Incrementum

by

Countabbot

Chapter 31 - Samantha - Present

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A note from Countabbot

Thanks again for reading this far and I appreciate the comments and ratings!

“That’s it Samantha, no more. We have to head for Null’s camp to start thinning the herd. Let’s complete the quest already,” Dan says.

It takes me a few seconds to realize he spoke.  I’ve been in work mode. Head down, get it done, no second thoughts. Just like when I took twice as many courses as I should at college.

I’m already halfway to the hollowed out root that will take us back out of the cave, to reset it for another batch of Soul Essence Warriors when Dan’s voice registers and I stop, standing on a pile of blue shards on the bottom floor of Chronos’s cave.

The past two days are a blur of shattered crystal and glowing moss. We have found it only takes ten minutes for the shattered soul shards to soak back into the cave moss and reset for another round of Soul Essence Warriors. That means every ten minutes over the past two days we cleared out fifteen Soul Essence Warriors, five on each of the three floors. That’s close to sixty warriors an hour with delays here and there. Multiply that out and we’ve killed roughly three thousand Soul Essence Warriors. I haven’t bothered looking at my notifications in quite some time.

“I’m ready to be done here. Our staff queen moves in interesting ways handling those warriors, but my eyes are glazing over. I have to get some rest and think about what to do with these two level ups. It’s going to take me an hour to talk to Animus at least.” Kuruk says.

“Stop staring at me, creepo, and hit the bad guys faster if you want to go to sleep,” I say.

“I’m with Kuruk. I’ve got nine levels to allocate. Thanks a lot, everyone. I know this was most valuable for me and Samantha and I appreciate you all spending so much time helping us out.” David says.

“You can recompense us by partnering up for our dance with Null Division and his posse,” Doc says. Leonard hasn’t bothered sneaking for the past game day, maybe two, I can’t remember. He yawns, arching backward and then forwards, reminding me of a cat. Leonard motions with his finger in a circle, the universal sign for speed it up.

“Ok, ok, let’s wrap it up. Alright, Bonesy, how do we complete the ritual to incarnate Chronos?”

“Done whacking things with your big stick? The best way would be to sacrifice everyone here, just to prove that you’re serious. The Gods like a certain amount of gravitas. I’ve noted your previous aversion to necessary sacrifice and even though your doubts have no merit, I do have an alternate path for you. I spoke with Decrepit and he said you visitors have options we do not have. Everyone here, needs to say, ‘I believe in Chronos, may his divine presence come forth, I bind myself to his rise.’ And you, as his mother, must say, ‘Come forth Chronos, my son, on my faith I choose you as my God.’”

I rest my face into the palm of my hand.

“And you think human sacrifice is a better route than just saying those words?”

“Those words have power. Each of you may never bind yourself to another god’s rise, this is the only god which you may incarnate. And you, Samantha, cannot go back. Chronos is your son by word and deed. Lead him to be a force for life, death, chaos, order or nothing at all, it is up to you. Do those consequences sound simpler than a sacrifice?”

“I guess not...so what, any five people can incarnate a God?”

“No, remember, I sacrificed fifteen people to get Chronos to this point, that’s twenty people making an irreversible decision or being sacrificed, no easy matter to coordinate. Quite the coup if I do say so myself. It took years of recruiting apprentices, laborers, families and the rest...”

“That’s enough Bonesy, just enough. You are an awful little skull.”

“I’m quite a large skull, thank you.”

I move my index finger and thumb up to my eyes and start rubbing, then look up at the rest of the team.

“What do you say, guys? Are you in?” I say.

“I can’t speak for everyone but I already chose my God, I don’t mind using my one chance to incarnate on Chronos. I wouldn’t choose the incarnated God anyway. Chronos could give us the edge we need against Null.” Dan says.

The chorus of shrugging shoulders and nodding heads lets me know it’s time to proceed.

“What about Reginald?” Kuruk says.

“Ah yes, you’ll need to dispose of him,” Bonesy says.

“He’s roughly level twenty-five -- looks even to me. Probably five times as strong as a single one of these warriors with more tricks up his sleeve too. At least the bosses I fought before were.” Kuruk says.

“We should at least allocate our attribute points before the fight. We can each do faith points later after we rest.” Dan says.

Fair enough, I pull up the notifications I’ve been ignoring and skim through all the intermediary notifications, only reading the highest level of each.

...

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Staff Offense (Level 2)

As you practice striking your enemies with your staff, this skill will go up in level and effectiveness. This skill has the following effects:

  • Any staff will do 104% of its listed damage.
  • 4% reduction in recovery penalty for offensive staff skills.
  • Special offensive skills with the staff can be discovered.

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill:  Melon Crusher (Level 2)

Putting all of your might into a single blow to your enemy’s skull can crush it like a melon, or miss and leave you exposed to retaliation.

Effects:

  • 650% damage. (+325% damage from inventor’s bonus)
  • 25% increased chance to miss. (-25% chance from inventor’s bonus)
  • -50% chance to dodge (+50% chance from inventor’s bonus)

Recovery:

  • 2 seconds (1.75 with current modifiers)

Cost:

  • 20 stamina

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Side Kick (Level 2)

Targeting the joints of your enemies allows you to deal moderate damage and slow their mobility. At higher levels, this skill will gain effects.

Effects:

  • Enemy’s ability to dodge is reduced by 30%.
  • Enemy’s speed is reduced 10%.

Recovery:

  • 1 second recovery. (.98 seconds with current modifiers)

Cost:

  • 5 stamina

 

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Leg Sweeper (Level 2)

An enemy can’t stand on legs that are no longer planted in the ground.  At higher levels, this skill will gain effects.

Effects:

  • Enemy disabled for 5 seconds.
  • Enemy’s unable to dodge or flee for duration of disable, but the enemy can still attack you if possible from its prone position.

Recovery:

  • 2 second recovery. (1.96 seconds with current modifiers)

Cost:

  • 5 stamina

 

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Staff Quake (Level 2)

The force from your staff hitting the ground knocks any enemy in front of you back, dealing damage in a cone in front of you.  At higher levels, this skill will gain effects.

Effects:

  • 110% damage to every enemy in front of you.
  • Every enemy knocked back two meters.

Recovery:

  • 1 second recovery. (.98 seconds with current modifiers)

Cost:

  • 5 stamina

 

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Knuckle Cruncher (Level 2)

Targeting an enemy’s hands, and landing the blow with enough force pulverizes their knuckles, leaving them unable to hold a weapon for some time.  At higher levels, this skill will gain effects.

Effects:

  • Disarm enemy for 7 seconds (+3 seconds inventor’s bonus).
  • 30% (+12.5% inventor’s bonus) damage, once every second of disarm.
  • 20% increased chance to miss. (-20% chance from inventor’s bonus)

Recovery:

  • 1 second recovery. (.98 seconds with current modifiers)

Cost:

  • 5 stamina

 

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Staff Defense (Level 4)

As you practice blocking your opponent’s attacks with your staff, this skill will go up in level and effectiveness.  This skill has the following effects:

  • 25% base chance you can deflect an enemy’s attack and take no damage.
  • 20% base chance your deflection results in damaging the enemy for 100% of damage of a normal attack.
  • Special defense skills with the staff can be discovered.

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Two Handed Spin (Level 3)

A defensive spin of your staff has an increased chance of deflecting multiple incoming attacks at once.

Effects:

  • 65% chance you can deflect multiple enemies’ attacks and take no damage.
  • 25% chance your deflection results in damaging the enemy for 100% of the damage of a normal attack.
  • No other offensive or defensive skills can be used while spinning.

Recovery:

  • 1 second (.98 with  current modifiers)

Cost:

  • 5 stamina per second

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Slur to Spur (Level 3)

Nothing spurs your foes into action like a slur. Using targeted verbal insults will force your foes to attack you before others.

Effects:

  • Instant attention of all foes within hearing range of your slurs.
  • +60 inventor’s bonus to aggro for all foes affected by your slurs.

Recovery:

  • None

Cost:

  • None

You Have Reached Level 19!

+5 Attribute points
+25 Hit points
+10 Stamina
+1 Faith point

Congratulations! You have leveled up skill: Flurry of Blows (Level 3)

Rapidly poking every enemy in front of you stuns and damages them.

Effects:

  • 35% of base damage done to each enemy in front of you. For each second spent performing the flurry.
  • Enemies stunned for the duration of flurry.
  • 3.5% chance for flurry to miss an enemy and release them from the stun effect, increases by 3.5% each second the flurry continues.
  • No other offensive or defensive skills can be used while performing Flurry of Blows.

Recovery:

  • 1 second recovery. (.98 seconds with current modifiers)

Cost:

  • 20 stamina per second of flurry.

Duration:

  • Maximum of five seconds.

I have 45 attribute points to spend and all of my skills increased in effectiveness, awesome. My defensive skills went up two levels and my offensive skills one level. I’ve been mostly using my defensive and aggro skills while fighting the past three days, but I managed to sneak in enough attacking to level up Melon Crusher, Joint Breaker, Side Kick, Leg Sweeper, Staff Quake and Staff Offense too. With my base staff defense, and Two Handed Spin, assuming my enemy has a similar Dexterity to me, I have a ninety percent chance to deflect their attack. That’s amazing, provided a have stamina long enough to keep Two Handed Spin going. I’ve noticed the warriors have hit me even less frequently than ninety percent of the time. They are higher level but must have less Dexterity.

I want to continue with my avoidance based build, which dictates I put the majority of my forty-five attribute points into Dexterity. That being said, I have a fight with Reginald, Null Division’s allies and then Null Division in my immediate future. Each of those opponents probably achieved a higher level than me and will more likely than not hit me even if I put every point into Dexterity. Which means I probably need more hitpoints and more stamina so I can run my One Handed Spin, Two Handed Spin and Flurry of Blows as long as I can. I find it unlikely that the damage from my staff blows is going to be what turns the tide in the upcoming fights, but I don’t want to be a weak fighter either. I can still remember when Archibold, the giant skeleton Bonesy enraged and I double-crossed, swung his club into my staff so hard my own staff ended up hitting me. If I neglect strength too much I will probably be unable to deflect and block enemy attacks.

All that being said, I decide to allocate 25 points to Dexterity, ten points to Strength and ten points in Constitution. 

Samantha (Level 19) Attributes

HP: 650
Stamina: 330

Strength: 21
Constitution: 21
Dexterity: 51
Intelligence: 1
Wisdom: 1
Charisma: 1
Luck: 1

Available points: 0
Faith points: 19

“Alright, let’s do this,” I say.

“Typical Samantha. I need at least another five minutes.” David says.

“...How about now?”

“That was one minute at best.”

“...And now?”

“Alright, young lady, that’s enough, give the young man a few minutes,” Doc says.

A few minutes pass, about as slowly as they always do.

“Ok, ready,” David says.

Finally.

“Any objections to running up and hitting Reginald on the side of the head?” I say.

“Actually, no, that’s appropriate here, do your thing sweetums. I’ll be back here, preparing to bestow Vitalia’s blessings all over you,” Dan says.

I shake my head, Dan’s ridiculous. No need to waste time.

I lunge forward, pumping both legs, heading straight for Reginald. It takes me six strides, but they happen so fast I’m not ready to swing at Reginald. I awkwardly stare at the green webbed whites of his eyes from only a meter away. I swing at his head and say, “You have to be the stupidest man in existence. Did you trust Decaide, or Bonesy, of all people? He’s a sociopath, he doesn’t care for you or your people. Really poor judgment Reginald, and now it’s catching up to you.”

My staff hits his shoulder with a satisfying thunk, and I see a red fifty in the air, my damage is increasing nicely. The bad news is that Reginald’s hitpoints don’t even move.

“No, it’s catching up with you, and when I sacrifice your souls to Chronos, none of this will have been in vain. Did you think the Soul Warriors are my only recourse?”

Reginald points up at the ceiling. I know I”m not going to like this. I look up. Yep, don’t like it. Five long-limbed animals, two meters in length a piece, crawl across the rock ceiling, or what used to be animals. The holes in their pelts show no flesh, just bone. Their hooked claws dig into the crumbling rock and dirt, and I see nothing but white in their eyes.

“Why you’ve been polishing your undead mastery, Reginald, well done. Five Cave Bear minions, impressive!” Bonesy says.

Reginald doesn’t bother answering and pulls a flail -- a spiked metal ball connected to a wooden handle by a chain -- out of his belt. He starts to pump his arm back on forth, causing the sharp metal ball to whine through the air. I lean back and then lunge forward, crushing his left knee cap, interrupting the mace’s spin and leaving him slowed. Good ol’ Joint Breaker.

“Kuruk, this is a good time to go bear. I’m not sure when those Cave Bear will attack us but when they do, you’ll probably need to help me tank. I’m not sure how to insult an Undead Cave Bear so they will probably run around.”

“They can try,” Doc says. An orange and red circle starts emitting light underneath one of the Cave Bear. It tilts its head before a stream of molten lava drips, and then gushes from the glowing circle, sizzling into the bear’s chest and lighting its pelt on fire. The bear roars and falls to the ground.

The veins in Reginald’s face darken and push outward slightly from his skin. I can see frost on his fingernails. A drill shaped cone of ice, with a spiraling ridge from tip to base, solidifies behind him and immediately starts spinning. The ice drill shoots towards Reginald’s back. Reginald arches his back and screams over the fleshy buzzing sound. I step forward and swing with both hands, aiming to crush his melon.  Reginald leans over, bending at his waist, showing me the new hole the ice bored into his back, and neatly dodging my swing.

“I froze his veins, Samantha, he should be slower than normal. Leonard, that hole in his back is a great place to stab.” David says.

Leonard fades into view, his enlarged, poison dripping dagger already pointed at Reginald’s back. He sinks the dagger into the hole, twisting and ripping it through muscle before pulling it out.

This is easy. Reginald’s down to 75% hitpoints, one Cave Bear is down, and I’m not even hurt.

All four Cave Bears drop at once, arms spread wide. One lands on Doc, another lands on David, and the other two land right next to Dan.

“Crap, Kuruk, help me out.” Kuruk is two steps ahead of me. He’s already a giant shaggy bear and has one giant paw wrapped around the throat of the Cave Bear digging its claws into Doc’s stomach. I turn my head, trusting Kuruk to protect Doc. I run towards Dan. I want to help David, but if the bears overwhelm Dan none of us will be healed.

“You call yourself Cave Bears? Might as well be Cave Hares if you ask me.” Lame at best, but when their white eyes turn toward me instead of snapping their jaws on Dan’s leather bracers and chainmail, I know they don’t appreciate puns.

I kick the bear on my left and spin to my left, bring my staff around and slam it into the other bear’s left elbow. I’m surprised I’m able to break its joint so quickly after kicking. A notification icon appearing in the corner of my vision might have the explanation later, no time now. I stay on the offensive, rapidly hitting the bear on my right several times before the bear my kick knocked back can recover. Dan steps up behind the crippled bear, drawing two daggers from his belt, and jams them both into its back.

I know I’ve committed too heavily to attacking when the bear lands two swipes. I’ve gotten too close to effectively dodge, evade or block its attacks. I keep swinging my staff and it collapses to the ground at the same time the remaining bear sinks its jaws into my arm. I only have twenty percent of my hitpoints left. I shake my arm, trying to dislodge the bear, but it’s not going anywhere. Dan reaches down and pulls the daggers out of the first bear and jams them into this one’s neck. The bear’s eyes close and its dry undead corpse falls to the ground.

I turn around, crap. A bear has its teeth sunk into David’s neck. He’s down to five percent hitpoints and while Kuruk is there nearly rippings its leg off, it’s not enough. I start to say, “Dan quick heal David...” but it’s too late. David collapses and his body fades away, back to the real world. The warmth of Vitalia surrounds me and I see my hitpoints surge to fifty percent, the gashes on my arms healing over.

Leonard dances back and forth in front of Reginald, dodging the spinning mace, he only has ten percent of his hitpoints left. I sprint forward, trying to reach them in time to prevent Reginald’s next blow. Instead of dodging, Leonard lunges forward, catching Reginald by surprise and cutting his hamstring in the same movement. A white glow surrounds Leonard and everyone else. Leonard gets twenty percent of his hitpoints back and I get roughly ten percent. It must be some type of group heal boon. Just in time too. We already lost David, if we lost Leonard we might be in trouble.

Two spears of rock erupt below Reginald, their glowing red tips piercing his legs. Leonard, now standing behind him, walks his daggers up Reginald’s back but falls off before reaching his neck. I swing for Reginald’s head, landing Melon Crusher this time, seeing another fifteen percent of Reginald’s hitpoints drop off. Kuruk rushes past me, before standing on his hind legs, reaching out, and enveloping Reginald in a bear hug, lifting his feet a third of a meter off the ground. Kuruk bellows before bending his head down and biting into the top of Reginald’s skull.

I can hear Reginald chanting something from inside Kuruk’s arms. The blue shards in the room raise off the ground and start to spin slowly, then faster.

“Give it everything you got guys, he’s going to bleed us to death with these shards,” I say.

I run around Kuruk and try to hit Reginald’s neck as hard as I can, aiming my staff above Leonard's head as he slices the back of Reginald’s body up faster than I can see. I feel the shards running across the back of my arms, lower back and face. I’ve already lost twenty percent of my hitpoints. Reginald roars before I hear a sick crunch, the shards drop to the ground and what sounds like a pitcher full of liquid drops to the ground between Kuruk’s feet.

“Gross Kuruk, don’t even think of bear kissing me with that mouth.”

Kuruk responds with a bear-grin and lolling tongue.

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Countabbot

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