|Basic Craftsmanship [E-Rank (Middle Tier)]|
A skill for those who have only just begun their long and arduous journey as a craftsman.
Most toddlers affiliated with the system have this skill passively after playing with some building blocks, but hey, who am I to judge you for being a slow learner?
|All crafting done by the host shall be 5% more efficient.|
|The host will have a slightly easier time crafting all things.|
|The host will have a slightly easier time understanding how something was crafted.|
"System, please upgrade my Basic Crafting skill," Daz said now that this skill had reached the max level.
|Upgrade of skill [Basic Craftsmanship] to [Beginner Craftsmanship]. Cost: 500 merit points(90% discount for having obtained max level). Confirm purchase?|
"Ha-ah," Daz sighed. "This two-step authorisation is always so tedious... Yes, confirm the purchase."
|Confirmed. The total merit balance of the host is now: 578,710.|
|Beginner Craftsmanship [D-Rank (Middle Tier)] [Up 1 entire rank!]|
A skill for those who have spent some time on their long and arduous journey as a craftsman, but are still new to the art.
Congratulations on graduating from toddler status! Now you can happily join the ranks of Dwarven babies. Aren't you proud?
|All crafting done by the host shall be 10% [Up by 5%] more efficient.|
|The host will have a noticeably easier [Up from slightly] time crafting all things.|
|The host will have a noticeably easier [Up from slightly] time understanding how something was crafted.|
|[New!] Grants the skill: Lesser Crafting Identification.|
|The skill [Lesser Crafting Identification] has been assimilated into [Higher Identification].|
|Congratulations! The host's skill, Higher Identification [SS-Rank (Middle Tier)], has reached level 2!|
"Well, that was unexpected. Was it close to levelling up regardless, or did Lesser Crafting Identification push it over the edge?" Daz thought for a moment before he shook his head.
"It doesn't matter. I'm not gonna waste merit points to check. Higher Identification isn't in a desperate need of an upgrade and I doubt I can afford the next tier even with a 90% discount," Daz said to himself.
Reika, who was peacefully sitting on his head, looked at the Reaper strangely. 'Why do you talk to yourself so often? We find it very disturbing.'
"Because I get along with myself the best, excluding Rimmy, of course. I love Maddy, but she's not the best talking partner, now is she? And you've seen how Rose acts ninety-nine percent of the time," Daz explained light-heartedly.
Reika looked shocked. 'We are sorry. We never thought of that. We pity you. You can always talk to us, you know?'
"I could, in private I guess. Every time I have a conversation with you in public people start spreading more rumours about how insane I am," Daz said with a short laugh.
'Are they really rumours when they're true?' Reika asked as she held her chin and took a cute pose.
Daz smiled before he flicked the incorporeal girl, scattering her body momentarily. "You're just as rude as Rose is sometimes, you know that?"
'We could be ruder. We could go back to calling you 'Insolent Fool'. Would you like that?' Reika teased as she returned to Daz's hair.
"Please, spare me," Daz said with an exaggerated tone in his voice.
After that short exchange, Daz stored all of his merit points in the bank once again to profit fully from the interest before he decided to do some training. He wanted to level up his shovel arts as much as possible since it seemed to be an incredibly useful skill.
"Are you sure you don't want to go watch Fiona's play? It's her debut," Mave asked as she looked at Lyle.
His face was cleanly shaven and he seemed far more healthy now than he had ever looked. With the help of his stats and Mave's attentive care, he'd made a full recovery from being a heroin addict.
Shaking his head, Lyle said, "I need to apologise to the Lord as soon as possible before I start training. I can hardly help much in this state, can I? I did get a lot of points from the quests I was getting during my withdrawal period, and it seems several gods admired and pitied me, but I need to figure out my true fighting style before I can spend any of these points."
As Lyle had said, he hadn't lost out in merit points at all. In fact, he had even gained more than some of the fighters like Dorian and Edward.
As Rose had once said, this was a test of adaptability, not a test of fighting prowess or might.
The only people that adapted more than Lyle so far were Madison, Daz and Crusher. This just showed how much effort Lyle had put in to change himself.
"Well, fine, but I'm coming with you. You can hardly tie your shoelaces by yourself. I fully expect you to fumble over your words as well," Mave said in a quiet tone as she adjusted her glasses.
Lyle looked at the short woman who was older than himself and grinned. "Thanks, I'd love that."
Mave shoved him lightly and walked out of her home. Lyle had seen her cheeks were red even though she was grumbling and fuming about. The two found Daz rather quickly and waited for him to finish his set of training moves before they approached him.
Wiping off his sweat with a towel, Daz looked at Lyle and Mave with a confused expression on his face. "Lyle?"
"Yes, My Lord, it's me. I'm glad to see that you're doing well," Lyle replied with a short bow.
"I'm here too," Mave retorted unhappily.
"I know you are, Mave. Except, you don't look completely different. I'm surprised that a person as skinny as you, Lyle, could end up even skinnier, but somehow look healthier for it. I'm assuming you kicked your habit or found a non-harmful replacement from the system, yeah?" Daz asked as he sat down on one of the training area's benches.
Lyle smiled wryly as he took a place next to Daz. Mave seated herself on Lyle's other side. "Mave was kind enough to hold my hand through the withdrawal and recovery of my... habit."
"I see." Daz nodded his head and took a big drink out of his water bottle that was on the ground before he leaned back his head and closed his eyes. "I'm proud of you. I never would have accepted you back as my advisor if you chose an alternative drug."
"My Lord?" Lyle's voice shook and his breathing sped up.
"I don't need someone so weak-willed that they won't change themselves to benefit me and Fort Skip. You're a strong-willed person, Lyle. I need strong-willed people by my side. That is, of course, assuming you still wish to advise me," Daz said with a smile on his lips as he looked at the man who was more than a decade older than himself.
Neither cared about their difference in age or life experiences. Each man had a specific goal that they wanted to achieve, and the old cultural barriers of society meant nothing to these two people who had started new lives in the system's apocalypse.
"I should have known that you were testing me when you suggested something like that... hahaha." Lyle smiled wryly.
Daz pulled his pipe out from his pants and lit it before smoking a bit. Mave saw this and frowned. "What a hypocrite."
"Mave!" Lyle yelled.
Daz laughed. "I'm not addicted to this stuff. Controlling his desires instead of curbing them was also a form of change that I would have accepted. Lyle was a slave to drugs, don't forget that, Mave."
Mave wanted to retort, but Lyle's gaze told her that it would be better to stay quiet instead of trying to argue against Daz. Lyle knew about his Lord's Legendary Gift of The Gab skill, so no matter what he said, as long as Daz didn't start talking complete nonsense, eventually you'd start agreeing with him.
"So, Lyle. How many merit points do you have in total?" Daz suddenly asked.
Lyle smirked. "Over seven-hundred thousand. It's all sitting in the bank waiting for tomorrow morning."
Daz nodded approvingly. "I see."
Lyle was a bit flustered. 'He's not shocked? Did he expect me to earn that much? Hahaha... Of course the Lord would have already found out the true nature of this test, it's just a bit surprising that he was aware of how much of a change becoming clean was for me.'
Daz knocked away the ash from his pipe and said, "I'll see you tomorrow afternoon then. I still have more training to do."
Lyle immediately knew the meaning hidden behind Daz's words. "Thank you, My Lord! I won't ever disappoint you again!"
"I hope not," Daz replied in a joking manner before he got up and started doing some light stretches.
Lyle and Mave also stood up and began leaving the training area, but just before they left, Daz called out to them. "Lyle, good for you."
Confused, Lyle asked, "Pardon, My Lord?"
"I didn't know you liked short women," the Reaper teased with a knowing smile on his face.
Lyle still looked a bit perplexed, but Mave's cheeks were covered in a blanket of crimson. She glared daggers at Daz before grabbing Lyle's arm and dragging him away.
Daz grinned. "It's a bit frightening how much love can change a person, either when giving it or receiving it, huh?"
'We would not know. We have never loved anyone before nor ever received love, just a wild possessive obsession from our father,' Reika commented.
"You didn't fall in love with the Hero while enslaved to him?" Daz asked.
Reika's face crumpled up. 'Please, we only wanted someone to talk to and become friends with. What use is love when we are but a ghost?'
"You say that, but I've seen you watching me and Maddy during the night. You're not a very honest soul, are you?" Daz said with a chuckle before he resumed his Shovel Arts training.
If her face could have colour in it, surely Reika's cheeks would be flushed right now. Regardless of this, she still put on an angry expression and punched Daz's head over and over again even though she was incorporeal.
'Insolent Fool! Insolent Fool!' Reika yelled at the top of her tiny lungs.
Daz found this endearing. A few days ago, he would have scoffed at such a humorous display, but now, he could appreciate everything more aptly. He knew that Reika wasn't actually angry and was happy that Daz was being playful with her.
'Still, I really do need to get a body for her, or at the very least, some clothes. The more souls she absorbs, the more of an issue her being naked is gradually becoming,' Daz thought a bit absentmindedly.
And it was in that peaceful atmosphere that the second night of the second cycle slowly ticked by, and the third day of the second cycle rolled around for Fort Skip.
On the far western coast of Northern America, a small speedboat of Chinese origin slowly sank into the ocean.
A tiny figure could be seen flying through the air of a black cloud just past this broken vessel. A few moments passed before this man landed on the beach.
Shen Mu brushed himself off and he had a deep frown on his face, but after a few seconds, he beamed a toothy smile.
"The Kraken was unexpected, but hey, I made it. Stupid wild event... At least the Mermen in my attack weren't too hard to hit, but that massive squid was surprisingly slippery," Mu mumbled to himself.
He took off his backpack and grabbed a world-map from within it. "Waterford... Waterford... Waterford... Ah, there it is!"
Mu's face livened up before he looked like he was going to cry a split-second later. "Why is it so far inland? It's not in the centre or near the east coast, but it'll still quite the distance from here..."
Mu unhappily repacked his rucksack and began looking for a vehicle. Once he's found a beat-up beamer that was still working, he started it up and took to the road. "I swear, if this Daz guy is even slightly interesting, I'm going to betray that stupid god. Wasting my time like this... I bet there were so many heinous and selfish people that I could have killed for their points back in China instead of wasting my time with this..."
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