core

4.2 – The Ikwir

Luyo lxats’ben won diri so Ikwir. While not as dangerous as the Rhew in terms of the environment’s ability to kill, I assure you, the Ikwir is no less deadly. The cold doesn’t dampen hunger there, and no one seems to know why the things in the north grow so big. I did try traveling through the place to see if I could discover the original city of Automaton. You know, Dig and I found on our Yat’al’ that we can hold our own in a fight against almost everything we come across, at least long enough to run away, which is more than most can say. But the wolves there… I’m not to keen on ever meeting them again. That was  too close a call, huh, Dig? I wouldn’t want to run into a Fenrir there.

—  A Yat at his ariyaqori festival

 

[Ambient Aura VIII] –> [Ambient Aura IX]: You’re ability to use auras has almost reached its highest level. You are beginning to realize the truth of auras. Partings do not last forever. Every soul is connected. (Due to the strength of your longing, due to your pain and your loss, you have found a way to connect to the River of Souls using your combined auras to form |Aura of Rebirth|)

 

This… What is this? No, I’m serious. What is this? I can feel it. My hands are starting to tremble. Is this…? Can I really? Is this what I think it is? Will I be able to…?

I take a deep breath and hold it, letting my mind go blank. I sit like that for several seconds, then I let it all out in a massive puff of air. Alright. Let’s try. It can’t hurt, can it? I trigger |aura of rebirth|.

I jolt as the world suddenly goes black.

No, not black. It’s more like I’ve been cut off from the outside world and completely confined within my core. I can’t see anything, but instinctively I know not to panic. It feels different from the time I spent all my mana. That was an overwhelming, suffocating darkness where I couldn’t see, hear, or feel anything. While I can’t see or hear anything, this time I feel… a flow. A current. It moves and swirls around me in a similar way that mana does, only more subtle. If mana was a river, this would be a breath of wind, constantly moving in swirling eddies around me almost like it wasn’t there in the first place.

I reach out and touch an eddy next to me with a tendril of thought. It dodges my tendril and swirls a bit away and then closer again, brushing up slightly against my core before racing out again. I laugh a little. It feels strange, alive, maybe even a bit mischievous. I chase after it with my tendril. It swirls in loops, always dodging my tendril by just a hair. I laugh again.

Then, the eddy stops. I slow my tendril in confusion. I feel it turn and swirl in spot once before slipping next to my tendril. It reaches out and takes a hold of my tendril like it was grabbing my hand, then launches off towards the sky. It moves so fast that my tendril stretches and thins to the point of snapping. I know it. I know it to the bottom of my core that that’s bad. It’s a very, very bad idea to let it break. I can’t let that happen.

Hurriedly, I feed more of my thought into my tendril so that it’s no longer threatening to snap like an overstretched rubber band. But, now I feel myself thinning as I’m drawn out of my core by the eddy. It’s almost to the point where I can barely hold a grip to my core. I’m starting to panic a bit now. I don’t know where this eddy is dragging me, and it’s grip on my tendril is too strong for me to let go, but if this keeps on much longer, I’m going to slip right out of my core. I don’t know what’s going to happen if I do. Am I going to die?

Right about when I feel my grip slip, the eddy stops, and I’m left gasping and heaving. Too close. I’m stretched so taunt that it’s like the last rope holding up a breaking bridge. It feels like any breath of wind will break me now.

I feel something else now though, something moving fast. Both the eddy and my tendril are buffeted by the current. My stretched out thought-body strains. Ow ow ow. Am I a kite string now? The eddy begins moving against the current, more carefully now, so as not to break me. It touches me to something that feels almost solid amidst the flow, like a rock or a pillar. My tendril sinks into it, and almost instantly the tension on my body dissipates. My drawn out body starts to dissolve in the middle, slipping back into both my core and the pillar. Suddenly, it’s like my body is in two different places at once. Like it’s overlapping in two different dimensions. Or maybe it was actually my soul…

That was something to ponder later. I give a shake as I open Dial’s eyes. I can see the world again through the statue. But now, I can also feel the current buffering around me. It feels right almost like it’s always been there. A screen pops up.

 |Aura of Rebirth| has been activated. You have successfully formed a connection with the River of Souls. You have earned the achievement – |River Keeper!| – As a caretaker of the River of Souls, you are the first. You know this river. You know its currents and its bends. You know when it is healthy, and when it is sick. ({Aegis (0/5000)} path; [Forewarn III] -> [Forewarn IV] – feel the state of the world through the River of Souls; +basic understanding of the thoughts and feelings of souls; due to karma, you’ve gained a special reward: +100 aegis points – you can choose to spend them this once or wait (the more points, the bigger the soul you can reincarnate; the skill –[Rebirth]–  is a locked skill under {Aegis (0/5000)} and can only be used once due to the effects of karma))

 

Before I can even have the chance to really read the screen, another screen pops up.

You have detected a soul that has refused to leave your side. In doing so, it has resisted the pull of the River of Souls. It’s overwhelming need to protect you has caused it to begin degrading over time. It will eventually revert to its original state. Warning, this will reduce the soul to pre-reincarnation status. It will no longer have intelligence if allowed to continue.

 

I whirl around me, searching for the soul.

“Oroesi? Oroesi! Why are you still here?!” I see him now, faint, flickering like a dying candle in the breeze. “No! You can’t do that! You need to go! You need to leave right now!” I yell at him. He shakes his head and slips inside Dial to pat my core.

“Stop. Why would you do this? You’ll stop being you.” My understanding of this world’s reincarnations process was still limited, but I knew that if he kept being here, he would lose everything that defined him. He would be something else, the basest form of soul with no thought or feeling.

He grins, then mimics a sobbing face and pats my core again. His body flickers again. He’s fainter than before. Urgency fills me. He doesn’t have much time. My eyes dart around, desperately searching for a solution. A line on the first screen catches my eye – soul you can reincarnate. The words feel like they lodge in my throat. I look at Oroesi and without hesitation:

You have chosen to spend 99 Aegis points to reincarnate: Oroesi»|. Please wait…

 

A flash of light surrounds Oroesi. He looks at his immaterial arms in confusion before he’s flung out of Dial and into a whirling mass of ice and snow, which begins to condense around him.

My core lodges in Dial’s throat. Anxiousness assails me. If this doesn’t work… If I’m doing this wrong, and it’s actually going to hurt him… The sharp stone nails lining Dial’s fingertips dig into his palm. I’m clenching it so hard, the claws are starting to puncture through to the other side of his hand. With a bit of conscious effort, I relax the giant hand, then look up at the whirlwind surrounding Oroesi.

The wind has picked up now. I have use Dial’s hand to shield Rosehip–the poor, confused little snowdrop dragon–from being pulled into the icy tornado. Most of the snowdrop flowers and a good portions of the rose-bush rooted on Dial’s head tear off and fly into the cyclone. I look down at the Devin golem down by hiding behind Dial’s feet. She’s trying the best her semi-autonomous mind can allow her to not to get sucked in as well.

Then, as sudden as it began, the wind stops and the snow flutters to the ground, revealing something within the eye of the once whirling cyclone. The tiny thing in the center begins to fall a beat after the drifting snowflakes. I reach out and gently catch it in Dial’s hand.

Oroesi»| has been reincarnated as a [Winter Axolotl] (infant)

 

“Oroesi, you’re…” I stare.

So tiny. He’s about the size of a kitten. He’s pale, very pale, so white he could blend in with the snow, with wide set black eyes above a dorky, grinning guppy mouth. Three tendrils fan out like palm fronds on either side of his face and he has a tail like a tad pole’s.

“Rrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeppp!” He chirps at me as he slaps one of his front feet a couple of times from where he rests on Dial’s palm. Of course, I don’t feel a thing, but it’s cute to see, nonetheless. He puffs out his fronds like he’s proud of himself. I give a laugh. That’s my Oroesi. Always trying to prove he’s a tough guy.

I lower him to the ground, then transfer my conscious back over Devin just so I can hug him. My core is still in Dial, just my mind is back in my old golem.

“I’m glad you’re back,” I say, squeezing him a little more that I should. He gives a dissatisfied grunt, but bares with it. I feel like a huge rock has been lifted off my shoulders. I’ve lost a lot of my family, but at least Oroesi’s back. Albeit in a much different form… Though, this one makes me want to cuddle with him always.

I snuggle with him for several minutes more before I sigh and push some mana into him. I’m careful. I haven’t tried this before, because I was too nervous. It felt kind of wrong to directly interfere with another creature, and I was really scared that I would make a mistake and ruin them forever, but now I think it’s worth the chance. I don’t want to lose him again, so this time, I’ll make him stronger.

Shakily, I guide the mana into his body. He shifts uncomfortably in my arms, but otherwise stays still. I close my eyes and feel how his body breathes and pulses. It feels me with a sense of wonder and joy that I spend several minutes more just watching him. He’s alive!

I give a grin, and wander a little deeper. I can feel his hidden talents, there buried underneath the beating of his heart, but for now, I leave them be. I focus on his bones first, and there I discover something that makes me extremely happy.

Mana is stranger than I thought. I’ve always been using it more as a third hand. Well, actually as my only hand if you only look at my core… I create and shape things like I would on a pottery wheel, slowly working it until I have a decent vase or whatever. Either that, or the effects trigger automatically in a mana fueled skill without me really understanding how it works.

Maybe it was because Oroesi’s mine, because my mana helped recreate him, or maybe that he’s been with me for a long time now, but working the mana felt different inside him. I thought I’d have to reshape his bones, maybe even reinforce them with diamond, which I honestly don’t know if that would be a good thing or not. He might have collapsed under the weight, now that I think about it.

The mana falls like snow on his bones, melting into them. As I feed in more, sprouts emerge from the mana and bone. They grow as more mana is added. I twirl them around and around and thread them through the cells of the bone. The mana seeps in even deeper, carving out slight groves to allow the mana to flow through the bones easier. It looked almost as if someone had decorated his bones in with carved vines.

[Oroesi]’s bones have become Mana Strengthened. (+2 to strength and defense, +20 health, 10% more mass)
Ever wonder why dungeons only seem to have one type of monster? – Ifanc, explorer of oldCongratulations! Late bloomers and the most beautiful.

[Dungeon Evolution]: With the amount of time it took for you to learn this, you would be the runt of the litter if there was one. (Allows for dungeons to evolve their creatures in the direction they wish. No technical knowledge required.)

 

Wait for it.

Wait for it…

I facepalm. I stand there for several seconds, then groan, rubbing my hand over my face. I tilt my head back and stare at the sky.

“You could have told me earlier!” I yell. “You could have told me so many things earlier! It would have made everything soooo much easier!!! Thanks SOOOOO much for that! All this time, here I was taking the freaking slow route! Through Natural Evolution!!”

You’re Welcome

 

“Ha! You think you’re so funny!” I say with a frustrated, suppressed sort of half scream. [Dungeon Evolution]. [Dungeon evolution]. That implies it’s a skill for dungeons. What am I? A level 32 dungeon that has just learned freaking [dungeon evolution]. Sound familiar? [Mana absorption] ring a bell? Anyone? Anyone??? I grind my teeth.

My thoughts flash back to what little I remember before I came a core. That one instant, single point in time that I couldn’t even tell if it was real, where a mass amount of strange feelings came pouring into my being. I fought, raged, against them, pushing most of it out again. The little bits that were left were the strange instincts of a newly born dungeon.

That meant the rest of those life saving instincts had flow out the window. Including all the stupid skills like [dungeon evolution] and [mana absorption] that I know for a fact I was supposed to have learned long ago. All out the window. You know. OUt tHe FreAKINg WinDOW! I almost died several times, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Oroesi rubs his head against my cheek as I stew. He’s definitely gotten bigger since I strengthened his bones. Now he’s more of a small house cat, maybe little dog sized. The type that bark incessantly.

“I’m glad you didn’t turn into one of those,” I say, looking down at him, before returning to my glowering at the screen mocking me with “You’re Welcome.” Oroesi gives a giiiiiiiirrrrup sound, kind of like he’s gurgling and blowing spit bubbles at the same time. It’s a weird sound, but kinda cute. He rubs his head again, and his frills tickle my cheek.

“Don’t worry, I’m not sulking,” I say. “But, just so you know, if I ever somehow meet whoever is behind these screens, know that I WILL beat him, or her, to an inch of their life. It’s just a tiny bit of payback, nothing harmful.” I smile sweetly at Oroesi. He cocks his head up at me.

Please don’t.

 

I sigh and look to the sun that’s just starting to peek over the horizon.

“You seem to be talking more.” I look back at the blue screens. “Hey, are you an actual person?” I get no response.

“Figures. Alright, Oroesi. Let’s leave this place. It’s been attacked way too often for my liking.” I carry him over to Dial, and we ride his hand up to the top of his head like an elevator. I carve out a bit of Dial’s stone helm to look a bit like a crest, which also functions as a nice reclining chair. I sit down on it with Oroesi on my lap. Rosehip flies over and curls up for a nap on my shoulder. I pat her head. She’s had a rough day. Or couple of days, now that I think about it.

“Alright, Oroesi, which way to you think we should go?” He gurgles as he pats my left hand.

“West it is.” I start directing Dial to walk. Already the sun is starting to climb low over the horizon to the south. In the next few hours, it’ll be dark again.

“Should we head a bit south? It’d be nice to have more sunlight?” I rub my chin. “Or I guess we could just wait until summer. The sun’s up all the time then. I don’t know how long away that is though. Hm… Welp I miss the sun. And green things. Heading a bit south shouldn’t hurt. I’d be attacked by those worms no matter where I go, anyway.” I shift Dial a bit more towards the south.

We sit in silence as we travel. I hesitate a bit as we reach the furthest point where my domain has ever spread. The feeling assaults me that the first time in my life I’m going to be moving outside  my domain. The thought scares me, and for a moment, I want to run back to the place Harbor once stood, the place I opened my eyes for the first time, the place where I had live all my life so far. It’s only been a few measly months, a half a year at most, but the place has always been my home. I look longingly back, and even though there’s nothing there but ice, I feel like I can almost see the mountains that once rose up.

Oroesi crawls up onto my shoulder and rests his head on mine, looking out over what was once my domain with me, then he pats my eyebrow comfortingly. I sigh and pat him back.

“Yeah, I know. We should go.” I start Dial walking once again, holding my breath as we cross the nonexistent barrier at the edge of what was once my domain. For a second there, I had a feeling, a fear and a hope all mixed together in one, that I wouldn’t be able to cross that line, much like long ago, I wasn’t able to leave that first igloo I made.

I look back at the invisible line receding behind us and marvel at how much I’ve changed since then. I scrunch up my face then turn back around again, moving Dial to quicken his pace.

“And off we go.” Oroesi gives an agreeing blleeek and crawls back into my lap. I lean back and return to pushing mana into the axolotl, this time, threading it through his muscles like a shuttle through a loom, humming as I go. He, on the other hand, starts to practice blowing spit bubbles. I smile and shake my head a bit.

Watching him, however, I notice that his bubbles are getting larger and more opaque as he blows, until eventually, they detach and began to float away like true soap bubbles and pop. He keeps at it until they last longer and longer before popping and soon we’re surrounded by floating bubbles. They trail after us like a gossamer shawl floating in the wind. He gleeks in delight.

I reach up and pop one of the bubbles with a finger. A light mist from the bubble coats my finger. I stare, shocked when my finger begins to stiffen. I try to move it, when abruptly, my finger snaps off, bouncing off Dial and falling to the snow behind us. My mouth hangs open at the missing finger on my hand. Oroesi stares too, his eyes wide in horror at what his bubbles had done. He hurries over and begins to lick the stump like he’s trying to make the finger come back.

“Oroesi,” I say, “Your bubbles are freaking scary. That’s some freezing power they have, somehow insta-freezing even ice… You know, I’m not even going to question how that’s possible. I don’t even know anymore.” I shake my head and reform Devin’s finger out of mana, then turn back to working mana into Oroesi. While doing so, I subtly push a bit of air around us to make the bubbles avoid us.

Oroesi licks my finger in apology.

“Don’t worry about it.” I pat him. “Actually, keep practicing. It’ll keep you safer in the future.” I grin down at him and finish feeding the last bit of mana in to his muscles.

[Oroesi]’s muscles have become Mana Strengthened. (+2 to strength, +3 to endurance, +20 health, 10% more mass)

 

I smile as Oroesi grows a bit bigger. Oroesi gleeks and shakes his legs a bit to get used to the new size. I look around a notice the sun about to set. I have been at it longer than I thought.

The landscape has changed too. It’s still very icy, but bits of rock are beginning to poke up out of the ice. The wind blows through the land differently as well, carving out strange ice formations as it swirls from further north. Curling arches and hanging cliffs appear as we head south. I stare jealously at ices caves with mouths lined with sharp icicles. If only I had been born in one of those instead.

Something else catches my eye. It’s small and stunted and shriveled looking, but that’s definitely a tree. I know that Dial has massive strides, and that we’ve traveled quite far in the last few hours, but I still wasn’t expecting to find one so soon.

I start as a blue screen pops up.

You have left the Rhew and entered the region known as the Ikwir, or the Northern Border. Life flourishes. Take care to watch for increased traffic in monsters.

 

“Okay…then,” I murmur. I stare as we slowly pass the tree by. I look up to my right, up on top of a rising bluff carved out of snow. I squint against the setting sun and can almost make out something standing there. Light ripples of the snow, and whatever it was is gone.

I give a shudder. If I wasn’t just seeing things, that thing was massive. Oroesi bleeks at the bluff.

“You saw that too? We should be fine. Even if it’s huge, we have something just as big.” I pat Dial on its massive head. “Let’s keep going.”

The landscape gets stranger as we go along. We pass under icy overhangs that creek and groan, straining under the weight of snow piled on top. We pass by thick pillars of ice carved by wind into shapes that vaguely resemble growing creatures or buildings of a far distant age. Hillocks, smooth and covered in blankets of snow remind me of sleeping giants or monsters like up on the bluff.

Snow slips off as we pass another of these hillocks resting off a ways in the distance, and for a second, I swear I saw an eye starting at me from underneath. I stop and stare at it as the last ray of sunlight disappears from the horizon, some time after even, until some sort of bird hoots in the distance.

“We should keep going,” I say while turning away. I start us moving again. I’ve never had problems with the dark, usually surrounded by various glowing things, ut now I’m hesitant to light anything up. Things are beginning to move in the dark. This wasn’t something I had thought would happen considering the extreme cold. Every little sound makes me start. Even Dial’s slow crunching through the snow brings no comfort. I have to fight the urge to stop Dial every time I hear something.

A few paces later, and my breathing is even heavier. Oroesi crawls back up to my shoulders to stand as lookout. He croons and pats my head worriedly. Rosehip has continued to sleep through it all.

A few more steps, and I’m feeling woozy. White spots flicker in my vision, and non-existant bile rises in my throat. The feeling rises straight from my core. Both the sentinel and the golem are affected. Devin slumps where she’s sitting as Dial’s steps begin to falter. He can barely support his own weight anymore.

Oroesi gives a surprised graaaaaak as the next step sends us crashing down into the snow.

“I think, maybe we should stop for the night,” I say, wiping off a face full of snow. The sick feeling settles a bit now that we;re not moving. We all freeze when we hear a wolf howl from very, very close.

“And that settles it. How much are you willing to bet those wolves are much nastier than I think they are?” My voice cracks. I scramble up, only to crash back over into a pile of snow.

Warning: Domain Sick – you have gone too long without the support of a domain. Time spent outside an established domain will result in Mana Degradation.

 

My head swims as I try to read the words on the screen that just appeared. I’m distracted as another howl sounds, this time even closer.

“Dial!” I yell, “Dig!” I struggle to point to the snow bank in front of us. At this point, I’m barely even thinking clearly, much less controlling the sentinel. This results in  dishing out a series of increasingly slurred commands. as my head pounds like a drum.

“Ooroeesi,” I twist over to look at him shaking off the snow, “Where iss Rosehhip? Finnnd Rosehipp.” He looks over at me with a gleek, and then bounds off looking for the tiny dragon. She’s going to be hard to find. I grimace, and try to flip myself over.

A few attempts later, and I successfully roll myself out of the snow drift I landed in. Oroesi snuffles in the snow, digging awkwardly. He pauses every few seconds to stare into the darkened distance, before returning to digging with renewed vigor. Dial digs behind me, sending large handfuls, or more like boatfuls, of snow and ice flying yards away.

I sway woozily, watching as it flies through the air, before turning to stare off into the dark. I squint. Those are… eyes? Yellow eyes p-popping up one after another, growing brighter as it gets even darker. If it weren’t for the eyes, I don’t think I’d be able to see them. They blend into the snow so easily, that you couldn’t even tell they were there even when they moved. I am staring at, easily, over thirty wolves the size of grizzly bears. I shiver as they slowly circle closer. Oroesi digs even faster.

“Diiiiaaaaaaaaaaall!” I yell. “Dial, Wooollvvvves!” He spins around from the bank just as the wolves launch themselves forward. Oroesi bleeks in shock, digs as fast as he can for a second longer, then lunges to grab the freshly uncovered Rosehip out of the snow.

Dial drops down onto all fours as Oroesi makes a mad dash back towards me. Dial roars. The wolves flinch at the sound, giving Oroesi the second he needs to make it back. he drops Rosehip in my lap before scuttling back to make an aggressive stance in front of me.

I wince as Dial makes clumsy swings at the wolves. I;m going to have to teach him how to fight later. I launch long magma projectiles at the wolves, nailing a couple of them. The rest, however, nimbly dodge the spears. They hiss and sizzle in the snow, but provide a dim, glowing barrier between us and the wolves. They hesitantly circle around it.

I send more projectiles out as Oroesi begins blowing a large amount of bubbles. The wolves dodge my projectiles while ignoring the bubble drifting towards them. Or at least, they did until one of the bubbles pops against a wolf’s head. It promptly freezes everything the bubble’s mist touches, a good half the head, which then crumbles to pieces when the wolf tries to move. It then keels over. Everything but Dial freezes at the sight. I don’t think even Oroesi was expecting that kind of power from the bubbles.

Dial manages to bring a palm swinging down and smashes five wolves during that time period. The wolves launch themselves at the sentinel, clawing and smashing chunks out of its skin. And, Dial just stands there. This isn’t working. I stare nauseous at the scene as Oroesi blows out more bubbles. A few wolves detach themselves and send blades of light from their claws, popping swathes of bubbles. I try to launch more projectiles, but motion sickness overwhelms me. I didn’t know dungeon cores could get motion sick. I think manipulating mana makes me more sick.

Alright, trying different approach, since Dial doesn’t know how to fight properly. I concentrate, trying my best to ignore the dizziness, and shift my consciousness back over to Dial. I takes me a second, but I manage to slip in. I swallow down the need to faint and open my eyes.

It hurts! I can feel the stupid wolves biting me! But, this is good, good. It’s waking me up. I grit my teeth and howl at the wolves. I unfurl Dials tail and send it swinging at the wolves slowly getting closer to Oroesi through the field of bubbles. They squeal oddly as they are launched into the air towards me. I smack them down into the snow. They sit there twitching. One was even buried up to his neck in snow.

A bite on my thigh brings me back to the ones swarming me. I rip one off my arm and send it flying into the bubble field. Several bubbles burst, and the wolf practically disintegrates into chunks of ice. I rip another two off and send them flying as far as I can. They disappear into the night, leaving only faint yelps from when they land seconds later.

Annoyed, I glare at the wolves below me, smacking a few of them as they came in from different angles. They slam hard into the icy side of the bluff, hard enough to stick. Then, I jump. The movement shakes wolves off my legs and chest, and one was unlucky enough to be directly below me when I fell back down. I avoid looking at the squished pile of wolf.

At this point, I’m starting to run out of steam. The pain is no longer enough to keep me from almost keeling over, but I hold steady as best I can. There are just less than half the wolves left, but they are clearly less enthusiastic about attacking. We form a impasse, each side staring at the other, warily waiting for the other to move. Before they can start gathering their courage for another attack, I lean forward slightly and roar in their faces.

The wolves yelp and scatter into the dark. Moments later, so does my consciousness.

Status Menu
Name: Haven [Locked]–Dial Race: Legendary Dungeon Level: 32 Attribute: Green
Health: 583/852 (13/min) Mana: 87/1136 (15/min) State: Dungeon Sick; Mana Degradation – Severe nausea, confusion, motion sickness; difficulty directing mana, stored mana dissipates*
Biomes: 3 Floors: ?%Ξ] Named Monsters: 3
Monsters: 0 Animals: 0* Plants: 0*
[Ξ]
Path Points: 13; Aegis Points: 1*
Paths: {Beginner VI (0/30)} {Ingenuity V (0/130)} {Valiant III (0/200)} {Defender VI (0/100)} {Architect III (0/150)} {Strategist III (30/95)} {Survivor II (30/50)} {Destroyer I (55/100)} {Failure III (14/30)} {Aegis (0/5000)}*
Skills:  [Ambient Aura IX] [Gardener VI] [Karma IV] [Natural Projectile VII] [Core Teleportation] [Epithet] [Elemental Manipulation X] [Biome Creation] [Fluid Floors] [Golem Creation] [Loyalty] [Tranquility] [Warding V] [Forewarn IV]* [Mana Absorption] [Standstill III] [Cooking II] [Purity] [Create] [Bravery] [Dungeon Evolution]*
Achievements: |Ingenuity!| |Powerful!| |Dauntless!| |Against the Odds!| |Crack Shot!| |Breeder!| |Safe Guard!| |Creator of Wonders!| |Leader!| |Besieged!| |Bloody!| |Fall of a Domain!| |River Keeper!|*
Causes:  Against the World»| — 5
[Ξ]
Auras: |Aura of Light| |Aura of Warmth| |Aura of Fury| |Aura of Souls| |Aura of Protection| |Aura of the Lost| |Calming Aura| |Aura of the Seed| |Aura of Rebirth|
Fire: Main, Magma, Lightening Water: Main, Ice, Acid, Liquid Nitrogen Earth: Main, Plants, Minerals, Metal, Wax, Chalk, Jade, Diamond, Amber Gold Air: Main, Toxic Gas

 

<- Previous | Next ->

Advertisements

2.10 – The Gwisin

There are three rules if you ever leave these walls. First: don’t leave the road. Second: Don’t leave the road. And the most important: Do Not. Leave. The Road. It won’t guarantee that you’ll stay safe–even the towns aren’t safe–but sticking to the roads means you’ll have a whole lot better chance at surviving, because in these parts, monsters are the least of your worries. It’s the puca you should be worried about. This whole area has been given to them. They’ve been using it since long ago, and those nations out there have let them have it to keep them under control. Those pricks are guarding the border to make sure we never leave, all because we live in the puca’s ancient breeding grounds.

— Tradesman to his apprentice

 

I was young. They told me to never leave the road. I left the road. There are worse things in the dark than monsters. So, much worse, and with their fingers stuck in your mouth, they force you to smile. When I was found and returned to my parents, they say I changed. I don’t remember what I was like before.

That was long ago, so long ago, I’m used to the break. The break in my mind that only widens as the rain pours gently down. My black clothes, ripped and covered in blood, is slowly soaked in the down pour. My black hair sticks to my face, long enough to brush my lip. I peek through it. The man lying here had followed me. He wanted to rob me. I laugh and the man, the dead man, lies there bleeding in the rain. I search his pockets. Find a pouch of money. I take his knife as well. Then, I eat.

Red, red meat. Blood dribbles down my chin. A dark taste, and it goes down hard, but I eat anyway. It’s the only thing I can. My eyes roll back as I swallow. A chill runs through me.

Then, I get it. So much red. (more…)

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.”

(more…)

2.7 – Step One: Create a Golem

Let me tell you kids, your dad is strong. Super strong. Nothing can beat him. Even dragons go down with a single slice of my sword. There was only one time in his life that your dad has ever had trouble, and that was when he went against the dreaded, fifty foot tall diamond iron golem. It was a fight, and I almost lost, but your dad hacked and slashed with all his might, magnificently dodging each of its striking fists that were bigger than the biggest Gowrow by only a hair. After days of fighting each other to nearly a draw, I finally got behind its massive beast of a head and chopped it right off. If I hadn’t, I’m sure that its next strike woulda killed me right then and there. And that’s the only reason I’m alive to tell the tale.

– Calib Sorenson’s bedtime story

 

Alright, time to slap my cheeks. I can do this. So what, the world is against me. That’s nothing new. It’s been like this the moment I first woke up. All that’s been added to that list is the big chance that people I know will turn against me at any given moment. Honestly, if I’m expecting it, it’s not that hard to handle. I just won’t give them the chance to cause any lasting damage with it. And judging by Nattiq’s attitude when he snapped out of it, he felt guilty. With that puppy face, I can’t really blame him for what happened. Next time it happens, though, I’m going to punch him in the face. I’ll deal with that later though, the problem of why he was possessed. I think I have an idea, but… No, let’s not deal with that right now.

Thank heavens that Oroesi is doing okay now. For a minute it was touch and go. I don’t think he would have survived if he didn’t have [thick skin]. For now, his bleeding has stopped and his wound is looking much better. I think a lot of luck comes from it being a clean slice.

I really wish he hadn’t protected me, but with out that, I think I would have died. This won’t do. I’m simply too unprotected in this state. Heck, anyone could waltz up and poke me, and I’ll shatter to pieces. Let’s fix that then. I reach out and grab some ice and knead it around with imaginary fingers.

(more…)

2.6 – The Legends of the Hynafol

What happened to the Hynafol?
Why, they disappeared.
Why did the Hynafol go?
They had something they feared.
What scared the Hynafol?
The eyes up in the sky.
What did it do to the Hynafol?
It made everyone die.

– Song the Gorsydd Ruins morgen sings

“How’s Ah’m?”

“He should be fine in a few days or so. He’s got a quick health regeneration rate. It’s the only reason he’s been alive as long as he has. Normally he’d be up and about in a few hours, but he got hit pretty bad, stabbed right through the stomach.”

“Oh. Where’s he now?”

“I put him in the room we came in, the one kinda like up here with all the pillows. Looked the comfiest.”

“Will he be safe there?”

“Should be fine for now. Nothing really lives down there. Not for miles, anyway. You were just unlucky with the naitaka. What are you going to do with him?” Nattiq nods towards Oroesi.

“Ah, he’s a guardian now, I guess. That reminds me.” I pull the owl cat from my space and put it on a pillow. “I have another.”

“Woah, is that an owl cat? How’s you do that? It popped out of nowhere.”

“You could call it sleight of hand.” I grin. Oroesi takes one look at the griffin and bares his teeth.

“Girl or boy?”

“Timp’s a girl. I also have these.” I pull out the pigmy bunnies as well.

“No really. How are you doing that? You can’t call it sleight of hand. You don’t have any hands.”

“Just something I can do, I guess. Ah, Oroesi, don’t eat the poor bunny! I only have two. At least wait until they mate or something.” I quickly make a new room below this treetop patio and pull the bunnies into it so that they’re out of Oroesi’s reach. It’s a good thing I did, ’cause Timp also looked ready to pounce. I call up some sliver fish with a pot of soil and carpet the bunnies’ floor.

“I think I’ll have to do some redecorating. My room arrangement is not the most logical at the moment,” I say, mentally dusting off my hands and settling into the pillows. I watch as Timp takes a swipe at Oroesi.

“You can move your rooms around?”

(more…)

2.5 – Falling to Pieces

“Stop them! Don’t let them into the camp. Frick, there’s not even that many of them. We’re being over run. Argh! Ug. Stop Ret, go help Sam. I’m alright. It just grazed me. Go, go, he’s being swarmed. I can handle it here. RAAAAAAAH. Die you stupid things! This is why I told that ridiculous official Bakers that an outpost can’t be set up in the Rhew, no matter how rare amber gold is. It’s! Just! Not worth it! Noooo! Dang it, Hubert! Kale, Hubert’s down! He went under! That wretched monster cracked a hole in the ice and he fell in. What? No way. He’s dead Kale. You can’t get him. He’ll have frozen to death in seconds. Stay here and guard Lilith! We need her alive! She’s the only thing keeping the freaking eira at bay! So stay at your post!”

– Georgian Millt, failed Rhew expedition

 

So, Little one wants me to fight?

“That’d be helpful, yes. I’ll help, but I don’t really have the means to fight off that many at the moment…”

“I’ll help too. I’ve got nothing better to do, and this looks like it’d be fun!” Nattiq grins. “Ah’m, give me a ride, will ya?” He launches himself onto the whale dog’s back and pulls out two short, slim swords from… somewhere. One moment he had nothing in his hands, and the next, with a slight twist or something, he was spinning the short swords in his hands.

“How…?”

“Oh, you mean these? I’m not a mage or anything, just quick with my hands is all.” He gives a wink.

Idiot ’tis wanting to look impressive for Little one. Ah’m blows out a puff of air in exasperation.

“I am not trying to show off. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I know. I ’tis many cycles older. He puffs himself up.

“Yeah, and who here has messed up? You, you stupid whale dog.”

I kill more.

“Yeah? You think? Wanna try that out? There’s a whole army waiting outside for us to test that on.”

I ready for challenge. ‘Tis idiot?

“You bet your gills on it.”

I ’tis not have gills, though.

“You’ll wish you did though, ’cause soon you’ll be too scared to come up for air,” Nattiq says smugly.  (more…)

2.3 – Under the Banyan

Oh, the Aoyin sits under the old Banyan tree
Eating all the turtle-cattle he can see.
Shake, turtle-cattle, shake.
Flee from the four-horned beast.

– Hiisi Nursery Rhyme

 

When one wants to go up, one must first go down. Why? Stability! And, well, resources too, but mainly stability at the moment. I hesitate, staring anxiously at my obnoxious, unwanted hole. For a second I wonder if I really want to do this. If I do, there is an enormous possibility that I will have just landed myself in another whole heap of trouble, but if I don’t, I feel like I’ll stagnate and die whenever the next wave of whatever comes. Most likely eiras at the moment. Then again, they’ll swarm anyway if I do this.

Think positive. Be proactive. I’ve been just riding the flow, and that needs to change if I want to survive in this world. So, time to face my fears. Ice powers, activate!

I reach out and tug at the ice around the hole, pulling it down and at the same time widening the hole. I grit my teeth in my head as I do. There’s a war of instincts raging in my head, the desire for growth versus the absolute loathing to expand this cursed hole. But I keep going, pulling the ice down and down and down, picking up more and more ice as I go, and packing the sides of the hole so they’re thick, hard, and stable. It’s a long way down, but not nearly as long as I had hoped. Looks like my buffer between me and the sea below wasn’t as thick as I once thought. Soon enough, my influence has flooded the whole expanse of the hole and I’m through to the waters below.

Hesitantly, I look around with whatever sense I use to view my domain remotely. I hadn’t ever taken notice of it before, but that sense was quite a bit different from the one I used to view the immediate surroundings around my core. It was like my remote viewing was in black and white without any sound, or maybe more like if you could somehow see what the feeling of something walking across your skin looked like. It was strange, not at all like the bright colors and normal vision I used to see my immediate surroundings.

Underneath the ice was even stranger. I could feel the lighting was blue tinged with green even if I couldn’t exactly see it. And it was cold. So, very cold. But not desolate like one would think. It was thriving. I could feel the life pulsing through the water even though there was nothing living in my direct vicinity except strange clear anemones grasping the underside of the ice.

(more…)

2.2 – Of the Lost and the Soul

We were lost. There was nowhere to go, no place to turn. Everything looked the same. I about broke down, but I couldn’t allow myself the luxury. Not when she needed my help just to keep sane. She was already losing it, already starving for lack of food these past fifteen days. My only gratitude was that we did not lack water. The morning dew was plenty to keep us quenched throughout the day as we wandered. Only, it also chilled to the bone, and each day her cough was growing worse. So, I plodded along with her on my back, hoping desperately for some sort of salvation. I thought it a hallucination at first when I stumbled upon the salvation we had been granted. It rested there inconspicuously between the massive boulders of our continued maze, a strange tree of ice.

Tennik Farthen

 

I didn’t even think about moving for a long time–or rather than moving, I just stared at the wall, not even daring to think. I had this weird feeling that if my brain began processing again, that something, that terrifying stare would come back and rip through everything that I am. It was a feeling similar to a child afraid to move out from under the blankets because of the monster under the bed. I knew that something was long gone. I knew it wasn’t coming back, at least not for a long while, but the fear to move out from under the blanket was still there. So, I stayed, staring at the wall, thinking of nothing while my nonexistent heart still pounded in my imaginary throat.

I didn’t come to my senses until I found Niko nudging me, informing me that he and all the other fishes were hungry. It broke me out of my reverie, and the childlike fear drifted away. I sigh and sent half of them down the hole, then turn my attention to my two guests. They were still conked out on the floor. How long had it been? A few hours at least. It was getting close to sunrise. I could feel it.

“Grow towards the sun, huh,” I mumble. And with that thought, [Elemental Manipulation] was brought back to my attention.

The elements are an unusual classification with a set of rules not determined by the laws of the universe, but by the strange manipulations of the System. In short, they are not at all logical. – Althea the Astronomer

Congratulations! Your affinity for the elemental is astounding. Your domain knows no bounds.

 [Elemental Manipulation X]: You now have control over any of the four main elements–Fire, Water, Earth, Air–as well as any of their subsets that you understand for a slight cost of mana. (highest level, 10 cmR/ 1 mana; requires actual element for manipulation)

Current Understanding:

Fire: Main Water: Main, Ice Earth: Main, Plant  Air: Main

(more…)

2.1 – Bone-Faced Worg

Canis Osvultus, or the bone-faced worg. Often colloquially called a skulldog or a skullwolf, the bone-faced worg is smaller than its worg cousin (Canis Vargr). Hardier in nature than true worgs, with notable regeneration, the bone-faced worg is an often difficult enemy to face. Bone-faced worgs are characterized by dark brown to black fur with little to no fur on their faces–creating a skull like appearance–as well as what many have said to be glowing red eyes. 

– Compendium of Monsters, 778

 

Some may call me an angry man. They’d be right, and they’d get a broken arm for it. It isn’t my fault my father is Curo Llid. The Curo Llid, greatest wall commander in all the Seven Sisters. Ha. People talk about him like he’s some kind of hero, all because twenty years ago, he managed to drive off a dragon. It was only a lindwyrm.

What’s so great about driving off a lesser dragon? Killing it would’ve been better. People who disagree with me can shut their trap, or I’ll shut it for them. Sure, tell me I have anger issues. If you have a problem with that, you know where to find me: Third stool from the wall at the bar of the tavern The Lamia’s Scale, located in a worse part of Celaeno.

Tonight, I’m on my third mug, and the thing I hate most right now is being disturbed, with my father as a close second.

“Dicter! Dicter Llid! Is Dicter Llid in here?” I studiously ignore the man, but my fist tightens around my drink. Whoever it is stomps into the room and asks a regular the same question, then continues his floor-bruising march in my direction. A hand slams down on my shoulder.

“Are you Dicter Llid?”

“Tsk. Can you be any louder?” I can feel the man scowl as I stare into the amber liquid of my drink.

“Are you Dicter Llid?” He repeats.

“What’s it to you?”

“Your father is Curo Llid?” I nearly punch him then and there. This man. My taboos. He did both. He interrupted my drinking, and then, he had the gall to mention my father to my face.

(more…)

1.10 – River of Souls

There’s something different about the System than it was in times of old. Long ago, the ancients made use of the System to create massive civilizations that spanned continents, each city a piece of art more wondrous than the next. Now, we are little more than tribal beings, content to war with our neighbors. The System used to inspire to create, to reward those that did. Now, it rewards senseless slaughter for something as little as experience. We used to be one people no matter the race. Now, we fight brother against brother. What caused this change?

– Petra, The Sage of the Wild

 

I need rejuvenation. I need to see the sun. It’s been too long. I think I’m getting winter depression. If my internal clock is right, though, it won’t be up for another four hours. I content myself filling in the other half of my garden with silt. It doesn’t take long, and I figure out that I can add bits of |aura of warmth| to hopefully help my plants grow. And grow they have! The banana sprout has grown. Little leaves are poking out of the soil.

And the lichen, my lichen. It’s completely ignored the soil in the dish and latched onto the rock itself, looking like little grey explosions of growth. I give a little laugh. My plants are growing. Peace floods me. This. This is what I’m meant to do. Raising these little guys, protecting them. Giving them a safe place in this unforgiving wilderness. Grow well, little guys.

Then I growl, my happy mood dissipating instantly. Something once again has entered my domain. Really? I can’t even go two hours without something intruding? My fish swarm, sensing my agitation.

Little one! Little on! Call your guards off!

“Ah’m?”

Yes, Little one. Call them off. I apologize for intruding once again. I have need to speak with Little one. 

“Fishies, let Ah’m up,” I sigh. Ah’m lumbers into my garden after a few minutes with difficulty. I almost laugh. The whale dog is covered in silk webs. Looks like Niko did his job. I’ll have to reward him later.

“Watch the plants.”

Plants? Ah’m looks at me in confusion. Ah, greens, little little greens. Little one has grown much to make greens. Much like land-dwellers. The whale dog swings its head around and grunts in appreciation at my plants. It’s then I notice there’s something hanging from its mouth that was covered my silk earlier. Is… is that a seal? Please don’t tell me it brought its lunch…

“Ah’m.” I jolt. The seal just spoke. It’s not dead? “Ah’m! Let me down already!”

“What? Why?”

See. I brought Land-dweller. Ah’m drops the seal and gives a grin of self-satisfaction, showing a mouth full of threatening teeth which I tried to ignore. Did it just call the seal a land-dweller? That makes absolutely no sense.

“Oh, come on, Ah’m,” the seal harrumphed. “How long have you known me now? Do you really not remember my name? Now, where’s this Little one that you wanted me to meet? I’d like to introduce myself, but I don’t seem to see her, though I heard her voice earlier.”

The seal suddenly stretched itself with its face pointing to the ceiling, and then something… happened. It’s skin spit straight down its stomach. That’s the best way I have of describing it. It was disturbing. I watched in rapt horror as two pale arms reached and lifted the head of the seal away like a like the hood of a coat. The thing stood up out of the seal skin, and I realized it was a man standing there with pale blond hair and dressed in various animal skins. He reached down and picked up the seal fur and draped it over his shoulders.

There. ‘Tis Little one. Ah’m gestured to me with its snout. What the heck just happened?!? (more…)