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A note from Selkie

Last chapter! Back on schedule!

“What can we do for the Rangers?” Templar asked sourly. Julius smiled, his best PR smile – brilliant, teeth showing, not touching his eyes at all.

“Actually, it’s more ‘what can we do for you?’” Julius said. “We’re here to help. We’ve brought a fairly powerful healer along with us, and we plan to do some work as a team. We’ll get to that in a minute.”

“First, I’d like to introduce Elaine. Her full background is classified – what I can say is she’s extremely knowledgeable, and has an education in diseases and plagues unmatched by most. I can also say there’s some divine mischief going on with her, but I can’t go into exactly what they are. She’s also a full member of the team, a Ranger in her own right. Everyone, meet Elaine.”

Julius shuffled around, letting me step forward. I felt imposing, powerful, wise, and oh-so-short. Speech time!

“Hi everyone, I’m Elaine!” I said, giving a little smile and wave. I felt so fake. “I’m a Celestial-aligned healer, and I’m here to help. I have a background on diseases that I’d be happy to share with anyone interested. I also have a powerful [Oath] skill that’s giving me an extra 3500 Magic Power, and 6300 Magic Control. It’s also not particularly high-level – nor am I – and it only gets stronger as I level up, and as the skill levels up. Any questions?” I took a deep breath, having said all that in one go. Public speaking. I thought I’d be great at it, turns out I was only ok.

There was some muttering, then Templar took charge again.

“Welcome Elaine! I’m sure we have a bunch to talk about. Let’s introduce ourselves, then start talking. I’m Markus. I’m a Pyronox-aligned Healer. I specialize in burning out disease and corruption, and keeping areas clean and pure. The doorways are my skill, and it makes sure that anyone entering the room is clean, and the room itself is clean. I don’t know how the plague forms, but even if it’s spontaneous, from too many people, it’d just get burned out the moment it forms in the room. If it spontaneously forms inside of someone, they’d get cleansed before stepping out. These here behind me are my apprentices. A motley mix of Water and Dark, and one of my Light apprentices came along. I’d also like to talk about what role the Rangers will be taking – from the sound of it, it’s not just personal protection, is it?”

Julius shook his head. “Elaine, can you handle this part?”

“Sure! It’s nice to meet you Markus. My knowledge of disease and medicine tells me that there’s a reservoir, a place where the disease is, and how it spreads. It might be in the water, in a contaminated well. It might be fleas, living on rats. It could be people, jumping from person to person. The way the plague spreads might be water, air, bug bites, contaminated food, rodents, or more.”

I decided to identify him. [Healer]. Higher-level than some of the Rangers, in the 260-270 range. This guy knew his stuff, and could be considered a classer in his own right. I was close enough to see his eyes, and dark flames flickered in them, the same way lightning flickers in Artemis’s, and my eyes were the stars above.

Pyronox.

Some of Markus’s apprentices scoffed at me. One of them opened his mouth, starting to say something, as Markus whirled on him and cuffed him.

“We listen to all healers, great and small.” He said, rebuking the apprentice who was looking down at his feet. His fellow apprentices had mixed reactions – some seemed to agree with the aggrieved apprentice, others were happy it wasn’t them being disciplined. “Yes, she’s young. Yes, she’s low-level. Yes, she’s a girl. However, I don’t see any of you being vouched for by a Ranger squad, and being called a full Ranger now, do I? When the gods step in and meddle with your life, when you feel you’ve learned as much from me as possible to strike out on your own, then you can feel free to ignore other healers. Until then, you follow my lead, my rules. And part of that is listening to other healers, and what they have to say. Regardless of how far-fetched it is.” He threw a look at Tattered Man at that. Interesting.

“Eye contact.” Sack-Head said. “I’m convinced that part of this plague is transmitted by direct eye contact.”

We turned and looked at him, my eyebrows quirking up. Disease didn’t spread by eye contact! That was silly. It was more likely that it was spread by airborne transmission. It did explain why he was wearing a sack over his head though – if he thought it was transmitted through direct eye contact, a sack over his head was a good way to avoid that.

“Nice to meet you Elaine, my name’s Caecilius. I’m a Mist-aligned [Plague Healer]. My secondary class is possibly mage, possibly healer – it’s never been high enough level to tell, and the class itself doesn’t tell me. Does help with my work. I go from place to place dealing with plagues, they’re my specialty.”

He was a [Healer]. In the 290-300 range. I couldn’t see his eyes, due to the bag he was wearing over his head, but I was dead curious what Mist eyes looked like. I wanted to whistle. I checked Artemis. I checked him again, carefully. Artemis was a hair higher – in the 300 to 310 range. It was close. This was a strong, strong healer. Wandering around from plague to plague seemed to pay off in spades as far as level was concerned.

“On that note,” He continued. “I’m convinced that this is two plagues we’re dealing with, not one. There’s the main plague, with the coughing, the bleeding, the sores, and the puss, and there’s a second plague, with the diarrhea, vomiting, and tongue-swelling.”

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Learning] has reached level 120!]

“I’ve told you before, that makes no sense.” The one lady present said, snapping at him. “I’ve lived here all my life. We haven’t had a plague here in decades, and you’re saying that we got hit by not one, but two plagues at the same time? You don’t know this place; you don’t know how things are. We’re right next to the Kadan Jungle, we get diseases all the time, but a plague like this is on a completely different level. It just doesn’t make sense that two plagues occur at the exact same time. Plus, a number of people have all of the symptoms – vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, bleeding. How do you explain that?”

“Hi, by the way. I’m Verta, Water-aligned, I’m so pleased to meet you!” She said at full speed, enthusiastically shaking my hand. “I’d love for you to tell me everything you know – and the other healers local to this town who know what things are like here.” She said that last part darkly, shooting a glare at Caecilius.

She showed up as [Laborer]. Somewhere around 180. I bet her healing class was at a similar level. Lowest level so far by a wide margin – probably a combination of doing ‘just town’ healing like mom, and not being given the same chances as everyone else – like mom. Normal eyes marked her first class as being one of the base eight elements, not that it’d tell me anything with her displayed class being a non-healing class.

Like me, when I was nothing more than a town healer.

“I’d be delighted to! One of my skills asks me to spread medical knowledge when I can.”

“Does that relate to your massive stat increase skill? Or is it something different?” Tattered Man joined the conversation. “I’m Ponticus. Light-aligned healer.” Caecilius snorted derisively at him. “Less-than-useful in a plague sadly. I showed up, figuring that I might be able to do something, and, well, Light has a huge hole when dealing with diseases. Sadly, nobody seems interested in handling scrapes and the like – I thought this would be a good leveling chance for me, everyone focused on the plague, injuries occurring, who wouldn’t want your friendly neighborhood Light healer around? Sadly, nobody has any coin to pay for it….”

I checked out his level. [Artisan]. Somewhere between 230 and 240. In spite of his young age, and poor decision to try and be a Light healer in a plague town, he somehow managed to be at a respectably high level. His eyes seemed almost faceted and glimmering, and as he talked, was slowly changing color from blue to green. I glanced at Artemis, who mouthed “gemstone” at me. At that level, his second class – his healing one – couldn’t be too far behind. I was an abnormality with the disparity between my levels.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Identify] has reached level 81!]

“That’s because you keep trying to charge people extortionate prices! This isn’t the capital, stop charging capital prices!” Templar – Markus – berated him.

Ponticus muttered darkly, but didn’t have much more to say. I mentally marked him as ‘brilliant healer, idiot at business’, before realizing to my chagrin that I probably also fell in the same category. Thank goodness I had Kallisto, Artemis, and the rest of the Rangers looking out for my best interests.

“I will say, I’m curious about that skill of yours as well.” One of the unremarkable members said. “Can you go into detail about it? I’m Berucus by the way, Dark-aligned healer.”

“Sure, I’d be happy to! Fair warning, it’s restrictive, but powerful. Here it is:

First, do no harm.

Healing is my art.

I will use all of my knowledge and tools at my disposal to heal those that come to me.

I will heal those I see to the best of my ability.

I will apply all measures that are required to my patients.

I will never see a patient as anything other than another creature in pain.

I will not discriminate who I heal based on class, sex, race, what gods they pray to, nor by any other means.

I will defend the patients under my care from harm and injustice.

I will only take up a knife to defend myself or my patient.

I will admit when I do not know how to heal a patient.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, and hold in confidence anything that is said to me.

I will teach and spread my knowledge to the best of my abilities, asking for no recompense.

The eyebrows of the healers were steadily rising in a uniform manner.

“What’s the payoff for something that restrictive?” Templar – Markus, the Pyronox dude – asked.

“For me, 5% increased knowledge, Magic Power, and Magic Control when dealing with healing-related issues. Or, in other words, when it’s level 20, it doubles my abilities. When it’s level 40, it triples my abilities, etc.” I said, noticing Verta looked confused, remembering that education was not a strong suite of Remus – especially not women’s education.

“Downsides?” Templar, the Pyronox asked.

“Losing a level in [Oath] under minor breaks. Pain, losing a few scattered levels on medium violations. No idea what deliberately, purposefully breaking or going against it would do.” I said.

“Possibly death.” Maximus helpfully added in. “Probably just an escalation of penalties. We’re not entirely sure, as Elaine’s been carefully following it, and different oaths have different penalties. Safer to assume it’s lethal. Part of why the System is locked for young kids, to stop them doing something idiotic like making eternal vows.” Every word of Maximus was like a knife in my chest. I’d wondered on the consequences of deliberately breaking [Oath], of trying to shatter it. Whoops.

The part about being idiotic also drove a hammer home, my pride and arrogance I’d had as a reincarnated kid not only killing Lyra, but permanently binding me. I could just imagine how much worse it could’ve been if [Oath] wasn’t so well-worded, or so I thought. Bless the self-defense clause.

At the same time, I wouldn’t want to give [Oath] up. It was my promise, my vow, practically a way of life. It gave me structure and meaning, living up to something bigger, better than myself.

Templar turned and looked to his apprentices. “Any of you willing to try this?” He said. “This is a chance for you to shine, if it works as advertised. However, it comes at a risk. Think carefully before you decide.”

There were some looks shared, glances all around. Who was willing to step forward, take this Oath, see if it would even result in a skill? Who was going to go out on a limb, and listen to a kid so much younger than them, a girl to boot.

Who would be the first to take the Oath after me?

One of them finally spoke up.

“Ah, I’ll do it. Can’t leave the pretty Ranger hanging now can I?” He said with a wink towards me. I wanted to shudder. His motives were transparent, and he was at least 5, 6 years older than me. Poker face. Now more than ever I needed a poker face.

“You’ll need a strong degree of sincerity to make it work.” Maximus jumped in, saving my skin. “Oath, Vow, Promise, and other such related skills require effort and commitment.”

“Chill.” Laid-back apprentice said. “I got this.”

He spoke the oath, suddenly being serious. At the end of it, he suddenly started blinking rapidly, the way someone surprised by a System notification would.

“By Aion.” He swore. “That’s some skill.”

“Details?” Asked Maximus and Templar – Markus! I had to get his name straight – at the same time, glancing at each other, recognizing fellow seekers of knowledge. Just so happened they overlapped here.

[Elaine’s Oath]. A healing oath, a solemn vow of your dedication towards helping and healing others. 4% per level to healing knowledge, and magic control and power while healing. A warning, that Oaths are binding.”

“Yeah be careful about that part. It’s not kidding.” I shuddered at the memory of breaking the oath the other day.

“It’s your call if you want to take it.” Markus said. “It’s your chance at greatness – just look at that girl over there. Level 140 or so, and a full Ranger – probably on the basis of her Oath.”

“If it helps, you can still defend yourself no problems.” I chimed in, eager to have him take it. Hey, who didn’t want their name immortalized in a skill that someone else had? “It just stops you from taking offensive action preemptively. Oh, and don’t ignore people asking to be healed. Kinda hard in a plague actually…” I trailed off, realizing that giving him this skill in the middle of a massive disease outbreak might not be the best introduction to the skill.

“I’ll do it.” He said grimly, making up his mind.

“Are you sure?” Markus asked him. The other healers were watching him raptly, eager to see what happened to the first penguin pushed off the cliff. Were the waters safe, or was there a deadly trap in them?

“Yes. You should know why I am.” He gave a significant look to Markus.

“You know I’d never kick you out.” Markus said.

“Yeah, but I feel like a burden. Maybe this will help.”

Markus sighed. “It’s your call.”

I could tell he took the skill, as I got a notification at the same time.

[*ding!* Congratulations! A skill you created has been passed along to others! A tiny amount of experience that other people gain with the skill will go to you as well.]

[*ding!* Congratulations! You’ve unlocked the General skill [Teaching]. Would you like to take this skill? Y/N]

[*ding!* Congratulations! You’ve unlocked the General skill [Teaching Medicine]. Would you like to take this skill? Y/N]

I thought about the skills being offered, checking my current general skills. Mmmmmmmmm. [Recollection of a Distant Life] was my weakest general skill, but I liked it more than a low-level teaching skill right now.

Maybe one day I’d be a teacher. That sounded nice.

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 14]

[Mana: 3970/3970]

[Mana Regen: 6111]

Stats

[Free Stats: 174]

[Strength: 43]

[Dexterity: 79]

[Vitality: 65]

[Speed: 80]

[Mana: 668]

[Mana Regeneration: 1100]

[Magic Power: 626]

[Magic Control: 1121]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 144]]

[Celestial Affinity: 144]

[Warmth of the Sun: 117]

[Medicine: 124]

[Center of the Galaxy: 126]

[Phases of the Moon: 104]

[Eyes of the Milky Way: 94]

[Veil of the Aurora: 110]

[Vastness of the Stars: 127]

[Class 2: [Pyromancer - Fire: Lv 39]]

[Fire Affinity: 39]

[Fire Resistance: 39]

[Fire Conjuration: 39]

[Fire Manipulation: 39]

[Fuel for the Fire: 31]

[: ]

[: ]

[: ]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 81]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 79]

[Pretty: 101]

[Vigilant: 110]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 111]

[Ranger's Lore: 67]

[Running: 74]

[Learning: 120]

 

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A note from Selkie

And the cast is introduced!


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.

BTDEM is bog standard in many ways. However, I'm willing to do things that turn some readers off - and so far, more of my reviews have been from people that I make mad more than people who are happy. Just how the internet works. I'm hoping some of you that are enjoying things are willing to leave reviews or advanced reviews. They matter. You matter.

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Selkie

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