Blackie’s determination soared. He was ready to finally kill the monsters opposing God. He chose his first opponent carefully – his worst nightmare, the Diamondback Rattlesnake.
Slithering through the lush grasses, the Diamondback Rattlesnake raised its head, hissing angrily at Blackie. It was beneath him to engage in combat with a mere dog. A proud creature who can fell bears fighting a mere mongrel? Disgraceful!
Hiss! Greenish poison seeped down the Diamondback Rattlesnake’s fangs.
The Rattlesnake launched like an arrow, aiming straight for Blackie’s neck. Blackie watched vigilantly, hearing God’s words within him, reverberating endlessly. “Those who are under my wing shall prosper, those who oppose me shall perish without a place in history!”
Blackie’s brown eyes glistened with invulnerability. God was the strongest existence he knew, how could other creatures compare? If God is omnipotent, his servant must be strong too!
Blackie rushed straight at the snake. The fangs of the snake were about to sink into his flesh when Blackie abruptly dodged to the side.
The Rattlesnake flew forward with unbridled momentum. However, his widely opened maw was empty. What was this feeling? A cunning creature using poison to fell its enemies suddenly going for a stroll to breathe some air? Not even breathe, eat it?! Damnable dog! How dare it dodge! It should suffer before perishing!
Blackie saw the snake hissing in fury but wasn’t fazed one bit. Only God can make him yelp like a little hungry cub. His hair standing on end, Blackie assaulted the snake from behind, trying to gain advantage.
Icicle sat beside the stone, not bothering with Blackie. Once Icicle gained experience, he would examine the matter. Otherwise, Blackie might as well be dead to him. Can’t muster the courage to fight? You’re only good as a scout? Then I might as well have a bird as a familiar!
Dispelling the insignificant thoughts, Icicle engrossed himself in making potions. He started with mana potions, utilizing [Blue Rigid Grass] he bough from Alchemist Nurte. “I feel like those potions are too weak. If they come out only as common and basic grades, then how can I reach a higher level of expertise?” Icicle pondered. This was a difficult question he hadn’t yet found an answer to. There have to be some advanced potions for beginners, right? Those babies should be able to push his expertise into first grade Alchemist.
Icicle wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t add a spin into the process. Since mana potions were supposed to restore mana, Icicle decided to kill two birds with one stone. Employing [Flawless mana control], Icicle guided a strand of mana into the bottle, letting it permeate the blue colored liquid.
“Damn, this is good stuff! I could make a fortune off this, but it’s better to keep it for my personal use.” Icicle decided. 30 seconds cooldown was ridiculous! This potion could allow the mages to spam their spells! However, earning gold at the moment was meaningless. No one in their right mind would sell the good items. It has only been a little over two days in real life. Those who can get the good items are scarce, thus the market is not thriving yet.
Moreover, if Icicle let the mages spam their spells, the other players would advance too quickly. This is not something he wanted. He might not really care about most players, but he didn’t want to stay too behind either. He was competetive after all!
Disregarding the possible sale profit, Icicle grinded the herbs tirelessly. He wasn’t sure how to improve the health potions yet, but that could wait. Icicle wasn’t in a dire need of them, since he had [Healing drizzle] to restore his health. Besides, he bought a whole lot of health potions from Alchemist Nurte, so he had this field covered. If he could use mana potions to become a first grade Alchemist, it was good enough.
Icicle made a small health potion. This wasn’t meant to be a health potion though. Icicle inferred that antidotes should not only dispel poison but also restore the lost vigor. Thus, he figured out that combining the detoxifying herbs with a health potion was likely to satisfyingly surprise him.
To be sure, Icicle perused the antidote recipes in both compendiums. His guess proved out. There were mentions of superior antidotes, not only relieving illnesses but also restoring the lost vitality.
“This world seems complicated, but at times it’s also surprisingly simple. Interesting.” Icicle muttered, immersed in his musings.
Some time later, another message popped up.
Icicle nodded satisfactorily. He was content with the result. Using his wits paid off handsomely.
“God, God!” Blackie ran back, gasping. He was bruised all over, his body covered in blood. Moreover, his health was dropping yet again. Icicle quickly identified the case – poison. He frowned, feeding Blackie the newly made potion.
As Blackie drank the potion, his entrails felt warm. He immediately bounced back, attacking another snake.
Icicle shook his head in disappointment. He knew the dog must be beaten black and blue before he grasps any tactics.
Icicle further experimented with the potion making. He added mana into the antidote. The process felt like making a spider web. A strand of mana suffused into the yellowish-green liquid, making its way to the center of the vial through a maze of obstacles. The handling of the mana infused liquid was really difficult and mentally straining. However, for Icicle this was actually enjoyable. He was making progress, thus he felt content! Icicle continued spinning the mana strand through the hard to break invisible walls when…
The whole vial exploded, staining Icicle’s leather set with yellowish-green liquid. There were shards of glass stuck in the whole armor. Fortunately, none of the glass shards etched themselves into Icicle’s face.
“Well, if I succeeded on the first try, I would be appalled.” Icicle’s mentality was close resemblimg “Easy come easy go” proverb. If things came too easily, they weren’t really worth it. Only effort could make one feel true satisfaction.
Nearby players watched Icicle make potions with interest, wondering if they should buy some off him. It was at this instant that the vial exploded, making them think this Alchemist is a failure, not worth buying from. They shook their heads disappointedly and went the other way. No one wanted to be caught in a blast radius of a mad scientist’s experiments.
Making one more antidote, Icicle experimented again. This time he was more careful while inducing his mana. The results were obvious. The vial didn’t explode but the product became tainted. The whole interior of the vial was black, like tar, completely worthless.
“It seems that the thinking process is good, but I can’t manipulate the mana proficiently enough to make it work.” Icicle noted mentally. He needed to improve his mana control for the potion upgrade process to work.
Blackie ran back again, exasperated. “God, I fought bravely, but cannot win. What do I do?” Blackie grumbled as he was fed a potion again.
“Observe and attack the weak points.” Icicle said curtly.
Blackie rushed back, looking for enlightenment.
Soon enough, he came back, beaten up black and blue. “God, I gave it my all but the snake’s scales are tough. Attacking the underbelly is a rare situation. I can take four hits then I’m dead, but I bit the snake over 10 times and it’s still alive. What do I do?” Blackie felt wronged. How can there be such a huge difference?
“You’re not decisive enough.” Icicle said, blaming Blackie for being a coward. Who dares escape in a battle? Although Icicle said that it’s fine when the enemy is overwhelming, what can a snake really do?
Blackie seemed to understand the hint. He ran back yet again, engaging in fierce combat with his nemesis – the slithering serpent.
By the time Icicle finished making all of the antidotes, Blackie returned yet again. “God, I don’t fear death, but that snake’s vitality far outstrips mine. I attacked weak areas, I dodge the fangs, I try to rip that serpent to shreds, all to no avail. What do I do?” Blackie felt helpless. He tried all he could, fought tooth and nail, yet the snake always beats him. Is it because he’s useless? Or is the snake simply too strong?
“You watched me fight. What did I do?” Icicle asked probingly.
“Kill all of those who stood in your way.” Blackie nodded, this much was obcious.
“And how did I do that?”
“By hacking them all to death.” Blackie replied excitedly.
“Then do the same.” Icicle said indifferently, focusing on the alchemy.
“I can’t. I’m not as strong as God.” Blackie said weakly. How can God give examples based on his own strength?
“And why am I strong?” came the question.
“Because you’re God.” Blackie said proudly.
Icicle shook his head in helplessness. He decided to give the dog a hint. “When you enter stealth, what do you do?”
“I blend with the shadows.” Blackie said firmly. He knew his own process the best.
“And how do you do that?”
“I spread the energy to my fur, making it hard to see.” Blackie said.
Icicle smiled at him faintly. Blackie felt like God is giving him a hint, but couldn’t figure out the god’s suggestion. Divine providence, yet not clear enough. What to do?
“I told you God, the stealth doesn’t work on those snakes.” Blackie said aggrievedly. Was God not listening to him earlier?
Icicle sighed. “Use the energy you cover yourself with to attack.”
Blackie felt enlightened. He felt as if a falling star suddenly crossed the atmosphere and he made a wish to become stronger. This wish was now unfurling right before his very eyes. “God is wise.” Blackie said, excitedly departing. He knew this was the time for him to beat his demons!
Icicle submerged himself in the alchemy yet again. In the next five hours Blackie came back, he was no longer poisoned, only bruised. Icicle used [Healing drizzle] on him and went back to his learning. Gaining knowledge was enjoyable. Besides, Blackie was being productive as well. As long as the dog is able to fight on his own, Icicle will be more than happy.
Icicle read through the first grade alchemist compendium. He couldn’t use the item, so he had to peruse the book without learning the whole thing, page by page. Suddenly, his experience skyrocketed.
“Couple thousand experience at once?” Icicle’s eyes showed mild surprise. “How is it possible?” he looked towards his familiar.
What Icicle saw exceeded his expectations. Blackie swiped his paws and decapitated one snake after the other. “It can’t be that Blackie suddenly became so strong, right?” Icicle felt it was weird. Soon enough, he realized what was going on.
“Hahaha, that stupid dog was choosing a new enemy every time he ran back. Now he’s merely finishing them off.” Icicle guffawed.
“That little rascal actually learnt such a goodie. Impressive.” Icicle’s face was all smiles. His familiar’s fortune was also his own fortune.
“Well, since Blackie is playing, I might as well join him.” Icicle stretched lazily. Reading and learning all the recipes was fun, but sitting on his ass for too long made Icicle yearn for a good bout. There’s nothing like slaughtering the monsters in the new world.
By the time the night came, Icicle leveled up to 12 and some. Blackie followed close behind, reaching level 10.
Blackie’s health increased to 200. Apparently, that little scoundrel gained as much as 3 points in vitality by being constantly bitten by the snakes. As the dog was thrashed around left and right, it build up his resistance, slowly increasing his vitality. Thus, 200 health wasn’t anything to be surprised about. To Icicle however, this was a great boon.
“You did a good job, you!” Icicle caressed Blackie’s fur lovingly.
Blackie stood proudly, enjoying God’s love. His eyes seemed to be saying “I did good, praise me more God.”
Icicle talked extensively with Blackie, summarising what he learnt. He didn’t want to return to a dumb dog again. Right now, Blackie was a killing machine. He won’t be able to deal with tanks, but squishies? He can rip them to shreds!
After praising Blackie some more, Icicle turned stern and reminded Blackie to stay disciplined. If he does, Icicle will care about him. To Blackie those words were divine providence, echoing in his mind far and wide.
“God will take care of me.” as Blckie muttered that in his mind, he fel happy like an innocent, newborn cub.
Blackie nuzzled against Icicle’s leg, receiving 5 slabs of Wild Boar meat.
“Well then Blackie, I need to go. We’ll meet at the sunrise.” Icicle petted Blackie’s head one last time and logged off.
Waking up, it was noon. Jeremy decided to catch up with his routine of morning jogging. He seemed to disregard the fact that he’s been at least 6 hours late.
Coming back with groceries, Jeremy made some breakfast, checking his email and phone.
“Nothing too major, eh? The network did narrow down the perimeter though.” Jeremy looked at the map in front of him, where a big red circle was marked. “Still not enough for me to get personally involved. They need to work fast, otherwise that person will be gone.”
Jeremy sent a text and logged into Loiterous.
“God, you’re here!” Blackie excitedly exclaimed.
Icicle petted his familiar.
The sun just rose over the perimeter, lazily illuminating the grasslands. The east river sparkled, reflecting the sun rays, giving a feeling of a boundless wealth, like a gold mine waiting for exploitation.
Icicle decided to don his new equipment. [Fiery Blazing Sword] and [Lesser Vitality Ring] adorned his new look.
“Should be good enough.” Icicle nodded. His stats seemed okay. He was satisfied with the numbers for now. The increase in dexterity made him eligible to practice [Wind Stinger].
Icicle pressed yes. A pillar of white light enveloped him. The blue window that popped up in front of his eyes, showed necessary information concerning the new skill. Apparently, after hardcore mode was removed, Icicle received prompts. However, this [Wind Stinger] skill seemed special. There wasn’t any direct explanation nor holographic showcase of the skill, only four short sentences.
“Swift as a gale, delicate like the zephyr. The elusive body, unattainable, invulnerable, divine. Tempt fate, meet with the void. The sound of echoing laughter portends the Grim Reaper’s descent.”
Icicle read the words. His face expression fluctuated, his brows frowning slightly. He was in deep thought, reiterating the profound words inside his mind.
“Swift as a gale, delicate like the zephyr.” Icicle’s mind projected an image of a man making one step, seemingly insignificant, yet the man traveled over 100m. This was a truly shocking sight. His steps delicate, graceful, yet swift like a gale.
“What a profound movement technique.” Icicle gasped. He read the words again and again, trying to comprehend even a tiny bit.
Blackie saw Icicle imitating some weird steps. He thought God is warming up, so they can go on an adventure. However, when Blackie saw God’s eyes, he actually knew that God is in the middle of an enlightenment. “God is formidable.” Blackie muttered, laying down obediently. He didn’t dare disturb God in his finest moments.
“The elusive body, unattainable, invulnerable, divine.” Icicle imagined an invisible, fluctuating wind. Even if you cut it, you couldn’t truly destroy it. The state of the body like that is truly unattainable, after all, human body is made of flesh. However, if a deity of this world were to practice this technique to perfection, it would most likely be unstoppable, thus invulnerable.
“Tempt fate, meet with the void; this clearly symbolizes someone trying to attack you, only to see the strike going right through you.” Icicle thought, gaining confidence in his pondering. “This means… afterimages?!”
“Formidable. Truly formidable. This technique, just how much work does it require to master? Adian gave the book to me, but he was only able to comprehend the first stage. Even that, he was merely starting to see a glimmer of light in the tunnel. His steps couldn’t cover hundreds of meters, but he could dodge the incoming attacks with ease.” Icicle analyzed.
“The sound of echoing laughter portends the Grim Reaper’s descent. Miss your chance to strike, instant death. This… could it be?” Icicle was having doubts. If his assumption was correct, this technique was monstrous!
“If what I think is correct, then it’s not only a movement technique, but damage amplifying technique! The sound of echoing laughter is the only thing a person can hear when he’s about to die. The weapon whistles in the air, vibrations sounding like a devious laughter. The Grim Reaper’s descent should be the moment of death. One misstep, instant death!” Icicle’s eyes blazed with unprecedented light. He knew this technique would benefit him immensely. This was a technique worthy of him.
An hour passed since Icicle started musing. His eyes calmed down. His thoughts were somewhat organized, but Icicle was nonetheless excited. He had to try out the might of the [Wind Stinger] technique!
“Let’s go Blackie!” Icicle said to Blackie who was entangled with a Wild Boar. Blackie was bored after some time and decided to spend the time fighting, impressing God later with his matchless prowess. Hearing the command, Blackie happily followed God.
Blackie enjoyed fighting now. After learning of the snakes’ weaknesses, that it has weak scales on the bellyside and that by controlling their heads they turn harmless, the dog was overjoyed. Thus, Blackie got rid of weaker monsters like Wild Boars with ease.
As the duo traveled through the grasslands, Blackie dispatched three monsters swiftly. He was about to happily announce his progress to God, when he saw something unimaginable. God stood amidst 15 large bears, swaying, dodging every attack like they didn’t even exist in the first place. Every time there was more than 15 monsters gathered, God would dispatch one quickly, effortless.
“This…” Blackie gaped, unable to comprehend the sight. His faith in God increased even more. “God is formidable.” Blackie muttered yet again, this time with much more conviction and ardor.
Ten minutes passed. Icicle suddenly started killing off all the bears, like a butcher amongst swine. His resilient opponents didn’t even last 5 minutes.
“How is it, God?” Blackie asked excitedly. Watching God was a true feast for the dog’s eyes.
“Not good enough, we have to go farther!” Icicle said, rushing to the Red Blooming Valley.