Time passed by as the Treasure Hunt was in full swing. Everyone chased for Vaults all over the place, many finding more than they bargained for as they got trapped or were faced with foes far above what they could handle.
Jake was naturally one of these people. Not the trapped and in over his head part, but the chasing Vaults part. He went from Vault to Vault and did as any reasonable person would do: looted everything.
On his way, he encountered plenty of people who tried to argue with him or put up resistance, but none willing to actually fight. Jake himself tried to be accommodating and diplomatic but seeing a party struggle with a single level 130 vampire just made him so darn impatient. If they were that weak, how the hell did they expect to actually claim a Vault?
Word of his encounter with the independent factions hadn’t really spread in the first day since he split up with Roman and the others, but on the second and especially third day, he began to realize many were more apprehensive. Some even just bolted if they noticed him.
Finding out exactly which faction people belonged to was difficult. It wasn’t like everyone had matching uniforms, and many had only joined a faction partly, functioning more as temporary members. Especially the Holy Church and the Noboru clan had many of these, simply due to their sizes and influence.
However, what Jake did become relatively sure of was that the majority of humanity still wasn’t associated with any of the larger and well-known factions. It was just that the large factions were always at the forefront, dominating events and the political arena, pushing the smaller ones to the side. Also, while they may not dominate in numbers, the larger factions dominated in strength.
The people who had ambushed Jake were an excellent example of this. The healer had been level 130, but the vast majority of those levels came from him being a City Lord. His class had been low, and Jake even suspected the guy hadn’t gone for a Perfect Evolution either.
Yet, he had been a significant leader of the independent factions. A bit disappointing, really. Sure, he had no doubt been one of the more powerful people on Earth, maybe even in the top 1% among D-grades, but compared to the top elites of Valhal, the Noboru Clan, or the Holy Church, he wasn’t worth much. In level, maybe, but not strength.
In fact, Jake was fully aware his own level wasn’t that high. The same was true for many others of the top elites or even just those slightly below the top elite. Jake reckoned Neil and all of those in his party could be five to ten levels higher if they had just ignored the Perfect Evolution, if not even more. If Jake chose to neglect his profession and just grind class levels, he would also gain far more levels faster.
The problem with that was how much it would fuck one up further down the line. Villy had told Jake that while leveling fast was all fine and dandy, then it wasn’t something one should actively pursue. The path to godhood wasn’t a sprint, after all. Better to take it slow and steady and do everything well than just rush along. Rushing would mean missing out on many potential titles and Records. Heck, if Jake had just rushed to D-grade, he likely wouldn’t have gained his arcane-affinity and the Arcane Prodigy title.
Jake was thrown out of his thoughts as he exited meditation, sitting in the midst of what could only be described as the scene of a slaughter. Piles of dead vampires littered the valley. All of them had been on the weaker side. However, once they were all dead and he tried to open the actual Vault – which was concealed within a very out-of-place pond – he ended up summoning a damn golem.
So then he had to kill that one too. It wasn’t all bad, though, as Jake finally got a level.
*You have slain [Jadewater Guardian Elemental of Yalsten – Lvl 145] – Bonus experience earned for killing an enemy above your level*
*’DING!’ Class: [Avaricious Arcane Hunter] has reached level 138 - Stat points allocated, +10 Free Points*
*’DING!’ Race: [Human (D)] has reached level 134 - Stat points allocated, +15 Free Points*
It had been four days since he split up with the group from the Rubik’s cube puzzle, and Jake had to admit they hadn’t been as eventful as he had hoped. A lot of time had been spent just running between Vaults as the space between them only widened. He even tried running towards a certain Vault for hours only to see the red pillar suddenly disappear.
This meant that Jake had only managed to clear four other Vaults besides the one he was at right now. That was only about a single Vault a day. At least he had gained two levels in his class from killing guardians and getting through defensive measures during this time.
Jake got up from his mediation as he headed towards the pond again. It was now glowing after the Guardian Elemental was dead – the elemental itself having been a water elemental. The fight with it hadn’t been that interesting as it was just Jake blowing it up with arcane arrows for a few minutes before discovering he could merely shower it in toxic blood and kill it that way.
He stepped onto the lake and felt himself be teleported into another space. Not his first time either. Of the four last Vaults, three had teleported him away, while one had been like the Rubik’s cube and instead sealed off the space around itself. Only one of the Vaults had been focused on combat, too, with the others just being more magic puzzles.
By now, Jake was convinced this Treasure Hunt had some agenda to teach everyone magic theory. Not that he was complaining, he had learned a lot, but he did prefer simply killing stuff. The one Vault requiring him to actually kill stuff had been the best, though, netting him a level in his class and being the fastest besides the first one where he scammed that Nalkar vampire lady.
As for what he had gotten out of these few days? Well, quite a lot. Each Vault appeared to have a legendary-rarity item, but Jake also noticed a pattern with these items. A pattern that became clear the more he got. The first Vault had been a puzzle and had transported him into what seemed like a smithy. He had to get some machine working there. He fucked it up a few times too many and ended up fighting an army of war golems. That probably only sped up the entire challenge as Jake killed them and was finally rewarded with something called a Forgestone.
[Forgestone of Eternal Embers (Legendary)] – A Forgestone infused with incredible quantities of fire-affinity mana. The concept of embers burns strongly within this stone, never allowing the flame ever truly to die out. Unknown alchemical uses.
Jake had no idea how to use it, but he reckoned a blacksmith or someone like that would really appreciate the stone. Besides that one, he didn’t even get any ancient-rarity stuff, just some rare-rarity things and a single epic-rarity spear he wouldn’t use.
Anyway, after that, Jake had done a Vault where he was transported to an empty space with hundreds of stars and planets all around him. He had to somehow map out the correct path of all the celestial objects, and only then did he complete the puzzle – high perception really came in handy in that one. His reward for that? A damn weird item.
[Orrery of the Godless One (Legendary)] – An orrery made by a man who refused to acknowledge any gods during his life but only viewed the celestial concept as worthy of being recognized as divine. This orrery will passively map out all nearby celestial objects and give insight into their basic properties. This effect is entirely passive and cannot be altered by outside means, and may take a significant amount of time. This effect bypasses all attempts to hide or mask these celestial objects done by anything below divine-level skills.
This one was even odder than anything prior. Jake wasn’t even going to waste his time thinking about its uses but just moved on.
The next Vault had been the one that didn’t transport him to another land. Instead, the entire area around him had changed and warped into an odd illusion of how Yalsten had likely once been. There, he had to talk to illusory vampires of ages past to figure out the true path into the Vault and-
Anyway, he cheesed it with his Sphere of Perception after figuring out the goal. It still ended up taking a while as he had to figure out what the fuck to do first. In the illusion, he met several people who talked about some weird stuff until he finally figured out he just had to find a special tree. Locating the tree was probably meant to be difficult, but the moment he heard of it, it also appeared in the real world outside the illusion.
On to the loot.
[Paint Brush of Ephemeral Power (Legendary)] – A brush made from the wood of an ancient tree with a powerful time-affinity. The concept of time has been further amplified by using the hair of a C-grade Temporal Fox variant. All paintings or illustrations made by this brush will hold significantly higher effects; however, they will also cease to be within a short amount of time. Allows the user to release a blast of Ephemeral Power, having unpredictable effects based on the last five creations made using this brush. This effect cannot cause direct harm to others.
Requirements: lvl 140+ in any humanoid race.
This one was a lot more simple than anything else. Once, he found the tree in the real world and placed his hand upon it as it transformed from a tree into a single small wooden brush along with an ancient-level bo-staff. He put them away and moved on, having little use for either.
In the fourth and final Vault, before the one he had just entered, he was faced with another kind of magic puzzle. It was one he didn’t do alone. Instead, he ended up working with a bunch of random people – nearly a hundred or so. It was all about crafting and creating weapons to fulfill some quota, and there Jake noticed the system only really cared about the rarity and level requirements of weapons.
So Jake kinda cheesed that too by transmuting nearly all the crafted weapons with his arcane-affinity, making them useless quasi-Soulbound items, before feeding them to the mechanism to unlock the Vault. It had sped up the process significantly, and in the end, Jake was given – totally voluntarily, not at all because people were a bit scared of him – the best reward.
By far the best reward for him personally, too.
[Supreme Carbonic Focusing Catalyst (Legendary)] – This item is made of a rare type of carbon and is known to be able to bond and mix with most other materials in existence, making it incredibly potent as a catalyst in most crafting endeavors. This Carbonic Focusing Catalyst is of extremely high quality and has absorbed affinity-less mana to allow itself to grow for countless years, making it reach legendary-rarity. Has a wide variety of uses in alchemical creations and will increase the power of most crafts where this item is used as a catalyst.
Jake had come across these kinds of items before in texts. They were incredibly valuable and the sort of things half his alchemist skills talked about when they mentioned how a Catalyst could enhance the final product. The Catalyst itself was just a small, perfectly black marble-like ball that was incredibly durable. Yet as he held it, Jake was acutely aware it would easily melt to Alchemical Flame. He wasn’t sure what he would use it for, but this was the one he wanted to keep the most out of everything.
These were all the legendary-rarity items he achieved so far. He had shared some loot at other places if others had helped, and also at one point because he felt sorry for others. There had been a party trapped in the illusory space with the tree since the first day the Vaults opened, and Jake gave them some rare-rarity stuff, as he kind of came in and swept up all the loot.
As for what else he would use all these legendary items for? Well, he would have to ask Miranda, but if Haven had no use, one had to remember a tiny little detail… this Treasure Hunt wouldn’t be the end of this event. It would be followed shortly by an auction. An auction to sell off all the useless stuff and extra items everyone gained during this Hunt. Jake was certain there would be many ancient-rarity items acquired by every faction, and Jake was more than looking forward to it.
In regard to the legendary-rarity items, it also quickly became obvious they all had a certain theme. Not a single one of them was a weapon or even a tool that could be directly used. The brush kind of could, but that was for a profession and even stated the effect couldn’t cause direct harm to others.
These were not items to cause more war or destruction but to infuse Earth with rare and valuable Natural Treasures along with created ones from this ancient civilization. They existed to push the Earthlings further and speed up their progress on the path of creation.
Well, okay, there was some good shit too when it came to equipment made to be worn.
Of all the equipment he found, he didn’t really find many worthwhile objects. Except for some fucking reason, he found three rings. The first one was a rare-rarity ring from the first of the three Vaults. He had happily taken it on, it increasing his mental stats.
Then in the next Vault, he got another rare-rarity ring, this one increasing his agility and perception. Jake was over the fucking moon at it. It was so much better than the shitty Ring of Brilliance he had gotten from Abby’s body way back then, with its measly +50 Intelligence, +50 Wisdom, +35 Willpower enchantment.
Yet in that exact same Vault, he also got one more ring that he only noticed a minute after being so happy at the first one. He hadn’t known what to expect, but when he had used Identify on it, he hadn’t been disappointed. Far from it.
[Ring of the Starseer (Ancient)] – A ring once worn by a powerful Starseer. The Starseer sought to comprehend the celestial concept and intimately understand the stars, and this ring was made to do exactly that. Allows the wearer to use the Starseer ability inherent in the ring. The Starseer ability significantly reduces visual distortion caused by the space and celestial-affinity. This effect can also be activated to temporarily grant the wearer the ability to peer at a far-away pre-known celestial object. Enchantments: +400 Perception, +200 Wisdom. Starseer.
Requirements: lvl 130+ in any humanoid race.
Needless to say, he tossed it on and was now happy as a clam. At least he was happy.
Back in the present, Jake had just entered the water to explore his fifth Vault. The pond he entered through had been at the very edge of the world where he saw space break apart just in front of it. Jake even had to get through some spatial distortion to get there – him having chosen this Vault partly to test out the Starseeker ability.
However, the moment he appeared inside the Vault, Jake’s eyes opened wide as he felt himself float.
Fuck me, he thought.
It was a fucking water level.