The great silken cocoon pulsed with power, and eventually their figures vanished from view. Stranger still, there seemed to be no energy fluctuations coming from within – at least, none that the Doctor or Wine Master could distinguish.
The Doctor looked on as well, resting as the strange scene unfolded before him. He watched in silence, absorbed in thought. At the onset he’d watched the young woman work with a distinct light of scorn in his eyes. However, as that cocoon developed and surrounded the two, that light changed to something more dignified. But anxiety and doubt could still be seen. It was as if he’d figured something out only, not entirely. There was still something he couldn’t put his finger on.
He wasn’t alone in his ruminations. The Wine Master, too, looked consumed by thought. In all the worlds there were only a very few Disciplines he wasn’t familiar with. This woman’s was one of them.
The energy he’d felt exuding from the girl was infinitely gentle, abnormally pure and far beyond the ken of your average Adept. By his estimation, she possessed a ninth level Talent. It was a great power, despite her weak appearance.
Naturally a ninth ranked healer would have enormously powerful healing abilities, precisely like the Doctor. But there was something strange, and though he didn’t know why he suspected her healing abilities weren’t so simple as they appeared. She may even be more powerful than the Doctor, for all his training and ability.
Before them the cocoon began to hum and vibrate. The silken tendrils began to quietly break apart and the air around it shimmered with a white aura.
“Hm?” Mo Yu and his team shuffled uncomfortably in their mechas and watched. Each and every one of them were Adepts themselves – you had to be to pilot a mecha – yet none so powerful as the group they stood guard over. They would fight tooth and nail for even a tenth of the power they witnessed.
The sky darkened, suddenly, for reasons unknown to those gathered. Mo Yu’s band of armored soldiers flashed as their integrated lighting systems came online. They were shocked, but not simply from the sudden change of light. This was no normal darkness, they concluded. It was a dark that swallowed light up, devoured it. The blazing lamps affixed to the mechas did nothing to dispel the gloom, becoming little more than dim specs in a sea of black. The only thing that pierced it was that white cocoon.
“Changing the laws of nature… ,” the Doctor whispered to himself. He quickly scrambled to his feet. With the help of the cocoon’s gentle light, he was able to see the Wine Master’s face. What he saw mirrored his own shock and confusion.
Yet the Wine Master lifted a hand, silently assuring the Doctor that as was well. After all, he was still monitoring the state of the woman’s Core. Without their interruption the shell continued to brighten, making everything around it look blacker still.
Mo Yu sat still as stone in his towering Mammoth III mecha. He linked to the satellites overhead to check their imaging status, to see what they saw. What he found was nothing – the scene looked normal from overhead. It looked like it always had, clear and with no anomalies. The dark could be seen up close, but not from afar. Like some kind of illusion.
A pale fog or steam seeped from the cocoon, white like the light that surrounded it. It was stark and clear against the inky backdrop. As it continued to smoke the plumes congealed until they formed another shell, identical to the one beneath it.
Lights flashed within, beams of it peaking through the cracks. Where the light shone, strange flowery lines appeared upon the shell’s surface.
A rapid burst of energy pulsed outward from the cocoon. It washed over the others leaving no trace, causing no harm. But the Doctor and Wine Master, close as they were, felt it keenly when the power washed over them. They could feel their spirit embrace it, filled to brim with it. They sense the pulsing energies enhancing their inner being.
The Doctor swallowed hard. His stunned voice broke the relative silence as he muttered to himself. “I think I know what this is… It means that story must be true, that there really are people with the Silkworm Discipline. Damn… who’d have thought today we’d witness a miracle.”
“Crack – crrrack!” The sound was clear and crisp. Fissures had begun to appear on the cocoon’s surface. They started at the top and snaked their way down in shimmering golden lines. The emanating metallic light was dim at first, but their intensity increased as the cracks spread further.
The light tore through the pitch black world like a towering golden spear, a pillar of heaven. It rose unimpeded towards the heavens where it split the sky in half. From above the golden light shone down like rays of the sun, bathing the white cocoon in warmth and light.
The golden luminescence sent the darkness running. Everything came under that glow, shimmering in it’s embrace. Even the Wine Master, with all his power and ability, was cast away by the force of the golden light. The Doctor was thrown like a ragdoll just behind him.
At last the silvery cocoon split. From within, a wriggling golden form slunk from the ruins of it’s protective shell. It was no more than a meter tall, chubby, and covered in intertwining golden lines. It’s flesh, however, was white as fresh snow. Almost immediately after escaping from the cocoon it began to grow taller and wider. A second series of cracks could be heard afterward.
A soothing white light began to emanate from the creature, contrasting with the golden glow that bathed everything else around it. It continued to wriggle and change. First were the wings, pure white and powerful. The writhing figure shifted and evolved in to a golden white-jade humanoid.
It was an angelic figure, beautiful, and covered in white light like it was made from it. It was so pure that onlookers couldn’t make out any details. Still, the sensation they got simply by looking on was one of great purity and beauty.
The silvery light in the Wine Master’s eyes vanished. He felt it clearly now, there was no more question. The small piece of his power he’d left in her core extricated itself, and returned to him. There was no further need for it.
Protomorphism. Indeed, it was a power not unlike his own. Whoever she was, she was already peaking in to the realm of the Paragons.
Such a puny looking thing, capable of wielding a Paragon’s Talent. It was nearly inconceivable, but for the fact it was happening before his very eyes. There was no malice in her art, and the Wine Master could sense Lan Jue’s condition improve far beyond where he was before she began.
“Rectitude!” The emotional voice thundered around them. The words were simple, but they filled the air like a chorus. As the words faded, the ruins of the cocoon near the white figure vanished without a trace.
It rose to it’s feet. Before it was the second cocoon, still housing the woman and Lan Jue in it’s protective enclosure. Then, she began to dance. It’s movements were gentle, care-free, like a sprite sailing through golden sunlight. The pale white light around it continued to glow soothingly.
As the creature’s dance continued, the cocoon adopted a more golden hue. The protomorphic energies at play began to worm their way inside.
“What in the hell is this?” The Wine Master could no longer hold his piece. The Doctor turned his head to look back at the aging Paragon.
“Unless I’m mistaken, this is that Discipline of legend, told to us before even the great Stellar Migration. Pure altruism… Regination.”
“Regination?” The Wine Master looked back upon the dancing figure in surprise. “You’re telling me this is the Savior, the Queen of the Silkworms?”
The Doctor nodded emphatically. “That’s right. The power of the Silkworm and the Mystic Raiment.”
The power of the Silkworm and the Mystic Raiment! Nine simple words, but they were enough to cause the Cosmagus to retreat a step. Shock was written clear on his face.
“I was certain this mystical power was lost ages ago. But here it is, before us!”
The Doctor explained: “The legends state that this Discipline, Regination, is passed on only to one member of the family per generation. In actuality it’s called the Silkworm Discipline, but they call it Regination because the bearer holds the purist, most altruistic Discipline in the known universe. As one might expect, the Queen of the Silkworms holds no great combat proficiency, but their speed of cultivation is far greater than your average Adept. The power comes with extended life, greater vitality and an almost inhuman physique – but that’s it. No forceful attacks or great combat ability come standard. And yet, when the conditions are right, Regination can be the single greatest ability in the history of mankind.”
“When possessors of Regination approach a ninth level Talent – quickly, usually, by virtue of their Discipline – they are able to make connections with others. With these connections they are able to transfer their own powers to others. Like this, so long as the person is alive, they can sustain inhuman amounts of harm and come right back. This is what’s called ‘the Silkworm’s Power.’”
“In fact, the more damage someone has sustained, the more benefit they receive from the Silkworm’s ‘Mystic Raiment’, namely that cocoon. The foundation of this healing is the nourishment of marrow and tendons, but the healing seeps way down in to the person’s very spirit. Even their Core can be remade, cleared of impurities. They adopt the Silkworm’s purity.”
“But there are limits. Applying the Mystic Raiment obliterates the Queen of Silkworm’s abilities. Afterwards they must start all over, from the beginning, cultivating themselves back to their former power. In the tales it is said a Queen can only use the Mystic Raiment three times in their entire life. After all, this sort of protomorphism has the ability to complete change a person’s fate – to upend the laws of nature! Who’d have thought that today, when it was needed, we’d actually witness this power with our own eyes. No wonder she was so sure she could heal him. If even the Mystic Raiment couldn’t heal him, he’s as good as dead. It looks like our Jewelry Master had a great deal of luck or the grace of God on his side.”
As they conversed the dancing figure appeared to grow tired. Her body sagged and her wings extended until they draped over the second cocoon like a blanket. As they looked on the gorgeous creature began to change, becoming liquid. Quietly, the power of the Queen of Silkworms was absorbed in to the shell.