We were currently walking through ‘Citizen Boulevard’, one of the main streets in Prestige’s inner city. However, the atmosphere wasn’t as natural and relaxed as before. In fact, there was a heavy and awkward silence blanketing us.
Jain nudged me.
“What did you do?”
She asked as she sneaked a peek at Boss.
Just like she said, Boss was wearing a grave expression, but I could only shrug helplessly as I had no clue why.
“I’m not sure.”
“Did you do something wrong?”
“It’s only been 30 minutes since we met.”
Jain pondered as she rubbed her chin. Then, she suddenly widened her eyes.
“Ah, is it that time?”
That day. Was it an anniversary of some sort? Perhaps this was a good opportunity for me to peek at Boss’ past.
“You know, that time of the month~”
I shook away the silly thought and focused on the task at hand.
We were quickly approaching the Professor’s Mansion. Despite being quiet, Boss followed us as well. As such, it didn’t take long for us to reach our destination.
[Lv.6 Professor’s Mansion]
An imposing mansion standing tall amidst Prestige’s darkness. This mansion, which looked like a medieval castle, shone with a silvery blue light.
“Mm~ so this is the place? How do you want to go about it~?”
I stared at Jain without answering her.
I had no clue how to rob a house, much less a mansion of this scale.
Even if I did, I would undoubtedly pale in front of the professional in front of me.
“…Why are you staring?”
Jain tilted her head as she met my gaze.
That was how long it took for us to occupy the Professor’s Mansion.
It was rather simple. First, Cheok Jungyeong caused a scene outside the mansion, pulling the attention of the guards and vigilantes away. Meanwhile, Jain and I walked through the front door with the help of her ‘Disguise’ Gift.
However, it was hard to suppress the [Lv.4 Professor’s Soldiers] with just me and Jain. Using my gun would reveal our presence to the guards outside, and Jain didn’t have a weapon.
That’s when Boss stepped in.
In her shadow form, she joined us and easily subdued six soldiers.
…Well, it wasn’t ‘easy’ per se, since she used 6 magic power potions. Each soldier was powerful, having at least one basic skill.
Just like that, we arrived at the professor’s private study.
The [Lv.6 Professor] who was reading a book inside was subdued by Boss’ shadow and tied up.
Ah, for the record, a high level didn’t necessarily correspond to greater strength. This professor was a high level because of his intelligence.
The professor struggled with his entire body, but Jain simply pressed a few pressure points and shut him up. The professor’s shaking body calmed down as he fainted.
Now, the study was quiet.
I looked around the study, which was larger than most auditoriums. Even with a cursory glance, I could estimate that the study had at least 10,000 books.
“There are people dying in the streets and this guy built a castle out of books… People are the same no matter what world they’re from, eh~?”
Jain muttered as she nudged the fainted professor with her feet.
“So, Hajin, what are we looking for in here?”
“Look for skillbooks.”
Officially, a skillbook was called a ‘skill acquisition book’. Like in MMORPGs, it let you learn a skill with the click of a button. Of course, improving an acquired skill still required individual effort.
“What’s a skillbook?”
Jain asked, staring at the air.
“Ah~ okay, got it. Thanks.”
The system must have explained it to her as she happily nodded.
However, unlike Jain who looked excited at the prospect of stealing, Boss continued to stare at me silently.
“You should try it too, Boss.”
Her response was a grumbling, complaint-like mumble.
“Ask the system what a skillbook is.”
Boss mumbled curtly.
“What’s a skillbook?”
Then, she stared at the air just like Jain.
Now that Boss knew what a skillbook was, I clapped my hands and caught their attention.
“We shouldn’t stay for too long, so let’s search for them for the next 20 minutes.”
In the original story, the professor used skillbooks as bargaining chips to force Players to do his bidding. So, I planned to take as many skillbooks as I could from this place and release them to the auction house. Of course, at a proper price.
“Skillbooks are noticeably different from other books, so you should be able to recognize them.”
We began to rummage through the study.
The sound of books moving rang out in the study.
“Hey, Hajin, I think I found one.”
Soon, Jain held up a book.
“Oh? Let me see.”
I caught the book she threw and checked its information.
[Basic Skill Acquisition Book – Lv.0 Law of Thinking] [Average – Low]
○Lv.0 Efficiency – increases the speed of your arithmetic operations.
○Lv.0 Intelligence – increases the speed of your calculations.
“…Just keep it in your inventory.”
“Right? I didn’t think it was good either. You can have it.”
“No, I don’t really… ah, okay, I’ll take it.”
I could give it to Henry and Kiri. Unlike Players, NPCs couldn’t learn skills with the click of a button. However, they could still acquire skills.
I put the skillbook in my inventory.
Then, I went back to looking for skillbooks.
“Hajin, I found another one.”
As expected of someone who was nicknamed PhantomThief, she was good at finding hidden treasures.
I checked the information on the skillbook she threw.
[Basic Skill Acquisition Book – Lv.0 Charging] [Average – Intermediate]
○Lv.0 Limit Break – charges forward with your strength doubled.
○Lv.0 Flexibility – moves quickly for an instant. Maximum range: 100m.
It was a simple yet useful skill. It was especially useful for someone like Cheok Jungyeong who had high physical stats.
“Looks like this can go to Cheok Jungyeong.”
“I agree. I’ll sell it to him for 1000TP.”
“Does he have money?”
“Yeah, he has a lot. He’s only been hunting the past few days~”
While were having a friendly conversation, I felt a sudden stinging gaze on me. I glanced to the side.
Boss was glaring at us with a somewhat dissatisfied expression.
But when our eyes met, she quickly retracted her gaze and went back to looking for skillbooks.
…After 20 minutes of searching, we found a total of 21 skillbooks, including [Glass Barrier], [Sand Manipulation], [Monster Taming], [Elemental Reinforcement], and [Snatch].
However, we couldn’t find what I was looking for.
While I was stamping my feet, wondering if we had to go back…
Boss approached me. Her mood still seemed to be down as she handed me a skillbook.
I checked its information.
[Basic Skill Acquisition Book – Lv.0 Permanent Materialization] [Rare – High]
○Lv.0 Limit Break – permanently materializes a formless existence.
My eyes shot open.
I finally found it, Permanent Materialization.
It was the best basic skill I knew. It only had one effect, but that only made it easier to level up.
“This is the skillbook I was looking for. Thanks, Boss, I’ll use it well.”
“…I never said I’d give it to you.”
Boss put out her hand. She was clearly asking me to hand the skillbook back.
“Come on, I’ll make you a good equipment later.”
“Yes, of course.”
Before Boss could say anything else, I put the skillbook into my inventory. Boss looked at me suspiciously before turning back.
“Now let’s hurry. The city’s vigilantes should be charging in any second.”
“Okay~ by the way, how much is everything we looted?”
Curious myself, I did a cursory calculation in my head. We stole 25 skillbooks in total. To sell them in the auction house, we would have to wait two weeks for the [stolen good] property to disappear, but in total…
“Once Players start making money seriously, we should be able to get at least 50000TP.”
Jain smiled happily. At that moment…
A thunderous roar rang out from outside the study. With my Thousand-Mile Eyes peering through the wall, I could see ten vigilantes running over. However, we already had an escape route planned.
Boss escaped using ‘Shadow Pool’, instantaneously transforming herself into a liquid. Jain and I disguised as [Lv.4 Professor’s Soldier]s, who we subdued on our way here. Jain thoughtfully made injuries on our bodies.
I immediately broke the window.
“Intruders! Release the professor—!”
As soon as the vigilantes barged in, I pointed at the shattered window.
“T-They escaped through the window!”
“Are you two okay? Your injuries…”
The vigilantes had terrifying levels.
The lowest member was Lv.8, and their leader was Lv.11.
“We’re fine, so please catch them! They kidnapped the professor!”
It was Jain who spoke out next. Hearing her, the vigilantes immediately jumped out of the window.
With the vigilantes gone, we leisurely walked out of the mansion’s premise and joined up with Boss at a predetermined meeting spot.
There, Cheok Jungyeong was waiting for us, looking sleepy.
“Hey, Cheok Jungyeong, do you want to buy this~?”
Jain asked as she handed him the skillbook.
“A skillbook. It’s perfect for you~”
Cheok Jungyeong stared at the skillbook curiously. As he read the system message, a smile of interest emerged on his face.
“Oho… how much is it?”
“…Do you think I’m an idiot?”
Cheok Jungyeong and Jain started to negotiate, and I sneaked off. There was something I needed to do.
However, Boss, who just arrived, stopped me. Grabbing my wrist hard, she looked into my eyes with a serious expression. Her eyes were fierce like she wanted to eat me.
“Where are you going?”
“Ah~ I’m going to go buy something. I’ll be back soon.’
Before learning [Permanent Materialization], there was something I needed to do. Thankfully, I only needed TP to do it, so it shouldn’t take long.
“What are you buying?”
“I’ll tell you later.”
Boss clenched her teeth, clearly outlining her jawline.
“You have lots of secrets.”
“…Yes? What do you…”
Without replying, Boss walked past me and walked towards Cheok Jungyeong and Jain.
“…Don’t talk to me.”
…She really was in a foul mood today.
It seemed I needed to make her something delicious later.
Still, I had to do what I had to do.
I faced forward and began to walk towards Medea’s temple.
[Lv.7 Temple of Medea]
The temple wasn’t far away.
As its name suggested, it was a place where visitors had to be polite and respectful. Naturally, I took off my mask and hood.
[Lv.4 Medea’s Priest]
As soon as I opened the temple’s door, a priest greeted me with a warm smile.
“Ah, yes, I came to buy an item.”
“Our temple sells the following items.”
The priest snapped his fingers, and a holographic system message popped up in front of me. It was the list of items being sold in this place.
I picked three items from the list.
[Basic Skill Acquisition Book – Lv.0 Synthesis]
[Basic Skill Acquisition Book – Lv.0 Extraction]
[Lv.0 Basic Skill Consolidation Scroll]
[Lv.0 Extraction] and [Lv.0 Synthesis].
By themselves, they were rather useless.
However, after looking through my settings book hundreds of times, I was certain that these skills were the best for me.
“I’ll take these three.”
“…That’ll be a total of 15000TP.”
The Temple of Medea was famous for being cost ineffective. In truth, buying skillbooks here was a waste. However, this was what the Book of Truth said.
[Lv.0 Synthesis and Lv.0 Extraction are only sold in ‘Temple of Medea’.]
So I didn’t have any other choice. This temple was the only place I could buy them, and it wasn’t like I could create them myself.
I gave the priest 15 1000TP banknotes.
The priest took the money with a bright smile and handed over two skillbooks and a scroll.
“Thank you for your purchase. Ah, would you like to become a member of our temple? If you do…”
“No, it’s fine.”
As I said before, the Temple of Medea had terrible cost efficiency. There was no reason to become a member. Rather, I wanted to set it on fire and burn it to the ground.
I declined the priest’s offer and left the temple.
Then, I moved to my waiting room to begin my ‘work’.
“…Ah, there’s sunlight in this place.”
For some reason, there was sunlight in the waiting room unlike in Prestige.
I sat down at the edge of my bed and took out the skillbooks I bought.
[Basic Skill Acquisition Book – Lv.0 Synthesis]
[Would you like to learn the Basic Skill – Lv.0 Synthesis?]
[Warning! Learning a skill uses up a skill slot. Once used, a skill slot cannot be recovered.]
[Warning! The ‘Synthesis’ skill is a half-skill that can only be leveled up with scrolls!]
“Thank you for worrying about me, but I already know.”
I went ahead and learned the skill.
[You acquired the Basic Skill – Lv.0 Synthesis. You can still learn two more skills.]
[Basic Skill – Lv.0 Synthesis]
○Lv.0 Limitation – you can synthesize Lv.-1 or lower items.
‘Lv.-1 or lower’.
It was easy to see that it was a trash skill that couldn’t be used without consolidation scrolls.
I took out the consolidation scroll I bought and leveled up the Synthesis skill.
[Lv.0 Basic Skill Consolidation Scroll upgrades your Synthesis skill.]
○Lv.1 Limitation – you can synthesize Lv.0 or lower items.
Next was the important part.
Using Synthesis, I combined the two remaining skillbooks, [Lv.0 Extraction] and [Lv.0 Permanent Materialization].
[You used Lv.1 Synthesis!]
[Warning! The chances of successfully synthesizing a skill are extremely low. Would you like to do it anyway?]
As I always said, playing with probability had little meaning to me.
[What will be the result!? Dudududududu….]
“…I didn’t know you could be so lively.”
[With great luck, the two items successfully fused!]
[You obtained a new skill, 「Normal Skill Acquisition Scroll – Lv.0 Extraction and Permanent Materialization」].
Unsurprisingly, the synthesis succeeded.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
There was a reason I went through all this trouble to synthesize a skill.
[Extraction and Permanent Materialization]
Extraction pulled out the essence of an existence.
Next, Materialization provided a form to the formless.
Finally, Permanence made the form last for an unlimited time.
The secret plan I had for this skill was simple and obvious.
To materialize my strongest weapon, Stigma’s magic power.
That was my first goal.