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A note from Belgianfri

I created a Discord for the story! If you want to hang out and/or discuss skills and classes with me, you can do this here: https://discord.gg/SYmvVrssyT

The next morning I woke up well rested. It was time to bite the bullet. Today I would make my final tier up decisions. I'd had some time to think about it and I had decided.

Determined, I opened my first skill window.

[Elementary dark sight](100%)

Tier 1 skill.

You possess the ability to see using darkness, rather than light. You can see dark elemental mana when in high concentrations.

Explore dark areas or areas filled with dark mana to increase proficiency.

Tier 2 upgrades

[Dark sight]

A direct upgrade of [Elementary dark sight]. You can see dark mana anywhere.

You possess the ability to see using darkness, rather than light. You can see dark elemental mana.

[Abyssal sight]

Stare into the abyss.

The abyss stares back.

[Dark glare]

You possess the ability to manipulate dark mana based on sightlines, rather than distance.

You possess the ability to see using darkness, rather than light. You can see dark elemental mana.

 

This was the more obvious choice of the two, [Dark glare] and [Abyssal sight] being just too big of a risk. Without further hesitation, I picked [Dark sight]. It was the least impressive and interesting option, but safety came first. With some luck, I would get a powerfull tier up next time that didn't carry so much risk with it.

Ding! [Elementary dark sight] skill reached tier 2! [Elementary dark sight] has become [Dark sight].

The skill settled in a moment later, making small black tufts off dark mana visible to me, despite the sunlight filtering in from the outside. With a mental command I made the mana disappear from my sight, not wanting to be distracted this early in the morning.

 

Now, there was only one skill left to upgrade. My core skill.

 

[Simple dark core](100%)

Tier 1 skill.

You possess a dark core filled with dark elemental mana. The core allows you to use dark-aligned skills.

[Simple dark core] provides a small amount of extra power to dark-aligned skills and reduces their mana cost by a minimal amount.

Absorb ambient dark mana into the core to increase skill proficiency.

 

Tier 2 upgrades

[Dark core]

A direct upgrade of [Simple dark core]

[Dark core] provides a moderate amount of extra power to dark-aligned skills and reduces their mana cost by a small amount.

[Undead Core]

This core brings you closer to the existence of an undead.

[Undead Core] provides a moderate amount of extra power to dark-aligned skills that utilise the [Undead] property and reduces their mana cost by a moderate amount.

[Overloading Dark core]

This core allows more mana to course through it and reduces the negative effects of mana overloading to the body. The core takes longer to progress than usual.

[Overloading Dark core] provides a large amount of extra power to dark-aligned skills and reduces their mana cost by a minimal amount.

 

[Overloading Dark core] seemed like the skill with the most potential, but originally its limited mana efficiency and slow growth made me hesitate.

Some changes had occurred in my line of thinking, however. Now that I had gained the tier 2 [Battle meditation] skill, the slow growth aspect of the skill could most likely be remedied.

That just left mana efficiency, on top of one other issue. [Overloading Dark core] had the same mana efficiency as my tier 1 core, but surely it would possess a larger mana storage? Until now, nobody had actually explained to me how mana storage worked. There wasn't a skill for it and my core's properties were limited to power and efficiency metrics, leaving me with questions surrounding this last property. I couldn't exactly ask Doran either, he forbade me from asking for advice....

Or could I...?

 


 

I stood near the gates of the training yard, leaning against a wall, when Doran passed by. I waved at him, approaching him a moment later.

"Good morning, Doran! It's been a couple of days! Where've you been? I heard that you had an errand to run?"

"Good day to you as well, Arthur. I have indeed been out of town for a few days. I went out to pick up a package, nothing you need to worry about for now."

I looked at him in surprise. "Your errand involves me somehow?"

Doran actually gave me a sly smile, an expression that I hadn't expected to ever see on his face. "In a way. I'll speak no more of the matter. Now, how have your skill upgrades been going? Have you taken the proper time to think things through? There's no point in thoughtlessly rushing ahead, after all. Skill and statistic investments should only be rushed if you are heading into a big battle that might have casualties, like before fighting a boss. Think of your dungeon run from a few weeks ago."

I looked at my feet, sweating a little. At the time I had decided to wait before investing any points, unwilling to let a few goblins force my hand, out of stubbornness. Then, during the boss fight I panicked. To be fair, a few extra stat points and milestone skills wouldn't have helped me much against that caster. Now that I better understood the danger of dungeons, I realised that such a way of thinking might cost me my life.

Unfortunately, Doran had picked up on my behaviour, because he had a frown on his face. "Don't tell me you didn't invest all of your points before such a big fight?"

Flustered, I tried to defend my own arrogance. "I only had like 18 points anyway! What difference would it have made?"

Doran looked back at me with all the sternness of a mother hen and argued back. "A few points could mean the difference between life and death. What would you have told your parents in the great beyond if you died because you didn't assign your free statistic points?"

I wanted to find a hole to crawl into. To be honest, I myself didn't quite understand. Why did I act that way? I had always been a perfectionist when it came to training and combat. Where had that childishness come from? Why was I only now questioning my past behaviour?

Doran noticed my confusion and tried to explain. "I can see your [Mental resistance] is already paying dividends. Affinity clouded your mind. Learn from your mistakes."

Regaining my confidence, I nodded. I wouldn't be caught unawares again in the future! I was still left with some lingering doubt however. Would my affinity issues truly be solved that easily?

 

Remembering why I had looked for Doran in the first place, I enacted my master plan.

"So Doran, you said I could ask about system terminology, right?"

"I did mention that, yes."

"Well, core skills mention power and efficiency, right?"

"Yes, typically they do, although they might gain additional effects at higher tiers."

"Right, right. So where does it say how much mana the core produces and stores?"

Doran looked pensive at my question. I don't think he was searching his brain for an answer or anything, I think he was just deliberating what he could safely tell me without interfering too much in my decision.

"Core skills don't usually mention capacity. In rare cases a core has added or decreased capacity as a tier up effect, in which case this will be mentioned in the skill description. If the skill doesn't mention capacity, then the core will have a certain amount of mana storage based on the tier of the skill."

"Wait, so all core skills of the same tier have the same amount of mana storage?"

"Unless mentioned otherwise, yes. There are several skills and items that can further increase storage, but those are rare. It would be best not to rely on those."

Doran was trying to warn me of picking a skill with lowered capacity. Fortunately, his assumption was off the mark.

"Don't worry, teacher. I won't!"

He seemed relieved at my declaration.

"If you intend to upgrade your core skill, I recommend you do it in a meditation chamber," he added ominously.

I wondered why for a moment, but agreed. I would probably need some extra mana to complete the upgrade. We said our goodbyes and I headed to the dungeons, having decided on the skill I would choose.

With the slow growth problem solved and the mana inefficiency limited, both due to the [Battle meditation] skill, the answer was obvious.

[Overloading Dark core] clearly had more potential, the same amount of capacity and gave me more long term strength. I would tier up [Battle meditation] more in the future, so my mana output and input would eventually equalise, if I had my way.

 


 

I arrived in my favourite meditation chamber, a dark room with a wooden floor and cobbled walls. It was entirely empty and free of distractions. It was time to upgrade my core. Mentally, I commanded the skill [Overloading Dark core] to be selected.

Ding! [Simple dark core] skill reached tier 2! [Simple dark core] has become [Overloading Dark core].

Immediately I felt a change in my body. The mana that would normally flow in and out of my core was swirling rapidly. It started to draw in ambient dark mana on its own. My instincts told me that interfering would be a bad idea, so I let the mana flow freely.

Instead of gathering near my core, the mana started wildly circulating throughout my entire body, giving me a feeling similar to that of my augment. The amount of rushing mana gradually increased. Soon my veins were starting to overload again, giving me that familiar pain that I had felt when I fought for my life against that boss. My core was spinning faster and faster, tearing itself apart to produce and pump mana through my body.

It became too much, forcing a small moan of pain out of me. Soon, a new development happened. The glowing black veins on my body weren't enough to contain the mana. Like a river flooding over its banks, the overloading mana flowed into the rest of my body, passing by muscles and internal organs. Now, my entire body was starting to glow in a pattern that reminded me of a lightning scar, like a leafless tree spreading across my body.

Just when the pain was starting to feel unbearable, it vanished, leaving faster than it had come. I felt all of the mana rush to the centre of my chest, reforming my broken core slowly. The mana coalesced and created one entity. Before, it had felt like a small cold marble. Now, it reminded me of a small whirlpool that continuously sucked in mana, threw it out on the other side and then reabsorbed it. It was in a constant state of flow.

My veins and scars stopped glowing, returning my body to its normal state, taking any lingering sense of pain with it.

 

Name: Arthur
Titles [Dark prodigy]
Class: [Death Knight] LVL 23
Strength 96
Constitution 96
Dexterity 96
Intelligence 25
Wisdom 50
Affinity 223
Free stat points 6

Skills:

Passive: [Overloading Dark core](1%), [Dark sight](2%), [Berserker Swordsmanship](3%),

[Novice lifespan](N/A), [Perfect physique](N/A), [Flexibility](N/A) [Mental resistance](N/A)

 

Active: [Dark augment](59%), [Shadow apparation](12%), [Battle meditation](5%)

 

I breathed in deeply, and let out a slow, shuddering breath. That had been an experience I hadn't been mentally prepared for. It was done though. I had borne the pain, and the results were clear. I activated my battle meditation and started to practice keeping it active permanently. After all of these tier upgrades, I had reached a whole new level of strength, without even tiering up my class.

Speaking of tiering up my class, soon, it would be time to do exactly that. Tier 2, here I come!

 


 

Pov: ???

 

A cloud of dust blew into my face, singing my unkempt hair in the process.

"The damn reagent blew up again! If only that blasted alchemist had lived a little longer! How was I supposed to continue to make the poison my own? 'Make it yourself', 'figure it out' and more of that tripe... "

It was always the same. It was only a matter of time before I taught that old witch a lesson. If that witch was stupid enough to give me the staff in return for the poison, power would be mine! Only a little more time....

A moment later, my little cherub demon flew in and settled on my shoulder. The bastard would most certainly try to distract me from my work with his little sing-song voice, causing nothing but hindrance.

"They're onto us, master! We gotta leave, we gotta leave, we gotta leave, we gotte leave, we..."

The little shit was singing the same damn thing over and over, just changing his intonation to make it seem like a good song. Moron.

"Rickardo, what the hell are you talking about? Say it slowly you damn feathered foetus!"

"Master, the witch hunters have found our old laboratory in Ralston! It's only a matter of time before they storm our cave!"

 

Crap. This was the last thing I needed. Despite the setbacks, the poison was almost done. If I left now, all of the valuable ingredients I used would be lost, not to mention that the old witch wouldn't let me off that easily. Then again, staying in this damp cave was risky as well.

I should ask myself the question: 'What am I scared of more? A couple of tier 1 and 2 hunters, or the old lady?' Well, that question was easily answered.

I raised a skeleton using [Basic Raise Undead] and followed up with a [Bestow basic sentience], casting [Bestow elementary sapience] as a final touch. This course of action cost me nearly all of my mana, but it resulted in a far stronger servant. The skeleton looked at me with its empty eye sockets, waiting for a command.

"Go to the entrance of the cave and guard it. If anyone comes, alert me and kill them after. Take the equipment from the corpses along the way."

I would have to repeat the process many times over for the next few days if I wanted to be ready to receive my guests...

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About the author

Belgianfri

  • Your holiness

Bio: I like fries. The belgian kind.

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