After four trials of meditation, hunting and otherwise preparing for their next experiment, Varthakh was ready for their second attempt in their experimental ability development. They were going about growing in their magic, becoming, by developing new abilities and stretching the boundaries of their spark.
Since they were a mere novice, the root of becoming was the totem. Even before they were initiated, they were made to cut off a piece of themselves and create their own totem by their mentor, Eric. Totrial, however, arcs after they'd made their first totem, they were uprooting the very foundation of the discipline. On their last attempted experiment, Varthakh had managed to adapt a few cells of the Scalv Ziemia from a living subject, not a totem or a carcass, but a living, breathing creature.
They did this through a method they'd dubbed 'Pseudo-Dedication', as opposed to ordinary 'Dedication'. All becomers knew how to normally dedicate a totem, it was the process in which a becomer channeled their spark through a totem for twenty-four breaks and unlocked it to themselves by imprinting themselves upon it. Until recently, Varthakh had believed that this process could only be done with totems, which were the three sovereign substances woven together into a single object. but they'd proven themselves to be wrong.
Through intense meditation and ether expenditure, they were able to accomplish a similar sort-of bonding experience with a living Scalv Ziemia, but it perished shortly after and turned to stone. It was due to their own negligence, they knew, but she'd died nonetheless.
They only had two more Scalv to experiment with, so they had to be careful. With that in mind and all their belongings and notes ready, they pushed their way through the doors to the Colosseum and walked around the railing that acted as the snake's holding pen. They were in there while they passed, lounging in the morning sun, well fed and happy. In recent trials, the Jeger had issued a coordinated effort with the Bonde to train the scalv, now that they'd outgrown their ravenous appetites.
A single Warden was in the stands that trial, so they approached him and asked him to move one of the two males to the holding pen, where Varthakh's tools and notes waited. The Warden spoke his compliance, then began to issue orders in haltunga as the Ithecal made their way to the room that had become their study. It was the holding pen, a place that they normally stored ferocious and murderous beasts. By Ganren's grace and generosity, they were allowed to use it to conduct their experiments.
With their notes in hand, they removed their blindfold and blinked quickly as they tried to adjust to being able to see again. The world in their immediate area cleared of its blurriness and became clear, but everything further than ten feet from them remained a smudged mess of edgeless colors. Thankfully, they didn't need to look further than ten feet to read over their notes. They set their papers on the table from their domain bag and dropped their tail end on the provided stool. They then began to read through them while they waited for their test subject. The Jeger had taken around three breaks to get it done last time, so they took their time in their preparation.
"So, what's the plan this time?" They asked themselves as they flicked through papers. "A heavier lean on adapt than Assimilation. We took too much last time without enough material copied," they replied through their very same mouth quite casually. Their totems had taken a liking to talking to them through their own maw, and they saw no harm in it while they were alone. "Yes, that makes senses," they said then with a heavier emphasis on the S's int heir sentence.
"The way I see it," they said as they dipped the point of their quill in an ink well, "Adapt is the limiting factor in the process, we'll need to try and adapt as much material as possible while we meditate before using assimilation to bunch it all into a totem." They said while they wrote their own list of methods they wished to try.
Then, quite unexpectedly, the gate opened wide, and in slithered the Scalv with the majority of his upper body raised. Outside, the Lothar were giving the snake orders that he had been trained to obey, and Varthakh stared, quite impressed with how much they'd accomplished. The blind reptilian flicked his tongue to gather the scents of the chamber while the gate behind him closed.
With a raised brow, they looked to the blur of pale scales, then carefully and steadily stood. The metal of their stool creaked and groaned at the relief of their weight, and the Scalv looked to them with caution. It hadn't been in this room before, it was right to be cautious. "Stay calm, we mean you no harm," they spoke softly. Their blurred vision remained locked on the blind snake as they walked to the corner, then collected a dead Stekir from the pile.
"Over here," they spoke calmly again in an effort to draw the serpent's attention. The reptile again flicked his tongue to gather scents, then widened his blind eyes slightly. Varthakh walked forward, making sure to spread as much of the Stekir Carcass' scent as possible. When the beast closed in, they reached out to pet him gently on his nose, then hand fed him the Stekir. The serpent barely had to open his maw at all to take the tiny, pathetic creature into his mouth. It was a snack, a treat, a gift to earn his trust.
From there, Varthakh continued some short and simple bonding exercises with treats, bodily contact, and calm speaking. They soon had his trust, and he coiled himself upon the floor, content to rest in their presence. Varthakh nodded at their job well done, then donned their blindfold again. "Don't panic, any of you," they said to their totems, who rested in their domain bag on the table just across from them, "I'll surely overstep in the next few bits, but don't panic. I'll be fine."
Warnings aside, they donned their blindfold again and placed their open palms on the serpent's thick hide, which was still warm from his time in the hot sun. There, they cleared their mind and brought themselves to the very precipice of a trance, but not quite all the way there. If they did enter a trance, they would lack the cognitive ability to more accurately and consciously execute their abilities, it could quite easily result in the death of another Scalv. To make up for the lightness of their meditation, they channeled their ether into the Scalv and marked the three sovereign substances for their collection: Blood, bone, and scale.
Everything was in place, and they were ready to begin the process. Adapt was a skill they often used on the fly, it was the ability that broke the 'all or nothing' rule of becoming and took only a trill or two to copy the trait of one of their totems upon themselves. So, without relent, tact or hesitation, they cast adapt at its full strength and drained a considerable chunk of their ether in doing so, but they felt their palm gather some material, enough to be significant. They repeated the process again and copied another chunk of the substances into their flesh, this one brought them to the cusp of overstepping, unknown to them in their near-trance state.
They began to channel the cells through their body via assimilation, then cast adapt with a little more ether than they normally would. They wanted to get the process done faster in case the Scalv decided to move, or they accidentally assimilated too much again. All the scales of their palm changed in thickness then, and their bones became stronger too. They didn't know, but their nose was bleeding and a heavy migraine was creeping up on them, the telltale warnings of overstepping.
Ignorant and focused elsewhere, they cast adapt again, then became wracked with terrible pain that struck them at their deepest point, their spark and soul alike. The sensation snapped them from their meditation immediately. They remained blindfolded but could feel their nose, gushing blood and running down their chest as they held onto the Scalv with their unnaturally thick-scaled hands. They fell to the floor then and wrapped their gut with one of their arms. The sudden movement stirred the scalv from his rest, and he looked to the floored protean with blind eyes, just as the contents of their stomach emptied onto the stone floor along with a considerable amount of Scalv Ziemia blood and bone clumps.
It was hard not to choke on the material, but it made it through in the end.
The scalv looked upon them in disgust, then slithered to the far end of the room. To Varthakh, it was revealed that they had not fully recovered from their overstepping and that they'd only worsened their affliction by performing their experiment ability too soon. They retched then and groaned on the floor as they lifted themselves to sit on their feet, completely spent. "What just happened?" They asked as they lowered their blindfold.