As Randidly focused on watching Lucretia’s movements, he was able to make out generally what she was doing, in terms of the runes she was using. The most common base of it was Control, Agility, Vitality, and Intelligence, in that order, as the building blocks of the base of Randidly’s Class. Below that, there were the runes for plant growth, and as a counter, the rune for fire.
Even deeper, as a broader theme, the Shadow Rune, in its IV form, was woven subtly throughout. That annoyed Randidly somewhat, that his Class would only have the Shadow IV rune inside of it, rather than the Shadow I, but even Randidly admitted that the Shadow I rune was far beyond their ability to imitate even in its base form, let alone working it into this complicated orchestra of sigils.
In the blink of an eye, Lucretia had created 10 more layers. Neveah was keeping up with Lucretia’s use of Aether, so they weren’t running low on that. With a small thought, Randidly gathered a small additional amount and began to purify it. His stomach growled. Annoyed, Randidly ignored the sensation.
Now, Randidly could watch as they tried to work his “Class Skills” into the base. It was a slow, steady thing, as they built the 3D shape up, layer by layer, but the two of them had been very secretive in what Skills they planned to give him. Randidly considered this something of a sin, as it was HIS Skill, but they both insisted it would be better as a surprise. So he could only grumble and wait.
Carefully watching the shapes, Randidly actually had no idea what they were aiming for. At first he thought it was something to do with Ash, but… the longer they shaped it… it started to resemble Randidly’s Summon Pestilence Skill. Did they… were they attempting to merge together two Skills, complicating an already worry fraught procedure….?
Randidly’s stomach growled again. Sighing, he reflected that it probably had been since returning to Donnyton that first night since he had eaten anything. Even though his Stats were so much higher, that's no excuse to ignore basic nutrition. He was aware that Mrs. Hamilton was conducting trials to see exactly how hunger and food intake assisted people, but he couldn’t imagine that the System had reduced the effect to zero, it had simply lessened the bad side effects.
And at some point, Randidly was sure they would discover additional foods that would provide positive benefits, but for now… all you needed to do was eat SOMETHING. Which he apparently hadn’t managed…
Problem… Neveah mumbled, as she continued to spin off more strands of Aether and pull them into the weavable form. Lucretia frowned, but she said nothing, instead her eyes simply began to glitter.
Hearing this, Randidly’s focus narrowed back to the weave again, even as another wave of that strange blindness descended, his Soul itself buzzing. When it passed, Lucretia had enough time to lay another 3 layers of the Aether, and it was becoming abundantly clear what the problem was.
Even though they had planned and practiced, apparently Lucretia had underestimated how many layers would be necessary in order to achieve the requisite thickness. In terms of layers, they had put down around 35 already, and from how it appeared, they were only halfway through the process, which would make the final product over twice as large as they had expected.
And this was the version that Neveah had argued was the only safe option, because of its relatively small size…!
Of course, in terms of Classes, it was extremely large, because of who it was for: it would be the Class of Randidly Ghosthound. It could not be some common thing. But to take 70 layers of weaving…
The problem was not to continue weaving in a pattern for the individual Statistics that would make up the vast majority of the layers. Although it was problematic at the outset, once the trick was learned, Lucretia was probably able to continue in that pattern indefinitely.
No, the problem was that a good fourth of each layer to this point had been dedicated to the Skills that Randidly would start with in his Class. That meant that they needed two more prepared Skills. Of course, they had brainstormed a dozen or so Skills, trying to figure out which ones would be the most valuable, before selecting a few very carefully. If this continued, Randidly would be forced to have some of the non-chosen Skills, which struck him as somewhat frustrating.
His stomach rumbled again, heightening his annoyance.
The next Skill that was slowly woven into the Class was a Skill based on what the had gotten from the rabbit and turtle people of Kith Klark. It was a strange combination of the Fleet of Foot Skill, the Herculean Strength Skill, and the Endless Patience. Looking at it, Randidly could tell for sure that this was a created, spliced thing. Although his mind wasn’t as sharp as Lucretia and Neveah’s, he could only look at the thing dubiously as it was woven into the fabric of what he would become.
He spared Neveah a glance. This time, there was nervousness in her soul as her gaze remained locked on the slowly layering weave.
Sighing, Randidly closed his eyes. And at that moment, the buzzing came again, greater and worse than before. It wasn’t to the level of being pain, but it was…. Annoying. It was like the whining of a child in his head, a droning, off putting thing. Randidly growled in response and this time actively tried to push it back and down, silencing the vibrations, but this only seemed to intensify them.
As he felt his control of the rotating Aether slipping, Randidly eased off and just tried to relax, even though at his core, he was wound as tight as a spring. This was not the fucking time to handle some weird mental shit…
Lucretia’s curse brought him back to focus, the buzzing parting like a curtain before his necessity.
Randidly’s Skills were there, pulled together by the belt they had created. Resting just above the belt, in what was going to be the anchor and bridge, there was Randidly’s image, a small, spatially warping ball of light. Above that Lucretia had been layering the Aether weave, now 57 layers thick, and extremely dense with energy. Small little bolts of discharge flashed off between layers.
But that wasn’t what had caught their attention. The weave was starting to…. twist, for a lack of a better word. The portion of the weave directly above the anchor point was beginning to slowly spin, sucked in towards the light that was supposed to be the anchor. And the more they watched, the faster it started to happen, as the first, the bottom most layer, was gobbled up, the second began to twist.
No! Neveah howled, and she reached with her own senses relating to Aether, right into Randidly and grabbed onto the layers of Aether, as they slowly twisted, forcing them to remain strong. Randidly shuddered, feeling abruptly ill at the sudden invasion, even though it was from someone who shared a Soul Bond with. Hell, if they hadn’t shared a Soul Bond, he suspected that the side effects of what she was doing would have been much more dire…
Then he shook his head, refocusing. “I think it’s too heavy. The thickness-”
“I know. Fuck! Your image isn’t strong enough.” Lucretia hissed, rubbing her temples. “If Neveah can hold it there, I think I can fix this mess.”
Randidly’s temper flared. “It’s only lasted that long because of how strong the image is. One basic image can’t hold up all this Aether. If this was going to be a Skill, the ratio-”
Randidly’s mind ground to a halt as the strange dizziness and blindness returned, everything drowned out beneath a layer of buzzing. Instead, he could only wince. He could sense Lucretia speaking to him, but she seemed unaware of what was going on, and the fact that he couldn’t answer.
When he didn’t answer, she seemed to take that as agreement, and motioned to Neveah, who adjusted her grip, and tried, without success, to pull the portion of the layer that had been sucked into the image back out to form his Class. Instead, it remained stubbornly absorbed, and it seemed that the suction was growing.
As Neveah changed her grip, the buzzing only got worse. Randidly’s stomach also started growling in response, and suddenly Randidly wondered if that this wasn’t his stomach growling, but something else.
And there was a tickling in the back of his mind, one that had been here the whole time, one that had been buried under dissatisfaction and frustration. Randidly didn’t like this, this method of cobbling together something and forcing it together to be organic. But the other two understood Aether much more than him-
Strangely, of all memories, Randidly’s father’s voice floated to the surface of his mind. ‘People with hammers like to see nails.’
Randidly paused. Was that really… all it was…? Because these two were so focused on their ability with Aether, they were attempting to solve a problem through Aether that they didn’t need to…?
But that was wrong, this was an Aether based System, and-
Randidly’s eyes snapped open. Of course.
Because the System itself wasn’t the enemy, the person running it was, that fed the Aether. But if his Aether was a separate type of car to what everyone else had, that didn’t mean Randidly had to stop using the roads….
If this was a Skill… They needed more images. But if they had images, they needed more Aether too, so everything remained balanced. And hadn’t this whole idea with Neveah pointing out that Classes were just larger versions of Skills…?
Something settled in Randidly’s chest. The buzzing slowly died away. With a gesture, Randidly moved Neveah and Lucretia back away from his core. Without their influence, instantly layer after layer of the Class they had been attempting to build began to be sucked into the image at the base. The anchor had become something of a black hole, and greedily ripped into all the ambient Aether around it.
“Randidly, what-!” Lucretia began, but he just gave her a look.
Then Randidly smiled, reaching again, and this time, he didn’t hold back, but scooped up over half of the Aether that had sat inside of him, soaking into his soul and bones, whispering to him. Then he pressed, and it began to spin.
His eyes burning emerald, Randidly said. “I’ve had an idea.”