After listening to Azriel’s short explanation, Randidly wasn’t sure what to say. The two were sitting off to the side with the rest of the group after Randidly regained enough Mana to form some of the wood from the broken boats into a seaworthy vessel. It took some time to catch back up, but that was mainly due to neither of them possessing any sailing Skills.
Sergeant Platton and his squad were resting while the four individuals competing in the competition were standing guard. Apparently, they had been fighting behind enemy lines for almost a month and were completely exhausted mentally and physically. They needed the break. As Silo was sneaking off to absorb some more energy and Skarch was largely indifferent to Randidly and Azriel when they weren’t playing the image game, it gave the two of them some privacy.
For which Randidly was glad that they had some space to speak.
“Yes, it was this prophecy that made the Central Domain’s response to Aemont and Shal so confusing,” Azriel said shortly. “It was foretold that the one who would defeat the great enemy, by his works, would be capable of slaying Wight royalty… a Propagator. It is a great monster amongst them that is responsible for their impossibly fast growth. The only individual to do this is Aemont.”
“That was his great quest,” Randidly said slowly. Several pieces fell into place in Randidly’s head. “The request of his father-in-law to marry the woman that he loved… he needed to slay a Propagator.”
“An impossible task, yes,” Azriel said with a nod. “Not only due to their personal strength, but they are the royalty of the Wights. In a game of chess, they are the kings to the Witch King’s queen. They are rarely seen near the front lines, and penetrating into the deepest parts of the Wight’s world is nearly impossible. The Wight’s planet… it is a dying thing.”
“And Shal… is considered to be… one of the works of Aemont, the Propagator slayer?” Randidly asked dubiously.
Shrugging, Azriel seemed relatively non-committal. “The prophecy is well documented and very specific. It was thought to be Aemont for the longest time… but… when he died, Shal was all that remained. For this reason, representatives from other Schools tracked him down and whisked him away… to where I know not. But he is facing larger enemies than we. There was once a lot of debate about who ‘the great enemy’ was, but after the Wights struck...”
Randidly considered this with a frown. He vaguely remembered that there was a prophecy circling around about Shal. But it was somewhat hard for Randidly to believe that Shal was supposed to strike against the Wights in a powerful way. Shal was half-Wight himself, although there were probably only a few people other than himself that knew this fact. How would a strike even happen?
More likely was that the great enemy was the Calamity or the System. That perked up Randidly’s ears because it was true that Shal was Aemont’s son, but Aemont also had a profound effect on Randidly himself. Was it possible that the prophecy of this world actually referred to Randidly?
Well, that might be a bit of a narcissistic thought, Randidly thought with a wry smile. It was enough to know that people here put emphasis on it. Undoubtedly, there were powers that were aware that Randidly existed, and was also a member of the Spear Phantom Style. If they wanted to contact him, they would have.
“Thanks,” Randidly said shortly. Azriel flashed him a smile, but it was thorny. She turned and walked away in a huff, causing Randidly to chuckle. Azriel didn’t appreciate losing to him in their race. His Phantom Half-Step was simply too useful for moving between the boats, giving him a huge advantage. No matter the distance, Phantom Half-Step covered half of it. The cost was relatively high for a movement Skill, but as his Statistics improved, such a thing was very affordable.
“Huhu, if you have the energy of good cheer, you have energy to cook,” Skarch said, looking up from her spear. She smiled sweetly at Randidly. “Unless you are in the mood for image training.”
Glumly, Randidly went about preparing food for the group without a word. It increased his Cooking Level anyway, which wasn’t a small thing. It just wasn’t exciting. But it did give him a chance to consider his new Skills Fruit of the Planting of Enmity and Absolute Timing. Very quickly, he had created a pot of stew and served Skarch a bowl so he could be alone with his thoughts.
Absolute Timing was a passive that gave Randidly an almost scary impression of timing. Over the course of slaughtering those Wights he had gained 8 Levels in it, and it already gave a fuzzy sense of the timing of the attacks of the Wights. All it required was a little understanding of moves and Randidly could accurately predict how they would behave from that point on. Honestly, it seemed like a version of exactly the Skill that made Azriel so dominant, Crystal Memory.
On the other hand…
Randidly glanced around with a frown. They were resting currently, so he likely would have the opportunity to try it out right now. Four hours in a row was a long time, but there likely wouldn’t be many other chances in the near future. The contest was important, and hearing of the strange prophecy regarding Shal put Randidly back on the path of finding information while here. That prophecy might truly be regarding the Calamity. If so, then Randidly could learn a lot regarding what it entailed.
Finding information about what had happened before didn’t seem likely, but Randidly still had hopes that the true powers in this world would know something relevant. The powerful Styles in the Central Domain had existed since the origin of the different Schools beneath the Tassle of the Spearman. They were not casual organizations.
All of this simply meant Randidly would be busy. So he took advantage of this break and spent the next four hours sitting silently with the Skill activated. Luckily, Sergeant Platton’s party seemed extremely drained, because they still hadn’t left their quarters by the time Randidly finished with the Skill. With a shocked expression, Randidly looked down at the item he obtained after the four hours.
The Amber Fruit of Dignity Lvl 1: One of the five fruits of the Forest of Enmity. For every day that passes, will increase in Level by 1. Consumption will result in certain permanent benefits to the consumer. Benefits increase with Level. At Level 100, it becomes possible to inherit certain traits from the original creator of the fruit. As it is the Fruit of the Forest of Enmity, there is a deep unwillingness within the fruit. Eating will cause a certain amount of interference with the System of the Nexus. Consume at your own risk.
Randidly frowned as he looked down to the small fruit in his hand. It looked like a golden strawberry and glistened in the light from their fire. Honestly, he had more questions now than he did before he used the Skill. The Skill Level had gone up by 1, which was nice, but there wasn’t really an effective way to figure out the effect of the fruit.
Aside from eating it, of course.
Randidly popped the thing into his mouth. It was surprisingly chewy and sour, almost as if it really wasn’t truly ripe as of yet. What Randidly was actually interested in was the traits that someone could eat that would inherit from him, but…
As the creator, certain benefits provided by the fruit are no longer applicable. The benefits applied to you are reduced by 50%. Certain synergies were ignored.
Congratulations! Your Stamina has increased by 10.
Still, this was a good haul, Randidly thought as he rubbed his chin. Attribute increases were valuable. 10 was the value at Level 1, with a 50% reduction. Plus the other, blocked effects could make such things even more valuable. It seemed like Randidly’s fluids were becoming more and more valuable.
Unfortunately, Sergeant Platton appeared after only a single hour into his next Skill, so Randidly could only release it with a sigh. There would be other chances eventually. Besides, relying on such things weren’t a way to true strength. At Randidly’s Level, a little bit more of an Attribute was only so valuable. Sharpening his Skill utilization was much more important.
“I have to admit, I had heard rumors about you.” Sergeant Platton began. As he spoke, his eyes went over to Silo and lingered there. “It was for that reason only that I departed to take advantage of the opponents’ weakness before you had arrived. But your capabilities today proved me wrong. Thank you.”
“Please, we are at war.” Silo said with a manly nod. “There is no need to stand on ceremony. You were doing your best to fight against the Wights; if anything we should be thanking you.”
Azriel rolled her eyes, but Sergeant Platton seemed somewhat touched.
“Heh, maybe it isn’t true that all of our youngsters have no idea about respect… well then. As a reward, here.” Sergeant Platton produced a brightly glowing Soulstone. “We Sergeants were given these Soulstones ahead of time to gather a bit of a reward… take 100 souls each for your assistance.”
The light filtered out and into their individual stones. The light of Sergeant Platton’s Soulstone barely dimmed at all. This seemed strange to Randidly. It had made more sense now how the rich Styles could benefit their youth by giving them stronger Sergeants. A better Sergeant meant more rewards.
But based upon the fact it hadn’t dimmed after sending away 400 lives… wasn’t Sergeant Platton surprisingly capable?
“I’ll cut right to the chase,” Sergeant Platton said. “I believe that a nearby island is being converted into a Poison Maw in preparation to launch an offensive on the Central Domain. But we need proof. If you can help me find that… the rest of the souls I have gathered can be yours.”