Bruce, the God of Random Number Generators and TV Dinners, was currently reclining on a couch. His guests were the Guardian Of Knowledge and Custodian of Science, the newly born Scintilla, and her counterpart, the God of Innocence and Naïveté, Marlon. And, of course, the thoroughly infuriating and despicable Goddess of Order and All Things Eternal, Eterna, who had decided to stick around despite his repeated protests and attempts at shaking her off. But how do you deter an immortal from doing something—especially one who did not feel pain or fear for their life?
He sighed. Such was the life of Gods. If they wanted to impose and nose around where they’re not welcomed, there was no way of stopping them. The current topic of conversation had taken a turn for the worse, too. This Scintilla was too smart for her own good. She was trying to corner and pressure him into helping her by sending out his minions to build her a Hall Of Knowledge.
He had to admit, she was ambitious, perhaps the most ambitious divine being he’d ever met. A fledgling God would never get a Hall this soon. What was worse is that she almost had him convinced. As for Marlon, he was perfectly happy riding a multi-dimensional, chaotic merry-go-round that was summoned for him earlier. Marlon was hooting and whooping in joy, seemingly really enjoying himself.
Scintilla gave him a scornful look and harrumphed.
“You don’t like games?” Boris asked casually.
“The only game a God can play is the game of dominion…” Scintilla brought up an old proverb.
“…and the pieces we sacrifice are the mortals we favour the most.” Brutus, God of Probable Improbability, realigned his antennae and completed the age-old adage.
“Would you sacrifice your [Harbinger]?” Eterna butted in with a stupid question.
She wasn’t just satisfied with listening in on their conversation. The putrid bitch!
“I would never sacrifice Ethan West,” Scintilla said simply.
“And why is that? He’s just a mortal,” Eterna persisted.
“Shoo!” Jordon, the God of Square Circles and Gingerbread Dinosaurs, tried to dismiss her with a wave of his claw, but she was persistent.
Scintilla answered anyway. “I have my reasons, and they do not concern you,” she said coldly. Smart girl, he liked her already.
He’d told the newcomers about Eterna’s standing order to kill the mortal. Eterna’s plans would have resulted in Scintilla and Marlon not existing, had they come to fruition before Ethan had become a [Harbinger]. Suffice it to say they were not pleased, and both of them were pissed at Eterna, despite her attempts at mollifying them through bribery. Tyrone, God Of Disarray And Cottage Cheeses, was extremely pleased with this outcome. Now that the stage was set, it was time to make his move.
“In regards to Ethan West,” he began, “have you considered a divine blessing?” he asked Scintilla.
Ethan sat in The Matriarch’s tent, alone. His eyes were closed and he was drooling slightly from the corner of his mouth. He was currently undergoing a direct memory transfer from his AI.
A direct memory transfer was the best method to assimilate new information. Alas, it was also a very delicate procedure that required the AI’s full attention and could not be interrupted, lest there be grave consequences. The AI was currently busy remodelling and optimising neural pathways, inducing new connections and removing old ones, and Ethan was completely out of it.
Had he been aware, he would have wondered what the huge explosion that rocked the mountain was. Furthermore, he would have immediately bolted from the tent once he heard the screams coming from outside as the ground beneath his feet started shaking uncontrollably and began to crack. But he didn’t even flutter an eyelash when Kothar ran into the tent and shook him in an attempt to wake him up, or when the big man lifted him up in a fireman’s carry over his shoulders and ran outside through the previously dormant, and now stirring volcano.
He was in no condition to hear the cries of dismay or the screaming of children as the thousands of Krell people that were gathered here in celebration just minutes ago suddenly found themselves surrounded by cracks in the rock full of rising magma. He never felt the helplessness that Kothar and the tribesmen felt at their impending doom. Nor did he experience the feeling of inadequacy that the [Shamans] felt when they tried to use their magic to put out the infernos of hell itself and their group casting circle failed miserably at controlling the chaotic flows of the fiery semi-solid.
But when he finally awoke, he could see grim looks of acceptance in their eyes. They would all die here. He took a look around at the roiling magma and the wailing children, then he jumped from Kothar’s shoulder and ran forth, climbing a pole till he reached the highest point. They thought him mad; no pole could save him from the heat of magma. But then he shouted two words at the top of his lungs.
And suddenly there was stillness.
Aylin Merza was terrified. She’d woken up in her raised cage once more, hours ago. She figured her captors had put her there after feeding her the vile pink potion that suppressed her magic casting.
And now, said cage was shaking madly and had lava flowing underneath it. It all happened so quickly, she couldn’t believe it. An explosion had rocked the mountains and the ground cracked. Then streams of magma flowed out to fill the space underneath her with fiery death. What was she going to do?
Suddenly a shout sounded throughout the volcano.
And just like that, everything was still once more. The lava stopped flowing, and the ground stopped shaking. Was that… Ethan West? And what kind of spell or skill was that? How does one ‘adjust the entropy’ of a volcanic eruption? Her eyes gleamed as she thought of the applications of such an ability. If it turned out to be a spell, she had to learn it. If not, she wanted the class for herself.
Thankfully, she was well learned and knew what entropy represented, of course—the degree of chaos in a magical reaction, according to her studies at the Magisterium—and the idea of controlling such an aspect filled her with glee. Controlling entropy would be a god-like power for a [Pyromancer] like her. She could fine-tune her control over the element of fire, or even make it explode violently like some of the explosive potions that alchemists made. More importantly, she would be able to develop and cast her own legendary spell, one that could flatten a country with mythical frozen fire from a spell, like the infamous [Frozen Sun] from that old myth.
That would be a nice boost to her power, and just thinking of all the prospects for research filled her with an uncontrollable urge to obtain this ability. Once more, she found herself looking to Ethan West for answers and information. It appeared that this human was going to be important to her, just as she’d thought. Maybe she’d put off her next escape plan for now. She smiled and gently patted the invisible amulet hidden in plain sight around her neck.
Eragoth, Matriarch of The Krell people, lay wounded and broken in a deep jagged gorge, a gorge that was created by an explosion she was just at the epicentre of. That damn old and stubborn Polarii had blown himself up to try and kill her. What was worse was the magma flowing all around her. As a creature of fire, she did not fear the magma. But it was getting deeper, and she was about to slowly drown.
And an uncontrollable storm was still raging in the skies.
Was this the end for her? The end of the Krell people? If she was not around to control the volcano, they would be driven out of their sacred gathering place, just as they were once driven out of their homes in the Krashi plains by The Empire. Sadly, she had no power left to control the volcanic eruption that was about to happen. This was the end. Or so she thought until her draconic hearing picked up a distant shout.
Was that the otherworlder? Did he just cast a spell or had he used a skill? Didn’t he say he didn’t have any such ability? Right now, she didn’t care. The magma stopped rising and the shaking stopped. That was enough. She would thank him later. He turned out to be useful, after all. She lay back down and let her body heal its injuries. It would be a long time before she was back to full strength.
At the Krell gathering, a very peculiar scene could be observed. Ethan was gripping the tip of a totem pole, a group of Krell shamans surrounding him. They were all linked in a circle and channelling vast amounts of mana to support his sustained spell. In fact, the amounts of mana going through his body right now were at the edge of mortal tolerance. Any more and his body would begin to destabilise. He gritted his teeth and kept the pressure, the volcano fighting his control. It wanted to erupt.
But his tenacity would not be challenged, he had to force it to stay dormant no matter what. The fate of thousands of human beings rested on his shoulders. And there were the screams of the children! They tugged at his heartstrings and he knew that he had to save them no matter what. They would have a future and he had to make sure it stayed that way. More blood flowed out of his nostrils, but he would not break. Not today.
<WARNING: HOST IS REACHING CRITICAL SATURATION POINT! RECOMMEND CESSATION OF ACTIVITY IMMEDIATELY!>
His AI kept warning him. He paid it no mind.
Just giving the people around him a chance to escape was enough. They were currently evacuating everyone. He would remain behind with the [Shamans] and accept his fate. But then, a new message appeared in his log and a golden halo could be seen surrounding him.
- You have been blessed by The Guardian of Knowledge and Custodian of Science, Scintilla!
- Your wisdom is fortified! (+5 WIS)
- Your intelligence is fortified! (+5 INT)
- You receive 3 SP.
He felt like a fish thrown back into the water as he struggled and opened the status screens.
He put all of his 10 AP into intelligence and wisdom. Then he purchased [Stabilise] for 4 SP.
Allows you to stabilise any chaotic reaction, quickly bringing down the energy of an unstable system, chemical reaction, spell, or machine.
“[Stabilise]!” he wheezed.
A massive amount of mana was channelled through him in a flood. He then collapsed and fell from his precarious perch.
Jarret Lytell was currently hiding under a bush with two soldiers by his side. This was the third Krell patrol they’d encountered so far. He’d managed to put a good distance between his group and that dragoness, and he was thankful to [Commander] Talius for ordering him to withdraw. But this patrol was blocking a critical mountain pass, and there was no way around them.
He didn’t particularly want to fight them, to be frank, but it looked like the outcome was unavoidable. Oh, how he hated fighting. It was uncultured, undignified. A savage way of resolving conflict! But he had his orders, and he was going to carry them out, no matter what.
This group looked determined not to let anyone pass through—even the mountain goats couldn’t pass by them. They were studiously guarding the pass. Besides, they outnumbered his group three to one!
He sighed and ordered the two soldiers to be prepared. Then he cast his first spell, ‘Ice Arrow’. It struck a guardsman in the knee. He screamed loudly.
Then the battle was joined once more.