Mu was happily floating down the hallway in the General Amusement Centre and Gambling Ring via his Cloud of Tartarus.
Of course, he had completely ignored the door for the champions since he had a feeling there wouldn't be many people in there, and consequentially, there would be less fun to be had.
People made way for him since his scythe was very dangerous-looking. Only the hardiest survivors tried to ignore his presence and act tough, though even amongst them, only one or two actually held zero fear upon seeing Mu's ominous weapon and chilling black cloud.
He was absentmindedly watching videos on his auction phone and a big smile was on his lips as he saw the footage of Crusher destroying the strength test all the while dressed as a small clown. He'd never met her in person yet, but he already thought that she was very interesting and slightly cool.
After seeing that, Mu noticed that there was another particularly popular on-going stream that caught his interest.
"Daz?" he mumbled as he watched an introductory montage of the Archreaper beating and giving advice to people before he offered them a place at Fort Skip. After that, it cut to a live feed of him fighting twenty-three katana-wielding Japanese men and woman who were all apparently from the same dojo.
Needless to say, without even moving his body, Daz was able to easily defeat them with his control of Hamson as he was pointing out their major flaws, most of which stemmed from their poor teamwork.
Mu stroked his sleek jawline and thought, 'Both Crusher and Daz seem to be trying to recruit people. Hmm. Okay, I suppose I shall join in. It looks sort of interesting, and maybe Daz will like me more? The more he likes me, the more willing he'll be to fight me, right?'
Whether his logic was accurate or not, Mu soon found himself in a place where he could adequately show off his talents for the sake of promoting Fort Skip.
"Welcome to The Test of Endurance, Sir. Are you here to participate, or perhaps to spectate?" an android that was strikingly similar to the one in the other rooms of this place asked Mu politely.
He flashed the robot a kind smile. "Participate. If you don't mind, could you explain the rules to me?"
"Of course, Sir. I'd be glad to." The android bowed slightly before it said, "There are twenty levels of difficulty in The Test of Endurance ranging from 'Just For Fun' all the way up to 'Nirvana'. Each trial is different per difficulty, but the main theme of each one, is, of course, endurance. Not only of the body but also of the mind."
Seeing that Mu was following its words with ease, the robot continued, "The rewards vary as well, however, please do be aware that once a trial is cleared, the first place reward will be swapped out for a fixed rate of merit points. Also, you are only allowed to do each test once."
Mu nodded. "If you don't mind me asking, which trials haven't been completed yet?"
The robot gestured to a large leaderboard that had several survivors gathered around it. "You can see the list over there, but since The Grand System Auction has only just begun and this room hasn't gained too much attention yet, only the first four of the twenty trials have been cleared, Sir."
Mu was happy so few had been completed. "Thank you."
"I live to serve, Sir," the android replied before it bowed and wandered off to answer the questions of another survivor.
Mu held his elbow in one hand and his chin in the other. "Yup. That's probably the only way."
He bought some cardboard from the system as well as a marker pen. Laying them down on the floor, he hopped off of the Cloud of Tartarus and began writing. He got a lot of weird looks and several snide remarks from the people that had noticed his strange actions despite his powerful aura, but he was deaf and blind to such things when he was focused.
Mu put the marker pen in his pocket and then bought a harness with a flagpole attached to it. Now with his tools prepared, he slotted the cardboard onto the flagpole and equipped the harness.
The cardboard read, 'I AM SHEN MU FROM FORT SKIP. WE ARE THE STRONGEST.', in full caps and in plain English in case the All Language Comprehension skill didn't apply to written words.
Ignoring the uproarious laughter that was being directed at him, Mu happily walked into the fifth trial after bottling the Cloud of Tartarus up. Much like with Crusher's situation, there were a few people that didn't make fun of Mu and just quietly watched him from afar.
Thirty minutes of real time had passed since the start of the auction now. Ellie and Sandy were enjoying a nice meal with the good company of Carl - Sandy's apprentice - and Bobby, both of whom they'd run into once they'd arrived in this restaurant room by chance.
"Wow. That's cool," the dark-skinned young man, Carl, admired after hearing Ellie explain that she was allowed to bring a plus one directly with her since she was the champion of a god.
"Load of good it's done," Bobby remarked as he flipped his auction phone around and showed it to everyone. On the screen, Mu was in the middle of clearing the ninth trail of The Test of Endurance. Flicking the screen, it now showed a small clown and Dorian showing off the clown's strength in an arm-wrestling contest against a dinosaur as the clown screamed 'You can't beat me, Godzilla! I'm Crusher from Fort Skip! I'm undefeatable! Hahahaha!'.
Finally, the last thing he showed them was a stream of the massively popular fighting ring where Daz had been teaching people and taking their merit points as payment for almost six hours straight now by that room's specific time scale.
"You two came in together, but ye've not really done anything, have ya?" Bobby teased more so to Sandy than to Ellie. "Even the foreigner is promotin' home, so shouldn't we do the same?"
Sandy took out his trusty pipe and lit it up before taking a big long puff. "Got a plan, Smart Ass?"
Bobby just smirked. "We copy them."
Sandy took another drag of his pipe before he nodded. "I was gonna do somethin' like that anyway."
Ellie was just silently eating her meal, but Carl, he was confused.
He looked back and forth between Sandy and Bobby a few times until he finally asked, "Isn't that impossible?"
"Hah?" Sandy leered at him. "How?"
"Well..." Carl scratched his cheek. "None of us are that strong. Only Ellie is a fighter amongst us, so there's no way we can copy them..."
Sandy just sighed heavily before he reached over the table and smacked Carl upside the head. "Do we look stupid to ya, Son?"
"Sorry?" Carl asked as he rubbed his now sore head.
"I'm a pretty good crafter and a damned good foreman. You're an up an' coming crafter yerself. Ellie has her telekinesis. Bobby's a stupid old fisherman-turned-chef, but he's good with his hands." Bobby frowned at the sneaky age insult, but otherwise, he nodded. "We'll enter a building contest room. Let's build a replica of Fort Skip, eh?"
Madison left the candy store room with a bag of treats, most of which were for Rose. Once she was back into the wide open hallway, she took her backpack off which had a cute cartoon drawing of Daz sown into it, and she then carefully put her newly-bought treats into it.
This backpack was one that she had made herself. Though it took her several attempts and the help of some of the older ladies back at Fort Skip who had too much time on their hands, however, with their assistance, she was able to successfully craft the bag.
The stitched drawing of Daz was actually upgraded by the system and reflected his current condition, so it was showing him calmly standing as he smiled and waved his hand around, presumably to control Hamson.
She watched the stitching for a minute or two before she peeled her eyes off of it and pulled her doll of Daz out of the rucksack. She held it to her chest with both arms after putting her bag back on and she happily trotted through the hallway looking for another fun room, preferably one with beds in it. She was a bit sleepy.
Naturally, even though she had been given a phone from the system, Madison ignored it. She - much like Daz - wasn't the biggest fan of technology. As a result, she had no idea what was going on with the more high-profile residents of Fort Skip.
As she continued to aimlessly wander around, a group of three men and a busty woman approached her.
The tallest and most handsome of the men, a man with short slicked back blonde hair and a face that models would kill for, smiled charmingly as he spoke to Madison. "Are you lost? Would you like to group up with us and go challenge a dungeon room?"
Madison titled her head and focused her attention on the group. "No?" She wasn't very interested in doing anything if it wasn't for Daz or Rose's sake.
The man's expression cracked a bit. He had a very high Charm stat and a few skills designed for enticing the opposite sex, so seeing that none of that had seemingly worked on the girl, he clicked his tongue as silently as possible.
"It'll be a good experience. Have you ever been in a dungeon before? They're pretty common during resting cycles from what I've read," the second man, a short guy who was just as handsome as the first man said as he gestured to his smartphone.
Madison pointed to her Daz doll. "Reward. Dungeon, fun. But, no, time, waste. Sleep, instead."
The woman - a stunning beauty with a chest to die for - scowled. "Why does she talk like a retard? Let's go find someone else. Clearly, she's not one of them."
'One of who?' Madison thought with clarity, but the woman's words had actually really hurt Madison. It had been a while since the last time someone had made fun of her speaking habits. Everyone at Fort Skip just thought it was cute and didn't bother asking about it nor poked fun at her since she was Daz's lover. And everyone knew that making an enemy of Daz was akin to suicide.
She cuddled her Daz doll tighter and started walking away, but the third man - a suave-looking gentleman in his forties or fifties - stood to block her way. He had a keen look in his eyes as he gazed at Madison. "Please forgive Lady Anita's attitude. She's not used to mingling with those not of a bloodline."
Madison froze at that. "Bloodline?"
The one with the smartphone grinned. "Hey, Kieran, she knows about bloodlines," he said to the taller man.
"Ah, that was way easier to find out than I thought. She's pretty innocent, huh?" Kieran noted. "An uncommon trait for a bloodline member. Good job, Treyton. I was about to walk away since she was pissing me off."
The older man in a suit, Treyton, bent his body into a bow and smirked in response.
Anita gave Madison a dirty look. "She actually has one? I doubt that. Wasn't your ability just fucking up? Look at her stupid face. What family would she belong to? Who'd raise an esper to cuddle dolls like a fucking kid? I bet she's just confused."
Madison wanted to cry. She didn't like this. She wanted to escape. She didn't know what to do. Who were these people? Did it matter? How did they know she had a bloodline? Was she in danger? Did she have to silence them? Could she even kill them in here?
Thankfully, the system was an ally of Daz's, and thus, an ally of Madison's.
|Quest Title: Relying On Daz's Name|
|Speak the words, 'Hamilio. Find, you. Warning.'.|
|Teleportation to the room: Bed Paradise.|
Without hesitation, Maddy spoke the words that had been listed in a way to account for her speaking difficulties. "Hamilio. Find, you. Warning."
The four people instantly wore shocked and somewhat angry looks on their faces, but Madison didn't care. She was instantly whisked away to the room that she had been looking for.
She slumped down onto a very comfy looking bed and calmed her breathing after curling into a ball. She wasn't sure if she was in serious danger, but she was sure that she would tell Daz and Rose about what had happened just now when she next saw them.
They were smarter than she was, so maybe they'd be able to figure out what those people wanted? It was a farfetched hope, but Madison was very trusting of her family. Her real family, not the one that had left her for dead and treated her like nothing more than a tool.
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