Harry Potter - Gamer Neighbour
Summary: The new neighbour over the street at Privet Drive number five seems pretty normal, but not Privet Drive normal. But is anyone with the power of the gamer ever even remotely normal? No fucking way.
Disclaimer: I do own some shit, but not any recognizable characters, places or settings in this particular fanfiction.
AN: Heh, all the way back when writing my original outline, before I had even written one line of chapter 1, I strongly suspected that there would be some fairly upset readers when I started dropping hints about getting rid of The Game System this far into the story. Some reactions didn't disappoint. Pure gold.
Almost a shame that it is staying, which this chapter should make decently clear.
When this chapter became a bit longer than I had expected, I thought about letting it up into the air until next chapter and having Nick's final solo scene in that. But that chapter is probably best spent focusing on the fallout and reactions caused by a certain interview long-hinted at finally becoming public knowledge in the Wizarding World. So rejoice, I had the option of leaving you on a cliff-hanger about the Game System for even longer and didn't take it. Instead, you get 76 KB's of text to slog your way through instead of the usual 50-60 KB's.
"I feel like crap. Even my toes hurt for crying out loud, you sadistic bastard. But man, I do love your hands." Lily uttered in a low dead-pan voice, then let out a long groan.
"Yikes, bipolar much?" Nick commented with a wry grin as he sat cross-legged on the couch facing Lily's back, his hands working on her neck and shoulders over her oversized black t-shirt. "And let me remind you that it was your idea to overwork yourself so much, Wondergirl." he chuckled. It was hard to care about the occasional bit of animosity when he strongly suspected that he wasn't the true target of her anger.
Besides, living in Australia and Sweden for an extended amount of time had pretty much rendered him immune to minor insults. 'Oi, Cunt!' was pretty much the Aussie way of saying 'Good day, my very good friend!' and 'See ya, asshole!' in parts of Sweden pretty much meant 'I had a very fun time and will see you soon again, bestie!'. So being called a 'sadistic bastard' felt more like a term of endearment rather than an insult.
Nick himself wasn't overly prone to do that sort of thing himself, but he usually referred to the people around him by some sort of teasing nickname rather then their actual names.
"Shut up and keep rubbing that spot." she responded and closed her eyes after catching Violet's envious gaze. The massage felt way too good for her to want to spoil it by letting reality and her daughter intrude on the relief it gave her aching body.
She could kind of, sort of, nearly, just barely, somewhat understand why Violet had given her such an evil eye whenever Lily had tried to get her to have her treatments from someone else. Even now, when Nick was merely rubbing her shoulders and neck over her clothes, it felt pretty darn great and was a great relief from the pain and stiffness she'd gotten to experience shortly after stopping her workout.
"I don't care that the burns are gone now. You're doing me right after you're done with my mom." Violet grumpily interjected as she tried to write a reply to Ron's letter without getting constantly distracted by Nick giving Lily a shoulder rub.
It was... A work in progress.
Not only did feelings of envy get in the way, but she also found herself struggling to explain the events of the last couple of days and unsure about how much to reveal in a letter, which probably made her more easily distracted then she otherwise might be. That Lily was back from the dead wasn't really something she wanted to go over in writing, that she was extremely drawn towards the older guy she now lived with also felt like something better handled in a face-to-face meeting and yet, those two things were the most important things that had happened in her life this summer.
Well, finding out that she had a freaking piece of Voldemort stuck in her head before it was tossed out like yesterdays trash probably counted as a third, but that was yet another thing that wasn't really suitable to reveal in a stupid letter that likely would be received in the midst of the Weasley breakfast chaos, with curious eyes all around.
After a bit of thinking and talking it over with Lily earlier, she had decided to accept the Weasleys offer to join them for the Quidditch World Cup Finals. She'd tried to get Nick's opinion as well, but he'd mostly deferred to Lily, seemingly reluctant to get involved and leaving the lions share of the opinion-giving to Lily. Unlike that time when Hermione and her mom had been by for tea, he made zero attempts to act the responsible adult figure now when Lily, one of her actual parents, was around to act in that capacity.
He had explained that he had business at the World Cup as well and would be in the general area even if he would give the actual match a miss, also offering the Weasleys a Wizarding tent for the event in his secure upscale camp ground. Lily had liked the sound of that and approved Nicks offer, finding it much more acceptable then having her daughter stay in some chaotic field only loosely supervised.
"I'm proud of you, Vi. That statement taken out of context sounds incredibly dirty, naughty and degenerate, almost like something I could have uttered myself. I approve!" Sirius exclaimed from over by the reading corner, where he was once again ogling his way through one of Nick's dirty-but-not-actual-dirty books. "Well, not the 'my mom' part. I'd rather not be associated with my mother in any way, shape or form." he slightly amended.
Violet blinked and glanced over at Sirius, then mentally rewound the last thing she had uttered and blushed as she realized how it had likely sounded.
"Shut up, you reprehensible deviant. I didn't mean it like that and you know it!" she snapped and shook her head, trying to rid herself of the mental imagery conjured up by realizing just what she had said. She clenched her teeth together for a few moments as she surprisingly found that mental imagery unexpectedly hard to shake off and weirdly appealing.
What the fuck was wrong with her? Was Sirius unrelenting deviancy contagious in some manner?
Not only had she recently discovered that she apparently had a little anal fixation she'd never known about before, but she also found herself increasingly drawn to Tonks and even more disturbingly, Lily.
Not only had she caved and done some shameful backside exploring in the shower while masturbating after yesterday s massage, which had caused her to experience an unexpectedly powerful and surprisingly sudden climax. Having Nick rummaging around back there and finding it unexpectedly pleasant had apparently awakened something in her, once she had managed to overlook how weird it had felt at first and how utterly mortifying it had felt to have someone else touch her bloody bum. She had just barely managed to bite down and muffle a loud shout of pleasure when her climax washed over her yesterday and even now, she felt equal parts of shame and excitement about it.
But even more embarrassingly, she'd kissed both Tonks and Lily this morning after discovering that she'd grown overnight.
She had first lazed about a bit in bed after waking up, then recalled the Potion she had taken before going to bed, then shot up out of bed like a bat out of hell to measure herself.
Upon discovering that she had reached a glorious 151 centimetres in height after a whole fucking year of zero growth, she'd let out multiple loud joyful cries, danced around and proceeded to both pinch and re-measure herself repeatedly to make sure she wasn't hallucinating.
Once she was sure beyond doubt that it was real, she had rushed off to find Nick to express her gratitude, but found the guy in question missing from his bed. Instead, she had found a frazzled and dazed Tonks in there, which she hadn't really questioned at the time, though it now struck her that it was a tad off that Tonks had been in his bed.
More then a tad off, come to think of it.
She glared suspiciously at Nick for a few moments, but shook her head and decided to ask about it later. Possibly with her wand in one hand and some blunt object in the other, just in case there was a need to really drive home the point that he was hers!
With Nick missing, she'd merely shrugged and given Tonks a joyful enthusiastic smooch, then rushed off in search of Nick. Not finding him right away, she had returned to her room to remeasure herself once again. After once again confirming her growth, she had leapt back onto her bed and given Lily a smooch as well.
Okay, she was aware of the fact that she could be a tad... Impulsive.
It wasn't like there hadn't been repeated harping about her 'act first, act second and think third, but feel free to skip thinking entirely if things seem alright' way of approaching things from multiple people in her life.
But hell knew where those two kisses had come from.
It wasn't like she'd ever made a habit of kissing other girls. There had been a few practise kisses, but while nice in a way those had felt a tad weird none the less and it wasn't as if it was something she had ever really been tempted to repeat for pleasure rather then practise.
But for some reason, for some odd weird reason, she'd found herself distracted and oddly appreciative by the memories multiple times over the course of the day when recalling either kiss. It was weird enough to suddenly recall her kiss with Tonks with fondness and a faint desire for a repeat performance, but she had been seriously freaked out when the same thing first happened when recalling the kiss with her mom!
Much to her confused horror and pleasure, the same thing happened several times over the course of the day and whenever she tried to analyse her feelings to get her deviancy under control, she'd just felt herself growing more and more hot under the collar the more she tried to think about it and reason with herself. Eventually she had to stop trying or she might have been forced to sneak off to the bathroom to get some relief, but the occasional oddly appealing flashbacks still haunted her from time to time.
She suspiciously looked up at Sirius, once again considering the likelihood of him somehow infecting her with his deviancy. Lily had provided plenty more stories of his pre-imprisonment days and skirt-chasing ways then she'd already been made aware of from both Sirius himself and Remus offering a few anecdotes.
It seemed unlikely that being a pervert was somehow contagious, but magic seemed to make the impossible possible on a regular basis, so she truly and utterly hoped that there was some external thing to blame for the fact that she now apparently was a bi-curious incestuous anal pervert.
She shook her head and returned her attention to the letter, then blushed and promptly tore it up after spotting that she'd actually written 'I am a bi-curious incestuous anal pervert' in it. She wasn t that desperate for things to write and once again, that wasn t really something best revealed in a letter, if at all!
She reached for another parchment and grit her teeth, deciding to just write and try to ignore her surroundings until she'd managed to finish it.
Nick took deep breaths and just let his mind drift for a few moments, steeling himself somewhat.
He tried to keep his thoughts away from the fact that he'd seen Sirius stuff one of the bondage books under his t-shirt and then head for the bathroom, declaring that he needed a shower. He instantly decided that the book needed burning or gifting to Sirius to keep, because there was no fucking way that book ever made its way back into his bookshelf again after what the old dog was probably using it for right now.
Gifting probably was the more appropriate route to take. He'd never be able to live with himself if he'd deliberately burned a book. But yeah, that book wasn't going back into the bookshelf again for any reason whatsoever.
Tonks had returned home to freshen up after her earlier dip in the pool and then enjoy the rest of her time off away from here, where there was a risk that she might somehow be conned into doing something else far too work-like for her taste.
Nick had suggested that Sirius might want to get Dobby involved in his clean-up efforts and the old dog had seen the appeal in having an actual helpful house elf around, but it seemed that growing up around the bat-shit crazy Black elf had left him somewhat apprehensive about elves in general, so as far as he knew, Sirius had yet to speak with Violet and Dobby about that.
Lily had retreated to his laboratory. She claimed that she wanted to brew some hygiene potions for herself and Violet, but he'd seen how she'd gotten some books out when he showed her around and where everything was up there. Two of those books didn't contain much in the way of such potions, but they did provide a plethora of recipes for antidotes, tests for various substances and a whole slew of ways to determine if someone had been mentally or physically compromised. She likely wanted to run some tests on herself without him being present.
That could have been incredibly concerning, if he'd done something those tests could reveal. He'd been inside her mind when he helped her body relearn how to move, but other then doing that and a bit of brief light surface snooping, he hadn't done anything worse even if he had a golden opportunity to do so back then. At the time, he'd still been content to take his time and let things simmer away on a slow boil instead of rushing to complete her part of the Sub Quest, so he hadn't bothered using his mental skills to do anything of note or dig up her deepest darkest secrets. Thus her mind was just fine, nothing sinister to discover there.
Higher than normal levels of Dopamine and Oxytocin in her system wouldn't be noticed by any tests devised by magicals and even if she knew of some way of testing for that from previous experiences, both substances were naturally produced and released in the human body when certain conditions were met.
Get preggers, push out your newborn and boom, body releases a lot of Oxytocin to promote a strong bond with the newborn.
Do something enjoyable and boom, the body releases some Dopamine to make sure you really enjoy doing that and would want a repeat experience.
Fall in love and boom, your body makes sure you enjoy a little cocktail of both.
Even if she did detect high levels of them somehow, well, based on her occasional flushing and somewhat flustered expressions, she likely had a few stray pleasant thoughts from time to time which would explain that.
It might not necessarily be thoughts that she wanted to be pleasant, but unless she started spending most of her time in a directed Occulmentic trance and pretty much forced her thoughts to stay on track instead of going off on tangents, thoughts about her kiss with Violet or something else that caused a reaction could happen at any time and her body would ensure that she found them appealing.
So, her running some tests on herself or even Violet was just fine with him. The Aphrodisiac was made from dungeon drops and what few tests he'd run on that and other dungeon-specific recipes had so far failed to register on any tests he'd run on them, so Violet should register as clean too.
At worst, Lily would probably just believe they were both falling in love/lust, something that probably would make the Rune Matrix kick off again giving her a bit of pleasant tingle, which would make her feel guilty, make her angry with herself and then try to take that anger out on him.
He was fine with that scenario. If she kept on using him as an outlet for her own anger/guilt issues, he'd have her guilt about that on his side when she stopped using him as an outlet. A girl feeling guilty about how she had treated you unfairly, was a girl who'd be willing to go pretty far in order to earn forgiveness.
Besides, it wasn't as if he hadn't done shit that she should be angry at him for, so he shrugged off whatever little digs or suspicions she directed his way whenever he actually took note of them at all.
Violet was seated next to him on the couch in the reading corner, reading the Occlumency book he'd given her and experimenting with what she was learning from it. Occasionally, she'd pick up her phone after it beeped to announce a new message and then slowly tap away on it as she responded to whatever Hermione had texted her. She was getting better at using the device, but her typing was atrociously slow. He'd seen girls her age type like lightening on those things, but Violet had yet to achieve that level of competence with it.
Everything was peaceful and there were no immediate concerns that needed dealing with for a while, so Nick had declared that he'd do some meditating to refresh his Occlumency shields and sort through recent memories. Nothing wrong with that, it was occasionally needed for those that maintained Occlumency shields, so all three of his housemates had accepted his explanation and even Violet wasn't trying to talk to him in spite of being seated right by his side.
What he'd failed to mention to either of them, was that thanks to his Mind Arts expertise, he actually did that sort of thing more or less subconsciously over the course of every day. He didn't need to spend an hour or two in deep meditation, he could just do that in short bursts while cooking, reading or doing something else that didn't require his full attention.
That meant he likely had some of the most pristine well-maintained Occlumency Shields in existence at this point as he did his mental maintenance multiple times over the course of every day ever since he'd reached a level of competence in the Mind Arts that allowed him to do so.
What he actually did now when he'd gotten a period of some peace and quiet for himself, was delve deep into himself, his own mind, his magic and his own soul. His perception of the outside world completely faded away, as he delved deep into his own core.
He had observed himself before. He'd learned Occlumency before his Awakening, so his own mind was pretty familiar to him and he'd only gotten better with Mind Arts after his Awakening. His Soul Magic knowledge had been pretty rudimentary pre-Awakening since good information about that was both rare and expensive, but he was now a deft hand at it although not quite a master. His Mage Sight was sharper then ever these days.
All in all, he doubted there was anyone else on the planet more suitable for what he was doing now then himself. Being a Master of Mind Arts to such a degree as he now was, just didn't happen all that often not just in his own time, but throughout history. To have a deep knowledge of Soul Magic at the same time, was likely unheard of. To also have Mage Sight as advanced as his was? It was like randomly buying ten scratch tickets and winning top prizes on all ten. The probability of something like that occurring was incredibly miniscule, almost ridiculous.
In spite of that, it took him what felt like forever to discover any trace at all of his little intruder, but he finally found something which didn't belong and which couldn't be anything other then the game shit thingy or The Gamer System as it seemed to refer to itself as.
He was immensely grateful that he'd decided to give this a miss yesterday, he'd briefly considered doing it before falling asleep, but he wasn't sure that witnessing what he now witnessed drunk and over caffeinated would have led to anything good. It sure felt like something where full sobriety and calmness was necessary.
If he had to describe himself, his own core comprised out of his Magic, Mind and Soul, he'd say it appeared like a cracked two-coloured ball with an uneven surface. It was almost planet-like in appearance, with mountains and deep valleys, deep chasms running through it at places giving it that cracked appearance. The yellowish atmosphere around that planet-like thing, was his Magic, coating his Soul and Mind as it hovered over and around them.
Of course, it was more of an impression then how it actually looked. It wasn't like he could 'see', his eyes were closed and all of this was inside his own mind. But as he focused inwards, his mind none the less created a sort of mental imagery of what he could sense.
That impression was pretty much as it had always been, the 'planet' was a bit bigger now then when he'd first learned Occlumency and the 'atmosphere' was thicker, but it was a familiar 'sight' none the less.
What had changed after his awakening, was the dual colour scheme. It had originally been a light brown colour, giving it a desert-like appearance. After he awakened earlier this year, a little over half of the planet had turned bright blue. He had looked into it a few times over the course of the summer and the blue was slowly spreading and it had done so even further since the last time he checked himself. At the moment, he estimated that it was perhaps 80 % blue and merely 20% brown.
His 'new' self, his Awakened self, had almost entirely taken over by this point. He had a few theories, but no way to actually confirm them. But he suspected that this was why all his memories from before his awakening felt so 'weak', 'unreal' and just barely connected to him at all.
Whatever new addition had entered the equation and was slowly becoming his new self, likely had other memories and possibly friends and family then the body he now resided in and who's Soul seemed to be gradually disappearing. The fact that his old self, or rather the old self of his body, was slowly being reduced to nothing or at least being overwritten by his new self was something he oddly felt pretty unconcerned about.
The memories that felt more real than others, were likely the ones they had in common. His 'old' self had known Tonks, he had recovered plenty of memories of the two of them spending time together from before his Awakening. But even right after meeting her for the first time after his Awakening, he'd felt a much deeper connection to her then just about anyone else.
He suspected that his 'new' self, the added element to his Mind and Soul, had also known Tonks. He had no memories of that though, all he had was the memories of this body from before his Awakening and the new ones that had been created after he Awakened. But none the less, both pre and post Awakening memories of Tonks felt stronger, more connected to him, then most others did.
He suspected that he was correct about that, but with no way to actually confirm his theory either way, there wasn't much he could do about it at the moment, so he moved on.
What he eventually discovered that was an entirely new addition, was what felt like a thin tube of faintly reddish gas which entered the atmosphere and went down into one of the deep chasms in the planet itself. From that gaseous tube, thin tendrils spread out into both the atmosphere and the planet. He could see other tendrils trying to extend outwards from his planet-like self, but they seemed to be struggling and many just fell apart shortly after leaving his atmosphere. There were some which seemed more stable as they shot off into the distance, but even those gave off a certain sense of not being entirely stable and ready to fall apart at any second.
How the fuck had he managed to miss that the other times he had checked his core since his Awakening?
Tunnel vision again? He knew darn well that he had a bit of a problem with that, focusing so completely on one thing that he tended to miss others. Perhaps a bit of narcissism and egocentricity which had caused him to focus more on his own core then the nothingness that had surrounded it in the past? Had it been less visible before, only turning more evident as The Game System recovered somewhat? Had the Game System been able to hide somehow, but had now ceased doing that?
Whatever the reason, he'd certainly not noticed it before.
He observed what was happening for what felt like a pretty long time and eventually managed to make out that those tendrils weren't the only things moving out. Inside the bigger thin tube of gas entering his atmosphere, was a ridiculously thin vein of gas moving outwards, carrying tiny particles of brown, yellow and blue with it away. Some seemed to evaporate in the process and vanish into the gas, but most were carried off into the distance.
So, it seemed he had been right. That fucking soul infestation was somehow leeching something away from him. He focused harder and tried to make out what was taken, but only got faint impressions that could be mostly described as having the flavour of 'Nick Jones'. It was taking something of his, but he couldn't tell exactly what. Emotions? Memories? Mana? Soul fragments? Life span? He couldn't tell.
What he could tell, was that it was a miniscule amount. It was like taking kernels of sand away from an entire planet in a steady stream of singular kernels instead of just loading entire containers full and ship in bulk. At the current rate, it'd probably take well over a century or two for it to leech away all of him.
A big fucking concern, but not an immediate one. He would be dead or close to kicking the bucket long before that happened, unless the rate somehow increased. However, this was the first time he'd discovered this phenomenon and had no clue if the rate remained constant, had been slower/faster before or somehow fluctuated over time.
He was tempted to immediately somehow try and use The Game System for something while he was observing what was happening, to see if anything changed. But he managed to hold off on immediately doing something, in favour of more observations before trying to experiment with what he'd just found.
Yeah, it was probably a good thing that he wasn't drunk, jittery and prone to impulsive actions while he was doing this.
But none the less, that fucking parasite of a Game System was stealing something from him, taking some of his Magic, Mind and Soul for itself.
He investigated the gaseous connection to the best of his ability and did not like at all what he was sensing.
He did like to harp on about how Wizards and Witches were batshit crazy with zero common sense and no logic at all. He did hate restricting or destroying knowledge, but could reluctantly admit that some knowledge truly was too dangerous to be freely available to all and sundry.
But even logicless insane Wizards had enough reasoning ability to understand that messing with the demonic was inadvisable and centuries upon centuries worth of effort by almost the entire Magical World to destroy and supress the lions share of information about that had been mostly successful.
Demons were mostly mentioned in passing in some older history texts or in cautionary terms in Wizarding fairy tales. You couldn't just walk into a bookstore or library and find a section on Demons, then start reading up about them.
There had once been a whole branch of magic, Demonology, focused on communication with, summoning forth, binding to your will and exorcizing Demons back to whence they came from.
As far as Nick had known until just recently, that whole branch of magic had been pretty much erased from existence almost two millennia ago. History books were a bit unclear and usually lacking any real meaty information, but as far as he knew, there hadn't been a true master of Demonology since somewhere around the third or fourth century.
It was said that the ICW still had some tomes and texts about exorcizing Demons and a small handful of carefully monitored Witches and Wizards who studied those in case of a Demon actually being summoned into the world. The ICW had never confirmed that as far as he knew, so it could just be rumours.
But it made sense to at least keep the knowledge of how to get rid of Demons around, in case it was ever needed.
He was certainly no expert on the subject of the Demonic, as there just wasn't much knowledge available around about it other then myths, legends and crackpot theories from occasionally nutters who didn't care that the ICW tended to crack down pretty hard on anyone who did any sort of legitimate research into Demons.
In fact, the lions share of what he knew about it other then rumours or myth, he'd learned when Lily had explained the Protections to him.
Fuck, but she was one scary reckless lady!
Voldemort truly fucked up when he angered her and made her truly desperate to find some way to protect her daughter. It was also somewhat of a relief that Lily had enough faith in him to confess her demonic dealings with almost zero hesitation. The fact that she was willing to admit to doing such a thing, made him more certain then ever that his theory on why she lashed out at him from time to time was correct.
If she had been genuinely angry at him rather then herself, she'd be pretty unlikely to confess such things to him and would probably have just stonewalled him no matter how much he insisted that she tell him.
But in spite of his lack of true knowledge about Demons, he didn't doubt for a single second that what he was sensing was somehow demonic, at least in part. There were also other influences which he couldn't make sense out of, but the strongest impressions he got was of atrophy, corruption, decay and defilement.
He had taken a look at the Protections with his Mage Sight after Lily had explained them and had found weak traces of those very same things in those Protections, faintly and barely noticeable, which was why he'd never seen it before. But once he knew what should be there, he'd eventually been able to find it.
The demonic contract which was partially responsible for the Protections around Violet, had an extremely similar impression to what he was feeling now. That was fainter and yet somehow more purely demonic? He wasn't quite sure how to describe it, but the Protections felt like it lacked some components which were present in The Game System in addition to the demonic one.
He more then ever wished that his awakening had come with memories. Just what sort of shit had happened before he was shoved into this body that enabled this connection to something demonic?
He reached out and 'grasped' the gaseous connection, pushing a little bit of his own magic into it. It felt...
Brittle. Weak. Faint. Unstable.
Using his connection to it, he cautiously tried to follow it back towards where it came from. But the moment he sensed that it seemed to just disappear into what he could only describe felt like a wormhole, he stopped. He could sense part of what laid behind that wormhole.
If the Gamer System could accomplish what it did with the current weak connection, just what the hell could it do if it had steady access to what he could sense behind that wormhole?
He was a decently powerful Wizard, certainly not one of the worlds true powerhouses, but he was well above average. But what he could feel beyond that wormhole was staggering. All of Wizarding Britain couldn't measure up to that. He doubted even every single Witch and Wizard in the world combined could measure up to even a small part of it.
Truly powerful magics could at times unintentionally warp local reality just by being used. If someone like Violet who was one of just mentioned true powerhouses really pushed herself and drew upon her full power, she might be able to unintentionally cause drastic changes in the area around her. Certainly not over a huge area, but her immediate vicinity could turn drastically different if she truly let loose.
What was beyond that wormhole...
World-wide? The entire solar system? Further out then that? Was there actually enough magic beyond that wormhole to warp reality throughout the entire fucking universe?
The sheer amount of power made it hard to sense anything else, but he did get a faint impression of vast numbers of intelligences of sort and something massive and overwhelming which he just failed to truly define at all.
The gaseous tube which he assumed was The Game System itself also had a sort of intelligence, though he struggled to classify it as a Mind as he knew them. He sensed no true Soul in the same way he might have from another human either in The Game System or from beyond the wormhole. But his whole understanding of Minds and Souls came from a human perspective, so it was possible that it had them, just ones so alien from a human viewpoint that he failed to recognize them as such.
If he had enough control over his body when he was this deep in trance to do so, he would have sighed and groaned at the same time.
The tale of Faust came to mind.
First and foremost, Nick saw himself as a scholar and researcher. Faust had been a bored scholar, who called upon the devil who sent his representative Mephistopheles to Faust. A deal was struck and Mephistopheles served Faust with his magical powers so Faust could indulge in all the pleasure and knowledge of the world. But at the end of the contract, the devil would claim Faust s soul for all eternity.
Was The Game System the Mephistopheles to his Faust? He'd certainly used it to indulge in knowledge and while there had been precious little pleasure so far, he was heading in that direction. Could the devil be found beyond that wormhole? Was his Soul already being slowly claimed, piece by piece?
He withdrew his perception back towards his planet-like core, having no desire to try and investigate beyond that wormhole more then he already had. Too much magic was dangerous, even his careful attempts of trying to perceive what lay beyond the wormhole felt entirely like getting way too fucking close to the sun. It was probably lucky that he hadn't gotten burned to cinders with his explorations.
He focused extremely hard on his core, looking for even the slightest hint of something with that disgusting demonic stench of vile corruption, but other then what came off The Game System, his core seemed to be unaffected by it.
There were variations of the tale of Faust, as different writers had given the tale a crack at varying times in history. There were even some movies about it, some more grounded in the written source material then others. Some had Faust being saved from eternal damnation, but certainly not all of them. Which particular take on the tale was Nick playing a part in now?
He shook his mental head. Parallels aside, he wasn't bloody Faust and his life wouldn't be a fucking cautionary tale if he had anything to say about it.
"It's explanation-time now, motherfucker." he directed at The Game System.
He would have an explanation right fucking now and once he had that explanation, there was a decision to be made about what should be done about him having a connection to something that smelled worse than week-old garbage and one of two actions regarding that connection that needed to be taken before he ended his deep trance.
"You've been swimming non-stop for nearly two hours now." Violet commented as Nick spluttered and coughed up water.
After he had spent almost an hour doing his Occlumency thingy, he'd stood up, pulled out some boxes of leftovers from the freezer and told Violet to toss them into the microwave if she, Sirius or Lily got hungry and then headed for the pool after getting changed into swimwear. Ever since he first entered, he hadn't stopped doing laps and wasn't responding when she tried to talk with him from the side of the pool.
She'd had been pretty concerned about him seeming not to have any intention at all of cooking, which had felt just plain wrong. Not only was he incredibly protective of his kitchen and generally tended to refuse offers to help out when he was working there, but he actually seemed to highly enjoy both cooking and seeing others eat what he'd made.
So, she had been wondering just what the hell was going on, but had let him have a bit of time to himself.
Lily had also dragged her off to the laboratory for a bit, which had further delayed her taking action, Lily being incredibly weird and evasive about the entire thing and all the tests she'd put Violet through. But once Violet had made her escape from the lab and found Nick still just swimming lap after lap with no signs of stopping, she'd decided that it was time to intervene and find out what was up.
She'd changed into one of her brand spanking new bikinis and jumped into the pool, then placed herself in his way and just waited until he swam right into her, which apparently caused him to swallow a mouthful of pool water which he was now trying to expel from his system while threading water in front of her.
"Wha?" he eventually croaked out, looking blearily at her.
"You've been swimming non-stop for nearly two hours now." she repeated. "What's going on?"
"I felt unclean." he started with a wry disgusted expression and shuddered, then blinked and suddenly adopted a more neutral expression. "One thing I realized when meditating was just how much I've let myself go over the last couple of days. I've skipped my evening walks more often than not and I've eaten more then I probably should, so I figured it was high time for a bit of exercise."
Violet was no fool and she considered herself a pretty good judge of character.
She wasn't sure if he'd just completely lied to her or merely skipped out on telling the entire truth, but she somehow got the sense that the only thing that was entirely free of deception from what he just said was the bit about feeling unclean.
It was jarring to think that he was lying to her and something she'd never even suspected him capable of before.
In fact, she had occasionally felt that he was a bit too blunt and honest! Though that was usually when he was acting as the house Healer just blurting out whatever horrific imagery that came to mind or suggesting that she could sell off her bodily fluids for research if she was ever strapped for cash.
He swum to the side of the pool and reached up to grab the side of it and she tagged right along with him, holding herself up by hand instead of having to thread water to stay afloat.
"Something else bothering you?" she asked and saw him sigh, giving a small shake of his head, but saying nothing. She got the sense that he was feeling somewhat guilty about something and her mind instantly went into a very specific direction, one she had occasionally fretted about over the course of today. "Oh fuck! You slept with Tonks! You bastard!" she exclaimed and used her free hand to whip a spray of water into his face.
"What?! No! I have a strict no-dick-in-crazy-policy!" he fervently protested and she looked intently at him for a few moments, before calming down as she got nothing but a sense of truth from that shocked panicked denial.
That was the Nick she'd gotten to know over the last couple of days. Blunt, a bit twisted and completely unable to keep himself from taking little digs at everyone in his surroundings at a moments notice. Not the sort of guy that would lie to her.
"She gave up Lily's room to Sirius, then decided to crash in my bed rather then the couch. So, we sleep-slept in the same bed, but I didn't sleep-sleep with her!" he started to blab out, then shook his head and cleared his throat. "Sorry, let me rephrase that in a less panicked and more coherent manner. She stole half my bed without asking, tried to hog the cover, shoved her dirty foot in my face and otherwise snored the night away. No sexy business took place between the two of us." he calmly explained, chuckling a bit.
Violet had noticed that Tonks had been side-to-side rather then head-to-foot on top of the bed, which would explain how she'd gotten her foot in Nick's face without contorting herself.
"Alright, that sounds plausible." Violet agreed and giggled.
"Fuck, Shorty. You nearly gave me a heart attack with that horrible accusation." Nick groused and rolled his eyes. "I'll probably have nightmares tonight." he chuckled.
That last statement of his felt oddly true for a mere joke and she once again got a feeling that there was a bit of deception going on here, which she didn't like at all.
"You are keeping something from me." Violet confidently declared. "What is it?"
Nick was silent for a few moments and appeared in deep deliberation for those moments, then slumped somewhat and sighed.
"Come on, this is a dry-land sort of explanation." he said and headed for the ladder, dragging himself out of the pool and heading for one of the lawn chairs where he'd left his towel earlier. Violet tagged along and snatched up her own towel from another chair. "I asked Wondergirl about your Protections earlier and her explanation was... Shocking." he started after having hastily wiped off his face and upper body.
Violet blinked and wrapped the towel around her torso, looking up at him while awaiting a more detailed explanation.
"You're known as the girl-who-lived, the miracle gal who actually survived a direct hit from the infamous Killing Curse. Have you ever taken a close look into any of the various theories from scholars and crackpots alike all over the world who've tried to figure out how you managed to survive that?" Nick asked and Violet shook her head.
"Hermione did in first year. I tried to follow a few of them she showed me, but they sounded like improbable hogwash, were incredibly boring to read and I didn't at all like reading about how I by all rights should have bloody croaked as a toddler, so I stopped." she replied with a vaguely disgusted tone of voice. "I think Hermione still keeps looking into it though."
"I've read a few myself over the years and heard bits and pieces from more, but as far as I know, nobody has hit the nail on the head just yet." Nick explained and sat down, gesturing for her to do the same on the next chair over. She did and didn't have to wait long until he continued. "Your parents knew that Voldemort was gunning for you and since he had a bit of a reputation for being a cruel, relentless bastard who'd walk over corpses to get what he wanted, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you were in danger. The problem was that he just seemed fucking unstoppable, even on the rare few times when he actually took a few hits, he'd just keep on coming and make the people who got him pay dearly for it. So, your mother figured that desperate measures were needed."
"No shit, Sherlock. I didn't need that bit explained to me. Stop stalling and get to the part which has you so concerned that you'd try to keep it from me!" Violet snapped and Nick smiled.
"Fair enough, Shorty." he chuckled. "The short and sweet of it is that your mother basically threw everything and the kitchen sink into one big massive mess of a ritual and that 'everything and the kitchen sink' isn't much of an exaggeration. I don't believe an actual sink was involved, but she used Charms, Runes, Potions, Transfiguration, fucking Augery which I don't think has been used since the time of the Romans, Spirit invocation, Sacrifices and fuck all to create what is the most complex fucking ritual that I've ever heard of someone even attempting to preform. Not only that, but it bloody somewhat worked too! The Killing Curse bounced right off your forehead and destroyed Voldemort s body."
"Somewhat?" Violet interjected, wanting a bit of clarification on what she felt was the most interesting bit of that explanation. "I'm here, aren't I? The Killing Curse WAS reflected."
"Why the Killing Curse is infallible if it actually hits requires an explanation that will probably bore you to tears, but suffice to say there's a fucking reason why people try to stop it from hitting them and die instantly if they fail to do so. No single Witch or Wizard has enough magic to stop it from working once it does strike. Your mother s ritual, in spite of all her efforts, just wouldn't have enough juice behind it to save you from the Killing Curse. She wasn't satisfied with it working against pretty much everything except the Killing Curse, as Voldemort was known to be very fond of using the Killing Curse, so she needed a bit of extra oumphf in her ritual to make you Voldemort-proof. What is a bit concerning, is what she found to provide that extra oumphf." Nick explained and took a deep breath.
"Love and self-sacrifice?" Violet suggested. That certainly seemed to be what a lot of people seemed to be saying whenever her survival of the Killing Curse was being discussed.
"You mother loved you enough to create a ritual so complex that it'd probably give anyone else a brain aneurysm if they attempted to do all the calculations necessary for it not to simply blow up when attempted. There was certainly a lot of love and sacrifice involved, but it still wasn't enough." Nick snorted and shook his head. "So, she turned to Demons for the extra juice she was missing to completely Voldemort-proof you."
"Demons?" Violet exclaimed in disbelief.
"Not sure how the Potters had a tome on Demons in their collection. All available information about Demons should have been hunted down and destroyed a long time ago. There's been several world-wide purges, Masters of Divination have repeatedly scanned the entire world for whatever scraps of information that can be found and people refusing to give it up been killed for trying to keep hold of it. There's the occasional repeat purge at times, just in case some tosser has rediscovered some of that forbidden knowledge. The Potters or their ancestors must have managed some sort of Divination-proofing, that kept that tome from being found. So, Lily discovered genuine actual information about Demons and used that to make a very specific contract to empower the ritual, offering herself up as a sacrifice in return for that power." Nick calmly continued. "The sheer amount of balls that woman has is impressive. Even non-magicals, in spite of most of them not even believing in Demons, know very well that dealing with Demons is tricky and dangerous business."
Violet rubbed both her temples and groaned.
"Demons are real? What's next? Santa Claus?" she complained.
"Demons, Devils, Djinn, Gods, Loa, Mazoku, Spirits, Wutong Shen or 'mysterious existences beyond our understanding' or whatever such beings are referred to as, seems to exist. I'll spare you the various theories as to what they might be or come from, just know that the Magical World has dealt with some extremely powerful and highly troublesome beings in the past and that most people in this part of the world collectively refer to them as Demons. Because of the shitstorms caused in nearly all of those dealings, the entire Wizarding World collectively decided that it was probably a good idea to stop that sort of shit from ever happening again and thus, there's been multiple attempts to completely eradicate all knowledge about them. Your mother discovered that those attempts had failed in at least one case and thus, got these things referred to as Demons involved in your Protections." Nick continued. "She was pretty careful, crafted what was supposed to be an iron-clad contract and everything might have been fine and dandy in spite of you surviving because of demonic power, then I came along and yanked Wondergirl back to the land of the living."
"That fucked something up?" Violet asked with a bit of a frown, her mind ticking away with that little information she had. "You undid my mothers Sacrifice when you brought her back..." she muttered, feeling that perhaps she was on to something there.
"That may have fucked something up or something was fucked up to begin with. There's a bit of weird interaction going on with your Protection, specifically between it, you and Lily. There is something different there, something that just doesn't happen with me, Tonks or Sirius." he continued and scratched the back of his head.
"You know how I said your magic reacted to the Horcrux Locket? That your magic was angry at it?" Nick asked and Violet nodded. "Wondergirls magic seemed a bit confused at first, but her magic is starting to grow agitated and angry at it as well. I've spent nearly the same amount of time around the Locket as she has but my magic doesn't react that way to it and Sirius shows no signs of it either. It's a bit too early to tell for sure, but I believe there is some sort of exchange going on between you and her. It could be harmless or even beneficial for all I know. But with the Protections having been made thanks to beings known for delighting in corruption and mayhem, I do think there could be cause for concern."
"Was that why she dragged me into your laboratory earlier and ran a bunch of tests on me while you were doing your never-ending laps in the pool? Several of the tests repeatedly? She was being annoyingly evasive about what the hell she was doing." Violet asked and Nick let out a bemused chuckle.
"I don't think that was quite what she was doing, but I'll let her explain what she was up to." he said with an incredibly amused and somewhat satisfied expression. "No, I haven't told her about this little theory of mine yet. She only explained the Protections earlier today, so it's a pretty fresh theory I've been pondering during my meditation and swimming."
"So that's why you were so distracted and evasive. All right. What's the possible fallout?" Violet inquired, once again electing to focus on what she could grasp of a problem rather then weird-ass reasons there even was a problem in the first place.
"That's the troublesome bit. I'm not sure. I think you're somehow influencing Lily at least and that is why her magic is starting to hate the Horcrux. I could be wrong. Perhaps her magic somehow has started to recognize Voldemort from their previous encounters or something completely different. I haven't noticed Lily influencing you, but if that's because nothing like that is going on or because I've missed something due to the fact that I don't know either of you very well, is something I can't tell." he admitted.
"So, I should speak up if I find myself acting oddly? Ask Hermione and Ron to tell me if I do something out of character?" she asked.
"That's probably a good idea. Once you've gotten the hang of Occlumency, you should take a look at your core and do so on a regular basis. Be alert for any changes in there." he suggested. "I'll tell Lily to do the same, though something tells me that she's probably doing that already for other reasons." he continued with a bemused smile.
"And if there is something going on, if I do start acting out of character, turn into a nerdy bookworm or start dressing in what was the height of fashion sixteen years ago?" Violet asked.
"I love how those are the first two examples of out of character behaviour that came to your mind, Shorty." Nick commented with a grin, but then turned more sombre. "That's the extremely troublesome bit. I'm hoping Wondergirl might have some ideas, because I'm not sure what can be done."
Nick puffed away on his cigarette while staring out over the back yard all by his lonesome.
Violet had headed back inside to get back into regular clothes, then have a bit of a talk with Lily and have another go at learning Occlumency. After having spent the last couple of hours so distracted that he hadn't smoked, he'd instantly went for a cancer stick after she left.
Damn, but she had spooked him when he swam right into her. He hadn't managed to get his game-face on in time and she seemed to have somehow picked up on the fact that he was sprouting bullshit in his flustered state.
Thankfully, it seemed that giving up some information that he hadn't actually wanted to share, at least not at this point, had distracted her enough from what else he might have been hiding from her and somewhere around mid-explanation, his game-face had been firmly back in place.
Another win for his distract-them-with-one-truth-to-hide-another tactics.
It was a tad troubling, but now when Lily had told him about her pact with unknown mysterious forces beyond human comprehension and how the Protections had been created, he figured that it was only a matter of time until she had told Violet about it anyway. With that knowledge out in the open, whatever weird blending effect was going on could have come to light anyway, especially if it turned more noticeable then it already had.
As far as he could tell, it seemed that only Lily's magic had experienced any real change so far, though that didn't necessarily have something to do with the Protections. It could also simply be that she had more magic power now then before, perhaps she had been too weak to sense the similarities between Voldemort and his Locket, but now had enough magic juice in her that her magic made the connection?
That was certainly a plausible explanation as well.
Once you delved deeper into magic theory then regular magic schooling offered, things got a bit weird and you realized that things involving magic were a bit more free-flowing and uncertain then in more grounded sciences.
He loathed expressions like 'magic has a mind of its own' and other similar sayings, but there certainly seemed to be a bit of truth to such things. What you believed were actual iron-clad rules, could at times merely be guidelines. A theory that had been confirmed true on multiple occasions, could suddenly just cease to be true and there were always surprises hidden behind every new corner.
Case in point, The Game System.
The panicked leech had squealed like a pig and babbled frantically once he started threatening to rip their brittle connection apart.
Or well, babbled as frantically as the broken system was capable of at any rate. It seemed unable to communicate in more then a handful of coherent words at a time, seemed to lack a deeper understanding of more complex subjects, felt incredibly immature and was very easily distracted, going off on tangents or repeated pleas for assistance. When it had originally broken down, that seemed to have done a real number on it, because it wasn't supposed to be a stuttering child-like simpleton.
From what he understood from its frantic attempts to explain matters, there was a bit of hive-mind troupe going on here.
The Game System connected to him, was just a small cog in a much larger machine that spanned all of reality across countless universes. The Greater System, what he had felt beyond that wormhole, recruited lesser Systems that were given an incredible amount of freedom in regards as what to do when they sought out hosts across all of reality to bond with.
His particular lesser System had apparently once been a demon who'd fared badly in a conflict against another powerful demon. Defeated and on the verge of dying, it had been approached by a Lesser System sent out to recruit it. The former demon had accepted getting revenge on the demon that had defeated it and a life of bondage to the Greater System for its continued existence, giving it immense powers to employ at its own discretion, as long as it kept on serving and feeding the Greater system.
The Greater System leeched from the Lesser Systems, the Lesser Systems leeched from their hosts and the hosts enjoyed the benefits of having a reality-bending nearly godlike existence in their lives. Greater and Lesser Systems were connected in a way, collectively sharing knowledge, experience and when needed in some extreme cases, powers. They could share thoughts and what passed for their emotions and desires as well, but it took conscious and deliberate effort to do so.
It wasn't a true hive mind, but the parts were certainly more connected as a whole then humans were to each other.
It reminded him a bit about some sort of real-life computer virus seasoned with a dash of pyramid scheme.
Once a new being was recruited, it was brought into the whole and lost a great deal of what it used to be and instead became something entirely different, something more artificial rather then truly alive. Or most new Lesser Systems were like that, at least. It seemed some retained more of a personality then others.
Or that was what he'd managed to piece together from the confusing fractured puzzle of an explanation he had got. That change came with a connection to the Greater System and as the Lesser Systems were no longer fully alive, they didn't age and could exist on for pretty much all eternity as long as nothing fully destroyed them, which was incredibly hard as they could just skip whatever universe they were in and depart for another if they felt the need to do so.
He hadn't been able to figure out much about the Greater System, as his Lesser one just didn't have much knowledge to share about it. Getting a full explanation of just what sort of thing they were involved in and what sort of existence they all served, didn't seem to be part and parcel of the deal the Lesser Systems got when they were recruited.
It didn't feel demonic in the same way as the Lesser System with him did.
There was demonic energy behind that wormhole to be sure, massive amounts of it. But that wasn't the only sort of energy he could sense. He could identify Wizarding magic easily enough and sure enough, there was some of that there. But it just made up a fraction of the total amount of energy in the beyond.
There was something which gave him a sort of bestial animalistic impression, which he suspected was life force or the like from animals. There were great amounts of what felt like electricity. But there was so much more there that he just couldn't identify, having no previous experience or knowledge to go on. The total was a mess to try and unravel, but if he'd had to venture a guess, there were at least fifty different sort of energies of varying origins that he could sense but not identify, possibly a lot more.
He guessed that the Greater System wasn't a former demon like Nicks own Lesser System, or if it was, that time and influxes of energies from all over various universes had turned the Greater System into something completely different. He would have referred to it as a sort of self-made God, if the Lesser System hadn't informed him about the fact that there were actual fucking Gods out there!
The Lesser Systems varied greatly in how they acted and interacted with their hosts. Some of them, like his own, had demonic origins. Others started out with completely different origins. Humans, animals, Gods, Angels, Spirits, Alien creatures and a whole slew of oddball existences he'd never considered before.
Depending on what sort of Lesser System a host wound up with, they could be either helpful, mischievous, deceptive, hands-off or a whole multitude of other things. There was a great variety in how they interacted with their hosts, as the Greater System only wanted the power they leeched but cared little for how the Lesser Systems got those energies.
Some Lesser Systems would frequently interact with their hosts and inform them about what was going on, some would only do so in extreme circumstances, some would have a more hands-off approach and just pretend to be a weird reality-bending Game System which had suddenly become a part of the life of their host.
Some genuinely cared about their hosts and tried to guide them to a successful, fulfilling and long-lasting life. Other tried to corrupt them, twist them and generally made their lives hell, then absorbed their suffering for a bit of extra power boost.
Some went through hosts like parts on an assembly line, draining what they could for a bit and then took everything once the hosts died.
Like him, his lesser System seemed to have a bit of memory loss going on.
All it could tell him was that things had been very bad and that it had ripped its way across realities to escape disaster and destruction, frantically trying to save as much as both itself and him as possible while making its way to a low-threat reality.
It had found a new host body and shoved whatever shreds of the two of them it had brought into this reality into it with reckless abandon, hoping that both of them would be safe here as it got to work on recovering, restoring lost and corrupted data.
Sadly, it seemed it had lost pretty much all of Nick s memories and a great deal of the Lesser Systems own more recent memories were either lost, scattered to bits or corrupted. It had more complete and less corrupted memories from its earlier existence, but more recent memories were fucked up beyond belief. Nick had no memories whatsoever, it seemed that bits and pieces of personality was pretty much all that had made it.
It had admitted, under threat of being disconnected from Nick, that whatever disaster had occurred likely was one of its own making.
It could faintly recall wanting to rebel and overthrow the Greater System in order to regain its previous freedom while keeping all the awesome cosmic powers. It wasn't sure if Nick had been a part of the plot or not, it wasn't even sure if his original name had been Nick or even if he had been a human.
It did vaguely recall trying to recruit other Lesser Systems to its cause and believed it may have been betrayed by one or more. Nick had been brought along in the escape as his System would have been simply banished back to the Greater System if he wasn't around to keep it functioning.
Without a host or on a mission to take a new host, the Lesser Systems would be recalled back to the Greater System, where its attempts at treason could have been discovered if it hadn't been already, though it believed it would have been forcibly recalled if that was the case.
Neither Greater or Lesser Systems were all-knowing, but they had a sort of directed omniscience. If they focused on something, their powers of perception blew mere human senses out of the water. Their existence and how they perceived not only the world surrounding them, but also other worlds and fucking different timelines at the same time, just completely stumped Nicks ability to understand it.
But from what he understood, if the Greater System just merely had a hint at his Systems possible treason, just directing its attention towards that simple fact would allow it to pretty much instantly know not just what was happening, but also what had already happened and would happen in the future, as well as a multitude of possible variations of what had, was and could happen.
Yet somehow his Lesser System had believed itself capable of going against such a thing, even with similar capabilities of its own? It must have somehow perceived a possibility of success and decided to gamble on it, which had blown up in both of their faces.
Sadly, that was one of the bits which currently wasn't working very well, or just having its attention directed towards any one of those subjects, would have provided a plethora of information.
Nick rubbed his temples in frustration.
Some of what he'd been told about the true capabilities of an unbroken Lesser System was just... Insane.
Traveling between worlds. Dragging both their hosts and others to other universes. Granting what could only be described as superpowers to their hosts or others. Manifesting items from other world or creating entirely new amazing artifacts from pure fantasy. Creating entire magic systems that hadn't existed before. There had been hosts starting out as human or human-like that had become quite literal God-like beings for crying out loud!
Even in the current broken bug-infested state, Nick was still impressed as heck by what it could accomplish. It was so far beyond ordinary wizarding capabilities that even what little it could do now seemed fairly incredible to him. Spend some of the experience he'd earned by his gamified life and boom, he learned something in an instant which would otherwise had taken years.
The relationship system, perk system, loot system and many others didn't work as intended at the moment, but from what he'd been told it was supposed to be like, he felt a little less guilty about some of the shit he'd pulled.
By using an Aphrodisiac to make Violet feel a bit randy during her massages and by doing so repeatedly, he'd hoped that she'd be somewhat naturally conditioned to feel a bit randy around him even without the drug in her body.
If the relationship system, perk system and loot system hadn't been buggy, there could have been dungeon drops that would have just let him radically and instantly raise her affection, respect and obedience by using them, Violet s presence not even being needed for them to work.
He could have gotten perks that would speed up how quickly and smoothly their relationship progressed and a whole slew of other things along those lines.
And unlike how things were now, if the relationship system actually worked, those values had real tangible effects rather then just being window dressing and a bit of a shortcut to know how others felt about you!
So, if he had gotten some weird dungeon drop that increased someone's Obedience to 100, that person would pretty much be unable to refuse his commands if the relationship system had worked as intended. Violet's current high values meant that she'd pretty much already be a sex slave, if he so desired.
Using an Aphrodisiac to try and make someone a bit more randy in his presence was a sleaze move to be sure.
But using a +25 Affection item to just instantly and permanently make someone like you a whole lot more for no discernible reason? The non-gamer way to accomplish that was called Love Potions.
Even before first meeting Violet, he'd ruled out Love Potions as a viable means to complete the Sub Quest. The Wizarding World as a whole had a bit of weird love-hate relationship with Love Potions, but Nick mostly felt disgust and apathy towards them. Some of the more effective Love Potions was pretty much long-lasting date rape drugs on crack. That was bad, but to be truly honest, not the entirety of the reason why he'd dismissed them as a viable option.
Most of the truly effective Love Potions, were too fast-acting and caused incredibly fast changes in the target. There was just no fucking way someone under as close scrutiny as Violet was could be given a true Love Potion and not have people questioning just why the fuck she was acting so different.
A fully functional relationship system, where he'd just be able to grind and use boost items to make her fall head-over-heels for him, felt entirely too much like doping her up on Love Potions. He wasn't sure why it felt like a splash of Aphrodisiac in the massage oil was the lesser crime of the two, but it certainly felt like the lesser crime to him.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that his way only directly affected the body, while a Love Potion or weird affection-granting items went for the mind and emotions. Granted, if the body experienced it enough times, it would have mental and emotional effects as well.
The same was pretty much the case for the Rune Matrix that triggered Dopamine and Oxytocin production in the bodies of his female guests and freeloader. It was a completely natural process that was triggered and it was pretty much physical for the most part, though enough Oxytocin being released over an extended amount of time actually also affected emotions to a degree. That he felt was a bit sleazier and yet, not quite as sleazy as a fully functioning relationship system had the potential to be.
He wasn't sure which truly was worse, but enjoyed the fact that he actually felt less guilty now then he had been for the last couple of days.
He resolved to recheck himself for corruption before going to sleep, not sure that feeling less guilty about the shit he had pulled so shortly after making a deal with a formerly demonic entity was actually a good thing. Frequent checks to see if he was being corrupted by it felt very prudent.
But yeah, if the Lesser System hadn't been broken, he could have also used his experience points to get superpowers! He would even have gained some superpower-like abilities just from being a host to the Lesser System, giving both his body and mind a sort of impervience and recovery that he currently lacked.
Just because it could be used to mind/emotion control people around him, didn't mean that was the only thing an unbroken System could be used for. He could have dressed up in underwear and pretended to be Superman while flying around to save the day with his cool superpowers or something along those lines.
Superman actually was real, in multiple different universes and diverging timelines. That fucking blew his mind.
Almost every fictional character and tale he'd listed, the Game System had confirmed as actually existing out there in the greater multiverse. Its recent memories were mostly shit, but it had been around for hundreds of years, had infected previous hosts and its older memories weren't quite as fucked as more recent ones.
Superman wasn't even the weirdest fucking thing that had been confirmed as actually existing. There were more different kinds of superhumans, spirits, aliens, ghosts, Gods, Devils and even more freaky beings out there. Fucking Star Wars and Lord of the Rings were real!
No wonder the Lesser System had felt that this was a low-threat reality!
What the fuck was a 'Dark Lord' like Voldemort who was mostly a regional threat compared to someone like say Melkor/Morgoth, a god-like being who had not only been integral to the shaping of his universe, but also infused his evil into pretty much every single particle of that universe? That fucker had pretty much made all of creation into an infinite amount of little mini-horcruxes. Voldemort was a fucking joke in comparison.
But for some reason, potentially being able to do the worlds best Superman-impression, powers and all, was the thing that stuck out most to Nick at the moment.
While impressive and vaguely appealing in theory to be able to introduce himself as a superhero, fulfilling multiple childhood fantasies, the tale of Faust sprung to mind again.
Dealing with mysterious beings and powers beyond your understanding, was fucking dangerous, no matter how many superhero comics he'd read as a child and how much he'd wanted to be one while growing up.
Not all hosts had turned into Gods, cool superheroes with shit dress sense or lived happy sex-filled existences surrounded by a harem of beauties. Fuck up one time too many or like in his case, get possessed by a greedy former-demon Lesser System with delusions of grandeur who fucked up and it could all be game over.
Or time to escape to another reality, loosing most of yourself and your Lesser System in the process.
It had been a fucking pain to drag information out of his buggy leech, but he'd eventually gotten what he felt he could out of its currently reduced state of awareness.
Once he had that, he'd been tempted to pretty much instantly tear the connection apart and just wash his hand of this entire mess.
Instead and completely in spite of what his gut was telling him, he'd made a deal. His System was still demon enough that it could be bound to a demonic contract, so that is what they had done. All of a sudden, Lily wasn't the only one in the household who had made a deal with demons.
Or former demon now weird semi-artificial demonic intelligence, in his case.
Hosts were losing life, mind and magic to their Lesser Systems. Part of that energy they kept for themselves, part was sent onwards to the Greater System. What happened inside or possibly beyond the Greater System, his leech didn't know. What it did know, was that thanks to using the Game, leveling up and whatnot, the hosts expanded their life, mind and magic, regaining what was lost and often more.
It all seemed a bit improbable to him. It seemed like this whole mess created energy out of nothing, or at least created more energy then was actually used at the very least.
Some of the things the Lesser System had claimed was possible, seemed like it would require heaps and heaps of energy. Being infused with some really overpowered cheat-like ability or just merrily skip between universes had to require insane amounts of energy, by far more then whatever the Lesser and Greater Systems received in return.
Especially as if a Lesser System had a longer relationship with a host, it probably wouldn't be just one insane ability or one world jump, it would likely be a great deal of them. Even taking the hosts entire being at the end of it all, couldn't possibly be enough to compensate for what had been given in the past.
So, either energy was created from nothing or some form of energy upgrading was somehow taking place.
Either option made the researcher and scientist inside him scream out 'IMPOSSIBLE!'. Physics and thermo-dynamics were not supposed to act like magic and suddenly just decide that long-held absolute rules and constants no longer applied to them.
Multiple universes and different timelines were supposed to be abstract theories, not something he'd just been informed about was incredibly real.
Some characters were just meant to be fictional in books, comics or movies, not actually existing out there in the multiverse!
But his Lesser System was no longer able to lie to him after the deal had been struck and the contract made. He knew that it had told him the truth or at least the truth as far as it knew the truth.
He would keep on using it, he would help it recover.
Just staying connected to it so it could steal his energy actually did help it recover. It was why it had suddenly been able to communicate with him, when no such thing had been possible just a week ago.
But by leveling up and increasing his stats, it could leech even more energy off him and recover faster then it already did. Most hosts actually never noticed the loss from what he'd been told.
It felt like a bit of an evil downwards spiral and he wasn't entirely comfortable with giving up more of himself to a weakened former demon turned artificial intelligence parasite, but he had made the deal none the less. He just hoped that he would indeed gain more then what was taken from him, instead of being turned into a dried-up husk and a mere shade of his current self.
When he eventually died somewhere down the line, the Lesser System would take all of him that remained. There would be no heaven or more likely hell for his soul, he'd be converted to energy and the Lesser System would go on with its existence, probably being directed to find a new host. Unless it too got turned into energy and absorbed into the Greater System, if its treason was discovered.
He was betting on his Lesser System being less then eager to return to the Greater System, hopefully that would make the former demon have some measure of interest in Nicks well-being and ability to live for as long as possible.
With the Lesser System restored, perhaps there would also be some way to recover Nick s own memories of the past. He felt no great need for them, having made a new home for himself in this body and with those memories, but it felt like a thirst for all sort of knowledge was something both new and old Nick had in common. But in a worse case scenario where none could be recovered, at least his Lesser System would have memories of old Nick restored and could share what it knew.
The feeling of having made a huge mistake and knowledge that he was far more like Faust then he'd care to admit, had made him feel vile and unclean, which is what had led to his extended swim. That was why he had been so befuddled and out of sorts when Violet had snapped him out of his relentless swimming while his mind tried to make sense out of what he had learned and what he'd done.
Well, that and straining to figure out a way to somehow replicate the feat of using a little energy to create a whole lot more energy or just bullshit energy into existence, now when he suspected that such a thing was somehow actually possible. He had no idea how it was possible, but it seemed like it was and thus, he wanted a way to replicate it.
That would be even more exciting than dressing up in his underwear and cape, only to then fly around to catch ladies falling off tall buildings, talk to fish, hulk out when angry, doing whatever a spider can and other superhero-like accomplishments.