Chapter 184: Complete Overhaul
As the [Outer Mist Phase] took Aldrich, Valera, and the Death Lord to the Nexus in a warp, Aldrich asked Valera, "By the way, what were you doing out there? If everyone else is in the Nexus still?" "Well, I wanted the privilege of seeing you rst, master," said Valera. "Did I... do anything wrong? Perhaps I left the Legion unattended?" "No, it's ne. I'm sure you wouldn't have left them if you didn't think their safety atleast somewhat guaranteed," said Aldrich with a nod that Valera smiled at. "My, young love – such a wonderful sight to see. Sickeningly sweet, I must say," said the Death Lord as she frowned and waved her hand, speeding up the [Outer Mist Phase]. "W-what, it is not like that!" protested Valera. "Not yet at least, no, what am I saying – I am his Guardian Knight! It would go against my vows to fall for the one I am sworn to defend." "Yes, yes, because rules are never broken, of course," said the Death Lord as she rolled her eyes and twirled her pipe, causing the warp to nalize.
The mist that gathered around the group uxed and thickened, and in the next instant, Aldrich felt his vision blacken and his body grow weightless as he underwent the warp. When the darkness faded away, Aldrich found himself staring at an enormous pillar of pure green, crystallized energy.
The crystal structure looked like the branches of a tree stretching upwards, latching onto an incredibly high ceiling of dark stone that stood almost a hundred meters high. "You've made the place much bigger," noted Aldrich as he looked around. The
Nexus was originally a small space that functioned more like an audience chamber to meet with the goddess Amara, so it was limited in space.
Now, though, Aldrich found himself inside a massive hallway that could easily seat an entire football stadium inside of it.
This was a complete and utter overhaul of the entire Nexus. No, this place could not even be called the same anymore.
Aldrich heard a massive commotion behind him, and he turned around to see his Legion, or at least the monstrous units he had decided to take into the
Nexus, all gathered, ready to meet him.
At the head of them stood Okeanos with the Geist, Crab, and Merman behind the Locus. "Glad to see you all made it," said Aldrich with a smile. "We are happy to see you, master," said Okeanos with a bow of his head. "We waited long." 'Long? It's barely been a day,' thought Aldrich, but then again, he had heard the exact same thing from Valera. He did not complain, though. It just meant his units were that loyal to him. "Geh! (You're back!)" said the Geist. "Gehgeh (When do we ght again?)"
The crab monsters Aldrich had under his command waved their pincers in the air in their signature dance, and Crab followed along with its giant pincers, probably having taken a liking to the dance and practiced it. "Khos-Khal! (The king is returned!)" said Merman as he clasped his many hands together in a gesture of deference. "Geh? (What are you doing?)" The Geist clasped his hands together to mimic
Merman. "Khos-Vul (Praising the king)" said Merman.
The Geist showed his clasped hands to Merman. "Geh? (Like this?)" "Vo. Mil-Kan-il-Khos-Vul (Yes. But the more arms bound together, the greater the respect shown)," said Merman. "Gehgeh! (Oh, then like this!)" The Geist focused on his hands and shuddered before explosively growing out an additional pair of much thinner arms, clasping them together. "Moro (Better)," said Merman.
At that moment, from the back, the Zombie Giant roared and beat his chest to acknowledge Aldrich's return, completely drowning out every other sound in a thunderous burst of volume. "Geh...(He's too loud)," said the Geist. "Vo. (Yes)," agreed Merman.
Aldrich saw that development and noted how incredibly fast the Geist was growing in training its powers. It had gured out how to apply its explosive growth ability not just to heal its wounds, but to grow entirely new body parts as well.
That made Aldrich consider the Geist even higher for Dark Wisdom levels. "Your Legion has grown so much," said Valera as she stood by Aldrich, smiling as she looked at the diverse crowd of creatures of all shapes and sizes interacting with each other. "Far greater than it has ever been when you were a mortal." "Our Legion has grown," corrected Aldrich. "Without you, I wouldn't have had the repower or defensive capability to make all this happen." "I only followed you." A red tint ushed in Valera's pale cheeks. "But if-if you say so, my master."
Aldrich looked beyond his army of monsters and to their surroundings. The giant hallway was empty, made entirely of austere grey or black stone lit up only by the green glow of the huge crystal root structure behind him.
Though quite empty, the hallway felt strangely similar in design, and when he reected on his memory, he came to realize why. "Is this design a replica of your Throne Room?" said Aldrich. "Minus the banners, throne, and, well, basically any decoration. Where did the rest of the
Nexus go? The Trial Quest pillars, the blacksmith, the goddess Amara, and the
Wellspring of Life?"
The Death Lord's eye twitched when she heard the name 'Amara', but she kept her cool. "My, you could tell?" said the Death Lord with a sly smile. "And my apologies for its emptiness. I did not have much time to work with. But it is tting. This
Throne Room of yours is merely the beginning of your journey as Usurper.
When my powers are yours, this Throne Room shall be complete, lled with your proud Legion and, of course, a Throne. That is what this will be." The
Death Lord tapped the enormous crystal roots with her pipe, letting out the sound of wood hitting glass. "By interacting with this Throne Shard, you may access those spaces you known as 'Trial Quests'."
The Throne Shard glowed, emitting an eerie, deep echo before projecting multiple small portals outlined in ery green in front of Aldrich. Within each portal, Aldrich could see snippets of dierent scenery. A muddy swamp in one, a scorching desert in another, huge swathes of storm clouds here, and eerie abandoned ruins there.
These were all snapshots of the environments in the Trial Quests available to
Aldrich. Specically, Trial Quests 1, 2, 3, and 4, though, of course, Aldrich had already cleared the 1st quest.
Aldrich inspected the portals and the Throne Shard, wondering how to interact with them. "This Throne Shard is akin to an extension of your own will," said the Death
Lord. "Simply bare your thoughts to it, and it will fulll your wishes."
Aldrich nodded and willed the Throne Shard to show him the rest of the Trial
Quests. Bright bolts of green energy crackled outwards as Aldrich established a connection with the Throne Shard for the rst time. He felt a jolting sensation in his mind, but it quickly passed, and when it did, he felt the Throne Shard linked to his mind.
The Throne Shard glowed and released its deep hum before showing seven more portals: the rest of Aldrich's Trial Quests. "Hm?" Aldrich noted something o. The portals for Trial Quests 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were lled out with green, not revealing what was within him. That, he could understand as he technically was not high enough level to access them.
But Trial Quests 11 and 12 were completely blacked out. "Those nal two Trial Quests are not available to you," explained the Death
Lord. "After all, originally, they were intended to seal my Deathguard and myself. But since we are here, those Trial Quests are merely empty space now." "Empty space? Why can't I access them, then?" said Aldrich. "They possess the same level-based restriction as with the other Trial Quests," said the Death Lord. She shrugged. "I suppose once you reach those levels, you may use those quest spaces as storage of some sort."
Quite anticlimactic, thought Aldrich. The two nal epic showdowns staged in the ultra endgame against the Deathguard and Death Lord respectively were now reduced to just storage. "And where's the Wellspring, goddess, and blacksmith?" said Aldrich. "Wellspring? Bah, that pool of disgusting sewer water? Why would you even wonder of its presence? Those waters would rejuvenate lesser undead, but to the likes of us higher undead, it is nothing more than foul poison," said the
Death Lord. "I would have destroyed it outright, but, there was still magical energy within the Wellspring that I found a waste to discard.
Thus, I had it refashioned into something far better tting for you, Usurper."
The Death Lord tapped the Throne Shard proudly with her pipe. "...You turned the Wellspring into the Throne Shard?" said Aldrich. "Precisely!" The Death Lord laughed. "And that ugly drawing of that even uglier goddess, I broke into raw magic and infused into the throne as well.
There was surprisingly little to use in that scribble of a shell, though, but then again, I should not be surprised that a goddess that relied upon the mindless faith of masses held little strength herself." "I see," said Aldrich. "And the blacksmith? He was quite useful to me." "Sindri was but a slave to Amara," said the Death Lord. "He too was a simple drawn shell, but I found it right to shatter it and free him, if indeed there was truly anything of him in there." "So...I've lost access to all my crafting and healing?" said Aldrich. "You called that crafting?" The Death Lord was oended. "Rolling the dice over and over again for this treasure and that? No!"
The Death Lord placed her pipe in her mouth and snapped her ngers. In response, behind the Throne Shard, another portal opened up. A much larger one indicating that something big was coming through it.
A giant stepped out with his face covered in a helmet that looked like a welding mask. He was garbed in protective metal and thick cloth that indicated not a warrior's armor, but a blacksmith's coverings.
Blacksmithing tools like a hammer and a drill like item were skewered into the esh of one of his arms. Dull black ames ickered around the length of his other arm.
The giant carried a sizable anvil in one hand and an inactive, cylindrical furnace in the other. Despite his immense size, the giant very gently set down the anvil and furnace on the oor before turning around and waving to Aldrich. "Hullo. My name is Bors. I smith for you now." The giant's voice was surprisingly mellow. Not at all like the thunderous rumbling roars that
Aldrich's own undead giant could let out. Bors sounded positively friendly, on the contrary. "Bors is one of my nest smiths! Among the best of my giant forgers!" declared the Death Lord. "Any work he produces here will be of the nest quality, and no longer will you need to rely on luck for your smithing wants.
Instead, Bors will listen to your requests and work to meet them directly!"