A Fanged Snapper jumped out of the water and clamped its oversized jaws on my calf. My leather pants and toughened skin kept the huge fangs from sinking into my skin too much, but it still knocked off 8 HP and hurt like a bitch.
I gasped and slashed down, cutting its disproportionately large head off. The two pieces fell into the water and another orb appeared in its place, joining the dozens already floating on the surface.
[You have Leveled Up.]
I didn’t have time to celebrate or tend to my cut — or any of the dozen other injuries I now sported — because more Fanged Snappers jumped from the water at me.
I sidestepped another fish, Feather Step allowing me to tiptoe across the water like a fairy. But every time I touched the surface of the water, more fish were alerted. It didn’t matter where I ran, I couldn’t elude the monster fish. Was there ever going to be an end? I couldn’t keep going on. I was at 50/70 MP and 289/345 HP already and I hadn’t even found Nixies yet.
“What the hell was this System thinking? Walk out to the middle of the lake, it’ll be fun!” I yelled as I shish-kabobed another snapper, this time actually hitting the energy crystal. It exploded into little lights and an Items Orb dropped to float on the water. Without pausing, I flicked my kindjal right into the next fish that soared through the air. “Come on Jyn, think!” What could I use to help me?
I could activate Mist even though it would use up more MP. But my Stats did improve when I was in the mist, so I’d be able to dodge the snappers more easily. I leaned to the side and a high flying fish sailed past my head.
“To hell with it,” I muttered as I twisted and sliced two monsters in half. “Mist!”
My usual ten-foot cloud appeared, but then the mist hovering above the lake drew into it. My Ability and the lake’s magic merged until every inch within a twenty-foot radius of me filled with the moist particles. But I couldn’t revel in just how cool it was, my focus remained on running across the water as monsters continued jumping at me. A small glimmer inside me hoped that I could escape them within the mist, but that wasn’t the case. I mean, they were responding to me touching the water.
I killed another few fish. “Just stop already!”
Instantly I felt something change in the mist around me. I couldn’t describe the feeling, it was just a sudden awareness that it was different. In that moment of awareness, five fish stopped mid-jump, jaws gaping and glassy eyes focused on me. Frozen. Beneath the surface of the pale teal water, I could see the shapes of red Fanged Snappers still swimming. One shot toward the surface and jumped out of the water. Its flaring nares hit the mist like it was a solid barrier and then it plummeted back into the water.
“What?” I whispered and looked at a fish hanging mid-air at my hip. My brows pulled together as I reached out and poked the fish. Or I meant to, but my finger stopped an inch from its shiny red scales. The mist around its body was solid, like tinted glass. Inside the solid mist, the monster’s eyes moved around, but apparently it couldn’t move the rest of its body.
I was so shocked, my feet stalled. A leaping snapper latched onto my boot as it sank into the water. It jerked at me, trying to pull me deeper. I gasped and grabbed onto the closest thing — the Fanged Snapper at my hip. My fingers closed around the force that surrounded it and I pulled myself up, jerking my boot from the snapper’s mouth. It wasn’t until I was on top of the suspended fish that I realized I was literally squatting on it. Well, the solidified mist surrounding it.
“Okay, this is weird. And cool.” I wriggled my wet toes inside my boot and watched as the water droplets that fell from my sole turned into more mist. “So I can make Mist solid.” I had hoped that would be the case before the fish monsters attacked, but I didn’t think it would actually work.
I frowned at the Fanged Snappers suspended around me and lifted my kindjal. With a flick of my wrist, I slashed out at the closest one. The kindjal blade sliced through the mist barrier and severed the monster’s head. The body fell, leaving a glowing Drop Items orb in the air. This might be too much of a cheat, I thought, and killed the rest of the fish until the only one left was the one I stood on.
I looked at my captive perch then the open air around me. Could I only make mist solid around an object, or could it solidify anywhere? My lips pursed to the side. How do I do it? The first time had been mostly a fluke. Thinking of an ability activated it, what if imagining different ways to use an ability amplified its range of use? What if I thought of a box?
I pictured one to my left side. Again, I felt that something was different around me — a change in the pressure, a sense of awareness. This time, I knew that the mist beside me had altered, gathered even, but I couldn’t see it with my eyes.
Tentatively, I stretched out my leg and rested my foot where I imagined a box to be. My boot hit a solid force. I tapped at it a couple times then slowly shifted my weight onto it. Luckily, I didn’t plop into the lake. I let out a relieved breath and then felt around, trying to figure out how big it was. The area was about three feet by two, just like I’d hoped. Big enough to comfortably sit. I checked my MP. Apart from the initial casting, my MP didn’t change. Good. That meant that I could rest on this solid mist.
My lips curled up and I cut the last Fanged Snapper in half. Carefully, I reached down and touched the orbs still floating on the water, beautifully illuminating the golden mist from below. A couple fish snapped at my finger, but I was quicker than them. One by one, a Fanged Snapper scale appeared in my Items Bag. Very quickly I ran into a problem — my Items Bag was full but there were still orbs to collect. I frowned and pulled out the scales and stared at the small red discs. It was pretty how they shimmered in my hand as the sunlight reflected off them, giving them a deep pink sheen. I had no idea what they’d sell for, and if it were anything decent I didn’t want to just leave without them. In the end, I started slipping them into the pocket of my pants. The thin scales were cool on my skin, but they didn’t obstruct my movements at all because they weren’t bulky. Hopefully they wouldn’t be broken by the end of the day.
When I was done, I took a deep breath then jumped down to the water. I activated Feather Step and released the block over the surface at the same time. Instantly, ten Fanged Snappers jumped into the air.
“Let’s play,” I whispered and swung my kindjal.
On and on, I killed the monster fish. I didn’t even stop when I leveled up again. When my HP dropped into the red and I was too tired to lift my kindjal any more, I jumped up onto the mist and blocked the fish from reaching me. I laid down on my stomach and watched the water below as the fish wiggled in the teal water as I waited for my Regen to heal my HP and MP. I usually slept when this happened. It was cool to watch my numbers increase and feel the fatigue fade away.
After fifteen minutes or so, the Fanged Snappers finally gave up and disappeared into the depths of the lake. I continued to watch the smooth surface. What else was in it?
I’d never been to a lake before. In fact, there were very few humans who traveled beyond the city walls. Why would they? The wilderness someone might wish to explore was filled with “animals” that were actually monsters because most of the natural animals on Earth had died when the Gates first appeared. Besides, recreation activities were heavily guarded by special Hunters and usually pretty expensive. So it was safe to say that I — and most of the Garden City inhabitants — had never left the protection of the city walls.
For the most part, I was bored as I waited for my HP and MP to regenerate. I watched several boats appear in the distance, but they always turned back before the mist got too thick — before they got close to me. There was only one instant that freaked me out. I had been staring at the water when I noticed a shadow moving beneath me. It was huge, at least the length of two buses put together, and too far under the water for me to discern exactly what it was. Suddenly a navy blue boney fin as tall as me broke the surface of the water just feet from me — even though the mist should have blocked anything from emerging.
I froze and watched the fin slice through the surface and I prayed that the monster wouldn’t notice me. How could there even be something that big in this lake? And what level could something that large be? I wasn’t stupid enough to find out. I was getting stronger, yes, but there was still a long way from level fifteen to level one hundred. After a couple nerve-wracking minutes, the fin lowered back into the water and the shadow disappeared.
It was gone, but it left me with a lot to think about. My ‘making mist solid’ cheat wasn’t as all-powerful as I thought it was. There were limitations to it, clearly. The Fanged Snappers were about two feet long and a lower level than me. Was that why I could catch them? This monster so easily broke through my barrier. Unfortunately there wasn’t a clear answer in my Guide.
An hour later, I stood up and stretched my muscles. God, pretending to be a human statue was painful. I was stiff, but full of energy. I bit my lips and looked around. I could use Feather Step to keep going and find the Nixies, but I wanted to try something else out instead.
I walked to the edge of my solid platform … and kept going. I simply believed that I wouldn’t fall. I somehow just knew that I could walk on the mist. And I was right. The platform didn’t extend or anything, in fact it disappeared as soon as I left it because I didn’t need it anymore, but the mist solidified directly under my feet as I stepped down and disappeared as soon my foot was up.
I had a feeling that this was the kind of ‘walking’ that the System meant when it gave me the task. Of course I didn’t stay walking for long. There wasn’t enough time for that. It was nice to know that the mist supported me even after I started to run.
By the time I got to the middle of the lake I was breathing heavily. I took a couple minutes to calm my breathing down as I thought of my next problem. How would I get the Nixies to come to me?
Even if I knew how to fish, I doubted that would work. What should I do? I looked down at the water, but my attention was drawn to my own legs. I had healed, the cuts were gone, but the dried blood still crusted to my legs and torn pants. Really, I was going through way too many clothes lately. Unlike my arm bracers and leather breastplate, my pants didn’t magically repair every night. This pair had finally gotten to the point where I couldn’t stitch them back together anymore. But that wasn’t what I was actually concentrating on.
I needed to get the Nixies attention. I just hoped that I didn’t bite off more than I could chew. I reached down into the lake and cupped water in my hands. I paused for a second. “This is stupid.”
I splashed the water on my lower leg. The cold liquid hit my skin and ran down my leg, taking most of the dried blood with it. Some of the reddened water evaporated, but most fell back into the lake. The blood spread across the water like an oil spill before it faded.
I hoped that the right monster would get my calling card.
EXP to Next Lv 345
Strength 38 (+10)
Constitution 30 (+10)
Stat Points 0
Mist (10 ft)
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I am an author, mother, wife, and jack of all trades. I mean, every mom is, but I’ve found that through my research for different stories, I’ve picked up a lot of random (and sometimes actually useful) knowledge and skills.
I’ve had a vivid imagination since I was a child. And as much as I wish I could actually live in the worlds in my head, the closest I can get is with the words I put on the page. These characters are like real people to me. The funny lines they say, their emotions that make my heart bleed, the amazing things they can do that I physically can’t, the adventures and sights that I can see in my head. I love sharing those things with my readers and hope that they can feel at least a part of what I do.
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