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Home ->The New World ->7 The Sentinel of Monolith

 The first thing I do is shut off agony before raising my hands and shouting, "I didn't mean to fight. I surrender. Please don't hurt me."

The Sentinel of Monolith slams his spear into the ground, quaking the entire cave. It says,

"I accept your surrender. I will not do so again."

The violet prisms of energy wane then disapear from around it. It faces forward from the gate, ignoring my existence entirely. I pace up and say,

"So what are you exactly?"

"I am a sentinel of the monolith."

I frowned before it continued,

"I guard the entrance and exit of the designated combat zone. The schema deems certain areas as highly dangerous, giving extra rewards for extra danger. Any who enter are 'gambling' as your species calls it. The closest human word to representing the schema's combat zones are 'dungeons.'"

I frowned before saying, "Then can I leave?"

"No. The only way to leave this dungeon is either capturing the dungeon core or killing the guardian of the realm's existence. The guardian here is and has been Baldag-Ruhl, of Many."

"How strong are you compared with him?"

"Stronger than it or you will ever be." I heard a hint of disdain in his voice

I asked, "Can you let me out if I never went through the tutorial?"

"That cannot happen. The schema automatically spawns all members of the dominant, sentient species of newly acquiesced planets to tutorial zones. You cannot spawn in a dungeon."

"What if I did though?"

"If you did, you didn't, since it cannot be."

I frowned as I said, "But I'm here without ever entering the tutorial."

"No you are not. You are here, meaning you passed the tutorial."

"Alright then asshole, can you see my menu screens?"

"I am not the defecatory duct for releasing solid waste matter. And yes."

"Good enough."

I open my perk menu, showing the grayed out screen with the beginner perk unselected. The sentinel waited five minutes before answering,

"There is no known way of spawning outside of the schema's tutorial zone."

"Obviously it happened though. Can you let me out now?"

"No. Despite your spawning incorrectly, I cannot let you leave."

"Then can you tell me what the schema is and wants?"

"All fundamental knowledge of the schema is given out during the tutorial. I will not repeat it for you."

"So in other words, you can't do shit but stand guard here?"

"I am capable of many other functions...but yes, all I do is guard this gate."

I sighed harder than any other thing has ever sighed. I said, "Then can you tell me what you think of the schema?"

"Hmm. I will tell you of what little I know. What you understand as the universe is a very...unstable thing. Within the infinity of it, there are cracks formed from its expansion. These cracks will rupture, letting things out. Horrors, things that should not be and are not, as long as they stay there instead of here."

The guard glanced up as it said, "The schema stabilizes these cracks. It prevents the fissures and allows assimilated worlds to fight against these things. Your world is lucky we found you before you were consumed."

"What do you mean consumed?"

"I will only say this. Those things have no form when they are there. When here, they eat to take their form. Even I struggle against them. Your world is but an easy feast."

"Then the schema's here to help."

"Only if you survive the culling."

I frowned as I said, "What do you mean, culling?"

"I will answer no more questions."

"Can you at least help me out of this damn hole then?"

"Gladly."

The sentinel picked me up in a colossal palm. He slung me through the air as I flew with the grace of a bird, both its wings broken. I landed on my legs, snapping the bones in both. Even with 87% pain reduction, breaking both legs still hurts.

Within five minutes of waiting, my legs are back to normal. After the ordeal, I went about slaying bats while saying obscenities about the sentinel's mother. I know, I'm an excellent multi-tasker.

After an hour of travel, I reach another pool with another bear. The level 76 beast slumbers just like the last. I pump myself up with a couple slaps before charging straight into the bear. I smash my fist into the bear's nose, breaking it nicely. With my new gauntlets and my extra constitution, the bear no longer feels hard as iron. He's more like wood.

The difference may not sound substantial, but punching a rock versus a tree makes a huge difference. Stone bites back like a cobra against your fist. Wood's more like punching a forehead. Hard, but it gives quite a bit.

The bear tries another ground slam to blow me back. This time I jump up, dodging the shockwave before slamming my fist into its sides. This time, the bear never surprises me. I'm ready for its tricks.

The grueling battle lasts an hour, but I come out with only scrapes and bruises this time. The extra constitution doesn't just make me harder, it makes me heavier too. The bear headbutted me in my chest, yet I wasn't sent flying. Sliding, sure, but I wasn't sent tumbling.

I get a massive 52000 exp, giving me another level. When I wanted to see how much exp I had left for my next level, a little bar of yellow appeared under my hp bar. It was over 3/4's full. A few more bat's and I'm level 45.

I turn off agony, call good ol Baldag-Ruhl, and go to sleep after he leaves. Hiding in the leftover bear skin, I rest pretty easy with agony on.

**********************************************

I wake the next day, clear and in control. After a few swallows of water, I trek out into the day. After an hour of travel, I'm busy caving in a bat's skull with a stomp before I gain another level. Whoop whoop.

I put another point into constitution before the perk screen appears,

[Willful(Willpower of at least 10) - Your willpower is good. Doubles mana regeneration.]

[Disciplined(Willpower of at least 20) - Your willpower is excellent. Willpower adds an extra 2% mana regen for every 1% missing max mana. Your mana can form a shield around you, blocking 2 damage for every 1 point in mana.

[Hulking(Constitution of at least 20) - Your constitution is excellent. Doubles mass and density gain from each point in constitution. Doubles the hardness of bones.]

[Fledgling(Reach level 5) - You've just started learning. +10% to experience.]

[Beginner(Reach level 10) - Now you know a little. You can step out of the tutorial zone now.]

The perks this time didn't give me an easy choice like the last couple options. Of course I only had two options, but I was still torn. The mana shield would be awesome, effectively giving me double my mana in hit points. Constitution gave me an excellent way of increasing my damage potential for Dreadnought Brute. Both were tempting choices.

In the end, I went for Hulking since I would still be investing points into it past this. When I finalized the selection, the change was immediate and dramatic.

I had slowly built up my constitution over several days, making the increase in weight unnoticeable. I literally doubled in weight that instant. My bones turned to steel. When I slammed my hand into the stone floor beneath me, my gauntleted hands made a thin sheen of powder. I could crush stone with my hits.

With 24.2 constitution, I had 52% damage resistance. I was over twice as tough now, my flesh becoming like wood and my bones like metal. I was over ten times tougher than when I started, not including hp regen or agony. The only problem was that my body was starting to become difficult to work with. When I checked out my status screen, I had the debuff,

Overencumbered - You are carrying more than is reasonable for your current strength. Stamina consumption doubled.

The determinator paths almost eliminated this weakness with all my endurance. A bunch more points into constitution would start causing problems though. I kept it in mind when planning out the rest of my build. I needed to be able to kill the boss here, and constitution was my key to open up that door.

Defeating Baldag Ruhl was a pipe dream at the moment though, so I picked up my pace before reaching the next pool. At the center of the glowing yellow pool, a giant eel curled in a loop. Vibrant crescents of lightning radiated from its skin. The water almost looked like gold with the way it shined.

The eel's hook of a bottom jaw had several large, curved teeth. It was like a crocodile's mouth, with finger teeth at the end. If it bit something, it wouldn't let go. The cheeks hung off the sides in wrinkled humps, just like a bulldog's. The schema recognized the eel once I got closer,

Bloody Bolt Eel(lvl 80) - An evolved version of the bolt eel, the Bloody Bolt Eel lashes out at adventurers trying to come near its pool. With tremendous biting strength and powerful, long range electricity for attacks, this beast should not be underestimated.

As I got closer, the eel uncoiled and turned towards me. I ran behind a pillar of stone as streaks of energy sparked through the air. Behind the pillar, I closed my eyes with little marks left from the blinding lights. The eel thrashed in the water, launching dozens of arcs of electricity towards me.

The sheer volume of bolts amazed me, creating a thunderstorm's worth of them in seconds. The entire cavern lit up at the fireworks display. If I stood out from this rock, I'd be dead in an instant.

But, you see, I am behind this rock. The eel slowly died to agony, being within its range and all. The exp notification appeared,

Bloody Bolt Eel exp: 18,000*2.5*1.5 = 67500 exp. 1 level gained!

The leveling had really slowed down since I got past level 40, but I suppose each point mattered more now than before. I placed a point into constitution, bumping up my heft and durability further. After calling Baldag ruhl, he explained that the eels were a completely fine substitute. If anything, he seemed very pleased.

Trekking onwards, I found other pools of vibrant yellow. These yellow pools proved boring compared with the bears. I would run up and hide behind a boulder or stalactite until the eel died from agony. It only took about thirty minutes a pop. Getting to each pool was more difficult than the fights themselves.

I reached level 49 in a flash before I reached another set of pools. The first pool glowed a bright steel gray. In the pool's sheen was a giant cluster of rocks that moved in a tornado kind of formation. Passing close, the schema identified the creature,

BloodHollow Golem(lvl 90) - These are golems given life by ambient energy by their nearby pools. This mana produces a golem as a guard, mimicking acts of sentience. Many philosophers have debated whether or not the mana pools are actually sentient. What they all agree on, however, is that the golems protecting the pools are extremely dangerous.

To be honest, I didn't know if agony would affect the bunch of floating rocks. That and its high level scared me off. Instead I hunted bats between each cavern while training my skills. I found that the harder I tried, the more skills I gained. Willpower worked hand in hand with this, allowing relatively rapid gains.

At least in skills. five hours later and I still hadn't gained a damn level. I had killed over a hundred bats before I finally got the notification for level fifty. Grinding this shit out was unbelievably tedious. If not for my enhanced willpower, I doubt I could stomach it.

I put yet another point into constitution, and the next set of perks appeared once more.

[Willful(Willpower of at least 10) - Your willpower is good. Doubles mana regeneration.]

[Disciplined(Willpower of at least 20) - Your willpower is excellent. Willpower adds an extra 2% mana regen for every 1% missing max mana. Your mana can form a shield around you, blocking 2 damage for every 1 point in mana.

[Titanic(Constitution of 25 or higher) - Your constitution is incredible. Half of damage resistance is applied to elemental, plasma, and radiation attacks. 1/10th of your constitution is added to strength.]

[Fledgling(Reach level 5) - You've just started learning. +10% to experience.]

[Beginner(Reach level 10) - Now you know a little. You can step out of the tutorial zone now.]

I knew it. Titanic was awesome, amazing even. The perk helped tremendously with my strength problem while making my defense more well rounded. It reminded me of the upper tiers of the endurance perks.

They both had the theme of rounding out their attribute's innate weaknesses. For example, if you invested heavily into endurance, but lacked willpower, you couldn't use it effectively. The extra willpower from the endurance perks helped with that. Investing heavily into constitution made strength an issue, but once again, the perk trees helped rectify the problem.

I'm sure the strength perk tree would help with dexterity, since greater strength requires greater control to use. The schema wanted to make extreme builds viable. In my case, it helped patch some of my numerous innate problems.

I finalized the Titanic perk. The very matter that made me reorganized into strut, powerful chains, locking me in place. The air around me stopped being as cool. My skin insulated better. A fire would no longer burn my skin in seconds, it would take minutes. The ground didn't press against my feet. My feet pressed into the ground.

The cells of my muscles thickened, adding strips of mass along my frame. My weight evened out a bit as my gaunt frame filled out some. When I clenched my fist, a new power returned in kind. As if exploding with energy, I leapt, rolled, sprinted, and punched with abandon. Endurance was hard to notice. Constitution had been a slow process. Strength, well, every single point was massive by comparison. You could even say the difference was...titanic.

Poorly placed puns aside, I finished jumping off the walls and raced off to test my newfound strength against the golem. Of course, I readied myself for a tough fight. I own a deep confidence and an even deeper caution. I had come close to dying many times, like the first bat I fought or the first bear. Both fucked me up.

Still, gaining levels had slowed to abysmal crawl. Killing over a hundred bats over eight hours may sound fun, oh wait, that's right. It doesn't. I had to push my limits for any real results. Speaking of results, I checked out tree points and found 57 points unallocated. With a few quick presses, I had 395/500 points in determinator. A little quick grinding would be necessary.

With a quick brainstorm, I gained and leveled up a few skills, like swimming, climbing, and jumping. I got five skill levels worth of them before putting the points in determinator. A quick notification found me,

There is no stopping the Determinator. They do not understand facts, besides their own. They are resolute in their faith. They worship their own wills. +10% to endurance. +10% to willpower.

With the extra damage added onto agony, I move towards the earthen golem with a slow sneak. Once I reached pretty close, I reached a thick shield of air. Closer to water, this thickness permeated near the pool. When I tapped it, the golem flew towards me.

Angry as a hornet, the golem's boulder body turned into a set of arms and legs as it landed. Placing a palm against the thick air, I pushed through when a jumbled voice gurgled,

"Leave me. I am. You are. Not kill...me."



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