A note from puddles4263

Keep voting if you haven't already~

Or vote in spirit if you already have. I'll take the winners and make my own pick Wednesday.


Edit: Whoops, okay this should be the right chapter.

The next morning, as Randidly yawned and sat up, he admitted to himself that he had been very emotionally irresponsible lately. He couldn’t simply tough everything out. Better to deal with things in a smart fashion rather than brute forcing his way through everything, both physical and mental problems.

This training in the prison had been to give him the tools to be able to handle most problems, but deconstructing them before he had to was far smarter and more efficient. He had spent far too much time wasting his effort in the past. In that moment, Randidly resolved to be more intelligent about his fights.

He looked around, but the female spear attendant was already gone. Any evidence of their previous night’s… engagements was already cleaned. He wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or a bad one, but it meant that it was a problem that he could deal with later. Instead, Randidly turned his attention to his status screen.

He had only 49 PP to distribute right now, because he had used many immediately before they attempted their breakout, but what he paid attention to was not that number, but the level of his Soul Skill, Cycle of Ash and Rot. More specifically, he looked at how it had changed during his time in the Prison. Randidly’s mouth twisted in a grin. It had been two years, but…

“Helen.” Randidly said aloud, shocking himself. He felt a flash of delight at remembering a name, then a smooth sense of relaxation, followed by a wolfish hunger. Then Randidly shook his head, annoyed. He didn’t even know what last night meant. It would be foolish to try and hope for the next time. Although they would probably spend a lot of time together, as she was his spear attendant…

Again, Randidly was forced to shake his head and force those thoughts down and away. It did him no good to fantasize about that now. Hopefully he would be able to find her later and… somehow work it out. Anyways…

Randidly refocused on his PP, using 10 to finish off Fighting Proficiency II.

Congratulations! You have completed the Fighting Proficiency II Path! The path ahead of you is long, and filled with violence, but you stride forward with confidence. As you proceed, the sky begins to darken and a comet splits above you. A huge chunk of glowing metal crashes to your left, while several small orbs of power fall to your right. Branching Path! Will you choose the large chunk of metal, or the smaller orbs of power?

Scratching his chin, Randidly wondered if there was something like a superior answer here. It probably depended on what the reward was. But if it was a question of whether he needed a single, powerful skill, or several smaller, useful ones… Randidly’s strength without a class came from those skills growing. More skills, as long as they were useful, was probably better.

Anyway, he already had several ‘finishing’ moves, in terms of power. Now it was just a question of training those moves to the point that he could use them commonly in a fight. Randidly hadn't forgotten that he had his own Runic Rarity Skill Set, although he had left it rather untrained during his time with Shal. After all, it was best to focus on the things under Shal that would improve the most. And that was the Spear Phantom skills.

So Randidly opted to go after the smaller orbs of energy.

You have selected to pursue the orbs of power! On the ground are three orbs, two gold, and one clear. As you touch the clear orb, you feel a strange sensation of power and control fill you. Skill Upgrade found! This powerful shard of energy can be used to upgrade one skill. You will be forced to imbue the shard of energy with an image in order to determine the efficacy of the upgrade. Warning, use on skills associated with a powerful image may result in an inferior product. Which skill will you upgrade?

Randidly grinned. Not only was this a useful reward, but it also proved that there were other types of rewards out there, not just things like health and stats. He wondered what sort of things could be upgraded.

Anyways, for his first Upgrade… Active Skills would likely be a better target, just because he relied on them more directly during a fight. Besides, the effect on a Passive Skill might not be all that noticeable until much later, and Randidly was very aware that even after all these improvements, he had a tournament coming up that would likely push him to the limit.

Although both Haste and Empower were moves that were Active, they ended up being more passive in nature, and therefore discounted. The Inevitable Phantom Arrives and the Spear Advances, Ash Trails, were probably already wrapped too tightly in an image for them to work. Spear Phantom’s Footwork and Eyes of the Spear Phantom just weren’t anything that Randidly could get excited about. Sure, they would likely improve his performance further, but…

And he was slightly worried about improving any Spear Phantom skill in general, so…

Then Randidly smiled. Ghastly Slash… would likely work. He already used it a lot as his fast attack in fights to throw off the opponent's tempo. If he could strengthen that, the knowledge he had gained from Marco’s tutelage would become all the more useful. The skill had been strengthened previously by his images to be changed to Ghastly from something, but it didn’t seem like that connection was currently very strong.

So Randidly closed his eyes and focused his attention inward, in the veritable forest of Aether Engravings in his chest that caused him to have the ability to access skills. After a bit of searching, he located the one for Ghastly Slash, floating, the lines of it burning white hot, but fading to blue at the edges.

There wasn’t really any way for Randidly to actually tell which was which, but when he looked at them, he just knew. Then he looked down at the strange clear energy in his hand, and it seemed like an empty snow globe, waiting for a scene to fill it. Breathing slowly, Randidly focused on what he wanted.

It was rather simple and direct one, but for a quick attack, that was best. It was the image of a clock, its hands still. Then, powerfully, the hands moved.


The image was short and sweet, but the powerful echoes filled that clear energy shard. With his Battle Intent, Randidly made those echoes resonate, thrumming with power. Then, very gently, he pressed the shard of energy into the sky, and felt something inside of him click.

Congratulations! Your skill has been upgraded from Ghastly Slash Lvl 59 to Idiosyncratic Cut (Un) Lvl 59! You have absorbed the two golden spheres of energy. Stamina +100! Stamina Regen +15 per minute!

The golden energy spheres didn’t disappoint either. Although his Stamina pool was becoming rather difficult to keep track of, regeneration was always useful for prolonged fights. Randidly then produced a training spear and used his new move.

Randidly blinked. Then he tried it again.

When he swung, as soon as he activated the skill, his spear would resonate with those echoes, and a powerful ticking noise would be created. His spear would basically complete ⅓ of the swing instantly, which was impossible, but it happened. Randidly grinned slightly. Which meant that he only needed to swing the spear ⅔’s of the usual distance for a slash. As Randidly experimented, it seemed that the power was decreased in a proportionate fashion, but this wasn’t his power move. This was a move that he would rely on to set up his finishers.

But after several Cuts, Randidly found himself exhausted, his chest heaving. Curious, he waited until he recovered some stamina, which was very quickly now, and used the move. Then he grimaced. 75 stamina was a rather hefty price tag to pay. Well, Randidly supposed that was why the reward also included pretty big gains to his Stamina pool and regeneration. Although he gained over 3 stamina per second, and a pool of over 1400, Randidly still wouldn’t be able to regenerate through using this move very much.

Randidly’s available paths hadn’t really changed, although he wondered about that. Most of the Spear Phantom moves must really be at a high level before he could get a path in them. He supposed this made sense, as they were likely part of a skillset that was definitely not common in rarity.

Between Engraving and the Weeping Rain Path, neither would have much of a concrete effect on his current performance. Well, Randidly did want to make himself some personal armor with Engravings on them, but that was for later. And besides, the Weeping Rain had a lot to do with his success in Engraving anyway. Really hard to tease apart which would be more useful.

But ultimately, he chose to put points into the Weeping Rain Path, for a very simple reason. It was an uncommon rarity skill.

So Randidly was very pleased to discover that after he put 5 points in, he received a point in Willpower. After another 5, he received a point in Resistance. This continued until he put the 25th point in.

Then he froze, his whole body trembling. A small burn started in his chest, which rapidly expanded into an inferno.


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