The Reincarnation of Alysara - Chapter 76:
Fools! Buffoons! Can’t they see what’s happening?! I know warriors aren’t part of Myrou’s domain, but it’s the only way to bring people back to her guidance!
Papuyo paces in anger and frustration.
What makes them think they have any power to take away my priesthood?! That has never been done before! It’s because of that girl; she made them into heretics!
Papuyo will have to tread carefully. People forget things easily; the disaster of the superstorm is but a passing breeze to many. It seems that they need another disaster to remind them that the more they stray from Myrou, the more danger they are in, but what disaster will that be? In addition to tiptoeing around the Elders she needs to work on the elixir, and for that, she needs the aid of alchemists. There aren’t many, but that shouldn’t be a problem, there are bound to be a few sympathetic to her cause.
Although… Gutaly is having trouble recruiting people, so it might not be so easy. Perhaps the elders are hindering their efforts already; despite a lot of warriors coming back from the dungeon complaining about the trauma they went through, only a fraction of those returning are joining them.
Getting more and more frustrated thinking about the setbacks, Papuyo takes a deep breath, feeling the anger subside a little.
I should check on the ruin excavation site; maybe there is at least some good news there.
Papuyo stops pacing, walks to the pier, and rides a boat to the excavation site, a place between islands; conveniently, the ruins are near Temple Island. Many boats have been strapped together to form a staging platform for people to rest and hold the treasure that they’ve found, of which there is only a small pile for now although people are diving in and out of the waters, occasionally bringing more. In her [Sense Mana], Papuyo can see the top of an excavated tower poking out of the seafloor, which has somehow remained standing despite the disaster it went through.
“What brings you here?” Thyka, who is overseeing the operation, asks as she walks over.
“Looking for good news, hopefully,” Papuyo sighs. “Please tell me you’ve made good progress over the last few days.”
“I take it that the elders did not see our cause the same way as us? Yes, we’ve excavated all the way to the bottom and found several treasures, as you can see from that small amount, there’s a lot more waiting to be brought up; somehow many things have gotten Historic and Archaic tiers, becoming magical items capable of resisting the effects of time and erosion.”
“That is indeed good news, much better than what I expected,” Papuyo replies, the fortunate turn of events bringing a smile to her face.
“It also seems that this place was very important, a building dedicated to Myrou and the Grand Priestess Shara; you’ll see what I mean if you go down there. But it’s not all well,” Thyka says, watching an excavator mage climb onto the boats to rest and regain mana. “Many report ominous feelings and some report seeing shadows in the corner of their eyes, many require more incentives to go back.”
Of course it’s like that; people just need faith in Myrou, but they require constant reminders of that faith.
“We should pray for Myrou’s guidance before every dive.”
“We’ve already started doing that, but there is one more thing; you really need to see it,” Thyka says, turning towards the water’s edge and beckoning Papuyo to dive into the water behind her.
Earth mages and bond users are excavating the ruins and reinforcing it as they go, so it doesn’t collapse on the expedition. Papuyo dives down into the water to inspect the stonework of the tower, Thyka leading the way. The interior is mostly devoid of furnishing, but some seems to have survived the millennia of water. Cushioned chairs, wooden desks, even a few books seem to have resisted decay and damage from the water. The stonework was once a thing of perfection, but is now a ruined shell from the influence of time.
The tower leads down further, below the seafloor. Papyu swims down the stairs, trailing Thyka. A wall has partially collapsed; the excavators have removed the earth and reinforced it but the stonework is still missing. At the bottom, several more excavating mages are digging outward from the doorway into a large, tall cavern. The once-imposing doorway, now just an empty frame, opens up to a cavern of excavated sandstone, revealing broken brick streets and houses.
Signs of erosion carve through the ground, the remains of stone houses and other bits of rubble swept up by currents of water litter the area of the artificial cave. Most things wouldn’t have survived time, but magical and protected things can. Old vases, coins, tools and weapons have been gathered; all of them seem to have Historic and Archaic tiers. They are not magical in any other way but simply seem remarkably resilient to weathering and time. An old blacksmith hammer with a wooden handle shows no decay, as if it was made just a few years ago.
A painting stands among the gathered items – it bears some damage, but nowhere near what it should for being underwater for so long – and a book also seems to have survived as if it is water repellant. Papuyo turns back to look at the rest of the building that is attached to the tower, a huge cathedral with many depictions of Grand Priestess Shara, showing her many exploits, from building the Temple to bringing the Runalymo back to Myrou and away from the false gods. A large statue of a woman is holding up what looks like a slice of a heart.
Chills go down Papuyo’s spine, and she suddenly feels as if she is being watched, but she shakes the feeling off as Thyka motions to the heart and begins swimming towards it. Papuyo follows and [Analyzes] it as she gets closer.
Shara’s Middle Heart Piece:
This heart, from the angel Shara, has been cut into three pieces by the killing blow of a great being. This heart has the ability to convert any blood passed through it into angel blood.
This is an unexpected find. Papuyo smiles at her good fortune and takes the heart, storing it in a spatial ring.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Three days in, and I am finally unable to progress in any of the dens, all paths now blocked by tank bosses that heal or regenerate faster than I can damage them. I didn’t want to ask Esofy for help, but I’ll have to throw in the towel, leveling will be painfully slow if I don’t. Fortunately, Esofy is on her way back from the slime ruins, going over the places we have already explored, so it’s easy for me to find her.
“Can you help me defeat the Shelled Aegis Ant in the Giant Tree? It has a healing class, so I am unable to kill it.” I say, fidgeting a little and feeling my cheeks redden with nervousness. I don’t want to seem weak, I want to be the one who can take on any monster alone, but I just can’t as I am now. Maybe if I focused on my class skills, maybe if I was a higher level, but I have to wait; I have to hold back because a Unique-tier race is expected to have more, and greater, achievements to get better classes.
“Sure! We’ll help you tomorrow, it’s getting late today. On the way there, we can attune the waystone key to the waystone in that den.” Esofy pats my head with a warm smile, then speaks again after a short pause. “It’s alright to rely on others, Alysara; you can’t always be the one offering support.”
Esofy walks with me over to the ‘lounge’, really a large semi-permanent tent of pillars holding up canvas, with lots of chairs to rest in and talk with others. It’s mainly used by the group that stays behind and maintains the main camp, sorts the processed materials brought back from the subcamps, continues building more permanent structures, and builds things to improve the quality of life, such as carts.
The groups rotate every day. Esofy’s group and two others had the duty yesterday, while my duty remains scouting the dens and making maps. I am getting really good at making maps even though I turned down the [Cartography] skill.
So far, I’ve scouted out all accessible dens and ruins to their third floors. The Arachnoid den has what looks like a ruin on the third floor, although I haven’t scouted it yet.
The next day we work our way through the level one hundred monsters, slaying groups of five to twelve at a time. The rest of the group has gotten a lot better at handling multiple monsters, even some of the more powerful ones.
We walk into a room with a dark orb sitting on a pedestal, the dark element aligned space essence within serving as an anchoring point. Esofy walks forward and looks at me.
“Ready? You wanted to observe the process, right?”
“I’m ready.” I nod. I have my [Sense Mana] state of focus running in the background with [Persistent State], so I shrink my perception until only the waystone and waystone key are visible. Esofy touches the key to the waystone. The key seems to transfer some mana into the orb, and for a split second I see a line of mana form that is immediately burned out of existence to form a magical link.
I nod and summon a Familiar, watching the same linking process happen between me and it. My link is also magical in nature, but it seems like I can observe my own link that I form and not any others.
“I think I understand the process a lot more now,” I say, trying to bring the disparate thoughts and ideas in my head into a cohesive whole. A magical link is formed by using mana to make a sort of scaffold, then burning the mana as the fuel for the magic that turns that scaffold into a link. The waystone seems to hold the key’s unique mana as an anchor for the link.
I previously made links from the same piece of spell crystal, but if I can make a mana device that holds this mana instead, a link might form. Nailing down the magical side of the process may be tricky, but it may be possible to make teleporters if I can do it. There are downsides, however; links tend to have a range on them, at least my clone and Familiar links do. The mana usage for such teleporters will be a problem too, and if I can’t get the link to form, I’ll have to do it in a more roundabout and mana expensive way.
Still, I think I might be able to make a teleporter work to some degree. Will it be as good as, or even remotely close to, these waystones and keys? No, not at all. But if mankind could go from a half-minute flight to landing on the moon in seventy years, then I can make equivalent progress too!
“Alright, let’s continue,” I say, having ordered my thoughts.
“Think you can replicate these?” Chyzu asks, walking beside me.
“No… but something simple that can do a similar thing? Yeah, probably, now I just need to watch it in action to better understand the spell used.”
We arrive at the Shelled Aegis Ant boss, the sleek shell on the giant creature shining in the light of the crystal on the top of the staff held by Lotuna, a healing mage that came with us.
Shelled Aegis Ant (Grand), level 339 Body Perfector (Grand)
“Ant” is not a perfect descriptor but the similarities are close enough, and the translation from Runalymo is basically describing the appearance of an ant. This boss is tough and has great regenerative abilities as well as a healing essence Bond.
I start with my usual opening attack, my charged-up spears. Three clones dash forward with screaming spears to quickly burn out seventy percent of its vitality. Immediately following up, the group dashes into the room and starts attacking the Ant. Uloru swings her hammer, barely able to control the shrunken and extremely heavy weapon, breaking a leg in two as the sheer mass of the thing carries the impact through the tough armor of the monster. Next, Kadona thrusts her buster sword down at the boss from a high jump, piercing the chitin a few millimeters before Uloru slams her hammer down onto the sword, driving it clear through the boss and into the ground.
The impaled Ant struggles to move out of the way but is stuck. Despite its predicament, I see its vitality slowly rising. Esofy jabs her swords into the creature’s eyes and, with a clean movement, hacks off its antenna. The boss flails its legs to try and kick someone, not able to retaliate in any other way, then it raises its abdomen and sprays formic acid at Esofy, who dodges with a side step. Chyzu gets close and pierces the tough chitin with a powerful water jet; however, I do not see its vitality lowering from any attacks other than Kadona and Ulorus’ combo.
Minutes go by, and the Ant’s vitality has fully regenerated. The antennas are half regrown, formic acid eating through the floor from the monster’s desperate attacks and threatening to unpin it. Despite the healing, however, its exoskeleton is cracked and has holes in many places from our combined attacks. Uloru continually hammers the chitinous beast while Chyzu amputates the legs with water jets to prevent it from pushing itself off the ground.
The new party members, Lotuna, a healer and ice mage, pierces the eyes again with ice spears. Gojune has a rare speed essence Bond and a lightning mage class; she casts a speed buff on the fighters. Uloru swings her hammer faster to add to her already powerful hits with Gojune’s buff. Gojune is slowly roasting the monster with electricity, helping to combat its regeneration. Lastly is Vakelu, a defensive warrior with a shield almost as massive as Kadona’s sword, like a thick iron wall; she is our second vanguard to help take some heat off Jowaru.
Our vanguards are at the front of the boss to lure its bites and formic acid attacks. Lotuna has covered their shields in ice so they won’t be eaten away by the acid. And yet, despite all the attacks, the monster’s Vitality has risen overall.
With a final smash from Uloru, the beast’s shell breaks away to reveal another layer of the boss’s exoskeleton.
“Another layer?!” Irela complains, slamming a stake down onto the revealed armor with Uloru’s gravity assist, not doing nearly as much damage as Uloru herself, who then hammers the stake in. I watch as the metal infiltrates the innards of the monster and shoots spikes out in all directions inside the boss; a chunk of its vitality is burned out from its flesh being destroyed. The monster’s organs are pierced and wrecked one by one. Uloru flips her hammer around to its pick side and brings it down on the first layer, again and again, breaking off more and more of the destroyed exoskeleton.
It only takes a few more minutes for the monster to die, Irela’s metal infiltration dealing the bulk of the damage in the end.
Ting! Your party has killed a Shelled Aegis Ant (Grand), level 339 Body Perfector (Grand) extra experience has been rewarded for being under-leveled.
“That was a hard one to crack open, but you could say we had it pinned down,” Chyzu jokes, making a couple of awful puns.
I watch the floor boss’s room remotely, seeing a swirling cloud of mana surge into the room, all condensing into one location. There is something else in the mix, too, ectoplasm and… something else, similar to ectoplasm but clearly different. I watch with my state of focus active, seeing the soul stuff condense and take form, an empty soul shell that draws in more of the ectoplasm and soul stuff until nothing is left outside of it. Seconds later, growing in the soul are the organoids, the soul components. Finally, I realize what the soul stuff is; it’s raw soul matter… or energy – whatever it is – and I’ve just witnessed the birth of a soul.
The mana condenses even further until all of it vanishes out of existence and, forming in the air as if crawling out of a hole in space-time, a monster emerges, a newborn monster with soul and all, born from pure magic.
Ting! Sense Soul has met the requirements for a breakthrough and will continue leveling past level 110!
10th Breakthrough: You have seen raw soul; this will help you study the strange thing we call soul.
11th Breakthrough: you have witnessed a soul being born; this will help you understand the process of life and death.
Ting! Sense Soul has obtained levels 101-105!
Ting! Sense Mana has obtained levels 267-270!
Got you! I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever get a chance to observe monster spawning, now I just need to put in the time to practice my skill levels. I have a lot of skills I need to work on, so maybe after my class evolution I’ll spend a few months just leveling my skills. I should also try out Kayafe’s ideas of ’test’ levels; I certainly could use more practice with my skills to better understand all their nuances, actual levels aside.
I [Analyze] the newborn monster. It is a crystalline Ant with pointy crystals jutting from its back. However, I notice its vast mana reserves and incredible mana generation; it must be generating at least two hundred thousand mana per hour, maybe even more, all pouring into a reserve that is probably in the low millions.
Mana Devouring Ant (Heroic) Tides of Mana (Heroic)
I want it. I want to get its materials. Just what kind of monstrosity can I make from this?
“Alysara? Alysara?!” Chyzu is waving her hand in front of my face.
“Huh? Oh, I was just scouting the floor boss.”
“How strong is it?” Esofy asks cautiously.
“Both class and race are Heroic. Can you see what level it is?” My heart quickens, my desire for the potentially powerful materials clashing with my rational cautiousness.
“…Four hundred fifty, rounding up,” Esofy says after a minute.
“We struggle with Grand-tiers, as a party no less, even you can’t kill some of them Aly. Not only is it a higher level, it’s also at least twice as strong as a Grand-tier of its equivalent level,” Chyzu says with a clear warning in her voice, seeming to read my mind.
“I know, but I at least want to try,” I sigh.
“No, Aly. Your parents won’t ever let me off if I let something happen to you,” Esofy says with a stern look.
I sigh again in resignation.
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