A note from solopath

Planning on releasing a chapter every night M-F, with extra chapters as needed on the weekend to keep up with writathon benchmarks. Enjoy!

I didn’t really think much about my next course of action. I had been trying to obtain a Skill. My actions meant I now had a skill available for purchase. I mentally prodded the screen to get it to give me this new Skill, eager to see what it would do.


Obtaining Power Strike will cost 100 experience. Do you wish to continue?


I panicked. I didn’t have that much experience. Except, if I didn't, why was the screen even offering me the option, instead of simply telling me no? Despite my confusion, I momentarily declined the purchase. I had a new mystery I wanted to figure out before I changed things. Once the window closed I switched my focus and paid closer attention to a part of the screen I had mostly ignored until now. It wasn’t like I had slain any monsters or gone on any adventures. The dock was the only thing I had beaten up recently, and I wasn’t about to claim any sort of victory over an inanimate object that hadn’t even taken any real damage. But somehow, my experience attribute was reading as 116, a whole lot higher than it had been when I first checked.

It was probably a good thing that I didn't need to try and slay monsters to earn experience, given my lack of applicable combat ability. It did leave me somewhat confused as to the actual mechanism by which experience worked. Resisting the temptation to buy the Power Strike Skill for the moment, I stared at the experience number on my screen, waiting for it to change. A few minutes passed, then a few more, theories whirling through my mind as I tried to figure things out. It wasn't strictly time based. I had yet to gain a single point of experience from just waiting around, even though I should have based on some rough calculations.. That meant that something I had done since I first opened up the screen had earned me experience, only I was too distracted to notice at the moment. Resolving to pay closer attention in the future in hopes of figuring out the cause and potentially learning to exploit it, I gave up on the ‘how’ for the moment and focused on the ‘what’.

Namely, what would Power Strike do? Purchasing the Skill was as easy as thinking, and I carefully watched as the experience points vanished from my sheet, the total updating without any sort of sensation to tell me it had happened. I immediately turned my focus towards my newly acquired skill, hoping to learn some more of what it did, only to be met by a familiar message.


You do not have the experience necessary to improve this Skill


With the easy path to knowledge ruled out, I began my hands-on method of learning more about Power Strike. [Power Strike] I thought, the words swelling in my mind as I did so, encompassing not just the words but the true fullness of the Skill I was activating. I felt a strange energy surge through my oar as I swung it downwards towards the dock, the movement both similar and different from any one of the thousands of strikes I had previously made.

That sense of oddness only amplified when I actually made contact with my target. Every other strike I had made had simply come to a halt, as the kinetic energy passed from my oar to the wood, leaving only a small sensation of feedback from the impact. This time something else was pulled from me at the moment my swing turned into a strike, something that amplified the hit to the point where it was clearly audible, a loud crack that rippled through the pre-morning air. Unfortunately, what it took from me was something I didn't have a lot of. It didn't take me long to realize what the problem was. Power strike was a skill that pulled on some additional resource that I had in limited supply. The same limited resource that my enchantments drew upon.

I had overdrawn my pool of energy and now I was paying the price for that. I didn't have the mana needed to keep everything going. Something had to give. What had previously been something running just outside my awareness was suddenly revealed to me. The extra strain caused by my actions meant that for the first time, I could feel the way the enchantments drew on my energy. I could feel as this mysterious energy that was pulled from me was shaped in specific ways, then channeled through the boat to run the different spells that Lirillin had put on it. I was completely out of my depth when it came to trying to modify or alter them, but I could still feel the feedback that came as they asked for more energy, more mana, than I could supply to them. It was humbling to see just how complex the spells were. To know that if I wanted to make my destiny my own, I would need to reach the point that I could either understand these spells myself, or would need to find another method of maintaining all the abilities they gave me autonomy and freedom of motion.

From my status screen I knew I had three enchantments currently active. One was Navigation which let me make my way to and from town even without being able to see or know where that was in comparison to my current location. One was the Automation enchantment on my oars that gave them the ability to move themselves even when there wasn't anyone physically pushing or pulling on them. And the last one, Listen, which let me hear and understand the world around me. I didn't know the exact order the enchantments had been placed, but I did know that Listen was the last one added. I had heard it being cast, the first thing that I heard in this world.

Unfortunately, that meant that it was also the least anchored enchantment. Even as the spells continued to try and pull more energy from me than I could supply I could feel them beginning to unravel. The Navigation and Automation enchantments were solid in a way that meant they were still being supplied with their required energy, but bit by bit the listening enchantment began to fray. Even while it was still active I was able to notice the difference in decreasing quality. The world around me was getting softer and fuzzier. Sounds I had previously been able to easily distinguish began to blur into the same humming and buzzing noise before fading into silence.

Fortunately for my sense of sanity I could still feel the boat as if it was my body. The sensation of waves smacking against my hull and the continued contact of my oars against the dock were enough to keep me grounded even as I once more slipped into a state of not knowing anything about my surroundings. Eventually, Lirillin would come back out and would be able to place the listening enchantment once more, but until he did so I was stuck here in the dark and quiet. Without the safety net that being able to hear provided me, I didn't feel comfortable playing around with my oars anymore. I definitely didn't feel comfortable testing out my Power Strike Skill, at least not for the moment. Using it once had been enough to destabilize a single enchantment. Using it again could easily remove the rest. It was aggravating that I had this new ability that I wanted to test and learn more about, but was unable to do so as long as the mystical draw of the spells Lirillin cast exceeded my ability to support them. He had mentioned doing what he could to reduce the strain, but I would also have to make an effort to improve my own capabilities, something I could hopefully do in tandem.

With my ability to push myself externally suddenly cut off, and with a drive fueled by the successful acquisition of a new Skill, problematic as it might be, I turned my focus inwards. It was time to see what I could do about improving my mental attributes.



Ash Breeze


Autonomous Intelligence

Component Weight 120/750 Durability 10/10 Enchantments 2 Mana Saturation 11/10
Hull - Wood Navigation
Oars - Wood Automation


Robert 'Bob' Rowland



Body - 0

Mind - 4

Spirit - 10

Perception - 2

Experience - 16

Power Strike






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About the author


  • United States
  • Aspiring Author


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