Randidly came out of his Soulskill releasing a long breath. His experience there was to come seeking final answers and to leave with only questions. Difficult, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t progress. He hoped that soon, the population of people in his Soulskill would stabilize and spread out; there was no way to feed that many people camped in one spot.
But that would require further expansion, which Randidly had mixed feelings about assisting. To his amusement, he was able to gain experience inside of his Soulskill. Which seemed broken, somehow. But of course, the only areas that were exposed had monsters between Level 1 and Level 8. There was a Level 10 Giant Centipede that was walking around that even Rejt steered clear of, but such a small monster could be killed accidentally by Randidly.
Someday, however, there might be monsters that could materially affect his experience gauge. It didn’t have the benefits of a Dungeon, but it was an area that he wouldn’t be attacked by enemies of any sort.
Once out of the Soulskill, Randidly checked in on where they were. The fleet had made it back to the Spearman School in record time and was now floating up the Hallat river toward Hastam. Unfortunately, they were now going against the current. Much of Versault’s wind image was spent simply resisting that current.
Of course, their speed was incomparable with what it would have been without Versault. Well, assuming Randidly didn’t just control all of the longboats to grow legs and simply walk along the river to make it back.
At that thought, Randidly considered his Mana pool and winced. He was running pretty low. Although he only needed to maintain a small touch, he had been forced to feed these boats a constant supply in order for them not to spark and burn to ash. Abandoning his newly christened army wasn’t exactly how he wanted this day to go.
Although, Randidly didn’t plan on bringing them to this final fight. It would be a waste of life.
Based on their current speed, he would be able to maintain the slight flows of Mana until they reached Hastam, but it might be an issue that he wouldn’t have any Mana to fight with for a while. And the only reason that he had been able to survive this long was that he gathered addition Mana with his Mana recharge Skill From Darkness, Genesis.
Honestly, he had forgotten about it entirely. Just when he was panicking, he had a rather large bump and saw his Regeneration spike upward.
It was hard to Level because it could only be used once a week, but it was definitely worth improving as much as possible.
But now, Randidly finally turned his attention to his Skill growth and what Paths he would choose. Part of the cost of creating the Soulskill was severing his Godling status. Therefore, his monstrously long Intrepid Will of the Godling Path had been destroyed. He retained all the Willpower that he had already gained, but he would receive no other bonuses for the 200 or so PP he had put into that Path.
Which genuinely disappointed Randidly. Based upon the bonuses he had received thus far, the final reward would have been very satisfying. But there was nothing that he could do now.
All things have costs.
This round of improvements was another example of Randidly gaining one or two Skill Levels in most of his Skills and the total just reaching ridiculous heights. There were a few exceptions that were worth commenting on, however.
The biggest grower was Ignition of the Emerald Essence, which had risen by 20 Skill Levels. Randidly suspected part of it was that he had imparted it upon quite a few individuals, but he had also used it heavily to shape his Soulskill toward the end. It was useful, and also the new engine that drove his different fire based Skills.
Disturbingly, the System Interference Skill jumped up by 13 Levels at some point. For whatever reason, Randidly had missed those notifications. The most likely culprit was the Soulskill creation itself, but Randidly couldn’t be sure if it all came from that. Luckily, it hadn’t triggered his Heretic Judgement, but that had to be coming soon...
Another big jump was 9 Levels in Erode Image and All is Ash. Randidly suspected that growth was from his brief contest with Versault that left both of them shocked at the other’s prowess. He wouldn’t easily piss of Versault again.
But I might not have a choice. Randidly reflected, reflexively polishing a wiggling Acri. Everyone else has already lost. Only opponents of that caliber are left to fight.
Still, after Lucretia pointed it out, Randidly had been thinking very deeply how he should handle the fight that was about to occur. He needed to find a way to stop reacting to someone else’s plans, but it wasn’t as easy as he had hoped to find another way.
Randidly had earned himself 156 PP over the last few weeks. With a satisfied hum, Randidly opened his Path Menu and looked at the options.
Heretic XXIX 0/???, Nexus Traveler Cohort 5 0/50, Experimenter I 0/50, System Transgressor 0/1, Friend to Humanity 0/100, War Leader 0/200, Mantle of the Patron 0/500, Metallurgist 0/300, Advanced Mana Engraving 0/400, Aether Convergence II ???, Perfect Soul Bond 0/1000, the Bell of Doom Tolls 0/600, Growth of Yggdrasil III 0/2000, Fiery Sharpshooter 0/350, The Ashes of Ulaat, Patron of Ash 0/1000, Order Ducis: Font of Guidance ???, Humanity’s Torch 0/500, Bearing of a Teacher ???, Puppet Master 0/100, Alpha Cosmos I: The Intermingling 0/200, Mana Lich 0/500, Ashen Aura I 0/???
Randidly grimaced. Just a lot of shit to sift through. And at the moment, he didn’t have any long term goals that these Paths easily satisfied. He had simply earned himself too many choices.
There was a feeling in the air of Tellus that seemed to indicate that the final battle was coming up quickly. That heartbeat of images in the sky that had emerged after the battle at Southbeach was slowing toward cessation. There wasn’t much time left for this world. Hopefully, the energy lifeblood would be jump-started by an Ascension, but...
Tellus had been stuck between two places for far too long. The energy that had kept it going had been sacrificed to make the duel between Silo and Shal, and Azriel had ripped that plan to shreds. ‘So now what?’ The world seemed to ask.
Without any personal goal, the short Paths were as viable as the long ones. But there wasn’t any point in just finishing a short Path, because even if Randidly obtained a strong Skill, it would still be Level 1. Randidly’s stats might be high, but that would be barely enough to be usable in a real life or death fight.
Randidly eliminated the usual suspect that had been clogging up his options for quite a long time and considered the three new arrivals. The Alpha Cosmos I: The Intermingling might empower his Soulskill. That was a pretty attractive option. As far as Mana LIch was concerned, it seemed to be an upgraded form of Mana Ghoul.
That would probably be useful to finish, but also unexciting. Mana was a substance Randidly used a lot, but it wouldn’t be the thing that determined victory and loss in battle.
Ashen Aura seemed to have been earned when All is Ash reached Level 100. Just for that alone, it was an attractive option. But Randidly was inherently suspicious of Paths that ended in question marks. He had been burned too many times by Paths that should have been easy and ended up being several hundred long.
For all his PP gathering speed had increased, he wasn’t that quick.
In addition… Randidly believed that his thoughts about Versault’s image were true. If he had no immediate needs, it would be good to gain a mass buff that he could slowly improve. So Randidly looked at the Paths that might provide those sort of Skills
Friend to Humanity 0/100, War Leader 0/200, Mantle of the Patron 0/500, Order Ducis: Font of Guidance ???, Humanity’s Torch 0/500, Bearing of a Teacher ???, Puppet Master 0/100
Randidly grimaced. Of them all, Puppet Master and Friend to Humanity were the only ones he could complete on the spot. Neither seemed the most interesting of the options…
Well, if he was going to go this route, he didn’t want to gamble overmuch with Path length, but he definitely wanted to receive a Skill that would be useful. Which meant War Leader. With his current PP, he wouldn’t be far from finishing after dumping all of the PP he gathered into it. And as a War Leader, it seemed to make a certain amount of sense he would have some sort of leader-centric Skill.
Still, Randidly was probably most tempted by Humanity’s Torch. But 500 PP investment right now…
Shrugging, Randidly poured his 156 PP into War Leader. Every 10 PP he spent, he earned 1 free stat, which was rather bland but still a nice touch. These extra stats he put into Endurance. It was high time that he started to funnel some stats into it, so he wasn’t so bad at taking direct attacks.
Randidly had a feeling that against the caliber of opponents that he would soon need to fight, he would need the survivability.
Afterward, Randidly looked at his Stats in satisfaction.
Class: Lord of the Baleful Wood (+x5)
Level: 39 (6%)
Health(/R per hour): 4946/4946 (2504)
Mana(/R per hour): 986/5449 (1963)
Stam(/R per min): 4713/4797 (797)
Skills (Soul Skill): Figure of the Alpha Cosmos Lvl 156
Combat: Spear Mastery Lvl 199, White Phantom’s Half-Step (Un) Lvl 92, Heavy Blow Lvl 113, Iron Skin Lvl 47, Dodge Lvl 110, Fighting Experience (Un) Lvl 156, Block Lvl 77, Phantom Onslaught Lvl 42, Calculated Blow Lvl 101, Roundhouse Kick Lvl 76, Idiosyncratic Cut (Un) Lvl 120, Stalemate Breaker Lvl 63, Talon Strike Lvl 90, Counter Lvl 86
LoBW Class Skills: Grasp of the World Seed (L) Lvl 222, Spray Holy Sap (Un) Lvl 25, Sharpness Lvl 109, Call Grove Defenders ® Lvl 34, Earthquake (Un) Lvl 47, Invigorating Call (Humanity)(Un) Lvl 14, Reach of the Jade Slag (Ru) Lvl 104, Erode Image (L) Lvl 19, Spriggit’s Tinkering ® Lvl 94, Aether Understanding (A) Lvl 64, Summon Lava Golem (Un) Lvl 46, Aether Infusion Lvl 46, Volatile Ash (A) Lvl 33, Visualization ® Lvl 180, Fruit of the Planting of Enmity (L) Lvl 25, Absolute Timing (Ru) Lvl 52, Cycle of the Gloomy Wood ® Lvl 16
The 7 Kata of the Ashen Spear (L): The Spear Advances, Ash Trails Lvl 104, As the Sun Stills (A) Lvl 76, When a Shadow Departs, Fireflies Dance (Un) Lvl 64, All is Ash (L) Lvl 100, Frigid Ash, Extinguishing Storm (Ru) Lvl 50
The 6 Signs of the Spear Phantom ®: The First Sign- The Inevitable Phantom Arrives Lvl 117 (Un), The Fifth Sign- The Wild Phantom’s Embrace (A) Lvl 195, The Sixth Sign- The Breath of the Spear Phantom ® Lvl 74
Aether Skills: Aether Detection Lvl 122, Aether Manipulation Lvl 121, Living Aether ® Lvl 111, System Interference Lvl 40
Spells: Yggdrasil Soul Seed ®, Inspiration ®, Ignition Bolt ® Lvl 106, Verdant Nova (Un) Lvl 78, Plantomancy Lvl 35, Burning Footsteps Lvl 23, Touch from Beyond ® Lvl 37, Influence of the Molten Core ® Lvl 84, Eruption of the Blazing Leyline (Ru) Lvl 74, Ignition of the Emerald Essence (L) Lvl 49
Crafting: Potion Making Lvl 73, Farming Lvl 34, Analyze Lvl 29, Refine Lvl 72, Extract Lvl 58, Mana Engraving Lvl 173
Yggdrasil, the Tree of Upheaval: Glittering Leaves of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 131, The Golden Roots of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 158, the Emerald Sap of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 150, the Yyrwood Flesh of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 169, the Deific Mien of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 146, the Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil (L) Lvl 139, Crown of Yggdrasil: Cataclysm and Gloom (L) Lvl 95
Auxiliary: Sneak Lvl 56, Acid Resistance Lvl 22, Poison Resistance Lvl 21, Pain Resistance Lvl 84, Fire Resistance Lvl 103, Sewing Lvl 11, Digging Lvl 5, Cooking Lvl 77, Clockwork Mastery Lvl 25, Aether Connection (A) Lvl 21, Soul Bond Lvl 110, Chef’s Palette Lvl 33, Nether Resistance Lvl 20, Child of the Rain (Un) Lvl 45, Chosen of Ash (A) Lvl 125, Engineering Savvy ® Lvl 112, From Darkness, Genesis ® Lvl 10
The only problem was…
Randidly’s face twisted into a frown.
...he hadn’t gotten anything from 150 PP into his Soulskill…