Throughout the multiverse, different species and races were famous for different things. Humans were famed for their diversity and their ability to become nearly everything. You could meet humans as strong and tough as the most powerful beasts or mages with magic and skills that employ concepts in line with the most powerful elementals or spirits.
A cat-like monster would often be agile and fast. A fish would excel underwater and have skills well-suited for underwater combat. Among all these species, some were more famous than others. Not only for their relative strength but that it simply was a powerful race.
Unique Lifeforms, beings that were not truly a race in themselves, stood at the pinnacle of this. Any Unique Lifeform was an existence that all knew were powerful solely by hearing what they were, but this was far from limited to only them. Some races existed out there that fell under other archetypes but were nevertheless extremely powerful simply due to the subcategory their race fell into.
The most famous of these were what humans before the system often referred to as mythical beasts. A phoenix, no matter what, would be a powerful beast by courtesy of being a phoenix. The krakens, champions of the sea, chimeras, beings that could adapt to nearly any foe and had oh-so-many abilities. Yet, one creature was more known than any of these: dragons.
There did not exist a creature with the word dragon in its name that was weak. Dragons naturally also had subcategories, but all of them were powerful. There were lesser types of dragon-like monsters, also known as wyverns, land drakes, or such things, but these were not True Dragons.
The word dragon also came with certain expectations. Assumed abilities that one would be correct about, for all dragons had at least two skills.
Dragon’s Breath was a destructive weapon heightened to a concept in itself. The form these breaths took could vary widely. A blue frost dragon would, as expected, spew something ice-related, while the classical red dragons would no doubt release fire. Yet all of these breaths had one thing in common: their unimaginable power.
Jake had read in a book that the weakest Dragon’s Breath ever recorded was of legendary-rarity, which means most were above even that. He had seen the Viper release his breath and seen the power therein. This would be enough for most to fear dragons, but their other trait made them absolute nightmares to deal with if you attempted to slay one.
Dragon Scales. Known as the bane of all magic, these scales would make any mage grit their teeth in anger. More often than not, it would be useless to try and cast magic on a similarly leveled dragon unless you yourself were also a supreme genius.
Naturally, the nature of these scales also varied. Many simply provided ridiculous defense and magic nullification, and the scales always resisted magic more effective based on the dragon’s own affinity. That is to say, using frost magic against a blue dragon was double stupid.
What Jake acquired wasn’t true dragon scales. He wasn’t a dragon, so it would be very weird if he did. However, if he had picked the Malefic Dragonkin race back then, there actually was a chance he could have gotten them by now.
Instead, what he had was imitations of dragon scales. They served much the same function but weren’t simply a passive ability he had at all times. Jake had a feeling he could take his scales in that direction if he wanted, one day making them a permanent fixture, but he really didn’t want to as he would rather upgrade them in other ways.
Also, Jake’s version of the scales did have one small drawback.
“Holy fucking shit, it hurts,” Jake said, it naturally just coming out as water bubbles as he floated there, the massive frame of the dead Eel Lord beneath him. The scales on his body were all supercharged with energy, slowly being refined, but a lot of it couldn’t be. So what did this energy do?
It directly damaged his own health pool, which was essentially a minor soul attack. It fucking hurt, to put it mildly. His decision of simply tanking all the power the eel had at once hadn’t been the smartest and was honestly risky as hell, but hey, he got the job done.
He also discovered that he couldn’t dispel his scales if they were charged with any magic. Jake even tried to cut off some scales but saw that it didn’t do shit as new ones automatically regrew, the old charge within. So yeah, he couldn’t hack the system that way.
Soldiering through the pain, Jake instead focused his attention on the corpse of the eel. He felt something within it, and with his blades, quickly dug out what looked like an oddly-shaped heart.
[Giant Fulgarian Eel Lord Heart (Rare)] – The heart of a Giant Fulgarian Eel Lord. This heart has potent lightning-affinity energy within and will passively generate electricity if infused with mana. Many alchemical uses.
It was nearly the size of Jake’s entire body, and when Jake infused some mana into it, it beat like the eel was still alive. Very freaky. He tossed it in his inventory as he moved on, still wanting to exit the Vault sooner rather than later. Oh, and to get the loot.
Diving down, Jake encountered yet another opening, this one larger than any of the others, and coming out of it, he saw countless cables. The cables went to the pillars spread across the room, each of them fastened to the bottom.
Could I have broken the cables to make the eel unable to absorb electricity? Jake asked himself. He quickly tested it as he fired a crystalline arcane bolt into a cable and saw the bolt easily pierce it. Guess I could. Huh.
He entered the next area, and to his surprise, found that when he went through the barrier, he did not find water on the other side. Instead, he found air. As he had just hurried through, his entire body suddenly found itself falling to the floor, and to say it felt weird would be an understatement.
Momentarily he felt like his entire body was weightless before it suddenly felt like it weighed a ton. He fell straight down onto the floor, bracing himself. At the same time, he actively pumped mana out, not only due to his scales but also just from his constant cycle of water mana to adapt. It felt weird as hell to suddenly leave the depths and into a normal atmosphere so suddenly.
Jake laid there on the ground for a while as he collected himself. He had quite a few things to focus on, including expanding his sphere a bit to get a look at the room he was now in, all the meanwhile dealing with the scales and adapting to not being under the crushing weight of that odd water-affinity-concept-thing.
The new room he was in was quite small compared to any of the others but was far cleaner and well-maintained. Instruments lined the wall, a single bookshelf with books on it that looked unaffected by the moisture, and overall there was a lot of stuff that looked to be worth swiping. Especially two things stood out. One was an altar with a large tome placed on it with an orb right next to it, while the other was a large bowl of water placed on a pedestal. He noticed that some of the water from above had dripped down as he fell and landed in the bowl of water – clearly by design.
He lifted himself off the floor as he walked closer to the bowl and looked within. There, he saw a stone no larger than a child’s fist at the bottom of the newly-fallen water. Jake focused on the stone as he used Identify.
[Dewstone of Serenity (Legendary)] – A small stone created by the combined effort of a group of water nymphs to help heal a close friend. This stone was eventually acquired by a powerful vampire and brought to Yalsten, where it has been ever since. Will passively transform surrounding water by infusing the power of serenity into it. Effect lessens, and the transformation process becomes slower the larger the pool of water. Has many alchemical uses.
Well, this is interesting, Jake thought as he looked at the stone. It looked simple and non-descript, and if it didn’t give off the aura it did, he would easily mistake it for some random stone found anywhere. It did look like it had been polished by water quite a bit like it had come from a beach or a lake or something, but other than that, nothing.
He also felt it influence the water around it, but as the water had just dropped there, it had yet to be fully affected. Thus, he decided to not touch the bowl quite yet but moved to the altar with the large tome and the orb.
The tome looked faintly familiar to him, and it didn’t take him long before he made the connection. He had seen two of these before, once when he got his profession for the first time and the other after he killed the Great White Stag. Identify confirmed it truly was such an item.
[Akashic Tome of the Fulgarian Depthcaller (Unique)] – Allows the user to acquire the class Fulgarian Depthcaller if compatible.
Requirements: Lvl 99-199 in any class. Compatible user.
It was exactly what he expected. From all the research Jake had done, Akashic tomes were quite rare but not impossible to create. However, they did still take significant investment, meaning all of them were considered very valuable. Of course, it all ultimately depended on how good the given class actually was.
The other item on the altar was an orb that clearly came with the tome.
[Storage Orb of the Fulgarian Depthcaller (Ancient)] – A storage orb containing items to assist a Fulgarian Depthcaller, including equipment and guidance. This orb is near-indestructible by anyone below A-grade, and any item within will be destroyed if the orb is.
Requirements: Fulgarian Depthcaller
This one was a bit surprising. Would one just be handed the class a full set of equipment and supportive items or something? That seemed a bit excessive. Jake himself didn’t have any use for it, but it would probably fetch a pretty penny in the big auction after the Hunt. Surely there would be a bonus for having a set, right? Package deal and all that.
Now, he still had to figure out how good the class was, and he had a feeling the bookshelf would help him answer that. Jake waltzed up to it, his scales disappearing one by one meanwhile. By now, most of his scales had vanished as the mana within was neutralized, and he was beginning to feel back to normal after being so suddenly de-compressed.
The bookshelf held around thirty books, all of them seemingly related to the class, the Vault, and generally just stuff about water magic and such. Jake didn’t want to check them all out now, but he did find one book aptly named Fulgarian Depthcaller.
Jake opened it and quickly skimmed a few pages to get some basic knowledge of the class. He came to learn that the class had once belonged to an A-class vampire King of Yalsten, and this entire Vault had been created with the intent of preserving his own legacy.
The book included quite the detailed description of the class as well as a damn history lesson about how the King got his class after training for many years underwater. There, he had battled and trained with eels learning from their powers and slowly beginning to mimmick them. Before that, he had already been a lightning mage, and through his evolution, he had merged water and electricity.
Exact details on the class were limited, but just the fact that an A-grade found it worthy of creating an Akashic Tome of and leave behind for future generations should say something. Jake put all of the books and the bookshelf in the Hunter Insignia. Some of them he would keep for himself, while others he would use to heighten the price during the auction.
Taking another look around the room, Jake once more noted how everything seemed to be in far better condition than anywhere else. A bit like a Count’s chamber. Considering that… wouldn’t it be a shame to just leave it behind? Surely it would.
In all his generosity, Jake began ripping everything off the walls, burning the instruments from their fastenings, and putting anything in his inventory if humanly possible. Computer-looking devices, shiny pieces of metal, even some wall platings were ripped loose and thrown in there.
It took him a good half an hour to tear the room apart and take everything that looked to be even vaguely of value. He even ripped down a lot of the wiring leading up to the chamber above. He did remember copper cables selling quite well before the system, so magical high-conductivity wires had to sell well, too, right?
With everything done and looted, he turned his attention towards the one item still left in the room, one he had left for last on purpose.
He returned to the bowl of water and, this time, noticed a difference. The water in it had changed and now gave off quite a bit of mana, making him naturally use Identify on it.
[Serene Water (Rare)] – This water calms the mind of anyone who consumes it, allowing them to more easily focus while suppressing the effects of most mental afflictions. Continued consumption will help heal minor soul injuries. Has many alchemical uses.
Jake smiled. He was reasonably confident he had just found something very useful for the future. Lifting up the bowl, he took a small sip of the water, feeling a cool stream go through his body. He felt his mind soothe a bit, the mental stress of constantly having had the adaption process going lessening. It was some good shit. He quickly scooped up the entire bowl, including the water and Dewstone within.
Now, with all of that done, Jake sat down on his ass and entered meditation to fully recuperate as he turned his attention towards the next subject on his to-do list:
*Avaricious Arcane Hunter class skills available*
As Jake spent far too long inside the damn water level Vault, the Treasure Hunt outside progressed as before for the most part. However, something had changed. Before, working together and progressing towards mutual goals had been the norm, with human-on-human conflict being rare, often only happening if pre-existing antagonism existed.
Now, things had changed. When around three days remained, the Court of Shadows changed their MO. Their goal changed from seeking out Vaults themselves to claiming the loot from what had already been opened.
Them doing this led to a cascade effect, changing the dynamic when people met. No longer would it simply be apprehensive greetings, but instead, chances are it would lead to a straight-up battle. No one trusted each other, and many believed this had been a part of the Court’s plan from the start.
It allowed them to swoop into the battles of others and claim all the treasures, being the premier masters of stealth and deceit within the Hunt. Another thing that certainly didn’t help was rumors that some members of the Court could change their appearance and even aura, appearing to be someone else. A recording of this soon surfaced, showing a man suddenly transformed into an assassin with two guns donning a black metal mask and ambushing the people who thought he was a member of their own faction.
Some factions were hit harder than others by this. The Holy Church had already bunkered down and centralized their loot in their base within a tower, making it impossible to claim much of what they had. Members would just send everything of value there with heavily protected escorts, meaning the members of the church rarely carried anything of value on their person. The undead were still rarely seen and moved in large groups. This meant that primarily the Noboru Clan, Valhal, and all the independent factions were hit repeatedly, forcing them to change their tactics and group up more.
One of the only factions generally left alone – at least to begin with – was Haven. Rumors of Jake’s slaughter when ambushed had spread far and wide, and the Court naturally left the members of Haven alone. They seemed to be the only ones viewed as untouchable until something else happened.
The tower in which the Court of Shadows had set up their base of operations was attacked. Not by an army, but a single man. Their barriers were broken, the defenders forced to leave or face death, and all the supportive staff escaped through their Insignias. In the end, only those not in the tower and a few elite members managed to escape – including a heavily injured Judge. More than two hundred members of the Court either died or had to leave the Hunt within less than an hour.
After that… no one dared to go after the Noboru Clan either, lest they face the wrath of the Sword Saint.