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A note from KingKennit

Ya like tiny snakes?

How about world building done right, without god damned info dumps?

What about a solid system that's extremely well integrated into the story and world?

Weak to strong?

How about that I like it?

Well if any of that tickles your fancy, check out The Great Core's Paradox

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Ch142-Best Move

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As far as offensive abilities went [Deadly Darkness] wasn’t particularly deadly.

Granted, it was still more than capable of slicing someone’s throat open, but shadow magic was a very delicate and finicky magic. At least, that was the case when you didn’t want to waste a fuckton of mana on strengthening it to be used the way someone would use ice or earth.

With ice magic, you could easily reinforce it and use it to lift a great weight, or in the case of earth magic, squash someone with a boulder. This was because both of those magics focused on something that already had a physical weight and presence, you didn’t need to add anything to them, you simply strengthened what was already there.

Shadows, on the other hand, had no physical mass to move around. They relied entirely on mana to influence the world, similar to how shades were utterly worthless if someone was able to cancel out the mana inside of their attacks.

That was how shadow magic normally worked.

However, as Sylver discovered, the system had other ideas.

To cut something using a shadow required getting the angle just right, spreading the mana out evenly enough that it wouldn’t shatter before reaching its target, all while keeping the shadow in a single solid flexible piece.

Sylver wanted to use his shadow to lightly bind the level 199’s man’s feet to the ground, but instead, his shadow sliced through the man’s feet.

Not all the way through, there was something very tough in the fabric, but if the pained look on his face was anything to go by, it was a fairly deep cut. Sylver was temporarily blinded as the man started to shoot, and the flash from his two pistols disturbed the otherwise peaceful silence.

Instead of rushing in with his companion warriors, Sylver extended a tendril of fog out towards the nearest metal stone crystal thing, and materialized directly behind it, in a crouched position.

The level 158 warrior had a wavy sword, and Sylver watched as he swung the large blade at the level 199 gun wielder, who blocked it with his still firing guns.

The gun wielder even managed to angle his gun in such a way that he used the recoil to give himself enough force to push the blade away from himself. The two had a very fast exchange of blows, the sword-wielder using his free hand to shove one pistol from shooting him in the face, while he used his sword to keep the other gun constantly moving along the curvy edge of the blade.

The second warrior, armed with some sort of spike-less matchstick like cudgel, joined in, but the level 199 was handling the two of them as if they were children. The difference in strength was clear as day, but the level 199 wasn’t relying on strength, he was using some sort of extremely efficient gun-based martial art.

It was hard to describe, but the man used the fact that both warriors couldn’t allow the gun’s barrel to be pointed at their face, to force them to block and attack in a specific way, which he used to aim his gun at their heads, which started the process all over again.

All three were in a stalemate and were too focused on not getting killed to realize that Sylver was hanging back and watching them.

Or at least the two warriors were too busy to worry about Sylver, given that the level 199 gun wielder’s shots all came very close to hitting Sylver. Sylver extended tendrils of fog out from his cover to the other crystal-covered metal hexagons.

In an ideal world, Sylver would have waited for everyone to tire themselves out, but the gun wielder was one good shot away from turning the tables on the two warriors, so Sylver intervened and helped them out.

Using [Deadly Shadow] Sylver formed a ball of shadows, between the gun wielder’s legs, and moved it upwards as fast and as hard as he could. There was something unmistakably solid protecting the man’s groin, but it was enough of a jolt to the system to make him lose concentration for a split second.

The wavy sword managed to disarm his gun from him, while the cudgel wielder got a solid hit to his shoulder.

From where he was hiding, Sylver didn’t hear the exact words he used, but going by the fact that he disappeared into the floor, inside of a bright hole, he had given up.

The two warriors tripped over themselves as their attacks missed their marks, but they recovered almost instantly and both turned around to look at Sylver.

The level 158 warrior turned a light shade of red as he started shouting at Sylver.

“The fuck is wrong with you! You don’t just-”

“Before that, I want to-” Sylver interrupted, but was ignored and interrupted as the man shouted even louder.

“Why did you do that? Do you have any idea how pathetic it is to win a fight by kicking a man in the dick?” the level 158 warrior asked.

“I’m the one who set the difficulty to 100,” Sylver said.

He had hoped to approach this with a little more tact, but he didn’t like the direction the conversation was heading.

“What?” the level 183 warrior asked, as confused as his level 158 companion.

“I’m the one who set the difficulty to 100. And I would like it if you two forfeited,” Sylver explained.

He gave the two men a few seconds to try to reprocess this information as he pressed on.

“How about this… I’ll sweeten the deal. 250,000 cuts to each of you if you forfeit right now,” Sylver offered.

The two men glanced at each other without moving their heads.

“I mean this in the most respectful way imaginable, but even if you both team up to fight against me, you’re going to lose,” Sylver explained and suppressed a sigh as he heard the sound of their grips tightening around the hilt of their weapons.

“For someone so confident, you sure are eager to not fight,” the level 183 man warrior said. The level 158 nodded along.

“If you weren’t melee fighters, maybe you would have a chance, but you do not want to fight me at close range. I’m not trying not to fight, not because it would be difficult or dangerous, but because it would just tire me out a little, and make the remaining fights harder than they have to be,” Sylver explained and could see by the shift in their stance they weren’t listening to him.

“Alright, offer to leave unharmed and 250,000 cuts richer going once,” Sylver said, as he moved some of his [Necrotic Mutilation] armor around and covered everything but his face. Some of the dark green gore floated behind his back, in the shape of extremely sharp dart-shaped bone clumps. The level 158 man’s face changed when he noticed them.

“Going twice,” Sylver said, as he cracked his neck, and with a flick of his wrists made two [Necrotic Mutilation] coated daggers appear in his hands.

“I’m out.”

Sylver was temporarily blinded as the level 158 man disappeared into the bright hole in the ground.

Sylver was surprised to see that the level 183 man hadn’t attacked him during this moment. He just remained where he was, except now he was staring at the spot the level 158 had disappeared into.

The level 183 man smiled as he adjusted his grip on his sword.

“Do you feel proud of yourself? How many others have you paid to leave? If you manage to bribe your way to the end, can you even call that winning?” the warrior asked, as Sylver relaxed his shoulders and stood up straight, completely unprepared for a fight.

“You picked a very odd place and time for a debate. But if you must know, yes. The rules, I’m assuming, are mostly about not getting any help from outside. And I haven’t broken any, because all I did was talk. Granted, it might be “unsporting,” but why should I limit myself when I have the means?” Sylver asked, and hoped Ria didn’t take what he was saying the wrong way.

Going by the non-reaction, she wasn’t listening at the moment.

“Can he do this?” the level 183 man shouted up into the pitch-black sky.

“They’re not going to interfere. See, the part that throws me off is that participation is optional. You’re choosing to be here. The reason doesn’t matter, you’re here by choice. Now to me, that means that if you’re dissatisfied with the current conditions, you are free to leave. You’ll even get 250,000 cuts for your trouble,” Sylver offered, as the man shifted on his feet, into a slightly lower stance.

“No. I came here to win, and that’s what I will do. Anything less would dishonor my master,” the level 183 warrior said.

“Last chance. Because here’s what’s going to happen if we fight. You’re going to swing that thing at me, it’s going to harmlessly pass through me, because I’m an illusion, and then the real me will kick you on the nape of your neck, and if you’re lucky, you’ll instantly die, instead of becoming paralyzed from the neck down. Or you could forfeit, and try again another time. When the difficulty isn’t set to an impossible 100,” Sylver explained.

He had hoped the man would realize that even if he managed to beat Sylver, he would still have to get through another 2 trials to get to the end. Not to mention, there would still be 3 more people to fight, who are likely stronger and more experienced than him.

But this wasn’t the first time someone was simply so confident in their abilities that they ignored a bunch of obvious clues.

Like the fact that Sylver was level 122, and was in the top 10, alongside people 30, 50, and 70 levels higher than him.

Or the fact that the level 158 man decided the best course of action was to leave.

Or that Sylver was smart enough to trick the two of them to fight the level 199 guy, while he sat back and relaxed. The level 183 man wasn’t breathing all that heavily, but there were several beads of sweat making their way down his slightly red face.

Sylver could do little else but sigh, as the man lunged at him.

Some people were just too stupid to help.

As the man swung his cudgel at Sylver’s body, Sylver was honestly caught off guard by the fact that this man actually thought Sylver would do what he said he would do. The swing at Sylver was a feint, there was so little force behind it that Sylver caught the blunt weapon with his hands. The warrior barely realized what was going on, as his whole body got ready to turn around and attack behind him.

The level 183 warrior seemed shocked beyond belief, as Sylver was aided by his [Necrotic Mutilation] armor to keep the blunt weapon in place. It wrapped around the head and glued it to Sylver’s stomach.

Sylver let go of it with his hands and swung his right arm backward, charged up the muscle with as much mana as it could handle, and further aided by his armor, punched the man so hard across the jaw, that teeth exploded out of his mouth.

The man released his hold on his weapon and slumped down onto the smooth metallic ground.

Sylver used a tendril of [Necrotic Mutilation] to catch his head so it wouldn’t hit the ground.

“Fucking idiot. Actually, the better question is why did you think I was lying about everything but what I was going to do when you attacked? Rouge, how did this gullible moron make it through the sandworm thing?” Sylver shouted at the pitch-black sky.

“He didn’t,” Rouge said from directly behind Sylver.

Sylver turned to face her, and saw that she was crouched on the floor, and staring at the warrior who was currently laying face down in an ever-growing puddle of blood.

“There is an element of luck in the trials. Some are more difficult than others,” Rough explained and answered before Sylver could even ask.

“As the person who raised the difficulty to 100, you’re obviously getting the hardest trials. You’re also in the final 3 now, congratulations,” Rouge said, without so much as a hint of enthusiasm.

“With all due respect, please drop the attitude. If you wanted this game played in a specific way, you should have made rules that enforced it. You can’t blame me for doing everything I can to win, what kind of overconfident idiot would do otherwise?” Sylver asked as Rouge flickered out of existence without saying a word.

He walked up to the downed man and pulled his cheek back to check how much damage he had done. The jawbone was all but shattered, and his teeth were either cracked or missing. He even bit a piece of his tongue off.

But nothing a few healing sessions wouldn’t fix.

Sylver spent a few seconds making all the scattered tooth fragments float over to him, and placed them in a small cloth bag. Sylver tucked the baggie full of teeth inside one of the man’s pockets.

“Personally, if I were to train someone, the last thing I would do is tell them to “fight fair” when their life is on the line. I would go as far as to say that whoever trained this man deserved to be lynched for giving his student so much false confidence,” Sylver said, partially to himself, and partially to the giant hoard of floating drones.

“I mean, for fucks sake… No, never mind, doesn’t matter,” Sylver said, as he stood up from his crouch and started to walk towards the tower’s entrance.

He didn’t look back as a flash of light meant that a door had opened and removed the partially toothless man.

On account of not knowing what he was going to face in there, Sylver decided now was a good time to apply his recently acquired attribute points.

Total Level: 122
[Koschei-5]
[Necromancer-100]
[Swamp Lord-17]

CON: 141
DEX: 100
STR: 100
INT: 255
WIS: 205
AP: 25

Health: 1,410/1,410
Stamina: 691/705
MP: 9,883/10,200

Health Regen: 16.45/M
Stamina Regen: 10.58/M
MP Regen: 4,704.75 /M

I’m already past 10,000 MP…

Oh, right, the plus 1s from [Arcane Growth], almost forgot about it.

9 into constitution to get it to 150, that’s obvious…

Which leaves me with 14 points…

Wisdom, I guess? It will push the MP regeneration over 5,000 per minute. Not that that would change much, I’m still limited by my lack of conductivity, but now that I have the ring, I could probably…

I’ll need to run a few tests to make sure, but this body should be able to handle it…

It will be worth it for the [Dead Dominion] range. The only alternative is a tiny bit more HP or dumping it into dexterity or strength, neither of which are an issue right now.

Neither of which are an issue 14 points would solve.

CON: 150
DEX: 100
STR: 100
INT: 255
WIS: 221
AP: 0

Health: 1,500/1,500
Stamina: 703/750
MP: 9,917/10,200

Health Regen: 17.50/M
Stamina Regen: 11.25/M
MP Regen: 5,071.95 /M

Sylver felt some of the cramping in his thighs, shoulders, and neck loosen slightly, but there wasn’t a major change from how he felt before his HP was at 1,500. His ear stubs had stopped hurting a long while ago, but it was still jarring to go to scratch your ear, only to find it missing.

As Sylver stepped through the wide-open gate of the tower, his surroundings once again unceremoniously shifted.

Where before the flooring was made out of perfectly flat metal, with hexagonal pillars covered in crystals, Sylver now found himself standing on something unnaturally fine and grey.

Going by the color, consistency, and smell, Sylver was currently standing in ash.

It was perfectly flat, from where Sylver could see, save for his footsteps disturbing the pale grey floor. Using his shadow to feel underneath him, Sylver found that the ash only went down for a couple of meters but was dense enough that Sylver’s feet only slightly sunk into it.

He looked around, and could very clearly see the walls of the tower, except there was no ceiling, only more walls going higher and higher.

Uncertain in which direction to go, Sylver spent a few seconds walking around, looking for a clue of some sort to guide him. He spent a while trying to see if he could get [Dead Dominion] to move the ash or have [Necrotic Mutilation] consume it, but in both cases, the biological matter had been changed too much to be of any use.

Sylver could move it around the way he could move most things around, but it was very mana intensive and largely pointless. Ash required a rather specific set of skill and knowledge, which Sylver had never had a chance to learn, on account of all the masters in the field referring to him as “uncremated.”

They offered to burn Sylver in a pyre and seemed genuinely confused when he refused. They were even further confused when they tried to do him the favor of burning his body and were massacred by Edmund instead.

As Sylver kicked the ash at his feet he felt a knot form in his throat and silently pressed it down until it went back into the tightly lidded bottle.

Sylver lifted his head as he felt a presence directly above him, and saw an enormous dark red lizard staring at him.

[Wyvern of Ladon (Warrior+Warrior+Warrior+Rogue+Priest) – 195]
[HP-94,471]
[MP-5,000]

With a very slight shake of its enormous body, the monster’s “wings” stretched out from the inside of its armpits. The wings were made entirely out of stretched skin, and going by the position and shape this “wyvern” was incapable of flight, Sylver wasn’t even entirely certain it could glide.

It looked like your normal everyday wyvern, with the only exception being the lack of proper wings, and that the tail was far too long for its body. On top of that, the spikes running along its spine were all folded back, like the feathers on a bird, and it had two whiskers floating around its face, each as long as its body.

It breathed unevenly, with the body moving around in the back, while the head remained perfectly motionless, with two enormous bright yellow eyes focused solely on Sylver.

Sylver remained perfectly still and waited to see what this giant beast would do.

However, even as it began to speak, a deep rumbling sound, Sylver was careful to not flinch or move. If it decided to shoot fire at him, right at this moment, there wasn’t a whole lot that Sylver could do.

There was nowhere to hide, and all the water he had in his [Bound Bones] wouldn’t be enough to reach the source of the fire in time.

In terms of size, this creature made Texas look tiny.

“What can you offer me?” the giant creature asked.

Sylver waited to see if it was going to say anything else, but it simply remained as it was and stared at him.

A couple of ideas floated around in Sylver’s head. Mostly because he could feel that it was “alive” and had a soul, and wasn’t just a metallic golem. A big part of Sylver worried that this was this realm’s equivalent of a dragon, in which case Sylver might be in deep deep shit right now.

Sylver wasn’t sure why he said what he said, other than that it felt like the right thing to say.

“I offer you your life,” Sylver said without a shred of hesitation, and could only blankly stare as the words left his mouth, and entered the giant creature’s ears.

For a gut-wrenching 10 seconds, it just stared at him, without moving, breathing, or blinking. When it opened its giant mouth, a tiny sphere fell out of it and plopped down a few meters away from Sylver. Sylver refrained from looking at it and continued to focus on the two enormous eyeballs. Sylver felt a faint prickling on the back of his neck before the beast had spoken.

“Your offer is genuine. I accept it,” the wyvern said.

Sylver mutely watched as it twisted itself around, and crawled up the tower’s inside until it had completely disappeared from view.

He wasn’t certain how much time had passed before he decided to look away to check exactly what the enormous wyvern had given him.

[Laborious Fruit – N/A - Unique Quality]
[Skip the final trial]

The fruit in question was annoyingly predictable.

It was a mango.

Made out of the same metal Sylver’s false eye had been made out of. A dull golden color.

If not for the way Sylver could see a reflection in the metal, he would have thought it was a normal mango, as opposed to one made out of metal.

Sylver walked over to it and picked the strange fruit up. Despite appearances, it was far heavier than he had expected. Sylver looked around him and saw Rouge standing right next to a doorway that led into some sort of well-lit arena.

“In the history of the Gold Giers Trials, only 3 men had managed to make the wyvern surrender its fruit without a fight,” Rouge said, as Sylver started to walk over to the doorway.

“Ah, it’s one of those future seeing wyverns, makes sense,” Sylver said, semi sarcastically, as he reached the doorway and touched the edges of it.

“Would you have won if you fought?” Rouge asked, with an uncharacteristically meek tone.

Sylver turned to look at the woman and gave her his best toothy grin. He pretended to think the question over before he answered it in a single breath.

“If we fought, it would be dead in the fucking ground. Not picking a fight with me will likely be considered one of the wisest decisions it has ever made in its entire life,” Sylver said as he disappeared through the doorway.

Sylver normally did his best to be humble and modest, but it had been a while since someone spoke to him with the level of fear and respect Sylver the Lich deserved. All that was left was beating the shit out of two people, and Sylver would be the winner of this unnecessarily long game.

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KingKennit

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