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Rain groaned as he dragged himself out of the hut. He was feeling sore after yesterday’s training, having refused healing as they only had two scrolls. He’d convinced Val to hold off on using one as well. As a compromise, Rain had allowed the man to give him instruction in the use of a branch as a makeshift quarterstaff. Working through the basic forms Val had shown him had been strenuous, but much better than the ‘chasm duel’ he had proposed. That apparently meant balancing on a log over a pit and trying to knock your opponent into it with a stick.

 

Rain was considering keeping the branch he had been training with the day before. It wasn’t a proper staff by any means, but it would allow him to keep enemies at bay if they were capable of making it to him through his aura. He’d discarded his spear before, as he had tired of carrying it around, but now he was admonishing himself as foolish after getting a bit more experience. It would be good to have a backup for his auras.

 

Val seemed to be familiar enough with the staff to make a decent trainer, so Rain was willing to listen to his instructions, even though he knew it meant a chasm duel was in his near future. The man was a bit of a puzzle to Rain. His main attack skill seemed to be focused on range, but he also had a defensive shield and skill with the staff.

 

I wonder what this class he’s going for is? Maybe something light focused? I found a few of the skills he uses when I was looking at all the tier 0 skills. I had plenty of time while I was just lying around using aura focus. Solar ray and lunar orb are in different trees, as is hard light. I couldn’t even find a light magic tree. Maybe it’s hidden? Can you have a hidden skill tree?

 

Rain shook himself out of his musing and stretched, turning to his own training results.

 

Ok, moment of truth.

 

Training Overview

 

General Experience Earned

Health Use: 29

Stamina Use: 74

Mana Use: 11601

[Level Up] [Level Up]

 

Skill Experience Earned

Refrigerate: 490 [Rank Up]

Extend Aura: 1452

Purify: 2388 [Rank Up]

Winter: 540 [Rank Up]

Amplify Aura: 1988 [Rank Up]

Detection: 3155 [Rank Up]

Aura Focus: 621

Channel Mastery: 394

Immolate: 211

Magical Synergy: 11090 [Rank Up] [Rank Up] [Rank Up] [Rank Up] [Rank Up]

 

 

Yeah! Double level! That’s what I’m talking about! I could have done even better if Val hadn’t been distracting me all afternoon. All I had time for was spamming detection while I practiced my footwork.

 

Pulling up his attributes and statistics panels, he dumped his 20 free points into clarity as per usual and surveyed his progress.

 

 

Attributes

Richmond Rain Stroudwater

Level 14

Experience: 241/12151

Dynamo

 

Health

400

Stamina

200

Mana

2760

 

Strength

20 [10]

Recovery

10

Endurance

10

Vigor

10

Focus

10

Clarity

160

 

Free Points

0

 

 

 

 

Statistics

 

 

Total

Base

Modifier

Health

400

400

0

0%

H.Regen

100

/day

100

/day

0

0%

Stamina

200

200

0

0%

S.Regen

100

/day

100

/day

0

0%

Mana

2760

2760

0

0%

M.Regen

21.7

/min

10

/min

-0.79/min

124%

 

Movement Speed

10

Vision

10

 

Resistances

Heat

Cold

Light

Dark

1

0%

1

0%

1

0%

1

0%

Force

Arcane

Mental

Chemical

1

0%

1

0%

1

0%

1

0%

 

 

Magical synergy is the best! Look at all that mana! I could totally rock Val now, and I didn’t even train my offensive auras that much. I should do that, then challenge his ass. Ha, I bet he’d be surprised! Shit, I think he infected me.

 

Rain grinned and walked over to his pack to dig out his notebook. He consulted the table of skill priorities he had listed out the day before and immediately started second-guessing it.

 

Humm, according to this I should go for spring and summer. They level so slow though, and I can only use one of them at a time… Plus, we have healing scrolls now, so getting life well is less important. Damn it, why can’t anything be easy? I didn’t see any killer hidden skills when I was looking through skill trees… Should I wait? I’ve got plenty to train, after all.

 

“Aaaargh!” Rain ran his hands through his hair.

 

Ok, I know I want IFF, there’s no question about that. I need aura focus at rank 10, so I can’t take it yet. I am also sure I want aura synergy eventually; I didn’t put it on this list because I wanted to get more auras first. Maybe I should just go for it and start leveling it anyway? Also, essence well is back on the table now that I’m gonna be adventuring with Val and Jamus. Their regen sucks.

 

Rain spent the next few minutes muttering to himself and scribbling in his notebook before finally deciding on aura synergy and essence well, neither of which had been on his original list. If he was going to be in combat, he and his allies would need all the mana and aura power they could get. He dropped the points in and confirmed the selection before he could change his mind again. Shaking his head, he pulled up the full list to see the effect of aura synergy on his other skills.

Skills

 

Aura Metamagic

 

Tier 0

 

Amplify Aura (9/10) Exp: 1060/3700

Multiply aura intensity by 190%

Multiply aura mana cost by 280%

 

Extend Aura (8/10) Exp: 2490/2900

Extend aura range by 8 meters

Multiply aura mana cost by 260%

 

Tier 1

 

Aura Focus (4/10) Exp: 900/1400

Focus on an aura to boost its output

Multiply aura intensity by 180%

Multiply aura range by 180%

Multiply aura mana cost by 180%

User loses all external senses while focusing

 

Aura Synergy (1/10) Exp: 0/200

Increase all aura output by 0.1% for each rank in any aura

Effective boost: 3.7%

 

Magical Utility

 

Tier 0

 

Intrinsic Clarity (10/10)

Multiply base mana regeneration by 300%

 

Intrinsic Focus (10/10)

Multiply base mana by 300%

 

Tier 1

 

Channel Mastery (3/10) Exp: 637/800

Allows intuitive control of channeled skill intensity

Minimum skill intensity: 70%

Maximum skill intensity: 130%

Skill mana cost modified by intensity adjustment

 

Tier 2

 

Magical Synergy (6/10) Exp: 1090/6400

Enables limited synergistic cross-coupling of magical attributes

15.0% of Focus contributes to M.Regen

15.0% of Clarity contributes to Mana

 

Offensive Auras

 

Tier 0

 

Refrigerate (6/10) Exp: 76/1600

46-52 cold (fcs) damage per second to entities and environment

Sufficient damage causes slow

Range: 6.22 meters

Cost: 30 mp/s

 

Immolate (5/10) Exp: 316/1100

38-44 heat (fcs) damage per second to entities and environment

Sufficient damage causes ignition

Range: 5.18 meters

Cost: 25 mp/s

 

Utility Auras

 

Tier 0

 

Purify (10/10)

Purify poison, corruption, and contamination

Range: 10.4 meters

Cost: 100 mp/min

 

Winter (5/10) Exp: 262/1100

Multiply M.Regen by 152% for all entities

Range: 5.18 meters

Cost: 5 mp/hr

 

Tier 1

 

Detection (7/10) Exp: 1701/4400

Sense selected items of interest

Not occluded by mundane materials

Resolution: 0.38 meters

Range: 7.26 meters

Cost: 7 mp/s

 

Velocity (3/10) Exp: 409/800

31.11% boost to speed for all entities

Range: 3.11 meters

Cost: 3 mp/s

 

Essence Well (1/10) Exp: 0/200

Transfer mana to all entities within range, including user

Transfer Rate: 1.037 mp/s

Efficiency: 20%

Range: 1.04 meters

 

Free Skill Points: 0

 

Humm. Not much of a boost yet from aura synergy. Looks like it works on both range and power, though, and it’s basically free. Not bad. It should get better over time too. Right, essence well, how do you work?

 

Focusing on the name of the skill, Rain activated it with no modifiers. He didn’t feel any significant effect, so he pulled up his statistics page to check the influence of the skill on his mana regeneration. He switched the display over to mp per second and saw that it was listed as negative 4 mp/s.

 

Humm. That makes sense, I think. The transfer rate is 1 mp/s, ish, with a 20% efficiency. That means the cost is 5 mp/s, and I get 1 mp/s back because it includes the user, that’s me, in the transfer. Weird, but ok. Let’s see what amplifying it does.

 

Rain focused on the skills menu until essence well popped out into a separate panel. He dismissed the other skills and moved essence well’s window where he could keep an eye on it without it blocking his vision. He smiled to himself. Nice. I think I’m really starting to get the hang of this system interface now.

 

He activated essence well again, this time with amplify, and watched as the numbers on the dialog changed. The feeling of mana flowing through his body intensified, the drain increasing massively to around 14 mp/s. This time, he caught a flicker of light coming from his feet and looked down. There was a smooth sapphire-colored hoop of light surrounding his legs. The ring rose slowly, fading to invisibility as it reached his waist. Another ring appeared at his feet and started moving upwards, fading gradually in the same way. Each ring took about ten seconds to make the journey from his feet to his waist. Rain canceled the skill. While his mana pool had increased, standing there goggling at the pretty light was draining it quickly.

 

Amplify boosts the transfer rate like I expected, and the efficiency takes a hit. With just amplify, it’s around 2 mp/s going out at 14% efficiency. The statistics panel lists the drain as 12 mp/s, so that means it is costing me 14 mp/s, more or less. Table time? Yeah, table time.

 

Rain flipped through his notebook. He made a mental note to ask Jamus or Val to buy him a new one, as he was starting to run out of pages. Before getting started, he joined Tallheart and Val where they were sitting over by the fire. Val was cooking something in the pot over the flames and Tallheart was scratching at a piece of metal with a strange tool.

 

“Hey guys. What’s cooking?” he asked, flipping his notebook closed as he joined them.

 

“Lago stew. One practically ran over me while I was sleeping. Tallheart ate all the potatoes, so this is his punishment.”

 

“Mmm,” Tallheart said, not looking up from his work.

 

“Sounds good to me. What are you up to, Tallheart?” The antlered man grunted, ignoring him. Rain looked closer at what he was working on. There was a flat plate of metal sitting on the ground in front of him, about the size and shape of a textbook. The metal could only have come from the meteor, but it was unrecognizable. The surface had been hammered flat and polished. Rain had no idea how Tallheart had pulled that off without any tools. He chalked it up to magic and peered at the engraving that Tallheart was so focused on.

 

“What is that, some kind of magic rune?” he asked.

 

“Weight,” Tallheart replied without looking up.

 

“Huh?”

 

“It’s probably a weight enhancement,” Val supplied, “it’s pretty common for weapons, but that doesn’t look like a weapon to me.”

 

“It is not. This will be my anvil. I do not have enough metal, so I will boost the weight until it does not move when I strike,” Tallheart explained.

 

“Ah, I get it. That makes sense. Where did you get that little carving tool from? Do you think you could use it to do something with my helmet?”

 

Tallheart sighed softly and looked up from the carving. “Yes, I could, but nothing complicated.” He held out the tool for Rain to see before returning to his carving. It looked like he had shaped the metal bit from the harness and socketed a single Tel into the end. It looked like the tiny Tel was hard enough to scratch the metal. As Tallheart returned to work, Rain noticed that there was a soft trail of light being left in the metal as he moved the scribe, quickly fading to invisibility.

 

Magic is so cool. I’ll ask him about my helmet again later when he isn’t busy.

 

“Thanks. Anyway, I’m gonna be practicing a skill and taking some notes. Will it bother you if I do it here?”

 

“What does it do?” Tallheart asked.

 

“It’s an aura. I just got it. It should let me transfer mana to you guys, but I haven’t finished figuring out how it works.”

 

“That will be fine.”

 

“Wait,” Val said, “I thought you just got that fire aura. You didn’t level up again already, did you?”

 

“Twice, actually.”

 

“Wait, what?”

 

Rain grinned. “Yup. Twice. I got two new skills to play with.”

 

“But… When… What... How!?” Val spluttered. “We didn’t get attacked by a horde while I was sleeping, did we?”

 

“Just mana use. I’m a dynamo,” Rain replied, figuring that he knew Val well enough now to trust him with the information.

 

“A what now?” Val replied.

 

“Monolithic clarity,” Tallheart said, still working on his engraving.

 

“Oh, right. I knew that. This… This explains so many things,” Val said, nodding to himself. “I knew there was something off with you. You have way too many skills and way too little fighting experience. How long ago did you awaken?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Your first essence monster. How long ago?”

 

“Oh. Um… maybe a few weeks? A month?”

 

“Wow, that’s… that’s pretty unfair.”

 

“Really? How long ago was your awakening if you don’t mind me asking.”

 

“Three years. I’ve been capped for a good part of that. Essence monsters aren’t easy to find. Lucky bastard.”

 

“I don’t know about that. The thing almost killed me. It was hunting me in the forest. Jamus said it had something to do with the teleportation.”

 

“Teleportation?” Val cocked his head, confused.

 

“Didn’t I tell you about that? I thought I did… Well, whatever. Yeah, teleportation. I’m not from around here. One day, I just woke up in the forest. Jamus and Tallheart think I was teleported and that it attracted the essence monster to me for some reason.”

 

“Oh, right. I think you did tell me that. I’ve heard that teleportation attracts monsters, so that all checks out. You’re still a lucky bastard though. Any idea who teleported you? That’s a rare ability, especially without a platform.”

 

“Not a clue.”

 

“Darn. Would be nice to know someone who can attract essence monsters.”

 

“Yeah, I suppose it would be.”

 

Rain lapsed into silence, lost thinking about the circumstances of his arrival. He still hadn’t found even the slightest hint of a reason for it. He wasn’t even sure that this all wasn’t some elaborate dream and he was just lying comatose in a hospital somewhere.

 

If I’m dreaming, why do I have to eat rocks for breakfast unless someone catches a giant freaky rabbit thing and turns it into soup? I don’t think my subconscious would be that cruel.

 

Despite his present living accommodations, he found that he didn’t really miss his old life. Somehow, he got better sleep on a pile of leaves in a crappy hut in the forest than he ever had on his off-brand memory foam mattress. Tallheart and Jamus were the best friends he’d had since he dropped out of college. Even Val was growing on him, despite being the fighting maniac that he was. Rain smiled as Val played with an orb of light while he waited for the soup to finish cooking.

 

Magic is so damn cool. Anyway, time to make a table.

 

“Ok, I’m going to use that skill now. Can you please tell me how much mana it gives you?”

 

“Right, just say when,” Val said, gesturing in a strange pattern and staring at something Rain couldn’t see.

 

“Tallheart, you too.”

 

“I am ready,” Tallheart said without looking up.

 

“Right, here we go,” Rain said, activating essence well with extend aura so he could reach the others without literally hugging them. He monitored his own mana regeneration as well, seeing that the drain was listed as around 7 mp/s to maintain the skill.

 

“Hey, not bad. Around 20 a minute,” Val said.

 

“I see the same,” Tallheart added.

 

The visual effect seemed to be identical for the other two as it was for him. The rings appeared surrounding them where they sat and rose upwards before fading away. They were fainter and rising more slowly for all three of them, however. Some quick math and the visual confirmation were all that Rain needed to figure out how the skill worked.

 

“Ah, I see. So it divides the mana between everyone in range equally. I was hoping it would do the full transfer for everyone, but I guess that was too much to hope for. Still, I’ll take it.”

 

“How long can you do this for?” Val asked, passing his hand through the ring curiously.

 

“Umm, let’s see.” Rain juggled the numbers in his head, then sighed and pulled out his notebook. He jotted down his total mana and the current usage of the skill, then laboriously worked through the division. All the while, he kept the aura active. “Around… 6 minutes? Maybe?”

 

“Wow, you’re going to be really popular once they let you back into the guild.”

 

“Mmm,” Tallheart rumbled.

 

“I don’t know about that. With a room full of people, it would get divided to practically nothing. Winter would be better.”

 

“That’s the mana regeneration season, right? Winter, summer, spring, and fall, the seasons bring life,” Val said, saying the last bit with an odd cadence. It even rhymed in common, so Rain assumed it was some sort of saying.

 

“I only have winter. You know about the seasonal auras? I haven’t found anyone else who used them before. Winter is so good for mages, I would think everyone would take it.”

 

“In the empire, they have a special kind of slave called a beacon. They awaken them, then force them to take all four seasons and march with the army. It is one of the reasons the empire is as large as it is. I can’t speak for elsewhere, but in the empire, the regulars don’t take the seasons because the beacons are always there.”

 

Rain blinked.

 

“Wait, hold up. All four? What does Fall do? It must be hidden...”

 

“It provides <something>.”

 

“Sorry, <something>? I don’t know that one.”

 

Val shook his head and sighed. He then pointed in the direction of the fire.

 

“What, fire? Heat?”

 

“No,” Val rolled his eyes. “Look where I’m pointing. The soup. Food, water, that kind of thing. Sustenance.”

 

“Oh,” Rain said, looking at a ration bar that had tumbled out of his pack. “That would be amazing! I’d never have to eat a damn ration bar again! Do you know how to unlock it?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“Damn it!”

 

Val shrugged. Belatedly, Rain realized that he was still channeling essence well, so he deactivated it. He still needed to test all the combinations to fill out the table, and he’d need mana for that.

 

“Maybe I need to get the other two first, in addition to winter?”

 

“Humm. You might have something there. The beacons can’t use more than one season at once, but the army makes them take all four anyway. They have to switch, based on what the army needs, so I know they can’t use them all at the same time.”

 

“Why stop there? If they had them take dynamo… And then extend aura and maybe amplify… It doesn’t make any sense… It would be so much better!”

 

“The empire has control of plenty of low-level lairs. They farm them for essence monsters. Anything level five or higher goes to the army regulars. They wouldn’t waste a level five essence monster on a slave.”

 

“They farm essence monsters? Can’t they just have a party of, like, a hundred people all poke one with a stick or something? How much contribution do you need to get credit?”

 

“Parties don’t work like that.”

 

“Ok, how do they work then? I don’t-”

 

Rain was cut off by a loud grumbling from Tallheart. “Enough,” he said, annoyance clear in his tone.

 

“Ah, sorry Tallheart. I’ll be quiet. I’m just going to use my skill now, ok?”

 

Val rolled his eyes and laughed quietly, returning to tending the soup.

 

I guess he needs his morning coffee. Oh right, priority list, add ‘find out if coffee is a thing’.

 

Rain pulled out his notebook and jotted down a reminder to ask about coffee before turning to a blank page. He sketched out a table and proceeded to go through his modifiers the same way he had when he was testing detection.

 

Amp.

Ext.

Fcs.

Chnl.

Transfer Rate
(mp/s)

Range
(m)

Cost
(mp/s)

Efficiency

     

-

0.73

1.04

3.07

23.67%

       

1.04

1.04

5.18

20.00%

     

+

1.35

1.04

7.51

17.95%

   

+

-

1.31

1.87

7.19

18.18%

   

+

 

1.87

1.87

11.72

15.93%

   

+

+

2.43

1.87

16.61

14.61%

 

+

 

-

0.73

9.33

4.57

15.87%

 

+

   

1.04

9.33

7.34

14.13%

 

+

 

+

1.35

9.33

10.31

13.08%

 

+

+

-

1.31

16.8

9.9

13.20%

 

+

+

 

1.87

16.8

15.59

11.97%

 

+

+

+

2.43

16.8

21.65

11.21%

+

   

-

1.38

1.04

8.91

15.48%

+

     

1.97

1.04

14.26

13.82%

+

   

+

2.56

1.04

19.99

12.81%

+

 

+

-

2.48

1.87

19.21

12.92%

+

 

+

 

3.55

1.87

30.19

11.75%

+

 

+

+

4.61

1.87

41.87

11.01%

+

+

 

-

1.38

9.33

11.77

11.71%

+

+

   

1.97

9.33

18.34

10.74%

+

+

 

+

2.56

9.33

25.31

10.12%

+

+

+

-

2.48

16.8

24.36

10.19%

+

+

+

 

3.55

16.8

37.55

9.45%

+

+

+

+

4.61

16.8

51.44

8.96%

 

 

 

Whew. That was a lot of mana. Thank you, magical synergy. Humm, the efficiency column doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Maybe I should try logarithms? How the hell do I do a logarithm without a computer? I could have sworn I used to know how to do that... Come on overmana, can’t you help me remember high school math? Maybe it was too long ago?

 

Oh.

 

That really could be it. Jamus said healing via overhealth is less effective the older the wound is, so maybe overmana works the same way?

 

Rain was interrupted from his musing as Val handed him a bowl of stew. He thanked him and set down his notebook, making a mental note to add his question about overmana to the ‘ask Jamus’ list after he had eaten. He blew on a spoonful and shoved it in his mouth. Immediately, he choked and had to fight not to spray it into the fire. He swallowed with an effort and turned to Val, grimacing.

 

“What in the name of all that is good in the world did you do to this soup?”

 

“What?”

 

“It’s… Yeah, there is something wrong here. Tastes like burned dirt. What did you put in there?”

 

“Oh, come on, it’s not that bad,” Val said, taking a spoonful from his own bowl. He spat the mouthful out into the fire with a loud spluttering sound. “Ok, maybe you have a point.”

 

“Remind me to never let you cook again,” Rain said, setting aside his bowl and reaching for a ration bar.

 

 

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