Chapter 15:

14. could you please shut the f*ck up for a goddamn moment? I’m trying to enjoy my peace

Lost souls: Road to Godhood

Upon regaining consciousness, Luz felt a sharp pain in his head as his blurry visions slowly got clearer. The peaceful and rhythmic sound of the machinery working in the background calmed his mind. But unfortunally, he couldn't enjoy the silence for too long as Jodoc, who was tiredly looking at some charts, immediately screeched like a demon straight from hell upon seeing a change.

The loud demonic screeches coming from the eagle merely made his headache worse, and Luz lamented bitterly: "Why can't I have a moment of peace!?"

Unfortunally, the screeching didn't stop, and Luz cursed as quietly as possible: "Jodoc, could you please shut the fuck up for a goddamn moment? I'm trying to enjoy my peace."

Only after Simon shouted from a floor below: "I'm on my way Jodoc," did Jodoc turn quiet. The mage hastily ran towards Luz and released the straps that forced Luz to sit tightly on his chair.

The straps were tightened to the point that they almost cut into Luz's skin.
Relieved, Luz groaned: "Finally, I can move my arms again."

As he stretched his arms, his gaze remained on the red markings left by the straps before turning his attention toward the Master mage. What he saw immediately picked his interest, even though he couldn't understand it.

Master Simon opened a few colorful graphs and a few 3d images depicting Luz's condition.

"Yo, Master Simon, what do those images represent? I don't understand them," asked Luz while scratching the back of his head.

The more he looked at them, the stronger his headache got. The pieces of information those charts contained were beyond his comprehension.

With a smile, the master commented: "Well, that thing there is your mana core," while pointing with his finger to the 3d image.
He followed it up with a few comments: "To be honest, you royally fucked up, to the point where a full recovery is highly unlike, if not impossible. However, we still have a few ideas on how we could help you."

As he explained the situation to Luz, he pointed at several graphs, leaving a few comments here and there. Most charts showed the difference between a healthy mana core and his.

The differences and repercussions awaiting him made Luz's face ashen white.

"To sum it up, your mana absorption rate will drop sharply. But that isn't all. Retaining mana will also become increasingly difficult over time. If you are unlucky, it comes to the point where your mana desorption rate becomes greater than your mana absorption rate. At that point, there is no difference between you and an unawakened person," Simon explained while pointing at the zoomed-in cracks on his mana core, depicted on a hologram.

Luz already expected the worst and gulped at the sight of these cracks. His ashen face slowly turned into desperation. Thousands of questions shot through his head at that moment as he lamented his situation.

'How should he continue moving forward? How was he supposed to find his sibling if he wasn't even a mage? What about his revenge? Should he give up and live with his regrets as a farmer while grieving over the fate of his family?'

Simon merely shook his head in pity after seeing Luz's desperate face.

"But it could end up much worse, as further usage of mana could cause it to break due to overexertion. At that point, your death is guaranteed," stated Simon with a sigh before letting himself fall into his chair.

In desperation, Luz gripped his armrest tightly before asking in frustration with gritted teeth: "Master Simon… What option do I even have!?"

'I have lost almost everything I had except magic. That's the only thing that sets me apart from the rest... and if... and if I lose that one as well, I'll never be able to find my siblings. It would even be hard to move out of this place. Without magic, I am nothing more than a talentless man...'

Luz's expression worsened, and Jodoc smiled at the sight of it.

Telepathically, Jodoc told Simon, "You see. His look reveals everything. He's willing to sacrifice everything he has just to save his talent. The young ones are naive, but so would we be if we were in his shoes."

Simon sighed out of pity before presenting the two possible and available options.

"Option 1, you won't use any mana from today onwards, and we will try to rehab your mana core slowly. This is the safest method, but your mage career would be as good as over," Simon explained.

Seeing how the latter didn't look content with the first option, he hastily added: "But, your life would be guaranteed."

However, Luz shook his head before asking: "What about the other option?"

Simon continued, with a forced smile: "Option 2 would be to force a symbiosis with a parasite-like organism, which has high regeneration abilities. Your body will regularly fight with it for control of your body. But this organism would also be forced to heal you. Otherwise, it would die with you."

Neither of these options seemed to appeal to Luz, and he asked quietly: "So either I give up my dreams and rot for the rest of my life. Or I take the second option and end up losing my bodily autonomy. What's the difference between that and dying if a parasite ends up controlling my body?"

Simon left Luz's question unanswered for a few minutes before sighing loudly. "I would advise you to pick the first option. As for the second option, some mages have formed a symbiotic relationship with a living being like a parasite, so it is possible.

The problem is that I have never been able to reproduce these results, let alone force a symbiosis. The secrets behind how they managed it, as well as long-term studies and drawbacks, are kept top secret."

Luz stopped listening halfway through the latter's explanation, as the words the latter was spouting began hurting his head. But even if he listened to Simon, it wouldn't change anything as he had made up his mind by now.

Irritated by Luz's behavior, Simon sighed: "Are you even listening? You know… It would be quite irresponsible for me to experiment on you. Especially if you don't even know about the risks involved."

After shaking his head, Luz merely remarked with an ashen face: "Master Simon… The problem is I don't want to give up my dreams… If I were to give them up for being able to continue living… I would be rotting away, lamenting about the choice I didn't take."

"Luz… life isn't fair. I bet that you could easily get over it and live a happy life," commented Simon in hesitation.

A painful chuckle left Luz's mouth, and he asked: "Master Simon… do I have any other choice if I want to reunite with my siblings that ended up in god know nowhere? But my ambitions are greater than that. I also want to take revenge on the dragon for all the misery it left behind. Tell me, is that possible with the first option?"

With every word he uttered, his voice grew louder while the searing furry he had been suppressing till now slowly surfaced.

Simon's face showed mixed emotions as he didn't know how to handle a young man who was about to be crippled for life. Emotional outrage is normal in such a state, and Simon would have acted like that too if he were in the young one's position.

Sighing, he stated: "Luz… I can forgive you for the disrespect you are currently showing towards me, as I understand how you feel. But a mage in my position might even kill you for the disrespect, so please calm down."

After half an hour of back and forth, Simon finally accepted that Luz had made up his mind and wouldn't budge no matter what method he tried.

Sighing, Simon led Luz to a large murky water tank before asking Luz: "are you sure about it?"

The latter nodded, and Simon hit him unconscious with a single palm strike.

"Let's pray that we'll succeed with him," Jodoc screeched as his partner attached several tubes onto Luz.

These tubs would regularly pump nutrients, mana, anesthetics, and even oxygen into his body. But that wasn't everything that got attached to Luz's body. Several measuring devices that record the values of pulse, blood sugar, mana, and nutrient levels every second were also attached to Luz's body.

After everything was linked, Luz's lifeless body was dropped into the tank, and the murky water in the tank became clearer in mere seconds. Unfortunally for Luz, the first measurement data the bird master duo got after a few minutes looked grim, but that was just the beginning.

The longer it lasted, the more and more all of the measurements, which were recorded, were plummeting. It would not take much longer before critical levels would be reached.

"Maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all," screeched Jodoc.
"Let's pray that it was a good idea," Simon whispered back.

Seriko Lee