Beneath the Dragoneye Moons

by

Selkie

Chapter 66 – Adventures on the way to Perinthus IV

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A note from Selkie

A continuation of last chapter!

Artemis had one of her terrible grins on her face as she looked at me.

“Whatever it is, I want no part in it.” I said, cutting her off as she opened her mouth.

Her grin, if anything, became even more terrible.

“That’s the beauty of it. See, you can’t deliberately hurt yourself to heal, or burn yourself for your fire resistance. But if we were…”

I shielded a pebble thrown by Arthur, glaring at him.

“See, my point!” Artemis exclaimed. “We already do ‘shield it or take it’ training with you, we already keep you on your toes with throwing pebbles at you, what’s wrong with adding fire to the mix?”

There were nods going around the circle.

“No. No no no no no.” I protested, shaking my head and backing up as they closed in on me.

Long story short, that’s how I found myself tied to a spear-turned-roasting-stick, being gently rotated right above the fire.

“At least do it to my legs!” I yelled in protest. “My poor tunics!”

“We have gone through quite a few of her tunics.” Artemis conceded. “Move the offering to the left!” She proclaimed grandly, like she was making a sacrifice at the temple.

Hang on, did the gods go for that sort of-

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Fire Resistance] has reached level 27!]

“Argh!” I yelled in frustration.

“What’s wrong?” Artemis asked, concerned. Good to know it wasn’t all fun and games for her.

I felt dizzy as I was rotated once again. Ground. Artemis. Sky. Julius. Ground. Repeat.

“I hate that it’s working!”

Arthur lost it at that, madly laughing at my distress.

“You know healy-bug, you can always extinguish the fire.” Artemis pointed out.

“Duh. I know that.” I replied, my voice probably doing strange things as I was rotated as I spoke. “[Oath] seems to bar me from causing harm. It requires that I heal. However, it doesn’t seem to enforce removing harm. But I can’t ask, or suggest. To be exact, I don’t want to, and find out if [Oath] dislikes it. Nor can I suggest hurting someone else. Not that I would – it’s ethically wrong.”

Artemis rolled her eyes. “Bah. Ethics. Who needs ‘em?”

Julius cuffed the back of her head. “You do! That’s who!” He gave her a very Significant Look.

“Yes boss.” She said respectfully, a hair meekly.

Origen approached my rotating, burning-and-healing legs, sprinkling some herbs on them, while quietly chuckling to himself. He got a laugh out of everyone but Julius, who just rolled his eyes.

“Ok, stop the ride, I want to get off.” I said, having had enough of this.

Instead, Arthur started turning the spear even faster, [Center of the Galaxy] having nothing for dizziness.

“I’m… going….to….” I tried to say, as my nausea got worse.

The vomit-spiral was epic. Only a little got on me.

 

“New rule.” Julius said, rubbing dirt to help clump the mess and get it off of him. Couldn’t spare the water, just in case something went horribly wrong. “Do not roast Elaine over an open fire.”

“What about a closed fire?” Artemis asked.

“ANY fire.” Julius amended himself.

“How about Origen?” I asked darkly. My legs smelled like a well-seasoned steak. It was unnatural. Worse, it was making me hungry.

“Do not roast anyone over any fire.” Julius said, with a tone that he was done being asked to rule-lawyer.


The evening settled after that, and most everyone went to bed. Artemis and I drew the short straws for first shift.

“Hey Artemis,” I asked, bored out of my mind, scanning our surroundings for non-existent threats. “when you cast [Chain Lightning] the other day against the goblins, how did you get your voice to crackle like that?”

Artemis shrugged. “Just one of those strange system-quirks. Channel enough mana at once, say the skill, and your voice changes a bit. For me, it helps me focus and channel, especially a skill that large. I don’t need to say it, but I had the time to, and with that much going on – especially with Arthur hiding somewhere – it was a solid warning to everyone what was going to happen. The System just amplified it.”

I nodded. “Makes sense.”

Our watch ended without further incident, Artemis and I idly chatting in hushed whispers to not wake anyone up. Julius and Maximus got the second shift, and I went to sleep in the Argo.

I woke up after a few hours needing to pee. I stealthily slipped out of the Argo, intending to find a quiet bush to put up [Veil] and do my business. Look, I didn’t want to broadcast that I was peeing near the camp by putting up a giant “LOOK HERE” sign in plain sight.

I was sneaking around, when I overheard Julius and Maximus hush-whispering to each other, just like Artemis and I had done, in that unique tone that was both somewhat loud, but yet still registered as a whisper to the sleeping mind. No, what caught my attention mid-sentence was my name.

“… Elaine before. Do we need to have it again?” Julius whispered.

“Humor me.” Maximus said. “I still don’t agree. I’m not challenging you in public, and you’re a good leader. I’m trying to understand, so if I end up a team leader one day, I know the why better, the philosophy better.”

“I suppose you have earned being humored.” Julius said, in a tone that said Maximus had been humored many times before, taking a moment to collect his thoughts.

“What’s the death toll on a Ranger squad?” Julius asked.

“Half the squad per round.” Maximus replied instantly. I was able to see Julius nodding clearly, thanks to [Eyes].

“Exactly. We lost two almost immediately. We almost lost Kallisto. Elaine most likely saved his life, and by extension, most of our lives down the line, right there. In that moment when she came up to me, after the hunt, already full up on mana again and able to heal, I saw a few things.”

“One – Elaine’s going to end up one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, healer in a generation.”

“Two – There’s no way once she properly grows into her power and skills that the Rangers could recruit her. We offer shit pay, relative to what she could get, and a life of danger versus ease. Yeah, there are the two healers at HQ who help, but it’s more like they heal the occasional Ranger that makes it back to them in exchange for a badge and the rights to call themselves a Ranger, to improve their main business. There’s no reason for them to be on the road.”

“Three – I saw that she was able to strike off on her own. There was a cozy, new town nearby. It’d be easy for her to leave, and set up a life on her own. Heck, Kallisto and Artemis told me that in the few days she was around town, she got multiple excellent offers to stay and set up a life. A good life, a solid life, one without threats and danger that she sees every day here.”

“So, I struck, then and there. She takes pride in being a Ranger. She takes pride in being one of us. She’s now with us, and will be with us for what I pray is a long and fruitful career. I hope she blazes a new path, a new way – Healers with Ranger squads. If we can stop losing Rangers so damn quickly, we might be able to get enough of us with the experience needed to nip more problems in the bud, instead of traveling town to town on these giant loops. We might be able to have each Ranger team cover three or four towns, instead of the dozen plus we currently need to handle.”

Julius paused.

“I recognize your complaint. She’s a kid at heart, no matter if she has those extra years reincarnated or not. For reference, I do believe her, as strange as the story is. The gods have been known to do stranger things. She’s low-level – she came to us at half the baseline level we expect of Rangers at minimum. She couldn’t fight, and even now, she can barely fight. She just barely manages to pull her weight – but she does pull it. I’ll ask you this though: If she was high level enough, would she agree to join us? Would any healer with the requirements we have join us, risk life and limb on the uncomfortable road when they could make ten, twenty times as much healing elsewhere? When they have to leave their families and luxuries behind?”

“I don’t think so.”

There was a long pause.

“I still think there had to have been a better way of doing it.” Maximus whispered. “There’s a standard process, rules to be followed.”

“When we get to the end of this round, we’ll do them.” Julius promised. “She’ll have the benefit of having trained with us, of getting levels with us, which should help her through the process. She might get some leeway – we give mages leeway.”

Maximus made a soft grunting noise. “Her being a girl’s going to count against her.”

“When does it not count against the women who try to join?” Julius asked. “The pricks demand so much more of any woman who joins – which is why each one that does succeed is famous. Artemis. Corvina. Brina. Asena. When it comes to male Rangers, you could probably name just as many that are famous.”

I realized that the conversation was starting to drift off of me, and I should probably make myself scarce before they saw me – there was no telling how good their vision was in the dark, my skill wasn’t that unique, and I didn’t want them to think I’d been eavesdropping.

I finished my business, made my way back into the Argo with my sleeping gear, and stared up at the ceiling for a while. Julius had given me a ton to think about.

I hadn’t really questioned the why on Julius asking me to be a full Ranger – I’d been too happy to process it, too terrified that they might change their mind to even allow myself to think the question. It made sense. My original plan was to get dropped off in Virinum, and to try and forge my own life there. Granted, it would’ve been horribly derailed by Kerberos’s bounty hunters, and tagging along with the Rangers was exciting enough that I didn’t want to leave – but Julius wasn’t wrong to worry about it. The rest of his points made sense. Grab the healer while she’s weak and needs protection, get her liking and used to the conditions, more people live. It was cold and calculating.

But Julius, and the rest, had been anything but cold and calculating to me in my time here. I’d never gotten anything but warmth and acceptance, no indication that I was considered anything less than a full member. Sure, I’d just been involuntarily roasted, but that was no worse than Kallisto stealing Arthur’s bow, nor Arthur retaliating by lightly poisoning Maximus’s food, giving him the runs for days. (Kallisto had been mad at Maximus, and decided to get back at him by framing him.)

All in all, Julius was making cold, calculating, level-headed decisions as the leader of the Ranger team, but was a friendly and personable person.

I could like the person, and dislike the cold decisions their role forced them to make. I wouldn’t want to be following someone, taking orders from someone, who was making flighty decisions, less than optimal choices to preserve feelings. There was a real chance we’d all die then. Be unhappy with the role, not the player.

Did this change my decision? Did this change my choice? I needed to think about it more, but I was leaning strongly in the “no” direction. The feeling, the memory, of being so whole-heartedly accepted when Julius asked, at a speed so fast from the sound of it he had no time to plan it, was so genuine, was so real, that I knew in everyone’s heart I was a member, regardless of what had been happening in Julius’s head.

On that happy note, I finally drifted back off to sleep.

 

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 14]

[Mana: 3810/3810]

[Mana Regen: 6100]

Stats

[Free Stats: 37]

[Strength: 37]

[Dexterity: 64]

[Vitality: 57]

[Speed: 64]

[Mana: 381]

[Mana Regeneration: 823]

[Magic Power: 384]

[Magic Control: 879]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 133]]

[Celestial Affinity: 133]

[Warmth of the Sun: 111]

[Medicine: 116]

[Center of the Galaxy: 109]

[Phases of the Moon: 81]

[Eyes of the Milky Way: 93]

[Veil of the Aurora: 76]

[Vastness of the Stars: 75]

[Class 2: [Firebug - Fire: Lv 31]]

[Fire Affinity: 31]

[Fire Resistance: 27]

[Fire Conjuration: 31]

[Fire Manipulation: 31]

[Fuel for the Fire: 21]

[: ]

[: ]

[: ]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 76]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 79]

[Pretty: 100]

[Vigilant: 111]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 111]

[Ranger's Lore: 48]

[Running: 75]

[Learning: 107]

 

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A note from Selkie

Julius's reasoning explained! 

I had to do a bit of re-phrasing this chapter to prevent some REALLY AWKWARD phrasing from occuring. 


If you could give me an advanced review, that'd be great. They're weighted more heavily than anything else, and I've been looking carefully at trending - it's clear that the rating the novel has is super important. Hence, advanced reviews help me go up in the trending list. They help more people see it, which gets more people rating and following it, which has a synergistic effect that hopefully turns into a runaway effect, which gets enough people interested that I get to do this full-time. Seriously, it matters, and it helps.

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Selkie

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