"Do you pledge your allegiance to the Lord of Darkness?"
"Bow at your feet and receive the Dark Gift."
The human did so, kneeling at Abyssal soil. Right in front of the beacon of light that was called the Baptismal Grounds.
As he did, he was struck by a spear's tip to the heart, staining his Gravel Hearstone with Obsidian.
Ronin made a waving gesture. "Next."
"M-My family also makes the pledge." The man said nervously, as it was his 13 year old son's turn.
The boy was followed by his mother, who was carrying their 4 year old daughter.
Ronin sneered. "It's not up to you to decide for your family to take the pledge. After all, I have promised absolute freedom and equality in this New Magecia, have I not?"
He gestured for the boy to come forward.
Maellan asked every single one of them waiting in line with the same question.
"Do you pledge your allegiance to the Lord of Darkness?"
The boy clenched his fist, and did not speak.
Maellan repeated in a soft but firm tone. "Do you pledge, my boy?"
The boy eventually snapped. "Don't call me that! You Daemons! I don't want it, I don't want to be Daemons like you!"
"Petros!" The mother exclaimed. "Just accept it! Don't do this, he will kill you—" i𝘯𝚗𝗿𝗲α𝙙.＆nbsp;c𝒐𝐦
"I will give you one more time to reconsider." Ronin said. "But, let the next group move forward."
The people were surprised by this. Their stunned faces were broadcasted by the Communication Crystals to all of Magecia.
It has been 4 days since the ascension of the new King, Ronin Dreadborne. Under his rule, he declared that everyone must pledge allegiance to him and receive the gift of Darkness.
Because in this new world he created….
"Only Creatures of Darkness can survive. If you are a Creature of Light, you would soon perish from the death of the former Sun." He explained.
Yet of course, even when it was clear that this was for their survival, many people do not wish to become Daemons. And so, he gave them the choice as both King and Death itself.
If you do not want to live in this new world he created….
"Do you pledge your allegiance to the Lord of Darkness?" Maellan asked the man that was next in line after the family of four.
The man did not hesitate. He was firm and resolute.
Ronin nodded. "I respect your decision. Come."
The man did walk forward, and closed his eyes. This was the part that was hard to watch for everyone, and they were forced to watch it so many times already.
Ronin made it quick and painless. He plunged his clawed hands into the chest of this man and pulled out his heart.
Thenn, he ate it just as you would eat any normal fruit.
Once he was done, he simply wiped his mouth with a handkerchief and said. "Bring back little Petros."
The stubborn boy from earlier was called out and a bunch of newly created guards tossed him back to face King Ronin. He was deeply terrified by what he just witnessed, shaking like a poor baby deer.
"I will ask again. Do you choose to live in this world, or go to the afterlife?"
All of them knew there was no afterlife. If the Other Side existed, it was also controlled by this same King.
It may not be as it was before, being a land for dead Creatures of the Light. It may be of total and bleak darkness, completely isolated from anyone until they get to reincarnate…..
And repeat the same procedure all over again in their next life. They would face him again and be asked to pledge allegiance.
The boy thought about escaping. But deep down, he knew…..
There was no escaping the Darkness. The man without a head, the Daemon called Espinella, knew everyone and everything due to his connection to the Core.
He can quickly find you using his two daughters. One a hungry beast called Morta, which can fit anything in her large mouth.
The other was the manipulator called Nona, who can make even the smallest of seeds grow to become as large as redwood trees.
Or the smallest of ants and centipedes to become beasts to send everyone to panic and submission to her Dark Lord.
They have watched many people fail to escape several times. After his ascension, humans had been randomly sent into the Abyssal Realm high above them to pledge allegiance and be baptized as a Creature of Darkness.
They were carried by his agents, all sorts of monsters that were native to the Abyssal Realm. And eventually, former humans too were baptized by his right-hand man, Maellan.
After being sobered up by these undeniable facts, his resolve from earlier was weakened and….
"I-I do. I pledge."
Ronin smiled. "You shall now be reborn."
Maellan plunged the spear into his heart, and the boy Petros felt great pain as he was transformed. His eyes turned black, but it was over soon.
Once it was over, he just felt numb. It seemed like his emotions were lessened, especially his fear.
Because he was also now a creature of fear. He belonged now with the rest of the world that lacks things such as fear of judgment, of being wrong, of being 'not good enough'.
Ronin turned to them. "Next."
In his world, there was no Noble or Commoner. There were only the people who made the pledge, and people who did not.
The people who made the pledge get to survive as they wished. There was no longer money or currency, no extravagance or luxury, no class or hierarchy.
In this world, you do as animals do. They hunt for food, scavenge what you can using the powers given to you by the Lord of Darkness.
You fight for it as equals, and the winner takes all.
If a crime was committed, it could be avenged by anyone. You can avenge it in your next life, as the New Magecia had also been altered to allow everyone to never forget.
They can never forget a single thing, even if they were reborn.
Doesn't that also make everyone immortal in mind and spirit
And once they are reborn, they will face the same world again. Face the same challenges that only involve survival. Over and over, the cycle repeats.
(This is eternal punishment for everyone.) Ronin heard someone think.
Because of his mind-reading skill, he can quickly determine who would want to take the pledge or foolishly decline.
"Life itself is punishment." Ronin spoke for everyone to hear. "Existence itself is damnation."
"It was the smaller changes in everyday life that just made these punishments more complicated and harder to see. But now that I made it simpler, it was clear."
"Whatever you do with your life, it ends the same way. With the End. Whatever you pursue, you will lose, then you may gain again as you get reborn."
"Everyone here is like a mule being drawn by a carrot until they die. That was how it is. The greatest lie is Life itself, giving you things like happiness and love that are merely illusions to keep you following that carrot."
He would often make speeches like this and indoctrinate people about the 'Truth' of the world, the 'Truth' about life, death and despair.
Sometimes, it falls into deaf ears that still want to hope for change. But he was not bothered by this. They would learn the same lesson surely enough by themselves.
The line of humans goes on and on, and as they increase in number, it will continue to increase too.
Soon, Ronin would only be left to baptized children. He doesn't want newborns to make that choice and so he allowed anyone under 13 to postpone their pledge.
He had eaten so many hearts already, and gazed upon so many lives. There was always something new.
There was one who was a milkmaid that had her last remaining memories being about her father who gave her the last piece of bread he had and went hungry on his own.
There was one who was a mason and thought about his rival mason that took the pledge, vowing to kill this man when he gets reborn.
And so on it goes, with King Ronin taking and consuming everything. Whether it was good or bad people, young or old, man or woman, and everything in between those as well….
It's all the same.
He was the absolute End for everybody.
And he will never die. As the new Great Lord, he continues to live through his powers and the Flame he consumes. He never ages, and can appear however he pleases.
The 4 days soon became 4 months, and then 4 years, and then 4 decades, and then 4 centuries, and then….
Exactly as he wanted.
He was still all-powerful. Everyone was still equal. His greatest allies were still with him, doing the same tasks.
Espinella still knows everything, his daughters still capture everyone, and Maella still converts people.
What exactly would this lead to? Will it eventually result in a world where every single soul had been turned into a Creature of Darkness at some point
Ronin himself wondered, and after seeing that the end of the long line had been reached….
He finally had time to step away from his throne, the destroyed Heart of Thorns, and look around.
He saw that out of everything that remained unchanging, the one he didn't expect the most were the flowers forming the shape of a man lying on the ground.
He went to pick one up. Thousands of years had come, yet this flower was also everlasting.
Does this also mean….
That the remnants of this man were also everlasting to him?
Even when he had perished. Even when Ronin was already satisfied and continued to be satisfied for so many years....
"Maybe you should doubt if you are truly satisfied, then."
The voice of Kai came behind him. This system..... This 'child ghost' too, was everlasting. It stayed quiet for so many years and just watched.
And this was the first thing he say to him.
"I am satisfied. I just...." Ronin twirled the flower in his hand.
And it was true. Even without him, everything was going great for Ronin. Everything was.....
"You are a terrible liar, even to yourself." Kai said, and left.
"Where are you going?" Ronin asked.
"I'm tired of watching you. Unlike you, I'm willing to admit that I'm dissatisfied."
He disappeared, and Ronin was left wondering if he left Magecia completely and went to a new world in the Hero Transmigrating Machine. He could not sense it anymore.....
Just like how he could not sense him anymore.
"Where are you now, I wonder." Ronin asked the everlasting flower.
It really was the genus everlasting, or as he remembered from him, the 'Helichrysum'. From the Ancient Greek words helios and chyrsos. Sun and gold. How very fitting.
But more than these meanderings about the flower, what Ronin pondered the most was....
If Cermin was dead, where did his soul go? He couldn't sense him in the Other Side, and if he did go there, he should have been reincarnated by now.
So where is he?
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