I put the books back down, mentally marking their location.
“Hey, I can come back here if I don’t like what’s through the door, right?”
“Yup! It’s just, ah, complicated through there.” Librarian said.
Good to know I wasn’t locking myself into anything.
Complicated, eh? I opened the door, and saw…
… the other side of the room. Anti-climatic in a way.
I stepped through it and ended up in a starfield, floating in space. Dozens, hundreds of stars surrounded me, connected to each other in clusters with thin little lines, forming a field of constellations around me. Some of the stars were brightly lit, most of them were dim. The constellations were of all different sizes, some big, some little. The stars themselves had as many sizes as there were stars, from tiny pinpricks that I could barely see, all the way to some “stars” that looked more like small moons.
I had a large glass cylindrical container, taller than I was, wider than I was, hovering in front of me. It was filled with a glowing, shimmering substance that looked like bottled starlight. The top was open, and tiny little motes of starlight, little twinkling points that looked like fireflies occasionally came off the top.
I looked down. I was floating in space, more stars and constellations below me. I tried to move around a bit, finding that I was able to reposition myself at will. The door was gone, but I had no doubt that it’d be easy to find my way back to the library if I needed to.
A book was on display in front of me, on a stand hooked up to the glass container. It was a strange, shifting multi-colored thing, like the doorway I’d come through.
[The Dawn Sentinel] Requirements: Sentinel. Title “Dawn”. Healed over 100,000 people (non-unique). Killed a creature over level 750. Participated in killing a monster that threatened humanity that was over level 1000. Cured plagues. Handled volcanic fallouts. Dealt with tsunamis flooding cities. Trailblazer. Contributed to human’s medical knowledge. You are Sentinel Dawn, and you bring light and hope to those who see you. A peerless healer, you have worked your way to the top, selflessly sacrificing yourself whenever needed for the betterment of others.
Although – there were no stats listed.
I looked down, and on the stand, there were nine marked indents. I experimentally pressed the first one once.
The book changed slightly, and the summary at the end now had a “+1 Strength per level” on it. It seemed like the starlight level in the container went down just a hair.
Pressing on each of the icons did exactly what I’d guessed – put one point into each of the stats for the class. The level of starlight dropped a tiny fraction of an amount.
Alright, time to check the most important thing – could I put the points back?
The answer was yes! I could put them back in! Success!
I played around with it a bit more, and did some experimenting. Turns out, I had a whopping 631 stat points per level that I could allocate. I was stunned. That was more than eight times the number of stat points per level that I had access to before. There had to be some catch.
I checked what would happen if I made all the starlight Free Stats. Turns out, I could only get 504 stat points out of it. Message received. There was a penalty for the flexibility that Free Stats offered. It was worth properly planning out what I needed and where, and minimizing the number of Free Stats that I used.
I looked around at the stars and constellations around me. There were dozens, if not hundreds, of constellations around me, but only a dozen or so constellations had stars that were brightly lit. Eight of those were lit up with a faint yellow glow, while the rest were a blazing white.
I looked at one constellation that was glowing yellow, and it was simply composed of four stars connected in a line, each one larger than the prior one. The last one was “small moon”-sized. It was almost the center of everything, tiny threads in the sky linking it to every single other constellation up there, like the heart.
Like the center of the starry sky.
It seemed fairly simple, and I focused on it, trying to study it.
The sky helpfully expanded around it, most other constellations vanishing to give me a better look at this one.
One star at the bottom was lit up, glowing yellow, and the rest were dark. All four stars were big though. Not the largest, but hefty. There was a faint image around the entire constellation, making it clear that the constellation was a scepter, the sovereign ruler.
Or I was just reading too much into it.
Looking at the one star that was lit up in the constellation, I could faintly see what skill it represented.
It was the lowest star in the constellation. I focused on the second star, large in the sky, and with a force of will, made it light up!
[Celestial Authority] it said. It took me a moment for the penny to drop.
It was a skill tree! I could customize what skills I got!
I was pretty sure.
I glanced at my vat of starlight.
My now heavily drained vat of starlight. A solid chunk had gone into lighting the star up. I went back to the stats, and put all the starlight into mana regeneration. 375 stat points. So, lighting up the [Celestial Authority] star cost me 256 stat points.
Hang on, where was Librarian when I needed her? This seemed to be exactly the sort of question I had her for.
“I thought it’d be more fun if you figured it out yourself.” She said, popping up. “Spirit of adventure and exploration and all that.”
I grumbled to myself, a huge grin on my face. She knew me too well. I totally enjoyed figuring it out.
“What am I missing?” I asked her. “I think I’ve got it all set.”
“Yeah. Except you can also strip points from the constellations you already have skills in.” She said. “This is it. Last chance we’re going to get to upgrade this class. We’ve gotta make it good. We should take a look around, and look at all the skills. Then pick eight skills we want, and put all our points into them. Buy all the perks we want. Put whatever starlight remains into our stat allocation.”
“There’s gotta be more to it than that.” I said.
“Yup! Depending on how much we put into a skill, passive skills might take up more mana – or more starlight. Also, if we put fewer points into a skill, we might get it later on. It might require that we get a higher level before it’ll unlock, and it might be weaker as a result. Still, it’s a trade-off worth thinking about and analyzing.”
“Any idea why I’m basically getting to build my own class, instead of taking something the System’s offered me?” I asked.
Librarian shrugged. “No idea. Got lucky, maybe the System thinks you’re worthy, maybe you hit some accomplishment. Heck, maybe this is how monsters class up or something! Honestly, I have no idea.”
The monster thing sounded dubious at best. I was going to make the most of this though. Once in a lifetime opportunity and all that.
I looked around and cursed.
“There are hundreds of constellations here. Literally. Hundreds.” I said. I picked a random unlit constellation. A raven in flight, twinkling stars making everything from the beak to the wings, shining eyes and sharp claws.
Allergies. This set of constellations was everything to do with allergies. Detecting what someone was allergic to. That ranged from getting weak responses, to getting exact details, depending on how many points I put into it. Stopping a response. Helping the immune system at the start. Straight-up rewiring the immune system at the end, to remove the allergic reaction.
I looked around some more.
There was a constellation full of what I could only call “dead” stars. It wasn’t that they were unlit, just – straight up dead. It was in the shape of a stuffed children’s toy. With some imagination, it could be a teddy bear, a bunny rabbit, a fox, or if you squinted hard, a bird of some sort.
Seemed kinda interesting. I focused on it to see more, and groaned when I realized what skills the constellation was for.
Bedside manner. A social skill.
Apparently, my allergy to social skills went deeper than I thought, and even the representation of the skill in celestial form was indicated by dead stars. I couldn’t think of a better way to indicate that it was a hard no on the skill.
I tried to light up the stars, for the sake of thoroughness and completeness. Nothing happened. They were dead, and the skills were clearly closed off to me.
“Any chance I can get this all in book form, to better organize what’s going on?” I asked Librarian. I loved books, and we were in a library. Why was I stargazing? I could see someone stargazing to pick classes, but that would be for a completely different person. I was a book gal. Give me paper and ink to manage!
With a wave, Librarian gave me a cozy little book cubby, with the hundreds of books surrounding me. Eight of them glowed yellow – my current skills. More glowed white, but they were dwarfed by the hundreds that were mundane. A few blackened, charred books were my dead skills.
Way to rub it in System.
I grabbed the eight books representing my current skills.
[Celestial Affinity] was an automatic keep. The fact that every single class came with an affinity skill, and that it looked like it was the center of absolutely everything, with everything seemingly relying on it? I wasn’t taking my chances on not having it. Also, being the middle of everything had it as a contender to upgrade – although the prohibitive cost was making me hesitate.
[Warmth of the Sun] was a keep, and I was looking to upgrade it heavily. [Radiant Nebula of the Healer] had shown me just how powerful area of effect healing could be, and I wanted to open myself up to the possibility. I wanted to have a healing aura strong enough that simply being in the triage tent would get most injuries that could heal naturally, to heal naturally. It was represented as a grand tree, a trunk leading to many different branches. I had a few core stars lit up along the trunk, surrounded by a few smaller stars. Just one branch had a few stars lit up. I took a close look at them – it was the warmth aspect of the skill.
[Medicine] likewise was a keep. I was a hair leery on how much knowledge I could possibly lose without it. It combined with [Pristine Memories] was the entire basis of how efficient I was. Of all constellations it could be, it was represented by a lantern. Most of the frame was lit, and a dozen little stars were shining inside of it. A fairly complete skill, although a number of dim stars inside it suggested there were untapped depths to the skill.
With that being said, it was low on the list. If push came to shove, I might – maybe – under dire conditions – axe the skill. Sure, my ability to lecture at Artemis’s school might also be axed, and I’d probably end up a much worse mentor to Autumn, but I might be able to remember enough off of my scrolls, and it would be possible to re-learn it all the hard way. Especially with [Oath] and [Pristine Memories] boosting me.
For now, my knee-jerk reaction was that I was going to keep it. I would do some thinking and meditating on the issue though.