“It… actually makes a lot of sense.” Simon said, raising his head. Thea looked around as he spoke, and their eyes met, an understanding passing between them. Simon felt his heart pounding slightly, and then he realized that he had been staring at Thea and smiling for several seconds.
He looked away, embarrassed, and said. “But… I want to go see him. To understand.”
Once again, Simon and Thea shared that strange agreement, nodding together. Jemma just seemed nervous.
“Maybe… wait a bit? Rhaidon says that until the bone wurm can control her new body, its a bit dangerous, so…” After seeing they both assented to this, Jemma continued. “Uh, the other pledgees… well everyone, the old riders too… there’s a big party thing, to celebrate the Rider, and freedom and stuff…”
Again, she trailed off. Simon felt his stomach do a weird flip flop. “Are you… inviting us to a party?”
Unsaid was the fact that the girl in front of him couldn’t be older than 11 or 12. But she nodded. Simon immediately turned to Thea, who was thoughtfully looking at the ground. She seemed to sense his gaze, however, and looked up, nodding.
“Yea, it happens every time. A way to relax and mingle a bit.” Thea confirmed. “If we aren’t going to see Dav- the Ghosthound, we might as well. After all, you can’t work all the time; humans just aren’t built that way.”
At dawn, Randidly breathed in through his nose, and out through his mouth, his eyes glittering, as he examined the greaves in front of him.
Basic Iron Greaves Lvl 14: A rather simple design that was done by a hardworking man. Health +10, End +2. Wrought in Shadow I.
Engraving of Shadow IV 39% ©: The air you walk is thick with shadow. Due to the shadows, you are slightly less easy to predict, and you take slightly less damage from physical attacks. Stealth abilities are 50% more effective. May activate and consume the Engraving to double the previous effects for 30 minutes, as well as a slight amount of darkness damage to all physical attacks.
Wrought in Shadow I: This piece of armor was engraved completely in darkness. Agi +2, Focus +2, Wis +1.
It was really… that simple…? Randidly thought gazing at the Engraved greaves with wonder. There were, of course, several problems with the method but…
The difficulty in Engraving, Randidly speculated, is that Engraving was an incomplete art because it was based on Aether manipulation by people who actually couldn’t manipulate Aether. So although they could find some way to peer into the mysteries of what Aether could accomplish, they weren’t able to do it directly, as they didn’t have access to it.
So they were forced to use what they had access to, Mana, and tried to shape it into the rigid shapes that Aether could be formed into. Because Aether was a strange, mystical form of… something that was alternatively an energy source, and then some sort of building block for meaning. Additionally, some parts of Aether could be infused with meaning, causing the symbols to be rigid.
While some portions were rigid, and others could still be flowing and fluid. Meanwhile, mana was a pure liquid energy source. So the trick was to mimic how Aether behaved by carving shapes into the armor with mana.
Although the previous Engravers likely had to spend a long time experimenting and testing different theories in order to achieve the results they wanted, Randidly didn’t really have that difficulty; he already had access to an ability to sense and manipulate Aether. Of course, the Engraving Pen he possessed couldn’t channel Aether, and all of his attempts to shape it thus far made strange twisted constructs that ticked in a way intimidatingly similar to a bomb, but that didn’t mean he had any less of an advantage.
After all, he knew what it SHOULD look like. He just needed to use Mana to do it.
Randidly had spent the night refining his technique, until he came upon a very cumbersome, but manageable, way to do it. The only reason he could use this method was because of his huge Mana pool, but instead of pouring Mana into the armor in a shape, Randidly used flashes of Mana to burn away huge chunks in the armor.
It was a little like setting off dynamite.
Then, when there was a general shape clear, he poured a little Mana into the hole he had made and used his amazingly high Control to use that Mana and even out the spaces, creating the specific shape.
Then he added more Mana, creating a thin film around the outside of the entirety of the shape, putting the finishing touches on the Engraving. Speck by speck, Randidly shaped everything, creating the perfect Engraving. Then, with his still quite full Mana pool, he simply flooded the empty space with Mana, once more using his Mana to create the proper flows and turns.
This method didn’t have his same control over the flows as actually Engraving did, but Randidly believed that would come with time. It also had the chance to blow up too much of the armor when he ignited the Mana, rendering the armor useless. But it gave him an unparalleled ability to control the shape, and incorporate multiple complex and overlapping constructs.
With it, he had finally created the Shadow IV Rune, which seemed to have not improved much in terms of the subterfuge, but there was now an effect of evasiveness and defense. And while combusting the rune, it would also grant increased damage, although it was hard to know how much damage it would do.
It had even earned him a few levels in Engraving, which was nice.
In the meantime… Neveah had thoroughly destroyed Randidly’s previously tidy farm. It hurt, slightly, but in the tumult of the testing yesterday, some enterprising animals had already come and picked most everything clean, desperate for his Aether infused fruits.
It was slightly sad to Randidly, but he knew that as much as he would love to spend his time experimenting further with Farming, learning to create multiple things, he really wouldn’t get the chance to do so. There were so many other things that he was uniquely equipped to do, that no one else could handle…
Randidly glanced at the greaves. Of course, the real problem with this piece of armor, was that it was altogether too much foot covering. After spending so much time with bare feet, it was hard to imagine forcing his feet back within the confines of a constricting shoe. Besides, his Golden Roots of Yggdrasil was invaluable, and he didn’t really think it would be nearly as effective as it had been as when his feet could directly touch the Earth.
Randidly left the small hut he had been studying in and out into the world, looking at the dawn. It was truly breathtaking. He wasn’t sure if it had something to do with the presence of Aether, or even if it was just the effect of his increased Perception… but there was such vivid mixing and bleeding in the shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple in the sunset than there ever had been previously, before the System.
From his memories from before, the colors had been beautiful, but it was like they had just been basic shapes in a sunset. Now there was depth and intensity, and frantic refraction of light. As he watched the sun rise, Randidly wondered idly whether staring at the sun was still dangerous to his eyesight. He would feel profoundly silly if he blinded himself, after becoming this powerful.
Sensing Randidly’s presence, Neveah flipped over and used Earth Surfing, which was really what her skill was, to move rapidly over towards him.
“I have some things I want to do… but I guess before I make our plans… I should ask, what do you…?” Randidly hesitated, not using the word ‘want’. It was hard to tell what Neveah thought. There was still some small space between them, although they were connected inwardly, and could sense each other’s thoughts.
Randidly’s epiphany due to her earlier didn’t solve all of their communication problems, it just let him know that there was a path forward. And it was one that… he was excited for.
The answer was so simple and blissful Randidly burst out laughing. Reaching over, he rubbed her spine. “Yes, we will explore. But I need a bit more time here, refining…. my Engraving.”
At first he hesitated to say the real reason, but then he just shrugged inwardly. There was no reason to hide anything from her, after all. She knew him inside and out. So he continued. “After that… I need to grow strong. There is something very dangerous at my home. When we have strength, we will return and kill it.”
Randidly shivered. Neveah’s lack of experience with existence… or rather life, with a body, made it so she seemed innocent sometimes. But Randidly forgot that she had been inside him for some of his darkest moments, dormant but cognizant. She knew well the scent of blood. They were in that boat together.
“Yes… we will kill the Creature.”