Thomas watched with anticipation as the last few seconds on the timer finally ticked down to nothing. The sudden return of sensation caused his whole body to involuntarily jerk. He took a deep breath and slowly let it out. He was finally back! He slowly opened his eyes and was instantly barraged with a huge number of system notices! The first few were pretty similar to each other.
|System Notice: You have been healed. The grace period before your death has been increased by 5 minutes.|
|System Notice: You have reached the maximum grace period of six hours. Further healing will have no longer increase the grace period or add additional time to the grace period.|
There were a bunch of those followed by some more that worried him a bit.
|System Notice: You have been hurt. The grace period before your death has been reduced by 5 minutes.|
It didn't take a genius to work out what had happened. After his defeat, someone had clearly attempted to heal him. Out in the field that might be helpful to keep him from dying before someone could take the time to resurrect him. However, in this unique case, it had instead just prolonged how long it would be before he automatically resurrected. After that, someone had done the exact opposite and hurt him instead which reduced the grace period. In the field that would bring him closer to death, but in this case, it brought him closer to life. It was a weird circumstance, to say the least.
After the notices about being healed and hurt, he came across some notices that made him break out into a cold sweat.
|System Notice: Due to a massive influx of high tier Holy magic while in a state between life and death your body has evolved. Your race has been changed to Angel. You gain an affinity with Light and Holy Magic. +100% effectiveness to Light and Holy spells. -50% mana cost to Light and Holy spells.
You have gained Angel wings. There will be other changes to your body. Please examine yourself to see the additional changes.
|System Notice: Due to a massive influx of high tier Unholy magic while in a state between life and death your Angelic heritage has been corrupted before your transformation could be completed. Your body has evolved.
New Race Found...
Your race has changed to Nephilim. You gain Affinity with Light, Holy, Darkness, and Unholy Magic. +50% effectiveness to Light, Holy, Darkness, and Unholy Magic. -25% mana cost to Light, Holy, Unholy, and Darkness spells. This replaces your previous bonuses for being an Angel.
Your body has evolved. You have gained Nephilim wings. There will be other changes to your body. Please examine yourself to see the additional changes.
|System Notice: You have discovered a new playable race. You have gained the title "Unchecked Evolution". Unchecked Evolution: You may change someone's race to match yours. Usable only once.|
|System Notice: Quest Complete!|
|You have been challenged to a duel of honor. Participate in the duel. You will receive different rewards based on if you win or lose the duel.
Rewards: 1,000 Experience
|System Notice: You have gained 1,000 experience.|
Thomas felt like he was about to have a panic attack, he completely ignored the completed quest. His race had been changed against his will, even worse it was at least half angel! Angels were assholes! Demons weren't any better either! Thomas let out a frustrated groan, the absolute worst part of his race change was that it gave him no benefits when crafting things! Sure, access to holy and unholy magic might be nice, but it wasn't worth it!
Thomas finally cleared all of the system notices out of his vision and realized he was inside of a room he'd never seen before. He sat up in the bed he was laying in but before he could get a better look at the room he was in he felt a heavy pressure on his back. With a loud ripping sound, the remains of his armor and shirt ripped off of his body as two massive wings sprouted from his back. Thomas gave a start at the sight of the two wings behind him. The matching wings were some of the strangest, and he had to admit coolest, wings he'd ever seen. The wings appeared to be made of pure energy yet they had weight to them that made his body feel unbalanced.
The top of the wings, where the bones should be, were made of pitch black energy that seemed to be flowing from his shoulders out to the tips of the wings. Each wing tip was leaking little wisps of energy that looked reminiscent of smoke. Flowing down from the pitch-black top were 'feathers' that also appeared to be made of pure energy and flowed from the wing support down to the tips of the 'feathers'. Near the black support structure of the wings the 'feathers' appeared to be gray but as the energy traveled further down it turned into a pristine white. From the tips of each of the feathers, little streams of white energy emerged in a similar fashion to the black tips of his wings. Each little movement of the wings would leave temporary lines of black and white smoke-like energy in the air that would quickly fade.
There was a feminine yelp of surprise that immediately drew Thomas's attention to one of the chairs in the room. His eyes met Selena's. Selena stared back at him and the two massive wings sticking out of his back. She swallowed before asking in a shaking voice, "What are you?"
Thomas broke eye contact with Selena to look at his new wings and let out a deep sigh, "Up until the beginning of the duel I was a regular human. Now... something else." His head snapped around to look at Selena, she was his witness so she should have seen everything that happened, "What happened after I was defeated?"
Selena stared at Thomas, she knew she had helped him come back to life and while she was helping him she had deeply probed his body. There had been no sign of hidden wings in any of her searches through his body so she was just as surprised to see them as Thomas was. Just from the feeling they gave off, she could tell that they were a strange combination of Holy and Unholy magic. Not that she would ever say it out loud, but she much preferred the Unholy portions of the wings.
She answered his question with half of the truth, "After you were defeated we thought you were dead but your soul still remained in your body. We didn't know exactly what to do so Dean Zorzic used his holy magic to try and heal you to bring you back. Your body healed just fine but you remained in a weird state where your body was dead but your soul remained. Not knowing what to do Dean Zorzic brought you here to the infirmary to wait for you to wake up. As your witness, I stayed by your side. It was my duty to watch over you to see if you would awake or die."
Thomas nodded as she spoke, so far what she said fit with the notices he'd seen when he woke up. When she stopped speaking he asked, "No one else has been here?"
Selena shook her head, "No one else has come. I've just been watching over you since the dean tried to heal you. No one else has come close to you."
If what Selena said was true then it could have only been her that cast the unholy spells on him while he was out of it. Clearly, she didn't want to talk about it, not that he blamed her. Unholy magic was a big taboo and her having it would likely cause her no end of trouble. He didn't care if she had unholy magic, he'd honestly been interested in it himself and now he had access to it. Thomas gave Selena a bright smile as he said, "Thanks for watching over me Selena. I appreciate everything you've done."
There was a bit of a double meaning behind what he said. He didn't really appreciate her turning him into a Nephilim, but it was a hell of a lot better than being a full-blown Angel, in his opinion. Selena gave him a smile back without realizing that he knew her secret. But she stopped smiling and pointed to his wings again, "What about those? You never answered me about where they came from."
Thomas sighed and looked at the wings once again, "I think it's because I am an otherworlder. When I was defeated I would have come back in five minutes. However, because Zorzic cast those healing spells on me it made my return take much longer. All that holy magic that I didn't really need changed me. Not sure who gave me the black portions of the wings, but that's how I got the white parts anyway."
Of course, he knew Selena gave him the black parts of the wings, but if she didn't admit it he wasn't going to say it out loud and risk ruining their relationship. Selena thought for a moment before asking, "Can you hide them? I don't think you'll be able to walk around with them sticking out like that."
Selena had her own secret to keep hidden so she didn't mind helping Thomas hide his secret. It could give her more leverage over him in the future. Though, she had a suspicion that he somehow knew she had cast unholy magic on him. But that should have been impossible, he was dead when she cast it on him so there was no way he should know that.
Thomas slowly and carefully climbed off of the bed to make sure his large wings didn't hit anything and knock it over. After he was standing on the floor he really focused on the wings for the first time. He could feel them in his mind and instinctively knew how to control them. He was surprised to know that he could easily fly with them, though they would consume a fair amount of stamina so he wouldn't be able to fly for long. He slowly walked to the center of the room, his balance felt off with the weight of the wings hanging on his back.
Once he was in the center of the room he focused on the wings and slowly stretched them out. Judging by sight alone he thought that each wing was about three meters long. The tips of the wings easily touched the opposite walls of the room. Stretching them out as far as he could actually felt rather pleasant to him and he realized he had new nerve endings connected to his wings. Considering the wings looked like they were made of energy it was extremely weird to be able to feel them. He reached out and gently touched each of the wings. The feeling sent a shiver down his spine, the brand new wings were still rather sensitive.
Watching Thomas, Selena slowly stood from her chair and looked at his stretched out wings, "May I touch them?"
Thomas looked over at Selena and nodded with a smile, "Go ahead."
She walked over to the right wing and slowly reached out to gently touch the black, unholy, portion with the tips of her fingers. He could feel her soft touch on his wing and another shiver went down his spine, "I can feel that. It's so strange."
Selena stroked the top of the wing for a bit longer as she said, "Despite looking like it's just flowing energy it's actually really soft to the touch."
He had no idea why, but he felt a surge of pride at her comment on his wings. Maybe having them wouldn't be so bad after all? Selena stroked the wing for a bit longer before she stepped back to look at Thomas, "You should really try to hide them now. You won't be able to go out in public like this. The white part of the wings isn't so bad, but the black part..."
Thomas nodded and closed his eyes. He willed the wings to sink back into his body like they had been when he first woke up. Slowly, the wings shrank until they finally sunk into his body. Thomas could feel a somewhat uncomfortable pressure centered around his shoulder blades but it wasn't anything he couldn't handle. When he opened his eyes and checked he found that his wings were really gone. Selena gave him a smile and said, "Collect the scraps of your clothing and store them away. Once you do we'll let the on-duty healer know that you've recovered."
Thomas nodded and collected his ruined armor and shirt to store them in his inventory. He also pulled out one of his new shirts and slipped it on so he wouldn't be walking around bare-chested. Once he was ready, Selena lead him out of the room to meet with the healer. After they let the healer know that Thomas was awake the healer sent her assistant to let Dean Zorzic know that Thomas was awake.
Together, Thomas and Selena waited for the dean inside of the infirmary. It was a quiet fifteen-minute wait before the dean arrived. He was breathing heavily and covered in sweat as he came rushing into the waiting room. Seeing Thomas sitting in a chair in perfect health, he let out a deep sigh before saying, "You really gave me a scare boy!"
Thomas smiled sheepishly, "Sorry about that. If it helps I can explain what happened so it doesn't happen again with other otherworlders that may attend the academy."
Zorzic nodded enthusiastically so Thomas explained, "When an otherworlder is defeated in one of those rings just leave them be. It will take about five minutes but we'll revive just like anyone else. It's just a little slower for us is all."
Zorzic stroked his beard and looked deep in thought, "Is that true boy?"
Thomas nodded, "It is. If I had known before the incident I would have mentioned it. Using healing magic on me actually made the amount of time needed for me to resurrect longer. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but it's the truth."
Zorzic let out a deep sigh, "So it was my magic that prevented the enchantment on the duel ring from working on you. I apologize for that."
Thomas shrugged his shoulders and waved a hand dismissively, "It's no big deal. The problem is, now I need to apologize to Brao."
Zorzic perked up and smiled, "Actually, you don't need to do that. Due to the weird circumstances of the duel and not know what had actually happened to you, I determined that the duel was inconclusive. Brao may challenge you again in the future but rest assured that I will not allow him, or anyone else, to pull that same low trick again. I've already scheduled a meeting with the King to discuss the matter."
Thomas climbed to his feet and smiled at Zorzic, "Thank you Dean Zorzic. For now, I think I am going to go rest."
The dean nodded as Thomas left the infirmary with Selena following him. He didn't need rest at all. What he really wanted to do was get to his dorm room and check himself over from head to toe. He needed to know what else about his body had changed before it got him in trouble! If anyone but Selena had seen his wings he would probably already be in trouble. He couldn't let something surprise him in the future. He made his way toward his dorm room in silence with Selena quietly following behind him.