Elian was deep in thought, pondering the possible reasons for the changes he had observed. Suddenly, a memory surfaced: the bracelet contained about 5% impurities.
Normally, the presence of impurities wouldn't be a major concern, since almost nothing is completely pure. Usually, these impurities don't significantly affect the material's properties. However, Elian was in uncharted territory, so it made sense to investigate this aspect as well.
He turned to Zero One and requested a thorough analysis of the bracelet's impurities. He knew that Zero One's database didn't contain information on these specific impurities. He wanted Zero One to run chemical and physical tests and then compare the results to data on known materials available online. This was how Zero One had previously identified Quantaflux.
Unfortunately, the results of the analysis were far from satisfactory.
"[Inconclusive results]," Zero One declared, promptly followed by, "[But Master, I suggest you examine the runic structure of these contaminants].
Elian was surprised; Zero One rarely made such suggestions. This probably indicated that the AI suspected something, but lacked confirmation. Agreeing with Zero One's suggestion, Elian replied, "Alright," before getting to work.
He then activated his ocular gift and spent several minutes meticulously scanning the Quantaflux runes to determine the locations of the impurities. At first, this task proved challenging, as the 5% of impurities were distributed throughout the remaining 95% of Quantaflux. He eventually resorted to using his rune magnifying lenses to simplify the process.
When he finally identified what he was looking for, shock was an understatement to describe his reaction.
Before him was a blank canvas. A void without any runes. "How is this possible?" he exclaimed aloud.
He struggled to comprehend. The absence of runes could only be attributed to two different possibilities.
First, the material could have originated in an environment devoid of mana, never having interacted with it, much like the elemental components on Earth prior to the cataclysm. However, this hypothesis faced several contradictions. First of all, these impurities were mixed within the Quantaflux, a substance inherently imbued with runes from mana interactions. This implied that the Quantaflux itself had interacted with mana, making it unlikely that the mixed impurities weren't. Furthermore, the room was currently saturated with mana, which meant that it should have already been infused into these contaminants.
The only remaining possibility was that these impurities interacted with the mana on a minute scale that was imperceptible to him, while remaining inert on a larger scale. This idea defied logic, but it was the only plausible explanation.
Elian stopped suddenly, tracing his thoughts as he muttered, ".... on such a small scale?"
After hours of relentless investigation, the answers to his questions finally crystallized in his mind.
"Elian, you fool!" His voice cracked with frustration as he vented his anger at his own foolish oversight.
How could he have missed the fundamental origin and nature of Quantaflux? When Quantaflux registered data, it caused changes at the quantum level.
The constant shifts in the runic state were likely the result of these quantum fluctuations occurring within the atoms. Still, one nagging question remained. If these changes implied the recording of data, it raised a new mystery - what was the source of this information being imparted to Quantaflux?
He then formulated a hypothesis.
Could Quantaflux, an integral part of the dungeon cores, mimic their behavior? Could Quantaflux create spatial distortions similar to those created by dungeon cores, perhaps facilitating the creation or summoning of entities? No, such a hypothesis did not hold water; the absence of spontaneously appearing creatures undermined this notion. Still, the concept of quantum flux creating spatial disturbances intrigued him.
He grabbed a sheet of paper and inscribed a rudimentary spatial rune called "Spatial Disruptor". This rune had the power to momentarily disrupt the fabric of space. As the symbol materialized on the paper, he noticed a distinct absence of spatial distortions in the room. Had such distortions been present, the act of inscribing the rune would surely have been more challenging.
Spatial distortions were thus ruled out as a possible cause. He then began an arduous task, meticulously documenting every change in seconds, assisted by Zero One. Hours passed as he recorded, but no discernible pattern or repetition materialized.
Exhaustion began to overtake him, but surrender was not an option. This undertaking represented the culmination of a cherished childhood dream; he couldn't afford to give it up now.
"Why don't you take a break and eat something? It's been two days," Lys interjected with genuine concern.
She had been at his side since the beginning of his endeavors, and her concern grew as time passed. The day before, she had expected his mother, Julia, to interrupt his work by summoning him to his lessons. But when anentire day passed without such an interruption, she surmised that Julia had probably suspended Elian's classes to give him space to grieve.
The situation was worsening as he showed no signs of stopping, despite obvious signs of exhaustion. She had considered intervening hours earlier, but refrained because of his stubborn determination. Now, however, she realized she had no choice but to intervene.
Observing the unease in her friend's eyes, Elian decided to heed her advice. After all, with no immediate leads, a brief pause seemed the pragmatic choice.
Still, there was one last experiment Elian wanted to perform before calling it a day. The question lingered in his mind: what kind of information was truly inscribed within the quantum structures of the crystal? Up to that point, his efforts to decipher it had been fruitless. However, a new approach emerged - an attempt to directly observe the quantum realm and understand the nature of its contents.
One might ask why he hadn't tried this before. The answer lay in the exhausting nature of his gift. Powered by his mental energy, extending its reach came at a cost: excruciating pain in his eyes and headaches of unimaginable proportions when he pushed its limits. This prevented any further exploration. However, the prospect of gaining profound insights now forced him to take the risk.
As the day drew to a close and his desire to stop his work grew stronger, an idea struck him. With a pleading look at Lys, he implored, "Could you give me just five more minutes?"
"Not a second more!" Lys replied firmly, deeply concerned that he was pushing himself beyond reason.
With a nod of understanding, Elian steeled himself for the task ahead. Activating his unique gift, he discarded the runic magnifiers, which were useless on the scale he intended to explore. His focus shifted to the bracelet and he began the process of zooming in. As he delved into the microscopicrunes, the strain on his eyes increased, and he couldn't help but cry out in pain.
lightsΝοvεl ƈοmLys was torn between her instinct to intervene and Zero One's reassurance that interrupting the process could undo all the progress he had made. Reluctantly, she refrained from intervening, her concern evident in her watchful gaze.
Elian persisted, pushing through the discomfort as he ventured deeper into the quantum realm. He reached the atomic level, his eyes betraying his determination with blood seeping from them. The pain was excruciating, yet he remained unyielding. He knew he was on the cusp of unlocking the answers he sought.
His determination carried him forward until he finally reached the desired level of observation. His eyes were bleeding, his agony insurmountable, yet he rejoiced in his breakthrough. For moments that felt like an eternity, he studied the quantum runes, his expression changing from cries of agony to incredulous amazement. He had discovered something extraordinary.
As his eyes fixed on the revelations within the quantum realm, Elian's pained cries faded, replaced by an elated smile. The information before him defied belief, dispelling his doubts and rewarding his perseverance.
But his body had endured more than it could bear. In the midst of his triumphant discovery, the weight of fatigue and strain set in. With a smile still on his face, Elian slumped forward, his consciousness fading.
Lys acted quickly, catching him before he hit the ground. Her concern deepened as she saw the marks of blood and exhaustion on his face, but the jubilant smile remained. As she gently cradled him, she couldn't help but feel a mixture of concern and admiration for her determined friend.