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A note from KrazeKode

So, I've noticed some people speculating about various stuff, specially the soul integrity (which makes me really happy) and I also noticed that the story's discord was a bit quiet. So if any of you would like to have a place to discuss stuff about the story, and speculate etc, or just chat and shitpost then you can join the discord server here.

Xar scuttled in between the crevices of the walls, warily burrowing through the dungeon’s mana filled soil as he used his senses to keep an eye - or four eyes - out for any intruders. It had been twelve cycles in the dungeon home since Xar had awoken. During what Xar now knew was night in the outside world, his Soul-Mark had manifested on his back, carrying many other new concepts in it.

The Soul-Mark had allowed him to capture the moment in his head as the newer not-voice had spoken to him for the first time. Xar replayed the instance in his mind, going through the moment once more.

Conditions Overridden. [Class: Telepath] received’

‘[Class: Telepath] has reached level 4’

The voice had said it, and Xar had felt a new sensation aside from the need to Grow/Evolve/Kill rise within him. A new path to Grow. But this one did not need him to consume other denizens of Dungeon-home.

Xar had noticed how the Dungeon home had shifted the moment he'd gained the new not-voice. His siblings were usually content to leave Xar be, the only real threat had been their parents who occasionally picked one of them to eat. Yet, the moment the new not-voice had manifested in his head, the behavior of his siblings had shifted completely. They had hissed at him, clicking their jaws in warning and their parents had started shooting acid shots at him. Xar had hurriedly rushed out, erecting a barrier on instinct with his new abilities as he'd escaped.

It was a few days before he'd found the nice little crevice in a wall that led outside the dungeon home. Which is where Xar had decided to make his new not-dungeon home. There'd been a collection of slimes nearby where he emerged. But Xar had just used his abilities and ordered the slimes to go back into the dungeon-home and the simple creatures had obliged. Continuing to chew on the walls, content to leave him alone.

Xar pushed dirt over the crack, sealing the slimes inside. Then he continued his work until all the entrances to his burrow were sealed. That finished he patted down, some left over dirt, making himself comfortable as he sat. He'd felt a strange disconnect from the desire to Kill/Eat ever since the new not-voice had manifested. Xar didn’t feel hunger anymore. As long as he picked up enough mana cores, his body didn’t need any other food source. Xar had tried killing a slime and had found that he could still Devour other creatures to Grow/Evolve yet the compulsion he'd felt before Xar had been Xar was nowhere. The power of the not-voice over him was reduced, though the voice itself was present as always.

<I miss you Xar>

Xar jumped, as a voice suddenly played in his head. Hurriedly he shut the entrance to his burrow, looking around his nest for any intruders with his Mark. Xar remained frozen, as he waited for something to happen, yet, even after several minutes his search found nothing. Curiously, he tried to track the voice and found a link in the Soul-Mark, connecting him to something.

<Magic/Construct. Danger?> Xar voiced his thoughts, but the link seemed to lead nowhere. Xar let his Soul-Mark touch the bond, as he felt an unknown sense of familiarity with the bond. Concern spread through his mind at the foreign concept, and Xar used his Mark to explore his own mind, digging through his memory.

There was little to work with in his mind. A jumble of new concepts and a whole new language were filling it, and before the twelve cycle, he'd only known vague concepts. Xar continued searching through the memories, sorting through them one by one as he sat, his Mark pulsing with magic when a memory flashed through his mind.

Conc-al yo-r Mark. H-de.

Xar froze in surprise, his jaws clicking as he tapped his feet. He concentrated on the Mark, pulling it’s presence close to himself. The mark responded as his presence faded, now condensed around his body snugly.

He'd never realised about the presence of the Soul-Mark. Not until the shard had reminded him of it.

Xar walked around his burrow, exploring the memory once more. He had no recollection of this. The memory itself was broken as well, only fracturing further as he tried to go through the memory once more. The image was broken, and distorted. Xar dove deeper into his mind, and found multiple shards of memory connected through silver strings all tied to the Soul-Mark-Bond.

Xar looked at a particular shard, opening it in his mind as the scene replayed itself.

<Meet/See/Hello. My Name/Call/Sound is Xardhviladrothic> Xar had said, waving his hands as a human sat in front of him.

Xar moved through another shard as he hid in a bundle of hair, the void spreading infinitely in front of him as Xar was teleported alongside the human.

Confusion filled Xar, as he slowly pulled the shards together, trying to piece them together as best he could. Minutes turned to hours as he sorted through them, repeating them over and over. Many of them were a human girl going about exploring a world he could never have imagined before the twelfth cycle..

Who was she? And why did Xar know her? Why did he not remember any of this? Xar did not like not knowing what was happening. He was the greatest spider in his family, no, in the entirety of the dungeon home. Xardhviladrothic the great, the only spider to ever truly resist the not-voice of the dungeon-home. He would not be defeated so easily.

With renewed effort he started to examine the memories when an explosion of rocks spread through his burrow. Xar quickly pulled up his barrier as a clawed hand tried to dig him out. Xar sent an attack at the creature's mind, tearing into it, killing the creature instantly. Xar shot off from where the burrow was, swiftly running away from the dead dire-rat that now lay on the floor, frothing at the mouth.

<Dungeon-home, not safe for Xar>

A thought struck him as Xar quickly ran from the agitated creatures of the dungeon. He could perhaps try and go to the Human’s home. The shards showed many humans and other creatures that lived outside the dungeon home. He could try and get there, and reach the Soul-Mark-Bond.

A new purpose acquired, Xar ran through the dungeon walls, navigating his way through as he began to make his way out, onwards on a new adventure.

The journey of Xar, the Great had begun.

Again.


❖❖❖


Jennifer found a white roof staring at her as she opened her eyes. She looked around, finding herself on a comfortable bed, in a pleasant and neutrally decorated room, with mostly white curtains and sheets covering most of the furniture and windows. She recognised the place as an infirmary of some sort, quite obvious when she noticed the medical supplies in a nearby cabinet alongside various potions.

Jennifer sat up, surprised to not have a headache. Her eyes shifted to the door as the mage — Beritross — entered the chamber.

“How long was I out?” Jennifer asked the mage who went to the desk, taking out a quill as he quickly scribbled something onto a register.

“Half an hour or so, not that long. I gave you a thorough inspection. The healer too. You’re fine, but I do have some questions and I suggest telling the truth if you want your Apprentice Mage position,” the mage said as he pulled a chair across the room, setting it next to the bed with it’s back side facing towards her. Then he sat down backwards, facing towards her, his eyes narrowed.

“Have you used any mana pool enhancement drugs? Artifacts? Ritual spells or blood magic?” the mage asked in a calm, inquisitive voice. Jennifer looked at the mage, not detecting any hostility or judgement in his expression.

“I haven’t, unless skill effects count. I recently got a skill that increased my mana pool substantially,” Jennifer replied and watched Betrross raise an eyebrow.

“What’s the skill? From what we’ve recorded, your mana pool is a bit above average for a First year. But what I saw was much more substantial than that. What level are you now?” Beritross asked and Jennifer looked at him blankly for a moment. It was common courtesy not to ask someone about their specific levels or skills, yet the mage seemed to have no such restrictions.

Jennifer hesitated for a moment before she replied, “Level 17 [Resourceful Enchanter], the skill was [Expanded Mana Pool],” for the first time since she'd met the mage she saw his scowl fade as his mouth opened in surprise instead.

“How did you- that explains so much. Your body isn’t used to your mana pool, neither is your soul. How did you gain the skill?”

Jennifer looked at the mage, wondering how she could explain exploding herself to death by overcharging her mana. Without lying.

“I...umm. I pushed past my mana limit, till I levelled up and gained the skill,” Jennifer replied. She watched as the Mage's face twisted from shock to staring at her in horror before he let out a long sigh.

“Resourceful indeed. I do hope you know how dumb that was. I can’t believe you’re not crippled with burst mana circuits. I will never encourage such behaviour, at all. The skill you have is a skill most mages gain around level 30. Which is a milestone to reach for any mage. A sizable number never manage it before their fifties,” Beritross said as he leaned ahead in his chair.

Jennifer looked at the mage, smiling slightly, a difference of five levels was already sizable. To gain a skill thirteen levels above her own, and a class evolution level skill as well, was a massive boon.

“But,” the mage interrupted, “this still doesn't justify the potential damage you could’ve caused to your body. You would’ve crippled yourself for life, never able to use mana again had anything gone wrong.”

Jennifer nodded at the mage. Perhaps death was enough of a price for the skill though.

“Regardless, I’m not your parent and you aren't a kid. The skill is a boon for sure, and it'll continue to help along your natural mana expansion. Although I'll be prioritizing mana circulation exercises to keep your expanding mana pool from forming any strains. I'm assuming that since your mana isn't trying to kill you, you acquired it recently. It should be expanding as we speak, the skill isn’t instantaneous,” Beritross said, getting up from his seat as he walked to the desk at the corner of the room picking up a stack of paper.

“I've picked up the paperwork for your new position as an Apprentice Mage. Since you’re a first year, you won’t have the daily class assignments to deal with, a benefit for you I suppose. Fill in the form, and fill in which mage you’d like to be under and what specialisation. You’ll also be expected to fulfill several tasks the Academy assigns, suited to your role,” Beritross said, handing her the files.

“The lock is on the desk. Close the infirmary before you head out, and drop the keys with Shariel at the reception counter,” Beritross said, glancing at her once, the scowling expression back on his face as he walked out.

He is surprisingly nice for someone who scowls so much.

Jennifer sifted through the papers, most of it just informing her of her responsibilities and the rules of the academy. Along with a form to pick her choice of tutoring she’d like to receive. Attached was a short list of suggested tutors, but none of the names were anyone she recognized.

Jennifer sifted through the pages, picking up the enchanted quill in the form as she started to fill in the areas required.

I can probably fill in Nathaniel’s name here can’t I? He’s a registered mage, so a graduate. Since I need combat training specifically, a Ranked plate team member would be the best I could hope for. Convincing him to come visit, despite not being faculty, would be the difficult part.

Jennifer frowned as she thought over the idea for a moment. She really had no way of making sure Nathaniel would visit her without visiting the guild or mentioning her Mark. The latter she could do if she was careful, but the former she'd like to avoid as much as she could. She didn't have the strength to influence the guild, nevermind, force it to move on her terms. And she couldn't risk letting the deranged Mark there discover her once more.

Maybe if I can send him a secured message. But what is-

A knock on the door interrupted her and Jennifer stopped her pacing. She tried to sense who was standing outside but found [Enhanced Mana Sense] wasn't working, barely able to notice a disturbance.

“Come in, it’s open,” she said. The door opened with a click as the boy she'd run into before the combat class walked in.

“Hey, I spotted magus Beritross walking out of here. Surprised to see you in the infirmary, did one of the spells hit you?”

Jennifer stared at the boy, who stood at the gate, the awkward expression growing on his face as the silence extended.

“I overdid the spell, and fainted. It’s nothing concerning though,” Jennifer finally replied.

The boy nodded at her words, walking up as he flipped the chair around taking a seat. “So, you’re a first year right? What family? I don’t think I know of one that specialises in glass affinity, and that was some serious firepower for a first year, all the more so for one that hasn’t even joined,” the boy said, his light golden hair glistening in the sunlight.

Jennifer stared at the boy. She felt slightly annoyed by his presence, yet she didn't let it show on her face. “I didn’t get your name. I guess you didn't get mine either. I’m Jennifer,” she said, extending a hand.

“Ah, right. I’m Livian, Livian Firgold. Second year [Light Mage], or well, hoping to be one. I don’t have the class yet,” Livian said, giving her a shy smile.

“I’ve never heard of a light mage before. You can... use light?” Jennifer asked, her curiosity piqued.

“Oh, no. Well, actually, yes. You can control light, and a lot of other things, it’s actually a derivative class with three other bases. The primary advantage is being able to turn invisible, along with other light based attacks that can pierce through barriers, but I think the class has more use in a utility field and research. And also-”

“I see,” Jennifer said, cutting off the excited boy. She felt bad, but she'd rather not spend an hour listening to him talk. “Did you need something from me?”

“Right. So, since you’re an apprentice mage. I actually had an offer for you. You’re new to the academy and I'm assuming you're unfamiliar with the responsibilities of an Apprentice Mage as well, since you’re skipping like a whole year and a half and jumping directly into the position. So, I'll help you out with the work involved and the paperwork etc, in return for a favour,” Livian said, a nervous smile plastered on his face.

“What’s the favour?” Jennifer asked, as she looked at the boy.

“Ah, well. This will sound odd... I need to enter the dungeon. But not to adventure. I need to find a Light affinity spirit beast. It’s one of the things that can help me with getting my [Light Mage] class.”

Jennifer folded her arms, raising her eyebrows at his words. “Can’t you just buy those?”

“Well, yes and no. The bond is stronger if I capture it directly. And I can’t survive in the dungeon without hiring a team. Which is what I was doing. But now the team I was talking to is refusing to go because of the earthquake. I’m hearing things about some Dungeon shift or something from my father. Don’t spread that around by the way. In any case, I wanted someone to go with,” the boy admitted, brushing his long hair off his face.

“Sorry, I can’t. I don’t think you should either. Not alone at the very least,” Jennifer replied as Livian’s shoulder sagged.

“I see. That’s fine, sorry about disturbing you,” Livian said as he got up and began to walk out.

Jennifer frowned, a sense of guilt building up. Maybe I was too harsh.

“Hold up, let me think for a moment,” she called and Livian turned around.

“How deep do we need to go?” Jennifer asked and Livian smiled as he stepped back in, quickly pulling out a map, the lines on it vague, yet drawn with magical ink that marked the entrances to the dungeon.

“It’s in the first layer, the dungeon area under the north west section. Shouldn’t be too far in. And I have an artifact to detect when the beast is nearby,” Livian said, as he folded his map back up.

I do need to find Xar. And a delve might serve as good practice. I can’t sit around all day if I want to be able to survive against the Marks.

Jennifer looked up, seeing a nervous Livian look back at her. She flashed him a grin, a predatory look in her gaze as she eyed the second year boy.

“Tell me more.”

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A note from KrazeKode

If you are enjoying the story then consider leaving a rating or a review. It would also help me get more feedback on how to improve the story. 

If you would like to support me as an author and read ahead then you can get access up to  twelve advanced chapters on my Patreon, artwork, discord roles, side characters and other bonus stuff! You can also help me out by voting for the story on topwebfic! I also have a discord server that you can join to hang out and ask me any questions you may have.

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/krazekode
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Discord: https://discord.com/invite/MxfTmJTeRW



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About the author

KrazeKode

  • Far away from humans
  • Floofer

Bio: I decided to take up the keyboard.

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