Randidly was a bit troubled by Ezekiel’s explanation of the goings on in Zone 1, but not too much. Based on what he said, Randidly would require Citizenship in order to proceed into any place with powerful people, and gaining that was not easy, not without getting a Class from one of the approved villages. That made Randidly wonder whether there were “unapproved” Villages out there in Zone 1, but he figured that was an ancillary discussion.
Still, Randidly had never minded being anonymous before. He would just need to find a way to make enough of a splash to be chosen as a citizen, but not enough that the Ghost that ran everything was interested in him.
It would be a hard thing to balance, Randidly reflected.
The other reason that the conversation with his father became… strained was that neither of them really knew what to say to the other. FOr so long, they had barely talked. The only contact they had was generally forced, or coincidental. It seemed both of them were extremely reassured when Randidly had turned 18 and had been old enough that Ezekiel didn’t need to be a constant part of his life.
Not that he had prior, anyway.
There was a heady relief that they both shared, upon seeing each other at a place where neither had expected, but as that faded away, the emotion they now shared was uncertainty.
What were they to one another? How should they behave?
Once Hank had begrudgingly checked Katie, and discovered that he was, in fact, a woman, he came back over to Randidly and Ezekiel. For a split second, Randidly was worried that the other man had somehow sensed what he was doing, and knew that Randidly was the cause of this, but that wasn’t the case; Hank had come over for Ezekiel.
“Did you know?” Hank demanded, his eyes bright.
Ezekiel hesitated, then said “…yes, but it is not how you think. My Class gives me some… insight into the location of people. I had no such sense of humanity from her.”
After giving Ezekiel a long look, Hank departed, muttering something about hunting. Dinesh offered to accompany him but was denied. The woman named Laurel came over and thanked Dinesh, but assured him that Hank was not the type to get angry and throw himself in harm’s way. If anything, he would hole up somewhere and train furiously to work off his energy, and our best bet was to leave him to it.
IT was Affina that remembered Randidly’s previous statement. “…Randidly, correct? You said you brewed potions?”
“Oh, yea,” Randidly said, his expression brightening. The discussion with Ezekiel had stalled out again, because both men had secrets, and neither had any idea what to ask that wouldn’t touch on those secrets. “Follow me.”
Mostly out of curiosity, the group from Zone 1 followed him. Everyone who was a part of Randidly’s Squad left them to it, focused on their own training.
Around the side of the thorn cottage, there was a strange little cart that Randidly led the group to. If he was being honest, he was quite proud of himself, because creating the cart was no easy feat. But when he wasn’t fighting, he needed something to fill his time that wasn’t just spamming a spell over and over again. SO he had used his PLant Dominance to control wood in unique ways, eventually learning to create a kind of furniture with it.
It was, however, a balancing act, because Randidly could only control the plant while it was alive, and it was only truly useful once it had died. If it died prior to him finishing, there would be left an incomplete product. If it died after, there was a high chance that the plant would absorb some of Randidly’s ambient energy and produce strange growths. Some of the growths were useful and turned into peculiar blooms filled with energy. These Randidly harvested. Most were just wart looking bumps on the surface of his furniture.
This took him a week, but it was a flawless mahogany cart, lacquered and polished. It was only so large that it had to be pulled around by hand, like one of those tiny kiosks that sometimes had at malls, but it was more than enough to hold Randidly’s new potions.
“Voila,” Randidly said, feeling very self-conscious. There were 12 shelves, each with about 10 tiny bottles on them. Picking up the Strength Elixir, he handed it to Ezekiel.
Ezekiel’s eyes immediately widened. “This…!”
“They take quite a bit of work to make, as they require the blood of a powerful monster I found,” Randidly said, not really willing to admit that it was his own blood that made the effects so spectacular. “I expect as I acquire more of that blood, I can refine the process, and make something even more impressive.”
Elixir of Strength (Un): 100% Success Rate. Consumption permanently increases Strength by 10. Every Time one is consumed, the success rate of the next consumption is cut in half.
“Amazing…” Affina breathed, her fingers tracing the tiny bottles. Apparently, lack of sight didn’t prevent her from being able to sense the System’s messages. Not unsurprising perhaps, but curious. How would it communicate with her?
“How much are you charging for them?” Laurel asked, eyeing both the Intelligence and Wisdom bottles. The fact that the Elixir basically guaranteed that you would gain 10 stats instantly was impressive enough, but even after that, there were a lot of people who would want enough to try for the 50, 25, and 12.5 percent chances to gain up to 40 free stats. If such an elixir were infinitely available, no doubt people would continue to attempt it, gaining power without limit.
But of course, creating the Ezliirs wasn’t easy. Besides his own Blood, Randidly had to grind up and Refine the hearts of monsters above Level 55, and the success rate of the Ezilir was still pretty low unless the monster was above 60. Besides that, it was a long process that required careful observation. It was difficult to practice any other Skills while the potions were being made, which was why he only made about 100 or so in the past 6 months.
Of course, most of that work was done when he was bored, experimenting with the effect of his own blood. But still, the result was very satisfying. In a world without the Creature, maybe Randidly would just stay somewhere and research different potion recipes.
The world, however, was not so kind as that.
“Well… honestly it’s hard to say,” Randidly said slowly. “I’ve only tried one, the Control one, and it worked perfectly. I suspect the rest are the same. But the problem is, I don’t think there are any real prices for stuff like these. Money… means very little in the post-System World. More than money, I’m looking to batter for precious treasures, or the bodies of monsters over the Level 55, which are most of the ingredients for the Elixirs.”
Affina nodded and promptly curtsied. “Then I will be off. I would not like to miss this chance to improve myself.”
“Let me come with you,” Ezekiel said, his gaze passionate. He gave Randidly a long glance. But ultimately he said nothing and departed with Affina to wander in the borderlands.
With most of the Zone 1-ers gone or otherwise occupied, Randidly went back over to his own dwelling, which was over the rocky hill, in an area that he hadn’t cleared to be safe. But that mattered little, as he demonstrated when a rock crab leaped out at him.
Within half a second, dozens of roots and vines shot upward, twining around the monster’s limbs and binding it. Effortlessly, Randidly put a dozen Incinerating Bolts through it, and it collapsed in a heap.
Randidly wrinkled his nose. Level 53, not worth his time at all for harvesting ingredients. For those he didn’t use himself, he dismantled and packed up, giving the metallic bits to Tykes and keeping the rest in a ring he vaguely planned to take back to Donnyton to sell. By this point, the ring was filled to bursting, and Randidly was forced to start removing weaker monsters so there was more room. He was almost helpless before the sheer volume of monsters that he had killed in the past 6 months, and yet more were constantly appearing in front of him.
The 5-minute walk from the spot of his first kill to his little hut involved killing seven more monsters, one that was Lvl 61. This 6 legged goat was, in fact, a pretty good piece of material, and Randidly happily cut out its heart and stored its body away.
Randidly fervently believed that the ambient energy of the uncontrolled Fate Crystals was the cause of all fo the spawns in the borderlands, even if he didn’t have any proof. Which was why he had exhausted himself here, trying to capture a Fate Cyrstal as quickly as possible. But even with his Skills, it was just beyond him. And that was the surface Level. The Level 70 Ogre undoubtedly had hidden Skills that it would release if it was truly threatened.
And it was not like he was worried about anyone else beating him to it, so…