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It seemed that last effort was enough, as the Minor Regeneration spell settled into place around him and the system message informed him of yet another skill to add to his growing arsenal. His goal of creating a varied and diverse pool of abilities was going quite well, even if he was a little heavy on offensive spells so far, a little lacking in buffs and entirely lacking in crowd control or debuffs. He’d created a number of spells using multiple elemental types and with a variety of effects; projectiles, targeted spells, multi-targeted spells and even spells applied to an area.

The ability to create lasting effects for an upfront cost was a good one to have, something both his Shield and Minor Regeneration spells had, and was something he wanted to look into further given the chance; he felt like he had said that a lot in the past week. Energy mana gave him a Shield and Nature mana gave him a healing effect over time, what would his other mana type give him? Would Fire mana grant him resistance to fire damage, or would it simple immolate whatever it was cast on? Either way he would be testing that on something other than himself. And what kind of effect would a Light aura give him?

Before he could give any more thought to the matter the horn that he had heard earlier sounded out again, closer this time, before a shadow fell over the camp. Above them, standing on the ridge above their shelter, was a group of Goblins. These ones seemed a lot better equipped than the ones back in the cave, wearing and wielding both Goblin-crafted as well as man-made items; the latter were more interesting to Oberon as they suggested interaction with humans or something close to them. Come to think of it he wasn’t even sure if humans were a thing in this world. The leader of the Goblin’s was riding some kind of goat-like creature, albeit one with horns similar to a deer and with a colouration that suggested it was poisonous; the Goblin himself seemed somewhat larger and more muscular than the others, perhaps an adult or maybe an evolved form of some kind.

Oberon used Magic and Monster Analysis on both the goat and the Goblin, or maybe Hobgoblin, leader as he began to speak. From the sounds of it these Goblin’s were upset that their party had entered their territory and were here to deal with them in the way Goblin’s were used to doing. From his position by the shelter entrance, somewhat underneath the Goblin’s and between them and Digbie, Oberon began to prepare the first spell that came to mind and formed a Mana Orb between his hands. As the two Goblin’s rushed forward he raised his hands and prepared to fire, only to stop himself once he saw them throw themselves on the ground rather than attack.

A little confused and curious, the Sprite lowered his hands and tried to dissipate the unused Mana Orb without firing it as he listened to the Goblin’s ask Digbie to become their leader. As a species Goblin’s seemed like the type to fall in line behind a strong leader and as an evolved and magically powerful variant Digbie was probably stronger than any other Goblin in their tribe; even so, it was strange that they would seek him out like this to make him their leader. The urgency with which they were begging him seemed suspicious and he wondered what it was that made them so desperate.

One of the students she approached ran off screaming before she got an answer, apparently struck with an intense feat at the sight of one of the approaching teachers. For some reason that didn’t really surprise her; she’d seen what some of the teachers were capable of during her own exam so the fact that one or two of the new students were a little apprehensive around them didn’t shock her. Though this seemed a bit much.

"Huh? Airplane Arms? He was like that at our exam too. And after it got called off early he yelled at me for... I'm not even sure!"

Akeno turned to look over her shoulder at the blue-skinned boy, who at least seemed to have calmed down somewhat now that the teacher was done with him. If he was acting like that back during the entrance exam then it sounds like it wasn’t just a case of him being excited by their first day at a new school. It seemed like he was going to be trouble, the kind Akeno wasn’t sure she wanted to deal with; picking fights before they’d even set foot inside the building wasn’t a good sign, even if Kenji did kind of invite it on himself.

It took her a moment to parse the rest of what’d he’d said however. Their exam had been cancelled? Why? Had something happened? Maybe it explained why the kid with pink hair had run off like that.

"Oh, uh, sorry. That was my name. Datari Shun, nice to meet you."

Bringing her attention back to the boy in front of her, the taller girl returned his short bow with a smile before introducing herself in turn. “I’m Kudo Akeno, nice to meet you to. I hope we can get along.”

The door to the hall opened and a girl with two toned hair and wearing what was presumably this schools uniform stepped out. The teachers directed them to enter the school so that they could begin the assembly and the collection of students began to follow their instructions as well as they could; which in this case meant a few more late arrivals, some more shouting, a couple people trying to start fights and even one girl setting fire to some poor guys shirt.

Well, it wasn’t like she didn’t expect hero school to be livelier than her last.

Before she could move to follow the final student she had approached spoke up. She was taller than Akeno, which was rare but not unheard of, and had a slightly haughty air to her that Akeno didn’t like.

"Yes, he was like that at our exam. But I saw Sakimoto-san and Yomodachi-san, standing over the downed body of one of the faux-villains, the dinosaur-looking one."

Turning away from Mari, Akeno sought out Sakimoto again along with the other student that had been mentioned, but couldn’t see them through the crowd. They’d really managed to take down the teacher that the students in her own exam had had such trouble with? Granted Akeno didn’t stick around to see the end of that fight, splitting off as soon as she’d rescued one of the dummies to find more, but the last thing she had seen was Kenji being beaten senseless while a few others tried in vain to slow the dinosaur down.

It seemed like airplane arms could do more than just blow hot air, literally in his case, and could back up his words with action if need be. She wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Would it make him more or less insufferable if he actually lived up to his own hype? If he really was that strong then he’d be just another person who had a big head and a bad attitude just because he’d been lucky enough to be born with a strong quirk; annoying, but not uncommon and at least he’d make a good hero someday. It would, however, make his habit of picking fights with people more dangerous.

Akeno began to follow after the stream of students walking into the building, ended up near the back of the group due to her slow start. As such she was positioned close enough to hear when yet another student decided to stir up some trouble, very deliberately drifting over to be within earshot of Sakimoto before making a comment about how unimpressive everyone so far. Akeno just rolled her eyes at the bravado, but Sakimoto took the bait as everyone probably expected him to at this point. Rather than blow up or try to start another fight however, the blue-skinned student actually seemed to revel in the challenge.

"We don't need this to be the elite school. I'm going to make it elite. The tougher it is, the stronger we're gonna get. All that matters is the heroes that it creates. UA trash ain't got nothing on us anymore. Stretch, Checkers, Pixels, Smiles, Croc, what else does this school got? Whatever it is, this is gonna be killer."

Surprisingly, Akeno found herself smiling in response to the impromptu pep-talk. It was inspirational in a way, a reminder to all of them that this school’s reputation didn’t matter as much as what they did with this opportunity; even if none of them had made it into the Four Pillars for one reason or another that didn’t mean they couldn’t become stronger anyway. It mirrored her own thoughts on the school, and she really hoped they were both right.

Not everyone shared that sentiment, it seemed. A dark haired teen, leanly built and the same height as Akeno, walked up to them at the end of Sakimoto’s speech, undoing everything the loud-mouthed student had said. Trash, undesirables, no one else would take us.

What an asshole.

Akeno was about to say as much, turning around to fully face the arrogant teen, but was beaten to the punch when another student grabbed the guys sleeve.

"Um, I honestly have no idea what you're talking about? Why are we considered undesirables, and what's so bad about Jigokuraku?"

The pink haired student sounded more curious or confused than annoyed, like he was genuinely asking why the dark-haired teen had said such things. It was discordant enough from the Akeno’s current mood that it made her freeze up for a second, her annoyance disappearing as she just looked wide-eyed at the new arrival. After a moment she regained her bearings and stepped forward to intervene before the taller teen could say anything else. She placed a hand on the pink haired boy’s shoulder to get his attention.

“Because it’s not one of the Four Pillars, and that’s all anyone cares about; Jigokuraku isn’t U.A., Shiketsu or one of the others so no one thinks very highly of it. But it’s a new school and no one knows what it’s capable of, so it’s not like it has a bad reputation; it just doesn’t have any reputation yet. Sakimoto is right though; all that matters is the heroes this school creates. We’re the first students to attend here so its reputation is going to be whatever we make of it, good or bad.”

@Scribe of Thoth@Bluetommy@ShwiggityShwah@pkken@baraquiel
What’s this guy’s problem?

As she and Kenji approached the school and the growing crowd of students, following on the heels on the abnormally tall teacher, a single voice from among the many could be heard even from a distance. A student with blue skin, one she didn’t recognise from the entrance exam, was yelling something about the ‘number one hero’ up at the second floor of the school; he was certainly full of himself if he was already giving himself that title, especially since anyone with any real claim to that title was probably attending one of the four pillars right now.

Well, a little confidence never hurt anyone, as long as didn’t exceed a person’s ability to back it up.

Beside her, Kenji made a comment about Magical Miracle Purity Light that had Akeno giving him a strange look out of the corner of her eye. The guy really didn’t seem like the type to make that kind of sarcastic remake, and especially didn’t seem confident enough to say it loud enough for everyone to here; she was starting to think she had misjudged the guy until she noticed the look on his face. Either he was a very good actor or he legitimately thought the guy was talking about the current number one hero showing up at this school of all places.

Unfortunately it seemed like the outburst hadn’t escaped the notice of blue boy, who immediately turned his attention to Kenji and began another round of yelling. Akeno sighed as the boy beside her dug himself deeper and deeper while airplane arms got angrier and more aggressive, even going so far as to activate his quirk and aim it at Kenji. The situation was escalating and it didn’t look like anyone was about to step in any time soon, herself included; she contemplated the idea of stepping between them and trying to defuse things, but if the situation did turn violent then between them was the last place she wanted to be.

Kenji was definitely able to take a beating better than she could, not that she’d just let him be attacked over a simple, albeit fairly dumb misunderstanding, but if a fight did break out she was better off staying where she was so she could try and take out airplane arms before he had a chance to do too much.

Luckily it seemed that, for now at least, he was willing to let it go and deactivate his quirk. After that another student finally arrived to try and defuse the situation, or at least take the heat onto himself, and Akeno took the chance to slip away from the blast zone. Hopefully Kenji was smart enough to do the same.

Approaching a group of students she didn’t recognise on the assumption that they were part of the other entrance exam, Akeno stopped in front of them before pointing a thumb over her shoulder towards the troublesome student who was now being reprimanded by what looked to be one of the teachers. “Hey, were you in the same exam as that guy? Is he always like that, or does he just have first day nerves or something?”

@Scribe of Thoth@Stern Algorithm@Animal
The hand moving along the club froze as Katherine started talking, Berserker’s eyes rising to regard the woman as she continued to speak. The Servant gave no impression of understanding her words; there was nothing within his eyes to suggest comprehension or acceptance of her explanation or offer, or even recognition of his own name. The dangerous glint did not come back at least; the primal fury that had been there on his summoning remained absent and the wild Viking merely watched impassively as the witch snapped her fingers and prepared a drink of her own blood.

When she held the goblet out for him Berserker lowered the club back to the altar and walked around it, covering the distance between them in a few short strides before coming to a stop before her. Now that he stood closer the difference in their stature was more apparent; the height difference was not too great, only a head or so between them, but Berserker was far broader of shoulder and chest than the witch. He tilted his head down to look at the goblet held in Katherine’s outreached hand, no doubt seeing the viscous mixture of blood and something else within, before reaching out a hand to take it from her with surprising gentleness.

If he had any reservations about accepting a drink mixed by a witch, especially one that included her own blood as an ingredient, then he didn’t show it. Lifting the goblet to his lips and tipping his head back Berserker drained it of its contents swiftly before throwing the container aside. His eyes locked with Katherine’s own again, the Servant waiting patiently as if in preparation for the next command.

Well, it wasn’t like Oberon could complain about any of the points Ash brought up since she was pretty much correct. If whoever did this, and he too had a fairly good suspicion who it was, did this knowingly after the warning they had all been given, then that person had put them all at risk; Ash was right to be angry about that and she was right to not want to be around someone who would put her at risk. That didn’t mean he couldn’t be frustrated with the current dynamic though.

As the Pygmy Drake left to pursue her own objectives, the Sprite turned away from the group with a sigh and flew back in the direction of their shelter. He felt drained by everything that had just happened; probably because, based on the system messages, his stamina had been sapped by the Black Knight’s appearance. Whether that was due to the power difference or some specific effect of Zawisza he didn’t know, and he supposed it made no difference at the moment.

By the time he made it back to their little cave, sitting down just to the side of the entrance, Oberon already felt like he could go no further; his entire nights rest had been wasted in an instant and now he didn’t think he would be able to do much other than sit here until he had recovered. Maybe he should try and develop a spell that would allow him to restore a person’s stamina quickly; he could recover health and even mana at an accelerated rate, so surely it was possible to do the same for a creature’s physical reserves as well.

If it did exist it was probably similar in nature to the healing spells he already possessed or the Minor Regeneration skill he had been working on earlier; an ability that didn’t just repair damage to the body but also reduced fatigue or restored vigour in some way. Since there was nothing much else he could do at the moment he might as well try it.

Sitting upright and clearing his mind of distractions, Oberon settled his breathing before placing a hand on his chest and attempting to gather nature mana into the palm of his hand. Like with his prior attempts he attempted to cast a Shield spell on himself but using the nature mana he had gathered rather than the energy mana he normally used. This had seemed to be working before and he had gained a fair amount of progress towards his skill, but he wondered if like with his Mana Dart and Light Ring spells he might not need something else to push the skill towards completion.

When he had tried to cast Mana Orb with the light he had gathered the spell had simply formed itself into the shape it needed to be, but that wasn’t happening here. Probably this was because this was a spell that didn’t exactly have a ‘shape’ to begin with or because the shape wasn’t any different despite the new type of mana being used. Maybe his methods were too imprecise; all he was really doing was throwing nature mana into a spell and hoping it worked out what it needed to do. Perhaps he should try giving his casting attempts more focus. If he gave the spell some more direction he might have more success getting the spell to do what he wanted it to do.

He remembered seeing the Slime back in the cave using chants to change the effects of his spells; whether it was the incantation of just the intent behind it that changed it he didn’t know but he could perhaps do the same here. He placed his hand on his chest again, gathered the nature mana like before, but this time began to intone a chant before he cast the spell. “Nurture and protect. The power of the world, the power of nature, which all living things carry. Nurture and protect. Restore my strength, restore my vigour, restore my body to what it was. Nurture and protect.”

Stopping, Akeno turned to face the boy she had just walked past when she heard a response to her offhand comment. It seemed as if he knew her from somewhere, though she did not recognise him in turn at first; after taking another look it was easy enough to place him as one of the applicants from her entrance exam. There were few people she remembered from that time in all honesty, so focused as she was on passing that she hadn’t paid much attention to those around her; Kenji, however, had made an impression.

The fact he had held back some of the ‘villains’ trying to prevent them from rescuing the dummies was probably the only reason she had been able to retrieve any at all and return them to the bus. If she’d had to complete the exam while also dodging or fighting the villains then she would have struggled a lot more. “You seem to be fine now, but you took a beating during the exam. Is everything okay?” He must have had some kind of toughness quirk based on what she had seen; maybe some kind of healing as well, unless one of the teachers had taken care of that later on.

When Kenji mentioned the place they were going to be staying, Akeno turned around and surveyed their surroundings. The welcome letter had said to make their way to the school hall, but hadn’t been as forthcoming on where that actually was. Akeno was expecting some kind of welcome committee or at least some signage showing the way but aside from a gaggle of other early arrivals there was nothing of note. “Do you have any idea where we need to go from here? The main hall shouldn’t be too hard to find if we just walk around.”

Just then a car drove past them and up to the gates, pulling up to park before someone who was clearly too old to be a student stepped out. They popped the boot to collect a duffel bag and a few other things before walking away. “I guess we can follow that teacher.”

The wind howled as it rushed inwards, sweeping through the gardens from all directions before crashing together above the centre of the carved magic circle. The cold night air, which only a second ago had been placid and peaceful became a sudden maelstrom which swirled and pulled and threatened to tear the plants from the ground with their intensity; it was a violent reaction to the blood sacrifice used to begin the summoning process, even more so than usual for the summoning of a heroic spirit.

A boom of thunder tore the air apart as the Servant appeared. There was no fanfare, no sparkling lights or glorious entrance; just what was once an empty space finding itself suddenly occupied by a bloody minded Viking as a sound like the world exploding rang out. The mana which had lit the circle slowly faded out, even the old leylines seeming to dim, leaving the night to be lit only by the moon above, the red marks on the new Master’s hand, and the glint of barely restrained fury in the Servant’s eyes.

The new arrival stood tall, taller even than Katherine, and imposing; he wore nothing but a fur pelt around his waist and a cloak fashioned from the plundered fur of a bear, the rest of his body bare to expose a muscular form untouched by blade or spear or arrow. Not a single scar could be seen. Berserker, for with that appearance he could be nothing else, wielded a solid oaken club in each clenched fist, the weapons held with white-knuckle intensity as if the warrior was already eager to bludgeon something. The weapons were nearly identical to the one still resting on the altar.

From the moment he had been summoned Berserker’s eyes had been locked on Katherine’s own but now they turned away, looking down at the altar that sat between Master and Servant and the wooden object on its surface. Placing his two clubs down on either side of it, the warrior picked up the old weapon in his right hand, holding it almost tenderly as he ran the fingers of his left hand over its smooth surface. It was nothing more than an old piece of wood, lacking the magic of a Noble Phantasm, lacking anything other than the distinction of once being wielded by a legendary king, but it was familiar. As he examined the catalyst used to summon him Berserker’s eyes no long held the glint they did before, taking on a calmer and more relaxed appearance.

Akeno jogged up the path leading to Jigokuraku academy, ponytail bobbing behind her as she took the steps two at a time on the stairs and her long strides ate up the distance to the summit when the trail levelled out. Neither the distance to the school nor the steepness of the climb seemed to faze the athletic girl, though she passed a few people along the way who appeared genuinely shocked by her quick pace.

The cold as well offered no obstacle to her, it never did, and she was dressed lightly enough to show it; a thin dark blue tracksuit over a plain white t-shirt was all she wore aside from her white trainers. Even if the jogging alone didn’t keep her feeling warm enough, whenever the cold air of early sprint began to bite at her Akeno just activated her quirk for a second or two to send her body temperature skyrocketing. It was one of the few areas that her quirk actually excelled in; she’d never needed winter’s clothing or a heavy jacket no matter how cold it got ever since she’d first found out what she could do.

By the time she reached the top there were already a few students milling around, including one overweight boy who she had been catching up to for a while now. He’d just about managed to make it to the top ahead of her but looked like he was paying the price for making the climb unprepared. By comparison Akeno barely looked like she’d run at all; her face was a little flushed from using her quirk and she was breathing slightly heavier than normal but that was it.

As she walked by him, Akeno gave him a light punch to the shoulder. “Chin up, you made it. Hold your head high.” They’d both made it, as unlikely as that was. The entrance exam hadn’t been easy for her; she’d basically been forced to complete it quirkless, since heating herself up wasn’t going to help her rescue a dummy. Even so, Akeno had apparently done enough to be recognised as having potential and her letter of acceptance had come a few days later.

Maybe she wasn’t U.A. material, or any of the other big schools, but she’d found a school that was willing to give her a chance and that all that mattered. She was going to train to become a hero. She wasn’t going to let this chance go to waste.

RL skill: "Creating several alt skins and inserting code for her avatar in order to disguise/mask her trail within The Universe."

So are they basically hacking The Universe to alter their characters appearance? I'll be honest, I'm wary of any kind of "hacker" character that can start changing things in-game. It's just begging to be abused.

Changing her appearance is something that can just as easily be done via an item of some kind.

Speaking of which...

Also, I'm stuck on the "rare item". What would make sense for a relatively non-lethal infiltrator/hacker archetype?

I'm going to assume a hierarchy of Common < Rare < Unique when it comes to things in this game unless stated otherwise.

You could have a "Mystique" skin that lets you copy any non-rare skin you've seen in the past.

Or, a Sombra ability that lets you instantly shut-down any non-unique technology-based item within a certain radius for a few seconds, with a long cooldown. Or just a Sombra glove that lets you shut down one tech-based item at a time for a few seconds with a small cooldown.
@Hellion I'm failing to remember any major omissions when it comes to the characters; Aech plays a larger role early on, so you see a bit more of his and the MC's friendship. The biggest change is that Sho is basically a completely different character; you actually see a lot more of Daito and Sho in general.

The trials are all completely different aside from the very last one and even that is actually the final part of a larger trial. In the movie the trials are largely based on knowledge of the creator and understanding his mindset. In the book all the trials are basically created based on the creators love of '80s media.
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