In Loki's Honor

by

MDW

Life 26 - Chapter 15 - What Time is it? It's Timeskip o'clock!

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A note from MDW

I'm working overtime on an incoming project deadline at my job so there's less time to write.

Decrepitude in Yznarian was a strange phenomenon. The System boosted the physical resilience and endurance of a person even in old age. Lorna was no less capable, physical, and mentally now than a century ago. But when one ran out of "longevity", they would start to rapidly decrease in their abilities as the System's effects were withdrawn. I a span of a few years to a few months, depending on the species' original longevity, they would be as frail as a system-less elder on Earth.

Worse, for those of a high level, they were sometimes considered juicy and useless bags of Exp hanging to the last scraps of life. Death from old age was something extremely rare. In some cultures, the elders even gave themselves up to be mercifully killed by some trusted retainer or family member so they got the Exp. For them, it was considered better than to waste away.

Lorna had around twenty-something more years to live. She refused to be converted into a silk-folk body and start anew and any other life-prolonging suggestions I gave. Maybe I could restore her telomeres, maybe repair the damage her body accumulated from aging and oxidation. I wouldn't know until I tested. I had a plan for that.

She just shook her head and smiled. Cupping her hand over her heart, she told me, "I'm tired. Your return and exposing the betrayal from Cedric rekindled a fire I thought lost in here. You wish to be with me, my love, so stay. But know that I'm going to go one day. Let us enjoy the time we have left."

She sounded bitter when talking about Cedric. Accepting the inevitability of Lorna's departure was hard but something I had to do. I had to respect her wishes. That didn't mean I stayed idle. I put all my proficiency with alchemy to work making skincare and healthy products for her. Nutritional supplements, massages, and minor interventions to take care of superficial damage. The results would take a bit of time to show.

We trained Eric as the heir of the throne to Windemere. The former beast-kin was still Lorna's relative even though he became one of the cloth-folk after he died to the treacherous mass-murder spell of the Black Dragon King.

King Locksley appeared every four months in one of our major settlements to run his healing tent and operate on maimed and crippled citizens for free, spreading goodwill. One thing I wanted to test was a treatment for extending one's life. I found two elders, one male beast-kin and one female human that wanted to submit themselves to my treatment. I worked on them for a whole day each, restoring their internal organs, muscles, bones, skin. They left the operating table looking thirty, maybe forty years younger. If that fooled the System or was just a cosmetic improvement, only time would tell. I couldn't mess with their telomeres. Maybe I needed a higher proficiency and other abilities in that profession to mess wtih their DNA or it was just impossible.

But now it was too late to switch Professions. I could but the proficiency gains wouldn't change much.

 


 

I was sunbathing with Lorna in the palace gardens one day when I asked, "Lorna, that Perk you have, {Perfect Pleasure}, it modifies the reactions of those that you fuck, don't they?"

She smirked, "What, do you think I'm twisting your mind, my blue snake?" Her voice was sultry and full of innuendo.

Damn, she knew how to be provocative. I had to resist her allure otherwise we would go in the middle of the garden.

"Kinda. You told me it helped you to keep the brothel patrons from being too rough with you, right?"

She nodded, "Yes. It pacifies them. With continuous use, they become almost unable to hurt me."

I leaned next to her, "Can it cause infatuation?"

"Combined with the other Perks, yes," She confessed with a bit of worry. "Why do you ask?"

"You said it was the same Perk Cedric had, right?"

If my theory was correct...

"Which one? The grandfather or the grandson?"

"I think they both had it. No way Cedric would let the men of his bloodline without his greatest weapon."

She snorted and asked, curious, "Was it that big? He used a bastard sword in combat, didn't he?" The cat-kin was wiggling her eyebrows.

I sighed. "I don't know. I was blind, remember?" I pouted.

She pinched my cheek. "Just teasing," she cooed as I got a peck on the lips. "But yes. I think both had it."

"That's why your late husband didn't complete his quest. He couldn't. And also why you were so attached to him. After he was gone, you came back to normal."

Lorna chuckled and her lips curled into a wicked grin. She poked my forehead, "Someone is Jealous. No, Lakerta. The Perk helped us deepen our relationship just like it helps ours. But while your theory on why he couldn't assassinate me has some merit, it was not because of some Perk that I fell in love with the people I loved. Or was it, Mrs. {Matriarch}? A modicum of soul-searching can tell if you are being influenced by a social Perk or not."

I laughed, "You're impossible!"

  


 

The refugees I brought with me were absorbed easily by Windemere. They were kind in the spotlight because they came on the train. Devan and Talia were put to work under Kazuyran. I brought the three lamias that came from the Vintis Archipelago as my personal assistants.

Lorna and I sent letters to all the Kingdoms in Auvanini and some in Pekothas and the Scorched Continent - which needed a better name. For how long it would continue to be called that? My messenger birds made the task easy and reliable.

Funny enough, Sariandi reported that she was able to purchase the same Perk with Mother Yznera's blessing. The news that the {Summon Messenger Bird } Perk was exclusive to Yznera's faith quickly spread through everyone. it wasn't available for humans. Those that tried gained perks related to the [Courier] Class.

With all that work, two years passed. Lorna looked younger, healthier, and stronger than ever. But every year that passed was one less year we had to spend together.

Living in Windemere, surrounded by thousands of silk-folk, were-kin, and beast-kin had tons of benefits for me. For one, I earned tithes from all of their activities within a radius of fifteen kilometers. Two, these races had more base MP than humans so they contributed more to the mana wellspring, which I kept open all the time.

Whenever I had to use MP, I either converted SP using the unique Perk I obtained by killing the second Demon Lord, or Nenandil shared hers with me. {Erode Curse} felt like a fluke. I mean, two years and nothing? It had probably absorbed a billion MP by now.

I poured all over my Status, trying to find what happened. The Curse was there, just as it was. Only when I examined it in-depth did I find something added to the description.

 

Cold Iron Vulnerability (uncommon): You take 200% normal damage from attacks made of cold iron. [Erosion Status: 99.99999999%]

 

That's a reduction of ten orders of magnitude. I felt the urge to bash my forehead against the wall when I saw that. With a sigh, I activated my Skill, "{Remove Curse}!". It demanded 1 MP to break the curse. One. Point. Of MP. Damn.

 

Your curse {Cold Iron Vulnerability} was lifted.

 

I set the next curse to be eroded as {Forced Shift [moonbound]}. I vowed to check monthly and take note of the MP required to break the curse at all stages.

The Exp tithing was insane. For every one hundred base Exp someone of the right species gained in the country, I earned thirty thousand Exp. And my range covered the Dungeon. Most of the time, I earned more Exp than the person that tithed it to me. Each one of them earned around two thousand Exp from several activities every day. That, multiplied by the number of people in my range, and over two years, added to my own Exp gains, netted me three and a half trillion Exp. Enough for two levels.

 

You reached Elemental Lamia [Water] level 14.

You gained 1 human perk.

You reached Royal Lamia Champion level 15.

You gained 1 perk.

You gained 40 Skill Points.

Attributes above the cap were redistributed.

Withholding Attribute points. 34 / 100 withheld.

You reached Cartographer level 53. You gained 4 HP.

You reached Appraiser level 53. You gained 2 HP and 2 MP.

 

My Skill Points went into Yoga, raising it to Journeyman 49. I had diligently improved my proficiencies. Both my professions had several abilities to pick from.

 

Appraiser [124]: You can see the System information of a target, be it an item, person, or monster.

  • Pierce Forgery: Add half your proficiency to Mind to pierce fake status information.
  • Monster Information: You can fetch in-depth information regarding the target monster.
  • Estimate Attributes: You can estimate the Attribute values of your target, rounded to the nearest ten.

 

Cartographer [139]: You can create precise maps of the land around you and search for resources.

  • Sense Mineral Vein: You can sense the proximity of mineral veins at a range of Proficiency meters that are up to (Proficiency / 10) meters above or below you.
  • Map Dungeon: When inside a Dungeon, you have an intuitive knowledge of its layout.
  • Geopolitical Survey: After freely studying a settlement for one week, you can estimate its wealth and demographics.
  • Detect Map Flaws: You have a chance to sense when a feature on a map is incorrectly drawn.

 

To cap my [Cartographer] proficiency, I mapped the entire continent of Auvanini. It was a bit bigger than Australia.

 

Improved Exp Transfer (very rare): Multiply the range for all Exp transfers by 2. Equal Exp Split now works to a range of 400 meters and no longer requires the targets to be engaged in combat.

Movable Snake Fortress (ultra-rare): When in Snake Fortress mode, you and creatures protected inside your tail can move up to one-tenth of your move rate. Snake Fortress no longer breaks if you are forcefully moved.

 

With the "human" Perk, I tried to expand my Exp tithing. With the expanded range, I covered most of Windemere's countryside. As for my Class, moving while in {Snake Fortress} mode sounded good. Even though it was slow. The real gem was not leaving that mode when pushed or pulled against my will.

I would get another level in a year even if I did nothing, just from the expanded tithing.

My time was divided into taking care of and dating Lorna, practicing my professions, butchering the endless amount of monster corpses I still had to process in my storage, repairing the items I looted in my item box. I took a bite of every new monster species, trying to get some new ability through {Monstrous Gourmet}. But since I was not a goblin that evolved into a demigod ogre with a harem of beauties [1], it didn't work.

I also finished butchering the dragon corpses and retrieving their cores. I had one level 130 from the red dragon and two levels 151 from the Black King. I went for the strong one. This time, I didn't chew the crystalline core. I sucked it like a giant lollipop until I'd absorbed all the energy. It gave me a bucket full of a depleted powdered core which was good for low-level enchantments and some magical inks, a bit stronger than quartz chips.

 

You devoured a level 151 magic core.

Source: Dragon [black].

You gained 161 Billion Exp (228,010 base x 706,060 modifiers).

Half the Attribute bonuses were given to your familiar.

You gained +15 Strength.

You gained +15 Endurance.

You gained +10 Mind.

You gained +10 Willpower.

You gained +10 Magic.

You gained +15 Soul.

You gained the Perk: Necromancy Affinity (very rare): Necromantic spells have a 50% reduced cost and 50% more efficiency.

Withholding Attribute points. 100 / 100 withheld.

You gained the Perk: Surpasser VI (ultra-rare) All your Attribute maximums are increased by 60. You require 160 withheld points for the next rank.

 

Dragon Necromancer confirmed. At least I had a Perk to use with {Self-Sacrifice}. I doubt I'd ever need necromancy. And nobody should get my spirit magic confused with that vile discipline.

Another bump in my Attribute caps. There were nine points left from the core which went into Soul. I groaned as I noticed the changes. First, the Exp messages now rounded up to the nearest thousand. Second and worst, in {Surpasser}'s description. The number of withheld points increased with each rank now. Thanks a lot, Wyxnos. I can always count on you to make my life difficult. If it kept at a hundred points for each rank, I didn't have to do anything. But now I was losing too many Attribute points. No more playing around. I shifted my {Erode Curse} target to {Greater Feeblemind}.

I prepared and cremated the thousands of sentient's bodies in my item box after looting them. No matter the state they were in, I kept everything they had, be it clothes, accessories, armor, or weapons. I kept only two bodies. Lord Cedric's and one belonging to a half-elf man.

During this time, I concocted the perfect plan to cover up Cedric's death and also get rid of King Locksley's persona. I would enact it only after Lorna authorized me because it would spark the downfall of Bundeus' church. My vengeance was still on hold by her request. In the meanwhile, the official story was that Cedric was bedridden and King Locksley was at the Dragonfall Valley fighting monsters. As proof of the King's deeds, the crown started to sell processed monster parts, at cost for the local craftsmen, and with normal prices to monster part traders from the neighbors. I had plenty in my item box.

The added revenue and rumors drew adventurers to delve the Dungeon in Windemere. The lack of discrimination against non-humans brought several interesting characters. Including a clan of dwarves. After negotiating the terms with their envoys, we scheduled a proper ceremony to receive their pledge of allegiance.

 


 

I was as myself at the side of the throne room, by the area reserved for foreign delegates along with the other ambassadors. The dwarven entourage came and their leader, the oldest-looking dwarf, knelt before Lorna.

"Your Majesty, I'm Thane Alfondric Ashshield. Due to internal strife, my clan and I found ourselves without a home. We heard many tales of the glory and wealth of Windemere, and we are here to offer our fealty and services."

It was already arranged and negotiated, the Thane pledge merely a formality. The dwarves would greatly enrich Windemere with their exquisite craftsmanship and knowledge of the depths. They intended to dig an enclave underground near the foothills between Windemere city and the Dragonfall valley.

"We welcome our brothers and sisters of the Ashshield clan with open arms," Lorna said, regal as a model Queen. "We only ask that you keep your minds and hearts open. King Locksley's wish is for all species to live in harmony, understanding, and offering their unique expertise to help each other. Here, we have the best hunters the were-kin can offer. The beast-kin scouts. We have the best clothes made by the silk-folk. We have the song and woodcraft of the Elves, the hounds, and other magnificent animals the eleons and beast-kin raise. Even the versatility and adaptability of the humans. Recently, we added a few lamias to our retinue and we hope they can also contribute once their numbers grow."

The Queen stood and climbed down the staircase. She knighted five dwarven warriors into the Royal Guard and spoke to the crowd. "Today we are glad to add the stonecraft, wisdom, and metalworking expertise of the dwarves to our growing family."

Roaring applause descended from the audience. {The Tabard of Windemere} was brought and the thane donned the piece to prove his loyalty.

"Your Majesty," Thane Alfondric said when he got permission to speak, "Our people wish to prove themselves. Let us go assist King Locksley in clearing the dangerous mutated monsters of Dragonfall valley."

That was another thing that was negotiated previously. We fully intended to go hunting at Dragonfall Valley. My last appearance as King Locksley. Lorna raised her hand.

"King Robin of Locksley might not like very much to attend court," she smiled and relaxed her shoulders to let a wave of respectful laughter wash over the throne room but quickly regained control of her court. "But nobody can speak against his valor in combat or his dedication to the people of Windemere. Ambassador Princess Lakerta of the lamia will join my husband and me as we clear that dangerous valley.

"It is a good opportunity to address one issue that I know troubles many here. I'm not a young girl anymore, and I don't have children. That's why, on this day, Robin and I nominate my brother Eric of the silk-folk as my heir and retire myself from ruling on his behalf."

A blurb of comments and talk quickly erupted among the nobles and dignitaries. I used {Keening} as a sharp shrill to make everyone shut up.

"LONG LIVE KING ERIC!" I shouted.

 


[1] - The protagonist of the Japanese novel, "Re: Monster". Which was never an inspiration for the Troll novel. I only realized the MC had an ability similar to {Monstrous Gourmet} after the fact.

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A note from MDW

I added a segment in last chapter to deepen the characters' motivation.

Spoiler: Spoiler

 


About the author

MDW

Bio: This space reserved for something smart and witty that leaves the reader mindblown. Aaaaaany time now.... just wait.... (accepting submissions)

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