“Yes, the skills I cast without the system are much more flexible, but also weaker.”
“That is because our brains cannot keep up with the complexity required to make the skills so strong from the get go. The system-less way to get there is to start by designing a weak version, mastering that until it’s natural, then adding onto it, yes. You cannot learn to fly before you learn to stand. But without the constraint of the system, you can try many different ways to stand.”
“So how is it that I could still somewhat reproduce the system skills?”
“Without realizing, you worked the other way around, the system forced you to fly, but you worked it backward to learn to stand. You stripped the skills to their simplest components. For now these are flexible, but if you want to make them stronger, you will have to up the complexity and master that step by step, meaning you will lose that flexibility. You could master it back to where the original skill was, then you can forget the skill without worry, that is the easiest way to do it because that requires no creativity on your part.”
“But this is not what I’m trying to do, right?”
“Exactly, what you want now is to take advantage of your [Mana manipulation] skill, and directly add another step to the existing system skill. The good thing is that it allows you to build up on an already strong skill, the bad thing is that you cannot unlearn it to free a skill slot. Because you’re still skipping the early learning parts.”
“Then time is the only thing preventing us from unlearning all the skills and just using our own magic from the templates the system provided?”
“Of course, back before the system, if people did magic, how do you think they did it? They didn’t even have the system to help. But thanks to the system, we can get there much faster. Or you could skip all of this and just use the system provided skills at all times, and accept to be limited.”
“I see. Thanks, I think I understand what I need to do.”
“Good, yes. Don’t feel rushed, what you want is to fully grasp the mana patterns of your armor skill, and then slowly modify the mana circuits. By moving and adding things, then using the skill to see what changed, you can work out in what direction you want to take it.”
The reason Zerei had Sofia level up [Summon blood] first was because it was the easiest, Sofia could dump all her mana in it at once before focusing on her armor.
After a few days of this, the skill had leveled up a lot, and Sofia finally got the hang of her armor skill, she knew that she could still not cast it as is without the system’s help but she understood how the mana moved in general. And that meant she could start the fun part of creating deviations in the flow of mana or straight up adding random circles to see what changed.
Most of the time, she couldn’t see anything really being different, and if she changed too much at once, the skill would usually fail. But at one point she managed a first change, the armor turned from white to yellowish white.
That’s a start… Not what I want though.
According to Zerei, hoping for a specific effect was not the way to go about this, the most efficient method by a very long shot being to try random things until something good came out and settling on it. You could always come back and try adding more when you felt comfortable enough with the new version. But of course, the more you added, the harder it got to add more.
Also logically adjacent things would usually require a very similar change. So by toying with the changes she had just made, Sofia managed to summon the armor in a few more colors.
That green is pretty but it won’t help me with the trial…
The group was training in that way in the rocky plains north-east of Couvauz, with Alith, Zerei and Pareth in constant battle training, while Sofia tinkered with her skill. She sat in the [Sun’s generosity] ritual while facing the ocean.
It took two weeks before Sofia managed to get a change she was happy with. Sadly it wasn’t the added sturdiness or bone density she had hoped for, but it was a decent change nonetheless. The repairs to the armor with the storage’s bones when it was damaged were a lot faster. That was all. It also seemed to consume a bit more bones than usual in the process, but that was barely an inconvenience considering how much reserve she could store.
Now even if it gets destroyed, I’ll be protected again an instant later. That doesn’t matter at all for taking a single hit, but in a long fight that can completely change the outcome.
Before, the armor was like a thick bone goo when it repaired itself, sluggishly filling the gaps before hardening. With this change it was more like whatever part of the armor was left grew back explosively to fill in any openings.
Sofia stopped Zerei to ask her how to keep that new version.
“Just cast it like that a few thousand times and the system will end up incorporating into its pattern, so you will no longer have to consciously alter it before casting. Be warned that it’s really hard to reverse it once it’s done, yes.”
At least that’s relatively straightforward… “A few thousands?”
“Yes. This is where you can thank [Mana manipulation] or it would be at least a five hundred times that. And maintain focus, if you mess up a cast you undo some progress, yes.”
Five hundred thousand times?! Yeah, no thanks, [Mana manipulation] is kind of a waste of a slot but also it’s really not. It helps make other slots more valuable. Sofia adjusted her sitting position. This is gonna be long… It takes me about fifteen seconds to activate the armor while doing the modification and deactivating it is about one more second… Ugh. “How do I know when it’s done?”
“You’ll get a system notification, don’t worry about it.”
The process was not as bad as Sofia feared, the more she did the same thing over and over, the faster she got at casting the modified armor skill. It took her about five thousand tries and ten hours of boring repetitive labor before she finally got a result.
[The skill: ‘Armor of Bones’ has been modified, congratulations!]
Sofia instantly noticed in her status that the level of the skill had disappeared, it still wasn't locked but it no longer had a level. She opened the description.
[Armor of Bones] : Gather and reform bones to create a bone armor protecting the Saintomancer. The armor can store up to 10 000 kg of bones it uses to repair itself rapidly.
Stocked bones : 5578kg.
‘[Summon Blood] reached level 88’
‘[Summon Blood] reached level 168’
This has also progressed well. The level almost doubled. Just how many tons of blood have I thrown down this cliff and into the ocean? At least it hasn’t attracted a giant sea worm.
Are giant sea worms a thing? I could probably ask Zarrow. But who am I kidding, if there are sand worms… Sofia gulped while looking at the peaceful waters below. At least for the whole time she was here she hadn’t seen much of anything larger than a big fish among the waves.
Zerei picked up on the fact that Sofia was no longer deactivating her armor, she stopped flying around Alith dodging all of her strikes and landed near Sofia. “Are you done, yes?”
“I am. That took forever…”
“This is just the beginning! Now let’s switch things up, help me make a training device for Alith, yes.”
Sofia understood that she should be getting some bones out of her storage and Alith looked scared behind Zerei. Did her ego take a hit? Or is fighting with Zerei that bad? “What should I do?”
“Start by making a flat base, then add a vertical wall about the size of a door. Yes, just like this, now add another one next to it but half the height. There. Alith, your training now it for [Planar shift]. First you squat in front of the small wall then jump over it. Then you turn to your ghost form, force your way through the higher wall, and turn back to human form. Do that until you get the skill to at least level 50.”
Alith was confused at the exercise, “Why can I not just turn to ghost and back without the extra steps?”
“This is all just my intuition, yes. But I believe by making some effort in both forms it will make sure you are fully switched from one to the other, making it more effective. It should also help against the diminishing returns if there are any. Also it’s good physical training, yes. If you get bored, you can take one of your sleep candies and train while fighting sleep.”
“Actually, Sofia, make the walls thicker, yes. Now we’ll train your breathing skill, I have a good ritual to make light.”
Thanks for the chapter