Monday, December 11, 2017

Page 1431

((Double Monday -- Page 1 of 2))
Toward the end of the first day of training, however, there had been another important interruption. He hadn’t recognized what it was, at first, as he’d nearly forgotten what this strange, pulsing sensation meant. As soon as he remembered that it was the Shard calling out to him, he scrambled to find it among his scant belongings.

He’d decided to stow it among the spare clothes that he was borrowing from Carver, since the climate-controlled environment of the dome was probably safer than carrying it around everywhere. On the one hand, he didn’t really think that the Undercrust’s heat would melt one of the Shards created by Rasalased, but on the other, he doubted the heat would be good for it, either. And he did recall Qorvass mentioning that there used to be a lot more Shards, suggesting that they were, in fact, not indestructible.

As soon as he had the Shard in hand again, he reached out with his mind. ‘Emiliana?

...Yes, I am here.

He had about a thousand questions for sure, but just hearing her response was a relief in itself. At least now he’d be able to tell Zeff something about how she was doing. Maybe that would be enough to make the man stop looking at him like he wanted to choke him.

Hector, before I say anything further... please, you mustn’t tell my father that I am contacting you.

Well, shit.

It is not that I want him to worry. It is just that... I...

Hector more or less got the picture. ‘You’re worried FOR him.

Yes...

He rubbed his forehead as he sat down on the edge of his bed. ‘Look, uh... I have to tell him that you’re okay, at least. Whatever else is going on with you right now, he deserves to know that much, doesn’t he?

...He deserves much more than that. But he... well, you...’ She paused for a sigh. ‘You are still with him, are you not?

Yeah.

How is he?

...Better than I would be, if I were in his shoes.

...A non-answer.

Hector took a curt breath. ‘He’s... persevering.

So, then... you think that if you were to tell him that I do not wish him to know where I am, he would take that news well?

Abso-fucking-lutely not. But from her tone, the question sounded rhetorical, so Hector decided not to answer it directly. Instead, he chose to take a different approach. ‘However he takes it, it’s not really your problem, is it?

...Excuse me?

I mean... even if he gets super pissed off, his reaction will be MY problem to deal with, not yours. Because he won’t know where to find you unless you tell us.

There came a rather long pause. ‘I suppose you have a point. I had not thought of it that way.

So you don’t mind if I tell him you’re okay?

More silence.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Page 1430

Just being outside of Carver’s biosphere afforded Hector ample opportunity for practice. Zeff had not been kidding when he said that he wouldn’t be making armor for him anymore, so that was what Hector had been doing for himself: creating freezing cold iron armor.

Over and over and over again.

It tended to heat up pretty damn quickly, so he constantly had to annihilate and remake it. At first, he struggled just to make it not crack and shatter immediately. That was a thing, apparently. These sorts of extreme temperature differences caused instantaneous and even explosive structural damage to his iron.

Garovel had been more than happy to explain that lovely little aspect of thermodynamics after Hector nearly tore his own head off.

In time, though, he managed to stabilize his work. Adding his soul to his iron helped, though not by much. Really, his most significant breakthrough was simply deciding to give his armor layers. The outermost layer was the hottest and therefore least likely to crack or break under the Undercrust's heat, while the inner layers were progressively colder, providing degrees of both insulation and structural support.

It worked surprisingly well, even if it was a bit bulky. Whenever he started feeling too warm, he simply annihilated the outermost layer and then added a new innermost layer. This way, he could maintain a relatively cool temperature around himself at all times, rather than having to deal with sudden flashes of flesh-melting heat and bone-chilling cold like he’d been doing in the beginning.

He ended up quite pleased with the result, but his new armor also had a secondary effect which he did not expect.

It made him more approachable.

He still had streaks of steam rising off of his armor--a fact which he found quite interesting--but it was nothing like it was before. To the Hun’Kui, Zeff’s misting armor must have made him look like a walking cloud of freezing death, whereas this armor looked much more solid and humanoid.

Eventually, one of the Hun’Kui decided to come talk to him while he was trying to meditate in front of Himmekel’s massive lavafall.

Unfortunately, the Hun’Kui man was speaking Hunese, and Garovel was off somewhere with Diego.

He thought he heard the word “Senmurai” again, but that was about all he caught. He tried to explain that he didn’t understand, and eventually, it seemed to sink in. The Hun’Kui nodded furiously and left him alone again, but he occasionally still spotted one or two of them watching him from afar.

It was a bit unsettling, but he figured they didn’t mean any harm.

He tried to focus on his meditation. It was more difficult than it had ever been, since he had to constantly maintain his armor, but he enjoyed the added challenge, even if he didn’t see much in the way of success. It was like trying to achieve a new level of concentration. Clearing his mind of all obfuscating thoughts, while at the same time materializing new layers of his armor at regular intervals.

He felt like it was possible. He just had to keep trying.