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A note from puddles4263

Another one coming soon.

Afterwards, Randidly reached inward, and activated his new skill, the Weeping Cloud. For several seconds, nothing happened, but as Randidly looked up he saw that a cloud was slowly forming above him. His eyebrows rose continuously for the next minute, as his mana continued to tick downward, syphoned off to form this cloud above him. Only after it had taken 1000 mana did it cease, leaving him with barely any mana remaining.

As he produced a mana potion and raised it to his lips, Randidly said. “Weeping cloud…. More like greedy cloud…”

The cloud itself was very small, just about the size of their boat, and from it raindrops began to fall, little pinpricks of liquid that pattered against the deck around him. Randidly closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation. It was truly profoundly refreshing. Due to the fact that he had used it over here, on the far side of the boat, he was the only one that was hit by the rain. The boats around them still parted, allowing them to drift further inward. Divvit and the spear attendant were working at the far side, out of the area of the rain.

For several minutes, Randidly just breathed and meditated, enjoying the feeling of relaxing. It had been a long time since he had felt so at peace. Randidly thought it was odd, but he supposed that if this was just a way to stabilize his mental health after the brutal training he would be doing, that might be effect enough.

Strangely, as he sat there, sitting in the rain, waiting for his mana to recover, Randidly realized that he missed cooking. If he hadn’t chosen this path to power and strength, it might have been interesting to just focus on Cooking as a skill, seeing how far he could push it. It was a fun thought experiment, imagining a life spent pursuing the limits of Cooking. He even received the very useful Grace from Cooking.

After all, Randidly started out with farming and cross breeding, creating new varieties of plants to help him survive in that dungeon. He could create both the ultimate ingredients, and the ultimate process to cook them. All and all, it would be an extremely rewarding lifestyle, in its way.

Of course, that was not Randidly’s path.

It was not that he didn’t want it. It was that it would never be enough to satisfy him, now after all that he had experienced. The system wanted to force him to a village to find a class. The people here believed that he wouldn’t be able to compete at the level of this tournament. He had chosen a color that brought shame to this world, and Hunters wanted to slay him and mount his Tassle on their mantle.

Although right now he was relying on Shal and Divvit, it left Randidly with an increasingly sour taste in his mouth, especially after he had been so self-reliant in the days he spent with Donnyton. He didn’t want to have to rely on anyone else. By only using his own strength, he wanted to show everyone that they were wrong. He wanted to show that his path would lead higher than anyone else’s.

One step at a time though. Surrounded by the falling rain, Randidly produced a leather bracer and a needle. Then he began to Engrave. The soft rain continued to fall around him, cooling him.

*****

Helen sat in the shadows of the deck, watching the man that she had chosen to enter the service of. He was… really fucking weird.

He walked up on deck, breathed a bit, sat down, appeared to have summoned a small rain cloud, and was now Engraving armor. Helen had of course known that he could do… some of these things. The Ghosthound was strangely competent, and that is one of the reasons she was willing to enter his service.

But he wasn’t like any of the others she had met that had thought themselves spear prodigies, arrogant to a fault, completely unrealistic about their own strength. And of course, in some ways he wasn’t different. In spite of the level of the Regional Tournament being worlds ahead of the qualifier, he didn’t seem fearful or anxious. He wasn’t even training in the spear right now, just Engraving.

Boldly, and in the open too. Which was sorta fucking idiotic. The Ghosthound didn’t seem to understand the danger that being seen Engraving would mean for them all. The Guilds took that very seriously. Their monopoly was very important to them.

Helen crept closer, walking quietly. It was a skill she had to learn growing up, as a member of a subordinate leather working family who served a prominent Style. Maybe that was the reason that she so quickly found herself as a spear attendant, after she ran away from her family to avoid a marriage. This was just all she knew. Service.

But there was something different about this one. He was pure and focused, and didn’t seem to take any pleasure in the trappings of strength. He had even seemed profoundly shocked when they had asked to be his spear attendants. Since then, he hadn’t really required anything of them either, besides the dealing with the sweaty merchant.

He also didn’t talk much, which Helen liked.

She took another step forward and felt the raindrops on her skin. She looked up, frowning, but as the rain continued to land on her, her frown slowly faded away. It felt… nice. Natural and free, this rain, in a way she hadn’t really encountered since she was a child. Like all there was in the world to worry about was playing in the puddles and throwing handfuls of mud.

“Holy fuck…” She sighed, but then was startled out of her reverie by laughter. Her eyes narrowed as she turned to look at the Ghosthound, a split second later forcing her expression to careful neutrality. If this motherfucker was laughing at her…!

But the Ghosthound hadn’t appeared to have even noticed her presence, he was smiling down at the bracer in his hands. For several seconds, he simply stared at it, his green eyes bright and fierce as he looked down at the bracer. Then he looked up and blinked, surprised to see Helen.

Satisfied he wasn’t making fun of her (for all the Ghosthound’s strange gifts, subtlety wasn’t one of them), she smiled sweetly back at him. She was surprised how genuine it felt, and was even more surprised at the small tug of pleasure in her heart as he beckoned her over.

“Come look at this,” He said excitedly. “I had no idea the efficacy would increase so sharply…. What do you think?”

Helen walked over and took the bracer, and then inspected it. Her eyebrows rose very quickly. “Holy spear-fucking-shit.”

“...what?” The Ghosthound said, looking bewildered. Helen quickly blushed and smiled as prettily as she could, inwardly sweating.

“My apologies, I-I sneezed. This…. is impressive.” And it really was. Not for the armor, but for the engraving.

Apprentice’s Leather Bracer Lvl 25: Leather armor worked by an Apprentice, but made with poor materials. Vit +2, Health +25. Rain Engraved I.

Engraving of Dragonfly 61% (U): The wind seems to move with the wearer, aiding in both attack and defense speed. Wearer gains Aspect of Dragonfly II.

Aspect of Dragonfly II: Reaction +2, Agility +5

Rain Engraved I: The Engraver is developing his own personal process of Engraving, and benefits begin to accrue within the armor. Mana +5, Focus +1.

More than anything, however, Helen’s reaction to the armor was one of fear. The Engraving guilds probably wouldn’t mind extremely cheap knockoffs, where the user only received 1 or 2 extra points from an engraving. It would annoy them, and they would move to deal with it, but it would be a leisurely thing.

But this equipment… his engraving added 2 Reaction, 5 Agility, 1 Focus, and 5 Mana. A person might not notice when equipment had an extra one or two points of something, but when it neared 10? Anyone would be interested in it, even if it wasn’t in the Attributes that they relied on most frequently. After all, all of the attributes were tied into each other, and unless the circumstances were extremely contrived, all were useful in battle.

Still, the Ghosthound stood in front of her, a childish grin on his face as he looked at her. It seemed he was waiting for more of a response, so she said. “...it is quite impressive… but… do you not worry about the engraving guilds…? They do not take kindly to others performing their services.”

His green eyes flashing, the Ghosthound just laughed and turned away. “My path is always forward. I won’t worry about it until the obstacle is before me. I’ve got enough on my plate as it is. Good, impressive, good.”

He left, humming to himself, and Helen sat very still for a while. Then she looked up and smiled, enjoying the feel of the soft rain. It really made her feel… relaxed, for the first time in a long time. Perhaps it was a good thing that she had ended up here.

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