For several embarrassing seconds. Nothing happened.
Randidly continued to drag the tip of his bone spear across the blade, but although the blade itself was long, it wasn’t infinite. Small motes of ash drifted away from his spear that was currently overflowing with the tang of the Grim Chimera but it apparently wasn’t enough. Randidly felt… something from the blade, but it was a dull and fuzzy sensation; this would not be sufficient.
It was Kailm’s chuckle that set Randidly off. He barred his teeth.
Fine then, let’s stop playing around. Cursed Appetite of a Wraith.
Normally, Cursed Appetite of the Wraith would pull some attributes from individuals surrounding him. Namely Stamina and Mana, in order to help Randidly recover more quickly than he could independently. Without a body, much of those specific benefits were lost. But, as Randidly had found fighting in the Nether with the support of Salazar, there was a very large benefit to be gathered from using Cursed Appetite of a Wraith on Aether.
His first pull didn’t bring him much; too much of the surrounding air was dominated by the image of heat coming out of the blade in his hand. But the amusement on Kailm’s face instantly disappeared as he felt Randidly’s gentle tug. So Randidly pulled again, harder, spreading his reach to outside of the alcove and tugging at the liquid Aether that was waiting there.
Congratulations! Your Skill Cursed Appetite of a Wraith (L) has grown to Level 255!
It was exceedingly difficult to pull the liquid Aether toward himself. So much so that he barely managed to grip half of a drop even when he threw every bit of attention he could spare behind the Skill.
Yet that little bit came, and instantly Randidly began to
Which was, perhaps, an unfortunate choice of word as his hand continued to be scalded by the presence of the blade. Because the Grim Chimera was not lit on fire by the energy that flooded through it. It just swelled and crackled with sudden power, quite in the same way as Randidly’s Judgement had become ridiculously potent by being fed enough Aether to drown Randidly in it.
With only a small distance left on the blade to go, Randidly shoved his bone spear against the delicate patterns covering the slate grey blade with renewed ferocity and the blade instantly flared angrily to life.
The wave of heat that followed in the wake of the Fate activating was so vicious that this time, Randidly did drop the blade. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on you looked at it, the same awakening that caused the heat to spike so sharply upward meant that the now cherry-red blade began to float up before Randidly like a furious god about to pass judgment.
Congratulations! Your Skill Fire Resistance has grown to Level 118!
Energy began to concentrate around the blade, clearly indicating that the blade wasn’t going to take this obvious attack laying down. Taking a deep breath, Randidly drew once more with Cursed Appetite of the Wraith and pulled another small drop of Aether toward himself. He shivered in pleasure as it pressed against his skin. The refreshing chill and hidden heat of it was addicting. As it filtered through his body, the slight flickering that had come upon his image with the new advent of the heat ceased.
Growling, the Grim Chimera rose, tall and regal and cloaked with ash and woe. Where it couldn’t cut through the heat it simply pressed it downward, forcing the aura of unending fire backward before the raw, Aether fueled strength it now possessed.
Of course, this was all a front; Randidly was literally burning through his Willpower much more quickly than was intelligent. But he was doing this purposefully, so what was about to happen wouldn’t seem too abrupt.
Why does it always have to be heat,
Randidly thought sourly as he regarded the spreading plumes of molten stone around him. But he supposed that eventually, these resistance bonuses would add up. It was just a quite unfortunate reminder of how much he had struggled against Aegiant.
The Grim Chimera and Randidly with it pulled for a fourth time with Cursed Appetite of a Wraith. With his vision starting to spin, Randidly stepped forward and raised his claw against the red blade. It flared even more brilliantly, trying to erode the small advantage that Randidly had seized by relying on the fuel of liquid Aether. A brilliant white light flashed outward.
Randidly’s eyes narrowed.
Randidly took another step forward and allowed his body to be baptized in the illogical level of heat. His skin dried and cracked. The pain was back, worse than ever and seemingly
Then, now targeting an object with legitimate substance and purpose, Randidly grabbed the blade and pulled it into his internal world-
-and promptly doused it with the swirling Nether that he had been furiously stockpiling ever since he had conceived of this plan. His body shook and swayed as he was buffeted internally by the violent reaction between the blade and pool of Nether it was thrust into.
Painfully, Randidly burped out a mouthful of smoke.
Seconds ticked past as Kailm carefully watched Randidly, and Randidly did his best not to simply keel over.
Congratulations! Your Skill FIre Resistance has grown to Level 119!
Kailm seemed genuinely surprised. “You… are you alright?”
“Yep,” Randidly growled, breathing out another plume of smoke with his statement.
“Hmmmm…” Kailm studied Randidly carefully. As the two figures regarded one another, the column of lava that the blade had been floating in collapsed, hardening to stone and metal. The image of heat rapidly dissipated and soon liquid Aether flowed back into the alcove, progressively immersing them.
Congratulations! Your Skill FIre Resistance has grown to Level 120!
Congratulations! Your Skill Pain Resistance has grown to Level 114!
Wincing, Randidly loosened the control he had over his Nether Wells even further. The sword in his chest seemed to have realized the dire situation it was thrust into and it began to burn even more furiously. It had lightened from red to orange and was now approaching yellow. In terms of pain, Randidly had no more useful words to describe what he was experiencing.
It just fucking hurt. His jaw was numb from clenching.
“So, I suppose you’ve swallowed our daughter’s image,” Kailm said drily as he continued to study Randidly. “Congratulations.”
“It, uh, isn’t quite complete.” Randidly snorted out a breath black smog as he modestly denied his success. Or rather, accurately depicted his current continued struggle.
“Yea, well, you haven’t died yet.” For a split second, Kailm’s face split in a smile that was warm and shining. The years seemed to fade away, and suddenly he was just another beaming father. “She takes after me, you know. No patience. If she hasn’t turned ya to kindling yet, you have a fair shot of
incorporating her into your image.”
Then the smile faded and Kailm regressed to the wrinkled old guard that had a deftness with images that Randidly dearly wanted. Yet Randidly kept his tongue still, unwilling to offend Kailm at the moment. After all, his words made it clear that Kailm was aware that Randidly didn’t necessarily manage to subdue the image from the blade by playing fair. But from the way he spoke, it was also clear that Kailm didn’t care very much.
This was sufficient to satisfy the ultimatum.
Unfortunately, that didn’t mean that Randidly’s situation was a good one. The blade in his chest brightened further to release a white light that seemed to sear Randidly’s internal image with its light. His cores were furiously working to heal the damage dealt to his image body but was only a fraction of the power of those iridescent rays.
Luckily, the flood of Nether Randidly was now pumping on top of the sword seemed to be doing the trick. Finally, the light was fading away from the blade.
Congratulations! Your Skill Fire Resistance has grown to Level 121!
Still fucking painful though.
Randidly huffed out a breath. The smoke this time was blessedly more thin and grey. With great care, he turned and began to set one foot in front of the other to cross the alcove toward the opening into the broader tunnel. Randidly kept his spine straight and moved with purpose across the room that was now thick with liquid Aether.
Learning from his prior experience, Randidly used Cursed Appetite of the Wraith every few steps to fill his body with strength once more. He was somewhat sour that it seemed that he was reliant on this method now that he had started enduring this way, but it was too late to back down. Besides, each use of the Skill made his image heavy and solid in front of Kailm’s watchful eyes.
Even if just to hide weakness, it was definitely worth it.
Unfortunately, Randidly still moved at a snail’s pace through the liquid Aether. It was simply difficult to force his image there the extremely dense Aether. Randidly’s eyes never left Kailm’s.
But I’m not fucking asking for help from this asshole.
After a full minute, Randidly had managed to cross the room and passed Kailm. But as he did so, Kailm spoke softly. “Wait.”
Randidly turned and raised an eyebrow at Kailm, but as he did so, a low rumbled was conveyed through the stone ground to him. With a vicious roar, the tunnel outside of the alcove was suddenly filled with tumbling Fates. The sound of their collisions with each other and the stone walls left Randidly wide-eyed.
After a few seconds, the current of Aether carried them all away. A few remnant Fates drifted idly past.
Kailm patted Randidly’s shoulder. “Take your time making it back to the surface. You have to pick a second Fate, right? No rush.”
Then he disappeared, leaving Randidly alone in the deep depths of the armory.