Stormborn Sorceress 1-3




An Unexpected 


Cass rolled over on her cot, again. It was hard and narrow and as difficult to sleep on as it had been the last three nights. Even the deep-seated exhaustion of multiple days of long hikes around the extended campgrounds wasn’t enough for her to pass out into the oblivion of sleep.

Around her, the quiet snores of Kaye and Robin, her siblings, were drowned out by the rush of wind through the valley and around the tent. It shook in the whipping winds, disingenuously threatening to fly off into the night as if it wasn’t staked down in every corner and weighed down by three grown adults and their (frankly) excessive camping gear.

She burrowed deeper in her sleeping bag, trying to convince her toes they weren’t actually cold in the two layers of socks she’d wrapped them in. Trying to convince herself she did not need to get up again to pee.

It had been a futile effort for the last hour at least. An effort she was losing. As much as she didn’t want to trek across the dark, cold, damp campground to the spider-infested outhouses, she could feel there was little chance of sleeping with her bladder as it was.

She grit her teeth and cursed under her breath, there was no avoiding it, and putting it off would only make the walk colder as the night settled more surely over the woods. She shimmied out of her sleeping bag wincing as the cold of the tent seeped through her PJs. She rummaged under the cot for another sweater and her windbreaker. A shiver shook her as she put them on. She glanced back at the cot, briefly considering trying to sleep again anyway, but shook her head. She’d already gotten this far.

Bracing herself, she unzipped the tent flap just enough for her bundled form to slip out and zipped it closed behind her. The cold seized her, laughing at her paltry layers of attempted warmth. The wind whipped around her, rebuffed from her raincoat but ripping gleefully through her fleece PJ bottoms. She shivered but trudged toward the distant outhouse.

She pulled her flashlight out as she walked, pointing the light at the ground before her feet. It was a fairly bright flashlight and she could probably illuminate more of the dark if she really wanted to, but she hadn’t bothered to put on her glasses and without them, light or no light, her sight started getting blurry after a certain point. She was no Velma, stumbling around on her hands and knees looking for her glasses without them, but making out faces or reading signs got progressively more difficult as the distance increased.

But that wasn’t important here. She knew where the bathroom was, she’d made this walk several times already this trip. There were no signs involved. She just needed to make sure her clumsy feet didn’t catch on a log or rock.

The wind gusted around her again, chilling her face and freezing her nose. Her breath formed clouds of billowing vapor around her face. If she had worn her glasses they would be fogged over entirely by now.

She hadn’t been far from his camper. Her screaming must have woken him. Good. He had to have a way to call 911. He would get her an ambulance. Maybe they would even be able to get out here in time to make a difference. They weren’t that far from the nearest town. How far away was the nearest hospital?

She wanted to turn to see for sure, but she couldn’t direct her thrashing body. That same disconnect that protected this rational core of self from the rampaging pain also cut off control of her body.

All she could do was look back toward their tent. The light went on. The tent door burst open. Kaye and Robin shot out into the night in their PJs.

They ran toward her, too dark and too far to see their faces. But they were shouting now too.

Oh, god, they must be so panicked. What were they thinking? They must be even more confused than she was. Even more helpless.

This had to stop soon, didn’t it? How long had it gone on for? The pain was only increasing, bleeding through her numb disconnect from her body. That couldn’t be a good sign

Her siblings stopped short. A wall of shadows pulsed up from the ground, less than a foot in front of them. They took a step back.

Horror was etched into their faces. It was blurry and dark, but she could see it. Their eyes wide, their mouths open in screams of terror, their faces lit from below by a ghastly purple light.

Oh, god. What was she forcing them to watch? How bad did she look? Did it look like she was in as much pain as her body actually was? Did it look worse?

Oh, she hoped the ambulance was on its way.

Something writhed at the edge of her vision. Something dark and tentacle-like. Something, that same something perhaps, grabbed her ankle. Then her other. More grabbed at her.

Her screaming rose to a fevered pitch. How it wasn’t hoarse—how there was still air in her lungs to fuel that scream—she didn’t know.

It held her down, grasping arms and legs and torso. Wrapping around her neck, pulling down.

She wrenched her arms away. Thrashed her head up. Twisted. Pulled. Kicked. Screamed. And screamed. And screamed.

It changed nothing.

She sank into the blackness, the glassy surface giving way like water beneath her.

The last thing she saw before her head was pulled beneath what should have been solid ground was the horror-filled eyes of her siblings and a single blue panel, hovering in the center of her vision.

Insanity Either Way

Something snapped as her body slipped beneath the inky darkness. One moment she had been on her back, terror and pain racing through every fiber of her being, the next she was standing in an empty nothingness, feeling just as empty.

It felt less like her body had moved and more like gravity had reoriented itself around her.

The pain was gone.

She squatted down and clenched her head in her hands, trying to catch her breath. That was harder than it should have been. Not because she was having a hard time breathing, but because there was no breath to catch.

She should be gasping for air, her throat on fire from what must have been minutes of screaming without stop.

But she breathed at a steady pace. Her heart beat steady and regular.

What had happened to her? What was still happening? Where was she?

Her heart beat loud in her ears. It was the only sound. Its beat increased in frequency. Panic leaked back into her body.

Ghosts of tentacles grasped at her skin. Not there but like ice all the same. Pulling and pulling. Down and backward.

Cass curled up tighter, her fingers weaving into the hair along her scalp.

They were gone. Nothing was touching her. The space she found herself in was dead empty.

But she could feel them.

What did they want from her?

She forced herself to take a deep breath. Her lungs struggled with the task. Almost like they weren’t sure how breathing was supposed to work.

She forced another anyway. In. Then out.

Then another.

The tentacles weren’t real. Not now, at least.

She was alone.

Cass stood up, her hands clenched in terrified fists at her sides. She needed to know what was going on, and panicking in a ball on the floor wasn’t going to make that happen.

She was alone in an empty, black space. There was no floor, though she was definitely standing on something. There was nothing but her in sight.

Nothing but her and a strange panel floating in front of her face.

It followed her gaze, remaining in the center of her vision no matter where she looked. She didn’t know what it was or what any of the text meant for her, but it looked uncomfortably like a menu in a VR game.

Had she passed out? Was she unconscious? Did people dream when they were unconscious?

That would make this some sort of fever dream. Eventually, she’d wake up in the hospital. Her family would be waiting around her, tears in their eyes, relief in their hearts. A nice doctor would tell her what had happened.

Everything would probably change. A seizure like that—and that had to be what the pain and the thrashing was—couldn’t possibly be a minor thing. But it would be okay. She would get through it.

Or, she wouldn’t.

Maybe she wouldn’t wake up and this dream would just end.

But at least, she wouldn’t be worrying about anything anymore.

She shoved aside any and all thoughts about what would happen to her family if she didn’t wake up and suppressed the growing terror at the thought of dying.

There was nothing she could do about any of that.

Better to focus on the other option: What if she hadn’t passed out?

What if all this wasn’t some strange hallucination or dream state?

What was it then? Was she trying to tell herself she’d been pulled into an empty void with nothing but a VR game notification for company?

Said notification chose that moment to disappear.

It was replaced a moment later with a glaring red panel.



Cass stared at the window before her. There was a lot of text here and most of it she could only guess at. But that last section looked uncomfortably like a video game character creation screen.

She took another measured breath.

This was all completely impossible.

Her heart pounded in her chest.

Just take it one line at a time. That was all she could do.


Searching for Entry Zone…


The ellipsis at the end was animated like a loading message, one of the three periods disappearing and reappearing in series, before starting again at the beginning, implying the search was ongoing. There was no indication of how long it would take or what the progress was.

As for what “Entry Zone” meant? She could only guess it was where she’d be spat out when she eventually left this void. If nothing else, it implied she wouldn’t end up back at the campsite with her siblings. It seemed unlikely much searching would be needed if whatever had brought her here was going to put her right back.

Her eyes dropped to the next line.


Beginning final Initialization


No ellipses here. No sign something was happening behind the scenes. Was this in front of her the final initialization?

Or had it completed instantaneously? But in that case, why say “beginning”? Why not report it was complete?

And initialization of what exactly?


Confirm Avatar Settings:


She frowned at the next line. Did that imply she could deny the current screen? What did that mean? Did she dare experiment?

Would refusing to confirm whatever this was signify she did not consent to this kidnapping and she’d be dropped back where she’d come from? Would it mean that she was denying her existence and she’d blink into nothing? Would it mean she’d be stuck here forever?

For that matter, what would confirming it mean?

She pushed the worries aside and read the next line.


Name: Cassandra Yuan


That was her name. Interestingly, neither her full legal name (it was missing her middle name) nor the name she was called from day to day (everyone called her Cass, never Cassandra).

Nothing to object to here.

The next line as well was unobjectionable.

“What other races are there?” she muttered to herself. She would have understood the line’s purpose if it had said “European” or “Chinese” or “Mixed-Race” or “American”. It would have made her uncomfortable if it had, but she would have understood what kind of information it was trying to convey.

To just say “Human” implied the race signified here was different than the geographic or ethnic races of Earth.

Before she could speculate further, another window popped up adjacent to the first.


Available Races:





The list continued, however, the window was only big enough to display 3 entries at a time. Based on the scroll bar beside the visible options, the list was quite extensive. She lifted her hand, intending to attempt to drag the scroll bar with a finger, but at the thought, the list scrolled up revealing the next three options.






The heading said “available”. Did that mean she could change her listed race at will? Did she dare experiment?

She looked away from that section. There was too much she didn’t know.

Next line.


Lvl: 1


Simple enough, but man did that have implications. As if the rest of what was happening wasn’t clue enough already. She set that aside for the moment too, in favor of the block of what she could only assume were stats.


Str - 4 Dex - 3 End - 4

Wll - 16 Ala - 9 Res - 12

Frt - 3 Per - 5Vit - 7


She recognized some of the abbreviations from video games she’d played in the past. “Str” was short for strength. “Dex” for dexterity. “End” was probably endurance. “Wll” she was willing to bet was Will. “Res”, resistance? “Per”, perception? “Vit”, vitality.

For “Ala” she could think of only one word that started with those three letters: alarm. And for “Frt”, she could only think of two, neither of which seemed likely: “Fort” or “Fart”.

They weren’t exactly possible video game stat like the others though. She supposed it was possible none of them were video game stats and they all made sense together in some other way, but she had even fewer theories in that case.

Regardless, even if she wasn’t sure what each specific stat was or what it governed, it was pretty clear that this was meant to represent her current abilities. The sharp divide between what she assumed was Will and Strength made that pretty clear.

Cass was not an “active” person. The yearly camping trip with her siblings was the most strenuous physical activity she did, and that amounted to little more than light hiking. Add a day job at a desk and overwhelmingly stationary hobbies, the only way she could be any frailer was if she had some debilitating disease.

On the other hand, she was confident in her willpower, if nothing else. It had carried her through her higher education and then again through that job she’d hated. Too stubborn for her own good was how Robin described her.

All this to say, a strength of 4 and a will of 16 made sense to her. How that compared to other people, she hadn’t a clue. 16 was likely high, but was 4 low? Very low?

Without anyone else to compare to it was impossible to say for sure. And maybe she was entirely wrong. Maybe none of these represented her right now and were completely random.

Either way, that brought her to

Which, if this was a video game, would mean she could distribute those to any of her stats as she pleased. Which, if her previous guesses were correct and these stats represented her very real capabilities, meant altering those capabilities.

Would putting a point in strength really increase her strength? What about increasing her will? Would that make her more stubborn?

And would that change who she was? If she was defined by her actions, and her actions were chosen by her choices, and her choices predicated by her decision-making abilities, did artificially increasing her willfulness change who she was at a fundamental level?

She slammed the breaks on that line of thinking. It was far too soon to start careening down that line of thought. She hadn’t done it yet. There was no evidence these numbers floating in front of her face meant anything, much less were inherently tied to her state of being.

Sure, her gut was certain they were, but gut instincts were just that, instinct. It was the same voice that whispered something was lurking in the dark down the hall. The same voice that promised the next roll of the dice would be a win. It didn’t know anything and it wasn’t nearly as good at pattern recognition as it thought.

She’d circle back to the “free points” and the nature of self later and read the next couple of lines again.



- None


She pursed her lips. She had no clue what that was supposed to mean but found herself a touch insulted. It was like the screen was saying she had no concept of what was happening.

It was right, of course. But still!

She liked knowing things. She liked having a handle on the situation. There was a comfort in building an ever-deepening mental model of her surroundings. And right now that model was being built on old RPGs and too much sword and sorcery fiction of questionable quality.

It wasn’t necessarily wrong, but until it was proven, it was shaky foundation to be standing on.

And that was it. That was all she had to work with to figure out what the hell was happening.

She still didn’t want to start touching any of this. But the bit about searching for an entry was still animated like a loading screen and there was nothing else in this weird void space besides herself and the system windows floating in front of her. Though…

She poked the screen. Or tried to. Her hand went right through it, not affecting it in the slightest. So maybe it wasn’t really here either and was being projected onto her vision through magic or nonsense.

Which would make her entirely alone. Standing in an endless emptiness. Waiting for something to decide where to put her.

She was suddenly cold again. She hugged her shoulders, glancing around.

She didn’t know the void stretched in every direction. She didn’t know she was truly alone.

It looked like it did. It felt like it did. Her gut certainly was convinced that it did.

She dropped down, lying down in the nothing, her hands on her face.

It was too soon to just give up, wasn’t it? Too soon to curl up in a terrified ball and cry into her arms.

But she was terrified. And crying sure felt like it might be a useful outlet for the rising terror.

The memory of her siblings' terrified faces as they’d run toward her bubbled over her vision. They were scared of what had happened to her. At the very least, scared she’d been screaming like a banshee.

What did they see now? Was she passed out on the ground in the middle of the campgrounds? Were they anxiously waiting for emergency services to arrive and do something? Was Robin cradling her head in his lap, while Kaye was pacing with a slowly rising, fear-driven rage?

Or had something really and physically pull her through the world? Had she been abducted by forces outside human comprehension? Had they been forced to watch as dark tentacles grabbed her and pulled her out of existence as they knew it? Were they standing in the campground in muted shock?

What did they do if she had been kidnapped? There was nothing human authorities could do about inter-dimensional kidnappings. No authority would believe their story.

Oh, god, that was so much worse. She had never in her life imagined she could wish brain damage on herself so badly.

At least, if it was just a brain thing, there would be something they could understand. Something someone else knew more about. Experts to address the problem and explain next steps. An end to the tunnel, maybe long and twisting, but at least mapped.

If she really was in this void… If they’d watched her get yanked from their world… There was only insanity.

What options these were. She grit her teeth and rubbed the tears from her face.

In the end, there were only two options: she was insane or her kidnapping would leave her siblings crazy.

If she was insane—if all this was just the hallucinations of a damaged mind—she just had to trust Robin and Kaye were going to do their best to make sure she got the help she needed as quickly as possible.

But if she had been kidnapped—if her siblings had been left dumbstruck behind—it was up to her to survive whatever this was and get back to them, as quickly as possible.

And crying in the void could only do so much toward that goal.

Slowly, she pushed herself back up to a sitting position. She needed to get back, and the first step had to be to get out of this void.

She looked over the window in front of her. No way to know when an Entry Zone was found. No way to know if that was the only requirement to get out. Confirming her Avatar was likely also a requirement. Did that mean applying her free points? Maybe. Did she have the confidence to spend them well? No, not even a little.


Cass started with the simplest something.

“Accept Avatar,” she said to the window floating before her.

She wanted to save the points for later when she had at least the smallest idea of what was going on.

She was banking on her experience with video games. She expected either they would be saved or the system would give her an error message that the screen couldn’t be closed until all points were distributed. Losing the points when the window closed seemed unlikely.

Nothing happened.

Anti-climactic after all the worry she’d put into those two words.

“I accept my avatar?” No change.

“Confirm avatar?” Nothing.

“I, Cassandra Yuan, accept this avatar.” Nahdah.

“I, Cass, accept this avatar.” The screen flicked out of existence before flicking back a moment later. She scanned it, but the only difference was the name field had changed.


Name: Cass


So, whatever was happening, it was listening to her.

“Confirm Avatar.” She tried one more time. Again, nothing happened.

The free points then, she supposed. Biting her lip she looked over the fields again.


[Str - 4 Dex - 3 End - 4

Wll - 16 Ala - 9 Res - 12

Frt - 3 Per - 5Vit - 7]


3 points to distribute over 9 stats.

This hardly seemed advisable, given she didn’t know what challenges she’d run into, or what a third of these did. What if she was dumped out in front of a monster right away? Slimes or zombies or wolves or something.

Then you should run away, she told herself. No amount of supernatural stats was going to change the fact she had never been in a fight.

Doubling her current physical strength was not going to help. Even if she was pitted against the weakest of monsters she’d seen on TV or in video games it was going to end poorly for her.

Escape should be the goal. That meant speed.

Except, there wasn’t a “speed” or a “Spd” stat. There was a “Dex” which was probably dexterity, which was frequently tied to speed, but not always. And if it had more to do with throwing daggers than sprinting as fast as possible away from the vicious jaws of a hungry wolf, she wasn’t interested in it.

Maybe End then? That was almost certainly endurance, which had to be related to how long she could sprint. Assuming she was going to be dropped in immediate (and escapable at her current speed) danger, that was the way to go.

Except, if the danger was faster than her current speed, it didn’t matter how long she could run away.

Which brought the question back to which stat would make her faster? Dexterity was the stat favored by speedster or assassin classes in most games, but in reality, it was leg muscle (ie strength) which powered the sprinter’s flight. Which would be more useful in this context for her goal?

There was another wrinkle in her Endurance plans. It assumed the danger was immediate.

But what if it wasn’t? What if the danger was lurking? What if it was waiting in ambush? Then avoiding it was more important than running away. Which meant stealth to avoid being seen and the awareness to see it.

Stealth had to be governed by Dexterity if it was governed by anything on this list. There was no guarantee that it was, but nothing she could do in that case. Awareness obviously meant Perception.

That brought her to two votes for Dex, one for Str, one for End, and one for Per.

She hated that she had no context. Everything so far assumed she’d end up in a fantasy land and need to fight (or run from) monsters. And, based on the races on the list she’d seen, that seemed like a good guess.

But there were stories of space elves and space dwarves. What would happen if she was in a sci-fi world? Would there be crazy augmentations that made any physical stats obsolete? Would she need strength if it was ray guns and plasma

rifles rather than swords and spears? Would there even be that kind of conflict?

And maybe she’d land in a perfectly civilized place. She had certainly never needed any particular strength or endurance on Earth. How could she be so sure she would need it wherever she ended up? Maybe specializing in what she was already strong at was the better option.

She was spinning her wheels. There was no right answer here. Or if there was, there was no way for her to divine it from the information she had available. She needed to just pick something.

She was level one. If this was like a video game, she’d get more points at level 2, and more again at level 3, and so on. This was likely permanent, but not in a critical way.

She took a deep breath. Endurance and Dexterity. That seemed like the most likely stats to get her out of immediate danger and keep her alive to make another move. She’d start with that. She was about to verbalize her choices when, unprompted, the values changed before her eyes.


Dex 3 -> 5

End 4 -> 5

It had known what she’d decided without her saying it out loud. It could read her mind.

She inhaled sharply and boxed that thought up and shoved it to the corner.

She breathed out and focused back on her body. She didn’t feel any different. Sitting on the ground, she didn’t feel any more dexterous or any more enduring.

Maybe she was overthinking everything. Maybe these were abstract and not tied to her physical body in any way. Maybe the points spread out across two stats were too small of a difference to notice.

Maybe it was because she was sitting still in a place with nothing in it.

She shook her head, not sure if she was glad that she didn’t seem any different or disappointed.

She willed her acceptance of her current stats screen into the void. Nothing happened.

“Accept Avatar,” she said. Maybe some of these needed verbal prompting?

Again, nothing happened.

She clicked her tongue. Really? Still? It wasn’t the free points then? Maybe she could have saved them for later then. No way to know. No point in dwelling on it. But it frustrated her.

How did she get out of here?

Did she need to make a change to every field? Every field that was available to change?

She was pretty sure that there was no way to level up in the void. Leveling up usually required some sort of experience in video games. And while being stuck in an unnatural void was definitely an experience, it wasn’t the death-fueled experience gained by killing monsters which was the usual video game level-up currency.

And frankly, that was a good thing as far as she was concerned. She did not like the idea of fighting anything that might naturally live in an empty void world. Especially not when it had been eldritch tentacles that had brought her here.

Especially when she was unarmed and there was nowhere to run.

Besides leveling up, there was Race and Concept.

Race she already knew could be changed, though she really would rather not go touching that willy-nilly if she could avoid it. Becoming a graceful elf princess had a certain appeal but not more than the idea of her body changing at that level freaked her out.

Also, the goal was to get home. And there were no elves at home.

So that left Concept. Which was still aptly “None”.

“What is Concept?” she asked. Her Race options had popped up when she’d asked after all.

Nothing happened.

She frowned. How had she phrased the race question?

“What Concepts are there?” Resounding silence. “How do I get a Concept?”

Oh boy, was this not an effective verbal interface. “Help?”

Not a thing changed.

She groaned. Was that it then? She had to change race? Why even pre-populate these fields if you were going to fill them with invalid data?

Elf princess it was then? She looked over the box of options and her eyes bugged out. Her list of options had dropped precipitously. From the uncountably many options she’d had a moment ago, she was down to 4:

Where had all her choices gone? The System did not deign to answer. She had a suspicion though. She glared at the Human entry on the window and to her surprise and relief, additional information displayed itself beneath the scroll window of options.


Human - a prolific but short-lived race with a great degree of variation brought on by unbound desire and varying nature.

+3 free points per level

+2 Frt, +1 Vit Base


She wasted no time, focusing on the rest one after another.


Slyphid - born of Aether and Storms, a race not yet set in their path, still beholden to the potential of Mana and not the certainties of Flesh.

+1 Dex, +1 Ala, +1 End, +4 free points per level

+2 Dex, +1 End Base


Eldryn - a race acclimated to the order and finality of the void, beyond the keen of Flesh, forever bound to ########.

+1 Frt, +5 Wll, +2 Str, +12 free points per level

+12 Wll, -5 Res, -4 End, -4 Vit Base


Demizar - born of Flame and Shadow, a race not yet set in their path but dreaming of force unending.

+2 Str, +1 Wll, +1 Frt, +3 free points per level

+1 Str, +1 Wll, +1 Frt Base


She nodded. Her suspicion, though far from confirmed, was supported by what she saw here. All the races listed had at least 3 free points to spend. She was doubtful in the entire list there were only four with 3 or more, but the fact that one of her options also had significant negatives attached to the base stats, and none of those changes would put any of those values below 1 suggested a number of those 3-free-point or greater races had other downsides which would have put a stat in an out of bound value.

Add that Human had only free points, no specific points per level up, and a description suggesting they were unusually versatile, she was willing to bet that 3 free points per level was actually quite high and usually accompanied by several pre-set points as well.

At the end of the day though, it didn’t matter. These were her choices.

She looked over them again, surprised by how much worse Human looked compared to the other three. Was there no concept of balance or fairness and humans had a short straw? Or were there advantages to being human that weren’t obvious from a numbers perspective? Likely, it was a little bit of both.

But again, it didn’t matter. It looked like she needed to change her race if she wanted to get out of here, so there was no point in worrying about the hidden benefits Human might grant.

That left the other three: Slyphid, Eldryn, and Demizar.

Three options she’d never heard of in any media she’d ever consumed.

She started with Eldryn. The description called them “acclimated to the … void” which was where she was now. Probably. Unless some other big, empty, dark place more void-ish than this void existed and this was some other temporary holding space.

Cass stared out at the emptiness around her. There wasn’t a single sound. No light. No nothing.

This was probably the void.

Becoming an Eldryn might give her a clue on how to get out. The stats attached to it were also exceptional. 20 stat points per level? Most of them free to do with as she pleased?

Sure there were a lot of negatives in the Base stats, but she already had plenty of Wll, it was her highest stat by far and she could probably stand to lower it initially.

She was less jazzed at the lower End. Run-away-with-high-endurance was still her primary strategy. Then again, she would get another 9 free points to distribute as she wanted, which meant she could put it right back.

The “forever bound to #######” bit at the end of the flavor text made her hesitate. Bound to what, exactly? Their sterling morals? A particular place? A crazed god? Were gods real where she was going? More to the point, were they active participants in the world? Either way, it seemed like being bound to something would be an obstacle to going home.

She moved on. Slyphid and Demizar had equal stats, +7 per level, +3 base. Their descriptions were similar too, one associated with storms and the other with fire, both saying something about their path being unset, whatever that meant.

She wished she knew what that meant. Wished it didn’t sound kind of ominous.

The biggest difference was one favored Dex and the other Str. Maybe that shouldn’t be the deciding factor, but she had no idea what else would be.

This was probably a critical choice. It was unlikely she’d get another chance to change her mind. She had no idea how she’d change back before going home. Maybe she’d get a chance to confirm her Avatar on the return trip too.

She hoped so as she selected Slyphid and her body exploded around her.

The pain was unimaginable, but instantaneous. It ended as soon as it had begun. One moment, fractures of pain ran over every inch of her skin, lacing through every muscle, diving through her bone. The next, she had no skin, no muscle, no bone. She was nothing but a ball of energy exploding out into the void.

She could feel herself dispersing, being spread evenly across infinity until there was nothing left. Was this how she died? Not even knowing what had happened to her.

No, there was a core in the center where her consciousness was tethered. The rest of her rippled out, flying off in every direction. Even if she did nothing, she would survive this.

But would she still be herself?

Who would she be when she reformed if parts of her were gone?

She was certain now she would reform. It was a gut feeling. Unfounded. Instinctual.

But then, so was breathing.

She had to stop the explosion. Had to draw every bit of herself back to that core. But how did one will an explosion into stopping?

She had no hands, but she grabbed after the expelled energy anyway. She had no arms, but she reached after it. No mouth, but she swallowed it back into herself.

The pain was back. Crushing now. Self-inflicted. It wouldn’t hurt if she just let go. She was certain. Her instinct screamed the pain would be over if she let the energy spread as it had. But she couldn’t let it go. Refused to let it go.

The energy compressed in and in and in. On itself and itself.

It crushed her.

Like she couldn’t breathe.

Like the world pressed in on her from every direction.

Like a star collapsing in on itself.

But something was forming. It was braided from the energy she’d pulled in. Built from the energy siphoned off her core.

A torso. A head. Arms. Legs.

It hurt, and finally, she had a mouth to scream. The air of the void expelled from newly formed lungs in a cry of desperation and pain.

And then there was nothing.

She lay in the void, panting, a dull pain ringing through every inch of her body.

Her new body.

A weight pressed against her chest. An almost bloated feeling filled the pit of her stomach.

But it was over.

She stared down at her hands. To her eyes, they looked the same as before. Gingerly, she stood. There was no point of reference in the void, but she didn’t seem any taller or shorter. Her stomach looked no slimmer.

She grimaced, noticing her clothes were scattered around her. But walking was no more painful or difficult than it had been before. In a few minutes, she’d dressed herself again. All fit as she had expected it to.

Except the already fading pain and her clothes scattered a moment ago she could have almost believed she’d imagined herself exploding. Almost.

Could she leave yet?

As if summoned at the thought, a window popped up before her eyes.

Trait Gained: Bloated Soul

[You managed to hold onto all the mana making up your original body and incorporated it into your Slyphid core. Triple mana core storage.]


The window disappeared before she had a chance to process what any of that meant, replaced with a familiar screen.


Searching for Entry Zone…

[Confirm Avatar Settings:

Name: Cass

Race: Slyphid

Lvl: 1

Str - 4 Dex - 7 End - 6

Wll - 16 Ala - 9 Res - 12

Frt - 1 Per - 5 Vit - 6

Free Points: 1


- None]


“I confirm these settings,” she said, verbally and mentally insisting to the system that she was happy with them. Again nothing. Did she need to finish applying the free points now that she had more of them?

Then she should probably—

The window blinked out, replaced with another.


Nearest Entry Zone now valid.

[Entry Zone Selected.

Avatar Settings Confirmed.

Beginning Avatar Transfer. ]



A wall appeared in the void ahead of her, sliding toward her at an even speed. She tried to turn away from it, but even as she turned, it remained before her. Was she truly moving at all?

It slid into her. Sliding past her. Like an opaque soap bubble, it enveloped her.

The last thing she saw before it slid past her and popped was another system message, this one simply saying:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment (0)