Not having eyes, it had been pretty clear to me that I didn’t see normally. The fact I could see in full wrap-around vision, above, below, in front, and behind all simultaneously with no disorientation had also made it obvious. That had all been weird, but my captivity had hidden just how weird things had truly been. I didn’t just see all around at once. I could see all around at once, even where I should have been blocked. I could see the slowly dimming glyphs that sat between me and the outside world. I could see a small hole in some rocks that were only a few feet away. I could see the wizard slime stuck to the rocks. I could see all of this all at once with none of it hidden or blocked by any of the rest of it.
I just couldn’t see further than about thirty feet.
My ‘vision’ was perfectly spherical, perfectly clear, and as perfectly limited as the fine print in a cable subscription. To here, and no further.
While I boggled at the odd delineation in my vision, the glowing glyphs finally stuttered and started to wink out one by one. This is when a tether I had never even noticed slid off of my mind. Then I lost my ever-loving shit.
Remember when you where a little kid and a pet died, your Halloween candy was stolen from you by your older brother, and you were shoved naked in front of your entire senior year class? No? Me neither, but that’s the level of emotional outpouring I experienced at that moment. Rage, sadness, confusion, and fear all assaulted me in one moment. Apparently one of the magical tethers was to keep my ‘Dungeon Core’ instincts silent, and that spell just faded and those instincts just woke up.
I don’t know what to call the phobia, but if you take social anxiety and agoraphobia and force those two fears to breed, then you will get the pale shadow of what my instincts were hitting me with. I was outside and living things could find me. The taste of pulped wizard apparently kicked this instinct into hyper gear even as I found that I was licking my mental lips at the taste of people! The only saving grace was that I was under a pile of stones. If I had been directly exposed to the sky I think I would have spazzed out and done whatever my instincts had required mindlessly.
The only thing that really kept me under control was my absolute rage at what those two wizards had done to me. The idea that I was too emotional to be instinctually emotional was a dark comfort.
I had spent thirty-seven years of my life being the master of my own mind. I could remember years of working sales jobs where the manager tried to induce ‘team spirit’ and force us to drink the company kool-aid. Trying desperately to convince us that the company brand really was the best brand in the world, all to get us to sell more, sell harder, believe! Bull. I played the game, I parroted the lines, but I never believed them. My mind had been my own. I danced the monkey dance needed in order to get my monthly paycheck, but I was still me.
Those wizards had shown me how dangerous my new world was. Forget magic slinging people across hundreds of miles or squishing people in the blink of an eye. No, that wasn’t dangerous. That was just death. I’d done death, it sucked but so had most of my life, so not exactly a surprise. No, death was a gentle release compared to someone enslaving my mind and forcing me to live as their puppet. Worse, an unpaid puppet. Something no sales job had ever sunk so low as to demand. I could become an unpaid puppet, a lowly intern.
I made jokes in my own mind, but mostly it was because I was enraged and had no way to express it. I was eating their corpses, slowly dissolving their bodies, and I still didn’t think it was enough. If I could bring them back to life just to murder them again I think I would have. Some of that might have been the dungeon core instincts though.
It wasn’t until I started to think about my situation that I really realized how strapped down my mind had been. Beyond my new instincts, I hadn’t even considered how crazy my situation was. I had been mostly reacting and lashing out, now I stopped to ask a few questions.
“What is going on? Where am I? Am I a gem?”
True Name: Dale Erickson Ender.
And…now my good friend blue box is back. Heck, now my ‘good friend’ blue box has decided to take up residence in my brain! This box never left. It just floated around in the back of my mind, always there, being annoying. It was like my first apartment, the walls had been super thin and my neighbor had been a fan of his drum set. He was there…always letting me know…constantly.
While spending a little time carefully considering this new information (spelled ‘cursing’) and a little more time spent strategizing (pronounced ‘pleading for my old life’), I decided that I needed to do everything I could to understand my new world.
Thirty minutes of careful consideration and my eventual plan was as deeply detailed and constructed as any in my life. I was going to poke the thing and see what happened. With a squint of my nonexistent eyes I mentally poked the blue box around the ‘name’ concept. It seemed like the safest option.
True Name: Dale Erickson Ender. Used as a key within the universal gestalt. Can be used to summon, control, contain, and contact an entity
Back up! Hard stop! If I could have skittered backward on my hands and feet I would have. ‘Used to summon, control, contain, and contact an entity?’ are you kidding me? If someone had my ‘True Name’ they could whip me across time and space and control me? Ok, new plan, I’m never going by my name ever again. No one gets to know it if they figure it out, they die. My instant murder plans for anyone who learned my name might have once given me pause, but my recent brush with mind control had changed a few things for me. I wasn’t going to go out of my way to pulp people and eat them, but if they tried to straight-jacket my mind, they are going to get the catapult squish!
Given that the part that I had expected to be safe turned out to be full of so much terror, I was a bit afraid to poke any other part of my body blue-box. Not knowing the danger wouldn’t make the risk go away, just make it worse. So, again, another poke.
Race: Dungeon Core (Variant: Sapient). A Dungeon Core is the geomantic heart of a magical construct. A living labyrinth which can spawn monsters and treasure in equal degrees. Some Dungeon Cores have existed for thousands of years and expanded to cover hundreds of miles above and below ground. Other Dungeon Cores have been yanked from their underground lairs and been turned into magical foci for the most powerful of magical artifacts. A variant species is one which has significantly deviated from the norm.
There we go, another round of brown trouser inducing information. This one comes with some interesting bonuses though. Thousands of years? Woot! A long life is awesome! But being yanked out of whatever hidey-hole I build and being press-ganged into being a magical artifact was…well…brown trousers.
Next up, class.
Class: None. A class directs and funnels the power of a life and how it develops. Classes are an archetype for how an entity grows. Classes can change and shift over time as one works within the remit of their class and the edges of its domain. It is possible to hold more than one class at a time. Holding classes which complement each other act to magnify their effects while also diluting progression.
Ouchies. Another spam splat into my brain. Worse, this one wasn’t going away. Well, the pain was, but the wall of concepts wasn’t. It was sitting there, waiting. I could feel it hunched up in my mind waiting to pounce and deliver another one-two punch to my brain. Maybe that was me projecting, but I could just feel it.
I continued to stare at my options for a while, but I decided to let that sit for a while until I had finished looking through the rest of my ‘poke the blue box’ information.
Level: 37 - A measure of an entities power in the world and how they have progressed in their class.
Ok. So I’m level 37 in…none? Does this mean I haven’t progressed? Or maybe that once I select a class or multiple classes my current progression will apply to those classes? Or did I just miss the boat here? This ‘answer’ gave me more questions than it actually answered.
Mind: 5 - A measure of an entities' mind.
Wow. Less useful than the explanation of level, and I had thought that was useless. I could guess on some of this, and had, a body of one seemed pretty obvious for example. I was a small gem, probably pretty fragile and easily destroyed. This also probably explained my insane instincts that even now kept nagging at me and demanded I dig into the ground. But even then, Mind 5? Soul 8? Was this good? Bad? Average? Extraordinary? Who knew.
When I selected my skills they just repeated the description they had given before, though it was interesting that my skills had improved but I hadn’t been told about it at the time. The best I could guess was that I was always going to have mister blue box floating around in the back of my head and just ‘know’ that I had improved in my skill and since I had been mentally restricted before that had hidden it from me.
My guess was that all I could do now was select my class or classes. I already knew I was going to reject [Outlaw] and [Rebel]. I had no desire to get involved in either the shady side of the law or politics at all. In fact, I was hoping to avoid people as much as possible. I wasn’t sure if all my instincts were correct, my instinct to dig a hole and pull it in around me seemed stupid, but avoiding people? That seemed spot on.
That left the three powerful seeming classes. [Hedge-Mage] seemed interesting, the idea of throwing out magic based purely on my wishes was awesome. Even though I was never much of a fantasy geek, I had still loved the stories of magicians throwing powerful magic spells. The problem was that I just couldn’t see myself as some magical powerhouse throwing flames and destruction as I strode forward in a nice grey robe and staff. The lack of staff, robe, and legs made it a difficult vision.
The other two though…combining those two just seemed to make sense. The raw manipulation of space plus the ability to travel and even some kind of skill, something none of the other classes had offered? It seemed perfect to me. Sure I was a wanted ingredient for magical artifacts…but you need to catch me first, and if I can just teleport from place to place avoiding danger? Yeah, perfect.
So, with a bit of trepidation, I poked both [Spatial Hedge-Mage] and [Spatial Traveler].
I was right. Mister blue box had been ready to pounce.