"Huh... You really have the authority to do that?" Lone asked after hearing what his, Soph, and Breena's rewards would be.
"Well, I know ya've got no use for money, so I gave all of it to the sins, and ya get to keep all of the practical rewards. The plate rank increases 're only par for the course. If ya didn't raise at least one rank from stopping a war instead of choosing a side, then who fuckin' would?" Sarah asked with a cheeky smile spread across her lips.
Gilbert popped a sausage in his mouth then added, "Indeed. Honestly, considering how absurd you and Sophie - ah, Soph and Sophie, are, I'm genuinely surprised that the two, uh three? That the three of you aren't diamond-plates already."
Lone scratched his neck awkwardly and sighed. "I really don't need a house though. I know they're tough to get in Mystopolis since it's such a big and continentally-popular city, but I dunno. Madam Cortelle's Palace of Rest is fine and is probably safer than some random house in the suburbs of Mystopolis."
"If you don't want it," Gilbert said with a certain look in his eyes, "Then perhaps I can have it? Shana and Grimsley have family here, but I don't, and I'd much rather have a home to call my own instead of relying on Grand Guildmaster Sarah's kindness."
"Is that fine?" Lone asked Sarah.
The muscular woman shrugged. "Sure. What about the royal summons and the provisionary guildmaster role?"
"Gilbert's still a guildmaster technically, right? So he can't take that role from me, can he?" Lone asked hopefully.
"Oh, he sure can. I can just make him a nation guildmaster, which is one rank below myself. He can choose what nation he wants to oversee, be it a kingdom, an empire, or even a bureaucracy - as rare as those 're. He'll have 200-years to choose a nation lacking an overseeing guildmaster and then fill that role himself." Sarah grinned at the White Dragonkin. "Well? Wan' a promotion?"
Gilbert creased his brows. "Lone, are you sure? Being a guildmaster is an honour of the highest degree. Less than half a percent of The Adventurer's Guild's employees even come close to earning the chance to simply apply for the position, let alone obtain it."
Sarah laughed. "Patches isn't interested. I kinda knew he wouldn't be anyway, which is why I've already prepped for ya to take the role."
Lone nodded as he carefully moved Soph so she wouldn't slide off of his lap. The girl had fallen asleep since she wasn't a part of the conversation and was a bit tired.
"In that case... I accept. Thank you, Grand Guidmaster Sarah. Were it not for the guild, no doubt I'd still be trapped at the Shimmerscale Clan, so I'm happy and proud to serve the guild in any way that I can," Gilbert politely replied.
"No need to be a kissass," Sarah waved him off then asked Lone, "And about the royal summons? It's mandatory for all adventurers that clear a War-ranked quest to visit the capital and bow before the crown, but I can pull some strings if you'd rather not go."
"Oh, no, I'd love to go. I need to talk to the king of this country anyway about the royal family's support in regards to illegal slavery," Lone frankly admitted. "When is it?"
Sarah held her chin in her hands as her elbows rested against the wooden table. "It's in 6-months. It always happens half a year after a War-ranked quest gets completed. I'm kinda stoked to hear about the commotion you'll cause up in Axtorn, the capital."
"Here's hoping there'll be no commotion," Lone joked. "Anyway, since I went and retrieved Gilbert, do I still need to do the two double-S-ranked quests and the one X-ranked one that's left from our deal, or will you tell me what 'left' means and how your old friend did it already?"
"C'mon, Patches, I ain't an easy woman," Sarah teased as she closed one eye, tilted her head back with her arms crossed over her massive chest, then grinned. "I can't thank ya enough for finding Gilbert, but I can't just let ya avoid doing yer side of the bargain, now can I? How's about this, we can forget about that X-ranked quest."
Lone raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Yeah?"
Her grin turned into a smirk as she explained, "Red Spear - one of our resident gem-ranked adventurer groups, well, they accepted the last X-ranked quest that was posted here in Mystopolis, and those're rare, so if they complete it, we'll count it as your completion. If they fail, you go do it and I'll count that as the two SS-ranked ones done too. Deal?"
Lone nodded. "I can agree to that, sure."
"Great! Well then, let's go for another round or six!" Sarah shouted and then called over a waiter.
The three of them then shared stories and made idle conversation as they drank. Thanks to his high Poison Resistance, even after ten mugs of ale and a few shots of whiskey, Lone was only slightly tipsy.
Getting up out of his chair and carrying the still sleeping Soph in a princess hold, Lone smiled and said, "We should head back home. It's getting late, and I need to make sure Soph has a bath before she's been asleep for too long and can't fall asleep later."
Gilbert chuckled and rested his torso and head on the table. His cheeks were flushed as he said, "Is she your lover or your daughter?"
Lone smiled wryly. "She's very willful and childish, but she's also very mature, so I'll say both."
"Good answer!" Sarah yelled as another strong mug of ale was lost to her endless stomach. "Make sure ya pick up yer new plates before ya leave, ya hear, Patches?"
"I'll do that. Seeya later." After hearing Gilbert and Sarah's farewells, Lone returned to the first floor and shook Soph awake very softly before he collected their new adventurer plates.
Lone's was an almost weightless and perfectly cut red ruby, while Soph's was the same as Lone's previous one, white-gold.
He made sure to attach their new plates to their old alterion chains and he then hung his proudly around his neck as he strolled through the guild while he held Soph's timid hand.
'Finally, I'm a gem-plated adventurer... I wonder if I can meet more Divines now with this? I still need to have a serious discussion with Sarah if she knows about the gods, Clicker, Tapper, and Flicker... Another day, I guess. For now, I need to focus on Sophie and Rachel.' With that thought in his mind, Lone used Soul Rooting non-stop as he and Soph returned to Madam Cortelle's Palace of Rest.
By the time they'd returned, Lone's Soul Rooting had reached advanced-level-5, an improvement of four levels.
Over the next 6-days, Lone did almost nothing but farm his soul skills. Of course, he wanted to improve his newly-acquired enchantment magic, but every drop of MP spent on that, would be a drop of MP that could have been spent on his soul skills, hence why he didn't bother with enchantment magic during the past week.
Of course, some of his other skills had seen improvements outside of his soul skills. Namely, Blacksmithing and Persuasion. He often spent his free time as he waited for his MP to recharge by hammering away at his forge or haggling with random strangers that passed his emporium to have them check his store out.
He hadn't bothered completing the two SS-ranked quests he was charged with doing yet since he was afraid that would eat up too much time as well as MP.
There was also the fact the Hazel and her friends had yet to acclimate their recent rank-ups fully, and Lone ideally wanted to so the SS-ranked quests with them since he doubted anything labelled as SS-rank would ever be a danger or a challenge to himself.
The only other thing of real note which had happened was Lone gaining a new skill, and just as he was about to go collect his companions to set off for this year's entrance exam at The Academy, that very skill had ranked up for the first time.
|Passive Skill: Steamforging|
A skill that allows the host to craft steamforged items 15% [+10%] faster and 15% [+10%] more skillfully.
|Mastery:||Intermediate Level 1 [Up by 10 levels]|
Lone was very happy with this skill. He had only just started forging very simple and very tiny steamforged items a few days ago, resulting in him obtaining this skill.
He had done this without any help from his Creation Magic, which only went to show how helpful having just over a dozen steamforged trinkets to take apart and inspect was. Lone had only failed on his first three attempts, but the fourth had resulted in him making a tiny ring with some useless cogs on it.
His skill only increased from there with the help of Growth Accelerator.
Lone said goodbye to Frangila - one of his two store's live-in employes, and Saturn - his Divine weapon-turned-defacto-bodyguard. Once he was done with that, he entered The Glade and collected all of his friends - Rachel included, who was currently strapped to Swind's back.
As he, Soph, Breena, Eolande and Swind walked through the streets of Mystopolis toward the bridge that led to The Academy, to occupy his mind, Lone decided to check all of his skills that had recently levelled-up or ranked-up.
|Passive Skill: Persuasion|
Naturally makes everything that the host says or suggests 60% more reasonable.
Has a 50% chance to notify the host if their attempts at persuasion are failing, even if it does not seem obvious.
|Mastery:||Expert Level 7 [Up by 3 levels]|
No rank up for Persuasion, but Lone wasn't overly bothered by this since he had many ways to convince others to do what he wanted outside of simply using his words - mainly his tried and true bribery.
|Passive Skill: Blacksmithing|
A skill that allows the host to craft with metal 30% [+15%] faster and 30% [+15%] more skillfully.
[New!] There is a 10% chance that any mistakes the host makes while forging shall automatically be corrected.
|Mastery:||Advanced Level 9 [Up by 11 levels]|
This new effect actually helped Lone quite a lot with his initial steamforging attempts thanks to his relatively decent Luck stat. Lone guessed that it triggered once every seventh mistake or so, greatly reducing his workload.
|Soul Skill: Soul Rooting|
A skill unique to soul oracles.
It allows the host to root souls in place. While physically unbound, when near the designated area, a rooted soul shall become stronger and more stable.
Strengthens and stabilises rooted souls by 60% [+30%] when in the designated area (limited range of 20-meters-squared [up from 10-meter-squared]).
[New!] If the host quadruples the cost of the skill, they can root the desired soul to a body. The cost for unrooting is also doubled should the host wish to unroot a soul rooted to a body.
|Cost:||12,250 MP or SP [-3,500 MP or SP] (20,000 MP or SP [-5,000 MP or SP] to reroot a previously rooted soul)|
|Mastery:||Master Level 3 [Up by 22 levels]|
Swind was beyond grateful to Lone at this point. With Rachel's soul strengthened by a full 60-percent, she would occasionally say the odd word or two. The words were completely random and held no relation to what she saw or what she was thinking about according to Hazel, but regardless, this was a great leap in progress.
Lone was also particularly happy because he was fairly sure that the ability to root a soul to a body would help with Sophie's condition. For now though, it wasn't enough, so Lone was still diligently training it in hopes of a skill evolution.
|Soul Skill: Soul Binding|
A skill unique to soul oracles.
It allows the user to anchor a soul strongly to a body for 48-hours.
When used on a target, the host will now be informed if it was necessary or not.
|Cost:||1,750 MP or SP|
|Mastery:||Advanced Level 6 [Up by 5 levels]|
Lone hadn't focused on this skill enough to rank it up again since he'd helped Emilia Firefoot's elder brother, but he'd still be using it daily on both Rachel and Soph.
He had very few hopes in regards to this skill, but he was still a bit expectant for a somewhat helpful second effect to appear or perhaps for it to become useful after an evolution.
|Soul Skill: Soul Reinforcement|
A skill unique to Soul Oracles.
This skill allows the host to directly increase the rank of a soul, making it 15% [+10%] more resistant to soul-based attacks and mind-based magic per rank increased.
Can also be used to directly heal or repair a damaged soul by 15% [+10%] temporarily, allowing a lightly damaged soul to fix itself. Lasts for 48-hours [up from 24-hours].
|Cost:||90 MP or SP [-10MP or SP] (MP or SP is multiplied by 10 for each rank reinforced after H-rank).|
|Mastery:||Intermediate Level 3 [Up by 4 levels]|
Lone wasn't overly fond of this skill since it only offered false temporarily healing, and Rachel's soul was far too damaged for it to do anything at this point, but he had still decided to farm it a bit to see if it could be of any use at its later ranks.
After all, he could never be sure what any additional effects the skill may later gain would do.
|Passive Soul Skill: Soul Form|
A very complex skill only performable by the most-skilled of soul oracles.
Allows the host to leave their body with their soul, becoming an intangible version of themselves invisible to all but other soul oracles.
Cannot move more than 10-meters away from the host's body while in soul form.
|Cost:||25,000 MP or SP per hour to prevent any soul degradation.|
|Mastery:||Beginner Level 5 [Up by 4 levels]|
Lone, admittedly, hadn't used this skill more than a handful of times. He had a hunch that it might be helpful later down the line like many of his other soul skills, but for now, Soul Rooting and Soul Binding were his biggest priorities, so he only used this skill very sparingly since it was so costly.
And finally, his only passive soul skill had also levelled up.
|Passive Soul Skill: Soul Oracle Detection|
A very basic skill only performable by soul oracles with an ability to feel souls fifty-feet outwards from their own soul.
Allows the host to detect if another soul oracle is within range of their soul sensing capabilities. Current soul sensing range of the host: 3,953-meters [+1,240-meters].
|Mastery:||Intermediate Level 6 [Up by 15 levels]|
Nothing had changed yet besides the passive increase which was just a reflection of his ability, and not an ability provided by the system.
'I wonder if it'll let me sense more than just soul oracles later? Like, I can feel normal peoples' souls, but I have to try to do that unless the soul is full of powerful emotions... Hmm...' With that thought in his mind, Lone and his friends made their way over the mile-long bridge that connected eastern Mystopolis and The Academy.
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