Advertisement
Remove
Settings

Rydr shrugged away the unhelpful thoughts. To him, it didn't matter too much how his condition worked, just that he wasn't further crippled by it.

The shirtless giant stood there in the mine tunnel for almost half an hour, lost in his imaginings. Over and over again, Rydr used his mental map to jump around the tunnel in his mind.

Hundreds of repetitions of the same movements flitted by his mind's eye. Every little mistake that sent him tumbling made Rydr's avatar jerk in place, the ghost of an imagined blow made real.

*****

On the other end of the tunnel, farther up its slope, Urginok busied himself with a video he recorded earlier.

Unbeknownst to the other two members of his new party, Urginok paid for recording servers to house the terra-bytes of information his game-stream created. While Rydr might balk at the idea, Urginok never intended to show these recordings to anyone.

They existed to help develop his own combat style. When Rydr started to stand in place, Urginok pantomimed a strike he'd used to fight with the wolves.

Hidden from Rydr and Syrna, Urginok walked through an incredible AR overlay of the previous fight projected onto the tunnel. Every few seconds, the tank paused the playback and walked around the recording.

The brunette tank lined himself up with his recorded version and moved from each stance to the next, finding weaknesses in his own movements. Anytime Urginok found unstable footwork, he spent several minutes adjusting the movements until they felt smooth.

Wherever the tank remembered a tight spot, weak hit, or an attack he could have dodged, he poured over the footage relentlessly. Until the young man was certain he wouldn't make the same mistake again, he wasn't satisfied.

Nearby, where Urginok "shadowboxed" in the tunnel, Syrna still focused on the runic writing. In particular, she concentrated on the section nearest the giant hole in the wall.

When Syrna told the boys that she translated the wall, which warned her about the trap, it wasn't true. The comparison she made to the Rosetta Stone was accurate but flawed.

The Rosetta Stone worked because one of the three languages was well known. The reader used the known language to translate the other two; Syrna didn't have a known language to work with the runic writing and scribbled goblinoid on the wall.

What the blonde told the other two earlier was based on sentence structure. Since Syrna lacked a common denominator to translate, she hazarded an educated guess based on its grammar structure.

In her childhood, Syrna spent time online just looking at different languages, obsessing over them even before she could read them. Later on, when she finally translated them herself, Syrna noticed a trend in different types of languages.

They all had a tell. Whether the language was meant to read left-to-right, right-to-left, or top-to-bottom, they all used an indicator of urgency.

But, it also helped that the goblins carved a literal arrow into the wall. The arrow pointed at the suspiciously non-rune-graffitied section of the wall that she made Rydr break.

The archer never knew about the giant ball of death, only that it was something bad. As soon as that goblin party rounded the corner, she instantly chose to roll the dice on what type of deadly trap it was.

The guys never needed to know how close it really was.

The longer Syrna studied the runes, the more off they felt to her. When the archer stopped to rub her temples, eyes closed, the runes imprinted themselves in her brain, burning bright in different colors. More than just that, when Syrna shook her head to get rid of the strange sensation, the runes moved.

Stunned, Syrna froze in place before she immediately started to experiment.

The blonde opened her eyes, shut them, shook her head, and walked away from the wall. When she crossed to the other side of the tunnel, past the shadowboxing Urginok, and turned around, she closed her eyes.

Still, the runes remained. Their brain image even accounted for distance and made the runes smaller in her mind's perspective. Fascinated, Syrna went back to the wall and stared at the runes.

After the archer experimented for ten minutes, the rune's "glow" shimmered in their carvings even with her eyes open. Syrna experienced what Rydr went through hours ago, except in reverse.

 

Monumental Feat! Mind’s Eye

Congratulations! You are among the first divers to open your Third Eye! Who stops to read chicken scratch in a starter village, anyway?

· +25 Fame

· +10 Intelligence

· +10 Wisdom

· +5 Will

· Skill Discovered: [Third Eye] (Lvl. 1 Beginner)

 

Rydr pulled mana in from the edges of his vision. Syrna drew the mana out of magic runes. Two completely different approaches lead to the same place.

*****

An hour passed their team in relative silence as they practiced. In the hour their team spent at the bottom of the mineshaft, Syrna and Urginok felt they made significant progress.

Urginok repeated the steps to their wolven battle endlessly until he felt that round two would leave him untouched if it ever happened. The tank's entire focus was to learn how to move his body. Too often, Urginok felt that he stepped on his own feet.

The brunette never pretended that things happened the same way in a fight. He knew that just repetition wasn't good enough. The tank wanted more combat experience.

Urginok was ready to move on, hell or high-water, with nothing left to glean from the recorded fight.

When the tank turned to Syrna, he saw no trace of the blonde. Urginok whipped his head back-and-forth only to find the archer ten meters down the tunnel, tracing her fingers on the wall and shaking her head.

Another twenty meters past, Rydr landed heavily on the ground.

Of the last hour, Rydr only stood still for half of it. The remainder of the time, the giant spent frustrated.

The first task Rydr focused on was how to walk around again. The giant found that if he treated the passive [Springform] as if his body was under lessened gravity, then it was possible to move.

Then he learned how to handle his new speed. Rydr couldn't turn a corner for shit unless he walked gingerly on his toes.

Not satisfied with just movement, Rydr tried to run. With the thought of weightlessness in his mind, Rydr dashed up and down the tunnel's slope.

Even after his mental training, Rydr tumbled, bruising his health bar and his ego several times. Since he was bound by gravity all the time, the giant struggled to alter his mindset. While most of humanity lived off-world in the 23rd Century, Rydr, rather, Ryan, had never been off the planet.

However, the two times in his life, Rydr got to experience an anti-gravity simulator were among his most cherished memories. His body's condition lessened under zero-G.

The second time he went into the simulator, Ryan decided to cure his condition one day. Fix his back, and start to fix his world.

However, here, in this world, the giant wasn't Ryan. He was Rydr, the literal strongest diver in Frontier Online.

Just like he decided to cure his condition, Rydr swore not to let it limit him here. So the giant tried again and again.

Until Rydr finally recaptured the feeling of zero-G and converted it to speed.

Of all things, I never thought I would learn to walk twice in one day.

Once Rydr managed to "run" in a straight line with his "moon-jump" technique, he found another problem.

The shirtless warrior flew by Syrna directly at the end of the tunnel's slope, where Urginok stood. The sheer rock wall teleported in front of him.

Rydr grit his teeth and jumped, trying to change his momentum. He underestimated his passive and his strength. The giant sailed through the air, breaking the world record for the long jump by more than double in an instant.

Urginok watched his enormous teammate fly in a straight line at the wall, with no trace of a parabolic arc. Instead, it was like the giant hit a jump pad in an old side-scroller game and launched at an angle.

With no grace, Rydr crashed hard into the tunnel wall. Right before impact, he extended his arms at full force. The motion buried his arms in the wall up to his wrist and rattled his bones in their sockets.

However, it bought him just enough time to bring his legs to his chest and kick off the wall. His hands exploded out of the rock, bleeding and cut up, while his body jerked backward, trailing dust and stone.

For a brief instant, Rydr thought it was over, and he would touch the ground again. Once again, the giant massively underestimated his new abilities. His body launched off the wall horizontally, with his back to the tunnel's floor.

Unlike the end of the tunnel, where he could theoretically wall-jump all the way up, Rydr flew straight at the ceiling of their tunnel. Rydr panicked and threw his arms out again. This time he grabbed two stalactites as anchors, but they broke off.

The brief contact altered his position just enough to force the giant completely upside-down. Weirdly enough, when Rydr's bare feet touched the tunnel's ceiling, his momentum made it feel like he was on the ground again. In that instant, he "stood" in the spot where he broke off the two stalactites.

That twisted feeling of normalcy let Rydr jump more accurately this time- straight down.

The giant's heart thundered in his veins as he contorted his body. Rydr flipped his enormous body right-side up just in time to crash feet first into the tunnel floor with the help of gravity's natural direction.

Rydr crash-landed so hard it shook the tunnel, and the shockwave knocked Syrna on her ass. Combined with his previous super-jumps, stone rained on the team's head. Rydr's thighs bulged as he absorbed his momentum, sinking his feet into the stone as it splintered under him.

Then disaster struck.

A second, larger crash shook the cave and knocked Rydr to the ground. The small cave they found earlier exploded outward.

"What the-" Rydr exclaimed before he covered his face to shield from the falling rocks.

If Urginok hadn't walked a little way to Syrna already, he would've gotten crushed then and there. Time froze as Urginok turned from his teammates to face the second giant ball Rydr's shockwave freed.

The rusty red and black boulder seemed to roll in slow motion into the groove in the tunnel's slope, rock flying everywhere. Before he had time to think, Urginok activated [Crescent Charge] and slammed into the side of the giant ball.

The initial strike landed and bounced off the ball's surface, stringing Urginok's hands and knocking him out of the skill. The tank gamely caught himself on his back foot and slammed his shoulder into the ball, wedging himself in like a doorstop.

Then the boulder's weight settled on him, and Urginok almost died. The sphere wanted to roll forward, and its great bulk nearly pulled him underneath it.

Desperate, Urginok used his left hand to wedge his war-hammer against the boulder, using the weapon's metal haft to take some of the force off his shoulder. His quick thinking saved his life, but the tank's health bar drained steadily into the red as he wrestled with the giant trap.

The tank groaned in unison with the haft of his weapon. Despite his best effort, the boulder rolled forward. To Urginok, it felt like the sphere was pushed or pulled by some other force. The extra push shoved Urginok back, sliding on the floor. His vision flashed red as the tank was left with a sliver of life in his health bar.

Right as the giant ball started to "shove" forward again, Urginok faceplanted in the rocky ground. He heard the meaty slam that was Rydr throwing himself against the boulder to the tank's side.

"Move him!" Rydr shouted. Behind the tank's struggle, Rydr and Syrna wasted no time as they jumped into action. They rolled to their feet and ran up the tunnel's slope. Despite her headstart, Rydr passed Syrna and caught the boulder on his shoulder.

A moment behind Rydr's entrance Syrna slid on her knees, cutting them up, as she jumped under the death ball to grab Uginok and drag him out.

Rydr managed to arrest the ball again, but he felt the same sensation of the ball getting "pulled" down the tunnel a moment later.

Unknown to them, the pulses grew stronger with every repetition. The ancient trap was designed to kill anything that came into the tunnel by grinding it to paste if necessary.

Syrna wrapped her arms under Urginok's armpits and dragged the tank from underneath the boulder. Once they were clear, the archer yanked the tank to his feet.

Urginok, for his part, experienced firsthand the delirium that near-death gave divers in Frontier Online. He was helpless for the moment.

When Rydr sensed his teammates were gone, he grunted, "Go!"

"I can help!" Syrna threw herself at the boulder and added her strength to Rydr's.

"I can't hold this for long," Rydr screamed, "It's getting harder!" He stopped arguing to focus on the sphere. Another "pulse" sucked the boulder down the tunnel, forcing it to roll and cut into Rydr and Syrna, where they held it.

Syrna's health bar, already much smaller than her teammates, quickly drained as the ball ground into the diver's bodies. Stone continued to crash around them as the enormous boulder crushed the sides of the tunnel, forcefully widening it.

Rydr knew Syrna was too stubborn to leave at his beckoning, so he changed the situation.

Since an hour already passed, the cooldown for his new innate skill [Peerless Physique] finished a few minutes ago. Rydr activated the skill, much as he was loath to use it outside of combat. Red light briefly illuminated Rydr as his total strength score jumped 72 points, going from 145 to 217 instantly.

The crushing weight of the boulder dropped significantly. Rydr managed to shove it back and force his hands against its surface. Then, his entire body shaking, the giant pressed the sphere away from his chest and off Syrna.

"GO!" Rydr growled at Syrna. "Take Urginok and go. I've got this for now. I'll catch up." Rydr gasped for air between every word. Another pulse arrived, and the pressure forced Rydr back a few centimeters.

Syrna turned to protest again but stopped at the sight of Rydr's glare. The giant shimmered with red energy, the tell-tale sign of his [Peerless Physique]. The skill's glow settled on his metallic hair and skin like a bloody sheen. Red energy flared from Rydr's pupils as he glared at the stubborn archer.

"Do you want to live or die?" Rydr asked her. "That's fine for you, but what about Urginok? Is his life worth your pride?" Even though they always resurrected in Frontier Online, the hours or even days of effort sunk into gaining a single level could be washed away with death.

Was a regular diver arrogant enough to think their pride weighed more than the effort of their friends?

Syrna choked on her next words and roared in frustration before she whirled around to Urginok. The enraged archer threw the delirious tank over her shoulder, none-too-gently, in a fireman's carry and took off running with his war-hammer and a torch in her hand.

Rydr breathed a sigh of relief as he heard the sound of Syrna's footsteps fade away.

Then it was just Rydr and the boulder.

In Rydr's HUD corner, he saw the timer on [Peerless Physique] start to count down from thirty seconds. Every time one of the pulses came and went, the boulder grew heavier and heavier. The yellow bar that represented Rydr's stamina kept up with the task for a while, but soon the sphere was too heavy for his regeneration to keep up.

Desperate not to die and lose progress again, plus another five hours of game-time wasted, Rydr summoned his character sheet.

 

Name

Rydr

Level

4

2954/5359

Race

Human

Class

 

Fame

170

Infamy

0

Health

220/480 (18/s)

Mana

470 (14.1/s)

Stamina

100 (18/s)

Free Points

0

Strength

217 (77)

Intelligence

47

Dexterity

46

Wisdom

47

Constitution

48 (5)

Charisma

10

Luck

7

Will

22

Balance

15

Intimidation

27

Skills:

· Third Eye (Lvl. 1 Beginner)

· Reinforcement (Lvl. 1 Journeyman)

· Empower (Lvl. 1 Journeyman)

· Consume (Lvl. 1 Journeyman)

· Peerless Physique (Lvl. MAXED)

· Berserker’s Rage (Lvl. 1 Beginner)

· Break Flurry (Lvl. 1 Beginner)

Passives:

· Paragon (Lvl. MAXED)

· Savagery (Lvl. 3 Beginner)

· Springform (Lvl. 1 Beginner)

Feats:

· The First Feat – Legendary­

· A Flexible Mind – Monumental

· You Broke It – Elite

· Diamond in the Rough – Rare

· Ahead of the Game – Uncommon

· First Mage – Monumental

· Baby Steps – Rare

· No Rules – Epic

· Show Off! – Elite

· The Harder They Fall – Elite

· Springform! – Elite

 

A cursory glance reminded Rydr that he gained [Berserker's Rage], but he discarded that option. The stamina consumption of the skill only sped up his death.

Another look brought the giant's eyes to rest on [Reinforcement], [Consume], and [Empower]; when he looked at the spells, the knowledge to use them flowed into Rydr's mind.

Despite his distaste for Izor and the dirty tricks he used to force the spells on Rydr, the giant felt himself start to cast the spells. The feeling was remarkably similar to how he "made" his starter clothes while in the game's lobby. However, this time, Rydr felt diaphanous mana's sensation against his mind instead of his skin.

No...it was always with my mind.

Rydr realized that his brain interpreted mana's feeling as a physical sensation, the same way synesthesia blended the senses. That moment of clarity sent his mind outside of his body, into the mana around him as [Consume] activated first.

The giant's senses stretched, tapping into the wild mana in the tunnel. He felt the surface of the boulder, the rocky floor around him, and sensed the swirl of air around his body.

Then the mana started to funnel into Rydr's body. In an instant, he activated [Third Eye] to watch the phenomenon. Like his experiments in the forest, mana met his skin and sank into it, traveling to his core, nestled below Rydr's navel.

However, this time it happened at super speed compared to before.

Connected to the spell, which drained mental strength rather than mana, Rydr felt the energy veins in his body as the mana traveled to his core. An almost X-ray-like image of his body appeared in Rydr's mind, the "light" of the mana highlighting the nodes and veins as they moved.

Rydr lost himself in the feeling so deeply he slipped against the boulder and slid two meters down the tunnel. His hands bled freely where they ground into the boulder, his life slowly draining away.

When he mastered himself again, Rydr "pinned" the spell in his mind. The rate that mana flowed into him slowed perceptibly, but the giant never noticed because he cast [Reinforcement] on himself.

The spell normally cost fifty mana to produce its effect, but Rydr wasn't satisfied with that. Lost in the experience, the giant tackled it with everything he was instead of half-assing it because of his ambivalence towards magic.

Instead of letting [Reinforcement] pull mana from his core, which Rydr felt it try to do, the giant forcefully "froze" his consumed mana. Rather than let the new mana reach his core, Rydr repurposed it inside his body to cast [Reinforcement] inside of his own muscles.

Like electricity passed through wires and was used for many different appliances, Rydr redirected the influx of mana inside his magic "veins." The power used in the spell came from the natural reactor that was nature. That siphoned power simply never reached Rydr's "battery" at his core.

A system notification chimed in Rydr's head, but he was too focused to catch it. In his effort to survive, Rydr managed to turn his body into a zero-loss magic-hydroelectric reactor. Albeit, the shirtless and shoeless giant accomplished this feat on a tiny scale.

Nothing Izor said to Rydr implied these abilities were meant to be used this way. Izor's examples involved buffing items, not people.

However, the super-noob that was Rydr held no concept for buffing restrictions, the intended function of a skill, or any other common gaming sense. To the giant, they were all tools to be used.

So what if Rydr used a magical scalpal as a hammer? Nothing about it said that Rydr couldn't repurpose the spells.

At last, Rydr got to the final spell, [Empower]. With the other two spells "pinned" in the giant's mind, like handling complicated multiplication, he focused on the function of [Empower].

Rydr sensed that [Reinforcement] worked by boosting the target's physical structure, like coal turning into a diamond under pressure. [Empower] forced more mana into the structure of the spell. They felt remarkably similar to Rydr, just with different effects and intended targets.

In fact, Rydr found that he liked the way [Empower] and [Reinforcement] felt. The brute-force approach to magic appealed to him.

Whether Izor would have cheered or cried blood at the massive injustice to magic, Rydr had no way of knowing.

With the original cost of [Reinforcement] covered by the intake of [Consume], Rydr drew from his core to cast [Empower] on [Reinforcement]. Rydr's pool of mana went from 470 down to 345 in one go.

At Journeyman level one, each of the three spells grossly outpaced everything else Rydr possessed. The dirty trick Izor pulled on Rydr to give him a "manufactured" feat saved Rydr's life, thanks to the improved spell levels.

[Reinforcement], which originally buffed the targeted item by 5% of its base stats, increased Rydr's strength by 15% at the Journeyman level one, and its cost of 60 mana dropped to 50.

[Empower]'s earliest effect allowed the diver to pump a spell up at a 1:1 ratio. Any other diver literally couldn't use them simultaneously. However, Rydr possessed what was likely the largest mana pool of any diver on the server.

At Journeyman level one, [Empower] let him force 2.5 times the necessary mana into [Reinforcement]. The final result was as if Rydr cast the buff 2.5 times.

Rydr's strength stat, since it was his intended target, jumped by 37.5%!

As the weight of the death-ball vanished, Rydr glanced at his score to check.

298

Advertisement
A note from Zelthias

Thank you so much for reading the most recent chapter! 

I wonder if anyone saw this coming so early, despite Rydr's best efforts to avoid it!

As always, let me know if you see a typo or something that doesn't make sense. I will get it fixed ASAP!

Read ahead for cheap on P.atreon: Zelthias_FW


About the author

Zelthias

Bio:

Achievements
Comments(10)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In