Chapter 3: The First Quest
Adding damage to the fire animation within my simulation had made the mana cost spike massively. My current theory was that abilities with base damage wouldn’t require a hundred million mana to change, so I wanted to jump right into that category of abilities.
“How do I learn new abilities besides leveling up?” I asked Feya, who was still in shock.
“Are you interested in becoming a caster?”
“I’d like to give it a shot; try and make the best out of my editing ability.”
She nodded and after a few seconds, started explaining:
“The normal way of learning additional abilities is by reading ability books. They are found in dungeons and in bookstores, but let me tell you before you get the wrong idea… they are expensive.
"Abilities are split into two types: actives and passives,” she said, before pointing a finger at me. “For example, your Storage is an active ability. Tomes contain actives while manuals contain passives. Manuals often change one's physiology, so be careful before reading a manual entitled ‘Goblinskin’ because as far as I know, abilities cannot be unlearned and I am afraid I will be the only one to ever like you if that happens...”
“Normally, you would rely on your class abilities primarily, but in your case, it may be a good idea. Sir Arthur entrusted me with a basic tome to give to you in case you took that road. Here you are...”
Feya took out a dark blue book from her Storage and handed it to me. The book looked old-fashioned but new.
Tome of Ice Shard
Launch a projectile of ice to pierce your enemies. Deals 9 plus 4 damage/ability level.
Mana Cost: 26
I opened the book and discovered it only had one page containing a small paragraph. After reading the few words and learning Ice Shard Lv.1, the book disappeared from my grip. I instinctively knew how to use it, in a motor-memory kind of way.
Trying it out, I launched a tiny icy projectile right out of my palm. The size was probably because it was still level 1. I found that the mana cost was high, but Feya told me that its cost wouldn’t change when it leveled up since it was such a simple spell so it would get better in time.
Now that I knew how the ability looked like, I booted up a simulation to edit it. The shard formed in front of my outstretched hand and shot straight out at a decent speed. As I watched myself shooting it, I realized I didn’t want to shoot it from my palm. Having it form around me was much more effective if I could manage to aim it properly. I also made it home in on a specific point instead of launching in a general direction. Ability seemed to automatically evaluate the damage of the ability, but I could also manually tweak it, at the price of a much larger mana cost to cast it. I held back on the damage because I didn’t have the mana capacity required. In the end, it looked like this:
Tracking Ice Shard Lv.1
Remotely launch a projectile of ice that will follow a target. Deals 12 plus 7 damage/ability level. Cast range of 1 meter plus 0.2 meters/ability level.
Mana Cost: 63
Created shards would stay suspended in the air around me. They had to stay within the cast range of me unless they were shot. Even if I could only cast my new ability twice before running out of mana, I was more than happy with my latest achievements.
“This must be the boss room,” said Feya.
We looked upon a large set of wooden double doors. They were worn, battered and full of gashes and claw marks. The banging of drums could be heard from beyond them, making the mood turn slightly barbaric.
“It sounds… intense in there,” I helpfully observed.
Feya silently agreed.
“If you have no other plan, I will go in first and tank their initial attack,” she said, before moving towards the door.
Like always, I enjoyed leaving all the hard work to my beautiful female assistant.
The doors creaked open to reveal some kind of feast. Rat meat was roasting on spits above a few large fires. A good twenty High Goblins were resting on the floor, chewing heartily, while a larger and much ugler goblin was sitting on a wooden chair at the back of the room. Two drummers were sitting near the big boss, banging on deerskin using legbones. Who knew how they hadn’t suffocated yet with all the smoke from the fires being trapped in the room.
Before any of the goblins (or myself, for that matter) could move, Feya was halfway across the room, taunting the monsters to attack her. Most of the goblins were looking at her delectably like some kind of food. The thought made me shudder.
I prepared two ice shards and shot them at a goblin near the back of the room. I did my best to avoid getting any aggro by targeting easy kills. I managed to snipe another two High Goblins before the other eighteen or so detected me.
Ice Shard has grown to Lv.2!
Now was not the time to congratulate myself on improving my ability, so I unsheathed my blade and ran it straight through the closest goblin’s throat. I pulled it back out with a squelch and spun into a sideways slash, nearly cleaving another goblin in two.
Kicking another dead goblin off my sword, I entered deeper into the fray, slashing soft spots and cutting off limbs whenever I could. Whenever my health went down, Feya topped it off again in a heartbeat. Eventually, the only goblins remaining were the drummers and the boss.
While I thought the drummers would step up to fight, the boss decided it was his turn. It slowly got up and with a belch, slammed its rotten club on the ground defiantly. The cave shook, and the drummers began a rapid rumble. The boss’ eyes turned crimson red.
“Cade, the drummers are buffing the leader!”
Instead of meeting with the large goblin, I simply created two more shards with my regenerated mana and sent them towards its eyes. It never had the chance to block.
“... but he doesn't,” I finished, feeling much lamer than I thought I would feel.
The leader fell to its knees in pain. It was blinded and in agony so it couldn't see my blade coming towards its neck.
A fountain of blood poured onto its chest. It was gruesome for about two seconds, after which the boss disintegrated and a small box appeared on the floor where it was kneeling.
The two drummers were easy to deal with after that.
“That was the worst joke,” Feya remarked.
“Please don’t tell anyone...” I off-handedly pleaded, as I was already engrossed in the looting.
All in all, the battle was very rewarding.
Minor Ring of Greed
The bearer of this item is immediately granted two coins for every monster they kill.
I wonder how I feel about touching whatever that ugly goblin dropped. Then again, I had earned it from the lootbox so I put it on.
I also received 348 coins and enough experience to level up three times.
Level 13 Human Male
EXP: 150 / 845
Titles: Chosen of Lorea
Stat Points: 8
Intelligence: 14 + 1
Ice Shard Lv.2
Noting my 8 unallocated stat points, I put half of them in strength to increase my health so I wouldn’t die, and the other half in intelligence to increase my mana capacity so I’d be able to cast more magic. Regardless of how cool casting ice shards was, my life was my top priority.
I won't say that one out loud.
“Look at this, Cade,” called Feya who was looking around the room in search of treasure. “This is a dungeon core.”
I joined her in witnessing a dark sphere of what looked like a strange metal.
“This is the thing that spawns monsters? Can I touch it?” I asked her with eager eyes.
“No one knows what they do other than manage their dungeon. We have tried just about everything, from trying to make them move to destroying them. Even making potions with core-soaked water had no effect. Nothing has ever happened.”
I nodded to myself. In the end, some mysteries were best left for others to solve.
Back in my room, I was busy relaxing on my bed. Feya was gone debriefing Arthur, so I was left with no company and nothing to do until a sudden burst of inspiration welled up inside me.
Putting down my half-eaten Mana Treat, I began playing around with my animations in my 4th simulation. I tried to “program” moves, blocks and attacks that seemed effective (or awesome). Watching talented people fight would help me incredibly, because any notion of fighting I knew had come from movies, books and video games.
Trying something new, I made the me in the simulation perform a flip like an acrobat.
I slowly began building my own set of martial arts. Although I knew it would start out as an amateurish style, I still pursued my idea until Feya came back from the meet a good thirty minutes later.
“I have something to show you,” I told her. “Could you follow me?”
We made our way outside to the training ground. My feet felt light from my new walking technique that I somehow managed to imagine. I was still constantly tweaking it because it was still rough, but it made me realize the sheer amount of multitasking I could accomplish subconsciously.
I started to move along to my other animations. My body moved on its own like a puppet. I could choose which move to perform right when I wanted it with a single thought. All I had to do was sense the trigger.
Once I started getting into the flips, I pulled out my sword.
My showcase ended when a servant ran up to us and I was forced to stop.
“The King has requested the presence of the Heroes!” the young man said, before dashing off in a hurry.
“What happened?” I asked, mostly to myself, but Feya shook her head.
“King Otheus must have some kind of mission for us.”
“I suppose we’ll find out soon enough...”
Everyone in the throne room was tense. Fidgety nobles sat on fancy chairs around us. A total of twenty Heroes and their servants were summoned by the King for this unexpected mission, so it couldn’t be taken lightly.
Otheus himself was sitting on his high-backed throne, wearing his glittering crown. A large sword was sheathed and propped against the armrest to his left.
“Good evening, Heroes,” he began. “I’ve called you here to issue a quest.”
I shared a glance with Feya. When the King had said quest with that casual attitude, we both knew it wasn't serious.
“It has come to my attention that a group of bandits has begun abducting people. After sending out our scouts, we’ve discovered their hideout hidden away in the northern forest. I want you Heroes to lay an assault on their camp. Our inside troops will help you when the fighting begins. If you are willing to help, meet our court wizard, Reinfeld, in the teleportation room in two hours. If you partake... I wish you luck.”
Otheus dismissed us in a kingly fashion and we hurried off to get ready. I was all for going, but the King hadn’t explained to us what we would be facing on this quest, so I had to get ready to handle anything thrown at me. We returned to our room, where I tweaked and fine-tuned my movements while Feya took care of her armor and my sword. She seemed quite happy that we’d be getting rid of bandits, out of all the possible monsters. I suppose bandits to her were considered “scum”, as she had described in her servant application.
“You look happy…” I joked.
She smiled innocently.
“I simply cannot wait to remove those dregs from society.”
“For their sake, I truly hope they are monsters that can't feel pain...”