Level Up!

Research 2→3


Congratulations! For having your first Class be a unique Class, you have unlocked the Pioneer path!

Congratulations! For gaining your first Class, you have unlocked the Outsider path!


You may evolve your Status skill into the Outsider’s Almanac skill!

Accept Evolution? Y/N



Calculating Rewards…

Class Change!

None → Outsider

You have completed the CharLimitCanttalkmuchNocluewhathappenedDidmybesttohelpyouli path!

You have made your way to an unfamiliar world. Ahead of you lay possibilities beyond imagining. Your unique perspective will be your greatest tool and greatest hindrance. Taking this Path first has opened many new destinations for you yet closed away many you would otherwise be able to reach.


Congratulations! For spending 120 Skill Points, you have unlocked the Trainee path!

Congratulations! For spending 60 Skill Points, you have unlocked the Beginner path!

Congratulations! For spending 12 Skill Points, you have unlocked the Novice path!

Edwin stared blankly at the wall of text. It was the most notifications he had ever gotten at a single time. Well, so long as he wasn’t counting the pile of error messages he got when he woke up that first day, or when he beat the truck-sized Stonehide bear. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the most notifications he had ever gotten, but it was still a lot for a seemingly simple action. It did seem as though his assessment for how to get a Class was correct, as well as the purpose of Skill Points. He got a total of five new Paths for completing one, though it didn’t look like that would happen every time.

It was also interesting that the System seemed to be base 12. He had somewhat expected as much, what with his Paths being 60, 90, or 120 skill points across the board, but it was nice to have it mostly confirmed. Did it just translate to base 10 because those were the numbers he was used to?

Ewin was confused as to why there were apparently achievements for spending 12 and 60 skill points, when they would both be completed simply by the first Path one would take, but glancing at them on his Status showed they only needed twelve and thirty Skill Points, respectively, to complete. Were most Paths cheaper than what he had?

It does kind of make sense. If people have the System from birth, they’d probably get a lot more mundane accomplishments which I skipped by falling into the middle of the wilderness. I also got a lot of Paths, but maybe I didn’t qualify for the cheaper ones, for whatever reason? I don’t know.

Still, he had an immediate choice to make, and an eminently obvious answer to the question.


Outsider’s Almanac

Become the guy who ‘wrote the book’

Record information regarding what you encounter

Increased limit per level.


And we’re back to super-cryptic skills. Cool.

Edwin called his Status back up, but didn’t see any obvious changes to it, beyond a section at the bottom with his Completed Paths. Well, the skill said he could make ‘record information about what he encountered.’ So, he looked at his hand.

Outsider’s Almanac, he thought at the appendage, similar to him trying to Identify it or call up his Status. There was no immediately obvious change, but he got a vague sense that his skill was asking for an… input of some sort? What?

Edwin looked away, and then re-activated the skill on his hand. Oddly, there was no response beyond the same mental prompt as before, but this time he also felt a sensation as though the input would replace… something. Weird. Um.





Wait, what? Did he Identify as an Outsider now? What was going on? He tried using the Almanac again, but this time, when the skill asked him for an input, he mentally provided, Testing






Oh cool! He could leave notes for future-Edwin that would show up with Identify. Increased limit per level, though, did that mean he could only leave a limited number of notes, or that his notes were limited in size? He sat up in his bed and grabbed a nearby stick.

Outsider’s Almanac. TestTestTest- the note was cut off suddenly, a distinct note of being ‘full’ permeating the feedback.

Level Up!

Outsider’s Almanac 1→2


He quickly Identified the stick


Okay, twelve characters at level 1. Let’s try this again? Outsider’s Almanac. TestTestTestT-.

A quick check with Identify showed that there was an additional character on the message, as his limit now seemed to be 13 characters. Applying a new message, accompanied by another check showed that it did change when he re-used the Almanac, but the limit hadn’t increased. Grabbing another stick, he Identified it, only to see the same message again.

So it ties the message to the stick in general? Hmm. What if I try to focus it on that branch specifically, instead of the branch as a concept?

A bit more experimentation showed that Edwin could indeed make the different sticks have separate messages, but doing so overrode the ‘default’ note. So he could have a message pertaining to all branches, but if he set a message on a specific branch, that note wouldn’t show up for other branches, but at the same time it wouldn’t show his generic ‘branch’ message.

Level Up!

Outsider’s Almanac 2→3

His character limit didn’t increase with this level, though he did discover that he could tag different parts of an object as separate from the whole. He could make each of his fingers have different labels, and they would show up if he Identified them, but it wouldn’t interfere with a message he had for his entire hand.

Level Up!

Outsider’s Almanac 3→5

Identify 6→7

Those levels increased his character limit all the way to 15, and Edwin discovered that while he could even give his individual finger segments their own note, he couldn’t subdivide below that. Was it because he couldn’t really conceptualize a discrete object for his skill to work on? He did have trouble Identifying a single gnat in a swarm, so it seemed like a workable hypothesis for the time being. Even with those restrictions, though, Edwin was ecstatic with his new Skill. He would never have to memorize something ever again! He could just make a note about it and refer to it later. Like writing on the back of your hand- he rubbed his arm guiltily- only with magic! That made it infinitely better. Time to experiment!

Level Up!

Outsider’s Almanac 5→6

Hmm… What was the formula which determined how many characters he could use? This was the first chance he had to peel back the literal mathematics of the universe, and he’d be a poor excuse of a physicist if he’d let this pass him by. Since he had 16 characters at level 6, then that meant... Hmm. He had 12 at level 1, 13 at levels 2 and 3, then increasing by one for levels 4-6. Maybe it was an increase of .7 characters per level? He’d need more data to be sure, and that’s just if it were linear…


Level Up!

Research 3→4

You have unlocked the Mathematics skill!

Accept skill? Y/N

He must have been close to unlocking Mathematics, if he only got it thinking about a linear progression and not when he was trying to add the modulus of the days he’s spent on Joriah or anything like that. Still, he would gladly get magical assistance. He probably wasn’t getting back to his calculator any time soon, after all… and nope. Not thinking about that. Darn it. He was doing such a good job of not thinking about Earth until recently. Being in constant danger probably helped with that, admittedly. Still, he wasn’t getting sidetracked yet. Uhhh… accept skill!


Useful when counting sheep… though not like that

Learn advanced calculations

Improved numerical sense per level.

Even though he really should have expected it at this point, it was still disappointing to get yet another skill with such a vague description. Then again, this one might actually be worthwhile, Edwin thought as he got up to tend to his fire and warm himself by it. Numerical sense might mean I get better at making estimations, can mentally handle larger and smaller numbers, or can keep track of extra digits beyond… What was the human average again? Seven? It might be very useful.

Sadly, his new skill brought no sudden insights as to the scaling for his Almanac, but that was fine. He could figure it out himself eventually. That said, he disabled his level-up notifications and started applying notes to everything. The range for which he could apply his Almanac messages seemed to be linked to his Identify distance, interestingly, which also enabled him to sense that skill leveling as he could target things further and further away.

The general guideline for what he could or could not mark with his skill seemed to be directly tied to what he could conceptualize as a single object, so not half of a stick or ‘the atmosphere.’ There were a few exceptions to this, however. He couldn’t, for instance, leave a mark on the planet as a whole- doing so overlapped with him making a note for the mountain he was on- though that may have simply been due to him not being able to properly conceptualize the difference between the two. On the other side, he wasn’t able to make a distinct note on arbitrary groups of objects, either. He could make a note for a specific leaf, or a type of leaf, or leaves in general, but he couldn’t do so for two specific leaves next to each other, or two leaves in general. That then scaled back around, though, as he could make a pile of rocks have their own note, and disassembling the pile and building up a new pile, with some rocks exchanged, still returned the same marker. He could also put different generic messages for rocks instead of boulders.

Perhaps most interestingly, though, was he was able to focus on the material something was made of instead of the object itself. It followed the same rules for generic/specific as objects, but he was indeed able to make different tags for ‘wood,’ ‘not-maple,’ and ‘not-cedar,’ and analyzing branches from the corresponding trees let him see either the message for a branch or the the message for their wood, depending on what he focused on. He couldn’t make a message for not-cedar branches, though. It was either all not-cedar or all branches.

In this way, he was able to discover that the cliff and the giant boulder which made up his cave were different kinds of stone, though his geology wasn’t good enough to determine what those types of stone were, and the miscellaneous rocks scattered around were mostly the same kind as the cliff, a few which matched the boulder, and a handful, including his broken knife, which came from neither.

As it turned out, Edwin was also able to mark smoke and fire, though only if the former was visible, but not a distinct ‘cup’ of water (held in a concave rock), nor could he make separate notes for fire resulting from different types of wood being burned or different colors of flames. He could make a specific note for his campfire, though, and removing a burning stick showed he could mark that, though the mark vanished when he returned it to the greater campfire, and if he left it in long enough that the stick burned up, the note burned up as well.

Overall, a very productive day in his estimation. Sure, he hadn’t found any other sources of food for when he inevitably ran out of chears, nor explored any to try and find a way out of the forest, or really did anything other than sit around and play with notifications. But it was a productive day of playing with notifications. He had so many skill levels now!

Level Up!

Outsider’s Almanac 6→21

Identify 7→12

Visualization 12→15

Research 4→7

Okay, so he may have gone a little overboard, and brought his Almanac back to being his highest-level skill, but he needed those levels if he was to complete more Paths, which would give him more rewards, probably skill upgrades, which could be very useful in surviving. Besides, who knows when it might be useful to have- he checked his current maximum- a character limit of 35 letters for his Almanac notes? That could save his life. You never knew. Anything was possible.

Perhaps more seriously, though, he should consider what Path he wanted to fill out in the future. While he could complete something like Novice or Beginner right away, what with his… 39 Skill Points, he felt it might be better to use them on a longer Path, which would probably give better rewards, going purely on gut feeling. That would logically mean he should go for Realm Traveler, but was that too much to spend on a single path for right now? Hmm. He pulled up his Paths.



Skill Points: 39

Athlete 0/60

Beginner 0/30

Daredevil 0/60

Explorer 0/60

Linguist 0/60

Lumberjack 0/60

Micro-Biomancer 0/90

Novice 0/12

Outsider 0/60

Path Less Traveled 0/90

Physical Alchemist 0/90

Pioneer 0/60

Realm Traveler 0/120

Researcher 0/60

Stonehide Vanquisher 0/60

Survivor 0/60

Titan Slayer 0/90

Trainee 0/60

Trapper 0/60

Way of the Empty Hand 0/60

World Traveler 0/60


Athlete, Daredevil, Linguist, Pioneer, Researcher, Way of the Empty Hand, and World Traveler all sounded cool, and were 60 points, but he wasn’t sure how well they might help him out now. Explorer, Lumberjack, Outsider, Stonehide Vanquisher, Survivor, and Trapper might help him now, but he also didn’t want to specialize himself into surviving in the wilderness too much, which his Class changing as a result of his Path completing seemed to indicate. Though that concern only really applied to Lumberjack and maybe Survivor, the others sounded cool enough that he might want them eventually. Titan Slayer sounded super metal, Path Less Traveled was in a similar vein to his CharLim-whatever Path, and he absolutely wanted Physical Alchemist and Micro-Biomancer, but they were all 90 points, which seemed like a lot. He also wasn’t doing Trainee. It was too generic in comparison to his other options. With a bit of focus, he rearranged his Paths so they’d be easier to parse


Skill Points: 39

Very Much Yes- Eventually

Physical Alchemist 0/90, Micro-Biomancer 0/90, Path Less Traveled 0/90, Realm Traveler 0/120


Stonehide Vanquisher 0/60, Titan Slayer 0/90, World Traveler 0/60, Researcher 0/60, Explorer 0/60, Outsider 0/60

Maybe One Day

Survivor 0/60, Linguist 0/60, Athlete 0/60, Daredevil 0/60, Pioneer 0/60


Lumberjack 0/60, Way of the Empty Hand 0/60, Trapper 0/60


Beginner 0/30, Novice 0/12, Trainee 0/60


He categorically dismissed the ‘no’ Paths from considereation, not wanting to waste mental space debating them, but that still left him with more than a few options. After mulling it over for a while, he decided that while he’d figure it out for sure in the morning at least, he was leaning towards the Explorer path- hopefully it could get him out of this mess. After loading up his campfire with the biggest piece of deadwood he could find, to hopefully give him something to work with in the morning, he retired for the evening.

Hopefully it won’t rain, that would be annoying. Does feel a bit like it might be coming, though, Edwin mused as he shifted in his bed, then berated himself for even thinking something that might tempt fate. Fortunately, though, the real world didn’t work like that. As he fell asleep, he almost believed it, too.

Level Up!

Sleeping 4→5

A note from NorskDaedalus

Thanks for reading!

Reviews and comments are always helpful, as they tell me the areas in which I can improve, as well as what sorts of things you guys like to read. It's been a slow couple of chapters, but don't worry. Edwin won't be able to get too comfortable. He really should know better than to tempt fate.

Support "The Way Ahead"

About the author


Bio: Recent Physics graduate, just killing time, entertaining people, and earning a bit of money by writing on the internet during my job search.

Log in to comment
Log In

Loco ago

I just wanted to report the designation of the system as: human?
Which means there are humans under the system, in his situation I would find that encouraging. I just point this out because the MC is the type to think a lot, so he should notice it.

Thanks for the chapter.

Rusepa ago

It's weird that he put the Linguist and Survivor paths in “Maybe one day” when the latter would be immediately useful and likely easy to level, while the former will almost definitely be necessary eventually and it would be pragmatic to level it prior to actually meeting other people.

Biggus Dickus ago

Edit suggestions:

EwinEdwin was confused as to why there were apparently achievements for spending 12 and 60 skill points, when they would both be completed simply by the first Path one would take, but glancing at them on his Status showed they only needed twelve and thirty Skill Points, respectively, to complete.

Ult the Dreamer ago

He could take the paths that sound generic and are probably arranged to be useful to the population but nah. He only has generic skills, generic paths are uncool

Sage Of Memory ago

Still find it funny that he's just ignoring the fact that something or someone is actively trying to contact him through it or at least communicate with him

Aloreal ago

Choose Way of the Empty Hand.

Record one hand Pleasure. The other Pain.

Ask people if they want to be hit by Pleasure or Pain.


On a more serious note, wouldnt Novice, Beginner and Trainee give him a boost on skill acquisition? If we are talking about game mechanics it sounds probable and even if now isnt a good time to invest in one, maybe down the line it would be something to take a look at.

adamdaw ago

This dude has some really skewed priorities for path unlocks.

Ralen ago

I don't understand why he thinks the almanac skill is good. As it stands right now with what he and we, the readers, know of the skill it is 100% worthless for his current situation. I can see some used for it in other environments and situations, but right now it is a crap skill. If it's good because it can do something else we don't know about that means nothing.

Destinyzz ago

Thanks for the Chapter

Edit Suggestion(s):

Ewin Edwin was confused as to why there were apparently achievements for spending 12 and 60 skill points

analyzing branches from the corresponding trees let him see either the message for a branch or the the message for their wood,


Log in to comment
Log In