Loralei started to prepare a complicated medical spell in the back seats of the car’s cab, while Daniel slept on those same seats. It might not have been practical, or particularly good for the patient, but she worked while sitting in his lap. She felt safe and comfortable there, and that safe feeling helped her concentrate on getting the elemental ratios of the spell perfect. While spells would usually have the desired effect if the ratios were about right, more complicated spells required more exactness and more simple spells could benefit through reduced mana costs.
An example would be an ice bolt attack, which required a ratio of one water to one force and negative two fire. If that exact ratio was reached, it could be cast for about eight points of mana. If any of the numbers were off by point one, then it would take twelve mana points to cast. The cost would increase further with more errors until the price was twice the ideal; after that the ratios were usually closer to a different spell or shape. Getting ratios right was hard enough with simple arrays, but if a spell required more than six elements then a more complicated array, such as a linked moon array, would have to be used.
The array Loralei was using was one suited almost exactly to healing. It was called a linked triangle array and, like the name implied, it only used three elements. The reduced number of elements however didn’t make it easier to use. It was shaped with twelve overlapped triangles of different sizes and shapes forming a ring. Each individual triangle controlled how the mana would act to a specific part of the body and the relative sizes of the triangles controlled how much of the supplied mana went into each action.
Since she wasn’t completely confident in the array she drew, she fixed it in place by drawing a single line in the centre of the ring, preventing it from fading away or activating, and went outside while looking up the spell formula. By levelling up, she had received a total of 60 skill points from the tower. With those points she purchased the skill ‘Intermediate Spell List [Medical]’ for 20 points, which let her look up any healing spell up to what the system designated an intermediate level. Before she entered the tower she didn’t have enough mana to cast anything but basic spells, so she only ever practiced those. Another way of looking at that, however, was that she was well practiced at simple spells. Because of that, she didn’t think that the ‘Basic Spell List’ series of skills was a good investment for her. Other than basic and intermediate, there were also expert, master and sage levels. Considering an intermediate spell would use more than half of her newly enlarged mana capacity, being able to cast a sage level spell seemed like a dream within a dream.
As she looked up the spell the ground began to shake. Earthquakes weren’t uncommon in the wastes but it was disconcerting that the shaking seemed to emanate from the tower. As she fished through her bag for her gun, the ground busted open, sending sand and cement fragments flying throughout the area. A lump of sharp rock skimmed across Loralei’s face, splitting one of the white scales on her cheek. She fell back on her ass with wide eyes, filled with fear, as she saw what exited the buried tower. It was a Tower Leach, but not like anything she had ever seen or heard of.
Its body was at least thirty meters long and ten meters high. It was covered in near-unbreakable tower glass over its metallic skin. Each of its many sharp teeth were as long as a person and they moved throughout its body, both inside and out, to both shred its food and move itself forward. To make matters worse, at the centre of what could reasonably be called its head was a solid crystal structure, about a metre large in a prism shape; it was a Tower Heart, a crystal-heart that generated crystal charge over time and could store up to ten thousand charge at a time. They were a closely guarded secret amongst those who governed towns with towers and the only reason Loralei knew about them was through her mother. Most people that knew of them thought them to be rumours or simply larger crystals. Her money had even gone so far as place a curse on her to prevent her from revealing that Tower Hearts generated cc.
Seeing the monster appear, Leah remembered a story her own mother once told her. It was one of the four simultaneous disasters that caused the world to fall; the Queen Leach. The story said that Tower Leaches were weapons made by humans, something both mechanical and living that could be dropped in an enemy’s territory; that would destroy anything they had to increase in numbers. But they weren’t an effective weapon and with the abundance of technology and power before the fall, they were hunted and killed easily. The creator couldn’t stand that his creation was being beaten so he did something he shouldn’t have; he made a queen with a crystal eye. The story didn’t mention how, but with the eye it became unbeatable, its former weaknesses meant nothing to it. Being as unbeatable as it was, it broke free and, with the other three calamities, helped to bring about the near end of the world.
Every instinct in Leah’s body told her that the mountain of metal flesh in front of her was the Queen Leach. It was the first time that she had felt such a primal embodiment of both hunger and power. Fear filled her. Fear filled her like she was a child once again and the world was a cold stormy night. She could feel her hands shake and no matter how much she willed it, her hands couldn’t draw her weapons. The metal monster came closer. Its body drew heat to it and the air around it became as icy as a winter night in the wastes. She knew she was only moments away from being eaten, but her legs were heavy and unmoving. She closed her eyes as the cold drew the life from her. In the darkness she suddenly felt a sharp impact, as her mind went blank.
Daniel sat in a blurry space. He knew it had to be a dream since nothing around him could be focused on, yet at the same time conveyed on overwhelming sense of opulence. The illogical nature of understanding something without being able to understand it could only be rationalised with the notion that he was dreaming. The sun in the sky seemed to be setting rapidly. No, that wasn’t right. It was getting closer, like a meteor headed straight for him. Before it struck, it slowed and shifted, becoming a humanoid shape.
Before him stood a tall warrior who’s features were and indistinguishable as the room’s. He understood the man to be both human and Draconian, but at the same time was neither. He was in a suit of extremely practical, yet somehow also elaborate, armour and was missing one arm. Even without the mysterious sense of knowing Daniel would have been able to recognise him. It was the god he followed and respected most, the patron of the Draconian Norse, Tyr.
“Young warrior,” a voice he knew to be Tyr’s boomed in his head, “you must wake soon. Though I can only stir people to strife and can never reconcile them, you are not me. You must follow you word and reach Enoksen. Ares’ Spear does not strike of its own will, but is being pushed to claim new land after the Aegis was beaten back.”
That shocked Daniel more than the appearance of his god. The Aegis was the Olympic Pantheon’s most stalwart defenders, it was said that no member of that order had ever been injured in battle. Their order’s leader was supposedly granted the name Athena by the goddess herself. He couldn’t even imagine a force that could drive them back in battle. Yet despite that, he knew that it was true, Tyr’s honour wouldn’t let him tell a lie to his followers.
As he thought that, Tyr continued, “When you reach Enoksen, you must tell them that the true threat isn’t Olympus, but what threatens them. To the Far north the Children of Izanagi and the Swords of Kali march together. While only a small part of the both Hindu and Shinto Pantheons support the attacks, their forces are stronger than they should be and even we gods are being obstructed from their territories. As more land gets taken, more of their orders will join the fight, to survive, the Olympians, the Celtic and the Norse must stand together.”
As Tyr finished speaking, Daniel felt the entire room shake. He opened his eyes and found he was in the back of the Dwarves’ car, covered in bandages with a spell paused over his head. Not willing to risk its activation while he had no idea what it did, he quickly drew a line through the whole ring to dismiss it. As he did that, he noticed that his ‘Fast Healing’ skill had activated and levelled up from four to five. His current health was about eighty precent healed at 115/140. It still hurt a bit to move but the sounds outside made him curious enough to look out the window.
‘Shit.’ He thought, ‘I took one nap and Leah and Loralei somehow used the time to summon a world eating monster; fucking amazing use of time, there.’
After his mind caught up with what he was seeing, and worked out that he wasn’t still dreaming, he realised how bad a situation they were in. Loralei was on the ground and Leah was about to be eaten, neither showed any sign of moving.
“Start the god damn car and stop just sitting there!” he yelled towards the stunned Loralei.
She seemed to notice him after a couple of seconds. Her face seemed to flash between a variety of emotions be for settling back on panic. Thankfully she seemed to be functioning now, as she moved towards the driver’s seat. As she got in, he got out. His wings unfurled and he pushed mana and strength heavily into them sending him forward with incredible speed. He could see Leah close her eyes as the monster got closer. He wasn’t going to let her die. He pushed more mana still into his wings, more than they could hold. He could feel them heating up, like they were over a fire.
He collided with her and pushed her out of the way, he skin felt cold and one of his horns stabbed her side. He hopped that if they survived she wouldn’t hold that against him. The pain of being stabbed, however, did Leah some good. The pain hurt. She could feel it. She was still alive and wanted to stay that way. With her eyes now open, she could see that she was being held tightly by a Red Draconian with blood stained bandages. The rugged look and sent of battle filled her mind as he placed her down and faced the creature once more.
Daniel left the car without a weapon. He was concerned about Leah and hadn’t taken the time to grab his gear. Since Leah didn’t seem to be much use, when he put her down he had taken the pistol back from her. He could feel roughly from the weight that it should still have some rounds left in it so he rushed towards the monster with it. Of his ninety mana points, he had used thirty getting to Leah in time so he still had magic to use as a weapon. Sixty mana points was usually enough for most battles, but against something like the worm he was seeing, he doubted it would be.
Two shot rang out, neither had any effect of the glass or the crystal. Daniel wasn’t surprised, but he always felt better about things after seeing for himself. The shots did, however, draw the creature’s attention to him. The cold chill in the air followed him as he ran, looking for anything that could be considered a weakness. He couldn’t find anything and the bladed mouth got closer every second.
Suddenly he had an idea. It was a terrible idea, one that would last for a minute at most. He ducked to the side suddenly, causing the massive mouth to pass by him. With the few seconds he had before it turned around, he prepared a spell. A blue tinged clear field covered his body, it was one of his best force field spells, but against the abduction effects that monster seemed to have, he thought that it would drain one mana every second. With the eight he spent on casting, he had fifty-two seconds to kill the creature from the inside.
Not wasting so much as a moment, he dove down its throat Its blade like teeth rushed to greet him but he moved out of their way each time, even going so far as to use his wings to jump over them. While moving out of the way of the dangers, he ran forward, looking for anything that could be used to kill the beast.
With twenty seconds left he reached what might have been the stomach of the creature, or at least a waiting area for what had been eaten to be broken down. That space was filled with the remnants of a tower, with office supplies and sections of wall strewn everywhere. There were even the remains of much smaller versions of the monster he was inside. At the core of the stomach was a lump of half dissolved crystal. He recognised it as an enlarged crystal charge storage crystal, possibly even a legendary crystal-heart. Without even having to think about it he ran over to it and used it to sustain his field.
Checking its level he could see that it had well over a thousand cc in it, more money than he had ever seen in one place. That amount, however, was decreasing faster than his just his shield could draw and he knew that the monster was draining it. Oddly though, he could almost feel something in it. Like a pulse or a voice. He wasn’t sure how but he knew what it wanted him to do. If he hadn’t felt something similar when he met Tyr he would have ignored the sensation.
An array diagram filled his mind and recreated it exactly, not willing to make any kind of error with such a complicated spell. The array was like nothing he had ever seen, it was six hexagrams arranged within one large hexagram with a strange writing around the edge and a rune in the centre. He couldn’t imagine what all the parts would do, but trusted that pulse, trusted in its warmness. With the array complete, he activated it with the crystal as a medium. In an instant, the crystal was drained of all but a dozen cc and a strange multi-coloured beam burst from the array.
The beam shot out, melting a line though the monster to connect directly with the crystal on its head. Cracks filled the shell and its energy was drained into the array then passed into the half dissolved crystal. The monster’s crystals emptied and, as sand, blew away in the wind. The loss of the crystal however, didn’t kill it, and Daniel could feel its desire to melt him increase. He just laughed at it, thinking, ‘If you want power so bad, I’ll give it to you.’
Using the newly charged crystal as a medium once more, he drew a deep breath and let his chest swell, both with air and power. His fire breath burst from his mouth with more power than he could ever have used, manipulating it into a tight, hot beam. Although the heat was being drained from the attack, without the crystal to store the energy, it wasn’t able to disperse that amount of energy fast enough. Before long, it reached its limit and the ray tore through its flesh, cutting it in two, then four, then eight pieces. With its body shredded, it finally died, letting out a soft whimper from its bloodless body.
|Calamity Class Beast Slain. Rewards: 3 Levels, +40 Tower Skill Points, Tower Skill [Racial Variant Improvement], 100cc, Weapon, [M77 of the Gem Dragon]|
With the unexpectedly good rewards appearing in his lap, the crystal floated itself back down the hole, where its tower had been. Burying itself under the sand, within a few years he imagined there would be a new tower there. Part of him wanted to dive in after it and take everything it had, but he knew it had a pulse, that it was alive and was filled with compassion. One of the things he learnt from it was how the creature came to be trapped in the tower in the first place. The tower, Staple Street Design Co., drew it in with its own heart as bait, all to stop its rampage. It wanted to save as many lives as it could, while its own body was slowly eaten and it lived every day in pain. He truly respected the strength she showed, to the point that it overwhelmed his greed.
As he lay there in the sand, next to the broken body of the leach, Leah ran towards him. Loralei had already healed her wound, but he dreaded the idea of a pink Draconian holding a grudge against him. As he sat up to try and grab his things and run, she pounced on him. She straddled him, pinning him down with her long arms and legs. Her face seemed to be contorted into a disturbing smile and her eyes looked like they were eyeing the tastiest of meats. With a sly laugh, she leant in and started to kiss him wherever her mouth would reach, pressing herself against him, and wrapping her nimble wings around his body.
Suddenly she let out a creepy laugh and said, “Hehehe, you actually went and became a higher variant for me. As expected of the mate I’ve chosen; a shiny gem all for me.”
It was then that he noticed that Leah, in her power-lust filled state, was right, his scales had changed colour. Before they were clearly a sold dark red with some yellow highlights, but now they shone like semi-transparent red stones with gold dust throughout them. He was able to push he back enough to free one arm, a feat he wasn’t even close to being able to do three levels ago, and looked at his status. The skill he had been granted, Racial Variant Improvement, had changed both his variants. He wasn’t a red and yellow Draconian, but instead a ruby and gold Draconian.