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33 A bloodcurdling cry

Some years earlier

"Master, don't you think it's time you taught me how to wield a weapon?" asked Helial, fed up with the middle aged man's chatter.

Vidio seemed to consider it for a while, then replied: "Kid, which Mastery would you like to learn? What about the Staff? Because you know, I know a legend about a man that once…"

"NO, I BEG YOU, NO", cried Helial exasperated.

"You see…"

Helial put his hands over his ears and began screaming: "BLABLABLABLA."

Vidio did not show the slightest hint of annoyance at that and kept going: "The Staff is one of the most well-rounded weapons. The legends tell of Immortals able to wield this weapon that can…"

"I doubt you're good at wielding your staff, seeing how the women of the tavern react when they see you", sneered Helial.

Vidio looked puzzled for some seconds, before understanding the not-so-subtle banter. "Damn brat, today's going to be the day I have you scrub the floor with your tongue!"

"Easy, easy." Helial raised his hands in surrender, still with a sneering grin. When he managed to pull a straight face again, he added: "The Sword, Master. I want to learn the Mastery of the Sword. I'm not interested in any other weapon."

Vidio raised an eyebrow.

"Why?"

Helial rolled his eyes, then after a few moments of silence he looked again at Vidio and said: "Master, shall we get started?"

"Eh-ehm", Vidio cleared his throat.

"I'd like to learn to use Skills to attack both at melee and long range. I don't like neither bows nor spears. The Staff that you mentioned before… I don't care for that either. I don't want a well-rounded weapon. I want to wield a sword; I don't know why but I feel it's the right weapon for me."

Vidio looked a little taken aback by Helial's determination. It seemed that the little brat had a clear idea about what weapon to use…

***

In the present, Outpost of Alabard

"Master, what kind of weapon do you use? Only the Staff?" asked one of the generals.

"Hehehe, you know, I'm very good with the staff", Vidio winked at him.

The general, who clearly didn't get the joke, stared at him with a puzzled look on his face.

Vidio sighed. These boorish military people…

"Well, I became a Master when I was still very young", Vidio scratched his head, "I didn't have a chance to master many other weapons. I know how to wield a sword, of course, and even a bow, but both Masteries are at a very low level. I'm still stuck at the Beginner stage, so I think I'll stick to my beloved Staff."

The general nodded. It was nothing unheard of. When a Mana Warrior or someone belonging to a different class chooses to master a weapon, this will accompany them for the rest of their lives. That was why choosing the right fighting tool was so important. Besides, making the Mastery of a weapon level up was not at all easy.

A Mastery is similar to a Skill, but varies depending on the ability with a single weapon and allows not only to get Bonuses on attacks and Skill, but these Skills also usually require the Mastery to be at a certain level to be learned.

Vidio clenched his fists and looked at the window he had opened while talking to the general.

Passive Skill:

Mastery of the Sword

Lv: 3

Vidio sighed; that was one of the reasons why he could never teach anything to Helial. Plus, hard training with a weapon or magic was required to learn these passive Skills. There are Masteries both for weapons and elemental magic, but they are very special and mysterious Skills.

Every Skill has levels, secondary levels and stages. While a Skill is at Beginner stage, the stage is not displayed together with the level. The three most common stages are: Beginner, Master and Grandmaster. The remaining stages were mostly unknown, since they belonged more to the legends than in the real world.

In order to pass from Beginner to Master stage, the Skill had to reach level 20 of the Beginner stage. Then, between Master and Grandmaster stage there were other 10 levels, each as difficult to surpass as a mountain and so far from each other as the distance between heaven and earth.

In general, the Effects of a Skill change only based on increases of level or secondary levels, and in some cases based on efficiency. But the Passive Skills of Masteries were a totally different thing. It required a lot of time to level up but, even at the same level, they could differ greatly one from the other.

Mastery of the Sword level 3 could vary in strength based on someone's Affinity with the weapon. Just like with elements, every person shows an inclination towards some kinds of Magic or weapons.

For example, there are people whose constitution is more suited for Fire Magic and others for Light Magic. But no one knows for sure on what these parameters are based. Common folks think that these are totally random values. But it seems that the high echelons of the Mana Congregation are in possession of information on the matter. However, the information is so secret that no one knows what position is necessary to reach to obtain it.

Anyway, to gain access to these Passives, the first step is reaching the First Phase, in which Meridians undergo all necessary changes to learn new Skills and to clearly define the Elemental Affinity.

***

You entered Dungeon 'Wolf Lair'.

Helial looked at the notification window in front of him. It seems like I'm not the first one to discover this Dungeon…

The first person to find a Dungeon earns special Bonuses for ten days, including double the Experience and money earned, and the chance to find objects created from the killing of Monsters.

Wolves, uh?

Helial was standing inside the cave, in a vast circular space, and only one path opened in front of him.

Many Dungeons were huge mazes full of deadly traps, but this was a low-level one. Probably it had just the one path.

We'll see…

Helial took a couple of steps forward, his right hand tightly grasping Curse of the Demon. The veins on his arms were pulsating because of the incredible weight of the weapon.

A wolf in the First Phase could have weighed 2000 pounds at most, but Curse of the Demon alone must have weighed 2500 pounds. A dead weight…

Helial's relationship with that weapon was not great. Before going in, he had tried to check the window of Information of the Longsword one more time, but could not do it even with Mana Scan. It was a lost cause. He would have to find someone with Mana Scan at least at the Master stage.

Despite all his attempts made after coming back from Kirin's dimension, it seemed like the Longsword was unwilling to show him anything more. He could only give up and look for someone more knowledgable than him.

He warily stepped forward.

Skill Activated:

Perception

He began condensing Mana on his left hand, a frown on his face.

Raaawr!

Suddenly, a wolf leaped from behind a rocky spur, pouncing on Helial with his open maw.

Skill Activated:

Mana Pistol

Helial did not lose time. He reached for the head of the beast with his left hand and…

BOOM!

The head of the monster exploded in a pink mist.

Helial spun around immediately, ignoring the notification windows.

Skill Activated:

Flame of the Qilin

He let the flaming tongues engulf the sword and slashed at another boulder.

Fwoosh!

The boulder was hacked in two and with it also the Black Wolf that was hiding behind it.

Black Wolf lost 5432 HP!

You killed Black Wolf!

"Lumia, stay close. Let's go."

The little girl walked on carefree, following her big brother as if she were going on a picnic with her boyfriend.



This Aura… There is such a creature on this planet… Is it possible?



Helial looked around. Thanks to Perception he had sensed a very powerful Aura, probably a Black Wolf over level 60 in the First Phase.

He began condensing Mana once more, getting ready to use Mana Pistol.

He had reached a round room in the Dungeon. The room had stone walls and rocky spurs all around it.

The Black Wolf was 100 feet from him but did not try to show itself.

"What's happening, why is it not attacking?" muttered Helial.

It seemed that the monster was not planning on coming out in the open, so Helial kept getting closer very slowly, after bekoning Lumia to keep at a distance.

When he got very close to the spur where the Black Wolf was hiding, Helial jumped in the air and, when he flew above the rocky spur, he activated the Skill.

Boom!

The monster, even before getting hit, yelped and put its muzzle to the ground, as if it were terrifyied by something.

The Mana bullet hit it right in the back where it left a deep wound, so deep that the bones were showing.

Black Wolf lost 2432 HP!

Black Wolf has suffered a Malus: Serious Bleeding!

Effects: the opponent loses 40 HP per second until the bleeding stops!

Why didn't it try to react?

After getting hit, the monster seemed to get out from a kind of trance and achieve a new state of consciousness.

RAAAWR

It growled and its eyes turned crimson.

A bloody Aura surrounded the shiny black fur of the wolf. The eyes of the monster flashed with fierceness. It was as if the wound just inflicted were strengthening more than weakening it.

Skill Activated:

Flame of the Qilin

Helial did not loose his cool not even for a second. While he was still midair, he used Flame of the Qilin to turn the wolf into ash. He had a cold look on his face; he wanted to kill it fast.

A ring of flames surrounded the monster, but it managed to escape death leaping to the side.

The tongues of fire melted the stone where the four paws of the wolf were a moment before. Witnessing that scene, the creature felt intimidated but it had made up its mind to tear that stupid kid to pieces, one way or another.

Having dodged the attack, the wolf seized the moment Helial landed on the ground to jump on him.

Its jaws snapped shut around Helial's left arm, which the kid had used to protect his neck.

Stupid human, you might as well say goodbye to your arm!

A sparkle of joy lightened up in the wolf's crazy eyes, but it lasted only a second.

CLANG

It was like biting down on a steel plate.

Helial glanced at a notification.

You lost 8 HP

The look on the wolf's face changed immediately, when he realized he had just barely scrached the skin of the brat.

"Dead."

Boom!

Helial mercilessly lowered Curse of the Demon against the side of the wolf, completely shattering its ribcage.

You killed Black Wolf!

You earned 7435 Exp!

This time he had earned a lot more experience than the previous wolves.

Helial clenched his fist and the air all around him crackled.

Crack

Could he be considered strong now?

"Helial!" Lumia ran towards him.

No, kept thinking Helial, maybe he possessed the same strength as a mediocre monster.

He picked up the fur…

What's this?

Helial spotted something pearly white, while the carcass of the Black Wolf dissolved in a beam of gray light. He took the object with his thumb and forefinger to give it a better look. It was a fang.

Skill Activated:

Mana Scan

Name: Black Wolf Fang

Consumption: 6/10

Can be used to forge weapons and armors.

Value: ???



Is he picking up also that kind of crap? Shithead…



Well, this should make me at least a couple of silver pieces. It wouldn't be a bad idea to stay here killing wolves and picking up objects to sell in the town markets… Besides, I could even stay he-

His train of thought was cut short by a bloodcurdling cry…

MIAAAAAAOWWWW
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