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471 Bathalas True Goal, Sending the Group Back to the Spirit Dimension

 Day ▋▋ - ▋▋:▋▋ ▋▋ - Underground Crystal Basin, Unknown Dimension

"Before attempting to joke or something, isn't it better if you help her first?"

Mark said with a strange look on his face.

Karlene looked lethargic and frail. Her face was also drained of color. That painful scream they heard was not just for a show.

Hearing those words, Alana hurriedly stood up and ran to help Karlene. Although she could stand and walk, that was all she could do at the moment.

"Sorry, I was surprised by the girl," Alana said to Karlene. "She looked exactly like you when we were little."

Those words of her made everyone realize why she said that joke like comment. After all, there were only four possibilities for a person with the same appearance to appear that they could think of. First was obviously, a child of the person. Being relatives could also do the same. The third and fourth, however, was a bit absurd. It was either the girl was a doppelganger or a clone.

And since it was impossible for Karlene and the little girl to the former two, and it was unbelievable for the third, it only left the last one.

To confirm that, Bathala spoke.

"Take care of her. There's no harm to her body the structure of it, her DNA in human science terms. What made her weakened is because I had to pull out the soul of this little girl from her. It is the first time that I witnessed a soul giving birth to a soul without a body, which made them end up in possession like state. Their souls were attached from the roots, and I had to severe that. Since she's the host, her soul was weakened. There is no problem for the girl, though."

Everyone now understood who was the little girl. Back in the base, although quite rare, there would be times that Karlene would lose herself, especially when she was involved in bloody battles. That was how they learned about her circumstances. It was not a secret to everyone in the base. And during those times, although she would not hurt her allies, she was kind of hard to control. It was until she saw Mark while in that state. Karlene would then run towards Mark, grabbing his hand and putting it on her head.

"Karla, is your body fine?"

Mark asked the little girl. However...

"Karla! Karla!"

That was her reply. Her voice was not rough any more, unlike when she was still in Karlene's body. Nevertheless, it seemed that she could not understand what Mark was saying, like before.

This made Mark look at Bathala.

"There's nothing I can do about that," Bathala said before Mark could say anything. "Her soul had just been plucked off. I can't do something to modify it right now, even I will not know what consequences will happen. After all, she's a soul that is detached from the circle of reincarnation."

"A newborn soul, is it?"

Mark said.

"That is right," Bathala sighed. "Normally, a new soul is born with two parts of the soul from its parents fused together with the breath of life. That is the routine. Unless another dead soul of a person is given another life due to good or bad karma. Or if a God created it."

That made everyone flustered. Not only that Bathala revealed the birth of souls to them, but also said that the existence of Karla, was unnatural.

And then, Mark turned to someone else...

Seeing where he was looking at, Bathala nodded.

"She is also the same." The Old Man then proceeded to tell Mara the awful truth. "The soul of your sister had been long gone. I'm sorry to say, but the current soul inside your sister's body is not its previous owner."

Everyone looked at Mara, then to Janette. Bathala just said that Mara's sister was already dead, and the one beside her was something else using her sister's body.

They all expected that Mara would cry or break down. Unexpectedly, she did not. Mara only showed a bitter, sad face and a little smile.

"It's fine to cry. You shouldn't hold it back."

Pefile said as he knew how it felt to have someone you loved, taken away. He was a bit better than Mara, though.

"I'm fine. Boss already told me before that she isn't my sister anymore. I'm the one who kept on clinging on to her."

That made everyone understand her response to the news. She already accepted it since the start when she saw that her sister had a bite on her shoulder. It was already good for her that she could spend time with her sister, although she already had a different soul.

Seeing that, Alana had an idea and turned to Bathala.

"You're a God, right? Even a former one, can't you have her sister resurrected? Or call her soul back at least? Since you gave us gifts, it will be a good one for her."

"Hey!!!" Mara said in a fluster. "It's inappropriate, right? Taking to a God and requesting in that way..."

Since even the person in question rebuked her, Alana looked down as she helped Karlene back to their seats.

"That would really be a perfect thing," Bathala said dejectedly. "But I am a former God of Creation and not a God that governed souls. That is beyond my abilities."

But then, Bathala flicked his robe, and a medallion appeared on his hand.

"Since it is the case, let me give you this."

The medallion, that was made of crystal and was rimmed with gold floated from Bathala's palm towards Mara.

As Mara wondered what the medallion was for, Bathala explained.

"Stay by this man's side." The Old Man pointed his staff at Mark. "Although it might not be sure, there's a possibility for him to run into a God that had links to the river of souls. Use that medallion to ask a favor. That medallion is not enough to resurrect your sister's soul. However, it might be possible to talk to her one last time if she has yet to enter the cycle of reincarnation. Do not expect too much as the time for a soul to enter reincarnation is not fixed. Some are early, and some wait for a long time. You just have to be lucky."

Mara nodded and gave the old man a sincere thank you.

Then, lastly, Janette.

And towards her, even Bathala was troubled.

"I wonder what should be suitable for her..."

"You don't have to force yourself to give her one if you can't think of anything."

Mark suggested. Even he would have a hard time thinking about what would be suitable for her.

If there was something, then it would be a fresh brain of a Mutator... Something with the mutation to enhance her body and mind at least. And of course, Bathala would not do that. It was unethical, even for him, who was a God. He was a God of Creation. He would not create something incomplete and let it get destroyed the moment he created it.

And there was also another reason that the Old Man could not disclose yet.

There, the Old Man gave up.

"I'll hold unto her gift for now. When she developed her abilities, especially her mind, more, I will give the gift at that time."

Mark, however, thought that it was not that simple. Why would the Old Man suddenly give up? This made him feel strange. It was like Bathala was making a reason to meet them in the future.

While Mark was thinking that, Bathala spoke.

"Well then, that is the end of everything for now. Since its late, I will send you all back. Follow me back to the cave."

Bathala then turned around without saying anything else. It was more like "the business was done, so I will lead you out," kind of feeling.

Without a choice, they followed behind the Old Man with the gifts they received in tow. Like how they arrived, the way back was silent. But unlike the first time, they were a bit restless. After all, everything was surreal.

They met a former god only known in stories, they saw visions of histories they never knew, and they even witnessed a few miracles that no mortal could do.

At the entrance of the crystal cave, Bathala stopped.

"This is as far as I can lead you all. Just continue to the end of the cave, and you will go back to the Dimension of Spirits."

As Bathala stepped aside with a smile, everyone gave their pleasantries and gratitude.

Bathala watched them all enter deep into the cave until the cave was enveloped with light. As that light signaled their exit, Bathala now had a stern look on his face.

Not because he was displeased with that group. Rather, he was fond of them.

The current look on the Old Man's face was because of the true reason he called Mark's group for.

"Mutagen, is it?"

He sighed.

The reason why he let Mark and his group was not only because of Mark and Mei but also because of Karlene and Janette. There as also that girl called Miracle. And of course, someone he knew from her previous life.

More importantly, to observe the Mutage face to face. Although he was a former god, there was no way for him to manifest himself in the Mortal World in a physical form. When he was watching Mark, he was only using some sort of observing treasure. If he opened a portal into the Mortal World, he would be easily found by the Observer. The other gods and higher deities were the same. That was why each of them had their own dimensions to hide inside.

Because of that, he had no way of closely observing Mutagen aside from the mindless infected he could see wandering in the Spirit Dimension. Mark's group was the first group of people that were involved with Mutagen that he encountered in the Spirit Dimension.

Mark, Karlene, Janette, and Miracle were all different circumstances that involved Mutagen. Not only that they were not mindless, but also had differing natures.

And now, observing them closely, even analyzing the soul of two of them, the Old Man had drawn an awful conclusion. However, it was not concrete evidence and that was why he did not dare disclose it to Mark and the others. He was also not ready to answer their other questions so he decided to give them gifts and lead them away.

As for the drawn conclusion, it seemed that the Observers, or maybe, other True Gods, were involved in this. He could not tell whether it was directly or indirectly, however, he found traces of their work in the bodies of Mark and the others.

The creation of another race, grafting of souls, new souls born of empty bodies, and altering both soul and body. It was not something that a normal disease would do. Not only that but Mutagen could also affect those without souls. It was very strange that even a former God like him found it complicated.

Bathala returned to his cabin with a heavy heart.

"The leads were still far from reach, it seemed. In the least, I formed a connection with them. A new potential God, is it? Furthermore, there are two of them. This time, I will not repeat the same mistake as before."

That mistake he was talking about, was the reason he easily lost the worship of the people in this country. As a God of Creation, he thought that he was enough. He created his own Deities to lead his people, not trying to get any actual direct help from the other Gods that was thrown in this country after him.

Because he was alone, his religion was easily swallowed. Unlike a group of Gods in a larger country that decided to move together. Until now, their country was barely touched by the new regime of the Observer.

Returning back to the cabin with all those thoughts, Bathala was welcomed back by surprised chirps of his two messenger birds.

The two led them back to the tree and there...

"Hahahaha! What a really interesting fellow."

Bathala laughed with amusement. On the seat where Mark sat before, a small pouch was left. It contained fifty small energy crystals.

It obviously indicated that Mark was accepting the gifts to his group, not as favors, but as an equal trade.