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A note from Belgianfri

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Discord: https://discord.gg/YHZFB4HMHD

I tried to focus on my notification, but couldn't. That incredibly vivid dream that had accompanied my class evolution still had me shaken up.

Had it really been like that? I hadn't been that bad, I was pretty sure. It was pretty strange that I had been friends with the ponytail girl as a kid though. I didn't remember her at all.

At least that final bit was definitely fake. I had never visited a white wasteland like that, and certainly not stayed there for years like my dream seemed to imply.

In the end, I had only woken up when I had realised that everybody was gone. Was the system giving me a subtle hint, or was my own subconscious letting me know what really mattered?

There was one thing that this dream had made clear to me, though. I didn't remember much from my childhood. Had my affinity really forced me to go to such lengths? Had I really pushed everybody and everything by the wayside for my stupid training?

Yet, my mind felt clearer now than it had been in years, despite my affinity stat growing so much. Did my wisdom protect me from the majority of it? Maybe my [Mental resistance] was responsible. I would need to increase the strength of both in the future if I wanted to remain myself.

Even more strangely, I had gained a lot of control over myself back when I first awakened. At that point, I hadn't gained much wisdom, but still, I felt the difference. Did classes affect how well you could handle your ever-increasing affinity? They had to, otherwise tier 7s would all be defined by their element and its effect on emotions. You couldn't convince me that the barbarian conqueror had increased his wisdom enough to keep up with his fire affinity.

I convinced myself I was just experiencing growing pains now. I had an affinity that was higher than my stats and skills could handle. As a kid this had been a bigger problem, now I would have to stay ahead of the curve to keep my sanity.

I hadn't been quite as bad as the dream, but I had been heading down that path. Despite that, I had still been Arthur. Would I have done that delivery for my mother before my awakening if I had focussed that much on my training? No.

 

Apologising to my parents still wasn't a bad idea, considering the circumstances. Having me as a kid couldn't have been easy. That would be an awkward conversation.

The dream showed a version of myself that had succumbed to my affinity. Did the system show me my greatest fear? Did it want to test me? I had so many questions and so few answers.

It was a lot to take in. So much so that I had almost forgotten about my tier 2 class.

 

Of course I had received a class involving overloading. After my last few battles, I couldn't even act surprised.

I opened my status page to see my new skills.

Name: Arthur
Titles [Dark prodigy]
Class: [Overloading Death Knight] LVL 1
Strength 108
Constitution 104
Dexterity 104
Intelligence 25
Wisdom 58
Affinity 321
Free stat points 5

Skills:

Passive: [Dark radiance core](1%), [Dark sight](9%), [Berserker Swordsmanship](13%),

[Growing lifespan](N/A), [Mental resistance](N/A), [Dark Form](2%), [Overload Aura](0%)

 

Active: [Shadow apparation](53%), [Flexible senses](N/A), [Curse mark(guide)](0%), [Overloaded orb](0%)

 

[Overload Aura](0%)

Tier 3 skill.

Expelled overloaded mana can be turned tangible at will.

Expelled overloaded mana can be manipulated by the holder and will dissipate into ambient mana more slowly.

Use this skill repeatedly or creatively to increase skill progression.

 

[Curse mark(guide)](0%)

Tier 2 skill.

Leave behind a curse mark (guide) when inflicting a wound on another entity.

Curse mark (guide) will attract incoming mana-based attacks from the holder to the target.

Use this skill in battle to increase progression.

 

[Overloaded orb](0%)

Tier 2 skill.

Gathers expelled overloaded mana from the holder's surroundings into the centre of the holder's hand.

Gathered mana will form a small orb that can be launched and explodes on impact.

Skill is dependent on the parent skill [Overload aura].

Use this skill in battle to increase progression.

 

Finally, my affinity had broken past 299! It had remained stuck at that barrier for a while now, possibly because I was still in tier 1. The higher affinity would allow me to more easily manipulate and empower my dark skills.

 

I whistled as I read the skill descriptions. Like the class description said, this class had improved ranged attacks, while the overloaded mana I expelled could now serve many purposes.

I stood up in the stone chamber and activated my [Overload Aura] skill. Instantly, the surrounding mana rushed through my small core and into my body. The core filled up quickly, pushing the rest of the mana into my body. My [Dark Form] skill was already at max capacity before I tiered up, which meant that it only took a few seconds total to enter the overloading state.

I would have felt pain as the overloading mana tore my body to shreds, but my dark form healed my wounds too quickly for it to be dangerous. With my core now immune to this rogue mana, it was a piece of cake to push the overloading mana into my dark form, forcing it to expel the excess.

Within a few moments, the dark mana was leaving my body like a tidal wave. Before it could escape back into the surroundings of the room, I grabbed onto it mentally by using [Overload Aura].

I felt like I had gained a new limb. The mana around me came to a stop at my command. I guided it to swirl around my body, before making it tangible.

The dark mana that had only been visible using my [Dark sight] skill before now became visible to the naked eye in the form of black wind that danced around me. I tried to play around with this tangible mana a little, achieving mixed results.
The good news was that I could make the winds as sharp and tough as a blade, while making them go at the speed of an actual sword swing. That meant that I would be able to use this overloaded mana as a weapon. Large groups of weaker enemies wouldn't stand a chance if I created a maelstrom of black wind a few meters around my body. It was my first genuine AOE, or area of effect, attack.

The bad news was that I could only control the overloaded mana within a certain range and for a certain amount of time. If I pushed beyond two meters of myself, I would lose control and the mana would turn intangible again. Even if I kept it close, the mana would eventually dissipate, taking an average of thirty seconds to do so, by my best guess. That meant that I would need to overload and stay in that overloaded state for an extended period of time to maintain my ranged attacks.

Luckily, I did have a skill that could be used at medium range, now. It required already controlled overloaded mana to work, but it made my life a lot easier.

[Overloaded orb] was a ranged skill with some small AOE capabilities. I couldn't test it here, because breaking the guild's dedicated class evolution rooms didn't seem like a good idea.

With the amount of mana that they pumped into these rooms, it was no wonder they kept them so well guarded.

[Curse Mark] was also a skill I couldn't test here, because I didn't have a target. At first glance, it looked like a skill that would help me with my aim, guiding my attacks to a target. Not immediately super useful, but it might work well with the right skill, like my orb. I remembered the fire-wielding skeleton, that had limited my movement with one spell, just because it had a similar effect of guiding a projectile.

 

Now that I had tiered up, Revan would also have advanced a tier. It was possible that he would try to fight me again, so I would have to postpone summoning him for a few days.

With my new skills checked out, it was time to go report to the guild master. Speaking of reports, I wondered how that mayor was doing...

 


 

On my way to the guild master's office, a servant had approached me and told me that Andross was expecting me in the appraisal room. I supposed I would have to prove I hadn't turned insane yet.

 

Half an hour later, I once again found myself in the guild master's office. Andross had been satisfied with my tier 2 class and advised me to experiment with my new skills. Afterward, he had invited me to sign my official contract with the guild.

I had taken a seat on one of the ornate couches and was just about to speak when the guild master did so first.

"So how did your class advancement go? I've seen your new status, but the experience itself must have been quite something, huh?"

I remembered my dreams and almost panicked, but tried to settle my nerves.

"What was that experience? It just showed me a whole bunch of things to make me feel bad."

"Tier up trials can diverge quite a bit. Basically, the system gives you a trial to face, of any kind. Pass it, prove yourself to the system and it will let you tier up. That's why tiering up usually takes several hours. The higher the tier upgrade, the more difficult the trial. With your circumstances, I wasn't sure what would happen. Would you get a tier 5 trial or a tier 2 one? Well, I'm not going to ask you to share, because trials are very personal. Just know that the next tier trial could be wildly different from the last, or exactly the same. Preparing yourself is pointless, the system purposefully tries to make things difficult. That's why we didn't inform you of the trial beforehand. Well, good job regardless."

"What do the trials mean, though?"

"They could mean anything. The system tests people as it sees fit. Maybe it's random, maybe it's premediated, who knows? As for what your trial means for you, you'll have to figure that out yourself."

I nodded in reply, not finding the words to describe my current emotions. I wasn't sure I even wanted to confront them right now. Thankfully, the guild master noticed my discomfort and changed subjects.

"I have here your admission files to become a full member of the guild. As a tier 2, you now have the right to sign up. Is that something you still want?"

Noticing his serious tone, I recognised that it was time for business. I matched his demeanour and replied respectfully.

"It is."

He smiled widely in return.

"Good! Sign these after looking them over."

The contract was 10 pages long and had a lot of different bullet points. Most were expected, like secrecy clauses and monetary payments. There were a few that stood out, however.

 

...

-The signee of this contract will uphold the responsibilities of a witch hunter for the duration of the contract, which includes, but is not limited to: participating in extermination requests, participating in crusades, following orders from higher-ranking nobility unless otherwise specified, following orders from high-ranking members of the church unless otherwise specified, ....

...

This one stood out to me because I hadn't expected witch hunters to still be under the order of nobles. As a commoner, you already had to follow any order any noble gave you if it was something mundane, so that hadn't changed, but I hadn't expected this. I asked the guild master about this issue.

"Well, that's really just there for formality. The nobles would have to argue with the church if they wanted a witch hunter's services for free. I've never had to deal with a noble ordering me to do something I didn't want to do. I've dealt with annoying nobles, sure, but they were never quite that brazen. Look, why don't I get just get rid of this noble part. As a talented member, the guild can make some concessions and in hindsight, this would probably be a dangerous clause to keep for the guild as well if you reached a high tier before the contract was renewed."

I gratefully accepted his offer. I hadn't dealt with nobles before, but if there were any like the mayor of Ralston, I couldn't trust them.

Speaking of the mayor, I inquired about him to the guild leader. I had gone into detail about the whole situation during my report, but Andross hadn't really reacted until I had spoken about my broken core. I brought it up again, because I wasn't going to let that old man go without repercussions. The guild master replied off-handily.

"Oh, that guy? I sent some guild enforcers after him a few hours ago after your report. They're going to deliver him to Duke Rass, since the mayor is one of his people. Don't worry about that, Duke Rass started off as a commoner. He can't stand corruption or backhanded deals, especially if it's one of his own people. We've also started investigating the two poisons you brought us. The tier 4 mana poison was most likely procured through the black market, while the necromancer's poison is not something our alchemists could immediately recognise. They're studying it now."

I stared at him with my mouth agape.

"It's just that simple? I thought I would need to plan and execute my revenge carefully over the course of a year or something!"

He looked back at me and spoke in a monotone voice.

"Why would it take a year to catch a tier 3 public official who broke the law? Of course it's that simple."

 

I gave a sigh and nodded. I could only turn back to my contract at this point. I felt a little silly worrying about that sneaky mayor, in hindsight.

The contract's duration had been set to 5 years, which was neither long nor short. It would be a good period of time to find out what I wanted out of life and to get stronger. I noticed that the monetary compensation I would receive for my work would be next to nothing, and asked the old man about this discrepancy.

"How much do you think that skill merge pyramid cost the branch?"

I looked at him weirdly. It didn't surprise me that rare items like that one were expensive.

"Then what would you have done if I had refused to join after receiving it?"

I only got a sadistic grin in response, which I took to mean that I shouldn't inquire further. The money didn't really matter to me right now, I had already made a small fortune that could last me a few years if I was careful, and it wasn't like I needed to pay the guild living costs.

 

Finding no further issues in the contract, I signed it. Andross then took it from me, signed it and stamped it. A moment later the contract disappeared into blue light.

"It's been sent off to the main branch for validation by the guild head. He's an alright guy and has already been made aware of your situation, so don't worry."

 

With that business done, I was just curious about one more thing.

"Guild leader, could you send a letter to the Duke asking him if I could watch the mayor's punishment?"

He looked at me with wide eyes for a moment, before smiling slyly.

"Normally, I would tell you not to touch nobles with a stick and to never ask them anything. Thing is, I'm fairly certain the Duke would accept your offer, if only because he likes kids like you with no sense of danger or hesitance. I'll ask on your behalf."

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About the author

Belgianfri

  • Your holiness

Bio: I like fries. The belgian kind.

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