For the next few days, Sunny's life became rather monotonous. He would meditate while circulating the shadow essence through the coils of the Soul Serpent to enhance the speed of its recovery, pour it into the obsidian arch… and repeat the process.
With each cycle, the runes surrounding the portal became brighter and brighter. The portal was slowly coming to life, feeling Sunny with hope so intense that he struggled to contain it. He had no doubt that he would be able to activate the arch.
And then… he would go to the Ivory Tower, find a way to descend back to the Chained Isles, somehow, and return to the real word.
And by a new refrigerator.
'And stock it with all kinds of food!'
Sitting on the stone floor of the highest level of the Ebony Tower, Sunny looked at the Covetous Coffer, which stood nearby, with a resentful expression. He knew full well that there was no meat left there, or any other kind of food.
Who knew he would miss the vile flesh of the Mordant Mimic one day?
'I guess one should never say never…'
Sunny was close to fully replenishing the shadow essence, so his thoughts began to wander.
Out of boredom, he dove into the Soul Sea, stared at the shadows for some time, then paced around, then summoned some of his Memories and read their descriptions for the hundredth time, then stared at the looming black suns of his Shadow Cores, then paced some more, the summoned a few other Memories.
'Boring… so boring…'
After a while, something finally attracted his attention.
The runes of Weaver's Mask... had apparently changed a little.
Before, there was a [???] in place of the name of its third enchantment. After Sunny had activated that enchantment… almost frying his brain in the process… the name changed, however.
He blinked a few times, then looked at the runes again.
'Did I... did I read it right?'
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But no, there was no mistake. The first two enchantments were just as before, [Mantle of Lies] and [Simple Trick]. The third one, however, now had new runes describing it...
Memory Enchantment: [Where is my eye?].
[Where is my eye?] Enchantment Description: "Helps the wielder peer into the tapestry of Fate."
Sunny looked at the runes with a deadpan expression for a few moments, and then laughed so hard that it threw him out of the Soul Sea.
"Oh… oh gods… where is my eye! Priceless!"
By the time he was done laughing at Weaver's strange naming sensibility, the cycle of restoring the shadow essence was complete.
Sunny shook his head, smiled, then stood up and summoned the Cruel Sight.
By now, the circle of runes was burning with a furious white radiance, turning the somber black hall into a stark tapestry of darkness and light. It seemed as if the air inside the arch was rippling slightly, hazy from heat.
He walked toward the obsidian arch and, without wasting any time, touched it with the tip of the silver spear. Once again, his soul essence was devoured at terrible speed.
This time, however, only half of it was consumed.
As bright light suddenly hit Sunny in the eyes, he took an involuntary step back and raised a hand to shield them. A cool breeze caressed his face, and he could suddenly smell... bark, grass, soil.
When his eyes adjusted to the brightness, Sunnyslowly lowered his hand and looked at the arch with a bewildered expression.
It was as though a rift in reality appeared inside the Ebony Tower.
All around the portal, the hall was just as it had been — dark, somber, cut from lusterless black stone.
…Inside the portal, however, was a clear blue sky. Sunlight had suddenly invaded the Ebony Tower after thousands of years spent in utter darkness, and brought with it the sounds of the wind and the rustling of leaves.
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Sunny could see the skies, but also the ground. A beautiful green meadow continued from where the obsidian floor ended, full of vibrancy and life. A shadow of a tall tree shaded the proximity of the portal, and there was a path of white stone leading from it toward…
Some distance away, a pristine white wall rose higher than Sunny could see through the portal. Surrounded but the blue skies, clouds, and vibrant green grass, it seemed to be the epitome of beauty and tranquility.
The whole sight was like a paradise.
'The… the Ivory Tower. Mordret was right!'
What's more, judging by how softly the grass swayed under the wind and how lazily the branches of the tree moved, the heavenly island was really… it was really not affected by the Crushing.
In that regard, at least, it was safe.
Suddenly tense, Sunny quickly glanced at the circle of runes. Just as he had expected, it was already growing dimmer. The portal was burning through the meager amount of divine flame Sunny had been able to charge it within these past days, and was going to close soon.
Well… it was not as though he had not been prepared to go through the arch as soon as it opened. He had done everything he wanted to do in the Ebony Tower, given the circumstances. There was not much to be done here, to begin with. Time had destroyed every possible trophy he could have found, and the most valuable treasures — the Bone Weave and the knowledge of the map left behind by the Prince of the Underworld — were already in his possession.
Now, he just had to escape alive.
Dismissing all of his Memories, Sunny wrapped both shadows around his body… and dashed toward the light.
'Please, please don't be an illusion!'
He appeared near the portal, dove inside… and stumbled, falling to his knees.
His fingers touched the soft grass, and, with his tactile sense enhanced by the Bone Weave, Sunny felt every tiny detail of its texture, of the rich soil beneath, of the heat of the sun on his skin.
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It was all real.
It was wonderful!
As the portal shimmered and closed behind him, Sunny closed his eyes tightly and let out a short, quiet cry. He had too many emotions boiling in his heart to put them into words.
He made it. He escaped from the void.
He left nothing behind…
While Sunny was feeling the joy of escaping from the Sky Below, something else happened.
Somewhere far away, or maybe close by, there was a room built of cold stone, full of deafening silence. It was dark and empty, arranged in the shape of a heptagon, with seven corners drowning in deep shadows.
There were seven mirrors standing at each of the seven walls of the room, pointed at its center.
There was nothing there.
…However, in each of the seven mirrors, a figure of a young man reflected, sitting on the stone floor with his hands chained behind his back.
The young man was still and motionless, almost as if he was just a statue and not a living being.
But then, something changed.
A few moments after Sunny crossed the portal and appeared on the isle of the Ivory Tower…
One corner of the young man's lips curled upward slightly, forming a hint of a smile.
Mordret was glad to see Sunny escape, too.
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