[Edited by: StarFly]
On top of the bloody altar.
Three torture chairs besmeared with blood were placed in a triangle shape on top of it. Greem, Acteon, and Mary were now sitting in these chairs. They had a blank look on their face, as if they were waiting for something to happen.
Below them, on the first and second level of the altar, all Apprentice Adepts were messily placed and piled up. A huge bloody hole could be seen on each and every single one of these dead bodies, blood was gurgling out from them. The magical runes on the altar had absorbed these fresh blood and became full and started to light up one after another.
A bloody mist gradually diffused from the altar, giving it a touch of mysteriousness and evil.
When all the evil runes on the altar were lit, a faint murmur of souls begun to linger in the air. Immediately after that, countless wraiths and spirits made their appearance in this place, flying and hovering in a circle around the altar. From time to time, their vague, incorporeal visage would transform into beautiful girls with splendid outlooks or transformed into a dreadful ghosts with withered faces…
A creepy, ghostly laughter incessantly lingered on.
Within this evil and bizarre scene where angels and demons kept shifting like the clouds, the dead bodies of apprentices lying flat on the altar quickly withered. It was as if all their blood, flesh, and soul were extracted by some external beings. Very soon, they shrunk and turned into messengers of death which looked similar to Ghouls.
The red glow on the altar became more striking!
If someone tried to perform a blood sacrifice ritual in a material plane with a tight and complete principles, he would immediately attract the strong backlash from the Will of the Plane. It was especially true for the Adept World, which was a major scale plane, as it was highly possible that the master of the ritual would evoke a deadly backlash.
Adept Anderson had spent a huge effort in constructing this bloody altar. And obviously, he was able to divert the backlash coming from the Will of the Plane into three nodes of the ritual. As the result, when the blood sacrifice ritual was commencing, Greem, Acteon, Mary, all three of them were tightly strapped onto the torture chairs, and their bodies were shivering violently.
It was not fear that caused them to shiver, but because they were locked down by an unspeakable Will of Vastness from a remote space. Through the layer of principle, it kept sending forth its anger over into these three apprentices. Pressured by this Will of Vastness, blood starting to burst out from their mouth and nose, while a flow of blood also seen coming down from the corner of their eyes and ears.
Yet, these damages to their corporeal bodies could not be compared with the severe injuries inflicted on their souls. If not because the bloody altar kept extracting the life force of those apprentices and replenishing their consumption, perhaps right at the very moment when Greem and the other two got in touch with the Will of Vastness, they had already vanished into thin air.
But even so, during the continuous collision between their own will and the consciousness of the Plane, their soul had been riddled with a thousand gaping wounds and became extremely weak and fragile. Although such wounds on their soul could be fixed using the fragments of soul sent over by the altar, it was rather easy that these foreign souls would contaminate their own soul.
In addition to that, these fragments of soul extracted by the altar were stained with a huge amount of negative emotions, such as anger, hatred, fear, sadness, which was the last thing that filled those apprentices before they were killed.
By letting so many negative emotions surge into their minds, for an ordinary soul, no doubt it was something extremely frightening. Judging from this point alone, that Adept Anderson simply never cared whether the three of them could truly become an Adept or not. He was using the method of blood sacrifice to repeatedly stimulate their soul and potential of their body, using the approach of ‘help the shoots grow by pulling them upward’ to overdraw their vitality and Spirit.
When their entire body and soul were brewed to the maximum, strongest moment, perhaps it would be the moment their Spirit crossed the line of qualitative change that came from quantitative accumulation, thereby using the huge amounts of negative emotions as the core and formed into their own conscious core. As the matter of fact, many books of magic called this process of Pseudo-Adept advanced into Adept as ‘Crystallizing the Spirit Consciousness’.
Only when a Pseudo-Adept could smoothly, completely, and steadily formed his own conscious core, his advancement ceremony was considered a true success. What Adept Anderson prepared for Greem and the other two was actually an immature, unstable ceremony of Adept Advancement.
Affected by the power of blood sacrifice, the trio might be able to improve their bodies, souls, and Spirits to the lowest requirement of advancing into the realm of Adept in a very short amount of time, and eventually, form their very own conscious core. But once the power of the blood sacrifice faded away, under the condition where they didn’t have a stable understanding of the Principles, sooner or later, their conscious core would disintegrate and cause irreversible damage to their souls.
Nevertheless, Adept Anderson didn’t care anything about this. What he wanted was the brief moment when the trio entered the period of qualitative change!
He just had to take the opportunity of that brief moment when the trio became official Adepts, using them as the sacrificial offerings and performed a second blood sacrifice ritual. With that done, he would only have to withstand a little amount of backlash from the Will of the Plane and would be able to instantly devour three conscious cores which had just formed into shape. At that moment, he would have 30-40% of chances of breaking through the bottleneck that had been holding him back for many years and becoming a Second Grade Adept who would be highly sought after in the Zhentarim Association.
At the thought of a magnificent future waiting in front of him, Anderson’s mind started to boil with excitement. But the further he progressed into his plan, the lesser room was left for him to relax and slacken. Therefore, he forcefully calmed down his surging emotions and payed a close and tight attention to the slightest changes to the trio who were now strapping on the torture chairs.
By this time, the blood sacrifice ritual had slowly entered to its climax. Three sacrificial offerings were now in the critical moment of forming their conscious cores. If that little kid really did have some special preparation, then this would be the best moment for him to launch his counterattack.
That was the reason why Adept Anderson used his powerful Spirit and through different approaches, he put up a high vigilance, closely monitoring even the tiniest bit of changes of the trio. Enduring the painful mental suffering, he waited patiently for any abnormal changes that might happen at any time.
Just as he expected, right at the moment when the force of blood sacrifice on the bloody altar reached to its densest level, the damn change of situation had finally arrived.
It happened right from that Greem!
He was now sitting straight on the torture chair. Stimulated by the intense life force and soul aura, his entire body had expanded a few times larger than before. Tiny cracks were seen filled up every single inch on his burly and tough muscle. An extremely high temperature was emanating from within his body.
It was obvious that he took the path of Element Adept, and was focusing on Fire element. However, within this Adept Advancement Ceremony, there wasn’t any resource available to support and strengthened his Fire element innate talent. As the result, once the backlash of advancement occurred, among three of them, most probably he would be the one who suffered the most severe consequence.
It was perhaps he had sensed his own miserable destiny, Greem, who had his body and soul totally controlled by the paper-man, suddenly trembled in a violent manner. An intense Fire element source energy was ignited and starting to burn fiercely within his body, kindled his entire body in an instant, including even his soul.
Adept Anderson’s face turned livid immediately.
Within his spiritual sense, the paper-man hiding inside of Greem’s soul kept letting out shrill cries of dread. However, it was not the paper-man who gave out the order of igniting his body and soul!
Could it be… could this Greem like that Acteon, be hiding a secondary consciousness within the depths of his soul?
No matter how hard Adept Anderson tried to ponder, he would never understand the Chip’s unique form of existence.
The Chip had merged into Greem’s genes, and in fact, it was more like an auxiliary brain of his. All the functioning and thinking of this brain was carried out with the method of bioelectric currents, thus it was near impossible for it to be detected from the outside. Even though Adept Anderson was a treacherous and careful person, throughout the dozens of monitoring he performed, he actually just focused on traces of magic spell and ripples of Elementium and Spirit.
Through such extraordinary form of existence, the Chip was able to conceal itself from his detection and hid quietly within Greem’s body.
As the matter of fact, with regard to the possible changes and development of the blood sacrifice ritual, Greem had carried out countless inferences and deductions with the Chip. As long as that Adept Anderson didn’t go crazy, then before the ritual begun, using a magic spell or method to gain the control over Greem and the other two was a certain choice for him!
Therefore, at the beginning of the event, Greem didn’t hide anything and straightaway showed Anderson his trump card. After all, no matter what he said or did, Anderson would still do what he supposed to do, so, Greem might as well not hide anything from him. And by doing that, he actually stirred Anderson’s mind and caused Anderson to be filled with suspicions.
Actually, Greem really couldn’t stop the bizarre paper-men from invading his body, and was controlled by it using a special method. Fortunately, by predicting all kinds of possible situations that he might face, Greem had drafted out hundreds and thousands of counter measurements with the Chip.
What the Chip needed to do was, when Greem lost his self-consciousness, and right at the most critical moment of the blood sacrifice ritual, it would just have to select a most suitable solution and execute it. After all, in the aspect of controlling the body, the paper-man could never be compared to the Chip, which was part of Greem’s body.
And the solution picked by the Chip was: Self-burning!
The Chip had no idea about what kind of form the paper-man existed in. Nevertheless, it had just known one thing: the paper-man was not a Fire element creature!
Burning himself completely, ignited himself thoroughly, from his body to his blood and flesh to his soul, anything that could be burned was now covered in fierce flames.
Sitting on the torture chair, Greem’s body kept trembling violently. He threw his head back and let out a long, painful groan into the sky. A flame jet of extremely high temperature burst out from his nose and mouth. Amidst this deadly flame jet, the paper-man was struggling and roaring furiously in pain. But very soon, it was kindled by the fierce flame, starting to burn, and eventually, turned into a pile of ashes and vanished into thin air.
Greem had finally freed himself from the restrictions put on his soul and regained his consciousness from the emptiness!
Right after he was awakened, Greem immediately frowned his brows painfully.
In a trance, two extremely opposite consciousnesses came from his body and soul made him felt like as if his mind had been broken into two. Or else, why was he sensing two totally opposite yet sharp feelings from his consciousness?
One of the feelings kept telling him that he was in a perfectly fine condition. The endless supply of life force, fragments of soul that filled with deep understanding of different knowledge, all these things were rushing into his body and soul continuously, kept strengthening and expanding him.
He had a false impression, that he could keep growing stronger like this without any limit!
On the other end, the second feeling was totally opposite to the first. An intense crisis of death had wrapped his entire body and soul, causing his soul to turn gloomy and dark. He never felt so weak and small before, it was like a balloon filling with air had reached its limit, and maybe in the next seconds, it would burst with a loud boom and vanished into nothingness.
Both feelings were so vivid and direct and they both had deeply engraved the strongest feeling into the depths of Greem’s soul, making him believe them without a shadow of the doubt.
Was he strong or weak? Was he walking toward the pinnacle of his life or still lingering at the brink of death?
In an instant, Greem was perplexed by the feelings he felt!