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A note from Excalionar

This 8100+ word chapter is hereby dedicated to Postron! He actually said 'For the love of Adrestia' in a comment on Chapter 14. I appriciate that level of raw immersion into a story.

Anyways, this is for you to snack on! I say snack because I know how you guys are with binge reading. I'm one of you remember?

Small update-
If you don't feel like seeing the explanation, Here's a TL;DR: [Adapt] has been retroactively changed to [Exo-Skeleton], and will be refered to as [Exo-Skeleton] from now on.

Spoiler: Explanation:

 

***

 

Jogun walked with Peter to a private room. Len went back to his room to get some more sleep, and to take his day off.

The room they arrived at reminded Peter of the room that he first talked to Kayel in. It brought back memories of the Ohmal Kingdom's slave trade, and Kurrenth's looming threat of a civil war. He still had no idea how he was going to escape anyone with a high level [Analyze Soul] skill, and fake having [Mana] to get away from the Arcane Vanguard.

They both sat down and Jogun said, "Okay. Tell me everything from the moment you got up this morning. Don't leave out one detail, because we'll need it to compare to what those two have to say."

Peter said, "Okay," Then proceeded to completely recount everything. Right from when he got up at just past 3, to when he ran around the whole courtyard in just under 54 seconds, to seeing purple haze around his breakfast, and chasing the other two down. It really helped to have an incredible memory for moments like this.

Jogun looked at him with surprise, and said, "54 seconds? That courtyard's outermost running path is 800 meters long!"

Peter did the math in his head, "Wow. Around 53 kilometers per hour is my running speed? That's incredible."

"It's very impressive," Jogun said with a nod, "It's approaching the speed of some of the temple's scouts, and you didn't even have to sacrifice any combat potential for it. Ha, if people knew, they'd be jealous enough to curse your ancestors."

Jogun got serious again, and shifted his weight in the chair.

"The purple haze though. What do you think that was?" He asked.

"Honestly, I've thought about that ever since we captured those two. I have no idea what that was, but it might have saved my life," Peter said with furrowed brows. His chair was uncomfortable for the same reason as before: He was still far too large for it.

"How about the weapon you mentioned the man using on you. May I see it?"

"Sure," Peter said, then said out loud, "[Equipment Storage], equip the blood steel dagger."

Just as he finished, a red bladed dagger appeared in his hand, and he dropped it in front of Jogun who looked completely flabbergasted.

"Woah kid, hold on a second! I thought you didn't have [Mana], but that was spatial magic!" He said franticly.

"No, it's not exactly magic," Peter said, "It's a class skill of mine. Somehow I'm able to store my weapons, equipment, and armour inside of my skill called [Equipment Storage]."

Jogun looked bewildered, "Spatial magic that doesn't use [Mana].. Avatars can apparently break whatever rules they want, and the Gods will just let them I suppose. Must be great to be favoured!"

Peter laughed, "I think it's more like 'System' magic. Obviously our status screens don't involve [Mana], because I can use them. But the system is definitely not a physical entity. They appear out of nowhere, and only exist in our own vision. They have to be generated out of something separate from [Mana]."

Jogun nodded, "That.. actually makes a lot of sense. Now that I think about it, system windows appear a lot like how you made that dagger appear."

Jogun then looked closely at the blade, and a scowl appeared on his face. Peter waited and watched the little changes in Jogun's facial expression. He was attempting to recognise these little changes and identify what they meant.

"This blade.. it's made out of a very unique metal. I also recognize where it's from... I've seen ore veins made of this north of the town, far into the Blood Jungle." Jogun informed him, then shook his head in confusion, "But.. nobody should be out there. Very few people would even want to live out here because of how violent and unpredictable the monsters are in the jungle."

Peter thought for a second, then said, "I feel like this question is long overdue, but where exactly are we?"

"We're right in between the provinces of Dorcot and Sidian. The jungle is the border which separates the two provinces. Our position on the continent is the midwest. Kurrenth takes up the whole western side of the continent, and Ohmal takes up the east," Jogun responded, while seemingly distracted. He must have been thinking about the origins of the dagger.

"What about the jungle itself. Is it named the 'blood jungle' because of the monsters that are coloured red? Even that dagger is called a 'Blood Steel' dagger. What is with this theme?"

"..Blood Steel eh? Ahh. Must be your [Identify] skill at work. To answer your question, it's a much more involved explanation." Jogun met Peter's eyes and said, "This jungle wasn't always like this. According to recorded history, a very special war was fought here hundreds of years ago."

Peter twiddled his thumbs, "What kind of war?"

"A war between Avatars." Jogun said, and Peter's jaw nearly hit the table.

"The Avatar of the Blood God Shezmu, and the Avatar of the Forest Goddess Aranyani. They were the major powers 1,000 to 1,200 years ago. The politics of that age have nearly been forgotten, but the gist of it is that the Shezmu's order was draining all the creatures in this jungle of their blood, and using it in some kind of ritual to make his Avatar stronger. Aranyani saw it as an abuse of her forest creatures, so the two factions fought."

Peter audibly gulped.

Jogun sighed, "The Avatar of Forests confronted Shezmu's order, accusing them of destroying the ecosystem of this area. Regular monsters wouldn't be a problem, but the creatures that aren't made of condensed world energy are needed for the cycle of life to continue. Of course, the Avatar of Blood couldn't have cared less, so he ordered her to leave his territory or die."

Peter was blown away, so he asked, "What exactly did they do to change this place?"

Jogun continued, "Letting them continue wasn't an option for the forest Avatar, so she brought all kinds of jungle dwelling beasts and the monsters of the jungle to aid her in fighting them. She was winning for most of the war, but the empowered Avatar of Blood, in his desperation, used a spell that killed them both. A mist of blood covered this whole forest for nearly a decade after that, making it totally uninhabitable. The surviving members of Shezmu's order spread out into the continent after that. The entire continent hated them, so they were all in hiding for their lives. Aranyani's very small order, who were never in pursuit of power and were loved by the continent, confirmed that their Avatar did not survive. Her body couldn't be brought back to their temple either because of the mist."

"Goodness..." Peter said under his breath, "An Avatar was strong enough to alter a massive jungle for over a thousand years."

Jogun nodded, "They almost all end up being that strong. Both of them were actually considered infant Avatars. There's a legend surrounding the Avatar of oceans, which says that he once sunk an entire continent in his rage. Heck, the Avatar of Thunder was so powerful that even though she hasn't been seen for several hundred years, the continent of Fulguran was named after her. She was the origin of this continent's advanced lightning magic too."

It was a lot to take in, but Peter was beginning to understand the extent of what [Mana] was capable of. He was still pretty bitter, but now it was like someone had ripped open the wound and tossed in a teaspoon of salt.

He gritted his teeth and thought, "I need to become strong. I need to take full advantage of everything I have at my disposal to catch up with my counterparts from other Gods."

Based on the fight he was in this morning against two mid level 20's, he was stronger than average people at close to 3 times his level. That was without the 38 undistributed stat points that were still sitting in his status page.

Thinking about that reminded him of the choice he had to make soon. It was about 7:40 in the morning now, so he had around 56 hours left before the deadline came.

"Jogun," Peter said seriously, "I might have the thing that could bridge the gap between me and the..." A pained expression covered his face, "... the Avatars that can use [Mana]."

He raised an eyebrow, and leaned in a little closer to Peter.

"Really? What is it exactly?" He asked with a sceptical tone.

Peter proceeded to explain things from the beginning just in case Kayel didn't give Jogun the whole story. He went through how Adrestia told him about his damaged soul, and how the Equilibrium Construct was designed to assist Avatars just like him, but it was still a little buggy. Jogun already knew about his 'Traits' that he attained, so he didn't bother to repeat that part.

He then explained the whole concept of 'Modifiers', and how he was not only an 'Avatar', he was also something called an 'Evolver'. Peter then explained his 'Evolutions', and used the Blood Steel Dagger on his hand to explain how he could heal at a little over 10 [Health] per minute.

"Holy crap Peter, slow down. I'm still blown away by the fact that you have actually met our lady face to face, and two of her brothers. You literally met the Gods of Fear and Terror themselves! Do you have any idea how incredible that is?! And now you're telling me that you are more than just an 'Avatar', which by the way is one of the most exalted status' anyone can possess in this world. You're also an 'Evolver'... the only one of your kind."

Jogun processed all of Peter's information by sifting through it in his mind, then saying it out loud in more plain words.

"Yes." Peter said flatly, "In fact, from what I have personally experienced so far, the 'Evolver' modifier is the more useful of the two. Being an Avatar amplifies everything I've gained from being an 'Evolver', but if I had to pick between only one of them..." Peter paused and thought about it, then decided to digress a little, "Now, the reason I say that is only because I don't have access to [Mana]. If I was able to use spells, I would say being an 'Avatar' has the advantage."

Jogun nodded, "Yes, that's probably the case. But, what exactly does all of this come to? Why are you telling me so many details?"

"Well.. I haven't exactly finished yet," Said Peter sheepishly.

He then proceeded to explain the single-use [Evolve] skill that he activated the day prior. He pulled open the 'minimized' window he had with all of the options, and read them off one by one. Joguns jaw seemed to drop lower and lower to the table with every option that Peter explained.

"H-Hold on. I need to go report your testimony of the assassination attempt, and then I need to go get Kayel. There's so much information that you put out just now that it's hard for me to process it all and give you some proper advice. I'll tell him to bring some parchment to write on too."

Jogun pushed himself out of the chair and went to the door. The swing from opening the door hit his sword at his hip accidentally. He readjusted the sheath, then left.

Peter got up to stretch his legs.

"Hmm. I wonder if telling him everything was a good idea. He seemed pretty shaken up."

Peter walked around the room until he felt satisfied, then sat back down. He felt a little bored waiting for Jogun return, but he suddenly remembered something and slapped his own forehead.

"I still have the evolution to apply! I bet I can get it done before they come back," Peter thought as he waved his finger in the air, bringing up the window that had the notification for [Enhanced Mobility]. He found 'Yes' and confidently pressed it.

Peter immediately felt the effects of the changes. His vision began to shake, and his legs rattled as if he were scared. He wasn't afraid at all, it was that his muscles were being changed and 'upgraded'. He guessed that if it weren't for his incredible tolerance to pain, he would have probably passed out by now.

He carefully laid his head down on the table, and tried to be as still as possible. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead, and he felt a tingling sensation almost as if he was going numb randomly all over his body. It went on like that for only a few more minutes before he regained control over his body. The shakes stopped, he wasn't sweating anymore, and he actually began to feel refreshed.

"I.. I think I liked sleeping off my evolutions more than staying awake through them," Peter thought as he stretched his body again, "At least I didn't feel nauseous this time."

"Status."

 

|7:58 AM| |Status| |Backlight: [Off]|
Name: Peter Valk Kastell Level: 10
Gender: Male Influence: 9
Race: Human Variant Fame: 10
Class: Arbiter Unspent points:  38
Stats
Health 550/550  Stamina 400/400
Vitality 25 (25) Endurance 20 (15)
Strength 32 (15) Perception 15 (15)
Dexterity 20 (20) Processing 20
Karma -100 M. Resistance 10
Evolutions
[Enhanced Recovery] Grade: C
[Enhanced Durability] Grade: D
[Enhanced Energy] Grade: D
[Enhanced Mobility] Grade: D
Traits [Tap to display]
Skills
[Auto Translate] Transcendent level 10 [Student of a God] Expert level 1
[Identify] Adept level 8 [Soul Drain] Novice level 9
[Evolve] Time until random racial growth path is selected: 55 Hours [Exo-Skeleton] Novice level 8
[Momentum] Adept level 2 [Patience] Adept level 1
[Fervor] Adept level 3 [Toughness] Adept level 2
[Fear Aura] Novice level 8 [Dash] Adept level 1
[Shield Bash] Novice level 5 [Equipment Storage] Preset slots: 1

 

Peter smiled when he saw that everything seemed to be in order. The blood steel dagger was taken by Jogun to be used as evidence, so his stats were just his usual. He selected [Enhanced Mobility] to check on what it's effect was.

 

[Enhanced Mobility]
Type: Evolution Increases the speed at which you can move and run by 10%.
Moving around, running, or performing complex movements such as training in a martial art will raise your progress to increasing the Grade of this Evolution. Increasing the Grade of the evolution will enhance the benefits it gives.
Grade: D
Progress: 0.01%

 

"Nice! A straight up speed boost. And its lowest rank is already at 10%!"

The true significance of evolutions was lost on Peter up until this exact point. Every point he put into the stats that helped him run faster, like [Strength], [Endurance], and [Dexterity], were now increased in their effectiveness for his running forever. Even things like the raw amount of [Health] and [Stamina] regeneration that he had were unbelievable, and they weren't even close to being as high as they could potentially become. With enough training and activity, the bonuses that evolutions provide may become even more valuable than his base stats!

"So this is what the true power of the 'Evolver' is." Peter said in wonder. He looked at his two open palms and stretched his fingers out, "These evolutions keep coming whenever my body is put under a specific kind of stress. All of the evolutions so far are related to something I've found that I lacked in my training."

Peter remembered how the recovery evolution came after he began drinking potions and eating potion enhanced food, and the durability and energy evolutions came after he finally started to lose large sums of [Health] and [Stamina] in the spider cage. Now this evolution came when his speed was put to the test.

"Will my body continue to passively improve itself forever, or is there an eventual limit to what it can do for me? What other types of evolutions can I gain? Will it ever evolve a specific part of my physical body, or will it always just be 'stat' based upgrades? Also, what would happen if I actually chose 'No' when it asked me to apply the evolution!? Rrgggh!"

Peter let out a long deep sigh in frustration. He had so many questions, but nobody to ask!

Just as he was about to lose his cool from the raw lack of information, the door opened then Jogun and Kayel walked into the room.

"Alright," Jogun said, "It looks like the interrogators are starting now. I gave them the dagger and told them to ask about it's origin," He looked to his right, "I also got Kayel to come with me to help discuss your options."

Kayel jumped in, "Peter, tell me every option word for word. I need to hear this for myself if I'm going to truly believe it."

Peter rubbed his temples in a slow circular motion in an attempt to dispel his thoughts from before.

"Alright, I'll start from the beginning."

The two men sat down at the table with Peter, he then told them each option: 'High human' - The well rounded; 'Dreadnaught' - The tank; 'Juggernaut' - The fighter; 'Shadow Walker' - The assassin; 'Psionic Human' - The.... ???, 'Oracle' - The seer, and 'Untouched' - The anti-mage. He went through all the details just like he had before.

Kayel's reaction was very close to that of Jogun's first time hearing all the options.

"So that's why you had me bring something to write with," he said, as he brought out a roll of parchment and some type of primitive pen, with it's own stored ink. He began writing down everything while Jogun and Peter discussed.

Kayel spoke as soon as he was done writing, "Peter, I'll be honest, I hope you weren't looking forward to Dreadnaught or Juggernaut... because I strongly oppose those two choices."

Peter nodded, "Don't worry. I've had some time to think about it. Choosing an option that forced me to fight while I'm still, like Dreadnaught, would make me way too open to ranged attacks. And basing my combat potential on how much damage I take, like the Juggernaut is, would be a death wish as well."

"Good," Kayel breathed out a sigh of relief, "You wouldn't last very long against any mages if you chose either of them."

Jogun cleared his throat then said, "We can probably rule out 'Oracle' right now."

"Why do you say that?" Kayel asked, "It's one of the most unique things I've ever heard of before."

Jogun shrugged, "It's not that the oracle isn't an incredible option with reality shattering abilities, but Peter needs combat related abilities. [Perception] is a very unique stat, but its uses aren't fully understood. Staking such an important choice on a stat that nobody knows the true uses of is too risky," He shook his head, "The only somewhat risky stat I could see Peter choosing is [Processing]."

Peter tilted his head, "Isn't that just as risky as [Perception]?"

"Not even close!" Jogun argued, "I've seen what you can do with it. Remember when I was throwing those wooden balls at you in the courtyard? Your greatest improvement to how efficiently, and precisely you swung the sword was when you added points into [Processing]. Just the concept of being able to think faster than an opponent makes me jealous of you," He confessed with a slightly turned head, "The problem with the 'Psionic Human' option isn't that you have to dedicate the 'Doubling' effect to [Processing], it's that... well... I've never heard of an 'Esper' skill in my life. I have no clue what kind of a skill that would give you."

Kayel looked at Peter, then back to Jogun, "I.. I actually haven't heard of 'Esper' either, but I feel like I know what it is anyways."

The other two looked at him in confusion.

"Do tell!" Peter said with excitement.

He took a second to clear his thoughts then spoke, "When I was younger, I explored this continent thoroughly. I traveled through Ohmal, Kurrenth, and some... other places which are also considered part of Fulguran."

Jogun raised an eyebrow, "You don't mean..."

"Yes. I traveled to the western storm Isles."

"But... that was said to be nearly impossible! No ship has ever made it through the waves, and--"

Kayel put a hand on Jogun's shoulder to interrupt him and said, "My friend, have you forgotten what my Affinity is? I left for those islands the moment I was confident I could be safe in travelling there."

Jogun put his head in his hands, "My goodness.. It can be used even for that?!"

Peter perked up at the mention of 'Affinity', "Wait, can I know what it is? I still don't fully understand affinities or what they do."

Kayel chuckled, "Absolutely Peter. Affinities are a kind of 'theme' that you can choose to apply to skills. Sometimes they are physical, and sometimes they are magical in nature. My affinity is 'Calming', a magical affinity." He adjusted himself in the chair, "I received it when I turned level 50, and to be honest I was rather upset. I really wanted an affinity that made me fierce, and more like a tempest with my Magic... I was a very silly, hot headed young man then."

"So, what kind of applications does 'Calming' have?" Peter asked.

"Well, as you very well know, I can create these," Kayel lifted his hand, and said a short chant to make a mini-sphere of distorted air, "These are called 'Nullification zones'. I developed them soon after I gained my affinity. They immediately calm any vibrations in the air, thereby limiting any sound that tries to enter or escape. But their true purpose isn't for just having really private conversations! It can also calm any form of energy. Fire magic, thrown objects, high winds, sounds... anything with energy is nearly eliminated when it comes into contact with these."

"Incredible," Peter thought to himself, "The uses for something like that are nearly unlimited."

Kayel continued, "I had a ship take me as close to the island as it would take me, then I flew straight into the storm with one of these around my body," Kayel closed his hand into a fist, crushing the sphere, "It worked perfectly. The only trouble I had was a small run in with a cliffside," He scratched the back of his head, "I didn't realize the Island was more like a mountain on the side that faces the continent, and I had no way to see more than a few feet into the storm."

Even Jogun was on the edge of his seat listening to Kayel, "What did you find inside?"

"At first?" Kayel laughed, "A whole lot of nothing. I traveled for hours in all directions over a very normal set of forests, hills, rivers, lakes, and deserts before I reached the edge of the island, then came back to the mountain where I started. It wasn't until I really paid attention to the movements of the clouds that I saw the whole storm seemed to originate from the very top of the mountain. They surround the island in a cone shape, and the tip was at the very highest point of the mountain, just beyond what I could see. So, I traveled up."

Kayel cleared his throat, "That's when I met them. A variant race of sentient Golems who lived at the top of the mountain. They were causing the never ending storm."

"There's a whole new race hidden in those islands!?" Jogun yelped.

"Yes. And they were quite hostile towards me. They didn't speak a language, they spoke to me through their minds. I could feel their intent, and that's how I could tell what they were saying," Kayel shivered a little, "It was unnerving to be honest... the way you can 'feel' them in your mind. They were 'yelling' about the stench of my kind, and how our powers were a filth that they couldn't stand."

"Wait, your power? Were they talking about magic?" Peter asked.

Kayel thought for a moment, "Yes, but I think it goes one step further. Even when I stopped casting spells completely they still were disgusted with me. I think it was the 'smell' of my [Mana]."

Jogun shook his head, "So what does that have to do with the 'Esper' skill?"

"Nothing as far as I know," Kayel shrugged, "But the description is what I recognise: The ability to 'use your mind to affect the world around you' describes exactly what those Golems were doing to attack me. They threw boulders at me without the use of any [Mana] or chants, and they used strange methods of attacking me that I had never even heard of before. Like pulling the metal out of the earth to form weapons, or screaming so loudly in my mind that my head felt like it would split open. Each Golem seemed to use a different type of power exclusively to attack me."

Kayel stood up and paced around the room while stroking his beard.

"I had absolutely no chance. I had to escape. I went right back to the ship, and I never returned."

The three of them thought for a few moments. [Processing] was definitely a stat worth doubling, but the other things surrouding 'Psionic human' were just too mysterious.

"Maybe we should just discuss that option later," Peter said, "What about the other 3 options?"

Jogun blinked a few times, then spoke up, "Shadow walker could work... if you were a meter shorter and didn't have glowing eyes."

Peter chuckled, "Yeah.. I guess my appearance doesn't exactly scream 'stealth' does it?"

Just as the other two began to laugh, there was a knock on the door. A slightly muffled male voice came from the other side.

"General Jogun sir, It's Rawkin! I was told to notify you when we were done with the analysis on the poisoned food!"

Jogun spoke in a high volume, "Ah, Rawkin! Bring in the complete analysis if you have it!" He then returned to his normal speaking voice, "We can discuss the rest later. Possibly this evening. Peter mentioned earlier that he has a full two days left before he must make a decision, so we'll have time."

The other two nodded their heads. Then a soldier with a figure very similar to Jogun's, but younger, walked into the room with a small bundle of paper. He had short dark hair, blue eyes, and a solid build that seemed incredibly well rounded in terms of fitness. He wasn't so bulky that he would suffer mobility, and he wasn't so thin that he wouldn't have power. He also wore a very high end looking set of armour. It wasn't quite as nice as Peter's set, but it was close.

Peter seemed to catch his eye, and the two stared at eachother for a moment. The look on this man's face reminded him of the people who scorned him a couple of days ago when Jogun left him in the training yard alone.

"... that facial expression... is it... Malice?" Peter thought to himself.

Peter used his trait [Powerful Mind], to recall the images and voices he heard that day. He suddenly realized that this guy was one of the first to start watching him, and he was also one of the people throwing insults his way for being a favoured disciple even though his performance was so pitiful.

"But this guy... This guy was especially venomous. What did he say again?" Peter attempted to remember the voices and matched it with Rawkin's, "{"He's so weak. Not even fit to kiss Jogun's boots, never mind get one on one training!"}... Yeah. That WAS him."

Peter's eyes glowed a tiny bit brighter in an unstable way. It was as if the viridian glow that first looked like a round and consistent flashlight, had turned into a small flame. Even though his face was like stone, the eyes gave away the state of his mind.

"[Identify]."

 

Human Level: 49
Male Highest Stat: Endurance

 

[Identify] has risen to Adept level 9!

 

Peter's eyes narrowed slightly, but he held back any hint of surprise from his face.

"Holy crap. That's the highest level I've ever Identified. I'm likely no match for him as I am now. Was his behavior that day, and the dirty look he's giving me now all because I got to train with Jogun?"

Rawkin walked over to the table while keeping eye contact with Peter. He placed the papers in front of Jogun, then asked, "General, do you mind if I ask wh--"

"Thank you Rawkin," Jogun cut him off mid sentence, "Head back to your regular schedule until I call on you."

A clear look of surprise spread on Rawkin's face, and Peter couldn't help but smirk.

"Y...Yes sir," He said, then left the room and closed the door.

Kayel tilted his head to the side and waited for a few seconds after Rawkin left before saying, "That boy really has it out for Peter doesn't he?"

"It really seemed like it just now." Jogun replied.

Both of the older men laughed, but Peter was slightly embarrassed.

"It was that obvious eh?"

Kayel chuckled, "Of course. The tension in the air just now was almost tangible. Did something happen between you two?"

Peter thought for a moment. He didn't want to be a nark, and tell them about the rock incident or that he was hurling insults. He would handle that part of Rawkin himself one day. Nobody was going to take his revenge for him, but he figured letting them know his motivations for being angry was fine.

Before Peter could answer, Jogun chimed in.

"Rawkin is likely envious of him. He approached me many times asking me to train him personally. I turned him down each time," Jogun shrugged, "Mostly because I'm too old to be doing personal training. He's a talented fighter, and always works hard during his shift guarding the border of this town, but I just wanted to relax in my retirement."

"Hahaha. Under normal circumstances a level 0 would never make the cut for lessons with you, so in that way he is right." Kayel responded, then turned to Peter, "Do you want us to handle it?"

"No." Peter said firmly and a few decibels louder, "I will handle it. Even though he's level 49, I feel confident that I'll be able to show him who is more worthy soon enough."

Jogun raised an eyebrow, "Ohh... Level 49 huh. He's almost ready to be sent to the main force then. Thanks for letting us know, Peter."

While Jogun was talking, Kayel had grabbed the poison analysis papers and began reading.

"I guess this was supposed to be used on you. There's a list of some various ingredients.. Ah. Here's the effect: If the full meal was consumed, the consumer would experience extreme drowsiness, and it would drain their [Health] at about 16 per minute for a full hour. The estimated overall damage would be 960, which is lethal to anyone with less than 94 [Vitality] if they had no outside help."

Peter closed his eyes, then held his hand over his mouth to stifle a chuckle. The chuckle turned into a full out laugh which he couldn't hold back anymore.

"Th-That's priceless," He said while wiping a tear from his eye, "I wouldn't have even died from that. The most I would have lost is around 350 [Health]. I have 550! They would have needed to dose me twice!"

While Peter was laughing Jogun and Kayel looked at each other.

"Wait a second, we knew about you being able to regenerate [Health], and [Stamina] much more quickly than normal people, but how do you have 55 [Vitality]?" Jogun said.

He then went over all the gains that he got from the spider pit. Including the two other evolutions, and how [Exo-Skeleton] worked. Then he told them that he currently had an extra 25 [Vitality], 15 [Endurance], 15 [Strength], 20 [Dexterity], and 15 [Perception] just from the set of armour he got from Daalia the tailor, and the item he got from the elite spider.

Their reaction was as if a bomb went off. Kayel immediately covered the room in a soundproof barrier and Jogun yelled at Peter, asking why he hadn't mentioned this all sooner.

"Well, I actually did tell you Jogun. On the way to the spider cage I said that I gained a whole bunch of stats as a bonus for wearing the armour due to a skill!"

Jogun slapped his forehead, "Peter, you said extra stats, but that is... 18 levels worth of stats! No wonder you were able to defeat the elite without magic!"

"Never mind that. We know now Jogun," Kayel spoke while staring at the ground blankly, "We need to take advantage of that skill right now. We're going to the vault armoury right this second. The stronger we can make Peter now, the more likely 'They' will fail in their attempts of assassinating him in the future. They will underestimate him. We need to get him suited up and training right away!"

Kayel stood up, and gestured for the two of them to follow.

 

***

 

All three of them first made their way to the blacksmith's area. They didn't need Chandi's permission to enter the special armoury, but they needed her key. It was her responsibility as head blacksmith to make sure that the vault was safe from intruders, so letting her have the only key made the most sense.

Once they arrived, all the 5 or so regular blacksmiths stopped and stared.

"Is that Master Kayel and General Jogun?" One of them asked.

"Of course it is, but who's the tall one?" Another replied.

Chandi walked out from one of the furnace maintenance area and was surprised to see the three of them. She was covered in a lot of soot, and still had her brown apron around her with a huge set of gloves stuffed in the pocket.  She gave a brief glare around at the other 5 blacksmiths, who all rushed to begin working hard again. She then smiled and walked over to the three of them.

"Master," She gave a small bow to Kayel, "General," She gave a smaller bow to Jogun. But when she got to Peter she visibly brightened. She reached her arms behind her head and untied her apron, then let it fall to the ground. Now that she wasn't covered in as much filth from the smithy, she went in for a hug with Peter.

"Peter! Are you okay? I heard about the attempt on your life this morning, and had a feeling you'd come back! You want in the armoury again don't you?" She said with a small laugh.

Kayel and Jogun smiled and looked at each other with an expression that said: Oh, to be young.

Peter himself was rather surprised. He didn't expect this kind of greeting, but what he didn't know was that Chandi had been keeping up with all the news about him at the Order meetings. She had tons of respect for him already. Some from watching him catch that rock to shut up the mocking crowd a few days ago, and some from his ability to kill an elite monster in the event that she'd heard about in the most recent meeting.

"Y-Yeah aha," To her delight, Peter returned the small hug with one arm, "We came by to get you so I could take a better look."

He was definitely flustered, and bad at hiding it. Chandi taking off her thick leather apron revealed her petite, and toned frame. Working around forges all day must be an excellent work out, because she looked very fit, but not in a 'Buff' way. She was only tall enough for her head to reach his chest even though she was an the average height for a girl if not taller, so Peter felt like he was hugging a cute, energetic puppy.

"Wow," She looked him up and down, "It looks like you gained tons of muscle! You were just a scrawny guy the last time I saw you."

"Haha, well some things happened.." Peter trailed off that sentence with a blush, then thought, "Holy... this is affecting me a lot more than it should."

"I know," She said with an amazed look, "I've heard about your run in with an elite. You should be very proud! Almost nobody is capable of dealing with one while below their level. Figures it would take.." She looked around carefully, then whispered, "An Avatar."

Peter nearly laughed. If only she knew that he hadn't even applied any of those stat points yet. He was still holding on to the main part of what he gained from that fight.

"Alright, quit flirting you two. Chandi, please lead the way to the armoury," Jogun said, finally hearing enough.

Chandi and Peter immediately turned a new shade of red. Peter was about to protest with denial, but Chandi was the first one to respond.

"Ye-Yes Sir!" She said as she grabbed her set of keys from the apron pocket and led the way to the Armoury. Peter looked at her then followed.

The older men followed behind the two while chuckling.

"You really shouldn't tease them too badly." Kayel said with an amused smirk.

"Pfft. If I can't make fun of kids when I'm old, then I have no reason to live!" Jogun retorted.

 

***

 

They made it to the armoury, and Chandi unlocked both doors. Peter entered and saw all the sets of armour on the stands along the walls just as they were before. No new sets have been added to the walls, but there was a large crate in the center of the room. It was easily 6 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 3 feet tall.

"Oh?" Jogun said with surprise, "Did we get a shipment? As far as I was aware, we weren't scheduled to get a shipment for another month or so."

"Yep!" Chandi said with a smile, "It arrived yesterday evening. A different convoy than the usual dropped it off. The guards and the type of convoy were not the usual variety either. They seemed much... scarier."

He walked up to the crate, and pulled off a piece of paper from the side to read what it said.

"What? Th.. This is for Peter, and it's written on royal black parchment. Only the high council at the main branch can use this!" Jogun said with a confused expression.

"But that's impossible! The only way to have a shipment from the main branch arrive now would be for it to have left a few days before Peter arrived." Kayel responded.

Peter walked over, "Here. I would like to read it."

 


This letter is addressed to the Adrestia's blessed one: Peter.

Welcome, Peter!

We, the Order of the Justicar, are very excited and honored to receive you
from our Goddess. We have waited for you, and prepared for many
generations for this very moment in the continents history.

The order has not been slacking over these past few years, and thus
we have set aside a fitting gift for you that was delivered to the temple upon
your arrival.

Inside you will find supplies that will further enhance your growth, and
equipment that is of the highest quality for someone below level 50. Please
use these to increase your strength as you see fit.

Even though the council wished to give you everything we can right
away, we have receive an opposing order from Adrestia herself. She was
the one who notified us, through our priests, that you were to arrive soon.
Her message is as follows:

"My Avatar is to arrive within the week. You will receive him with a gift of items
at your discretion, but not over the rank of level 50.
 
True strength can not be cultivated by providing Peter with everything that

my order can bestow. In order to allow him to realize his full potential, he must
find his own way."

In accordance with Adrestia's wish: You will not be allowed to seek further
assistance from the order after you officially leave the temple township. The
only exception to this is if your life is in immediate danger. In the future when
you reach level 150, you may contact the order to receive another crate with
another set of equipment and items that will be useful to you then.

We apologize if this upsets you, blessed one.
It is not our decision to make at this point. We follow Adrestia first and foremost.

We wish you Adrestia's favour in your journey.
- = The Council of Seven = -


 

Peter was very surprised reading the message.

"I... I guess I'm supposed to take this as a 'mother bird' kicking her 'chick' out of the nest to force it to fly?"

He handed it over to Kayel to read, who held it a little lower so Chandi could read it as well. She was a member of the temple council, so she had the appropriate standing to read the message.

Various emotions between astonishment, and anger flashed on their faces.

Chandi was the first to speak, "I... I don't believe it. Can they just abandon him like this?"

Kayel was the one who spoke in their defense, "Number 1: This is Adrestia's choice, not theirs. And 2: This is most likely the best option for Peter."

A very serious looking Jogun said, "I, for one, have concerns. I think this is reckless. Is there any way to verify this is real?"

"It's real," Peter said, "I know without a doubt that this is from her. She knew my name was Peter, and the letter from the Order actually has my name. Jogun, how long does it take for a convoy to reach this temple from wherever this was sent?"

He looked up from the black paper, "... At least 7 days. Realistically this note was written over 9 days ago."

Peter smiled, "That has to be her then. How could they have known my name days before I arrived?"

Jogun was still clearly upset. He felt that Peter was just too weak at the moment to abandon. The whole temple/township was built and prepared as a 'landing zone' for their Avatar, and was set up in a harsh environment so that the location of the temple would remain hidden. If they were to just boot him out of the township now, he wouldn't be able to survive in the jungle alone. The elite spider was strong, but monsters that make that spider look harmless were out there.

Peter walked up to Jogun and put a hand on his shoulder, "Friend, read the note more carefully. They never specified when I have to leave this town. If you're worried for me, then you just need to make sure I'm ready before I leave!"

*wink*

The three of them processed the loophole that Peter pointed out, then began to smile. Whether that loophole in the directions was left intentionally by the high council or not was unknown, but it was there.  

"..ahaha, Excellent! Yes!" Kayel began to smile, "They did not give us exact directions on the time table did they?"

Chandi smiled and looked towards the crate, "I don't know about you two, but I want to see what the council is capable of putting together as a gift for their 'Blessed Avatar.' Ahaha."

 

***

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A note from Excalionar

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


Special note to the fans: I've rewritten Prologue part 1: The Test. I've come a long way as a writer, and that was my FIRST ever attempt at writing period. I figured I owed it to you guys to rewrite it for clarity. Check it out if you feel like it!


Spoiler: Follow up to Ch.14's footnote:

 

 

 


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Excalionar

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