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The New World Chapter 237

Walking into Elderfire, the city changed since I last left. Stepping through the forested walkways, the density of plantlife dropped off some. A few of the gialgathens channeled some kind of mana, bending nature into homes for them.

Trees gnarled into rooftops, giving the people here homes walled off by twisting branches and thick bushes. The beginnings of walkways formed throughout the city, foot traffic creating these pathways of convenience. Beyond the basics, the mentality of the town shifted outside of that.

The gialgathens stood straighter, walked faster, and moved with purpose. A liveliness infected them, and it spread out like a disease of joy. I enjoyed it. The difference between the drab, hopelessness of before acted as a nice contrast. Even with only one victory, people believed in our cause all of a sudden.

Too sudden, in fact.

The monster's mentality towards me changed as well. Instead of a dirtwalker, the gialgathens treated me with reverence. It unsettled me some, the difference staggering as night and day. I rolled with it, waving at bystanders as they bowed to me.

That's right, bowing. After pacing through the jungled city with our Sentinel, I paced out into the heart of Elderfire - the pillar supporting the blue core. Around it, the runes glowed white. Beyond the inscriptions, an installment of metal situated itself in the middle of ancient stone.

It was Schema's entourage. 

Several speakers situated themselves in kiosks of metal, open for anyone to walk by. These kiosks offered several services. They gave the citizens a general supply store to exchange credits for material goods. A bounty board acted as a questing panel. A little warp drive even situated itself between two Sentinels sent here to guard the area.

I scratched the side of my head,

"How did they show up so fast?"

Our Sentinel gestured to everything with his spear, "Schema marvels at efficiency, and his guilds embody that."

I looked between the Sentinels and our Sentinel.

"What should we call you? Sentinel will start to become confusing soon."

The Sentinel shrugged, "It doesn't matter. We have no names."

I pointed at the two spears on his back, "You've got more of those than normal right? How about we just call you Spear?"

Our Sentinel stared at his dimensional slicer, "Hm...I like that. You may call me Spear."

I put my hands on my hips, "Alright then Spear, where's Torix?"

"In the temple where you left him last."

"I'll see you then. You can just...I don't know, stand around, I guess?"

"I will meditate on our actions."

Spear sat down right there, crossing his legs and leaning down. Transforming into a statue before my very eyes, he entered a deep state of tranquility. I left him there in Elderfire's courtyard while recharging the mana in the runes and blue core. After finishing that up in a minute or so, I jumped towards the tallest temple jutting over the jungle.

Coming up to it, I paced through the corridors, remembering where Torix was last. As I did, I inspected my status in case something shifted after the battle. Some stuff had.

New skill created! The unknown skill Orbital Bombardment! Being the first sentient to create this skill grants you a bonus of 500 skillpoints. Use them wisely!

Orbital Bombardment(lvl 10) - You rain down desolation from above, a meteoric bringer of extinction. Grants additional speed, impact dispersal, and heat resistance when executing an orbital strike.

Alright, it was official - Schema stole the name I used for the skill.

Title gained: The Cleanser of Polydra,

+250 to level cap | Current Cap: 10,250

This was a nice little bonus for my efforts. It also let me know I wasn't wanted for taking out some of Polydra's residents. I bit my lip remembering that, but I moved onto my status. After putting my points into constitution, I inspected it closer.

Damn, I was heavy.

The Living Multiverse(Lvl 10,250 | Current Influence: The Rise of Eden)

Strength – 31,695 | Constitution – 45,135 | Endurance – 90,834

Dexterity – 16,240 | Willpower – 65,986 | Intelligence – 34,882

Charisma – 13,411 | Luck – 19,024 | Perception – 14,912

Health: 70.46 Million/70.46 Million | Health Regen: 472.8 Million/min or 7.88 Million/sec

Stamina: Infinite | Ambient Mana 3.57 Trillion

Mass: 4.63 Million Pounds(2.10 Million Kilos~)

Height: 13'4 (4.06 meters)

Damage Res - 99.05% | Dimensional Res - 100%

Phys Dam Bonus – 11.24 Million% | Damage Bonus – 40%

The Rise of Eden - enhances base stats by 30%, increased to 40% to allies within radius of aura.

The main stats moving now were my physical damage bonus and my general mass. That wasn't the end all be all, but they made the most significant shifts overall. Those dramatic shifts explained how I outmuscled Version 2.2. The Hybrid hadn't weakened. I had strengthened.

I welcomed the news, all the investments into constitution paying off. A large portion of the constitution bonus came from my cipher runes as well. My new evolution took well to the runic adjustments, making the attribute increases far faster. In fact, even without Schema's involvement, I improved quite a bit.

Even if he exiled me, it wouldn't matter from a personal strength standpoint.

Of course, I wouldn't go out of my way to make that happen. At the same time, it was kind of nice not having that threat hanging over my head like a noose. That weight of my chest explained why Schema kept me as an unknown for so long, however.

His control over me faded once I reached my level cap. I didn't need a class anymore. I'd be fine without it, though I still wanted one. Without a solid point to leverage me on, I could act as a rogue agent with far fewer consequences than most.

In a way, I could move outside the law.

I rolled my shoulders, knowing I didn't want to doublecross that all-knowing AI. Schema would make me pay for betraying him. Of this, I had no doubt. Besides, I had other reasons to fight on. With that in mind, I reached the temple's darkest depths. There I found a strange sight. Torix talked with a few enigmatta, the fish guys in pressurized suits. Their eyes glowing under dark, glass helmets, the enigmatta spoke through intercoms,

"We need more compensation."

Torix snapped back, "You'll get100,000 credits and no more. If you've come to gouge my moment of need, you're sorely mistaken. Pressed for time or not, I shall not take such an absurd deal regardless of the circumstances."

The enigmatta glanced at each other before shrugging. The one on the left replied, "We won't do it then."

Torix shoed them off while leaning over a few diagrams, "Then goodbye."

The other enigmatta raised its gangly arms, "Wait a minute, we'll do it."

I stepped up, towering over them like a metal golem,

"What's the problem here?"

They gawked up at me. One of enigmatta whispered,

"It's the Sunmaker."

I darted my gaze between both of them,

"Sunmaker? What?"

Torix cackled, "It's the title several news stations granted you after your performance at Polydra. Considering the eruption and the blot of light your orbital bombardment created, the name is fitting. It's suitably ominous and awe-inspiring as well."

Both of the enigmatta glanced down, unable to meet my eye, "We'll...We'll do it."

Torix steepled his fingers, "Excellent. You may both be excused."

They paced off, and I peered at them as they did. Turning back to Torix, I pointed back at them with a thumb, "Uh, what was wrong with those guys?"

"I televised your perspective during the battle of Polydra. Having seen it in person, few would be willing to deny your abilities thereafter."

I frowned, "How did you televise it?"

Torix turned towards me, raising his palms in his defense,

"I may have had to implant a program using John Mcsmitty's help."

I narrowed my eyes, "Why didn't you tell me?" 

"There were three compelling reasons. The first and foremost being this; at times, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. The second reason was more ethically sound. I didn't want you thinking of your viewers as you fought. You're best when executing on a purely practical front."

Torix waved a hand, "The other reason involved distracting you during the battle. I didn't want you to be nervous during your fight either. I was in full control of when to stream your PoV the entire time. I limited it to the carnage alone."

I crossed my arms, "You can trust me with that kind of thing. You don't have to lie to me either. I can handle it."

"But of course, and I wasn't questioning your ability either. Even more so, I don't enjoy lying to you, though this was more so restricting the truth than lying per se. That being said, I had every intention of informing you as soon as you arrived. The effect I desired already manifested, after all."

I remembered the weird reverence everybody gave me. I facepalmed, "Wait a minute, that's why everybody was acting weird."

"Precisely. The stream built hope, motivation, and respect all at once. It even served as a potent deterrent to would-be enemies as well. I brainstormed the idea with one of my associates after that fiasco with televising our battle with Yawm. I figured that if videos acted against us at times, they could also act for us in other instances."

Torix waved his hands, "So if our enemies present us in a dim light, I simply exposed us during our best moment. It's standard practice for larger guilds. Considering the splash you made in Polydra, we'll need to incorporate even more policies in the future."

I raised my eyebrows, "Ah, you're using my style of fighting for good PR. I...I can understand that I suppose." I pointed at Torix, "If you make a habit of this, I won't be able to trust you though. Remember that."

Torix met my eye, "I am well aware, and I will be measured in these instances, I assure you. Your trust is valued, and I will not abuse it."

"As long as you understand that, we're good."

Torix clapped his hands once, "Now, with that out of the way, let's begin discussing our next assault."

I raised an eyebrow, "Where is it?"

"It's the hometown of Eradin Forest Torch, Astelle."

After a bit of mental searching, I remembered who he was talking about,

"Ah, that's the old gialgathen I fought from the tournament. He beat his son and everything. He was alright."

Torix nodded, "Indeed, he was. Now, Astelle is a stronghold for the gialgathens. Our goal will be less saving them from the invasion and more so mobilizing their forces here. This group of soldiers should enhance the sheer numbers we've garnered."

We discussed some of the details, along with a time frame for the attack. It would take about three days to organize everything, so I had some time to kill. After finishing the debriefing, I trecked over towards the medical center of Elderfire. 

Within a pool of soothing, warm water, many of the gialgathens restored themselves. Natural wisps floated around many of the hybridizing gialgathens. They kept the wounded in a semis-stasis. It let them live until now. As I paced up, Kessiah worked with vigor. I raised an eyebrow,

"You're working already?"

She bit into her thumb and spit out a clump of skin.

"After a big battle like this, a healer is the busiest. It's like Saturday night at a bar but a lot less fun."

I sat a ways from her and drained the gunk from one of the gialgathens. One of the wisps floated up to me. It shivered after a moment, darting away. I frowned at it while Kessiah shook her head,

"You can't expect them to do anything else. You're intimidating."

I frowned, "Huh...What are these little guys anyway?"

"They're spirits summoned by the sages and mages the gialgathens have. They connect with Giess and use the natural mana flows to sustain the wounded. They defy nature for them as a gift for the gialgathens summoning them here."

Kessiah reached up a finger, and a wisp floated onto her hand, 

"They like it here. I guess they think the material plane is cozy."

The wisp hovered away as Kessiah got back to work. After clearing up the hybridizing Polydrians, I went back to the temple. With three days left before my next attack, I worked on the next portion of Torix's armor. It required a new grimoire before I could begin, however.

With that in mind, I shifted to the Rise of Eden. Wielding quintessence, I carved a series of runic markings onto the floor. As appropriate, I added portions of the cipher into the formula. Each runic piece increased in complexity until I reached the center.

The most strenuous pieces of the liturgy involved the center fragment. It required a dual-layered portion of the cipher using techniques I learned from the prison beneath Polydra. Once finished, I placed a hand onto the central tablet. After an hour of channeling, the configuration coalesced into a blight of mana.

The whitened ball shifted into a series of pages. As it did, the entirety of Elderfire shook beneath my feet. Even while containing the mana, the sheer volume created a seismic event, the energy dispersing like waves of a storm. Once wholly composed, a strange booklet plopped into my hands.

The black tome weighed at least a half-ton, the structure of it beyond my previous book. It carried a bendable stone on the surface of each page. As I turned them, they bent with ease in my hand despite their unusual, rocky texture. The thickness of the pages proved deceptive too. Wondering what was inside of one, I tore the first page. Like white mercury, a milky metal seeped out of the edge. I inspected closer, finding molten gunk flowing within the pages. This pool of liquid traveled from the dense spine of the grimoire. The design of it defied convention, but I trusted Torix's judgment, my runic skills, and most importantly, the amount of mana I poured into this damn thing.

It was too big to fail...probably.

Using the grimoire for the first time, etched into it using heated points of telekinetic contact. As I went through my work, the stone functioned well. It needed just the right amount of heat, making it easy to write in but hard to mess up with a careless stroke. At the same time, the metal beneath served many purposes.

It acted as a connection point between pages. I figured this out once I began work on the second page. Instead of needing some runic markings to ensure continuity between pages, the metal handled that for me. It saved me plenty of time as I went through the complex configurations.

As I continued, the merits of the new design unveiled themselves to me. The metal augmented my mana conversion, making the cipher require less mana. It was like conducting electricity through copper instead of wood. The white mercury transferred the mana between pages with a simple thought as well. This let me mix and match various runes without needing to plaster them together.

Hell, the metal even let me implement the whole dual layering technique I learned earlier. With a mental snap of my fingers, I could make two pages act like they were the same surface. That let me contextualize some of the more nuanced passages involved.

All that to say, it was pretty metal.

Awful puns aside, I finished plenty of runic markings for Torix's armor by daylight. Using this new grimoire felt like I found a missing piece to a puzzle. Everything came together in a rush right after seeing it. Considering my time constraints, I appreciated good luck.

With the markings finished, I channeled my excess mana into the grimoire, holding it at my side. With Torix busy and no one else to talk to, my mind wandered for a bit. I dwelled on Polydra's fate, scorching in hellfire and brimstone. A building well of guilt swelled in my chest before I grew lonely.

The odd sensation refused to leave, so I looked through my contacts. I called Althea, hoping she could answer. I missed her, and talking for a bit would do me some good. Even I needed some rest and relaxation sometimes. With that in mind, I sat on the edge of my seat, waiting for her to answer.

Three rings in, I gave up. As I hovered my hand over the exit command, Althea answered. I lit up, a smile spread over my face as her far more beautiful face popped up. Of course, it hadn't been nearly as long for her, but the mythical compendium made it feel like forever for me.

She carried a few more scars than before, but she was the same woman I remembered. As I glanced closer, I found that wasn't exactly true. A hardness formed in her eyes, the kind you get from seeing things that shouldn't be seen. Even more so, she had the same exhaustion on her face that plagued Kessiah. While Kessiah's motivation was to prove herself, Althea's seemed more profound, like an ocean compared to a pool.

Exacerbating this change was the fact I hadn't seen her in months. From that distance and time, a sort of coldness formed between us. To break the ice, I scratched the back of my head, 

"Looks like you've been busy."

She gave me a small smile, "You have been too...I saw you fighting in Polydra. It was brutal and awe-inspiring as always."

I looked down, a bit embarrassed for some reason, "Ah, I was just raising hell like normal..."

A silence came over us. It wasn't the kind of comfortable calm that passes over two familiar friends, however. It was a heavy quiet, the kind were other noises grew in volume until they rang in your ears. Before that silence altered into a canceled call, I turned a hand to Althea,

"So, I was wondering how you've been?"

She blinked, looking for the right words to say, 

"Hm...I've been doing good, I guess. I've been grinding the war effort from an espionage front. It's been...hard. I learned a lot. Like, a lot. It's also been eye-opening, to say the least."

She stared into an abyss. Her eyes reminded me of the underbelly of the dreadnoughts, the gialgathens hung up like produce. She must have seen something similar. I shook off the heaviness, pushing through,

"Damn, that sounds hard. I know I've been letting Torix handle most of the logistical work involved with this new, er, war I guess. It's made my situation a lot easier. He points in a direction, and I smash. It suits me perfectly."

Althea laughed, "Hah, it does. It sounds like you've got it under control over there."

I nodded, "For the most part, though I've been aching recently."

Althea raised an eyebrow, "Wait a minute, you have aches?"

I placed a hand over my chest, glancing up, "It's a broken heart."

Even I hurt from that one. My cheesy line had the intended effect as Althea giggled a bit before rolling her eyes, 

"A broken heart from what?"

"Not seeing you of course," I said with finality.

"Really now? Hm...I might have been missing you a bit too, I suppose."

I leaned towards her screen, "Yeah...me too."

We stared at each other for a second, both of us glad we still cared for one another. The moment passed as I took a deep breath, "Whoo, I didn't want to say it, but I was kind of nervous about, uhm, us."

She nodded, "Oh, I was too. It just felt awkward at first, didn't it?"

"Yeah, it was like we didn't know each other."

My words left my mouth with more weight than I wanted. I glanced at Althea, and she glanced at me. She frowned, "It does kind of feel like that sometimes, doesn't it?"

"Yeah..."

She shook her head, "I'm sorry I haven't been messaging you more or calling. I've been so busy with this new effort I've been undertaking. It's hard to juggle everything all at once, and some stuff fell to the wayside. I'm sorry our relationship got caught up in that."

I nodded, "Yeah, I've got about fifty projects I'm working on right now. It's so much I forget some of it sometimes. To be fair, I've been like this since Schema's system washed over Earth. Something about it unlocked some hidden workhorse in me."

She tilted her head, "Wait a minute...You weren't always like this?"

I scoffed, "Hell no." I waved my hand, "I was...I don't know, lost, I guess? I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I had no direction, and that made me end up coasting. Well, outside of boxing. That kept me out of trouble."

I frowned, "I don't know who I would be without that passion keeping me afloat." I met Althea's eye, "Speaking of passion, I was, uh, wondering what made you want to put out like this on Giess?" 

I raised my palms as she raised her eyebrows, "Not to criticize or anything. Do what you got to do. I get that."

She laughed, "I knew when I got with you that you were blunt, Daniel. You don't have to apologize for it. I find it refreshing, actually. Anyways, your question...hmmm..."

She pursed her lips, "If I had to guess, it would be how much it reminds me of Alice. This whole situation that is."

I narrowed my eyes, "Who's Alice?"

"She's a friend from my childhood. She was one of Yawm's lab rats, just like me. We were friends, and we played together all the time." Althea's eyes went distant,

"It was...I don't know how to describe it...haunting. I saw several children being indoctrinated by some of the rebels. One of their psionics was tampering with its mind. An espen child resisted, but she was too small and too weak. She was crying and..."

Althea's composure cracked, but she stayed resolute in her words,

"Seeing the kid crumble like that. I don't know. It reminded me of myself. I was that little girl, crying in the face of some monster that I couldn't understand. Everything around me was chaos and scary and lonely. I couldn't take it. I bottled it up inside and pushed it down. I was numb."

She shook her head, her voice cracking a bit, "And I saw that kid doing the same thing. I don't know, but something in me snapped after I saw that. I promised to stop Tohtella and everyone involved in this or die trying."

Thinking of the Hybrids, I nodded,

"I can understand that feeling."

Althea wiped away a tear, composing herself. As she did, I thought about what she said. The fact I didn't know she had this happen to her hurt a bit. This happened a while ago, and I wasn't there to help.

I gained some solace since she trusted me enough to tell me about it. Besides, maybe she wasn't ready to tell anyone until now. I couldn't know, and I had no intentions of asking. I reached out a hand to the screen, 

"I'm sorry...Are you, er, ok?"

She giggled again, wiping her eyes, "You're terrible at this, you know that?"

I swallowed a bit of sadness, smiling at her instead, "Yeah...I know."

She smiled back, "I appreciate it, though. I really do."

We stayed there for a moment. A loud crack leaked out from Althea's screen as her eyes widened. She turned towards an unseen exit,

"I got to go." She turned back, "Hey...thanks for the call. It means a lot."

I grinned at her, "I enjoyed it too. Go kick some ass."

She gave me a confident smirk as she closed her screen. With it out of my way, I peered out an opening in the temple's wall. Revealing the forest city of Elderfire, the trees blurred under the heat of the desert sun. I spent a minute thinking about all that was happening.

This war was changing us. Whether for better or worse, I couldn't tell. It did carry a sting that the conflict with Yawm didn't have. Before now, all I expected from myself was survival. In fact, that was all I could've hoped for against Yawm or Baldag-Ruhl.

This situation was different. I wanted more and falling short grated me. After all, I had a history of succeeding in spite of terrible circumstances. That pressure mounted in the back of my mind. I did well enough for now, but I had a feeling this conflict wasn't going to end without a mess.

Either way, I did what I could.

With that in mind, I got back to something I was actually good at, which was making Torix's armor. The rune's charging finished a few minutes later as I planned out some of the placements. I put them along the surface of the blackened bones, keeping them in view. That finished the essential runic layering. 

After looking it over, I scoped out a few more dual-layered rune sites. Torix's new body carried hollow bones, and that would allow me to use these techniques. With that insight, I created a few nuanced inscriptions for the guy.

They involved a few specific augments. The first revolved around Torix's charisma and presence. Ever since Torix's body was destroyed, some people looked down on the guy. That pissed me off, and I aimed to rectify that bullshit.

So, I went about creating an intimidating aura for this new body. I used Event Horizon as a reference, putting the choking, constricting nature of it on full display. At the same time, control over that influence was essential. I used the second layer of the runes to give that ability. It was like adding a parenthesis after a confusing passage. It contextualized an easily misunderstood remark.

With the presence of the body finished, I plotted out a few enchantments for mental magic. While not the most well versed, I could give the guy some charms for help. I moved on to the mana shield augments after that since Torix relied on them for his durability.

I understood little about them, but I didn't need to know much. Instead of enhancing the shield itself, I created connections for stored mana to power said shields. This would make the next portion of my armor building far more powerful.

I placed my hands onto the bones, shifting my being to one of dominion. With the oppressive, commanding mana saturating me, I channeled mana into the hollowed bones. Crystallized dominion filled the hollows, nigh weightless yet carrying tremendous energy. As I channeled this mana, I worked on the last aspect of my inscriptions.

This last part was a simple idea I had. Torix's mind would be in this thing, so making it easy for him to acclimatize to it seemed like a smart idea. At least I thought so. Guided by that intention, I went about creating an inscription describing Torix.

It wasn't too hard. I kept it simple, concise, but complete. Torix was a mastermind, a willful, dedicated summoner who absorbed himself with his goals. His work ethic was unquestionable, and he kept himself diligently devoted to his crafts of choice.

No matter what anyone else believed about the guy, he carried absolute respect in my eyes. His tactical and strategic abilities would create an enormous impact on any battlefield, regardless of the circumstance. At the same time, he carried a remarkable enthusiasm for education and learning.

He wasn't someone who held his secrets and harbored them selfishly. He shared his knowledge with great fervor. He wanted to enlighten all that he could as if he was offering light in darkness. At the same time, he familiarized himself with that darkness. In that vein, Torix never shied away from the messy, dirty aspects of life. He thrived on them, death being a concept he cozied up to long ago. 

That's who Torix was in my eyes, a warlord worthy of respect. As I finished the markings, it mirrored the mural I made about myself. It was more concise and less detailed, however. Considering my time constraints, it was about as much as I could expect from myself.

By the time I charged those runes and placed them, three days passed and the body was finished. I checked it out, analyzing my finished project. It was my best work so far.

A Nightmare, Manifested(Lvl Requirement: None, Requires Mental Affinity | Type: Body) - This creation is a product of the efforts of a multiverse given sentience. Given the nature of the materials used, this artifact is utterly unique, carrying characteristics that defy convention.

As an opening mention, this body is durable. This word fails to adequately describe the sheer tenacity it holds. In all sense of the word, it is nigh unbreakable, a constant fixture created without an intended expiration date. If given any kind of care, this body will last forever.

This invincibility isn't the only characteristic this creation carries. Wielding many advanced inscriptions, it augments the wielder's mind in many ways. It creates barriers from entry, but it also allows for a greater field of influence in whoever manages to wield this structure.

This, in combination with a medley of physical augments, and this body is invaluable to many species or necromantic practitioners.  

Bonuses(Unstackable with similar bonuses):

+500,000 Maximum Health, +500,000 Maximum Mana,  +500,000 Maximum Stamina, +100,000 health regen(per min), 100,000 mana regen(per min), 100,000 stamina regen(per min)

+ 10,000% physical damage, +5% to total damage, + 10,000 pounds of mass(4,536 Kilograms), + 2.5% to damage resistance cap, +25% to potency of dominion mana, Innate Mana Shield (10,000,000/10,000,000), + 25% to impact of influence oriented skills, +1% to mental resistance cap

+2,500 to Endurance and Willpower

+1,500 to Constitution, Strength, and Intelligence

+500 to all other stats

The sheer size of the enhancements floored anything I'd made before this. It even raised the resistance cap of anyone using this, which kind of defied Schema's general conventions. Either way, I lifted the body for a moment, the nine-foot-tall structure sizeable and imposing. It even carried some Torix's dramatic flair, the crown of thorns a nice touch.

I carried it with me, walking over towards Torix's new lair. As I walked into the crowded room, Torix stayed intent on his work. He dived into it with an intensity rivaling a deep hatred. I knocked on the edge of the room,

"Hey, Torix, how's the planning coming along?"

He kept his gaze down over a few charts,

"Excellent. I've devised a few of the weaker points in their offensive, and three cities in particular lined up well with a few projected attacks. I intend on scouting their responses with a few false attacks, however. I am confident they'll be better prepared this time."

He lifted his head, finishing his work with a final stroke of a feather pen,

"And so shall we."

He turned towards me before his old jaw went slack. Without a word, he lifted his hands at the body I made. He fumbled out his words,

"I...It...Is that...What?"

I gestured to the item, "I call it: A Nightmare, Manifested. What do you think?"

"It's...Well, I would sum it up in...the words escape me...it's..."

He walked over and gave me a hug,

"Thank you...Thank you so much."

A bit embarrassed, I scratched my cheek, "Uh, thanks...Glad you like it."

I set the body down so Torix could inspect it further. After a few minutes, he turned to me, 

"It far exceeds any expectations I carried for it. You've outdone yourself, truly."

I lifted up my chest, "Well, I enjoy crafting stuff. It was a fun distraction from all the fighting."

Torix scoffed, "So this is a fun distraction? I'd hate to see a concerted effort then. I might feel impotent by comparison." 

Torix flicked one of the metallic bones, the tip of his finger snapping off from the impact. He cackled with glee,

"I'd be furious given a different context, but for now, I'll settle with being overjoyed." 

Torix turned back to me while brushing off his robe, "Ah, my childish giddiness aside, are you ready for the battle?"

"Always."

Torix peered at the body for a moment, "Yes, as we should be."

I peered between the body and Torix, 

"Hm...you know we can get you in that before we leave?"

"I understand, but delaying our plans for my personal satisfaction doesn't suit me. Besides, we've plenty of time for the necromantic transition after this next battle. I'll need some time to craft another phylactery and ritual site regardless."

I crossed my arms, "If you say so. When do we head out?"

"Within the next few hours."

I gave him a curt nod, "Alright, good. Anything you need in the meantime?"

Torix raised a finger, "Perhaps you could take a quick voyage to our base on Mt. Verner? Planting a blue core over our home for security would put us at ease for the time being."

"Ah, that's a good idea. It'll be nice seeing Earth after so long."

"Excellent. It will be good for you to see the progress of our base."

After finishing up a bit of discussion, I walked back towards the center of Elderfire. After a quick conversation with the receptionist, I set up travel back to Earth via warp drive. Once on the ringing, sterile teleporter pad, a bit of nervousness rang up my spine.

Leaving Hod and Amara there might not have been the best idea. From Torix's estimations, I didn't need to step in. That didn't guarantee an absence of craziness, however. Knowing there might be some surprises, I closed my eyes as electric pulsing pounded in my ears.

I mean, how bad could it be?


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