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Ascension of the Shadow King: Servant to Lord [Training Private]

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The Shadow King
Dusk loomed over the war stricken Kou. The sky was aglow with purples and pinks with a warm orange light diminishing behind the Jade Dragon Mountains. There was hardly an escape even the major battles being sparse because there were often fights and outbreaks in small towns. Each faction brawling with the other. It was no different in the town of Lim Fang, a town evenly split between followers of Emperor Yoshiro and followers of Emperor Gao Yuan Zu, the true ruler of Kou.

A certain magician by the name of Adrastos strolled through the crowds of bickering people alongside a masked man. He was a follower of Gao Yuan Zu and had been ever since her first arrived in Kou. Gao was a man Adrastos had always aspired to become: a man of power who wouldn’t let anything stop him from expanding the strength of his country. Gao’s only mistake was to allow Yoshiro to live. Thanks to his son, Gao lost the throne and Kou was no longer the powerful country it had been for generations. Yoshiro tore it apart by ruling slavery to be illegal and peace to be the utmost priority. Slavery and warfare were what Kou had always thrived upon. Now, the country essentially had nothing. If the followers of Yoshiro were smart, they would realize how weak they had become. However, they were blind by the false leadership of Yoshiro.

The magician slipped through an alley followed by his companion. “Seeing this much turmoil would be much more enjoyable if I was the one who caused it,” the magician grumbled as he ran his fingers through his moonlit hair. His expression was a mixture of annoyance and satisfaction. The companion shook his head and placed a hand on the magician’s shoulder. With a sigh, the magician nodded. “Yes, I know but still, if-” He stopped suddenly.

Something felt warm inside Adrastos’ pocket, the heat growing more intense each moment. His hand retrieved the item to realize it was the ebony orb he received back in Reim, back when he joined The Alchemists. His silver eyes narrowed. The only reason the orb would react was if there was a nearby Alchemist member. His attention was so focused on the orb that Adrastos failed to realize someone had snuck up behind him.


Another silver-haired magician stood behind him, his ice blue eyes staring back into the silver irises of Adrastos. “I haven’t seen you before… Who are you? How did you get that?” Adrastos clenched his fingers around the orb. His response was as cold as the fingers of Death as he strangled the dying. “You should be killed for your ignorance. It’s not wise to speak in the open,” he murmured. “I don’t give a damn that this whole town is too preoccupied with their fighting to notice, but this still isn’t the place to talk.”

The other magician’s eyes widened, surprised by the sudden hostility, but hesitantly nodded. He turned to lead the way out of town to a secluded area in the surrounding bamboo forest.


In the middle of the bamboo thicket laid a small building. To whom this shrine was built to honor was unknown, but Adrastos knew this was no ordinary shrine. Similar to the fountain back in Reim, this was more than likely the entrance to an underground sanctuary for the Alchemists.

“I am not responsible for what transpires after if you are a fraud or if your friend is unwelcomed,” the magician warned, still hesitant, as he glanced between Adrastos and the masked man.

“Just open it.”

He scowled but otherwise did as he was told. His hand reached behind the statue and pulled. The area shuddered as the shrine groaned, sliding back to reveal a dark descending staircase. The magician would enter first, followed by Adrastos who checked the area before venturing forward. Then, once the two magicians and the masked man were well into the passageway, the shrine moved back to its original position, leaving no signs it had moved or that it was hiding an entrance.
WORD COUNT: 665/2,500
MAGOI: 480/480
STAMINA: 200/200


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Trait Points: 4/11 | SoS: 1
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The Shadow King
The corridors were dimly lit with flickering torches hanging on the walls. Only the trios footsteps echoed in the halls, providing an eerie atmosphere, until a piercing scream ripped through the silence. Such screams wouldn’t have been heard in the Balbadd division of the Alchemists, or so Adrastos thought. He didn’t spend much time there to really recall such details. The magician sighed and rubbed his temples. Out of habit, he took a pair of glasses from his pocket and placed them on his nose. The leading magician chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Adrastos demanded.

With no response, the Shadow Master narrowed his eyes. He didn’t like this man at all; he lacked discipline and respect. A few moments passed before they paused a a large three meter wide and four meter tall steel door. “Wait here. I will announce you.” The magician opened the door, but instead of waiting to be announce, Adrastos pushed past the man, throwing him to the floor. “I’m not here to waste time.”

Beyond the doors was a massive room, almost like a throne room in a palace, lit by strange glowing orbs hanging from the ceiling, but with bookcases lining the walls and wadded pieces of paper strewn across the marble floor. Tables rested on either side of the room with magicians hovering over books and scrolls. A single maroon rug stretched from the door to the chair sitting at the end of a few ascending steps, shrouded by a thin black veil. Whispers and murmurs filled the room, until the creaking of the large door demanded silence and all eyes peered at Adrastos. Unbothered, Adrastos strode toward the curtain. “Are you the leader of this sector?”

“Leading strangers into our midst… I thought you were smarter than that, Huan… What were you thinking?”

Huan stumbled back to his feet, dusting off his clothes before bowing. “M’Lady, I beg your pardon, but white haired one carries with him the Orb. He demanded that I take him here,” he looked up with pleading eyes. “What choice did I have?”

“The right one,” the woman said with a hiss.

Three cloaked figures grabbed Huan instantly. Panic overwhelmed him. “No, wait! Please! Don’t!” Adrastos didn’t turn to see Huan dragged off, but he could hear the man’s cries for forgiveness echoing down the corridor until they mingled with the other tortured screams.

“Leave, or you will be next.”

The magician reached into his pocket, presenting the obsidian orb to the woman obscured by the veil. “My name is Kareem.” The magicians murmured amongst themselves. “I obtained this orb from two men I met while heading to the Shrouded Isle: Vladmir and Vincent. I sewed the seeds of distrust within Reim, eventually capturing Councilman Roark. Then, turned my sights to Balbadd, which is now under my control.” He placed his orb in his pocket. “If that doesn’t have your attention, then let’s see if this will.”

His fingers caressed the crown on his head. “This was given to me by a man shrouded in mystery. It’s no normal crown, but it is beyond my level of understanding. I only know one thing: this object is filled with almost unrivaled power and darkness. Help me figure out what this is, and I will give you what you most desire.”

The woman laughed. “I care not what you’ve done in other countries, but still… You are intriguing. What is it that I desire, Kareem?”

Adrastos smirked and bowed, “What else other than knowledge? If you can tell me what this is, we can reverse engineer it and make more. Grow our strength and increase the Alchemist’s pool of resources in knowledge and wealth by a thousand.”

The magician waited in silence, waiting for her to take the bait. There was no sign that she moved and yet a delicate ashen hand reached under Adrastos’ chin and raised his face. His silver eyes stared into swirling pools of fire in black voids, the doorways to the depths of hell. Adrastos’ soul, whatever was left of it, was being pulled into the abyss that was her eyes. Most of her flawless gray skin with only pieces of black cloth covering her more private parts. Gold plating decorated her chest, arms, and waist. Her hair, no different than spider silk, dangled past her shoulders and dragged on the floor. Her purple lips parted as she leaned in, stopping only a breath away from Adrastos’ face, whispering, “I accept your proposal.” Pulling away,  she smiled. “You may call me Zhīzhū. Come,” she beckoned as she walked away, “follow me.”

Adrastos followed Zhīzhū into a room filled with giant containers. “Tell me, what do you know of black rukh?” Adrastos raised a brow. “Not much other than it ties into depravity, the act of cursing one’s fate.” She chuckled. “A generic response.”

Zhīzhū turned and leaned back against a desk. “What do you remember of your Fall?”

The magician narrowed his eyes. He didn’t think much about his descent into darkness since that day. Zhīzhū sensed his hesitance and smiled. She was instantly on Adrastos, her arms draped around his shoulders. The witch chuckled and purred, her leg sliding up along his. “What’s wrong?” Her long, slender fingers caressed his face, paying special attention to his jawline. “Are you afraid to embrace the darkness that made you? Are you…” Zhīzhū buried her face in his neck, taking in his scent, before nibbling on his ear. “Uncommitted?”

Adrastos wretched free from the witch’s grasp. Her hair still clung to him as if he were a fly in a spider’s web. His heart pounded. Was he filled with rage or fear? Stifling his emotions, he swallowed. “Eleven years ago, my village was attacked. I was taken along with other children to be sold into slavery to some far off land. We were starved, beaten, and worked to the bone. More than half died before we made port. However, all the crew were dead between then and the time we landed. I killed them. I was tired of being weak… Tired of being used… Treated like an animal.”

The magician grabbed the woman’s wrist, spinning her and pulling her back to his chest. With his free arm, he grabbed her waist. He growled into her ear, “Is that what you’re trying to do? Hmm?” His grip tightened. “Do not play me for a fool: I am not some feeble prey for you to toy with in your web, witch. Now get to the point before I break you, starting with your wrist.”

She laughed. “I love this game of cat and mouse. Who is who, I wonder?” The witch licked her lips as her eyes closed. “There is no need for you to hide who you are… Not here…” Zhīzhū slipped from Adrastos’ clutches, returning to her earlier position. “Not with me.”

Zhīzhū stepped back with an insidious smile. “Black rukh is the effect of depravity, but it is so much more than corrupted white rukh. It brings power in the form of beautiful untamed rage. We defy fate, an unfair system of our world, and strive to become something greater. By using our anger and malice, we ascend beyond the limitations place on us by fate. Your crown is the physical manifestation of that power.”

She chuckled at Adrastos’ confused expression. “I’m sure you’ve seen dungeons and the djinn that reside in them. They are followers of light, the grand power for those who stay on the shackled path of fate. You think those of us with black rukh will look the other way? Ha!” The witch cupped her face and gasped in ecstasy. “There are stories of items infused with the power of black rukh, beings wielding power resembling the fabled Dungeon Capturers and their Metal Vessels… the Dark King Candidate and the Dark Metal Vessel.”

Adrastos blinked. Djinn, the blue woman in the treasure room of Dantalion. Dungeon Capturers, Noir and the man accompanying the Imuchakk. Power… like the form the man showed where his appearance changed completely? His silver eyes sparkled. It explained the gnawing sensation growing in his chest since the meeting. The dreams that appeared when his eyes closed. If what she was saying was true. “So what I have is what you are describing? Are you sure?”

“There is no doubt! However, they are very rare… they do not fill this world like the metal vessels of djinn… Such power… is limited… So I find myself… skeptical...”

The magician stepped forward. “Then how can we be sure?” She flashed her white teeth in a wicked grin.

“Experimentation.”

WORD COUNT: 2,096/2,500
MAGOI: 480/480
STAMINA: 200/200


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Trait Points: 4/11 | SoS: 1
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The Shadow King
“How like the Alchemists,” noted Adrastos. The Alchemists, an organization of magicians focused primarily on the creation of the chimera, always accomplished their achievements through many experiments. However, they didn’t dabble in magic tools despite being magicians. “We can begin now. However, if you fail, be prepared for the consequences.”

Zhīzhū threw her head back in laughter. “Threatening me? You came to me for help, don’t forget.” Her fingers combed through the silver silk on her head. “This is also my territory. Balbadd is far from here, little man. I’d refrain from making empty threats while in my net.” The witch beckoned for Adrastos to follow.

He was led into yet another chamber, but this one was barren and circular. The shape and design reminded him of his time in Reim when he fought in the Colosseum. Steel doors, like the one marking the entrance to the throne room, were spread out equally. There was an occasional scraping or banging of these doors, suggesting monstrous creatures dwelled behind them. "This is where we test the strength of chimeras we have created. This will also be where we will test you." She held out her hand. "Give me all the magic tools and weapons on your person. The only thing you will keep is the crown you wear." Once the magician’s items were taken, Zhīzhū left him in the pit to observe from the upper balconies.

Adrastos felt exposed. He had no weapon at his disposal to protect himself. “Now what?”

With a snap of her fingers, a door opened. A light blue blur streaked passed the magician and into the air. The creature was at least six meters long. “Behold one of my favorite creations: Ju. She was once a lowly girl working as a prostitute on the streets before we picked her up. A cross between a lesser dragon species, a bat, and some aquatic animal we picked up off the coast somewhere,” Zhīzhū proclaimed with a spin of her hand. “Her claws and teeth produce rather lifelike hallucinations with just a single scratch, and her tail is on par to the strength of Fanalis. She’s a killer.”

Ju screeched like a banshee and dived toward Adrastos. He rolled to the side, barely missing her talons, but was knocked into a wall by her tail. He fell to his knees, spewing blood from his mouth. His vision blurred and darkened. Damn… A cackle echoed from above. I’ll-

“Gaaaaaaah!!”

Where did that scream come from? Why did it feel like something was crushing him? "Don't go easy on him just because he's pretty, Ju," Zhīzhū chided. Ju screeched.

Crack!

“AAAAAAAAAA!!!”

Adrastos blinked, dazed, as his vision slowly returned. His shoulder had been dislocated, and the chimera was crushing him with her tail. Those… were my screams? He tried breathing but found it difficult. Get free… Do something… The magician wriggled like a worm until he fell to the ground and staggered away. “You certainly talk big but have nothing to show for it,” he heard Zhīzhū say. “But at least now the fun will begin.” The magician furrowed his brow. “What are you-” Adrastos blinked and stared at the world around him as it darkened, the last thing his eyes noticed was the slash in his arm.

Fuck...

The passage of time was uncertain. Adrastos didn’t know how long it had been before he could see a silver form within the dark void he found himself. However, the figure didn’t last as it melted away, leaving the magician alone in the shadows, or so he thought at first.

“Who are you?”

Adrastos spun around.

“I’m me.”

“No… Who are you?”

The magician was perplexed and annoyed by the question. “I have no need to answer your senseless questions. I have more important business to tend to than to entertain you.” There was a chuckle, and the world around Adrastos spun.

When it finally stopped, Adrastos faced a throne of bones similar to his own, but colored obsidian and dripping with red. Sitting on the throne was a man identical to Adrastos. From his posture to his clothes, everything was identical, but something stood out. Something foreboding. An aura, unlike anything the magician had felt before. Despite standing ten feet away, it suffocated him. “What twisted joke is this? How dare you look like me.”

The other Adrastos tilted his head. “Me? Look like you?” He scoffed. “You’re the imposter.” He stood, staring Adrastos down. “You call yourself Adrastos Thanatos, a name meaning the undaunted god of death, and yet you run around playing both sides. Do you even remember why that name was given to you?”

“I’m leaving,” Adrastos said, turning. Yet no matter where he looked, the other him would be there, looking down on him.

“You’re not Adrastos. You’re not what they envisioned. You’re still… him,” the other Adrastos spat. “That crown,” he said pointing to Adrastos’ head, “belongs to me.”

“I’d like to see you-.”

Sphhhlt!

“Take it off your cold, stiff corpse?” The other Adrastos smirked. “With pleasure.”

Adrastos’ mouth filled with blood. Looking down, he noticed he had been skewered with his own blade, Niut. “Who… are you…”

“I’m who you are meant to be.”

Adrastos awoke with a start. His hand reached for the sword that pierced him but found nothing. He was in a room he had long forgotten: his parents' bedroom. “What happened?”

“Must you ask the obvious? I killed you.”

The other Adrastos sat on the bed, running his pale fingers against the blade of a knife. He wore a black, sleeveless long coat over his bare chest. The scars on his shoulders were exposed. His silver eyes stared at Adrastos through his silver lashes. “You remember this place, right?” He vanished, appearing behind Adrastos and slipping the knife into his hand. His breath was cold on his ear, “It’s the room where she died.” A woman in bloody rags laid on the floor. The knife he held now stained with her blood. “Oh,” the other magician said with an amused chuckle, “I mean… killed.”

Adrastos threw the knife to the ground. “Stop this,” he demanded. “You’re merely a hallucination caused by that creature’s venom.”

“Am I? You’ve sensed my presence before many times: when you choked that magician girl, when you killed our old master, even since the beginning.” The other Adrastos circled around the magician and the room once again changed back to the darkness from before. “But you’ve fought me off, denying who you are supposed to be, denying your own potential, denying the very dream you aspire to achieve. Out of the two of us, only one has become the greater being.”

Adrastos watched his doppelganger sit on his throne with a glass of wine in his hand. “Soon you’ll open your eyes and realize the truth.”

“Ha! What truth would that be?”

“You are a fake.”

The magician stood there in trembling rage. Him? A fake? Preposterous. If anyone was a fake, it would be that man in the chair, his throne. His spot! Adrastos charged at the person he deemed to be the enemy. The last moment he saw was his doppelganger slicing his head from his shoulders.

The passage of time was nonexistent. Every time Adrastos would wake up, he'd see himself and then be killed. His death varied: one time he was strangled to death. Another time he drowned. He was tired. Adrastos was beginning to think the other one had a point. What was the point though? He couldn't remember.

"Stop," he pleaded. "I can't..."

"Then give up and die."

Adrastos roared, "I already have! Time and time again! You have killed me in every possible way while taking me back through my own timeline! Why?! What's the point?! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO GAIN?!"

"Hmm?" The doppelganger picked at his teeth. "Simple. I have nothing to gain. This is just for fun." He tilted his head and smiled. "But I suppose there is a point."

Adrastos slumped to the ground. "What's the point?"

"To prove that you aren't embracing whom you're meant to be. You claim to embrace the darkness, but you hesitate. Wake up! How can you ever be a god if you falter! You'll soon fail because of your lack of sight."

"I am!"

Shluk!!!

Adrastos screamed.

Shluk!! Shluk!!!

Knives were embedded into his flesh. "Adrastos," the other man sighed, "that's your name. The undaunted god of death, the man who will ascend to godhood. Or it’s supposed to be.”

Shlukk!!

“Don't lie to me."

Adrastos stared at the darkness beneath him. Embracing who he was? Didn’t someone else say something similar? A woman with black and spidery hair... Deep down, he was uncommitted and afraid.

Shlukk!!

Something snapped inside Adrastos, and he chuckled. “Oh? What’s this?”

“Embrace the darkness that made me… Like killing the very woman that birthed me? The slaughter of those disgusting animals called slavers? Ha! You think I’m ashamed of what I did?! I’m proud! I laughed as I bathed in their blood! How is that not commitment?!”

The other Adrastos smiled and stepped backward. His appearance morphed into an enormous black creature, but all Adrastos could see were three glowing yellow eyes gazing down at him. “Tell me, Adrastos, is there any obstacle you won’t overcome to realize your goals? Will you reach your desired potential?”

“Words are meaningless,” he spat. “It’s better if I just show you.”

“Very well. My name is…”

Zhīzhū sat in her chair with a bored expression. Adrastos’ had long since lost consciousness and was now being crushed by Ju’s tail. She thought he passed out because of the overwhelming pain. To be honest, she was very disappointed. Where was his screaming? Why wasn’t he writhing in agony? Zhīzhū sighed. “I suppose there’s nothing more to see…”

Black rukh erupted around Adrastos. His silver eyes opened with unbridled rage, or perhaps it was the faint signs of insanity. Or could it have been determination? Zhīzhū couldn’t tell, but her eyes were glued to the magician. His obsidian crown hummed. The black rukh continued to swarm madly until it became difficult to see through.

“Obscure, Erebus!”

The butterflies of depravity scattered instantly as it was sliced through with an ivory blade. That same blade skewered Ju, who screeched in agony as the life dripped from their body. In the pit, Adrastos stood with a monstrous weapon: a twisted black scythe with an ivory blade stained in crimson. “Like I said before,” he gasped, “Do not play me for a fool.”

Zhīzhū smiled and bowed. “Welcome to the world, my dark king. There is much to be done.”
WORD COUNT: 3,859/2,500
MAGOI: 480/480
STAMINA: 200/200


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Trait Points: 4/11 | SoS: 1
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