Chapter 271 Expectations and Rewards
"That was all it took to disable her?" said Aldrich. He shook his head, shaking himself of his impulsive habit to see others through a lens of utility. He knew better now, after Haven, when he saw firsthand how important it was to connect with others to gain their loyalty. "No, that's the wrong question. How do I cure her?"
The Death Lord waved her hand dismissively. "Curing her of this nightmare is simple enough. I merely need a few minutes alone with her. What is important here is that this does not happen again."
"That's the thing. I didn't expect something like this to happen in the first place." Aldrich stared at the Death Lord, accusation sharpening his eyes. "You made it seem like there were no risks here. That even if she linked to me, to all the awful mess that's in my soul, that it would be okay."
"I thought her strong enough to handle it," was the Death Lord's explanation.
"…I should have known better." Aldrich sighed. "You're too used to thinking of children as miniature monsters that just need some time to grow up to get strong. You, as a dragon, were raised like that, hatched alone, nobody to depend on except yourself.
It stands to reason that even if you try, even if you read books on parenting, you can't empathize."
"Children are stronger than you think, Usurper. Look at yourself. All you needed was time and experience to hone yourself into the beast you are today.
Give the little one a push, and she will rise to meet your expectations."
Aldrich closed his eyes for a brief moment, his mind wading through a shallow pool of happy memories that no longer existed. "That 'experience' robbed me of my childhood. One of the reasons why I have such a soft spot for children is because they remind me of what I couldn't have.
Making her go through that isn't something I want to resort to."
The Death Lord shook her head in corrective manner. "That little one is special. Her soul may be unique, but that physical vessel of hers, the creature known as the 'Chrysalis', is more like…like a machine. A golem."
Aldrich raised a brow. "What do you mean?"
"From what I could glean, the Chrysalis is a creature that naturally connects to a higher entity and adapts to serving them. They will shape the space around them and their very own forms to suit the needs of the one they are bound to.
This is why the little one could mold herself using your soul so easily." The Death Lord put the jade finger of her crystalline prosthetic arm against Aldrich's chest. "And this is why it is important you push her. Tell her your desires, and she will by natural instinct shape herself into the best possible form to achieve your goals.
But if you do not push her, she may shape herself into a complacent, weak-minded state. Just the way she is now."
"…I see." Aldrich looked over at Chrysa, at her small, sleeping figure. She was more stable now, the rippling space around her body reduced to no more than slight flickers of distorted color. Her breathing was easier, more rhythmic.
Aldrich knew that Chrysa was not human at heart, and that she could easily deal with people suffering so long as they were 'bad people'. But the way she panicked and broke under pressure during the sudden attack from the invisible bots made him question exactly what she could handle.
The Death Lord sensed Aldrich's thoughts. "Put her through pressure. Put her in situations of life and death.
Do not fear doping this.
She will adapt, I am sure of it. It is in her blood, in the instincts bred into her.
You are not mistreating her this way. She exists to meet your expectations; it is wired into her very blood.
Lay your expectations out to her clearly, and she will strive her best to meet them, even if they will involve fighting and hurt."
"I'll consider it," said Aldrich.
"There is no consideration. Only doing. That third trial quest of yours is an apt opportunity for this," said the Death Lord. She took in a breath, magical energy swirling around her in green waves. "I do not like doing this, but I will enforce my will." Her voice quietened a bit, as if she was talking more to herself than Aldrich. "That little one must grow stronger. And she must grow fast."
Aldrich saw a message show up on his system interface screen.
[Quest: Bond By Trial received]
[Description: Clear the third trial quest with Chrysa. No other units are allowed with you. In exchange, you will receive certain bonuses to compensate for the loss of units you can take.]
[Rewards: 1x a choice of spell tome from Medula's library (provided she does not need it), 1x Nether Idol, Dark Wisdom Booster (50 levels)]
"A nether idol?" The sudden quest was surprising, but the nether idol as a reward overshadowed all of that.
With a nether idol, Aldrich could reach into the Nether and forge a bond with another Chosen Undead.
It was a massive reward that would not have been possible to get in the game.
"Indeed," said the Death Lord. "It is the only nether idol I have left, so you should be quite grateful I am willing to part with it. That is, if you can survive the quest with just the little one."
"Can I take Volantis?" said Aldrich.
"No. Only the little one. There will be no interference between you two. But I will grant you some equipment to compensate." The Death Lord waved Aldrich away. "Go to your throne room. I will have your things sent there. In the meanwhile, I will awaken the little one."
Aldrich summoned a [Grave Ward] from his palm. "If you don't mind, I'm going to keep watch over what you do to her. Considering your severe lack of child care skills, I feel that this more than reasonable enough."
And Aldrich did not quite like the way the Death Lord was pressuring Chrysa to grow. He wondered whether there was an underlying motive behind it, but if it was a negative one, she would never admit it.
If it was positive, purely for Aldrich's well being - which was entirely possible considering how much she had nurtured him so far - then there was not much to worry about. Just her typical recklessness when it came to children.
"I do not like being watched, but so be it," complained the Death Lord. "I did not take you for the peeping type. But we all have our hidden desires, no?"
Aldrich rolled his eyes and began to leave. "Make sure Chrysa's well when I get back."
"I will. I swear that to you, Death Walker." The Death Lord nodded solemnly.
Aldrich stared down at his palm in wonder. There, he beheld a golden ring whose surface rippled with mottled reds and oranges like the surface of the sun. "It's done already?"
"The Death Lord make me work fast!" Bors, the giant blacksmith, nodded once, his big helmeted head moving up and down with a kind of oak tree weight to it. "The core was new, so I thought the forge be hard, but there no trick, so I do it quick!"
Aldrich slipped the ring onto his finger.
[Solar Seal equipped]
Almost immediately, Aldrich felt power funnel into his body. It was a bright, hot, almost burning kind of power. Strands of what looked like solar energy danced around him, lighting his pale undead skin almost an uniform white, as if his whole body was turning into pure light.
Aldrich read the description of the item in his system interface.
[Rank: Mythic (Limited)]
A seal forged from a soul containing the essence of the sun. Wearing this seal grants the user access to a variety of spells and passives.
Solar Battery: Through exposure to sunlight, the wearer is able to stockpile solar energy that passively enhances their strength, agility, and vitality. In addition, the wearer is granted 80% damage reduction against all fire based damage. The higher the solar energy reserves, the higher these stat bonuses are. Thus expending solar energy reduces these bonuses.
Karmic Light: Against enemies that have negative 'karma' that have caused or absorbed great amounts of negative energy, the wearer of this seal obtains a bonus burning effect on all their attacks against them. The worse the karma of the target, the worse this burning effect becomes.
Lightforged Array: The user can forge stored sunlight into a variety of weapons ranging as such: sword, spear, shield, bow, and gauntlets. These constructs deal holy type damage, dealing especially high burning damage to those with negative karma.
Restoring Radiance: By expending sunlight, the user can heal others with positive energy. This will burn and destroy undead instead. This is considered holy type damage and will also purge souls from afflicted undead.
This spell can be cast with an area of effect pulse form as well.
Heat Ray: By expending sunlight, the user can fire a beam of heat energy.
Blinding Burst: By expending sunlight, the user can create a blinding flash that robs all nearby of their eyesight temporarily.
Sunlit: By fully activating the seal, the user can temporarily access a tremendous amount of power, granting them tremendous physical abilities, flight, and the ability to fire heat rays. In essence, they will fully be able to use the range of powers that once belonged to the original bearer of the soul core used to forge this seal.
This will rapidly absorb sunlight and disable access to all other spells and equipment.]