"Nah, the Ritual and Ceremony Quests were far harder, to my recollection." It took a minute for that to sink in.
"You finished the Sepulcher?" he asked in disbelief. "Who did you go with?"
His jaw worked again. "Damn. Just… damn. What was your trick?"
"Heavy Magic Shell and a lot of healing Potions. Just ground my way through it."
"But everything there was Hollow to magic!" he protested.
I didn't even look at him. "The Shell was so the Potions worked, and my Masspack. I'm a Null. I didn't need anything else, Argos."
"Well. Shit." He was mentally revisiting numbers. "You're using Sharding on your Sword for that cutting arc, right?"
"Naturally. Having no ranged attack option is stupidity. Having to keep drawing and sheathing weapons is also stupid, as is losing all your Mastery bonuses or Feats with a secondary Weapon. An Enchantment that turns my sword-strike into a ranged attack? Perfect."
"And you didn't use it in the Sepulcher."
"Couldn't. Faded the instant it left the HM Shell. Swapped in Blooding and Vivic, stood on top of the regenerating bastards until they were dust by couping them once they were down."
"I shouldn't be asking this, but I'm going to. What's your to-hit and damage at?"
"You're right, you shouldn't be asking." His eyes followed my cuts with more then casual interest. "You can probably do all the math yourself for a Ten Melee with a +VIII Sword and Strength 33. Why are you even asking?"
"Because you're doing the kind of damage that Dragon Warriors using their apex Techniques are doing. That's -"
"Not accurate. They certainly reach higher numbers when they pull off the Fifth Mantra Forms or a high Combined Form. The difference is that my base damage is considerably higher than theirs, so I deal a great deal of damage across all attacks, not just Boosted Strikes. It's especially noticeable against things that are Hollow." I couldn't help smiling slightly.
"You've got to be doing a hundred points a strike. You were one-shotting every single Salamander I saw you hit. One Striking every Fire Giant. Your crit wiped a Rune Giant. Your charge attacks… you two-hit a Firebird!" He shook despite himself.
"Yes," I agreed sagely. "And that's what it means to be a Grandmaster of the Sword, not a Grandmaster of Chi techniques from the Seven Dragons, or some mageblade Channeling Valences."
He pursed his lips. "Could you beat Seven Dragons?" he asked hesitantly.
"She's a specialist in Chi usage. I'm a Null. She's useless against me, I'd tear her apart. I don't care how many combo Forms she mixes together. I can outrun her, I can actually wear armor, and the Dragons are no more than dribbles of water against my Null."
Which naturally got him to thinking about taking me on, and I could see by the change in his coloration that he wasn't confident of his chances at all.
"Uh. Could I ask what your Null is at?" he asked in a very careful voice.
"Melee Ten. Con 40. Resistance and Null Masteries. Great Fortitude Feat. Great Endurance Feat."
"10. Plus seven base. Plus…fifteen…" he swallowed. Con 40? Yep. "Plus five, plus five. Plus four… plus two. Plus two. 50…"
"Sounds about right. Of course, I can use Guardian and jack that up by +6 to +10, depending on what I'm fighting…"
So, a Steady Focusing Caster would need a +35 Penetration modifier to even have a chance to affect me with any magic. Among other things, neither the Firebird nor this Titan being chopped up had a modifier anywhere close to that, so I could simply ignore all their magic with impunity.
"Sama, you might be the most dangerous Melee combatant on the planet," he admitted softly.
"Well, I'm definitely not even the worst Caster, so it's good that I'm proficient at something, eh?"
"Right." There was definitely a subtle change in how he was talking to me. "How did you manage to make adamant skinplate?"
I made another disparaging noise, and he reddened again. "You are definitely not a smith, Argos. Alchemical query: Can you make adamant skinplate?"
"I… no. It's far too rigid. You have to make shieldplate out of it. You could use unalloyed mithral, gold, copper…"
"Or?" I prodded him.
"Noqua is one of the base metals used in the formulation of?"
"Orichalcum!" He blinked. "You made an orichalcum suit! Sylune! How did you get it to absorb adamant's properties? You'd have to have… made an adamant suit and let it absorb it…"
He facepalmed again. So damn extravagant. Making an unusable adamant skinplate suit just so it could be eaten by an orichalcum skinplate suit… twenty goldweight before Crafting bonus, straight down the toilet...
"Any other silly questions?" I inquired with an air of talking about pennies.
"In pursuit of me trying to figure your damage, I notice you are wearing Gauntlets of Ogre Power." I inclined my head fractionally, so? "Uh, they don't stack with your Girdle. Why did you bother?"
"Except in the case of?" I drawled, really, really slowly again. He flushed again. Make that Arcane Lore check, Argos...
"Except in the case of? Stacking. Uh, magic war hammers?" he remembered after a moment.
"My Grandmastery is?”
He paused. “I, uh, confess I can’t remember that precisely...”
“The Sword is a shitty weapon, but it is better than all the rest.”
“It makes my Sword all weapons to me. My Sword is my Hammer."
He took another deep breath. "Oh gods. So, you get stacking bonuses for a Hammer using the Gauntlets while using your Sword..."
"What... did it take for you to get that Grandmastery?" he had to ask. Naturally I hadn’t shared to specs of it. Grandmasteries were something you had to discover on your own, or they were worthless.
"Mmmm. Well, full Mastery in multiple different melee Weapons and Feats to go with them was the big thing. I think it triggered at twelve of them, but I have fifteen to be on the safe side."
"Fifteen full Weapon Masteries and matching weapon Feats." He closed his eyes. "Only a Forsaken." Again, just an extravagant waste of time and Karma...
"Got that right, Caster!" I said cheerfully. "You just go off in a corner and get your rep counts for Casting, Weirding Metas, Sieging, and Reserves, now."
"You forgot spell research," he sniffed.
"Warcasters do spell research?" I questioned loudly.
"No, we pay Eggheads to, but it's still a time suck." I just gave him a look, and he smiled sheepishly. "Okay, spell swapping for Sorcerers..."
"Immaterial once you become a Magos… Magos Argos. And you think I don't know about Knowledge and Spell Retention items?"
"Okay, okay. But our crafting time is the same as yours."
"Can you fly without your Gear?" The question hung there for a long moment. "Right. Moving the conversation along…"
"How the Hells did you get a Zehn Sword so fast? I mean, just finding the time to make a QL 40 Sword-"
"55," I interrupted him.
"Tremble is QL 55."
He flapped his lips again for a moment, then realized there was a reason my Sword was smacking the back of his eyeballs.
"So's my Armor, Shield, and both of my Autobows. Tail is 45, Masspack 35. Floating Forge is a 45. Anvil is a 45. Crafting Tools are 45."
"Where do you find the time to make all this stuff?" he fairly exploded. "Why did you make something at 55?"
"One, Runesmiths Invest Karma when crafting, and the limit is based on craftsmanship. So, QL 55 is not only the highest quality level possible for adamant, it's also the limit for Crafting Karma. So, 63k Invested Karma for a QL 55 tool, input at 12k a day.” His eyes almost popped again.
"Two, QL limits top end possibilities for a Weapon. Deep design improvements penalize the check. Arsenal effects require higher QL to sustain. We've already run into an Eternal here in this sad sack of Thanatopic Land-chow, hopefully the only one for a while… but I doubt it. It means we also might meet a friendly one. If I find one who can do Eternal Forging and is willing to break the Zehn barrier, I'll need to have a Weapon ready that can handle that level of stress.
"I have no desire to keep reforging my Named Weapon as you and yours are going to have to do, and I wanted my Weapon at full functionality as soon as possible."
"Runesmiths aren't limited by the daily goldweight Infusion limit when Crafting…" he whispered to himself, more then anyone. "You just told me you've a full Crafting Trio worked up…"
"11k for other weapons, 12k for swords."
"I… you…" he trailed off. Yes, I could make an Einz and Drei Sword per day from base metal. Suck it, Caster!
Argos wandered off in stupefaction, trying to comprehend that level of speed in making magical items. Yes, once I had my Crafting Trio up, they had paid for themselves in merely days, and continued to snowball.
I finished butchering the Titan’s carcass. The Helmers took away the bones, I packed away the huge amount of skin, we split the blood, and the Skull was going off to become a nightmare of a Dreadskull to something, if anyone could Craft it that high. Argos agreed to get me the raw materials to get a real alchemy lab going and keep me supplied out of my mines share, which should be simple.
I helped complete the Node Seal on this Major Node. It stabilized and modulated the caldera, basically nixing the chance of another eruption, although it didn't stop lava from rising and streaming out of Mount Titan. The Vermillion Bird took command of the Domain, helping stabilize the whole area some, although planar eruptions were simply unavoidable and would be spitting out Fireborn for the foreseeable future. Something to blood noobs on, I guess.
The Bird was very interested as it watched us set up the tripled Summoning Stone. It would take months to fully power up, but form a useful supplemental defense. She watched the Obelisk going up with great interest, and Weirdboy sort of drifted over and gave her an incredibly in-depth explanation of what was going on, which she completely paid attention to without chirping a single thing in response...
Support "The Power of Ten: Sama Rantha, The Tip of the Spear"
- Auburn, Michigan
Bio: Editor of online webnovels, mostly at Webnovel and Wuxiaworld. Also edit Ebooks. Long time video gamer, former MMO player, lifelong [email protected] fan and RPG guy, fan of both science fiction and fantasy. Don't ask me to choose between Trek and Wars, I love all the Stars.