We stand now on the brink of the final ascension. There is tremendous fear amongst the people now, but also great anticipation. Such a momentous moment in history, the ambition of it still takes my breath away.
Who else but we would ever dream of something like this? None of the other peoples would have the mettle, the commitment, to see such a project through to the end. In my eyes, it is yet another example of our superiority. The others don't see it as I do, they are filled with remorse. I care nothing of the fates of those beneath us, or for myself. Only the completion of our work can move me.
She is sleeping now. Deep, restful slumber, I hope. It is my fervent wish that she does not wake until we are done. To see the look in her eyes would break me. It would break us all.
But we wouldn't stop.
Excerpt from a private journal, page 344, Author unknown.
[So the way the System works for humans and monsters has quite significant differences, huh?]
[From what you've told me and the limited information that the Church of the Path has collected over the centuries, there are similarities but also differences, most of them due to unlock requirements].
[I still can't believe that there are no prompts for unlocking skills].
Beyn chuckles ruefully.
[I've read copies of the journals the early researches of the church have kept. The frustration that they experienced trying to track down the exact requirements to unlock advancements nearly drove them mad. Some of them are quite exacting, I assure you].
[Give me an example]
[Very well Great One, may your carapace be ever shiny. As we discussed, the surface races do not 'evolve' and gain strength but instead have 'classes'. Gaining levels in a class provides stat growth and every class give different stats at different rates].
[That still seems unfair to me. Why do most classes have such low growth?]
Beyn raised a finger of his one remaining hand.
[It's true, most classes have appalling stat growth. Take this village for example. Most of the people here have the 'farmer' or 'grower' classes. The stat growth on these jobs is poor, 0.2 Toughness a level and 0.1 for the other stats. Without transitioning to a more advanced class they'll be stuck with mediocre stats their whole lives].
[So why don't they change classes?]
Beyn shook his head.
[The requirements for advancing classes can be quite strict and although a farmer can gain experience through growing and selling produce, the xp gain is pitiful compared to fighting monsters].
[How are they supposed to fight monsters without decent stats?!] I protest.
[Exactly. The system rewards battle above all else. In order to advance in class any other way is hard. It can take decades for a moderately successful trader to advance to a merchant].
I think about it. Why would the System be built in such a way to punish non-combat oriented classes? IT doesn't really seem fair.
[There must be shortcuts.]
[There are, but they are only available to those with resources. For example, a wealthy merchant can take their child with the trader class into the Dungeon and pay for mercenaries to feed them the xp from kills in order to advance their level rapidly. Such practices are common in the upper echelons of society and…] he sighed heavily, [the Church of the Path is also a major player in such trade. Knowledge of powerful, advanced classes, escorts to take people on 'pilgrimages' into the Dungeon, all of it is for sale.]
[Seems a bit grubby] I point out.
[I am questioning much that I blindly accepted since meeting you, O Great One. The light of your truth has …]
I tune him out for a few minutes. Every now and again he launches into a sermon and rather than keep yelling at him I've just been letting him go until he runs out of steam or catches himself going on too long.
I've been chatting with Beyn, the village priest, for some time now and the crowd around us doesn't show any signs of dispersing. How they are so entertained by this game of invisible tennis, I've no idea.
Other than a few kids trying to sneak up and poke my carapace I haven't had any issues with the crowd so far. The kids have all been intercepted by wary parents and had their hands slapped down anyway.
Beyn has had a lot to say. All sorts of new ideas have been imparted to me, skill fusion, spell tier progression and the mana type matrix. It's going to take a long time for me to digest these ideas, but for now I can say this much, I have to improve my skills!
The priest hasn't been able to give me exact instructions on how to progress my more monstrous skills, since his Church hasn't been able to study the sorts of skills that monsters have access to in any depth, but he's been able to give me a few ideas. Enough to go on for now, anyway.
[So], I break into Beyn's rambling, [you're able to give people advice and such on how to progress here in the village right? I assume you aren't charging them for it?]
He shakes his head vigorously.
[Absolutely not! However this is little time or energy for the people here to try and advance their classes and gain levels. We are barely surviving, after all.]
[Right. Tell Enid to get together a list of things that I can do to get the village up and running and let the people know that they need to be trying to advance their classes. I don't want to have to protect this village forever and the sooner you can do it yourselves, the better. Eventually I'll be prepared to escort small groups into the Dungeon to 'feed' experience to them. That should speed the process along.]
Beyn's face goes slack with astonishment.
[You would be willing to do this for us Great One?] he asks.
[Sure. The faster you can look after yourselves, the better it is for me right? It won't be hard.]
He immediately turns to the villagers and begins shouting, his face filled with joy. Very quickly the expression is spread around until all of the adults are staring at me with wonder filled eyes. Some of them are even crying!
Oh boy. Here comes the kneeling again.
Almost as one, the people fall to their knees and clasp their hands, or hand in Beyn's case, in prayer. Shouting out their praise and thanks at me.
I, uh, didn't think it was that big a deal…
Not far away, Morrelia and her group are watching this display with narrowed eyes, clearly angered by such words being professed towards a monster of the Dungeon.
I didn't ask for this, okay?!
The noise is so great that I almost didn't notice the slight vibration running through the ground beneath my feet. Once I detect it my antennae start twitching this way and that through the air, trying to find the source of the sudden, uneasy air that's come over me.
[Tiny, Crinis, come up here] I say, breaking off my link with the priest.
Gradually the vibrations grow stronger and stronger until the tread of heavy feet on the earth becomes audible.
Then the growls start.
[We're under attack!]