Shovels In Spades



Book 3 Chapter 51: Alteration and Fiona's Struggle


A note from Lone

First guaranteed chapter of the week.

Daz held his chin as he watched Madison happily devour a bowl of cereal before she was given a massive mug filled with hot chocolate and marshmallows.

He himself had refused Head Chef's kind offers to make him breakfast since he didn't need to eat and wasn't particularly craving the taste of food right now.

"So, you maxed most of your stats?" Daz asked in a soft tone.

Madison nodded lightly as she peeled her lips away from her mug, revealing a hot chocolate moustache. "Status, look?"

Daz tried his best not to laugh at how cute his girlfriend looked as he replied, "Yeah. You don't mind, do you?"

She shook her head and took another sip of her drink. "No, fine. Don't, mind."

"Thanks. I know you told me it was okay to look before, but I'm trying my best to be considerate of people's feelings now, so let me know if I ever bother you," Daz requested.

Madison smiled with her eyes as she said, "Impossible. Daz, bother, never."

Not wanting to embarrass her in front of the kitchen staff while she was in the middle of drinking a hot beverage, Daz suppressed the urge to kiss her for the moment. "I had a couple of questions regarding your status before we talk about your power. I'm assuming you don't mind answering?"

"For, you? No. Please, ask," Madison responded word by word.

"Cool. Well, first, why didn't you raise your Holiness, and second, why did you get Perception and Creativity to fill your empty stat slots? Perception I can kinda understand, but if you've maxed Creativity and it caps out at two-fifty... then isn't that a horribly inefficient stat for a Wingless Angel?" This was really eating away at Daz since none of his assumptions had resulted in any confirmation from his instincts.

Madison's cheeks flushed red. "Holiness, useless. Only, good, religion. Perception, help, fights. Creativity... Want, hobby. Sword, practice, fun... But, not, hobby." She turned to look at Daz and asked in an unsure voice, "Hobby, bad?"

Daz couldn't resist at this point. He wrapped his arms around the lovely little creature that was Madison and grinned. "No. It's not bad at all. Do you have any hobby in mind?"

"Um..." Trying her best to not have a meltdown from being watched so warmly by the kitchen staff as she was being embraced, she stuttered, "P-Painting."

Daz put his hands on her shoulders then kissed her gently. "You taste like chocolate... But, yeah, painting sounds great. Show me later, 'kay?"

Some of her embarrassment faded after getting some genuine support from Daz, so Madison weakly nodded in response as she sipped her hot chocolate carefully once more.

A few minutes passed as Daz asked her several more unimportant questions, but regardless, he still found everything that she said to be incredibly interesting.

He had to wonder if this was due to love, or simply because Madison was genuinely a very fascinating person. Either way, he finally approached the subject that he was most curious about.

"So, your 'Alteration'. Can you tell me how it works first?" Daz requested seriously.

"Mmm." Madison happily nodded her head. "Alter, core, things. Energy, usage, high. Small, changes, forty, times, big, changes, three, times."

Daz wore a thoughtful expression as he pondered over Madison's words. "Okay. I think I get it. So, like, you can alter the laws - the core, of things? Anything? Or are there set limits to what you can alter?"

Madison nodded again. "Mmm, limits. Example, Earth. Example, system."

"Hmm... Could you alter a person to be unable to live, or is that outside of the scope of your power?" Daz asked somewhat morbidly.

Madison shook her head. "Can't, alter, living."

"Okay. That makes sense. So back when we were kids, when you stole all of that money from an ATM. Was that considered a small Alteration, or a large Alteration?" Daz questioned.

Madison held her chin for a moment before she recalled the moment Daz was referring to. "Large, plus, lots, of, small. Alter, cameras, too."

"Okay. And the Tank-class Automaton that almost killed me on day four of the first cycle?" Daz followed up immediately.

Madison had a sad look in her eyes upon remembering that she had been too late to save Daz from having half of his body horrifically burned. "Small, and, large. Made, sword, sharper. Made, robot, weaker."

"Huh... So it's a really powerful skill then if you alter several things at once instead of focusing on one thing," Daz noted. "I know you don't like talking about your family just as much as I do about mine, but is it common for people who have Alteration to be able to alter multiple things at once?"

Madison shook her head. "Don't, know. Mum... Mum, hated, me. Never, told, me. I, never, told, her, I, could. So, don't, know."

''Mum'? It's been a while since she last spoke with her original accent... I guess she's getting emotional. Well, the last thing I want to do is upset her, so let's change the subject,' Daz decided internally. "Thanks a lot, Maddy. You really helped me out by explaining all of that."

Her eyes still looked a bit sad as she finished her hot chocolate. "Mmm, happy." Madison then grabbed one of Daz's hands and held it in hers. "Alteration, powerful, but, not free."

Daz looked a bit perplexed. "I know. It costs internal energy to use, right?"

Madison lowered her head as she answered, "Not, that. To, alter, had, to, alter, myself. Can't, alter, living, but, to, alter, have, to alter, self, first."

Daz frowned. "What do you mean? As in, to use the power, you had to, what, change a part of who you are?"

"Mmm..." Madison seemed incredibly sad, but also happy to finally be telling Daz about this. "Expressions. Had, to, alter, so, I couldn't, make, them. That, choice."

Daz seemed surprised for a moment before he leaned in and pressed his forehead against hers. "I always assumed that was linked to your speaking impediment, but it wasn't huh?"

"Mmm," Madison replied passively and with a bit of anxiousness in her voice.

Daz suddenly kissed her. "I love you regardless of if you can smile or not. Your eyes speak far louder than your gorgeous face ever could. It's never bothered me before and never will, so don't worry about it, okay?"

Madison almost burst out into tears right then and there. Despite the kitchen staff keeping an eye on the two, Madison locked her lips with Daz's. It was several seconds before she finally pulled back and said, "Love, you."

"Haha, I love you too," Daz replied.

The two stayed like that for a short while before Daz broke the silence.

"Well, I need to wait for Edward to come back now, but I have no idea if he'll even return until tomorrow." Daz smiled as he added, "I plan on looking through all of my skills and choosing a bunch that are at level ten to upgrade with merit points. I won't actually be upgrading them until tomorrow since I already put my points in the bank, but do you wanna help me pick which ones?"

Madison's eyes sparkled. She spun around to face Daz and she then bobbed her head up and down very enthusiastically. "Mmm! Would!"

"Great." Daz really did prefer a happy Maddy over a sad Maddy. "Let's go tell Crosius to let us know when Edward's back, then why don't we go up to the roof? After we're done talking about my skills, I wanna watch you paint. Creativity is boosted up on the rooftop's terrace."

Again, Madison failed to hide her joy. "Date!"

Daz chuckled. "Yeah, I guess you could call it a date."

The kitchen staff all breathed out sighs of relief at the relaxed atmosphere and the now lively Madison.

In truth, most of the keep's kitchen staff had come to adore Madison since she came here at least three or four times a day to get snacks, and, much like with Rimmy, everyone at Fort Skip, whether a resident of Earth or a slave to the system, they all fell head over heels for the adorable lover of the base's ruler.

"Oh, um, hi, Lor-, um, King Daz," Fiona awkwardly stumbled as she tucked her sketch-pad away and hastily got up. "And, em, hi Madison."

Daz smiled somewhat bitterly. 'She's still being so awkward... Why is she being like this? She can't possibly have a crush on me, can she? No, thought not. And it'd be rude of me to just outright ask her, even if I'd get the answer regardless of if she lied to me... Why the hell does this bug me as much as it does?'

Despite having most of his emotions under control now, there were still several things that the young reaper simply could not come to understand so quickly, Fiona's sudden shift in attitude included.

"Hi," Daz replied as casually as he could while he tried to fix his smile.

Madison bopped her head around, making Mr Barrier who was on top of it jiggle amusingly. "Evening."

"Ah, right... Dad's shift is probably over now..." the teenager whispered in realisation. She picked up her belongings and smiled politely. "Um, I need to go home to have dinner. It was, uh, nice to see you both."

'Ha-ah... Is she trying to avoid me? No? Okay. Well, at least that's good. And stopping her won't help me strengthen her and her father's loyalty and trust in me? No. Okay then. Another time I suppose.' Daz waved her goodbye in a friendly manner. "Tell Bob I said hi."

Madison cocked her head to the side in confusion as she wondered who Bob was, but Fiona just smiled as she slipped past the two and said, "Sure, I will."

"That, who?" Madison asked as she found a bench and sat down.

Daz took a spot next to her and said, "That was Fiona, the daughter of the former mayor of Waterford, Robert Mathers."

Madison wore a blank expression. "Who?"

Daz laughed faintly. "She's our only serious entertainer thus far with her light shows, though she's only done one performance, while Robert, or Bob, is our best miner besides the foreman, Chris. Have you not explored Fort Skip before?"

Madison shook her head. "Restaurant, keep, barracks, walls. Nothing, else."

Daz leaned back into the bench's spine and smirked. "Is that so? Let's go on more dates in the future then. There're a few interesting buildings in Fort Skip that you haven't been to yet, and I plan to build a bunch more in Waterford tomorrow or the day after."

Madison wished that she still knew how to physically emote so incredibly badly right now so that she could smile. "Love, that."

"I thought you might." Daz enjoyed the relaxing yet excited tone of Madison's angelic voice entering his ears. "Anyway, let's start picking what skills I should upgrade, shall we?"

Naturally, Madison agreed to his suggestion.

"I'm home," Fiona said as she unlocked the front door to her and her father's house.

"Ah, welcome back, Sweetie," her father, Bob shouted from across the house. A few moments later, he walked out of a door down the hallway with an apron on. "You're back earlier than usual."

Fiona scratched her cheek a bit shyly. "Daz and Madison showed up on the roof. I think they were on a date or something, so I didn't want to get in their way. Daz says hi, by the way."

Bob smiled. "How considerate of you. Well, since I'm in the middle of making dinner, do you wanna help? Tonight's mac'n'cheese."

The young girl's expression livened up upon hearing that. "Sure. I'd love to."

After taking her shoes off and putting her stuff in her bedroom, she joined her father in the kitchen where he asked her, "So, have you considered signing up for the school? I hear now that King Daz has brought in all of those foreigners, Sally has six new teachers willing to work there."

Frowning lightly, Fiona replied, "Maybe. I'm a bit busy working on planning my light shows or drawing."

Bob nodded, "Okay. Do whatever makes you the happiest, Sweetie. I'll be going there to increase my strength stat to help with my job."

Fiona failed to hide her smile as she watched the pasta boiling. 'It's so great to have Dad actually be a dad now... I really need to thank Daz at some point, but he's so hard to talk to...'

Perhaps one day the teenaged girl would build up the courage to let her ruler know how thankful she was for giving her and her father a place to live, a place to grow as people, and, most importantly to her, an opportunity to actually spend some time together as father and daughter.

A note from Lone

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  • The Scottish Slothy Sloth

Bio: Hey there, nice to see you. I'm just an ordinary man who enjoys writing, which is great since it's my full-time job now thanks to the support from you guys over on Patreon! I hope you enjoy my novels if you read them, and if not, I hope you enjoy looking at my profile.

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