In the middle of a forest that would have been peaceful on an ordinary day, the sound of explosions continued endlessly.
In the place of the sound’s origin, there stood an insane man swinging his blade.
It was a young man with black hair and a golden colored blade in his hand, Vulcan.
Beating on the Max Level trees in certain tempo, Vulcan looked no different from a tree-cutting machine.
Vulcan looked as if he had lost his soul. He drank potions whenever he lost his stamina, and focused on just cutting down the trees.
There was the skill window in front of Vulcan’s eyes glowing in translucency.
[Novice Magic Swordsman Vulcan]
[Passive Skills List]
*Combat Mastery S -> B
*Weapon Mastery S -> C -> B (Rank Up)
*Defense Mastery A -> C
*Evasion Mastery S -> B
Fire Mastery S -> B
Lightning Mastery S -> B
Cold Mastery B -> D
Necromancy Mastery C -> E
“Oh, weapon mastery rank up. Nice.”
Vulcan smiled big. Even his voice was filled with joy.
However, it was only for a brief moment. Vulcan sighed and looked at the skill list window once more.
‘Let alone S, the skill window is devoid of even one A……’
The skills list use to be full of S and A ranks, but now it was in a pathetic state.
Apparently, once Vulcan became level 100, he was acknowledged as a resident of Asgard, and at the same time, all of his skill ranks were adjusted to the lofty standards of Asgard.
It was sickening.
There was one more thing that was even more troubling.
Unlike practitioners that achieved their levels through normal course, players had no methods to become stronger other than a simple repetitive training.
In other words, the best course was just doing grunt-works.
‘Even so, I thought there might be a way.’
Vulcan thought Filder, the greatest fiend of Beloong city where all fiends gather, might know a way of rapid growth for a player who got to his level using cheats. However, it was apparently not so.
It was true that Filder was the best teacher. Rich in his experience and insightful in his methods, for Filder, who had the best abilities, teaching 90 levelers was easy enough to be considered a chore.
From Filder’s perspective, Dokgo Hoo was just a baby chick level swordsman, and Filder made it possible for Dokgo Hoo to make a breakthrough growth by observing him for a while and providing a little bit of guidance.
Perhaps it was obvious how Filder could do it. Filder said so himself that he had been training newcomers for several hundred years.
However, there were those that even Filder could not teach: the so-called players.
When it came to teaching players, even Filder was powerless.
After all, teaching was possible if the student had the smarts for it.
Players got to where they were through auto skill acquisition and level ups, so they had no basic knowledge or understanding for the abilities. Players were like young children with over powered strengths.
Teaching players were like trying to teach high-level calculus to newborn babies. Hence Filder gave up on trying to make players understand the basis for abilities, and instead he had no choice but to select a training method that actively utilizes the system.
“Mr. Vulcan, it looks like your basic mastery levels are pretty good. Other players focus on leveling up, powerful active skills and item acquisition. They ignore basic passive combat skills.”
“Ah, thank you.”
“From that regard, how about we combine blade technique and magic training together? Maintain three Hellfires and cut down trees with your blade. Is that all right?”
“…… Yes! Of course. Haha!”
Vulcan felt that something bad was about to happen, so he smiled awkwardly.
Since the time when Vulcan understood the SYSTEM’s basic functions and was experienced enough to be no longer called a novice, he had been mindful of the basic passive skills’ mastery levels.
Combat, weapons techniques, avoidance, fire, lightning and etc., the basic skills affect a wide category of attributes. Vulcan did not neglect the basic skills because although the basic skills do not have the power to turn the tide of a battle, Vulcan thought they are the core skills that strengthen the basic battle abilities.
Therefore, Vulcan worked hard on raising the basic passive skills’ masteries at every chance he got, even when he was not hunting. In middle of a battle, instead of just slaying the monsters, he did so in ways that maximized the basic skills masteries. When Vulcan had potions to spare, he accumulated masteries while taking on damage intentionally.
Still, investing time like this for the sole purpose of raising masteries like a machine was a first for even Vulcan.
It had been over two weeks since Dokgo Hoo fell into the unconscious world. Meanwhile, Vulcan, excluding one hour of break per day, fully invested all of his time for mastery training.
Exhaustion, damage and mana depletion from over exertion were taken care of using the potion that Filder brought.
The potion was so effective that one sip of it fully replenished all three stats. However, that did not make Vulcan feel grateful. Instead, it made him feel more rebellious.
‘Eat this and work harder, my slave.’
Even though Filder wasn’t saying anything, Vulcan felt as if Filder’s look on his face was saying so, and that was creeping out Vulcan. He always thought Filder’s smiling look was gentle and comfortable, but now it wasn’t so.
Vulcan thought perhaps medieval peasants working under lordships might have been more comfortable than this.
“Excuse me…… Can you please increase the break time a little? I think training so hard while over exerting myself like this may lead to problems……”
“What kind of problems? I think everything is going well.”
“Uh… If I keep pushing myself like this, I can’t focus properly and I think it is reducing efficiency, and ……”
“Regardless, isn’t a player’s mastery level going to rise as long as repeat training is done? There is no need to focus. Just keep on repeating the process. Also, the potion I brought is potent enough to fully recover a super sized monster from brink of death, so you don’t need to worry about your health.”
Vulcan dropped his head.
He thought about the time in his original world, before he came to these new dimensions, when he was in high school and played video games mindlessly.
Back then, there were people in a similar situation as himself, the video game room laborers. In a workroom, they worked for a boss, mining ores and running same macros whole day, mindlessly. Vulcan used to only look down on them, but now he could understand how they must have felt.
How difficult it must have been. Vulcan’s eyes were watering with tears.
‘This is not training. This is …… This is just a slave labor. A slave labor from hell!’
Vulcan felt sympathy toward the faceless video game room laborers.
Braking Vulcan’s train of thought, Filder spoke.
“It’s really magnificent. Excellent! I believe I have under estimated you, Mr. Vulcan. From now on, I will attack you occasionally. If you increase avoidance mastery at the same time, you can become stronger faster!”
“If you try that, I could die!”
“It’s all fine! If you take my potion, you will fully recover!”
‘Please let me rest just for a day…… Let me live…… No, just kill me. I will be comfortable at least if I’m dead……’
Vulcan was really envious of Dokgo Hoo who was still just standing there unaware of all this.
A month passed training for Vulcan’s masteries. It started with just cutting down trees, but because Filder added new objectives along the way and increased the difficulty, the training turned into something completely different.
It was no longer appropriate to call it a grunt-work training. It felt more like a shooting game with Vulcan as the target.
Vulcan was rolling around the ground like a soldier in a battlefield with his life on the line.
Vulcan dodged the large icicle popping out of the ground and swung his pure lightning blade. A Fireball that came out of nowhere got deflected to the sky after being hit by the blade.
Aiming for Vulcan, who momentarily stopped to deflect the Fireball, Ice Arrows that were circling around Vulcan rained down on him from all directions.
Using Infinite Flame Spheres and Hellfires he prepared earlier, Vulcan intercepted the ice arrows. As for the ones that could not be intercepted, Vulcan moved his upper body to dodge them.
Ice arrows and Infinite Flame Spheres collided and created a massive amount of steam. In cover of the mist, a skeleton holding a long sphere charged forward.
[Weakened Skeleton King Wreric]
It was the same bastard that Vulcan was sick of fighting face-to-face for ten days.
The skeleton king’s sphere charged toward Vulcan, piercing through the mist. Vulcan avoided the attack by angling his body. He moved in close to the skeleton king and tilted his head down.
Skeleton king’s wind cutter sliced through the space, aiming toward back of Vulcan’s head. Vulcan, raising his head, spoke the skill activation codes.
“Thunder God’s Strike!”
The rapid sword technique cutting across upward from the lower left stroke the skeleton king, but it did not break the protective spell that the summoner cast.
Vulcan cursed inside. He kicked the skeleton king’s head with his left foot and cast spell rapidly.
“Hellfire! Infinite Flame Sphere, Infinite Flame Sphere, Infinite Flame Sphere, Infinite Flame Sphere……”
Without re-generating spent magic spells at every chance he had, Vulcan could be defenseless against magic attacks coming at him constantly from all over the direction. Vulcan’s mouth moved rapidly.
“Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere Infinite Flame Sphere……”
Vulcan looked ridiculous repeating the same set of words over and over as if he had a form of speech impairment, but it could not be helped.
A player that acquired the magic without understanding it had a critical flaw; the player could not cast the magic without saying out loud the name of the spell.
To overcome this a little, Vulcan cast Haste to his mouth to cast spells. It would have been too taxing to cast Haste on his entire body, so it was a desperate measure for the time being.
In an instant, Vulcan created a Hellfire and over hundred of Infinite Flame Sphere, and he took a dive to the left side. The ground that Vulcan was standing a moment ago already turned into a hazardous area filled with lava.
‘KUAAAAAA! This is too strong! This is insane!’
Vulcan thought to himself. His inner cry could almost be heard. However, for Filder and Berenere, the sight was just an entertaining spectacle like a high-production value action movie.
“Filder, he is blocking the ice magic too easily. How about mixing in more of wind magic that is not very visible? Or use earth magic that would be hard to block with fire spells.”
“Hmm…… Indeed earth magic would be appropriate. On the other hand, there is no need to use the wind magic. After all, players do not dodge by looking. Instead the avoidance skill activates automatically.”
“Ah right, you said that guy is a player. Kuku. The way he moves so fluently, I thought he was a normal magic swordsman. For a player to move so smoothly, it is quite a curious thing to see, huhuhu.”
The one exchanging words with Filder was Berenere, the general store owner. He was an elderly man wearing a black pointy hat and a black robe, traditional black mage clothing.
His face was full of wrinkles and moles, and his back was so hunched that it looked like he could not stand up without a cane. His appearance made it seem like he could die of old age at any moment, but the sharp and piercing gaze from his eyes overpowered everything else.
Along with Filder, the one that is counted among the top six in Beloong city.
The one that lead his own world to the brink of destruction, Berenere the necromancer of pure evil.
However now he was just an ordinary general store owner. He sold general items to people during the day, and during the night, he helped Filder to train newbies.
Filder continued the conversation with Berenere while not taking his eyes off of Vulcan’s training.
“It certainly is. He is different from ordinary players. Now that I think about it, he had higher mastery levels from the start of the training. I have high expectations.”
“Hum! Having high expectations for a player! They are the kind that came up here without any effort! They may have been parading around as geniuses in the lower dimensions full of weaklings, but up here, they are nothing but talent-less lazy bums!”
Berenere spoke with disapproval. Filder responded with a smile.
“Even so, it appears this kid did not slack off in putting in hard work and effort. It is apparent that he sharpened and polished his skills through continuous training. To start with, the way he uses the skills is quite efficient.”
“…… Certainly, unlike those that lack potential, you can tell this one had been working hard. However, it is all about talent, talent. In this place full of fiends, could players with no talents clear even Act 1……”
“You too, fold your hopes and expectations, and just mind training Dokgo-whatever guy instead. Unlike how he looks, he has an incredible potential.”
Filder responded with silence to Berenere’s negative comments. It wasn’t like Filder disagreed.
Most of players were garbage. They came to Asgard without any special abilities, and they always blamed equipment and hunting ground. They also fell behind improving masteries through hard work.
They always sought after ways to level up easily, and by the might of the monsters far exceeding the strength of the monsters in lower dimensions, these players lost their lives.
Of course, there were exceptions among these players. Ones that did not refuse painful trainings, ones that spared little for sleep or food to fully commit themselves to training. Filder too invested heavily for the sake of their progress.
However, the end results were failures.
The wall of First-Rate. For these players, getting to level 300 was the limit. There were no exceptions. To have abilities appropriate for the higher level, the players were too lacking in progression speeds for basic skills masteries.
In the end, it was talent.
Without basic understanding and knowledge on martial arts and magic, the players were not rewarded proportionally for the efforts that they poured in. They could not overcome the basic skills masteries requirement that increased exponentially with the level.
System was like a cheat key for those in low levels, but as they approached higher levels, System became a shackle in iron that hindered progress.
Players, one by one, became frustrated and gave up. Filder too was starting to fold his hopes and expectations.
“He could be different.”
Berenere looked at Filder as if he just made a blunder.
Filder observed Vulcan in silence.
Vulcan was running all over the place to dodge the coordinated attacks from magic spells and Skeleton King. Filder gazed upon Vulcan steadily.
Filder decided to hope one last time and put his faith in a player named Vulcan.
Filder’s hand moved rapidly to cast spells.