Of course, once I saw that perk in a skill, I wanted to go back and cross-reference my [Phases of the Moon]. I’d try to find the corresponding stars inside the constellation. Not every skill I was offered, not every new thing, was a subset of the constellation. Some were their own, but I took the chance to look around and see what I was missing in the constellation, check if it was reasonably close enough to ignite and make mine, without needing to make a long string of stars to the skill. After all, igniting random stars in the middle of the constellation, that weren’t connected to anything else, was a good way to get it offered as a new skill, not as an expansion of a skill.

At least, that was my understanding of it.

Magical herbs. Petrification. ‘Strange metal sickness’, whatever that was. Something about being close to some types of metals could make you sick? It was considered a mundane ailment? How did I not know anything about this? It was weird. I thought I had knowledge of everything mundane. Yet, looking at this skill, it was clear that, yes, I did have some hole in my knowledge, something so large that I didn’t even know I had a hole. Nor did it neatly connect to anything else, no obvious trails that lead to a gap.

I knelt and groaned, holding my head. It hurt. Pain. Nothing external, just pure internal agonizing and headaches.

I put a few points, grabbing the skill, and moved on, determined to ignore it.

Lead poisoning was a different ailment, and a bit more obvious, and I was going to be happy grabbing that skill. At last! Mercury poisoning. Gold and silver poisoning – each one got a tiny little star. Stars to boost efficiency. Stars to connect to the [Moonlight] portion of the constellation, which would merge and fuse the two skills. That was a long, long, long chain of stars. I could barely make it if I spent way too much starlight on it. Stars to make my healing automatic, which gave me a moment’s pause.

“Hang on.” I said, pointing to the ‘automatic’ star. “This isn’t factoring in my other skills at all, is it?” I asked Librarian.

“Nope!” She cheerfully informed me. “Except yes. Some skills will be based off of other skills you have. Makes them easier to get. Other skills don’t. It’s not quite arbitrary, but the rules around it are complex enough that they might as well be. It’ll cost a heck of a lot more to remove it from your other skill entirely, and move it over here. Pay a premium to cram it all into one. Or rather, gotta pay either way – with using more skill slots, or using more starlight.”

Which interestingly implied that stars cost more starlight the more that were lit up. I decided to quickly check on it, picking two random stars inside [Phases].

Actually – hang on. Let’s be smarter about this. I took the starlight out of the callous star, and allocated all of my points into mana regeneration. I then carefully took starlight out of mana regeneration until I had enough starlight to ignite the star, giving me a careful measurement of exactly how much it took to make it happen. Giving me units to work with.

Ignited the first one. It took me 10 stat points to make it happen. Removed the starlight. Ignited the second one. 12 stat points. Ignited the first one again.

This time, it cost me 11 stat points to ignite it, instead of 10. Message received. The bigger and better the skill, the more it would take to continue to expand it. Made sense. Meant I couldn’t just make one uber skill and call it a day.

Well, ok then. Most of what I couldn’t handle was in what seemed to be the “magical ailments” section of the constellation, and I quickly wrapped up grabbing the few tiny stars in the “mundane” section.

I was delighted that parasites, viruses, bacteria, prions, fungi, cancer, blood loss and all other manner of mundane problems were lit up, along with restoring flesh and carving out dead material. The ‘Restore muscles properly’ perk was also lit, which explained why Brawling didn’t need to start working out again once I’d restored his legs. It was satisfying to know that my skill was pretty damn good.

It just could be better.

Just not everything. Fixing autoimmune diseases was still beyond my reach, although I’d somehow never encountered one so far. Lucky me!

Unlucky them. I probably hadn’t encountered one, because nobody had survived long enough for me to get to them.

I made an impulsive move, and lit up a “restore callous” star. It was tiny, and would barely cost me anything.

There was a skill book for magical ailments to compliment the [Phases of the Moon]. Skills for everything under the stars, skills for everything the moon had seen. It was exhausting, seeing every book, every skill, then cross-checking it against what I had. Weirdly, this constellation wasn’t part of the [Phases] constellation, but there was near-perfect overlap. Anything in this book had a corresponding star in [Phases], while being a completely different skill.

Weird. If I was going the route of wanting to heal magical ailments, if I wanted these perks in the skill, I’d just upgrade [Phases] instead, grab a cluster inside the skill as its own stand-alone skill, and hope it merged with the main healing down the line. Still. It made it a bit easier to see how it all worked together, seeing what the System considered the “magical ailment healing” skills all bundled together.

To call this complicated would be an understatement. I would love to take a thousand notes on everything in the library and bring it back and supplement my Medical Manuscripts with the information. Sadly, [Pristine Memories] didn’t work here, and all my mental energy was being devoted to not screwing up this once in a lifetime chance. I was pretty happy that decision paralysis hadn’t struck, and that I was chugging along, putting in the needed legwork to make this all work out properly.

Although, I didn’t have [Pristine Memories] back when I was on earth, yet it was clarifying those memories. I’d need to check, but I wasn’t hopeful. The System didn’t seem to be the type to helpfully give me free information from classing up.

Librarian was a lifesaver, and she’d gotten me a blank book for me to take notes in. There were somehow sticky notes as well, and I was getting deeply buried in piles and piles of paperwork, as I carefully checked and cross-checked every potential skill, and how it could possibly slot in against the rest of the skills. If what I wanted from skill A was doable from skill B, or perhaps expanding skill C could make it work?

It was a dizzying labyrinth of skills and combinations, and I had barely even touched on more stand-alone skills like [Warmth of the Sun], to see what and how I wanted to upgrade that skill!

Thinking about that – I should go through the skill and check what I wanted from it. Increased size, increased healing speed. Oooh! There was a perk to make some of the resources come from my mana instead of the patient! Basically, not starving people as I healed them.

A restaurant might pay me good money to not take that perk though. Ah well, their loss. I didn’t see myself getting into the restaurant business anytime soon.

Also, the warmth aspect was a few stars in and of itself. I didn’t think I needed that, not when I had Radiance, and I was probably going to yoink that part of the skill. Technically a downgrade, but it’d give me more starlight to allocate elsewhere. Would also make the rest of the tree a hair cheaper to upgrade.

I didn’t put starlight into them yet – I was still in the note-taking part. Back to the books!

The next constellation – a mask – caught my eye, a few of the stars not quite lit up – but neither were they dim.

“What’s going on here?” I asked Librarian. She took a peek over my shoulder.

“Cosmetic surgery.” She said. “Reshaping faces, bodies, etc. The half-on stars are where you’re getting some support from [Pretty]. My guess? It’s how and why general skills influence class skills. Bet that [Ranger-Mage] also has some impacts here and there, meaning it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to turn those stars on.”

I thought about it for a moment. Not out of any consideration for taking the skill, but for the implications and what they meant.

“If I take a bunch of stars based off of that, would [Pretty] merge into it?” I asked.

Librarian thought about it for a minute or two.

“Probably.” She said cautiously. “No promises.”

It was good to know, and I put the book off to the side. I liked being [Pretty], but I had no desire to get into the cosmetic flesh reshaping business.

Books upon books, stars upon stars. There wasn’t an obvious “save” or “undo” method, just lots of notes, so I was a hair reluctant to pull all the starlight out of all the other skills, and get cracking. I wanted a full picture of everything before I started working on stuff.

Of course, all that got thrown out the window when I stumbled upon a particular book, deep in the stack of “potential skills”.

It started off innocently enough, an ouroboros for the constellation. Fancy, but there wasn’t any real rhyme or reason relating the constellation to the skill. I started to read the skill, feeling some strain from the mountain of books and notes I’d already taken. Mental fatigue was still a thing here.

I read the skill once, not quite properly processing what it said, and what the perks did. I must’ve misread it.

I stood up and stretched, chatting with Librarian.

“I’ve been at this too long. Misreading stuff now.” I said. “Gotta focus more.”

She arched an eyebrow at me.

“Be careful. This is it.” She gently rebuked me. I held my hands up.

“I know, I know. That’s why I’m taking this short break. Right! Back to it!” I said, sitting back down. Ready to read the skill properly, see what it did.

I read the skill again. It did… wait.

I hadn’t misread it.

It did what!?

And the other perks also did… holy shit.

When they were combined together, that would mean…

My heart started to speed up, my throat tightened up in nervous anticipation as the pieces of the puzzle clicked together

“This is it.” I forced the words out of my throat. “This is the skill.”

I didn’t bother with the math, with carefully checking how much each star cost. I just moved all my starlight from stats, back to the container.

I tried to light all the stars up, and only got through seven of them before running out of starlight. I needed all of them lit up. I needed this skill.

I made a strangled noise, and grabbed the unused skills, ripping the starlight out of them and dumping them back into the skill. Nine out of twelve.

“Whoa, whoa, chill!” Librarian said, as I started to reach for my current skills, intent on draining those. “First off, breathe. Think. It’s not going anywhere. It’s not going away. Second, you don’t need the entire skill lit up. Third, what about everything else? What about the rest of our plans, what about stats? We need those.”

What I should do is put the book down and go for a short walk to clear my mind. Instead, I just sat there, not even blinking, not wanting to risk the skill somehow vanishing or being misplaced if I looked away for even a moment.

Librarian sat next to me on the fuzzy chair. She put her hands over mine.

“Ok, look, I get it. Yeah, super exciting. The best skill ever. Calm down. Think.”

My mind was whirring, unable to calm down. Unable to think. Stuck in an endless loop.

I had to have this I had to have this I had to have this I had to-

Librarian cuffed me over the head, as hard as she could. I almost saw stars from the blow.

“Ow! Fuck! What was that for!?” I yelled at her.

“Resetting you.” She said, one hand on her hip, other hand pointing an accusing finger at me. “It’s. Not. Going. Anywhere. Now focus. What do we need?” She asked.

I just gave her a Look and pointed to the skill. She rolled her eyes at me.

“What else do we need? What do we want upgraded from our other skills?”

Fortunately, I’d been taking copious notes. Everything I’d been thinking of had been knocked right out of my head. I pored over the notes, pointing to a few dozen different stars I’d been wanting to ignite.

“Ok, good. What are we willing to sacrifice?”

Well, that had been all the other skills, but I already yoinked their starlight. I looked through stuff some more.

“The privacy aspects from [Veil]. While shielding Night was nice, I doubt we need to keep it just for that. Also the colors and light from it.” I reluctantly admitted. “Heat from [Warmth of the Sun]. A bunch of the anti-emotion stuff from [Center of the Galaxy]. I’m on the fence with [Medicine] as well, we’ve got a bunch of great options, and I think we can manage with [Pristine Memories] and [Oath]’s knowledge boost.”

“Alright, good. Now, we don’t need this skill to be at full power right now. We can lower the amount of starlight in it, which means it’ll unlock when we’re higher level. This will give us enough starlight to get most of what we want, although they might also be dim, and unlock when we’re higher level. Plus.” Librarian waggled her finger at me. “We can’t use everything on skills! We need to have stats at the end of this!”

Oh shoot, she was right. I’d almost forgotten that.

Librarian looked over the book containing the skill, and pointed to four stars.

“We really only need those four – oh, and grab that fifth one as well. Let’s put as little starlight in it as possible, and it’ll unlock later on.”

I frowned at that.

“But I want it now.” I half-whined at her.

“Yeah, but you don’t need it now, do you?” She said. “You need it later on. It’s basically useless today, right?”

“Right…” I reluctantly admitted. Librarian was right about that. I didn’t need it now; I didn’t need it today. Heck, I had no use for it this year!


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