The ‘this’ that left Randidly’s jaw rolling on the floor was a dense ball of Aether that appeared suddenly in his chest. It was warm and bright and familiar, filled with ash grey, emerald gold, and the pale steel of a shattered Crown turned into a spectral Reign. It hummed with potency as it hung inside of Randidly.
This… this is clearly Aether…. From the main body… Randidly, who was probably heavily based on the Grim Chimera, struggled to categorize all the implications that the sudden arrival of this dense Aether signaled. Then… it looks like the main body can still send Aether to me. So the punishment Iellaya mentioned is due to what Octavius warned us about, not us being a Heretic… Because wouldn’t they try to cut off a Heretic’s Aether to its images? Would there be meaning to cut them off only from System Aether to starve them out? Because Heretics have proven to have other methods…
But maybe that’s exactly why they are cut off from System Aether and have their images ripped out. Without the main body, they probably lose the ability to accumulate Aether on their own through various means because those methods aren’t usually a part of them like the Aether Crossroads is with me…
A certain sort of poetic justice to remove the images from the body to deprive them of their usual methods, then allow them Aether from the System no longer…
Then Randidly shook his head rapidly. But even then, that isn’t the important part. What’s important is whether it’s just a coincidence that the Aether appeared now, or whether… somehow… the main body is aware of what is going on with the images. Likely communication is blocked by those same restrictions on System Aether, but if the Aether between us can flow freely… with the main body’s Aether detection…
Right now, Randidly was facing the daunting prospect of struggling to face against two more approaching batbeasts, working together, who had the advantage of those strange azure veins to teleport freely in the surrounding area. Plus, the rage that had consumed him upon being initially wounded had meant he had exposed himself to quite a bit of unnecessary damage as he dealt with the first foe.
But with this ball of Aether-
Randidly released the ball into the air and it exploded like a glimmering nova of energy. Familiar scents spread out in a whirlwind around him. Once more, that certainty of genesis came to Randidly and he pulled the surrounding area to his will. The Great Rift shrunk back, arranged and structured into space by Randidly’s Willpower.
Randidly was initially quite disappointed to see that this space he conjured was quite a bit smaller than what he had been able to accomplish with the Aether Key; it was a little less than half the size of the area the Aether Key had been able to turn into a habitable zone. But this time, Randidly at least had a little bit of perspective to shape his choice of local.
Rather than that familiar Donnyton arena that Randidly had turned into a monstrous sinkhole, Randidly’s conjured land was the familiar scenery of his vast image zone. He stood on a dirt road. To his left was low grassland that sloped down toward the towering World Tree, and to his right was the familiar dusky landscape that surrounded the Grim Chimera.
Needless to say, the current Randidly gladly fled into the ashen filled fog of the right area. It might not be as big as an Aether Key could manage, but it feels like home. Thanks, Main Body.
Randidly didn’t have much time before the other two batbeasts arrived, but he did have enough time to hastily smooth the wounded edges of his Grim Chimera image. This time, Randidly was well aware of the fuzzy edges of his thoughts and didn’t attempt to create and detail-oriented repairs to the wounded areas of his image. Instead, all he focused on was intensity and alignment of purpose.
Anything else would turn out clumsy and malformed. This, at least, could get by just by with the intensity of feeling. Besides, these areas would likely be impacted by the fast-approaching battle anyway; no point in trying to be too fussy about the details.
After a brief meditation, Randidly’s eyes snapped open. The other two batbeasts had arrived. And as they approached, Randidly felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. One of them… compared to the other two, it’s the real deal. It’s almost as big as the other two of them combined…
Releasing a breath, Randidly’s Willpower expanded outward and began to rapidly reinforce the surrounding space he had conjured as much as he could before the antagonists arrived. Details seeped into place in the surrounding area. This time, he was very careful to emphasize the stability and strength of his place. Abruptly, Randidly dearly wished he had the main body’s understanding of Engravings to add some engineered stability to the frame of the small conjured image.
As it was, Randidly did as much as he could on short notice. Then his eyes snapped open and he smiled widely. “Not even bothering with polite greetings, eh? Well, then I won’t start with a warning shot either.”
The smaller of the two batbeasts crashed into the conjured space and caused thin cracks to run through the World Tree’s manifestation that splintered outward to touch the path that ran between the two sides of the image.
Then its larger and meaner cousin ripped through the entire left half of the space and turned it into large flakes of rapidly disintegrating space. The concussive force of its arrival was enough that ever Randidly was briefly jarred.
Randidly’s eyes flashed. Although I might not think of it that way, these physical spaces are just as obnoxious and confusing to them as the azure veins are to me. If that’s the case…
A tendril of Randidly’s will stabilized the ashen half of the image while taking the largest remaining pieces from the scattered World Tree and send them spinning lightly toward the larger batbeast. It ripped and crashed into them with a roar, but the collision slowed it down. It even was polite enough to methodically shred those larger pieces of space into oblivion rather than rushing directly toward Randidly.
Which gave Randidly time to give the smaller batbeast his entire focus.
Man is Proud, But the Chimera CRAVES.
Randidly pierced outward like a spear from his ashen halo of safety into the rapidly spreading Great Rift to strike at the weaker batbeast. At the last second, it seemed to sense its impending doom. It managed to bring its lower left claw in a vicious counter that aimed to rip through Randidly’s neck and spine.
Randidly tilted his head to the side. Chimeric Avoidance.
Congratulations! Your Skill Chimeric Avoidance has grown to Level 198.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Resistance has grown to Level 81.
The claw sliced harmlessly past Randidly’s neck. A thin sizzling strip of flesh hissed as Aether and Nether brushed against one another, however slightly. Then Randidly’s bone spear, covered in dried blood, ripped into the Nether beast’s chest. It screamed at it trembled and shattered into a spray of ichor.
Randidly frowned at the burst body. Rather than my image, which is damaged when its physical form is altered, these being of Nether are made on the same principle as the stars the grand formation condenses on the front lines… there is a light outward bubble and a dense inner core. But if you can manage to have your attack reach that inner core-
Monstrosity’s Appalling Physicality.
Just as the mean batbeast finished its work on the manifestation of the grasslands and the World Tree, Randidly’s claw pierced forward and smashed against the tight center of the smaller Nether being that was hiding amongst the oozing piles of ichor. It trembled the gurgled into oblivion.
The Nether of its body continued to burn painfully at Randidly’s senses, but without that core of meaning, the constant burn was mostly just superficial pain. Randidly had managed to finish off one of the foes without taking any more significant damage. Which was definitely necessary for his survival. But on the other hand…
The remaining batbeast’s chest heaved in fury. It beat its chest and azure veins began to spiral down out of the vast darkness to surround it.
Not so fast.
The effort left Randidly slightly dizzy, but he reached out and used his Willpower to shift the imagined area that the Grim Chimera always existed a few meters to the left so that Randidly and the batbeast were once more surrounded by the familiar press of Aether. Once more, the chill of Nether began to ebb.
Of course, the batbeast’s eyes widened in fury and it began to swing its arms and rip out large chunks of the surrounding space. But that also gave Randidly a moment he needed to breathe sharply in and activate Eternal Cravings of the Wraith. It wasn’t much, and the energy that Randidly could gather was only the Aether that the main body had donated to him, but it was enough to refocus him and give him a lethal edge.
The swirling weight of images that Randidly had gained from the Eidolon Crucible flowed easily into his limbs. With a single step, Randidly arrived before the batbeast. To its credit, it reacted quickly and slashed at his head with one of his arms. But Randidly easily ducked under the attack and speared it with Molten Fang of the Pariah.
Instantly, Randidly gritted his teeth. Like I thought, this one is on another tier of strength. I can’t just pop it like I could the others…
Flexing its wings, the batbeast brought two lightning-fast slashes around to cut at Randidly’s sides. Randidly stepped backward, then used The Chimera Weeps, But Man Mourns to pepper it with sharp attacks, searching for a weakness. Unfortunately, Randidly received a vicious ripping blow to his left shoulder for his troubles.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Resistance has grown to Level 82.
Of all the fucking times to no longer have a metallic shoulder…
Randidly tried to control it, but that same wild madness that had seized him earlier was rising in his chest. That raw, heaving rage of the Grim Chimera began to cause the surrounding area to fill with swirling bits of ash. Which at least was proof that the potency of his image was intensifying. But it felt beyond his control at the moment.
Randidly’s claw reached out and seized one of the batbeast’s arms and then Randidly yanked the fucker sharply toward him so he could smash his forehead against its inky-black face.
The batbeast flailed its arms, leaving several agonizing scratches that sizzled unpleasantly with a gurgling, chemical noise. Fortunately for Randidly, it didn’t appear very well equipped to defend against Randidly’s close combat onslaught.
With grim cruelty, Randidly began utilizing his powerful left claw to rip off large chunks of the batbeast. Every shiver of pain and increase in the violence of the batbeast’s struggles made Randidly’s smile go wider.
However, it didn’t take long for the batbeast to surge and scream with enough force to crack the surrounding space even with the full weight of Randidly’s Willpower behind it. It wriggled out of Randidly’s grasp and began to throw wide, sweeping slashes with its claws. But for every cut Randidly received, he inflicted back the same with interest.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Resistance has grown to Level 83!
Randidly’s focus began to narrow. Growling, he pounced forward and smashed the batbeast back into the Aether image to restrict it. And when it pulled away as Randidly had expected, he unleashed a flurry of strikes with his bone spear to make it pay for its predictable decision.
With remarkable quickness, one of the batbeast’s claws reached out and seized Randidly’s bone spear. It then rushed toward Randidly with claws swinging with deadly intent. Randidly met it with his own claw.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Resistance has grown to Level 84!
Randidly was cut and he cut back harder. The reality of the situation became fuzzy. Randidly cut and cut and cut.
Don’t lose yourself.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Resistance has grown to Level 85!