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A note from puddles4263

4/4

And we're back.

Dragging the man back to his cabin was more difficult than he anticipated. Truly, though Simon had the strength in his gangly, 14 year old body that a grown man would have, he still didn’t have the size to heft him over his shoulder, and could only drag him.

Which wasn’t good for his wounds, so Simon stopped periodically, checking him, before continuing his journey. Once back at the cabin, Simon stripped the man as best he could, cutting away the ripped leathers, revealing the wounds. Simon winced. Jagged, but healing on his side and shoulder.

The real problem was that head pain, Simon guessed. Maybe some internal bleeding or something. Far beyond his skill in conventional means, but…

Simon brought out some of his Mending Fluid. He had three types. The basic, the concentrated, and his masterpiece, a highly concentrated mixture that Simon believed would revive the dead. He looked at all three, torn.

It took a lot to make any of these. He had 10 regular vials, which was enough to make a single concentrated. He had three of those, but it would take 10 of those vials to make his strongest concentration. That pain though…

Feeling like he wanted to play it safe, Simon gave the man all three of his concentrated potions, then settled to wait. In the meantime, he created more Mending Fluid and Meditated, slowly wondering who this man was.

It was clear from his hard, muscled body, that he was extremely active. Perhaps a Classer from one of the nearby villages then? But he wasn’t someone that Simon recognized. Not that so many people came here these days, mostly the same faces of the traders…

What cemented this man’s status as a Classer in Simon’s mind were the dozens of crisscrossing scars on the man’s body. In fact, there were so many that Simon began to wonder whether the man hadn’t fought even BEFORE the System came. It just seemed… too complete, for about 6 months. His body had grown up receiving scars as if it was natural.

A day passed, Simon barely sleeping, the man’s breathing easing somewhat, but still remaining unconscious. Surreptitiously, Simon tried Sense Ailment, already flinching.

Which he was right to. Once more, Simon was sent to the ground, barely sensible. Only after a few seconds of twitching, could he stand again.

“Fine.” Simon growled. “You’ve forced me to use my big guns.”

Both the extra concentrated mixture, and another concentrated mixture that Simon had made these past few days, went into the man.

So it went, for three weeks, Simon putting off his travels to treat this man, each day making a concentrated mixture, refusing to use Sense Ailments again. It was… scary. But Simon had to admit that if there was real brain damage, then honestly, there was nothing that he could really do to help the man….

But after 21 days, the man stirred. Simon moved closer, curious, just in time to see the man’s eyes spring open, wild and vicious, glowing a strange, unnatural, mint green color. The wave of bloodlust that seemed to radiate off the man sent Simon stumbling backwards, scooting along the ground to get farther away.

The man’s eyes were strangely confused, but that slowly cleared as he winced, raising a hand to his head. He held that posture for several minutes, seemingly content to just concentrate and let himself sit.

“Here,” Simon said aloud, careful not to startle him. Most of the bloodlust had left the air, but still… Simon held up a bowl of vegetable stew and another vial of his concentrated potion.

Without blinking, the man’s eyes turned to Simon, seeming to take the boy in, who shifted awkwardly. A lot of people were confused how his arms and legs were so skinny, but he had plenty of pudge on his torso. It was something that had haunted Simon through all of middle school, and high school had been looking pretty similar before the System hit.

He had even lost some weight, and put on some muscle too. Not that you could really tell… Not muscle like this guy had, either, of which Simon was slightly envious.

After about 30 seconds of careful study, the man seemed to relax and took both the food and the vial, but set the food to the side. Simon made a mental note of that. Only when your Vitality was about 30 could you go for a while without eating, and this man had gone 3 weeks without any food but the fluid and some water Simon gave him. How much Vitality did he have…? Maybe upwards of 50…?

Then Simon’s eyes widened with shock, because the man flicked the vial, then concentrated, and a single vial of the concentrated liquid focused further, becoming a glowing golden drop of liquid. This did, however, set off a chain reaction in the man, where he leaned back, grimacing, seemingly wracked by pain. Still, he maintained a grip on the vial, and lifted it to his mouth, drinking the single drop of the stuff.

Within 10 seconds, his face eased, and the man sighed, rubbing his brow. He nodded gratefully then picked up the bowl of food and devoured it within a minute. Then he leaned back in his bed, sighing.

“...I’m Simon, by the way…” Simon offered, in a small voice.

The man didn’t straighten, but looked up at him from where he was lying. There seemed to be something of an ironic smile on his face.

Finally he spoke. “...David.”

“Nice to meet you David,” Simon said meekly. “It takes a lot of Mana, but… I’ll make you some more of that fluid when I can....”

The man’s eyes brightened at that, and he waved a hand. Abruptly, Simon realized that the man had an interspatial ring. A Classer for sure, then. Watching carefully, Simon’s mouth dropped. For the man had removed around 20 Mana potions, out of the blue, without a thought. Then the man collapsed, returning to fitful sleep.

Simon almost dropped David’s potions when he picked them up, because they restored over 100 Mana per consumption.

“Holy fuck.” Simon whispered. But again, that small spark of desire that had been smothered inside of him at the arrival of the man flared back to life. If this was the power of the equipment available to Classers…. Simon had to leave this place, no matter how scared he was.

****

Randidly groaned, taking stock of himself. It wasn’t good, but he was beginning to cope with the worst of the effects.

When Randidly had used his skill, and that Aegiant fellow had struck back at his image, Aegiant had forcibly shattered it. Not just the image itself, but the flow of Aether inside Randidly’s soul that channeled and produced it. Literally, the skill construct inside of him had been blown to smithereens, hundreds of small pieces of Aether scattering inside of him.

Which normally would be fine, because the pain only came when the broken skill was activated. But these small bits had flown into other skill structures, becoming lodged in them. And every time he activated a skill with a bit inside of it, there was a resonance with the broken skill, which caused the pain to spike precipitously.

Additionally, it kept him from concentrating hard enough to see his notifications, or bringing up his menus. All in all, Randidly was basically just a person before the System now, who didn’t dare use his Skills for fear of that vicious mental agony, far worse than anything he had ever experienced.

The active skills were easy, but the reason the pain had been so bad initially was probably because Bacterial Regeneration was working overtime while Randidly was out, remaking his body. Thankfully, this kid had a strange elixir that helped ease the pain and heal the wound, but…

It would take time. Randidly experimented briefly while he lay there for the next hour or so, carefully touching a fragment of the destroyed skill in Bacterial Regeneration. The pain immediately flared to life, but it was at a manageable level, rather than the strange resonance pain.

Slowly, ponderously, he pressed it, moving it, careful not to jostle it too much, spiking the pain. Of course, it was still miserable, but…

It would move.

Randidly collapsed, exhausted. Well, it would move slowly, but giving him access to that skill would probably take him 8 hours of concerted agony, slowly moving the bits out of the way, into the empty space inside of him. And Bacterial Regeneration was towards the outside, with some of the fewest pieces inside of it. Some of the others....

A long, slow recovery, Randidly thought grimly. Which was why he had lied about his name to Simon, although the kid seemed nice enough. Although he had his high stats, Randidly didn’t have access to skills, or even his menu at the moment. Best to be safe.

Especially if his vision about Lyra and the Creature was true…

In addition, Randidly wanted to determine what was going on within the Zone before he did anything else. There had been other villages, and he wanted to check on how they were developing.

If anything, being dropped away from Donnyton like this was a blessing. Less a chance that someone recognizes him here, while he needed time to recuperate. Sighing, Randidly lay back and let himself drift off to sleep.

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puddles4263

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