242. Ancient Sentinel of The Moon
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Rakna took a seat inside the office he had made for himself, the shelves around already filled with books he had previously bought. Of which one was being read by a certain lioness, on top of a one-seat sofa in the corner of the room.

 

The therian’s eyes were rotating periodically as he stared at a 3D projection he made. The contents illustrated in it were nothing close to austere. If a normal person was looking, it would be as if they were facing a swarm of microscopic bugs forming a spheric cloud.

 

However, in Rakna’s eyes, the entirety of it was being picked apart into groups, isolated, analyzed, and rearranged. This was a magic formation. To be specific, it was the formation behind Flash Step. While the basis of it was not a Matrix, the manner in which Rakna had extracted its formula caused the whole thing to become extremely condensed and comparable to one.

 

“Tch, even with my Eye, it’s taking quite a while to decipher,” he mumbled and waved his hand to the left; the projection following his movement. Then, he extended his other hand to the right and began to mold a real-version of the formation with his mana.

 

“Well, that’s on you,” Higure commented as she turned the page of her book. “You decided to not only buy and destroy a Skill Card to get the raw magic formation, but you’re also trying to improve it. I can’t say I dislike that overreaching side of yours but don’t complain about it.”

 

Rakna glanced at her with a raised eyebrow before focusing back on the formation. While he was forming it, he recalled something and took out a Spell Card from his storage. “Horny cat, catch,” he said and threw it to her.

 

Higure looked up and caught the card with her tail. She read the name and blinked, “Natcattiram Viḻuntatu… Oh, it’s the Spell Card you got as a reward for inventing your first spell. That meteor-like one, right?”

 

“Yes,” he nodded. “At the time, I didn’t expect to ever have a use for it. But since you awakened a new brand of Star Magic, you can learn it.”

 

“Thanks. I had forgotten about this,” she said and flipped the card to see the back where the lexis for its activation was written. Interestingly enough, there was an opaque background image of a red star depicted on it. “[The Stars Bid Upon the Sky’s Arrow. Tearing Darkness Apart, Destruction at Its Beck and Call,]” she chanted and the card merged with her body. “Neat,” she grinned.

 

Rakna snorted and flicked his fingers at the magic formation, making some of the runes move to the surface of the matrix. He paused right after. “Wait…” He mumbled and his pupils began to spin until they turned into crosses. He stared at the formation for a moment then started writing new runes around it.

 

He then made them stick to the spherical formation and slowly but surely, the patterns inside, that were previously clustered beyond possible recognition, aligned themselves, finding anchor points in the runes that had been added.

 

“{Well, well, would you look at that? You seem to have it figured out,}” Fray commented. “{But it seems you ended up with something far--}” He paused as the magic formation suddenly expanded and filled the entire room with wandering symbols and runes, startling Higure who was peacefully enjoying her read. 

 

“{…far beyond than what you were going for,}” Fray finished with an amused grunt.

 

“Seems like it,” Rakna muttered. He extended both of his hands forward and slowly brought his palms together. The magic formation shrunk once again but when it returned to a smaller size, it had changed shape. It now appeared like a planet orbited by a pair of rings.

 

❮ ◈ ❯

Congratulations! You have deciphered and improved a Skill Formation!

You have learned a Skill Formation; Flash Step!

You have designed a Skill Matrix; Enthymio Step! 

You can create a Skill Card to add the skills to your status.

---

Runecraft has leveled up!

Runecraft has leveled up!

Magic Theory has broken through Excelled!

Magic Circle Theory has broken through Excelled!

---

Enthymio Step

A skill created by a manipulator of dimensions whilst trying to decipher Flash Step. After implanting runes with dimensional power into the formation, a Matrix combining the fast movement of Flash Step and the dimension tearing aspect of Enthymio was created.

This skill can only be used by people with a body strong enough to resist dimensional turbulence. Everyone can learn it but only those with the ability to enter Enthymio can hope to bring out the full potential of this skill.

This is a displacement technique that is both fast and imperceptible. Upon activation, the user will lose all cognition of the real world for a split second before appearing where he intended. It is not teleportation but dimensional displacement.

This ability is undetectable without tapping into the space-time dimension and since it is a hop through dimensions, nothing can harm the user in between the start of the jump and the end of it. However, its weakness lies in the small cooldown period it has, the strain it puts on the body, and the natural fact that the user will be dropped at their destination without being fully aware of their direct surroundings.

Step Cost: 50 MP

Casting Time: 0.2s

Max Range Per Step: 10 Meters

Cooldown: 1 Minute. This only applies to users without a body capable of resisting the dimensional damage caused by Enthymio.

 

Note: This is an Ascended Skill Card. The skill’s level will directly be 11 after learning it.

❮ ◈ ❯

 

Rakna closed his eyes for a short moment, processing the information brought about by the two proficiencies reaching the Ascended Stage. Unlike minor level-ups, when a proficiency evolves to new stages, there is a clear flow of information to let the Host grow further.

 

“I see…” The therian muttered after he got to read the description of the Skill Matrix he had just made. “I wondered what messing around with dimensionally condensed runes would do… This is a rather satisfying result.”

 

“{Now, you only have to craft the cards… Better give your friends both Flash Step and this one. It doesn’t seem that they can be synthesized together too. They are quite incompatible in nature and they each have their strong and weak points,}” Fray said and Rakna nodded.

 

“Let’s see,” he squinted and used Appraisal on the system windows for a very specific reason. 

 

❮ ◈ ❯

Flash Step Skill Card

Crafting Difficulty: D

Material Requirements: D+

---

Enthymio Step Skill Card

Crafting Difficulty: B

Material Requirements: A-

❮ ◈ ❯

 

Rakna sighed at the result. For crafting skill cards, talent and materials were required and these scores were the representation of it. For crafting difficulty, Rakna believed to be one of the best in the lower Plateaus already for the simple reason that he had Eye of Symphony to assist him.

 

As for the material requirements, the System used that lettered rank to define which materials are capable of conducting the skill properly. In fact, this also applied to other areas such as alchemy and smithing.

 

Flash Step is fine… but a material requirement of A-? I can say goodbye to 15 million Talys per card. If not for my discount, it would have been 50 million. Not to mention that there is a chance I will fail the card engraving. I haven’t had the time to practice…”

 

“That much?” Higure asked curiously from her seat. “What if it was S rank?”

 

“{From what I read in the past, there’s a steep difference between ranks. Materials labeled A- can easily cost 50 million. Rank A materials fetch for amounts between 100 and 300 million. Rank A+ goes up to 800 million and after that, well, the materials better than that are extremely rare. What we would call S-Rank materials would most likely cost in the billions.}”

 

“That sounds like a lot,” Higure said casually. 

 

“{Dusk Lioness… That is far too much of an understatement.}”

 

“Well, it’s not like I have an economic sense. Have you ever seen a lion using money in the wild?”

 

“{…point taken.}”

 

“Hm…” Meanwhile, Rakna was pondering about something. He pulled out the Prima Materia Shard that he produced from his own body and used Appraisal on it. For this one, he had to use it a bit longer to get the details he wanted.

 

❮ ◈ ❯

Smithing Material Score: A-

Alchemic Material Score: A+

Crafting Material Score: B

Building Material Score: B+

Energetic Material Score: S-

Spell-Card Material Score: A

Skill-Card Material Score: A-

❮ ◈ ❯

 

Rakna smiled faintly. “Well, if I find out how to neutralize the Eion Decline that this material goes through after leaving my body, I can use this thing to cut back the cost on pretty much everything I do. If I can use this to make the Skill Cards, it will at least halve the manufacturing cost.”

 

“{And I thank you for making me sound stupid by saying that S-Rank materials are too rare…}”

 

“Well, it makes sense for Eion to be so highly rated when it comes to energy production. I’m quite interested in the A+ score for alchemy too. Maybe I can give it to Evelyn after I settle it… I guess it’s soon time to go meet Old Wang and see if his friend is done analyzing the Eion compound. Then we can finally start with that busine--”

 

“Heya, Boss, coming in!” A voice sounded and someone opened the door. Rakna blinked in surprise as his clone, still sporting blond hair, including his ears and tail, strode inside the office. He quickly noticed his odd behavior and the clear crimson glow in his eyes.

 

“…right. By your eyes and the outgoing tone, I guess you’re ‘Volcanic’ right now?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“And…?”

 

“What can I say? I encountered a few assholes during my chill shopping time. Oh, and I didn’t have any idea of how to introduce myself when I was asked so… you might see me in the news with a headline that goes ‘Mysterious Blond Therian! Member of Obsidian Throne!’ or something.”

 

Rakna’s expression twitched as his clone prattled. It really felt weird to be on the opposing side of it. Higure completely agreed with the sentiment as she watched from the sidelines. 

 

“I seriously want to call you an idiot…”

 

“But that would be insulting yourself now, wouldn’t it?” The clone snickered.

 

“Exactly. This is why I would like you to not be an idiot. Thank you.”

 

“Hah! Well, you find your fun in seeing people shocked while I, as a clone, have fun messing around and annoying you. Since, you know, it’s not exactly as if the current me survives the re-assimilation process. Sort of.”

 

Rakna rolled his eyes. “I don’t think it’s time to start philosophical debates on the ethical use of self-governed clones. Not like I would stop using it whatever the conclusion…”

 

“Meh, don’t worry,” the clone huffed. “I won’t go all Skynet on you. You, yourself, wouldn’t do that after all. And since I’m you, what is there to doubt? By the way, I went ahead and installed the stuff I bought at Black Steel; TVs, PCs, internet, and all,” he added and threw back the spatial ring. “The only things left in there are the stove, the fridge, and whatnot.”

 

“Got it. You can come back now.”

 

“Sure thing, Boss,” the clone chuckled and put his hand on his original’s shoulder, swiftly turning back into his fifth tail. When Rakna received the memories, he groaned.

 

“Harassers; of course, my clone would encounter some,” he said sarcastically. “I was hoping it was a joke. Why does it seem like my luck evaporates when it comes to public appearance? At this rate, people that don’t even exist will constitute half of my guild,” he grumbled and dismissed the Skill Matrix hovering above his desk.

 

“Is that a really bad thing?” Higure tilted her head. “You know, like this, your enemies will always be nervous of confrontation, never knowing where or who all your forces are.”

 

Rakna raised an eyebrow and leaned back on his chair. “I guess that's okay… Now, it’s time that I finally do this. It’s better not to postpone it for too long,” he muttered and opened his status.

 

He had, in fact, already checked the Path Quest issued to him; it was apparently something that would send him in a simulation upon accepting it. Sadly, there were no other details. All he knew was that the Quest entailed doing something in the simulation. Nothing more.

 

“See you in a moment, Higure,” Rakna quipped and selected ‘Yes’ on the Quest prompt, starting a five-second countdown.

 

Higure cackled. “Well, that’s definitely true from my perspective. But who knows how long~ you’re in for?” She added, purposefully emphasizing the word.

 

“Hm? What do you mean exact--?” Rakna got cut off as he abruptly disappeared from the room.

 

* * *

 

❮ ◈ ❯

Simulation Transfer Complete.

Path Quest Initiated; Ancient Sentinel of The Moon.

The Host’s form and abilities have been fixed at their strongest state for the duration of the Quest. Your role will be explained to you by the Scenario. You have several possible goals and clearing conditions. Feel free to do whatever you fancy.

❮ ◈ ❯

 

Rakna saw this notification whilst floating in darkness before he was shoved back into his body. He opened his eyes and reflexively tried to move, only to hear the rattling of metal; his limbs being constrained by something.

 

Then, he eyed his surroundings that were drowned in obscurity. His inhuman eyesight made it as clear as day for him however and the only thing he could tell was that he was in a sort of dungeon. Not the kind that the System offered but a literal one. The walls were piled stone and there were prison bars on the opposite side of the room.

 

Rakna’s confusion was mounting and he eventually looked at himself and what was stopping him from moving as he wanted. His body seemed to be stuck as a werewolf and he also had nine tails behind him. And what was restraining him… was nothing other than chains. Massive, enchanted-looking chains, were pinning his five-meter-tall stature against the wall.

 

“What the hell is going on…?”

 

I might drop a chapter Wednesday, in passing. You know, like little bread crumb for you all. But if not, see ya in a week.

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