By now, the entire valley was thoroughly cleaned up. Herbs, lockboxes, even beasts were all gone. It had taken hours, and the sun had gone down quite a while ago, but Jake was more than satisfied. While he had managed to get another level, it was the loot that made him most pleased.

For herbs, he had found a bunch he couldn’t recognize at all; however, his Sense of the Malefic Viper told him that they were useful, and using Identify on them confirmed that they were indeed magical herbs. All of them had been inferior or common-rarity except for a bush with berries in the middle of the valley.

[Soothing Bellberry Bush (Uncommon)] – A bush of Soothing Bellberries. The berries growing on this bush are known to have a soothing effect on the mind.

He quite frankly wasn’t sure if this was something he needed… but he took it anyway. His spatial necklace could allow herbs to survive within it, making it a suitable place to store the bush.

So, he did as any reasonable person would do, aka dug it up and threw it in said storage. He could always find out what to do with it at a later point.

Looking at one of the few berries that had already grown on the bush, he decided to at least give it a bite.

[Soothing Bellberry (Uncommon)] – A berry that provides a soothing effect to whoever consumes it.

Even if it somehow turned out to be poisonous, he was confident that his Palate of the Malefic Viper would nullify it. Even if it didn’t, he doubted the berry was able to do him much harm.

Popping the thing into this mouth, Jake did feel a cold feeling spread out from his stomach as he became a bit clearer in his head… but otherwise, he didn’t really notice anything. Then again, he was already pretty calm currently.

Of course, the bush and other herbs weren’t the loot he cared most about. No, it came from the haul he had gotten from a total of five lockboxes, six in total when you counted the one he found the ring in.

Three of common-rarity and two of uncommon-rarity had been found.

The common-rarity ones didn’t matter much, but he did find a dagger among them. The others were a pair of boots granting a bit of endurance, which weren’t exactly useful considering his rare Boots of the Wandering Alchemist, with the last one being a necklace made similar to the Ring of the Jade-eye Tiger. He put it all in his storage, but overall it was a bit disappointing.

The uncommon-rarity ones were, of course, the token as well as something he could actually use.

[Shortsword of Icy Winds (Uncommon)] – A Sword made out of Froststeel and amplified with Ice-affinity mana over a long time. Due to the material used, the blade afflicts anyone it hits with the elemental energy of frost. Enchantments: Invading Chill.

Requirements: Lvl 35+ in any class.

Well, he thought he could use it, but it required his class to be level 35… so in two levels. He also didn’t know if it worked properly with his Twin Fang Style. It wasn’t a weapon made of bone, so that bonus obviously didn’t apply, but he also didn’t know if it counted as a ‘shorter’ weapon or not. He felt like it should, considering it was a shortsword and all, but who knows?

And lastly was the aforementioned upgrade token.

[Tutorial equipment upgrade token (Uncommon)] – Upgrade any common rarity starting item from the tutorial to uncommon rarity.

This was where the real good stuff was at. Jake had been annoyed at his weak arrows for far too long. They simply broke far too easily, lessening the power of his Powershots by quite a lot, and he often found them unable to penetrate as deeply as he wanted to inflict his poisons better.

Early on, he had learned to increase his bow’s durability with mana, making even the inferior-rarity one manageable. After getting the upgraded common-rarity bow from the archer who had been in the party with the Blade of Nature warrior, he hadn’t had a single issue with it. At least not for now.

But the arrows couldn’t be injected with mana the same way. The mana dispersed more or less instantly upon injecting it. It did the same with the bow, but as he had his hands on it at all times, it didn’t really matter. He naturally couldn’t do the same with arrows as they would kind of lose their purpose if he started stabbing people with them like daggers. Something, granted, he had done at times.

Looking at his quiver, he reminded himself of the description for one last time.

[Enchanted Quiver (Common)] – A quiver enchanted with the ability to conjure common-rarity arrows when injected with mana.

The quiver had served him well, but it was time to upgrade it. Taking the token, he used it on the quiver as light enveloped it for a few moments. Within his sphere, he only saw the quiver be disintegrated to complete nothingness until a new quiver was reassembled, also from nothing.

The new quiver looked pretty much identical to the old one. The only difference was the slightly more delicate feathers on the arrows, along with the leather looking less worn and more high quality.

[Enchanted Quiver (Uncommon)] - A quiver enchanted with the ability to conjure uncommon-rarity arrows when injected with mana.

The description hadn’t really changed at all. But then again, all Jake had hoped for was just to get arrows that were of higher quality, and hence more durable.

After the upgrade, the expected five dozen, or sixty arrows, were already conjured in the quiver. Jake took them out and examined them closely. The shaft was still made of wood, but Jake couldn’t even bend it anymore. Before, he could easily snap them in half.

The arrowheads had experienced a big transformation too. They were still a type of broadhead but had changed to a curved broadhead type. The difference was also that the cross-shaped tip had been altered to be flat.

Jake remembered that these arrows were classically used in hunting big game, such as deer or boars. Throughout his life doing archery, Jake had mostly used bullet-type arrows, where the shape of the arrowhead was similar to that of a bullet.

That type of arrows, however, also had the issue of leaving a wound like a bullet. Great penetrative force, but the injury would be small, and blood-loss lessened as the arrow itself would plug up the hole.

The bullet-type was the best design to penetrate an animal’s skin, but each shot’s damage would be reduced. The build did make them far more durable and less likely to bend and break when striking something. Against armor, it was also often the best type, unless one used special armor-penetrating arrows. However, those would usually be too unwieldy to handle during everyday use.

The cross-shaped arrowheads that he had before possessed the opposite problem. The arrowhead on those would often break as the arrow attempted to create a too big wound, which was especially challenging when it had to go through hide and fur or other tough materials.

Against armor, they were often worse as the small tip was thin and sharp, making it easily deflected whenever hitting with a less than perfect angle.

The new design of the arrowheads was a middle-point between these. It was single-sided, making it much like stabbing someone with a knife. The tips were also razor-sharp, easily cutting into Jake’s finger when he tried to test it.

Before, he had to put a bit of pressure on his hand while grasping the arrows to draw blood. Now he only had to press a tiny bit before it penetrated the skin. This would make applying poison with Blood of the Malefic Viper far easier.

Jake knew that this kind of arrow was far more suitable for what he wanted. It was a tool for cutting, not a tool for substantial impacts. The likely cause of death from these arrows would be hemorrhage compared to bullet-types where the kill often came due to a vital organ being penetrated.

Which was perfect for Jake. His main goal was to draw blood to inflict opponents with his poison.

This also meant that it was finally time to bring out the hemotoxins against more powerful opponents. His necrotic type poisons were clearly the deadliest; however, he had encountered beasts who could mostly negate it.

The giant buffalo was one such example. While a small part did rot away due to the poison, it quickly regenerated as the beast charged him. He had to channel Touch of the Malefic Viper for well over a minute before he finally overpowered the beast’s strong vitality.

A hemotoxin would be far more effective at draining his opponent of vital energy. Most beasts didn’t have high vitality, but this type of arrow would be far better for those who did.

Like a giddy child on Christmas, he got up and threw the new quiver over his shoulder. It was like getting a new toy. A toy made to inflict horrendous wounds and death upon others.

The valley was empty by now, forcing Jake to scale one of the two mountains surrounding it. Of the three volcanic-like mountains he could see, he chose the closest one. It was hard to climb these hollow mountains from the valley's mountainous paths surrounding it, but they were quite accessible from the valleys themselves.

He started running towards the closest uphill path leading towards the peak of one of the volcanos. The closest one also happened to be the smallest one, making Jake believe whatever was found there had a lower difficulty than the other two.

The mountain in the middle was far more giant compared to the other two he could see. As he ran up from the valley, he didn’t encounter any beasts for a bit, until he finally met a small group of the multicolored elemental raptors.

Only three of them, and a quick Identify showed that they were only in their mid-forties. Lower level than many of the badgers, and far lower than the buffalo, which had been well into its fifties.

One of them was red, one of them brown, and the last one blue. They possessed the fire element, the earth element, and the ice/water element, respectively, based on his previous encounters with their type.

Not that it ultimately mattered. The raptors were far too weak in Jake’s opinion to pose any threat. But they were perfect as targets to test out his new arrows.

Taking one out, he decided not to use any poison. Better to just test the use of the arrows without any other factors.

He decided to go with his usual strategy as he charged up a Powershot. He decided to go for a powerful one to test the durability of the arrows. After nearly ten seconds of charging, he released the arrow to the usual explosion of force as a wave of dust was kicked up all around him.

Please don’t break, please don’t break, Jake prayed as the arrow was released.

A prayer that was answered as the arrow smashed into the midsection of the Redhide Raptor. The arrow cut into its flesh like it was nothing, as it left a triangular wound. The wound itself was larger than the arrowhead due to the pure force behind the shot.

The arrow penetrated straight through the beast as it smashed into the ground, boring into the soil for nearly three meters before it stopped. The creature naturally screamed in pain as it fell down due to the force. It fell, but it wasn’t dead.

After seeing their comrade fall down, the two other raptors turned their heads towards Jake as they screeched. Elemental energy gathered in their mouths as one of them spit out a shard of ice while the other fired out a stream of small sharp rocks, each with the power of a bullet fired from a modern automatic rifle.

It was fast, but at the same time, far too slow for Jake as he quickly dodged the assault from the two beasts with a quick sidestep as he counterattacked. His arm did itch a bit from the Powershot, but he nevertheless returned fire with a Splitting Arrow.

The arrow was fired from his bow as it mid-flight split into four, with three of them hitting the brown dinosaur.

He managed to get off another such splitting arrow before he had to dodge another shard of ice, followed by a stream of fire from the severely wounded Redhide Raptor that had managed to get back up once more.

The beast was severely weakened as the arrow without a doubt had torn through some essential organs. It would heal in time. If it had time.

Jake released a flurry of arrows towards the poor raptor as it was unable to dodge. The one which marked its end was one that penetrated through its hard skull and into its brain. Smiling in satisfaction at the sharpness of the arrows, he turned his attention back to the two remaining beasts.

Both were wounded by now and bleeding heavily from their wounds. It took only a few minutes to finish off the rest of them, as they exchanged a very uneven trade of projectiles. The raptors preferred to fight at a range, a trait Jake would gladly match.

*You have slain [Redhide Raptor lvl 44] – Bonus experience earned for killing an enemy above your level. 48000 TP earned*

*You have slain [Brownhide Raptor lvl 46] – Bonus experience earned for killing an enemy above your level. 52000 TP earned*

*You have slain [Bluehide Raptor lvl 46] – Bonus experience earned for killing an enemy above your level. 52000 TP earned*

Jake dismissed the notifications as he went through the results of his totally scientific test.

First of all, the arrows were sharp. VERY sharp. They were like magical razorblades as they cut through his opponent.

Secondly, they were durable. Far more so than the old ones. A great example was how one had managed to penetrate into the skull of one of the beasts. While it hadn’t gone all the way through, it still managed to make its way through a lot of steel-hard bone.

The durability was also proven by how none of the arrows had broken. Even when they hit at an awkward angle or hit the ground, they still remained intact. The blades were dulled, but they were intact.

This increased sharpness was just what he had hoped for… but it did have some drawbacks.

With the old arrows, the beast would have been dead in the first Powershot… making Jake remember a valuable lesson in fundamental physics.

If an object is thin and sharp, it can easily penetrate an object, of course. Needles being a great example of this. However, the overall impact would be severely lessened.

It didn’t matter as much in the old world, where destroying a vital organ would mean the opponent’s death. After the system, losing a heart or even the brain didn’t necessarily mean it was the end. Jake had fought plenty of beasts that had managed to keep going even with severe damage to their brains.

While they would lose control of their bodies and often just spasm with the brain unable to control the body… the passive vital energy remaining in the body would eventually heal the brain.

This meant that his new arrows actually dealt less damage than the old ones. It was often more effective to do just a large amount of overall damage than harm in a focused area.

His old common-rarity arrows worked very much like hollow-point bullets. They dealt far more damage to a surface area while not really having as powerful penetrative force when they exploded upon impact.

Of course, all this discounted one important detail… Jake didn’t need to do a large amount of damage with his arrows. He had poisons for that. The most important thing for him was introducing whatever poison on the arrow into the bloodstream or flesh of his enemy.

Overall, he was delighted with his test. Perhaps he would still use the common-rarity arrows sometimes if he needed to kill weaker prey who would die to a single one of those arrows. Such as the raptor he had just faced. He still had a quiver of common-rarity in his spatial storage, after all.

Oh well, time to continue, Jake thought to himself as he continued his trek up the mountain. Hopefully, he would find prey that would truly allow his newfound equipment to shine.

A note from Zogarth

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