After dropping Jayce, Julia, and the rest of their group off into the loving hands of Adam, Joshua went back to his training grounds to meet up with Lilly who had been going there every morning to let her pets have some space. He didn't plan on doing any training for the day since they were going to head back out the next morning to start a new expedition. They didn't really have any need for any new gear and they had already filled back up on supplies from Nathan earlier in the week along with selling off some materials and monster corpses they had found while exploring. Joshua made sure that Naomi got most of the Ant Queen armor so that she could use it to make better equipment in the future. Although the Ant Queen was only level thirty-five its armor was more than tough enough to make gear well past level fifty. Especially when it came to heavy armor and shields.
Instead of training or looking for new gear before they headed out Joshua decided to spend the rest of the day taking Lilly with him to the System Auction Shop. It would be an interesting place to check out for any new skills that might help out in the long run. Joshua doubted they'd find anything amazing considering anyone with commonsense would keep high tier skills to themselves for their own use. Instead he was looking for a skill that would complement his gun rather than his other weapons. Up to this point Joshua didn't really have any use for his gun at all the dungeons and places he had been to in the past explorations.
So far that came down to two obvious reasons that stood out to him. The first was the fact that for most enemies it was much easier to take them down with his strength and skill with the scale blade. He was trying to get use to using the weapon as much as possible before incorporating other forms of fighting into his style against beast. Now that he had gotten used to it he planned to start to mix in some martial arts while fighting against creatures that weren't too heavily armored. The second reason was the simple fact that most large scale enemies he had come across had ridiculous amounts of armor on them. Even armor piercing rounds would just leave little marks on the metallic armor of the ant generals let alone the Ant Queen. He would need some sort of skill to get around that fact and this was his chance to get one.
Lilly on the other hand could use some skills to use along with her staff. At this point all of her abilities and skills were more geared towards her pets and not herself. If she wanted to be able to take on creature's like that elite ant then she would definitely need some close combat techniques. Maybe a few basic spells couldn't hurt either since she could use them as long as she was synchronized to the right creature at the time. In the end it would all be secondary to her pets and their skills, but it could still help out in a drawn out fight.
"Well, since we're done with training during our break I think it's time for us to make our final preparations." Joshua said as he walked over to stand by Lilly who was watching her pets mess around in the clearing. Cinder had shrunk down and was playfully chasing the two rabbits around while Flutter flew just over head. Tank and Mr. Hoppy were still both over in the lake resting with the lizard sun bathing on a large rock nearby. It was a peaceful view.
"I thought we already got all of our supplies for tomorrow?" Lilly asked with a look of confusion.
"Well there's this new auction shop in the hub city with all sort of skills we can browse through to see if anything interests us. I'm not expecting to find any skills quite as good as the ones we got from clearing dungeons or anything, but we might find somethings that could support our style of combat without being the focal point of it." Joshua explained getting a nod of understanding from Lilly. "Besides it'll be fun to see what interesting skills are being put up for auction."
"Alright, it does sound fun!" Lilly said before turning to all of her pets and waiving them over to bring them all back into her soul realm. "Now let's go, I'm guessing this place will be quite crowded if it's so new."
Joshua smiled before opening a door to the hub city and going through first with Lilly steeping in right behind him. They entered near the area of the Phoenix Guild and Joshua turned around to lead Lilly towards where he had seen all of the commotion coming from earlier in the morning. It didn't take long for them to reach the area and suddenly Joshua felt like he was in time square of New York City during a celebration. The place was flooded with people, but instead of being a normal shop where you had to enter a certain building to start browsing the goods it was more of an open market type situation. There was a combination of a system hub that constantly auctioned up skills for people to bid on near the center of the crowd, while all along the outskirts there were individual people selling off skills that they had gained like some sort of flee market. It was an interesting idea and seemed to be working extremely well.
Since they had gotten into the area they were able to access the auction shop hub with out to much trouble through the system and if they wanted to check out the wears of any of the stalls all they had to do was observe them and click on them to see what was up for offer. It was a good idea since they didn't have to try to force their way through the crowd to get to different stalls, or fight with people over who got what first since they could put up their bids from far away. It was good marketing and Joshua got the feeling that the system was extremely practiced with doing similar things with all sorts of other races and planets that had risen before them.
When Joshua clicked on the main auction hub he noticed something interesting right away. The auction shop didn't only have the auction house going with several people placing bids on all sorts of skills that he was going to have to read through to see if they were of any interest to him. What grabbed his eye was another shop that was connected to it called the Little Skills Shop. When Joshua clicked on it he immediately smiled at what he saw. Inside were a bunch of cheap basic skills that worked on amplifying the strengths of attacks based on certain movements or skill while using your weapon. A good example was a skill that added a five percent damage boost to a follow up attack if you attacked in a certain way beforehand with a sword. The skill couldn't level up, but what made these little skills so good was the fact that they could be strung together in a flourish of moves. Someone like Adrian who was a master at fluid combat and creating combos to keep his opponent on his toes could probably string ten of these little skills together and end up amplifying his damage by fifty percent at the end of his attack.
Joshua was never really a combo type fighter himself since usually he ended fights in a few powerful blows or counters, but there were also little skills that supported that style as well. Skills that empowered the knock back of devastating blows, skills that increased the damage from a counter type attack by ten percent, skills that added constant boost to damage when using proper grappling techniques, there were all sorts of skills and Joshua's mouth was watering just looking over them. They were incredibly cheap so Joshua just started buying any skill that he could easily see himself using while fighting or learning to use while fighting.
He showed it to Lilly as well and started to point out some staff techniques that she could get to improve her damage in close combat. A lot of the skills were things Joshua and Lilly already used while fighting and now with the small increases in damage it could definitely mean a lot in a drawn out fight. After finishing his shopping spree at the Little Skills Shop he moved on to the auction shop and started to browse through the skills that were up for auction. At first he was interested, but he started to get a bit disappointed after a time since most of the skills were clearly the weaker version of more powerful skills.
An example of this was the fact that he saw his echo strike skill up for grabs even though it was rare with only one up for bidding. The difference between this echo strike and his was the fact that his started out with twenty percent damage at level one while the one up for bid started out at five percent. That was a large difference in strength, especially as the skills started to level up. After Joshua had killed the Ant Queen his echo strike had leveled up and it was now doing forty percent damage of the previous attack and that would be a massive upgrade over what would most likely be ten percent for the auctioned version at level two.
Browsing through all of the skills Joshua noticed that most rare skills turned out this way and decided to avoid wasting his time leveling up a severely weakened skill so he turned to look towards some of the more common skills that might be higher level since there were so many of them available. Looking through the movement skills he saw something called shunpo that was selling like hot cakes, but after reading the description he knew it was inferior to his blink skill. While blink could move any direction no matter which way your momentum was headed in the first place, shunpo required you to push off with your feet in the direction that you were headed. This made it far easier to read for experienced fighters like Joshua and its range was only ten feet even with the good version.
Looking through the sword skills he saw one skill that he decided to bid on since it was rather basic, but useful. It was a simple technique that allowed you to send slices of sword aura through the air for a decent distance. The strength of the attacks depended on a combination of the strength of the user's sword aura and his or her skill with a blade. Luckily for Joshua his aura could replace sword aura and allow him to use the skill. The skill was called energy slash and what made it useful for Joshua was its extremely low cool down. It only had a three second cool down, but it was probably draining on the usual swordsman. Luckily Joshua had more than enough aura to spam this technique if he had to against enemies that tried to fight from a distance. As it leveled up it would increase in range and the cool down would get even smaller. At level five the cool down would just be a second.
Another skill that Joshua decided to buy was one for his gun. It was called rail bullet and was exactly what Joshua needed for his gun skills. It was extremely simple and straight forward, with a concentration of mana (or aura in Joshua's case) the user is able to increase the power of the bullet fired depending on the amount of aura used. This was an extremely basic technique for any gun users and it helped Joshua get around his problem with his shots being too weak to mean anything. He immediately bought the skill. It's cool down was none existent since if you spammed it too much you'd just run out of mana especially if you were trying to charge a large blast. What actually improved with leveling it was the charging speed.
In the end Joshua bought these two skills and turned to Lilly to see what she got and smiled when he saw her get a few healing spells along with a couple basic energy spells. They were all simple and common and wouldn't be hard to incorporate in their fighting going forward. For the moment she avoided buying any staff skills since there weren't any that were worth it outside of the little skills from earlier. After browsing the place for a little while longer the pair decided to head back and get ready for their departure.