8: Premium Character

 

So,…I didn’t die. I should have died, but I didn’t. I’d waddled my dumb ass out into the wastes, like a noob gamer, all decked up in all the premium gear that his daddy’s credit card could pay for. And somehow, miraculously it worked out.

Don’t get me wrong I was hurt, looking like a mummy, wrapped up in towels and bandages to keep my inside parts from getting outside, while my body healed itself, but I was alive.

In my book alive, always counts as a win. Or at least that’s usually the case. There was always those pesky fates worse than death, but those were and few between in popping up, right?

(….Right?)

“[Status]” I gargled. Growling the words out through my broken jaw.

The status window popped into being, just like I had expected it to. Cool blue and semi-transparent just like in a video game.

******

Name: Desmond Bose
Age: 27
Level: 12
Race: Living Nightmare (Cambion Lord)
Affiliation(s):
Title(s): Partially-Omniscient, Immortal Sorcerer, Immortal Alchemist, Celestial Arcanist, Immortal Scholar, Keeper of Chaos and Order, Keeper of Secrets, Time Traveller, Cosmic Wanderer, Lord of the Pale Red Moon
Talent: 65
Attainments:
Body 265
Mind 162
Soul 168
Affinities: Time, Space, Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Metal, Light, Darkness, Life, Illusion
Abilities: Ruin & Restoration, Sublime Auto Recovery(Passive), Impermanence & Eternity, Mercurial Flesh(Passive), Indomitable Physique (Passive), All-Consuming (Passive), TPO (Passive), Vox Empyrean (Passive), Philosopher Lord’s Primal Catalyst, Immortal’s Determination (Passive), Time Traveller’s Paradox Protection (Passive), Entropy Manipulation, Energy Manipulation, Mana Manipulation, Many-Eyed (Passive), Waxing Moon, Waning Moon, Blood of Bright and Dark (Passive) , Liminal Bearing (Passive), Transdimensional Readjustment (Passive), Cosmic Traveller’s Privilege (Passive), Moon Lord’s Demesne, Ruler’s Aura (Passive), Devilish Good Looks (Passive), Nightmare’s Aura (Passive), Koschei’s Ink Stain, Extension of the Deep(Passive), Fortress of the Old One (Passive), Seal of Amrita(Passive)
Virtue: Temperance, Fortitude, Diligence
Vice: Lust, Wrath, Greed, Gluttony

******

I know I’ve said this already, but that breaking in my form and modification of my untamed essence, by all the alternate “me’s” was a good call, one future-me’s part. It was smart to the extent that I almost couldn’t believe that it was my idea.

By the time I’d been returned to the world, I was already level eleven. Counted as “Skilled” in this world’s standards for strength. Bearing the strength of ten men, or speaking more specifically, the strength or martial efficiency of ten “me’s”.

Killing that boar mother and child pushed me up into level twelve.

Naturally there were many changes since my time in that place of dark, wet, and cold.

For instance I was apparently a “Living Nightmare” of the “Cambion Lord” Variety now.

My archive said that the aside from the obvious dramatic changes that the switching of my race made on my non-existent base stats, it also came with some additional abilities.


I’d inherited a whole mess of titles from my other selves which did the same thing, either making me more intelligent and more grounded in my thought processes or making my thoughts more plain for me to understand.

My attainments would naturally rise as my life rose, and I got more talent points, fresh for the investing.

As for my abilities, I had a metric shit-ton of them and they were all focused on keeping me safe and comfortable. The exact kind of gift that a man could only give himself.  Indulgent in the extreme and exactly the kind thing I wanted.

As a preface I should probably say that the abilities recorded in the abilities slot of my status weren’t just a list of things that I could do. Nor were they a list of my skills.  If they were, it’d be even more obnoxiously long.

The future-me had egged on all my alternates forcing me to learn whatever they could teach me. And while far from gentle or humane. Being forced to let’s say, learning to pick a lock while a chitinous monster with your face pours flesh eating ants into a room, was a very effective way to make someone picks up the skill.

Of course they’ll probably die a few times before they get it, but they “will” learn.

(And Quickly.)

As such, all my “abilities” and all such abilities for levellers in general were more like special character traits that could either be invoked, or if they were marked passive, were always active all the time.

Like I said all the abilities I had were pretty much based on keeping me alive and in one piece, and above the sticky, shit-end of this world’s food chain. They were what allowed me to live in a relative level of safety and comfort if such a thing was possible in this new Agartha.

My titles were the things that gave me those abilities. Gifting me powers as well as a few not insignificant bumps to my base stats.

Starting from the top, my [Ruin & Restoration] ability basically allowed me to use a mixture of small scale time manipulation and mass to energy conversion to either age things forwards or backwards.

My [Sublime Auto Recovery] was an evolution of the [Greater Auto Recovery] that I’d had before and both basically amounted to being healing factors.

[Impermanence & Eternity] was pretty much a more esoteric version of [Ruin & Restoration] except that ability affected things like, the effects and lengths of magical or chemical reactions.

As I mentioned before [Mercurial Flesh] was a power that adapted me to any adverse changes in my environment, and made it so that anything that put me down once, had a harder time doing it a second time.

Having an [Indomitable Physique] just made my body strong all around. Tempering my bones, muscles, and viscera.

I kind of became  [All Consuming] by accident, it just sort of popped one day.

This was enough to freak out the Alternate-me who’d been working me over at the time and spooked my future-self. Which leaves me feeling uncertain about its appearance, but as far as I could figure, it was pretty exactly what it said on the tin. An ability to eat everything, and use absolutely anything for sustenance and recovery.

[TPO], my time, place, occasion, was stupidly named, but in my opinion it was the most handy of all my abilities. It was a mishmash of a hundred other lesser movement, and teleportation powers.

All of them gelled together to form an ability that allowed me to be pretty much anywhere and anywhen I needed to be. At least that was what it’d be once I got the hang of using it. For now it just let me jump around crossing thousand mile distances with a single step.

Which would be amazing all on its own if weren’t for the fact that half the time my destinations were random.

If I didn’t mind feeling shit for a few weeks, I could also apparently use it to “stop” time for a few seconds. For now it was just two seconds, but something told me that by time I got a little stronger the freeze frame would be something a little longer.

And the archive was telling me that mastered to its apex, those frozen seconds could be rolled back, for a brief span of time-reversal. A thing I was very interested in verifying one day.

[Ambrosial Tongue] was a cambion racial ability which let me add charming effects to everything I said. It was just dumb extra that came with the race change, and as someone who didn’t talk to people much and absolutely loathed, as in really fucking loathed, the idea of brainwashing and messing with people’s heads, it was pretty much useless to me.

[Ambrosial Tongue]’s evolution [Ambrosial Tongue]’s evolution, [Vox Empyrean], heightened the power so even the elements could be “charmed” by me. This basically meant that every word I said, could be made into a magic spell. Eventually as my soul and mind attainments rose, I’d find myself calling thunder from the heavens by just cursing.

Which made for a slightly more useful power, though no less scary, due to the fact that both versions had been passive. Meaning I had to work super hard, “Not” to use them.

[Philosopher Lord’s Primal Catalyst] was something I got for becoming, a titled immortal sorcerer, alchemist, and scholar and boosted my powers in magic, alchemy and esoteric study.

[Immortal’s Determination] just made it harder for me to die, and if this levelling system had had a proper hp and health bar attached, it’d basically be like the “second-chance” abilities in your average video game. They type that either saved by a single hp or snapped you into a recovery state after you’d lost all your health.

[Time Traveller’s Paradox Protection] made it so that I “could” go back and give my grandfather’s a good ducking, for raising such terrible parents for me if I so chose. And protected my current self from suddenly getting de-powered if I decided to chicken out on paying whatever steep as hell price, all those alternate me’s had required to get them to expend the time and effort to whip “my” weak ass into shape.

It also protected me from the de-aging and super-aging effects of temporal anomalies and spells like those included with my [Ruin & Restoration] ability.

[Entropy Manipulation] was fairly straightforward in that allowed me to convert all the unusable or “lost” energy in a system to a useable form.


Though for some reason the archive also said that it also made me “luckier” for some reason.

[Energy Manipulation] was similarly straightforward and just let manipulate energy flows, regardless of the form.

I had the feeling that once I got better at using my powers, those two, combined together, the ability to recover all lost energy, and the ability to manipulate all forms of energy, would become something stupidly broken and crazy useful.

(…I’m looking forward to it.)

[Mana Manipulation] was redundant and let me directly manipulate magical energy. There was the added annoyance of it boosting the power of my [Vox Empyrean], making it harder to suppress.

The oddly named [Many-Eyed] was more a power for my archive’s use than anything else. Though I could also use it to remotely view anyplace I’d ever been, any place with a reflection, and thanks to my [Lord of the Pale Red Moon] title, any place where the moon’s light had ever shone. It was also passive, so I had to concentrate to keep my view focused on just the stuff that the eyes in my head were seeing.

(*Sigh*…I’ve seen so many things I wish I hadn’t, already.)

[Waxing Moon] granted me heightened powers during the night-time, boosting my strengths and tweaking my physiology to make me, slightly more “ethereal” while the moon was out. The flow of the mana to my core grew so strong, on full moons that I’d apparently be able to level up just by sleeping.

[Waning Moon], like [Waxing Moon] was another title granted to me by my [Lord of the Pale Red Moon] title. And without going to deeply into the details it turned me into a sort of energy vampire whenever my vitals were low.

I couldn’t figure out what [Blood of Bright and Dark] was supposed to have done. The archive didn’t know either. All I knew is that it was yet another thing that made me a teensy bit stronger, and it also turned my hair pink for some reason.

[Liminal Bearing] came from my race change to a [Living Nightmare] version of Cambion. The archive says that it made, an existence, that was just slightly counter to the flow of reality. Simultaneously making both more and less real than your average being.

Like an imaginary beast made real, or a thought monster, which are apparently both actual things that were currently prowling around in my new world.

I could feed on people’s thoughts and harvest their feelings for energy. Being feared made me stronger, same for being hated. And my confidence level and other people’s confidence in me affected my overall physical state.

So yeah… it was just a minor add-on. Nothing special.

It did have the benefit of making any damage I experienced extra “ambiguous” though. Boosting the effecting of my [Immortal’s Determination] so that there was a chance that some of my deaths just wouldn’t stick.

In fact I was pretty sure that was the reason why I didn’t die during this first hunt. That boar totally flattened me, but somehow I was able to sort of shake it off, like a shady baseball player staying in the game even though he’d clearly been out.

[Transdimensional Readjustment] and [Cosmic Traveller’s Privilege] were both abilities I got from my [Cosmic Wanderer] title.

The first assured that if I was ever brought into a space of reality where everyone was let’s say, turned into ducks, I would either stay a man, or be turned into a duck with the same abilities, stats and level of consciousness of the man that I once was.

The second ability was more subtle and basically gave me a level of anonymity. Something like I a “neutrality”, or separation from the rest of the world.

I was like a character in a game. I was part of the world, but not really.

Sure I could interact with people. I could talk to people and make friends or enemies, but it was only after a certain level of intimacy that the interactions would stick.


For the rest of the world I’d be all but invisible. All interactions would be superficial. I’d become a vague concept that could be readily understood and communicated with, but also readily slipped out of mind once it was out of sight.

People could know “of” me, but not know me as person.

One benefit of this was the fact that I’d seemed to have inherited the bizarre super power that every open world, crime-based, videogame ended up giving to the players.

If I ever did something piss off the authorities of the land, all I had to do was get out of sight till my “wanted level” dropped down, it’d be like it never happened.

Well, it wasn’t quite that tidy, and there would be logical limits, but essentially, I was now untouchable to the law.

[Cosmic Traveller’s Privilege] also came with translator functions, so that was neat. I’d failed Spanish in high school, but now I could speak it and all the other languages, of this or any other world, quite fluently.

Which I figured would have to come in handy. Actually, considering that over seven hundred years had gone by, and I could still understand whatever dialect of earth-common the people were speaking, I had to assume that the ability was already coming in handy.

Moving on, [Moon Lord’s Demesne] was another power that gave heightened stats while the moon was out and raised the efficiency of my powers during the nighttime.

As far as I could see [Ruler’s Aura] was another annoying charisma type power that made people more inclined to do what I said. Adding an extra layer of enforcement to my magical aura, to make men and beasts kneel.

(Tch..As if that were something that appealed to me….)

But also making it unlikely for others to be able to make “me” kneel or affect my mind with their auras and charisma powers.

[Devilish Good Looks] popped up when I became a cambion and I was still convinced that it was just the levelling system trolling me. But the archive said that it was a power that subtly adjusted my looks by the standards of the time and local culture, so that I got the “charisma” bonuses that came with being contemporarily good looking.

[Nightmare’s Aura] was like [Ruler’s Aura] accept it could be throttled back and forth to make people go from being sort of intimidated, to piss themselves scared.

I saw some potential exploits for using that in tandem with my [Liminal Bearing]’s fear-eating abilities.

My archive chose to disturbingly describe [Koschei’s Ink Stain] as an ability to leave indelible marks on the backs of people’s minds. Sticky black dregs of made of my essence, that would allow me to, if I so chose, know everything they were doing, planning, or thinking. If I needed to I could also either explode the marks to do some magical and mental damage. And in the event of my death, I could use the mark and portion of my victim’s mental energy as a sort of extra life, to hasten my respawn.

[Extension of the Deep] was supposed to make me smarter, though I’ve seen no evidence of it working. It also changed the nature of my soul and mind couldn’t be dragged out of my body.

If [Extension of the Deep] was meant to keep “me” inside of me, then [Fortress of the Old One] was meant to keep “others” out.

A self-adapting, all-rounder magical mechanism that protected my mind and soul from outside influences. Viciously built, and slightly sinister in that, anyone who was strong enough to break through it, “without” accidentally killing me and letting me slip out of their reach in the process would be trapped inside.

Which brought us to the final of my abilities, the [Seal of Amrita] which was like a double portioning of [Extension of the Deep] and [Fortress of Old One] except it came with the added benefit of being able to consume, and convert any of those outside elements and to adapt my mind and soul so that repeat invasions couldn’t happen.

And there they were, all the abilities that my future-self had had my alternate-selves beat into. All the abilities I’d likely have my alternate-selves beat into a younger me, once I was old enough to figure out how I’d arranged it.

Thirty powers that any leveller, any immortal, would kill to have. With even the more minor ones being stupidly over-powered to an extent that they were practically beyond saving, beyond nerfing.

(If this was a game instead of real life, the developer would simply just have to cut them.)

I had mixed feelings about it all. On the one hand, I was glad to have them. I was very aware, that I was one lucky, lucky, boy. On the other hand….my future-self had gone out of his way to make sure I got all those powers, all those stupidly overpowered abilities, titles and traits. And he hadn’t looked too satisfied when it done either.

So,  here I was, in the present and I couldn’t help wondering what and why exactly the future, had gone “quite so far”. I mean, I knew that if I had the option to and the ability to, cheat and get ahead of the rat race, I probably would. But I couldn’t help feeling nervous about the extent the future-me had taken it too.

If my goal was ensuring my life, I could have stopped with just the first five abilities and forgone most of those titles.

My current status was overkill of a grand order. As a character, as a leveller, I was broken in a way that would have had all my fellow players calling “haxors” had I played this build online.

Thus I couldn’t help wondering what exactly he had gone through, what exactly I was going to face, to make “me” think that all this was necessary.

I couldn’t help feeling just a little afraid for my future. Thus after a few hours passed and my broken body had recovered itself, I got up, restored my clothes and gear and went back outside again.

Something told me that I’d be better off grinding as many levels, as I could while I still had the time to do so.

Previous   Table of Contents   Next

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s