The next few days pass in a blur. Crinis, Tiny and I continue to use our skills over and over again in the search of those elusive levels. In order to push harder, we forego sleep. No true training montage includes sleep!
This does mean things get a little hazy after a while
Tiny and I managed to take the next group of villagers to change their class into the shortcut in order to power level them through the transition. Supposedly this boost will help the most since they're switching from such weak classes to something that has a non-horrific stat gain, these first ten levels or so will give them the oomph they'll need to accelerate to the point they can fight monsters on their own.
After sending the humans back to their village it was back to the grind for us. I eventually switched grinding on my bite skills. According to Beyn it's highly likely that a fusion of bite skills exists if I can get them to the same rank. I have three bite skills at the moment, the highest being my Shattering Bite, then Splintering Chomp and finally Ripping Bite. If I can get all three of those to the same rank then the option to fuse them will likely come available. The higher I can get them before that point, the more potent the fusion will be. So I'm going to push and see if I can get them all to rank four, that would be the best outcome.
And all the while, those twenty pupae sit still, somewhere above my head, like ticking time bombs. It should take them roughly a week in pupal form before they hatch and I need to use this time to power myself up as much as possible.
So the next two days bring more grinding until Tiny, Crinis and I finally collapse in a heap, too exhausted to continue any further. Some sleep is in order.
Before we rest I check in with the others and my own status to see the fruits of our labours.
Tiny has gained four level in Ape Boxing, two in Brutal Uppercut, advancing the skill in rank to Severe Brutal uppercut, three levels in fancy feet, increasing in rank to dazzling fancy feet, his Smash skill has increased to Heavy Smash level three.
His punching skills have all levelled up, making his fists even more deadly in combat. I still have no idea what fancy feet does, but I suspect it has something to do with balance and footwork, as opposed to actual dancing. I have no proof though…
All in all a respectable boost to his strength, but Dr Anthony recommends further grinding.
Crinis has also reaped some fruits.
Her Advanced Shadow Flesh Manipulation was the main beneficiary as she was able to raise it to the third rank, Expert Shadow Flesh Manipulation level one. Advanced Grappling gained four levels to reach level seven, Enhanced Tremor sense raised two levels, her tentacle walking reached the second rank, at Smooth Tentacle Walking level one. Crinis has also shown her dedicated attitude by obsessively grinding her mana manipulation and has managed to take it to Mana Shaping level two already.
With her flesh manipulation reaching new heights, combined with her enhanced mass, Crinis is able now able to manifest a truly ridiculous number of tentacles and her control over them has grown impressive. Razor thin tentacle wires, tentacle nets, you name it, she can do it. As a shadow puppeteer she is without equal.
As for myself…
Heh… heh… gweheheheheheh.
Mana Scrooge two levels up to level three! Cerebral Endurance, up three levels and advances in rank to Advanced Cerebral Endurance level two! Deep meditation up four levels to level six! Stamina up three levels and increases in rank to Advanced Stamina Level two! Mana Transformation up three levels to level nine! Shredding Bite up four levels to level five! Splintering Chomp up two levels to level six and Shattering Bite up one level to level twelve!
Most importantly, Advanced Water Mana Affinity up a whopping seven levels to ten and advanced to third rank! Expert Water Mana Affinity!
It nearly melted all of my brains together but I did it! How many thousands of water and ice spells did I have to cast? Don't ask! I don't want to think about it!
But according to Beyn, reaching the third rank should unlock the next set of magical affinities that will become available to me. No sooner do I spend the skill point to advance the skill do I pop open the menu and see what my options are.
Come onnnnn Gravity! Gimme that suction! That sounds wrong…
The menu reads as follows!
Mind Magic Affinity.
Mineral Magic Affinity.
Sound Magic Affinity.
Healing Magic Affinity.
My dreams! My hopes! All gone to ashes!
This means I'll have to select one of these and level it to the third rank before unlocking the next wave… Which means a heck of a lot more grinding… Ugh!
Well… which of the three options will be best? I'm guessing I unlocked mind magic do it being the construct I use the second most, mineral magic probably because of my digging skills and species as an ant, presuming it’s a kind of advanced earth magic. Sound magic? Possibly due to my sneak skills? Healing I would put down to my emphasis on regeneration and possibly my exposure to healing mana from the Queen.
Perhaps Gravity is simply too powerful to become available so quickly…
Let's hope so.
Of the four options, I think I'll pick Mind Magic. It makes a lot of sense, since I frequently use it already and I feel like there is a ton of potential there for shenanigans. If it really is capable of reading minds and altering memories then I can do all sort of things with it.
After picking up all these skills and grinding my minds into dust, it's time for some rest.
Exhausted, the three of us collapse into sleep, having recruiting Vibrant and her posse to protect us as we rest.
As torpor gradually leeches through my body and the world grows still, there is one thought lingering in my mind: the next generation is only five days away.