Lucien drifted in the heart of darkness, just darkness devoid of anything and everything splayed all about him. Nothing seemed to escape its nihilistic embrace, not even the faintest of lights or the lowest of sounds.
Yet he remained, placing his hand on his chest. He then raised his index and middle fingers together, his silver eyes set in resolution.
Amidst the darkness, above his fingers, a white star was born, emitting a faint yet clear light like the evening star. It drove away the darkness surrounding him, revealing a large and withered island, and above it, two figures floated next to each other—one was a man who had seen the vicissitudes of life, and the other was a dark-green colossal snake with a face strikingly similar to the man—both still within the embrace of Somnus.
The brightness of the white star drenched their shapes, rendering them ethereal and illusory, until they, too, began to emanate streams of light, reflecting the star.
Then, they all began to converge together, swirling around each other like planets revolving around their star.
And the fusion began.
The streams of lights were the halves of the soul of Azik Egger, and the white star they were converging to was the essence of Soul; it was the condensation of the Soul authority that the Reaper held. That authority enabled him to control, manipulate, and alter the souls of living beings; he could even create the soul itself.
To put it simply, he could use his Soul Authority to connect directly with the essence of all beings, alerting and modifying them to his will, from something as simple as their thoughts to something as complex as their personalities, even their gender and characteristics—everything about them was subject to his will.
But Soul was an art, so possessing finesse was compulsory. Your work demanded your absolute concentration; a single mistake or error could have unimaginable consequences, like opening a Pandora box. Situations like this made Lucien question from time to time whether the Earth Mother was the most powerful deity—the inconceivable horrors she could unleash in the name of life made him shiver.
Oh, he could see why the Mother Goddess of Depravity was so feared by all.
Anyway, coming back, Soul was indeed an art, and Lucien was an artist, possessing everything needed to create a masterpiece that would be unrivalled in epochs to come. Thus, it would be no problem for him to fuse the souls of his father together.
But the situation was not as simple as he made it out to be in the choices he presented; his father noticed it yet chose to place his trust in him.
And Lucien wasn't about to let him down, even if it meant confronting the will of the Fallen Death "Himself."
Yes, the Underworld Emperor; "He" may have fallen, but "His" will still lies in dormancy within the halves of his father's soul, so when they began to combine, "He" would awaken.
This could explain why Evernight Goddess didn't offer Azik the option of fusing his soul, but rather offered to stitch them together in the original book. "She" simply didn't want to take any chances of the Underworld Emperor awakening.
But Lucien was going to fuse the souls of his father, despite the risk of confronting the dormant will of the Underworld Emperor.
Though, as you could expect, he came prepared, holding no apprehension or concern. His unwavering confidence emanated from who he was and what he represented.
Lucien may just be an archangel in power, but his existence, his being, his essence weighed far more than that.
He was Death, Adam had said, the Ultimate End of All Things.
He was a walking singularity of the Cosmos.
And he was going to use all of that to his advantage for the coming confrontation with the Underworld Emperor. There was also the fact that Underworld Emperor's would only resist instinctively until fully awakened; this alone was a huge advantage that he could manoeuver with in the confrontation.
Nevertheless, the Demon of the End knew he was taking a huge risk, as you could never underestimate a God, even if they had fallen, yet he forged ahead with utter determination, his silver eyes gleaming brilliantly as the halves of his father's souls united in the shape of streams of light emanating from the figures revolving around the silver star that floated above his fingers.
A profound silence filled the expanse the moment streams of light united, which was then immediately shattered by a star-chilling roar.
It came from everywhere yet nowhere; it filled everything yet nothing; it bore burning rage yet serene repose; it—no, it was "He"!
"He" was Salinger, the Underworld Emperor!
And "He" was awakening from "His" millennia of slumber from within "His" son.
At the same time, the Demon of the End reached into the depths of his existence, tapping into parts he didn't even know existed, and he touched—
Lucien looked up at the connected streams of lights that represented not only his father's fusion but also the awakening of the Underworld Emperor. His fingers still held the soul star that guided the fusion, and his silver eyes remained brilliant—nothing seemed to have changed with him at all.
Yet he opened his mouth and spoke in a voice that caused the world to tremble.
"Submit to me, Salinger."
Backlund, Loen Kingdom.
In Saint Samuel Cathedral, Leonard was seated in the urgent meeting that was called in light of the declaration of George Augustus III, along with all of the Red Gloves; even Madam Daly was present, sitting not far from him.
Archbishop Anthony was personally leading the meeting, his face sombre like never before as he briefly reported on the situation.
Leonard listened listlessly. He merely raised a brow at the fact that their King—no, their Emperor—held the divine spectre of the Goddess when he made the declaration. It should have been shocking, but the things he had seen and heard in the past day made him somewhat numb. 'Old man,' he thought. 'Do you have any idea what is happening?..
But before Pallez could respond, Leonard saw darkness that appeared to be everything yet nothing. A strange and distinct voice pierced his skull, forcing him to grip his pounding head, his face twisted in agony, mirroring the faces of his colleagues surrounding him, from Saint Anthony to Sequence 8 Henry.
Actually, it wasn't only them; every beyonder of the pathways belonging to Eternal Darkness was going through the same experience, including the Evernight Goddess and the God of Combat.
In the Tenebrous Heaven, the Evernight Goddess looked down at the Berserk Sea. All "She" saw there was a swath of pure, deep-black darkness. There weren't any gales, massive waves, dark clouds, lightning, torrential rain, or sunlight. Nothing except darkness, which seemed to be everything yet nothing. And from there came a strange and distinct voice, yet unlike others, she understood "Him".
"Submit to me, Salinger."
'As I thought, "He" is truly a singularity given form…' Amanises thought, flicking "Her" index finger.
Immediately, the Berserk Sea fell into concealment, effectively cutting off "His" voice from everyone.
Amanises then entered "Her" mythical creature form, summoning "Her" uniquenesses into "Her" hairy palms—the Evernight Goddess was ready to descend into the Berserk Sea if there was even a sign of Salinger's awakening.
"She" abruptly turned to "Her" side, grasping the twilight glare of the God of Combat. "He" stood on the fringes of "His" kingdom, wielding "His" great sword.
And the Empress of Horror frowned imperceptibly behind "Her" veil.
From the looks of it, a War of Gods was going to erupt if Lucien couldn't stop the revival of Salinger.
"Submit to me, Salinger."
Lucien imbued his voice with all of the weight of his singular existence. It was similar to how Klein used the level of Sefirah Castle to suppress Mr. Error from escaping after "He" lost the gambit.
When he delved into himself and reached the singularity, he chose to draw its weight rather than its power, knowing that if he did, he wouldn't be able to endure it in his current self and probably lose control, bringing about an early apocalypse—no, thanks.
Anyway, this alone should be enough to deal with the awakening will of the Underworld Emperor.
And he was proven right; the awakening Underworld Emperor slowed down; even "His" will began to weaken and wane as the weight of his existence bore on "Him".
Obviously, there was fierce resistance, even if it was instinctive, but Lucien gritted his teeth, gathering his weight and bringing it down on the resisting will in suppression. "Submit!" He hollered. "Dissipate!"
A unwilling roar echoed before silence filled everything. And Lucien took a breather, feeling the will of the Underworld Emperor enter dormancy and begin to dissipate. In his caution, he did not remove his suppression as he re-focused on the fusion of his father's soul.
Time ticked on. Seconds turned into minutes. Minutes turned into hours. As he guided the fusion with utmost concentration while constantly suppressing the will of the Underworld Emperor.
Soon, the dazzling figures of Azik Eggers and Artificial Death disintegrated completely, breaking and combining with streams of light that were merging to form an angelic figure.
Lucien raised his eyes to the angelic finger bathed in light. And he exhaled in relief, reaching his hand to grasp the white soul star back into himself, and with that, the brilliant angelic figure dimmed, revealing Azik Eggers, who had achieved completeness.
His father was still within the embrace of Somnus; it would take some time for him to awaken. As for the will of the Underworld Emperor, it was almost gone; the last remnants of "Him" should be returning to the River of Eternal Darkness. All in all, his father was fine; his situation was as stable as it could be.
Considering this, he chose to focus on two items floating in front of him: a dark back scythe and a golden bird accessory—they were items that his father left behind after his fusion.
He reached for them; the scythe was the Uniqueness of the Death Pathway; the golden bird accessory was the legacy of Ancient Goddess Gregrace; the moment he grasped them, he immediately felt a connection to them, granting him preliminary control over them.
'Death is truly my fate, isn't it?…' Lucien smiled wearily. 'I wonder…'
'Who arranged that?'