After that grudging explanation, Thea hurried away, leaving the people behind her with bemused smiles, except Randidly, who was just blinking and staring wordlessly after her.
She had based… her combat Skill… on him…?
Honestly, the fact it had only become a Rare Level Skill was the bit of information that Randidly latched onto. It had taken away his opportunity, that his anxiety stated would be very important to develop a Class, and she had upgraded a Normal Skill to the Rare grade. It felt… somewhat of a waste.
“Perhaps not,” Lucretia’s extremely timely whisper came. “You’ll notice that most Skills that have high Rarity are relatively specific, not including your consolidated Skills. Those are… a bit broken. But the more general a Skill is, the harder it is for it to be a higher Rarity. Which is why your Ashes to Ashes Skill is so impressive, because it feels like there is more to understand about it, even now. This girl achieving a Rare rated Skill on flat combat ability can be considered a great boon to her future. She likely achieved what she had set out to do.”
When Randidly remained quiet, Lucretia just laughed. “You are too used to your own performance, I suspect. Not everyone can break the mold, everytime. Most people must be content with remaining in the System.”
Trying to distract himself, Randidly turned his attention to Stan, who had been watching all of the previous goings on with a very mild, if respectful, expression. It was hard to judge from the other man’s face what he thought about the things that just occured, and it was also difficult to see any sort of stress or nervousness in the way that he was standing. If anything, Randidly had a weird sense of deja vu when he looked at Stan, because his posture seemed to be mimicking Randidly’s own.
That made Randidly wonder sardonically when he was noticing his own posture in someone else. It wasn’t like he had a monopoly on a way of standing. And also, what he saw in Stan’s posture might be what he was aiming for, rather than the spot he was currently at…
Mrs. Hamilton coughed lightly. “…I suppose my presence won’t be required for this. Good luck, gentlemen,” And then she turned and left with a smile.
Which left the room with just the four remaining men: Randidly, Donny, Stan, and Ptolemy. Of them all, Ptolemy seemed the most uncomfortable, as he scrutinized the strange depression in the middle of the Cathedral. There was a suspicion there, and it was a suspicion that did not seem to be based on any real occurrences, but… Randidly figured that Ptolemy was not a person who would make judgements without evidence.
But if Randidly could not sense this with his Aether Detection Skill… what could that be based upon…? A sense of the woman’s body after she created the Skill…? Was there perhaps a physical side effect to the Aether Apparatus…?
Finding that out at this point would be difficult, now that she had left, and some time had passed, but it was something worth paying attention to, moving forward.
Randidly’s thoughts were interrupted by a voice in the back of his head. “Neveah and I have been speaking about this actually.”
“It seems as though the Soul Space is perhaps… inaccurately named. By you. But I suppose that you couldn’t have actually known what you were doing at the time. The “soulspace” is a physical thing, rather than something relating to the soul. Its a person’s Aether based body. Therefore, we can see Classes as useful towards growth, simply because it gives shape and order to the chaotic Aether that was being slowly composed into the body.
“Thinking about the soul space in this way also gives some insight into Aether Sickness, and Aether Starvation. Aether Sickness occurs when you spend too much time in a Dungeon. Physically, this is analogous from moving to a low to high pressure environment and the physical distress that can result from the change. Meanwhile, Aether Starvation is what happens when your Aether body has become so large and complicated, without a central pillar of support, that it begins to sag and stretch at the edges.
“All this to say, when you are working on this man’s Soul Skill, that might actually be more closely related to the ‘Soul’.”
Randidly scratched his chin. In the real world, there was an awkward silence as each of the four men had their own thoughts. Donny just seemed bored, although he was currently studying the architecture and the Mana Engraving that made the Cathedral work. Ptolemy continued to study the area of focused Aether, while Stan mildly looked at Randidly. Annoying, but Randidly did his best to remember that the man didn’t mean to do this, he just seemed… somewhat bland. Perhaps not the best choice to change his fate, but…
Then again, Randidly had to remember that this was the man who had won the Tactics portion of the Assessment. For whatever reason, this was the most strategically minded individual in Donnyton…
Inwardly, he asked. “What do you mean?”
Soul Skill is soul. Grow. Seen. Vivid.
Neveah said, pleasure in her voice to be lecturing Randidly. He almost rolled his eyes.
Lucretia seemed similarly amused, although for perhaps different reasons. “…Well basically. The Soul Skill becomes a lense that can focus the images a person has, giving them direction. If it is some sort of complementary relationship with the Class, so much the better. But people can exercise and also research to educate themselves, without having those two areas overlap. If they do, it’s just that much better.”
Important. Class is body. Base important. Thick and heavy.
“So..” Randidly said, speaking through what he was hearing. Creating a Class also has the added benefit… of adding order to their Aether…? Then I-”
“As far as we can tell, you have been incredibly inefficient in the way you utilize your Aether,” Lucretia said. “You are currently using a huge sea to provide water for sprawling, haphazard farm. And that is even after the reward for the Adept Path cleaned up a lot of what you were. Imagine if you had a Class, that boost would have really sharpened your power, creating an entirely new, on theme brand of Skills. As it is… you can consider it lucky that the effect chained so many times, organizing your soul space. If that hadn’t happened, it would have been that much more difficult to create a Class, because the trunk of it would need to support so many different things.
“It makes me wonder about the Classes people obtain from Village Spirits,” Lucretia continued. “Because with this knowledge… the Classes that are provided must be Classes that can support the different sections of yourself that you have already created. Which means that they cannot offer a truly random Class, but they can offer a Class with a trunk that would fit with the shape, if not the theme. Which, on its own, is an incredibly suspicious option. Could there be damage? Could-”
Lucretia sighed, shaking her head sorrowfully. “You… do you truly not appreciate that we are on the cutting edge of the System and Aether? The things we have learned here-”
Not yet solved.
“Bah.” Lucretia waved a hand airly. “It’s only a matter of time! We have the base materials, we can shape them, we have the tools, we have a rudimentary plan… all that’s left is the execution.”
As the two female… entities inside of him continued to bicker, Randidly walked over to Stan, bringing all of the focus in the room to him. Donny shifted his stance, and Ptolemy came to his feet.
“Alright,” Randidly began. “I think I’ve prepared as much as I can. I intend to try to create… a Soul Skill in you. But for that, I need some guidance. The stronger and more distinctive, the better. The less this is shaped, the less benefits you will see. And once it’s created, it will grow with you, shaping you, while you shape it. What would you like? Or more rather… how would you picture your soul?”
“A mirror…” Stan muttered, his eyelids slowly descending, to shutter off his gaze. Randidly immediately perked up. This wasn’t quite enough on its own, but it was a bold start.
“More. What are you?”
For a full minute, Stan was quiet, just holding his eyes shut. Although Randidly began to grow slightly nervous, he felt that this was a man who would not waste time. And in a way, he was right; when Stan’s eyes snapped open, he spoke in a very direct, specific manner, although whether it would be useful to Randidly…
“…Just general. I’m almost non descript. But I can reflect what is around me. More than that… I can take it and broadcast it as my own… Not just vision, but also sound and taste. I can… change it, make it bigger or smaller. I’m a catalyst, almost useless when left alone…”
For a few seconds, Randidly considered whether he should say something to this man, maybe encouraging him in someway. Because some of the things he was saying… well, perhaps it wasn’t that he had low self-confidence, but….
Still, a person who was struggling inwardly didn’t have the intensity of gaze that Stan had. Or perhaps more likely, although people with this gaze might be having a harder time, it was worth it to them. This was the gaze of an individual who was willing to give up almost anything in order to accomplish their goals. But behind these eyes, and behind the rather nondescript description, what was the goal that he so desperately was aiming for…?
Randidly had an inkling that it had to do with Raina, based on the man’s puppy-dog like eyes when she was around, but he didn’t think it was his business to dig into, if it was only at this level. Raina could take care of herself. Instead…
Nodding, Randidly closed his eyes, reaching for the Aether. Immediately, it surged around him, seemingly happy that it would be used, greedy to experience more. This was a new sensation, although it had always been willing, and Randidly wondered if it was due to the earlier large release of Aether. Either way…
Aether could not create substance, not really. Well, perhaps that’s not true, but Randidly wasn’t at that level. But what it could do is contain a powerful flavor of something. So all that remained was to create that flavorful vision or object and then… insert it into Stan’s soul space. Which was perhaps the most dangerous of the steps, but seemed the easiest.
Better just to start then. Randidly closed his eyes and began to picture.