Chapter 2 – Memories (1)
“Damnable mongrels! They found me!” he cursed under his breath. “How did they find me again?!”
Just as he was beginning to activate the magic circle he took great pains to construct, these dimwits had found him. He had no idea how they always found him, as he already used all types of anti-divination spells, from lowest to highest tier. He spent an entire day casting them, even going as far as expending his entire mana pool, just to safely experiment with morally and ethically questionable theories.
He was quite excited to summon a demon to the world, but his enemy’s presence always spoiled his mood, especially when he was prepared to start the ritual.
It was widely believed that the reason ancient magic died out and sorcery began to be developed was due to a demon’s knowledge influencing a human with high status, which in turn influenced the other humans with high status. Sorcery was mostly seen as a dark art with demonic origin and, according to the teachings of the church, this is the reason for most sorcerers having a twisted personality – though most of that reputation was due to his actions.
Of course, that same Church was the one that burned almost all ancient magic books. With this information, it can be said that the rumor was partly wrong. The Church’s past leaders were vehemently against all types of spell-casting due to the demon summoning incident at the end of the First Era which prompted the start of the Second Era. Due to this irrational hatred for magic, they captured, tortured and maimed all sorcerers they came across. A past leader of the Church even tried to destroy their souls, thinking that they wouldn’t be able to be redeemed even after dying!
Since discovering his intentions, the Church interrupted his actions for more than four centuries. It wouldn’t have taken this long to gather all the materials he needed had the Church not hampered his progress for so long.
“Vile sorcerer, we have the building secured! Anti-magic measures have been taken! You cannot escape any longer! Surrender yourself and cease all we shall give you a quick death, fiend!”
He laughed while putting a demon beast’s eye and a witch’s nails in the middle of the circle. The summoning was close to being complete, so why would he stop now? They weren’t even close to this room anyways, so why should he worry?
“How many times have I heard that, Aelius? Do you want to kill me with your words? Is that it? I thought we were close friends…” he said, making an exaggerated sad tone, clearly mocking Aelius.
“Enough jokes, demon! You were never my friend! Using that vile sorcery to corrupt innocent people and guide them to an evil path, there’s no way I would be friends with someone of your kind!”
“I’m quite sad you think that way… we even shared a drink together! Remember?”
Though he couldn’t see the expression on the face of Aelius, he knew that Aelius was disgusted at his words and angered. If the one that followed him everywhere for more than a decade wasn’t a friend, then what else could they be? Of course, he had betrayed Aelius in the past once, turning him in to the Church for befriending a sorcerer, namely, himself, but that was all in the past, yeah?
He continued the ritual, laughing at his own antics while drawing euclidean two-dimensional geometric shapes on the ground, adding to the already-numerous shapes inside the magic circle.
“You know, had we not met in these circumstances, I would have invited you out for drinking, like the old times.” he chuckled. How could he not treat his only friend with courtesy?
Loud footsteps were heard, gradually coming closer. It seemed like a large number of armored people were approaching the ritual room with utmost haste.
With a thunderous sound, Aelius and a squad of holy knights barged into the summoning room filled with mystical symbols and circles. The entire room was then graced with a dazzling pale blue light – a byproduct of the strong attributeless mana being emitted from the strange circles engraved inside the room.
‘Hah! They’re probably thinking I’ve grasped ancient magic!’ he concluded.
Just as he expected, they indeed thought he had gotten his hands on an ancient magic spell book. Though this shocked them for a moment, they then remembered his past status and felt that it should have been expected.
‘A pity I only learned this summoning magic… It truly is a shame that I don’t have more access to these types of magic…’
The attributeless mana began to converge in the middle of the room, absorbing the natural mana in the environment and pushing the air away to create an opening in space. This spatial opening, with the help of the caster’s mana and the ambient mana, creates a seam in space that connects to either the ‘Spirit World’ or the ‘Abyss’, depending on the ritual. This was summoning magic.
The squad of holy knights hesitated for a moment, unsure as to what would happen if they got close to this menacing technique. However, Aelius thought different.
“This is our chance! He is focusing on completing the magic technique, he’s bound to be short on mana! His mana pool might be big, but ancient magic is known to consume a great amount of the user’s pool and mental strength!”
Enlightened, they began to buff themselves and their weapons with holy spells. They were used to fighting with fiends that used sorcery, though this one was rumored to be an unpredictable world-class danger. They just had to follow the already-established tactics to deal with a continent-class danger, so a world-class danger wouldn’t be too different… right?
He cackled. “You know not of my mana pool’s capacity, Aelius, nor do you know of my mental strength. In just five years of me vanishing from the spotlight, you’ve once again started underestimating my power?”
A crooked smile appeared on his charming face. “Then I must show you what it means to be powerless once again, old friend.”
At that moment, mana rapidly began to converge into the summoning circle in the middle of the room, creating shock waves and strong winds that would kill a normal human in seconds. It destroyed the windows inside the room. The mana then started to condense itself into a single point, aiming to create a type of gravitational singularity. After condensing itself, it then swelled itself to open a passage to another dimension. This was all programmed into the constructed magic circle, commanding the internal mana of the caster and the natural mana of the world to recreate the desired outcome.
“This! This is what I’ve been searching for! Knowledge no living man in this planet has ever gotten!” he cackled once again. “I’m closer to the origin! I can feel it!”
When the singularity had swelled enough for entry to be possible for human of average height, time seemed to freeze.
A strong smell of burnt flesh, iron and sulfur began to emanate. The room turned dark as a horned, tough-skinned, and ugly humanoid with an ogre-like face entered the room through the portal, unclothed. It held a half-eaten red goblin in its hand as it chewed on something else – quite possibly the missing part of the red goblin that had a terrified expression on its face. The red goblin’s only remains were its upper body, which seemed fresh, but also burnt. The humanoid seemed prefer to start eating from the bottom while the creature is alive… a distasteful hobby, to say the least.
The being noticed that it was summoned and became quite angry to have been summoned during its meal. Nonetheless, it ate at its own pace and ignored the shocked faces of the holy knights. After four bites, the half-eaten red goblin was nowhere to be seen.
“Greetings, mortal mage… For what matters have you summoned this great one in the midst of his meal?”
He found it strange to be called a mage, but payed no attention to it. “I have summoned you in search of knowledge, great one. I seek knowledge of the secrets of magic and mana.”
He courteously bowed, but the summoned being only furrowed its brows.
“Then, let us exchange.” it said, as per the rules.
Already expecting that the summoned being would ask for an exchange, he was not surprised.
“Of course, what would you like to have? I have all sorts of commodities I can give you.”
It chuckled. “I want you as a sacrifice.”
“Isn’t there something you want beyond that?”
“No. Your soul has an enticing smell. There is nothing more valuable than that.”
His face turned expressionless. How dare this barbaric demon think of obtaining his soul!
This was an insult to him. Even if the summoned being had knowledge on magic, he still valued his freedom. If he allowed himself to be taken by this demon, he wouldn’t be able to even think of stabbing it in the back. That is, if the demon merely took his soul and didn’t decide to eat it!
He considered this negotiation a failure, even when he hadn’t really haggled with the summoned being. He didn’t have much patience to deal with any negotiation anyways, as he would usually deal with most social interactions using brute force and intimidation. In addition to this impatience, he also had an unbearable pride and awful temper.
The demon’s statement angered him and hurt his pride. Though he could give up his body in search of the truth, he had to remain free to enjoy the knowledge he got. Gifting his soul to the demon was the same as closing all the doors to learning more about magic.
“Then negotiations have broken down.”
Suddenly, he grabbed an artifact with a single button from inside his long black coat. “I know I can’t defeat you, but I can take you down with me!”
The artifact being held looked unnatural, even by man-made standards.
A grotesque combination of bones and flesh, put together haphazardly in a bizarre manner, stitched together but also merged in a messy manner. The bones were distorted and the flesh pulsated, sometimes spasming uncontrollably, making a disgusting moist noise that violently infiltrated ones ears. The button that seemed normal at first was revealed to be a single eye, observing the surroundings in a chaotic manner. Blood appeared to be spilling out of the exposed pulsating flesh, but did not fall to the ground, instead forming a ring that circled around the bizarre device’s body. A human-like maw was visible at the artifact’s bottom, a creepy grin.
“I’ve always wondered where demons go after dying.” he said, laughing.
Aelius and the holy knights snapped back to reality after hearing what he said. They recognized the device he held. It was some awful bad news if that insane lunatic got his hands on one of those items!
“Stop! You madman! You’ve caused enough damage to this world! Don’t use it!” Aelius bellowed out in anger.
“Why should I listen to you at this point, old friend? Isn’t this what you wanted? For me to vanish from this world?” he continued. “Then I shall grant your wish today, Aelius.”
The summoned being payed no attention to the artifact. It only thought that an artifact made by a mere human would just tickle it. If it ran away from a backwater world such as this one due to a native human, it would become laughingstock for the rest of the Abyss – and no demon would want that to happen to themselves.
Seeing that the demon had underestimated him for being human, he pushed the button on the artifact and dropped it to the ground. A loud scream was heard from the artifact, even though it had no mouth. Its stitches came undone, revealing rows of sharp teeth and eyes that rapidly moved around. Tendrils made of flesh extended from the openings, being chewed on by the revealed teeth. The button-like eye turned red, crying blood. The artifact began to flail itself in numerous directions, spilling blood and leaving masses of flesh everywhere it passed. A thick smell of blood permeated the room.
A loud wail was heard from the artifact, causing acute headaches for those who listened. The demon, in particular, felt that the artifact was an unimaginable threat, as he felt a great pain he had never felt.
‘How did mere humans in a backwater planet get hold of this artifact?! Fuck being humiliated in the Abyss, my life is more important!’
The demon, however, never had any choice. The portal, different from the traditional summoning magic circle, didn’t have a ‘return summoned being’ feature. The demon, without any door to return to the Abyss, could only rely on its knowledge of dimensional openings. Unfortunately, he was specialized in destruction-type sorcery, not space-time sorcery.
He, noticing the demon’s plight, laughed at it.
Despite having an intense physical and metaphysical reaction from just looking at the artifact, never mind hearing its screams, Aelius remembered something. That familiar laugh reminded him of something of the past.
“Since I know it’s impossible to stop the artifact now, let me say something first! You still owe me 120 gold coins! You fucking greedy son of a-”
And then… everything vanished.