A full five days have gone by since the battle took place. The full mobilization order is no longer in effect now that the goblin army has scattered, and life has basically returned to normal for most of the town and its citizens. There is still the matter of the massive hole in the wall of course and the crumbling architecture of the rest of it, but that would take many months to repair so for the time being extra guards have been stationed at the damaged areas and a small excursion force was sent to their nearest allied town to ask for assistance in the rebuild.
Out of the 2000 odd citizens, the death toll for this battle was a fairly large hit of 40 defenders. Of the 40, the collapse of the wall was responsible for 17 of the deaths and the rest were either killed in battle or as a result of the wounds they accumulated. There was a reasonable number of wounded being treated still but at this point, it looked like the survivors would make full recoveries soon enough. Speaking of recoveries.
“What happened?” Alex asked looking towards Alice. He remembered the final spell and some of the destruction before he suddenly woke up in his soul. She responded with a shrug so he looked around his soul and gasped at the ocean below, or, what remained of it. Even when the orb that became Alice had consumed enormous amounts of mana it wasn’t this empty. He estimated that less than a fourth of it remained at this point and what was left was roiling and broiling like a sea in a violent storm.
What worried him, even more, was that below the mana the “bottom” of this space looked to be cracked and glowing red, breaking up the endless white of the void. “Shit.”
“Shit indeed.” Said Alice as she too inspected the damage to their shared soul. “It looks like you somehow managed to survive that spell, although I have no idea how and you shouldn’t have been able to, however it still did manage to cause some serious damage to you in the end.” She shook her head in annoyance. “I'm not sure if there is a way to fix this or if it needs to heal on its own but its likely the reason we are currently in here instead of waking up, since we can both feel that the physical body is in reasonable condition.” She concluded with her hand on her chin as she thought.
“It was worth it,” Alex said with conviction. “As long as Rose survived, then it was worth it. From what I remember I may have even finished off the rest of the army too!” He suddenly remembered with excitement. “I’ve gotta check out my level ups!” He said as he willed the information into his mind.
|You have leveled up!…|
|You have leveled up!…|
|You have leveled up!…|
|You have leveled up! You are now level 8! +16 wisdom, +12 intelligence, +2 vitality, +2 lifespan|
“Holy!” He yelled out loud, startling Alice who was playing with her long flowing blonde hair to pass the time.
“Hm?” She turned to look in his direction and cocked her head to the side in question. Then she, too, gasped as she felt the rush of power flowing into the both of them. Alex’s strength was hers after all and her’s was his, so as he accepted the new stats the power slammed into the both of them.
“Alex…!” She said breathlessly. “So many points… Do you know what this means?”
Alex turned back to face her. “Yea. This class had pretty insane stat increases already, but leveling is generally pretty hard. Even Captain Martland is rumored to be around the high 60s and he has been throwing himself into fierce fights all his life.” He said with wonder in his voice as the implications sunk in.
The more powerful the class, the harder it was to obtain each level, and even the weakest classes still took time. ‘Although most people did not wipe out half an army in a single reckless attack…’ He thought wryly to himself. “Level 8 already… I did not expect to raise that high for several years. I must have really done a lot of damage to that goblin army.”
Alice floated over and took his hands in hers and they spun around the space smiling and laughing with each other at this turn of events. Even if Alex stopped leveling now he was at the wisdom level of most people his mother's age and intelligence to rival their scroll users and Scholars. Not to mention the lifespan boost! He would live longer than anyone else currently… alive… in the village…. That was a sobering thought as his smile turned to a slight frown and they stopped spinning.
“What’s wrong?” Alice asked with concern and worry clear in her voice. She cared deeply for Alex, and not just because they shared a soul, although sharing feelings and memories were indeed a large contributor.
“I was thinking of my lifespan increase.” He replied with a hint of sadness.
“Ah…” She said quietly. “I assume then that you were thinking of the far future?” She asked slowly.
“Yes. It is a sad thought to outlive everyone I currently know, and as we get more powerful my life will only extend further. There is no telling for sure how long I could live for if I keep getting more powerful.” He responded deep in thought.
Suddenly Alex was startled out of his thoughts when Alice rushed forward and embraced him in a large hug. She brought his head to her chest and his face lit up as red as could be, but he quickly relaxed into the hug. “It will be OK,” she told him in a calm voice. “I will always be here for you, after all. It is good to face reality and understand that this will be an issue to one day face, but that time is far off and even after the others are sadly gone I will always be beside you, supporting you on your path.”
Alex’s mood lightened back up and he smiled while closing his eyes, leaning into the hug. “Thank you, Alice. Truly.” They stayed like that for a while and just comforted each other.
It had been what felt like several days to Alex and Alice and still, he was unable to will himself awake and leave his soul. They had spent the time talking and playing conjured board and card games. Over the course of their confinement, they had come to understand each other much better than before, seeing as despite sharing a soul they had only known each other for a day before however long they had been trapped in here.
The scarred section of their soul looked as if it had begun to heal slightly and his mana pool had calmed down to normal. It was still abysmally empty though and neither of them was quite sure but they figured it had to do with the remaining damage.
“At the rate of healing, this will take years.” Commented Alex dryly. “Any ideas how we might be able to speed this up?” He asked Alice with hope in his voice.
“Remember, I had no soul before we met, and did not technically exist as a living being, so I know just as much as you do on this topic.” She said matter of factly while putting her hands up in front of her in a surrender gesture and shaking her head side to side.
“Hmm…” Alex was getting quite bored here and desperately needed to know how the town had faired. He knew they had won since he was still alive, but what about Rose? His mother? How much was sacrificed for the win? He was dying to find out when he woke up. He decided to try something that he had been pondering for a while but was unsure how it might affect things. As he got up and began floating down toward the sea made of mana, Alice perked up and followed, questioning what he was up to.
“I have never actually touched the mana directly while in here, and I am wondering if that will let me control it while here and maybe direct it to heal the cracks. If that fails, I was wondering if I was able to submerge myself in the mana and go touch the cracks directly.” He explained in a matter of fact voice.
“What!?” She cried. “We have no idea what any of those things might do! For all you know it’ll make things even worse!” She shouted in alarm.
“We have both seen the current rate of healing Alice, and I am not willing to spend years of my life trapped within my own soul, even if I do have your pleasant company to help pass the time.” Alice blushed at this and turned away slightly. “These are the best ideas I have and I have decided to test them.” He finished speaking.
“Fine!” She said with a tone of finality. “You’d better not make things worse though!” She continued as she followed him down. They finally reached the start of the mana and the two of them stared deep into its depths, although at the moment it wasn’t quite so deep.
“Well, here I go…” Alex said uncertainly. He willed his boots to vanish and slowly lowered his big toe towards the mana like a toddler going swimming for the first time. As his toe slowly touched the mana he felt a jolt of power surge through his body and quickly pulled back with a yelp.
“Are you okay!?” Alice yelled with worry, rushing to his side and grabbing him by the shoulders. She noticed that the traces of mana darting around in his eyes was brighter and more active than usual.
Alex rubbed his head and responded quickly, “Yes, yes, I am fine. Just startled is all, I am sorry that I worried you so much. When I touched it I felt such a rush of power! It was amazing, like nothing I have ever experienced before.” He said while giddy with excitement. ‘So much raw power! The things I could do if I could control it in the real world!’ He thought to himself.
Alice frowned and said “Well don’t worry me so much for nothing next time then. Off with you.” She pushed herself away from him but stayed closer than before in case something went wrong when he tried again.
“Time for round two…” He mumbled under his breath as he again lowered just a toe into the mana. From the feeling, he had before with just a toe in he feared that he might explode if he had tried something stupid like diving in. Little did he know, if not for all the extra wisdom and intelligence he had obtained from the recent level ups, he would not have survived dipping his toe in like he did.
As his toe touched the mana he again felt the rush of power cascade through him. ‘Is this what it’s like to be a God?’ He thought in wonder and awe. This time he did not pull back in shock and instead attempted to wrangle the overflowing power under his control. The task was impossibly hard however due to the amount of raw power that existed even within the small section that still remained of his mana pool.
Alice saw the struggle clear on his face and again stepped forward, placing her hands on his shoulders and willing her power to aid him in his struggle. She felt Alex’s muscles loosen some as things suddenly halved in difficulty for him with her added strength even as Alice tensed at the sensation of so much power rushing through the two of them.
Both of their senses expanded and they could now feel the entirely of the mana pool as if an extension of their own bodies and minds. They could feel where it ended in each direction, where Alex’s toe entered, and the vicious cracks that lined the bottom of the pool, injuring their very soul. Utilizing their combined wills Alex and Alice attempted to probe at the scars and felt the mana probing at their very beings. It was not a comfortable feeling, but it was not painful either, so they continued in search of any information that would help them.
As the two endured the uncomfortable feeling of the mana probing the wounds, they realized with elation that it was slowly healing the wounds! The two of them knew what had to be done without verbal communication and willed the mana to condense around the wounds and slowly seep into them. The uncomfortable feeling grew to a burning pain deep within themselves but as they watched the injuries quickly closed up and after only a few agonizing minutes they were done.
“Yes!” They both cheered in unison. “We did it.”
Alex turned to Alice with a big smile on his face. “Thank you for the assistance Alice, I could not have done it without you.” He said sincerely.
“Don’t mention it, this is my soul as well you know! I wanted it repaired just as much.” She said with a smile in her voice. “Now hurry and wake up and see what has become of you in the world of the living.”
“Will do!” Alex shouted as he willed himself awake, and the world briefly went black.