It hurt. It hurt more than anything had ever hurt. To compare the pain from being eaten alive in the Dungeon by acid on that first day was to compare a seed to a tree. But Randidly was a very different individual than he had been in the beginning.
His eyes were cold mint, taking on a strangely blue tint, as Aether flooded through him, washing away the Skill that dictated what he could and could not do. All the while, more and more Aether poured into Indomitable Will of Yggdrasil as it burned with intensity.
For sacrificing a Skill, PP will be consumed to refund the Skill. 4 PP will be consumed.
Randidly let out a gasp as his finger surged forward and hit No, denying the Skill.
Sighing, Randidly settled back on his haunches to regain a bit of composure. But Indomitable Will of Yggdrasil continued to whirl. He felt it crack under the strain, and Aether surged to fill the space.
Congratulations! Your skill Indomitable Will of Yggdrasil has evolved into the Deific Mien of Yggdrasil! Levels will be retained. Warning, the transformation of the Skill is incomplete. More insight into the nature of the Skill will be necessary before the Rarity can be updated.
HIssing, Randidly fell farther back, until he was sitting on his butt. He felt… something on his chest. A chain seemed to wrap around him, binding his new Skill in place. Roaring, Randidly smashed at the chain with everything he had. But it held, blithely ignoring his indignation. Randidly gathered himself and smashed at it again, but nothing happened.
Because Randidly realized it was not simply a mental chain. It had a lock on it.
More insight into the nature of the Skill will be necessary.
As he straightened, he let it all go, cutting off the flow of Aether in his body with a sigh. Well, at least he had rid himself of this strange force that had attempted to dictate his movements. When he looked up, Randidly realized with a flash of guilt that most of the Lava Golem had fucking evaporated, and only a thin, skeleton-like figure was remaining.
With the Aether no longer running through it, the body of it slowly began to recover, producing more lava. And strangely, Randidly realized that he could reach out with his will and… touch it. Control it. It raised its hand as he pressed, moving each finger in turn.
One problem solved, Randidly thought with a smile. He simply had to sear a path for his will into the golems with Aether.
But then Randidly’s mood turned more serious.
Before the Rarity can be updated, it had said. Did that mean..?
Beyond Legendary. The final key to the lock on humanity.
‘All that will come later,’ Randidly thought, calming himself down. It was a strange little binding that had briefly afflicted him. But he ripped it apart, and now it was time to rip this base to shreds, to work off a little more of the fury he felt.
As Dinesh had told him, this base was much larger than the previous ones. And better defended too. As they approached, Randidly felt a strange thinness to the air that gave him pause.
Dinesh noticed and gave him a half smile. “Ionized air. There are a lot of generators powering this thing.”
“Hmm,” Randidly grunted in response, moving closer to the base.
It was less hidden than the others and seemed to be a rather large logging camp from before the System arrived. The walls were covered in growth enough to indicate that the place was abandoned, even while the gates remained shut with a very shiny lock.
“What’s the plan?” Dinesh asked. Tykes remained mostly silent, rubbing his knuckles as the three of them looked at the base. Randidly grinned and felt his will flow along the lines of Aether he had burned into the Lava Golem. The thing dug its way forward, slowly approaching the edge of the camp.
“Give me a few seconds,” Randidly said, moving the Lava Golem forward. The other two nodded and focused their attention on their own preparations.
On and on Randidly pressed with the Lava Golem, moving it forward. Not that he thought himself incapable of taking on the base's defenses, but he would prefer that the attention got focused on the Lava Golem, rather than himself. After they had split from Tatiana, Bruya had adjusted his illusion to match that of the previous attack. Perhaps it would cause a panic, but Randidly was counting on that.
However, the panic he wanted was not among the normal populace. It was among those who had created these facilities. Randidly would make sure that with this attack, he would crush every shred of these strange organ harvesters that he could locate. Afterward, Randidly would pay more attention to the news to watch for any information on who could be involved. But for now…
The figure of molten lava burst out of the ground right in front of the base. Without pausing at all, the Lava Golem ripped through the chain link fence and pressed forward. The air around it warped as heat wafted upwards from the figure. As it moved, however, there was very little noise. There was only the strange tinkling of the fence as it was ripped in twain.
Immediately, something in the base shifted. Two turrets lifted off of the roof with the smooth efficiency of a computer operated system and aimed at the Lava Golem.
Randidly’s grin widened. When he pressed with his will, it almost felt like he was the Lava Golem, working through the Aether to be it. Was this what the Avatar Skill would have given him? Why did his other Skill think it was so important?
Through the connection of Aether, Randidly also had some small sense of the Perception the Lava Golem had. It wasn’t much. In fact, it was more distracting than helpful above ground, where Randidly’s senses were much sharper and more reliable. On the other hand, the Lava Golem had a sense of touch on the Earth that was far beyond Randidly’s. And based upon the shaking that the Lava Golem felt, friends were coming. Quickly.
They were rail guns, but only the lower bore from previous iterations, Randidly was glad to note. It would be a very bad sign if these people had the weapons he had designed for Ghost. Perhaps it was simply a matter of installing them, as it had only been a week or two since he had created the Pterodactyl, as a proof of concept for his runic language. But it did reassure Randidly a little that trusting Ghost with these tools wasn’t a mistake.
Still, they were dangerous, even to the Lava Golem. If the projectiles hit it, that is.
The Lava Golem moved smoothly forward. It was not graceful, per se, but it certainly didn’t trip over its own feet as Randidly controlled it. The two railgun turrets each fired twice, and the Lava Golem moved to the side, ducked, and leaped. It landed on the roof with the first turret with a crash. Very quickly, the stone and plaster of the roofing began to melt, revealing the military grade metal underneath. A swipe of its hand ripped the first turret beyond recognition, but it did give the other time to fire two more shots.
They went wide, but by the time the Lava Golem had crossed to the other guard building and destroyed it, hatches in the ground were opening. Black exosuits, a lot like the one that had struck from the lake sprang up. First 10, then 20, then 50, all swarming out.
Even Randidly was taken somewhat aback. Especially when he realized that another 100 had emerged from other locations in the area. This was clearly meant to be a trap.
Randidly laughed out loud. “Looks like they were prepared for us. There will be more than enough to go around. Everyone have their illusions in place?”
Dinesh and Tykes nodded, as their bodies trembled, and then became other people. Nondescript, normal individuals. Dinesh looked like a female traffic cop, while Tykes had the long-legged grace of an Olympic sprinter.
Before the ambushing group could close the distance, Randidly cast Lava Golem three more times. He wouldn’t use Aether to break these in for himself, but they would still follow basic commands. Besides, the Lava Golem was practically invincible amongst those people who didn’t use Skills. As Randidly had found out all that time ago, physical attacks do very little unless the core is destroyed. In addition, the plasma weapons they used were primarily heat based; they would be almost useless.
And the Lava Golems Randidly created now were, by far, more powerful than those of the Patron of Ash.
As the first exosuit rushed out of the base with a raised plasma rifle, Randidly’s main Lava Golem simply tackled the other, smashing them to the ground. Almost instantly, the person inside was writhing in agony as the metal melted and their flesh began to burn away. With a sharp gesture, Randidly used the Lava Golem’s powerful Strength to drive its fist into the skull of the other, killing him instantly.
“Let’s begin,” Randidly said calmly.