Chapter 243 Feast 3
"I see." Aldrich pondered the Death Lord's statement for a bit. "When you mean the fastest way to have her be battle ready, do you also mean the most optimal for her?"
"What do you mean by 'optimal'?" said the Death Lord.
"I would rather not put a child through a harmful process."
"Indeed," chimed in Valera. "The young can learn through trials of fire and hardship, but that learning damages them just as much as it forces them to grow. I know this well."
"You mean that is how your young learn." The Death Lord crossed her arms and turned up her face in haughty display. "Hmph. I simply do not understand the frailty of young among your kind. When I was born, hatched into a cold, empty cave, I had nothing and nobody.
I survived on my own merit and strength.
And you, usurper, I did not know you had such softness within you."
"I try to keep children off my hit list." Aldrich noted he used the word 'try'. Subconsciously, he understood that he was willing to go that far if he absolutely had to.
"Goodness, what do you think you two believe I am planning? To torture the little one? No, I know quite well how to care for them," said the Death Lord.
Both Aldrich and Valera stared at the Death Lord with visible disbelief.
The Death Lord looked between them and got defensive. "W-well alright, perhaps I am not entirely sure how the young of your kind are reared, but that is why I approached you with this topic! For your review!
Aldrich sighed. "Alright, so how does this synchronization work?"
"It is quite simple," said the Death Lord. "I enact the ritual, binding your souls together.
However at first, this binding is but temporary. A trial phase, if you will.
During this time, you two must actively work to strengthen the bond between yourselves. This is the most crucial aspect of this ritual.
Even similar souls cannot bind with each other if they do not share experiences and understandings with the other.
At the end of this trial phase, I will determine whether your bond is strong enough, and if so, forge it permanently in place. This will link both of you together at the spiritual level, allowing you to acces her power on your own terms.
Think of it like you being able to 'borrow' the spells and powers she knows and amplify them with your own strength."
"What risks does this come with?" asked Aldrich.
"You will both be alerted to each others' emotions to a heightened level," said the Death Lord. "Over time, you will also begin to see each other's memories, most likely in your dreams, though I suppose considering how young the little one is, she will be seeing your memories more than you hers."
Aldrich crossed his arms. "Concerning. My headspace isn't great. Not a place for someone like her to be."
"The process will be gradual. The dreams hazy at first. She will have time to acclimate," explained the Death Lord.
"I have heard tell of this ritual before," said Valera. "From my time as a wandering exile. I faced a great assassin sent after me whose magics and weapons manifested not from himself, but from his twin sheltered far, far away."
"The Twinned Hunters of Astralis, the Phantom Kingdom," nodded the Death Lord. "A troublesome bunch. They tend to birth twins with opposite aspects.
One strongly rooted in the physical with powerful bodies. The other anchored to the spiritual with fragile forms but incredible mystical affinity.
Together, when soulbound, the spiritually aligned twin remotely strengthens their more combat capable twin with enhancing spells or construct weapons, creating potent fighters that are both skilled warriors and skilled mages.
The twin liches that rebelled against me hailed from that same kingdom."
"When I laid the assassin low after a battle that cost both an arm and leg, he begged me to spare his life for he said if he was to fall, his dear twin sister would fall as well," said Valera. "I still ended his life, but I wonder if that is a weakness."
"It is," said the Death Lord. "If one bound falls, the other does also.
In a similar fashion, the higher the rate of synchronization you are capable of sustaining, the more powers of the bound you may receive.
However, this comes in exchange with greater transferal of undesirable sensations such as pain.
At the highest rate of synchronicity, you may even transfer over physical wounds."
"That's quite the risk," said Aldrich. "I don't think the Chrysalis would want to willingly subject herself to that kind of stress and potential pain."
"You may be surprised. Her soul is 'warmer' than yours, but it is still modeled after you.
And look at you now. You are strong. Your mind, especially.
I know you say you would not put a child in harm's way, but if it was the only option presented to you, you would do it, would you not?" the Death Lord narrowed her eyes, gazing at Aldrich intently.
"...I do what I have to do. And I haven't had to do anything like that yet."
"There are some that cannot make that decision no matter what. I have seen countless of them in my conquests." The Death Lord nodded at Aldrich. "You are not one of them. You know that you achieve what you desire, you must be willing to sacrifice.
One of the reasons why I like you. You remind me greatly of myself."
"Regardless, that isn't what we're discussing now, are we? If this is something that will hurt the Chrysalis, I don't think it's prudent to force on her. It may drive her away from me," said Aldrich.
"And once you drive a young one away with harshness, it is tremendously difficult to ever bring them back," said Valera, no doubt remembering her own experience in basically raising the princess she had guarded.
"The little one is stronger than you think. Just as you, Usurper, have suffered great hardship and grow strong from it, she too can do the same," countered the Death Lord.
"The whole point of me fighting is so that people like her won't have to make the same sacrifices I had to," said Aldrich. He paused. If he was an ordinary hero, he would have left it at that.
But he was not. "But if this is the only way, I'll try to make it work."
"A noble ideal, but indeed, this is the only way," said the Death Lord. "Elsewise you must wait for the Chrysalis to grow mentally and physically until she can handle her powers herself.
That may take time on the scale of years.
I do not know exactly how fast she matures, but you are in a tense situation where you need as much power as you can use now.
And believe me, if you are able to tap into the little one's enormous potential, to her affinity to Space itself, you will find yourself blessed with incredible powers."
The Death Lord paused for a moment. Her expression softened. Her usual cocky and proud smile disappeared into something understanding. The same expression she had used when she comforted Aldrich after he made peace with Adam and Elaine.
"I understand that ideal of yours. And I was not being mocking when I stated it was noble.
There is a merit in striving for a world of order where suffering does not befall those who do not deserve it. Such as children with no blood on their hands, no idea of the world around them that may force terror and war and plague upon them.
But ideals are nothing but faraway dreams unless you have the power to force them into reality.
The Chrysalis is a child, yes, but she is also a vast well of power. If you synchronize with her, you can take her power and make it your own. It is also the key to start developing your Boundary properly.
Her power is one you cannot let go. Not now, when you are surrounded by hostile powers, not when you need all the power you can lay your hands upon."
"..." Aldrich leaned back in his chair. He was confident about his position in the world in that he could survive and get stronger, but he also knew he was not a top dog yet.
Gerard did have a point. Compared to the strongest Sentinels, powerhouses like Emperor who arguably held the title for the strongest super in the entire world, Aldrich fell a whole league short.
He compensated with the unique nature of his powers being able to summon undead armies, but that alone, though it commanded a great deal of respect and wariness, did not put him at the top of the top just yet.
"You do have a good point. What exactly does strengthening the synchronization bond look like?"
The Death Lord smiled. "Quite simple. You spend time with her. You come to know her. You grow closer with each other. The stronger the attachment between you two, the stabler the bond becomes."
"Basically I just take care of her for a while?" said Aldrich. "No harsh training involved?"
"You will have to undergo trials of combat I will set for you two, but none she will not be able to handle. Come now, did you think I would toss her into a pit like they did with Rella?" said the Death Lord.
Aldrich and Valera eyed the Death Lord again with suspicion.
"You two - you truly have no trust in me!" the Death Lord protested.
"I'll talk to the Chrysalis and ask her if she wants to go through with the ritual," said Aldrich. "This trial phase, if can easily be undone, right?"
"Yes. There is no real bond that tethers you two together until the very end. Before then, it can be severed with no risk," said the Death Lord.
"Then it's a low risk option with high reward. I take those." Aldrich stared at the Death Lord.
"What is it now? Why stare at me with such intensity?" the Death Lord said coyly, a flirty smile on her lips.
Valera leered at the Death Lord.
"Speaking of rewards, I do believe you owe me for making my healing flask useless. That was a divine grade item, you know? I think I'm quite entitled to reparations here," said Aldrich.