The message from the system hung there in the spirit's view. And hung. And continued to hang there. In the end, getting one intelligence did nothing for the spirit's actual intelligence. Unfortunately, it was not going to suddenly gain new knowledge and become capable of navigating the system. Similarly, the system wasn't about to run out of patience any time soon and so the stalemate between the system and the spirit persisted.
It didn't help much that the Voidlands were such a peaceful place. Aside from the occasional mass slaughter. It just wasn't a particularly educational environment for a newborn that lacked even a basic capacity for learning. Two intelligence just wasn't an awe inspiring number and the spirit was not getting any input from its surroundings. So it stayed there for another 26 years, until the corpses around it finished decaying. Any remnant mana in the corpses wasn't something the spirit possessed the ability to extract, and so for the first time since its birth it was forced to move in search of a food source.
Realistically, a normal environment would be able to sustain a small spirit, even if it wasn't capable of birthing one. The Voidlands only naturally contained void mana, something the spirit had no ability to absorb, while the corpses that could provide other mana produced incompatible mana or had stopped leaking excess. Luckily for the spirit the mana that escaped from other corpses around the battlefield didn't manage to spread far, hampered by the void mana, and so the spirit evcentually settled in a nice little pocket of mana...and stayed there.
In the background, more intelligence increase notifications piled up, unread by the spirit, that through consistent consumption had managed to turn from a flickering wisp of light to a slighly larger flickering wisp of light. The unconscious growth of a spirit was slow and unhurried without predators, and no creature in the Voidlands would bother attacking a flickering wisp of light.
*56 years later*
More time having passed, a wave occurred again, this time the hordes were composed entirely of smallish humanoids with red-orange skin, larger versions of this creatures interspersed throughout the hordes. This time there were seven hordes in total, the humanoids started fighting the moment they touched the members of another horde. Even at first glance this fight was different from the scatterred combat that had birthed the spirit or the mindless violence that had fed it for so long. No, this time, the hordes stuck together, as the larger ones acted somewhat like leaders. There were no tactics in the common meaning of the word, but the humanoids stuck in groups rather than scatterring randomly, allowing them to fight with less casualties than an idiotic charge.
The larger ones smashed through the small ones, sending them flying through the air with throws or punches, wrenching them apart on the spot, curshing them underfoot, or simply tossing them backwards where they were swarmed and shredded by the following humanoids. A headbutt from one large creature crushed the skull of another large creature, yet the big one was soon pulled down and ripped apart by the horde.
As organized as they were compared to the previous hordes, they threw themselves into the meat grinders that existed everywhere a horde met another. Yet, the occasional backward glances by some indicated that they were less than happy to do so. Though any that dared turn around were torn apart gleefully by their former allies. All in all, it was shaping up to be just the bloodbath as the previous hordes.
However, as the battle dragged on, powerful individuals started to emerge, larger, faster, or even just smarter creatures survived as the battle dragged on, until suddenly the survivors of each horde turned and ran the way they came.
The dead had been left behind, and returned this stretch of the Voidlands to the bountiful harvest it was for the spirit. It had been floating above the carnage below, instinctually absorbing all the food around it and in the process...
A miracle occurred.
All of a sudden, the spirit's intelligence had increased and now so too had its mental complexity. So it had its first thought: "........([email protected]#$^)!"
That was to be expected. The spirit could indeed retain information properly now and start actual learning. So the first thought had been...incomprehensible. There had been only a primitive form of intention to express contentment. True sapience or even sentience was a long way to go.
A larger stretch of time had passed by now, and the spirit was starting to understand good and not good. Having food was 'good.' Not having food was...'not good.' It was a start though, as two default thoughts were likely still better than just one.
Floating around to locate better mana pockets tende to do that to a spirit. Of course, disliking the moving itself was beyond the little spirit's abilities for now, but it had come a long way from being the weak wisp of light it had been to the ball it now was. Its brightness had dimmed and the size was still small, perhaps the size of a small pebble.
Now slightly disappointing IQ aside, the little one was making rather rapid progress for a spirit with its intelligence, not falling too far behind a wild spirit in other environments, because void mana aside, one massacre of the scale that occurred in the Voidlands provided a large amount of mana that was highly concentrated as a result of the void mana's compression. This was a goldmine for a young spirit, because the slaughtering in the Voidlands never really ended.
And so it was, that the spirit rapidly grew in intelligence, filling out the more than ample mental capacity, taking only 149 years to grasp basic emotions. Thankfully, this was all it needed to start using the system. Helpfully, the system prompt appeared:
|Start Tutorial? Yes/No.|