Alex quickly headed back up to the guest room at the behest of Jeod who assured him he would be falling asleep very quickly once everything kicked in. So Alex laid down in the bed and stared around the room while he waited. Of particular note was a detailed map of the surrounding land and settlements. ‘Huh, it’s been years since I have seen an up to date map and this one seems much newer.’ Alex thought to himself as he looked it over.
This particular map had Pine Bluff located in the dead center which indicated either Jeod himself or someone else in town had produced it. Normally the center was wherever the map maker lived. It showed vast swaths of open land all around them for miles, as settlements were few and far between and most people have chosen to settle in old world cities which were vast distances apart compared to the current transportation of walking or rarely horses.
To the north-northwest was the settlement of Little Rock which was, just like Pine Bluff, named after the old world city that they were located near. To their east across the river was the vicious town of New Haven, a source of bandits and villainy. Humanity was stretched thin these days and the inhabitants of New Haven chose to prey on anyone that wasn’t them.
To the south was Wilmar which was very similar to their own town both in size, politics and so on and to the west was currently nothing according to this map. Obviously, there were settlements out there but the map did not expand very far considering the time involved in traveling any large distances. Most of the old major roads had been destroyed by the growth of trees and plants and were relegated to simple paths through the endless woods at this point.
As Alex was studying the map he suddenly realized how tired he was and struggled to continue reading the rest of the smaller settlements dotting the landscape and points of interest. ‘I’d better get comfy before I pass out and wake up with a crick in my neck’ He thought groggily. ‘Man this stuff… really… works………..’
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Alex once again woke up within the void of his soul, glancing around nervously for anything out of place. Besides the obvious beautiful girl floating naked above the massive sea of mana with a rope of mana connecting the back of her neck to the sea. Nope, nothing else out of place here.
‘Well, I’d better get this over with.’ He thought to himself. Despite this being within his own soul, and the girl having been born from whatever that orb was and likely not even a real girl, Alex’s cheeks were flushed with embarrassment as he had never actually seen a naked girl before. Sure, she was curled into a ball which hid all the important bits, but from what he could see, she was quite beautiful and a little older than him.
He estimated her to be around 5 foot 3 and she had some of the palest white skin he had ever seen. Everyone else in the community was shades of black or tan, with even the paler families spending so much time outside working, that nobody was ever quite this pale. Her skin was like unblemished fresh snow, and her hair was a long flowing blonde river that looked like it would reach her lower back when standing up.
As Alex thought all of this over his cheeks continued getting redder and he kept slowly approaching her while trying to stay on guard for danger, but it was a bit hard presented with a sight like this.
When he was finally within inches of the being he stopped moving forward and stood there, mouth agape, as he realized something he could not have noticed from a distance. Partially hidden by her long blonde hair, poking out of the top, were two long pointed ears! She was an Archon he realized with a start!
‘Did the Architect make this happen so that I was not the only Archon?’ He thought with embarrassment. He had not given the future of his race proper thought before now…. ‘No, enough of that for now. I need to find out if she is a danger and if she knows anything.’ He thought with conviction, attempting to wrangle his imagination back under his control.
Very slowly Alex reached out a hand toward her shoulder preparing to try and gently shake he awake when suddenly her head shot up and a hand grabbed his like lightning! “Ah!” He yelled in fear as he attempted to pull back his hand but to no avail, her grip was like a steel vise.
When Alex realized he would not escape, and that she had not moved a single muscle since grabbing him, he calmed down and looked at her face and gasped. Just like the rest of her, it was truly beautiful, and as he suspected after seeing her ears, her eyes had the lightning streaks characteristic of the Archon race.
“Hello?” Alex attempted to say in as steady of a voice as he could muster. She did not respond however and they simply continued to stare into each other’s eyes for several more seconds.
|Congratulations! You have encountered a soul-bound spirit and may integrate it into yourself! Doing so will grant you a portion of its knowledge and it a portion of yours. The personality and disposition of the spirit has already been pre-determined by absorbing the stray essence of the beings that entered the domain in which the spirit was born within. Do you wish to proceed with the contract?|
“What??” Alex said aloud in a very confused voice. His face was a mask of confusion as well as he attempted to process what the message had said again. ‘A soul-bound spirit? I’ve never even heard of that in school or any of the adventurer's stories.’ He thought to himself. ‘What have I gotten myself into now?’ “Sigh…”
“My information here is extremely limited but it’s not like I can just deny this since it came from the orb. I refuse to believe that this is going to be something bad.” He said aloud to nobody in particular. Focusing his thoughts on the system message from before, he responded confidently ‘Yes!’.
The moment he responded to the system message both he and the girl were surrounded in bright swirling light and she finally seemed to come alive. She smiled at him and, while he was stunned at recent events, pulled him forward into a kiss!
|Spirit #18583, designation Alice, has accepted. Soul-binding is now complete.|
The spirit, or Alice as he now knew, was still smiling brightly as she pulled away from the kiss. “Bwuhh?” Alex unintelligibly said in response to his first kiss.
“Hehe” Alice giggled and covered her mouth with one hand. “Hello, Alex.” She said in a sing-song voice.
Slightly taken aback, Alex frowned. “How do you know my name? What are you?” He asked rapid fire.
Alice rolled her eyes sarcastically. “I’m Alice of course, didn’t you read the notification? As it also said, I am a spirit, and I am now soul-bound to you for the entirely of your mortal life.” She explained something so insane calmly and as if it was a daily occurrence.
“But why?” Alex asked in response, still quite overwhelmed by this whole situation.
Alice flipped her hair behind her shoulder, and Alex’s eyes bulged as he realized she was still naked! With everything else going on it hadn’t even registered that there was an amazingly beautiful girl in front of him in her birthday suit! He quickly spun around and stuttered out “Could you please put some clothes on!?”
“If you insist. We are soul-bound now, Alex, and this soul is now shared by the both of rather than just you. I am not sure if you knew the extent of your powers within your own soul but if you wanted to you could have simply imagined clothes on me.” Alice explained as she willed herself a sundress into existence. Smiling and suppressing a giggle, she said: “It’s safe now.”
As Alex turned back around, still embarrassed but relieved, Alice continued with her explanation. “So essentially, the vast majority of my knowledge and common sense comes from the thousands of humans who have entered the nearby dungeon over the years. There are certain bits that are instinctual to me and certain bits that the System, as you call it, ingrained in me for various purposes, but the bulk of it is from your fellow humans. That is how I formed the basis of who I am as a person.”
Alice continued unabated while Alex tried to comprehend all of this information. “As a spirit, I am bound to your soul except for certain circumstances, although I do have some power still.” She said as she twirled around in her sundress, showing off her legs.
“The two of us can communicate at all times, considering I live and exist within you. Once you discover how to summon spirits and elementals however, you should be able to bring me outside for short periods at a time. The better you get the longer I can come out and the more of my power I can bring with me.” Alice explained succinctly.
“For the time being, however, I have only one item of true importance to discuss.” She said and paused here. Alex came out of his stupor and stood up straighter, signifying he had stopped trying to contemplate everything else she said and was devoting all of his focus the next part.
“I’m listening,” Alex said in a calm and even voice.
Alice gave another award winning smile and replied “Good,” before continuing on. “As you suspect, it was not entirely pure luck that you happened upon my resting place. Yes, I am sure the events leading up to it seemed so, but it was fate ordained by the Architect from the get-go. The first member of a new race can’t be left to be the only member, now can he?” She said with a smirk.
Alex’s face once again reddened as she continued. “So to that end, the Architect has created me. I am to impart on you the knowledge to convert certain humans to Archons and to expand the race.” Alice paused here again when she saw Alex’s gaping mouth. ‘I think I might have broken him…’ She thought to herself, finger on her lip.