Translator, Editor and Proofread: theunfetteredsalmon
Goddess Mourrin was unexpectedly there in the marsh of the Charcoal Forest. Amon saluted and asked, “My dear goddess, were you waiting here for me?” This was the first time they met since they fled from the Underworld.
Inanna’s dimples folded like a flower when she smiled to answer, “Don’t call me a goddess… My name is Inanna, remember?”
Amon stood up and spoke, “Inanna, were you waiting here for me?”
Inanna said with a delicate smile, “Amon, you really surprised me. I sent someone to the Underworld to rescue you only to hear that you escaped… My hero, can you tell me how you did it?”
Amon took out a scroll from thin air. “Because of this thing, the gatekeeper in the Underworld gave way. I had two other scrolls, ‘Message Annihilation’ and ‘Space Turbulence’, both spent in the escape.”
Inanna retaliated, her hand shooting upwards to cover her lips in shock. She spoke, “Tiamat’s Wrath! Nero’s relics? No wonder the coward did not dare to stand in your way. Your iron staff, it has a Ventussalte in it, right? How clever!”
Amon nodded and said, “Well, this stick is also my staff. You saw it on the Euphrate river. There is indeed a Ventussalte embedded in it.”
Inanna reached out for Amon’s iron staff and stroke it. She said in a slightly exclamatory tone, “What a wonderful artefact… it must have been created by a grandmaster artificer. It’s even made with Damasc iron. The spots where the slots for the parangons lay are covered in ore stone. Without paying attention, even gods would not notice them.”
She extended her fingers to open the slots one by one, revealing a Terroculos, an Aquaticore, a Ventussalte and finally, a Pyrosprite, all embedded in the staff.
“What a precious staff,” praised Inanna. “This staff is a stunning third hand for a mage! Amon, you seem nervous. Is there a secret I am not aware of in this staff?”
Amon’s calm breath staggered a little. His staff held many secrets and though he could hide them from other people, he couldn’t hide it from Inanna. If he doesn’t use it, even the gods would pay no attention to it, but Inanna had seen it in action on the Euphrate River.
Inanna’s expression at the staff was like an adult inspecting a child’s toy. As her fingers ran down the staff again, they ran over the groove meant for the Tear of the Gods. With a swift flick, she revealed the groove to see nothing but an empty slot. The Tear of the Gods was hidden in Osiris’ rib, which was undetectable with detection magic, just like Schrodinger. Without physically searching, one would notice neither the cat nor the rib.
But the gods are gods after all. Crazy’Ole once said that only a person with advanced skill in body arts and magic can open the concealed groove at the top of the staff. It needn’t be said that Inanna was clearly a very powerful mage. However, she did not have the look of a warrior and yet she revealed the groove with ease. In front of the mortal Amon, she had inadvertently disclosed her secret of being a goddess.
As Amon thought to himself, Inanna interrupted him, “This slot is well-hidden and highly interesting. Despite all the time we’ve spent together, I hadn’t known of its existence. Is it for the Tear of the Gods? Whoever made was really ambitious! There’s still information in this Terroculos… Amon, may I see it?”
Amon grinned bitterly and replied, “If you are intent on seeing it, could I decline? Moreover, you’ve already seen it so why bother asking me?” The other party was a goddess, after all. For them, to discover a Terroculos is equivalent to seeing the message hidden within it. It was supreme magic, after all.
At that moment, Amon saw a glimpse of opportunity. When he became a supreme sorcerer, he read Crazy’Ole’s final message in the Terroculos. The message was as follows –
“Child, this is the final message I leave for you. When you finally access it, it means that you must now be a supreme sorcerer. As long as you keep your head low, you can live the rest of your life comfortably and carelessly because you are now one of the world’s most powerful people.
When I arrived at where you are now, I spent the rest of my time debating the meaning of existence – such as the essential difference between a living creature like me, a pebble on the ground or a dog that lies outside a master’s door. Perhaps this contemplation itself is the meaning of existence, but the world is still the world and the starry sky still flashes in the hundreds of millions of years of life and death.
Once you are ready to reveal yourself as a top powerhouse on the mainland, people will give you the position of nobility to rid you of the plight of being a sorcerer. This is the lifelong pursuit of many people. However, this is not our dilemma, nor is it my goal. I have been a sorcerer for almost my entire life.
When you are on the top of the hill, you often forget how insignificant you are in the universe. Death is the great prophecy of the world! This world does not truly need anyone because no one will be there in the end, including you and me. So what kind of existence is eternal?
When I contemplate this, I see the gods laughing. When I no longer exist, does the world still exist for me? What would be the meaning of the gods? When I am dead, the gods are dead to me, regardless of their idealism, materialism and their laughs. However, dear Amon, you are still among the living!
I hope that one day you can find the answer but I do not want you to become another Bair.
To be a supreme mage means that you will have unprecedented power, inherent in your body and mind. But one day you may face a dilemma; is everything you have you? Are you the same person? Why are you… you? If you lose all of this, does that mean you lose yourself?
This is my final teaching to you. I am sorry that I cannot teach you more. Good luck, dear Amon!”
Nietzche’s final message was a series of questions and reflections of no specific practice. When Amon read it, the message deleted itself automatically. The Terroculos now only contained two permanent messages. The first was the scene of Amon’s worship of the old Nietzche, and the second was of the writing on the wall in the town of Duc that said, “Amon, my name is Icho.”
Those two permanent messages were what Inanna saw. She smiled, “I had accidentally infringed your privacy but I am your patron… These messages are nothing, anyway.” She swayed the staff and projected light onto the swamp, showing the scene of Amon kneeling at the feet of Crazy’Ole.
The goddess asked again, “This man is the longest-lived miner and sorcerer in Duc. You learned your magic from him. Did he also make this staff?”
Amon told her the truth, “Yes, that is correct.”
Inanna returned the staff to Amon. He handily restored the opened slots to their original closed states. This inadvertent action had also revealed another one of his secrets. Inanna spoke with surprise, “The hidden groove at the top of your staff can only be operated by one with the strength of an advanced warrior. I can see that you are already a supreme sorcerer. It is not uncommon for a warrior to learn magic through a second awakening of power, but it is difficult for a supreme mage to achieve even the advanced level of body arts. Apart from Gilgamesh, you are the only one I have seen with such abilities.”
This was a natural misunderstanding that pointed out something that many people did not know. It was well known that a supreme warrior succeeds in his second awakening of power, he would be able to train and use primary magic and perhaps a little bit of auxiliary advanced magic. However, a supreme mage could theoretically perform a second ritual to awaken their power in body arts. In this case, they would also be able to practice primary and advanced body arts.
This was actually unheard of in the common land. The simple reason is that mages have already mastered the power of magic far beyond the knowledge of ordinary people. There was no need or desire for them to awaken the second path of power. For instance, a powerful mage can already navigate heavy objects and fly with ease. Naturally, one such mage would not have to experience tiresome hoisting or trekking. This was a natural shift from their ability to a state of mind.
There are many other reasons. For example, the secular mage’s position was far more revered than that of an average warrior. It was neither necessary nor tempting for a mage to practise body arts. On top of that, practising body arts requires one to get physical and dirty and put their bones to work or otherwise it would be impossible for them to make a breakthrough. Many supreme mages are old and honourable and are unlikely to begin with the most difficult primary-level physical exercises. Even if they did that, their achievements would be limited.
The practice of magic itself consumes all the energy of one’s life, and it is difficult even for a supreme mage to master all the profound, esoteric supreme magic. Therefore, no supreme mage would consider performing the second ritual of awakening only to waste precious energy on the most basic level of body arts. For most of them, the studies of supreme magic have not yet ended!
Over time, many people parroted the misunderstanding that the second awakening of power is only for warriors. But today, Inanna had revealed Gilgamesh’s secret. The lord of a city was, in fact, a supreme mage, but after the second ritual of awakening his power, he began to practise body arts from scratch and passed all the tests that came with it. He was an advanced warrior.
Amon was curious and asked interestedly, “Oh, what level of magic and body arts is Gilgamesh?”
Gilgamesh’s realm of cultivation was his privacy and he was typically reluctant on mentioning it. Inanna casually answered Amon, “He is a supreme mage of the ninth level and an advanced warrior of the sixth level. Are you also a supreme mage with the sixth level in body arts? You are much more lovable than him. The arrogant man does not even look at the gods. Pitifully, he is not a god himself.”
Amon remembered that Crazy’Ole’s student Bair was also once merely a ninth-level supreme mage. In order to find the secret of the gods, he practised body arts from the beginning and eventually also became a sixth-level warrior. Bair and Gilgamesh were different in the sense that Bair did not perform the second awakening of power, rather, he had decided to retrain the power of magic and body arts from the start.
In Amon’s contemplation, Inanna chuckled sweetly and asked, “What is in your mind?”