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Chapter 360 by Funatic Funatic

Does he manage to get the class level before they need to go see Romulus?

Big things have small beginnings

“What the hell Gaia, where is the four-kind combination?” John complained out loud and glanced at his phone clock. He had like 20 minutes before he should get moving to Romulus’ palace. Was that enough to make a contract? He obviously would need to take the Light Elemental here, as the other two choices were absolute garbage, and he wanted that anyway.

He could also have postponed the ritual until after the fact, but it wasn’t like he had anything better to do. Usually, these rituals didn’t take hours though, more like ten minutes, tops, that felt like half an eternity.

He picked the ritual and looked at the costs.

‘Well, why would I ever not go for Tier 4?’ John thought and shared the blueprint for the needed circle with Gnome. They went back to the mansion, and then the stone elemental immediately put the circle into the ground, and John kneeled down to do the thing.

“Gonna be interesting to see you get a light elemental,” Rave said; “I bet it’s gonna be that moon chick that I didn’t want!”

“Maybe,” John teased and activated the skill.

Immediately, he felt his vitality drop, and the connection to everyone of his familiars became dull to the point where he couldn’t feel anything aside their existence anymore. He had expected to be surrounded by blinding light, but instead he was standing in the vastness of space.

It was quite the breath-taking sight, countless stars glittering around him like oceans of diamonds and other sparkingling gemstones. Suns and reflecting surfaces all together in perfectly patterned chaos, some of them moving so quickly they were just lines to the naked eye, others so slowly they would have seemed to stand still if gazed upon for decades.

Unlike the night sky, however, John knew that he could have actually reached one of these stars if he tried, the one he spotted when he turned around. It was so enormous that John wondered how he could even have missed its white-gold light. It probably was spherical, but from this close, it just looked like a giant wall.

Not a wall, as John came to realize when an eye opened behind it, a membrane. John put his hand on it and stared back at the eye. Whatever was inside had to be about as giant as Nathalia, and it was a scaled beast as well.

  • I wonder what to think of this?

The voice that entered his mind did so uninvited and in a very much unwelcome way, speaking not as a telepathic voice but as John’s own thoughts. ‘Who are you?’

  • I am you.

‘No. You aren’t,’ John asserted quite clearly; ‘I have been hit with my fair share of mind meddling, I know when there is a voice that isn’t my own in here.’

  • You are right, yet you are wrong. For me, I might be the Father of Light, but for you and for the purpose of this talk, I am you.

This made next to no sense to John right now, so he had to dig deeper into whatever the Father of Light tried to be to do right now.

  • I wonder what to think of this?

The question repeated. John took a deep breath and just acted according to the elemental primordial consciousness’ wishes. ‘I find the idea of having an elemental of this size thrilling, although I hope it can turn into a hot dragon chick or something.’

  • But what if he is dangerous?

‘Way to dash my illusions. If HE is dangerous, then he falls right in line with me.’

  • What is it going to destroy for my ambitions?

‘He is going to destroy what we need to,’ John answered, ‘which hopefully will be as little as possible.’

  • Who am I to judge?

‘Someone with intact American values,’ John answered, ‘Freedom, Democracy and all that stuff.’

  • Am I going to give up power when I have taken over the US?

‘How does that-‘ John stopped himself. ‘Right, how can I claim to stand for democracy if I want to build a guild with me at the head that spans a whole nation just because my pride tells me to? How can I claim to bring freedom if I operate under ‘might makes right’?’

‘How can I do that?’ he asked himself in earnest and then it hit him: He could do it quite easily. His pride and his values were two different motivators. The question was which motivators was his prime one? If it was pride, he could toss out his values without thought throughout the campaign and by the end be an almighty tyrant.

What was worse was that his own mind, and he was able to draw that distinction quite clearly, presented him with an answer he absolutely did not want to hear.

It was pride.

It was the wish to dominate, because he was stronger.

There was nothing valuable about it.

  • Who am I to judge?

He was in no way better than the people already in the US Abyss. As a matter of fact, if he just went in there and conquered it for the hell of it, he would be much, much worse than anyone else.

  • Who am I to judge?

Yes, who was he to judge? The answer wasn’t as simple as he first thought. What was all that Wisdom for if he just used it to come up with answers but never to contemplate what they mean in their parts?

  • Who am I to judge?

The answer was easy to say but hard to act out. He needed to make the effort to shift his values. Not put his selfishness first but his principles. He had the right to judge because he brought them a better life. What better life? One where might didn’t make right, where people weren’t sold as slaves on an internet website, where people could vote for who led them.

  • How could I enforce that for everyone? Freedom?

He’d need to… he’d need to conquer everything, unite it under one banner and then just take a step back and leave the them to vote for their own ruler by guaranteeing the sovereignty of that ruler as an untouchable symbol at the top.

He would need to be Romulus.

  • But Romulus had failed. He hadn’t had the expertise to put a system into place that was truly self-evolving. He is from a time where civilization barely started. I have knowledge and the vigour of youth.

He would need to be Romulus but better. He was the first person in ten-thousand years that could stand on the shoulders of this titan, because he was the second one with that kind of power. Romulus had been afraid of shaking a system that was not perfect, but mostly working, one that only cracked over thousands of years.

John could build a new one from the ground up. It was time to reign in his pride. This emotion wasn’t useless, he needed to take pride in his values to retain them, but it had outgrown its use and was dangerously close to replacing his values entirely.

Once that would have happened, turning around would have been very difficult. The road to hell was paved with good intentions, to where would a road paved with self-aggrandising lies lead? Not to heaven, that much was sure.

He had given all of this too little thought.

  • So do I even deserve to try at all?

Yes.

  • Why?

‘Because someone has to do it and I don’t trust anyone more to do it than me. I can question me, I can be wrong, we can all always be wrong, but me I can work on.’

“That is the correct answer,” the Father of Light said out loud, his presence all-encompassing, but his body nowhere to be seen. “Doubt yourself, for you will NEVER be perfect. Believe in yourself, for you are the only YOU you have.” That was the only thing he wanted to remind John of. It was a thing the Gamer had known to be true but buried as he had realized just how strong he was. Arrogance, the thing he had berated more than a few people for, had dug its claws into him, but now that he knew what had gripped him, he also knew how to free himself.

The sun he had stood in front of was gone, shrunk down to the size of an egg that now laid in his palm as one by one the stars faded around him and he was left in the dark with the soft light. The formerly giant creature inside wound inside its shell, which cracked.

“He has been sealed at the beginning of this plane’s existence, when Gaia banished us from the physical world to protect us from her own laws,” the Father of Light told him as John looked at the tiny beast in his palm. “I waited for the day I could set him free.”

It was a crocodile, scales of gold covering his whole body, patterns forming out of darker shades of bronze, and silver eyes looking up to John. Quite hard to believe that this thing was supposed to be the same monster whose eye alone had dwarfed John. However, common sense barely applied in the Abyss anyway. “What is your name?”

The crocodile only made a cute little squeaking sound, tapping a bit forwards and then sliding into John’s sleeve. Now that was absolutely not what John had in mind; the little rascal was making his way through the gap between vest and shirt and eventually came out at John’s neckline.

He opened his jaw wide and made a further series of squeaking sounds. “His name is Stirwin, and make no mistake, he may look like a hatchling…” the Father of Light was the one to answer John’s question. The contract formed between him and the light crocodile seemingly on its own, John could have resisted it but found no reason to do so. “…but when time comes to an end, he may be the last light.”

John suddenly found himself back in reality and almost keeled over backwards as this thing called gravity became something real again. Immediately, Stirwin crawled out of his vest and into the open grass. Thankfully, unlike a normal crocodile, this sun lizard was everything but well camouflaged.

“Noaw,” Rave jumped in front of him, “look at ya, being all not a hot babe and stuff” She slowly extended her hand towards the tiny croc, who stood still and let her pat him on the head. When he started squeaking and pushing against her finger, Rave squealed like a fangirl. “He is cute!”

“He also threatens my pet monopoly,” Copernicus commented, tapping through the grass over to the hatchling. Raising one of his paws, the sun cat tapped his fellow light elemental once on the back, which caused Stirwin to whirl around and try to snap at the cat, letting out the cutest of hisses from its throat, the flesh inside copper coloured.

Copernicus answered in kind, and now there were two angry light elementals hissing at each other. However, in this particular duel, John would have bet on Copernicus every day, the cat was at least twice the length of the little crocodile and generally faster. That was because Stirwin’s Stats:

Were absolute trash. He had one Stat for each level, which put him a whole four under the standard five. Actually, this was the first time John saw someone who got below average stats per level, there had to be something up with this. Also, the part about Tier 5 and ‘celestial devourer’ combined with the thing John had first seen left him doubtless that there was a lot more to the hatchling.

‘Can you speak?’ John asked through their mental connection.

‘Hungry!’ Stirwin answered in a single word and then emotions flickered over their connection with the honesty of a being that didn’t know the concept of lying. It was far different from Undine, who often opted to just send what she felt rather than talk, the golden croc was simply incapable of making the difference. He was more like a scaled puppy.

“Can you find something small we can feed him?” John asked Aclysia, who nodded and hurried on ahead back to the mansion to get something out of the kitchen. In the meanwhile, he reached his hand down to the crocodile. “We have somewhere to go, want me to carry you, Stirwin?” The infinity elemental, which was a rather interesting title to have, climbed on John’s hand without hesitation. Rave was shaking her head in the background, giggling a bit. “What?” John asked.

“Stirwin is such a boring name,” she declared; “He shall now be known as Chompy!”

“Chompy?” the little crocodile actually seemed to be able to speak, a voice like a chipmunk. From his position in John’s breast pocket, which finally found a usage for something, he repeated that one word over and over again, “Chompy! Chompy! Chompy!”

“He likes it,” Rave commented the obvious.

“Of course he likes it!” Sylph declared whooshing by; “It’s a good name, the best name! You are now Chompy, Chompy, and you shall chomp on all the chompable chumps! Chimichanga! Chick-Chuck, bamboozle di-da-do, Pri-papa!”

John had no idea what that talk had suddenly devolved into, but Sylph had fun making weird grimaces in front of the crocodile. Stirwin was greatly entertained by this, his mouth hanging wide open in what seemed to be a smile. The expressions of a magical crocodile were something John would spend some time to figure out. Not that he needed to, Stirwin’s feelings were broadcasted into his brain after all, but it would be a nice thing to learn either way.

However, now was not the time to experiment, it was time to see Romulus.

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