As Kyle opened his eyes he almost lost consciousness again due to the wave of nausea that attacked him, he endured it and blinked the blurriness out of his eyes. The ground was frozen cold ice filled with flake like fractures giving it a delicate design, he almost lost himself in its shimmer before looking up. The room he lay in was vast with similar design to the ground, it was defined by something cold.
Pillars of cold air breezed upwards surrounded by an almost invisible layer of ice, apparently holding the ceiling up. The ceiling itself was the same as the ground, ice fractured in perfect flakes with a second layer of crystal clear ice beneath it. The walls were dense white ice as if glaciers pushed up to the room from each side and depicted on them was a forest of snow, trees, grass and animals alike were carved and drawn into the walls.
Kyle stared gaping at the room as a constant cool breeze blew through him, it did not come from any specific direction and seemed to simply flow freely around the room.
"Welcome to the spirit realm." A voice from behind him calmly exclaimed, Kyle recognised it as the deep cold voice from earlier.
He stood up and quickly turned around, he took a step back as he took in the scene. At that one end of the room lay a large throne of crystal clear ice, the design of snowflakes was carved into the ice deep enough to make the light shimmer through giving it the illusion of a gradient rainbow glow.
Sitting above the throne and gazing down at Kyle was nothing of the Winter God that he had expected. Wearing a blue business suit with the design of white snowflakes covering the jacket, shimmering white shoes and a tall white top hat, Ymir sat above his throne.
"Come closer." The God asked him, Kyle gulped and slowly walked towards the throne as he glimpsed at the God's appearance. Ymir had light blue skin with a tattoo-like pattern of fractured ice all over, his short hair began as dark blue fell into light blue then ended at the tips in clear white. The only similarity with the evil Jotun God that Kyle read stories about was the sheer size of the being, if standing he'd surely reach 40 feet in height.
The 5 foot and 12 inches tall Kyle on the other hand was completely dwarfed as he approached the God, his eyes widening as he realised the sheer difference in size. He stopped a dozen or so meters from the throne else Ymir wouldn't be able to see him from his leaned back position.
With his hands clasped together in front of him Ymir studied the little mortal as Kyle tried to form words but couldn't think of what to ask or say. This wasn't even close to being on par with a Devil, this was an actual God with a top hat staring down at him.
In the end Ymir broke the ice first "It is comprehensible that you are out of speech child but truly you could at least say something!" the god chuckled making the whole hall rumble. Ymir grinned as he leaned forward to get a closer look at Kyle revealing rows of dark blue fangs "You must have many questions but alas I shall explain all this first, it may also clear some of them on the way."
Ymir waved his right hand to his side and a blizzard of snow formed beside the throne, it raged and churned around itself briefly before dissipating. In the blizzard's place lay a birdcage of dark blue ice with runic symbols etched all over it. Inside the cage lay a black mass of smoke like substance that constantly flowed around it's available space but never able to move between the bars.
"You may…or may not actually…recognise this as either your worst nightmare and or your lifetime trickster." Ymir began to explain "This particular being has been using it's ascendency connection to turn your entire life into a living nightmare, it's purpose? Making you lose control and turning yourself into the same species it currently is, a Nogitsune. Once that was accomplished it could use the same connection to take over your body as it almost did."
"And you…stopped it?" Kyle managed to break out of his daze and ask "Why now? Why didn't you do so earlier?"
Ymir raised his left hand towards Kyle "Calm down young Yako, I shall explain in full. It is also the same reason we cannot act in the physical realms. We may be Gods but we also have laws, laws that are far from set in stone but more so carved into reality itself. We simply cannot act as freely as we once could. I was only able to stop this little shit by abusing of a similar connection and bypassing said laws, the connection between me and my chosen.
This could only be done when the Nogitsune was already flowing into you else I would have simply been freezing you alive. I was particularly annoyed at it for disrupting my connection to you, disabling me from communicating with you. So instead of outright destroying it, it shall now join me in my eternal cage within it's very own miniature one." Ymir solemnly gestured at the hall before pointing at the cage in amusement.
He then suddenly clapped his hands back together "Also, normally these meetings are left behind as memories in a chosen's subconscious but as I am still abusing of this one's connection to you along with my own you shall remember it in full. So pay attention closely to what I am about to say. The Grand Quest is indeed an artefact in itself of which we use to call upon heroes such as yourself to make our chosen, usually through one of our followers as we cannot directly interact with the artefact itself.
This time however is different. The previous hero of shadows and the demi-bitch have found a way to bypass the laws of reality. They found a way for a being with Deity blood in them to interact with the artefact. You see when a grand quest is completed through either success or failure the summoned heroes are asked whether they wish to stay or leave Chaoz. The hero Scythe chose to leave and return home, this opens a portal for them to walk through." Ymir raised both hands wide open in front of himself and began forming statues of ice depicting the incident as he explained.
"Scythe entered the portal but used Lilliana's power to lock himself in the middle of the two realms, inside the veil. He had also taken the artefact with him. You see within the veil time exists but not as a constant flow, instead it is a timeline that one can process through as they wish be it back or forth. Scythe knew this well as he gained this knowledge from the Devil kings who through the use of the veil were summoned onto Chaoz by Lilliana.
He used the veil to move ahead in time till a couple days ago, contacted Lilliana through the veil as he retained the connection with both Chaoz and your realm. From there Lilliana had planned to enter the veil herself once the prerequisites were done, the artefact has a cooldown time of four decades after all." Ymir smirked as if remembering something amusing about that specific "But it seems Lilliana underestimated the human turned beastman.
Scythe let her grab hold of the artefact but never let go himself, with the touch of a God the artefact would activate but it required the touch of a mortal to actually use. They began using the artefact to call in heroes for Lilliana's quest, heroes she personally met with herself within the veil as she created the bodies for them. We are still unsure how he did it but Scythe managed to connect others to the heroes' soul frequency in turn overloading Lilliana's mind, this caused her to lose consciousness.
Scythe did not need Lilliana any longer and kicked her out of the veil, quite literally I might add. He continued to use the artefact as it was still active, he summoned each and every one connected to the heroes and themselves onto Chaoz. He then moved onto the second phase of the Grand Quest's boot up, to add something to Chaoz's system that would improve the heroes' chances of victory but could also be used by others to do the same. And so the respawn stones were created, leaving him to move to the third phase…but he never did.
He never finished the third phase of the Grand Quest's boot up, the phase where he chooses the direction of the quest, the target, the damn point of it all. He simply left it active as it still is and hid it away within your realm denying anybody from retrieving it. He did this not only to stop our followers from taking it back but also to deny the artefact from activating it's failsafe. Within your manless realm even this powerful object is nothing more than a piece of art. We also have no clue as to why he even did this in the first place…" He gave a deep sigh "And here comes the point of me even explaining all this to you. We need you to end this quest one way or another."
"Me? The hell can I do about it? I'm stuck in Chaoz! Hell if I'm ever leaving too!" Kyle immediately answered fearing he'd be sent back 'home', he then immediately regretted even speaking as Ymir's cold glare fell upon him.
Ymir first snorted then proceeded into a booming laugh that reverberated the room itself "Indeed little one! Who would ever wish to live in that bore of world of yours! I never understood the point of it but alas nobody is one and the same."
"So…you're not sending me back?" asked a confused Kyle as he tried to stay standing from the earthquake that followed Ymir's laugh.
"Someone has to, else the quest will never end and those that find themselves and feel like they are actually trapped in Chaoz will remain so forever. Then there is the problem of Lilliana's Devils, those beings are highly capable of bending the veil and can easily access your realm albeit they become powerless once they enter. Their demons are already there and numbering in the many, they are searching for the artefact as we speak." Ymir explained solemnly "That artefact is the sole reason the Devils follow Lilliana, because they need her to jumpstart the slumbering artefact and their ideals for the quest's target aligns with the other's."
"Take over Chaoz?" Kyle gave his guess from what he knew.
Sadly Ymir shook his head "When one activates the Artefact of the Grand Quest they receive a prophecy of major events that are to happen. These prophecies were worded by the Avatar itself, a being capable of glimpsing into any and every possible reality in existence as it created existence itself. These prophesized events will happen one way or another, worse can happen if they are tempered with. There are two events that always happen with the Grand Quest, two prophecies that cannot be stopped."
Ymir had Kyle's utmost attention now no matter how short that span was "The first; A Hero shall fall to evil, A Hero shall betray their own. Then the second; A Dark Hero shall be either the undoing of this world or it's saviour."
"Dark…Hero?" Kyle unconsciously gulped down more spit.
"That Dark Hero is you young Yako. Our interpretation of it this time around is that you are the one that shall find the artefact, you are the only one that can. You must find it and activate the third phase, give the quest a purpose. That will break apart the Devils' allegiance to Lilliana, they will retreat back to their domains stopping the coming war."
"I don't understand, why does giving the quest a worded purpose make any difference at all? What is the purpose Lilliana and the Devil kings wish to give it?" Kyle shook his head not comprehending the point of it while also not wanting to leave Chaoz.
"Power, that is why." Ymir first stated plainly before continuing to fully explain "Activating the third phase will give the Deity that began the Quest great power once the quest is complete. The last Deity to have achieved this was Gaia the Goddess of nature, she later sent her twigs into a power imbued frenzy.
The Elves invaded the Human and Halfbeast kingdoms kicking them both out and eradicating most of their species. The reason no Deity possesses this power currently is because the previous Grand Quest failed and said God lost their power, this was Oberon and the reason Lilliana was able to banish him into one of the Voids. As for the target they wish to give it…we do not know that either."
"How…powerful are we talking about?" Kyle started picturing level 400+ Devils in his head.
"Very close to what you are currently imagining." replied Ymir.
Kyle visibly paled "You can…"
"I'm a God, yes I can peer into your mind. Honestly I could have simply showed you all of these events but alas being trapped here for millennia made me crave a good conversation." Ymir explained further "Although now I will have plenty!" he then exclaimed gesturing at the cage.
"RELEASE ME" The being inside the cage insisted.
"Shut yer trap" Replied Ymir as he gave the cage a good smack making it shudder violently.
"DON-OH…OH I JUST PUKED…" said the voice as a smaller white mass of smoke joined the much larger black.
Kyle's expression twitched between amusement and disgust as he looked away from it "Alright so…What if I don't want to leave Chaoz?..."
Ymir shrugged "You will be returning to Chaoz after retrieving the artefact, it's the only way to activate it anyway. After that you may simply choose to stay."
Kyle briefly thought it over, then suddenly a thought came to him "Wait…if my home realm is manless then how was I able to use my flame? I thought that's the whole reason magical beings like me were sent there?"
"The realm may be manless but other resources exist, similar to how adrenalin can cause supernatural events there are others. As a Yako you revel in emotions. Unlike a Kitsune who revel in positive ones you revel in negative ones, through those emotions you gain Astral mana. Once mana is inside the body it has to be drained to be removed, simply the surroundings being void of mana won't do so.
Astral mana isn't created the same as base mana which is through the absorption of ambient mana nor is it created inside the body like physical variants similar to stamina. Astral mana is given directly through your soul which exists on a different plane of existence than your physical body, here in the spirit realm." Ymir gestured at their surroundings as ice began to form in front of Kyle "Where your true form is always revealed to everyone."
As the mirror of ice was formed facing Kyle he stared into it and noticed his current form for the first time. He looked similar to what he did back home, pale skin, short messy brown-black hair, almond brown eyes and a short unmanaged beard. The similarities ended there. Instead of human ears grew out two long white-blue fox ears like the ones his body on Chaoz had. Then from beneath his back where his single fox tail use to be now came out two. The left one pure white with frost covering it's fur while the right was crimson red with flickering flames sprinkled around it.
"You are probably the most fascinating hybrid I have ever laid my eyes upon" continued Ymir "Half Kitsune of fire and half Yako of frost. The Yako side of your family was dominant but the fire endured along. In element, you are a Yako of ice but in form the fire bloodline took over forming what I expertly called Frostfire. With the pin point control of frost and flexibility of fire, truly a magnificent power. Concentrate child and make this power yours again."
Kyle looked away from his reflection and up at Ymir, the giant was staring down at him expectantly. He looked down at his hands trying to remember the feeling, his senses spreading out from his body as the flames formed on his skin. Not just as energy being released but as an extension of his own consciousness, an extension of his own existence. He looked back into the mirror to see the white-blue flames covering his body similarly to an aura, it took the form of a bipedal two-tailed fox with snout and all.
He then watched as the blue flame engulfed his mismatched tails. The white one burned up and immediately caught fire gaining a tinge of blue while the red one seemed to refuse the opposite element, the blue fire forming around the red. Kyle took a deep breath and forced the flame into it, the red fire was expelled as the blue took it's place followed by the red tail turning the same as it's neighbour in colour.
Ymir nodded agreeing with the outcome "Splendidly done, your soul will take time to fully heal from the Nogitsune's attack and until then I suggest against traveling through the veil. Until such a time make use of that flame, learn to control it well as it will be your sole weapon against the demons within your realm. Once I have perceived your soul to have healed enough I shall inform you."
"Wait!" Kyle looked up at him "How do I even get home and back to Chaoz?"
Ymir palmed his face "Indeed! I almost forgot to explain!" he chuckled amused by his own blunder then he released his face "There are three ways to achieve so. The first is to manually break through the veil and navigate your way home, I would not suggest this method as even us Gods use to get lost for millennia inside the veil.
The second is similar to the first but you need a focus to help you navigate, a runic focus to be more precise. This focus will connect the break in the veil to it's corresponding position in the focused realm. This has it's own problems though as you might as well be launching yourself into open space without an accurate focus.
The third is your best solution. Using a physical focus to break open a portal similarly to what the Artefact of the Great Quest does. Alas I have little clue as to how this can be done, the Avatar didn't exactly leave a detailed guidebook of how the blasted thing works." He dejectedly sighed.
"I understand what you mean by runic focus, as in the same thing we used to open a portal from Frosthold to New Ruk correct?" Kyle asked as he processed this information.
Ymir nodded "Exactly, the veil is a flimsy thing but certain runic inscriptions connect to each other on the spiritual level bypassing the veil itself."
Kyle was deep in thought when a sudden idea came to him "So souls can pass straight through the veil? What happens if the soul has a body on the other side as well?"
Ymir frowned briefly as he thought that over "I see…yes that might just be how it works. The soul would theoretically guide itself back to the body, the question is if you can guide your soul out of your current body and into the veil before it latches back onto said body."
Kyle crossed his arms as he stared into the mirror "Is my body even still alive? I mean…it's without a soul…"
"Oh bodies do not simply crumble away even without a soul, your consciousness is a mixture of body and soul so the body you were born with is still very much alive and moving. Emotionless but alive." Ymir explained.
"Wait…what do you mean?" Kyle suddenly looked up at Ymir with wide eyes.
Ymir chuckled at his expression "Simply? You still exist as yourself but with no emotions such as remorse, happiness etc. which would also greatly affect your personality. Oh but do not worry your body is powerless without the soul."
Kyle sighed in relief, the last thing he wanted was to go back home and find himself in some military lock down or worse. "So can't you just send me through then?"
The god shook his head "No us Gods cannot interact with the physical anymore, at most I can connect your consciousness to the spirit realm as it is now but your soul remains connected to a body. You will have to find a different way to disconnect your soul from your current body, I believe you already have a way to break open the veil also."
A sudden series of knocking reverberated through the walls "I SAID NO VISITORS FROSTY SHIT!" a deep voice followed.
Ymir grimaced as he stood up "It seems your time here grows short little one." He stomped over to the wall behind his throne and bashed his right fist into the wall several times "BITE ME ONE-EYED FREAK!" he shouted back. He glanced back at Kyle and nodded, Kyle's vision then began to blur.
"DON'T MAKE COME IN THERE MESELF AND BEND THAT FROZEN ASS OVER MY LAP AGAIN!"
"COME ON IN BITCH! BRING THAT BOY OF YOURS TOO! OH WAIT! HE'S MY BOY!"
The Gods continued to bicker as Kyle blacked out.