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A note from Don Wihongi

(yawns loudly, rows of jagged teeth flashing) Uhhhh.. I have an ether ache here's a chapter... enjoy...

Spoilers for adventurer ranking and all that...

Spoiler: Spoiler

 

POV... (yawns) ...shift Mr roach

I stared down at my unconscious familiar lying in a puddle of her own stomach content, fascinated, not by the fact she was lying in a puddle of vomit but the fact all her wounds had just sealed over in an instant confirming my thesis.

Lescar could level up

I checked my menu which had flickered back into existence partway through the fight with the troll as it happened to be called, a backlog of notifications flooding my view.

{familiar obtained Human 250 exp}

{Familiar bond strengthened 250 exp}

{mature troll defeated 500 exp}

{familiar menu added see below user #[email protected]#^& stats}

I had earned so much exp that I was over halfway to my next level up which was good probably.

next i checked my stats

Level 7 sewer cockroach (Blattella Cloaca Octaaica)

MIND- 0075 (accurate)

BODY- 0135 (accurate)

SOUL- 2414 (estimated)

My stats had increased as they always did after leveling but the growth seemed more significant this time, could this be due to what I pulled earlier with the system or perhaps with Lescar.

'Hmm I don't know' i concluded deciding not to think about it right now, instead, checking my current perks.

current traits/abilities

- heightened gross motor control

- hydraulic force-based legs (hind)

- filtered/aerobic tracheae (primitive lungs)

- fortify mind

- reinforced mandibles

- analysis

- camouflage (innate)

- familiar synergy

 I glanced at my newest addition and then at the passed out Lescar flexing my jaws concernedly.

The passed out Lescar and the dead troll behind me were both direct results of my new ability, my new dangerous ability.

Familiar synergy.

It was what I had just picked up in the dream level just before that whole fiasco blew up.

Its description reads as such.

Familiar synergy- The master and familiar can share energy, but only the master can activate the ability, when energy is shared, power and influence passes between the soul bridge, the master is unaffected by side effects.

Another relatively vague description.

I am beginning to consider whether the crappy descriptions is someones twisted idea of a joke, to hand out inadequate information on powerful abilities and chortle about the trouble that would likely ensue.

I predicted whoever made this system was one such twisted individual.

I stared hard at the unconscious Lescar, under the effects of the skill, Lescar had completely changed going from a boneless limp girl to sadistic berserker in a matter of seconds.

I had felt it when I pushed too much power into her body, something inside her had warped, twisted.

It had felt like she had briefly become another person.

Right now she felt stable but I had the earnest impression that if I abused this power I might end up with a raving madwoman.

Not something I wanted for my little human, if she went mad she wouldn't be a very useful mouthpiece or pawn.

I chittered, vexed, before carefully placing the unconscious girl on my back, being sure to position her close to the base of my jointed neck.

It wouldn't do to leave her lying in a puddle of her own sick.

As I did this, I moved my interface and found the brand new familiar menu clicking on it unhesitantly.

I wanted to see if something had changed and I wasn't disappointed.

Lescar Gestalt (Homo sapien)

Level 5

Female

age 13 years and 11 months

MIND 0060 accurate

BODY 0075 accurate

SOUL 0402 estimated

current traits/abilities perk points remaining 5

- familiar (contracted to serve)

- determined

- novice swordsman

- electric soulbed

- deft hands (ambidextrous)

'Level 5!' I exclaimed 'she got four levels from fighting that troll?!' how much exp did she get?

I tried looking for any trace of her exp earnings but found no notifications to tell me her earnings.

With my one good eye, I glared at the sleeping Lescar.

How had she leveled so much from one troll?

True she had gotten the last few hits in before it expired and she was drastically weaker than her foe but even so. four! levels!.

And, not just her levels, her traits were visible now, and they were even more astounding.

familiar (contracted to serve)- Bound to a higher power, this individual has sworn to follow their master forever their soul eternally bound to their patron.

Determined- The individual has an indomitable spirit and is hard to control, all mental effects are more easily ignored or brushed off, pain is also affected.

Novice swordsman- This individual has received some form of training in sword techniques but only has a solid grasp of the basics and is not well versed in complex maneuvers.

 Electric soulbed- The individuals' soul is disposed toward lighting and its affinity.

Deft hands (ambidextrous)- has nimble and adept control over both hands able to perform very precise movements.

Her traits were pretty good better than what I started with, that being pretty much nothing.

I was most interested in two specific traits though, electric soulbed and determined.

Electric soulbed sounded similar to the trait I had yet to take 'seed soulbed (light)', did it mean she would be able to cast lighting spells at some point, I hoped so that would be pretty handy and dangerous, for my enemies.

Determination was obviously what was making it so hard to control Lescar, but I didn't mind, it also meant she would not easily be used against me with some mind trickery or such.

Lescar had a decent stat screen now and I felt a little jealous of a couple of her perks.

I would have to keep ahead of her, to maintain my dominance.

I shook my head, heading toward the dead troll perhaps Lescar leveled up faster than me or more likely she was rewarded more for fighting a stronger opponent than herself.

The troll had been a bit stronger than myself but there was no way for me to tell if I was rewarded more for fighting a stronger enemy.

I would just assume that was the case, it was very game-like logic, although so far this world hasn't been nearly as pleasing as a video game.

I played a lot of those I think in my human days, I dug through my human recollection and came up with a dozen hits, the memories were still distant though.

Arriving at the very dead and stinky troll I prodded it with a claw then bent down, jaws wide.

I killed this troll it would be wasteful and stupid not to partake of its meat, ripping through the spiky rough fur I dug into the dead troll, tearing at the lower torso.

Everyone knew that the best parts of animals were the heart, closely followed by the liver, kidneys, and brain.

All very succulent servings that I always hit first.

Pushing aside jutting ribs I stuck my head into the trolls chestal cavity, fishing around for my favourite part, the wet red still steaming around me.

'found it.

Seizing the heart with my jaws I severed the arteries and carefully extracted my treat, savoring the taste before chowing down on the tender, still twitching heart.

'Not bad.'

The heart had a strong gamey taste that reminded me of wild pig, I only wished I had salt

{Ate matured troll heart 50 exp} 

My hunger bar began filling quickly, obviously, this was some good food and I was surely going to have some more.

I spent a good ten minutes chomping and tearing at my dinner before I was finally full, netting me another 400 exp.

Lescar was sadly a victim of my messy eating and was covered in the splashback of my gorey meal.

Still, she didn't wake up, sleeping just as soundly covered in blood as she had a few minutes ago.

Oh well, she was already covered in puke, it mattered little.

Having eaten my fill I surveyed my surroundings spotting Lescars puny sword, trotting over to it.

I bet she would want this back and she wouldn't be much use in a fight without it.

I reached over to grab the sword with my mandibles but stopped.

Small ripples were running up and down the blade like a heat haze, something was off about this blade.

I flicked it with a talon then prodded it with an antenna, no response, the blade kept shimmering without doing anything else.

It didn't seem harmful, whatever was afflicting the blade, and I had places to be, so I picked it up in my mouthparts before turning to the troll's corpse.

There was no way I was leaving this much meat behind, it was far too tasty for that.

'Looks like I have my work cut out for me' I clacked beginning to nose the corpse, pushing it toward my den.

I chittered pleasantly and worked to drag my two prizes home, one on the floor being dragged and the other nestled on my back

' Today had been a good hunt, a very good hunt'

POV shift... (Yawns, voice dropping out a bit) ....on the... surface... Joel

Joel stepped into the adventurers guild Sereth and Tiaahn just behind him as he pushed the iron reinforced doors aside and strode up to the counter where the same man who had inducted Lescar was dozing.

People looked at Joel and nodded, some scowled but most inclined their heads respectfully, he was known here.

While he was only a fledging in guild ranking, his actual strength exceeded that rank by a large margin, his ranking if done by strength alone would be wolf or steel ranked.

The only reason he hadn't already been raised to those ranks was because he liked to go through the guild system legitimately, rather than using his influence for something he could readily earn.

Despite that, many other adventurers still looked upon Joel seeing little more than a coddled noble son.

Joel didn't care for those that saw him that way, they would learn in time. 

ignoring the few glares that were directed his way Joel thumped on the counter waking the dozing attendant with a start.

The blonde middle-aged counter attendant awoke with a start, the small spectacles astrew on his face.

"Huh! Uh! what! who? oh, it's you, Joel, just give me a sec..." the attendant rubbed some sleep out of his eyes before slapping himself across the cheek, blinking for a moment before addressing Joel.

"Ohh that's better, ok! what are you here for today young man? more requests to hand in?" the attendant voice was bright and friendly if a bit slurred from lying on his face, but Joel didn't mind.

He actually liked the attendant he was a surprisingly kind person despite his job and Joel thought he was personally, too kind for this line of work.

Responding to the man's question Joel spoke, maintaining the cheery demeanor he always wore.

"Ahh afternoon Mr Tomavin, its good to see you well," Joel said a warm smile on his face, " but sadly I'm not here to hand in a request, no its bad news I'm afraid."  Joel let his voice become sorrowful near the end of his sentence.

Joel saw Tomavin glance at the people behind himself, blue-eyed spectacled gaze moving from Sereth to Tiaahn before moving about as if searching for someone else.

"You don't say..." Tomavin said his beaming expression crumbling ever so slightly, "what happened?"

Joel looked at the much less joyous visage of Tomavin, even his curly blond hair seemed as if it were wilting.

Tomavin was much too kind for this position and that made a twinge of guilt pull on Joel's own sensibilities.

trying to quell the guilt immediately, Joel rationalized, he had done the right thing by sacrificing Lescar, she had been the weakest and least valuable member and the foe before them had been something they couldn't handle.

Someone had to be the bait to ensure that the rest survived and it was best for everyone if it were Lescar

'he'd had to sacrifice her, he'd had too!'

even while telling himself this the expression of disbelief and horror on Lescar face still haunted his mind, he had taken no pleasure in dooming her too the awful fate that she likely was already experiencing.

'It was necessary' Joel consoled himself, shaking the shame from his mind.

Apparently his first human homicide had more impact on him than he'd thought it would.

Looking up at Tomavins face he spoke unfalteringly.

"We encountered an unforeseen complication while doing routine vermin control, an adult troll was in the sewers" emotions already under control Joel added sadly." Lescar didn't make it as we fled."

Sereth chuckled quietly behind him and Joel felt his irritation rise, Joel still didn't like Sereth but he made sure to hide it, he had entered Sereths good graces when he had proposed the plan to escape the troll and use Lescar as a scapegoat.

Sereth for whatever reason had hated Lescar and had been glad to have a way of being rid of her, frankly, though, Joel would have rather left Sereth down there and taken Lescar instead.

The only reason he had taken Sereth instead of Lescar being that he hoped to form a future assurance from Sereths noble house, which now was already likely, considering Sereth's good mood.

Failing to notice Sereths subdued glee Tomavin muttered somberly.

"I see... Poor girl... I hope she finds kindness in the afterlife." Tomavins eyes looked very downcast suddenly, but he still continued, hand slowly scribbling out a sentence in red ink. "where... exactly did you encounter the troll?"

Joel replied " in the western sewers, but close to the main shafts" pulling out his map and pointing to the location. " about here is where we saw it, but it could be anywhere now."

Tomavin nodded, scribbling down a few more things in red ink 

Was it a mature adult? Tomavin asked still slightly slumped.

"Yes, it was over three meters tall" Joel responded, his voice no longer cheery.

"That's concerning then there is probably a brood den down there." Tomavin said gloomily, frowning " that has to be checked out immediately.

Joel listened as Tomavin proceeded to mutter under his breath, the shot middle-aged man disappearing under the table for a few moments before appearing with a large stack of documents in both hands, dumping the stacks onto the counter.

"A full team of iron ranks will be the bare minimum for trolls and maybe even a full team of steel, if a brood is present" Tomaviin mumbled, rapidly scribbling across a second then a third piece of parchment. 

Joel waited patiently as Tomavin filled out a suit of papers when Tomavin looked up suddenly and said, his spectacles glinting.

"If we are quick maybe your companion will still be alive."

This statement would have made others panic, but not Joel, he knew things, things that sometimes he would rather not know.

This knowledge came from his eccentric uncle, his uncle was a fanatic researcher of the many beasts that roamed the world and the troll had a special place in his uncle's black shriveled heart.

His uncle had often rattled on about the 'amazing physiology of trolls ' and 'the incredible way that they produced offspring'.

Joel had been subjected to many tirades about the 'amazing utility' trolls harbored in their hulking frames and how they would 'make his dreams a reality'.

His uncle was a troubled individual one with fantasies too despicable to mention.

What Joel learned from his uncle about troll's and what they did to captured human women, sickened even Joel's hardened resolve, so he knew now that even if Lescar still lived, her mind would be in no lucid state, and in no position to tattle. 

 Feeling the guilt beginning to creep up his spine again, Joel quickly asked a question seeking to busy his mind with other matters.

"When the search for the beast begins is it possible I could join in?"

While Joel alone was no match for a mature troll if he was accompanied by a full team of steel ranks a single troll wouldn't be an issue.

It would also allow him to ensure that Lescar was unable to speak even if she was still alive and lucid,

That troublesome guilt struck again and Joel closed his eyes and banished her terrified face from his mind. 

Taking Joel's words as a sign of his concern for Lescar Tomavin said gently " ... I am unsure whether a team would let you as that depends entirely upon them."

Joel nodded, his mouth set in a straight line, he knew how these things worked, he lacked the appropriate rank to accompany the hunting party and would need to seek the approval of the leader of said hunting party if he wanted to accompany them,

Which was unlikely, higher ranking teams never wanted the responsibility of babysitting lower ranks, even if Joel himself was as strong as a steel ranker.

He needed a way onto the team and the man before him could do it.

Considering this, Joel did something he didn't really want to do to Tomavin.

Putting some pressure behind his words and leaning forward across the counter Joel spoke in a low voice.

"Is there no way at all, none that you can help with, in that regard?"

The very slight threat in his voice made Tomavin again aware of the difference of position that he and Joel held, and he concernedly sputtered, cold sweat suddenly springing out of Tomavins skin. 

"N-no im sorry Jo- your lordship I cant..."

Joel hated doing this, but as a son of a council member, It was necessary to remind people of the difference of power and position, his father would disapprove otherwise.

Joel flinched at that thought and frowned.

Seeing Joel frown Tomavin added hurriedly, a strained caliber to his voice. "I know your strength is formidable, your lordship, especially for one so young... Tomavin paused his eyes rapidly assessing Joel's reaction," -b -but there is no way I can help you get into an extermination team."

Joel looked into Tomavin's eyes and saw fear, Tomavin had not said a word as such but Joel could see the pleading in the man's eyes, Joel sighed internally seeing this and felt the guilty pangs rise up in his chest again.

He could have Tomavin disposed and tossed in jail if he but said a few words to the right people, and Tomavin knew it! but was still unyielding.

in a way Tomavin was refusing to give Joel, the son of a very powerful and well connected noble what he wanted, directly impeding Joel's plans.

A proper noble of the house of Graftof would surely incarcerate Tomavin for his insolence and it was something Joel should also do as one of noble blood but...

The guilt stirred again, the screams and curses of the fleeing Lescar rebounding in his head, he didn't want to do this a second time today.

He had done enough harm for today, he did not want to toss someone he genuinely liked in jail for such a trivial matter.

His father might have become indignant at Tomavins worried words of noncompliance but Joel was not his father.

Sighing and lifting a reassuring palm Joel addressed the silently pleading Tomavin.

"I know, it is fine I will not pursue it any further."

Tomavins expression eased and the wrinkles of concern smoothed over, plain relief appearing briefly before being smothered with an uncertain smile of gratitude.

Behind Joel, Sereth snorted seeing this interaction but said nothing, he at least was keeping his thoughts to himself this time.

"Thank you, my lord, I thank you for your understanding." while Tomavins words were genuinely grateful, there was no longer a feeling of goodwill in them that he had, had earlier.

rubbing his forehead tiredly Joel said with no pretense of cheer, merely a weary demeanor.

"Please inform the extermination team that I would like to join them if possible"

"yes! I can do that much at least."

"And find me in room 24 if they agree I will be there"

Joel waved his hand and turned about signaling the end of the conversation, he would have to deal with the slim chance of Lescar still being around, as remote as that chance was.

The chances of Lescar still being alive and sane were very low and even if she wasn't dead or insane, ultimately she could do little more than besmirch the family name a little.

Something his father would surely punish Joel for if it were to occur.

Joel shuddered at the thought before heading for the stairs, making for his lodgings, Sereth and Tiaahn just behind him.

As he walked Tiaahn spoke softly, having been mostly focused on removing slime from her clothes and hair the whole time he was talking with Tomavin.

"Joel, does this mean we are going to have to do the vermin request again?"

Tiaahn looked guilelessly up at Joel, her eyes wide and inquiring, appearing very innocent and tender, making Joel stare for a moment, it was rare she ever looked so vulnerable anymore. 

Joel had found his best friend increasingly hard to deal with these past years, she had changed rather drastically from the girl he had known as a child, becoming harder, colderand more clingy.

So it always made Joel feel just a bit happier when he could see a bit of her younger self.

Joel stared for a few more seconds at Tiaahn's rare display of weakness before a clump of slime in Tiaahn's hair shifted falling directly onto her nose ruining her youthful innocence.

Face wrinkled in disgust Tiaahn flicked the particularly large lump of goop off her nose, breaking eye contact.

Having realized his staring, Joel averted his eyes from Tiaahns before saying quietly.

"Probably"

"What!?" Tiaahn gasped, still yanking slime from her hair,  "didn't we get all the parts required?"

"Lescar was carrying them remember?"

"oh... yes that girl... it's a shame we couldn't keep the parts though."

Hearing Tiaahns dismissive words Joel turned his head to glance at Tiaahn, he didn't see even a hint of remorse on her face only annoyance.

Joel felt a pang of sadness touch his heart, dispelling the brief joy he had gotten from seeing his friend's old self.

Unlike Sereth, Joel had known Tiaahn a long time, she had been his friend for as long as he could remember, they having played together as mere babies.

She had been very sweet and kind up until her Twelfth birthday, after which she changed, becoming cold and callous to all save Joel himself and a few select others.

He did not know the reason for her change but could only suppose that it wasn't dissimilar to his own predicament.

Tiaahn frowned, annoyance scrunching up her face before she brightened up and seized Joel's arm again.

"Well today has been quite a bother but why don't we relax..." Tiaahn stroked Joel's arm, slowly draping her fingers slowly down the curve of Joel's bicep, making Joel shiver slightly.

"We should have a nice bath together" Tiaahn whispered in his ears

His friend had certainly changed and Joel was uncertain how to deal with it, his father for all his political manipulations had never taught Joel how to handle women, especially not ones like Tiaahn.

But he knew his father would disapprove of any rash coupling so he made the first excuse he could think of, keeping his voice even, if barely.

"Uhh... Sorry Tiaahn I have to track some loose ends down, but I thank you for the offer"

Sounding disappointed and taken aback Tiaahn  choked out. "oh... is that so... well next time maybe..."

Tiaahn's head was down now but she didn't let go of Joel's arm instead she tightened it, after a brief period of silence before looking up with a pout.

"Are you sure you cant drop in for a visit?"

"Quite," Joel said uncomfortably

"Really!?"

Pouting and insisting they bathe together Tiaahn continued to harass Joel as they climbed the stairs together

Mercifully, Sereth was quiet, and again merely snorted, moving past Tiaahn and Joel heading for his own room, leaving Joel alone with a persistent Tiaahn.

Buried in his own thoughts despite Tiaahn's pressure Joel considered his past actions and found them wanting.

He had failed a Fledging request, Fled a monster in the sewers, refused to enforce his will upon a mere desk worker and worst of all possibly allowed the great house of Graftof to be besmirched.

His father would not be pleased with his conduct when he found out, Joel thought miserably, not pleased at all.

Joel clenched his fists and blocked out the painful thoughts, pulling Tiaahn subconsciously closer in the process.

He would just have to hope Lescar was finished and pray that his father was merciful.

 

 

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A note from Don Wihongi

ZZZzzzz ZZZzzzz

(the narrator dozes on his long-fingered hands letting the story autopilot. a little sign sown into the fabric of reality next to him, it reads 'do not disturb, also chapter may need fine-tuning')


About the author

Don Wihongi

Bio: I'm here to chew bubble gum and kick literary ass! and I'm all out of bubblegum.

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