A note from puddles4263

Morning chapter because I couldn't do one last night. There should be more later today.

The trembling swiftly became spasms, and Randidly was rolling on the floor of his dark room, his mouth twisted in a grimace. So much for resting before the second half of the preliminary…

Examining Soul Skill…. Adjusting search parameters…Expanding search scope…

Warning! Examination failed. Contacting the user’s Village Spirit…

Warning! No village spirit detected. System guidance insufficient. Recalculating…

Randidly was starting to grow annoyed at these messages. Yes, what he was doing was extremely strange, but that didn’t mean that the System had to make him sit here, waiting for a response, every fucking time he attempted anything. If it would just get its shit together and do a proper search… what he did couldn’t be THAT crazy, right?

Warning! No alternatives could be located. System guidance is impossible. Continue with assimilation anyway? We recommend you proceed to the nearest village-

Randidly ignored the rest of the message and clicked yes.

The trembling increased, and he could feel in his chest, as the tiny world, brimming with life, he had assembled shook. And then the clockwork core began to spin, and the energy it produced began to change and shift. He felt the cool rain energy, the murderous cold, the ash, and the rot, spinning and twining.

It was flowing slowly, those energies, like mercury, running through his veins as the world began to turn. The creatures came alive and began to move and interact. They were still very primitive, but cultures began to form through their interactions.

Assimilation success! Calculating effects…

Congratulations! Your Soul Skill “Cycle of Rot and Ash” has been upgraded to the Soul Skill “Four-Shaded Clockwork World”. All benefits obtained through the previous Soul Skill have been retained. Soul Skill level has been reset to 1.

Congratulations! Due to your Soul Skill “Four-Shaded Clockwork World” you have gained the skills “Hammer of the Dawn Lvl 1” and “Burning Footsteps Lvl 1”. Your Skill Phantom Half Step has been upgraded to “The White Phantom’s Half Step (Un)”. Your Skill Edge of Decay has been upgraded to “Flesh Eating Virus (Un)”.

Hammer of the Dawn: Empower your strike with the light of the dawn, striking from the sky with great force. Costs 250 mana. Size of hammer and damage improves with skill level and Intelligence. Area of Effect improves with Wisdom.

Burning Footsteps: Leave of trail of burning footsteps in your wake, causing mild damage to those who pass over the affected area. Mildly increases speed. Damage Boost and speed boost increase with Skill Level.

Randidly’s eyes widened as he looked at his new skills. Then he looked at his upgraded skills. Basically, the White Phantom’s Half Step cost a sliver more stamina, but was much quicker to activate, and subsequent activations within a short period of time would cost a sliver less than its current cost. So its utility increased, and it became more realistic to use it a lot in quick succession.

The Flesh Eating Virus was very similar to Edge of Decay, but it was faster acting, and it would cause a larger amount of damage if left untreated. The two new skills looked especially interesting, but that would have to wait until he had mana once more to use them, as both were spells.

His chest was still burning, as the strange energies from the Soul Skill circulated through him, but Randidly slowly sat up. All in all… he felt fine. It seemed that the assimilation had gone well enough that there would be no problems for now.

What was perhaps most disturbing was that there was no sign of the creature. Randidly turned his attention inward, examining his inner space, but it had returned to normal, with no golden chains or bells. Had it fled…? Or perhaps given up now that it's strange weapon had become part of his soul skill? Or…?

Randidly’s face tightened, because he knew that there was a possibility that he didn’t want to think about. Sure, he had ignored the creature’s plan and dismantled the weapon, but that might have been exactly what it had wanted him to do. Although he had shattered the outer portions, they were still a part of his Soul Skill, and he hadn’t been able to do anything to the core of that weapon at all. He could only harness its vast energy to fuel his strange new world.

He had also hoped that taking those wisps, freeing them, and populating his world with them was a nice departure from creating an empty world that could be used to hide, but… how could anything the creature said really be believed?

But his Soul was silent, so Randidly could only shrug for now, and attempt to not think about that possibility. He still spoke a little in his soulscape, trying to get that strange vibration thing that had spoken to him earlier, but he received no response. So he threw up his hands and returned to himself.

Back in his body, he stood and stretched. He took great care to test every muscle in his body, seeing whether there were any aftereffects, both from the earlier struggle with the creature, or due to the assimilation of his Soul Skill. But there seemed to be no ill effects.

Rather than make him feel better, Randidly’s heart sank. If there had been some problem, he could actually believe that he had pulled one over on the creature… but without that proof…. Was he really just a pawn dancing in its hand…?

You are yet weak, don’t overcomplicate things. If you have spare time to think of extra things, we perhaps need more training such as this.

Again, Shal’s voice echoed in his mind as Randidly struggled to find his direction, and he chuckled. As always, he was a spear. Only forward. Briefly, he wondered what Shal was doing at the moment, but then he dismissed those thoughts as well. Shal had a role, and it was over. Extra instruction wouldn’t be helpful right now. It was all dependant on Randidly’s effort.

Although it was slightly insulting that he hadn’t been here to witness it.

So Randidly turned his attention back to his notifications, because he had gotten a few. In addition the 5 Skill Levels in the Spear Advances, Ash Trails, Randidly had also gained 3 levels in Rejections, 8 in Clockwork Mastery, and 2 in Mental Fortitude. Which put his total PP still at an impressive 81.

Randidly grinned. This was good, because having that much PP all at once would likely allow him to see the different benefits from his Soul Skill. So Randidly brought up his Path menu.

Heretic XI 0/???, Initiate of Ash I 0/75, Nexus Traveler Cohort 5 0/50, Path of Control 0/200, Basic Mana Engraving 0/100, Journeyman 0/150, Experimenter I 0/50, Agony I 0/100, Tireless 0/50, Aether Philanthropist 0/1

“You fucking bitch.” Randidly whispered. There were quite a few new arrivals to his possible paths. But the one that struck him most obviously was Aether Philanthropist, which required a measly 1 PP.

Was this normal…? But somehow, just the wording of it, made Randidly sure that it wasn’t, and it was another path left for him by the Creature. But then threads of doubt crept it. Last time, it had to strain for so long in his chest to create a path. Was that just a front, or was it legitimately difficult to do…?

And if it was so good at predicting how he would move, so that it led him to here, wouldn’t it know that he would be extremely reluctant to accept anything that he thought was control, and so he would reject it? Was it perhaps the point that he not choose that path?

Or was there a way through the System to donate Aether, and this was a natural evolution of that action…?

Then Randidly shook his head. He was like a spear, he could only move forward. Better to ignore the possible motivations and focus on the concrete facts: it was a 1 PP path. He would be foolish to not use 1 PP to at least figure out what was going on with it. So, although his finger floated in front of the button for several seconds, torn between the options, Randidly eventually pressed the add the PP button.


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