Sitting still, Nathan was trying to sense the magical energies inside of him. He had taken temporary refuge in an abandoned building of Krakow, one of the many ghost towns all around Europe.
Waiting for the portal of the lower levels in the Endless Forest to open, he took a break from traveling to ensure he was ready. Wanting to try his luck he began meditating to see if he could feel the presence of the ever-growing magic power permeating his body. He had been doing this for a few days now, and he was finally starting to feel something. As if to confirm what he felt, he received a message.
[Sensing beginner level magic manipulation, adding it to a new category of learned abilities]
While mana was a resource to be spent fueling magic, magic power itself could be used for much more assuming you learned to sense it. Moving and condensing the energies inside your body, you could reinforce your core, assisting you in physical feats like attacking and defending. However what Nathan wanted to practice was moving it outside of his body. External manipulation could reinforce the world around you.
Finally qualified to practice magic techniques, Nathan went to pick up a manual that his grandpa wrote. The thing he wanted to practice was called 'Delicate Steps', the first stage of the 'Reinforced Steps' section in the book. By moving the magical energies underneath his feet, he could use it to reinforce any debris he walked on, preventing it from moving or breaking. This would help when moving silently, but was in reality more of a measure of progress than a complete technique.
He had seen what his grandpa could do with it, he could stand atop a stalk of wheat, walk on water or solidify sand beneath his feet. This was something Walter had come up with on his own, and had repeatedly hammered into Nathan to practice when he could. Good footing was vital when fighting, more so when your strength alone can shatter rocks during intense movement.
Practicing for a few days he finally got a knack for it. He felt a bit of ridicule towards his grandpa, who had claimed it took people weeks to learn this whenever he taught others. Feeling satisfied he realized it was pretty close to the estimated opening of the lower levels. Doing a once over of his supplies and making sure the door in the dilapidated building was properly barricaded, he entered The Tower.
Standing outside of the portal, he could see a similar sight inside to what was around him, trees, with the distinct difference of the mountain in the background. There were a lot of people here, apparently whenever a mountain appears it means payday for the people of the first floor.
With pickaxes, shovels, helmets and other equipment clearly not designed to kill monsters, many in the crowd looked more like prospectors.
As the portal stabilized, a sound like waves of the ocean came from it, signalling its completion. In a most disorderly conduct, everyone headed inside.
Walking through, Nathan took in his surroundings, looking at the mountain as it became smaller and smaller, moving father away. The size of the space depends on the amount of people entering, continually expanding as they did. He saw no one around him as everyone would be separated upon entry.
It didn't take long before he got his mission.
[Welcome to Greenskin Mountain!]
[Primary Objective: Defeat the Lord of The Mountain]
[A restrictive force prevents you from moving closer, complete additional objectives to weaken it]
[First Objective: Kill 10 'Unarmed Goblins']
Not wasting any time, Nathan started running through the forest while practicing 'Delicate Steps'.
It didn't take long before he spotted the backs of three goblins.
Putting in extra effort to not make any mistakes in his technique, he readied his dagger, aiming it towards the back of one where its heart should be.
Striking true, he swiftly moved on to the next, freezing the last. One gouged eye and pierced throat later, three bodies lay on the ground.
[You have defeated 3 'Unarmed Goblins']
[+1 to Strength]
[+2 to Agility]
[+2 to Mind]
[+3 to Magic Power]
[3/10 'Unarmed Goblins' killed]
Clearly affected by his use of the movement technique, his growth was excellent, much better than his last few days in the Endless Forest.
The first objective didn't pose much of a challenge, and upon moving closer to the mountain, he received a new one.
[Second Objective: Kill 10 'Goblin Hunters']
Noticing a general theme Nathan didn't dally.
Carrying simple bows and flinthead arrows, these goblins were clearly more perceptive of their surroundings, as Nathan was spotted almost immediately after finding one. There was quite the distance between the two. Not wanting to spend too much mana early on, he made a dash for it, using the trees as cover while moving closer, no longer maintaining 'Delicate Steps'.
Drawing up its bow, the goblin took aim, tracing the intruder, a frustrating endeavor as the human darted through the trees. In a fit of rage the goblin let go of the arrow hoping for the best, before a thrown dagger was suddenly protruding its head.
[1/10 'Goblin Hunters' killed]
Feeling the pressure of not having any scouting ability, Nathan started thinking of ways to complete his next objective without getting hit in the back. The hunters' accuracy likely wasn't good with the crude tools, but he didn't want to take his chances, only to get struck from an unknown angle. Thinking of his studies on monsters, he soon came up a viable strategy.
Moments later horrible shrieks could be heard in the forest. Another hunter strung up in a tree, cried its lungs out as it tried to remove its constraints. Held up by rope, a stake was pierced through both his hands suspending it.
Nathan's plans were to set up an ambush, using a goblin as bait attracting its kin through its agonizing wails. He felt little sympathy for the creature despite its humanlike cries. He had been put through much more painful torture himself after his father died.
Something had broken inside of his grandpa at that time, Nathan taking the brunt of it. Blood and tears flowed during his training, as his bones were broken and flesh cut, only to be healed through one of his father's healing potions in an ironic twist of fate. The potions effects were almost immediate, extremely potent on his mortal body at the time, but also with toxic side-effects, leaving him bedridden for days. He had been forced to endure all manners of wounds, often while sparring until he collapsed. His training only finished when his cries stopped.
He didn't dare to disobey his grandpa, but had little feelings for what was left of the man, being mostly sad and angry at how things had changed.
As Nathan stood atop a tree, waiting some distance away, it didn't take long for another of the green creatures to take notice of their companion. As the new arrival warily walked up to the wailing creature, Nathan jumped down not making any sounds. Making circles around, he silently took care of appearing hunters that didn't take initiative towards the rescue, only observing.
Moments later and he returned to his previous victim, disposing of both of them before they could rearm themselves.
[You have defeated 9 'Goblin Hunters']
[+3 to Strength]
[+1 to Constitution]
[+5 to Agility]
[+5 to Mind]
[+6 to Magic Power]
[10/10 'Goblin Hunters' killed. Restrictions weakened]
Moving through the forest a bit more wary this time, he contemplated on how to best increase his constitution. Whether it be heavy armor or a shield, he lacked defensive tools to increase his potential in that aspect.
As he started getting close to the foot of the mountain, he got another objective.
[Kill 3 squads of 'Goblin Soldiers']
Finding one of the aforementioned squads, there were signs of relief on Nathan's face, they had no ranged weaponry. Armed with flint like daggers and primitive wooden shields, the five goblin soldiers were 'clothed' in animal furs. He especially eyed the shields, crude as they may be.
Letting himself be spotted this time, Nathan calmly walked towards the squad. Two of the goblins rushed ahead of the others, as they got closer one jumped while the other lunged at him.
Stepping to one side, avoiding the aerial one, Nathan got close and personal with the other. As if he wanted to trade hits, his dagger struck towards the opponents throat, seemingly not caring about the incoming attack on himself. For just a moment the advance of the goblin stopped, just long enough to decide the outcome. Nathan moved towards the other goblin that now had its back towards him. Kicking it, he pinned it towards the ground before disarming it, picking up the shield and finishing the creature off, just in time to confront the last three.
As Nathan dodged one, he blocked the other and intercepted the third, freezing it for just a moment again before his blade struck. The squad stood no chance and was swiftly disposed off.
[You have defeated 5 'Goblin Soldiers']
[+2 to Strength]
[+2 to Constitution]
[+1 to Agility]
[+1 to Mind]
[+1 to Magic Power]
[1/3 Squads killed]
His explosive growth seemed to slow down, but he wasn't too bothered as he finally found some tools that were of use to him. Picking up one of the daggers, Nathan began inspecting his spoils as The Tower provided him informaiton.
[Jagged Bluerock Flint Dagger]
Magic Quality: Low
Mana Conductivity: Low
The rank represented the effectiveness relative to the floors, rank 1 being appropriate for floor 1.
Magic quality was a material's ability to attack or defend against magic itself, not counting physical properties. These daggers may be superior to steel in damaging monsters, but their physical properties were vastly inferior.
Magic quality also determined the extent to which a craftsman could fit the equipment with elemental cores, making it an artifact.
When using an artifact, you had to be able to extend your magic power into the item, from there you could channel your mana, either to boost your own casting abilities, or enhance the weapon through any elemental core affixed to it. The overall strength of this was determined by an artifact's mana conductivity.
Taking with him a few of the daggers that were pointy enough, Nathan picked up the sturdier looking of the remaining shields, inspecting it
[Primitive Wooden Shield]
Magic Quality: Low
- Mana Conductivity: None
New tools in hand, he continued his hunt for more goblins.