In the end, Dorian, Crusher, and Edward never came back that evening, so Daz simply ordered Crosius to inform him as soon as they did return.
The head advisor had a lot of work to do already with all of the requests and minor complaints he and his team of advisors were getting and organising, but he happily accepted Daz's command like it was no additional sweat off of his aged back.
Before they went to bed, Daz and Madison had, surprisingly, perhaps the most passionate sex since they had both lost their virginities to each other two years ago.
Something about the intimate discussion regarding Madison's esper power, then her unwavering enthusiasm when helping Daz choose which skills he'd upgrade and which ones weren't worth the points, on top of watching how earnestly she tried to paint despite her clear lack of skill in the subject, well, all of that lit a certain fire in Daz.
Madison couldn't help but get swept up by his emotions and accept all of his lust while giving him some of her own.
Of course, since there was nothing particularly pressing for him to do, Daz chose to sleep as he cuddled his precious girlfriend, and thus, day one of rest cycle two ended.
"Mmm..." Daz groggily opened his eyes and got up as he watched the rolling ankle-high fog cover his feet. "Back in this graveyard again, huh?"
He yawned slightly and looked around to see if he could find Cecil, but strangely enough, the bizarre old man with chronic back issues was nowhere to be seen.
"Huh." Daz held his chin in thought for a moment before he said, "Well, I'm here now. May as well practice my Grave of The Humans."
A few hours passed by as he used the skill over and over again. Suddenly, mid-skill use, Daz's instincts told him to immediately vacate the spot that he was standing in.
Quickly rolling to the side, Daz saw out of the corner of his eye a very ordinary-looking shovel passing through the location where his body was less than a second ago.
"Ah, damnit. I was sure I'd smack ya right on yer head," the familiar rough voice of Cecil complained.
Dusting off his shirt and boxers, Daz looked at the old man who was now holding his ordinary shovel over his shoulder casually. "Where were you the past few hours?" the reaper asked.
Cecil shrugged as he found a tombstone to sit on. "Busy. I'm yer tutor, sure, but I'm not ready to teach ya twenty-four-seven."
"Is that so?" Daz asked rhetorically as he leaned against a headstone and crossed his arms over his chest after returning Hamson to its brand mark. "Well? You saw me using the skill, right? Gonna give me permission to upgrade it anytime soon? I'm honestly getting sick of using it. I have other things to be dedicating my time to other than sleeping to do the same thing over and over again with no progress."
Cecil grinned, revealing his crooked and half-missing set of teeth. "Ah, but that's where yer wrong, Buddy. Ya have made progress. Ya've got my permission to upgrade the skill, but only once."
Daz wore a surprised expression before he nodded faintly. "Thanks." He had no idea how he'd improved, but at this point, he wasn't going to question it and risk having the senile old Gravedigger change his mind.
"Well, I'm still busy, so ya can leave now," Cecil said as he waved his hand dismissively, "Ah, right. The big man 'imself is in a bit of a pinch. Offer him some prayers when ya can, alright? It'll do ya some good."
Daz raised an eyebrow. "Prayers? I was never religious, but sure, I can do that."
With that said, he was ejected from the dreamscape.
Daz slowly opened his eyes and frowned slightly as he put his arms behind his head, immediately, Madison, taking advantage of the fact that he was now laying flat on his back, snuggled up to him while she slept.
|Due to being an official employee of [Fort Skip]'s keep, the host has been awarded [10,000] merit points.|
|The total merit balance of the host is now: 10,000 [+10,000].|
While Ignoring those two notifications entirely, Daz kept his thoughts regarding what Cecil had said inside of his head instead of vocalising them he normally would have. He did this to avoid accidentally waking Madison since she was such an adorable sleeper. 'The God of Shovels is in trouble? Why? Is it to do with Hamson's new skill?'
His instincts didn't react to his question, so to answer it, he instead chose to raise his right hand and silently summon the weapon from its brand.
Now holding Hamson, he looked at the skill he thought may be associated with what Cecil was talking about.
|Direct Line To God|
|Allows the host to connect themselves with their patron god and channel their power into their own body. Doing this consumes a single merit star per second from the host and ten divine crystals from their patron god. (Currently sealed due to the host's patron god being incapable of channelling their power to the host).|
''Incapable of channelling their power', huh? Did giving me a replica of his spade somehow cripple Pala?' Again, his instincts were silent. 'So knowing won't help me or hinder me, or my instincts aren't strong enough to let me know what's going on with the gods?'
Daz returned Hamson to the brand on his right hand and he then closed his eyes before he decided to stroke Madison's soft blonde hair.
"Hmm," he muttered almost inaudibly. 'So, praying?'
Deciding that he had nothing to lose, Daz, for the first time in his life, made a prayer to his patron god. 'Pala, God of Shovels, thanks for choosing me to be your champion. I have no idea what you gods have to do with the system nor why you're all interfering with the tests, but so far, you specifically haven't tried to fuck me over, so thanks.'
|The host has successfully made a [Prayer] to the god [Pala], the [God of Shovels]. Now evaluating the [Prayer].|
Daz's eyes opened wide in surprise. "Wait, what?"
Madison stirred at his sudden words of shock, but she remained sleeping and only shuffled about a bit in response.
Daz kissed her softly on the forehead then got out of bed and sat on a nearby chair. A few moments later, his vision was filled by a short string of system messages, ones which he had never seen before.
"Well, this was certainly unexpected," he whispered as he looked over the details contained within the new notifications.
|Prayer successfully Evaluated.|
|Daz's Prayer to Pala, the God of Shovels.|
|0.2% of Pala's power has been restored.|
|Temporary buff [Pala's Thankful Champion] has been given to the host.|
|Cooldown until the host can perform another official [Prayer]: 23:59:20.|
"Has this always been a thing?" Daz asked himself as he called upon the system to show him his buff list.
|King's Rest:||Passively increases all stats by 5% (does not show on status screen). Remaining time: 23:56:12.|
|Pala's Thankful Champion:||Passively increases the host's shovel handling capabilities by 15%. Remaining time: 23:58:34.|
"Huh... That's pretty vague," Daz commented as he looked over his new buff. "I wonder how many of the other champions know that praying to their god gives them a buff? I should ask Rose and Han at some point. There's no way that Mu and Crusher knew nor tested this before considering their personalities. Maybe Ellie? Doubtful considering her views on the system."
As he was talking to himself, Mr Barrier happily floated through the air and landed on his lap. Not minding the fuzzy and mysterious creature, Daz casually petting the thing as he sat in thought.
Perhaps twenty minutes went by like that until the reaper got up out of his chair while holding Mr barrier. He held Madison's new companion up to his eye-level as said to it, "I think I'm gonna go craft some stuff and maybe search for some nearby dungeons, so look after Maddy while I'm away okay? I know you have full control over your barriers, but if Maddy needs one, don't be stingy, okay?"
The creature purred. Not knowing if that was a 'yes' or a 'no', Daz smirked and then put the thing down on his and Madison's bed. It was quickly ensnared in the trap that was Madison's embrace before Daz got fully dressed and left the room.
Daz had cleared seven dungeons with the help of Fort Sky acting as his personal transportation device. GriD CrosS was more than happy to go where Daz told it to after some simple praise.
Now back in Fort Skip and sitting in his personal workshop, Daz took stock of his gains.
|The total merit balance of the host is now: 237,000 [+227,000].|
'Less points than I'd have liked from seven dungeons, but I never got any quests to clear them, so it's definitely not a bad number,' Daz noted internally as he checked his status.
|Class:||Crystal Digger||Affinity:||Lawful Neutral|
|Strength:||[Limit reached] 1,500(2,250) [+400]||Dexterity:||1,459(2,249) | Item Boost: +50. [+459]|
|Constitution:||1,559(2,338) [+459]||Agility:||1,259 [+459]|
|Charisma:||1,139 | Item Boost: +15 [+459]||Ingenuity:||[Limit Reached] 900 [+60]|
|Defense:||[Limit Reached] 2,000 | Item boost: +3,000. [+400]||Immunity:||775 [+459]|
|Soul Power:||6,459 [+459]||Luck:||[Limit Reached] 1,250 | Item Boost: +325. [+250]|
|Combo:||659 [+459]||Wisdom:||1,159 | Item Boost: +250 [+459]|
|Regeneration:||460 | Item boost: +100 [+459]||Patience:||659 [+459]|
"Hmm." Daz rubbed his neck as he thought out loud. "It's a shame I got no new items, but the big boost in stats sure is nice. Three are maxed, which is good."
The reaper then frowned. "System, put one point into Dexterity, Constitution, Agility, Charisma, Soul Power, Wisdom, and Patience."
He hated seeing them not be round numbers. Daz had very few pet peeves, but this, most certainly, was one of them, and it was one that he was willing to pay to fix.
|Doing so shall cost the host: [1,800] merit points. Confirm?|
"Yeah, confirm," Daz replied as he put his chin in his hand then rested his arm's elbow on his workbench.
|Confirmed. Stat points added.|
|The total merit balance of the host is now: 235,200 [-1,800].|
Daz tapped his cheek thoughtfully a few times before he said, "Ingenuity is kind of useless now that I have Wisdom as well as my instincts. Patience as well. I have my emotions mostly under control, so I'm not sure if I really need that stat anymore... Combo is very useful, but honestly, how often do I attack in a constant stream? There must be more efficient stats for me to have... System, is it possible to buy new stats to replace old ones in the same way that you can with skills?"
|Confirmed. It is possible, however, the host must have, at minimum, silver-level access to the shop. There is also a [50,000] merit point fee for this service, and racial or class-specific stats cannot be swapped out. Note: Any stats swapped in will start at 1 point regardless of how high the swapped out stat's point-value was.|
"I don't particularly care about the stats resetting to zero since these three aren't contributing enough for it to hurt me... Hmm, System, I'd like to swap out the three stats, Ingenuity, Combo, and Patience, please," Daz requested politely.
|Doing so shall cost the host: [150,000] merit points. Confirm?|
Sighing softly at the confirmation screen, Daz nodded. "Yes."
|Confirmed. The stats [Ingenuity], [Combo], and [Patience], have all been removed from the host.|
|The total merit balance of the host is now: 85,200 [-150,000].|
|Due to the host's class, the stats [Intelligence] and [Transparency] have been forcefully granted to the host.|
"Now, I need to actually get a stat that will be useful long-term like luck and Regeneration for my final open stat," Daz said as he summoned the system's stat shop and started browsing.
Four hours passed and the sun was now starting to creep into the room through the poorly-made windows. Daz certainly had more talent when it came to handicrafts than he did in blowing glass.
He had already decided to tear down this workshop and rebuilt it now that his Basic Craftsmanship had been upgraded to Craftmanship, but that could wait until a more opportune time.
Daz ran his fingers through his hair as he sighed. "Well, it's between Magic Sensitivity or Leadership."
He glanced up at his halo's lazy resident and asked, "Reika. Any thoughts? My instincts are silent, so either one will serve me just as well as the other. I'll go with whatever you choose."
'Hmm,' the astral demon princess wore a very serious expression before she said, 'You have the Ancient Peridot to make you seem more regal as well as your Charisma and The Gift of The Gab Skill, so we suggest Mana Sensitivity. You wanted to acquire more magic skills regardless, did you not? That will help you more in that area, we think.'
Daz nodded. "Very true. I'll go with that then. Thanks for your input."
Reika smirked arrogantly. 'You are welcome for our awe-inspiring contribution, Ignorant Fool! Even we are surprised at how intelligent we are!'
Daz smiled a bit wryly upon hearing the girl's exaggerated words, but he didn't refute her and allowed her to bask in her joy as he spent even more of his recently-acquired points. "System, please buy a single point of Mana Sensitivity for me."
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