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Raval was restless. He was pacing up and down over-excitedly, like when he was young and it was almost Kwismas. Except that this time, it was he – and he alone – who was going to "make" his own gift…


He did not know where to start, and he was becoming agitated in every sense of the word, beset by an intense state of tension. His feelings were rushing through his mind, with euphoria giving way to fear, then disappointment, and finally failure. What if he should not succeed? And what if, unlike his mother, he did not have it in his blood? He would be so disappointed… And let us not talk about her… 

"No, NO! Stop it, Raval!" he cried out, holding his head in his hands as if to chase the negative thoughts away. 

He had seen his mother do it so many times before. Hidden behind the door, he scrutinized her every action through the keyhole. And each time, he was enthralled – admiring, even. She was so gifted… After all, there was no reason he would not be as well! 

His "laboratory" was ready. All that was needed was him… For the fifth time in a row, he ran through everything he had within his grasp, including what he could use to "defend" himself, if need be… 

"Chafer Skull: OK; divinatory cards: OK; candles: OK; anti-projection helmet: OK; straitjacket: OK; pepper spray: OK; Solar's shield: OK; Bethel's scepter: OK." 

Raval took a small carved wooden chest from atop a shelf and opened it. 

"And the most important thing: the livid hearts…" 

Two artifacts, made partly from black hearts, were lying at the bottom of the chest, bathed in a milky light. 

Raval swallowed a large swig of Friswein to give himself courage. Then, he rubbed his hands energetically. 

"Right, time to get to work!"

He delicately took the two livid hearts out of the chest and placed them on a berth made from Dark Treechnid wood, positioned on the floor. Then, he removed the Arachnee silk fabric in which they were wrapped. The artifacts gave off an even more intense whitish glow – so much so that Raval, blinded, had to protect his eyes with his forearms. 

Around his head, he tied a veil that was opaque enough so the light would not discomfort him, but not so opaque that he could not keep an eye on what he was going to create… Then, he placed a cushion on the ground, a few meters away from the bed, and sat down, as if he were a tailor.
The beating of his heart broke the deafening silence that was smothering the room. It was beating hard inside his chest, as if it wanted to burst out. Raval closed his eyes and concentrated on his breathing in order to calm down. Slow, deep breathing… Once he felt that he was sufficiently relaxed, he decided to make his move. 

He opened his eyes and stared intensely at the livid hearts. His lips parted slightly, and strange stammerings slipped from his mouth. As the fragmented flow of words poured from his mouth, his jaw tightened, and one of the two artifacts started to shine slightly brighter, closely followed by the second one. A halo formed around them. It disappeared, reappeared, disappeared again, and so on, as if it were pulsating – slowly at first, then gradually faster. A blackish smoke escaped from each heart, followed by a fleeting, muffled explosion that startled Raval. Even so, he did not stop reciting his incantations. The ground quaked. There was a second explosion, but stronger this time. The smoke filled the room. 

Although Raval could no longer see three feet in front of him, he could now make out a shape through the thick cloud of smoke, separating him from the artifacts. His heart started racing again. But this time, he let himself be overcome by this mix of excitement and anxiety. He was finally experiencing the moment he had awaited for so many years. Raval gave a faint smile at the thought. Suddenly, the blurry shape split into two, giving way to two figures with sharper outlines. That was it! He had done it! 

Raval removed the veil covering his face, stood, and stepped back, whereas the two shapes moved toward him.  

"It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!" he exclaimed.  

The curtain of smoke gradually dissipated, revealing the two "creatures" to whom Raval had given life. Following the excitement, dread took hold of him once more. 

"Err… not quite, actually."

Solar and Bethel stood facing him. They were akin to living-dead: Colossal, and more impressive than they ever had been. Clearly, they were not exactly as they had been in the past. They were less "intact"… But Raval knew that already. He had expected that their rebirth would not have left them unscathed. Death had done its work. But Raval and his mother had found how to become stronger than it! 

In any case, Solar and Bethel were both easily recognizable. Here and there, there were signs that left no room for doubt. The former Protector of Javian and the Osamodas Sorcerer were strong enough to respond to the attack of the gods. With warriors of such standing from beyond the grave by his side, Raval could already see himself being idolized by the Brotherhood of the Forgotten…