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 Countless rays of light instantly spilled out of the crystal ball.

The light caused everyone to squint. At the same time, they panicked because they heard a low growl. As they couldn't see, they didn't know what was happening, after all, the greatest fear was always the unknown. Whether it was the mercenaries or the Ophenian Researchers, everyone retreated slowly while shielding their eyes from the blinding light.

The bright light only lasted for a minute and everyone could soon see their surroundings once again after rubbing their eyes.

The mercenaries were evidently shocked while the Ophenians had a tiny glint of success in their eyes.

In front of them was a five-meter tall cave. Within it was a flight of stairs that extended upwards into the darkness. Oddly enough, the cave felt like a gigantic monster's mouth; the stairs were akin to its teeth, waiting to swallow its prey whole.

That's the tunnel.

Compared to the rest, Rhode was calm. From his perspective, the previous platform was the abnormal one whereas this was merely ordinary. Just when Rhode was about to give a command, Gillian's voice rang in his ears.

"Master?"

Rhode shifted his attention to the fox-eared lady by his side. Gillian spread her arms and made a helpless expression. While she didn't say anything, her gestures told Rhode everything he had to know.

Lapis had disappeared.

"What should we do?" asked Gillian as she maintained her usual expression.

If Rhode was recognized for his poker face, Gillian's smile was her iconic trait.

Although the situation had taken an odd turn for the worse, Gillian still displayed a warm smile as if it was just a minor concern.

Rhode scanned his surroundings again, but he couldn't find Lapis. It was weird though; it should be literally impossible for him not to know if Lapis managed to escape from Gillian. Furthermore, even if it were just Gillian alone, Lapis wouldn't be able to escape either.

While the fire elemental lord's level was adjusted to Rhode's level, her strength was still above level 20. Lapis was roughly around level 10, and for her to escape from Gillian without her knowledge was impossible.

However, Rhode wasn't dumb. He knew that the beam of light had something to do with her disappearance. Thus, the only place where she could have gone was...

Rhode lifted his head and faced the dark cave.

The answer was to his front.

-

Lapis opened her eyes.

"Where am I...?"

The woman observed her surroundings groggily while attempting to overcome the dizzy spell that came as a side effect after her 'disappearance.' Ever since she had been caught up in the beam of light, an intense headache wrecked her mind as though she was suffering from a terrible hangover.

After some time, Lapis finally gained control of her body and she soon began to think of her situation.

Where is this place?

Around her were dozens of sparkling crystal balls which floated in the air, releasing a colorful brilliance. Also, the space she was in appeared to be cube-shaped and was covered in black tiles which gave off a magical feeling. When she stared closely at the black tiles, streams of magical lights seemed to be flickering within, vaguely revealing pieces of strange writings. After a while, the writings suddenly disappeared.

"This is the central control room of the Behermes family. You're finally here, Lapis."

A low voice sounded once again, but this time it was different, the owner of the voice had finally revealed itself.

Dim rays of light emerged from a floating crystal ball and condensed into a human figure. The figure was roughly two meters tall and had slender arms and legs which concealed its gender.

"I represent all Behermians to welcome you here, Lapis."

Lapis stared at this figure of light and took a few steps back before asking carefully, "... You, you are..."

The figure of light appeared unaffected by her question and made a hand gesture while taking a few steps towards Lapis.

"I am the Great Spirit of Behermes, Rafah."

"Lapis, I know I am a stranger to you, but to me and us, you are a very familiar being. You must have known your fate and now, the time to fulfill your mission is here. Come, accept our powers and trigger your core. Today, the continent's first ever perfect Behermian will be born. The long tragedy of our family lineage will end now!"

Lapis felt uncomfortable after listening to Rafah. She gripped her necklace nervously, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath before suddenly revealing a serious expression.

"I am not here for that, Mr. Rafah."

"Oh?"

Rafah was somewhat astonished after hearing an unexpected answer from Lapis.

Lapis took two steps back subconsciously in nervousness. However, she eventually picked up enough courage to ask, "I want to know what will happen to me after I become a fully completed Behermes?"

"You will become the most beautiful being on this continent."

Rafah gave a smooth reply.

"You should know that this was the goal since the birth of the Behermes family, Lapis. Can't you feel the Spirit Crystal resonating within your body? It had been waiting for this moment - the moment to return to perfection."

"But, e-even if I complete the Behermes' Spirit Crystal, I am still alone."

If Rhode was listening to this, he would be extremely surprised because the woman who wouldn't even dare to raise her head and look at others actually dared to argue for what was right.

"And how can I revive the whole Behermes Family?"

Rafah didn't immediately answer her question. Instead, he stared at the woman with his cold, profound eyes. There wasn't anger, doubt, or curiosity in his gaze; rather, it was an icy-cold glare that suggested that he didn't have human emotions.

After a moment, Rafah let out a laugh.

"And this is why we chose you as the Behermes' Spirit Crystal. Lapis, you will become the first perfect Behermian woman and procreate a new generation of Behermian offsprings. Our Behermes Family will prosper because of you and our new generations will be able to revive our hopes!"

"Then... you mean you will give those people up?" Lapis inquired worriedly.

Rafah nodded without hesitation.

"That's right. Their time is done. Those defects can't give us what we want. But luckily we still have you, Lapis. You are the most perfect being within the Behermes Family. Now come forth, accept our powers and fulfill your destiny."

The figure of light extended its right hand.

However, it didn't grab onto Lapis.

"... I... I reject..."

"Huh? What did you say?"

"I said... I reject becoming perfect!"

Lapis lifted her head proudly and stared right into the figure of light for the first time.

"I'm not here to become perfect. I'm here to destroy it! Mr. Rafah, no matter who all of you are and what you want to do, I will not let you have your way. We are not your playthings or experimental tools. I am also not your so-called 'perfect woman.' The reason I am here is to eradicate the whole core!"

Lapis tore the necklace off her neck and lifted it high up in the air. Suddenly, dozens of lines filled with magic runes erupted and wrapped the woman. The figure of light's expression changed when he saw the necklace.

"Myriad Locket?! Lapis, you...!!"

"I, Lapis Behermes Filian Stanblanca, now summon the sacred being that had been protecting our family for the ages to destroy the core that had been restricting our family!"

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