Chapter 682 Mysteries Part 2
“Saving Protector gave me Death Vision because it crippled my life force.” Lith said. He could only blame himself for losing his cool earlier.
“What does it mean?” Phloria actually knew enough about light magic to put the pieces together, but her brain refused to.
“It means that he is dying.” Quylla said, making her sister turn pale as a ghost.
“I hope you haven’t focused on Body Sculpting because of me.” Lith said.
“I’m not doing it only for you, but also for people like Zinya. Body Sculpting is the next frontier of healing magic, yet few people practice it because of its risks. I researched the Odi because I think they might have found a solution to your problem.”
‘What the heck? Quylla came here for the same reason.’ Solus was shocked and so was Lith.
“I’m not in love with you, but I care for you deeply. You’re part of my family.” She said hugging him again. Hearing Quylla using almost the same words he had told Phloria at the beginning of the expedition, gave his cynical heart a blow too many.
Lith returned her embrace, not caring anymore about keeping up appearances and stupid rumors.
“Seriously, what the fuck?” Phloria demanded an explanation and this time Lith went into details, even telling her how much he was supposed to have left to live. By the time he was done, Phloria’s outlook on their mission was completely changed.
If before it was just a detail mission, now it was personal. Phloria took a walk to clear her head. To her, Kulah was no longer a threat to defend against, it was a fortress to storm which potentially held a priceless treasure.
Her instincts told her to put her suit back up and keep exploring the city, but it only lasted an instant. She knew that raw power and will could only take her so far. The key for that peculiar vault was knowledge, not violence.
The Odi had left too many self-destruct mechanisms that she was unable to deal with on her own. She needed to rest and she needed to wait.
Morok approached her to ask if since there were two of them and one of Lith they needed a fourth player, but before he could even open his mouth, Phloria glared at him.
It was a look that all of Jirni’s victims knew all too well, holding a promise of infinite pain and misery. In Morok’s case, it reminded him of the look of the Phoenix that had caught him in the attempt of taking one of her eggs to check if a Phoenix omelet was as spicy as legends said.
He had survived the encounter only because after throwing him off the top of her mountain with all of his spells sealed, the beast hadn’t bothered confirming the kill. Having learned from his past mistakes, the Ranger gave her a salute before remembering about a very important matter he had to attend to somewhere else.
In the following days, they kept searching one building at a time. The second facility had collapsed, leaving behind no trace of the Odi experiments to create artificial Adamant.
After discovering the records of the umpteenth failed monstrosity, the team had decided to explore the right area hoping to have better luck. What they found out, instead, was that while the left side of Kulah held labs and research facilities, the right side was composed of the personnel living quarters.
They found shops, restaurants, and even a library. Unfortunately, it was a civilian library, so it only contained books unrelated to the Odi research. It was a gold mine for an anthropologist, but just a pile of garbage to the expedition team.
Just to not leave any stone unturned, they explored one building of each side per day.
“If we find Kulah’s upper echelons’ apartments, we might find the key to decipher this mystery instead of just clutching at straws.” Phloria pointed out.
Even though the Professors thought it was just wishful thinking, Lith supported her idea for several reasons. After the Golems had been destroyed, both sides of Kulah were lit up with mana, so their existence couldn’t be as simple as it appeared.
Also, every time they deactivated an array or cut a mana cable, there was more world energy available, so it was only a matter of time before Solus could take her tower form.
Last, but not least, he could bring Quylla to the cleared buildings and use her help to understand what could have happened to the Odi. When they had arrived, Kulah was sealed, so the rebels had failed to find it.
Yet there were no corpses, no graveyards, nothing. Too many things didn’t add up unless the Odi had simply disappeared off the face of Mogar leaving behind a perfectly functional military facility.
The worst part of their situation was that despite the fact that the living quarters were big, spacious, and were equipped with comfortable beds, the place felt so creepy on so many levels that no one wanted to sleep inside Kulah.
It only made them homesick, lowering their morale even further. The soldiers and the Assistants felt more useless by the day. Their pride crumbled with every challenge the first squad overcame.
The Professors, instead, were starting to be affected by the Odi’s abominable experiments. They were academics, after all, they had seen their fair share of atrocities but Kulah was undermining their trust in the magical research.
Not only they were questioning their mission, but also their entire careers, debating more and more often if it shouldn’t have been better to just raze Kulah to the ground.
One building held a research lab focused on robbing magical beasts of their true magic. Each one of its floors contained the results from fusing together a beast and a member of the ‘lesser races’, no matter their age or gender.
According to the notes left by the mages, the hybrids would live a few minutes in excruciating agony before dying by mana poisoning.
Another building gave them a pleasant surprise. The Odi had tried to bestow their specimens a ‘potion organ’, something that would make them capable of enhancing their bodies in a way similar to fusion magic.
Each floor was dedicated to a different element and all of them were littered with corpses of both Odi and inmates. The victims had been granted unstable powers that crippled their life span but gave them the opportunity to bite their oppressors back.
The project had been dropped because the more the procedure was perfected, the more casualties the Odi would sustain, especially on the air and fire fusion floors.
“Do you see what I mean?” Lith said to Phloria and Quylla once he was sure that they were alone.
“I get that they modified their bodies to reach what they considered perfect beauty, but aren’t these skeletons too similar between each other?” He said pointing at both female and male bodies.
“Also, why none of these women has given birth, not one of them. Their pelvic bones are too perfect.”
“If they body-swapped, why give birth?” Phloria shrugged. “They couldn’t keep a bloodline just like they couldn’t keep their bodies.”
“Point taken, but isn’t it strange that despite having a young, healthy body, none of them had children? Kulah has no nursery, no school, nothing. These kinds of experiments lasted years, isn’t it unnatural that no one had a family?”