Randidly began ripping through paths as his skill level shot up. He began with Pathless IV, which gave him 1 stat point at 5 and 10.
Congratulations! You have completed the Pathless IV Path! +3 stat(s). You have realized that all paths are the same, and all paths lead to the same place.
In a rare conversation between them during training, Randidly asked Shal whether he had any further recommendations about stat distribution. Shall just snorted and spun his spear, the spearhead ripping through the muscle of Randidly’s shoulder.
So after careful consideration, Randidly decided to return to his initial plans of raising his skills at mage craft. So 3 of the stats went into Int, 1 into Control and Focus.
But Randidly didn’t stop there. The training had had truly unfathomable results; Randidly had more than enough PP to complete Pathless V, Pathless VI, and Pathless VII.
Altogether, they gave 25 stats. 10 went into Int, and 5 to Control, Focus, and End. End was due to the fact that as Randidly’s skills expanded, he began to use an increasing amount of stamina just to fight. The brief skirmish with the howler monkey had disturbed him.
The day after, Randidly unleashed his magic with wild abandon, throwing out Mana Bolts as fast as he could. None of them landed, but their strength definitely caught Shal’s eye. And the boost in power was enough to give Shal pause.
That day Randidly’s mana based training shifted, and the Howler Monkey’s became his new training partners. It was less of an exercise in him overcoming, but more of him surviving. Entangling Roots and Mana Shield underwent a baptism of constant use, their skill level rising quickly.
Mana Bolt became Randidly’s bread and butter, the increase in his Int was enough that a direct hit to the face of a Howler Monkey would stun them, giving him time to escape.
Struggling in this new environment, Randidly completed Pathless VIII, which netted him 11 stat points to distribute. These all went into Control. Shal began forcing Randidly deeper and deeper into the forest, and now it was a common occurrence for 7-8 monkeys to be chasing him down. He couldn’t afford to miss. That would mean being caught. And being caught led to one thing.
There was only one time that this was close to happening. The combined rock throws and a tackle by a monkey had broken through his mana shield and brought him to the ground.
The monkey had a rock in hand and brought it smashing down towards Randidly’s head. He reflexively activated Iron Skin, but he still felt something crack when the rock struck him.
Although Randidly was dizzy, he still instantly produced the dagger he had found inside the snake, but the monkey reacted quickly, using his free arm to catch Randidly’s wrist. Because it was so unexpected, Randidly did nothing for several seconds, he just laid there, gaping.
The howler monkey, screaming its glee, raised its stone and brought it down again.
Again Randidly activated Iron Skin, but the pain in his head grew only larger, the vision in his left eye fading to black.
For a split second, Randidly wondered whether this would be the point that he died. He felt somehow instinctively that Shal would not save him.
So as the monkey lifted the rock up, Randidly used his free hand to withdraw the snake tooth he had taken from the dead snake, and stuffed it into the eye of the Howler Monkey’s eye.
Immediately it began screaming, and Randidly shoved it off him and scrambled to his feet. Gritting his teeth to resist the nausea, Randidly glanced at Shal, who watched him coolly in the distance, and used the Phantom Half Step to cross half the distance. Immediately he turned to the right, using his good eye to land a couple Entangling Roots on those monkeys close enough to be a threat.
Then he stumbled the rest of the way passed Shal and back to the safe room, where he meditated for several hours to recover.
When he opened his eyes, Shal was standing there.
“You were not going to save me,” Randidly said slowly, watching for a reaction from Shal. Shal simply shrugged.
“If you had died, it was only because you are too weak.”
So the training continued. At around 2 and a half weeks, a few days after the monkey incident, Randidly reached the point that he could meditate while doing most actions. Using active skills broke it, but otherwise, he could maintain the passive bonus while generally sparing with Shal.
Sparring was a strong word for it, honestly; mostly it was just Randidly blocking and dodging, but still. He could now survive a lot longer against the onslaught of attacks from Shal.
The next big change came when Randidly got his mana bolt skill to 20, unlocking the mana bolt path. Still, Randidly continued to go the the pathless paths, feeling strangely connected to them now, after grinding his way to here.
Pathless IX was 25, and earned Randidly 14 stat points. After some thought, he ended up throwing all of the points in wisdom, which provided a pretty significant boost to his mana regeneration.
Pathless X jumped all the way up to 50, and it filled Randidly with a thread of excitement. He threw himself into training, working his way through the different spear moves, focusing on the Spear Phantom’s footwork and Phantom thrust. That, combined with marginal improvements in the level of Physical Fitness and Meditation, was enough to finish the Path.
Congratulations! You have completed the Pathless X Path! +2 Health/Mana/Stamina per level! +1 Stat per level! You have realized that all paths are the same, and all paths lead to the same place. And that the path continues ever onward…
Randidly allowed himself a wry grin. So, he still had more to go…
Inside his path screen, he saw that he now had access to the path “Pathless” without a roman numeral, and it had 100 next to it. He had a few spare PP after finishing it, but…
But then he just laughed out loud. If he would get it, it would only be by going all the way, one step at a time. No reason to hold back now.
He put 3 PP into Pathless and followed Shal deeper into the forest, to find more monkeys.