He certainly had earned quite a lot of PP in the battle, but he supposed that was understandable. Part of it was the huge library of skills he currently possessed. Odds were one or two would level up constantly.
Additionally, no matter how strong you were, being surrounded added a lot of mental pressure, raising the stakes. In addition, his higher recovery rates, combined with his constant potions, meant that he could continue far longer than others, out grinding skills levels with the sheer amount of time spent fighting.
Still, the rewards this time were large, and the completion notification for Entangling Roots was a welcome sight, followed by a flood of additional notifications.
Congratulations! You have completed the The Entangling Roots Path! +3 Int, Wis, Control, and Focus; +25 Mana. Where you walk, the earth comes alive, heeding your beck and call. You have learned the skill Wall of Thorns Lvl 1. You have learned the skill Soul Seed Lvl ®.
Wall of Thorns: Produces a bristling wall of thorns. Size and sharpness of thorns based on Intelligence and skill level. Shape of the wall and distance away based on Wisdom and Skill level.
Soul Seed: A rare skill that will not level. Nurture the seed with the essence of your other skills and different plants will grow. Effects of the plants will be determined by the level of skills used to nurture them. Plants grown from Soul Seeds will have intelligence and level, and will be capable of growth.
Congratulations! As the first member of your race to unlock a rare skill, you have received the reward path “Frontrunner 0/100”. Use this path to lead your race to salvation.
For finishing the Entangling Roots path, your Skill has evolved! Synchronicity with Soul Skill “Spear of Rot Mastery” detected. Calculating mutations…
3 mutations found. Forking Path! Choose which skill Entangling Roots shall take on characteristics of: Pollen of the Rafflesia, Edge of Decay, or Spear Mastery.
Randidly looked at the notifications and blinked. The new skills both intrigued him. Looking at Wall of Thorns, he was excited to go cat hunting today, trying to find and kill the annoying things. Soul Seed was a little more nebulous.
His confidence was also boosted by the ‘reward’ path he received, although he was a little leery about another 100 PP path right now.
But for the moment, his attention was on the ways that Entangling Roots could evolve. He hesitated for a half second, but really, he knew immediately as he saw the options, what he would choose.
Congratulations! You have chosen Spear Mastery. Your skill has evolved into Spearing Roots. Level has been reset, but benefits from the previous skill’s skill level have been retained.
Immediately, Randidly walked out into the forest and tried it. The sight of dozen of sharpened roots shooting upward, boring holes in the wood of an unlucky tree, set him laughing. Although he would now need to rely on root manipulation for his control, the increased strength and power of the stabbing roots were more than enough to make up for it.
Anyways, he had been using root manipulation to touch up on the accuracy of Entangling Roots anyways. And now, for the big control, he had Wall of Thorns.
Curious, Randidly used that, and a short, waist high hedge of sharpened thorns springing up. Randidly pressed his finger against a thorn, and pulled back, impressed. If it was sharp enough to get through his endurance, most low leveled monsters would tear themselves to pieces on it.
Finally, Randidly looked at his hand, concentrating, and summoned a Soul Seed. A small, wizened looking nut appeared in his hand, weirdly maroonish in color. A small bar hovered over the seed.
Soul Seed 0% Nurtured.
Randidly scratched his chin. Nurtured, was it…? The notification had said I nurture it with skills, so do I just…?
As he focused on the nut, he felt a strange connection forming. He knew instinctively that while he had the seed on his person, it would grow based on any skill he activated. So for now, he put the seed away and turned back to his spare PP. He immediately poured it into the Meditation path, and was rewarded at 5 with 15 mana, and at 10 with +2 Wisdom.
Yawning, Randidly rubbed his stomach. Today was a good day. And every good day deserved a good meal to start it off.
Leaving by a side path, Randidly escaped from Donnyton without any more questions from Daniel, or any strange followers.
Lyra was beautiful, sure. And useful. Her spells were powerful too. And she was a non-classer like him, so they had that in common.
Randidly froze. And she was here.
He spun around, expecting to see her, standing there, her mana birds fluttering around her. But there was nothing, the path was deserted. Randidly frowned, then chuckled nervously, shaking his head.
Even if he had grown definitively stronger, he wasn’t so strong that he could just have his head in the clouds while searching for these cats. And today was the 5th day.
Looking at the sun, Randidly wondered again what would happen once the Newbie Zone walls fell, and the monsters from beyond the boundary roved towards the village.
Clenching his fist, he turned and began to walk. He would meet whatever came with strength.
And so for now, he would work on sharpening that strength.
Daniel glanced up at the nervous man, annoyed.
“What is it?” He snapped.
“Uh…S-sam wants to speak with you, sir.” The man stuttered, and then hurried away.
Sighing, Daniel wiggled his fingers at his assistants, who tiredly took the paperwork from him as he stood to leave. Despite what the rest of the people here seemed to think, a society required bureaucracy to function. You couldn’t just steal whatever you needed from wherever you wanted. That wasn’t a sustainable economy.
As he walked towards Sam’s settlement down by the farming area, Daniel rubbed his temples. It was becoming increasingly difficult to find a way to actually base their economy on something. They had no real production besides food and animal pelts, and the slightly more sophisticated armors that Sam would produce, but still.
Gold was becoming increasingly popular as a currency, but none of the Classers even took it seriously; they gambled it away on dumb, ridiculous bets like arm wrestling contests, or who could cut down more trees with a single swing. They were like children, and their increased physical prowess was their shiny new toy.
“Sir Daniel.” A woman said, hurrying next to him, struggling to keep pace with his long strides. Although Daniel hadn’t really gained very many levels, he had gained quite a few skills during his duties. As such, he had seen it prudent to put some into physical attributes. So the woman, who was one of the designated NCC representatives, was struggling to keep up.
He had to admit, being call Sir Daniel certainly was better than ‘Chubbs’.
“What is it?” Daniel said, lengthening his stride.
“We would like permission to extend the current farming plat. Probably by double. Moving further south down the valley. A recent arrival brought coffee seeds, and-”
“Fine, fine.” Daniel said, waving his hands. “Draw up a new map and send it over for approval.”
“Yes sir,” The woman said, peeling away gratefully. She began shouting to the nearby Classers, offering food bribes for labor. A lot of single shoulder pad classers, having nothing better to do, agreed and began to follow her.
Daniel arrived at Sam’s area, shocked at the changes that had occurred. The ground had been flattened and around a dozen wooden tables were covered with monster parts. Some tables were covered in monsters being skinned, others were skins drying, others were stacks of sorted bones, still others had men stitching away, creating armor and clothing from the furs of monsters.
A lot of people had taken to wearing it, especially the Classers, but Daniel still preferred the feel of processed cotton.
Sam and Dozer stood over to the side, surrounded by several of Dozer’s brutish henchmen, as Dozer hefted what looked like the giant skull of the Wolverine he had killed last night. As Daniel watched, Dozer lifted the object and placed it onto his head.
Narrowing his eyes, Daniel walked closer. Although it was definitely a wolverine skull, there was no way it should fit his head so regularly, with the eye holes wide and spaced so it’s easy to see out from within.
“Heh, as expected, you can see immediately.” Sam said, positively glowing as he regarded it. He jerked a thumb at the skull covered Dozer. “That’s the work of my new skill, Bone Shaping. Can’t do much of anything impressive with it yet, but if I keep working at it, we will have whole suits of armor soon. Imagine.”
Dozer grunted happily, clearly excited, but Daniel just rolled his eyes. “So how quickly can things like that be made?”
“Well…” Sam hemmed. “It’s not like it takes too long… but it's not short either. And it needs to be personalized by me…”
Shaking his head, Daniel reached into his spatial backpack, which had been purchased with 50 SP, and removed a pile of folders. “I look forward to seeing them in widespread use. In the meantime, I took the liberty of drawing up some evaluation forms for you two, and Decklan, to handle.”
“Evaluation…?” Dozer muttered, staring uncomprehendingly at the tiny words covering the pages handed to him.
“Yes, Evaluation. I know you are tired of me harping on the ranking stratification, and I am too; I made a rubric for you to grade each Classer by. Strength, Utility, Teamwork, Leadership, etc. Just fill all the columns in, and add them up, and you will have a number between 1 and 100, Obviously we will just being going by the 10s digit for the specific rank, but specificity is always preferable,” Daniel explained with a smile. Then he turned and walked away, leaving the piles of paper with the two men.
But then he turned and called over his shoulder. “Oh, and I expect it done by the end of today. Until it gets done… I’ll probably be too busy to work out the schedule for the dungeon~”
The cat quickly sidestepped, avoiding the wall of thorns, but the Spearing Roots shot upward, leaving several scrapes across its body.
And in that moment, it stumbled.
A Phantom Thrust ripped into its neck spraying its blood over the ground. After a few wobbly steps, it collapsed, spent.
Pleased, Randidly sat too, beginning to refine Blue Energy stones to make higher tiered mana potions. He had been hunting cats for around two hours, and had caught 6. The Wall of Thorns really helped, but even more important were the points that he had started putting into strength. Where as before he could leave small, scratches, now his blows actually would send the cats stumbling with the force. In addition, the extra Agility from the necklace had done a lot to even out their difference in speeds.
Honestly, it was mostly perception and reaction that was holding him back now. He was slowly beginning to realize that his body was faster than he could handle. Ruefully, Randidly put that on the list of things that needed to be worked on as he progressed.
So far today, he had gained 3 Levels in Wall of Thorns, but only 2 in Spearing Roots, even though he used it much, much more. Apparently in addition to the skill level bonuses carrying over, the difficulty in leveling also increased. Haste also went up by 1, and Refine by 2.
Randidly also noticed that although evolving the skill had increased the mana cost to 45, his mana pool of 450 still meant he could cast it 10 times before he needed to break for mana potions. The rate at which he could improve spells was improved enormously by the larger mana pool.
As he began to move forward through the strange wasteland, he wondered if he had gotten to a level of strength that he would get an impressive class. Probably something related to his Spear of Rot Mastery…
But he still wanted to push his fire magic forward to a higher level before trying it. The combination would be deadly in a class. But currently he was leery about using fire magic, so that would take a back seat.
Randidly removed the Soul Seed from his pocket.
Soul Seed 22% Nurtured. Strongest Influences: 1. Spearing Roots; 2. Wall of Thorns; 3. Haste; 4. Refine
Randidly wasn’t sure what to make of the strongest influences information, but he supposed it was still interesting. More interesting was that it had gotten to 22% in 2 hours, so it would roughly take 8 more hours to be nurtured.
And after that….
He would plant it….?