It was only several hours later, in the pre-dawn twilight, that Randidly began to slowly unpack what it would mean for Gemma to be Zith, an iconic figure in Dintan history. The rest of the group were slowly gathering, and Ace was currently doing his best, short of violence, to get the Death Cultists to admit that he was not their savior.
First, and least important, that meant that Gemma had lived for at least 500 years, perhaps more. Randidly hadn’t ever been exactly clear on the effect that Vitality and Endurance would have on the human lifespan, and if this wasn’t some Dungeon or Creature shenanigans, this meant that they would live for a very long time. He had some inklings in Shal’s world, but… largely Randidly had only dealt with those at his level. It was only at the end, when they came for him, that the older generation revealed their fangs.
Randidly blinked, then looked down at his palm. It was one thing to know you might live for 100 years, and perhaps the System would keep you young looking for longer. After all, Sam had experienced an increase in youthfulness in the wake of the System, and there were many other recorded cases. Mrs. Hamilton had been watching this issue very closely and kept him abreast of it.
But now, to know you might live for 500 more years…
Randidly shivered. He wondered how a person would change, over 500 years time.
Also, this meant that there was no doubt any longer in Randidly’s heart that he had to go assault the Creature’s base. Although that was where its strength was gathered… if Gemma was there, still under her influence… Randidly refused to allow that to happen. The only question would be how much of that he would reveal to the rest of his party.
Finally… it likely meant that Gemma was working together with the Creature, or had worked together with her. Zith had led the Dintan in owing a favor to the Creature. They worshipped Zith as the great deliverer, only for her relationship to the mysterious blonde-haired woman of old.
Randidly’s hands tightened into fists, and his eyes flashed. “Just… fucking fuck…”
Power. That’s what he needed now. So Randidly opened up his Path Screen.
Through the course of the last few battles, Randidly had gained 4 Levels in Yyrwood Flesh of Yggdrasil, 6 Levels in Circle of Flame, 2 in Plant Dominance and Spear Mastery, 5 in Aether Manipulation and Aether Detection, 3 in Phantom’s Embrace, 2 in Idiosyncratic Cut, 1 in Golden Roots of Yggdrasil and Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil, 3 in Emerald Sap of Yggdrasil and Indomitable Spirit of Yggdrasil, 4 in Child of Rain and Nether Resistance, 2 in Touch from Beyond, and 3 in Living Aether.
It was a fair amount of PP in one go, especially in a relatively short time period, but he had let himself loose in the fight against the Death Cultists. And he would again when he moved against the Creature. Randidly grinned at the thought, his smile all tooth and predation. This time, although he was going to the location she had prepared, Randidly knew she would be there.
That, at least, was different from every time they had previously fought. In addition, his Aether Skills had grown greatly over the course of the last two months, both out of the Rain Dungeon and inside of it. With it, he was that much closer to clawing her down off of her condescending fucking pedestal.
The other, more mundane thing Randidly noticed was that he hadn’t really had time to level his Gravity Manipulation and Spriggit’s Tinkering. At low levels, both would be easy ways to increase his PP pool, so he could burn through the First Legend Path faster. Randidly made a mental note to do just that and then turned to his path screen.
It only took a single PP, moving his Soul Skill from Level 1999 to 2000, before everything began to go to shit.
Congratulations! You have received the Blessing of Devouring Ash. Willpower +10, Resistance +10. You have learned the Skill “Chosen of Fire ® Lvl 1”.
The world of your soul skill turns! The denizens of your inner world evolve. Although peace has lasted for a generation, it grows increasingly strained. The emergence of more and more Energy Wells across the surface of the planet has caught the eye of all of the political players. But no sooner do the countries shift their resources to move, when a great evil comes to the land.
They rise out of the Energy Wells, wounded and broken, but as they slowly absorb the lives of others, they grow stronger, stealing their skills, and even faces. By the time rumors of the Skinshifts is known by the public, it is almost too late, for these clever monstrosities have penetrated into the highest level of government in every race.
A great darkness came out of the center of this world, and more are following it…
Randidly blinked looking at the notification. There was again a shift in the Blessing, this one giving him a Skill. He quickly focused on it and received a basic description. Grimacing, Randidly considered whether he would keep it. It only passively boosted his resistance and damage from and with fire. Although a straight fire user build would love it, it still took up one of his very valuable slots.
Plus, these notifications about his Soul Skill…
Randidly left his Status screen and went to look at his Soul Skill. But when he reached for it, there was a dull sense of impact, and he was rejected. It was so strange that Randidly had to blink a few times to make sense of what was happening.
He… couldn’t intervene? Then what was the point of having his Progenitor’s influence-
Accelerating time within Soul Skill… Calculating extent of degeneration… approaching critical failure…
“This is not,” Randidly hissed, his eyes blazing, “the fucking time to self-destruct.”
But perhaps this was the plan all along, another part of Randidly whispered. He had, after all, created the Soul Skill based on the Creature’s strange weapon. Was it strange that now, as he moved against it, problems were cropping up?
The only problem was that it was triggered by PP, and not by anything else he could see. This would make it the 8th full rotation through his blessings since he had acquired the Soul Skill, and to be fair, his previous ones had lasted quite a bit shorter than this one… Perhaps Soul Skills had a version of aging, and his was approaching the end of its life.
Randidly’s eyes narrowed. And just like his previous Soul Skills, there was a… propensity towards volatility, as it approached the end. His cycle of Rot and Ash had begun to swirl so quickly that it was almost enough to tear itself apart. At the time, Randidly had to create a whole new Soul Skill, so the thing wouldn’t fall apart, taking a huge portion of his strength with it. It made sense then, that the core of his world would shift towards dangerous levels. Awakening these… Skinshifters to loose on his Soulskill.
Likely a metaphor for the Creature, moving into and through him, aiming to absorb him and his Soul Skill. Not a metaphor that Randidly appreciated.
“Lucretia, trouble,” Randidly said, taking a deep breath, then focusing on the task at hand.
It took him several seconds of silence to realize something was wrong. Only two seconds after that was Randidly swearing viciously.
“Fucking cunt-” He began, then stopped himself, clenching his teeth. “You’re in the fucking Soul Skill, aren’t you?”
Which was both intimidating, and reassuring. Reassuring that she was there, and probably wouldn’t let the volatile forces run wild, intimidating because she was out of his control, and could do things outside of his ability to discover while the time acceleration process was going on-
Growling, Randidly formed his Willpower into a spear and slammed it into the side of the force that repelled him previously. Unfortunately, there was no real feedback, just a strange ripple of dispersed force through his Soul Space. Immediately, Randidly realized what the problem was.
There wasn’t truly a barrier, he just wasn’t able to push through the difference in time. It was academically interesting, to think about what happened at the border between two separate speed flows of time, but at the moment, it wasn’t very amusing at all.
Briefly, Randidly considered using Inspire to brute force the issue, but he didn’t like the prospect of leaving himself without Mana Skills, not when he was waiting to go assault the Creature’s base. It likely wouldn’t know about his weakness, but… Randidly also didn’t fully trust the Grey Death Cultist, and he was currently gathering more of his people, to form a host of which the Raid Dungeon had never seen…
Basically, his hands were tied on that front…
Strangely, however, when he reached out to his Progenitor’s Influence, it responded to him, flowing across the time barrier and into the world. He had 901 Progenitor’s Influence at this point, from the levels and from his times investigating the state of the Soul Skill, but that seemed pitifully small. Minor Blessing was available to him, at 875 Progenitor’s Influence, but Randidly had no way of targeting it, or-
But his… abilities instantly told him that was wrong. He could target the races that he had created… and the monsters too… and even the Skinshifts, as they were considered a part of his Soul Skill, and it was still relatively stable. He could even sense them, great masses of lights signifying them. Each light a life, stretching before him.
They were, he couldn’t help but think, beautiful.