Beira's creation of an illusion, which the titan attacked was her unofficial way of tagging herself into the altercation. Levina, at this point, could spend her time catching her breath and watching to see what Beira had planned for the Godling Titan, because she definitely had a plot ongoing. Watching the titan damage the walls, and Beira advising her to find something to hold on to, gave Levinia a could of suspicion as to what the Godslayer intended, but the titan still had a few tricks up its sleeve. Levie noticed that the monster could fire powerful vibrating bursts of energy, that caused earthquakes when they passed through the ground. It sort of reminded her of her greatsword Endovelicus. The only difference, that made Endovelicus more nifty, was that the earthquakes produced by the large blade could still be felt in the air. She had to admit, though, that the titan's attack was more powerful.
Since she was airborne, these earthquake attacks had virtually no effect on her, but Beira, who was still on the terra firma was affected. However, being the warrior that she was, she had quickly overcome those hurdles and lured the titan into breaking the wall open. To Levinia's surprise, she found herself staring into a black void. Perhaps she wasn't supposed to be actually taken unawares; this room was some sort of extradimensional space, and the void was the mantle of all dimensions. As air, and everything else was sucked out of the room into the void, Levinia relied on her telekinesis to stay in one place, and since she was quite far from the breach in the wall, she managed to keep herself away from it before it sealed itself shut. The Godling Titan was not so lucky, however. As it struggled to pull itself back, with only one arm, the Godslayer had thrown a spear into its remaining eye. That was more than sufficient to break its hold, and the void claimed the titan, just before the wall sealed up. That was some intelligent fighting, Levinia noted. Finding an environmental advantage and using it to turn the tide. She still had a lot to learn.
Now that the Titan had been taken care of, Beira asked where her arm could be found. Levinia closed her eyes and focused. She had seen her arm before, not in the Rectifier's visions, but in the out-of-body experience that had birthed her current powers and abilities, and had freed her from her curse. If her arm was anywhere around, her Gaze of the Hierophant could find it. Immediately, she sensed it; it seemed close by, and yet very far away. As she opened her eyes to tell Beira that they might have to perform a teleportation, this time without the help of the Key, the environment changed again, and the two women found themselves in a small room. the room was shaped like a pyramid, and above their heads was an odd stone that gave off a spectral light, which pulsated upwards through an aperture and into the unknown heavens. The room itself was an observatory of sorts, with many strange scripts and magic circles drawn on the walls. The mummified, chalk-white arm lay on a slab in a corner.
They were at the pinnacle of the ziggurat.
They would also realize that they were not alone.
Seated across the room, beside the amputated limb, were two figures. One was a human, or at least looked to be so, for all intents and purposes. He wore black robes, with red script etched into the sleeves and hems. His hair was dark, although with streaks of grey, and his clean shaven, angular features held two dark, probing eyes, that seemed to give off a subtle malevolence. The other creature was altogether evil in looks and feel. A tall being, darkly robed like the first and almost seven feet tall, rose as the two mages became aware of their surroundings. Its head was an oblong oval shape, and instead of a mouth, six groping tentacles writhed and clutched towards the end of its noseless face. Its eyes were black and glossy, and its cranial structure gave it a perpetual scowl. Its long. bony fingers ended in claws, and its skin was pink,like the flesh of a salmon.
In a strange, unknown language, the man spoke to the tall monster, and waved a hand. A series of runes materialized, very reminiscent of Levinia's own Abjugation Grimoire, and encompassed the room. Then they disappeared, and with them, Beira and the tentacle faced creature vanished. Levinia started, then summoned Jet and turned on the man, already aiming. But he simply held up both arms, in a gesture of reluctance to fight."So violent, young Levinia,"
he said in a rich baritone voice. "Your friend is not harmed, so you have no reason to attack me. You could at least be civil, and hear what I have to say."
That only worsened Levinia's mood, but she restrained herself. "Where is she, then?"
she asked, keeping the weapon trained on him."She and the Mind Flayer have been transported to a lower floor,"
he replied. "This discussion is not for her ears. Also, she is Utgardian. You don't know how much they love to fight. The Mind Flayer has always wanted to meet her, or so he told me. I don't understand for what purpose, and it is hardly a concern of mine.""You don't care if your octopus pet kills her?"
The man sighed, as if he was trying to be patient. "Levinia Arx Creuset, you could stop insulting our race by thinking less like a mortal slave, and thinking like a god. If she is not powerful enough to defeat the Mind Flayer, she should be ashamed of her title as an Utgardian noble. Besides, I'm very sure she will find the encounter... enjoyable. Now, enough of talking about lesser matters. I am pleased you came.""Well, good for you. I came for your head, you know? so, if you like dying, I'm sure that will save me a lot of trouble."
The man smirked sardonically. "You have even imbibed that crass humor of the mortals. You have really fallen low...""And guess who I have to thank for that!"
Levinia snapped, cutting him off. "You and all those people I can't even think of as my kin. How dare you treat me less than an animal, all those long years, beset my every attempt at curing the curse you inflicted on me, set me up for the Rectifier to do me in, and now you're acting like you've been doing me favors and I ought to be thankful?!!""I admit we may have been... harsh, Levinia Arx Creuset,"
the man said soothingly. "But you were perceived as a threat back then, and until I could discern your allegiance, I had to do what was best for my people. But look at the end result: you are a godling, and following the right paths, may now ascend to be a goddess."
Something was amiss with what he was saying. Levinia was surprised that he was not sealing off his mind totally to her, and so she could discern that he was telling the truth, or at least, some of it, but it was clear that he was hiding something. "I couldn't give a spinning hoot about allegiances, right now. I don't have any reason whatsoever to favor you or your people. But if you're so big on this goodwill thing, then perhaps you can tell me why you killed my parents and did all those horrible things to me."
At this, the man laughed. Long, hard and harsh was his laughter, and Levinia almost squeezed the trigger... thrice. "You are not ready for the truth, Levinia Arx Creuset. There are some things that are better left buried. I shall give you a counter-proposal, instead: let me teach you the paths to godhood. It is the least I can offer, seeing as I admit that you were indeed wrongfully treated."
What in blazes was he talking about? What truth? At this point, Levinia was tired of playing games. No matter how hard he tried to hide it, she could sense that he held no good will towards her. Best to just get to the fighting. "Here's a counter-counter-proposal: I shoot you in the face with this, about nine or ten times for good measure, then I take my arm and trash up your bedroom in the process."
She did not reveal to him that she had sensed Beira, who seemed safe, but the Mind Flayer was also there, so Beira would have to deal with it. If she had revealed such, perhaps this man might try to use that in some way against her. If there was anything she knew about him, he had no scruples fighting dirty."You are a fool, Levinia Arx Creuset. You should have taken life, while I offered it.""You don't have didley-squat to give me, mister,"
she retorted. "And even if you did, you should have made the proposal to me before you all caused me so much hurt.""Why haven't you attacked, then?""'Cause I've tried my best not to give in to rage and be irrational here, but all I see is you selling me half-truths and offers I'll be bound to regret. Besides, what's the point of shooting at you? You were already prepared for battle the moment we appeared in your world."
The man nodded and rose to his feet. "Very well, then. Let me show you what you could have become. I shall drown you in despair, and you will realize why I am called the Twisted god!"
The magic circles and scripts on the walls glowed brightly, and Levinia suddenly found herself in a greying void with no walls. There was ground beneath her feet, but it was shrouded in fog and hard to see. Some meters ahead of her, the twisted god appeared. "How do you mortals say it? 'Welcome to my web.'"
She fired off a shot with Jet, but to her surprise, the bullet struck her in the shoulder. At first, she thought someone else was attacking her, but she realized that the bullet was none other than that from her revolver. "You are in my world, and here, I am omnipotent!"
He gave a flick of his wrist, and Levinia found herself hitting the ground with a hard thud. She discovered that she had blanked out from the pain of being hit by something that felt like an armored carrier moving at the speed of sound, and she couldn't even tell where the attack had come from. She struggled to her feet."You do not deserve deification. You will thus grovel and worship me, like the rest of the mortals."
Another unseen force struck her to the ground so hard that she felt whatever was beneath her cave in. Her body was screaming in pain, she knew somethings had been broken, but there was no way she would give this thing the honor of pleading for her life or bowing at its feet."80th Amulet Grimoire: Time's Slow March!"
she called, as he floated towards her. As the time-slowing pulse raced outwards, the twisted god snapped his fingers, and her runes simply ceased to be. He gestured again, and she felt something constrict her throat and lift her into the air. "If I wanted to, I could snuff out your life this instant. However, I promised you despair, and before I am done with you, you will beg to be my foot slave. I might oblige you, who knows?"
She struggled to breathe, but it was no use. There was nothing there, but she could feel a grasp choking the very breath out of her. She did not speak, but she cast the 60th Augural Grimoire: Rupture, in an omnidirectional pattern around herself. The hold broke, fortunately, but she didn't even have the strength to land on her feet. She crumpled to the ground, gasping for air. She needed to heal up fast. Even with her swift regeneration, her body could not take the damage it was receiving much longer."57th Miracle Grimoire: Aeon's Embrace!"
The sigils formed and surrounded her, but a sudden wave of malevolent energy struck them, and they failed, leaving her more enervated than before. "How is he canceling my magic? This can't be possible..."
Still unwilling to give up, she summoned the Utagatana, and used it to prop herself up. At least, this was a physical weapon; there was no way he could cancel it... The twisted god simply snapped his fingers again, and the Songblade vanished. Levinia let out a cry of frustration as she fell, and he laughed mirthlessly. "You have not tasted despair, yet, child. But you have just scratched the surface."
Levinia was beginning to panic. No matter how hard she tried, she could not summon her katana back into her hands. It was not like it has been sent back to the Vault; it wasn't even in there. The twisted god was laughing, and that was enough provocation to get her to keep fighting. Jet was still around, wasn't it? She had not summoned it away, yet. ah, yes, there it was, lying discarded some distance away. Quietly, she reached out with her mind and gripped the revolver, then pointed the nozzle at the twisted god. He hadn't noticed; he was reveling in her torment. With a grim smile, she pulled the trigger.
Jet coughed out fire and smoke, but there was no indication that the bullet had hit home. He simply turned, looked at the black revolver, then snapped it out of existence.
Levinia was just about breaking down, when she felt something. She could still feel her mental grip on Jet. That was odd, but it gave her a sense of hope. Jet was not here, but she could perceive it, somewhat. And that feeling felt familiar. Then it suddenly hit her: that was the same way she had felt when she sensed for her arm after the battle with the titan, and that was the same way Beira felt, when she had tried to find out where she was. Close, but far away. She felt that if she wanted to, she could even use Jet to cast a spell. And better yet, now that she focused on Jet, she could sense her Songblade close to her revolver.
This gave her hope, and a plan.
She struggled to her knees, then held out her hands. A silver sword formed in her hands. This was her trump card. The twisted god looked upon the well crafted weapon with disdain. "I thought you were smarter than this."
he waved at the sword, and it vanished. Levinia's shoulders sagged, as her hope "vanished" with her weapon. He pointed at her."Face me like a man, you jerk..."
she managed to mumble, as she struggled to stay on her knees. The twisted god paused. "You're holding out pretty well. I'm impressed. And grateful. I haven't had this much fun in a long time."
A sudden bolt of pain shot through Levinia, and she bit back a cry. The twisted god shook his head. "That won't do at all. I will strip you of your dignity. You must scream, when I will it."
Another jolt of pain hit her, and she fell on her side and curled into a fetal position. "Cry! Scream! Beg me for your life!"
the man ordered, as Levinia felt excruciating pain for the third time. She closed her eyes tightly and focused her mind as much as the pain would let her. She reached out for the Nightgleam. She could sense its metal, the grip with its good hilt, the magic brimming within it. She murmured quietly."What was that?"
He floated over to her like a ghost, then grabbed her hair in his hand. Raising her head by her orange locks, he looked into her battered face. "it would seem that Grimoire magic seems more potent the closer one is. Perhaps if I manipulate you at this range..."
He trailed off, as runes surrounded the both of them. A pain Levinia had never felt before suddenly hit her. It was like every cell in her body was subjected to the same torment at once. She screamed in agony."That's better, but not quite enough. Let's try that some more times."
Levinia knew at this point, that somehow, whatever she did was not likely to affect him. She filled her lungs with air, and reached out with everything she had in her. The twisted god laughed. "Yes. Breathe deeply. I intend to make this more painful than the rest..."
All of a sudden, the twisted god shrieked in pain, and the space around them shattered like glass. Levinia was still on the ground, curled up into a ball, but she knew for certain that they were in the observatory. And all her weapons were here, in this dimension. Without bothering to even open her eyes or move her body, she lashed out with her mind. The Nightgleam flew through the air, thrusting through the chest of the twisted god and pinning him to his throne. Levinia struggled to get up, her body wobbling, but she succeeded."I remembered how you rushed back into your body, the very first time we met,"
she said, as runes appeared around her body and began healing her. "When I lost my Songblade, I thought you had erased it from existence, until I felt my telekinesis linger on with my revolver."
She stretched out an arm as she walked towards him, and the katana flew into her grasp. "When I sensed the other weapons, I realized that you have the ability to create circles of existence, where you have almost total control of everything, and can kick out whatever you don't want. But your ability has a flaw."
She slowly unsheathed the sword, as he struggled with the sword in his chest. "The items you kick out return to where your body is. What is in your world is more like a projection, so it can't be harmed. Am I right?"
She stood before him, looking down on him as he tried to speak. "Wait! Wait!"
he gasped. "We can work something out. You don't have to kill me. We could..."
His speech was truncated as she cleanly decapitated him."Hubris, ugh! After all that boasting about being a god..."
She sheathed the katana and dismissed her weapons, and suddenly, the stone above lost its light, and fell, shattering into a million fragments on the floor. The ziggurat began crumbling, as the world began decaying rapidly. "Was this place a figment of his mind? That is some crazy dimensional grimoire magic..."
she said to herself, somewhat surprised and grudgingly impressed by that amount of power. She wondered about Beira, as almost instinctively, she grasped with her mind, and retrieved her withered right arm, as well as the head of the twisted god.
Suddenly, the world of the twisted god failed, and she was thrust into the blackness of the void. Just as she was about to teleport, she flashed into a familiar dimension, and landed on her feet before the Rectifier's throne."Beira? Where's Beira?"
The Rectifier looked at her. "Thou hast succeeded in thy quest. Fear not for thine friend; her steps will bring her hence. As for thee, I hereby exonerate thee from any charge placed against thee by the Forces of Time. Thou hast earned a boon from me, for loath am I to require service, and pay thee not."
Did this mean that all the attacks on her life from hidden avenues had come to an end? Was she finally free to go live out her life as she hoped? This would surely be a breath of fresh air, and she would make the best use of it as possible.