“We’ve heard that much, so can you tell us about other methods?”
Dia looked a little surprised at Loren’s answer. Since what he had heard was impossible to realize, she had expected him to end the topic here. Yet he said that he wanted to have the knowledge even if it was useless, and it took her aback a little.
“If you want to hear, of course I will tell you. But as to whether it is feasible or not, you can judge for yourself, can’t you?”
“Yeah, I won’t snap even if they’re just useless knowledge.”
“The second method is this: Preparing a soul that possesses a little more magic power and less ego.”
“What does that mean?”
It was an oddly specific instruction, but Loren had no idea what it indicated. Lapis, who was quietly listening in by his side, turned her gaze toward Loren for a moment as if she had some idea what Dia was talking about. But before her gaze could meet Loren’s, she immediately turned her attention back to Dia, so Loren had no idea what she was looking at.
“It’s a cheat. If you coat the outer of an undead soul with such a soul, it will look like a normal soul from the outside.”
“I kind of understand what that means, but what happens to the soul that is used to coat the undead soul?”
“It dies, of course. Or, more precisely, the person perishes because they lose their soul.”
At this point, Loren finally realized what Dia was trying to say. In other words, it was to create a state similar to the one he and Shayna were currently in.
If Loren’s ego disappears in this state, the control of his soul would be transferred to Shayna on the inside. Shayna’s soul itself would remain undead, but the soul of the former Loren coating it on the outside would make Shayna to appear as a normal living person and not an undead from the outside.
The problem was that to do this, someone must be in a state where their soul was lost but they were still alive. This method, too, was one that could be done if they ignored the difficulty to achieve it.
Loren, who was puzzling over whether there was a way to kill only the ego and leave the soul as an empty husk, was presented with a third method.
“This one is the easiest. But from the point of view of a solution, it is not a solution at all.”
“Let’s hear it first.”
“It’s also easy to realize. The soul of the undead surrenders its power to another soul, or another soul becomes undead and takes that power from the undead soul in question.”
Wondering how all that was simple, Loren frowned. But Dia, the one who had proposed the idea, added an explanation as if it was something trivial.
“I know the magic to do this. It can be exercised.”
As she said this, Dia pulled out a silver ring with a red gemstone from the breast of her dress. It was of simple design and did not appear to be very expensive. Then she casually took Loren’s right hand and slipped it into his index finger.
Loren usually wore gloves, but as he was currently in Dia’s base and was being served tea, he had to take them off. It was a mistake.
Dia’s movement was so deft and natural that Lapis, who was standing next to Loren, could not warn him, and Loren himself did not have time to retract his hand. The ring slipped to the base of the ring and then stopped as if it was its place.
“Oh, it fits perfectly.”
“Wait a minute?!”
Loren hurriedly tried to take off the ring, but it was so snugly fitted that no matter how hard he pulled on it, he could not move it from its position at all.
It was not something that would get in the way of moving a finger or holding something, but Loren wanted to complain about suddenly being forced to wear something he didn’t know what it was. Dia’s next words made him shut his mouth though.
“That’s the magical tool that contains the formula.”
Loren, who had unconsciously turned his gaze to his own finger, was surprised to hear that. Shayna was as well; she activated the King of Death’s vision she possessed and synchronized it with Loren’s vision. Thanks to that, both of them could see that there was indeed some kind of surprisingly elaborate magic formula engraved in the red gemstone of the ring on Loren’s finger.
“To use it, pass the magic power through the formula and declare either ‘Offer’ or ‘Take’. The formula will do the rest on its own after. Once this is done, the soul of the one whose power has been taken will revert to that of a mere mortal.”
“What happens to the one whose power is taken and the one to whom it is offered?”
Normally, one would think that since the person received the power the undead offered and carried it in their body, they would just create one new undead soul. However, contrary to expectations, Dia folded her arms with a frown and tilted her head.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“It can’t be helped that I don’t know. After all, there is no precedent for the transfer of power from the undead, who are beings in their own right, or for taking power away from such beings.”
That sounds reasonable. At the very least, not many people would be crazy enough to think of taking away the abilities of zombies or skeletons, which are low-level undead, and it is unlikely that they would be able to do so with vampires or the King of Death. Furthermore, it was hard to imagine such high-ranking undead going out of their way to offer their power to the living, so it was understandable that there had been no precedent for such a thing.
However, Loren asked Dia about something that had occurred to him.
“Then why did you make something like this?”
Dia told him that it was a magic that had no precedent, and no one knew what the outcome would be. That meant such magic had never been used in this world before, and the ring on Loren’s right hand might be the very first in the world to be able to activate such magic. It was difficult to understand why she would suddenly give such a thing to him, but he didn’t understand the reason why she created such magic in the first place.
“Actually, I was thinking of using it on… Master.”
The eyes of Dia, who whispered those words, were almost serious from Loren’s point of view.
Dia was originally a vampire who stayed under the protection of other Elders as the youngest Elder. When she met Loren’s party, she was undergoing a test to be allowed to stand on her own. But the test was actually interfered with by Dia’s master, Sierra, and Dia was subjected to many terrible things. Some time has passed since then, but even now Dia still seemed to hold on to that fact.
“I thought you were going to forgive her eventually if she kept running errands for you.”
“About this, humans are the same, aren’t they? You say you forgive, but sometimes you have these spontaneous outbursts of anger.”
“Yes, I guess…?”
Loren’s eyes were directed to Nim, who was sipping his tea without participating in the conversation. She jumped a little in her chair as she was suddenly included in the conversation.
“Loren, I am an elf. Don’t ask me about the feelings of the human race.”
Nim shook her head in annoyance at the topic. She herself thought it would make more sense to ask Lapis and Gula than to ask her, an elf, but what she did not know was that Lapis was a demon, and Gula might have once been human, but now she was an Evil God. Both of them were not the right people to ask about the feelings of the human race.
“That was why I made it. After I finished making it, I wondered what would happen if an Elder took away another Elder’s power, and I realized that the magic would not work if the other party strongly rejected it or something, and I just found it troublesome.”
“Isn’t it a waste?”
“But it might be a… useful tool for you?”
Loren was at a loss for words when Dia told him this with a thin smile and a testing tone. Certainly, if he wanted to turn the Shayna inside him back to a human being, using the power of the ring to transplant her soul into a living body would make it possible, even though he did not know what would happen if he used it.
As a result, the power of the King of Death would remain inside Loren, and even though it remained unclear what effect this would have on Loren himself, it was hard to imagine that things would go horribly wrong as there was currently nothing too inconvenient about having the King of Death herself residing inside him
“If I become undead, I can change my appearance and extend my lifespan. That can’t be so bad, can it?”
“I’m pretty okay with you becoming undead, Loren. It’ll probably be quite nice.”
Placing a hand on his chin, Loren pondered what to say in reply to Lapis, who said such a thing with a straight face.
“But I don’t want to see any rotting things. If possible, please stay as you are, or at least turn into a bone-only state.”
“I don’t like either rot or bones though…”
“Loren? Are you seriously considering it?”
Nim asked incredulously, and Loren came back to himself. He shook his head with a wry smile on his face.
“No way. I was just a little moved by Lapis’ words that even bones are okay.”
Loren said to gloss it over, and Lapis, having been used to deflect the question, poked him on the side with her finger in a slightly dissatisfied manner. He was indeed a bit happy; it was not a lie. But he wondered if it was a bit crass to use it as a joke.
Dia let out a throaty laugh.
“You get along so well. I’m jealous.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“Well, that was all I know to answer. Are you satisfied?”
“It’s very kind of you to share some of your knowledge of the Elders with me in a chat.”
Loren answered jokingly, but if what Dia said was the truth, the information she gave them was so good that he felt he had to thank her properly. Whether or not it could be used, the fact remained that an Elder who had lived for several hundred years had given him this knowledge without any compensation. However, if he acted too grateful, he had no idea what Nim would think of him, so he had to pass it off as a conversation topic.
“Don’t worry about it. Instead, I’d like you to… tell me something in return.”
Nim was visibly alarmed when she heard that the Elder wanted to ask something, but on the contrary, Loren calmly nodded. In a transaction, it would be very unfair if they only receive information without offering the other party anything.
In addition, it was not that he did not know Dia; if it was something that came up as one of the topics of conversation during a chat, there would be no need to be so cautious.
“Oh, it’s nothing big. So, you’ve been in the neighborhood, and decided to pay me a visit. Can you tell me a little about why you’re in the neighborhood?”
Dia asked with an innocent smile that seemed to indicate that she was just curious, and Loren, thinking that it was nothing to keep secret, began to tell her the story so far, as well as the purpose of visiting the place they were heading for.