Awwww yes. I looked over the stats, and saw that they were Good. My vitality and speed being almost half my magic power and control wasn’t exactly what I’d expected to have happened when I started out, but here I was.
I mentally felt a hair of regret towards how I’d acted towards Polyphemus back in Aquiliea. He had told me that physical stats were important for everyone, and I’d blissfully ignored him with all the certainty of a young teenager. Well, look at me now, valuing physical stats.
Well, my first check through my stats and new skills was done! Time to put them to the test!
Also, the VIP who’d almost fried me had Radiance magic. Time to try some sweet talking, to see if I could get her to show me some tricks!
Speaking of -
“That was fast.” She said, “Everything go ok in there?”
I blinked owlishly at her.
“Um, yeah.” I said. “How long was I down?”
“Didn’t even get to play three hands.” She said, gesturing to a table full of playing cards they’d set up.
“Hakka! You’re not leaving this hand!” Thoren said. “Just because healer Elaine is awake early, doesn’t get you out of this! Come on, show!” He said.
A heated round began behind me, as crushing disappointment washed over me. Only a few minutes? All that time spent checking classes, and only a few minutes!? Leaving Librarian early, skipping reading, a few minutes!??!?!?!?
Between that and the loss of my [Pretty] skill, I was going to murder the System. Dissect it into many little pieces.
I took a great big calming breath. Throwing a hissy fit over a loss of reading time, over cutting my farewell with Librarian short wouldn’t do me any good. I’d gotten a good class, good stats, it was time to experiment with them, then plot my breakout.
“Eight Pickaxe!” Hakka said, triumphantly throwing her hand down, and reaching for the pot.
“What a shame.” Thoren said, voice full of disappointment, Hakka making gloating noises. “What a shame that I have THREE GOLD!” He said, cackling as he revealed his hand. “Get your paws off that Krul! It’s all mine!”
Hakka made a disgusted noise.
“Why do I even let you fleece me on these games?” She asked.
“Cause you have too much fun and too much money.” Urik said.
“Yeah, yeah.” Hakka said. “Thank you Elaine, for sparing my poor wallet. If there’s nothing else, I’ve got some training to do.” She said, standing up and putting her helmet back on.
This was my chance!
“Hey Hakka!” I called out. “You’re a Radiance mage, right?”
“Yup. You’re also one. I would’ve killed you if you didn’t have the resistance skill, healer or not.” She informed me, with the matter-of-fact voice like telling me the moons had eyes. “Also, you probably know this, but being a two-classer right now, and with healing one of them? Oof. A level 100 Mirror-anything combat will destroy you.”
I wanted to defend myself, and point out my physical stats, but in a stroke of genius decided that shutting up was probably the right move.
Agreeing with her was the right move.
“You’re totally right.” I said. “Could you show me some Radiance magic that you use?” I asked, figuring I might as well be direct about it.
It was a very personal thing I was asking, but I hoped to get a favorable response. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
“Why not. You finishing up so fast saved me a day here, and half my purse. I still feel bad over nearly killing ya when you were just trying to help. Just one question” She asked, giving me an evil eye for some reason.
I gulped. Had she figured out that I was planning on escaping?
“Why’d you ask now, and not earlier? Totally could’ve helped your class up!” She said, cracking a grin.
I refrained from groaning. I’d been totally pranked. She wasn’t wrong though.
Well, she was going to give me a bunch of her secrets. I figured my class’s ability to learn wouldn’t be too bad to let loose.
Plus, it could make the dwarves see me as having added incentive to stick around! If they thought I was happy here, and had tons to learn and do, they wouldn’t look as closely at me. It’d make it easier to make a break for it.
“Well, I was pretty happy with what I had.” I explained. “However, I got a class that rewards learning, and will upgrade skills easily if I see them used. Figured I could try it out now.” I said.
I was so lucky that Hakka was a Radiance mage.
Then again, city full of high-level dwarves? A thriving military? Even if I didn’t have a weak connection with Hakka already, I could ask Korun nicely and he’d arrange something.
I should totally ask Night - no, wait, Julius - during the next Ranger Convocation to meet with any Rangers who used Radiance magic. Radiance mages were as rare as any other mage. With 44 elements and two classes to fill, the odds of any one person having a particular element was low, but in a group the odds were good that at least one person had it.
“Right, follow me!” Hakka said, and I followed her to a training room, located in another building.
Half of my overly excessive escort followed along. Thoren and his crew came along, while Urik went with his minions on some other detail.
A number of Thoren’s guards squared off to lightly spar, or get some practice in themselves. If the orcs tried to hit me here, well, they were all in the same room, already geared up and ready - if not actively using - skills.
“Right.” Hakka said as we made it to a large sparse stone room, with a number of dummies scattered around the room. They were all crude representations of orcs, carved out of stone. “Are you a fighting mage, or a utility mage?” She asked.
I blinked at the question, having never heard of those classifications.
“Um. I’m not sure.” I said. “I’ve got a few combat skills, and a few utility skills.”
“Sounds like a utility mage.” She grunted with distaste. “I can’t be much help with those. I’m allllll fighting.” She said, turning towards the orcs.
“Right. I’m not great at this teaching thing. Lemme show you a few of my tricks, one Radiance mage to another.” She said. “I’m based around the glow of the flames from the forge.”
She lifted a hand up, glowing Radiance around her fingers.
“For super close up.” She said, slashing through a statue. I noticed that it slowly started to rebuild itself.
Nifty. I didn’t think claws were the direction I wanted to go though. Also, what was with claw skills recently? This was like the third time they’d come up.
She presented her claws for me to study. I took a close look at them, trying to figure out how the skill worked.
[Butterfly Mystic] was about learning new things after all. Even though I didn’t want the skill.
Hang on - I should try to learn the skill though, and see what happened. Get some practice.
It looked like her fingers - her entire hand actually - was coated in Radiance, and it seemed to form sharp, feral points. It was possible that the skill was helping reinforce her hand, so she could actually claw her way through things, letting the destructive aspects and nature of Radiance take full hold.
The skill was probably TERRIBLE without the before-mentioned [Radiance Resistance]. I wasn’t touching it, and I could feel the waves of heat coming off of them.
[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class skill [Ladybug Antenna]! Would you like to replace a skill with it?]
At the same time - that was easy. The class hadn’t been kidding when it said new skills would be easy to pick up. I wish I could tell if I’d gotten experience for my class from this. Everything I’d read suggested yes. Still, no way of telling until that magical ding showed up.
“Right, I think I’ve got an idea of that one.”
“Slightly further range.” She said, taking a great big breath, then bellowing golden flames out of her mouth.
Just like a - a - a street performer.
The statue melted. I didn’t want to think about how hot that was.
She glanced at me, and I shook my head. I knew how that sort of skill worked - heck, I’d been offered a variant on it once - I could probably recreate it myself, later.
“Actually, why don’t you show me what you’ve got?” She said, stepping back.
I was a bit nervous. I was on the spot, with a new skill that sounded grand. I didn’t want to screw up and-
I was dumb.
Thoren and co. were hanging back, out of the way. Not in the line of fire.
Hakka had [Radiance Resistance]. Probably at a much, much higher level than mine. Heck, it could almost be [Radiance Immunity] if the skill evolved like that!
I’d never heard of anyone having the skill, but then again, all this traveling was opening my eyes. All sorts of things I’d never imagined were popping up.
I aimed for a cluster of orc statues, further down in the room. I didn’t point, or gesture, I just let the skill happen.
The skill exploded out of me, a lazily spinning large sphere of deceptively powerful destruction. Seriously, the ball was bigger than I was. It wasn’t a single uniform gold, no, it was spotchy and spotted, all types of yellow, just like a real star would be.
It sped down the range, far faster than [Nova] ever had. I found the mental handle that was the skill, just like my old [Manipulation] skill, and curved it into the group of statues I was aiming for. I was only able to keep track of the speeding ball thanks to my dramatically improved vitality. The ball landed, exploding with a ferocious boom as it hit the cluster of statues. Masonry rained down on us.
I was feeling pleased as punch with the new and extra-large [Supernova].
“That was terrible.” Hakka said.
I didn’t protest. I wanted to know what the super-high level Radiance mage had to say.
“It’s flashy, yes. It’s powerful, sure. Heck, I’ll even concede that maybe you’re not constantly fighting in tunnels, so the inability to use it down there due to its size isn’t as large of a consideration. Ask yourself this though. How much of the ball ends up applying to your target? How often are your enemies going to neatly group themselves up, and not have a shielding skill?”
I frowned at that. The first point seemed to be the strongest.
I used all my power on every attack I had. I reviewed my [Pristine Memories] of fights I’d used [Nova] in.
The Formorians had been A-Grade [Nova] bait. They were also dumb as bricks, and came in a gigantic horde. [Nova] was the skill to use.
In fights against other stuff?
The slime was the only one I could think of where [Nova] had lived up to its full potential. I’d needed to literally carve out a hole in the slime, shove [Nova] into it, and let it explode.
Yeah. I could see Hakka’s point.
“Watch.” She said, pointing to another group. “If you must attack like that at range, I recommend beams.”
I tended to be a “Stick the beam on the person and keep it on until it burned through something.” Hakka wasn’t.
She rapidly flickered tiny, pinpoint bursts all over the place, hitting eyes, throat, knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, stomachs - every spot on a body that could be fatal or crippling.
It had the added effect of doing what I tended to do with [Shine] - now [Lantern] - in that the rapidly changing light was blinding.
Which made me think about my own tactics. [Lantern] flashing was still strong - but the light was probably secondary to the lasers just lighting the whole place up and keeping them lit up. I should run some tests.
Also - I looked carefully, again only seeing it thanks to my improved vitality - Hakka was using a lot of beams at once.
Ahhh. She was combining her [Radiance Conjuration] with a straight up “beam people to death skill.” That was pretty darn useful, and arguably better than [Nova].
[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class skill [Beam people to death]! Would you like to replace a skill with it?]
The funny thing about unlocking new skills was they lingered for a bit. Usually around half a day, to give me enough time to figure out if I wanted it or not. I held off on it for now. Unlike the other skills I’d been offered, this was an honest, high-powered straight-combat skill.
“Beams are amazing.” I agreed with her, considering changing how I used them to mimic her ways, even if I didn’t take the skill.
“Now, if you must hit your target from all angles, do it like this.” Hakka said, then mimed a great overhand blow with her hand.
Must be a restriction on the skill that made it more powerful.
A glowing hammer appeared in her hands, and seemed to hit an invisible anvil. A great spray of sparks shot off, the thousands of shimmering shards zipping over to the target, winding around each other, almost impossible to follow or track. The tiny points hit the statue from every angle, a cascading devastation on the poor rock.
“Now, there’s a solid multi-directional skill.” Hakka said with obvious pride. “Nothing short of a full-body shield stops it, it hits from all directions at the same time, it’s small enough to sneak through small gaps, it’s maneuverable enough to go around corners.”
I was eyeing all the slowly rebuilding statues.
Hakka had gone easy on me when she thought I was an intruder. Acid, rocks, and lasers to the eyes had been a weak opening salvo, while she wasn’t quite sure if I was actually an intruder or not. I had wondered why I’d only seen like 8 skills, and not 25.
Still. She made a ton of neat points about [Supernova], and her better skill.
“Right, last skill…” Hakka trailed off, awkwardly scratching her nose.
“Well. It’s a full aura attack. It just hurts everyone around me.” She said. “Not a ton of damage to any one person, great for swarms. It’s new though, and my control over it?” She said, waggling her hand.
“Let’s talk about it another day.” She said, and I agreed.
Time for hard mode.
“Willing to work with me a bit to improve my skill?” I asked, not waiting for an answer. I summoned a dozen tiny [Supernova]’s at once, firing them off towards another target. I tried furiously to control all of them, rapidly flickering my attention and control from ball to ball, getting about half of them to hit the target from different angles at what only the most generous referee would call “at the same time.”
“Mmm. Close. Watch again.” Hakka said, getting into it. She lifted her hand up again, a glowing hammer appearing as she smashed down again, thousands of tiny sparks erupting off.
We traded back and forth a dozen times, as I slowly got better and better at conjuring up and controlling a dozen, then fifteen, then eighteen, tiny little [Supernova]’s.
It was hard. I don’t think the skill - one GIANT FIREBALL - exactly wanted to become dozens of tiny little sparks. It was more than a bit of a stretch, and normally I’d need, oh, a year and a half of effort at Ranger Academy while being taught by another teacher to pull something like this off.
Then again, it wasn’t quite as large of a leap as [Rapidash] to [Talaria], which I’d managed.
Another try. 13 hit.
Another try. 15 hit.
Another try. 9 hit.
Another try. 14 hit
Another try. 16 hit
Another try. 12 hit
Another try. 19 hit
Another try. 21 hit.
Finally - after long enough that we took a break for food twice, and Thoren and his guards got replaced by Urik - the notification popped up.
Two notifications popped up.
[*ding!* Would you like to change [Supernova] to [Kaleidoscope]? Warning: Some levels will be lost.]
Kaleidoscope: A thousand fluttering butterflies made out of radiant light form a kaleidoscope. Now unleash them, and let them dance and weave their way over to your target! Increased number of butterflies, increased acceleration, damage, control, and range per level.
I hit yes.
[Error! Kaleidoscope had dropped from 306 to 265]
Ouch. At the same time, it was quite a different skill. Also, acceleration, not speed, was interesting.
And! Learning new magic was rewarded in more ways than one!
[*ding!* Congratulations! [Butterfly Mystic] has leveled up to level 306->307! +8 Strength, +8 Dexterity, +70 Speed, +70 Vitality, +70 Mana, +70 Mana Regen, +70 Magic power, +70 Magic Control from your Class per level! +1 Free Stat for being Human per level! +1 Strength, +1 Mana Regen from your Element per level!]
[*ding!* [Radiance Affinity] has leveled up! 306->307]
[*ding!* [Radiance Resistance] has leveled up! 306->307]
[*ding!* [Radiance Conjuration] has leveled up! 306->307]
[*ding!* [Sun’s Heart] has leveled up! 306->307]
[*ding!* [Passionate Learning] has leveled up! 354->355]
Woo! New magic, new skills, and more levels!
“Thank you Hakka! I got it!” I said.
I was starting to think that maybe I could spend a week or two, practicing and picking up more magic. Just a little more wouldn’t hurt, and it was, by my reckoning, the middle of winter right now. Not the best time to be alone in the wilderness.
I’d need to do some thinking about it…
“Good iron!” She said, celebrating my success. “Now show me!”