Randidly moved his hand through the floating stone. It was a floating heptadecagon, Dinesh informed them, but to Randidly it just looked like a cloudy light-refracting crystal. It was a soft grey color, and it was clearly the Fate Stone.
Randidly turned towards Tatiana. “Well, it seemed that the person who struck the final blow is the only person who could take it. Too bad we have no way of finding out what happens if you die.”
Tatiana gave him a sharp look. He chuckled and gestured for her to go towards it.
Even with their group, the fight against the three-headed Ogre had been more difficult than Randidly had expected. It truly seemed that not only had it grown stronger, but his act of striking it with all of those Skills the prior time had given it a resistance against fire based damage. It was growing to respond to threats. It was… a disturbing fact, but one Randidly would consider more directly later.
Still, with himself, Neveah, and Tykes asking as physical wrecking balls, to distract it, the others had not had much difficulty whittling its massive health down. Three vicious fighters, one for each spellcasting head, was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Although it was a little touch and go at the end as the thing regenerated, they had even managed to give Tatiana the final hit, which pushed her up to Level 46. And now, it was time to see what the fate stone did.
Tatiana reached out and touched it. Her eyes went black, as ink seemed to flood up and cover her eyeballs. “Oh… oh!”
“What is it?” Randidly asked, doing his best to keep his voice casual. There was something in her tone that seemed to set off alarms in his head. Although it would have put him over the Level 25 limit if he had killed the Ogre, perhaps being the one exposed to this was for the best. If it did something like making someone a Champion or-
“I have options. I can choose from three options… Oh, wow. The first option is to triple all of my stats and double the rate at which I collect experience.”
“Triple-” Randidly almost choked on his tongue. Even if he was outlawed from gaining more experience, killing another Danger Zone Boss would be worth it for that benefit. Everyone else had a similarly slack-jawed look. “...and what are the other options?”
“The second one is that everyone in my party gains 75 in every stat. And also everyone from my Village will gain 50% more experience. The third… jesus, all of my race will gain 5 in every stat, and everyone will gain 25% increased experience. And it also specifies at the bottom, that an individual can only have their total experience gained to 200%.”
Randidly’s expression turned extremely grim. But before he could say anything about his suspicions, Tatiana said, “Oh, and there is a strange line in gold at the bottom. ‘Only by a hero with a greater fate may the Second Calamity be overcome.’ What does that mean? Do you think-”
“Later,” Randidly said, pressing his eyes closed. He looked around in the group. “Are we in agreement… the third option should be used?”
“That’s a lot of stats to toss aside,” Tykes grunted.
Hank spat. “This is about total experience though, ain’t it? And points? We get 525 concentrated stat points, or we give out 3 million or so.”
“The benefits stack, too, up to the 200%.” Dinesh said quietly. “But it might be very hard for most people to resist the temptation of having your own stats triple. Randidly, what would that make your Agility?”
“...Like 1200,” Randidly admitted.
“Looks like this is just another temptation the Unity Church and the Chivalric Orders will save us from, praise God.” Tykes said with a scowl, but Randidly chuckled. He knew the other man would also choose to give the benefit to more people.
And then Tatiana must have selected that third option because a notification popped up.
Congratulations, denizens of New Earth. The Ogre Ravine has been cleared! The party has elected to share the reward with the World. Everyone receives +5 to all stats. All children of your race are born with this benefit. All experience gained is increased by an addition 25%. The total bonus experience gained is now: 25%.
For clearing the Ogre Ravine, the Danger Zone is now connected to the Ogre Ravine Realm. There, even more powerful armies of Ogres live. Their attention will not be drawn to the new portal, but they will be able to traverse the worlds just as well as you can. Care, because it will be difficult for a developing world to reach its full potential if it is at war.
For clearing a Danger Zone, the rate of growth in other Danger Zones will be slightly higher for the next month.
Randidly swore quietly, looking at the notification. It would be good in one way, but in another, it would reveal the possibilities of obtaining a great reward in Danger Zones. And Randidly wasn’t sure what scared him more; the possibility that people would just rush in and die, or that someone would succeed and get a Fate Stone?
“Do you think there is a break even point?” Dinesh asked as the party seemed to be considering the announcement. “Where if you tripled your stats enough times, focusing on one person would-”
“Maybe, but I think our concern should be focused on other things,” Randidly said, thinking about the line included in the options.
Only by a hero with a greater fate may the Second Calamity be overcome.
Would that be… Level 100? Higher? So what was required would really be... experience, not explicitly powerful stats.
The next thing Randidly did was investigate the portal to the world of the Ogre Ravine. Immediately after passing through the portal, Randidly’s expression soured. Luckily, the portal was hidden under a deep waterfall. It would be difficult for anyone on this side to locate. But the first thing Randidly noticed when he arrived was that this world had extremely thin Aether. And the portal they had made was blowing out Aether like a chimney belching smoke.
Already, he could sense that the vegetation nearby was swelling to almost double its previous size. This world had been on an Aether fast for quite a long time, and now it was ready to eat its fill. Randidly attempted to gather the Aether, but this was System Aether, and difficult to work with effectively. It was chalky and stiff, and every time he thought he had a firm grasp on it, it dissolved and flowed between his fingers.
Likely, it was possible to gather it if Randidly stayed her for a long time, but Randidly didn’t intend to do that. And as he expanded his senses outward, Randidly only saw small creatures under Level 10. When he looked even farther abroad, he found a village of ogres. Not a System Village, but just a series of huts and farms. The highest Level these people possessed was only 22, and based on the current expansion, it would take two months before the Aether reached those people. So the issue of the Ogre Ravine world would wait for a few months.
His worries dealt with, for now, Randidly returned to the world. Also luckily, no time hijinks between the world. That made him feel even better. Gathering everyone up, they returned to the headquarters of Erickson Steel by walking South and West, passing just North of the Chivalric Order Press Conference in order to avoid the hubbub.
Randidly’s timing was spot on; they sat in the train car and watched the whole of the conference. Everyone was quiet in the aftermath, especially Randidly. Although he wasn’t nearly as skilled as Lucretia, he still had a sense for the threads of karma forming. And with this speech of Tessa’s, he felt as people’s belief bound him tighter and tighter to the fate of the Chivalric Orders, and also the Earth.
Requarian and Requiessor. They were names and responsibilities.
Randidly supposed he could refuse. But would that make things better? Tessa had essentially made Randidly the disciplinary arm of the Chivalric Order. He had been named as the founder of an entire order, which he supposed was something he should consider. The Order Ducis.
“She always did like making everyone happy,” Randidly said, closing his eyes and shutting off the world. Now, he could act as he pleased, but it would be said he acted to police the Orders. Tessa could continue to decry the irresponsible use of power, and Randidly wouldn’t be a counterexample, because he was an established and recognized part of the Orders.
They were using him, to add legitimacy to the Orders. But they were also allowing him to use them to do what he pleased with an official mandate. It was a pointless game.
But, Randidly supposed, part of becoming an adult was realizing that it is selfish to insist other play solely your games, or refuse to play at all. That was just a part of life. You accepted some games that others thrust upon you.
Slowly, Randidly opened up a message and replied an affirmative to Helen: despite these things, he would still go to Shal’s world in a week. After sending the message, Randidly grinned at the floor.
“Your Requarian and Requiessor will start his tenure by going on vacation. But when he gets back… you can bet that I’ll rip anything that threatens Humanity to shreds.”