367 Certainly an Illusion
Tycon slogged along in the white storm, stepping into snow banks that reached his knees. He was somewhat miserable for being in an illusion... but he tried not to let the details bother him.
He jostled his waterskin to ensure it wouldn't freeze too quickly, taking a small sip from it. He rubbed his face to keep warm. He thought of better times.
...and he thought of how concerned he would be if he were caught in an actual blizzard.
Tycon continued walking forward in one direction. There was no one else around, no footprints or other signs of life. There was no shelter in sight-- no trees or valley walls, either. His only consolation was in judging that the snowfall and the harsh winds would soon calm.
The situation was absurd-- most certainly an illusion.
If it was a teleportation-type spell, there would have been some sort of magical signature hinting at it-- there was not.
Failing that, he was caught in a formation... which was a field that Tycon was supremely confident in. Utilizing his System, he could identify and triangulate its weakpoint, where he would then... kick it... or something disruptive to that end.
Time was immaterial in Tycon's snowy world. He could have been wandering for minutes or bells or entire suns... not that it particularly mattered. All things come to an end. Eventually, the storm cleared as expected, granting Tycon vision of his surroundings.
He found himself standing in the eye of a thick mist. Slowly, the walls dissipated outward to reveal an ever-expanding field of translucent, crystal flowers.
Tycon picked one with a gloved hand, snapping its stem with a crack and rotating it in his fingers. It was marvelous, the way its numerous petals reflected the light. It was a masterful illusion to be so comprehensive, well-deserving of its Fourth-Circle rating.
Splotches of crimson marred the field in the distance. Humans. An armored Munifex lay dead, his flesh cut and broken by the flowers underneath. A large, ashen-grey humanoid creature the size of a bear knelt over the body, feasting hungrily upon the fallen's eviscerated abdomen.
⟬ Wendigo, Iron-Rank Undead. ⟭
Tycon was familiar with the creature-- that was comforting, all things considered. It was a gaunt, bony creature with desiccated skin and a hunger for human flesh, most common in the mountainous regions between the Eastern States and the Sleeping Country to the north. Their cannibalism made them grow in power. Judging by its size and relatively weak strength, it had not yet realized its potential.
Tycon prepared his crossbow and reload tool as he approached. A single wendigo would be easy enough to defeat.
However, as the mists began to recede... more Brazen Guard corpses were revealed... along with more wendigos feeding. As before, with the Lake Eels, Tycon did not want to engage with multiple Iron-Ranks simultaneously, if he could help it.
...Hm. No. Something was wrong. He chuckled to himself. There was no need to defeat such illusory creatures.
« System, analysis: That creature. »
⟬ System response: Wendigo, Iron-Rank Undead. ⟭
« System.... inquiry: This is... an illusion, is it not? »
⟬ Negative. ⟭
Tycon grimaced as he felt his heart rate spike to an uncomfortable pace.
« System, inquiry: Where am I? What is this place? »
⟬ System response: The Host is in a Reality Marble created by the White Lady. ⟭
Tycon shut his eyes and cursed internally.
Stars and stones.
A Reality Marble was completely different from an illusion or mind-control effect. Tycon was trapped in a magical world sustained by the Dread Wraith that was, for all intents and purposes, quite real.
If his magical power was stronger than the caster, he could forcibly break out. Unfortunately, concerning magic alone, he only amounted to an elementary mage, not even First-Circle. He could also feasibly brute force his way out if he was a higher level than Gold-Rank... but he was nowhere near breaking through.
There was no shelter in sight. There was nowhere to run. He was surrounded by enemies... and there was the likely possibility that there were more, still hidden in the mists.
Tycon unslung his crossbow, "⌈Venomous Shadow⌋, support me, if you would."
His white-cloaked shadowy doppelganger appeared beside him. Tycon handed over his heavy ranged weapon, quiver, and reload tool. The shadow accepted them, almost casually, inclining its head lightly as it drew back the bowstring and loaded an enchanted bolt.
...Hm. So the shadow could handle blessed bolts. It was a strange existence.
The sound of the bowstring locking interrupted the nearest Wendigo's meal. It lifted up its head, growling at the interlopers with stained teeth, blood dribbling down its chin and chest.
Tycon sighed as he strapped his shield to his arm and drew his enchanted short sword, "Let's... let's get this over with."
After Tycon had killed five wendigos, he was covered in blood. The issue was that... the blood was not of the undead. It was from the recently deceased. It somehow felt... dirtier, because of it.
Even though his cloak was stained horrifically, he had to convince himself he was fine with it. It wasn't his.
With the goal of avoiding injury, Tycon used a moderate amount of skills in the skirmish. He had used ⌈Tumble⌋ twice and ⌈Shadowfang Strike⌋ once. He even used ⌈Iron Dragon Rend⌋ to cleave a crevasse in the ice, splitting the attacking forces into two groups.
His ⌈Venomous Shadow⌋ disappeared after several crossbow shots, which markedly wasn't *only* one as his System suggested. He had no plans to correct his shadowy ally.
Thankfully, he was able to defeat each of the creatures, one-by-one, quickly and only at the cost of his stamina. To reward himself, he took a light sip from his waterskin and broke off a piece of jerky. He was trying to ration well, as he was uncertain how long he'd be stuck in the Reality Marble.
There would be some consciousness that he had to best... and if it were to hide from him, he might very well waste away without food and water.
A rumble and the shaking and shattering of various crystal flowers heralded a greater creature. Tycon stood up and stretched. Hopefully, whatever ridiculous creature appeared would be his key to escaping his prison.