It was a rain-soaked April evening when the roar of an old codger shook a cliff-side cave

”EUREKA, META I BLOODY DID IT! ”

Metatron the goat, complete with fabricated wings and halo, rolled his eyes and spat cud at the feet of the delirious sorcerer. The waves of the North Sea beating against the cave entrance seemed to put an exclamation on that savage retort.

”Even your contemptuous spit will not rain on this parade, Old Goat ” Merlin shot back, lighting his victory pipe in celebration for his lifes greatest breakthrough. He almost ran out quid trying to buy this loose leaf, over-taxed tobacco. Thankfully he had a worthless old Spanish real lying under his bed. That dodgy coin collector did seem a little too eager to relieve him of it though.

It had been a long half a millennium of seclusion in a godforsaken cave on the North Sea. The world had long forgotten the truth of him and his favorite blonde gofer Arthur. See thats what the legends get completely wrong: Merlin gave a crows foot about the fate of Albion or Camelot or any of that. As far as he was concerned Arthur and his crew were muscle whose sole purpose was to keep the Fae in line and handing over precious magical resources.

He couldn very well knock off his elder cousin Thoth in Cairo, or whatever they call it now. He would be refined into mono-atomic gold seasoning. All sorcerers had their domains, and by the time of Merlin, most of the choice locations were already claimed. And although hed like to think he was one of the more gifted Sorcerers to ever grace a staff, the accumulation of millennia could not be ignored. So when Merlin finally finished his apprenticeship with Thoth, he returned to the Isles and became the big fish in a small pond.

Fortunately the people made something of themselves and were useful in supplying and financing his research. Lizzy did always love to shower her Johnny D with plenty of gifts. It was also fortunate that most of the sorcerers on Gaia ascended in the following centuries of Merlins growth period.

Merlins treatment of Isles folk as mere pipelines and guardians of resources may appear to be callous but don humans relegate similar duties to the untalented among their kind?

Sorcerers are not the same species as human, their DNA rhymes. Like some great ape DNA rhymes with human DNA, so with humans and sorcerers. And thats just the hardware: the difference between the size, complexity, and density of the soul was 3 fold.

Essentially they viewed humans, along with a handful of soul-possessing animals, as beings to be shepherded and occasionally, as was the case was with rulers and militaries past and present, sheep dogs. Suffice it to say in this modern age Merlin had a fairly distant attitude. And what compounded this isolation was the fact that his sorcerous bretheren had all ascended to higher planes centuries ago, leaving the youngest Merlin with the keys to lock up.

”Anansi, that old spider bastard will be so shocked when I show up. ” Merlin murmured as he beheld the blood red stone shot through with veins of silver starlight.

There was no need to say it but Merlin was precocious brat. He had to be, he was a half Arch-demon…at least that was what Gaia, their mother told him during his coming of age ceremony.

When he communed with the planet, that was also his mother, he asked her why he had blue skin when his brothers and sisters all took on the pigmentation of the locals. This throw away line lead too many downstream effects including Merlins eventual invasion of the 7th circle of Hell, his usurpation of his imperial fathers infernal Dynasty, and the capture and enslavement his half-brother Baphomet in this comical goat form.

Merlin stripped him of his name, his spiritual power, and was in the process of stripping him of his sage inheritance.

These actions may seem extreme to the unintiated, but to those schooled in Merlins warped logic it was a fait accompli. Since sorcerers were all blessed with such demiurgic powers, their ascension to higher planes of existence was equally harrowing.

Each sorcerer had to construct an item, whether it be a wand, staff, or miniaturized machine that was capable of splitting the void. Other creatures, including humans, simply had to accumulate energy and/or comprehend some peripheral universal laws and they would be shuttled by benevolent universal forces to higher planes. Sorcerers, on the other hand, had to kick the door in and keep it open long enough to walk through.

In order to manage such a feat one not only has to have a firm grasp of dimensional and spatial magic, some of the most esoteric laws there are aside from time itself, but one must possess enormous raw mana reserves. Therefore, Merlin razed his nominal brothers empire and pillaged the 7th circle of hell of 10 million damned souls. All for this crowning achievement today.

The philosophers stone, or rather soul construct, was his ticket to ascension. While he was taught about the concepts behind creating it many moons ago, Thoth cautioned him about mimicking the paths of others.

Each Sorcerers Soul Origin was unique and attempting to create a one-size fits all soul construct was the height of folly. Thoth himself crafted 13 Emerald tablets which served as his ark to the higher planes.

Consequently, Merlin chose a more organic, blood stone structure to hold the various laws and powers hed accumulated together. It was contained and amplified with inscribed runes powered by the 10 million souls plundered from his brothers coffers.

” What a glistening, shimmering beauty. My preparations are complee- ” suddenly wailing chains of silver starlight shot out from the stone. Before he could complete a single incantation mentally, the chain bound him and dragged his soul-body into the depths of the philosophers stone. Arcs of crimson lightning finished the job, shooting out and atomizing his corporeal body.

”No, my glorious silver fox body ” as Merlin lamented the disintegration of his ”mature but sexy ” corporeal form.

”Meta, don eat that, I taste like..SHEEP DROPPINGS ” he yelled as the blasted goat went for another taste, the stone fired another bloodred arc of light turning the impudent beast into goat powder.

”Baphomet…I could never get that bloody demon to relinquish its sage inheritance to me, good riddance. ” Merlin was a spiteful person even though he technically kidnapped a minor and tried to extort its inheritance from it. While Merlin cursed the now deceased recalcitrant goat, an translucent inverted pentagram drifted towards the stone and disappeared into its depths.

”I guess using 10 million tortured souls to create this stone was a fool-hardy move. Thoth always said I was too eager to catch up to my seniors… ”

Merlin noticed that their combined corporeal mass possessed enough energy to trigger his ascension formation and made a decision which would shape the entire future of the cosmos. Making the seal of the evil eye with his hand, he attempted to activate it. However the starlight chains, forged from the 10 million denizens from hell, siphoned the energy necessary to properly activate the formation.

”Damned souls be damned!!! You
e all already dead and buried, I rescued you from an eternity of torment and gave meaning to your pitiful lives ” he conveniently left out that he used their souls as material for his own selfish purposes.

As Merlin was trying to cajole the 10 million damned souls to lay off, an inconspicuous pentagram finally made contact with Merlins forehead within the stones depth. A bright golden light traveled from the pentagrams to the entire silver network within the stone, unbeknownst to the mad sorcerer.

Suddenly, the entire stone shook and was absorbed by the invisible pentagram on Merlins third-eye. Shocked Merlin said,

”What did I do to deserve this turn in fortune? ”

His blue soul-body was now tinged with violet and a golden inverted pentagram graced his forehead. Two slightly curved horns now appeared on his head as well, truly making him his fathers son. The stone was gone and his soul was transformed on a fundamental level.

”The only path forward is reincarnation. While Ill have no control or power right away, the silver lining will be that I will be able to quietly develop as a native wherever I end up. ” Fierce determination echoed throughout his entire being as he completed the triggering incantation for the back-up transmigration formation

”Slighe fosgailte gu Neamh!!! ”

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