Luckily, it seemed that the man in front of the inn, Kirkland, was widely hated, and Teo readily accepted the fact that Simon had David break Kirkland’s arm to demonstrate his healing. After all, Kirkland couldn’t deny that they healed him while also claiming they maliciously attacked them.
Teo herded the still huffing and trembling Kirkland away, then turned and spoke to David. “The Village Spirit will be down soon. You owe me a favor. And you know what I want.”
David seemed to sigh, and Teo grinned wider, before leaving. Simon frowned, and spoke while everyone else left.
“He wants something? From you?”
David nodded glumly, then punched his fist into his hand with an audible wack, then pointed to himself, and then out the door. Simon’s eyes widened. “He wants to fight you?”
Smiling wryly, David sat and began to focus his attention inward, his expression becoming clouded. Simon was already used to David doing this at every free moment, and it seemed to have some effect on the man’s recovery, so Simon let him be.
Instead, Simon wondered idly why Teo would be so excited about a fight to request it as a favor, especially after seeing David play with Chrysanthemum, and now shattering a man’s arm. His Strength was high…. Maybe as high as 60… or even… 70…?
Simon shuddered, right when a small child skipped into the room, taking in both of the people here with a single glance.
“Ha!” The girl laughed, pointing at David. “Oh wow, how did you get so fucked up on your inside? I can’t even pick it apart. You…. Someone shattered one of your skills, forcibly….? Hahaahah! What terrible luck. I can’t tell your level and Class with all of the interference, but with the average strength of this planet, you are doomed to die! Go have sex or something, enjoy your last weeks before the headaches get worse.”
David just seemed aggrieved, but ignored the child, as she came skipping towards Simon. Eventually she stopped, her eyes opening wide, too wide, taking him all in. She had no iris or pupils, just a pure white eyeball, to match her short white hair.
“Hmm…. Yes, I think you’ll do. You can have a Class if you want one. My power gives people some of the best Classes! Well, not the best Classes, per se, but I let you see a bit about each class before you choose. Wow, what a bonus. Okay ready?” The girl was looking at Simon expectantly.
Checking to make sure David’s face was still neutral, Simon nodded. After the girl gestured impatiently, he stepped forward and allowed her to press her hands to his shoulders, the little girl struggling up on her tiptoes to do so. For a second, nothing happened, but then it was like a circuit was completed, and he felt power passing between them.
There was a flash, and three Class options appeared in front of Simon. Before he had taken in any of that information, more information appeared below that, blurring for a second, then settling into readable forms.
Dreamer: A strange Class, which focuses on the imagination of the user. Skills and talents vary based on the user. Class Skills: 1. Skill Slots: 12. Stats per lvl: 3. Score: 56/100
Assassin: A Class specialized in stealth and surprise attacks. Given enough time, Assassins can kill almost anyone. Class Skills: 4. Skill Slots 6. Stats per lvl: 4. Score 69/100.
Wave Guardian: A powerful Class that combines physical and magical skills, these defensive individuals specialize in water magic and protection. Class Skills: 2. Skill Slots: 6. Stats per lvl 5. Score 75/100.
Simon glanced through the Classes very quickly, surprised. He had heard that the Classes you received came from three sources: a scan of you right when the System arrived, a random Class, and then a scan of your capabilities currently. And honestly, Simon was quite pleased with all three. It was also convenient that they were scored.
Immediately, Simon felt a powerful desire to be an Assassin, just from all the MMOs where he had played just that role, but he quickly silenced that notion. Especially because there was Wave Guardian, which was 6 points better, based on the scoring system that the Village Spirit possessed.
Plus, Wave Guardian was water focused, which was the direction Simon wanted to head anyway, and possessed an extra stat per level. Simon opened his mouth to make his choice.
The voice was softer than Simon would have expected, more youthful, and surprised him so much he stepped to the side awkwardly. But David was staring at him intently.
“Before you make your choice… the Village Spirit changed the scores at the last second. Originally… the score for Dreamer was 76.”
“Hey! You- Wait, how did you even see that? Do you have a detection skill?” The girl’s anger melted into curiosity within seconds, seemingly completely fine with being caught in her lie. When David didn’t say anything further, the girl shrugged, turning to Simon. “Well yes, he’s right, but I did it for your own good. Wave Guardian is the better option.”
“Especially for someone trying to defend a village.” David said, his voice still low. “Simon, that Class does not suit you.”
Suddenly Simon felt a sinking feeling in his chest. That was what this was about…? That he wasn’t strong enough for a combat Class…?
With his hands balled into fists, he said. “There are more Class skills and higher stat gains. Plus the Class is focused on water. I know I’m not…. Not very brave, or strong, or- or fucking like you, but I can learn, and then-!”
“Yea, you could. But you would not be happy. Learning to hurt others… is not worth it, when your gifts lie elsewhere.” David said quietly, his eyes closing. Abruptly, David seemed to have aged several years, the developing wrinkles in the corners of his eyes clear.
The girl started clapping. “Wow, so philosophical. Well, I’ll tell you another little secret, although this will hurt a bit. Mr. Emo Philosopher here is right, in a way: the Class skill you get is powerful enough, in its way, to raise the score that high. And-”
Grunting, the girl leaned forward, then tumbled to the ground, beginning to flail. David chuckled, then turned to Simon. “What she wanted to say, I bet, is that the skills you get every 10 levels will be similarly powerful. But of course… it’s your choice.”
Was it really his choice…? Simon supposed so, but he was faced with two choices, and he hated it. It felt like he was choosing between the person he was, the spoiled, useless brat before the System came… and the person he wanted to be.
Strong, confident, able to defeat enemies and help people. Powerful water magic, healing, protective spells… everything could be his, if he chose the Wave Defender. All he had to do was face his fear and fight.
Pressing his eyes closed, Simon, for the first time, forced himself to look at the image of that child, chased by the hippopotamuses, about to die. For that boy, didn’t he have to fight? Wasn’t he angry enough at the unfairness of the world, that he would fight for that kid?
But looking at the child, instead of that anger, there was only a cold dread. A thick layer of fear settled in his chest, stifling his ability to breathe. How could Simon ever hope to fight these monsters, even with a Class…?
Feeling somewhat defeated, Simon selected Dreamer.
Congratulations! You have received the Class of Dreamer. You have gained the skill Astral Projection Lvl 1. You may learn 12 additional skills to these and those you already possess. Skills may be forgotten to learn new skills. +6 Health per Level, +16 Mana Per Level, +6 Stamina per level. +2 Reaction, Wisdom, or Control per level (these points may be distributed between 2).
Astral Projection, Simon mused. But before he could try it, he was interrupted by the girl hopping to her feet and clapping.
“Perfect! Welcome to Star Crossing. There are some things I need to personally take care of, but I’ve assigned Thea Glasshammer to assist in helping you level, when she returns from visiting the Wild Hunter. She’s the one that brought you in, yes? Hopefully you will get along well. For now, feel free to fight some weaker monsters in the surrounding areas, and familiarize yourself with your new skill. Good luck~”
She turned to leave, and then called over her shoulder. “Oh and you… I sorta hope you don’t go insane from the pain and die, yanno?” Then she was gone.
David actually chuckled, and the two of them walked out of the main inn, receiving some surly looks from the guards. Apparently they had not done themselves any favors by attacking that dick head.
“Hey...thanks.” Simon said lamely. “I…. I think you are right, but I just wanted….”
David only nodded.
Simon scratched his head, as the two of them pushed their way through the stalls towards the edge of the Village. “If you could talk this whole time, why haven’t you….? Did I-”
David gave him a look, but it contained all the meaning it needed. I didn’t talk because I didn’t need to.
Nodding lamely, Simon followed the older man into the woods, thinking that he wished David would talk more, while simultaneously wishing he wouldn’t. The silence was nice, and Simon didn't feel the pressure to answer, but… it was a bit lonely. Still… at least they were doing this together.
Simon’s smile was bitter. Everything was like this for him. He both liked and hated every option, which meant he was just never satisfied. He had hoped that this would change with the System, but life was still life.