At the end of the overly decorated hallway, the path was barred by a massive gate, one that was as big as the wall itself. Junius felt his throat contract with each step he took. His pupils dilated and hands shaky, Junius had to go out of his way to calm his beating heart through pounding his own chest. When the Brahmins saw the action of the young man, he happily smiled.
‘Ah, I remember the first time I entered these chambers… I was feeling the exact same way.’
Just like Junius, the Brahmin had never felt more nervous in his life when meeting the Allfather for the first time. Rumours had it that the Allfather was a descended immortal that had the ability to destroy every living being in the world. Against such an existence, no cultivator, whether they were a Spirit Emperor or a Spirit Practitioner, could retain their wits.
Fortunately, the Allfather was gracious and never showed the full extent of his powers when meeting with his subordinates. In fact, no one even knew where his actual body was. However, one thing was for sure. In the minds of the Black Masks, the Allfather was the strongest being in the entire world.
“Junius, prepare yourself. We’re entering.”
“Yes… Senior…” Even though Junius had said that he was ready, his heart was far from prepared. His eyes quivered when the humongous gate creaked open, and a ray of warm light illuminated his face. An ethereal mist bellowed out of the room and covered the hallway, making the path into the chambers seemingly dreamlike.
A sonorous voice reverberated through the minds of Junius and the Brahmin, compelling their feet to involuntarily lead them into the chambers. Junius didn’t resist the magnetic pull, no rather, he had no choice but to follow the voice’s orders. Keeping his head up, Junius observed the dome-like interior of the chambers with a face of wonder.
Unlike the dark and gloomy atmosphere that all Black Mask buildings had, the chambers that he was summoned to was well-lit with many stained glasses with gorgeous drawings on all of them. The second thing that caught his eye was the fully white ceramic floor that was untainted by even the slightest blemish. The flooring was so clean that Junius felt like he was unworthy of walking through it in fear of dirtying the sacred area. However, there was no way that he couldn’t advance. Steeling his mind, the young man puffed his chest up and turned his eyes straight ahead.
And then, he saw it.
Darkness. Pure eternal darkness.
[My child… Don’t be afraid.]
The same resonant voice played itself inside of Junius’ mind as something deep within him rose up and calmed the nerves of the terrified boy. At the same time, his vision cleared and Junius was able to fully observe the mysterious object that lay in the middle of the chambers.
“A dark sphere?” Junius unknowingly worded out.
That’s right. Before him, a sphere made out of shadowy dark energy pulsated like a human heartbeat. Easily reaching the size of an adult elephant, the dark sphere was emitting out a mystical aura and a tremendous amount of mana. If Junius didn’t know better, he would assume that the mysterious object before him was an unknown Spirit Beast.
[That’s right, Junius. The Dark Sphere that you see before you is a manifestation of one of my spiritual abilities. I can split my consciousness into multiple parts and place them into these Dark Spheres scattered all over the continent. Of course, the one before you is the very first Dark Sphere that I created, so it’s a little more powerful than the others…]
Thousands of questions ran through the young man’s mind after hearing the Allfather’s explanation. Why was the normally elusive Allfather being so talkative? What is the full extent of the Dark Spheres that he could create? How could he split his consciousness that easily? However, there was only one question that truly bothered him among all else. One that brought him to the verge of tears.
“Mighty Allfather… You know of my name?” Immediately falling to his knees, Junius asked the gigantic Dark Sphere.
[Junius, what do you call me?]
Stunned by the sudden question, Junius stuttered a little before he could find the words. “Almighty Allfather…”
[That’s right! I’m the father of all my children! And which father forgets the name of his own child?]
“!!!” Junius eyes turned misty, and he made a solemn declaration. “I vow to serve the Allfather with everything that I’ve got! I will serve you till the day I die!”
The Dark Sphere remained silent for a brief period of time before finally bursting out in sweet laughter. His heart filled with pride, the Brahmin too renewed his vow before the Allfather. The majority of the Black Masks were all misfits that were cast away by their own respective establishments. It was the Allfather who had taken them in and nurtured them. Yes, he needed them to further his own agenda, but he had also given the resources to help his subordinates attain their dreams.
For instance, when the time came for the Awter Clan to enact its revenge on the Frie Clan, the Allfather had provided them with professionals and a large number of Spirit Beasts. And his benevolence didn’t stop there. When the operation to take over Frie Mountain failed, the Allfather didn’t blame the Awter Clan for his losses. Instead, he promised Vellan that if a better opportunity showed itself, he would give the green light once more for another assault on the Frie Clan.
[I accept your vows! Haha, what a great day! Junius, come to me.]
“???” Although he didn’t know what the Allfather wanted from him, Junius still got to his feet and approached the Black Sphere.
[Your performance has greatly pleased me! Not only did you manage to smoothly move the Beast horde into the Kori Federation, but you have also allowed me to experience something that I wasn’t able to in a long time! For this, I shall bestow unto you three rewards!]
Not waiting for Junius to reply, a black mist flowed out from the Dark Sphere and intruded into Junius’ body through every pore that he had. Knowing that the mist would never harm him, Junius surrendered himself to the Allfather’s power, bringing out great transformations in his spiritual body.
[I have doubled my mana inside of you. I intended to give you more, but your body is still too weak. Thus, I seeped a large portion of my mana into your bones, strengthening your physique as a whole. Now, your cultivation path should be much smoother.]
Whenever a cultivator in the Black Masks reached the Spirit Adept realm, they would be baptised with the Allfather’s mana, giving them an all-around boost in their powers. In some instances, with the Allfather’s blessing, a Black Mask would be able to fight against someone that was a full realm above them.
When Junius first got baptised, he wasn’t even at the Spirit Adept realm yet. However, through sheer willpower, the youth managed to pull through the entire ordeal and had essentially become a Phoenix that had gone through a whole-body rebirth. His cultivation rate instantly improved and his physical capabilities shot through the roof. And that was with a small portion of the Allfather’s mana residing inside of his body.
Now that he had double the amount of the Allfather’s mana, Junius was confident that he could break through the first shackles of mortality and enter the Spirit Spectre realm within the next few years.
“Allfather, your grace is too heavy for me to accept!”
[Now, now. Don’t be too hasty! I still have two more rewards for you!]
Just improving his cultivation rate was the best present that Junius could possibly hope for. Yet, the Allfather was not done. He still has many more gifts to give.
[Your mind is exemplary! I personally saw the plans that you drew up for the beast horde, and they’re among the most comprehensive that I’ve ever seen! Junius! Our syndicate has many brutes that are capable of taking down armies by themselves. However, to take down a nation, we will need talents like you to rise to the occasion. Therefore, I’m appointing you in charge of planning out one of the twelve bases in the Kori Federation! If you do a good job, I’ll nominate you as the Chief Supervisor of future moving operations in the north!]
The Allfather was praising Junius endlessly as if he were the most valuable treasure that he had. The Brahmin that accompanied Junius in had his jaw dropped as he heard his exalted leader’s words, or rather the abundance of it. From his own experiences, the Allfather was never a blabbermouth, and almost all interactions with his subordinates didn’t last more than five sentences. Yet, Junius managed to make the Allfather sing like a bird, bringing much envy to the old Brahmin’s bitter heart.
“A leadership position?! Allfather! I’m not worthy of such a high task!” Junius immediately dropped his head in fear. Most of the leadership positions were assigned to Brahmins or at times, capable Kshatriyas. Never in the history of the Black Masks had a fresh-faced Shudra, who was relatively unknown, been given such a demanding assignment.
If Junius were to accept the Allfather’s mission, he would be directly in charge of a number of subordinates who were all stronger than himself. Even if he had the right ideas for the base, getting those egotistical seniors to obey his orders is a task by itself.
[Are you questioning my decision?]
The Dark Sphere replied with a brooding tone. At that very instant, Junius felt like he had been doused with a bucket of arctic ice and flusteredly refuted the Allfather’s claim.
“I-I-I wouldn’t dare!!! I’m just afraid that I’m not the right person to suit the task and I’m afraid of disappointing you, my liege!!!” Junius thought he saw his life flash before his eyes when the Allfather chided him. Of all the entities in the world, the last person he wanted to piss off was the mighty being that led his organisation.
[My eyes are never wrong. You are a talent, and I’m not one to let geniuses rot. I know what you’re worried about, so I’ll permit Vellan to assist you in the building of the base. That way, you will be able to reign in those that underestimate you.]
Junius eyes widened when the Allfather hit the nail on the head. If that was omniscient, then Junius didn’t know what was. “Oh, great Allfather! Your graciousness is as boundless as the sky! I will do my best to live up to your expectations!”
Since everything was planned out for him, the only thing that Junius could do was oblige to the Allfather’s arrangements.
[That’s enough of that. Caring for my children is the least that I could do.]
The Dark Sphere pulsated like a living heart as it replied the shocked youth. However, it wasn’t done.
[I had three gifts for you, Junius. Now that you have accepted the first two, I shall give you the final one. Honestly, I think that you would prefer the last gift more than the other two combined.]
‘A gift better than the other two?!’ Both Junius and the Brahmin were unable to hide their surprise.
The Allfather had given Junius a power boost as well as an authority boost. Looking back at the history of rewards that the Allfather had bestowed upon to others, Junius’ was by far the most extravagant. Yet, there was still another reward that trumped both of them?
[It’s something that’s dear to your heart. It’s something that you want to know more than anything else in the world.]
If the Black Sphere were a physical person, it would have been mischievously smiling like an imp by now.
[Hey, Junius… Do you want to know Shin’s location?]