After studying Vualla’s overly bright expression for several seconds, Randidly turned around and reached for that dense plane of Nether balanced perfect in the halo of blue veins. It took a few tries to focus his Grim Intuition due to accumulated Nether, but Randidly used all of his Willpower to force his Skills to activate.
“No, if you do this now, the Nether Gatekeeper will proceed here directly.” Kel’ev’s eyes were very wide and white. “You have a role to play, Vualla. If you die here, how-”
“If you cared about my life, we wouldn’t have had to be here,” Vualla chuckled darkly.
Kel’ev balled his hands into fists. “How could I have known you wouldn’t back down? You backed down before; how could this time be any different?”
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Sensation (L) has grown to Level 29!
Randidly’s senses spread outward toward the portal in front of him. It was clear that it wasn’t possible to simply walk forward and see the Nether Wells, but with Randidly’s ability to sense Nether it shouldn’t be impossible to make his way through. His delicate touch traced the lines of the blue veins, looking for patterns and shapes.
Vualla didn’t bother to answer. She simply began to gather her power to herself. Kel’ev was twitching now, but he remained silent as Randidly continued to work. What was much more persistently distracting is the cracking reverberations of Vualla’s image that she steadily released.
Whatever she was preparing, it would be big. Very big.
Even with those distractions, after feeling out the surrounding area for a short amount of time, Randidly found the key he was looking for. The dense panes of Nether slid easily sideways, revealing the hidden realm that was positively filled with Nether Wells. In fact, they were packed in so tightly in that area of bent space that the blast of rich Nether that rolled outward knocked Randidly several steps backward.
This Nether seemed to have slowly gathered and stewed for quite some time. The potency of it was staggering. Randidly’s unprepared bubbles from his stars were overwhelmed and his image body was forced to endure much of the Nether directly. But still, Randidly struggled to gather himself and keep his gaze forward.
Randidly’s gaze was solemn as he quickly used Nether Sensation to spread out his perception. Although he couldn’t be sure due to the constant interplay between the Nether Wells, he counted at least six hundred in a quick scan. Six hundred Nether Wells roaring at full capacity in a veritable sea of Nether.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Sensation (L) has grown to Level 30!
But Vualla was there to step forward past him and face the onslaught as Randidly was forced continually backward.
“One last punch for all the marbles,” Vualla whispered quietly as she moved past Randidly. She looked at him and smiled, almost sadly. Her eyes were so blue and pure they bit into him like a clear sky on a freezing cold day. Randidly to say something in response, but he was forced another step backward as wave after wave of Nether crashed against him.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Acclimation ® has grown to Level 135!
In the next moment, Randidly was knocked even further back as the concussive force of whatever monstrous image that Vualla threw forward smashed into hundreds of Nether Wells. For several seconds, even Randidly’s Grim Intuition wasn’t able to pierce through the chaotic conflict of energies to see how the clash was proceeding. There was only a horrible grinding noise, so viciously loud and all-consuming that even a fuzzy minded Randidly had to grit his teeth in pain.
Perhaps even more embarrassing for Randidly was the fact that the fluctuations of energy were more than enough to addle his already weakened image body. If he had to do much more fighting…
Then the light winked out. Vualla crumpled from a standing posture to a heap so suddenly that Randidly didn’t even have time to respond. But just as he was about to run to her side, his eyes were pulled upward by a shifting movement in the chasm of dense Nether in front of them.
Although Vualla had decimated the Nether Wells,, she hadn’t been able to completely destroy them. Two whirling discs of light slid forward, weaving between each other as the aimed toward Vualla’s limp body.
Randidly moved without thinking toward the first Nether Well, his eyes burning. He steadying himself and tried to calculate how quickly he would need to move in order to block both of the approaching Nebula.
Luckily, Kel’ev moved with a roar toward the right one. “YOU CANNOT DIE *)*(@*##!”
The sudden string of gibberish where the System would generally translate tugged at Randidly’s attention, but he just as quickly shoved it to the side. It could wait. Instead, Randidly braced himself as this Nether Well crashed into his chest and slid just as easily past his defenses. As the other one had, it immediately nestled up against his core and began to pump out Nether into his body.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a blur of light and Kel’ev’s body twisted and grew. But then his focus shot down to the problematic Nether Well in his chest.
It burned against his will as he reached out toward it, but Randidly ignored the worst of the pain with a stoic sort of determination that he had learned from Shal’s harsh lessons. His two cores swirled down to surround the Nether Well, suppressing its Nether production by a significant amount. Then his hand alighted upon the fragile substance of that core nebula that was a portal into the negative energy.
I know, it’s hard to be alone. But you cannot just destroy.
‘We are not alone! We are one! All of us are connected!’ The Nether Well screamed ineffectually. But Randidly ignored its words and brought his will to bear against it. He tightened the seal.
This second attempt was much more straightforward than the first. Within a few seconds, he had completely closed off the gushing Nether Well. While trying to catch his breath in the aftermath, Randidly turned to look at Kel’ev.
At that exact moment, Kel’ev spun to look at him, concern evident on his face. Both blinked at the other.
“How did you…” Kel’ev began.
With raised eyebrows, Randidly interrupted, “What the hell happened to you?”
When the Nether Well had approached earlier, Randidly had seen a surge of light and motion coming from Kel’ev. But Randidly was still floored when he looked at the man now and saw that the right side of his body seemed to have swollen into a body builder’s muscular physique and grown a thick coating of bristling quills across the top of his right arm. They fluttered as Kel’ev looked at Randidly, the tips a dark orange color.
At Randidly’s question, Kel’ev grimaced. “…perhaps there are more important issues at the moment than our relative secrets.”
“…yea,” Randidly agreed slowly. Then he proceeded to pick up Vualla’s limp form. But no sooner had he touched her arm than there was a rumbling wave of Nether that crashed against the group. If not for having hold of Vualla, Randidly himself might have been blown away by the abrupt force. Even more peculiar, it was like Randidly could
someone speaking in a language he didn’t understand, with the noise hidden in the subtle reverberations of the Nether wave.
But the emotion was clear.
“The Nether Gatekeeper is coming,” Kel’ev whispered. “We have to go. Now.”
“Well, it’s not like I fucking wanted to sightsee here. Where do we need to go for the rendezvous?” Randidly spat out.
Kel’ev shot him a reassuring furious glance and then said. “The opposite side of the base from where we arrived. We were supposed to mark the location of the Nether Wells and then lead a mad chase through the remainder of the base, but now… There should be a small Aether Key floating there currently, although well hidden. So-”
Kel’ev faltered as another dense wave of Nether carrying the Nether Gatekeeper’s ire pressed against them. Randidly looked down at the unconscious form of Vualla. Without her strength, fighting against a foe like this…
Then Randidly shook his head. No, even at Vualla’s best she hadn’t been able to produce such strong emotions that would persist across such distance. If she had been able to, the Nether Gatekeeper would have been drawn over to her presence before she had the chance to destroy the Nether Wells. No, their only hope was to make it to that Aether Key.
And as usual, Kel’ev was completely worthless.
What did I even expect? Weird transformation aside, this guy is just a source of negative energy…
So Randidly closed his eyes and blasted himself outward.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Sensation (L) has grown to Level 31!
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Sensation (L) has grown to Level 32!
Another wave of anger hit Randidly’s senses, scattering them for a split second. But then they snapped back together and continued the search. After all, Randidly had been expecting just such an outcome since he had exposed himself to the sensation of Nether.
But that fucker is getting damn close…
Randidly thought worriedly as he felt a presence approaching them that moved with all of the brutal destructiveness and weight of a tornado.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Sensation (L) has grown to Level 33!
“Got it,” Randidly hissed. He pushed Vualla up onto his shoulder and looked at Kel’ev with a mocking grin. “Or do you think you know better than I do about this?”
“Try to keep up,” Kel’ev snapped. But Randidly was amused to note that he fell in easily behind Randidly as they began to rush forward toward their goal. The only problem was Randidly quickly began to sweat as they continued to steadily accelerate. Bouts of dizziness nipped at the edges of his consciousness.
It was easy for Randidly to forget about his wounds after seeing Vualla being injured. But the lingering damage from those blasts of dense Nether remained. Forcing his image body to move quickly was aggravating them.
Okay, okay, this is easy, right?
Randidly thought with a grimace.
We have the direction, so all I need to do is worry about going forward… for the rest… ah, also don’t drop Vualla…
Congratulations! Your Skill Monstrosity’s Appalling Physicality (A) has grown to Level 227.