”How do you know so much already? ” Mila felt the situation odd. Aalam had always been more knowledgeable than her about how the universe worked, but information gathering from unknown sources was not his strength, and, while she could see his knowledge allowing him to gain whatever benefits he was getting from understanding Laws, causing his soul to flash in odd colors, it didn make sense he would know more about her abilities than she did unless someone told him.
”Im a hero. ” Aalam smiled at her in a way she recognized meant he was not happy and wouldn give any more information than he absolutely had to. ”And time with the puppet passed at a greatly accelerated rate. ”
Translation, hed received a boon with a lot of information, likely from the Yin Yang Sage, and hed had a lot of time to go over it.
Mila accepted his invitation to join his team and then they just waited for a while, nothing happening in the room. The blue glow around Aalam soon faded, replaced by a red glow, then a brown glow, then an iron-color glow. A bit later his skin glowed purple, then white, and then black.
More and more people were noticing, but he wouldn explain, and Mila was able to manipulate them into giving him space. Finally, after a half hour of him not glowing at all, about three hours since theyd all appeared in the room, he glowed silver.
Only then did Mila get another System notification.
You have the second highest Luck of everyone in the Nightmare difficulty challenge, Nightmare Royale.
You are already part of a team and cannot choose another.
You may choose one skill and one artifact from the following lists as a pre-challenge reward.
The skill can be learned immediately or granted as a skill orb and secretly placed in your pocket.
The artifact will appear on your person, secretly in one of your pockets if small enough.
You have two minutes to choose.
Mila didn even bother looking at the lists of skills and artifacts. She could already tell they were quite long, and it wasn like shed understand what any of the them were. She was more concerned with the implications of the System messages than their content anyway.
Aalam had a higher Luck than her. That much was obvious. And hed seen the System messages about the challenge three hours before and done nothing, making it likely he had a much longer time limit than two minutes. In fact, his delay likely led to her having less time, and probably everyone after her as well, which was frankly good planning.
”Get the rare skill orb for Rapid Thoughts for me, and Ill help guide you to a Legendary skill of your choice. For the artifact, the Shield of Twelve Elements will help us survive this challenge. You won be able to use it, but, seeing as I would use it to protect your life, I don see a need to offer you anything else. ”
Mila gave him a quick look. He was holding in his hand a small piece of parchment with a rough symbol etched into it, which Omniglot Reader helped her understand meant gust, and, as she looked at him, he began to glow yellow, the twelfth color shed seen from him.
The parchment was almost certainly the artifact hed chosen, and something about it was making her danger sense, trained over years of spy work, scream.
Without any more fuss, Mila selected the skill and artifact hed asked for and a light weight appeared in the right pocket of the unfashionable gray sweatpants she was wearing, likely the skill orb, while an odd hoop appeared in her hands. It was made of twelve different materials, all threaded together, most different colored crystals, but there was what looked to be a vine and a metallic wire there as well.
More importantly, as she held it, another System notification popped up in front of her eyes.
Shield of Twelve Elements (G-Rare)
A theoretical experiment made by craftsman Az Hendriar in his youth from materials strong enough to make three to four E rank Epic artifacts. Due to its design, it has a self-contained mana cycle and a powerful effect—able to create a 2.5 meter diameter sphere of adjustable impermeability, unbreakable by anyone below E rank—but it requires a single source of mana influenced by at least a Law Egg from one of each of the major elements to activate.
Effects: Sphere of protection (Up to two hours of cumulative uptime every day)
Requirements: At least one Law Egg from each of the 12 elements—Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Lightning, Metal, Light, Dark, Life, Death, Space, and Time
As she handed the hoop to Aalam, Mila realized two things. One, with just one assistant, Aalam was in no danger during this challenge, so it was a very good thing she was said assistant. Two, having twelve of whatever Law Eggs were, from all 12 elements, was very rare, yet Aalam had achieved the feat in just over three hours.
Seeing the hoop, people came over, but Aalam activated it, causing it to expand out and transform, and the two of them were then surrounded by a sphere of energy, extending through both the air and the floor. It wasn visible, at least from the inside, and it didn block air flow, yet it blocked sound and Mila was pretty sure those outside couldn see in, given the movements of everyone else in the room.
”Could you give me the skill orb? ”
Aalam held out his hand and Mila reached into her pocket and took out the small 3 cm diameter skill sphere, which looked like a translucent pink-purple crystal, causing another System notification to appear in front of her eyes.
Rapid Thoughts (G-Rare) Psychic, Passive, Enhancement
Quickness of thought is quickness of action.
Effects: Learn the skill Rapid Thoughts (G-Rare)
Requirements: Free skill slot, able to learn passive psychic enhancement skills
She handed it to Aalam and it disappeared, fading away as if to nothingness as he learned the skill.
”What type of Legendary skill do you want? ” Aalam didn actually look at her, instead looking up at the flaming sigil above them, but Mila didn read too much into it. It could be he was angry with her, which was likely, but it could also be he was studying the magical effect, which was even more so. Milas guess was a mix of both.
”What types of choices do I have? I know next to nothing about skills, Aalam. ”
Aalam looked at her for a second, as if trying to decide if she were real or not, and then looked back at the sigil.
”Youve read litrpg stories and played video games before, while we both know you
e not stupid. Youve already picked up on a few of the rules, so Ill just give you the limitations. Humans can only have one class, and that class will only allow a certain number of skills, with a max of twelve for the very best available at F rank. The three skills you have before advancing will also greatly affect your class choices, and at G rank the max possible grade for skills is Legendary.
”What do you want to be, Mila? Once you decide, its just a matter of hard work. ”
Mila thought about it for a bit as the others in the challenge started getting their artifacts, everyone with the same Luck value seemingly getting the System messages at the same time. She knew what she was good at, social manipulation, information gathering, killing quietly. It was likely all these skills would be useful in the new world they found themselves in.
If they were going to be reborn as monsters, Mila would excel most as one based around stealth, maybe seduction.
That was if she was on her own, though, and she didn like the idea of leaving Aalam alone. Sure, he seemed like he had everything in hand, but, had she not been there, he would have been crowded and accosted, not given the time and quiet to gain all those Law Eggs, and, knowing him as well as she did, he wouldn have gotten a trustworthy assistant from the crowd.
”How about a skill to enhance the artifacts I use? ”
Aalam looked at her again, appeared to think for a second, and then nodded. ”Alright. ”
Shed seen that look before. She wasn sure how much information Aalam had, but hed just analyzed her choice and approved of her decision, in a game build sense at least.
One of the first things shed done to secure his affections at the start of their relationship was to drag him into playing a tabletop RPG campaign she game mastered, and he just couldn help himself but to try and optimize. It had taken her a month to get him into the habit of only telling her the optimizations of others characters rather than the players themselves, and she still knew the looks hed make upon approval or disapproval of a build.
More importantly, however, she knew the types of power sets Aalam gravitated towards. No matter what game they played, if there was a way for him to reach max power as a crafter, he would, and that wouldn change if the world started operating like a litrpg.
The Nightmare Royale is now starting.
You have one hour to kill each other until only one team is left.
If more than one team is living after the hour, everyone dies.
The System message appeared in front of her eyes and, from what she could see from the panic happening outside their protection, in front of the eyes of everyone else as well.
It didn last long, however.
Aalam held out the parchment artifact hed received and gusts of wind emanated out from him, traveling all throughout the room outside their sphere of protection. Then something in the wind changed and everyone outside the sphere fell apart, literally. Blades of wind cut their fellow humans into ribbons of bone and flesh, while Aalam looked on dispassionately, smiling slightly with a look of pride on his face.