Unsurprisingly, they let us in.

Unsurprisingly, they seem to be pissed off.

Unsurprisingly, my duplicate doesn't care.

I watch with amusement as he bathes in the glares of the Butler, and Housekeeper who has joined our party.

Both of us are escorted through the Bastion, on the shortest route to the room where we met them for the first time. Getting there, we find that it still lies in ruins, a testament to the short clash between the Housekeeper and I.

The tall and thin Armorer is already awaiting our arrival, alongside the Gardener.

"We have only half a day until the barrier runs out of mana, along with the rest of the systems," the Armorer says in his quiet, whispering voice.


With Vega in his arms, my duplicate just shrugs, and even I find myself wanting to punch him in the face for some reason. My minion seems to be enjoying the show as well. She is half-demon, isn't she? Such a show of arrogance and power would be something she would appreciate.

Indeed, I'm the most normal one here.

While they talk, I plop down and sate my curiosity by watching them. All four of the natives seem to be holding back their emotions, but there is still a hint of panic in their expressions.

"There is no way it's that easy to transfer so much mana, it would tear you apart," the Armorer complains after he hears Plan B.

"It's fine, we have some decent skills, and we’ll be working together with that lazy asshole over there," my duplicate responds.

So rude.


"Even then, it will take hours and hours of preparation to make it all work. You have no idea how many settings need to be changed. I will also need a sample of mana from the core you mentioned."

"Sure," the duplicate reaches into the anchor we have placed on one of the least damaged circuits.

Unable to contain it fully for a short moment, a wave-like mass of mana explodes from him, even pushing the Armorer a few steps back.

I reach out and resonate with him, and together we close the anchor.

Cursing under his breath, the Armorer gestures to the Butler, and both of them disappear through a rift to make their preparations.

Left behind with the two remaining members of their small group, I find the Housekeeper standing in front of me. She is smiling, but her eyes are dangerous. Even now, she is still wearing the same light dress with the same skirt ending just over her knees, her shoulders bared.

"I like the rapier you have; will you give it to me?" she asks shamelessly.

"It's a gift from someone very precious to me. I don't know if I can just…" I start before she cuts me off. She just reaches out and takes it off my belt.

For some reason, I can’t help but find this amusing, especially as she starts checking the weapon for any sort of damage and before cleaning it.

The Butler appears again, and my duplicate follows him, alongside Vega, to whom I gesture my assent, as the Gardener brings up the rear.

Once they’ve left me alone with the Housekeeper we spend the next two hours in silence. I can feel her gaze on me, but I just continue my training.

When I feel a sharp pulse of mana wash over the Bastion we stand up and head back towards the city walls. Neither of us is talking, even as we come to a lookout at the top of one of the higher walls. There, in the distance, stands two Veil Guardians, looking towards the Bastion.

"They must have followed you," the Housekeeper blames me.

"Probably," I agree.

"I can call the Butler for support, and we can…"

“They’re already connected to the Veil.”

“That's not very good.”

“I agree.” I leave a tiny orb and anchor near her, “If they move any closer, just destroy the orb, and I will be back.”

After that, I teleport a few times after locating my duplicate and the Armorer. I find them gathered in the core chamber alongside Vega and the Butler.

When I enter and reach the core, the Lord's body is already gone, now useless. Instead, my duplicate is discussing with the Armorer.

“It won't work, the core of this Skyhold Bastion is heavily standardized, and we’ve only ever made slight adjustments to meet our needs over time. The amount of mana it can contain is measured in…” the Armorer says in his calm, whispering voice.

“It will be fine, I'm good with inscriptions.”

“Your inscriptions are far from adequate. I can already point out five twists and three wasteful lines on the ones you’ve already inscribed.”

“Hey, if it works, it works.”

While they discuss, Vega moves closer to me, keeping her distance from the others. “Master, they like us even less than before,” she says somewhat happily.

“How does it make you feel?” I ask her with some curiosity.

“They hate master and uncle, but they’re still willing to cooperate despite being scared. Because master is stronger than them.”

“Is being stronger that important?”

“Yes. It's the best!”

My disciple indeed. “Good job, minion!”

“What did I do?” she asks confused, but I'm already standing next to the Armorer and the duplicate.

“We have two Veil Guardians outside of the Bastion, and they are already connected to the Veil,” I tell them.

The Armorer turns to me, “Standard procedure. They were once powerful humans twisted into their current forms by the Veil. The Veil Guardians' main objective is to locate places like Skyhold Bastion or find strong survivors and then pass that information along.”Unauthorized use of content: if you find this story on Amazon, report the violation.

“So, not good?”

“Yes, Mister Gwyn, not good.”

“Hey, original weirdo, help me over here with inscriptions. That scrawny man is too scared to do anything.”

Immediately the Armorer complains, “I have to say it again, but the way you are using inscriptions is extremely primitive, it’s taxing on the materials and the user.”

“Hey, if it works, it works,” I say to him and join Vega's uncle.

It takes a few seconds, but it's enough for me to grasp his intent, and ignoring the rest of the room, I join in. My mana resonates with his, and we etch and paint inscriptions on the core itself and the floor around it. Together we create an anchor and use [Tether] to gradually connect it with the one we left in the Ignition Station.

At this point, I activate Mana Wavelength Iris and take over, my new passive allowing me to handle more strain than my duplicate.

This time he uses [Resonance] to connect to me, and we combine our [Mana Domains], using [Infusion] and [Mana Manipulation] to handle it all.

Lastly, I put our beloved creation, the single use, ugly Focus crown on my head, and create a black orb of highly compressed mana, both of us working to keep it under control.

“Ready?” I ask.

“Go for it.”

[Focus] activates, and I take the black mana into my body, using it to power the skill.

The world around me slows as my brain processes all of the information my eyes are feeding me, and that's when I activate [Tether] and [Redistribution]. The inscriptions glow radiantly. The ones we’ve painted, and the ones we’ve etched, as a trickle of mana flows from the Ignition Station's core to be filtered through my skills. And I, slowly, increase the openings size, allowing more and more mana to pass through.

Quickly, the amount blossoms into a powerful stream that I struggle to keep under control. My duplicate is helping me by activating inscriptions and quickly adjusting our mistakes, and even the Armorer and the Butler seem to be helping us in the background.

And like that the core of the Bastion lights up, more and more mana filling it, the audible hum sounding in the room.

It's easy.

It's so damn easy with all of our preparations, and My duplicate’s assistance, so in excitement, I widen the opening, and like a wave, much more mana flows through.

The process speeds up even more. Yet still, it's not difficult.

I'm using so many skills, I'm handling black mana, I'm handling my eyes. I'm even making sure Vega is out of danger. Even then, it's possible with black mana powering my [Focus].

The world feels slow, I have plenty of time to react every time something breaks or cracks. And my inexperience is supported by my ability to improvise and handle it all while we work.

Should I let even more mana flow through?


Should I open the pathway wide open and let the entirety of the core fill up? It could be fun.


I bet I could handle it. The Bastion might break, and its core might be damaged. But I could do it. I can endure that amount of mana flowing through.

“That's enough,” my duplicate disrupts my skills and forcibly pulls me away from the core, and only then do I come back to my senses. All the sounds my skill allowed me to ignore come rushing in and with them, useless information like the state of my body, pain, and other useless things.

The black mana disappears, and my passive activates, fed by the Vortex Core, and taking a few steps, I plop down on one of the tables. My body hurts, my head hurts, and I realize I can't see. But my mind is fine. Either thanks to my new passive or the results of our training.

“Close your eyelids; your eyes have been burned out. You don't want Vega to see you like this,” My duplicate says, and then I can sense him moving towards Vega and pulling her somewhere else.

I do as he told me and use more thermal energy from the Vortex Core. Then I examine the damage.


Well, it could be worse.

“How can you be capable of channeling so much mana? You should be dead, reduced to a mass of burned pathways inside a charred body,” the Armorer says.

I can hear the curiosity in his voice, maybe even bordering on fascination.

He continues, “You bear a magnificent mind to handle it all effortlessly. Your body is extremely conductive too, and your eyes... it's been so long since I’ve seen such a powerful trait. Has it already been strengthened? Once, twice?”

Sensing his presence with [Perception], I release a bit of kinetic energy and push him further away from me.

“So, how is the core?” I ask.

“Full to the brim,” he doesn't seem to mind but I can still feel his gaze on me. “I already started the sequence to take off, and the Butler went to use communication systems to warn the citizens.”

“Flying already?”

“Yes, in the past few days, the Veil has become much more active in this area, and two Veil Guardians outside are bad news. We have to leave. But I want to show you something first. Can you transport both of us to the Housekeeper?”

Feeling thermal energy healing my wounds and making sure Vega is safe with my duplicate, I push myself off the table and onto my feet.

I almost stagger but I'm able to control my battered body and keep myself standing.

My duplicate seems to be in a similar, if a bit better state, so there is no way I will be acting all hurt where that weirdo can see.

Pushing through, I put my hand on the Armorer and teleport us to the anchor I left on the wall. Appearing on the other side, a sharp pain flashes through my head, and with my eyes still closed, I turn towards the direction where the Housekeeper is standing.

“Fuck, you look like shit. I like that,” she says immediately.

“Housekeeper, please, your language,” the Armorer says in a quiet voice.

“Fuck you too. We are at full attention, and there will be a lot of fighting fairly soon. You know what that means. I'm taking over.”

“All of us know the rules, Housekeeper.”

“Good, do we have enough juice to deal with these two jerks?”

“More than enough.”

I'm still unable to see. It seems that because of my trait, my eyes are taking longer to heal than they would’ve if I didn't have my Mana Wavelength Iris. But I can use my other senses, and at that moment, I feel an immense wave of mana rush into the barrier and the walls.

It spins, it twists, it hums, and I feel multiple segments of the barrier grouping up and creating a delicate shape that collects and directs all of that mana. That mana spins there, bounces, and clashes multiple threads against each other. All of that concentrates it even further, and the spinning circle gains even more speed.

At this point, the noise of it reminds me of a sling spinning at terrifying speed.

Suddenly, the Butler appears from a rift to stand at my side.

“Focus on the one to the left,” the Housekeeper barks at the Armorer who has taken control of the barrier. “Butler, I want you to grab the voidsteel blades afterward.”

There is no hesitation in her voice, and it seems to be well placed. The rays being emitted from the segments of the barrier roar through the air as if they were tearing it apart. In a fraction of a second, the rays hit their target.

The Butler disappears, and a second later, he reappears, and I can sense two red-hot, and undamaged voidsteel blades on his person.

“The second one has escaped,” the Armorer says.

“We expected as much. Continue our preparations for lift off. We will head to the Sanctuary and then move further south,” the Housekeeper orders.

Well, it looks like I will get to see what happened to Darren and Nina after all.

However, and more importantly, let's see how this thing flies.