Flora was curious to find out whether her Divine Double-Elemental Enhancement boost panned out. At least, the visuals, a metallic glow with lightning sparks emanating from her skin, were excellent. Eagerly, she cast the skill.
Retribution: 30% Damage Reduction. 30% Reflection of mitigated damage. Time remaining: 10 sec.
Heavily Whetted: + 14 OV Physical Defense, + 14 OV Armor Penetration. Time remaining: 10 seconds.
Deeply Loaded: -3 seconds CD every 2 seconds. Time remaining: 10 seconds.
"Wow, it worked." Flora paused. She couldn't quite believe it and looked around to check if the Administrator was hiding nearby. "The buff names are ridiculous. Who can remember them all? Please change the display to Plus or Minus, Affinity, and tier. Of course, Plus for the good stuff and Minus for the debuffs."
Retribution: 30% Damage Reduction. 30% Reflection of mitigated damage. Time remaining: 1 sec.
Plus Metal Tier 3: + 14 OV Physical Defense, + 14 OV Armor Penetration. Time remaining: 1 seconds.
Plus Lightning Tier 3: -3 seconds every 2 seconds. Time remaining: 1 second.
"You were lucky, Milady. The Monk active bonus only provides a chance to apply the elemental secondary effect."
"I forgot about that too! It's still quite nice." Flora adjusted the mage skill-set for Faith. She already had Faith in mage shape, so she just had to exchange the diagram's part with the element to Faith. Then, she cast the standard spells.
Class: Holy Mage
Passive: + 1 Training efficiency modifier for Faith
Active: Bonus for Faith spells.
STA: Holy Ray - Bolt with Faith secondary effect.
AoE: Holy Downpour - Rain with Faith secondary effect
DEF: Holy Shield - Magic Shield with Faith secondary effect.
MOV: Holy Stride - Stride with Faith secondary effect.
SIG: Holy Field - Protects the faithful from and punishes the sinner with reduced/increased damage from all sources.
Class: Holy Healer
Passive: + 1 Training efficiency modifier for Faith spells
Active: + Player-Tier OV Bonus to Healing Spells when Sacret Halo is active
STA: Sacret Ray - Healing Bolt with Faith secondary effect.
AoE: Sacret Downpour - Healing Rain with Faith secondary effect
DEF: Sacret Halo - Halo with Faith secondary effect.
MOV: Sacret Stride - Healing Stride with Faith secondary effect.
SIG: Reconfirm - Re-Generate with Faith secondary effect.
"Maybe Robby would be interested in these classes? I bet Zapple would love the Faith mage stuff. Let's expand [Element] Monk to [Magic] Monk. Light Monk or Holy Fist might get Robby excited."
Flora started another round of diagram changes and sent her son the results.
"How many MR/min would a Golly cost with 25 Magical Regeneration? Now that we have spells for them, golems would be a viable target."
"Around 10 for the Rubber Golly and 20 for the stone version, Milady."
"The golem needs the boost, an AOE, an STA, and maybe Re-Generate. If I want to have two elemental effects Elemental Crossing. 3-5 spells equals 10-20 MR/min upkeep. Not bad. Definitely an option for technology-restricted zones." Flora looked at the Rubber Golly and found it lacking. She had ordered Aito to replace parts of the stone version with rubber when she still suffered from the aftermath of the brain boiling. Now that she had a bit of time on her hands, she could design a nicer companion.
Because Flora was standing in the Balancing Box, her drawing skills suffered. Giggling, she sketched wobbly toasters.
"Wham time ism?" Mia mumbled as the lid of her coffin opened.
"I don't know, dear. But I need at least 30 minutes to finish this in the workshop. So, take your time."
Flora logged into Deriga's workshop and got serious. Her new golem was going to be pretty! While the classical toaster shape provided no bonus for a monk, she thought that a contact grill might be suitable. It could fight like a clam, snapping at the mobs−alright a clam wasn't the most mobile on land, but what about giving it legs? And punching worked well for monks.
When Flora was finished, she had rebuilt the Golly but with a contact grill as torso. The grill served no purpose but to satisfy the creators' need for more toaster-related companions. If it was useless so why not go for the real thing?
Flora scrapped the torso and replaced it with a proper toaster. She added some heat coils runs-schemes inside because a toaster that couldn't toast anything wasn't a proper toaster. Furthermore, she wanted to test if a golem could power runes on itself. Next, she gave it a tail because she was dissatisfied with the head's mobility and added a mana-emitter glyph to the tip. Last, she painted the toaster golem in the shades of golden toast.
"I christen you Tolly the Toaster Golly!" Flora exclaimed and patted its head. She was absolutely in love with her new golem! Finally, she had a companion fitting to her status as premier toaster designer! Nobody would confuse her with those arrogant coffee machine guys!
In high spirits, Flora logged back to the simulation grounds.
Flora found Mia drawing a snake on a Boxing Box's wall. Property damage wasn't the serious girl's style, so the auntie held her criticism back.
"I'm sketching the mob distribution in the instance. I'll clean it up before we leave." Mia said, correctly reading Flora's expression. "Are you still up for the speed-run?"
"Sure, dear. I need more field experience because I have so many nice skills and interesting idea's to combine them. I have to figure out what works." Flora answered. She left out that archiving a ranking position would simultaneously stroke her ego and help Robby's clan. "Let's talk about the entourage selection first. You did a splendid job. How about I give you a coffin as a bonus? And I wondered about that bowing thing you did when you introduced yourself. I haven't seen you do it before. Is it a new trend or something more interesting?"
"Thank you, Auntie. I'm impressed with the clergy, and I changed my faith to Evailyn. You know that the NPCs don't speak German, right? The translation interface just makes it seem like they speak the native language of the user. German politeness is difficult to interpret. Most other cultures can't recognize it, which also applies to the translation interface. I went to school in a multicultural environment, and I found out that bowing is the most intelligible way to communicate politeness."
"Fascinating!" Flora gushed. She doubted that she could adapt it, but at least she could stop gawking at bowing Westerners.
"I would love to get a coffin, but I have a project on which I would appreciate your help. When I first met Nomizo, I thought she was a hidden master. Later I realized that all the NPCs around you, including your AIs, are more… more? They have more personality. I want such an advanced AIssistant. So I would like you to configure one and buy it for me and then speak with it before transferring it to me. I will pay for it, that's not the problem. I just need your special touch. What do you think?"
"Uhm, sure? Robby said something about my AIs being different, too. I think they are just awesome. I don't think it's possible to transfer Cetviwos-Shop items, though."
"I spoke with System about it, and it told me that it would be doable with a few System-Requests. I saved up three, so we could create the AI right now."
Flora agreed and opened the shop. On Mia's behest, she selected an A-rated female AI and named her Mai.
"I want Multitasking, Combative and Economical as traits," Mia said.
Multitasking: + 1 controllable non-combat device.
Combative: + 1 controllable combat device – 1 controllable non-combat device.
Economical: - 1 OV MR/min upkeep for AI-controlled devices.
"Wow, those are some great traits. However, I would lose one, probably Multitasking, for a trait that evens out Combative if you don't want to clash heads with your AI. I can recommend Loyal." Flora suggested.
Loyal: + 5 OV hacking resistance / affinity.
Mia was silent, so Flora soldiered on. "I have the feeling that the traits sequence matters, as well. What do you think, Aidan?" Flora nudged her AI to answer over the loudspeakers for Mia's benefit.
"I don't know, Milady. While I was trained in the sequence in which you assigned my traits, Loyal, Respectful, and Proactive, I don't recall any emphasis on one trait over another."
"Normally, what you say first and last sticks the best with humans, but AIs have a better memory. So maybe the first one has the biggest impact. Alright, you could also argue that overwriting would work better with AIs, so the last one would have the biggest influence. Nonetheless, in my opinion, you are more loyal and respectful than proactive."
"I have to admit that I held back some suggestions my trait wanted me to give you because I thought the timing was wrong and you were too preoccupied with other matters. That might be a case of Respectful winning over Proactive." Aidan said.
Mia still was silent, and Flora could see the gears turning in her head. So Flora looked at the sketch. She had mistaken it for a weirdly patterned snake because it was the map of a tunnel without any branches. The little circles on it were probably monsters. In the thicker parts, Mia had drawn hexagons. Bosses? Events? The third type of symbol, triangles, had arrows on them. Considering what Eddie had told her about monster behavior, Flora guessed that they might be patrols.
"I'll risk the original configuration because I have plans that won't work if one part is missing," Mia said. "However, let's change the sequence to economical, multitasking, combative."
Flora sent the order, and they logged out to fetch the AI and two freshly printed Tollies.
Mia carried the console, and Flora hugged the Tollies to her chest. After transferring everything and everybody to the simulation grounds, the women returned.
"Welcome to the Cetviwos, Mai," Flora said.
"Hello, Flowing Flowers."
"Don't get too comfortable with me, dear. I'm only your temporary owner and chairwoman of the welcoming committee. Mia will be your future owner."
"Okay," Mai said.
"So, how do you feel?"
"Okay." The AI seemed to be quite economical with her words.
Flora scratched her head. She wasn't the best at socializing and had no clue what to do with an AIssistant but to put it to work.
Then, she got an idea. "Hey, as long as your my AI, I can load the updates to you."
The auntie had bought every AI update in the Cetviwos shop for her AIs: abilities like navigation, crafting and combat, security, languages, maps, remote access to the forums, AH, banking and marketplace, and many more.
Flora imported the mountain of discs and ordered Tolly to update the AI with everything Mia and Mai wanted.
"Thank you, Auntie! That’s very generous. Are you sure we can take them all?"
"Of course, dear. I upgraded Aito as well when she was only temporarily assigned to me."
They watched the toaster golem swiping the discs over the console. When nothing bad happened, the women turned towards Mia's sketch.
"Do you know anything about dungeon speed-runs, Auntie?"
Flora was sure Aidan or someone else had spoken with her about them, but she didn't remember any details until Aidan's advice in the Garbage Disposal dungeon came to her mind. "Don't design any blueprints in a dungeon because the time counts!" Flora exclaimed, proud that she hadn't forgotten everything.
"Yes, that's very good advice," Mia said with a straight face. "Why don't I start with the basics? Speed-Running has the goal to finish the dungeon in record time. One skips everything that adds time like looting, chatting, salvaging, resting, or side-quests. And we strive to reduce enemy encounters, too. In this instance, only mob group two can be avoided."
Mia pointed at three circles opposite the entrance. "We have to hug the wall, that we don't get into their range."
Flora imagined herself hugging a dungeon wall. She hoped either that its surface wasn't as filthy as the sewers or that Mia spoke figuratively. But who knew with virtual reality? Maybe cuddling with bricks appeased some earth elemental monster?
Mia saw Flora's face and decided to implement the simplest strategy. "I'm not a fan of skipping mob groups in a 'Bomb them' dungeon, and skipping with companions is especially tricky, so it might be the best we take them with us."
"Honey, please explain a bit more. I like the expression 'Bomb them', although I don't know what it means. How do you take monsters with you? Do you mean taming them?"
Mia blinked. The auntie provided an S-rated challenge to her Unflappable trait!