26 A Boundless Storm
Unique skill gained!(Defeat a monster with less than 5% health remaining) Fuses Blitz, Ferocity, Desperation, Death’s Dance, and Scorn into a single skill, Savage Berserker(lvl 1) Gives half of missing treepoints from skill fusion.
Unique skill gained!(Defeat a boss monster alone) Fuses Deflection, Calm, Patience, Countering, and Dominion of Soul into a single skill, Tranquil Duelist(lvl 1) Gives half of missing treepoints from fusion.
Mythical skill gained!(???) Fuses the three unique skills, Dreadnought Brute, Savage Berserker, and Tranquil Duelist into a single skill,
(lvl 1) Gives half of missing treepoints from skill fusion.
So many free skill points. I got so damn many. All this time I’d been developing all these skills for my fighting style, working them together. Whether by accident or not, I’d finally gotten into a fight challenging enough to put them all together. The rewards were palpable.
(lvl 1) When you battle, you are a force of nature. You are a boundless storm. Effects are powerful and dependent on skill level.
It even had a different coloring compared with normal skills. It gave me chills just thinking of using the skill. Besides for that, I gained over 400 treepoints from the fusions of skills. In fact, with all my skill points saved up over the past few weeks plus this fusion, I had 521 skillpoints. Enough for obliterator. So I put all 500 points into obliterator.
Expunge entire planets like a plague, or become a plague for monsters.
From this point onward, +3 attribute points per 5 levels. Effect is retroactive for all levels gained before 100.
You are not an elite. You are the only one of your kind. You are an obliterator. +100% experience gained from boss monsters and unknowns.
From this point onward, +4 attribute points per 5 levels. Effect is retroactive for all levels gained before 100.
Now I had 40 attribute points, enough for whatever I needed. Well, hopefully enough for charisma. I put six points into luck, reaching the level 30 I needed for the leveling perk. Due to the negative bonuses from my armor, Charisma took 28 fucking points to reach thirty. Ridiculous.
Anyway, I had six other points, so I put them into endurance. I greedily selected the perks from there.[Miraculous(Luck 25 or more) – Your luck is incredible. 1/10th of luck added to Charisma. Circumstances will more likely guide you towards your goals. Sometimes, you’ll ask just the right questions, learn just what you need to know, and do just what you need to for a crises.] [Opportunity Untold(Luck 30 or more) – Your luck is unexplainable. Gives additional money found, odds in your favor, and chance of rare event for every level gained. Every point in luck gives an additional 3 points in mana, health, and stamina. Another 1/10th of your luck is added to charisma. You gain 1 revival after death. Use it wisely.] [Well-Worded(Charisma 10 or more) – Your charisma is good. Doubles haggling ability.] [Convincing(Charisma 15 or more) – Your charisma is admirable. Doubles persuasiveness.] [Charming(Charisma 20 or more) – Your charisma is amazing. Doubles likability. Charisma let’s you open up more in conversation, making you more genuine.] [Compelling(Charisma 25 or more) – Your charisma is incredible. Your words have weight to them, making others think of what you’ve said after you’ve spoken them. Your voice and tone when speaking grows easier to listen to with additional points into constitution.] [Undeniable(Charisma 30 or more) – Your presence is a power all to itself. Doubles the growth and effects of speech related skills. Gives additional likeability, persuasion, haggling, and charm per level. Doubles mana consumption.]
I selected the perks, using all my leftover dungeon cores before I basked in the shining sun that was a power spike. I’d been sort of stagnating for a while, trying to grind out all these stats and perks. It’s not really the way I enjoyed doing things. Of course, luck and charisma didn’t have much of an affect on how I felt when compared with something like strength.
Well, besides for the fact I enjoyed hearing my thoughts more. It was a pleasant hum in my head now. That made me sound crazy, didn’t it? I think it was because the nicer sounding voice from charisma was heard by me as well. Anyways, I checked out my attributes and character screens.
Strength – Increases carrying weight, maximum speed, and physical power
Constitution – Increases hardness, density, and weight of your body
Endurance – Increases regeneration of stamina, health, and their totals
Dexterity – Increases ease of movement, flexibility, and reflexes
Willpower – Increases internal motivation, mana regen, and Mental Res
Intelligence – Increases memory, critical thinking, and total mana pool
Charisma – Increases likeability, persuasion, and decreases prices at shops
Luck – Increases money found, odds in your favor, and chance of rare events
Perception – Increases comprehension, the five senses, and awareness
Oppression Damage- 8000+25%hp/min
Elemental Res – 97%
Harbinger of Cataclysm
Plasma Res – 97%
Phys Dam Reduction – 97%
Rad Res – 97%
Phys Dam Bonus – 353%
Mental Res – 97%
All these bonuses culminated in a massive increase in effective fighting power. Finally, I got past the meh attributes and I could level again. I had only one more notification to handle, selecting a new tree.[II Vicious(Beat an enemy 40 levels higher than you in combat lasting over an hour, Death’s Dance, Scorn, and Desperation over level 25)(0/50)] [III Fighter(Kill an enemy 40 levels over you)(0/50)] [Genesis of Potential(Be the first of your species to clear a extreme priority dungeon, to clear 15 lesser dungeons, and to create a mythical skill)(0/1000)]
Time for another long haul kind of tree. The bonuses from them were ridiculous so far, so I’d just keep investing as they kept coming. Why waste time with the small trees when the large ones had given me enormous, life changing bonuses.
I had 11 points left, so I invested then into genesis of potential. Of course, I gained nothing from it yet. With that handled, I glanced back up from my status screen. It was like re-entering the world.
Torix and Kessiah already left, both of them casting different spells for remodeling the rock. All the spears and crushing the ground around us during fights had resulted in quite a few scars forming around us. Over the last few minutes of me reading over my status updates, the two of them already filled in almost every missing glyph.
The two worked together without ever running into each other, like gears in a machine. They didn’t need to talk or gesture or even glance at each other. They progressed, each one of them working on what they knew, filling the gaps for each other. It amazed me, and it reminded me how old each of them was. They must have worked together for hundreds of years for such succinct and smooth coordination. They must have avoided each other for centuries, then picked up right where they left off, like nothing ever happened.
When I stood up, Kessiah turned to me and said with a sinister smile, “You look different. What changed?”
I shrugged as I said, “I finished a tree.”
Torix turned as he said, “Is that the obliterator tree you talked about?”
“Yeah, I have maxed out leveling perks now. Now I’ve finally gotten to where you guys are at. The slow grind.”
Torix stuck out a hand, formed a dark sphere, and stepped on it as he said, “It’s more like we focus our efforts on skills rather than levels.”
Kessiah ran and leapt towards me as she said, “That’s what mister low level over there says. Levels are power, especially for people who tri-spec.” She turned to Torix, “You’d know if you had the balls for it.”
Torix floated over as he said, “Just as you’d know how to fight at full force for more than a 15 minutes. Besides, why should I fight when I can just summon armies to do it for me.”
“Really now? Hey, Daniel. You wanna know why Torix over here didn’t spec into perception?”
“I hardly think telling him that is necessary-”
“When your perception gets so high, you don’t have to read anymore. You can just look at a book and absorb the knowledge on the pages. This bag of bones here likes reading, so he didn’t spec into perception. Talk about efficiency.”
“I needed the charisma for leading armies.”
“Yeah, but these runes are well outside your grasp, aren’t they? I never understood that reluctance for investing in perception.”
I said, “No, I think I understand why he did it.”
Torix snapped, “Do you really?”
“It’s like putting cheat codes in games. They make playing the game so easy, it becomes pointless. Where’s the fun in that?”
Torix raised his hands and said, “A being under 20 years of age can understand why, but a remnant I’ve known for over a 1000 years can’t?” His hands slapped his sides as he said, “Your stupidity is something to marvel at. Truly a miracle. Have you been awarded for it yet?”
Kessiah reached beside me and brushed him off with her hand as she said, “My intelligence is at least 100 points higher than yours. Who’s stupid again? Anyways-”
She leaned onto my shoulder, crossing her arms as she said, “What impresses me is how damn well this ritual was made.”
The words came to me, from nowhere as I spoke, “It’s bizarre, but it makes sense if you look a little closer. There’s layers of talent here. A precise and delicately carved incantation, created by two prodigies, each masters of different magics. This is more than just a simple spell. This is Alfred’s legacy, the son of an archlich.”
I snapped back to normal, my jaw almost hanging at the sudden change in my voice. The fucking charisma was really coming through.
Torix replied with his chest slightly puffed and his hands on his hips, “Of course. My son was a master sorcerer trapped by a powerful eldritch. Do you see the armor that Daniel wears? Show her what it does, and tell her Alfred’s story.”
And I told the tale, embroidering Alfred’s heroic sacrifice. It wasn’t all that difficult though. I mean, the guy tore his soul apart to stop an evil hivemind. That’s the stuff that legends are made of, or in my case, started with. At least I hoped so.
Regardless, Althea listened intently while we sat in a small circle. Torix had formed several fluffy, dark energy chairs for us. It made sitting there much more comfortable. By the time I finished telling her the story about the armor and all that, Kessiah was leaning over the edge of her seat.
She said, “Goddamn, that’s impressive. Torix just sent me a PM saying that he needed help tearing through dimensions. Sounded like fun, so I came. So paper-for-skin, why didn’t you mention your son or anything?”
“You didn’t help me find him when I told you he was missing. Why would I mention his death?”
The tone got really, really awkward. Kessiah glanced over at a rock on the ground as she said, “Ahh…yeah…about that…sorry.”
Torix sighed before saying, “It wouldn’t have mattered. Finding him inside a dungeon that’s transported…it would have been impossible. Just…just help me with this ritual, and we’ll be even.”
Kessiah smiled, much more reserved than before, “Yeah…sounds good. I won’t let you down…not again at least.”
Althea chimed, “How did you let him down before?”
Torix shook his head as he said, “It was a long time ago, well before either of you were born. If I feel like speaking of it, I’ll discuss it later, when we have time. For now-”
Torix pulled out his tome from under his robe. He said, “It’s time for a tear in dimensions.”
Kessiah clapped her hands as she said, “Yes, yes, YES. Now we’re talking. Let’s get this started.”
I frowned as I said, “You know, I was never really filled in on the details of what the fuck is going on. Mind telling me now?”
Before Torix could answer, Kessiah leaned towards me and said, “You’ve seen whats over there with the eldritch, right? It’s crazy and bizarre and completely fucked. Torix and I have been trying to get the eldritch to work with us for a long, long time. The best way for that is making both sides co-exist.”
She leaned a hand towards Althea, saying, “You see her? She’s actually damn close to that ideal, but Torix and I already talked about how fucked up she is without a little help. That is, a little help from you.” She tapped my chest as she finished her words.
Torix said, “Your actual soul is melding with that eldritch, and er, something else. I’m sure you’ve felt the differences. The armor isn’t really different from you anymore. Unlike with most attempts at melding with the eldritch, it isn’t assimilating you. You are assimilating it. That’s why we believe that you could be the key to bridging the gap between us and the eldritch.”
Kessiah said, “It will be glorious.”
I leaned onto my hand as I said, “Yeah, I get that. What I don’t get is why either of you care about the eldritch. You’re way over that shit now, right?”
Torix shook his head and said, “I could only wish it were so simple.”
Kessiah said, “You wanna know why Schema hates remnants so much?”
Althea said, “Even if he doesn’t, I really do…for what it’s worth.”
Kessiah opened her arms wide as she said, “It’s because of the genetic modification thing. That isn’t the real reason though. It’s for the same reason Schema hates Torix. We are immortal.”
I leaned back as I said, “Why would Schema hate immortals? Wouldn’t he want super strong fuckers flying all around the galaxy?”
Torix raised a finger towards the ceiling, saying, “Indeed Schema would. What he does not like, however, is investing large amounts of resources into people who do not deliver.”
He made circle with his hands, like he was trying to contain something as he said, “You see, after a few centuries of killing monsters, anyone would grow weary of slaying them. By now, neither Kessiah nor I want to keep on going to fringe worlds, destroying giant monster after giant monster. It gets quite dull.”
I frowned as I said, “Honestly, that shit sounds pretty fun.”
Kessiah said, “Oh it is, but wait until you’ve killed over 100,000 monsters over level 1000. It’s not my idea of
anymore, even though I love fighting.”
Torix continued, “Neither is it mine. Who wants to spend all eternity fighting monsters? You lose the spirit for it after a few hundred years. That is why Schema outlawed genetic modification. Through telemerization, anyone may become immortal. That means they will grow tired of fighting the eldritch. Needless to say, Schema doesn’t enjoy that prospect.”
Kessiah crossed her arms and legs, her black boots clanking together as she said, “Schema’s all for helping you when you’re killing the eldritch, but the moment you stop, he looks at you like wasted resources. All the levels, attributes, all that shit costs something to Schema. What you ask? I don’t fucking know and I don’t fucking care. What I do know is this.”
She uncrossed her arms and started pressing her finger into her thigh, accentuating each of her points, “Until we find a way to actually stop the eldritch, besides fighting them forever, people like Torix and I are going to be hounded until we eventually die.”
Kessiah raised her hands over her head as she said, “How in the fuck am I supposed to find a new home after that stupid ass AI stole my home world and makes a trillion people my enemy. It’s ridiculous. Fucking ridiculous.”
During her tirade, veins had started pulsing up the side of her neck. Her face had grown a brighter shade of reddish violet. She was nearly shouting by the end.
Althea laid a hand on Kessiah’s shoulder and said, “It’s alright. Things don’t stay bad forever.”
Kessiah sighed before saying, “Yeah, sorry. The subject hits close to home. Or, well…a lack of one I suppose.”
Torix nodded as he said, “You two may hold the key for stopping all this brutish nonsense. Who knows, we may even be able to live with the old ones with how readily Daniel’s armor eats their energy.”
Kessiah rolled her eyes as she said, “Alright, yeah. Sure. Let’s take this one step at a time.”
“Of course, of course. One can dream though.”
I frowned as I said, “Eh, I don’t know man. Those old ones can turn dreams into nightmares.”
Kessiah said, “Then let’s make you into a nightmare for them…or at least one for the eldritch…Can they even dream?”
Althea said, “Their dreams are like peaceful mornings. All the chaos is still during those moments.”
Torix slammed his hands together, sending a shockwave through the room. Althea and Kessiah floated away from the center of the colosseum. Torix said,
“We can talk about that later. Yawm will be here soon. He will be a very, very problematic nuisance. We need to finish this ritual before he gets here.”
Kessiah giggled before saying, “Yes, let’s get this show on the road.”
I said, “What the fuck am I supposed to do? Sit here and get swarmed by the eldritch.”
Torix said, “No. You will stick your hand inside the tear. Otherwise, the flow won’t be enough, and the eldritch will pour in every direction. You are the plug for this dimensional tear. You will absorb the energy until your armor can no longer contain it. Once the eldritch mana leaks into your system, hold onto yourself. Find your most powerful memory. Use that to anchor yourself. Are you ready?”
I sighed before saying, “I mean, I suppose I am. It isn’t like I have a choice, right?”
“Not particularly. I will fire the spell. Kessiah will offer up her mana. Althea will act as a tether for you. If you feel yourself getting sucked in, use her to feel your way back. Otherwise, you may end up in the eldritch dimension. You don’t want to be in the eldritch dimension.”
I slapped the sides of my helmet, psyching myself up. I growled once or twice before saying, “Come on, Daniel. Let’s do this. Let’s do this.”
“Primitive, but potent…And now, it begins.”
The light in his book glowed a blinding blue, like an eruption as waves of hissing mana poured from Kessiah and him both. This mana wasn’t even a liquid like the time with Baldag-Ruhl. The flowing mana was more like carrying a lit piece of dynamite. You were just waiting for it to explode.
The entire room hummed as Torix weaved the power from numerous gems in his robes. The mana sounded like water hitting molten metal. The intensity of it amazed me. The runes around us glowed once more, turning the room awash with white and blue light. No sphere formed around me this time. Instead, all the mana poured into blue sphere beside me.
Violently humming, the mana formed a perfect sphere condensing into a single point of light. All the sound and air in the room flowed towards this one point. For a moment, there was unearthly silence. Everything was still.
That peace shattered as a calamitous detonation of sound rumbled across the room. A tiny point appeared beside me. This point expanded, revealing a black rip the size of a pen. Torix’s arms shook as he roared, “Hurry. I can’t keep the energy locked away for long. You must stop it.”
I blinked my eyes shut before hitting myself in the forehead. The little bit of pain let me get myself ramped up. The tear opened wider, becoming the size of a basketball. It was an endless void, a portal into some place foreign. Every instinct within me told me to run away, to avoid this calamity with all my might.
I swallowed those feelings as I thrust my arm out into the waiting abyss. My armor rippled all over my skin, feasting on the energy like a ravenous hyena tearing into a carcass. My armor began pulling me into the void. I pulled back, scrambling away.
Torix shouted over the heavy hum of the dark portal, “Stop smiling. This is serious.”
There was no smile plastered on my face. It was plastered onto my armor. I was shivering and pouring a cold sweat. Being so near the portal made every cell in my body scream. I pressed my heels into the stone floor beneath me. A few seconds passed before the rock caved, my feet sinking into stone.
“Fucking god Dammit. Stop. Stop you dumb fucking piece of shit armor.”
The armor slid into the portal, pulling at my bones as I was being eaten by it. The sheer force of the pull amazed me. Even if I could out strengthen it, the ground I was on couldn’t. That was when I felt something sinking in from the other side. I roared,
“There’s something…it’s melting my arm.”
I sunk another foot deeper, most of my arm within the abyss. Every piece of my armor within the portal was numb, besides for a sinking cold. It was a liquid malevolence, something that should not be. My body feared it, like a child fearing the dark. This was something insidious and sinister, something that couldn’t be named. I could feel my flesh warping under its presence, unable to contain it.
The arcane bonds turned to utter chaos. All semblance of order ripped as my arm within the portal turned bulbous. Oh god how I wished it hurt. Then I would know it was bad. This wasn’t like that. This is what I imagined it would feel like if Baldag-Ruhl had turned me into a shell and crawled in.
As it did so, I focused on what Torix said, to use my most powerful memory. I remembered how much I hated Baldag-Ruhl. I remembered the disgust of watching him drip fluids and talk of using my soul as a shell. I remembered the violation, the repulsion. Then I remembered how I would rise, and how he would fall.
With a force of will like a tempest, I rose. Except now, I was no longer a mere tempest. I was a boundless storm. I fired back at the presence. I grit my teeth. I clenched my fists. Instead of forcing it out, I commanded it to obey. I demanded the presence to become mine. The tide turned as the war of wills turned to my side. This wasn’t my first battle against an invasive force.
More of the cold sunk in, but my arm reverted to normal. My armor stopped pulling me into the portal. The cold turned to fire. A liquid lava coursing through my veins. It was a cleansing fire, like pulling a knife out of your stomach. That feeling sunk into every ounce of my body as I converted the entropy into order. I conquered this energy with my will.
After an eternity of sitting within the portal and the energy, my entire body felt new. Nothing was the same. Like I was a freshly healed wound, the entire world was vibrant and intense. I was in a new body. Kessiah shouted,
“Yes. Yes! This is what we need. All this waiting was for this. Look at him. He’s absorbing it.”
Torix grinned as he boomed, “He is. By god he is.” He strained his arms as he said, “How I’ve waited so long…so very long.”
The armor atop my face peeled back, revealing my face. My teeth grew sharp under my cheeks. My skin thickened, turning callous and gray. The armor melted into my flesh, becoming a part of me. The tendrils in my flesh melted straight into my bones. The being that was my armor molded into my mind. Its hunger became my hunger. Its brutality became my brutality.
The energy ceased sinking in. The portal no longer pulled me in. I was at home inside it, like a warm haze. I breathed out, and a mist of the eldritch poured out. I stared long into the abyss, and it stared back into me. As I destroyed the monsters eating me, I became a monster.
No. I became more, an eater of monsters, an eater of eldritch. Something that may eat both the old and the new.
Torix said, “I can’t believe it. you actually did. You didn’t turn into a monster.”
I gripped both my hands on the portal as I said, “Didn’t I tell you?”
I turned to him as I said, “I will be no monster, for I feast on them.”
From within the dark portal, a single eye opened. Something from the other side gripped my arms, pulling me in. As I slid into the depths of darkness, the voice of Etorhma quaked into my ears,