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A note from Kyfe

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Reivyn's body submerged in the liquid and he slowly sank to the bottom. He didn't know what to expect out of entering the alchemical concoction, but based on what happened to the goblin, he wasn't thinking it would be anything good.

Except for not being able to breathe, it's not much different than water. It's not actually boiling - I suspect the bubbling is magical in nature - and it's cold to the touch.

He kept his eyes firmly shut, as he didn't want to risk permanent damage from the unknown substance, but the first few moments of falling into the pit weren't unpleasant. He swished his arms and kicked his feet in an attempt to swim to the edge, but his arms just waved through the liquid without propelling him in any direction at all.

Ok, so that's out. I'll just have to wait until my body reaches the bottom, which should be soon, and I can walk over to the edge. I hope my friends aren't freaking out too much. They should be able to handle the Spectre without me.

Reivyn crossed his arms as he simply bided his time as his body sank. Quickly, the presence of the bottom of the pit - Must be about eight feet or so - reached his perception through Spatial Awareness.

Alright, I'll just walk over and climb out, and in the future, we'll make sure there's more room between the pit and our members. This is actually just more annoying than anything else.

Reivyn's foot came into contact with the bottom of the pit, and even visible to his closed eyes, complicated lines of runes lit up as soon as his foot touched down. A red pulse originated from the center of the cauldron and shot out in a ring, and the liquid suddenly became extremely viscous. His body was immediately locked into place, and apprehension filled Reivyn.

Ok, this doesn't look good, but so far not much has happened. I'll either have to force my way through the thick substance or wait for it to return to its original state. Due to my high Vitality, I can hold my breath for several minutes before I enter a dangerous situation, but there's still a time limit.

Reivyn attempted to move his body through the liquid, but the harder or faster he tried to move, the more it resisted him. If he moved at an extremely slow pace, he was able to move, but it was so slow that he wasn't sure he would be able to traverse the distance to the edge of the pit and climb out in time.

He utilized his mana to try and force it away from him with a Mana Shield.

That was a mistake.

Reivyn could sense through his control of the mana that the liquid had formed countless, extremely tiny spikes, and it had latched on to his mana. In his panic, he tried to retract the mana, and while he didn't have any problems in doing so, the liquid followed.

Searing pain assaulted Reivyn across his entire body, as he had foolishly tried to draw his Mana Shield into his entire body all at once. The liquid now had a bridge connecting his mana circuits to the outside, and, as if it had sensed a tasty morsel of food, it drilled into his body.

Every second was followed by an increasing level of pain. There was no end to the level of pain that was being induced, and every second the intensity increased at a steady rate. Reivyn tried to open his mouth to scream involuntarily, but the nature of the liquid had changed once more, and he couldn't control the muscles in his body at all.

The liquid seemed to come alive with glee, and he felt it lift him up to the top of the cauldron. As soon as his head broke the surface and his face was no longer in contact with the liquid, his mouth opened and let out a primal scream all on its own. The pain continued to increase.

It was almost like the liquid had a mind of its own, and it didn't want him to drown to death before it could accomplish its task, but it quickly crawled up his body and covered him once more. He was vaguely aware of his body thrashing about uncontrollably from the pain.

Reivyn's consciousness was consumed by the all-encompassing pain, and his awareness was starting to fray at the edges, but a worrisome notification finally popped up and grabbed the last vestiges of his consciousness.

Helpful Hint:
You are being invaded by a foreign System!

The Akashic Record, something that hadn't made an appearance since the time he had been knocked out by Ren, finally showed itself again. The tone of the message almost seemed like it was taking joy in Reivyn's predicament. Reivyn wasn't able to form any coherent thoughts beyond that simple idea fluttering at the edges of awareness.

He knew he was definitely in trouble, as that message hinted at a much more insidious situation.

Reivyn buckled down all of his willpower, utilizing Mental Fortitude and Iron Will in overdrive, and focused his attention on the notifications that had popped up that he wasn't previously able to perceive through the pain.

Detected Tier 1 Entity
Forcing Class Change
Class Changing to {Heretic} Abyssal Vessel
Error...
Tier 2 Class Detected
A foreign System has invaded you!
Foreign System attempting forceful Class change
Tier 2 Class is locked to your soul
Exp +1,000
Exp +1,000
Exp +1,000
Level Up! Lvl 29

Reivyn's heart sank as he caught up to the notifications at this point. They were still coming at breakneck speed. The ever-increasing intensity of pain was beginning to sap his willpower once again, and he was barely able to understand what was happening to him, but he instinctively knew it was bad.

Exp +1,000
Exp +1,000
Exp +1,000
Level Up! Lvl 30
Exp +1,000
Exp +1,000
Exp +700
Level 30(max) Achieved
Exp +300
Error. Maximum Level
Exp +1,000
Error. Maximum Level
Initiating forceful Class Change
Class changing to {Heretic} Abyssal Vessel
Warning!
Succumbing to a foreign System is PERMANENT
Aside from Divine Intervention, you will be FOREVER locked out of your original System
Helpful Hint!
Turning into a demon doesn't rob you of your free-will, and you can continue progressing using the foreign System

Who cares if I don't become mindless! I don't want to be a demon! Reivyn's consciousness was fading fast, and he desperately used the last of his will to deny the Class change.

Exp +1,000
Error. Maximum Level
Exp +1,000
Error. Maximum Level
{Heretic} Abyssal Vessel
The Abyssal Vessel is one who prepares his body for accepting the transformation into a demon. The stronger your base body, the stronger the demon you can become.
Open a connection in your soul and stare into the Abyss. Let. It. In.
Decline Accept

Reivyn mentally mashed the grayed-out Decline button over and over, but nothing was happening. His awareness was fading, and he didn't know what to do.

Exp +1,000
Error. Maximum Level
OPEN A CONNECTION IN YOUR SOUL AND STARE INTO THE ABYSS. LET. IT. IN.
Decline Accept
ACCEPT YOUR FATE

I will never accept my fate! Reivyn screamed in his mind.

You have accepted the foreign System
Once your Class change completes, you will be forever locked out of the System
You have accepted the Class change to {Heretic} Abyssal Vessel
Initiating Class Change

What?! No, I didn't! Cancel! Cancel! Nothing happened. Reivyn could feel the energy building in order to alter his meridians and flood his mana circuits with energy. Reivyn's consciousness was quickly dimming, and the notification windows appeared to get smaller and smaller in his vision until it was almost consumed by the darkness.

Is there nothing I can do? Am I destined to not achieve my goals and instead be transformed into an abomination? Wait... My goals! My Bloodline! ACTIVATE!

With the last shred of his willpower, Reivyn activated his Experience Siphon ability. He noticed a change in the notification windows that were still popping up in the distance. No longer did he see the foreign window, but his regular, blue window had returned, but the Experience gains continued to tick up.

Exp +1,000
Exp +1,000

The nature of the pain changed, and it was no longer continuing to ramp up. Instead, it lessened an equal amount with each new pulse. It would eventually go away following the new trend, but Reivyn had expended too much mental energy.

Some new windows popped up, but with the relief of surviving the calamity, Reivyn finally fell to darkness before he could see what it was.

 



Reivyn stood on an illuminated platform surrounded by infinite darkness on all sides. Reivyn looked around, but he couldn't see the source of the light. It extended about thirty feet in a perfect circle around him. Beyond that was nothing.

He didn't gradually become aware of his surroundings. He was completely devoid of any conscious thought one moment, and then the next, he was fully aware and found himself in this strange place.

Does this have something to do with the boss room? Is it some kind of gimmick where we're all separated and have to fight our own battles? Reivyn had no recollection of how he could have gotten here, and his last memory was of right before he and his Party entered the boss room on the second floor of the Dungeon.

To Reivyn's perception, he had taken a step forward through the threshold, his memory went dark for a second, and then he was in this room.

He looked around, but he couldn't see anything besides the floor. It was a white marble brick, and every rectangle was perfectly uniform and smooth with perfectly straight lines in the mortar holding it together.

Reivyn looked left and right, and, shrugging his shoulders, he began walking.

The floor and illumination never changed, and if he wasn't able to see himself take the steps forward on the ground, he would swear that he wasn't moving at all. There was no wind, there was no sound, there was nothing but his small circle of light that followed him like the ambient lighting of the Dungeon.

Reivyn picked up the pace, and he slowly transformed from a sedate walk to a slow jog, all the way up to a full sprint. He didn't notice any loss of Stamina, but he was unable to pull up his Status page to check. There was no wind on his face despite his all-out sprint, and he still had no perception of any movement. He ran at full speed for several minutes, never growing tired until he finally came to a stop.

He didn't have to breathe heavily or anything. He was able to transition from walking to full speed to a complete stop, and he didn't feel anything.

The fact that I don't have access to my Status page is extremely worrisome. This obviously isn't some gimmick for the boss room. Where am I, and what happened to my companions?

Reivyn decided to simply wait, and so he sat down and attempted to Meditate.

Nothing happened.

Reivyn frowned as he stood back up. He attempted to activate another Skill. He tried to summon his mana.

Nothing happened.

Reivyn's concern began to turn into panic. He activated all of his Skills, but it was the same thing with all of them.

Reivyn forced himself to stop and think. He expected his heart to be pounding in his chest due to his increasing panic, but there was nothing. He reached up and placed his fingers on the pulse on his neck.

There was no pulse.

Ok, ok, ok.... Ok... Ok... Calm down... Reivyn's body was still completely normal, and he didn't show any signs of the panic his mind was experiencing. He didn't hyperventilate, he didn't sweat, and he didn't have a pounding heart or infusions of adrenaline.

Am I dead? The thought crossed his mind involuntarily. No, I don't believe it! I'm going to assume I'm not dead. So then what's happening?

Reivyn crossed his arms and tapped his foot as he tried to work out what was going on.

No access to the Status page. No access to Skills. Probably no access to the System. I'm not in my "body," so this must all be in my head. But even then, I would have access to Skills and the System. Am I in some powerful illusion?

Reivyn couldn't figure out what was going on, but absolutely nothing was happening or changing. He had no idea how long he had been here considering the break in his consciousness, and he had no idea how long he would have to wait.

If I can't activate the Skill Meditation, then I'll just have to settle for the old-fashioned version.

Reivyn sat down and crossed his legs. He didn't have any bodily functions to master to help him enter into a meditative state, so he simply closed his eyes and resigned himself to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

He had no idea how long he waited, but it felt like weeks at least.

Finally, something changed.

A breeze rustled his hair, and due to the complete lack of any external stimulation, Reivyn immediately noticed it. He opened his eyes and sprang to his feet. There was no discomfort associated with sitting in the lotus position for extended periods of time. There were no locked muscles and no tingling sensation from pinched nerves. He easily assumed a standing position.

Way off into the infinite distance, high up in the sky, Reivyn saw something new for the first time. He couldn't perceive the distance, but he instinctively knew that it was so far away that he would never be able to reach it, even with ten lifetimes.

Two short lines of color formed next to each other, spread far apart. Reivyn watched as they slowly grew thicker, as the line of color extended upward. It was a deep crimson.

The lines slowly, steadily increased in size, and Reivyn was able to notice that the shape wasn't blocky, but was instead forming an oval. Even though the appearing colors radiated intense light, it didn't reach Reivyn, and it didn't add to any illumination.

Are these red suns? What are these things?

The ovals continued to reveal themselves, and after reaching a certain point, a hollow spot appeared in the center.

Rings? What's the meaning of these red rings?

The two hollow circles finally came into complete view, and as Reivyn watched, the large black space in the center contracted instantaneously to pinpricks, and then they swiveled until the orbs were focused on Reivyn.

Those are eyes! Abject terror filled Reivyn as the impossibly large being brought its focus to bear on him. His non-body finally had a reaction, and even though he didn't have any regular bodily functions, he still felt the cold tingles down his spine as his hair stood on end.

"Hmmm, one of yours, it looks like," an impossible sound echoed out from the distance. Reivyn could clearly hear the words, but he couldn't make any sense of what they were saying, and he couldn't place any of the characteristics. It didn't sound like anything. More like it was the words were just in his head.

"Seems so," another voice startled Reivyn, and he spun around to face the opposite direction. There was another pair of impossibly large, impossibly far away eyes hovering in the sky, also focused on him. This pair of eyes was a light, sky blue, however. Reivyn didn't have any feelings of terror or apprehension from these eyes, and he felt an instinctive kinship with them.

"Let's see what dragged him here," the first voice said.

Suddenly, two figures were standing right in front of Reivyn, shoulder to shoulder. He startled backward half a step before he realized nothing else was happening, and he looked at each, in turn, to see if he could gain any clues.

The one on his right was completely shrouded in darkness, and he couldn't see anything other than red eyes and the outline of his body. The body appeared to be made of smoke, as he could somewhat see the illuminated ground behind him.

The one on his left was the exact opposite. He appeared to be made of white clouds, and his blue eyes were the only other distinguishing characteristic.

The white entity - Blue, I'll refer to him - placed its hand on Reivyn's head. There was no movement. It was standing there completely still for one moment, and then it had its hand on Reivyn's head with its eyes closed. It gained what it was searching for, and quickly resumed its position a couple of steps away again.

The two were suddenly facing each other, and Reivyn listened in as they conversed.

"It would seem those remnants of your followers continue to try and influence my realm, all these years later," Blue said.

"Really?" The black entity with red eyes - Red, I'll call him - replied. "It's been - what? - a couple of million years since we walked that plane?"

"At least. I guess they never moved on from our old grudge, huh, old friend?" Blue smiled. Reivyn couldn't see the smile, but he could perceive that it was there.

"Guess so. We're brothers, now, but our offspring obviously don't know about our change in the relationship." Red chuckled.

"His body is falling apart from the warring energies. He has an interesting ability and a powerful connection to my Bloodline. He's siphoning all of the Experience into increasing his Bloodline, something I've never seen before. Must be System shenanigans. But all of the impurities from the energy are scarring his body. He won't be able to live much longer, and I would hate to see something happen to someone with such a strong Bloodline. Do you mind doing something for him?"

"Sure thing, Vynn," Red extended his hand much like Blue had done, but instead of simply closing his eyes and sensing something, Reivyn could feel the tainted energy that had accumulated in his body get sucked out.

It wasn't a gradual thing, either. Red instantaneously removed all of the corruption. The smoky being smiled at Reivyn, much like he had perceived from Blue, and patted his shoulder.

"I'll put a barrier up in your mana circuits. It'll automatically filter out any corruption you come into contact with in the future."

A ball of red and black energy formed in Red's hands, and it quickly shot into Reivyn's body. He was expecting excruciating pain from the sudden turn of events, but instead, he got a warm, fuzzy feeling. It was like a blanket covering all of his meridians.

"Thanks, old friend," Blue said. He turned his attention back to Reivyn. "Work hard, young one. Maybe we'll meet each other on the Higher Plane one day."

He touched Reivyn's head once more.

"Sleep," a word Reivyn was finally able to put meaning to came from Blue, but before he could contemplate further, darkness once more consumed him.

 



"He's dying," the Healer said. Melissa stopped her pacing and turned towards the man that had been leaning over Reivyn.

"There must be something you can do?"

"Afraid not," the man sighed. "His body is chock full of warring energies, and they're slowly corroding his internal organs and meridians. If I inject any other kind of energy, instead of doing what I want it to, it will simply join the battle and accelerate the damage." The man wiped the sweat from his brow. "It's all up to him now, but it doesn't look good. I would make your peace." The Healer moved on to attend to others needing his attention.

Melissa turned to face the rest of the group that was sitting or squatting nearby. Teilon had a dazed look on his face from the information they had just received, and Kimberly squeezed his hand to try and offer what little comfort she could.

Larissa looked back and forth between Teilon and Kimberly, Melissa, and Reivyn lying on the cot.

"He's not going to make it?" She asked with a quivering lip.

"It's Reivyn," Melissa said. "He'll make it." She didn't believe her own words.

She walked over and sat down next to her sister. Erik was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and one leg up behind him, placed on the wall, behind Larissa, and even he had a frown on his face. Melissa put her arm over her sister's shoulders and leaned her head down to place it against Larissa's.

"There's a slim chance. All we can do is wait."

He's in this predicament because of us. If we hadn't just stood there like idiots, he wouldn't have had to insert himself between us and the Spectre.

Melissa had never been in a situation where one of her friends or companions had died, much less right in front of her and due to saving her. Her feelings were extremely complicated. She felt sorrow over the ordeal that Reivyn was going through and rage at herself for being incompetent. She felt guilt that it was him and not her that had been knocked into the pit, and she felt frustrated that she had found such a powerful talent to recruit into her family, but the opportunity very likely had disappeared.

"Hack! Urk! Cough!" Reivyn's body locked up and he began to cough profusely. His head shook around, and if the muscles in his body hadn't locked up, he would have probably continued convulsing.

Suddenly, he spewed some black, sticky substance out of his mouth. His body relaxed, and he went completely still with a sigh. There was no movement.

Melissa and the others all stared wide-eyed at the sudden change. Melissa held her breath as she feared that she had just witnessed her new friend pass away.

After a short eternity, Reivyn's chest rose and Melissa let out the breath she had been holding. Relief flooded her, and tears trickled down her face. She turned to her sister, who likewise had tears, and smiled.

"See," she said through the smile, a slight hiccup interrupting her. "I told you he'd make it."

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A note from Kyfe

For those concerned I introduced a Deus Ex Machina:

Red and Blue didn't save him. There's more to their words than meets the eyes, and the Tier 2 Healer is unreliable. He was going to live regardless of what they did, and Red has his own considerations for granting a boon.

 


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Kyfe

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