I exited the Captain’s cabin with my head buzzing with new information and a much clearer idea about my future path. Worthily was Isabella a Demigod, someone at the peak of magic. Just an hour with her had given me a deeper cognition of the world we lived in.
I had been wondering why she had agreed to travel with us so easily. Her being interested in Phobos’ research was a bit of a weak excuse. After all, it was a time of war and her time was precious. Spending a week aboard an airship trying to crack a mystery many had tried and failed to solve seemed a bit wilful on her part. But now, her motive was clear.
She was observing me for repercussions of her technique. After all, I had been invited to the Capital by the Emperor. It wouldn’t do for me to arrive there as a mindless husk. Especially not when the one responsible for escorting me was the one at fault.
Metaphysics would have us believe that when an ordinary person died, their soul emerged from their body and entered the afterlife – or, if they died with lingering regret or resentment, became a ghost. But according to Isabella, all that was pure nonsense as no one below the level of a Demigod could physically manifest a soul.
Although, when a Demigod died, there was a very real possibility of their souls lingering on for a short time afterwards.
“Oh? So, is it possible for you to possess someone’s body?”
I had asked as a joke, but she had replied very seriously. “Yes, of course. Not only can I possess someone’s body by sending out my soul, if I die and within a short while am able to find an appropriate body to inhabit, I can return to life with a new body.”
Looking at my startled expression, she had chuckled. “But the conditions for finding a compatible body are extremely exacting. Maybe only one or two people in the entirety of Regiis would match the criteria and the probability of meeting one of them right after I die is miniscule.”
Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, she had continued, “Let alone, I’d have to find someone without a talent for magic and willing to let me into their body. Otherwise, I’d have to fight off both the original owner of the body as well as the fragment of Vita’s soul that occupies her.” She had sighed, “Men have it easy.”
After her detailed explanation, I understood what she meant. The thing we had been calling Divine Will and Divine Power was actually the same thing – Vita’s soul. Apparently, Gods really existed! Vita was living proof of that.
… Well, not exactly living in the proper sense of the term. She was more of a resentful ghost that refused to move on. And if there were any Gods other than her, they hadn’t deigned to visit the world since the Apocalypse. Instead of the few hours a Demigod soul could linger, Vita’s soul had been around for thousands of years. That was the disparity between them.
Now I knew why the libraries didn’t mention anything about the true nature of the Gods. It was a secret closely tied to the method of promotion to Demigod.
Just because the most magically talented women also turned Feral, we had made an erroneous association between the two phenomena. Isabella had cleared my doubts about that. In fact, it was backwards. Magical talent was inborn. Vita’s soul fragment came later. A woman with a higher level of talent was more attractive as a vessel and so, as soon as they awakened their magic and their talent became apparent, one of Vita’s soul fragments would swoop in and occupy the body alongside the owner and turn her Feral. Isabella didn’t know why the God didn’t occupy the body once and for all or gather all her soul fragments together but whatever the reason, the soul fragment coexisted with the owner’s own will, influencing her subtly with her crazed whisperings.
Idly, I had wondered what the Deus Theocracy would think if they hear Isabella calling their Mother Goddess a resentful ghost. Brand her a heretic, I suppose.
Tamers, I learnt, were special in that we could touch upon the Domain of soul magic from a very young age. The so-called Contract magic we were so proud of was basically that – soul magic. Since a soul was, in its essence, an amalgam of our mana and our will, when we made the mana of two people resonate as we bound them together during marriages, what we were actually doing was linking their souls.
As the male body was extremely unsuitable for housing Vita’s soul, when it was drawn into their bodies through the bond, the will inherent in it escaped, only leaving a pure form of mana behind. Mana which seemed to be a composite of all six kinds of elemental mana. The so-called Divine Power.
Divine Power could temporarily boost the physical strength of its wielder and through long periods of exposure, fundamentally improve their constitution. That was why mages of both genders became healthier and more aesthetically pleasing after marriage.
Another factor which affected Bestia was their bloodlines. The bloodlines were the reason why Bestia had animal characteristics as well as the reason they had their mindscape. The bloodline, depending on its density, granted varying levels of talent. The denser the bloodline, the higher the affinity for the mana of the corresponding element and the easier it was to cultivate and break through to the next Tier.
The bond also linked the bloodlines of the couple together, resulting in the husband gaining a sixth of the wife’s affinity. Vita once again screwed it up for the women by rejecting the male bloodline. That was why females didn’t gain any affinity from marriage. In the case of a Tamer though, it was a bit different. With every woman he bonded, her mindscape would be reflected on his mind – the picture growing clearer and clearer with their deepening relations until a sixth of it was projected on his psyche.
Among all Tamers, I was unique. In a stroke of fortune, I had managed to extricate myself from the limits of a mindscape and follow the footsteps of the Ancient Hominum. A path of pure soul cultivation.
Now, I could understand why mother was feeling that way about her bloodline and why I was able to extract it. A sacred beast was one whose ancestry had a Demigod. It wasn’t a stretch to think that the Demigod would mix its soul within its bloodline and pass it down to its descendants. Mother, as a carrier of its bloodline, had suffered from its attempts at converting her into an ideal vessel. I had been able to extract it because of my soul magic.
I was curious about why Isabella didn’t have any animalistic traits. Now, I could make an educated guess. She had probably used her own soul to purify her body from the influence of her bloodline as well as Vita’s soul.
After I had an idea of what souls were and what soul cultivation entailed, Isabella had offered to cure my soul injury. Just when I was going to accept, she confessed that in the process, she would gain unrestricted access to my memories and thoughts. I had requested some time to consider as it was a momentous decision to literally bare my soul to her. She had agreed to wait till we were at the Capital. She wouldn’t be able to delay beyond that as she was extremely busy. I had three days to decide.
Lost in my thoughts, only now did I notice that my wandering footsteps had brought me before the door to Phobos’ cabin. Clearing my mind, I decided to check on how she was doing. I hadn’t seen much of her these last few days and I missed her voice.