No matter the situation, Tetsuko will still devour Celeste
When Faela stabbed her sword at the monster, Tetsuko devoured the Celeste. However, as the energy left the snake, its blood, skin, organs, and bones shriveled, as if they were sucked dry. That’s unexpected…
“And disgusting,” her wielder muttered, her expression matching her words. Even so, she didn’t avert her eyes. “Can’t believe you can do this now. You’re becoming more and more a true demon sword.”
You know I didn’t do this. You saw when we killed the rats and the first snake, Tetsuko reminded her.
“Weren’t you holding back then?”
No. This… whatever this is, is new.
“There must be something different with this snake,” Anna said, crouching to examine the shriveled head without touching it.
Tetsuko grew quiet as the Celeste she devoured became part of her. It’s different from the rest so far. It’s as if the Celeste had been part of the snake… Then she realized the reason. This snake wasn’t turned into a monster like the ones on the surface. It was born like that, she projected her thoughts to the swordswomen. That’s why the cadaver shriveled when I devoured the energy.
“It wasn’t turned, but born like this?” Faela repeated. “It can’t be. The worshiper came here around a month ago. There’s no way a snake this size was one month old, even if it grew like a monster.”
“There had been rumors about monsters living down in the sewers,” Anna said. “But I’ve never heard of snakes.”
This area was inaccessible, Tetsuko reminded them.
“You’re saying this snake was here before the culprit came to this town?” Faela asked.
It could be.
Her wielder grew quiet as she looked at what was left of the monster snake.
What are you thinking?
“No… it’s nothing. It can’t be. Those are only legends,” she muttered, more to herself than to her sword and her disciple. “It can’t be real.”
“My people… The Forest Tribes, have legends about creatures who were born blessed by Celeste, as the energy was part of them. But they’re extinct. No one has seen one over thousands of years. They were called Blessed Creatures.”
Blessed Creatures, Tetsuko repeated. Maybe the crocodile Nicolas rode was one too… but back then, I didn’t sense anything abnormal… What more do you know about them?
“Nothing much. They’re extinct. I remember my grandma saying their Celeste was different than what we use. They were smarter and stronger than normal animals, and some could even change the reality around us.”
Sounds like those priests back in my world… You say they were extinct over thousands of years ago?
“That’s what my grandma used to say.”
Maybe they went extinct before this Kingdom was founded, Tetsuko projected her thoughts. Maybe around the time of the last Change.
“You mean the thing that worshiper healer told Alonso?”
Yes. If that’s true, then this might explain this snake and why it shriveled when I devoured its Celeste… What I don’t know is why these monsters still exist down here.
Faela grew quiet again. Then she sheathed Tetsuko. “Talking won’t get us any closer to the truth. Maybe we can find out if we keep going further.”
As they headed deeper in the underground maze, they reached a huge space with glowing stones spread everywhere and a small lake at the center. The water was brimming with Celeste, so much it was hard to sense if there was anything underneath the surface.
Suddenly the soul in the sword realized something. What’s a demon?
“What?” Faela asked distractedly. She was thinking something as she left a mark on the wall for the soldiers to follow them later.
You keep saying I’m becoming more and more like a demon sword. What’s a demon to you? Where did you hear that word?
“A demon is…”
“I-isn’t it the evil entity the Worshipers pray to?” Anna whispered. Even in that wide empty area, her voice echoed on the ceiling and the walls.
But what’s a demon? Have you seen one? A drawing or anything?
The girl grew quiet too.
In Tetsuko’s world, demons were supposed to be powerful creatures that lived for chaos and death. At least that’s what I heard. I’ve only seen it once, thanks to that one-arm idiot and her friends. Where did the people from this world get the idea?
“You told me the Grand Priest’s arm became inhuman. I think a demon is those monsters the worshipers were turning into back in the mountains,” Faela said at last.
“You are wrong,” someone said.
At once the swordswomen drew their swords.
I didn’t sense anyone, Tetsuko thought, flowing her energy and expanding her senses. Where are they!?
From the bottom of the small lake, there was someone emerging. When the veil of water stopped masking their presence, she sensed. That person was powerful and had the evil and ancient Celeste.
There, the soul in the sword said, moving her metal body in the direction of the lake. That’s the culprit. I can sense the same energy in the monsters on the surface.
As their Celeste filled the area, it reached the stones, making them glow brighter and revealing the culprit. He was a man of mid stature, had no hair and a few symbols on his face. He smiled pleasantly to them as he folded his arms.
“Demons are a discriminatory word used by the ignorant who only know their tiny world but believe they know everything,” he said in a conversational voice, almost as if he was teaching. “A long time ago, before the Change, we humans lived among them. We shared this world with amazing existence that we can only dream today. But everything was ruined when a terrible ignorant used the Celeste from the Great Change to shape this world by his will and everything that was different vanished from this world!” he shouted, his voice echoing and growing louder.
He closed his eyes and forced himself to calm down.
“Who are you?” Faela asked when the echo stopped. She didn’t take her eyes from the man. She didn’t even blink, afraid he would attack.
The man let out a low chuckle. “I have no name. I cast it aside when I became a servant of the Truth.”
“In order words, a worshiper,” the swordswoman muttered. “I’m not surprised. Only those sick bastards would set monsters on people.”
“I do apologize for causing harm to innocent people. But it’s necessary. Since we lost many companions on that mountain, we need to find other ways to bring back the True Gods.”
Faela snorted. “Call it whatever you want. You worshipers only want to kill those who don’t believe in the same crap as you.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. We want the world to know the Truth. I admit there are some of my companions who prefer violence, but I’m not one of them.”
“Yeah, right. Do you have any idea how many people you killed with your monsters?”
“It was inevitable.”
“No, it wasn’t. If you hadn’t poisoned the animals, none of this would’ve happened. I don’t call that inevitable.”
“It saddens me you think I’m the enemy.”
“And you’re not?”
“No,” he said. All traces of pleasantness were gone from his face. He wasn’t showing hostility yet; he was simply serious. “The true enemy is ignorance.”
“What you call ignorance is weird.”
“To get to this place, you must’ve faced a few of the animals that live down here, am I right?”
“Yeah, we fought those monsters.”
The man shook his head. “Not monsters. They’re Blessed Creatures. Perhaps the last from the Old Age.”
“So they really were the creatures from the legends,” Faela muttered, her grip around Tetsuko’s handle loosening slightly.
“You seemed familiarized with them. I’m surprised you’re not a complete ignorant like the rest of this kingdom,” he said in a soft voice. Then he narrowed his eyes. “You don’t seem to be from this kingdom.”
“I’m from the Forest Tribe.”
“I see. Then this will be easier,” he said, scooping water with one hand and let it drip slowly. “This is the reason there are still Blessed Creatures in this world. The water down here is filled with Celeste, but not in the way you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“Celeste has three forms. The most common is the physical state. It’s the state that gives form and dwells in every living creature.” As he spoke, his energy circled inside him, concentrating in his hand, making it glow slightly. “If you can manipulate, even a dull blade can become sharper.”
That’s the same as those claws the worshipers used on the mountain, Tetsuko said to Faela and Anna.
“The second is the refined state. You could say its tiny parts that can’t gain physical form. It can’t be used like the physical, but it has other uses,” he said, growing quiet and waiting for the swordswoman to ask.
“What other uses?”
“Magic,” the man said, his eyes filled with wonder.
The energy in his hand became different. No. It’s another type of Celeste!
Tetsuko sensed baffled as the Celeste’s uncountable fragments of energy filled his hand. Then, as the worshiper murmured something, the energy became a small flame on his palm.
“Magic existed throughout the world and was normal! Everyone could use it! Men, women, noble or commoner, demon or human!” he almost shouted in joy. Then his face darkened. “But that wretched king used the Great Change and severed our world from the others! He took away the magic, and with it, all the existences that were made of magical Celeste vanished from this world! And for what? So he could rule the humans? So he could expel the True Gods and become a false one?”
The man closed the hand and the tiny flame vanished.
“That monster you called king killed millions of lives in the last Change. The lives we take now sadden me, but it’s a small price to pay to bring back those you call demon,” he said, closing his eyes and his fist. “That’s why I can’t die yet. Not until this Change is over and bring a new age!”
Look out! Tetsuko shouted. She had been so focused on the worshiper she barely sensed there was another one in the area with them.
Both Faela and Anna dodged in time, but they were too far from each other.
“I knew it. That sword is made of pure living metal,” the bald worshiper said as his companion walked to his side. “No one in this Age can forge a magical tool like that. That’s a relic from the Era of Death and Rebirth. The same type of sword the wretched king used in the past.”
With those words, the man charged, his face twisted with rage.
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