Sok Village’s departure was delayed as they had wounded to tend to, funerals to finish, and damaged wagons to repair. They had been planning to leave after breakfast, but now it was closer to midday. Robun had supplied them generously with fresh food, water, a bit of mead they had leftover from their last festival, three thousand Crowns, and a new spear for Kahari. The trio had gotten a few basic healing and mana potions from the bodies of the Night Talon’s, but only the Ghast had anything of note. Most of her vials were useless, destroyed in the fight or they lost their potency when she died. Besides the coin the ambushers were carrying, the big haul was the pair of daggers, and three more anti-magic arrows. Nissa identified the daggers as a matching pair, their enchantment was enhanced if both were used congruently. Life Leech, everytime they did damage they restored 5% of damage dealt to the wielder's HP, if both are used it increases to 10% per hit.
After a short discussion it was decided that Nissa deserved to have them, so her old daggers went to Kahari. These had a simple minor enchantment on them that kept them from dulling, or rusting, and they’d restore any chips, cracks, or full breaks over time. Useful on the road, but not so much in combat, Kahari had actually seen this enchantment before. The miners in Seras had it on their equipment so they didn’t have to replace the picks constantly. Still, it meant he could swap away from the dagger he already carried. To that end he was standing outside Robun’s tent. After a few moments he was brought inside, most of the furniture was already cleared out, and Robun himself was double checking the locks on his chests.
“Hmm? Kahari? Something you need?”
“Uh...yes sir. This dagger, it was the one you commissioned last spring.”
Robun turned and looked at Kahari, his emotions hard to read. He held out his hand, and Kahari passed him the dagger handle first. Robun pulled the dagger from it’s sheath, a simple Lunarsteel blade with engravings on the crossguard, and hilt.
“Why do you have it?”
“I already told you...Ranori died in the attack. My home was destroyed, and I thought the dagger lost, but he had apparently stored it in the Association’s vault. The Mayor gave it to me not knowing what it was. It belongs to you by right, and my father wouldn’t have been able to rest till it was in your hands.”
An air of sadness filled the air between the pair. Robun looked down at the dagger, a tear welling in the old man’s eye. After a moment he put the dagger down on the chest he’d been checking. Reaching out he grabbed Kahari and pulled him into a hug, crying for a moment as he hugged the boy. After a moment, once he regained his composure, he stepped back, hands still on Kahari’s shoulders.
“My brother-in-law was a good man. I will pray his soul finds rest till its time for it to return to this world. His niece will be saddened by this news, she was happy to finally meet him since her training was completed.”
“I don’t know when or...if I’ll see you again Uncle, please take care of yourself, and if you see Nui...pass on my apologies. We weren’t able to finish the sword she ordered, it was ruined along with my home.”
“She won’t care about the blade and you know it. I may not like that woman, but she always put family first.”
“I know, but my father would want to pass on the apology anyway.”
“He was a stubborn man, yes.”
“I’ve got to get going, Aiyoko and Tanaya are waiting for someone to save them. There’s nothing left for me in Seras, so I don’t know if I can return there but…I’ll see you and Nui when I bring everyone back home.”
“I believe you Kahari, I believe you. Now go, we need to leave soon, and you should be gone already.”
Robun released Kahari, and turned back to his work. Kahari saw him shudder, and knew he was asking for some privacy to properly mourn the death of his friend, and brother now that other pressing concerns were in the past. Kahari put one reassuring hand on his back, before turning and leaving. Bedora and Nissa were waiting outside, though they hadn’t been there when he’d first entered. Nissa nodded, having heard everything because of her sensitive ears. Kahari moved to start heading back to the road, but Bedora blocked his path.
“We’re going to check our statuses before we leave. Ixul is another week away, but the road from here to there is clear. It’s unlikely we’ll have to fight anything we don’t hunt for.”
Bedora gestured for the two to follow them as they found a secluded clearing just beyond the edge of camp. Status checking was apparently kept private except to party members, the Association itself, and any guild one was in. Bedora sat down on a fallen log, she was going to get checked first. Nissa cast the spell, and nodded, smiling.
Personal name - Bedora
Family Name - Caldice
Primary Job - Mauler
Secondary Job(s) -
Race - Amazon (Continental)
Level - 8
Height - 7’0” cm (214cm)
Weight - 220lbs (100kg)
Age - 20
Status - No Active Effects
Literate - Intermediate
Strength - 75 (Level 7)
Vitality - 78 (Level 7)
Dexterity - 65 (Level 6)
Magic - 31 (Level 4)
Wisdom - 32 (Level 4)
Perception - 51 (Level 5)
Skills - 1H Hammers 65 (Level 6), Foraging 44 (Level 5), Stealth 60 (Level 5), First Aid 21 (Level 4), Spears 25 (Level 4), Shields 8 (Level 2), Heavy Armor 1 (Level 8), Woodcutting 21 (Level 2), 2H Double Edge Swords 18 (Level 6), Fire Magic 2 (Level 4), Water Magic 28 (Level 3), 2H Hammers 2 (Level 8), 2H Axes 33 (Level 5), Traps 29 (Level 4), Intimidation 15 (Level 7), Haggling 21 (Level 4), Teaching 8 (Level 2), Brewing 15 (Level 3), Dancing 8 (Level 2), Cooking 4 (Level 3), Butchering 8 (Level 3), Javelins 8 (Level 6)
Techniques - Indestructible (Reincarnation), Firebolt 2 (Level 4), Torchlight 8 (Level 3), Mend Wound 9 (Level 3), Ignite 12 (Level 3), Extinguish 7 (Level 3), Slam 33 (Level 6), Crush 25 (Level 5), Backswing 22 (Level 4), Shatter 65 (Level 7), Shield Break 44 (Level 6), Leap 12 (Level 4), Raging Bull 8 (Level 5), Bronze Skin 1 (Level 1).
“Good news Bedora, you leveled. Looks like your 2H Hammers went up with your level as well, and you have a new technique. Bronze Skin.”
“Bronze Skin? Sounds like a technique to increase defenses.”
“Pulling up details. Mmm...Bronze Skin, prerequisites are Heavy Armor Level 4, and Fire Magic Level 4. Increases resistance to Fire, Magma, Plasma, Light, and Metal magic by 20% for five minutes. “
“Ooo, that’ll come in handy in the arena, Light and Fire are really common among blasters. Never heard of Plasma magic before though.”
“Neither have I, if I remember I’ll look it up in the archives at Ixul. Alright, my turn.”
While they were swapping places, Kahari looked up at the Amazon. He raised an eyebrow and just asked what was on his mind.
“Dad made me take classes, just...shut up.”
“Heh, what kind?”
Kahari waited as Bedora cast her status spell on Nissa in her own right. Kahari turned his attention to the sky while she was chanting, watching a distant black speck circle the camp, before breaking for the east. He was curious what it was, but turned his attention back to Nissa as Bedora finished speaking.
Personal name - Nissa
Family Name - Caldice
Primary Job - Druid
Secondary Job(s) - Wizard
Race - Sun Fairy (Fae)
Level - 9
Height - 5’4” (162cm)
Weight - 92lbs (42kg)
Age - 45
Status - No Active Effects
Literate - Advanced, Basic (Draconic)
Strength - 44 (Level 4)
Vitality - 62 (Level 6)
Dexterity - 75 (Level 8)
Magic - 31 (Level 8)
Wisdom - 32 (Level 7)
Perception - 51 (Level 6)
Skills - Daggers 65 (Level 6), Foraging 35 (Level 4), Stealth 60 (Level 7), First Aid 45(Level 5), Light Armor 12 (Level 8), Nature Magic 1 (Level 9), Air Magic 28 (Level 5), Herbalism 8 (Level 7), Beast Magic 2 (Level 3), Dual Wielding 53 (Level 5), Seduction 8 (Level 4), Persuasion 9 (Level 5), Haggling 22 (Level 4), Stealth 25 (Level 6), Observation 8 (Level 7), Tactics 2 (Level 2), Hand Crossbows 15 (Level 5)
Techniques - Dryad’s Soul (Reincarnation), Wind Blade 7 (Level 5), Gust 7 (Level 4), Air Piercer 8 (Level 4), Whirlwind 3 (Level 5), Suffocation 9 (Level 5), Updraft 8 (Level 4), Speed Boost 9 (Level 7), Air Shield 8 (Level 6), Stutter Step 8 (Level 5), Throw Thorn 21 (Level 6), Storm of Thorns 22 (Level 6), Root Spear 19 (Level 7), Petal Storm 33 (Level 8), Talk with Plants 12 (Level 4), Message 8 (Level 5), Barkskin 45 (Level 5), Mend Wound 55 (Level 7), Minor Regeneration 8 (Level 4), Moderate Regeneration 12 (Level 3), Reform Flesh 34 (Level 6), Vine Whip 8 (Level 5), Entangle 21 (Level 6), Call Lesser Beasts 15 (Level 4), Silk Cocoon 33 (Level 5), Piercing Thrust 9 (Level 8), Double Swipe 65 (Level 6), Precise Shot 45 (Level 5), Snipe 37 (Level 6), Flurry of Blades 21 (Level 4), Backstab 4 (Level 3), Petal Pirouette 1 (Level 1)
“You went up to Level 9, so did your Nature Magic. Oh you got a new technique too. ‘Petal Pirouette’. Let’s see...prerequisites are Nature Magic Level 9, Daggers Level 5, Dual Wielding Level 5. Can only be used when dual wielding daggers. Causes a swirl of petals to surround the user, blocking one attack, and countering with 20% damage. If the user spins while active they can maintain the technique as long as they keep spinning, every extra attack blocked consumes mana equal to returned damage. Fire, Magma, Rock, Ice, and Necromantic magic pierces the technique, but does not consume it’s block or counter. Two minute cooldown after technique finishes”
“Seems that way, besides those of the magic types listed.”
“Useful, especially for a squishy caster like me.”
“That just leaves Kahari to check.”
Kahari sat down on the log as Nissa started chanting. He wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to know what his status sheet said, but it was important for the other party members, so he wouldn’t resist. He still felt a little sick for killing the Ghast, but a sense of...relief as well. He had conquered such a powerful foe, even if he hadn’t done it alone. He was growing stronger, and if he kept getting stronger, maybe just maybe he’d be able to save his sisters.
Personal name - Kahari
Family Name - Miraki
Class - Battle-Smith (Unlocked)
Race - Human (Continental)
Level - 4
Height - 5’9” (176cm)
Weight - 154lbs (70kg)
Age - 19
Status - No Active Effects
Literate - Basic
Strength - 3 (Level 2)
Vitality - 7 (Level 3)
Dexterity - 1 (Level 3)
Magic - 12 (Level 2)
Wisdom - 15 (Level 2)
Perception - 8 (Level 2)
Skills - Jack-of-all-Trades (Reincarnation), Smithing 22 (Level 2), 1H Hammers 2 (Level 2), Foraging 1 (Level 2), Stealth 8 (Level 2), First Aid 7 (Level 1), Spears 13 (Level 2), Shields 15 (Level 1), Light armor 12 (Level 3), Woodcutting 19 (Level 1), 1H Double Edge Swords 15 (Level 3), Daggers 16 (Level 1), Air Magic 21 (Level 2), Holy Magic 12 (Level 1), Cooking 8 (Level 1)
Techniques - Wind Blade 12 (Level 2), Piercing Thrust 13 (Level 3), Haft Slam 9 (Level 3), Shield Bash 12 (Level 1), Slam 1 (Level 1), Chop 1 (Level 1), Double Slash 1 (Level 1), Air Piercer 8 (Level 1), Mend Wound 12 (Level 1), Flare 5 (Level 1), Stutter Step 1 (Level 1)
Nissa blinked, and then smiled. She had expected a bit more than this given the power of the Ghast, but even this was good news.
“Kahari! You made it to level 4, and picked up a few new techniques. Slam, Chop, and Double Slash are weapon techniques, but the big one is Stutter Step. With both Air Magic and Light Armor at level 2, you can now use the Stutter Step to give you a massive speed boost for a split second. Thirty second cooldown, and you can’t use it at all if you’re wearing heavy armor, but useful for escaping or closing distance.”
Kahari blinked in surprise of his own, slightly dazed by the news. He looked at the status screen Nissa had open. It was backwards from his angle, but he could clearly see the expansion of his techniques, even if he couldn’t read it like this. What his eyes lingered on most was the backwards four next to his level.
“The Ghast was a higher level than all of us. The gap in levels isn’t that big in the base stats, it’s the skills and tactics that do the most. Best example I can give is that if you were to use money, let's say ten Crowns is level one. Level two is eleven Crowns, and level three is about twelve. It’s a slow growth, but there are certain big breaks. Twenty-one is twice as strong as twenty, forty-one is twice as strong as forty. The growth from level to level changes at those breaks, getting bigger power jumps. It’s why adventurer tiers are based on them. Best guess is the Ghast was level twenty, can’t check a corpse, but if that’s true she was almost twenty times stronger than you were in Seras when we killed her.”
“...then we killed her because she was in over her head?”
Kahari was surprised by this, she had seemed much stronger than that when he was fighting her. He shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe the math was that simple.
“A few factors were in our favor, but she was a Ghast, they have a lot of passive bonuses. Level isn’t the only thing that matters. Let’s start with the simple part. In terms of raw health, stamina, and mana, assuming her stats are all five points at level twenty, she’d have the same numbers as around twenty average people combined. That means if the average person can comfortably carry one hundred twenty pounds (54kg) she could carry about...”
Bedora knelt down in the dirt, and started doing math that made Kahari’s head spin. He sometimes forgot that the big woman was quite intelligent, and in fact was the battle leader of the group for good reason. Still, it was simple math compared to the numbers he’d seen banks using for just ‘moderate’ transactions.
“Uhh, around two thousand four hundred twenty two pounds (1098kg). Of course this is inexact because we don’t know her stats, and the average stat for a level one person is actually about five. Still, that means she was still around six, almost seven times stronger than you while fighting you, in theory. Of course her base health, mana, and stamina got large boosts when she crossed the level threshold, but I’d guess her strongest stats were still in the level seven or eight area given I was actually a threat to her. That said, she could take a fair amount more damage and in a battle of attrition, her mana, stamina, and health pools would still outclass us.”
“I’ve never had to do any math like this before…”
“You’ll learn, this is the reason that army warfare is fairly rare these days, if she had level twenty stats and skills in her vital jobs areas, she could kill four or so soldiers on her own without much trouble. The average soldier is actually about level five, after that you need actual fights or quests to really level.”
“Can you explain how we beat her now?”
“Yeah, I got sidetracked by the math. Basically there were four major factors. One is that debuffs were stacked on her from the start of the fight, reducing the gap between us. Two, she didn’t know our skills or how we fought, so she couldn’t counter everything we threw at her. She didn’t even seem to know what job I am. Three, the mind can only process so much information at once, and the three of us plus her own sadistic glee kept her from keeping track of everything. Four, she was toying with us. She didn’t see us as a threat, so she didn’t fight with her full power until it was too late to save herself.”
“Your Flare, plus the Priestess, Jun. Flare gives debuffs to anyone that has a truly evil heart, or is weak to holy magic. If you are both, they stack, effectively doubling the penalty. What’s more, the camp is littered with Holy Warding that does the same thing, but stronger. Closer you got to the center of camp, the stronger they got, and the fight was focused near the center of the camp, where the weakest members of the camp were kept. I don’t know exactly, but most of the Ghast’s stats were probably cut in half, and her Shadow Magic weakened. She still greatly overestimated herself against us, and once the anti-magic arrow sealed her mana for a short time, it was all over. With all the debuffs she was still stronger than me and Nissa overall, but she still had plenty of items and skills she just didn’t use. It was far from decided till the anti-magic arrow hit her. Of course, the two of us alone would have been a pressing fight for her, but throw you in and I’d say the odds were two to one we’d win, but there was still an opening for her.”
“A lot? I know, you didn’t even know it would have that big an impact, but it’s why one should never underestimate someone beneath your level. As you stand now, on paper, you aren’t even twice as strong as you were before. A bit closer given you actually have experience in combat, and skills to use.”
“So then levels aren’t that important after all...”
“Not entirely true, as you get to higher levels the gap between each level widens. Especially at twenty one, forty one, sixty one, and so on. It’s why adventurer tiers, and with them the badges, shift between categories there. Level twenty one is actually twice as strong as level twenty, forty one twice that of forty. On paper, someone that’s level one hundred is as strong as a medium sized city, like one hundred something thousand people.”
“I...huh. Can we...go now? I don’t think sitting here and thinking about all this is going to do us any good.”
“Right, right, we have to get to Ixul.”
Kahari felt light headed as he stood up, he’s knees weak as he was still struggling to come to terms with the monstrous task he’d shouldered. Ruby was the tier above Gold, the crystal tier was the mid tier adventurer. If Rubies were being used that meant the Night Talons had plenty of people that were twelve times stronger than him, or more. Putting on his pack, he took a breath to steady himself while Bedora wiped her math clear from the dirt, and grabbed her own things. They’d been given the tents, but while Kahari had to carry his tent with his bag, Bedora and Nissa’s were nowhere to be found. Anytime he’d asked where they kept hiding these things, they just dodged the question with a ‘you’ll see’. It was grating on him, but such was his life these days. Putting the battle in Sok behind them, the trio took to the road once more, just a little over a week of travel left to Ixul.