Chapter 891 The Second Aurum
Jake blinked dumbfoundedly three times as he considered how to answer the question, then realized he didn't have to lie.
"Tie game. You were both this close to merging with the Mana Storm when I found you." He confessed sincerely, simultaneously giving them a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.
The two giants deflated with dejection, their eyes staring down at their feet in disappointment. The members present could also hear Rogen muttering under his breath, "Next time I'll win."
Everyone burst out laughing and Jake couldn't help but look at them with amus.e.m.e.nt. The best thing about these two silly brutes was that they were so focused on their own duel that they hadn't hurt any of their comrades.
Despite their uselessness in the final battle, their obsessive rivalry had probably saved the lives of a few Myrtharian Nerds. If Gerulf and Rogen had really gone on a rampage on the battlefield, no one could predict what the consequences would have been for them and the enemy.
"What do we do now?" Wyatt asked awkwardly. His performance just now and during the final battle had shown him how lacking he was.
Aside from Carmin, he didn't know if any of the other Players in his faction had survived. After this Ordeal he would go into seclusion to undergo intensive training.
Everyone looked at each other with a shrug before turning to Jake. He deliberated for a second and then suggested, "Let's check for any other survivors I may not know about. I also want to know how Craig and the others from New Earth are doing."
What he kept to himself was that he wanted to know what had happened to Ruby's human half and how she had reached the building intended for her in the first place. No one had any objections with his proposal and they all left Aurum's building together.
"Hey, guys, aren't you even going to thank me? It's because of my Oracle Heal that you're all alive!" The Myrmidian cried out in outrage as he watched them leave, disregarding his existence.
They stood still and turned to Jake. Seeing his abashed expression, they realized that it wasn't their leader who had saved them.
Especially since the poor Aurum had traded in his fancy battle suit for some rusty armor that looked like it would crumble at the first whiff of wind. The other Myrtharian Nerds had a good understanding of his abilities and immediately understood what that meant.
"He speaks the truth." Jake swiftly apologized. "Without his Oracle Heal, saving you would not have been so simple and straightforward."
He then addressed Aurum directly and said, "I promised that I would compensate you for your sacrifice. Not only will I compensate you for the riches you lost to produce this lvl5 Oracle Heal, but I will also make sure you reap some profit from it."
Beaming, Aurum hurried to stop him with a contented smile. "No, no, no. No need, boss. As long as the faction compensates me, that's enough. In the first place, I kept this Oracle Heal to save myself. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have been able to use it alone. Besides... by saving you this way I believe the Oracle will give me a special Ordeal reward."
Well, that wasn't untrue. Jake had not considered this aspect. Aurum's selfless act had indeed saved his comrades while ensuring his own survival. If the Oracle System's logic applied, he would be graciously rewarded for this outstanding feat.
Over time, if there was one thing Jake had learned, it was that the Oracle valued survival above all else. Even if a Player accomplished legendary feats during an Ordeal, if he perished on a mission then he would be heavily punished. This was because from the Fifth Ordeal on, the punishment would be much more irreversible and absolute: death.
Upon learning how much of Aurum's "wealth" he had sacrificed to produce this Oracle Heal, the other Myrtharian Nerds present felt guilty and were quick to thank him, promising to also compensate him in the future when their finances permitted.
It was a little embarra.s.sing, but right now they were at the poorest point in their lives. Their artifacts and equipment were destroyed or damaged, they had spent almost all their Aether Points to power their Oracle s.h.i.+elds, and they had to save what little they had left to repair or replace what they had damaged or lost.
Jake was in an even more troublesome situation. He still couldn't access his Oracle Device and therefore had no way to generate the proverbial Aether Points usually used as universal transaction currency by all bracelet holders.
'You can condense Aether Crystals if necessary,' Xi advised in his head for lack of a better idea. 'I have a gut feeling you'll be surprised...'
Jake could guess what she was referring to as he focused on his extrasensory perception. When he turned on his Aether Vision, the physical world faded out and he saw himself in the center of an Aether vortex that was only a few inches across but so bright that no star could compare. The amount of Aether he was siphoning off every second inside the Celestial City was just insane!
It only took him a quick glance to calculate that this absorption capacity far surpa.s.sed that of a Grade 6 Aether Core. Normally, the ambient Aether density would have dropped rapidly, to the point of destabilizing the s.p.a.ce and causing rifts to appear.
But surprisingly, the Aether density of the Celestial City remained constant. Jake wondered if this city-s.h.i.+p was special, or if Aurae had taken steps to make this possible now that the Ordeal was almost complete.
'This absorption speed...' Jake frowned in intense concentration and growing perplexity.
'It looks like your Grade 10 Aether Core.' Xi confirmed his hunch. 'The s.p.a.ce Storage in your Oracle Device must have been digested along with the rest. However, such an Aether Core would have to generate a vortex of gigantic diameter and the Aether density your body would have to withstand would be such that you wouldn't be able to withstand it for more than a few millionths of a second. It's very puzzling. It's as if...'
'As if the Aether came from somewhere else and was stored directly somewhere in my cells.' Jake finished her sentence with a look of genuine shock. The Aether was not drawn from the atmosphere of Quanoth, but directly from another, much more abundant and inexhaustible source.
The original Aether Source hypothesized by many Aetherists or something much more sinister? He needed to know.
He then tested mindfully drawing in the Aether around him and found that he was still able to do so, except that the syphon effect was coming from every part of his body, not from a specific Aether Core. He could also mobilize Reiga, Mana, Fluid or Aether with a single thought with the same spontaneity as if he had been born with the ability.
"Jake? Aren't you coming with us?" Lucia stopped as she saw him frozen in place with a blank stare. The blue-black gleam flas.h.i.+ng in his pupils rose and fell in radiance intermittently, giving him a baleful aura.
"Jake?" She repeated, tugging on his arm gently.
When her hand touched his body, her Aether stats dropped sharply and the Aether Core she was concealing in her dantian nearly leapt out of her belly and right into Jake's body. If she hadn't immediately let go and fallen to the ground, all of her energy would have been siphoned off in a second or two.
Jake's gaze focused on the young woman and he realized what he had done when he saw her pale face and her clothes drenched in cold sweat.
"Are you okay?" He asked concernedly as he helped her to her feet.
"I-I'm fine." She tried to rea.s.sure him, but Jake could see that she wasn't. Her Aether stats had dropped by 30% permanently by that one physical contact.
"You're not fine." Jake calmly contradicted her.
Suddenly spurred on by some impulse, he took her hand and the Aether he had devoured was returned to her in full with a generous surplus. Her Aether Stats were even 1 or 2% higher than before.
"H-how did you do that?" She stammered with utmost bewilderment.
" I'm not sure." Jake answered honestly.
No matter how he probed his body with his mental sense, he could find no trace of Aether or Reiga Core. However, he could tell that the fusion between his body, his Spirit Body, and his soul was much more profound than with the Digitization.
He thought it was just that, but it appeared that every cell in his body had also become its own Reiga and Aether reactor and transmitter. It was as if his Grade 10 Aether Core and Reiga Core had been infused into his body and soul. His digestive system was no longer limited to the traditional oral route and his entire being could now display a voracious appet.i.te. The good news was that he could also make himself "throw up".
"Oh?! My Oracle AI said I regained 6 billion Aether Points when you touched me the second time." Lucia exclaimed with delight.
Jake's eyes widened to the brim at the news. It would seem that his ability to make money hadn't weakened while digesting his Oracle Device. It had just reached new heights.