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89 By himself

You unblocked a new Stat!

Mental Energy!

Helial fixed his curious gaze at the pop-up. Apparently, he was wrong in thinking that Flame of the Qilin could be used limitlessly. It did require some effort indeed. Mental Energy was quite similar to Stamina, but it used brain energy rather than physical ones.

Helial opened his Stat window and checked it out. The Mental Energy Stat had added up to the others, unlike Stamina, that was a hidden Stat that wouldn't be viewed.

Name: Helial

Race: Human

Title: King's Pupil

Primary Class: None

Primary Affinity: Light

Primary Profession: None

Level: 85

Exp: 654,988/1,530,000

HP: 11,000/11,000

MP: 50,090/50,090

Strength: 185

Vigor: 203

Mental Energy: 210,324/210,324

Intelligence: 240

Wisdom: 195

Dexterity: 140

Effects:

Physical Resilience: 5%

Vitality Regeneration: 1800%

Health Regeneration: 1800%

Physical Resilience: 3000%

Resistance to Magic: 3000$

Stat Points to be sorted out: 402

Helial glanced at the Stat Points he hadn't sorted out yet. According to the Devil, he'd better leave them unsorted for now. The Devil had indeed suggested that he moved Points from one Stat to another just if strictly necessary. Stats could advance during the training. The lowest they were, the more effective the training would be.

Helial cast a glance at the Mental Energy; it seemed to have regenerated the second the Stat had appeared.

With a wave of his fingers, Helial had the window disappear. Only the line he was interested in was left visible.

Mental Energy 210,324/210,324

He inhaled deeply. Without his expression changing, he joined his hands.

Skill Activated:

Flame of the Qilin

Mental Energy 210,314/210,324

Only a few seconds had followed Flame of the Qilin's activation, and the ME Stat had already lost ten points.

(NdA: ME stands for Mental Energy).

The others were still staring at him, trying to see through his actions. Helial didn't take notice though. He was so intensely focused that everything seemed to have disappeared.

The boy got lost deep in thought. He wondered why he felt so tired a few moments before, after manipulating the flame. "Could it depend on how much I alter its original form? Like when I use it in circle around my body before an attack?" he whispered to himself.

He made up his made to do a few little experiments and grasp how those so complicated Flame and Skill worked. He focused his mind on the white flame rising before him. He tried to touch it through some sixth sense. He sensed a gentle warmth. Then, he tried to intensify it by matter of will.

Suddenly, the palm the flame rouse up from heated up. It was as though the temperature slightly rouse. Slightly… well, air was so hot that the heat emitted by Flame of the Qilin distorted it. Helial didn't notice. He only saw his friends' forehead covered in beads of sweat.

Helial furrowed his eyebrows. "Well, Mental Energy control is way more mysterious than I thought." He cast a glance inside his Soul. He saw the Devil sitting with his arms crossed and the bat-patterned apron on.

"Will you teach it to me, Master?" Helial asked. At this point, the Devil was Helial's anchor. He trusted him almost with his life.

"Mental Energy usage is a delicate matter. It's reserved to some kinds of warriors only. I'm not an expert, I must say. My strong suit is Mana Control. Given my level though, I can teach you handle Mental Energy all the way to Immortality all the same… However, I think you're the one who needs to find a way to control it. And I have never used a flame. I'm pretty sure you'll end up with an unconventional way to use it. After all, Shithead, there must be something you learn without my help."

Helial cussed in whispers. This time he must do it by himself. He shot a glance at the Stat, and noticed that the figures had changed.

Mental Energy 209,845/210,324

He raised an eyebrow. "The usage rate increases visibly when I change the flames properties…" An idea flashed across his mind. "Let's see if…"

He slowly began to spread the flame radius until he created a flaming globe with a three meters diameter that glided in front of him.

Mental Energy 208,845/210,324

He got that right! He grasped the basics about how the new Stat worked! Just like he suspected, Mental Energy kind of worked like Mana; the more complex the action, the greater the ME consumption. And if ME really did work like Mana, he would find a way to increase its efficiency and diminish the cost at the same time, to gain the utmost result with the minimum effort.

He concluded Flame of the Qilin must become his utmost priority. He would cease training the rest of his Skills to focus entirely on this white flame. One day, it could turn out to be his trump card in fighting. The Skill's destructive power was unparalleled. Even Mana Pistol couldn't compare the damage output of Flame of the Qilin, and his slashes couldn't even hope to.

Finally, Helial put out the flame and turned towards his group. They had walked away to escape the heat the flame gave off. They had also started meditating. By focusing on Communion with Mana, they could restore the Mana lost while fighting against the Un-Dead.

Snowflake suddenly opened his eyes. "Are you done playing with your fucking flame? Because of you I almost risked damaging my magnificent fur." Helial shrugged. The cat curled his face up. He went on talking nervously. "Up to now it was a piece of cake, asshole. What do you know about the Boss?"

Helial shook his head and said: "The Merchant Guild only explored the first level. We're by ourselves now."

Snowflake grumbled: "Drippy Goblins. How much shit must a Goblin eat up before he realizes how easy it is to do a complete recognition? They wasted their chance to get the Bonuses available to whoever explores the Dungeon first, and they didn't even scout the whole area. Goblins suck. Fucking useless bipeds…"

It seemed to be a very tough day for Snowflake's nerves. That spooky scenery was making him feel very little at ease. His beautiful candid fur was constantly threatened by dust, Un-Dead's putrefying body pieces, and even Helial's damned flame! How was he supposed to keep his cool?

Lumia stopped meditating and opened her eyes. She turned towards Helial and gave him a beaming smile. Communion with Mana had definitely helped. Her face looked fresh and relaxed. "Shall we go?"

Helial gazed up at the sky, deep in thought. They had defeated that level's Un-Dead very easily, which meant they wouldn't get many benefits from fighting against others just like them. They clearly needed to go to the next floor.

"Yeah, let's clear the last floor and practice our new Skills," Helial nodded. "We must make the fullest use of what this Dungeon has to offer. As far as items are concerned though, I don't really think that common monsters can actually give us something valuable. Maybe the Boss could."

Helial had just said out loud something everyone was actually thinking; none of them had much hope about that Dungeon's drops. After all, it was a very low-level Dungeon. The items provided by the Merchant Guild, thanks to Caliban, already overtopped the best they could hope to get there!

Ah, the items!

Helial had almost forgot! Up to then, they had been using temporary Equipment that could fit any practitioner under the First Phase. It was time for some changing.

Helial glanced down at his Interspace Ring.

Equipped Item: Call of the Mermaid

Effects: Available Space +50m³

Helial gave a sigh. He dug out all the items he carried inside Call of the Mermaid one by one. That Interspace Ring was the ultimate comfort. Inside of it, Helial was carrying food and water rations for an year, his and the others' armor sets, and there was still some room left.

Every group member had their Interspace Ring. The size of most capacious one though only reached as much as a dozen cubic meters. Call of the Mermaid, on the other hand, could contain five times as much as that. Being the King's pupil, Helial was entitled to bigger privileges than any of them.

They all started wearing their new Equipment except for Helial and Snowflake. The boy only wore a couple of pieces, while the cat had refused every Equipment.

"Why aren't you wearing anything?" Lulu asked the big furry cat.

"Tsk. This Emperor Cat needs none of the crap you bipeds are wearing to protect your frail skin. This Emperor Cat's fur itself makes a greater treasure than any shit you might wear whatsoever. If I tried to replace my inner properties with some silly accessory, I would make my entire race blush with shame!"

Helial nodded. He agreed with Snowflake, since the same went for him as well. Besides a couple of pieces that gave him some strength and dexterity points, the effects of that Equipment were depressingly mediocre. They could even be in the way during a fight. And Body of the Qilin was by far more powerful than any Equipment.

When everyone was finally ready, they began to walk slowly towards the entry of the third floor as they effortlessly cleared the area from the hordes of Un-Dead they found along the way.
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