maturity in this world. Their attitude contrasted the high age — They felt young. Whether it was a ploy to get me to be comfortable around them in hopes I let my guard down is possible, but for now it seemed genuine.
I bet it’s their youth the reason behind as to why they seemed so open to being uprooted from their positions forcefully.
The history lesson continued as the thoughts of their possible betrayal floated in my head.
Eystil had been brought in a little after the system was designed with the job of minimizing the loss on the soul and essence from the summoned people that would come.
We, humans from Earth, are basically a precious resource that takes a shocking amount of effort to obtain.
We weren’t the first batch to be summoned it was common for kingdoms and countries to do it before magic and essence training developed as far as it is now. And it wasn’t just people from Earth like me either. Summoned people had been used for their massive strength, powerful souls, or vast mana pools to resolve crises with brute strength.
However, we, from Eystil’s words, are the first to be summoned with the specific goal to be drained the way I had been. As to why they didn’t obtain the souls with the bodies was due to an unforeseen error occurring during the summoning.
The summons being me and everyone else on the bus except the bus driver. In Eystil’s planning notes the driver wasn’t divined to die because he was the only one with a seat belt.
“So we were supposed to die…”
I didn’t know how to feel, in a way they saved us, but in another way, we were never supposed to “wake up.”
“Yes, historically summoned people are our world’s heroes. Many couldn’t bear cutting the life short of people from other worlds, especially from worlds who had helped us. So we settled on humans from Earth who were divined to die.”
They say that like it’s a grand gesture. Didn’t they cut the life short for those “heroes” of the past, their life on Earth ended.
“Past heroes of the Niefule Empire were all people who did not want to live in their world anymore. So-called shut-ins, also those with aspirations to be heroes, or those who simply wish to be reborn in a world with magic.”
I kept a straight face when Eystil tacked on the last statement.
This guy… is good at reading the mood and understanding other perspectives quickly. I have to praise his people reading ability.
“Wait, empire? You two aren’t from the Blood Axis?”
Eystil shook his head.
“Our appearances, the appearances of the subje—, I mean your kin… are all based off the people of the Niefule Empire of the high north.”
Pesca’s comments flashed in my mind.
“If you two aren’t from the Blood Axis why are you, you know, within the borders of the Blood Axis? Working on secret government project? Is there a joint agreement, doesn’t this break some kind of treaty I assume?”
Like on Earth I’m sure no country would be happy to know another was operating covert missions on their soil.
“We had no choice. Besides this area is impossible to be located. Lisuliam set up a massive web of stealth, mental, and divination blocking wards. No one but him and those he allows can enter. We are confident enough to state that those who know of the secret area’s existence but have not been granted access will not find it.”
Just like I had been told, they really didn’t expect anyone to find this place.
I looked at him for a moment.
“Or… we consider so for the last century as Lisuliam has always been hired for jobs like this without a single fault. It seems the perceived safety made us lax in our own security measures.”
“You also said you had no choice, why?”
“This facility was set here because this precise location has been divined with the highest success rate for the given sample, you.”
So that’s why…
I couldn’t help but chuckle. The sleepy town of Civieto that’s mostly known outside as a tourist destination was right beside a deep secret of the empire that loomed above the Blood Axis.
More importantly, I now know divinations aren’t perfect. Although it was correct, it is probably because in the future I would come and heavily affect the success rate of a single batch. There are probably other locations with the same success except ever so slightly lower due to the fact I would never come because the Scale priest wouldn’t have had passed through the forest.
“If not summoned as heroes why do you need our essence and souls now? I’ve seen the power the natives from this world have now. Arc Argent? The many heroes that are shown on tv? The future legends and geniuses like Runter? Why did you need us didn’t you say your magic developed?”
Eystil was about to speak, but Frium finally spoke up.
“Lucid, have you not realized the strength you wield innately? You took my strongest single person attack head-on with no injuries! Not a single bruise from the pure blunt force the teeth cause. I am famous within the Niefule army for its single person killing power as it can weaken the affliction field directly. An ability only seen among the strongest dragon-type hyres. Although I was at a large disadvantage, mentally exhausted and low on mana, I am not sure that I could win in pure one versus one combat in perfect condition.”
Frium flashed at me a gaze that said she wanted to fight again she probably wanted to know of my true fighting strength as she thinks I was toying with her with my inexperience with a spear.
This girl…I can tell she has a thirst for battle.
I do plan to have her teach me how to wield a spear.
It serves a way to hide my lack of high-level combat ability. My bow abilities are good but they’re nothing at the highest level. The main reason, of course, is so I can learn to use wield a spear from a master instead of relying on self-learning.
I didn’t respond to Frium as I let Eystil continue the discussion, it seemed even Frium was in the dark about many details as she paid close attention too.
“The vague start of the Stabilization Project began a bit over a millennia ago sparked from a divination by Lady Niefule.”
I tilted my head at the unfamiliar name. It was obvious she was important hearing she shared the name with the place they come from.
Eystil picked up on it and added, “she is most known for her final legacy where she used her lifespan to divine the future for the prosperity and protection of her homeland, the Niefule kingdom she was the eldest princess and set to inherit the throne. She divined all the events that would come after her death and the book she wrote it to become the backbone that turned her homeland into the empire it is now.”
Predict the far-out future?
After learning how much they divined into our deaths to get the appropriate data for the summoning I don’t doubt the ability of a supreme diviner.
“How far into the future did Lady Niefule divine?”
“A thousand years. All the events known to the public have happened exactly as worded in her final writings, same for the events which the empire never released. It is why two centuries ago the empire looked into and funded the true start of the Stabilization project to prepare for the future Lady Niefule couldn’t see.”
“As to why two centuries ago? It is because it marked the rise of the fog clouding the future for Lady Niefule. Even with the burning of her lifespan, she could see it getting thicker and thicker the further she peered forward. Almost a week ago marked the period where she could no longer divine anything at all.”
Using the data files Eystil provided I opened up a brief summary of Lady Niefule. She shared the same characteristics of the two in front of me most notably was her face held an expression of extreme confidence, a boldness showing through her thick eyebrows.
“I had thought the people from the far north were unconcerned with what the rest of the world does, isn’t this meddling?”
I wasn’t completely oblivious to this world’s cultures and knew a few snippets of general knowledge.
Eystil paused, “for the most part that is true the Niefule Empire and the kingdoms within don’t rely on much interaction or trade with the rest of the globe, however, the empire is scared. There has never been a situation where we didn’t have Lady Niefule’s divinations to rely on until now.”
They lost their training wheels is what he’s saying…
“Did Lady Niefule divine the need or us to be summoned and drained? This was all planned before the writings stopped, no?”
Eystil seemed apprehensive about talking about it but compelled through the oath he would have to answer if I forced him to.
“The writings towards the end became very vague, the Stabilization project is mostly the modern Niefule Empire’s own creation. We used our own in house diviners and lead summoning researchers for this.”
“Vague? So, you summoned us on a whim? You don’t even know what you’ve prepared all of this for?”
I scoffed letting out a quick snort, all this torture of thousands of lucids for really no good reason.
I had thought they knew some powerful hyre would appear that would wreak havoc so they needed us for some greater good bullshit.
“The final pages. The final pages, clearly stated when the star of Rodus centers itself above her altar it will mark the moment the world will witness an ascension that will be era-defining.”
An ascension? Someone leaving the apostle stage? That’s it!
Like a chicken without head is how I saw the Niefule Empire. Without the guiding hand of Niefule they don’t know what to do.
“And where is the star now?”
Silence struck again.
“The… star of Rodus is a, hmm, a unique celestial body. Its movements are random. At times it appears close, other times far, and often completely gone. It has only gotten close to Niefule’s altar grimoire twice once last year.”
I felt my blood shoot straight into my head.
“You’ve built up Niefule in my head as some kind of godly diviner, it’s honestly starting to feel like she just made everything up towards the end. Didn’t you say she was using her lifespan? Wouldn’t age affect her divination?”
Frium frowned hearing my disparaging words.
“Niefule’s health had turned for the worse when she began the final pages, often not strong enough to use her divination grimoires. She sacrificed herself for her people after having lost her immortality, I doubt with such conviction she would just make it up.” Frium shot back.
Seeing the slightly confrontational attitude Eystil spoke up in a neutral tone.
“While many have faith that this final divination is correct, there is a large sentiment growing that she was too far gone in the end. A loud minority of progressives that are pushing that she was afraid her powers wilted so she lied knowing this final divination could not be disproven by picking the star of Rodus. The second to last divined event happened over 300 years ago foretelling the rise of Laurent and the need to build a friendly connection to him. With nothing for so long makes this final one is truly testing the faith of the people. The empire is full of unrest.”
Truly, a headless chicken.
“Because of this unrest the top members of the Empire are running scared funding all these ethically questionable projects is what I’m hearing. Tell me, where are the rest of the summoned bodies and how can I get them?”
Eystil and Frium looked at each other with the same look they gave prior to accepting the oath that bound them to me before beginning to speak. They did the have choice of killing themselves.
Luckily it didn’t happen as they began to search through their databases scrapping together everything they knew once more.
This conversation will be a long one.
“Settle down inside and find a place to rest for a bit more.” I sent a message to all the lucids.
“I’ll bring food, clothing, and blankets in a bit. If anyone has any injuries don’t be afraid to speak up.”
With the notice, they all found a place inside the vast building sitting down while avoiding the burnt, frozen, and destroyed areas.