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Death Denying, Fate Sundering: A Shadow Slave Story

Edrien, reincarnated into a Death World known as Shadow Slave, goes through tribulations and trials never before seen. With Soul unbroken, by Death unclaimed, and a mind sharp enough to sunder Fate, he puts one step in front of another. Sadly for him, Fate is more tenacious than he thought, and Death is more greedy than ever. Still, giving none of these difficulties more attention than they deserve, he perseveres in his burnden filled life, while changing the lives of others. Tags: SI-OC, A bit op, Power-greedy, canon exploiter, Adopted Sibling to Morgan, Fem!Sunny, no Slash.

OrdealOfMc · Book&Literature
Not enough ratings
4 Chs

First Nightmare

Edrien looked upon the stone walls and marble floors as he walked, red banners featuring an anvil being pierced by a sword going past his head. Even if he lived here all his life, he still wasn't used to this level of opulence.

Morgan was walking slightly ahead of him, humming a soft tune, occasionally glancing back at him with a confusion-inducing gaze. Edrien only saw that look once, long ago, when he was left alone in this world by his parents, and instead of being forgotten by all and given a hedge position with no hope of making something of himself other than a servant, he was taken in by the princess of Valor, which back then, confused him greatly.

He was still just past being a baby then, completely useless and powerless, recently orphaned by parents who might have loved him but struggled to show that.

Hell, it would have been better if his parents died in an epic last stand against some monstrosity born from the Nightmare spell, sadly their end was much more anticlimactic. All it took to end their lives was the heart of his father, filled with lust, and the brain of his mother, filled with ambition.

His Father, Auriel, started to fancy an awakened of a small branch of Clan Valor, while he was completely mortal, not even an Aspirant. One day, his forwardness towards that Awakened resulted in his head being cut off, by the same Awakened even.

After that, Edrien's mother, full of scorn and bitterness born from the death of her husband, decided to betray Clan Valor and sell whatever secrets she managed to find out while being their retainer to the Clan's enemies. A ridiculous plan, proven so by the fact that two days after she made contact with Clan Song, she was found dead in her bed, with no sign of foul play. All that melodrama resulted in the little 4-year-old Edrien being orphaned, his next stop was whatever hellhole of an orphanage in the slums. And then Morgan showed up, then just a little girl, and imperiously declared that Edrien was hers. Well, under her protection to be more exact.

He still remembered thinking up ridiculously absurd reasons as to why Morgan took a fancy to a small child of a family that acted so stupid. But apparently, Morgan just felt that he would amuse her if she kept him close.

'Well, she wasn't wrong' - Edrien thought.

His escapades and disdain for his instructors were as infamous by now as Morgan's character. Which seemed to bring her a great deal of amusement.

His ruminating was cut short as they both came upon a simple room decorated in red, the classic color of Clan Valor, of the God of War.

The only things in the room were a simple dresser and an unassuming pod, designed to keep its future resident alive. Edrien logically knew that the technology involved in these sleeping pods was nothing short of incredible, but he still had some hesitation about relying on a piece of equipment to keep him alive while he was sleeping.

Edrien exhaled, and after one last look at Morgan, who seemed to be as calm as ever, climbed inside. His eyes, which he had trouble keeping open previously, instantly became heavy as mountains.

Morgan came to stand next to the pod, and after one last squeeze of his shoulders, shut the pod with him inside. Darkness soon claimed Edrien's vision, but he still did see the unconcealed worry inside her eyes and clenched fist held tight by her side.

With one last smirk aimed at her, he soon let the Spell claim him completely.

___--__--___

Edrien floated, he dreamed and finally, he saw.

Diamond strings and shining stars trapped in them gave way to a dark landscape.

Great plains stretched before him, his position of being high above it letting him see so much more.

The silver moon hung high in the sky, its cast light giving life to the otherwise dead landscape, casting shadows that played macabre dances. An imposing castle stood not far away, not a light being shown there, giving it the impression of a dead titan, or maybe just a sleeping one. Dead trees, with gnarling branches and black bark, surrounded the castle, the silver mist flowing between them giving off a mysterious and dangerous feeling.

Slowly but surely, Edrien descended and his vision once more became nothing more but an inky blackness.

The first thing he perceived after witnessing that landscape, was dripping water on stone, and pain in his upper body. Slowly, he opened his eyes and calmly looked around.

'Well, this is not promising' he thought.

Hanging more than ten meters above ground, his eyes peered through the darkness, using the slightest reflection that he managed to catch to ascertain his position.

Innumerable bodies surrounded him, some moving, some just hanging limply from the chains that extended to a darkness-shrouded ceiling that he could not see.

The dripping sound he heard was not water, but blood, slowly dripping out of cut-open necks and stomachs, pooling on the ground and giving the whole place a coppery stench.

Some bodies, which were not mutilated yet, sobbed in whispering noises, afraid that whoever placed them here would hear it. Edrien looked at all of this with calm eyes, instantly creating plans and discarding them based on how likely they were to kill him.

Not wasting any time, he first tried slipping his bloodied hands through the iron manacles of his restraints, but noticing some bodies lying on the floor, unmoving, with stark white bones sticking out of their legs, he thought better of it.

He looked around and finally found a pile of corpses that would suffice his plan. Slowly but carefully, he slid one of his hands from the manacles and quickly climbed the chain he was still attached to. When he was sure of his grip, and had full support of the chain, he slipped the other hand free. The blood, sweat, and grime coating his whole body ensured that the manacles on his hands were relatively easy to discard.

Once his hands were free, he started swinging, a macabre pendulum being born from his body and the ominous black chains on which he hung. Eventually, he built up sufficient momentum for his plan, and let go.

A feeling of falling and vertigo were quickly replaced with the repugnant smell of rotting flesh and stale blood, Once he landed on a pile of corpses he spotted earlier. A dull thud was heard in these hallowed halls as he landed with as many points of contact as he could manage, reducing the risk of further injuries.

Edrien knew that every drop of blood was important, and preserving as much of his health was vital in ensuring a higher chance of survival here.

Upon landing, he didn't waste any time and quickly stood up, still hunched, making sure the silhouette of his body blended in with lumps of flesh as much as possible.

Eyes darting in each direction, he quickly assessed his position and started to quickly shuffle to a shadowed and somewhat hidden alcove he spotted. His new body was still sore, weakened, and unfamiliar, but Edrien knew he had enough strength left to hide himself properly.

His short journey to the hidden alcove was interrupted by the whispered pleas for help from those hanging bodies, at least those still alive or coherent enough to speak. Without sparing them a glance, he ignored the calls for help and finally reached his hidden corner, his whole body aching from the effort.

"The condition of this body... It's going to be difficult to exert any amount of proper force." Edrien thought, sitting with his back now against the wall, his eyes were still alert, searching for any sight that his changed form of imprisonment did not alert whoever placed him here.

And he knew that he was still a prisoner, shackles or not. Remembering the ominous castle he saw in the vision provided by the dream realm, he had a hunch about where he was.

"Well, maybe not a prisoner. A provision is more likely. Or an emergency ration."

His thoughts churned as he studied the hall he found himself in greater detail, taking in all the bodies and chains he spotted earlier, but also noticing new details, such as the orderly manner in which the piles of discarded bodies were placed, the slightly ajar giant door at the other side of the hall, and the dim moonlight that was shining through the narrow windows that were peppered seemingly randomly on one of the walls.

"I could go through the door and hope with all my heart that whatever monstrosity on the other side of it won't spot me... But then again, hope is the most insidious poison of them all."

Edrien knew that hope, luck, fate, whatever governing force that was responsible for good things happening to him... didn't like him. He suffered too much in this life while hoping for a better tomorrow, rolled one too many snake eyes to rely on luck, and knew that fate was a frigid bitch.

With that in mind, a different escape plan took place in his head, his eyes drinking in the sight of narrow windows and the pale moonlight in which they shone.

"But first... Let's finally see just how those runes look."

Upon thinking these thoughts, he tried to call up the feeling Morgan described to him many times, the slight awareness of what was inside his body, and the slight otherworldly feeling of something greater, better, hiding beneath his skin.

Soon, runes formed in front of him, their white light not illuminating surroundings, as they were meant only for him to see.

Name: Edrien of Valor

True Name: --

Rank: Aspirant

Soul Core: Dormant

Memories: --

Echoes: --

Attributes: [Twice Dead], [Loved By Other], [War's Disciple]

Aspect: [Unquenchable Spirit]

Aspect Description: [A spirit born by battle, forged for War, quenched by Death. Unbowed and Unbroken, this spirit walks the world far past the point it should have stopped.]

[Twice Dead] Attribute Description: "You've died twice, each time you were marked. Beneath those marks, something greater is being nurtured.

[Loved By Other] Attribute Description: An Otherworldly Influence watches over you, with affection in its eyes.

[War's Disciple] Attribute Description: You've only begun to walk the path of Carnage, and yet you can hear the drums of war that echo from beyond the horizon.

A grin erupted on Edrien's face, a genuine one in a long time. The Runes that showed his potential, his whole being, were being scrutinized feverishly by his eyes, Edrien's mind quickly taking in the information presented before him.

"This... explains a lot. Unquenchable Spirit, from the description, seems to enhance my longevity and endurance in any activity, and maybe my determination to see that activity through to the end. Or maybe the Aspect itself and its Description are the results of my inner self."

Next, his eyes sought out the Attributes and what they meant, their names and potential effects quickly being turned around and around in his head, his mind seeking answers to unasked questions.

"Taken from top to bottom, Twice Dead is not that surprising, considering that this is my second life, although, taking into consideration the scabbed-over wounds and lacerations on this body, it wouldn't shock me if I gained this attribute due to this body's former owner dying, and me being inserted into it shortly after." Edrien though, ruminates on the cause and effect of this Attribute. His eyes caught the last line of its description, and a small frown creased his eyebrows, dried-up blood on his skin slightly pulling at his skin.

"Something greater is being nurtured, huh... Because Morgan and all my instructors often said that life and death battles are the best way for someone to consolidate their training, and break through whatever limits they have, it's not surprising that actually dying and coming back from it, like death is just a nightclub where you get hammered, leaves a much bigger effect, or rather, a mark."

Edrien took a second to realize the fact that he equaled death to a nightclub, and his shoulders, still sore and injured shook in suppressed laughter. Whatever sound he might have made was silenced by his efforts, but he still remembered the dangerous situation he was in.

After a minute or so, once he calmed down, and his mind properly ordered, he finally took in the second to last Attribute, his gleaming with suppressed satisfaction at being proven right.

"I always had an inkling that my reincarnation into the Shadow Slave world wasn't accidental, but I never had any proof. And while this alone does not prove me right, it gives credence to my theory. Still, though, I wonder what effects this Attribute has. I doubt being given affection by whatever entity placed me in this world equals the plot armor of a regular run-of-the-mill main character. I'm not going to start acting like the world owes me a pat on the back with interest or something similar. Caution is the key, and this Attribute does not change anything."

As amusing as the thought of getting a harem and still being a virgin might be, he knew the dangers, he knew the rules, and he knew that those rules could easily be broken by unforeseen circumstances.

"After, just how many times did Sunny and Co. have to deal with something above their pay grade? Above anyone's, really. Still, though, the bullshit they had to go through brought similar levels of bullshit rewards, so it might not be that bad. Ahh, yes, my greed is showing. Let's suffer unimaginable horrors for social credit, comrade."

A sparkle in his eyes dimmed at remembering the trials of characters in the light novel, and then it dimmed further once he remembered the fact, that at the end of the day, he was going to have to deal with that bullshit too.

"Anyways, the last Attribute is the least surprising of them all, almost given considering my surroundings while growing up. Although, curiously, this nameless body has it too. I wonder which influences Attributes more, the body you're inserted into, or the soul that's undergoing Nightmares Trial."

Soon his mind remembered a single fact that answered his newest question.

"It's most likely both, but more of the latter, considering that Neph's first nightmare was her being placed inside an illusion by a Terror rank creature, which she then burned with her divine flames, or whatever they're called. She couldn't have done that without having access to her Aspect and Attributes that give her the ability to use those flames in the first place. Or maybe I'm just remembering that wrong, after all, it was a long time ago that I read Shadow Slave novel. Some details are bound to fall through the grasp of my memory."

Edrien shook his head slightly, refocusing on his original thought, deliberating his last Attribute, the one that's likely the most important to him currently.

"It has something to do with war and battle, and already the subtle effect is being displayed. I just need to look at those chains, and immediately whatever ways there are to mangle bodies and bring death, or carnage rather, pops into my mind. So that's one effect. Another is also easily spotted. All the lessons in the art of combat I've received in the past, are all that small bit clearer, easier to understand, and draw experience and capability from. So that's two. Maybe there's a third, though I don't expect it, considering this attribute appeared in my first Nightmare, so it makes sense that it's not completely overpowered."

Remembering the infamous Attribute [Fated] from the novel, Edrien slightly shuddered, a thankful feeling rising inside his chest, for not receiving something similar. Upon completing those thoughts, he looked around as if expecting a monstrosity to come barreling right towards him just for thinking of [Fated].

But no abomination befell Edrien, and silence inside the halls in which he arrived remained just as suffocating, only lightly interrupted by slight moans of pitiful bastards still hanging from the shadowed ceiling.

Moans that were getting slighter by the minute, and whose quality already decreased by almost half in the time it took Edrien to look through his Attributes and Aspect.

"Right, they're still here." Edrien's eyes, which held a glimmer of excitement and other undefined emotions, dulled as he looked upon the desecrated bodies of these...humans. "They look human enough, at least. Although, it would be convenient to have the ability to see corruption, just to be safe."

His eyes traced the various injuries on their bodies, corpses and those few still clinging to life alike, not giving any mind to the fact that none of them wore a speck of clothing. Edrien turned his head and compared injuries prevalent on those still hanging from the dull metal chains in the air, and those that were inflicted on the corpses piled on the floor.

"I wonder how many died the moment they gained those serrated wounds, and how many clung to life for a few moments more."

As he beheld the macabre scene before him, various thoughts churned in his mind, each one fighting to be the first to be completed.

Something shifted in the corner of his head, and the slight unease that was steadily growing inside him immediately shot up.

"Obviously all these humans are not prisoners, slaves, or any other occupation that needs someone to live, otherwise the ratio of living and the dead would be completely reversed. They are not here to be discarded like trash either. All these chains and the orderly manner in which they are set up dismisses that possibility. No one would go to that effort just to sort trash." Edrien frowned as the final thought was completed in his head. "So something that doesn't need to be alive to be used, not trash either, and obviously something that all these humans have in common, and can provide."

An answer quickly came to his mind, as macabre as it was logical.

"Food. All these humans, corpses, and all are food." Not a glimmer of sympathy or heroism shone in Edrien's eyes as he looked at the same scene as before, but whose meaning now was completely different. "The last question is, would whatever placed these humans would mind if they died prematurely? After all, Morgan always said that the fastest way to get the Nightmare to recognize your results is to start killing."

A/N: Excerpt from the next Chapter: "One squelch and a spurt of blood later, the woman's moans quieted down, and her tears stopped falling."

A/N 2.0: Comments are more important to me than power stones, FYI.