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A note from puddles4263

My apologies readers. Life has been busy.

1/5

Congratulations! The Patron of Ash smiles on you! +10 to all stats. Your body was not refined by the Black Mercury, but totally remade, cast in ash and reconstituted. You have learned the Skill Ashes to Ashes (A) Lvl 1. The sun rises on you, a changed man. Go forth, and spread the power of your Patron.

Congratulations! You have endured the Trial of Ash and become anointed. By enduring the visions, you have achieved a lasting inner peace, and have seen your path forward. Wisdom and Willpower +10. Do to synchronicity, your skill Agony has evolved into Anguish (Un). All skill levels have been retained.

Ashes to Ashes (A): Your body has now been baptized by Ash. As such, in dangerous situations, you can return to ash, avoiding most attacks and reforming soon after. High mana cost. Range and speed of reforming increases with skill level. Mana cost decreases very slightly with skill level.

Anguish (Un): Produce waves of pain from your body. Effects also now include extreme wariness and confusion. The mental aspect of the damage is greatly increased from its original form in Agony. Range and damage increases with skill level.

Randidly began to laugh. This… this sort of boost, as well as the two skills… Although he hadn’t tried them out yet, he could basically get the gist of them. And overall, all he could think, was-

“Powerful…” Randidly whispered. And he truly believed it. With this level of strength, he had come one step closer to being able to give Azriel what she needed. The all around increase in stats were incredibly powerful, and would hopefully give him an additional edge.

But then Randidly grimaced. Although now that he thought about that, he remembered the vision he had of Drak. The ability that he showed, the oppressively high skill levels, his ability that was pushed to the limit of those under Level 25…

It would become an endurance contest. He simply needed to push until the shallow layer of Aether he obtained through his class connection at level 25 was insufficient to support his strength. For that, Randidly needed to survive and resist for as long as possible… or to simply strike forward and crush Drak.

Randidly did his best to wipe his grin off his face. One thing at a time. In addition to the bonuses of stats and skills, Randidly also had gotten quite a few skill levels just from his time in the Trial of Ash. His Pain Resistance had increased by 3, his Fire Resistance by 9, his Mental Strength and Battle Intent by 6, Rejection by 3, Absolute Control: Freeze by 2, Struggle by 4, and Living Blood and Superiority by 10.

Which left Randidly with quite a decision, because he now had 99 PP remaining, and quite a few paths to choose from, including some new ones.

Heretic XII 0/???, Nexus Traveler Cohort 5 0/50, Path of Control 0/200, Basic Mana Engraving 0/100, Journeyman 0/150, Experimenter I 0/50, Anguish I 0/125, Steps of the Godling I 0/50, Intermediate Battle Intent 0/200

Out of hand, Randidly dismissed Heretic and the Nexus Traveler. In addition, both Basic Mana Engraving and Experimenter were probably interesting paths that would give him useful skills, but Randidly was on a time crunch, and what he needed was immediate strength.

Aside from Anguish, which Agony appeared to have transformed from, both of the new additions were interesting. Steps of the Godling… immediately Randidly thought of his inner world, and how they had a strange amount of worship for him. If it was a path that gave him skills to interfere in his Soul Skill, that was important, but it wasn’t useful now. Battle Intent would probably give him a large increase in power, but it was difficult to see whether it would give him much in the short term. And the 200 PP price tag…

Which left Path of Control, Journeyman, and Anguish. Path of Control Randidly had long had, but he had been distracted by other paths in the meantime. It also was the most expensive, but if it provided quite a bit of boosts to his Control stat, it was probably worth it. After all, the most workable plan about pushing Drak to the limit involved keeping him distracted with spells.

Journeyman was one of the core paths, and would probably give skills and stats rather easily. But there was no proof of that, and the main benefit was usually that stat per level gains. As for Anguish…

Randidly’s experience in the trial made him realize how necessary it was to strike with all weapons at his disposal. Even if he were to hurt some people in the area, it would be nowhere near the damage he would do to Drak. And anything to cause him increased discomfort, because that would deplete his Aether more quickly…

It was also a weapon that Drak wouldn’t expect. So Randidly put his PP into Anguish. In a pleasant turn of events, every 10 PP would earn Randidly 10 Health, Mana, and Stamina. It was a nice boost to his base stats.

Plus, putting the PP in gave him both the blessing of Cleansing Rain and Murderous Cold. And this time Randidly was sure that they were slowly changing, because on the first one, his concentration permanently increased by 2%, and for the second blessing the amount of free stats he received was 8. Most of those free stats he put into Perception, so he would be able to keep up with the attacks of Drak.

After receiving everything, Randidly looked at his stats.

Randidly Ghosthound

Class: ---

Level: N/A

Health(/R per hour): 1322/1633 [+118] (643 [+27])

Mana(/R per hour): 649/1627 [+5] (202.75 [+9])

Stam(/R per min): 1233/1645 (247 [+9])

Vit: 179 [+9]

End: 87

Str: 132 [+17]

Agi: 167 [+17]

Perception: 133 [+10]

Reaction: 158

Resistance: 115 [+15]

Willpower: 181 [+10]

Intelligence: 119

Wisdom: 85 [+9]

Control: 231

Focus: 178 [+4]

Equipment: Average Leather Tunic Lvl 5: (+2 Vit), Gloves of Quickness (Vit +1. Agi +3), Necklace of the Shadow Cat Lvl 20 ®: (Vitality +1, Strength +2, Agility +7) Master’s Fine Leather Belt Lvl 49 (Vit +5, Str +5, Agi +5, WP +10, Resist +15, Wis +9, Focus +4, Per +10, Health +100)

Skills (Soul Skill): Four-Shaded Clockwork World Lvl 501

Combat: Spear Mastery Lvl 120, White Phantom’s Half-Step (Un) Lvl 50, Heavy Blow Lvl 66, Dagger Mastery Lvl 10, Iron Skin Lvl 47, Dodge Lvl 67, Fighting Proficiency Lvl 91, Block Lvl 48, Haste Lvl 78, Phantom Onslaught Lvl 43, Sweep Lvl 54, Spear Deflect Lvl 10, Empower Lvl 97, Calculated Blow Lvl 66, Roundhouse Kick Lvl 36, Flesh Eating Virus (Un) Lvl 57, Idiosyncratic Cut (Un) Lvl 65, Pierce the Skies, Shatter the Earth Lvl 39, Battle Intent Lvl 105, Struggle Lvl 76, Body Control: Freeze Lvl 19, The Golden Roots of Yggdrasil (A) Lvl 54, Stalemate Breaker Lvl 15

The 7 Kata of the Ashen Spear (Ru): The Spear Advances, Ash Trails Lvl 27

The 6 Signs of the Spear Phantom ®: The First Sign- The Inevitable Phantom Arrives Lvl 83 (Un), The Fifth Sign- The Spear Phantom’s Embrace ® Lvl 138

Spells: Spearing Roots Lvl 38, Mana Bolt Lvl 28, Mana Shield Lvl 26, Root Control Lvl 97, Arcane Orb Lvl 22, Fireball Lvl 30, Magic Missile Lvl 4, Healing Palm Lvl 12, Pollen of the Rafflesia Lvl 20, Summon Pestilence Lvl 53, Mana Strengthening Lvl 65, Wall of Thorns Lvl 17, Soul Seed Lvl ®, Anguish (Un) Lvl 47, Inspiration ®, Incinerating Bolt Lvl 73, Circle of Flame Lvl 45, Plantomancy Lvl 32, The Weeping Cloud ® Lvl 64, Hammer of the Dawn Lvl 6, Burning Footsteps Lvl 10, Ashes to Ashes (A) Lvl 1

Crafting: Potion Making Lvl 37, Farming Lvl 20, Plant Breeding Lvl 9, Mapmaker Lvl 7, Analyze Lvl 24, Refine Lvl 17, Extract Lvl 23, Mana Engraving Lvl 69

Auxiliary: Physical Fitness Lvl 83, Meditation Lvl 83, Running: Lvl 39, Sprinting Lvl 19, Sneak Lvl 46, Acid Resistance Lvl 22, Poison Resistance Lvl 21, Pain Resistance Lvl 32, First Aid Lvl 16, Equip Lvl 25, Pathfinding Lvl 18, Mental Strength Lvl 23, Curse Resistance Lvl 15, Fire Resistance Lvl 23, Sewing Lvl 11, Cutting Vegetables Lvl 2, Manual Labor Lvl 6, Digging Lvl 5, Cooking Lvl 35, Grace Lvl 50, Bacterial Regeneration Lvl 93, Superiority Lvl 42, Mental Fortitude Lvl 45, Second Wind Lvl 55, Weather Affinity Lvl 43, Clockwork Mastery Lvl 16, Rejection Lvl 39, Aether Connection (A) Lvl 3, Flexibility of the White Hunters ® Lvl 26, Living Blood (Un) Lvl 23

Bonuses: +4% Concentration, +3% hearing and vision range, +1% size, Immunity +2%

It was truly a level of stats approaching monstrous, in Randidly’s own humble opinion. Most everything was above 100, and a lot of things were nearing or over the 200 mark. In terms of skills, things were increasing nicely, and he would definitely emerge from this tournament much improved. The question was only whether he could accomplish for Azriel what she desired.

There were also so many different forces at work. Depending on whether Randidly was to believe the vision that he saw, Shal might be under the influence of a strange, powerful woman that Randidly strongly suspected would be Lucretia. Beyond that, Lucretia had taken some action to tempt away some of the other contestants, as he had been warned by Bertarn.

And perhaps Dian had somehow taken that, and been imprisoned by Lucretia. Which would make any fights against her…. Did Randidly even have the strength to fight against her…?

For now, he put that aside, although he should talk to Divveltian about it. Out of everyone in the city, he was the only powerful, Adept level spear user that Randidly trusted. Even still… based on the story, and how Bertarn made it seem like she was universally reviled in this world, it was hard to know whether they would be able to do anything to her.

Perhaps Randidly should contact someone from the Northern Region…?

But that reminded him that the Engraving Guild was watching him, and the Styles here wanted him to stop associating with Azriel, and Randidly did not listen to them. Would they believe him, or support him…?

Behind all of this, there was this strange tension between Drak and Azriel, that included strange political forces forcing them together. Heavy in Randidly’s mind was the deal that Azriel made with Drak, that she would marry him. He wasn’t even sure yet why this was important, but it was only due to that action that he had made it to where he was now. After all, if he was unable to understand Drak’s strikes now, if he had fought him before...

Sighing, Randidly put all these thoughts aside, and instead focused his attention inward. There was so much to do, but there was another match before he was even against that domineering opponent; first Randidly would face Ciel, of the Steel Feather Style.

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