82 Slap Happy
When we materialize outside the Dungeon, Nanuk asks me to swipe open the Contribution Chart and make it visible to everyone, so we can take turns splitting the goodies.
His ice-blue eyes are practically screaming, "LOOTLOOTLOOT," and I realize that even though he may seem stoic and unreadable, at heart, he's just a gamer freak like the rest of us.
(He just also probably knows how to pay taxes like a real grown-up.)
"Ughhh what's the point in even checking? We all know that bird bastard scored the highest Contribution," Nightfury grumbles. He shoots a glare at Taliesin. "Somebody just HAD to let him solo the Antechamber."
Taliesin jumps up, hands on my shoulders, and does a handstand above me in his excitement. "And wasn't it AWESOME?!"
I indulgently pat one of Taliesin's hands and make no move to dislodge the hyperactive acrobat. I smirk at Nightfury. "Obviously I'm first, but aren't you the tiniest bit curious who's in second? Or are you worried the others beat you, too, so you don't want to verify your suckitude?"
"Like Hell!" Nightfury snaps, then he swipes open the Contribution Chart before I can.
[Hermitage Ruins - Nightmare Mode]
-PLAYER CONTRIBUTION RANKINGS-
2) Kara Geir
"Apparently Nanuk shouldn't have been so excited to check..."
I choke and stare wide-eyed at Kara. For once, I wasn't the one to make the most asshole-ish comment! I love her.
Nanuk looks shocked by his rank, and his expression turns pained when Taliesin tries to make him feel better:
"Not your fault, Nan. Erebus is so good he barely needs Healing, and Kara and I were up front dealing so much damage, we didn't need you much."
It's worse because Taliesin thinks he's being helpful.
Huddling together, Kara and I turn away so Nanuk won't see us laughing. Poor guy's had it rough enough already.
If I were truly a good person, I would interject here and remind everyone that Nanuk's Contribution is actually still impressive, and the difference between 2nd and 5th in terms of Earned EXP is only 20k points.
(Naturally, I earned almost 750k more EXP than anyone else, but I also had the Party Leader Bonus, got to solo an Antechamber, and I earned double EXP for fighting blindfolded.
That last bonus was a nice surprise, and one I made sure to brag about on camera. Partially because I live to piss people off, but mostly because I'm sure it'll make a ton of people try fighting blindfolded, and I can't wait to see the Epic Fails Compilations.
Honestly, the only reason Nanuk's score was so low is because he is so good.
A true supporter, he knows that even when everything seems to be going smoothly, a single surprise attack from a mob or a slow defensive maneuver from a Party member can mean certain death if the support players aren't keeping back and keeping an eye on everything at once. He kept his DPS (damage per second) up well with his magic attacks and boomerang hits, but he never used more than half his SP during any battle, so he'd have enough to Heal if needed.
Plus, from the way he holds his ivory staff, I'm fairly certain he has strong melee skills too, but he knew better than to come in close, since the three of us were more than capable of dealing melee damage.
He might be in 5th place overall, but honestly, given the raid we just ran, last place simply proves he deserves the top-tier ranking he had back in the beta.
I need to keep an eye on this guy.
It doesn't take Nanuk long to tamp down his disappointment and refocus on the more important point at hand: it's Split the Loot time! He shows me how to consolidate all the loot from the entire dungeon into a single Battle Log that I can then make visible to everyone. Taliesin turns off the camera for this part, obviously.
The world knows too many of our secrets as it is.
And speaking of secrets, Taliesin wastes no time in revealing his biggest one to Nightfury.
"Dude, right? That's exactly what I said," I say.
The Draegkyn shoves me away. "You have no room to talk. You have upgradable weapons too!"
Nightfury grinds his teeth, but Nanuk cuts off any further fighting by explaining his brother's main point.
When Taliesin hit Level 10 while we were out adventuring, he was able to access the Upgrade Requirements for his Legendary Sword. This Dungeon dropped almost half of what he needs. He also managed to snag the Boss's Scythe after I threw it, and consume it as an upgrade material.
Taliesin offers to pass up all his picks if he can just have the parts he needs for Excalibur. It doesn't follow our Contribution deal, but since his sword mostly needs random monster parts and similar drops, rather than high-level equipment or gear, he actually loses out in the long run.
"Eh, I don't think that's fair," I say, frowning. "If the kid's going to immediately break the deal, I want to as well."
Nanuk shoots me a surprised look.
I explain that I want all the recipes and crafting designs, but I don't want to lose all my main picks for them. "Does anyone else really want any of the items Taliesin needs? Or any of the designs? No one else has anything important to upgrade, and no one has any of the Lifestyle Skills required to craft anything."
"Sure, but they're still worth money," Nightfury replies.
"Exactly! You just want them to sell them. How about we save you the trouble of finding buyers? Taliesin will buy out all the parts he needs for Excalibur, I'll buy out all the recipes and designs, everyone else can share the money, and we can focus on splitting the rest of the loot!"
Kara and Nanuk readily agree, but Nightfury looks uncomfortable. "I mean, that seems fair, but how could it work? You'd need to pay at least a few gold apiece for everything."
"Deal!" Taliesin cheerily replies. We each withdraw 6 gold, and split it evenly between the other three.
If Nightfury was surprised at having two party members with perpetually upgradable weapons, he's downright dumbfounded now.
"How the HELL do you both have that much gold just lying around?!"
Taliesin and I shrug, then with matching grins, collect our prizes.
While we're at it, I go ahead and divvy up the money earned from the dungeon raid and all the other small drops (like monster parts, Wraith Remnants, HP and SP refill items, etc.) Plus we collected about 50 low-tier weapons (scythes and daggers mostly) and an assortment of repeated low-tier gear too underleveled to be useful to us, so I split all that evenly, too.
Once everyone has time to look over the remaining offerings, I start us off by selecting an item that enhances Quick Healing spells.
Nanuk immediately objects.
I smirk at him. "Too bad, Mr. Last Pick. Guess I sniped what you wanted most."
Unimpressed, he just gives me a flat stare. "Shove it. You're just pretending to be a petty asshole now so no one will know you're being nice."
My smirk falters in my shock. "WHAT?!"
Kara rolls her eyes and Nightfury sighs.
"Like we can't tell the difference, dumbass," Nightfury says. "You said it yourself. You're a pompous ass and think you're better than God, but you're not a dick."
"Only some Gods..." I mutter defensively.
"It's for Lialas, right," Nanuk says, and it's not even a question.
How in the Nine Hells did they figure that out?
"You don't have to give up your first round pick for him," he continues. "I'm not heartless. There are only two Healer items. If we both want the same one, I'll roll him for it when we meet up later and loser will take the other."
"Moving on," Taliesin says, gesturing for me to choose a different item. He's using Excalibur to point at various drop items he thinks I might want like an old school teacher using a meter stick to point at a blackboard. Based on his expression, he also could tell what I was up to.
Seriously. What. The. Hell.
Flustered, I select the +3 Fortitude Talisman from the Woman in White. It's a lock of hair from her deceased son.
(Her special mystery quest involved figuring out what happened to him, finding his body, and releasing his trapped soul so he could be reunited with his mother. Taliesin was sobbing by the end, and the rest of us honestly weren't faring much better. Nightfury made sure to tell the kid to edit that part out of the highlight reel.)
When I add the hair to my Inventory, obviously next to the bloody hand and the Banshee eyeball, I feel a strange resonance coming from all three of them. I don't have time to investigate right now, but I make a mental note to check it out later.
More importantly, I get the notification that I've unlocked the FOR +20 berserk skill!
[Secret Skill Unlocked!]
[Adrenaline Spike (Lvl 1): For the warrior too stubborn to die quietly! This skill can only be Activated in the Red Zone. Doubles Stamina and Increases Strength by 10% for 90 seconds.
Warning: While skill is active, you will be immune to Heals or Health Replenishment Items, so don't bother wasting them. Once skill ends, you will enter a Severely Weakened State for 2 minutes]
[First Unlock Bonus: For being the first Player to unlock this Hidden Attribute skill, +2 Fortitude, +25,000 EXP]
I didn't get that bonus notification when I unlocked my Hidden Perception skills. I wonder if that means someone out there already has higher PER than me and beat me to them.
I've actually been curious about the algorithm ever since I realized Taliesin and I started out with Godly Luck and Charisma, respectively. Maybe two other lucky souls were randomly selected to start off with insanely high Perception and Fortitude.
If so, Fortitude Dude must not have high enough PER to view his Hidden Attributes yet; you can't officially unlock the secret skills until you can Perceive the Hidden Attributes the skills belong to.
...Guess I better keep grinding for Fortitude by fighting in the Red Zone, just in case. I might be able to unlock the next two FOR secret skills before mystery player hits Perception +15.
"I hate that face you're making," Nightfury groans and tries to shoot me in the head.
"What face?" I ask as I deflect the arrow.
"The 'I'm About to Screw Over an Unsuspecting Fool' face. You look damn giddy at the prospect. It's not decent, you arse."
"I thought you all said I was 'nice' like a second ago." I shudder.
Nanuk huffs. "We said we can tell the difference between when you're *actually* being an incorrigible ass—"
"—which is most of the time," Nightfury adds.
"—and when you're just *acting* like a twatwaffle because you're too emotionally stunted to know how to express yourself," Kara finishes.
Taliesin shifts into a Goat Demon to become tall enough to pat my shoulder consolingly.
That's even more horrifying.
Then two tar-black hands pat my back, one pats my other shoulder, and one pats my head, and my poor emotionally-stunted brain can't take anymore of this.
I instinctively bust out my Hysterical Slap Combo skill.
A familiar deep, rumbling chuckle fills the air at the same time I get the notification I cannot harm an Immortal Object.
Dread pools in my stomach, and I look up to see the rest of my Party staring at something behind me. Something terrifying, given their expressions.
I slowly turn and confirm my worst fears.
Anansi, the Spider Trickster God.
I just slapped a God.
He raises all four arms and two of his legs, and I squeeze my eyes shut so I don't have to watch the end coming. I can't even imagine what kind of horrible death I've earned.
Unable to curb my gamer instinct, I can't help but peek my eyes open at the notification sound.
[Rare Title Acquired: Balls of Steel]