The Weaver request was the weirdest. The small spider brought Randidly to a cave, filled with hundreds of its kin, and gave an extremely strange request: “Please give us the history of this world, so it won’t be lost.”
“...Are you sure that’s what you want me to help you with?” Randidly asked uncertainly, looking around. All of the Weavers were looping the thread around their arms as if they were ready to leap into action at the drop of a hat. “There are some Skills-”
“It is true that our current predicament is a dire one,” The Weaver admitted. “But win or loss, a people need a history to know themselves. If we give up our truth to win the battle, have we truly won?”
Randidly had some very choice things to say about whether the choice the Weaver presented to him was a fair one, whether it was really that black and white, but he acknowledged there was a lesson there, one that he shouldn’t forget. Knowledge was power. If anything, one thing Randidly should do to prepare for his battle with the Creature was to review their previous encounters-
Just like that, Randidly’s eyes brightened, and he smiled.
“...let me tell you my story, then.” He said slowly. “So you can see my hand in the world, every step of the way.”
The Weavers were fascinated to hear as he described his world broadly, before launching into the System. This took a bit more explaining, not because they didn’t understand the System, as they lived with some version of it (Randidly made a mental note to investigate the details of this at a later day), but because they didn’t understand life without it.
But after that rocky start, he took them on his journey. His start in the Dungeon, then the meeting with Shal and the escape. The founding of Donnyton. Turtletown, then Franksburg. Lyra and the Tribulation. Moving from Green Spear Mastery to the Cycle of Rot and Ash. The challenge against the renewed strength of Donnyton.
The Creature, and its insidious plots.
The creation of his current Soul Skill, the Four Shaded Clockwork World
Then there was his time in Shal’s world, which spanned most of his experience with the System. Tournament after tournament, ad nauseum, although Randidly didn’t bother to explain how tiresome their culture was, and their focus on spears.
Here, he took some time to explain what he remembered of the rotation of the inner world, and the changes and political upheavals that occurred. Especially, he mentioned the different times the Weave was lost, in the past, and for what reason.
His great battle, and his broken return. Recovering with Simon. Meeting the Wild Rider, understanding Champions and Regalias. The battle with the Skeleton Knight, and the interference of the Creature. The threat of the Raid Dungeon.
The interlocking web that the Creature had made in the Raid Dungeon, its twisted paradise. The approaching battle, both inward and outward, against its marshaled forces.
The Weavers moved furiously, only a few listening intently, the rest moving in a complicated dance that Randidly would have sworn was coordinated, but he knew it wasn’t. By the end of it, almost 10 hours had passed, and before him, covering the wall was a glittering tapestry. There was no clear discernible meaning that Randidly could see, but it was condensed and filled with filaments from every shade of the rainbow.
At the end, the Weavers bowed as one, thanking him.
If the Weaver request was the weirdest, the Monster King’s was the most awkward. The man, monster, with orange horns introduced himself as Zeke, or something similar sounding, and then proceeded to demonstrate his forms with the spear.
Honestly, Randidly was impressed. It wasn’t anything close to his own Style, and he could still see some areas of improvement, but it was well rounded, and had very clear tradeoffs that appeared to emphasize Zeke’s strengths and minimize his weaknesses. That part was fine, and Randidly gave his advice as succinctly as he could manage.
It only became weird when Zeke finished and looked at Randidly with hollowed eyes, full of expectation.
“...perhaps it shows my foolishness that I must ask, but…” Zeke said slowly. “Why are you helping… me?”
This question seemed loaded, but Randidly would prefer to ignore the issue, rather than digging into it. It would just keep things moving in a much more productive manner. “To defeat the remnants of the Creature. Now-”
“No, I mean…” The two and a half meter form, all of rippling muscle, hesitated, then asked, “Why me?”
Randidly opened his mouth, then closed it. He couldn’t think of an answer that didn’t sound dumb. It was tiresome, but he should keep his role as… Progenitor in the front of his mind at all times. He didn’t plan on appearing like this very often at all, because of how many people wanted to interact with him, but while he was doing it…
Because you are the strongest warrior we have? Because you are one of the leaders of the allied army? Because you need to be ready for what you don’t expect in this fight? Because I can’t afford for you to lose?
But while Randidly was pondering, Zeke spoke, filling the silence, speaking increasingly quickly. “I’ve…. killed so many of your people. Of the things you’ve created here. I created the greatest war this world has ever known. If I hadn’t caused such destruction… we might have been ready for this attack.”
Zeke was working up a head of steam at this point, and Randidly was content to hear it all before he weighed in. “The monster race, that racial tension, was the space the Skinshifts used to infiltrate initially. The whole time, as my race took the blame, I just assumed it was the arrogance of the other people, and ignored it, locking myself away, searching for my own meaning. It was an abdication of responsibility. For all my strength… my people needed me then, and I let them down. Which is why… which is why I can’t understand. Why are you helping me? Why are you making me stronger. I… I am a broken thing. I shouldn’t be here.”
This time, Randidly didn’t open his mouth, but solemnly looked at Zeke. There was a lot there. False attribution, guilt, a vicious self of injustice and the hatred that spawned from it… and also a deep, deep loneliness. One that was intimately familiar to Randidly.
Sighing, Randidly shook his head and then smiled. “You know… someone close to me once told me that I was special, not because of my strength, but due to my very existence. Because I was the ‘Inciting Action’. But you know… to me, I could understand why she said that, but it just felt like…”
Randidly reached out, his fingers passing harmlessly through the wall. He smiled ruefully, pulling his head back. “It felt like everything I became involved in broke. It fell to pieces or was warped by, if not me, events that I instigated. Now, let me ask you this: Do you blame me for this war? Knowing I created this world out of a very dangerous material?”
“No,” Zeke said, his eyes wary.
Nodding, Randidly said, “I don’t know much about what religion there is here, or what you have been exposed to, but I grew up learning about purposeful sins, and sins by your nature. I did not mean for this to happen, yet my sin was possessing a nature that led inevitably to this point. And that is not a sin I feel the need to burden my conscious with.
“In my struggles, I have done many terrible things to accomplish my goals, because I believed I had no other choice. Perhaps I was wrong in that, but never had I set out to take a life, for the pleasure of it.” Randidly’s eyes went out of focus then, remembering that one time, immediately after they escaped the prison, but then his gaze sharpened, locking on Zeke. “Perhaps it is strange to say this, but of you all… I truly feel you are the most similar to me. The most lonely, the most tragically determined.”
After a brief hesitation, Randidly reached out and touched both of Zeke’s hands. Although this perhaps would have some dangerous fallout in the wake of the war against the Creature’s minions, Randidly always believed that it was safest to concentrate power in one place, in this case in the Monster King. In his right hand, Randidly placed the influence of his Skill Touch from Beyond. In the Monster King’s left hand, Randidly put a point of Gravity Manipulation, that he had gained earlier while playing with the Skill.
The Monster King shuddered, his arms shaking as the power descended into him. Especially his right hand, with the Touch from Beyond, began to spasm. But Randidly, weirdly, suddenly had a physical body, at least while touching the place of his Skills, and gripped Zeke’s fingers with his own.
“Do not fear your own nature. Your greatest strength is yourself, there is no need to hide that. Some might disagree, but I believe that there is a definite line between victory and defeat. If you had infinite time to repeat and experiment, you could find the exact force it took to shatter a stone. Any less and nothing would happen. Any more and the extra power is wasted.”
Randidly’s grip tightened. “I… feel like you are the person who will be closest to that line. Zeke, with these gifts, take us past it.”
Releasing his hands, Randidly took a step back, looking up at the Monster King’s wide open eyes. There was still hesitation there, so Randidly spoke again. “If you stopped wearing the definitions that everyone else gave you, what would you be? It might be hard to see now, but… in my eyes, I’m not a Progenitor, I’m just trying my best. And I need your help.”
Then Randidly turned and departed. But not before he heard a soft whisper.
“Some on purpose…. Some not…. But always… giving of himself.”