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Shal gave Randidly a long look, then finally sighed. “I suppose it is time. You now have enough strength not to embarrass me. Let us leave this place.

It had reached the point that Randidly was about to fight against several Howler Monkeys and win. His mana bolts sizzled their flesh and stunned them, his phantom thrusts and heavy blows slowly whittling down their health.

Randidly glanced at his status screen.

Randidly Ghosthound

Class: ---

Level: N/A

Health(/R per hour): 206/200 [+6] (63.75 [+9])

Mana(/R per hour): 139/139 (43.5)

Stam(/R per min): 105/105 (24 [+3])

Vit: 17 [+3]

End: 27

Str: 8

Agi: 26 [+3]

Perception: 18

Reaction: 23

Resistance: 9

Willpower: 50

Inteligence: 39

Wisdom: 26

Control: 21

Focus: 16

Equipment: Average Leather Tunic Lvl 5: (+2 Vit), Gloves of Quickness (Vit +1. Agi +3)

Paths: Newbie 7/7, P.Def 10/10, M.Supp 10/10, Risk Taker 15/15, Basic Physical Fitness 20/20, Trainee 15/15, Wandering Survivor 20/20, Pathless I 5/5, Pathless II 5/5, Pathless III 10/10 ,Pathfinder 15/15, Disciple of Shal 37/37, Pathless IV 10/10, Pathless V 15/15, Pathless VI 15/15, Pathless VII 20/20, Pathless VIII 20/20, Pathless IX 25/25, Pathless X 50/50, Pathless 79/100

Skills: Running: Lvl 9, Physical Fitness Lvl 17, Sneak Lvl 6, Farming Lvl 17, Mana Bolt Lvl 20, Heavy Blow Lvl 14, Acid Resistance Lvl 13, Poison Resistance Lvl 9, Sprinting Lvl 11, Iron Skin Lvl 19, Equip Lvl 12, Plant Breeding Lvl 9, Meditation Lvl 23, Dagger Mastery Lvl 8, Entangling Roots Lvl 21, Mana Shield Lvl 16, Dodge Lvl 22, Potion Making Lvl 18, Analyze Lvl 7, Pathfinding Lvl 3, Mapmaker Lvl 1, Spear Mastery Lvl 33, Phantom Thrust Lvl 27, Pain Resistance Lvl 9, Fighting Proficiency Lvl 19, First Aid Lvl 13, Block Lvl 23, Spear Phantom’s Footwork Lvl 19, Eyes of the Spear Phantom Lvl 9, Phantom Half-Step Lvl 3

He was getting close to finishing the Pathless path, but the rate of improvement was definitely slowing. It had been almost 2 months since the training had began, and whether it was physique, mindset, or work ethic, Randidly was incomparable to the way he was before.

Gathering his things, Randidly followed Shal away from the safe room. To his surprise, they went towards the webbing covered area, where the strange, giant spider had set up shop. As they passed through the groves of trees wrapped in webs, Randidly reflexively activated the skill Eyes of the Spear Phantom, burning a small amount of stamina, but sharpening his vision to a degree he would have believed impossible before the strange system descended over the world.

But things had changed. He had changed.

So when the first spiderling leapt out from the brush, Randidly had seen it coming a mile away, and speared it cleanly through the chest, killing it instantly. The small things were only Lvl 12, and Randidly wasn’t sure how much status point one gained while leveling up, but his skill levels made this sort of enemy just too simple.

Shal didn’t even look up, calmly striding forward while the spiderlings began leaping out in twos or threes. But he did calmly remark, “Although, if one touches even the hem of my cloak, perhaps we can revisit the sufficiency of your current pain tolerance training.”

Had he been the same Randidly as he had been two extremely long months ago, he might have paled. If he had been the Randidly a few weeks after that, as the training started, he might have gasped.

The current Randidly just narrowed his eyes and got to work, his spear blurring to intercept all comers.

***

As they stepped over the corpses of dozens of spiderlings to reach the inner sanctum of the spider, the tree that had grown the source of Randidly’s potions, Shal stopped.

“You are running low on resources for your potion, yes? Fetch some. And bring me the head of the guardian.”

There was a demand in Shal’s voice, but Randidly just nodded and walked forward slowly. His sharpened eyes immediately picked out the camouflaged form of the giant spider, hiding in the canopy of the largest tree. The fearsome Lvl 37 hovered above its head in Randidly’s vision, as well as a strange purple coloring to its name.

Clearly this type of enemy was unusual.

As if sensing his thoughts, Shal spoke from the edge of the clearing. “The coloring is something you will come to know. White, Green, Blue,  Purple, Red, Orange. Common, Uncommon, Rare, Ancient, Runic, Legendary. It describes items as well enemies. There is also pink, which is unique, but that is reserved for extremely rare spawns and the Dungeon Boss. The fact that an Ancient enemy is here, in a level 35 dungeon… well… It must have wandered in from somewhere else. Somewhere much more dangerous. Good luck.”

Randidly stepped forward, without hesitation, raising his spear. After training with Shal’s merciless attacks, he couldn’t even help himself. As he walked closer, the spider first hissed, and then began to slowly climb down, spiderlings skittering out of the surrounding trees to rush towards Randidly.

Without batting an eye, 5 mana bolts shot forward, slamming into the giant spider. It howled in annoyance, the speed of its descent increasing. Randidly calmly dispatched any approaching spiderlings, always advancing, Shal’s voice whispering into the back of his mind.

‘He who stops, dies.’

Then the spiderlings were all dead, and the spider reared up and spat acid towards Randidly. He stepped to the side, employing the foot work taught to him by Shal, and then stepped closer. Although some splashed on him and stung slightly, his acid resistance was high enough that he could almost completely ignored non-direct contact with that substance. The spider spun its body and lashed out with its legs, but Randidly just ducked under and calmly executed a phantom thrust, the spider’s carapace cracking slightly. It hissed and lashed out again.

****

An hour later, the spider’s armor was covered in dents and cracks, its moves sluggish as it slowly tired out. Randidly was also tired mentally, but his controlled movements kept his stamina high enough for him to continuously perform. Dodge, dodge, approach, thrust. Dodge, Dodge, approach, thrust. And while each hit was negligible, the damage continued to accumulate.

This time, when Randidly struck, he punctured forward enough that a strange green fluid began dripping out of the hole in the spider’s carapace.

***

Three hours later, there was a large hole in the armor that Randidly began to target to inflict more damage.

An hour after that, the spider had began keeping the legs on that side close together, protecting the wound.

By the time another half hour had passed, the reduced mobility on the spider’s part, due to its leg strategy, meant there were two fresh holes in its armor.

Filled with fury, the spider spat acid everywhere. Randidly felt his health start to fall, but he ignored the pain and coldly calculated the damage, and came to a single conclusion. He would survive. Ignoring the vicious acid that would give most others pause, he continued to chip away.

Fully 9 hours later, with a sigh, the spider collapsed.

Randidly instinctively leaped backwards, his mind dull, but his responses drilled into him. But when the spider did not move, he blinked and straightened.

“Good. A little over 15 hours is embarrassing, but it is better to have a worthless pupil than a dead one. Rest, we depart in 5 hours.”

Boneless, Randidly fell to the ground. But in his mind, he felt a hint of glee.

‘It is possible,’ he thought to himself. ‘To make up the difference in power with just skill…’

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