Ves expected a fight. Instead, he was met with cooperation. The holy relic's refined spirituality continued to believe in his disguise.
"It's like interacting with an algorithm. It doesn't have the wisdom and smarts to recognize it's being toyed with." He muttered.
One thing was for sure. Prophet Ylvaine was dead. The residue he left behind had already had already lost support.
Even if the New Ylvaine Dynasty 'resurrected' the prophet by cloning him in the form of an embryo, their new prophet was fundamentally a different person.
On a spiritual level, nothing tied the original prophet to the test tube prophets that the True Believers brought into existence.
"It's too bad none of them will believe me. Their faith has blinded them to the truth." Ves shook his head.
He didn't know if the prophet transcended to a higher existence or reincarnated into a different life. His theories on spirituality didn't offer any answers in that regard.
Right now, he was preoccupied with slowly compressing the loose cloud of spiritual energy in the holy relic into a solid, self-contained form.
While the spiritual imprint mistakingly recognized him as the source of its existence, the sheer quantity of spiritual energy made it very tough to work with! The more he compressed the cloud of spiritual energy, the more force he needed to exert!
Ves grew concerned that his strength wasn't enough to finish the process. What if the resistance exceeded the amount of force he exerted?
"Will I be forced to discard some of the spiritual energy?"
That would weaken the resulting spiritual fragment and waste a lot of valuable spiritual energy. Ves did not want to see some of his hard work go to waste!
Unfortunately, what he feared the most came to pass! At some point, his strength wasn't enough to compress the cloud into a concentrated form!
Although the cloud grew smaller and denser, it was still short of becoming a self-contained fragment that Ves could transfer into his mind without fearing that it might spill into his psyche and contaminate his thoughts!
"I'm stuck at the final step!" Ves cried.
He felt awful that a setback occurred just as he was about to create the end product. He put so much effort into refining the spiritual accumulation to amplify the influence that Prophet Ylvaine left behind. He didn't want to discard any of it in order to obtain a spiritual fragment!
"What should I do?"
Whenever Ves tried something new, he always braved the unknown. Failure could occur at any time.
While Ves was normally fine with encountering a setback every now and then, the situation was growing increasingly urgent! If he couldn't solve this problem quickly, he might get caught red-handed with the missing holy relic!
As Ves wracked his mind for a bit, a clever idea suddenly popped in his mind.
"The spiritual energy I'm perceiving behaves a lot like a gas. Maybe I can approach the problem from an engineering perspective!"
The field of pneumatics employed methods to convert air pressure to mechanical power and vica versa. If he combined it with the concept of mechanical leverage, he could sidestep the problem of insufficient force by taking advantage of a more sophisticated construction.
However, a problem quickly popped up. The only way for him to interact with the cloud of spiritual energy was by employing his own loose cloud of spiritual energy. The two were largely the same aside from their different spiritual imprints.
"The main problem is that loose spiritual energy can't be fixed into a solid form."
Another issue was that loose spiritual energy didn't exactly behave like a gas. For example, if Ves only took a small amount of spiritual energy, he was able to compress it into a solid fragment without a problem. Spiritual energy possessed a lot of other unusual properties that affected its handling.
He needed to find a different way to compress the spiritual energy. The solution needed to be based on his understanding of spirituality instead of physics.
One of the defining properties of spiritual energy was that it was alive. Before Ves refined the spiritual accumulation locked within the nutrient pack wrapper, the original sentiment had been listless and dormant.
Now that he treated it extensively, what remained had regained a lot of its vitality!
"Maybe.. I should just ask?"
When Ves carefully communicated his intention to the cloud of spiritual energy, it accepted his command!
The cloud was compressing by itself without any intervention from Ves!
"It actually worked!"
He spoke too soon. Just like Ves, the cloud of spiritual energy didn't possess the strength to compress itself into a concentrated fragment. However, it had done a decent job at it. As long as it received a push...
"We can combine strengths!"
Ves quickly enacted his plan. He added his strength to the spiritual energy. Combined, they exerted enough force to push past their own limits!
As the cloud grew increasingly smaller and denser, it emitted a stronger aura that bore the unmistakable mark of Prophet Ylvaine! The spiritual energy grew increasingly more active and energetic as it was being pressed into a more compact form. A lot of processes took place that Ves didn't understand.
The creation of a strong spiritual fragment was much more profound than creating a weak spiritual fragment!
It was as if he was bringing something to life which had already died! The growing holy aura surrounding the nutrient pack wrapper made it feel as if he was resurrecting the prophet!
"Come to life!"
A highly energetic eruption blinded his spiritual senses!
A wave of pure holiness swept through his body! Even Lucky became affected as he arched his back and hissed!
Whatever happened must have proliferated throughout the entire compound and be surrounding street! Ves didn't know if anyone was spiritually sensitive enough to recognize where it came from, but he needed to move fast if he wanted to avoid getting caught!
As his senses started to recover, Ves quickly observed the nutrient pack wrapper and found that he succeeded in compressing it into a solid fragment!
This was what he wanted from the start!
He projected his Spirituality and firmly grabbed hold of the holy spiritual fragment. He still donned his mask of Prophet Ylvaine this time, so the spiritual fragment didn't resist being taken out of the nutrient pack wrapper.
While the wrapper had been its home for centuries, it was a highly undignified object for such a strong spiritual remnant!
As soon as Ves deposited the fragment in his mind, he instantly turned to Lucky and held out the spiritless relic.
"Eat it, Lucky!"
"This isn't the time to say no! Hurry up before someone comes!"
Even though Lucky looked at the nutrient pack wrapper with distaste, he knew what was at stake. With great reluctance, the mechanical cat flew over and munched on the relic.
The cat hated every bite! Nonetheless, it kept eating because if he didn't, Ves would get arrested! Once that happened, who would buy him exotics to eat?
As soon as Lucky finished the last bite, the cat resentfully jumped at Ves and swiped at his cheek with unpowered alloy claws.
"OUCH! LUCKY YOU BASTARD! WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!"
Even though Lucky refrained from employing his deadly energy claws, the scratch that Ves incurred bit deeply across his face and over his lips!
Lucky was really pissed this time! Who wanted to eat a centuries-old preserved nutrient pack wrapper?!
After teaching his owner a lesson, Lucky turned incorporeal and slipped through the wall!
Shortly afterwards, a couple of Protector guards forced their way into the room. Evidently, the spiritual eruption earlier discomfited the Kronons stationed at the compound and prompted them to perform a thorough inspection.
When the guards encountered Ves, he had already moved to the bathroom in order to treat his wound.
"What happened, Mr. Larkinson?!"
"Nothing serious. I was just playing around with my mechanical pet."
This was a rather weak excuse as mechanical pets were hardwired not to harm hujmans, but how else could he explain his coagulating wounds? It was far too distinctive to mistake for anything else!
However, the injury successfully distracted the guards assigned to inspect his room. They stopped thinking about the strange feeling that swept through their minds and bodies and instead began to wonder if Lucky had been hacked or something!
"There's nothing wrong with my pet! It's way more sophisticated than you think!"
It took a lot of arguing for the Protectors to lay their hands off Lucky. While his pet could easily run away if he was targeted, that might expose some capabilities that Ves really didn't want anyone else to know!
After almost an entire hour of searching, the Protector guards loosened their vigilance, though they remained on high alert.
Ves tentatively determined that none of them were sensitive enough to associate the wave that swept over them with the holy relic that went missing.
It was very hard to tie the theft to Ves in the first place, so the Kronon guards didn't take any drastic action.
As the alert level among the Protectors went back to normal, Ves became increasingly giddy. He succeeded in making off with the spoils! Incurring a scratch from Lucky was a small price to pay now that the holy relic was unquestionably gone!
Prophet Ylvaine's spiritual fragment rested peacefully in the corner of his mindspace.
Well, peacefully was a relative term. It showed very obvious discomfort in its new surroundings once it realized that it had entered the mind of a non-believer!
The spiritual fragment seemed to realize that it had been hoodwinked!
For now, the fragment didn't resist its new surroundings too much. It had only been recently created and was very weak and unaccustomed to its new strength.
Ves also managed to soothe the hurt feelings of the fragment by wrapping the image of Prophet Ylvaine around it like a comfy blanket that smelled a lot like its source.
The two were already starting to merge. Due to the huge disparity in strength, the spiritual fragment was slowly absorbing the traits that Ves cultivated in the image.
Most of the elements that Ves passed on served to compliment the absolute belief contained within the spiritual fragment. Added details about Prophet Ylvaine's life and experiences also blended into the fragment, which helped define its beliefs and make them more distinctive.
Overall, the merger process would take some time before it finished. Until then, Ves needed to figure out how he could keep it under control.
"I feel like I've implanted a bomb into my mind!"
If Ves didn't address the matter soon, he might end up dying due to his own ingenuity!
"I should have put a lot more thought about this before I embarked on this experiment!"
He regretted not experimenting this step beforehand but it was already too late. Right now, he needed to come up with a solution on the fly.
The Ylvaine's spiritual fragment was not as alive as Qilanxo's spiritual fragment. In the first place, Ves didn't even know if Prophet Ylvaine developed any significant spirituality during his lifetime.
"It might explain why he converted so many people."
Yet if Ylvaine had always been an average in this aspect, then the spiritual fragment he refined was far stronger than its source had ever been!
"The child is stronger than the parent!"
Another relevant factor was that the strengthened spiritual fragment did not encompass the full range of Ylvaine's personality. It only started off as miniscule smudges of his strongest thoughts, beliefs and sentiments. Even after being amplified by a thousand times or more, this still hadn't changed!
While merging with the image that Ves constructed added more complexity to the spiritual fragment, it still possessed a one-track mind.
The only thing the spiritual fragment cared about was maintaining absolute faith! Nothing else was more important than holding on to the beliefs that Prophet Ylvaine held during his lifetime!
Perhaps the key to handling the spiritual fragment was to negotiate with it. Ves and the spiritual fragment didn't necessarily have to be enemies. They could both get what they wanted out of each other!
"It's worth a try!"