Chapter 62: Thrice Called, Thrice Denied
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Chris spun and spun and spun, when the grapple finally slipped, but Chris was already wound like clockwork around the tower vine by then, the grapple flew sideways and around, catching on two more leaves before it held firm.

Chris came to a stop, battered and bruised, but mostly saved from worse injury by his armor. He alighted on a nearby leaf and dropped, panting.

Well, damn. That had been close.

He lay down, pushed his pack aside, and pulled in a breath. The fading adrenaline reminded him that he still had armor stuck in his chest. He pulled it free surprised to see that the armor didn’t go as far in as he expected, honestly, it should have reached his heart. Actually, so should the shrapnel of his solidified Slime blood.

But, as he looked at the metal that sucked free of skin, sinew, and Slime, he saw the metal had been melted and corroded away. By acid. That explained one thing. But turning veins to stone had been dumb. He’d gone with it instinctively, since it had worked with Xys. His instincts had been wrong. His instincts had turned every blood vessel inside his legs and arms into a goddamn grenade.

That was the second time he should be dead.

He looked at his missing arm, and tapped at his head with his one remaining hand. Falling at that speed should have kicked him, the leaves were unpleasantly hard and his head—even armored—was comparatively soft. Hell, even his helmet had a stonking great big dent in it.

That made three.

What was going on? Was that his Luck stat?

Then he remembered his arm. His missing one.

He’d been concussed earlier, he’d thought he’d been growing diamond out of himself, which was dumb—almost as dumb as trying to be a mix of Tarzan and Captain Hook. But it was crystal. Glass, to be precise.

The glass from his three potions. Three health potions, each at his bodily rank. Three lethal, or near-lethal injuries. In his bones, that were actually Slime. They must have shattered inside him when he fell. By breaking, they had saved his life.

The shrapnel would have killed him along with the Slime loss. The first had fixed the holes and replenished his Slime slightly.

The second had allowed the creation of more Slime to dissolve the metal as it shredded his heart and lungs. It wouldn’t be able to dissolve something like that normally, it would burn it out too quickly. But health potions regenned quick.

The third had been the head wound, and maybe replenishing more Slime. There were three possibilities: the potion didn’t fully heal the wound; or he was suffering from potion toxicity; or both. In fact, even now that he felt the concussion had mostly passed—surprisingly quickly, but that was to be expected in a magical world—he still felt a little out of it. Probably both—toxicity and a nasty wound.

Still, he was alive, that was what mattered. And his enemy was not. He checked his quest rewards, he felt sort of bad killing an Enlightened, but Varok was a dick.

He read down the list. Two Class Skills gained, Internal Alchemy, and Alchemical Flesh. Three more to go. A new leveling quest at level fifty. And…

“What the fuck!”

 (Optional – Human/Monster) Kill Varok Prayerwing (0/1)

He was going to turn that fucking gryphon into quill pens and fletching when he next got his hands on that fucking thing. At least the quest was still available.

He gazed around, trying to make out that damned pest of a gryphon. He thought he saw movement. Near the mountains, the purple forest, and the bright river. He couldn’t be certain. It was too far away to make out. But it was a lead. There was something there at least.

Still, that battle’s outcome had been gutting. He checked his Status, hoping he’d gotten something in compensation.

Name

Christopher Hill

Level

20

Class

Slime Battle Alchemist

Race

Hybrid: Human (F-2), Slime (F-2)

Cultivation

Troll (F-1)

Dao

Suppression (Black-Foundation)

 

Traits

Human Potential, Monster Hybrid, Monstrous Constitution, Monstrous Assimilation, Amorphous, Stone Form, Carnivorous Pharmacopeia, Extraction

 

 

Titles

Genesis of Blood, Prime Underdog, Agent of Self-destruction, Prince of Poison, Makeshift Master, Prodigy, Legendary Prodigy, Unrivalled Prodigy, Horde Disciple I, Xenocidal, Infiltrator, Anomaly Breaker I, Rift Scion, Surpasser, Area Guardian I, Thrice Called Thrice Denied

System Coins

19,693

 

Strength

83

Dexterity

99

Constitution

123

Endurance

79

Intelligence

78

Wisdom

78

Perception

77

Luck

123

No new levels, it seemed harder to level up now, but maybe that’s because his level was beginning to outstrip that of the rest of area, with penalties for leveling. He wasn’t sure.

However, he had gotten a new title.

Thrice Called Thrice Denied: Within three seconds, recover from three separate events that should have killed you. +5 to Constitution and Luck. +3% to Constitution and Luck. ??? .

Both boosted good stats. Constitution kept him alive, and, as he’d seen when he’d become an Area Guardian, luck boosted the spawning of useful treasures in the surrounding area. Having a decent quantity of treasures in the surrounding area would be pivotal for growth of everyone nearby. In fact, if his luck was sufficiently disproportionate to the rank of an area, then it might provide high quantities of high quality treasures. Those could be crucial in developing himself, and everyone nearby.

He just needed to find them first.

The other notable thing were question marks at the end of the title. He didn’t like the look of those, but there was little he could do about them—and he certainly wasn’t going to go shopping around for a way to remove something that gave him fixed and percentage bonuses to his stats, at least not until he was certain the hidden effects were harmful.

Chris spent a few more moments catching his breath, then released the rope from the slimy clutches of his right arm—he couldn’t be bothered to unwind the grapple from the tower vine, but it would drop right off when the plant finally disintegrated. He stood and slung his pack back over his shoulders and continued making his way down.

This time he continued leisurely on down, taking the spiral of leaves rather than dropping vertically. He was far beyond the danger zone of tower vine disintegration, and he wasn’t being chased by a gryphon either. If anything, it was nice to just wind down a little.

\\\

Chris’ feet finally hit ground. The grapple and its rope lay in coils around the base of the vine—it had fallen when Chris was halfway down.

Chris picked it up. The rope along its length was very much frayed, and one of the iron prongs was bent and twisted from where it had impacted a stone upon landing. It was probably not all that useful anymore, but the thing had saved his life several times in his descent. He had an empty tower back in Kingscastle, the least he could do was frame the thing and place it on a wall somewhere.

Smiling, he tossed it onto the top of his pack.

The walk down had given him time to think about what came next. By the time he was at the bottom, he’d reached his decision.

He had wanted to set out immediately, but that was a fundamentally selfish decision. His quick rise in power had led to the area’s rank increasing. That would put every human nearby at risk. It wasn’t fair to ask everyone in Kingscastle and Hartshire to deal with strengthened adversaries while he was off adventuring and being the hero of lower ranked towns.

His luck had hopefully increased the spawning of treasures beyond what was reasonable for an F-2 area, it would be better to at least stay to help fend off the F-2 Beast Horde that would hit Hartshire. In the interim he could hopefully stack treasures onto the other humans all around, get them up to an unreasonable level of strength and allow everyone else to strengthen themselves.

There was another option: use all of the treasures to strengthen himself; however, he discarded it. At F-2, people would already be struggling, if he somehow brought himself up to F-3, the weakest of the humans would be unable to cope. Every death from that would be on his hands. Someone in the sway of mana, or with ice for blood, might be able to stomach it. Chris couldn’t. He was okay with that. Ignoring cost for power was something Gregor would do, was something Gregor did.

There was time afterward to go help other towns, but, right now, he had responsibilities.

He began walking toward Kingscastle, but paused when he saw a familiar figure, decked out in… spacious… armor. Bruce.

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