Small rocks fell on the floor causing mild noises in the mini hall he stood in. The crater on the wall still had his fist lodged in it; it was a sight he thought wasn’t possible with his strength just days ago.
Strength wasn’t the only thing that changed in him; his hearing, smell, and touch also became much more sensitive than before. It explained the boost that his awareness skill took, being able to even form an outline through a wall and all.
Now that he became aware of the changes in his body, whether he wants it or not, he was left no choice but to adapt to it. Survival is the one thing left in his mind; adapting to the situation became the most important course of action as of now. Otherwise, fighting his way out of the dungeon is but a fleeting dream.
4 pillars sat in each side of the room; it was a perfect spot to practice his control over his movements. The 4 pillars became landmarks. On each of these pillars, Kazu would jump to the landmark to practice the amount of strength he required on set distances.
Moving his body just before the first pillar which marks the first landmark, he expanded the range of his awareness to its maximum. The feeling of knowing everything that was happening in his surroundings made Kazu feel at ease. Every drip of water and every breeze of wind that passed through the hallways, his awareness carried all of that information back to Kazu. Everything that happened over 6 rooms away, Kazu felt it.
Now satisfied with the ease of no monsters being near him, Kazu set his eyes on practicing his control. Seeing that even a little amount of power in his legs would send him flying, his first landmark would be the 4th one which was around 20 meters away.
Just on the foot of the pillar, a line he drew earlier sat just beside it. He readied himself looking at the where that line, the landmark. Then, putting strength on one of his legs, he jumped forward aiming at the line.
Wind from the sudden speed blew his hair apart. The first pillar sat 5 meters away from where he started, but the amount of strength he put in his jump made it feel like it was as easy feat. Back in Japan during his high school, no one ever passed 5 meters in long jump. Yet, his body was still being propelled by the force of his jump.
Now he was nearing the 2nd pillar marked at 10 meters. However, his speed still didn’t drop and quickly passed the 2nd pillar. The 3rd pillar marked at 15 meters also passed in a blink of an eye after the 2nd pillar was passed. His eyes caught all of this as he observed with his new found reflexes which made everything seem like slow motion.
Now at the 4th pillar, his body felt like it wasn’t going to stop soon and the last stop was the wall at 25 meters. Even though it didn’t do much damage, it still hurt.
He stuck his foot to try and force a stop. Upon doing that, he skidded trying to stop his own momentum. It created a line like scar on the floor and also causing some scratching noises along the stone paved floor. His body just stopped right before the wall, preventing him from taking any damage or getting hurt.
Continuing on, Kazu walked back to his original starting point. His eyes furrowed and his lips in a smirk, If it isn’t this hard, then it wouldn’t be worth it, he thought. He turned his head to look at his pants. The new pair of pants that were bought with Sene’s money were now in tatters.
Clenching his fist, he readied himself again for another attempt. As his body dropped down into a sprint stance, he rhythmed his breathing just like before when he learned about the skill tree.
Then, in a burst of strength, he jumped towards the 4th pillar.
However, this time, he didn’t try to put just enough strength needed to go to that point. Instead, he aimed to stop himself by creating an opposing force to stop his own momentum.
The first 3 pillars flashed before his eyes and upon arriving at the 4th pillar, he kicked the ground opposite of the direction he was going in. It created a gust, but not enough to create a noise.
Kazu, again, skidded along the floor with a failed attempt at neutralizing his movement. His body stopped a meter before hitting the 25 meter mark of the wall. The last attempt he made, his head was just a hairline away from the wall. Even though it was not what he was looking for, it was still progress. Even more so because it was a new method.
Again, Kazu placed himself back on the starting point. Repeating the sequence of actions from before, he was now a meter and a half away from the wall.
Going back again on the starting point, he repeatedly practiced the simple movement again and again for hours.
Sometimes he would overshoot and other times causing him to crash on the wall.
Sometimes he would trip.
“Dammit!” And other times, he would undershoot the amount of strength he needed.
But gradually with each repeat, his landing was inching its way to his desired landmark. The wind howled loneliness of not being able to talk in this dark place gave him a sense of determination. To go back to the light with his own strength drove his determination into insane levels.
—Kazu himself didn’t know whether his own sanity was chipping away with each minute that passed by from his training.
So after a few more hours after a countless attempts, Kazu was now able to land on the 4th pillar with perfect precision. The range between the 4th pillar and the wall became rubble because of those countless attempts.
Now, all he needed to do was aim for the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st pillar. So again, he repeated the grind. He knew that everything depended on movement. Without it, he wouldn’t be able to activate his current bread and butter skill: Rising Wind.
So, investing a couple of more hours into practicing movement, he set his goal to be able to land on each mark he placed.
This time, however, it took considerably less amount of time to get the amount of precision he wanted. If he had used around 4 hours to take the 4th pillar, it took him less than 3 hours to land on the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st pillars.
Once again to confirm himself of his own mastery, he rushed to the 4th pillar, then placed himself back to the starting line. Then to the 3rd, and then to the 2nd.
Kazu looked at the 1st pillar’s line. Through out all these dashes, he had used a consistent amount strength meaning he used the same amount of strength for 4th, 3rd, and 2nd. The trick he used was to stop based on timing instead of using just enough force to land on a certain spot.
The first pillar, in this case, was by far the hardest one to handle. It was too close and required very little room for error.
So, breathing in, he prepared for the his last dash until he can finally say that he’s mastered his own body. He exhaled, then his body flung into the air almost instantly reaching the 1st pillar.
In that moment, with near perfect execution, his momentum stopped right at the 1st pillar’s line.
Wanderer’s Thousand Winds Footwork intermediate skill partial unlock.
Wanderer’s Thousand Winds Footwork (passive) Lv. Max
Description: Sudden changes in body composition will now instantly adapt to current muscle memory.
2 Disabled effects hidden.
With this, Kazu gave a heartfelt smile at the effort he put in. Wiping off his sweat, he read the dialogue that just popped up. His eyes furrowed as he read the description. The wording wasn’t specific much like the other mastery passives he discovered.
Trying out what the description said, he jumped up as he normally would just before the sudden change in his body. Much to his surprise, the jump didn’t go very high. He reached a normal height as he didn’t put any strength or effort into the jump. It was the same amount that he was able to jump just before he was put into this dungeon by Adraine.
Kazu sighed in defeat asking, Then what have I been doing up until now…
Nevertheless, he tried jumping once more just to touch the ceiling above which was 20 meters high.
He put just enough strength into his legs and jumped up while looking at the ceiling. Just before his head reached the ceiling, his momentum slowed down and his head touched the ceiling just by a hairline.
Yet, it wasn’t time to be rejoicing. A sense of weightlessness dawned on him.
The feeling of the mid stop before the fall when one jumps up. And when his body stopped in mid air, he was left with a distance of 20 meters between him and the floor.
Even though he won’t take that much hp damage, the impact from the floor will still hurt him as much as it does normally.
“Wait… no no no noo!”
Panicking in his mind, he grabbed the rusted sword on his waist and swung around it around mid air with no clue as to what to do. His face twisted into an ugly knot as he watched the floor come closer.
After figuring out panicking won’t help him from the hurt, his eyes turned to the pillar just beside him and back to his sword.
Kazu swung his sword at the pillar, impaling it to slow down his descent. Small rocks flew down his face as the sword skidded vertically through the pillar, but it was still much better than receiving the pain from the impact with the floor.
Just before the floor, his body came to a complete halt from the fall. Kazu gave our a big sigh of relief. A smile formed on his face right after the sigh. The skill he received was much more remarkable than he thought.
It allowed him to be able to exert the exact amount of force he needed to arrive at the destination. Of course, only if it was within his capacity. Although right now, he didn’t know how far he can dash to or how high he can jump.
Shrugging off his excitement, he stepped back on the starting point on behind the 1st pillar. Looking at each pillars from 1st to 4th, he wanted to test whether he can apply his precision to Rising Wind.
Again, he rhythmed his breathing and dashed off to start the first sequence of the skill. Upon reaching the desired distance in the blink of an eye, the second sequence initiated through muscle memory.
Stomping his foot on the ground to stop all the momentum and transferring it to the tip of the blade slashing upwards from the ground, the sword reached its peak height creating a sharp noise caused by the wind hurling upwards in razor sharp like forms.
Kazu could see the formless sharp shapes of the wind gusting upwards in a violent gale. If there was ever an object in front of him, he would be sure that whatever it was would be minced.
This was the Rising Wind skill. And now that he got a boost in strength, the wind was more violent than before. Even he, himself, was scared of it.
The grind continued. Stepping back to the starting spot, the aim this time was the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st pillars. Both 3rd and 2nd pillars were easy to reach. Although it took 4 attempts to clear the 2nd pillar. The first pillar being the closest one would be the hardest one. And in the end, clearing the 1st pillar took more than 10 attempts.
Finally satisfied with his control, Kazu decided to lay down his back on one of the pillars. He was far away from the front entrance of the mini hall. The front entrance door was where he came from and should be where Euopth would be.
Should the monster ever come, there was a back door a few steps away from where Kazu sat at. It was a different door that led to a different part of the labyrinth, but he still decided that it was his escape route.
Just as he was about to rest, few steps from the front door resonated along the hallways. This information was brought to Kazu’s attention with no lag.
As a result of the imminent danger, he hid behind the pillar and waited for the monsters. His eyes narrowed as the door opened with a creaking sound.
A total of 3 zombies with tattered clothes dragged in their feet into the mini hall.
<< Scan >>
|Name||Zombie Lv. 18||Type||Undead|
|Attack Rating||200-200||Attack||Poison, Bite|
|Description: Due to its undead nature, it has no vital points and have limitless stamina.|
The zombies eyes turned itself towards where Kazu was.
“What?!” Kazu gasped. He turned on stealth just before scanning the zombie so it had no way of detecting it.
Looking at the zombie, Kazu noticed that it had no eye sockets. Stealth had no meaning to it in the first place. From his information about zombie movies, some zombies don’t even use their sight. Instead, they used smell. This would be the most probable reason for the situation right now. In addition to that, zombies are slow-
The zombie ran at Kazu like a mad man. Its inaudible grunts became more audible as it got closer to him with the pace it ran at. The slight shock of its running posture caused a twisted frown on Kazu’s face.
Seeing the zombies run at him, those many forced zombie movie dates with Aiko memories resurfaced in his mind. It was the trauma of the past!
Shaking off his head from the sudden shock of the past, he started running around the mini-hall. Even though the zombies were running, their speed was nowhere near Kazu. Yet his face right now showed a face of a man that has just seen a ghost. In this case, a zombie.
He ran laps around the mini hall as the zombies chased after him. A total amount of 10 laps around the hall before Kazu became fed up of running away. His eyes set itself on the zombie’s neck. By decapitating its head, it would, without a doubt, drop dead.
<< Assassinate >>
His body swerved through the 2 front zombies as his hands automatically moved through its set instructions based on the assassinate command. In one sweep of his rusted sword, the 3rd zombie’s head flew a few meters away.
However, the 3 zombies still ran at him, now with one headless zombie. It didn’t make sense, Kazu thought. In all of the zombie movies he had been forced to watch, all the zombies died by destroying or decapitating the head.
“You’re supposed to be dead!!” Kazu shouted while running quick on his feet. Tears ran down his eyes in a comical fashion with no clue as to what to do.
Running a few more laps around the mini hall, he realized that these zombies had endless stamina. If anything, the one to be exhausted will be him, he thought.
Figuring that out, his eyes fixated itself on the pillar. The pillar had been cut in half horizontal wise. Specifically, it was the first pillar.
As soon as he reached the first pillar, he jumped up to rest on the flat surface of the cut pillar. The ragged breathing he huffed soon enough came to a halt, yet his heart still beated at a heightened rate.
It was, of course, because of the frightening look of the zombies. The ghouls that killed the ogre was much less scarier looking than the zombies. At least, when it wasn’t fighting.
Looking down at the zombies, the thought of being eaten alive by these flesh eating humanoids crept in goosebumps all over Kazu’s arm. It was long ingrained in his body that these zombies are truly the most terrifying monsters of this dungeons no matter what anyone says. It was Kazu’s trauma that led to this illogical bias.
His head snapped back away from the zombies. Each of their jumps caused an unnerving sound causing even more unease in Kazu’s heart.
Clenching his sword and gritting his teeth, his hands gripped his chest to calm down his heart. He ironed his resolve and turned his head back to the zombies. The holes in their skin, rotting skin and face, purple colour, and the disgusting stench made Kazu’s eyes watery. Not to mention, the headless zombie had maggots protruding out of its neck.
Standing up on top of the flat part of the pillar, he brandished his sword. Its rust mark made it seem unreliable and unremarkable. But to Kazu, this sword felt special, yet he couldn’t point his finger on why. Left with no choice, he only had one range attack: Forward Gale.
<< Forward Gale >>
The skill successfully executed and a loud boom forced itself to echo through the hallways at a piercing decibel. It was like the sonic boom of a jet passing through with a low altitude. The gusts, no, it couldn’t be called gusts anymore, it was as if a storm manifested itself in a small space in front of Kazu.
The storm hurled itself towards the 3 zombies. In a blink of an eye, rotting flesh scattered everywhere. Minced meat stuck to the walls, the floor, and the pillar Kazu sat at. A bit of shiny purple dust stuck to the grounded meat that scattered everywhere.
In that instant, all 3 zombies died.
[[ 1200 xp gained ]]
A strict silence fell on the whole dungeon. The whispers, the clanging metal chains, the screams, and the howling wind all came to a halt. Time had stopped in that instance.
Suddenly, a scream reached Kazu’s ear. The familiar scream came from Euopth from the front door.
Even the whispers in his ears grew louder. The chains clanging against each other became more violent and the screams became more painful. Last but not least, the howling wind’s tone became deeper and more daunting than before.
Loud noises came from the front door. The sounds of both foot steps, metal chains, and haunting grunts. Monsters ran at the direction of the mini hall Kazu sat. Each of the monster’s steps permeated anxiousness. Even from a far, the needle like bloodlusts still reached his very being.
Putting strength into his feet, Kazu rushed towards the back door. After he ran out the door, he heard loud crashes from the mini hall he just left.
Now running opposite of the direction Euopth was at, he felt a surge of monsters marching towards the mini hall in front of him. Even from that direction, monsters ran at the direction of the hall he used for training.
He swerved through the hallways taking random turns on the intersections. Doors upon doors passed by his eyes while trying to evade the onslaught of monsters coming at him from a far.
With each sound the monsters made from a far, he could see their outlines through the walls and estimate just how far they are. By this alone, he avoided the sight of the monsters by a hairline.
Then, a room with an opened door crossed his sight. In a swift fluid movement, he entered the space. It was a small room, a broom closet to be more exact. Unidentifiable materials scattered the shelves that looked to be cleaning materials. Some brooms rested on the shelves, but they were hollowed up from the unkempt condition of the dungeon.
“Die… Die..! Die!!!!!”
The whispers in his ears became screams. Pain from down his spine crept up onto the back of his head. The legs that were supporting him collapsed onto its knees crashing against the floor. His expression contorted into an ugly face as he hugged his head from the massive headache.
—It was insanity creeping up into him. The dungeon’s ambient noises chipped away at his sanity little by little.
Cold sweats dropped down his cheeks and his heart rate climbed up to over 180 bpm. The shivering of his body became more violent as every second passed by.
Images and memories flashed before Kazu’s eyes. His body began to feel light until he was suspended on the air.
A familiar door appeared in front of him. The lonely yet warm house he loved appeared around him. He was inside putting on his shoes as he took the traditional lunch box on the foyer’s table.
Upon opening the door, a boy named Akira stood in front of the door.
“Oy Kazu. Let’s go.” Akira grunted.
“U..un…” Kazu replied.
His dirty blond hair reflected the sunlight giving off the illusion of gold. It was an unnatural hair colour in Japan, but no one noticed his foreign characteristics. Everyone took offense to his blond hair marking him as a delinquent. However, Kazu saw through the facade. The intimidating surface was crisp, but the inside was as soft as a cloud.
—Stereotyping caused this.
The scene changed. He was now in a hospital with a girl in uniform crying on the chair beside the hospital bed. Her name was Hiragi. Her mother laid on the bed with extensive life support. Light passed through the window creating rays of serene light.
“Kazu-kun… thank you…”
Hiragi had a smile on her face as she cried beside her mother. Her hand held onto her mother’s hand, caressing it ever so softly. They were not tears of sadness; they were tears of happiness. The mother had a successful kidney surgery that was long overdue.
Due to their poor financial standings, the hospital kept on delaying their surgery. That was when Kazu was visited by the cancer wish foundation after being condemned to die in a year. He used his wish to force the hospital to operate on Hiragi’s mother.
Still, the hospital resisted on practicing the surgery on the poor family’s mother. This caused a public outcry on the general populace against the hospital. A month later, the hospital gave in and prepared the arrangements to the family.
—Corruption caused this.
Again, the scene changed. A rhythm of droplets dropped on the basin of the drain in the kitchen. The dust in the air formed ray of lights against the narrow space along the curtain. Each sofa pillow was kept in a neat uniform and there were no traces of litter on the coffee table.
Step, step, step.
A girl with big glasses came down the stairs staring with a blank face at Kazu.
“Tomoe-kun?” She tilted her head. “We’ll be late...”
She put on her shoes and opened the door as Kazu followed her. Her name was Mako. Because of her glasses and gloomy looking nature, everyone ignored her. This behaviour of her classmates led her to be unable to become friends with anyone leading to her shut in lifestyle.
In an accidental meeting in the library, she was the one that showed Kazu how interesting the world of books was. She did not only showed him books, she showed him various narrative mediums such as mangas, film, games, art, and even her own web novel.
In return, Kazu helped introduce her to people in the class. Through this, she gradually became more sociable until she was able to make friends on her own.
—Prejudice caused this.
In front of his house again, the whole homeroom class appeared. Akira lead in front. His eyes were blank, covered in darkness. No hint of emotional expression could be seen on his face.
It wasn’t only Akira. Everyone had the same expression. Blank, dark, cold, devoid of any emotion.
“Admit to yourself.” A voice came from above. “You did all of your deeds for personal fulfillment of your pitiful remaining life.”
“What… no!” Kazu shouted. “I did it for them!”
“Of course you did. Hehehe.” The cold laugh from the mysterious voice sent out chills. “Then, of course, you didn’t think of using Akira as a shield against real delinquents?”
“Huh?” Kazu shook his head.
“What about the hospital.” A fiendish large smile on the sky formed. “You already knew that it would cause the hospital’s reputation to take damage. Wasn’t that just your shallow revenge?”
“No!” Kazu waved his hands around in denial. “That was to save a life!”
“Heh, sure it was.” The sinister voice continued. “And that girl Mako. You only helped her because it was fun to have someone more pitiful than you.”
“Stop!” Kazu cried. “Those are… lies!”
The scenery changed back to the broom closet of the dungeon. Whispers from all directions screamed of death. At this point, death didn’t sound like a bad idea, Kazu thought.
—Death, a method to release all the burdens of his current life. A release of all the pent up pain, stress, and worries.
Even with the amount of pain Kazu was in, his expression contorted face softened to the idea of death. The clenched fist softened as if giving up on life as it was.
“Haa…” A deep exhale escaped his breath.
Suddenly, a warm sensation permeated from his the rusted sword on his waist. Light originating from the sword, little by little, swirled around Kazu. It was a warm yellow with traces of purple enveloping his surroundings as if to protect him.
“Kazu…” A sweet voice whispered in his ear. The voice drained out all the other sounds, noises, and whispers that drained him of his sanity.
Upon opening his eyes on the ground, he saw the feet of the ghost figure. Its skin was smooth, glowing a dim warm yellow light in the darkness.
Little by little, the pain faded from his body. The whispers of death no longer could be heard nor the damning chill that seemed to attack him.
Before long, Kazu could feel his sanity going back to normal and the pain completely disappeared. The ghost in front of him also disappeared before he could look up to see her face. However, the warmth coming from the sword persisted to protect him.
He held up the sword with a curious gaze. The appearance of the sword changed. Rust on the sword were no longer there and it's metallic silver shined a dim yellow. Its rhythmic heart beat felt stronger than before. It was truly a mysterious sword.
<< Scan >>
|Name||Melcross||Type||Long Sword (?)|
|Description: A sword infused with the soul of a higher being.|
“...Melcross?” Kazu whispered.
The heartbeat of the sword grew faster as he whispered its name. It was a reaction when people first meet and they say each other’s name. Because of this, Kazu realized the sentient nature of the sword. The durability also changed. It can’t break? Kazu asked himself.
A surge of power flowed through Kazu’s veins after the dialogue popped up.
“Wait… so I didn’t have it equipped before?”
Confusion ran through his face. The dialogue meant that the other he wielded before wasn’t recognized as equipped by the system his ability operated on.
He let out a deep sigh, smiling, with his gaze still on the sword.
Next Chapter >>
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