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Krohlo ordered the cutter I’d chosen pulled out, but I had to involve myself as the goblins with the necessary skills just didn’t have the numbers to pull all of the other ships out of the way. There were maybe two dozen present with a seamanship skill. The pitiful showing underlined why the gift I was being supplied with was manageable – the orc nation truly had no maritime inclinations.

I remedied their shortcomings with summoned crew, the watery constructs taking over the smaller boats as they exited the hidden harbor. We were able to pull the ships out of the way, but as we got the cutter into the water the tide stopped our efforts with its influx, closing the mouth of the harbor. I didn’t mind, as I was able to get aboard her, test that she really was still watertight, and begin outfitting her. I was still hoping to avoid claiming this ship and sail it the normal way, but that required more preparation and supplies.

Gerald joined me as I looked over the ship, though Jorgagu looked like he wasn’t at all interested in getting back aboard a ship, Travis looked like he didn’t want to encroach on my space, and Krohlo just seemed amused to watch me work.

“So … Domenic,” Gerald said. “I gather things are going well with the orcs, and I trust you, but Travis and I are feeling a bit out of the loop.”

I paused with my hand on a section of hull that was showing early signs of dry rot and sighed. “Sorry about that. Want me to recap?”

“Jorgagu was kind enough to fill us in while you picked out this ship.”

“I didn’t mean to keep you in the dark, it’s just been hard enough keeping myself straight between talking orcish and negotiating with a necromancer.”

“I’m not complaining to you, not really. I just imagined you were getting tense and starting to make decisions on the fly … wanted to give you a chance to air your thoughts. An upside of this whole language thing? Even if there are eavesdroppers they won’t understand us!”

I chuckled. “Well, on one hand I’m worried the orcs are trying to push crew on me to serve as their informants. On the other, they won’t really have much means of doing so once we’re gone. It still feels weird that they’re condition for giving me a vessel is that they also give me crew.”

“Perhaps they just want a stake in the game? Have their warriors on board to remind you of their interests?”

“I thought of that, and hope that’s all it is. We’ll see; because the more I think about it the more excited I get about having a boarding team made up of orc shock troops.”

“Don’t get too greedy, it’ll get rather crowded sailing this ship.” Gerald followed the wood I’d already examined with his eyes before turning his hawk-like focus squarely on me. “Tell me why you aren’t claiming this ship.”

“It’s complicated. Typically I raise a new ship and discard the old one. I have an active quest tied to the Death’s Consort though, and can’t get rid of it. That makes me stuck. My next upgrade for raising the ship costs 400,000 XP.”

“400,000!” Gerald exclaimed.

“Yeah, exactly.”

“You have that much?”

“A bit more than.”

“Wow. So … skimming over the hundreds of thousands of XP you’ve gathered and the ridiculous prices for your profession … what’s the holdup?”

“If I invest it now, I can’t use it on any other abilities I might need. That’s most of my XP there! I need to be able to be flexible.”

“Okay, what other abilities are you considering?”

“Well,” I faltered.

Geralds’ laser focus somehow became more intense. “What’s going on?”

I sighed. “I want to develop my raise crew ability.”

“But you hate raising crew!”

“Living crew, yeah! It’s surrendering their lives! But for deceased people, it’s a second chance at life, and I’m not coercing them in any way. They still have the full option to not be raised.”

Gerald studied me for several long moments. “So who’d you lose that you want to resurrect?”

My throat clenched. “A lot of people. Some I killed and shouldn’t have. Others I … I was responsible for.”

“Not your father, right?”

Irritation flashed through me. “No! He’s dead and he’s staying that way.”

Gerald nodded. “Good! Jorgagu said he was worried about how your patricide title was impacting your mind.”

“Yeah, well, I’ll admit it’s doing something but I don’t have any desire to resurrect the man.”

“So you need this upgrade to resurrect people?”

“The upgrade lets me reach people who’ve been dead longer, yes.”

“How long per upgrade?”

“I don’t know! It isn’t spelled out and there’s not a manual for my class. I just don’t want to find their resting place only to not be able to do anything.”

Gerald let my words hang in the air, and the longer they stayed there, the more I realized I was being foolish. Maybe I couldn’t reach those I wanted to save, but not getting a second ship was hamstringing my profession. My profession was my ace, the only reason I’d been able to fight the ships of the fleet.

I still stood by my reasons for not claiming the Isa. I had to be careful about the ships I raised, as I didn’t control the perks they got – those were based on my history with it, and could be detrimental instead of helpful. I couldn’t afford to not claim my next ship, though.

I took a deep breath. “I hate spending so much XP at once.”

“I’m flabbergasted that’s what it takes for you! You’ll have to tell me about it later, my cook upgrades average in the hundreds these days. I thought a thousand was an expensive profession.”

“Yeah, well, rare profession means it’s a whale to feed. Thanks Gerald.”

“Anytime, friend.” He clapped me on the shoulder, and followed me to the deck.

I told the others I was going to claim the cutter after all and bought the ability, 400,000 XP disappearing from my reserve. I placed a hand on her deck and exerted my profession.

Would you like to raise “Cutter” as your ship?

The last time I’d seen this prompt had been a bad day. Now, however, I had more options. Affirming the prompt brought up a new option.

Unable to replace Death’s Consort.

“Cutter” slotted as second ship.

Multiple ships detected under your control, fleet interface unlocked.

That was new, and to be explored soon.

“Cutter” has been raised as your cursed ship! Ship interface has been added and adjusted for ship type.

The ships history and your experience with it have an effect on the nature of the ship’s curse. You have no history or connection with this ship. Given your selection and appraisal of the ship, cursed status has been set as: Perceptive Eye.

Basic level of purchased upgrades applied. Allocate XP transfer for further adjustments.

I’d wondered about that; changing ships caused some loss in the XP investment I’d made into upgrades. If I created a new ship, would I be starting from scratch or would it siphon from Death’s Consort? Apparently, I got the basics just with my Raise Ship ability, and could do a bit more adjusting as I saw fit. Perhaps through my new fleet interface?

You are in an area that has been deprived of mana. Certain functions will be limited.

When I raised my ship I sent my mana out to collect more ambient mana to fulfill the full cost of the ability. I’d noticed this time that the strands had been thickest in the water, had extended in the air, but stopped at the stone. The little harbor built into the cliff didn’t have enough ambient mana of its own to fuel the skill, and it had needed to extend longer tendrils out the mouth of the harbor into the wider ocean to fuel the cost. In the meantime, there was no ambient mana here.

Before I could dive into my interface for the ship, Krohlo cleared his throat and reminded me that he was organizing potential crew. Though he seemed as intrigued by what I’d done with my ability, it might not have made him very comfortable as he seemed to be noticing the sudden lack of mana in the area.

I had developed a rapport with the old orc and we’d relaxed around each other. For this upcoming recruitment, however, I donned my Captain’s face. As I did so, the simple joy I’d allowed myself to feel about overcoming my restriction and claiming a ship to challenge the mighty waves of the ocean disappeared, replaced by the indomitable will of a cursed slave who’d dared defy Davy Jones and who now dared to defy the human world.

We legged it back to the Seagate where Krohlo’s greeting party of zombies had first met us. Now, there were several rows of orcs standing in a semi-circle formation.

They were an interesting bunch. A few older, scarred orcs hung in the back but almost all were young, their skin having a smaller assortment of scars but no drastic or crippling mementos. While the old ones generally looked on with the practiced experience of evaluating foes and knowing their limitations, I could tell instantly that the youths were brash, considering themselves invincible and itching for a fight with anything.

In other words, trouble.

Before I could ask Krohlo why he was trying to saddle me with adolescent warriors I saw the chieftain … and there was no confusing him with any other warrior.

 

 

Name

Grish

Age

63

Race

Orc

Profession

Warlord

Level

52

 

 

Health

520

Mana

380

Stamina

490

 

 

Strength

50

Agility

41

Dexterity

42

Constitution

52

Endurance

49

Intelligence

38

Wisdom

38

Charisma

40

Luck

40

 

Whereas I was used to seeing high leveled warriors move with a certain readiness, like they were on their toes and ready to move at a moment’s notice, the chieftain moved with a primal grace. He was at ease, and he could strike and cleave a simpler warrior down without breaking that ease.

He stood head and shoulders above the other orcs, his brawn was discernable without the posturing the youths before him performed. He had long tusks jutting from his lower jaw, and a scar that made an X over his face. He wore a fur mantle with heavy leather straps and carried a pair of large battleaxes at each hip, with the handles of throwing tomahawks peeking out from his outfit.

As for stats, he was a monster. It was the nature of the world that humanoids could not specialize in one stat too much, and I’d wager it had rankled on younger orc warriors that they needed to put free attribute points into ‘softer’ stats to avoid imbalance (though Jorgagu had taught me orcs had a more forgiving imbalance range). However, Grish had done it. He’d leveled up to the tier of the truly elite, and even had more mana than most mages I’d met. I wasn’t fool enough to think that the mighty leader hadn’t found some way to utilize his mana pool too, strength-based warrior or not.

I inclined my head to the chieftain, even as my paranoia made me wish to avoid him at all costs. Krohlo had no such compunctions, and stumped up to the warlord.

“Well? Is this all you could muster?”

The warlord rumbled, though not threateningly or in annoyance. “With stipulations that they must come willingly? It would take more than even your haranguing to convince the totems to give up impending war for a life under a human, bobbing on the water.”

Krohlo stamped his wooden foot in irritation, but didn’t disagree. “Speak to them now, then,” he groused.

Grish turned to the assembled group and effortlessly raised his voice. I imagined that he’d pitched his voice before thousands before. “Brothers! You have heeded the summons to face an old threat! Once again the seas are our enemy. We sent warriors out on the ships of our allies, and nearly all have fallen. The humans look to our nation and they see expansive, empty land, fit for the taking once they’ve cleared it of our blood. They will take their ships anywhere along our coasts they please, completely uncontested until they fall upon our homes.”

I thought he was overselling the humans’ desire for Bandarn. If anything, they wanted to war with Nilfheim, but I wouldn’t disagree that the perception of orcs was of bloodthirsty savages and it wouldn’t take much propaganda to turn opinion against them.

“But we have one more chance! Even as the snake-brethren and the tarish back away from the human fleets, we have an unexpected ally: the former servant of Davy Jones, once human himself, now sails against the invaders. He needs strong warriors – real warriors – to fight his enemies. Hear what he demands of you, and consider how you might defend our nation. Consider the glory you might win where other warriors won’t tread!”

With his parting words, Grish gave me an inscrutable look and left. He didn’t just leave the center of the formation, he walked up the road and left us all behind. He was not going to put his finger on the scale of my recruitment strategy, nor was he going to pressure me or personally challenge me.

Honestly, it was the most courteous thing I could have asked for.

I took his spot in the center of the semi-circle formation, Krohlo and Jorgagu following along behind me. I didn’t try to rally them with more words, Grish had left them primed for me. I’d learned that silence was also a powerful tool.

I let them see me. I didn’t hide my stats, inviting them to look even as I examined them. There were 30 orcs present, 8 of which were older, more mature warriors, though they were not particularly high leveled. There were many younger warriors, yet the largest demographic present by far were orcs that didn’t yet have any profession at all. Looking at them, I wasn’t sold on them even having their full growth yet either.

Several had taken the chance to analyze me. I could tell based on their skeptical looks. My level was unimpressive for the way Grish had talked about me, and my charisma imbalance wasn’t doing me any favors with starting off on the right foot. I could only hope my gaunt, hard features made me look fierce to them instead of sickly.

One young orc, standing in the center of the front row, snorted. I noted that his eyes were filled with defiance. He didn’t speak out, but I could guess that he was just waiting for me to give him an opportunity to do so. So I stepped forward … and ignored him. I went to someone else.

I silently assessed my candidates. I was hurting for warriors, yes, but that didn’t mean I was willing to take on a problem case just for another axe. I didn’t single him out, but one of the old orcs was obviously crippled. I could respect his wish to die fighting at sea for his nation – my guess as to his reason for volunteering – but I wasn’t going to take a mediocre crippled warrior like him without some better reason.

Many of the young orcs had their backs up and a sneer on their face when I first stepped in front of them, but most had lost a measure of their bravado once I’d finished my analysis, shooting glances towards the trouble orc as though to get some guidance from him.

When I found myself in front of said problem child, analyze told me his name was Gnaraugh. I was sorely tempted to challenge him, ask what his problem was, or even just shake my head dismissively at him and undermine whatever influence he had on the others. Instead, I kept my silence and gave him the same looking over I’d given everyone else. Since none of the other orcs had dared to speak first yet, Gnaraugh refused to be the first to crack and I left him simmering.

After looking over all the assembled orcs, I moved back to Krohlo – who was watching me with quirked eyebrows – and quietly asked my questions.

“Why the difference in age of volunteers, and who is Gnaraugh?”

Krohlo harrumphed. “The chieftain could order an entire sect to support you if he chose to, but your own words were that you’d not take anyone who did not come willingly. This is who you get: those who have no sept and totem or those who are the only survivors. Except the runts … Gnaraugh is of the raven sept, and has recently struck out to establish his own totem. He gained the War Leader title and is a promising warrior – for all that he’s an arrogant prick. Still, he shows promise and the others – the butterflies! – they hang onto him rather than forging their own path.”

My understanding of septs and totems was nonexistent, but I could see what Krohlo meant in his explanation. “That doesn’t explain why he came here.”

“Curiosity, troublemaking, who knows? If you didn’t gather it already, he doesn’t like you. I’ve got to commend your tactic, though. Silence … every orc would have expected you to exhibit your strength, or at least rally them with your words. You put them off balance. I wouldn’t call it a good thing, but you’re no orc and couldn’t have followed Grish’s words.”

I turned on my heel and looked over the assembled group again. Without the young orcs, I could gain maybe a dozen warriors. That wasn’t bad at all, more than I expected to gain, but I’d picked up on what Krohlo had said regarding Gnaraugh.

The orc was young and hot-headed but talented. He’d also gained the War Leader title. I knew it was a common thing in the human army – officer’s promotions often depended on their war leader rank – but it wasn’t seen as often at sea. Sailing and fighting were two different disciplines, and the navy typically trained its sailors separately and then drafted army combatants to serve on board. The ability to lead a thousand men wasn’t seen as an important thing when a ship could only hold a portion of that. Instead, skills like tactician and leadership were encouraged.

But the benefits of having a war leader manning the boarding teams were very real; I’d heard my father extol upon them when we’d talked. And here I had a talented orc with a skill that his sept and nation no doubt wanted to claim and foster themselves, an orc who’d bring with him a cadre of followers.

I wanted him.

So, imagining how this was going to go, I paced directly in front of Gnaraugh and gave him what he wanted. “Speak.”

Gnaraugh’s eyes lit up as he sneered in disdain. “How do you expect to lead us in victorious battles with only 10 levels? It is pathetic!”

He got a chorus of grunts and affirmation from his lackeys, but I ignored them. “Tell me, Gnaraugh, how you gain levels.”

“Do you not even know how to grow? Challenge a real enemy! Fell them, and gain experience for your fight!”

“What are your rewards when you challenge greater enemies?”

“The greater the foe, the better the XP reward!” Gnaraugh boasted. “I have killed enemies over 20 levels higher than me!”

“And once you use XP to level, what happens to the gains from your foes?”

The young orc frowned for the first time. “It is time for you to find stronger foes to fight.”

I shook my head. “Challenging stronger foes is all fine, but you take even greater risks for a less beneficial XP reward. Now, compare someone who at level 1 and continuously slays enemies 10 times his level – what are his gains?”

“The gains from a level 1 automatically go to leveling!”

“Yes, so let’s say they get their profession and can instead apply their XP there. Let’s say they get it at level 10.” Gnaraugh frowned but I cut off whatever he wanted to say. “Let’s say that this level 10 person continues to fight higher level enemies and instead of increasing his level, gaining attribute points and earning less future XP, he puts it all towards his profession. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he has a really good profession that lets him kill even stronger enemies.” I bored my eyes into Gnaraugh. “Do I need to make myself any clearer?”

The orc growled at me and showed me that I wasn’t some commander in front of human troops: he shoved me. Only my sea legs skill allowed me to keep my feet as I recovered from my surprise, all of the orcs having maintained ranks until now.

“Human, your talk is weak. We just heard chieftain Grish speak; your tricks might be how humans avoid being crushed, but the way of the orc is the way of strength!”

“Very well,” I said loudly before Krohlo could step in and undermine me – though a quick glance showed me the old orc was actually sitting back and letting me play this out. “Gnaraugh, I understand you are a war leader among your people. I also understand you do not respect my leadership and consider yourself stronger than me. It is time to rectify these things.”

I planned to ask Krohlo then and there what the process was for an official challenge, but Gnaraugh was excited and gave me the answer.

“You challenge me to a duel for supremacy?”

“I challenge you,” I affirmed. “But we will do it unarmed and we will not fight to the death.”

“There’s little risk in a battle of no consequences,” Gnaraugh objected, only for one of the older orcs in line to lackadaisically butt in.

“Death matches must also be approved – are you so desperate to tell your raven sept you want to duel this human?”

Gnaraugh glared daggers at the older orc, but began disarming. “Fine!”

I also began taking out most my hidden blades, letting the assembled orcs see how many I carried. Or rather, a lot of the ones I carried. I never really forfeited all my weapons if I could help it. I also pulled off my clothes, leaving just my pants. They might have given me some protection, but this was how things were done among humans so I didn’t really think about it. I also wanted to show off my scars, the tableau of whip marks on my back had turned from just ugly to ghastly with my charisma imbalance.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Jorgagu whispered to me.

“Mostly,” I replied. “Worst case, I embarrass myself and lose a few recruits, right?”

Krohlo overheard and arced an eyebrow, but I turned to the fight at hand.

I did actually have an idea of what I was doing. When I’d analyzed Gnaraugh, he had well-developed weapon skills, but his unarmed combat level was only 6, two levels lower than my own. He also didn’t have dirty fighting or an equivalent skill. He was a warrior learning how to kill efficiently, not a brawler. By taking his weapons away, I should have the advantage.

Of course, he also had a few more attribute points in strength than I did, and he no doubt had some professional skills that weren’t dependent on having a weapon in hand, so it wasn’t an easy fight or a guaranteed win.

The semi-circle of orcs had begun to shake itself out into a ring, but we were close enough to the sea that the ring only became ¾ of a circle. I didn’t know if there were any official procedures before we started, but decided to treat this like an illicit backstreet brawl like I’d used to get into with crews in my early years. I’d been a teenage punk then, and learned most of my dirty tricks by suffering through them because of more experienced brawlers.

That mentality served me well as Gnaraugh suddenly lunged forward, using a skill to blur with speed! If I hadn’t been maintaining my movement buffs since I set foot on land, he would have laid me out. As it was, I dodged with a light slap on his arm as he passed. Gnaraugh turned and grinned but didn’t lunge again, feinting and attacking but retreating quickly.

It took me a minute to understand his game. He’d placed himself between me and the sea, and refused to let me pass again. He thought I derived power from the water and sought to starve me of it. He was right about needing the sea, but I didn’t need the ocean for a fistfight – I’d learned those skills separately.

Having dodged for nearly a minute with simple slaps and shoves to redirect the orc, Gnaraugh was getting confident of his superiority. I decided to disabuse him.

The next time the young orc swung, rather than use my hand to push his arm away, I leaned from the obvious haymaker and shot a fist directly into his nose. I felt bone break, both his nose and my knuckles. Anyone who has gotten the unarmed fighting skill knows that getting a hit like that turns your vision blurry, and the orc swung to defend from my follow-up even as he reeled. I tanked his weaker blow to grab his shoulders and pull down even as I thrust my knee into his diaphragm.

The air went out of the doubled-over orc and I firmed my stance to swing a strong hit on the side of his head. My hand erupted in pain – much more pain than I’d expected – and Gnaraugh didn’t drop with his lights out. He barely moved at all. Instead, he easily pushed me away and stood up, trying to regain his air. I saw then that his skin looked like it had taken on a rocky texture, and while the side of his face looked like someone had swung a sledgehammer on the stone, it didn’t seem to bother him.

I cursed under my breath. This was the kind of unexpected skills I’d been worried about.

Still, he took several moments to recover the air I’d knocked from his lungs, and that was time he wasn’t attacking. Surely his skill had a time limit and a cooldown?

With a growl, the young orc charged me, and I spent the next minute hoping his skill was about to lapse.

No dice.

After a strong haymaker impacted my ribs, I seriously considered using some spells. Still, I avoided that because I wanted the fight to be as ‘clean’ as I could make it and still win. I doubted winning would have the same impact on the orcs if I did it because of magic.

But Gnaraugh’s hits hurt.

I eventually realized that I couldn’t count on running down Gnaraugh’s defensive ability. It could be powered by his stamina, which meant he’d keep it going long enough to force me to use my mana on spells. I needed a way to take him down through his defenses … except I was fighting with my fists – which his defenses excelled at rebuffing.

Gnaraugh was still trying to keep me away from the ocean, however. In his mind, it was an asset for me. So, keeping me away from it became a liability for him.

I dove to the side and rolled to my feet, making a break for the ocean like I was going to dive into it. Gnaraugh executed another lunge, blurring to intercept me from the water he thought would boost my power …

Except I had better speed than him, and my whole move was a feint. Instead of tackling me with his lunge ability, he came up empty handed with my arm already snaking around his throat.

He tried to pull my arm free. He tried to pull me off of him. He tried to elbow me. None of it worked, as I tightened my arms in a headlock and lifted my heels, letting my full body weight press against his armored skin. He was tough, and between his skill and his constitution suffocating him took far longer than I expected, but I rode him to his knees then to the ground, not letting up. When I was sure he was about to pass out, he lifted a finger and pointed upwards.

I wasn’t quite sure what that meant and glanced at my allies. “He yields!” Jorgagu supplied.

I released him and backed off, letting the orc catch his breath again. He dropped his skill, and the rocky texture of his skin returned to normal. He stood up as quickly as he could, obviously hating to be on the ground.

“You would not have won if we’d fought with our weapons!”

I could argue the point, but I wanted to enlist the guy, not kick him while he was down. “No, I wouldn’t have. It’s why I determined we would fight unarmed. It’s why I have no problem with running when my enemies try to corner me. Choosing the battlefield is half the fight.”

“Know your enemy, choose the terrain,” an older orc intoned.

I nodded at him. “I can pick lots of ways for me to win, but I can’t pull it off forever. I have strong enemies to face and I want you to be my lieutenant, leading the warriors in fights I’m not suited for. What do you say?”

I held out my forearm, and after looking at it long enough for me to think he was going to turn me down, Gnaraugh clasped it.

“Very well, human. I will fight for your banner! I will lead a totem aboard a ship to fight the hordes of ships at sea!” with his exclamation, Gnaraugh lifted both our arms into the air and yelled a battle cry, blood still streaming from his broken nose. He had turned from the orc who was going to pull most of my recruits away to the one most determined to gather an even larger force.

You have advanced to skill level 7 in Leadership. People are more likely to follow your direction; your team receives a 0.5% boost to effectiveness per level.

It was good to be doing the kind of inspiring things that advanced the leadership skill again … even if it meant some cracked ribs.

 

I had been prepared to turn away a few of the orcs, but in the end I turned away none. The reason was Gnaraugh. Where I saw a crippled warrior looking for a death at sea, he saw a skilled fletcher and bowyer. Where I saw adolescents still in their single levels, he saw a potential for a great warrior specialization centered around fighting at sea.

I still marveled how staunchly he’d turned around. He was still willing to get in my face and argue, but now he was doing it because he took it as his responsibility to make a strong fighting force for me. He even asked to go back and recruit among his sept, and I had to remind him that we only had an 80 foot cutter to carry our crew.

I found some time to duck away and use my powerful healing spell, restoring my fractured hand, cracked ribs and bruises. I’d consider healing Gnaraugh, but I needed to let my mana regenerate first.

And I didn’t mind letting him deal with the pain for a while, new ally or not.

Once the group had been assembled and I heard from everyone’s lips that they knew what they were getting into and accepted my terms, I offered them the choice to be my crew. Moments later I had 30 new crewmembers, all of whom got wild grins as I started to explain some of the benefits of the curse, such as the changes to damage resistance.

Krohlo watched, and afterwards I approached him regarding any insight he might have regarding curses. Unfortunately, necromancy didn’t have the kind of relationship to curses that I’d thought. Apparently that was a realm that liches dabbled in, and Krohlo’s attitude towards them was rather clear. He did hesitate before offering me advise on another matter, however.

“Your profession ability, you use it to pull mana from the area for fueling the spell? Well, I know something of this. I have an ability to raise all the dead within a given area, and it also depends on gathering ambient mana. However, the land is slower to recover from my use than the ocean seems to be, and I avoid creating such dead zones when I can.

“Anyways, I spent quite some time studying the ability before I ever considered attempting it without the structure from my profession. Have you already developed the spell?”

“No,” I said eagerly. “But I’ve been working on it!”

“Very well, I offer to teach you my insights on it. With practice, you can unlock a simple version of the spell using the profession ability as a guide, but it will take much more practice before you can upgrade it into something nearly as powerful.”

I honestly didn’t need something as powerful – I couldn’t contain all the mana my ability gathered. Something a fraction as powerful would completely refill my mana pool!

“Teach me.”

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