Twenty days went by. The roaring and screaming lasted for half a day before Delias’s voice gave out. Two more days, with his soundless screams, before his heart came next. By now, all that was left on the platform were the insect-like creatures. Their heads were of a brighter red, and the silver veins pulsed as they laid still. They had been still like that for the past three days, when the last of them consumed the final bit.
Malkivo was there. His eyes were red. He had not moved from that spot the entire time. Another day passed, and then another. Now four more days had gone. The green-robed man appeared. He was older. His head was full of white and his flesh was filled with wrinkles. He moved slowly, and his breath was labored. The green-robed man stood right next to Malkivo and watched the platform.
“It begins.” He uttered. His voice sounded ancient, still retaining its mystifying power. His eyes, though they were now like Delias’s, a circle, they still held on to that pervasiveness as if Delias was but prey.
Malkivo said nothing, and soon, the creatures woke up. They moved once again, slowly at first, and then fast. They crowded together and formed a giant red-white ball. And then the creatures melted. They turned into a pink liquid that soon formed into the shape of a human. The liquid solidified.
Another day went by. By now the green-robed man’s skin was shedding. His eyes had completely greyed out, and a dark and soul crushing energy emanated from him. This was death. An aura of death.
The human shaped solid cracked. And in a blink of an eye, turned to pink sand. It was now that Malkivo walked forward. He took a deep breath and blew. The pink sand few off the platform in seconds, revealing a naked form. It was of a young man. He did not look older than sixteen, and had long, silky black hair, and he was average in height. He was not beautiful, but he was not bad on the eyes. He was average.
The green-robed man licked his lips. He walked forward, standing over the young man. He waited. An hour… two. Time flew, and the green-robed man frowned. His frowned deepened as nothing happened.
“Why?! Why hasn’t it come?!” He roared. “I followed the procedure. It should have worked!”
He turned to face Malkivo. Malkivo’s face was pale. It seemed he knew what this ordeal meant to the green-robed man; knew what cost it brought him, as well as what would happen should it fail.
“Could it be…” Malkivo began.
“What?! Say it, boy!”
Malkivo frowned too. “Could it be that he’s dead?”
The green-robed man shuddered. He looked towards the young man. He did not see him breathe or move. Not even a twitch. But that was common. That was why he had not checked him out, and just waited. What mattered was if the life force in the body maintained a certain threshold. If it didn’t, the body would never wake, and any life force that was in the body would eventually waste away.
The green-robed man rushed closer to the platform. He quickly flicked his hand down, and laid it down on the young man’s chest. He closed his eyes. The green-robed man’s hand twitched.
“No!” He was dismayed. There was still life force in the body, but it was infinitesimal. If the body did not obtain some, it would die, and he would not get what he wanted. But to provide the body with life force would come at a cost to his own. Only… the green-robed man’s five hundred mark was hours away. He did not have the life force to spend. Once he turned five-hundred, regardless of how powerful he was, the laws of the world, of the realm from the heavens, would descend down upon him, and turn him to dust. If he gave some of that life force away, he was not sure how much time he would have left.
The green-robed man looked to Malkivo. Even if he was willing, I can’t use his life force. It would be the same as him being the contract holder and I would still get nothing. There was only one option left. The green-robed man was hesitant, but his hesitation went away once he thought about it some more.
Malkiovo stood by the side. The green-robed man was his master. He had stood side by side that man for a decade. He learned from him, and grew more powerful with him. But that was not why he stuck with the man. Malkivo’s aim was something more precious than the knowledge the green-robed man had given him. And that was fire.
This was not some ordinary fire. It was legacy fire. Such a fire, if tended to, could grow within the body and significantly increase one’s chance to obtain ascension. Malkivo desperately wanted this. He had somehow found out that the green-robed man obtained this fire. The fire was too precious for anyone else to know, else more powerful competitors would just kill the green-robed man and take it. So Malkivo waited. He became an assistant, a pupil, and learned dutifully.
Malkivo knew it took twenty years to tend to the legacy fire. When the green-robed man obtained the fire, he had only fifteen years of his entire five-hundred years of longevity. Malkivo believed that all he had to do was wait patiently, and when the old man died, it would all be his.
But then suddenly, he watched in shock as the old man, slammed his palm on the body on top of the platform. Blue legacy fire burst forth from his hands.
He’s attempting to convert the legacy fire to life force and give it to him! Damn it! “NO!” Malkivo roared. He pounced to stop the old man. He had formed a contract with the green-robed man, one bound by heaven, so he could not kill him, but that did not mean Malkivo could not shove him away and let him die on his own. That way, the fire would not be given off.
Boom! A soundless roar shook Malkivo’s core. He stopped, and fell to his knees. The will of the fire placed pressure on him, lowering his head to the ground. He spat blood.
Within darkness, Delias floated. He felt nothing, heard nothing. He floated within the black void for what seemed like an eternity. It was then that the black void brightened. Beneath him, a blue and white flame erupted, shrouding and soundlessly cackling all around him. It was like he was in a gigantic sphere, flames all around him, hundreds of meters out. That was the first thing he saw.
Delias felt small. There was no heat coming from the flames. There was no coldness. There was no sound, only a flickering brightness.
Delias turned round and round. Everywhere around him was blue and white. He roamed and roamed until he realized the amount of space within the sphere became smaller. It was slowly converging in on him. Delias stayed still. He had no feelings about the fire. He felt no fear. He seemed numb to the world. But there was something unmistakeable about the flame that bothered him. It was like an itch under his skin, but of the mind. He racked his head to remember, remember what was bothering him.
He had no knowledge of his past. He had no presence or thought towards his future. The fire was only a meter away, when suddenly it shrunk. It was so quick, that it startled Delias. And that startlement was the first feeling he had. His body shook, and as the fire seemed to burn him, consuming his ethereal flesh, he roared. His body felt hot. His chest felt a timeless pressure.
Boom! Something within his body echoed, and that sound rang again. The booming continued. Over and over, and as the blue flame seemed to consume him, and as it seemed that Delias’s lungs squeezed, he breathed.
Delias had taken breath. A breath for the first time. He breathed in fire. And like that, he woke.
Delias propped up. He felt hot. He looked over to see a hunched over, old man. He looked at the man in confusion, but it wasn’t until he smelt the mind, and saw the fresh green robe did he remember who the man was.
“It’s you!” Delias gasped. His lungs filled up with the room’s cold air. He hacked and coughed, but took the time to look to the old man standing over him.
The man’s face was pale and skewed. Delias looked passed the man over to the figure kneeling low on the ground, blood dripping from the corner of his mouth.
The old man just looked at Delias. That look was ancient and filled with death. Delias’s throat clenched. He could say nothing. And that pressure amplified. And just as he thought his body could take no more, a suction sound came from the left. The suction sound grew louder and louder, but the air remained still. Nothing moved. Then pop! Delias shivered. He felt cold and empty, as if he lost something, something important and dear to him.
Within the room, the air distorted, and an orange-red pool opened up, its surface perpendicular to the ground. It was almost like… A portal!
The green-robed man’s eyes shifted from Delias. He looked towards the portal. A stone stele morphed into the room on top of the portal, an engraving etching in the stone.
The engraving was slow, but it finished within minutes. It was that of Delias!
The green-robed man looked upon the engraving and smiled. He walked towards it. His walk was slow and timeless. And as he gradually arrived before the portal, his smile turned into a laugh. He laughed and laughed, and tears came down his cheeks.
The green-robed man took one more glance at Delias, his eyes shining, and hopped in.