Heaving a sigh, Randidly used Living Blood to manipulate the red fluid back into his body.
Azriel spared him a glance. “Take a break. I’m hungry.” Then she walked off, leaving him bleeding, or almost bleeding, in the courtyard of her building. After several minutes of sitting on the ground, recovering, Randidly stood, and he left the building, wandering towards one of the bathhouses in Deardun.
After cleaning himself off, and giving his body time to heal through some of the deeper damage that Azriel had inflicted on him, Randidly headed back towards his inn. Then he froze. Then, chuckling, Randidly continued walking.
It was probably pretty foolish for him to just walk around Deardun.. Especially after those three had ambushed him so directly, right in the middle of the city, and seemed to have the implicit support of the Styles of Deardun. It could happen again.
But Randidly was tired. And up until now, it had completely slipped his mind. So after putting on clothes that would cover his face, giving him at least some semblance of cover as he returned to his inn. Then, at the door, he hesitated again, then shook his head, annoyed at himself. If they truly lost him after the ambush, his old inn would probably be the place they were waiting for him, huh…?
Truly, Randidly wasn’t designed for this sort of sneaking around. But it’s not like he had the strength to stand up to them directly, at least right now, so. Best to take precautions, belated as though they may be.
Randidly entered the building, and found Divvet and Claptrap, who both looked sharply up at him, seemingly surprised by his intrusion.
Very quickly, Divvet smiled widely. “Ah, good you’re back. Shal’s been… better. He still is asleep, but his struggles had largely quieted. Your friend Claptrap has been there the entire time, watching over him.”
Claptrap seemed nervous, which seemed odd to Randidly. Perhaps he wanted something? Trouble at work? Either way, Randidly was quite glad that Claptrap had done it. Walking up, Randidly patted him on the back.
“Thanks Claptrap. Next time you need it, I’ll give you some good business ideas to expand your corporation.”
To Randidly’s surprise, Claptrap visibly flinched, pulling away, his eyes flashing. Then Claptrap seemed to deflate, and just said. “Yea… Thanks.”
Then he left. Randidly scratched his head, and turned to Divvit. Divvit just shrugged. “How am I supposed to keep up with the moods of the young? Maybe he’s annoyed that you absolutely destroyed that girl he had a crush on- oh, that’s right. She stopped by. Wanted to talk to you about a bet? And Helen wanted to speak with you ask well.”
Randidly had no idea what bet Ciel wanted to speak with him about, but Helen’s desire to talk filled Randidly with a certain level of dread. Through their connection of Aether, he could feel her, not her location really, but the constant proximity of her life and meaning, as they flowed back and forth between them, freely mixing.
Wasn’t that enough…? What did she want to talk about…?
But that, of course, was a stupid question. She wanted to talk about the fact that he was pumping Aether into her body. Randidly just wasn’t sure what he wanted to SAY about it. At the moment, it had felt right. Helen had been dueling that asshole, and she just needed a small boost to push her strength up to the level where she could win. Randidly had given her that strength.
Now Randidly was glad he hadn’t pursued the option of giving other people, including Divveltian, an Aether Donation anymore. If he had to explain things to them in the same way… Although it was abated for now, Randidly was still aware that the System itself considered him a Heretic. Even though the system was much, much larger than the individual people, Randidly still didn’t think it was a smart idea to let people know about his idea, in case they secretly had a connection to the system.
Although Earth had the Village Spirits, Randidly had yet to see any here, which made him leery of everyone. It certainly was like… a strange vacation here, away from his planet. But Randidly knew that was coming to an end, and didn’t want to jeopardize it so close to his return.
Besides, with what Randidly was suspecting about the spear inside of the obsidian spear, after training with Azriel-
Randidly shook his head. One thing at a time.
After going up to Shal’s room, checking on him briefly, and then returning to his own room for books, Randidly headed to the roof. After a long amount of time away, Randidly activated the Weeping Cloud skill, letting the cleansing rain wash over him, relieving him of a lot of his tension. Then he brought out and equipped his concentration belt and some other engraved equipment, boosting his stats to their highest possible levels.
Then Randidly produced his spear and looked over it with a critical eye. It was certainly strange, using such a slender and light spear after he had used the large obsidian one for so long. But there was something… strangely compelling about this spear, he had discovered, while using it against Azriel. A certain… energizing factor.
It wasn’t much, just a small boost, that helped stave off exhaustion in the earlier training rounds with Azriel. It was barely anything, not nearly as powerful as his own regeneration, but it was still a push in the right direction. Something noticeable.
But then Randidly noticed what was happening, and he immediately switched back over to a training spear. Because this slender white spear was engraved with a rune that absorbed Aether from the air… and from Azriel.
Once he realized what was going on, Randidly found the strange connection that was beginning to form between him and the spear, and the thin trail of dirty Aether that was flowing over to him from it. After being exposed to the Aether from his Aether Crossroads for so long, this Aether was incredibly muddied and intractable, and it was hard for Randidly to see any use for it.
Still, there were more questions than answers here. After all… he had gotten this spear by cracking the spear of Haelthing of the Devourer. Which would seem to imply that perhaps this spear was the weapon used by Haelthing, and the other was just… a sheath…?
The way that the previous iteration was designed was completely counter to this theory, however. It was much more likely that the previous obsidian spear had, in fact, been prepared in order to seal this spear, keep it out of others hands.
Because, like Randidly’s other Aether connection, the one the spear was trying to form with him flowed both ways. Randidly didn’t really understand what it would be taking from him, but he sincerely doubted that it would be a healthy relationship. If it hadn’t been due to his increased sensitivity to Aether, Randidly probably wouldn’t have been able to so easy keep the connection closed as well.
Even so, even due to the danger…
Randidly opened his eyes, which flashed emerald. Some things were worth the danger. There was a secret tied into this spear, something that Randidly couldn’t currently get the shape of. But knowing more would help, and he could sense that he was very near a realization.
So, with his mental state at its highest, Randidly felt along the connection to the spear, and began to press Aether from his side, towards the spear. Initial results were very poor; clearly this connection was not designed this way, nor was it strong enough to handle the strange Randidly was putting on it by forcing the Aether down it. Multiple times that small, weak connection collapsed, and Randidly could only sigh and hold it, waiting for it to reform.
Part of the problem was how pure and plentiful his Aether was. It gave Randidly a very warped sense of normal, in terms of Aether. But slowly he honed his control, until a small, even flow went along to the spear.
The Engraving on it began to glow, and then shift, twisting, the energy flow reversing. At first it was slow and unsure, like old machinery, starting after years of disuse, but then something gave, and there was a crash. Suddenly the spear began to devour the energy viciously, and then it continued to suck, eating away at his will, causing him to go slightly lightheaded, but he gritted his teeth and pushed through it.
At the same time, an explosion of meaning smashed into him, setting him trembling. As the wildness of the energy slowly began to abate, its volatility subsiding, it slowly settled into identifiable matter: feelings, emotions, and memories. Rich, thick emotions: Love, Fear, Respect, Determination, Regret.
They rushed through and filled Randidly as he supplied more and more Aether, churned out after years of storage.
Within the currents, the Aether flowed faster and faster, more and more, so much that even the deepest depths of Randidly’s Aether pool began to swirl, albeit slowly. This was the largest expenditure of Aether he had ever embarked upon, and his body and mind began to buzz strangely, a weird resonance occurring as so much power was channeled through him and into the spear. The world around him went white.
Then… it stopped. The memories slowed to a trickle. More information flowed into Randidly, but with a start, he realized that it was information about what was going on around the spear. Strips of incomplete meaning that it had sliced, directly out of the air and ground here, and fed to Randidly.
Surprised, Randidly stopped the flow of Aether. If he could absorb meaning through it… that would be interesting. But that was for another time. For now…
Randidly touched the memories, and they swirled around him. And he felt it, a picture slowly emerging out of the memories, pieced together through a thousand small moments, slowly coming together.
My name...is Aemont. And by feeding this spear… I could obtain a power the defies the will of the Spearman. I could steal another’s strength. I could cannibalize someone else’s soul.
I could not. I could not sacrifice another for my own power. So…
So, there is only one choice. To use my own emotions to feed the spear.
To give away my heart, to obtain the power to protect, and to have faith I won’t forget my motivation… once i’ve become a shell of the man I once was.