Randidly felt… strange. That was the only word that he could think of to describe it. But even that was insufficient to convey how he felt.
There was a peace in his soul that he had never felt before, a fullness. Around him was simply blackness. He couldn’t recall how he arrived at this place, nor would that peace in his chest allow him to care. There was simply acceptance. Here he was, in the blackness.
That was that.
A part of Randidly rebelled against this notion. Why are we here? That part of him raged, furious at the complete acceptance that the other parts felt. But there were many forces against that part of himself that questioned.
Again and again, Randidly railed against the peace in his heart, and again and again, the peacefulness flooded into him like the sea, struggling to drown and deaden those emotions, leaving them waterlogged and drifting. But… as time passed…
The fires in Randidly’s heart only grew hotter.
“Fuck this…” Randidly whispered, opening his eyes, staring intently into the blackness around him. “Why… am… I…. HERE?!!?”
The world around him shook, seemingly nervous at his strength. This time, when the peace returned, rushing into him, Randidly simply devoured it, swallowing it whole. Then he exposed that peace to the burning insistence in his chest, his refusal to back off, his demand to know. And that peace evaporated into nothing.
After that, no more peace flooded towards him, leaving him alone in the blackness. But after overcoming that peace, there was a question floating in the air that Randidly could feel, that his one clue as to why he had arrived in this place.
What are you?
Twisting his lips, Randidly considered this question. What… was he…? A human obviously, but-
Ah, the Class.
Randidly’s eyes glowed a brilliant emerald, and his smile was wide. So he was right, the System would assist him in creating a Class, if the right conditions were met. That sense of peace then… was perhaps the System trying to re-exert its influence? That bore watching, then, for the future. For the moment, it appeared that was broken, and now it was just time to choose…
Over the past few weeks, as the knowledge that the Raid Dungeon could only be entered with a Class forced him to consider getting a Class, Randidly had carefully considered his options. There were perhaps… too many directions that he could go into. But what Randidly wanted was something that was uniquely his, and that would be able to support those people around him.
His Soul Skill seemed like a lead, and also his spear usage, learned from Shal, but Golden Roots of Yggdrasil was the one thing that had captured his attention. It was a Skill he had learned from Burt, a villager of Kith Klark, but it was simply a passive Skill, that had vastly increased his staying power in a fight due to its influence on his regeneration.
Well, it didn’t truly boost his regeneration, but what it did was raise the effect of his Vitality to a ridiculously high degree, allowing him to have the natural strength of body to overcome most injuries and exhaustion. He was simply an engine that pressed forward, under its effects. And there was the very eye catching term Yggdrasil included in it, which was something worth remembering…
But that didn’t strike Randidly as enough, and it wasn’t… quite aptly suited to describe him. He was not a world tree, and he wasn’t just a root system. Randidly was…
Images of his past flashed by. His fights. His time in the original Dungeon. The sight of Donnyton growing, at least a hundred people now seeking shelter underneath his influence. The sight of Lyra’s dead body, cold and grey.
Tessa’s face as Randidly lashed out with Agony, hurting her. The wreckage of monster and some human bodies after Kim-Lath attacked Donnyton.
Shal’s proud face. The fury and rejection in Drak’s eyes as he accepted Aether from Lucretia in order to have a chance against Randidly. The intense way that Azriel looked at Randidly while they were practicing, as if nothing else in the world existed.
The smug expression on the Engraving Guild Representative’s face as he told Randidly they would be watching him. The dead look in Claptrap’s eyes the last time Randidly saw him. Arrogance scrawled across Drak’s grandfather’s face as he descended, and then the shock as Randidly used his Skill to stall the man, if just for a second.
Pure, unquestioning concern in Simon’s eyes as Randidly awoke, finding himself filled with the shrapnel of a broken Skill.
“This world….” Randidly whispered slowly, his eyes becoming even brighter in the dark. “...this System brought with it so much pain, didn’t it…?”
In Randidly’s heart, he could feel unwillingness too, flowing into him through his connections with others. The sharpest of them all was Helen, who continually flooded Randidly with bold and unrelenting images of struggle. A staunch unwillingness to surrender, if even for a second, had become second nature to her, and that continued supply of images had an effect on Randidly.
But everyone had that feeling in their heart, with the System hanging over them, with the threat of the Calamity. They refused to give in, and allow death to come. The four that Randidly had originally blessed all were filled with a proud insistence that humanity would survive all of this, growing stronger and more fearsome.
Because to stop moving forward would mean death.
“I hate it….” Randidly said, surprised at himself. He really did. Although so many things had happened because of the System, so many people died. Those things, those benefits that Randidly had obtained, he could have grown in similar ways without the System. He wouldn’t have traveled to Shal’s world, or met anyone there, but he still could have grown beyond his stubborn awkwardness around other people.
It wasn’t like he was very social now, but… anything was better than how he had been previously…
This was growth that he could have had anyway, without the death. And while people were given Aether, they weren’t allowed to shape it in the way they wanted to. Most of the images that people created would just disappear, because the System provided mostly Aether that was already stiff and unyielding, unwilling to let other people control it. It sucked that meaning away, though to where, Randidly wasn’t sure-
What are you?
The blackness around him was expanding, slowly pushed backwards by his thoughts, that were becoming more and more violent and surly. It was almost as though it was shrinking back, and the message was one of placation, trying to focus him back on addressing the question presented.
Just take a Class, the weird System process seemed to say, so we can both get this over with.
Randidly’s grin stretched wider. Fine then. He was….
A growth of hope. A source of life and support for those near him. A force that allowed for survivors to band together underneath him, growing stronger. An inciting action for humanity.
The Yggdrasil image was a strong one, too…
“I’m… a Planting of the Forest of Eternity,” Randidly said slowly, savoring every word. He was just one sprout of many, one of the same tier as Yggdrasil, but Randidly didn’t want to seize that name. He wanted his name to be his own, and he would slowly discover it. Yet as he said the words out loud, that hot, angry part of himself seemed unsatisfied.
Create the Class, Planting of the Forest of Eternity? Y/N
Although Randidly wasn’t sure why, he followed his instincts, and selected no. Because at that moment, a thought occurred to him. To say he was just part of the Forest of Eternity… it was a powerful image, and it would likely give him good Skills… but again it was missing so much…
There was too much to include in a single Class, Randidly thought, shaking his head. But… he could make this closer to the truth. He wasn’t just a normal Planting, but… that portion didn’t seem to be the most efficient part of his phrase to change. That part felt… insufficient, but it was just a transition period. It would start weak, and then grow strong, that was what Planting said to Randidly. And honestly, it was his image, so…
But the latter portion…
Smiling, Randidly realized he knew how he wanted to change it.
“I’m a Planting of the Forest of Enmity.” Randidly whispered, his eyes blazing emerald. Yes, because that was what he was. He could feel his image, as his roots, trunk, and branches twisted and warped, becoming bloody and jagged spears. He was not simply doing this to be a source of life… No…. Randidly was seeking something.
To tear down the System and dance among its ashes. To feel the spine of the Calamity break for him, and reforge that into a spear that could annihilate this behemoth of parasitic Aether that they slaved under. That burning desire, that enmity, would not rest until its goals had been accomplished. For it, there was no true victory while the System remained.
Which was a realization that Randidly never had before. In that moment, he realized what he truly wanted… was to crush the System to nothing, and earn everyone freedom from its influence.
Create the Class, Planting of the Forest of Enmity? Y/N
Even though he could feel his inner world twisting and becoming blackened and dangerous, Randidly selected yes. The world around him began to rumble, the blackness shuddering and cracking. Aether rushed into the cracks, breaking through the darkness, flooding Randidly’s surroundings with violet light. That rushing noise from the Aether swarmed Randidly’s consciousness, slowly setting him adrift.
Struggling to remain conscious, Randidly found himself helpless before that strange rushing flow of Aether. Very soon, he was deep in the darkness, even as his hands balled into fists, even as his eyes were squeezed into unwilling slits. This...