Once I got Sigmir down onto my lap, I noticed that she was sweating and shivering, obviously in pain.
“Adra, Rai prepare a camp. We won’t move from this chamber until Sigmir is better, so probably not before tomorrow morning.” I told the other two, while gently drawing my healing-rune formation onto Sigmir, getting an impression what was going on in her body. At least that was my plan, but once I connected I noticed that the normally gentle energies I used to heal exacerbated the problem, it was not just an overexertion of her physical muscles, the powerful magic we had stacked on top of the powers she used herself had placed a tremendous magical burden onto her body. And now, she was paying the price.
I swiftly disengaged the heal, not wanting to cause further damage and simply held her, softly caressing her face. There was nothing I could do to help with her suffering beyond trying to keep her as comfortable as possible in the circumstances.
“Are you certain it is smart to stay here? If we get attacked by querders during the night, it would be bad.” Adra opined, reminding me that the ground below us was ice, not solid rock. I frowned but she was right, if we got attacked from below, it could easily prove fatal.
I created a stretcher out of ice and helped Sigmir onto it, not wanting her to walk at all. She protested a little but I was having none of that, she was hurt and in pain, so she would be a obedient patient and let me take care of her.
We went back into the central room, Sigmir floating along on the stretcher held aloft by my Ice Magic, Again, we were not attacked on the way back, so, once Sigmir was situated, I went back to get the chunk of Eternal Ice.
Transporting it was slightly tricky, I ended up encasing it in a block of Hard Ice, but even Ice was damaged by the ridiculous low temperature, the cold causing it to crack and air to condense in the gaps making it hard to deal with. As I was handling it, I noticed that I was more affected by the large chunk, compared to the smaller chunks, the slivers I had gathered from the Sprites, I could handle with my Ice Magic, only, feeling a cold, numbing sensation slowly invade my mind. The big chunk made me mentally retreat in shivers when I made magical contact. But with some effort, I got the chunk back into my magic bag, hoping that it would not be damaged. The magic bag, that is
When I got back to the others, they had made a camp as best as they could, even using some of the limited firewood we had with us, so we could have a warm dinner. I was looking forward to warm food, even as I was a little annoyed with the fire, for some reason. The dungeon was strangely comforting, even with the vermin in here, the soft glow from the ice and the overall chilling atmosphere was something that set me at ease.
“Who is cooking with me today?” I asked, once I reached them.
“I will, why do you ask?” Adra replied.
“Good. Rai, do you think you can sneak to the entrance and take a peek outside? I’d love to know the condition of the storm.” I explained and Rai cloaked himself in magical shadow before moving away, his footfalls almost inaudible even in the complete silence that surrounded us.
After he was gone, before Adra and I started to work, I remembered that I had gained a level in the fight against the elemental, bringing me to level fifty-five and giving me two attribute points. After a moment of mental debate, I placed one into Charisma and one into Vitality, bringing them to fifteen and twenty respectively. I had considered other possible distributions, but finally decided on those two, as they might give me special abilities. And my assumption was proven correct.
|Special Ability gained|
|You gained a Special Ability: Cloaked Aura|
|For having 15 Charisma or higher, you gained an ability based on your play-style. The ability Cloaked Aura conceals your aura, making it harder to assess information based on it.|
|Special Ability gained|
|You gained a Special Ability: Bloody Vitality|
|For having 20 Vitality or higher, you gained an ability based on your play-style. The ability Bloody Vitality decreases the amount of health lost when using Blood Magic on yourself. Other negative effects remain.|
Both abilities sounded rather interesting, even if they were not earth shattering. The Cloaked Aura skill sounded useful for sneaking around and in addition to passively preventing scrying or using abilities similar to Lenore’s sight to gain information on me. Maybe it would even work against abilities such as Observe but I rather doubted it.
On the other hand, Bloody Vitality sounded rather dangerous, I had already seen what could happen if you used Blood Magic for an extended amount of time on the same subject, when I had experimented with collaring the nymphs. If I lost less health to Blood Magic, wouldn’t that allow me to drain over a longer amount of time and possibly cause the same thing to happen to me? Somehow, I was not a fan. I would have to be careful not to fall into a trap when it came to using my own blood to fuel magic.
“Now, why don’t we look at what we have to work with?” I looked over to Adra and together we started to prepare a meal. Not that we had a lot to work with, some edible roots, some meat, some water, all cooked together into a stew that tasted relatively well.
Before long, while we were still cooking, Rai returned.
“The storm is still going on but it’s strange, the storm is far slower than before but a lot colder, I think.” he explained.
Lenore and I conversed mentally for just a moment, exchanging ideas at the speed of thought, allowing for a short discussion to take place in just a few seconds and we came up with an idea why that might be.
“Good, that means it is settling down. When the birds started whipping up the air, it was pure wind-magic but when I intervened, I added Ice in the form of a Blizzard, shifting the balance. I think, when I did that, the storm started to draw on the magic of the surrounding area, especially the glacier. Or rather, because the area around it was so saturated with Ice Astral Power, the storm started absorbing the matching Astral Power and kept going, long after it should have blown out. Now, the balance of Astral Power within slowly shifts until there is not enough wind Astral Power to keep the storm going and once that happens, it will probably get incredibly cold out there, at least for a moment, before settling.” I explained Lenore’s and my thoughts on the matter, even if we were both just guessing.
“That sounds dangerous. I have heard of places where the Astral River flows freely into our reality, changing and warping reality. Hopefully, it is as you say and the Astral calms down once the storm calms or it might turn into one such place, a place of eternal frost, even colder than it is anyway.” Adra threw in, lightly glaring at me.
“Places where the Astral River flows freely? You mean, like a Nexus?” I asked, curious.
“No, a Nexus is something natural, at least I think it is. When I was younger, I heard tales of places where some long forgotten sorcerer used their magic in a reckless manner, causing effects they could not predict and escape their control. Such places of wild magic are hostile to all life, only those with incredible resistance can survive there. Tales about them serve as a warning to young magicians not to experiment recklessly with their power or they might not only kill themselves but poison their surroundings for generations to come.” Adra explained, her glare getting more pronounced with every word.
“She’s talking about you, you know?” Lenore asked, her mental voice accompanied by the chortling cawing that was her laughter.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be more careful from now on.” I told Adra, not wanting her to worry too much. “But, restrictions on magical experimentation might just be a way of those with power to hold onto it, you know? Telling everyone that experimenting with magic will kill you, so nobody experiments and those who control the magical knowledge keep their control. And, knowledge is power, especially magical knowledge.” I added, speaking my mind.
“Oh, it in our grove it was not forbidden to experiment. Those who wanted to do so got their homes moved, beyond the edge of the grove so if they made mistakes, nobody but them would suffer. I heard that most people do something similar, those who want to experiment are sent to live in comfortable towers on mountain tops or in similar places, far away from other people who they might accidentally kill once their magic gets out of their control.” Adra retorted, making her stance on magical experimentation clear.
“You mean, like a cave deep underground, filled with their element? Why didn’t you tell me that I should use this chance and get some experimentation done? Would you lend me your necklace? I want to get some deeper understanding of the Eternal Ice and some additional frost resistance might be helpful.” I cheerfully told Adra, drawing a chuckle from Sigmir and some laughter from Rai. Adra just glared at me but she handed over the necklace.
But, before I went off to experiment, I helped Sigmir with eating, literally feeding her. She grumbled a little, claiming that she was not an invalid but I just shushed her and she let me have my way.
After dinner, I went off to the side, still in the room but facing towards the tunnel towards the Ice Elemental, just in case something interesting happened with my magic. The necklace was around my neck but the effect seemed to be rather miniscule, to put it in perspective the temperature I would feel comfortable in was just a few degrees lower than before. Maybe it would work better with magical effects or maybe there was some diminishing returns effect, making it less useful for me, who already was highly resistant to the cold.
It didn’t really matter; it was enough to allow me to keep extended magical contact with the small slivers of Eternal Ice, letting me study them. Interestingly, Lenore was affected as long as she stayed in her Hallow, forcing her to leave it and perch on my shoulder, her mind still connected to mine but less direct. It was a curious effect that neither of us fully understood but she was just as fascinated by the Eternal Ice as I was. Not because she was interested in Ice Magic but because there might be something similar for the other elements.
After a while of trying to understand what it was, I had an idea, trying to pull it apart, to shape it in a way I would shape my Hard Ice or the Liquid Moonlight. It took an insane amount of Astral Power and I felt a force push back but with Overflow, I managed to put out enough power to deal with the resistance. Finally, the Eternal Ice turned into a liquid form, looking similar to the Liquid Moonlight, but I knew better. What I had before me, was pure Ice Astral Power, concentrated enough to take on a physical form and not bound by whatever process had been used to form the Eternal Ice. For the moment, it was held together by my magic and my will but my Astral Power was quickly running out. I did not want to know what would happen if I lost control of the power in front of me.
Thinking fast, I shaped it into runes and with a flash, a beam of pure cold shot from the runes I had created, allowing me to channel the insane amount of power I had unleashed into the tunnel in front of me.
|You increased your skill: Ice Magic [72/100]|