“I can sense you,” I state in Silvar. “But just barely. Are you trying to let me know you’re here?”
“Yes,” the spirit responds.
“How can I help you?” I ask.
“I was just curious as to your progress so far today.”
I look at my stats. I gained 519 Human Experience and 1,038 Archer Experience, putting me up to Level 22 Human and Level 17 Archer. I’m on my way back up to the surface now. That isn’t really relevant to the spirit, though, as far as I’m aware.
“Who are you?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Because the only spirit I’ve talked to before is Elikar.”
“My name is Meiva, and I am a spirit with an affinity for ice. You’ve spoken with Lord Elikar? I’m amazed by that – he doesn’t talk to many.”
“He’s currently harassing a teammate of mine,” I say. “Apparently, he follows him around often.”
“Oh, you know the fairy prince? Wait – he harasses him? We all thought he was watching over him.”
“He harasses him.”
“No clue,” I answer. “Mind telling me what you wanted? I’m about to make my way back up, and I need to focus, so I don’t get ambushed by monsters.”
One of my flaws, when it comes to fighting, is that I have to focus on the fight. I can’t have other things distracting me. I need to work on that.
“Short and curt,” he comments. “To the point. I’ve been watching you for awhile, Gavin – ever since you entered this Dungeon. A few come in here with Spirit Affinity unlocked, many with enough to support my Gifts once every now and then, but few have ever caught my attention like you have.”
“And so you like me because I’m dangerous and kill everything?”
“No. Because the power within you is violet, like an amethyst. It is unusual, and a powerful sign. I would be willing to contract with you, for a single Gift, to start. Would you be interested?”
“Not right now.”
“Why not?” He asks. “You have the stamina to go on with my Gift, and it’s quite easy to use. A basic one, for-”
“Because I don’t know you,” I say. “In addition to that, if you’d been watching me, then you’d know that I haven’t used magic in a few days. I have fought with my fists and knife,” I flip my knife around a few times, then return it to my sheathe. “Intentionally halting any progress I have with my Resources, save what I am using to grant my brothers access.”
“I did notice that. Mind telling me why?”
I snort at his request, and get the feeling he wasn’t just mimicking me with that.
“I need to recover from the massive influx of Resources I gained,” I answer. “So it’s best if I don’t do anything that increases them. It would be better if I simply didn’t fight, since I apparently always gain Experience from killing, even if it’s only partial points, and that increases my Species Level, but I’m ignoring that. I need to increase my Subclasses. I have a limited amount of time before I have to return to Jozan, after all.”
“Can you tell me what it’s like?”
“Currently, or what it used to be like?” I ask. “Meiva Jozan, the Frost King, founder of Jozan.”
The spirit doesn’t respond for several long seconds, the only sounds filling the cavern the sounds of the creatures in the distance.
“How did you figure it out?”
“Your name is unique,” I say. “And you mentioned that your Gifts were frost-based. From what Warren has told me, a spirit’s Gifts are based on what they had before they became spirits, if they weren’t originally spirits. The founder of Jozan was smote by a Divine Being, and when I mentioned Elikar’s name to him, Warren said – probably because Elikar was explaining it to him – that Elikar became a spirit after being smote by a Divine Being.”
“You took a guess based on that?”
“Was it wrong?” I counter.
“Somehow… you were able to guess it correctly. Meiva was a common name, in my time. Times have changed, though. As far as I’m aware, my name and what happened to me aren’t common in Jozan – they only know me as the Frost King, and that I died in an instant during that battle. How did you come to know it?”
“Chief told me the history of Jozan, and its founding,” I say, then pause and shake my head. “Some of it, not all. He never told me about the seal, though he apparently knows.”
“Ah, yes,” he chuckles. “The seal… one of my finest works. I united the powers of three gods – Kar, Jozan, and Kaz – and created a seal to bind the evil. That’s why I was smote, but it was too late, by that point. Kar, Jozan, and Kaz would not yield to the gods who wished for them to unbind the demon, and the Divine cannot force each other into action. Nies has forced all Divine to swear an oath to that.”
“So Nies can force Divine into things?”
“Nies is different from most Divine Beings in that he is a Divine Origin, instead of a mere god.”
Divine Origin? What does that mean?
“Put simply, Nies is the origin of oaths. When it comes to them, his word is law, and not even the Divine are outside of his power. There is only one being in the entire universe capable of commanding him – the Oracle.”
“I’ve heard mention of that,” I say. “I think. They called him Owen and O, too.”
“O is his common reference, Owen is supposedly his name, and he is the Oracle. He, much like the Rift Wolves, exist outside of this universe. He is a servant of Origin itself, and no one knows his true origins. At least, no one in this universe that I’ve spoken with or encountered. Even the Divine Origins are within his power. There is nothing he cannot See with his Sight, and nothing he cannot do with his power. He is outside the System itself, and wherever he is from, the difficulty is much, much different. Much lighter. He is also standing right behind you…”
I turn around, noticing a boy around ten years old, with pitch-black hair and violet eyes. He’s wearing a cloak of swirling oranges and greens and purples and blues, with silver and gold flecks like stars, the cloak’s coloring literally swirling slowly. Underneath, he wears a black shirt that reminds me of Earth’s, black pants with pockets on the legs, and boots that go up most of his calves. His belt buckle is a silver fish with a blade through it, and he’s scrutinizing me closely. A wand that matches his cloak rests in a sheath on his belt.
“Um… hi?” I say.
He doesn’t sense like a Divine Being. Just trying to sense him with Mana Sense shot it straight to Level 10, my head nearly exploding from pain and the sudden influx of knowledge on how to read Mana.
“Gavin Jakran,” he says, his tone tinged with annoyance after a moment, then cocks his head to the side. “Did you really just try to read my Mana after hearing that I’m a being that can command the Divine Origins? Seriously?”
“That’s what I thought,” he says. “Don’t try to look at me with Magic Sight, as you were thinking of doing – it won’t shoot it up to Level 10, and you won’t get a read as much as you will a headache that knocks you unconscious.”
“What are you?”
“You know that you can’t trip me up, right?” He asks. “I see everything. I know everything. There is nothing I cannot predict. I see all possible futures, every possible route it could take.”
“Lie Detection says that’s a lie.”
“It also went up a Level,” he states. “There are some exceptions, but there are exceptions to every rule. In another universe, there are many True Prophecies out there. Regarding True Prophecies, I cannot see everything involving them, though I can see much. Far more than most with Sight.”
“What are you?”
“I am Owen.”
“Yes,” he nods. “But you will call me O and kill the fish,” what? “On to business.”
“You know I’m just going to-”
“Interrupt me until I put a silencing spell on you,” he nods. “I know.”
I try to interrupt him, but no words come out of my mouth.
“If you weren’t focused on me,” he says. “Your high PER would have caused you to notice that there are no monsters moving around. I have also halted time around us. That spirit was annoying, anyway. At least he enjoyed fish in life.”
Are you going to tell me what your deal is with fish?
“No,” he answers, confirming that he’s reading my mind. “Of course I can read your thoughts – I’m the most powerful Seer to ever exist. I come bearing gifts.”
And why, exactly, is a being that supposedly serves the Origin – whatever that is – bringing a mortal like me gifts?
“Because I want to,” he answers. “And the Origin is the Origin, the founder of all things. It is the origin of itself, as well as of all other things to be. I am a part of a council that serves the Origin, the Grey Dragons. We were born of the Origin, and when all things return to it, so too shall we. We cannot be slain, though this vessel can be destroyed. Not easily, but it can be. Not that anyone has ever actually succeeded in destroying my vessel.
“As for the gifts I bring,” he says. “The first is knowledge that you have years before Christopher will return here. To him, only hours will have passed – the time dilation, with your brother being here, has returned to what amounts to ‘normal’. I so dislike this universe, because of all this time dilation, but Tyler’s all ‘no, just leave it, it’s awesome this way’, and I’m not having much say on that.”
I’m assuming Tyler has something to do with time.
“Yeah, he does,” O says. “As I saying, though – I much prefer the others, because time passes at the same rate regardless of what world you’re on or realm you’re in. Sure, their days might have different lengths, years might be longer or shorter, but time still flows at the same rate between all of them. Here? Apparently not. And Tyler won’t fix that, even though all he has to do is sneeze on it.”
“Or was that cure to kaera?” He looks thoughtful for a moment. “Oh, right. All he has to do is snap his fingers.”
The hell is kaera?
“A deadly, incurable illness where your body is frozen in time, but you aren’t. It’s worse than it sounds, because you aren’t immortal, and you still age.”
You age with your body frozen in time? That makes no sense.
“Stop asking stupid questions,” he rolls his eyes. “So Tyler could fix this universe just by snapping, but he won’t, because he thinks it’s cool that this universe has a time dilation between realms. We didn’t even know it existed for half its life, or he would’ve fixed it before. So now he’s not. So the first gift is the knowledge that your father won’t be here for several years for you, but only hours for him, because of this ridiculous time dilation.
“The second gift,” he says. “Is Appraisal and Lie Detection reaching Level 10.”
The moment he says that, I receive the notifications that they both have been mastered. No Experience, though.
Why did he do that?
“Because I felt like, it okay?” He asks in agitation. “Why do people always question what I do? I can’t do shit just because I want to? Huh? Is that really a problem? Maybe I like being a nice person? All I ask for is that people understand that True Prophecies can’t be diverted, that I can have lots of fun, that the balance in each universe is kept within acceptable deviations, that people kill all the fish, and that I can help people out just because I feel like it!”
He’s just like a little kid who’s getting frustrated. His face is red and he’s pouting and everything. I’m half-expecting him to stomp his foot. He already has his fists clenched tight enough to make his knuckles white.
“I am not a kid!” He huffs. “You’re making me consider rescinding my third gift.”
The one you haven’t given yet?
“Yeah!” He exclaims, then sighs. “I suppose I’ll give it to you,” he lifts his left arm up, and after a moment, a snake materializes on it. No… it was already there, just invisible. “This is an ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail.”
The ouroboros is wrapped around his arm twice, forming two loops with a crossed path in the middle on the back of his forearm. Its dark purple with black markings, its fangs almost silver in color.
“Each universe has its own version of them,” he continues. “As do many realms within those universe, which are variations of that one. Each universe’s version of the ouroboros is based off of this one – the original.
“My third gift to you,” he lifts his right arm, and a second ouroboros appears. It’s only a little bit different from the first one, including being slightly smaller and shorter. “Is Reij. He’s young, and not yet fully grown. He’s barely old enough to be on his own. He will wrap himself around your arm. When he bites his tail, he’s invisible. Only my breed of them have that trait. He will consume all negative magics directed at you. You will not need protection to learn new spells, as he will consume it before it can affect you.
“And before you reject,” he drops his left arm down. “A being that serves the Origin is offering you a gift. Do not refuse it.”
In other words – I’m going to need him at some point in the future, just like I’ll need Appraisal and Lie Detection to be mastered, too, and probably faster than if I trained them normally, even with my insane bonus.
I use it on him.
Unknown Being Filled with Cuteness and Adorability Capable of Wiping Out All of Existence With a Thought or as an Afterthought – Do Not Mess With
“I can control what it shows,” he giggles. “Do you like it?”
It’s a bit much.
“Try it now,” he giggles.
The Origin’s Most Adorable Servant
Full of yourself, aren’t you?
“Quite!” He nods happily. “Hold out your arm, so Reij can wrap himself around it.”
I lift up my left arm, and O touches my hand. Reij moves from his arm to mine, wrapping himself around. His scales are softer than I expect – not hard at all. Yet… I get the sense that if I tried to hurt him, I’d be left confused.
Reij, Ouroboros of Origin
An Ouroboros of Origin, this creature is indestructible by most mortal means
Will consume negative magics directed at or within anyone he is friendly with
Cuter than most things in existence
Uh… what the heck is up with that description?
“I had to come up with something, okay?” O asks. “Jeez! It’s like this with everyone, I swear! You can make sound again.”
“Thank you,” I say. “And for the gifts, too. I know you’re giving them to me because I’ll need them.”
“So?” He asks, then sighs. “As for your request… why do you want to know?”
“You already know why.”
“Say it,” he says. “Or I’ll deny it. People need to stop saying stuff just because they know I know it.”
“To help someone.”
“That’s the cheat way of answering.”
“It’s the truth.”
“Yes to your question,” he says. “The Dungeon is 100 Floors. The 100th Floor has the Final Boss on it. It’s a Dragon. To ascend from Mage to Archmage, you will need to clear a Tier III Dungeon by yourself, much like with the other two Tiers, and you will need to kill a Dragon by yourself. Dungeon Dragons and Scaled Wyverns count.”
“Dragon,” he says. “Dra-gon. I don’t look at everything, just so you know. I look at what’s relevant and what’s not. It’s fun, being able to guess stuff. I’m estimating that, based on a variety of things, that how things turn out, you will be able to kill the dragon within three years. Do not return to Jozan until you have killed it.”
“You can gain a very powerful ally if you kill it first,” he says. “I should be going. Unfreezing time. Goodbye, Gavin.”
He vanishes, and time resumes.
“Oh, he’s gone. Huh? You have a snake on your arm. I can’t get a read on it…”
I look at Reij again.
Reij, Ouroboros of Origin
The description disappeared… Did O put it there while we were talking, just so I’d see it the first time?
That… was one hell of a weird encounter. And I seriously doubt it was a dream.
No way would my dreams keep the System doing that, so this is definitely real.
Why would such a powerful being just decide to give me three gifts – a piece of knowledge and two actual gifts – just to help me out in the future? What is he planning?
I am so confused right now.