Editors: Templar, Jack Vanatis,
Author’s notes: Shortest chapter so far. This was a decision I made to cut the end of it and place it in the next chapter. But at least this chapter is a solution to that greedy cliffhanger I left you with last time. This one has a little more closure.
I am currently writing Chapter 14 of CotE, which will be the final chapter released here for free. At least it will be until Volume 1 is published, in which the initial plan to release the remainder at a speed of one or two a week will be implemented.
There is no chapter plan for this chapter on my Patreon. I am currently only doing the chapter plan for End Online chapters there as I am trying to maintain an average of writing ~2000 words/day(apart from the days I vanish into the void called the internet). I originally hadn’t planned on mentioning this, but I post other things for those who support me by donating $1 or more a month. Everyone who supports me there… already knows this ^.^
Changes made to previous chapters:
~ Removed weapons having their own skill trees.
~ Alchemy and Martial skills usually have 3 – 4 skill paths, Crafting and Miscellaneous usually have 1 – 2 skill paths.
~ Made Piora in chapter 8 a person that the students admire from afar but don’t get close to her. (Consistency for a later chapter)
~ Skills in character info are now arranged alphabetical and not in order of aquired.
Chapter 10 – Fatherly Advice
Within the Temple of Life, Regal continues to bask in the golden radiance of the light within the chapel while calming his inner thoughts. Eventually, he wanders out the entrance with glazed eyes, as if he is lost in the world.
For the first time in his life, Regal looks up at the bluesteel ceiling of Theore first floor, three thousand feet above him, and thinks to himself, ‘The sky is so high. I wonder what the true sky outside this city is like, and how high it is. Is it twice as high as this? Ten times as high? A hundred? Such a thing is unfathomable.’
Lost in his curiosity and self-reflection, he wanders through the streets aimlessly. Eventually, he enters Market Street and his questioning of who he really is comes to an end.
With a new light in his eyes, Regal mumbles quietly enough that nobody other than himself can hear, “That’s right. My memories are those as Regal. I have no memories of someone else, nor any existence other than as Regal. This body is as natural as my own and everything seen with my eyes is the same. Therefore, I am Regal.”
Despite developing what others refer to as a soul, Regal is still extremely decisive, and has an indomitable perseverance. He continued to pursue and understand himself without even a moment of rest, eventually coming to the conclusion that he is still himself, and not someone else.
However, a flood of various emotions run rampant through Regal, half of which he does not understand, no matter how much he tries. Suspending the matter to a corner of his mind, he proceeds into Market Street toward a store he is familiar with: Atelier Gun & Bullet.
He has no ‘Ice Bullets’ to sell, instead his intention is to go visit Aqua. She has become friendlier with him lately, offering various pieces of advice in response to his questions, so she will likely be able to help him understand the reason for the changes within himself.
Regal is surprised when he enters the shop and find a burly man the size of a bear behind the counter, rather than the usual Aqua. His face is gaunt and covered in soot, his pitch black inch and a half long hair is knotted and unkempt from excess sweat and production filth. He wears a brown short-sleeved shirt with the top few buttons left open, exposing a barrel-like chest, covered in hair and overflowing with tense muscle.
Regal understands that this is most likely Aqua’s father. She mentioned he is a very nice person, yet he can’t help but feel intimidated by his enormous stature. The man is many times bigger than him.
“Excuse me, is Aqua here?” Regal asks Aqua’s father politely.
The shopkeeper’s gaze lowers to Regal and pierces through him like he is made of glass.
“She is still at school. I know you boy, you’re the one who comes to sell those bottom-feeder ‘Ice Bullets’. Come to sell more?”
Regal’s cheeks flush with embarrassment as he knows his ‘Ice Bullets’ are of a low quality; that has already been made clear to him at the first store he visited when trying to sell them.
“No, actually… I have come for something else. I, umm… wanted to ask her for some advice.”
The man’s gaze from behind the counter loses its hardness and he looks at Regal quizzically while asking, “Say, Aqua hasn’t noticed, or perhaps she doesn’t want to, but are you a Soulless?”
“I suppose… I am,” Regal answers hesitantly while worrying about the discrimination against those like him: Soulless.
“Is that so?” he seems to ask himself more than Regal, but quickly brushes off the subject before smiling at Regal with a curious gaze. “I’m sure you’ve already guessed, but I’m Aqua’s father, Tanner. Why don’t you have a seat and speak with me for a while? Tell me what your problem is and perhaps I will be able to help.”
Regal, thinking that Aqua’s father must definitely be someone reliable from all her praise, sits on the provided chair and explains his day, starting from when he first entered Theore Substructure this morning. Tanner nods his head when hearing about how the Mutant Rats were incredibly strong, and frowns slightly when hearing about the other party chasing and trying to kill them.
Eventually Regal reaches to the point where he resurrected at the Temple of Life, describing how everything turned black and seemed to enter an endless void before pauses briefly, contemplating again what happened before continuing the story.
Tanner’s eyes reflect a light of curiosity. Shortly after, they widen in surprise when Regals starts describing how his senses returned, and how he felt both the same, yet different inside. The remainder of the story, to the point when Regal entered Atelier Gun & Bullet, is relatively short, but Aqua’s father listens as intently as before.
“So, what is going on? I don’t understand it. I am me, without a doubt, but I also know I am different.”
“Interesting, very interesting. There isn’t an easy, or simple, answer to that question. Nobody else will be able to answer it for you either.”
“Then what should I do?”
“You are still a child. Play with your friends, practice your skills. These changes of your self, nobody other than you will be able to find an answer for it. Give it some time, and you will come to understand yourself better.”
Regal ponders the advice, repeating it within his mind before saying, “I will do that then. I won’t come to understand the changes straight away, but eventually I will. Thank you.”
“Har har, there is no need to thank me. Just be nice to my daughter. You don’t want to get on my bad side.”
“N-no, I could never be mean to Aqua.”
“Say, you’re in need of money aren’t you? That’s why you come sell your goods as persistently as a Plague Hound, right?”
“Umm, yes, I do. All my money was stolen, so I need to earn more.”
“Stolen? What about your parents? Surely they can earn more money without you needing to.”
“My house was broken into. My parents… entered the eternal rest seven years ago.”
Regal grabs his chest, which suddenly hurts with a piercing pain. Tears start to form in the corners of his eyes. It is a feeling he has felt once before, when he read their farewell note, but had not experienced again, until today. Tanner looks sombre when looking at Regal, but nods his head stately.
“I understand now.”
Regal speaks while choking on the feeling he doesn’t recognize: anguish, “W-what do you m-mean, you un-understand?”
“Regal, you understand how people view the Soulless better than any other. But you don’t realize what it is like to be the parents of a Soulless. Because you are so young, many people can’t bring themselves to hate you because you are so young, or they fear the rumors that Soulless consume souls. Where do you think this hate goes?”
“I-I don’t know.”
“It gets directed at the parents of the Soulless, and many people can’t handle it, especially those who choose the peaceful life of living in one of the Grand Cities.”
“So, th-they’re gone because of m-me?”
“No, they decided to escape because they were weak.”
Regal wanted to stand up for his parents, against Tanner’s scorn, but he couldn’t bring himself to. He silently sits in place while holding back tearful sobs. He must be strong, so he forces himself back to composure, despite how much it hurts. His lip quivers slightly, proof that there is still much work to be done if he is to harden his heart.
Aqua’s father decides to end the conversation, saying his final words before shooing Regal away, “Well, if you still need money, come see me first thing Saturday morning. Also, don’t waste your time selling more ‘Ice Bullets’. You will never make more than scraps, and disposing of them wastes my time.”
Regal finds his emotions incredibly difficult to control as he leaves Market Street and walks toward the Training Center. His sense of time seems to be affected by his emotions as well, the trip there seeming to take much longer than it has in his memory.
The Training Center is much quieter than usual when Regal enters. He immediately heads to a private room on the second floor to do his usual practice.
Starting with the creation of several ‘Ice Bullets’, he discards his stray thoughts as best he can and focuses on the mana used, tracing its path as it travels through the alchemical formulae. Perhaps it is a result of him gaining a soul, but he finds this process to be slightly easier than before.
He continues to ponder its mysteries, constantly re-questioning himself about each aspect until he can gain a hint of the truth of each formulae section. This process is significantly different than how he used to try analyzing the formulae, and the results are much better as well. He is far from being equal to the class’ upper talents, but still better than before.
The Divine Art ‘Radiant Flame’ is similarly easier to comprehend. Regal also found that it is possible to adjust the temperature of the flame, even though it uses the same amount of mana regardless. Unfortunately, he can only adjust it slightly, but the potential is endless.
He stays in the Training Center until late at night, maintaining the same indomitable perseverance he has always had. There were lots of cheap sandwiches leftover in his personal inventory, so he eats those to slightly increase his mana recovery. Whether it is a result of the change he has gone through or not, he takes note of the fact that the sandwiches actually taste quite bad.
Once he finally leaves, both ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’ and ‘Flame Forge Alchemy’ have increased to levels 8 and 7 respectively. His returns home with his mind weary from the lack of mana, and a bad taste remains in his mouth from the sandwiches.