Jake clenched his fists together, feeling the strength in his grasp. He felt invigorated. Without a doubt, stemming from the massive influx of stats and the new skill.
Funnily enough, this was the first skill he had ever unlocked that didn’t come with a single iota of knowledge. Usually, he would know at least some basic things about it. Like how to activate it, how many resources it generally consumed, potential cooldowns of the skill, and so on and so forth.
But with his Moment of the Primal Hunter, he only got what the description gave him. He understood why, though. It was a skill he had created, named after his bloodline itself. Perhaps the system didn’t have the info, or it was just the normal thing to happen when one made their own skill.
Or maybe, it kind of assumed he already knew since… well, he was the creator.
He opened his status menu for the first time in quite a while, and it was starting to get quite impressive if he had to say so himself.
Name: Jake Thayne
Race: [Human (E) – lvl 50]
Class: [Ambitious Hunter – lvl 50]
Profession: [Prodigious Alchemist of the Malefic Viper – lvl 50]
Health Points (HP): 4124/4350
Mana Points (MP): 3254/5050
Free points: 0
Titles: [Forerunner of the New World], [Bloodline Patriarch], [Holder of a Primordial’s True Blessing], [Dungeoneer II], [Dungeon Pioneer II], [Legendary Prodigy]
Class Skills: [Basic One-Handed Weapons (Inferior], [Advanced Stealth (Common)], [Advanced Archery (Common)], [Hunter’s Sight (Uncommon)], [Basic Twin Fang Style (Uncommon)], [Basic Shadow Vault of Umbra (Uncommon)], [Splitting Arrow (Uncommon)] [Big Game Hunter (Rare)], [Infused Powershot (Rare)], [Mark of the Ambitious Hunter (Rare)], [Moment of the Primal Hunter (Legendary)]
Profession Skills: [Herbology (Common)], [Brew Potion (Common)], [Concoct Poison (Common)], [Alchemist’s Purification (Common)], [Alchemical Flame (Common)], [Toxicology (Uncommon)], [Cultivate Toxin (Uncommon)], [Malefic Viper’s Poison (Rare)], [Palate of the Malefic Viper (Rare)], [Touch of the Malefic Viper (Rare)], [Sense of the Malefic Viper (Rare)], [Blood of the Malefic Viper (Epic)], [Scales of the Malefic Viper (Ancient)]
Blessing: [True Blessing of the Malefic Viper (Blessing - True)]
Race Skills: [Endless Tongues of the Myriad Races (Unique)], [Identify (Common)], [Meditate (Common)], [Shroud of the Primordial (Divine)]
Bloodline: [Bloodline of the Primal Hunter (Bloodline Ability - Unique)]
He had experienced tremendous growth across the line, the massive title being the main culprit behind it. Jake’s still massively growing perception was even more insane.
Every single free point had been dumped into perception. Everything added together meant he got 9 for every level in his class and 7 for every level in his race - a truly massive amount amplified further by a huge percentage increase, which ultimately meant Jake’s perception was more than 250 points above his second-highest stat.
And so far, he hadn’t regretted it. With every point in the stat, his bloodline ability grew stronger. The two last skills he had gotten in his class scaled with perception, and he felt like he could only get more skills scaling with it.
A split of his free points between strength and agility would likely have made him stronger here and now. But Jake wasn’t satisfied with just being strong here and now. He knew there was an entire world out there to explore and that this tutorial would only be a minor point in his life. If he survived, of course. And if he didn’t… well, who cares? If he died, he wouldn’t be able to feel regretful anyway.
The fact that his new legendary skill scaled with perception did make it all a little bit better too. He would still have to test it in actual combat, but since it required him to be in potentially deadly danger, it wasn’t something he could just practice.
This dungeon wasn’t ideal for it either. The deer constantly moved around and the ever-looming danger of the Great White Stag appearing in the middle of a practice session, quite frankly made it a terrible training ground.
Not that the prospect was as scary as it was only a few minutes ago. Even before this power-up, Jake felt confident in facing the beast in one on one combat. Now even more so.
But first, he had to finish his meditation. Running out of stamina in the middle of a fight would make any power-ups irrelevant after all. Before he entered meditation, he chugged a stamina potion, restoring a good portion.
Cutting off the outside world, he started meditating. He felt his regeneration speed up as more energy started condensing within. Where exactly all the energy was stored, he still didn’t know. But if he had to guess, it had to be in some metaphysical way, just like how his bloodline didn’t actually seem to have anything to do with actual blood.
Taking advantage of the fact his Sphere continued to function during meditation, Jake wasn’t wholly paralyzed from doing anything productive as he practiced mana manipulation.
Speaking of the sphere, he still had no idea exactly how fast it grew in area. It had stopped at a bit less than 30 meters in all directions and been like that even before the massive stat gain he had just gotten. What did improve, however, was the detail of what he saw.
Color was still out of the question, but mana had started getting more visible to his inner eye. It was still faint, but at least he now knew it was there and could even ‘see’ it. His string of mana that was invisible to the eye was visible to his sphere at least, likely due to how condensed it was, which made it far easier to practice.
Like he had done so many times before, he started making strings. The fact that mana constructs were possible was only made more evident by the Spectral Hand and Spectral Weaponry skills. And if a skill could weave it together, so could he.
Even before today, he had tried to make more complicated things. Ropes were just strings woven together, but if he wove enough together and focused on keeping them straight, he suddenly made a staff. Making the strings weave together in a sharp point, and he would have a spear.
It was simple for him to do. To create the form itself took little effort, but the problem was maintaining it. No matter how much he focused, he couldn’t make the things he made more robust. They always felt fleeting, like a strong wind could blow his constructs apart.
Of course, that was ignoring the colossal problem of them instantly dissolving the moment he stopped being in physical contact with the mana. So far, he didn’t see any solution to the problem, so he kept focusing on merely making his strings stronger.
His approach was simple. Push in more mana and try to condense it. If he just pushed in more mana, all he would get was to make it longer. Instead, he needed to put more mana into every individual string, squeezing it together.
The progress for that was slow but steady. To use a rope of mana as climbing gear just a few weeks ago would be a pipedream. Even lifting a dagger off the floor or use it to retrieve his bow from the ground in the Badger’s Den was slightly challenging.
Waking up, he drank yet another stamina potion, nearly filling the resource pool entirely. His mana consumption was far lower during his practice than what he regenerated during meditation, allowing that pool to stay full too, which meant that he was currently in top condition.
He still had groups of deer left to slay before it was time to take on the white stag. He felt more confident now, but it was still unnecessary to engage the boss without proper preparation. Besides, who knows what tricks the beast would have up its hooves?
So he continued his hunt. A process that was only easier than before as he took down stag after stag. They weren’t even a real challenge before today, now even less so.
It took him only half an hour or so in between every pond, where he quickly brought down any beast he encountered before he rushed on to the next. The Great White Stag had no way to keep up or pin him down. Every time the White Stag came upon his kills, it called down the moonbeam, which in turn told Jake exactly where the big boss currently was, making it far too easy to avoid.
Nearly an entire day later, he couldn’t find any more enemies. There were seven ponds in total spread around the plains, with an eighth in the middle – the largest one. After going to all seven of them, even being slightly reckless in staying close to the natural paths between them, he still didn’t find any deer.
So he went towards the middle pond. There he found what he had hoped for. A single white stag and three white does standing around - not a single other beast anywhere.
Still being a bit cautious, he decided to wait a bit to see if any more would come. He drank one final stamina potion, committing himself to wait an hour before he would engage the boss. While waiting, he entered meditation as he checked his notifications.
Quite a few levels were gained after he had killed close to a hundred enemies in less than a day, which was clearly reflected on his notification window.
*’DING!’ Class: [Ambitious Hunter] has reached level 54 - Stat points allocated, +4 free points*
*’DING!’ Race: [Human (E)] has reached level 52 - Stat points allocated, +5 free points*
He had gotten a bit less than he had expected. Though, with how easy it had been, he nearly felt like he had gotten more than he should have. Jake didn’t know how he measured up to equally leveled people, but he sure did well even against higher-level beasts.
Then again, he did have a class suited for it. His Big Game Hunter skill gave a constant bonus to his agility and strength as he always fought higher-leveled enemies, helping him close some of the stat disparity. Besides that, he was clearly just stronger than whatever he met.
It was pretty clear to Jake that beasts grew far less in strength per level than humans like him. Or maybe it was just a result of him having a variant class and profession, while the beasts he fought were generally just more ordinary types.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to compare a human with something like the Veteran Archer class and an equivalent more common profession-upgrade.
In that same vein, it would be fairer to compare Jake to beasts like the Alpha Badgers or even the Great White Stag and the Den Mother. If he went by game-logic, then dungeon bosses should have hidden amplifiers or something to make them stronger beyond their level.
But Jake was quite sure they were just powerful variants. Jake wasn’t delusional enough to believe that he had the best available class and profession imaginable. Far from it, in fact, as he thought that his class was just ‘good’ but not great.
However, he did have his bloodline - a power outside of classes, professions, and his race. It granted him advantages, tangible as well as intangible. His high proficiency in combat, for one thing, was made possible due to it. It likely even provided him a bunch of other benefits he hadn’t even noticed yet. The recent skill upgrade and transformation just being one such example.
The next time he met the Malefic Viper, he would have to ask about bloodlines more in-depth.
Opening his eyes, he noted that it had been an hour since he had entered meditation. Not due to some magical internal clock, but because he became aware that the cooldown for drinking another potion was over.
Both his mana and stamina were above 90%, with his health being full. Jake wasn’t sure what poison would work best for the Great White Stag, so he decided on his most potent kind, aka Necrotic Poison. It was the kind he had created the most of, and the type he was most confident in concocting by far.
He was, however, not quite ready to go yet. He quickly created a few more potions and poisons before initiating his final hunt to finish the dungeon. He needed to make another batch of stamina potion as well as another batch of Necrotic Poison.
Only the best was good enough for the final boss, after all.
So far, he had just used his blood infused with Blood of the Malefic Viper to coat his arrows. It was quite a bit weaker than the actual poisons, but it only consumed a bit of mana and health to use.
The concocting and brewing both went well and the created poison and potion were his best yet. They had also been his fastest creations so far, proving that his stats were not just for show when it came to his profession either.
He coated all sixty arrows in his quiver, after which he flung the quiver with now poison-soaked arrows over his shoulder. The poison would last for a while due to the often forgotten effect of Malefic Viper’s Poison.
As he had gained ample levels, he attempted to Identify the beasts one last time before engaging.
[White Doe – lvl 75]
[White Doe – lvl 74]
[White Doe – lvl 72]
[Great White Stag – lvl ??]
This time it yielded results. The White Does were all at a higher level than any of the Alpha Badgers by quite a bit, but still below the Den Mother. With his current level, his maximum Identify went up to 78, meaning the Great White Stag was above that. Not surprising as the Den Mother had been 81.
Before he started meditating, he had already picked out the spot he was currently at as the ideal vantage point to attack from. It was a small hill with tall grass growing on it, with clear sight to the middle pond. Nearly 150 meters separated him from the Great White Stag, giving him ample time to land decisive blows before they could make it to him.
The Great White Stag would surely have ranged methods of attack, but Jake was confident in battling at range. The issue was the three does that - if the other does were any indication - would charge him in an attempt to engage him in melee.
Contrary to what he perhaps should, he didn’t feel any fear, but only excitement. Show me what you got.
He summoned his bow and nocked an arrow. He felt his mana and stamina churn as he pulled back the string and activated Infused Powershot. He let the power build up as the intensity increased by the moment. The veins on his arms bulged as a visible shimmer of energy emitted from his entire body.
The arrow was released in an explosion of might, pushing down all the human-sized grass surrounding him, with the closest strands being utterly annihilated. It was without a doubt his most powerful Infused Powershot to date - one that the doe in its trajectory didn’t notice before it was too late.