“Nonono, you have to prime it yourself, yes!” Zerei assured Sofia, her arms crossed before her.
“Why would that matter?”
“The priming process has two goals, not only does it charge it with a lot of mana, but it also rewrites the rituals to fit your natural flow! That’s the most important part, yes! If someone charges it for you, it will be all wrong.”
“That is going to take forever…”
“The effects would never be as strong as they are if it wasn’t done like that. I can prime it for you in about a month if you want, yes, but the priming effects would be a fifth of what they should at most,” Zerei explained. As a former Runecrafter, she was very familiar with this relic of her tribe. She had closely studied it to try reproducing the effect. Sofia didn’t like the thought of losing it, but she had offered to give it back since it was the only thing Zerei had left from her tribe. But the Avian refused. She wanted nothing from her savior. She was looking to repay Sofia one way or another.
Sofia was shocked that someone who had been trapped for two thousand years could still function so well. The Avian Apostle was sharp and surprisingly sane if easily flustered. Sofia thought it a bit insensitive to ask how that was possible, but she was too curious, so she couldn’t help but hint at it during their conversation about the staff.
“You know, if you want to ask something, you can, yes. I will answer anything I can; I owe you at least this much, yes!”
She’s a bit too wise to be tricked by something like this. Which is even more impressive considering that the last time she spoke to anyone before that was… Well, better be honest then.
“Sorry, I’m just impressed at how well you’re doing. I would probably be going insane if I spent that much time trapped in place…”
“Oh no, it was bad, awful. In the beginning, at least. I think I got used to it after a few hundred years, yes. I spent most of the time sleeping, mind you, but it was terribly frustrating. And boring!” Zerei walked around the room as she recounted the misery of her imprisonment, “And… It was only when the hope of getting out showed itself that I broke. That was... Uh… A bit of a shameful display, no? You even stepped into the trap because of me…”
I know she said the yes’ and no’s were a quirk of the Avian language, but it’s pretty distracting…
“I don’t even know what to say; your mind is strong, much more than mine. And I’m already a special case.”
“You say this because you haven’t gone through the third trial, yes... Ah, you need to go for the second. Are you ready for it?”
“The trials were already the same two thousand years ago?” Sofia asked, incredulous. Not that it was unbelievable, but that was such a long time. What seemed illogical was how unheard of were very high-level people considering how old the system seemed to be. Unless something prevents people from going higher than a certain point… The filters, then. Explains the name…
“Uh? Humans haven’t made up a new calendar have they, no? Is the year not 3211, no? They hadn’t changed for a thousand years before, so I don't think they would change after. Though I suppose they could, yes.”
A thousand years before… “Is the current year… The age of the system?!” Sofia asked, shifting sitting positions on the bed while Zerei kept walking around restlessly.
“You don’t even know that, no? What did you think it was? It’s the year the system was created, yes,” Zerei answered matter of factly. Sofia could hear her mumble afterward, “The education level seems to have fallen with time, yes…”
I can’t argue with that...
The system is three thousand years old then. That does explain the calendar year. It does feel like something that should be common knowledge. I’m starting to believe I need an extended stay at one of the magic academies… There’s no way they wouldn’t teach something that basic…
“Yes! I wasn’t born then, but that is what I was taught, yes. The three admins created the system, changing the world in the year zero, yes. But, that is all I know. There is no need to ask for more, no.”
“You say there are three admins? I once had a system message which said there was none…”
“My tribe didn’t know anything else. These were already old legends at the time, yes, but some of the older texts mentioned three admins creating the system. That was the only time I heard of them, yes.”
The conversation continued until late in the afternoon. It was a back-and-forth of Sofia getting information about the old world and Zerei getting up to speed with the times. They discussed the first trial, which hadn’t changed from the general theme to the location. It was all the same. Zerei had recounted how her task had been to defend a coastal Dwarven city during a Goblin invasion coming from the sea.
Sofia also discovered she wasn’t the only one to get a gift from Aphenoreth. Zerei had received something, too, a small string tied around her wrist meant to suppress her passive [Insanity] aura until she learned to do it herself.
“Do you even need to eat?” Sofia questioned, observing Zerei, busy tracing a ‘food cooking ritual’ inside an iron pot Sofia gave her. She had just returned to the inn’s room after going out by herself to get the ingredients Zerei had described for her ‘Zei Special’ while the demon had been busy taking her first bath in forever.
“Not really, no. But I haven’t had anything to eat in two thousand years, and I promised myself this would be the first thing I eat when I’m out, yes! Some of your replacement ingredients are a bit weird, yes, but they will be decent substitutes, I believe.”
“I don’t even understand what you’re going to do with these, honestly.”
It’s mostly fish with a few vegetables and a bag of rice. Seriously, what is she going to do with so many different fishes? The vendor looked at me really strangely and shook his head when I asked for a Brogerfell, and then he gave me this weird ball of slime instead. What even is a Brogerfell, and why did he look so disgusted?! And why a runny ball of slime?! And why can’t I [Identify] it? And why does she look so happy with it ?!!!
“Don’t worry about it, no, it will be good. Hmm… Let me tell you more about the second trial while I do this, yes?” she answered with her whole head and right arm in the pot, her voice reverberating from inside.
“Sure, last time someone tried to say anything about it, they got censored by the system, though. I don’t know if you can tell me much more.” Tyrene did try her best, and she blanked a few times. I wonder where she is now; we could run into her if we search for the lich, it would be nice.
“I have my ways, yes. The second trial’s name probably hasn’t changed, no? I can’t say it, but you should know.”
I know it's the Ranking Spire now. I have no clue if it has changed.
Zerei continued, her left arm searching blindly around the pot for one of the inscribing tools she had asked Sofia to make with her ability to shape bones. “So, there are two parts to the trial, and you want to focus on keeping your strength for the second part, yes. I don’t see a way that you could fail the first part, no, since you beat the mutated me back into shape. So make sure to be healthy and ready for the second part.”
“That’s interesting to know. Will it be long?”
“The first part is not so much, no. The second part you want to be as long as possible, yes.”
Sofia hummed to indicate she understood and was waiting for more advice, but half a minute later, Zerei was saying nothing, still scribbling a ritual inside the post with her head in it.
“Ah- Ae Eh, yes! No! Sorry, no, I was lost in my work. Eh, I don’t believe I can say much more, no, but I can say this: go simultaneously with powerful people if possible, yes. It doesn’t change much, but it will make it faster.”
“At the same time? So it is not a solo thing like the first… Is there a risk that going with someone else might make them fail the trial?” I wouldn’t want that.
“The Trial no. Fewer rewards, maybe. But Trials are fair. Everyone should have what they deserve. Who else is there is not that important of a matter, no. As I said, it will make it faster. That's all, yes. You can go with friends if they are strong. My tribe used to go in pairs, but it doesn't really matter, no.” Zerei popped her head out of the iron pot, “I’m done! Now we can cook, yes!”