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A note from Selkie

We're going to, fairly soon, enter what I call the "massively sleep-deprived" chapters, that I wrote shortly after Flora was born, and IMO they're a hair weaker than some of my other work. Sorry!

I've gotten back into the swing of things, and it's only a few chapters that are "eh". 

 

On that note, I had a personal record yesterday, and wrote 7k words in a single day! Woohoo!

I must’ve died.

Something went horribly wrong at the end of the healing session, and I was dead. I’d been good in my last life, and I’d been sent to heaven as a reward for all my good deeds, for healing people, for my [Oath], for saving Perinthus.

That was the only logical explanation as to why I was waking up to piles of mangos heaped all around me!!!!!!!

There was some vague sleepiness, some mild exhaustion, that instantly fled as a surge of adrenaline went through me, as the happy dopamine hit my system like a rush at seeing the almost literal mountains of mangos piled around me.

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnngooooooooooooooooooooos!

Mango mango!

Hardly daring to, with a trembling hand, I reached out to touch a mango, only to pull it back at the last moment. What if it was an illusion? What if this was the product of a fever-dream of some sort, and it would all vanish upon close inspection?

The wagon lurched, a mango fell off one of the piles, rolling down, landing squarely on my head. It was like being punched.

“Ouch.” I called out, rubbing my head.

“Careful Artemis!” Kallisto yelled. “Don’t take turns too sharply, you’ll knock the mangos over.”

With great effort, I refocused my eyes away from the mangos, to see what was beyond their heavenly visage. The walls of the Argo.

Right. I wasn’t dead, I was still alive. And somehow, somewhere, between the time I’d passed out exhausted from my multi-day healing marathon, and now, we’d acquired a frankly absurd number of mangos, piling them into the Argo.

I fought myself out of my bedroll, noticing that somehow, somewhere along the line, I’d been changed out of my armor, and back into clean, fresh clothing. Bless Artemis.

“Oh, you’re awake.” Maximus said, peeling a mango and slowly eating it, one slice at a time.

Alright. I was awake, alive, in the Argo, there was no immediate crisis, and I was surrounded by mangos.

I gave Maximus a half-nod as I greedily grabbed a mango, found my knife next to me, drew it, and dug into the mango. And the next one. And…

Next mango. Next mango. Next mango. Next mango.”

“Oh, Elaine, you’re – holy!” Artemis popped in for a moment, letting the horses drive themselves. She promptly slipped on one of my discarded mango peels.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! You’ve unlocked the General Skill [Traps] Would you like to replace a skill for [Traps]? Y/N]

I promptly dismissed the notification, having no interest in traps.

What? Putting the mango peels away properly took away from precious, delicious, mango-eating time.

Artemis windmilled wildly, catching herself on another pile of mangos, going down with the entire pile. I winced.

Not my fault there.

Artemis came up, bits of mashed mango all over. My eyes widened in realization.

Noooooo! Precious mangos wasted! The consequences of my actions, delivered in the harshest, most immediate, brutal way possible!

Eh, I suppose Artemis was fine as well. Whatever. Second fiddle to the mangos.

I got a glare from Artemis as she tried in vain to pick out pieces of mango from her hair, tunic, hands… yeah, she gave up.

“You know, I had thought you’d be happy, delighted even seeing the mangos we got. I thought, maybe, just maybe, you’d hoard them a little, growl at us like a kitten as we ate some. I never imagined you booby trapping the wagon though.”

I lowered my eyes, mouth twisting.

“Sorry.” I said, with maybe, oh, 85% of my heart in the apology. It’d been an accident after all! Still my fault.

“How’d we end up in heaven?” I asked.

I got an eyebrow quirked up at me.

“Errr, how’d we end up with so many mangos?” I said, correcting myself.

“As you know, Perinthus wasn’t able to get nearly as much food as normal, leading to all sorts of problems. Farmers didn’t want to bring as much in as normal. That, however, didn’t stop them from growing food, then, well, sitting on it basically. Some shipped it further down the road to Massilix, or to another town. Some just prayed the plague would lift.”

“Our work – your work – in Perinthus meant amazing PR. PR occasionally translates into little favors, into life being a hair easier. This time, PR translated into people loving the Rangers, and almost all the farmers have some relative or another in town. A number of people have temporarily fled to stay with their relatives, just to make sure the plague’s gone, or hedging against the 3rd changing their mind.”

“We’ve basically been treated like heroes since we left, and when we encountered a mango farmer who both had a large stock of unsold good, a strong need to resupply ourselves, and knowing you were the star of the operation, well, Julius made the executive decision to load up on mangos. Hence,” Artemis winked at me. “heaven.”

“Go nuts. Not only have you earned it, but you burned all your damn reserves again.” Artemis gave me a significant look at that.

“Do that again, and you’ll find your qualifications in jeopardy. You can’t save anyone if you’re dead. You die, more Rangers die, then a lot more people die from problems we don’t handle. Look after yourself first.” Artemis told me, flipping to stern.

“She’s right.” Julius hopped in, a gust of wind coming behind him. “Protect your team. Protect yourself. Protect others. In that order.”

Artemis snorted.

“There’s some philosophical differences on the ordering of the first two points.” Julius amended, peeling a mango for himself.

“These are good. I can almost – almost – see why you’re so obsessed with them.” He said.

“What levels did you end up getting? Your color has changed a bit, I’m curious as to the exact numbers.”

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Constellation of the Healer] has leveled up to level 166! +10 Free Stats, +15 Mana, +15 Mana Regen, +15 Magic power, +15 Magic Control from your Class! +1 Free Stat for being Human! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element!]

…….

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Constellation of the Healer] has leveled up to level 180! +10 Free Stats, +15 Mana, +15 Mana Regen, +15 Magic power, +15 Magic Control from your Class! +1 Free Stat for being Human! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Celestial Affinity] has reached level 166!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Celestial Affinity] has reached level 180!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Phases of the Moon] has reached level 161!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Phases of the Moon] has reached level 180!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Medicine] has reached level 180!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Warmth of the Sun] has reached level 140!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Oath of Elaine to Lyra] has reached level 158!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Center of the Galaxy] has reached level 132!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Fuel for the Fire] has reached level 36!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Ranger’s Lore] has reached level 81!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Learning] has reached level 123!]

What was [Learning] doing in there? I quickly distributed my free stats the way Artemis wanted me to – 2 speed, 2 dexterity, 1 vitality ratio.

“Bloody hell.” Maximus cursed and I jumped. When did he get here?

“Elaine, you are, quite frankly, absurd. You’ve gone from level 100 to level 180 in a year. One year. Yes, it’s been filled with danger. Yes, you’re trying to punch way above your weight. It’s still a leveling rate that can only be described as ‘insane’, ‘absurd’, and ‘unbelievable’. It took me until I was 26 to get a similar level.”

“She did just perform a massive feat.” Artemis pointed out.

“And I have [Learning].” I pitched in.

“Sure, and you were opposing a Classer with a high level, who was trying to kill you and everyone else, and it was a massive marathon, with every person being life and death. The added stress and difficulty made it easier to level, along with the size of the feat being larger, and the sheer number of people, and….” Maximus trailed off.

“Basically, a bunch of stars aligned, and it was some of the best experience possible.” I tried to summarize.

“Yeah, pretty much.” Maximus admitted. “I’m still a bit jealous.”

“Speaking of, my Fire class is falling way behind. Only level 40 after so many months. Heck, I got as many healing levels in two weeks that I’ve gotten in the what, 8, 9, months I’ve had this Fire class? I need to work on it.”

“Yes you do, healy-bug.” Artemis said affectionately.

“Usually, one class being much higher level helps ‘pull up’ your other class, so to speak.” Maximus said. “Just on virtue of being able to throw more stats at the problem. You saw it early on, when you got those quick, early levels simply meditating and practicing moving your flames around. Well, your class is no longer low-level, and meditating and practicing is no longer novel, so you’re getting significantly less experience as a result. You haven’t moved into proper mage-activities with it on a frequent basis, so it’s no wonder it’s stalling out.”

“You probably noticed with [Burn Brightly], but your actions can impact, or influence, what skills you’re offered. Extra-important as a mage, since you’re offered skills so rarely.” Maximus said. “Consider what you want, and practice in that direction. If you’re lucky, you’ll be rewarded.”

Interesting. I needed to put my thinking cap on. First though, I needed brain fuel to think about this. More mango.

“Did we ever wrap up the counterfeiter?” I asked, thinking back on Perinthus, and the terrible coins being used.

“Yup. I had the guard point him out to me when we were doing the mass heal event. Pulled him aside for a quiet chat. Let him know he wasn’t in trouble this time, but he was now known to guards and Rangers as a counterfeiter, and if any unusual coins entered circulation, he’d be the first one questioned.”

“Also gave him a scroll of recommendation to the mint. If he got some more levels, if he wanted to, he could travel to the capital, and get a job there. He’s shown more level-headedness about generating coin than most trained mint-mages.”

“Speaking of unfinished business….” Julius said, looking at me ominously. “I believe you owe me 5,000 pushups. 5% added per day they’re not complete.”

Damnit. Me interrupting and ruining Hesoid’s interrogating coming back to bite me in the ass.

I decided to not-so-subtly change the topic.

“Hey Artemis, you mentioned you wanted to know more about teaching, and schools.” I said.

“Yeah, the idea’s fascinating. Dozens of baby mages for me to train? I-“

Artemis was cut off halfway through.

“Artemis, shouldn’t you be on the reins?” Julius asked. I noticed we’d come to a complete stop. With a guilty look on her face, she exited out the front, and we kept on moving.

“Speaking of, we’re moving through the Kadan jungle now. It’s your time to shine, ‘healy-bug’” Julius said, with a look of glee on his face.

Oh no.

“Oh no.” I said, melodramatically acting fearful.

“Oh yes.” Julius said, with an all-too happy smile. “See, normally this stretch of the road is almost as dangerous as the last one. Different set of dangers though. Instead of saber-tooth cats, there are seropards. Instead of raptors from the sky, there are all sorts of poisonous snakes, toads, frogs, disease, and all manner of other ugly nonsense.”

“Thick underbrush near by when we camp. Water that’ll make you puke out everything inside you. Snakes that look like a stick, that’ll bite you full of poison the moment you touch them.”

“You counter every single one of them.” Julius said, his look evolving into glee. “Nothing kills that quickly in the jungle, and you can burn down any overgrowth on the campsites at night. Nothing will be able to sneak up close, and when someone does get bitten or sick, you can just cure us. It’ll be perfect!” He said cheerfully.

“I’m not getting a single good night’s sleep am I?” I asked rhetorically.

“Probably not.” Julius said, trying to comfort me.

Great.

“Well, if you’re getting sick or hurt at night, I can use it to try and grind out some initial levels of [Moonlight]. From the way it’s worded, I think the first few levels will be the hardest, and it’ll get more efficient from there.”

“On a more serious topic.” Julius started to say, then paused, stalling out awkwardly.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

He closed his eyes, breathing in and out.

[Veil] please.” He ordered. I complied.

“Origen’s death brings this into sharp relief. Not wanting to be too morbid, but the odds are always stacked against us. Elaine, we need to write your will, so your last wishes are known in case the worst happens to you.”

Oof. I’d started to commit the sin every teenager made – that I was invincible. Oh, sure, in an academic sense I knew I could die, I saw people die all the time. It was always something that happened to ‘other people’ though, not me. I could heal myself. I had people protecting me. I’d be fine.

This conversation we were having was a solid wake-up call that no, I was mortal, and people expected me to die.

I thought about it for a moment. It didn’t take long.

“Let Artemis take any memento she’d like from what I have on me. Give the rest to my parents.”

“Would you like to tell them about, err,” Julius said, gesturing broadly at me, then up in the air.

I thought about it. Did I want to tell my parents I was reincarnated? The genie was out of the bottle after all.

I shook my head.

“No. I want to tell them, but I want to tell them in person. They deserve to know.”

Julius scribbled furiously on his scroll, a not-fancy one. I suspected maybe it’d get transferred later, or maybe it had inscriptions to prevent tampering.

“Oh, one last thing.” I said.

“Take your time. This is important, I’m happy to stay all week if needed.” Julius said, grabbing one of the mangos I’d enclosed with us.

I don’t know if he was trying to subtly send me a message, but the message I got was “I’ll keep eating mangos while we talk, so chop-chop.” That’d be totally out of character for him, but my mangos!

“Markus gave me the idea to write a manuscript of all healing-related things I know. If it’s done, or half-done, or whatever, and I die, see if you can get it to him.” I thought about my goals and intentions, then amended my words.

“No, copy it. Get it to as many healers as possible that you think can use it, or can spread it themselves. Take it out of my coin, and send whatever’s left to my parents.”

Julius nodded at me.

“Wise choice.” He said, as he rolled the bamboo scroll up, tying some string around it.

“May I never need to unravel this.”

I nodded agreement. Never.

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 15]

[Mana: 12940/12940]

[Mana Regen: 17730]

Stats

[Free Stats: 26]

[Strength: 26]

[Dexterity: 220]

[Vitality: 135]

[Speed: 220]

[Mana: 1294]

[Mana Regeneration: 2063]

[Magic Power: 1125]

[Magic Control: 1776]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 180]]

[Celestial Affinity: 180]

[Warmth of the Sun: 140]

[Medicine: 180]

[Center of the Galaxy: 132]

[Phases of the Moon: 180]

[Moonlight: 1]

[Veil of the Aurora: 111]

[Vastness of the Stars: 128]

[Class 2: [Pyromancer - Fire: Lv 40]]

[Fire Affinity: 40]

[Fire Resistance: 40]

[Fire Conjuration: 40]

[Fire Manipulation: 40]

[Fuel for the Fire: 36]

[Burn Brightly: 20]

[: ]

[: ]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 81]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 80]

[Pretty: 101]

[Vigilant: 110]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 158]

[Ranger's Lore: 81]

[Running: 74]

[Learning: 123]

 

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A note from Selkie

A light-hearted winding-down chapter! While also looking at the reality of the world - Rangers die, and Elaine's making sure her last wishes would be known.


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.

Help keep BTDEM going - it's as simple as rating, as easy as reviewing.

Or you can help pay my rent, which is a MUCH more direct way of keeping things going! It's the start of the month after all, max Patreon benefits!

Discord for chatting: https://discord.gg/GStatMC

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!

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/SelkieMyth

Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/selkiemyth

 


 

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Selkie

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