A note from puddles4263


This batch of chapters ends with the beginning of the mini-arc! I do quite love some more philosophic ponderings on the System.

...among the precious and universal endowments of humanity, there are two which persist even in the face of social, economic, and metaphysical Systems which so routinely insist otherwise: that all of Humanity was created equal; and that the architecture and growth of vocations and talents remains solely with the purview of the individual, no matter how benign and knowledgable any other influence may seem.

It is an unavoidable eventuality that the realities of our so pressing human conditions and our high minded reflections upon our living morality feel the insidious creep of influence from our growing reliance on power as a necessary tool of survival. But let it be known thusly throughout the land: Power without legal mandate is villainy, and the seizure of systemic power without the considered affirmation of the populace is tyranny. Although indispensable to the reality of enacting the virtuous rule of law, power alone is a naked threat that will inevitably find victims amongst our most vulnerable. To believe otherwise is an exercise in deliberate foolishness.

But slow moves the shield held by many hands. As such, a scaffolding of tiered influences and mutual oversight is not only necessary but an organic presence within our nation-state. To that end, towards the fruitful pursuit of justice, we, the citizens of Rawlands, assent to the founding of the Great Orders, which-

Congratulations! Your Skill Graceful Calligraphy has gained a Level!

Congratulations! Your Skill Authoritative Writing has gained a Level!

Congratulations! The Path “Ideological Planter” is available to you!

With a sigh, Tessa sat back. She took several seconds to rub her eyes, then she peered out the tiny window in the corner of her office. Although the window was largely old world glass, it had still grown dirty over the past few years. The people in the City Hall of Franksburg hadn’t thought to hire someone to clean it as had been done in the old days. As a recently elected councilwoman in Franksburg, Tessa had the ability to push for funds to be put towards hiring staff for City Hall, but…

Blinking away any lingering weariness, Tessa turned back to the paper in front of her. There were more important things than cleaning right now.

The resolution in front of her, which was the crystallization of the platform that Tessa had run on, had already been passed by Franksburg generally. She was currently rereading and altering the operative language in the introduction to be submitted to Rawlands generally. It was her first task on the City Council, and it was exactly what Tessa wanted to be doing.

But it was just so exhausting.

Besides, there was a chance that it wouldn’t be accepted broadly, and Tessa wanted to do everything she could to ensure that wouldn’t happen. Although it would likely become contentious down the line, not enough time had passed since the arrival of the System for people to disagree with the all “humans created equal” portion.

But if the System stayed, 30 years down the line NCCers tried to push that through the government? Tessa had no doubt a powerful and selfish individual would simply destroy the government. She shivered, feeling the vestiges of an old fear.

A face appeared in her mind, with black hair and piercing emerald eyes. The very air around him seemed to warp. He was so powerful that simply being angry made everything rip and tear around him. Tessa dreaded finding out what that did to a person’s personality, having that power.

It wasn’t that she hated Randidly for what he did. He was… young and foolish. And this world had given him more power than he could ever understand.

Almost a year and a half ago, after returning to the employ of the biggest crime boss in the city, Tessa swore that she would find her own power, her own voice. And she wouldn’t rely on the System to do it.

Thinking back, Tessa laughed. Well, with only some help from the System. She had worked hard and taken courses at the Franksburg Academy that had opened up. Due to the size of the city and out of habit, Franksburg still needed professionals. So Tessa had spent a year in a crash course as to how to be a lawyer. Afterward, she clerked for a judge for several months.

When the influx of refugees from the borderlands meant a new council seat was opening up, Tessa tossed aside her steady position and campaigned relentlessly for a month. And she had won.

A part of her wanted to finally take a chance to relax, but another refused. Even now, rumors of the things Randidly was accomplishing reached her ears. If she wanted to someday become an influence that could restrain him, she needed to rise up a lot more in politics. Inwardly, there were some days that Tessa regretted running for city councilwoman rather than the more influential Senator position, that would attend the Assembly of Rawlands, but in her heart, Tessa knew the only reason she had won her position was that a lot of capable candidates had gone for the three Senator positions.

Well, no reason to be bitter about it, Tessa reminded herself, looking at her resolution.

After becoming a councilwoman, she had finally obtained a Class: Radical Scholar. She was conflicted about the Class. On the one hand, she had obtained Skills like Innovative Thinking and Powerful Memory that helped her accomplish the things he wanted. Utilizing them, along with her Calligraphy and Writing Skills, Tessa had obtained power without ever resorting to violence. The pen is mightier than the sword, and all that.

On the other hand… Tessa felt oddly disappointed. She wasn’t a Hero, she wasn’t a leader… she was just a scholar.

Well, no reason to be bitter about it, Tessa thought again while rolling her eyes.

She was about to go through line by line on the portion of the resolution that addressed the Chivalric Orders when there was a knock at her door.

Jeremy, an elderly man who functioned as the District Attorney in Franksburg, stuck his head into her office. “Councilwoman, the army is leaving.”

Her eyebrows climbed upwards. She bit back a curse as she scrambled to her feet; although it was a sexist belief, Jeremy was always aghast when she swore and there was no reason to offend him over something so pointless. “So soon? But Lucifer’s injury-”

“Healed,” Jeremy said, shaking his head.

Tessa burst from her room, loose papers fluttering with her passage. Jeremy blinked at her in shock and made to comment, but Tessa rushed away. Although she was wearing a skirt, it was a relatively loose number that flowed down to just below her knees. Even if she sprinted as fast as she could, Tessa doubted that anything… more untoward than the act of running would show.

And she needed to make it in time to this. She hadn’t worked so hard on her careful delineation of basic human rights for the military to ignore the well researched and considered definitions. And she knew that was exactly what they were about to do.

Heads turned when she rushed out of City Hall into a busy road, and Tessa was forced to slow down. But only a quick pause to listen to the surroundings allowed her to clearly identify shouting in the distance to the East. Immediately, she started power walking in that direction, nodding politely to a trio of police officers who greeted her on her way.

It was strange, the conscious part of Tessa’s mind reflected, how Perception not only increased your base hearing but also your ability to distinguish between noises. Things weren’t just louder. You could also select what you wanted to listen to more easily. Perception was where most of Tessa’s points had gone to, that and Wisdom, and she found it to be exceedingly helpful. Although she really wanted to make a more concerted effort to improve her Focus and see if that prevented some of her crippling headaches that resulted from long writing sessions.

Without pausing to check if any of the clunky looking Mana based cars were moving back and forth, Tessa streaked across Main Street and took the steps two at a time to head up into the upper-level walkways above downtown. Partially, these had been made to allow for military and defense forces to move conveniently between the wide expanses of Franksburg’s borders in times of trouble, but they were currently mostly used as the equivalent of a highway for walking downtown.

If you were moving close, you stuck to the ground level. The walkways allowed you to skip a lot of the local traffic.

There were currently plans in the works to use some of the technology from Zone 1 to make a trolley system in Franksburg, but the City Council was still barely able to figure out how much it should be taxing. A huge expenditure like that made them gulp.

Tessa reached the eastmost rallying point in time. Lucifer was there, the Hero of Franksburg, looking that weird combination of bored and surly that he always did. He made her twitch somewhat because it reminded her of meeting him with Randidly, but Tessa did her best to ignore it. And to ignore the fact that Lucifer was cut from the cloth as Randidly, in that they could act without bothering with laws.

But next to him was Commander Kimmen, a German-born individual who was in charge of Franksburg’s second army. Rumor had it that he had recently reached Level 45. His Class, Determined Soldier, made him a popular and effective leader. The two men were talking as the rest of the army, almost 1000 men and women, began to march.

Tessa bit her lips. It was hard not to remember that she was only Level 19 at times like this. After taking a deep breath, she walked forward to interrupt these two powerful individuals.


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