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Published at 24th of November 2022 12:34:47 PM


Chapter 103

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My short stroll with Eclairs was more enjoyable than I had expected. It wiped away my tiredness. Talking about MCO with her reminded me of the old days when I'd discuss builds and strategies with the gang at Vanguard Gaming. It also brought Boady to mind—I should keep my distance from his cousin.

Should…

This was my self-imposed restriction to prevent any awkwardness when meeting him someday.

It might be ‘lame’ of me to say this—or whatever term the youngsters use these days—but theorycrafting was one hell of a distraction. Easily overriding Eclairs' attractiveness, thinking of builds took up most of the real estate in my mind. Her creepy soulless eyes were also a good deterrent from taking too long of a look at her face.

After dropping Eclairs off at the convenience store, I jogged back to my apartment.

To my credit, and credit should always be given to Herald Stone, I managed to reach my apartment alive and still on my feet. I might be imagining things, but I jogged faster on my return than on my first trip. I even used the stairs instead of the elevator to go up to my floor like some fitness maniac.

I felt like a kid, excitedly biking to Vanguard Gaming to play with my friends. Like I was going back home after a gaming session to eat snacks prepared by Mum. That must be what energized me.

Or did the protein bar that I ate actually have an effect as it bragged on its wrapper? Did protein bars work that way?

Nonetheless, it was amusing that my mind was returning to the past. After all that I had accomplished and experienced, it was the simple life I yearned for—just getting hard.

 

[ Promo Code Successfully Redeemed! ]

[ Received: (100) Commemorative Restorative Potion ]

"There we go," I said with a chuckle. I got this MCO promo code from the wrapper of the protein bar that Eclairs gave me. I’d say that didn't count as breaking my self-imposed rule to stay F2P. Rich or poor, no matter how much money I had, free stuff never failed to bring me joy.

Commemorative Restorative Potion (Event) | Item Level: 1
Epic | Consumable | No Requirement

A high-quality potion infused with celebratory goodness and festive cheer—this was prepared from a recipe missing in the records of history. And yet, thousands of these potions are mysteriously cropping up all over Hierakon from no one knows where. Instantly restores (Player Level x Player Level) Health, Energy, and race-specific resource.

Cooldown: 8 Seconds

This was a nifty potion—it restored Ancestral Shroud for Mardukryons and other resources. Also, the potion’s formula meant that it gave exponentially more resources the higher the player’s level. How considerate and thoughtful.

Should I save some as a souvenir to remember MotherCon? My childhood friend, Jefferson, the son of the previous owner of Vanguard Gaming, used to do that with event items. Also, by transitive property, these potions were a gift from Eclairs.

Perhaps I could leave one in my inventory.

I had different “potion spending” habits depending on whether I played solo RPGs or MMORPGs.

For solo RPGs, my inventory was usually clogged with potions I'd collect from drops and chests but never use. I didn't buy any from merchants, but I would still have loads of them when I’d complete the game—a badge of honor, a proof of my tankiness. There was often no need for potions except in extreme situations. If I had to drink plenty of potions to survive a boss, that meant I wasn't tanky enough.

The opposite was the case when it came to MMORPGs. Tanks required potions more than any other builds, an interesting reversal. One would think that tanks wouldn't need any. But that was just how it was—being a tank meant surviving long enough for heals and potions to keep one alive. In Nornyr Online, the MMORPG I used to play in high school, a substantial part of the money I farmed went to potions.

Here in MCO, I expected to reach the point where I'd conventionally tank for my party—not with Totem Juggling or any other summons. Facetanking as nature intended tanking to be…just straight to the face.

That's what she said.

By then, I'd put the [Commemorative Restorative Potion] to good use. Although they wouldn't be enough, I'd require so much more. And I'd need stronger potions the harder the challenges I'd face.

My options were to either buy the potions or make them myself.

The downside of Melding with a potion-brewing Ocadule was giving up one of the six slots in my Akashic Configuration that could've been for an Ocadule with tanking skills. Plus, I already had the [Akhos Arcane Poison Research] from Bawu.

Two out of six slots were crafting Ocadules? Wouldn't it be better to have all six slots filled with tanking-oriented Ocadules to complete my Goal #1?

That's what a box would think!

Goal #1—I will become the best tank, crush everyone, and remain standing after every battle.

The best. Not the hardest. Tanking wasn't only about hardness but also performance and utility, as potentially spouted by a hypothetical woman.

Even without considering utility, building a tank itself was multi-faceted. It should be a combination of many layers. Stacking tons of Armor wouldn't be enough. The player with the longest health bar wasn't automatically crowned tankiest. High health regeneration and healing wouldn’t do any good if one died too quickly for them to catch up.

Spread the love to as many defense modifiers as possible!

Right now, my build was focused on very high health regeneration to fuel my Totem Juggling build. I was going to transition out of it, but I realized I needed to retain the regeneration part to survive all the poisons I'd ingest.

Poisons would increase my tankiness through the passive of [Cleansing Flames] and add to my DPS while sprinkling debuffs through retribution and [Cloak of the Plaguespreader]. Debuffing the enemies also indirectly helped my survivability—this was something that most players wouldn’t take into account as this wouldn’t show up on the stats page.

This was where potion brewing would come in.

People thinking like boxes might see a slot wasted for a crafting Ocadule, that this wouldn't progress Goal #1.

In actuality, a potion-brewing Ocadule was a tanking-oriented Ocadule…with extra steps.

From a different perspective, potions were regeneration, a building block of a good tank. Boxlike people probably wouldn't realize this because boxes couldn't move to change their viewpoint. With potions boosted by being a brewer covering one aspect of the build, my gear could focus on other defensive layers.

I never wavered; I was on track to becoming the best tank. Herald Stone will always complete his Goal!

As I trotted to Healer Gula's store, I considered how I should go about becoming her student. I didn’t plan to return to her anytime soon.

I was focused on Bawu’s story. Disobeying Gula’s instruction not to reveal my Ancestral Flame Arts to her sister was still on the table. After I had exhausted all of Bawu’s quests, I’d try it to trigger another storyline.

But after hearing Eclairs’ explanation about crafting Ocadules, I realized that perhaps I should be the student of both sisters, not only one. And it was fucking hilarious that a core mechanic of my future build was drinking something dangerous, then drinking something else to counteract it. A premium gimmick build.

I had completed many tasks for Healer Gula and even started on the main quest to become her student. However, I had intentionally messed up making a healing salve for minor wounds, as per SpartanDonkey's instructions, to supposedly open the alternative path of meeting Bawu.

That didn't pan out because my Aritu Form Ocadule triggered a different response from Gula. But I eventually met Bawu via the zombie outbreak storyline, so everything was good. Though where did that leave my progress with Healer Gula?

Time to find out, I thought with a shrug as I descended into Healer Gula's burrow.

She wasn't at her usual place by the table in front of her store. I craned my neck to look for her. Among the creaky cabinets jam-packed with magical ingredients, I spotted a frail Mardukryon with ashen skin. She seemed to be taking note of her inventory, writing down on a long parchment with a quill.

"Healer Gula," I called to her. "The most trustworthy youngling in Mardukryon history has returned!" I probably shouldn't have loudly announced myself given that I had just completed an illegal task of aiding her crazy sister.

She hurriedly shuffled her hooves to the front of the store, the beads hanging from her horns swaying like curtains. She picked up her staff leaning against the table and excitedly waved it. "Dear youngling, you have returned. Tell me, is my sister well?"

I gave her a short version of how I met Bawu and delivered her letter.

There were some important details I intentionally deleted from my story, like the village guards captured by Bawu. Healer Gula would probably give me a quest to save them, but I wasn't sure if I still had somebody to save. They might be mutated monsters by now.

I also didn't want Gula to get angry at her sister. She seemed plenty appalled that Bawu had experimented on certain monsters; she'd be livid if she knew Bawu was doing the same to people. I'm a Mardukryon, so Mardukryon were people to me.

For the same reason, I kept learning about Bawu's poison craft a secret from Gula. It might ruin my chances of becoming her student if she knew I was making poisons…the thing that did the opposite of healing.

From experience, NPC teachers that shared their expertise had a sort of introductory Ocadule containing their basic skills. Then they'd have specialized Ocadules that were harder to obtain. I had to work hard to impress her to unlock her advanced Ocadules.

I didn't want to be an all-around Healer, as she had offered me—I wanted a healing potion Ocadule.

"My unsettled heart will be at peace with this wonderful news," Healer Gula said. "My sister is safe and has ceased her dangerous projects."

"I'm not sure if 'cease' is the right word."

"More importantly, my sister hadn't discovered your…secret."

"The amulet you gave me worked perfectly," I said. "Would you like it back, or was that already a gift to me?"

"I want it returned—"

"Aw, a lost freebie."

"—because I'll give you something better."

"Hell yeah!"

[ Quest Completed: Meeting the Mad Brewer ]

[ Received: Pristine Frostore Amulet ]

Healer Gula upgraded the amulet she gave me from:

Notched Frostore Amulet | Item Level: 10
Rare | Amulet
  50 Magic Resilience
--------------------
  +15% Water Resistance
  - 6% Chance to Freeze and Freeze Duration

Into a much better version:

Pristine Frostore Amulet | Item Level: 15
Epic | Amulet
  86 Magic Resilience
  20 - 34 Magic Power
  Requires: 32 Spirit, 13 Sense
--------------------
  +18% Water Resistance
  - 10% Chance to Freeze and Freeze Duration
  +5% Chance to Freeze the target for 2 seconds

Temple

Fifteen advanced chapters on Patreon. Thanks to all patrons, especially Cidule tier Teeneet (aka Whale) 
Read my other story: REND - a psychological novel with an atypical protagonist 
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