Relunctant and cautious, I pried myself from the wall and ventured out into the open. John nodded to me.
"You good, Vak?"
"I'm fine. Just shaken up." I said, rubbing my arm. "There're arrows everywhere." The cave floor was littered with them.
Timothy walked with a groaning Hale, not as upright and tall as he always was. "You two, any injuries?" Hale asked, not looking well.
"Fuck, Hale." John walked over. He glanced at his back and Hale grunted. "Good, don't take the arrow out if you can help it."
I stared. "Are you okay?"
Garth and Kevin looked worried as they descended. Garth was panting slightly, sweating under his furs. Kevin looked tired, but not in any way physical. His posture was drooping, and I couldn't help but think it was a matter of mana.
"We've gotten close calls before. It was about time one of us got hit." Garth grunted.
Bending down to the cold stone, I picked up an arrow. Examining it in my hand, the shafts were straight and narrow, the design as straightforward as an arrow could be. I couldn't relate it to any other make, but the arrowhead was crude. A clear liquid dripped from the tip.
"Shit." I said, breaking the silence. I held up the arrow, liquid shining. "Poison." My voice might as well have been a bell.
Garth, Kevin, and Timothy blanched. John grimaced.
Hale was grim but we spoke at nearly the same time. "[System Shop]."
We locked eyes. It was the only way. There were so many things I could remember that might help under the [Items] section.
"Hale." John called, as we moved deeper. He was untying his [Armguards of Health], perpetually glowing. "Put these on."
John helped wrap his arms up. Hale didn't object. "What is-" He cut himself off as John tied them off. "An [Item]?" He said surprised, standing straighter. "It's making me feel a little better."
"You bought an [Item]?" Kevin raised an eyebrow at John. "Not many in the Northbounders have. I doubted anyone opted for it."
"You two are a couple of strange ones." Garth shook his head. "Thank you, though. We couldn't lose Hale."
"It was a gift from a friend." He replied. "They'll help stave off the poison, or should." He finished.
"I won't go that easy, Garth." Hale shot. "I'm not so frail."
Timothy broke the banter. "Let's find that [System Shop]." He said, picking up his torch. Light filled the cave. "It might be our only way for an antidote."
We trekked through the damp cave. The floor was slick with moisture and frost, making the slight descent all the more treacherous. Hale, being only injured in the back, should've been able to walk on his own. In minutes, that wasn't the case.
The taller man tripped, his leg slipping under from him. Timothy grabbed quickly and prevented the worst. The torch caught his face and we found it white. His breath was rapid and his brow sweaty. He looked like a ghost, like he could've been at home in the snow outside. Sick.
Garth and Kevin shared a look.
John frowned, knowing like me that the armguards were nothing like a cure-all.
I paused at what I saw, in awe. My mind froze
The [System Shop] wasn't anything like I was expecting, but Kevin wasted no time, walking straight up to it and holding his hand against it. His eyes closed but the surprise on his face was evident despite it. Multicolored lights swirled around him and came to a focal point in his hand. I tried my best to ignore the [System Shop] as Kevin moved to Hale.
He turned. "Hale, here." The small vial in his hand had only a small stopper to contain the liquid. This was immediately removed. "[Purewater Toxin Reducer]. Should do exactly what it says."
Hale grunted, barely able to sit up. "Kevin, thank you." He took the vial and downed it. The color almost immediately returned to his face. He let out a sigh and peeked an eye open to find us all looking at him. "What are you waiting for? Go shop." He chuckled.
I let out an internal sigh and turned to the [System Shop]. It was magnificent. A shining blue crystal, like a giant floating rhombus, hovered above the ground in a way that was unmistakably mystical. Its glow lit up the entire cavern so subtly I didn't blame myself for not noticing. The torch that Timothy held had overpowered its soothing light. But that light shimmered, sparkled from within, like the sun shining down from shallow water. Rays of soft blue light bounced off the walls of the cave, filling the air with a light you might mistake for the gentle rush of blue waves.
It was as if we were underwater.
I waded through the light, unlike anything I've ever experienced, and did what came naturally; I placed my hand upon the crystal.
[Rare Lightwater System Shop]
In my mind's eye, I saw the interface. It was akin to how I interpreted the [System Messages] but more crisp and direct. On my sides, John, Garth, and Timothy.
No one could've blamed me for being as excited as I was.
"[Rare Lightwater System Shop]?" I said first. "Do these things have tiers?"
"It's like that [Skillbook]." John nudged me. "But that [Lightwater]. Think it means all this?" He said to everyone, his attention obvious. He wondered at the light.
Was it themed? In any case, like the [Ice Mastery] [Skillbook] we might've chanced upon something momentous here. If this one was [Rare] what did that make the initial [System Shop]. It was immediately clear they weren't a single linked thing, instead it looked they were all different.
"Safe bet." Garth said softly. "Have you looked at these?"
I wasted no time and delved.
The rare ability to manipulate the very brightness around you. From bending images, twisting them to your sides, to focusing rays as if by magnifying glass. Call upon beams of light, or conjuring simple vision-aiding fixtures of light.
Price: 8000 [Points]
The very element of water favors you. You find the water easier to move in, your senses become sharper when submerged. Water no longer steals your breath. Bodies of water cushion your falls, allow you to regenerate to a degree, and even may block threats to your person. Whether scalding hot or freezing cold, the element of water does you no harm.
Price: 13,000 [Points]
The [Powers] seemed incredibly interesting, but for me, they were barely tempting. I hesitated to even spend that amount of [Points] that they asked for, no matter how cool the [Power] was. 8000 and 13,000 [Points] were a fairly large sum considering my entire set of [Powers] should've equated to roughly 20,000. I didn't entirely fathom the strength of [Lightbending] but that [Water Favored] would've been a boon. Though whether or not it encompassed snow was anyone's guess.
Those were only the first two I stumbled upon. There were many more that filled my mind, all neatly under the theme of [Lightwater]. I figured that was the entire theme of the shop. Looking through the rest of the [Powers] I found fitting ones such as [Water Flames], [Wavebreaker], [Light Discs], [Water Shaping], [Healing Light] and more. All fit within the given theme.
I wondered at that [Rare] tag and judged most of the [Powers] to be fairly useful.
Scouring through the rest of the menus I found a few things to be true. Everything listed could've reasonably been related to the term [Lightwater], they were all, by my judgment fairly advantageous, and, accordingly, most were priced higher in terms of [Points]. The [Weapons], [Armors], and [Items] all fell within these rules. A sword made of living water, armors padded with water meant to boost kinetic resistance, to boats that fit within your pocket.
A blade made of nothing but water. The form of the blade retains an edge that can compete with the sharpest physical swords. Bringing the blade into the water allows instant repairs. Perhaps the highest advantage of this enchanted blade is that the water is living, able to curve and flow around clashing swords, or seeking exposed skin where a strike might allow it.
Price: 5000 [Points]
[Water Enforced Armor]
A scaled armor made of Water Hydra scales, ever regenerative. The largest encumbrance to the armor is the lack of protection against blunt weaponry, the layered scaling able easily to shrug off other physical attacks. For that reason, water, enchanted to keep its form, lines the inside seams of the armor generously, allowing the body to press comfortably against the scales and instantly absorb any sufficiently large kinetic impacts.
Price: 15,000 [Points]
[Ship in a Bottle]
A highly enchanted ship in a bottle. Inside, a proud ship large enough for a larger crew. A storm rages, battering the rustic wood and coating the ship in rain and moisture. Waves crash against its prow and it does not sink. The glass of the bottle is enchanted to nigh unbreakability, the ship itself can be willed to any body of water sufficient enough for its scaled-up size and recalled back into the bottle at will.
Price: 50,000 [Points]
I gaped at the sheer possibility that the [Ship in a Bottle] opened my mind to. There was nothing in the [Item] section that stood out as much as that in terms of sheer incredulity. My jaw nearly hit the floor and for a fanciful moment, I saw a proud pirate sailing the seas with that ship.
The [Attributes] menu allowed me to answer some questions of my own. While there were many of them, on my Slate, only [INT], [WIS], and [LUK] were represented. I guessed that had came from the fact that I had no points in the rest, or that they were simply irrelevant to me. Only those three affected my [Powers] after all. In the [Rare Lightwater System Shop] I didn't know what dictated what [Attributes] were listed but I could only assume that the ones that were were somehow related to light and water.
The ability to stay calm under duress. The [CLM] of an individual may reflect the will of the mind, determination or focus. To an extent, this [Attribute] also reflects mental clarity and self relfection and thus effects the corresponding governing [Attributes].
Price: 2000 [Points]
The ability to understand the underlying connections of events. The [WIS] of an individual reflects experience, judgment, and soundness of decision. To an extent, this [Attribute] also reflects insight and knowledge and thus effects the corresponding governing [Attributes].
Price: 2000 [Points]
I was almost certain I could pull up the description for [WIS] or wisdom through my Slate if I wanted to. But seeing it here made me think on the decisions I had been making up until now. My [WIS] was at 5. I wondered if it had anything to do with my judgment of risk and my decisions with my [Powers]. I certainly felt like my choices had been my own, but looking back... I found myself, perhaps, to be a little wiser than I had been.
I hummed to myself. The price was much more expensive than I recall, more than double that of the previous. I wondered at that.
I looked at [Classes] next.
[Monk of the Water]
A monk is one whose mind and body work as one, the [Monk of the Water] adds water to the mix. Equipped with a variety of defensive and offensive measures attuned to the element of water, this monk is not one to be messed with near anything remotely moist.
Growth: [WIS] + 5, [MND] + 5, [STR] + 5, [DEX] + 5
Perks: [Eternal Dive], [Breath of the Ocean]
Price: 15,500 [Points]
[Disciple of Wet]
A way of living that focuses on the rejuvenating and calming benefits of being fully soaked with the waters of life. The [Disciple of Wet] does not only enjoy the effects of water, but basks in them. In the dryest of heats, the disciple does not thirst as his enemies dehydrate around him. In the deepest of oceans, he is unharmed.
Growth: [MND] + 6, [INT] + 8, [CLM] + 10
Perks: [Blessing of the Sea Hydra], [Drops of Perpetuity], [Water Favored]
Price: 30,000 [Points]
A caster that has risen above all forms of his craft. The [High Lightmancer] enjoys the sun once above the storms. Light, clay in his hands, becomes both weapon and shield, both potential and hope. The power of the very thing that most creatures use to see falls under their power.
Growth: [INT] + 20, [WIS] + 10, [CLM] + 10
Perks: [Light of the Heavens], [Blade of Light], [Light Domain]
Price: 50,000 [Points]
I gaped at the price points. The sheer power that some of these [Classes] implied was astounding. That 50,000 [Point] price caught my breath. That was as much as the [Ship in a Bottle] an entire ship that could probably take up a whole harbor with its size. What did that say for the power inherent in the class?
I stood there, mind whirling for moments too long to count.
Eventually, I was able to look at the outlier.
The one section that caught my eye was [Waters]. It wasn't anything I had encountered before.
[Water of Healing]
A flash of crystal clear water tinged green. Any that imbibe this drink will immediately realize the effects of full healing, bringing the body back to healthiness.
Price: 3000 [Points]
[Voluminous Bottle of Scalding Water]
A small bottle of water enchanted with one-use spatial magic. When broken, the ever-burning water contained inside shall gush out of its pressurized volume, spraying any within its vicinity with scalding water heated past evaporation and hot enough to melt flesh.
Price: 1300 [Points]
[Purging Magical Pure Water]
Water imbibed by the body that cleanses the spirit. Any maladies or magics detrimental to the user shall be wiped as if washed by the cleanliest of water. Curses and semi-permanent magical effects are most often targeted.
Price: 3000 [Points]
[Purewater Toxin Reducer]
A small vial intended to be unstoppered and imbibed in a single gulp. The purewater churning within the vial attacks toxins and maladies of the body directly, reducing their effectiveness if not removing them entirely. Poisons, venoms, and impurities are most often targeted.
Price: 800 [Points]
The first thing I noticed was where Kevin spent 800 [Points]. The second was the immediate usefulness of that [Water of Healing]. It was clear that this section was special, perhaps exclusive to this particular shop. There were many more bottles of [Waters] listed, some with effects I couldn't fathom the purpose for. Others absurd.
This only confirmed a thought of mine.
The entirety of the [Rare Lightwater System Shop] was specialized, but one thing was immediately clear. The whole stock of the shop barely covered a fraction of what that first [System Shop] sold, where I had initally bought my [Powers]. It wasn't even close to that level of choice and grandeur.
I looked at the menu again.