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A note from Amsdoff

Alright. New year, new chapter.

I wanted to do a longer chapter, but it turns out 4 hours of sleep doesn't make writing easier. However, I'm pretty sure this is coherent enough, and it was fun to write. We're getting into the last major arc of book 1. Maybe last two, depending. God knows how many words will actually make that up, but hey: it's up to the mid 120 thousands in words. If you told me I'd write something this long a year ago, I'd have laughed.

I hope all of you had a good time celebrating (or sleeping) last night. 

Enjoy!

Also… Kaythe has a status screen now that I can access:

[Name: Kaythe

Level: 2

Health: 15/23

H Recovery: 3.25 / hour

Stamina: 5/21

S Recovery: 5.5 / minute

Dexterity 21
Strength 6 +4 (10)
Endurance 6 +5 (11)

Toughness 10 +3 (13)
Intelligence 9 +4 (13)
Perception 45]

Well, none of that comes as much of a surprise. I mean, I didn’t know his Perception was that high, but considering how much he gives me via our bond, it’s not outrageous.

Kaythe starts wiggling excitedly again. “Predator! I have grown stronger!”

“Yeah, congrats Kaythe. Any idea how you levelled instead of getting skills?”

“No!” Yeah, ok it was worth a shot… I guess. I shrug, mostly to myself, and quickly heal Kaythe up to full. My bag is full of monster corpses, so there isn’t much point, but it’s good practice.

[Skill levels gained! Transfuse Energy +1 (2)]

Honestly, I’m getting pretty good at healing, I don’t think there’s much I can’t deal with anym-

You couldn’t save Rav. The thought hits me like a punch to the gut. You were too slow, too weak, too untalented. A dark reminder that sits in my head, keeping me from being happy… and now it has more ammunition to use against me. I shake my head, but it doesn’t remove the feeling. Kaythe seems to sense my feelings, and crawls onto my shoulders, wrapping me in a vague approximation of a hug. The idea that a Cathid is trying to make me feel better is actually more effective at cheering me up than the actual actions, but I pet Kaythe reassuringly anyway. Life is suffering, and punishing yourself for mistakes. I guess… the best you can hope for is to be better next time. Make the mistakes less bad.

“Anthony! You ready?” Lynn calls out as she heads over. “Oh, I see you already found Lauren.” Wha-? I start to look around, trying to see what she means, and Lauren fucking appears next to me like a wraith, cocksure grin already plastered across her face. The grin grows wider when I jump slight away in reaction, and yell something manly, like: “OHFUCKWHAT”.

“Oh hey there Amadeus, didn’t see you there. Something scare you?”

“You are the worst. The absolute worst.”

“Wait, why did you call him Amadeus? I thought your name was Anthony?”

Fuck me sideways.

---

A solemn, but determined atmosphere hangs over The Barrows when we return. Marie accepts the load of Treant corpses with a tight smile and a nod, but puts them aside for later. She’s busy standing watch with Amy and Samuel, and they all seem to be taking it seriously. Good. We’re on the razor’s edge here, and we might just survive the coming onslaught if we get enough time in first. Amy immediately grabs a few larger pieces of the Treants and gets to work carving arrow shafts out of them. She works faster than should be reasonable, or even possible. Clearly she has some assistance from the system, but it’s still mesmerizing to watch her hands move impossibly quickly and precisely. I would never have guessed there was so much finesse required in just crafting arrows…

Lauren smacks my arm lightly. “Quit staring, let’s leave them to it. It looks like the other team is sleeping right now, so we should probably train instead.”

“Ugh, going from training right to defending for the night? That’s the worst idea ever.”

“Either we deal with that shitty draw or they do. Which do you think is better, glorious leader?” She says the last part with no small amount of sarcasm, but she’s right. Who’s going to respect somebody that always chooses the easy way? Though, to be fair, I’d thought I’d set the right precedent already by taking watch for the nights…

Some people just can’t be satisfied. Like Zathis, when he’s training us. Another brutal round of pain filled fun awaits us in the veritable arena that his room has become. This time, the training is so intense that I don’t have the focus to observe what hell the others are put through. That, and Zathis really wants to hammer home the usefulness of my new greatsword skill. Over the hours we spend training, he continuously pushes me to, and then over, the edge of what my body can handle. If the system wasn’t accelerating our natural healing, and if my own ability with healing was less, I’d be worried about brain damage just from the number of times I pass out and hit my head. That’s not even counting the damage from all the projectiles, stone swords, and crowds of statues that I fail to navigate. Not by much, honestly, but a sword that ‘just barely’ hits you still hurts a lot more than one that misses completely, or so Zathis boomed jovially when I complained. The other thing I quickly notice is that I don’t have the problem of my muscles getting too tired and needing rest. I get exhausted, and I have to spend a while recovering my Stamina, but when it’s back, I can go on until it’s gone again (and a little past, at the cost of burning health instead). Broken muscle fibres, most commonly associated with exercise and muscle growth, count as damage to me, as far as Energy is concerned. I just need to spend a few moments binding everything back together, and bam, back to full. I think… the only issue with doing this is that I don’t feel much stronger every time. I probably only manage to heal back to the way I was, so I can’t maximize muscle growth by abusing my healing abilities.

Which sucks.

But, that doesn’t count for my Endurance. The system seems to recognize ‘draining Stamina’ as the required factor for raising it. Strength, I guess you have to train the old fashioned way. Likewise, Toughness requires being damaged and healing naturally through it, which I really hate. I’m momentarily envious of Kaythe and his ability to just get Primary Skills by levelling. The jerk.

Speaking of Kaythe, Zathis makes an effort to train him as well, and judging by the amount of distress and pain being conveyed over our mental link, it’s going well. Given his lack of experience even using his new body, I’m just glad Zathis hasn’t accidentally killed him yet.

I flow out of the way of an incoming projectile (aimed squarely at my head), and only notice while I’m spinning to deflect a follow-up attack exactly how close it came to smashing my skull. I should care a lot, but I don’t. I’m so deep into the battle trance that I doubt I’d even notice if I was dead until a few minutes later. Where my internal focus is almost zero, my knowledge of my surroundings reaches ridiculous levels. The slight sound of rock on rock alerts me to a possible attack, but the whistling of wind confirms it’s a projectile. I’m already moving to avoid the next two projectiles by the time that shot is even a threat.

Sometimes I can’t dodge. I know ahead of time that my body won’t be quick enough, nor my weight distributed correctly even if it was, so I have to sense the attack of least lethality and take it to a place that doesn’t matter. Much easier said than done, but when I manage to pull it off, I barely feel the pain. The resulting stagger leads into the next movement, and a subsequent dodge. Even my mistakes are worked into the dance, as long as I perceive them first.

Drenched in sweat, I collapse a final time, feeling borderline euphoria as I finally let my body relax.

“F- uck.” I huff out, with barely the spare air for even that much.

“The man just keeps going. Hey, if you can’t move tonight, and you get fucked up by some Shades, don’t expect me to save you. I’ll just think back to you showing off like this during practice, and think: he’s got it all under control.”

“Fuck. You. Lauren.” A breath per word, without nearly as much bite as I had wanted.

“Mmm, I don’t think you’d be able to manage it right now, tough guy.” She laughs even harder when she sees my facial expression, and I’m just glad my recent exercise is (hopefully) hiding my blushing. The same can not be said for Lynn, who has been sitting idle for a bit too long for her cheeks to still be that red. She makes an attempt to hide her laughter, but it really only serves to highlight it instead.

“You guys- really- don’t show your leader- enough respect.”

Lynn responds this time. “Oh? You’re our leader? Maybe overall, but on this team, I believe you said: ‘nominate your own’, correct?”

I manage a growl as I slowly push myself to my feet, which only elicits another bout of laughter.

“Fine, fine. I’ll pretend you two didn’t hang around just to get off watching me sweat.” Both women have a moment of stunned silence, before Lynn turns away, beet red, and Lauren grins like a feral cat. “-But, if you’re not willing to just let me be the group leader, I’ve got a proposition.”

Lynn manages to compose herself enough to face me again, tears of laughter still evident in her eyes. “And what, exactly, would that be?”

“We’ll all duel. Best combatant leads the group.”

“Oh fuck yes.” Lauren looks way too giddy. “Now you’re speaking my language!”

“I agree as well.” Lynn nods along.

“Fine! Tomorrow, after we rest.”

“Just so long as you don’t die first. Your legs look more wobbly than a tower of jello.”

I smirk in reply. These two are just the fucking best (worst).

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Amsdoff

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Flammenwerfer @Flammenwerfer ago

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Garrdor @Garrdor ago

Why are what most stories call stats called skills?

    Author

    Amsdoff @Amsdoff ago

    The dumb (correct) answer is that I decided to name them that way early on to be unique and just kinda stuck with it. That and it fits into the whole 'primary' 'secondary' thing, implying the different skills are related but also seperate.

      Flammenwerfer @Flammenwerfer ago

      Ehh, the issue with calling them 'primary skills' is that things like 'strength' and 'endurance' aren't really skills per se. They're more like qualities you inherently have rather than skills you can train. I mean, it is possible to improve your endurance and strength through training, but it's really more that you're letting your body improve itself instead of actually learning anything.

      You should really use more energy when you come up with names for these things....

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      Also, skills seem to be unique or at least personalized, but every one has the same primary skills. Are there people without the skill strength? There may be some slime monsters without intelligence or some spirits without physical form but it seems odd to call stats skills. Especially in your world where one can buy skills. What would he have to do to buy perception? What does the skill cost to use? Not to mention they use a different leveling system than secondary skills.

      Author

      Amsdoff @Amsdoff ago

      In this episode of: Making the Author Rage...

      I get you. The distinction I wanted to make was that there is a 'system enhancement' as well as actual physical statistics. I'm sure everyone forgot about the second status menu from the very beginning, but... yeah. There's both kinds of stats. One is just recorded on a nice, accessible screen, the other... less so.

      If that's super mysterious, it should be. Can't give all my secrets.

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      So he has strength, and a primary skill that modifies it by whatever number? Kinda like his un system aptitude for the sword will make his Skill with the sword more effective? Still seems like an extra hoop to jump through, any reason you're sticking with it? I can't remember if he's more cut now that he's gained strength, are you trying to cut back on physical manifestations of higher stats?

      Author

      Amsdoff @Amsdoff ago

      Yeah, that's a big piece of it. It's kind of a running theme that the system tends to take something that exists and enhance it. The system serves to take people's flaws and exacerbate them just as much as their assets are enhanced. It's part of the reason that people's personalities are focussed on so much; they're the main source of faults in the characters. The system doesn't really touch the mental side that much, and where it does, it's a bit... weird. Hopefully I do a sufficient job at explaining it when the characters ever figure it out.

      Flammenwerfer @Flammenwerfer ago

      But is it a skill that you learn, or is it just some kind of 'enhancement' that gets attached to someone that boosts their base ability?

      Author

      Amsdoff @Amsdoff ago

      Well... both. Like 'Will', for instance, is a skill that most people never even know exists, let alone learn. Meanwhile, normal human lives cause the default acquisition of a bunch of the Primary Skills. The 'acquisition' process is a bit fucky because it almost exclusively occurs during the tutorial, which has a modified system in control of it. Basically, humans have a default, average set of Primary skills to start. The hope (from the system's side) is that people who deviate from that average will establish the new stats in the tutorial, like Amadeus did with Will. Adding new Primary Skills during the trial is much more difficult for a lot of reasons, so it doesn't happen as frequently. Does that help? Honestly, I should probably write the system background up somewhere.

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      The people who deviate will develop new STATS, you say? You can have hidden stats a lot easier than you can have hidden skills, are you saying you need to develop the skills to use the stats? Even if they exist and have a positive value, until you have the primary skill for the stat, people can't use willpower?

      Honestly it probably doesn't matter, unless you're planning on making it a huge plot point, but even if they're system enabled modifiers that effect what we know as stats, the phrasing is gonna be noticed (by me at least)

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      It's weird that you've hidden Anthony's actual stats from him and from us and instead invented stat modifiers that we can see, when you could just call them stats and have a line saying they function as modifiers. But if you want to be unique I understand that as well, maybe call them passives or something? Cuz they're all passive "skills" right, he's never toggled system enhanced strength instead of what his physical muscles are capable of, right?

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      And another thing! If the tables he sees are the simplified version of a very complex and complicated deeper version, why would it show the skills that effect stats instead of just showing what ones stats effectively are?

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      I'm sorry I've been doing this thing where I just yell my opinions at authors my b

      Author

      Amsdoff @Amsdoff ago

      Nah, these are legitimate questions so I'll do my best to answer them.

      Basically, Amadeus fucking forgot about the secondary status screen. That's literally it. Honestly, it wasn't memorable at all and he didn't understand why it was important, so he just ignored it in favor of paying attention to the end of the world.

      Stats and Primary Skills are independent in this world. Primary Skills are basically system enhancements for Stats, but someone can have Stats that the system doesn't enhance. They get system enhancement for a Stat by demonstrating it in a way the system understands, and if the system has the capacity to enhance it. Stats, as far as the system is concerned, are entirely unimportant. Whatever you were before the system, you would be so much greater afterwards that your Stats don't matter. Thus, the system doesn't address them in the normal, everyday accessable status. The second, shitty status screen is something only like... maybe 3 humans know about, in this world. And, considering how lackluster it is, probably none of them know what it's used for.

      The truth is, I'm having to answer these questions without spoiling a ton of plot, which... can't be done. So you're getting half answers and cryptic nonsense. I will answer all of these questions *at some point*, but... not now.

      nukestar @nukestar ago

      Wait, "primary skills" is stats?

      Garrdor @Garrdor ago

      Primary skills are stat modifiers, like you have a level 10 strength skill that modifies whatever your actual, physical biological strength is (by 10).

      I think.

Eladar @Eladar ago

Him and Lauren are probably going to have sex eventually... I will be glad to be wrong. Maybe, once they get dat dank village or before the Cerberus fight. Although, Lauren might not let anybody actually have her. Hmm, in terms of memories they are all virgins. I wonder if their body changes restored virginity. Hmm... I need help. Mental help. Lot's of it.

Silence

Oh, no. He is back. Be go-

Silence

*coughs out blood*

Good

I-

I said Silence

*falls on the floor dying* I REJECT

Aaargh

What's wrong? Don't have enough energy to resist?

That hurt more than your puny Skill

Oh really? Your existence. I REJECT

Ha! Ha! Ha! Reject all you want. You can't stand against the System with your foolish strength.

I said, I "/)/ç)/%&

You have killed -----. Power gained +("*/&%ç*/"*&(/ç&"(/*&ç(/"*ç"/*)/ç)/")*/ç/ (#Error)

Skill levels gained! Rejection +11 (533)

You have caught the attention of a Divinity. Beware.

Title gained: Rejector of Reality.

Rejector of Reality- You have rejected time and time again. Now your ability to reject has grown to the level where it affects reality itself.

Title sacrificied: Rejector of Reality.

/)"ç(/)"/ç +0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 x10^-1983009128309810283 gained.

Warning: You have absorbed too much power.

You have caught the attention of Devon. Run for your life.

Shi-

You have died.

Unleashing stored energy.

Energy successfully unleashed.

Calculating damage...

1,293,847,387,182 multiverses destroyed.

Activating clean up protocol.

Shutting down...

Enjoy your afterlife, Anamoly.