Once again facing each other, the giant drake pounced down on him. The ground shook and every other drake that had been lurking around ran back into the caves.
Magiwatch has saved 1 second.
You have Rewound for 1 second, effectively erasing everything in the said period. Only you will remember.
He picked the beast's weak spot, blinked next to it, and slashed. The lizard dodged despite its unsized build. It bit his left leg before he could blink away, removing a chunk of meat in the process before slamming him on the opposite wall, all before he could place his hand on the crown of his watch. He was dead, at least in this timeline.
Magiwatch has saved 5 seconds.
You've Rewound for 5 seconds, effectively erasing everything in the said period. Only you will remember.
In the following attempt, he instead blinked above the drake and pretended to target its head. The massive abomination dodged sideways just as easily as the first time, but in the process, it left its massive trunk open. Gaus blinked next to it and slashed.
It was damn tough.
The target is at least 14% harder than the sword used on it. It would be nigh impossible to create an opening.
Probability of success 7%.
He blinked away just in time to avoid a deadly swipe at his neck. Appearing next to it again, he slashed the forelegs. He blinked away again only to reappear and slash its hind legs. Several attempts later, he hit the weak spot again and the overgrown lizard fell on its knees, giving him enough time to riddle it with slashes, punches, and kicks until it stopped breathing. It was good to mention that he activated focus before punching and kicking, and together with the rest of the skills it drained half his mana.
You've singlehandedly cleared an insignificant sub-dungeon.
+5 free physique points
For killing your first boss: + 2234 exp.
It appeared the system didn't consider levels as strictly as he thought. That aside, the 'insignificant' part tempted him. He didn't feel satisfied at all.
Magiwatch has saved 20 seconds.
You've Rewound for 20 seconds, effectively erasing everything in the said period. Only you will remember.
He went back to the beginning of the fight and repeated everything over again until he received:
You've singlehandedly cleared an insignificant sub-dungeon.
+12 physique points
For killing your first boss: + 4,160 exp.
Pretending he didn't see the 'insignificant' part, he allocated the physique points to strength, speed, and constitution, four each.
Save library has reached level 8/100 (0/800)
Save library has reached level 9/100 (0/900)
Save library has reached level 10/100 (0/10,000)
Rewind has reached level 8/100
Rewind has reached level 9/100
Rewind has reached level 10/100
Congratulations, you've completed your first specialization.
Choose a skill:
Rank: archaic 3
It's been found that having to use the crown to Rewind can be tiresome (and even impossible at times), this function is designed to allow the user to Rewind using his mind thereby removing the need to always touch the crown.
Choose the skill? Y/N?
Rank: archaic 3
What if you are to suddenly die or sustain irreversible damage to your soul, mind, or longevity? In a world of magic, even a time traveler is not safe. Use this skill to gain a second life by automatically Rewinding to twenty seconds (or to whatever seconds you have left based on your MP) before you die.
Cool down time: 90 days
Cost: (permanent) -5 MP
NB: once activated this skill will always run in the background, ready to revive its master - Gaus. However, you should know that no amount of leveling up can reduce the cool down time or return the mana you've lost while executing the skill.
Choose the skill? Y/N?
There was no need to deliberate. If auto rewind was paired with any other skill he would have considered it, but nothing could compare to Gaus's immortality.
|Gaus's immortality activated.|
He still had exp left.
Sharpening has reached level 2/10 (0/200)
Sharpening has reached level 3/10 (0/300)
Cost: up to 3MP
Levitation has reached level 3/10 (0/300)
Cost: up to 0.3MP per second.
Spinning has reached level 3/10 (0/300)
Cost: 0.3MP per second.
Blader has reached level 3/30 (0/300)
Cost: up to 12MP (up to 3% purity; ordinary)
Metalmancer has reached level 3/40 (0/300)
Cost: up to 3MP (up to 150g)
Cost: up to 0.3MP per minute
To test how the skills complemented each other, he channeled 12MP to blader to create a sword with 3% purity. He used sharpening on it and the purity raised to 30%. Gaus frowned. It was still ten times the original, indicating that despite leveling up sharpening didn't improve.
He used levitation on swordplay and he got 3MP. When he added spinning it became 30MP. Also ten times just like sharpening. So either leveling up the mana skills didn't affect their relationship with other skills or he was doing something wrong. A question for another time. For now, he would check the effect of sharpening, levitation, and spinning on metalmancer. If these skills could affect swordplay and blader, then, of course, they could also affect metalmancer.
Cost: up to 3MP (1MP per 50g).
Sitting cross-legged on the fallen drake boss, he created a 150g sword which was no more than a dagger, weight-wise.
When he checked the skill again, it had changed from 150g to 1.5kg, that's ten times increment just like with blader. But the cost had also increased accordingly.
Regrettably, levitation and spinning didn't affect the skill. But he found out that using metalmancer alone could only reshape the sword into a sword-looking dagger, but if he added sharpening he could sharpen the edges and the tip into a typical dagger. He could also sharpen the tip alone to make it look like an arrow. At one point he produced a spear albeit smaller than a usual one. Now, even with all these he still couldn't mold the steel into complex shapes like say a bird or a statue. And that was where levitation and spinning came into play. After several trials and errors, he realized despite not affecting the mana cost or the weight of the steel, levitation and spinning helped greatly with the shaping. By activating the skills and keeping them in the background, he could now create a bird and a statue. At one point he created a doll and that was when he got greedy and went directly for a gun.
He shaped the steel into a pistol, or at least his idea of a pistol, on the outside. There was a grip, a trigger, a muzzle, a safety lever, and even a cartridge clip that would hold the bullets. These were the only parts he could remember. He'd no idea how to fit the ammunition into the cartridge clip before placing it into the pistol. The safety lever must be the switch, or so he thought. His work would be done if he could safely invent a way to fire the ammunition at the desired speed whenever he pressed the trigger. That's how pistols worked, right? He would have to find out later but in the meantime, he named this project #1. He expected to be doing a lot of projects in the future and it was always good to have a count.
Time to leave. Tomorrow when he came back he was going to register under a different name just to avoid any unwanted attention.
Just like the keeper said, breaking the tablet brought the doorway to him. Through it, he came back to the cave where it all started.
As he stepped out, he immediately realized the keeper wasn't feeling well. He might have caught a cold or something because he was all teary and his nose runny. He probably inhaled some fairy dust or something from the dungeon. That was why scholars spoke against eating dungeon food.
"Thanks for the meal," Gaus told the man before he left. "Get well soon."
Of course, the keeper was well enough. His health bar was showing 100% at the moment.
Consequently, the following loop would see a rumor about a certain 'dungeon conqueror' who had demolished Nascentos singlehandedly. The rumor would be aggravated by a trio of wounded initiates who had tried to raid the dungeon the same night but got defeated.
At present, Gaus sat cross-legged on his bed. The dorm was never a calm place. There were always people who liked to shout and disturb the otherwise gentle breeze of the evening. Others just liked to throw spells around, and by spells he meant fireballs and lightning bolts, somehow the academy didn't see it fit to prohibit such practice. It was difficult to even think clearly, especially when your neighbor was a bard. A bard for God's sake. He talked to birds which meant the corridor leading to their rooms was almost always occupied by some fire-breathing, man-eating abominations in the evening. Why evening? Only the birds knew. Hell, there was no way such things would even be birds just because they flew.
Gaus gritted his teeth and tried to focus. One of these days he would have a spell that killed birds and bards. Er... that last part was a joke, of course. If he wanted to kill someone it would be Tyren Ayurvada Onis. He didn't know what the guy was planning but it couldn't be good, whatever it was.
The first thing he was checking tomorrow morning was his physique. He had been eager to level it up and now he'd the chance.
He fell asleep thinking about the whole thing. One day, the loop would end and he would be free to enjoy his life.
Somewhere in Fydeba...
Nadin could spend some time talking about how she ended up with boy's name but it didn't matter, at least not at the moment. What mattered right now was how unusual she started this loop. Note that Nadin always started her loop at 6:30 am. There had been a few times when someone woke her up before that time but it was very uncommon. Today happened to be one of those uncommon days.
Bam. Bam. Bam.
She woke up with a splitting headache. It was made worse when she realized the man slamming the door was her boss.
It was 3:24 am. Her boss started every loop at 3:18 am, meaning he must have flown from that godforsaken wilderness where he started the loop to her room in just... six minutes. Fuck.
Once her boss saw she was awake, he returned to the parlor.
Nadin frowned as she took in his expression.
Assessing expression of Tyren Onis...
This would be the first time her boss was ever defeated if her skill was to be believed.
Sitting up she tried to analyze the situation. First, her boss had never lost any fight because he was simply the best, not only at fighting but at strategizing, decision-making, and, honestly, at everything he did. So why was he looking defeated? Her skill was just never wrong.
Realizing she couldn't get to the bottom of this on her own, she decided to ask him.
She joined him in the parlor.
Now sitting in silence, her boss watched three red-haired maidens danced. That was his favorite. One was enough for refreshment. Two would erase his anger and three... well, three was the absolute limit. She knew how to please him better than anyone.
Sitting still on the chair, face cold as a recently-deceased bandit, he watched in silence.
A glance at him told her he wasn't interested in the dance despite his artistic love for it. She waved her hand dismissively and the girls disappeared. Mind you, not disappear as in going out of the room, they just stopped moving midair and their bodies slowly evaporated into vapor.
"I..." she started not sure what she would say, "can you tell me what happened?" It wasn't the best question but she was too tensed to think. Imagine seeing your boss who had always been in control and had never lost their temper suddenly acting like a scared little chicken.
"He beat me," he said and before she got the chance to ask any question he screeched, "he beat me in my own game."
Red-haired Nadin jumped just in time to avoid a blast of mana that engulfed everything within a meter radius, her boss as the center.
The chair she was previously sitting on and the surrounding carpet were visibly aged and withered. Even more striking was a red flower, sitting innocently on the carpet, withering into dust as if it had lived several years in that short moment. The room suddenly looked dark. Though it must be her imagination since the lamp was out of the blast range.
"What the hell was that for? Are you trying to kill me?" She snapped, trembling and edging backward.
"You told me to play it safe and this is what I got in return," he shouted at her.
"Hold on, hold on." She retrieved another chair from her inventory and sat two meters away from him. "Just tell me what happened, will you?"
"The boy you thought was harmless has just been admitted in LA."
But that would explain why her boss was angry. Some loops back they started chasing a boy who had joined the loop without The Master's blessings. The idea was to use the boy to get into the loop again. Her boss came up with ten contingencies just in case the boy refused to cooperate. It was all under control. Little did they know the boy would go straight to the academy and seek refuge. But it didn't make any sense.
"No, no, no. That's not plausible. He wouldn't take himself there unless he was already in the academy when we found him."
"He was only recently admitted," her boss snapped. "Just a couple of days, maybe three. But he wasn't there when we found him. I made sure of it."
She narrowed her eyes in thought. It was a bold move on the boy's part since they obviously couldn't attack him in the academy, or even report him to The Master. Not that they were planning to report him anyway.
Well, now what?
"I'm going to use that technique," he said mostly to himself.
"Which technique... Huh?" Her eyes went wide. "You can't. If plan A fails we should try plan B or C or D, not just jump straight to plan Z. Besides, I've consulted the books you gave me. They all advise against it. The risk is just not worth it."
"The higher the risk the greater the benefit." He shrugged. "My opponent is willing to face The Master to defeat me. He is two steps ahead of me already. To defeat him I must be willing to take risks."
Nadin threw caution to the wind and walked to her boss's side. "Hey, I know how much you want to cling to the loop, we both do, but I strongly believe this is wrong. You could end up subservient to him. He could drain up your mana and dominate your mind if what you said about his limitless willpower is true. The loop ain't worth it. We've other contingencies, remember?" She held his hands in hers and refused to let go despite his attempt to pull back his hands. "Please, reconsider." She begged.
"I have already," he said.
Suddenly she was feeling a lot less optimistic about the future.
"It's too dangerous, boss. Are you willing to build everything on rumors? None of the Seven used it to join the loop. And although we don't have any records about how The Master joined the loop, I'm sure he didn't use it either. Why is that? Because it's mad to even try it. What idiot will put their soul on the line just to remain in the loop? Even if you are erased you won't lose much. The Seven believe the loop will soon be over, so you'll be ok for the final war."
"Nadin," he grabbed her shoulder and pressed tightly until she flinched, "I'm playing the game of loopers; I either win or I die. My opponent took two steps ahead by going to the academy. What kind of looper I'm if I can't put my soul on the line?"
She pulled his hand away from her shoulders and looked him in the eye. "I won't allow it," she said.
He frowned. "It's my soul, remember?"
"Yes, it is, but I won't just allow you to soulbond an unknown entity. Do you even remember what happened when we tried to bond a sentient dragon that year? Look, all I'm saying is to take some time and reconsider the whole thing. We're probably taking it the wrong way. What if he wasn't in the academy on purpose? It might be a coincidence. Or maybe he was just too weak to face us, or maybe..."
"You think he was there by accident? That's stupid of you. Nobody enters the academy by accident. And why now of all times? He could have gone to the academy before our meeting, no? It's blatantly obvious we're playing the game. Get real."
Yeah. He'd a point there. There was just no way for anyone to be in the academy by accident. But still, she didn't think soul-bonding was the answer.
"So you want to bond your soul with his in hope that will enable you to remain in the loop?"
"You're half right. Look, Nadin, I don't hope, I know with every certainty that I can join the loop by bonding my soul to his. It's just a matter of who will dominate who. He has limitless willpower and I have limitless mana. If he wins I die, if I win he dies. It's that simple. It has to be."
Nadin smiled bitterly knowing she couldn't change her boss's mind. What bothered her was how loopers didn't value life anymore. If something happened to their soul it would remain like that even after the loop, so why the fuck were they acting like they didn't care at all?
"I really won't allow it. If you insist then you have to do it over my dead body."
"On the contrary, you're going to cast the technique. But first, we've to restraint him."