Equilibrium

by

Excalionar

Chapter 14 - Part of this Balanced Breakfast

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A note from Excalionar

5100+ word chapter, but I have more written already. I just realized about 3,000 words after the end of this chapter that I was getting on to a whole new topic, and that I should release this as is.

***

 

Peter woke up the next day feeling incredibly well rested. He nearly leaped out of the bed, and straight into the wall of his bedroom. Apparently his new [Strength] was difficult to get used to in less than 24 hours. He felt that he would need to have regular exercise before he had perfect control over himself again.

When he recovered from his stumble and looked around, he found that it was still dark out.

"That's odd.. what time is it?"

Peter checked his clock to find that it was only just past 3 o'clock in the morning.

"Well.. I guess that makes sense. My sleep is more efficient thanks to [Enhanced Recovery] at grade C, so I won't need as much."

He turned to the table to see his breakfast hadn't been brought to him yet. Waiting for it to come would take far too long, and he wasn't that hungry anyways. He exited his room into the unusually quiet hallway, and made his way to the training courtyard.

"I'll train with the regular equipment until a bit before 6:00, then I'll go get breakfast and I'll head to the blacksmiths area to find Chandi. I need to take a closer look at those world energy items."

Peter went ahead with his plan. The courtyard was a little bit dark when he arrived, but he felt he could see more than he should have been able to. He assumed it must be his 15 natural [Perception], and 15 extra [Perception] from his armour... which he still wasn't wearing.

"My eyesight gets improved as my [Perception] rises. I guess that makes sense, but that can't be all it does. I wonder what else will happen when it gets high enough."

Peter pondered several things as he started with an early morning jog around the outer track. He enjoyed the brisk morning air whisking by his face. If he had any lingering grogginess, this would have done the trick. The sounds of birds chirping began around 4:30 AM, and he decided to switch things up a bit.

During the running he had gotten used to his leg strength, but he hadn't really pushed it too far. He only knew how to control his [Strength] at low levels of output. To test himself, he wanted to see how fast he could run around the entire track when moving at his maximum speed.

"I swear that the clock function was supposed to have alarm and stopwatch functionality. Let's see..."

Peter looked through a couple menu options in his hud, and sure enough he found what he was looking for.

 

Time: Start Stop
0 : 00' 00' Lap Reset

 

He raised an eyebrow at the window, and hit start then stop in very quick succession to test it out.

 

Time: Start Stop
0 : 00' 13' Lap Reset

 

"Haha, 13/100th's of a second. This will definitely do."

Peter traveled to the side of the courtyard, and got down in the running pose that B67 had made so familiar to him not too long ago. Preparing as best as he knew how, he counted down in his head.

"3, 2, 1, Start!" Right as he thought the word 'Start', the stopwatch began. Mental commands seemed to work for anything displayed in front of him.

Peter jammed his legs against the ground, and took off at top speed. He pushed himself to the absolute limit that his legs could take him, and the dust he kicked up behind him testified to it. As he rounded the first corner he almost lost his footing, but he just barely managed to keep his feet from sliding out.

"Shoot, that was close!" He thought, and at that moment he had an idea.

"[Equipment Storage], give me the Night Band of the Spider!"

Just as he thought that, the dark blue band that looked similar to a starry sky seemed to come out of nowhere, and firmly attach itself to his arm. It looked like the very metal on the band deformed to hug his arm, yet Peter felt no pressure or discomfort. It had practically become part of his skin.

As he came to the next corner, he braced for another possible wipe out, but found that his footing was perfectly solid. He didn't even come close to slipping, but he could have sworn that the ground here was even less solid than the previous corner. He was also running faster on this corner than the last one!

A couple more seconds passed, and the 3rd corner was coming up. He decided to run full throttle around this corner just to see what would happen. Either this bracelet functioned exactly like he imagined, or he was about to taste dirt.

He leaned hard into the turn while hoping for the best. To his relief and surprise, he didn't slip at all. He leaned to the point where physics would normally dictate that he completely fall on his side, or his feet slide out, but his movement never slowed or faltered.

"I feel like I broke the laws of physics just now!" He thought with an amused smile on his face.

The same situation repeated itself for the 4th corner, and Peter came to his original starting point.

"Stop!"

The watch stopped on command, and he checked his time. Peter huffed and puffed for a very short time before he felt himself recover with the assistance of the cool morning breeze. He then glanced over at the time.

 

Time: Start Stop
0 : 53' 70' Lap Reset

 

"Hmm. 53.7 seconds on the dot. I wonder how long the track around this courtyard actually is," Peter thought to himself, "I'll have to ask Jogun later. Now that I think about it, I'm not even sure if I'm supposed to meet Jogun here this morning or not."

Peter thought about it, and maybe coming here after breakfast was the best idea. He would definitely get to the armoury today though. There was no way he was going to waste any time getting something to fill up all of these new equipment slots he had available.

The rest of the time until about 5:40 AM was filled with playing around with the weights that were off to the side of the courtyard. It was incredibly fun to lift weights that two days ago you looked at as insurmountable obstacles.

Once the time came, he made his way back to his room. While he was walking, he decided to look a little more closely at his pretty wrist band. He used [Identify] on it, then selected the skill [Wall Climb] that came as an attribute of the item.

 

[Wall Walking]
Type: Innate Passive Enables you to aquire a firm grip on any surface you touch. As long as you posess the strength to hold yourself up, you may climb or even run on any surface that you wish. Skin contact is not necessary.
This skill is innate, and therefore it can not be trained or leveled up by any means.
Cost: None
Cooldown: -N/A-

 

"Wow. That's interesting! It's a new type of skill that I've never heard of before. That must be the same type as the skills that were on all of those sets of world energy armour that Chandi showed me."

An excited look covered Peter's face as he walked towards his room. His morning exercise invigorated him, and didn't seem to make him feel tired at all. He couldn't wait to take a closer look at the other world energy items that the temple had stored away.

He walked up to his room just as the people who usually left his food were exiting his room. He nodded to them with a smile, and they looked back at him slightly startled, maybe even confused.

"Hey, thanks for leaving me some food. I've never been awake before when you drop it off, but today I got a fantastic sleep I guess!"

Peter greeted the two: a somewhat overweight man with curly red hair, and a thinner woman with straight red hair.

"Oh, that's good. Enjoy." Said the woman coldly, who then turned and briskly walked away.

The man looked at her, then back to Peter with some kind of obvious discomfort. A bead of sweat trickled down the side of his face. He never even said a word of acknowledgement back to Peter's polite greeting. Instead he rushed to follow the woman.

"... Whaaat the heck was with those two?" He thought with an odd look on his face, "I mean, I know I'm 7 feet tall and have glowing eyes, but even I have never freaked out anyone that badly before."

Peter decided to ignore the two's behavior. He chalked it up to some kind of weird trait shared by a brother and sister or something. That red hair certainly made them look related at least. Maybe they locked themselves in the kitchen for the most part and have never seen him before. Either way it was just odd.

He entered the room to see a steaming plate of meat and veggies sitting on his table. His room seemed to have been cleaned as well.

"Mmm. This'll go down nicely after that workout."

Peter happily sat down on his lone chair, and pulled himself close to begin eating. Just as he was about to dig in, he noticed something strange. There was a very light 'haze' around his food. It almost looked like the fog that covers your vision sometimes when you wake up in the mornings, so he blinked a few times and rubbed his eyes.

The feeling of rubbing his eyes was satisfying, so he took his time and thoroughly rubbed the 'itch', but when he opened them again the haze was still there. Not only was it still there, he now realized that the haze was a very light purple!

"Okay, this is weird. What's going on with this food? The haze isn't on anything else in this room."

Peter only staired a few more seconds before he activated [Identify] to see what was going on.

 

Spiced Chockaroo with Bean Sprouts (Poisoned)
Large traces of Health poisons have been mixed into this dish. The effect will be delayed by about half an hour, and will not change the flavour of the meal.

 

"... THOSE TWO!!!" He yelled through gritted teeth, "No wonder they were so nervous!"

Peter immediately shot out of his chair which flew back into a wall and broke. He bolted out of his room, and down the hallway. He ran as fast as he could in the direction that the shifty red haired man and woman were headed in. The hallways in the temple were all very long, so even at his speed it took him a few seconds to get to the first choice of which hallway he could take. He could either keep going straight, or take a left.

Before he actually arrived at the hallway, he focused hard with his [Processing], and the world slowed down around him. He looked further down the hallway he was already facing and saw nobody was there. He unfocused to give himself a break and stopped next to the hallway. He immediately focused again, and just barely managed to see a large man and petite woman rounding another corner further down that direction.

He immediately took off after them. He made it halfway down the hall before someone in one of the rooms on either side of the hall opened a door to walk out, and nearly hit Peter.

Thanks to the bracelet that he was still wearing, he was just barely able to dodge to the other side of the corridor to continue running.

"Hey, slow down pal. It's like six in the morning for crying out loud!" The person called out from behind him.

Peter couldn't have cared less about anyone's beauty sleep at this point. Those two jackwads actually tried to assassinate him! The only people who would consider him worth assassinating are rivals to the Justicar, who also know he's an Avatar. He was going to find out who knew, and stop them from spreading the news before it was too late. His life depended on it.

He was about to round the corner after them, when a large arm reached out for him. It was the large red haired man! He must have heard the guy who yelled about it being too early for all the running, and figured out Peter was on to them.

The overweight man was surprisingly fast for his size, as he held his arm straight out in an attempt to clothesline Peter as he was coming around the corner. To his surprise, Peter stopped almost instantly. Such a feat shouldn't even be possible with how fast he was moving, so that made the man freeze up for a second with confusion.

Peter tried to get around him to see where the girl was but his arm was grabbed by the man's other hand. Peter focused past the large obstacle, and saw the girl was about 20 feet further down the hall. She looked like she was about to take off running.

"Go, get word back that we failed. I'll hold him off!" The man yelled, and swung Peter into one of the walls.

Just as he was about to make contact with the hard stone wall of the hallway, he thought, "Equip Preset 1!!" and his entire body became covered in the Avatar armour. He collided with the wall, but barely felt a thing. 55 armour was definitely nothing to sneeze at, especially when it covered him this well.

 

Warning: You have entered Combat.

 

"Damn, if only I had a weapon or shield so I could test out my skill. Oh well."

The man, noticing that Peter was unfazed, came running at him in an attempt to squash him against the wall, but just as Peter was about to become a sandwich, he planted both of his palms on the wall, and lifted himself up above his assailant using [Wall Walking]. 

Peter smirked because he realized that he finally used the bracelet for it's intended purpose.

The man hit the wall with all of his momentum, but Peter had already jumped over him.

Internally Peter was amazed at how easy this was. It was as if the man was moving around through water. Slow, predictable, and easy to evade. He seemed to have all the time in the world to decide which way to dodge.

"Woah, [Processing] must have a large passive effect on my mind as well. Not just when I'm focusing on things," He thought, then faced the woman who was frantically running away. She clearly didn't run instantly, or she would have been much further down the hall by now.

Peter took off after her, leaving the stumbling man behind. He got up to full speed before saying, "[Dash]!"

Suddenly, all of the strength in his legs seemed to activate at once. His speed, which was already a bit faster than the woman's, instantly doubled.

As Peter was just about to run into her, he swung his metal and leather clad fist straight into her back.

"AAaach!!", the lady screamed in pain, and tumbled over and over to a skidding stop. The speed she was launched at by Peter's fist was actually faster than her running speed. She was covered with many scrapes and there was a significant amount of road rash on one side of her face from skidding.

Spectators were appearing from nearly every door in the hallway just as Peter came to a calm stop next to the groaning woman.

He looked to one of the bigger men among the people who were watching, and realized it was Len! The same soldier that he freaked out the other day with Jogun by stabbing himself in the thigh with an arrow.

Peter looked at him, and ordered in a deep voice, "Len, grab her, and make sure she doesn't run away! Knock her out if you have to!"

Just as he said this, he toggled [Fear Aura] on, and everyone near by visibly shivered. Upon feeling this unexplainable fear, and in his groggy, suggestible state of mind, Len eagerly complied.

"Y-y-yes. Yes sir!" He stuttered out, then grabbed the woman's arm to twist it behind her back. He then placed his knee firmly on the base of her back to make sure she had no way of resisting.

To be honest, even Peter felt [Fear Aura] might have been overkill. He was a glowing eyed 7 foot tall man in full armour after all. Not to mention this was Len, who probably thought Peter would stab him in the leg with an arrow if he didn't do as he asked. Either way, he couldn't take any chances.

He turned and [Dash]ed back towards the fat red haired man. He had only just begun to recover from his run in with the wall a second ago, and began running off.

Peter still caught up in no time at all, and tackled the man to the ground. In the process, the strangely nimble man had grabbed a dagger from his belt, and swung it down on his attacker.

The dagger managed to slip through between two plates of metal on Peter's shoulder, and cut through a layer of leather, but that's where it stopped. The dagger barely hit his skin, but didn't even manage to do enough damage to get past the [Toughness] skill and cause his [Health] to drop.

"What the heck? What are you?!" The man shouted as he struggled to pull the knife out of the armour.

"Hahahaha, you already know. What did you honestly think would happen?" Was Peter's response right before he punched the man in the face, causing a gush of blood to come out of his nose.

The large man was too distracted by trying to free his weapon, which he treated as his only lifeline. Peter's raw strength was obviously too much for him to overcome, so the best move was to go for the weapon, but the knife wouldn't budge.

Peter's fist was roughly half the size of his face, so it also did a lot of damage. He punched again and again until the man's face was one giant wound, and he stopped struggling.

Taking a few seconds to catch his breath, he looked down at the unconscious man and chuckled to himself. Even though he was almost poisoned, and the two who tried to poison him almost got away, he was actually glad this happened.

He enjoyed the chase. He enjoyed finding out how his abilities could serve him best. And he enjoyed the feeling of vengeance on the people who tried to do this to him.

He then stood up. With a thought the armour covering him went away into thin air. The knife that was stuck in his shoulder armour fell to the ground with a metallic clang. It was a 10 inch long blood-red bladed weapon, with a sturdy looking handle.

Peter looked down at it with interest, and used [Identify].

 

Blood Steel Dagger Quality: Superior  Damage: +14 Dexterity +8, Vitality + 5

 

"Blood steel? What kind of metal is blood steel?" He thought to himself. It was an odd weapon, but it provided good stats to him. He decided to store it inside of Preset 1 for now to show Kayel or Jogun later.

In the meantime, Len had traveled to where he was with the beat up red haired lady firmly in his grip.

"Sir, should we take these two to a holding cell?"

Peter nodded, then picked up the large unconscious man with only a small bit of effort, which was mostly due to his awkward size, and said, "Lead the way, we need to have these two questioned. They tried to have me poisoned just now."

Gasps were heard from all the people who came out to see what all the commotion was about. Whispers started to sound off from everyone, some even ran to report it to their superiors.

Len looked even more serious now, and gave off contempt for the two redheads as he said, "Okay Sir, follow me."

 

***

 

Peter followed Len quite a ways through the temple. They got some very odd stares from groggy members of the justicar as they went, and the news of the assassination attempt spread like wildfire. Also a few minutes into the walk, Peter got a notification.

 

You have left Combat!
Notifications enabled.
[Momentum] has risen to Adept level 2!
[Fervor] has risen to Adept level 3!
[Toughness] has risen to Adept level 2!
[Exo-Skeleton] has risen to Novice level 8!
[Fear Aura] has risen to Novice level 8!
[Dash] has risen to Adept level 1!

 


You have completed the necessary requirements for the Evolution: 'Enhanced Mobility'.

Do you wish to implement this evolution?

Y   /   N

Note: You will be incapacitated for up to 5 minutes while the necessary changes are made to your cell structure. Please only accept once you get to a safe location.

 

"Wow, I don't even feel slightly sick with this evolution pending. Must have only been that bad yesterday because there were two evolutions at the same time. I'll wait till I have some free time to activate this one." He thought to himself.

He was extremely pleased that he didn't have to get hit with gut-wrenching nausea today.

"I gotta check out what [Dash] gained for going to Adept!"

[Dash] was one of Peter's bread and butter skills. It was used for damage, mobility, and didn't cost a lot of [Stamina] to use. It was understandable that he would be excited when it was raised a whole tier.

 

[Dash] Adept level 1
Type: Active Dash straight ahead, dealing 180% weapon damage to all targets struck.
Cost: 10 [Stamina] ; Cooldown: 10 seconds
On level up: Slight increase in damage, and/or decrease in [Stamina] cost, and/or reduced cooldown time. 
Cost: 10 Stamina
Cooldown: 10 Seconds

 

"The cooldown got lowered! That's probably the best thing I could ask for," He smiled, then continued speculating, "I wonder how much damage my bare fists do? That damage, plus my damage from [Momentum], all multiplied by 180% is how much damage I did to that woman's back."

Peter looked ahead at the woman Len was carrying. He could see her back from this angle, and it looked bad. A black bruise the size of a basketball was right in the spot where he had hit her. She looked like the fall on the stone floor also did a number on her.

"Hopefully nobody looks down on me for hitting a girl that hard. She tried to kill me after all."

Peter's head was filled with various justifications for the first time he had hit a woman, and he kept following behind Len. As it turns out, the holding cells were almost adjacent to the Blacksmith's work area. Once the two of them were locked up, Jogun came through the door to the area Peter was in with a panicked look on his face.

"Peter! Thank goodness. Kayel and I were waiting for you at the training area when we got the news. We can't believe you caught them, and brought them in yourse--"

Jogun went wide eyed when he saw Len, and chuckled a bit.

"Hey there Len. No hard feelings about the other day right?"

Len's face went a bit red as he replied, "No of course not sir. Now that I think about it, it was pretty funny. I just don't understand how this man was willing to do that for a practical joke."

All three of the men were laughing when a serious faced Kayel came in.

"Gracious, you three are sitting here having a great time right after Peter almost got assassinated?" He grabbed Peter by the arm, dragged him a little ways away from the group and said a chant. A bubble of distorted air grew around them, blocking any sound from being heard from the outside.

"Peter, was this Eve?! Did she try to kill you already?!" Kayel said in a low yell.

"No! This wasn't Eve. At least I don't think so, they're just regular level 20-somethings who tried to poison me. Eve isn't stupid enough to try something like this so quickly, it's too obvious that it would be her."

His logic calmed Kayel down a little bit, but he was still visibly upset.

He huffed, then took down the sound-proof barrier.

"We'll find the truth. Our interrogators are coming, and they have rare skills that allow them to get the truth out of people just like this. The food that was sent to your room is being examined as we speak. They'll find the origin of the poison, and that will narrow down the list of suspects." Said Kayel while glaring at the two assassins, who were confined behind bars.

The woman, who was now conscious and had a pained expression, looked up and stared daggers at Peter.

"He was supposed to be level 0 still." She said through her teeth, "Level 0! How does someone like that run faster than us!? He took 90 health from me in one punch, and that was before I took damage for hitting the ground!"

She punched the ground beside her, not able to stand up.

Kayel walked over to the bars, and looked at her with a surprisingly calm expression. It was almost as if he was in pain.

"Tell me," He said quietly, "Did Mathus do this? Is he the one who gave you this information?.."

She paled, and looked away. Her red hair was covering her face so she didn't have to meet Kayel's eyes.

Kayel closed his eyes in grief. Her reaction, and her heart rate were clearly visible through the air around her. A tear formed in the corner of his eye as he thought about the student that he had once cared for like a son.

"Th.. that's all I need to know. I'll leave the rest of the information gathering to the men who are coming."

He promptly left the jail area. Jogun looked heart broken on his behalf. Len was still unsure of exactly what was going on, and didn't know what the missing High-Judge Mathus had to do with it. Silence just permeated the atmosphere of the holding area. The large man hadn't woken up yet, and the women had dead fish-eyes staring at a wall in her cell. Jogun was the first to break the silence.

"I think we ought to get your full side of the story first Peter. Come with me." He said as he began walking in the direction Kayel went. He stopped briefly and said, "Oh, and thank you Len. You've earned yourself a day off of your usual duties. You're dismissed."

"Thank you, Sir!" Len replied.

Peter nodded towards Len, who returned the gesture, then the three of them left the jail.

 

***

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A note from Excalionar

Special thanks to 'adsgvf' for the help as my proof reader / creative advisor!  


Hey one final note: If you guys like the fiction please head over to THIS page and give me a rating! You don't need to write out any crazy reviews or anything, just toss me a couple stars! That'd be swell!

 Looks like this (preferably)!

 


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Excalionar

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