Time passed rapidly for Yggdrasil as he was now the only active image of Randidly Ghosthound remaining on the frontlines. At least on the Aether side.
During the day, he hurried back and forth across the battlelines to repair the images of individuals wounded in the constant attacks against Lady Iellaya’s camp. Then, when night finally fell and usually Lady Iellaya or Abiodun took over most of the defensive efforts for the camp, Yggdrasil returned to his tent and meditated on the Class he was making for Lady Iellaya.
Without the presence of the Grim Chimera or his subordinates, the tent was abruptly quite lonely. It had been almost three months since they had been sent on that mission by now, and the situation at the frontline was continuing to escalate toward a final confrontation. Although Yggdrasil was growing stronger, he inwardly worried that it wouldn’t be enough.
The fall of the Easternmost camp had taught Lady Iellaya a valuable lesson about showing herself and the danger of a Nether Gatekeeper ambush, but she had refused to back down. Honestly, she seemed to be baiting out Nether Gatekeeper attacks, which had resulted in several strikes against her. Luckily for her, Yggdrasil was willing to head over to Lady Iellaya’s tent several nights to nurture her image and while also continuing the work of creating a Class.
Lady Iellaya appreciated the help recovering, but her questions always pointed back to the task she had set to him; to create a scaffolding of Aether large enough to support all of the potential she had absorbed into her self.
Unfortunately, it was difficult to work on it without the main body. So what Yggdrasil had no choice but to focus on was capturing the feeling of Lady Iellaya. As long as he possessed that, the rest of the detail work would go much more quickly once they were able to recover the main body.
Lady Iellaya was currently a Level 100 Raven-Winged Vanguard, which left Yggdrasil somewhat shocked. Lady Iellaya had also given Yggdrasil the tidbit of information that Level 100 was the hard cap of Leveling in the System, but you continued to grow after that by Leveling up the Great Fate you obtained at Level 100.
Which was why upgrading her Class was such a hard ask. It would require sufficient energy not only to break apart her Class and remake it, but Lady Iellaya speculated that it would be necessary to also adjust her Great Fate as well.
Yggdrasil was the first of Randidly’s images to be born, and likely the one most closely associated with growth. But the growth that Yggdrasil possessed was a steady and natural grown. Grim Chimera governed the area of forced evolution in order to adapt. Ignition Essence was the bright flash of inspiration that could set off a chain reaction of growth. All three were heavily involved with growth and combined to create the kind of capability necessary for the creation of a Class.
On his own…
Yggrasil rustled his leaves in irritation and shook his canopy. There was no point in getting worked up over this. He knew in his heart that these Commanders were vastly underestimating the Grim Chimera’s ability to survive. It was only a matter of time before the image that bore Randidly’s personality most closely returned to assist him. In the meantime, what really worried Yggdrasil was…
He turned to look at the cracked egg in the far corner of the room. Yggdrasil avoided looking at it as much as possible because it was clear that the egg… where there was once light flickering within, there was now none.
In addition, the egg was so cracked that it appeared ready to collapse from the slightest breeze. During the worst of the Nether attacks, Yggdrasil was agonized by the possibility that the shaking of the fighting would shift something and the egg would collapse to dust and reveal the situation within.
Because, so long as he didn’t truly see that Ignition Essence was gone, Yggdrasil would not give up hope.
We’ve been apart from the main body for far too long, Yggdrasil thought tiredly. We have grown for it… but if we don’t reunite soon…
Shaking his canopy, Yggdrasil dug his Perception into the ground and began to pull energy out from the world beneath him with Golden Roots of Yggdrasil. It was only by heavily relying on this Skill that he had been able to survive to this point through all the accumulated Nether damage.
Yet even as the Skill Level rapidly increased… Yggdrasil felt tired.
Closing his eyes, Yggdrasil sighed. This is my role, however. To endure, even as the world slowly dies around me. I am the tree that holds up the sky and the roots that support the Earth. If I cannot manage to survive in these long moments… how can I expect the other images to?
I am Yggdrasil. And I shall never fall. By my hand the great saga of our existence is writ and it will be my will that this all will end.
Congratulations! Your Skill Golden Roots of Yggdrasil (L) has grown to Level 209.
Yggdrasil sat silently, allowing the vivifying strength to return to his branches.
Congratulations! Your Skill Golden Roots of Yggdrasil (L) has grown to Level 210.
Unfortunately, the night was too soon over. Even here at the edge of the world where the very fabric of the stone ground shook from the constant, grating presence of Nether, dawn always came and Yggdrasil wearily raised his body and prepared for another day of healing. But as Yggdrasil was reaching for the tent flap to return to the horrible conditions of the camp, he felt a presence on his mind.
Be prepared, The voice of the main body whispered in his ear. Then the impression was gone, fled as quickly as it had arrived.
Yet it made all the difference.
Congratulations! Your Skill Deific Mien of Yggdrasil (L) has grown to Level 249!
“Finally,” Yggdrasil whispered as the weariness of enduring alone for the past three months fell away. Although it had been nothing but a single phrase, Yggdrasil could hear the main body’s determination. And with that reassurance, he went about his tasks with renewed vigor.
Days passed ceaselessly into each other until they became weeks. Then the weeks grouped together and became months. Even as the total time that had passed since the Grim Chimera had left with the Aether Key for the Great Rift was six months, and since Yggdrasil had heard from the main body had been three months, that hope didn’t fade or ebb.
If anything, it grew surer. Yggdrasil continued to push himself, focusing more fully on Yyrwood Body and Infinite Fingers of Yggdrasil to prepare as a return gift for the main body when he finally liberated himself. These Skills were the most difficult to practice in image form, but it also gave Yggdrasil an excuse to become more involved directly in the fighting on the frontlines. Which in turn led to him becoming even closer with Lady Iellaya and Abiodun.
Perhaps, for that reason, Yggdrasil thought nothing of it when Abiodun showed up one morning at the edge of his tent.
“The Class?” Abiodun asked shortly as he faced Yggdrasil.
Yggdrasil shook his leafy canopy. “I believe I have accurately been able to capture Lady Iellaya’s spirit. However, without the Skills of my actual body-”
“There is no more time.” Abiodun rumbled. But rather than angry, the stone man seemed deeply agitated. “Lord Miln has just announced that one of the Aether Keys… was likely defective. Its energy deteriorated faster than should be possible; significantly faster, to the point that the Aether in the area was almost completely dispersed in only six months.
“Perhaps sensing this weakness, and also motivated by that bastard Terith continuing to keep the Nether Prince alive…” Abiodun’s eyes abruptly glowed together, becoming piercingly bright as he examined Yggdrasil. Then his eyes slowly faded back to a dimmer illumination. “The Nether King broke through the blockade with his army and is proceeding directly toward the front lines. Initial estimates put his total forces at one million, with at least one hundred of those possessing the power of a Nether Gatekeeper.”
A tremor went through Yggdrasil. That was… a lot of Nether Beasts, but he doubted that Abiodun would grow so agitated from that information. “So?”
“The Aether Key that was defective… it was the one assigned to your fellow image. Lord Miln made it known to Lady Iellaya that you were to be brought to the emergency council that is being called to deal with the approaching army. After the council… he will likely demand that you be handed over to him, as per our agreement.”
In a rare display of emotion, Abiodun reached up and grabbed Yggdrasil’s shoulder. “This is why I tried to warn you. If we had insisted on another deal… but we no longer have the capital to protect you. And without you, Lady Iellaya’s dream-”
“Abiodun.” Yggdrasil cut the other man off. Although Yggdrasil was aware that most of the concern was only due to the benefit that he could bring to Lady Iellaya, it was still rather touching that the stone man displayed this much emotion. “I stand by my decision… and I suspect that when we go to this council, you will be very surprised by how this turns out. We still have the array to trace the status of images, yes?”
Abiodun looked at Yggdrasil blankly.”You believe that an image is able to survive in the Great Rift? When the army of a Nether King came marching directly overtop of where he was stationed?”
The reminder about the army made Yggdrasil wince inwardly, but he didn’t let his hesitation show. As long as the Grim Chimera didn’t get it into his head to challenge the Nether King to a direct confrontation…“Yes.”
Sighing, Abiodun shook his head. “You have a lot of faith in your fellow image.”
Yggdrasil chuckled. “Maybe so. But don’t you have faith in me for the same reason? We can help you create a Class to make sure Lady Iellaya becomes truly powerful. It is a very rare ability indeed… I suspect its why our body is being coveted, even now.”
To that, Abiodun just grunted sourly. Chuckling, Yggdrasil followed after the stone man toward headquarters.