Until that moment, Solus had managed to make Lith take a break only for lunch. She had been pleasantly surprised to be able to keep her human form for so long even outside the tower, yet she was worried sick about Lith’s mental condition.
The longer he remained alone, having only work and research as his companions, the closer he got to his old, single-minded self. She was the only tether he had with sanity, and since they had started to give each other more space due to her being more a woman than just a voice, the chain had got loose.
“I can go on a little longer.” Lith replied. Despite the mild climate of the region, his hybrid body was steaming. The air in his proximity was heated to the point of distorting Solus’s vision.
“No, you can’t! You’ve not reverted to your human form even since you started practicing, not even for eating. Stop this immediately.” Solus hugged him from behind, whimpering when her skin touched his scales.
The heat they emitted was so strong that the contact would have filled her arms with blisters if she was fully human.
The stinging pain hit Solus hard and their mind link made Lith feel it as it was his own, making him realize that he had truly gone too far.
“Dammit. This stupid body has no organs, so it doesn’t feel pain until it gets heavily damaged. Get off me, Solus, your dress is burning!” Lith wanted to push her away, but his hands were as hot as the rest of his body.
Also, if she offered any resistance, he might have made things even worse.
“I have plenty of dresses inside the tower.” She replied refusing to let go.
“Before I release you, you must promise me two things. First, no more practice until tomorrow. We don’t know what we will face and I don’t want to risk losing you because you’re exhausted before the mission even started.”
“I don’t care what your terms are, I promise!” Lith couldn’t believe that he was putting one of the people he loved the most through so much pain just because of his stubbornness.
“Second, no matter what, don’t turn around until I say so.” Only after saying that last part did Solus let him go and run stark naked inside the tower to change. She could have created a dress out of her own energy or taken one out of her pocket dimension, but that would have been too fast.
She didn’t want Lith to notice how bad her burns were nor that the more her energy body lost its glow, the more it gained other features. She had tried to turn into her wisp form, but the attempt had made the pain from her wounds become worse.
‘Why does this kind of stuff always happen at the worst possible moment?’ Solus thought, her golden skin was reddened by the scorching heat it had endured and purple from embarrassment.
‘Until a few days ago I looked like a doll-shaped glowing stick and now this? If Master Menadion wasn’t already dead, I would kill her for not leaving behind an instruction manual about this ridiculous condition of mine!’
By the time Solus returned, her appearance was back to normal. The mana geyser boosted all of her abilities and being inside the tower provided Solus with unlimited power. She didn’t need to cast a single spell to recover.
The world energy flowing through her body relieved the pain and allowed her to make a full recovery even before she reached her room.
Solus was now wearing a sleeveless knee-length white dress. Her golden hair floated in the air as if she was swimming under the sea rather than flying.
“Okay, now you can turn around.” She said.
Lith was still in his hybrid form, partly because he was too worried for Solus to care about himself and partly because he had no idea how his human body would have reacted to such heat in the case it was retained after the transformation.
After a few seconds of pure terror about Solus’s condition, he had regained his cool, both literally and metaphorically, enough to noticed that his scales were able to move by themselves. Their tips would rise and lower rhythmically as if they were breathing.
It made Lith’s scale armor looser, almost exposing the burning red skin underneath, but at the same time, the scales were sucking the heat back inside his body. The process seemed to lower Lith’s external temperature and allowed him to recover part of the life force spent.
‘Could it be that the heat is still part of my essence, even after getting mixed with the world energy? Then maybe…’ His train of thoughts was derailed by Solus’s voice. Lith turned around and tried to hug her and make sure she was alright.
“I’m so sorry Solus. If only I listened to you, I wouldn’t have gotten you hurt…”
“Back off, buster! I don’t want to be barbequed again nor lose another dress. You must literally chill.” She said while extending her arms with her palms open in front of his face to keep him away.
Lith froze in place at those words. Solus then placed a finger on his forehead.
“Still too hot to handle.” She chuckled while quickly pulling it away.
“Do you think a bath could help?”
“No clue.” She shrugged. “We have no idea how a Wyrmling’s body reacts to thermal shock. I’d say it’s better if we take no risks. Sit down and rest. We can discuss Xedros’s teachings while we wait.”
A wave of her hand made two stone chairs appear from the ground.
“We should restore the landscape before leaving, otherwise someone might discover our secret spot.” Solus pointed at the area that was now devoid of small rocks and at the glazed ground where the Origin Flames had struck every time Lith had failed to control them.
Lith nodded while cursing at the unpredicted annoyance.
“Judging from my constant failures, I can tell you that the opportunity window to imprint the flames with my will is quite small. At this point, I think that purifying is strictly related to the target-ignoring ability Xedros described.
“To make the Flames seep inside a metal, I must become able to make the Origin Flames ignore it for a split second. An even more crucial step is learning how to produce only a controlled amount of fire.
“Otherwise even in the case I succeed at making the Flames affect the entirety of the metal at once, the excess energy would consume everything as it happened here.” Lith pointed at their surroundings that looked like a volcanic eruption had recently happened.
“Xedros really is a jerk.” Solus used Fire Vision to constantly check Lith’s temperature from a safe distance. Much to her surprise, over time his inner body was getting hotter whereas his scales were getting colder.
“Unlike Faluel, he spoke in the most obscure possible way while keeping things apparently simple, so that you would need a lot of hints to understand even the basics. If not for his greed, you wouldn’t have wasted a day just to learn the proper training phases to control Origin Flames.
“First comes quantity, then quality, and only then comes phasing through solid matter.”
“Come again? Quality?” Lith said.
“Yes. I’ve sorted through your memories and look at what I’ve found.” Solus used their mind link to show him how while the flames Xedros had used to destroy the steel ingot were purple just his still recovering core, those he had employed on the Orichalcum ingot were of a much brighter purple color.