Randidly rushed forward, doing his best to accelerate even as the Nether Gatekeeper sent two more deadly looking tentacles out of the huge portal to grip the edges and leverage its body through the opening. His heartbeat began to accelerate rapidly. Its staccato drumming seemed to fill Randidly with heat. Even though it was just the physical presence of the Nether Gatekeeper, Randidly couldn’t help but tremble with anticipation.
This is the level of strength that matters. If I want to be able to change the fate of Earth… I need to get to this level. And I need to do it quickly.
Randidly thought as he looked toward the portal with luminous olive eyes. His body was far beyond its limits. He could barely manage his current task, the thought of facing this foe left him hopeless.
And yet he kept accelerating.
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Sensation (L) has grown to Level 35!
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Acclimation ® has grown to Level 136!
Randidly’s Nether Sensation kept him
informed of how stupid his current trajectory was. Directly in front of him were now five tentacles that oozed pure Nether strong enough to eat away at the flesh of his image body even as he was throwing his all into his defense. Even with the two bubbles he possessed, he was fighting a losing battle. This Nether was on another tier altogether than any he had previously encountered. Perhaps the only reason that it wasn’t quickly tumbling out of control was the small repair ability from his cores stemming the tide.
But Randidly didn’t stop pushing forward. Meters disappeared as his eyes scanned the strange working. Around those tentacles was a completely black portal of Nether. Surrounding that portal was a wreath of interlocking blue veins that pulsed more brightly and frequently than Randidly had ever seen for the veins. It seemed that the role of the Nether Gatekeeper was more than just the strongest Nether Beast in town.
was a steadily growing number of Nether Beasts. There were jellyfish, alligators, dinosaurs, eagles, raptors, badgers, bears, and eels. They screamed and roared and bared their slimy and dense bodies. Although quite a few continued to come and draw Kel’ev’s attention, most were just massing in a vast circle.
With an unconscious Vualla at their center, the squad was trapped. Randidly could feel the realization hit the surviving soldiers in their chests like a thrown dagger. Those that had been pulled into the mission by Terith’s request quickly turned immediately sluggish. It was only Kel’ev and the rather short man who was Vualla’s other subordinate that continued fighting with the same vigor.
All the while, Randidly accelerated. His mouth stretched wider. He had a very, very dangerous idea.
Kel’ev materialized next to Randidly as though he sensed the increasing aggressiveness of Randidly’s thought process. At the same time, Randidly finally had a taste of Kel’ev’s image; the strangeness of hit smashed over Randidly’s head like a splash of cold water.
It was the reflection of a moon in a pond, in the eye of the beholding woman on the mossy bank, who had come up in a story someone else remembered that an acquaintance had told to a stranger while all parties involved were drunk. It was a life of empty spaces between empty people who were endlessly copying other empty people and chasing each other in a circle while seeking empty happiness-
This time, when the main bodies furious disapproval of this strange image appeared, Randidly agreed wholeheartedly. This was a dirty and dangerous image.
But Kel’ev’s words pulled Randidly back to their situation and out of the hideously empty image that he wielded. “What are you doing? We must turn around. Even if it takes longer to reach the Aether Key-”
Randidly activated Man is Proud, But the Chimera Takes to shoot forward at an even higher speed. Like a peerless steel knife, Randidly cut forward through the thick flows of Nether and headed straight forward toward the Nether Gatekeeper that was slowly manifesting. The distance narrowed to one hundred meters. As Randidly watched its struggling figure with narrowed eyes, two more tentacles swam out and seized the edges of the portal.
With one final heave, the main body of the Nether Gatekeeper was revealed. And to Randidly’s surprise, it was very clearly a human.
It’s bald and sweaty head lolled sideways on a completely tensionless neck. The eight tentacles stretched out from the human body’s back and lifted the body to stand high above the hurtling form of Randidly. But as Randidly examined the seemingly lifeless human body at the core of the tentacles, Randidly’s blood froze as he met its eyes.
They were crimson and fixed upon him with a baleful stare. Those eyes brooked no disagreement; the Nether Gatekeeper had ordained it would kill Randidly and the woman in his arms who had destroyed the Nether Wells. With just a stare, the Nether Gatekeeper began to gather flows of Nether that twisted into a tight river and began to push against Randidly to slow him down.
To Randidly’s fury, it was working. His defenses were slowly crumbling as the Nether became even more fucking caustic, but he did not turn away from his path even as spots of darkness flashed across his vision.
As Randidly stretched his already overtaxed will to start avoiding some of the damage from the Nether, the rate of his mind unraveling slowed back down to acceptable levels. It wasn’t free, however; Randidly’s headache intensified. But at this rate, Randidly should last long enough to accomplish what he wished.
Once more, Kel’ev caught up to Randidly and began to speak. The ease with which he did so rankled quite a bit. “If you wish to give up your life in order to help us escape, there are better ways to do it! And please put Lady Vualla-”
Congratulations! Your Skill Chimeric Avoidance (L) has grown to Level 208!
I wish I could avoid this fucker’s nagging,
Randidly thought rather bitterly. This time he was careful to keep his Grim Intuition close to himself so he wasn’t forced to endure Kel’ev’s image for a second time.
But as Randidly kept his senses away from the figure next to him, suddenly remembered the strange failure of the System overlay in translating Kel’ev’s words as he referred to Vualla a few minutes prior. Combining that with the feeling of unease that both he and the main body sensed from Kel’ev’s image, Randidly no longer was willing to trust this man. Which even left out the fact that he was the reason that they were forced to come here to this death trap.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not useful.
Randidly chuckled darkly.
Plus, its pretty obvious that for all his idiocy of reporting her, Vualla has an important place in Kel’ev’s shriveled heart. And I don’t mind using that.
“Huh? Why are you laughing?” Kel’ev snapped.
Just as quickly as Randidly opened his mouth to snap back a retort, his jawed clicked painfully as he instinctually forced his mouth closed in response to a wave of furious Nether gushing toward him. Apparently, the Nether Gatekeeper was tired of them rather blatantly ignoring it as they rushed toward it.
Those crimson eyes narrowed at the two figures streaking toward it. Perhaps only fifty meters or so remained between Randidly and the Nether Gatekeeper. And considering that the tightly muscled tentacles of the Nether Gatekeeper probably could stretch out to fifty meters, they had just entered its territory.
One of the tentacles shot outward with all of the subtlety of a charging rhino to smash into Randidly’s chest. Meanwhile, Randidly’s Grim Intuition warned that the real threat was the five other tentacles that sneakily began to spread out in a net around to all the directions that he could use to escape the first strike.
“Give me- dammit you fucking image, you need to dodge!” Kel’ev bellowed.
Randidly chuckled again and activated Man is Proud, but the Chimera Takes once more. He was still under the influence of the first Skill, but his current speed wasn’t enough. So he layered the two Skills together and continued to shoot up through the flows of Nether that the Nether Gatekeeper was throwing against him. His muscles twitched and spasmed in protest, but Randidly managed it.
Congratulations! Your Skill Man is Proud, but the Chimera Takes (L) has grown to Level 178!
Congratulations! Your Skill Nether Acclimation ® has grown to Level 137!
“You fucking fool!” Kel’ev spluttered as he realized Randidly was only moving more quickly toward the certain death. However, Randidly’s attention was completely focused on another issue: a well-timed notification popped into being in front of him.
Congratulations! You have completed the Nether Adaption II Path! Truly, this Path is one rarely traveled by those who are primarily composed of Aether. The two energies of Aether and Nether are inherently opposed; even now they fight in your body. Yet through strength of Willpower and Endurance you have managed to handle the complications. It may not yet be clear where this fractured Path leads, but there can be no denying that the symmetry present can be used to construct something that will endure the ravenous passage of time…
Congratulations! Endurance +100. Skill Levels in Nether related Skills count for an extremely small amount more. You have learned the Skill Nether Rituals (A) Lvl 1!
Nether Rituals (A): Although Nether cannot be used in the same manner as Aether to Engrave, there are certain pseudo-religious offerings that can be made with Nether as the base. Depending on the desired result and the created offering, results may vary. If the desired result is vastly superior to the offering, consequences may result. Significance of result increases with Skill Level. Likelihood of correct result increases with Skill Level. Possible size of the Ritual increases with Skill Level.
Your Soulskill has passed Level 10000! You sense that you shall receive the next PP tithe from the Alpha Cosmos if your Soulskill grows to 11000!