Prologue – How It All Began
I awoke, one moment I wasn’t the next I was. My first experience was to feel. Sense the stone around me, the space in which I was, and my floating body in the center of the room.
It felt right to be here, comfortable even. I floated like this, in the center of the space, for a long time. While being cozy, I looked at the stone walls around me. The walls weren’t smooth at all, cracks ran down the coarse surface.
What was behind those cracks, I couldn’t sense? But this didn’t bother me, because I felt too lazy to do something so unnecessary. After I looked at my surroundings, I just calmly floated in the empty room, not thinking, just relaxing.
Sadly, with time the feeling of coziness slowly diminished. At first, it was just a slightly uncomfortable itch, though later this developed into a feeling of pressure. To my now, horror, this pressure began to build up rapidly and I hectically searched for a way to relieve it.
While searching I felt a distinct feeling in me. A hint, it felt as if I had done this specific thing before, I just couldn’t remember when. I followed this instinct and it led me to slowly spread my senses outside of my domain. I stretched its borders and tried to glance further and expand my area.
At first, my domain wouldn’t budge. But finally, after I put my whole mind behind it, I felt it give back and my consciousness rapidly flew inside the nearest crack.
I panicked, I thought I died. I was in a bubble of darkness. Luckily, after calming down I noticed that I could still feel my core, simply floating in the center of the room. My bubble of awareness now encased, not only the rough walls but also the small crack I had explored.
Together with the expansion, the pressure diminished, only to return shortly after, increasing slightly faster than before. Now knowing what to do, I explored all the cracks I could find within my room.
Most of them were quite small. Except one, which continued on and on, further away from my room. After trying to spread through the never-ending crack my expansion speed slowed down. It was as if I was pushing against a slowly increasing force, which after a while arrested my momentum, and I couldn’t push any further.
With the pressure now greatly diminished but still rising I experimented with my domain. The newfound clarity and eagerness I gained through the expansion made me try out any new instincts.
Once specific instincts taught me to pull the stone towards me, to absorb it and expand further down small corridors. Looking closer, I noticed the stone being turned into nothing.
I inspected what was happening and sensed the stone turning into some form of energy, which then dissipated into the air.
The power the stone turned into reminded me of the pressure I felt. I could even sense the pressure rising faster when I transformed more of it. I wanted to stop the transformation, out of fear the pressure would rise too high, but another instinct stopped me.
It wanted me to absorb the power the stone was turning into. So I let it guide me through the necessary steps. Slowly absorbing the power the stone turned into, the pressure diminished, and I could feel myself becoming more.
It was the best I ever felt, even better than the coziness from the beginning of my existence. I absorbed all the energy I could find around me, hungrily devouring every last bit.
After a certain threshold was met, I felt the coziness return, but I ignored it and continued.
Later I felt the pressure flip. Instead of it building around me and crushing me, it now wanted to escape from my center.
More intelligent, because I had absorbed so much energy, I remembered that I could turn the stone into energy to balance it out. As this began to work I resumed my feast. Slowly enlarging the space around me.
In my delirious state from absorbing so much energy, I ignored the slowly building pressure wanting to break out of me. I wasn’t able to transform the stone fast enough and the energy in the cavern was decreasing.
The now, way bigger than before, cavern let out a creek. A stone dislodged from the cavern's roof, narrowly missing my core. To my absolute horror, a crack began to build, down from the top of the cavern. Slowly making its way towards the floor.
I immediately stopped transforming the stone and waited, frozen in fear and trepidation.
The speed at which the crack grew slowed down. And together with the feeling of coziness returning, the crack stopped getting larger and the earth calmed down.
In an epiphany, which surprised even me, I concluded that a stable energy level would support the stone around me. The feeling of coziness supported my assumption and let me know when the energy was in equilibrium.
Now having calmed my hunger for energy, I began to think seriously for the first time. I thought for a long time. While the energy level around and inside me slowly increased making me more intelligent.
I returned from my meditative state in absolute calm. But a hint of eagerness was underlying my every thought. In my mind, I had built a plan. I would enlarge the long-reaching crack so I could spread my domain through it.
This would allow me to expand the size of my domain, allowing me to see more and absorb even larger amounts of energy. Initiating my masterfully thought-out plan, I steadily increased the size of the crack while spreading my domain along with it.
After a while the tunnel I explored split apart. This let me discover a new instinct. It guided me to split my mind, to do multiple things simultaneously. Following my instinct's advice, I carefully tried to spread my influence in both directions. After a while, I succeeded and successfully split my mind in two.
Continuing the expansion of my domain was four times as difficult as before. Not only did I have to control two minds, but because of the split, both of them were relatively simple-minded.
This raised the difficulty of digging and spreading my domain further but I wanted to try this new instinct. My expansion began to speed up when I became used to splitting my mind. Even more so when the mind on the right side hit the end of the tunnel. Thus, returning all of my concentration on spreading into only one direction.
After a long time of spreading into divides of the tunnel, I felt the energy level I expanded into slowly diminishing. Together with the density getting lower I, for the first time in my life, felt light hit my domain.
I continued my expansion and to my grief, the light slowly vanished, only to return shortly after. During my expansion into the light, it got stronger, and I could feel the energy level getting lower and lower.
The light I could feel on my domain was not perpetual. It would often switch off, for the darkness to return, only to come back the next cycle. The cycles also awoke another of my instincts. It was a bit of knowledge informing me that the cycle was called day and night.
I observed this routine of light and darkness for a long time. Days going by rapidly, after a while I noticed the nights getting brighter than before. Together with the lighter and darker nights the weather outside of my zone turned colder.
I saw water, fall down from the top onto the floor and one day even small white bits floated down onto the ground. The cold weather turned warm after a while and I saw the first creature entering my domain.
Once the small animal entered my domain my sense of time slowed down, acclimating to the one of the little intruder. This was also when I noticed the insects that had lived inside my domain for quite some time.
The first creature was quite small and had grey fur and cute-looking ears. While observing the small creature I felt a scream of danger inside my domain. It came from a larger animal following the first. It was orange and had a bushy white and orange tail which lazily swayed behind its back. It was larger than the first creature and awakened a feeling of danger inside me.
The Orange creature fell upon the Grey one and killed it in one quick bite. Together with a large amount of energy leaving the mouse I felt information flow into me. I now knew that the Grey thing was called a mouse. A small rodent living in burrows in the earth and hunting bugs or searching for seeds.
As I went over the information I learned from the creature. Another instinct awoke inside me, it pushed me to try to create the creature I had just absorbed. Following the instructions, I collected slightly more energy than I absorbed from the creature and forced it into a point.
After manifesting the energy, I forced upon, the now mist, the picture of the mouse together with all I knew about it. The mist spread over the shape of the mouse. And slowly a smaller than before mouse started to form out of the energy I now knew to be called mana.
Upon dropping to the ground, the mouse started to look around. After a nudge from me, it ran down the tunnel towards the orange creature to end its terror. What I didn’t know at this time, was that the mouse wasn’t as powerful as I imagined it to be.
It reached the orange creature, feasting upon the previous mouse's corpse. Only, once there, the orange creature looked up and ended my defender’s life with a quick bite to the neck. This led me to create more mice to overrun the intruder.
I wanted to build an army of mice to kill all my future enemies. Though sadly I was limited by my intelligence. Together with my energy being used for the creation of the body I felt my intelligence being infused into its mind. The amount was not much per mouse, but with a group of 40, it was quite noticeable.
Nevertheless, I send my army of rodents towards the orange monster which was now eating my first defender. The creature raised its head and had a quizzical look on its face when it heard my army arrive. When it first saw them, the intruder froze in shock and tried to flee.
Though my retribution was already upon him. The fox tried to defend itself but quickly fell prey to the mice. They calmed down from their rampage and fell back into their normal routines. Except for the largest mouse, which feasted upon the fox’s body.
The Energy I got from the fox was significantly more than that of the mouse. The information I gleamed from killing the creature, too was much more complex compared to the simplicity from the mouse. The fox was intelligent and clever, a sneaky hunter, praying for rabbits and small animals.
I used its template to summon 4 foxes and this finally made me feel safe, at least for the time. Now that I felt secure I had a look over the information I got from the fight. I now know more about my surroundings and the creatures living outside of me.
Though the most intriguing thing I found was the evolution-tier system and how it worked together with mana. Every creature I absorbed intrinsically knew something about it and enlargened my knowledge.
The mouse and fox that entered my domain were tier 0 creatures, at the bottom of the ecosystem. I also learned that I was a tier-1 creature, someone who has infused its body with enough mana to be of the first tier or was born strong enough. I never remembered to evolve so I assumed that I was born as a tier 1 creature.
This system was very interesting to me and the mechanic of cultivation mana was a peculiar subject. With my knowledge of evolution and tiers increased I now knew that I wasn’t yet safe at all and still had a long way before I could ever assume to be!!!