The wind around Rainer circled him as he flew across the abandoned city. As he got a closer look, he marveled at the strange metal design of the homes. He noticed other buildings twisted and turned in ways that made him wonder how they still stood, or ever stood. What would otherwise be a straight rectangular tower was instead a twisting marvel with strange carvings in its dark metal.
A true achievement still preserved impeccably. If one ignored the circular hole that existed on its side. A mark that marred many of the buildings and the ground, as Rainer noticed during his flight.
Not a moment to waste, he Void-walked into the first and most important looking building he could find.
At the base of the tall twisted tower, a lack of any stairs confused him. He wondered if, like the Fae, the race that built this city viewed stairs as a decoration rather than a necessity. But, seeing no way to reach the floors above him, he still couldn’t understand the purpose of having such a tall tower.
He glanced around the room, remarking a few circular holes. He had hoped to find skeletons, papers or anything else, or rather a lack of it to determine just how long this place was abandoned and if it was even worth searching it. Especially with a horde of Devils still stuck to his tail.
The interior was entirely of the same dark metal as before, lacking almost any sort of decoration, or perhaps having been worn away with time.
He walked up to a singular desk. Behind it was a carved circle with a purposeful looking design. He opened a drawer. Taking out what was inside, he wasn’t sure what to make of it.
It had a color close to silver and was engraved in black. Yet the stack of thin metal felt the same as paper, apart from being cool to the touch and far stronger, and did not seem to have changed with time. Rainer became lost in the log of names after reading the title of the stack of metallic stationary; Teleportation Circle Log.
There was a number beside each name, sometimes more than one separated by what translated as a comma, he viewed as a specific floor.
His excitement temporarily overwrote his need for hurry as he crouched over the carved circle in the floor. He opened [Arcane Sight], but any enchantments that may have existed seemed to have long since faded.
He ran his hand along the complex circle carved into the metal. Taking several minutes to memorize it as best he could, he later planned on solidifying the memory within [Sleep Learning]. While Rainer didn’t expect to learn much from it without any actual enchantment to inspect, he assumed the carved circle itself had to have some meaning beyond decoration. Rather, he hoped that was the case.
Rainer glanced around the otherwise empty room and started Void-walking upwards, intent on exploring this tower, and any other buildings, as quickly as possible. As interested as he was in how any of this was created, his priority was some form of a map.
A priority hastened by the sound of Devils in the distance.
Far from the Abyssal Plane, and within a stone hallway, fire erupted from enchanted walls, and the very ground beneath a cloaked man sought to grasp at his feet. Yet even as the cloak burned away, his skin covered in scales and his back now displaying wings, was unmarred.
Shouts and chants resounded down the hall as spells of fire and bursts of wind flamed the Magic and increased its strength. The white-haired man was unaffected as he marched onward. Not even his hair was affected by the fiery magic. Red eyes glowed in the darkness and did not even react to the spells attacking him.
Such attacks did not even affect Demon Prince Fang, the last known surviving member of the Reaper Class of Demons.
He shifted into a wolven form, but remained at his 6 and a half foot height. He was covered in white fur and resisted attacks of Ice that came from traps closer to the group of Mages. It was as if they didn’t even exist.
A stream of lightning slammed into him he changed. Feathers of gold covered his body as the lightning only fueled his rampage. The Mages at the end of the enchanted hallway had not even a chance to react as his hands turned talons torn through them.
Many years ago [Demonic Reaper]s were the forefront of the war between Demons and much of Humankind. Discovery of a ritual to unlock the Aura of young Demons turned the tide of war Yet after the Demons had pushed back their foes, and left a disbanded empire in their wake, all attention turned toward the Reapers.
Even though the Demons had seemingly won the war with the collapse of the Northern Empire, such affairs were not so simple. The very reason the empire disbanded was the increasing power of Mages, and the Guilds they later formed. Fueled by the flames of war, advancement in group casting sought to both empower and divide Mages. Such Mages who no longer accepted the rule of magicless men, becoming almost sovereign in the creation of Guilds, dividing the power of the former empire.
This left the Reapers as the primary threat, for both Demons and Mages.
Their power was too great. Even a child who had just unlocked their Aura could absorb the Soul of one far surpassing them and have unmatched ability. Mage Guilds and Demon alike sought to remove them.
They were all but successful, with most believing this tribe of [Demonic Reaper]s no longer walked the land.
Demon Prince Fang’s father was an exception.
His aged father had retreated to the Dragon Isles, where demons were certainly not accepted, but neither were they actively hunted. Of course, bounties for both Rogue Mages and Demons existed amidst the Dragon Isles, but collecting them proved a challenge for most.
He took up with a common Human, and so Jael Fang was born. Unlike Kara, a rare exception, his Demon blood overpowered his human half and left him pure. No different than any other Demon born from parents of different races.
In his youth, after being chased from his village after the death of his Father, Fang came across a dying beast. Covered in scales and drenched in the power of the dragons, the Monster was one to truly be reckoned with, were it not for its injuries. Fang took the beast’s soul inadvertently awakening his Demonic Aura and gaining the powerful Soul of a Monster.
His Trial to reach the second tier was no more than a simple excursion with the use of the powerful Monster’s Soul, and he soon hunted Demons and other beings of power relentlessly. He gathered Souls and strength before ending up as a Demon Prince.
He managed no real territory nor subordinates, at least beyond those he held simply to keep up appearances. Many saw him as an uncontrollable brute but believed his lands and allies as his weakness. He was fine to maintain such a perception.
After learning of the Half-Demon and the potential to rule over all as a Demon-King, Fang had another idea in mind. He recalled a far different prophecy. A story far more personal to the once powerful Tribe Fang descended from. One that involved consuming the Half-Demon’s Soul and gaining their power. Having no interest in Heirs nor governing Demons, Fang sought only to kill and consume this Half-Demon.
His life was reaching its end, and he found the way to the third Tier blocked by the seemingly impossible experience gain between level 24 and 25 of the second tier. He hoped to consume the Half-Demon and use her powers to enter the recently formed Tier 2 level 25 dungeon. Allowing him to enter a dungeon that otherwise barred Demons from entry.
Killing all but one of the tier 2 mages fighting him, Fang held an old grey-haired Mage in his grip. His form shifted, and he changed to having hoofed feet and a pointed black tail. He hated the form of the incubus, a Soul he absorbed quite some time ago. But having a mage quite capable of tracking Magics, adverted his aversion to the power it granted. With just a glance, the lower leveled Tier 2 Mage become nothing more than a slave.
He may prefer to use brute force as when needed, but he couldn’t simply wander the world in search of the Half-Demon.
A familiar presence of powerful Magic alerted Fang that it was time to go. While he raided a smaller Mage Guild specialized in tracking, it wouldn’t be long before their patrons from a far stronger Guild arrived after defenses were breached.
Carrying his mind-controlled prize away, Fang shifted back to his original form. White hair and crimson eyes were the only differences between Fang and normal pale-skinned human. He lacked any horns or tails.
But that changed as the power of a Winged Pureblooded Vampire infused him, and he teleported away, himself taking on a grey-skinned tone, with the added fangs to match. The teleporting abilities of the powerful pureblooded Vampire he consumed was one he preferred the most.
He vanished before any reinforcements could understand what had happened at the small Mage Guild of Trackers.
He grinned at the Mage he had stolen. Normally tracking someone without blood, Mana signature, or any real knowledge would be difficult. But with his target being the only supposed Half-Demon in the world, and him having one of the most renowned Mage trackers in his possession, that became a far easier task.
Rainer took one final glance back toward the metal city, as he destroyed a staircase that led to a higher leveled. It was on the opposite side of the Tunnel he had used to enter the city.
With the stairs reaching towards this high up path easily removed, only the flying sort of Devils could reach him easily.
He opened the map he acquired one last time. While he understood the translation of the small measurement in the corner denoting scale, he didn’t really understand the distance. 100 Distances per Finger Distance hardly meant anything, especially when he didn’t even know the size of the finger it was referring to. But seeing how small the mountain he was guessed to be in, and range it was part of, appeared on the map, he knew the place he found himself in was quite large.
Yet the map told him nothing of value beyond various other mountains and ranges in the area. He had hoped it would mark an Abyssal Dungeon but was left lacking. And amongst his searching within the metallic city, it was the only map he found. Escape from the mountain while the horde still sought him, seemed even less of an option now.
Recalling the scene around him after he killed the [Devil King] fleeing from the mountain would be foolish. He’d be rushing into the unknown and possibly, even more, Devils, without the added benefit of funneling them all into a single passageway.
He glanced at the now hundreds of flying worm-like Devils that filled the air above the massive city of metal. Using [Appraisal] without pause, Rainer tried to find a similarly stronger Devil, like the [Shadowborne] who attacked him earlier.
Rainer thought for a moment on the true nature of [Appraisal]. His own existence proved that Fae were not the only ones capable of learning it. While his class granted him the ability to learn the first level of skills far easier, as far as Rainer understood it, no limits were transcended. His attempts at gaining a form of night vision his first day with the system made him believe as such.
He looked again and started using [Appraisal] unrelentingly. He alternated Devils and as quickly as he could between the rapidly occurring messages as he used [Arcane Sight] in unison with the skill. Whether or not Devils were capable of blocking or fooling [Appraisal], he could only assume they had such an ability.
Hundreds of messages flashed by as Rainer focused on anything out of the ordinary. He paused for a moment seeing a message different than the others, only to be surprised with what he saw.
[Appraisal has reached level 3]
Rainer grinned for a moment before he resumed his activity. He partially recalled Elru’s explanation on how to reach the next level of [Appraisal] that involved seeing the equipped title of an individual. The Fairy had struggled to explain it, but boiled it down toward seeing a surface of an individual’s power and trying to understand it.
[Devil, Male, Void Worm lvl 15]
He noted [Appraisal] now included an extra piece of information.
But there were too many fliers for Rainer to keep searching aimlessly. Smirking, he stuck a hand outwards, and after several seconds of concentration, two packets of Mana left his hand, each flying to the left and right of the flying horde.
Magic filled the air as a horizontal [Pillar of Arcane-Fire] primed itself. A vast majority of the horde completely ignored the powerful feeling, but several flinched back and prepared to flee.
Rainer vanished for a brief moment as he returned with a Devil in hand. So, close and under the view of [Arcane Sight], the illusion faded revealing a grey-skinned winged Devil. His eyes showed intelligence lacking in his brethren.
[Devil, Male, Mindflayer lvl 21]
[Title: Wielder of Mind and Illusion]
Rainer hid his surprise as he Void-walked numerous times away from the horde, target in tow. With his hand around the Devil’s neck, Rainer’s anger surged at the whole situation he was in. For no reason, other than the ignorance of the [Devil King], who’s name Rainer didn’t even bother with, he was brought here in the middle of the night. And now these Devils lead a chase against him.
[Arcane Awakening: Might] surged as Rainer’s body grew. He slammed the Devil onto the ground and fist slammed down and bones shattered as he questioned him.
Moments passed as Rainer brought himself to ask the Devil a question again.
The Devil spit out blood at the madman assaulting him. He hadn’t even asked any questions, what was he to answer?
Rainer’s eyes met with the black ones of the Devil, and his world shifted. Pain racked his brain as he felt his entire being come under assault. Memories floated by, attacked by the Devil, and he flared [Arcane Invigoration] with [Arcane Awakening], fighting the assault.
Rainer latched on to his Familiar bond, keeping him focused and then turned his attention toward his assailant.
He grabbed on to the connection with the Devil, and with his knowledge tried and cast any of the Mind spells given to him by Maya. His Mana started draining as he cycled through them, only his Willpower preventing the Devil in front of him from progressing into his mind, and his stronger body from being torn in two as the Devil tried to grip him.
Only the Mind spells let Rainer simultaneously try and cast them and keep his full focus on defending his consciousness from the Devil.
He felt periods of darkness overtake him as he nearly lost control. His mind shifted to his Familiar Bond in these moments. Images of a Silver-haired Fae and her Flame refused to let him back down.
[Arcane Invigoration] flowed throughout his body, and entered his mind as he fought back. What was once but a simple spell become something far more as Rainer yelled out in the [Devil’s Soul Language] and the Arcane merged with the spell. It lashed on to the Devil within his mind, and counter against the assault.
[Spell Gained: Arcane Mind Counter lvl 1/10]
[Title Gained: Wielder of Mind and Illusion]
[Experience Gained: 0.1%, XX]
His first casting of Mind Magic let Rainer reorganize his own Mind’s defenses. A blank white now surrounded the representation of the Devil in his mind.
Within his mind, a singular [Arcane Bolt] rose. Its power spread across the mental landscape like a Violet Sun. But the torment of the shadow representing the Devil did not end there. Rays of Arcane-Light extended from the bolt in all directions. Arcane-Fire Combusted in a fury. Arcane-Winds sought to tear apart the intruder. Arcane-Lightning drained him. Arcane-Earth reinforced the entirety of Rainer’s mind. Arcane-Water infused him. Arcane-Ice brought his foe to a halt, and Arcane-Spatial left him immobile.
Arcane-Death ended him.
The Devil screamed in pain as his attempt at invading the fledging Lord of the Void’s mind backfired. Rainer snapped back to reality, and after a quick check with [Void-Detection], he then entered back into the mind of his assaulter, the spell allowing him to follow the connection the Devil had opened between their minds.
Unbeknownst to Rainer, his massive Willpower under [Arcane Awakening] already would have stopped the Devil. In fact, his struggles made it easier on the grey-skinned creature to delve deeper. Rainer’s Soul as well, was still strong enough, and infused with [Arcane Invigoration] and would never allow any real mental perusal.
But now that mattered not.
Using [Arcane Mind Counter] the Devil didn’t stand a chance, activated with a word of the [Devil’s Soul Language]. His Soul all but collapsed, leaving his mind open for the taking. Untrained and unpracticed, Rainer sought out memories of use. The size of the horde chasing him, the nearest Abyssal Dungeon, the leader of the Horde, the best escape route. There were only flashes of images as the memories became his, though they were left scattered within Rainer’s mind, still needing to be organized.
Rainer stood up, leaving the drooling mess that would no longer be the same. Lacking in any finesse, nor reason to have such goals, nothing was left from Rainer’s unforgiving mental and Soul assault beyond a flicker of life.
Maya’s introduction to Mind Magic was on his mind. The word Counter within his newly created spell told him it was with a limited purpose, and that as of now, he couldn’t open a connection to another’s mind on his own. Such a thing, Rainer ventured, required far more practice as he recalled his discussion with Maya during their flight to a Fairy Ring and the Fae Realm.
"R-Rainer?” Maya, the Fae recently come under Rainer’s employ called out. They were traveling back to the Fae Realm with Rainer’s new apprentice in tow. She was currently asleep in the bubble of [Arcane-Wind’s Ascent].
Rainer glanced back at the Red-Haired Fae.
She stared at him for a moment going through several of her thoughts. This whole situation made no sense. He picked up a random human girl with only a talent for magic, and not Mana, and now treats her as if she was already a life-long apprentice. And then his flight spell, that outpaced most spells she’s ever heard of, barely even affected its caster.
“There are some things better explained in person about Mind Magic, though I did my best in the notes. And some things require a teacher,” She began after noticing none of his companions even reacted to his behavior, figuring she had no choice but to accept what happened around her new boss.
Rainer nodded, waiting for her to continue.
“The first spell, one that simply graces the outer thoughts of one’s mind is learned in a peculiar way. You can cast it for years on another and get nowhere. But with a teacher…”
Maya continued explaining the process. It was simple in theory. Your teacher would cast the spell on you, and you, in turn, would latch on to the spell and through that connection cast it on your teacher.
Surface thoughts were simple things and often only displayed the stronger emotion and occasionally a word or two. Rainer viewed the words as what you would blurt out during a Rorschach test.
“Without the pathway opened by the teacher, it can take years before you can delve into the Mind of another. With that aid, you can learn the spell itself, but it still leaves the harder part.”
“Opening the pathway to another’s mind?” Rainer guessed.
Maya nodded. Reluctantly she was about to offer her own services, for an otherwise extremely private method of training, but Rainer stopped her.
“I’ll try and figure something else out. I imagine it’s not something so easily taught to strangers,” Rainer said, seeing the hesitation on the Fae’s Face. His interest lay in Magic in general, and with knowing Maya still had far more spells to offer, he saw no reason to force it as of yet.
The flight continued on to the Fairy Ring.
As Rainer was brought back to the present, he grimaced as he tried to make sense of the scattered memories he had stolen, realizing it would take some time before he could understand them, if ever. He glanced one final time at the seemingly brain-dead Devil before setting him aflame with Arcane-Fire. No reason to leave any evidence behind.
He watched for a moment as the grey-skinned Devil was consumed. There were clearly intelligent ones amongst the horde. Rainer couldn’t understand why they so recklessly pursued him. His original theory on the [Deviling]s being no more than controlled beasts seemed to have more validity, especially after a vast majority of the flying ones didn’t even bother trying to dodge the Magic that he was about to cast.
Rainer extended [Void Detection] toward the sound of the Horde, wondering how much time had passed since his mind was assaulted. Finding them barely any closer, he rushed off down the tunnel, in the opposite direction.
Hours passed as he outpaced the horde through a mix of running and [Arcane-Wind’s Ascent]. He finally made sense of one of the memories he’d stolen, the full size of the horde. The [Mindflayer] himself was a subordinate of Devil King Hanyor. And he was not the only [Devil King], however, that brought his force toward the prize.
Their fight had been witnessed, and a follower of Devil King Agmar had betrayed the information, that a fledging Void Lord had been found. The betrayed sold the information to anyone interested long before Agmar had dragged Rainer into the Abyssal Plane. Rainer’s estimates of the Horde being in the thousands were off. It was in the tens of thousands as more and more sought after him, not only preparing to kill and consume him but to fight each other in the process.
Recalling the map of the very tunnel system he was in, Rainer headed deeper with a destination in mind. Trying to rush out now, surrounded, would only lead to his death.
As he continued his alteration between flight and land, he tried to access the other garbled memories he stole. He focused on the one involving the location of an Abyssal Dungeon, at least if he had stolen it properly, but found little success. The memory itself still existed, but Rainer wondered if perhaps his brute force method left the memories damaged beyond repair.
In the end, Rainer could only save it for later, happy with what he already ended up with from his headache inducing encounter.
Now, was the time to get stronger. To lead all his enemies and funnel them in a single path, for nothing more than a total slaughter.
A full sixteen hours had passed, and Jor made its presence known once more. The serpent escaped Rainer, and flew down the dark tunnel.
Rainer collapsed into a metal chair, that was oddly comfortable despite its material. He had found some small outpost in the form of an oddly shaped but mostly square metal building, behind an opened door. This one lacked the hole like the previous one and still tinged with enchantments as well. He fully planned on shutting doors upon Jor’s return.
He glanced down the other way, knowing that the Horde likely approached from the other entrances to the mountain as well. Rainer was heading straight towards the center, towards a fortress where the numerous citizens within the mountain would all flee to in times of need if they had a chance to.
He let Tiamat out, who now on the ground stretched her legs and walked around the mostly empty metal structure.
Rainer removed his overcoat and magically constructed clothing. He grimaced as he laid them on a desk to dry, a combination of sweat and blood covering their surfaces. A manipulation of Water left him and his clothes mostly clean. An extremely careful application of fire and wind left him mostly comfortable. He was too scared to dry the magically constructed clothes, as a single mistake might break apart the magic holding Luna’s creations.
He reminded himself to be far more thankful to Luna whenever she used her flame on him.
With a breath and a flare of [Arcane Invigoration], any Miasma that had buildup left his body. He glanced over to Tiamat walking around.
She sniffed the air before taking a deep breath. With [Arcane Sight], Rainer watched as the Miasma entered her and added to the magical power of her small form. He watched carefully wondering if it was possible to turn what was a nuisance to him, into an additional source of power before his tired thoughts drifted to another aspect; [Draconic Runic Language].
Ever since he first created [Draconic Essence] from the blood of the [Scaled Wyvern], Rainer gained an idea about the Runic Language of Dragons. And Tiamat’s practices with her beam of power all but confirmed his thoughts.
It was a Runic language of blood, intent, and instinct, rather than one of Magical Logic and study. He could not be sure of this, as for all he knew Tiamat had Runic Formulae flowing through her mind. But with [Arcane Sight] he watched the flow of power through her body whenever she used her beam-like breath, and it assured him he was right.
He sat down on the ground and watched the little dragon. The coldness of the metal did not bother him in the slightest with his resistances.
Seeing Rainer on the ground, Tiamat walked over to him. One look told him what she wanted as he took her in his arms, before sitting back onto the chair. She had no interest in sleeping the coat it seemed when another option was available.
Rainer wiped the water from his forehead before falling asleep as quickly as possible, having already fed Tiamat during his flight.
Soon visions of a White Void filled his mind.
Rainer set to practice right away. Targets in the form of wooden boxes appeared all around him. Having reached level 7 with [Void Call], Rainer no longer sought to simple brute force his way forward. In combination with [Void Manipulation], every aspect of [Void Call] would need to be improved.
A swirling darkness of Void consumed the first box Rainer had targeted before he thought over just how he could improve the skill. Reuse of it had improved the efficiency and the size, but nothing else.
Now Rainer thought over combat applications. While certainly useful in its current form it had numerous flaws. Apart from the debilitating pain, it caused Rainer; it was simply too slow. Rainer only knew three solutions to use any form of magic faster.
One was improving upon the runic formulae, something [Void Call] as a skill did not have. Another was through large amount of practice, something that once more had no effect on the speed Rainer could call forth the Void.
The final was through manipulation. All other manipulation skills Rainer had could conjure the very elemental they manipulated, and Rainer assumed [Void Manipulation] would be no different.
No longer just trying to alter [Void Call], the moment he used the skill he tried to draw from the power of the Void far quicker.
His first attempts only weakened the space around him or improved his connection to the Void, no different than when he first encountered the [Devil King] and shut the door on him, removing his arm for Jor’s Consumption. Or when he closed all the Spatial Cracks opened by the Blood and Soul Devouring Mage.
Rainer went through hundreds of attempts, once more feeling the raw mental pain [Void Call] brought forth before refreshing his body. He realized that while not particularly fast, [Void Call] didn’t give him a large enough window to modify it.
And in trying to speed it up, Rainer first slowed it down. He could barely see as he lengthened the time of use with [Void Call], extending the pain. Time went on unnoticeably as Rainer continued his practice before finally, he could use [Void Manipulation] to bring forth [Void Call]’s power quicker.
Gradually, he returned [Void Call] to its original cast time before fully applying what he accomplished.
[Void Manipulation has reached level 5]
[Void Call has reached level 8]
Success soon brought his awakening.
Rainer awoke to a familiar light but still burning pain in his shoulder. He glanced at his bare shoulder taking in the form of the Rune that appeared as Jor entered. His eyes widen in understanding as he noticed the similarity between this Rune and the one that Fae invented for storing objects and weapons within their Body Enchantments.
He dressed himself and Tiamat took her usual spot within his overcoat.
With no time to waste, Rainer stood and began pushing the doors closed. The noise in the tunnel told him he had little time as his body grew an extra foot in height and [Arcane Awakening] rose to its maximum. The gate’s shut with a bang, and he marveled as the clicking of metal, and the light of enchantment automatically locking it.
He stared for a bit longer as banging noises soon resounded on the other side. A sigh escaped him as he headed deeper into the tunnel. As much as he wished to marvel the strength and construction of the door, he most certainly didn’t want to wait around and see its possible destruction. Even less what could cause such a thing.
Jor had granted him a full eight hours of sleep once more, and yet he felt the tiredness of the Serpent. The 16-hour wait of before was now a 20-hour one.
Time was against Rainer, but he was not at all bothered as he charged onward.
Let them come. This mountain will be their tomb…