Rainer let out a long breath as the Arcane-Water around him began to cool. Tiamat in front of him lost her fear of swimming and floated on her back, letting out strange growls and hiccups after having drunk some of the water. Jor had since returned to his shoulder.
An idle hand on his chest, Rainer reached out for the Void Will that was now alongside his Arcane-Laden Mana and his Aura. The energy felt calm as if it contained no real power at all, yet a simple application of [Void Call] could prove otherwise.
The energy filled his mind as he felt it sharpen and yet, at the same time, an edge had been removed. His resentment over the Devil who took him here was disregarded as meaningless. Those who pursued him were no more than a chance for strength and experience.
He embraced the calm against the gently moving water of the bath he created. His current situation no more than another opportunity to improve himself and his magic further.
Rainer suddenly fought against the energy before returning to normalcy. He closed his eyes shut as he realized just what the power of Void Will had done to him. It was no different than a drug that altered his mood.
And while he wouldn’t discard such a useful tool, he would keep it tucked away for times he needed to truly suppress meaningless feelings.
Rainer suddenly thought. He had never been as angry as he was in recent times. But of course, most office workers would happily punch their boss if they could get away with it, and he viewed his current outbursts as no different. He had power beyond a vast majority of man, fae, demon, elf, monster and alike, and it was going to his head. He was not afraid to wield power to his emotions. And most he faced could never compete with him. So why should he push it down or let them do as they pleased?
But now he had a way to stem it when it was truly needed. There would come a time when he wished to attack someone far above him in strength, the worlds and planes were numerous enough for that to be an all but certain event. And with an utmost conviction, he knew beyond a doubt he’d travel these worlds. How could one such as him resist the prospect for new magic, new skills, new abilities that the open universe may offer?
He would, however, be careful. Anything that brought about such a calm would be addicting; such was the very nature of the human brain. Even browsing an image site was the equivalent of dosing one’s self with dopamine with every click. Rainer had, of course with [Sleep Learning], far too much time on hand, and his interest in biology had been present long before his goal for magical greatness leading him to such information and other topics.
He suddenly frowned.
Once more he made plans on playing with things he didn’t understand. The purple light of this plane’s sun an all too familiar reminder of where recklessly playing with magic led to. There would be no using this new information on Void Will in anything but the most dangerous circumstances.
His thoughts on Void Will inevitably went toward the transformation that nearly happened to him.
He realized that he may have jumped the gun on viewing whatever that thing was doing to him as a form of mental control. For all he knew, it was implanting skills and spells native to an Abyssal Elf or a Lord of the Void.
But even then, there existed a major issue. The process of becoming said Elf reminded him far too much of a similar situation; the Great Sage’s notes of transforming into a being touched by flame. Would he have been locked out of any form of Magic, Arcane included, had he not fought the race change?
Void was certainly a strong form of Magic, but Rainer did not view it as worth trading Arcane for. Would his [Archon] class still exist for him for that matter? Could classes be removed in a comparable manner to when he lost the title [Lord of the Void]? He’d need to ask Furtak if he lost any classes that dealt with non-flame based magic. Language based classes such as the goblin’s [Druid], seemed to be exempt in any case.
In the end, too many risks for relatively too little gain.
Rainer felt he had made the right choice. And he was once more reminded of Jor’s assistance in that choice, promising to himself he’d find something that the serpent liked so that he could gift it to Jor.
Leading him to ponder on the items that he could make after completing his second Advancement Quest. An item for Kara and Luna for sure. Likely something that could speed up Kara’s transformation, or reduce the cost of rushing it, her arguably largest weakness, combined with a tether to him so he could Void-walk to her. Perhaps even an option to initiate a transformation at any level of unexpected danger.
Though, the danger may need to be specified…
The thought of Kara suddenly transforming because of a mosquito brought a smirk to his face. Though, the thought of her transforming after an innocent person ran into her took that expression away.
For Luna, he’d add that same tether, not trusting the Familiar Bond to always be available. Some sort of defensive Magic would be ideal for her, but he’d give it far more thought, and at least make a list of things to try, even if they are too expensive or impossible.
For Jor, a shield for his Soul, seemingly the serpent’s only weakness. Tiamat, he’s unsure of, and for Gunthar something that gave him resistance to necromancers; while not necessarily useful it would give the undead peace of mind after his centuries of slavery.
In the end, he wasn’t really sure how many points he’d receive though he’d knew he’d likely gain 300 or more per title that deferred experience from his [Archon] class.
But he wouldn’t limit himself to these choices. The possibilities were endless and he’s sure with more time the ideas could be improved if not changed to something better entirely.
Perhaps that was precisely the reason the Trial robbed people of their memory when it came to creating the items. The time limit was far too short for most to do anything truly revolutionary with the opportunity.
Fortunately, he was no longer most.
Leading him back to the being that tried to make him the same as any wielding powers of the Void. And whether or not he still had the skill, [Void Mastery].
A light sigh escaped him as he found he still had the skill. It was a product of [Void Call], so he believed even without that being’s help he would have gained it eventually. But, it still comforted him to see it within his skill list.
[Void Mastery: The ability to hold dominion over the powers of the Void as well as the very Void itself.]
He understood it as a way of generally improving anything Void-related. But the last part had him think it was a better version of his [Void Domain]. Though, one that cost a different and more limited resource.
He had reached level 10 with [Void Call] precisely because he used his [Void Domain] to take possession over the power of the Void before calling it forth, partially doing the same with the skill, and therefore crossing that final hurdle.
[Void Mastery] seemed to be a culmination of that idea.
He gently used the skill, making sure not to tax his mind. He at least knew enough from acquiring the skill it wouldn’t be dangerous and was just a strong version of [Void Domain].
He canceled it immediately after. The rush of sensation as the Void around him literally became like his own arm was far too much to handle without significant practice. [Void Domain] it seemed, just skirted the surface. But with [Void Mastery] consuming the same resources as [Void Call] it did not in the slightest make [Void Domain] obsolete.
Leaping out of the tub, a bubbly Tiamat in hand before he gently set her down, he looked down at his clothes. The overcoat remained in pristine condition but the shirt was torn a final time during its last removal and Rainer’s transformation.
Leaving behind those rags, he was happy the bottom half still functioned, even despite small tears. But as he put on his boots he noticed the pant legs were far shorter.
Just now he understood that he hadn’t lost a few pounds. He instead grew a few inches. Thankfully, the edge of the pants still covered the edge of his boots leaving him not looking too ridiculous. Looking ridiculous to who exactly didn’t cross his mind.
He smiled a bit. His height being short of 6 feet had always been a minor bother, even if the number was completely arbitrary. The fact that such a thing didn’t matter in the slightest anymore was carefully tucked away.
Though looking at his bare chest and abs shown by the opening in his overcoat, Rainer gained a sudden desire to copy the Fae’s magical ability to construct clothes no matter how ludicrously long, complicated, and possibly almost impossible to decipher, the Runic formula happened to be.
For a single moment, he was happy to be in the abyssal realm where no one of a normal society could see his current appearance.
He glanced back at Tiamat who was now lying on her stomach but flapping her wings as if attempting to fly. A hiccup left the dragon as she gave up this pursuit.
Rainer laughed for a moment before thinking of the Scaled Wyvern and then believing a full-sized Tiamat drinking Arcane-Water was likely a very bad idea. He picked up the inebriated dragon, watching with [Arcane Sight] as the Arcane-Water within her was absorbed and refilled the Mana she managed to use during her flight attempt and went to return her to his pocket.
She shrunk out of instinct and crawled inside, quite happy to sleep.
Reaching towards the still jumbled memories he stole from the [Mindflayer] and the information from the Devil he interrogated, Rainer slowly got a picture of what direction the Abyssal Dungeon lay in.
Yet before he could fly away, an approaching source of Mana changed his mind.
He stared at the nearing figure with hostility. At least, until that hostility found itself partially replaced with confusion.
It was a member of that group of Devil Mages. His hood was down showing gray skin, hideous features, at least from a human’s perspective, teeth that were far too sharp and long, and white-grayish hair equal parts flesh and hair. The ends of it writhed and caused Rainer to grimace a bit.
But what was most odd was the dead snake held in the teeth of the figure.
Rainer stared at him tensing his armed [Arcane Bolt]s and bringing his Void will to the surface to end this Devil in front of him at any moment. So long as he didn’t meditate on or sink himself into his Void Will, it lacked a mental effect. Preparing to use [Void Call] did not bring about any changes.
And so with [Void Call] ready, not a single word of the language of souls would reach the figure’s lips before his head would be missing.
The Devil Mage started panicking as he felt the power of the man in front of him build.
He already had a snake in his mouth. What kind of person would reject such a peace offering without even a word?
Rainer instead took whatever strange symbology this was as a threat toward Jor, wondering if somehow one of the Mages escaped to inform them of what had happened to his serpent.
Slowly, the Devil took the snake from his mouth and wrapped it around him like a scarf, continuing his display of surrender.
“My Master wishes to speak with you, great Lord of the Void,” He spoke slowly, taking care not to let a single word of his be misconstrued as containing Magic. Masters of the [Devil’s Soul Language] could make even the most common word be influenced with the power of their Soul. The Snake was a measure of peace among Devilkind, motioning that they would not bring about venom in their words.
“About?” Rainer asked, not lowering his guard in the slightest. [Arcane Sight] bored into the Devil Mage on the lookout for any fluctuations of Magic.
“My master believes you to be in possession of a piece of his Soul. He wishes to offer you both reparations for previous hostilities and a trade for the Soul in question,” The Devil responded nervously. He hadn’t expected to encounter the Void Lord so soon. Magic was prepared to track him amongst other preparations in case he rejected the offer.
Finding him exactly in the spot where his Master’s Avatar had been slain was a strange surprise, and he was spotted before he could change his mind. A surprise that made him feel quite lucky to have already prepared a proper peace offering.
Rainer stared at him for a while as he thought over the situation. He had the supposed piece of a Soul in his ring. It had been far too easy to capture, something he attributed to the Soul Magic used before the [Soul Master]’s death. But now he wondered just what this meant.
Was the possible main body stronger?
But above all else, he felt a burning desire within him. How could he not want to meet a man who created such Magic?
And acquire it by any means necessary.
“Lead the way.”
[Arcane Sight] and [Void Detection] never left Rainer’s mind as he followed the silent figure, each employing their own spells of flight.
Rainer knew he could be heading towards a trap. But better a situation he was ready for than a planned ambush when he least expected it, or even worse when he changed to another class. This was what he reasoned to himself despite his true reasons lying in his unbridled curiosity towards just how someone could be alive to want a piece of their Soul back.
The Devil leading on Rainer found sweat reaching his eyes as he wiped it away. The man following was both the easiest to deal with and the worst. A small and direct exchange of words left him to meet his master with no issue. At the same time, the Void Lord’s magic bore into him as if a great beast loomed over and viewed him as prey.
He could not wait till he could leave the rest to his master and hoped the discussion they had didn’t lead to the death of their whole Cult. It was harder to ignore the rumor rather than listen to them that this man had led to the death of seven [Devil King]s and a majority of their forces. The death of a [Devil King] was easy to learn of and spread the moment of their actual downfall. All the lesser and barely sentient Devils that followed them slowly became free of their control, long before his Master’s encounter with this Lord of the Void.
But with no one to tell him of the news, and the Devil’s around the mountain still slightly affected by residual orders, his master was left outside the know.
Perhaps it was time to take a leave of absence? A mission perhaps, to gather resources for potions far away from his Cult’s base of operations. Such thoughts filled the envoy’s mind as he led the Void Lord onwards.
Soon, the sight of a city came into view. It seemed far more a fortress, though one clearly reused given its walls that long since collapsed in several places and those who travel in and out of one of these guarded opening. The Devil he was following headed to the left, away from the city, and toward a large tower in the distance. It sat upon a small crag, with a staircase leading to various levels and smaller buildings.
It was of a simple stone construction and lacked any enchantment, beyond a general strengthening one of the tower itself as far as Rainer could tell.
He wondered just what the city contained for a single moment longer before heading towards the tower. He had plenty of time to explore when he searched for experience to hunt, and in the end, the Devil Mage led him in the same general direction that the Abyssal Dungeon was.
As he came closer, he summoned a [Void Domain] and readied to use [Void Call] at a moment’s notice. He did not discount for a moment that the main body of the Devil he slew may be far stronger.
But now, so was he.
The Leader of Black Cult stared at his Soul’s captor as he approached the tower. He nearly lost his breath as he saw the Mage’s eyes.
They glowed a piercing blue with unimaginable power. And yet it was the pupil, the pupil that he by no means should be able to see from such a distance, which disconcerted him the most. It was the same swirling darkness that Void Lords held in their eyes. The same darkness that preceded untold death. Darkness only the few who survived being in its presence could ever discern.
The Mage had changed. And Amertiyus’ previous thoughts on the Mage wielding the power of the Void but not actually being a Void Lord faltered. Were it not for him being one of the few Devils who frequently interreacted with other races he would have fully believed the man in front of him to be a full-fledged Lord of the Void.
But alas, he could tell otherwise. The pinkness of his skin, the strange roundness of his ears, the…blue… of his eyes. He was not of their kind regardless of the power he wielded. He was a race Amer had never seen in these lands, and that left him curious where Agmar had first encountered this so called Fledging Lord of the Void.
But that just made him significantly more frightening. It was as if he was not a dragon, but a man who stole the dragon’s flame and now burned with its power. Such a thing could not compare to a mere Void Lord in his mind.
How frightened he would truly be if Amer knew that his comparison to a dragon had quite a bit of truth, couldn’t be said.
Amertiyus held in his fear as best as he could. It would not do to appear too weak even if he now knew any further fights would likely no longer be a struggle. The man was different than before. His attack with a far stronger call of the Void at the end of the fight, seemed to be a permanent improvement. Amer was no stranger to revelations that came at the precipice of death.
Soon, the Mage stood in front of him waiting for words. And when several moments passed in them simply exchanging glances he took it upon himself to start.
“So? What exactly can you give me for your Soul?” Rainer asked being never one to beat around the bush.
He was not happy with the figure in front of him in the slightest. Whether it was the curse placed upon him by his likely subordinates that had inadvertently led to [Miasmic Conversion] or his part in hurting Jor, Rainer had little sympathy. But the prospect of a trade and the fact that he had not been directly involved in Rainer’s troubles swayed the [Archon] towards at least trying for peace.
That, and seeing the Devil in front of him had the exact same capacity for Mana as Aura as his other version, led him to believe his strength was no greater.
But as he thought over his words, he found himself having to push down a grin despite himself. Trading in Souls and being the one who had the leverage with a Devil brought him a decent amount of joy. Slowly, Rainer let his power slip away, no longer tensed to remove the Devil’s head at a moment’s notice. No reason to burn away Mana when the Devil didn’t even seem ready for battle. Not that Rainer truly let his guard down, watching carefully with [Arcane Sight].
Amertiyus calmed slightly as Rainer’s eyes returned to normal, only a slight film of magic causing a subdued glow.
Not that he’d forget the feel of such power anytime soon. A calm brought about completely unknown to Rainer, who was not yet aware how focusing on his Void abilities affected his appearance.
“Well, why don’t we adjourn to my tower and we can decide just what it is you want of mine?” Amertiyus said before introducing himself, both shocked at the Mage’s bluntness and pleased by it. He was far too old to find joy in small talk, “My name is Amertiyus, Leader of the Black Cult. Should you find yourself in need of Soul Mages to hire, we offer quite a reasonable price. Regardless of past transgressions that may have occurred,” He added, realizing that all the members of his cult sent into the mountain were more than likely dead by this Mage’s hand.
While he was slightly put out at losing those he trained for several decades, it wasn’t too personal for him. And it was technically in self-defense.
“Let’s get to it, Amer,” Rainer said, and then followed the Mage into his tower. “Rainer Nvos,” He simply added, as the doors shut behind him.
Entering the blank stone room, Rainer sat on a wooden chair, lacking even the slightest cushion. Curious about where the wood came from in this otherwise completely barren place, but not enough to bother asking.
While [Mana Reading] lacked Rainer’s full faith, [Arcane Sight] had yet to fail him, and he saw nothing to be worried of in here. Even the secrets of Draconic Magic and other powers before it were revealed to his sight, and in his mind, the Devil in front of him lacked such a qualification to hide from it. [Void Detection] still, however, provided an extra layer of security.
Amertiyus sat across from Rainer, his apprentice bringing poorly made stone cups and filling them with a black liquid as the two men looked at each other in silence.
“You do not seem one for needless conversation,” Amer noted, and Rainer did nothing to dissuade him, “I wish for half of my Soul returned to me and for relations between us not to be marred by past…mistakes,” Amer added at the end. In truth, he just wanted his Soul-Half back and to not meet the Mage in front of him ever again. Whatever worked towards the goal suited him.
The predatory grin on Rainer’s face as he rubbed a ring on his finger bothered Amertiyus quite a bit. But at this point, he could do little else as he hoped for a trade for the missing half of his Soul.
“I have no issue with returning what’s yours. Provided you explain how such a thing is even possible in the first place.”
Amer raised an eyebrow. He was not opposed to trading this technique. Its requirements were difficult enough that it couldn’t come back to bite him, especially as the Mage in front of him already proved far stronger. And it was worthless as a secret. He doubted more than a handful of individuals across all seven planes of the Abyss could replicate it.
He returned the grin earlier as he called for a servant to bring his research on the matter. It was an open secret among his apprentices, and none, even his most promising ones, came close to accomplishing it.
“And I wouldn’t mind a further gift. After all, you owe me for far more than a piece of a Soul for your participation in otherwise unsavory ventures…”
Amer’s grin vanished as Rainer’s power flooded the room once more. He remembered this technique from when the Mage had first exited the mountain and all but petrified the Devils around him. It seems the trading wouldn’t be as straightforward as he thought.
He recalled too how the Mage had thrown off his curse, and even now seemed to have no residual effect from it. He used his strongest one during the fight, one that would take even a powerful [Devil King] weeks to throw off completely, if not kill a lesser one.
He took a healthy swig of the alcohol in front of him and hoped he’d leave this discussion alive and whole.
The two sat in silence as they awaited the return of the servant. Rainer glanced at the black liquid in his cup but wouldn’t drink it based on the information in [Appraisal] and [Arcane Sight] alone. Poisoned alcohol did not give him fond memories. That, and this place itself was hardly a bastion of cleanliness.
Soon after, the nervous apprentice brought a plain black book, clearly of a low quality. Rainer noted the condition of the home belonging to even a supposedly high ranked Devil and wondered if this was the standard of living in this plane or if Devils were truly that far down on the food chain.
Neither were good prospects for him if even advancing to the next tier with [Voidwalker] wasn’t enough to get him home.
A thorough look with [Arcane Sight] and a use of [Magic Detection] showed the book as harmless. He opened and skimmed quickly through the pages, only pausing on important parts of the ritual or spell formula and diagrams. The rest left to [Sleep Learning]’s memorization abilities. Minutes were spent in silent before Rainer closed it shut, and deposited it in his spatial ring.
An application of Blood and Soul Magic.
Rainer grew quite excited at the prospect of Blood Magic, given his [Draconic Magus] title. Within his mind already existed plenty of rituals on Blood Magic from the hidden library of Nalmar, but they lacked a primer. It was calculus without first learning addition. Normally, it wouldn’t be an issue for Rainer; he’d simply practice, like the creators of the spells did.
Of course, when practice required virgins or torturing someone to the point of a mental breakdown to bring more power and emotion into the blood, it wasn’t an option for most.
The strongest form of blood magic may deal with self-sacrifice, but the hidden library had been free of that, focusing mostly on what makes blood magic considered a darker magic in the first place. And reworking the rituals to work otherwise and still be effective would not be a short task.
But now he had a man in front of him that could teach him from the start.
It was only a question of how to get him to do it as a friend rather than as an unwilling but cooperative enemy. Learning such a dangerous thing when your teacher is out to kill you would not be wise, [Mana Reading] or not.
Rainer held back a sigh remembering that Amer had tried to speak with him when they first met. But in the end, the only reason they could even have such a discussion was likely that Rainer proved himself too great of an enemy to have.
Now he needed to prove himself a friend one wanted to have, instead.
“Would just releasing it here be fine?”
Amertiyus nodded, finding himself a bit gladder about his decision to negotiate.
Rainer held his hands together and focused as if casting a spell, with the only purpose being to hide the existence of his ring. No reason to give Amer any chances to be greedy.
And with a flourish and expenditure of Arcane power in the form of [Arcane Invigoration], he commanded the ring to release the Soul.
Rainer watched with interest as Amer seemed to inhale the now loose Soul and sigh contentedly as it returned to its original place.
The two looked back at one another. Amer was curious as to why the Mage was still there without any further demands while Rainer wondered how to broach the topic of exchanging information and a more accurate map of where the Abyssal Dungeon existed.
Seeing the tactic work well before, Rainer decided the man in front of him reacted well enough to bluntness.
“So, what would it take for a friendly exchange of Magic?” Rainer asked, no longer an imposing giant in presence, but seemingly the ordinary 20-year-old he once was.
Amer furrowed his white brows, while a portion of his beard twitched a bit at the sudden change in mood. Before offering a genuine smile with his sharp teeth.
“What catches your interest?”
Rainer explained his interest in Blood Magic, Soul Magic, as well as the numerous amount of Tier 5 spell he had to offer in return.
“Not enough. I have little use for Elemental Magic. At most for past transgressions, I can teach you some basics or give you a few books.”
Rainer frowned, understanding that Amer assumed trying to force him to teach Blood Magic wasn’t on the table. Which was the truth, but certainly didn't help the [Archon] in any case.
“Have you planned to take a second Tier Trial anytime soon?” Rainer suddenly asked.
Amer paused, before responding positively. He had only switched back recently when assisting the [Devil King]s in hunting the man in front of him.
“A Fourth Trial,” He said.
“Then how much would information on the item you’ll receive at the end be worth?”
The Devil raised an eyebrow not having a clue at what he was getting at. Everyone knew it was just a gift for completing the Trial. Some theorized rarer classes gave better gifts but there was evidence for both ways, and Amer had nothing but evidence that it was seemingly random given how many mages he’s trained.
“If it’s worth your teaching on Magic, can I have your word you’ll teach me?” Rainer added after the silence and employed [Mana Reading] far more attentively.
And so, Rainer explained. The points that titles gave, how one had a time limit to make the item, likely to prevent any pre-planning when combined with a memory wipe.
Amerityus was an ancient Devil. He was no stranger to negotiation even if as he grew older most duties of leadership tired him. He could tell that at the very least the man in front of him believed every word he said. And a sensing of his Soul, a strange one at that, lead him to believe it was the truth as well.
“Deal. Though I assure you, my only fear of your strength is that I’d have to die to finish you off. And I have never taken being tricked lightly.”
And with the Mage not even faltering at the threat, the Devil retreating his hostility as his mind inadvertently became flooded with the things he could create and the easier titles he could pursue. Rainer’s list of Tier 5 spells suddenly became tantalizing. Such a thought of this being the goal, for him to think such a thing, entered his mind. But the Mage’s conviction and his own excitement in what he said tabled those thoughts for now.
Rainer decided to put a final nail in the coffin, wishing the man in front of him to teach with all of his ability. An ability he’d certainly take advantage with [Sleep Learning].
“I wouldn’t mind taking you with me when I leave this plane either. It’s quite the awful place.”
“To another plane of the Abyss?” Amer asked amused. It was egregiously costly to travel between the seven planes, but it was possible for him.
“To another World,” Rainer said emphasizing World, before going to an explanation of where Agmar had dragged him from.
Amer lifted up his cup, Rainer joining him in the gesture before asking a question.
“Is this drink poisoned?”
“Yes” Amer responded.
Rainer couldn’t keep the confusion off his face, even with his [Acting] skill. That was a lie. He wondered if it was a joke and with a smile drank the alcohol, having already checked for anything magical with [Arcane Sight] as well.
They talked for several minutes, seemingly about how Rainer defeated the [Devil King]s in the tunnel.
“They gathered in a single place, perhaps all fighting to devour me first?” Rainer said towards the end of the conversation. Amer kept the knowledge of his actual role in the hunting party a secret.
“And it was simply a matter of laying them to rest in a tomb of Ice.”
“They were quite weak [Devil King]s, fortunately for you.”
Rainer titled his head curiously at that random lie, thinking over the others he told during their small conversation. It was such a strange jab at him.
“So, you can spot lies as well?” The Devil Mage suddenly asked. It was not the first time he met someone with the skill, though it had been centuries since anyone else had the capability of reading his Soul for lies.
Rainer sighed, his face taking on the look of a child caught with his hand in a cookie jar.
“Then to a partnership,” Rainer said brushing it off as best he could and downing the black liquid.
It took all of Rainer’s constitution and resistances not to cough at the heat and taste of the alcohol. Though he failed at the end.
“Looks like I have more than Magic to teach ya,”
Soon after a short discussion on how much better the Alcohol of the place he was from is, Rainer asked the question both of finding hunting grounds and the place of the Abyssal Dungeon. Both things Amer agreed to.
“So, can you teleport us directly to the Abyssal Dungeon,” Rainer asked, using [Arcane Invigoration] to clear up any of the alcohol in him.
The decision coming would most likely not be one he wished to do inebriated.
“I can just direct you there,” Amer responded before suddenly becoming confused, “Can you not travel across the Void freely?”
Rainer frowned for a moment before answering. It was revealing a weakness, but it wasn’t particularly useful to the person in front of him.
“No, only within my Detection range. Alternatively, if I have a Familiar Bond to aim at, then it’s just a question of power. Distance, even between Worlds, is only a matter of power then.”
Rainer added, explaining how exactly helping him train would be in Amer’s benefit as well.
The Devil stared at him in shock. To blindly teleport without a Sight ability? Such a thing was ludicrous. He did not fully understand the abilities of Void Lords, but he at the very least knew they had a Sight ability to Void-walk.
“I will take you there. Perhaps we add my [Far Sight] spell in another trade?” He added.
Rainer had seen his answer had bothered the Devil, but without him elaborating, there was little he could do.
They stood still for close to a half a minute before Amer activated the long-range teleport, landing them both at their target. He considered for a moment it might have been a trap, but with [Void Detection] open he managed to trace along the connection of whatever Amer was doing, and see the destination ahead of time.
This was an ability he needed to trade for. Especially considering [Void Seer] seemed to only work within [Void Detection] as well, making it superfluous for [Void-walking].
Rainer stood in front of the Abyssal Dungeon. All around it were ruins of stone and metal, worn away by time, far different than the ones in the cavern. Yet in the center of it all the Dungeon entrance stood proudly. A single pillar of a metal darker than the night rose into the sky.
Placing his hand against it, Rainer began looking through his classes.
[Mage of Tongues: One who bends the power of Language to their own strength. Their words become Magic, their decrees: natural law. 100% General Improvement and growth to Magic Language related skills and spells. 25% General improvement and growth to all Magic related skills and spells. Allows the combination of two separate words of powers. +3 Intelligence, +1 Affinity per level after 1.]
Rainer suddenly recalled the spirit magic chants of Luna and other Fae that seemed like more than one voice speaking at once.
[Draconic Mage: A caster of blood who bends the very magic of dragons to their use. Their blood flows strong with power far beyond the common mage. 100% General Improvement and growth to Draconic Magic related skills and spells. 50% General Improvement and growth to Blood Magic related skills and spells. 25% Improvement to all Manipulation Skills. + 1 Intelligence + 1 Willpower, +1 Affinity per level after 1.]
[Arcane Speaker: One who uses the strength of Arcane and influences the world with their words. A wielder of Language and Arcane in concert. 100% General Improvement and growth to Magic Language related skills and spell. 50% General Improvement and growth to All Magic related skills and spells. +2 Intelligence + 2 Affinity, +1 Willpower per level after 1.]
[Summoner: A holder of the sacred bond between Mage and Familiar. One who binds creatures of Magic to themselves, willingly or not. 50% General improvement and growth to one’s Familiar’s skills and spells. 50% General Improvement in the Summoner’s spells and skills that are in contrast to the strength of one’s Familiar. +2 Affinity, +1 Willpower per level after 1]
A distinct lack of Void Mage-type classes left Rainer confused, but he paid it no mind as he continued looking for what would be first to level.
[Arcane Bladesmen: As a seeker of the Arcane, the true origin of magic, all secrets of the universe await thee. Wields his magic in his blade and lets his foes know of the Arcane’s versatile power. 60% General improvement and growth to Arcane spells and skills. 25% Improvement and growth to all skills and spells. 25% Total improvement to Aura and the [Arcane Blade] spell. Allows the initial learning of any skill far easier. +1 Intelligence, +1 Affinity, +.5 Strength, +.5 Dexterity, +.5 Aura Control, +.5 Aura Attunement, +.3 Willpower, +.5 Arcane Attunement, .05 All Attributes per Level after 1]
[Cryomancer: Wielder of the power of Ice and the spreader of Frost. Controller of Ice. 75% General Improvement to Ice skills and spells. 25% Improvement to Ice Manipulation skills. +1 to Affinity, +2 to Intelligence, +1 to Willpower per level after 1.]
So, the limit is the mancer class without a higher affinity, or perhaps even stronger title?
Rainer thought to himself seeing the [Pyromancer] class as well, alongside the previous [Chronomancer].
With Tiamat by his side, Rainer knew for sure he’d find use out of Draconic Magic, and so opted for that to be his first.
[Eldritch Draconic Mage: A caster of blood who bends the very magic of Eldritch Dragons to their use. Their blood flows strong with power far beyond the common mage, and even lesser dragons. The power of the Arcane, Aura and Miasma are available to thee. 100% General Improvement and growth to Draconic Magic related skills and spells. 50% General Improvement and growth to Blood Magic. 15% Improvement and growth to all forms of healing. Aura can infuse blood with power alongside Mana and Arcane. + 1 Intelligence + 1 Willpower, +1 Affinity per level after 1.]
So that answers the question of what Tiamat is made of…
“Are you done here?” Amer asked impatiently. What kind of person comes to an Abyssal Dungeon without already knowing the class they were switching to? The Devil was, of course, oblivious to the untold plethora of titles Rainer had.
“Yeah, all good,” Rainer responded, picking the obvious choice for what he was learning.
Rainer’s days were filled with basic blood rituals using his own blood and the occasional monster he brought back from hunting in the morning. The focus, however, was on self-sacrifice as Rainer had no intention of heading down the darker paths of blood magic, for in reality monsters were not good sacrifices at all and were instead practice for different ones.
Another surprise for Rainer truly made this decision for him.
“Don’t bother,” Amer said as he watched Rainer use Magic to heal himself, not that he could really tell what he was doing beyond feeling a surge of power and watching the cut on his palm vanish.
“What do you mean?” Rainer asked, using [Arcane Invigoration] all around his body to replenish lost blood by focusing on his bone marrow.
“Even if your healing can replenish your blood, you still need a few days for the Mana in your body to saturate it and make it magical once more. In the end, a Mage like you would slowly become wholly unmagical if you ever lost your Mana.”
Rainer stared at him confused, never once dealing with this problem when Body Enchanting. Now he understood why being able to infuse one’s blood with Aura might have advantages, not that he was willing to test in reality the effects of that on rituals.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes I’m…” Amer paused for a moment recalling all he’s learned of the Mage thus far, “No I’m not sure, let’s test it out.”
Deciding to test if he could make his blood even more powerful he flared [Arcane Invigoration] to its maximum, focusing on infusing the healing energy with his blood. He noted just a slight dip in the power of the skill before nothing else happened. He imagined if he weren't paying attention so closely the drop in strength wouldn’t have even crossed his mind.
Amer ignored Rainer for a bit as he used his healing magic once more. He looked annoyingly to his left at the little Dragon trying to fly once more. Tiamat was jumping in place as she flapped her wings and small bursts of Mana let her hover for a moment before she went back down. For the life of him, he couldn’t understand the powerful Mage’s interest in this little Dragon.
He could understand wanting to train it and end up with a powerful Familiar and Mount. But treating the monster as a baby and a precious child had bothered him.
To his horror, he even witnessed the Mage using a high-pitched voice in a whisper to denote how cute the thing was, unaware of Amer’s ability to hear him most likely.
He then watched as Rainer struggled to reopen the wound, once more making the Devil Mage remark at the toughness of this Human race that received no experience penalty even with such a feature.
A simple use of [Magic Detection] left Amer quite sure not only was there no loss in power in Rainer’s blood, but it seemed a little stronger than usual.
“Well then, looks like we’ll be cutting you up every day,” Amer transferred his shock to enjoyment while Rainer could only sigh as he continued his practice, filling in an engraved wooden board on the floor with both his blood and then activating it carefully with his Mana.
The only reason he wasn’t doing it in [Sleep Learning], yet, was Amer teaching him how to flow his Mana better.
The teaching session ended soon after, with Amer teleporting Rainer to one of his favorite hunting grounds as they both sought to level an extra class.
The days varied little from here apart from Rainer reading from his library and copying down spells Amer was interested in. Nights were filled with an alternation between seeking as many easy titles as possible, practicing his Blood Magic, and trying to figure both Amer’s [Far Sight] spell, his own [Void Seer], and finally [Void Grasp].
No matter how he did it, [Far Sight] didn’t seem to allow him to Void walk wherever he watched with the Magic. A mystery for another time, as Amer seemed tight-lipped on teleportation, and had given him a subtle version of: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
Something he later learned was that many stronger Devils knew it themselves and used it to resist various Void-related abilities. Though, their skills could only do so much against a truly powerful Void Lord.
Rainer never did get an explanation on how Agmar dragged him from supposedly so far away, for Amer did not have a clue either.
Time passed, with little change in schedule.
Rainer awoke in the middle of the night with a start. It had been over a month since he started under the tutelage of Amer and nothing of issue had yet been transmitted across the familiar bond. Until now.
He couldn’t place the emotion flowing through the familiar bond with Luna. For all he knew with the time difference, even more clear as he felt the emotion across the bond, Luna could have stepped on a nail or tripped. He sat, deciding to focus on [Void Grasp] as he waited.
An hour passed and Rainer noted the emotion only growing stronger.
He grimaced. There was no chance he could reason it away now, even if he was correct and it was nothing.
But It had been two weeks since his last class change. Meaning he had nothing holding him back from switching to [Voidwalker] and taking the Trial, beyond of course the likely obscene difficulty.
“I’ll be counting on you Jor,” Rainer said before rushing out of the room. He’d need to leave Tiamat behind for the Trial itself, no matter how little he wanted to do that. Viewing it as extra motivation to return, helped in the end.
Rainer rubbed his forehead. Just as the possibility of losing his companions could occur if he didn’t hurry to take the Trial and try to go back, the chance of him dying and leaving Kara to face the Demons after her could be a far worse fate.
Minutes passed, and the emotion across of the Familiar bond only got stronger. Concern from Gunthar as well sealed the deal that it wasn’t a minor thing.
He rushed out of the room and headed toward Amer, prepared to ask the Devil to teleport him there immediately.
Amer stared at his partial student with consternation, wondering if he should put a stop to this through force. The Mage was clearly unnerved by something and said something was pushing him to take his second Trial far earlier than even the most talented would take their first.
Amer thought recalling the utter confusion he faced when Rainer told him his age. He wondered if whatever magic the Mage used to translate had failed and misspoke, but according to him, measurements were translated perfectly thus far.
That had been a huge shock to the Devil. Also, as large as the one that such a powerful being held no racial penalties what so ever. Devils had numerous ones, especially more sentient ones like him. Even if there was a wide range of beings considered as Devils, the bonuses and penalties were not exactly the same. They only shared their ability to use Miasma.
As much as he’d like to say these were feelings of worry due to friendship, he’d rather grown quite entranced with the idea of leaving this place if even a tenth of Rainer’s stories were true. The simple concept of sleeping on something soft already intrigued him even if he would likely have to hide his race and appearance anywhere they ended up.
But alas, it was too late as he watched Rainer vanish. He could only hope the boy had another surprise in store. He was at least glad they spent a decent time figuring out what items to create, after Amer got over his annoyance at the number of points the Mage expected to have, having learned his would pale in comparison.
He glanced at the Dragon now on his shoulder. Apart from being a little distraught at the separation, she seemed fine. That, and the little creature seemed to almost huff at him when he looked her direction. As if not finding her precious and cute was a deplorable insult.
Now only to wait the few minutes that would pass outside of the Trial.
From a plane of devils to a world of water. Rainer found himself submerged the moment he accepted the Trial.
Darkness and water all around him, Rainer wasted no time Void-walking to the sky. All around him a sea raged in fury as rain poured down.
He hovered in the air, but a distinct lack of wind showed a difference to his usual flight. It was by far the most efficient form of flight he’s come across yet, one he mimicked from Tiamat even as she still couldn’t do it. At most she could hover for a few seconds before plopping down and losing control of the spell.
A flash of [Arcane Sight] revealed the likely location for the trial, a sort of undersea temple, somehow hovering far above the sea floor, but still several hundred feet below water. The same skill revealed Miasma present in the air, likely a product of taking his Trial at an Abyssal Dungeon instead of the World Tree. He now knew at least one item he’d be creating, a tether he could leave here.
Something he planned on anyways, to come back for Amer having grown slightly fond of ancient Devil.
In a few seconds, Rainer hovered above the supposed Trial location and prepared himself. Hands clasped together he sought to end the Trial before it even started. The risk involved in trying to get a second familiar from this Trial wasn’t worth it to him.
Minutes passed as the sea continued to rage on. Yet slowly the falling rain seemed to bend around Rainer. The very strength of the raw Mana and Arcane Power condensing to such a high level that it created a field around him.
He charged for far longer than he had in the past, having no immediate threat to account for.
Rainer knew why [Absolute Frost] was a tier 8 spell. It was Absolute in more than name. So long as one had the required energy, of course. No other spell in his arsenal, nor any other spells he read or heard of was like [Absolute Frost]. In that, it had no upper limit to the power that could be poured into the spell.
It was inefficient when compared to the same level, but [Frozen Sun], even in a powerful Ice Mage’s hands, couldn’t hold anywhere near this much energy.
Such was the meaning behind his choice of words in activating the spell. Ice that could freeze hell itself. So long as it’s caster was willing to pay the price.
More and more time passed and then, with his body all but numb from the influx of Miasma, Rainer spread his hands as a fluid of condensed and shining Arcane-laden Mana spread around him in a ring.
His arm pointed down as he focused his will on the temple beneath him. The rain avoiding him entirely as if a veritable god declaring war upon the element of water itself. The ring of magic shuddered and pulsed as it seemingly begged to be unleashed.
A wave of magic exploded across the small world of the Trial. The rain fell not as liquid but hail. The raging seas calmed to a frozen stillness.
And before the challenge had even begun…
[Magic Beast Killed: First Trial Complete. Teleportation to Second Trial will commence in: 02:00:00]