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Chapter 16

Age 749, Friday, July 19, Near the Peak

I awoke slowly, shifting slightly in my mat, away from the light filtering through the side of the tent.

Opening my eyes slightly showed the translucent blue window I had grown used to seeing every morning.


You’ve slept on a mat! HP, MP, and Ki fully restored!


With a negligent swipe of the hand, I dismissed the window and closed my eyes again, enjoying the warmth and comfort the mat offered for a few more minutes, before finally getting up.

Scratching my back and craning my neck out of sheer habit, I yawned once again, pulling a NutriBar out of my inventory and unwrapping it, before taking quick bites.

Unzipping the entrance open, I pushed the tent flap away and stepped out of my temporary shelter, feeling the cold chill in the air, waking me up completely.

I turned my face towards the steadily rising sun, its sheer heat and light forcing the cold away with every passing second as the sky slowly lightened into its signature light blue color.

I quickly went through the process of breaking camp, pulling the stakes out of the ground and returning all of the supplies into their Capsule, which I then put in my inventory.

I stared down towards the lake in the far distance, and began to make my way down.

The rocky terrain still felt cold to the touch, but that didn’t bother me as I swiftly made my way down, feeling energized from the night’s rest, as well as getting swept up in my excitement.

Soon, I would have answers to questions I’d long since given up on.

With that thought, I quickened my pace, still maintaining my careful approach to climbing down; but as time passed and the land began to slowly level out, I hurried even more.

In about half the time it took for me to get up that mountain, I was already at the base, switching back to my [All-Terrain Shoes] and continuing my trek towards the fortune-teller’s palace.

It was a matter of a few hundred km left. Feeling a little impatient, I began to sprint at full speed— I could maintain this for three hours at this point in my training, before being afflicted with the [Exhaustion] debuff.

I’d also learned a little trick to it all a few weeks back- and I honestly felt a little stupid for not trying it beforehand.

If I rested for fifteen minutes, then, for whatever reason, the timer would reset and I could go full blast once more.

I hadn’t totally abused this particular aspect just yet, but I planned to during my training with Master Roshi.

And, I suppose, now, too.

Activating [Sprint], I dashed across the land for the next two and a half hours, going as fast as a car— slower than my boat’s enhanced speed, but still fast enough to watch the land fly me by.

But, even at this speed, I realized that it would probably still take me more than three hours.

I ended up stopping at the two hour, forty minute mark, slowing back down to a walk as I pulled my bottle of water from the inventory, greedily consuming the liquid.

It was odd, I thought as I kept my eye on my surroundings. I didn’t bleed, but I still needed to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom, which meant there was still fluid in my body.

I’d never really thought about it before— mostly because I didn’t want to even think about it.

Chichi had noticed it, of course. In our first weeks sparring together, she would try to patch me up, only to find that my “wounds” didn’t bleed, and had a slight red glow to them.

I told her I didn’t really know why it was like that now, but the girl was smart. She’d picked up on the half truth, but didn’t pry— well, she did try, once.

That was probably the one time I’d been short with her. My secrets were my own, after all.

She’d taken the hint pretty quickly and let things go, though she took it out on me during spars.

But, she eventually calmed down, realizing that I needed to trust her in order to divulge any of my secrets.

I was sure that if things got really serious between us, then I would probably tell her everything.

Maybe. Hell, I hadn’t even told my mother. Plus, what would it even change if I did tell them?

They already knew I was capable of supernatural feats— Chichi was also capable of some, so it’s not like anything would have changed.

With a careless shrug, I resumed my run, activating [Sprint] every now and again, but my mind was too preoccupied to do it often.

A quick check to my Ki pool showed that it was at about 80%; the skill really was costly.

Though, it became less so with every level I gained, as well as every time I’d levelled up my [Ki User] skill.

The scenery slowly shifted as the time passed. Hillsides and forests began to change into flatlands and small shrubs, until I finally set my eyes on the lake I’d be running towards for the past five and a half hours.

I could see the palace in the distance, the air around it shimmering— the effect of the heat? Or something else?

I couldn’t tell.

The palace itself was an oddity, I noted whole studying the structure. Four buildings over the water with small passages connected to the main building.

It was a remarkable feat of engineering— or, probably some kind of magic if I thought about it.

I kept my walk nice and steady, watching the palace get bigger as [Gamer’s Mind] erased the stubbornly building fear until all that remained of it was a small muted shade.

I spied a few figures exiting the palace, though I couldn’t really tell what was going on from this distance. Frowning, I pulled out the binoculars and got a better look.

It seemed as if a group of five men were bolting away in fear, carrying one of their fallen friends and loading him into a car, before driving off away.

Near the entrance was a.. Wispy looking creature wearing a straw hat— it floated there for a few moments, before suddenly shifting its eyes directly at me, its smile incredibly wide.

I reflexively pulled off my binoculars, feeling a chill run up my spine before forcibly being calmed down. Honestly, if I didn’t have [Gamer’s Mind], I would have gone through four different mental breaks.

At least that many.

I looked through the binoculars again. Its creepy eyes were still trained on me, but the creature waved a little wispy nub at me, beckoning me forward.

So, I obliged the ghost thing, striding forward until I reached the fortuneteller’s palace.

The ghost was there waiting, still staring at me with its soulless eyes as I cast [Observe].


Ghost Usher – Lv 8
Race – Human [Deceased]
Age – 823

HP: 1,500

Having long since lost his identity, Ghost Usher was recruited by the fortune-teller to work as an attendant for any of her visitors.

Battle Power: 2


“Welcome!” It said brightly as I came closer. “Are you here for your fortune to be told?”

I blinked at its high pitched voice, as well as its strangely servile demeanor, before replying. “No, I’m here to see the fortune-teller, though.”

It stared at me for a moment, before smiling even wider and floating forward a moment. “Very well! Fortune-teller Baba is currently preoccupied with a guest. I will call for you when it’s your turn!”

I nodded at the information, watching the little ghost float away from me. This was a dead person, but he was here in the living world. How?

Was there life after death, somehow? There had to be, if I just had an exchange of words with a dead guy. This fortune-teller could mess with the souls of the dead, and bind them to her whim?

Just who was I coming to see?

My thoughts were broken up by a morose looking man, in his mid-to-late forties exiting the premises, muttering about thieving ex-wives and throwing a capsule, revealing a top of the line aircraft, which he boarded and swiftly flew away in.

“Sorry for the wait!” The pink ghost said from right behind me, startling me. It continued as if it hadn’t even noticed my reaction. “This way, please!”

It floated slowly into the entrance, heading out onto the bridge leading to the large structure at the center of this set of buildings. I followed as it beckoned me to follow it once more.

“Are you really dead?” I dared to ask the ghost in front of me.

It stopped for a long moment, giving me an eerie look, before giggling and nodding vigorously in the affirmative.

I opened my mouth to further question the floating dead man, but he began to speak as we entered the main building.

“I’ve brought the latest one.” The ghost called out into the darkness of the building. I frowned, trying to peer into the darkness to see who he was talking to.

That’s when I saw it.

Up above, I could see a glowing ball slowly descend to the center of the room, bathing everything in a green glow.

“Hoi.” A voice came from the ball— wait, no, it was a little above. I squinted a little, seeing a small form sitting on top of the floating ball.

The glow ended abruptly, and the lights came on, revealing a diminutive, weathered old crone, sitting atop a crystal ball. She was wearing a witch’s hat, as well as robes.

“Oh my, this one’s very young.” The old crone spoke, her voice somewhat deeper than I’d anticipated from someone her size. She clasped her hands together.

I stared at her for a moment, before trying an [Observe].


?-?-?-?

?-?-?
Race – ?
Age – ?

HP: ?
MP: ?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Battle Power: ?


“An interesting trick.” The old crone fixed an interested look upon me. “And one I’ve never quite seen before. At least, not applied in this way.”

She’d rebuffed the attempt to [Observe] her without even trying.

Not even General Blue could resist this move so quickly, and efficiently. I had gleaned a great amount of information when I’d used it on him the first time.

But, from this old lady? Nothing at all.

Perhaps this was the difference between an amateur and an expert in the mental arts?

Unsure of what to say, I tried for an apology. “Sorry.”

“Sorry about trying it, or sorry about being caught?” The old lady tested, her pink hair waving along her bobbing head.

“Both?” I replied.

She gave a chilling cackle at the answer. “You must be Ren’s boy. I’ve been expecting you.”

It’s almost like you’re a fortune-teller, I wanted to say. Instead, I nodded and took a step forward.

“My name is Ten.” I said.

“Of course it is.” She cackled again. “Ren never had much naming sense. I’m Uranai Baba.”

I opened my mouth to speak, only to find that I had no idea where to begin. A moment passed, before I threw the first question that came to mind.

“How did you know my father?” I asked bluntly.

“To the point, eh?” She commented, floating over towards me, circling me a few times before tapping the bracelet on my wrist. “I remember this old thing. I helped him make it, you see.”

“So, it’s true.” I said slowly, taking it in. “He learned magic here.”

“Of a sort.” The old lady said cryptically, still studying me intently. “You seem exceptionally strong for your age. It’s no surprise you won Central’s little tournament of small fries.”

Small fries— Those had been the most challenging fights I’ve had, to date.

“Oh, yes.” She gave an eerie smile as she floated back to the center of the room. “None of them would have lasted a second against my fighters.”

That was a rather ominous statement, I thought.

“But enough on that topic.” She clapped her hand once. “Now that I’ve had a good look at you, I can sense that you possess great potential, both in the mystic and fighting arts.”

I nodded uncertainly, not knowing where she was going with this.

“You are to be training with that old fool Roshi, yes?” Baba said, her piercing look unwavering.

“Ah, yes.” I confirmed. “I wasn’t aware that you knew the master.”

“The master, he says.” She seemed to find that funny, but made no further comment on it. “Very well. I have invited you to learn the same arts your father practiced.”

I opened my mouth to reply, but she cut me off.

“Before you say anything, there will be a few conditions.” She stated flatly. “Think carefully before you decide.”

“… I’m listening.” I nodded, gesturing for her to get on with it. “What are the conditions?”

She stared at me for a long moment, before nodding. “Very well. There are two conditions. First, you are to focus your entire being to the mystic arts. That means no physical training beyond maintaining your current skill and strength level— though, from what I’ve gleaned, you don’t really need to train to maintain either, do you?”

This really was a frightening old woman. To be so perceptive as to detect an aspect of the workings of [Gamer’s Body]… Just what the hell was she?

“Don’t look so surprised, young man.” Baba cackled at my expression, before turning serious once more. “My second condition, well… Normally, I would charge people for my services— and let me tell you, my time doesn’t come cheaply!”

I frowned.

Obviously, judging from her words, she wasn’t going to make me pay for this magical education. So, what was she going to make me do?

“What’s your second condition, then?” I asked calmly.

“It’s quite simple.” She gave me a piercing look. “You work for me. For a time, you will complete certain tasks I set you on. In return, you may learn the mystic arts.”

Seconds passed as I considered her offer. The first condition was fine— as she had correctly surmised, a lack of training would not hinder the mastery of my [Skills] or lower my [Attributes] in any way.

The second, however… What would she be having me do?

“The tasks won’t be anything you wouldn’t want to do, anyway, child.” She read my mood perfectly. Was she able to look past my [Gamer’s Mind], or did she simply make a logical deduction? There was no way to tell.

After another few seconds, I finally gave my answer.

“I accept your conditions.”


+5,000 XP!


Quest Updated
Family History

Unlock the hidden power of your father’s old bracelet and learn of your father’s history.
-Find the fortune-teller’s palace to the far west.
-Learn the mystic arts under Uranai Baba.
-Complete any sub-quest given to you.

Reward: 20 AGI, 10 All Stats, Closure
Failure Penalty: Nothing


Ping!

You have gained the title [Initiate]!

Initiate: 5% Increase in MP and MPR.


The old lady clapped her hands together. “Splendid! Now, if you’ll follow me…”

She floated off to the side towards what seemed to be a fighting arena, I realized. Did she want me to fight someone?

“This will be your test.” She began to explain. “You obviously know some form of magic, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to sense your power. You will face up against one of my fighters— but you are not allowed to use your life force, only your magic.”

I frowned for a moment.

“One of my ski.. Uh.. Spells, I suppose, is specifically tailored for my fighting style.” I tried to explain.

“That’s fine.” She waved it off. “As long as you don’t use your life energy or simple brute force.”

I wondered if she’d consider my [Tiger Claw] as brute force, but shrugged. She’d given me permission to use it, and so I would.

“Dracula Man!” She shouted off to the side. “Come out here! I have someone for you to fight.”

What kind of name was that?

A bat emerged from another one of the buildings, flying around me in circles before hovering a few feet in front of me.

With a poof, it transformed into a blue-skinned, spiky haired man wearing boxing gloves, shorts, and with bandages wrapped around his feet. His sharp teeth almost gleamed in the sunlight as he gave me a hungry grin accompanied by a crazed, yet eager look.



Quest “Pass the Initiation” has been forcibly initiated
Defeat Uranai Baba’s fighter!

Reward: 3,000 XP, Increased Rep with Uranai Baba
Failure Penalty: Decreased Rep with Uranai Baba


I instinctively cast [Observe] on the creature— for how could it possibly be human?


Dracula Man – Lv 32
Race – Vampire
Age – 573

HP: 10,000
MP: 3,000
Rep: 0/10,000 Neutral

An old vampire, Dracula Man wanders the country side from time to time, feasting on the blood of animals. He hates doing this, as humans taste a whole lot better and animals give him a bad case of the shits.

However, he is forced to obey Uranai Baba’s rules; the only time he’s allowed to suck on a human’s blood is during a fight his master sanctions.

He currently is planning to suck as much blood as he can out of you, as human children are especially delicious in his eyes.

Battle Power: 110


This creature was even stronger than General Blue? But, he looked so frail… General Blue had been a very well built, tall man, whereas this guy was gangly and quite thin.

I heard the old hag hum in interest as I sank into my Tiger Stance and waited for his first move.

He began to dance randomly.

“…” I stared incredulously at him for a few moments, feeling a slight flash of anger that was crushed almost instantly.

Ah, so that was his plan. Get me so irritated that I’d try to finish him off from the get-go; my anger would have clouded my senses, which would leave an opening for him to exploit, and thus suck my blood out- not that he could suck anything.

This was actually the worst matchup this guy could have had, I realized. [Gamer’s Body] won this fight by default. That was assuming he even managed to make it past my [Mana Shield].

Dracula Man kept his dancing up- his patience likely earned after centuries of doing the same thing over and over again. He hadn’t realized I was onto him, most likely believing his little routine would compromise me emotionally.

I rushed toward him, ready to spring the trap. He kept on dancing even as I got within a meter of him, throwing a kick that would devastate his exposed ribs.

His eyes flashed dangerously, before a poof enveloped his form. From the smoke, a bat emerged, flying around me and harassing me with screeches and weak attempts at biting me.

I swiped at the air, only to hit nothing. In his bat form, he seemed to be quite the speedster, able to avoid any strike I attempted to land on him.

His small and maneuverable body flew around the arena, attacking me with its sharp teeth, which I avoided only just.

He flew close to me once more, easily avoiding my strikes and flying over my head, before transforming back into his humanoid form with another poof of smoke.

I felt him grab hold of my arms and immobilize them with more strength than even the Ox-King! At least, I could somewhat resist the older man, but this vampire’s arms weren’t even budging.

What the hell was he made of? I shook the thoughts off while I kicked at the vampire’s shin, causing him to hiss loudly, giving me enough time to used my [Mana Shield] just in time to feel an impact against my neck.

-45 MP!

-1,200 MP!

I heard the vampire groan in surprise as I smashed the back of my protected head against his own, giving me an opening.

-300 MP!

-500 MP!

Yanking my right arm out of his grasp, I activated my [Tiger Claw], feeling the MP drain as I drove my fingers into his left arm, which was still holding onto mine.

With a shriek of agony, the vampire reflexively let go of my hand, pulling his arm away from me, my clawed fingers tearing through his flesh with casual ease, mangling his left arm and leaving a trail of blood between us.

I cast [Observe] on him again, watching as he now gave me a genuinely frightened look.


Dracula Man – Lv 32
Race – Vampire
Age – 573

HP: 4,000/10,000 [Bleeding]
MP: 2,000/3,000

An old vampire, Dracula Man wanders the country side from time to time, feasting on the blood of animals. He hates doing this, as humans taste a whole lot better and animals give him a bad case of the shits.

However, he is forced to obey Uranai Baba’s rules; the only time he’s allowed to suck on a human’s blood is during a fight his master sanctions.

He currently is seriously considering giving up, feeling himself grow weaker and weaker from all the blood he lost. He is also one step away from shitting his boxing shorts.

Battle Power: 72


“I believe I have seen enough.” Uranai Baba interjected. “Your use of magic is crude and inefficient, merely using it as a physical instrument to wear as armor or claws. It is also quite wasteful, you will need a fair amount of control lessons.”


Quest Complete
Pass the Initiation

Not only have you held your own against Dracula Man, but you’ve completely defeated him, having the preternaturally strong fighter at your mercy.

+3,000 XP! Increased Rep with Uranai Baba!


I absorbed her words with a frown, deactivating my [Tiger Claw] and saying nothing in response. I’d thought I did a good job, but it seemed the old hag wasn’t impressed.

Those mountain sabrecats were proof that my method worked.

“Frankly, you attempt to use your magic as if you were using your life force.” Uranai Baba continued, as if reading my mind. “While it may work to some degree, you will never reach its full potential in this way. Lucky for you, I’m here to whip you up into shape.”

“Dracula Man.” She glanced sideways at the defeated fighter. “Go and get yourself healed up, you’ve earned it.”

The creature transformed back into a bat, flying away erratically- I guessed the injury would get dragged over into his transformation. It made sense, otherwise one would only need to learn how to transform to heal all injuries.

“Come, child.” Baba floated back to the main hall, beckoning for me to follow. “Let us begin your training.”

“My name is Ten.” I frowned at her somewhat condescending tone.

“You’re a funny child.” Her even more condescending reply was.

This was going to be miserable, wasn’t it?

“Yes.” She said smugly.

“How do you do that?”

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