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As I got up after the log out I felt a little strange as if my body was just a little off but the sensation faded within moments. The clock on the wall told me that what had felt like a day, maybe a day and a half had only been five hours. So I guess they had cranked up the speed during the tests as high as they could, cool. Still, I needed a bio-break and a little snack before I got back into my forest. I should also check on the privacy-settings to make the streaming as painless as possible. At least in the beginning I wanted to avoid watchers as much as possible while I tried to find my stride with the sorcerer. 

As soon as I was back in the capsule I summoned Pica and asked about the privacy settings and then setting them as high as I could and rejoiced when I found, deep buried and hidden, the “Invitation Only”-Button that would make my stream completely private, unless the AI flagged something I did as Highlight-Reel worthy, then it would go out no matter what but with my username hidden. 

With that done, I dove back into Road to Purgatory, back onto my tree. But I had a plan. First of all, as it was getting dark, I focused on my Darkness-Runestone and entered the trance like I did with Ice and Blood before, gaining the runes for Darkness, Concealment and Devour. I focused on the Darkness rune, trying to figure out what to do with a rune that was, in the end, the absence of something else. I felt two slightly different ways to write it, something I had yet to feel. Maybe every rune had to be written in a certain way to give it further instructions, so every Ice-Rune I had written to this point was Ice: Icicle, Blood was the flowing blood in a being, maybe there would be possible modifiers making them manifest in certain ways. The two ways to manifest Darkness were Tendril and Shadow. Sadly that seemed to be my maximum. Trying to gain more Blood or Ice runes just increased my headache so I guess there is a cool-down preventing me from getting all the runes. But still, with the new runes I could 
create some rather nasty stuff. First, a stealth-shot, Ice, Concealment, Hail, Blood, Spout, it should be a concealed Icicle that ripped open the target, causing it to bleed. 

Then, if I did it right, a channelled, Damage-over-Time-Effect, Darkness: Tendril, Devour, Blood, it should create tendril of darkness, devouring the vitality of a target to keep itself working.

The third spell was rather simple, Concealment, Blood, Darkness: Shadow, hiding me and my vitality in a shroud of Darkness, I guess you could name it Cloak of Darkness. 

But for now, I should try to process the two wolves I had slain. I climbed down, after checking for enemies and started to cut into the first wolf. Sadly, there was little cutting possible, it was frozen stiff, as was the second wolf, after all it had basically frozen to death from the inside. So no pelts or meat for me this time. But I should search for shelter, even if I could hide-out in trees a real shelter maybe to store things would be greatly appreciated. I applied my Cloak of Darkness and struck out into the moonlit forest. It was strange, the moonlight had almost the same colour as my Ice-Rune Magic but the, for lack of better words, texture, was similar to the Darkness Rune-Magic, something to figure out later. 

First though, shelter. After wandering the woods for a couple of hours, dodging a couple of wolves, killing those I couldn't dodge with a combination of my spells getting some EXP, the skinning skill, some fur-scraps, wolf meat and a couple skill-points. The after a couple of kills I levelled up, finally hitting level 2, gaining some hitpoints, stamina and Astral Power but nothing earth shaking. 

My search however was proving viable and I came across a cave in a rocky hillside. Luckily I didn't need to search for water, simply melting snow would be sufficient and I even had built-in refrigeration, what a service, I'm probably the only wilderness-survivor who can store meat for more than a few days. Sadly, the cave was taken and t he wolf inside was not fully fooled by my cloak of shadows and started growling. I focused and threw the Chilling Icicle at the beast, hoping that it would slow it down enough for me to have a chance and moved back out, I heard a yelp from inside and the padding of paws following me out. The wolf and I squared off 

 

After using observe, I knew that it was an adult Wolf, level 5 with ???/??? HP, I guess my Observe-Fu was too weak to tell my the value, not that it mattered. I started to cast the next spell and learned a valuable lesson, you can't draw a coherent rune into the air if you need to dodge a pouncing wolf and an incomplete Rune-Formation fizzles after a short moment. 

I tried two of my faster spells, managing to hit the wolf with an Icicle once, thanks to the Ice-Runestone, though that hardly slowed it down. I managed to dodge well enough but even the glancing blows were taking their toll on my body. Additionally, my stamina was dropping, fast. In my desperation, I used both my special abilities, Overflow and Bullet Time, at the same time. The Bullet Time made me able to draw with both hands in the same formation, Overflow made my Astral Power flow out like a river, packing all my remaining hundred fifty APP into the single Chilling Bolt and shot it the moment the wolf pounced at me. 

Sadly, that meant I wouldn't be able to dodge and wolf struck me head on, mauling my side and knocking me down. But the spell had struck true, ripping a huge gash into the wolf and causing the blood within the gash to freeze. The wolf started to convulse but I couldn't simply cut it's throat one of the earlier strikes had made me lose my dagger. 

With strength grown from desperation, I moved to the wolf, having a half-assed guess how to finish it off. 

Every time I cast spells the power either came from my hair or what felt like my blood so there might be magic in blood. With my blood I drew on the bloody ice on the wolfs wound the runes for Blood – Devour – Blood and while drawing it felt like my body was getting ripped apart. Pain, like I'd never felt before ripped at my concentration but I managed to keep my hand steady and finish the runes. After I was done, my only focus was keeping conscious and maybe regaining some Astral Power. My mind was drifting, fluttering like a butterfly in the wind. I don't know how long I was lying in a catatonic state on the wolf but when the fog in my mind cleared my side instantly reminded me that this had been a lot closer than I liked. My HP were at 15 and slowly dropping, my regeneration unable to offset even the bleeding and my Astral Power was at 50, lower than I thought. 

My debuffs told me that I had overdrawn my magic and my normal Astral Power regeneration would be suspended and that I was bleeding, thus not regenerating any HP and loosing 10 HP per hour until the bleeding was stemmed. So the small trickle of Astral Power was due to the Astral Regeneration-Trait, saving my bacon. I used the blood rune-stone plus some of my restored Astral Power to stem the bleeding and wasn't surprised that the healing-spell took everything I had in order to restore my side to a state  that was more a 'raw, ground meat' instead of 'bloody mess'. But at least I now had 40 HP and was regenerating HP normally.

Curiosity drew me to examine my log that I had ignored during combat. 

 

Skill increased
You increased your skill: Ice Rune-Mastery [7/100]

 

Skill gained.
You gained a skill: Blood Magic 1/100
Every living being on Mundus is influenced by the Astral, some can harness that power but if flows in every being to some extent. The blood of a living being represents a conduit to their soul, making someone ruthless enough able to use blood to draw out some of the untapped Astral in a soul, allowing the Blood Mage to use it in spells. Afterwards, the soul needs to heal and the connection to the Astral is disturbed, possibly for a long time. Blood Curses are amongst the most vile forms of magic as they can be used to embed the curse within the target and using the targets own soul to fuel the curse.

 

Skill increased
You increased your skill: Blood Magic [2/100]

 

Wolf died.
You gain 15 EXP.
For killing an opponent 3 levels above you you gain 5 Bonus EXP
For killing an opponent without a Traveller in your party, you gain 2 Bonus EXP

 

You increased your skill: Blood Rune-Mastery [6/100]
Skill increased

I guess every fight that you can crawl away from is a victory but I'd rather not fight again until I had a better plan. 

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Tsaimath

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