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10 mos ago
Current There's a nip in the air. Cold won't be good for my crotch. Never is. (Wait a minute...)


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Ash, Oberon, Reoth, Torrent

Minor Heal III (3.0)
Lesser Flight II (2.6)
Shield IV (4.006125)
Magic Analysis IV (4.1875)
Mana Orb II (2.525)
Mana Shape II (2.7)
Lesser Status Heal (1.2)
Mana Dart I (1.5)
Alert I (1.55)
Monster Analysis II (2.45)
Meditation III (3.02625)
Light Ring I (1.25)
Gather Light I (1.65)
Fireball I (1.5)
Plant Analysis I (1.0)
Material Analysis I (1.0)
Sacred Ground I (1.0)
Mana Slice I (1.0)
Overwork I (1.75)
Keen Sight (1.05)
Minor Heal All I (1.0)
Spiritual Awareness I (1.0)
Minor Regeneration I (1.0)
Spell Chant I (1.1)
Focus I (1.0)
Mental Resistance (0.9)
Wall (0.1)
Faster (0.4)
Charisma (0.9)
Light Affinity (0.8)
Fire Resistance (0.2)
Spell Cancel (0.1)
Mana Puppet (0.5)

Ash would find that, though the depletion of her Stamina from earlier made it somewhat more tiring to exercise (even compared to her former life, where as a scientist she likely hadn't been fond of physical exertion), she was beginning to get a feel for her scorpion-like tail in this evolved form. As a Fanged Lizard her tail hadn't been that long, and had been positioned differently. This one still felt rather stiff, but for the basic up-and-down curling motion it seemed well suited. The stinger wasn't as flexible as the rest of the limb, however--it felt more like a long fingernail than a finger. Still, some results were better than nothing. [[Free to interact with Reoth and co. in between updates, points are adding up in the background but as of yet there wasn't a big breakthrough.]]


You used Plant Analysis I! You used Magic Analysis I!
---Green Argep---
A sweet fruit that some would describe as a berry, since it is smaller and grows in bunches. Green Argeps are not ripe and the body of the fruit has not fully developed; it has a bitter, acidic taste that will turn sweet later on. The leaves of the Argep bush are sometimes used to brew tea and the fruit itself can be fermented even when unripe. It has no real magical properties that you can discern.
---Blessed White Yill Flower---
The White Yill is a species of yill flower, a common variety of blooming flowers that grow in many habitats. While often considered pleasing to look at, it doesn't have much use. It is perennial, and its seeds ripen towards the end of summer. It normally has no magical properties to speak of, but does have a higher capacity than other plants to absorb mana. Thus it can easily be made to conduct mana or take on magic properties, so Yill flowers sometimes change into other Magical Plants depending on their environments. This one has been Blessed. It may ward against misfortune or provide needed guidance to those in need of forgiveness.
---Analysis Complete!---

Digbie's analysis skills weren't very high rank yet, so they didn't tell him much. The Pixie that had been observing him now flew off into the forest, either to get away from a potential predator or simply to do its own thing. It had stopped to listen for a moment when Digbie spoke, but whether or not it really understood him was anyone's guess. His Earth Vein ability had fully restored his MP after several minutes--it seemed sitting down helped, as more of his body was in contact with the ground. Still, Rock Spire could only be cast three times before he ran out of MP at his current level--would he continue to use it to leave himself a trail to follow back, or was there a better way?

Following the mole run, Digbie would soon come to the edge of the woods. From here, the trees had thinned almost to nothing and the brushy forest floor gave way completely to rocks and packed earth. Before him, the slopes of the mountain rose to crags and cracked ledges--and he could see great mounds of dirt where the last vestiges of that avalanche had finally settled. The mole's tunnel went towards a break in the rocks, however--a narrow series of slopes, perhaps where some kind of wild goat or other skilled climber made its way up the walls where other creatures would have to find another way. Digbie could see a tall cleft between two great rocks...but nothing within it save darkness. Did he dare risk squeezing into such a space with no idea what might await him? Did he dare venture up into the mountains among that loose gravel? Did he dare leave the cover of the trees and expose himself to whatever other creatures might be lurking about?

Only he could decide.

Ardur, Asura, Momma Slime

Though he lost another chunk of HP to the drain, Asura Smashed into the Zombie Rat's head from behind. The undead rodent seemed pretty sturdy--certainly more so than a normal Dire Rat--but Asura had gotten stronger compared to his first battles in the cave. He managed to drive the creature's skull into the dirt, cracking it open like a melon. The rat spasmed once, then went still.

Developing Skill: Focus (0.2)

Ardur stomped the helpless Zombie Pixie to a pulp, then seemed dazed for a moment as the talking sword saved them. When Asura applied a healing herb to his arm, some of the pain simply radiating through him seemed to subside--but he hadn't eaten the Herb, and thus it didn't seem he was getting the full effect from it yet. If he did so, however, it would fully restore his HP as told by the System. Regardless, he listened to both Asura and the sword and took flight. On his way over the pool, he reached out to try and grab the sword--but an invisible force pushed him back and urged him on his way.

"You have no Mana, and though you are strong I am not a weapon you can wield. Go." spoke that soft voice. "But...if you must return...bring a Hero with you!"

Momma Slime whopped another Skeleblin head over heels, then bundled herself up into a tight ball and rolled quickly after the others. Behind them, bones rattled angrily and a few Mana Orbs shot overhead, missing them by a fair margin. But the pursuit of the undead didn't last long. The sword rose up above the pool, and floated under its own power much like a Wisp. Though it didn't summon any more waves, a thin stream of water wrapped around its edges before it spun in place. As if an invisble hand held it, the blade lashed out, and the water followed along its trail like a whip. In one long arc, it sliced a Skeleblin and a Zombie Pixie in two--the skeleton at the base of its spine, and the Pixie right below the shoulders. The Undead drew back, wary of this more powerful opponent, and the sword began to sink back into the water. It stopped before the tip of its blade could disappear beneath the surface...but every time a monster dared to approach or try to pursue, the sword rose up a little higher. When they retreated, so too did it delve deeper. An uneasy standoff bought Asura, Ardur, and Momma Slime enough time to head towards the exit...

Asteria, Ed, Mother Rat

As the Rat Party elected to ignore the tracks and continue moving south, even choosing to ignore the various flowers and plants they had found, they found their path unimpeded for some time. Moving through the grassy plains for Asteria and Mother Rat was an experience akin to pushing their way through the Amazon Jungle--these stalks of grass blocked their vision entirely, and the way forward could only be found by ducking under or squeezing between the various shades of greenery. For Ed it was a little easier, but as he tried to follow the lead of the other two and keep himself unseen, he too was quite limited in his perception of their true surroundings. Only the walls of vegetation in front of them could be seen.

Asteria could feel her Mana slowly returning, however her Mana Drain seemed less and less effective the more she split her focus between searching for danger and finding an effective route across the terrain. At the same time, trying to keep her Mana Drain active meant she didn't have her fullest focus on paying attention to their surroundings--maybe that was why she only felt an Alert at the very last moment.

From under their very feet a large, reddish body burst out of the earth, tossing dirt and pebbles about! It slammed into Mother Rat from the underside, knocking her over into the grass--its snapping mandibles and flailing legs immediately reminded the other two rats of that eternal pest from their own world, the fire ant. But this one was easily as tall as the Dire Rats, and twice as long. As it pulled itself from the ground, lunging at Mother Rat, the bulbous stinger at the end of its body twitched...!


Danny settled onto a ledge just over the cave's entrance, giving him a clear view at the back of anything that might come through the "doorway" from above. He made the decisions regarding his skill points, then settled down to rest as he pondered his evolution.

"I'm going with the Poltergeist."

As soon as he spoke the words, sleep fell on him like a physical blow. No one else saw the little Wisp hiding among the nooks and crannies as he fell unconscious. But Danny...Danny could see EVERYTHING.

Not in crystal clarity, of course. But he drifted upwards, out of his body, rising high enough that he could look out across the cave. He could see the pool where Asura, Ardur, and Momma Slime fled the undead hordes the core was gathering, and the strange floating sword that fought those same hordes. He could see the Core itself, nestled inside Jason's Cave in the enormous Source Crystal--the green surface which had now become spiderwebbed by pulsing lines of blood red. In the distance, he could even see...something misty white, taking the form of a spherical creature with a pointy, almost hat-like projection atop it. It almost looked like Jason.

He suddenly felt the Core pulling at him, like a strong ocean current. But this was not the same pull Jason must have felt--this was the inevitable slide of the fish down the whale's gaping maw. This was the pull of annihalation. The only, instinctual, deeply driven response to this pull was to flee--and Danny was close to the exit of the cave. His spirit had only inches to go before he felt something give way, a barrier within the dungeon...

Now he saw a deep forest, and gently rising cliffs growing ever steeper until they became mountains to the immediate west. Down below him, atop the hill and rocky outcrops that formed the roof of the cave, he saw something shining...Steel. He saw steel, reflecting the glint of the sun. And wearing that steel, two humans--actual, living, real humans! They were crouched behind a large stone, one larger and one smaller, a child. Both carried weapons, and the adult wore full armor like a gallant knight. This one suddenly seemed to become aware of something, looking all around him...then right at Danny.

But he did not seem to see the Wisp, not truly. He kept looking about--like a person who knows something is there, but cannot see it.

Danny rose higher, drifting through clouds that stretched over the cave and further beyond, over curling smoke trails and unnaturally shaped structures of wood and stone that could only be civilization. Somewhere to the east, a large body of water sat glimmering with the last rays of the setting sun.

He rose higher. To the south, deserts and canyons, windstorms sweeping over the dunes. Further to the east, a bright light cutting a path to safety for those in need of guidance. Over the mountains, to the southwest, a grand city stretching for miles. Still in the west, but far further north, a tower like a mighty tree reaching up to the heavens with roots stretching deep, deep into the earth. So far to the east that it became west again, a lonely, cold, desolate island where red lightning split the sky. Further beyond that, marshlands and mountains and untamed, wild lands.

He rose higher. A world, a planet, rotated thousands of miles an hour, yet from this distance appeared as no more than a soap bubble, as if it would pop if he but brushed a fingertip against it. The city lured him, cried out for him. The island's red skies held him in sway.

Then he began to plummet earthward...


When Jason attempted to phase into the Dire Rat, it felt like trying to shove a fist through gelatin. But nonetheless his etheral body pushed through the flesh of the creature, leaving no wound and drawing no blood. When he deactivated the skill, however, both he and the rat were repelled from each other like powerful magnets of the same polarity. Jason, being an African Warlord, probably would not be familiar with the comparison--but such a sensation might be best described as "a Bethesda glitch IRL." He heard the rat screech in pain and saw its body writhing for a moment. Though there was still no blood, the creature moved in a drunken fashion that implied a severe blow to the head. It would take it some time to recover--but instead of chasing after it, Jason had another priority.

Trying to "sweep up" the remains of his former bile and ooze back into the membrane was...less than effective. He simply passed through the majority of the material, and what little he could "touch" would soon fall through him as well. Unlike a Wisp, he didn't seem to have the ability to physically move things yet. When he entered the deflated membrane of his own corpse, the sensation was different from entering the rat. Instead of pushing through jello, this was more akin to...pudding, perhaps. Or such a thing as "thick" water.

But as he tried to move his body again, to bind again the spirit and the flesh...nothing. No spark, no return to sensation, not even an error message from the System.


Oh, there it was.

The Dire Rat managed to get to its feet, shaking its head. Once more it turned its nose back towards the Core...If Jason hurried he might catch it, but did using more Stamina in this form mean using MP as well? Could he find more Lizard eggs or some other easier targets for soul-snacking here in the nesting area? Could he reach the exit of the cave before his MP ran out?

"Eating soul, same as eating flesh and bone! When yas eat meat, it stops bein' meat, but it don't stop BEIN'! An' whens ya die, or poop, everyting still dere! Aminals, Monstahs, Gobs and everyting else--moves like watah! Dries up, rains down, over and over! NOW EAT BEFORE YAS STOPS BEIN' YOU!"

Orchid's Tribe

You used Monster Analysis I!
---Hex Cat---
A cat of dark hues, with stiff fur atop its head that comes to a point. This fur, and the shape of its ears, give it the impression of wearing a witch's hat. It's known as an unlucky omen among most races.
---Analysis Complete!---

As Orchid shouted orders, Bigs lowered himself behind his shield and jabbed with his spear. He wasn't fast enough to hit the cat, but it had to stay light on its feet to dodge and couldn't find an opening to attack. Just as it landed after evading a thrust, a Fireball arched over Bigs from behind and came down on top of the creature--Crispy had timed it well, and the Rank II spell exploded like a small firework on impact. The Hex Cat yowled in pain as the flames consumed its furry body, and it hurled itself to the ground and began rolling--but now the grass around it was catching fire as well...

"I ain'ts a-scared!" Sqwal protested, lunging at the cat and swinging his club again. It easily dodged him, and its other eye started to glimmer as it raised one paw to bat him. But with a crackle of red energy at the tip of her weapon, Orchid shot forward and jabbed the cat hard in the side. It screeched and turned a side-flip in mid-air as she knocked it away, once more landing gingerly. It turned that eye on her now--and Orchid felt a sudden drowsiness come over her. Her limbs felt heavy--but it was only for a moment, then she seemed to be able to shake it off. In that moment of daze, however, the cat had lunged at Sqwal again. This time it ducked his club and pounced, putting its forefeet on his shoulders and driving him down. It was posed atop him, ready to tear out his throat with its teeth--

𝕬 𝖓 𝖙 𝖆 𝖊 𝖚 𝖘

Maeda's Cottage >> Antaeus's Home

"Ah, sure! Thanks, Mist--Kat!" Antaeus watched the Orc go, and for the first time realized the guy must not be a local. Had he come in with all those other out of towners who were looking for work? Maybe that was why he was heading for Barthen's--the storekeep was still offering coin for medicinal herbs, and Katalmach had mentioned something about gathering things. He turned back at first to watch Ms. Maeda work--but when she started stripping the silver haired girl he whirled right back around, his tanned face turning red. When the teacher told him to head on home, he nodded.

"O-okay. Thanks again, Ms. Maeda! When she comes to, if I haven't come back by in the morning just tell her where my house is!" He scratched the back of his head as he turned back around, though he made sure to keep his eyes on the ground. "If it weren't for her, I'd probably be dead. And I need to talk to her before I show the guard the proof of my hunt--I was on a quest and she ended up helping me, so if I don't share the credit it wouldn't be right..." He realized he was rambling, and clamped his mouth shut. "A-anyway, good night!"

Just as he was about to leave, he remembered one more thing. Quickly taking the odd folding knife from his pack--and holding it as if it were going to bite him--he placed it on a nearby table.

"Ah, that was hers! Tell her I'm sorry if I didn't get all the blood off!"

He hurried out, breathing a sigh of relief once he was in the cool night air. After double checking his pack, and the White Stag's horns, he headed for home. No doubt his mother and sister wouldn't appreciate the gory trophy, but if he wrapped it in an old blanket or something hopefully it wouldn't smell too badly by the next morning. And hopefully his father wouldn't be too angry with him for coming home so late...or quitting his job at the mines...

Antaeus's Home, Day 2

Antaeus was always a pretty early riser, but this morning his eyes popped open right away. The first thought in his head: I did it! I hunted the White Stag--with Katalmach and that girl's help, of course--and I did it! I've gotta show the Captains! And Barthen! Oh, and I guess I should take his trap back to him too, since I ended up not using it...

He sprang out of bed, did some squats and jumping jacks and pushups to get the blood flowing, then started throwing his clothes on and gathering his things. Without even stopping to eat breakfast he ran outside, eager to greet the day...


Hallway >> Cafeteria

"Oh nah, I don't need to go or anything. Was just thinkin'." Kenichi said. When Tomoe insisted she was fine, he nodded and gave her a thumbs up and a smile. "Course ya are! I told ya everything was alright, didn't I!"

If he was going to the Training Room, or even back to his dorm room for a workout, the bluette decided he might as well grab a bottle of water from a vending machine along the way. That presented a good opportunity to do something nice for Tomoe as well, now that he knew a little more about Hitomi and felt he had pieced together some of the issue.

"Here's an idea, why don't ya grab Hitomi-chan and Acion-kun some juice or somethin' and go back to 'em? I'm sure they're not mad at you, so y'all can make up with a toast or somethin'! C'mon, it'll be my treat!"

So saying, he started down another hall towards the cafeteria. Although if Tomoe had other ideas it wouldn't hurt his feelings any. After a short trip, he fished a couple of yen out of his pocket and started over the door--only to grab the doorframe before his foot came down on the wet floor. Ah, whoever was on after-school cleaning duty hadn't finished yet.

Kenichi looked around the dining area until he saw the boy with the bucket and mop and waved to get his attention.

"Yo! Sorry to intrude, man, just gettin' some drinks." He looked around at the rest of the cafeteria, wondering how long this fellow had been here. Must suck to have cleaning duty on a Friday afternoon. "You uh, need a hand with anythin'?"

Ash, Digbie, Mourningstar, Oberon, Reoth, Torrent

Digbie's Tremor Sense told him that the goblins were soon gone and away for real and true, leaving the group safe for the moment. If the greenskins could be trusted, this bought them another day at least from that particular hindrance.

The Earthy Magical Demiblin began to follow the little mole's trail he found, soon wandering further away from the stream. The Rubber Frog watched him go with a croak. Soon he was out of sight of the camp, though probably not out of shouting distance. As he left Rock Spires behind him to mark his path, however, he only managed to leave three of them before he felt that familiar emptiness in the pit of his being.

You have no MP remaining.

Stone-Hardened Variance boost! Mystic Variance boost!
Skill Rank Up: Rock Spire I > Rock Spire II! (1.5 > 2.1)
MP Cost increased. Number of Spires per spell increased to 3. Each spire does the same amount of damage and has the same range as before.

He still had his Earth Vein and Meditate skills, of course, but if he were out here all alone at some point recovering mana like that might be risky...

The molerun looked like it led around and to the west, with a slight southern bend. He wasn't going back towards the cave, but he also wasn't heading straight up the slopes of the mountains either...

In the distance, a Pixie seemed to be fluttering among the treetops. Right now it wasn't hostile, but it seemed to be eyeing Digbie warily...

Meanwhile, Oberon demonstrated his spells for Ash while she attempted to use her improvised vision-alteration again. As her eyes glowed softly Ash slowly began to see the shapes Oberon created in a different light. Rather than the semi-transparent, bright "energy," she now saw...static? Or something like it. Only occasionally would it flicker throughout the shape, and the aura around Oberon's hands as he manipulated his magic. And just like an old fashioned television, what she saw seemed to be made of thousands upon thousands of tiny squares.

It became especially notable, however, when Oberon created his cube for the second time and tried to refine the shape even further. Yes, there were numerous "squares" making up the entire shape--but at the vertices of Oberon's cube, several of these squares overlapped to make another cube. These shapes were so small that up until now, Ash had only caught glimpses of them. Even now, to see these "larger," compound squares took a significant effort, straining her eyes as if she were trying to see something far too small for the naked eyes. The last thing she saw, before she had to blink and lost her focus, was that the tiny cubes at the vertex of each Mana Shape were connected to each other, like points on a mathematical graph, by a line...except that line oscillated like a sinusoidal image, or an EKG, or a--

When she blinked, the image disappeared. Oberon, too, decided to stop showing off his magic and instead headed for the trees.

You are experiencing Fast Skill Progress.

As the Sprite made his way to the tree top, he basked in the sun and looked around for any sign of the Broken Tower Tribe's home. And sure enough he soon found it--however, it wasn't stretching into the sky above the trees. He only saw it when he looked down, in more detail at the lands immediately surrounding them. From their encampment there was the stream heading off to the east, and further north--along that path they decided not to take because of the growling probably-badger in its den--he soon began to see places where the forest had once been cleared. Old tree stumps lay within holes in the canopy, and the clear ground had regrown grass and low brush. But there were signs, here and there, of something else. Gravel that had once covered a path. Wooden poles that once held up shingles of fired clay. Whatever "tower" had been here had fallen long ago, scattering its debris among the forest and leaving only the sturdiest walls around its base standing.

Oberon couldn't see enough details from this distance and through the trees to know much more than that--there was a ruin of some kind over there, not as far from their camp as they were from Crispy's cave, but still quite the distance. His eyes hurt and teared up after only a few moments of looking, due to the strain of observing something so far away.

After this he sat down to recover his Mana, and with two skills applied towards the purpose this was soon accomplished. Then he began his latest experiment. When his orb was formed, trying to keep it from becoming the Light Ring spell as he channeled the element into it caused it to pulse and wriggle as if it were an egg about to hatch. As he began to chant, light around the orb grew bright--and then, without Oberon's bidding, two light rings formed around the orb's middle. But these didn't seem the same as the spell--they weren't as broad and didn't crackle with the same energy. They orbited the sphere like the rings of a planet. And with each line of his chant they grew brighter.

Lines like the spokes of a wheel began to pierce the rings from outside, reaching into the center of the empty space between the innermost ring and the orb. But they never touched the orb itself, only pointed at it like the needles of a compass while their other ends extended outwards like the rays of the sun.

After speaking of a vessel, two lines had appeared. Speaking of life, Oberon witnessed two more. Speaking of will, he saw the final two--all six spaced out with mathematic perfection. And as he poured more energy into it, the light grew brighter, and two new lines started to form as the rings began to spin, repositioning themselves to fit the new spokes--

Spell cast canceled due to lack of MP.
You have overdrawn your MP.
You are experiencing Mana Burn. Natural MP Recovery decreased by 50%. External MP Recovery decreased by 25%.
You have no MP Remaining.

Skill Gain: Spell Chant I!
Magic is the unison of Nature, Spirit, and Will. Language is the expression of Will. Using personalized language as an aid in manipulating one's energy is the first step to conceptualization and understanding of what Magic truly is. Using a previously existing Spell Skill as the Base, you may enact one (1) alteration of the spell's typical qualities. --You possess the skill Focus, which allows a spell to increase either its power or range in return for increased MP cost of 50% of its initial value and delayed casting time of 30 seconds.-- Spell Chants will also delay casting time by a default of 10 seconds, as any chant shorter than this will be ineffective. --Skill Synergy between this skill and Focus will allow you to alter Power/Range + One (1) other spell quality, which may include Power or Range a second time.-- The more complex the chant, the greater the alteration, but also the greater the increase to MP cost; by default the spell's cost is increased by a further 50% of its initial value.

Skill Gain: Focus I!
By spending at least 30 seconds focusing before using an offensive Skill or Spell, you can increase its damage. At this rank it is comparable to increasing the power by one rank (eg Mana Orb I to Mana Orb II) while also increasing the MP cost by half again (spend 1.5x Mana Orb I's cost).

The orb exploded, or perhaps the better term would be shattered. With a sound like intense microphone feedback and a splitting headache, as well as a sudden rush of fatigue, Oberon saw his spell dissipate into myriad sparks like a firecracker had gone off in his face. Other than that, there were no harmful effects of the failed spell...He had, at the least, been doing something, and had gained some skills from it.

Back down on the ground, while Reoth questioned Ash about her experiments Torrent followed Digbie for a few moments, then branched off to wander about the camp. The Rubber Frog further down the stream finally decided it had seen enough of these newcomers, and hopped away into some bushes when the Lesserwurm seemed to be getting close. But Torrent only seemed interested in the local plantlife at the moment.

She soon came upon a bush full of Green Argeps, around a dozen bunches of unripe berries hanging from its branches. If she had ever spoken with Oberon or Ash about their own travels she might have learned the locations of a few Kele patches, Blue Argep Bushes, and Topapo plants, but in the area she chose to search she only found the green ones...until she caught the smell.

Whatever it was, it smelled like delicious, cooked meat. But she couldn't see any smoke from a fire, or hear the sounds of cooking on metal tools or the sizzling of an oiled pan. But that smell was practically mouth watering.

If she followed it, moving under the noon day sun as her shadow got smaller, she would soon find herself looking at a bright red, flowering plant. Its pink petals were very thick, almost fleshy, and at its center there was a leathery ball of some sort that looked the same color and texture as a fresh-grilled steak. A bunch of green, bushy leaves sprouted from its base, but they had prickles like some kind of holly plant, apparently to protect that strong-scented flower head. It seemed to have put out runners of some kind, bright red vines that were easy to see with little buds along their length.

You used Plant Analysis I!
---Green Argep---
A sweet fruit that some would describe as a berry, since it is smaller and grows in bunches. Green Argeps are not ripe and the body of the fruit has not fully developed; it has a bitter, acidic taste that will turn sweet later on. The leaves of the Argep bush are sometimes used to brew tea and the fruit itself can be fermented even when unripe.
---Blood Snare Plant---
A large plant that, for some strange reason, forms its flowers and many other parts from tissue very similar to flesh rather than wood or greenery. Perhaps being made of the muscular substance is why its vines are so strong. It is a carnivorous plant, lashing out at prey, but it has very little stamina. It thus waits for a chance to surprise the unwary herbivore, but otherwise displays no intelligence.
---Analysis Complete!---

Ardur, Asura, Momma Slime

Inspire I's effects have worn off.

This Command is already Active.

Command [Form Party] acknowledged.
You are already in a Party with Adult_Slime_123 [Mother/Momma Slime] and Ardur. You have not established a special connection with Ardur; his Status (such as HP Warning) cannot be shared at this time. Some forms of Experience are being shared.

You have no Stamina remaining. HP Drain is active again.

Ardur was struck hard by the stick-wielding Skeleblin, after two more of the bony monsters had joined the fray. The buff Hipixie crushed the remains of one Zombie Pixie just as Asura surged into the skeleton that had attacked him with a powerful Smash, shattering several of its ribs and knocking it to the ground. Momma Slime followed up her original attack on the jawless Skeleblin as it and the other undead it had crashed into tried to disentangle from each other. She rolled into a tight ball and bowled into both of them. The one with a broken jaw had the rest of its cranium smashed under her weight against the rocks on the ground, and the other was tackled hard enough to crack several bones. It fought back with a flurry of punches, but they seemed to be leaving only the barest of marks on Momma Slime's blue body.

As Ardur flew up he managed to evade a thrown rock from one of the necomer Skeleblins, and he drop kicked the second Zombie Pixie just as it too was trying to fly up after him. With his increased strength and the force of gravity, this blow was devastating to a normal, frail pixie's body. Its neck and spine were crushed under Ardur's feet, and its dead body ruptured against the ground to spill stinking viscera everywhere. But then a second stone hurtled through the air, striking Ardur hard in the head. Blood spilled down across the edge of one eye as he stumbled backwards.


Asura circled to intercept the Dire Rat, and slammed another Smash into its jaw as it opened up to try and bite him. He felt bones and teeth breaking as the creature was tossed to one side, but where a normal creature might react in shock to the pain or even give up the fight and retreat, this monster only continued to move with jerky, mechanical motions. The purple light in its eyes was still bright. Despite that strong blow, Asura could feel his HP lowering again.

Momma Slime used another 'mash of her own, crushing her second Skeleblin of the battle. But the one Asura had knocked down was getting back up, gnarled club still held at the ready. The two that were throwing rocks at Ardur were gathering up more ammunition. The Dire Rat was still alive. Coming from the direction of Jason's cave was a Slime with a purple, glowing core like a lava lamp. From a mound of dirt on the other side of the pool, a Zombie Pixie began digging its way free. The flickering lights of Ghost Wisps shone in the distance as they approached, preparing their crackling orbs...

Suddenly, from the pool, a surge of water rose up. It was not like an ocean tide or a white water current, but still it washed over the edges of the rocky bank. It swept across the battlefield with purpose, taking the feet out from under the Skeleblins and forcing the Rat and Slime to back off. Strangely the water parted completely around Ardur, Momma Slime, and Asura--and a soft blue light beckoned to them from the center of the water. A sword, somehow floating with blade upright, listed in the ebb and flow.

"Cursed Souls, hear me! There is no Mana nor sustenance here! Even with Asteria's gift, I have little Mana--Flee, and I will hold them a short moment!"

Asteria, Ed, Mother Rat

Jezee quickly hurried away from the rats, sobbing and scared. She left a distinct trail as she ran through the long grass without any heed for brambles or brush. The two rats moved away much less perceptibly, ignoring the various flowers and plants for now as they continued southward. The plains seemed much less vast up close, but only because their vision was much more limited. In the thick of the grass, Asteria and Mother Rat might as well have been in the thick of a jungle. Without jumping, only Ed could naturally see over the tall plant stalks. It was a good thing that he kept low, as his blue head would no doubt stand out like a sore thumb among the sea of green.

While Asteria took stock of their position, Ed had to put much more effort into being stealthy because of his size and the fact that, unlike Asteria, he couldn't use his tail as well. With Asteria's sharpened senses, she determined that save for Jezee now crashing away far in the distance, it seemed they were alone. Mother Rat seemed to think the same, as she stopped alongside the others and began pawing and licking at her fur to remove bits of bramble.

You used Mana Sense I!
You can feel Nature Mana all around you. There is some Wind mana in this area as well. This feeling is pleasant and natural. There are no exceedingly strong magical energies.

You used Mana Drain I!
You have absorbed a small amount of MP from plantlife around you.

Skill Gain: Alert I!
Skill Gain: Alert I! (0.9 > 1.0)!
Though this skill is limited by the strength of your senses, and does not sharpen your senses on its own, it allows you to become more aware of your surroundings. Without conscious effort, you will pick up on signs in your environment more easily, especially if they present some form of danger to you. Essentially this is an anti-ambush skill.

While Asteria tried to restore her MP, both through calm, relaxing meditation and by using her Mana Drain on the flowers around her, she could feel the energy ever so slightly trickling back. After Undine had drained her completely she never had fully recovered, and while it wasn't hindering her as much as Stamina or HP loss it was notably refreshing to have this energy back.

Ed, meanwhile, observed his Gnarled Stick not with any kind of analysis skill, but simply his enhanced vision. With his Beast Senses at the second rank, however, this did give him a significant amount of information. The stick's "handle" had a slight curve to it. Self-evidently, the stick would thus generate more force if swung in a fashion following this natural curve, like the edge of a scimitar or katana. He could see some cracks near the knotty end of the cudgel, so he would know to try and align the weapon's head to not put as much pressure on that piece. He could also see that the stick was very dry, so it would be a good idea to keep it away from fire. When he had held the stick in his mouth earlier he had gained a sense for its balance, feeling its weight on either side of his jaw, and now that he had it in his hand he found himself getting a feel for the same thing, the leverage his grip had on it...It felt like something just sort of clicked, as he turned the stick in his grasp.

Skill Rank Up: Muffle I > Muffle II! (1.9 > 2.0)
You are now even more effective at remaining unseen passively. Activating this skill by using Stamina will noticeably reduce, but not eliminate, the sounds of your movement.

Skill Gain: Use Light Equipment (0.9 > -- )
The use of small tools, and lighter forms of armor, weaponry, and other items.

Mother Rat alerted the duo with a sudden squeak, however, as she pawed at something on the ground. She moved in rapid circles around it, sniffing and huffing as the hair on the back of her neck rose. If Asteria or Ed looked, they would immediately see what was wrong.

Not too far ahead of them, in a trail of bent grass that looked fairly recent, a footprint made its mark upon a patch of bare earth. It was somewhat deep and well defined--and human-sized. It was solid and had a distinct shape toward the heel, and a pointed toe. A boot of some sort, reminiscent of cowboy boots or other leather footwear from their home world. The deep print and the size implied someone fairly tall and heavy...maybe a man? And near it a set of smaller, softer prints--someone smaller, wearing some kind of shoe that wasn't quite so rigid. They probably had to jog along to keep up with the larger being's stride--a child? Or maybe some smaller race of being?

The tracks were heading towards the northwest--perhaps towards the cave, but more likely towards the mountains. They seemed to be making a long arc, if the grass trail in either direction was to be trusted...


Though Danny wanted to ask the system how close he was to his next level, as he thought about this he was still levitating further away from the Slimes--who were also retreating, having given up on their meal. Almost as soon as he had asked the question, the notice popped up.
LEVEL UP! Your combined experiences and survival have culminated in new power! You are now Level 5! Your Max HP has increased (this will not heal your current HP)! You gain Skill Points to distribute as you please!

Unspent Skill Points: 9

Current Skills:
Mana Orb II (2.45)
Lesser Force II (2.25)
Levitation (--)
Monster Analysis II (2.25)
Meditate I (1.2)
Mana Shape I (1.2)
Aqua Sphere I (1.1)
Magic Analysis I (1.1)
Mana Dart I (1.05)
Plant Analysis (0.8)
Blunt Resistance (0.4)
Mana Strike (0.5)
Focus (0.8)
Faster (0.9)
Mana Shell (0.1)
Point Strike (0.8)
Suppress Presence (0.6)
Muffle (0.5)
Spell Cancel (0.1)
Aqua Stream (0.1)
Magic Dash (0.2)
Spell Chant (0.1)
Material Analysis (0.2)
Mana Drain (0.1)

YOUR BODY IS BEGINNING TO CHANGE! You are undergoing Transformation! Based on your life experiences, your ability to survive, and the strength of your will, new paths have appeared! Choose carefully--there is no going back! WARNING. THIS PROCESS WILL LEAVE YOU TEMPORARILY VULNERABLE.

OPTIONS (* Indicates Suitability):
*(Adult) Wisp - More magical manifestation than biological creatures, Wisps nonetheless possess physical bodies. Their ability to cast spells from range makes them a foe that should not be underestimated by the novice. Wisps are magically oriented monsters, normally possessing two spells.
  • Slight increase to all Base Stats
  • Increase HP
  • Increase Potential

(Immature) Pyrofly - This creature is similar to a large Wisp, however it appears as if its entire body has been set alight. These flames do not cause it harm, however; rather, it thrives on both warmth and ambient flame mana, and is always attracted to sources of these things. It is often energetic and volatile, but tends to have a short life-span not only due to its high energy expenditure, but also its vulnerability to things like water and cold.
  • Increase MP
  • Increase Fireball (reduced)
  • Increase Fire Affinity (reduced)

(Immature) Bubble - This creature is similar to a large Wisp, however it appears as if its entire body has been caught in a bubble of frothy liquid. This liquid somehow stays suspended around its body. It is often calm and non-hostile, but tends to find its way into things it shouldn't, like various containers humans use to store foodstuffs. It is resistant to Fire magic, yet remains vulnerable to both extremes of temperature.
  • Increase MP
  • Increase Aqua Sphere (reduced)
  • Increase Water Affinity (reduced)

**(Immature) Poltergeist - This monster is still fueled by Magic, but its hold on the physical world has become stronger. Though its chubby, infantile body isn't particularly large, its grasping limbs, levitation ability, and its manipulation magic make it quite the prankster. However, its defensive abilities don't grow as fast as some other species. For the already physically frail mage-types, this can be a dangerous weakness.
  • Gain Arms w/Hands, Legs w/Feet, Head w/Eyes and Mouth
  • Increase base power-stats (reduced)
  • Increase Lesser Force (reduced)

When he flew into the dust from the Mana Crystals, Danny felt some of his MP being restored, but not nearly as much as he would have gotten from a Crystal. He would still need to Meditate if he wanted to recover--or perhaps leave the cave entirely. It didn't look like there was going to be anything left here soon...could it have something to do with that Core back at Jason's cave? Then again, even if he left the safety of the cave, at this point he had no idea if there would be Mana Crystals outside. As he also had no real way to recover his HP at this point except perhaps by sleeping, he was left with a tough decision...


As Jason's immaterial body passed over the Fanged Lizard eggs, with a flex of his will he felt the sensation of food and drink as if he were eating at the table. The gray colored pinpricks within the shells shivered, then dissipated like mist within Jason's ectoplasmic form just like food within his membrane had digested. Though there was a moment of what could only be called "resistance," it was no more than the wriggling of a fresh grub before one bites down.

Though each egg was only a fifth the size of the soul within the rat, Jason ate all ten of them. There was an unwhole feeling, as if he were biting into a piece of bread with part of the dough missing due to an air bubble during baking. Maybe that was his Mana Disorder--even external sources of Mana were reduced in their effectiveness until he could figure out a way to overcome it. Still, he could feel Mana--so much more strongly than before--surging through his being.

Now he attacked the Rat--he wanted its Mana, but not its soul. As he collided with the body, the Dire Rat gave a startled squeak. Its fur bristled and its flesh pimpled with goosebumps as if an arctic wind blew against it, and it whirled. Its purple eyes finally seemed to "see" Jason, and the creature snarled but was unable to disentangle itself from Jason's own "body" as it thrashed and bucked. He could feel a small amount of MP coming back--but he was starting to lose it just as fast.

The purple light within the rat "touched" him.

The world flashed black and gray again. Jason and the Rat were both frozen in time. A misty figure struggled to take shape, screaming and thrashing in rage. It crashed against the Rat's body from the inside, striking at the parts of Jason that were wrapped around the rodent. Jason saw a face snarling in front of his own. That bitchy goblin he had impaled.

Jason's own hand reached out instinctively, ike swatting a bug that has landed on your shoulder before you're even sure what that prickling sensation on your shirt is. It grabbed the goblin by her scrawny neck and squeezed tight.

"End it! Eat! Can't drain, kill, eat!"

The world flashed back to normal and Jason's will was his own again. The Rat was starting to run now, and he found it growing exceedingly difficult to "hold" on. His MP was still dropping and recovering at a balanced rate, but he was less than halfway "full" at the moment...

Orchid's Tribe

Sqwal held the club in both hands like a bat, while Bigs wrapped his sling around his arm and switched to using his shield and spear. Both of them followed Orchid warily, and Crispy went out in front. He kept his body turned, as much to assist with crouching and moving through the long grass stealthily as it was to keep anything from hitting his injured arm. With Orchid in the middle, she was well protected--but if something came at them, she might also have trouble getting around the bodies of the other goblins in order to address the threat...

"Yargh, gerroff gerrof!" Sqwal cried out, beating at himself as black smoke suddenly blossomed around him. Bigs held up his shield just as the same smoke erupted from the wicker object. As Orchid and Crispy turned, two large black cats lunged from the grass--an ambush!

Bigs had one of the better Wicker Shields Orchid had crafted, and it had held up well even through the raid in the cave. But when one cat's claws struck it as the black smoke billowed--without any visible flame--from its weave, she heard the shield cracking. Sqwal swung his club wildly, and the cat halted its charge and nimbly danced out of the way. Its two differenly colored eyes gleamed, almost like the damn thing was smirking...
Ardur, Asura, Momma Slime

+Character Sheet
--Skill List, Equipment, Status, And Related Tabs
+Group Status
--Party, Analysis Skills, And Related Tabs

Earth Resist (0.7)
Mental Resistance (0.9)
Monster Analysis (0.95)
Slime Shell (0.5)
Charisma (0.5)
Dextrous (0.2)
Soil Manipulation (0.3)
Stone Shot (0.5)
Slime Coil (0.2)
Magic Analysis (0.3)
Bounce (0.5)
Muffle (0.1)
Poison Resistance (0.2)
Dash Attack (0.4)
Spiritual Awareness (0.2)
Intimidate (0.3)
Stronger (0.8)
Blood Drain (0.5)
First Aid (0.1)
Acid Spit (0.2)
Skewer (0.4)
Slash (0.1)
Fire Resistance (0.2)
Water Resistance (0.0125)
Stamina Furnace (0.3)
Focus (0.1)

You Used Source Crystal Shard!
Skeleblin, a Skeleton-type Undead-class Monster. Undead will single-mindedly pursue living creatures with hostility. There is something unusual about it.
---Analysis Complete!---

The Source Crystal Shard needs to be recharged!

Asura managed to get 3 Herbs before the field had almost completely withered--all that were left were those oily black ones, and even they were starting to shrivel.

As the undead attacked, Asura braced himself and seemed to be building up power for an attack. Ardur lunged into the air, grabbing the most mangled of the Zombie Pixies by the leg. As he swung the creature with his enhanced strength, he slammed it into its fellow before it could sink its own claws into him. The impact shattered what few brittle, hollow bones remained in the first zombie's body, and both of the undead fey crashed to the ground. But while the one Ardur had grabbed seemed as if it could no longer move its body--being little more than a fleshy sack filled with shattered bone bits--it still turned its head this way and that like a decapitated rattle snake, snapping its tiny jaws. The other Zombie Pixie managed to pull itself off the ground, and held out its hands towards Ardur. It garbled something, blood vomiting from its mouth--and black smoke suddenly enveloped Ardur.

You have been Cursed! The next attack against you will be more effective!

Momma Slime rolled forward between Asura and the oncoming Skeleblins, just as one of them lumbered forward and swung a bony fist. It practically spun on the hinge of its hip and spine as its jawbones clattered. The impact struck the blue slime's body--

And made a sound like thumping your finger against a rubber dodgeball. The skeleton paused for a moment. It slowly turned its skull upward to "look" at Momma Slime.


The Skeleblin's bottom jaw snapped off as Momma Slime's pseudopod sent it bowling back into its compatriates.

A second Skeleblin jumped to swing at Ardur with a Gnarled Stick, and two more began picking up throwing-sized rocks off the ground...


The Yellow slime flopped through the air in frustration as Danny dodged it. With his levitation ability restored, he floated back up to a rocky ledge near the top of the cave to conceal himself. The two slimes down below gurgled angrily, then went their separate ways--no doubt to find a less troublesome meal.

Danny could see from up here that it looked like several monsters--most of whom had glowing purple eyes--seemed to be headed in the direction of Jason's cave, as did the remainder of any Mana Crystal dust floating on an unfelt wind. What was going on? The aura of the cave seemed to be growing more oppressive by the moment...

By contrast, it had to be somewhere around noon outside--the bright daytime sun seemed to be coming in strong through the entrance far away, and through a few shafts here and there in the ceiling...


The Meditate Skill is currently disabled due to Mana Burn.

Skill Gain: Guidance I!
Your pleas have been heard. Offer up a portion of your MP in prayer, and gain a chance to receive supernatural guidance. The effectiveness of the teachings depends on your faith--and your ability to read the signs. Does rustling grass along the path show your way, or reveal danger? Was that a whispered voice, or just the wind? Your faith will shape your journey. The better your relation with a particular deity, the more likely you are to receive their guidance.


Jason could feel no Mana entering his "body," if this wispy, almost soap-bubble-esque form could count as such. The world seemed to be getting darker all the time, as if that monochrome place he had come from was pulling him back.

As he floated down to the ground, he could not feel any contact with the earth. The Dire Rat was coming closer, but seemingly unaware of his presence. As it sniffed around the place where the two assimilated Fanged Lizards--and Jason himself--had been killed, it pawed at the ground. Jason wouldn't see this, however, as he was caught up in his prayer.

"Spirits of the earth... I ask for your guidance, must I truly subsist off souls in this form? Or is there another way? Please, help me.... I beg you!"

And he received an answer...though not from any god.

"Stupid! Eat it! Wolves eat sheep! Baboons eat apples! Humans eat cluckees and hogs! Everything eat!"

When Jason opened his eyes, he would see the Dire Rat turn--but as it did so, the place where it had been digging suddenly gave way. The Rat gave a surprised squeak and leaped onto a nearby rock, before turning to stare at the spot that had caved in.

The loose earth had fallen in right over a clutch of Fanged Lizard eggs. Inside each of them, Jason could see a tiny mote of gray light--about ten of them, although each was less than a fifth the size of the large purple light inside the Dire Rat. And that creature was now turning away, seemingly following the scent trail left behind by Asura and Ardur...
Ash, Digbie, Mourningstar, Oberon, Reoth, Torrent

"Rattleskull is dead. We killed him. He was weak and didn't know his place."

The goblins froze so fast you could almost hear a record scratch.

"DA BIG DEMONS SPEAK!" yelled Rags Nar, as all five of them turned back to Digbie. They looked around, some of them clearly very frightened, but as they saw nothing they too began to look to the Demiblin.

"W-well uh, if'n ya dun killed Rattleskull...Dat's even better!" The leader of the pack wiped his brow, trying to look as nonchalant as possible. "But I hope ya left da udda gobs alive--if dey all wiped out, we can't add 'em to our tribe! And we's gonna need all da gobs we can get. B-but, uh, we's very uh, in-grated to yas, Demi-gob!"

"Yeah, we's ingrated!"

"Many thankees, Demi-gob!"

"We uh, we makes extra special foods for ya tomorrow too, den! Since yas already done it!"

The goat, obviously irked at being turned around yet again, gave a snort and bucked lightly, kicking the goblin holding its rope down the other side of the hill. Rags Nar grabbed two handfuls of the creature's fur as it turned and charged after the unfortunate goblin.

"We's be gooooooiiiiinnn!" came his voice, trailing off as his other goblins sprinted after him.


As Jason's form collided with that of Bonie's, the mists swirled together around them. Jason felt confusion sweep through him--all he had wanted was to see just what kind of creature the Boss was, why it was so different from the other monsters. Well, there was also a want to see the rest of them, to know that they would continue their destiny. But Jason knew that wasn't possible for her--she had been gone too long, she hadn't had the strength to go back from the beginning, only the strength to hold on. And without them, now that they had forgotten, she would probably never get that strength...

Jason and Bonie, Bonie and Jason, he, she, they, we, I, tumbled through darkness. The golden glow was the anchor, the end, the exit. The Dungeon Core pulled, harder and harder. This world, this black and white world separate from everything else, was a wall boxing him in...

He, she, he, you, he was Ja-Soon Mag, he WAS Jason, he knew who he was!

When Jason had done his suicidal stunt, he had hidden a part of his body within the hollowed out ground under the nesting area--a chunk of his green, slimy membrane, nestled under the edge of the collapsed tunnel Momma Slime had crushed him into. It had, of course, lost all cohesion. It was little more than a puddle. The digestive fluids within the membrane had mostly been absorbed by the dirt.

Mana suffused it, and the lime "flesh" dissolved further--from dough, to putty, to goo, to plasm. And this ectoplasm, spiritually charged, evaporated into a vapor that began to take shape.
Undead Transformation: Earth-Hardened Slime Mage > Ecto Slime!
Ecto Slime: An extremely rare undead monster. Spirit-class Undead are formed when a soul is unable to leave the corpse or reenter the natural cycle of life and death; composed entirely of the energies left within the body at the time of death, Spirits without Will cannot maintain a form for long. When they lose cohesion, they are returned to the world in another way that cannot be undone. Slimes do not normally have enough intelligence or magic power to revive as undead, and even when affected by outside sources they are usually extremely unstable. Like all undead, they seem to harbor an instinctive need to consume the living. Like many Spirit-class Undead, they are driven to feast on other souls even to the point of losing themselves.

You are Undead.
You have lost your physical body; Stats and Skills have been negatively affected.
All base Stats have decreased.
All former Skills have been Locked.
You are still experiencing Mana Disorder. Natural MP Recovery has stopped. External MP Recovery is still reduced by 50%. This may prove fatal in your current condition.

Skill Gain: Transparency I!
Cannot be used with a physical body. Expend MP to generate clip effect through physical environments. The entire body cannot overlap objects. Canceling clip effect while partially overlapping object will cause damage and magic backlash to yourself and the object.

Skill Gain: Spiritual Awareness I!
--Being Undead has affected this skill.-- You have become more aware of the spiritual and living sides of the world. This will affect your interactions with certain types of spiritual living monsters. At this rank, you can only detect interact with a hint of the spiritual world. There may also be other affects of this ability...

Skill Gain: Taboo I!
You have gained a "cursed skill." Those with sharp senses may detect your true nature...Even now, the evil seed of what you've done germinates within you...

Skill Gain: Levitate (--)!
Your body floats by expending a very small amount of MP. Without other skills or greater magical power, you can only float about 3 feet off the ground at a slow walking speed. Moving faster, or rising much higher, consumes MP proportional to the physical effort required for such things.

You have overcome a harrowing trial. Your combined experiences culminate in new power. You are now Level 7! You gain Skill Points to use as you please! Your max MP has increased (this will not restore your current MP)!

Unspent Skill Points: 9

Current Skills:
Physical Damage Resistance I (1.0)
Warcry II (2.175)
Stone Shot II (2.6625)
Rock Spire II (2.075)
Tremor Sense II (2.425)
Soil Manipulation I (1.15)
Telepathy II (2.725)
Material Analysis I (1.2)
Magic Analysis I (1.55)
Monster Analysis I (1.55)
Mental Resistance I (1.55)
Charisma I (1.15)
Focus I (1.3)
Limited Shapeshift I (1.6)
Mind Wave I (1.2)
Spell Chant I (1.3)
Bounce I (1.15)
Faster I (1.05)
Blunt Resistance I (1.0)

Spiritual Awareness I (1.0)
Transparency I (1.0)
Taboo I (1.9)
Levitate (--)
Wave Shock (0.1)
Aqua Sphere (0.7)
Alert (0.1)
Blood Drain (0.7)
Muffle (0.1)
Magic Resistance (0.5)
Agriculture (0.3)
Plant Analysis (0.3)
Fire Resistance (0.4)
Fortify (0.2)
Sensory Resistance (0.3)
Mana Orb (0.5)
Shield (0.5)
Alchemy (0.4)
Meditate (0.8)
Air Read (0.4)
Keen Sight (0.2)
Doze (0.1)
Blunt Resistance (0.9)
Acid Resistance (0.1)
Rabid Fit (0.1)
Pierce Resistance (0.8)
Lesser Cleanse (0.2)
Dextrous (0.2)
Quicken (0.3)
Earth Wall (0.1)
Guidance (0.1)
Slash Resistance 0.2
Mana Sense 0.1

The world was suddenly so full of color and vibrancy again, it made Jason practically want to leap for joy. And leap he did, as he floated up towards the ceiling...only, he couldn't seem to come back down. And the closer he got to that shaft of sunlight coming through the ceiling, the more he could feel every inch of him recoiling from it the way you can feel that the heat coming off the stovetop will scald and scar you with its painful flames.

What was more, as he looked around, even though he had finally returned to the correct still looked different. There was a dark haze around everything, as if his eyes were bleary and unadjusted to the world. That sunlight, or any light really, was far too bright...but other than that, there were other pinpoints of light in this world. Purple lights, bouncing around inside cages...and other lights, lights of many colors, that settled peacefully in their shells.

One of these purple lights, as a matter of fact, was down below Jason. A lone Dire Rat, scurrying along the tunnels of the nesting area, was made visible to him by the violet light within its body even though there was a layer of dirt between him and its physical body. It was...searching, for something, it seemed. It stopped near where the battle of the slimes had taken place, then scurried over to where those two assimilated Fanged Lizards had been killed.

Eat it! yelled a sudden, urgent voice inside Jason. He suddenly became aware that there were no Mana Crystals anywhere around him...and he could feel his MP depleting like a clock ticking down...


As Danny tried to calm himself and Meditate, it was extremely difficult...after all, he had so many things running through his head. Fear. Was he about to die? Could he do this in time? Would he recover enough? Would the Slime reach him first? How long could he last? He was already low on HP. Would one more hit kill him?

Slowly, the yellow slime inched closer.

Danny took a deep breath. He could only use the Source Crystal as a last resort. He had to Meditate. Could he do this? Did this count as being in battle? He himself wasn't actually fighting or moving right now. He was IN a battle...but he wasn't battling...

He felt a trickle of energy. He could Levitate again! He couldn't feel enough for any other attacks, but as the Wisp lifted into the air the Slime blurbled and angrily leaped at him once more--!
Ash, Digbie, Mourningstar, Oberon, Reoth, Torrent

As Ash attempted to examine the Mana Crystal, this time she could see a dim glow within the blue crystal's depths. Back in the cave she had been able to see the glow with her own eyes, but this light seemed to be deeper within the crystal, rather than emitted from its facets. When her concentration was broken, however, her vision returned to normal after a blink. The crystal's blue color was now much lighter, and the glow was only slight within the less-dark setting of their shelter.

You used Analysis!
---Rags Nar---
This is an Elite Adult Goblin. You have learned his name is Rags Nar. Goblins stand between three and three-and-a-half feet tall on average, and while their physical strength isn't to be underestimated, they are much like human children. However, their natural cunning and viciousness is far more vile, and while they can use tools they have a limited intelligence. They tend to form savage tribes with little in common save for the constant drive to survive, and a lack of emotional control that causes them to do whatever they feel necessary to satisfy any primal craving they happen to feel at any given moment. They aren't typically capable of long-term planning and have difficulty with abstract concepts. They don't possess a great deal of magical power, but are sometimes capable of learning it. A goblin's bones aren't that different from any other creature of its size, and are thus suitable for certain types of crafting. Its hide can be tanned into leather, but it does not produce an especially durable product.

However, an Adult Goblin typically grows towards the taller side of average. Under normal circumstances, a goblin will reach puberty between 3 to 4 weeks after birth, and will finish their maturation entirely within 3 months or so. The accumulation of power due to high levels of ambient magic or unusual experiences, however, may accelerate this growth.

An Elite Goblin is a fully mature Goblin that has overcome the challenges of survival, or lived long enough, and developed into an outstanding example of the species.

Rags Nar has a higher than usual MP pool for a Goblin, but as far as you can tell he has no Magical properties. He is wearing a Broken Haubergeon (Below Average), Filthy Underwear (Bad), Vine Greaves (Good), Treebark Bracers (Good) x2, Scrap Leather Boot (Below Average), Iron Dagger (Well-Made), and a Wooden Pot Lid (Above Average). He is not quite as strong or durable as you are, but is equally as fast. You have the impression that he may possess several combat skills.
---Analysis Complete!---

You used Magic Analysis IV! You used Monster Analysis II!
---Adult Four Horned Goat---
A goat with, well, four horns. Magical mutations have made this herbivore's temper extremely volatile, however, and given it the nasty benefit of a natural poison in those horns. They have been observed to eat grasses and other plants that are poisonous, and it is thought the food it has access to will affect the strength of its venom. Every so often a normal goat will give birth to this creature, but most shepherds would rather slaughter them or toss them into the wilds than try to tame them. They are extremely hard to domesticate, and seem to be dominate breeders if left in contact with normal goats. It has much lower MP than you do. As far as you can tell it has no magical properties. It is somewhat more vulnerable to Fire and Water elements, and somewhat less vulnerable to Wind and Ice elements.
---Rags Nar---
This is an Elite Adult Goblin. You have learned his name is Rags Nar. Goblins stand between three and three-and-a-half feet tall on average, and while their physical strength isn't to be underestimated, they are much like human children. However, their natural cunning and viciousness is far more vile, and while they can use tools they have a limited intelligence. They tend to form savage tribes with little in common save for the constant drive to survive, and a lack of emotional control that causes them to do whatever they feel necessary to satisfy any primal craving they happen to feel at any given moment. They aren't typically capable of long-term planning and have difficulty with abstract concepts. They don't possess a great deal of magical power, but are sometimes capable of learning it.

However, an Adult Goblin typically grows towards the taller side of average. Under normal circumstances, a goblin will reach puberty between 3 to 4 weeks after birth, and will finish their maturation entirely within 3 months or so. The accumulation of power due to high levels of ambient magic or unusual experiences, however, may accelerate this growth. Goblins are one of a small number of monsters who can reproduce with multiple species without hybridization. A female goblin will always give birth to a goblin even if coupled with a male of another species, and a female of another species will almost always give birth to a goblin if coupled with a male goblin. However, some species may still pass traits on to goblin children. An example you would be familiar with: Rattleskull, as a Bugbear, had goblin children who will likely be more predisposed to developing greater physical strength and endurance, and may grow more body hair.

An Elite Goblin is a fully mature Goblin that has overcome the challenges of survival, or lived long enough, and developed into an outstanding example of the species. Their bodies will be further developed, though no pure Goblin four feet tall or taller has ever been observed. Their experiences have often granted them greater intelligence than their brethren, so their plans are much more complex and they are always high in the tribe's command structure.

Rags Nar has a higher than usual MP pool for a Goblin, but as far as you can tell he has no Magical properties. He is somewhat more vulnerable to Fire, Ice, and Lightning elements, and somewhat less vulnerable to Water and Wind elements.
---Analysis Complete!---

You used Analysis!
---Rags Nar---
This is an Elite Adult Goblin. You have learned his name is Rags Nar. Goblins stand between three and three-and-a-half feet tall on average, and while their physical strength isn't to be underestimated, they are much like human children. However, their natural cunning and viciousness is far more vile, and while they can use tools they have a limited intelligence. They tend to form savage tribes with little in common save for the constant drive to survive, and a lack of emotional control that causes them to do whatever they feel necessary to satisfy any primal craving they happen to feel at any given moment. They aren't typically capable of long-term planning and have difficulty with abstract concepts. They don't possess a great deal of magical power, but are sometimes capable of learning it. A goblin's bones aren't that different from any other creature of its size, and are thus suitable for certain types of crafting. Its hide can be tanned into leather, but it does not produce an especially durable product.

However, an Adult Goblin typically grows towards the taller side of average. Under normal circumstances, a goblin will reach puberty between 3 to 4 weeks after birth, and will finish their maturation entirely within 3 months or so. The accumulation of power due to high levels of ambient magic or unusual experiences, however, may accelerate this growth.

An Elite Goblin is a fully mature Goblin that has overcome the challenges of survival, or lived long enough, and developed into an outstanding example of the species.

Rags Nar has a higher than usual MP pool for a Goblin, but as far as you can tell he has no Magical properties. He is wearing a Broken Haubergeon (Below Average), Filthy Underwear (Bad), Vine Greaves (Good), Treebark Bracers (Good) x2, Scrap Leather Boot (Below Average), Iron Dagger (Well-Made), and a Wooden Pot Lid (Above Average). He is not quite as strong or durable as you are, but is equally as fast. You have the impression that he may possess several combat skills.
---Adult Goblin x4---
Goblins stand between three and three-and-a-half feet tall on average, and while their physical strength isn't to be underestimated, they are much like human children. However, their natural cunning and viciousness is far more vile, and while they can use tools they have a limited intelligence. They tend to form savage tribes with little in common save for the constant drive to survive, and a lack of emotional control that causes them to do whatever they feel necessary to satisfy any primal craving they happen to feel at any given moment. They aren't typically capable of long-term planning and have difficulty with abstract concepts. They don't possess a great deal of magical power, but are sometimes capable of learning it. A goblin's bones aren't that different from any other creature of its size, and are thus suitable for certain types of crafting. Its hide can be tanned into leather, but it does not produce an especially durable product.

However, an Adult Goblin typically grows towards the taller side of average. Under normal circumstances, a goblin will reach puberty between 3 to 4 weeks after birth, and will finish their maturation entirely within 3 months or so. The accumulation of power due to high levels of ambient magic or unusual experiences, however, may accelerate this growth.
---Adult Four Horned Goat---
A goat with, well, four horns. Magical mutations have made this herbivore's temper extremely volatile, however, and given it the nasty benefit of a natural poison in those horns. Every so often a normal goat will give birth to this creature, but most shepherds would rather slaughter them or toss them into the wilds than try to tame them. It has much lower MP than you do. As far as you can tell it has no magical properties. Its fur is quite thick and its hide can be tanned into good quality leather. Its bones and hooves are especially sturdy. Its horns are fairly hard, but hollow, and of course poisonous. It is stronger and more durable than you are, and slightly faster.
---Analysis Complete!---

Ash barely poked her head out of the cave, while Torrent stealthily made her way to a better vantage point. None of the goblins seemed to notice her. Oberon started to prepare for a fight, but stopped to see how things would play out. He felt his Mana Orb drain his MP like it normally would, but instead of firing it, it fizzled out with a display somelike like a sparkler firework. Rags Nar and the other goblins who hadn't gone up to Digbie glanced towards the Sprite with trepidation, but the leader at least seemed to be brave enough to keep his hand on his weapon. Before things could escalate any further, Digbie gave them his response.

"Rags Nar," Digbie began. To clear some things up, those 'pets' are my friends, and you guys gots some nerve, showin' up here without so much as an offerin' for my friendship!" Digbie's voice shifted to a more barbaric style. He didn't want to confuse these goblins with his big words., plus he needed to make himself sound convincing. "Still, you guys have my attention! If you want me to come and help, you'll abide by MY two demands! First, you tell me why you have come to receive my aid, and second, you come back here tomorrow, and bring one of these 'perty wimmin' with you, so I may have someone to raise under my wing!"

"Do these two things, and I'll come and see if you truly need my aid tomorrow!"

"Great Demi-Gob, youse is big brained!" Rags Nar said with a grin. "We comes to ya, cause we gonna be da biggest and bestest gobs all roun' here! Dere is udda tribes, ya see--but ain't none of 'em good as us! But, on udda side of da forest, dere's a bunch of dum gobs what listens to a dum Bugbear, named Rattleskull! He think he tuff, but since da last time we fights I went and got more gobs! And dey ain't da only ones!" The two warrior goblins returned to Rags's side, and though all of his gesturing made his goat try to rear up, the goblin holding it by a rope gave a desperate tug. "Wif yore help, wes can rule all da udda gobs! Cave Gobs, Riva Valley Gobs, Deep Wood Gobs, Big Riva Gobs, Mountain Gobs--maybe even da Orcs, way up in da mountains! We saw youse try to blows 'em up!"

With the goat finally calmed down (though it had swung its head around and clonked skull-to-skull with the horn-blower, nearly knocking him out), Rags Nar crossed his arms and nodded.

"Okay, Demi-Gob! We brings ya our perty-est guhl-gob tomorrer, den we shows ya our hideout! Is big old tower, dat-away!" he gestured to the north east with his thumb, which kind of defeated the point of not showing them, "Is kinda crumbly, but lets us sees far away, and even has bit underground! Make good cassle, for Gob king!"

With that, he leaned off his mount to kick the rope-holder in the head, and the nearly naked goblin began tugging the Four Horned Goat until it finally turned around. With the others falling in around him, the goblins began to leave the campsite...

Ardur, Asura, Momma Slime

As Asura explained things to Momma Slime again, she continued to pout. Since she hadn't been allowed to eat the Lizard, she instead munched on one of the two Healing Herbs Asura had left for her...then suddenly, she perked up.

"Ahsoowah! Mageek Wesesitese!" she blurbled, bouncing up and down. If Asura remembered correctly, the Resistance Skills did require someone to heal completely before they triggered--likely because if the body was "adapting" to damage, it had to rebuild itself, like a muscle that got stronger after working out. So Momma Slime must have had some form of leftover damage, and now that she had healed the skill had triggered.

Ī̝̹͐̂̆̈͋̿̚͞N̨͇̰̗͓̑̉̓͐̐ͧ͌̌ͪ͜͠V̬̦̰̥͙̬̹͕̞ͩ̃́̏͠A̯̮̱̘̲̜̯̠̐̈͒̃̿͢Ļ̷͔͙̝̻̝͓ͣ͐ͭ̀̆́I̧ͫ̅͏͉̹̭̭̺̻D̟̠͈̙͍̬̊̋ͯ̓̄ͯ́̀͟ ̰̝̰͍͔̖̤̟̑͒C̸̛̣̠̪̎̒̉̏̎̓ͧ̃ͣ͘O̳̺̮̫͐̊͗̓̇͝M̨͑̀̋͌ͦ҉͍̺Ṁ̨̞̗͍̥̲͖͔̊͊͒͒̉̒̚͠A̶̳̦̺̹̳̦̔̈́͌̇͑ͨ̅N̮̬͛͛̂ͨD͉͙̻̓ͨ͗̈̋̉

As Asura focused more intently on that sizzling sensation, and even tried to access his Mana for the first time ever in the attempt to convert it into stamina, the feeling grew stronger. And although he began moving towards the strange call he was feeling across the pool...the notice for HP Drain actually triggering didn't pop up again. That meant that his stamina had to be increasing...but how long could he actually stave it off?

Now that Ardur was out and about in the world again, he intended to "put an end" to all of this. As he seemed to be thinking out loud, he headed towards Jason's Cave in the distance along with Asura and Momma Slime. He used his new Inspire skill, and could practically feel the tingle traveling up his vocal cords as he spoke loudly and proudly. But, as he went on, he could feel his Mana rapidly draining as well...

“This is a call to action, this is a call to arms, all lives for one, together, there are no false alarms.” This alone felt just as draining as the chant he had used for his Fireball right before Jason's attack. Yet energy surged through his body. Much like "hyping" oneself up before a big game or some form of competition, he felt a rush. The magic, too, seemed to buzz in his head. “I have the will, to protect, to lead, to nurture. I have the will of the sun to bring balance to the cycle and release these undead from their earthly bonds." He envisioned what he wanted to happen, he called upon the sun's power. He felt as if those few rays he could see coming from the cavern's ceiling were just a little bit brighter, but was he really seeing that or was it just his imagination? He visualized an orb, light and fire, and the freedom of these seemingly trapped souls within the cavern.

“The sun takes and gives power. These souls are the power I give to it so that I may will its power here and now.”

His intent was to "release" the souls. But now he declared them an "offering?" He envisioned an orb--but also a bright, penetrating flash?

Spell Casting has been interrupted by ERROR.
It is likely you do not possess the Skill you are attempting to use.
Attempted Skill unclear.
You have not specified an alteration of the attempted Skill.
Possible Alterations Attempted: Magic Break? Fire Enchantment? Light Enchantment? Cleansing? Please Insert Alteration.
Your Spell Chant consumed too much Mana.
You have no MP remaining.
You have overdrawn your MP.
You are experiencing Mana Burn. Natural MP Recovery slowed by 50%.

As this notice popped into Ardur's head, his body let out a sudden flash--it was like that final burst given by a lightbulb before it's filament burned out. Like the neon red-green-blue or other colored flash that stayed in your eyes for a moment even after you closed them. And, as far as he could tell, nothing else about the cavern had changed...

Except for the fact that there were no Mana Crystals left.

They had all been crushed to powder, and that powder too had begun to dissipate. As the two slimes and Ardur got closer to Jason's cave, they would also see that many of the Healing Herbs growing around the Pool were now beginning to suddenly wither...

And coming directly at the trio, from the direction of the cave, were now 3 Skeleblins--different from the ones they had fought before. And, flying drunkenly up above the yellowed bones, there were 2 Pixies. One of them seemed to have had its entire body crushed at some point, and one of its arms was dangling from a wound that had almost blown it off at the shoulder--yet still it moved. The other was also clearly not healthy, having a few joints out of place and several wounds that looked like bite marks. Coming from around the edge of the pool, seemingly to join up with the rest of the undead, was a Dire Rat trailing its own intestines...

"Ahsoowah, not liek dem..." Mother Slime said, quivering even as she followed the Amorphous Slime and Hipixie.

Asteria, Ed, Mother Rat

Just before Mother Rat could pounce, Asteria took the initiative. As she brought the goblin girl down, the greenskin started to let out a cry--until she felt Asteria's claw on her throat.

“Stay still and silent, and you live. Try anything, you die. Understand?”

"H-how---mmh, mhm!" She had started to say something, but shut up as soon as Asteria threatened her. Eyes wide and lips trembling, she looked towards the pile of sticks, and her hand twitched towards her belt...but she dared not do anything that might be construed as a threat. Mother Rat jumped down from the tree, landing hard on the goblin's back and prompting another muffled squeak of pain from the girl--but Asteria stopped her with quiet chatters. The adult dire rat tilted her head, not quite understanding.

“Goblin? I don’t know what your name is, but you’re coming with us for a bit. We’ll let you go once we get far enough that your group won’t catch us even if you tell them all about us. So, just cooperate, would you? Refuse, get dead. Simple, right?”

"O-oh, okays..." Asteria roughly shoved at the green monster, and with her mass and beastly strength it was easier to roll the goblin over than one might think. The girl whimpered and gathered her limbs close to her body, holding herself. When Asteria gagged her, the girl started to cry. But as Asteria started to try and get the goblin on her back, she found that there was too much weight and not enough leverage. The goblin stood up, but Mother Rat was instantly at her legs, growling and hissing, and the goblin made no attempt to run away.

"Mmfh, mmhmmfh!" The goblin pointed at herself, then at Asteria, while hopping from one foot to the other as Mother Rat ran around her legs and menaced her. She seemed to be indicating that she would follow without trying to run.

When Asteria nosed the ground, she would find that it was still slightly wet from the light rain of the previous night--but that water was either sinking deeper into the ground or drying up by this point of the day. She could smell, however, that the fresh grass out on the plains to the south was lush and healthy--maybe the rain had been heavier out that way, or maybe the plants held a lot of water. She could also smell the scents of the goblin, the same ones Ed had picked up.

Ed had to carry the sticks, as Mother Rat didn't understand what he was trying to get her to do. When he stopped her from menacing the goblin girl, she reared up on her hind legs and rubbed her face with her forepaws again. Why was this Pack so strange?

When the Goblin girl saw the Rat Man for the first time, she gasped through her gag and trembled even harder, shrinking in on herself. She kept glancing between Asteria and Ed as she was forced to go along with them, and she sniffled and cried the whole time while darting her eyes around like a terrified animal.

“When I was up on that tree, I saw a bit of the surroundings. The forest stretches far into the north-east. Straight to the east is a human house, maybe a forester’s hut. There was just one smoke trail I saw, but who knows if there are more or not? South, there are plains, weirdly empty. May be some swamp, lake, or something a shade darker than grass way southwards. Westwards are mountains. Wherever we go, we need to secure a water and food source. Warmth too, depending on where we head to. I’d suggest staying away from the cave, the humans, and the mountains. So, either the forest, or better yet in my opinion, the plains. But if you’d rather elsewhere, just say. The goblin girl stays with us until her group won’t be able to chase us down even after we release her. It’s inconvenient, I know, but if she reports back to the whole goblin group about us, we’re dead meat in any case. I should have just tried to get Mother Rat to stop somehow,”

"If you are angry at me, I understand completely. It was a lapse of logic and judgement and I'm sure it would have been safer, perhaps even better, if I hadn't displayed mercy and just took her life outright...but I just couldn't do it. No. I wouldn't do it. Hell, I don't know why. I mean I've been killing out of necessity or self defense for the past few days, what's one more life taken to guarantee we make a safe escape? But When I looked at her, she seemed different from the other goblins we encountered in the cave. For what malicious cruelty you would see in a normally in a goblin's eyes, she only has a timid curiosity a child would. And I, for one, know that Edward Marsh is the kind of person that would never harm innocent people and even a lesser chance to harm children...but after recent events, I'm not too sure myself."

When they finally stopped for a moment, the girl sat down--or rather, collapsed on her knees and then fell back on her butt--and tried to breathe deeply through her nose. The constant tension of fear had probably tired her out much quicker than normal. Asteria offered her a Healing Herb, but she couldn't take it unless they removed the gag. When Asteria did, the goblin turned her head and coughed and spluttered until all the wood chips were out. She wiped at her tongue--that taste had probably been quite unpleasant.

"I, I not hurts t-too bads..." she said, "B-but I's hungry..." She accepted the herb hesistantly and munched on it while the other two examined their surroundings and debated the next course of action.

"I agree that we should definitely avoid the mountains and cave right now. We should check the hut out later, maybe in the middle of the night, but yeah. As of now, we ought to avoid people. I'm sure they won't take too kindly to our current forms. The plains is our best bet, but we can be easily seen there and there is no guarantee we can find a stable water and food source. But I will keep my promise and will find them as long as we still agree not to eat her. None the less you need to take a break from carrying her, just wait and rest here for a bit and I'll get us something to eat. Maybe even some spare herbs if I find some."

Ed could smell several new scents of plantlife now that they were further out in the plains. The tall grass was more than high enough to completely hide Asteria and Mother Rat if they were so inclined, and came up to Ed's chest even if he stood at his full height. He and the Goblin both had trouble walking in it, and had to push the grass in front of them over to one side. If they did this too much, however, it seemed they would leave an easily seen trail...

Aside from plain old regular looking tall, green, thin stalks of grass that made up the majority of the plains coverage, Ed also saw several new things. The one that had the closest scent to Healing Herbs was a tall flower patch of some kind. On long stalks, between 4 and 30 inches in length, big flowers with hairy leaves bloomed. The flowers were a light, almost neon blue at their tips and darkened from gray to black towards their centers--their petals were long and ray-like, growing from the center in clusters of at least a hundred petals or more. There was also a type of grass with green and red pellets of some kind growing in clusters along its length, the heaviest of these causing it to hang over like a fox's tail. The pellets were hard, like kernels of corn, and the reddest ones seemed the hardest while the green were softer.

Then there was a plant with blue and yellow blossoms, less than an inch across. Their stems were rather woody, and they were between 2 and 3 and a half feet tall, some growing even taller than Ed and the goblin. A few of them had a green, sticky substance leaking didn't smell too pleasant to Ed, kind of a soured milk scent. However, every once in a while he also caught a whiff of something minty, kind of like the flavor of Healing Herbs. Butterflies seemed to flock towards these plants. And near these same plants, another set of flowers grew. The same height as the others, these stems ended in pinecone-like protrusions, and had long, drooping purple petals. The cones were almost as large as Ed's fist, and the petals twice as long as his fingers.

But every so often there were also what looked like thorny weeds among the grasses and plants. If they wanted to harvest anything, they might need to be careful so as not to cut themselves. The thorns looked like small sewing needles, rather tiny but very sharp at their tips.

"U-um, can Jezee g-go now?" asked the Goblin, looking pleadingly at Asteria.


You used Magic Analysis I! This is a Monster, effectiveness reduced to 35%.
This Slime possesses no magical qualities that you can detect. Its MP is lower than your own.
---Analysis Complete!---

As Danny floated further away, out of the little nook in the wall, the Slimes were unable to follow him. Now he was completely out of their range. The one with the rock made a sound like a wet fart and popped the stone back out--it only arced a few inches into the air, and landed a foot away from the slime on the ground, harmlessly.

But even though Danny had a good distance head start on his adversaries, he decided to go for one more attack--a Rank II Mana Orb, which used more MP than the Mana Dart he had already used and the Lesser Force II he had been using.

The crackling energy blast tore through the slime, causing it to squeal in a loud, watery pitch as it shrank back. The green slime didn't seem to want any more of this, and began to huddle against the back of the wall. The yellow slime, however, saw the Wisp begin to fall.

Danny was out of MP!

And, as he managed to levitate just enough to soften his landing on the ground, he could no longer see any Mana Crystals around...The yellow slime began to lurch towards the edge of the rocky crevice, slowly dripping down the side of the wall...

??? Jason ???

You don't know everything...yet you will continue? You will make something, for yourself?

Jason went down the right passage, feeling as if he were on the world's longest rollercoaster. Lights and sounds were beginning to dim all around him...had he chosen wrong? He could barely hear the voice...

You were a Slime Mage. You were a warlord. You wanted power. You wanted to be born anew. You wanted to make something for yourself. You ARE Jason.

Suddenly Jason burst out of a white, misty cloud. He was back in the monochrome world, back in this empty, frozen space. The red light from the core had grown much brighter, much larger--it was like looking at the sun in the clear blue sky, except it was right here down on the earth, not up in the air.

He had freed himself of the mass of souls--he saw Rattleskull reaching for him with a roar, but the Bugbear, too, was drawn back into the writhing mass. They were beginning to lose cohesion, losing themselves, and they were being drawn towards the core like dust towards a vacuum...

"You make it out after all, Ja-Soon. Maybe ya not so dum afta all." Bonie Bitz had appeared again, sitting on top of a grayscaled rock and watching him with a smirk. She pointed--though time was still frozen, it seemed everything around them had moved somehow. Jason could now see Asura, and Momma Slime, and...was that Ardur? Why was he so much bigger than before? They were heading for the Dungeon Core...and a large number of Undead were heading for them.

"Da Core don't need ya no moar. Ya spirit free...if ya got da strength to BE free." She looked out towards the cave entrance, and sighed. "Ya lucky, Ja-Soon. Ya only had to hold yaself for a short bit. Bonie die long time ago. All da Old Gobs dies, too. Udda gobs too busy fightin' and not dyin' to tell da old stories. And now dey leavin'. And Bonie can't go wif 'em. Not strong enuff no more."

She pointed again. Back in the Nesting Area, there was...a tiny, golden glimmer?

"Betta hurry. Won't stay lucky foreva."

But behind Jason, the Dungeon Core was still pulling at him. And he had said himself that it needed to be dealt with. Something was different about this place, wasn't it? Didn't he want to see the Core, see how it was different in this place? Didn't he want to know what was happening to Rattleskull and the others? Maybe he could fix it. Bonie had just said she didn't have much strength anymore--HE had the power. Only he could do it. Only him...

Orchid's Tribe

You crafted an Item!
Fiber Cord (Average) + [Crafting Method]
Your Crafting IV skill prevents the degradation of your item!
Your crafting method is more efficient.
Your Crafting IV skill boosted the quality of your item!

Obtained Item: Vine Bracer (Above Average)!
A simple bracer made by wrapping vines in a compact manner. You have used a particular pattern to double up the layers of cordage. It is very vulnerable to Fire and Slashing damage. It provides only a small boost to your defenses.

None of the other goblins knew where Sqwal and Jezee had gone, although a few had seen them wander off into the woods at different times. Bigs jumped at the chance to follow Orchid, probably because he wanted to find something to fight and use his sling on. Crispy was more hesitant, as even though he had a green bandage wrapped around his arm now and the swelling had gone down significantly, he still couldn't use his fingers much at all and it hurt if anything even brushed it. He kept it tucked close to his body and carried a torch in his hand, and his stone knife in his teeth in case he needed to switch fast.

As the other goblins obeyed her orders--without as much sass as she had been used to before her evolution--Orchid and her little party headed into the forest. They searched in a wide arc, and after several minutes came across some trees to the south where it looked like something had been clipping the smaller branches off, and there was a brief sign of some kind of struggle.

They all immediately jumped on guard as something came rustling through the tall, thick grass up ahead--but it was soon revealed to be Sqwal, practically crawling out on his hands and knees.

"I sawed dems! Da big blue rat thing! Didn't look like a rat, looked like a gob wif rat fur and a rat head, but I sawed it! It and two udda rats, normal ones, dey took Jezee! And dey could talk!"

At this revelation, Crispy looked to Orchid.

"Yoona wuz right, Boss, can't trust dem udda monstas even if dey speak gob! We needs ta get Jezee back, kill dese ones, and den leave dem uddas alone til later!"
Ash, Digbie, Mourningstar, Oberon, Reoth, Torrent

Skill Rank Up: Meditate I > Meditate II! (2.025)
Increase the amount of Mana recovered. Low background noises, movements, etc (comparable to the common room of an Inn, a busy street at the market, etc) will no longer decrease the effectiveness of this skill so long as the user maintains stillness and a calm state of mind. This skill still cannot be used while moving or in the midst of battle. This skill cannot be used in conjunction with other Active skills.

Your MP is Full.

You used Analysis!
---Rubber Frog---
This frog's magical evolution certainly took an odd turn somewhere. The elasticity of its form, from its skin to its bones, is ridiculous. With a tongue that will stretch it has no trouble snagging flies, and it can expand its mouth wide enough to swallow many things whole. To intimidate predators it sometimes puffs itself up to enormous size. It has no magical abilities that you can tell. The Rubber Frog's hide retains its elasticity even after its death and after the hide dries. It might be suitable for crafting. Its flesh and bones, aside from being rubbery, don't seem that different from other amphibians and thus might be useful as materials.
---Analysis Complete!---

Skill Gain: Minor Regeneration I!
A spell that increases the target's natural healing ability, but over a period of time. Unlike Minor Heal, this spell can affect bones and deeper wounds, and may even increase the chance to resist certain diseases or other physical status effects for a target fighting off infection/injury. However, Minor Regeneration will not recover as much total HP as Minor Heal at equivalent ranks. At this rank, Minor Regeneration's effect will last for 30 seconds.

You used Magic Analysis I!
---Fire Breath I---
Inhale to gather oxygen, then use magic to ignite it as you breathe outward. At this rank this spell can only take one form, a cone that widens as it extends from the user. Your range is roughly 10 feet. This skill has roughly the same MP Cost as Fireball, but its damage depends on the target's range. A target at the edges of the cone will take less damage than they would from Fireball, whereas one that is in the center and close to you will take a fair amount more.
---Poison Breath II---
Whether by magic or biology, produce fumes projected from the mouth. This skill deals very low acidic damage and has a lower chance to poison an enemy than most other poison-type skills due to its lower density, but is ranged and covers a small area of effect. The fumes have a small chance to linger in the effected area for a short time. At Rank II, instead of only covering an area immediately around you, the fumes can now be focused into a cone in front of you. Your range is roughly 10 feet. This skill has roughly the same Stamina Cost as Poison Glob, but its damage depends on the target's range. A target at the edges of the cone will take the same damage they would from Poison Spit I, whereas one that is in the center and close to you will take a fair amount more. The fumes now linger for a full minute.
---Analysis Complete!---

Skill Development: The Stamina cost for Poison breath can now be somewhat offset by expending MP.

Ash's tail exercises seemed somewhat fruitful--she could feel herself working muscles that she had been unfamiliar with, and although a former scientist might not have gotten much exercise she no doubt knew that developing physical strength would take more than just a few reps. Especially when what she could do was already limited by her depleted stamina. Meditating helped with that, however, as the skill would restore both Mana and Stamina--though it seemed to restore MP at the faster rate. As she tried to focus her mana to her eyes, anyone else watching might notice the Pygmy Drake's eyes "glitter" like a raccoon caught in a flashlight's glare for a few seconds. Ash thought, perhaps, that she could see several slight, colored glows--but the next time she blinked that would be brought into question as to whether it was just the spots from eye strain or looking into something bright for a moment.

Digbie wandered a bit from the camp, out into the creek. He soon saw what looked to be a pile of mud near the base of the hill they had camped on, but as he approached the earthen clump shook itself off to reveal a Rubber Frog that had gone into hiding--most likely because of Zawisza. Upon seeing Digbie, the Frog croaked loudly and blinked, one huge eyeball at a time.

As the Demiblin prayed, however, bowing his head and calling out for some earth spirit or another to hear him...he might notice, upon the ground, a trail of sorts. Little bits of upraised earth, all going the same way--a mole's run, entirely identical to the little burrowers back in his Old World. It went off to the west, towards the mountains.

Once again Oberon's experimentation paid off--as he cast his spell upon himself, chanting all the while, his body was suddenly enveloped in a healthy green aura of sparkles. The System Notification triggered, telling him that the Minor Regeneration skill had finally come to fruition! He felt his MP decrease all at once--just like when he cast Minor Heal--but the effect of the spell lingered even after the initial amount of magic power was spent, without drawing anything further. Given his newly learned skill to gather mana from sunlight, and his increased meditation recovery ability, this presented some interesting possibilities...

As Torrent tried to mix her Poison and Fire Breaths, her first experiment proved rather dangerous. Before attempting the chant, she had simply tried to use them both at once. She felt her MP surging like it usually had when she used her few known spells--but it took more out of her this time, and felt like she was trying to do one of those coordination exercises. Like patting the top of your head while rubbing your belly and trying to keep each hand doing its own specific motion. The moment she "slipped" the two skills ceased. However, the dangerous part was that, as the Poison Breath's cloud of venomous fumes spread out, the Fire Breath caught it. There had been nothing to indicate thus far that any of the forms of Poison the reptile monsters utilized was flammable, but a natural property of fire was to consume any fuel as quickly as possible. With the vapors of venom being in a gaseous form--lighter than air and expanding rapidly--that meant the fire simply spread equally rapidly. Like a dust explosion caused by dropping a bag of flour near a gas-flame stove, Torrent's combined skills gave a great WHOOSH for a fraction of a second.

When she recovered from the momentary flash blindness and the slight pain of searing the inside of her mouth--despite her Fire Resistance?--Torrent would see that she had blackened a section of the cavern's wall, and after coughing a few times she'd notice she had also smoked up the air in the shelter somewhat. But ultimately, it didn't look like anything too bad had happened--certainly not like the last explosion she had experienced.

When she used the chant, again she felt her mana flowing...but this time, it seemed slightly more "focused." Once again, however, she could only multi-task for a sparse few seconds. But her breath now took up a more focused shape, Not-quite-like A Flamethrower. Slightly moving her head, she would be able to draw a charcoal-black line across the wall of the cave before her concentration dropped. At least she didn't almost blow herself up again. For now, it seemed like no new skill had developed as a result of this practice...although the System did mention something about her Poison Breath changing?

As Torrent prayed, the last of her flames lingering along the dirt wall petered out. The shadows they cast over the shelter danced before dwindling away...though Torrent's danced longer than the others as her shape was cast over the wall for just a moment.

But as the different members of the group each did their own thing...they heard that horn again, but this time it was much closer.

From his place in the creek, Digbie would see a sudden shadow fall over the campground from the top of the hill. Just over the edge of the slope, above their shelter's entrance, several shapes emerged.


There were five of them, just as green and gangly as they had been back at the cave. But their bearing and manner of dress were entirely different--unlike back at the cave, more than a handful of them actually had vines and leaves draped over their hips to hide their nudity. But several had also wrapped plantlife around their arms and legs, making crude sandals or foot bindings. Some had even taken broken off layers of rounded bark and lashed it to their limbs like shoddy armor. One of them held what looked like a broken off horn from a large cow or some similar creature, and this was what he had been blowing. He also had a pelt of some small creature, perhaps a rabbit or fox, around his shoulders. Another goblin, holding a handmade stone axe or celt much like what Rattleskull had used, had what looked like a skillet with a rope through the end of its handle hanging over his chest as a form of armor, and was using some filthy scrap of cloth as a bandanna. A third had a stone-tipped spear and seemed to have torn holes in a burlap potato sack, which she now wore like a ragged onesie.

The fourth had a long rope made of two thick vines braided together, one end of which was looped around his hands several times. He was the skinniest and most naked of the lot, with only his loins, hands, and feet covered by leaves and vine wraps. But with this rope, he was leading a large, mean looking creature...

It looked like a goat, but there was a predatory gleam to its eyes. Its fur was mostly white, but cow-spotted with large purple blotches that almost made it look diseased. Its horns were more jagged and vicious--and they split into two at the base, forking somewhat like a deer's. It only had four points, but each horn was a dark purple color that would bring to mind the liquid venom that Fanged Lizards spat. The four tips had been blunted by four chunks of cork-like wood stuck onto them, making it look somewhat like its head had been used to roast marshmellows.

And sitting atop this goat, trying to draw himself up as high as he could get, was the fifth goblin. Every goblin the group had seen thus far was between three and three and a half feet tall. Rattleskull had been about four and a half feet, and Digbie was taller too now that he had evolved. This goblin, however, seemed about in the middle of that--not quite four feet, but clearly taller than most goblins should be. His muscles, as well, seemed much larger--normally Goblins had the build of malnourished children if they were weaker, and normal children if they were strong enough to feed themselves regularly. This one, however, actually looked...somewhat formidable. Certainly not as strong as Rattleskull, but more physically developed than Digbie, even considering his recent transformation. The goblin had one leather boot on one foot that was clearly too big for him, so much so that the entire toe section had been cut off, probably to keep it from flopping about and hitting him in the knees when he ran. It had been more firmly fastened to his leg by vines. He also wore a pair of what seemed to be boxers, made from plain white cloth originally but now so filthy they could pass for brown or black in some places. Though on an average human they likely would have only covered the groin area, on the goblin they came down past his knees. And the most impressive piece of his ensemble was an actual maille shirt--made of interlocking chain pieces, it had originally been a smaller, less expensive piece probably only intended to cover the upper arms and down to the wearer's waist. Many of the links near the bottom looked like they had been broken at some point, but even after this damage it came past the goblin's hips and the sleeves reached to his elbows. The entire thing dangled loosely off his form and jingled whenever he moved, or rather when the goat underneath him shifted its weight irritably. And in another first, this goblin had an actual, proper weapon--a long knife, the kind that looked to be made for fighting instead of hunting or cutting food. It was even held in a proper belt and scabbard draped across his shoulder and around his waist in mailbag fashion. With this, and a wooden pot-lid hanging over his back that he probably used as a shield, this Goblin clearly established himself as the leader of this small band.

He pointed at Digbie.

"Demi-Goblin! I bes Rags Nar, da chief Gob of Broked Tower Tribe! My scouts founded youse an' yer magic pets, on our territory! We seens wut you been doin', and I brings my best warryers t' show youse dat we means bizzyness!" He looked authoritively at the two goblins with weapons. "Do it!"

Both goblins nodded, then began to slowly walk down the hill. They stared at Digbie intently, their fingers clenching and unclenching on the haft of their respective club and spear. Almost at the same time, they took deep breaths, then suddenly lunged forward--

And threw themselves face down on the ground.

"PLEEEEEEEASE come bes part of our tribe Great Demi-Gob! Please please please please!"

"We need--I means, we could use a mighty Demi-Gob of yore, uh, talons!" Rags Nar continued while his underlings held up their hands like begging puppies. "We gots food! And uh, lots of purty wimmin gobbos! Say, you likes mah goat!? We can getcha a goat just like dis--no, betta! Whaddya say!?"

"Please please please please please please please please please please!?"

Asura, Momma Slime

Trying to transfer an education gained in increments over a lifetime wasn't as simple as it sounded; as Asura flooded the bigger slime with knowledge of numbers, she lurched away from him with a grumble.

"Hurt, Ahsoowah!" she whined, her membrane trembling. In the brief moment before she broke contact with him, Asura saw the memory of when Jason's Mind Wave hit her--and realized just what kind of damage that spell had done. The closest thing he could think of to describe it was like inflicting a light stroke on someone--a sensation the mentally undeveloped slime had never experienced before. Just like she had never experienced all the different things Asura had been showing her. When he emphasized that Magic Resistance would allow her to not be hurt, the blue slime burbled rapidly. She extended a pseudopod in the air again, just like holding down a single button.

"Not liek Mageek!" she said resolutely. But after several seconds, she wobbled in confusion. "Ahsoowah! Not git skeelz! Want Mageek Weesistese!" She compressed herself in a way that gave the distinct impression she was pouting. If her Magic Resistance had been at 0.2, and Leveling only gave her 5 points to spend, then even spending all of them wouldn't have been enough for her to activate the skill. "Not liek skeelz no moar."

You are Fine.


When Asura stopped focusing on the sizzling sensation, it seemed to immediately go away. He was able to move a little bit again...until--

You have run out of Stamina again. HP Drain triggers at a faster rate, but HP Drain itself remains at the same rate currently.

But as Asura and Momma Slime waited for Ardur to finish his evolution--which, as they heard a cracking sound, might be soon--they soon began to notice something unusual.

The Mana Crystals up above them, and a few clusters they could see on walls or rocky outcrops in the distance, began to break. Starting from their roots, the crystals cracked along their facets as if struck with invisible hammer blows. But just before they would have fallen apart, dropping to the ground like shattered glass, they instead began to dissolve. Asura had never used them himself, but he had probably seen other creatures do so. Just like when someone crushed and absorbed them to recover MP, the crystals disintegrated into a fine powder that drifted on an unseen, unfelt breeze.

They were inside a cave, aside from the occasional draft there should not be any "wind." Yet all the crystals, as they were reduced to glimmering dust, were being blown in the same direction--towards that same, urgent call Asura could still feel, even though he had forcibly ignored it.


As Ardur spoke, his own words brought forth images all around him, as if he had been dropped into the most immersive virtual reality environment ever created. Were they his own memories, his own imagination brought forth by his own knowledge of history, of mankind's tendencies, no matter how obscure or subconscious such knowledge had become to him? Or were they images of this world, brought forth by his out of body experience into a vast sea of...something?

"The sun is a constant in this unknowing world."

A hand lifted to shield the eyes from this bright, ever-present thing as a being emerged from a cave. Primitives crowded around a slain beast, pulling and sawing at its flesh with fragments of rock. As light fell over the lands, plants opened up their buds and put forth fruit. As long as the sun was there, they could see. As long as the sun was there, the plants would grow. From grass to animal to predator to death and back to the earth, the cycle started with the sun. And the sun was always there--except when it wasn't.

The moon rose. The night fell. The darkness, the ocean, the earth, the wind, the mountains...they were constant, always there, but if the stars and sun faded beyond the horizon they always returned. All of these things and many more existed long before the primitive came out of its cave. What were they? What dangers did they bring? What wonders?

"Something to depend on when it is needed, something to be praised when it is not."

The primitives, now wearing clothes they made from plants, sat around a fire. They cooked a slain beast, and carved its flesh with knives made from stone and bone. Their children sat around them as the elders told them what they needed to know to survive--the tales of sun, and moon, and night, and darkness, and ocean, and mountain. How they brought danger and wonder. How to understand them. But the children did not understand them. How could Sun bring plants to life when it was so high in the sky? How did Sun give them sight when they could see by Fire's light? So the elders changed the tales, made Them "like" other things that the children understood--fathers, mothers, warriors, healers, chieftains. And Sun and Moon and all the Others were not praised--they Were. They always Were. And they were needed to survive. It was necessary that the children understand them.

"A symbol of hope and promise of a better tomorrow."

Ardur could see, above everything else he saw, the sun shining as it always had. But now its light considered him, while centuries continued to play out between them.

"Hope? Promise? Beings hope. Beings promise. Why hope in the Sun? Why does the Sun owe you promise? The Sun Was and Is, and one day Will Not Be."

The children of the children of the children's children appeared. They were many and they were different.

"I seek its light, so that I may become stronger with the sun's help. So that I may be able to protect those that I surround myself with as friends and family."

Some of these children were now Men, and they stood upon great towers of stone. They lashed a still-living beast to an alter, and pierced its heart with a blade of crudely shaped metal raw from the earth. They brought forth coals, and burned flesh and bone. They waved great fans, made from the leaves of plants that would also bear grain, grain from the fields that stretched out far beyond their many huts and walls. They fanned the smoke higher, and higher, to the Sun. The Sun was "like" a king, and kings protected their lands and peoples. In return the people gave the king money, or labor, or men for his army. But they understood now that the Sun gave warmth, and harvest, and seasons, and day, so they had to find and give something else. The others, like Moon and Mountain and Wind and Ocean, gave other things, and Men gave them different things in return...

"To be their light on the darkest of days. Because she..." As Ardur looked away the stone towers disappeared, and he saw that some of these children were Not Men. One of them, their great king, made fire and water appear from his hands and moved earth with his words. They wanted him to hold the sun and make day longer, but knowing the limits of his power he instead told them he would grant them each a small piece of the sun. He taught them to make fire without smoke and place it in their homes. Not Men and Men alike began to think and do and be different than they were before as the world turned. The Sun and Moon and Others stayed as they Always Were.

"Because when I see the love of my past life and this life again, I don't want her to see me as a monster. I want her to see me as I was. A good man that cared about others and their well being. A man that defended others from the monsters." Ardur looked back up at the sun, but around them new images continued to play. The children of the children of Men and Not Men and Other Men gave new names to new things, and sought to understand them and why they were necessary. They tried to teach their children how they brought danger and wonder. And these tales were "like" the old tales that a rare few remembered.

"Beings have given the Sun many names and many meanings. For many Beings, understanding agency, creating reason, forever seeking, and always asking were the methods of their survival. Did the Wind rustle the brush, or the Lion? The Being who assumed Wind did not always survive. If No Man threw the stone, did the Unseen Unknown Being cause the stone to fall? Why is it Unseen and Unknown? The Man who did not seek to understand did not always survive." Ardur could sense by the tone of this Unseen and Unknown Being that it wasn't asking him a true question anymore. Like an elder speaking to a child, it wanted him to understand. Or...did It want to understand him?

"Ardur. You seek hope. You seek fortune--that things will be better soon than they are now, that better times are coming. You seek strength. You seek to protect. You seek love. The Sun Is and Has Been only light, and heat, and energy--The Sun is only a reaction of That which initiates, which activates. This Sun is a Mover but was not Unmoved. The Sun cannot give you Hope, Fortune, Strength, Protection, or Love. But Beings have imposed their Wills upon the Sun for these and many others. What was given to the Sun, the Sun could give back, with some spark of light, and heat, and energy. Thus Wills took on Power. To give and receive Power from another Will--is that your Will, Ardur?"

"Whatever the cost, whatever it takes." Ardur's determination burned. The images around him began to dissolve into glowing light--the sun seemed to be expanding, as it were going to swallow him. He was being pulled back towards his body--but he struggled to stay aloft. As the sparkles of light, like those dust motes he saw back in the cave, fluttered past him they whispered in hundreds of voices, reverent and wondrous...

"The light of the sun makes everything grow..." "The sun moves across such a vast must ride upon something like a chariot or great beast..." "If the sun travels across the sky it must be watching over us all..." "The sun makes the world warm again after Winter..." "Scary things come at night, but when the Sun comes up they run away in fear..." "If the Sun makes our crops prosperous, chases away enemies and danger, watches over us, and rides a splendid mount, then the Sun must be a Guardian!"

These voices overlapped until their sound took on shape. Ardur could see a figure standing near him, and wearing a knight's armor. He held a mighty bridle in his gauntleted fist.

"The plants feed off the light of the sun like a baby drinking milk to grow large..." "The bright light of the sun is so beautiful, isn't it? It reflects off water like gemstones..." "At the end of the day the sun moves but also becomes smaller and smaller, and in the morning becomes larger and larger. It is like an eye that shuts and opens..." "If the sun is a giant eye, then whose eye is it?" "If the sun is the great eye of one who loves to look at beautiful things and nurtures plants like children, then the Sun must be a Mother!"

Another figure stood next to the first, and gazed at Ardur with a great, blindingly bright Eye. She wore many gems and rings.

"At night, the Moon and the Stars come out, but in the day they creep away and only clouds and birds dare to fly in the sky with the Sun. Why does it allow this?" "Birds have fierce claws and their screech inspires terror. I have seen them hunt--they are like skilled warriors. Perhaps they serve the Sun?" "On the rare days the clouds bring rain over the sands, great sounds of rumbling and crashing come from the sky! Perhaps the clouds are enemies, and the Sun and his bird-warriors are waging a great war!" "If the Sun has warrior servants, and makes all other stars flee from him, and wages battle over his lands...then the Sun must be a mighty King!"

A third figure appeared, larger and brighter than the others, wielding a sword. A falcon perched upon his shoulder, and he fed it while stroking its feathers.

There were many other voices, and other Figures, but Ardur could not hold himself up any longer. He plummeted back towards the earth. The Sun became a small dot in the sky once more, but the three figures were still peering down at him. They seemed to be waiting and watching--or perhaps they were listening. Waiting for him to call out...

He slammed through the roof of the cave and back into his body.

The gray shell formed by Ardur's wings cracked open, little flakes peeling away like crumbling autumn leaves. On instinct he emerged, crawling like a newborn as he stretched his new body. With every breath he heard cracking and popping as if his muscles hadn't been flexed in hours. But when Ardur finally stood, and looked down at himself...

He looked pretty much the same, all things considered. If anything, his skin tone had grown healthier and deeper. His hair was more voluminous and longer. His wings were stronger and larger--and it felt that he could move them more precisely, as well. If he relaxed them, instead of folding behind him like a dragonfly they now hung somewhat like a stiff cape down his back. His chest still bore those three scars and his hands were still stained...

But now, he stood a full foot and a half taller than before, not quite as tall as any Goblin but much larger and broader than a Pixie. His body had become more muscular--or rather, the muscles he had actually looked like they fit this body, whereas before he had stacked muscle on a frame that clearly wasn't meant for it. Still, it seemed obvious given the degree of tone and size now present that a normal Hipixie still wouldn't be this...buff.

Pixie > (Immature) Mighty Hipixie!
Your base stats have increased!
Your Max HP has increased! (This will not recover your current HP)
You have not reached your full Potential. Use Light Equipment is reduced.

You gained the Variance, Mighty!
The Stronger skill has increased, the new total is (2.1)!

You possess the skills Stronger II and Physical Conditioning I.
Use Light Equipment is boosted, the new total is (1.0)!

Skill Gain: Inspire I (1.0)!
Expend MP to imbue your words with magic, and cheer yourself or an ally. The target's next action will be boosted, whether it be an attack skill, a healing spell, or anything else. This Skill will not work if the target cannot receive your inspiration, but they may not necessarily have to hear you. If the Target is under a Curse or other debilitating effect, your Inspiration may cancel it out temporarily or undo it if the same action is being affected (attack power that has been lowered by a rank I Curse might be returned to normal by a rank I Inspiration, for example).

Skill Gain: Guidance I (1.0)!
Your pleas have been heard. Offer up a portion of your MP in prayer, and gain a chance to receive supernatural guidance. The effectiveness of the teachings depends on your faith--and your ability to read the signs. Does rustling grass along the path show your way, or reveal danger? Was that a whispered voice, or just the wind? Your faith will shape your journey. The better your relation with a particular deity, the more likely you are to receive their guidance.

Skill Gain: Spell Chant I (1.0)!
Magic is the unison of Nature, Spirit, and Will. Language is the expression of Will. Using personalized language as an aid in manipulating one's energy is the first step to conceptualization and understanding of what Magic truly is. Using a previously existing Spell Skill as the Base, you may enact one (1) alteration of the spell's typical qualities. Spell Chants will delay casting time by a default of 10 seconds, as any chant shorter than this will be ineffective. The more complex the chant, the greater the alteration, but also the greater the increase to MP cost; by default the spell's cost is increased by a further 50% of its initial value.

Skill Rank Up: Stronger I > Stronger II (2.1)!
Your base physical strength has increased even further! --You possess the Use Light Equipment skill, but with this increase to your stats there may be some other forms of equipment you can wear without the proper skills. For instance, you may meet the requirement for a larger weapon if you are holding it in both hands or using your body more efficiently to lift and swing it. However, sub-enhancements for this equipment will be greatly diminished.--

Skill Gain: Use Light Equipment (--)!
The use of small tools, and lighter forms of armor, weaponry, and other items. --Due to your size as a Hipixie, even some Small items may be too large or heavy for you to use effectively.--

Again, Ardur felt that call from before--much stronger now, more urgent. As if someone needed him, as if they were calling out for help. And as he soon observed Asura and Momma Slime nearby, he also saw the Mana Crystals beginning to dissolve and flow towards that strange beacon...

Asteria, Ed, Mother Rat

As Ed looked around, he soon saw a Gnarled Stick lying on the ground where it had fallen from some tree at some time. It wasn't sharp and had no edges, but it was a decently hefty piece of wood with a thick knot in it, and would make a workable cudgel. Just as he darted behind another tree to hide, he saw several sticks drop out of the tree Asteria and Mother Rat had climbed. As they clattered to the forest floor, whatever was in the bushes suddenly stopped cold. Asteria, sneaking down the other side of her tree, soon stealthed her way through the grass to Ed's side--just as a green figure emerged from the bushes.

A small female goblin, carrying some frayed cordage made of fiber and a thick stick that might have been a burned-out torch, moved into the open and glanced around. She seemed timid, and was somewhat smaller and less mature than any of the other goblins the rats had seen in the cave.

"Coulda I swored I saw a blue gobby-lookin' ting..." the Goblin whispered to herself. She soon noticed the pile of sticks, and hesitantly approached them. "All dese just fall out...maybe birdy nest?" She leaned over to get a closer look at them.

At this point, Ed and Asteria might notice Mother Rat creeping out on a thinner branch up above the Goblin, hackles raised and fur bristling...


Danny wasn't able to turn in time before the Slime had pressed him upon the ground, but although it was heavy the Slime's body didn't have the kind of muscle or leverage to put up a lot of resistance to being moved. The Wisp's Lesser Force shoved it off of him, freeing Danny and allowing him to either get into the air or back out of his little nook in the cave wall--either way, he would be out of reach of the Slimes, one of which stretched out a pseudopod in a failed swipe. The two blobs gurgled incoherently, apparently frustrated with their lack of reach--now that their initial ambush had failed, it seemed they didn't have many options to continue their attack. One of them, however, seemed to think of something--it slurped up a nearby rock, and began rolling it around inside itself as if trying to get a good grip on it...

??? Jason ???

As Jason reached out again, his green pseudopod changed to a dark-skinned hand, with five fingers, a few scars, and rough, calloused palms from a life of hardship. When he touched the image of the green slime, a ringing chime rang throughout this empty void...

Suddenly the image enlarged and zoomed towards him, and like being thrown through a window he suddenly began falling past more images, falling so fast that still forms blurred into animated film. His entire life--the second life, that of Jason the Slime Mage--played out before him, and though he couldn't see anything beyond a bright light at the bottom of this drop, he felt that the solid ground was rushing up faster and faster--although for some reason, his vision seemed to be out of focus, as if that exit at the end of this path were splitting into two...

"Yes, power is just a tool to you. It's just a necessary tool, so you wanted more of it. It'd be best if you could have all of it. Only you should have it, right? Your requests were always reasonable, weren't they? The others are simply foolish and arrogant. They don't understand anything. They don't know anything. You know best. Your reasoning is the best. You're the only one who knows everything--you didn't know if Asteria or Ed had any magic at all, but you did have magic, so therefore that was all that mattered, right? There was no other use for the Magic Crystals but to be your fuel. Everything in this world exists for you...right?"

The fork in the path was getting closer...but what choice was this? There was no indication of what was what, or where either would take him--did he have only the strange, emotionless yet judgmental voice to go on?
Asura, Momma Slime

"But hungree!" Momma Slime protested. She didn't spit the lizard out, but it didn't look like it was being digested yet either. As Asura tried to mentally pass images to her, demonstrating his advice on her skills, she wobbled with confusion. "Wut three? Fastah? Fow? Mageek...Weesistese?" She grumbled and used a pseudopod to "kick" at a loose pebble on the ground. "Not kno dat. Not like dese skeelz."

As Asura tried to focus on resting, contemplating how much he had been eating lately, he could feel the weight of the food sitting in his "stomach." Lying here and resting, however, was no different than sleep. It would recover his stamina, but he wanted it to come back was the only "resource" he couldn't immediately recover, like Healing Herbs did for HP and Mana Crystals did for magic. Although, thinking about magic...

As Asura continued to make an "effort" to "rest" in a paradoxical fashion...slowly, he began to feel a burning sensation in his deepest gut. Not a literal feeling, or a painful one...simply the feeling of something inside him "sizzling..."


Ardur ignored the call coming from that red beacon, and even his own body. Instead he pushed towards the ray of sunlight. But his astral form somehow felt heavy, and slow. It was like swimming through pudding...

But the light pulled at him. It wanted to see him as much as he wanted to touch it. He reached the singular shaft of gold shining in this odd dark realm--and was jerked into it.

In an instant he was drawn up, up, up. A vast forest, mountains, a distant body of water, a far away city, an island cloaked in clouds and lightning--it all moved past him in a blur too indistinct to matter. In mere seconds he was miles above the world, above a planet that spun at thousands of miles per hour. But what was below him did not matter. What drew his attention was above.

The sun. In the Old World, hydrogen fused into helium billions of times within this star in an instant, producing seemingly infinite energy. Light, heat, flame, wave upon wave of unfathomable energy. If not for this, this nuclear engine placed hanging in an empty void, the Old World would have no life. But in this world...

Ardur felt as if he were being watched. As if he were being prodded. As if he were being...considered.

"What is the Sun? Why praise the Sun? Why seek its glorious incandescence?"

Ardur felt as if a stone were sinking in his belly, drawing him back down, down, down to the dark cave...

Asteria, Ed, Mother Rat

Mother Rat pressed her belly to the ground as the other two gestured for her to follow, wriggling her hindquarters as she sneaked with the expertise only a natural rodent could sneak. As they left the cave, they could still see Crispy arguing with the fatter goblin. By the time they reached the treeline, however, it seemed they were finished with whatever discussion they had. Crispy slapped the fatter one, who bumbled towards the woods--but by the time he crashed through the bushes, the rats were further along, and he was too focused on doing whatever Crispy had ordered him to do to be looking for any rats.

Using several abilities together Asteria was able to scale the tree slowly but steadily, and its thick foilage gave her plenty of hiding places as she scurried along the branches. Mother Rat followed her up, leaving Ed to watch their rear below, but the older rat stopped after only a few branches and seemed nervous about Asteria going up higher. They were Dire Rats, after all, not squirrels.

As Asteria reached the top of the trees, poking her head out with a tuft of leaves, she could now see further than ever before, especially thanks to her enhanced senses. The two rats had headed southward, so they were now among a small grouping of trees that seemed more like an offshoot of the forest rather than being part of it. This line grew thinner and thinner the further south one went, and soon turned from proper woods to a copse or two scattered among thick brush along the ground. Back behind them of course, the forest grew thicker and thicker to the north. To the east the trees expanded as well, but there also looked to be something out there--a large clearing that had smoke coming up from it. It had to be coming from a chimney of some kind, as it was too large to come from a regular campfire. To the west, the enormous mountains loomed in the distance.

But further beyond that southern treeline, Asteria could see gently rolling hills give way to flat country, and then long grass as far as her eyes could see. The sky met the edge of her sight, and the horizon drew the curvature of the earth along the grassland. The closer to the mountains one stayed the more hilly the area became, but out there in the plains it seemed...completely empty. Though, one bit of the distant vanishing line was a little darker than the rest...

Down below, Ed caught a whiff of something fruity from deeper within the forest...and also the smell of something smoky. It wasn't a fire, but perhaps something that had been in a fire, or near it, often enough to take on some of the smell. There was also the slightest scent of dirt, earthen soils and vegetation--but was that coming from some creature that was dirty, or simply from the environment all around them?

Something rustled in the brush further into the forest...


As Danny used three of his skills in concert, focusing his Mana Orb into a sharper, sturdier, denser shape, he felt a tingle of magic flowing through him. Upon firing the projectile, the arrow-head shape held strong. Moving significantly faster than before, it struck the yellow slime with a squelching sound--the projectile pierced easily through the gelatinous membrane, prompting a high pitched, phlegmy screech from the creature as it tumbled to the ground. The hole the magic attack left behind began to close up, but the creature still moved as if it were hurt--it hadn't truly "regenerated," but its fluid body simply filled in the gaps.

However, it wasn't dead, and its partner hadn't been damaged at all. Danny hadn't moved either, and now the green slime landed on him heavily as it dropped from the ceiling. The Wisp felt an intense pain as the breath was driven from him and he was crushed against the ground. The green slime was still on top of him--and he could feel its membrane against him, oozing over his body! If he didn't do something soon, it would envelop him!

You used Monster Analysis II!
A monster made of living bioplasm, able to adjust its shape and membranous forms at will to a limited extent. Slimes are amorphous creatures more similar to undeveloped egg yolks, yet they are able to move on their own and digest prey. Their bodies are highly resistant to physical damage and malleable.
---Analysis Complete!---

Skill Gain: Mana Dart I!
A focused magic projectile that deals non-elemental Magic damage and Piercing Damage. Higher cost than Mana Orb but increased range, speed, and damage. However, its smaller size makes it less accurate.


??? Jason ???

Jason reached out to tap the box filled with undulating static. He noticed as he did so that he touched it with a green pseudopod.

"Your only goal was to kick ass and take names. To be stronger than before." The voice was...monotonous? Female? Distorted. Robotic? Masculine. Powerful? Faint. A whisper. A recording? "You assumed to be like the apex predator. To find water, to find prey. But your rashness showed you your limits." Jason would remember in a flash of insight how he paddled helplessly in the water after assuming he could swim like a crocodile. Had it not been for some quick and creative thinking, would he have ended up food for...whatever was in the pool?

"You witnessed the nature of this world, survival of the strong. You saw an opportunity to make an ally. You withdrew from a threat you knew you could not handle...and immediately began plotting their future demise. You trained to become stronger. Joined forces with a brother. Your first thought upon finding other "heroes" such as yourself was to secure alliances for survival. You wanted power. To survive? To rule?"

The memories of his previous life played out somewhat distantly. It had been only days, yet somehow felt like months had passed.

"Eliminate the threats. Your first and only plans for those who oppose you. Betrayal, your greatest fear and unavoidable fate. You had to be the first one to set the terms for an alliance. They owed you the Mana Crystals, and the other resources. You had to be the one in control. You had magic. You had power. Why did Asteria have to skew everything to her twisted point of view? They should have had faith in you. You didn't know them, so you had to be in charge to make sure they could be trusted. They just had to have faith in you, because you can be trusted. You're in control."

Jason couldn't figure out, from the distorted, digitized tone of voice, whether it was just stating his thoughts or mocking him. After all, it felt like...a really long time...since some of those things had happened. This new world had changed him, hadn't it?

"You knew you had to go. Something was happening. You had to be part of it. It can't happen without you. It won't be right. You have to be there to guide it. They found the cache, they drove the Goblins from the Bonfire. Now it was your time. Your time to swoop in and turn this rabble into a real army. The goblins were going to come back. You could protect them all. You were the seasoned commander. They needed to be good soldiers."

"Mourningstar. She didn't want to listen from the start, did she? No wonder she betrayed you later. How furious did that make you? Why? Why didn't she listen? But you protected them. You kept the filth away from your comrades.

You proved that you were strong. You transformed, became greater. This was only the beginning. You could grow stronger, be better...better than before. Stronger than the Old Life. You defeated Rattleskull--you were the one to end his wretched life.

And you were chosen.

You became the boss because no one else could. It had to be you, of course. The core picked you. All you wanted was to learn, to understand, and to become stronger. To do that you had to use the core. To do that you had to protect the cave. You had to protect your soldiers. But the core was trying to influence you. You didn't want it to, you knew it was trying to subvert your will. You had to be in control. You had to be the strong one. But you wanted some of the same things the core wanted. That was okay, wasn't it? Gathering the undead, that was okay. You were putting them to a purpose. You were going to free their souls. Using them as labor and as soldiers was just part of the process. A means to an end. They were yours to do with as you pleased anyway, weren't they? It was only right. You were the Boss. You had the power. You had control.

But the others didn't understand. They were fools! They were traitors! They were sickening! Destroying what you created! Destroying what you built! The Core wanted them gone--but you weren't being controlled by the core! You wanted them gone! Because you were in control. Not the core. Right?"

All these images playing through his head, Jason could see them from a completely different perspective. Right now he was outside looking in. Right now he was completely tranquil and clear. Right now he was uninfluenced, he was pure, he was truly in control of himself.

Did everything still look right to him?

"You did not and would not negotiate. You did not and would not retreat. You fought to the end and sought to deny the foe the victory. You died. What should you have done? It does not matter. Were you right or wrong? It does not matter. Actions were taken, consequences happened. Your life, up til now, led to your death."

The white void around Jason was becoming darker. Those images, his "choices," were beginning to flicker. A new picture appeared--a Skeleblin.

"How much of the Core was in you, Jason? How much of Jason was in the Core? Do you submit to death? Is this the end of your story? Are there no more chapters?" The voice asked one last question.

"Who and What are You?"



"Of course I do!" Kenichi drew himself up proudly, jabbing his chest with his thumb. He had, as a matter of fact, been trying to memorize the class roster so he could remember everyone's names! "It's Kishimoto Tomoe!" Having defeated her challenge quite handily, he smiled and pointed right back at her just as dramatically.

"If ya wanna be my RIVARU for the Main Character seat, you'll have to do a lot better than that!" Then he laughed, and once more patted her head jokingly.

"But hey, glad to see you're feelin' better now! And glad to meet ya "officially," and all that." He looked down the hallway. He wondered if Roy and Jett had left the Training Room with Ms. Mako yet, and if that meant he'd have some time to get some weightlifting or bag work in before he headed to the dorms to get something to eat. But now came the awkward part, where you weren't really sure how to part ways with someone you had been talking to without making it awkward. "Uh, but your friend Hi-chan, I don't guess I know her? I think I've seen her around and all but she's not in our class. Is she a different department, or one of the B-class kids?"
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