I open my eyes, back in the library of my soul. Librarian was waiting for me with a smile, and this time, she was dressed in a beautiful long tunic, as deep purple as I’d ever seen before. If this was in the real world, there’d be houses cheaper than her- my- dress.
“Welcome back!” She came over and gave me a big hug. “You’re back so much faster than I expected!” She was right – I didn’t think I’d be back here for years! Being with the Rangers, diving into that fire, had driven my levels up faster than they had any right to.
“Why the tunic? It’s lovely by the way, I wish I had one.” I said with a note of longing in my voice.
A slow, almost sad, smile went across her face.
“It’s because, in your heart, Pallos is home now. Not Earth. If we get another starter class – if the third class unlocks for us – we’ll get [Child of Pallos].”
In one sense, I was sad. Earth was gone, and I was truly a Child of Pallos now. In another, it just brought to the front of my mind something that’d been lurking there for a while. I wasn’t really an Earthling anymore, no matter how much I was leaning on the whole “reincarnated” thing right now. I was a Pallosian. I think that’s what we were called.
“Right this way.” Librarian led me to an area she’d carefully setup, filled with books on wonderous classes.
Oh, none of these were my class-up options, not unless I wanted to do a complete class change and revert back to level 8, grabbing a new initial class in the process. I did have dozens, if not hundreds of new options – my increased stats and achievements over time helped. No, these were stories of adventure, of romance, of interesting-potential-Elaines that could’ve been, but weren’t. There was no fiction section in the real world, there were no repositories of knowledge, no internet and the hundreds of thousands of books. I only had this one library, with interesting books. I was going to make every minute count.
There was something strange about time here – it went both fast and slow. I could spend several hours reading, and a moment would pass outside, but conversely, I could spend 10 minutes here, and 15 could pass outside. It was fairly arbitrary, and not even Maximus could explain what was going on.
Reminded me of stories of the Fairy Realm. I sat down, looking at the rainbow-colored pile of books in front of me, and started to read.
[Werewolf Lover]. A steamy romance novel, where the title basically said it all.
[Monster Tamer - Small]. Taming the smallest critters as animal companions. Cute cats. Singing birds. Small, snappy dinosaurs. So cute!
[Flexible Weapon Novice]. A story where I became an apprentice to Maximus, learning all sorts of weapons, how to smoothly move between them. Nunchucks! Swords! Shuriken! Lances! Axes and polearms, bows and arrows, pots and pans, a giant purple – who would fight with that!?
[Flame Invoker]. A delicious story of throwing fireballs, of the flames within me becoming more real, more physical. But mostly a large application of fireballs to whatever problems occurred. Fireballllsssss.
[Speedster]. Where I took my running to the extreme, learning tricks of the trade from Julius. How to be fast, how to not get hit, how to take [Running] and move it to the next level, and beyond!
[Fairy Supplicant]. Petitioning the Fae, dancing with the Sidhe. Dark deals with the Unseelie court, graceful moments of beauty with the Seelie. A bizarre and wondrous tale. A fantasy novel for a place like Pallos!
[Stealthy Scout]. How Arthur does all his tricks, a bible. Sneaking into towns. Stalking in forests. Vanishing when people’s backs were turned, showing up in the middle of a crowd like magic. I could practically hear my voice turn gravelly. For some reason, the book was written like a film noir.
[Inscription Apprentice]. Learning the secrets of runes and inscriptions, being able to make all sorts of oddities and wonders, where the knowledge of Earth met the magic of Pallos. Fridges. Ovens. Moving carts. And more!
It was a kinda boring book though, I wonder why Librarian included it.
[Light-Shaping Illusionist]. Movies! I could make, and play, movies! Granted, watching them was hard, but I always enjoyed a good tale of fame and fortune off of my own hard work.
Ok, fine, it wasn’t my own hard work, but there were no copyright lawyers on Pallos.
There better not be – I’d hate myself forever if I somehow accidentally invented them, or caused them to be made.
I closed the last book with a contented sigh, looking at the thousands of other novels scattered about. Just one more couldn’t hurt right…?
A soft cough behind me reminded me that yes, I needed to keep on moving. With a great big huffy sigh, I got up, heading over to the stairs.
The first class-up books were kept on the ground floor. The delicate chain blocking off the staircase had vanished when I came back to do my second class-up, and I followed the stairs up. While the first floor was rows upon rows of library shelves, packed with books, the second floor was more muted, dozens of 4-seater tables, with a book at every place to sit. The chain that’d been there last time, blocking off the 3rd floor, was now gone, and it was up that staircase I climbed, heart pounding.
What would I get? What was there? My future was above these stairs, just a few more steps! I wiped my sweaty palms on my tunic – how was I sweating here!?
The books here were even fewer – around a dozen – and each one was enclosed in a glass case, like the rarest and most precious of books. I looked around again. I would be able to read and check every single one.
While the 1st floor books were colored depending on how strong they were – or so it seemed – these books were clearly colored with a different color scheme. Verdant green, brilliant white, soft yellows and misty blues all caught my eye, along with more.
I decided to start with the book closest to me, a soft yellow cover, indicating it was the Light element, with a pink title, and work my way around in a circle.
[Artemis’s Eager Pet - Light] Was the title, back in the familiar configuration. I turned to the Librarian, arching an eyebrow. Really?
She walked over, and seeing the title of the book, facepalmed. “Really Elaine? What have you been doing to get this class?” I looked away, guilty at that. Right, she wasn’t the one that made the classes, just guided me. It was my choices and actions that lead to it being an option. I peeked inside, because it was a book.
Yeah, it was fairly demeaning. The only potentially useful thing in it was an [Artemis Finder] skill, but even that had poor shades to it. Moving on.
[Glutton of Virinum - Light] Was the name of the book, and I wanted the library to open up and swallow me whole. There was a reason for all that food! I needed it after blowing through so much mana! All of the skills were related to eating. [Unhinged Jaw]. [Rapid Consumption]. [Instant Digestion]. [Compact Figure]. The last one would make me look pretty to my perception no matter how much I ate – a dream from Earth. I shook my head at it. Not worth it.
[Breaker of Chains - Wind] was up next. It didn’t look healer-based, but the name was intriguing enough for me to take a look. Requirements: Broken out of captivity. Your desire to be as free as the wind. With this class, you’ll never be chained down, always able to escape like the breeze. +16 Free Stats per level.
I eyed it, wavering. It spoke to me on a deep, primal level. In the end, I reluctantly put it down, moving on.
In a book somehow a clear crystal color, while also being opaque, was [Foundation of the Hospital – Arcanite]. I didn’t bother reading it. It wasn’t an option, just letting me know that I’d been close to being able to get the class. I moved on, and started to get some options I’d consider taking.
[Splendid Medic – Light] Requirements: [Light of Hope]. 500+ Mana Regen. Healing the poorest, the outcast, those who even wish you harm. The ideal medic, you bring hope to the sick and injured, that they can find salvation in your skills. +2 Free Stats, +4 Mana, +8 Mana Regen, +4 Magic Power, +10 Magic Control per level.
A direct upgrade of my current class, but I wasn’t too sure. It felt like “yeah… you got to a class up… congratulations…”, like someone at the DMV stamping paperwork to get your license. Sure, it was an upgrade. But it was a reluctant one. I’d done so much more than just heal people, and I expected some of my class options to reflect that. I put it on the table, creating a “shortlist” of books that were acceptable to me. It wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t unacceptable the way [Artemis’s Eager Pet - Light] had been.
Speaking of reflecting….
[Picture of Health – Mirror] Requirements: Be consistently in good health. Healed those you saw. Mana 250+, Mana Regeneration 250+, Magic Power 250+, Magic Control 250+. You are the very picture of health, and in your reflection, you can restore others to the same level of well-being that you are currently at. +4 Free Stat, +8 Vitality, +12 Mana, +12 Mana Regen, +12 Magic Power, +12 Magic Control per level.
I read it a bit further. I’d be able to restore people at a distance! They’d get healed up to however healthy I was at the time. The problem immediately jumped out at me.
I couldn’t heal myself anymore. If I got hurt, that’d be like everyone in the team getting hurt. If I hadn’t been invited to the Rangers, if I wasn’t a Ranger myself now, it’d be tempting. As it was, it’d make me a glass-cannon healer, shattering in a single blow. It would mean that I wouldn’t have to do suicidal runs like the one to save Kallisto’s life, but as Artemis’s tapestry of scars attested to, the glass cannon in the back was not safe.
Still, it was an option, and it was an upgrade. Moving on.
[Oathbound Healer – Brilliance] Requirements: Faithful adherence to the [Oath of Elaine to Lyra]. You took a solemn vow to protect and heal, and by and large, you’ve mostly been sticking to it. With this, the Oath settles deep into you; you become a living, breathing embodiment of it.
I didn’t bother to check the stats, or the skills, before throwing the book away. That sounded suspiciously like my mind would be hijacked and thoroughly bound, and I got into this in the first place trying to escape chains.
Yes, I’d taken the Oath. Yes, I followed it, even to my detriment, even when it looked like Kallisto might run me through. But I had a choice. This sounded like it’d remove even the illusion of choice I’d given myself, and Elaine would vanish, to be replaced by a living, breathing flesh-golem following the commands of the Oath.
Librarian threw me a dirty look as she picked the book off the floor, and carefully put it back into its case. “You know, that one gave almost 130 stat points per level.” She curtly informed me.
My heart wavered the smallest hair at that, my desire for stats and to not be a burden nudging the meter.
A green book caught my eye next.
[Viridescent Druid – Verdant] Requirements: Love of healing all things, great and small. Magic stats all 150+. Healing skills. Willingness to heal non-humans. Your open mind and desire to heal has you trying healing animals as well as humans. With this, your dream comes true – you can heal animals and plants, as well as humans. +6 Free Stats, +2 Vitality, +2 Dexterity, +4 Mana, +4 Mana Regen, +6 Magic Control, +4 Magic Power per level.
I whistled, opening the book, peering into the depths. It showed me, glowing green light around me, every step restoring a tree, healing a bird’s broken wing. Beloved of animals and plants, able to having a glowing green radiance heal all things great and small. I narrowed my eyes as I checked carefully. Yes, I could still heal humans, but they got no special benefit or extras. I could also heal myself still. Ok, good, good, there wasn’t an obvious trap here. I stacked it on top of the [Splendid Medic] book already there.
[Therapeutic Bard – Sound] was next up. I paged through it idly, not really thinking I’d take it. I loved music, but I hadn’t played anything here. I had never been much of a player anyways, more a listener. I got slightly more interested when I realized it worked off of me singing – I could sing people into better health, and all who heard me got its benefits. There was even a chapter where, with the right set-up, I was able to get a healing noise echoing throughout an entire town, a feat of mass-healing that none of the other classes came even close to. I went back to the start, and looked over it again. The healing wasn’t particularly strong healing – this was a trade-off of individual power, for bulk, mass-healing. Let me check those stats…
+10 Free Stats, +6 Dexterity, +6 Speed, +8 Mana, +5 Mana Regen, +4 Magic Control, +10 Magic Power per level. Not bad.
I placed it on the table with [Viridescent Druid], the seemingly-innocent book I thought I’d discard making the shortlist.
[Goddess-Touched Priestess of Papilion - Mist] was next, an offer to become Papilion’s mouthpiece once more offering itself up. I eyed it warily, not even lifting it out of its case. Something related to Papilion showed up every time I changed my class, and small alarm bells were starting to go off. Had Librarian really showed me the class last time because it was one of the more powerful ones? Or was there something more sinister going on?
I shook my head. Librarian was me. I had to have faith in myself. If my inner soul was compromised, I was doomed already. I looked at her, and she slowly nodded at me, confirming that she was I, and I was her, and we were one and the same, untainted.
[Enduring Courier – Wind] Requirements: [Running] over level 50. Ran for hours on end without stopping. Used skills to continue running.
I stopped reading at that point. There was no way that was a healer-tagged class, and I’d worked too hard at it to pitch it for running, as much as I loved it.
Sure, I loved running, but I was a Healer, first and foremost.
I moved onto the next book, checkered lights on a black field. Most of the glass cases had one lock that Librarian undid as I arrived at them, this one had two.
[Constellation of the Healer – Celestial] Requirements: Light-aligned and Dark-aligned healing class. 150+ in each magic stat. Affinity for the stars and sky. You have walked beneath the Dragoneye Moons, healing all they can see – and more. +10 Free Stats, +15 Mana, +15 Mana Regen, +15 Magic Control, +15 Magic Power, per level
I read it carefully, eyes going wide. This was a merged class! It took both my Light and my Dark class into a single one. It was less powerful than the two classes working in tandem – even as they were now – but it was flexible. Problem was, it was still touch-range only. I weighed my options. Was that enough to disqualify it? I’d seen the problems being touch-range caused, and this wasn’t going to help me in the physical stat department. It did have a bunch of free stats though…
I decided that was musings for later, and I added it to the shortlist.
The next class was one I was sure would be here, and it was.
[Fire Rescuer - Light] Requirements – Dove into a fire to rescue someone. Bravery in the face of flames. You’re insane. Completely, certifiably, insane. You run into a burning building, poorly equipped, to save people. Congratulations. With this class, you can do it again, with protection from flames, protection from smoke, the ability to find people and pull them out, and the ability to cure fire-related injuries. +5 Free, +9 Strength, +8 Dexterity, +8 Vitality, +7 Speed, +1 Mana, +3 Mana Regen, +3 Magic Power per level.
I hesitated over the class, before deciding that it met my shortlist criteria well enough to make this round of cuts. I was unsure about the stat focus suddenly being physical – although it made sense, and I did need a lot more physical stats.
“Hey Librarian, what do you think?” I asked, gesturing at the five books in front of me. [Splendid Medic]. [Viridescent Druid]. [Therapeutic Bard]. [Constellation of the Healer]. [Fire Rescuer]. She sat down in front of me, looking at the books. Upside down. I guess she had a skill for that.
“Well, that depends what you want.”
“The first book is if you’re happy and content with what you have, and you want to go a bit further with it. The second one is if you want to start healing animals as well, possibly moving you to be some sort of Veterinarian in the future. Weaker heals, larger scope. The bard class is similar – more people at once, but a weaker heal. The Celestial class is a merger – weaker than your two classes working together, but you get a class slot freed up. You take a quarter-step away from being a Healer, but can gain so much more – even something like a Wood healing-class to compliment it. Lastly, Fire Rescuer is a laser-focus on a particular niche. You’d be great at it, but you’d run into the [World Traveler] problem.”
Right, where opportunities to BE a [Fire Rescuer] would be limited. I re-read through the book, realizing that healing people normally would also be weakened. Injuries relating to fire, I’d be amazing at, but other things? I gently set it to the side. Strike that out.
I put [Splendid Medic] off to the side as well. That was my “If I hated the rest” option, not my first option. Continuing on.
[Therapeutic Bard] was the next one that bit the dust. I wouldn’t have been able to pull a stunt like saving Kallisto, and from the look, and sound, of the Rangers, small, moderate healing wasn’t their concern, it was the big, sudden injuries. The Rangers were 6 – 7 with me – people, not 700.
My eyes were drawn like magnetism, like the eyes of the moon, to [Constellation of the Healer]. I had weaknesses, I had strengths. This kept all of my strengths, and let me handle my weaknesses, by giving me another class. Fuck. That was insanely strong now that I was thinking about it.
[Viridescent Druid] also kept most of my strengths, while covering one of my weaknesses – range – but the healing light it’d provide was, upon careful reading, weaker than what I currently had. [Constellation] was a bit weaker, but it was more due to compression of skills than a powering-down of skills. It still left me vulnerable; needing to touch people to heal them, but that weakness of mine could be mitigated by my second class, also shoring up multiple weaknesses at once.
[Constellation] it was. Silently, knowing I’d made my choice, we reverently put the books back, and headed downstairs. We made it to the library checkout desk, where I handed over my book for the Light class and the Celestial class, and waited for Librarian to check the book out to me. She stared at me.
“Yes?” I asked.
“I need the [Shadow Healer] book as well.” She said, holding out her hand.
Oh right, whoops. Combined class and all that. I fumbled it out – where had it been hiding? – and handed it over. She took the two books, and handed me one back.
“Goodbye Librarian. I hope to see you soon.” I said, waiting to leave, to wake back up. She just gave me a Look.
“You need a second book, remember?”