“I have never seen someone with this much Heartstone residue in their system. You should be dead. Maybe it’s a human thing.”
Garth sat in the doctor’s office on a hard wood table with dried blood caked between the panels. The walls had real wallpaper on them, unlike the rest of the guild, and there were diagrams of alien anatomy pinned up here and there.
Doctor Kine was one of the hunched over lankey blue aliens, Shinta, he’d called himself. He held a hand over Garth’s forehead, a bright light emanating from his palm as he extracted the poison.
“No offence, but how can you diagnose a species you’ve never seen before?”
“What…Oh! I’m not sure how your reality worked back home but in The Spheres, everything is an extension of thought, pure psychic energy.”
“I don’t feel like pure energy.”
“Of course you don’t. That’s normal for low level adventurers and people from other realities. Anyway, my point is, a poison or a sickness, or even a wound, exists more as an idea than some immutable fact.”
Garth glanced at the perfectly smooth shoulder where four days before had been nasty gashes.
“If everything is an idea, it affects everyone the same?”
“Basically,” Doctor Kine said, picking up his notepad and jotting down some notes before shining a finger-light into Garth’s eyes to check his pupils.
“Then why would me being a human have an effect?”
“While the same poison will affect everyone the same across the board, there are still different tolerance levels between species. Tell me, how much does your kind like recreational drugs?”
“Umm…a lot.” Garth couldn’t help but be a bit ashamed for his species, but the doctor just jotted it down with the same dispassion as someone making a grocery list.
“And are humans often purple?”
“This is from Beladia’s Blessing,” Garth said, pointing at his skin. “Normally we run the gamut from very light brown to very dark brown.”
Doctor Kine arched an eyebrow. “You mean to tell me that you’re an Apostle of Beladia? And you’re still alive?” he glanced back at his note sheet. “That fills in some of the blanks.”
“Why, is that rare?”
“They’re uncommon to say the least. She doesn’t get a lot of people who want her gifts, young adventurers are more interested in Hastia or Kolath for the added firepower. Beladia can be…flighty, and the people she favors tend to not be the kind that live long.
The big blue alien pulled a stool up beside Garth and began looking into his ears with an otoscope.
“So, what did you specialize in? I hear you don’t have a Class.” He said conversationally, putting the ear-thing down and holding out a glowing hand, running it up and down Garth’s body, which was currently sans filthy skirt.
“Intelligence.” Garth said.
“Interesting. On overdose of Heartstone residuals in an Intelligence specialized body should have driven you more than a bit loopy while your body was trying to acclimatize. Did anything strange happen to you, visions, hallucinations, anything like that?”
Garth glanced over at Wilson, who held his index claw up to his mouth, the universal sign to ‘shut the hell up’. Then the little lizard drew a thumb across his neck, the universal sign for ‘I’ll kill you if you say one more word’.
“Yeah, a few. I’ve been seeing squiggly things in everything, and a lizard I’m now half sure isn’t real.”
“I see. Well, the good news is that you’re not crazy. Those squiggles are Mana, the energy inherent in all of creation. The building blocks of our reality. You must have unlocked Mana Sight when you Evolved. Near-death experiences can do that.
“What’s the bad news?” Garth asked.
“Your mind wasn’t ready to handle superintelligence, and so it made a psychic construct to defend itself, rather than overloading your mind and driving you into gibbering lunacy.”
“In the adventuring business, we call them familiars.”
Garth glanced at Wilson. Why did you threaten me, you little shit? Wilson shrugged.
“Why is it bad news?”
“It’s bad news like occasionally wetting the bed is bad news. You should functionally be the same as any other person with an I.Q. above two hundred and climbing, but you’ll talk to yourself every now and then, and behave a little oddly.”
“If that’s the worst of it, I’ll be fine.” Garth said, holding out his hand and letting Wilson climb up his arm to perch on his shoulder again.
“Alright.” Dr. Kine said, standing up and putting away his tools, waiting for Garth to dress.
“Go talk to Sandi, and she’ll get you set up with a Class, then you can start working for the Guild. She’ll explain the rules. Since you’ve unlocked Mana Sight, I suggest you go for-”
“Wizard. Fuck yeah.” Garth would have popped his collar if he had one.
“…Sure.” Dr. Kine said with a shrug and saw Garth out the door to his office.
“A Class is a more sophisticated version of the Specialization you chose when you first joined the Spheres, It provides you with talents that will allow you to pick up skills and traits associated with the class more easily, in exchange for making it harder to grow in other ways. Unlike the Specialization, Classes actually have penalties, so some people choose not to take them at all.”
Sandi was explaining the Class system to him while Wilson’s head bobbed up and down in time to the horrific insect monster’s illusory breasts.
“Development of attributes not associated with the class will be somewhat stunted, along with a somewhat diminished capacity for learning skills.”
“So it’s a way of turning yourself into an idiot savant, got it,” he said. “What are the classes?”
“Here you go.” Sandi slid a piece of paper with a list of classes and their descriptions across the table.
-Warrior- Enhances Strength, Speed, and Senses. Focused on adaptability in combat, the Warrior is excellent at one on one combat, able to switch between long and short range at a moment’s notice. Talents: Blades, Ranged Weapons, Spears, Clubs….the list went on.
-Soldier- Enhances Strength, Endurance, and Memory. A high Endurance provides a safety net for the professional fighter, while Memory allows quick training, efficient long-term warfare in large groups. Veterans sometimes use their enhanced Memory to memorize spells without understanding the theory, allowing for some life-saving tricks. Talents: Spears, Armor, Riding, Formations, Repair, First Aid...
“Boring…” Garth said, scrolling his finger past all the fighters.
-Spellblade- Enhances Speed, Endurance, and Intelligence. A reliable loner class, the Spellblade can safely navigate wilds and dungeons with their speed and endurance rather than strength, using their enhanced Intelligence to harness a variety of simple magics. Talents: Blades, Ranged Weapons, Mana wielding, First Aid…
“Close, but not quite. Looking for core casters.” Garth muttered. Wilson nodded in agreement. Or maybe he was still staring at Sandi.
“What’s a core caster?” Sandi asked.
“Game term for someone who specializes in magic and only magic.”
“Oh, turn the list over.” Sandi said, and Garth did so.
-Spellslinger- Enhances Speed, Intelligence, and Senses. A Class that is adept at ranged combat, raining powerful spells down from a distance with great speed. If mana is insufficient, the class has great talent for marksmanship. Talents: Mana Wielding, Ranged Weapons, Kinetic sight…etc.
“That one’s a maybe.” Garth said as he worked his way through the spellcasting classes. He was tempted by a Druid class with a boost to Nature spells, but his eyes widened when he found the one he wanted.
“This.” Garth said, jabbing his finger into the Archmage class. “This one.”
-Archmage- Enhances Intelligence, Memory and Senses, bringing the mind closer to the font of magic than any other class. Archmages receive a boost to all spells, and are able to learn powerful spells quickly, and even create entirely new spells and magical artifacts with enough practice. The poor physical traits, and lack of Combat Talents make them unsuited for the adventuring lifestyle, leading them to focus mainly on studying the nature of Mana and developing new spells. Talents: Mana Channel, Mana Wielding, Spell Theory.
Sandi looked down at the Archmage class, her pouting lips frowning. “Are you sure? It doesn’t say this, but being an Archmage isn’t cheap, you know? Spell books are spendy, and it takes months to completely master spells, and you’re not exactly going to have time to prepare yourself before the Dungeon Rush.”
“Listen up, Sandi,” Garth said, motioning her closer. Sandi leaned closer, putting the bare skin of her cleavage inches away from Garth’s face. He imagined she was actually looming over him, drool dribbling from her foot-long fangs. But whatever, she seemed like a nice, misunderstood girl.
“I always run a wizard.”
“But,” she said, and Garth held up a hand.
“How much are spellbooks?” he asked.
“The book for a single spell can range from eight hundred Credits, to tens of thousands, all the way up to the priceless manuscripts of Archmage Castavelle. They don’t even sell those. And don’t get me started on how expensive they would be to ship to the Outer Sphere.”
Garth narrowed his eyes. “I can make it work. I want this one.”
Sandi heaved a sigh and rolled her eyes.
“Okay, but a Class is a once in a lifetime thing. I hope you know what you’re doing. That’ll be four hundred Credits for the Class Imprint.” She said as she reached under the desk, giving Garth an excellent view of her lower back leading into the thong that disappeared under her tight, tight jeans.
“Since you’re a native, the Guild is willing to loan you the credits in exchange for-“ She lifted an enormous black orb on a solid iron base, pausing when she saw the money in Garth’s hand.
“Nevermind,” she said, setting the sphere on the counter with an impact Garth felt in his feet. How heavy was that thing? Garth handed her the cash, and Sandi made a quick note on a piece of paper and slid the coins under the table.
“Now put your hands on the orb and keep them there until I give the all clear.” She said sweetly, giving Garth some misgivings. The all clear? Is it gonna explode or fry my brain or something?
Garth took a deep breath, swallowed his trepidations and put his hands on the black sphere. He’d trusted her not to kill him this far, hadn’t he? He stood there a moment, waiting for something to happen. The guild members all paused their conversations, turning to watch the strange human receive his Class.
“Is something supposed to happen, because-“
“Wait for it…” Sandi said, holding up a finger.
Garth frowned. “I don’t-“
A blast of lightning surged up Garth’s arms. The electricity traveled through his veins, lighting up his forearms from the inside. The lightning traveled up his arms, and rather than going through his heart, they continued up to his brain, scorching shut every nerve ending and frying every synapse as power beyond comprehension flooded his soul.
Garth couldn’t take his hands off the sphere if he wanted to.
In front of his open eyes, the Guildhall faded away, darkening as a door of pure light seemed to open in front of him. Beyond that threshold, he understood everything, including the meaning of his life, and the powers that could be his. He felt as though some cosmic entity of light had stepped through, gently but powerfully reached right into his brain and reshaped his being in the image of his choice.
The white hot light invaded his mind, scouring away everything that was impure, leaving Garth in the perfect image of his flawed self. Somehow, he was complete while the light was there, and without it, he would be once again vulnerable to the whims of fate, shaped in the image of his circumstances, part Garth and part animal, vying for scraps from the dinner table.
Without warning, as suddenly as it had come, the light dimmed, pulling out of Garth and heading for the door in front of him.
“NO!” he shouted, tears running down his cheek as the door began closing, leaving only the hollow sensation of loss. “Come back, goddamnit!”
He blinked once, then again, and he was once again standing in the guildhall with his hands tight around the black sphere. His throat was hoarse. Was I screaming?
Sandi was pressing a hand to his forehead, watching him with concern. “That took far longer than it should have. I think maybe someone in the Divine realm took a personal interest in you. How do you feel?”
Garth peeled his hands away from the black sphere, panting.
“Ready for that date.” Garth gave her a grin amid catcalls from the spectators, setting his shaking hands on the table to steady them.
|Garth Daniels||One Star Iron Soldier of the Inner Sphere||Blessings of Beladia||Photosynthesis, Temperature resistance, Empowered Plant Magic, Pheremones, Hyper-fertility.|
|Endurance||12(-)||Skills||Plant Analysis, Mana Wielding, Mana Channel, Spell Theory *NEW|
|Intelligence||22 (+)||Evolutions||Mana Sight *NEW|
|Senses||15 (+) +3||Inner Sphere Bank Account||5232 credits|