A note from Selkie

I oh-so-briefly made it to #7 on trending, and was SO EXCITED to be on the front page of RR!

Then as I was doing my last edit runs on all my posts, I fell off of #7 down to #8. Drat!

The worst part is - I didn't get the screenshot! My warm fuzzy feelings! Come back!

I'd like to thank MisterMagikMan and RadaientShadow for writing me such wonderful reviews. Thank you :)

Chapter away!

I woke up after yet another terrible night’s sleep, yawning and stretching. At least I was clean. I got my stuff together, heading out to the wagon with the banner fluttering in the breeze. I took a deep breath of the sea air, long years of living next to the sea combined with the season suggesting, hinting with a wink-nudge, that a storm might be brewing, was thinking of coming in.

Today would be fine though. I hung out for a while at the “waiting” desk – Artemis was grumbling under her breath about being ‘stuck here all day’, and generally giving off a malcontent air – snacking on some breakfast, waiting for Kallisto.

Kallisto eventually showed up, and I kept snacking as he grabbed some breakfast, popping back out of the wagon, somehow looking fresh and clean, in spite of never having gone near the baths. I eyed him suspiciously. Did he have some sort of skill for that? Something to help his game? Ah well.

“Ready Elaine?” He asked, polishing off his breakfast in record time.

“Ready! Can we stop by the courier guild first? I’d like to send a letter.”

Kallisto shrugged. “Sure, no skin off my back. Day’s yours.”

We explored town a bit, asking for the occasional directions to the courier’s guild. We found it, and I popped in to send a letter back home, as promised. I’d delayed on sending it, but a day or so of delay didn’t matter, not when I’d been gone so long.

The letter took a few tries, and cost me a few extra coins as I needed to keep rewriting things. I wanted to tell them all about the monster attacks, and how I’d helped, but I didn’t want them to worry too much. I settled on shorter and sweeter.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Hey! It’s Elaine! I’m still alive and well.

I managed to bump into Artemis, and I’ve been traveling with her and her Ranger team. We’re in Virinum now! It’s both like Aquiliea, and not like Aquiliea at the same time. Lots of clay, not a lot of dyes. I hit level 128, and my classes merged! I’m a Celestial Healer now! The skills are so pretty, I’ll show you when I’m in Aquiliea next!

I’m staying with the Rangers for now – they’re all so nice! Julius is the boss, Origen is the strong silent type with a thousand tattoos, Maximus has been teaching me about the System, Kallisto’s really nice, Arthur’s the size of a mountain and can somehow vanish, and you know Artemis.

I love you two tons! I’m safe and happy. I hope things are going well!

Your loving daughter,


I decided that telling them I was a Ranger now would just freak them out more, and left that out. I eyed my letter critically, the most recent iteration.

A bit smudged, a bit stained, but otherwise good enough. I brought it up to the counter, gave directions where in Aquiliea to deliver the letter, lightened my pouch considerably for the delivery fee, and headed back out with Kallisto.

“Healing,” I said, starting a conversation. “how do you suggest I find people to heal?” I had some ideas, but Kallisto was the master. If his idea was no good, I could always fall back on mine.

“Pretty simple!” He said. “Follow me!”

I followed Kallisto to the large, central market.

“We’re not allowed to setup a stall here in the town center.” I said, pointing out the obvious. “The local guard would probably be pissed if we setup our own operation outside of the lines, without paying taxes.” Ideally, I’d have a place in the center market, but the cost was far outside of what I could afford, especially if I wanted to heal people cheaply. It was an option to setup a stall next to the Argo, but that was kinda out of the way. Not a lot of foot traffic.

“Yup!” Kallisto said. “Which is why we’re not going to set one up ourselves. However, we can ask around, and see if someone would let us use part of their stall.”

“Why would they do that?” I asked, dodging another group of people as we were in the thick of the babble that was the market. Big stalls, small stalls, colorful stalls, the main difference being painted ceramics causing the riot of colors instead of dyed cloth.

“Advertising.” Kallisto answered, casually slapping the hand of a kid reaching for his pouch. I eyed the kid. Hand didn’t look broken, no need for me to intervene. Instead I protectively grabbed my pouch, and locking eyes with him, stuck my tongue out at him. He scattered. “We get a small corner of the stall, yell a bunch about discounted healing. People come to us, and while you’re healing them, or if we’re lucky, waiting in line for healing, they’re right next to the merchant, who’s selling them things. Everyone wins. Unlikely to work for a specialty merchant, but a general goods or food…. Ahha! Let’s try here.”

Saying that, Kallisto stopped at a large, sprawling stall. Calling it four or five stalls glued together would only be inaccurate in the glue part of it. Nailed together? Nailed together. Food, pottery, trinkets of all sorts were arrayed in a dizzying manner all over. The far section even had a nice assortment of jewelry.

Kallisto began negotiating briskly as I looked over the jewelry, eyes widening. This wasn’t the twisty copper that Bakus was making all those years ago. No, these were gold and silver, with Arcanite being used as gemstones. I wanted. I wanted very badly.

“How much?” I asked about the smallest piece I could see to the man keeping close guard over the jewelry. He named a price that I couldn’t come close to affording. My shoulders slumped, and he smirked at me, making a “shoo” motion with his hands.

“Elaine, good news!” I almost jumped as Kallisto started talking with me. “Not only is Kosmimatus ok with us sharing some stall space, he’s even willing to pay for everyone!”

“Oh?” I asked, sure there was a catch. Kallisto leaned down conspiratorially. I threw up [Veil of the Aurora] around us, just another flash of bright skill-color in the marketplace.

“The payment is optional, and sadly we’re touching politics.” Politics, bleh. The look on my face must’ve been transparent, as Kallisto followed up. “He’s gearing up to run for Senator. He’d like to buy your services for a full day, and not only will he draw traffic to his stall, he’ll be buying a ton of good will. Not only that, but he’ll be shielding you from the ire of anyone you’re undercutting. Instead of being ‘that wandering healer coming in and undercutting us’ to the local healers, you’re now external hired help, and any annoyance they might feel gets directed to Kosmimatus, since it’s his fault, not yours. Since he’s just doing it to buy good will, they won’t care nearly as much as someone coming in to just help.”

This politics nonsense was making my head spin. I just wanted to heal people, damnit! Why was it suddenly complicated? And people getting mad just because I wanted to help, and being less-mad when it wasn’t for a good purpose? People made no sense.

“And?” I asked, knowing there was more.

“And we wouldn’t be doing it as Rangers. Rangers don’t get involved in politics, at all. Too much potential mess. Imagine if every candidate we supported won – or if we supported someone and they lost. Either way our image is tainted, and our work harder. Pins off, and you’re just a healer, and I’m just your bodyguard.”

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Ranger’s Lore] has reached level 8!]

Kallisto thought for a few more moments. “I think I accurately stated what you can do, but I might have oversold you. Today might end up being high-pressure, although you’re free to snack on other things Kosmimatus is selling.”

Free food? Free food. The politics was hard, but food and jewelry to heal?

“Alright, I’ll do it.”

I dropped [Veil], and put one and one together.

“Hey wait, you picked this one because there’ll be more women to flirt with.” I accused Kallisto.

“Guilty!” He said, not a shred of remorse on his face. “But it works out for you, so what do you care?”

I rolled my eyes, as we went over to Kosmimatus, a robust man with pianist fingers.

“This must be Elaine!” He said with gusto, with vigor! “Kallisto’s been telling me all about you! Forgive me, you look a tad young, and while you are clearly both Rangers – congratulations on becoming a Ranger at such a young age – I hope you don’t mind if I ask for a small demonstration?”

I looked him up and down. “Sure, I don’t mind a small demonstration, but could I get a small demonstration of your jewelry offering? I hope you don’t mind.” I said the last bit cheekily, figuring that while, yes, he’d been asking very politely, and it was a reasonable offer, I’d treat him the same way he treated me. Golden rule and all that.

Kosmimatus blinked a few times, clearly processing what I’d just said. Once it clicked for him, he roared with laughter.

“The audacity! The panache! I like you! Here!” He made a ‘come-hither’ motion with his finger, as a pair of dazzling earrings lifted themselves off of the mini-pillow they’d been on, floating over. “Arcanite ok? I have Arcanite and Metal classes, I’m a [Magical Jeweler], and while I do work with some of the more common gems, well, I don’t have anything for Celestial.”

I nodded greedily, looking at the earrings being offered. For a day of healing!

Well, display for a display, and [Veil of the Aurora] was my flashiest skill. I waved my hand – completely unneeded, but I was trying to put on a display – and the Aurora Borealis stretched above us, a dazzling display of lights.

I smiled smugly, half-expecting some oohs or ahhs from the market. Nada. Just another merchant with a light display advertising. Drat.

Kosmimatus got some of his helpers to rearrange things, and soon the stalls were re-arranged into roughly a long horseshoe, just barely wide enough for three people, with me at the “top” of the horseshoe, looking in. There was a small gap next to me for people to exit. I looked at the setup, slightly confused, then got it.

Ah, so as people came to me, they’d have to walk past everything being sold. If there was a line, even better – they’d had to wait next to all sorts of enticing items, and, well, while you’re here, might as well pick up that loaf of bread you needed….

Clever! I admired Kosmimatus’s business sense, of which I had none. Didn’t really have the time or ability, and I’d always allowed word of mouth to do work for me.

I settled into my seat behind the stall, with Kallisto lounging next to me, looking like a cat in the sun. Our pins were off – couldn’t tacitly endorse anyone – and I settled in, waiting for the first person to show up.

I played with my fire as I waited, making sure to keep the flames low enough that my regeneration could keep up. Not as efficient training as just flat-out making things burn, but I’d be able to heal to the best of my abilities if someone showed up.

It took some time, and it was Kallisto of all people who managed to land me my first patient. He was chatting up yet another woman who’d stopped by to look at some of the necklaces on display – I’d already put my earrings on, and I was in the process of attuning the Arcanite to myself – when I suddenly heard my name.

“… Elaine here could fix that. Right?” Kallisto said.

I had no idea what I’d just been signed up for, but I was going to seize the moment. “Right!”

She looked at me up and down, then shrugged. “I do believe it can not get any worse. Alright deary, take a look.” She rolled up her sleeve, and showed me her arm, where there was a long, nasty-looking scar.

“Just confirming, you want me to remove the scar?” I asked, wanting to make sure I didn’t punt my first patient after not hearing what Kallisto had been saying.

“If you would be so kind.” She responded.

“Alrighty, come here – I require physical touch.”

She offered me her arm, and I stood up – damn being short – stretched up and over the stall, touched her arm, hitting her with a [Vastness of the Stars] – healing was itchy and uncomfortable, and I might as well put my best foot forward. I focused on [Phases of the Moon], reflecting on removing scar tissue, bringing back fresh, healthy flesh. The scar vanished, and all my work yesterday paid off, and got pushed over the edge.

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Phases of the Moon] has reached level 71!]

The scar tissue turned into untanned flesh, marking where she’d had the scar. Her other hand flew to her face, covering her open mouth.

“Oh my! Thank you! What do I owe you?” She asked, reaching for her pouch.

“Nothing!” I said proudly. “Kosmimatus is sponsoring me healing anyone and everyone today, so tell everyone! Free healing here today!” I leaned in, whispering conspiratorially. “I can also restore limbs, and just about any serious injury! Completely free! I’m only in town for a few more days though – let your friends know! I’m sure one or two of them have a scar, or something more serious, they want fixed, or know someone else that needs something fixed.”

I winked at her, as she got a thoughtful look on her face. She straightened up, and stalked off with purpose, as Kallisto looked at me open-mouthed in horror, a shocked look of betrayal on his face.

“Elaine! You ruined my chances with her!”

I stuck my tongue out at him. Too bad!

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 14]

[Mana: 2588/2720]

[Mana Regen: 5170]


[Free Stats: 33]

[Strength: 30]

[Dexterity: 21]

[Vitality: 41]

[Speed: 32]

[Mana: 272]

[Mana Regeneration: 711]

[Magic Power: 282]

[Magic Control: 782]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 128]]

[Celestial Affinity: 128]

[Warmth of the Sun: 105]

[Medicine: 111]

[Center of the Galaxy: 101]

[Phases of the Moon: 71]

[Eyes of the Milky Way: 88]

[Veil of the Aurora: 66]

[Vastness of the Stars: 71]

[Class 2: [Firebug - Fire: Lv 19]]

[Fire Affinity: 19]

[Fire Resistance: 14]

[Fire Conjuration: 19]

[Fire Manipulation: 19]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 71]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 72]

[Pretty: 97]

[Vigilant: 104]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 105]

[Ranger's Lore: 8]

[Running: 70]

[Learning: 105]



A note from Selkie

This chapter feels short, but it's on the longer side wordcount wise. I guess that's what happens when I stitch a bunch of short scenes together.

Ratings right now would be great, right as I'm hovering on the edge of the RR front page. That'd give me a massive, huge signal boost, which gets enough eyeballs on BTDEM to push me into "making enough to justify continuing to do this for a long time." 

I want to spend a long time writing BTDEM, and I see this, right here, right now, as my chance to grab and ride a wave, to get some amazing momentum. You can do it!

Someone asked me at some point what skills a book reader would have. I'd imagine it'd be Metal or Wood aligned, and apart from the standard Affinity skill, you'd probably have:

1) Perfect Story Recall - For remembering all those details

2) Speed Reading - To chow down faster

3) Find Similar Books - To find more books you'd like

4) Ignore Typo - To know what the author meant to type, so you flawlessly keep reading without being interrupted or jarred out of the experience

5) Do not Disturb - Hard to be bothered while reading.


Zee plugs! They are now more modest, now that I'm back to posting "only" 5x a week, and not 7x a week. Oh no.

The plugs! 

Right now I'm writing this for the warm fuzzy feelings I get. Following, rating, commenting, liking, and chatting in discord all give me warm fuzzy feelings! If you're a free reader, consider doing one of those. After all, that drives the book up, and might just be what tips it over so someone who reads it wants to be a not-free reader. Hurray!

Discord for chatting:

Now, if you'd like to help me pay my rent, you can! With 10 advanced chapters, bonus chapters, bonus worldbuilding content, discord roles, and more!



If nothing else, thank you for reading my shameless plugs!


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