Chapter 247 -Explore Time
"Marvelous," the Death Lord remarked, wonder in her eyes. She directed her awe to the Chrysalis. "She can adapt so very quickly. I do not think either of you should worry much about her. She is strong. And as Medula has said, she has potential."
"I'm strong!" the Chrysalis exclaimed with glee.
"How much of a buff does she get with shared stats and senses?" said Aldrich. "On my end, I barely notice anything. Maybe that's because the scales are more tipped towards me."
"That factors in somewhat, but mostly, it is because you two have not had time to develop your syncretic bond," said the Death Lord. "The more the bond develops, the greater the shared essence between you two.
As of now, I doubt she has developed much more than heightened senses and strength. Enhanced to a far greater extent than what you received from her, of course, but not anything exceptional either."
"I see," said Aldrich. He looked down to the Chrysalis. She smiled up at him and asked while tugging at his pant leg, "Am I strong?"
"You will be." Aldrich patted her snowy head of hair. He asked the Death Lord, "How do you recommend I boost our bond together? How long will this take?"
"There is no secret method to unravel all." The Death Lord shrugged. "You simply must spend time with her. Time that will bring her close to you. If you focus on her, you may become close enough that I can finalize and 'lock in' the ritual fully in three to five days with how compatible your souls should already be.
It takes the average mortal, even if they are a twin, a year to establish a strong syncretic bond. That it takes mere days for you two is a testament to how similar your souls already are."
"We're the same?" The Chrysalis put her hands atop her head, resting them against Aldrich's.
"I guess so," said Aldrich.
"It is still almost unbelievable," remarked Valera. "She seems so different from you. So very innocent and wonderfully adorable."
"Everyone was a child once," said Aldrich. He looked into the Chrysalis's wide, curious, happy eyes, and he felt a twinge of pain deep down, as if digging up a pained old memory. "With wide eyes and big dreams."
Valera sensed Aldrich's emotions and comforted him, putting a hand on his arm.
"It's alright," Aldrich nodded to Valera.
"Look at that, you two are making me jealous," said the Death Lord, miffed at the display of care and affection in front of her. She crossed her arms and turned up her face. "Hmph. Go on then. Bond with your little one. Do as you want."
"About what I was promised-," began Aldrich.
"Oh, that," groaned the Death Lord. "You never let things go, do you? I am having a replacement for you. I shattered the flask to reforge it, but divine class artifacts are quite the struggle to work with. I will have a suitable replacement to you as soon as possible.
Do note, though, that the item will have restorative effects, but the way in which it manifests them may be considerably different than what the flask was capable of."
"Do you know how different?"
"No, not yet. So do not pay it much mind."
"I'll be expecting great things. Especially from a great person like you."
"Hmph. You will not be disappointed." The Death Lord still maintained her haughty, crossed arms posture, but she smiled, happy to have her greatness recognized.
"Right then, bonding time…" Aldrich looked to the Chrysalis. "What do you want to do?"
"I don't like it here," said the Chrysalis. "I want to explore! Outside!"
"Hm, I do have things I need to do here-" began Aldrich, but the Chrysalis frowned, her eyes widening not in curiosity now but sadness.
"Looks like you must leave this realm to enhance your bond," said the Death Lord. "You get a chance to show me how mortals truly raise their young."
"Right." Aldrich put a knuckle to his forehead, trying to remember how to be a good parent. He had never parented before, obviously, but he knew he was not bad with kids.
Probably because he had a lot of reference to work with using the memories of his parents.
At the least, he was confident he was better than the likes of the Death Lord, but she was the rock bottom standard, so he did not feel exactly great about comparing himself to her.
"I will have Leos keep your troops trained and occupied," said the Death Lord. "As for the third Trial Quest, I am afraid I will have to forbid you from entering it for now."
"Why not?" said Aldrich.
"I told you that the process of synchronizing is pleasant, but to finalize the bond, to forge it into permanent place, requires a time of tremendous challenge.
I have determined that time will be the third trial quest. I also require time for Medula to perform some experimentation upon it as she is curious about where demonkind has gone following the end of our home realm."
"Understood. I guess I owe you that much for what you've done so far."
"Indeed. Now enjoy your leisure time. Leave this realm to me as you usually do when you leave." The Death Lord sighed. "At this point, perhaps I should have myself and my guard all wear maid uniforms. That is what we feel like at some points."
"I'll pass," said Medula, glancing at the Death Lord with a sharp red eye of protest.
"Plans to tempt my master even more, snake?" said Valera.
"Hm? If my talk gets you all riled up like this, then maybe I will wear the uniform," the Death Lord smiled slyly.
"Explore time! Explore time!" the Chrysalis tugged at Aldrich's leg.
"Can you give me just a bit of time?" said Aldrich gently. "We can explore right after."
The Chrysalis nodded. "Okay."
Aldrich spent the next half hour gathering all the rewards from the past day. He raised the Megaloptera head and kept it in the Nexus along with the rest of his monsters.
From the second trial quest, he raised the gigant worm and left it in the quest realm to save space. He then put the spellbook and sand seal in his inventory.
As for the Hierophant's Finger, he transferred it over to one of the Death Lord's skeletal servants, requesting that she determine whether she could raise the Hierophant as an undead.
Most likely, though, Aldrich did not expect the Death Lord to be capable of such a feat. The Hierophant was a mighty demigod, and enough divine blood prevented undeath from taking root. Not even the Death Lord could break this innate divine defense.
Rella, a demigod, was not even undead. She served the Death Lord out of her own volition.
In the case that the Death Lord could not raise the Hierophant, Aldrich would have to consider who to give the finger to. Upon consumption, the finger granted an undead some magic related passives and spells. Fragments of the Hierophant's power.
Supposedly, it was possible to revive the Hierophant if a player could retrieve all of his corpse parts. This included six fingers, two arms, two legs, a torso, and a head.
Basically Exordia from a well known children's card game that Aldrich used to play as a kid.
Aldrich had never found all the parts no matter how hard he searched, so he figured it an impossibility even now, especially with the game realm gone.
Aldrich touched base with the genie who said she would take eight hundred years to generate another wish, at which point, Aldrich said she was useless.
In response, the genie cried and sulked, making communication difficult. Aldrich left her to compose herself while he addressed other concerns.
Aldrich checked up on the first trial quest briefly by telepathically communicating with his units as he had no time to go into the quest realm. He told the Geist he was doing a good job which in turn motivated the Geist to do even better with a resolute 'Geh!'.
It seemed that eyeflower harvesting was proceeding quite smoothly.
With that all done, Aldrich finally stood in front of the throne room crystal with the Chrysalis beside him.
"That was fun!" said the Chrysalis. She made big circles with her hand. "I saw a big, big worm! Big bug!"
"And you'll get to see much more, too, once we head out," said Aldrich.
"Explore time!" said the Chrysalis.
"Are you sure you want me to come?" Valera said from behind Aldrich. "I can stay behind too. You will not need the snake to manage the troops, for I can do it better than she ever could."
Aldrich sensed jealousy from Valera. Probably because she felt her job security as a commander threatened. He maneuvered to eliminate this.
"No, Valera, I need you with me," said Aldrich. "If I'm going to be exploring, I want someone that can defend me. Someone strong. Someone that I trust. That's you.
Plus, you can blend in with people and you don't show up on AC scans like me, so you're objectively the best choice."
"Only objectively?" asked Valera.
"And because I'd rather it was you than anyone else," said Aldrich.
"Now that is a good answer." Valera smiled. "Then onwards we shall go, my master. I will defend you from all our enemies. And enjoy time with you as well. What a wonderful time we shall have."