Volume I : The Flood
Chapter 12 – Secret of the Gods – Part 1
When Nietzsche was young, he was a miner of Duc, just like Amon. That was more than a hundred years ago. In that time, there was a war between Bablon, Assyr and Hittite. Chaos was everywhere. The ruler of the Syah state had changed several times, and the life in Duc was much harder. There were often times he lacked basic human necessities.
The poor land could only generate a small yield of barley and beans, barely enough to keep the inhabitants from starving. The grassland at the edge of the Charcoal Forest could only raise a few sheep. One day in the early spring, there was no more sheep left for food. Nietzsche could no longer stand the bland cereal, and so went hunting in the mountainous forest to the east of the town. A strong miner equipped with hunting skills was a great hunter. Nietzsche knew that the forest was dangerous, but he had been hunting in the peripheral area for years. He thought he could take the risk.
Nietzsche went far this time, really far. He smoked his prey, turning them into jerky and carried it with him. When he realized how far he had gone, he had already crossed the cavemen’s habitat and had approached the steep canyon of the Euphrate River. He lost his footing when he chased after a stag, and fell down the cliff. He was fortunate enough to be hooked by some vines and stopped falling after breaking many of them. He crawled to a hidden hollow in the cliff to take shelter from the rain. There he found the body of a mage who had died not long before, and obtained his belongings.
The mage had been using a magic item to fly away from his enemies in a chaotic fight. He had escaped from his pursuers, but died from the wounds he’d received in the chase. He was an advanced mage from the Marduc Shrine of Bablon, which then was at war with Hittite. He left his last words on the cliff in the wedge writing.
Unlike most miners in Duc, Nietzsche knew how to read and write. His grandfather was the clerk of Duc. Having violated a law of the then dynasty, Nietzsche’s grandfather was punished and lost his nobility. He spent his last few years teaching Nietzsche reading and writing.
The place Nietzsche found the mage was far from any inhabited region. The hollow was on a high cliff, facing the fast flowing Euphrate River. The mage was badly wounded, with no food and medicine. He had struggled in great pain to pray to his god, Marduc, in his last seven days, for his mercy and help. He eventually died in desperation.
In his last words, he said that he did not want to go back to the shrine. He asked the one who found his body to bury him where he died according to the traditions of his family, and bring his belongings to his wife and children. As a reward, he left on the wall all he knew about magic and how to learn it. From the primary stage to the advanced stage, and the key method to achieve the third stage that he had not yet practiced. He had also left a marked staff and several precious magic items.
This discovery changed Nietzsche’s life. He started to learn magic and was lucky enough to not to be badly hurt in the process. He had sufficient food in his backpack to stay and record all the content on the cliff for several days. In the end, he managed to clamber over the cliff along the vines, carrying the mage’s belongings.
The Ducians thought that Nietzsche had gotten lost and died somewhere in the forest. But Nietzsche returned to Duc ten years later. He claimed that he had been captured by the cavemen and been enslaved for ten years before he managed to escape.
In fact, Nietzsche had just finished a long journey to the Bablon City, capital of the Kingdom of Bablon.
He went to Bablon to return the mage’s belongings to his wife. At that point, he had become a third-level mage. Combined with a bit of caution, he was entirely capable of handling any situations on the way. In the outside world, Nietzsche started to realize how special the technique of Duc was. He had already had the strength and skill of a second-level warrior. It was more than luck that he had been able to survive the fall from the cliff.
However, when he tried to awaken the power according to what the mage had left, he received the power to communicate with the environment, the so-called divine magic power. So he chose to become a mage.
He found the wife of the mage in Bablon City. He noticed that the mage’s family had declined and was in trouble. The mage was a hereditary priest of the Marduc Shrine in Bablon City, but his only son was not old enough to inherit his title. Moreover, the widow had run into debt in recent years. The creditor, a nobleman in the city, asked the widow to be his wife so he could inherit the title of priest from her husband. It was common practice in war time.
Nietzsche’s visit solved her problem since the mage’s belongings were worth everything he had left to his wife and child, otherwise his disappearing would not have caused such a big trouble to his family.
The widow appreciated Nietzsche very much, and out of kindness, told him privately, “If you have learned magic according to my husband’s last instructions, then you are now a sorcerer. Please don’t show it to others till you become a supreme sorcerer. If you are lucky enough to reach that stage, then everything will change at that time.”
Then she urged Nietzsche to leave immediately in order to get away from the troubles surrounding her. But, despite his efforts, trouble still caught up with him. Nietzsche was hunted by the noble creditor for having spoiled his plan after he had left the city. Nietzsche killed the pursuer using magic, but he was worried that he was then exposed, so he snuck back to Duc.
Nietzsche lived a normal life as a miner for ten years in Duc. Then he left the town and started another long journey. The law that banned Ducians from leaving the town was nothing to him. He was already a seventh-level supreme sorcerer.
Nietzsche‘s second journey lasted about ten years, accumulating an unbelievable set of experiences. When he came back to Duc, he was an eighth-level sorcerer. The then mayor wanted to seek trouble with him, investigating him for having left the town without permission. The investigation turned up nothing, and Nietzsche had lived in the town since. Nobody cared to bother him. Everyone regarded him as a crazy old man that always uttered nonsense.
One could not practice magic and body arts to the same level at the same time. That was an oracle and law since ancient times. Nietzsche awakened the divine magic power after he had obtained the mage’s belongings and focused on magic learning. He had nearly achieved the highest level. But one problem had been tormenting him all along with his magic practice: He had been learning a skill similar to body arts even before he had started learning magic, and had achieved the equivalent level of a second-level warrior.
The blessing ceremony he had experienced in the shrine of Mourrin when he had turned sixteen, was some kind of power-awakening rite.
Nietzsche had known next to nothing about it at first, so he had abandoned the body arts and chosen magic, becoming a supreme sorcerer. He started to doubt that there might be something in it waiting for him to discover. But when he tried to pick up body arts again, he found it incredibly hard. He even lost his strength he once had as a second-level warrior in his youth. His strength was merely comparable to a first-level warrior.
It appeared to be normal. He was aged. It had been years since he had practiced any body arts. He had a mighty magic power but he was already lucky to keep a healthy and strong body. However, the failure frustrated him and made him more confused. This obsession had tormented him so much that he could never ascend to the ninth level.
Nietzsche started to frequently disappear from Duc and show up some time after. Even so, nobody cared about it anymore. Crazy’Ole travelled across the continent, looking for various anecdotes about famous supreme mages and great warriors. Details about their personal lives, rumors about their experience, records about how they learned and practiced the power, etc.. He was also very interested in the legends about the gods in the shrines.
Crazy’Ole started to form some guesses and questions. Some so-called gods were very similar to demigods in the legends. There seemed to be no significant difference between these gods and ninth-level mages or warriors. So, were they just demigods, or did they became true gods later? If the latter was true, then could mortal beings become eternal gods? And if so, how?
He doubted that magic and body arts could be learned at the same pace. More possibly, they were probably two parts of one path deliberately separated, such that they could not be practiced at the same pace. And the secret of the gods’ divinity might lie right in this subtlety which remained unknown to practitioners.
Crazy’Ole did not find out the answer. After he lived his one-hundredth year, he realized that he would no longer be able to confirm it in his own practice. So he pinned his hope on a successor. After a long search in many places, he found a gifted boy, a shepherd’s son, in a small village in Cape. The boy’s name was Bair.
Crazy’Ole taught him all he knew. He asked Bair to do one thing for him: to do his best to solve the puzzle that had tormented him for most of his life.
What happened after was already told. The last place Bair was found was near the cliff beside the Euphrate River, where Crazy’Ole had first discovered the mage. He might have been planning to look for Crazy’Ole in Duc but he couldn’t shake his numerous pursuers. Who knew what magic he had done on a cat to allow it to find its way out, cross the forests and mountains to reach Duc and bring Crazy’Ole a message.