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Chapter Twenty Five - Tread the Earth


A little time passed after I had eaten all of the wonderful things and drunk the wonderful drinks they had provided to wash the food down with. Everything was… was… wonderful. Even the strangely uncomfortable sensation in my stomach was great.

I lay on my back, watching the cycles pass in the sky above. The weather’s cycle was thirty four normal cycles long and unless I was confusing it with cycle fifteen, which looked similar but a little more cloudy than the midafternoon look of the sky right now, then it was cycle twenty nine.

I’d long since numbered them. It was a bit hard to tell them apart now that I had so much more to see, but the view from the cave showed enough of the sky that I was pretty sure I was right.

“So, Gell,” Iron asked, interrupting my contented musings of the sky. “We were planning on returning to the city. Unfortunately, we were going to teleport there. Do you think you would like to meet us there?”

“Y-you’re leaving!? But… but I thought… I thought we would go to the city together,” I said dejectedly.

Iron grimaced. “Gell, it’s… well. We aren’t really–!”

“We’ll go with you, Gell,” Amy interjected suddenly.

“You will!?” I beamed.

“We will?” Iron blanched.

“We will,” Amy confirmed, nodding. “But… well. We’re going to need to prepare. You said you’d never been anywhere but here and… uhm… Dungeon Home, correct? So that means you might not know about Home Points. You can have up to three, and teleport between them freely.”

“Honey… we have some good gear but we’re level five and six. This… isn’t exactly going to be a stroll in the park,” he said, more concerned than unwilling.

“Gell needs a guide, and I’m not going to leave her alone here, if it's in my power not to. We’ve got plenty of equipment. Gell, could you tell us what your level is? We are going to go back to Variak and get some equipment for ourselves and for you if we can,” she stated.

“Equipment? What… what do we need equipment for?” I asked, curiously.

“Weapons and armor. Not to invade, but to protect ourselves from wandering monsters and PKs, should we encounter any,” Iron said.

“PKs?” I asked. Every question just led to another question!

“Player killers. Sorry, I’m just making this harder. Gell, it's dangerous to travel outside of safe zones without equipment. Weapons and armor and health potions to–!”

“I have a health potion!” I exclaimed proudly. “You wanna see?”

Iron’s eye twitched, in the same way Bugbear’s used to when I hung around him for too long. Was Iron maybe a Bugbear before he’d become an adventurer?

“That’s… good, Gell, but you need more than one health potion. You need lots of them if you don’t have a healer, and unfortunately neither of us are very strong if we get in danger. We wouldn’t want you to be hurt,” Iron said. He was choosing his words carefully, as if afraid of saying something wrong.

“Oh,” I replied. “Well, okay. I guess. Uhm. But I don’t really want to hurt anyone.”

‘Except Red Thorn,’ I amended in the privacy of my own mind.

“That’s a good attitude to have. When we get back to the city, would you like to learn one of our crafts? I already mentioned that Iron was a Carpenter, but I am a Blacksmith and a cook! We could teach you any of those if they sound interesting.”

A cook? Like a person who made food? Food like Steak-and-Broccoli!?

“I wanna be a cook!” I exclaimed, before my thoughts could catch up to me. “Wait. You made the Steak-and-Broccoli?”

She grinned. “Sort of. I bought raw ingredients from the market and then cooked them. I’ll tell you all about it when we get to Variak!”

Iron looked at her pointedly. “Honey…? I mean…”

He sighed before finishing the thought and rolling his shoulders in a shrug. “Sure, if you’re interested in making benches and bedframes and the like, I’d be glad to show you how, or at least get you started.”

“That sounds… well. Uhm. Is… it okay if I just try cooking first?” I asked.

Bedframes sounded great and all. But making my own food!? Mmmmphh!

“You can learn as much as we can teach if you like, Gell. For now though, we need to go back to the city and get you some equipment. You never did tell us your level?” she asked kindly.

“Uhm. I… how do I find out my level?” I asked. I thought I vaguely recalled something horrible. A trumpet fanfare. A voice telling me I had gained a level over and over again. The world breaking. The world breaking. The world brea–!

I shook myself and shuddered involuntarily, feeling a strange sensation along my skin. Goosebumps, I realized quickly. A… natural fear response for adventurers. Yes. Whatever had happened that day, I was afraid of it. I did not want to experience that again.

“Th… Thirteen,” I said numbly, recalling the broken voice’s words. “I’m level thirteen.”

“Gell? Is… everything okay?” Amy asked, concern written across her features as she knelt down next to me and placed a hand on my shoulder. This time, I welcomed the touch.

“Y-yes. Sorry. Just. Remembering something bad. The last time I leveled up. It was… bad. I didn’t like it. I’m sorry,” I said, unwilling to explain further.

“Thirteen, though. That’s… impressive. Though it's not all we need. Could you bring up your status screen?” Iron asked.

“Status screen?” I replied, confused.

“Heya Adventurer!”

I screamed and jumped back as another box appeared. “Stop doing that!”

“Hehe,” Tutorial giggled. I blinked, but was given no time to process the strange sound before she continued with her usual cycle.

“I see you’ve opened your status screen! Would you like to learn about your stats and how to use them?”

Suddenly, I felt bad for Bugbear and Iron as my own eye twitched.

“Tutorial, you did that on purpose!” I exclaimed.

“...”

“I see you’ve opened your status screen! Would you like to learn–!”

“Yes already,” I sighed, pressing the button. “Silly bitch…”

Amy gasped. “Gell! Where did you learn that word!?”

I turned to her, confused at the outburst. “What? Bitch?”

“Gell! That is a terrible word. You shouldn’t say that!” Amy exclaimed, but Iron was laughing behind her and trying to hide it.

“Wh-what? But… invaders said it all the time!” I replied. I didn’t understand what had gotten her so mad. What was wrong with the word? It was one of the few words that my inexplicable knowledge hadn’t added anything to, and was therefore special to me.

“It is… a curse word, Gell. It’s not polite to say such things. Even in jest,” Amy said, the anger bleeding away from her voice. “Beside, those were invaders who said those things, right? And didn’t you say you wanted to be an adventurer? Not an invader?”

“I… guess so,” I said, pouting.

“Good. It’s impolite. Vulgar. I can’t tell you what to do. I’m not your mother, but I’d hope you’d want to strive not to sound like the invaders you hate so much. Alright?”

I was about to get angry, but I supposed she was right. I didn’t particularly want to sound like an invader, and almost all of them used the yell words that didn’t have any meaning but were fun to say.

“Well. Okay. I won’t say those words anymore on one condition!” I stated.

Amy frowned as if disappointed. “Alright... I’m listening.”

“I won’t say them, if you tell me what they mean and why they’re bad,” I said.

Iron lost it. He leaned heavily against a tree, no longer able to hold back his laughter.

As Amy turned to berate him, I turned to the screen I’d automatically pushed aside after Tutorial had prompted me. She picked up right where she’d left off as if there hadn’t been a disruption in the conversation at all.

“Great! So this is your status screen, which you can open by saying “Status Screen” or at any time from the options menu! It basically tells you important facts about you, like your Level, your hit points, mana, and stamina! There are more general things about you, like gender and race. It’ll also hold your class when you choose one! Also, these things here are called stats.”

Each thing she referred to highlighted as she spoke about it. I took note of my race and was unhappy to see myself labeled as a “Human.” Still at least I had a category called Subrace which had my true being. Jelly, and Fae, respectively.

Each one represents an aspect of you! There’s Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and Luck! You gain these when you accomplish feats of the stat in question naturally, but also gain a fixed amount of them whenever you level up which you can distribute however you like! It looks like you have “20” unspent stat points! So use those points and watch yourself get stronger, faster, more durable, or even more arcane! Good luck, adventurer!”

“Okay…?” So I had unspent stat points. I could put them where I wanted.

I didn’t need Miss Tutorial to explain the meanings, but when I touched ‘Strength” she started speaking and I realized she would anyway. It was pretty simple though.

More strength meant I could hit things harder. More dexterity meant I could move quicker. Vitality, healthier; Intelligence, more mana and bigger spells like Fire Tosser threw around; wisdom, more mana regeneration. Charisma would allow me to... look better? I was iffy on that one and might actually listen to her explanation at some point. Luck would somehow affect everything.

My own stats were… interesting.

Stats:

Strength: 5
Dexterity: 30
Vitality: 15
Wisdom: 15
Intelligence: 35
Charisma: 15
Luck: 10

Special Abilities:

Shocker - (Intelligence based physical attack)

Steal - (Take the items from a monster or player. Epic class. Can steal Soul Bound Items)

Namer - (No Data Found)

Fae Touch - (No Data Found)

My shocker was easy enough to recognize. I’d used it more times than I could count. Namer though…? I didn’t recognize that. I didn’t understand the description either. I pressed it and Tutorial said nothing. Fae Touch went the same — nothing.

Huh. Strange.

“Gell! Fine. For now, just don’t say them, and bring them up to me whenever there’s time. For now, this idiot and I are going to go get us some equipment. We shouldn’t be gone long. About an hour, okay?”

Assuming they’d actually been gone for four hours before, I now had a much better frame of reference for what an hour was, so I beamed at her. “Okay! I’ll wait for you!”

She nodded and then walked back over to Iron who was still trying not to laugh despite Amy’s scary glares.

Amy suddenly leapt a few inches into the air and hovered there! I jumped in excitement! Adventurers could fly!?

She stayed there for a short time as beautiful twinkling lights began to surround her. She looked at me as the lights swelled and spun. “Alright, Gell. We’ll be back soon, okay?”

“Alright!” I exclaimed as I waved. Iron did the same thing, also hovering in midair with similar lights. Then a strange noise I’d never heard before filled the clearing and Amy winked out of existence.

Iron waved and followed shortly after.

I grinned and was about to sit down to wait when I suddenly heard an approaching sound. Laughter in the distance and the sound of voices.

I ran for cover, hiding behind a tree a few paces outside of the clearing. Amy and Iron had been nice, but that didn’t mean anyone else would be.

“Right right, Boldy, I’m sure. Fuck, we’ve been traveling for like two hours. Where is this place?” said a boisterous male voice as a group of invaders entered the clearing.

I saw them and my blood immediately ran cold with fury. There were five of them. I only knew one though. The smallest.

Half Bold.


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A note from Materia-Blade

A/N: Hiya all! Off to work... again. Shitty ass job... I'll leave you with a chapter though. Sorry, this is the last one until next Tuesday! It's my wife and my first anniversary this weekend!

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This story is currently sitting at about 65,000 words long with 11 more chapters for patrons. If you'd like to read those, consider joining my Patreon!

Thanks so much to all my patrons and I hope you're all still enjoying!

'Till Next!
MB


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About the author

Materia-Blade

Bio: Hello!

I'm Materia-Blade. I've been a long time fanfiction writer, and have recently decided to toss my hat into the original fiction arena. I love fantasy, sci-fi, and Lit-RPG's and have read hundreds of books from each genre.

My new story Artificial Jelly has released and is currently being pretty well received! Excited for it to hit trending! Thanks to those who support it, and me, and I hope it continues to impress!

Hope to hear from you soon!

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