A note from puddles4263

My PR guy is also moving, so this one might be a little more rough than usual. Just point it out in the comments.

Randidly grinned and activated haste, dashing towards the Lava Golem in front of him. He used an normal stab to attack it, wanting to see how strong it was in relation to him. To his surprise, the tip of the bone spear ripped into it rather easily. The lava just reformed around it, and it continued forward.

Frowning, Randidly backed off a bit. Golems…. Were made of a substance, and usually had cores, that animated them. On this golem, his right chest cavity seemed to glow with heat. He looked at the others.

Left eye, left knee, pelvis, right hand.

Shrugging, he turned back to the first. Could it really be this easy…? He slashed with his spear again, ripping into the golem’s chest. He felt it, that time, as his spear struck something else other than malleable molten rock and melting metal.

The entire body of the golem shuddered, but then it continued on, incensed.

Randidly grimaced. The heat was really something, so much that he was losing more health per second than he regenerated. But…

Randidly twisted the spear and then just pulled, using the spear like a shovel, and separated the core from the rest of its body.

The body in front of him collapsed, and the small, golden ball rolled the ground, sizzling. Randidly walked over to it and crushed it with the butt of his spear.

Then he turned to the rest, who were lumbering closer. Three more had crawled out of the lava to join them. He shook his head sorrowfully.

What a tiring day. At least it was only 10 minutes long.


While the adults of Donnyton ran around working, preparing for the influx of monsters to the area, the children gathered in a certain clearing. There weren’t an overly large number of children in the village, but enough that there was talk of installing a schoolhouse, which filled them all with dread.

Luckily or unluckily, there always seemed to be another, more pressing project, so it had not yet happened. But that word yet hung over their heads.

Nathan and Kiersty were the youngest, at 8, and the rest were between 10 and 16, not yet allowed to engage in any of the combat exercises or obtain a class. In a rare show of unanimity, the leaders of Donnyton had declared that no one under 17 could obtain a class from their village, although they were free to stay here.

Most of the older kids thought this rule was dumb, especially when Sir Donny was barely older than them, but the rumor was that he had received special dispensation from the Ghosthound, who the children talked of in reverent voices.

They secretly hoped they would run into the Ghosthound too, and impress him enough that he would order they receive a class.

For that very same reason, they found themselves standing in this certain clearing, at that moment. Because against all odds, the Ghosthound had spoken to Nathan and Kiersty, and told them to protect and nurture a certain seed. And now they stood around that seed, which had grown into a charcoal grey sapling.

But as they watched, a small smoking bud formed on the highest branch.

Slowly, infinitely slowly, that  grey and smoking bud twisted and wiggled, and writhed.

Then, it fell still.

The bud parted and a single, burning leaf.

“Praise the Dancing Tree!” Kiersty said, rubbing her hands on the sooty trunk and then drawing lines on her face.

The rest of the kids, their faces strange, just looked at her. Even Nathan gave her a strange look. But Kiersty just smiled, and looked at the notification that had appeared in front of her.

Congratulations! You have been offered the Soul Skill “Priestess of Arbor”. Would you like to accept? Yes/No

Kiersty nodded, and clicked yes. The flimsy leaf wavered, and then fell, as if blow by wind, and drifted towards her. Reflexively she raised her hand and caught it. The fire burned, but she didn’t mind. Instead, she felt something. Pulses, coming from the tree.

Suddenly, she knew what to do.

Nathan looked at her with a doubtful expression.


Randidly moved quickly among the growing number of lava golems, expertly smashing their cores and moving onto the next. They were strong, and basically invincible aside from their vulnerable cores, but they weren’t that difficult to deal with.

That is, until they surrounded you, and raised the temperature 150 degrees.

So Randidly hurried around at first, ripping them to pieces. But that seemed to displease the large face, and it began sending more at once.

It was a number still within manageable limits, but it made Randidly sweat, literally. But he controlled himself, and continued to fight while seeming to struggle. Only then would the face remain passive, simply glaring at him.

The time slowly ticked down, and Randidly gradually allowed more and more lava golems onto the platform, seeming to struggle.

5 minutes…

4 minutes…

Every now and then there would spawn a larger golem, still level 25, but one that clearly had better stats. Still, Randidly kept his mouth shut and swept through them, knocking out their cores and crushing them.

3 minutes….

2 minutes….

3 minutes….

Randidly blinked. The time…. Had increased?

Narrowing his eyes, Randidly spared the face a glance. But it remained stoic and frowning. Still, he knew that it wasn’t a fluke. Yet he said nothing, continuing to kill golems.

More and more began to flood upwards filling the stone slab, but Randidly just upped his speed to match, once more activating haste..

2 minutes…

3 minutes…

2 minutes…

3 minutes..

A huge, 8 meter tall golem pulled himself out of the lava, bellowing its fury. Randidly allowed himself a tight smile. It seemed the big guy was starting to grow impatient. Well fine, if you wanted to be serious, you should have just said so.

Randidly had thus far just been using the bone spear as a weapon to deftly scoop out cores, but now he lengthened his grip, bringing the full 8 feet of Spine-Spear to bear. He began to sweep expertly back and forth, smashing the golem cores with accurate blows.

Hissing, the large lava golem rushed forward, and Randidly raised the spear directly over his head. With all his strength, he brought it smashing downwards, splitting the lava golem in half and revealing a vulnerable golem core. Lightning fast, a Phantom Thrust flashed forward, crushing the core to powder. The golem collapsed, and to his annoyance, some lava splashed on his bare feet.

Swearing he hopped up and down, and then stamped his feet to get the melted rock off of him. But as the stone cooled, it simply grafted onto him, and would not budge.

The lava below the platform began to bubble, and several more 8 meter golems heaved themselves upward. More disturbingly, an even larger, scaled creature moved, shifting the lava visibly as it swam closer.

Randidly just pointed his spear at the giant face. “The 10 minutes is up. Give me your blessing.”

All the golems stilled. The face’s mouth moved soundless as its eyes narrowed.

“Ahem…. The time counter….”

“Has been reset, and you know it. Honor the deal.” Again, Randidly was sweating. Because honestly, if the giant face refused….

If he survived this, he was definitely warning everyone away from the apprentice path. Whatever rewards he received were not worth this.

But Randidly had a hunch. From the way he had seen Nul behaved, although he had free will with how he did things, there were certain things that he couldn’t do. And certain things he had to do.

“Ah, right you are. You have succeeded. Now stand still and await my blessing.”

A golden sigil appeared in front of the face’s forehead and slowly began to drift downwards. In the meantime, the golems around Randidly slowly started moving again, surging closer.

“Fuck this.” Randidly ran towards the edge of the slab. Right as he was at the edge, he activated Haste, Empower, Mana Strengthening, and produced a Spearing Roots beneath him, launching himself an extra 3 meters, and then leaping forward towards the wall.

The weird thing about Spearing Roots, and Entangling Roots before it, was that there didn’t need to be actual roots for it to work. There just needed to be soil or stone. So even though the roots instantly withered and caught fire, they still came into being, and gave Randidly a foothold not on molten rock.

Burning through his mana, he raced up the inside of the volcano, moving so fast that the giant face couldn’t react. Then he leapt up, out of the volcano, and dashed across the rim, before throwing himself at the giant face.

As he approached, Randidly’s face was covered in a wild grin. The face was stone too. It took him 3 seconds, total, to climb out of the volcano, dash across, leap, and then rush up the face, leaving a trail of ash in his wake.

It was only 3 seconds later, as the face realized what was happening and his expression darkened with a frown, that Randidly leapt again, and caught hold of the golden sigil. He instantly flickered out of existence, teleported out of the strange, volcano world.

The face was still for a long time as the golem disintegrated and fell back into lava. The stone slab fell deeper too.

Still the face floated there, its expression unreadable. Then slowly, the giant face smiled.

“Heh,” it chuckled, and then it sank back into the volcano, looking forward to the next time that individual would return to its realm.


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