Skull Temple - Thirteen hours before Kazuki's Tribulations.
Calm and collected, Kazuki stretched upon emerging from the basin. The contact of his feet with the stone created a fleeting wave of light that spread across the marble before vanishing a few meters away. It was the sole illumination in a dark world, revealing a physically fit hoplite. He was healthy, yet his features were strained.
Kazuki took a few steps forward without a single glance backward. He knew he would see a heavy double door. The exit was as close as it was tempting. For him, it was synonymous with death.
After a few meters, he entered a tunnel and passed by a mirror. In fiery letters, fifty-nine percent was displayed. The reflective object displaying his progress was the only witness to the warrior's nudity. Here, clothes did not last long. Beyond the mirror, Kazuki reached a large bowl. Unaware of its original purpose, Kazuki used it to count. Clenching his jaws, he broke one of his teeth before tossing the fragment into the bowl.
Attempt number four hundred and twenty-three.
Once his ritual was complete, the warrior plunged into the darkness. The light produced by his steps began to diminish in intensity. Kazuki prepared himself.
Two meters ahead, the sound of a click warned him. Kazuki shifted to his right, dodging a crossbow bolt. The temple then shot two more. Then four. Then eight. Kazuki used a bolt caught in mid-air to deflect those he couldn't dodge.
The fifth ambush was devious. Eleven bolts shot forth when Kazuki had only heard ten clicks. It was where the warrior had been hit the first time. Now, he could easily avoid all eleven projectiles. He never knew where they came from, but their number remained constant.
After a hundred meters, Kazuki stopped. The tiny waves of light caused by his movements disappeared. He stood before a hole. The hoplite warrior took a leap, covering more than ten metersa ridiculous distance under normal circumstances, but formidable given his attributes limited to a hundred. With Elysium's gravity, it was barely enough to clear the gap.
He landed in a controlled roll and continued on his way.
Kazuki walked fifty more meters before reaching the second hole. During his second leap, he had to deflect a crossbow bolt mid-air.
Seven minutes later, five hundred eighty meters from his starting point, he paused briefly to catch his breath. The toughest part was yet to come.
Gritting his teeth, Kazuki gained some momentum and jumped. He landed eight meters further on an invisible pole in the middle of the void. Balancing on one foot, he deflected about fifteen bolts, each attempting to destabilize him. Not a single projectile touched him, saving him from contact poison.
Without wasting time, the Champion hoplite stood up and leaped forward. The pole disappeared into the void the next moment. The second pole was a waste of time. Kazuki placed one foot on it before continuing his path. A crossbar appeared. Kazuki bit his bolt to grab the bar with both hands. With a thrust of his hips, he flew just in time. Behind him, the bar collapsed into the void.
Kazuki landed on the cold marble and began to run. The ground exploded behind him, hurling large debris that he instinctively avoided. It's now.
The obstacle Kazuki had never crossed before. The endless void.
The ground disappeared abruptly. Kazuki's foot positioned itself on the edge of the hole and, using Micro, he overclocked his muscles to leap. Ten meters, nothing. Eleven meters, nothing. Twelve meters, nothing. Kazuki started to descend. Was there a trick? It was impossible to jump farther with his ordeal-limited attributes.
Suddenly, a click. A crossbow bolt had just been fired. Kazuki contorted with a pirouette. The projectile passed a centimeter from his left foot. Instinctively, Kazuki kicked. The bolt was heavy. So heavy that the recoil allowed Kazuki to gain half a meter.
A second bolt pierced his thigh, sending Kazuki onto sharp spikes. He died a few minutes later, exsanguinated.
At the temple's entrance, the surface of the basin stirred as a body resurfaced. Climbing the steps quickly, Kazuki displayed a fierce smile. His reflection in the mirror showed no scratches. As if it were a game, his death simply forced him to start all over again. The temple challenged him, pushing back the limits of his body and bringing him closer to Micro II. The training was cruel but necessary, for the Supremacy was his only hope of surviving his Tribulations.
Kazuki quickly broke one of his teeth in the bowl before plunging into the darkness.
Attempt number four hundred and twenty-four.
The Tribulations would begin in thirteen hours.
"I don't intend to harm you," Priam said in his gentlest voice. Muyri curled up even more against Log-a-rhythm, and the young man sighed. The night had fallen completely, and despite the low light, Priam could discern tears wetting the scars of the young Empyrean.
"Do you have any advice?" he asked Jasmine. She blinked before looking at her boss.
"She's afraid of you."
"I can see that, but why?"
"Perhaps she thinks you'll enslave her?"
"She'll come to understand that this isn't the case."
Jasmine shrugged, and Priam sighed. "It's night, and my father is sleeping. Accompany her to sleep; I'll leave you my room for tonight," he decided. They would have time to prepare the assassin's room tomorrow.
Jasmine's gaze turned to Myuri. "She wouldn't have lasted three days in Arkana before ending up drugged in a brothel."
"Not really." Jasmine approached the slave and took her into her arms. Myuri's tremors subsided, but her eyes continued to search for Priam. She refused to meet his gaze but still tried to figure out where he was. Jasmine's proximity didn't seem to frighten her. Is she androphobic? What has this damn prince done to you?
Priam stepped away before Myuri misinterpreted his anger. Behind him, the two young women disappeared into Log-a-rhythm.
Now, lets see Rose.
Under the red glow of the Necromoon shining in the sky, Priam walked towards the Menhir of Secrets. He glanced quickly at the bone stairs that had swallowed Kazuki. Good luck, my friend.
Only one silhouette remained near the Menhir. After more than two hours, most pressing questions must have been asked, and most of his acquaintances had retired to sleep. They would review the news tomorrow.
Priam approached and sat on the grass. "I feel like I'm sitting on a cloud," he smiled.
"Alain asked Log-a-rhythm to modify the grass in the clearing. It's like nature is giving us a hug," Rose smiled.
"Best tree in this damn world. Aren't you sleeping with Sphinx?"
Rose shook her head. "She mumbles in her sleep. I don't hate ASMR, but I dont want to ponder her riddles all night."
"Overthinking and not sleeping. I know that feeling," Priam grimaced.
Rose turned to him, locking her eyes with his. "Really? I thought you never slept?"
Priam shook his head, plucking a few strands of grass. "With my constitution and vitality, I can stay awake and sharp longer. Plus, when I die, it gives me the equivalent of an optimal night's sleep."
There was another reason Priam kept to himself. I don't have time to lose if I want to catch up with my rivals. Its not like a machine like Arnold needs to sleep, he thought while starting to weave the strands of grass together.
"Don't you miss dreaming?" A gust of wind picked up, and Rose shivered in the cold. Her clothes were thin, and Priam moved slightly closer. Using his Domain, he warmed the surrounding air to the temperature of a warm summer evening.
"Thank you," Rose smiled.L1tLagoon witnessed the first publication of this chapter on Ñøv€l--B1n.
"You're welcome. I still dream, I think. Between my death and the moment my soul becomes conscious again, there's a short period. In those moments, my mind is truly free. And you?"
"... I dream of Mom and Dad. They are with me and we explore this new world together."
Priam looked at the menhir. "What did the Gardien say?"
"There's a possibility to resurrect my mother with Legendary rewards. The upcoming Necromoon event could help. But that won't be enough to bring back my father."
META (PERC) +3
META (AFFI) +3
META (FOCUS) +3
Lvl Up: [Frozen Meditation] lvl 14,15,16,17
In addition to his heat resistance, Priam's innate Phoenix gift allowed him to control small flames. During the last Concept Archipelago analysis, his Assistant had uncovered that the Phoenix Prince had left something at the heart of the sun. Priam then remembered that he possessed the bloodline of one of the most powerful creatures in the Universe.
A power he had completely neglected.
The Phoenix bloodline surely had a purpose beyond lighting candles, and Priam was determined to discover it. His instinct whispered that it would be one way to complete his build. Whether as supernovas or concentrated points, flames could fulfill various roles. It wasn't for nothing that they were the most represented power in manga.
Unfortunately, the origin of his power eluded Priam. He had spent the last few hours attempting to increase the volume and intensity of the flame he created, to no avail. [Kinetic Control] and his combustion and thermal energy knowledge hadn't helped. Something was blocking him. Yet, Priam knew his current bloodline was potent. What am I doing wrong?
Was he missing a concept, or was it because he was in Elysium? On the horizon, one of the three rising suns was the progenitor of the Phoenix. Perhaps that was why the flames summoned by Priam had a subtle golden hue.
There must be something else.
Maybe he just needed to plunge his hands into the sun at the heart of his world and find the answers left by the Prince.
A smile stretched across Priam's lips. A bold solution that would enhance his resistances? The more he thought about it, the more jumping into the core of a star seemed like a good idea.
"Priam!" His father called. The young man shattered his aether platform and plunged into the nearby river. The coolness of the flowing water woke him as he swam to the shore.
"You're up early," his father remarked, seeing him emerge from the water.
"I didn't sleep," Priam confessed. The best way to be the first up was to be the last to bed.
"I can't say I'm pleased, but you're a grown man."
Priam smiled, transforming the water droplets clinging to his naked body into mist. His coat thickened, concealing his chiseled muscles. The High Human physique was impressive.
"I thought you could help me plan our camp?" Alain continued. "With the arrival of two recruits and hoplites soon, we need to think about it."
Log-a-rhythm's domain was expanding, and new faces were arriving. Alain had a multitude of ideas in mind and sought Priam's input. Relocating the Menhir, planting trees, constructing cabins, setting traps...
"I'm all ears, Dad," Priam responded with a smile. It was time to build a base.
Status: (Average value for a Homo sapiens male before integration: PHY 10 / MEN 10 / META 0)
Perception 642 (+5)
Willpower 706 (+12)
Meta-affinity 374 (+3)
Meta-focus 264 (+3)
Meta-perception 147 (+16)
Potential: 1062 (+20)
[He Who Eludes Death] charge: OFF. Reloaded in 5 hours 12 minutes 29 seconds.
[Tribulation]: Five Tribulations pending.
Future Tribulations delayed until:
Time: 175 days 5 hours 45 minutes 42 seconds.
Next thresholds: 12 attributes > 400 / 6 attribute > 600 / 1 attribute > 800