Chapter 915 Another “Me”
Without waiting for Klein’s reply, Azik, who was staring intently deep into the mausoleum, continued, “I still remember my resurrection after my first death. I was lying in a pale-white coffin, and I staggered to my feet. I was feeling horrified, having no idea what was happening. Nor did I know where I was.
“Before the clergymen collected my corpse for purification, I escaped, stumbling along the way like a wandering ghost. I crossed grasslands, villagers, and cities. I couldn’t recall who I was or where I came from.
“No matter where I went back then, I would hear all kinds of sobbing. When I watched priests presiding over mass burials, I felt sorrow in every corner.
“Later, I happened to rescue a noble lady and entered her manor. She was a bright and lively girl, and I was like a feral beast from the jungle. I was sensitive, suspicious, self-abased, afraid; and I often showed a cold, indifferent, cruel side that didn’t match the morality of a human.
“She was very curious about me. No matter how I avoided her or what terrible things I did, she would approach me, infecting me with her smile. She would use interesting matters to influence me, and without realizing it, I got used to her pranks and her existence.
“We secretly got together. She was very worried that her father wouldn’t agree to her marriage to a former tramp and present servant.
“Seeing her melancholic smile, I had the feeling of blood gushing through me for the first time. I rashly told her that I was leaving, but I would return with an aristocratic title and a bridal garland.
“I joined the army, becoming a knight. I raised a three-meter lance and charged at enemies. Thanks to the chaos of the Fourth Epoch’s wake in the Northern Continent, I became a baron and obtained a fief I could call my own.
“I abided by my promise, and with the king’s conferment letter, family emblem, a knight’s medal ribbon, and my self-made garland, I married my bride.”
Upon saying this, Azik’s expression gradually turned gentle. as though he was reminiscing and recalling something. The corners of his mouth curled up without him realizing it.
Klein’s heart stirred from hearing this, as though he had met the familiar Mr. Azik again.
“What happened next?” He carefully guided the conversation.
Azik looked ahead and said, “Later… later, we built a castle on our fief. We had children, a boy. He grew up very quickly, and I could tell that he would grow up to be tall and stout.
“He enjoyed combat, often running around while dragging a broadsword, claiming that he wanted to become a knight
“I thought it was just child’s talk that wouldn’t last. However, even if he broke his leg or hurt his head, he didn’t abandon his training. He thought that I wouldn’t be able to see him if he hid in his room grimacing while tending to his wound. Heh heh, he underestimated his father. All the spirits in the fief were secretly under my service.
“Year after year passed. I recovered more and more of my memories. My wife often grumbled that the castle was too cold and dark and that she wished to go somewhere with sunlight and warmth. I satisfied her request, but it was only much later that I realized that it wasn’t because she disliked staying in the castle, but that she was afraid of the changes happening to me. She was afraid of the colder me who was becoming a stranger.
“She never told me these things, spending time with me like she always did. We spent a beautiful time by the seaside in the south, and we even thought of having a second child, but unfortunately, we didn’t succeed.
“It was only when I sensed that my next death was approaching did I return to the fief, to my castle.
“My son, that boy told me that he wished to head to Backlund to become an attendant to viscounts or earls and begin his journey as a knight.
“I asked him why he had made such a choice when he was only around ten. He told me that I was his idol and role model. He wished to become a noble by being a knight like me without the help of his parents.
“Back then, I had already recovered most of my memories. Faced with that child, I always felt a little awkward, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable. But when I heard his answer, I still felt an indescribable joy, satisfaction, and pride. He was my son, completely different from the children I had back when I was in the Balam Empire.”
Klein knew that Mr. Azik was talking about his identity as Baron Lamud I. And the child who made him proud and satisfied had been poisoned to death in his middle-age or advanced years. He was nailed in a coffin and even had his skull taken away by Ince Zangwill.
Azik’s gaze went adrift for a moment.
“I died once again and woke up in a groggy manner. I instinctively left my fief and followed my prior arrangements to wander elsewhere. Every incarnation, I had a different life in the beginning. At times, I met with the sweetest love; at other times I received the most adorable daughter. The love, helplessness, and satisfaction left me taken aback, puzzled, and stumped again and again as I gradually recovered my memories.
“There was once a time where I was a filial son. I gave my parents pride, a beautiful life, adorable grandsons and granddaughters. But when I ‘awoke’ and found myself, I recalled that in my previous incarnation, I had coldly watched their real son die in the battlefield and had seized his identity. On the one hand, I felt pain and guilt, and on the other hand, I felt it was nothing, something trivial. My inner heart seemed to dissociate into two.
“Back then, I had a mask that allowed me to change into anyone, but I lost it after awakening. This might have been something I deliberately lost…”
Klein recalled Mr. Azik’s mention of a daughter who liked getting sweets from him. After some deliberation, he asked, “I believe that it isn’t a dissociation, but that you are fighting against madness.
“After losing your past memories, you, who restart your life, are always kind and warm, with rich emotions. At your present state, you probably recognize it even clearer.
“This might very well be the true you, your essence. And as a Death Consul, you suffer the effects of the Beyonder characteristic’s latent inclination towards losing control. You suffer the influence brought about by a high-level Death pathway Beyonder. I heard that ‘He’ had already gone mad after the War of the Four Emperors.”
Klein’s words weren’t without much evidence, because he only knew a few of Azik’s incarnationsBaron Lamud, the father who made a swing for his daughter, the filial child, and the warm and friendly history teacher.
His goal was to provide a guess, a possibility to help Mr. Azik resist the Death Consul personality that came with his memories. It allowed him to introspect his past incarnations and use this to achieve a particular compromise with himself that wouldn’t be too cold.
And as he spoke, he suddenly had a new idea. Without waiting for Azik to finish digesting what he had said, he hurriedly asked, “Mr. Azik, do you know about an ‘anchor’? To secure ‘Themselves’, the deities and angels use anchors to prevent the Beyonder characteristic’s inclination towards losing control and stop madness from corrupting ‘Them’.”
“Yes.” Azik retracted his gaze and nodded.
Klein wasn’t too sure, but he used a rather firm tone and said, “Perhaps, your repeated memory loss to restart and live a new life is the anchor you use to resist madness and the loss of control!”
Do not abandon them. Do not forget them. That is you! After saying that, Klein added inwardly.
“Anchor…” Azik repeated this word as his mind seemed lost.
After an unknown period of time, he suddenly sighed.
“This might be an explanation. At least, it lessens the intensity of my mental dissociation and conflicts.
“However, since I’ve already come this far, I should still head inside the mausoleum to see what’s hiding there. Why is it summoning me, and what is causing me to die and revive again and again, losing my memories during the process only to find them again…
“This has troubled me for more than a thousand years. It has troubled my every incarnation. I believe I can receive an answer today.”
The look in his eyes turned clearer as his voice seemed gentle, but there was an indescribable firmness in it.
Klein wanted to stop him, but moments after he opened his mouth, he closed it again.
Azik pressed down on his half top hat. Without turning his head, he said with a gentle smile, “Remember to close your eyes.”
With that said, he walked forward, following the flights of stairs as he headed for the deep depths of the mausoleum.
The wafting black fog didn’t produce any more panting sounds. It slowly scattered into its surroundings, accentuating the illusory object that was coiled at the bottom.
It was a massive feathered serpent that seemed to occupy an entire island!
It had huge, dark green-nearly black-scales. Amidst the gaps were feathers covered in yellow oily stains. On every feather, there were thin illusory black tubes extending outwards.
The exaggerated feathered serpent was both illusory and real, its actual form was hardly describable. It seemed to be a combination of things incomprehensible to humans.
Its eye sockets were burning with pale-white flames; its face was that of a human’s!
The face had bronze skin, and it had soft facial features. Beneath its right ear was a tiny black mole. It was another Azik Eggers!