73 Chapter 19: The First Epic Battle?
It had been a few days since Joshua had awakened his soul beast and he had spent most of the time getting a feel for the new abilities and how much they had changed his combat style. He was sure he wouldn't understand the full extent of their capabilities until he got into some actual combat instead of training on his own. He had fought his sister in a spar to test out how well his new skills can hold up against someone who had higher stats than him. In the end it was an extremely bad match up for his sister.
Even though she was currently faster and stronger than him, her technique still lagged behind his which allowed him to use her own momentum to damage her in most cases. What made things even worse for her was the fact that her abilities gained from both her job and her soul beast focused more on penetrative force from her attacks. The problem with this was the fact that the aura shroud around Joshua's body didn't simply block fifty percent of incoming attacks, but instead it completely nullified fifty percent of incoming attacks. This basically cut Amy's strength in half from the get go and made her jobs best trait become meaningless since it was nullified before it could even effect Joshua's body.
When Joshua used aura hardening the once heavy blows from his little sister turned into what felt like childish punches and in the end he was able to force her to surrender quickly during the three minute time span of his aura hardening ability. He didn't want to test out aura blast on his little sister so he decided to test that out in his first fight while exploring. Amy was a little down after the fight, but he cheered her up by taking her and their parents out to a nice dinner for the night.
Now Joshua had a better understanding of what Thoren meant by levels not mattering to much in the early stages. Amy could possibly have beaten him if she was on his level technique wise, but unless he came up against someone that either was so far ahead of him level wise that his attacks wouldn't even affect them or fought someone who made all of his abilities useless then he had a good chance in any fight. Though for now he was pretty sure he wasn't in the same league as the people that had started exploring three years ago, but it wouldn't take him very long to catch up.
For Now Joshua was heading to one final stop before he went out to start his adventure and that was a decent sized shop that was not too far away from the hustle and bustle of the main roads of the system built city. When he approached the entrance of the shop he noticed that there were a few people going in and out, but he wasn't surprised a place like this didn't have top of the line business quite yet. Most people bought their equipment and weapons from the system for now since it was cost effective and more than strong enough to handle monsters at their level. A newly opened shop like this wouldn't be so popular at the moment.
Joshua walked through the entrance and looked around at the shelves and walls filled with armor and weapons. There were even every day tools and equipment for camping in a section off to the side. There weren't too many people looking around the shop, but the people that were there were clearly explorers that had spent a lot of time out in the field. It wouldn't take long for a shop like this to get popular sense the system only sold gear and items that were only useful up until around level fifty. After that it tries to let support class job holders make a market of their own. The system wasn't there to carry them forever, it was clear that it wanted them to become self-sufficient as a new race going forward.
When he got to the counter at the back of the shop he ran into a familiar face that he hadn't seen in a while. A girl with a small figure stood at the counter while wearing gear that you would often see on someone that did a lot of metal work. She still had a pair of goggles on her head as she looked over some sort of paper while waiting for anyone to approach her for check out. "Hey Naomi, It's been a while." Joshua said as he walked over.
She looked up from the paper and grinned towards him in response. "Yeah I haven't seen you much lately. Though your sister talks about you a lot. You shouldn't beat her down like that so much Josh, she spent most of the night complaining to me about how she lost her spar with you." Naomi said as Joshua gave her a light hug. "I guess you're here for the work you gave Nathan right? I think he just finished it up last night. He should be in the back going over any final adjustments."
Joshua nodded before heading into the back while Naomi went back to managing the counter. When Joshua went through the back door he walked into a small workshop like area that was cluttered with several unfinished project that the twins had probably been working on. At the back of the room he could see Nathan messing around with a large weapon that was laid out onto a heavy metal table. He walked over and patted the little guy on the back causing him to jump in surprise for a moment before turning around to give Joshua a dirty look. "You know you can say something to let me know you're here, right?" Nathan said a little angrily, but it came off as more of a pout than anything.
"Oh come on now Nathan, I'm just messing with you a bit." Joshua said while chuckling before taking a look at what Nathan had on the table that he was working on. In front of them was a large scale blade that Joshua had brought over for Nathan to enchant before he went out exploring. The blade was even a little bigger than the one he was use to training with and was a gift that Marlow had given him when they parted with each other. The blade itself was about five and a half feet long and at its widest part was around the same length of distance to reach from shoulder to shoulder for some one of Joshua's size. It had a long foot long handle that gave Joshua many different ways to grip it depending on whether he needed more range or to use the weapon as a shield. It was red for the most part with some black markings around the center, while the bladed edges of the weapon had a golden color. It was an impressive weapon and Joshua couldn't wait to test it out.
"Well I got what you asked for done last night. It was tough considering how heavy this weapon already is, but after testing out my enchantments alongside your aura I think I've completed my best work yet." Nathan said with a grin.
"Oh really now?" Joshua asked as he grabbed the handle of the scale blade with both hands before lifting it. The weapon was even a bit heavier than his training sword at around two and a half tons instead of the usual two he was used too, but with his aura he didn't have any problems using it.
"Well the enchantments you asked for were interesting, but I was able to figure out how to get them done." Nathan said before walking over to a shelf and coming back with what looked like a nice holster for his scale blade. The blade was a bit too big and unusually shaped for a sheath so Nathan decided to go with a holster to keep it strapped to Joshua while traveling. Although you could keep your weapons in your inventory it would be foolish to walk around in dangerous territory without having a weapon at the ready at all times. "First off this holsters goes over your shoulder and will keep the weapon in place. There is an enchantment on it that will keep it attached to the holster until you attempt to pull it off, but if it doesn't sense your aura it won't come apart, so no one can just take your weapon from off your back. It also has a weightless enchantment to make the blade feel like a feather as long as it is attached."
"Neat, I'd rather not have to lug this thing around everywhere while traveling. Plus I wouldn't want anything I need to climb up on top of to fall apart because of how heavy it is. Joshua replied as he tested out the holster and how it attached to the sword.
"Next the enchantment on the blade itself is rather interesting. Most people come in here wanting something flashy to add more damage to their weapons, but I think I like your idea even more." Nathan said excitedly as he looked over the blade. "I made it so that whenever you channel aura through the blade it will gain weight on impact. You won't feel the shift in weight until you hit something so you don't have to worry about it throwing off your swing or anything. So the force of your blows will be stronger, but it all depends on how strong your aura is. Based off what you've shown me so far I'd guess it can at most double the weight for now. You can also use this to tank blows while blocking."
"Perfect. I guess that's all I'll be needing. Thanks for the help Nathan I've already sent your pay to your account."
"Don't worry about that man. You are pretty much going to be our poster boy going forward so just make a big name for yourself and our business will sky rocket." Nathan replied with a smile. "Before you go I had some leather armor made in your size for you. It has an enchantment that makes them more magic resistant. Oh and also take this scarf as well." Nathan said as he handed a blue scarf over towards Joshua.
"Why the scarf?" Joshua asked curiously. As he wrapped the thing around his neck to test it out. It was extremely light and hung over his shoulder on both sides due to its length.
"Well I wanted it to be a cape at first, but that would get in the way of your weapon." Nathan said as Joshua just stared him down for a better answer. "Ok well it might also just look cool, but I also added a weightless enchantment to it as well. You can use it to float down from high places if needed."
Joshua simply nodded before going in the back and getting suited up in all the gear that Nathan and his sister had made for him. The leather armor was a dark blue color that was a little bit darker than the scarf. It fit him perfectly and didn't restrict any of his movements which was the important part. It was basically a last defense just in case his aura wasn't strong enough to hold off a lethal blow, but it still gave him a bit of an adventurer look. When he came out all set to go he heard a whistle from the door to the front and saw Naomi smiling at him. "You look good in it. Now go kick some ass and get us some new customers." She said before heading over to another work station.
Joshua simply smiled before waiving to the both of them good bye. When he made his way out of the store he immediately swiped in the air to open the system menu and selected an option that he had been waiting to pick for so long. There was a big tab that stated exploration which immediately opened a door in front of him that lead to another white room. At the end of the room he could see a large portal that was left open with several people stepping through it and others coming from it. In the endless white room there were several of these portals for people to go through.
When Joshua approached the nearest portal and got in a line to go through he could see several different types of people around him. There were some that were extremely excited which showed that they were probably knew to the whole ordeal while others had more calm or care free expressions that proved they were veterans. Not to mention their gear was far ahead of the newbies. Joshua was probably the only rookie around that had exceptional gear sense he was able to use the money he gained from the first phase to get gear that could probably hold up until his job advanced. He might need to get better armor in the future, but weapon wise he was good for a long time to come.
Soon it was his turn to step through the portal and when he did he was given an option of what type of area he wished to start off in. A map popped up in front of him and showed several different locations that had been explored so far with a rating for each of them. He could also see places that had giant red marks over them to show how dangerous they were. Pretty much all of the cities were marked this way along with some famous natural areas that probably had beast in it that were way out of humanities league for the moment. Joshua ended up picking a beginner area that was somewhere around the boundary between Arizona and New Mexico. It was close to where he had spent the first phase and he thought being in familiar territory would be helpful.
The moment after he made his selection an odd sensation filled his body as if he was being pulled into the portal. It was a bit uncomfortable, but when the process was finished he found himself standing in a plain field with grass that was far livelier than anything he had expected. Any sign of humans previously living in the area was quickly being eroded by the plant life that was already growing over the highway that use to be obvious nearby. Any buildings that he could see in the distance were falling apart with flowers growing all over their remains. Joshua took in the scene with a bit of a smile before he decided to head out and find some monster to test himself against. There were other young people around that were thinking similar things as they formed small groups and headed for the forest. Most people didn't ask Joshua to join them because he looked like he was most likely way above their levels with his gear so they expected him to head further in than they were willing to go.
Joshua shook his head a little bit at this fact, but he had planned to explore alone at first any ways. When he headed into the forest he traveled silently and looked around the area for a few minutes before he decided to use his aura pulse ability to try to find monsters close by. Suddenly he could feel everything in his surroundings as if a radar was going off in his mind as his aura sent out short burst of energy that flooded the area. He picked up signs of some smaller creatures that rushed away after feeling the pulse of aura, but he didn't feel any signs of monsters until at the very edge of his pulse range. For now he could spread his pulse out for about a hundred meters so it was fairly decent for checking his immediate surroundings.
At the edge of his pulse he could feel four people fighting against some sort of monster that seemed to hop around and charge at them. Joshua decided to rush over and check out how the fight was going to get a sense of what he should expect and came upon a scene that he would remember for a long time. The group of four was filled up of young people that were around the same age as his little sister with two of them being guys while the other two were girls. The two guys were out front with one using a shield to hold off the monsters ferocious charge that kept blasting him off his feet while the other used a spear to try to stab the creature that kept twisting out of the way at the last second.
Both of the girls kept their distance with one shooting arrows at the creature which usually missed, but whenever they hit they barely punctured past the monsters fur. The other girl was constantly focusing on the guy with the shield and every now and then her hands would glow for an instant. This glow would cause the guy with a shield to light up and Joshua could see that his injuries would slightly heal. This little group seemed well balanced as they each supported each other as best as they could.
The fight seemed to drag on as the monster would use its horn to smash into the front guy's shield and would often knock him off his feet on impact. Before the monster could deal a lethal blow an arrow would distract it and the other guy with a spear would come in and stab it if it got to close. It took ten minutes for all the little wounds on the monster to pile up and finally cause it to fall over from exhaustion. One of the guys walked up and finished it off with his spear and the whole group cheered with excitement at their success. As they were cheering another monster charged out behind a bush and was about to attack the healer in the back when Joshua rushed in front of her and caught the thing by its horn and held it up in the air.
Now that he got a good look at the thing it looked like an overgrown rabbit that had grown a spiral horn on its head. It's all white fur didn't do much to make it look menacing in anyway. Done with his inspection, Joshua realized that even though he hadn't used his aura at all he was able to keep this thing in place almost effortlessly. The four kids behind him looked at him with mouths hanging open from their shock. Joshua simply smiled at them before slamming the creature harshly into the ground causing a small crater in front of him that instantly killed the poor monster. Joshua could feel the bit of experience fill him and he could tell he'd have to kill a hundred of these things to level up which just seemed like a waste of time to him.
With a sigh Joshua picked up the dead rabbit monster and through it into his inventory before walking further into the forest and leaving the shocked kids behind. He knew for a fact that the beginner area was not going to be enough to test his skills.