Steve found Daniel about an hour later. Daniel stopped doing the obstacle course and they talked for a bit and ate the food Steve had brought. Steve had done some of his own research and had found additional items they would need before entering the Team Dungeon again. They would need to run the Solo Dungeon for some more coins to afford everything, but it shouldn't be a problem for them. Daniel also told Steve about his plans and theory about how they could use their new title for some additional advantages when entering the Team Dungeon.
After their talk, Daniel wanted to get some sleep. He hadn't really ever felt tired physically since he gained ‘Troll Regeneration’ since it constantly refreshed his body physically, but mentally with all of the fighting they had been doing and the stress of Steve almost dying he needed some sleep. Daniel asked the AI if it could make him a room to sleep in and seconds later a new door appeared in the central room. Entering the room with Kota all Daniel saw was a bed and basically nothing else besides another closed door at the other end of the room. Through the door, there was a toilet, sink, and shower basically just the bare necessities. He lifted his arm and smelled his armpit and recoiled. He wreaked, so even though he was still mentally exhausted he took a shower before clamoring into bed and getting a good night's sleep.
In his dreams, Daniel heard whispers. They were familiar yet not at the same time, but he could not make out their words. The voices seemed to speak to him from a great distance with the wind carrying their words to him. A cliff was in front of him and he ran to the edge and yelled, “What are you trying to say I can't hear you?”
The whispers increased further in volume but were still just as unintelligible to his ears. He did not know why, but he desperately needed to know what they were whispering to him, but the cliff in front of him dropped into nothingness and there was no place for him to cross as far as his eyes could see in either direction; he could only barely see the other side of the chasm that lay between himself and the whispers.
‘I only wished there was a bridge for me to cross’
As he had that thought a bridge appeared in front of him floating over the endless abyss ten feet from the edge of the cliff. He didn't think and rushed forward and leaped into the air. He hung suspended in the air for what felt like an eternity, but eventually, he landed on the bridge and continued to run forward when a new section of the bridge appeared in front of him providing a way forward. He continued his headlong sprint forward and after several minutes of running, he thought to look back to where he had come from. He saw the sections of the bridge he had already crossed crumbling away and falling into the void beneath him. The thought that if he faltered in his run for even a second would cause his end scared him, for he knew that he fell into the endless abyss something terrible would happen to him. That fall terrified some small primitive part of his brain, so he pushed it away and continued his sprint.
With every passing minute that he ran the whispers grew louder and louder until they became deafening to his ears. He could clearly make them out, but their words meant nothing to him for all he knew they were gibberish; he did not understand what they were saying. He didn't know if they were in a different language or if it was something else. The cliff he was running towards seemed just as far away as it had been when he had started his run, but when he glanced back the cliff he had been on was nowhere to be seen. The only landmark he had was the cliff that never seemed to get any close but the voices, oh the voices continued to get even louder until he could no longer think as whispers drowned out his thoughts.
Ahead of him, the bridge changed and instead of a narrow walkway of stone, there was a circle. He ran onto it and looked back to see the bridge crumble away leaving him no place to advance and nowhere to flee. Stopping in the center, he cried out “what are you trying to say to me?!” He yelled to the heavens, but he could not even hear his own shout over the whispers. Then suddenly the voices stopped all at once and the silence was deafening to his ringing ears. Daniel stood there in total silence for several long minutes not willing to break the deafening silence. Then a single soft voice spoke to him. It was male and had a lyrical quality to its voice. “Seek out the great unanswered question and the answer that has been lost to time--” its words were quite almost a whisper, but Daniel could feel the weight of eons behind the words. “The question and the answer are so old that even the ageless historians of Elgenbar have only found hints of the greater truth. Only myths and legends still whisper of it, but even they only contain hints of the larger truth. Seek the truth and the knowledge you shall gain will give you power, unlike anything you currently possess or could dream of existing. If you succeed, of course, many have tried before you, and most died along the way, unable to survive its cost or gave up after realizing the cost of what they sought.”
The voice faded echoes of its words surrounding Daniel. He was hesitant to speak, but he had to ask one question and Daniel had a feeling that it might be the most important question he had ever asked. “What is the question and where do I start?”
Daniel got a feeling that the unseen speaker was watching him and silently judging him and found him wanting. “You are not worthy to walk this path. Many better than you have walked it and died faster than you.”
“I do not know how I can prove my worth to you other than by walking the path.”
“You are correct. And I shall answer your questions starting with the second. You must start by learning about the origins of the system and people who made it.”
The voice fell silent, seeming to be partially unwilling to speak further, but Daniel had to know so he risked prodding the voice. “And what about the first question?”
“What is The Crafters Legacy and how does it relate to the creation of the system itself?”
With those words, the voice left and Daniel knew instinctively that it had. “What is The Crafter Legacy?” Daniel spoke aloud.
‘This Feat seemed like more trouble than I originally thought that it would be. Not only does it try to kill me every time I use it, but it is also somehow related to the creation of the system itself. This is just great.’
Daniel woke up feeling refreshed with the dream still vivid in his mind, but the more that he reflected on the nature of the dream and the conversation he had the less certain he became that it had been just a dream. He had a notification of his vision so he opened it and read what it said.
Quest The Origins of the System: The system is ancient and powerful beyond understanding. Little is known about the people who made it or why, and all knowledge about its creation has been lost to the ever marching progress of time. All except for ‘The Crafters Legacy.’
Objective: Learn more about the system and ‘The Crafters Legacy’ which you are the current holder of.
He lay in bed and read the quest. It gave him no information about what he should do or how he could advance the quest. He would have to figure everything out himself with no help from the system.
He sat up and swung his legs off of the bed and stood. Kota upon his moving also awoke and hopped down from the bed. For now, it was time to get back to work. Relieved himself and then asked AI to also make a place where Kota could also relieve himself. Daniel didn't know where the dog had been going up to this point and decided not to think about it. The AI had some kind of cleaning system in place since the blood from when his Feat had knocked him out after completing the two mauls was also gone. For now, though he had skills to gain and training to complete. Walking around he didn't see Steve in any of the rooms, but did notice another door next to his and had to assume Steve had also decided to get some sleep and had gotten the AI to make another bedroom.
Daniel went back to the shop and purchased breakfast for 10 coins. When it appeared on the counter it was still warm. It was nothing fancy, just some eggs toast, and spicy sausage, but Daniel had to admit that the meal was delicious though he also had to wonder what kind of meat he had just eaten. Earth wasn't technically part of the system yet, so this meant couldn't have come from earth or he didn't think it could have unless one of the other Heros had sold it to the shop, but then who would have cooked and resold it to the shop as a meal. Daniel's thoughts were just spirling at this point and decided that it was probably some kind of alien meat that was similar to pork; no point in dwelling on it further.
Walking back to the obstacle room he put on the needle vest and began to run the obstacle course again while Kota did the stealth one. Based on the book he should have about four more laps to do to unlock five or six of the skills. Apparently, it was difficult to just stumble into gaining general skill because it took a concerted effort to do so. Like running for example it could be a skill one gained by accident, but he wouldn't get it by just going for a job. You had to run for a specific distance and amount of time to gain the skill which was one of the reasons Daniel couldn’t slack and stop partway through the obstacle course he had a pace to keep.
As he ran the course with the pain vest constantly causing intense agony as the needles pierced his skin he thought about the quest he had received from the system. He had inferred from the miners in the Team Dungeon that system quests were apparently a big deal and not to be taken lightly. He had some idea about how he should start because of what the voice in his dream had told him, but wasn't sure if he would be ready to enter the Team Dungeon again to test his theory for a while. He needed to train and maybe run the Team Dungeon with Kota a few more times to gain some more levels and skills. One of the only problems with that though was the fact that the Team Dungeon scaled with their level while the Solo Dungeon did not. Once he got the general skills he wanted it would probably take him a week of hard work to progress most of them to level 2 which would hopefully help, but would that be enough?
His mind flashed back to the earth mana stone he had gotten as a reward from the dungeon. Steve and his plan had been to get enough coins to purchase an aspectless mana stone for them to use to open his mana channels, but now he had an earth one. He didn't know if he should sell it or use it to open his mana channels instead. Not having his tier V specialization was a hinderinous to his growth. Currently, at level 5, he had not gained ten stat points because he hadn't chosen his specialization yet and he wouldn't gain those stats until he did. At the same time, he didn't know what mana channels formed from an earth mana stone would do. He didn't know enough about mana to make a guess, he would have to ask Steve when he saw him next. He continued to run and he thought about the system, his quest, and his feat, and how they all related to each other.
It took three and a half hours, but he did end up gaining the skills. He resisted looking at them until he finished his half an hour of meditation. When he eventually got a small chime in his mind that intruded on his meditation he stopped his meditation and looked at his gains.
Pain Resistance ( 1/5 ): Pain means nothing to you when you have already experienced the pain of a thousand swords piercing your body. The pain only makes you stronger and you relish the clarity that it gives your mind. Passive. Reduce the physical feeling of pain by 10% (current bonus 5%). Cost to increase 2 Skill Points.
Running ( 1/5 ): The feeling of the wind rushing past you drives you to run even faster. Passive. Reduce the stamina expenditure of jogging by 10% and sprinting by 5% (Current bonus 5% and 2.5%). Cost to increase 2 Skill Points.
Jumping ( 1/5 ): When you jump your hand brushes the clouds with every leap. Passive. Jumping height and distance increased by 10% (Current bonus 5%). Cost to increase 2 Skill Points.
Climbing ( 1/5 ): The mountain you climb is massive, but that only means that it will take longer to reach the top. Passive. Stamina expenditure reduced by 10% and Grip Strength while climbing increased by 10% (Current bonus 5% and 5%). Cost to increase 2 Skill Points.
Meditation ( 1/5 ): Even the destruction of the stars can’t break your concentration as you meditate. Active. When actively meditating your mind is sharper and your control is greater. You are better able to see inside or outside of your body and are better able to sense mana while in meditation. While in meditation mana recovery is increased 10% (Current bonus 5%). Cost to increase 2 Skill Points.
He had gotten five out of the six skills he had been expecting. He had not received ‘Physical Fitness’ and after reading about it in the book again he found out why. Physical fitness was different from the other skills. To get it you had to stick to a strict exercise regimen which not only included cardio like he had been doing but also weight training and working on different muscle groups depending on the day of the week. He asked the AI to make a weight room for him and started the required training immediately. To gain the skill he would have to follow the set of workouts to a tee for a week straight, and if he wanted to increase the skill further that time commitment to his training would increase to longer and longer. Apparently, to get to level 5 in the skill without using skill points he would have to follow a regime for five years straight never missing a day or the required time would reset. The exercises would also always have to be a challenge which meant if the exercises became too easy he would have to make them harder by changing the exercise or increasing weights and so on. realistically he could probably get the skill to at least level two which would take one month of commencement on top of the additional one week to get the skill so it would take five-weeks total to get the skill to level 2, but it would be doable especially with the time compression the Training Room provided. He might be able to get the skill to level three before The System finished initializing, but for now, that was a ways off.
Back to the matter of the skills he had gained. They were decent, nothing amazing especially for him, but still solid buffs overall that he could further improve with time and could help him in fighting and other activities. Meditation was probably one of the better ones he had received, but again because troll regeneration the other skills that reduced only stamina consumption would be of more limited use to him, he decided he would still try and get all of the skills to the next level especially meditation for the increase in concentration and control the skill provided. He might even try to get it to level 3. He might be able to use the skill to improve his ‘Mental Fortress’ skill which had proved its usefulness in his fight against the earth elemental boss when its single blow had shattered his bones. Without the skill that would have likely been the end for him and Steve.
As he was thinking and performing the required exercises for ‘Physical Fitness’ Steve entered the obstacle room. The AI had made the weight room to the side of the obstacle courses, but still within the same room as them.
“So, I looked over the skills in the shop and found one I think could help the both of us. It's called ‘Party interface.’ It's a skills gem and not very expensive, but would take one of the limited amounts of slots we get for learning general skills with the gems, but it will be worth it. From my understanding, it is basically impossible for you to learn the skill without a skill gem so most people are fine with using the gem for that reason not even mentioning its other benefits. It's so cheap because almost every single adventure has the skill and when they max the skill they sell the gems back to the shop.”
“So what does it do?”
“Well, a few things. At level 1 it will give you a sense of how much health a team member has and allows you to telepathically communicate with others with the skill that is in your ‘Party.’”
“Why did you emphasize the word party at the end there? It seems to have more meaning behind the word than what you said, and we already have been a party. We had to be to enter the Team Dungeon.”
“You misunderstand. So for starters, one of the reasons the skill is considered so amazing is because it will unlock your latent psionic power. It will only do so in a limited manner and won't be a true psionic awakening, but it's that minor psionic awakening that allows you to telepathically communicate with people that have the same skill. It is the cheapest and easiest way to unlock psionic power, but that's off-topic. Okay, so when two or more people who have this skill wish to form a party they can project their psionic power and bind it together. This is what allows mental communication and also a live understanding of a person's current health, mana, and stamina. At higher levels, it can do even more. At level one you can only form a link with about five or six people; it really depends on the total mental strength of the people forming the party. At the next level that number increases further to around ten to twelve while also unlocking the option for the party leader to make party contracts as long as they have the skill at level 2. This allows party members to know they are working with trustworthy people who won't betray them at the first sign of good loot. This means that if you don't possess the skill people A. can't add you to a party so other party members won’t know your live status during fights and B. won't trust you to have their best interests in mind and will refuse to add you to the party. This is the main reason why it's considered absolutely necessary for every adventure to have the skill and why the skill is so cheap. By having the skill gems price regulated at a low price it means that every single adventurer can afford the skill and the ones that refuse to buy it are untrustworthy. Apparently, most adventuring companies require members to have it to even join those types of organizations.”
“That does seem invaluable, how much is a crystal you said it was cheap?”
“Around a thousand coins per crystal.”
“That doesn't seem too bad, it's less than a single run through the Solo Dungeon, but I still don't know what the true worth of the coins is so it's hard to really judge.”
“Yeah, I have been trying to figure that out as well with little success so far.”
“Now something you were talking about was that this skill unlocked your ‘latent psionic power’ as you said. What does that really mean and why would someone want to besides the obvious benefits of the skill?”
“Well by unlocking it as an option you could get class advancement options based on psionic magic or skills, but I don't think either of us wants that based on our classes, so really it's only the skill that benefits us, but that also depends on the specialization offered. And besides, the skill gem will only give us minor telepathy with limited ranges with others who are psionically awakened.”
“Okay let's go buy stones, though this will mostly clean me out of coins.”
“Really what did you spend it all on? I mean I received over seven thousand. I was thinking I might save up a bit more and get a storage ring soon.”
Daniel sighed, “The skill book guide I bought cost me five thousand. I mean it's proved it’s worth so far, but several of the skills I have unlocked so far will only be of limited use to me. Like ‘Running’ reduces the stamina cost of running and sprinting, but I constantly regenerate stamina because of ‘Troll Regeneration,’ and so far I haven't really been able to lower my stamina by any significant degree and then constitution is my highest stat and that also influences how healthy my body is, so I can only assume that a more healthy body would be more efficient and require less stamina to perform actions so not the greatest skill for me at the moment. Though ‘Pain Resistance’ is nice and I think stealth and acrobatics could be as well, but I haven't gotten those yet.”
“Hmm that's all interesting, and don't worry about it, I'll buy the stone for you. I mean I’ll also be using that book you bought to gain the skills soon so it seems like a fair trade to me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, it's not a problem I mean you did save my life after all it's quite literally the least I can do, and besides didn't you spend some coins to buy health potions for me as well, so in a way, I’m just paying you back for that.” Steve purchased the two gems and handed one of them over to Daniel.
“Thanks I have a theory I want to test with this, so I’ll catch up with you a bit okay.”
“Sure thing, I’ll get started on the obstacle courses, and also Parker should be here in about sixteen hours Training Room time give or take a few hours.”
“Good to know. Good luck with your training.”
“Thanks, you too.”
Daniel left Steve and went back to the room he had slept in, and sat cross-legged on the bed and entered 'Meditation.' Once his mind cleared of all thoughts he entered that separate mental space he had made with ‘Mental Fortress.’ His mental avatar appeared on the first floor of his tower. Walking to one of the walls he mentally reached out and began to reshape stone into a seamless door made entirely out of solid stone with metal hinges and with his new door exited the tower. Stepping out he peered around; he could still see some grey clouds of knowledge floating around in various points in the sky. A little less than two days had passed since the event that had led to him gaining the ‘Mental Fortress’ skill and he could still see remnants of the storm that had raged inside of his mind in an attempt to kill him. There were some minor cracks in his tower and the grassy field that it stood on was no mostly bare earth with small patches of grass left. Before he continued with his plan Daniel decided to clean up a bit first.
He decided to start with his tower since it was the only thing in this area that he had consciously made himself. He walked around the base and mended any cracks that had formed in its foundation. Once that was done he re-entered the tower and began to climb each level and fix anything else that had been damaged. It only took him a few hours and he once again stood on the top of the tower. Unwilling to walk all the way back down he decided to make a fireman's pole all the way down the center that would end just above his safe room on the first floor.
It took longer than he would have liked. He wasn't able to just visualize a pole that went all the way through the tower; he had to go one floor at a time. The process went as follows. Open up a hole in the floor. Reinforced the area around the hole as to not cause any structural weakness. Extend the metal pole down to the next floor and slide down it himself. Then repeat. Each floor didn't take that long, only a few minutes per, but because of how many floors the tower had, the process seemed to drag on for Daniel. The only thing that kept him going was the fact that once it was done it would speed up travel in the future. You never know he might one day be able to turn it into an elevator, but for now, he had a pole.
Once finished he also repaired the grassy field which only took about twenty minutes and then he could finally get back to why he was here in the first place. His experiment. Leaving the tower he looked around, and once ready he accessed that separated feeling that he had experienced when fighting the elemental boss and moved his body while still in the mental space. It was almost like he was in a kind of purgatory state where he was not fully in his body and not fully in his mental space but somewhere between both. He wasn't able to interact with anything in his mental space and at the same time, the feeling of his own body felt distant as if he was controlling a puppet. It was harder than he remembered and it felt like the only reason he succeeded was because of the meditative trace that gave him better focus and greater control his meditation gave him.
Holding the skill gem in his hand he lifted it up and pressed the stone to his forehead and held it there. Once done he fully re-enter his mental space and watched to see what would happen. He stood in the doorway of the tower ready to retreat inside if necessary. He didn't know how similar a skill gem was to whatever happened with his ‘Crafting Legacy’ feat, but he didn't want to take any risks at the moment if he could help it.
As he watched white streams of fog emerged from the ground and began to coalesce in a fog bank that encircled the tower. They were fluffy and white, unlike the grey clouds that still spotted some parts of the sky. The fog rolled around constantly moving, but other than it being there nothing seemed to happen. When he looked at his status page which he had no problem doing while in this mental form he saw that he had not yet gained the skill.
‘What's different, why have I not gained the skill yet? Does it just take longer or is something else at fault.’
Steve had mentioned the skill awakening his psionic potential, and now that he thought about it he didn't know what that truly meant or how that process was supposed to work. As he watched for many long minutes an idea came to him. That had been happening a lot recently where ideas just seemed to appear in his mind. He thought it was an effect of his ‘Powerful Organs’ skill allowing him to make connections and understand data, but that was off track for what he was currently doing. His thought had been what if the fog doesn't have anywhere to go. He had re-entered his tower when the fog began to appear, unwilling to let it touch him for fear that it might cause him harm as the grey clouds had done, but now he had a different theory. What if his mental body that he used to move around in this place was also his mind and while he was in this tower and protected the knowledge from the skill gem which appeared as a white fog could not impart said knowledge since it did not have access to his mind while he was in his tower. Was this the true utility of his skill to protect from such mental intrusions even if they are well-intentioned?
His whole plan for being in the mental space was to see the differences between when his feat gave him knowledge and this skill gem. The storm from his ‘Crafting Legacy’ did not seem to care about his puny defenses and had still forced itself into his mind, but the fog seemed unable to do that. Now he had to figure out how he could safely absorb this knowledge. He assumed that he could just absorb it without any harm, but he also wanted this to be a test run for the next time the grey clouds came. He wanted to limit the flow of the information when absorbed from a river to more of a stream that he could increase or decrease the flow of which would then help him ensure his safety.
The next step was how he could do that. It took him several minutes, but another seed of an idea formed in his mind. The whole space was a mental construct of his own creation. That would mean that the cloud of fog the knowledge appeared as was probably a subconscious creation that his mind could easily understand. So far his mind had made the knowledge appear as weather formations. The knowledge gained from his feat was like a hurricane and its power had almost enough to destroy his puny defenses while the knowledge from the skill stone was a pure white fog bank and seemed non-destructive or maybe even harmless. He wondered if that was also something his subconscious also did to make them appear according to their nature or if Daniel was just thinking too far into this. The next question was if he could actively change the form that the knowledge appeared as? He would currently try.
For the time being, he still didn't want the fog to touch him. Since the fog completely surrounded the outside of his tower his only choice was to build down to test his theory. He expanded his spiral staircase in the ground until he was well past the topsoil layer and deep into solid stone. He was also sure that he was at no risk of accidentally opening a hole to the surface with his plan for excavation. Then he began to expand. His plan was to make a massive square room reinforced by stone pillars. He still didn't know if the laws of physics applied to mid mental space, but he didn't want to risk it, so he also left a massive column of solid stone to act as his tower's foundation. And when that was done he began to excavate.
As he quickly discovered, destroying was a lot easier than creating in this mental space, but he guessed that also held true in the real world as well, so it made a sort of sense. In only four hours he had managed to completely excavate the room. He also had many stone pillars equally spaced around to provide support to the roof. He decided to make this what he was making fancy so he made the pillars out of marble he could also come back later and carve them, but right now he was on the clock. All in all the room was about two hundred and fifty feet long in length and width and about fifty feet tall. In the center of the room was the massive stone pillar that acted as the foundation for the tower above it was around fifty feet wide. As he worked he had also added lanterns around the room on the pillars he created for illumination as well as chandeliers from the ceiling both of which held illumination stones like he had bought from the shop.
Now that the outline of the room was done, it was time for the interior. Daniel began to make rows of shelves along the edges of the room. Each shelf was about twenty feet tall and once the first layer was done he made a balcony with stairs so he could add the next twenty feet tall shelves. He wanted to maximize the space he had created. He even made those old-timey rolling wooden ladders that slit along tracks set in the floor and the top of the shelves to allow someone to reach any of the top shelves. He also put illumination stones between every shelf for additional illumination. He made the ladders evenly spaced from one another; he had about one ladder every five shelves that were each on their own separate tracks, to make sure they could remain with their section of shelves.
All of the work was tiring and after the outside shelves were done Daniel decided to call it there for now. He still didn't even know if his idea would work yet, and he didn't want to put any more work into this project just in case that it didn't as he hoped it would. He could always add the rest of the shelves if his plan did work the way he hoped it would.
Climbing back up the spiral staircase he had formed inside the central foundation pillar he climbed back up to the first floor of the tower. Now comes the hard part that may or may not work. Could he populate his library's shelves with books? He looked out at the fog from an archer slit on the second floor. He tried to imagine the fog turning into a book or several books. After opening his eyes the fog was still there and unchanged. He tried several more times while also changing what it would turn into. Scrolls, stone or clay tablets, and even painted pictures but nothing worked. He mentally stepped back from the problem and tried to think of a solution.
‘Is it not possible or am I just going about it the wrong way. Okay, Daniel let's assume that I am going about this the wrong way. What is the right way? the knowledge is currently in a weather formation is that a clue? Let's say it is; how does that change anything? What if it has its own preferred form? How could I change it while it is still staying in a similarly desirable form? What if I am going too restrictive trying to condense all of the knowledge into a single contained book. The knowledge is already contained in the fog. I just can't see it.
That thought sparked an idea in Daniel’s mind and now that he had thought it he couldn't let it go. “The first step is to see what the fog hides from me.” He muttered to himself. Danel sat and began to imagine the fog and what it contained. Instead of completely changing it, instead, he wanted it to show him what was hidden beneath the fog. The water drops suspended in the fog would become letters, and these other drops of water that were suspended would string together to form sentences and paragraphs and pages of whirling paper that took the form of a fog bank.
When he opened his eyes the billowing fob bank had changed completely. The white clouds were no longer there; instead, Daniel saw pages of paper that fluttered around in the wind just as he had envisioned; the pages never staying still for long, always moving. The fog was now a roiling cloud of paper. Daniel could need no order to what was before him, but now that he could see the fog was hiding from him. In a way, it was its true form and in this form, he could work to contain and shape it into a usable form now that he could see what had been hidden from him. The only question was how he would actually do that. He would have to think about how he could get the cloud of pages into an organized and usable form, but for now, he would leave his tower and go back to the physical world. He had been working nonstop for over twelve hours and his meditation was having a hard time keeping out the feeling of his rumbling stomach from his mind.
Daniel opened his eyes and stood from his bed and left his room and began to walk towards the shop to buy some food. As he walked he thought about the problem at hand. His mind was so much more ever since he had gained the ‘Powerful Organs’ skill. His mind was clearer, sharper, more able to make connections. He even felt smarter, but he wasn't sure about that one. He wondered what would happen if he used his free points to increase his intelligence. Kota now almost had as much intelligence as Daniel. At least he did stats-wise and he wondered if that was why Kota seemed to understand everything Daniel said when he spoke to him.
Entering the shop he purchased a meal and began to eat it on the counter and began to browse the shop for skills that might help him. He filtered his search for only mind or mental skills. A few of the skill names sparked small ideas in him, but none of them seemed as if they would fix his problem. There was one skill or technique Daniel wasn't sure of the difference, called ‘Mental Library’ which seemed very similar to what he was attempting, but when he read what the skill did he was intrigued. It was basically a way to organize your mind, memories, and thoughts into a library to better access and store information in your mind. It would also help to recall information more clearly. It had some application for what he was doing and he was considering getting the skill if he found no better options.
Several other skills he found also seemed that they might work, but they were skill gems and incredibly expensive. They were apparently so hard to learn that there weren’t even skill books available for them on they the gems, and based on their names alone they didn't seem like skills Daniel could figure out on his own, unlike other skills he had seen.
Other skills wouldn't help him at all, but would be good skills to have that could further improve the strength of his mind or his processing and reaction speed. Good passive skills that could further help him in combat. There was even one that would allow him to slow down his perception of time, but it was the most expensive skill he had ever seen at five hundred thousand coins, and only came in the form of a skill gem.
Daniel checked the time. It would still be a few more hours before John Parker arrived; he could easily do one floor of the Solo Dungeon and get enough coins to purchase ‘Mental Library;’ it seemed like the best option he had found that didn't cost over one hundred thousand coins. Daniel wasn't worried about being able to clear the floor Steve had managed to clear it before they had entered the Team Dungeon.
Before Daniel left the shop Daniel decided to look up if the shop had any ancient history books or books about myths and legends and filtered the search for anything related to the ageless historians of Elgenbar. The voice that had spoken to him in his dream had mentioned them and Daniel hoped that it had been a hint. As it turned out there were hundreds of books written by these historians. He filtered the search further for only books about ancient history, myths, and legends. There were several of each kind each only costing around one hundred coins apiece which seemed more expensive than normal, but. Daniel decided to take the risk and bought three books. One about the rise and fall of an ancient empire that had spanned half of the universe which was insane to Daniel. The next was a collection of myths about lost artifacts, cities filled with treasure lost because of one war or another, and even people who became so powerful that they became gods. The last was a series of stories about heroes of old and how they were able to concur one evil or another. All told he spent three hundred coins on the books and he hoped that it was worth it.
He left the shop with books in hand and went to find Kota and Steve. Daniel had a faint sense of something and turned towards the obstacle course area. Inside he saw Steve laying against the wall breathing hard and Kota sitting on his haunches in front of the man with his tongue hanging from the side of his mouth and panting. Steve looked up and turned towards him when Daniel entered the room.
“Ah, you're finally out of your room. What have you been doing all day? When you said you wanted to test something I didn't think it would take you all day.”
“Oh, the process took longer than I thought it would, and I’m still not done. I need some more coins to purchase something from the shop and wanted to get Kota to run to the next floor or two of the Solo Dungeon. Clearing it should get me just enough coins to purchase the skill book that I need.”
“What are you trying to do anyways you never really told me? Oh, and by the way, I never told you, but you get more coins and experience when clearing the six-floor closer to double to be exact.”
“I’m trying to be able to control the information I receive from skill gems and from my feat. The general idea is to be able to control the information bombs my feat dumps into my brain into something more controlled. Also thanks for letting me know about the coins.”
Steve nodded in acceptance before continuing “Hmm, so what have you done so far?”
“Well, I took that skill gem you gave me to see how it looked in my mental space. Once that was done I have been trying to change the fog into a more usable form. I currently have it in the form of a cloud of paper, but now I don't know what to do next. I am also hoping that by doing this it will make accessing the information easier. Currently, most of the knowledge by Feat has given me I can't consciously access it only bubbles up to the surface when specific information becomes relevant to whatever I am doing or attempting. It's even responded to my idle thoughts before, much of the specific detail though seems to be lost to me when it's forced into my mind.”
“Yeah, I can see what you're trying to do and it makes sense, but I have no idea how I could possibly help.”
“The only thing I can think of for you to do that might help me is deciding what we should do with the earth mana stone we got as a reward for completing the Team Dungeon. You have that knowledge you gained for being a class trainer.”
“I will have to get back to you on that. My original plan was to get you an aspectless mana stone that wouldn't have any elemental leaning. Those types of mana stones are more expensive, but we could open your channels with the earth one as well. I just don't know how that will affect your specialization options. What type of magic were they again? Gravity and something else right? Gravity might not be negatively affected by earth since they are similar, but I’m not sure about that other one.”
“Let me check real fast.” Daniel froze in surprise when he opened his specialization options again. No longer were there just two options, but there were now four of them.
Steve saw Daniel's surprise and said “What's wrong?”
“I uh, have more than two options now. I have four.”
“Really? Well, what are they?” Steve said excitedly.
Daniel started to read them to Steve out loud.
Psionic Custodian: You are the manager of minds and when any mind under your protection is threatened by an external force your legions will march against them. You gain access to a psionic skill tree that allows you to reinforce your mind and the minds of those who accept you as their custodian. Gain +2 to willpower and +1 free attribute point every level.
Requirements not met: This specialization requires that you have unlocked your psionic potential.
Primordial Earth: you stood against a primordial earth elemental and its children and lived to tell the tale. Your fight has fundamentally changed you. Your body now hungers for primordial earth mana and will gain power as it feasts. You gain access to the earth mana devourer skill tree that allows you to better destroy and feast upon primordial earth elementals and the mana their bodies contain. +2 to strength and +1 free attribute point every level.
Requirements not met. This specialization requires opened mana channels
“That awesome Daniel. You could take Psionic Custodian almost immediately. When you finish absorbing the ‘Party Interface’ skill you will have your psionic potential unlocked though I don't entirely know why you gained more specialization options. I am going to look that up real fast.” It only took Steve a minute to figure out what had happened. “Okay so I thought the only way to gain a different Specialization was to find a trainer to unlock the skill tree for you, but there is another way as well which is what you have inadvertently done. If you perform incredible feats of strength, skill, or whatever else the system may reward you with a new specialization option to choose from, this is the main way higher tier individuals gain new specialization options. The reason we are running into this now is because of our unique situation by being ‘Heros.’ My guess is you gained Psionic Custodian because of your ongoing struggles with your Crafting legacy feat and its mental attacks for lack of a better term. And Primordial Earth is obviously from our fight with the elemental boss, but I’ll be the first to say that I don't like the sound of that specialization. It sounds like it will specialize you for fighting against one type of enemy which doesn't seem like a great idea when we don't really know what types of challenges are ahead of us.”
“I was thinking the same thing myself. I am also kind of torn. I have been working on finding a way from keeping my feat from killing me and a path appears that could help me with that, but then I am hesitant to take it.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well this specialization does not seem like it will give me any combat power and who knows what it means by being the custodian of other people's minds it's kind of creepy in a way. I also kind of had my eye on my Iron Bulwark specialization from the very beginning. Which was one of the reasons I was asking about the earth mana stone since like you said earth and gravity are kind of similar and I was hoping that it might work. Gravity would work really well with the whole devastating hammer strikes thing I have going on, and to be able to make my blows even stronger with gravity magic seemed like a good synergy to me.”
“Why don’t you just take it as your level 10 specialization?”
“What do you mean?”
“Ah, of course, you wouldn't know. The specialization options don’t normally go away when you choose a different one as long as the one you chose doesn't interfere in any major way with the one you chose. ‘Psionic Custodian’ being a psionic skill tree would not mess with Iron Bulwark, so you can choose Psionic Custodian now and still select Iron Bulwark when you reach level 10 and gain another specialization assuming nothing major changes in the meantime.”
“That's amazing if I am able to fix my feat now I can get back to crafting and making money, so we can buy the mana stone we actually wanted, so I can open my mana channels in preparation for level 10.”
“So, what are you going to do next now that you know this?”
“I’ll continue with my plan of beating the next floor of the Solo Dungeon and buy that skill book and I will hopefully be able to figure out the whole information book thing I am working on then I can take ‘Psionic Custodian.’”
“Sounds like a plan to me.”
Daniel stood from the floor, “Let's go to Kota; we have a dungeon to clear.” Daniel left the room with Kota in toe and to pick up his dungeon bag from his room, and used his interface to equip all of his gear. Looking down at his waist he saw that he was out of health potions.
‘I need to buy some more health potions, but since there are increased rewards for clearing the sixth floor and up like Steve told me I should be fine to purchase some more potions. If I don't have enough for the skill book I can always ask Steve for a loan.’
Daniel purchased three new health potions and like before put two on his waist slots and one into his bag. Then it was time to enter the dungeon for another time. Daniel readied his hammer and looked down at Kota. “Ready buddy?” Kota barked his reply and Daniel nodded in affirmation and entered the portal.