Randidly shook his head. If she could truly read his mind… that was a power even more intimidating than the Creature’s mastery of Aether. That would mean she had access to all of his secrets at a glance.
But upon review of the whole scenario, it had all happened so fast, and there had been several abrupt changes in her mood, where her face twitched as she looked at him, even though he hadn’t said much. They couldn’t have been together for more than a minute, but she had already proposed exchanging gifts, while he countered with a trade, hoping to avoid her cycle of disastrous gifts.
The exchange wasn’t very well structured, especially after Randidly’s thoughts had turned to marketing recently to help Claptrap. She had just shown her cards immediately. Which likely meant that she REALLY wanted the Aether that he had.
Which also seemed to imply that she had been able to at least see it, and notice its existence, which was intimidating. But it was nowhere near as fearsome a power as the ability to see his thought. With that train of thought, she had come… for some reason that filled Randidly with apprehension, but swiftly changed her mind upon seeing him and his Aether.
Why had she come before… something to do with Shal? Or the tournament? Or to tempt him, as Bertarn seemed to imply was happening all throughout the tournament…?
Sighing, Randidly sat down, letting some of the tension drain from him. So many questions without answers. It was pointless to think of them.
The only thing a spear can do is advance.
So after Randidly went down to the kitchen and prepared himself a meal, he came back up and continued with the 3rd volume of the encyclopedia set, reading more information on Engraving. The more he learned, the more Randidly realized how much detail he was missing in his Engraving. It was more of the creation of a 3D sculpture on the surface of armor, than anything else.
Which didn’t really make sense when stated out of context, but was the only way Randidly could describe the process. Deeper and deeper Randidly focused, taking careful notes on what he read, trying not to miss anything. After all, this was the only real option he had for an escape route after the Tournament.
Perhaps though, he could ask Lucretia for some assistance…
But immediately Randidly shook his head. It already slightly insane that he was considering giving her a flat amount of Aether in exchange for… something, to do with Shal. He needed to think very carefully about what he wanted, and what to ask. In that regards, he also had very little information about Shal, and what was going on with him. It was hard to know what to ask for.
Randidly considered informing Divveltian, but Lucretia’s threat hung heavy in the air. Gritting his teeth, Randidly sat back from his Engraving research. There was just too many things going on at once. All the while, he needed to prepare to fight against Ciel…
“Bah!” Randidly bellowed, throwing his hands up to the sky. He probably wouldn’t get much more studying done for now, so he stood and headed towards the roof. Although it wasn’t effective, some physical exertions were just what he needed to get all of the ancillary stuff out of his mind and focus on the task at hand.
One goal at a time. First, Ciel.
“Why won’t you take it? It was the ultimate gift, my true strength. It should below to you?” The shade of Aemont ask, looking at Shal with crossed arms.
Shal kept his eyes closed, although in his spirit form, it made little difference, he could still sense the dreamscape around him. Everything twisted and shifted, but the face of Aemont stayed constant.
For whatever reason, the shade had begun speaking more directly to Shal a few days ago, and now wouldn’t stop with its incessant chatter. Shal was swiftly nearing the end of his patience, his flinty temper sparking. But in his heart, he knew that the peace he found in this world was a fragile thing. So it was of the utmost importance-
“Take it. Takeit takeit takeit takeit-”
“Shut the fuck up you dead zombie!” Shal bellowed, leaping to his feet. The dreamscape swirled dangerously around him, and Shal staggered, hit with a sudden wave of exhaustion. Even this much was… too much. Better to just…
“Hmph, why? Who dares make me? You?” The face of Aemont said dismissively, looking Shal up and down. “You are far from my match. Look at yourself, you barely remain awake.”
“You…” Shal growled, forcefully resisting the waving of exhaustion and dizziness. Now that he was up though, he examined Aemont’s disembodied head. It floated there, ripples extending out from it to fill the air. But as he watched, the ripples seemed to shift around the shape of a body for Aemont, even though it wasn’t visible.
Shal had a lot of very negative views on his father, and what he had done, but one thing couldn’t be denied; Aemont was strong. If this was Shal being haunted by some remnant of his Battle Intent, it would be very difficult to forcibly suppress it.
Looking around, Shal frowned. He didn’t remember how he had got here, and now he cursed himself for lazing about for so long. His methods for dealing with this spiritual remnant were limited depending on what was happening around him. If this was some sort of elaborate spell, Shal needed to be careful. If this was some sort of trial of spear intent, created by this annoying remnant of Aemont, he needed to pass the challenge. If this was just a dream… thrashing around should dispel it quickly enough. But the fact that there seemed to be a mental component, that Shal was weak to, probably meant it wasn’t just a dream…
“Boy, you still have that dopey look on your face. Have your entire life.” Aemont snorted, floating towards him. “Stop thinking, and just do. Do you hold in your hands an abacus or a spear?”
Shal’s temper ignited, filling his body with heat. “You fucking ghost. Stop haunting me and disappear!!”
Shal charged forward, the spear that had appeared in his hands raised above his head.
Randidly breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth, looking up from the table towards the window, where the sun was rising. After a brief series of exercises, when Randidly had calmed himself down by thoroughly thrashing the male spear attendant, he returned to studying Engraving.
Luckily or unluckily, it appeared Divveltian had left, beginning to search the nearby area more directly for Shal, so Randidly didn’t need to decide how much to trust the threat of Lucretia on that front. But there was a nagging sense of responsibility in his chest over Shal.
In theory, giving Lucretia an actual donation of Aether was possible, and didn’t have any drawbacks. As long as Randidly didn’t establish a connection, it was a one time thing that wouldn’t have any lasting consequences. Except it enabled Lucretia to advance her agenda here, but…
That wasn’t exactly something that Randidly was too worried about, even though Shal would remain here, and Helen and Divveltian, and his other spear attendants, after Randidly left to return to his home world and Cohort. They could handle themselves.
Or at least he assumed so, although Shal’s current absences…
Which brought him back to the issue of what to bargain for. It seemed to Randidly, what was happening to Shal was something to do with the 3rd gift to Aemont from Lucretia. So he should ask for that to cease, and also for Shal to be released from her influences. There were other details that were fuzzy, but Randidly couldn’t pin them down. Better to talk to her next time she showed up and try and weasel out more of the truth.
Randidly scowled. The one part of her that was good at selling was her sudden departure… it but him on his back foot. But he had worked through it. And now, for sure…
Time to prepare for Ciel. Randidly opened his menu and looked at his paths. He had gained 9 Lvls in Ash to Ash, 4 Lvls in Living Blood, 3 in Bacterial Regeneration, 5 in Physical Fitness, 2 in Phantom’s Embrace, Spear Mastery, and Combat Proficiency, 6 in Anguish, 3 in Plantomancy and Meditation, 4 in Flexibility, and 1 in Grace and Mental Fortitude over the past 3 days. In terms of his recent gains, it was relatively slow, but it was still a steady rise in his combat strength.
His use of PP was enough to finish off the Anguish I path, which was also a good sign. He didn’t plan on using the benefits from it against Ciel unless absolutely necessary, but it put him one step closer to being able to stand toe to toe with Drak.
Congratulations! You have completed the Anguish I Path! Through pain, you advance. Through Struggle, you are shaped. Although you may appear beaten and bloodied, your eyes burn with determination. Health, Mana, and Stamina +50! Willpower/Resistance +5! You have gained the skill Torment Lvl 1.
Torment: Creates a field around the user, where ghosts and spirits that haunts the user will appear, based on the user’s subconscious. Their power and forms increase and vary with skill level. Mana cost decreases with skill level. Only the user may see and interact with these spirits.