The lone knight and his ice elemental companion walked into the white room, as a notification announced their arrival.
Your trial has commenced.
[Impossible Trial Information]
You have taken a brave step into the impossible. Difficulty has increased to the maximum. Special reward will be given out. You have decided to embark on this challenge alone. May the stars look down upon your fortune and grace you with victory, oh brave one.
You are the first and only human to receive the castle lord’s blessing and legacy. As such, a unique trial and reward awaits you.
Time Limit: 10 days
Objective: Survive and grow. Find the exit and proceed to the next area 0/1
Information: You will be transported to the heart of the Terrestrial Plane shortly. The Terrestrial Plane is a plane of wild overgrowths of nature, filled with the vital energies that form and shape Mother Nature. It is inadvisable for an individual to stay in such a plane, as excessive vital energies have created a hostile environment.
Nevertheless, it is part of your job in this impossible challenge to brave this hazardous plane filled with excessive life force. As this is a new challenge, you will be given the full breadth of the tutorial store to peruse before your journey to the Terrestrial Plane.
Dangerous creatures prowl the terrestrial zone. All creatures have been affected by the boundless life forces of the Terrestrial Plane and have grown large. Of these creatures, the most dangerous of all is the King Jaeger. It is inadvisable for you to fight the king.
The tutorial store is now ahead of you. It is recommended that you purchase a good hatchet.
“I see,” Marcello said with a smile. “It seems that I have rekindled your faith in human potential, castle lord.”
As much as he disliked the lord, the fact that he was the only human and quite possibly the only individual to have received the castle lord’s special blessing and legacy turned out to mean a whole lot more than he first thought. The special recognition had opened an entirely new and unique impossible trial, with a special reward to boot. He was excited to see what that was all about.
In all honesty, from what Marcello knew about the castle lord from the information given to him through his title and the enigmatic bulwark knight class, only humans qualified for his blessing. The castle lord was human originally, after all, and was disillusioned by how few humans had the potential that he was so desperately searching for.
The last question that the castle lord asked him was why he chose to stay and fight. Marcello had answered that he stayed because he knew he was stronger. It was a cocky answer, but it was the truth. As he was killing the castle lord, he felt that the lord was satisfied with his answer.
To make a long story short, all of that boiled down to the fact that being the only human to have received the castle lord’s blessing meant that he was also the only individual to ever receive the blessing. And so this trial was going to be completely uncharted territory, a trial that nobody else had ever faced before.
Just thinking about it made him feel excited. He could barely wait to see what the unique rewards would be for clearing a never before seen impossible trial.
Well, that was if he survived though. His survival was most definitely not something that he took for granted.
After closing the notification, Marcello saw that a new tutorial store had materialized in front of him. Unlike the one in area two, this one looked a lot more busy visually, with five times as many posters, many of them advertising weapons and armor now which were sorely missed back in the second area shop.
The white room itself seemed to have grown in size by several magnitudes to encompass the new area three shop. Er, was it fair to consider this area three? Marcello scratched his head, pondering the answer to that. It was definitely considered a new area due to the fact that he received trial points and a final trial summary from the castle lord’s hard trial.
Either way, there was now a massive convenience store that had the same dimensions width wise as the earlier one, but now sported five stories going vertically upwards. What was once a small shop was now effectively a mall.
Time to do some shopping. With a staggering 140,765 points to spend, he was going to have a pretty great time, huh?
“Let’s go Frosty.”
The ice giant elemental nodded solemnly as he followed the large human knight wearing a blue gambeson with the torn sigil of a white lion on a black kiteshield. They were a strange duo to be sighted at in any mall, but luckily it did not seem like there would be anyone else around to gawk at the two rather intimidating entities.
Meanwhile, back at the area three dome…
A black haired girl with bangs was the last to emerge from the dreaded black door, her breath ragged as she fell to both knees, both her mana and her physical stamina expended utilizing her Inheritance, Witch’s Curse.
The system had recognized her unnatural talent for magic back in the waiting area and granted her sole access to a deviant class called the Witch. With it came an accompanying set of ink black robes and a pointed hat that were awfully conspicuous, so Emma decided to wear her earth clothes instead to conceal the fact that she held a deviant class. And, because her highschool uniform was kind of fashionable. That too.
It was thanks to her class and her inheritance that she was able to narrowly escape the castle lord’s rampage.
“You’re out, huh,” Troy said. “Good job making it out.”
He didn’t make a comment on her new all black clothing choice, deeming that it was less important at the moment.
“What happened to the other two? Marcello and Jason?”
Emma shook her head.
“Damn…” Troy responded. In his hand was Jason’s family photo, which showed a younger Jason with his wife and his baby daughter. Both he and Sarah would be missed. Troy had already made his resolution to get the photo back to Jason’s family, if he could. When he had the chance, he’d scour whatever parts of the universe were still left intact to find those two and convey the father’s last wishes. That was the dying man’s last request, one that he made wordlessly but Troy understood in full.
Troy felt Marcello’s spirit during their fights in the first and second area. He never ran away from the fight, never thought about leaving the area. The guy had single handedly saved their asses during both banshee attacks. He had guts. But the castle lord was an enemy that guts alone couldn’t take on. Now, it was with sadness that Troy had to accept that he was dead too. They butted heads in the past, but in the end Troy respected Marcello as someone with backbone.
“It was a tough fight. We did what we could,” he added darkly.
“Yeah,” Emma replied, getting back onto her feet. “A very tough fight. Now where the heck are we?”
The third area was remarkably different from the first two. Despite also being a white dome with the same old hexagonal tiles, a good portion of the dome was ripped from the seams, forming a jagged hole with broken circuitry and destroyed artefacts that formed the innards of the dome. The hole looked like it had been torn apart by some kind of monster.
Above the hole was a single word, written in capital letters. FOREST. Far above that was another set of words, this time written in steel. SECTOR TWO.
There were other people already walking about, some of them looking at the hole in the dome with curiosity. A visible sheen of some kind of mana-fueled wavey blue membrane covered the hole in the dome entrance to the forest, reminiscent of water.
At first it looked like it was meant to prevent entry into the forest before time, but a man just poked his staff through the wavy blue sheen and his staff passed through seamlessly. He then tried with his arm, and it also passed through without problem. It seemed like there was no entry barrier this time around.
“Where is the rest of our party?” Emma asked.
“Most are in the tutorial store,” Troy said, pointing at the large convenience store parked in the middle of the dome. It was larger this time around, now standing at three stories tall.
Troy motioned with his head towards the side of the dome. “Alice is not doing so hot though. She’s been like that since she came out.”
The young blonde healer was sitting on the ground with her arms wrapped around her knees, rocking back and forth slightly as her hair spilled down both sides. She had her face buried in her knees, sobbing. It was just too much for her to handle. She was fine during the first trial, when she acted as leader and organized everyone to reach the exit without any major injuries. It just felt like a group project in some ways. But the second trial…
The presence of so much death and gore was already far beyond her tolerance. And that was not to mention that horrible guilt that hung over her. She had abandoned her teammates to die. She killed Sarah. As much as she tried to rationalize it, nothing in the world could wipe the memory of Sarah’s lifeless eyes staring back at her, digging into her, asking her why she pushed her away to save herself.
Alice screamed into her knees, rocking even harder than before.
“Hmm….” Marcello said to himself. “What do you think, Frosty?”
The ice elemental simply shrugged. It had shrunken itself down to a smaller size to fit inside the store, and was now Marcello’s most trusted and only advisor when it came to shopping. Although, it was not like the ice giant really helped that much when it came down to making decisions. Frosty’s input rarely deviated from some I’m-not-sure shrugs and agreeing nods.
Marcello was currently in the hatchet section of the store. It is recommended that you purchase a good hatchet. He took the last line of the trial’s information very seriously. The only problem was that there weren’t exactly many good choices.
[Iron Hatchet]: A wooden hatchet with an iron blade. For use with one hand. Good for chopping and splitting wood. 10 points.
[Steel Hatchet]: A wooden hatchet with a steel blade. Slightly more durable than its iron counterpart. For use with one hand. Good for chopping and splitting wood. 15 points.
[Obsidian Hatchet]: A wooden hatchet with an obsidian blade. Much more durable than its steel counterpart. For use with one hand. Good for chopping and splitting wood. 50 points.
Well, the most expensive one was only fifty points, so there was no point in getting a cheaper option.
Please confirm purchase of [Obsidian Hatchet].
Purchase confirmed. 50 points deducted from your balance. Your remaining balance is 140,715 points.
Eh, since it was so cheap, it wouldn’t hurt to buy one more for backup. He could always use his sword to chop things up as a last resort, but it felt a bit demeaning to do that, and it probably wasn’t very effective either.
Please confirm purchase of [Obsidian Hatchet].
Purchase confirmed. 50 points deducted from your balance. Your remaining balance is 140,665 points.
Alright. Now that the most pressing matter was taken care of, it was time to check out the rest of the store. Marcello had a newfound respect for the expensive items in the store now that he experienced the full might of the Scroll of Summon Ice Elemental. Tutorial points could purchase extremely overpowered items, and it was well worth risking life and limb for them.
Although Marcello’s first thought, as any regular person’s would be, was to buy some pretty overpowered weapons and armor first, his experience with the ice elemental scroll taught him that sometimes the most valuable items could be the things like scrolls and trinkets that he’d probably gloss over normally.
As for armor, the Enigmatic Knight’s Armor was pretty sick looking, but because it was a locked item he couldn’t really get any bonuses from it. It was basically the same as a very well made uncommon or maybe even rare armor without the bonuses. Easy to move in and offered some pretty good protection, but otherwise kind of just normal.
His longsword was a different beast. The +Lifesteal effect already made it stand out, and it could be further imbued with dark energies, although that option was probably off the table now that he took the Enigmatic Bulwark Knight class and received -Intelligence and -Wisdom.
So for all intents and purposes, his longsword was a very well crafted rare tier weapon with a lifesteal effect. With the longsword being able to hold its own, his shopping list didn’t really need a primary weapon with the range of a sword.
To sum up his equipment shopping list, he wanted a stronger ranged weapon than his basic tier shortbow, a spear-like weapon that could help him fight against monsters from a bit longer of a range, possibly some better armor, and a shield. Knights needed shields after all. What the hell was the purpose of the bulwark in his class title if he wasn’t going to equip a shield.
He’d budget a good amount of his points for equipment, then maybe five hundred points or so for some survival gear, and then look around and see if anything crazy and interesting caught his eye like the Scroll of Summon Ice Elemental from before. Anything with a high price tag was definitely worth the points, and he had a whole lot of points to spend.
Marcello began to walk around the first floor of the store to see if anything caught his eye. There were a total of five floors this time around, and since the time limit was ten days he could take his sweet ass time browsing the shop. Oh yeah, there was that food vending machine again in the middle of the store. After he was done shopping it was time to eat some of that wacky food again. Reminded him of the nice time he spent with Alice back in the second area.
The first floor was remarkably similar to the first floor of… wait… it was exactly the same! In that case, Marcello headed over to the only item that would interest him here. He ran over to the scroll section only to be sorely disappointed to see that the holder that once displayed the Scroll of Summon Ice Elemental was now empty.
“Guess you were a one time purchase huh,” Marcello said to his ice elemental friend.
The giant nodded.
Ah fuck, don’t forget the eggs and milk. He shelled out an additional 200 points for health and mana potions. Wait, he didn’t need mana potions did he? By the time he realized, it was already too late. Not like it mattered, since it hardly made a dent in his points wallet.
Onto the second floor!
There were a lot of interesting items on the second floor, but before he could be tempted to buy anything else, Marcello began to think about something. If the first floor was the same as the one in the second area, then the second floor would correspond to the third area, so… if that logic held up, it meant that the best stuff was on the highest level.
Yeah. No point in wasting points on things that were available to everyone else when he had access to floors that were only available to him and him alone.
Marcello sprinted up to the fifth floor, just closing his eyes as he passed each floor so as not to get tempted by all the shiny items. Strangely, after the fourth floor, the staircase had changed from a sleek modern set of stairs to a stone stairwell, and the surrounding walls were stone now as well.
He climbed up carefully, a bit apprehensive about the sudden change in scenery. After a short while, he came across a dead end.
It was an archaic wooden door, with a shining key hanging from a hook to the right of it. He tried to open the door, but it wouldn’t budge. Locked.
Marcello used identify on the key.
[Golden Key]: A golden key that unlocks the door to the secret compartment of the tutorial store. What wonders will you find beyond this door? 10,000 points.
This was a no brainer.
Please confirm purchase of Golden Key.
Purchase confirmed. 10,000 points deducted from your balance. Your remaining balance is 130,465 points.