As soon as I walk out of the dungeon and look up at the sky from a thin path on the edge of the canyon, I see the orange setting sun above.

Instantly, the geopoints of my Rising Emperor's Domain [Find My Friend] feature manifest in my mind's eye, showing me that Arie is nearby, but Abby and Maria are still far off in Valor City.

My doubles sent off to find them and the one taking care of the town of thugs and recovering slave workers are still active, so I have no updates to work with. I'll have to assume my double is delaying for good reason.

For now, I'll continue with the task at hand.

I airstep up out of the canyon, and Ember follows by my side, using near-invisible platforms of dense red energy to step off of and gracefully fly through the air.

We head off to the edge of the Abyss, and to my surprise, I see Arie at its edge spewing refined demonic energy from his fingertips in thin but steady streams to attack a provoked Demonic Wolf.

At very close range, the energy rips through the wolf's hide, injuring its flesh all over, and bringing it to its knees in a matter of seconds after a barrage of jet black attacks.


These are the weakest of the Demonic creatures, but they are great target practice, and Arie's improvement is quite fast. Along with that, his confidence to practice without me in his main body is remarkable as well.

As he finishes absorbing the remaining unrefined energy from the fallen wolf, I finally step into range and wave him down.

At the sight of me, his eyes perk up, but he doesn't react quickly or move a muscle; he just breathes slowly and allows the energy within him to trickle out from his core and into the sand escaping his fingertips for almost a full minute as both Ember and I approach.

My best guess is, he still needs very high levels of concentration to keep the energy stable, so if he's not going to be in immediate battle or training for short spurts of time, his safest course of action is to drain his core. It makes sense, so I don't disturb him while he does his due diligence.

However, once his core is drained and I stand before him with a brand-new face beside me, he finally speaks up.

"You took your sweet time. So, I take it you won your fight and managed to rank up again."


I nod.

"Yes, I managed to rank up. I'm much more confident I can fend off another attack if the Dark One sends any more guards our way, but I still have to get much stronger. We all do."

Arie's gaze turns to Ember in his human form beside me.

"And who might this be? A strong ally?"

Arie looks at Ember curiously and cautiously. It's clear he's very intrigued by the confusing energy readings coming off of him, but concerned as well.

I reply.

"Yes, a very powerful ally. He's been assisting all of us from the background for a while, but I believe its time you all finally met."

Arie reads the situation perfectly and replies in a calm manner.

"A strong ally with a backstory that I shouldn't pry into just yet, it seems."

He chuckles, then looks Ember in the eyes.

"Well, a friend of Jay's is a friend of mine. Nice to meet you, I'm Arie."

Ember smiles, tightening his gaze and doing full scans of his own on Arie before replying and putting out a friendly hand to shake.Stolen from its rightful place, this narrative is not meant to be on Amazon; report any sightings.

"I'm Ember, it's nice to finally meet. I look forward to getting stronger with you."

They shake hands, but as soon as they release their grip, Ember does something unexpected.

He points his hand toward the abyss and a thick stream of Demonic Energy comes swirling toward him, compacting and hovering right above his hand in a dense ball. He shapes it into a fluctuating long sharp crescent and sends it flying back into the darkness where it came.

The powerful and dense attack of Demonic Energy slices through the abyss, leaving a wide open gash in the black mist.

He turns to Arie.

"I see you've recently obtained a Demon's core and need some assistance in mastering your Demonic Energy. I'm sure I can help you reach the next level."

Ember's methods for manipulating Demonic energy are fairly different than mine. He does not have a core, so he manipulates the energy outside of his body using some unknown force. However, he was the one that taught me how to use Demonic Energy in the first place, so I see no better fit for a teacher.

I have a lot of work to do, and guiding Arie through the next phases of training would take quite a while. I could use a body double to assist him, but Ember's insight will speed up his progress even faster.

So, I interject.

"Ember was the one that taught me most of my Demonic Energy techniques, so I trust that you'll be able to progress much faster with him watching over. Plus, this will be a good way for you two to get to know each other."

In the same moment, I share my body double skill with Arie, and he immediately feels the rush of energy and creates three doubles that spawn behind him. His main body speaks.

"It would be a pleasure. If you have anything to add, I'm all ears. I can tell I'm on the verge of another breakthrough."

They both turn toward the abyss, and I sit back beside the same small rock formation as last time and open up my item storage to take out piles of mana crystals and the Isolation pods to begin running a few more tests.

"That was easier than I thought it'd be. Now... back to these pods."

I start up right where I left off, staring down at the [Current Dilation: 1.2040x] reading that glows above the control panel.

After roughly another 100k MP worth of crystals, the number ticks up again showing [Current Dilation: 1.2041x].

I continue feeding the machine more and more crystals, after an additional 1 Million MP, the reading shows [Current Dilation: 1.2051x], further proving that my hypothesis that it would take nearly 1 Billion MP to make it up to a 2x dilation.

Seeing that in all the hours I farmed in the labyrinth, I only came back with a few million MP, I begin to rack my brain for more ideas.

Although an average rate of 1 million MP farmed per hour is enough to sustain the economy of a small country, it still isn't enough to fund my science experiments here, so I'm going to have to think outside the box.

There must have been some other way that the old Sector 2 Leader charged these machines up with so much MP.

I sift through my inventory and find crates of over a hundred C-Grade MP potions that I took from the warehouse earlier today and feed them into the machine to see the rating rise again to [Current Dilation: 1.2054x] and realize even magic items can be put into this machine as fuel too.

I dump junk gear from my farming that I'll never use or sell like swords and axes from D to C grade monsters until I see the number tick up again [Current Dilation: 1.2055x].

Then, I sift through a portion of my storage where many element stones from my time in the labyrinth sit. There's a few ice stones from the Elite Yeti floor, two earth stones that dropped from the giant worms on the 38th, a handful of unique stones from the Wyvern Boss on the 30th. Then lastly, the 9 black fire stones from the 39th floor mutants sit untouched, waiting to be unleashed.

Beside all of these is the corpse of the massive lightning wolf in suspended animation inside my item storage. I'm curious what kind of items it will drop, but am unsure if taking its body from the Boss Room will trigger any unique reactions. So, I'm holding off on letting its body fully dissolve until I can get back to the Labyrinth and see the current state of the 40th floor.

I make the decision to play things safe and use one of the less rare stones first, feeding an ice element stone into the machine.

It disappears the moment I take it out and press the [Input Mana] feature, but the dilation does not increase.

Confused at this reaction, I try a few more of these lower powered Element stones, and it takes over half a dozen more to trigger the counter to rise [Current Dilation: 1.2056x].

"They are just element stones after all..."

This machine doesn't care how rare or powerful an item is, it only cares about how much mana it possesses.

I let out a sigh, but then remember the time I crafted a cursed overcharged wind element stone to drain all of the available mana from a dungeon.

"Maybe something like that could work..."

I look up from my tests and see Ember and Arie about 20 meters away getting along nicely.

The streaks of Demonic Energy are flying out from Arie's double's palms much faster, and the energy is far more condensed and deadly than before.

I put the isolation pod away into my storage and walk over to them.

"Ember, I'm going to need some assistance from you to run another test."

I expand my All-Seeing Eye's range to do a quick deep scan of the desert and pinpoint a weak rogue dungeon far in the distance, about 50km away from where we currently stand.

Then, I point in its general direction.

"This will only take a moment, we'll know if it works or not pretty quickly."