Chapter 38

In which the insatiable hob meets the insurmountable calamity.

Karl – God of Potted Plants and Left-footed Sandals – watched in anticipation as a group of Divines gathered to witness the ongoing events currently happening on the primary material plane.

[Error: Undefined Reference] – God of the Secrets and Unspoken, had invited a group of other Divines, and also a recently miffed Denvar – God of Strength and Vitality, to observe the results of his coalition’s most recent collaboration.

In the same way a Divine could cast a Blessing, another could bring about a Calamity to smite their enemies. Whilst the cost was enormous in terms of faith points sacrificed and the effects temporary, the results spoke for themselves.

Denvar was a last-moment addition to this posse, and had personally donated a prodigious amount of faith points – some of the fruits of thousands of years of continued Polarii devotion – to the beawick summoning fund.

Zalgo contemplated how insecure that guy must have felt, if he was willing to go as far as erasing an entire city over a single follower defecting from his faith. He supposed the Divine had absorbed too much Polarii culture and ideals to act any differently from the militaristic race, if it weren’t glaringly evident by his choices in appearance and mannerisms.

Regardless, a beawick had been summoned near the Krashi mountains, and according to its very nature, it would seek out the strongest source of magic in the area, which just so happened to be a powerful nexus of ley-lines that was buried deep beneath the Krashi volcano.

A nexus that had recently been enriched with the mana released from a multitude of high-profile magical events occurring in its vicinity, all in rapid succession. Such as the sprouting of a celestial tree right on top of it, and the fresh death of a divine agent in the settlement above, which fed said tree on that very morning. Not to mention the bestowal of a divine mass-blessing and the formation of a new church, all outstanding events to be sure.

It was admittedly not a very subtle move on the God of Secrets’ behalf, but there was no need to be subtle with execution if your ultimate plan was to kill all witnesses in the area. Because that would prevent the news from propagating and preserve your secrets all the same.

The God of Secrets must have had thought himself clever coming up with this solution, and what ultimately must have swayed him was the presence of a group of the opposing faith – Memeta’s chosen – in the region, and the birth of what he must consider to be a new hostile church. The misguided Divine must have thought that it was a masterful stroke. One that’d end all of his headaches in one go.

The beawick was still quite far away, and the settlement was still outside the effective range of its Halo of Madness.

The view zoomed in on the gathered Krell, and more specifically: Ethan West and the newly appointed [Champion] of Science as they argued over an ancient book, and [Error: Undefined Reference] started snarling when his eyes fell on it. He started sweating profusely when he noticed the followers of his nemesis standing mere feet away in proximity of his most precious artefact.

Ah, so that’s what it was. An interesting development.

How odd for such an inconceivable string of events to conspire and land such a priceless artefact in the hands of Ethan West?

Zalgo snickered silently, and rubbed his huge crimson chin with pleasure. His Symphony of Changes from earlier was starting to manifest its effects and make the probabilities sing to his tune.

The eldest amongst the Gods had their tricks, to be sure, and he was the oldest amongst them all. Despite what Eterna would have you believe.

Because before there was even meaning, Chaos Reigned supreme, and Zalgo was born of The Primordial Force of Chaos: one of the earliest concepts that reality itself had ever come to recognise.

A Divine birthed from a Primordial Force didn’t need followers to survive, unlike the feeble ones backed by a Primal Force. His aspect was given meaning by occurring naturally – in reality – and not through mortal minds attributing meaning to it.

Chaos – specifically – was ingrained as a vital process from which Life had to arise in any given universe.

Not that Zalgo would mind having a bigger flock, of course.

A noise attracted his attention as the gaggle of Divines exclaimed over something they noticed on the holographic projection they were using to watch the show. This method of direct observation was costly in terms of faith points, and thus seldom used; but Denvar was footing that bill this time.

What had attracted their attention was the small goblin raising a dust storm and rushing straight at the beawick. So they finally noticed him, huh?

An argument quickly rose over what that meant. The prevailing opinion was that this goblin was insane.

Zalgo smiled. Every piece was in place, now it was time to let the events unfold.

This little one had promise, and he wished him the best.

The thrill of another gamble in the making excited him. The goblin gambit had just begun.

A legion of souls belonging to the recently deceased in the Krashi mountains shifted and stirred, agitated.

The nexus of ley-lines present in the area that normally kept them all fed and content was withdrawing its influence for the first time in living – or in this case, dead – memory. It was redirecting its power elsewhere for an unknown reason.

The now starving souls – some of which still bound to the vestiges of their spirit thanks to the dense ambient mana sustaining them – gathered in discussion, and the most coherent ones ultimately decided to start heading closer to the nexus to investigate. The rest followed out of habit, and they all headed towards the volcano.

All with the exception of the restless soul of a certain late [Commander], which decided to follow the sound of warhorns in the distance. The sound called to him on a personal level, although he was at a loss as to why.

[Commander] Talius opened his awareness to the comforting sound. His memories were starting to fragment, which had been a worrying fact; but for some reason, the sound of the horns had caused a comforting rush of remembrance which served to reassure his mind.

The wayward soul zipped through the sky at speeds unfathomable to a mere mortal. This spirit form had its advantages. It was perhaps the only aspect he liked about being an unbound soul. He was finally free.

Another thing he liked about being dead was the fact that there were no allegiances. He’d even met souls of late Krell [Warriors] and shamans, and they’d set their differences and animosity aside and actually talked. He daresay he even made some friends.

From what he’d gathered by asking the older veteran souls, it appeared that the higher your levels in life at the point of death, the longer it took for your spirit and soul to completely separate, and since the soul had to separate from the memories completely in order to qualify to move on to wherever souls went after death, he had quite some time left to spend in this state and contemplate his choices in life a million times over.

According to them, the soul wielded the will, and the spirit was the vessel in which memories were stored. This had confused him at first, and he wasn’t quite sure what it meant until a wise and ancient spirit of a Krell [Sage] told him that the soul made the decisions, and as such, his soul dictated the type of person he was.

Even after losing all of its memories, moving on, and being reborn in a new body; a soul would make the same decisions when placed in the same circumstances.

Talius found this concept enlightening, but also terrifying for entirely different reasons.

Perhaps that was the real reason why he went against the prevailing decision to inspect the ley-line nexus with the other spirits.

He knew it wasn’t possible, but he wanted freedom from his predestined fate at any cost. He wanted freedom from his own choices, and to break this cycle somehow.

His first choice would have been to join them in their investigation, which was why he went against his own wishes.

It was a juvenile attempt at rebelling against his own nature, in hindsight. If only because that deviation was also part of his decision-making process, based on him acquiring this new information, but he tried to ignore that fact.

And so he flew ever onwards, towards the captivating sounds of horns.

“Isn’t it made of mana?” Grenda asked her fellow chosen, but the confirmation came from an unexpected source.

“Yes. Beawicks are made out of, and feed on, mana.” Replied Elnora, who had entered a non-responsive state since her return with the message from the Goddess not too long ago.

Grenda’s was worried for her, but her mind was too busy to pay attention to anything other than the facts. She had her confirmation.

As a Gnome, and especially as a professed [Artificer], Grenda possessed a racial analytical ability for finding quick solutions to her problems. Her mind flew through every possible solution, considering every piece of information or fact she’d come across or learnt from her trade. A recent breakthrough broke to the surface, and she thought she’d come upon a worthy solution.

She ran over to Ethan, who was heavily absorbed in a tattered tome he kept paging through, then flipping to the last page and reading it again.

“Ethan!” She prodded him, before raising her voice in an attempt to draw him out of whatever he was trying to do, “Ethan West!”

He finally relented and looked away from the odd book, “What?”

“I have an idea to run by you: if the storm is made of mana, couldn’t you summon a storm made of plastic shards to absorb it from the inside?”

“Won’t work. I’ve already considered that.”

Grenda was surprised. How had he thought of this before her? His race was typically considered slow by the standards of quick-witted gnomes.

Nevermind. He is a potential world-walker, after all. She reminded herself.

She quickly dismissed that line of thought and questioned him on why it wouldn’t work.

His justification made sense, although it was interspersed with words in a foreign language she’d never heard before then.

“I could make large amounts of [microplastic] dust and disperse it through the atmosphere, but the problem with [microplastic] debris is that it becomes–” He seemed to struggle to find the right word, “–poisonous to most beings at the [cellular] level. It can cause [cancer] from [mutations] in living [tissue] through ingestion, and obstruct [alveoli] through inhalation, which would lead to a slow and painful death by [asphyxiation], and that’s just from normal [microplastic] shavings, and not magically charged [microplastic] shavings.” He paused, “I have no idea what ramifications magically charged plastic [free radicals] would do to living beings, to the environment, and to your world at large. It could be the equivalent of salting fertile land with a [radioactive isotope] on a [continental] scale, and there would be no way to control the dispersion pattern.”

Grenda didn’t understand many of the foreign words, but she got the gist of his explanation anyway: it was a bad idea.

“But it could work?” Her personality as a gnomish intellectual demanded validation, and she found his insight into the topic challenging her on another level. She knew it wasn’t the time for such antics, but every gnome had her pride.

“Oh, it would most definitely work, but I’m not shouldering the uncontrolled release of an unknown substance into the environment on my conscience, just for the sake of a quick solution to this problem. Maybe we could try it as a very last resort?” He paused and turned to the last page in his book, then began to read from it, “Oh, hell no. The book agrees that it’s a bad idea too.”

“What’s in that book?” Grenda asked in bewilderment.

“It’s records everything that happens arounds it and predicts the outcome of events in [realtime] as far as I can tell. It’s a weird enchantment, and some components of it seem to be hidden…” He said distractedly, “It was called ‘The Accords of Potentia’ when I tried to [Analyse] it using my skill, but no other information was forthcoming. A shame.”

Grenda released a girly squeak with the breath of air trapped in her chest. She quickly rushed off to find Elnora.

Ethan put the inquisitive gnome out of his mind as he turned back to the book in his hand. It was perhaps unfair for fate to hand him such an item on the eve of such a calamity approaching. He really wished he could study it in peace and quiet.

And the worst part? The worst part was that as he entertained that thought, the book predicted his future actions based on his current line of thought, and detailed the possible outcomes of that chain of events, thus giving him an immediate insight of what that course of action would entail, and the utter doom that awaited them all if he decided to study it now. This triggered a new chain of predictions once he changed his mind based on the old one, and so on and so forth.

Kothar was right to say that this book was a real headache-inducing nightmare.

But it was totally worth it.

He could already imagine the practical applications of such a tool when performing experiments in his workshop, or future lab as the book quickly predicted. It was almost as if…

• Chaos Reign has reached level 5. [+50 XP]

Oh, you sneaky bastard. Ethan thought.

Whoever that God of Chaos was, he must have had a hand in his current situation.

Curious about it, Ethan resolved to study [Chaos Reign], and the book informed him that he’d later discover that this skill ‘encouraged interesting events’ to happen around him, and tipped the odds in his favour slightly whenever possible, and that the skill’s level would increase whenever the odds aligned in his favour.

Which meant that he didn’t even have to do the research by himself in the future.

Cheat-mode Unlocked! He thought excitedly.

• Chaos Reign has reached level 6. [+60 XP]

Holy shit! Had he just achieve a self-sustaining cascade of skill growth, with this book in his hands? Because with it, the odds would automatically tip in his favour, and that’d mean…

He quickly reached a logical conclusion: he would lose this book soon, somehow. The world itself would conspire against him and he’d lose it. It was a given.

There was no way in hell that The Wheel would let him keep it. He resolved to give it hell when it tried to pry it from his possession, although…

He looked down at the page with trepidation to confirm his theory… and found that the book was refusing to make any predictions regarding its own fate.

That was… brilliant! A preemptive measure for paradox prevention? Whoever designed this thing must have been a [Grand Enchanter], or not even mortal. Which was the more likely explanation, because the enchantments on this book – if it even had any – were either very well hidden or radically different from anything else he’d seen so far. It was almost as if…

No time! If I spend any more time contemplating this damn book right now, we’re all going to die. Ethan reprimanded himself, and the book agreed with his conclusion once he resolved to move on and focus on the current calamity.

Will Badtooth succeed in eating the beawick? Ethan thought at the book, and it didn’t react in any way.

Right, he had to resolve himself on acting in some way for the predictions to change. He couldn’t just ask the book about it; which was kind of a shame, in hindsight; as it left the job of figuring out the best possible course of action up to Ethan himself.

He couldn’t just pretend to resolve on performing the action, either. He had to convince himself completely before any predictions would be made. The slightest change in his resolve would make the predictions change again.

The ephemeral nature of the predictions was a big problem, and Ethan theorised that it would be best used through a proxy, where you’d resolve to do something and have the proxy holding the book stop you if the intended action would not be in your favour and stay neutral otherwise. It was the most logical method to try.

It was the perfect fit for an augmented human like himself. He had the ideal tool for the task at his disposal.

AI, I want you to filter out everything written in this book from my senses. Analyse the predicted outcomes, optimise my decisions with small course corrections, and stay passive unless the outcome of my actions is detrimental to me or those around me in any way, or if it does not lead to the ending of the threat. He commanded his implants silently.

<Acknowledged.> His AI responded.

With his spirit bolstered by the confirmation from his AI and the book’s assistance, Ethan raised his sceptre and cast some spells.

He nodded to a worried-looking Kothar, and took off flying in the direction of the magically charged storm.

He paid no mind to the cries of warning issued behind him from those with enough knowledge to realise the fate of any who got too close.

His grip tightened on his sceptre, and he cast [Soul Vision] to protect himself from the madness effects of the beawick, at a prompt from his book-powered AI.

On the way, he cast his mana gathering field spell – for which he still hadn’t found a proper name – for good measure. An overcharge of mana couldn’t hurt in this situation, and his AI hadn’t warned him against it, so it must have improved his odds, all things considered.

His grin widened as he approached the calamity. He just loved the freedom of flight.

[Commander] Talius soared in the sky, and in the distance, he could see the terror that had been unleashed on this place.

A beawick! He’d never thought he’d get the chance to see one in his lifetime, and he hadn’t, truthfully speaking; but it was still an incredible sight to behold.

Its bright violet magical tendrils extended from beyond the horizon, like a twisted octopus reaching from a distance to ensnare its prey. He intuitively realised that he was immune to its madness-inducing effects – in his current unbound form – but also intuited the fact that it would still eat him if he tried to get too close.

The consumption of souls was its speciality, after all.

He felt some perverse satisfaction in the fact that it would get to eat the Krell Matriarch, or in other words: the reason for his current predicament, at least. Too bad it would also consume her soul. Talius would have liked to meet her on equal terms. Then they would converse in spirit form and settle their differences.

As he flew closer to the magical twister, the wind picked up speed and turned to violent gales.

He felt no resistance, as no physical phenomenon could affect his spirit-bound form in any way. A fact for which he was thankful.

As he moved closer to the site, he saw a human flying in its direction. Was this man mad?

A flying human that was headed towards a beawick? An actual flight spell? Glowing eyes? A magical sceptre and a book? Was that a force field spell surrounding him? Why did the field look so odd like that? How was it absorbing all kinds of energy like that?

More importantly: why did he look so different from the Krell? Why didn’t he use incantations like their shamans, and why was there a powerful [Wizard] using Mind Runes amongst them to begin with?

Too many baffling questions ran through his head. Then more even more baffling ones arose as the human moved closer on his position and called out to him.

“Hey, you! Are you a ghost? What are you doing there? That beawick is going to eat you.” The man shouted at a distance, “I’m talking to you, you know.” He added.

He’s calling to me? Wait… can he actually see me? Talius was bewildered.

He tried calling back, but no sound could be made. Right, spirit form… any attempt at communication was going to be a challenge.

But how can he see me? Does he dabble in… Talius started the thought, but didn’t get a chance to finish it.

The man looked down at his book then spoke, “Ah, I see the problem, hang on,” the strange [Wizard] then did something with his sceptre, and a stream of mana was channelled in Talius’ direction, he thought it would pass through him once it hit him, but it didn’t. His spirit body became slightly more tangible, “There, that should fix the problem temporarily.” The man said smugly.

“What the… what did you just do to me, [Wizard]?” Talius asked the man in bewilderment.

“Gave you a bit of a boost, that’s all.” The man said nonchalantly, “I apparently have a comprehensive encyclopedia on soul magic, which I wasn’t putting to full use until now according to our friend here.” He nodded at the tattered tome, “So, what’s a Polarii spirit doing out here? Why are you going closer to that shit storm?” He asked in turn.

“I was… curious.” Talius tried to answer hesitantly, as if unsure if his words would be heard. He also wasn’t sure how to answer that question. He certainly wasn’t contemplating changing his fate by ending it all on a whim, was he?

“Ah, aren’t we all?” The man responded, and Talius flickered in shock at the idea of finally being understood by a living person, “Seriously though, that thing will eat you. I think you’re its favourite kind of meal, actually. It eats souls, you know?”

“I am… aware.” Talius had trouble speaking. So he elected to stay silent.

“What’s your name?” The human asked again, as they moved closer to the storm and their trajectories aligned in the sky.

“My name is… was… Talius. [Commander] Talius of House Armund, of the Polarii Empire.” He stated proudly.

“I suppose there’s no harm in telling a dead Polarii everything, since you can’t normally spread this knowledge to your Empire, and you seem polite and civilised so far…” The man paused before introducing himself, “My name is Ethan West. Patriarch of the Krell and [Harbinger] of Science, at your service.”

Talius’ flight trajectory wobbled slightly at this new information, “Patriarch?” He asked in bewilderment, “But it was their Matriarch who managed to defeat me!”

“Oh, so that was you.” Ethan said, “Yeah, I sort of got lucky and defeated her accidentally.” He answered truthfully.

Talius was curious how powerful this man was if he actually managed to defeat that dragoness, and at his inquisitive look, the man responded.

“It’s a long story, I’d love to tell you all about it later, if we both live through this.” He shrugged, although it was an admittedly difficult action to perform while flying at their current speed, “Speaking of which, why are you still here? Why are you accompanying me into this danger?” Ethan asked curiously.

“I have nothing to lose. The way I see it–” Talius gestured towards the far horizon, “–If there’s a beawick here, then there’s no safe place in the entire world.” He shrugged helplessly, a much easier gesture to perform while flying in his spiritual form, “If I’m going to die to it anyway, I’d rather it now than later.”

The man glanced at his book in contemplation.

“I don’t think we’re going to die today.” Ethan pointed, and Talius looked on, only to see a small goblin running at great speed towards the beawick in the distance. “I think the problem is about to correct itself.” He elaborated.

Talius snorted, “By that vermin? Why is it running towards the beawick?” He looked closer and noticed something anomalous, “…and why is its body swallowing ambient mana like this? This isn’t right!” Talius exclaimed at the odd sight.

“That, right there, is my buddy Badtooth, and I think he’s your world’s salvation against this disaster. Show some respect, man.” Ethan reprimanded.

Talius looked sheepish, but persisted, “That’s a goblin! How can it be anyone’s salvation?” He asked in incredulity.

“Show respect or I’m going to cut off your mana channel.” Ethan was adamant, which Talius supposed was justified if this madman had somehow befriended that goblin.

Talius nodded in acceptance, and Ethan asked a strange question.

“Have you ever heard the idiom: when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object?”

Talius wondered at the meaning behind this odd-sounding phrase, and shook his head in the negative.

Ethan glanced down at his book again. He then pointed at the goblin, which was about to reach the tentative edge of the swirling, magically-charged violence. The beawick’s thralls were visibly charging now, and were coming out to meet the goblin in battle.

Talius wondered why Ethan wasn’t affected by the madness yet. At this distance, he should have become raving mad, as any living being would have.

Ethan started blasting the thralls with spells and spoke with a jovial grin.

“You’re about to witness that idiom I mentioned,” He shouted to the skied, “With a big difference, because this–” He bellowed over the unbearable noise as he blasted large swaths of land with awe-inspiring projectiles that levelled the ground and vaporised the incoming legions of thralls into clouds of nothingness, “–this is when the insatiable hob meets the insurmountable calamity.”

Badtooth ran tirelessly, going faster and faster whilst screaming profanities at the shambling corpses that tried to obstruct his path.

These stinky cadavers were trying to stop him from having his meal, and that would not stand. Finally fed up with their meddling, he lost his patience and punched one of them.

It turned to dust, and he immediately felt the rush of tasty magic entering his body. It invigorated him, and he grinned a toothy grin. He’d found snacks! Moving, beautiful snacks, full of tasty magics!

Things devolved into a confusing melee as he got closer, and a tendril of magic shot out from the stormy skies and tried to snatch him. It quickly evaporated as it came into contact with his body. He felt his skin tearing as his body absorbed an unprecedented amount of a tastiness. He screamed in rapture as his body repaired itself with the excessive supercharge of violent magic.

He felt his bones vibrating, then shattering. The pain was unbearable and shocked him into a near-catatonic state. It felt like his soul was being ripped from his body, but it soon suddenly stopped.

He opened his eyes and looked up, only to see a horned demon spirit touching him.

Why was a horned demon helping him? They hated his people and killed them on sight! And why was it a spirit of all things? Didn’t those always travel to the beyond? He noticed a tendril of mana extended from the horned demon soul, and followed it with his eyes to a flying Ethan West!

His new friend was here to help him! Badtooth was grateful.

He quickly regained his footing and moved towards his stubborn meal, filled with a new determination to consume every delicious morsel of it, and grow stronger.

Elnora Featherwind sat on a rock to watch the unfathomable events unfolding before her from a safe distance.

Elnora knew that it was not befitting her station as a [Færie Queen], or even as a [Priestess] of Information, to sit on a simple rock. She was perfectly aware of that fact. It was not a dignified position; but she also didn’t give a fucking damn.

A very flustered Grenda had been trying to attract her attention earlier, but Elnora was lost to the world in concentration, and when Grenda soon gave up on rousing her and left to speak to the others, the [Færie Queen] was honestly relieved.

She had to commit today’s events to memory, for the sake of all future generations of the Fæy. As events developed, she had to pay close attention to every detail. She had been magnifying her vision – using the natural gift of vision unique to her race – to closely witness history unfold before her eyes.

Now, in the distance, events were mounting to a climax as the goblin reached the edge of the storm. Everyone around her was watching silently from afar, bereft of her gift, they could not tell what was going on, and yet: not a single soul dared to voice a word and disturb this moment.

Then Ethan began unleashing his terrible power on the legions of thralls. The flying avatar of Science himself was battling a world-ending calamity, with a goblin, of all possible brothers in arms. This man had a tendency to land himself in the strangest situations one could imagine. It honestly baffled her.

When Elnora had first met Ethan, it was safe to say she wasn’t very impressed. He seemed like a gullible youth that somehow found himself in a strange situation and tried to make the best of it.

Over time, though, her opinion of him started to drastically change.

It started with him accidentally granting her any Færie’s ultimate wish: the long lost legacy of her entire people, the Færie Fire.

Then he went on to claim leadership of the Krell, and to teach her and her companions new, unfathomable things. Which made her understand her Goddess’ wisdom in sending them here, but now… now this.

He was challenging a planet-eating calamity, and he would not falter or let his convictions sway.

Perhaps it is fair to say that this was the first time she detected a slither of long-forgotten emotions stir.

She felt it, then. The long-repressed emotions rampaging through her heart and mind. She thought of holding them at bay. She thought of burying them under the thousand thick layers of duty she always chose to wrap around herself. She thought of chaining them with the heavy shackles of her obligations to her people, and to her Goddess and faith.

But she chose not to stem the tide. She rode her emotional high. Her racial memories tried to rise to the surface, full of omens and doubts; but she elected to immerse herself in visions of the future, not the past.

Thanks to him, she would get to have a future at all. Maybe with him part of it, or even sharing it? Who knew?

And maybe her children would get to bask in this glorious immortal memory by inheriting her own.

At that thought, she dared to broadcast a hopeful thought to them, to her a future generation yet unborn.

As a dazzling wall of light shimmered and covered the northern skyline from every direction, the vicious gales whipping against her bare skin suddenly ceased. The violet tendrils in the sky waned and withdrew to a focal point she knowingly identified. A lone human flew in the clear skies. Triumphant and proud.

Perhaps her wish for a certain future outcome would come to pass, as did this impossibility on this glorious day.

Badtooth belched a storm.

It was the most satisfied sound in history, in Ethan’s estimation, and it was so loud it almost shattered the sky, and his poor eardrums suffered for it.

Was this his ode of victory? Ethan chuckled at the thought.

He supposed it was partially his victory, too. He’d sent Talius’ spirit to help the hobgoblin when his soul was nearly torn out of his body, thanks to an early suggestion from his AI – or more likely, at the book’s prompting, if he had to be frank.

Apparently, only a soul could ephemerally touch – or in this case: anchor – another soul. The spirit of [Commander] Talius had struggled to hold Badtooth’s soul anchored to his body against the beawick’s pull.

Ethan was grateful for the spirit’s assistance, as he put himself in a great peril to help. Only the fact that Ethan was channeling a ludicrous stream of [Overcharged] mana continuously at him saved him from a similar fate.

Ethan looked at the book in his hand. That damn book was the best thing to happen to him since his arrival here. It had literally saved the day, and Ethan’s fragile ass, which he felt was quite thankful for being saved.

He started to descend to the ground to check on Badtooth’s condition, all the while looking carefully at the last page of his book, which was empty to his eyes; but he placed his complete trust in his AI as a matter of course.

Thanks to his vigilance, he was ready to comply the moment he got an urgent warning against this course of action from his AI.

<Warning: Subject ‘Badtooth’ predicted to be undergoing metamorphosis. Suggested course of action: move away to a safe distance of at least 400 metres.>

Ethan flexed the active mana channel mentally, which caused it to pull on the spirit like a physical leash. It quickly snatched Talius away from the prone hobgoblin. He seemed to be shocked at the unexpected tug, but didn’t raise a fuss over it or feel insulted. He seemed quite intelligent, thankfully.

“I think we had better get back.” Ethan said as they flew away at a fast pace. As far away from the catatonic goblin as they could manage on such short notice.

Now at a safe distance, Ethan turned to observe the diminutive hob carefully, and quickly noticed that his green skin was cracking here and there at an accelerating rate. It reminded him of his own [Overcharged – Chaos] affliction, back before he accidentally grew the Mother of Chaos by channelling all that energy he’d collected whilst preventing the volcano from erupting.

Then goblin blood started seeping from the wounds, and the strangest thing was that the blood was actively boiling before quickly evaporating into a violet, crackling mist.

Wasn’t that the same colour as the beawick’s magical whirlwinds?

Uh oh.

[Character sheet is not available at this time. Please stand-by for a pending update. Don’t blame me! Blame a certain person for forgetting to go to sleep!]