Congratulations! You have completed the Aether Philanthropist Path! Your path begins to vere through the paths of others, and some of those you cross paths with are vastly improved by your touch. Your familiarity and experience grows in the manipulation of Aether. Your understanding of Aether greatly increased. You have learned the skill “Aether Connection (A) Lvl 1”.
Randidly breathed slowly, not really sure what to make of this. Not only the result, but also the rarity…So he opened up the skill explanation for the skill.
Aether Connection: Create a connection of Aether with another being. As the creator of the connection, you will have more control over the amount and quality of the Aether sent. Effectiveness of the connection will depend on the willingness of the recipient, and the synchronicity between two individuals. Individuals can reject the connection. Efficacy of connection and possible size of the connection improves with skill level.
Randidly’s face was solemn, because based on what he understood, his Aether Spring was a hobbled Aether Crossroads, that had no ways of making connections with others, like the Aether Spring that a village spirit was given. On the other hand, it didn’t have a formal connection to the System, so he didn’t need to accept meaning that flowed downwards from it.
But this skill… basically eliminated that weakness, by giving him a System approved way to establish an Aether connection. There would likely be some drawbacks, depending on his skill level, but…
It was a skill that made him into an Aether Crossroads, legitimately.
Is this then, what the creature, intended…? Because it was hard to imagine that the Being who created the System would have done it, in order to effectuate his search. Randidly would assume that other full power Aether Crossroads running around would just make things more difficult.
But it was too far beyond his level to even speculate. Instead, Randidly turned back to his possible paths. All of the new ones looked interesting. Experimenter was slightly ambiguous, but Tireless, based on his recent actions, seemed pretty clear. But the former would lead to a longer series of paths, which Randidly wasn’t sure he wanted to commit to.
Randidly had a growing interest in finishing off the Initiate of Ash path, but he decided to wait on that. Similarly, The Path of Control and Agony I paths were a little big of a commitment. As he wouldn’t be able to use his mana for this second part of the preliminary, it would be better for him to double down on his Endurance, and finish the Tireless path in one fell swoop.
After that, Randidly thought he would probably begin on the Initiate of Ash path, but he might change his mind depending on what happened. Randidly put points into the Tireless path. But the more he put into it, the more his face fell. He did receive 1 End every 10 PP, but that wasn’t what he was waiting for. It was only on the 48th PP that the event he waited on finally occurred.
Congratulations! Your Soul Skill has released the Blessing of Rain upon you. Wisdom +3, Focus +6. Concentration permanently increases by 1%. Mana Regeneration increases by 15. +3 Free stats.
Randidly released a breath that he had been holding. It did take much, much longer than it had previously, fully 50 PP, but overall the reward grew as well. Not linearly, a little less than that, but it was still a powerful boost. Especially the jump in Mana Regeneration. As for the 3 Stats, they went into Strength. Perhaps Randidly hadn’t lost his bitterness about the harshness of the previous portion of the preliminary after all.
After nodding in satisfaction, Randidly put the last two points into the Tireless Path, completing it.
Congratulations! You have completed the Tireless Path! The path is long, but you stoically continue. Obstacles become par for the course. There is no hesitation in your movements. As your base level rises to this new plateau of difficulty, you sense your very body changing. This is not yet your limit. Vitality, Reaction, and Willpower +5. You have learned the skill “Stalemate Breaker Lvl 1”.
Stalemate Breaker: Must first clash against an enemy and be somewhat equal in strength. Increase your consumption of Stamina by 10x for one second to increase your physical output by 1%. Effect on output increases with Skill Level.
It was truly a powerful skill, but the cost and the small bonus made it extremely unattractive now. He would effectively exhaust himself, using the skill. Increasing the stamina consumption by a factor of 10 was ridiculously debilitative. But Randidly supposed that was part of the point. It wasn’t designed for every situation, but as a skill that could be used only to break a stalemate. And decisively, at that.
If, however, he didn’t finish the fight in that time, even his monstrous recovery probably wouldn’t be enough to make back up the difference in Stamina. And the fact that the active time was only a second…?
Well, if he simply pushed forward during that time, it wouldn’t expend too much mana…
Basically, it was a skill that was not useful currently, when the output was only a 1% increase. Raising the skill to 20% would make it much more interesting. Then 50, or even 100, it would suddenly become a monstrously powerful skill. Which was why, Randidly supposed, that the cost increase was so high. Because it was a skill that could be improved almost endlessly.
Already exhausted by the type of training that would be required to increase that skill, Randidly shook his head. Then he opened his Paths back up and put the remaining 30 points into Initiate of Ash. Unfortunately, there were no 10 point bonuses, so his 30 PP sank into the Path without any noticeable change. And also still a bit less than 20 short of when he would get another bonus from his Soul Skill.
Randidly walked to the window. It was almost dawn, and he would have some time after that to return to the testing arena. He briefly considered studying Engraving some more, but although the Belt would make that much easier, Randidly wasn’t really in the mood.
So he left his room and walked upstairs towards the training area. Unsurprisingly, there were people in this world that were there at dawn, seeking perfection in the spear. A large man wielding a “spear” that looked to Randidly to be more similar to a lamp post than a weapon, and there was also the aged instructor and his youthful charges that Randidly had seen previously.
Ignoring them, Randidly removed his large obsidian spear from his inventory and walked over to a corner. There was a lot that Randidly had gained from the previous night, in terms of skills and knowledge. Perhaps there would be another time when he stopped and tried to categorize it all, but for now, he was more concerned with just moving.
He performed the different movements given to him by the Turtle man long ago, that became the foundation of the Golden Roots of Yggdrasil. Randidly moved through his different practice forms for the Spear Phantom Style. His movements became quicker and quicker, more violent and fierce, the longer he practiced.
There was still a spark in his chest remaining from the Challenge of Tarnak, the feeling of being stifled and forced to sit still and endure. But that spark quickly fell on the tinder of all of Randidly’s frustrations and suspicions in regards to the creature. Now, he was abandoned with far more questions than he had begun with. How much was true? How much was false? How much of this did the creature plan….?
As Randidly’s speed increased, he didn’t notice that the large man had noticed him, and had ceased in his own training to stare at him. The old man with his children were staring slack jawed. All that Randidly could sense was his own anger, and increasingly, the pumping power of Aether flowing through his body.
It was definitely far more active now than it had ever been in the past. The flows out to his four blessed individuals increased the speed that it could be moved, and even more than that, it seemed far more responsive to his will.
So Randidly began to throw out Phantom Onslaughts, absolutely pouring himself into the furious barrage of blows. Again and again he threw more and more and more, the air around him humming with the swift passage of his large spear in such a short amount of time. There was no target, just an outlet to his frustrations.
Time stretched on, and the disbelief in the large man’s eyes grew more profound, as this spear user with the obsidian spear in front of him seemed to have limitless stamina and willpower. The large man’s hands tightened around his own weapon and he turned away, his shoulders squared. Truly, that was the path of a spear user, and he didn’t have time to gawk like this.
The old man and the kids didn’t have the same competitive instincts, and continued to stare, mesmerized by the movements. It was only after 7 or so minutes of that that Randidly finally ran out of Stamina, and was forced to stop, lowering his shoulders, his chest heaving.
In a way, he felt better, but in another way, he didn’t. It was so much effort for nothing.
‘Well, not nothing…’ Randidly thought, noticing he had gained 2 Skill Levels in Phantom Onslaught, and 1 in Secondwind. But it wasn’t the feedback that Randidly had wanted to receive. He wanted an answer, a satisfying direction. He wanted…
“Hmph, so you have time to be lazy, do you disciple? I suppose you are satisfied that you survived through the first round of the preliminaries, eh?”
Randidly slowly straightened and turned. Standing there, hands on his hips was Shal. And judging by his expression, he had been watching him for quite some time, and wasn’t very impressed by what he had seen.
Randidly’s mouth twitched, but he said nothing in response, but simply lowered his spear in Shal’s direction, aiming the huge obsidian weapon towards Shal’s heart. A small smile flickered to life on Shal’s lips.
“Perhaps you are learning, after all. Come.”