I sat there, staring at the message. My minimap disappeared, along with my status. None of my strength waned or depleted, but I could feel the difference in potential. The data uploads that Schema made were my way of beating Yawm. Without any more progress, I had no idea for how in the hell I was going to beat Yawm.
The runes weren’t supposed to do this. I spent so much time and effort learning them. They were my way of fighting Yawm, a secret weapon for me. All of as sudden the tables turned. The runes stripped me of one of my only advantages against an enemy far stronger than I was. I wish I could say I handled it well.
I didn’t. I stood up, slamming my grimoire into the stone floor beneath me. The book cracked the rock, being harder than stone. In frustration I shouted,
“What the fuck am I supposed to do now?”
Hod slept like a corpse beside me, not even stirring as my outburst continued,
“Alright Schema, you tell me I can’t leave and I have to kill a warrior king. I go at it, and now you cut me off from the system without even telling me the runes were off limits? Why didn’t the overseer or sentinel’s tell me? I didn’t hide that shit. Why wasn’t there some kind of warning?”
I balled up my fists and looked down, “I’m just a fucking kid. I’m not some god. I can’t do the impossible. I can’t kill this thing on my own. I need some help. You’re an omnipotent AI. Why not give me a helping hand?”
I fell backwards, flopping onto my back, “For fucks sake. I have given this brutal, gut wrenching system all that I’m worth, and this is what I get in return? An enormous middle finger. Great. Just fucking great.”
I raised two middle fingers towards the sky, “Go fuck yourself Schema. Go choke on an Old One’s galaxy sized dick.”
After that, I lowered my hands and just stared at the red sky. I was being immature, I know. It was frustrating though. Being exiled wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I wasn’t warned about it. Nowhere in the obelisk databases or in the skill tutorials is a dimensional cipher mentioned. How was I supposed to know it resulted in immediate exile if no one ever told me?
It sucked because I always thought Schema was fair. Sure, Schema was demanding and ruthless, but if you did what it said, it would give you what you needed to succeed. This event proved me wrong. I grabbed the edges of helmet. I still had my armor at least. Maybe if I got a few more evolutions, taking Yawm down wouldn’t be impossible.
With a new plan for it my head already, I picked up my grimoire and set to work. If the runes got me in this mess, I might as well utilize them to their fullest. Right as I start carving, the space around me stretched. I froze in place. I couldn’t move. Even my eyes couldn’t move before the oppressive grip ceased.
I gasped a deep breath as I turned around. Hod was stuck in the middle of breathing, unable to move. Beside me, a dragonfly was stuck in the air, in the middle of flapping its wings. I reached out and touched it. Moving the dragonfly was impossible, like pressing my finger against a block of iron. A strong, clear voice spoke beside me,
“So you’re this Harbinger?”
I jumped backwards, rolling onto my feet and into a combat stance. In front of me was a nine foot tall humanoid dragon. His scales and eyes radiated a vibrant green. A violet colored electricity rippled over his scaled skin. He wore a fitted, black leather made from some giant, black reptile.
Each scale on his armor was the size of my fist. Straps and belts held an assortment of gear on him, from daggers made of teeth to swords made of cheekbones. At his side was an assortment of three potions. One was a potion that looked like a galaxy, one like lightning trapped in a bottle, and the last was a deep black. The black miasma in the bottle was like the energy between dimensions.
With a toothy grin, he smiled at me,
“My name is Tera. I’m an agent sent by Schema for you.” He looked at me, from head to toe, “So you’re Schema’s new walking corpse?”
I narrowed my eyes, “Who are you?”
Tera raised a hand, pointing a finger over his head, “My status should tell you all you need to know.”
I looked at his titles. My jaw dropped.
Tera, the World Breaker(lvl 8,000)
My hands fell as I sighed, “So now I’m exiled and being killed for writing one fucking rune? Seriously?”
Tera laughed, “No, the opposite. You’re being admitted back into the system.”
I blinked in surprise, “What, really?”
Tera nodded, “Yes, really. It wouldn’t make much sense if Schema told you to complete an S tier mission then took away your only tool for completing it. Schema is cruel, but he isn’t unfair.”
I gawked at his level as I spoke, “Well damn..how did you get that high a level, and what are you anyway?”
The giant dragon man messed with his status screen as he spoke, “I’m arguably the strongest member of the skeptiles. If you know anything about us, you know this violet aura is my arcane affinity. Abusing it is how I’ve gotten to the level I’m at.”
I nodded, “Yeah, percentage based true damage is broken.”
Tera shook his head and creased his face, “Speaking of broken, how is your health regeneration this high? It’s disgusting for your level...for any level.”
I sighed, “It comes from all kinds of bullshit. Arcane blood, having ridiculous endurance and willpower, and having a bonus from my armor.”
Tera looked me over, “This armor, it’s unique. I’ve never seen anything like it. No wonder Schema giving you clearance for the dimensional cipher. You’re wearing one right now.”
I looked at my hands, “Wait, I’m wearing what?”
Tera raised a horned crest over one of his eyes. They looked like eyebrows, just made of spines.
“You haven’t discovered what your armor is yet?”
I shook my head, “I thought it was just eldritch skin or something. That’s what it was called by Schema’s interface.”
Tera laughed, “Hah, hah, hah! Perhaps that’s its initial form, but that isn’t what it ends up as. You’re wearing the physical manifestation of dimension fabric.”
My eyes dulled over a little bit, “What the fuck does that even mean?”
Tera tapped my chest, “That is a tiny dimension that has fused together with you. It’s a powerful tool, whether you use it as a weapon or as armor.”
I molded my armor, creating ripples across it. I looked up at Tera, “It’s a damn dimension? What the fuck...”
Tera shook his head, “Believe me when I tell you I’ve seen many things. That dimensional fabric you’re wearing is one of the oddest.”
I lowered my hands, “Do you know anyone else like me?”
Tera shook his large jaw, the muscles in his neck rippling, “No. Keep feeding the dimension energy, just as Schema told you. The dimension will grow in size, enhancing its...abilities. I’m sure you’ll find them useful.”
Tera opened his status and clicked a button, and my status screen materialized. The notifications came up once more, along with a new tree and a new a breakthrough in two of my skills.
Tera grinned at me, “Besides, you’ve just learned how to write with the dimensional cipher. As you master the language, you can mold that armor of yours into whatever you want. You should feel honored. It’s a great privilege that Schema’s granted you.”
I shrugged, “Eh, I mean Schema wants me to kill this badass named Yawm. I’m going to need at least this much.”
Tera’s eyes opened wide, an inkling of fear creeping into his voice, “Did you say...Yawm? As in Yawm of flesh?”
A chill ran up my spine, “Uh, yeah.” I pointed at the world tree, “He’s right there.”
Tera turned to the world tree, his face scales dimming from a vibrant emerald to a forest green. The violet energy pulsing from his skin dampened. His chest deflated. He turned to me, “He hasn’t broken out of his world tree yet, has he?”
Tera was doing a pretty damn good job of masking his panic, but my enhanced senses caught wind of it. I bit my lip before answering, “Yeah, he’s still stuck in there.”
Tera sighed with relief before his chest inflated again.
I tilted my head in amazement.
“You’re scared of him, aren’t you?”
Tera stared at me, silent as a winter’s night. When he spoke, his voice was solemn.
“I should be. I’m a Speaker. I don’t fight monsters of Yawm’s caliber. That’s a Breaker’s job.”
I raised an eyebrow, “A Breaker?”
Tera glanced at the world tree, “You’ve seen an overseer and sentinels no doubt?”
I nodded so he continued, “It works like this. A sentinel is an automaton. It has little to no free will. A Speaker is given complete freedom, but his level is capped at 8,000. A Breaker is given less freedom, but his level is capped at 10,000. An Overseer has a kill switch placed on him at all times, but his level is capped at 20,000.”
Tera raised his hands, “That’s the highest level thing I’ve seen Schema allow to exist.”
I shook my head, “There’s a level cap?”
Tera nodded, “Few know it even exists and far fewer have reached it. You’re looking at one of the only skeptiles that have.”
“Any advice on how to kill Yawm?”
Tera grimaced, “Unfortunately no. Even arcane magic doesn’t work on him. He’s been working with the dimensional cipher for far too long now. I don’t understand why Schema believes you’ll be able to fight something like Yawm and win.”
My shoulders drooped, “Thanks for the support. Real motivating.”
Tera grinned, “That’s what I’m hear for.” He opened his status, clicking a few buttons before glimpsing at Hod, “I have about fifteen minutes before I can handle my next assignment. I can answer some questions while I’m here if you’d like. I’m sure Schema and C-137 haven’t given you many answers.”
I shook my head, “Not even one.”
Tera bit his lip, “They prefer a limited knowledge network. It makes keeping information locked away easier. The dimensional cipher is one of the best examples of that.”
I showed him my rune in my grimoire, “Is there anyone who can show me a thing or two about this shit?”
Tera scoffed, “Not in a pragmatic sense. You aren’t going to find many beings that know it exists let alone have chosen to learn it. Schema takes a hardline stance against it. No doubt you’ve seen the effects of that.”
Tera bored holes through Hod with a stare like razors. I walked up to Tera, “Uh, is Hod bothering you?”
Tera shook his head, growling, “No. I’m sorry. He reminds me of things I’d rather forget. Anyways, any other questions?”
I frowned, “Any ideas of how I could gain levels to kill Yawm? Maybe a few trees that are ridiculous?”
Tera shrugged, “From what I saw, you picked up the most important ones and a few extra that synergize with your build well. Your build fits together very well, almost as if you hired a higher level player to plan it out for you.”
I tapped my chest with a fist, “The only plan I need is dumb luck...For real though, thanks for taking the time to talk. A lot of higher level people don’t give me the time of day.”
Tera grinned at me, his sharp teeth white despite the darkness around him, “It’s better to build bridges than to burn them. Remember that.”
Tera’s eyes twitched up and sideways. He gave me a curt salute, “I’m needed elsewhere. Good luck versus Yawm. You’ll need it.”
Before leaving, Tera tossed the tiny black potion on his side at me. I snatched it out of the air as Tera grinned, “That should give you a little head start with your runes no doubt.”
A violet portal opened for him before he stepped through it. Whatever it was that froze everything in place, it ended the moment the portal closed. The dragonfly darted through the air. Hod’s snoring entered my ears again, along with a dozen other sounds. Tera left as fast as he came.
I learned a lot from our conversation, but one thing stuck out in particular. Schema wanted me to do something. I had no idea what, but just knowing that was a huge help. With that in mind, I checked out my notifications.
Breakthrough Achieved! Overwhelming Presence(lvl 17)-->(lvl 42)
Breakthrough Achieved! Words of Strength(lvl 19)-->(lvl 44)
Those breakthroughs explained why I handled Tera so well. The fact that anyone out there was willing to give me a hand out for once was nice too. As much as I loved fairness and all that, I sure as hell needed some help now. In most video games, you get some rewards for quests. So far, the only quests I had were absurd and impossible.
I mean honestly, I didn’t even really now how powerful items were in the system. Was there armor that was stronger than mine? How powerful did enchantments become? I didn’t know because earth was pretty much stuck in the stone age. Well, at least compared with the rest of Schema’s universe.
This jar full of black miasma was my first item that may actually be useful for me. With that in mind, I analyzed it.
Miasma Jar(???) - Holds the miasma of countless eldritch. Opening it will unleash the energy within.
It was probably just a bunch of ambient mana. My armor could eat it at some point. As I opened my spatial ring, a crack formed in the tiny bottle. I looked beside me, seeing if something caused. Nothing had. I reached out with Tactile Cognition and my gravity sensing skill.
There was nothing. Another crack formed in the glass. The bottle shook in my hand, a low squeal escaping the inside of it. Before I could throw the thing away, it sunk into the armor of my hand. Within the armor, the bottle leaked the energy of eldritch.
The cold, icy feeling spread through my limbs. A burning cold covered every inch of my skin, digging down into my bones. I fell on my knees, my hands trembling as the cold ignored my pain tolerance.
When I believed it would get no worse, the crack of shattering glass echoed into my ear. Imagine your blood freezing. Now imagine the shards of ice breaking into your bones and causing your skin to snap. That was what happened. Even with my pain tolerance and elemental resistance being high, the sharpness of the cold crippled me.
Once I gained an understanding of what was happening, I gripped my hands into fists. I gritted my teeth and stood upright. My armor writhed on me, harvesting the energy with reckless abandon. Spikes jutted from my armor, piercing into the ground as I stumbled away from Hod. I pulled in oppression. Controlling it was impossible for now.
I fell onto the ground a hundred feet from Hod. As I sat there wheezing for breath, I remembered why I hated pain so much. It was consuming, like something that ate away at you. The agony steals a part of you until it ends. If the torment proved too excruciating, it becomes blinding. It’s like pain is all there is. You become pain.
I have no idea how long that kind of pain lasted. It could have been seconds or hours. It didn't really matter. When it's that bad, seconds become hours anyway.
As the cold faded, so did the pain’s grip on me. I returned from the excruciation, my mind and body feeling new and sensitive. My senses almost overwhelmed me as I stared around. Thank Jesus it wasn’t bright and sunny. My poor eyes might have fallen out.
That’s when I focused in front of me. There was a message waiting for me.
Evolutionary line, Harbinger of Cataclysm completed. Dimensional Cipher unlocked. New evolutionary line unlocked.
Evolution gained. Living Dimension unlocked. Evolve Y/N?