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Ch040-Scientia Potentia Est

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“How the fuck did you go up 10 levels in 2 days?” Arty asked, almost stuttering over his words, as he adjusted his glasses.

1 day technically.

“Uh… Hard work, perseverance, and a bit of luck. I’ve got the samples here.” Sylver said, placing the case onto the desk and opening it up.

Arty just stared at him, and didn’t even look down at the thing before closing it and hiding it away behind the table.

When he didn’t move to give Sylver the skill or said anything Sylver spoke.

“So… the skill?” Sylver asked, pulling his hood back. It was incredibly convenient to have the mask tucked away under his robe and one single motion away from covering his face. Although he did loosen his front teeth a little when he misjudged the curve of his pectoral muscles, and got the angle wrong.

Arty remained silent and continued to stare at Sylver. He moved his hand through his beard and seemed to pause at something inside of it. Sylver guessed it was the wand he had hidden in there, and did his absolute best to express with his face that he knew exactly what Arty was thinking, and that it was a bad idea.

Arty just kept his hand inside the beard, as the entire shop seemed to freeze, only the sound of one of the large clocks on the walls making a consistent ticking noise.

Arty glanced behind himself, but couldn’t see a thing there. Although he was certain he felt something moving behind him.

Finishing the unbelievably slow stroke of his beard, Sylver was glad to see Arty’s hand was still empty.

“What level is your appraisal skill at?” Arty asked, adjusting his glasses as if nothing had happened.

“Level one. I haven’t had the time to take the courses to increase it properly.” Sylver answered.

“That’s going to be a bit of a problem. I was going to first show you how it looked when I used it, but since all you can see is race, a vague class and only up to 10 levels, you won’t be able to tell how effective it is when I’m using it. Try to appraise me.” Arty offered.

[]

“Huh… That’s... oddly unsettling.” Sylver said, having a slight problem focusing on the ‘nothing’ message.

“Scares the living shit out of some monsters too,” Arty added, walking around the table and standing next to Sylver.

“Do you have any stealth related skills? Like [Lurk], [Hide], [Stealth] or any variation of the sort?” Arty asked, sitting Sylver down on a small chair.

“I can suppress my presence, but I don’t have a skill for it,” Sylver answered.

“Weird. So wait, you know how to hide, but don’t have a skill for it?” Arty asked, sitting down opposite Sylver and interlocking his fingers.

“My unique class kind of circumvents some skills.” Sylver lied.

Arty just stared at him again. “Right… Anyway... Do your best to hide and tell me when you get the skill. You need to attempt to hide from appraisal about 100 times to get it.” Arty said, getting slightly more comfortable in his seat.

“It’s that easy?” Sylver asked.

“Well no. You also need for a person with a level 25 or above appraisal to be the one doing the appraising. And there’s another condition that must be met that I can’t tell you, only that I meet it. There are variants of this skill, but they normally have really specific requirements of when people won’t be able to see your status.”

“For a magic user, this one is the best. It’ll use up about 50MP every time it blocks someone from reading your status, but you can choose whether to have it constantly on or not. I’m not entirely sure how it will evolve with whatever classes you have, but at level 3 there’s an effect that’s particularly useful, that requires you to have perfectly predicted the status of a monster you just killed. My advice is to go find the weakest goblin you can, and keep guessing until you get lucky with the attribute distribution.” Arty explained.

“Ready? Just try to hide from it as much as you can, without leaving that chair. This is one of those where the effort is more important than the actual effectiveness.” Arty finished, already starting.

Sylver couldn’t feel feel anything, but somehow he could tell that his status was being looked at. Or some small portion of it at least.

His dark robe unraveled ever so slightly and stretched out to cover his hands and boots, the hood popping back up and stretching down and over his face. He sat there perfectly still, completely sealed inside his robe and looking at Arty through tears on the face area that worked as eye holes.

Arty raised an eyebrow as smoke came out of the surface of the robe and further blurred it and ‘hid’ Sylver. Lastly, he completely sucked up every drop of mana and sealed it inside himself completely disappearing from Arty’s mana sense.

The two just sat there, Sylver staring at the man doing his absolute best to hide, and Arty just looking at him.

For almost an hour.

Sylver spent the time circulating the mana inside himself, doing the same exercise he had done as a child. From the core in his chest, down the left arm, all the fingers from the thumb to the pinky, up the left arm, down the torso, down the left leg, big toe to little toe, up the left leg… Making a full cycle through his body and seeing how quickly he could move the mana around.

It was useful in that he got better acquainted with Ciege’s body, and that Sylver got a reminder of how horrendous his conductivity was. The fact that he wasn’t constantly burning through his channels was purely because he had enough sense and control not to overdo things.

[Skill: Conceal Status (I)]
Skill level can be increased by repeat-

[Skill [Conceal Status (I)] has been removed]

[Trait: Faceless]
-If the user’s face is not visible; status, skills, perks, traits, effects, attributes, HP, MP, and stamina will be hidden.
*For the trait to be active at least 66.66% of the face must not be visible.

“Huh…” Sylver said, reading through the trait and trying to figure out where it came from.

“What?” Arty asked, not even paying attention to the information his appraisal skill was giving him. Until he saw that it was completely blank.

“Did you just get a conversion?” Arty asked, leaning forward and blinking quickly to get sleep and boredom out of his eyes.

“Conversion?” Sylver asked, half guessing what that meant, but wanting to be certain.

“You must be…” Arty coughed into his fist and swallowed whatever it was he was about to say and started over. “You know how some classes restrict your skills? For example, you won’t be able to get a blocking skill or any sword related skill, unless you have a warrior class? Conversion is kind of a positive version of that. You won’t be able to get skill A but you’ll get a similar substitution skill B instead.” Arty explained, trying to appraise Sylver again, but getting nothing but an empty box in return.

Arty stood up from his chair, but paused while staring at Sylver.

“Do you know what synthesis is?” Arty asked.

Sylver shrugged his shoulders ‘no’ as his robe went back to its normal shape and size, his face becoming visible again.

“If you tell me how you went up 10 levels in 2 days, I’ll tell you. You’ll figure it out eventually on your own if you continue at this pace, but it would still be very useful information to have.” Arty offered.

Sylver thought about it for a moment, and decided he didn’t really see the harm in telling him.

“I killed a countless number of ants by using fire to set off explosions in a chain reaction. And then I found and killed about 80 people, each around 10 or 20 levels higher than me.” Sylver said, with a calm tone, and an ever so slight grin.

Arty just stared at him. He stroked his beard several times before responding.

“I don’t believe you.” He said finally, sitting back down and crossing his arms over his beard.

“I’m sorry to hear that. So what did you mean by synthesis exactly?” Sylver asked, leaning back in his chair and pulling out a small notebook and pencil.

“You couldn’t have done that much in just 2 days. You’d need to have killed 2 people every hour, and who knows how many ants on top of that.” Arty reasoned, looking down at the small notebook in Sylver’s hands.

“I did them in batches. First the ants, then the people. Now how does synthesis work? Is it just for skills, or is it classes too?”

“No, but still you’d have to-”

“You said if I told you how I went up 10 levels, you’d tell me about synthesis. I told you. Whether you choose to believe me or not, is up to you but my part of the deal is done. I hope you’re not about to make a person who looks to be 60 years younger than you, lecture you on the importance of choosing your words carefully.” Sylver said, trying to sound as polite as possible, but ending up sounding smug and puffed up instead.

Arty opened his mouth for a moment, before he closed it and Sylver watched as Arty moved his mana around to his neck and hands. He then relaxed and let it spread out through his body and started to very lightly laugh, letting the wand hidden up his sleeve go back to where it was.

“You’ve got me there. The day I’m too proud to admit I’m wrong or keep my word is the day I die. But just to be clear, this doesn’t count. My guard wasn’t up” Arty said with his hands slightly raised, showing them both being empty.

“Of course not. I know very well how friendly I look, and how disarming my charming smile is. I am not above abusing that to my advantage, so don’t feel too bad about it. So synthesis?”

“Fine, fine. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Classes and skills can synthesize to create a new class or a new skill. With skills specifically, a skill needs to be the same level as another skill for the possibility of synthesis to occur. For example, there’s a skill called [Cinder]. It’s fire-based, essentially just a specialized fire manipulation skill. But if you have it along with wood or earth manipulation, and they are both the same level, they can get combined into [Ember]. Which does more damage than the sum of the parent skills on their own would at a lower cost.” Arty said as Sylver made notes and turned the page.

“Is it automatic, or can you manually synthesize skills somehow?” Sylver asked.

“I normally hate these kinds of answers, but it depends on the skills. I’ve heard some people say it’s completely random. They either wake up one morning and two of their skills synthesized into one without any action on their part, or it happens in the middle of a fight, or in one case while the woman was in bed with her husband. On the other hand, I know all the guardsmen synthesize their combat skills into some really specific ones to boost their effectiveness of guarding in a certain environment. I know a few bards who’ve told me you can synthesize resistance skills and perks into more general ones. But from my personal experience, you can kind of tell which skills can be synthesized together. What triggers it is the real question, but if you know what you should be getting it always synthesizes.”

“The rule of thumb is that the higher the level of the two-parent skills, the better the synthesized skill will be, or it will start at a higher level. So while you can hypothetically synthesize 2 level 5 skills, it isn’t advisable unless you know for certain that’s what you want. Two level 50 skills, on the other hand, could make something spectacular. With classes, you don’t really have a choice. Two classes need to have the same level of rarity, and be on the same level, for synthesis to occur. But not always. I’ve heard about as many exceptions as I've heard examples. My personal theory is that the system is more lenient with common classes, and allows them to synthesize with just about anything. But as a result, the class that comes out of that synthesis, is nowhere near as good or powerful as one made from two rare or two uncommon classes.”

“On the other hand, getting two rares to combine is difficult, but the resulting class is significantly stronger. I’ve talked to some people who purposely never picked another class so all of theirs stayed at their caps, in the hopes of getting them to combine.”

Sylver continued taking notes and started to think if there’s a class out there that would be a good match for [Necromancer].

“What else…? It’s believed that unique classes can’t be synthesized with anything other than another unique class. But since a person can only have one unique class, it’s kind of impossible to disprove that, so take it with a grain of salt.” Arty said, scratching his chin through his beard.

“How does leveling work? Do the perks and traits of the parent synthesized classes go away? Can you synthesize the same class more than once? Can you get a parent skill that was synthesized back?” Sylver asked, tapping the questions in his notebook as he asked them.

“The resulting synthesized class always starts at 1, but for the question of how much experience you need to increase its level, you can basically think of it as the sum of the two original classes. So if you have two level 50 classes that were synthesized into 1, you’ll get the new class at level 1, but you can think of it as being level 101, for the purpose of difficulty of leveling.”

“Once synthesized the original parent classes stay as they are, but freeze completely. They’ll never get any new skills or perks, or ever increase their level. They may still convert skills, and any restrictions they have will usually remain, but they won’t give you anything new. I have no idea if you can synthesize the same class more than once, but I would guess no. For getting the parent skill back, I’ve never heard it being done. Or attempted for that matter. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I think at least.” Arty answered.

Sylver spent a few more minutes going through the list of questions he had written, while Arty answered in a mixture of ‘I don’t know’, ‘why would anyone ever do that,’ and ‘I don’t know.’

It was surprising how little everyone knew about the system. But given the fact that once someone found out something useful or interesting, the default reaction would be to keep it a secret and only pass it down to their son or apprentice. Or just keep it to yourself and use it to increase your level and power. Or sell it for an absurdly high price to someone who would sell it later for an even more absurdly high price, or just keep it to themselves.

Not all that much different from how mages were back in Sylver’s time. Trading knowledge aside, they were some of the most tight-lipped people that ever existed. And with the system in place, everyone was basically a mage. Even the warriors.

In Sylver’s time, warriors just trained until their bodies caught up to their intentions. Mana helped specific muscles grow, and after a certain point, they would start developing abilities and physiologies to match their training. Nyx for example developed unnaturally strong bones, significantly stronger than any magical shielding or mana augmentation would allow. As close to indestructible as anything could ever get.

Sylver in turn never actually focused that much on the martial arts side of things, and never developed any physical changes. The grey hair was a result of damaging his soul from an experiment, and ended up healing in a peculiar way that he never quite figured out how to fix without causing further damage. The black eyes were as much of a mystery as Nyx’s were. The only reason he knew how to fight hand to hand, was because of all those years spent trapped in a dead zone. Where fighting with swords and daggers was the only option available to him.

Nyx’s eyes were really the one question she never really answered him. That and how old she was. With the former, she always just silently stared at him with an annoying smirk. And with the latter, she would always say 500 years. Even when Sylver had known her for at least twice that. He later did learn that it’s something of a cultural custom for long-lived persons to pick a number and stick to it, even when there are mountains of proof it’s a big fat lie. And the only thing more disrespectful than calling them out on it, was telling someone else any number other than the one they told you.

Sylver never ended up doing that. Primarily because he genuinely didn’t know how old he was, because he wrongfully assumed Nyx kept track of it. And partially because he never really cared to begin with. Counting years was something people who had a limited amount of them did.

After finishing their conversation Sylver had Arty mark the quest as complete.

“One last thing. There may be people coming to see you asking about me.” Sylver said, looking down at a fist-sized piece of brown crystal.

“I’m offended that you would even have to ask. Of course, I won’t tell them anything, I’m a wizard for god's sake!” Arty answered immediately, frowning and speaking harshly.

“I know, and I didn’t mean to cause offense. But I want you to know that I want you to tell them whatever it is they want to know. You not only have my permission, I would even go as far as to say it would be to my benefit if you did.” Sylver answered, looking up at him.

“What kind of people? What would they ask about exactly?” Arty asked, walking around the table to stand face to face.

“I don’t know. But probably someone friendly-looking and inconspicuous. They might even say they know me, or they’re a friend. I would really appreciate it if you just cooperated with them, as if you didn’t see the harm in it.” Sylver said.

Arty paused for a while, and seemed to size Sylver up.

“Are you asking me to do this because you think I wouldn’t be able to handle myself against them? Or is this really a way I could help?” Arty asked, maintaining eye contact.

Sylver smiled as he spoke. “Would you believe me if I said a bit of both? It would genuinely help me if they underestimate me, as you do, and I don’t like the idea of a fellow magic caster getting hurt because of my actions. I’m sure you can defend yourself well enough, all those traps in the floor and ceiling are proof of it, but I don’t want to cause someone I intend to work with in the future any strife. Actually, you know what you should do? Ask them for a bribe. That way I won’t feel as bad for them wasting your time.”

“Do you know what people would say if they found out-”

“I will personally bring you their heads once I kill them if it would make you feel better. But it’s just a suggestion, you’re obviously free to do whatever you want. Just keep in mind that you would be helping me if you told them everything.” Sylver said, as he unlocked the door.

He left as Arty just stared at him in silence.

*

*

*

Flying through the clouds Sylver continued to practice moving the weapons hidden inside his robe around, and gradually started incorporating movement via the robe into his fighting routine. He used Reg as a sparring partner, blocking one dagger with his left hand, blocking another with his right, and stabbing the shade with the third dagger using the robe.

In essence, Sylver now had a functional third arm.

In reality, he didn’t have enough mana or conductivity to utilize the whole thing properly. Even taking a shield and having it held by the robe to block attacks turned out to be too slow to be used in an actual fight.

He had about 2,000 shades in his old robe, all with the singular purpose of blocking any and all physical attacks for him. It had gotten to the point he literally didn’t see an assassin coming, and only found the man already dead at his feet from his robe snapping his neck before he even got close enough to touch him. Even counting the 16 generals, the resulting collective conscious was easily Sylver’s closest companion.

Sylver felt a pang of physical pain as he remembered how easily the robe was defeated by the traitor. He wasn’t even worth a glance as the sword ripped through it and Sylver was sent flying. The traitor was too occupied with Edmund to pay him any mind.

Pushing the thoughts down before they took proper root Sylver went underneath the wyvern and watched the mass of trees quickly moving underneath him.

His mind wandered and he very gradually remembered that he’d just straight up forgotten to advance his optical illusion skill.

[Optical Illusion (I) rank up available!]
Choose 1 from the following:

Optical Illusion (II)
-Decrease MP cost of illusion magic by 10%
-Create translucent illusions.
-Overlayed illusions will automatically track the subject they are overlayed over.
-Optical illusions can be scripted for up to 4 seconds.
-[Requirements not met]
-{Requirements not met]
-[Requirements not met]
-{Requirements not met]

Sylver simply stared at the thing and could barely believe his eyes. He was actually having trouble deciding which to choose. The scripted illusions part was worthless, given how he could do that on his own easily enough.

But translucent illusions? Not to mention automatic tracking? That wasn’t something that should be possible yet. Translucent meant he could make things almost invisible. A little blurry, but if the light is right and he gets the angle perfect, this could be a serious game changer…

Maybe I’ve underestimated this system… Just because every idiot has access to it, doesn’t mean it’s made for idiots. And this is only a level 2 skill… What would a level 100 optical illusion skill do?

What would a level 100 crafting skill produce?

[Skill: Optical Illusion (II)]
Skill level can be increased by creating optical illusions.
I - Create a false image using your mana.
II - Create translucent illusions.
*Quality of image depends on the caster’s skill and understanding.

Sylver looked at his hand.

And couldn’t believe his eyes.

He’d had to spend years of practice and research, and more mana per second than 20 times what he had now, to achieve even a minor translucent. Barely the size of a page.

And now with just a single gesture Will was almost completely invisible and the mana cost was negligible. Just a blurry fast-moving thing in the sky.

In the middle of a fight, this might as well be true invisibility. Fuck it, if Sylver could surround himself with something distracting, even if people knew he could do this, they’d never see him.

Sylver called out his entire shade army, and one by one, made them incredibly blurry. If he removed the magic from Will, against the dark wyvern’s body, not a single one was visible. In the dark, they would be impossible to see.

Holding the sword of the blind guy, Sylver blurred the majority of the blade, leaving only the hilt and a few inches of the blade visible. It looked like he was holding a dagger. Except it was longer and the blade was barely visible.

Sylver wasted far too long standing around and trying to adjust the illusion until it was as close to invisible as possible, and found that it had an extremely hard limit of how translucent it would make something.

But it was still unbelievable.

Sylver thought about it, and couldn’t remember when he’d last looked at his whole status.

Total Level: 40
[Koschei-4]
[Necromancer-36]

CON: 30
DEX: 10
STR: 1
INT: 100
WIS: 100
AP: 0

Health: 300/300
Stamina: 150/150
MP: 1000/1000

Health Regen: 4.50/M
Stamina Regen: 2.25/M
MP Regen: 100.00/M

[Skills:]
Appraisal (I) [10%]
Draining Touch (II) [8%]
Optical Illusion (II) [1%]
Auditory Illusion (I) [34%]
Raise Shade (II) [15%]
Raise Zombie (II) [1%]
Physical Endurance (I) [91%]
Magic Nullification (I) [6%]
Flesh Weaving (I) [3%]


[Perks:]
Golden Egg
Dead’s Dogma
Eyes Of The Royal Tiger
Tools Of The Shade
Dying Breath
Hare’s Great Escape

[Traits:]
Living Undead
Deathless
Mana Perception
Mana Manipulation
Undead Domination
Deathly Aura
Faceless

For almost a year's worth of development, it didn’t look like a whole lot. Only 4 of his 9 skills were level 2, and the majority weren’t even that close to increasing. Physical endurance was another weird one. It seemed to decide by itself when it leveled up, instead of just every time Sylver was damaged.

Minimum damage threshold? Maybe time-based? I’m not hurt long enough for it to start counting it? Could be it doesn’t register damage I don’t register. The notes Raba gave said it levels up every time you take damage, but my classes could be affecting it. Or the fact that I’m not technically speaking completely alive…

Sylver spent the rest of the flight simultaneously walking around the wyverns back using only the robe, and fiddling with everything he could fiddle within his status. As far as he could tell there weren’t any new changes.

*

Sylver’s question of why the Cord and the cats couldn’t deal with this specific hideout themselves was pretty obvious now that he saw it.

Calling it a hideout sounded wrong now that he was looking at it. It was a fortress. Or more accurately it was an old wizard’s tower that had been abandoned and then renovated. Which normally wouldn’t be an issue.

Save for the fact that Sylver could feel all the traps and defenses were still active. Meaning whoever was inside was clever enough to rearm them, or even worse, was the one who created them. Hundreds upon hundreds of large stone pillars littered the place, each with the familiar insignia for creating stone golems. And given how much ambient mana there was in the air, Sylver could tell without looking that they were all functional.

They were even polished believe it or not.

It was Sylver’s own fault for getting overconfident. He’d gotten used to people only being capable of whatever their level was. They may all be level 20, but they were far more capable than any level 20 person had any right to be.

It wouldn’t even matter how big your army was, if these guys buckled down and turned everything on, it would take weeks to break your way inside. And none of the golems looked all that amazing, but the sheer number was the issue.

And it wouldn’t be that strange for the area around the tower to be littered with undetectable traps for anyone skilled enough to sneak his way through the golems. The weird small hill around the tower was most likely a detection spell of some kind.

This was the biggest issue with attacking mages. They were by their very nature more suited to defense than attack. Not to mention there were several of them in there. And if what Wuss said is true, they’ve got a bunch of captives being used as mana batteries.

Given the choice, Sylver would much rather try attacking that group full of teleporters head on again. At least they were stupid enough to fall for his tricks, but anyone smart enough to put this much thought into their defenses, was smart enough to see right through him.

It wasn’t just unfair, it was downright impossible.

Unless you had a history of raiding ‘unraidable’ towers and breezing your way through ‘impenetrable’ defenses. And even wrote a book on the subject once arguing that building isolated towers such as this was always a bad idea and ended in tragedy 100% of the time.

Sylver sent the shades out to find what he was looking for and smiled like a child as he made his way over. He hadn’t raided anything like this in centuries, but hoped it was still as fun as he remembered it being.

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