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Day 21
***POV Change***
Gillette swirled the azure liquid around in the glass. “It seems… Dekker is aware of our friend Predator’s ascendance. That’s too bad. I was hoping he would stumble across the trap without realizing it.”

Jen wiggled her tentacles. “We shouldn’t hope for such heaven defying luck. We were already lucky enough that this opportunity came to us, already fleshed out, when there was an opening above.”

“I suppose you’re right… so we are assuming that Dekker will check the paths again, notice that Predator was promoted last night, and send his challenger to the other one?” Jen nodded her agreement.

“Then…” Gillette hesitated, then threw the remainder of the liquid back. “I suppose we should proceed to the Tavern, where we will happen to meet Predator, and congratulate him on his rise with a generous “gift”. After your initial note, the threat yesterday and your reminder for him to come to the tavern, I suspect that he won’t dally…”

Jen was furiously adjusting her tie.

Gillette sighed. “...you did remind him, didn’t you? Well its no matter. A man of his intelligence will likely remember…”

Jen wiggled back and forth, clearly doubting that would be the case.

“Neither of us can contact him directly…” After a bit of hesitation, Gillette picked up the phone. “...I suppose there is no choice. The game is nearing its finale anyways, there is no need to hide our hand.”

“She’s going to be angry at me…” Jen’s words were almost a sob. Gillette simply chuckled.

***POV Change***

I glanced briefly at the report.

TurnipArcher of the Blood OwlLvl 16
Yellow BonesAncient Skeleton DrudgeLvl 15
Plague BearerLvl 14
Gerard KiefhartReanimated AntphoLvl 12
Shroom Bearer (x5)Lvl 11
Skeleton ArcherLvl 11
Staff Sergeant TimSkeleton Drudge Staff SergeantLvl 11
Skeleton Archer (x2)Lvl 10
Ghoul (x3)Lvl 10
Vineling Spawn (x10)Lvl 9
*Corpse Hunter (x4)Lvl 8
Skeleton Archer (x7)Lvl 8
*Skeleton Archer (x3)Lvl 6
*Zombie Scavenger (x2)Lvl 5
Total Minions: 42


Very clear to me was the fact that Tim’s name and race somehow changed. And that all of the drudges were gone, but “Vineling Spawn” seemed to have replaced them, and they were already Lvl 9. And that the high level Shroom Bearer had become a Plague Bearer.

I handed the report back to Jerry and walked on without a word. I had no time for such petty nonsense. I had risen beyond the petty political concerns of the world.

Apparently whatever Tim was doing, it wasn’t guarding the gate, because when I came down into the courtyard a smartly dressed woman in a grey skirt and a white blouse was waiting for me. She was holding a strangely long parcel in her hands, and turned to me, adjusting her glasses, as I came down. She looked strangely familiar, too.

“Ah,” I said aloud, stopping a few feet away from her. “You must be Kettle.”

She appraised me coolly, her eyes seemingly exploring every inch of my body in turn. It made me slightly uncomfortable, so I opened up my status menu, preparing to toggle on Aura of the Predator. To my shock, it was already on.

Eventually, Kettle nodded. “Yes, I am. You are Predator, who has been promoted to the 2 path layer today, and you have been surprisingly useful.”

-I was promoted?

-She seems so sure, and I think “useful” in context is meant as praise, so…

-But is this her, or my charm speaking?

-Honestly, I would love to make a comment about her birthing hips. But she’s glaring at us like she knows what we are saying…

Other me and I looked at Kettle. Seeing my wandering attention had returned, she resumed speaking. “I trust Jen explained the consequences if you don’t assist us yesterday, in her… visit? So listen up: Take this, stab it into the ground, and say, ‘I issue a challenge.’”

She unwrapped the parcel, revealing a flag with a long red streamer hanging from the top. She gave it to me.

“Wait, what? Why?”

Kettle shook her head. “You don’t need to know yet.”

“Then I refuse.” I offered the flag back to her.

Kettle just looked at me. It wasn’t a glare, but she just seemed to be inwardly willing that I do as she instructed, her gaze insistent.

I just stood there, nonplussed. What did she want?

Tilting her head a fraction to the side, Kettle said. “How about this, you do it, and then I will immediately explain why it was necessary, and get out of your way. Deal?”

Nodding slowly, I put the base of the flag against the ground. “I.... Issue a challenge.”

Nothing happened. Then the ground beneath the flag opened up, the shaft sinking into the ground. The entire path began to rumble.

Kettle smiled at me, genuinely pleased.

-She’s beautiful.

-Shush, other me, she’s talking.

“What I require of you is simple; stopping a challenger that a rival administrator is betting on. Yesterday, that challenger challenged one on the 4 path layer. By a fluke, the administrator noticed that the challenger was going to your path and forcibly altered the challenger’s path. Last night, you were promoted to the 2 path layer. Unfortunately, after yesterday’s close call, I highly doubt that Dekker will not be checking the path of his challenge, and will once more avoid you.

“Thus,” With a casual motion, Kettle pushed her hair over her shoulder and pointed to the flag. “We use the only method possible to ensure that the challenger CANNOT avoid you. By making your path sit at the top of the pyramid, on the 1 path layer. That is a challenge flag, and with it, you may issue a single challenger a year, and only from the 2 path layer.”

“So you and your path will be teleported up, and you will fight against the reigning king of our First Floor for the right to be the 1 path that all must pass through to ascend.”

Kettle stepped forward with surprising quickness, kissing me on the cheek. Then she ducked away, her lip imprint on my cheek remaining with a surprising amount of scorching heat. “That’s for luck. Your opponent is a Lvl 35 Dawn Falcon. He has been on top of this floor for 100 years. The competition is simple: you win if you kill him, you lose if you die. Don’t disappoint me.”

She disappeared.

Then I disappeared, my whole path shuddering out of existence.

***POV Change***

Dekker glared at Kettle as she walked into the office.

“You’re late,” He gurgled, his tentacle face undulating in a menacing way.

Kettle just gave him the same cool look she always did and then sat down at her desk. “I apologize, but there was important news that I needed to check for you; open up the mail I sent you on your terminal.”

Dekker did so grudgingly, but what he saw made him forget all about his annoyance with Kettle. “What…!??! That path issued a challenge? But…”

His face fell. But then as he thought about it, Dekker grew amused. Settling in a chair, he brought up the challenge on his monitor. 

There was a reason that anyone with connections could pass the path of 1, but no one else could. A few lush slaves were sent along with the challenger, and then herded into a specifically designated offering area of the path. Then the Dawn Falcon turned a blind eye to the challenger as he/she made it to the portal. That was the only way one survived.

Dekker settled in, excited to watch this thorn in his side die.

***POV Change***
I looked up, holding up a hand to block out of the sun. It had been a while since I had been outside of the twilight of my path, and it was a bit grating of a change. More annoying was the fact that the castle from my path seemed to be teleported pretty much as is, abutting the other path. My castle sat on the hill. Rising in the sky in front of me was what I could only describe as a mountain.

A flap of wings caught my attention, and a huge falcon landed on the path outside of the castle. It was 4 m tall, shorter than Yellow Bones, but from the shadow it cast before it landed its wingspan was many times greater than that.

The feathers appeared black at first, but as the light caught them, the glowed orange, red, and yellow. The falcon looked at my castle with a haughty expression. Blinking, I realized that I recognized that dumb looking bird. It was the one in the tavern a few days ago, who the pretty attendant so shamelessly flirted with.

As our eyes locked, a notification popped up.

Congratulations! You have encountered the second on your path to becoming a dragon. Slay that monster, devour his heart, and know true strength.


-Ufufu. We shall teach him the pain of being too popular to handle.

-Let us begin the revenge, other me.

But before I could attack, it spoke.

“Foolish creature. Your mistake will cost you your life. My children fill the sky!” It shrieked, and instantly a cloud arose from the mountain. The cloud flowed closer, resolving itself into 100s of angry birds of various sizes.

“To feed them… I maintain an army of 100,000 goblin fodders.” From the base of the mountain, it seemed as if a thumping swarm of ants emerged, marching in lockstep, approaching the edges of the divide between our lands, where his badlands turned into my marsh.

Snorting, the falcon turned away. “I almost pity you, dying in such a pathetic grave. If you wish to beg for mercy, I will be in my Eyrie.” The falcon flew away.

I considered the swarms of enemies before me.

-The best bet is probably just to push forward, killing him before his armies can overwhelm us.

-But think of the experience…

-Think of surviving

But before the argument could continue, Jerry stepped up next to me. “That human woman also left a few dozen crates for you before she left.”

Curious, I followed him to the far side of the courtyard, opposite from where I usually trained. Like Jerry said, there were 36 crates, about the size of a large wooden desk. I cracked open the first one. My eyes widened as I took in the 1000s of arrows within. I opened the next, and the next. Altogether, 34 crates with arrows. 1 crate with throwing knives. I cracked open the last one.

My eyes glittered. At least 100 mana potions.

*****
The bird army reached us first. By that time, I had summoned 600 skeleton archers, the ramparts and towers positively bristling with bones. I spaced the crates of arrows out evenly around, so archers could reach them. I stood in the ramparts above the main gate, next to Turnip. A box of arrows sat next to him, the knives next to me.

He scratched his wispy haired head. “So, like, when can I start shooting him.”

“...whenever you are going to shoot without wasting arrows.”

“Oh, okay. I’m just used to Staff Sergeant Tim giving the order.” Turnip drew his bow and shot once, twice, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…

I watched in shock as he continued to shoot, an almost constant stream of arrows. Then, several seconds later, I began to see a steady stream of dead birds falling from the column. A drop in the ocean, but still…

Taking this as a sign, some of the other, higher leveled skeleton archers began to fire too, about 20 arrows arcing up. They lacked Turnip’s firing speed, but they still seemed accurate.

Screaming, the birds hurtled closer. The remaining, freshly summoned archers fired, a wave of 600 arrows crashing into the bird army. Just like that, around 5% of the birds tumbled from the sky, still a bit of distance away, but approaching fast. I began drawing knives in preparation. I toggled on my Aura of the Predator, my mouth instantly twisting into a cheshire grin. I could feel my bloodlust growing, infecting the archers around me, urging them to faster speed.

The aura continued to spread, and I was bouncing on my toes, ready. I looked towards the group I considered the real threat, the 100k army of goblins. They had penetrated into the marsh. I had a few surprises planned for them, but….

BOOOOM.

A huge column exploded up in the air, and I blinked. A strange powder caught the wind, spreading all over the marching army, and some floating towards the castle. It caught the light of the sun and glittered purple. Chuckling I turned back to the birds. So that’s what happened when one of the huge shrooms is touched.

Although we had probably killed almost ⅕ of the birds as they approached, they were about to reach us. I stood up on the edge of the battlements, gathering their attention and ire. Knives flicked out from my fingers, slitting the throats of approaching birds. Other me did the same with Wind Blades. Although they didn’t have much power, these birds seemed to be low level and died easily even to Wind Blades I created with only 10 mana.

I had gathered most of the high leveled archers near me, and they were firing constantly into the crowd. But at that moment, the birds arrived, slamming into the lines faster than I could kill them. Turnip switched to multishot, shooting clusters of arrows, downing several birds at once.

Birds slammed into skeleton archers, knocking them off the battlements, pecking at their bones until they cracked, or snapped their bow strikes. Still, the bones in bird’s bodies were weak, and Skeletons began wielding their bows as clubs, smashing birds to the ground.

On the left wall, Jerry rose up, calmly disintegrating birds right out of the air.

On the right wall, Whip man stood, twirling a spear. His stabs were faster than I could follow, and I looked away, dazzled by how he could skewer them right out of the sky. Rumbling his fury, Yellow Bones stood in the center of the courtyard. His almost 6 m tall form was mostly avoided by birds, but the small set of arms underneath his first, larger set, flicked out ribcage shards, slaughtering dozens of birds.

I felt strength seep into me as more and more birds, those still flying or with broken wings, began to feel the fear in their tiny hearts, giving into despair. After the initial clash, it was easy.

Although the birds had numbers, they were too light, and couldn’t do significant damage against a skeleton’s bones. I turned my attention to the approaching army of goblins. If we had killed a few thousand birds, we had killed even more goblins at this point. They were approaching up the road towards the castle, but another Shroom exploded, a huge plume of poison drifting over the army, felling large swathes of goblins.

So many so that a notification popped up in front of me.

Congratulations! Due to your actions, you have earned the title “Bringer of Battle.” You, of your own volition, had instigated violence and taken over 10,000 lives in your quest for dominance. Troops you lead have higher loyalty and increased morale. Slight amount of experience gained for the accomplishments of subordinates. Subordinates level up slightly faster in battle.


-Well, of my ‘own volition’ might be a little strong…

-Says the guy who stared at Kettle like an idiot after she kissed you. Keep that shit up and she think you’re socially inept.

-...which wouldn’t be inaccurate, we have no concept of how- Wait, what’s that?

In the center of the goblin column strange green tentacles emerges from the ground, spreading out over a 30 m area. Then the tentacles resolved themselves into thorned vines, which then began to rotate at extremely fast speeds, like the mechanism of a blender, reducing the goblins within to blood mush.

I shivered, hearing a strange echo of the lizard woman’s laugh.

But the goblin column pushed forward, impressing me with their dedication. I gestured to the ghoul working the gate. “Time to drop the bridge.”

With a thump, it slammed to the ground, Yellow Bones practically crawled to get out the gate, then stood and stomped forward. Behind him, a column of 50 of my newest creatures roared their defiance and rumbled as they charged forward.

I grinned, remembering the notification that appeared after about 350 of the skeleton archers had been summoned.

Congratulations! Due to your actions, your skill has improved to “Summon Lesser Dead Lvl 5”: Mana costs have decreased slightly. You may now raise “Skeleton Bears.”


But as my amusing bear column was smashing into the front of the goblins, basically hitting them like a cannonball, another small group was pushing into the side of the goblin column, not too far away.

They appeared to my eyes to be skeleton drudges, but strangely, it seemed as if the seed of a vine had been planted in their ribcage. The skeletons just basically walked forward, the sharp vines growing within their ribcage lashing out, easily felling the goblins.

-Must be the vineling spawn.

-And where there are vinelings, there must be…

-Tim

I focused on the crazed battle, struggling to pick out certain distinct individual in the mass of vine skeletons. This was complicated by the fact that I had never seen Tim before. I was further infuriated by Turnip’s mutters next to me.

“Staff Sergeant Tim is so elegant in battle…”

-Wait, other me. Tim isn’t a vineling spawn, he just leads them. Look for a normal skeleton!

I kept my eyes peeled, but about that point, the two columns of my forces encountered each other, and something extremely strange happened. The vines within the skeletons abruptly swelled, wrapping around their skeleton hosts. Then they seemed to squeeze, crushing their skeleton hosts into power.

Then, flinging themselves forward, the vines landed on 10 of the Skeleton Bears, quickly repositioning their vulnerable cores deeply within the bone body of the bear. The bear seemed to tremble, then still. After a moment, several large vines came out, several wrapping together to form 8 thick vine legs for each skeleton bear. Then, the bears who were now hosts to the vines began to leap around the battlefield with these long vines tentacles, like some strange sort of skeleton bear-spider.

The Skeleton archers and I watched in silence as the bears proceeded to slaughter the goblins in the area. Jerry walked up next to me.

“Staff Sergeant Tim told me that you had some great ideas about how to improve the vinelings, but…” Jerry shook his head. “I had no idea you planned so far ahead. Please forgive this foolish servant for doubting you. I will remain completely faithful in the future.”

I only managed to nod, choking as how tight my teeth were gritted prevented me from breathing.

*****
Two things happened as the sunlight died and we hunted down the remnants of the goblin army.

Congratulations! Due to your actions, your title Bringer of Battle has evolved into “Bringer of War”: Your actions have resulted in the death of over 100,000 enemies. When opposing armies see you leading forces against them, they feel fear in their hearts. Aura of the Predator shall be weakly emitted by every subordinate under you on the battlefield.
Congratulations! Due to your actions, you have reached Lvl 16. All Biomass has been consumed.
Due to your special circumstances, you have the choice of retaining the previously earned Racial Growth Rate of “Murloc Champion” or use the Biomass to receive another randomly assigned Growth Rate. Note, retaining a Growth Rate will allow you to learn Racial skills at the typical level they are learned. Note, if a Growth Rate is retained, the Biomass will instead be converted into random chances for improvement.
Do you wish to retain your previous Growth Rate? Y/N


-Sorry, but the singing just isn’t my thing~

-Don’t raise such flags. If we get a race that specializes in dancing next…

-We just lost 1753 Biomass. There is no way a dancing something would be that rare.

Due to your special circumstances, you will receive the racial growth rates of a random race based on the amount of biomass consumed.
Congratulations! You have received the racial growth rates of a “Ogre Variant (Two-Headed Albino).”
Vit +19
End +13
Str +29
Mana + 94


-On the one hand, there is no diversity in my stat gains…


-But on the other…

I flexed my fingers and smiled.

Jerry tapped me on my shoulder, waking me from my revelry. “The human woman who brought the crates earlier also told me to remind you that you will fail the challenge if you do not defeat the hawk by the time challengers may come tomorrow morning, and failure isn’t an option.”

“Also,” Jerry continued. “She said to tell you that the hawk is too honorable to flee, but after you defeat his armies you will need to go to him.”

Jerry and I looked up at the mountain. I could still feel the spot on my cheek where Kettle had kissed me. It was very tall.

-...More disturbing that the climb is the fact that she had enough foresight and knowledge to tell these very specific messages to Jerry. She would have to have an incredible familiarity with each of our habits and patterns...

“Well,” I finally said. “I guess I should get going."

*****
I ended up riding one of the skeleton spider-bears up the mountain, as its vines adeptly found crevices and ravines that allowed us to climb rapidly. But still, the assent took 7 hours. As I got off of it, I patted the bear’s skeleton head absently, thinking.

How do you fight a bird?

At the top of the mountain was a surprisingly stumpy compound with a 4 foot wall. I leapt over it without an issue. Giant braziers were set up at the corners, and in the center there was entrance to a cave, outside which the Falcon sat.

Its eyes opened slowly. “You… have surprised me”

I walked towards it, feeling my heartbeat rapidly start to increase. It was very hard for me to tell if I had inhaled some of the Heart Murmur poison floating on the air, or the prospect of taking another step on the Path of the Dragon was making me excited.

“For making it past my armies… I will give you the honor of dying by my talons.” With a powerful beat of its wings, it attempted to lift off the ground, entering the sky. Although I couldn’t be sure, I sensed that allowing it to do so would be problematic.

I instantly depleted all of my mana in one go, smashing done with a huge block of compressed air on the hawks back. It squawked in a very lame fashion, falling back down onto its talons. Rushing forward, I made it within its wings span before it could block, twisting and slamming a left hook into the right side of its feathered chest.

My strength had basically doubled in the last level up, and I still didn’t quite have control over it, but at that distance I didn’t need it.

Unfortunately, I had underestimated how hard its feathers were. Other that some superficial pain and knocking its relatively light body back a few meters, I did no damage. I suppose that Lvl 35 body isn’t just for show.

-This will take some doing.

I nodded, agreeing with other me.

It hopped backward and I followed, ducking under as it tried to flap its wings and blow me away with wind pressure, not giving it time to cover up its torso.

“You…!” It pecked toward towards me like a bolt of lightning.

But I had my bit of knowledge of thunder stance, and I surged to the left, avoid that peck and once more ending up close to its torso.

My eyes narrowed into slits, frantically scanning his feathers for some sign…

-There.

And I saw it too, right when other me did. My body jumped into motion, my pounding heart driving me forward. My fist smashed into the exact same spot as previously. I had a much more efficient degree of control this time. Although the feathers still dispersed most of the force, I still heard a soft snap as one of the feathers cracked, just slightly.

It tumbled back once more, I gave chase, drinking a mana potion I pulled from a pocket of my belt.

“You won’t get your way-!” The hawk beat its wings frantically desperate to get into the air. But I simply smiled, forming another tightly condensed brick of air and smashing it back to the ground.

It expected it this time, and lashed out with a wing, but I had known it would recover much more quickly. My hands blurred, flicking out 6 knives. It screeched, bobbing its head to dodge, but that split second was enough for me to get past its flailing wings and once more punch with my left hand with all of my strength, in the exact same spot. I heard several more cracks.

“IMPUDENT FOOL.” The Hawk surged upwards, truly enraged and not damaged in the slightest. A powerful whirlwind formed around us, all of the air on the mountain beginning to rotate. That whirlwind caused a powerful updraft in the eye of it, where we were, and the Hawk ascended, its feathers dark and black against the night sky.

I blinked. Was it really a night sky…? A faint light was forming in the distant horizon.  However the wind was kicking up clouds of dust, making it difficult to see.

With a frothing beak and a wildly tossing head, the hawk began to shout. “You will die here worm. I will grind your bones to dust and use that dust to line the latrines of the goblins! Your name will be forgotten! Your legacy will end! Your minions will suffer-”

I had finished drinking another mana potion at this point in the speech, and leapt up. I formed a platform of air and leapt up higher. I created another, slightly angled platform and leapt off that, using my processing power to calculate the exact amont of force I needed. It would be hard to adjust once I got close.

Floating through the air, I quickly chugged another mana potion, and somersaulted around, squatting upside down mid air, heading towards the hawk. It had realized I had disappeared and was scanning around on the ground frantically.

I tsk’d as it shifted about, annoyed. But this was within acceptable parameters.

I passed right above the hawk, close enough to reach down and touch. A bit too far.

Forming the platform of air, I pressed down slightly, inching my squatting body closer. Closing my eyes, I waited for our centers of gravity to align. My breathing stilled. The wind grew distant. The only noise was my pumping heart. A small notification popped up.

Congratulations! Due to your actions, the skill has improved to “Physicality Lvl 6”: Your heart has become incomparably strong. You have gained a small amount of immunity to pain.


If I wasn’t so focused, I would have smiled. So it was Heart Murmur after all that made me like this. But then when I pictured what I was about to do, the grin of a hungry wolf consumed me.


Other me spoke in Whipman’s voice. “Leap!”

The compressed air platform my feet were touching exploded outward, propelling me down. My legs surged, riding that force and leaping out of the squat, all of that force smashing down into the unknowing back of the hawk.

Squawking once more, it fell out of the sky, crashing into the earth like a meteor. I groaned, rubbing my neck, worried that I had taken just as much damage as it had. The wind swirling around us dispersed, and the flat area returned to its normal state. The hawk was struggling up, slightly stunned but still not seriously injured. Those feathers of his really absorbed too much force.

“You…. how?!?!?”

I walked closer, my own brief dizziness departing. It shrieked and lashed out with a wing, but I ducked under it, once more appearing close to its torso. My eyes narrowed, scanning. I crouched low, my left hand tightening into a fist.

The hawk screeched helplessly, knowing what was about to come but being unable to stop it. It twisted its body, layering the feathers more tightly, trying to protect more from breaking.

My eyes flashed.

The Fourth Form of Thunder Stance, Forked Bolt!

-I just want to clarify, "Thunder" is a term for the NOISE that accompanies lightning. So all these names for the forms`

-Shut up, other me.

I surged to the right, smoothly drawing my short sword. When the Hawk had twisted, flinching and increasing its defense on the right side, the feathers on its left had opened up, giving me space to stab. I slid the short sword through the feathers, past the ribs, and into the creature’s heart.

Then I leapt back, watching as it flailed and struggled. A huge pool of blood formed under it. It glared at me with hateful eyes.

“You know…” I spoke, watching the sun peaking above the horizon. “I wonder how much that Kettle woman predicted.”

***POV Change***
Dekker, red eyed and furious, twitched as he heard a name he recognized. “Kettle?!!”

He looked out at his secretary’s desk, only to find it deserted.

***POV Change***
“All she told me is that you reigned here for 100 years, but suddenly I knew you. You are afraid. Your will is weak. You fear pain.” I cracked my wrists and drank a mana potion. Better safe than sorry. Then I continued to speak.

“I could never truly breakthrough your feathers to inflict damage on you in a direct way. And if I had stabbed you directly, your feathers would have simply repelled it. So I had to teach you fear. And I had you shy away from that fear, so that you would open yourself up to dying.”

The hawk cried woefully, and then its head fell to the ground, eyes dim.

Congratulations! Due to your actions, your title A Creature Which Named Itself Predator has evolved into “A Predator”. Stat bonus increased to +5.
Congratulations! Due to your actions, your skill Cadence of Thunder has evolved into “Thunder Stance Lvl 1”: The most ferocious and destructive of the stances, thunder stance is designed to break through even the most carefully crafted defenses. Effectiveness of Thunder Stance improves.
Congratulations! Due to your actions, you have enough experience to reach Lvl 17. Unfortunately, without Biomass to consume, you cannot level. After obtaining Biomass, select the “Level Up” option in the status screen to proceed to the next level.


I approached the dead hawk and with a heave, flipped it over. I looked at the rising sun and grimaced.


-No time.

Using my short sword, I plucked feathers as quickly as I could and carved out the hawks heart, gobbling it up quickly. But before I could open my status screen, another message appeared.

After absorbing the creature’s strength, you gain some of the toughness of its feathers. Teeth, nails, and hair have become extremely hard. Continue to slay stronger foes to follow the Path of the Dragon.


-...really? What am I supposed to do with hard hair?


-Forget it, we need to hurry, the land is collapsing around us.

It was true. This path was trembling. I ran to the edge of the mountain, and could see that the parts farthest away from my castle were cracking and falling off into…

Gulping, I looked away. Basically, that’s not where you wanted to end up. I hopped on the Skeleton Bear-Spider and it leapt down, leaping from one ledge to another at a rate that was extremely fast.

But I just opened up the status screen and selected Level up.

Congratulations! Due to your actions, you have reached Lvl 17. All Biomass has been consumed.
Due to your special circumstances, you have the choice of retaining the previously earned Racial Growth Rate of “Ogre Variant (Two-Headed Albino)” or use the Biomass to receive another randomly assigned Growth Rate. Note, retaining a Growth Rate will allow you to learn Racial skills at the typical level they are learned. Note, if a Growth Rate is retained, the Biomass will instead be converted into random chances for improvement.
Do you wish to retain your previous Growth Rate? Y/N


I clicked yes.


-It seems quite enjoyable to punch things very, very hard.

All Biomass has been consumed! Due to consuming 7 Biomass, 0 chances at improvement gained.
Growth Rate Retained!
Vit +9
End + 15
Str +14
Mana + 102
Due to reaching Lvl 17 as Ogre Variant (Two-Headed Albino), you may learn the racial skill “Pain Tolerance Lvl 1”.: You have a small ability to ignore pain that would otherwise make you faint. Would you like to learn this ability? Y/N


-...so we can stay awake while being tortured…?


-Oh shush, it will be a useful ability.

-Whatever, masochist.

You have learned the skill “Pain Tolerance Lvl 1”! Due to synergy with Physicality, Pain Tolerance Lvl 1 has become “Pain Tolerance Lvl 4”: Your body can withstand high levels of pain without impacting cognitive functions. You may at will become slightly numb, allowing you to persist through pain.


I looked at the rising sun, a headache forming behind my eyes from the lack of sleep. I opened up my status screen, praying this challenger of wasn’t all he was cracked up to be...

Name:PredatorLevel:17
Race:Biomass:0
Racial Growth Rate:Ogre Variant (Two-Headed Albino)
Health Regen:x2.1Mana:36/1100
Vit:75 (+5)End:57 (+5)
Str:74 (+5)Agi:40 (+5)
Dex:35 (+5)Memory:242 (+5)
Processing Power:271 (+5)Parallel Computations:2
Wis:99 (+5)Luck:33 (+5)
Timeless Perception:50 (+5)
Titles
A PredatorRacelessNurturer of the UndeadSinger of the Dark Cadences
Bringer of War
Skills
Lesser Air Affinity Lvl 7Endless StomachWeapons Mastery Lvl 2Knife Throw Lvl 9
Path of the DragonAura of the Predator Lvl 4Summon Lesser Dead Lvl 5Bile Emission Lvl 2
Unholy Bestowal Lvl 1Physicality Lvl 5Song of the Murloc People Lvl 1Thunder Stance Lvl 1
Cadence of EarthCadence of WaterCadence of WindWind Blade Lvl 1
Pain Tolerance Lvl 4



***Author's Note****

Ugh, fights are long as expected. This might be the longest chapter to date.

Also, I've noticed that with the recent chapters I've been more worried about getting them out and sharing this world with y'all then I have been focused on proofreading. I basically just type and throw it out there. So for this one, I went back through things more closely. I promise I can spell and form sentences xD. I'm just tired.

We will see about whether another chapter will be out tonight. Depends if it spreads to be as long as this one. I suspect it won't, but you never know...

Tomorrow then I will ease back on pumping out chapters. If I don't get 22 out tonight, I will do it and 23, and then I will casually go back through and do some light proofreading.

As always, I appreciate comments, and happy reading~
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puddles4263

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