Shovels In Spades



B3: Chapter 39: Champion of Cooking and Excruciating Pain


As the third set of five items was being carted onto the stage, Phelodrapod began describing them immediately. "As you can probably surmise from the trolley size, the final lot for the champion auction is yet another set of tokens."

As he had said, the android responsible for bringing the items onto the stage removed the trolley's silk covering, only to reveal five triangular metal tokens.

"Some might think that those items are laughable when compared to the Limitless Fruits of Evolution, but trust me, on the grander scale of things, these amazing little tokens are far, far, far rarer, while being just as useful. Some would even argue that they're more useful than a single chance at evolving since a host can use as many of these as they can find, unlike the fruits which are only useful once," Pheldorapod claimed.

With all of that out of the way, the squishy alien cleared his non-existent throat and said, "I can feel all of your collective curiosity. For those of you who still aren't aware, these lovely little items are called Skill Cap Upgrade Tokens!"

He let the name sink in for a moment before he continued his explanation. "Every being, regardless of initial strength or test types, once introduced to the system, has a limit of fifty skills."

Pacing back and forth across the stage, Pheldorapod held a few of his tentacles behind his body as he paused briefly. "For reference, a total of two-million-five-hundred-and-forty-two-thousand-nine-hundred-and-sixty Earthians have filled up every single one of their skills slots. Now, of course, you can always exchange your skills for better ones, that isn't the issue here. The issue is, what if you have fifty skills that you deem to be irreplaceable, and yet, you stumble across or create a new one that you simply must own?"

Realisation spread throughout the suites as the champions slowly being to understand just how valuable these tokens actually were.

"Admittedly, this is a small concern. Out of the champions present, only fifteen of you have reached the skill cap. Perhaps you think that you'll never find fifty skills that are useful to you, so this has nothing to do with you? Oh, how wrong you'd be," Pheldorapod said with a sad shake of his head.

"I, myself, have a limit of three-hundred-and-four skills, and naturally, I've filled each slot with a skill. Would you all like to know something interesting? Ladies, gentlemen, the genderless, and everything else in between, only three of those skills are active skills!" the octopus announced as he waved his tentacles around grandly.

'I trust that you won't get in my way from revealing this, system?' Feeling no response, Pheldorapd nodded lightly. "Passive skills are the king of this system-ruled life of ours for those who wish to truly become strong! I implore each and every single one of you to keep this in mind as you decide whether or not you wish to bid on the final items of Earth's first Grand System Auction!"

"All five of them are mine. If I somehow run out of points and golden tickets before they're all gone, feel free to bid at that point, Crusher, Mu, Han," Daz said as he got up and approached the suite's glass screen.

Mu didn't care. Pheldorapod hadn't won him over. Han was of the same mind. She trusted the power of the dozen skills under her command, so she saw no value in arguing with the reaper over this matter.

Crusher, however, was quite interested in the tokens, so she frowned. "You owe me if you don't want me hiking up the price. I want at least one of those tokens."

Daz shook his head. "I promise I'll pay you back. Think of something for me to do for you in exchange?"

Crusher smiled. "Fine. I'll do just that. Next time we're in a similar situation to now though, Uriel, you're the one who's backin' down and I'll be the one givin' you a promise, 'kay?"

"Sure." Daz didn't hate how honest and straightforward Crusher was, that was for sure. It made dealing with her quite simple most of the time.

"Connect me to the bidding room, please, system," he requested politely and then began bidding on the first token.

Daz had a very particular strategy to ensure that he obtained all of the Skill Cap Upgrade Tokens.

It was honestly quite simple when you took a moment to think about it.

To count what he owned, Daz had a little over one-hundred-and-twenty-two-million merit points as well as two golden tickets. With this, his instincts were telling him that he was guaranteed at least two tickets even if he went about it the wrong way.

Now, how would he get five? Simple. His instincts helped him know that both the third token and the last token would have tickets used on them, meaning that Daz only needed to actually buy one token with merit points. However, he needed to be the highest bidder on the final two tokens.

'It hurts like fuck to ask my instincts which would be better to do... buy token one, two or four... Fuck. Are my instincts behind this headache? Am I awakening to the next level or something? What a nuisance...' Daz held his head in his hand lightly as he grimaced in pain. "I guess I'll use a ticket on the first and fourth ones. That should give me the most money to be the last bidder of the third and fifth ones as well as win the second one fair and square. I guess the only uncertainty is the last ticket... I'd better have enough leftover points to be the highest bidder... I can't feel anything about if I'll win that challenge... Damned headache..."

Rose frowned as she heard her brother's mumblings. No one else could hear him since he was incredibly quiet, but one of the girl's class skills let her learn of what he was thinking and whispering about.

She frowned. 'It might be better for you if you avoided that last token, Big Bro. You're not gonna be happy even if you win it...'

Daz did as he had said and used one of his two remaining golden tickets on the first Skill Cap Upgrade Token.

His opponent was a woman in her late fifties who was the champion of the God of Cooking. Her weapon was a kitchen knife, but she knew that she was heavily outclassed, so she gave Daz a nice greeting before she humbly surrendered.

Losing fifteen-million merit points hurt her a lot, but she was going to lose them either way, so if she could save some face by being polite to the powerful young man that she could either lose to or surrender to, then she was more than willing to humble herself a bit.

She could only blame herself for accepting the challenge so foolishly.

Just before Pheldorapod could teleport him off of the stage, Daz announced that he had a third golden ticket and that he would use it on the third token.

Why did he do this? Daz did this to encourage the strong people to bid as many merit points as they possessed for a chance to fight him.

Many of the more powerful champions weren't criminals and they had confidence that they could beat Rimmy since all they'd seen him do thus far was physically assault people and use his Crystal Cannon.

As for Daz's Laughing Skull, much like how Mu had his own skull, Esmerelda, many of the other champions had their own trump cards that they were confident they could use to counter that particular skill of Daz's.

And thus, after the champion of cooking's surrender, the reaper was returned to his room.


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

Your rewards: 15,000,000 merit points and a [Skill Cap Upgrade Token].


The total balance of the host is now: 137,085,395 [+15,000,000].


He ignored the notifications and practically collapsed into the sofa.

Vanessa wore a worried expression on her youthful face. "Um, are you okay?"

"I'm just tired," Daz replied immediately.

Rose scoffed. "A reaper, a species that doesn't need sleep, is tired? What a load of crap."

Daz glared at her, making her flinch. "W-What? Crap isn't a curse-word! I censored myself, s-so don't kiss me, okay?"

He smiled wryly. 'She definitely knows that my instincts are growing... Damn, this isn't even a headache anymore. It's more like a full-blown migraine... but worse, somehow.'

Daz tried to relax for a few minutes by closing his eyes and breathing deeply. Once he felt ready, he stood back up and joined in on the bidding for the second token.

Congratulations! You have successfully won the auction of the item [Skill Cap Upgrade Token] with a final bid of [19,500,000] merit points.


The total balance of the host is now: 117,585,395 [-19,500,000].


'Damn it! I would have made more money if I'd used the ticket I used on the first token here instead! Damned instincts!' Daz yelled at his esper power internally.

He then used all of his ten fingers to scratch his head as he was struggling to think. At this point, even Mu, Han and Crusher, were concerned about him.

"Hey, Uriel, are you okay?" Crusher asked with a certain tone of genuine concern lacing her words.

"No..." Daz wasn't sure how to describe what he was going through. For a start, it was far more excruciatingly painful than all of the beatings he had received in his life thus far. "It's like... It's like you're punching my brain over and over again, Crusher."

"Ouch. Sounds both interesting and very disturbing," the Titan replied as she tried to not reflexively laugh like she normally would have.

Han reached into the front pocket on her shorts and stretched her hand out towards Daz. "Pills for the pain. I get headaches a lot, but you can have a few if you want them."

Rose shook her head. "I'll thank you on his behalf. Just talking hurts for him right now. Even if he was still a human, no amount of drugs could stop him from feeling what he's feeling right now."

Mu frowned. "Why?"

"It's an esper thing. You wouldn't understand," Rose claimed as she returned her attention to her laptop's screens.

"This is normal for espers?" Vanessa asked in shock. "I'd hate to be an esper then... Daz looks like he's in so much pain..."

"I fucking am, but I'm a big boy. I'll manage," the reaper responded jokingly through gritted teeth.

Reika floated in front of his face anxiously. 'Our new skill isn't working! Why can't we ease your suffering? We don't understand! We only got the skill for when you awakened...'

Daz smiled mentally at the cute demon princess' words of care. 'So she bought the skill as soon as Rose told me about my powers? Literally right as she claimed to have it? I never even knew that she earned merit points... I should identify her soon... She gave me her permission, so it wouldn't hurt to know what she's capable of... Not right now though.'

Everyone kept their attention on Daz who was trying his best to stop involuntarily scratching his head or hitting it.

Luckily, he was just barely able to get accustomed to the pain enough to move a bit and talk smoothly by the time the auction of the third token was wrapping up. "System, use my last golden ticket, please," he muttered very faintly.

The next second, his body disappeared and reappeared on the stage below.

Vanessa held her hands to her chest as she looked at Rose. "Will... Will he be okay?"

Rose raised an eyebrow. "Why're you so worried? You barely know the guy."

The young German girl hadn't expected that kind of answer. 'Um, I can't really say that I envy how fatherly he is with her, can I? I'm five years older than her, so I should be acting more maturely than that...'

"Hmm... Pink cheeks, a flustered expression, that gaze of yours when you look at him... Madison should be careful around you, I suppose," Rose teased as she looked down on the flustered girl.

Vanessa was confused for a moment before realisation flashed through her eyes. "No! You've got it all wrong! I, um, don't feel that way towards him..."

"Right, sure, I believe you. Anyway, yeah, he'll be fine. With the state that's he's in right now, I don't doubt that he'll get Rimmy and his clones to go all out. As much as he would deny it, he's been holding back a lot thus far," Rose claimed with a shrug.

"I... see. That's... good," Vanessa responded as she tried to calm down her racing heart.

'Idiot. It's clear as day that you want my parents for yourself. Christ, could you be any more innocent? It's kinda hard to hate you for that...' Rose commented internally as she watched Vanessa out of the corner of her eye.

A note from Lone

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