Tengu City, inside an alley.
Origami asked Westcott and Ellen who are leading her down the dimly-lit alley.
"Where are you taking me?"
"Normally, we would do this over at DEM's branch HQ. But, Itsuka Shido burned down the place along with the surgical and Realizers there. The ASTs don't have the apparatus needed for the procedure."
"We have secret facilities in Tengu city, these facilities are prepared when stuff like this happens."
Westcott and Ellen glanced back at Origami.
"We are going to one of these underground bases. There are equipment there that shouldn't see the light of day. We also rarely use that facility so not a lot of people inside DEM knows. You're the first guest to go there..."
Westcott turned around with a smirk.
"You're going to like this place."
Origami followed Ellen and Westcott without a word.
She watched her parents get killed in front of her when she was young. She saw Wu Yan doing the deed inside the old footage. She recalled the scene while biting her lips.
No matter what they do or say, she is going to dive right in to get the power she needs, even if it means bargaining with the devil in hell.
Origami already committed herself to this dark and miserable path of mutual destruction.
The dim alley is almost a metaphor for her descent into darkness as the shadows of the alley engulfed her.
When the alley narrowed, the trio went through the maze-like alleyways for another 15 minutes.
Westcott and Ellen stopped suddenly. They looked at the wall near them. Although there are still many paths near them, the trio stopped here.
"I think it was somewhere here?"
Westcott rubbed the back of his head. Even if he is the managing director, it is quite a feat that he remembers a secret location in a weird place like this.
Ellen gave him the nod.
Ellen touched the dirty walls with moss growing on it. She fondled around until a green flash was emitted near her palm.
"A lock Territory?"
"Inside DEM, there are highly restricted areas where keys in the form of specific Territory are needed to open them. Since Maryoku signatures are unique to the brain activities of the user, there is no better encryption than this."
Ellen said that while shifting her Maryoku wavelengths. She is effectively adapting her signatures to the lock on the wall. After generating the same glow as the lock Territory, she stopped.
The wall near her shifted to the side like an automatic door, revealing a dark hole.
Ellen backed away. Westcott laughed before entering the hole with Ellen in tow. When all of them entered the tunnel, the door closed.
Automatic lights lit up the place.
This place was designed like the AST base.
There are cold metallic walls everywhere.
There are not a lot of equipment here. However, there is a pod built into the wall near them.
Origami furrowed her brows.
"That is the thing that will make you powerful."
Westcott sneered. Origami looked at that thing like it's her holy grail.
Those are the eyes of someone who craved more power.
It might look dumb but Westcott likes what he is seeing.
"That equipment you see over there can gather, generate, and infuse Maryoku into human subjects placed into the pod. It is effectively a machine that can modify humans to become potent magicians."
"Normally, talented magicians would undergo softer measures to adjust the body naturally to a higher level of Maryoku. That would take too long so DEM designed this machine..."
"This machine can greatly reduce the time needed to modify a magician. The price is well..."
"Granted, if you want to use the natural and less risky modification, you will need at least 5 years..."
"I only need this."
Westcott shrugged. He motioned for Origami to get in the pod.
"Get inside the pod, it will start automatically."
Origami didn't even hesitate. She walked over to the pod and smashed the button near the entrance. It opened up before she jumped in with a steadfast look.
The pod closed as she recalled the figure in flames.
Hatred started permeating her. She inhaled deeply before closing her eyes once more.
No matter what, the next time I see you, I will kill you...
Westcott and Ellen watched as the pod got to work. Maryoku and unknown fluid filled the pod.
Westcott broke the silence first.
"You have a question for me?"
"I know you have your own plans but..."
Ellen looked at the pod, Origami bathed in the Maryoku-infused medical fluid.
"At least, I don't think she will reach a level strong enough to defeat that guy, even with the forceful Maryoku enhancements we are giving her."
The Maryoku enhancement will take the user's lifespan as a price. This is the price they have to pay for a faster rate of power acquisition.
Even so, this speedy process sacrifice more than just lifespan, it sacrifices quality. Unsuitable subjects can pay with their lifespan and still walk away with little to show for themselves. For instance, Mana went through this process but she is still inferior compared to Ellen.
Ellen doesn't this nameless brat will exceed Mana's achievement. If she is weaker than Mana then she won't be able to touch that man when Ellen who was in her prime got defeated multiple times by that man.
Ellen cannot fathom why Westcott would go out of his way to modify Origami.
"Human emotions, my dear Ellen..."
"Her powers might not exceed you but I think she will fare much better in a fight than you... Ellen..."