Chapter 25 preview

I wasn’t able to finish the Chapter so about 1/3 to 1/2 of it is out as a preview. I’ve disabled comments on it since i’ll delete the preview when I’m fully done, but you can comment on here instead.

https://waynemcdonaldauthor.wordpress.com/46-year-old-syndrome/book-1/chapter-25-preview/

Also, as I mentioned I’m switching over to a slightly different system behind the scenes so that ate up a lot of time and will eat up more. The benefit should be faster loading times on the main page, less data usage on mobile, and better movement between chapters when finished.

Updates

Hi, after a long hiatus due to many small, a few big, and many more silly, issues I’m almost back. I just came down the a weak flu on Sunday and have to take Nilla to get her last stitches removed tomorrow then provided no new fun events I’ll be writing again regularly.

I’m also looking at testing a few new themes out along with working on a new cover image for the 46 Year Old Syndrome series.

And finally the way I post chapters will change. I’ll write a small post with a link to the chapter so that the front page isn’t so full of walls of text.

Thanks for your patience, it’s been 6 months of ups, downs, and sideways spins.

 

24) Streaking for the win.

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

I woke up a few times from the pain but managed to get back to sleep, and eventually got up at noon.

It was kind of hard to guess how developed my toes were. They looked not quite full grown but who the hell memorizes how big their toes are? I took a guess that they were 3/4 grown based on how the left ones compared to the right ones.

The other injuries, even the inch deep gouges, were long healed and fresh skin covered the previous deep wounds. Presumably the toes took longer because bone and nerves had to be regrown along with muscles, blood vessels and skin.

It had taken roughly 24 hours to regrow the toes to 3/4 size. That meant I should be able to go hunting around 8pm, after dark, with little or no issues.

The first question was should I try and train something even if it puts me back a few hours. The second was what should I train if I do.

Both questions were easy to answer. I had no particular need to rush out right away, and while the rocks were a good non-lethal long distance attack it would be best to have some kind of short ranged attack.

The {Throwing} skill was excellent since ammunition was everywhere and it was a lot easier to ditch than a weapon. But pulling back my arm to throw at close range left my body open, especially if I stood still to increase accuracy.

I still had no clue how to use my KI and MP but the fact that my power seemed to be responding to my intentions as my willpower and focus increased gave me some confidence. I couldn’t feel either my KI or M
P, but if I could clearly ‘communicate’ with my power I should get some result.

I took Nilla out and made breakfast as I pondered which made more sense to try for.

Magic seemed like it would be harder to focus on one intention. When I started to review all the different systems of magic I’d seen in games, novels, and manga, I was past 50 different types before I even got started. Just the paper RPG game novels I’d read as a kid had a dozen different systems alone.

KI seemed a bit easier to distinguish. While every Xianxia or similar system was different they usually had meridians and dantians.

While I couldn’t ‘look inside’ me like every cultivator seemed to, I did have KI and my power seemed extremely flexible.

So I sat at my desk, browsed a bit about meridians and dantians and wrote out by hand a fairly common system to clarify my intentions and focus my willpower. I pictured the dantian as storing power while meridians stretched out from it, like a combination of artieries and veins, to the surface of my skin. They would carry power from the dantian and distribute it to my body while also letting power from outside flow in.

That seemed a bit weird but was the clearest image I could make and clarity seemed much more important after the example of creating the Inventory Window and other things this last month.

By 1:30pm I had a rewritten it in short point form on a piece of notepaper along with a simple drawing of a human with meridians and a dantian at the stomach.

The next step was to sit crosslegged on my bed, settle Nilla so she wouldn’t distract me, then review my notes a few times.

Closing my eyes I started imagining absorbing energy from outside my body through lines running from the surface of my skin to my dantian. I imagined it filling the dantian then flowing back under control through my meridians to reinforce my muscles, tendons, and skin.

I slowly lost track of my surroundings as my willpower focused deeper on the task.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Due to your actions you have gained an Ability.
The ability {Super Ultra Mega Fantastically Weak KI Reinforcement} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.1%, has been created.

It wasn’t the first time I thought my power was sentient and fucking with me. After I’d gained {Night Vision} yesterday at least partly so that I could see how far along {Regeneration} was I now gained another ability.

I didn’t feel like commenting on the name but I was fairly happy I’d learned how to evolve skills. I’m pretty sure as my feelings about that name got stronger it would evolve to a more serious name.

I didn’t want to say the help with that name out loud so I put that aside for later. I still wasn’t able to seee inside myself or watch some weird energy flow around but I could feel a subtle energy inside. A quick experiment of imagining it flowing towards my hand seemed to have a response. The problem was that it was so weak I couldn’t quite be sure it wasn’t my imagination.

It was already a bit past 7pm, over 5 hours had flown by during the trance I sunk into.

I threw the hoodie and a load of other clothes into the washer. I wanted it cleaned so I could use it again tonight. It was a bit damaged but still the damage shouldn’t be noticeable at night.

My toes seemed a bit behind schedule but not much. After pulling out a measuring tape they seemed to be roughly 9/10ths of my right toes. 11pm seemed a reasonable new deadline.

As soon as 11pm came by I’d be able to go out and search for them while practicing skills.

“Help Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 60.3%
{Climbing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 18.5%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Grandmaster, Passive) EXP: 0.9%
{Dodging} (Novice, Active) EXP: 38.4%.
{Hiding} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 75.2%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 7.8%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 3.1%
{Jumping} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 61.2%.
{Knife Fighting} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 2.7%.
{Mapping} (Intermediate, Active) EXP: 88.6%.
{Memorization} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 91.5%.
{Pain Tolerance} (Master, Passive) EXP: 72.8%.
{Running} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 99.9%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Master, Passive) EXP: 62.7%.
{Sneaking} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 51.4%.
{Swimming} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 76.3%.
{Throwing} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 98.2%
{Unarmed Throws} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.0%.
{Walking} (Master, Passive) EXP: 38.5%.
{Will Crafting} (Novice, Active) EXP: 86.3%

The obvious quick stat benefits would be from leveling up {Running}, {Mapping}, {Memorization}, {Throwing}, and {Will Crafting}. All 5 skills were close to leveling up and with a bit of planning I could likely level them within an hour after my toes were healed.

The next thing was my abilities. {Night Vision} should level just from using it while out walking. {KI Reinforcement} might be a bit tricky but it’s not like I had to call it’s name out loud to use it.

And last was my Resistances. I still had a ton of stuff for grinding Poison Resistance in my inventory space, along with lighters for Fire Resistance. I had plans for Light and Sleep, but Light would have to wait for the weekend. Sleep should be possible to unlock tonight if I stayed up late. Last was the thought that KI Resistance was within reach at least in theory. If I could get a firm understanding of {KI Reinforcement} then some kind of KI projection should be possible, and grinding a Resistance to it also possible.

The other skill I really wanted to grind was {Sense Bloodlust}. The range on that was very large and gave me a lot more safety when dealing with people without Resonance like police. Or when dealing with psychics or others who could reduce their Resonance range like I could.

To grind {Sense Bloodlust} fast at the Master level though I needed to be close to a few people with strong bloodlust directed at me, or near a large number of people with bloodlust in general.

I started trying to sort through ideas for that when I was interupted by a window.

A quest has been created.
Jailbreak ver 2!
You quest is to stop the Jailbreak between 1am and 4am Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015.
Rewards:
1500 EXP, +3 to all Basic Stats for stopping the jailbreak.
Failure:
Possible death.
You cannot refuse this quest.

The rewards were definitely pumped up this time and the wording was slightly different. I had to assume the difficulty or danger of the quest was harder than previous ones too.

The thought popped into my head that being in jail was likely a perfect way to grind {Sense Bloodlust}. Not that I was going to allow that, but having a lot of people angry people around me would work.

That lead to thoughts of sports games. Being at a Blue Jay game or Maple Leafs game when they are losing in front of thousands and thousands of fans would likely grind {Sense Bloodlust} up to Demi-god level, fast.

The biggest games in town were the local team for the Ontario Hockey league. Next largest was likely University or College basketball or high school football.

A few minutes browsing the internet showed various university teams playing games, but more importantly the opening game for the hockey season was Wednesday night. It should be an opportunity to grind some Ice Resistance too if I dressed lightly.

I took Nilla out again and let her run around in dark along the driveway for a while while I sat on the pavement and played a bit of catch with her. I’d been concentrated so much on my RPG Growth power the last few weeks that while I took care of her basic needs I hadn’t played much with her. The last day and a half of recovering was the first really long time we’d spent together without grinding some skill or ability.

By the time we were done it was 11pm and I had time to eat, shower, and finish the laundry before heading out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At 12am I examined my toes. They seemed full size and while the skin was slightly tender all the pain was gone.

I redressed in slightly warm but clean clothes with the hoodie last. Nilla’s food and water was topped up and then I was off.

Stepping outside felt good. {Night Vision} was activated immediately. I tried activating {KI Reinforcement} and imagining KI energy flowing through my feet into my toes. It was tough to be sure but it seemed to have activated.

Next was {Will Crafting} as I went down my front steps. I infused Fire Resistance into my hoodie, pants, and finally shoes. The result was immediate upon the {Will Crafting} on my pants.

Through use of the skill {Will Crafting} it has reached Beginner level.
{Will Crafting} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 7.2%.
You have gained 1 Intelligence.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 50 EXP.

The small windows over my clothes said +10% Fire Resistance for a cost of 1 Psi per min per piece of clothing. Which seemed fairly low but not something I’d quibble about.

I then opened my map and set out running for the mall. I was planning on searching an escape route this time. This time I wanted to take an almost direct route west along the rail line back to the bush near my place.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Forty-five minute later I was pretty much done mapping trails behind the mall after leveling up {Running}, {Mapping}, and {Memorization}, which were all close to leveling before. The stat gains were a welcome bonus after having to sacrifice stats the other night.

Along the eastern edge of the mall ran a railway line. The line ran northeast and also southwest across the highway into the woods. I’d used it weeks ago to train but now it was my planned escape path.

North of the railway line and mall, but south of the jail, was some light woods and several winding streets. A number of trails lead through people’s backyards to the mall, likely made by kids and others who didn’t care about trespassing and didn’t want to go the long way to the mall.

I had never walked the trails before so using {Memorization} and {Mapping} to plan a few routes ahead of time while I waited seemed wise. During the previous jailbreak quest I ended up escaping the long way around, and the other day’s escape straight into the lake was even worse.

Grabbing a pinecones off the ground to finish leveling {Throwing} as I walked was also a critical part of the plan. It was at 98.2% before I started throwing them at various targets like a particular branch or stump.

I wanted to test a theory that I’d gain EXP faster in the skill by picking less aerodynamic ammunition, and trying things like bank shots off one target onto another.

It was really hard to tell though since I hadn’t worked out an estimate of how fast normal throwing leveled. The idea seemed sound though, similar to how practicing bank shots improved a persons game in pool.

In the end I leveled up {Throwing} a bit after 1am. Leveling up so many skills in just over an hour gave me a light headache, nothing like the crippling pain that happened back when my Mental Stamina was extremely low.

“Help Throwing”

{Throwing}
Novice – Throwing is 5% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Beginner – Throwing is 10% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Intermediate – Throwing is 15% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Advanced – Throwing is 20% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Master – Throwing is 25% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy.
Grandmaster – Throwing is 30% less tiring. Helps the Hand-Eye stat in improving accuracy. Can slightly change trajectories in midair. Requires 20 Willpower to enforce upon the world.

The help for {Throwing} up to now had been terribly boring and predictable. But after reaching Master I could see the help on the Grandmaster level. And that seemed to be a very nice upgrade.

The image that immediately came to mind was someone jumping up to avoid a rock and me curving it slightly up to hit them in the nuts.

I was more than a bit angry and fed up with these people after days of their shit and tonight seemed a good night to work out some of that anger on them.

I headed towards the jail, crossing through a few people’s backyards as I tried to map at least one good route from the start of the trail to the street out front of the jail.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Around 1:15 I was a block from the jail and got my first surprise. The number of resonances I could sense from the jail was fine, but I could feel two others a bit to the east of the jail.

I slowly headed east until I was on the opposite side of the road from the coffee shop I’d previously visited. The coffee shop was set back about 75 feet from the road but with my improved {Night Vision} and the backlighting I could see Firebringer and another man sitting in a booth.

That was a pleasant surprise. I’d really wanted to find him before he found me and pay him back a bit. It might not be fair to blame someone being mind controlled for almost killing me but if I didn’t work off some of this hatred I’d definitely go squirrelly.

Neither seemed in a hurry to do anything, they were just sipping coffee and talking occasionally.

The first two questions that popped to mind were, could I find a good rock for Firebringer, and were they waiting on others to join them? It wasn’t until I started pondering those questions that what should be an obvious third question occurred to me. What was the power of the person with Firebringer?

He wasn’t someone I’d felt before. It was at least possible he was even stronger than Firebringer.

I’d thought on Firebringer’s power before and it seemed reasonable that he couldn’t use his power too close to himself. Even if he was immune to his own fireballs he shouldn’t be immune to things sent flying by the fireballs. For example if he blew up a car in the parking lot of the coffee shop he wasn’t likely immune to being cut by flying glass or metal.

The next step was a waiting game. I could likely throw a rock through the windows and hit one of them but despite my vicious mood there was too many negatives. The window pane could change the trajectory of the rock and let it hit someone else, or even the glass could cut other customers and staff. That didn’t even count that I’d be hurting the business for no reason, especially considering I liked their glazed cinnamon rolls.

Instead I moved into the shadows across the street and waited for them to come out while looking around for a decent rock, or four. Not too big, not too small, just right for Mr. Firebringer.

The pain should break the mind control like it did with the others. In theory I was saving him. I couldn’t make myself believe that, but it was going to be my excuse if I had to explain myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was a long wait. I’d found some decent rocks, put on my gloves and even explored a few of the properties of the businesses on my side of the street to help plan getting away even better.

Police patrols were heavy in the area but they had no real chance of noticing me with my {Hiding} skill. I could feel the bloodlust of them prowling around the jail regularly. I imagined that even if they couldn’t see a quest they must know that someone was likely to try a second jailbreak and cleanup loose ends.

It was close to 3am when Firebringer picked up his phone and seemed to read something before typing a reply. Grabbing their coats they headed towards the exit to the parking lot between us.

Carefully looking both ways, I dashed across the main road to their side of the street while pulling the best two rocks from my pocket and moving into the shadow of a SUV.

They were out the door and a good 10 feet into the parking lot before I wound up and threw the first rock at Firebringer. At that point I was just outside the range he could feel me so the rock was a complete surprise.

The rock caught him square in the stomach. The second rock was on it’s way and a second later and hit the leg of the second man before he’d fully realized what had happened to his partner.

Quickly running at them I wanted one good kick with my KI enhanced foot on Firebringer then I’d let the police pick them up.

It wasn’t until I was standing above Firebringer and pulling my foot back to give him a kick that I felt the bloodlust spike, not disappear.

Firebringer was glaring at me from lying on his back and he was clearly not fuzzy from the mind control being broken. His partner had lost all bloodlust and was standing there confused with a complete lack of bloodlust.

I let fly with the kick to Firebringer a lot harder than I’d originally planned. The original plan was more of a token kick to deal with some of my feelings.

The kick I did was far more, my spike of adrenaline made me infuse all the KI I could into the kick at the last instant as I felt the fear he’d instilled, with the previous fireballs, into me.

I could feel and hear his leg crack when my foot hit his thigh. It spun him like he was breakdancing a backspin.

What happened next though shocked me. I was starting to worry that he would call down a strike on both of us. Instead glowing images started spawning around his head. A blue car, the house they were hiding in the other day, the jail, and what seemed like a youngish blonde girl. Each image was crisp and distinct despite being only a few inches tall.

A quick glance around showed images around the heads of a couple frozen thirty feet away, an older woman at the window of the coffee shop and everyone else I could see nearby with one exception. Firebringer’s partner was standing confused beside us but no images popped above his head.

It was immediately clear that whatever was happening was due to his power. As I was trying to figure out what that power was, Firebringer had stopped his spin and despite what must have been massive pain was reaching in my direction and screaming at me.

As the night was lit up by fireballs falling I turned and ran. The fact that he wasn’t mind controlled threw my entire plan to hell. I’d have to hold him down or even kill him to stop him and there was no way I was going to hold him until the police showed up.

The first strike exploded behind me, mostly missing me but it felt like 1 Fireball hit me. I felt the explosive blast and a strong push. I could feel the clothing I’d enchanted with {Will Crafting} pulling PSI energy from me to resist the flames.

The hoodie, shirt and pants damped down the fire damage to the point where my innate Fire Resistance was able to handle it, with only a bit of a burn.

The problem was apparent a few seconds later. The back of the hoodie, shirt and pants over my ass literally exploded into lint. Somehow resisting the fireball used up the durability of the clothing. Half of the back of my underwear was left but my pants were falling down and the hoodie and shirt were trying to slide down my arms.

Grabbing my pants I kept running.

I could hear the couple screaming in fear as I dashed between the parked cars. Another strike came down but missed by a wide margin. From the corner of my eye I caught the sight of a small car basically exploding as the fireballs ripped it to shreds. I was sure he’d missed so badly because he couldn’t see me any more from the ground.

Using {Dodge} and {Running} I was across the street and running through the back lot of a small engine repair business while more strikes came down far behind me.

It wasn’t until I was a block away that I felt somewhat safe. At the same time though I finally felt more resonances behind me.

It seemed like Firebringer had been coming outside to meet up with others. There was no way they could have reacted within 2 minutes otherwise. My timing was lucky as hell, if they had shown up and more of them were not mind controlled I could have been surrounded in that parking lot.

I felt the resonances starting to split up and head in my direction, but they had literally no chance of catching me.

I had an escape route, they barely had a clue which direction I’d left, they couldn’t sense me, and even if they could they wouldn’t be able to drive their cars through the trails.

There was no way they could carry out the jailbreak now. Not with how many cops were likely responding to the explosion a block away from the jail.

Another five minutes and I was streaking across the bypass at the railroad crossing south of the mall.

Ten minutes after that I was at the exit of the bush a few blocks from home.

From there the only exceptional thing that happened was {Night Vision} reaching Intermediate while sneaking through people’s backyards half naked.

It took close to an hour to cross 3 blocks since I had to wait for no nearby cars at each street I crossed.

At home I checked my burn, which was very light, changed clothes, and took Nilla out to poop.

I seemed to have gotten away safely. At 4:01am I got the quest reward.

Your quest ‘Jailbreak ver 2!’ was successfully completed.
You have gained +3 to all basic stats.
You have gained 1500 EXP.

That was followed up by a level up window which I waived away without reading. I really didn’t care about the level.

The most important issues were that some of the enemies were willing participants, not mind controlled, and thereby far, far more dangerous than I thought. I’d only found out the other day that they were likely being controlled and the control could be removed by pain, and now that helpful fact had been crushed along with my hopes to end this all fast.

The other issue was even more terrifying. What images popped up around my head and was Firebringer able to tell anyone about them. I didn’t clue into it in the heat of moment while trying not to die but I doubted I resisted having images of my life float above my head.

Browsing through the list of powers the only one that seemed to match was Light Mind.

There wasn’t too much I could do about it though. I packed a bag in case I needed to run, put my wallet in it in case I needed a hotel, and went to bed after a quick snack.

I felt more rational after having gotten some of my hate and stress out. And I was further ahead, there was no way either of the two would be attacking me anytime soon. I’d deal with whatever happened next as it came.

23) Calm before the steel-toe buttkicking

Monday, September 21st, 2015

A window was waiting for me when I woke.

Due to your actions you have gained a Resistance.
Infection Resistance has reached 3%.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 50 EXP.

I had slept for less than 2 hours when the pain, and the gross feeling of lying in wet clothes, woke me again. The biggest blessing from this power was the fact that it distributed the pain across my body instead of crippling pain in one spot, but even so I felt like I’d been beaten across every inch of my skin and my bones were cracked.

Careful of how I moved I threw the granola bar wrappers into the garbage by my bed and started stripping down to see the full extent.

My pants came off easily, but the hoodie was still partially stuck to my arm. Pulling it off was possible unlike the night before but skin came with it in spots.

Under the hoodie my left arm was cool but not frozen like it initially was. The cast was cracked in multiple spots and there was bruising up into my shoulder.

It was impossible for me to tell what happened inside my arm but I was fairly sure I had a lot of tissue and even bone damage from the Ice attack.

I’d avoided looking at my legs for the longest time, the brief glance I’d taken last night was enough to turn my stomach.

I was missing three toes on my left foot, burn craters going to the bone ran all the way up my calves to my knees. If the skin hadn’t regenerated while in the water I clearly would have been staring at bone instead of fresh skin. Large chunks of muscle were missing and the flesh on my right knee was gone down to the bone. I couldn’t feel any tension in my left Achilles tendon.

It was clearly impossible for a normal human to walk with that much muscle, and likely tendons, missing. The walk the previous night was a blur now but I could only assume my power held my body together enough to make it home.

The first step was clearly pain pills. I basically had 3 different things helping with the pain already, Pain Resistance, {Pain Tolerance}, and Obstinacy IV, but being clearheaded as possible was a priority.

Using the walls I pulled myself to the bathroom and sat on the toilet cover while I ate a couple ibuprofen.

Staring at the bottle I had an idea a bit late. I took a third pill and tried to concentrated my willpower on it.

A window popped up.

Temporary Pain Pill.
100% Pain Resistance for 1 hour.
-5 Psi/min to Creator

All I could do was laugh after I ate it. I took advantage of the pain relief to smear my legs with disinfectant, to help with infection, while I thought.

If I’d had unlimited time to grind all my skills then last night would have turned out far differently. Though if each of them had unlimited time to grind their powers up to maximum it might have gone far worse too.

They were also clearly trying to catch me, not kill me until the very end. If the guy with the Firebringer power had used that when I was crossing the open street between blocks I doubt I’d be alive now. Maybe I would have dodged some of it, but with others blocking me I would eventually have been burned to death far before I could get any kind of Fire Resistance built up.

Even the Ice Hand power could have killed if she’d frozen my head. It took hours for my resistance and {Regeneration} to get back even limited use after she touched it for a moment.

{Regeneration} had been stuck at Advanced level every since it healed my broken arm, but I was fairly sure rebuilding my body would bring it to Master level. The first question was would I need it to be Grandmaster level to heal everything or not.

“Help Regeneration”

{Regeneration}
Novice – Heals small scrapes, cuts and bruises at 2 times users normal rate.
Beginner – Heals cuts less than 1/4 inch deep, deep tissue bruising, small bone cracks, and 1st degree burns at 4 times users normal rate.
Intermediate – Heals serious cuts, bone cracks, and large 1st degree burns at 8 times users normal rate.
Advanced – Heals all stab wounds into muscle/skin, almost completely broken bones, and 2nd degree burns at 16 times users normal rate.
Master – Heals minor organ damage, resets and heals broken bones, 3rd degree burns at 32 times users normal rate.

The burns covering my legs were clearly 3rd degree burns in the deepest spots with 2nd and 1st degree burns along the edges.

The main question was, do toes count as minor organ damage or not. I had a bad feeling that they would take Grandmaster or even Demi-god level regeneration.

Unfortunately I couldn’t see the progress level of {Regeneration} since it was my only Ability. I needed to create another ability somehow and soon. If {Regeneration} stalls after healing everything but my toes I wouldn’t know with the way things stood.

The clear goal of the day was healing and gaining a new body based Ability somehow. Preferably one that would help if I ran into another situation like Sunday night.

The phrase ‘armies study how to win the last war’ came to mind but I wasn’t sure I could even guess at what future fights would be like. The variety of powers out there made things too uncertain.

I slide down the stairs on my butt and grabbed some more granola bars and a water jug before heading back upstairs to my bed. I grabbed a hair dryer as I passed the bathroom, plugged it in beside the bed and let it try to dry the large oblong wet spot on the comforter while I sat and ate. I wouldn’t bother with the sheets below the comforter.

Besides getting enough calories into myself to help {Regeneration} the next step was sorting out the aftermath.

“Resistances Window”

Mental
Panic 36%
Forced Mental States N/A
Insanity N/A
Sleep N/A
Physical
Poison 17%
Ice 42%
Electrical 0%
Fire 4%
Light N/A
Pain 59%
Special
KI N/A
Magic N/A
Psi 24%

I’d gained a bit of Fire Resistance from the attack but not much since the damage was done so fast. But Ice, Pain, Panic, and Psi resistance had all went up a fair bit compared to Saturday. I never did get a chance to unlock Light or Sleep Resistance but Sunday night didn’t exactly go smoothly.

I’d hesitated to open up my Character window since it had taken a hit when I created the Inventory window but meh.

“Character Window”

Class Explorer Level 2
EXP 2550 Next Level EXP 3000
HP 197/220 MP 280/280
Physical Energy 310/310 Mental Energy 760/760
Psi 306/350 KI 190/190
HP Regen 3.52/min MP Regen 0.28/min
PE Regen 0.31/min ME Regen 0.76/min
Psi Regen 0.35/min KI Regen 0.19/min
Title: Obstinacy IV
Agility 14/14 Hand-Eye 12/12
Intelligence 35/35 Luck 2/4
Mental Stamina 70/76 Physical Stamina 27/31
Strength 19/19 Vitality 22/22
Wisdom 28/28 Willpower 23/23
Titles available:
Obstinacy IV, Polyglot I

I didn’t regret the 5 point cost to create an Inventory Window but I was definitely a bit weaker in most ways. There was two surprises though.

The first was that Willpower didn’t drop. I’d assumed it was based upon Wisdom since I’d noticed it went up a bit every full point in Wisdom. So I thought it would drop but apparently not.

The other was that I had 2/4 Luck. 4 was still more than I’d started with but I’d never seen Luck being used up like that.

Checking Skills was next to see where they were at.

“Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 60.3%
{Climbing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 18.5%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Grandmaster, Passive) EXP: 0.7%
{Dodging} (Novice, Active) EXP: 38.4%.
{Hiding} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 75.2%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 7.8%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 99.9%
{Jumping} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 61.2%.
{Knife Fighting} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 2.7%.
{Mapping} (Intermediate, Active) EXP: 88.6%.
{Memorization} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 91.5%.
{Pain Tolerance} (Master, Passive) EXP: 70.3%.
{Running} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 99.9%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Master, Passive) EXP: 62.7%.
{Sneaking} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 51.4%.
{Swimming} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 76.3%.
{Throwing} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 98.2%
{Unarmed Throws} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.0%.
{Walking} (Master, Passive) EXP: 38.5%.
{Will Crafting} (Novice, Active) EXP: 26.7%

The shiny Grandmaster {Decrease Mental Presence} obviously drew my eyes first. But after that I scanned down the list and spotted the two skills at 99.9% which confused me.

I could understand one skill happening to stop at 99.9% but two seemed unlikely.

I wasted 20 minute of my pain free time trying to come up with a theory of why those would stop at 99.9%, especially {Running}. And the only theory I could come up with was that my power was reinforcing the power up of {Decrease Mental Presence} as a priority even over running. Since I couldn’t escape by just running away, I needed to lose the others.

I’d slowly been realizing that my ‘RPG Growth’ power wasn’t quite what I thought it was originally but I started to wonder if these powers were fundamentally different than people seemed to think they were even on the site.

My power seemed to draw from my mental state on how it developed. Presumably I had one major advantage over most of those with powers. I could see how my power responded to me while they just had feelings or guesses.

Why didn’t I gain a {Cooking} skill? Or for that matter a {Cleaning}, {Vacuuming} or even {Mopping} skill from work?

My guess was that my power had somewhat realized I didn’t want to develop in that direction. Now that my willpower, and perhaps intelligence, was higher it seemed to respond better. Thinking back even those titles were likely because my willpower and mental clarity were too low, leaving my power partially confused on why I was so happy as my skills went up. Normally my brain was all over the place with no clear direction.

Sorting through that used up most of my Psi energy and a lot of the hour the will crafted pill gave me. I decided to sleep while the pain was gone, recover PSI and then create another pill when I woke.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The familiar pain of a window woke me about 4 hours later at 11am.

Through use of the ability {Regeneration} it has reached Master level.
{Regeneration} (Master, Passive) EXP: 2.6%.

Checking my Character Window again gave me:
“Character Window”

Class Explorer Level 2
EXP 2550 Next Level EXP 3000
HP 198/220 MP 280/280
Physical Energy 310/310 Mental Energy 760/760
Psi 306/350 KI 190/190
HP Regen 7.04/min MP Regen 0.28/min
PE Regen 0.31/min ME Regen 0.76/min
Psi Regen 0.35/min KI Regen 0.19/min
Title: Obstinacy IV
Agility 14/14 Hand-Eye 12/12
Intelligence 35/35 Luck 3/4
Mental Stamina 76/76 Physical Stamina 31/31
Strength 19/19 Vitality 22/22
Wisdom 28/28 Willpower 23/23
Titles available:
Obstinacy IV, Polyglot I

My HP Regen had doubled, and my Luck had recovered a bit back to 3/4. My current hps had gone up slightly but obviously there was some cap caused by the wounds or it would have reached max in a few minutes.

I will crafted another pain free pill and took it.

First up was calling and telling my boss I needed Tuesday off, I told him I’d hurt my back again and while I could work I’d likely be crippled for days.

The call went fairly quick and he gave me until Friday to recover. I trusted him and could have told him the truth about everything but what he didn’t know, couldn’t be read from his mind. I felt like I was getting a bit more paranoid every day but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Next up was opening the door to let Nilla out to pee. She was more than capable of doing it now without supervision. I didn’t have to worry about her running off.

I took a brief shower, smeared more disinfectant while trying not to look at the fresh skin in the craters, and started cooking a ton of food. I wasn’t quite starving but the hunger never went away for long while I was regenerating.

There was no sign of the 3 toes growing back but already there was some tissue between my skin and bones. What had been bone barely covered with skin now had a slight amount of sponginess when I touched the wounds.

All the while I was pondering abilities like super strength or speed but I had the instinctive feeling that those were too powerful. That if I tried to create them my RPG Growth power would essentially halt any progress at all.

That ‘feeling’ opened up more questions. Could powers themselves be warped by their users? If someone had say an ‘Ultimate Ice Skating’ power could they warp it to be say the ‘Ultimate Hockey Player’ power?

It was a silly example but I felt there was a System behind all our powers. Trying to find out what rules it had might be easier for me than most even though I was far from having any good answers for my questions.

Thinking on the previous night though there was only one ability that easily came to mind. The ability to see in the dark. I’d stumbled a number of times when I couldn’t see the ground ahead. The combo of flawless balanced running from {Running} and instant memorization of the train ahead when I did have some light helped a lot, but couldn’t perfectly help in shadowed areas.

I could have run a lot faster if I hadn’t had to avoid shadowed areas. Normally when being chased those shadowy areas would have helped but not with Resonance guiding other power users.

What I needed next was a way to make it clear to my power or the System behind it what I wanted to do.

Sitting in a closet trying to read a book in the faint light coming through the crack above the door felt fairly childish. I’d blocked the bottom crack with a towel so only a small bit of light was coming into the closet.

Almost 20 minutes of straining my eyes, that could barely see I was even holding a book later, and the usual pain showed. Not terribly surprisingly the pain seemed mostly focused on my eyes until it slowly spread across my body.

Due to your actions you have gained an Ability.
The ability {Night Vision} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.2%, has been created.
You have unlocked the Ability window.

“Help Night Vision”

{Night Vision}
Novice – Allows the user’s eyes to collect 5% extra light.
Beginner – Allows the user’s eyes to collect 10% extra light.

“Ability Window”


{Night Vision} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.2%.
{Regeneration} (Master, Passive) EXP: 21.5%.

{Regeneration} seemed to be grinding fast even after reaching Master level. Perhaps because I mostly wasn’t using my other powers, even gaining {Night Vision} didn’t take long. Or because my injuries were so bad.

The three toes though didn’t seem to be growing back. The stubs of them seem to have just sealed over.

It was a bit before noon when the day’s plan seemed fairly clear. To avoid grinding most of my skills and try to concentrate my power and reach Grandmaster {Regeneration} as soon as possible. Toes are good to have.

At exactly 11:59 my cell alarm went off. I’d set it earlier so that I didn’t sleep in past the noon regional news. Today was the first day the courts were open since WannabeThor had been captured at the jail.

I logged into the new channel on my computer and started to watch. Even though the regional news covered a few cities the case was first on the show.

The summary of the appearance before a judge, the lawyer’s statement and the police was:
– WannabeThor’s name was Richard Mathews and he had a fractured jaw…
– He claimed to have confused memories of the previous 2 weeks, but couldn’t deny the two killings
– He had been reported missing by family a bit over a week ago

City police also reported during an interview that two people were found wandering the western part of the city with confused memories early in the morning. Both had powers and had been missing for days from roughly the same area as Richard Mathews.

I went and made another pain pill after that. I needed a clear head.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that those 2 were likely the two I hit, Highblonde and the brunette with the Ice Hand power. The chance of two other people coming into town and wandering that area was low.

It could be two different ones of those chasing me, but all of them were still chasing me until 3am. I could occasionally feel them in the distance before I came out of the water and made my way home.

The things that the three of them had in common was they had confused memories, were missing a while, and I hurt them.

Sadly I actually considered for a moment whether I had the power to confuse people I hit but that seemed extremely unlikely since no skill or ability showed that. I’d wondered more than once when all that extra Intelligence stat would kick in.

Mind control was the next thing that came to mind. If someone had a mind control ability that would explain why they disappeared and perhaps why their memories are confused.

The question was if that was true, was it pain, or shock or something else about the fights that broken the control.

My evil inner child kind of liked the idea of hitting people with a rock from 300 feet to ‘save’ them. But without knowing what other factors were involved it was hard to go on a rampage and save people.

Not including that I could barely walk even with all my pain control. Walking too while overriding the pain would likely rip the healing areas to shreds too.

I browsed the list of powers again.
Atmospheric Pulse, Ice Hand, Variable Invisibility, High Speed, Healing Wind, Distant Viewer, Firebringer, Laser, Punishing Fist, Dominator, Lightning God, Poison Fiend, Shelter, Time’s Timer, Light Mind, Shadow Forger, Air’s Birth, Pathmaster, True Light, Meteor, Heart of Glass, Garden.

The obviously suspicious one was Dominator. I couldn’t quite rule out Light Mind and Heart of Glass though. Anything with Mind was suspicious, and Glass reminded me of how easily pain seemed to break people out of the control.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hours went by with endless tail chasing speculation, brief naps, and steady healing, that was only broken when I felt 3 familiar Resonances off in the distance. It was a bit after my 6th meal of the day at 8pm. I’d first felt some strong bloodlust’s off in the distance but that wasn’t uncommon after I hit Master level in {Sense Bloodlust} so I wasn’t suspicious until they reached Resonance range.

It was Shockandrun, the Firebringer guy, and what I was pretty sure was the resonance for the Distant Viewer, moving along the waterfront to my west.

Moments after I felt them my {Increase Mental Sensing} leveled up.

Through use of the skill {Increase Mental Sensing} it has reached Advanced level.
The skill {Increase Mental Sensing} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 0.1%, has been created.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 10 EXP.

I’d been using 800 feet as the rough range of sensing Resonance even though I’d never been able to measure it. Advanced {Increase Mental Sensing} gave me an extra 40% range, which meant 1120 feet. A bit less than a quarter mile.

What was interesting, besides the fact that they didn’t go back to their jobs, was that the road along the waterfront only connected with the rest of the roads at certain spots due to the train tracks downtown.

For the first time I was able to estimate the full range of my {Sense Bloodlust} and it was apparently affected by the {Increase Mental Sensing} 40% too. That would make it’s range around 2240 feet. If I could learn to distinguish particular bloodlusts like I can with Resonances, I could identify people at even longer ranges.

So far I’d never really felt a special ‘fingerprint’ to the bloodlusts but that didn’t mean I couldn’t evolve my power slightly to do it.

There wasn’t much I could do about them searching for me other than stay hidden. If they did come along my side street I could hop the back fence into the neighbor’s yard and avoid their range but that was less than ideal, especially if it happened during daylight.

About my only other option was leaving the city. I wanted to avoid going to the police if at all possible. Even if the government didn’t seem to have any plans for people with powers yet, I didn’t want anyone knowing about me.

The backlash caused from the fighting all over the world was swiftly bringing hatred and jealousy out in the open from large sections of the population. Those that didn’t already think we were tools of Satan thought it was unfair and too many of the people with powers were acting badly. Even the pastor with the ability to heal in the US had been harassed with death threats.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A bit after 10pm I got the next window.

Through use of the ability {Regeneration} it has reached Grandmaster level.
{Regeneration} (Grandmaster, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.

It seemed incredibly fast for a Master skill to level up, but I was trying to avoid splitting my power. The extent of the injuries this time likely helped too.

The toes stubs felt itchy. The next pain pill was will crafted to ignore itchiness too even if it cost an extra .5 Psi/Min. I really didn’t watch to interrupt any healing, if it wasn’t just in my head.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At 11pm I was on meal #8, and I can’t count how many trips to the bathroom, when I sat down to watch the evening news to see if there were any more developments. The 6pm news was just a rehash of the noon show plus things I didn’t care about.

The police tactical unit had raided a house, around 7pm, on the west side of the city after interviewing the 3 people with powers. Backup from local and provincial police was involved. They didn’t find any of the other power users there. A dead body believed to be the owner of the house was found. They weren’t releasing details but a source had stated to a reporter that the person had been dead for several days.

I didn’t know what to think. Had they killed the owner of the house to get a base? What the hell is wrong with renting rooms at a motel? If they were living there after then there’s a ton of DNA and fingerprints there.

It didn’t make sense. All of the behavior seemed self-destructive in the end. Why kill the guy in the hospital and his police guard? Why try and kill or lightly electrocute Arsonboy, whichever it was they planned? Why kill what was likely a normal person instead of brainwashing him?

Again, thoughts and plans chased around my head for hours while I healed.

I still avoided learning any languages or other skills I could work on at home to concentrate on {Regeneration}. But I spent time browsing the Researcher’s site on powers. Nowhere did I find answers to my thoughts on how powers work though. I didn’t even find any of my personal questions. Just miscellaneous theories by people about aliens, gods, and time travel.

By the time I went to bed at 3am {Regeneration} was at 7%, the toes were a bit longer, and I’d decided that tomorrow, when I was fully healed, would be a good day to go hunting.

Last time I ran into them I had no plan and they could find me. My Psi resistance was up, my {Decrease Mental Presence} was leveled. They wouldn’t know I was there until I hit them.

City map

While I’m not exactly keeping where I live a deep secret I’d still prefer not to name it. But here’s a map of the areas used in the story for those interested. If you do recognize the city please don’t name it.

A quick note: The curved road just south of the University marking actually rises a couple hundred feet. The roughly top inch of the map is much higher than the rest of the city though it doesn’t show well in this pic.

 photo 8d71d91e-2326-4b34-9ddc-211a1d2af03f_zpssmaxseha.png

Edit: added police station and hardware store

22) Not the best day

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

At 9am exactly my cell alarm woke me and Nilla. I’d slept a bit less than 6 hours, enough I’d hoped to recover to max but also hopefully not be essentially if another search went past. There was no sign I was detected which was good.

It was Sunday so most people should be home and I was hoping their searches would hit the residential areas or maybe spread to the edges of the city since they didn’t find me yesterday. I lived within 200 feet away from the downtown business area. There were plenty of houses around me but I had some hopes for a peaceful day.

It struck me just how much I was hoping this, hoping that. A far cry from the confidence of the other night. But ambushing a few guys in the distance in the dark with all the skills I had now was a far cry from going head to head during daylight if I was caught by surprise.

I’d built my skills around stealth, and essentially information warfare. I wanted to be able to track them while they couldn’t track me.

Yet another hope was that they all still had jobs. If they hadn’t quit their jobs then any with 9-5, Monday to Friday jobs would have to head back to wherever sometime tonight.

If they just left a couple behind then it was sniping time again.

With those dark thoughts I started up my morning routine. After days of short walks or none at all I took Nilla for a slightly longer one to the Waterfront.

We passed a few people jogging and a few others walking their dogs. Most of them weren’t as calm as Nilla when passing by. Nilla had almost never barked at other dogs in the past but she had a habit of whining a bit since she wanted to go play even if they barked aggressively at her.

When a rather loud terrier was going by I was able to ‘feel’ Nilla talking to another dog. I’d never felt her talking to Crystal or the neighboring dogs so it was fairly new. I couldn’t quite tell what she was communicating to the other dog but the dog which was half again her size suddenly crossed to put it’s owner between it and Nilla.

I’m not sure if Nilla was bullying the bigger dog or just standing up for herself. Either way the teenager owner seemed to be annoyed. Maybe he liked his dog harassing others? Or didn’t like being cut off by his dog suddenly switching sides.

Anyway, at our walking speed we were long gone before he could think of an excuse to start anything.

Other than that the walk was relaxing and helped clear my head of a lot of the stress I’d accumulated in the last 24 hours.

I started making plans as I went. Most of the mental resistances I had no clue how to unlock. I suspected I needed to be attacked mentally before I could unlock them, similar to how Nilla’s pee begging Psi attack unlocked that.

However Sleep and Light were both doable later tonight. If Monday was likely to be fairly safe then I could stay up until I unlocked Sleep Resistance and then sleep to recover.

Light Resistance seemed doable at work. We had 3 tanning beds at work along with free tanning for staff. The main problem is that like any work place people gossiped. And I was easily the whitest guy on staff, one coworker a decade past had called me Casper the Unfriendly Bitch for being so white and anti-social.

Most of the staff were too new to remember that, but if I tried grinding Light Resistance by taking several short tans in one day, across several people’s shifts, they would all know about it. And the chain’s policy restricted you to only tanning every second day.

If we weren’t a 24 hours club I could easily set it up for myself after close but the next time we closed was Thanksgiving in early October.

Even the simplest things had complications if I wanted to avoid calling attention to myself. The same as the cast on my left arm. The arm had been perfectly fine for days now but taking it off before at least 2 weeks had passed would likely be noticed. I doubted anyone was counting days but it needed to be long enough that I could claim I felt mostly okay and broke it off in annoyance.

Nilla was still going strong now that her stamina and energy levels were high but I wanted to head back.

We were cutting through a park when I felt the Resonance. I had longer range than Nilla due to my higher {Increase Mental Sensing} but I still couldn’t quite detect how many there were. The Resonance felt a bit strange too, in a way I couldn’t describe. The only slightly useful information was that one seemed vaguely familiar. It wasn’t Shockandrun, perhaps one of those that passed nearby while I was working last night.

They seemed to be heading south but it was strangely hard to tell. The angle the Resonance was at didn’t move as fast as it should and the feeling wasn’t growing either so they weren’t heading straight for me.

About 20 seconds after I felt them Nilla updated a map window for me and I could see why.

They was 3 of them and they were twice as far away than I’d thought they were. I immediately pulled up Nilla’s skill list in reflex.

“Pet Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 13.1%
{Climbing} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 4.8%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 85.7%.
{Dodging} (Beginner, Active) EXP: 1.7%.
{Hiding} (Novice, Active) EXP: 29.1%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 41.3%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 36.8%.
{Jumping} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 79.6%.
{Knife Fighting} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
{Mapping} (Novice, Active) EXP: 53.7%
{Memorization} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 20.6%.
{Pain Tolerance} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 1.5%.
{Running} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 64.8%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 48.4%.
{Sneaking} (Novice, Active) EXP: 12.5%.
{Swimming} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
{Throwing} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.1%.
{Unarmed Throws} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.1%.
{Walking} (Novice, Passive) EXP: 89.5%.
{Will Crafting} (Novice, Active) EXP: 41.6%

I wanted to comment on the fact that her freaking {Will Crafting} was higher than mine but it wasn’t the time. Pulling up her skills was definitely a brain fart on my part.

I was clearly feeling Resonance at twice the previous distance and so was Nilla. So I didn’t need to look at her skills or mine, I knew it wasn’t a result of skill increases.

It had been exactly a week since the World map thing was added. The most likely answer was that whoever or whatever was behind these powers was messing with us yet again and had doubled the range everyone could feel each other at.

The park we were in was right beside the street they were heading south on. I’d been heading towards that road to go north and home and was less than 80 feet away.

I immediately turned and ran with Nilla deeper into the park causing the few people playing near to give us a glance. They weren’t important though. I needed to get at least 160 feet from the street.

My {Increase Mental Sensing} paid off again. It took them more than two minutes to get through the lights and traffic to get near the park which meant I could have walked the 160 feet.

A bit of panic wasn’t a bad thing. We were in sight of the car as it drove past but I was already holding Nilla under my shirt in the shadow of a tree. {Hiding} had shown the best spot for me to watch them from while still being in view to try and see them.

The car windows were tinted and only the passenger side window was down. I had a vague view of long blonde hair past the passenger but couldn’t see enough to bother using {Memorization} on the driver. The passenger though was smoking a cigarette and looking in my direction. I got a clear view of his face and was able to sort his Resonance out a bit from the blur.

I’d have preferred to see him walking by himself to get a better memory of how he looked in total, and his solo Resonance, but beggars can’t be choosers. He wasn’t the slightly familiar one from last night. Either the driver or the passenger was one of those that went past work then.

I waited until they were a good block past, heading towards Crystal’s old workplace, behind rushing home.

My place wasn’t as safe as yesterday now that their sensing range was doubled. Before they had to drive exactly by my house on the cross street. Now if they were at the intersection on either side of me they would be able to feel me.

I could grind {Decrease Mental Presence} but it was already at Master level and would take at least 5 hours to reach Grandmaster based on my training with Crystal the other day. And training at max distance seemed far less useful than being inside the other person’s sensing range when trying to gain EXP in the skill.

Which meant I had to be within 160 feet for 5 hours or roughly around 10+ hours of being within 800 feet.

I texted Crystal to see where she was while I hurried home.

I didn’t bother taking off my shoes when I got home in case I needed to hurry outside and get some distance from a searchers path.

Four slices of toast later there was still no reply from Crystal so I set up a Resistance grinding station again. I didn’t want to be nauseas so I skipped the Poison Ivy. And I couldn’t take off my shoes so I couldn’t do the heater or bug zapper the same as early this morning.

I double checked my Resistances with “Resistances Window”.

Mental
Fear N/A
Forced Mental States N/A
Insanity N/A
Sleep N/A
Physical
Allergy 92%
Cold 67%
Static 79%
Fire 0%
Light N/A
Pain 46%
Special
KI N/A
Magic N/A
Psi 2%

I rolled up my left pant leg and put the space heater right against the skin before turning it on. Cold packs in the underwear again. But the bug zapper was held in my right while the left was being zapped.

An hour later there was still no reply from Crystal but the more important thing was Fire Resistance hadn’t moved even slightly from 0%. The front mesh which felt like it was burning my skin just felt pleasantly warm.

In the same time period Static had gone from 79% to 87% while Cold increased by a smaller 5%, from 67% to 72%.

With an hour going by and no searchers I was a lot calmer. Going from near invisible to the enemy to being slightly vulnerable had racked my nerves.

I didn’t even know if they had figured out someone who could hide their Resonance did the attack on Shockandrun and WannabeThor. The only one who could report back was Shockandrun and it’s entirely possible he thought the attack was from extremely long range. Or by an angry teenager who likes to hit people with rocks.

That wasn’t something I could rely on though. They definitely knew someone was in town from the World map ability everyone gained a week ago.

Trying to puzzle out what they might know, or guess, while I waited for Crystal to reply consumed another hour.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By noon Cold Resistance had hit 76% and stopped no matter what I did or how many I used. I came to the conclusion that the freezer just wasn’t cold enough. The dial in the Freezer was set to normal so I switched it to the colder setting. A quick check online said that was likely around -18C and -23C respectively, but without the manual I couldn’t be sure.

I stopped using the ice packs and put them back in the freezer. I figured I’d try again later when the freezer hit it’s new colder temperature.

With it being a while since I ate I went back to grinding Allergy Resistance with Poison Ivy and Static the bug zapper I’d grown to hate.

A bit over an hour and a half later I had my reward that was worth swallowing my vomit a few times.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Title.
Moderately Masochistic has evolved to Obstinacy III.
You have gained 10 EXP.

Which was followed a short while later with the window I’d expected.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Resistance.
Allergy Resistance has become Poison Resistance.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 50 EXP.

That only left Static Resistance to grind since I was fairly sure that Poison Ivy wouldn’t raise Poison Resistance after what happened during the Heat to Fire Resistance change.

Which meant it was time to go back and research while zapping my knee. So I looked up food poisons, with one hand, that seemed the easiest to find. Most of the results were fairly useless. I was sure I could find dangerous mushrooms for example if I searched, but enough to be useful?

Crystal finally replied halfway through my search. The OPP had moved her temporarily to a detachment 30 minutes east of the city at a small town of 2000 people. They wanted her to be safe as they sorted out how to best use her power with their higher-ups down south.

Funnily enough I hadn’t gone by the station on the bypass during my searches, just within a block, so I didn’t know they had moved at some point. Crystal was a bit annoyed I’d told her to go to the wrong address…but she was also a resident! How was it only my fault?

So that was totally useless in terms of me grinding {Decrease Mental Presence} but very good for her. Sending her to them was exactly the right decision it seemed since they were taking it seriously.

Going back to my research I found Red Kidney Beans was the answer I was looking for. They were bad enough that if you ate 5 raw ones you could be sick within 10 minutes if unlucky, and you would certainly be sick within a few hours.

A bit less than a half hour later I hit my final grinding goal.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Resistance.
Static Resistance has become Electrical Resistance.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 50 EXP.

I kept on using the bug zapper for another 10 minutes but didn’t get even 1% into Electrical Resistance.

I really had no clue how to go on with a couple resistances. Cold might level up after the freezer temperate change, or it might not. I didn’t want to start shoving forks into electrical sockets.

The two that seemed simple though were Poison and Fire. For poison a quick trip to the mall for a package of Red Kidney Beans would do it. If I slowly chewed them like hard candy I had no doubt it would raise Poison Resistance.

For Fire Resistance I could likely just buy a bunch of lighters.

Both Resistances seemed like they would grind my {Regeneration} ability too. Without {Regeneration} I’d likely end up with burn scars and half my stomach lining flushed down some toilet.

Around 3pm I took out Nilla and then headed to the mall.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was time to begin hunting. Armed with my grocery bag of Red Kidney Beans, a fistful of lighters, a couple latex gloves, and a dozen good throwing stones, I started my search pattern.

I started east of the mall and jail and worked my way north then west. I’d searched the area just a week earlier so my {Mapping} skill had an accurate map of it.

The fact that the Resonance range was twice as long and I now had {Increase Mental Sensing} on top of that meant it was dramatically easier to search. A given area took a third as long to check.

Two Resonances were inside jail when I went near it. One was Arsonboy and the other I was fairly sure was WannabeThor. I only sensed him briefly before I ran away Friday night but it felt right.

The most unsurprising thing was that I could feel a few bloodlusts in the area around the prison. I assumed they were from plain clothes police ready to step in if there was another attempt on the prison. It wasn’t worth going close though to find out if I was right.

I could use the two of them to raise my {Decrease Mental Presence} but it would mean staying most of the evening and into the night nearby. With only a couple restaurants and one 24 coffee shop to hide in that likely wasn’t the best idea. I’d definitely stick out after a few hours.

I swept north towards the Airport. Previously I’d never searched around the Airport, just the base of the hill to it, because it was a pain and likely to be fruitless.

After walking up the steep 3 block long hill and searching…it was fruitless. I went back down the hill and started a zigzag towards the University area.

The only productive thing was Poison Resistance was at 7% and I was getting down the timing of how often to eat without feeling too sick. It had been slowing me down.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A bit after 7pm I got my first hit. Someone was driving the bypass and heading west to my south. It felt weak enough I knew I was outside their range.

Continuing my search I passed by the hotel I’d stayed in two weeks earlier.

I reached to store where I bought the jogging suit when I hit paydirt.

To the south, across the bypass, was a residential area made up of houses, a couple apartment buildings and a grade school. There was at least three and likely less than 6 Resonances from there.

I needed time, or getting close, to sort it more clearly than that, but one of them was definitely the passenger from the car in the morning. One was likely Shockandrun.

It was like listening to people whispering at the edge of your hearing around a corner.

I tried to triangulate them on my the map in {Mapping} as I slowly moved west. After a few hundred feet I was directly north of them and had roughly located them as just south of an elementary school on the other side of the bypass.

Checking my skills I could see {Increase Mental Sensing} visibly moving. {Decrease Mental Presence} had moved a percent for the first time since Friday so I was sure I was at the edge of the 800′ range. The brief encounters Saturday and earlier Sunday weren’t enough to increase a Master level skill.

“Skills Window”

{Acting} (Novice, Passive) EXP 58.6%
{Climbing} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 7.9%.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Master, Passive) EXP: 46.7%
{Dodging} (Novice, Active) EXP: 8.8%.
{Hiding} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 64.9%.
{Identification} (Novice, Active) EXP: 7.6%.
{Increase Mental Sensing} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 19.5%
{Jumping} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 4.7%.
{Knife Fighting} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 2.7%.
{Mapping} (Intermediate, Active) EXP: 78.2%.
{Memorization} (Intermediate, Passive) EXP: 91.4%.
{Pain Tolerance} (Master, Passive) EXP: 26.2%.
{Running} (Advanced, Passive) EXP: 83.9%.
{Sense Bloodlust} (Master, Passive) EXP: 51.8%.
{Sneaking} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 46.7%.
{Swimming} (Beginner, Passive) EXP: 3.2%.
{Throwing} (Advanced, Active) EXP: 96.1%
{Unarmed Throws} (Novice, Active) EXP: 0.0%.
{Walking} (Master, Passive) EXP: 35.1%.
{Will Crafting} (Novice, Active) EXP: 17.3%

I was currently in some scrub behind a car dealership north of the bypass. There was a strip mall nearby so I headed there to buy another hoodie from the same sports clothing store that I bought the last one from. This time I bought a dark blue one.

I headed west to the highway cross at the new hospital, then south and around to the elementary school. I needed to get closer and pinpoint them a bit more.

As I walked I started timing the how long it took for {Decrease Mental Presence} to change by 1%.

The first thing I noticed was that the old elementary school had apparently been torn down at some point and a new one was being built. The frame of the building was up but the grounds were extremely messy with mud and gravel. A few construction machines were scattered around the edges of the building. I ducked through a gap in the fencing into the yard.

Trying not to sink in the mud I crossed the yard to the south side. On that side the road was shaped in an L as it passed along the front of the building. I was at the corner of the L, with the long section running east, and the short part running south.

A house on the street south from me had 2 cars in the driveway and a third on the side of the street. I could feel the Resonance from inside it.

The sun was already going down when I reached my viewpoint but there was still light enough that people nearby could see me if I hung around out in the open on the construction site.

And I had no clue what the hell I was doing there. I’d kind of went with the flow but forgot to make any sort of plan.

I had no quest. No real chance at storming and defeating what was likely a half dozen people with powers in the house.

Calling the cops from my cell would just give away my number and they might not take it seriously. Even if they sent a car to check it out there’s no way for them to know who has powers. And one or two cops likely had no chance if the people with powers attacked first at close range.

I checked my calculations on {Decrease Mental Presence}. It was going up 1% every 6 minutes. At 48.9% that meant roughly 5 hours and 6 minutes before it hit Grandmaster if I stayed not too far away.

I decided I’d walk around the neighborhood until it was solidly dark. Provided I didn’t go to close I could raise my skill while slowly chewing the kidney beans. The lighters just sat in the bag in my pocket. It wouldn’t be smart to try burning myself while wandering around to say the least.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was close to 9:30pm when I came back to the construction site which was barely lit up by the waxing crescent moon. I’d passed within view a few times over the last hours. The only change was that a new car now was at the curbside. A half an hour earlier I’d felt some of them come back and a few of those at the house leave.

I assumed it was them switching shifts in their searching patterns.

I’d raised my Poison Resistance to 13%, and {Decrease Mental Presence} was at 64.9%. I needed 3.5 hours to reach Grandmaster. Which didn’t feel all that long after 3 weeks of training various things. If nothing else the past weeks had increased my patience level for things other than books and games.

I’d also slowly been able to distinguish between the different Resonances too. Two of the ones I’d learned to recognize left at the shift change. Of the two who came back, I was sure one of them was Shockandrun. The other’s resonance was easy to memorize now that I knew everyone else inside.

The problem was I still didn’t have a plan other than grind {Decrease Mental Presence}. There were 5 of them inside in total, that plus the other 2 meant I now could at least differentiate 7 of the 9 power users.

There was one small thing that had happened that worried me a bit too. As I’d walked the neighborhood I’d twice felt a strange but light mental pressure that was hard to describe.

Each time Psi resistance had leveled up 1% but nothing else happened.

I setup in the deep shadows behind a backhoe where I could see the house but none of the houses had a good view of me and waited to see what I could learn. It wasn’t a good plan, but the only one I could think of.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At midnight the final two I didn’t recognize came back while 2 others went out. This time I was able to see all four even if not very well.

Leaving was a middle aged guy, maybe Asian, along with a younger blonde guy as the passenger.

Coming back was a tall, but otherwise average, brunette and a shorter, chunkier male. I was fairly sure they were the driver and passenger that passed me by in the morning.

A few minutes later {Decrease Mental Presence} had just reached 89.1% on the window I kept up when I felt that strange mental pressure again.

I pulled up my Resistances Window.

Mental
Fear N/A
Forced Mental States N/A
Insanity N/A
Sleep N/A
Physical
Poison 17%
Cold 67%
Electrical 0%
Fire 0%
Light N/A
Pain 47%
Special
KI N/A
Magic N/A
Psi 5%

I had time to notice Psi went up another 1% when suddenly I felt the general bloodlust in the house spike up.

I’d felt bloodlust from the house all along but it was mild and not really focused so it wasn’t painful. This was.

It was directly stabbing me and it was clear someone had somehow noticed me. Seconds later other bloodlusts were reaching in my direction. They weren’t as clearly focused on my body, but still in my direction.

I was already standing after the first hit of bloodlust pain. The bag of kidney beans went into a pocket as I started running west through the school yard. There was a small section of bush to my south but it basically connected to the houses back yards and would be a poor choice to hide in.

I didn’t know they found me but it was clear that only one of them could track me. The rest just seemed to know what direction I was in.

The main thing was to not panic, try to get distance so the one person would hopefully lose me, and avoid letting the others get close enough to sense me themselves.

Within a minute I knew that wasn’t going to work. I’d climbed up and over the school’s fence into some kind of industrial area. It wasn’t big with one large building and dirt parking on the east side. I didn’t take the time to try and figure out what they did there, I raced through the property and hopped a fence into someone’s back yard.

I could feel two of them circling the block south of me, two to my east circling that way, and one still back at the house.

Crossing through the yard and across the road I saw the car south of me heading my way.

My body was on automatic {Running}, {Climbing} and {Jumping} while I tried to make a plan. West of me a block was a main road, then industrial area, then mixed bush with houses and industrial areas all the way to the Reservation’s land miles away. The industrial areas were particularly bad though since you could drive onto the large lots and except for some vehicles and containers the line of sight was far longer than residential areas.

North was the highway/bypass and beyond that residential and a few businesses until the hill. East I’d just come from.

South was houses until the downtown business area. I was roughly 8 blocks north and 8 west of where I’d had my arm broken by the construction worker.

I decided to head south. I needed an hour with as many of them within 800 feet of me as possible to grind {Decrease Mental Presence}.

With tons of backyards to cross and {Hiding} to help point out when I was out of sight I had no doubt I could do it. As long as they stayed in their cars and others didn’t come.

Due to your actions you have gained a Resistance.
Panic Resistance has reached 1%.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 50 EXP.

I still had the breath to laugh since with my stats I hadn’t dug deep into my stamina after a few minutes of running. Checking the resistance window Panic Resistance replaced Fear on the list.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the first 20 minutes it wasn’t very hard. Fences didn’t pose a problem to my {Climbing} skill. And with only two cars they could only race to block me off only for me to double back and cross the street behind them.

They could have used the two cars more aggressively but they seemed to be content to just stay near me.

That started to worry me. If they were willing to do U-turns or other illegal driving then things would have been a lot harder. There were a couple times I crossed behind their cars that if they reversed I might have been hit. But the only one breaking any laws was me as I trespassed through dozens of yards.

It was clear they were playing a waiting game. And the mental pressure never went entirely away. I did lose it occasionally when I switched directions in deep shadows only to be found again when I was lit up by streetlights as I crossed to new blocks.

Suddenly I felt two more Resonances approaching. That meant 6 of them were near me. The one left behind in the base never joined up.

It wasn’t long before a third car was in the mix and then it was infinitely harder to keep away. Two of the cars would circle whatever block I was inside while the third tried to block ahead. That was awkward but the main problem was 3 of the 6 got out of the cars and chased me on foot.

One was the tall brunette, the other was the young blonde guy, and the third I couldn’t see but I knew it was the shorter chunkier guy from his Resonance.

For the first time I could start to match their powers to them. The chunky guy was invisible most of the time. Invisible was mostly a useless power due to Resonance and {Sense Bloodlust}. It would be dangerous to girls in locker rooms but not to someone with a power.

The blonde guy though was far more dangerous. When he ran seemed to almost teleport each step. He would take a step and be 5 feet ahead suddenly, next step he was another 5 feet further along.

I still didn’t know what the brunette could do but she was in good shape and while she couldn’t close she didn’t fall far behind either.

With them using their powers it reminded me of the list for the area. My body and brain had been on automatic as I’d moved south through the residential area.

The list I’d had was: Lightning God, Atmospheric Pulse, Poison Fiend, Ice Hand, Shelter, Dominator, Variable Invisibility, High Speed, Time’s Timer, Healing Wind, Light Mind, Distant Viewer, Firebringer, Shadow Forger, Laser, True Light, Air’s Birth, Pathmaster, Punishing Fist, Meteor, Heart of Glass, Garden.

Likely the invisible guy was the owner of Variable Invisibility. The blonde guy likely High Speed. I mentally labeled them Invisdude and Highblonde. It was a bad habit but convenient.

The strange thing was that Highblonde never left the sidewalk or streets. The first block after they jumped out and pursued on foot he was always easily pacing me but never went into the dark between houses.

The problem was with just a few glances at his power as I ran down the center of the block, the long way, I could tell there was no way for me to cross streets with him now around.

I slowed down and fumbled out the bag I’d brought. Ignoring the kidney beans spilling from it I grabbed at the rocks I’d put in the bag and carried all those hours earlier. When I pulled my fist out of the bag I had 4 rocks and a lighter in it. I wasted time throwing the lighter back in while the two behind me slowly got closer.

I put the bag back in, 3 rocks into my left, and headed to the end of the block where I’d have to cross.

Shockandrun along with Highblonde were waiting for me. Stopping in the shadow of a 3 story house I whipped a stone at Highblonde only for him to warp away as he stepped 5 feet towards Shockandrun instantly.

The next rock went at Shockandrun but this time he didn’t run. He reached up an arm and a small area in front of him seemed to pulse out a shockwave that blew the rock off at an angle. Luckily it seemed to blow Highblonde away too.

It was clear they hadn’t practiced fighting together.

The third rock went at Highblonde as he was struggling to regain his balance. This time he didn’t see it coming as it stuck him on the left side of his stomach.

The problem was that the brunette had time to catch up to me as I stood there throwing.

I had time to turn and try to block the arm she reached out with my cast. She grabbed the cast through the hoodie and squeezed hard as she closed her eyes. A blue flash came from her hand and my arm instantly went numb. A cold feeling swept through my body and made my arm shake as I punched her in the throat.

It’s hard to punch anyone in the throat seriously, much less a woman, but I never claimed to be nice when my life was on the line. My full strength wasn’t behind it originally and even less after whatever she did but she still went down.

Chunky Invisdude was still a few dozen feet behind her when I turned and stumbled off at an angle from Shockandrun.

He tried to intercept me but even shaken I was far, far, faster than him.

I heard car doors slam as I ran into the driveway of a duplex across the street. I tried to pull back the arm of the hoodie but it was stuck to my left arm. I could feel with my right arm that the entire arm was cold but I couldn’t do anything with my left.

My left arm just hung there. I couldn’t open my fist with the rock in it. None of my muscles responded. There was no pain in the arm but some in my shoulder and chest. It was clear that the woman had frozen my entire arm.

{Regeneration} had helped my chest and shoulder a bit as I crossed out the other side of the block, but the arm stayed frozen as I dodged one of the pursuing cars yet again. It was clear the driver still wasn’t trying to hit me and he didn’t get out and chase.

The only good thing was {Running} had adjusted my technique for the dead arm but {Climbing} was difficult in spots still.

Both Shockandrun and Invisdude were in one car chasing me. Apparently neither had stayed to help the two I hurt.

The close encounter had several benefits though. {Decrease Mental Presence} spiked up a few percentages when I checked it as I ran. Panic Resistance and Cold Resistance were both visibly counting up when I checked the Resistances window. Panic Resistance was at 23% while Cold Resistance was 94% and going up every few seconds. Psi Resistance had spiked up and reached 17% without me noticing until then.

Less than a minute into crossing the next block I got the window.

Due to your actions you have evolved a Resistance.
Cold Resistance has become Ice Resistance.
You have gained 1 Physical Stamina.
You have gained 1 Vitality.
You have gained 50 EXP.

I still had no feeling or ability to move my left arm even with the evolved resistance.

We were less than a block from the lake when they got serious. I wasn’t quite sure what my plan was. Each time I went into shadows I lost the mental pressure for longer periods of time but it still found me.

I’d come to the conclusion that the mental pressure was the person back at the house using the Distant Viewer power. With a cell phone the Distant Viewer would be able to guide others to me. I’d made the guess that the power partially used a Psi lock on the target once spotted to follow it. It clearly wasn’t entirely by Psi lock or I wouldn’t lose it in shadows. And if it had only a remote viewing ability with no lock then I wouldn’t have any ability to resist it.

{Decrease Mental Presence} was about to level to Grandmaster but that wouldn’t save me like I’d thought earlier.

I needed to go somewhere they couldn’t follow me.

Passing through the center of the last block, I was now at the lakefront on someone’s private beachfront. Swimming seemed my only solution at this point. I could lose the four following me. I could hopefully lose the Distant Viewer watching me in the waves, especially whenever the clouds covered the moon since there would be no streetlights near.

The main problems were, swimming with heavy clothes is damn tough, and I’d presumably ruin my cell.

Running down the beach across people’s property I was a few hundred yards from one of the public beaches when I thought of the solution. My power was slowly adapting to my needs and desires. All I needed to do was throw all my focus and willpower into one thing as I let my {Running} skill guide me down the lakefront.

I started chanting between gasps.

“Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!Inventory Window!”

Two hundred feet later my power responded to my desperate focus.

Do you want to sacrifice 5 in all Basic Stats to convert that power to opening your Inventory Window?
Yes/No?

“YES!” I screamed as I streaked towards the public beach.

You have unlocked your Inventory Window early.
-5 to all Basic Stats

“Help Inventory Window”

Any non-living object on you or in your hands can moved into an unique space at will. Current limit is 2 cubic feet.

I pulled out the grocery bag to test it. Willing it into my Inventory I could see it disappear from my hand only to show up in a ghostly box floating ahead of me.

Next was my shoes and socks. I stumbled a bit as they disappeared into my inventory. The sand and grass felt slightly chilly as I ran along the lake.

A small island about 200 feet offshore was almost parallel to me. I decided to run/swim to it. The lake generally wasn’t very deep even if it was huge. You could often wade out hundreds of feet but it was kind of tricky. The water might be two feet deep, then a few feet past that it would drop to five feet deep, then back to three deep for a hundred yards.

I heard car doors slam behind me as I raced into the surf. The waves were maybe a foot and a half at most deeper in but not very big where I was.

The plan was to get behind one of the trees on the island, grind out the last 2% of {Decrease Mental Presence} and hit any of the bastards in the head with a rock who followed me.

My cell and wallet went into the inventory next as I waded in.

I was almost at the island when the first of them stumbled into the backyards. One of them was shouting into their cell when I looked back so likely the person back at their base told them to stop trailing along the road and go get me.

The rock I pulled from inventory missed but they still took cover.

They let me scramble up onto the island and hide. The island was the largest of 5 nearby. But even the largest was only 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and had 3 trees in the middle. It was still possible to hide where they couldn’t see me but I was easily visible from other angles.

With time to catch my breath I had time to finally wonder why they hadn’t tried to kill me like they had Arsonboy and had actually killed Jason Gagnon along with the constable.

Were they trying to capture me? That would make their actions make more sense.

{Decrease Mental Presence} hit 99.0% and I said screw them to myself. I only needed them to be within 800 range for 6 more minutes. If I started wading out into the lake now I would reach Grandmaster before I was out of effective range.

Slipping backwards into the water I started wading out just as the bloodlust behind me spiked massively. I could feel the stinging pain all over my body as {Sense Bloodlust} kicked in overdrive.

I turned a dived under the water. It was only three feet deep there but I kicked myself down as my instincts screamed at me to get deep. Trying to dig deep into the sandy bottom with my one good hand and anchor myself futilely.

The water exploded with light and pressure and a sudden searing pain in my legs. I was tossed forward by a shockwave and almost tumbled by it. The shockwave forced the breath from my chest as I gasped out the air into the water.

A few moments later I tried to stand and get away only to find I couldn’t stand.

Flipping on my back I reached down with my good hand to try and feel what happened as I looked back.

All I could feel at first was my pants were ripped and torn from the middle of my thighs downwards. Slowly I could feel that my legs were literally missing chunks and my feet felt uneven. At first there was no pain.

As I slowly tried to move backwards into deeper water the pain came as shock wore off. It was incredibly painful despite all my pain resistance and pain tolerance skill.

30 seconds after I was hit a second strike was came. And this time I could see it. Falling from the sky were 4 balls of fire that hit where I was before. I’d only moved a few dozen feet since my speed was crippled and the shockwave threw me another couple feet back towards the center of the lake.

I turned and made the best speed I could for deeper water. I couldn’t walk properly and could only use my right arm but I still swam as best I could when possible.

Another 30 seconds had passed when a third strike came in. Happily I was outside the shockwave range that time.

A fourth, fifth, sixth, and even seventh strike came farther and farther behind but the person gave up. I could only assume that one of them had the Firebringer power.

I could feel them spreading out along the beach either direction. But I was definitely outside their sensing range. I didn’t follow the shoreline though. The mental pressure seemed to have been lost ever since sometime before the third strike. I didn’t notice exactly when it disappeared.

{Regeneration} was busy sealing my wounds still as I kept heading out until I got the notification.

Through use of the skill {Decrease Mental Presence} it has reached Grandmaster level.
{Decrease Mental Presence} (Grandmaster, Passive) EXP: 0.1%.
You have gained 0.5 Wisdom.
You have gained 1 Mental Stamina.
You have gained 50 EXP.

“Help Decrease Mental Presence”

{Decrease Mental Presence}
Novice – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 5%, must be stationary.
Beginner – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 10%, can move slowly.
Intermediate – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 20%, can move normally.
Advanced – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 40%, can move at a fast walk.
Master – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 80%, can do any actions.
Grandmaster -User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 95%. Requires 20 Willpower to enforce upon the world.
Demi-god – User’s mind falls into a mental state that reduces mental presence by 99.5%. Requires 70 Willpower to enforce upon the world.

I would have laughed if I didn’t worry about swallowing one of the waves. There was a level past Grandmaster. And it required an absurd 70 willpower. As a plus though with 99.5% reduction in sensing they would need to be within 4 feet of me at Demi-god skill level to sense Resonance.

Now that resonance was down to 40 feet I headed south. It would take a long time with my current body before I was directly west of my house but there was still 4 hours until light.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was exhausted when I reached the point nearest my house. I’d long ago moved closer to shore where it was two feet deep.

It was 3:30am according to my cell. I’d pulled it out when I could safely check it. I didn’t think I was bleeding anymore but I was lightheaded and dizzy.

Between me and my house was a bar that closed at 3am. I was long past the point of caring if some random person saw me staggering past with burned and ripped pants. I mainly was waiting for the police patrols to move away.

They normally patrolled the bar area heavily until a while after they closed. But tonight I’d seen them going by along the waterfront a bunch. Likely at some point our running chase had stirred up some police attention, maybe someone spotted the Firebringer strike. The cop cars were giving off a fair bit of bloodlust.

When the timing was right I slipped up the beach and staggered home. It was impossible to force my feet into shoes. I couldn’t look down without wanting to puke.

Using my Obstinacy titles and every bit of pain resistance I slowly staggered home. The 4 blocks felt like the longest trip of my life. In the middle my last shameful title evolved to Obstinacy IV which helped ignore a bit more pain.

I opened the door, sat in the doorway and ordered Nilla to go outside by herself. It would have been almost impossible a few weeks ago but she went, peed, and ran back.

I closed the door, grabbed some granola bars, pulled myself upstairs and ate on top of my comforter where I wouldn’t stain the sheets with blood. I knew I needed all the food I could tolerate to rebuild.

After 4 bars I turned off the light and fell asleep. It hadn’t been a good day after all.