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Randidly wasn’t sure exactly what to do yet with this information about the happenings of his Soul Skill, but he filed it away. Image was becoming increasingly important, and without a strong image of what this would mean for his soul skill, he didn’t want to push forward too far. Instead, he set those thoughts aside and turned to other topics.

Namely his new skill, Plantomancy. In a way, it reminded Randidly of his Soul Seed, or at least a less versatile version. Whereas Soul Seed would imitate any skill he used, and grow into a plant based upon that, Plantomancy seemed more like the plant version of Necromancy, albeit poorly named. Plus, it likely didn’t require an Aether investment, which was why Randidly had recently been so leery about creating another Soul Seed.

Well, the Aether problem, but also that it was much harder to keep track of what was going into the Soul Seed without notifications. And he had very much so lost himself in the training these past few weeks.

Plus, he didn’t really know what to do with Soul Seeds, so Randidly didn’t want to commit to making any. Although he assumed that there would be powerful benefits from having quite a few plant minions leveled to a powerful state and ready to go, he was also unsure of how much help they would be.

Thorn had certainly gotten big, but as far as Randidly could tell, he was a rather lazy plant, that would skulk around, following Decklan’s squad, feeding on the scraps left by it. Meanwhile Arbor was busy just gathering attention from the people of Donnyton, cajoling them into dancing with it. All in all, it left Randidly quite exasperated; these weren’t the plant minions that he wanted.

But perhaps his Plantomancy would provide the answer Randidly desired. So he focused on the spell in his mind, letting the strange, instinctual knowledge fill him. He kept his eyes closed too, so he could better feel the shape of the Aether that constituted the skill.

It honestly did very little to help Randidly, in terms of functionality. The strange twists and turns of Aether that he sensed remained inscrutable. But it did give him a familiarity with its shape, the strange place it held in his body, and the small trace of Aether that connected that skill to the pulsing spring of burning-numb energy in Randidly’s chest. It beat like a heart, proving he was alive, and the sigil that was Plantomancy glowed softly along with it.

Randidly’s eyes snapped open, his eyes sparkling. Although it was certainly a long way off…

...he couldn’t help but notice that the sigils he had within him for skills seemed to be similar in construction to the runes he made with engraving…

But Randidly supposed his level was too low in all respects to consider what that meant currently. Instead, he channeled mana, and used the first Plantomancy formula that he sensed, letting the mana move through him. He made no effort to “flex” his mana, and instead just cast the spell.

It cost 100 mana, and out of the wood of the planks that made up the floor of his room on the boat, roots began to curl upwards. But Randidly did not guide them, but instead watched, fascinated, as the spell twisted them and wrapped them, moving them around and through each other, wrapping them tighter and tighter, almost like a pretzel.

The roots bulged and pulsed, and on one of the front roots, the front parted, revealing two glowing specs of mana. Eight gnarled legs twisted outward, touching the wooden planks, the connecting roots between it and the floor withering away to dust.

Randidly looked down at his freshly summoned Root Spider, bemused. It looked back up at him, perfectly still. Although it was only the size of a dinner plate, and made entirely of roots, it was still quite fearsome, in a disfigured sort of way. It was also true there wasn’t a connection of Aether, but a mana connection remained between them, and Randidly used it to issue a simple command. Leap.

The thing jumped in a second, twisting around midair to land on the ceiling. Grinning, Randidly had it jump around more, before he noticed that the connection between them was slowly waning as it moved; the mana he had used to animate it was being used up.

Randidly summoned two more and began to experiment. After around an hour, he sat back.

They weren’t going to be that useful in a fight, but he could use them for other things. The only offensive weapon that the Root Spiders possessed were slightly dull teeth formed of roots. They appeared to also have access to a poison that was based upon his Pollen of the Rafflesia, but Randidly suspected that although he wasn’t exactly sure how strong the people he would face would be, they would be more than enough to endure his poison.

But they could be used as scouts, or at least as alarms. He couldn’t see through their eyes, but they would warn of movement, and could give him a general impression of what was moving past them, enough so that Randidly could discern who it was that was moving. In addition, they traveled very quickly with their powerful root legs, and distance, at least in terms of within the city.

Not that he needed anything guarded currently, but they were interesting, for the future. Especially after he discovered that flexing his mana while he created one took almost 1.5x as much mana, but made them the size of a small dog. If nothing else, it would be pretty disorienting to have one use its powerful legs to throw itself down off the ceiling and smash into your head from above.

Randidly took one last look at his status screen, but realized that his experiments had earned him 2 Skill Lvls in Plantomancy, which gave him enough PP to finish off Fighting Proficiency.

Congratulations! You have completed the Fighting Proficiency Path! Your path walks through valleys of darkness, where violence abounds. With your head held high, you advance. Because although your fists become bloodied with violence, it is only thus that your feet can continue to tread. And the path leads ever onward, towards the next mountain, towards the next Haven. Reaction and Willpower +5. You have gained the skill Struggle Lvl 1.

Struggle: Strain against your fate in fights, refusing to give him. Gives an extremely small, passive boost to Willpower when you are faced with adversity. Amount increases with skill level.

Contrary to expectations, Randidly received another passive skill from the other path. It looked like one that was more ambiguous, almost to the point of being useless. Although Willpower was the stat that got Randidly where he was today, due to Shal’s need, it wasn’t particularly useful in a fight. But still, every little edge counted. Especially when Willpower was one of the first stats that let him grow in this world.

As he didn’t have anymore PP, Randidly put off the decision in regards to his next path, and instead focused on what he should do this night, in preparation for the qualifying melee tomorrow.

Randidly grimaced. God, he hated dealing with people. And from what Shal said, he would be forced to encounter quite a few people in order to make it through. In the end, he simply had to be on one of the platforms when the round ended. But what if someone else came up onto the platform…? He didn’t necessarily have to fight him, but if Randidly didn’t, what if more people came up onto the platform…? If there were too many…

Then Randidly shook his head. Pointless to worry about strategy. That wasn’t his strong suit. Better to focus on his other preparations. The obvious first choice was preparing consumable stores. He had quite a few blue and red energy shards with him, as well as 1 or 2 purple and green ones. So he could create potions if he wished it.

But there weren’t so many that he wouldn’t run out of he used them too quickly. As such, Randidly planned on simply waiting to make potions until he found a source of potion ingredients. Still, he was in a good spot for that; Randidly suspected that since this was a world that had been with the system for a while, there would be places to buy potion ingredients, and even potions.

It would be excellent if he could even obtain the higher tiered potion ingredients to try, or found a recipe book for high level potions. That way he could increase his potion skill…

But purchasing those would take money. Although it was possible that he could obtain some for winning this qualifier battle, or that Shal would be willing to give him some cash, neither of those options seemed like they would be sustainable in the long run. And depending on how much the higher tiered potion ingredients cost…

Better to have another plan, to handle it himself. He had some small amount of the Nexus currency, from trading in dead monster bodies to the recycler, but that had fallen by the wayside as Sam’s crew grew more skillful at extracting parts from the monsters. Better to have a commodity that Randidly could produce that would earn him some extra cash.

And to that end, there was only one thing that fit the bill. Engraving. Almost reverently, Randidly removed one of the bracers he had worked on last night from his interspatial ring.

Novice’s Leather Bracer Lvl 15: Leather armor worked by a novice. Vit +1, Health +8.

Engraving of Dragonfly 42% (U): Wearer of the armor moves slightly more quickly when moving with the wind. Wearer gains Aspect of Dragonfly I.

Aspect of Dragonfly: Reaction +1, Agility +1

It was truthfully a small bonus. The armor that it was on was rather worthless. But Randidly suspected that if he went to a local armorer and offered to Engrave his armor for him, improving the armor by these two stat points, and the small effect…. Perhaps it would be pretty tempting. It all depended on how common engraving was.

Randidly held out some hope that it was rare, based on the fact it was only obtained by Sam through his rare Soul Skill, but sincerely doubted that it was unheard of. After all, the spear that Shal used had a strange, fluid glimmer that reminded Randidly of Engraving, although it was a tier higher than he could understand.

But he hadn’t seen it anywhere else. So Randidly checked the time, gave himself several hours, and removed a dozen leather bracers from his ring. These were the last of his store, given to him by Sam in order to practice. It was one thing to offer a single option, but if he could master all three…

He had come close to 40% in the past with Bear, but had barely broken 20% with Fish. His best option was to focus on Bear for now, get that up to snuff, and then slowly bring Fish up too. He glanced up, sighing. But he could only work on this for 2 hours. After all, if the battle was tomorrow, Randidly wanted to practice with his spear and footwork, in order to adjust to his body with the stat increases from yesterday…

His Root Spider hung in the corner, looking at him with ambivalence. None of its master’s concerns reached it. It was simply on orders to wait there until someone other than its master was to come into the room, and then inform its master. It was a simple life, that thing lived.

Chuckling, Randidly lowered his needle to the leather, and began to engrave.

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