Drake shook his head. This really wasn’t the sort of thing that HE needed to think about. Better just stick to the grunt work. The Dungeon would work out, or it wouldn’t. All he needed to do was stay alive, and be the best Captain of the Guard he could be for Sydney when he made it out.
"There was something strange about the bat creatures," Annie interjected, her face still twisted like she had tasted something nasty. "Something... was wrong there."
Ace dug some wax out of his ear and flicked it onto the ground. "Doesn't it make sense that the Death Cultists feel weird? They worship death."
Annie just gave Ace a look. He rolled his eyes and threw up his hands.
Shaking her head, Rose looked around. "Let's leave that for now then. Anyone get any items."
"Saw a few condense in a flash of light," Alana grunted. "But... there was no space to gather them, and I figured we could sweep it after. I saw two."
"Six," Lucifer added softly, even while still looking at the ground, continuing to polish his sword.
“Annie, will you do a sweep, see what we have?” The Ghosthound asked. Annie nodded, then slipped out the door, instantly blending into the predawn light. Then the Ghosthound raised his hands to his head and rubbed his temples.
It helped a bit, Drake reflected, that the Ghosthound seemed to be completely exhausted after his display earlier. It was a small comfort to him that there was a bit of weakness to the man, after his earlier fight. But it was only a small comfort after he had witnessed the enemies melt before him. Even the strange turtle creature that the Ghosthound had summoned had eventually been overcome by the Ghosthound’s own spell, that seemed to warp the air and destroy the earth, leaving only destruction…
At the same time, several of the people in the party looked up sniffing, their eyes sharpening.
“Is that…” Ptolemy said slowly. Ace licked his lips. Even Lucifer, who was usually so stoic, focusing solely on his sword, well swords now, looked up, his eyes flashing.
Aratta popped up out of one of the side doors, carrying a tray. “Oh, you are all here? Goodmorning. I was just doing my baking. Would anyone want some cupcakes?”
Randidly chewed his cupcake very slowly. It was, he had to admit, very good. But the news he was receiving along with it was anything but.
“It seemed like the battlefield had been picked clean,” Annie said, doing a handstand while she gave her report. After a brief tremor, she straightened until she was only supported by a single arm, and then flexed upwards. But it only lasted for a moment, and she tumbled forward. “Not just the items, the bodies of the monsters too, it was all gone.”
“So… we should have a talk with our hosts, huh…?” Randidly whispered narrowing his eyes.
“There’s more. They brought back captives from their run to the Death Cultists’ lair, yea? But they were dumping the bodies in the forest by the time I came back out. They can’t have had them for more than two hours. I suppose the questioning… went poorly.”
Finishing his cupcake, Randidly wiped his hands on his reddish leather armor. That was… an interesting fact, but Randidly couldn’t find anything suspicious about it, on the surface. The Death Cultists were a foreign power, that apparently worshipped the end of all life. Taking prisoners and executing them… heavy-handed, but understandable. But still, Randidly felt… that he was missing something…
Adding the fact that they had swept the battlefield clean, without even so much as a word to their group… Randidly supposed it was their own fault for leaving it that way. But after the end of the battle…
Randidly shivered, closing his eyes. He could feel it even now, the reverberations that he felt when his Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil was turned up to 10. As he walked towards a monster and ripped through its consciousness with his very presence, leaving it writhing and screaming on the ground in front of him…
Besides that, Aratta struck Randidly as a bit…
Grimacing, he turned away. It would take time to track down that scent of Aether on her, and it was debatable whether they did have time. This was a Dungeon, so the outside world would keep for a bit, but… he didn’t like hesitating. If the Death Cultists were the enemy, he wanted to hit them hard and hit them fast, getting the Key of Death and then getting out of here.
There were some lingering doubts, in regards to that plan. The Creature was in here, Randidly knew, and also the Regalia of the Champions. And yet he had heard hide nor hair of it. That was… worrisome. And the Dungeon was taking on a perfectly acceptable shape, guiding them towards an enemy, with no hiccups. Were the Death Cultists the servants of the Creature? In addition, where the fuck were Jemma and Rhaidon? And the Wild Rider? They had been pulled into the Raid Dungeon with the group, and yet...
“One last thing…” Annie muttered, straightening. Then she shrugged and said. “I’m not sure if it means anything but... there is a different flavor around the village now. Or rather… it was subtle before, and now they are doing some sort of magic… that is very peculiar. It changes the air. Just thought you should know.”
Then Annie departed, scrambling out the window rather than walking out of the door to his small room. Randidly shook his head, a small smile on his face. That was… completely unnecessary, but he couldn’t find it in himself to say anything. Annie was finally liberated from her baby, and she was fucking savoring every second of vacation.
Sighing, Randidly rubbed his forehead. There simply wasn’t enough information. Tomorrow, he would talk with Cyndra and Dalton, then ask Rose and Clarissa their perspectives. Then they would… something.
“Fuck this... “ Randidly muttered settling down crosslegged. He didn’t get paid enough for this. Instead of working himself in circles over problems that he didn’t quite know the shape of, he instead opened up his status screen.
Fighting here had been good to Randidly, just as it had been to everyone else. He had reached Level 9 with the boost that he had obtained from completing the quest. In addition to that, he had gained quite a few Skill Levels. He had gained 11 Levels in Phantom’s Lantern, 3 in Grasp of Lava and Sharpness, 19 in Call Grove Defenders, 4 in Plant Dominance and Invigorating Call, 3 in Touch from Beyond, 1 in Sap Spray, 2 in Spear Mastery and Wall of Thorns, 7 in Four Shaded Domain, 3 in Phantom’s Embrace and the Indomitable Spirit of Yggdrasil, 2 in the Yyrwood Flesh of Yggdrasil and the Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil, and 1 in the Glittering Leaves of Yggdrasil and the Emerald Sap of Yggdrasil.
Then Randidly’s mouth twisted, because he did gain one more Skill Level, which was the reason that his head throbbed with pain since the earlier fight. When he had met the final monster that was standing and used this Skill, curious. And he had felt its vicious resistance, before being reduced to a husk of what it once was, stripped of Skills and identity.
He had gained 1 Level in Erode Image.
It was… a Skill that Randidly would think long and hard about before using again. It was certainly effective, but…
Then Randidly shook his head. He would consider it later. For now, time to advance his Path. His 72 PP wasn’t enough to finish off his Path of Control, but it took another huge chunk out of it and prepared him to move into the finishing stages.
In addition, again, the Blessing he obtained from his Soul Skill was much different than previous iterations.
Congratulations! You have received the Blessing of Murderous Cold as your Soul Skill revolves. +8 to Agility, Perception, and Reaction. As you become increasingly in tune with your surroundings, sensitivity to other’s attention and attitudes vastly increases!
The free Stats were completely gone, and there wasn’t even the added benefit of a Skill this time. Grunting, Randidly sat back, and then finally laying himself out on the bed, allowing himself some rest. It would just be for an hour or so, but…
He needed it.
Before he fell asleep, he looked at his Status Screen and smiled. He certainly had been growing well, now that he had a Class.
Class: Planting of the Forest of Enmity (+x5)
Level: 9 (90%)
Health(/R per hour): 2920/2395 [+730] (876 [+165])
Mana(/R per hour): 2149/2466 (392 [+9])
Stam(/R per min): 2350/2495 [+60] (305 [+45])
Vit: 213 (+15)
End: 127 (+20)
Str: 207 (+52)
Agi: 269 (+24)
Perception: 228 (+20)
Reaction: 219 (+15)
Resistance: 172 (+45)
Willpower: 286 (+10)
Wisdom: 135 (+9)
Focus: 262 (+4)
Progenitor’s Influence: 691
Equipment: 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), Masterwork Bone Cloak Lvl 50 (Vitality, Strength, Agility, Reaction, and Perception +10, Health +300, Resistance +30, Twilight Manipulation Lvl 75), Tough Leather Armor Lvl 41 (Health +200, Endurance +20, Reaction +5, Strength +7, Agility +9, Health R +100. Stamina R +30. 5% Lifesteal), Spine-Spear of an Ogre Gargantuan Lvl 44 (+30 Str)
Skills (Soul Skill): Four-Shaded Clockwork World Lvl 1924
Combat: Spear Mastery Lvl 153, White Phantom’s Half-Step (Un) Lvl 52, Heavy Blow Lvl 74, Dagger Mastery Lvl 10, Iron Skin Lvl 47, Dodge Lvl 80, Fighting Proficiency Lvl 120, Block Lvl 54, Phantom Onslaught Lvl 42, Sweep Lvl 54, Spear Deflect Lvl 10, Calculated Blow Lvl 78, Roundhouse Kick Lvl 41, Idiosyncratic Cut (Un) Lvl 70, Pierce the Skies, Shatter the Earth Lvl 39, Body Control: Freeze Lvl 27, Stalemate Breaker Lvl 29, Talon Strike Lvl 38, Counter Lvl 1
PoFE Class Skills: Plant Dominance ® Lvl 78, Spray Holy Sap (Un) Lvl 2, Sharpness Lvl 9, Call Grove Defenders ® Lvl 20, Earthquake (Un) Lvl 1, Invigorating Call (Humanity)(Un) Lvl 7, Four-Shaded Domain (A) Lvl 9, Phantom’s Lantern (Un) Lvl 12, Grasp of Lava ® Lvl 4, Erode Image (L) Lvl 2
The 7 Kata of the Ashen Spear (Ru): The Spear Advances, Ash Trails Lvl 51, As the Sun Stills ® Lvl 1
The 6 Signs of the Spear Phantom ®: The First Sign- The Inevitable Phantom Arrives Lvl 85 (Un), The Fifth Sign- The Spear Phantom’s Embrace ® Lvl 163, The Sixth Sign- The Breath of the Spear Phantom ® Lvl 26
Aether Skills: Aether Detection Lvl 73, Aether Manipulation Lvl 79, Living Aether ® Lvl 85, System Interference Lvl 8
Spells: Spearing Roots Lvl 70, Mana Bolt Lvl 28, Mana Shield Lvl 32, Arcane Orb Lvl 22, Fireball Lvl 30, Magic Missile Lvl 4, Healing Palm Lvl 12, Pollen of the Rafflesia Lvl 20, Summon Pestilence Lvl 54, Wall of Thorns Lvl 22, Soul Seed ®, Inspiration ®, Incinerating Bolt Lvl 79, Circle of Flame Lvl 53, Plantomancy Lvl 35, Hammer of the Dawn Lvl 37, Burning Footsteps Lvl 23, Ashes to Ashes (A) Lvl 24, Touch from Beyond ® Lvl 16
Crafting: Potion Making Lvl 37, Farming Lvl 32, Plant Breeding Lvl 19, Mapmaker Lvl 7, Analyze Lvl 29, Refine Lvl 39, Extract Lvl 29, Mana Engraving Lvl 91
Yggdrasil: Glittering Leaves of Yggdrasil (A) Lvl 102, The Golden Roots of Yggdrasil (A) Lvl 101, the Emerald Sap of Yggdrasil (A) Lvl 99, the Yyrwood Flesh of Yggdrasil (A) Lvl 107, the Indomitable Spirit of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 101, the Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil (A) Lvl 101
Auxiliary: Sneak Lvl 46, Acid Resistance Lvl 22, Poison Resistance Lvl 21, Pain Resistance Lvl 61, First Aid Lvl 16, Pathfinding Lvl 18, Fire Resistance Lvl 23, Sewing Lvl 11, Cutting Vegetables Lvl 2, Manual Labor Lvl 6, Digging Lvl 5, Cooking Lvl 53, Clockwork Mastery Lvl 16, Aether Connection (A) Lvl 3, Soul Bond Lvl 80, Chef’s Palette Lvl 24, Nether Resistance Lvl 3, Child of the Rain (Un) Lvl 1