Ultimate Level 1

Chapter 52: Truth that sets you free
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Chapter 52: Truth that sets you free

Tanila Batrire said softly, looking at her with concern.

Their elf friend held up her hand and smiled. Its ok. I know what its like to have a skill most wouldnt imagine. I think Seth has proven himself worthy of my secret.

She turned to Max, smiling as she pointed at the log near the dead ogres body. Lets harvest these things, and then we can sit over there. This might take a moment.

Tanila sat next to Max, who was struggling to hold back the flood of questions he had about how the three of his party mates were acting.

She took a deep breath and let it out, staring ahead at the swamp, not looking Max or anyone else in the eyes.

I have a skill. It is a scarce skill, especially for someone my age. Others have gained it after a lifetime of adventuring, but for someone my age to be given this skill from Thuyja was never heard of. Do you know what happens when someone has skills in all four elements of magic?

Max shook his head and realized she wasnt really watching him. I dont.

She nodded, a smile evident from the side of her face. When you have all four skills, they can be combined to form a new skill. The advantage of that union is that each elemental skill takes on the highest tier gained.

She turned, watching as Max realized what that meant. So if someone finally reached level one hundred and picked up the fourth magic skill and had one at rare or even epic, they would have mastery over all those elemental spells at that level.

Holy elf Max stopped, seeing Tanila grimace at him as he started to say that. Sorry, I blame Fowl for that line. I always said holy dwarf balls until he came along.

Fowl snorted, keeping quiet as Tanila nodded and shrugged.

Now, combining those four skills provides a lot of utility and power. I wont get into the trade-offs, but we can talk about it another day. She tapped her chest and then smiled. I was given that magic skill. Elemental Magic is what it is called. I even started with it being uncommon. It created quite a stir in my town and even my kingdom. As I mentioned before, I chose to go against my family's wishes and was lucky enough to meet Fowl and Batrire, who have accepted me, pointy ears and all. Tanila put a hand on Maxs knee. You can cast magic. That goblin shite story you tried to spin about an enchantment stone was good, but I felt the magic leaving you. I know you can cast ice magic as well.

Max heard the gasps and shifting on the log as Batrire and Fowl glanced at Tanila and then at his back.

Thats impossible, Batrire said.

Max sighed, glancing at Fowl and Batrire, who saw the relief on his face.

Im about to tell you a story. One that might get you killed. Are you sure you want to hear it?

How can you telling us something get us killed?

Frowning, Max stood up and turned to face the three of them. It can. Just know that. If you want, we can move back to the portal, and you three can be safe from that fear.

Tanila studied Maxs face, knowing that this wasnt some story he had spun like all the others.

Im willing to hear it if you trust me.

Fowl glanced at Batrire, who nodded and crossed her arms while waiting for Max to speak.

Bah, Fowl explained. What the hell? We only live once, right?

It had been hard at first, but Max shared everything except the color of his skill. He could see the shock in their eyes when Max talked about being locked up and having to run for his life.

As he listed the skills he now had, their eyes couldnt hide their shock.

Having killed that ogre, I picked up two more strength and constitution points. Max winked at Fowl and then sighed. Which is how I knew it had to have at least a seventeen strength; my skill wont give me any more stat points if Im above or equal to them.

The three sat there in silence for what felt like forever. Batrire and Tanila were both doing calculations in their head, trying to find a way to solve this impossible truth.

But youre still level 1? Fowl asked, interrupting the thoughts of the other two. How?

I cant get experience from killing things. I tried baking and got one experience point for hours of work. I could level up eventually, but it took Aimees dad over twenty years to be level seven. Im not sure the stat points would be worth it.

Which is why his spear does so much damage, especially when combined with his strength.

Fowl looked at Batrire, who had figured out the problem she was working on.

Wait! What are your stats?

Both women groaned as Fowl looked at them and then at Max.

I know that isnt something one should ask, but it makes sense to know!

If you come across this story on Amazon, be aware that it has been stolen from Royal Road. Please report it.

Max nodded and pulled his spear and shield out.

[Simple Stats Check]

*****

Max Hoste

18-Year-old Human Male

Level 1

Exp 1/1000

HP: 270/270

MP: 60/60

Stamina: 135/135

STR: 20+7

DEX: 10+2

CON: 20+7

INT: 12

WIS: 9

*****

Holy dwarf balls, Tanila muttered. You are a warrior with a twelve in intelligence. Do you have no, of course not, how could you.

Still, he is weaker than us.

Fowl turned to stare at Batrire and then began to bob his head.

I am?

Yes, Seth I mean, Max

Keep calling me Seth. Easier for both of us and less chance of someone finding out who I am, Max said, interrupting Batrire.

She nodded and then continued.

If your stats are right, you are about twenty points behind Fowl. Your items are amazing and help cover that gap. Combined with your skills, you can somehow make up for that lack of early difference.

How am I behind? I know Im stronger than Fowl.

Fowl nodded and thumped his chest with his fist. I put most of my points in constitution. I have a natural forty-five. My strength is only eighteen.

Scratching his chin, Max did the math that Tanila and Batrire had already done. That means I am about four levels behind or more.

Which is why I knew you were lying, Tanila said, tapping her temple with her finger. You made yourself look too good, but if you were at the level you said you are, you would be much stronger and have a higher constitution. Honestly, your ability to heal yourself has been the only thing keeping you alive. We saw that when you fought the undead.

But if we are fighting level twenty monsters, shouldnt they have higher stats to steal?

Not necessarily. That ogre by itself isnt a problem. That ogre with one or two hobgoblins is harder but manageable. Give it four hobgoblins, and now you see the problem. It isnt the hobgoblins, but getting hit by the tree that ogre carries.

Max nodded, frustrated to learn he was so far behind the others.

Elf tits! Fowl exclaimed, jumping up off the log. That is why we are getting such good experience! He cant get any!

Tanila and Batrire both had their mouths open, shocked that Fowl had figured that out and that they hadnt.

Which is why we have been leveling so fast, Fowl continued. We had been wracking our brains trying to figure that out. Now it makes sense!

Yeah, I should have told you that. I figured that out with the first group I was with.

It got quiet again for a minute, and Tanila stood up and moved over to Max. She held out a hand. Thank you for sharing with us. Ill protect your secret to my death.

Shaking her hand, Max grinned. Thank you. It means a lot to be able to tell someone finally.

Turning around, Tanila motioned at the other two. Lets go. We got more ogres and hobgoblins to kill.

Both dwarves jumped up and came over to Max, giving him a gentle punch to the arm and smiling.

Youre part of our family now. Welcome to our crazy band.

Three hours later, they had made their way around the swamp and found the portal to the second floor. Their shoes squished with every step and were covered in mud and water.

Max had gained three strength and four constitution points from the ogres. Those gains made him feel slightly better as the other three laughed when he complained about not getting any more.

Lets see what the next floor looks like. Im hoping it has some relief from this mess, Fowl stated as he lifted his boot out of the water and watched it leak.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as the next floor was a mountain area with rocks and a trail to climb.

Do we want to keep going or call this a day?

Fowl glanced at Max. You tired?

Exhausted. I told you I only slept two hours last night.

The other two nodded, and Fowl let out a sigh. π”£π”―π–Šπ”’π–œπ”’π”Ÿπ–“π–”π”³π”’π–‘.𝔠𝖔π”ͺ

I guess we can call it a day. Better to not push it since you are our weakest link.

Max groaned and gave Fowl a push as they turned to go to the portal that would take them out of the dungeon.

Seth, one more question.

He glanced at Tanila and saw a worried look on her face.

Go ahead.

When you ki when you end someone's life. Not a monster, but like that man last night and that elf who attacked you, what is that like? When you mentioned it both times, you seemed different.

Tsking his tongue to his teeth, Max could only nod.

It is different. Like my skill knows it. I sometimes feel like it wants me to take that path. Knowing what you have told me, it makes sense. The possible growth I could get if I just killed people would be

Enough to scare a god, Tanila said after he stopped talking.

Max stared at the ground, nodding his head.

I dont know why I got this skill. All I can do is promise I wont let myself become power crazy. I dont want to be like Serhmy and the others.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and saw Fowl standing beside him.

We wont let you lose yourself, Seth. Family doesnt do that.

Back in his room, Max fell into bed, grateful for how the dungeon magic worked. Once they left, all their gear was clean, as were they. No more blood, mud, or muck.

His armor was strewn on the floor. He pulled the thin blanket over him and closed his eyes.

He was exhausted. Tired from the lack of sleep but even more so from the relief of finally being able to tell someone his secret. He believed Tanila, Fowl, and Batrire that they would keep it. He had no doubt they would help him get stronger, and they could level faster with him. Fowls joke about climbing the towers together felt real. It gave him hope.

I dont know which of you bastards cursed me with this, but thank you. Thank you for it.

He closed his eyes, and sleep came. For the first time in a while, there were no more dreams of being hunted or alone. He now had a family.

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