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Chapter 2


“…it is important to never forget that as the soul mirrors the body, so too does the body mirror the soul, the two of them always striving to be in harmony with one another. Through labor, training, and effort, the body provides the soul with the essence it needs to grow and thrive, and in turn the soul takes care of the body, soothing its exertions, mending its wounds, and giving it a path to strengthen and grow. It is a balance, a symbiosis, that must be carefully maintained and cultivated, especially the further one progresses on the path of Incarnation. For the closer that one brings their body and soul together, the greater and more rapidly do they reflect one another, be it positively…or negatively.”

Reflections of the Soul, Morgan Mossgrove, the Age of Tyrants, circa 3834

Gurgling as foul, cold water raced into his month, Vincent found himself immediately swept away by the torrent, his body being yanked sharply sideways. Flailing as best as he could with limbs that seemed all wrong to his senses, he quickly regained enough presence of mind to shut his mouth and thrash his way to the surface.

What happened now? He demanded, coughing a spray of foul tasting water out as his head broke the surface, the air he sucked in a second later greeting him with a foul, rotting stench. Where in the realm have I—is that a city?

Splashing his weak limbs as best he could to stay above the surface, Vincent had managed to just barely stabilize himself when a passing sight above caught his attention, that of several towering and brightly lit buildings. More than that, it was a sight that prompted his head to glance fully upwards, revealing to him the rapidly darkening sky above as the distant sun finished setting on the horizon. A sky that was nothing like what Vincent remembered seeing over the Ivory City what felt like just seconds earlier, an impossibly given what he knew it had taken to enter the city in the first place.

Or as he discovered a second later, didn’t in fact know, the memory a colorless blur in his mind despite him knowing that entering the abandoned City of the Gods had been a challenge to the extreme.

Is…is this a dream? Vincent went onto whisper in his mind as he shoved the disturbing realization away and went to raise his Will, feeling it slow and sluggish to answer. Something that was worrying to the extreme. Have I been mesmerized? Imprisoned in a memory? That…that shouldn’t be possi—

An explosion of fire and water interrupted Vincent’s thoughts before he could finish forming them, sending him splashing back into the water deep enough that he felt himself hit a smooth, stone bottom and bounce off of it, sending him into a wild spin. Panicking once more as he tried to regain control of himself, Vincent thrashed as best as his weak limbs would allow, all while attempting to get his Will under control is all too disoriented mind hindering his attempt to grasp it. Worst even, when he finally managed to collect himself and order his mind, he was instantly rewarded with another agonizing stab lancing through him just above his navel. However this time it felt as if there was something forcing its way out from it and into his body.

Ah! What…what is—wait! Is that one of my melds?Vincent gasped in pain as he felt something within himself awaken, its presence coming across in his mind as something not quite as developed or specific as speech, but something close enough as to realize what it was. It’s…my Insight! It was…dormant? Why was it—

Yet even as realization echoed throughout Vincent’s mind, he never had a chance to finish his thought, for right as the understanding arrived to him, so too did the consequences of his soulmeld waking up, his vision going white with renewed agony. This, combined with the lightning bolt of pain rushing through his body, it would have all but certainly been the end of Vincent who had yet to resurface from his second plunge into the water’s depths.

That is if that water that had swallowed him hadn’t suddenly spilled down an incline, practically throwing him into the air in the process.

Gasping and sputtering for air as he broke the surface yet again, Vincent immediately found himself rushing down a truly massive stone slide, the water that had swept him away picking up more and more speed with each second that passed. Nor was he alone he discovered amid his terror and pain, for despite being on a one way journey to only fate knew where, was he treated to a vision of fire and shadow erupting before him.

“Rip it all Hanner, I am going to kill you for that!” He heard Zane man shout in a blisteringly angry tone as knives of living darkness slashed out ahead of Vincent, causing the already cascading water to erupt and splash until it was all he could see. It was so intense, that if the other man had a response to the threat, it never reached Vincent’s ears before he was blinded by an explosion of steam that caused him to instinctively throw an arm across his face.

Feeling it sear his head and arm as the water took him through the resulting cloud, Vincent struggled to focus past the soulmeld that was not only ripping him in two, but had started to affect his very vision. For when he opened his eyes after exiting the cloud his vision was filled with wispy streaks of every color imaginable. It was an affliction that only intensified from there, with his vision at one point then abruptly freezing in place as if time itself had been stopped, all while he felt himself continue to be swept away by fetid river that he’d been thrown into. The disconnect between his senses only worsened from there as his vision eventually unfroze itself, the moment in time that it had fixated on abruptly shifting to a new one as if he’d turned a page in a book. A book that his mind then rapidly began to flip through, uncaring of the fact that it had begun to skip pages. The result left Vincent to witness an incomprehensible journey through water, stone, fire, and darkness before abruptly catching up to the present.

One that arrived just in time for the pain in Vincent’s head to vanish at same moment he saw his feet go over the edge of a lip stone.

 Screaming as he fell into the expanse that opened up beyond it, Vincent clawed uselessly at the air before him, the motion doing nothing to slow his descent before he plunged back into water. Landing hard from the fall, he felt pain shoot through both his legs as he sank down deep yet again, everything around him going completely dark. Yet before he could even begin to worry about drowning in the unknown abyss, the current of the moving water launched him back up and away from where he’d landed, and before he knew it he was on the surface again.

Please…please be the end of that, Vincent thought desperately as he tried to collect himself from the aftereffects of his reawakening Insight as it bonded with his mind. Though no sooner was his wish finished did he find it denied, though mercifully in the best way possible, for as he thrashed to keep himself afloat he saw something appear in his vision once more. Oh, what now? 

Immediately bracing himself for the worst, he soon found that the white lines that appeared in his sight only served to silhouette a floating piece of wooden debris in the darkened gloom that now surrounded him, one that he somehow instantly knew would be capable of bearing his weight.

Oh, it’s finally done! Vincent exclaimed with a mental surge of relief when he realized what the lines in his vision signified. My Insight is awake!

Taking the soul meld’s presence for the gift that it was, Vincent didn’t hesitate for so much as a second before taking advantage of it, awkwardly thrashing his limbs to propel himself towards it before he started to sink once more. Aided by the current still pushing him, Vincent crossed the distance between him and the flotsam quickly enough and was soon throwing his arms around it and breathing a sigh of immense relief as it bore him seemingly effortlessly. A positive development for certain, but one that only continued to stoke his confusion to new heights as he wondered just what exactly was happening to his body in the first place. 

It was a thought almost immediately prompted a reply from the newfound presence lurking within him. However as before, it wasn’t with words or any sort of active communication, for Vincent’s Insight simply wasn’t capable of such doing, and nor was it an independent entity in of itself. Rather instead, as Vincent rapidly remembered, it was an augmentation to his sleeping mind, one that allowed him to both enhance and unlock its full potential, beyond what was otherwise possible without it. It was that realization that kept Vincent from falling into a panic in the seconds that followed when he felt something tender shift within his mind, a feeling akin to a broken bone being gently guided back into place, except that the broken bone in this situation was his mind itself. Regardless, it was exactly what Vincent needed to have in that moment, as a torrent of knowledge, or better described after the fact, a reconnection to memories he hadn’t known he’d lost, rushed into him. 

Oh…oh that feels better, Vincent announced to himself breathlessly, the restoration that his mental soulmeld had just finished suddenly filling him with such relief that he almost forgot where he was. To think that it had taken him this long to realize that it had been missing in the first place was a warning to the extreme that he wasn’t right, that something truly awful had happened to him. 

Something that the other half of his mind immediately confirmed for him without any further prompting in the form of an impossibly cold and wet sensation just below his where his breastbone ended.

What, that would mean—ah, damn it! An essence bleed! Vincent exclaimed in shock as he tightened his grip on the wood before him, his mental focus having immediately turned inward to look at his soul after his Insight’s warning. How could that even be possible?

Deciding that he needed all of the information that he could get in the moment Vincent sent out a pulse of Will into his soul, prompting the full understanding of his current condition to flow into his mind all at once, whereupon his Insight shaped it into something easier to interpret.

Overall Condition:

  • Body: Stunted
    • Critical Riving Detected: Right Arm, Left Leg
    • Moderate Riving Detected: Vital Organs
  • Soul: Asleep
    • Critical Injury Detected: Soul Gate — Essence Bleeding Present
  • Nexus Reserves: Empty — Nexus Unformed



  • Respara: Breath of the Endless Zephyr – Ravaged
  • Vitalia: (Vacant)
  • Digesta: Gullet of the World Eater – Ravaged
  • Lympha: Endless River of Life – Ravaged


  • Mentara: Sovereign’s Insight – Active
  • Reactae: (Vacant)
  • Percepta: (Vacant)


  • Frama: Bones of Wyrmsteel – Ravaged
  • Vigoria: Dragonweave – Ravaged
  • Corpora: Titan’s Weave – Ravaged
  • Vena: Empyrean Veins – Ravaged

What? My soul is Asleep? And everything else is…no, that can’t be possible! No, no, no, Vincent thought with barely restrained terror as he took in his full sense of self, a profound dread falling over him as he pushed his focus deeper into his soul and saw ravaged, practically charred state. One that signaled the loss of almost every soulmeld that he had spent a lifetime building. A result, that as he turned to truly look at his right hand for the first time, had warped his body in turn, twisting flesh and bones in a way that nature had never intended for them to form. Yet for as tragic and devastating as that discovery was, it paled in comparison to the gaping wound that Vincent felt bleeding from the gateway to his spirit, the one that he could feel essence, the lifeblood of his soul, seeping freely from. How…how did this even happen? And my Nexus…all of my Incarnation is…gone? How can that—ah, my soul gate! It looks as if it was just…sliced open—no none of that matters right now, what matters right now is fixing it before it’s too late.

Which is exactly what Vincent prepared to set about fixing as he raised his all too shaky Will and plunged into the wound the gateway to his soul had suffered. Instantly blinding pain greeted him in response, leaving him feeling as if he had stabbed himself directly in the chest, which in a way he truthfully had. Yet even so, he did not let the agony stop him, his Will reaching out to grab the severed threads of anima, the flesh of his soul, surrounding the entry point to his spirit and bind them all together. It was a less than ideal solution to his situation, but one that took him only a handful of seconds to complete, even if it felt like an eternity in the moment. Then just like that, he was finished, the essence that had been steadily bleeding from his soul coming to a stop, leaving him for the first time since waking up feeling able to catch his breath and steady his racing heart.

That is before fate once again intervened in the form of the two men who had gotten him into this very situation in the first place.

Arriving as yet another explosion of fire and steam just a couple dozen feet away from him, Vincent’s attention was snapped back into the present when the wave that it sent out threatened to sweep him off his perch. Holding on, if barely, as the water washed over him, Vincent and his perch went under for several terrifying seconds before returning to the surface, where he was greeted by the chaos that had caused the blast in the first place. Chaos which as he soon discovered while blinking away streams of burning, dirty water from his eyes, was no longer limited to just between the two men who had kidnapped him.

“Ah! It’s after me!” Vincent heard Zane shout in a completely unhinged panic, the words reaching his ears a heartbeat before a deep, bestial snarl over took it. Echoing out seemingly from everywhere at once, Vincent found himself at a complete loss to pinpoint exactly what terrified the man so, seeing just enough through the gloom to see a pair of arms that were thrashing wildly as if to get away from something.

At least until his Insight happily outlined it for him.

Accompanied by a sense of overwhelming danger, Vincent saw sharp crimson lines fill his vision, silhouetting a large and very clearly monstrous creature that sliced through the water, rapidly closing in on the notably smaller shape of Zane. With just enough time to intellectually understand what was about to happen next, Vincent then saw the creature surge forward in an explosion speed, the sight of red lined teeth filling his Insight aided vision.

And then the man Vincent had known briefly as Zane was gone, a disturbing, bone breaking crunch marking his end.

However that still left the other half of the pair, who picked that very moment to resurface a few feet away from Vincent, his expression absolutely terrified as a weeping stream of blood from an open wound immediately started to pour down his face.

“Oh pit, oh pit, oh pit, pit, pit!” Vincent heard Hanner start to curse as he began to frantically swim, his arms and legs thrashing in an attempt to propel him through the water. But despite all his effort, Vincent immediately saw that it wouldn’t be enough, for the crimson silhouette had already turned and started to cut through the water towards them. It was something that the man somehow sensed as well, though far too late to make any difference. For right as he started to look back behind him, the jaws of the creature snapped out once more, filling the air with yet another life-ending crunch.

Leaving Vincent all alone with the monstrous creature now just arm’s reach before him.

Herring bone crunch and flesh slurp as the crimson silhouette devoured its prey, Vincent had a moment to stare up at it, his mind reeling in terror and what he just witnessed. The monster before him was unlike anything that he had ever witnessed before, his insight having absolutely nothing to offer as he gazed upon it, the reptilian creature’s black slimy scales barely visible from under the crimson outline in his vision. Something that he knew shouldn’t have been possible. A part of him knew that his Insight had never failed him before, had never left him wanting for any kind of knowledge he should have known, but this time it simply had no information to offer about what the creature was.

Yet that did not mean that it had absolutely nothing to offer Vincent, or at least it didn’t when the creature’s momentum caused it to brushed up against his arms.

Death mana, it has death mana, Vincent noted, ignoring the rightful fear of being so up and close with the creature in favor of the explosion of mana his senses revealed to him, one he realized was the first time he’d been able to sense the aspected energy since he’d awakened. However instead of fixating on the reason why he wasn’t able to sense any ambient mana surrounding him, he instead focused on the plan that sprang to his mind. 

In as much as sheer maniac desperation could be called a plan.  

Moving as fast as his riven body would allow him to, and before the massive creature could drift away or attack him, he slapped his riven right hand onto its slimy surface and immediately used it as a conduit to send the full extent of his Will into it. Carving through its mental defenses he felt a surge of surprise from the creature as it attempted to respond to his intrusion, but by then his Will had reached its core and seized the death mana contained within.

Whereupon he gave the mana a command that it was all too eager to fulfill.


Reacting as if it had been unleashed from a hidden restraint, Vincent sensed the mana instantly explode out from the monster’s nexus, leaping out to ravage both body and spirit. Yet that short mental glimpse of it surging forth was all that Vincent was able to have before his hand lost its place against the creature’s slimy body as it let out a thunderous, pained scream. One that as Vincent soon discovered was accompanied by a massive tail slashing through the water towards him. 

Which upon its arrival, sent him once more back into darkness.

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