Chapter 10: Spirit Division Alteration
Picky managed to stop screaming. It wasn’t really due to any virtue of his own. Two things aided in him ceasing to scream. The first was that Gaddy put his hand over Picky’s mouth. The second was that while Picky had expected a considerable amount of pain from his arm unravelling into a spiral, there was not in fact any pain.
To the credit of Jojo and Ruin, neither of them had screamed at the sight, they were however thoroughly horrified. Luca didn’t much like the current development either. Seeing that Picky had calmed somewhat, Gaddy released him.
“Your arm… are, are you ok?” Jojo worried.
Picky stared at what had become of his arm. It was more like a tentacle with a hand on the end now. Where the skin had split there was softly pulsing… static. He moved the arm back and forth, twisting it in that pattern or this pattern. A hysterical laugh escaped his lips.
“Picky, this is the altering you talked about right?” Gaddy asked.
“We were trying to become like that?” Ruin questioned.
“You aren’t in pain or anything?” Luca wondered.
With a shake of his head, Picky came back to his senses somewhat.
“No, I’m… stable I guess. I can feel a flow though. A flow of magic? I feel like I could sweep it about with this limb?” Picky babbled.
“What happened?” Gaddy asked.
Everyone gathered around Picky, trying hard not to stare too much at his altered limb. He wasn’t that good at explaining what he went through, but then, he wasn’t fully sure himself. He finished talking about his experience with the following words;
“It’s all a bit fuzzy, it was like… not like I was a different person, but I was a different me. How do I say it. If you became a dragon, but you were still you. That kind of feeling? I was a Spiral. A spirit that was a spiral”
“I don’t get it” Luca stated.
“Me neither” Jojo complained.
“Obscure” Ruin objected.
“None of us get it, that isn’t the important thing. The thing that matters now is that we don’t have a lot of time. We’ll try to get altered one more time then we need a plan for rescuing everyone!” Gaddy said.
“Should we really do this bro?” Jojo looked at Picky’s writhing spiral arm.
“It is a big risk” Picky warned.
“I’ll do it. I don’t want to stand by and watch others die” Luca finally said.
“Me too” Ruin added.
“You’re all crazy. If anything goes wrong, It’s all your fault ok Picky!” Jojo
“I’m in too!” Jojo pumped her fist in the air.
“Well, all we need to do now is figure out how to trigger altering!”
Everyone went silent as they considered this problem. Luca and Gaddy had a small experience of the mystery of the Alterworld. Picky had by far the largest experience. Everyone stared hard at him, eyes roving over his altered arm. The arm wrapped itself around Picky’s body defensively.
“Don’t look at me like that! I don’t know what to do ok!”
Gaddy patted Picky on the back to reassure him, as usual the pats were a bit too strong.
“We’ll all do a full dive, and then return to our bodies. After that, we’ll make a plan”
“If you don’t all die and bring me down with you” Picky muttered.
“I’ll go first. Picky, your terminal?”
Picky swiped at his belt-buckle pulling that orb of his out once more.
“Hold on, I’ll set it up so that you’ll dive as soon as you make a contract with it”
He waved his spiral arm over the computer.
“Seriously?” Jojo said, didn’t Picky just wave his hand, how was that doing anything?
“This arm is amazing” Picky explained without explaining anything.
“I’ll go first” Gaddy said.
There was not an ounce of hesitation as he put his hand on the orb.
Spirit parted flesh, but that queer change did not occur. Gaddy was his own self and nothing more. He lingered for a time, looking at his body and feeling the flow of magic upon his spirit. Not wanting to waste more time, he returned to his body.
A memory of a memory. Atavism within blood and spirit, it did not reach the origin, but for a moment, there was a vision of a mighty and majestic dragon, this one a monarch of flame. The child of the vision was like all beings, an unbroken line. Everything returns, everything leaves.
Gaddy came to his senses. Everyone was tense as they saw him move. Yet, the dramatic failed to happen.
“I saw something, but… nothing huh? Luca, you’re up” Gaddy stepped out of the way.
The mountainous young man, Luca did indeed hesitated a moment, throat gulping, but he grabbed onto the orb all the same.
In that moment, his body changed, stone scales became imposing stone armour, and Luca found himself forcibly returned to his body. He tumbled away from Picky amid everyone’s cries. The ground cracked beneath him as Luca twisted in pain. Gaddy who had been moving to help leapt out of the way to avoid being crushed by Luca’s rolling bulk.
Luca’s body flickered, wreathed in static, it contorted between that of the Stone Champion and his more usual body. In a few moments, a decidedly more bestial form was visible. Gutteral roars tore their way from Luca’s body, and it was hard to tell if they were calls of pain or triumph.
In a moment, his body grew still, no longer lashing about. Gaddy and the girls rushed over.
“Luca, Luca!” Gaddy shook his body.
Jojo and Ruin began to rock his body too.
“Ow, quit that, I’m alive, get off me!” Luca objected.
“Is your body filled with a new and awesome power?” Picky eagerly asked, looming over Luca’s prone form.
“What kind of thing is that to ask someone who just went through… I thought I was going to die there!”
A bit shaky, with a little assistance (it was mostly Gaddy, Ruin and Jojo tried to help, but really their close presence just make Luca a bit more flustered) Luca managed to stand.
“You’re still with us right?” Gaddy asked.
“As for power… I might be able to change into that armoured form. I get the feeling I’ll be a mess afterwards though”
Having said that, Luca sat down and began to meditate in the manner that his coach had taught him.
“Well, that’s more than me, girls, one of you up next” Gaddy said.
Jojo and Ruin remained where they were, glancing nervously at Luca.
“You don’t have to” Picky suggested.
“No, gotta” Ruin replied, striding forward.
“Wait!” Jojo called.
“Sorry. Don’t stop me” Ruin said quietly.
“No, that isn’t it… um… can we go together”
“Huh? Why?” Picky said, demonstrating his lack of understanding.
Ruin however nodded and smiled.
Shaking his head, Picky fiddled with his orb.
“Right, I’ve set it up for a dual dive”
Two hands were placed on the orb.
The essence of the Alterworld did not appear to stir. Ruin and Jojo looked at their ephemeral spirit bodies, with the kaleidoscopic stain glass way that everything looked, it was quite amazing.
“We look a lot prettier as spirits, don’t we?” Jojo observed, twirling around in place.
“Instead of being prettier, I wish I was as brave as you Ruin”
Ruin fiercely shook her head.
“I wish I was as sociable as you.”
“Naw, I’m just real noisy!” Jojo giggle.
“Don’t say that!”
Jojo smiled at Ruin and took her hands.
“It doesn’t look like anything is happening, lets get back into our bodies ok?”
With a thought, they returned to the flesh from which they came.
Nothing seemed out of order.
“Well, we might not have made great gains, but nothing bad happened. We have to plan now!” Gaddy announced.
Nothing seemed out of order, but when Jojo turned to look at Ruin, what greeted her was…
Golden eyes… her own eyes?
An “Eh” came from the mouths of both girls.
Had they switched bodies?