End of Training
I had to test these spells out ASAP. I will go in order of creation. First up is cluster bomb. This should be the easiest to recover from. I create five floating orbs that just seem to pulse and are otherwise clear or maybe a pale blue shade. I mentally have them all float about 25 meters from me and then space themselves out around 10 meters apart. Here we go in 3..2..1.. KABOOM! I am knocked on my butt and see a little mushroom cloud. I wonder how much larger I can make this. Wait calm down Mark. Let’s inspect what you have already done.
I rush over to ground zero and feel the heat radiating from the now glassy sand. Alright it was a high enough temperature to melt some of the sand into glass. There are five little craters instead of one large crater. I bet if I put them a little closer together I could get one large crater and then disguise that there was more than one exploding source. The area covered is fairly large. I was 15 meter outside the blast zone and still got knocked over from the explosion. More orbs equal more power. Although it is not instant as it takes the accumulation of several orbs and then placing them around, I am very satisfied with my first test. Next to try out is stone shower.
I grab a handful of gravel and toss it high into the air while aiming for a spot about 200 meters in front of me. I better play this spell a little safer and aim out a little farther. The last one knocked me on my butt and I think this one is even more powerful. I concentrate on the spell and feel a very large amount leave me. Ten seconds nothing, 20 seconds I see shadows and hear a noise and look up. What is that? Are those the rocks I threw up for the spell? They seem to have gone up higher than I thought. Right at about 30 seconds I could see stones the size of cars and busses start crashing into the sand dunes 200 meters in front of me. The sheer amount of dirt and sand kicked up is amazing. A giant sand storm seems to rolling towards me.
I brace myself and wait out the debris from the falling rocks. Time to go and see what happened. So mush debris was kicked up from the firsts impact that I could not really see well. It is important to knot that it takes about 30 seconds for this spell to impact the ground and each stone may impact close in time, but there is a little variation about when they hit the ground. As I approach the impact zone my jaw falls open. This is amazing. Each stone sits in a crater about 5 meters deep for the car sized ones and almost 10 meters deep for the bus size ones. Several craters overlap as they hit at slightly different times. Anything caught in this stone shower is going to have a very bad day.
I think I have caused enough of a disturbance here. I need to move to a new area before I try out my final spell. I decide quickly and teleport to the Western Swamp. I found this area while searching for a dungeon a few months ago. This will be a better test of poison shocking fog. There are at least some animals living here, so I can check how deadly the poison and electricity actually is. First though I need to just relax and regain my mana. That stone shower depleted me quite a bit and the teleport after almost drained me completely.
I decided to just stop and make some lunch and let my magic fill up while I was cooking and eating. I actually only need about ten minutes of down time to fill up, but I might as well take a break and eat while I wait. After some quick reheated stew from my inventory I was feeling like a new mantis and decided that I was ready to test out my shocking poison fog. I decide that I will go for a fog bank 100 meters high covering 5000 square meters and cast the spell in front of me into the swamp.
It was kind of creepy yet beautiful to watch. Almost like a horror movie. The fog slowly developed over about 60 seconds to two minutes and when it reached critical mass electricity started to jump around in the fog lighting it up in a very beautiful but deadly manner. I could actually hear a few of the closer birds and larger insects perish and crash into the soggy ground. I was originally surrounded by a ton of sounds. Birds chirping, insects buzzing, frogs calling, among others but now the whole area is as silent as a grave except for the occasional crackle of electricity. This test worked well, but the combination of poison and electricity is more deadly than I thought. I also forgot to take into consideration that this lasted an hour. I need to come back later, because it will only look suspicious if I am waiting around here.
I teleport back to my tree of life hide out and start planning. I could probably level up right now and possibly beat the weapon portion of my training with Miss Helen, but I do not feel like I am strong enough to go out search for what I need to actually make it to the demi-god level. I am not even sure what the demi-god level is yet. I just feel that I need to be stronger. My biggest fear is that there are people who might target me when I am no longer a student. I would be strong but definitely not elite. I mean I am pretty sure I can complete the five-star dungeon challenge the headmaster gave me right now. Even if I beat it though, there are still five more levels of dungeon.
I realize that the dungeons are rated on parties of ten people completing them. So that means that I could probably be in an eight or nine-star dungeon clearing group if I teamed up with people. The issue with that is that I do not want to rely on others. So I need to be strong enough that I can clear at least six or seven-star dungeons solo. That should put me in the top 1% of known dungeoneers and give me some reasonable comfort that I can protect myself from others that might want to exploit or hurt me.
I am pretty sure that with my current stats I can solo a five-star dungeon with some difficulty. So if I train with Miss Helen and solo five-stars for six months I should collect enough experience to reach a level I could solo six-star or seven-star dungeons. After the level up I will pass Miss Helen’s weapons test and then try a few six and seven-star dungeons before “officially” passing the headmaster’s test and soloing a five star and turning it in to graduate.
After waiting for 3 hours just to be on the safe side I teleported back to the Western Swamp. The fog is gone and it is still very quiet. I start walking into the outskirts of where my poisonous cloud had been for an hour. I could see several smaller minnows, amphibians, bugs and birds floating dead in the waters of the swamp. There were even a few larger animals. It looks like it is very efficient. Most things in the swamp probably could escape into the water, but if they came up for air or anything else within that hour than they died.
I teleported back to my base secure in the knowledge that I had not one but three large scale destructive spells. In fact, the poisonous mist might prove useful in dungeons. I could fill caverns and tunnels up with the poisonous fog and just wait for everything to die. It’s not cheating if it makes me stronger and I don’t get caught. Alright launch operation see me struggle. I can’t struggle too much, just enough to buy some more time for me to level up.
Six months have passed and I have decided that I am going to leave no matter what. I am pretty sure Miss Helen has caught on to my struggling ploy. For the past three weeks my workouts have gotten progressively harder. I think she is trying to get me to finish. I set the challenge for the weapons master for tomorrow and I will turn in my five-star dungeon proof at that time also. I have cleared 12 five-star dungeons in the last six months and numerous four-star ones. I was able to get most of the way through a six-star solo before having to evacuate.
I am as ready as I can be except for one thing. Status without Bonuses or Skills.
Name: Mark Stefanopolis Race: Magic Chimera Mimic Virus (Elemental Thri-Keen Form)
Level: 151 (Hero)
Primary Profession: Sorcerer +10% exp Secondary Profession: Not Assigned
Unassigned Stat Points: 131
Strength: 107 (115) Agility: 105 (115) Intelligence: 120 (140)
Wisdom: 110 (130) Constitution: 105 (130) Perception: 92 (100)
MP: 14000 out of 14000 HP: 1300 out of 1300
MP/Regen: 1300% per hour HP/Regen: 130% per hour
Wow my grinding got me further than I thought. I should put 20 points in everything and then throw the extra 10 into intelligence for extra mana. That should work great. Status without Bonuses or Skills.
Name: Mark Stefanopolis Race: Magic Chimera Mimic Virus (Elemental Thri-Keen Form)
Level: 151 (Hero)
Primary Profession: Sorcerer +10% exp Secondary Profession: Not Assigned
Unassigned Stat Points: 1
Strength: 127 (135) Agility: 125 (135) Intelligence: 150 (170)
Wisdom: 130 (150) Constitution: 125 (150) Perception: 112 (120)
MP: 17000 out of 17000 HP: 1500 out of 1500
MP/Regen: 1500% per hour HP/Regen: 150% per hour
Once again I had a group come to watch me with my final challenge for Miss Helen. I stepped into the arena and 15 minutes later stepped out a winner against a level 175 dwarven weaponmaster. Once I figured out that he was slower than me, I just went with hit and run tactics and wore the construct down until I could deal real damage. Just like before, I was able to cripple a limb, and once that happened it was all over.
“Congratulations Mark on your win. Please join me and Miss Helen in my office.”
I dutifully followed the headmaster and Miss Helen towards his office. I was a little concerned, but reasoned that this was probably a discussion about moving on or what to do after school. When we arrived the headmaster gestured to some chairs. I politely waited for Miss Helen to choose her seat and then sat down myself.
“Mark I believe that you have already conquered a five-star dungeon on your own. Would you like to turn in your materials and graduate at this time from the Vulcan Academy?”
“Yes headmaster I believe I have achieved what I came for here at the academy and should be looking to move on soon. I do have a few questions that I hope that you or Miss Helen could answer for me though.”
“Easy enough, we also wanted to talk to you about your future plans. Your skill Mark has made you one of the strongest people within a 1,000 miles. Now don’t get me wrong, there will always be someone stronger so keep striving to do better, but you are right in that we can no longer provide what you need here at the academy.”
“Thank you for your praise headmaster, I am very conflicted on what to do next. I do not feel that I am strong enough yet and while I can dungeon dive I feel that dungeons alone will not help me reach the next level power I desire.”
“Very astute of you Mark. Many reach the hero ranks and never progress. There are several reasons for this. First off is that they just stop trying. Another reason is that to progress past Hero level is very difficult. Your level may keep going up, but at a certain point, which I think you are close to now, you hit a cap in skills or attributes.”
“I have never heard of a skill or attribute cap sir. What is it?”
“Without progressing to the next level of power you will never be able to take your base stats past 150. This does not include any divine blessings or other extra bonuses you pick up from gear or other sources.”
I really was almost at the attribute cap. Another 26 levels and I would stop being able to put my attributes anywhere. That should only be another 6 months to a year. I have got to find out about the higher level. I can’t stop the process now. I know I am not ready to meet and fight the Overbeing yet. I know I have gotten strong, but I am not where I need to be yet.
“If I may ask sir, what does it take to get to the next level. I have read something about a spark, but I cannot find anything other than the name.”
“You research better than most if you even found the name of the spark. Quite simply put a spark is a large concentration of magical energy that can spark a transformation in your body and skills and evolve it into the next level.”
“How much magical energy sir?”
Helen spoke up at this point. “It takes about 100,000 mana for each affinity that you possess.”
100,000 mana and I have all affinities. That means I would need 1,000,000 mana. That is a terrifying amount.
“How is this mana collected?”
“That is the easy part. Level 8 dungeons drop mana jewels that can hold 100,000 mana. Level 9 drop jewels that hold 150,000 mana and level 10 dungeons drop mana jewels that can hold 250,000 mana. The hard part is filling the jewels with mana.”
“I don’t understand. Why would that be the hard part? Even if it takes some time you would just have to transfer a little bit of your mana a day until you reach the limit.”
When they heard me say this both the headmaster and Miss Helen laughed.
“I knew it. You have the transfer mana skill don’t you?”
“Yes, is that strange?”
“Mark, that is one of the rarest skills a person can have. What level is yours at?”
“Sir all my skills are at max level thanks to your training and Miss Helen’s.”
I could see their jaws drop. Ok, maybe this wasn’t such a normal thing. I heard Miss Helen muttering I guess that explains why his tree of life is so big. Dang it, did I do something that could tip off others to how abnormal I am? How can I fix this? Before I could even think on it the headmaster spoke once again.
“Mark don’t ever tell anybody else that you have maximum skills let alone more than one. I am not even going to ask how many you have, it might make me cry. Most people cannot get a skill over level 5. Those rare people that can max out a skill are legends. Miss Helen is a dual max skill holder in hand to hand combat and sword fighting. When she retired from active dungeon diving there were only two other known max skill holders. I was one, I have the max skill mana manipulation which is one of the reasons I am good enough with magic to be the headmaster of this academy. I also have the mana transfer skill at level 3 and it only allows me to transfer 100 mana every 15 minutes.”
“I still don’t see the problem sir. While it may take longer, and there are few people who have the skill, the jewels should still be easily filled over time.”
Miss Helen chimed in again. “You would be right except for one thing that you don’t know Mark. A jewel will only store mana in 10,000 unit chunks. Each unit has to be done in under an hour also. Do you realize how hard it is to find enough people and get them together to be able to transfer that amount in only an hour. The headmaster himself can only transfer 400 mana units in that amount of time.”
“That is right Mark. Luckily the transfer skill amount jumps up rather quickly or no one would be able to do it. Level 4 transfers 250, level 5 transfers 1,000. This means three level 5 mana transfer specialists can create one 100,000 jewel in about ten hours. The problem there is there are only two level 5 transfer specialists in this kingdom and about 25 level 4 transfer specialists.”
“The demand far outstrips the supply of full jewels. Luckily some of the level ten dungeon drops come pre-filled with a certain amount of man or no one but kings would be able to afford jewels to try and power up.”
“Wait a minute Miss Helen. You just said try. I thought if you had a full power jewel you could just level up.”
“It is not that easy. A smaller jewel gives you about a 10% chance of breaking past the barrier. Remember that the affinity of the mana jewel also has to match your affinities also. If you have no affinity like myself, you can use any type. However, this means it is even harder for magic users to power up, especially if they have multiple element types like yourself. A single 100,000 mana jewel usually starts at one million gold coins at auction and sells for around two to five million dependent on the type of mana.”
“Can I just buy empty jewels and fill them myself?”
“You are going to have too. You can’t afford to let others know about your skills. Even if you could raise the money to buy enough jewels of each type of mana people would start to question why you needed so many and what you were doing.”
“This is becoming very complicated. I can’t solo a dungeon that strong right now, and I might not ever be able to if there are stat caps like you say.”
“I know. This is why you are going to have to start traveling the continent to purchase the jewels you need. I would never buy more than three in a kingdom and even then I would make sure to leave right away. However, Miss Helen and I have a proposal for you to help you start your search and travels.”
“Over the years each of us has been able to collect several jewels of a variety of levels and would trade your filling services in exchange for a few of them. Both of us have been stuck at the top of hero power for longer than we would like to admit. Between the two of us we can usually get a full power jewel every three years or so, but we have not been able to get lucky for our breakthrough.”
Miss Helen chimed in. “I have tried three times and the head master has tried four. With only a 10% chance of breakthrough it is very difficult though.”
“Wait, it is only 10% for the 100,000 mana jewel. What about the other sizes?”
“20% for the 150,000 jewel and 50% for the 250,000 jewel. Neither of us could ever afford the price of the higher cost jewels. It takes us three years as it is to combine our funds enough for us to get a lower level jewel, and that is just to have it charged. To buy a new fully charged one would take ten years of saving for us at the lowest level and probably 20 years or more for the next.”
“So will you fill some jewels for us if we give you some for your own use?”
“Can we just use the same jewel over and over?”
“You can continue to reuse a jewel only if you fail in your breakthrough. If you succeed the jewel is consumed.”
“What jewels do you have?”
“We have eight of the 100,000 mana jewels four of the 150,000 jewels and two of the 250,000 jewels. We saved them instead of selling them in hopes of finding some students with higher aptitudes of mana transferring and starting our own business of mana jewel refilling and use it to help us break through.”
“Well here is my counterproposal. I will fill every low level gem you have in exchange for the two empty 250,000 mana jewels. If you cannot break through with those than I will fill the four 150,000 jewels. If you do breakthrough I get the four 150,000 mana jewels also. If not I want you to sell one of the four filled jewels for more empty 150,000 and 250,000 jewels. Start a rumor now that you have several up and coming students who might be able to start filling jewels in the future. This should cover our tracks. I will continue to fill one 150,000 jewel a month for you to use until you either break through or you get 10 more 250,000 jewels. I need ten myself and I will fill 250,000 jewels for you if you get extra.”
Miss Helen and the headmaster looked at each other and both said deal at the same time.
“How fast can you fill the jewels Mark?”
“I can transfer about 50,000 mana an hour if I have a quiet place to work.”
Once again jaws dropped.
“Enough talking let’s get started.”