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Dark, darker, yet darker.

He had never meant for it to come to this.

But here, standing at the edge of the known with his entire world behind him, the Royal Scientist had already given up his opportunity to turn back. Whatever happened now–success or death–would be permanent. He wondered which one would truly be worse. Tearing away monsters' lives in an alternate universe, in the hope of saving his own? Or a release into blissful oblivion?

No one else knew what he was about to do. Not his sons, not his faithful lab assistant. His wife didn't know, of course. Couldn't, since she'd been dead for years. Forgive me, Helvetica, he pleaded into the emptiness before him. This is for your sake, and for our children's.

She didn't know what the CORE had really been designed for. The conversion of geothermal to magical energy, yes, but it was capable of more than that. The machine he was about to activate now, concealed in the most hidden room of the CORE and channelling the large majority of its energy, was the real purpose of this project, his real goal. Once activated, it would create a tear in space-time allowing him to enter other universes.

And once there…

There had been a time when he loathed even thinking the word. He forced it out now, forced his mind to take in the full magnitude of what he was preparing to do. It was an ugly thing he'd carry the burden of for however long he had to live.

Genocide. In the parallel timelines he was about to enter, he would gain enough EXP to equal the power of a human soul. After that, he could return home, cross the barrier, collect six more souls, and set the monsters free.

"I'm doing this for you," he said out loud. "You'll understand, in time. Once I'm back and everyone has been saved."

He had hesitated far too long. Every second he waited was a chance to save monsterkind slipping from his hands. He steeled himself, stepped forward, and flipped the switch. It was only a millisecond afterward that he realized something was deeply, deeply wrong. By then it was already too late. In a single violent release of pent-up energy, everything was over for him.

Like all monsters, his body dissolved into dust immediately upon his death, but his soul remained. Normally, monster souls simply disappeared with everything else. But this one was different, its fundamental magic warped in the blast. Instead of dissolving, the soul remained intact until the stress became too much, splintering into three separate pieces that were hurled in different directions with the force of a nuclear explosion. They phased through the layers of earth and stone separating the Underground from the surface above and crossed into an entirely new world: the world of the humans.

The three pieces of the shattered soul each found a place in an unborn human child's, white melding into blue, into indigo, into purple. Their former lives intertwined with their new ones as the children's destinies became inseparable from the journey they would one day complete.