Despite the strange status, Sofia was cautiously optimistic about the result of her madman act. As far as she could tell, she was already not dead, now the question was, what exactly was a Daughter of Sorrow?
The first thing that came to mind was the long-limbed atrocity she had blasted back in Skyreach kingdom’s lost mage tower. The things had also had a long convoluted name, another link with her new self. All things considered… if I become a long limb abomination… I probably deserve to die too.
I don’t feel like dying a third time today though. I’m not even done with the second time yet. But the health is no longer zero, it’s going up. Maybe when it’s full I’ll get back some senses. I can only wait.
Even if I somehow find another cheat death item in the real world, I’m never doing this shit again.
If I could tell myself from back at the orphanage what I had to do today… The me from back then would burn the book and never try to become a necromancer. It’s been what? Two or three months?
I’m already addicted to getting stronger.
I have so many questions about so many things now. I can never go back…
This trial is too hard.
It better be worth it.
Watching the status number representing her health steadily but slowly going up, she got lost in her thoughts for what felt like forever.
It was the dings of system messages that tore her from her musings.
[Congratulations, you have overcome the first filter!]
[Initializing personal program, please wait]
[Conflicting Scribe assignation]
With the fading of the last message, she could finally feel! Sofia opened her eyes. Somehow she could see even in the deep darkness of the bottom of the abyss. But what she saw threw her in for a loop. Or rather, how she saw. She could see everything around and above her all at once. This would take some time to get used to.
Her body thankfully wasn’t made of twisted lanky limbs, but it was far from human too. Humanoid for sure, up to a certain degree, but no one would mistake her for a regular person. She didn’t mind the dark gray skin, her claw-like nails looked very sharp, and the scales conveniently covering some very adult looking parts of her body were greatly appreciated. She had questions about a lot of details. One of them being why would this new form resemble her original body rather than Aurelia’s and another being whether the literal gaping hole sitting in place of her heart was really necessary. It was a round hole going straight through her torso. Was she a sheet of dough from which someone had cut out a flesh cookie?
Other inhuman features included flaps of wavy skin that ended up looking like frills, as well as a three meters long fleshy tail with two opposing bone spikes around the tip, and even some horn looking bone protrusions coming from some places.
I’m curious about my face. But maybe it’s better that I don’t see it.
The health was topped up by now, standing at a comfortable eighty-nine thousand and then some, the stamina had quickly followed suit, only mana was stuck at zero.
Sofia took her first breath as her new form. This was how to get her mana, she could tell by instinct. Her mana shot up by several thousand points in a single breath. The feeling of mana rushing through her veins was intoxicating.
The ritual’s description in the grimoire had given her a glimpse at what she would be able to do now, but now that she was in the situation, it was clear the old book had left out many things.
This new body was a natural war machine. Its whole existence a tool of destruction.
I can clearly feel my mana… the veins! My veins are arranged in ritual circles!
Tens, hundreds of tiny magic circles drawn by her very blood, were bolstering her body from the inside. Some of them she had a feeling she could alter to use in other ways. It was her first time learning about that but even without understanding it, she was confident she could use it all. Much like a baby doesn’t need to be taught to sleep and cry, she didn’t need to be taught anything about her natural abilities.
She kept focusing on her breathing for a while until she was full, observing the lowest level of the pit around her. She was sitting on a sea of bones, some of which she had crushed when she crashed down here. Some stairs led to the level right above and the top of a large double door could be barely seen, buried in the tons of jumbled bones.
Heroes should reach the group any minute now, if they haven't already. I’ll need them to hold the other three while I deal with the stone mage. Hopefully I’m strong enough to take him out. Either way I have so much health he can’t kill me quickly, I'm sure. I’ll find a way even if my power is still lacking…
Before going up, she picked up the seal from amidst the crushed bone debris.
Then… Up we go.
Sofia was sad to realize flying wasn’t a possibility, she opted for jumping instead. Bouncing off the walls, sending herself up dozens of meters each time, she hurriedly climbed back up. The pit was deep, way deeper than she thought, she upped her speed but still couldn’t see the top. This dungeon had to be several kilometers deep, no wonder it managed to supply the million levels for the ritual. Who knew how many zombies wandered these forgotten halls, probably enough to destroy a whole country should they find their way to the surface.
Her pointed ears picked up the crackling of thunder. Already fighting? I need to hurry. Sofia’s dark form rushed up the pit like a fleeting shadow. She barely touched the walls and bridges before jumping up again at high speeds, leaving behind dust clouds and a mess of crushed debris. There was no doubt that everyone up there noticed her imminent arrival.
The glow of the duke's lightning finally reached her through the pit’s unnaturally dark atmosphere. The man was flying on wings of pure electricity, attacking a bulky and bald black man with his signature lightning sword.
The man wore nothing but a simple orange robe. Large stone shields hovered around him, protecting him from the duke’s repeated assaults. He stood on a stone platform he had summoned out of the wall somehow.
[Hero - Lv. 299]
Sofia opted against directly attacking him, he had heard her coming anyway, negating any advantage of surprise she could have had. She instead perched herself like a gargoyle on a stone protrusion in the wall, slightly above them. Maybe I won’t even have to fight, what if he sees me and gives up? Or we could negotiate.
That last thought of her didn’t last long in face of what she noticed next. She was still adapting to her wider vision and that scene higher up the pit had escaped her, the mute beastman that had rescued her a few days earlier, Fox, was dead. His bloody lower body dangled from under a massive cube of stone that had pinned and crushed him against the wall. Nyse and Jen were nowhere to be seen, she hoped they had managed to teleport away.
As if to confirm her previous thoughts, the mage spoke.
“Return to dust, demon!” he yelled at her, waving a hand in her general direction. Following his hand movement, a large cube of stone flew straight at her.
Why cubes I wonder. Would've made spears instead.
Her instincts told her… nothing. This meant it wasn’t that dangerous. She had the impulse to dodge screaming from the back of her human mind, but her body didn’t feel the urge, so she decided to trust her ridiculous health pool. As an experimentation on her durability.
The stone block slammed into her with tremendous force, but she didn’t budge. The stone crumbled, it had impacted something much sturdier. Sofia didn’t feel a thing. I don’t think pain is part of this body’s package.
Health : 83256 / 89640
Damn. Six thousand health points, gone like that. I can definitely afford to take a few more but I’m clearly not invincible… And that was a random stone cube. Level 299 is no joke.
“My turn,” she answered in kind with a hoarse but still feminine voice.
The mana in Sofia’s legs whirred. She jumped forward in a somersault, delivering a strong revolving blow with her tail. The hero’s hovering shields layered in front of him to block the attack. Two stone shields broke on impact, leaving the other two and the relaxed man standing behind with his arms crossed, unharmed.
Sofia had used the recoil of her own strike to get back to her starting point. She stared at the man and he stared at her.
The duke could have succeeded at a sneak attack, had he coordinated his strike with hers, but he was staring at her too. He had an expression of utter disbelief.