• hcmills

Chapter 129: Don't be a lawyer [Start of book 4]

I give the window that pops up little more than a glance, my heart still heavy with the weight of goodbyes.

The stone hallway we’re in leads to two doors, each with a hole in the wall next to it.

Kaitlynn’s hand tightens in mine. I revel at how naturally her slightly smaller hand fits in mine, at the warmth of her skin, that’s become so much hotter ever since she reached Level 3 and gained the Heat subtype.

“Don’t worry,” I say, squeezing back. “I’m sure there’ll be a living room behind it for both of us.”

Kaitlynn cocks her head for a moment, then let’s out a relieved sigh. “Kai says there is.”

She wriggles her fingers. I reluctantly let go, and she makes her way over to one of the holes next to a door. She peers into it for a moment, then starts taking out pearls hidden in various spaces around her armour, and dropping them in.

I blink and turn my attention back to the pop-up window. “Wait, what? We have to hand in basically all of our consumables for a measly one Trial Point a piece?!”

It soon becomes apparent that the doors won’t open until we do, so I grumble and set to handing in my own.

Lavi Crystals were not something we could obtain in Hub Three, and I didn’t have any left when we got here anyway. As for Qi Pearls, we divided the remaining equally per affinity over the Blue Dragons, which means Alec and I ended up with slightly more than the rest. The Energy Crystals we divided per subtype, with the Cold ones being split between me and Alec. Now, however, our division of spoils is pretty much moot.

By the time I drop in my last Minor Toxic Energy Crystal with a huff, the door in front of Kaitlynn has long opened up.

However, mine remains closed. I frown. “Suri, what’s the hold-up?”

[Nice try, Emma,] she chimes dryly. [There’s one more Qi Pearl in your shoe, another in your backpack, and a final one in the left-rear pocket of your pants, below your armour.]

Damnit. Stupid eye-crystals with their stupid energy vision.

“Fiiiine,” I say, rolling my eyes, causing Kaitlynn to giggle. “God, Suri, you’re such a narc. There,” I say, dropping in my actual last one. “Happy now?”


My door grinds open.

I frown. “Wait, how did you even know about the one—”

[I kept track. Now stop wasting time and proceed.]

I shoot Kaitlynn one last forlorn glance.

She smiles at me. “See you in a bit, partner.” And with a wink, she’s through her door.

I sigh and walk through my own.

My hexagonal single room is the same as ever. I shrug off my backpack, dump both my trusty old greysteel spear and my new Toxic Crystal Spear, then flop down on the surprisingly comfy bed.

That is to say, it’s almost as soft as hard-packed dirt, this time around.

Must be my increased Toughness.

“All right, can I start my five minutes?”

[You got it.]

“First question: why the hell did we have to hand in our pearls and crystals?”

[Having access to too many consumables would trivialize certain challenges and ultimately only hurt your growth. That’s also why their sale is prohibited for now.]

That was a more thoughtful answer than I expected. I was really only asking to rib Suri out of irritation. I really don’t like not having access to the safety net that Lavi Crystals and Qi Pearls can provide—not to mention the potential use of Energy Crystals as grenades—but I don’t expect to be treated fairly here anyway.

“Fine. Do we have the usual 24 hours, shared living room, yadayadayada?”

[Actually, it’s not quite as usual. There’s a mandatory 24-hour waiting period, which will likely extend for a while, before you will be called upon to enter the Trial.]

My brows rise. “What? Why?”

[The Seventh Trial for you and your partner is currently being prepared.]

I frown. “Why would that... wait, is it like, personalised to us?”

[I’m afraid that’s classified.]

I roll my eyes. “Of course it is. You say we’ll be called upon... how long ahead of us having to enter will that be?”

[You will be notified ten minutes in advance.]

My eyes widen. Ten minutes? Sheesh.

“All right, I guess we’ll just have to stay ready once our 24 hour are up,” I mumble. “What else can you tell me about the Trial?”

[I can tell you there’ll danger mixed with opportunity.]

“Awfully cryptic.”

[Indeed. Oh, by the way, remember when you asked me to tell you when the Fifth Law of Being would become declassified?]


[It’s declassified.]

“Ooh!” I purse my lips, all thoughts of the Trial forgotten. “Have any more Laws—actually, could you just list all the laws I’m allowed to know about?”

[Sure thing,] Suri chimes, sounding vaguely amused. [The First Law: All are One.]

Aaand she started from the top. Guess I should’ve seen that one coming. Well, whatever.

[The Second Law: All are Yin or Yang. The Third Law: All are quantified. The Fourth Law: Yin and Yang attract.]

I grimace at the reminder of that particularly hateful law.

[And the Fifth—and final—Law: Yang is motion, Yin is still.]

Right. So, Yang is motion and Yin is still. But the way she said it, it means more than that. Yang holds dominion over motion, it controls the domain of motion, and the same goes for Yin and stillness, the lack of motion.

Gotta say I’m a little disappointed there’s only five, I’d hoped to learn more.

But Suri isn’t done yet.

[That’s it for the Laws of Being, but there’s also the slightly less fundamental five Yin-Yang Principles that are now declassified, would you like to hear them?]

“Would I? Hell yeah!”

[The First Principle: Motion creates Heat, stillness breeds Cold. The Second Principle: Rapid motion causes Vibrations, prolonged stillness builds Electric charge. The Third Prin—]

“Woah, slow down!” I say, cutting her off, repeating the first two in my mind. “Man, these Principles are a lot wordier...”

[As I’ve said before, they’re less fundamental. Naturally, the most fundamental truths can be worded the shortest.]

Right. Anyway, it seems like the Yin-Yang Principles have to do with the different types of energy. Moreover, the different types of Yin and Yang Energy all seem to share a connection to those domains of stillness and motion...

I frown. “Hold on, how is Electrical Energy part of the domain of stillness? It’s, well, it’s fast as lightning!”

[That’s how it works in the Entropic Realm, yes. Here, however, it works a little differently. You see, Electrical Energy doesn’t really move much at all. It forms a static connection between two points, a bridge, if you will. Once formed, for all intents and purposes, the Electrical Energy treats the two endpoints of the connection as the same place.]

My frown deepens. “Hmm. I guess I’ll take your word for it.”

I still need to gain Lightning Manipulation, maybe this knowledge will help... though I don’t feel like I fully understand it.

“All right, give me the next Principle.”

[The Third Principle: Extreme motion Radiates outward, true immobility gives rise to Toxicity.]

This one, I believe. My Toxic Energy flows sluggishly at best.

[The Fourth Principle: Momentum is motion given direction, Inertia is stillness given location.]

Huh. I hadn’t thought of it like that.

[The fifth and final Principle: In their ultimate expressions, Yang causes unavoidable motion, Yin is everywhere at once.]

So Gravity and Space are considered the ultimate expressions of Yang and Yin respectively. Gotcha.

Sounds like Distort Space leads to teleportation like I hoped!

Now I really want to continue learning that Skill. However, I need to be practical about this.

“Suri, could you show me my Skilldream Shopping Window, please?”

Let’s see what’s new here.

“Reconversion?” I say with a frown. “I’ve never heard of that Purpose, what does it do?”

[That’s not a Purpose. It’s more of an extension of the Infuse Skill, that you unlocked by gaining the Toxic Energy Subtype. Reconversion will allow you to turn Toxic Energy into Qi.]

My brows rise. “Oh damn, that sounds pretty useful. Though I probably would have given it a miss if I’d still had my pearls... I’m sensing a connection there.”

[You’re not wrong. Learning the appropriate reconversion Skill-extension for your Subtype sooner rather than later is highly recommended. Its functionality will be limited at first, but given time to grow, I think you’ll find it becomes quite useful.]

“Hmm. I’ll definitely consider it. By the way, why do you call it a Skill extension?”

[Reconversion isn’t a specific level for any Skill. As long as you have the related Skill, it can be learned at any point, adding an important, but more or less independent functionality.]

I see. That must be why there’s no level listed behind Infuse. Good thing Jacob managed to gain Wave Manipulation back in Hub Three. I’m assuming that’s the related Skill for Vibration, at least. For Kaitlynn it should be Astreum Manipulation, I suppose, so that shouldn’t be an issue either.

[By the way, considering your extensive experience with manipulating Toxic Energy using the Infuse Skill, and your track record of gaining Skill unaided, I would recommend half a Skilldream for Reconversion.]

“Noted. What about Boost Charm?”

[That was also unlocked when you gained your Subtype. Frankly, however, I don’t think you have much need of it; your Charm is already quite decent.]

“Aww, thanks.”

[You’re welcome.]

I snort at Suri’s dry tone. “All right, Status Window please.”

Oh, that’s right, I never even checked the results of my last tempering. Well, that’s a nice boost to my Cold Tolerance Limit, I’m sure that’ll come in handy someday.

Anyway, I have 98 Trial Points. I had 0 in reserve, so that’s 70 for clearing Hub Three and 28 for handing in my 3 Minor Toxic Crystals, my 2 Minor Cold Crystals and my 23 Qi Pearls.

I was forced to hand in twenty-three Qi Pearls. My heart bleeds at the thought.

Getting the Reconversion Skill extension for Infuse would help increase my effective Qi Pool, though how much exactly would depend on the conversion rate.

Actually, I suppose it also depends on my Tolerance Limit...

“Hey Suri, how would a girl go about further increasing her Toxic Energy Tolerance after she’s crossed 50%? ’Cause I’ve been stuck at 58% for some time now.”

I’ve gone over my limit a few times as an experiment, but it didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.

[Well, more aggressive tempering at higher concentrations of both Lavi and Toxic Energy would naturally yield the fastest results. Barring that, one method you might be able to learn would be to flash flood your body with Toxic Energy, far beyond your Tolerance, then immediately drain it again. Wait for Lavi to recover, rinse, and repeat.”

I frown. “Sounds time consuming.”

[It is.]

Not something I can do anything about in the short term, then. What I can do something about, is my current Toxic Energy stores. They’re still a little low at the moment—because I first fought Bruce and then turned a lot of it into Dreamcloud Energy to force myself to sleep so I could restore my Espir—but it’s not a difficult issue to solve.

Though I may be out of Minor Toxic Energy Crystals—which produce 0.1 Onkh of Toxic Energy per minute—I’ve still got my new Toxic Crystal Spear, which produces the equivalent of six of them at 0.6 Onkh per minute. That’s enough to get me back to a full tank in about 4 hours.

Poor Samuel. I shake my head. What a waste that fight ended up being. Pretty much the only good thing that came from it is the slight rise in my Heat Tolerance.

At least we all made it out alive.

Dominique was scarier than I’d imagined possible, as the slight increase in my already impressive Electric Tolerance attests.

More frightening than her lightning was her baffling ability to fly, however. I really need to figure out how she did that.

It wasn’t really flying however... she needed those Boreum platforms to kick off of for propulsion, so it was more like she was hovering somehow.

“Hey Suri, any chance you can tell me how Dominique was flying?”

[That would be a grotesque breach of protocol, Emma, I’m a little embarrassed you even asked.]

I roll my eyes. “Please, you’d tell me in a heartbeat if you thought you could get away with it.”

[I don’t think you understand the gravity of your request, Emma. I would never help you cheat like that.]

I frown. That doesn’t sound like something Suri would say... are we being monitored or something?

Well, whatever. I wasn’t really expecting an answer either way.

“All right, I’ve got one last question for you. Looking at my list of Skills, which ones do you think I could most easily gain another level in without taking a Skilldream?”

[Ooh, a challenge! Let me think.]

I study my list as I patiently wait.

[I would have to go with... Lavi Font and Breath Control.]

“Really?” I say with a frown. Those are two Skills I got stuck on quite a while ago, for what I suspected was the same reason. “I’ve hardly practised those. What makes you think I’ll be able to compress my Lavi to the required level now?”

[Because with all the tempering you’ve done, combined with the level up, you have massively increased your Lavi Pool. I think you’ll find the effect that has on your Lavi Flows to be quite helpful.]

My brows rise. I hadn’t considered that would have an effect. That is good news.

Anyway, I’ve spent enough time asking questions. Time to go see what Kaitlynn’s up to.

Author's note:

Hey everyone!

Some of you may have already noticed, but I've had to make a difficult decision.

I very badly wanted to avoid going Amazon exclusive with my e-book, for a variety of reasons, but numbers don't lie. Literally 99% of my sales happen on Amazon, and I hear from other authors that possibly the majority of people who read English LitRPG are on Kindle Unlimited. At this point, it would just be financially irresponsible not to give in, and since writing is now my full-time job, I simply can't afford to be financially irresponsible about it.

So I've taken the first 48 chapters down.

This webnovel will continue to its conclusion, but whenever I bring out a new book, I will have to remove the chapters it covers from the various sites they're on right now. My apologies.

Of course, if you want to read them, you can still do so by buying my e-book here, it's only 2.99 ^^

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