Chapter 162 Contracts, a Guide to Bland Titles
“Alright, first thing. I have a third tier skill point in my second class, can’t use it though. Why?” Ilea asked as he took the crystal.
“Normally you need five skills in the class to be the maximum level before you can unlock a third tier. As soon as you do that you’ll have to have five again for the next one.” Dagon said and Ilea nodded. She had two so far at the maximum level but many more were very close. So it wouldn’t take long.
“Why normally?” she asked after looking through her skills.
“Well there are outliers from time to time. I’ve heard many different things over the years. Level twenty skills that would simply advance to the third tier, skipping the second entirely. Classes giving two third tier skill points at level two hundred and one specific case where no third tier points were rewarded even though five of the class skills were at second level twenty. It’s incredibly rare, so much so that I’ve only ever read about them but the sources seem trustworthy. Just know that I believe some abnormalities might exist. Specific classes perhaps or hidden requirements.” the man explained.
“Interesting. Well I’ll find out one way or the other I suppose. Ever heard of the Inheritor of Eternal Ash class? I’m paying for the answer and anything related with the name of it should it be unfamiliar to you.” Ilea continued.
“No, I haven’t. An Ash Wielder evolution then?” the man asked and Ilea nodded. “Care to share the requirements?” he asked and Ilea shrugged. Knowing about the requirements didn’t really change how difficult it was to obtain.
“Can I somehow find that information again because I don’t remember all of it.” she said.
“You should be able to focus on the class for the additional information you received when it evolved.” the man said, poised to start writing, his tome open. Ilea nodded and recited the information from her mind.
“You have three resistance skills in the second stage? I would be very interested to find out more about them if you’re willing to share.” Dagon said, his hand quivering a little as he finished writing down Ilea’s information.
“First answer the question, I’ll think about it.” she said.
“Let me check then. There are a couple mentions of classes with the name of Inheritor in them but the records are not conclusive. The sources are stories and songs, nothing from someone I or a predecessor actually met. All sources speak of a specific element and its destructive capabilities wielded by a single man or woman. Two of them mention the creation and control of said element specifically, one talking about a man imprisoned in the highest mountains, covered in ice. Yet still he manages to spark a flame strong enough to burn his way out through the runed chains and walls. It ends with him facing a dragon in battle, matching the legendary creature’s flame.” Dagon paused for a moment before he turned the page on his tome.
Ilea was quite sure none of that had been written on that page but she wasn’t about to question the librarian’s magic. “I’m sorry, it seems to be a rather rare thing but I don’t doubt some high leveled elemental mages have obtained similar classes. At that level it’s simply quite rare for them to share it with anybody else but their pupils, family or their order.” the man said, shaking his head.
“Well that brings me to the next thing. I’ve reached the second stage and level twenty in many skills already but I am pretty sure that I’m not using them to their fullest potential. Am I just dreaming?” Ilea asked.
“No, even I still discover new depths to the skills I’ve long since maxed out. The level simply sets a hard cap on your skills but this is actually studied and known rather well. At least in the Shadow’s Hand. Most people don’t reach the maximum efficiency long after reaching the maximum level. There are specific records of mages with the exact same skills testing them against each other, objects and other… well subjects.” Dagon said. “The mages with more experience, not the leveling kind, usually had better results. Sometimes clever ways to use the spells enhanced them as well. The same applies to melee combat but it’s harder to measure there.”
“If two master swordsmen face each other, both at the maximum of their skill level. One will still come out on top, wouldn’t they? If you would assume that the maximum skill level meant a specific ability, then it would be a tie always. The same applies to magical abilities, elemental spells for example. There is more than raw power and potential. My theory is that much of this is also governed by numbers though we cannot access them.” Dagon explained rather thoroughly. Ilea nodded as he pretty much confirmed her assumptions.
Her skill levels would stagnate for a while it seemed, at least the ones already maxed but using them wouldn’t be stagnation after all. The world wasn’t quite as simple as some of the games she had seen back on Earth, at least when it came to the details.
“I’ll tell you about the second stage of Lightning Resistance then.” Ilea said and smiled.
“There are records on it but it would be nice to get another confirmation.” Dagon said and she obliged.
“… that’s all that I can reasonably explain about the creation and manipulation of elements. I don’t think much of it applies to ash but maybe it helps a little.” Dagon finished the lengthy explanation, having cost Ilea five mana crystals.
It seemed the manipulation of different elements, be it light, shadow, sunlight, fire, water or earth, they all held their intricacies. All records were different, different mages talking about completely different approaches, feelings and strategies. Dagon had concluded that the advanced stages of element manipulation were intrinsically individualistic, reflecting the mage’s personal connection, experiences and the flow of their mana.
“So basically, find your own way?” Ilea asked, a little annoyed that that was all that came out of the over an hour long discussion.
“Yes and no.” Dagon said. “Test the examples I’ve given you, perhaps some might fit you, perhaps you will as you say, find your own way. I’m interested in your approach though so come back if you advance more. The way you learned to be a fire mage has never been confirmed but I trust you as a source.” he added and wrote down something in his tome. Ilea caught a glimpse of the words vanishing after being written.
“Oh I did do it by burning myself. Having a healer nearby is elementary to be sure.” she said and smiled. Talking to Dagon had helped her in some way. She knew that at least she wasn’t likely to be wasting her time working on her ashen skills even though they’d soon hit the max level currently possible. Additionally there wasn’t some way to do it the proper way.
Well there probably was but the interned didn’t exist here and if someone died testing their methods, well there was no respawn. At least she was pretty sure there wasn’t.
“Hey Dagon, are there resurrection spells or skills?” she asked suddenly, summoning another mana crystal.
“Hmm, that’s a tricky one. There are stories of healers who could recreate near completely destroyed bodies. There are somewhat reliable sources telling of recoveries a couple hours after heads were removed, bodies nearly completely burnt or drowned. We don’t know of any specific classes or spells that could achieve such a thing but what at least all sources have in common, including the more unreliable ones, is that the recovered person looses a lot of their personal power.” the man finished.
“You mean levels, skill levels or whole classes and skills?” she asked and the man shook his head.
“No records, sorry.” he said. The man didn’t know as much as Ilea had hoped he would.
“Alright. Well my time is up, at least you know your rune is working.” she winked at the man and got up.
“Not well enough apparently.” he said, lifting his glass to her and finishing the drink.
Ilea strolled through Viscera and summoned Aki after storing him for the duration of the visit. She wanted to keep at least some of her personal information away from the dagger as she still didn’t know anything about his origins. He didn’t talk much either, their relationship having stagnated in the past months due to their ironically unspoken agreement of silence.
“Hey Aki, how are you doing?” she asked as she exited the Shadow’s Hand headquarters and entered the city.
“In an emotional mood are we?” the dagger asked and she just shrugged.
“Mate we don’t know each other very well for the fact that we’ve been traveling together for half a year.” Ilea said and nodded to a group of three Hand members who greeted her. The dagger waited until they had passed and answered.
“I don’t exactly feel trusted if you put me away every time you talk about anything deeper than your bloody porridge.” Aki said and Ilea stopped, unsheathing the dagger and looking at him.
“It’s been pretty busy in the past six months. Plus I haven’t exactly made the best experience with trusting people for no good reason.” she said.
“You trust your team mates. And I’m not people, I’m metal.” the dagger argued. “I do enjoy the ride though so this is fine for me, better by bloody miles compared to sitting next to a dusty skeleton for a thousand years.” a chuckle came from the dagger.
“I’ve fought with them you know, trained with them. Makes it a little easier. Maybe it’s hard to trust you Because you are metal. Then again there’s little reason to mistrust you either. Except you’re something like the one ring, corrupting all.” Ilea joked and continued her walk.
“I’m no one ring, whatever that may be. Maybe there is some manipulative purpose imbued in me but I don’t see how that would be a problem for you.” the dagger said.
“Fuck, I forgot the leather armor.” Ilea said and turned around. She didn’t quite know how to handle the dagger. Sure, he would enjoy the ride and she didn’t think he had any evil intentions with her but it felt more like a colleague than anything else. She didn’t mind him and neither did he mind her.
Ilea reached the training halls soon after and went to get a couple sets of leather armor from a storage room. Nobody was guarding anything, there was even another member casually looking at some of the swords. There was nothing special down here for anybody at their level, nothing they couldn’t buy with a somewhat small investment. Ilea got three sets of fitting armor, which would probably cost around one to two gold coins in a shop.
Thinking on it, she would have to be a little more frugal now. With her near infinite wealth invested, her actual cash was reduced to 44 gold. Still plenty to go around and she had a house and enough food to probably last her a year or two. And she could hunt. Ilea shrugged at the thought, actually glad that her money will be able to help build up the city again. Plus she made a friend very happy, Claire would be busy enough with her responsibilities at the Shadow’s Hand but now she had a hobby as well.
“What if I can become useful in some way.” Aki said suddenly as the newly clad Ilea walked out of the headquarters again.
“I mean you’re my pocket knife.” Ilea said and made her way towards the government building.
“Yea but you don’t exactly fight with daggers or knifes. With your ashen shit you probably won’t be needing your bow for much longer either.” Aki said.
“Well what do you have in mind? Any skills you didn’t mention? You managed to burn my hand a little when I first met you but that won’t add a whole lot to my arsenal.” Ilea asked as they reached the building, getting some glances from people who overheard. “Let’s talk later.” she said. “Gonna store you again.” she added as she blinked into Claire’s office and made Aki vanish.
“Oh finally. Welcome back, here’s the contract. Let me get you through it so you can sign. I’ve already prepared seventy four purchase contracts that I need you to sign with your mana and signature.” Claire started talking immediately, sorting the papers in front of her.
“Isn’t that a little much. I mean it’s a bunch of gold but seventy four shops? I assume it’s shops.” Ilea asked.
“Shops, houses, inns, streets, land, also in other cities nearby and further away. I don’t plan to sit on this but you’ll have to give me time. Plus not all of these will come through, this is simply because you’ll be gone to who knows where soon enough and I won’t be able to reach you anymore. Now come, sit down.” Claire said.
Surprisingly it only took forty five minutes for her to go through the main contract and explain the gist and setup of all the purchases. Ilea waved her off on the third one already, telling her that she should do as she thought best before she read and signed all the purchase documents. It was impressive that Claire could create so many documents in the little time.
“I’m so excited to start Ilea. Thank you so so so so much for giving me this opportunity.” Claire was brimming with joy while having a scary look in her eyes. Ilea wasn’t sure if she’d invested in a super villain. The thought of her own lair like house near the ocean made her relax though, she already was one.
“Thank the Taleen for their contribution.” Ilea said with a smirk.
“Yea but I mean you went there and got it out. Do you think I would’ve managed that?” Claire asked and Ilea thought back on the Centurions and the green fire, then there was the acid coming up in the dark hall. Maybe not. She wiggled her hand in an uncertain gesture.
“Exactly. Next time though you offer at most 15 percent for the manager. I made it 30 because I’m your friend.” Claire said proudly, lecturing Ilea.
“How does that make sense?” Ilea asked but smiled.
“You can’t be trusted with too much gold.” the woman said. The contract included that as soon as 250 gold coins was reached in winnings, all additional money earned could be reinvested in new projects. Ilea was to return sometimes to sign new projects but should the contracts and the purchases be similar enough to a previously signed purchase, Claire was allowed to do everything on her own. She basically had full control other than going completely against Ilea’s wishes and having the buffer of the 250 gold coins.
“Well then I hope you have fun with this, I’ll be back training. Don’t forget to do that either, if you find any time. I might visit again soon. When do you think the jobs will come in?” Ilea asked.
“Come back in a week and I’ll have some ready for you. Two weeks might be more reasonable for better paying missions but I doubt you do it for the money. I’ll look for dangerous targets in hard to reach places.” Claire said and sighed, glad she put in the death clause wherein Ilea’s half would be split between Kyrian and Claire. It would be a bureaucratic nightmare to explain a suddenly dead partner.
“See you then.” Ilea said and blinked out of the room, glad that was finally done. Claire would’ve done well on Earth. She did well even here. Shaking her head, she walked out into the square and stretched, the hood of her leather armor up, making her a rather unimpressive figure other than her identification that outed her as a level 224 warrior.
“That’s her I think, new armor but yea. I’m pretty sure that’s her.” A soldier nearby said while pointing at Ilea. He looked away and gulped as soon as she looked his way, surprised that she could hear him from the distance and with all the noise going on in the square.
The suns were setting, their last rays breaking through the cloudy horizon as a figure in light armor and a dark hood nodded to the soldier before walking over towards Ilea.
She looked at the figure with interest, noting the simple short sword on his waist and the casual confidence he held himself with. A rogue at level one twenty. At least he wasn’t likely to be here for a fight.
“I have a delivery to make for a black haired and blue eyed member of the Shadow’s Hand.” the man said.
“That’s oddly fitting isn’t it? I know of at least three people fitting that description.” Ilea said, knowing of none.
The man chuckled in response and put his hands together. “Well I have two additional descriptions that should set you apart, at least if that soldier is to be believed. That is black wings of ash.” he said and smiled.
“Well I’m not gonna show you anything here.” she said and he nodded respectfully.
“Reasonable of you. Then the second piece of information I received. It stated that you would be able to find me.” he said and walked off, his figure suddenly shrouded in a mist of shadow. Ten more meters and he vanished. Ilea knew that he had teleported away as he was still in her Sphere’s range.
‘A game of tag then. Or a trap. Well either way I’m intrigued.’ she thought and followed the man as quietly as she could. He had moved below the city and into the vast system of underground hallways and sewers.