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A note from Selkie

I woke up the next morning, somewhat refreshed and feeling alive and well again. I got ready – I was going to get so spoiled with my own bath.

Night and Jaclyn were waiting for me when I exited my rooms, Jaclyn looking contrite.

Hang on – weren’t these Sentinel-only quarters? Night, abusing his privilege somewhat. Not that I was going to call him out on it.

“Sorry for trying to eat you.” Jaclyn said, and I raised my eyebrows at that. Seriously? That was the worst ‘I’m apologizing because I’m being made to and not because I actually feel bad’ I’d ever heard.

“Apology accepted.” I said, somewhat curtly, not really feeling it. If she’d been sincere, yeah I’d be happier.

Ah well, I’d take what I could get. Night might be in trouble though, if his vampires were starting to get other ideas, even with his presence nearby.

“Are your shoulders ok? Do you need them fixed up?” I asked, this time with some real concern. She wasn’t moving her arms much, if at all, and her shoulders looked much bulkier than usual under her tunic.

I’d gotten some real good looks at her shoulders after all.

I could see the struggle on her face, Night being impassive, before she admitted. “No, I could use some help.”

Poker face. Gotta keep a poker face. Oh, how it must sting to ask me for help, after having tried and failed to take a nibble out of me, getting blasted by me, and now needing me to fix her up.

I said nothing, just took a few steps closer and healed her.

Even though I knew what the problem was – shoulder-holes, caused by Radiance beams from the prettiest mage in existence – it was a massive mana-sink. I think it was because my class was primarily aimed at healing humans, and while Jaclyn was close enough that I could fully, properly heal her, I was clearly eating a hefty penalty.

Although, novelty was rewarded! New experiences! New creatures! New injury types, forgiveness, and the quite frankly higher-than-expected difficulty resulted in rewards!

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Constellation of the Healer] has leveled up to level 241! +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 241]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Medicine] has reached level 203->204]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Phases of the Moon] has reached level 241]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Moonlight] has reached level 241]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Oath of Elaine to Lyra] has reached level 202->204!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Learning] has reached level 241!]

Yay [Moonlight]! It had a boatload of excess experience, and I was being rewarded.

Hmmmm… maybe I could convince another vampire to try and take a bite out of me…

I shook my head at that. Same thinking as when Artemis suggested throwing me into another fire. Sheesh. What was I coming to?

Jaclyn was politely but firmly kicked out, so we could have our quick meeting. “Nope, everything’s good” was the long version of the meeting, and we left to go our separate ways.

I didn’t want to think about it, but it occurred to me – if Night really wanted to punish Jaclyn, he’d do it after I fixed her major injuries. Yeah, let’s not think too hard on that.

Who needed armor in the safe city? A simple tunic, like the ones I’d worn most of the time I was on vacation as a Ranger, was the name of the game. Did need to get used to my new stuff at some point.

Clinic wasn’t ready yet, and I’d gotten most of my gear set. I could practice with it… or I could go bug Artemis at her school, say bye to mom and dad as they were going to leave back to Aquiliea – needed to pick up their stuff before they could move – and, hmmm… what else to do…

Oh, I could bug Markus or something. Could be fun. See if I could get a trusty mango-merchant to buddy up with, strike a deal with Albina.

Right. This was a full to-do list.

I left my quarters, and not knowing where mom and dad were, but knowing where Artemis’s school was, I wandered down that way.

She lived just a hair out of town, and not having much better to do, I just stuck to the streets, just moving along with the crowd, enjoying being anonymous.

Enjoying only seeing people’s backs less. Ah well. I was in no rush.

I hit my first snag at the gate to the great outdoors, a problem I hadn’t even hit in Aquiliea.

“Purpose of leaving?” The guard asked me, in the same bored monotone from having asked the question dozens of times every hour, every day, for years.

“Visiting a friend!” I said cheerfully.

The guard looked me up and down doubtfully.

“Where’s your husband?” He asked.

Oh goddesses I was going to have to go through this again.

Worst part was, I generally liked guards. Argh!

“Not married.” I said curtly.

“Well, what about your father?”

“Trying to find him. Hence going to see my friend, she might know where he is.”

“Well, why didn’t you just ask the guard instead?”

“Because I want to see my friend? Nothing against that is there?”

“No, but it’s not safe out there for a girl.”

The worst part was calling me a girl. Sure, I was young, but 18 was an adult by any standard – doubly so in Remus, where I’d be considered a woman for years by now. I was starting to see tinges of red.

“Do I look low level enough to be in danger?”

“You look like a healer. So automatically, yes.”

I gritted my teeth in frustration. Pull rank or walk over, pull rank or walk over…

Let’s try diplomacy one last time.

“Do you have a real, good reason to not let me out?”

“My own judgement is enough, preserving your safety."

Fuck this guy. I’ma just walk over.

“Fine.” I said, taking a few steps back, making sure I was properly in sunlight. I activated [Talaria], and started to run up, up, over and out, ignoring the cries of the guards and the other people trying to leave.

Ok, not totally ignoring them. I flipped the guard off on my way out, ignoring his cries of protest. Bless men’s tunics.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Talaria] has reached level 161]

I landed on the other side of the wall without too many problems. The sun was high enough that the shadows weren’t too long. I really needed to upgrade [Talaria] and get rid of the “running on sunbeams” part, it was going to get me killed one day.

There was a minor commotion as I landed – fliers were rare, given that there’d only been six of us at Ranger Academy, and Ranger Trainees were among the best of the best – but I quickly acted naturally and just started walking, blending in with the crowd.

I wanted to grit my teeth in frustration. There was an entire fucking shanty town outside the walls! It was clearly safe! What sort of idiot fucking guard wanted to stop me from leaving!? What type of shit attitude was that!?

Oooh, I was tempted to have a talk with the guard captain on the way back.

I made my way to Artemis’s school, only to find the worst thing possible.

A sign.

“Closed for the Solstice. Come back soon!”

Was the entire world on vacation!?

Actually, thinking about it – probably yes. While Artemis could run the school constantly, she had a bunch of wealthy kids in it, who probably wanted to spend the festivities around the Solstice with their parents. Mom and dad were in town, and Artemis was probably spending time with them. It hadn’t been exactly clear where I was, and just like that, we did our best ‘two ships in the night’ impression.

I grabbed a large fallen branch, and with some clever use of [Radiance Conjuration] and [Radiance Manipulation], I burned a message into the now-much-flatter branch.

Artemis,

Elaine.

Living at Ranger HQ.

Swing by sometime!

And I was outta room. Oh well, she’d get the message. I could come back another day.

I made my way back into town, back through the same gates. Getting in was, ironically, easier than getting out.

“Purpose of visit?” Guard asked, same bored tone.

“Returning home?” I asked, not quite sure how to answer that.

“Welcome home.” The guard said, waving me in.

See? Wasn’t that easy!?

“Hey, yeah, that’s her!” I heard the guard from earlier yell, pointing at me.

I found myself at the wrong end of the attention of a bunch of angry-looking guards, including one who I assumed was the captain.

“She blew right through the gates when I denied her exit!”

“For no good reason.” I protested, defending myself.

“Miss, that’s still not a good reason. I’m going to ask that you come with me.” The captain said, fingers drumming on the baton.

Ooooh, I could pull this card for the first time. It was going to feel so good. I could see why people liked doing it.

“I’m sure you’ve heard this every day.” I said, slowly – didn’t want them getting any wrong ideas – reaching for my pouch. “But do you know who I – not my parents, not my husband, not a relative, who I am? I’m thinking no.”

The captain looked thoughtful, my tone of pride and note of joy giving myself away. He wasn’t the captain for nothing.

Idiot guard was sneering though, but the rest of the guards were reserved, looking to their captain for guidance.

“Ha! We don’t care who you are, we-“

“Shut up.” The guard captain said, cutting him off. “Miss, I better like what I’m going to hear.”

I couldn’t resist the smile that split my face in half from ear to ear, as I finished pulling my Sentinel badge out of my bag.

“Sentinel Dawn, at your service.” I said, showing the badge in all its splendor.

Instant salutes, from everyone but Idiot Guard, who just looked like a fish out of water.

“Sir! Err, ma’am? Apologies. Go ahead. I’ll deal with him. Have a nice day.”

I kept my mad grin on as I left, resisting the urge to pump my fist. Wasn’t a move I wanted to pull that often, but when the situation called for it? Yes please.

And now, I was back in the crowd, not too many people having noticed what just happened. Whoosh! Secret Agent Elaine!

Ok, fine, anyone who really wanted to could track me.

Where to next? Albina, probably.

I navigated my way through the winding maze of the city, grabbing lunch along the way. Found her – well, technically, probably her and the other [Beautician]’s husbands store, but for practical purposes, her store, and entered.

“Welcome! How can we help you?” The lady at the counter asked, then did a double take.

“Wait, are you Dawn?”

I scratched my head awkwardly.

“Yeah, but I’m here for me, not on business. No rush.”

Annnndddd that went in one ear and RIGHT out the other. Alternatively, she stopped listening at ‘yeah’. Either way, she went tearing off to the back.

I rolled my eyes – I was going to do a lot of that – and took a seat. There wasn’t anyone else waiting, and given the time of day and the lack of any big events, I wasn’t surprised.

Albina came hurrying out a moment later, and curtseyed to me.

“Dawn! What can I do for you?”

I laughed – in hindsight a poor move.

“Relax, relax! I’m still Elaine! Here as Elaine. Chill, I’m still human.”

A look flickered in her eye, and she straightened up.

“Well, come on back! You gotta tell me how the date went!”

My face involuntarily twisted.

“Ah, not well?” She said, reading the obvious body language.

“Sadly not.”

“Well, come on! Tell me all about it. Come, come!” She said, grabbing and steering me to the back.

“You sure? I’m not taking you away from anything?”

“Nothing important! Boring inventory. Sit! Do you want a do-up? It’s on the house, least I can do after you got me so many levels last time!”

Well, kinda what I wanted.

“Sure! Hoping to work on my own [Pretty]! Wanted to speak with you about that by the way…” I said.

We had a lovely conversation, where I told her an abridged, heavily redacted version of the date – I wasn’t about to let slip vampires, not when I was being trusted with secrets, not when it seemed like they were mostly under control.

Albina was wonderful, making all the right noises at the right times, offering a sympathetic ear. I mentioned my plan of visiting regularly, and she immediately offered me not only a discount, but to make her way up to HQ.

“After all, being the personal stylist for a Sentinel? Oooh, you’ll make me famous.”

“Ha! Come over more often then, with that discount. It’s not like I need to pocket the extra or anything!”

“Sure!”

She got silent a moment, then asked a question that made happiness, tinged with a hair of sadness, in my heart.

“Are lead and mercury really poisonous?”

I gave a deep sigh.

“Yes. They’re not fast. They’re slow. Very slow. And they don’t directly kill – just cause madness.”

A long silence behind me, then some forced cheer.

“Well! You’re Dawn. Guess I’ll have to change my stock around. The alternatives are more expensive, and don’t look as good, but if it’s better…”

I patted her arm – only place I could easily reach from the angle I was sitting at.

“It’s for the best. Hey! Maybe you’ll start a fashion trend!”

She laughed at that, her normal cheer restored.

“I can only hope!”

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Pretty] has reached level 135]

“A level! Huzzah!” I called out.

“Woohoo!” Albina said, celebrating with me. “Good timing, I just finished up.”

“Maybe that’s what triggered it?”

“Usually is.” She said. Well, she was the expert, I wasn’t going to argue with her in her chosen field of expertise.

“Thank you! See you in three days at HQ, around lunch?”

“Yup!”

“Great! I’ll send a runner if something comes up.”

“Cheers! Chin up! You’ll find someone!”

I gave her a thumbs-up on my way out the door.

Hmmmm. Let’s find Markus now.

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 18]

[Mana: 50570/50570]

[Mana Regen: 44696 (+3373.92)]

Stats

[Free Stats: 20]

[Strength: 236]

[Dexterity: 203]

[Vitality: 560]

[Speed: 480]

[Mana: 5057]

[Mana Regeneration: 5112 (+1441.584)]

[Magic Power: 4650 (+47430)]

[Magic Control: 4654 (+47470.8)]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 241]]

[Celestial Affinity: 241]

[Warmth of the sun: 198]

[Medicine: 204]

[Center of the Galaxy: 235]

[Phases of the Moon: 241]

[Moonlight: 241]

[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: 161]

[Nova: 180]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 136]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 159]

[Pretty: 135]

[Bullet Time: 189]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 204]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 195]

[: ]

[Learning: 241]

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A note from Selkie

Elaine's like "ummmm.... now what do I do?"

Kinda like the first taste of real independence. For the first time ever, she's not being given structure in her day to day life from her parents, the Rangers training her, or Ranger Academy. 


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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