Rakna slowly opened his eyes as the incredibly numb feeling across his body registered in his mind. He tried to move his arms but the only thing that responded were his fingers. He grunted and stretched his neck to look around him.
He was lying down on a bed, comfortably snuggled under a layer of sheets, with Pronos quietly sleeping next to his pillow, curled on top of Sonata as if he was safeguarding it. His clothes had been changed to a blue pajama without his knowledge and as for the room, he noted that it was pretty normal, all things considered. If anything, it looked like a school infirmary.
If it wasn’t for his rationality, Rakna might have thought everything had just been a dream. ‘Alexa, can you fill me in on what happened while was out of commission?’ He asked internally.
[Certainly. After Gray Whisles found you, he called assistance from the closest town to inspect the village and clear the area of the Abyss Puppets while also organizing a proper burial for them. I also took the liberty to explain what had happened to him, omitting anything that you would not want to be known, of course.]
‘I didn’t know you could speak to other Hosts.’
[Technically, I cannot. However, I can communicate with other AIs when the situation calls for it.]
‘I see… What about this place?’
[You are currently in the Fifth Plateau’s Pavilion. Gray brought you here. This is the infirmary that can be found on the commune second floor.]
Rakna hummed. ‘How long have I been unconscious? And what is my current condition?’
[Not long; two hours. And you are currently in a crippled state, as I told you previously. However, after using the Volcanic Star Manifestation, the strain on your body was amplified and you might be unable to return to battle for a week at best.]
‘The volcanic star, huh…’ He groaned and forced his numb body to sit up against the headboard of the bed. ‘Show me the logs from the point I ‘changed’ onward.’
❮ ◈ ❯
Obsidian Blood has resonated with your magic affinity.
Cold Star Magic has been converted to Volcanic Star Magic. Your spells have been converted.
You have cast Ascent of the Titan. All of your mana, stamina, and psyche have been surcharged and will sustain your new form for 100 seconds.
You have cast Volcanic Star Manifestation – External Release.
Your magic’s essence will be manifested outside of your body. Once cast, the spell will summon a star with a power proportionate to the size of your internal forces.
The might of the star will be yours to manipulate at will. Should you so desire, you are able to strike the earth with it or provoke a rain of magma and fire. However, the quantity of energy is limited. The star will remain manifested for as long as you desire but will disappear once all of its power has been depleted.
The supreme influence of the volcanic star will allow you to burn everything, from the most common flammables to space itself. Very few defenses can hope to resist it.
Cost: 75% Stamina.
Cooldown: 120 Hours.
Note: The magic attack of the star is variable based on how much energy from the star is put to use. It can range from just 1 to more than 10 times your magic attack if the entire star is used. You can also use it to empower a compatible spell with it.
This combination of skills will severely drain your internal force!
Star Magic has leveled up!
Absolute Cover has leveled up!
You have injected Dáinsleif with the Volcanic Star Manifestation. Your body cannot handle the resultant magic power. You will suffer internal injuries as long as you wield it.
Ireful Shell has leveled up!
Ireful Shell has leveled up!
Magical Damage Resistance has leveled up!
Ireful Shell has begun to corrode your mind. Obsidian Blood has suppressed the effects.
Fabled Sight has leveled up!
Fatigue Resistance has broken through Exceled state!
❮ ◈ ❯
The subsequent alerts were the ones that he had already seen after he killed Verias. Rakna raised an eyebrow as he read what he had missed and sighed. He hadn’t expected the Manifestation to be so hard on him together with Ascent of the Titan.
He then took a look at the magic section of his status and noted that Volcanic Star Magic wasn’t in it no matter how long he looked at it. He guessed that it would probably only appear if his mind switched states. ‘That’s one more thing to think about… I will have to properly distinguish the main differences between Volcanic and Cold Stars.’
When he was about to read the remaining System windows, the door of the infirmary opened and a man in a white coat walked in. He was a lithe young man with long white hair tied in a low ponytail. He had clear blue eyes to go with it, which were covered by a pair of glasses, and his facial features were both lax and sharp.
“It’s good to see that you’re awake but I recommend you to not move too much,” he spoke up with a scowl when he saw him sitting on the bed. “Both your internal force and mana are depleted and will not regenerate for a few days at least. Moving in that state essentially causes you to harm yourself.”
“And you are?” Rakna retorted.
“Vegas Sazieyl. Nice to meet you, kid. I’m a member of the Throne of Glory,” he stated and put his hands in the pockets of his coat. “In other words, I’m your guildmate.”
Rakna blinked in surprise at the revelation. He didn’t expect to meet someone else from the Guild so soon, especially considering that they were all supposed to elites. “Not to sound ungrateful but… why are you the one tending to me?”
Vegas snickered and walked to a locker in the corner of the room as he answered, “I’m a doctor and I happened to be on the Fifth Plateau to deal with a Quest about a certain plague. Gray called me, saying that you were gravely injured, and here I am.”
He rummaged through the content of the locker and pulled out a syringe. He then got a flask out of nowhere and filled the syringe with the clear liquid it contained. He walked back to Rakna’s bed and grabbed his arm before rolling the sleeve back. “Relax your arm.”
“What is inside of that?” Rakna raised an eyebrow in confusion.
“A stimulant made with alchemy. It includes some other drugs and painkillers too. While there is no medicine capable of helping you in your state, bar the most legendary ones, with this, you should be able to move around without tearing your ligaments apart or cause internal bleeding.”
“I thought you said I should just not move.”
“Yes. That would be ideal. But I know your type,” Vegas responded as he injected the tonic. “You people just can’t help yourselves to disregard a doctor’s warnings thinking that you will be strong enough to deal with it over time.”
Rakna snorted at that and flexed his arm once the needle was pulled out of his arm. He didn’t really agree with his words but at the same time, he couldn’t deny them either.
“There. It should take about five minutes for the tonic to kick in. Don’t forget; don’t do anything crazy until your internal force actually starts rekindling itself. Potions or pills won’t work on you as well since your body is too weak to actually process them. They will just release energy in your body for a short moment before dispersing,” he said as he put his hands back inside his pockets.
“It’s like trying to fill up a broken bowl. Thanks to the lesser regeneration factor you have, you’re already lucky enough that you were not permanently affected by whatever you did at that village, so stay put, will you?”
Rakna grunted positively and Vegas nodded before heading back to the door. “I’ll be on my way now. I have a Quest to finish. We’ll meet again. Gray will come to see you later to ask about what happened in more detail.”
“You’re welcome.” Vegas was about to open the door when he remembered something. “Ah, and, I almost forgot, you have a visitor.”
Rakna tilted his head. “Visitor? Who?”
“She’s waiting outside. I’ll tell her to go in. See you again, Rakna,” he said and left the infirmary without any further delay.
Rakna watched him leave puzzled before trying to move his body a bit more. The tonic would need more time to do its predicted effects but he could already feel a difference. He slowly pushed the sheets and repositioned himself to sit on the edge of the bed.
His movements inadvertently caused Pronos to wake up. The little snake groggily opened his eyes, which quickly fell on Rakna. He blinked several times then brusquely jumped on his head while hissing happily.
“Calm down, little guy. Calm down,” Rakna muttered as he barely managed to not fall off from just that small nudge. Everything about his body seemed to be weaker. There wasn’t any visible change in his status but he would say that it basically felt as if he had regressed to a value of one for each of his attributes.
As Pronos ‘danced’ joyfully on his head and shoulders, the door opened again and Rakna turned his head to look at it. The instant he saw who it was, his mouth spoke before his brain, “You.”
“Yep, me!” Kaelith struck a mock, overly cute pose as she stepped inside the infirmary. “Surprised? I’m sure you are. Come on, say how happy you are to see me.”
“I’m distressed to know that I might have to deal with you outside of the shop as well.”
“Now, that’s just mean, wolfy. Even though I’m here to see how you’re doing,” she chuckled before sitting on the second bed right in front of Rakna. She cocked her head to the side. “You got a third tail, huh?” She commented after taking a glance at the three fluffy appendages behind him.
“Yes. Though I didn’t have a real chance to think about it until now,” he said as he controlled his tails so that they would flail around.
Kaelith smiled softly then looked at him. “Say, want to talk about it?
Rakna was taken aback by the question. He frowned at her and after a few seconds of observing her expression, he confirmed that she was genuinely asking that for his sake. “…who told you?”
“No one,” the vixen shrugged. “I just know that a village has been discovered to have been used as a farmhouse by an Abyss Ruler for hundreds of years and that you happened to be the one who both stumbled upon it and fixed the situation by killing said member of the Abyss. Impressive, by the way.”
“How did you deduce that I would have something to ‘talk’ about from that alone?”
“I didn’t. But there’s one thing I know for sure; your eyes,” she said as she pointed at them. “They’re as dead as always but today, I feel like they are even emptier than usual. I also don’t believe that some crazy megalomaniac would be enough to have such an impact on you. So, something must have happened.”
Rakna would be lying if he said he wasn’t surprised by her observations. He himself was aware of how little he showed on the outside. He could have accepted if the person who had said that to him was either Allan or Flavia, but instead, it was an impish woman he had known for barely two days.
He didn’t know if she was just that perceptive or if he unconsciously allowed her to see more than he would normally. ‘Then again… I have to admit this woman has the uncanny ability to make me relax by just sitting there,’ he thought to himself with a bit of irony. He closed his eyes and then opened his mouth.
“Honestly, there is nothing much to say,” he uttered without changing his expression. “I just met a little girl who wanted to see the world. I talked to her about what there was out there and she asked if I would show it to her. I told her I would if I had the occasion.”
Kaelith let out a melancholic smile and Pronos took on a sad expression.
“Then, I left to see what was hindering this child’s dreams. I made a blunder; awoke something I should not have. I returned to the sight of a mother killing herself to protect her daughter and a father trying to kill the latter. Afterward, I was forced to end the life of a crying girl who couldn’t control her own body anymore and only wanted to follow her mother.”
Rakna stopped there and opened his eyes. “That’s it.”
“…there’s only one thing I want to say,” the nine-tailed fox said solemnly. “This wasn’t your fault. It will never be. So, please, don’t blame yourself, okay?”
“I don’t blame myself, foxy,” Rakna grunted and ran his hand through his hair. “No, only fools try to redirect the blame onto themselves to avoid the actual consequences of their actions. There is not an ounce of guilt in me right now. All I know is that I’m angry. Enraged. Furious to the point I would like to just burn the whole world to quench this feeling.”
Kaelith’s eyes widened as she saw his eyes turn reddish while the white of his wolf characteristics flickered to red. He gritted his teeth and reigned in his anger with a sigh. “Anyway, thank you for worrying about me, I guess. But I don’t need help at the moment. I just need to make peace with myself more than anything.”
She gazed at him with a complicated look before standing up. “I see. Let’s go then.”
Rakna raised his head with scrunched eyebrows. “Go? Where?”
The vixen grinned at him. “You need time to recover, don’t you? So, that means you’re free. In that case, while I’m in the lower Plateaus, let’s hang out. In other words, wanna go on a date, wolfy?”