Before I knew it, I had another weird skill.
[Shedy] [Race: White Ghast] [Low Demon (High-Rank)] ・A low demon made of dust and gases. An intelligent spiritual lifeform. [Magic Points: 216/392] 39↑ [Total Combat Power: 255/431] 43↑ [Unique Skill: Reroll] [Racial Skill: Fear] [Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Apprentice)] [Skilled Packer]
‘Skilled Packer’…? I did pick up the silver and copper coins I found in the bandit’s lair just in case. To think that resulted in a skill… wait a minute? I had around 30 of the coins. That should be quite a bit of metal. But looking at myself from the outside, I couldn’t see them anywhere. Where was I keeping my money?
I mean, I knew I had them. If I dispersed myself into looser gas, I could see them laced here and there throughout my body.
But once I raised the density back up, they disappeared… how curious!
So anyway, I checked out the storeroom and grabbed whatever seemed useful. These included a spare robe and cloak, the bandit leader’s magic dagger, some expensive-looking rings and necklaces, some bottles of what looked like medicine, some jerky as Blobsy’s snacks, and more.
Eh? You want some right now? But didn’t you just eat more than ten corpses?
She looked sort of bummed out and started to clean up the blood on the ground, so I relented and gave her a slice of jerky.
After some experimentation, it turned out I could store anything that fitted a single suitcase, in both dimensions and volume. Which meant that a dagger could fit, but not spears. Also, anything too weighty would make me feel sluggish, so I limited my heavy stuff to coins and potions.
Alright, this would be our base to hunt monsters and bandits. Let’s go.
I left with Blobsy, completely unaware of the disaster looming upon us. Upon all secret alpha testers.
“There it is! 300 meters ahead!”
“Alright, that Berserker is ours!”
“Yeah!” “Awesome!” “Let’s go!”
Within the northern reaches of the central continent lay the Principality of Trendeux. A country formed around the 32nd World Sapling to be found.
The Sapling had blessed the lands with its boon. Despite the latitude, the climate still stayed relatively gentle. But the moment you entered the mountains, the greenery instantly gave way to white, the field of snow stretching unbroken all the way to the summit. A spectacle of utmost grandeur.
A silver-colored troll was there, its fur blending into the snowy mountain. It was busy with its meal, a gray bear.
At first glance, the subspecies looked close to a yeti. It was over three meters tall and about two meters wide, with arms as big as tree trunks.
The troll looked at the bear it was eating and suddenly went quiet. Then, just as abruptly, it began to tear apart the carcass. It starting pounding on a nearby boulder, crushing its own arms without a care, and roared in agony.
Such madness unnerved the beta players, being so real they even forgot they were in a game for a moment. Their faces paled. Some gasped for a breath.
To the south of the Principality of Trendeux was a large country, the Trestan Kingdom, which was the chosen base for these players. They were Rank 3, or in other words, players who had reached level 3 in their combat skill. Native adventurers in World of Yggdrasia used the same ranking system.
There was a rather popular thread on the game’s VR boards, in which two parties of Rank 2 players from Trendeux reported their defeats at the hand of this berserk monster. And so, this group of players had come here after a few train rides overnight to challenge the troll.
“Total combat power is 499. No wonder. That’s quite tough for Rank 2.”
“Hey everyone, gather up! I’m casting defensive buffs!”
“Alright, Iet’s go. Remember to pull the boss with arrows.”
“Can I use poisons?”
“Did somebody say ‘poison’? Here, try this neurotoxin I made. It’s going to stick around for a long time.”
“Holy shit woman, that’s vicious.”
The poisoned arrow found its target. Overwhelming pain drove the berserk troll into a rampage.
In a one-on-one fight, the troll would almost certainly win. So the group of five leveraged their teamwork. Magic corralled the monster while blades sliced into flesh. Almost thirty minutes later, the leader, a swordsman wielding a greatsword, decapitated it.
“Man, regeneration and high power. That’s a boss alright.”
“And still no match for us! What’s the reward?”
“Eh? Did the corpse just disappear?”
“Maybe because it’s an event monster? Hey, it dropped something. A yellow gem?”
“Is that the reward? Can’t be, right?”
“Oh hey, there’s the system message.”
“Whoahoh?! A year pass for the airship!”
Equivalent to 10 large gold coins, this yearly pass allowed you free rides on the airship, with which you can reach any country in Yggdrasia in just half a day. All members of the party received one. Once this info was posted on the forum, the race began. The race to hunt for the twenty remaining berserk monsters scattered all over the world.
“Secret alpha tester No.17. Confirmed mental collapse and subsequent cessation of neural activity. As per procedure, requesting dispatch of disposal team.”
“Oh boy. No. 17 was pretty stable, considering. Now even that one’s gone.”
“Will it be a problem, sir? No. 17 was a rather special one. This event has been resulting in quite a few permanent losses in subjects.”
Brian, in the monitoring center of the 7th facility, was in high spirits. His secretary voiced her concern, and he flippantly replied with a shrug.
“Analysis of their powers and genome’s already done. The government has been pressuring our bosses for faster results, too. The six months deadline’s still a long way away, but with how enthusiastic our testers have been, we’re already done with the basic data gathering. The event is just to finish up early.”
The 100 secret alpha testers weren’t just random orphans.
The existence of ESP – strange and mysterious special powers – was confirmed all over the world, and these testers were believed to be people possessing such powers. Over half of them only had trivial powers, such as vague precognition or slightly higher physical abilities than the norm, but the first 23 chosen were a step above in power. Or in the case of a few among them, several steps. The powers of those few had helped bring about revolutionary technologies for mankind, many with applications in warfare. It was the beginning of a new era.
Power and genetic analysis had already finished. The experiment was only continuing to see if the special abilities could be improved, or if new applications could be discovered, by putting the orphans into extreme stress conditions. That, and also to dispose of the testers, since they were no longer useful.
The number of deaths and mental collapses climbed rapidly due to the event, even though only one month had passed since the experiment started. Already, there were 32 deaths from cessation of neural activities, with another 48 logged out from mental collapses.
Only 20 alpha testers left.
“And just as expected, No. 01 and No. 08 are still hanging on. Man, aren’t they stubborn… oh, right. Wasn’t there another one quite stable?”
“Yes, sir, that would be No. 13. Considering how all the other spiritual-avatar testers had suffered mental collapses in just the first stage, she has an amazingly durable mind.”
“Yeah, that’s the one. The ‘Demon Child’. Not a very nice power though, that one.”
The albino girl who caused misfortune to everyone around her. Called a ‘demon’ by her own parents. Abused and neglected.
“A pity her power wasn’t actually probability manipulation like we wanted. According to the 3rd research facility’s report, ‘the power could only nudge the results. Implementations of it technically worked, but the results varied so much it just isn’t practical, plus maintaining control over it would literally take the mind of a demon’,” the secretary said.
Brian laughed. “So even our little demon’s a lost cause. I suppose it’s impossible, then. Well, might as well have our alpha testers keep with the mana gathering until the end.”
Hold up-whoa-hold up a minute, what in the world was going on here?!
“There it is! The white one!”
“Don’t let it get away! This one’s gotta be ours!”
Just a few days after I took over the bandit lair, some beta testers came out of nowhere to attack my base.
They were about as powerful as the ones chasing me before, so I still managed to repel them. Then a different party came by the next day. In the end, after finally gaining a base, I was forced to abandon it.
I had planned on hiding out in the forest depths until the heat died down, yet every single one of them found me with ease.
I tried to hide with my [Humanoid Form] several times, but a single kid wandering around in the forest proved to be too suspicious. Plus, I had to change back into gas form if I wanted to move quickly, which only helped them discover me faster and give chase.
And I couldn’t even choke them, since they were playe-ouch!
“What’s with this one? Poison didn’t work!”
“My turn! [Thunder Bolt]!”
That hurt, dammit! What if you hit Blobsy?! She’s in my pocket!
[Magic Swordsman-ish Young Man] [Race: Human ♂] [Adventurer] [Magic Points (MP): 45/82] [Hit Points (HP): 88/90] [Total Combat Power: 150]
[Archer-ish Young Man [Race: Human ♂] [Adventurer] [Magic Points (MP): 52/60] [Hit Points (HP): 110/110] [Total Combat Power: 187]
Unforgivable. They seemed to prefer projectiles, so I mingled in the trees and hid my cloak on the canopy of one. The magic swordsman gave chase without much care. I ambushed him from above.
“Aaaah!? What the fuck?!”
“Calm down! Use your magic!”
Too late. My combat power was thrice theirs, so absorption worked quickly.
“Shit, my HP and MP’s going down!”
“W-Wait, stay there, don’t move!”
They were afraid. Afraid of me.
The archer tensed. He took out an expensive-looking silver-colored arrow from his bag and aimed. Just before the arrow was loosed, he suddenly seemed distracted by something.
The arrow pierced through the magic swordsman’s knee… even without needing my skill.
Oh, I see. Blobsy was waving the cloak on top of the tree.
I sort of pitied the magic swordsman a bit, so I decided to leave him for last. Meanwhile, I dealt with the archer while he was still stunned. The battle ended without much fanfare.
I sighed in relief. Perhaps just [Fear]ing me was enough to lower my opponent’s success rate?
[Shedy] [Race: White Ghast] [Low Demon (High-Rank)] ・A low demon made of dust and gases. An intelligent spiritual lifeform. [Magic Points: 355/477] 85↑ [Total Combat Power: 255/499] 68↑ [Unique Skill: Reroll] [Racial Skill: Fear] [Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Normal)] [Skilled Packer]
I defeated 6 beta players in nearly as many days. A bit more power for me.
I had a feeling I could evolve after breaking 500 magic. Strangely enough, the increase in my combat power wasn’t as good as my magic.
Also, after using humanoid form 24/7 to disguise myself, the skill leveled up again. To continue my cooking analogy, at (Normal), I was a cook in an eatery in the countryside. You know the type. The only place to eat in town, had tons of choices on the menu, yet all the dishes were about the same: not bad, but nothing to write home about either.
With how quickly the skill was improving, I had to wonder, how many levels did it have left? I didn’t look much different. Mostly, it was just my surface looking more like a doll’s, plus my body getting thicker.
Whoops, I forgot. We should move. Staying still might invite another attack. Let’s go, Blobsy.
I was about as fast as a person running, so if I kept circling around the wilderness, the beta players shouldn’t be able to catch up that easily.
Right, how was I getting detected so quickly? The carriage driver I left alive might have seen me, but he shouldn’t be able to pinpoint where I was going to.
Was there a spell to detect my location? Such a pain… If that was a spell, outrunning its range might do me some good.
It looked like going this way would return me to that mountain range again.
I continued forward to the mountains. A while later, I detected magic signals that felt similar to the horned wolves’. We were actually in sight range of each other. They didn’t attack me, though, since I was stronger than before.
I felt like there were less of them than there used to be.
I expanded my detection range, just in case, and moved forward. Then I found several signals, probably beta testers, and a large signal near them. They were deep in the mountains.
Normally I would have left there and then, but if the large signal was a secret alpha tester, then cooperation might be on the table. Holding onto faint hope, I peeked at them from afar.
I saw the mad two-headed horned wolf.
[Two-Headed Horned Wolf] [Magic Points: 315/340] [Hit Points: 372/415] [Total Combat Power: 499]