The King and Jake’s fight had been equal in many ways, but in as many ways as it was equal, it was completely unbalanced. The King was stronger than Jake in some areas, that was clear. The King was also more durable than Jake for sure with that insane barrier, and had quite a few ridiculously powerful attacks… but he also only had ridiculously powerful attacks, outside of the usual telekinesis.

On the other hand, Jake won out big in speed and agility, as well as diversity. One could argue the King did not need it, but Jake would argue he did… because if it really came down to it, Jake would never lose to the King as he was now. Because if it ever got dangerous, he could always just leave. The King was like a mighty, almost stationary, tower that fired out telekinetic certain death, but was otherwise rooted.

Of course, the King still had that final soul attack, and if the King decided to use it with the intent to kill, Jake wasn’t sure he would survive. If he was hit, that is. He had not lied when he said he thought he could outrun it, especially if it triggered Moment of the Primal Hunter, as it no doubt would if it was a lethal attack.

The overall conclusion of the fight… one they both agreed with… neither could beat the other, yet neither doubted they could lose. The King noted that while Jake could continue to attack from range, the King would be able to wait him out and block or just flee by flying away while dodging.

“I still think I could find a way,” Jake commented, mainly to himself. If anything, a long enough fight would give him a chance to comprehend the King well enough to summon an Arrow of the Ambitious Hunter… a level of understanding he was still not at.

“And I have grounds to believe I can find ways to avoid losing, and at worst, assure mutual destruction,” the King countered, adding on almost smugly, “as killing you would be just that. Mutual destruction.”

Jake just shook his head at their childish conversation. He sat back in his chair and just relaxed as he stared at the sky. “How are you that strong anyway? Like… how many stats do you get per level in D-grade in total?”

“300 total,”the King answered, clearly seeing no purpose in hiding something like that.

“… what the actual fuck?” Jake blurted out as he sat up abruptly. “That is like… fucking insane.”

Jake got a total of 229 stats for his profession, class, and race put together per level. That is naturally not counting his “of the Malefic Viper” skills, but the King got more than he did even if he counted those. Heck… the maximum Jake could get – as his race was not upgradeable – was 249 stats total. And that was if he got a class giving a 100 per level and a profession giving 80, AKA perfection. His current ones that gave 74 and 86 were already fucking good. Heck, his profession was incredibly close to the cap.

Yet the King just had more. It was utterly bonkers.

Were Unique Lifeforms just so stupidly overpowered or what? But… even then… Jake still wasn’t sure how the King could match him. Maybe he had more stats per level, but Jake had all his titles, elixirs, equipment, and all of that stuff. That is why monsters gained more stats than Jake ever could as a human… because he had equipment to gain stats from.

But… 300 was the max, as in, the absolute maximum a monster could get per level in D-grade. It was one only a true pinnacle creature could get.

“This does make me wonder… do you have any titles?” he asked the King. He had to have some, right?

“A mere handful, only two of them of true consequence. One is naturally my title as a rightful King, and the other as a Unique Lifeform as the system has chosen to name me,” the King answered, really staying true to his politic of openness.

“Unique Lifeform is a title?” Jake asked, it actually making a lot of sense. It was maybe a bit like how the twelve Primordials were called Primordials due to their title, right? That all Unique Lifeforms were also united by that one title they all had in common. It did still make him wonder, though. “What does it do?”

“That, I will not answer, for there are secrets even I shall keep. But I will share that the primary function of it is the 50% bonus to all stats.”

And that confirmed it. Unique Lifeforms were just fucking bullshit. Best stats, an absolutely overpowered title from birth, and what else? The King had never learned to fucking fight and didn’t seem like he had struggled to upgrade his skills… yet he clearly rocked ones of incredibly high rarity. It just felt unfair.

“There gotta be drawbacks somewhere,” Jake said, more or less just speaking his thoughts out loud.

“Of which there are few, but they do exist. Such as the inability for those as I to obtain the blessings of gods,” the Fallen King explained.

“Not that bad,” Jake muttered. Sure, the King lost out on the stat bonuses from a blessing, but one needed a pretty high-level one to even get stats. Maybe he also missed out on some other titles too, but it didn’t seem that bad.

“Wait, you said you had the King title? As in, the actual nobility title?” Jake suddenly recalled. The entire 50% title had been a bit more important in his head, so he had kind of skipped over that part.

“Naturally,” the King answered unabashedly.

“… I didn’t even know anyone else except enlightened species could get nobility titles,” Jake admitted. Heck, he was pretty damn sure they couldn’t. He had tried to give Sylphie a nobility title for the heck of it – primarily because he thought it would be fun to have others call her Lord Sylphie – and that time, it hadn’t worked.

“I was born with the nobility title and skills related to nobility. I did not obtain it, but I did upgrade it as I conquered my weak world. I was known as the Lord of the Forest back then and only adopted the moniker of King after I gained the title. And while I am still a King, I no longer dare proclaim myself the owner of any domain,” the Unique Lifeform answered, explaining some things Jake quite frankly just found odd.

How the hell was one born a noble? Some Unique Lifeform bullshit? Also… how did he change his name like that?

“I’ve been meaning to ask, what exactly is the name of your race? Like, I know you are a Unique Lifeform, but what is on your status?”

“Fallen King. Do you not possess any identification skill?” the King asked admonishingly. “Or are you merely confused that I do not find myself constrained to a single name? Why does that concept confuse a human? Does your race not possess endless names for other humans?”

“Yeah, but my race is human. The name is something different… it’s just something we call each other. You know, to know the difference between people and know who we are talking about,” Jake answered, wondering why he was explaining the concept of names.

“And if there is only one of your race, then would the name you chose to adopt not merely be synonymous with your race? Does the distinction matter when there is only one, and can ever only be one?”

That… actually made a lot of sense to Jake. Huh. Wait… were gods the same? Was that why their names were more or less just their titles or what people called them or whatever? There was only a single god like them too, and as far as Jake knew, you didn’t just get simply get a “god” from identifying one.

“Good point,” Jake admitted as he asked the ultimate question. “So, what happens now? We have an agreement, right? No fucking with each other or the other’s business for unnecessary reasons, and we both agree to look for a solution to get you free.”

“That is indeed the core of it. As for the final part, I shall look into a solution on my lonesome. I forged the bond, and I shall be the one to find a method of breaking it. All it will require is your active participation and support to make it happen,” the King answered.

“Any idea how long it will take?”

“No… so you will have to continue progressing, as I fear it may be impossible while still in this grade. I am not certain of the effect of surpassing you in level or even if it is possible either,” the Unique Lifeform explained, adding on. “In the meantime, I see no purpose for us to stay shackled to one another in anything but soul. I have no desire to follow you around after being trapped for so many years on a useless planet and then within your Soulspace.”

“Fair enough. But can you? Aren’t we linked? What are the restrictions?” Jake asked for clarification.

“You underestimate the powers of the soul. We are linked through the mask which you wear, as it contains the most important part of mine, while this vessel before you is all of my power. The two masks are forever bound, space mattering little before a bond of absolute concept. But I shall keep my word and am not ignorant to that I owe you, so use the mask to bring me if you require my assistance. Additionally, I know the location of your city and can find you at any point if I require your attention, while you should be able to detect my location too.”

“No way to communicate?” Jake asked after hearing the lengthy explanation.

“I believe neither of us would feel comfortable with such a constant connection of which I could influence you at all times. Invade your dreams, shape your thoughts, and influence your emotions. Such a connection holds a lot of power, which you humans seem ignorant to. But I guess the gods need you controlled through some method,” the Unique Lifeform said mockingly.

“If my Patron is trying to control me, he is doing a pretty damn shitty job at it,” Jake joked.

“Or a job so flawless you are unable to detect anything amiss,” the King answered.

“In that case, all credit to him,” Jake shrugged as he decided to change the topic. “So, as you plan on going on a bit of an adventure, where are you heading off to?”

“Unknown as of now… you must understand; It has been a long time since I was anywhere with anything worth battling. On this planet, there exist creatures I cannot defeat, armies worth of beasts with levels equal to mine. An endless path of growth lies before me, and I aim to claim it,” the King said.

Jake related to that feeling as he nodded in encouragement. “Then go dominate some innocent place. Just don’t slaughter any human settlements or humans in general. The fact that we are connected will come out eventually, and I would prefer to avoid being known as someone behind a senseless genocide.”

“Tribalism I have a hard time comprehending. Why put more stock on the kill of a human over another race? Ah, I guess that is simply another trait of you ordinary lifeforms. But I shall take my leave and leave your ilk alone if possible. As for you, I would recommend that you recover before you begin the curse ritual. Additionally, take this as a safety measure.”

The King opened his palm as golden energy began to gather, and soon a small bead was formed, looking like a golden metal ball with black streaks running through it. Jake frowned as he identified it.

[Soul Marble of the Fallen King (Epic)] – A Soul Marble created by the Unique Lifeforms known as the Fallen King. When consumed, temporarily empower your soul, giving resistance to outside influence. The energy within the bead will be consumed as your soul comes under strain. This marble will disperse into the environment within a week.

“Don’t tell me you just made that,” Jake muttered, visibly annoyed.

“Do not think it a simple matter; I cannot make them often and use them myself to further empower my soul and attacks,” the King answered.

Jake didn’t even wanna comment on the level of bullshit to be able to have a skill to instantly summon what was essentially an epic-rarity natural treasure as he just took it and shoed the King off. The Unique Lifeform clearly took pleasure in his exasperation as he bid his farewell.

“Till we meet again, hunter. May your hunt be bountiful and your progress swift. Simply use the mask if you require my presence. And remember… I have a debt to pay. Do not hesitate to call upon me if it will be to your benefit.”

With those words, the Fallen King lifted himself off the ground as he took flight in a direction away from both Skyggen and Haven. Out into the unknown, where Jake had never been before or knew anything about.

“Enjoy your newfound freedom!” Jake yelled after the King as he flew away quite a lot slower than during their battle. Jake knew why… both of them were still weakened from their boosting skills earlier. Luckily, it would soon expire as neither of them had been boosting for very long.

As he waited, Jake decided to finally get a peek at the mask to see what had changed about it. Taking it off, he saw not a single change on it visually, and his Identify responded just as before, proving it was indeed still an item.

[Mask of the Fallen King (Unique)] – The Mask and vessel of the Truesoul of the Fallen King, a mighty Unique Lifeform. The mask is made of a wood-like material unique to the lifeform it comes from and does not obstruct vision when worn, and regenerates itself from any damage taken. The Fallen King has anchored his existence to this mask, and as its owner, you are the master, allowing you to summon the Fallen King to your location at any time. Enchantments: Vessel of the Fallen King. Passively absorbs mana in the atmosphere, increasing mana recovery rate by a large amount. Increases maximum mana by 25%.
Requirements: Soulbound

There were quite a few changes to the description but firstly was the changed rarity. This was Jake’s first time seeing a unique piece of equipment, even if he assumed they had to exist out there. The description also noted how the Truesoul of the King resided within, making Jake confused, as he didn’t get how the King could move around without that.

Then again… was it a bit like a lich? Jake knew about liches, as they worked a lot like they did in usual fantasy. They had a phylactery with the Truesoul in it, and as long as that remained, they would be effectively immortal. This seemed to be somewhat similar, except the King mentioned how he could still potentially experience true death if he was killed in his current form.

Finally, on the list of changes was what the King talked about… he could outright summon him. When he focused on that part of the description, the system was kind enough to make him instinctively aware of how it worked… and it was just a straight-up summon. It took some time to “cast,” but it did not appear to have a range limit.

God damn Unique Lifeform bullshit.

First Transcendents and now bloody Unique Lifeforms. Jake was beginning to feel a bit less like a special little boy with his Bloodline every time he discovered another of these so obviously overpowered system elements.

Not to be discouraged, because Jake still did not hold a shadow of doubt in his mind that he would still come out on top above all of these admittedly supremely talented and powerful individuals. There was nothing he would not become able to hunt with time.

He was the Primal Hunter, after all.

Still feeling a bit weak, Jake closed his eyes as he leaned back further on the chair and entered meditation. Mentally, he began going over his plan for the curse ritual a few more times, still holding the golden marble in his hand, giving him a bit more confidence.

Jake was fully aware what he was about to do was reckless, if not downright stupid. When he focused his mind to his fullest, he faintly felt presences deep below him. All the termites in the upper layers of the deep underground network had either died or fled down due to the battle between the King and Jake. Down there, he felt auras of insectoid monsters or other dwellers of the deep, or as he would soon refer to them as, fuel to sate his hunger.

A note from Zogarth

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