Chapter 987 - Brilliant in the more-than-one-verse of severe confusion


There is an element of madness to every mage who dares to tackle dimensional magic. I'm uncertain if this has to do with the mana required, the convoluted nature of the spells, or the fiendish difficulty, but for whatever reason, dimensional mages are almost universally deranged.


My friend, the great Magio-Scholar Timus, has a pet theory that the overwhelming stimulation of receiving so much sensory input is the key factor. Tracking vectors across dimensions, feeling out nebulous, invisible boundaries, computing mana waveforms, all while attempting to cast even the most basic spell. It's a lot to take in, a lot to process in a frighteningly short amount of time. She believes that only someone quite disconnected from reality could possibly have a hope of achieving it.


Excerpt from the private notes of the Magio Scholar Arctus


Jim didn't understand what had happened. He'd tunnelled so carefully, using all of his abilities to their limits in order to remain undetected.


He just had to find Sarah. Had to talk to her.


She was being used, driven back into the very life that she had fled. The gentle, caring figure that he'd found amongst the shapers, wounded by her time in the savage Dungeon and in desperate need of emotional support, was now nowhere to be seen.


He could sense her, he'd gotten close enough for that. Wounded, close to death, her life force leaking out onto the tunnel floor as she soaked up healing magic like a sponge. Anthony had pushed her to the limit and she'd nearly died. Again.


There was no limit for that shameless creature. He would drag Sarah into every battle so he could harness her strength for the Colony until she went mad or finally fell in battle. He couldn't allow it.


When he'd finally succeeded in reaching out to her undetected, something had gone terribly wrong.


Sat safe inside his space-warping tunnel, he'd felt a strange lurch, as if something had lodged right in his gut. He'd immediately gone into a defensive thrash, but there was nothing there, at least nothing he could sense.


Panic rushed to the surface, only exacerbated by the sudden appearance of five ants next to Sarah.


He felt mind magic begin to batter at him immediately and he did his best to ward it off as he began to scramble. His long worm body twisted in and around itself as he desperately turned himself around and tried to speed away.


His whole body jolted heavily and he slumped to the floor of his own tunnel, utterly confused.


If he was panicked a moment ago, now he was frantic.


In that moment of distraction, the ants forced their way into his mind.


[HA! Egg killer! Think you can get away this time? Think you're hidden?! I can see EVERYTHING!]


The five ants began to rush directly towards his position, throwing themselves at the walls of the tunnel to dig. They really did know where he was? That should be impossible!


Jim had had enough. He tried once more to flee, and when he came up against the strange resistance, he pushed against it as hard as he could.


[Think you can defeat the spatial hook? Foolish! You've been locked in place, no more of your space warping tricks. Time to pay for what you've done!]


The voice in his mind cackled with mad glee, which terrified the worm even further. He pushed and pushed, every link in his long wiry body trying to drive himself forward.


[Get away from me!] he shouted back. [Leave me alone!]


[After the innocent lives you snuffed? The future generations of my family that you destroyed? I don't think so!]


Once more, the ant cackled as she and her allies dug faster and faster as they approached the wall of his hidden tunnel. The closer they drew, the more frantic he became, until his muscles began to tear from his desperate struggle.


There was a horrific rip, as something deep within him tore, but finally he felt some forward momentum. With a surge of wild joy, he leapt forward and tried to speed away.


[Oh no you don’t!] Brilliant roared.


Vaguely, Jim was aware of the ant's mana changing in a strange way, but he didn't care. So eager to flee he paid attention to nothing else, he rushed forward now that he finally could, gaining momentum until, a moment later, he realised something was very wrong.


Where was the tunnel? Where was the good sweet earth he'd used to propel himself forward? Gone? It was all gone!


[Oh ho! Tried to flee here did you? I didn't expect you'd be able to foil my hook, but as I said, there's nowhere you can run that I won't follow!]


Jim thrashed in the air as he tried to make sense of where he was. He couldn't see, obviously, but his sense of the mana surrounding him was fuzzy, warped.


[Where am I? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!] he shrieked.


[You're the one who punched a hole into this dimension,] Brilliant scoffed. [It took me days to figure out how to get here and now you want to say you did it by accident? Rubbish! Now get over here.]


Suddenly Jim felt himself being pulled, slowly, through the … air? His long body was being towed somehow directly toward the ant.


[No, no, no, no, no, no, no!] he whined and lunged again.


That same, tearing sensation, followed by a wave of heat that nearly overwhelmed him.


[Oh, do you find it a little hot, worm? Then why come?! I call this one 'the oven'.]


He still wasn't away! He lunged again.


[Gah! It's bright in this one and I can't close my eyes… of course you would come here, you scoundrel!]


He lunged again.


[I hate it when I don't have width! I hardly need it to track you though!]




[As a fractal it's even easier to see the evil that lies in your heart!]




[The squiggly line dimension! Not much has changed for you!]




[Be careful now, worm. If you try to run again you might just run into…]


It was madness. Everything was madness. Every time he jumped forward, Jim could feel himself being pulled, stretched, squashed and rearranged in mind bending ways. He couldn't hope to comprehend it, couldn't grasp any of it.


All he understood was his desperate need to be away, to flee and so he lunged once more.




[… the wall.]


The impact was stunning. Jim felt as if every atom of his body had been slammed into a trash compactor. What had happened? He didn't understand… was he free?


[Nope. Like I said, I can follow you anywhere. I never expected you might try and jump straight through the wall… insane to try. I guess you must have been feeling desperate. No surprise I suppose, it's me chasing you after all!] Brilliant boasted.


Something took hold of Jim and he shivered. A small ant skittered across his frame, tapping at him with its antennae. Mana surged.


[Time to bring you home. There's quite a few who've been wanting to see you…]



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