The Reincarnation of Alysara - Chapter 101:
It’s been a few weeks now, and the village’s restoration has been progressing rather nicely. Everything has been cleaned up or salvaged, and now the village is actually being rebuilt. It’s still amazing to me how fast a house can be built; with several houses being completed every day, it will only take one more month for the village to be fully restored. That’s accounting for the fact that time is being taken to decorate everything, too, since much of the decoration is being done by other people who are not skilled in construction.
After checking in with the village, I move my perception further out, checking to see how other places are doing in their restoration efforts. I notice many people are stripping the abandoned islands for materials and supplies, which makes sense; I doubt there is enough bamboo cultivated for building to rebuild all of the villages.
After checking in on the islands I take a boat over to Temple Island, where I notice a group of priestesses-in-training being taught by Tusile and several other elders. Once we have finished rebuilding, we’ll have to go into the Dungeon and get strong enough to slay the Treant. Should another disaster come, the dungeon needs to be available as a place we can evacuate to, since it’s the only place that can truly shelter us from cursed beings.
Clearing away the idle thoughts, I walk up the temple steps to the Mana Arc and place my hand on it, connecting to Kayafe.
“Hello,” I say, and wait for her to wake up.
“How long has it been? You sound a little older now.” Kayafe asks, taking longer than usual to reply.
“Around two years… some things happened, and I couldn’t talk to you.”
I hesitate at first, but if anyone can give me advice, it’s Kayafe, so I tell her. Tears slide down my cheeks as I retell what happened, my fears of losing everyone I know, not letting anyone wake up because if I had to rely on anyone I would have given up, but before I can continue Kayafe stops me.
“You don’t have to say any more if you don’t want to.” Kayafe says, gently. “When I first ran away from the human kingdoms and everyone I knew, I couldn’t help but feel like I abandoned them so that I could have freedom. Of course, that was never my intention; I was trying to find ways to free my people from slavery, but as the years went by, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Here I was, adventuring, exploring the world, and meeting new peoples and cultures, while they all suffered under a tyrannical rule, at the bottom of society. But that’s a story for another day.” Kayafe pauses for a moment before continuing, as if reminiscing on something.
“I can’t say I understand what you went through. You had no desperate bid for freedom; everything around you just came crashing down, and that isn’t something I’ve really experienced, but I can sympathize with you to some degree.
“I’ve been told that soul barrier backlash is the most painful thing anyone can experience, but I’ve never experienced it myself. For you to throw yourself into the depths of such torment… I can only say that you are perhaps the most determined and caring person I’ve ever known and that you have my full respect.”
“Thank you,” I half whisper, still trying to calm myself from my recount of the cursed being incident.
“You’ve witnessed dragons fight, something I cannot boast about, other than my match against Safyr. Now, of course, I know she went easy on me. You’ve also seen the dangers of cursed beings firsthand, which few do and fewer survive. Most know that cursed beings aren’t to be trifled with, but it’s a danger that must be experienced to truly understand. Most simply cannot comprehend their power and it ultimately leads to foolish attempts to use cursed beings or even become them. People think they can control them, use them to defeat their enemies, use them in war or rebellions. People think they can simply go into ruins and defeat cursed beings like any normal monster, but all such thing inevitably lead to catastrophic destruction. Fortunately, most governments wisen up and forbid those things… or rather, the ones that ban anything related to cursed beings survive, and the others do not.”
I think about that for a few moments, then shudder and decide to change the topic to something less bleak. “The Guardian keeps telling me to get my Bond to five hundred; why is that?”
“What level is your Bond now?” Kayafe asks.
“Three hundred eighty-four”
“Have you noticed that level three hundred didn’t lower your experience gain that much?”
“Not really…” I say, trying to figure out what she is getting at.
“The first milestone is one hundred; before that, your Bond is unresponsive to you, you really have to work it like moving around rocks, but after that, it becomes easier.”
It… kind of felt like that, but I’ve never really had that much difficulty. I did have to ‘push’ it at the beginning, I suppose; now it feels more natural, more responsive to what I want.
“Between level one hundred and two hundred, it stops resisting you, but it doesn’t necessarily help you either. You’re now at the stage where you’ve earned the attention of your Bond: it’s finally noticed you and is paying attention to you.”
While Kayafe is anthropomorphizing it to make it easier to understand, what she means is that it now feels more like a tool, a hammer rather than a rock. Both will drive in a nail, but the hammer is easier to use; it’s more like an extension of a limb, but not yet like a whole new limb itself.
“At five hundred is when you finally earn your Bond’s respect, and it will help you rather than resist or sit neutrally. You’ll also notice that it is following the tiers. From level zero to one hundred, it’s Minor, one to two hundred it’s Adept, two to five hundred it’s Major,” Kayafe says.
“Then the next milestone after five hundred is one thousand, then two thousand,” I say, continuing for Kayafe.
“Indeed. The equivalent to a Legendary-tier Bond should be level five thousand to ten thousand. Safyr says that you’ll gain another Class once your Bond ‘answers to your whims’, that is either level two thousand or five thousand.”
“What’s the best way you’ve found to level up your Bond?” I ask after a moment’s thought.
“Same as leveling your Class, challenging yourself.” Kayafe replies, “Fighting monsters does help and is still one of the most efficient ways. The higher the stakes, the more invested in the fight you are, the more you’ll grow your affinity with your Bond. You get a better intuitive understanding of it, just like you’d get a better intuitive understanding of swordplay if you fight with swords. But one does not have to fight with it. Meditation, study, and using it in everyday life can be an effective, if slower, way to level your Bond if you try. Don’t just use Bond skills; the mindset that leads to is that of using a mere tool. Instead, you should use the Bond alone, without support from skills, this will shift your mindset to one of… deeper meaning, I suppose.”
I see. Whenever I use my clones, I’m just thinking about using the clones and [Create Twin], not the Bond itself, that’s why I don’t level it when using it. This also seems to suggest that I can do more with my Bond than just manipulate the mana itself.
“So, tell me about [Sense Magic]; what have you learned?” Kayafe asks.
I tell her what little I found out, but considering that I haven’t delved too much into its workings yet, there isn’t too much to talk about. After I explain my findings, I ask her about my hypothesis of how to cure cursed skills.
“It’s possible that the magical framework is incompatible with cursed skills; it might be possible to use legendary points to build a customized framework into a sort of adaptor to make them compatible.”
“Hmmm,” Kayafe ponders, humming softly to herself. “It’s a huge risk; it could work, from what we know, but that is not much and if you’re wrong then you will almost certainly become a cursed being. It’s not worth the risk until we know more.”
“Hopefully, I’ll figure it out with [Sense Magic]. I have a lot to learn still.”
Soon enough, I run out of mana and bid farewell to Kayafe.
I return home to look after the twins, and with another Mind I start examining my own magical signature. I have to learn more to hopefully solve my cursed skill issues. For two years, I delayed learning these things, and I have only six years left. Even worse, [Astral Projection] has further complicated the issue.
I steel my determination and summon more clones to practice my skills and Bond. I am running out of time; I need to get back into my training mindset!
I stare at my magical signature, trying to make sense of it. There is some form of structure to it, but it is blurry and hard to make out. I continue staring at it, gradually piercing through the fog. Slowly, very slowly, I start seeing the outer shape of the magical framework: three conjoined circles with lines running inside them.
There’s more to it, but it’s still hard to make out, it’s very difficult to tell the circles apart with all of the lines and this blurry vision. The details inside the circle seem to be what skills are; if that’s the case, then the circles are Class and Race magical frameworks. There are three circles, probably for Bond, Race, and Class, but where are my general skills in my magic framework?
[Inquisitive Perfection] is trying to tell me something. There’s… an outlier? If the circles contain skills, then should I not have four circles? Let’s start with the overall picture. The circles look like they want to form a flower of life; the edge of the second circle intersects the center of the middle circle, with the edge of the third circle intersecting the middle of the first and second circles. If the general skills are the center and the Class and Race are the other two, then where’s the Bond? Or perhaps it’s the Race that is missing?
I have a way to check; I need to match my mana signature to my magic signature. My Bond, Race, and Class are separate but overlaid with each other. However, now that I am looking at it with the magic signature, it is clear that the Bond is the outlier. Bond skills do not transfer to Class skills, and Class skills only augment Bond skills, which means the Bond cannot be connected to the other magical frameworks since the skills cannot move over.
My Bond Class augments my Bond just like my Race augments my body, so that leads to the question, just what is the Bond? I can now see what the Race and Class are, but this suggests the Bond is something else entirely; it’s not magical in nature.
I almost facepalm. It took me too long to figure it out. Of course the Bond would be different; for starters, it doesn’t have a magical tier. Yes, there’s something about the level, but it never has a tier identifier and doesn’t seem to have a level limit. There’re still questions to be solved, though. Where can I see the Bond skills? There are definitely Bond skills, which suggests a magical framework, yet I see none of it. There’s still a piece of the puzzle I am missing.
Alright, now I have found the outlier and, as enticing as the mystery is, I need to shelve it for now.
So, Race, Class, and general skills are represented by magical circles. That means I should have three… somethings outside of it, which will be my cursed skills. Which circle is my Race? Well, that’s easy; it’s the one with the bright star of [Sense Magic] inside it. Which means that the faintly glowing star way off to the side is [Mana Manipulation]; at least I found one cursed skill. And that leaves the last circle as my Class
As I identify the cursed skill and differentiate the magical frameworks, I notice the signature star of [Sense Magic] fluctuate a tiny amount, glowing slightly brighter and seeming to grow in… depth, for lack of a better word.
Suddenly the fog seems to disperse and I can clearly see the magical frameworks in all their glory. All three of the magic circles have the same base, which skills slot into, but the Race and Class magic circles have a core and an outer layer, the meanings of which I have yet to figure out. The skills themselves seem like tiny classes, small magic circles within larger frameworks. The lines that connect it to the larger frameworks make them seem like one piece, and it’s not hard to see the different parts within the skills. Tiny points inside them, which are joined to the skill’s outer ring, indicate breakthroughs.
Moving on to the cursed skills, I easily spot what sets them apart: instead of a circle, they are pointed, the number of points indicating the number of breakthroughs. It’s almost as if they are turned inside out… which is probably why they don’t normally slot into a magic framework. Inside the cursed skills is only what I can call a black sludge, something I can easily identify as miasma. Somehow, the miasma has turned the skill inside out, and if the skill is absorbed by a magical framework it will form connections to the Class or Race, allowing the miasma to spread and consume the magical framework to fuel its own magical process… warping me into a cursed being.
My purification hypothesis seems to not be correct after all.
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