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A note from puddles4263

3/14

Randidly pondered the sheets in front of him. In terms of amount of time, he had spent very little going over the dossiers that Mrs. Hamilton had provided to him, as he chose the people who would join him on his trek through the Raid Dungeon. More so, he had admired her fearsome ability to list out an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and other notable facts about them.

“Well…” Randidly said slowly. “I think of the top tier, I’d prefer Alana to come along. In addition, she can have an extra spot to give away to anyone that she thinks best. Clarissa, as well. Her brand of magic, and the variety she has access to is invaluable. Ptolemy might be her second, but his healing Skills are definitely worth bringing…”

Mrs. Hamilton made a dismissive gesture. “The magicians don’t really need a leader. They will be able to make it without much guidance. Including you and Lucifer, who is on his way, that puts the number at 6. There are 4 more spots. This is a Zone wide thing, you know. We should consider the political ramifications if we don’t invite a representative from the Northern Villages.”

Randidly rubbed his forehead. “Don’t I have you guys so I can avoid this? The real problem is they don’t really have anyone who can keep up with us, both in Level and equipment-”

“Speaking of-”

Both Randidly and Mrs. Hamilton turned to the new voice. Sam stood there, hands behind his back, the leather apron he wore displaying the clear signs of recent burns. Randidly grinned at him.

“Have something for me?” Although Randidly hadn’t explicitly stated it, he had hinted that he was looking for a total upgrade in terms of equipment. Training spears could be made of roots, but if he could have a spear that would give him additional benefits…

“Something like that,” Sam said with a nod. Then he glanced at Mrs. Hamilton, and then back at Randidly. “...I have to agree with Mrs. Hamilton, however. As fucked as it is, we can’t just do what we want.”

With an exaggerated motion, Randidly sighed. But then he nodded.

“Speaking of…” Mrs. Hamilton glanced at Sam. Randidly felt a flash of annoyance. If they already had an idea of what was going to happen, why were they bothering to consult him…?

You baby otherwise. Neveah said in a matter of fact tone, causing Randidly to snort. Well, perhaps that was true. He would much rather be included in the discussions than feel like they were controlling what was going on with this Dungeon, especially because the stakes were so high, and neither of them would be on the expedition.

But that line of thoughts made Randidly wonder how strong both of them were. Although it hadn’t been confirmed, he suspected that both of them had obtained Classes, and good ones, based upon the jumps in Aether that they were consuming. Although neither appeared to leave Donnyton, one of the buildings bought by the Village gave quests and missions, and generally very specific ones. In this way, they could slowly accumulate experience and level in a way that didn’t expose them to danger.

They also both had training areas, and theoretically, they could be practicing there, or sparring. Or they should be, at least. Everyone should have some basic level of strength…

More issues for another time…

“Speaking of,” Sam picked up the line of conversation, “A delegation is coming down from the North. Should be arriving now. Do you want to be there to meet them, or just-”

“Let’s see the equipment first,” Randidly said. Sam nodded.

*****

Dinesh wondered why his Class hadn’t ended up being Babysitter.

“Its fucked, isn’t it?” Tykes said, grinding his teeth as he looked at the swarm of people preparing the best packs for the group of 10 that would head North to the Raid Dungeon. “People like us are just as strong as any of the top people here. But do you think they would ever pick someone like us?”

As Dinesh watched Health, Stamina, and Mana potions get placed into the bags, he wondered if Tykes wanted to make this a weird racial thing. In Dinesh’s mind, it was eminently clear why neither of them had been chosen for the expedition, or wouldn’t be, because the final lists hadn’t been released yet.

Dinesh wouldn’t be chosen because he was good as a mage and a fighter, but where he really was great at battlefield management and tactics. Only good enough for 5th place at the Tactics Assessment, but more than enough to impress everyone around him.

Hell, with the combination of his Assessment finish, earning top 10 finishes in everything but the Combat Assessment, and his association with Paolo and Kayle, had earned Dinesh a relatively unlooked for respect from most people. Which is why the upper tiered people at Donnyton, like Dozer and Alana, had been greeting him politely. And Tykes had adopted him as a “friend”.

Mostly, Dinesh suspected, because he was a very quiet guy, and would let Tykes talk, and was one of the only other brown people in Donnyton. Which didn’t seem like a big deal… until Tykes’ anger made it clear that it was something worth paying attention to.

Which led to the reason that Tykes wouldn’t be chosen: he was a hotheaded, angry teenager.

“Ah, fuck man, I know it's not like that, but it's just… so frustrating.” Tykes balled his hands into fists. “I want to do something, help the town. Killing monsters is important, I get that, but… there are bigger enemies out there, aren’t there? We should-”

Both Dinesh and Tykes looked up at the same time, their expressions becoming serious.

“So… this is Donnyton?” There was something about that voice, a heaviness, that hung in the air over the area, making the air turn just a hair colder. Standing in the middle of the teleportation formation were three individuals.

The first was a tall, athletic looking man that had a biker helmet over his head. To his side there was a slim, pretty young woman with a clipboard, and a bored looking man that could only be a guard. But it was abundantly clear from the helmeted man’s stance that he meant to start a fight.

Instantly, Dinesh could sense Tyke’s anger finding an outlet, as the younger man started walking to the newly arrived group. Hastily, Dinesh followed after him.

“Oh, what’s this?” The helmeted man, ignoring the annoyed gesturing of one of the workers, walked over to one of the packs and removed a small vial of powder, shaking it, and holding it up to the sun.

“Sir-” The worker said, exasperated, but the helmeted guy shrugged and put the vial into his pocket.

“It’s shiny, and I like it. It’s mine now. Do you have a problem with that?”

On the worker’s face, there were several emotions. First annoyance, then confusion, then a flash of fear. Which was right about the point that Tykes’ huge iron ball, thrown from afar, careened towards the man’s unguarded back.

Snorting, the muscular guard stepped forward, and pressed out a hand. Instantly, the ball stopped dead, its momentum spent, and fell to the ground. Tykes hissed.

“Kinetic controller. Little bitch. That one’s yours, Dinesh. That thieving asshole is mine.”

Dinesh, who had been chasing Tykes, had unwittingly walked past his companion as the man stopped to throw his large iron ball. Now, Dinesh was standing only a few meters away from the muscular guard, whose gaze shifted from Tykes to Dinesh, and was sizing him up.

As he opened his mouth to speak, he saw the man disappear, and his instincts from long training sessions kicked in; instantly, the hand he kept pointing behind him released an Arcane Orb. There was a sound of impact, and a large grunt, and Dinesh spun away, blindly avoiding the reaching hand of the man.

That… was close. It was luck, more than anything else, that meant he had avoided the grab. Otherwise… when he looked at the man’s large and calloused hands, Dinesh shivered.

“He has some sort of… spell holster.” The woman said, frowning down at her clipboard. “He has 5 more spells stored there right now, and can use them instantly. The way it’s set up prevents me from seeing into it. Also… a danger sense that is tied to a perception Skill… hard to tell the specifics. Dauntless that one-”

“No worries,” The helmeted man waved his hand, stalking towards Tykes, who was baring his teeth at the visor. “I’d prefer to do this raw. More fun.”

Instantly, Dinesh’s nervousness increased. That girl had instantly intuited his Skill somehow, and could even discern how many charges he had left. Meanwhile, the other man was clearly the leader, and wanted to take on Tykes in a frontal confrontation alone… Fights weren’t common in Donnyton these days, but they also weren’t unheard of, mostly between Captains of rival Squads. So people had gathered, and a few jogged away to inform their superiors, but no one was really worried.

A few were even starting to cheer. A few… characters had appeared, and were riling up tensions.

“Ohohoh…. So our boy Dinesh has challenged this muscle bound monster to a personal duel…? My, how he has grown... His boldness gives me the shivers…” Paolo said, rubbing his chin.

Kayle sighed. “It’s somewhat bittersweet… I suppose this is what a mama bird feels like when the baby has left the nest…”

The giant bone wurm, Neveah, whom the previous two individuals were riding, shook her head sorrowfully. “No enemies left. We watch.”

“The tragedy of the tardy,” Kayle opined. The other two nodded sagely.

Dinesh wanted to cry, but the man stepped forward, and then disappeared.

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