Jake felt a bit better after getting a better understanding of his own emotional situation and even deepened his insight into his bloodline. Perhaps it was indeed just a faux feeling of enlightenment, but it lightened his heart, nevertheless.
At least enough to move one point down on his list of things to do. One of which was to check his many status messages he had gotten during the fight with Abby and her scumbag dad. Speaking of which, he began with the kill message for him.
*You have slain [Human (E) - lvl 51 / Aspiring Blade of Debauchery - lvl 65 / Salacious Malefactor – lvl 38] Experience earned.
Right, that confirms it; he was a sick fuck through and through, Jake thought as he read the name of that guy Donald’s class and profession. Like, seriously. His class reminded him a lot of the Aspiring Blade of Nature he had fought during the tutorial, except instead of focusing on nature, this guy focusing on being a god damn degenerate.
Even the profession was fucked up. Did the dude seriously have a profession related to sexually assaulting people? Was that seriously a thing?
He hadn’t seen many examples of classes and professions, and it quite honestly shouldn’t have come as a surprise to him, but nevertheless, he found himself dumbstruck. He knew the system was boundless and that it allowed one to walk pretty much any path to power. The Viper had mentioned that time and time again. But in some hopeful and naïve corner of his mind, he had hoped that people like this guy wouldn’t - no, couldn’t - exist.
Seriously. Salacious Malefactor. It used colored language and fancy terms, but it basically could be read as ‘lustful rapist’. The guy had to make a conscious choice to pick that profession during his profession-evolution too. He had chosen to be that.
The only positive thing he could say about the guy was that he was now dead.
Moving on, he went to the sick fuck’s daughter, Abby.
*You have slain [Human (E) - lvl 59 / Disciple of Kallox - lvl 77 / Authoritarian Leader – lvl 41] Experience earned.
Her class and profession were both a lot more typical. The class was clearly related to that Kallox fellow mentioned. Jake did wonder exactly how strong he was, but the guy didn’t appear that impressive from what little he had heard.
Then again, Jake’s view was pretty skewed. He had already learned that most humans didn’t even know about the existence of literal gods and even more believed them to be some mythical entities that didn’t really exist in any tangible sense.
Her profession was also relatively tame - a social-type profession that he hadn’t seen before and likely a big part of the reason why she kept her merry band of followers around. As to what it actually did, he, of course, had no way of knowing.
Next, he went on to something he would actually enjoy. Well, not the first part, but hopefully the one after that.
He summoned Abby and Donald’s corpses and threw them on the ground in front of him. In retrospect a pretty bad idea as it ended up getting even more blood on the floorboards.
But what one doesn’t do for loot. The act of stripping down the two was a bit much, but Jake really felt like it was a waste not to. However, he did have the decency to leave Abby still in her robe. He could have the other people take that robe later if they wanted it. As for Donald? Yeah, fuck that guy.
Jake had already noticed that the rings usually merged with their bodies had reappeared on their fingers after their deaths. The same was true for the two necklaces.
Taking off everything of value took a while, and most of it was of no use to him - the ones from Abby especially. They were either for casters or had space mana requirements or even being bound to someone with relation to the Kallox guy. The descriptions even said he was the creator.
I guess I can bribe that Neil guy with them. He did find some things of use, though - a ring from Abby and two items of interest on Donald.
[Ring of Brilliance (Rare)] - A ring with a rare gem crafted by a very skilled jeweler. The high quality of the mana in the gem grants the user increased mental stats. Enchantments: +50 Intelligence, +50 Wisdom, +35 Willpower.
Requirements: Lvl 45+ in any humanoid race.
The ring had the same name as one he had found back pretty early in the tutorial. Or maybe found was the wrong term as he had also looted that ring off the corpse of a female caster he had killed. Disregarding that, this one was two rarities higher and offered many more stats while also holding a higher level-requirement.
Now he already had two rings, and more than that didn’t work. System rules and all that. The one he planned on replacing being the worst of them. Naturally
[Ring of the Jade-eye Tiger (Uncommon)] – A ring created by embedding the crystalized eye of a Jade-eye Tiger into a band. The Records of the tiger powers the enchant, granting some of the beast's might to its wearer. Enchantments: +20 Perception, +15 Agility, +15 Strength.
Requirements: Lvl 30+ in any humanoid Race
His other ring had the exact same stats, though as a higher amount and different distribution.
[Ring of the Ruby-eye Tiger (Uncommon)] – A ring created by embedding the crystalized eye of a Ruby-eye Tiger into a band. The Records of the tiger powers the enchant, granting some of the beast's might to its wearer. Enchantments: +30 Strength, +20 Agility, +20 Perception.
Requirements: lvl 40+ in any humanoid race
Of course, it wasn’t a contest which one to replace. Jake’s only regret was that he would lose stats he actually used and needed. Well, used and needed more. Maybe the increased intelligence would actually prove supremely useful with his newfound magical abilities.
Intelligence was still his lowest stat by quite a bit, and this ring alone would give him more than a 10% boost. Nearly even putting him at the cap of how many stats he could gain in intelligence from equipment, aka a 20% boost maximum. With his gloves already providing 35, it would put him at a substantial 85 bonus out of an 89 maximum.
His equipment wasn’t something he really thought of often. But he had to admit that it was without a doubt one of his many advantages over other survivors too. His armor and gloves were both from the Nest Watcher and offered solid defenses and stats. His necklace offered the quite frankly overpowered and ridiculously convenient spatial storage, and his mask was increasing his maximum mana by a ridiculous 25%.
It was just passive bonuses that, by nature of being passive, didn’t really enter his thoughts on a daily basis. Heck, he forgot he had a mask on half the time.
Which isn’t to say he didn’t appreciate getting better equipment. Taking off his old ring, he put on the new one, losing 20 perception, 15 agility, and 15 strength, but gaining 50 intelligence, 50 wisdom, and 35 willpower in the process - trading 50 ‘good’ stats for 135 ‘okay’ stats in the process.
The sensation when swapping the stats was barely noticeable and actually made him feel slightly weaker. Which made sense as he lost physical stats but gained mental ones. Overall he was somewhat confident he had gotten stronger.
As for the old ring, he decided just to give it to Hank. The man looked like he needed equipment pretty bad after all.
The rest of Abby’s loot was useless to him, as he already noted earlier, so he moved on to Donald’s two things he found noteworthy. The first of which was a pair of bracers.
[Leather Bracers of Peerless Deflection (Rare)] – Bracers made from tempered leather from a powerful E-grade beast. Produced by an even more powerful craftsman. Borrowing from the Records of the beast it is made from, these bracers have the ability to deflect range attacks when infused with mana. Enchantments: Self-Repair. +25 Agility, + 15 Endurance.
Requirements: Lvl 40+ in any humanoid race
These ones were actually pretty damn decent with excellent stats and a magical ability attached to them. In fact, the man had pretty decent stuff overall; it was too bad that Jake had better. Oh well, more stuff for Hank.
Looking at his old bracers, he got a strong sense of nostalgia. They were the first piece of equipment he had found in the tutorial and had been with him from before he even got his profession. They had, if his theory was right, led to him unlocking the Shadow Vault of Umbra skill. A skill that had gone on the backburner recently but had been instrumental to his survival in the tutorial.
[Leather Bracers of the Novice Rogue (Uncommon)] – A pair of leather bracers made of fine leather, originally designed for new initiates in the Order of Umbra. Enchantments: Self-Repair. +5 agility, +3 strength. Increases the effectiveness of all stealth skills, further amplified while remaining hidden in the shadows.
Requirements: Lvl 5+ in any class or humanoid race. Stealth-based skill.
These he didn’t plan on handing out but instead save for himself. A piece of memorabilia, if you may. Taking them off, he deposited them into his spatial storage and put on the new bracers. Once more feeling the small rush of stats after binding them to him.
The deflection ability he would have to test later. For now, he moved on to the last thing the man had dropped, and without a doubt, the most… interesting.
[Scimitar of Debauchery (Epic)] – A cursed blade made by the wicked, for the wicked. Crafted from steel that has soaked in the blood of the innocent has left a powerful curse of resentment on the blade. A curse that can be further strengthened by adding more souls of innocents. Wield with caution, for the curse does not only affect those it strikes. Enchantments: Curse of Debauchery
Requirements: Humanoid race
Once more, like the Blade of Nature, he had strong suspicions that this blade was the source of Donald’s class. A fucked up class for a fucked up man. Granted by - if the description was accurate - a fucked up sword.
But despite its fucked-upedness it was still impressive in its own right. First of all, was the requirement to use it. It didn’t have a level required, and the only other items Jake had seen with that was Soulbound items. Which this one evidently wasn’t.
It only had a single curse placed upon it. A curse powerful enough to bring it to epic-rarity based solely on its merits. Or demerits.
He also had a sneaking suspicion that it hadn’t always been epic. It stated that one could add more souls to it, as ominous as that sounds, to strengthen it more - something Donald had done plenty of without a shadow of a doubt.
Now, the question, if he were going to use it, would be a resounding fuck no. Sure, it was likely better than his Shortsword of Icy Winds, but his shortsword had the advantage of not being literally cursed.
The only thing he couldn’t help but wonder was if Donald had been fucked up from the start or if the blade had made him that way. A mystery he quite frankly didn’t care about solving. So Jake just threw the blade in the corner of his spatial storage. Maybe he could still find a use for it later or forget about it entirely until the end of time.
Being done with all immediate tasks, he believed it was time to make his presence known once more. Walking outside the cabin, he saw Miranda skillfully conversing with the many survivors who followed Abby and Donald. Hank and Neil together with his party at her side.
The moment he was seen, the talking quickly died down as everyone turned to him. He felt the social pressure and spoke a bit forcefully.
“Miranda, what have you learned?”
“Well, according to them,” she began, signaling to all those around, “they were more or less all forced into following her, either by circumstance or directly. They tell me that…”
Jake listened as she explained a bit more of the history of how Abby had gathered a crowd to begin with. About how their tutorial had been rather dangerous initially, even more so than Jake’s own. At least if you only spoke of the outer area. They were forced into combat constantly from day one.
In fact, this was the primary reason why Abby had any followers at all. Why she was the leader, it was entirely due to her power. Most of them despised her, her father even more so. But she had been strong from the very start. Donald and her hiding their wickedness until they were powerful enough to stand unopposed.
To call her a good leader would be a straight-up lie. She had abused, killed, and forced them all into doing things they didn’t want to. Any they met were given the ultimatum of either joining her or dying. If someone showed too much talent, they had the ‘mysterious’ tendency to disappear after either she or Donald asked for a private meeting.
This just reaffirmed Jake’s theory of why she kept them around. Perhaps, in the beginning, it was done to have safety in numbers, but later it was clearly just to farm experience for her profession. As for Donald, his reason for keeping the group around was equally pragmatic but far worse.
He had already noticed it before, but their group only had three women remaining. In other words, of the more than 100 that had been in Abby’s group, less than one-twentieth were female. Two of them were old in their seventies or maybe even eighties. The last woman was young. But she was… scarred.
Something Jake learned she had done herself. She had taken a knife and cut off her hair, cut her own face and body all over. The scars were not healing. Likely due to her own wish for them not to. She was also the sole survivor of the massacre that had taken place earlier, the two elderly women dying from the space mana explosion.
As for the rest of the women in their group… he could only imagine their fates. Actually, scratch that; he wasn’t going to imagine it.
“So, are they staying?” he asked after hearing her long explanation and summary of what she had learned while Jake had an existential crisis in the lodge.
They had already learned of her profession as a City Lord and the fact that the area was free of beasts. She had credited that to him as the Owner of the land without providing further specifics about why or how.
“Yes, all of them are,” Miranda nodded. She had already added them as official citizens and registered them in her interface.
“How about you guys?” Jake asked, turning to Neil and his folk. Contrary to everyone here, those five had the ability to leave this place relatively safely. After Levi was healed, that is.
“We have agreed to stay too. To pay you back for what you and Miranda have done for us. Also… we have wandered enough. To have a place to call home is a valuable thing. It would be foolish for us to reject the offer,” he answered, his party members nodding in agreement, before adding. “As long as you allow us, of course.”
“As I said before, that is entirely up to Miranda. She is the City Lord here, not me. But I do have one task for all of you,” he said, smiling a bit deviously. “Go clean up my lodge.”