58. Down we go
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“Pronos, sit this one out. I want to tackle it alone,” Rakna said and the little snake nodded before jumping off and retreating to the edge of the room.

 

Rakna slowly started circling around the praying mantis that seemed to be keen on not taking the first move. He thought about using Appraisal but he didn’t think there would be a point in learning this monster’s specific abilities.

 

Instead, he simply turned Sonata into a bow and pulled the string before releasing three arrows at the same time. The mantis waited until they were about to reach it to destroy them with a swing of its scythes.

 

And, with that, Rakna kicked the ground in its direction after having grasped what numbers could not completely tell him; its reaction speed, its scythes’ accuracy and toughness, its stance when faced with an attack… he had gotten all of them in just a glance when it cut through his arrows.

 

While he was running, he turned the bow into a dual chain blade and used them to both attack and defend from the mantis’ bladed limbs coming from above. The two pairs of scythes were entangled with a surprising sound of steel clashing.

 

‘Definitely not natural for a mantis’ forelegs to make that sound,’ Rakna commented inwardly and pushed away one of the mantis’ scythes with his own by deviating it to the side. He repeated the action with his other hand and kicked the insect’s open side while it was out of balance.

 

The mantis let itself be hit but simultaneously jumped and deployed a pair of translucid wings to lessen the blow. Rakna reacted instantly and grabbed the middle of Sonata’s chain. He twirled the entire weapon and threw it at the mantis.

 

The insect tried to parry the weapon but unfortunately, its scythes caught the chain instead of the blades, which then enclosed its body and even managed to tear one of its wings.

 

The mantis lost control over its flight pattern and before it could stabilize itself, Rakna suddenly leaped toward it and muttered one word, “Artzpul.” He rocketed toward the insect and grabbed its neck.

 

“You were quite easy in the end,” he uttered and flung the monster toward the ground as he reinforced his arm. The mantis crashed on the Dungeon’s floor with a broken neck and died near instantly. The boss room brightened right after and the mantis’ body let out a pile of Talys and one other Item. When Rakna landed, a System window flickered into existence.

 

❮ ◈ ❯

You have killed a Lv.10 Praying Mantis.

No experience gained.

---

You have completed the Seed Grotto!

Difficulty: Normal

Number of Participants: 1 | Average Level of Participants: 16

Rewards: 200 Talys, ‘Scan’ Skill Card

---

You will automatically be transported outside in one minute.

❮ ◈ ❯

 

When the message appeared, the Talys were directly added to his balance and a card materialized in front of his eyes. The back had the image of a small loupe and the front had a short incantation along with the name of the skill; just like Ireful Shell.

 

Rakna grabbed it and the System immediately notified him he couldn’t learn it because he had an already higher grade of appraising skill. “Well, I guess I could give it to Allan or sell it,” he muttered and walked to the mantis’ corpse.

 

He collected the Talys and the Item without even checking what it was; he would do that later as he was pretty sure that a very small part of the Loot he got here would actually interest him. At least, for this difficulty.

 

Soon after, he saw a stream of light engulf his body and he underwent a similar sensation to when he was teleported to the First Plateau. Before he knew, he was already back to the surface, in front of the Dungeon’s entrance and Pronos was on the ground next to his feet.

 

“Hmm,” Rakna looked around. “Well, round two,” he said blankly and jumped back inside the hole under the straight-faced stare of Pronos who ultimately followed him inside. After confirming that the Dungeon could indeed be repeated, they entered again.

 

* * *

 

In the next hour, Rakna took his time to conquer the hard difficulty. The monsters were all level ten at the very least which quickly allowed him to check off one of the conditions for his promotion to Rank II. The monsters had indeed been stronger but it still was as one-sided as the first run through.

 

Then, when he was back to the boss room, the praying mantis was there once again and he didn’t even need to use Appraisal to know that it was at the very least five levels ahead of its ‘normal’ counterpart.

 

When he fought it for the second time, he continued to use the chain blade, not really because he could use it against airborne enemies but because the dual chain blade allowed him to defend against both scythes without leaving any openings.

 

If he used his glaive, it would be considerably harder to defend against both forelegs as they could come from two different directions at any moment. Dual-wielding erased that problem.

 

He initiated the second fight in the same way as the first one but he quickly noticed a difference.

 

In contrast to before where his strength was more or less equal to it, this time, the mantis was able to push him back while entangled and he was forced to retreat. The insect then followed after him and tried to trap his shoulders in its appendages.

 

Rakna narrowed his eyes and first used Reinforcement to parry the scythes before casting Artzpul to launch himself backward. He wanted to reposition himself to a safer location but what he failed to take into account was a wind blade that flew at him as soon as he did that.

 

He promptly unfurled his wings to evade it with a second Artzpul. At the end of the day, this skill worked infinitely faster with his wings deployed. Rakna flew up to a wall and fixed himself to it by using the blades of his kusarigama.

 

When he looked back at the mantis, his Fabled Sight caught a green aura around the insect’s legs which he now could perfectly sense as mana; with quite an obvious wind element to it.

 

While he was still on the wall, the mantis flew off as well and rushed toward him while spreading its mana across its entire body. ‘So, it can reinforce itself too, huh?’ Rakna thought and also kicked off the wall and used Artzpul to dash at the mantis. ‘Two can play at that game.’

 

He activated his Reinforcement skill by consuming around ten mana and clashed with the mantis in mid-air with equal force. While experimenting with this skill, Rakna had managed to make an estimate of what exactly was reinforced and how much.

 

The first thing he had noticed was that Reinforcement was restricted in its application. Although it could indeed enhance pretty much every aspect of his body, it didn’t have anywhere near the same effect as if he had increased his attributes. It was more like breaking the limitations of his muscle potency.

 

In other words, his body would indeed be stronger but it would be imbalanced. If he increased his speed to a certain level, he would have to do the same with his endurance and senses in order to cope with the increase and that would reduce the effectiveness.

 

In conclusion, in real combat, this skill would allow him to increase his fighting capability by something along the lines of 3 to 5% if he used 10 MP. If he used around 50 MP, he could probably raise the percentage to 10%. If he used around 100 MP, then it would be 15%.

 

The pattern here was clear. The more he wanted to increase his strength, the more mana he would need and on top of that, the strain on his body would become more and more unreasonable.

 

As he thought about that, the mantis’ scythe brushed past his ear but his expression remained as stoic as always. The both of them had been clashing against each other every few seconds while flying around the Boss Room for a while now.

 

When he decided that it was enough, Rakna’s eyes widened and released an icy hue. He charged at the mantis one last time and muttered, “[Star Make – Swords of Liberation.]”

 

Three energy swords appeared around him and whizzed toward the mantis who was confused by the sudden appearance of the objects. The insect managed to destroy two of them but the last one went through its defenses and pierced its shoulder area.

 

The boss monster then felt the immediate effects of the Cold Star Magic’s nature. A bone-freezing temperature invaded its body and made it squirm in pain as a part of its internals was being paralyzed by the cold.

 

Rakna then rapidly closed in and beheaded it. The mantis’ wings stopped moving right away and its body fell to the ground, followed by Rakna who landed lightly on the ground as he retracted his wings.

 

❮ ◈ ❯

You have killed a Lv.15 Praying Mantis.

Requirement for level up updated: 69/160

---

You have completed the Seed Grotto!

Difficulty: Hard

Number of Participants: 1 | Average Level of Participants: 16

Rewards: 500 Talys, ‘Scan’ Skill Card, ‘Wind Incision’ Skill Card

---

You will automatically be transported outside in a minute.

❮ ◈ ❯

 

Rakna collected the Loot from the mantis’ body and spear handed the corpse. He pulled out the heart of the creature and ate it; he was already used to it by now. It took around half a minute for his Nirvana Skill to process the power. The System’s report that followed told him that most of his attribute gains were lower than 0.05.

 

He snorted and was teleported out of the Dungeon right after. He then took his time to check two things; the new skill card he got and the spell that his Star Make had just chronicled.

 

❮ ◈ ❯

Tier 9 Skill Card: Use it to learn the spell ‘Wind Incision’.

Requirements: Wind Element, Mana Control above level 4.

Description:

One of the most precise wind spells in the System. A talented mage could use this spell to even perform surgeries. If concentrated in one spot, it has an incredible piercing power, but it is very hard to master.

Fixed Cost: 5 MP

1cm Concentration (Default): Attack Magic x2

5mm Concentration: Attack Magic x3

3mm Concentration: Attack Magic x4

1mm Concentration: Attack Magic x6

Note: This spell has a very short range. Cast it over more than a few meters will cause it to lose most of its potency.

---

The Sub-Spell, Swords of Liberation, has been created.

---

Swords of Liberation (T.9): The user summons three cold energy swords with low power but exceptional sharpness. When hitting a target, the swords will not have enough energy to explode but their coldness will be effectively spread in the target’s body, forcing them to either destroy the swords or suffer momentary pain and paralysis.

Cost: 20 MP. (Soul Core Correction: 17.2 MP)

Attack: User’s Magic Attack multiplied by 2.

Cooldown: 15 Min

❮ ◈ ❯

 

The card’s spell seemed to be a close-range focused ability. The higher the Mana Control of the caster, the stronger it would be. ‘That will be for Flavia then,’ Rakna thought and went over the new sub-spell he made. He was starting to think that it was an easy thing to do.

 

‘The cost is completely different from Gungnir and Dáinsleif,’ he remarked inwardly. ‘Those two spells use a large percentage of my full mana pool. As I get stronger, even with the magic attack multiplicator, they will become extremely inefficient… Should I try to remake them? If I created them, I should be able to tweak them, right?’

 

He sighed and postponed that idea as he put the skill card inside his ring. He turned toward the Dungeon entrance for the third time. “Hey, little guy, curious to see how fiendish the difficulty can get?” He said in a joking manner and Pronos rolled his eyes before they both jumped.

 

I almost lost an entire 4k word chapter yesterday... so bad for my heart.

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