CASeries #7: Chevalier
Chapter 131 ⚔️ Seed
Sosososo hard to write.
Gathering in the tower, the atmosphere was solemn. Each one of the Twelve were filled with anticipation as they took their respective places in the bundt chamber. Tamara was a little less serious with an enthusiastic smirk on her face. Valeriana was sure that, if this woman discovered gum, she would be chewing it more than half of the time and Charles would have a headache finding them stuck under the furniture all over.
“What do we do now?” Keelan asked.
“Those platforms should hold the shape of your ring’s jewels. I think you should press them face down,” Valeriana said.
All the heirloom rings had rather large heads like any typical signet rings—crafted with the purpose of stamping seals and signing documents in mind. Though Valeriana had had no time to examine the rings of each legacy holder, they all had unique jewels and symbols.
Manilla stood before the Evereesha platform, Corvan before the Wylden, Keelan before Kaiven, Rowe before Nevan, Charles before Vernados, Elfre before Signos, Zion before Ankalé, Aneeka before Touilé, Raziel before Emava, Tamara before Kilara, Genevieve before Ílladrieu, and Brindon before Ovarra.
There was only the blank slate left. With no other place to position herself in, Valeriana stood in front of it. While a little jealous of the others, she knew she still had the best equipment of them all—the sword. In the end, she even felt a little smug.
“Don’t think we don’t notice that smirk on you,” Elfre said teasingly.
“Hey, hurry and take it out for us,” Aneeka said.
“Take what out?” Valeriana asked, playing dumb.
“Damn! Don’t act stupid!” Tamara said. “We’ve only seen the sword once—when it sat on the corpse of the First King. You should at least have found a way to use it, right?”
“Enough, don’t make trouble,” Corvan began.
“It’s okay. I haven’t used it in battle if that’s what you’re asking,” she replied. “I wanted to try it out back then, but I was called for wall repair duty.” She didn’t put up much resistance from their request though and pulled out the Holy Sword from the sheath.
The snow-white blade and the smooth craftsmanship raised awe from everyone.
Each member of the Twelve placed the heads of their rings against the depressions on the platform, and they all fit snugly inside. Waves of vibration fluttered through the walls.
“Well, guess it’s working,” Tamara said.
A unique buzz reverberated through the chamber and it gradually began brimming with some weird, tingly energy. Everyone felt it. To Valeriana, however, it sounded vaguely like an old machine powering up after four thousand years. It was not smooth on the first run, but it gradually ran up to pace.
“Did it make any changes?” Zion asked.
“Let me check,” Valeriana said. She knelt, putting a hand on the Fortress’s surface and injecting a bit of that energy. Compared to having to supplement a lot of her own, she actually only needed a bit this time around in order to be able to explore like before.
Starry sky bled from her palms, staining the pure white jade in a myriad of cosmic colors. The Twelve were surprised but kept their calm. Corvan had seen this once before, so he was not at all that stunned. Valeriana had attempted this before, when Varialon had just reemerged to Valemnia. However, before she could see it through, she exhausted herself and nearly fainted from overheating.
Valeriana was very delighted. Sure enough, there was a lot of power!
A familiar, floaty feeling rushed to her head. Valeriana felt as though she had lost her balance. The cosmic image quickly covered the entire chamber before a fierce light assaulted her eyes. The cries that resounded around her said she wasn’t the only one experiencing the phenomenon.
“By the gods, what is this?” Charles’s astounded voice echoed.
That didn’t sound like something Charles would usually say.
“Oh,” Valeriana paused, “so I’m not the only one this time?”
“Where are—” Keelan stopped short.
Valeriana turned around and realized just what it was that made the chatterbox Keelan so speechless.
“You are…” Corvan trailed off.
Five guys who did not belong to the Twelve were sprawled on the couch going through bags of chips, boxes of pizzas, and beers. They appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
Looking around, the Twelve realized they were no longer in the Jade Tower. While they were all clueless about where they had gone to, Valeriana recognized it. This place resembled the cosmic space that Destriva the Black Mare had brought Valeriana to before, back in Varialon before it emerged in Valemnia.
Seeing the Twelve appear before them too, the five guys were all stunned.
One guy with dark hair and red eyes scrambled to sit up. He had a very stunning physique—an appearance that eclipsed the millennia of standards of beauty. The wild and casual countenance did not diminish the appearance. The sloppy appearance, nonetheless, was a rather jarring sight.
He stopped shoving a pizza in his mouth and looked at the others in horror. “Oh, sh*t. Is that today?”
One guy awkwardly chewed once. The startling sound of chips being crushed between teeth reverberated in the quiet room. He had a rather bubbly disposition, with earthy skin and bright green eyes. “Witz whem!”
The others all scrambled to get off the sofas and arm chairs.
“What are you doing?! Hurry and clean up!” A blonde-haired and blue-eyed man exclaimed. He kicked a white-haired guy off the couch and urged everyone to hurry.
“What do you all—just sweep it under the rug or something, why even bother cleaning up?!” The white-haired person exclaimed. “Why d’you kick me out, anyway? That’s no way to…”
“Enough. This unsightly appearance is unbefitting of—”
“Don’t act so calm and mighty, Aeth! Just help out.”
“Why not just—” there was a snap of a finger and everything disappeared “—zap it away?”
“Are you kidding me? We spent five thousand dollars on those foods and furniture! You can’t just throw it at some part of the universe without any care! How are we going to get them back! What about the TV! How hard is it to find a job!” the red-eyed man yelled in exasperation.
“Can you worry about that problem later? Just look at yourselves!”
Loud banter reverberated across the place.
“Excuse me?” Valeriana came forward with an awkward smile. “I’m sorry—who are you guys and what are we here for?”
“The—um…” The blonde guy cleared his throat. “Welcome, uh…my name is Larkov!” He nudged the white-haired guy beside him. “Quick! Call Aristeon! Ask if we can turn back time, even just a few minutes!”
“You think that girl will help? She hates us!”
The Twelve were speechless. They did not need a lot more to be able to piece two and two together. They had all arrived at the same conclusions—these guys were the five “great” gods of Valemnia.
“No wonder I’m not so religious,” Tamara remarked quietly from the side.
“Hey, that’s not very—”
Ding dong. A familiar startling doorbell sound echoed throughout the space, followed by knocks. “Hello? Chinese food delivery!”
The faces of the five gods darkened further.
The guy who was referred to as Aeth earlier kneaded his forehead. “Arland, go and get the food.”
The red-eyed man padded towards a space in the cosmic environment. There didn’t seem to be any door. However, as he walked forward, a knob appeared when he reached out. He pulled it open, revealing a guy in delivery uniform holding boxes of Chinese food.
“Thank you so much,” the delivery guy said with a bright smile. “It’s already been paid for online, right?”
“Yeah. Here’s a tip.” Arland promptly handed over twenty dollars and then closed the door.
Valeriana could no longer hold it down and looked away, snorting as she tried to stifle her laughter. “I-I’m sorry.”
The other members of the Twelve did not get the humor, perhaps because they were not familiar with Earth culture, but Valeriana was very nearly going to lose her marbles trying to keep her laughter in.
“Have you had enough?” Arland looked at her pointedly.
She coughed and tried to compose herself. “Yeah…um…” She coughed a few more times. “Was that…a gate to Earth?” Valeriana asked. “Have you been connecting there all this time?”
She wanted to ask whether it would be possible to make a short trip back home, but she didn’t feel as though this would be the most appropriate time. However, the five gods knew clearly what was running through her mind at that moment.
“Now’s not the time for that, dear,” the white-haired guy said, clearing his throat.
“Since it’s already like this, why don’t you join us for dinner?” the bubbly boy offered. “We can just discuss this over the meal. We usually have large appetites, so this should be enough.”
“That’s very you to offer to settle everything over meal, but large appetites mainly only pertain to you, Denovega,” Arland pointed out. “The question here is whether you’ll be able to control your portion enough to allow everyone to eat.”
Denovega wilted somewhat. “Okay.”
“We’d like to indulge you all, but…we’d rather get straight to the point and get back since Valemnia is not exactly in a good position,” Charles told them.
This scenario feels a little familiar, Valeriana thought.
“Well, that’s one way to do it,” Aether replied. “Has things developed to that point already?”
“It was wrong timing too. We were bingeing the Kingdom Knights series. They just released the next installment!”
Valeriana was startled. “No way! Which one?”
“The ninth one!”
“Wh—you mean I’ve missed so many?!”
“Kingdom Knights, that thing we watched back when Val got her laptop?” Genevieve asked. “Can we—”
“I think we’ve missed the point,” Lady Manilla said.
“Since that’s the case…forget it. Let’s jump straight into the main event since the younguns are in such a hurry,” Preluré said.
“We’ll tell you the key to ending the war,” Aether began.
They all held their breaths.
“The core of the presence of demonic energy is Valdis’s existence. Erythnell’s interference with the balance also caused the death of the God Tree—Caelleus,” Denovega said.
“There are two things you must do to end the war once and for all. That is; kill Valdis and resurrect the God Tree.”
Resurrect the God Tree. What the heck?
“What happens if we fail?” Zion asked.
“Valemnia will cease to exist. It’s the literal end of the world. Chaos will swallow all and everything. Once the balance tips over totally, Valemnia will be swallowed into the void.”
The cosmic scenery before them turned to one of pure black.
They all did not think it would be that bad. They thought there would be hope for redemption, but it turned out it would be the end if they did not manage to seize victory.
“You’ve already begun to achieve the first step. The Jade Fortress is key to resurrecting the God Tree. You will need to defend it from Valdis. He will come after it. Once he corrupts the seed before it sprouts, it will spread chaos instead of the governing elements. By then, it would be too late.”
“At the same time, we’ll have to guard the other continents from demonic attacks,” Lady Manilla said. “But, indeed, the war will have to occur in Varialon.”
The fourth-ranker hammered a fist down to his palm. “This was the direction we needed. I’ve always felt a little aimless in the past. I didn’t know what the goals were other than to defend,” Charles muttered. He took out his notebook and diligently began to take notes.
“Where is the seed now?” Corvan asked.
“Come with us.”
Preluré waved a hand and a cracked appeared in the space. The five gods walked through a barrier of light and the Twelve, though reluctant, all followed behind. Despite a layer of distrust towards the five men, they still had an obligation to find out how to put a stop to the end of the world.
Pure white space similar to the Nowhere place Valeriana had woken from came before them.
“This place, there’s nothing,” Keelan said.
“There doesn’t need to be anything,” Denovega replied. “It’s a blank canvas. To fill it with life once more will take millennia. Although we have a lot of free time, we’re feeling very lazy.”
They walked and walked until, finally, there was a small pedestal. Aether picked up a round and white ball and handed it over to Valeriana.
“You’ve come this far. You’ve done well,” Aether spoke with familiarity. “But don’t you tell my wife anything.”
Valeriana smiled. “Don’t worry. They’re safe,” she told him.
“So…why now? Why not four thousand years ago?” Aneeka asked, eyeing the subtle exchange between the god and her comrade with a quirk of her brow.
Corvan did not look pleased either.
“Did you think the Tree of Life is easy to plant and grow?” Arland pointed out. “It took four thousand years to properly procure a seed. We spent hundreds of millennia creating Valemnia last time. This tree alone, to support it, took half the time. This is already express service. Why do you think it’s been so hard to answer prayers the past couple of thousands of years? We’ve been working overtime!”
They were all silent.
“Okay. Let’s send them back,” Denovega said.
“Aren’t you forgetting something though?” Arland asked.
Larkov sighed. “Right.”