The other name I may have gone with for this chapter was 'Birth of the Mighty Sorceress!'
Chapter 4: There is nothing to fear but fear itself. And giant bunny rabbits.
Dawn approached the city of Richmond, and the gutter of a side street a despondent young woman sighed to herself. She’d been up since the previous morning searching for what she wanted, but had been rejected and shunned at every turn. In New World she went by the name Athena and had joined the new online world with a single purpose: to become a sorceress! Slinging spells of fiery doom across a chaotic battlefield and scorching the ground before her was an old childhood dream, and with computer games stepping into the realms of virtual reality she had thought that it would soon be achieved.
But alas learning magic was not so easy as one might expect in New World. It was not that the spells themselves were hard to learn, oh no. It did not require a keen intellect or high levels to be taught. No the one thing that was needed to learn magic, the one thing that no newbie player had yet acquired, was money. Spell tomes cost dozens of gold a piece while wizards charged extortionate prices for any would be apprentice, and Athena didn’t even have a single silver to her name.
So she had spent the entire day running around begging various merchants or mages to give her a discount or charity. She knew she was rather attractive, silky blonde hair that tumbled down her back and cute, delicate facial features had meant there was no end to the compliments and jealous looks she received. But here in new world she was penniless and without an ounce of fame or charm to win any of the NPCs over, nor did she have any idea how to use her femininity. Her naïve attempts at seduction had even left one man laughing.
Eventually she’d given up and sat in desolate despair on the edge of a road in some residential area or another. Every now and then groups of people would pass by, NPCs and players alike whispering about the forlorn girl sat in the dirt. Several minutes passed like that, until one man broke from his route and walked nervously towards her. A grey beard covered most of his face and his thick, ornate robes marked him as a member of some clergy or another.
“What is the matter my child?” He asked in a kindly old voice.
Athena was silent for a moment. Suddenly, with a long, drawn out sniff, she cried, “No one will teach me magic!”
The priest, known as Michael, opened his mouth to respond, but he just could not find the words. A poor little girl abandoned alone on the street and she was whining about learning magic? “How old are you child, where are your parents?”
“18,” She sobbed, tears trailing down her cheeks.
What? From her short and slender frame he’d guessed she’d be 14 at the very oldest! Michael was a man of the world, and had worked in his church for nearly 40 years now. A crying child was no problem for him to deal with, but this tearful young adult was something outside of even his vast experience. But as a man of the Goddess Sirona there was no way he could leave her alone. Making his resolution Michael once again spoke to comfort the girl.
“My child, if it’s alright with you I’d be happy to share what knowledge I have in the mystic arts.”
Athena immediately looked up, eyes glistening and cheeks moist. “Really…?” She asked, her voice tinged with hope.
“Of course! We priests are men of our word. While my skills may have dulled a bit with age I can certainly show you a thing or two about healing magic!” He declared, puffing his chest out for effect.
Athena leapt to her feet, face beaming, and pulled Michael into an energetic embrace. “Thank you thank you thank you!” She yelled, any trace of her earlier sorrow vanishing like morning mist. Healing magic had not been her target, but anything was a start. Her mind once again began spinning images of epic fire fights with armies of lesser foes incinerated by her dark sorceries.
Of course the old priest saw nothing of the chaos and destruction dancing just behind her eyes, seeing only a truly grateful innocent girl ecstatic that she would be able to use healing powers. “What’s your name child?” Michael asked, surprisingly glad to have made such an eager and cheerful unexpected young apprentice.
“Eliz- I men Athena! What about you mister?”
“Me? I’m Bishop Michael of the church of Sirona. Come; let’s get out of the spotlight.” He said, glancing around at the crowd they’d drawn with their mini drama.
They pushed passed the onlookers and headed briskly down the street. “Where I we going?” Athena excitedly asked.
“You can take your lessons at my church. Worry not, it’s little further.”
‘His’ church? She had noticed he’d referred to himself as Bishop, though she had no idea about their hierarchy in her world a Bishop was higher than just a priest, so his own church in a major city was probably not a stretch. Maybe she’d just been attached to an amazing person?
A collection of spires poked out above the rooftops in the direction they were headed. A religious district, maybe with all kinds of gods on display, Athena guessed. As they turned the final corner she realised how incredibly wrong she was. She’d seen cathedrals before of course, there’d generally be at least one in every major city in Europe, but the towering monstrosity before her would put to shame even the greatest works of her home’s medieval architects.
Taking up the same amount of space as Richmonds huge Main Square, the simple ‘church’ that Michael was leading her towards dominated the entire surrounding area. The huge main hall could have fit a football pitch inside, with room to spare, while the tallest of its spires rivalled even modern skyscrapers in height. Intricate murals spanned entire sections of walls which depicted ancient myths or scenes of celebration and flanking the massive entrance were a pair of fearsome stone guardians, each reaching five times the height of a man.
Athena could not help but stop to marvel at the scene. Michael, however, moved completely undaunted to the giant doorway. He stopped a little way a head when he realised she was not following so she quickly rushed to keep pace.
“First time seeing Richmond’s Great Cathedral? It’s usually the first thing travellers’ visit, well this or the palace…”
The palace? There was another building on the same scale as this one? Athena could hardly believe it; she’d spent the entirety of her time chasing after leads on magic so she didn’t even think to go sight-seeing. But she had been missing out on two magnificent wonders.
As they approached the entryway the crowds grew thicker with visitors coming and going. Michael led her into the main hall. Rows upon rows of benches were laid out neatly before them, illuminated by the coloured light from massive stain-glass windows. He turned down a side passage and eventually the murmurs of the masses faded away behind them. Occasionally they’d pass another priest or monk, who’d bow respectfully to Michael before returning to their business. Athena was soon lost by the twisting maze of tight stone corridors and by the time they’d reached their destination she was quite sure she’d never be able to find her own way out.
The door they’d stopped before looked the same as dozens on the route, so much so that it was surprising Michael had found the right one. “Home sweet home, come on in.”
Athena carefully stepped into the cramped room. It wasn’t small, it was just packed with miscellaneous items that seemed to cover just about every available surface, including the bed and chairs.
“Well now my child, I have a mass to give in about 2 hours, but seeing as you’re so eager I believe we can make an immediate start. Just dump those papers on the floor and make yourself comfortable.” He said, gesturing to a seat piled high with yellowed files. But before Athena had even reached it he’d begun his lecture, somehow digging out an old textbook from an overburdened desk. “Now where to start? Ah yes, the basic of magic is of course…”
Even with the unexpected teleportation, even with the appearance of his nefarious adversary, even with the shocking inclusion of his younger sister, it had taken Divus just a fraction of a second to react. He span around and whisked Clair into his arms, then started fleeing from the giant bunny. It didn’t matter if killing the rabbit was his main objective, even if it meant failing protecting his sister was always his top priority.
The rabbit let loose another massive roar, an ironically comical sight that Divus was in no mood to laugh at right then, and gave chase. Quickly catching up to the siblings it swiped with one massive paw to swat them to the ground. Clair screamed in his ear as he started to dodge.
Pure luck and instinct saved them as Divus ducked out the way, turning on his foot under the bunny’s blow. He one-handedly wielded his sword and cut across the back of a huge fluffy leg before sprinting once more in the opposite direction. His clumsy attempt at hamstringing his foe had slowed it a little, but also served to further enrage it as it bounded towards them once more.
There was no cover of any sort; no woods to hide in or walls to hide behind. Endless grassland stretched out to the horizon. The only way they could even break line of sight with the chasing beast was to lie behind a gently sloping hill, but it was too close for that possibility. Nor could Divus effectively fight it with his sister in is arms. At some point he’d slung her over his shoulder, where she was yelling something at him. It was impossible to hear thanks to the wind streaming past as he ran, which might have been a blessing all things considered…
After another minute of running, and the rabbit no further behind them, Divus was beginning to run out of steam. Endurance seemed to cover stamina as well as defence, so he’d begun regretting not assigning it more points early into the run. His sister was still spouting nonsensical gibberish so he was on his own in formulating a plan. Fighting it while holding her would get them both killed, and the only way he’d let her out of his arms in this insane and unpredictable test was when someone snapped them off. He was tempted to throw in the towel and call for Peter, no hidden class was worth hurting his sister. But that would be the last resort after he’d tried everything else he could.
He scanned the ground for something he could use, but that came up empty. He wanted to check the rucksack Peter had given him, but doing so while running and carrying his sister might prove too much. There was one last piece of equipment he’d not counted, his knife. With the new sword it had become obsolete, but there could always be another use for it. Running out of options and fast nearing his limit, Divus sheathed his sword and pulled out the smaller blade.
He only had one chance at this; if it failed he’d immediately give in and call for Peter. A quick glance backwards showed the rabbit was only a few dozen feet away. Nevil’s father had been an ex dart champion, and had taught him how to throw for years before his death. But he’d not played for ages and the knife’s shape was nowhere near a dart’s. Still, it was worth a shot. Taking a deep breath he adjusted his grip and turned.
The bunny was rapidly closing the distance while Divus carefully lined up the shot. He brought his hand back and then smoothly arced the knife forwards. It fell through the air and planted itself neatly into the bunny’s forehead, just inches from its intended target. The beast bellowed furiously, rearing up unto its hind legs to scratch away the tiny blade as it momentarily stopped it’s charge. But that moment was all that was needed.
He’d been trying to blind it, but a brief opening sufficed for Divus and he leapt forward to take advantage. His sword appeared in his right hand while his left stayed wrapped around his sister, creating an awkward figure that sprinted quickly towards his distracted foe. Dashing between two fluffy legs he savagely hacked at the back of the uninjured one then twisted round to continue his flight. The bunny roared once more and tried to sit backwards to squash him. But he’d already sped away, out of reach of the oversized paws.
As they reached what he felt was a safe distance he saw the massive rabbit hobbling furiously at them. It would take it much longer now to catch up, but Divus was eager to lose it. Hoisting his complaining sister back onto his shoulder he continued his cross country trek.
Days had gone past, or so it felt. With a never setting sun hovering in the same constant spot it could just as easily have been weeks or hours. Whatever the case they’d been on the run for what may as well of been an eternity. Every time they rested for Divus to sleep or eat the monster bunny soon found them, forcing them to run once more. Only two facts had presented themselves over the course of their cat and mouse game in the unending grasslands.
The first was that the thing Divus was lugging around with him was not his sister. It had the same voice and face, but that was where the similarities ended. It wasn’t even at the level of NPCs. It just spouted the same lines of fear and confusion, even after he’d sat it down and tried explaining calmly.
The second was that the bunny was not after him. Every chance it got and their furry pursuer would lunge at the imitation of his sister. At first Divus had thought it meant protecting the mimic was the objective of the test, but discounted it after he remembered the only ways to fail were giving up or dying. Even knowing that there was no way he could just abandon what was a splitting image of Clair. The death of a fake would still eat away at his conscience.
Using those facts, and the name of the quest itself, he’d eventually realised what he had to do. He had to kill the bunny. But the only way that he could think of killing such a big beast was the last technique Peter had taught him, the new skill ‘Counter attack’. The problem with that is he had to wait to use it when he knew exactly where his foe would strike. And that would be the fake imitation Clair.
He brought up the skill window to check the stats.
Skill: Counter attack (Special)
A well timed attack that deals not only critical damage but also a percentage based on the enemies momentum. This percentage increases with skill mastery.
· Begginer Level 1 (0%)
· Requires user to perform a successful counter to activate.
With the force behind one of the rabbit’s colossal lunges the counter damage might kill it outright, but he’d be taking a massive gamble. That was the real meaning of the test. To succeed you’d need to risk what you feared losing the most, or an illusion of it at least. But even that would be hard to detach yourself from. Which was the reason Divus had drawn the chase out for so long.
However he could not keep it up any longer. The constant running, only having minutes at a time to sleep or rest and caring for an imposter had all left him on the edge. He needed to end this, and now he knew Clair’s life wasn’t on the line he was determined to see it through.
So it was that when they next lost the hunting rabbit Divus quickly made his preparations. The bag from Peter had only contained food provisions, so all he had to work with was his sword, the fake and his own two hands. There was no elaborate trap he was capable of producing, his only chance was one perfectly timed counter. After positioning the fake he sat down and closed his eyes. Image training. He’d read enough manga over his years shut in his room to know it’s supposed efficiency, though he’d never been taught to use it, or even attempted it before. However he’d been facing off against the rabbit for days on end. He could predict its every reaction and so focused on how best to counter its lunge.
Step forward and attempt to bury his sword into its heart. An image of himself piercing the rabbits chest played out in his mind, but he’d missed the mark and the rabbit crushed the fake and himself. No, too wide a margin of error. Stab its eye from above. An image of himself leaping towards it and plunging into its head appeared. But again a slight deviation from his target caused him to be slammed into the ground. No, no, NO! The target’s still too small. I need something more certain. Then it hit him, a pattern in the monster’s behaviour that only someone who’d been fighting it constantly might pick up on. One that would require Divus to literally leap into the jaws of death. And in the aftermath he’d need to move even faster.
Making his decision he climbed to his feet and walked over to the fake. Now all he had to do was wait for the rabbit to inevitably appear and strike it down. Silence crept over the bright grassy plains as Divus strained every sense he possessed to locate traces of his foe. The tense atmosphere was shattered as the mimic Clair started making the exact same complaints he’d heard a hundred times in the exact same words and tone.
He was about to try and quieten it when the ground began to shake at the thunderous approach of monstrous fluffy feet. Unsheathing his sword and stepping into a ready position in one smooth movement Divus turned to face their unrelenting pursuer as it crested a small hill. Triumph gleamed in its eyes as it saw its prey sat stationary for it. Unbeknownst to the beast, however, the hunter had just become the hunted.
The rabbit quickened its pace as it saw they had no intention of moving and prepared for a final lunge to end this protracted chase. As it closed the last few feet and leapt into its attack it released a final pent up snarl of aggression. Just what Divus had been waiting for.
Time seemed to slow for him as he thrust forwards with his blade. The gargantuan rabbit hung above him in mid-air, its lips twisted back in a menacing growl. The fake Clair had once again gratingly screeched in terror, the high pitched cry dropping to a comically low tone. And his sword swept slowly through the air. Slowly, slowly, slowly reaching towards the gaping maw of his prey.
It won’t work, we’ll be crushed before we can escape. I jumped in too late, I’ll miss the opening. It’s too big, the damage won’t be enough. Dozens of panicked thoughts managed to swirl through his mind in the tiny moments it took for his sword to inch inside the rabbits mouth. Shut up! Shutupshutupshutup! I. WILL. KILL. THIS. BUNNY RABBIT!
An incomprehensible scream broke Divus’ lips as he drove his blade forwards and up into the roof of the beast’s mouth. The rabbits own unstoppable momentum drove the sword straight into its brain, killing it instantly. But now was time for the hard part. He had to abandon his sword and pull his fake sister away from the direction the massive corpse was collapsing.
Just as he was about to let go of the hilt the scenery changed. The rabbit disappeared and he found himself stood in a modern-day high-street. Taking a few moments to recover from his disorientation he at last managed to look around. Panic was already rising within his chest at the mere sight of real world outdoor surroundings, but to make matters far worse it seemed to be somewhere he recognised. Where?
There were shops and cafes the likes of which you could find anywhere in any city, but those brands, this layout, he knew it. Where? He span around, the streets were abandoned except for the lone figure of his sister standing behind him. No, his fake sister. This was still the test, right? As he took a step towards her, Clairs features changed. They took on the form of another girl. A girl he’d only seen once, a girl whose face he couldn’t even recognise, a girl who haunted him to this day. He knew where this was.
The roar of a car engine popped into existence, as something span round the corner at the edge of the street. However Divus was already running. He sped towards the girl with the vague face; he needed to push out the way, to warn her. His steps grew heavier, as if he was wading through a bog, and he was slowed to almost a halt as the car cruised towards her. His voice was strangled in his throat as he tried to scream to move. But he knew what would happen.
When the car was mere inches from hitting the faceless girl it veered off to the side. It screeched right past Divus, who could only watch in mute horror as it slammed into the side of a building. The entire right side had been flattened in the collision.
Everything melted away. The streets, the buildings, even the girl with the unrecognisable face. Black void filled his entire vision, the only things that remained was the wreckage and a path leading towards it. Divus began walking. I don’t want to see. He kept walking. I didn’t mean too. He kept walking. His feet no longer responded to the pathetic pleas of his mind.
Soon he was stood directly in front of the crushed shattered shell of what used to be a car.
“Your fault.” Came a voice. Crawling from the wreckage was the twisted and broken body of his father as it bitterly spewed hatred.
“You fault.” Agreed another accusatory voice. Out of the back seats the equally crushed and deformed figure of his mother pulled itself towards him.
“Your fault, your fault, your fault.” They yelled in unison, their bitter complaints twisting into screams as they piled upon each other.
Divus said nothing, just stared at the shattered bodies of his parents. He silent gaze didn’t leave them for a second as he hunched down to their level. He could not refute them, they were right. This was his sin, his cross to bear. Something he could never let go yet was far too afraid to face. After the pained cries continued for a few minutes he rose again and responded.
Of course he knew. That’s why he’d shut himself away from the accusing glares of the rest of the world. But now, stood in front of the wreckage he had wrought, he could make his peace. It was his fault. So he would do everything in his power to do in their stead what he had stolen. As such he would not look away from this.
Wailing as if in agony the horrific apparitions of his parents slowly began to fade away, disappearing like illusions. Which was what they had probably been. Even if it had just been another part of the test, a weight seemed to have been lifted from his shoulders. He had made his peace, and his resolution stood firmer than ever. He would give his sister the chances they couldn’t, he’d finish this damned test.
Then another form exited the car’s wreckage. Suddenly the backdrop was changed again and he found himself back in the warehouse basement he’d started in, only now it seemed to be fully illuminated through some mystic means and there were no stairs.
The other figure had been transported with him and now they stood facing each other. So this was how the test ends then. Divus was staring into the arrogant, stupid face of Nevil Thompson.
Athena looked up as her teacher entered the study. She’d been given free access throughout the cathedral and had spent most of the time not being taught by Michael in the library they had tucked away. Though the main topics of most books were various theological texts and histories, some existed that spoke of world history and geography, as well as a few other things. Few texts about magic were present, but those she found she devoured greedily.
As Michael walked over to the desk she’d claimed Athena stealthily earmarked her page and closed the book to face him. Their lessons had progressed quickly, which Michael had attributed to her intensive reading, and she’d already learned 4 spells related to healing and support magic. Originally she’d thought it was just a matter of watching a demonstration and then being automatically cast the spell like in most games. However New World had an advanced learning system to manipulate mana, players having to learn how to channel their power into the spells they cast. Far from putting Athena off, she was thrilled that many of the skills she learnt from the old Bishop would come in use when learning offensive spells!
“How is your studying going child?” Michael pleasantly asked.
“Very well thank you Michael!” She cheerfully replied, “What are you going to teach me today? Come on, let’s go!”
As Athena leapt to her feet and began tugging on his arm Michael sighed at his apprentices lack of manners. “Today’s lesson is a little different child,” He said, pulling his hand free from her grip, “Follow me, we’ll be going somewhere new.”
Sensing a more serious mood from her teacher she quietly followed as he swept briskly through the maze of corridors. Although still prone to getting lost, Athena was more familiar with the cold stone walkways they passed through now and was soon able to tell they’d entered part of the cathedral she’d not previously visited. This was not all that surprising, considering the scale of the building, but as they passed the almost alien site of an armed guard her nervousness began to grow.
At the end of the corridor they passed through an archway into a large, high ceilinged room. A faint green film seemed to hang in the doorway, but didn’t seem to hinder their entry. Chests, crates and piles of all sorts of equipment filled every nook and cranny, those towards the back being neatly arranged while the items nearer the front seemed haphazardly strewn about the place.
“This is the Cathedrals vault,” Michael proclaimed proudly, “It’s really the last place in the Cathedral you hadn’t seen, I thought I’d show you before you left.”
“Left? What do you mean?”
The old bishop sighed and looked at his young student with a mixture of affection and sadness written upon his face. “There’s nothing left to teach. You were a much more able student than I ever was and I joined the clergy before I advanced far into my studies. It’s a bit depressing, seeing you learn in weeks what I picked up over a few years of adventuring. But I’m glad to pass it on to such an excellent student. I can teach you about holy power if you wish to remain, but you’d have to become part of our church.”
He was silent for a moment, thinking through what had just occurred to him. “In fact I’d be more than happy to take you on as a full apprentice if you wish? While it has little combat potential divine power is far better than white magic!”
Athena immediately turned him down, not even sparing a glance for the game window that popped up with the suggestion. “No, thank you. I’m really set on magic, y’know.” The only thing that even may have slightly swayed her was the fondness of Michael she’d grown over their lessons. But even then, he was just a character, it didn’t really matter right?
Still, it was a little sad the lessons were coming to an end. She smiled brightly at her brief teacher and, in a loud voice entirely inappropriate for the ancient chamber they were in, exclaimed, “Thank you Michael! It was really fun learning from you!”
He shared her smile and placed a gentle hand on her head. “Return anytime you like child, we’ll warmly welcome you.”
Another window opened in front of her eyes.
You have mastered the required number of spells to unlock the class of Novice Mage, would you like to change to this class?
Yes / No
“Yes!” She cried, then jumped at Michael to give a quick hug before rushing back out the door into the maze of corridors.
Left in the dust, Michael could do naught but sigh as his pupil sped out of sight.
Athena ran through the corridor, almost tripping multiple times, ready to leave the cathedral for the first time since almost when she started the game. She burst into the rooms of a handful of acquaintances she’d made during her stay then continued straight to the massive entry way. Her attempts to deftly dodge through the crowds were met with only partial success, with several disgruntled shouts left in her wake, but she didn’t slow down. Although she was still just peeking into the entrance, the path to becoming the mighty sorceress of her dreams was now open!
Her dash out into the streets was ended when she collided bodily with a group of fellow players. As she climbed unsteadily to her feet she got a good look at them. The first was a short young man. Dual knives at his belt, he’d managed to evade Athena hurtling towards them. The second was a young woman, a year or two older than herself. She was still sprawled on the floor.
The last was just climbing to his feet. He was the same age as the others, with spiked blond hair and anger etched on his face he started yelling, “Hey! What the hel-“
“Are you guys going out adventuring?? Let me join you, please please please!” Athena excitedly yelled. At a glance they were slightly better equipped than most the players, and with no offensive capabilities she needed some meatsh- companions.
The blond man was perplexed by the sudden torrent from this strange little girl who’d bowled them over, so it was the shorter one who answered. “Um, who are you?”
“I’m Athena! Mighty Sorceress!”
Two identical blades clashed with mirror strikes as the two fighters unleashed a flurry of exactly the same blows. As they parted Divus quickly began to calculate how to win this battle. But it was futile, they kept moving at the same time with the same moves. If he stepped forward with a slash, his clone made the exact same movements. If he dropped his guard to set up a counter a similar flaw appeared in his foes defence.
Eventually he’d stopped with strategies, reasoning that if he turned off his brain his opponent wouldn’t be able to perform the same movements. While it might end badly, at least it would end the deadlock. But somehow the clone came to the exact same conclusion. Not only that but it’s ‘random’ attacks mirrored Divus’ own perfectly.
They continued slashing and hacking at each other without any progress for several minutes, before simultaneously leaping backwards to think again. Now Divus had to think of something else to try, and racked his mind in frustration.
The answer he arrived to this time was simple. While he’d scanned through his training the recent memory of his illusory parents surfaced in his mind. The resolution was still fresh, much stronger than when he’d entered New World. His goal was to provide for his sister, so he needed to always be the most powerful. It was so easy, he needed to become stronger than himself. If the fake was as fast as he was, he just needed to become faster.
Divus laughed to himself, an action which for the first time the clone did not mimic. Leaping forwards he viciously slashed at the fake, which countered slightly slower than it had before. As the rapid hacking and parrying resumed it was immediately clear that this time there was a difference. His sideways slash was slash was deflected by a desperate swing. Faster. The clone avoided a thrust to its chest by ducking sideways, unable to miss grazing its ribs. Faster! Unleashing a massive overhead attack Divus forced his opponent to its knees as it blocked.
He stepped back and, before it could find its feet, stabbed his sword into the clone’s chest. It was a strange experience, staring into his own eyes as he died. The weapon slipped from its limp grasp and dispersed into smoke before it hit the ground. The same happened to the fake, leaving Divus alone in the empty basement, which was quickly growing darker.
His body suddenly remembered that he’d not slept for what could have been weeks, and he dropped to the ground. As he was left in almost complete darkness a series of messages flooded his vision.
You have learnt a new skill: Sword Mastery
Fighting non-stop illusory battles has helped you create a new stat: Willpower
Quest: Fear Slaying Test has successfully been completed
You have gained a new hidden special class
You are now affiliated with the Slayers
Divus didn’t have the energy to do more than look at the messages, remaining motionless even as the sound of approaching footsteps neared him and he was bathed in warm orange light.
“Ye done well lad.” Peter praised, though he couldn’t muster the energy to face him. “Welcome to the Slayers! I’ll tell ya this now, but when you wake up I shan’t be here, I may ha’ just become your master but I’m a busy man! So I’ll tell you this now, become stronger Divus. Seek out the most fearsome foes that you can. Also, train yourself in your own world, it’ll help. Probably. Good luck lad, you’ve been away long enough. Even if you want to sleep, you better wake up…”
Peter watched as his new official apprentice took on the odd stone form and then went to pick it up. It was heavy, monstrously so, but he was able to quite easily tuck it under his arm and head to the stairs. He had no concept of stat values, but his strength would have been several thousand. The basement began to warp and shift as he left, the mana crystal finally running out of juice and the transformation became undone. Peter had picked up another, smaller crystal in case however Divus had finished just in time.
What was surprising were the contents of his test. The first two parts were fairly normal, though he’d completed the second fairly decisively and the odd images of what must have been his world intrigued Peter, but it was the third part that was most unique.
Generally the third part was the simplest, it pitted them against what they feared most they’d become. It was designed to weed out anyone who was afraid of gaining power, if they were scared they’d become an uncontrollable monster then they weren’t suited to be slayers. Not only did slayers always needed to gain strength, if they feared that happening then there was probably a reason… People usually feared being weak the most; unable to protect themselves or those they cared for. Which meant that candidates would always face either incredibly frail or completely overwhelming versions of themselves.
However Divus feared neither, well not nearly as much as feared his current level. Peter had never even heard of a candidate like that before. It might seem a silly worry, but what Divus feared above all else was stagnation.
Peter chuckled to himself as he placed the statue in the warehouse and headed outside. He’d spent far too much time here and dozens of jobs needed his immediate attention, but he was oddly contented. As he summoned a spectral horse and rode out into the country he could not help but smile. Someone who was driven to never stay in the same place for long, to constantly move forwards, was sure to shake a thing or two up.