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14 Life is no piece of cake

Helial opened his Stats window.

Name Helial

Race Human

Primary Class None

Primary Affinity None

Primary Profession None

Level 18

Exp 18.566/30.000

HP 2890/2890

MP 29.390/29.390

x0,05

Strength 117

x0,05

Vigor 123

Intelligence 163

Wisdom 132

Dexterity 115

Effects:

Physical Resilience: 5%

Helial thought: Is that possible? I can't possibly have gained points so easily. I have just been dragging this shitty thing around… The physical training that I've been doing in the past was far tougher, even if now I have twenty times less Strength, Stats always increase according to their basic value and to Buffs, but Maluses cannot influence that…

He could not understand what was going on. The only thing he had done… Of course! Mana Reflowing! Could it be…

Helial was deep in thought, when he heard a noise in the distance.

Kwiiii!

Skill Activated:

Perception

Taken by surprise, he had deactivated all Skills. He should have been more careful, but that sudden increase in the Stats Points had thrown him off.

Two of them, coming from East.

Helial let the Longsword fall to the ground. He was unable to lift the weapon, so trying to use it to fight would have been a waste of time and energy. He checked the density of the two Auras, which resulted being around level 20, maybe 25. He could take them.

He started charging Mana Pistol, while keeping Perception activated. He was tracking the two Goblins' route. It was somewhat weird to see only two of them, and Helial did not want any other surprises.

Unfortunately, given his very limited stock of Mana, he had to push his body to its limits one more time.

Skill Activated:

Communion with Mana

Lv: 1

You are able to flow the power of Mana through the most suitable Meridians.

You can move while storing and regenerating your Mana.

Exp: 5.2%

Effects:

MP Regeneration: 200 Mana/Sec

Skill Amplification: 3%

Physical Abilities Amplification: 1,3%

Helial suddenly felt a piercing pain in the head. Keeping those Skills on all at the same time was taxing on his body. Blood started dripping from all his facial orifices. It was a horrifying sight; he looked like some sort of demon. But he had no choice if he wanted to fight. He had cautiously activated the Mana Pistol Skill on only one arm.

When he fought against the three Goblins, he had reached a level of absolute Concentration that prevented him from suffering serious injuries in the battle. Now it would have been impossible to repeat that feat. It was not a condition that could be developed from out of nowhere. Helial had barely reached that level, but he would need to train hard to succeed in that again.

The Goblins were approaching. Those creature did not have a great affinity with Mana, so they were unlikely to possess Perception Skills at such a low level. Helial made a mental note to learn some Skills that could protect him from Perception or Divine Sense. If instead of two low-level Goblins, he had run into a Goblin in the First Phase, he would have been detected for sure. Luckily for him, in the woods there were only recon squads with orders to search the area for food and firewood. High-level troops were engaged in the attack. For now, he could breathe a sigh of relief.

He could breathe more easily now, long deep breaths with his eyes closed. He was attaining a very high level of focus. He felt the Mana condensing on his finger to its maximum density.

The Goblins were now at about fifty yards from him. They were probably just two Infantry Goblins searching for firewood and things like that.

Helial had to get rid of them quickly. He could not let one escape. besides, they were an excellent source of Exp. Four of five more Goblins and he could level up. He had to become as strong as possible in a very short time.

Kwiiiii!

"These humans are really weak", said one Goblin, "how come there is no one to defend these lands? The Senate did not want to send high-level troops… Attacking humans without anyone in the Fourth Phase…"

"What are you worrying for? This is no business of ours", replied the other, "we need to get the firewood ready for the siege of the outpost, go look for some dry shrub instead of talking crap."

The voice of the Goblin had yet to die out, when Helial jumped out from behind a tree. Thanks to Perception he could aim accurately. Mana exploded from his hand in the shape of a bullet.

BOOM!

You delivered a Critical Hit!

Infantry Goblin lost 7045 HP!

The notification of the killing and Exp popped up, but Helial ignored them. It was not over.

The shot hit the Goblin right in the face. A headless greenish body fell on the ground.

But it was not time to relax yet. Helial started to condense Mana on his fingertips once again. He had to take out the other Goblin as soon as possible. He could not afford any mistakes. He began to run away, as if he wanted to escape. The Goblin was taken aback and ran after him after some time.

"Where are you running, man cub?! Come here and I'll teach you a lesson!" bellowed the Goblin. It was trying to remain calm but he had just witnessed the death of his companion. How could he not want to kill Helial?

What the Goblin did not know was that Helial was leading him deep into the forest.

20, 21, 22…

The Skill was almost ready to be activated. The Goblin had almost caught up with him. Despite his Dexterity, Helial had no more Strength in his legs. The Goblin was just more than 5 feet away.

27, 28, 29…

Helial spun around, facing the Goblin that had raised its sword as soon as it noticed that the other was slowing down. The Goblin was ready to swing a blow, but he saw Helial's hand lighting up.

"Wha-" he did not make it till the end of the sentence.

BOOM!

This time the Mana bullet hit the Goblin in the neck, leaving a huge hole where the trachea had once been.

You delivered a Critical Hit!

Infantry Goblin has lost 4353 HP!

The Goblin fell on its knees. He reached for his neck, then tried to open its mouth. The light went out of its eyes, while blood was gushing through its thin greenish fingers.

You killed Infantry Goblin!

You earned 5.500 Exp!

He had earned another 4.000 Exp Points from the mission.

You levelled up!

You reached Level 19!

Helial sorted all the points just earned to Intelligence. He needed to maximize the damage inflicted by Mana Pistol. Intelligence directly influenced on the quantity of Mana possessed and on the damage of Skills with direct Mana usage.

***

In the cave

Lumia was trying as hard as she could to flow Mana inside her body. Since when she had started absorbing it, she had noticed that the Energy was softly caressing her Meridians. It was an unusual feeling. As if someone were rocking her in very strong arms. Her Mana was stable and powerful.

Unlike Helial's, Lumia's Mana did not threaten her body. While Helial possessed a kind of violent and impetuous Mana, the one flowing inside Lumia's Meridians was mellow and placid. When absorbing Energy, she visualized the image of a gigantic tree. It looked like a century-old oak tree, with branches that bent towards her to caress her round cheeks.

That feeling soothed her. She had almost forgot everything about the war that was going on a few miles from there. She had been practicing to flow her Mana for almost half a day and the feeling was so pleasant that the cave had become her whole world.

Her brother had told her that she needed to condense a Mana Seed very soon. She had to succeed, she could not let him down. Until a couple of days earlier, Helial had always protected Lumia. He had never allowed her to work. Lumia had always felt guilty for not being able to help her big brother. Now she could change things, this was her chance to help Helial.

Her brother had told her that her Meridians were suitable for Support Skills. Actually, Helial was not sure either. He was not a Master of the Congregation and, despite his extraordinary control over Mana, he did not have the necessary experience to make that kind of statement.

Lumia kept flowing her Mana. Her body was strengthening little by little. Mana was literally nourishing her Meridians and her small muscles. She had already earned several Stat Points.

You earned 1 Intelligence Point!

Lumia was earning point after point, especially in Intelligence.

***

Outpost of Alabard

Vidio was leisurely sipping a glass of wine, ready to depart in the early afternoon. The Commander had ordered him to leave immediately, but he was a Master of the Congregation and could not be ill-treated that easily. He had decided to rest a few days before obeying.

He was feeling quite guilty for deserting his city without putting up a fight, but what could he have done? He was still in the Second Phase.

I wonder if Helial…, thought Vidio. I wonder where he is, how he is doing. That boy was my ticket to get back into the National Council's good graces. I have never seen such a talent for Mana Control. Not even that brother of his had such control, and he was a monster…

Vidio had known Helial's brother. After all, who did not know him in the Nation of Fiercelake? He was a promising yet terrifying young man, whose name sent shivers down people's spines. He had managed to reach the highest spheres in the Nation in just ten years' time, becoming one of the most influential people in the Nation. He had founded a guild, gathering the cream of the Nation's men. That Guild was at the same level of the great Clans and of the Mana Congregation. No one knew where he had found such monsters and, more than that, how he could keep them on a leash. All in all, the people inside the Nation's borders that would dare to be disrespectful towards that man could be counted on one hand.

Vidio sensed that there is something weird about the relationship between Helial and his brother. Why would someone so powerful and famous abandon his younger siblings in a forgotten village?

Vidio had a theory in mind… And if he were right, helping Helial would have been a great mistake.

But he too had contacts in the capital, despite the distance. Many people still owed him favors. If he had been able to bring Helial inside the Congregation, with his huge talent, not even an influential person like the brother would have dared to touch him.

However… There was a good chance that Helial had already been killed by the Goblins.

Vidio sighed: "That boy is innocent. I should have taught him the basics of fighting and some useful Offensive Skills. For four years, I focused on the basics, to refine that incredible talent to the highest level. And these are the results… life is no piece of cake; maybe that long period of peace we enjoyed did us more harm than good…"
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