'I sense that you have reached the very same conclusion I have,' said Fler'Gan.
'The Chrysalis is growing a soul? Is that even possible?' said Aldrich. He scraped his memory for all the lore he knew in Elden World and found he could not think of a single instance where a creature spontaneously just made a soul for themselves. "The closest I can think of are golems implanted with pure souls.
Souls emptied of any memories or individuality from their past owner that could 'color' them. But that isn't making a new soul, that's just recycling an old one.
This also isn't like that. My soul is not 'pure' in that way. It has all my memories. It has all of who I am.'
'Indeed. I have also thus ruled out that possibility,' said Fler'Gan. 'But there is one additional way in which a soul may be created, and that is through the birth of new life. Through reproduction. That way, even beings with fully unique souls may produce an entirely new soul.'
'Hold up, are you suggesting that somehow, this Chrysalis is…birthing itself?' said Aldrich.
'Indeed. My current hypothesis is that it is incubating itself within your soul, utilizing it as a template to create its own much like a child's soul may take some aspects of the personality from their parents,' said Fler'Gan. 'I am wondrously excited for the birth of this Chrysalis.
By possessing a soul and taking in your magical energy, it will be a perfect example of a creature that has managed to merge both mana and ether. That is not even beginning to mention the vast increase of its current powers.'
'That's mildly disturbing, even as a Lich,' said Aldrich. It reminded him of a movie called Xeno involving aliens that used humans as incubators, throwing out face hugging spider like creatures that planted eggs into human bodies. 'But so long as there is not a risk to me, it should not be an issue.'
'My Phylactery possesses multiple failsafe mechanism to protect against damage to your soul. It is one of the most basic components of creating a Phylactery.
After all, if it was possible to detect and destroy a Lich by simply exorcising their soul through their Phylactery, they would be far less of a threat,' said Fler'Gan. 'The moment an anomaly is detected within the Phylactery, it would destroy the Chrysalis.
Not to mention that as its master, you hold more than enough sway to prevent it from ever harming you.'
'True. I am probably being overly cautious,' said Aldrich.
'There is never such a thing as being too careful,' said Fler'Gan.
'Also true. I'll leave you to your defense, then, Fler'Gan. Make sure Stella doesn't blow something up,' said Aldrich.
'Ah, that may be a feat far too difficult for me,' sighed Fler'Gan. 'This generation of young ones, especially in this world, is far too rowdy for the likes of my aged tendrils to deal with. Good luck, Elder. May this tumultuous night of battle see its end under your might.'
With that, Fler'Gan's connection cut off, leaving Aldrich in the quiet hum of the carrier plane as it auto piloted out of Haven.
"Where shall we head to next?" said Volantis. "The center of this city where energy signatures gather the greatest? Where the stench and sight of death and battle emanates the strongest?"
"Soon. I can see through the storm I've taken over that the forcefield still hasn't fallen. I have enough time to touch base with the troops I put over Southside," said Aldrich. "I have a corpse there to raise and a person of interest to meet."
Aldrich thought about Minuteman. He had seen Minuteman fight all against the horde of variants via the eyes of his undead, and he had also witnessed how the man was willing to lay down his life to save the Duds in the bunker.
That was a rare quality of character that Aldrich respected. It reminded him greatly of his parents. Of heroes that were, well, heroes. He had heard of Minuteman before, actually, as by being a B ranker, Minuteman was fairly famous himself.
Minuteman had a wide reputation for being a man of equal and fair justice, but to see that it was not just a PR move and something that he actually believed in was heartening to see.
In this world full of greedy, devouring flames, it was good to see that there were a few fires that flickered to warm others, not just to burn and take.
"Then what of this air vessel?" said Volantis.
"There's no point keeping it," said Aldrich. "It isn't my property in the first place. And if it stays intact, the Panopticon might be able to scrounge data from it. Better to scrap it."
"Understood," said Volantis. "Shall I stitch something to allow for easier destruction of this vessel?"
"No need. I have more than enough firepower to deal with this," said Aldrich.
Aldrich knelt down and channeled his [Mist Phase]. Green mist welled up around him, surrounding his body as his body became increasingly transparent and obscured. He phased out of the plane, floating in the air using Volantis's stitched wings.
He saw the huge carrier fly away, shrinking rapidly in the distance. He looked away and clapped his hands before flying away, heading down towards the Panopticon bunker.
A booming rumble echoed above before an ear-splitting crack split the sky. A bright, blinding green light lit up the clouds as an enormous teal lightning bolt smashed into the carrier, blowing it apart in a brilliant nova of red and orange engine failure explosions, blue electrical energy shockwaves, and green energy arcs.
In a few minutes of soaring through the skies, Aldrich could spot the bunker. His draconic wings flapped downwards and folded as he dove down, rapidly approaching the ground. He could see the hundreds of fishmen corpses scattered across the bunker as proof of his victory.
The sparkling red and purple crystal sculpture that Chiros had crafted from the shark variant glinted with a pretty shimmer. Surrounding this crystallized corpse were all of his knights and the Blackwater A-class as they looked up.
Already, before Aldrich even reached the ground, the knights knelt down in reverent respect. As the knights knelt, it left one man standing, looking up right at Aldrich.
That man was Minuteman.
Aldrich landed on the ground with a solid crash, dirt, mud, and bloody fishmen parts flying back around him from the shockwave of his landing. He stood up, his draconic wings folding into his back before melding into his armor.
"My lord, how wonderful it is for you to grace us with your presence," said Chiros. He also remained standing, but he deeply bowed as he motioned to the shark variant, as if unveiling a brand new painting to him. "I have prepared for you a most elegant piece of art.
I daresay it has turned out quite well, in spite of the fact that I am working with material that is quite, well, unknown.
I have titled it [The Returning Tide]."
Aldrich stared at the crystallized shark variant, at how its blood had exploded outwards and turned solidified into a crystal prison that preserved the beast at the moment of its death. Notably, the ends of the crystallized blood were shaped into crests that mimicked waves.
As a vampire noble of the Adal bloodline, Chiros possessed a passive called [Crystal Blood Venom].
Any attack of his that drew blood inflicted stacks of the poison on an enemy, and if enough stacks built up across enough vital areas, then Chiros could use an active skill called [Expunge] to forcibly activate the venom, causing the blood of an enemy to spontaneously explode outwards and crystallize in an instant kill.
"It looks…good," said Aldrich somewhat awkwardly. He wanted to add something, but found he had no idea what to say. He was no art connoisseur. Never had been. But he felt bad not complimenting his subordinate, so he settled with a 'it was good'. "But I may have to break it down to raise the variant…"
"Ah." Chiros looked at the artwork he had created, realized it would soon be broken down, and slumped his shoulders. "It is of no matter, my lord. There is also a certain beauty in art that is meant to fade.
I shall rename this [The Moment of the Returning Tide], then, to symbolize that it is but a fleeting moment and to capture the force of the mighty blow I returned against this creature to fell it, like a tide that returns to the ocean."
"You-are you the leader of this team?" said Minuteman as he nodded at Aldrich. The makeshift bandaging around his torn stomach made from fishman skin had bled through. He held his right arm in pain as blood pooled from the massive bite wound on his right shoulder.