-- In a secret location somewhere far away --
Sitting on an intimidating throne made of bones was a skeleton. Wrapped in clothes made of darkness.
Looking out on the gloomy throne chamber with so intense anticipation that it almost could be seen on the expressionless skull. Seeing such emotions on such a evil-looking entity would induce shivers down anyone's spine.
And it was in deep contrast to the pillars made out of bone, lining the path to the equally fear-inducing doors on both sides. With no windows, and dark shadows everywhere that felt like the abyss looking back at you, the room was definitely not welcoming.
Suddenly a heart stabbing wail rung out as the doors opened, seemingly a twisted type of door bell, announcing the arrival of the subordinates.
Suppressing the expectant emotions, the skeleton assumed the air of a ruler. Fixing its eyes on the approaching messenger. A being that looked like a hovering lump of meat, with the surface filled with eyes.
Shivering from the sharp stare, the messenger then announced, "We have news from the plan regarding The Abyss! I am sorry to inform you that it seems like it have failed!"
With something that felt like a frown of disappointment from the skeleton, the messenger hurriedly continued, hoping that the news would distract it, so that it could keep its life.
"It seems like The Inquisition had been lurking around the academy, attacking our agent on the verge of success. He is currently being hunted by an inquisitor, but we expect him to be able to get away within a month or so. We are preparing to fetch him then, so that we can interrogate him further on the subject."
Upon hearing the news, a grim aura filled the room. It made the messenger shiver even more, but this time it was at least directed towards The Inquisition.
"Them again?" a shilling voice sounded from the skeleton. "It seems like they want to play with us. We should grant them their wish... How did the seizing of the academy and the portal go? Their troops should have been lured away, yes?"
"Utter defeat. The army led by another agent were completely annihilated. In but a blink of the eye, they were all reduced to ashes. There was nothing left to reanimate at all. Even the poison was destroyed before it could have any effect. It was way beyond what the branch of The Inquisition on this continent are capable of!"
"You mean to say... The higher instances were alerted? They knew of the plans?"
"No, it does not look like that. In that case our agent would be instantly captured. Unless it is some elaborate plan where they want to follow him to us. But in that case they would have been more low-key in the clash with our army. Of course, we will observe the situation for a month before we make contact with the agent being chased, just in case."
"No, we do not need that trash. You should increase it even more, just to be safe. To blatantly fail like that... If it was not that we still need some information from him, I would have had him killed instead. Luckily, he knows nothing that could compromise us, would he be caught."
"Ah, yes. He should be able to endure, and such a failure would probably not have any relevant information anyway. We should focus on making contact with The Abyss, but something is disrupting any attempts. It seems like the clash with the inquisition destabilized it."
"Could... the seal be damaged? Is there still hope?"
"Nothing is impossible. There have never been such interference with the connection before. It could be that the seal is on the verge of collapse. We should not have too high expectations though, it could as well mean that it is completely sealed instead."
"That... can't be! Let's just wait, and it will surely stabilize again. No need to be so pessimistic!"
"I was just saying that in case The Abyss is locked down forever, we should—"
"It is not! Stop spouting such nonsense! Anyway, how did our army get defeated? You said that you doubt that it was The Inquisition? Why?"
"Ah, yes. It was too perfectly organized to be The Inquisition. And they would probably let us do more damage, in order to convince people that they are needed. They don't really care about deaths anyway. Everything points on that it was a third party."
"A third party? The academy took a stand? How is that possible?"
"That would be impossible! Our agents had access to all information about the academy. They are definitely not able to strike back at all. Our investigation seems to point towards the new section head of the `Magic Warriors`. The students of his section were the ones that obliterated our army. Without taking any damage, whatsoever."
"The students? How is that possible? Wait! Did you say `Magic Warriors`? Did we not get rid of them ages ago?"
"Yes, we indeed did. And we had done it perfectly, some more decades and it would have been completely wiped out. But this man Foo came from nowhere, and seemingly managed to hoodwink everything to become the section head."
"Hoodwink? You mean that he managed to cheat the system? And the elders? How come our agents did not intercept?"
"Yes! He must be the god of cheating! It seems that he passed the warrior examination by making the examiner run away. And passed the wizard examination by using pure sword arts... It seemed like the elders planned to use him to get rid of the trash students, and finally trying to absorb the land of the third section into their own."
"How is that possible? A god of cheating indeed! But why was his students able to destroy our army? Were they not trash?"
"Yes, they were indeed trash. Of that I am certain. But just after he took the position, he gathered the students and sent them into some kind of trance. After some time, they woke up, and from then on, they were like elite militia."
"That... sounds like soul replacement! Did he replace their souls with evil spirits? Making an army of demons?"
"It certainly seems like that, except that their souls were still pure! If it was the forbidden act of soul replacement, it was for the other side, not ours!"
"You mean that... they are on the move? They have been passive for many eons, why would they act now?"
"We have no reports of activity from their side. Only this instance. It might be that they are still unwilling to make an appearance, but sent someone in to stop our plan."
"In that case, he will be a great threat! Especially if they are working with The Inquisition. We have to get rid of him! But we should stay away from the academy for now. We have to lure him out somehow..."
"Ah, we got the news that he escaped from the academy."
"Yes, something about looking for the knowledge of `scripting`, as to defend against similar plans from our side."
"Then we will absolutely have to stop him! He must absolutely not revive that knowledge!"
"Yes! And he seems to travel alone. For some reason, he left his subordinates behind."
"It seems like they protect the portal then... Or maybe they are making some trap for us... Issue an order that everyone should stay away from there! Send them to hunt down that Foo! Send his image to all agents!"
"Ah, we have not been able to capture an image of him. All reports are from secondhand sources, or observations without him present. He is really elusive! Even high level tracking and observation techniques have failed! We have no idea what he looks like."
"What? He is shielded? That is a clear proof that he works for them! I guess that we have to mobilize our armies to look for him..."
"Yes, I will see to it!"
"You are dismissed!"
Scurrying back out of the throne chamber, the messenger was truly grateful that he was alive. It was not rare that their ruler killed a bunch of them when in a bad mood.
When the door closed behind the messenger, the skeleton dropped its regal aris. It instead had complex emotions.
``It failed! Damn it! We was so close! But it might have succeeded, just that it takes longer than expected... And even if it failed, the fact that they are on the move would give some hope! They should surely be able to break the seal. I just have to find out a way to force their hands...``
Looking away in the distance, the skeleton yearningly thought, ``I will find you! Without you, this world is just so bleak and lifeless! No matter what, I will break you out of that prison!``
I thought it would be nice to end the two first volumes at 100k words (so that I can regard them as one proper volume). But am a bit unsure what I can write about to wrap this volume up.
The happenings in the academy are planned for the future, so I am a bit unsure if I should write something about it now.
Some other events also need some more in-novel-time to develop...
Oh well, I think I just cut it here. I care more for you readers than some neat numbers.
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