Instantly, Randidly could detect that while the fusing was going well in the bone wurm’s body, there was something troubling about the movement of the Aether above it, in the air around it.
With his eyes closed, Randidly’s senses flew forward, following the flow of Aether. Although it probably wasn’t a very complicated construct, but it was still difficult for him to sense Aether with any sort of precision outside of his body. Still, there was very clearly some sort of…. lattice of Aether surrounding the bone wurm’s soul, and one of the sigils was starting to activate.
It was a sigil that was part of the inner framework. Frantically, Randidly spread his senses out farther, feeling the shape of the Aether as best he could.
As far as he could tell in a few seconds, this was very clearly the work of the System. There was a cage of Aether that acted as a tether, and as a feeder, giving and taking Aether. There was also a portion that seemed to moderate the amount and type of Aether it could receive.
It was truly a delicate work of beauty, filled with strange, graceful runes that Randidly couldn’t understand. It reminded him of the work by the Creature, truly, but this… based on all the context clues, it should just be the System. Randidly supposed it made sense that the system was even more sophisticated than the Creature. But it was an intimidating truth, because Randidly’s path appeared to be directly against what the System wanted.
The glyph that was activating continued to glow, and Randidly saw that it was beginning to send some sort of energy back off one of the lines upwards, heading towards whatever was on the other end of the tether that controlled it.
With no other recourse, and unwilling to let word of his escapades reach anyone who could actually DO anything about it, Randidly smashed the most complicated bits of the lattice with pure Aether, burning away the tether.
After all, Randidly had dealt with the Judgements from being a Heretic, but those seemed more like automated reactions than anything else. Randidly had, as of yet, not run into any real… Administrators, for lack of a better word. The System seemed to function so far on its own, killing any who didn’t capitulate to its desires.
Randidly had a bit of pride, but he wasn’t oblivious to the fact that what was going on with him might have happened before in the past. It was hard to have a sense of it, but it truly seemed that the System covered a staggering number of worlds. Enough to make the population's size absolutely massive, or at least Randidly expected so. To control that population, there might even be larger safeguards in place than the Heretic system…
Perhaps the System Transgressor was one of those. Randidly shivered.
Without the tether, although different parts of the lattice began to go haywire, no connection could be made to inform an outside source. Randidly worried that the severing would also inform them, but he figured that something similar would happen should someone kill the Raid Boss.
Instead of worrying, Randidly focused on the sigils, even as his purer version of the Aether ate away at them, and they slowly deactivated. Although it was just a tiny portion of what they could accomplish, watching the graceful way the Aether flowed from one to the other, creating an interlocking framework was extraordinarily beneficial to Randidly in terms of understanding Aether.
This was… truly far beyond his level.
Abruptly, Randidly’s focus was broken as his body shuddered. Grimacing, Randidly felt a great heat building in his chest. His own Aether was joining the wild surge, a huge torrent of the Aether swirling upwards in a tight spiral. Then, that Aether speared forward, piercing out of his chest and flowing into the body of the bone wurm.
This finally completely destroyed all the remaining Aether constructs within the Raid Boss’ body, washing it all away in the vicious and life giving flood. That Aether swirled, settling in the other, establishing itself deep inside of his bonded companion, as two of them became linked.
Randidly’s companion could no longer be felt, which gave him a sharp stab of worry, but Randidly quickly realized that it had spread, and was slowly settling into its new body. The Aether exploded in a torrent between them, huge amounts of Meaning and Life flowing back and forth, circulating, normalizing their two bodies to each other.
It was enough to cause Randidly to fall to his knees, stunned. There was so much… so many images and emotions and moments in its memories… and not even just from the being that was held in his chest… embedded in it all was the powerful will of the old Raid Boss, its stubborn refusal to allow its people to die.
All of this swirled and mixed…. Until it finally clicked together.
For several seconds, Randidly just sat still. The sound of his pants filled the air. He wasn’t even aware of what was going on around him, with the Wild Rider, and the pledgees, and the other monsters. Instead, his focus was forward, on the creature in front of him, as it looked at him with inky black eyes, now shaded slightly purple.
“I am…” It rasped, its voice echoing out strangely, clearly not used to the finer points of speaking. “Neveah.”
“Randidly Ghosthound,” Randidly said simply, reaching out and touching the bone armor that covered its head. Strangely, it was warm. The touch was electric, Aether freely jumping between them.
“I have a body…” It- well, it sorta seemed feminine, and the name… so she said quietly.
With a great effort, Randidly stood, a small tremble in his body. The sheer volume of Aether that they exchanged was still difficult for a human body to withstand, no matter how high the stats were.
“That’s not all,” Randidly added. “Now you have the chance to explore the world… would you like to take a look?”
Jemma sat on the back of Rhaidon, her new companion, patting his ears idly, as she watched the cook move around with his new scary monster companion. The beast was probably 10 meters long, and 1 meter thick. At first Jemma was very puzzled how it was able to move, either like a snake or more like an inchworm, but it appeared that instead, the thing just used a very advanced and specialized earth manipulation to press its body forward.
Jemma wondered whether the thing felt like it was laying still the entire time, while the world moved around ti.
It wasn’t the largest monster, but there certainly was… something about it. Trembling slightly, Jemma looked away, allowing her system to settle down to something closer to baseline. Even looking too long at the cook and his monster activated her passive skill. How strong were they…?
Peeking over her shoulder, Jemma’s eyes traced the huge bone carapace that covered most of the body of the worm. Giant overlapping plates of bone, sort of functioning like over-large scales, made it so that whatever vulnerable bits it had were not visible to its enemies.
Only on its face could you see its flesh, a metallic, grey-purple color, and the inky black eyes that it housed. As she watched, the creature seemed to roll and flail around, feeling out its body. Jemma wasn’t too sure what was going on. It honestly looked like the creature forgot how to move.
Perhaps the joining with the cook had some sort of feedback, because of how strong he was…?
Rhaidon felt her question and followed her gaze. Then he informed her, sorta clumsily, with many images, that part of the deal of becoming the soulbond companion of the cook was to gift up your free will to a companion he already had. It would be simply offering your body to him, which was why most did not choose to try and become his companion, or offered their young.
That gave Jemma a slight chill, but she was also curious, because when Rhaidon referred to the cook, he sent not an image, really, but a swirl of colors. Deep, vibrant emerald. Bright, vivid orange-crimson. And finally a deep, ashy grey. As best as she could, she asked why he was those things.
Rhaidon just gave her a look that said, because he is.
A commotion caught her attention, and Jemma looked up to find the Wild Rider only a few feet away, her head tilted to the side. At first she froze, but then, as Jemma realized that her tremor hadn’t started, she cautiously relaxed. Could this person really not be this powerful…?
Or would it be just like it was with the cook at first, she was just unable to truly sense his strength until she witnessed it with her own eyes…?
But the Wild Rider just beckoned her closer, and asked, “Can I ask you for a favor?”