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"Xylena?!" Sylvester exclaimed, remembering how she had been in his visions for so long during the initial years of his life. He had seen her entire life, and somehow, she had seen his as well. Her abilities to communicate through magic and learn Elder Magic to a minor degree were also quite interesting.
"She's the key?" Sylvester wondered.
"That is for you to find out," Nehilius said, having given Sylvester all the clues that he could. "We shall continue your training now."
Sylvester silently nodded, even though his mind was filled with questions and possibilities. He wanted to go out and rush to find Xylena quickly. But he knew how important patience was and, even more importantly, this training. Without it, even if he knew where to find the Primordial Gods, it'd make no difference.
"How do we start?"
"We begin by reconstructing your body with the blood of the dragon," Nehilius briefly explained. "It will be painful and grant you the physical strength of a dragon and its affinity to fire, effectively turning you into a higher life-form."
"How long will it take? What do I need to do for that to happen?"
"It will take a year in this world, a night in yours. What I require from you is nothing, but your tolerance to pain shall decide everything," Nehilius informed him.
But right then, Sylvester's mind went into paranoia mode, 'How can I be sure he won't do something to my body? This could be his attempt to turn me into a perfect body for him to possess.'
At the end of the day, it was a fact that this Elder God was a supreme being, able to create planets, lifeforms, and memories out of thin air. Before him, Sylvester knew his existence was nothing.
'If he wants to pass on his knowledge, what's stopping him from passing on his consciousness as well.'
It was a dreadful conflict in his mind. He knew he needed all the power he could get, but at the same time, he had to be sure the pursuit didn't leave him on the losing side.
"Distrust?" Nehilius sensed it.
Sylvester directly responded, "Learning from you is one thing. But to allow you to meddle with my biology is a danger I can't bring myself to take. You could be plotting anything, and I would never know until it's too late."
"You stand correct, human," Nehilius was honest as well. "But understand that if I desired to do something, I would have done it the moment you stepped into this realm. I am the controller, the ruler, the creator, and the destroyer here—I do not need your approval to harm you or rebuild your body. If I wanted to control you, I would have done so long ago."
"That means you do possess the ability to take over my physical body?" Sylvester questioned, his suspicions growing even more.
"Naturally, I do. But I have no desire to battle against the Primordial Gods."
"And how do I believe that?"
"You cannot without trusting it. It is a gamble for you and nothing for me."
Sylvester silently thought about it for a long time. But in the end, he couldn't allow this to happen. Not unless he had the means to fight against the control that the Elder God may try to place on him. He had read too many stories, and there was a reason why they all appeared so hideous with evil intentions.
"I'll have to spend some time contemplating. So let's ignore the evolution and focus on Electromagnetic Manipulation," Sylvester decided and changed the topic. "Can you create a sun-sized planet with its own intense magnetic fields? I'll attempt to destroy that planet."
"As long as it leads to a path of progress, we shall proceed," Nehilius used his powers and moved Sylvester through time and space inside his realm.
Out of nowhere, they arrived in space, outside of a massive planet that appeared like any other world with water, land, and atmosphere.
"This world contains a strong magnetic field, a larger core, and—a primitive civilization of minor hunters and gatherers," Nehilius pushed Sylvester towards the planet and placed him on the surface. "Destroy this world—its species—all its life."
"I asked for one without any life on it."
Nehilius didn't care, "If you cannot destroy this, you do not possess enough fortitude to destroy your enemy's world."
Sylvester sighed and silently looked at the planet. He had already killed so many over his period of training, and he wanted to retain his humanity by remaining compassionate towards the living. However, it seemed like he needed to become indifferent to rise as an Elder God's apprentice.
'He created them just a moment ago anyway.' He told himself before landing his feet on the planet.
However, it wasn't going to be easy. His control over the electromagnetic fields still wasn't that high. So, to even sense the planet's magnetic field, it was going to take a lot of time.
"Maxy, what do I do?"
"Train your abilities to change in size, and maybe flight? Try to strengthen your back to be able to lift more weight while flying." Sylvester gave his little friend a few vague tasks.
'I can feel it slightly… this planet is much bigger than usual, after all,' Sylvester felt the difference; even the gravity was slightly heavier. 'This is going to take a very long time.'…
While Sylvester was training, a special mission arrived at a particular place in Beastaria. Elrog, the chief elder of the dwarves of Sol, found his way through the mountains of Whiskeypeak of the dwarves of Beastaria and finally reached the capital city—Ironstead.
With the finest warriors of dwarves of Sol and some powerful knights and wizards, he safely traveled the vast distance. Now, with the thousand-year war over and slavery abolished, and the elves overseeing it all—Beastaria was a safer place.
Elrog had no clue about the original home of the dwarves since he was born and raised in captivity in the Masan Empire. His culture had been isolated, and he had no idea what a dwarven society looked like.
However, now that he looked at the city etched into the mountains, he found it wasn't that different after all. He noticed a lot of men and women going to work, returning from work, a lot of taverns with loud dwarves drinking, and others selling items to creatures of other species.
"You said someone will come to guide us?" Elrog asked his main protector, Dagorith, a man who now mostly worked for Sylvester as a Grand Wizard for hire. He didn't mind since the pay was high. He received a lot of respect, a lifetime of free food at the Bard's, and the ability to walk around and live inside the Holy Land.
"I may or may not have miscalculated the time difference," Dagorith confessed. "But worry not. The late Sir Dolorem and I once came here in the past, to meet with the dwarves. The name of the Dwarven King is Galagar Ironcloak, and he even follows the faith of Solis alongside the Iron Gods."
Elrog felt excited, and they soon walked out of one mountain tunnel and arrived at a massive, open valley. However, what they saw before them made their jaws drop. It was a gigantic statue under construction with hundreds of dwarves hanging around its parts, hammering and smithing. The statue was made of iron and stood over two hundred feet tall.
"T-That's…" Elrog lacked the words to say.
"That's His Holiness!" Dagorith exclaimed and grabbed a random dwarf walking by. "Why are you making the statue of the human Pope?"
The random dwarf annoyedly barked back, "Why? Because your mum wants to sit on it… Annoying tourists…"
Dagorith's face fell under his tight black cloth mask. However, instead of making a scene, he stepped back and pushed Elrog forward to ask the same thing. And this time, the random dwarf was much kinder, annoying Dagorith even more.
"…The Merkins commissioned it. They want to erect in the middle of the body of water created from the destruction of the Divider Swamp. They want it to be their sign of appreciation and gratefulness towards the human Pope."
Elrog and Dagorith looked at the statue in awe after that, wondering if the Pope knew this was happening.
Once again, the two felt at ease, knowing that following Sylvester was the greatest decision of their lives. If even the Merkins liked him, there was no reason for dwarves to hate him.
"I hope King Ironcloak feels the same as the Merkins," Elrog muttered, continuing his way for the fateful meeting.
Alfia, High Ragnum.
As always, the Elder Council gathered to discuss various matters. This time, there was a much more serious matter to discuss as they were about to lose one-tenth of their population, and it wasn't the slaves.
"Your Majesty, if the half-elves leave, we won't even have people to hire. The humans have all left, and there are no other species in Beastaria who look even a part as delicate and refined as us. We have to stop them by any means," Elder Ellitran insisted, urging the King to take action.
In a rare moment, even the First Elder, Florian, agreed, "It will be an economic catastrophe for us. Half-elves have been the ones to run most of our businesses, manage them, and even man the royal trade fleet. Now, if they follow the slaves and go to Sol, we will lose a good portion of our economy."
King Rathagun sighed, sitting relaxed in his seat, "We can't force them to stay as that would violate the terms we agreed on with Pope Sylvester."
Rathagun raised his palm and silenced Elder Folmer. "From the way I see it. It is time we elves stop being a species of lazy leeches and start doing work with our own hands. We have to man our own business and take care of our own interests."
"That will upset the populace! You're stripping away their way of life, King Rathagun!" Elder Ellitran warned him in a threatening tone, "They might rise against you."
Rathagun's gaze turned sharper, and he stared at his father-in-law like a lion looking at a lamb, "Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but wasn't it you who agreed on the terms written by Pope Sylvester? Was it not you who signed the surrender? Why do you shout at me instead of finding solutions to a problem of your own creation?"
Speechless! Every single man at the table lost their tongue. Their heads hung low in shame and discomfort. Even Ellitran looked away furiously, knowing he couldn't argue.
'Oh, my dear son, such an amazing tool you have handed me,' Rathagun enjoyed silencing the Elders like that.
"Nevertheless, I will look into this matter and ask Avanss to find good-looking humans we can hire to work for us under the new terms." Having had enough, he got up to leave, "I must go now. My beautiful queen awaits me for a private dinner under the moonlight."
Elder Ellitran's eyes widened as he looked at Rathagun. Gone was his anger, his discomfort. Just hearing his son-in-law call his daughter beautiful and spend time with her was worth everything.
"Of course… I will take care of these old ones. Go, Your Majesty," Ellitran nudged, losing all his shame.
'So easy to manipulate,' Rathagun sighed and left, silently thanking Sylvester for teaching him his ways.
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