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Monster Party

Oberon was getting better over time at guessing the various aspects of different magics, as he became more familiar with various elements and the flow of Mana itself. He had seen by this point that his natural or Energy-type Mana was converted to the Earth element after suffusing the corresponding physical matter, and that in the case of the pebble there was only so much it could hold before ambient Mana simply leaked out. Trying to move it with Lesser Force had accomplished the simple task of getting the object from point A to point B, but hadn't actually unleashed the power accumulated inside it. The intention of throwing it somehow made a difference--would Lesser Force have worked, perhaps, if it could simply generate more force? It was, after all, only Rank I at this point. But regardless, the Sprite had been able to discern the difference and focused his efforts on the parts of his experiments that had shown the greatest results thus far. Concentrate energy, fill the stone, launch it, and release the energy. The next step this time was to overcharge the pebble, in an attempt to perhaps "condense" the power inside it--there was only so much it could contain, but did Mana have the quality of density like air, water, or other fluids that could be manipulated as well?

With a fully charged pebble in hand, Oberon reared back and once again hurled the stone at the ground. This time, however, at the moment of release he tried sending another burst of Mana into the stone to send it on its way.

A golden flash signified the stone's release from his hand, and the entire pebble glowed with the same colored as it rocketed off in a manner reminiscent of the Mana Orb. It shot across the clearing to impact a tree with a loud crack, shredding a section of the bark before the pebble's own surface gave way. Dust and fragments of rock fell back to earth, but so did several leaves shaken free by the impact.

As he spread his wings to restore his mana, Oberon felt the tingle in his hand where he had released the stone. He was starting to recognize some of the subtle differences in feeling between the other types of Mana he had used, and the Earth element.
Skill Gain: Stone Shot I (0.7 > 1.0)!
You have learned to charge a piece of stone with your energy before hurling it at your opponent. This attack does blunt, piercing, and Earth-elemental magic damage. It consumes less MP than most spells, but requires ammunition.

Skill Rank Up: Gather Light I > Gather Light II (1.95 > 2.0)!
Mana Recovery Speed increased, roughly equivalent to Rank I Meditation. Under a full moon, this skill can now activate at half its normal speed. At high noon, this skill's recovery is 25% faster.

New Transformation Option:
(Adolescent) Koropokkuru (Very Low Variant Chance) - A diminutive spirit of the wilderness, associated primarily with the elements of nature and earth but sometimes found near water as well. As they thrive in healthy environments with good soil and many plants, they are said to sometimes help other races capable of agriculture. Typically not that violent, they can nonetheless be dangerous due to their knowledge of the lands and survival crafts.

  • Lose Wings
  • Increase Earth Affinity (reduced)
  • Increase Skill: Growth (reduced)
  • Slightly increase all base stats

Perhaps Ash should have become accustomed to her never ending quest for knowledge at this point. To answer one question, but open the door for myriad more...was that not simply the scientific process at work? When Robert Hooke first became the father of cellular biology, gazing through the early microscopic lens, coining the term for the "cell," the smallest component of biological life, did that not open the door to the infinite possibilities of evolutionary theory? The mapping of the human genome? The entire field of microscopics? As an accomplished woman of science herself, maybe Ash had begun to take for granted all the foundational knowledge she had in the old world. Here, in this new place, with a new form of knowledge that did not behave in accordance with all the laws of nature--but clearly had some structure of its own--she had to start from scratch. How many of these discoveries she made, were being made for the first time? If someone, or something, else had come across this knowledge, collected it and gathered could she make contact with them?

Putting her dual cast skill to use, she formed the 'Poison Splash' spell in her claw, observing it like she had with Mana Slice. Ash began trying to change its shape, hopefully that Mana Shape skill coming in handy. First, she tried to mimic and copy the shape of Mana Slice into the Poison Splash, first condensing it and cutting down on excess particles in order to give her the same amount in the Mana Slice. Next, she would move the three square particles into position. She would attempt to force those oscillating lines into position if they hadn't already automatically connect, and finally using Mana Shape in order to try and help it maintain its shape.

The spell took the form a purple, crescent shaped blade much like Mana Slice...except that its "edge" was still wavy, not quite solidified. Though she had the bits and pieces of the magic in the same places, they weren't reacting quite the same way...still, by force of will, she managed to hold it. So her Poison Splash spell had taken on a new would this change its function?

You are experiencing a Rapid Rate of Skill Progression.

You have consumed Rat Jerky. Your hunger is now Sated.
Your thirst has now been Quenched.

Skill Gain: Point Strike I (1.0)!
With a discerning eye, take aim at an oppenent's weak point and concentrate your own power into a single point of attack. Slightly increase the power of any attack, and gain an increased chance for a Critical Hit. Using this Skill in conjunction with other attack Skills, however, may cause it to lose effectiveness.

Skill Gain: Spiritual Awareness I (1.0)!
You have become more aware of the spiritual side of the world. This will affect your interactions with certain types of spiritual monsters such as non-corporeal Undead. At this rank, you can only detect a hint of the spiritual world. There may also be other affects of this ability... --This Skill syngergizes with your Guidance. The signs of Major Spirits may become clearer...

Skill Rank Up: Guidance I > Guidance II (1.9 > 2.0)!
You have prayed or otherwise sought the guidance of higher powers on a frequent basis, and some of those powers may recognize your piety. The signs of Major Spirits may become clearer--the more specific your prayers, the more help you may find. --You know of the Divine Spirit, [ Maiden Redeemer Jehanne ]. --You possess the Skill Spiritual Awareness, increasing your ability to percieve the signs.

Digbie allocated all but one of the Skill Points he'd gained by leveling up, and refreshed himself before he sat down in ordered fashion. Like a proper acolyte preparing for a great ritual, he readied himself. He had made his decision. Like in his dream, where he had seen the potential of all the different beings that rose from a Goblin's path of transformation, he now chose the bright, beautiful...and unknown light. He was stepping into new territory. The Palablin, until this moment, seemed to have never existed before. What could this hold in store for him...and for others of his kind?

"I'm going to evolve into the Palablin. Jehanne... please protect us as I evolve, as I cannot do so for my friends in this short time."

And as soon as Digbie closed his eyes, his body slumped. His breaths deepened, but his muscles began to twitch every so often, like a dog that kicks its feet in its dreams...

He had never been able to recall it with true clarity the first time, but now that he was once more floating upward, the visions of his first transformation all came rushing back to the Demigoblin's mind. The things he had seen back then--the cavern's interior, the forest, the curling smoke trails, the deserts and mountains, all of it--even those terrifying things--were crystal clear for this moment in his mind. But now things had become so different...

They were farther North, so he could no longer see the cave where he had been reborn. He could still see all the trees of the forest, far below him. To the east, a particularly large tree glowed a light green color, bright enough that it seemed like a lighthouse beacon from here. Even further north, he could almost feel the same clouds of cold and snow he could see, and the howling winds that spun them round and round an even darker and deeper forest.

To the West, he could see the small shape of Guze and his captives making their way up the mountain ledges--and then immediately his vision swept up to the great scar across the mountains. It was as if some blade of impossible size had sheared off its tip. The rocks there were blackened yet smooth, with a glossy appearance. Within this smoking crater, many lights glittered. He had risen even higher by this point, so he couldn't pick out any details among the small figures moving in groups along the slopes and the ring of structures they had erected along the lip of the black crater...

Still higher he went, drifting through clouds. To the north, not as far as the ice and cold, a river meandered down out of the mountains. To the east, beyond the forest and the emerald glow, a sparkling lake. Even further in the west, and somewhat to the north, over the ridge of the mountains there was a tower like a mighty tree reaching up to the heavens. Its roots, too, stretched deep, deep into the earth. So far to the east that it became west again, a lonely, cold, desolate island where red lightning split the sky. Further beyond that, marshlands and mountains and untamed, wild lands.

He rose higher. A world, a planet, rotated thousands of miles an hour, yet from this distance appeared as no more than a soap bubble. A great city, too far from here to see, had called for him before but now it was silent. The island's red skies still held him in sway. And a bright, comforting light from the stars far above seemed to reach out for him...

He was more aware now than he had been the first time he had seen this vision. Aware enough to know things were different. Aware enough to try and put something together. Aware enough, perhaps, to do something...?

Skill Gain: Gather Light I (0.9 > 1.0)!
Under full sunlight, convert solar energy to Mana. You may move at a slow, relaxed pace while using this skill. Any blockage of sunlight will immediately cancel this skill, and it may not be used in conjunction with Active skills. Its Mana Recovery is slightly slower than Meditate.

As Torrent sought to recoup her energy, something finally clicked. She felt the light warming her scales trickle inward, as if hot water was running down her body...from the inside. And now, like with Meditate, she could feel her Mana pooling somewhere in her spiritual center and recovering. This must be the same skill Oberon had gained, being able to use the sunlight as a power source. For a cold-blooded creature, it seemed quite suitable.

Her next experiment with the Void Blast spell would see that it took less effort to accomplish what she had worked so hard at before. "Creating" the void by separating all the elements within a space now happened much faster--and with some focus, she tried to use her Mana not to add or take away from the void, but simply to separate the Nothing from the Everything. Like drawing on plain white paper to create a definition of a shape, she formed a sphere of Mana around the Void, and released it into the world once more.

A black, spherical, yet ever shifting emptiness floated out of her mouth. It made a howling, sucking noise, and the barely-visible sheen of her Mana bubble cracked like glass. With a rushing noise and a pop, the Void imploded in a crackling black mist. But this didn't seem like a failure, really--a large amount of air and dust had been displaced over the stream. What might have happened if a target, or a creature of flesh and blood, had been in the vicinity of that implosion?

You used Magic Analysis II!
---Void Blast (Incomplete)---
An incomplete spell. You've created a shadowy void that creates a vacuum force once it interacts with outside forces. It does not seem to destroy matter or energy, but it nonetheless eats away at whatever it interacts with at a rapid pace to create a limited implosion.

LEVEL UP! Your combined experiences have culminated in new power! Your Max MP has increased! You are now Level 10! You gain Skill Points to distribute as you please!

Unused Skill Points: 16[[OOC: 5 left over from last level up, +5 normal level up, +5 for Christmas/NewYear/Hiatus bonuses, +1 for 1500 posts bonus]]

Current Skills:
Stun Fang II (2.325)
Muffle III (3.0875)
Poison Spit II (2.0)
Poison Glob II (2.1)
Fireball II (2.0375)
Stealth Kill I (1.2)
Minor Recovery I (1.0)
Fire Resistance I (1.25)
Rabid Fit I (1.05)
Meditate I (1.7)
Tremor Sense I (1.9)
Soil Manipulation I (1.55)
Underground Movement I (1.55)
Monster Analysis I (1.725)
Magic Analysis II (2.55)
Material Analysis II (2.1875)
Plant Analysis I (1.1875)
Scale Shift I (1.7)
Overwork I (1.0)
Analysis (--)
Mental Resistance I (1.25)
Spell Cancel I (1.05)
Sensory Resistance I (1.0)
Dual Cast I (1.1)
Guidance I (1.15)
Wurm Breath I (1.35)
Aqua Stream I (1.15)
Fog Breath I (1.05)
Wind Breath I (1.0)
Frost Breath I (1.1)
Blunt Resistance I (1.0)
Breath Beam I (1.0)
Gather Light I (1.0)
Crafting (0.2)
Alchemy (0.4)
Alert (0.5)
Warcry (0.3)
Poison Fang (0.3)
Smash (0.2)
Magic Break (0.1)
Suppress Presence (0.9)
Spiritual Awareness (0.6)
Prehensile Tail (0.1)
Fortify (0.5)
Spell Chant (0.4)
Focus (0.9)
Flame Burst (0.5)
Slash (0.2)
Curse Word (0.3)
Stronger (0.1)
Air Read (0.4)
Faster (0.2)
Rock Spire (0.6)
Lucid Dream (0.2)
Mana Drain (0.4)
Mana Sense (0.2)
Mana Vision (0.1)
Gravity Well (0.1)
Void Blast (0.9)
Silhouette (0.1)
Deception (0.1)
Throw Voice (0.2)
Quake (0.1)
Mana Shape (0.5)
Plasma Ray (0.025)

YOUR BODY IS BEGINNING TO CHANGE! You are undergoing Transformation! Based on your life experiences, your ability to survive, and the strength of your will, new paths have appeared! Choose carefully--there is no going back! WARNING. THIS PROCESS WILL LEAVE YOU TEMPORARILY VULNERABLE.

OPTIONS (* Indicates Suitability):
**(Adult) Lesserwurm (High Variant/Low Variant/Low Variant/Very Low Variant/Very Low Variant Chance) - Related to dragons, but still a cold-blooded reptile, this creature burrows through the earth and fills the enclosed spaces around its prey with poisonous fumes. Its lengthy body is quite fast and deceptively strong, and its ability to shed its skin somehow allows it to heal more quickly.

  • Increase Potential
  • Slight increase to base speed-stats
  • Increase Minor Recovery (reduced)
  • Increase Poison Breath (reduced)

***(Adolescent) Pygmy Drake (High Variant/Low Variant/Low Variant/Very Low Variant/Very Low Variant Chance) - Stunted, pesky cousins of greater drake species, this creature has a poisonous stinger on its tail rather than a breath weapon and glides more than it flies. Nonetheless it is somewhat clever, and mages sometimes keep it the way someone might keep a pet bird.

  • Slight increase to all base stats
  • Increase MP
  • Increase Lesser Flight
  • Increase Mana Orb and Dragon Affinity (reduced)
  • Gain hindlimbs, Gain wings

*(Adolescent) [Snaketail] Kobold (High Variant/Low Variant/Low Variant/Very Low Variant/Very Low Variant Chance) - Small, reptilian creatures with odd primate characteristics like upright spines and grasping limbs. Quite similar to Goblins, often competing with them for the same territories and resources. Some individuals have other characteristics--the Snaketail Kobolds are often said to have the power of Greater Serpents flowing through their veins. Their lower bodies are replaced with long, muscular tails that are still capable of upright locomotion. While this is different from the draconic origins most Kobolds claim, it still gives them greater potential to rise in stature within a tribe.

  • Slight increase to speed-related stats
  • Increase Light Equipment Skill (reduced)
  • Gain Access to Job System: 0th Tier

**(Adolescent) Forked Snake (High Variant/Low Variant/Low Variant/Very Low Variant/Very Low Variant Chance) - A deceptive creature, said by many to be a degenerated form of the various multi-headed serpents like Hydra, or even the great Balaur. At first glance, it appears to be a snake with three heads--but two of these heads are actually modified forelimbs. While they have some use as sensory organs, they do not contain an actual brain or their own wills. They lack fine motor skills, but can still be used for some forms of grasping and grappling prey. Like a mundane lizard's tail, in times of crisis they can be detached and will eventually grow back. They also have working mouth and digestive parts, and can even be used for Breath attacks.

  • Increase HP
  • Slight increase to base-power and base-defense stats
  • Increase Minor Recovery (reduced)
  • Lose fore claws

*(Adolescent) Drake (High Variant/Low Variant/Low Variant/Very Low Variant/Very Low Variant Chance) - A subspecies of dragons that many believe was once domesticated in the past, bred to be manageable by their tamers but still retain some of their ancestor's power. However, this comes with a drawback that its body is not as heavily muscled and its scale layers are lighter. It is quadroped and lithe in nature, comparable to foxes or wolves.

  • Increase base-defense stats
  • Slight increase to base-speed stats
  • Increase Chosen Breath (Options: Poison, Wurm, Fire, Water, Frost, Beam, Acid, Mana)(Reduced)
  • Increase Dragon Affinity (reduced)
  • Gain hindlimbs

**(Adolescent) Knuckerling (High Variant/Low Variant/Low Variant/Very Low Variant/Very Low Variant Chance) - A juvenile form of the Knucker, a type of lower-rank Dragon. Knuckerlings, like their larger cousins, tend to inhabit wet and underground environments. They are of an almost amphibious nature, akin to a mundane salamander (not the elemental Monster), and breathe through their skin. The biggest difference between them and a true knucker are their sizes and the lack of wings.

  • Slight increase to base-power stats
  • Increase HP
  • Increase Poison Breath (reduced)
  • Increase Dragon Affinity (reduced)
  • Gain hindlimbs

*(Adolescent) Hearthwurm (Variant Chance) - A fiery reptile that has basked in ambient Fire element Mana, and adapted to be more suitable to those environments. They will find the warmest spot possible to absorb energy before they engage in a period of activity. If the surroundings are warm enough, they can even go without sleep for extended periods of time. Dwarves and other races with established metallurgy find them especially annoying as they can clog the workings of various forges and machinery in their search for heat.

  • Increase Fire Affinity (reduced)(slightly boosted)
  • Increase Fire Resistance
  • Increase Fireball
  • Gain hindlimbs

PixieSlime Party

"Ah..." Trent looked sheepish for a moment. "I, um, don't guess I've ever really practiced with throwing weapons..." In the moments after he cut the slime in two and Steve had trapped the pixie, while Asura dealt with the rat in the tunnel, Trent bent low and planted his torch in the dirt. This freed his shield hand to grab a rock, which he hurled at a Wisp just as it started to swoop down. The boy missed, true to his statement, but it caused the Dungeon's assimilated minion to loop-de-loop back out of range instead of launching its own attack.

The Amorphous Slime mutilated the Dire Rat's corpse and destroyed the center of its nervous system in both the base of the neck and its brain. The black miasma that had been gathering around its body caused it to twitch once, then faded away...only to condensate above the tunnel's opening just as Asura oozed out. A Ghost Wisp flickered into existence as the slime was dodging the three Poison Spits, then blasted him with its one and only Mana Orb from behind before it too faded. The pain from this magical attack distracted him, and the Zomblin's poisoned javelin struck his Bowhorn Shell head-on. A piece of the orbital socket broke away, taking a fragment of the cranium with it. With a grunt Asura hurled back the javelin he'd taken earlier, spearing the assimilated Pixie just before it could pull itself free of Steve's webbing. The creature screeched as it died--but immediately began to pull the pointed stick out of its own chest as its purple eyes turned black and its muscles twitched unnaturally.

Then Steve used her legs to pull two tiny, barely visible threads. Its Thread Control skill activated, and the Web Spit she had used to trap the now-Zombified Pixie before began to tighten. The Oculus Spider used her other six feet to slowly pull herself back, but even that was barely enough with the arachnid's strength. Still, the pixie's throat, shoulders, and knees began to collapse inward--and with a final jerk and pop, Steve managed to strangle and mangle the body before it collapsed. A pixie's limbs were no more sturdy than those of a human doll, perhaps, given its size, and the spider monster had succeeded in essentially popping all its extremities off.

HP is at 95%. Your Slime Shell's durability is at 40%.
SP is at 10% > You used Throw Item.
Your Stamina is Low! If Stamina is not restored, Overwork will soon begin HP conversion.

Two Zombie Lizards joined the front row of battle now, and one of them lunged at Steve while she was distracted with the Zombie Pixie. The Oculus Spider and the reptile rolled over and over in a tangle, and it was unclear who had the advantage amongst all their hissing and biting. The second tried to engage Momma Slime, only for her to roll faster than something her size should have been able to do. Wheeling around its lunging fangs, she latched onto the creature's tail.

"Dum lee-zard!" she burbled, before her pseudopod began to whip the creature back and forth, slamming it against the ground repeatedly like an angry green giant with a puny god in hand.

The green slime that Trent had cut in half earlier was beginning to flow back together, but the color of its membrane bubbled and darkened in a sickly way. From behind the group, two Ghost Wisps launched Mana Orbs at Asura, and these did not fade away after the first attack. Another Zombie Lizard, this one more decomposed than the others and bearing a pointy stick through its ribs, was scurrying up to engage the group from the rear.

Up front, from the middle and back rows, another spray of Poison Spit from lizards. Another single Mana Orb from a Wisp. And yet another Javelin from that accursed Zomblin, though he couldn't have many left at this point. And more and more monsters were coming...

Meanwhile, Ardur folded his wings and dropped straight down into the pool. The Mana Orbs flew every which way over his head, and he had precious few seconds before they realized he was in the water and began to fire in that direction. In that time he went deeper, hoping the water would hide his figure in the darkness. Undine cut down another Wisp from behind.

"I have enough Mana now for small spells, on the level of your own, but to be of any real help in this fight I must accrue more power!" The sword moved around Ardur like a fish, and the flat of her blade pressed against him to show him the way towards shore. Once he was on his way she turned back to the cloud of Wisps.

One of them dove into the water to try and find Ardur. Undine killed it. Another only skimmed the surface of the water to look for the Hipixie. Undine pointed herself straight up, and killed it. One of them launched a Mana Orb in the direction it thought Ardur had gone, and Undine breached the surface and killed it. Its fellows were already following suit, however, and as the Hipixie surfaced for breath the crackling bolts were peppering the water around him. One of them struck him in the back, knocking him under for the space of a breath as he continued to kick out and swim for his life.

Skill Gain: Faster I (0.9 > 1.0)!
Your base physical speed is increased! By gaining the skills Harder, Better, and Stronger, Skill Synergy will occur and you will gain one rank of Physical Conditioning.


Rat Party

You used Magic Analysis I!
A strange magic is being used in the surrounding area. It feels calming, and within its area of effect seems to be cleansing both physically and spiritually. You think you might have seen something like this before, back in the cave in the aftermath of the goblin fights.

---Soil Manipulation---
You possess this Skill, but its current usage seems much higher in rank. Using magic, one manipulates loose earth. This individual seems to be moving much larger amounts, at greater distances, than you are currently capable of moving yourself. Their mastery seems advanced enough that even larger or denser clumps of soil can still be moved.

The trio of rodents were much better prepared to both see their enemies coming and move to avoid them now. With stealth skills and higher senses, the party moved through the tall grasses of the plains without the Myrminor Scout becoming ever the wiser. Their journey continued until they were almost within the tree line of the forest again, and soon they could see what was on the other side of the hill. [[OOC: Do they go over the hill, around, etc? Describe in post.]]

What Ed had assumed to be a shack was actually an extension of the hill, into a rocky outcrop that could be more accurately called a cliff. It reached up almost above the tree tops, though the forest had cloaked it in greenery over long years. It sharply sloped downward on one side, but another face was relatively flat and cracked. And it looked like someone had been at work on these cracks and crevices, widening them out until a proper cave of sorts--though nowhere near as large as the cave the rats came from--had been created. In this dugout, which seemed to have more than one level on the inside of the cliff, were moving lights and figures...

On the ground, in front of the cliffside's entrance, a campfire burned. Sitting around this fire were three figures. One looked to be another Hobgoblin, wearing black dyed clothing over most of his form. A hood, with holes cut for his ears, covered his head and strips of cloth had been wrapped around his lower face, his arms and legs, and his upper body. Pants held in place with a rough drawstring clothed his legs, and a black cloak that had more holes and torn bits than it did whole ones draped his shoulders. He was sharpening a knife made of stone in the light of the fire. The other two figures were still goblinoid, but bigger, more muscular, and hairier. It was like looking at Rattleskull all over again--Bugbears. They were even armed very similarly to Rattleskull. Planks of wood had been lashed together to form awkward shields, and they were wearing boxy armor that looked to have been made from more planks over their torsos. Woven vines and straw made primitive belts, sandals, and headbands. Each of them had a thick stick of wood in hand, mounted with a sharp wedge of rock.

Further away from the fire, the entire campsite had been fenced in with simple logs and sticks planted in the ground or tied together with vines. It wouldn't keep any livestock in and could be easily climbed over or rooted under, but it seemed the point was just to slow down any attackers before they reached the base.

Within this fence, but to the right side of the trio at the fire, a much sturdier wooden cage had been built. And in this cage was a single occupant, a creature that neither Asteria or Ed had ever seen before.

Its mottled green-gray skin was pale, and while it was a little bit taller than the bugbears it was also lanky, almost emaciated. Its ribs were visible under the skin. Its long arms reached past its knees, and even if the cage hadn't been too small for it, the creature had a hunched, crouching posture. Its fingers were long and tipped with savage looking claws; its feet were broad with rough soles and thick heels. It had long black hair falling down its shoulders, but the mane had obviously never been washed and rarely even brushed. A crusted, blood stained blindfold covered its face. An iron collar was shackled around its neck and chained to the bars of the cage. A big stone had been chained to each of its legs as well, and while they currently dangled freely, there were chains on its wrists as well. The monster was chewing on an old bone, occasionally sniffing in the direction of the fire where the others sat. If it ever made too much noise, one of the other three monsters would spit a curse at it, or throw a coal from the fire. The pale beast would lurch from even a spark of the flame with a snarl and whimper.

Inside the entrance of the cliff, another thin plume of smoke wafted out. There was a smell of something cooking, probably meat. This smoke must have been winding its way inside the cliff's passages as well, as about 15 feet up on the left side of the rocky outcrop another trickle of gray ash wafted up. There was a balcony of some kind built of ramshackle wood here, and a rough-hewn stairway going up onto the cliff's flat top. The rats could just see the edge of something over the plateau, something that looked a bit like a pile of straw.

How many bandits were in this camp? How many were humans and how many were monsters? How well did they work together? What kind of threat did the represent?

And what were the rats going to do about it?

Deep Forest

As Nira cut 3 sizeable pieces of Black Dyed Cloth from the cloak, Femus looked over the corpse of their enemy. Just from what he had seen before with the other Hobgoblin that ruled the tribe--which raised the question of where this one had come from and what its status was in the tribe?--the Wisp could tell that this creature had probably been a bit smarter than the average gobbo. It would have ambushed him, if not for his Alert skill. Most Goblins weren't that sneaky about their hunts, or if they tried to be they often weren't very good at it. It was rather odd, in some way, that the creature was using another goblin's skull and arm as its own weapons or accessories. Now that Femus thought about it, he had never seen any of the skirmishes between the goblins become fatal. They killed other creatures without abandon, but any match between fellow greenskins never went past first blood in the majority of cases. So how had this one even gotten the bones in the first place? Maybe that was why he hadn't seen it in the tribe before now--was it some kind of goblin criminal? Did they even have the concept for such a thing?

You used Monster Analysis I!
These advanced goblins develop darker skin colors, their former green bodies turning a shade of the forest or changing tint slightly to blues or browns. They are a foot taller than goblins on average, and while their proportions are similar their extra mass shifts towards a more wiry, muscular form. With greater intelligence but about the same level of maturity, if Goblins can be compared to vicious children then Hobgoblins could be mean-spirited teenagers. Their faces become slightly less ugly, and they grow more hair much like various humanoids.

You used Plant Analysis I!
This green herb does not thrive on sunlight, but on ambient Mana. With good nutrients and clean water in its surroundings, it will synthesize pure healing energy. Low-grade item.

The herbs that smelled slightly of mint seemed to be the ones that had healing properties, and at first glance it was hard to tell them apart from just any old plain fern or leaf. But there was definitely a subtle difference to them apart from the scent. Drinking dew from the plants finally seemed to quench the Wisp's dry throat, but it still wasn't a prime source of fresh water. And with the day rapidly approaching noon, most of the dew was dried up at this point.

The Blue Yill had not produced any seeds yet, but just how fast could he have pushed its growth with his magic? After all, it often took real crops an entire season to go to seed. But the presence of magic in this world kind of threw a wrench into "regular" common sense. The blue flower had sunlight, good soil, he had boosted it with magic...what hadn't he done yet that might speed up its cultivation?


Skill Gain: Earth Vein I (0.9 > 1.0)!
By remaining still and in contact with the earth by at least two solid points of your body for a short amount of time, you can begin passively drawing Mana from the Earth to refill your MP. Moving other parts of your body can drastically decrease the effectiveness of this skill. This skill cannot be used in conjuction with other Active skills. --Your lack of a physical body drastically reduces the effect of this Skill.

"What's going on, Miiba!?" Mirabelle and Geir came into the back yard, both looking equally out of breath. In Geir's case it was likely because of the struggle he'd had with Jason, while in Mira's it might be chalked down to the fact that the magic user was just not so physically fit as her companion.

"You!" Geir suddenly lunged forward and grabbed Miiba by the scruff of her potato-sack dress, picking her up off the ground. "You said you didn't have any goblin buddies, huh!? Well these two say different!" He held her up until she was practically looking Danny in the eye on top of the chicken coop. "One of you is lying about the goblin raid, and I don't trust either one of ya!"

"Geir, wait!" Mira was fishing in her pouch for a green lense, much like a more refined version of Danny's Source Crystal Shard. "Where's the undead? And you!" She pointed at Danny, and Jason would be able to see her aura intensifying. She seemed a far more accomplished magic user than ol' Crispy had been. "Why did you attack this place? If you're like Miiba, then you should know some kind of human sensibility!"

As always, this situation could rapidly go very badly, very quickly. The magic user seemed to have some method of finding Jason, who was relied on his invisibility for a great deal of his battle advantage. And her spells would likely do much more damage than Geir could swinging an axe. At the same time, the big lug hadn't gone down nearly as easily as most targets Jason tried to soul-fight, and could probably kill Danny in one good shot if it came down to it. This Miiba goblin was like them, a reincarnator, but she seemed incredibly young and despite being allowed to shelter here, obviously wasn't fully trusted.

What would each Reviver do?
PixieSlime Party

"There are too many ranged enemies, magic's my only means of reaching them without breaking our line!" Trent shot back. The boy seemed stressed. He ignored the assimilated pixie flying back and forth above him, and went to help Steve with the green Slime by cutting it completely in half with a swipe of his sword. He glanced back towards the shoreline. "If we fall back towards the water, we'll be going back into the narrow part of the path! Our single file formation will put too much burden on those in front!"

The core-controlled pixie was in the midst of dive bombing the human, and almost reached him before Steve plastered it to the ground with another Web Spit. Asura yelled at Trent to go on the defensive, before transforming himself and Smashing right through the Skeleblin's ribcage. Its sternum and spine came apart in pieces, which also separated its arms and skull from its torso. The various bits of it clattered like a broken xylophone down the rocks, and the black miasma rising from it meant the body couldn't be used by the dungeon's captured souls anymore. As Asura felt his Stamina burning away, he went over to help Momma Slime. The Dire Rat had just popped back out, taking a bite out of her outer membrane, before the red slime filled its hidey hole and sprouted spikes like an angry porcupine. The creature was skewered from multiple directions, and its body jerked before it went still...then, the same black miasma from the Skeleblin seemed to collect around the Dire Rat's fresh corpse...

Momma Slime made to move forward, since the only enemies in view were in that direction. But she pulled up short as two blobs of poison splattered the ground in front of her. Then a Mana Orb struck her, driving her back another roll's worth as she gurgled in a mixture of anger and pain. Trent had stepped up now as well, and blocked another poisonous ball of phlegm with his shield. Its rawhide covering was in tatters now, revealing the sturdy wood and iron bands beneath. Just as Asura was coming out of the rat's hole, there were three more wads of Poison Spit heading his way in a wide spread--as well as another of the Zombie Goblin's accursed javelins.

The Zombie Fanged Lizards chose to advance after unleashing their volley, and they were rapidly closing in on the spaces that were left by the Skeleblin, Slime, and the earlier Wisps.

Further back, the 3 oncoming Zomblins passed their spear-hucking brother, and were continuing to charge up with roars as they dripped black bile. The 4 Wisps near the ceiling passed over the row of long-ranged attackers as well, as if they were racing the zombies to get closer.

Only a single Zombie Pixie and a Fanged Lizard were visible in the distance, but there were still various sounds of monsters getting ever closer. And although Ardur seemed to have led the flock of Wisps away, back towards the rear there were two familiar, eerie green flickering lights getting bigger by the moment.

Over the water, a dozen Wisps followed after Ardur. He barrel rolled this way and that, twisting and swerving wildly through the air. His wings felt sore all the way down to their roots over his shoulders, but he couldn't avoid to stop here. He managed to block one Mana Orb with his bone club, then dodge another, and several of the other shots missed due to the assimilated monster's inaccuracy. But one of them struck him, almost knocking him out of the air. He was so close...

"Incoming." he called to Undine as he recovered control of his flight just before hitting the water. As he zoomed past, the Wisps followed. Their lights crackled and pulsed angrily.

One of them ran right into Undine's blade, apparently unable to see it in the dark. The creature actually cut itself in half solely due to its own momentum. The Wisps that were directly behind and around it stumbled over its now-halved body as it fell out of the air, and with a quick lunge that seemed to take no more effort than riding the ripples of the pond Undine speared another Wisp on her tip.

But now the cloud of angry magic mobs had gotten all the closer to Ardur, and some of them had managed to angle away on his sides. From three directions, a barrage of Mana Orbs flew towards him--!

Deep Forest

Femus dove out of the way of the claw, and it came down like a heavy rake into the earth behind him. As it carved a furrow through the herbs, the Wisp twisted and took aim before firing Shock Round II. The yellow sphere launched at higher speed now, and its movement was more like a zigzag than a lazy loop-de-loop. The Hobgoblin had to pull its arm, or its weapon, out of the ground before it could turn to face Femus again--giving the spell the time it needed to strike. The creature let out a high pitched yelp as electricity surged through its body from the leg upward--and then, as it fell to one knee, all of its muscles seemed to tense at once as its movements locked! That "paralysis" the Skill Update had mentioned must have triggered!

Femus pushed himself out of the way even further with his Lesser Force skill. The Hobgoblin continued to struggle, making grumbling and gurgling noises behind its mask. As the Wisp started the 10 second charge up period for Static Bolt, the creature seemed to be trying to force itself to move...

One Mississippi. Two Mississippi.

The hobgoblin gasped, and managed to clench and unclench its other fist. It clawed at the soil of the ground to try and push itself back up...

Five Mississippi. Six Mississippi.

With a snarl, the monster stood up. It yanked its bony arm out of the ground.

Eight Mississippi. Nine Mississippi.

It turned to Femus and looked at his glowing body. Then it noticed the glowing, crackling static building up in a small circle underneath its own feet. It pushed with both legs to launch away from the groun--


If it hadn't been for the sheer luck of paralysis triggering, there would have been no way Femus could have cast the spell in time. Even with that boon, he barely made it. But the bolt of electricity jumped from the Wisp, straight into the strangely clad Hobgoblin's chest. Its body actually lit up from the inside for a split second, showing a completely normal skeleton holding the arm of another skeleton under all the robes. The monster was knocked away by the blast, but because of Femus's change in position this meant it was actually knocked closer to the Great Kao Tree.

Meanwhile, in the tree, Nira had drank from her own Aqua Sphere. She received a notice from the System that her thirst had been quenched, once she had finished the whole thing. Only then did she look around and notice Femus being attacked near the herb patch. She cast her Shield spell quickly, and the protective glow enveloped her friend's body. But then, as she prepared a Mana Orb between her hands, Femus unleashed that brand new lightning skill he had apparently figured out. She watched as the hobgoblin was blown backwards, its black cloak even more black now that it had fresh burn marks. She had to struggle to hold onto her Mana Orb as she waited for the right moment--it seemed like power was actually building within the spell the longer she tried to hold on.

The hobgoblin hit the ground. Groaning, it began to push itself was dazed, but not defeated. It turned towards Femus, and behind its mask its eyes actually seemed to glow with rage. Once again it snarled and brandished its long, skeletal hand--just as Nira shot it in the back.

The Mana Orb let out a crackling sound not all that dissimilar to the actual electricity spells, and once again drove the hobgoblin into the dirt. This time it was face first, however, knocking off that eerie facemask and revealing a somewhat regular, though scarred and wrinkled, hobgoblin face. And this time the creature did not get back up.

With the monster dead, Femus didn't get to use the next phase of his plan. But at least the threat was gone now...or at least, this particular threat. One could never be too safe out here...
Rat Party

Skill Gain: Breath Control I (0.8 > 1.0)!
Through cardiovascular exercise and breathing techniques, the efficiency of your lungs has increased. You can hold your breath for longer, and breathe more steadily even under great effort or stress. Stamina usage for most physical Skills is reduced for one minute after this Skill is used. If this skill is used after a battle, Stamina restoration is sped up for one minute.

Skill Gain: Mana Strike I (0.7 > 1.0)!
Infuse a physical attack with non-elemental Magic to increase its damage. The attack's physical type of damage is unaffected, but Magic damage is simply added. Thus a creature with Slash Resistance would still take the Magic Damage if this Skill were used with a sword. Like Mana Orb, this technique is malleable and often a starting point for other forms of enchanting skills.

Skill Gain: Point Strike I (0.6 > 1.0)!
With a discerning eye, take aim at an oppenent's weak point and concentrate your own power into a single point of attack. Slightly increase the power of any attack, and gain an increased chance for a Critical Hit. Using this Skill in conjunction with other attack Skills, however, may cause it to lose effectiveness.

Skill Gain: Strengthen I (0.6 > 1.0)!
Using magical energy channeled through your muscles, temporarily increase your base physical strength! Though it consumes more mana than many other beginner spells, its boost is equivalent to the passive skill Stronger I. At this Rank, this skill lasts roughly one minute.

You are experiencing a Fast Rate in Experience Growth.

Skill Gain: Slash I (0.7 > 1.0)!
Expend Stamina to increase the power of a Slashing physical attack.

Skill Gain: Suppress Presence I (0.6 > 1.0)!
Using your magical power, you subtly mask your presence from the senses of others around you. By comparison, it's a similar ability to those shy people who seem to disappear at the corner of the crowd's vision as they hover in the corner.

The rats rested, from mid-afternoon until the evening sun set. At one point, just as the stars were beginning to peek out, the creak of wagon wheels drifted on the air and a distant light appeared from the direction of the lakeside town. Ed lay in the tall grass, the dark robe he had stolen from the dead kobold helping to conceal his body in the shadows. Asteria and Mother Rat were back inside the barrow at this point, but they could see out the entry way.

A black wagon, drawn by a brace of gray mules, stopped along the road. A tall figure, in a coat with long black tails and a deep hood, stood from the driver's seat. From the build, it seemed to be a male. A sword with a broad scabbard and a hilt that looked like it had been made from black, twisted wood, hung from his hip. He pulled on two white, velvet gloves, immaculately clean, then picked up a cane with a red, crystalline sphere atop its head. Hopping down from the cart, he walked over to the side of the road and looked in the ditch, not too far from where Ed lay...

He tapped one of the human bandit's bodies with the butt of his walking stick. A shimmering white mist seemed to roll over the corpses...and suddenly they didn't seem to smell so badly, despite laying out in the sun for most of the day. The hooded figure seemed to be muttering something, one hand held near his head. A prayer? Then he used his cane to gesture at the ground, and mounds of earth rose up beneath the bodies. Moving his strange wand like a conductor's baton, he bade the rolling soil to carry the bodies up out of the ditch, about thirty feet away from the road. Then, holding the stick, he began to gesture with his free hand instead. In moments the ground had swallowed up the bodies, and the earth packed itself down.

Then he turned to the bodies of the remaining hobgoblin and the kobold. These he did not pray over. Instead, he reached down with one hand and grabbed the hobgoblin by the arm. With a grunt, and only that one arm, he tossed the body all the way across the ditch into the back of his cart. One of the mules brayed in irritation as the weight thumped across the wooden floorboards. The hooded figure paid his animal no mind. Off sailed the kobold as well.

There were just a few spots of blood on those immaculate white gloves. The black clad man pulled them off, first one hand and then the other, in such a way that his pale skin never touched the blood and the gloves were rolled into a sort of pouch. He returned them to his pocket. Then he climbed up onto the wagon, clicked his tongue at the mules, and turned back towards Laketown. The orange glow of the little lantern, held on a shepherd's crook fastened to one corner of the cart, tilted this way and that as it slowly disappeared into the night...

By the time the rats re-grouped and planned to put their Bandit Hunting plan into action, Asteria and Mother Rat had eaten some of the hobgoblin meat remaining in the shelter. Asteria had also suckled on the juices of several tall stalks of grass out in the field. If she had been any thirstier, such little sustenance would have been of no help, but it slaked her Dry Throat. And she was now Well Fed, according to the system. Her stamina recovered much faster and was full again sooner than Ed's. He had neglected to eat or seek out anything to drink, in favor of just focusing on his breathing and trying to stretch or massage the soreness out of his muscles. His stamina did eventually recover, and it seemed he had gained several new skills...but his lips were still a little dry, and he felt the slow burn of hunger in his gut.

As they began their journey, with Asteria scouting ahead and using her Beast Senses to try and stay abreast of any threat, the night fell proper with a chill breeze. Asteria soon heard a familiar shuffling and clicking, and the rustle of the grass, quite some distance away. Now knowing what direction to look in, she would be able to see, poking its head up out of the ground, a Myrminor Scout. It didn't seem to have any awareness of the rodent trio's presence, and it was far enough away that even if it found them and tried to pursue them it probably couldn't ever catch them. They could avoid it at their leisure, or attempt to sneak up on it and end the fight quickly...

Over the hill in the distance, as the wind changed direction, the rats could smell a hint of smoke...
Clearing >> Cave >> Elder's Chamber

Seeking Answers
@Dark Light@RC3

His brother missed the shot, as expected. The frog was slow to turn, slow to react. The other goblin was also charging, perhaps mimicking Saito, drawing back his fist. But as the frog croaked yet again--perhaps in preparation for something, they would never find out--Saito's blow crashed into the back of its head. A dangerous weak point for any creature, right where the skull met the spine. His companion followed up a beat afterwards, and they felt cartilage and bone crumple under their knuckles.

The creature slumped over. Saito blinked as he caught his breath, and stepped back from the corpse. He looked at his brother, then put his broad hands on his scrawny hips.

"Well done." He bent down to examine the frog for a moment. "You did most of the work, though it did not fall in your trap. I'll take just a bit, and you can use the innards or leftovers as bait instead. Sound fair?"

Taking one of the beast's Sharp Frog Fangs, Saito worked its point at one of the fat amphibious legs until he had ripped it out of the hip socket. He stood up, bowed his head not quite below eye-level to his brother as a sign of respect, then turned to head back to the cave.

He looked up at the sun, and at the various trees, as he walked and took a bite out of the Dragon Frog's leg. He chewed, working his mind in concert with his jaw.

What was this world? Where were they? What other places might be nearby? The cave was made of rock--was it connected to the base of a mountain? How far did this forest go? There had to be water somewhere. He wanted to find it, since the blood of his prey could only slake his thirst for so long. But, he also wondered what other creatures might be in this forest. Somehow, he got the sense that he might have gotten lucky thus far. What if he ran into something that didn't curl up and sit there like the Shrew, or that was faster and smarter than the frog? If he kept exploring like this, surely he would run into something somewhere that he couldn't handle.

He entered the clearing in front of the cave, and looked around to see what other goblins had returned from their hunts as well as what they had caught. And it was here that he had a realization: the other goblins! That old goblin, the one who had named him, the one who had marked his head just two days ago when he could hardly move his own limbs. Perhaps that goblin could answer his questions...but just where was the fellow?

Saito bit another chunk out of the frog leg. He had gnawed most of it down to the bone now, and he rolled the meat around in his mouth as he debated whether or not he liked the flavor. Once again he entered the cave and headed to his corner near the wall. He examined the ground intently to make sure no other goblins had been messing around with his stash of hunting trophies. He also hid the Sharp Frog Fang the same way, and finished off the last webbed toe on his frog leg before tossing the bone back with the other gristly bits he had collected.

If he used that sharp fang, maybe he could eventually poke some holes in that Shrew's hide...and then maybe thread some vines through it, so that he could use it what? Some form of protection that he could wear, like his loincloth? That would be a project for later. For now, he wanted to find the elder...

As the auburn-haired goblin's amber eyes gazed about the cave, he eventually settled on the dark crevice in the very back. He had never gone back there before. Was there another side to the cave, another exit? If the old goblin wasn't out here...maybe he wasn't out hunting, either. So it followed reasoning, especially now that Saito was well fed and his thoughts were clear, that the elder might also be further inside the cave.

Goblin Saito headed deeper into the darkness, his eyes making out the dim surroundings more easily than he had thought they would.

"Ah...Elder? Are you back here?" he called, his voice echoing back and forth between the narrow walls. He thought it sounded odd, to hear his own voice. "I...I have questions, for you. Things I would know about these lands."

Monster Party

You used Crafting I!
You are attempting to repair an item.
Your crafting process has boosted your efficiency!
You are using the Skill, Soil Manipulation II, to boost crafting efficiency.
Rusty Chipped Arming Sword (Very Poor, Bloody) + Whetstone (Well Made)
Unexpected: The quality (Bloody) has increased your crafting method efficiency.
Your Skill boost has prevented the degredation of the item.
Your Skill boost has prevented the degredation of the item.
You are using the Skill, Overwork I, to boost crafting efficiency.
Your Skill boost has increased the quality of the item.
Your crafting process has increased the quality of the item.
The quality of your material, Whetstone (Well Made) has increased the quality of the item.

Repair completed.
Obtained Item: Steel Arming Sword (Average, Slightly Brittle)!
You used Material Analysis II on the weapon.
A common sword, mass produced for levied soldiers or adventurers by professional smiths. The iron used in its construction is of standard quality and has bonded well to carbon in the forge, producing proper steel. --This item has been repaired, but the wear and tear cannot be fully restored. Its durability is reduced. --This is a Medium Item by most standards. For your Species it is Heavy and requires two hands to use. You possess the Skill, Use Light Equipment. You possess the Skill, Stronger I. This weapon is suitable for your Job, Skirmisher. Negative substat enhancements have been lessened by one stage. --When using this weapon, you feel your physical attacks are much stronger. However, its weight makes it slightly slower.

You used Crafting I!
Leather Strips (Poor) x2 + Unknown Pelt (Poor) + Hex Cat Pelt (Poor) + Hard Shell (Average) + Dirty Cloth Strips (Very Poor) x4 + Long Grass

You have crafted an item of this type before. Effectiveness boosted.
The number of Items you have used boosts the quality of your items.
Obtained Item: Reinforced Fur Bag (Below Average)!
You used Material Analysis II on the item.
This bag, made from various furs, is a little bit stinky and prone to soaking up water. Nonetheless it is fairly sturdy and will suitably hold items. The Hex Cat fur, and the piece of Hard Shell, along with extra strips of cloth to bind it together, has boosted the pack's durability somewhat against both magic and physical damage; items held inside are less likely to break. This item can hold up to 12 Small Items, or the equivalent combination of items at larger sizes.

Skill Rank Up: Crafting I > Crafting II! (1.05 > 1.55 > 2.0)!
Crafting Complexity Increased. Stamina Requirement Decreased.

Your Stamina is Low.
You are Peckish.
Your throat is Dry.

LEVEL UP! Your combined experiences have culminated in new power! You are now Level 10! You gain Skill points to distribute as you please!

Unspent Skill Points: 11 [[OOC:+5 level, +5 Xmas/NY/Hiatus bonus, +1 1500 posts bonus]]

Current Skills:
**Use Light Equipment (--)
Tremor Sense III (3.275)
-Soil Manipulation II (2.9125)
Stone Shot II (2.125)
Taboo I (1.0)
*Stronger I (1.5)
**Sacred Ground II (2.375)
Rock Spire II (2.2)
Earth Affinity I (1.3)
Meditate I (1.5)
Earth Vein II (2.425)
-Spell Chant I (1.2)
Monster Analysis I (1.4)
Material Analysis II (2.65)
Plant Analysis I (1.4)
*Mental Resistance I (1.25)
Fortify I (1.15)
*Mana Orb II (2.175)
**Shield II (2.55)
Overwork I (1.95)
Mana Affinity I (1.1)
Magic Analysis II (2.65)
Analysis (--)
**Earth Wall II (2.2)
*Minor Heal I (1.4)
Guidance I (1.95)
*Dual Cast I (1.25)
Lucid Dream I (1.0)
Crafting II (2.0)
*Quake (0.5)
*Point Strike (0.7)
*Smash (0.7)
Throw Item (0.4)
Charisma (0.6)
*Mana Strike (0.6)
Focus (0.6)
*Stone Fist (0.6)
*Stone Breaker (0.6)
Intimidate (0.6)
-Scribe (0.2)
*Fire Resistance (0.3)
Demon Affinity (0.25)
Underground Movement (0.5)
**Use Medium Equipment (0.2)
Faster (0.3)
Alert (0.2)
Pacify Animal (0.3)
Inspire (0.3)
Spiritual Awareness (0.3)
Lesser Cleanse (0.2)
Iron Gullet (0.1)
Wall (0.2)
Mana Shape (0.3)
Deception (0.4)
Charm (0.2)
Mana Drain (0.1)
Rabid Fit (0.2)
Mana Surge (0.1)
*Condense Earth (0.1)

YOUR BODY IS BEGINNING TO CHANGE! You are undergoing Transformation! Based on your life experiences, your ability to survive, and the strength of your will, new paths have appeared! Choose carefully--there is no going back! WARNING. THIS PROCESS WILL LEAVE YOU TEMPORARILY VULNERABLE.

OPTIONS (* Indicates Suitability):
-(Adult) Demiblin (Stone-Hardened + Mystic = Crystal Variance. Boost previous variances) - Goblins that have been influenced by demonic energies, often committing acts that even make their brethren pause or else being influenced by a greater demonic being. They are roughly the same size as normal goblins but tend towards the taller and more muscular side of the average. Their skin darkens until it becomes almost ink black, and they often develop strange magical sigils on their skin. They show increased aptitudes for magic.
  • Slight increase to base stats.
  • Increase Demon Affinity (reduced).
  • Job:Skirmisher Suitable Skills Boosted (reduced)
  • Increase Potential
  • Taboo Offering

***(Adolescent) Svartblin (Retain Variances) - An unusual monster that some consider to be on the boundary between the Englightened and Monstrous races. Its height and general proportions are roughly the same as goblins, but Svartblins tend to have broader shoulders and chests, thicker arms and legs, and much greater intelligence. The males tend to be bald, and their skin is a stony gray in color. They favor deep tunnels, often going for long periods without sunlight, and have a disposition for mining.
  • Slightly increase all base-stats
  • Increase Tremor Sense (reduced)
  • Increase Earth Affinity (reduced)
  • Gain Access to New Jobs: Miner and Builder

**(Adolescent) Hobgoblin (Retain Variances) - These advanced goblins develop darker skin colors, their former green bodies turning a shade of the forest or changing tint slightly to blues or browns. They are a foot taller than goblins on average, and while their proportions are similar their extra mass shifts towards a more wiry, muscular form. With greater intelligence but about the same level of maturity, if Goblins can be compared to vicious children then Hobgoblins could be mean-spirited teenagers. Their faces become slightly less ugly, and they grow more hair much like various humanoids.
  • Increase all base stats
  • Gain Medium Equipment Skill (reduced)
  • Job:Skirmisher Suitable Skills Boosted (reduced)

*(Adolescent) Bluecap (Stone-Hardened + Mystic = Crystal Variance. Boost previous variances) - These are goblins who have been changed by magical energies. Their skin changes hue to various shades of blue, and their hair grows in more fully thus granting them their namesake. While their defensive stats won't increase as fast, they are still a relatively balanced monster and may have various spells to add to their previous form's versatility. Their increase in intelligence often puts these -blins in a good position to control a tribe or advise a boss.
  • Slightly increase base strength-and-speed stats
  • Increase Mana Orb (reduced)
  • Increase Shield (reduced)

--(Adolescent) Gremlin (Retain Variances) - These lanky-limbed, hunched creatures are often blamed by superstitious villagers for all sorts of mischief. More predatory than normal goblins and preferring solitude to tribes, these creatures often form small groups of two or three in the deepest tunnels, and stalk the darkness for prey. They are quite a bit faster than Goblins, but not much stronger or more durable. Because they have adapted for life in caves they have trouble outdoors.
  • Slightly increase base strength-and-defense stats
  • Increase speed stats
  • Increase Dextrous (reduced)
  • Increase Muffle (reduced)
  • Gain Sunlight Vulnerability

---(Adolescent) Bugbear (Retain Variances) - Bugbears are an evolved form of the Goblin. Less suited to the natural cleverness or deftness of their smaller cousins, they more than make up for this with their toughness and strength. Their thick fur allows them to venture out from their caves or huts into many different environments. Their strength allows them to use larger types of equipment, and they'll often bully other goblins around as the leaders of small tribes. They can almost never work together with other Bugbears, as the species is highly aggressive and competitive.
  • Slightly increase speed-and-defense stats
  • Increase base strength stats (reduced)
  • Increase Medium Equipment skill (reduced)
  • Increase Stamina

*(Adolescent) Redcap - Goblins that, like the Bugbear, value physical strength but also have enough intelligence they could be considered "tactical" often transform into these red-skinned, larger-than-usual goblinoids. Redcaps are more militaristic than normal goblins and make excellent tribal chieftains, but are also industrious and begin to develop more skill in using tools and equipment. However, their tribes are often very small, as a Redcap's demand for excellence leads to many desertions.
  • Increase base strength stats (reduced)
  • Increase Weapon Affinity (reduced)
  • Gain Medium Equipment Skill

***(Adolescent) Palablin (Retain Variances)(Very Low Chance Variant) - E̷̡͘R̶̮̚R̷̖͘Ỏ̶̙R̷̦̚.̶̩̔ ̷͖̃U̸̺͗N̴̖̅K̶̖̇N̸͇͆Ő̷̜W̷̟̓N̶̨̕ ̵̗͠M̸̞͝Ȯ̵̲N̴̯̐S̵͚̈T̴̎͜E̸͕͌R̷̺̋ ̸͖̈́T̸̹̚Y̷̝͒P̵̥͗Ē̸̱.̸̻̎ ̸̬̎S̵̬̓Ẹ̴͊A̸͇͂R̷̥̋C̴̮̽Ḣ̵̻I̴̗͑N̶͍͋G̵̲̈ ̷̘̇S̸̯͌Y̶͗ͅṠ̴͖T̴̜̚E̵̠̿M̶̬͋ ̸̱̆B̴̜͊A̴͖̅Ṣ̷̋E̸͉̓.̵͈͘.̸̧̈́.̸̦̍
> Insert new {M-Type(Feral[SocialTrue<RetrieveAll.Standard>])}
> Input meta {PALABLIN(Desc)}...

A never-before seen Goblin-subtype, created under circumstances that have not been replicated. It may be impossible for other Goblins to achieve...or is it? If the Demiblin is a Goblin that has garnered the favor of Demons, this Goblin has instead gained the favor of something else. However, even if it is not a Demon, there is always a price for power. Fair trade is the means by which two parties prosper. The Palablin's skin will lighten, from greens to whites or yellows and in between, or a lighter hue of any other pattern such as that of a Blue- or Redcap. They are of a similar size to hobgoblins and demiblins, but their eyes seem to gleam with a greater intelligence.
  • Gain Blessings/Offer Prayers
  • Job:Skirmisher Suitable Skills Boosted (reduced)
  • Slightly Increase All Stats
  • Remove Taboo (reduced)

With the loose soil he had collected, and his practiced Soil Manipulation spell, Digbie had a much better control over the sanding process than if he had tried to do things the "proper way," owing to his lack of both "real" and "System-given" blacksmith skills. And, since the blood from the goat was still fresh, it served the purpose of water in helping the dirt to stick and wash off the rust flakes. Unlike water, it wouldn't be damaging to the weapon, and its natural oily, organic properties from the goat's fatty tissues helped to polish the blade. It stuck to the dirt, so by the time Digbie had finished that part he had cleaned all the blood off of the sword as well. Leaving organic oils from one's hand or victims on a sword could be just as damaging as leaving it in the mud. He then took the whetstone to the still-degraded weapon, and began to hone it until his arms were sore. Then he honed it some more. The little goblin went to his "craft" with such gusto he began to work up a sweat, and soon the blade's edges had been re-sharpened and its flat had, for the most part, been cleared of rust...There was still some roughness along its spine, and the cruciform metal bar across the guard still wasn't in the best shape, but it was now once again a fully functional weapon! With all of this grinding, however, a good bit of material had been lost in microscopic scrapes, and the blade looked a little more worn down than it probably had in the weapon's heyday.

He then set to work making another bag, and this one came out a little better. The Hard Shell only covered a single section of the bag's back, but the extra straps and the thick fur seemed much sturdier this time. More material meant the bag could hold more as well, and it looked like these hides had already been cured by time out in the sun thanks to the other goblins. It likely wouldn't rot or degrade as much over time as Ash's rawhide pack had done.

Oberon delayed choosing his next transformation, instead attempting to learn Stone Shot and see if that would affect his options. When he activated his Mana Sense, which for him manifested as glowing fog in his sight, he could only see the faintest glimpse of a metallic gold mist around the pebble in his hand. When he channeled his own mana into the stone, it was a light blue, almost white vapor. It gathered around the stone and then seemed to suffuse into the surface. The golden mana signature did not budge against Oberon's energy, however, as it filled the stone to the brim...and then, when it seemed its physical capacity had been reached, the gold color began to creep out from its edges. If one imagined the mana fog in Oberon's sight like regular fog, made of myriad microscopic droplets of water, then this creeping change in energy was like each of those droplets turning on their head to reveal a new side like the face of a coin. From light blue, to gold, the mana "flipped" outward in straight lines like cracks spreading across glass.

When the pebble had been entirely suffused with golden colored fog, Oberon hurled it as hard as he could at the ground. There was a slight flash as he released it, but the pebble only bounced along the ground as it normally would under the Sprite's somewhat negligible strength. Using Lesser Force, Oberon repeated the process, only this time he held the stone out in his hand and tried to focus on propelling it forward. After several moments of concentration, there was a jerk of sorts, and the stone leaped out of his hand like a jumping bean...though it only flopped to the ground once more. Rather than a constant propulsive force like a rocket, it was as if one marble had smacked into another and sent it rolling in a different direction.

You are experiencing a Rapid Rate of Skill Progression

You have chosen the Job:Witch!
Skill Suitability will now affect Skill progression.
Equipment Suitability will now alter substat enhancements.

You equipped Vine Greaves (Good)! You feel slightly tougher. The weight of these items may interfere with your Job related skills. --You possess the Skill, Stronger I. Negative substat enhancement negated.

You equipped Vine Bracers (Poor, Below Average)! You feel somewhat tougher. The weight of these items may interfere with your job related skills. --You possess the Skill, Stronger I. Negative substat enhancement negated.

You used Mana Vision!
---Mana Slice I---

As Ash offered Torrent her advice, and then turned her glowing eyes on her own magic, she saw the light blue, almost white energy take the familiar crescent moon shape. It was so thin as to be nearly two-dimensional, and she could see three of the square bits along its center line--one at the vertex of each end of the crescent, and one in the center. Those oscillating lines connected all three...but, there were also smaller squares of Mana vibrating all along the spell's length, running in a loop like a chainsaw's namesake. The entire image, in her enhanced sight, looked like it had been pixelated by a computer.

Torrent tried once again with a new method, although as she concentrated and tried to add some form of Wind mana to the compressed and heated light and then tried to release it like a bullet, in one burst, she felt something like a static shock. Only it seemed to be inside her nerves. For a split second it was almost-painful, but then she released the spell.

The "bullet" of light left her mouth with a literal "pew" sound, striking the water and sending up a gout of steam--and with a stutter almost like a sneeze, she released another bullet, and then another rapid fire, until it wasn't bullets but a continuous stream! The beam had a little recoil to it, forcing her head up just a bit, and the stream of now-blinding light arced across the stream and burned a small furrow in the dirt on the other side. As Torrent's mouth shut, flames licked the edges of the singe marks for a moment before they died out.

Skill Gain: Breath Beam I (0.8 > 1.0)!
Condense Light Mana into a single, continuous beam released from the mouth. Unlike many spells like Mana Orb that are condensed and released, consistent application is needed to keep the beam steady. It also does not consume a set amount of MP, but rather a continuous drain as long as the spell is maintained. Given normal atmospheric conditions, it has perhaps the longest range of any basic breath spell, traveling up to 120 feet. However, unless it is focused on the same target for several moments, its damage is not quite as intense and the longer the distance, the more power will be lost before initial contact.

PixieSlime Party

The gooey red mallet came down on the Skeleblin's cranium with a crack, knocking a hole in the hollow skull. But still the creature wasn't down for the count yet, although its movements had become even more uncoordinated. Asura was calling out to Mother Slime, advising her on how to break the Fanged Lizard's neck, but in this moment of distraction the Skeleblin struck him with its mace. His Bowhorn Skull shell gave a loud crack, and one of its horns broke off.

Trent, having finished with the Zombie Fanged Lizard, now turned and pointed at one of the Bone Pixies that had joined the battle. "Mana Orb, First Rank!" The crackling magic collected at the tip of his sword and surged forward. With a sound like bowling a strike, the skeletal fairy was blasted apart. "I only have enough Mana for one more First Rank spell, and only one recovery phial!" he announced, just as he raised his shield to deflect yet another javelin from the Zomblin. "What's this about a sword, Asura?"

Steve, having slammed the two Wisps into the ground, now scuttled forward to sink her poisonous fangs deep into another one. It struggled for a moment, then went still.

Mother Slime wasn't sure what Asura was trying to communicate to her, but she latched onto the creature's head with her membrane and rolled backwards. Her enormous weight kept the body pinned, and her smooth circular surface acted like a medieval stretching rack. The reptile's spine and skull gave way with a sickening crack, and the purple lights in its eyes went out. She immediately began digesting the body, and rolled back to the front to face the next wave of enemies.

Asura surged forward, leaving the Skeleblin be for now, and coiled himself around the other Wisp that Steve had trapped. He put pressure on its fragile body, letting his digestive acids burn into it, and with a squelch he felt the Wisp's internals give way.

Skill Gain: Slime Coil I (0.95 > 1.0)!
A more advanced skill that comes naturally to slimes, especially if they survive long enough to become skilled hunters. Like a snake or a tentacled sea creature, they envelop an enemy or object and apply incredible force to it. This Skill can be maintained while using others as well, though it decreases the damage somewhat. An enemy trapped in Slime Coil takes continuous damage over time at the expense of the user's stamina. --You have the Skill, Limited Shapeshift. Slime Coil allows shifted limbs to have better grip. --You have the Skill, Throw Item. Slime Coil allows an item to be pulled more forcefully when throwing. --You have the Skill, Stronger. Slime Coil's damage is increased though it remains at Rank I. --You have the Skill, Cling. Enemies will have a harder time escaping Slime Coil, though it remains at Rank I.

The skeleblin managed to get its remaining foot under it, and launched itself forward. Its rinky-dink shield slammed into Asura from behind, knocking him over due to its leverage. Once again it swung its club at him.

Above the Zombie Fanged Lizard that Trent had decapitated, a small orb flickered into being. The Ghost Wisp fired a single Mana Orb at the closest enemy it could see, which at this point happened to be Steve, and the spider only barely managed to leap out of the way. The Ghost Wisp faded away immediately afterward--for some reason it didn't have as much MP as the others?

The other Bone Pixie dived down at Trent. While it was in flight, the assimilated living Pixie extended its hand and cast the familiar Shield spell around its ally. The Bone Pixie, once within range, tried to claw out Trent's eyes. The apprentice knight lifted his shield, and when the pixie crashed into its rim he used the defensive implement like a big circular swatter. The undead fairy was dashed against the ground, one half of its frame crushed and mangled, and Trent stepped on what was left mercilessly in order to grind the bones to dust. At that moment, however, a Mana Orb from yet another assimilated Wisp--having now taken up position a little further ahead of the Zomblin--slammed into Trent's chest. He stumbled back, almost fell, and barely regained his feet. He was breathing harder now, but seemed okay.

A bright green blob suddenly dropped from the ceiling, right on top of Steve. The Spider hissed, clacking her mouth parts as she bucked and eventually threw the core-controlled Slime off, but the chitin along her back had been damaged by its acid. She spat a gooey glob of webbing that bound the Slime in place, but the creature began to rapidly eat through it...

A sudden shift in the earth below Momma Slime gave way to a Dire Rat with that sinister light in its eyes, and it ripped at a piece of her membrane with claws and fangs. She gave a loud rumble of pain and tried to 'mash it, but the beast disappeared back into its tunnel only to pop back up and attack again as soon as the great blue slime had withdrawn her pseudopod.

There were more monsters coming now, so thick that the ground fairly crawled with them and sometimes the walls and ceiling too. Four Wisps could be seen coming up and over like a fleet of miniature bombers. Three Zombified Lizards were moving up another row ahead of the Zomblin its nearby Wisp, like artillery prepared to launch another battery. They were joined by another trio of living lizards, working in concert. And, in the distance, three more shambling corpses of Goblins were getting closer with that strange, frantic slowness of a zombie that makes them all the more inevitable and terrifying. Beyond them, more and more shadows were gathering. That red light was pulsating in a different rhythm now...somehow, it almost seemed like laughter.

Meanwhile, Ardur's wings beat like a hummingbird's as he flew past the oncoming crowd of Wisps. He swung his bone club, driving all the momentum he could muster into the first tinkling ball of light he passed. His powerful muscles, and the speed he had built up, allowed him to smash right into the magical monster and leave it falling towards the ground with a trail of blood spatter.

But there were still at least a dozen of the monsters left. And as Ardur banked hard to one side, they followed him like a flock of angry bells and lightning bugs. An entire barrage of Mana Orbs were launched after him--he had only moments to think of what he would do to try and evade them all. But, it seemed like his plan was working--there were still monsters on the shore moving to try and flank his friends, but he had drawn the Wisps away so that they were no longer pinned in the chokepoint passage.

Up ahead, he could just barely see Undine floating on top of the water, waiting for him to deliver the goods--if he could survive long enough to make it...

Deep Forest

Nira realized that in order for the fog vapor to become liquid, it would need to cool. And she imagined that in order to hold its shape, it would need to condence. Though momentarily distraced by Femus's new electrical spell, she visualized a tiny droplet forming, growing bigger and bigger as the air around it grew colder. She felt the air around her hands chill, and recalled the sensation of water, willing the mist between her hands to coalesce tightly into one sphere, stable and ready to go.

Skill Gain: Aqua Sphere I (0.7 > 1.0)!
By charging a small amount of water with mana, create a sphere of pressurized liquid to be launched at the target. While it does not require ammunition so to speak, this spell works better if there is water in the environment or in heavy humidity. Its range, damage, and MP cost are virtually identical to Mana Orb, but its nature as a Water spell varies its power based on elemental properties of the target.

There, floating between her hands as if suspended in zero gravity, was a ball of rippling water the size of a baseball. The leaves around her had lost all of their dew, and some of them even looked a little wilted--had the spell drawn water vapor out of the environment?

Femus's small flame created by Static Bolt had gone out, having not quite caught onto nearby plants thanks to a lack of wind. As he meditated to restore his mana, he mulled over his options until the System let him know that his MP was full. He took a close look at his Blue Yill and used Plant Analysis in the hopes that it would tell him how long it would take the flower to bear seeds.

You used Plant Analysis I! You have used Magic Analysis on this plant before, effectiveness boosted by 25%.
---Blue Yill Flower---
The Yill species of flowering plants are adaptable and conducive to magic, so depending on where they grow and what kind of ambient energy is present they often change forms. The Blue Yill has absorbed a great deal of raw mana. This plant is fully grown and flowered, and will soon enter the seeding phase. The Blue Yill can be used to restore one's mana if eaten raw, and if mixed with various other ingredients is often used to boost magical potency of potions.

Afterward he ate one and a half of the remaining Kele shoots, leaving the same amount left for Nira. The System informed him that his cravings had changed from Very Hungry to just...Hungry. While the Kele tasted quite similar to scallions and were probably nutritious, there just weren't a lot of them and by themselves they might not have enough energy producing carbohydrates or sugars.

But now, while he noticed Nira was still practicing her spell, he headed back down to the herb patch in search of a plant that might have more water in its stalks. He found here several bright green herbs that had a minty, but also slightly antiseptic smell, as well as the flowers and colored ferns that Nira had found earlier. But before he could set about analyzing or picking them, a sudden shiver went down his spine.

Alert I has activated! There is a presence moving towards you from the trees at rapid speed!

Almost on reflex he jerked in the direction of his rising hairs, just in time to see something vaguely humanoid break through the bushes in a dead run at him! It looked about the same size and shape as the adult goblin warriors--no, wait! It was closer to that leader of theirs, the Hobgoblin Lansa! But it was wrapped in a tattered black cloak of some kind, and its head was similarly wrapped--but over its face, it wore the scalped upper plate of a Goblin skull, scraped free of gristle and left to bleach in the sun.

Though the creature had tried to sneak up on Femus, and was running at full tilt, the fact that his Alert skill had triggered meant he had a moment to react. And he had been watching, over the past few days even before he "awakened," that Hobgoblin and Redcap constantly dueling, so he had a good idea of a Hobgoblin's arm reach. He saw his attacker's shoulder rotating, so he knew a strike was coming...

But its range was all wrong.

An arm, twice as long as a Hobgoblin's should be, with too many joints, wrapped in black down to the second elbow, extended towards Femus. Its ulna and radius were white...bleached white bone, just like the plate on its face. And tipped with savage claws.


When Danny asked the system to show his HP and MP, he actually got the same answer as before. It seemed stopping the bleeding from his chest had simply kept the wound from getting any worse--as of yet he hadn't recovered any health. When poor little Miiba yelled at him, he used his Monster Analysis skill. She certainly didn't sound or act like a normal goblin...

You used Monster Analysis III!
Goblins stand between three and three-and-a-half feet tall on average, and they are much like human children. However, their natural cunning and viciousness is far more vile, and they especially despise all non-goblinoid creatures. They tend to form savage tribes with little in common save for the constant drive to survive, and a lack of emotional control that causes them to do whatever they feel necessary to satisfy any primal craving they happen to feel at any given moment. They are capable of learning, however, but most will never use this in a constructive fashion. They aren't typically capable of long-term planning and have difficulty with abstract concepts. This Goblin is unusual, like you...

The Cluckel at Miiba's feet turned out to not be dead, only unconscious. It stirred, but as it struggled to raise its head it wobbled drunkenly, then sat back down. Right now, it seemed like the goblinette and the bad glow ball were going to have a negotiation of sorts...

Meanwhile, as Jason continued to meditate, soon his MP was out of dangerous levels, though he still had not received a notice that it reached its usual "full" state. And when he had the opportunity to "look out of one eye," despite not really having ocular organs, he would be able to see that the two large sources of Mana--Mirabelle and Geir--had collected themselves and were heading towards the monster's location...

"Miiba! Where are you?" came Mira's call--and it sounded like Geir started to yell something, but either the magus hit him or he wasn't fully recovered, as the sound was cut off. As always, he sounded very angry.
@ERode I'm probably one of the worse offenders in all this so I'll try to clarify my thoughts on where I went wrong. When writing narrative descriptions or going into Saito's thoughts, I would use words or concepts that flowed naturally in the writing. Think of a cliche, something like the phrase "fit as a fiddle." But Goblins probably wouldn't have any idea what a fiddle was, or what being "as fit" as a fiddle would mean. When I proofread, any time I would find these "natural" phrases or thoughts, things that would immediately come to one's mind, but didn't match up with goblin instincts, I would add a bit about Saito questioning his own memories.

For instance, he likens the goblins running around to his toddlers, and then thinks "...What?" I did that because I thought a very strong memory, a parent's bond, would be something that would unconsciously rise up but that Goblin Saito would not recognize or understand it. This was probably too specific for RC3's purposes, so I shouldn't have done it anyway, but it was meant to be a fleeting thing that, if Saito were to actually try and recall, he would only see static or feel an abstract sense of something not quite right.

As for his martial arts prowess, I intended that to come through more strongly because of the fundamental concept of martial arts training, the muscle memory a practitioner builds up. This is Bruce Lee's "don't think, feel," or like any military training where a specific stimulus is simulated and the reaction to it is repeated, over and over, until the person's nervous system is wired to do it as a reflex. Like Dragon Ball's "Ultra Instinct," this is the cause of the supposed "sixth sense" martial artists are embellished to have. But I probably went too far even with that, as while Saito might instinctively settle into a "stance" that feels the most comfortable, or attack in the way that feels "best" when the "moment feels right," it probably shouldn't have come across as him actually retaining all of his technical knowledge.

I did intend from the beginning that he would have to "rebuild" a lot of his previous life's ability, because the "muscle memory" thing probably doesn't work out so well when you no longer actually have the same muscles and nerves that you spent so long training before.

But yeah I feel like I'm probably the one who bungled all this up the most, so take my examples above as a "don't do this" kind of thing. My apologies.
@RC3 Someone may have asked these already but just to be certain:

1. Is gaining skills/talents solely linked to practice or training (someone who does a basic drill with a sword eventually learns E-Rank Swordsmanship or some kind of attack like...E-Rank Cleaving Slash), or does it also depend on level ups (same example as before, except the skill gain doesn't trigger until the character's next level)? If it's the latter, are some skills locked until we reach the appropriate level? Like maybe we qualify for something based on training, but can't use it until we're level 50?

2. Can a Skill be used in a way that doesn't match its original properties? For instance, I noticed with Lunging Strike that its distance and speed are fairly quantified and increase with rank. So I was wondering if, even if using it locks Saito into a sort of "attack animation," could he still use it solely for mobility, or perhaps to cross a gap he couldn't normally jump? Would using a Skill this way contribute to its growth, or change its properties?

3. Can skills eventually be combined or synthesized, like Guy was talking about with the Sweet Scent and Paralytic Spores earlier? I don't just mean using two skills at the same time, I mean like, fusing into an entirely new skill.
@Haeo Hope you feel better soon man. No worries, updates always take me forever anyway. I intended to do a minor one before the weekend for other groups, but I've been kind of busy at work so I don't know if that will happen or not.
I am like 90% certain this frog is about to bullfrog-belch fire all over me. But the legend of One Punch Goblin must begin somewhere!
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