“Does this change anything? If it’s a matter of power… you barely have enough for a single skill. At any point, I could crush your resistance. You think this changes anything?”
Randidly didn’t answer, savoring the feeling of absorbing power from his connections to his four blessed individuals. As his perception continued to expand, Randidly found the two connections he had Thorn and Arbor, and began a similar process, slowly pushing Aether towards them, and having the red and green motes of light that floated back flow into the hole that now was fixed as his heart. It was oddly touching, the christmas themed lights from his plants, but Randidly was most shocked to discover that he could absorb from them the same as the other connection.
He had assumed that what he was absorbing was “life” and “meaning”, both sides of the same thing. So it made sense that he could absorb them from the people. But his plants were also providing both for him…? He would need to experiment more with the Soul Seed Skill, something that he had let lay fallow for far too long.
Randidly also had concerns that he was taking something vital from them, and that pressing against their connections until they popped had accelerated that process to the point that it was dangerous. But there was a strange certainty in his heart that this wasn’t the case. Healthy wasn’t the term, but perhaps he could be confident it was… natural, if symbiotic
That worried him too, but in a similar way, Randidly couldn’t give credence to that worry. After all, even if the Creature was that strange vibrational voice, something had happened, some forces had pushed them together, and now that vibrational voice spread out from his chest, filling the air. They were part of each other.
The Creature, however, was another entity entirely.
It seemed annoyed that Randidly was ignoring it, so it raised its hand and pointed. Golden chains rushed forward again, and Randidly sighed inwardly. The creature was right, he probably only had enough will to muster a single skill. Most of his Aether and strength were sealed off, he was just running off the byproduct energy from refining things from his connections. In Randidly’s mind, it would have much better to allow some more time to pass, allowing to increase his stores before he began this.
But there was no other choice.
“Inspiration…. I REJECT.”
Randidly’s inner world trembled, and then a huge explosion spread outward, smashing back the chains, knocking the bells and locks off of the different parts of his inner world, smashing into the creature. It squawked in an extremely surprised manner and was thrown back. A huge bubble slowly inflated, starting from Randidly’s chest.
Knocking the creature back did have one positive effect, however. He once more felt a connection to his physical body, and felt that he could return to it, should he need to. But Randidly couldn’t really use much of his strength, as all of his mana, and a good portion of his Stamina drained in order to fuel the Inspired Rejection. At some point, the bubble stopped inflating, and the creature looked at Randidly from a distance away, its eyes burning furiously.
Then it raised its hand and tapped a finger on the bubble.
The force of the collision knocked Randidly on his ass, and he struggled, back up, gasping for breath. He was much more prepared the second time the creature knocked on the glass, but still he paled. Because a thin crack formed on the bubble.
This fucker… Inspiration had basically solved all of his problems in the past. And now the creature was going to overcome it so easily?!? It was truly a monster far, far above his level of strength.
As it went to tap for a third time, Randidly spun around and rushed away, heading deeper into his inner world. He didn’t have time to waste. First, he appeared inside his visualization of his Soul Skill, as those pulsating Emerald crystals continued to sit. This was the refined version of the energy he was using now, Randidly surmised, and he needed those wisps to do what he wanted.
His would not be a perfect world for humanity to be transplanted to, hiding from the system, but Randidly couldn’t deny that a whole world would be extremely powerful as a Soul Skill. But he had his own ideas.
He immediately tried to use Extract, but as it required Mana, the skill failed. For a second Randidly was at a loss, but then his heart, the Aether Crossroads, vibrated slightly, and Randidly blinked.
Feeling slightly foolish, and slightly hopeful, and slightly dumb, Randidly said, “Guys…. I need your help. Come on out.”
His chest twinged painfully. Randidly rolled his eyes. “We need your help.”
For a while, the words hung in the air, and nothing happened. Then the crystals began to tremble. Of their own accord, dim wisps floated upwards, curious and wondering. They came out by the dozens, then by the hundreds, then by the thousands. Then they saw each other, and Randidly, and began to swirl excitedly, dancing and spinning, a strange combination of fireflies and emerald meteor showers in the air around him.
Randidly breathed slowly, barely containing his excitement. Leaving the newly freed wisps, Randidly teleported to another part of his Soul, even as another finger touch made his own being shake. The crack in the bubble expanded.
Gritting his teeth, he activated the Spear Advances, Ash Trails, after all of this time, channeling all of his understandings about physical acceleration, the spirit of a spear, and the power of his own body to gain 5 Skill Levels immediately. He pierced forward, his finger the tip of his spear, smashing into the small seed that the creature left floating there, now exposed. It had stated it was to grow into a weapon, and Randidly was not going to let something that dangerous sounding just float around his insides.
As he pierced through it with his finger, his perception warped and he found himself in a huge sphere. The outward shell was thin, but inside there was a vast series of interlocking connections of swirling Aether. This was Engraving, but far, far beyond his level. Far, far beyond the level of even the Path that had led him to here. The level of detail and intricacy was unbelievable. Randidly had a hard time believing that anyone but a god could have created this strange construct.
In that moment, as the bubble trembled again, Randidly realized that this couldn’t have been created when the path came into being. Although the creature was clearly responsible, this was of a level that Randidly expected even it would struggle. This had taken time. More time than he could fathom. He could see it just by watching the construct of Aether. He somehow knew that it would take decades for the Aether to flow along the complete path of this strange rune.
“So… this is her big weapon”
“A… dangerous thing But necessary sometimes….”
“Yea. Because it’s going to fuel our world.”
This was still his soul space, even though it was created by the creature, so when Randidly reached out and pressed with his will, the construct trembled. Then Randidly pressed harder, and it began to warp and twist. Even though it was a great weapon, and Randidly wanted to destroy it, the beautiful and obvious craftsmanship of the thing made him to aim much more to rip it into 1000 small pieces, rather than smashing it. Their was a potency to it that he didn’t want to lose, even in his anger.
He was very aware of the danger of allowing it to remain, when he didn’t understand it, but… he didn’t have much time, and had even fewer options. So he ripped and ripped and ripped, his existence blurring as his will cut the thing to pieces.
Another blow landed on the bubble, and Randidly sensed that a huge chunk was beginning to give way. So he gritted his teeth and waved his hand, and he left seed, dragging the pieces of the weapon rune after him. As an afterthought, he shattered the casing of the seed into quite a few pieces as well, and gathered them.
His mind was beginning to ache from the effort of controlling so many objects, even in his Soul Space, but he ignored the pressure and continued. He returned to his Soul skill, grabbing the chilling killing intent, and the refreshing rain energy.
There, the wisps were already interacting and growing in their strange manner, the light of their existence growing brighter. Based on the veritable sea of them, it seemed that some had already split. When there was this much of them, they could split endlessly. They would grow until they couldn’t any longer. That was what life was, in peacetime. And the wisps had very few of the brakes that normal flesh beings had, and could multiply endlessly. They were pure life, and they sought meaning.
They sought a body.
But Randidly only had a few scant seconds, not enough to examine them any closer; because he had a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time.