Shovels In Spades



Book 3 Chapter 14: Skill Cap and Successful Cracking


A note from Lone

Second and final guaranteed chapter of the week.

Pheldorapod coughed lightly and spoke to Daz in his usual voice. "Due to the item's size, Dear Customer, you shall be granted a temporary skill to allow you to move it with comfort. I assume this is okay with you?"

Daz nodded.

"Lovely! In that case, I look forward to seeing you use your other tickets, Dear Customer," the Octopus said with a very happy tone.

Daz was then teleported back to his private booth and the next item was wheeled onto the stage.

Congratulations! You have won the challenge created by the golden ticket.

Your rewards: 3,000,000 merit points and a [MXII 2nd Generation Full-dive Virtual Reality Capsule].

Due to the [MXII 2nd Generation Full-dive Virtual Reality Capsule]'s size, you have been temporarily granted the skill [Lesser Item box [D-rank (Middle-tier)]]. The skill is restricted and can only hold 1 item, not 5. Once the stored item is taken out, the skill shall be removed.


The total merit balance of the host is now: 9,471,641 [+3,000,000].


Immediately upon returning to his private suite, he was greeted by this message. Daz rubbed his chin and sat back down. Madison immediately snuggled up to him. Vanessa was looking at him like he was the coolest person ever. Mave was uninterested in his little show and was still engrossed in her book while Lyle had a ponderous expression and was mumbling to himself.

The young reaper checked his new ranking for merit points and was disappointed to see that - while he had moved up - he still wasn't in the top ten. Daz was now ranked twelve for points.

Rose clicked her tongue and said, "You shouldn't have done that. It was a waste."

"Care to tell me why? I thought it was very productive. I got you something that will help you get stronger even while you hoard your points. It can even be upgraded to give you more merit points, from my understanding." Daz naturally defended himself. He knew she wasn't very honest with her feelings, but couldn't she just say that she was happy he'd gotten her such a thoughtful gift? That's all he wanted.

"Fine. You want to know why? Say the phrase 'system, what is the skill number limit'," Rose arrogantly harrumphed.

Daz cocked his head and said, "System, what is the skill number limit?"


Confirmed. The host's current skill number limit is 50.


"What the...? There's actually a limit on how many skills you can have?" Not only Daz, but everyone else in the room was only just now discovering this.

It mattered very little to most of them, but Lyle was aware of the implications this had.

Rose chuckled. "Idiots. It's not that serious. You can swap out skills if you reach the cap. You don't get to keep the swapped out skills and have to buy them again if you want them back, but it's not like the first fifty skills you get are locked in."

"Okay. This is useful information, but Rose, why does this relate to me using a golden ticket on your VR capsule?" Daz asked.

Rose gave him the stink eye. "Are you actually retarded? Put two and two together. I know you're smart. Don't make me spoon feed you."

Daz frowned and reached over to roughly rustle her hair. "I swear, use that kind of language again and I actually will kiss you."

Madison's eyes shined. "Maddy, too."

Rose shrank into her wheelchair at the threat of affection from her parental figures. "Sorry..."

Vanessa smiled sweetly upon seeing this interaction. 'What a loving family... I'm kinda jealous of her...'

"Anyway, let me put two and two together then. Correct me if I'm wrong, oh genius little sister of mine." Rose weakly nodded in response to Daz's teasing. "I'm guessing one of the later auctions has an item or skill or something that can raise this cap, right?"

Again, the girl with platinum-blonde hair nodded her small head. "Okay. Going from there, I think it's safe to assume that chances to increase the skill cap are incredibly rare, maybe even after the tests are over."

Rose shook her head. "Not rare, but exorbitantly expensive."

"How expensive, exactly?" Daz inquired.

"Like, 'can you afford a galaxy or two' kind of expensive," Rose replied.

"Right. I get it now. You're saying there will be more than two of these items - or whatever they are - to increase the cap during this auction, and basically, I should have saved all three tickets to get three of them?" Daz asked.

For the third and final time, Rose nodded again. "You don't have the merit points to buy them all, and they're bound to the buyers so you can't steal them later or have someone buy them for you. There's going to be five, by the way."

Daz laughed, confusing his little sister. "What's so funny?"

Smiling as he chuckled, Daz said to her, "I just need to focus on making points between this auction and the one that will have the cap increases then. By the way, will it be the ruler or the champion auction?"

Rose scowled. "The champion one. You sure are confident about making points, aren't you?"

Daz grinned at her. "I have a few ideas. I wasn't even trying to make points in the fighting room but I still came out with three mil. I also just got another three mil right now."

"Whatever. Just, don't use your tickets on other useless shi- useless stuff, okay?" Rose was thankful that she caught herself mid-curse. She was certain that Daz and Madison would follow through with their threats, and she'd rather not give her first kiss to her brother and father-figure or her mother-figure.

"Sure, but only if you tell me how you really feel about the VR capsule, okay?" Daz requested in a loving tone. As her brother, he wished she would be more honest with herself, so he genuinely wanted to know if she liked it or not. He'd probably hit himself if she didn't appreciate it since he'd used a golden ticket on it and was forced to meet with his ex-fiancĂ©e just to get the damned thing.

Rose's face turned the colour of her name and she lowered her eyes. "... ove it..."

Daz smirked. "What was that? I couldn't hear you."

Rose exhaled deeply before she tilted her head up and looked right at his face. Her lips trembled as she muttered, "I love it. There, happy now?"

Daz stood up and walked around Madison's legs. He stopped just in front of Rose's chair. Leaning down, he moved her fringe out of the way and kissed her forehead. "Yes. I'm very happy." 

Rose slapped his hands away. "You were so much easier to deal with before your awakenings..."

Again, Vanessa smiled warmly. She couldn't help but wonder if this was what it was like to have loving parents... Her grandparents took great care of her, but it wasn't the same. 'I'm really looking forward to going to Fort Skip now...'

Four more hours passed by. The auction was now nearing its conclusion, but it had been quite eventful in those short four hours.

As it so happened, bronze and silver tickets existed too.

When it came to the silver tickets, their rules were mostly the same as the golden ones. The only difference was that should the ticket holder win the challenge, then the loser wouldn't be forced to pay the price of the highest bid to the winner. Only the item was won.

The bronze ticket, however, was vastly different. For a start, even if the ticket holder won the challenge, they were forced to pay their previous highest bid before they had used the ticket. As an example; if they had bid fifty-thousand points on an item, but someone then bid one-hundred-thousand, if they used their bronze ticket and then won the challenge - if it was accepted -, they would still have to pay fifty-thousand merit points.

An additional rule for the bronze ticket was that the person being challenged could refuse it and choose to double their bid to win the item and invalidate the challenge entirely. Using the above example again, the bid of one-hundred-thousand points could be turned into a two-hundred-thousand point bid should the challenged party not wish to fight and still desired the item.

A lot of interesting items and even some skills had come up in the last two-hundred-and-fifty items. Daz had been tempted to splurge a little on one or two of the items, but remembering Rose's words, he chose to abstain.

Lyle had successfully won a bid on a lethal poison gland from some fantastical monster that automatically refilled itself. It cost him three-hundred-thousand points, but considering the fact that the gland's poison could kill a blue whale in under five seconds, it was a worthwhile purchase in his eyes. It was just the upgrade his syringes needed. Mave also showed a slight interest in the gland and was intent on using it for medicinal research.

Crusher's name had also popped up when she bought a feather accessory for her hammer's handle that was supposed to triple its weight and double its damage. It was quite a popular item for the damage amplifier, so it ended up costing her two-point-six-million merit points.

Interestingly enough, during both Lyle and Crusher's purchases, when Pheldorapod was listing their rankings in the top one-thousand, he made a point out of the fact that both of them were from Fort Skip.

This didn't matter much in Lyle's case, but Crusher had rankings that rivalled Daz's. While not as numerous as his, some of them were incredibly well ranked, like her merit ranking and kill ranking. If he wasn't wrong, Daz was willing to bet that the Titan was regularly sneaking out of Waterford to complete wild events. If she wasn't, then it made no sense that she was ranked higher than him on the killing ranking list.

He hardly cared about this though. The woman had more than proven herself to him. Her loyalty wasn't suspiciously high like Lyle's and she was incredibly honest, so Daz held no worries of betrayal from the eight-foot-tall Titan.

"Daz," Rose called.

"Hmm?" he looked at his sister who was tapping away at her keyboard.

"First, I finished cracking the translation skill. Second, if I were you, I'd bid on the last item. It'll be useful to you. That is, only if you're confident that you can make up the spent points in the two-hour period between now and the ruler auction. That auction has some stuff that Waterford is badly in need of," she said.

Daz raised an eyebrow. "Okay. I'll think about it when I see the item. About the skill, can you give it to everyone in Fort Skip when we're back?"

She shook her head. "Even though I cracked it, it seems that the system had expected me to. I've been given a limit of ten people. That's how many people I can give the skill to. Well, nine since I'm definitely cracking it for myself."

"Okay. Me, Mave, Lyle, Crusher, Mu-, no, not Mu. He'd probably be happier learning languages by himself considering his attitude towards English. Ellie, Dorian, Greg... And I guess Vanessa and whoever else you wanna give it to?" Daz said.

"Greg? Really? That general dude?" For once, Rose didn't understand the reasoning behind a decision.

Daz just shrugged. "I have plans for him. Ah, actually, the last person. Give it to Sandy. It could be useful for him further down the line."

Rose nodded. "Sure. That makes sense assuming he'll continue in the business of building stuff."

Vanessa wore an awkward smile. "Em, you guys, you, um, you don't need to give me a skill..."

Lyle gave her a knowing glance. "Please accept my lord's kindness. In truth, apart from the people he has already listed, no one else in Fort Skip is in a dire need of such a skill nor will they require it in the far future."

"I-I see... In that case, thanks, Daz, Rose," Vanessa said with a bit of a forced smile on her face. She didn't want to accept this, but she had an inkling that Daz wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. He seemed like the sort of man that once he'd decided on something, he had decided on it. At least that's how he came across to the young German teen.

Rose waved dismissively. "Don't be so stiff about it. It really isn't a big deal." Daz nodded in agreeance.

"Right..." Vanessa felt like her common sense was breaking down in this system-ruled apocalypse. Was it really not a big deal for someone to 'crack' a temporary skill and then give a permanent copy of it to another person?

Madison pouted as best as she could with her expressionless face and she poked Daz's side. "Unfair."

Daz winced slightly and replied, "No it's not. You hardly speak English as it is. What good would you get out of a translation skill? You don't even care about what other people have to say half of the time."

Madison frowned with her eyes and kissed Daz on the cheek. "Punishment. Need, compensation."

Daz grinned. He leaned in and whispered some words into her ears that turned her body limp in his arms and her face went scarlet. He ignored the embarrassed or strange looks he was getting from the room's occupants and just hugged Madison a little bit tighter.

"Rose, I already assumed you knew about it since you know everything," Daz said sarcastically, moving on from the translation subject. He continued with, "but just to let you know, I got another temporary skill to store that VR capsule. I get to keep the skill so long as I don't take out the capsule, but it's useless since it's being restricted."

"I know," came the ten-year-old's fast reply. "I'm already working on cracking it right now. You guys should have your new translation skill once the whole auction is over, by the way."

Daz smiled. "That's my genius little sister."

Rose moved her laptop's right screen and hunched over to hide her blushing face. She really hated being praised so honestly by him like that. It was - using Madison's words - unfair.

A note from Lone

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