Before Randidly started his image training in earnest, he had something he needed to do that he had waited quite a while to get to: spending his PP. He hadn’t earned enough PP to unlock the next batch of PP he siphoned off from the denizens of his Soulskill, but he had certainly earned quite a bit.
Again, most of his growth was due to the fact he simply had so many Skills that were slowly increasing in proficiency. Although chunks of it came from things like Spriggit Tinkering, Visualization, and Riders of the Baleful Wood which grew over five Skill Levels each, much of it came from his already high-Level Skill that increased by one to three Levels.
There were a few notable exceptions, however.
Aether Detection had grown by 10 Skill Levels, which wasn’t insignificant considering how it had already broken through level 100. Likely it was due to the constant searches Randidly did to find Roy. Plus, his high-speed scans of the interference that a Fate had on his senses probably helped.
The biggest growth by far was Ignition of the Emerald Essence, which grew by 20 Skill Levels, putting it at Level 99. His image and power with it were growing at the rate that it was becoming one of his most versatile weapons to use against distant foes.
Plus, it grew along with his relatively diverse group of Skills related to using it: Reach of the Jade Slag, Ignition Bolt, Verdant Nova, and Eruption of the Blazing Leyline. Because it touched all of those Skills, it was easy for it to grow quickly and increase all of their individual power by raising the quality of the flames.
The Crown of Upheaval and Gloom was another Skill that gained ten Skill Levels. His usage during his time in the Frogpeople world was almost constant. It would be surprising if he hadn’t grown it by a fair margin.
And of course, much to Randidly’s chagrin, another large gain was in Child of Rain, which had grown by 12 Skill Levels. Although the pitter-patter in the world of the Frogpeople had ended up being exceedingly obnoxious, it honestly constant experience. Randidly couldn’t complain too much.
Overall, Randidly ended with 312 PP. Which was more than enough to finish up his Ashen Aura I Path.
Congratulations! As your way forward becomes clouded with sulfur and ash, you have not faltered. You walk forward, passing through the deep darkness of the air to emerge on a higher plane. Yet as you continue, a fraction of that chaos you have walked through clings to your figure. Around you… Ash will always follow. Willpower and Resistance +10! Control +20! You have learned the Skill Aura of Ash.
Congratulations! Aura of Ash has been absorbed into the previously held Skill, All is Ash. New functionality added: For a small cost, conjure an aura of Ash around yourself. This Ash can be formed and shaped. Effect increases with Skill Level.
The stats were nice, but Randidly would need to test how much the added functionality was worth. Because he hadn’t gained any sort of Stats during the Path itself, the reward was surprisingly low.
To the point of being disappointing.
But haven’t you been thinking about the limits of Stats lately? Randidly thought sardonically. But then he shrugged. That didn’t mean they still weren’t useful. So instead Randidly turned to the choices for his next Path.
Heretic XXIX 0/???, Nexus Traveler Cohort 5 0/50, Experimenter I 0/50, System Transgressor 0/1, Friend to Humanity 0/100, Mantle of the Patron 0/500, Metallurgist 0/300, Advanced Mana Engraving 0/400, Aether Convergence II ???, Perfect Soul Bond 0/1000, the Bell of Doom Tolls 0/600, Growth of Yggdrasil III 0/2000, Fiery Sharpshooter 0/350, The Ashes of Ulaat, Patron of Ash 0/1000, Order Ducis: Font of Guidance ???, Humanity’s Torch 0/500, Bearing of a Teacher ???, Puppet Master 0/100, Mana Lich 0/500, Ashen Aura II 0/???
Of the choices, a few held his attention: Metallurgist, Advanced Mana Engraving, Aether Convergence II, Perfect Soul Bond, Growth of Yggdrasil III, and The Ashes of Ulaat, Patron of Ash.
Metallurgist and Advanced Mana Engraving appealed to Randidly because they would give him an edge within the two fields of production that Randidly was going to focus: forging metals and Engraving. Both were probably Paths that Randidly would take eventually, assuming that he had almost infinite PP coming his way from his Soulskill.
Which Randidly was trying not to get overexcited about, but his anticipation was already growing...
Aether Convergence and Perfect Soulbound were also related by motivation. Randidly wished to increase his understanding and talent with Aether, which meant strengthening his connection with Neveah, who seemed born into it. Especially after seeing the tightly knit constructs of Aether that were used by the System to create Patrons, Randidly was intrigued.
The final two options… were much more significant PP commitments. The Ashes of Ulaat, Patron of Ash would give Randidly some insight on the journey that Ulaat took. In addition, it might give him further insight into the Second Calamity. Finally, it would also give him an extra boost to his image of Ash.
Compared to the other images, Randidly had much less experience shaping his image of Ash. If anything, it was him that had been forcibly shaped by that image after it had been dumped into his core. Therefore, it was difficult for Randidly to know how to proceed with Ash. Some guidance would do a lot to advance his power.
And of them all… Growth of Yggdrasil was the Path that Randidly wanted to pursue the most. Somehow, Randidly knew that following that Path would let him be able to break through the limits of rarity that he was pressing up against currently. Although he didn’t know what was waiting beyond that limit, breaking through would help Earth.
But like a challenge, the finishing cost of 2000 hung heavy over him. Bearing his teeth, Randidly considered that number. 2000… isn’t a short amount of time. Perhaps I’ll get a big chunk of that from my Soulskill… but if I don’t…
Other options were safer. Randidly’s lids lowered until his eyes were half-closed. It was all a matter of choosing the option that would bring him the most benefit now…
Ultimately, Randidly picked Advanced Mana Engraving. 400 was a large amount of PP, but manageable, especially considering he would soon challenge Donnyton, then fight against the Judgement. Likely after those two trials, he would have the requisite PP to finish the Path and move onto another.
Perhaps Randidly would even then have time to focus for a longer period of time on Mana Engraving or metal smelting. It would certainly be a change of pace to have some downtime while they waited for enough Zones to connect to Earth to move on toward the next phase of the System.
Besides, he had gained a lot in terms of Visualization and images from his practice in Mana Engraving. Since that was the focus he was working toward at the moment, any small bit of additional efficacy would help.
Randidly’s remaining 184 PP was enough to put a fair dent into the Path as well. And earned him 1 Wisdom and 1 Focus every 10 PP placed into it. Randidly grinned. This is more like it.
Then he took a look at his own status.
Class: Lord of the Baleful Wood (+x5)
Level: 44 (81%)
Health(/R per hour): 5046/5246 (2531)
Mana(/R per hour): 3986/5661 (1999)
Stam(/R per min): 4713/5069 (820)
Skills (Soul Skill): Figure of the Alpha Cosmos Lvl 1184
Combat: Spear Mastery Lvl 201, White Phantom’s Half-Step (Un) Lvl 95, Heavy Blow Lvl 115, Iron Skin Lvl 47, Dodge Lvl 112, Fighting Experience (Un) Lvl 159, Block Lvl 77, Phantom Onslaught Lvl 42, Calculated Blow Lvl 105, Roundhouse Kick Lvl 77, Idiosyncratic Cut (Un) Lvl 120, Stalemate Breaker Lvl 70, Talon Strike Lvl 90, Counter Lvl 86, Flowing Momentum Lvl 9
LoBW Class Skills: Grasp of the World Seed (L) Lvl 225, Spray Holy Sap (Un) Lvl 27, Sharpness Lvl 116, Earthquake (Un) Lvl 48, Invigorating Call (Humanity)(Un) Lvl 14, Reach of the Jade Slag (Ru) Lvl 106, Erode Image (L) Lvl 30, Spriggit’s Tinkering ® Lvl 96, Aether Understanding (A) Lvl 71, Aether Infusion Lvl 47, Volatile Ash (A) Lvl 36, Visualization ® Lvl 190, Fruit of the Planting of Enmity (L) Lvl 31, Absolute Timing (Ru) Lvl 63, Cycle of the Gloomy Wood ® Lvl 34, Riders of the Baleful Court (A) Lvl 55, Lantern of Harsh Truths ® Lvl 19
The 7 Kata of the Ashen Spear (L): The Spear Advances, Ash Trails Lvl 108, As the Sun Stills (A) Lvl 80, When a Shadow Departs, Fireflies Dance (Un) Lvl 65, All is Ash (L) Lvl 102, Frigid Ash, Extinguishing Storm (Ru) Lvl 59
The 6 Signs of the Spear Phantom ®: The First Sign- The Inevitable Phantom Arrives Lvl 120 (Un), The Fifth Sign- The Wild Phantom’s Embrace (A) Lvl 197, The Sixth Sign- The Breath of the Spear Phantom ® Lvl 84
Aether Skills: Aether Detection Lvl 132, Aether Manipulation Lvl 124, Living Aether ® Lvl 112, System Interference Lvl 40
Spells: Yggdrasil Soul Seed ®, Inspiration ®, Ignition Bolt ® Lvl 108, Verdant Nova (Un) Lvl 81, Burning Footsteps Lvl 23, Touch from Beyond ® Lvl 37, Influence of the Molten Core ® Lvl 87, Eruption of the Blazing Leyline (Ru) Lvl 88, Ignition of the Emerald Essence (L) Lvl 99
Crafting: Potion Making Lvl 73, Farming Lvl 34, Analyze Lvl 29, Refine Lvl 72, Extract Lvl 58, Mana Engraving Lvl 197
Yggdrasil, the Tree of Upheaval: Glittering Leaves of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 135, The Golden Roots of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 163, the Emerald Sap of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 153, the Yyrwood Flesh of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 179, the Deific Mien of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 149, the Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 149, Crown of Yggdrasil: Cataclysm and Gloom (L) Lvl 113
Auxiliary: Sneak Lvl 56, Acid Resistance Lvl 22, Poison Resistance Lvl 21, Pain Resistance Lvl 92, Fire Resistance Lvl 109, Sewing Lvl 11, Digging Lvl 5, Cooking Lvl 77, Clockwork Mastery Lvl 26, Aether Connection (A) Lvl 21, Soul Bond Lvl 115, Chef’s Palette Lvl 33, Nether Resistance Lvl 20, Child of the Rain (Un) Lvl 59, Chosen of Ash (A) Lvl 135, Engineering Savvy ® Lvl 114, From Darkness, Genesis ® Lvl 16, (Domain) Crossroads of the Alpha Cosmos Lvl 54, Connection to the Alpha Cosmos (U)
Randidly cracked his knuckles. Honestly, he felt sorry for Donnyton.
They wouldn’t even know what hit them.