A note from puddles4263


Whooo, apologies, behind this week.

5 today, and 2 tomorrow, with the Finalists with the Path Contest.

Randidly finally settled to a stop, no longer being pushed back. He glared up at the tower, as if that could contain the flood of emotions that roiled within him. Strangely, at this moment, Randidly pictured Helen’s frowning face, and he opened his mouth and said, “Fuck cunt.”

Then he chuckled, and it was a forced thing, but some of the tension left his shoulders.

The force pushed him back about 200 meters, far more than should have really been necessary, but Randidly had been able to sense the strange series of machinations of Aether that twisted and folded in and out of themselves in order to form the Raid Dungeon before them. As he was being pushed back, he had lashed out again and again, but Randidly knew he had only inflicted surface level damage to the Aether.

The real engine that fueled it was shielded by the sheer size of the Aether construct. It was actually intimidating, how huge and smooth the thing was. The more Randidly learned, the more he felt a feeling of dread towards entities like the Creature, or the one who made the System, and their ability to manipulate Aether. It was simply so far in scope and competency to force him to recognize how far he still had to go.

‘Interesting structure,’ Lucretia remarked, peering through his eyes to the settling Dungeon. ‘I’ve never seen such a thing. Your Skills are incredibly useful. Mmm… if I had your body when I was younger… ehehhee….’

Randidly knew that Lucretia was just teasing him, in her twisted way, but he wasn’t in the mood, and he was not so foolish to get himself comfortable with jokes like that. So he ignored her, instead looking down at the stone in his hand.

Stone of Genesis Lvl 49: A stone filled with possibilities. An incredibly pure energy lies within, allowing the user to shape it to their will, creating a powerful Skill, or a rare Soul Skill. Only one use lies within. But be warned, if the energy within is insufficient to form the desired result, energy will be taken from your body. Death may result.

A reward for killing the third and final Tier III Raid Boss, which would have been a blessing in most individual’s hands, was absolutely useless to Randidly. The ability to form a Skill, which he had, or a Soul Skill, which he didn’t need. But it could be given to someone… which was a less permanent version than establishing an Aether tether.

So it was an interesting object of study, but not immediately useful. Not a reward that he desired.

As Randidly approached the tower, his face fell. There was a low wall around the tower itself, which had a gate that….

The only description that Randidly could give it was that the gate was covered in… spatial rips. Large gaps of pure black, that were slowly expanding. His face fell further as Randidly’s gaze focused further, his senses extending.

It was hard to describe with words, but the huge mass of Aether didn’t necessarily connect directly to this location, but was “twisted off” of the world, the Aether folding down to a single point, that connected the huge mass that formed to the surface of their world. The tower, effectively, was that “twist” that connected the two worlds. Randidly suspected that this was also the way that the time dilution could occur, by separating the worlds like this.

Which was fine, but Randidly realized that his struggles earlier had opened several small, superficial cuts on the Aether construct. Which, on the larger Raid Dungeon, did nothing, but those rips suddenly became a lot more dangerous as the Aether construct was twisted down to a point.

And the expansion was extremely disturbing. Luckily, Randidly was able to focus, and manipulate some of his own Aether to clumsily sew the holes back together, revealing the gate in the front of the small wall. Which would solve the problem here, but if there were more rips, deeper in the Dungeon…

Randidly went to the gate, but was greeted by a familiar message.

Warning! You do not currently possess a Class. Please proceed to the nearest Newbie Village and obtain a Class, to obtain access to the Dungeon.

Breathing slowly, Randidly stepped back, his forehead furrowed. Jemma, Rhaidon, Ten’Malla, and of course the Creature, were all gone, as well as the two Regalias. Randidly assumed that they were currently absorbed within the Dungeon, but it would be almost impossible to tell, if the Creature really had wanted to hide its movements.

Worse than that… the Dungeon was a slowly tightening noose around the neck of Zone 33. After a month, all ambient Aether will have been sucked out by it. Of course, the System did not threaten without rewards, but… it was the time limit that really had Randidly stuck in a bind.

Plus, these spatial holes...

Randidly studied a small remnant of one. Feeling extremely unsettled, he created a root spear and prodded the hole. Randidly wasn’t able to widen the rip with the object, but that was mostly because that anything that went within the hole was ripped apart by a strange force, and didn’t return. None of that suction extended outside of the rip, however.

Curiously, Randidly flooded the spear with Aether, forming a membrane around it, and prodded it again. Behind him, he sensed Dozer and Decklan approach, followed by a humming Neveah, but ignored them for now.

This time, when he put the spear into the hole, it resisted for a while, before his membrane ripped, and once more the spear was obliterated. Blinking, Randidly sat back on his heels. It was a close thing, but…

Meaning business, Randidly weaved a shield of Aether, taking great care to make the structural integrity his number one priority. It took several minutes before he was confident, and then wrapped it around a near root spear. This went into the spatial rip and held. Randidly kept it there, studying its effects.

It appeared his Aether… was slowly unraveling, under the influence of whatever was in that void. If he focused his will, channeling Aether Manipulation to its limit, he could resist it somewhat, slow it to the point that it didn’t really appear to be happening, but it took a great amount of focus to do so. And to Randidly, that was disturbing.

Because if his stats weren’t enough to do this… there would be effectively no one in this world who would be able to survive it.

Dozer walked up to Randidly and gave him a questioning look, considering the spatial rips.

“These will kill anyone who touches them,” Randidly said bluntly. “Avoid them. But go in, and tell me what you can find.”

Dozer nodded, as if this was the most normal thing in the world, and ducked under one of the rips that Randidly had been studying. Simon and Thea, both on Chrysanthemum’s back, showed up at the base of the tower, staring up with wide eyes. Behind them were the hard and scarred men than made up Dozer’s squad, looking up at the tower with a very unimpressed look on their faces.

Doing his best to even his breathing, Randidly considered his options. There was one month remaining. Probably, even a bit of time after that would still be acceptable without a loss of life. It would take a while for the ambient Aether in people’s bodies, that they had already absorbed, to run out. In that time, someone had to clear the Raid Dungeon.

Randidly’s hands tightened into fists. But if there were more of those spatial holes inside of the Dungeon…. He had lashed out with abandon, just wanting to express his frustration and powerlessness. And it appeared that that instinct… had come back to bite him.

It made him furious. It stunk of the Creature’s twisted smile. And he hated every minute of it.

Dozer returned, his face impassive. “...Aside from being a Lvl 49 Dungeon, pretty simple, with one catch; only one team in at a time, and the team clears the Dungeon or dies. You go in, you better go all the way.”

Randidly hissed. So no scouting the Dungeon before they went into the thick of things. It would mean that if he sent a group into the Dungeon that he wasn’t a part of, they would all be doomed to die if his struggles had left scratches on the inner parts of the Raid Dungeon…

...that were expanding even now…

Growling, Randidly cracked his knuckles. And if he wanted to go into the Dungeon…. he would need to address something else, first.

Warning! You do not currently possess a Class. Please proceed to the nearest Newbie Village and obtain a Class, to obtain access to the Dungeon.

Which, frankly, was extremely repugnant to Randidly. This was not the circumstances, forced by threat of death of the entire Zone, that he wished to obtain a Class. This was not on his own terms, this was dictated by fate.

But what Randidly wondered most of all… was this exactly what the Creature wanted…?


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