With a sudden hum, Nozama's path was cut off by an incredible power.
The air in front of him had been violently distorted. It now resembled an ocean's turbulent surface during a storm.
Countless tiny points of golden light swam in front of Nozama almost rhythmically. Every time Nozama tried to move forward, these points of light would come together, pushing him back. When he was forced to take a step back, these points of light would scatter, slackening their resistance against him.
Hrrgh... Can't get through. Nozama took a step back. He then began observing the golden points of light swimming before him so intently that he was completely oblivious to the passage of time itself.
An hour had passed. Without warning, Nozama's body gleamed with a black light. Then, he propelled himself forward towards the left.
Strangely enough, the light points before him did not seem to notice Nozama's sudden movement. They continued swirling about in the turbulent sheet of air without making any attempt to stop his advance.
When he was approximately 100 feet inside the distorted space, the golden light points seemed to have sensed his presence. They quickly converged towards him, ready to drive him out once more.
In an instant, Nozama stopped in his tracks.
Curiously enough, as soon as he stopped moving, all the golden light points immediately slackened, before returning to their dispersed state. It was as if they had just lost their target and saw no point in assuming an offensive position.
Nozama patiently waited there. Minutes passed. Half an hour later, he resumed his advance through the distorted space.
This time, he came to a stop once more after having sprinted more than 150 feet forward.
After three days of stopping and then moving forward, the fog before him dissipated, revealing a continuously revolving silhouette in his path.
"The Gates of the True Self?" Nozama smiled faintly. His eyes gleamed with a black sheen that seemed to echo an endless night sky. From a close enough distance, one would be under the impression that they were staring into a pair of bottomless pits, threatening to suck out the souls of anyone foolish enough to stare into them.
"God of Light, my heart is filled with nothing but darkness. I will extinguish every bit of light in every realm. You should know this by now. The Gates of the True Self will not have any effect whatsoever on me."
Saying this, Nozama walked through the Gates without any hesitation. He could feel the distortion of the silhouette around him. Three seconds later, the silhouette vanished. Before him appeared a temple that rose majestically into the heavens.
The black radiance around Nozama's body thickened the moment he laid eyes on the temple. It was now roiling across the surface of his body, flailing about like black tentacles.
"Stay where you are, demon!" A clear voice rang out. There was a hint of anger in it. It was Romeon.
Romeon came hurtling towards Nozama with such speed that his radiant body had transformed into a lightning bolt in mid-flight.
"Insect!" Nozama slowly floated towards the Temple of Light, not at all perturbed by Romeon's appearance. One of his black tentacles lashed out towards Romeon like a cobra.
The black tentacle easily ensnared Romeon, before tightening around his body and holding him high in the air. Without warning, the tentacle's tip drove itself into one of Romeon's nostrils.
Arrrghhh!!! Romeon let out a scream. His face contorted with anguish. Blue veins appeared on his body like earthworms wriggling out from the ground.
Five seconds later, the tentacle let go of Romeon. His appearance had changed drastically. With his horribly distorted features, bloodshot eyes and rotting skin, Romeon now resembled a corpse that had been brought back to life.
His unicorn had undergone a horrible transformation as well. Its eyes were now casting a black glow, while green flames burned beneath its hooves. Its pure white mane had turned horribly black, and there was a tar-like fluid leaking out continuously from the corner of its mouth.
"Master." Romeon stood aside, letting Nozama pass.
Not even bothering to inspect his work, Nozama quickly flew into the Creator's temple. It was not long before he finally found the Stone of Creation.
Nozama stopped his advance when he saw the stone. The black energy was now churning fiercely about his body. From afar, he would have looked like a huge black sphere.
"200,000 years, God of Light, I've been looking for you for 200,000 years, and now I've finally found you... Did you miss me, old friend?"
Countless black tentacles were now flailing about Nozama's body, coiling about every pillar and statue in the temple, corroding everything in their embrace.
Boom! The sound of stone breaking echoed in the temple. The entire building was collapsing rapidly around Nozama.
Hum. Out of thin air, a figure appeared in the collapsing temple. It was a Magician whose hair was just as white as the full-length robe he was clad in. As soon as he appeared, multiple runes appeared in the air within a 100-foot radius around him.
The runes immediately formed a barrier of golden light around the Magician. Any tentacle coming at him simply melted away upon coming into contact with the barrier.
Nozama seemed pleased to see the Magician appear before him. "So you're still alive, High Magus Taric."
In ancient times, "High Magus" was the highest title a Magician could ever hope to attain. High Magus Taric had stood at the pinnacle of the world in his prime. As everyone back then knew who he was, so too did Nozama.
Taric shook his head. "I never would have guessed that that roguish disciple of mine would end up becoming one of the most terrifying demons to ever exist in the Sea of Void."
He too knew who Nozama was. Nozama had gained quite a reputation back then, though mostly for all the wrong reasons.
Nozama smirked. "Yes, it would seem that time has changed both of us. I'm here to extinguish the light. I suppose you're here to stop me?"
"Of course," said Taric softly. With a hum, the barrier of light expanded tenfold around him, melting away more of Nozama's black tentacles.
"You're no match for me, Taric," said Nozama, shaking his head. He then extended a hand. He was holding a black piece of stone in it. The stone's surface was smooth, evidence that he had been playing with it for quite some time.
Taric was stunned when he saw the stone in Nozama's hand. "The Stone of Darkness... You're not Nozama, you're his puppet!"
"Puppet? Well, that good-for-nothing disciple turned out to be quite useful after all. As an empty husk for me to inhabit, that is."
Ignoring High Magus Taric, Nozama gazed up at the Stone of Creation, which was still floating in the air. He shouted, "God of Light, I have returned. Why don't you show yourself?"
As soon as he said those words, a beam of light streaked down from the Stone of Creation, before coalescing into a 200-foot wide sphere of light in front of Taric.
A clear, resounding voice spoke out, "You shouldn't have come back, the darkness in my... soul."
Nozama let out a crazed laugh. "What's the matter? Am I not welcomed here? Don't tell me you've forgotten who you really are, after being worshipped as the God of Light for 200,000 years? Or were those times we spent consuming one realm after another just too horrible to think about?"
The black tentacles around his body were now winding around the ball of light. What happened later came as a shock to Taric.
The God of Light did not even struggle against the tentacles as they began coiling around him.
"My lord, why?" exclaimed Taric.
"I can't stop him. Be it light or darkness, he is still a part of me. Taric, I may have lied to you. Back then, the Firuman realm had been too powerful. There was an accident when I broke through. I was injured. You didn't really bring me back to life. I simply let you exercise the darkness in me.
Taric was stunned. He could feel everything he had ever believed in crumbling away. "What? So everything you've ever told me has been a lie?"
"Not everything. Some of them have come from the light side of my personality."
The dark energy continued flowing into the God of Light's body, which was now growing dimmer and gradually radiating a purple glow. Taric was now panicking. "If light and darkness are polar opposites of each other, why is someone as radiant as you just letting yourself be consumed by darkness?"
As a High Magus, Taric sensed that this union of both light and darkness would bring forth an abomination unlike anything anyone had ever seen in the Sea of Void.
"Light and darkness have always been two sides of the same coin, mortal. My real name is the Ruler of Light and Darkness. The union of light and darkness is my true nature, and they obey my every command."
Taric was now on the brink of despair. "If you're that powerful, why would you still want to destroy the realms?"
"Destroy? No, I consume realms. Let me ask you something, Taric. Let's say you're eating an apple right now. Would you even stop to consider the feelings of the worms living inside it when you're munching down on them? This has nothing to do with good or evil. It's just survival of the fittest, plain and simple."
A shiver ran down Taric's spine. All that he could feel now was utter despair. "Then why would you still bother replying to a question from a worm like myself?"
At that moment, Nozama had vanished completely. The ball of light that had been the God of Light had turned purple. From it, a genderless voice laughed out. "Well, you've been quite the obedient little pet to me for a long time. Of course, you deserve some special treatment from me. Compared to other mortals, you hold a special place in my heart."
"What are you going to do now?" said Taric. His voice rang hollow with despair.
"Now? I'm a bit hungry now. It's been 10,000 since I've eaten anything. I see this apple called Fedaro has already ripened enough. It's looking mighty tasty now."
"No!!! I won't let you!" The aura around Taric converged into a single beam of light, which then pierced through the purple ball of light like a sword.
With a bang, glass-like fragments sprayed out from the purple ball of light. However, Taric was now nowhere to be seen. He had been completely disintegrated into a wisp of smoke.
"Poor Taric, he would rather bite a chunk out of me at the cost of his own life rather than stay on just a bit longer as my pet... That's one way to excite someone's appetite."
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