Chapter 1985: Tower Core (Part 1)
The rest of the crew had their respective jaw dropping, Solus included. Lith had always been adamant about not having children of his own. Only Salaark didn't even flinch at the news.
Quite the contrary, she seemed to be completely uninterested.
"Yes, Mom." Lith was glad to see his father's radiant smile and not shivering at the physical contact like usual. "It's a decision we both agreed on after a thorough discussion."
"Bless that woman's heart." Elina jumped with joy. "I'm so happy at the idea that you'll finally give me a grandchild that I won't even scold you for calling your little sister a burden."
She took Lith's hand and placed it over her womb.
"My little sister?" Lith echoed in a stupor. "How?"
"Lith, dear, when two adults really love each other…" Elina burst into a peal of laughter before finishing the phrase.
"I know that, Mom!" He turned into a shade of purple in embarrassment. "I meant, how do you know? We are here for barely a month. It's too soon."
She pointed at Salaark who clicked her tongue.
"Guardian senses, you moron. Do you really think that I can fail to perceive someone of my blood who lives under my roof?"
Lith first thought was about the unspeakable act that had happened under his roof. The second was about all the problems that his little sister would have. The third and last that eclipsed the other two was pure joy.
"Good gods, congratulations Mom and Dad!" He hugged them both before using Invigoration on Elina and looking for the spark of life inside of her.
It was so small that he wouldn't have noticed it without an accurate scan of her womb.
"We could make a club." Elina chucked. "There's me, Salaark, and Selia. Tista, dear-"
"Mom!" A shrill shriek cut her short as Tista flushed up to her ears.
"Why such a reaction?" Elina furrowed her brows. "I was just about to say that now that Lith is happily married, we need to find someone for you. Don't tell me that you are…"
She looked at Salaark with eyes full of hope, but the Overlord shook her head.
"Stop it, Mom!" Tista suddenly felt cornered. She was the only member of the family still single and now everyone would nag at her at every family reunion.
"Have you already picked the name?" Faluel asked.
"No more names starting with L." Elina said. "Things are starting to get confusing at home so we were thinking of naming her after Salaark."
"It would be my honor." The Guardian said. "Still, I partially agree with Lith. Having a child during such times is a bold move, almost reckless."
"Not really." Elina shrugged. "Worst case scenario, I wouldn't mind moving our family to the Desert. You have been a wonderful host and even though we are not really blood related, you have treated all of us as your own.
"Also, it didn't happen on purpose. I simply noticed how Kamila had managed to turn Lith from a moping wreck into a new man and I decided to give her method a go."
"Mom!" Now it was Lith's turn to blush.
"There's nothing to be ashamed of, dear. Now, do you mind calling for Trion? I don't want him to learn about this from a stranger."
"Oh, gods! I'm going to have a little sister!" The Demon said as small puffs of fire and smoke came from his eyes instead of tears.
"You already have a little sister and two little brothers, dummy." Tista said.
"Yeah, and I was a shitty brother to them all." Trion said with a sigh. "Aran barely knows me and he considers Protector's kid his brother more than I'll ever be. With this child, instead, I'll have a fresh start."
The members of the group congratulated Raaz and Elina in turns, promising them to return for lunch and celebrate the good news together.
"Before moving on to the last item of our agenda, there's something I want to show you." Lith said after Warping the group back to the tower's Heart.
He briefly explained to them the reasons for his trip to the continent of Verendi and how it had ended.
"Even though the real Mouth of Menadion is lost to us, Solus still managed to recover her own version of the artifact."
"Too bad that we have no idea how it works and that conjuring it takes a lot of energy." She said with a sigh. "Even with the tower over the geyser, the only place where I can manifest the Mouth without too much effort is here."
By its name, everyone had expected the artifact to be something like a mouthpiece or to cover only the lower part of Solus' face. Instead, it was a pristine white mask with no features except the holes for eyes and nostrils.
It also had a red crystal for the upper lip and a yellow crystal for the lower.
"The original was slightly different." Solus conjured the hologram of the Mouth from Verendi.
It had six elemental crystals instead of two, forming a huge, creepy smile that reached either side of the mask.
"Interesting, but why are you showing us that?" Faluel asked.
"Actually, I'm showing it to Grandma, hoping that she can point us in the right direction." Lith replied.
"I'm sorry, my Featherling, but Ripha created both the tower and the Mouth after I complete my apprenticeship with her. I have no idea how they work so I can't help you." The Overlord said with a shrug.
"Not even if you examine?" He offered her the stone mask after releasing its restrictions.
Lith couldn't remove the cloaking runes left by the First Ruler of the Flames, but by granting Salaark full access to the artifact, it would make her job easier.
"Do you realize what you are doing?" The Guardian took a step back, fighting her innate curiosity to expose the workings of a fellow Forgemaster. "If I use my breathing technique on the Mouth, I'm going to learn a lot about it.
"Not only how it works, but also how to make another and maybe even something about your tower. You are giving up on your greatest secret and advantage so I need to make sure that you are aware of the consequences of what you are asking me to do."
"I know it very well." Lith nodded. "Yet I don't have the time to wait for Solus to have another breakthrough and remember something about the Mouth. Right now, it has no value to me.
"Also, the Master and his Organization have gotten their hands on the original. I bet that while we are speaking, they are working to uncover its secrets. Even without Menadion's blueprints, Bytra and the Master managed to craft a hammer on par with your Solus' Fury.
"They will make their own version of the Mouth as well so if you make one more copy, it wouldn't change much. Quite the contrary, it would even the field. On top of that, I think you deserve a peek at the tower."
Lith stepped forward, putting the artifact into Salaark's hands while holding them.
"You saved my father, you offered me protection when I had lost everything, and you always did everything you could to help Solus and me in our efforts to become better mages.