Randidly looked around slowly. So what the Wild Rider was saying was… he already had a companion, and it lived here, inside of him? Here, at his core, deep in Aether.
A smile danced across Randidly’s face, slowly growing, stretching across his skin. Then he stepped, crossing through the deep darkness inside of himself, flooded with Aether. It was a lonely and echo-y area, not a place to exist.
Randidly‘s memory of that moment still shook him, the freely given support, the strange acceptance, the deep need, the bright first spark of hope. So much was conveyed into a single, deep emotion, expressed only as a vibration. And yet Randidly had left… whatever it was here. He had thought…
Well he hadn’t really thought at all. He had struggled with the Creature then, and that struggle had consumed him. Even later, when he had the vision of that strange being in his chest, during the Trial of Ash, he hadn’t given it another thought afterwards. Once more, his current struggles had kept him from pursuing that truth.
And now, only when he was about to die, he was going to go barging in, asking for help…?
Randidly felt like a dick of a landlord. And of a friend. Or of a companion. It was sorta hard to conceptualize what they were to each other.
But still he walked forward, taking his time, even though the threat of his death loomed above him. After everything this creature had done for him… it just felt right to be respectful, despite the urgency. It wasn’t as though a few seconds either way would likely make a difference. He didn’t even know exactly what he had to do. Just… ask for help…?
Randidly found himself at his heart, the ice cold, iridescent heat spot at his heart, where Aether flowed outward, which was where this being dwelled, for whatever reason.
After a moment’s hesitation, Randidly reached out. “Are you…?”
The word was worlds wide, strangely conveying so many things. The being’s struggles and pain, the plight of Randidly’s body, Randidly’s body as its vessel, a wistfulness, a curiosity, a great wariness, a dulled mind, and a small joy at the other’s visit.
They all crashed into Randidly, sending him staggering somewhat. Being here, directly here, made each word produced by the other to be incredibly powerful. To the point that Randidly had a hard time enduring. But he couldn’t turn away. That power made Randidly believe slightly that this being might be able to provide some solution.
Even now, he had no idea what he was doing, or what his goal was. But he knew he was desperate, and based on the Wild Rider’s words the answer was here.
“I might die…. I think.” Randidly said, unable to really articulate it any other way. He could feel the rumbling going worse, shaking the very foundation of this place. An earthquake of the soul.
It was…. even more complex, this time, the sound. But he could feel the sentiment. Some of the more detailed plans were lost in translation somehow. However, before Randidly could even feel the flood of relief, there was another word that gave him pause.
But price. Two.
Where the previous words were filled with complexity, this was simple, just vast. Far reaching, wide. Grave sacrifice. Whereas now Randidly was a vessel, somewhat, they would need to bind themselves to each other. A permanent bond. One that would benefit both, but also shackle both. Their lives would be tied together. As for the other price…
Randidly just smiled, and stepped forward. A lot of the information contained in the other being’s brief words was lost as he pressed forward, but it was mostly a sense of vastness and time that Randidly didn’t really have the time to parse apart. It was a permanent bond that they would be forming.
It was not that this form they had already had wasn’t permanent, Randidly thought. Well, he couldn’t be sure, but the way that being had settled in the Aether Crossroads in his chest made him believe that it was here to stay.
Perhaps he should think more closely about it, but… Randidly trusted this being. He had seen from its eyes, felt its pure emotions and the care it had treated Randidly with. Even now, that they were so close, he could feel it using Aether streams to control the worst of the soul tremors. But it was too little too late. It had no body, no real existence, somehow. It was just a strange, free consciousness that took shelter here, in the Aether, to survive.
Or at least, that is what Randidly suspected. But although he didn’t have all of the information, he still believed in the being. It was willing to help him, and had in the past. So much that Randidly had accomplished, escaping the grasp of the Creature and seizing control of his Aether, was due to this being.
Randidly took another step forward, putting himself at the heart of the Aether Crossroads inside of him, which was where the being rested. It swirled around him hesitating.
The concern it displayed only made Randidly more sure. There was a mental barrier that he had erected, probably unconsciously, between them. With a straining effort, Randidly took that down. The next part was harder. His Soul was self-destructing, his physical body was failing, and Randidly needed to get both of those things to accept the strange being. At the present, he was cut off from all of his skills, so he couldn’t even rely on his broken Inspiration skill to get him out of here. The being would have to accomplish the rest itself
Randidly just smiled wryly. “I’m… pretty helpless here. Can you…?”
Pain… The other promised, worry for him clear in its tone. Laughing, Randidly just shrugged. Pain was passing; death was not.
One last time, the being hesitated, but Randidly sensed something different here. Now it did not worry about hurting him, but rather… as far as it could remember, there was just the darkness, and then there was Randidly’s heart. It was… nervous to leave?
Randidly smiled, but it was starting to get strained. He could feel darkness at the edges of his vision even here, in his soul. His life force, so much as it existed…
“Yes, I’m sure.”
Thankfully, the being acted immediately. But Randidly was already fading somewhat. Once more, the darkness claimed him.
Thea tapped her hammer against her palm, her hands covered in sweat. It was hard to just sit here. According to the Wild Hunter, they would have to act quickly to save David’s life, but immediately after, they had told Thea to wait.
So she had. Almost 10 minutes of waiting, and-
David swayed, and then fell. The aura of pain that filled the air left. Instantly, the Wild Rider leapt up from their sitting position and dashed towards David. Meanwhile, Thea had another quarry.
Chrysanthemum roared, some of Thea’s frustrations bleeding over into the bear, and she raced forward, bounding towards the barely moving monsters. Thea’s eyes burned a hole in the gold skinned one, her hammer gripped tightly. This, apparently, was the Raid Boss. David had held it still and hurt it, stunned it even, but he hurt himself in equal measure. She would need to act before it could recover, or the sacrifice would be for nothing.
It only took about 8 seconds to cover the distance, but it felt like an eternity. Activating Righteous Hammer, Thea leapt off Chrysanthemum’s back, arriving over the golden figure, preparing to strike. But then Thea blinked, then swore.
She had overshot the Raid Boss and arrived at the bronze one. Thea spun around and prepared to strike. Then she froze.
The bronze creature was behind her…. That meant-
She spun around again, and found that the golden Raid Boss was gone, and in its place was a strange mercury bubble, stretching and twisting into long and powerful looking tentacles. The blood drained from Thea’s face. Did she really just mess this up…?
But then an arrow formed, pointing downwards towards the ground. At the same place that Thea had seen the golden Raid Boss had been laying from afar. Thea’s eyes flashed.
Thea used Quick Strike to move before the opponent could react, bringing it down at the location pointed to by the arrow. There was a strange shudder, and then the monster reappeared, its skin split, strange black blood flowing outward.
Again, Thea used Righteous Hammer, striking the monster again and again, until its head was just a mass of gore. Only then did Thea stop, her chest heaving. Chrysanthemum was behind her, calmly eating the other monsters, swallowing her distaste along with their bodies. Better safe than sorry.
It seemed that the Wild Rider had reached David in time, feeding him a strange potion, so Thea just sat quietly, wrapping her arms around her knees. Although she was used to it, and it got easier, the sight of death…. It still affected her. She was glad, in a way, but it was also hard.
So for now, Thea just sat, letting the rest of them clean everything up.