Immediately after Randidly landed the attack on Aegian’ts face, he spun and pressed his feet against Aegiant’s chest. Although it was not empowered with an image, the unstoppable spear thrust whistled just off of his right shoulder and caused Randidly to experience a tiny thrill of fear.
Spear Advances, Ash Trails.
Randidly exploded directly toward the ground just as the Earthquakes began to rumble with vicious force. The ground cracked and buckled as the stone scaffolding that held this place above the lava disintegrating under so much strain at once.
With a plop, Randidly pierced through the broken ground and into the lava beneath.
Just in time, too, because the area immediately around Aegiant was annihilated as he brought the entire weight and heat of the sun crashing down in an effort to kill Randidly. What areas of the ground in the plaza that weren’t already destroyed were smashed into powder and then melted into paste.
In the aftermath, Aegiant floated slowly down toward the lava with burning eyes, his gaze flicking back and forth as he searched for any sign of Randidly. The dull red and black of the molten metal bubbled noncommittally.
Below, something very strange was happening.
As per Randidly’s earlier predictions, he had ended up finding out what it was like to dive into the lava. Even from here, the blast of force from Aegiant’s attack had hit him like a baseball bat to the chest. And although Aegiant was clearly singed, there was no true damage or any sign that he was slowing down anytime soon.
Randidly’s Health was visibly being burnt away by the lava, even as Chosen of Ash gained several levels to cope with it. For all that this was a possible way to defeat Aegiant, Randidly didn’t have that kind of time.
The river of Aether between him and Azriel had just gone completely dry.
But Randidly didn’t know how to hurry this up.
To make matters worse, the Aether constructs of his arm had been blown away by Aegiant’s strike against the area. True, he could now spare the attention to pull them back toward himself and try and heal the arm, but it wouldn’t matter; he couldn’t heal it while the wound was being roasted by lava.
There was another blow against Randidly’s lungs as Aegiant struggled against Breath of the Spear Phantom. When it failed, Aegiant’s face was contorted by rage. But, with an effort of will, he suppressed that and shrugged. With a gesture of his hand, he conjured an avatar of himself, likely composed of a Skill.
The so-called prowess of a Master.
“So, you hide?” The projection said, folding its arms. It was filmy and weak, likely not a very powerful Skill. But it didn’t actually have lungs and wasn’t bound by Breath of the Spear Phantom.
...this fucker just wants to monologue? Randidly thought with disbelief.
“That’s fine. Truly, you are strong. I have… enjoyed this. Or rather… it has made me anticipate your death so much more than I had expected. It will truly be a treat,” Faux-Aegiant said with bared teeth. Then, the real Aegiant floated downward and stuck his spear into the lava.
“How long will you be able to stay down there, I wonder…?” The projection mused, even as Randidly could immediately feel the jump in heat as Aegiant began to direct his image of the sun to burn.
From his vantage point, Randidly could see that there was a slowly widening space around Aegiant’s spear where the lava evaporated, and then caught fucking fire from the intense heat. Which increased the speed of the expansion, and also meant Randidly’s Health was ticking away at an increasingly fast clip.
Chosen of Ash was doing its best, but…
And now, Randidly didn’t know what to do.
For several long seconds, he stared upward at Aegiant. He could summon more Lava Golems or other minions, but those wouldn’t do much. One of his greatest Skills, Influence of the World Seed, was very Mana inefficient at the moment. Due to the lava and sparse city around him, he would need to bring plants from far away. And even then, he would need a shit ton to pierce through this heat and do any damage.
Breath of the Spear Phantom would sap Aegiant’s Stamina eventually, but he hadn’t Leveled it enough for it to work on a timetable that he needed. And every moment that passed, Randidly was becoming increasingly worried about Azriel.
One option was to send Shal a message, but Randidly knew that Shal had his own fight. According to their plan, he would be required to fight against whoever was the victor between the First Propagator and the Spearman to control access to Azriel.
If someone Ascended and once more warped the image of Tellus toward violence while Shal returned to fight Aegiant, all would be lost anyway. Even if this planet moved up in the System, the cycle of sacrificing innocents to advance would continue.
So, what could Randidly do?
A spear always advances, Randidly thought with a sardonic smile. So for the second time, Randidly closed his eyes.
Lightning fast, Randidly dumped all the PP he had gathered in this fight into his War Leader Path. It wasn’t much, but it would have to be enough. It was all he could manage. On the way, he also earned some free stats, which he put into Strength so he could physically suppress Aegiant’s lungs.
In a frustrating twist of fate, he was two PP short from finishing his Path. Strangely, it felt like a huge loss. Frustration bubbled and festered in Randidly’s chest. He clenched his good hand, still wreathed in emerald fire, and added to the rising heat in the area. Even though he knew that finishing the War Leader Path wouldn’t have changed much, or given him any sort of Skill that would be immediately impactful-
And then Randidly’s Chosen of Ash leveled up again.
“It amuses me that I cook you now, like a goose,” Aegiant’s projection said with a chuckle. The heat around Randidly continued to increase. “I wish I had a good wine to pair your death with; ah well. I will follow my baser instincts and simply revel in your flesh.”
Randidly’s phantom arm throbbed even as more and more Aether flowed into it without any arm to heal. The Aether constructs were now spread across the plaza, slowly drifting back toward him. But Randidly could only grit his teeth and wait, even as he glared up at Aegiant and endured the pounding at his lungs as Aegiant continued to try and breath Breath of the Spear Phantom. Were the struggles getting weaker?
Or was that wishful thinking.
Fuck, I need a way out of this.
Pain Resistance gained a Skill Level. Instantly, Randidly finished his Path.
Congratulations! You have completed the War Leader Path! You are a warrior that will lead your people to victory. Although you have only fought thus far in small groups, soon the demands of fate will lead you on a Path toward larger battles. Do not falter; as long as you continue to walk, the world will provide you a Path, no matter how thin or treacherous the passage may be. Do not give up hope.
Congratulations! Your Willpower has increased by 20. Your Agility, Strength, Reaction, and Perception have increased by 10. You have learned the Skill Flowing Momentum (Un) Lvl 1!
Flowing Momentum: Those that follow you in battle will experience a slight increase in their stats as they follow behind you. The bonuses increase with Skill Level, capped at 10% of your stats. The area of effect will increase with Skill Level.
Randidly sighed. Well, it would be useful to train up, assuming he fought with others. Would it work on his minions? Plus, the bonus stats received were relevant to what he needed right now. It was a small but well-rounded boost. Of course, it wasn’t enough to turn the tide against Aegiant’s overwhelming Skills and images. But-
Then Randidly received another notification, and he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Congratulations! Your Alpha Cosmos slowly grows, bringing with it strength! As the Figure of the Alpha Cosmos, their growth is your growth; they are a portion of your physical body. You do not receive increased stats, but as the world inside of you grows, you will obtain additional bonuses.
Congratulations! You have poured 200 PP into developing your Soulskill, and the denizens of the Alpha Cosmos have benefitted tremendously. The Paths you take create Paths for them. Warning! Effects of growth will be unpredictable, and difficult to trigger. The next bonus will occur after the Soulskill has become Level 1500.
And then the final notification.
Congratulations! Due to the growth of your Soulskill, you have been awarded an extremely small percentage of PP as a tithe from all your denizens. You have earned 536 PP.
Randidly blinked, even as his Health decreased past one-fourth of his total. His Soulskill… periodically gave him large chunks of PP gathered from the people living inside of it…?