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A note from Selkie

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I blinked. That was… a surprisingly low-level question, for all the build-up involved.

“Um. Sure. Why not?” I said. “I’d be obligated to do it anyways.”

Some tension left Night, tension I hadn’t even seen build up.

“Good. I was concerned that the well might be poisoned, and a conflict or problem between us might occur. It is also difficult to find a healer who does not discover our secret, which continues to be an awkward point. At this point, are you satisfied with our conversation? Do you still have concerns for your safety or well-being?”

“I mean, let your other vampires know that I’m off-limits, make sure there’s no retaliation, and sure, I have no problem with it. I’ll heal anything and anyone that’s not trying to kill me or a patient of mine.” I said, chin held high.

“Excellent. Onto other matters.” Night said, and the tone shifted again. No longer was he Night, an ancient vampire teaching history to Elaine, he was now Night, leader of the Sentinels, instructing Dawn how things were done.

“Hang on, quick question.” I said. “I’m wondering if you know anything about the moons?”

He blinked at me.

“The moons? Why would I know anything about them?”

“Well, they seem somewhat unnatural to me. Earth had nothing like them, and I figure you might know something.”

Night shrugged.

“The gods not only experimented with life, but the stars, moons, and even the suns. Blue, red, orange, white, one, two, four – the gods tried all manner of suns, moons, stars and constellations. After everything shook out and settled down, after, oh, the first thousand years or so, the sky appeared as it does now.”

That wasn’t really an answer. Ah well.

Night carried on, business as usual.

“A set of gemstones has been prepared for your use.” He said, handing me my vambraces, the inside part which touched my skin now twinkling with dozens of gemstones, Arcanite mixed with Moonstone, Sunstones scattered throughout with a dozen of other tiny gems mixed in.

“Arcanite needs no introduction. You can store your Celestial skills in the moonstones – I personally recommend your [Phases of the Moon] primarily, with a [Veil of the Aurora] or two mixed in, for emergency shielding. The rest of your skills likely have no use stored.”

“For your Radiance skills, while technically possible to store Conjuration, it is a poor move. Radiance, like Light, Brilliance, and others, simply moves too quickly. You’d waste the entire skill. With that being said, I recommend storing [Nova] in it, with perhaps an emergency [Talaria] or two to catch yourself falling if you should make a mistake while flying.”

I looked over my skills. Yeah, I agreed with Night on all of that.

Something about having nearly 5000 years of experience on me does good things for analysis. No wonder his advice was always spot-on. Thousands of years of experience, and a single trainee to advise.

Could also be that he was too damn busy to do more than one trainee.

“Now, we have what I call the standard set of gemstones we issue all Sentinels. They are expensive, and single-use, which is a large part of why Ranger squads don’t have them. Rangers also cover each other, while we operate solo.”

“You have a [Light], [Gust], [Water Conjuration], [Shocking Paralysis], [Watery Manacles], [Brilliant Barrier], [Mana Void], [Tracks-be-gone], [The Stars Reveal], [Tripwire Alarm], [Summon Knife], [Revealing Radiance], [Cast Scream], [Invisibility with eyeholes], [Muffle], [Amplify Voice], [Wall Buster], [Curse Breaker], and a [Feather Fall]

“Most are self-explanatory. [Shocking Paralysis] is a rare physical-disabling skill that prevents any movement, although be warned, skills can still be used. [Mana Void] drains and prevents mana from regenerating. One of Hunting’s skills. If you need to take a Classer prisoner, those two skills are what you use.”

“I see the chances for you to use these skills to be minimal. However, most Sentinels need them, and I saw no reason to limit your options.”

[Watery Manacles] summons handcuffs if you need to take someone low-level, with non-threatening skills prisoner. Again unlikely, but potentially useful. Mainly present so the powerful skills don’t need to be used against someone low-level. Ocean’s work.”

[Brilliant Barrier] will encase you in a shield much more powerful than your [Veil], one that you can both move with and see through. Thank Sealing for this one.”

“[Tracks-be-gone] is a powerful, powerful anti-tracking skill. As you move through the woods, low-level damage you cause to your surroundings will be reverted as you continue forward, erasing all traces of your passage. It won’t work on, say, a large branch being broken, but most things smaller than that it’ll work on. Critically, it also works on smell.”

[The Stars Reveal] is to see in the dark without giving away your position with [Light]. It’s harder to recharge than [Light] is, but when stealth is paramount, it is useful.”

[Tripwire Alarm] is one of those skills that every few decades we try to add to the kit, it fails, we remove it, and carry on. I keep my peace on these experiments, hoping that it’ll work this time – I can be wrong – but so far, it hasn’t been promising. It creates a loud noise if someone crosses into your campsite – for a single night, for a single site. Not the best.”

“[Revealing Sunlight] is an anti-illusion spell. Illusions require very little in terms of power and mana, just requiring good control. Low-level illusionists can cause devastating damage as a result. The hard part is knowing an illusionist is at work, but this will strip all illusions within a large range around you.”

[Invisibility with eyeholes] – When cloaked with true invisibility, you can see exactly as much as people can see of you – namely, exactly nothing. This one’s from Magic, cloaking yourself in a way nobody can see, except through a tiny slit. You can duck down and be truly invisible, or stand up and peek through it. Incredibly potent. Works best with [Muffle]- also Magic’s – to not be heard either.”

There was a pause, and I opened my mouth to ask the obvious question.

“You can still be smelled.”

“[Wall Buster], like the name suggests, destroys a wall. Do not use it on a city wall unless in the most dire of emergencies. Or if Bulwark is around to fix the problem.”

[Feather Fall] is Sky’s ability to reduce your weight, a second way to save you if your [Talaria] should fail. Say… if a cloud moved over the sun while you were high up.”

“Normally, there are a number of healing and anti-poison skills included. We felt that simply providing you with more moonstones would solve that issue. Related, the head of Gemstones would like to borrow you to craft a large number of gems with your [Phases of the Moon]. Naturally, at your convenience. Preferably a few days from now – all of our spare moonstone went into your equipment, and he is currently attempting to acquire more. Discreetly.”

“Questions?”

I shook my head.

“Good. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your new equipment, attune yourself to the new gemstones and Arcanite. Your other equipment has all been upgraded, purely with additional Arcanite.”

“We are working to secure you a stall in the 3rd-largest marketplace in the capital, having taken your suggestion seriously. You are free to set whatever price you want – or no price at all – but the quartermaster insisted I ask if you could throw a few coins that you inevitably make towards helping us on the rental of the stall.”

I expected Night to have some sort of distasteful look at the prospect of needing to manage money, but nothing. Thinking about it, he probably did care, as it was another aspect of being a Sentinel. Couldn’t pretend money was like water when it wasn’t, and doing so was a bad idea. Solid, practical considerations, mixed with making sure we had every tool we needed.

“On a different note. In a week or so Ranger Academy will begin with a fresh set of recruits. You are invited to assist with the Hell Months – indeed, I think it could be beneficial to you to see how it happens. For Academy purposes, I believe putting you in charge of all healing-related education would be appropriate. After all, you have literally written the defining work on the topic.”

I saluted, bowing my head forward slightly, trying and failing to hide a grin, which turned into a slow smile instead.

“On the subject of Academy, I ask that you attend some of the planning sessions, as we attempt to solve this year’s puzzle of which classes go when, and who goes where. As for mentorship, there are no healers this year, however, there is a single bardic Trainee. If he should pass the initial selection criteria, I am of a mind to pair him up with you, so that you may better expand his repertoire of songs and tales.”

Night shrugged.

“Seems to be the best fit.”

“One last note. Roughly a week from now, there is the first social gathering we hope you shall attend.”

I pulled a face at that. Blah. Socializing.

“Right, any questions?”

I thought for a moment, feeling a sly smile creep onto my face.

“With the socializing plan, I’m going to need some help working on my [Pretty] skill. I have a plan in mind, it’ll cost somewhat. How do I best go about that?” I asked, thinking of Albina.

“Speak with the Quartermaster. Negotiate what is reasonable with him.”

I mentally pumped my fist. YES!

“Best way to find my way to various places in HQ? Like the gemstones dude or the Quartermaster?” I asked, planning out my line of attack.

“Just ask anyone who works here. They can direct you.”

“It doesn’t screw with our look?”

“All new Sentinels tend to ask around, given how little time is spent at Headquarters not in That Room, their quarters, or one of the living spaces. It’s practically tradition for new Sentinels to get lost and need to ask how to get to the more obscure places. Helps humble them a bit, helps remind everyone here that yes, we’re only human,” Night had a little chuckle at that. “and yes, they can talk with us.”

“I tried at one point to keep us mysterious and above everyone, but that ended in disaster. Mistakes and problems weren’t pointed out, people being too scared to tell us, or thinking we already knew it all and were invincible.”

Night yawned, a huge, gaping yawn. I checked inside his mouth real fast. Couldn’t see any fangs. Did they only come out for feeding?

“Right, I’m off.” He said, getting up and vanishing down the hallway to his quarters.

Welp, nothing for it. I was a Sentinel now, and apparently that meant a boatload of free time. It being a vacation for everyone was helping, and I suspected it’d mean I’d end up with a bit more work later on… but not that much more work.

I paid the price, by being one of humanity’s best, by always being on-call for a disaster. But I could see the point of whoever it was 400 years ago that said Sentinels should teach, and I could see the point in us having little tasks here and there, like Ocean with politics and Brawling with the arena. Our days were really empty otherwise. The better to improve ourselves… or kick back and enjoy.

Weird. So weird. I’d had unstructured days off here and there, but now almost my entire day – heck, my entire life – was looking unstructured. Guess it was up to me to do something with that, fill my days with something.

Healing seemed like a solid way of doing it, a vocation I could – and did – build my life around. There had been a good reason way back when that I’d picked [Apprentice Control Healer], and the ability to lead a fulfilling life was part of it, the call I felt to help and to heal.

Just, with a standard clinic, like every other healer had.

Rather. That only male healers had. Bah.

And I’d have my clinic free and clear, all to myself.

Only took four years of difficulty and danger to accomplish, along with a massive knowledge base from reincarnation. No biggie. Anyone could’ve done it.

Technically, I didn’t have it free and clear. The Rangers owned it, but…

Man, this was not a productive line of thought. On to other things. Like breakfast!

Lunch rather. The conversation with Night had been long.

Quartermaster, Gemstone dude, then some solid sleep. I didn’t need as much, vitality helping out, but it wasn’t like I was one of those 3000+ vitality monsters. I still needed – wanted – sleep, and after the absolute monster emotional rollercoaster I’d been on since I last slept, I was looking forward to some good Z’s.

I found the Quartermaster after a bit of sleep-deprived wandering – there was no anonymity for me here, not in the heart of Ranger territory. Almost everyone had been at the Convocation, almost everyone had seen me become Dawn. It wasn’t like there were that many women running around HQ in the first place.

The Quartermaster was tall and slender, and gave off a brisk, efficient, penny-pinching air. I got the sense that he’d complain about damaged armor, saying that you could’ve sacrificed a leg to save the greaves or some nonsense like that. Not that I could blame him on the penny-pinching part. Everyone probably wanted all the resources in the world, and it was his job to turn the limited Senate funds into enough armor, weapons, goods, and most importantly, pay, for the entire organization.

Surprised I was talking with him, and not one of his endless minions. Who all required pay, and looked like they were driven harder than slaves working in a field.

Which, from my very brief conversation with the Quartermaster, might be the case. Money didn’t grow on trees and all that.

After a short negotiation, which consisted of me telling the Quartermaster what I wanted and him immediately lowballing me on what I could have – and me accepting said lowball, not wanting to piss him off this early into our relationship.

Maybe he’d warm up to me as I started feeding him coins? Actually, if I managed to make enough healing, and pay enough back into the pot, I could end up his golden goose… and golden geese got fattened up.

Granted, I’d make and have more just keeping it all to myself, but I was feeling not only a sense of responsibility, but of gratitude, towards the Rangers and all they’d done for me. It was the least I could do to give back somewhat.

After my mango budget was taken care of.

And a little shopping budget.

And a “fun with mom/dad/Artemis/other” budget.

And… yeah I’m not sure how much would end up back in the Quartermaster’s pocket.

Oooh, but I needed to make friends with a good mango merchant. Maybe a standing, recurring order of some sort… yes… yes…

I was sleep deprived and rambling. Gemstone dude.

Gemstone dude practically glittered, and I meant that both metaphorically and literally. He had sparkly dust all over him, remnants of little bits of gems getting crushed and just sticking to him, and a greedy sparkle in his eye.

I immediately saw why Quartermaster was so penny-pinching. Gemstone dude would suck him – all of us – dry in a heartbeat given the chance.

I charged the few Moonstones he had left with as much [Phases of the Moon] as I could. It was weird filling them up. I focused on “heal”, and the gemstones acted like a person that needed to be healed, mana draining out of me and into the stones. I could then sense when it was ‘healed’, aka the gemstone had taken as much mana as it could handle. They’d have terrible efficiency when used, but then again, they weren’t being used for casual things, they were being used for ‘oh god I lost an arm//got poisoned by a snake in the middle of the wilderness’, where anything was better than nothing, where even if [Phases] wasn’t enough to fix everything, it should be enough to stabilize the problem long enough for the Sentinel to get better help.

There was no cafeteria or anything inside of HQ, but there were a half-dozen food vendors who set up shop nearby, the large number of hungry people from HQ enough to support them, never mind the other businesses and government buildings in the area.

I grabbed food from the closest vendor, probably overpaying, downed it without a thought, somehow found my bed, and crashed. The System helpfully reminded me that I was a Sentinel, and had done a bunch of new Sentinel-ish stuff.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Sentinel's Superiority] has reached level 191 -> 195]

Tomorrow would be the start of the rest of my life.

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 18]

[Mana: 50400/50400]

[Mana Regen: 44496 (+3360.72)]

Stats

[Free Stats: 8]

[Strength: 236]

[Dexterity: 203]

[Vitality: 560]

[Speed: 480]

[Mana: 5040]

[Mana Regeneration: 5092 (+1435.944)]

[Magic Power: 4636 (+46591.8)]

[Magic Control: 4636 (+46591.8)]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 240]]

[Celestial Affinity: 240]

[Warmth of the sun: 198]

[Medicine: 202]

[Center of the Galaxy: 235]

[Phases of the Moon: 240]

[Moonlight: 240]

[Veil of the Aurora: 212]

[Vastness of the Stars: 139]

[Class 2: [Ranger-Mage - Radiance: Lv 180]]

[Radiance Affinity: 180]

[Radiance Resistance: 180]

[Radiance Conjuration: 180]

[Radiance Manipulation: 180]

[Sun-Kissed: 141]

[Blaze: 180]

[Talaria: 160]

[Nova: 180]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 136]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 159]

[Pretty: 134]

[Bullet Time: 189]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 201]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 195]

[: ]

[Learning: 240]

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A note from Selkie

New magic circle! Old ones will still flicker in and out at times :)

The artist has a store where you can buy merch with the magic circle on it! https://society6.com/ceildesign - all proceeds go to the artist, not me, but hey! Figured I'd mention it. She did an amazing job.

Elaine's getting armed and dangerous!


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