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Randidly didn’t gain anything for 4 hours aside from the profound satisfaction for finally getting to experience the perverse joy of forcing someone to go through the torment Shal had subjected him to. It was also nice to reassure himself that Donny wasn’t just a sack of shit, and also possessed some backbone, but really the profound joy from stepping into Shal’s brutal shoes was the true reward at the end of the day.

That, and of course some skill levels.

He had decided to put more effort into increasing the utility of his Root Manipulation skill, and had begun allocating stat points into control to increase its usefulness. This also seemed to have a very small effect on the mana expenditure using the roots, although once more Randidly was confused whether his control made him more efficient, or his higher control made the mana use more efficient.

He was quite pleased with the 2 skill levels he had earned in 4 hours on that front. Calculated Blow had risen to 4, and Randidly was beginning to sense the weak points of the imps and lizards that he fought. Not that he really needed them...

In addition, Empower had increased to level 6, and Randidly was swiftly learning that although the stamina cost was pretty debilitative in an extended fight, it was oppresively powerful. He planned to practice using it while performing spear forms, and spear footwork. If he could master it…

But Randidly knew that the real way to grow was not training here. And to that end, after dropping off a sobbing Donny onto Chubbs lap, Randidly headed due east, away from the town, towards what used to be a lake.

Now there was only sloping hills that gave way to a cracked plateau, noticeably devoid of people. Randidly suspected there must be an edge to the “safe zone”. He didn’t think the entire map was really a safe zone, just that many probably sprung up around people, giving them a chance at life.

But beyond that, in this wide area….

Randidly gained a point in Pathfinding and Mapmaking as he reached the edge of what the map was telling him was a place that was safe to be. Beyond that point, the map was tinged red.

Grinning, Randidly stepped over the line, and began to creep forward, falling into habits he had picked up in the dungeon. Spear out, Eyes of the Spear Phantom constantly activated, scanning the surrounding ground.

And it was a good thing that he was prepared, because when the enemy came, it came fast.

It was a bolt of fur and snarls, rushing at Randidly’s blindspot. He spun quickly, Mana shield activating instantly, but the creature smashed through the shield within a second.

Randidly’s eyes narrowed, his blood roaring in his ears. But all he felt was elation.

Yes… it was always like this, wasn’t it…

His spear shot forward, utilizing Heavy Blow and Phantom Thrust, the attack almost impossible to see with the naked eye, but the black bolt simply flowed around it, a flash of light on its claws the only signal that an attack was coming.

Entangling Roots activated, huge roots rushing upwards to grip the slippery thing. But it hopped to the side, its momentum almost completely maintained as it rushed forward.

But this time Randidly was ready. As the creature made its leap to the side, Randidly attacked again, throwing everything he had at the monster. Phantom Onslaught. Haste, Empower. A dozen stabs ripped forward towards the ever so slightly off balance creature, and although it was slippery, several long gashes were left on the creature's body, slowing it.

Although Entangling Roots made roots and grasped with them, they slowly stiffened after the spell was cast, until the mana supporting them disappeared. But as he wounded the creature, Randidly activated Root Manipulation, causing the roots from the previous spell to grow forward and slam down on top of the creature.

Somehow, Randidly had again underestimated its speed, as it slashed at his throat before the roots could arrive, aiming for the kill. Only a Empowered Spear Phantom’s Footwork enabled Randidly to dodge, and even then, a long gash was left in his shoulder, his health dropping a good 30%.

The roots smashed against the creature, and it seemed to sway, concentrated on speed rather than strength, and it was able to twist so it was facing forward to slash at these new foes. The creature hissed in pain as its movements caused blood to pump out of the long scratches Randidly had left on its torso, and that was all the change Randidly needed.

While its head was turned, only half a meter from this speedy death machine, Randidly raised his hand and activated Arcane Orb at close range.

He could feel his finger break from the force of the explosion, but when the smoke cleared, it had apparently also been enough to shatter the spine of the thing, finally killing it.

Randidly had around 60% of his health remaining, but 20% and 5% of mana and stamina. And when the second two ran out, the first would be swiftly devoured by another weird creature like this. He swiftly picked up the body, which only seemed to weigh around 80 lbs, and the small necklace it had dropped while dying, and returned to an area not marked red.

Licking his lips, Randidly couldn’t suppress the strange emotions running through him. The thrill of a fight when his life was on the line. The fear of death. The responsibility he had towards the strange Newbie Town he had created.

The need to find Ace and Sydney, and the slowly growing anxiety as no easy way to do so presented itself.

He sat down to meditate, setting aside the body for now. Although the battle was short, it was incredibly fruitful. Not only did he sharpen the little bit of an edge he had lost since coming here, he had gained a skill level in Physical Fitness, Iron Skin, Entangling Roots, Mana Shield, Dodge, Phantom Thrust, Spear Phantom’s Footwork, Root Manipulation, Arcane Orb, Phantom Onslaught, and Empower.

All in all, that was 11 PP in 23 or so seconds. Randidly’s face split into a grin, but then he grimaced. Although this was good improvement, the problem was the risks associated with it. He wanted to continue to go out and farm in this zone, but…

If he encountered a second one at the same time….

But then he remembered one of the last pieces of advice Shal had given him, right before they had made their final, successful attack on the boss.

“A spear can only go forward, and thus a spearman must hold tight to the shaft and support it, or he will lose it and become just a man. Shortly afterward, he will undoubtedly die.”

Chuckling to himself, Randidly looked out towards the cracked plateau, with its strange cat creatures, with excited eyes.

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