84 Inverse Summi
When Zoey woke up, she was surrounded by absolute darkness. The last thing she remembered was falling after the ground collapsed beneath her, and then something hitting her head. Whatever it was had shattered her Ice Armor and knocked her out cold.
She did not know where she was now, but she knew who had saved her. Viridi was with her, curling her big body around Zoey protectively like a mother with her cub. Zoey had no doubt she would not have survived if it wasn't for Viridi. Zoey thanked her friend through their link and gave Viridi a big hug. She received a comforting purr and a soft touch from Viridi's nose in response.
After a moment of embracing her friend, Zoey sat back and activated her Mittra rune to heal any potential damage that maybe still lingering. A bump to the head of that severity it was no joke. Sure enough, as the Mittra rune did its work she could feel her consciousness clearing up, almost as if a fog had been lifted from mind.
Once the damage to herself had been repaired, she quickly made a light source with her Aether Engineer talent and turned it on to take a look around. As light flooded the area, she could see they were in a small cave with only one way in and out. Viridi had pulled her here to safety and blocked the entrance with debris to protect them. Other than that there was nothing remarkable about the cave.
Zoey sat down again with Viridi and replayed the events that had happened to bring them to this point. They have been extremely lucky to survive. She had never expected that out in the middle of nowhere would be an enemy that could control gravity to the point of making them unable to move. Had the ground not collapsed beneath them, they would have been killed by those creatures without a doubt.
On top of all that, her 9mm was no longer effective on some of these higher rank creatures. Zoey felt like she needed to re-evaluate her approach to this world... She was being a little bit too casual about her own safety. If she had encountered a creature even more dangerous, Viridi and her may not have been able to survive.
Zoey spent several moments thinking it over before realizing one important thing. She had ten Rank 3 essence stones in her inventory now. Four from the Cold Pikes, five were from the Moon Spiders, and the last was from the creature they had killed before getting into their current predicament. If the last one was compatible with her element affinity she could actually get to rank 4! She pulled out all the different Rank 3 essence stones from her inventory and pulled up her inspection interface to take a look.
[ITEM: Rank 3 Cold Pike Essence Stone
[ELEMENTAL AFFINITY: Cold, Water
[HOST COMPATIBILITY: True
[DESCRIPTION: The essence stone of a Cold Pike. This creature lives in cold, freshwater areas and is known to improve its underwater combat ability and swimming speed by augmenting its fins and teeth with ice.
[ITEM: Rank 3 Moon Spider Essence Stone
[ELEMENTAL AFFINITY: Dark
[HOST COMPATIBILITY: True
[DESCRIPTION: The essence stone of the Moon Spider, a fearsome nighttime predator. Known for creating invisible poisonous webs that paralyze and kill on contact.
[ITEM: Rank 3 Heavy Stone Lizard Essence Stone
[ELEMENTAL AFFINITY: Ground, Gravity
[HOST COMPATIBILITY: True
[DESCRIPTION: The essence stone of a Heavy Stone Lizard. An extremely dangerous predator that hunts in packs and is known for being able to control gravity and the ability to create spears from the ground around it.
Zoey had to take a moment to absorb all that information. Seems like she would get some new abilities if he absorbed these essence stones. What she didn't understand was how the Heavy Stone Lizard essence stone was compatible with her. Could it be something related to the unknown elemental affinity she had? Zoey guessed she would know one she actually absorbed the stone. Zoey made up her mind and got comfortable. She would get to Rank 4 right here in this little cave.
Viridi had assured her that she would protect her during the process. From her experience, she knew it would take her about 30 hours to completely absorb all ten essence stones, so hopefully Athena would not get too worried about her while she was down here.
Once Zoey had mentally prepared herself, she pulled out all the essence stones she would need and started the process. First she would absorb the Cold Pike essence stones, then the Moon Spider essence stones, then finally the last Heavy Stone Lizard stone. Like she did before, she would focus on absorbing the essence stones first, then checking any changes to her abilities after.
Ready to begin, she sank her consciousness into her inner world. She arrived on the small island in the middle of her essence lake next to the crystalline tree that stood there. As she looked around she had a strange feeling that something was watching her again. Last time she had felt this she had no idea what it could have been, but now she knew it was her link to Viridi! Their link was so strong that Viridi could actually watch over her when she was in her inner world!
Comforted by the watchful eyes of her friend, Zoey sat down with her back to the tree and started absorbing the essence stones. The process she was now familiar with started once the first drops of essence started pouring into her essence lake.
[UNKNOWN ESSENCE SOURCE DETECTED
The mechanical voice once again echoed out across her inner world. The powerful primeval sound created ripples across her essence lake and made the branches of her crystalline tree drift slightly as if affected by wind. Zoey felt the tree at her back warm up as the process began. Below her essence lake's surface, the molten lava and the cool blue colors of her dual Heritages lit up with brilliant radiance in response, creating a brilliant light show on the surface of the lake.
Above her, the aurora in the sky begin flowing together and changing into a multitude of colors that stretched from one horizon to the other. The only witness to this incredible scene was Viridi. Outside, in the small cave she sat protectively in front of Zoey, and deep inside her eyes you could see the reflection of what was taking place inside Zoey's inner world.
The process was well on its way, and Viridi would patiently wait for Zoey, no matter how long it took.