The two of us proceeded calmly through the outer layer of the jungle, but we didn’t let down our guard. If there was anywhere that might pose a risk to my safety, it would be out in the wild, whether from poison or an ambush. Although Keliope and the other goddesses could watch from above, there was still a chance that something they didn’t consider a threat might surprise them.
As for me, I was doing my best to identify the various plants that we came across. With the new Keeper’s Cards game, I had chosen to copy my world to use as a base to play off of. It was an idea to help me come up with strategies later on, once I saw that the option was available. But because of that, I was able to see the card versions of all the different plants and animals in the world.
Okay, so maybe not all of them. It’s not like I had a billion cards in my deck, nor would I have had the time to study that many. But any that had special effects that would influence the world in some way, such as being useful in alchemy, or having special properties all their own. In total, there were just over a hundred of those cards like that which made up my ‘world’ deck.
“Remember, we only need to bring back two or three samples of each type of plant.” I reminded Kelly, who had begun picking every hanging fruit or weed she could find. “It’s more important to remember where we got everything. You do have the Scout class, right?”
Kelly let out a groan, letting go of the weed that she was having difficulty pulling. Even with her immense strength, it seemed that its roots had either gone too deep or were too strong to pull. Which likely meant that we couldn’t eat it anyways. “Yeah, yeah. Only six levels, though. I did most of my training this time before exploring.”
Six levels definitely wasn’t bad. If not for the voyage that we were on, I’d only have one. As it stands, I had shot up to a level twenty-five scout a couple of weeks ago. “Alright, then I’ll be the one to mark the locations.” I nodded my head slightly as I said that.
One of the perks of the scout class was something akin to a mental map. By taking in all of the sensory data you receive and cataloguing it, it allows your mind to project a map that only you can see. Naturally, this lets you mark points of interest to remember locations for later, but it won’t ‘update’ your map unless you can sense the area in some way, so there is no telling if something happened there.
For instance, with my twenty-five levels in Scout, I could effortlessly lead us back to the ship from where we were now. However, I couldn’t accurately lead a journey all the way back to the beastkin continent, for the simple reason that I had to sleep during parts of the journey, so the map is incomplete.
As I focused on the Scout class, I noticed something. A small ping on the mental map, which I immediately focused on. Closing my eyes, I could ‘see’ off into the bushes near us, a form of echolocation. Gentle paw prints pressing on the ground, claws scraping against leaves. Aside from myself and Kelly, there was a quiet breathing near us. “Kelly, off to our left. Eight meters out. Possibly edible?”
My last words caught her attention immediately, making her look in that direction. Soon enough, something that looked like a green panther jumped out of the bushes just as I opened my eyes. Its fur was colored perfectly to blend in with the surroundings, making me wonder if that was a special effect of the creature. However, it wasn’t one that I recognized from the cards, so it likely wasn’t strong enough to be classified as a consideration by the system.
Level 64 Ganth
That was an… interesting name for it. But if that was as strong as it was, then it was no better than the slimes that we had fought in the dungeon. And sure enough, one solid punch from Kelly caught it mid-leap, creating a sickening crunch as its neck bent at a bad angle. It barely had the time to whimper before falling to the ground, its life bar blinking out as fast as it appeared.
“Hmm, haven’t had one of these before.” Kelly mumbled, licking her lips as she looked at the gantha. After a brief moment, she reached down and touched its body, causing it to disappear and become a piece of paper. Since we didn’t have enough bags to carry everything back, the quest system proved incredibly useful.
I let out a low chuckle, shaking my head before an odd purple fruit caught my eye. It was hanging from a tall tree, over a dozen meters above us. Its shape was like a spiked ball, pins coming off of it from all angles. Now this, this I recognized. It took me a brief moment to recall the information from the card about this particular item.
A purple, edible fruit. Consuming this offers low calories, but will remove the last level acquired by the user. As a side effect, memories pertaining to that level may also be lost, causing short-term amnesia. Effects stack with multiple uses. Requires Game System within the world to grow. Food quality: 0.5. Utility: 2
“Kelly.” I grinned as I grabbed her attention, causing her to look at me in confusion, following my eyes up towards the fruit.
“You know something about those, boss?”
Seeing as she wasn’t aware of what the reset fruit was, I wasn’t all that surprised. Her domains of Strength and Fortitude offered little in the way of herbology. “It’s a good item, yeah. Erases the last level you gained when you eat it. I don’t remember ever seeing any on the beastkin continent, so we should probably grab some and store them for later.”
“Ooh, nice!” She grinned widely, kicking off the ground to jump high onto the branch where the fruits were hanging. “There’s a ton of them up here! How many you think I should take?”
Hearing her call down from above to ask that, I couldn’t help but shrug. “Just as many as you can put in a scroll. We can get more later when we come back!”
Immediately, I put down a marker on the mental map, a reminder of where we found the fruit. As I did, I heard an amused chuckle in my mind, Terra apparently taking the chance to speak up. Nice catch there. Those fruits are really only native to the islands in this region.
How does something like that even grow naturally? I figured that I would have to buy level reduction items from the market originally. There was a soft tugging on my lips as I held back a smile, realizing that this had saved me some future purchases.
The energy of the system is everywhere. Although it is incredibly rare, it’s possible for things to evolve that can manipulate it in some way. For instance, there is a disease that plagued the humans centuries ago, known as the Pinnacle Plague. It was no more than a common flu to normal people, but it fed off the power of the system lingering on a person’s body to grow stronger. The higher your level, the bigger the threat.
Then… isn’t it possible for a person to have a birth defect where the system reacts differently to them in some way? Hearing that something like this was possible through common evolution only made me worry about other possibilities.
Among monsters or animals, sure. Terra explained patiently, apparently having predicted I’d ask that. But any race you purchase is ‘protected’ from those types of evolutions. They can become stronger naturally, but in order to get new effects like that, you would need to buy the ‘Anomoly’ system from the market. It allows people among the races you purchase to very rarely be born with a power either above or beyond the normal system. Imagine someone born with infinite mana or ki, or the natural ability to have their soul leave their body for a time without training any classes.
I had to admit that the idea was interesting, and possibly worthwhile, but there was a strong reason why I wouldn’t do something like that. There are bad anomalies too, right? Things that would be a danger to a Keeper’s life if triggered accidentally?
You got it in one! Terra seemed rather happy that I was able to guess that on my own. In any case of random chance, there is a high and a low. A strong anomaly might have infinite mana, or a regenerating body, but a weak anomaly might have the opposite. Complete rejection to mana, or a body that eats away at itself. There might even be someone born that uses a completely different system of magic, though those would be rarer than Tryval’s celibate episodes.
That brought a small laugh out of me, making Kelly look at me in confusion when she jumped down from the tree. “Sorry, it’s Terra.” I explained, getting a knowing ‘Ahh’ from her in response. Okay, so the anomalies aren’t specifically good or bad, but they can be dangerous at times. Noted. However, you said that monsters could be born that manipulate the system?
Rather than Terra answering, it was Accalia that butted in there. And this is where I step in, Dale! She spoke with an obvious grin in her voice. Actually, there are three monsters in the present world born that can manipulate the energy of the system in one way or another. One of them is super deadly, able to completely strip away all levels of its victim, returning them to their most basic statistics. Thankfully, it is on an unpopulated island far away from anyone else. And no, not the island you are on, or anywhere near it.
I nearly fell over when she mentioned what the monster could do, as well as it being on an uninhabited island… If they sent me to where that thing was, I’d be ascending as quickly as I possibly could.
The second one is a little fox monster, currently hiding in a little cave in the elven continent. Its ability is no weaker than the first, but in the other direction. It can actually add thirty percent to all class levels to people it becomes affectionate towards! Thankfully, the elves haven’t found it, or they’d be way stronger! I couldn’t help but subconsciously nod as I heard that. A fox able to bestow levels was definitely strong.
The third and final one--wait, sorry. Nevermind, it just got eaten. It WAS a bird, which had been born with the ability to siphon levels away and give them to itself. Like the others, it had never been found, so its ability had never been used before.
With her explanation finished, I could hear Terra clearing her throat to take the conversation back from Accalia. Anyways, you don’t really have to worry about that for now. A creature born mutated to influence the system energy is so rare that no more than five would ever appear in a world your size at once. If it was Desbar, they’d be lucky if even one such creature appeared in a generation. But one thing that they all have in common, the influence of the system energy makes it impossible for them to breed unless a monster is specifically purchased to be able to do that.
Well, that was good at least. If creatures like that were able to breed later generations and become commonplace, they could basically destroy the world! As it was, just the first or third examples alone would become threats on a national level if they were ever placed in civilization.
Thanks for the explanation. By the way, what happens if someone eats enough reset fruit to drop their level below zero? Or if they ate a… I think it was called a surge root, to get above the level limit? Now that the main topic was out of the way, I figured I would ask a question that had been bugging me since I saw the small fruits.
The reset fruit won’t do anything to a creature that doesn’t have the influence of the system on them. But if someone really did send themselves all the way to level zero, they’d become like a toddler, unable to speak or walk on their own. As for the roots… If someone forced more of the system’s energy into their body than it allows, either through the root or that fox, kaboom.
Okay, not going to ask for specifics. Kaboom is quite clear enough, thank you! So note to self, do not go looking for the magic fox.