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Chapter 8


“Unfortunately, there is precious little that we can say of the Old Gods, save that they were the ones to break the First. For while they were indeed Gods by any comparable measure of power, they did not linger long among us mortals, and nor did they demand worship. Instead, from what few ancient records tell us, they simply retreated back to the fabled domain of Elysium, the Ivory City of the First, and sealed it away so thoroughly that both of theirs very existence has fallen away to merely legend.”

—Part Three, The Origin of Incarnation, Gaesen Reed,The Age of Tyrants, circa 3638

So…that’s what happened, Vincent thought tiredly as he lay in his bed and stared up the ceiling, his mind having awoken racing as soon as the memory had ended. It…it was Bel that saved me. Right before he sent me here.

Vincent thoughts stilled for a second as he reconsidered that train of thought, lifting his riven hand so that he could look at it. No, he didn’t send me. Because this really isn’t my body. Rather… he reincarnated me. Or what was left of me at least. If that blast I felt in my memory was truly the Seed of Origin erupting…then, well…it’s miracle there was anything for Bel to save. None of the others would have survived. Including…including Zera…whoever she was…

Letting out a defeated sigh Vincent let his hand fall to his face so he could tiredly rub his brow, feeling his emotions raging wildly within him. Or at least reincarnation is the only thing that I can think of that even comes close to making a shred of sense to explain what’s happened to me. How I ended up here, reborn in a brand new body, yet still with my soul a charred husk of the blast that all bit killed me.

Yet even with that explanation it didn’t help him come to terms that a god thought lost to time for several millennia had arrived suddenly from beyond the realm, saved him from the edge of true death, then conscripted him for a quest that he couldn’t even begin to understand.

Let alone attempt to fulfill, he added, idly wishing that there were more hidden fragments left lying somewhere in his mind for him to find, something, anything to give him a better idea of what to do next.

But unfortunately he was not so lucky.

If there was anything else, it was likely taken with the rest of my memories and melds, Vincent thought as he considered just what it could mean for the realm if a Soul Thief had not just accidentally taken his memories along with his melds, but actually delved into them afterwards. If by anything that he’d seen so far was any indication, he had lived a life unlike any other, to stay nothing of the displacement of time involved. With the random flashes of knowledge I get…it is impossible to know what they have taken against what has simply been lost within the remaining tatters of my sleeping mind, waiting for something to bring it forth. But if by chance they took something important. Be it forbidden knowledge, secrets of the past, or whatever else…that will be my responsibility to fix as well. Assuming I can in the first place, among everything else gone wrong in this realm.

It was that thought that turned him back to how he fallen into his pit of introspection, how he had found not only the memory of his death but also the other revelation, equally shattering revelation once his desperate attempt at mending his spirit had finished.

In the case of the first, he’d stumbled upon it practically by luck during his efforts. The snarled ball of anima that represented it had been quite literally hanging on by a thread when he’d found it, almost accidentally slicing it away while he had been working on his last and final meld. The meld that as it happened represented the mana channels running through his body, and up until the moment that he had finished sheering it away had kept him isolated from the mana of world. 

Originally he had left it for last because he had thought it the easiest of his melds to shear away, and most importantly, one that would bring him the least amount of discomfort. Unfortunately, Vincent couldn’t have been more wrong, for as soon as he sheared away the last of the mana burned meld from his soul, which instantly relaxed what few channels were intact. This immediately allowed him to not only sense, but draw in mana from the world, something that he found himself choking at, almost forgetting about the memory in the process.

And that was because not only did he sense more aspected mana than he ever thought should be around him, but that nearly all the mana he sensed was dim, lightless, almost completely inert.

Hidden from his senses until his riven meld no longer interfered, Vincent remembered how alarmed he had been to first sense himself drawing in shadow mana instead of the aether mana he’d been expecting. Let alone the fact that almost all of said mana felt completely wrong as it flooded into his body, its presence sticking his channels as if it were glue. It was a worry that only intensified from there when after his immediate reflex went to expel the mana, he couldn’t, if not at least at first, the mana saying firmly in place.

 Fortunately, such an inconvenience was short lived, for once Vincent realized something was wrong and brought his full Will to bear, he was able to force the mana out of his body, coalescing it into a lifeless, completely dark mana shard. It was at that point, once he had a chance to inspect the dark, dormant shard of glass that he realized that there was something truly and irrevocably wrong with the realm. 

And now that he had reintegrated the lost memory that he had recovered from within his mind, he knew why.

The Seed of Origin was responsible for renewing of all the mana in our world, or at least that’s what I can remember, Vincent thought as he continued to rub his head, wondering if at some point that it would just explode from how fast his mind was spinning inside it. Yet before it was destroyed…before Zera destroyed it. I remember her saying that something was eating it, something from beyond the door. That must be the corruption that Bel spoke about. Does that mean she didn’t manage to stop it in time?

Vincent paused in his thoughts to reach out with his senses to consider the dead mana shard he held in his hand as well as what filled the air around him, thoughts swirling all the while. If the seed was destroyed then that means all the mana that it had was likely released all at once, bathing the domain in…well, everything. That would explain why there is simply so much aspected mana in the air around me. So much that it has completely overwhelmed any and all of the Aether mana I’d expect to find around me instead. But then how did all that mana escape the domain and get into the realm itself in the first place? Better yet, how does Bel expect me to solve that problem either?

That was a whole other topic that Vincent had barely even begun to attempt to wrap his mind around. Everything that the Old God had told him had been surreal beyond any rational expectation, especially in light of where he was now. The Old God had mentioned having troubles with the passing of time, however had they truly intended to reincarnate him so far into the future? And in such an injured state? Or had something unexpected gone wrong with the flow of time and it was only now that he had a chance to be reborn, with all of his injuries? Did that even leave him with enough time to fulfill the cryptic quest that he had been given? Bel had been obviously injured when Vincent had seen them standing just beyond the Door of Eternity, the supposed gate to Heaven and the Beyond that waited past the wonders of Elysium. So it was easily believable that something could have gone wrong. Especially when one considered the destruction of something as foundational to the realm as the Seed of Origin. 

So does that mean that the realm is dying now? Vincent wondered as he followed the logic to its natural end. Is all this dead mana I see around me now the result of not having the seed to renew what naturally expires? If it is…then that means at some point, the realm will run out of living mana, run out of everything that gives it solidity, existence. And when that happens…everything, everywhere will fall apart.

Or it will, if I don’t find the Font or these Echoes Bel told me about, Vincent added after a second’s thought, unable to help but quiver at just how close he’d come to losing that critical piece of knowledge. Had his concentration been any less focused or the Soul Thief that had carved his memories away a bit more patient then all would have been lost.

That is if it wasn’t already.

“All right, that’s enough of that,” Vincent said aloud, realizing that he was wasting his time. With everything that had happened to him so far, he could easily spend a lifetime unpacking and theorizing and not actually get anywhere. Right now if he wanted to make progress in understanding anything, however marginal, he needed to act, first in rebuilding his power, then second, to find out more about the state of the realm around him.

Which means that before I do anything else, I need to reform my Nexus, Vincent thought with a slow exhale as he pushed himself up into a seated position on his now exceptionally soiled bed, an entire week of his sweat drenched body lying on it having done it no favors.Fortunately though, there was only one last step left for him to finish. Then he could be on his way out of the room, looking for whatever answers he could find.

Fortunately now that he had finished mending his spirit Vincent didn’t think that tackling this last task of his would take long, or he certainly didn’t expect it to. For while he might have lost the majority of his memories belonging to his past life, the same couldn’t be said for the secrets of Incarnation. As such, he expected the actual creation of his Nexus to be a nigh effortless thing on his part.

That is once he decided on just how to form it.

It was be a waste of the opportunity before me to form a traditional Nexus, Vincent thought as he settled in on the bed with his legs crossed, his mind delving into the void that existed between his body and soul. Nor do even one of the supposedly advanced designs seem like they would be worthy of the gift before me. No…I need something truly exceptional…something…unique.

Yet as Vincent looked upon the blank canvas that was his Soul Well, nothing that could be described as such jumped into his mind, leaving him to simply drift. Normally when a neophyte was at this stage, they had few options before them, those of which were largely limited to what support they had when embarking on the Path of Incarnation. Neophytes with limited or even self-taught support, tended to instinctively form a spherical Nexus as they were not only the easiest to create but generally conveyed no negatives or positives to its future potential. It was a safe, traditional, and well-rounded option to choose.

However for those with more backing, knowledge, and thus more time and training to hone their Will, the potential options only grew, with more complicated designs, such as cubic, diamond like, or radiant Nexuses being next most common. These variants, unlike the spherical design had benefits and drawbacks to them, especially when the precision of which they’d been formed with was taken into account. It was these very benefits that Vincent contemplated, weighing each of them one by one in his mind as he searched for a true burst of inspiration. Moreover, it was a contemplation that his Insight picked up on, making a running list of his thoughts so that they stayed at the forefront of his mind.

Baseline Nexus Design:


  • Difficulty of Creation: Effortless
  • Estimated Quality: Perfect (Grade: A)
  • Attributes: 
    • All Core Attributes – Rank B

Advanced Nexus Designs:


  • Difficulty of Creation: Effortless
  • Estimated Quality: Perfect (Grade: A)
  • Attributes: 
    • Total Capacity: Rank A
    • Stability: Rank A
    • Channeling Speed: Rank C
    • Regeneration Speed: Rank C


  • Difficulty of Creation: Effortless
  • Estimated Quality: Perfect (Grade: A)
  • Attributes: 
    • Channeling Speed: Rank A
    • Total Capacity: Rank A
    • Stability: Rank C 
    • Regeneration Speed: Rank C


  • Difficulty of Creation: Effortless
  • Estimated Quality: Perfect (Grade: A)
  • Attributes: 
    • Regeneration Speed: Rank A
    • Channeling Speed: Rank A 
    • Total Capacity: Rank C
    • Stability: Rank C

Could I combine elements of them together maybe? Potentially…create some sort of fractal? Vincent thought as he considered the most obvious choices, and then the less so ones, trying to figure out what appealed to him most. Choosing a style of Nexus was a critical choice in one’s path, for it had the potential to change how one approached not only the path of Incarnation, but their working of magic along the way. As such some chose to specialize right from the beginning, choosing larger reservoirs, or faster channeling speeds, trading off that benefit for a lesser one of another core attribute. However for Vincent’s case, he wasn’t willing to make any tradeoffs if he could help it.

No, that won’t work, he thought after attempting to envision just how he would do that, every mental model that he run telling him that such a Nexus would almost certainly collapse, likely killing him in the process. 

 Something that given all the effort he had just undertaken to repair his soul, he very much wanted to avoid.

So instead he turned his mind in another direction, simply focusing on the metaphysical vastness of his Soul Well and the nature of a Nexus, allowing his thoughts to wander for a time. He wasn’t sure how long he was there in the void, but eventually his thoughts took him back to the memory that he had just witnessed. Yet as it did, it wasn’t to relive the cryptic chain of events that he had little context for, but to rather dissect the people and the magic he saw. A process that he discovered was aided by the absolutely incredible amount of information that his Insight had collected, unbeknownst to him until that moment. Much of it was rote, that was for certain, the minute flows of mana, virtues, and Will through each of his opponents.

But for what little did not fall into that category, Vincent found it more precious than gold, his attention eventually fixating upon the sources of all the magic he saw in his memories, specifically, each of the Nexuses that they’d been launched form. It was an absolutely riveting experience for him to peer at each of their cores as they flared with power, getting an insight as to what others had achieved at their peaks. But as fascinating as it was to see how both Malvis and Zera had chosen to form and advance their Nexuses, neither of them were as fascinating as what he saw within Bel.

It…it is an realm beyond measure, Vincent thought, a headache instantly forming in his mind as he tried to process everything his Insight had taken in during his brief encounter with the god, one that he had been too distracted in the moment to even realize. Yet now, as he sifted through the intricacies of his memories he was able to see what he had missed. No, it’s even larger than that, it’s…it’s as if they took multiple realms…wait, that’s it! That’s what Bel did!

This was it, this was exactly what Vincent had been looking for when it came to inspiration. Moreover it he found it to have a sort of poetry to it. After all it had been Bel who had conscripted him for this quest, so it was only fitting that Vincent took payment in kind for it. That said however, Vincent simply couldn’t just skip to a power beyond even an Avatar, beyond what he increasingly certain he had been in his previous life. Rather instead, he needed to start small and allow himself to grow into that power.

And now that he’d seen what Bel, one of the Old Gods had done, he knew how could do the same.

By not just limiting myself to one Nexus, he thought as an idea rapidly formed in his mind. One that with a little luck could set him on the very same path to achieve what Bel had wrought, beyond even his past life. The only reason why we limit ourselves to just a single Nexus is because the scope of our control as neophytes, and thus our Will, just isn’t capable of creating more. But for someone who has that control…well, why stop at just one?

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