Kara awoke as she felt a hand touch her back. But more so by the small transmittance of Mana eliciting a small moan from the Wolfkin and a mumble from the perpetrator.
Eyes still closed, Kara moved a bit getting comfortable as she felt Luna in her arms. Whenever Rainer left the bed, the Fairy had a habit of moving closer to her, not that she minded. The magical being that Luna was left her body at a pleasant temperature. Though, ever since she had grown to her full size, her transferring Mana in her sleep had become a bit of an issue along with the problem of controlling her now far stronger flame.
Kara opened her eyes as she looked at Luna, only seeing the silver hair of the violet-eyed Fae as she buried herself in the half demon's chest. As she looked at her, Kara thought over the relationship between the three of them.
Ever since her conversation with Rainer, Kara had thought over just how to accept the current situation, one she understood may be inevitable, lest she decided to leave. The one thing that made it easier for Kara to accept, while certainly not okay with sharing, was that Luna would be as much hers as Rainer’s.
It wasn’t hard to like the easy-going Fae, and it helped that Luna was by far the most loyal and held the most faith in the man she loved than even begrudgingly herself, but it didn’t fix everything. Kara only sighed as she returned Luna’s sleeping action with an Aura-infused kiss to the top of her head. It wasn’t as effective but seeing the Fairy shudder brought at least some sense of payback to the Fairy that always woke them up at night.
Kara glanced up a moment at Rainer who stood in concentration; it wasn’t strange for him to wake up at night with a sudden revelation related to Magic. Wondering if their little dragonling, Lesha, was with Rainer, the Wolfkin waited for him to finish what he was trying to do.
She was just about to call to him, only to witness a clawed hand reach out from a spatial tear and take him with it. Not even able to react as her love was taken from this world, Kara could only watch in shock as the hole sealed itself.
Her eyes wide, she immediately shook Luna awake, hoping the Fae bonded to Rainer could confirm that the worst had not in fact happened.
Only the violet light of armed [Arcane Bolt]s lit the seemingly endless tunnel. Nothing but the sounds of running feet against the hard stone echoed. Until the footsteps of countless others joined in.
An [Arcane Blade] lashed out, ending the [Deviling] that sought to consume its caster in but an instant. Rainer surged forward under the violet light of [Arcane Awakening]. He suddenly spun around as his blade cleaved the [Deviling]s. Part of him suspected there was truly no need to kill these wretched grey-skin things. That they would simply arrive in larger numbers so long as something brought them forth. They ran on a mix of two and four legs, with sharp claws that cut through even his constitution strengthened skin. Even if it was only ever so slightly.
Armed [Arcane Bolt]s unleashed themselves and were soon replenished as Rainer made his way deeper into the tunnel. However, he found himself reaching a large drop. He had only a moment to extend his [Void Detection] before suddenly his hilt was jolted out of his hand. Lashing out at the attacker, who simply disappeared as quickly as she attacked, the hilt already fell out of Rainer’s summoning range.
Casting all his armed [Arcane Bolt]s at once, a [Cone of Arcane-Fire] erupted from his hands, as he walked forward, setting the vile creatures ablaze.
He cut the spell and turned his back toward the abyss. He used [Void Detection].
And reached out behind him.
[Arcane Awakening: Might]
His body cracked as he grew a foot in height and his muscles and bones strengthened as his hand gripped a shadowy figure. His assumption on the strange being felt with his [Void Detection] had been correct. He would not make the same mistake again.
[Devil, Female, Shadowborne lvl 21]
Apart from the darker skin and longer ears, the figure looked no different than the hideous, sharp teethed [Deviling]s. Rainer didn’t spare her even a moment before his powerful hand crushed the figure’s skull.
He glanced out towards the next wave of [Deviling]s. They were not a mindless horde. But Rainer saved that thought for later. [Arcane Bolt]s formed on each of his hands, as he unleashed the cheap but powerful spell on the horde, constantly replenishing his Arcane Power. No longer the controlled subdued bolt of concentrated power, it instead exploded with Arcane Energy on impact.
While not as strong as an [Arcane-Fire Bolt], it was far cheaper, not having a Mana cost. And with the Arcane Energy he drew from beyond feeling far closer than ever, the [Arcane Bolt]s power did not seem like the tier 1 spell it was.
The breaks between the waves were all Rainer needed as he assaulted the horde, nothing but the unintelligent [Deviling]s present.
He knew that would not last forever. The strange shadow Devil had shown him as such.
Rainer stared down the tunnel Jor charged forth minutes ago. Bodies lay dead all around him. A gentle hiss echoed throughout as the accursed blood of the Devils spilled from the broken body and affected the grey-stoned ground. Though many more corpses were beyond just bleeding. They were burnt or destroyed beyond recognition.
Spreading out his [Void Detection] Rainer looked over the cliff, only to discover it wasn’t a cliff at all.
With a small flare of [Arcane Awakening], Rainer walked through the Void and stood at the top of a staircase. He glanced upward, a large distance from here to the where he had been. The staircase had been destroyed.
He void-walked once more, feeling the enchanted item that was his hilt in the large chasm in place of the stairs that should have led to the top. He grabbed the hilt as he took in his surroundings. The stairs had not simply been destroyed but removed from the ground as well as a large portion bellow.
Rainer frowned for a moment as he looked at the missing stone. There was no reason for the staircase to be hollow beneath, and the remaining bottom portion certainly wasn’t. His eyes widen in shock as he stared at the partially spherical chasm. It was as if half a sphere had disappeared from the rock, taking the staircase and what was below with it. He ventured the full sphere would be at least 300 feet in diameter.
He felt the stone, untouched by most elements within the mountain. It was smooth, too smooth.
A Void Call?!
Rainer suddenly thought. It would fit. Why, even someone with magic like his was at most considered a fledging Void Lord by that [Devil King]. Originally, Rainer thought it nothing more than blind arrogance. Even with a smaller Mana Pool for the Devil to continually treat him as he wasn’t a real threat would require stupidity, or perhaps a huge misunderstanding.
He let out a sigh. At full strength, he could call forth the Void perhaps a quarter the size of himself. Though a bit smaller, when taking account of the spherical shape. And that was at great pain and personal cost. Rainer Void-walked away once more. There were many magics that may do such a thing, and it was pointless to just jump to such a conclusion just because of a [Devil King]s mention of Lords of the Void, as much as he hoped for such power in the future.
Though in the back of his mind, he envisioned his own [Void Call] not only reaching but surpassing such a power.
As he walked on, the newfound silence let Rainer retreat to his thoughts, thankfully allowing him to ignore the growing uncomfortableness of the sweat and dried blood on his body, and the tears on his clothes. It was easy to take Luna’s flame for granted in a world that lacked the amenities of his previous. He supposed he was quite lucky in that regard. No fantasy novel he’d ever read truly prepared one for the realities of dealing with a lack of proper hygiene.
Though, he was never one for casual reading that only made him lament his pitiful magic at the time.
He missed her sleeping spell too, for now, his only option for entering [Sleep Learning] forcefully, as Jor tended to the horde behind him, was to smash his head into the wall. Something he only considered in mocking.
Above all else, he missed both the calming and mood improving presence the Fairy had by simply being in his pocket. Or just around him. Though, he kept this particular longing deeper than the more practical ones. He could remark how much he missed just Luna’s presence alone in person rather than to himself. She would certainly enjoy it.
Back to his current situation, he coughed a bit at the Miasma he was breathing. Though the cough was more from annoyance than a need for with a flash of [Arcane Invigoration], Rainer cleared his body of the minuscule amount of Miasma that was building within.
[Miasma Resistance has reached level 2]
He noted a bit of his hunger and thirst disappearing with the dose of [Arcane Invigoration]. He was quite thankful as apart from the poisoned wine and [Draconic Essence], he had little else. With his basic needs assured, Rainer thought over that massive chasm, unable to keep it from his mind.
Lords of the Void…
Rainer in part hoped once more that was a display of the power he might wield, and not some other form of power. He then ventured these more mindless Devils sought him for the same purpose as the [Devil King], for his ability to Void-walk, like these so-called Lords. Of course, not realizing that his ability was, in fact, a spell, and as far as he knew, consuming him would do nothing for them.
His mind focused on the upcoming Trial, assuming he could even find the so-called Abyssal Dungeon. With the time dilation, he had some leeway before he truly needed to rush back to his party, and so he planned just what he needed to accomplish before taking his next Trial. A tentative look at his bond with Luna still showed nothing he needed to worry about.
Most importantly, he’d need to assure that he actually advanced to a proper 2nd tier class. [Grand Voidwalker] or something similar would not do in getting back home. The second issue was actually advancing. Having only a single half-leveled subclass left him feeling inadequate, even with Jor’s help.
The serpent’s assistance being the only thing that gave him confidence in taking the Trial so early. Even the mirror image in his [Arcanist] Trial that mimicked him and Luna did not mimic Jor. And in the Serpent’s current state, something that was likely achieved from the various things that were consumed, Jor was far different than the tiny transparent creature of the past.
Dealing with the horde of Devils chasing him along with whatever else this plane held for him was another issue. One he hoped to use to level up proper subclasses once he was sure removing [Void-Walker] wouldn’t spell his death. And that the Abyssal Dungeon was similar enough to a World Tree Branch, in allowing him to change his class.
Brought out of his thoughts by the sight ahead of him, Rainer stared with interest. A large metal door now blocked his way. Blocked, however, was a loose term as there was a perfectly round hole in the center of the door. It was clean and ignored the still enchanted metal entirely. But feeling the weakness in the Magic of the enchantment, Rainer knew it wasn’t long before it faded. And with [Arcane Sight], he could see the enchantment itself was a step above any strengthening he read about or practiced.
Even a common enchanter could refill the magic in a strengthening enchantment, something not possible with most enchantments, so whatever had occurred here, likely happened before he was born.
He easily jumped through the hole, being only a foot above the ground.
For once, the ever-encroaching horde behind him gave him hope in a different way. That whatever caused this destruction was no longer here to scare them away. They already proved themselves cowards, staying far away during his fight with the [Devil King]. Why Rainer himself didn’t inspire such fear, he had no idea.
He grinned ruefully, understanding that perhaps his small pool of Mana once more made him seem less than he was.
Oh, how wrong would his pursuers discover their thoughts, instinctual or not.
Rainer found his eyes growing heavy as he cleaved yet another [Deviling] in half. And soon Jor appeared once more and gave him a reprieve. It was already the fifth time Jor had come out since visiting this plane, meaning he traveled and fought on and off for about a day, adding on his four hour nap, one he hoped to take again soon.
He breathed heavily as he expended some Mana to Void-walk several times, deeper into the tunnel Rainer convinced himself might as well be endless.
He left just enough Mana for emergencies before collapsing against the wall. Bringing his hand to the invisible Rune that Jor oft hid in, Rainer realized preparing for his advancement wasn’t the only thing he needed to do.
Jor is taking longer to recover each time…Why does Jor need to recover, Jor uses half of my Arcane Power when Jor’s out? Is Jor resisting whatever force tried to drag Jor back in the Trial at all times? Or does Jor need to exist in me, no different than when Jor had been a Trial Magic Beast?
Rainer thought. Several means of blocking the horde came to mind, but all carried too great a risk. Collapsing the tunnel, while possibly a good idea, proved too risky. He knew too little about the structure of the place to not simply bury himself and have to make a mad Void-walk to the surface. Which in turn would leave him Manaless against a possibly larger grouping of Devils.
He found himself momentarily turned to rage at the [Devil King] that brought him here. At the Devils who clearly held intelligence in their last fight organizing this assault. A small nip on his finger brought him back, and seeing the perpetrator any thoughts of anger vanished instantly.
“Alright, alright. Instead of getting angry I should just pay attention to my little girl?” Rainer said picking up Tiamat, who had left his coat unnoticed. He took out one of his numerous vials of Draconic Essence before feeding the little dragon. He noted she seemed to be growing, far too visibly. He wondered what effect the Miasma in the air had for the [Eldritch Dragonling] that breathed it in so greedily?
After finishing the essence, Tiamat nudged herself deeper into his arms. She had no interest in returning to the coat. Rainer glanced down at her. In part, glad to have a companion, however quiet and in another, he stared at her with [Arcane Sight]. The power in her body and most clearly, her blood, intrigued and drew his sight.
“I hope I can still hold you like this for a bit longer. Who knows how big you’ll get,” he whispered.
The Dragon opened one eye and seemed displeased with Rainer.
“Good point. I’ll just make myself larger,” He added, causing the black-scaled dragonling to resume her rest. Laughing lightly, he wondered just how much Tiamat understood beyond his tone.
He sighed, leaning his head against the tunnel wall, as he did his best to fall asleep quickly. Not only did he have to prepare for his Trial, but he also needed to prepare something to deal with the horde on a more permanent basis.
The White Void of [Sleep Learning] spread out before Rainer. Switching gears, it took only a moment for [Arcane Awakening] and [Arcane Invigoration] to flare to their maximums, as he always kept in [Sleep Learning].
The image of the massive crater, carved so cleanly within the strong stone entered his mind. And so he called forth the Void, over and over again.
[Void Call has reached level 5]
He altered the size of the Void he called, he tried for efficiency, pushing himself further and further to get as many out as he could. Slowly, he tried to understand just what fueled his ability to call the Void beyond just the backlash that assaulted his mind.
[Void Call has reached level 6]
Hours passed as Rainer felt himself reaching the limits of his brute force methods and hundreds upon thousands of hapless boxes were sent to the darker Void of [Sleep Learning].
Rainer sat down as he refreshed his body automatically at yet another death. The size of the skill had not improved much, 6 inches in diameter more to his maximum at most. While simply going for quantity let him use it 28 times before death.
He ran his hand through his hair as he thought over the source of this power once more. Rainer’s eyes flashed with recollection as he took out the spell formula for [Deliverance]. Feeling the all too familiar pain that accompanied reading difficult Runes, Rainer suddenly realized the similarity.
His eyes would shut long before he could permanently maim or kill himself by reading runes, but [Void Call] had no such restriction, being an act that simply required his will.
He frowned as he contemplated what that meant. Did leveling [Faraan Runic Language] increase his efficiency with using his mind, or did it increase the amount of whatever he could use before the pain overwhelmed him? Or did it only increase his efficiency with a particular language, having no crossover or bearing on anything else?
Rainer shook away these questions, and having felt stagnated on [Void Call], he went towards thinking of a solution for dealing with a far more immediate issue; The ever-coming horde and the longer and longer times between Jor’s ability to stem the tide.
He took out a different spell formula, one he already knew but had not yet mastered let alone made Arcane, removing the distraction that [Deliverance] was. It would certainly take out a chunk of them, but it would hardly be a solution.
He needed something far more permanent.
An Arcane [Frozen Sun]. But that wasn’t the only problem. With his smaller Mana pool, even with the long cast time and the addition of Arcane Power, he wouldn’t be able to bring out the spell’s full power. One that made the Ice more permanent and widespread.
Nonetheless, Rainer knew it would be his first step. He read over the formula once more, looking over the parts dedicated to the use of Ice Magic. It had always been a simple thing in most cases, to replace an element with its Arcane mixed one. So long as he had the manipulation skill, that is. And [Arcane-Ice Manipulation] he had.
Rainer stood, arm outstretched. Mana gathered in front of his palm, prepared and compressed to be unleashed in a Mana channel toward the intended target. To focus on a single enemy or to be spread endlessly at the caster’s will wherever the channel connected.
In his other arm, Rainer formed a simple ball of Arcane-Ice. He stared at the mixed element for only a moment before he pondered on the skill. He gathered his Arcane Power and tried to meld it with the Mana for [Frozen Sun] and create something new.
The spell floundered, and once more Rainer found his arm and body frozen in almost an instant as the backlash hit him.
He knew too little of what Arcane-Ice did. What was different about it compared to Ice Magic. He could account for it being colder simply because of his bonuses rather than any sort of innate changes. And it seemed more malleable, but that could be attributed to the same thing. Arcane-Death, in comparison, was not entirely straightforward in its purpose either. Separating undead so easily from their owners and controlling Death Magic required more than just plain manipulation.
Rainer didn’t understand what was special about Arcane-Ice, so he moved forward. Forcing it upon the Tier 6 spell. Time passed as he killed himself repeatedly from the backlash, but every time he’d compel just a bit more Arcane Power into the spell before the resulting backlash attacking him. And in the end, Rainer discovered that was all it took. He ventured to understand Arcane-Ice in the future, but for now, he relied on the powerful magic that was [Frozen Sun]. He depended on it, as he replaced Ice with Arcane-Ice and created a spell that could bring out the true power of his Arcane.
And the thought was made reality as the spell took on Arcane-Ice and froze across a wide expense, fueled by the endless Arcane Power of [Sleep Learning].
[Spell Gained: Arcane Frozen Sun lvl 1/12]
Filled with immediate excitement, Rainer cast the Arcane laden spell again but limiting himself to what he could have and convert quick enough in reality. It was still limited by a cast time and a maximum power he could safely manage before the spell backlashed. With Rainer holding himself to real levels of Arcane Power, he could only input 120 points before he needed to cast the spell. His conversion was too slow to pile on more power in time.
He watched the darkened ice cover the floor of the white void only to frown. Something seemed off.
Rainer blanched as he saw the tier of the spell. It was not a tier 6 spell with the potential to reach the eighth tier but a tier 4 spell that failed to live up to the original.
Even with his bonus of Arcane that doubled, if not more, what his bonus towards Ice Magic would be the spell paled in comparison to the original. Sure, with the addition of powering most of the spell with Arcane Power it was more efficient, but soon his worse fears were confirmed.
He manipulated a ball of fire, and several seconds later fired a concentrated burst of [Arcane Frozen Sun]. The magic of the fire was dissipated from the stronger magic, but it was not freezing in the slightest. Not how [Frozen Sun] would freeze the spell.
Rainer formed once more a simple violet ball of Arcane-Ice in his hand. Simple, that it was compared to other Arcane mixes.
Arcane-Wind drew upon the wind of the world to fuel and empower it. Were he to carry anyone else but a naive child or his party far too used to his antics for half a day and at such speeds with [Arcane-Wind’s Ascent] he’d be seen with wide eyes that never closed. The spell fueled by not only his Arcane Power but the very wind of the world only had a decent Mana cost to cast it. Beyond that, it was a cheap spell far too inexpensive to warrant its tier 4 designation nor provide the speed and flight that it did.
[Arcane-Fire Bolt], but a tier 2 spell, killed a beast considered by the very system as immortal; A [Troll]. For the Arcane-Fire combusted and exploded without match, and consumed even the [Troll]s foretold to be everlasting.
[Arcane-Death Manipulation] had taken an [Arch-Lich] of legend and reduced him to nothing by a newly ranked tier 2 Mage. The [Arch-Lich] was weakened from the lack of the tier 2 undead he lost in the fight for Nalmar, but the storm of Death should have killed even a far more powerful Mage than Rainer. And yet the might of Arcane-Death turned the spell not only against the [Arch-Lich] but cleaved his tier 2 undead as if they were but common zombies.
And so, when he looked on the ball of Arcane-Ice in his hand, Rainer understood. It was just colder. How could he match the might of [Frozen Sun] by replacing it with something he understood so little?
Rainer sat down, focusing on the little ball of Ice. He drew upon not just the knowledge of this new world, but of his old. Why were ice spells in the Water spellbook? They were a manipulation of heat. A slowing of vibration down to the very building blocks of all matter.
Rainer let the ball of Arcane-Ice dissipate. [Frozen Sun] froze even fire. If he wished to accomplish this with Arcane, and give the spell enough power to stop the horde coming to him, he would need to understand Magic of Ice and Arcane far more. He wondered if perhaps simply altering [Frozen Sun] with Arcane-Ice was the right path. If he instead needed to take the spell in a different way with the inclusion of Arcane. To change more than simply Ice for Arcane-Ice.
He did not think the best result would always be such a straight forward replacement.
Seeing no more progress in this, Rainer returned to practicing [Void-Call] with the occasional break with [Void-walking]. But his mind remained on making [Frozen Sun] his own spell.
Hours passed without notice as he continued. He stayed in the White Void far longer than planned, but with his mind elsewhere and the constant pain of [Void Call] ever present in his mind, he noticed it not.
[Void Call has reached level 7]
With this level up could cast more, cast slightly larger, but in the end, the skill had not changed much from its start. Rainer ventured this level up would be the last he could simply improve the skill through the raw repetition [Sleep Learning] provided and manipulation of the Void.
Soon, his time came to an end.
As he awoke, a quick use of [Arcane Invigoration] helped him stand firmly, clearing him of Miasma that built far more than a few hours nap should have generated. He had slept far longer than he believed he could. He glanced at a message that appeared after the last battle, his experience from the [Devil King] as well played a role.
[Archon has leveled up to lvl 21/25. Standard Attributes have been distributed. 2 Attribute and skill points have been rewarded]
The pittance given by common [Deviling]s was hardly noticeable, but in the end, the hundreds killed by him alone added up.
He felt Jor’s presence in his shoulder, far weaker than before. Frowning, he wondered why Jor stayed out for far longer than before, only returning to him when he awoke naturally. A general sense of the serpent’s intentions hit him. Jor tried to push back the horde far harder and farther than before and even seemed to kill what the serpent transmitted to him as more annoying devils.
And then, he felt a voice speak aloud in his mind.
“I will need from you twice what I acted.”
The words felt misplaced. They sounded as if not spoken at a single time but put together haphazardly. Rainer couldn’t help but feel as if the words were taken straight from his mind, apart from the sound itself. The voice was light and airy, even if jumbled it did not sound displeasing.
“Then I’ll see you in 16 hours,” Rainer said aloud. He hoped Jor had given him a proper head start, but would not fault the Serpent. He had gotten a full night’s rest, and that would have to be enough.
He nodded before taking off as fast he could, ever deeper into the tunnel. His frustration still filled his face at progressing so pointlessly with [Arcane Frozen Sun] and accomplishing little.
While running forward, the pressure that the horde would be soon upon him, having a need for breaks as just a human, filled him with slight apprehension. But he steeled himself, not allowing any sort of fear to take over.
He glanced at his surroundings, slowing to a jog, knowing that tiring himself before he even faced any threats was too risky. The walls were no longer cave-like with a scattered beam of support. They were intentionally carved and molded. Likely as he pressed further the areas may no longer purely rely on the natural caves of the mountain but were built in a purposeful way.
A fond memory of the underground Goblin tribe entered his mind before leaving. There were no lights, no little green children running around, just his own light and his own sounds echoing in the tunnels. He worried for a bit about air but did not notice any sort of thinning, wondering if deeper in the tunnel was either another exit or some other means of allowing proper air.
Hours passed by, and while he felt a slight upward slope, the tunnel did not change in form. He even found himself missing the cavern-like walls that were now so monotonous, and perfect.
That changed completely as he finally found an exit. There was only darkness in front of him. His armed [Arcane Bolt]s only let him know that the tunnel seemed to expand at its end with a several hundred feet tall stair case appearing in front of him as he looked down. Any sort of safety to the precarious steps, likely no longer existing or never there at all.
He expelled a beam of light with his manipulation skill as he reached the end of the tunnel. He felt his breath momentarily stunned as he looked at the carefully crafted buildings all around. A few large ones seemed to act as supports, but nearly all were made of metal. Even the smallest housing. If that was what the strange metal boxes were, some twisted in odd shapes. Rainer could only see strange engraving from this distance but was sure that most were not enchanted in any way like the door.
Or had at least not been enchanted to last.
He empowered his light as he glanced across the dark metal city. The metal only slightly shined back with his light across it. Miles upon miles it seemed to stretch, but at the very end of it, as he focused with [Arcane Sight], Rainer could see another tunnel, another pathway. But this one was at the end of the tall stairway.
In the distance of the tunnel behind him, Rainer could hear the quietest of footsteps begin to echo. He was well rested, but in return, the horde was not far behind.
Rainer frowned as he realized that he would need to explore the city, and see if anything resembling this Abyssal Dungeon existed. Or if any texts existed that could point the way.
He glanced back for a moment before an [Arcane-Wind Ascent] covered him. Now was the time to expend his power and search all throughout this vast place.
If they wished to run him down, tire him, exhaust, expend him, so be it. He would use those feelings, that sense of dread and grow far stronger than before. To return to those he cared for, lest he never see them again. Becoming no more than a stray [Voidwalker] chased by Devils far too ignorant or foolhardy to understand they would likely gain nothing from him.
He refused to die in some dark cavern.
Rainer flew into the city, intent on finding his destination, whatever may await him.