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A note from puddles4263

10/14

The air was hot here, and heavy. Hank very clearly felt the shape of his tongue in his mouth as he attempted to shape the words.

"I won't deny that killing may... become necessary," Hank said slowly. This was a mission for his country, and he had to accomplish it, regardless of the misshapen tools he was given. That was his burden to bear. "But if I find out you killed someone just to feed your Class... the next person to die will be you."

"That would be a relief," Ezekiel breathed. Before Hank could formulate a reply, a loud shout cut across the rocky area with such force that the ground seemed to rumble in commiseration. It was an expression that was so powerful that it was more natural force than anything else. And when Hank heard the words, his eyes widened.

"GOD FUCKING DAMMIT!!!"

****

"GOD FUCKING DAMMIT!!!" Randidly bellowed, his eyes blazing. He slammed his foot into the ground, and everything trembled. That just made Randidly more annoyed; even the land here in the borderlands was annoyingly resilient. "THAT FUCKING OGRE."

"Limp dick, limp dick," Neveah sang in a soft voice, skipping next to him, imitating the Ogre after it realized that Randidly, even when utilizing Inspiration, could only slay one of its three heads at once. The fucking thing was delighted. Each head was scared that they would be the eliminated one, but the loser would regenerate within 12 hours, which was shorter than the cooldown for Inspiration. It was an especially frustrating conclusion after an almost 20-hour slog through armies of lesser ogres, only to find that for all Randidly's gifts, he didn't have quite enough offense to burn through the Ogre's defenses, both Skill related and purely physical.

He supposed that the Level 70 wasn't just for show. But that didn't make it any easier to stomach.

Randidly wanted to beat up on someone to expend some of the wild helplessness he felt. He tossed Acri to the side, and his living plant spear snapped out of its rigid shape to scurry away. Similarly, Randidly reached back and grabbed sulfur, his amorphous lava plant armor that he wore underneath his bone cloak. The plant already understood and flowed around Randidly into a ball to be cast off. After relieving himself of his burdens, his eyes were sharp as he turned to Neveah.

Hurriedly, she shook her bonehead side to side and dashed off, "I promise to play catch with Tykes. He waits for me."

The image of Tykes' face when Neveah forced the man to play catch with her did fill Randidly with enough good cheer to chuckle. When she learned of the practice of throwing a ball back and force to bond from Randidly, she was delighted and immediately approached Tykes, curious about the ritual. Tykes was initially dismissive. How could she handle his dense metal ball that he spent every night reinforcing and pounding together?

He seemed to have forgotten that of them all, Neveah was the true monster. In terms of the physical stats, she made even Randidly sweat. Which was why she would have made a good sparring partner. But no matter-

Randidly's eyes sharpened. In his poor mood after a wasted day, he hadn't been paying attention to their surroundings. He dearly wanted to capture a Fate Crystal, to see what effect it would have. But it appeared that they had guests.

Unfamiliar ones.

The Zone that had completed their Raid Boss first? The Creature would have a hand there. Making contact was a good thing, although it would push up his timeline by quite a bit. Still, perhaps that was a good thing.

Randidly had spent the past 6 months constantly throwing himself in the most dangerous situations that he could, sharpening himself and his combat-related Skills as much as he could. And the results... well...

They spoke for themselves.

Randidly Ghosthound

Class: Planting of the Forest of Enmity (+x5)

Level: 24 (81%)

Health(/R per hour): 3001/3033 [+730] (1447 [+165])

Mana(/R per hour): 2341/3346 (684 [+9])

Stam(/R per min): 2499/2894 [+60] (472 [+45])

Vit: 312 (+15)

End: 153 (+20)

Str: 307 (+52)

Agi: 332 (+24)

Perception: 356 (+20)

Reaction: 322 (+15)

Resistance: 267 (+45)

Willpower: 395 (+10)

Intelligence: 325

Wisdom: 299 (+9)

Control: 554

Focus: 293 (+4)

Progenitor’s Influence: 9168

Skills (Soul Skill): Seven Lands of the Spectral Tree Lvl 1122

Combat: Spear Mastery Lvl 178, White Phantom’s Half-Step (Un) Lvl 73, Heavy Blow Lvl 94, Dagger Mastery Lvl 10, Iron Skin Lvl 47, Dodge Lvl 98, Fighting Proficiency Lvl 137, Block Lvl 74, Phantom Onslaught Lvl 42, Sweep Lvl 54, Spear Deflect Lvl 10, Calculated Blow Lvl 89, Roundhouse Kick Lvl 65, Idiosyncratic Cut (Un) Lvl 99, Pierce the Skies, Shatter the Earth Lvl 57, Body Control: Freeze Lvl 37, Stalemate Breaker Lvl 29, Talon Strike Lvl 38, Counter Lvl 51

PoFE Class Skills: Plant Dominance ® Lvl 106, Spray Holy Sap (Un) Lvl 9, Sharpness Lvl 69, Call Grove Defenders ® Lvl 34, Earthquake (Un) Lvl 43, Invigorating Call (Humanity)(Un) Lvl 14, Four-Shaded Domain (A) Lvl 29, Phantom’s Lantern (Un) Lvl 33, Grasp of Lava ® Lvl 67, Erode Image (L) Lvl 6, Vengeful Bloom (Un) Lvl 19, Galant Intervention (Human) Lvl 4, Spriggit’s Tinkering ® Lvl 1, Aether Understanding (A) Lvl 39, Summon Lava Golem (Un) Lvl 22, Aether Infusion Lvl 41

The 7 Kata of the Ashen Spear (Ru): The Spear Advances, Ash Trails Lvl 81, As the Sun Stills ® Lvl 1

The 6 Signs of the Spear Phantom ®: The First Sign- The Inevitable Phantom Arrives Lvl 101 (Un), The Fifth Sign- The Wild Phantom’s Embrace (A) Lvl 180, The Sixth Sign- The Breath of the Spear Phantom ® Lvl 49

Aether Skills: Aether Detection Lvl 87, Aether Manipulation Lvl 97, Living Aether ® Lvl 93, System Interference Lvl 10

Spells: Spearing Roots Lvl 85, Mana Bolt Lvl 28, Mana Shield Lvl 32, Arcane Orb Lvl 22, Fireball Lvl 30, Magic Missile Lvl 4, Healing Palm Lvl 12, Pollen of the Rafflesia Lvl 20, Summon Pestilence Lvl 54, Wall of Thorns Lvl 29, Yggdrasil Soul Seed ®, Inspiration ®, Incinerating Bolt Lvl 91, Circle of Flame Lvl 75, Plantomancy Lvl 35, Hammer of the Dawn Lvl 37, Burning Footsteps Lvl 23, Ashes to Ashes (A) Lvl 49, Touch from Beyond ® Lvl 24, Gravity Affinity Lvl 36, Incendiary Eruption Lvl 22

Crafting: Potion Making Lvl 47, Farming Lvl 32, Plant Breeding Lvl 19, Mapmaker Lvl 7, Analyze Lvl 29, Refine Lvl 39, Extract Lvl 29, Mana Engraving Lvl 99

Yggdrasil: Glittering Leaves of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 105, The Golden Roots of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 125, the Emerald Sap of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 130, the Yyrwood Flesh of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 127, the Indomitable Spirit of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 127, the Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 111

Auxiliary: Sneak Lvl 46, Acid Resistance Lvl 22, Poison Resistance Lvl 21, Pain Resistance Lvl 61, First Aid Lvl 16, Pathfinding Lvl 18, Fire Resistance Lvl 83, Sewing Lvl 11, Cutting Vegetables Lvl 2, Manual Labor Lvl 6, Digging Lvl 5, Cooking Lvl 63, Clockwork Mastery Lvl 16, Aether Connection (A) Lvl 15, Soul Bond Lvl 99, Chef’s Palette Lvl 24, Nether Resistance Lvl 13, Child of the Rain (Un) Lvl 16, Chosen of Fire ® Lvl 34

But completing the First Legend Path had revealed some disturbing news.

When he had completed it, Randidly had been given +5 stats per Level as a reward, which made him very glad he had paused in his Leveling spree in preparation for going back to Shal's world. But in addition, he received another, more disturbing notification.

Congratulations! There are three great barriers every species must overcome. The first is mental; do you deserve this? The second is a test of outlook; can you dominate this? The third is the very limits of the species; are you more than this?

The first lock on humanity, preventing them from Leveling past 50, has already been unlocked by an individual who created a Runic Rarity Skill. You have now unlocked the second lock, by creating a Legendary Skill. The final lock will be unlocked when a Skill surpassing the Legendary Rating has been created.

Congratulations! You have unlocked Domain Type Skills for Humanity. Although Pseudo-Domains were possible in the past, these shall truly warp the world around you in battle. Only one Domain Style Skill may be cultivated per person.

That meant there was someone out there who had created a Runic Skill, which wasn’t quite so impressive, but also gone through the Path to unlock its reward, and the general lock at the end of it. In addition, they likely also received a boost to growth like Randidly had, although he sincerely doubted that it would be as large as his. And above that, a Skill with a Rarity beyond Legendary probably provided an even larger bonus…

Randidly breathed in, and then out, letting most of his anger fall away. For now, he needed to interact with these new arrivals and find out what was going on in there Zone. With enough information, it would be possible to embed himself there and attempt to find something out about the Creature’s activity there.

There was no way in hell a successful Zone like this had escaped the Creature’s reach.

Several unfamiliar figures were rushing over towards Randidly likely drawn by his swearing earlier. Randidly could almost blush. He didn’t want to be a stern leader of a Zone, but also, a furious youth that had trouble controlling his temper was another image he didn’t really want to possess…

Then Randidly froze.

A figure from the other party, a figure who must have been in Zone 1, froze as well.

“Rand?” Ezekiel Ghosthound said softly, his eyes wide.

“...Dad?”

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