[Arc 3] Chapter 17: To Encounter a [Hero]
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Ahh~, today's lovely~. Prolly not for the slaves being sold today.

I'm sitting in my room in the hotel and was reading one of the books I had bought yesterday at the "Book & Grimoire" auction. It's a work that tells about Necromancy and Alchemy, and the connection between the two fields.

It's one of the many books written by the Necromancer "Jill Jimson", a famous guy in the field of necromancy, including the "Undead: Walking corpses or those who refuse to die?", "Necro Arts: the battle style of the Necromancer", "Flesh Golem: A Zombie or a mechanical creature?", and the most interesting "Dracolich: The worst of Dragons". The one I'm reading now is called "Alchemy: The root of necromancy". You could guess the author just by the naming sense of the titles.

Yesterday's auction was simply part of Blot's plan to lower people's impression of Filyn by buying several unpopular books, but I may have focused too heavily on the necromancer-genre. Sorry for that, but you can't stop the thirst for knowledge!! 

I also bought some books for the others, like cooking books for Revi and story-books about legendary swords for Mira and Flint. One copy each. Since the point of having "Filyn" buy stuff at the auction was to fool everyone to think she's lacking the brains for a decent purchase, and that she's not aiming to increase her war power, grimoires and other useful stuff were off-limits. Tch...

Let's stop thinking about what I could have gotten and rather focus on the book I did get to buy. Hmm, so that's how you can improve the Undead Servants. They never had levels, so I was unsure how I could power them up...

I made some space on the floor and unraveled a large rug I had taken outta my storage. A large magic circle was written on the rug, with three smaller circles on the outer ring of the main circle. It's an Alchemy Circle, one of the most basic items an Alchemist needs. Well, that's not completely true, as there's a beginner-version that's only got two outer circles.

Normally, you place a single item in at least two of the outer circles, match the aether-waves that are generated from the items, and voila! A new item appeared outta nowhere in the circle in the middle to replace the ones in the outer circle that had disappeared~. 

Well, that's Alchemy in a nutshell. It's not that easy to synchronize the aether-waves, as every single item has its own wave-pattern, making each attempt different from the last, even if you're making the same item outta the same materials as you did before.

Theoretically, anyone can perform Alchemy, but they won't be able to "feel" the aether-waves unless they have the [Alchemy] skill, or something similar. My old [Magic Sight] wouldn't work for that, so you would need something even rarer if you want to skip [Alchemy]. Not that I recommend it, as the skill also acts as a proficiency-boost in the same manner as [Swordsmanship].

Then there's the "Circle"-skills that the Alchemist class provides. They allow you to instinctively know what kinda item you can create from the combination of items and also act as a proficiency-boost for the type of Alchemy they represent.

The [Synthesis Circle] skill allows you to merge items into a new one, as described above. [Conversion Circle], on the other hand, takes a single item and splits it into its components, or lesser variants of itself.

For example, if I Converted an arrow, I would get a twig, a rock, and probably a feather as well. If I did it on a boulder, it would turn into many smaller rocks. But since you have to synchro the aether-waves every time, it's not recommended to Synthesise and Convert the item again and again, as Alchemy can fail and destroy the items used.

As for the [Refinement Circle] and [Mana Circle] skills, they are something akin to supplements for the first Circle-skills, with Refinement allowing you to improve the rank of the created item (up to C as usual), and Mana lets you improve the durability (to a certain amount). When using these circles, you have to synchro more aether-waves, making it feel like playing several different games on the same screen when alchemizing. Of course, I've got [Parallel Mind] to help me, so that's not a big deal. Both of these circle-skills even improve the undead I can create, as Necromancy originates from the usage of Alchemy.

This time, however, I'm not adding items to the outer circles. Instead, I'm using pure magic power as components, something made possible thanks to [Demon's Magic Operation]. The old one would have worked as well though.

After carefully stabilizing the aether-waves for a while, a small pebble appeared in the middle circle. A quick look with Identification revealed it's a Magic Crystal. Similar to the Magic Stones that C-rank monsters may have. In fact, they're almost the same thing, in the sense that they're both solidified magic power. The difference is that the Stones are "polluted" with the characteristics of the creature, while the Crystal is made without any of that, even if the magic power was provided by me just now.

Magic Crystals can be used to fuel Magitech and similar items, however, since you can simply apply mana directly to it without the need of going the long way producing Crystals. However, they have their own uses.

I created a Skeleton and fed him the small Crystal. The Crystal didn't slip through his bones and was absorbed into the body of the Skeleton. Then, as I re-Identified the Skeleton, I could see that some of its stats had increased.

This is not a temporary effect either. The skill, [Undead Servant], allows me to produce Servants up to the skill's level, which can then "pilot" the undead bodies I create. The gain here is that they'll never lose the experience they gain between each body.

However, as the Servant defeats a monster, some of the EXP will be given to the Servant in the form of a status-boost. If the Servant is the "driver" and the undead body is the "vehicle", then the status-boost can be seen as "fuel" to make the most outta the "vehicle". Best of all, the "driver", meaning the Servant, can take the "fuel" with them as they change their "vehicle". Of course, if the "vehicle" gets destroyed, even if the Servant is safe due to its nature as part of the skill, the "fuel" will be lost alongside the "vehicle".

These Crystals, however, will allow me to compensate if the Servants ever loses, and I can boost "newborn" Servants with them as well. The problem is that the quality of the Crystals may limit how many times I can use them. Low-quality Crystals can only be used until the Servant has reached a certain amount of strength, before stopping to work completely. There's also the fact that the undead body limits the Servant, no matter the EXP they've got stored. 

Still, now I don't need to worry about having to train weaklings anew if they're ever killed in action. And if I can improve my abilities as an Alchemist, so will the quality of the Crystals I can make! Too bad only pure Crystals can be used and not Stones from monsters...

It seems like the author of these books knows his stuff. Not bad, Jill Jimson. You've got yourself a new fan. With that done, maybe I should go out and enjoy the city~.

---

There we go~. Lots of high-quality cloth purchased~.

If you're in a city famous for its cloth, you gotta buy some~. I've even gotten some new clothes, as my old "working outfit" has gotten more than a little worn out. It's just some regular hoodies and short pants, but their quality is to kill for~. Still gotta make some new combat clothes later.

I went into several other shops and got some more good deals outta it. For some reason, people looked at me with strange eyes. Wonder why? I met with the Desert Elves we met before entering the city, and after that, people seemed more relaxed around me. Why did they ask for what I did the last few days?

Obviously, I didn't say I was on the auction, but that I kept myself in my room in the hotel to escape the sun. After people got a look on my face and skin, they simply nodded along. I even got a discount! Lucky!

I kept on walking through the city streets, humming a song while doing so, when-

"Child, you are being led astray."

Some old geezer spoke up to me. Is it alright to call him a geezer? He's old, that's for sure, so old that he's got a grey beard that's gathered on his lap as he sat leaning next to the wall. He's only got a damn old and dirty robe over him, and the limbs sticking out from it tells me he's human, old enough to be in his last days, and thin enough to make me think he's never gotten a decent piece of food in his life. Is he a beggar? Seems like it.

"Child, do you know why you're here?"

Stop with the "child" already!! Though, technically, I could be considered such from this guy's view...

Why am I here?

I felt good over succeeding the first necromancy-related experiment that was described in the book, so I went out to town to celebrate... something's wrong already here. When did I get social enough to consider "going out to town" as something equal to celebrating? And I only bought some new clothes, something I was planning on doing during the fifth day when most of the town's watching the clothing auction that doubles as a fashion show. Even Filyn wants to attend directly that day...

Okay, now I'm seriously starting to doubt my own actions. There's no need for me to go outside at all. Especially right after I vowed to myself to enjoy my vacation in laziness and only read my books when I had free time. 

I looked at my surroundings and noticed another strange fact I had overlooked for a while: there are no townspeople around me. I did walk through a few back-alleys, but I'm currently in a large, open street. Even so, there's no one here except for me and the old beggar...?

I can't "perceive" the beggar. I can see and hear him clearly, but my Perception Skills aren't registering his existence. Even [Empyrean Eyes], my undoubtedly greatest Perception Skill, is coming up negative on him. Identification is obviously not working either. What is this guy?

"Your eyes are no louder clouded. Good. Those that walk in the shadows should not be consumed by them."

The beggar gave a rough laugh and... complimented me? Now that I think of it, his voice is too strong for someone with such a frail-looking body. 

Thinking of him as a human would be a fatal mistake. Better keep my guard up-

"Worry not, child. I am not your opponent today. However, what is coming for your neck could be an even worse match than what this frail body can offer."

Then, he's saying he's still a threat despite looking like that? And from the sound of it, this is not his real body.

"On guard. The enemy is closing in."

I flinched and turned around as I heard someone stepping on some gravel. No one's here... they must be in the back-alleys connected to this street. 

I look forward to meeting you again, o' child who walks in the shadows.

The voice of the beggar sounded through the street, but when I turned around, there was no one there. Not even markings in the dirt where he should have been sitting.

......Okay, time to summarize stuff. Some wacko-old beggar noticed that I had been led into a trap, probably some sort of mirror-dimension from the lack of people, warned me about the set-up, then disappeared like smoke in the wind. And people are hiding around here, probably the same guys that made this place. In other words, the enemy.

...Reinforcements ain't something I should rely on. I was the one who walked out of my room despite saying to Flint and the others that I was gonna hold up inside there all day. He and Lily are not even in town at the moment! Noire's acting as a lackey for Filyn, so it's little hope to expect something from that front either...

From how the [Heretic Resistance] skills didn't help, this is probably the work of someone who's got the brains not to brute-force themselves to the wished result. The beggar said I was "led" here after all, so it wasn't due to an "attack" or I was "forced" to come here. 

Damn, now I feel stupid. Let's try to get outta this place and regroup. No way I'm fighting on these guys' home field. 

I fired a Dark Bullet throughout the street... only for it to reappear from the other side. So, it's that kinda barrier/dimension. If there's a way to enter the place, there's gotta be an exit as well. I mean, the culprits are inside this place as well, so they gotta have a way to leave it after they're "done with their work". 

I tried to enter the Shadow World but to no luck. Guess you have to be in the "original world" if you wanna go to a "sub-world". There goes that escape-path.

...Normally, I would be happy to fight in a place with so much cover as inside a city, but it's to no help if only the opponent knows the layout. 

Okay, let's crush this place. 

I threw a few dozens of exploding and poison bombs from my Storage through [Shooting] haphazardly around the false city. Loud explosions rang throughout the whole pocket dimension (or so I think it is), and poison-colored mist covered the whole city. 

SYSTEM MESSAGE:

Acquired title: [Destroyer].

Acquired skill: [Brute Force Lv.1]

Acquired skill: [Destruction Reinforcement Lv.1]

Skill: [Destruction Reinforcement Lv.1] is integrated into skill: [Destruction Reinforcement Lv.12]

I was wondering when I would get that title!

The buildings were crumbling due to the explosions and in the poisoned mist I could see the shadow of a humanoid figure. I threw some poisoned needles at him, but despite the guy coughing and harking from the dust and poison, he managed to parry the small and fast needles with his sword. 

"*Cough, cough*. damn it, demon! There's no need to be that drastic, is it!?"

A man... samurai? A samurai dressed in a kimono-like outfit with pieces of armor attached brushed away the smoke with his sword. The outfit looks more used than Flint's kimonos. He's got long, dark-brown hair in a ponytail, not that different from samurais in the movies. However, his skin is deep red, and there's a pair of horns on his forehead.

Name: Kagetora Oninosuke
Race: Red Oni  | Gender: Male
Level: 18
Karma Value: 55
Main Class: Samurai Lv.31
Sub Class: Bodyguard: Lv.44
Sub Class: Earth Mage Lv.20
Condition:
  • Warfare Enhancements: [All stats up: [40%]], [Constant MP Loss: [1%/2s]], [Constant SP Loss: [1%/2s]]
  • Magical Enchantments: [Increased STR: [Small]], [Increased VIT: [Small]]
  • Attribute Addition: [Wind Attribute to attacks: [Small]], [Holy Attribute to attacks: [Small]].
  • Charity: [Constant HP/MP/SP Recovery: [6%/1s]]
HP: 672/672 MP: 345/345 SP: 610/610
STR: 686 VIT: 652 MAG: 225
RES: 334 SPD: 377 DEX: 489
INT: 84 LUC: 100

...Okay, I'm glad I got his status, but those enhancements are a little weird!?

"Kagetora, why would someone care about holding back when people have trapped them? Though, I agree this is above the limits..."

"Right!?" - Kagetora

Some fox-looking guy answered the Oni's question. Quite literally. He must be a Therianthrope of the fox-kind. He's got bluish-silver hair and a pair of fox-ears sticking up from it with the same color. His face is screaming that he's plotting something behind your back as well, especially with how he's keeping his eyes closed like a fox. His clothing is Japanese like the Oni... or should I say Wakokuish? 

Name: Sukeroku Matamo
Race: Therianthrope (Trick Fox)  | Gender: Male
Level: 8
Karma Value: -16
Main Class: Onmyoji Lv.25
Sub Class: Illusionist Lv.41
Sub Class: Cleric Lv.45
Condition:
  • Magical Enchantments: [Increased INT: [Small]], [Increased RES: [Small]]
  • Charity: [Constant HP/MP/SP Recovery: [6%/1s]]
HP: 255/255 MP: 731/731 SP: 211/211
STR: 209 VIT: 211 MAG: 701
RES: 656 SPD: 401 DEX: 402
INT: 117 LUC: 102

I kinda expected that class. Not that he was hiding anything by wearing those Onmyoji-like clothes. The class is an Advance-tier of the Star Reader class, which grants several strange magic abilities. The Illusionist class is basically a class focusing on [Illusion Magic], but it's better than the Element Mage classes like the Oni's Earth Mage class. And he even got the healer-class, Cleric. This guy's going for a bigger support-build than Noire!

Ten to one that it's that guy who tricked me into this place. And they're both from Wakoku? I know about the port town further to the east has a sea-route to that country, but what are they doing out here...

Okay, stupid question. They're picking a fight with me. Then, what's their reason for doing it?

As I was trying to figure out the situation, a third person emerged from the dust clouds. Unlike the first two, this guy was wearing an armor that looked obviously western. It's made from some dark-blue material, complete with golden linings and a red cape. Worst of all, the guy himself got the face of a handsome bastard, complete with blonde hair and crystal-clear, blue eyes! Tch, go and explode already!! The only downside is the large bags under his eyes, and he looks a little hollowed out. Why?

Name: Jim Highland
Race: High Human  | Gender: Male
Level: 23
Karma Value: 200 <Order>
Main Class: Holy Knight Lv.45
Sub Class: Escape Artist Lv.11
Sub Class: Elementalist Lv.47
Skills: 145
Titles: 44
Blessings: 4
Condition:
  • Warfare Enhancements: [All stats up: [44%]], [Constant MP Loss: [1%/2s]], [Constant SP Loss: [1%/2s]]
  • Magical Enchantments: [Increased STR: [Small]], [Increased VIT: [Small]]. [Increased INT: [Small]], [Increased RES: [Small]]
  • Attribute Addition: [Wind Attribute to attacks: [Small]], [Holy Attribute to attacks: [Small]].
HP: 1,001/1,001 MP: 845/851 SP: 981/989
STR: 646 VIT: 881 MAG: 775
RES: 1,002 SPD: 422 DEX: 825
INT: 102 LUC: 77

Geh, this guy's bad news!! Holy Knight's the archnemesis to Necromancers! And Escape Artist, isn't that the evolved class for Fugitive? The same one that prevented me from catching that "Baron"-clown in Tir na Nog? Ugh, like a buffet of the classes I hate.

And worst of all, what's with this skill list!? 145? What's up with that stupid-high amount?!

...Why did I feel that someone's calling a kettle white here? Aren't they normally black?

The Holy Knight's skills are... ugh! [Charity], I knew it! And worst of all, he's got [Hero] as well! And both are at Lv.2!! I'm losing in the Extra Skill department...

He's got lots of titles as well. Many of them are about fighting those with negative Karma. Tch, is he tailor-made to fight me or something? As for the Blessings... eh?

Blessings:
[Champion of Yrlanaya] [Intense Affection of the Ultimate Life Goddess] [Proof of Lusalki] [Proof of Qulux]  
 

Hey, why am I meeting a colleague so suddenly!?

"Stop right there, foul demon! Surrender your head and die!" - Jim Highland

And he's seriously out for my blood! Why!? He's far from as orderly as his Karma Value says! Did I ever do something bad to him? 

The holy (vengeful) knight lept forward, ignoring the surprised shouts of his comrades, and slashed at me with the two-handed sword in his hands. This... is pretty easy to dodge?

I stepped to the left and avoided the hero's attack. 

*CRASH!*

Whoa-. That's nasty. The sword made a small crater in the ground. And it's stuck. Doesn't this guy have any sword-related skills? 'Cause that just now screams "amateur". 

"Eyes on the prize, beautiful." - Kagetora Oninosuke

And right behind the hero came the Oni-samurai, as if he had rehearsed with the hero beforehand, and started to slash at me with precise enough strikes that he reminded me of Mira. No, is he a little better than her? I countered by drawing out Carnwennan and started to parry. Rather, parrying is the only thing I can do! 

Our sword-fight lasted for a few seconds, with me only surviving thanks to the high-tier Ehangwen-Style, me using all my status-up skills, including the newly-obtained [Brute Force], and the Oni being weakened by my Evil Eye. Still, even with all this, I'm only barely surviving! And these guys can recover everything, while I've gotta worry about my reserves!

Tch, I'm done with this! During a clash between our swords, I let a new smoke bomb fall outta the Storage and it detonated right between us. Taking the advantage of the Oni's surprise, I snuck behind him and uses all my Ailment-Attacks, plus adding [Death Touch] and [Aura of Darkness] to that equation. As a bonus, I also used [Dark Drain].

All the skills, plus the support of the enhancement skills and the debuff the Evil Eye inflicted on the Oni, his face quickly started to turn purple as his MP was drained and he was exposed to the poison, paralyze, and much more. That gave me some more fuel to work with...

The fox-onmyoji didn't just stay back and twindle his tomes, as he had released many of those human-shaped paper-dolls, shikigamis, which were now floating around him, each pointing a magic circle towards me... wait, those can use magic for you!?

The shikigamis started shooting several Wind Bullets toward me. The line of fire is too wide to dodge... let's use mister Oni as a shield.

*Bang, bang, bangbangbangbangbangbang, BANG!!*

"GYAAA!?" - Kagetora Oninosuke

"K-Kage!?" - Sukeroku Matomo

While the fox is disturbed, let's throw the Oni up in the sky through [Thread Control] support and [Shooting], sneak in closer to the fox through the smoke, and then, release the special Assassination Art (it's not real), Nut Buster!

*Kick!*

"GYOOOooo..." - Sukeroku Matomo

The fox-guy fell to the ground while holding his crotch and releasing a wail that sounded like a ghost from the deepest parts of hell. Was using [Brute Force] an overkill? I did already use all the Attack Skills I could pack into that kick. 

The shikigamis looked like they malfunctioned and fell to the ground. Hmm, I was right. The shikigamis may act like remote-controlled turrets, but they still require MP from this guy, meaning they act like constant-active magic. Hitting the fox with [Soul Chase] among the other skills caused the magic formulas he used to command the shikigamis to collapse on themselves. 

...The flow of the wind's changed. Now-

"Sukeroku!! Kage!! Why you, that's why women are-!!" - Hero (lol)

Oh, the hero got his sword loose. And looking closely, I can see the Oni's also getting on his feet now, probably thanks to the healing the hero used on him. Let's reward the hero for being such a good friend. Bombs away!

"Genocide Drive." - Garami

"!! Kage! On your guard-" - Hero (lol)

"Crap-!!" - Kagetora Oninosuke

With the extra speed gained from Genocide Drive... I ran away.

"Ah!? Get back here-!!"  - Hero (lol) + Oni

No way~. Who wanna stay at the same place as those laughter-bombs? Even I almost died from a prototype of those.

As I was running away, more than pleased by how I shifted their attention from the bombs to me. I heard a few small explosions behind me, followed by some mad laughter that would make even that famous clown-faced criminal back away... maybe.

And there's the exit. Good thing the fox-guy is of the careful type. Such as making an emergency exit appear in case he lost control of the spell for this pocket dimension. The smoke's fleeing out the entrance, which helped me greatly in finding this place.

Now, I bid you farewell, hero (lol) party. Remember that a good laugh lengthens your lifespan~.

---

Okay, I managed to sneak away from the hero party. That's good and all, but what now? If they do that "leading"-trick again, I don't know if I can resist it. 

Tch, and here I was thinking I was the tricky type. That fox-bastard beat me hands down! Guess Assassins are more for direct combat than I first thought...

Now's not the time to be depressed! Summarize the facts and find out how to defeat those guys!!

When I escaped, I saw tons of those shikigamis hidden around town. Guess that one strike destroyed them all.[Soul Chase] is scary! And that wasn't even its intended usage!

This means I've got time to lay a counter-plan against those heroes. It will take more than a day or so to repair that many shikigamis, at least enough for the "leading"-trick again, or so I hope. Please let those things be vital for that strategy!

Then, for the hero-party. That [Charity] skill's too much of a pain! Despite me stuffing the place with poisoned smoke, none of the hero's (lol) underlings took any damage! They even recovered from my attacks in the blink of an eye! And that hero (lol) is a Champion, so they can obtain Skill Points as easily as we do. It's only a matter of time before they get Status Ailment Resistance Skills, which will drastically decrease my odds of winning.

Not to mention that hero (lol) is a Holy Knight! He'll crush my undead faster than those two goons' recovery!! I'm glad he was big enough of an idiot to go physical against me despite being a complete support-type, but that's not certain it will happen again. Asking Filyn for help would be like selling my soul to the devil. Like, for real. That's a last resort of the century.

I saved their Status Pages in the Kigal-Note, so maybe there's something there that can give me a hint to clear those guys? Please let there be...

There was. Seriously!? I need to make some calls. This is gonna be fun!

Kigal-Note/Extra Skills: [Charity]

Skill: Charity
Skill Type: Extra Skill
Attribute: none
Effect:
  • Grants automatic recovery of HP, MP, and SP, to anyone the user recognizes as an ally.
  • Drastically increase the effect of healing-type moves. 
  • Proficiency increase for support-type skills.

Description:

One of the Seven Virtue skills, [Charity]. A one-and-only skill, derivated from the skill, [Michael - Lord of Charity], which is in the ownership of Michael the Guardian Angel of Caritas.

[Charity] is only obtainable by those who are in the possession of the [Savior] title, which is awarded to those who have saved people's lives through healing spells, or through actions that directly saves their lives. Another requirement for this skill is to have many Healing-type skills.

[Charity] is a contender for the "Strongest healing-type skill" in the Terra Sol World System, mostly due to it being the only skill that automatically recovers SP, excluding the superior variant of this skill. Another important fact is that the skill's effect is granted to everyone the user perceives as an ally, no matter their numbers, with only the skill user needing to be in visual range of their allies.

Garami's comment: 3% recovery every second for each skill level is just too much! Cheaters!!

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