Collecting Runes – Chapter 70
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While the group had been waiting for others to climb up Ace had been quietly asking each new arrival to describe their experience. Everyone of them mentioned a feeling of having exceeded themselves or going beyond their abilities. After hearing Susan’s descriptions, Ace nods.

“Okay, now I want to invoke the clause of our oath related to dungeon based secrets. After talking to Jeremy last night and all of what I heard here, we have uncovered another horrible secret to take to our graves. All of you check your paths. There should be a new one called Limit Breaker I, which costs only a single point. Buy it now and share what it tells you so we can compare. Here’s mine.[System share Limit Breaker message.]”

{1 point applied to Limit Breaker I

1/1 - You saw a path beyond your means and because of a hunch that did not stop you from attempting it and in doing so have gone beyond what you thought were your limits. For doing so you have earned the recognition of the system. +1 general skill slot, +1 to All Stats/Level}

Susan follows suit and shares hers, which reads exactly the same. Sammy is the next to share, but there is a slight difference in the wording and rewards.

{1 point applied to Limit Breaker I

1/1 - You saw a path beyond your means and yet that did not stop you from attempting it and in doing so have gone beyond what you thought were your limits. For doing so you have earned the recognition of the system. +1 general skill slot, +1 to All Stats/Level, +5 Constitution}

The rest of them soon follow and their messages match Susans, though the extra stat points go to whatever they considered their prime stat. Og received agility, Ruby got Intelligence, and Jack of course had his Strength upped.

After seeing them all, Ace sighs, “I was afraid of that. I think we might have just found another reason not to talk too much about paths. By having it revealed to us, me and Susan got less rewards. I bet if you didn’t manage this on the first try without attempting to cheat, you wouldn’t get the path from the cliff ever. All we can do is hope the rest of the core group can manage it without too many prods. Jeremy, that lucky dog, even got a special path about being the first on Earth as well as five more stat points to another stat.”

“Anyway, the path is marked as just the first and yet for only a single point it gave us all an extra skill slot. My bet is that in the future, when we do something beyond our means, more of this path will open up and likely diverge. This first part had a generic message, and I bet it isn’t too rare for people to get. Though the fact that we have a cliff capable of doing it automatically on just the second floor of our dungeon probably isn’t as common. So once again to remind you, keep it a secret.”

“In the future we should focus on finding ways for people to cheat at climbing the cliff so only the people we clue in will attempt it. The cliff can’t be some all powerful thing, so likely even just a grappling hook will get around it, but that is for the future. Right now Susan can go and harvest all the plants while we take a break.”

While they are talking about this a certain fairy is celebrating in the core room. ‘Woot! I can get the limit breaker path again! Thank all the gods I haven’t leveled up yet. Limit breaker is one of those limited, heh, paths. You have to be level ten or below to receive it, otherwise the system considers you to be too enhanced by it to count. Soon as they have left the room, I am going to climb that cliff. Sadly, I won’t get the extra buff for not knowing about it, but that bird flew the coup a long time ago.’

Ally turns to Doyle but he seems a bit distracted so she flies over and knocks on his, ‘what’s up? Sad that you can’t climb the cliff yourself?’

Coming out of his daze, he shakes his core, ‘I don’t think I need too. I checked my available paths when they did and found my own version. It wasn’t there yesterday so I must have needed multiple people to breakthrough in my dungeon. Anyway, the path is called Earth’s First Home of the Limit Breakers I, and it only costs one point as well.’

Ally lands on his core and rolls around laughing. ‘Oh, that is wonderful! I haven’t heard of that one before. Though it isn’t like places that let you break your limits tend to be sapient and those that aren’t too talkative. Now put the point in it and let’s find out what you get!’

Doyle nods his core, ‘[System, apply one point to Earth’s first home of the limit breakers please].’

{1 point applied to Earth’s First Home of the Limit Breakers I

1/1 - Not only have five sapients broken through their limits within you, but you are the first place on your planet to have this happen. For providing a place that others can exceed themselves, you have earned the systems recognition. +1 general skill slot, +1 to All Stats/Level, any who break through their limits within your dungeon will leave a mark}

Ally reads it over and tilts her head to the side, ‘I wonder what it means by leaving a mark?’

Doyle hums as he feels around the cliff for an answer. Then he finds it, ‘oh, here it is. There is a literal mark for all seven of them hidden on the cliff. Also, they seem to be special in some way. After you climb the cliff, maybe you can take a look at them and see what is up.’

Ally quickly agrees as she flies out of the room. Ace’s party had just left the forest room, and she wanted to get started as soon as possible. She wasn’t the toughest of fairies so it shouldn’t take her long to reach the top, but she really doesn’t want to be interrupted.

When Ally has almost gotten to the cliff, she lands on the floor and walks over, not taking any chances. Up the cliff she climbs, one hand over the other, and before she knew it she was halfway up. Doyle just keeps to himself that she was the fastest person to reach that point. No need to talk about that.

As she gets to the top sweat pours off of her and she is breathing like a bellow but onward she pushes. One hand over another until she is right before the top. Her arms are shaking and by this point she has almost fallen off twice already, but she won’t let some stupid wall beat her. She pulls from deep within herself and reaches up again, but she is still a short distance from being done.

Ally hangs there for a brief moment but forces herself to push again. Waiting too long is the same as admitting defeat as far as the system is concerned, so she has no choice. Palms sweat, her one hand reaches upward, the shaking almost makes her miss the top of the cliff but she forces it still. One last pull and her small body goes up and over onto the flat ground above. It takes her more time than she would like to admit to even be able to tell the system to finish the path.

But she did, and the path is hers. Ally is a little disgruntled that compared to the others she put in such a bad showing. On the other hand, she has to admit her life has been somewhat pampered, so it isn’t like she can do much about it.

After some time to rest, she remembers her ability to fly isn’t related to actual physical exertion, so she rises up off the ground and stretches. ‘Well, that felt like more effort than the first time I did this. Though admittedly at that time I did it through magic, so I spent most of the recovery knocked out. Anyway, let me go check out those symbols. How about you lead me to them?’

Doyle takes another look over the cliff and yes, there was now an eighth symbol, though the closest one was almost directly under her. ‘Okay, can you see that pebble on the edge of the cliff that looks like a rounded square? No, not that one, the squarer one a little further on. The symbol is about halfway between the third and forth handhold directly below you. No, don’t count the handholds to the side of you, just the ones directly in line with where you started.’

After a little more guidance, Ally manages to find the symbol. ‘I have to admit, if you hadn’t directed me towards this thing I wouldn’t have found it.’

‘But you have found it now so what is it?’ Doyle shifts his view to the side as Ally gets up close to it.

She traces the symbol with her finger, ‘is there more to this symbol below the surface?’

Doyle takes a quick look, but there isn’t anything below the very surface layer. ‘No, I don’t see anything more. Even the carved lines are exactly the same depth from what I can tell.’

Ally nods, ‘that’s a shame then. This is a person’s personal rune or rather the start of one. Now don’t think of this like some sort of truename nonsense. That stuff is devil’s magic used to enforce contracts. These symbols? They are an innate part of a person without being connected to them. There are a lot of uses for them, but my guess is that they provide you with bonuses of some type. Check your logs. The system should put something there now that we’ve figured it out.’

Doyle shakes his core, ‘hopefully. It would be annoying if it kept trying to hide it.’

Ally shrugs, ‘well think about what it would be like without a system. You likely would not even notice they existed until they covered quite a lot of the cliff.’

Doyle sighs, ‘whatever, [system, tell me about the personal runes on the cliff].’

{Lesser Personal Rune of Jeremy Barrai: +5 Agility

Least Personal Rune of Ace: +1 Wisdom

Least Personal Rune of Susan Barrai: +1 Agility

Least Personal Rune of Sammy: +1 Constitution

Least Personal Rune of Og Pwner: +1 Agility

Least Personal Rune of Ruby: +1 Intelligence

Least Personal Rune of Jack Hammer: +1 Strength

Least Personal Rune of Ally Huxley: +1 Karma}

Ally looks over the list and nods. ‘That explains the very plain runes on your cliff. If you look over them all I bet one of them will have more depth to it and that would be Jeremy’s rune. You likely got a lesser rune from him because of him being the first limit breaker on earth and the first for your dungeon.’

‘Least and lesser’, Doyle sighs, ‘is this another measure outside of levels and paths? Because things seem to be stacking up. I don’t mind a few modifiers, but you would think this would be more streamlined.’

Ally laughs, ‘was life streamlined before the system? Why would you assume it would suddenly fit in one nice little box now? Anyway, those are part of the quality rating for stuff like runework, gems, and artwork. Technically, it also counts for stuff like the craftsmanship on armor, but there it only really matters when it hits the last step.’

‘The qualities from worst to best are least, lesser, simple, normal, detailed, and finally masterpiece. Though you can get things better than a masterpiece, but at that point you move into the realm of gods and the supernatural. It is like how without magic there is a minimum temperature, but magic lets things get colder. Real physics breaking stuff. Anyway, a lot has happened since you last checked your status. Let’s take a peak at them and see how your stats are doing.’

‘It has been a while’, Doyle laughs, ‘and to think in most games I played I would check the character sheets constantly. [System, show my status to me and Ally, please.]’

{Name: Doyle Huxley

Race: Dungeon Core (Strange Caverns)

Soulbond: Ally Huxley

Paths: [61] Dungeon Core II 10/10, Kobold Community 15/15, Goat Supremacy 20/20, Energy Well I 3/3, Commanding Subordinates 12/12, Ageless Queens 15/15, Earth’s First Home of the Limit Breakers I 1/1, Dungeon Core III 24/100, Vegetation Variety 10/20

Level: 1

S[15 > 16] A[12 > 19] C[20 > 21] I[14 > 15] W[16 > 17] P[13] D[18] K[25 > 26] L[17]

World Energy(/R per hour): 2500(270)

Skills [5/5 Class, 2/5+1 General]: Territory Control lv15, Dungeon Rules lv19, Universal Deconstruction lv10, Dungeon Pattern Database lv15 > 17, Creation(Energy Powered, Pattern Based) lv21, Conceptual Reinforcement lv17 > 24, Biosphere Balancing lv5 > 7}

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