The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 134

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We got a short reprieve in Kazik’s house while we waited for him to secure passage out of the city. Everyone needed it to bandage their wounds and recover some energy and mana, and Kantrilla needed it most. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to give her a proper night’s rest, but I did feed her some porridge. She didn’t have any significant injuries, but she was barely conscious even as we were leaving. After she ate, I let her nap.

I didn’t really need more problems at the moment, but I had already noticed something problematic in my status window earlier. I had to look at it again to be sure.

Name: Llyr Merrick Class: None
Level: -11 Attribute Points to Distribute: 0
Base Levels Class/ Magic Items Special Total
Strength 404 -10 +0% +0 +10% 433 (-3)
Dexterity 259 +0 +0% +0 +0 259
Toughness 215 +0 +0% +0 +0 215
Constitution 214 +0 +0% +0 +0 214
Intelligence 106 +0 +0% +0 +0 106
Wisdom 143 +0 +0% +0 +0 143
Willpower 145 +0 +0% +0 +0 145
Focus 191 +0 +0% +0 +0 191
Luck 163 +0 +0% +0 +0 163 (+64)
Skills:
Passive:
All In (Strength)
Club Mastery (4)
Dodging Mastery (5)
Melee Weapon Mastery (6)
Halberd Mastery (2)
Awareness (3)
Bow Mastery (5)
Sling Mastery (2)
Ranged Weapon Mastery (5)
Warhammer Mastery (2)
Armor Mastery (3)
Mace Mastery (5)
Striking Mastery (2)
Grappling Mastery (3)
Longsword Mastery (3)
Parrying Mastery (3)
Shield Mastery (3)
Glaive Mastery (3)
Spear Mastery (5)
Rapier Mastery (3)
Poison Resistance (0*)
Blessing of Strength
Active:
Bash (6)
Analyze Strength (4)
Martial Trance (5)
Whirlwind Attack (4)
Piercing Spear (4)
Rapid Shot (1)
Light (1)
Disarm (3)
Return Weapon (3)
Rage (Basic)

There were a few strange things. First, I was pretty sure level ups were supposed to make numbers go… well, up. Maybe they did, but my level didn’t go up but down. That… wasn’t how experience was supposed to function. The decrease automatically applied to my Strength as well. On the other hand… it had been a few days of me doing nothing and my Strength had improved by 7. With that said, I was still slightly in the negative.

Was it possible to keep having Strength increase at that rate without me doing anything? It didn’t seem likely. Kantrilla had a Blessing her entire life and had less than 500 Luck. If it had grown even a single point per day she would have… thousands of points of Luck. I couldn’t expect Strength to grow quickly for long- not without actual work, anyway. On the other hand, unlike Luck, Strength was easily trainable.

Then there was the other thing. My Luck… had broken 100. By a huge margin. “Did anybody else’s Luck increase?”

“Hmm…” Alhorn said, presumably looking at his attribute window. “Indeed it did. I also leveled up.”

“How much?” I asked.

“About forty points.”

“Same here,” Halette and Kasner confirmed.

Socks poked Halette, and Halette looked her over. “Oh wow… Socks’ Luck increased by… 108?”

“Mine went up by 64…” I stroked my chin. “I think it’s reasonable to assume it had something to do with the party we killed. I’m sure you noticed they were unreasonably Lucky. They were probably stealing Kantrilla’s Luck somehow…” I looked over at her sleeping figure.

Kasner raised an eyebrow, “So, what… we killed them and it just stuck onto us? Actually, I do recall a golden light…”

“Socks killed one of them by herself, and was near another when he died,” Halette pointed out. “Kasner and I split one person’s worth, and Socks split with Alhorn. Llyr ended up being the only one around Enok himself.”

“Well…” I scratched my chin, “Kantrilla was there as well. I would think the Luck would prefer her… though there was an extra bottle.”

Kasner frowned, “But why did their Luck suddenly stop working? At the end… well, we had a series of Lucky hits ourselves.”

“Luck…” Kantrilla coughed, “Luck doesn’t like to be cheated.” She lay there on the bed, still pale. “If you try… it always comes back to bite you.”

“Are you alright?” I asked, “It’s probably better not to talk.”

She nodded weakly, and smiled. Somehow, her smile made me feel as if everything was alright… even though it clearly was not.

—–

Kazik returned about an hour later and brought us to a house near the edge of the mesa. Kantrilla could barely walk, and only through leaning on me… but it was better that than me carrying her around. At least Kasner had recovered enough mana to make his leg again. Apparently it wasn’t hard to do as long as it didn’t have to withstand sudden movements. He had developed the cold resistance skill, so at least he wasn’t going to get frostbite.

Kazik led us into the house and through a trapdoor in the floor, which looked like it was normally hidden under a carpet. Any owners of the house were conspicuously absent. Under the trapdoor was a ladder. It was around twenty feet high, and Kantrilla was in no shape to climb. “Can you hold on to me?” I asked. She nodded, and held on around me. Her feet hit the floor two rungs before mine did.

Getting Socks through the trapdoor looked like it was going to be a bit of an ordeal, until she just jumped snout first… down a twenty foot ladder. She landed on the bottom like it was nothing, though the sound of her paws impacting sounded just like someone being hit by a two-handed mace- and I knew that sound well.

We walked down… and down… and down. At some point, the passage leveled out somewhat and we walked almost horizontal, though still slightly down… and then up. After opening another hatch- this one with a much shorter ladder- we found ourselves outside the city, looking at the Mesa from a few miles away. I began to wonder why they even bothered having city gates… but they kept the monsters out, and anyone doing bulk trade would still need to go through and be properly taxed. Besides, not everyone would even consider sneaking in or out. We hadn’t even done anything actually wrong- illegal, perhaps, but not wrong– but we still needed to sneak out.

“Here’s where I leave you.” Kazik waved from the bottom of the ladder, “Remember, don’t go to the closest border crossing. When you get close, travel north and west for two days until you hit another large road. At the golden eagle- the first inn toward Othya along that road- look for Eric. He’ll have replacement guild cards for the two of you missing any… and then you can cross the border without issue. Just make sure you get there. Maybe they won’t even be looking, but we can’t do much if you’re arrested in Escait. I can’t risk bringing your mounts to you, so you’ll have to leg it.”

It seemed we would have more trouble to deal with. At least we were all together again… and alive, if not much better off than that in some cases.

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