While Randidly narrowed his focus and immerse himself in the sensation, the sense of fulfillment from the expulsion of Nether once more threatened to engulf him. As much as he had been reinforced from his repeated successes over the Eidolon Crucible, it was still dangerous to expose himself to too much to its influence.
Which was exactly the opinion of the main body that Randidly could feel through the anger, helplessness, and fear that was radiating palpably through their connection. Randidly wasting his time testing the sensation was not bringing the main body any sense of security.
Randidly pressed his lips into a line.
And suddenly you are completely capable of understanding what is going on with me huh? How convenient.
Then again, the arrival of the Nether Well in his chest was probably an extremely noticeable event for the main body. Suddenly one of the images was being isolated from outside influences, and also became a font of Nether, which had thus far proven to be an extremely destabilizing influence on all of Randidly.
No, not yet.
Randidly ignored the increasingly desperate flow of Aether from the main body and immersed himself in the Nether Well that was quickly ingratiating itself into his existence. The sensation of wholeness from release grew and grew until it became all Randidly could sense. The sensation of his image body faded away to nothing. The feeling was so consuming that even his sharpened will wavered. But suddenly, Randidly sensed that the Nether Well had completely finished connecting to him.
At this point, they had become one.
The natural thrill in that knowledge was primal. Just like with an Aether Crossroads, it was profoundly instinctually rewarding to be part of this eternal cycle of energy. So much so that the first time one experienced the sensation it was too overwhelming to parse apart. You could only allow yourself to be swept away by it.
Of course, Randidly realized he had been correct before; this was not his first time experiencing this sensation. It was exactly the same as releasing Aether.
This is what happens with Nether Wells,
Randidly abruptly realized.
They latch onto images and become one with them. But the image is surprised b the feeling of release and completely lets their sense of self be washed away. They become suicide bombers eventually.
Yet I wonder if the Nether Well does this purposefully… there isn’t any malice that I can feel from the Nether Well itself, it is simply a facet of the natural world. It fulfills its purpose. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t entities that release Nether Wells toward the Aether Zone purposefully…
Yet all those thoughts were too light to exist anymore and were born away in the flood of Nether emerging now from Randidly’s core. Everything without weight was dragged away. Randidly didn’t attempt to hold onto those minor thoughts at all; instead, he allowed them to be dragged inexorably away in the swirl of Nether. What remained was purpose, and Randidly honed and hammered that until it was hard as a diamond and as cutting as a butcher knife. Then he began to follow the flow of Nether.
It was not an easy journey. His mind shook and ebbed. His awareness was becoming fuzzy from the accumulated wounds his image body had suffered in the initial surge of Nether. Without repairs, he was slowly degrading. Still, Randidly persevered, allowing his perception to swim outward in that wide sea.
Because to pull back the exploding flood of Nether, Randidly would need to allow himself to go to the very edge of this expulsion. He would need to be completely lost in it.
Because then he would find the core. So Randidly swam, ripping through the tangled lines of gleaming moonlight around him.
Although Randidly tried his best to trim unnecessary thoughts, the escalating emotions from the main body were a constant source of instability. And every wavering moment of hesitation would cost him, so Randidly was forced to stop in his pursuit and pivot to address the main body’s demands.
With brutal intensity, the main body pressed with his Willpower, thrusting Aether out toward Randidly and demanding that he use it to reverse whatever was happening. And the main body really leaned on him, demanding that something be done.
Do you trust me?
Randidly asked solemnly.
This is not what we need to fear.
The main body hesitated. Some of the weight was removed. The Aether coiled ineffectually inside Randidly’s chest, waiting for an outlet.
I want to try,
Randidly said again. He hated how soft the words sounded, even to him. But he couldn’t deny that the main body was the source of everything. He felt an almost instinctual subserviency to it. Which was infuriating.
It was also true.
This was his rebellious stand, however. He would not give in on this issue. The Nether Well shouldn’t be expelled. There was potential here. Randidly truly wanted to see the end of this.
The Nether continued to batter at Randidly’s distracted sense of purpose while the main body weighed the decision. Randidly felt the fuzziness dig inward from the edges of his mind, seeking to corrupt his core.
There was a pause, and then a sigh that reverberated through Randidly’s entire existence.
Such a choice is dangerous. You will become a monster. Not literally, but something that the System hates to his core. Something even more reviled than a Heretic. In its mind, Aether and Nether cannot coexist. We have already attracted so much attention… it is dangerous to take on another aspect of the unusual.
…Monsters have long claws.
So they do. And it’s not like the System has ever been our ally.
For a split second, a vicious smile reverberated through their connection. One that was immediately mirrored on Randidly’s own face. And then the main body withdrew his focus, taking his Aether with it.
Just as quickly, Randidly twisted himself back into the tempered knife of purpose and allowed himself to be born outward by the wave of instinctual release. It was difficult to get a sense of time, but everything seemed too fast to handle and too slow to escape.
Randidly was growing drowsy. The darkness and liquid moonlight lapped around him, urging him to let go of his tight-fisted purpose and stay here in the dappled light. Disperse his tight will, become a part of the vast flood. Oneness beckoned him.
It would be so easy to release all of the tight tension in Randidly’s body. Immediately, all the hatred and secret fear that lined the Grim Chimera’s core would disperse. When he became a part of the flood of light, nothing would need to bother him anymore. He would have an infinite number of others just like him that had become a part of the Oneness. Accepting that Oneness would mean transcending his individual emotions.
He would be free, the moonlight Nether whispered.
The small kernel of Randidly’s will bobbed up and down as it was born outward in the deep waves of gleaming Nether. Farther and farther, deeper and deeper. The sea seemed to have no end, and Randidly was comparatively so small.
So far and so long Randidly traveled, without reaching the edge of this vast flood. Without being able to touch the core of the Nether Well and attempt to taper off its flow. And he began to wonder whether it was worth it to continue this struggle. It was a thought that he struggled against, but it kept re-emerging to distract him.
As long as he refused to accept the Nether, it burned and devoured him. It was a hungry thing. And out here, completely submerged in the Nether, Randidly was entirely alone.
The Grim Chimera shivered. And that small spike of fear brought with it a burning clarity to Randidly’s mind. The fire in his core exploded outward in emerald brilliance.
This is exactly what I’m afraid of. I’m so terribly afraid of being alone forever.
‘Then join us,’ the Oneness of the Nether around Randidly whispered. ‘We are never alone. We are One. If you become One, your fear will disappear.’
As he was pulled even farther outward, Randidly considered that. It was difficult to think, but somehow he knew that he could not take the decision lightly. The small motes of uncompromised consciousness scoured the problem. Clockwork gears whirred, the most exterior and superfluous slowing down and stopping.
Randidly was drifting while thinking.
‘The Oneness is perfect. The Oneness is complete. The Oneness-’
Is alone, isn’t it?
The fire of consciousness flared brighter in Randidly’s chest. The gears of Randidly’s mind began to tick rhythmically. The Grim Chimera clicked its sharp teeth in time with the thoughts to maintain its clarity.
You spread and destroy everything you touch. You annihilate all others or absorb them into the Oneness. You… are just as afraid as I am, aren’t you? If you are One… you are alone.
‘We are not afraid!’ The Oneness roared. The quicksilver moonlight stretched and arched into violent blades of light that spiraled dangerously around the kernel of Randidly’s will.
But the Grim Chimera just smiled.
If you claim to be alive, you cannot be afraid all the time
Don’t let the fear control you.
‘WE ARE NOT AFRAID!’ The surrounding Nether began to rumble. Like the floodgates opening, Nether at a volume hitherto unheard of smashed into Randidly. It ate and ate, a jealous, spiteful thing filled with fear.
Shaking his head, Randidly reached out and grasped the core of the Nether Well. It was so close that Randidly couldn’t believe he had missed it before. That terrible loneliness felt like home to him. It urged him to join the unending flood of negative emotion into the world, flooding away all the rest of existence in a futile attempt to prove that he was also not afraid of loneliness.
Well, I am afraid.
Randidly said quietly. And he pictured Vualla, her face streaked with tears.
Randidly reached out to the edge of the Nether Well and began to pull. It was like a spigot that had gone out of control, and Randidly had the tiresome task of slowly tightening the bolts to reduce the flood of Nether from it. All the while, the sense of Oneness continued to try and tempt him into joining it.
Randidly was alone, true, and lonely for it. But that was okay. He saw again Vualla’s tears.
We aren’t the only lonely ones in the world, you know.
If the time to reach the edge seemed confusing, time slowly and gradually controlling the flood of Nether was even more difficult. Because the expulsion of energy was an escalating thing, it should have gotten easier the longer he worked at it. Yet the effort weighed on him like a mountain every short step of the way. It was a wall of Nether constantly wailing for release.
Randidly tightened the spigot.
Randidly didn’t dare stop, lest he never start again.