General Experience Earned
Health Use: 1
Stamina Use: 52
Mana Use: 231
Skill Experience Earned
Extend Aura: 40
Purify: 103 [Rank Up]
“Son of a...!”
Rain cursed as the piercing blue light terminated his rest with extreme prejudice. Finding himself suddenly awake, his poor eyes stinging and watering from the light, Rain mentally added doing something about the dialogs to his priority list. He placed it at number one, bumping ‘stay alive’ down to number two temporarily.
Rain waited out the pain, his closed eyes doing nothing whatsoever to reduce the brightness of the dialog. After a few more seconds his eyes had adapted to the glare sufficiently for him to read the text. His anger at his method of awakening was slowly mollified as he reviewed the experience he had gained. He was particularly pleased about the rank up for purify. He dismissed the dialog and immediately opened his options menu to kill it for good.
Touching ‘customize HUD’ and digging through the menu, he found a few settings for status dialogs. As he had noticed before, this menu was uncannily intuitive. He had a sense of what each option would do, even without a printed description. He messed around for a little bit, changing notifications from ‘safe’ to ‘immediate’, which he intuited would cause a dialog to appear immediately in his face whenever he defeated an enemy.
This would have been awful when fighting more than one foe at a time had he not also changed the notification mode from ‘visual’ to ‘auditory’. There were options for different dialog types, so he set ‘kill dialog tone’ to ‘dingaling’, ‘level dialog tone’ to ‘fanfare’, and ‘training dialog tone’ to ‘alarm’. He didn't mind having a built-in alarm clock, but a familiar ringing was infinitely preferable to a blinding neon sign lasering its way straight through his eyelids. There were no other notification types listed at the moment, but there was an option for default notification sound, which he left on the preset of ‘alert’.
He had decided on audio alerts upon seeing the ‘notification log’ option, which had caused a mid-sized panel to appear on his HUD showing a list of all his previous messages. Once he finished customizing the alert tones, he dragged the log window to the bottom left of his view and made it mostly transparent. He looked around the room, the log staying fixed with the position of his head, not his eyes. Damn, it is still pretty distracting. I wish there was a way to toggle this thing on and off... hey, wasn't there a menu called keywords or something? Options.
After tapping the ‘keywords’ option for the mental interface layer, Rain was presented with a new menu with a list of options on the left and something that looked like a text editor on the right. The list on the left was familiar, listing out the names of the various menus that he could open, as well as the names of his spells. There was a new keyword at the bottom of the list that he didn’t recognize: ‘notification log’. Selecting it, he saw that it populated the text field with the same phrase.
Humm, Notification Log.
As he concentrated on the command, the log disappeared. Concentrating again, he turned it back on the same way.
Ok, good. I can turn it on and off. I wonder if I can change the keyword?
Touching the text field caused a line of text to appear at the bottom of the window. ‘Select new keyword’, it said. Not having a keyboard, Rain tried focusing on the word ‘log’ and the text in the field changed to match. Nice. He thought, clicking apply and closing the menu with a swipe.
The log disappeared.
The log reappeared.
Cool. Oh, wait, gotta test something.
Ahem. I wrote in my log that I was going to the forest to find a log.
Good, it only shows up when I actually mean to use the keyword, not whenever I think the word in some other context. What even is the point of the verbal interface then? I’ve heard others speaking to cast spells, but why would you do that instead of just using a thought?
Rain turned his attention back to the log floating in his lower field of vision.
Now is there a way to see the full text for these? It isn’t showing the details, just a summary line.
Opening back up his options menu he found that indeed there was. ‘Expand on focus’ turned out to be the single most revolutionary setting Rain had discovered so far, except perhaps the HUD itself. With it enabled, focusing on an entry in the log for a few seconds brought up the full message. Dismissing it was as easy as returning his focus to his surroundings. On a hunch, he tried it with his health bar, seeing the numbers 200/200 appearing in white text when he focused on it, then fading away as he stopped.
What the hell is the deal with these menus anyway? The fact that they are here at all is bad enough, but sometimes it seems like the options I need are just appearing right when I need them. It is almost like… It is almost like I am seeing what I expect to see. Does my mind define the interface? Does it look like a video game because I wanted to be a game developer before I had to drop out of college? Arrrg! Questioning my reality is so annoying! I should have paid more attention in my philosophy elective...
Rain closed everything out and stood, deciding that he had already spent more than enough time screwing around. His mana was still regenerating, having not quite reached full even after sleeping the whole night. To speed it up, he activated winter and then pulled up his skills menu to see the changes to purify from the rank up. The mana cost had doubled from 10mp/min to 20mp/min and the range had increased to two-meters. There was no indication that it had gotten any stronger. He suspected that it would have based upon how much faster Ameliah's aura was than his, but he didn't have a convenient mess to test it on.
Mana regen is still too damn slow. I have a skill point, but there aren't any auras I want to unlock right now; I have enough mana issues as it is. I wonder if there is anything in any of the other mage trees? Bah, almost made it out of the bunk room without getting lost down another rabbit hole.
Sitting back down on the bed, Rain started tabbing through the myriad options in his skills menu. He was just hunting for likely skill names and not bothering to read the descriptions. He almost flicked right past it, going two screens further before realizing what he had seen and flipping back.
The name of the tree was one he had seen before: ‘magical utility’. The rank zero skill ‘intrinsic clarity’ jumped out at him as exactly what he was looking for. It increased mana regeneration by a flat 20% at no cost. Rain immediately selected it and spent his skill point. Damn it! I saw this before but forgot about it. This is better than winter! Well, actually I suppose winter isn't really about the caster's mana regeneration, being an AOE aura and all... Still, this is exactly what I was looking for.
Rain pulled up his status and skills to check how much of a difference the skill had made.
Richmond Rain Stroudwater
Refrigerate (2/10) Exp: 83/200
15-17 cold (fcs) damage per second to entities and environment
Sufficient damage causes slow
Range: 2 meters
Cost: 10 mp/s
Extend Aura (1/10) Exp: 45/100
Extend aura range by 1 meter
Multiply aura mana cost by 120%
Purify (2/10) Exp: 34/200
Purify poison, corruption, and contamination
Range: 2 meters
Cost: 20 mp/min
Winter (1/10) Exp: 11/100
Multiply M.Regen by 110% for all entities
Range: 1 meter
Cost: 1 mp/hr
Intrinsic Clarity (1/10) Exp: 0/100
Multiply base mana regeneration by 120%
Free Skill Points: 0
Satisfied at the improvement in his skills and finally ready to get on his way, Rain strapped on his boots, grabbed his things, and headed out to the quest hall to see if there was anything appropriate for his level today.
When he reached the board, he saw that there was actually something posted on the very bottom row. It had a 10 Tel reward, which had him excited, but he couldn't determine much else from the posting. The icon was a pair of clasped hands.
Bringing it over to Gus, he handed it to him and waited hopefully. Gus looked at the paper, then at Rain, seeming to consider. Eventually, he shrugged and motioned for Rain to follow. He led Rain to a room with a table like the one he had been brought to on his first day. Gus told him to wait there and left.
After about 5 minutes of waiting, Rain started getting bored and pulled out his language notes. Another fifteen minutes or so passed and Rain was starting to wonder if Gus had forgotten about him when he saw his head poke in the room. Seeing that Rain was still there, he came in, three people following him. Two women and a man took seats at the table, Rain hurriedly tucking away his notes and the ration bar he had been using to strengthen his jaw.
Gus’s head was turned towards the others and he was saying something to them. Rain caught his name and the word ‘slime’ in there, so he guessed Gus was telling them a bit about his exploits. The lead woman looked a bit unimpressed, but her two younger colleagues were just looking at him respectfully. All three were wearing thick clothing and high boots and the young man in the back was carrying three shovels. They clearly weren't adventurers, just normal workers it seemed.
Eventually, Gus turned to Rain and attempted to explain what the quest entailed. After another five minutes of discussion, Rain finally reached the understanding that it was a sort of escort quest. These three needed to do something down in the sewer and Rain was to protect them. Nodding, he said, “Yes, I protect. Kill slime.”
Well, at least it is something I know I can kill. I just wish I could do something… else. I might as well just start sleeping in the sewers like some sort of troll if this keeps up.
Gus nodded, handing him the quest slip and stood to leave the room.
“Wait,” said the senior worker. Rain looked at her questioningly. “How <something> kill slimes?” she asked, Rain guessing at her meaning. That is a reasonable question I guess. If I was hiring someone to protect me, I’d want to know that they were up to the task.
Rain stood, eyeing the room. Seeing that there was enough space, he stood and motioned for the others to stay seated. He walked over to the side of the room furthest away from them, turned, and activated refrigeration without extending the range. The sudden blast of cold caused a wave of cold air to wash over Gus and the workers, but the ring of frost condensing from the moisture in the air stopped short of them at the two-meter radius of the skill.
The two younger workers seemed startled at this. The senior worker and Gus took it more in stride, though Gus did look at him a bit curiously. Maybe he doesn't recognize the skill? Auras probably aren't that popular. The mana cost on refrigerate is crushing. Deactivating the aura, Rain walked back over to the group. The woman nodded to Gus, who turned to Rain and handed him the quest slip before leaving the room.
Turning to the senior worker, Rain pointed at himself. “Rain.”
“Vanna,” the senior worker replied. Then, pointing at the two younger workers she identified the woman as Yott and the young man with the shovels as Tarny. She then motioned at him to follow and led the way from the room and out of the guild. She took them to the sewer entrance and started descending without waiting to see if the others were following. When she reached the bottom, she instructed Yott to light a torch. While Yott extracted a torch from her pack and lit it, Rain looked around. He was pleased to see that the area still looked pretty clean from his last purification. The stone was wet, but no longer stained.
In short order they set off upstream, Rain leading and watching for slimes as the others followed. Vanna directed him down a side passage he had seen yesterday but not investigated. There was a smaller channel cut in the center of this passage feeding into the main waterway, but it was dry. The day before he had just jumped over it to continue down the main tunnel as this one didn’t have any torches in it. He thought he remembered that there had been a trickle of water flowing in the channel the day before, but now the stone wasn't even damp.
They traveled up the sloping passage for a little while before Rain heard the telltale sound of slimes approaching. Holding up a hand, he motioned for the others to stay back. He moved forward, seeing the forms of two slimes as they entered the torchlight. Looking back he confirmed that nobody had followed him. Satisfied that he wouldn’t inadvertently hurt his allies with his aura, he moved in to engage the slimes.
He activated refrigeration and waded in, freezing and killing the slimes without any trouble and learning what a ‘dingaling’ was as the bright tone chimed to announce the death of the monsters. Vanna seemed to be reassured at this, and the others looked excited, chattering to each other and beaming.
First time seeing an adventurer in action?
Rain switched to purify and started cleaning away the decaying slimes to look for Tel. He thought the white aura was a little bit stronger at rank two, shining brighter and removing the slime a bit faster. As pleased as he was with this, it was nothing compared to the reaction of the workers. The discovery that he could evaporate slime and leave the stone spotless had made them unreasonably excited, even the more experienced Vanna giving him an awed look.
Rain's mood was further boosted when he saw that both of the slimes had left a Tel behind as the goo evaporated. He collected them, adding them to his vial and then deactivating his aura. Checking his mana bar, he saw that he was at around half full, and thus good to continue. He motioned to the workers to follow and continued up the tunnel.
Eventually, the passageway ended and Rain saw why the shovels would be needed. There was a large backup of gunk blocking the channel as it passed under a wall. There was another pile over to the side of the tunnel, suggesting that it had been dug out before and since become blocked again. Yott stuck her torch into a sconce and Tarny passed out the shovels. They made to start working, but Rain held up a hand to stop them.
I want to try something...
Walking to the blockage, he activated purify at full range to catch all of it. He watched in satisfaction as the gunk started to evaporate and disappear into the air. The pace was slow though, and the blockage was pretty big. I'll run out of mana before I even make a dent in that. Damn. Oh well. I'll help them clean up after they clear it. He motioned to the others, canceling his aura.
“Sorry, mana,” he said, getting out of their way so they could work. He walked over to where the torch was mounted in the wall and purified himself a place to sit down and rest. The workers looked a little disappointed but set about clearing the blockage without complaint. By the time they had cleared most of it, Rain's mana was significantly recovered.
Yott broke through the block with a thrust of her shovel, and Rain looked up as she yelped at the tide of slimy water that gushed through the gap. Vanna reacted quickly, jumping clear of the channel. The others weren't fast enough, getting drenched as the pressure behind the barrier punched through and the slurry of sludge and water started washing them down the channel.
Quickly, Rain jumped to his feet and grabbed for Yott's arm, catching her hand and hauling on it as hard as he could to help her out of the channel. Thankfully, it wasn't more than waist deep and he was able to get her up over the edge, though not before she was covered from head to toe.
Tarny wasn't as lucky, getting washed down the tunnel by the tide of filth. Vanna sprinted after him, catching up as he managed to wedge himself in the channel. Before he lost his grip, she hauled him out and laid him panting on the side of the channel. The three of them watched as the torrent of dirty water continued unabated.
Rain wasted no time activating purification. He had personally experienced being covered head to toe in sludge and wouldn't wish the experience on his worst enemy. The watery slurry seemed to be less resistant to the purification than the solid blockage had been, and within a few minutes, only the memory of the filth remained.
The workers thanked him profusely, Tarny even going so far as to give Rain an awkwardly enthusiastic hug. Once everyone had calmed down, they started walking back down the tunnel and by the time they reached the main waterway the flow had decreased to a slow, steady stream. There were no further incidents and Rain's mana was back to full again by the time the party returned to the guild. The three workers followed Rain to the counter. Gus wasn't there, but Vanna took care of relating the tale, the guild attendant marking down some notes in the ledger before handing Rain his ten Tel.
The workers thanked Rain again and left, leaving him with a free afternoon. He walked over to the board. There were no more quests suitable for his level, so he found himself at a loss for what to do.
I guess I'll train. Good on money for the moment, though I could use a drink and a meal. Oh, I should buy a waterskin or something. Sewer water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.
Rain wandered over to the tavern, splurging a bit and buying half a roast chicken and a flagon of beer to wash it down. This cost him a whole Tel, seeming to be the going rate for a meal at the establishment. It wasn't like he could read the menu, so he was somewhat at the mercy of the staff as to what he got.
The chicken was delicious and he could see himself spending all of his money here if he wasn't careful. He also purchased another four ration bars and tucked them away in his pack, promising himself that he would use them up before paying for another proper meal. All said and done, he was feeling quite rich with 10 Tel and four copper in his pocket.
Training time. Humm, can't exactly train refrigerate in here, so purify it is.
He activated the aura, extending it and leaving it on as he walked over to the bar to return his plate. This caused a little bit of a stir in the room, but the commotion died down as it became clear that he wasn't about to set the building on fire.
Man, I don't even want to think about the immolate aura. If it is anything like refrigerate, I could accidentally burn down the whole city. Maybe that is why people outside the guild reacted so strongly when I used this?
Rain's mana ticked down steadily. He kept an eye on it as he left the room, scrubbing his way down the hallway as he headed for the bathroom. He was halfway there when he stopped suddenly.
I... don't have to go anymore. I had to go before I left the tavern, and now I... don't. Don't tell me purify works on.…
Rain stood in the hallway, stunned as his mind struggled to process his latest revelation.
Best. Spell. Ever.