I Have Even Read the Rulebook!

by

Mr Alex666

Chapter 3: Grinding for Levels. Or for food. Part 3

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A note from Mr Alex666

Morning!

Cool, I hit Rank #13.793! Thank you!

This week I managed only two parts again, so only two parts for you...

This time he threw the torch in and only entered afterwards with both weapons in hand. The room was a twin to the other, and so was the skeleton rising from a pile of bones. Prof learned from the previous encounter: first he transformed the weapon-hand into tiny splinters, than blocked the shield with his left axe, pushed his enemy against the wall where he pulverised the head. He finished faster and easier this time.

After the short battle he again took a very short brake – that was more of the “technical” kind, and he wondered why no one took a “technical” break in novels or games ever. Maybe after a certain Level you don’t need to sleep, eat or use the potty anymore? Potty breaks were inconvenient in dungeons, that was true, with holding a weapon in one hand and a very important body part in the other, he found. Still better than needing to change his pants. But no sleep, no food? That reality sounded more like a certain kind of camp, not something he would have enjoyed.

He was fairly certain, bodily functions were not affected by Level – both Old Bela and Kendrik needed to eat, sleep and use the potty, so at least for the next dozen or so Levels he was safe. He liked eating and sleeping, after all.

After due deliberations (and wiping his hands onto his pants) he continued his exploration to the room before the last. That one was quite large, his torch couldn’t even light more than a part of it, and what he could see from the entrance were richly decorated sarcophagi in every size, sculptures next to the walls and a mosaic with geometrical forms on the floor. Prof didn’t feel like searching in an unlit, dark crypt for piles of bones hiding everywhere, so he put his torch into a holder and knocked his weapons together.

Boney, boney! Come-come!” Just to be sure he sent a verbal invitation too. That worked on Earth with cats and dogs perfectly, although he missed a fridge to emphasize his statement with further. But does it matter if you are holding the food, or are it?

Obviously not, since in short order three skeletons shambled into range. Luckily they were of the first, weaker kind, without shield and helmet. Prof started to feel confident in his Skills, but was not certain he could defeat three of the stronger type alone. The three grave-rejects started to surround him, so he wasted no time and aimed for the skull of the one on the right.

As he found out, his muscle-memory for [Evasion] worked only if he could see his enemies, but if someone got in the back of him – like the leftmost skeleton did – he had to give conscious attention what was happening (what he was not doing). He paid for tuition this time with 10 HP, and was lucky his nice and stylish armour resisted most of the damage.

He was a bit upset. He even read that damn Rule Book, and there was no mention how to use the Skill properly, but only what it did. With such generalised description you could have lost a lot of lawsuits in certain countries back on Earth. Don’t put your cat into the microwave! Hot coffee is, in fact, hot! Skills may work in different ways than advertised!

To vent some of the pent-up frustration he splintered the first boney’s head, and so could also keep the other two in view. He parried a slow strike with his left (he thought, he probably should spend Skill Point on [Blocking] and [Parrying] too, but dismissed the notion almost immediately. He had [Evasion], after all) and started the counter-attack with his right out of reflex – he was surprised that the skeleton in the middle was removed from the Order of Battle with his first hit.

Since the skeletons obviously didn’t pose that much of a danger to him, he played a bit with the last one. He tried different combinations for attacks and defences, moves and tactics to finally get a conscious feel of his Skills. It was one thing to have the muscle memory, or to know to have the muscle memory, and a whole other to know what the muscle memory was capable of.

He started to get a bit suspicious of the Rule Book too, there seemed to have be a few facts that were not included in the book, but everyone still knew them. Everyone save for Prof. First he destroyed the right and then the left arm of his target dummy, and at last on of its legs. That was enough to wither away the skeleton’s HP, and it collapsed into a pile of bones.

After the massacre of innocent entities with a vitality challenge, he went back for his pack and brought it to the sarcophagus-room. He intended to start looting there after the defeat of the Boss.

He drank a few sips of water and downed three potions from his crappy stash. It didn’t bring him back to maximum, but he reserved the better ones for emergency situations. That was another difference between games and reality: in the former you just had to push a button, and the potion in the bottom of your pack was magically consumed (or you had a good meal in the middle of a fight…).

In reality you had to find the potion in your pocket, uncork and drink it – all the while skeletons waved their rusty swords in your face and you did a workout that would cost you your whole salary in a gym. That is, drinking the better potions was still easier than getting his water skin, fill a shot-cup with the potion and then drink it.

Prof was curious what the final monster, the Boss would be like. In Earth-games they were stronger than their Level would suggest and they had extra abilities. Prof already knew from the Dire Wolf and the Shield Skeletons – those he suspected being Elites as well – and from his Character Parchment that Arkadia worked on the RPG-line, so he suspected the Boss would be similar to an Earth-RPG Boss too.

He only hoped it wasn’t a warrior-mage hybrid, those were the most annoying. His sources back in the village hadn’t have anything to say about the Boss, since no one bothered to advance further than the large room, or if they did, didn’t share the findings with others.

Either because of secrecy or because dead men don’t talk.

Of course he stumbled upon a warrior-mage hybrid when he entered the last room. The more than two meters high skeleton – probably it was a skeleton judging by the theme of the dungeon – wore full plate and the sickly green light from deep inside its helmet shone more brightly when it raised its (rusty) two-handed sword and said something in a grinding and grave voice.

Prof thought for a second how can it say anything without a voice box – probably magic, since without tendons and muscles and stuff you can’t move and the previous skeletons did move – and he had to evade a sickly green beam of energy immediately.

He had to continue jumping around since the Boss arrived too, and its surprisingly fast attack made sparks fly from the floor. Prof decided to find out how the Boss fought since he already had problems mediating and end to the conflict with the shield skeletons by bashing their heads, so every little thing could be important against the Boss.

He found out, that after every third melee attack the Boss paused for a second, and cast a beam of energy. After every fifth attack it paused again and cast an aura onto itself with the same colour. Finally, after every fifteenth attack there was a longer pause where after the beam the aura was cast too. Prof waited till the third such a combination, and when the Boss paused, he attacked.

While the head-boney finished the casting, Prof could land two hits, unfortunately only one did any damage. More important was that because the one damaging hit the aura spell fizzled, and the energy fled with a detonation. Both of them staggered back and Prof lost 12 HP.

He had the proof, his plan worked, but the helmet had a too high damage mitigation for him to crack the skull. But, Prof’s right-hand axe had an attribute he haven’t used yet: the armour-piercing spike. Next time the Boss paused for a spell, Prof did make use of it. The hit was landed but it wasn’t a critical – the Boss finished the Spell and Prof didn’t evade the beam.

His reward was another 12 Points of damage received. At the third pause he could prevent the spell – the fizzle only caused sparks this time – and smash the helmet of Mr. Hauptboneführer. Because of the law of numbers, Prof couldn’t evade before the fourth chance and was hit with the huge sword, that caused 22 HP damage despite his cool armour.

To make it worse, he was hit by the next beam too. He started to be in trouble, with a bit of luck he could have survived another strike from the sword or two beams, so he rather let the next chance pass, and downed one of his better potions. He missed one of the staple functions of Earth-games, namely the HP-bar above the enemy’s head, without it he couldn’t make a guess how far he was from victory. Or defeat. He was however sure that if the fight dragged on, the untiring undead would win.

At the next chance he gambled and attacked the head with both of his weapons with all his might. At least one of the hits was a critical, the spell fizzled, the energy exploded and both of them staggered again. Either the other hit was a critical too, or the explosion pushed it more, but the skeleton didn’t just stagger one or two paces and then fell on his butt (or rather butt-bones) with a huge crash.

By the time Prof collected himself, the crypt-dweller started to cast again – still sitting on the floor. He didn’t lose any time, he attacked the head with both of his axes like hail. No plan, no real aiming, just hitting and hitting. And hitting some more. Finally landed a Critical Hit – he could never figure out afterwards if the very last spell fizzled or was cast and the huge explosion was intended.

Suffice to say, Prof was catapulted against the other wall in a heap. For a few seconds he concentrated all his Willpower to remain conscious, and at last, unconsciousness lost the battle. Still dizzy, Prof got up and noticed, death wasn’t far – again: he sat at exactly 10 HP. He next surveyed the scattered bones and pieces of armour of the Boss.

He had won.

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Mr Alex666

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