Morgan Mackenzie was having a pretty embarrassing day. The old witch, Moghren, had proven to be extremely curious about the conditions and limitations of her Skyclad class effects. The nude spellcaster was currently trying and failing horribly at eating soup with a spoon, while the old woman cackled with vicious amusement. Oddly enough, Morgan’s state of undress seemed to interest Moghren the least of all her class quirks.
In between dry chuckles Moghren managed to make various questions and comments. “I have never seen the like, granddaughter. Ye can hold the spoon, and look upon it, yet when ye try to eat thy hands twitch like ye’ve got the palsy!” More laughter followed another failed attempt, as the younger woman almost managed to get a spoonful of stew out of the bowl.
“Ugh!” Morgan exclaimed in frustration as the spoon fell back into the bowl, leaving her fingers numb and twitching uncomfortably. “I’m glad this is funny to you, old witch! I had no idea it would keep me from using spoons and shit! And another thing -- why aren’t you bothered by me being naked?”
At that, the crone’s smile lost some of its hardness.“Old I may be, but no stranger am I to prancing through the woods in nothing but my skin, young one. Warm springtime was the season for wild revel, to celebrate surviving the cold winters and embracing life and lust under the moonlight. No Christian monk is Moghren, to deny the joys of the flesh to any man or woman. Though, mine own age for such things is long past,” she finished wistfully.
“I don’t understand why I’m not embarrassed about it. Back on Earth, I would be scrambling for a blanket or a shirt, but now? Just thinking about it makes me feel uncomfortable and confined.”
Moghren did not seem surprised by this admission, either. “Ye chose the Class, child. The changes be writ upon thy very soul. The choice was made, the consequence accepted, and that choice was then etched into the fabric of thy being. That be how this world works. The rules here be different than the old world.”
The younger woman sat in thought while she gazed down at the spoon with a forlorn expression. Her musings were interrupted as the witch spoke once again.
“Have ye thought to move the spoon with thy magics, child?”
Morgan stared at her elder counterpart, then slapped herself on the forehead at the sudden revelation. “Duh! I should have tried that from the beginning!”
Her initial experiments with the wooden spoon provided no results. “...I can’t feel it with my Mana; it’s not like stone or dirt. There’s grains of Earth in it, but it feels different, somehow. I can’t hold onto them…”
The other woman had nodded as Morgan spoke. “Yes, ye can feel the grains. They be linked with the remnants of Life and Water in the wood. Do ye understand nothing of magic at all?”
Morgan shook her head. “Nothing except what I know from our made-up stories back home, and from things like cartoons-”
“What be these... cartoons?” Moghren asked, with a stilted emphasis on the final word. “The translation spell be quite convenient, but it does not convey all of thy words.”
“They’re like…” Morgan struggled for a moment to explain. “They are drawn pictures shown one after the other really fast, so that the eye is tricked into thinking that they are moving. The difference between one and the next is small, but if you shift through them fast enough, the picture changes smoothly.”
Moghren considered her explanation for a moment. “There be memory spells that come to mind with such a thing. A flickering illusion to show others what one has seen, though it takes a great effort of the mind. Ye might one day cover thyself with such glamours and thine own recollections of garments, but to fool all the ways of seeing, even I cannae do.”
“I’m honestly not as bothered by it as I thought I would be. I am worried about the cold when winter gets here, and sharp rocks and sticks still hurt my feet. But most of the time, it just doesn’t even cross my mind.”
“That be the changes in thy soul, then, and a boon of thy Class. Many men and no few women may leer or jest, but they would do so even were ye clothed. ‘Tis possible it be a thing ye can use to get thine own way with some, if they be childish and so easily distracted.” The old witch’s expression turned to a nostalgic smile. “I distracted many by such means when I were as young as thee. Kings and beggars both can find their words out of reach when blinded by such delights.”
Morgan picked up the spoon once again, letting it rest on her palm instead of trying to actually use it. “So how do I touch the Life Mana you mentioned? I can’t sense it like the Earth, and even the Water is faint. If it was stone I could mold it like clay. Easier than clay. It’s my highest Affinity except for basic Mana.”
“Likely it be the points ye wasted on things other than thy magic. Intellect is by far thy most important attribute, as it is for any Class reliant on magics. All five do far more than the mystic messages explain, though ye would not know that as ye arrived where no one stood to explain.”
“The system notifications?” Morgan asked.
“System. This is a good word,” said Moghren, repeating it as if tasting the meaning. “The language spell I cast upon ye will learn and grow as ye converse with more folk, even though they be far from here. Others can tell ye more, but I can give some small guidance to keep ye from bumbling like a fool.”
“Please!” Morgan exclaimed with obvious relief, sitting up at attention at the other woman’s table. “I don’t really know anything! I put points in Vitality right off so I could survive, but I’ve just been trying to round everything out because I don’t really know how everything works!”
“I would call ye daft, but if one has never been told, I can see how it would be beyond thy ken. It is not so dire a thing, to have a touch of extra Strength and Agility. Especially here in the Wildlands. But Intellect will help all Classes. It does not make one any smarter, not directly. But it makes things more clear in thine own thoughts.”
“So it’s more than just my Mana pool?”
“Far more. It will help ye sort out the different flavors of magic, or Elements as ye call them. It will make thy spells more powerful, of course, but it will also help ye in all things to do with thy mind. Not thinking better, but thinking… More. About more things at once, without confusion.”
“So…” Morgan paused for a moment of thought, going over her own status menu. “I have the ten points from reaching level ten; I never spent them after getting my class. And fifteen Skill points. But the Skills menu says that I don’t have enough points to get any new Skills…”
“Aye. Ye have a Class now. In this world, thy Class changes everything. I myself used to be the [Raven Witch], until I claimed the heart of the First Raven. Now I am the [Midnight Crone]. By slaying my predecessor I gained her immortality, but had to assume her role. I have few regrets, but I be bound to never leave First Raven’s Roost.”
“I thought this was the fabled city of Avalon?”
“The old raven was here long before my King and his Lady and I ever set foot upon this world. How long I know not, perhaps since the beginning of all things. But know this, thy Class is not the end of who ye be. This world's… system… as you call it, sets nothing in stone. Ye may one day become something other than that which ye be now, but be ever mindful of the price.”
Morgan gestured at her bare breasts and then the spoon sitting in her other palm. “I think I’m getting an idea of what kinds of prices the system charges for things…”
“Indeed, child. Tell me, what boons be granted for the price thou hast paid, to be ever clad in sky?”
“Well, from what I can tell it’s mostly in levelling rewards. I get double experience, double the intangible rewards from levelling and system things. So double the Stat points, and Skill points. There’s also something called Enhancement Points, but I don’t know what those are yet.”
Moghren’s eyebrows had risen at the revelation of double experience, but the mention of double Stat and Skill points had caused her expression to go utterly blank. “By the old gods…” the witch whispered almost too quietly for Morgan to catch, before continuing in a clearer voice. “Gaining double experience, even doubled points from earning a level while naked is certainly known. All classes get some small increase to different things. ‘Tis but a pittance compared to thy gains, however. Double? To all?”
Morgan blushed under the sudden scrutiny and stammered her response. “Y-yep! And I level Skills really quickly, too! I have three skills mastered, four if you count my old healing skill before it became [Regeneration] during my Class changes.”
“Those be mighty boons indeed,” said Moghren. “If ye gain twice the Enhancement Points at your half-tens, that will certainly be something few could dream of. Husband those points carefully, girl. At level fifteen, and twenty-five, and so forth, we receive but one. Specializations for thy Class at every tenth level, so twenty and thirty. Those will depend on what ye practice or what skills ye use the most, but Enhancement?”
“What do they do?”
“Those points be for making one of thine own Skills more than it is. A mere half-dozen is all most would earn in a lifetime. As the [Midnight Crone] I no longer level, likened to the beasts and other great creatures of this world. Yet before I claimed the Heart I knew but seventy and three, and only six points of Enhancement. A single point can be spent on a mastered skill, and they can evolve a simple [Fireball] spell into a blast to shatter a castle’s walls, or [Healing Touch] into a near miracle.”
Morgan let out a low whistle at that new bit of information. “So what different kinds of spells are there? When I set myself on fire that doesn’t feel the same as a skill or a spell. It’s not even named in my list, it’s just something I do without really thinking about it. Not like [Lightning Bolt] or [Earth Sculpt] or [Plasma Glaive].”
“The fire is thine own purest essence of power and magic. Most who strive to learn any form of magic can do similar, although they train first to control such wild burning of Mana. T’would damage or destroy their own clothing and equipment if they did not.” The [Midnight Crone] locked eyes with Morgan and the girl could not turn away her own gaze. “Thou hast no such limitations, child, and take these words to heart if none other. Find every way thou can to turn the banes of thy class to thine own advantage.”
“I don’t-” Morgan stammered. “I don’t understand.”
“Thy increases in attributes and skills and levelling is a mighty boon, but compared to even middling enchanted gear on most experienced Classes, thou wouldst still be at a disadvantage. Most who take to battle will be fully adorned in the tools of their own trades. Ye carry no charms, no trinkets, no focusing crystal nor athame. They shall be clad in layers of armor, sheathed in enchantments to strengthen, protect, and enhance their own abilities.”
Moghren pushed herself back from the table and stood, laying her cloak across the back of the chair. "Mine own Night-Feather Cloak. Arrows find it difficult to find me through its shroud, and the winds stand aside as I pass."
With the cloak removed, multiple pieces of ornamentation were revealed. With slow, sure, deliberate movements, the crone began removing them, laying them on the table.
First to meet the wood was a bracelet, wrought from twisted copper, from her left wrist. "A shield charm. It doth not even require mine own Mana to protect me from blows that be not magical." From her wrists and forearms, several more join its likeness. "Here be a half-dozen. Even more have I, simple as they are to make. Useless to thee."
Three silver rings with pale grey chunks of Mana Crystal set in each came off her fingers, clattering to the surface. "Mana Wells," she noted. "Each can replenish mine own magic reserves once entire, and take but a day before they may be used again."
From around her neck, Moghren removed a simple circle of leather, strung with several thin crystals. "A spellcatcher. Toss thy thunder or flame at me, and I shall return it tenfold."
Morgan watched the pile of jewelry grow, muted shock rising inside her.
Two thicker bands around the witch’s biceps were the next to join the growing pile. "A matching pair. Constitution and resistances are far greater, as long as ye wear both."
Finally, the old woman picked up her stick from where it rested against the table. It seemed to twist in a familiar way as Morgan's eyes passed across it. She gasped, bringing her gaze up to meet Moghren's knowing eyes. "Is that--"
"Recognize it, do ye?" the crone chuckled. "Yes, this is a root of the very tree ye landed in. It may negate magic across a wide area, and it is mine favored focus for spellwork. Among other things," she continues, an edge entering her voice. "Its other secrets are mine alone."
Moghren fixed Morgan with a calm stare. “All of these, either made by mine own hand, or earned as favors, then bent to serve or enhance mine own magics. This is what thou hast, all unknowing, traded away.”
Morgan stared quietly at the items, deep in thought as Moghren re-equipped herself with her favored gear. Lulu had hopped off of her shoulder and tried to inspect the various items before the elder spellcaster shooed her back with a wave of a hand. The precocious puffball gave an offended purbling trill and returned its attention to its mistress, who was had begun rubbing her face and bore an expression somewhere between sadness and despair.
“I think-” Morgan felt as if the little bit of soup she had managed to eat was about to come back up. “I think I made some terrible mistakes, then…”
The witch snorted without sympathy at Morgan’s self-recrimination. “Never think that. This world may levy a price for everything, but it is always fair. What thou hast given up, ye will find returned to thee in some way. I sense potential in thee that burns brighter in sorcerous power than I have seen in any but a mere handful of others, in nearly sixteen centuries here.”
“But how can my spells and stats compete with all that specialized gear and enchantments?”
“Do ye not realize that that rune upon thine own breast means?” asked Moghren with an expression of incredulity on her face. “That,” she said, pointing at the [Soul Anchor] rune on her bare chest, “allows thee to craft [Living Runes] upon thyself. Ye know it not, but such a thing should not be possible! Not even on this world of Anfealt! Enchantments do not level, not any that I have ever seen nor even heard whispers of, though many have attempted to create such!”
“I’m not even sure what that means!” exclaimed Morgan, leaning back away from the intensity radiating off the other woman. Moghren seemed to loom even while sitting in the chair across the table, and Lulu once again hopped onto the table in front of its mistress. The scrubby puffed up as if warning the witch away.
“Be calm, little creature,” said Moghren. “Thy mistress has naught to fear from me -- not since the blood marked her kin -- but Moghren coddles no one.”
“It’s okay, Lulu,” Morgan said as she picked up the scrubby and gave it several affectionate pats before placing it back on her shoulder. “I don’t think she means to be so scary, she’s just powerful and does it without realizing…”
“Indeed,” said the old witch with a nod of appreciation for Morgan’s sideways compliment. “Ye have thine own aura of power, though ye know it not quite yet. A presence that can be sensed thusly may be a bane or a boon. Lesser creatures will avoid the threat, but greater ones may hunger for a taste of thee. I sensed it ere ye crossed the river; t’was only the perception of food at first that drew my Raven form to pluck thee from the cliffs.”
“What!? You mean you really would have eaten me!?”
“Had the blood not marked ye mine kin? Most certainly, as I have done to many trespassers these centuries past. Mine Raven half has needs of its own, as part of the bargain I struck so long ago. Thus is the price of power, and why ye cannae stay near Avalon beyond a day or so. The Crone still hungers, and I prefer mine solitude.”
Morgan eyed the older woman with no small bit of suspicion, and more than a touch of disappointment at that revelation. “I was beginning to hope I could stay a while so you could teach me magic…”
The older woman shook her head in bemusement while smiling grimly. “I can no more teach thee than I could teach a fish or a cat. And thou hast no need; thy class is built to learn. Trust in it, experiment on thine own.”
“More things I don’t understand…”
“A sorceress of any kind is not like a [Mage] or [Wizard], and even more different from a [Witch] or [Druid]. They are the rarest of all the spell-weavers. Mine own cantrips, rituals, and nature magics would be useless to thee. Advice be all that Moghren can give, and ye would be wise to take it to heart.”
At this Morgan sat up straight and paid rapt attention. “Please. I don’t want to just stumble around fighting one thing after the next and barely surviving.”
Moghren scoffed at that. “Tsk!” she clicked with her teeth. “The Wildlands be the wrong place for that way of thinking, granddaughter! Tis not called The Wild Lands for naught. Dangers beyond counting lie in wait in the forests and mountains and swamps, and mortal peril stalks the meadows and the plains.”
The old woman shook her head grimly and continued. “All the old nightmares of the ancient tales, and new ones twisted beyond even mine own imaginings. What does not seek to devour thy flesh will want worse; to consume thy magics and power. And a few will seek to take a fertile one such as thee for breeding, such as the Nagai far to the east.”
Morgan blanched at the last statement. She had been travelling east before the wolves diverted her path during the chase. “That sounds more than unpleasant.”
“Aye. At least the beasts merely want to eat and grow. Most tribes of the merfolk are peaceable enough, but the Nagai would claim you for the breeding pens. Ever do they seek to spawn more magically gifted offspring. Thou wouldst make a prize for Kings amongst their people, and the songs of their Sahn Rhen Priestesses would have ye spreading thy legs right willingly for their hordes of Mage-Priests seeking to sire the next King of the Waves.”
Sudden nausea caused Morgan to shudder involuntarily. “I’d rather be eaten,” she murmured.
“Goblins would do the same, though no offspring would come of it. They would merely take thee for the fun of it, so always be wary of those nasty bastards. They cannae sire offspring on human women, but they love to try. They are rare in the Wildlands, thank the old gods. The Packmother and her children do not tolerate them, nor do any of the others whom hold territories such as myself.”
“Is there anywhere safe in this world!?”
“Phtah!” Moghren made a vicious chopping gesture to the side with one hand. “Disregard such a naïve notion! Safe is a word for children and the simpletons who drool and stutter. As it was in the old world in my time, and such is it now and always in this world; the strong take unless prevented by the strength of others. I hold First Raven’s Roost by mine own might and cunning; yet, one day, another shall take it from me. This is the way of the Wildlands, and the lands of mankind far to the west be no different no matter the fancy words they call it.”
“That sounds…” Morgan wanted to argue the point, but her words died in her throat. “No, that sounds about right. My own country on Earth pretty much does the same thing. No one can truly challenge us except for two or three countries, and everyone else usually keeps their heads down hoping the big guys don’t have a brawl.”
“That is the way of history since the beginning, child,” Moghren replied, not unkindly. “Titans move and the weak either serve, or hide and hope to go unnoticed, whether it be nations of men or beasts in their own lairs. But the Wildlands has its own Titan that breaks the cycle. Ye came upon the crystal grave in the shadow of the cliffs, yes?”
Morgan remembered the massive bones of the great beast with a vivid clarity, and nodded the affirmative. “Yeah, I don’t want to meet whatever killed that thing.”
“The [Crystal Titan] sleeps under the Tree. The tree withers and blooms according to its own seasons, but when it is in bloom, the Titan roams. So it has been for over a dozen centuries. He arrived in the same fashion that thou didst appear, near the tree. And he, also, ate of the Fruits.”
“Wait! My bones are crystal now! Am I going to turn into some giant crystal monster!?"
“Rest thy mind, child, and be easy,” said the older woman. “If that were to be, t’would already have happened. The magic I see in thy bones is calm and settled, and I suspect any changes to be wrought are hence done. But the Titan…”
Moghren sat back in her chair and looked at the naked sorceress for a long quiet moment before continuing. “The Titan arrived long ago, less than half a century after myself, although our paths did not cross until centuries later. He partook of the fruit, and he did not stop at one. These lands were not the Wildlands then. After the High King died, the lesser kingdoms under the banner of High Avalon scrabbled for his crown, and that tale is not for the telling today.”
The witch sipped from her cup before speaking again. “The Titan cleanses this land every few score winters. The beasts he leaves alone, unless they challenge, but the evils of thinking beings? The malice of dark intent? They drive the Titan mad. ‘Tis the Titan that keeps these lands unsettled with his migrations. If the Tree be awakened, the Titan follows soon. Months away at least, but always within a year of the Tree bearing Fruit.”
“What does the Titan do?” Morgan asked, entirely enthralled by the woman’s storytelling.
“He devours malicious magic. Thy sorcery emanates the flavors of thine intent. The primal magics of the Wildlands make creatures grow strong and mighty. Enchantments and spells be wrought from things that grow here that be much more powerful and pure in magic than in most places on this world, and power draws the ambitious both for the sake of good and evil works. If mine own domain be the Wind and the shadows of Night itself, his be Earth and righteous fury.”
“So I should definitely stay away from whatever he is…”
Moghren looked at her as if she were a silly child once more. “There be no staying away. If his wanderings bring him near thee, thou wilt either be devoured or left in peace. Neither mine own power, nor the Packmother’s, nor that of the Mountain Stagg or any of the other territorial lords of the Wildlands could stop such a force. The [Crystal Titan] is other. None know the measure by which he judges, but t’was he that broke the Nagai as a people almost a thousand years ago when he devoured their last King of the Waves. Mine own belief is that it was because they were sacrificing their own children upon the altars of power, seeking blessings from dark gods.”
“So he goes after the truly wicked?” Morgan asked. “That doesn’t sound all bad. Scary, but not all bad. My dad and brothers are like that; they’re soldiers in the military back home. Or dad was before he retired, my brothers still serve though.”
“The wicked, the malicious,” Moghren agreed. “When the veil between the worlds weaken and vile demons walk the world, the Titan seems to seek them out above most others. But no-one can truly predict him. There are countless sites similar to the crystal grave thou passed through below, scattered throughout these lands. He devours those who challenge him as easily and readily as those he hunts in earnest. And there are broken ruins of settlements where nations from elsewhere attempted to tame the WIldlands. You will find them, if you wander long enough. And the Titan will find thee, if he so desires.”
“So all I can do is be wary, and don’t attack him. How would I even know what he looks like?”
Moghren chuckled at the younger woman’s seemingly casual attitude about such a powerful being. “Thou hast the right of it, truly. Ye can do nothing if the [Crystal Titan] seeks the ending of thy Story. But knowing him by sight is easy. A massive man-beast he be, of twisted scars and muscle. The crystals grow out of his body, adorning his brow and his hands and feet with armor most lethal and savage. Hunched over, he lopes on his feet and hands, as if a man were become a bear but halted the change half-finished. Three times the height of a man, and the Earth itself ripples with power for leagues when he wanders.”
Morgan’s empty belly chose that moment to interrupt their conversation with a low rumbling growl. The climb, and the short but fierce early morning battle had not dipped into her caloric reserves all that badly, but she was still very hungry.
“Please,” Morgan pleaded with an embarrassed look in her eyes, as she gazed longingly at the bowl of stew. “I don’t want to lick it up off the table like a dog, and I don’t think I’m gonna manage to levitate a spoon in one morning. And it smells so good…”
Moghren chuckled with low mirth before standing and turning back to one of the cupboards along the wall. “If mine own nature could bear the company t’would almost be worth it to keep ye about, if only for amusement at thy plight.”
Morgan gawked as the other woman’s hand seemed to disappear into thin air upon reaching into the cabinet before Moghren withdrew a handful of some sort of bread rolls or biscuits.
Moghren tossed her a biscuit to sop up the stew with, then sat the others on the table. “Saw that look, did I. Storage Box enchantment, similar to Bags of Holding and other weavings that alter the shape of a space. Spend those points ye hold on thine Intellect, and perhaps we shall see if ye can learn how to weave one, an I shall try to point the way.”
Morgan let her questions wait upon that assurance, and set about devouring the stew by scooping it up frantically with torn chunks of bread rolls. She had no idea what kind of meat it contained, but the savory flavors and pieces of what seemed to be halfway between a potato and a turnip were just what she needed. Burnt lynx and roasted eel had been filling, but were not the sort of meal she would ever have picked had she anything else to choose from.
Soon the stew was devoured, and washed down with a hastily levitated globule of the herbal tea-like concoction Moghren had served earlier. Lulu happily scrubbed the remaining mess from Morgan’s fingers and then set about cleaning the table and the bowl, as the loofah’s mistress had still managed to spill some when she tried to hold the bowl with one hand to facilitate scooping.
“That is a fascinating creature,” said Moghren wistfully. “How did ye come to acquire such a pet? I have never seen its like in all my years.”
“Um. This is Lulu. She came here with me. But she wasn’t alive then, that didn’t happen ‘til I ate the fruit and burned all night. I woke up and had notifications that a scrubby had gained sentience. Something about ambient mana and local conditions. And then the messages asked if I wanted to adopt it as a pet, and I did!”
Lulu purbled and preened at the attention while its Mistress recounted the scrubby’s origins. If cleaning was the puffball’s first and highest calling, then adoration and attention ran a close second.
“A new kind of creature, then, and the first of its kind. There be Classes that tame or talk with beasts and creatures of all sorts that could help thee learn more from it. Beware when thy pet spawns a brood, for an Originator gains blessings from the Mystic, that which ye named System. It will breed unchecked for a time, until a steady populace be achieved.”
“Uh… I think she kinda-” Morgan stuttered. “She already did. It gave her a title and everything, Loofah Prime. For spawning ten thousand descendants, I think? Yeah…”
Moghren laughed with genuine mirth at that admission. “Precocious puffball indeed! I shall keep an eye open for such as thy Lulu’s offspring. I spend most of my time as the raven, but someone to talk to from time to time is a blessing I shan’t turn down. At least it did not appear edible to mine other eyes, unlike thine own pretty self.”
“That is so creepy!” breathed Morgan. “What is it about eating people?”
“People be food like any other, to the denizens of the wilds, and mine feathered form is no different. I do not control the Raven, girl-child. It is a partnership. Our bodies may be one since I consumed the Heart, but I have mine own needs and so doth she.”
“I think I understand. So that’s why I can’t stay here?” asked Morgan.
“Indeed. I shall leave to hunt and feed this eve. T’will be safe enough in this abode, but risk not a jaunt outside until I return in mine own form. Tomorrow thou must be gone from this place. The Crone sees all that moves upon or near the Roost, and she was denied her rightfully hunted meal when thy blood proved ye kin. I will not be able to turn her from the hunt a second time so easily.”
Morgan sat deep in thought for over a minute, absentmindedly petting Lulu as the loofah polished and cleaned the tabletop while emanating contented purbles. “Well,” she said as she plucked the scrubby off the table and returned it to her shoulder, “I guess I’m ready to try to learn that storage enchantment before you go hunting. I wish I could stay longer, but I understand.”
Moghren stood, once again draping the feathered cloak about her shoulders before plucking a small leather pouch off of a shelf above the fur-covered bed. “All I can give ye be a night of safe rest, child. I suggest thy heading be westerly on the morrow. A few thousand leagues to reach the mountains, and on the other side, the nations of men still squabble. At least, it was so last I were able to travel beyond the Roost.”
“So that’s where people are?” Morgan asked as she followed the older witch outside. “And a few thousand leagues? That could take me years to cross! Is there any way I can get wings like you? The class avatar when I made my choice had wings! But she said I had to find them on my own. That trolling bitch!” She spat the last words remembering her shocked disappointment.
Moghren snorted again as they walked towards a broad intersection that opened up where several stone-paved avenues met. “There be many ways to gain such a thing, but none be easy nor simple. An Angel’s Feather could grant ye the gift ye wish for, or a Demon’s Bargain, but the price of either be great and terrible upon one so young as thee.”
“Do I even want to know what I would have to give up for either of those?”
“The Angels would have thy soul bound to light an no longer serving thine own will, and a Demon powerful enough to grant thy wish would demand ye rut with him and his brethren. Thou wouldst be granted wings to fly, ‘tis true, but birthing a demon’s spawn would end thy Story right quickly.”
Morgan crossed her arms and shivered out of horrified reflex. “Those can’t be the only ways! Surely the Class thing wouldn’t have teased me like that!?”
“There are other ways, but thou hast chosen to forego all clothing. Ye cannot wear a winged garment or enchanted robes, not even the [Sandals of Hermes]. Even Divine Artefacts are barred to thee, and shall never cover thy skin. I can see the etching upon thy Soul, even if ye cannot, and thou art Clad in Sky from now til time’s own ending. Rarely have I witnessed such absolutes, yet it is become as much a certainty for thee as it is for the sun to rise in the east.”
Moghren stopped in the center of the intersection, as far away from the ancient buildings as was possible to stand. Morgan stepped closer to watch the old woman open the small leather pouch and turn it inside out before continuing her own questions.
“So what are the other ways? How did you strike your bargain to become a raven? Can I learn shapeshifting magics?”
“There be scant few who can truly shapeshift,” Moghren responded after a moment’s thought. “Less than a score I have ever met in all my years. Some older [Druids] manage to learn it, but without assistance from greater beings, it requires giving up a portion of thy sense of self. Ye could take mine own wings, were ye strong enough and willing to be bound to the Roost.” She paused, then shot Morgan a poisonous look. “If ye intend such rudeness however, speak now, and my Raven shall feast on thy bones this night.”
“Oh God, no!” Morgan backed up a step. “No, I don’t want to fight you or anyone else! Or be bound anywhere! And I really don’t want to be dinner, please…”
The old crone looked at her descendant and through her, her gaze ranging back through uncounted centuries. “With wearing an enchanted artefact barred to thee, I can think of only two ways ye could achieve such a thing. For wings on thy back, t’would needs be grafted directly into thine own flesh and Soul. Such a weaving of Magic and Soul thou would find only agony in the doing.” She shook her head, as if banishing the thought. “Thou art far too new to thy class, too young. T’would scar thy mind and leave thee broken and drooling. With time and another dozen levels or so, perhaps, possible. But not soon, not by any measure.”
“And the other way?”
“A Divine Blessing. I...cannae help ye there. Moghren bows not to the godlings of this world, not even after all these centuries. Now,” said the [Midnight Crone] as she held up the leather pouch, “enough of wings ye cannae make use of. Spend thy hoarded points upon thine Intellect, and pay attention as I weave the workings for an enchanted pouch. Thy first attempts shall likely prove volatile failures, but I have faith in thy blood, if nothing else.”
Morgan did as the old witch requested, and waited for her head to clear from the rush of increased Stats. Once done, she checked her status menu, waiting for her Mana to swell to match her new capacity.
Status Information for: Morgan Mackenzie
Level - 10
Primary Class: [Skyclad Sorceress]
Secondary Class: [Locked]
Health - 250/250
Stamina - 280/280
Mana - 310/310
STR - 20
AGI - 20
CON - 20
VIT - 28
INT - 31
Stat points available to distribute: 0
-[Pain Resistance(Lvl 9)]
-[Mana Affinity(Lvl 6)]
-[Fire Affinity(Lvl 2)]
-[Heat Affinity(Lvl 2)]
-[Lightning Affinity(Lvl 2)]
-[Earth Affinity(Lvl 5)]
-[Spell Channeling(Lvl 5)]
-[Lightning Bolt(Lvl 3)]
-[Wind Barrier(Lvl 2)]
-[Earth Sculpt(Lvl 8)]
Skill Points available: 15
Enhancement Points available: 0
Titles, Mantles, and Aspects
[Worldwalker(Title)] - You have travelled through the void between the many worlds! Every world is different, each with its own gifts and dangers. To help you survive strange new places you gain a slight boost to health and an increased ability to learn new things! (+50 to Health, +50% increased gains to Skill Experience)
[Blessed of the Guardian Tree(Title)] - Through an offering of the blood of your enemies you have reawakened the ancient tree! You need never fear its hungry roots! Future offerings or actions that benefit the tree may enhance this Title!
[Skyclad] You are clad in the sky itself, forfeiting items, clothing, and equipment in exchange for the unrivaled power of purest Sorcery. There are no barriers between you and the magics of the world. Items will no longer equip; in exchange, intangible gains are substantially increased.
[Sorceress] Your pathway to magic and power is Sorcery itself. Needing neither incantations nor blood nor prayer, you wield the flows of Mana directly by your own will.
Then, with the enhanced ease with which she could sense the workings of Mana woven by the old witch, and further improved by her [Mana Sight]-enchanted vision, Morgan watched.
And Morgan learned.