Chapter 25: Twilight

It took roughly an hour after I crossed the bridge before I was able to finally level up my Mass Appraisal to twenty, having been casting it on any clusters of weeds or herbs that I found along the way. Once I did so, I was awarded with the long-awaited system message.

Detected possibility for skill fusion!

Compatible skills – Mass Appraisal and Perception have both reached the required level for evolution. Would you like to merge these skills?

I could feel the wide grin spreading across my face, and I quickly nodded my head. This was what I had been waiting for, after all.

New Skill acquired!

Detective Analysis(Utility – 10☆): Fused from Mass Appraisal and Perception. Passively increases senses and ability to detect hidden targets. Activate to consume experience and highlight concealed entities. Further consume experience to identify objects within the field of view.

Mana Burden: 0/sec. Level: 1(0%)

I looked at the skill description with a hint of confusion. From a toggle and an active skill, it had become a passive with two active modes? I decided to test it out first, looking around and noticing that the darkness around me felt like it had cleared considerably. Although it was still the middle of the night, I could see far more clearly than before.

When I focused into the distance and activated the first tier of the skill’s active modes, my vision seemed to be covered by a layer of blue light. Yellow items and creatures were highlighted, those either hiding behind large rocks or buried just beneath the surface of the ground.

My gaze trembled at the realization. Even without the second form, this would be an invaluable skill to any scout in a dungeon, being able to find any hidden traps or passages. I opened my friends list, seeing that Diane was currently offline, and hesitated. 

There was no telling how far ahead she had gotten during the week that I had been stuck in Arcanhide. Knowing her pace, she could have very easily made it to Earthenbury, or she might even have left the kingdom entirely to explore the neighboring lands. I wouldn’t be surprised even if someone had told me she was already level fifty.

I shook my head, deciding not to bother her chosen, who was likely still asleep at this hour. Instead, I would send her a message when I saw her log in. My goal now was to focus entirely on training my darkness-related skills. If I continued to move at a casual pace, I still had a full day’s journey before I reached Decashear.

Thus, I looked around, noting the absence of any players or chosen that had set up camps. If my guess was correct, few chose to travel anywhere close to that forest at night when they heard about the monsters inhabiting it, but this suited me fine. I walked off to the side, activating Shadow Slash with one hand while the other alternated between using the three skills that I had enchanted onto my glove.

Like this, the first skill that evolved after another hour of training was naturally Shadow Slash, which grew in a rather surprising direction. I had expected it to simply become a more powerful version, maybe gain vampiric effects. Instead, the skill became Shadow Blade. With this skill, I was able to create a blade of darkness, with damage matching my Intelligence, and further empowered in dark areas.

Although it retained its ability to inflict Mana Burden on a target, the sword of darkness naturally did not have any enchantment slots. Because of that, I would no doubt still favor a physical blade. I did, however, enchant my Shadow Blade onto the Black Steel Scimitar, which provided it with increased damage based on light levels.

My brows furrowed when I saw that the mana burden wasn’t transferred, but the fact that the enchantment was passive was still nice. Shaking my head, I looked at the other acquisition that I had obtained during this hour of training my sword. It was another skill that I had been hoping for for a long time, Sword Proficiency.

With my sword taken care of, I returned my focus to firing off skills with my glove, making sure not to overburden it enough that it would damage the item. My only real complaint was that there were no decent monsters nearby to try use these skills on. There should be goblins and trolls closer to Decashear… or I can wait for the daytime monsters to appear.

Looking at the sky, it was actually almost dawn now. I felt the complaint of my stomach, and pulled another bread out of my inventory to eat. Afterwards, I took advantage of the remaining night time to finish training the three skills.

As I had learned from experience by now, the first evolution of a skill is always not too difficult. With constant usage, it didn’t take long for a skill to reach level twenty. As for the second evolution… I had yet to achieve that with any skill yet.

So… first of all, Shadow Armor evolved into Shadow Plate, which simply increased the defense further. Shadow Spike evolved into Shadow Spear, which didn’t gain any new effects other than increased damage. As for Lesser Animate Shadow, it became Animate Shadow.

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According to the description of the skill, Animate Shadow’s combat power went from ‘weak’ to ‘decent’, and the commands it could follow were upgraded from ‘simple’ to ‘basic’. I wasn’t entirely sure what the difference would be there, but… it was time to put these new skills on my equipment.

First, I began enchanting Shadow Plate onto my breastplate, boots, and leggings. Like when I worked on my temporary gloves, I kept my inventory open to equip the gloves enchanted with Heal as soon as each enchantment was completed. Was it bad that I was growing accustomed to this level of pain that felt as if my arms were being torn off? I felt like that was bad!

Like with my sword, the armor enchantment provided me with a basic defense enhancement when in a dark environment. Next, I enchanted my sword with Shadow Spear. To my surprise, the enchantment that I received was actually another slashing attack, known as Binding Shadow Slash.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this attack from its description, which was ‘launches a blade of darkness along the path of the sword’s swing, binding the struck target’. Therefore, I decided to test it. Searching around, I found a wolf in the distance that was just starting to emerge.

I activated my Stealth and quietly moved closer. Because I wasn’t testing the damage output of the enchantment, I didn’t activate my Assassinate skill, but instead just slashed out with the sword once I was a few meters away. A thin, black wave traveled out from my blade, similar to the Exploding Flame Slash I had on my last sword.

Because I had slashed vertically, the black wave hit the ground first, and adhered to it as if it had been anchored in place. When the body of the wave hit the wolf, it cut a considerable gash into its skin, directly severing its spine, but thankfully didn’t cleave it in half. Instead, the top of the wave hit the ground on the other side of the wolf, and the entire wave seemed to tighten like a rope, shoving the now-dead body to the ground with enough force to finish bisecting the creature.

So… after dealing the initial damage, the slash becomes a binding force to ensnare targets. I knew that this would be a difficult enchantment to master. If I used it with a horizontal strike and the slash hit the opponent’s waist, the secondary effect would be wasted. However, if it hit their legs, captured one of their arms, or managed to stick them to the ground, it could be an incredibly powerful tool in battle.

Nodding my head, I walked over to the wolf and looted it, receiving a low quality hide for my trouble. It was only worth two copper, so I didn’t even bother keeping it. I only had a little more than a dozen free inventory spaces at this point, so there was no point in keeping something with no value. Even the weeds I had gathered around Brita I only kept in case I needed to start a small fire.

Now… the final skill, Animate Shadow. This one, I enchanted on the Forest Charm, as charms were incredibly rare, and I doubted that I would be trading it out unless I got another one before the event ended.

For this enchantment, I’m… not entirely sure what happened. Right as I was completing the enchantment, the first glow of twilight broke over the horizon, and seemed to resonate with the charm that I was working on. The bones in my right arm shattered, skin and muscle tore as shadowy tendrils burst from my arm, and I screamed in a pain worse than anything that I had experienced thus far.

It took me almost a full minute before I had become capable of equipping my gloves to heal myself, and another minute before that healing was effective. My eyes were squinted shut, trying to fight back the memory of the pain. I couldn’t tell if the enchantment had succeeded or not until I managed to open my reddened eyes enough to look at the window.

It… had definitely succeeded. Moreover, it seemed to be a major success. The enchantment read similarly to the Animate Shadow skill, but had a note at the end that the Shadow Blade skill was constantly in effect for the shadow.

Eventually, I pulled myself to my feet, putting all of my gear back on following my regular enchantment procedures, and decided to test the new ability. When I activated the charm, a figure rose up from my shadow, appearing like an exact copy of myself painted black from head to toe. Unlike the lesser version, this one reached my full height, and had glowing white eyes. In one hand, it held a shadow copy of my scimitar, and in the other, it held a straight blade of solid darkness.

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The connection that I felt with this shadow was considerably stronger than the one that I felt with the lesser version. Spotting another wolf in the distance, I ordered the shadow to go attack it. Immediately, the shadow ran off to obey, and I stopped it before it moved too far. It hadn’t activated any of its skills, causing me to hesitate.

I focused on the connection, trying something that had utterly failed when dealing with the lesser shadow. When you receive an attack or defend order, activate all enhancement skills. If the target has not already been engaged, activate Stealth and Assassinate. Unlike the lesser shadow, I felt that these commands actually made it through to the copy in front of me.

Once more, I issued the attack command, and felt how numerous enhancement effects surged within its body, before it immediately entered stealth. With my new Detective Analysis, I could faintly see it making its way to the wolf. The wolf glanced sharply in its direction when it was noticed, but was too slow to jump out of the way from the first attack, which directly severed its neck.

Seeing this, I was able to measure the shadow’s physical power to be roughly half of my own. Still, with the ability to save more complex commands like this, its utility vastly exceeded that of the original. 

I looked at the shadow standing over the body of the wolf, and another thought occurred to me. I ordered the shadow to loot the corpse, and it bent down, placing a hand on its body. Right away, I received a notification that I had received low quality wolf meat. I was amazed that the shadow even had the ability to loot the corpses, something that I hadn’t considered trying with the lesser variant.

If only I received skill experience from the skills that the shadow used, I could have it train for me. I thought to myself in amusement, briefly confirming that that was in fact not the case. Sadly, I still needed to train myself. Though, I could at least pre-program some commands into the shadow to give it some basic techniques that I wouldn’t need to constantly order.

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