Waking up was like swimming in the sun-warmed belly of a lounging cat.
-Ufufu. This is truly the life.
-I agree completely, other me. If we ever become investors, let’s invest in a bedding company.
-Who needs poisonous traps when a good night’s rest gives you the energy to handle all of the enemies single handedly?
After a few more self-congratulatory quips with other me, I got out of bed and walked into the hallway, greeting Jerry with my most winning smile. He blinked.
“Did you enjoy your killing spree last night sir? You appear to be in a good mood.”
I chuckled and waved a hand, summoning the usual crew of undead. “Then I adjusted my suave new cloak. “Perhaps.”
I magnanimously accepted the report. As I scanned it, my eye began to twitch at a certain name. I breathed in and out several times, trying to stay calm.
|Turnip||Archer of the Blood Owl||Lvl 16|
|Yellow Bones||Ancient Skeleton Drudge||Lvl 15|
|Shroom Bearer||Lvl 13|
|Shroom Bearer (x3)||Lvl 11|
|Gerard Kiefhart||Reanimated Antpho||Lvl 11|
|Skeleton Archer||Lvl 11|
|Skeleton Archer (x2)||Lvl 10|
|Sergeant Tim||Skeleton Drudge Sergeant||Lvl 9|
|*Corpse Hunter (x4)||Lvl 8|
|Skeleton Archer (x5)||Lvl 8|
|*Skeleton Archer (x3)||Lvl 6|
|*Zombie Scavenger (x2)||Lvl 5|
|Total Minions: 26|
-Just focus on the positives, other me
“I see that we now have 4 shroom bearers! That’s truly is excellent luck.”
Jerry shook his head. “Luck had nothing to do with it. After watching another one evolve yesterday, Sergeant Tim hypothesized that a certain very specific combination of fresh flesh and flesh of those who died to the shrooms would cause the evolution. His insight was spot on, and we were able to have all those that survived yesterday evolve.”
Gritting my teeth I forced my gaze to focus elsewhere on the report. “It’s also encouraging that so many of our group is above lvl 10-”
“Ah, you noticed.” Jerry’s eyes were bright. “Both two nights ago, and last night, he had all of the undead train together. I wanted to tell you, but Tim insisted that we not bother you with his foolish idea until he had results to show you.”
“Is. That. So.” I couldn’t believe it. Where the fuck did this Tim get the balls to do all these things?
-Don’t be jealous other me, you were busy with training-
-WHY WOULD I BE JEALOUS OF A SHITTY SKELETON DRUDGE
-...you really need to calm down. Remember the bed.
Blissfully I closed my eyes and recalled the cool embrace of those high thread count sheets. I counted the threads in my perfect memory.
When I finished, I opened my eyes and smiled once more at Jerry. “Where is Tim now? I’d like to thank him for his service.”
Jerry’s face fell a bit, giving me a strange look. “Well, he’s currently very occupied inspecting the defensibility of some of the… adjustments you made to the castle yesterday. I mean he has the utmost faith in you, but…”
Only after several seconds did he break the silence. “I hope Sergeant Tim’s faith in you isn’t misplaced.” With a curt nod, Jerry turned and walked away.”
-...We haven’t even seen this “Tim”. Could Jerry just be playing a practical joke…?
-What part of being undead makes you think the can develop a sense of humor?
Lizard woman was waiting when I walked down to the courtyard, a crate twitching ominously behind her.
“Hehehe...I think you will find this little baby to your liking. It will procreate on its own, so you just need to purchase one of these poisonous beauties, and she will spread on your own… Now because we are such close friends… I’ll just take the remainder of your Towers and call it even. No need to thank me~”
She popped out of existence. Leaving me with a very peculiar, and likely deadly, crate.
Scratching my head, I turned to Whipman. “I suppose we just take it outside and open it up?”
I dragged the crate to the gate, and Yellow Bones took care of the rest, heaving the crate up in a huge display of strength that left even me impressed. I directed him to place it in a clearing between three areas covered by Heart Murmur Shrooms. After instructing Yellow Bones to move back to the treeline, I had Turnip shoot an arrow, hitting the lock keeping the crate closed.
It broke, falling to the ground with a thunk.
In an exaggerated several seconds of creaking, the crate stilled, the front portion slowly swinging open.
A strange green blur emerged from the opening, immediately burrowing into the ground. Displaced dirt and small stones filled the air. After a few seconds, the clearing stilled, nothing out of the ordinary visible. But as I listened, I could feel the ground cracking, as if something was moving underneath our feet…
-I almost feel bad for challengers…
-Yea, let’s go back into the castle and just train.
As we left, Yellow Bones kept stopping his foot on the ground, looking confused. Turnip just sighed exaggeratedly and kept giving me angsty sidelong looks. When we made it back to the courtyard, I blinked in surprise.
“Jen? What are you doing here? An early lunch?”
She rotated her slime body, remaining in her blob form. But something was strange. Instead of her colorful assortment of aprons, she was wearing a conservative grey tie. Remaining in her blob form, no longer trying to imitate a human, she spoke to me in a serious voice. “Due to certain… investments that I have made, I have been promoted to a administer-in-training.”
Pausing, one of her tentacles adjusted her tie. “Well, I will be, as soon as the day starts. But I wanted to come talk with you before, so you understood our new r-r-r-r-r-relationship.”
Although she was clearly awkward with the word relationship, it didn’t seem like it was due to the usual reasons. I nodded slowly. “And that money for the investments… It’s what you’ve been syphoning from my salary, isn’t it.”
Other that a slight quiver, Jen made no other physical reaction. “Yes. I swiftly became aware that your situation wasn’t…. Typical, and took advantage of it. Although your actions weren’t strictly illegal per se, and higher ups wouldn’t do anything, as a favor, they promised a certain individual that if anything happened to the man whose place you took, he would be informed.”
My visage darkened. That man who had immobilized me immediately, on a whim. “And why are you bringing this up now?”
Jen hesitated. “Competition for administrator spots is fierce. And there is only allowed to be so many at one time. Several administrators moved up from the 5th floor to the 10th. Their replacements, naturally, will be the top 3 administrators on our, the 1st floor, in 5 days.
“For your purposes… you just need to let nothing through your path as normal. A challenger is coming up that you need to stop. He might come today, or if we are unlucky and he chooses another path, tomorrow, and if we are REALLY unlucky…”
Her body wiggled, and then settled, a tentacle once more adjusting her tie. “Well, hopefully it won’t come to that. In any case, I’m here to give you a bit of motivation: if anyone passes through your path, and you don’t comply with our wishes… the man whose identity you stole shall be pronounced dead.”
My smile was slow and full. I strolled over to Jen, standing over her. “Are you threatening me…?”
For the first time ever since I had met Jen, her body hardened, becoming a darker shade of green. Her voice barely trembled at all when she answered. “....Yes.”
Chuckling, I reached almost instinctively and rubbed the top of her head. For a second the darker shade of green grew even darker, as if she tensed up, but as I rubbed her strange body that almost felt like a crystal, she relaxed back to her normal light shade of green, becoming a very pleasant to touch blob. Almost like jelly inside of a balloon.
“Oh….ahhh….mmm…..that’s…. You shouldn’t…..oh my….” Jen’s voice lost all of its serious edge and she wiggled slowly as I rubbed her. Then I removed my hand and checked my hand; no slime got on me. I suppose it made sense, if she was constantly leaving bits of her body on everything she touched, she would swiftly run out of body.
“Why did...did you….stop…..”
I grinned wolfishly down at her. “You don’t need to worry. Honestly, I trust you more now that you threatened to kill me. It’s the only sort of thing I understand.”
Stretching my arms, I asked. “So is that it? You just came to tell me to be a good boy?”
Jen jellyed in the way she did to indicate no. “I’m also here to wait a bit.”
Dekker supposed it didn’t matter which of the 4 paths he sent Encelldross to. After picking one at random, he was about to press the display when he froze.
He recognized that path.
Dekker brought up the information on it, disbelieving. This…
THIS FUCKING PATH WAS THE ONE THAT HE LOST ALL THE MONEY ON A FEW DAYS AGO?!?!?
Why did appear again? How did it rise so fast.
Dekker’s vision went red, but then he shook his head.
“No,” he said aloud. “No need to risk it.” He selected another path.
“Not today huh…” Jen said, as Whipman was strapping me into the sled again. Whipman told me that now that I had all of the cadences, I needed to actually work on learning a single stance. When I told him I thought that I had learned it all already, he just chuckled.
Whipman and I turned to Jen, who was jellying over towards us.
“Predator, I’m still not technically an administrator, so I can still assist you. This extra day… might be a blessing. You need to get stronger. Is there anything you can think of that would make that happen faster?”
I looked at Whipman, who just snorted. “If strength was that simple, anyone could become strong. It requires work, and time.”
-...actually, I have an idea.
-Oh, other me?
Smiling innocently, I turned to Jen. “Is there anything that can restore mana quickly?”
She nodded. “Yes, of course. Mana potions. How much do you want restored, and how many would you like.”
“1000 would be ideal.” I mean, my mana pool was only 900, but it was fine to be wasteful with other people’s money. Even if there money was technically the man who I killed’s money, which should really be my money… “And as many as you can afford.”
Whipman gave me a long look, then shook his head. “I suppose we can break up the sets more often, but-”
“That’s not necessary,” I said, drinking a mana potion. “I can train both at once. I have two minds.”
Whipman’s eyes widened, a look I received from him a lot from him. He hacked and spat something black and nasty onto the ground.
“...I see. Then let’s begin. I’ll be saying punch and leap now. Punch is a single step forward. Leap should cover the distance of 3 steps. Ready? Leap!”
I surged forward, managing the three steps, but barely. My legs trembled. But I couldn’t tell from the pain from the excitement now. My face was twisting.
-Every drop of sweat tempers you.
-Every second of struggle sculpts you.
-Every bit of pain-
“Punch! Leap! Punch!”
My body relied on instinct, powering forward.
At the same time other me swirled my focus, forming a small whirlwind. Dozens of leaves were gathered, dancing across the air. I tightened and tightened the control, without a care for the mana I was burning through.
Then I picked up the entire whirlwind and slashed with it, the leaves scattering, drawing a long furrow in the ground. Basically 60% of my mana was depleted in a 10 second span, but I was rewarded for it.
|Congratulations! Due to your actions, your skill has improved to “Lesser Air Affinity Lvl 5”. Mana cost for manipulating air has decreased. Air compression becomes easier. You gain insights in how to control air resistance.|
“Idiot disciple, stop grinning! Leap, Leap, Leap!”
Lunch was a quick affair, Whipman imperiously standing over me with his arms crossed. We had continued the sled training all morning, adding the command dash by the end.
As I was wiping my mouth, Whipman offered a hand to me. “You missed one.”
I popped it into my mouth without thinking. It had a strange, spicy taste. “...what was that?”
“Nothing,” He replied airily, walking back to the training area of the courtyard. Twisting my mouth, I followed.
“The afternoon will be practicing the forms, followed by sparring in Thunder Stance. We will continue this until your body knows the forms intimately…”
My heart was pounding, my mouth was salivating. My hands were strangely jittery. I bounced on my toes, downing another mana potion. Other me created a dozen thin blades of wind that cut leaves in half.
“Easy right? Let’s begin. You remember first stance correct? Center yourself, feel the stillness within. Then surge!”
Wrath. My heart was a hammer, and I struck outward, gleeful of the release of power.
“Now, second stance! Crashing Thunder. Bring the force down. Crush opposition!”
My hands were now hammers, my heart becoming a bounding jackrabbit. My vision was turning red, everything becoming fury. A small part of me knew this wasn’t natural.
“...what did you give me.”
“Well, if you must know,” Whipman sniffed. “It was a small amount of the Heart Murmur shroom. You’ve been taking it too leisurely lately. If you don’t stop this challenger, you die, correct? And if you die, we die. So I decided to take up the stakes.”
He shook his head. “Zassa said that there is no cure, but that the effects wear off after a few hours. I figure with your high Vit, your system can handle the strain no problem. Anyway, Third Stance! Distant Rumblings! Surge forward, inevitably approaching your enemy.”
My heart was beating so fast I couldn’t tell when the beat, and when the break was. My body was just constantly vibrating. My gaze glazed over, just descending into pure wrath and I smashed around, barely able to maintain control of the forms.
But I found joy in the destruction, even as my heart became more and more painful.
“No problem” ended up being true to an extent, or at least I thought so; I didn’t die. I lay on the ground, breathing heavily. Then I began to notice the notifications that had piled up during my madness phase.
|Congratulations! Due to your actions, the skill has improved to “Physicality Lvl 4”: Extreme physical strain has become more manageable. Small amounts of flexibility. Each point of End has become slightly more effective.|
|Congratulations! Due to your actions, your skill has improved to “Lesser Air Affinity Lvl 6”. Efficiency in controlling air has increased. Speed at which air can be gathered has increased.|
|Congratulations! Due to your actions, the skill has improved to “Physicality Lvl 5”: Strain and exertion no longer phase you. The effectiveness of each point of Vit and Str has increased. +.1 increase in Health Regen.|
-Oh? Both the effectiveness of stats and attributes themselves can be improved with skills? That’s interesting to note.
-Heh, heh, heh, heh
-Stop breathing like that, it’s not so bad. Whipman is right; you are surprisingly melodramatic.
I sat up, remembering something. “Did we figure out what was inside the crate?”
Jerry and Turnip exchange a glance. “Yes, actually. A vine creature that excels at ambushing and devouring its targets. There are a few problems with it trying to mate with us, but…”
-It appears that part of our charm has rubbed off on our minions…
“But- Tim believes he can solve the issue, if you give him 5 skeleton drudges to form a platoon underneath him.”
-Don’t let that name phase you, think of the bed. Tim doesn’t exist~
“And where is Tim now?” I asked lightly.
Turnip gave me a withering look. “Dealing with the vine thing, obviously. Didn’t we just say that.”
My eyelid twitched. I drank a mana potion and summoned the 5 Skeleton Drudges he wanted. Then, feeling slightly vindictive, I spent the rest of my mana on summoning drudges. Due to the decreased cost with every level, Skeleton Drudges only cost me 30. All in all, I ended up with 30.
I waved my hand imperiously. “Tim-”
“Sergeant Tim,” Jerry corrected.
“Sergeant Tim,” I said through gritted teeth. “Has performed so admirably that I am rewarding him will all these drudges as personal minions. In addition, I am promoting him to… Staff Sergeant!”
To my very great surprise, everyone, including the ghoul, Turnip, yellow Bones, Jerry, Whipman, and all the freshly summoned drudges, clapped.
-Don’t let it bother you, other me. Just return to the warm embrace of the bed.
‘Anger is a strange thing,’ I mused, looking at my room. Long slashes ripped apart the floor, cutting the bed to a million pieces. The walls were barely still standing. Dozens of empty mana potions were laying on the floor. I had basically depleted all of the ones Jen had brought me today. I wondered idly if she would bring more.
But it was worth it.
|Congratulations! Due to your actions, your skill has improved to “Lesser Air Affinity Lvl 7”. Power over air has increased. Mana spent controlling air slightly decreased. You have learned the skill “Wind Blade Lvl 1”: Specialized application of Lesser Air Affinity, air can be focused and sharpened into a blade. Although destructive power is low, cutting ability is high.|
I waved my hand, using air affinity to gather the feathers from my destroyed bed into a corner, which I collapsed on top of. I glanced once at my status screen, grinning at the great increase in skill levels after today.
|Racial Growth Rate:||Murloc Champion|
|Vit:||47 (+2)||End:||29 (+2)|
|Str:||31 (+2)||Agi:||40 (+2)|
|Dex:||35 (+2)||Memory:||242 (+2)|
|Processing Power:||271 (+2)||Parallel Computations:||2|
|Wis:||99 (+2)||Luck:||33 (+2)|
|Timeless Perception:||50 (+2)|
|A Creature Which Named Itself Predator||Raceless||Nurturer of the Undead||Singer of the Dark Cadences|
|Lesser Air Affinity Lvl 7||Endless Stomach||Weapons Mastery Lvl 2||Knife Throw Lvl 9|
|Path of the Dragon||Aura of the Predator Lvl 4||Summon Lesser Dead Lvl 4||Bile Emission Lvl 2|
|Unholy Bestowal Lvl 1||Physicality Lvl 5||Song of the Murloc People Lvl 1||Cadence of Thunder|
|Cadence of Earth||Cadence of Water||Cadence of Wind||Wind Blade Lvl 1|
Whoops, I spent way too much time writing this, now my afternoon will become a field of hellish studying~
Anyways, finally done with training! Now just fight scenes. And those are easy and quick to write, right?