2.8 – Crossroads

I came to a crossroads down in the desert, and I knew not which way to turn. The sun burned in the east, and the wind howled in the west. My way I could not discern. My lot I threw in with the stones, carved with ruins of old, though I knew many would curse me and accuse me of selling my soul. To the south, they pointed. Don’t follow the road. Make of it what you will. I’ve made my choice, carved out my own way, one that doesn’t follow the world.

— The Traveler’s Shadow, a bardic tale

I crack my knuckles ominously and grin at the sound. I tried to do it a few minutes ago, but it didn’t work. It was a humiliating sight for the next few minutes where I tried to figure out how to modify them so they’d pop properly, but I got it now and I’m raring to go.

I stare intensely at the face in front of me. It didn’t deserve to live in this world. It was an offense to the eyes. It needed to die, and I was the person to help it along.

“Well, then. How shall I go about killing you?” I say sweetly to that despicable face. “No need to worry. It won’t hurt a bit.” I plant my feet solidly and feet the momentum build as I begin to twist, building up from the legs into the waist, up through the spin and shoulders, down the length of my arm and out through my fist. A solid punch that would have broken even a stone, only I grimace and droop. I completely missed my target.

“Timp,” I say, looking down at the little owl cat. “Maybe I’m just not cut out for this anymore. I only remember bits and pieces. I thought I could fight, but it looks like I can’t.” I crouch down and snuggle the feline bird in my arms.

“Chirrririp,” Timp cries in protest, struggling to get out from my grasp.

“Why did the system name you Timp anyway? Why didn’t I get to name you? Hey stop that, haha.” Timp pushes against my cheek with a paw.

“Chichichichirip!” She calls.

“Cheer up, huh. You’re right!” I drop the owl cat and clench my fist in a victory pose. “I can’t give up now! I need to relearn how to fight again! That punch felt pretty good; I just need to connect it. Let’s try it again.”

I readjust my position and give a little growl as I stare my opponent down. I take a deep breath in (something I had to figure out as well. It doesn’t feel right not being able to take breaths) and twist again. From the feet, through the legs. Connect with the waist and travel up the spine. Enter the shoulders and roll down the arm. Out through the fist.


My fist landed solidly an my opponent was launched through the air. A shiver runs down my spine. That felt good. I give a fist pump and grin.


Next thing I know. I’m staring dizzily up at the ceiling of my new training room I had made a few hours ago about half way up the tree. The punching bag swings above me, its drawn on face giving me a mocking leer. It came back and hit me! I stare in shock.

You dare! You dare counter my beautiful punch through cheat moves! I’ll rip your intestines out and string you up with them! Watch this, sucker!

Roll back on my shoulder. Push my hands against the floor. Launch and twist. Swing feet through the air. Solid connect. Successful spin kick from the ground.

Thwaaaaaaaiinck. Hm? What was that? It sounded good at the beginning, but near the end? I look up and realize why I wasn’t falling back to the ground. My foot was stuck in the chains of ice I made to hang the punching bag. It had caught in a way where I was completely dangling upside-down from one foot, much like the picture of the hanged man from terot cards. The face on the bag sneers down at me once again.

“Arg! This is ridiculous! Timp! Come help me!” The cat bird looks at me haughtily, picking at the fur between her claws with her beak.

“Ug never mind. I’ll do it myself. So much for loyal guardian.” I hold up the bag and untwist the chain from my foot using ice manipulation. The bag seems to shake with laughter at me when I fall to the ground.

“That’s it. You’re done for, bud. You’ll wish you never made me pull out my trump.” I grin maliciously, rising a foot into the air. Ice pellets form all around me and I launch them at the bag. In seconds, its torn to pieces.

“Hahahahaha! Take that sucker! Laugh at me now!” I touch back to earth and grin wildly. Hehe. This little trick. If I hadn’t fallen down the stairs earlier, I wouldn’t have figured out I could do this. Hahaha.

I can make ice float. I do it all the time with my ice pellets. It hardly takes any mana, actually. So, guess what. My body is made out of ice. I can fly. Muwahaha! Watch out world! You’ve never seen something like this before, have you? Wait. Actually. Don’t jinx me. You probably have. Heck. Eiras are living, breathing proof. I groan. I did jinx myself. Why does this world have to be so crazy? It makes no sense! Nothing in my world was like that. It was completely logical. Nothing magical whatsoever. Grrr!

I glance over at Oroesi lying on a unfolded futon couch in the corner of the room. He looked a lot less pale than he did a while ago. I heave a sigh of relief. Alright. That’ll have to do for now, training wise. I look back at the shredded punching bag that was just barely hanging on for dear life and nod.

“Wait there, heathen. I’ll be back for you. Don’t cry for mercy when I come to take what’s left of your miserable life,” I say before heading downstairs. I stop by my garden room to check on my plants and give them a quick water. I smile. They are doing so well! I plant the crying fern and the rose sagebrush before leaving with a bucket of water.

A quick check of everything else in my domain shows that other stuff has grown. I have more sliver fish. And more plants and animals, it looks, including two new bunnies! Hehe. Good job Niko. Thanks for keeping an eye on everything while I was concentrating on other stuff. Surprisingly, he’s the diligent house-maker type. Huh. I wouldn’t have guessed. Now to get this over with. I’ve been holed up for a while, but not once has either of those two idiots left my domain. Well, Ah’m’s still recuperating, so I guess I can’t really kick him out, but, I’m astonished that Nattiq’s stuck around for this long.

I marched to room with the hole with a frown on my determined face. Pushing my way through the hanging bead curtain, I come across Ah’m laying on in stomach with a pillow wedged under his face, his eyes closed. I dodge his tail waving around in annoyed circles and almost trip on a deflated Nattiq. A continuous amount of unintelligible muttering rose from his lips. I back up in confusion.

Ah! I can stand no longer! You! Idiot! Shaddap! You whine for too many suns. My head ’tis hurt from constant noise. Ah’m opens his eyes and whacks him over the head with a tail. He looks at me and raises an eyebrow. Huh. I didn’t know he could do that.

If Idiot ’tis that miserable, hurry. Apologize to Little one. Not too late. Nattiq slumps over and begins sniffling.

“But it is too late. She hates me now! She hasn’t come down in almost three weeks.” He begins to bawl. I flinch back in disgust. Was this the man who slaughtered eira like it was nothing? On another note, has it really been that long? Wow, sense of time is screwed.

Tis you a child? Idiot no better than sniveling kit. Of course Little one ’tis mad. Idiot clawed at Little one’s friend for no reason. But Little one not coming down ’tis from different reason. Probably… Nattiq wilts further with every word.

“It’s true. I wouldn’t want to talk to me either. I’m a horrible person. I deserve to die.”

Ah, suck up, Idiot. No. Not Idiot. Coward. Coward and wimp. I misjudge Coward, too scared to even face Little one. Ah’m harrumphs.

“C–coward! I’m not a coward!” He angrily launches to his feet only to deflate once more. “It’s just… I don’t know what happened. Something… fed my doubts. Inflated them. Blinded me. I attacked and… Oh, gosh, I truly am an idiot. Why did I do that? I felt it. She was crying,” he mutters.

I sigh. If he’s going to be like that, it makes it really hard to hate him. Ah, whatever. I march over him and dump the bucket on his head. He jumps in shock and starts sputtering.

“Wh–what? Who are you!? You aren’t supposed to be here! This is Haven’s domain!”

Huhuhuhuhuhu. Ah’m laughs. Coward ’tis idiot. Not recognize Little one. I ’tis say Little one working on something.

“Little one? Wait what?” Nattiq stares at Ah’m and then me in confusion. “Haven?” he asks hesitantly.

“Yeah. And?”

“What happened to you?”

“What does it look like, idiot?”

“Um… Uh. I–I don’t know.” He looks away as red travels across his cheeks.

“Nattiq,” I say. He slowly turns his head back to face me. His face looks like a kid waiting to get scolded. I smile. A confused look crosses his eyes.

“Clench your teeth,” I say as sweetly as I can before launching a punch straight into his face. The back of his head slams against the wall with a crack.

Oh, Little one ’tis strong. I much impressed. Ah’m grins as I shake out my hand. I let out a slow breath. That was very much worth it. Nattiq looks up at me while holding his nose. Blood dribbles down his chin.

“Uh?” His voice was nasally.

“Payback for Oroesi.”


Little one changed much, no?

“Yeah. You like it?” I give a little spin. “It’s a golem that I can manipulate. I made it. It took me a while.”

Huhuhu. Impressive. Not many ’tis able to create golem. Ah’m clumsily claps his paws together. I bow.

“Really pretty,” Nattiq whispers.

“What did you say?” I ask.


“Are you asking for another of these?” I raise a fist.

“Nononono. No, really. You don’t have to. I think you actually may have broken my nose.” I raise it a bit higher. “No! Please! Have mercy!” He hides behind his hands.

“Fine. But it’s not like I’ve forgiven you yet.”

“Ah, right. Of course.” He droops a little once more.

“First time was understandable, but attacking me a second is uncalled for.”


“How am I supposed to trust you when you could turn on me any second?”

“I’m sorry.”

“You should be. You almost killed my guardian. If it wasn’t for him, you could have very well killed me.” He lowers his head even further. Ah’m growls and smacks him on the head with his tail.

Idiot ’tis bad. Don’t try to kill Little one.

“I’m really really sorry. I won’t ask you to forgive me.” He bows low to the ground.

“Fortunately for you, I won’t just kick you out.” His posture goes rigid as he listens. I sigh. “I need your help.” He jumps up with hope-filled eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that. Just so you know, I’m still mad at you for attacking me and Oroesi, but most of all, for not believing me. You didn’t even try to listen to what I had to say. Look. I know it wasn’t something easy to swallow, but you’re just being naive. The world is rarely what you make it out to be, so you have to be willing to look at the possibilities. Don’t turn a blind eye to things. Don’t try to assume the world is perfect. It rarely is. There are dark things in the world, and if you just cover them up and pretend everything’s alright, you’ll just sink with the ship. If that happens, then you really will be a coward, won’t you?” Nattiq flinches.

“Putting all that aside, there’s something very wrong with this world, and whether you like it or not, you’re going to be sucked right into the middle of it if you follow me around, ’cause I am very much a target at the moment. I just want to survive, and if I have to take out the disease affecting this world to do so, then so be it. But that means you have to make a choice. Either leave now, go back to how you used to live, hiding your head in the sand so you don’t see what’s going on around you, or help me fix everything even if it means making the whole world your enemy.” A wrinkle creases Nattiq’s brow.


“There are no in-betweens here. You have to choose one. If you’re not resolved, that whole situation up there will just happen again.”

He gulps. I give a sigh.

“Alright then. I give you two hours. If you haven’t made a decision by then, then I ask you to leave and don’t come back. I really can’t trust you.” I turn to leave.

“Wait! No! I’ll do it,” he says.

“What was that?” I turn and ask. A fire burns in his eyes.

“I’ll do it. I’ll go with you. I want to help, I don’t care if the world hates me for it.”

“Even if you die?”

“Even if I die.”

“Alright.” I nod. “Welcome to the team. A’m how about you? I need to ask you the same question.”

‘Tis Little one need to ask? Of course, I choose to help Little one. Mighty Kraken ’tis not stop even me. He grins.

“Well then, looks like we’ve got ourselves a team.”

Come, the morning light rises. This is the time to move. This is the time to change what would be the future. For our lives, for our families, we must not fail. — Jung Tae of the Mat’Baean Revolution

Congratulations! What drives great men? A cause.

Level [20]!: You have created a cause. (+5 path points; [Loyalty] — the longer a comrade works under you, the more loyal they will feel towards your cause. They will become less likely to succumb to temptation from other sources.)

Your cause has been named: Against the World»| – Since the world has turned against you, you turn against the world. You will not roll over and die. You will not go down without a fight. You will take whatever comes to you head on. Gather others who respond to your plight. Gather those who have been slighted by the world and fight back with all your soul. 
You have earned the achievement: |Leader!| – Have worthy people join your cause. (+5 path points; 5% chance added to a strategy’s success; {Strategist I (5/25)} path)

This gives me chills. My first mythic skill. I know I have a legendary one already, but this one is rather special, it looks. It gives me hope. It makes me believe that if I can gather enough people, I really can make it through this. Whelp things aren’t looking so hopeless anymore. I grin. Hehe. Maybe it’ll even help with the random possession instances, though I might be hoping to much. With the way this world has been so far, it’d be too easy if it was just solved like that.

I turn and look at my new comrades. Ah’m just looked lazy, but Nattiq was staring hard into the space right in front of him with a frown.

“Did you get anything?”

“Hm? Yeah. It’s weird. I got a normal red screen, a warning really about joining a strange cult. Said it’d destroy my soul or something like that. I couldn’t really read it ’cause it started glitching on me. I’ve never seen that happen before. But Haven, I think I might be starting to believe you.”


“‘Cause just now the red screen disappeared and was replaced with a blue screen.”

“Really.” I give a knowing smile.

“Against the world, huh? Not a bad name. Sounds fun.”

Oh, Idiot say something smart for once. 

“How would you boys like to take on the world?” I cross my arms.

“Are you offering an adventure? I couldn’t ask for a better way to pass the time,” Nattiq grins.

‘Tis sound fun. I join.

“First things first,” I say. “Need to upgrade home base so it really is a base of operations. How do you two want your rooms, since it sounds like you’ll be staying here for a while.”

“You’re going to make rooms!” Nattiq launches up and follows me towards the door.

“I guess I’m making yours first. Ah’m stay here for a while. You still need to heal. Oh, and by the way, Devin. That’s my real name.”

“Devin? I like it a lot.” Nattiq blushes when I look at him.

‘Tis nice name, Little one.

Status Menu
Name: Haven [Locked]–Devin Race: Legendary Dungeon Level: 20* Attribute: Green
Health: 308/309 (2.6/min) Mana: 297/318 (2.6/min) State: Normal
Biomes: 2 Floors: ?%Ξ] Named Monsters: 4
Monsters: 42 Animals: 24,944 Plants: 131,600+
Path Points: 33*
Paths: {Beginner V (0/20)} {Ingenuity II (30/60)} {Valiant II (0/120)} {Defender IV (2/30)} {Architect I (0/50)} {Strategist I (5/25)}*
Skills: [Influence V] [Incorporation III] [Ambient Aura VII] [Plant Growth I] [Green Thumb I] [Tamer II] [Karma II] [Natural Projectile III] [Core Teleportation] [Epithet] [Elemental Manipulation X] [Biome Creation] [Fluid Floors] [Golem Creation] [Loyalty]*
Achievements: |Ingenuity!| |Powerful!| |Dauntless!| |Against the Odds!| |Crack Shot!| |Breeder!| |Safe Guard!| |Creator of Wonders!| |Leader!|*
Causes:  Against the World»| — 3*
Auras: |Aura of Light|, |Aura of Warmth|, |Aura of Fury|, |Aura of Souls|, |Aura of Protection|, |Aura of the Lost|, |Calming Aura|
Fire: Main Water: Main, Ice Earth: Main, Plants, Minerals Air: Main

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