Titus didn’t wait for the Legionaries to answer and immediately started calling names, lining everyone up before him in name order. The young soldiers were so accustomed to following his orders that doing as he said was almost instinctual.
In the dim light the commander looked as impressive as always. His solid frame and clear eyes were reassuring to everyone in the Legion, even if they didn’t know how to feel about it at the time.
Once everyone was lined up appropriately Titus raised his voice to address them.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Legion!” he smiled at them warmly, a rare sight indeed, “welcome! You have endured the pain and come through the other side. It is time to add the finishing touches to your induction as full Legionaries”.
He turned and gestured to the armoured suits that lined the walls. “What see here is more Legionary tech developed thousands of years ago during the Rending. Magical theory was highly advanced at that time and in their desperation the creators of the Legion experimented with hundreds of different ways to increase their strength to defeat the monsters and preserve the light of civilisation. The Baptism you endured is one such technique, these suits of armour are another”.
He walked towards the nearest suit and knocked against the melded steel and stone plate. A hard clang rang out, ringing in the air. The armour was massive and bulky, impossibly so. Even Titus, as powerful and broad as he was, looked like he would struggle to move when weighed down by the sheer mass of the suit.
Donnelan in particular was confused. He was a mage, used to wearing only light leather armour. Anything heavier would reduce his mobility to the point where it would be difficult for him to impact the battlefield where and when he was needed. The Legion didn’t subscribe to the ‘soft’ mage approach of cloth armour and little combat training. Some forces preferred to have their mages spend all of their time in study. The Legion took a different approach and Donnelan had been forced to endure harsh physical training, maintain his own leather armour and equipment as well as learning how to defend himself with his staff or even bare hands.
But surely they wouldn’t expect him to clunk around like a turtle inside one of these things?!
“This is Abyssal Armour” announced Titus, a touch of reverence coming through in his tone, “Even now we struggle to reproduce the incredible level of craftsmanship that was achieved during the Cataclysm but these suits have been made right here in Raileh”.
There was unmistakable pride at that announcement. Was this Abyssal armour really that special? The former trainees stared hard at the oversized suits and struggled to see the value in them.
Watching them, Titus could only shake his head. It was hard to understand just what the Abyssal Armour could do until you’d experienced it for yourself. He didn’t blame them too much for looking down it.
“Before you can test out the suits we have a little item on the agenda that needs to be taken care of first. Class change!”
Mirryn went wide eyed at this. Class change? Now?!
“Every single one of you has met the requirements for your class, we aren’t stupid” Titus laughed, “I’ll ask you to step forward one at a time and we will enact the change. I’ll be the trainer for all of you”.
He gestured for the first person to step forward and soon after the soft glow of the class change radiated from that persons frame. Titus pointed to one of the suits and the first person moved to stand beside it before Titus gestured to the next.
It was soon Donnelan’s turn and he stepped forward nervously.
“Don’t be shy lad, it’s fine” Titus smiled at him.
Donnelan eyed the commander. It was rare to see the grizzled veteran in such a good mood. “I’m not done with current class though Commander” he said, “is it really proper for me to change right now?”
Titus nodded. “You’ll understand in a moment. Step forward”.
Donnelan took the final few steps to close the distance to his commander and Titus raised a hand to place it on his shoulder. As soon as he did so Donnelan received a system prompt within his mind.
Donnelan was stunned for a brief moment. The Abyssal Legion was actually a class within the system itself?! This was almost unheard of…. The cases where the system actually changed to recognise organisations that existed in the world were so few you could count them on the fingers of one hand.
Yes! Donnelan hastily confirmed his choice. To inherit such a rare and unique class, who wouldn’t be willing?
The familiar trickling sensation washed over his mind as the system imparted new knowledge and skills to him along with his new class and Titus directed him to stand next to a suit of Abyssal Armour towards the back on the left side.
Still somewhat shocked, Donnellan stumbled over to his designated armour. As he approached it he could see it was built lighter and more slim than the other designs, clearly more mobile and manoeuvrable that the more bulky versions. Judging by the size of it though there was still no way he could possibly move whilst wearing it.
Or… could he?
Donnelan quickly flipped open his status and took a look at his new skills. Sure enough, Abyssal Armour operation level 1 was there. As time passed and more of the new Legionaries undertook the class change, Donnelan was able to absorb more of the knowledge being fed into his mind until he reached the point where he was able to understand the suit next to him to some extent.
Even what little he didn understand was enough to shock him. This wasn’t armour! This was a priceless masterpiece! The enchantments, the crystal filament wires, the incredible alloys that made up the plates, all of it was insane!
When every trainee had changed their class and taken their place next to a suit the commander instructed them to suit up.
With the newly imprinted knowledge fresh in the minds they were still hesitant to follow the instructions within their head. It just didn’t seem real. Donnelan decided to just go for it and stepped in front of his suit. Raising one hand he placed it on the chest plate of his Abyssal armour and waited.
Perhaps he could feel it?
According to the knowledge he now possessed the suit was powered by mana, not by his own physical frame. Without excessive use of incredibly dense monster cores, moving something like these suits of armour would be nigh impossible but the suits didn’t use cores at all. Instead they drew on the mana infused within the bodies of the Legionary wearing it!
Something like this could never be done by someone that hadn’t undergone the Baptism. The Legionaries’ very flesh was infused with mana and they absorbed it from the Dungeon at an accelerated rate. Thanks to the incredible magical engineering within the suits they were able to supply enough power to move it themselves.
Gradually Donnelan became more aware of the flow of mana from his body into the suit. As time passed the flow increased and the thousands of tiny enchantments carved into the ornate surface of the armour began to glow with the light of mana. The light spread throughout the suit, starting at the breast plate he had his hand on and then flowing throughout the suit until the entire thing was powered.
Gradually the armour began to float, piece by piece, onto his body, the various plates clicking into place around his arms, chest, neck and then legs. He had to lift his feet to allow the oversize boots to snap together around his ankles. Once the helmet had settled into place and locked onto the pauldrons it was done.
The feeling was strange, almost like being locked in a tomb but at the same time the armour felt like a second skin, as if it were connected to his body and mind. It moved so fluidly and naturally. It just didn’t seem real.
“Get yourselves accustomed to the feeling Legionaries” Titus said, “we are going to be training in these suits for next few weeks until you advance your skills to the third tier. This is how we fight down here. Welcome to the World Below”.