The silver's hollow eyes starred at me for a second. It turned around, running away. Before it escaped, I gripped it with a gravity well. I stepped forward, the dim lights obscuring his operating table. Embedded into the skin of the espen was strands of silvers.
The tiny, gray insects dug their feet into the espen. They interlocked, creating panels of metal on the skin of the poor man. I tapped a few of the moving the bugs. They crawled away from my fingertip as if I was their kryptonite.
I sighed, "Whether you're the cult or not, you're definitely not a good guy." I looked up at the shivering silver suspended midair by magic. I shook my head in disgust. If my working theory was right, then this was what the cult was.
Someone fused silvers with espens, and now these mutants were running amuck in Icosah. At least it was an easy fix for me.
I laid a hand onto the unconscious espen. My armor expanded over him, consuming the silvers with surgical precision. Seconds later, my armor retracted, and the espen was cleansed. Wounds littered him from where the silvers once were, but the injuries would heal.
I shivered a bit at the sight before looking around. As useful as Hunter of Many was, I preferred looking around with my eyes instead of my ears. With that in mind, I grabbed a glowing manastone from the side of the surgeon's table.
I charged it with mana, and the stone shined a bright, crimson light. I walked around, inspecting the rest of this hell hole. I found other bodies of espens already consumed by silvers. In fact, silvers were everywhere.
They reinforced the building, the steel reinforcement was made of them. I looked closer. Silvers made up most of the tools, the table, even the skin of the surgeon.
I cleared these hidden threats, walking up to them and letting my armor eat them. After a few minutes, the only silvers left were supporting the entire area. I sat and waited here for a few minutes. As I did, I inspected my cipher augmentations.
[Modifications - The dimensional fabric composing this structure has been modified with code from the dimensional cipher. With mana, further bonuses can be applied. The bonuses are as follows:
+100% to effect of legacies
+50% to internal motivation]
I raised my eyebrows up at the increase in perception. 80 was nothing to scoff at in as little as a day of the cipher running. I tapped my chin, thinking about it. I came to a simple yet profound conclusion.
The less an attribute had been upgraded, the easier it was to improve.
The perception bonus outsped my endurance enhancements. Without a doubt, I understood endurance better than perception. With that cause out of the way, it left one apparent reason; my perception was low.
This would explain why Schema has level caps. As you gain more and more levels, attributes require more and more mana to augment. That means putting hard caps prevented anyone from over leveling. It meant investing more into endurance was a waste of time.
Well, for now at least. Having so much endurance let me enhance the other attributes much faster. That alone made all the investment worth it up until this point. If I caught up my other attributes some, it would buff me quite a bit. At the very least, it would help round out my build.
Armed with that knowledge, I stood up and heard rumbling. I glanced up at the silver surgeon I kept suspended,
"Looks like your friends are here."
I stood up, threw my manastone, and hid in some shadows. Minutes later, one of the silver infested espens rose up from the entrance. Its feet flopped on the ground, a rancid smell wafting inside. The creature sucked up the toxins, cleaning himself and his surroundings.
The creature walked up to the table, a brown hood draped over its face. It sniffed the air, wheezing like it was exhausted. It turned its face towards me right as I lunged out. I grabbed my hand around the hooded figure's neck, pulling it up off the ground.
Before it fought back, I dug my armor into it. The beast howled like a banshee. It gurgled from under its hood, vomiting up the mush onto me. It poured over my suit, and I kept picking the silver out of it. Within a minute, the monster stopped fighting back.
I shook my head at the sorry sight. The espen underneath the hood had been half silver. Very little of it remained. Its wounds didn't bleed, however. Without a DOT stopping his healing, the native would eventually return to full health.
I continued this cycle for several hours. I collected a pile of twelve espens, some of them children. It was an ugly affair. When we killed the plague victims from Yawm, the humans were dead. These people were alive though. Seeing living experiments...I don't know. Seeing it first hand was harder then I expected.
I swallowed my discomfort, pushing it down. I didn't have time for disgust. After waiting a few more hours, something rumbled against the side of the building. At this point, I was pretty sure I collected the normal espens. This wasn't a normal one outside.
I braced myself, ready for it to spring inside. Nothing happened. Another quake rippled through the building. I charged my mana, getting myself prepared for the worst. A few seconds later, and a figure phased through the wall.
It was a spider creature, being thin and spindly. Four legs on its back supported its main body, the other two arms ending in stretched hands. It glanced around, emitting the sound of chirping cricket. Seconds later and Schema translated the voice,
"A hunter is here..."
Its eyes snapped onto mine, eight black pupils staring at me,
"There you are."
I stood up, raising my palms up, "I'm not a hunter. I'm here to save the poor bastards. What are you here for?"
An old, worn out cloak covered most of the creature, hiding its body. Beneath the fabric, something squirmed as the creature hissed,
"These are our test subjects. You've destroyed our research. You will be...eliminated."
The beast raised a hand, but I raised a palm, "Wait one second. I'm not your enemy."
Eyelids narrowed on all its eyes. It clicked out its words, "Your actions tell a different story."
I kept my hand up, "What are you researching and why? We might not have opposite goals."
The creature stood still, almost like a phantom. Mana built in my blood, the energy collecting over each second. A bit longer and I'd unleash a singularity.
"You smell...of Old One. Who do you serve?"
I frowned, "I don't serve anyone. I've done a few tasks for Etorhma."
The wiry creature took a few steps back, "You...you are an avatar...You killed the World Eater..."
It nodded, moving its mandibles and fangs as it did, "I follow an Old One as well. I've spoken to him. He is interested in you."
I grimaced, "Wait...Already? Do you have a telepathic link or?"
The monster's head twitched, "I have heard but the faintest whisper of his being. His voice echoes in your mind long after he has left. I trembled before it. I listen to its echoes, and they whisper out his demands."
At this point, I understood one thing for sure - I was talking to a lunatic.
"Uh...sure. Of course."
Pressing his elongated fingers together, the creature hissed, "Eonoth wishes to speak with you."
I raised a finger at the creature, "Oh fuck no. I don't want anything to do with this Eonoth guy or any Old One."
The monster scoffed, "Do the wants of an ant decide the actions of a god?"
I made a fist at this abomination, "This ant is about to blow your ass to pieces."
It snickered, "He will summon you now. Goodbye insect."
The space around me warped. Before I dissipated, I made my move. I reached back, pulling the espens towards me. I wrapped a cord of my armor around them, piercing my gray suit. Hiding my identity wasn't worth killing these people. In my eyes at least.
If they got outside without protection, the poison would kill them. With that in mind, I created an antigravity well over us. The bug man whispered, "Futile."
The space around us curved, but I reached out my other hand and unleashed havoc. A singularity formed in the chest of the creature. It tried phasing away, but the pull of the black hole was inescapable. The beast imploded inwards, falling into himself.
The carapace over his face tore, revealing the mush underneath. The monster gurgled,
A second later, and the singularity finished its feast. It collapsed, releasing a destructive shockwave. I extended my armor, creating a wall between the espens and my attack. The impact catapulted us towards the brick surface. I kicked with my foot, sending a telekinetic wave at the wall. It crumbled, the steel supports snapping like twigs.
The purple mush wrapped around us, but we stayed dry. I maintained a pocket of air with antigravity, stopping the poison from infecting the espens wounds. I landed on the ground. I pushed my heels against Giess, propelling myself up. With an outpour of mana, I created another well above me.
We fell upwards towards the surface. I used the chain leading to the surface as a guide. It was a strange feeling. Everything around us fell upwards at the same rate, maintaining our protective bubble of air. With a bit of finessing, I kept us clean until we reached the clay.
Once there, I burrowed us through the dirt. When we reached the water, we were home free. Fifteen minutes of falling up, and we arrived on the surface. With a great splash, we spurted back onto the surface world. I grinned as the sun beamed down from above.
After setting us down, I leaned up against a tree. I glanced at the espens. Most of their injuries already healed. They would be fine even without my help from here.
It let me relax for a second. I flopped onto the ground, looking up. I sighed with relief, closing my eyes and just letting go. When I opened my eyes again, my scenery changed. Beneath me, solar flares ushered out of a dying star.
I blinked, flabbergasted at the sudden shift. Nothing changed, so I blinked again. I grabbed the sides of my head. I banged my helmet, the metal denting inwards. My scenery stayed changed.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, then opened them. I looked around, accepting this madness. I stood up on nothing. I looked down. The star was dim enough for me to see. It should've blinded me if not outright incinerated me at this distance.
Yet it didn't. I looked around, finding no stars in the void around me. I already knew what happened. That Old One finished summoning me, so I shouted out,
"Where are you, Eonoth?"
My voice resonated through my surroundings. The sound bent until was so warped, it wasn't even my own. The words bled together, turning into gibberish. The gibberish quieted until no sound remained. The noise returned, coming back with force.
The gibberish formed a language then recognizable speech,
"An interesting language. It's simple and condensed. Contextual. It must be difficult to learn."
Imagine you were in a giant, iron bell. Imagine a titan swung a hammer at that bell. Now imagine the cataclysmic, ear-busting vibrations formed a voice and spoke to you. That's what Eonoth's voice was like. Without my pain tolerance, I'd be brought to my knees. without my massive health, I'd have died instantly.
With those tools, I stayed tall. A bit of blood dripped out of my nose. I snorted it out so I could breathe. I shouted back,
"It obviously wasn't that difficult to learn for you, was it?"
A stretch of silence went on after that. I had no sense of time. It could have been a second or an eternity. Honestly, I don't know if it would have made a difference.
"You know my name, but I don't know yours. Who are you?"
My ears bled. I sighed, pushing down my discomfort, "I'm Daniel."
A deep laugh rattled my bones.
"You are more than Daniel. You hold many names. Tell me of them."
I grit my teeth, sustaining the thunderous words.
"I'm Dimension C-138, the Harbinger of Cataclysm."
"A title more befitting your presence. Weight. Enduring. Boundless. The Bringer of Change. You hold many titles in those that know you...they fear you. Have you tasted their fear?"
I rolled my eyes, keeping myself composed, "Ok, obviously not. If you can probe my memories, you know that already."
From the void, the voice continued, "An answered question can still sound sweet in your ears if you enjoy the answer."
"Can we cut out all the cryptic bullshit...Please?"
"You are a being of flesh and bone. Time...Time is your most valued asset. We are beings that transcend time. It is of no value. One infinity after the next, we will see all that there is to see."
I raised an eyebrow, "We meaning the Old Ones?"
"Whatever it is that you use to refer to us. You seem distasteful of our presence. Why?"
At this point, my mouth was pooling with blood. I swallowed, clearing out my mouth. I raised my hands, "Etorhma left an old enemy of mine in a, well, ugly state. I don't want that same influence on me."
"But you are incorruptible. A pure entity that is independent all its own."
I wouldn't let this fuck know how much damage he was doing to me. My pride wouldn't allow it.
I sighed, "Why did you try-" I coughed up some liquid, "-and fuse the silvers and the espens?"
By now, my eyes bled, and my gums were soft. Eonoth's voice was disintegrating me.
"...I want to bring metal to life. There is a rigidness in it. Completeness. The silvers aren't alive. I wished to bring life to them. What life are you?"
From the void, a shapeless being emerged. It fluttered in and out of being like it couldn't hold a physical form of itself. Either that or my eyes couldn't understand it.
As it neared me, a sense of dread ran up my spine. My whole body screamed for me to escape or distance myself from it. It was a nightmare that I could not see, yet I could feel. I thundered out,
"I'm just a normal life form. You know, nothing special."
My voice rasped at the end. Eonoth reached out to me, "That is a lie. There is something utterly unique about you. I await discovery."
It got closer, the formless shape threatening contact. A deep instinct was screaming in the back of my head. It told me this - do not let this thing touch you. I didn't have a choice. I listened.
I created a well behind me, pulling me away. Even as I moved, Eonoth's position didn't change. I looked around, finding nothing to hold onto. In desperation, I tore off a chunk of my gray suit. I gripped into the back of my hand, piercing the skin. My own silver blood leaked out.
I pointed at it, "Alright, you twisted my arm. See this, it's silver blood. I'm living metal. Happy?"
The Old One stopped approaching me. My mind calmed down, fear no longer infesting me like a virus. A gleeful tone infested Eonoth's voice,
"You are...remarkable. I will leave you be. Enjoy the scarcity of your time. It gives it value, something I cannot comprehend."
It faded back into the void, "I'll allow you to return to your realm. We will meet again, Harbinger."
Space shivered around me. Before I returned, the formless shape jerked out of the darkness. It appeared in front of me. With a single appendage, it pierced my helmet and touched my forehead.
"Ah, but there is knowledge here given by Etorhma. Since Yawm, he fears your kind. He is weak, weak for one of us. I share none of his fears, for I am beyond fear. I will complete this fragment of knowledge he gave you."
My eyes rolled back into my head. Mystifying thoughts beamed into my head, Eonoth's mind touching my own. The core of my personality unraveled into tiny, minute pieces. Eonoth's mind was broad, broader than comprehension.
He was an ocean, and I was a single drop. I fell into the abyss, my identity lost in the sheer size of it. Off reflex, I gritted my teeth and flexed my fists. It didn't matter. No amount of will would close this gap. It was like launching yourself into space by jumping.
In a word, futile.
I fought on, struggling to keep some sense of identity. After eon's of being in the belly of the beast, I returned. Eonoth evaporated back into the void,
"And you remain. You are worthy, Harbinger. You are worthy."
I blinked. As quickly as I entered the Eonoth's ream, I returned back into my own. I was still on the tree, and the espens piled up beside the ravine. Not a second had passed.
I leaned over, pulling off my helmet and puking. Most of what I retched was my own blood, but some of it was vomit. I wiped off my face, getting my own blood off me. It felt like I just drowned. I shivered a bit, a piercing fear crawling up my spine.
Eonoth was nothing like Etorhma. Etorhma was polite and civil. He was mostly rational, though he had a few crazy moments. Eonoth was nothing like that. He was an amalgamation of a thousand minds. It was beyond comprehension. In fact, I was glad I didn't comprehend it.
Who knows what would happen to me if I did.
I shook off the overwhelming sense of dread. If not for my enhanced willpower, I'd be nothing but jelly by now. I looked at my health. Over three quarters was missing. I slapped the sides of my face, realizing how close to death I was.
I wasn't about to die to some dragon or badass warrior. I was about to die from hearing a voice. Wow. Talk about humbling.
I stood up, my hands still shaking. I clenched my teeth. I was tired of this whole jittery episode. I reared back my fist and punched myself in the face. I held onto the tiny bit of pain, using it to clear my mind.
I wasn't in tip-top condition, but it would do. I turned towards the espens, lifting them up with magic. I walked back towards Icosah, unable to muster up the mental energy to run. Instead, I looked at the walk like it was a break.
As I walked, I looked at my status. I gained about one hundred levels from spider guy, which was nice. I checked out my skills, finding a point gained here or there. My jaw dropped when I discovered my Dimensional Cipher skill. It was in the 300's after Etorhma gave me that spike of knowledge.
It was a tiny bit higher now that Eonoth finished it.
Dimensional cipher(1,081) - You bend the laws of nature with knowledge of its inner workings. Forbidden, but powerful.
I rubbed my hands together in anticipation. At least meeting a being beyond my comprehension wasn't all bad.
It had its perks.
In case you're confused about Eonoth's pronunciation, it goes like this: Ee-Oh(Like the word oh)-Noth <-- put heavy emphasis on the th sound at the end and you got it. When I make Old One's names, I want them to have heavy, discordant sounds when you say them. It makes them feel more alien which adds to the character. Hope this spill about how I name stuff is interesting.
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