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A note from Spicy Space Squid

Here's how Claire looks following her ascension. The image itself comes from some point in the future, however, so she's wearing different attire. A non-ultrawide version of this can be found here, on the artist's twitter.

Chapter 63 — Gods and Illusions VI

Claire furrowed her brow as the heavens gave way to a dark, gloomy cave, its only light source the one embedded in her chest. The environmental shift left her head spinning. Something about her surroundings was throwing her for a loop but her eyes were too unfocused for her to figure out what it was.

Log Entry 1673
Your ascension is complete. You have become a Frostblight Lyrkress.

Your eyesight has been greatly enhanced.

The efficiency of your ability scores has been increased.

The goddess’ voice rang throughout her mind as her vision sharpened to a degree she could only describe as excessive. She could see everything in detail. Too much detail. The tiny cracks in each rock, the pores in her skin, and the individual strands of hair that now covered her legs worked together to overload her senses. Even the ground added to her malaise. It was too far away. It felt like she was in the air even though she could feel the hardened rock against her now hooved feet.

The effects of Frostblight have been partially negated. It will no longer actively damage you, but all healing effects have been halved.

You have acquired the following skills:
- Ice Manipulation
- Lyrkrian Shapeshifting
- Thermodynamic Regulation

The Basic Fire Resistance skill has been assimilated into Thermodynamic Regulation. This assimilation has earned you a proficiency bonus.

The Lashing Tailstrike and Quadrupedal Bloodrush skills have been assimilated into Unarmed Combat Mastery. This assimilation has earned you a proficiency bonus.

Unarmed Combat Mastery has failed to evolve into Lyrkrian Martial Arts. Not all requirements were met.

Log Entry 1674
Achievement Unlocked - Ascension

You have taken the first step to immortality. Do not dawdle or grow complacent. Many more await.

None of the abilities she had gained were unexpected. The class’ description had highlighted all three of them as notable traits. If there was anything that caught her off guard, it was the lack of change. Common sense dictated that a racial class’ evolution was meant to come with a significant increase in power; Claire had expected more than just three boring skills with relatively unimpressive names. Thinking that there was little excitement to be had, the freshly transformed lyrkrian decided to start by reading the blandest of the three acquisitions, just to get it out of the way.

Thermodynamic Regulation - Level 2
Some individuals are well learned and capable of reciting complicated systems with little beyond their memories to aid them. You, on the other hand, find it difficult to recall if a lit match is meant to be hotter than a ball of snow. This lack of understanding stems in part from your lackluster mental faculties and in part because neither will bring you any discomfort. Your body has adapted such that it is unaffected by changes in temperature, so long as they do not fall within the realm of the extreme.

Effects
- You are highly resistant to heat and cold.
- You are able to influence the temperature of your surroundings by radiating either a warm or frigid aura.

Is it just me, or is this skill very unspecific? Aren't there supposed to be numbers? Though not entirely satisfied with the Goddess’ sloppier-than-usual handiwork, Claire found the skill itself more versatile than expected, albeit not in a way that seemed even the slightest bit useful. She didn’t see a purpose in turning herself into a portable fireplace or ice room.

Ice Manipulation - Level 1
Some individuals are destined for greatness. Others are destined to become portable ice rooms. Accept your fate. There is no changing it.

Shut up, Box. Stop reading my mind. And at least describe the skill next time!

Effects
- You are capable of exerting some degree of control on the element of ice.
- The power of your ice magic is increased by 10% (0% + 10% per level) of the sum of your wisdom and spirit, expressed as a percentage.

Spells
- Icebolt
- Freeze Toilet

The spell list left the halfbreed blinking in confusion. She tried rubbing her eyes, massaging her temples, and cleaning out her ears, but for some odd reason, the list refused to change. Icebolt and Freeze Toilet remained the only two spells available, and neither was even remotely close to impressive. Bolt spells were the most basic hexes there were, and every single one of them was identical. They would create a small projectile that would fly at the mage’s target and apply an elemental effect. Freeze Toilet was equally as uninteresting, with its description only serving to validate that it was flat out useless. It was a short-ranged spell that would allow her to target and freeze any and all toilets in a scaling radius that started at a paltry two meters. Anything that happened to be touching one of the aforementioned toilets would also be frozen. Not that it mattered. At that range, an Icebolt would prove just as effective.

Why doesn’t force magic have any bolt spells? Claire contemplated the question for a bit, but she was unable to come up with any working theories, so she soon moved on and turned her eyes on her final new skill.

Lyrkrian Shapeshifting - Level 1
The transformation of one’s body is typically a process that requires a momentous amount of effort. You have, time and time again, demonstrated that you do not understand the concept of effort. Under normal circumstances, your lethargy would be conducive to failure, but as a lyrkress, it matters very little. You are capable of altering your body as you see fit.

Effects
- You may freely adjust the extent to which different parts of your lyrkrian form are presented as observable characteristics
- 15% (10% + 5% per level) of your body can be transformed per second

The description itself didn’t provide many notable details, but that wasn’t a problem. Reading through it provided an intuitive understanding of how the ability was meant to work—transforming had already become another one of her body’s standard functions.

Clenching and unclenching her fists, she decided to give herself a more detailed once over before giving the skill a shot. She started by turning around and looking towards the far end of her elongated frame. Her tail’s tip was surprisingly fluffy, covered in a mix of scale and feather-like fur. She couldn’t help but enjoy the sensation that was produced when it brushed up against itself. Equally as pleasant and peculiar was the feeling of her lower half against the ground. It felt sort of like she was crawling, just without her limbs doing any of the work, not that her snakier-bits had any real limbs to work with. Technically, she had a pair of flippers situated right where her rear legs would have been had she been a full fledged cervitaur. But as far as Claire was concerned, they didn’t count. The marine mobility tools were useless on land. They were only about as long as her forearms and less than half as muscular.

By contrast, the tail that was her torso was massive, making up well over two thirds of her body by weight. The whole appendage was wrapped in a thick coat of scale, more rigid and durable than the lamella that had covered bits and pieces of her body. The larger scales intruding on her cheeks were the only ones whose size they failed to exceed.

At the front of her frame stood a pair of unfamiliar legs. They were roughly the same width as her old ones, but somehow felt more robust. She thought it a bit strange that her toes had been replaced by hooves and fins, but the sensation only lasted until she took her first hesitant step forward. The body—her body—responded in a way that was strangely natural. The forelimbs helped her with her balance, but she had no trouble remaining stable even when she reared them. Her snake half kept her anchored in place.

With her more monster-like parts fully inspected, Claire moved on to checking her upper body. It was almost completely unchanged, with the only difference she noticed being a slight increase in the number of scales. The part where her waist met her lower chest was surprisingly well integrated. It wasn’t exactly seamless, as there was certainly a point where her beast-like features seemed to suddenly take over, but neither was it egregious. The transition was smooth enough for her to find it aesthetically pleasing.

The only problem was the true ice shard, which was still stuck in her upper chest. Its base was located right where her arms would intersect were she to cross them, a perfect, mocking location. Though she still found it somewhat of an annoyance, the halfbreed recognized that the ascension had turned the so-called power source into a part of her body. She didn’t know exactly how it worked, but she could feel when something was touching it, and she could even channel her mana through it in the same manner she would an arm or a leg.

Shrugging off her dissatisfaction, the lyrkress put her shapeshifting skill to work. The first thing she did was grow her fins out. With a little bit of straining, she was able to turn them into fully functional legs, capable of lifting her rear off the ground. With that confirmed, she quickly moved on to testing the exact opposite and sucked both sets of legs back into her body. To her surprise, she was able to turn herself into what was effectively a true lamia with only a bit of effort; a casual thought and a moment of concentration was all she needed to outright disable every horsier feature she had.

It was like she had a pair of levers in her head, one representing the expression of her cervitaurian traits, and another for her lamian ones. She could tweak them without much difficulty, but continuing to keep them in their altered positions tired her. It was like she was being made to hold a series of weighted objects; the longer she kept it up, the more difficult it became. The changes available to her were so drastic that she could even take on the humanoid form she had possessed as a halfbreed, albeit for no more than a few minutes at a time.

Log Entry 1675
Lyrkrian Shapeshifting has reached level 2.

After a bit of playing around, the lyrkress reverted her appearance to its default. The shapeshifting skill was certainly one that would see plenty of use, but she decided to shelve it for the time being. There wasn’t enough space in the underground compartment for her to run any real experiments. Mastering all the different variations seemed mind-numbing to say the least, but that was precisely why she wanted to do it. She was sure to be at an advantage if the monsters and people she fought were unaware of all the tools at her disposal.

Thinking of combat reminded Claire that she had abandoned a battle in order to ascend. As a whole, the process hadn’t exactly been instantaneous, given all her deliberation and testing, but it also hadn’t taken very long. There was no doubt that the borroks would still be around, and she had every intention of jumping back into the fray. The bug-monkeys, their friends, and their variants would make for the perfect training dummies.

Plan in mind, Claire summoned Shoulderhorse, who had for some odd reason been dismissed during the evolutionary process, and ordered it to consume the boulder that cut her off from the borroks above. It didn’t look like she was going to be able to make her way back up the hole with her newfound size, but a quick application of lyrkrian shapeshifting solved the problem in a heartbeat. She was able to slither right back up through her escape route by removing all her centaurian parts. Ears aside, of course. Aesthetics were important, after all.

After making it halfway up, she realised that there were two corrupted wolves sitting by the entrance. The pair started barking and howling as she neared, but she didn’t mind. If anything, she was more than happy to have them alert their allies.

The rogue extended her fingers and ramped up her speed as she burst through the ice, reverted to her true form, and reached for the wolves’ necks. Her intention had been to choke the furry duo, but upon squeezing, she soon found their spines snapped in her hands. The force of her grip had crushed their backbones to tiny broken bits.

Log Entry 1676
You have slain a level 24 Corrupted Frost Wolf.

Log Entry 1677
You have slain a level 27 Corrupted Frost Wolf.

It was only then that Claire was finally starting to understand why an ascension mattered as much as it did. She had only gained 10 strength, courtesy of the Halfbreed class finally reaching its maximum level, but she was more than twice as strong. Throwing a wolf into the wall was enough to cause a bloody explosion and kicking a warrior nearly triggered another. The borrok’s ribs were completely obliterated by the attack. Its chest was sunken in, unable to support any of its weight, and its insides were leaking from the gaps in its pelt. If not for its absurd vitality, the monster would have died in a heartbeat. Not that it made a difference. The beast was dead either way. A second attack, a flipper slap, smashed its head and caused it to detonate.

Log Entry 1678
You have slain a level 43 Borrok Warrior.

It was easy. Too easy. She had been able to take down warriors without much difficulty even before her ascension, but now, it was a cakewalk. It was almost like the difficulty she had previously experienced was nothing but a lie.

Claire was proud of her progress, but also a bit annoyed, annoyed that even the warriors were dropping like flies. Fortunately, the lyrkress had a thousand punching bags lined up in front of her. Perfect for venting all her undue stress.

___

Claire

Health: 2015/2015
Mana: 3235/3245
Health Regen: 500/hour (1000/hour)
Mana Regen: 1984/hour

Ability Scores - 76 Points Available
- Agility: 314
- Dexterity: 280
- Spirit: 246
- Strength: 225
- Vitality: 250
- Wisdom: 496

Racial Class: Frostblight Lyrkress - Level 50.01
- Paralyzing Gaze - Level 6.51
- Ice Manipulation - Level 1.31
- Lyrkrian Shapeshifting - Level 2.73
- Thermodynamic Regulation - Level 2.50

Primary Class: Llystletein Bloodthief - Level 53.37
- Assassinate - Level 11.36
- Bloodthief - Level 9.74
- Charm Catgirl - Level 1.00
- Cloak and Dagger - Level 8.73
- Envenom - Level 13.08
- Manathief - Level 9.11
- Phantom Blade - Level 5.79

Secondary Class: Llystletein Force Mage - Level 40.65
- Basic Force Resistance - Level 3.57
- Catgirl Detector V. 0.17 - Level 14.04
- Detect Force Magic - Level 12.73
- Force Manipulation - Level 13.16

Unclassed Skills
- Artifact Manipulation - Level 2.00
- Axe Mastery - Level 1.04
- Club Mastery - Level 11.32
- Dagger Mastery - Level 11.26
- Dancing - Level 7.34
- Digging - Level 11.92
- English - Level 25
- Llystletein Authority - Level 5.24
- Makeshift Weapon Mastery - Level 16.82
- Marish - Level 19.05
- Sewing - Level 1.42
- Sneaking - Level 14.18
- Spear Mastery - Level 5.46
- Sword Mastery - Level 8.38
- Throwing - Level 7.23
- Tracking - Level 9.61
- Unarmed Combat Mastery - Level 13.43

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About the author

Spicy Space Squid

Bio: Surprisingly tangy and delicious.

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