Chapter 239: Worries
"Kalla, you're alive!" Lith regretted those words as soon as he pronounced them.
Kalla looked almost the same way when they met during Balkor's attack.
The shadows surrounding her were deeper, the red light in her eyes was stone cold, and the presence she exuded was that of an undead.
I barely survived that night and only thanks to the experiments I had previously performed on my own body.
After I recovered, I decided to push things to the next level.
I'm currently in the process of turning myself into a true undead.
Is that a problem for you"
"Not at all.
What are you doing here" He asked.
"I could ask you the same thing.
I was minding my own business when I recognized your mana signature.
I would have liked to rush here to help you, but I was in the middle of a delicate procedure.
I arrived here just a few seconds ago.
How are you doing, Scourge"
Lith told her everything he had gone through from the last time they had seen each other, sparing no details about Death Vision.
"Fascinating." She replied.
"Does it work on me too"
"No." Oddly, Kalla remained the same, no matter how long he looked at her.
"Maybe it's because of my ongoing transformation, or maybe because you know I'm stronger than you.
We should try asking Scarlett when she comes back."
Kalla looked at Lith first and then to Solus's ring.
She didn't agree with their decision, but since they knew him better, Kalla decided not to interfere.
"Kalla, why have you decided to turn into an undead You have evolved only recently, isn't this rushing things too much" Lith was as happy to see her as worried for her mental health.
Since he had developed Death Vision, he had revised all the old conversations he had with his psychologist, to understand how much of a nutjob he was.
If before Protector's death his heart felt like it had been turned to stone, since he had developed Death Vision he could feel a void in his chest.
Like a hole through which a cold wind blew non stop, freezing his body.
He was afraid that Kalla had been suffering from a similar trauma and had taken the easiest way out from her feelings.
It was the same thing he had planned to do for a while, before his family's and Phloria's affection had convinced him otherwise.
"I'm not rushing anything.
I have been mulling over the possibility ever since I was still a Byk.
Why do you think I was so interested in greater undead, even when we met for the first time"
"I'm sorry, but I don't understand.
Based on what I read, evolved monsters have a very long lifespan.
Can't you wait for a bit before taking such an irreversible decision"
Kalla sighed, realizing how little Scarlett trusted Lith to keep him in the dark even about basic knowledge.
"I'm sorry to be forced to break it to you like this, but there is no easy way to do it.
It's not just evolved monsters, all Awakened ones live for centuries.
That means that you too will sooner or later face the same problem."
"What" Lith and Solus were both flabbergasted.
"In your attempt of saving Protector, you have lost decades of life span.
That means that you'll live a few hundred years less than the average Awakened ones, but you will still live on for centuries."
"How… how is it possible"
Lith suddenly felt lightheaded, the world was spinning all around him to the point he had to use the bastard sword to support himself.
"People's lives depend on the amount of life force they possess.
An Awakened one is capable of constantly absorbing the world energy, so instead of burning their own life force, they consume mostly world energy.
"That prolongs our lives for a very long time.
I knew it from the moment I evolved into an Awakened one that it would mean to watch everyone of my kin die.
To witness the world as I know it changes until I would become unable to recognize it anymore.
"In my Wight form, I could still have cubs, but what of them They would live shunned by animals and humans alike, just to die of old age way before me.
Know this, the offspring of an Awakened it's almost never an Awakened, just like having a mage for a parent doesn't mean having a great talent for magic.
"That's why there are monsters roaming this world.
Scarlett's offspring are Scorpicores capable of using all the elements, they live around three hundred years, but they are not Awakened ones.
Also, your case is even more special."
"What do you mean" All those sudden revelations had forced Lith to sit down.
He felt like he was going to puke.
"You can live as long as an Awakened, but you might as well live forever.
There are immortals in this world, creatures that can live until someone kills them and Abominations are among them, just like the undead."
"This means that my family, my friends…" Lith was stuttering for the shock.
"They will all die, in time.
Even if you cage them all, even if you personally stand guard to them, sooner or later they will die in front of your eyes.
Time is our ally as much as our enemy." Kalla completed the sentence for him.
"That's why what you did for Protector was stupid and childish.
He had seen so many of his kin age and pass away in front of him after becoming a Ry.
After becoming a Skoll, he was bound to witness all of his pack, her new mate and even his cubs wither away in front of his eyes.
"Also, your idea of undead is flawed.
Greater undead not only can live forever, but also have all the same range of feelings that the living has.
Human undead give us a bad name because once they get used to killing, they stop thinking of others as living beings, belittling them like cattle.
"A magical beast is different, though.
We need to kill since the moment our parents abandon us, life is a constant struggle for survival.
For me turning into an undead will change nothing.
"Unlike Nok, I wasn't born a Byk.
First, I was just a bear, then a Byk, and lastly a Wight.
No matter how much my appearance changes, I will always be myself.
Can you say the same"
"Maybe, I don't know." It was the first time that Lith was forced to lie to Kalla, but he had no way to explain to her how he had been reborn twice already and had changed very little so far.
"So, the good news is that you don't have to worry about my family.
I will take care of them myself.
I free you from your promise.
The bad news is, well, everything else.
There is something you have to ask me before we part ways again"
Kalla rubbed her muzzle softly against Lith's cheek.
Contrary to his expectations she was warm.
Caressing her head helped him to regain his cool a bit.
"Let me get this straight.
If I remain just an Awakened one I will live for a couple of centuries, while if I turn into an undead or an Abomination, I would live forever"
"Yes." She nodded.
"Beware that both conditions come at a price.
Normal greater undead cannot use light magic freely, it only worsens their hunger.
Some can't stand the light of the day, others get driven mad by their new instincts.
They are all unacceptable limits that would hinder my research, that's why I'm trying to turn myself into a lich."
"You what" Lith froze.
"Liches are one of the few exceptions.
The process requires to split your core into two.
One part remains in your body and the other needs a special vessel, to seal it from all external influences, even the passing of time.
"That way, even if your body gets destroyed and your core shattered, you can always regenerate a new one from the vessel.
The process is long and risky.
One single mistake and I'll be dead for good.
As for Abominations, they can freely use all elements, but because of their parasitic nature, they are constantly hunted down.
They care for nothing but their own survival.
"They don't even have a body unless they steal one.
Even if they find a suitable one, their destructive energies consume it over time until they need to find a replacement.
So be careful about what you choose.
Remain an Awakened until you are entirely sure of your decision.
One day I might find a cure for undeath, but I doubt there is one for being an Abomination."
"What do you think I should do"
Lith was completely lost, he didn't want Kalla to leave him.
He had never felt so alone in his life.
The moment he had learned that he was bound to live for so long, he couldn't stop considering everyone he knew just a little more than walking corpses.
"Stop living in the past." Kalla snorted.
"Enjoy your present, because it will change soon.
Stop mulling over death and worry about the living.
You have only a few years to spend with them, make them count.
Also, try to learn from Nok about how to face changes.
"Do you know what's the first thing he asked me when I told him about my plans for the future He said: 'Okay, mom.
What have you caught for dinner'
"I will remain in this forest for a few years, I don't know how long will it take to complete my transformation nor if it will succeed.
Look for me only if you are in dire need of help, since I will be busy.
We will resume our lessons when we both have more free time."
After saying goodbye to Protector's grave, Lith had found his closure.
He was finally at peace with himself, but after hearing Kalla's words, he felt bewildered.
"Well, this is great.
I needed some good news." Lith sneered.
"I was already considering to become an immortal, an undead, whatever.
It would have liked for it to be my choice though, the last resort in case I didn't manage to find a way to have a proper death." He pondered.
"Until I understand what the heck I am becoming, my life span is the last of my problems.
Even my arm acts on its own.
I knew I would outlive my parents, but now it seems I will survive my sisters and even my nephews."
"There is no solution.
Even if I find a way to turn them into Awakened, then what Should I also turn Rena's husband and his family Their children when they have them
"It would destroy their lives."
Lith remained pensive for several minutes.
The truth he had just learned was overturning his plans for the future.
His age had become completely irrelevant.
Judging by Scarlett's appearance he was likely to remain young looking even once he became a century old.
"I obsessed so much over controlling every aspect of my life, only to discover that I have no voice in the matter.
I'm bound to have a long and lonely life, unless I befriend undead like Kalla, or Awakened ones." He bitterly laughed.
'By my maker, did you listen to a single word Kalla said She told you to enjoy the present, to treasure those who you love and instead you are acting like they are already dead.
'Did you hear her plan to turn Nok into an undead or an Awakened No.
She is even willing to find a cure for her vampire adoptive daughter, to give her a mortal life.
She worries about them and their happiness, not about herself.
'Think about Protector.
He knew he would outlive his pack.
Did he consider it reason enough for not evolving No, he became a Ry first and a Skoll later.
When he met Selia he didn't avoid her just because she is weak and short lived, he started a family!
'Why are you so bad at following your own advice Do you remember what you told Yurial Your only choice is to embrace the changes or remain forever chained by the failures of your past.'
She projected in his mind their last encounter with Protector before Lith had lost consciousness, quickly followed by Kalla's words.
Lith had to accept that she was right.
Both of them had encouraged him to move forward without letting his fears control his life, yet he was there doing the opposite.
'Damn, I hate you being always right, Solus.
This is exactly why Protector tried to stop me.
All this time, I faced this existence like an enemy to beat or a problem to solve.
My fear of losing those precious to me made me lose focus on what is really important.
'I wasted so much time preparing for the worse that I've probably spent more time with my comrades during the last year than with my own family until now.'
Solus could feel that Lith's mind was finally relaxing.
After more than a decade of grieving and blind rage, he seemed to be able to rise beyond his limits and live his life to the fullest.
It made her incredibly happy and scared at the same time.
Because in the end, Protector had made a huge mistake.
Lying to Lith to protect him had been the wrong thing to do.
It was up to her to make things right.