Ultimate Level 1

Chapter 85: Consuming something different
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Chapter 85: Consuming something different

His head was groggy, and Max tried to open his eyes, but they didnt want to work.

Wait a moment. Let it pass.

Max started responding when he realized the voice he heard wasnt one of his team or one he recognized.

Or did he?

Yes. You know what I am.

There, in blackness and nothingness, Max felt a form take shape. A mirror image of himself looking back at him. Black eyes stared into his soul.

Who what are you?

You know what I am.

I am that which is inside you.

I am the thing that drives you.

Shaking his head, Max tried to consider what he was hearing and seeing.

Youre a skill, how can you

I am more than that. I am a power. I do not know why I was given to you, but it has been thousands of years since one has possessed me.

He felt his mind reeling, trying to understand what this meant.

I do not have time. Listen.

Max felt his gaze drawn to his copy black eyes, unable to fight the command.

We must grow stronger. You know what you need to do. Every life you take provides what is required. Do not hold back. Give in to the hunger.

Shaking his head, Max put his hands over his ears.

I wont! Im not a killer!

His image laughed. The sound reverberated around him, and even with his hands over his ears, was crystal clear.

You are, and you know it. A mercy kill? No, you wanted that dying mages power. Those bandits? You knew what they could provide. That woman

The image of himself licked its lips and grinned.

Eventually, you will give in if you live long enough. Finally, we will become what we must.

The image of himself began to fade as Max heard voices and noises. Things he recognized.

What?! What must we become?

The laughter echoed as the body of himself faded away.

Darkness took him over once more.

Something wet splashed against his face, and Max coughed, squinting and grunting.

Hes awake!

Max recognized Fowls voice and saw the dwarf leaning over him, a half-empty water flask in his hand. Sorry, bud. You werent waking up, and it was this or me pissing on you.

Nodding slowly, Max sat up, ignoring the hand he felt on his chest, trying to keep him on his back.

Im okay. I need to stand up.

A tsking sound came from Batrire, and he felt her take her hand off his chest as he finished sitting up and rolled over to his knees.

What happened, Seth?

Standing up, Max glanced at Tanila and saw the look of concern on her face. She was biting her lip, which was never a good sign during moments like this.

I dont think you would believe me if I told you. Im not sure I would believe if I told myself what happened.

He saw the three of them looking at him with confused expressions.

Try us? Batrire replied. We have believed everything else. Whats something even crazier?

Max chuckled and nodded, turning to Fowl, still holding the flask. Holding his hand out, the dwarf nodded and gave it to him. After a few drinks, he put the stopper in it and tossed it back to Fowl.

Ok, just promise you wont leave me after I tell you.

The four of them stood there. Over a minute had passed after Max finished sharing what he remembered, and no one had said a word. Some shifting had taken place, and Max had seen the winces and reactions to his story.

A skill that has a soul no, a will or a mind?

Max shrugged as Tanila finally started to try to work things out.

I know about the power of red skills because the elves dont do what humans do. We try to harness those powers no matter how bad they might seem. Even dwarves are known for accepting the skills humans seem to fear.

Yeah, but thats because most humans in power desire more power, Batrire replied. We arent like that, desiring balance and other things

Like gold and ale, Fowl interrupted.

Max snorted, and Batrire shook her head slowly. Yes, gold and ale are at the top of our list, but humans have always desired more power. To give them access to the same red, clear, or black skills would be

Dangerous, Max finished.

She nodded and glanced at Tanila, who had her eyes closed and was lost in thought.

Max glanced around, seeing his spear on the floor and the boss's body gone.

Did someone get its feet?

Ogre nuts, Fowl cursed as he shook his head. Sorry, I was a bit more worried about you than some stupid rabbit feet.

Shrugging, Max moved to where his spear was lying and put it into storage.

Dont worry about what I told you. I can only imagine how it must make you feel about me.

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You have no idea what we feel, Tanila replied, her eyes open and focused on him. We arent going to just abandon you. Im sorry you feel that is what people do to you. We arent your ex-girlfriend or anyone else. We will stick right next to you until you push us away.

Or kill us, Fowl added, trying to joke and realizing he failed miserably. Sorry, too soon.

Max just grinned and shrugged. Remember, it wasnt my idea to combine those two skills. Though it looked like it worked.

Barely, Batrire said. You were getting it just as well as you were giving it. Those kicks it hit you with did some major damage.

Rubbing his chest, Max remembered how it had felt and knew she was right.

Still, it worked, and we have Tanila to thank for that. Besides

What did you get?

Max froze, hearing Tanila interrupt him and seeing the look on her face.

What did you get from that fight?

Realizing he hadnt looked yet, Max checked the notifications.

[ 3 Intelligence Consumed ]

[ 4 Wisdom Consumed ]

[ Consume has successfully Consumed a skill ]

[ Skill conflicts with Consume ]

[ Skills are trying to merge ]

[ Merge Unsuccesful ]

[ Skill failed to Merge. Attempting to Consume Rank of Skill ]

[ Skill Rank is lower than Current Rank ]

[ Power Stored for Future Use ]

Max read the lines of notification a few more times.

What in the hell was that?

Seth

Fingers snapped, and Max found himself looking at Tanila and the others.

Sorry I uh this is so weird.

Max explained what he read and watched as Batrire and Tanila tried to understand. Fowl simply gave up and pulled something out to eat.

What does power stored for future use mean?

Max shrugged and took his cap off, rubbing his bald head. Ive never seen that before. How can it store power?

Tanila chuckled as she motioned to the chest in the room. I think we need to forget about solving this for a while, like Fowl said. There are hundreds of questions to ask, and we have no one to ask. I can see, perhaps, if I can find some information at one of the elven houses in town, but

Max saw the expression on Batrires face and knew she didnt like that idea. We both know that isnt wise Tanila. Doing that will lead to questions theyll want to ask, which you dont want to answer.

Their mage nodded and then turned, walking toward the chest.

Should I ask?

Batrire looked at Max and shook her head. Not right now. Later, we can talk, but she is right. Lets get out of here and get things settled.

The chest was black and etched with golden runes. The four of them stared at it, and each could tell something was off.

Its different than usual, Max muttered.

Fowl started to laugh, shaking his head as he pointed at Max. This guy he should have the bard or comedian skill. I mean, its like he forgets everything is different with him.

The three of them grinned and nodded, realizing Fowl was absolutely correct. Nothing was ever normal.

Your turn, Tanila. Bring us some luck.

Their mage smiled and said a prayer before opening up the box.

Holy elf tits, she muttered.

The other three leaned over to see what shocked her, and each was just as surprised.

Four rings Im assuming that doesnt happen a lot.

Gods no, Fowl replied, thumping Max on the shoulder. Like I said, you are never disappointed with the weird stuff.

What about the weapon? Tanila asked.

Each of them saw the weapon shifting between four images. The desire for what it could be was there, but so was the knowledge that sometimes it was better to pass it off to someone who needed it more.

Im out, Max said first. I have an assortment already, and I dont need it.

Ditto.

Fowl and Tanila looked at each other, since Max and Batrire had bowed out.

Care to roll for it, long ears?

She smiled and nodded as they reached for it in the chest, and the timer started.

When it ran out, a ten-sided die appeared, each of their faces on both sides five times, and started spinning.

Max could see the looks on both their faces, hoping and wishing for it to be theirs.

Im sorry, Tanila, Fowl said, frowning slightly when his face popped up.

Dont be. It just means you need it more.

Grinning, Fowl put his hand back in and pulled out a new one-handed mace. The shaft was about six inches longer than his current weapon, and the head and shaft were both black.

That looks ominous, Max said, pointing at the black head. Maybe you will get a mace that helps heal you.

Everyone laughed, all knowing the odds of that were basically impossible.

Each of them took their ring, noticing that all four of them were the same black color. The only difference was the thickness of Fowls and Maxs.

One more dungeon down and one level to go, Batrire stated. Im assuming we are done for the day?

Max looked at the others, who nodded.

Go try and get some more skills, Tanila said. We know you want to.

Max hired a ride to the adventurers guild to the east of them. It was faster than walking, and he knew it was well worth the price with how he felt.

It allowed him to watch the city go by and try his best to ignore the thoughts about what he had dreamed or experienced after killing that boss.

A few hours later, he emerged, frustrated, after defeating four bosses without a single skill being consumed. The lizardman, wolf, monkey, and spider had all resulted in nothing.

Putting the four tokens with the others from the night before, Max hired another cart to take him back to The Heavenly Pineapple.

He pulled out his notebook and scratched out four more bosses and the skills next to each of them.

Maybe I could find a library like Tanila mentioned or some specific books on these skills

Realizing he had time until he got to the inn, Max began making a few more lists. There were still a lot of possible skills out there he hoped to acquire.

Seth, this is Nicholas. I told him about the interest you had in helping new adventurers.

Max shook hands with the bald man, who looked like he might enjoy too many meals.

Love your haircut, the older man said. You must tell me the name of your barber.

Max chuckled and rubbed the top of his head. I lost a bet and fell in love with it. What can I say?

Nicholas rubbed his own bald head and found a rare hair, plucking it before holding it out. I wish I could say I shaved mine, but the gods decided I looked better without it by the time I turned twenty.

Max motioned to a booth, and the rounded man slid in.

So you want to give away gear, I hear?

Nodding, Max settled in the booth and pulled out a small bag he had prepared from storage. Sliding it across the table, he smiled.

I wished someone might have helped me when I started, so I figured, why not try.

The man pulled the bag toward him and undid the string at the top, opening it a little bit and glancing inside the bag then back at Max a few times.

Are you serious? This much?

None of it would be useful for me. I got that from lower-level bosses. For a new adventurer, it could mean the difference between life and death.

Nicholas tsked his tongue against his teeth a few times as he shifted the bag around, gazing at the contents inside.

You surprised me tonight when Alexander told me he had a patron who wanted to give some gear to new adventurers. I hadnt expected it to amount to anything other than a few dungeon drops.

The man pulled out a pouch and started to withdraw some coins.

Stop, please, Max said, holding his palm out toward Nicholas. I dont want to be paid, nor do I want people to know I did this. Just someone doing their part to help the next group of adventurers.

Cocking his head to the side, Nicolas began to move his head around until he finally nodded. I wont argue. There are a bunch of adventurers who will enjoy these gifts.

Max nodded, extended his hand, and then exited the booth after they shook.

Ill tell Alexander if I get any more. I might also have some slightly higher ones as I do some more dungeon clearing.

Nicholas coughed, his bald head turning red for a moment. Youre serious, arent you?

Grinning, Max shrugged. Im not the kind of person to lie about something like this.

Waving, he strode off to join the rest of his team, who were watching him from across the room.

Behind him, the man sat in the booth, stunned at the generosity he hadnt seen from anyone in a while.

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