"Er... sorry. Didn't think that was necessary of you. We are all friends here, aren't we?" He smiles uncertainly, but with good intentions: I don't want anyone here to feel uneasy about letting themselves come and go unannounced... or for any reason at all, actually. This place should be like a sanctuary, not a Way Station with check-ins or rosters of who comes and goes.
"Please, let me get you something to drink, or food if you're hungry. Just let me know what you'd like." He starts walking to the kitchen, even as he mulls over what Scarlet could have run into, and what Misery and especially Night would enjoy seeing when they finally go on another trip.
"I...I"m not sure what to say." Ran stated as she looked at a sword. "However, this does feel dramatically different than what you did before. Then, I know I could use my magic still...now I am not so sure I can. It's not as if there is a seal...but it's as if the mana in the air is denying it. Perhaps if you dispelled this and you told me what you were going for, I could give you feedback." Ran stated in a matter of fact manner. She was used to keep her calm even in face of powerful opposition. No...this is an ally. Moreso I should keep my calm. I should not fear his power, rather be comforted.
With a short, cheerful laugh, Hriob nods, and disappears in a dark-looking ripple. A second later, he appears with a bucket of fresh salmon, traded for in a seaport he once ran through in another realm. Firing up the grill, he deftly uses telekinesis to clean and gut a few from the bucket as he looks through the selection of herbs, spices, and seasonings he has to choose from.
"So, where did you go? Anything fun or exciting happen?" He took the appearance and mood of a barkeep well here, enticing a story out of his guest while he worked to cook her food. I think I'm getting used to this sort of work very well indeed now, I really am glad I came here... This is actually pretty fun to do.
"Well, I went for a long refreshing walk up the mountain, thats why I was gone for so long. Ran in to a few spiders, but that's about it really."
Sniffing the air she began to drool a little bit, as Salmon was her favorite. She rolled around on the counter top, and yawned again.
"Really? I should come with you next time then, I haven't gone hiking on any mountains in far too long now... Here's your Salmon. I seared it with what I hope is just the right blend of seasoning." Her plate put in front of her, he looks out at Night, Misery, and Scarlet still in the lobby... and shakes his head.
With a ripple, he appears right in front of Night and hugs her tight again, just for the sake of mutual comfort.
Caleb closed his eyes and the reality faded from existence. "Very well then." He looked at Ran. "No one has yet to best me at the epitome of Thaumaturgy, yet we have someone walk in here and break the strongest reality I have ever made; the reality of the soul." He walked towards the center. "What I am trying to accomplish is the seemingly flawless transition between the 'truth' and the 'self'. With such, there will be no point of breaking; but I can deploy a back-up in case the first breaks." He closed his eyes. "I used to think that it was like a bubble, deployed upon the field as such. But now it seems it shouldn't be like so." He looked at Ran. "So tell me Ran, how did it feel earlier?"
Sniffing the air she licked her lips.
"It smells delicious."
Grabbing a fork she began to eat quickly, as though she had not eaten for days. She bounced excitedly as she ate, and once she was done she rubbed her belly.
"You should come with me sometime, it's just some exercise."
"Well, it did feel like it was more creeping up on everything, though it didn't feel like a perfectly fluid transformation." Ran stated, closing her eyes. "I'm not sure how you do it, but it seems like things don't feel in sync...like time for instance" She shook her head. "Perhaps you might also want to strengthen what you do have. It's a thought...but have you thought of syncing your self more with that demon fox's essence? You won't become a demon fox, or lose what you are now, or what you physically are. You just...establish further links in the magic leylines."
After another half minute of embracing Night, he ripples back to the bar to take Kasas' plate with a smile. "I'd love to, just let me know when you leave next time so I can come with. And actually, if you need a change in scenery, I'd be happy to take us to some other mountains I've been on if you want a challenge or a different view. I've been on tons of them, and even grew up on a mountain peak, so it wouldn't be too much for me to manage."
Caleb hadn't thought of the idea. He had only wanted the fox purely to augment his own essence. He didn't realize he could do more with it. Concentrating on that that, he felt a huge surge of energy course through him. With a nod, he spoke his chant again.
"I am the bone of my sword
Steel is in my body and fire is my blood"
As he started his chant, swords were forming all around, even in the forest, even in the tavern. Ash began to fill the air, and the distant sound of gears groaning could be heard.
"I have created over a thousand blades.
Unknown to death, not known to life."
Magic circles formed beneath him, forming the diameter of the clearing, while there were stray magic circles that were forming in the large magic circle; a sign of a sudden flux of power.
"Have withstood pain to create many weapons. Yet those hands can not hold anything.
So as I pray. Unlimited Blade Works!"
The reality was made, however confined in the clearing. The stray fragments of its creation drew themselves into the source; sword becomes light and melds into the bright dome of creation.
Inside, the reality seems to look the same, but the gears appear more numerous and the sky appears even more ablaze. The rain of ash seems to go on forever, yet it never seems to accumulate at all.
Caleb closed his eyes as he had finished. "It seems to be better than before...."
"Dear Lord..." Hriob had noticed the swords the moment they appeared, and knew what they were in an instant. Pressing himself, he uses his full Vision, and is able to make out that Caleb was channeling more energy than before form within him somehow... giving both himself and the spell a completely different feel and strength. This must be what he's been working on... damnit if he can still find room to improve at his level, I shouldn't slack off either.
...but of course, I need him to replicate that remedy in order for me to continue down that path... With a sigh, Hriob gets back to work on the cleanup in the kitchen. Training will have to wait a bit longer still for him right now...
Ran shook her head. She had not expected these results. It's like receiving a spell attack from that black and white magician all over again! She looked at one of the swords nearby. The swords all still look the same, but why do I have a bad vibe coming from each and every single sword here? "Caleb...I...know you made progress, but I think it would be a good idea for you to head back and let your body adjust."
Caleb nodded at Ran as he broke the reality. He walked back towards the tavern, which took quite some time to do. When he got back he yawned. "Mmm." Finding the mixture Ran made, he examined it for a while and then managed to replicate it. He made about a dozen, placing them in front of Hirob's room before he went to his own room for some shut-eye.
In reality, he wanted to meditate on how the reality was brought about, and its implications now to how he could bring about realities in the future.
Hriob nodded at Caleb as he came in, before finishing cleaning up and setting a pot of Green Tea to steep. He was beginning to notice he unconsciously chose green tea when he wanted to reduce stress on his mind and body, mint when he wanted to cheer up, Earl Grey when he was already cheerful or at least pleasant, and Breakfast Tea when he needed to wake up. At this rate, others will be noting my deepest, darkest thoughts whenever I start on a fresh cup. He chuckles as he pours himself a cup.
Then, he notes the remedies Caleb made for him. A thank-you note appearing on Caleb's desk with one ripple and the bottles moving to his workbench alongside the ether tonics, he then Translates an ether and a tonic to the counter in front of him. grabbing them, he takes them and his cup of tea into the Duelist room...
..which he turns into a cold mountainside balcony made of cold, sturdy dark-grey stone.
He had looked out from this balcony many times as a young student in Heimgard, when he would watch the sun and moon rise when he found time to sneak away from his room or classes, or watch the stars. Thick clouds obscure the ground below a certain level of the mountainside as far as the eye can see, but a waxing gibbous moon with a large chunk missing off the side looms close in the night sky, alongside a myriad of stars in the freezing cold, but windless, clear air.
He sits down in the center of the room's recreation of a piece of his childhood, and quaffs the ether.
The training begins again; power erupting from within only to be fought and harnessed as best he can, latent and otherwise unreachable strength uncorked little by little as time passes, pain and effort turned into power and experience through bitter diligence.