If anything, Rakna should have anticipated this could happen. When the last bit of the heart went down his throat, his entire body heated up and made him go through a pain similar or even greater than when he unlocked his Soul Core.
“Shit, not again…” He muttered as Obsidian Blood flickered between dormant and active.
However, this time, he knew there was a difference. This pain wasn’t a warning for some sort of internal failure like with his Soul Core. It wasn’t doing anything dangerous to him and the fact that Alexa had decided to stay silent was proof of that.
Thus, Rakna just endured and gritted his teeth. Unbeknownst to him, his lupine features began to change at a slow pace. It was nothing obvious but the darkest colors of his tails and ears became the same as the Dusk Lion; even dimmer than they were before.
The appendages themselves were affected as well. His ears became a bit longer and his ear tufts grew in size. As for his tails, they also elongated and simultaneously became a bit thinner but their outward appearance remained that of a wolf.
Then, it was his eyes that changed. While normally, his pupils only became slits when he used The Harvester, they now seemed to be stuck in that state, just like a cat.
❮◈❯ Pain Resistance has broken through the Exceled State! ❮◈❯
After what felt like hours, the pain finally disappeared as if it was never there and Rakna rolled over on the floor covered in sweat. “I swear if this continues to happen…” He grumbled under his breath as the System windows invaded his vision without waiting for him to recover.
❮ ◈ ❯
Activation of The Harvester.
The heart has been assimilated. The Host is partially compatible with divine essence. A clash of opposites has occurred with the Core Gene. The clash has been assuaged by the Second Gene.
Third Gene Established: Dusk Lion King
Current Number of Genetic Factors Assimilated: 3/4
1St Factor (Core Genome): Nine-Tailed Wolf. Three-Tails Unlocked. Next Tail: Lv.39/Lv.50.
Currently Attuned Aptitudes: True Smell of the Wolf God, Claws, Shape Shift, Shadow Step.
2nd Factor: Royal Luquila. Next Wings: Lv.39/Lv.100
Currently Attuned Aptitudes: Luquila’s Wings, Flight, Fabled Sight, Lesser Regeneration.
3rd Factor: Dusk Lion King. Next Layer: Lv.39/Lv.50
Currently Attuned Aptitudes: Shuttle Specter Physique, Cross Dimensional Sagacity.
❮ ◈ ❯
“No mutation this time since I’ve already assimilated divine energy from Aquila,” Rakna grunted as he sat up. “But the incompatibility between wolves and lions was in all likelihood the cause of the pain,” he added then decided to take a look at the two new aptitudes he got; one was the legendary trait of the Dusk Lions and the other was an active skill.
❮ ◈ ❯
Shuttle Specter Physique: The famous aptitude allowing one to step in and out of overlapping dimensions without being shredded to pieces.
When actuating this trait, the user becomes an entity independent from space and time for a varying duration of time. There is said to be an infinity of dimensions but the most notorious as well as the contextually relevant one is the Spiritual Dimension of Enthymio.
Enthymio is known to possess 7 Layers. They are as follow:
Antanasia – The Gradation of Reflection
Onera – The Cloud of Dreams
Enkata – The Darkness of Depths
Anastrofa – The Falsehood of Inversion
Katastra – The Lands of Ruin
Katarra – The Skies of Collapse
Synekeia – The Road of Continuity
However, there exists one more Layer. It is regarded as the irregular 8th Layer that none but the royal linage of the Dusk Lions could ever hope to reach:
Proela – The Root of Origin
Current Layers Accessible: Antanasia. Next Layer: Onera – Lv.50
Note: Enthymio is a dimension that will eternally reject invaders. While Dusk Lions possess the ability to enter and leave at will, the rejection will gradually tire them and if too much time is spent in the dimension, the user may either perish or be kicked out without a way to return until the dimension has ‘overlooked’ them on its own.
The Gradation of Reflection is the First Layer of Enthymio as well as the one that every Dusk Lion in existence learns from birth. It allows the user to plunge into the spiritual manifestation of reflections.
Through the medium of any reflective surface, the user can enter what is commonly known as the Mirror World. Ice, water, glass, gold, silver… as long as something produces a reflection, a connection will exist in the Mirror World.
Note: Beware of where you step in. The Mirror World leads everywhere and nowhere. One mistake will lead to a fate worse than death.
❮ ◈ ❯
“That’s a pretty loaded description,” Rakna muttered. “There isn’t a clear instruction on how to use it and there’s also no mention of a specific cost… Trii, give me a mirror big enough to fit me.”
|| Acknowledged. || The interface responded and a large mirror appeared in front of him without delay. He obviously noticed the changes in his appearance but didn’t mind it in the slightest after literally ceasing to be human on the first day of his life in the System. He walked to the mirror and placed his hand on it before frowning.
He felt… something under his palm. He was both touching the mirror and hovering above it as if he was on the edge of an imperceptible barrier. Then, a certain urge came to him. He looked at his own reflection and opened his mouth, “[Reflect My Core, Antanasia.]”
Those words freely came out of his mouth and the next thing he knew, colors were no more. There was just black and white. Even his own body was achromatic. The only exception was the mirror he had still his hand on.
He scowled and slowly pulled away. He blinked at the colored version of himself in his reflection then looked around. The Dusk Lion’s body, the tiled roof, the empty training room… everything was the same as the ‘other side’, for the lack of a better word. But it felt empty in some way.
“Trii, can you hear me?” He asked out loud but no answer came to him. “Alexa?”
[I am here, Rakna. It seems I was brought along with you.]
Rakna hummed and walked around the mirror with a pensive expression. “I think I get it. First of all, touching a reflective surface is enough to allow me to switch into the Mirror World. It doesn’t need to be big enough for my body. This place seems to be completely disconnected from the real world. I would say it’s like a spiritual copy of the real world but purely in appearance.”
He continued his reasoning as he headed toward the exit of the training room. “Which means that nothing is actually built. It just reflected. So, that would imply…” He mumbled and tried to open the door and he easily did so without a sound. He stepped out of the room, looked at the weird black and white version of the Pavilion, and closed the door behind him.
He then backtracked and opened the door again without any problem. That fact in itself was the key to understand this place. No system prompts had been issued and the door hadn’t locked itself automatically like it usually does. In the most literal sense of the word, the door was a reflection of the real one in nothing but outward appearance.
“Interesting…” Rakna commented as he returned to the mirror. “The risk that is supposedly worse than death probably refers to the potential lack of reflection. If I ever enter this world in a place with no way of escape and someone takes away the reflective surface I used, I would be stuck for eternity in here.”
As he was gradually coming to an understanding of this power, Rakna began to feel a bit tense. It was a bit like the impulsive weakness caused by his crippled state but way more tame and much more external.
“Is this the rejection?” He asked himself and looked at his hands. “I’ll have to experiment on this ability later on,” he told himself and placed his hand back on the mirror. He repeated the chant he had intoned earlier and, in the blink of an eye, he was back on the correct side of the mirror.
He stepped back from the mirror and sighed. “You can retrieve it now, Trii.” He didn’t need to say it twice as the mirror was gone before he could even react. “All right, next one…”
❮ ◈ ❯
Cross Dimensional Sagacity (Lv.1): The ability to sense dimensional displacements with the five senses. Once the skill is activated, the user will become capable of pinpointing with perfect accuracy the focal points of the dimensions composing an object as well as detecting distortions that cannot be normally comprehended such as paradoxes and spatial irregularities.
❮ ◈ ❯
“Another vague one…” He grumbled and mentally commanded for this new skill of his to activate and immediately, he lost all of his bearings and collapsed on the ground on all four. His head was spinning because of the chaotic flux of feedback entering his head.
He felt like he had suddenly been dropped inside a vortex of mismatched elements. He couldn’t even focus a single second to try and inspect one of them. Ultimately, he quickly deactivated the skill and took a deep breath.
He panted for a few seconds and let his irritation out with a groan. “Alexa… this system of yours is a piece of crap. It would be nice if I didn’t have to go through this kind of thing every time I test a new ability.”
[…would you like me to file a complaint?]
“…nice one,” Rakna sighed and decided to turn the skill back on when he was calm enough. If he wasn’t wrong, the cause of his horrible dizziness just now was because of the range. This skill’s range seemed to be considerably bigger than he imagined.
For a short moment, he had perceived all the dimensions inside the Pavilion in a very condensed manner. Considering the dimensional clutter this place was, it was no wonder that it had been too much for him.
So, this time, with a bit more care, he made sure to restrain it as best as he could. He also added a part of his soul power to the equation because until now, it had never disappointed him.
“Much better,” he commented as he eyed the countless silver strings floating around his vision. He raised an eyebrow and tried to touch one only for it to escape his grasp. “It said the focal points of an object, right?” He droned. “Trii, materialize a boulder. I don’t care about the size.”
|| Acknowledged. || It followed his command and a large boulder, nearly two meters high, flashed into existence inside the training room.
Rakna instantly noticed that there were some strings attached to it. However, they were not silver but brown. He tried to grab one but it fled from his touch. “Focal…” He repeated and mused before extending his claws.
He squinted his eyes and accurately pierced the very base of the string, at the exact point where it was connected to the boulder. Then, with a small thrust, Rakna watched in mild shock as several cracks formed around the tip of his finger.
❮◈❯ Cross Dimensional Sagacity has leveled up! ❮◈❯
The damages it had sustained weren’t huge or anything but this effect was more than impressive already. If he had used more strength on that, he might have completely obliterated the stone.
“Though, I can expect boulders like these to have many structural weaknesses… The same thing can’t be said about living beings or crafted items,” Rakna said and disengaged the skill, reverting his senses to normal.
“Anyway, this should be enough for today. My stamina is still decreasing, even if I’m not directly using it,” he uttered and left the training room after retrieving the Dusk Lion’s body. “Time to rest.”