Chapter 45: Haunted Welding Suit
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Earl Interface:

Absorbed ‘Concentrated Acerb Pellets Superacid’
1.0 Refined Acerb

Details: A condensed and dehydrated sample of the element Acerb. It would require a highly advanced method of refining or a particular race of creatures to produce.

With the last of the haze passing into the kiln, the customary purple wall arises. I withdraw my attention from the yellow epistle, focusing on the wall instead. ‘I suppose it is rather obvious now, but the name of the mystery element was Acerb… I am more interested in the final words of that epistle. They brought something here to be near the roots and “another of its kind,” except the only thing here is me, and the roots are mine.’

I pause assessing the information I have before coming to a conclusion. ‘That seems to imply that another Kiln has been brought hereabouts. That makes this whole predicament much more complicated, not to mention dangerous.’

Pushing the wall away, I take a speedy glance about the room and then return to the epistle. I review the section of the epistle concerning the devotionalists and asking for their assistance if the need to neutralize the green liquid appears. This is the first time I have beheld the word “neutralize” before, but I know in alchemy and medicine, “neutral” ingredients are less inclined to induce reactions when mixed into other substances.

‘The devotionalists must have something to make the green liquid neutral. That or they use some type of magic or the technology thing, like the lap-top. I pray it is the former.’

My gaze travels to the red figures of the people who have not moved since I arrived. I may only assume that one of those people shall have the item or object I require. Yet, with so many people, whether those people are moving or not, the challenge of not provoking them is present. The worst thing that could befall me is finding myself surrounded by ten people from the Consortium or Hex Church. I would much rather approach them in a safer fashion.

I scan the room, searching for anything in the immediate area that may assist me. There are some yellow plastic barrels with “water” written in black, some sort of device that reads “Arc-Weld 3698,” and then leaning against the Arcade’s wall is a familiar blue suit that I spotted a sweaty man wearing late last night. This is the oversized outfit that covers every piece of the body, from head to toe, and has a prominent dark window on the face of the cylinder-like helmet.

Glancing down at my body and then at the outfit, I stand and approach it. I scrutinize it, finding that it even has a pair of boots attached to the bottom. As for the material, it seems similar to plastic, but I do not believe it to be so.

‘If I wore this, perhaps I may retrieve what I need and then leave without nearly as much issue then if I approached as a haze monster.’

I examine it some more and determine I have nary an idea what this atrocious outfit would be for. If it were not so shaky, I would presume it was a set of armor. With my long vermillion nails, I tap against the blackened rectangular window. Tilting my head downwards, I notice a few words engraved upon it that read, “The Arc Welder Professionals · A Consortium Group Affiliate.”

‘The weight might be a bit much with my current stats, yet perhaps, I may still make do and don it.’ My gaze drifts back to the hole that scatters vermillion haze. Nodding, I step toward the twisted and exposed roots. ‘First, in case I must flee, Earl, prithee, I would like to accept the two tasks.’

Without one of Earl’s walls appearing, four new vine-like roots emerge from within the bundle of entangled roots. The four roots, black, red, purple, and gray, rise upwards and intertwine. When they are around three feet above the pit, or waist level, they bend outward and then curve back in, making them look almost like the claws of a dragon.

I take a step back as each root releases its own variant of haze. The roots appear to blend the haze’s carefully, allowing only a precise quantity to exit. Instead of scattering, the haze seems to maintain a ball-like shape. I observe this closely to see if I may learn something, yet all I discover is that of all the haze’s, hoary is used the most sparingly; in fact, the hoary’s root is also the thinnest of the four.

Finally, the haze almost seems to collapse inward, and a bright pink light radiates outward. Thanks to my vermillion sight, the light nearly blinds me. I look away, close my right eyelid, and take a few seconds to recover before returning my gaze. What I find is not pink, but a mote of yellow light, bathing in the haze and glimmering before me as if beckoning me to embrace it. I reach out, the yellow mote fidgets and then glides through my arm, into my chest, and then descends downward, where it begins rotating around the kiln.

‘This must be how the motes were produced on the previous occasion. It was just done beneath the soil.’ This repeats three more times until four equally separated yellow lights revolve around the kiln, scarcely avoiding one another as they do so.

An unexpected purple wall surfaces.

Earl Interface:

Would the user also like to receive a small stipend of Essence leeched during the first fourteen days of germination and low-level vegetative leeching?

Week 1: 9 Stipended Essence
Week 2:
22 Stipended Essence
Overall Stipended Essence: 31

[Yes] [No]

Note: Vitrum and Nebula are in use and cannot be stipended.

I study the wall, clench and raise my fist, and nod earnestly. ‘Aye, a boon! Certainly, I shall accept that as well!’

This time a crimson fluid climbs from all four roots. Similar to red-hot iron driven through a spigot, the crimson fluids collide. Steam rises and the fluid hardens, leaving what resembles a lump of glass behind. The glass lump starts to slip from its perch atop the roots, so I stretch my arms and catch it in my long fingernails.

‘A warning would have been useful,l Earl.’ The four entwined roots crumble into tiny pebbles, settling into the bunches of roots in the pit beneath them. I raise my right eyelid as well as the glass-like substance. ‘So this is… my ‘stipended?’”

Moving it around with my fingers, I look toward the cattail. I hold it toward the cattail. The tendrils unfurl, wraps around it, and drags it into the cattail where the lump fades into the fiery haze. A feeling as if I am sipping the purest water I have ever had the pleasure of tasting courses through me.

Earl Interface:

Absorbed ‘Low-Quality Glassed Essence’
Reduced Erysichthon value by 0
Essence value 31
0.0 Refinable Nebula
0.0 Refinable Vitrum

Details: Essence preserved in glass in a low purity form. This and its variants are rarely discovered in areas of high Essence concentration and in the Domains of Kiln.

Reading the wall, I cross my arms. ‘That was the first time it has felt like I “drank” something since I became a haze, interesting. I wonder if it would taste even better if I stol—’

The woman’s furious whispers interrupt my thoughts, “Are you fuckin’ just standing there messing with the lights!? Get this Halloween shit off me!”

‘Ah! I grew distracted!’ I uncross my arms, and my attention swings back to the, well, I suppose it’s an arc welding suit, arc suit, or something suit. ‘I favor the name “arc suit.” It sounds more elegant and knightly… But that is not important. What is essential is that I may escape the suit quickly if the need arises.’

Rushing over to the big blue arc suit, I recognize that I do not know how this thing is meant to be put on. I think for a moment and recall the man I saw with the arc suit removing the helmet by reaching for something near the neck. My gaze drifts to a flap that encircles the bottom of the helmet; I flip it up, discovering a metal strip with pairs of teeth interlocked with one another.

‘...This was attached to one of Terra’s bags? Did she tell me the name of this? I cannot remember; mayhaps, I was not paying attention. I believe it might have been open beforehand.’

I find a small little shiny handle dangling from the interlocked teeth, so I yank it hoping it will release the head. The arc suit tips unto its side, but as the arc suit tips, the small handle slides, separating the two pairs of metal teeth and making a sharp hissing sound.

My head tilts. I study the unique mechanism, only to again be interrupted. “God! Help me, dammit!”

Glancing to my side, I witness the women commence, pushing and kicking loose items on the ground as if she is becoming more agitated; I cannot fathom why she might be upset with me. I turn back toward the arc suit, yanking it around so it lies flat on the floor.

‘Aye, this shall do. If I must escape, I can just remove the head, the arc suit will drop, and I can then flee.’

Moving the helmet to the side, I lie on the ground, push my legs together, and then have the haze glide me into the arc suit. My gown manages to squeeze in on its own, and before I know it, I have somehow wiggled my way into the suit’s depths.

Earl sends me a warning message.

Earl Interface:

Warning: User will temporarily surrender the advantages of their natural hover as well as the benefits of being in the Domain.

‘Hover? Thou mean, hove? [1] Like my ability to float above the body and such? Aye, that should be well enough in the meantime.’

I attempt to tilt myself upright, but when I do so, my haze seems as if it would prefer to slip from the arc suit rather than lift it. Thinking for a moment, I look back toward the handle near the neck and pull it. As I do so, the pair of teeth come back together. Upon reaching the last of the teeth, I stop and leave a gap large enough to slip the cattail through if the need arises. As an added precaution, I test to see how fast I may remove the helmet if necessary. Pushing the cattail through, I jerk it to the right, and the metal teeth separate. With a nod, I again pull the handle, closing the teeth.

‘The arc suit is rather cozy; truly I rather enjoy hiding away in confined places such as this. Aye! I shall be Constance the most un-intimidating foppish knight to have ever graced these lands!’ [2]

I attempt to wiggle myself upright once more, and this time, the suit actually fidgets. Except, it still feels as if I am endeavoring to stand with a mound of dirt atop me; moreover, I cannot sit upright. I maneuver the cattail within the suit and slip it behind my back as if it is a backbone. Being around ten feet in length, I slip some of the excess cattail into one of the suit’s legs and then flex it along its entirety. Instantly the arc suit, along with my body, bends into a horseshoe or “C” shape.

‘I have never been so delighted to not possess bones.’

Sticking out my arms, I brace them against the floor, and now resemble an upside-down, “V.” Finally, I again maneuver the cattail and push it through the hole I left at the neck of the arc suit, and use it to force myself into a standing position. Now standing, I discover that I am barely tall enough to see through the helmet’s dark window. I had not thought about it that often, but everyone in this era is rather tall—in life, I was only around five-feet in height.

‘Aye, I could really use the sable haze at this moment. This is simply ridiculous.’’

I pull the cattail back and then bend the arms of the arc suit, barely managing to do even that. As if I have replaced my legs with tree limbs and then put on a full set of iron armor, I gradually move toward the nine people who have eerily ignored my presence and the woman who has been whisper-yelling at me.

The arc suit squeaks as the heels of the boots rub against the floor. I push the cattail into the arc suit’s right leg and use it to make at least one leg look like it is working correctly. Though, it also makes it seem as if I am dragging my left leg.

As I approach, I shake my head. ‘Good lord. I feel as if I am a newborn fowl attempting to plod through neck-high water. I never realized how easy it was to move as haze.’

I close my right eyelid to discern how readily I may see without the vermillion sight, but I find it is nigh impossible without it. Still, I can see things decently with the vermillion sight, so I lift the right eye’s negating membrane.

Once I am close enough to see the full situation, I stop.


The display before me is far, far from what I envisioned.

First, six people, two men, four women: one clutching their legs murmuring to themselves in a soft voice, one banging their forehead against another’s shoulder blade, one person itching their skin as if they have a rash of abominable proportions and the last two pulling at their hair while hugging themselves. All six of them have bloodshot eyes and bright red veins that resemble spider webs running from their eye sockets to as far as their ears. Their dress consists of white outfits that look like they should cover their whole body, similar to my own blue arc suit. However, their helmets are missing, their suits have been torn to pieces, and the material that makes up the outfit seems to be plastic, unlike my arc suit.

Next, three people, one man, two women: all three stand against the wall, they claw at it, their fingernails, long worn away, leaving behind strings of old blood. I cannot observe their eyes or face, but I assume they are the same. The man wears the uniform of the noble’s guard, and the women appear to have removed their white suits and stand with naught but their undergarments.

Lastly, one woman: the woman is trapped and whispering something. A drop of blood leaks from her lips as she attempts to push a metal table off her chest. Yet, it is not the metal table that she cannot lift, but a massive iron coffin that is pressing the table down upon her. She wears a noble’s guard uniform, and I actually recognize this woman—Jessica, the noble’s guard. I have seen this woman a few times now, and she is always with the same person, which means I can presume the noble’s guard scratching the wall is likely him, Leo.

I stand, unmoving. My mind is blank.

As if by themselves, my body rigidly turns away from the outlandish fever dream and shuffles away.

“W-wait! Please!” Jessica whispers with a hiss.

I hesitate, but I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around that display. ‘...Apologies, Jessica, but this place belongs to Lucifer now. I shall return for my seed at a later date.’

I can hear her kick her legs. “P-please! It’s this fog; it’s done something to them!”

Her words cause me to halt. I recall my experiments with the copepods and remember that I never did discover the effects of the red haze. The image of the shrieking man who inhaled my haze appears in my mind. Then I think back to other times in the past where people had inhaled the haze and assaulted others or gorged themselves on bread until their abdomens were distended.

During my copepod test, sable caused the goose meat to become diseased. While hoary seemed to make the goose meat decay. So if sable is pestilence and hoary is death, then vermillion could very well be the haze that brings about madness. This would explain why the vermillion copepod did not work on the meat.

‘I suppose if I repair the leak, they should return to normal eventually… I presume this whole situation is likely their own blunder, and I am not one to get involved in matters that have been wrought by someone’s own hand, but now that I understand what is happening, I shall assist, learning what I may in the process.’

It takes a few wobbly steps, but I manage to turn myself around once again.

‘Do not worry, Jessica, I never truly intended to flee as far from this pseudo-hell scene as fast as I could in this accursed arc suit.’

When I arrive at Jessica’s side, her eyelids and body relax. It is rather evident she does not realize that it is not a person that stands before her but a suit full of the same vermillion haze that envelops her. With stiff finger movement, I try to calm her by doing all seven of the words I know in sign language.

If anything, the signs make her far more anxious. “Y-you can’t talk,” she asks with big eyes.

‘...Terra, I do not believe anyone actually knows this language.’

I shrug and shake my head; however, I do not believe either of these movements can be seen by Jessica with the arc suit on. From her perspective, I must look like an eerily silent blue suit that simply watches her as she struggles beneath a coffin. I am confident this must seem like a nightmare that she cannot wake from.

My gaze drifts to the iron coffin that pins Jessica beneath it. I can only assume it is considerably heavy, and Jessica must be struggling to breathe. But for a reason I cannot grasp, gazing at the coffin, an instinct emerges from deep within me, an instinct that makes me… hungry.

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