A note from Zogarth

A brief update about Christmas: There will be the same number of chapters, but they may not be uploaded at the usual time or days. Anyway, the next chapter comes on Monday. Have fun, stay safe, and have a nice weekend everyone!

Jake opened his eyes when he saw the countdown for the dungeon shutdown reach 13 minutes. He had initially decided to get up at 15, but two more minutes shouldn’t hurt, right?

During his meditation, he did have time to go over his notifications.

*’DING!’ Class: [Ambitious Hunter] has reached level 55 - Stat points allocated, +4 free points*

*’DING!’ Profession: [Prodigious Alchemist of the Malefic Viper] has reached level 51 - Stat points allocated, +5 free points*

*’DING!’ Race: [Human (E)] has reached level 53 - Stat points allocated, +5 free points*

*’DING!’ Class: [Ambitious Hunter] has reached level 56 - Stat points allocated, +4 free points*

*’DING!’ Class: [Ambitious Hunter] has reached level 57 - Stat points allocated, +4 free points*

*’DING!’ Race: [Human (E)] has reached level 54 - Stat points allocated, +5 free points*

He had gotten a grand total of four levels between his profession and class. After killing the second White Doe, he got a level in his class, and after finishing off the last doe and the Great White Stag, he had gotten two entire levels more - it hadn’t been level 93 for nothing.

The level in his profession was also an unexpected gain. It also reinforced the notion that one didn’t necessarily need to create potions to level, but doing difficult practice could also lead to levels. He reckoned the same would be right for classes, actually. Would he be able to level by just practicing with his bow?

A fascinating but utterly useless thought that Jake quickly suppressed as he only had a dozen minutes left before the dungeon would shut down.

It took quite a bit of effort, but he managed to get himself on his feet. He also took out a health potion as the cooldown was over by now. Like a desert meeting rain, his body greedily absorbed the potion’s vital energy, instantly making him feel a lot better than before.

Thank the Malefic Viper I am an alchemist, he thought with a slight chuckle, already walking towards the pond where he had thrown the Great White Stag.

To his surprise, the concoction that had once filled half the pond was gone. When the formation overloaded, it had sent half of the water flying; it was now splashed around the area. It was quite easy to see where it had landed as it was where all the grass had died. But there was still a lot left, enough to nearly submerge the entire stag.

But the pond itself was completely empty of any liquid now. Even the corpse of the Great White Stag was gone. However, where the stag had died, there now was a single out of place item - a small pebble-sized object, no larger than a fingernail. He could easily feel the mana pulse out of it, his Identify making it clear it wasn’t a simple item.

[Corrupted Mooncore Shard (Epic)] – The shard of a Mooncore, corrupted by an immense amount of toxicity. It is unstable by nature and will not last more than a few months in its current state. Contains highly concentrated volatile energy as the energies clash within. The mana of the moon and the foreign mana in a constant cycle of mutual destruction.
Requirements: Cannot leave the tutorial area.

Jake, like the description, had no idea what to use it for. It seemed like a ticking time bomb that he couldn’t take out of the tutorial based on the description. Very intriguing if he had to say so himself.

He had clearly been the source of the corruption, but that also meant it had been uncorrupted before his interference. Had this been the item that the stag poured all the mana from the moon above into? Was he meant to get this item in its uncorrupted form?

He didn’t know, and as the countdown to the dungeon shutting down hit 8 minutes, he didn’t have time to find out either. What he did know, however, was that he shouldn't try to inject mana into it, or he was pretty damn sure it would go boom. Not that he planned on leaving it behind, as he threw it into his storage before moving on.

First, he rushed towards the middle pond. If the last two dungeons were any indication, then he would gain a lockbox or two. Maybe he would even finally get a jacket or something as he was getting a bit tired of running around bare-chested. Even just a cloak would be fine. Just not the shitty archer cloak.

Less than a minute later, he reached the center pond and inspected it. The water had lost all luster, and a quick identification yielded no result. Which meant it was indeed just normal water now, holding not a single magical property of note.

What was, however, of note was what was in the water. In the center was a magical circle carved into the bottom of it. Exactly where the Great White Stag had been standing to control the formation. It didn’t take a genius to conclude that this was the controlling circle or something. Not that it mattered anymore, as it was clearly broken based on the cracks all over it.

There was one fascinating thing about it still, though. In the middle of the circle was a book. A book that brought back a sense of déjà vu. It reminded Jake of the giant tome that had granted him his profession back in the day.

Though this tome was gray with the depiction of a moon on the cover. It was beautifully designed, to say the least, and of course, he used Identify on it.

[Akashic Tome of the Lucenti Mage (Unique)] – Allows the user to acquire the class Lucenti Mage if compatible.
Requirements: Lvl 24-99 in any class. Compatible user.

Jake picked up the tome and noticed that it wasn’t wet in the slightest despite being underwater. It was like the liquid didn’t even make contact with its surface.

When he picked it up, it instantly made him aware he couldn’t use it. Clearly, he wasn’t what was deemed a compatible user. Though, to be fair, he wouldn’t have wanted it anyway. He had chosen to be an archer and not a caster, and he was more than happy with that choice.

Throwing the tome in his spatial storage, he looked around the area a bit more as he scanned it with his sphere. He didn’t spot anything worth noting, at least nothing containing mana or was identifiable. He did note what looked like the remnants of a few withered plants, but nothing useful.

With nothing else of note at the center pond, he rushed back towards the entrance. It didn’t seem like there was a dedicated exit, which didn’t really surprise him considering the dungeon’s open design.

Making his way to the exit, he finally spotted something. A single lockbox sat at the entrance, and Identify told him it was rare. Based on the size and the shape of the box, it appeared to be a long, long weapon of some kind. Jake couldn’t help but hope for it to maybe be a bow. It was a bit long for it, but it was still possible.

Opening it, he instead found a staff.

[Staff of Lucent Realms (Rare)] – A staff made from the Great White Stag’s antlers and ordained with a moonstone. The concentrated power of moonlight within makes it suitable for most light-affinity casters. Allows the user to borrow the power within the moonstone once a day, reducing the cost and significantly increasing the power of any skills related to the concept of moonlight.
Requirement: Lvl 50+ in any humanoid race

Jake read the description and had to admit that the staff did seem strong, if utterly useless to him. Touching it, he also felt that he clearly had a Greatsword of Nature-situation all over again, aka incompatible with him.

Tossing the staff into his storage together with the tome, he placed his hand on the door as he exited the dungeon.

As he exited, he also checked out his last two notifications.

Tutorial Quest: The Beast Lords

The forest murmurs with rumors of a King ruling from the shadows. The four Beast Lords each guard their dungeon as their King commanded, waiting for a suitable challenger to appear. With the death of his lords, the King is sure to be forced into the light. But be warned, the Lords will not meet their end that easily.

Two lords have fallen. The King has taken notice but has yet to make a move. Continue with the quest, and you shall inevitably meet.

Objective: Defeat the Beast Lords.

Current progress: 2/4

It had gotten a bit foreboding. Jake wondered who or what this so-called King was, but he would eventually find out if the system were to be believed. Of course, he had a few more dungeons to clear out first.

The second notification he got was about his titles upgrading, now providing 1 and 3 more overall stats.

[Dungeoneer III] – Successfully clear a Dungeon suitable for your level. +3 all stats.

[Dungeon Pioneer III] – Be the first to clear a dungeon suitable for your level. +9 all stats.

Overall, his gains from the dungeon had been significant. While he hadn’t gotten any new gear, he had gained 10 levels in his class and one in his profession, and it had only taken him a bit more than two days.

Checking his tutorial panel, he found that he had ample time left to clear out the two next dungeons at his current pace.

Tutorial Panel

Duration: 13 days & 22:45:10

With nearly two weeks, he didn’t see what could stop him. But first things first was to get back in peak condition. His current resources were still dangerously low, and he had no intentions of getting into a fight at the present time.

HP: 825/4560

MP: 914/5260

Stamina: 712/2390

While he could move naturally, he still felt weak all over. So he began meditating inside the mountain-like volcano. After a bit less than an hour, he exited meditation, chugged a healing potion, and closed his eyes once more.

This repeated for nearly an entire day as he alternated between potions until he returned to peak condition. He had honestly underestimated how much damage he had taken. To fully heal, his body had taken far more vital energy than he had first believed. Healing corroded and heavily poisoned internal organs wasn’t that easy. The poison itself wasn’t the issue; it was the damage left by the light-affinity mana.

After the first half a day, his mana was up to a healthy level allowing him to resume doing a bit of mana practice while he was just sitting there anyway. It was unsurprisingly boring to meditate, and trying to weave constructs of mana was a pleasant pastime. He honestly felt a bit bad for those without a Sphere of Perception who could only just sit there and do nothing.

Walking out of the tunnel leading into the volcano, he again found himself overlooking the inner area. Nothing had really changed since he entered, and he was more than happy to just move on to the next dungeon.

Dungeons were clearly far more efficient than the beasts outside at this point. Besides, enemies outside of the dungeons were only in their low sixties at the highest, and those were often solitary beasts like the buffalos.

Scanning the geography, he quickly found an easy way towards the next volcano-like mountain. It was naturally the third smallest, which should be the third dungeon to do. He briefly considered maybe clearing a valley or two in the hope of finding some more equipment but ultimately decided against it.

The loot in the dungeons was far better anyway… if Jake could use it, that is. And even if it weren’t, the levels would make up for it either way. Getting good gear was all well and good, but he would eventually outgrow it. As an example, his bracers only provided 5 agility and 3 strength, along with their minor bonus to stealth while hidden in shadows.

His cloak had become useless, to the point where he didn’t even wear it. Even the smallest scratch or attack ripped it up, forcing him to spend time mending it. Even then, it didn’t provide any meaningful defense against anything but projectile attacks. And it wasn’t like there was anyone else around to see him run around in only his pants, boots, and a pair of bracers.

As he ran towards the dungeon, he came across a single pack of raptors in their early 50’s. Surprisingly the beasts didn’t attack him but ran away the second they noticed him. There was no good reason to waste time chasing them down, so he decided just to let it go.

All other beasts on the way reacted the same. The moment they spotted him, they tucked their tails and advanced in the opposite direction. Jake couldn’t help but wonder if he really looked that scary…

It did, however, result in him quickly making his way to the mountain with the dungeon. Yet another tunnel that he found himself within.

While the first two had lush greenery within, this one was just soil all over. There was only one change in the ground, a vertical hole right in the middle.

Jake jumped down from the entrance into the volcano and landed on the soil. He felt it was relatively soft and reminded him of the earth that had been in the challenge dungeon. Jake held himself back from collecting some of it. If he really wanted it, he could get it after the dungeon.

He walked up to the hole and looked down. It was around 10-11 meters deep. He only knew that due to his Sphere of Perception, though. His eyes didn’t allow him to see a single thing, no matter how hard he tried. Even Hunter’s Sight didn’t give any result. It was like a strange kind of mana was within the hole. One that made it pitch-black. And while he could see inside with his sphere, everything did appear a bit obscured and blurry, still.

It didn’t feel dangerous, though, so Jake decided just to take a plunge as he jumped into the hole. A few meters down, everything went black as the darkness enveloped him.

Landing, he found stone beneath his feet. And not just ordinary stones. Bricks. The walls, too, were made of bricks, making it clearly manmade. Or alienmade. The point is that some kind of intelligent race constructed it.

In front of Jake was the usual door that marked the entrance. Placing his hand on it, he received the standard message and didn’t hesitate to accept it.

Time for the third dungeon.

A note from Zogarth

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