That was all Lucian felt as he watched the world before him turn to ash. The screams from innocents, the sky filled with smoke, and the smell of blood and death mixing together.
All of it made him boil with anger.
He, just a lowly man with no strength, could only watch.
Humanity was dying, and all he could do was wait for it to end. No matter how many of those **ing demons he killed, it meant next to nothing when millions advanced on Lumebells walls.
Even if somehow he could call upon a miracle and kill them all, there were still the Demon Generals, powerful beings able to raze the forest that spanned miles in seconds, crumble the mighty walls that had stood millennium without issue, and crush the so-called heroes who were supposed to save everyone.
Before those words held weight, but now, they were only targets that would cause hordes of demons to overwhelm them and anyone dumb enough to try and use them as shields against the enemy.
Unfortunately, the only thing these heroes could do was save more time, more time for the citizens to rush into the streets and be slaughtered there instead of inside their homes.
It was all so pathetic.
That single idea repeated over and over again in Lucians mind. The amount of preparation was pathetic, the mightiest army of humanity was pathetic, the supposed fight was pathetic, and most of all; he was pathetic.
”Fuck. ” Lucian fell to his knees. ”Im tired. ”
Basic training had made his once skinny frame fill out with muscles, made the hand which usually held a pen able to hold a sword, and had made his feeble mind that once focused on paperwork ready for battle. He had thought maybe he could make a difference, defend the innocence alongside the branded heroes, and have his name etched into history as a war hero.
In the end however, he had only been able to kill twenty of them. They had been the weakest too, and some demons were already injured by his fellow comrades before they had met him.
He was a weak excuse for a knight, but nonetheless it mattered not anymore, everything would soon end.
It was over, they were too many, and all the most powerful Ascendants of humanity had already died long ago.
”Damnit. ” Lucian decided to lie down, his armored body thudding to the cobblestone as he stared up at the vanta black sky.
Around him, bitter battles were still raging on, but anyone with an ounce of a brain could tell it was all worthless.
So he rested, right next to the corpse of his last victim. Its pale white skin crawling with black veins, a grotesque face without eyes, a circular mouth in the middle with serrated teeth, and a sickly green tongue as long as his arm.
The demon was horrifying, but with Lucians sword deep within its chest, it had lost its frightening charm. It was just ugly, and he looked away in disgust, not wanting to remember the previous days.
After a few moments of simple breathing, Lucian realized he was dying slowly from his injuries. The acidic black blood of the demon had mixed with his a while ago, gashes littered his body and his left arm had long been taken by an enemy he barely managed to kill. Blood was leaving him quickly, and soon, everything became fuzzy.
The noises of struggle faded away as the blood from his head wound made a puddle, the familiar scent of iron and brimstone no longer singed his nostrils, and finally he no longer felt the pain that bit down at every move he made.
Now, Lucian could only watch the pillows of black smoke rising from the city, a solemn blanket of depression resting on him as he closed his eyes for the last time.
It was over, Lucian Forge was dead.
Well, he was supposed to be.
[ Ring of Regression has met the conditions.
Uses left: 2 ]
Lucian spoke in confusion as he read the line of text. He had never seen something like this, the blue screen hovering in his face like a specter. It floated before the darkness that surrounded him, the dimmest glow illuminating the void.
”What is- ” Before he could finish speaking though, a voice cut him off.
”I said you are being demoted to teaching the first year students. Your performance has dropped and we have even gotten a few complaints from students. Im sorry Luce. ”
He had not heard that nickname in years. Ten, no, it had been twenty. That was how long he had gone without hearing someone call him such a name.
Also, that voice was so familiar.
Where had he heard it before? Maybe a fellow female knight he had a crush on in basic training? No, Lucian had never even gotten to think about romance, the impending doom was all anyone could care about. Most of his order had been composed of males, only a scant few women within his ranks, and even then they had not even fancied men for that matter.
”Luce, I know its hard, but just stick it out for a few years and you will get promoted again. ”
Lucian heard the words, but he still furrowed his brows. He then realized he had his eyes closed, which meant that he still was not dead.
Slowly, he slid his eyelids back, surprise striking him as he saw the scenery before him.
A small room, one with a bookshelf taking up two walls all the way to the ceiling, a long arched window that was murky as it had not been cleaned, and a desk with scratches and chipped paint.
It was his office, the one he had all those years ago. His eyes watered a little bit at seeing it, and his throat became stuck like he had swallowed a rock. He was thankful for whoever had given him this vision, the realistic scent of mold and dust all too familiar, and also something he had missed dearly despite the sourness in his nose.
”Are you crying? ”
Lucian raised a hand and touched his cheeks out of instinct. The last time he had cried was when he had watched thousands die before him for the first time, and even in death he did not shed a single tear.
He would rather not focus on that, so he turned to see who had spoken, quite curious to know who this supposed vision had created.
Cherry red hair, hazel eyes littered with disappointment, a naturally solemn aura, and a habit of snapping her fingers when she was stressed.
”Its… why-why are you here? ” Lucian stumbled as he fought back so many emotions he was bombarded with as he saw her.
”Im here to tell you about your- ” She stopped and frowned. ”Seriously Luce, are you okay? ”
Lucian swallowed his saliva and quickly nodded, ”Yeah- just… its a lot to take in. ”
Maya frowned, ”I can see that, I can give you some time alone, just let me know if you need to talk about it. ”
Lucian was still overwhelmed at the moment, so he only nodded and silently watched her leave his office, the door closing with a small click.
”Im dead right? Did I make it to the Silver Empire? ” Lucian wiped away his tears. ”I thought only the worthy go there? Where are the silver chariots, the candles of undying fire, the maidens of Urna? ”
Lucian knew of the afterlife, but this… this was different than anything he had heard of. He knew he had bled out on the streets of Lumebell, he could never forget that experience, no matter how good this dream was. Those few seconds as his injuries slowly killed him felt like an eternity, as if something within him was grasping on the last strings of life, but nonetheless it was futile.
Also, the years of training, the years of tutelage within the Citadels Guard, and the years of suffering through countless battles.
No one could convince him it was some type of dream, so why was he seeing these things?
Was it a mental attack from the demons? Maybe a General had the power to do that, he long heard about how bizarre and uncanny their abilities were? Perhaps, this was what lay beyond the veil of the living, and the silver empire most strove for was a lie told by the old?
Lucian frowned, tears again flowing down his cheeks as he reveled in dozens of questions that held his focus before being replaced by another.
This was what he settled on, and in the back of his mind, he already had an answer for it.
His fingers caressed the simple wooden ring around his middle finger, and as if just touching had activated something, a pulse ran along his hand.
[ Name: Lucian Forge
Mark of Eden: none
Strength- Lesser Common
Dexterity- Lesser Common
Memory- Lesser Uncommon
Will- Higher Epic
Mana- Lesser Common. ]
Lucian only stared, the rhythm of his heart becoming louder as it pushed everything else to the foreground. His breathing became thin with each passing breath, and if not for a tear dropping from his cheek onto his collarbone to pull him back to reality, he would have surely succumbed to the panic attack and passed out.
”This device? Its rated with the rarity of runes. ”
Lucian, despite his previous moments of euphoria, was able to piece together that small correlation. Runes, the things that gave power to every awakened in this world, were sorted by the rarities Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Legendary, and Relic.
Each rarity was also associated with a color, but that was the least of his worries as he scoured the floating plate before him. It was odd, ghost-like as it hovered just in reach and oriented perfectly with his view.
Slowly, and still somewhat functional because he happened to be sitting down at the moment, Lucian reached out and felt for the screen. Only, his hand passed through, making it all the more clear whatever this thing was could be his imagination.
”The ring… ”
Finally, Lucian put another piece of this puzzle together, his eyes wide as he rubbed the wooden ring slowly. The item was something he had gotten at the United Kings Bizarre held in Northriver. At the time he had been adequately drunk, and only upon the next morning did he chastise himself for spending almost fifty pelts on a stupid wooden ring that would not leave his finger no matter which Mage he sought out.
Now though, it seemed much more than that. This artifact had done something, something he still doubted even as the streams of thoughts in his mind flowed to one lake.
He had been sent to the past.
The realization hit harder than any blow he had ever felt, Lucians hands gripping his chair and his heart racing once again.
However, after a few minutes of silence, a single question floated in his mind.
This was ludicrous, downright impossible if not for he himself being the subject of such oddity. Lucian Forge should be dead, lying amongst the Demons and another casualty of the End War that would devour the world.
However, it seemed fate had another plan for this humble teacher, and Lucian began to truly understand the blessing he had been given.
Maybe he was actually dead, and this really was a hallucination, but so what? Everything felt real, and as he got up and made his way to the window, the idea was cemented thoroughly in his mind.
Outside, students were currently standing in the open courtyard of the academys entrance, a few hundred young men and women beaming with bright smiles as the Head Lord of the academy was currently giving the speech he gave every year to the new awakened.
Lucian found himself smiling, memories that had been covered in dust for way too long were now being cleaned with each passing moment he gazed upon Stonehaven Academy. An average school that was not too horrible, nor ever good enough to produce famous awakened which could take the world by storm.
Even being a teacher here, Lucian had become fodder in the End War, a simple enlisted soldier with below average talent. He had fought tooth and nail to gain an inch, while the so-called heroes could overtake miles in instants.
Unfair was an understatement, but then again Lucian was never one to lounge on such thoughts which led to no true answers. He would take action, and with another chance at life maybe he could change the dogs death he had at Lumebell.
Lucian clenched his fist, his resolve becoming an unmoving stone as he turned away from the window and hurried to gather parchment from one of the cabinets at his desk.
Quickly, he began to write his resignation letter.
If he wanted to save humanity, being a subpar teacher at some backwater academy would do him no good. No, he needed to brave the dangers of the Beyond, find the opportunities that he was aware of, and gain as much power as he could to help stop the onslaught of Demons which would soon break the peace of this world.
The heroes had not been prepared, the nobles of the world had hid within their castles, generals had been late to send their armies, starvation was rife amongst the front line as no one focused on such a rivial issue, and millions died without a single chance to raise their blades.
There were hundreds of issues that needed to be fixed if humanity was going to stand a chance against the darkness, and it would be almost impossible to fix any of them without prior knowledge.
Lucian Forge, despite the shortcomings of his first life, had just that.
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