Randidly winced as the referee in charge of healing looked at the wounds on his left shoulder. The woman was no nonsense and frequently prodded the wounds, making interested noises at the lack of response to the potions she had given him, and only a small amount of responses to her healing skills.
“Well, it does seem like your natural Vitality is working on it. You will likely be fully healed in three days before your next match,” She eventually announced, leaving Randidly quite annoyed with the whole proceeding. After she had departed, ostensibly to go watch for injuries in the rest of the matches of the day, Randidly switched to the active form of of the Golden Roots of Yggdrasil, pulling up strength and using it to fuel his regeneration.
At the same time, he was forced to intermittently Meditate to keep his mana high. After almost an hour, most of the three wounds had healed themselves in, and most of his range of motion was restored. There was just a persistent ache.
Still, Randidly wanted to get a move on for the rest of the day. There were so many things to do, so many skills to train, so many questions he needed Claptrap to investigate….
But before any of that, Randidly just sat to himself and smiled. He clenched his fist. He had won, in spite of the fact that Dian probably had more overall strength than him. Randidly was just specialized in a way that neutralized her, and she wanted to hide most of her cards for as long as possible. If she had gone all out, using that scarlet energy from the beginning…
Then Randidly’s expression soured. But she had died, taking her own life. It left him… very confused as to her motivations. Still, it seemed that she had been profoundly unhappy. Taking her own life was not something that she did lightly…. Right? However, there was always the chance that there were some cultural differences in this world that Randidly hadn’t really understood…
He had killed people, both in battle, and by allowing them to die in the collapse of the tower. So although it wasn’t as sickening to him as it would have been, fresh after the arrival of the System, it still made him profoundly uncomfortable to see. There was the knowledge that he had apparently driven Dian to this decision, which…
Shaking his head, Randidly turned his attention back inward. The match hadn’t been long, but Randidly still had some gains, perhaps even emphasized by the time spent healing afterwards. He had gained an impressive 9 skill Lvls of Golden Roots of Yggdrasil, 2 Lvls in Haste and Empower, 3 Lvls in the Spear Advances, Ash Trails, 1 Lvl in Spear Mastery and the White Phantom’s Half-Step, 2 in Dodge, 3 in Fighting Proficiency, 2 in Flesh Eating Virus and Battle Intent, 1 Lvl in Struggle and Spear Phantom’s Embrace, 3 in Grace and Bacterial Regeneration, 4 in Flexibility of the White Hunters and Superiority, 2 in Root Control and Spearing Roots, 1 Lvl in Mana Strengthening and Circle of Flame, and 3 in Meditation and Plantomancy.
Randidly’s grin was wide and slightly nervous. Perhaps it really was a better than average haul. Because he had relied on so many skills that were now below this spear based skills, he had gained a lot. But now, with this PP….
It was time to become an Anointed of Ash.
Randidly placed 5 of his newly acquired PP into the Initiate of Ash II Path, also earning another full rotation of his Soul Skill in the process, receiving a Blessing of Devouring Ash, and the following notification:
The world of your soul skill turns! The denizens of your inner world evolve. The growing matriarch continues to persuade others of your existence. The discussion has spread from solely the White Hunters, and now all of the people on your inner world wonder about you. Their eyes remained fixed on the sky, while others begin to search the world for proof of your works.
The Earth Golem tribes continue to war, refining their martial arts and skills. Several great chieftains emerge, vying for power.
The Great Weave, created by the Weavers, is coveted by the other races. The White Hunters urge for it to be shared, so information on the world can be known. The Swamplings, however, remain reluctant.
Upon the mountains, the Spriggit cities continue to grow, expanding outwards. Trade and art begins to flourish.
From the small animals brought into the world by Arbor and Thorn have grown and bred. While the small animals become more common, larger, more powerful variants begin to emerge.
It has been two cycles since this world’s creation. Would you like to add anything to the world? (Warning, the added qualities will be taken from a skill. A single skill level will be consumed in the taking. Other side-effects are unknown).
After thinking about it over a few seconds, Randidly wasn’t sure what to add. It seemed like a waste not to add something. And the loss of a single Skill Level wasn’t very intimidating, although the very general “other side effects are unknown” did give Randidly some pause.
But what seemed to catch Randidly’s attention the most was the fact that most of his little Soul Skill creatures seemed interested in him, their creator. It was simultaneously adorable and creepy. So Randidly almost wanted to give them some sort of… proof. Something to confirm he existed, and was aware of them. But he was rather mystified over how to go about it.
Based on his previous experience, Randidly decided to use only a few skills; he chose to add Hammer of the Dawn and Superiority. But he concentrated both of them to an incredible degree, causing all of the energy from his additions to be forced into a single, physical form, one for each skill.
The Hammer of the Dawn naturally formed into a hammer. Superiority condensed into a scepter. The two split and descended into the world as comets, one crashing into the great river that ran across his world, while the other smashed a mountain peak.
Immediately after doing this, Randidly felt a sinking sensation in his stomach. “Ah… they are probably going to fight over those, aren’t they? I should have done 4…”
Still, it was too late now. Randidly felt his skill shifting, changing in new ways. The Swamplings began to investigate the hammer, while both the Spriggits and the Earth Golems moved to see the crater of the scepter. That would definitely end up being a war, if they both arrived at the same time…
Maybe the fighting would strengthen his Soul Skill…? But something told Randidly that wouldn’t be the case.
Randidly had 1 more PP required to finish the path, and he took a deep breath before he put it in. Then he released that breath, and steadied his gaze. He didn't’ feel great about doing this with his left arm still sore, but it shouldn’t impede him, should he be required to fight. In the menu, Randidly added the final PP to the Initiate of Ash II Path.
Congratulations! You have completed the Initiate of Ash II Path! You have ascended to the top of the mountain, and you find a face, carved of molten stone and burning flame. It smiles at you.
Randidly felt a familiar tug at his stomach, and the world around him warped. After a second, the twisting stopped, and Randidly stood on the flat top of a mountain, that gigantic, living lava face hanging over him, lava dripping out of the corners of his mouth and pooling on the ground. Around them, in the distance, there was only ash, dust, volcanoes, and plumes of lava. It was truly a world of ash and destruction.
“This… is simple enough, even for one such as yourself… without a class…” The Patron of Ash said, slurring its words. Randidly solemnly looked up at it. Based on the information he had obtained earlier, he had expected to contact the Patron of Ash, but not be teleported back to the world of ash. Every resource he or Claptrap could find was very clear on that.
And yet he was still brought here. That… was slightly alarming.
Standing at the edge of the platform, Randidly was prepared to once more fight the lava golems. What he didn’t expect was for the ground around him to slowly fall away in rings. The space where Randidly was standing was safe, but the rest continued to descend. Then a ring nearest to the outside stopped, then the next nearest to the outside stopped, which continued until a large coliseum was formed.
But the central area continued to sink, revealing a crimson and black sphere. The colors swirled, and as Randidly continued to watch it, it seemed that it was in fact a crimson crystal, filled with a black liquid, that squirmed around inside the sphere. Immediately, as the sphere rose into the area, the temperature rose.
At a speed that was slightly alarming, the lower levels of the rings began to glow red… and then slowly melt.
“Your task… is to proceed to the third innermost ring….” The Patron of Ash intoned, floating down towards Randidly. Randidly spared it a glance.
It was truly strange to be back here, after so long. But being back here brought back some memories. This mother fucker was definitely going to try and kill him. Even though Randidly was clearly aware of that, the stated goal was rather simple, so there was no reason why not to aim for it. Especially since the temperature appeared to only be increasing, due to the presence of the sphere…
Randidly almost wished it was going to be Lava Golems. If they were at a similar level to what they were previously, it would be child’s play to defeat them. But somehow, Randidly suspected it wasn’t going to be that easy.