As Richard’s little hand touched the seventh statue, it scattered into shadows that bore into his body. For a moment he felt like he was on fire, his whole body burning with soul-rending pain that kept him awake but drove him insane. An icy sensation shot forth from his body to collide with the flames, making him feel like he was about to be torn apart.
He ground his teeth, exercising his tenacity and resolution to persist till the entirety of the shadow entered his body. Only after the last bit of it was absorbed did he relax, the shrine in front of him starting to fade.
His vision blurred, he saw the beautiful worried face of his mother just before he lost consciousness. “I got two abilities, Mother will be so proud of me!” he exclaimed within the darkness.
A large crack appeared on the altar in the attic, the very fact that such a rare altar could be damaged being appalling. Elaine didn’t look good at all, blood dripping from the corners of her lips, but she could care less as she searched Richard’s body, only calming down when she saw no harm was done to him.
However, she then saw a shadow looming between her son’s brows, something neither the lamp nor the moonlight could cast from their position. It was like a fog that moved across his forehead, not in a hurry to leave. Ordinary eyes would not be able to see it, but under the power of the fifth moon Elaine trembled as she reached out for it. She felt a cold twinge of pain upon contact, the result of a collision between dark energy and Alucia’s divinity.
“NIGHTMARE CREATURE?” Elaine screamed. She clenched her teeth and jabbed her fingers right into Richard’s temple, starting to chant the spell for prophecy from distant memories. It was a spell that she’d never been able to grasp, but right now it was her best shot at freeing Richard from the menacing creature.
Ever since she lost her position as a divine official Elaine had foregone all her blessings and the spells of her Goddess. Still, her desperate actions proved fruitful as a picture scroll flashed before her eyes. It showed a never-ending void of darkness, with no moon, no stars, only a chaotic energy pervading the universe. A large shadow loomed within the chaos, the originally messy trajectories of the energy ultimately being aimed at one position, her son.
The scroll flashed across her sight, the brief vision exhausting all her energy until she couldn’t even lift a finger if she tried. Still, even if she was full of vigour the image wouldn’t have left her in a different position.
Nightmare creatures were different from the darkness, their energy not a part of nature. Many species of wandered aimlessly between the planes, feeding on the chaos of different worlds. They were cunning, dangerous, and powerful— making them loved and hated alike by various mages.
Shadow summoning was an ancient, mature art— ranging from level 6 to level 9 spells that could grant control of a nightmare creature to the caster. The chance of failure was minute, but once out of control a shadow creature would devour its summoner like it was the most delicious food they’d ever seen. Every year there was news in the mainland about accidents where mages were devoured by shades.
The nightmare creature looming between Richard’s brows seemed to have some indication of life, but it wasn’t complete. The dark energy it possessed wasn’t significant, able to be cleansed by a common shaman, but Elaine saw in her prophecy that it was a beacon for various dark beings, summoning them to this particular plane. Even if the shadow was cleansed it would be too late; the various dark beings had already set out, and Richard would be the anchor they used to infiltrate this plane.
Once a large number of creatures attacked this plane, Richard would only be met with two outcomes. He would either be killed in the violent collision of energy, or become possessed by the strongest of them and lose control of his body forever, becoming a vessel for the creatures of the dark. Nobody could comprehend the laws of the planes; these creatures could take a few centuries to arrive, or they could come here next month.
“How did this happen…” Elaine mumbled as she closed her arms around Richard, her tears wetting both herself and her son. She lifted at head and looked at the crescent moon in the sky, and the mark like a dried bloodstain that hadn’t been there before. So the change in the moon had resulted in the change in the ceremony. This probably would not have happened if she was still a shaman of Alucia.
‘Is this Her punishment?’ Elaine thought bitterly, having lost all strength to complain about destiny or wallow in self-pity. She carried her son downstairs, tucking him carefully into bed. His brows were slightly furrowed, but his constant smiles made it seem like he was having good dreams.
Richard was a pretty boy. He’d already begun to lose his childlike features, looking more handsome and dashing by the day. Elaine looked at her own son endearingly, the center of her life for the past ten years. A decade was but a moment in her long life, but now it had seemed like forever. Richard had grown up rather slowly, looking more childlike than others of his age, but this was to be expected with his silvermoon elf blood giving him five hundred years of life. However, the reason for the brusqueness being added to his exquisite appearance was something only Elaine herself knew.
The shadow continued looming over Richard’s face, causing Elaine to sigh softly as she left a goodnight kiss on her son’s forehead before leaving the room. She sat alone in the living room and stared at the night sky, events of the past playing in her mind like they’d just occurred yesterday. Those nights were the essence of all the passion, hatred, and love in her entire life, and she couldn’t help but think of them once more. The fifth moon had just given way to the sixth; when the seventh peeked on the horizon, it would be a new day.
The radiance of the seventh moon spilled through the window. Elaine looked more worn than ever, but also more attractive than before. The mirror on the wall now reflected a beautiful figure, Elaine’s original appearance that she’d almost forgotten over these ten years. It was a beauty only silvermoon elves possessed.
She stood up, taking out a piece of magical parchment decorated with stars and spreading it on the table. She then took out a well-sealed magic pen made from a griffin feather, checking the unique unicorn blood ink to see whether it was still working. There was little ink left, but she wasn’t writing a long letter either so it would suffice.
The light feather quill felt oh so heavy in her arms, and she couldn’t bring herself to write anything for a long while. It took the first ray of sunlight shining through the window for her to laugh and mumble, “Someone who destroyed the Silvermoon Palace will be able to defeat dark beings, won’t he? What’s more, it’s been ten years…”
She finally convinced herself to draft a meticulous spell formation on the paper before penning down a long name:
Gaton Isaiah Satanistoria Archeron.
The magic pen shook the moment she finished writing the name, its tip shining with red light like the burning flames of a fire. All that was left when the fire extinguished was a faint, almost invisible mark. Nonetheless, the mark could only be eliminated only if the precious paper was destroyed. As an ex-shaman, she was aware of the secret of bloodlines. The burning flames signified that this name written down with demonic power had already triggered the power of law, being felt by the owner of the name. Everything she wrote down next would be delivered to the person in question, across the boundaries of space and time.
The pen stopped again, the hand that held it trembling. This had proven another thing— Gaton really had given her his real name. Though she hadn’t once suspected him, it had been proven true for the first time. With the advantage of knowing his real name, she could cast the most malicious curse on him with just a little demonic power. Even as a legendary being he wouldn’t be able to escape the damage, truenames being the most significant secrets of certain bloodlines.
‘That idiot actually revealed his real name,’ she couldn’t help but think. But these thoughts were easily replaced by memories of the large and decadent forest. Her hands grew cold, but they no longer shivered. She jotted down her thoughts with short yet precise words, only hesitating again when it came time for her to sign off. She hesitated, but proceed to pen her name down with exquisite and elegant writing:
The paper burned intensely and turned to ashes within the blink of an eye. The information within was being delivered. Elena put down her worries and troubles with that pen, looking quiet and beautiful.