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Jason was painted red, both from his own blood and that of his enemies. He ignored it for the moment as he pulled a clear crystal orb from his inventory.


Item: [Genesis Reclamation Core] (transcendent rank, legendary)

A magical vessel capable of reclaiming the energy of unseated reality cores (consumable, magic core).

  • Effect: Can drain the energy from unseated reality cores, as well as individuals and objects that have consumed that energy. When completely charged, this item will transmute into a [Regenesis Core].

Touching it to what was left of the vampire after transcendent damage and a very hungry Colin got to it, rainbow energy started to spill inside. Once it stopped, Jason tried to loot the creature, which dissolved into rainbow smoke.


  • These remains have been drained of all magical energy. They cannot be looted.

Only after moving back to the dead ticks was he able to drain more energy and completely fill the orb.


Item: [Regenesis Core] (transcendent rank, legendary)

Can serve as the basis of a reality construct (crafting material, magic core).

  • Effect: Can be used as a basis for creating constructs that blend physical and astral components, such as dimensional vessels.

Jason had around twenty of the empty reclamation cores. He had intended to farm vampires to charge them, in the hopes that they would help him stabilise the node space or repair the effects of transformation zones. Instead, they would help him build the bridge between worlds, using the existing link as a basis once he had repaired it.

He understood the means to do so instinctively, courtesy of the bridge device that had been Dawn’s parting gift. Like the Builder’s magic door and the eye of doom, or even his essences, it was an item that he had absorbed into his soul.

The regenesis cores were better than nothing but he was a little disappointed. The number of orbs he would need to fill was not worth the time it would take to hunt a sufficient number of vampires. He could hunt down reality core stockpiles to accelerate the process, but the latest transformation zone had finally taught Jason the lesson he had failed to learn over and over. It was time to stop being distracted and dedicate himself only to repairing the link between worlds.

“Not everything works out quite right, I guess,” he told himself. He had never run around draining vampires to enhance his strength the way that Dawn had wanted him to, either. Events simply overtook him. Even so, the number and difficulty of the fights in the transformation zones had been effective in once more pushing his abilities forward.

Putting the orb away, Jason portalled back to the pagoda.

***

The vampires in Jason’s mezzanine lounge, Elizabeth, Klaus and Georges, had been waiting while Jason was upstairs, or so they thought. Their aura senses were unable to penetrate the walls, floors and ceilings of the pagoda, which left them uneasy and on edge.

It also meant that they were unaware that Jason had left, come back and was showering off the blood of their former vampiric rivals upstairs. Shade had led the necromancer and Mr North to individual suites in the mid-levels, leaving the vampires alone.

“I don’t like this,” Georges said. “It feels like we’re handing all the power to this infant magician.”

“We’re not handing him the power,” Elizabeth said. “If he didn’t have the power already, he’d be a drained-out husk right now.”

“He won’t go out during the day because we’re no use to him, in that case,” Klaus said. “With no sunlight for him to hide in, we take him together. Whatever extra power this place gives him, it can only be so much. Otherwise, why would he need us?”

“We also need him,” Elizabeth said. “Not only does he have power over this place but also knowledge of its rules. If nothing else, this strange realm may well collapse without him.”

“You don’t believe this threat to the entire world nonsense,” Klaus said.

“Look at the world we’ve returned to,” Elizabeth said. “Even those without magic have power that was unimaginable in our time. They can fire a weapon from a boat at sea that can destroy a castle. Iron birds carrying people across continents. Talking to someone on the far side of the world as if they were standing next to you. Then there is the magic. It’s everywhere, now, and even if we do not wish to admit it, some of these new magicians are stronger than us.”

“We have the numbers,” Klaus said.

“No we don’t,” Elizabeth said. “In the old days, only the strongest mattered. That is no longer the case, which is why we worked with the necromancer to create so many ghouls.”

She got to her feet.

“I’m going to smooth things over with Asano,” she said.

“Smooth things out?” Klaus asked.

“Are you fool enough to believe he isn’t listening to every word we say?” Elizabeth asked. “Plots and schemes are for behind closed doors, and this place has none. Not to him.”

***

Jason was meditating, sitting cross-legged and floating at standing height above the top floor balcony.


  • Ability [Hegemony] (Sin) has reached Silver 3 (100%).
  • Ability [Hegemony] (Sin) has advanced to Silver 4 (00%).

Although he hadn’t been draining vampires, Jason’s abilities had continued to advance. The challenges of the transformation space had advanced his abilities, although there was a definitive wall. After the early growth, things had slowed at silver three. Once they reached silver four, though, slow became all but a stop. On achieving that level, the advancement of each power came to a slamming halt, like a baby thrown at a wall.


Jason Asano

  • Race: Outworlder.
  • Current rank: silver
  • Progression to gold rank: 30%

Attributes

  • [Power] (Blood): [Silver 3].
  • [Speed] (Dark): [Silver 3].
  • [Spirit] (Doom): [Silver 3].
  • [Recovery] (Sin): [Silver 3].

Racial Abilities (Outworlder)

  • [Party Interface].
  • [Defiant].
  • [Spirit Domain].
  • [Tactical Map].
  • [Nirvanic Transfiguration].
  • [Dark Rider].

Essences (4/4)

Dark [Speed] (5/5)

  • [Midnight Eyes] (special ability): [Silver 4] 02%.
  • [Cloak of Night] (special ability): [Silver 4] 01%.
  • [Path of Shadows] (special ability): [Silver 3] 87%.
  • [Hand of the Reaper] (special ability): [Silver 3] 39%.
  • [Shadow of the Reaper] (familiar): [Silver 3] 88%.

Blood [Power] (5/5)

  • [Blood Harvest] (spell): [Silver 3] 41%.
  • [Leech Bite] (special attack): [Silver 3] 67%.
  • [Feast of Blood] (spell): [Silver 3] 11%.
  • [Sanguine Horror] (familiar): [Silver 3] 18%.
  • [Haemorrhage] (spell): [Silver 3] 13%.

Sin [Recovery] (5/5)

  • [Punish] (special attack): [Silver 3] 59%.
  • [Feast of Absolution] (spell): [Silver 3] 08%.
  • [Sin Eater] (special ability): [Silver 3] 03%.
  • [Hegemony] (aura): [Silver 4] 00%.
  • [Castigate] (spell): [Silver 3] 04%.

Doom [Spirit] (5/5)

  • [Inexorable Doom] (spell): [Silver 3] 89%.
  • [Punition] (spell): [Silver 3] 54%.
  • [Blade of Doom] (spell): [Silver 3] 79%.
  • [Verdict] (spell): [Silver 3] 12%.
  • [Avatar of Doom] (familiar): [Silver 3] 14%.

Jason had always been warned about the wall he would hit at silver rank. The transformation zone had pushed him hard and gotten him to the current stage, but it looked like he had reached his limit. There would be little more meaningful advancement without years of grinding, which was a task for the other world.

He opened his eyes, again regretting leaving Farrah behind. He had done so for stealth concerns, which was hardly a factor at the moment. He had told himself over and over that it was the right decision with the available information, but had a feeling she wouldn’t see it that way.

***

Farrah looked from the deck of the cloud boat, her eyes panning over the dome in the distance, as they had a hundred times every day since it appeared.

“I am going to kick that idiot square in the…”

***

Elizabeth moved in her ball gown like she was floating. With her pale skin, red lips, delicate features and midnight hair, she was every bit the vampire. Her face might have lacked the polished perfection of an essence user but her slight smile and smouldering eyes held the seductive promise of sultry intelligence. She was led out to the balcony by Shade to where Jason was sitting, floating in the air. He uncrossed his legs and set his feet on the floor.

“I realise that the other vampires are more rivals than companions,” he said, “but I would like for you to get them settled. You clearly have primacy amongst them.”

“Easier said than done,” Elizabeth said. “I am part of what puts them ill at ease. When there were four others, they had the confidence to eliminate me if united. With only two, certainty becomes insecurity.”

“Just do your best. I intend to continue resting for the day and move when the night comes again, out of deference to your requirements.”

“Thank you,” she said. “There is something I would like to discuss with you in private, which is why I’ve come to see you.”

“Go on.”

“I think you intend to kill us all.”

“I figured that out,” Jason said. “The big clue was when you asked me if I was going to kill you all. You think I was lying when I said no.”

“Yes, but I couldn't sense that you were. Every instinct told me that you were telling the truth. That scares me.”

“You're afraid of little old me?”

“You are an aspect of a larger concern. This new world has too many secrets and too much power. Now that the core ghoul expansion and blood enhancement projects have been put paid to, my expectations for vampiric victory have been diminished. Not to mention, I have no idea how many more like you are running around.”

“There's not many,” Jason said. “It's basically just me and Tom Selleck. You're looking to switch sides.”

“I'm strong and have valuable information. I also know I won't be the first to join the human cause. The old factions have fractured and new ones are being formed. I believe there is a place for me in this new world, so long as I let go of ideas about the old one.”

“That’s a lot of humility for one of the old vampires.”

“I grew up as a woman in a time and place where that meant being utterly without power. I know how to persevere.”

“So, you want me to spare you. You’re confident that I can kill you.”

“I’m a practitioner of vampiric blood magic. It’s not the same as the magic you use, but there are enough similarities that I’ve been able to learn things since awakening. I have some sense of the forces at work and how small we are before them. I believe that they could destroy this world, should they choose to. If you can control even the smallest measure of that power, that is not wise to stand against.”

“You put me in an awkward position, Miss Elizabeth. If I accept your offer, I’m as good as admitting to having plans to kill you. If I reject it, you’ll assume I intend to kill you and be an unreliable ally.”

“The assumption is made, either way, Jason Asano. You may as well take the path that benefits you.”

“It’s that simple? If you get out of here, you promise to join team human?”

“I can offer you some assurance. I have a form of blood magic. It allows me to maintain a blood crystal that will attract my soul and create a new body for it should this one be destroyed. There’s a price, of course, but when death is the alternative, what would you not surrender?”

“I can think of a few things.”

“My preference is to stow the crystal in a safe location, but we are short on those right now.”

“So, you want me to let you stash it somewhere.”

She took a red, finger-sized crystal from her dress; Jason wasn’t sure where exactly, not seeing any pockets. She held it out for him to take.

“Since my only recourse is to trust you,” she said, “I may as well trust all the way and try to reap the benefits. I hope you don’t think the other vampires joined you humans from a moral imperative.”

“I’ve been a fool more than once, but not that much of a fool. Joining the human side is not the same as joining me, though,” Jason said. “I am not a part of the human factions. I'm not human at all.”

“I’d wondered,” she said. “Your aura isn’t right for a human. I thought it was something to do with your magic, but my instincts were right. Even so, you came here on behalf of the humans.”

“A mistake I will not repeat.”

Jason took the crystal, still proffered in her hand.


Item: [Blood Rebirth Crystal] (gold rank, conjured)

The rebirth stone of a vampire, crafted with blood magic (conjured, tool).

  • Effect: Allows a vampire to revive from bodily destruction at greatly diminished power.

“This is quite the trusting gesture,” Jason said.

“I don’t see as I have an alternative.”

“Very well. Do you have a last name, Elizabeth?”

“I did, long ago. I discarded the name and the memories that went with it, long before you were born.”

“Then I will leave it be.”

“Thank you. If I may ask, before I return to the lower floor, do you know what became of the others who chose not to join us?”

“They survived the transfiguration of my domain, but they were changed by it. Turned into mindless creatures of hunger.”

“They are still out there, then?”

“No,” Jason said as he leaked a little of Colin’s aura from within him. “There are things hungrier than vampires, Elizabeth.”

The equanimity on her face was broken for the first time as her eyes slightly widened.

“I have to wonder, Jason Asano, if there isn’t something inside you more terrible than all of us.”

“I wonder that myself, sometimes. It’s time for you to…”

He trailed off as he felt something shake his domain, although the vampire sensed nothing.


  • A nascent spirit domain has expanded into your spirit domain. This has turned your border territory into a contested zone.
  • Claiming a contested territory requires the defeat of the other domain holder. Defeat can take to form of surrender or death. Extended absence from the border territory will constitute a surrender.

“Asano?”

He strode past her. In the direction of the elevating platform.

“Come with me,” he ordered. “It seems that Mr Gerling has chosen our timeline for us.”

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Shirtaloon (Travis Deverell)

  • Australia

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