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A note from Selkie

This is an EXCELLENT day to join Patreon, for so many, many reasons. I can't go into them all, but it's a good day.

 

On another note, Book 4 should be released on Amazon next week!

Hunting and I looked at each other with concerned bemusement. On one hand, the call to arms from the wall was mildly worrisome to put it gently. On the other, we just couldn’t get over being called Formorians.

The call to arms went on for a few minutes, Hunting and I awkwardly trading looks between each other then the wall, before a number of bearded faces popped over the walls.

I was not impressed with the response time. At all.

I was significantly more impressed – and concerned – when panels in the wall started to slide apart, and huge arrows, powered by massive ballistas, poked out of the walls.

I promptly ignored Hunting’s instructions to not do anything unless absolutely needed, and raised my hands.

“Whoa! Don’t shoot!” I yelled at them, getting a withering look from Hunting.

I shot him a “Are you fucking serious” look as he started to hunker down behind his shield.

“Hold! Hold fire!” A different voice called from the wall.

More inquisitive faces popped over the wall – along with a bunch of crossbows. I heard a loud curse, and some of the faces vanished.

I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to hear what was happening, but the dudes were loud. Also, I’m pretty sure the guy wanted all his minions to hear the dressing down.

“Thofur Krelur the 93rd! You worm-ridden cheese-for-brains idiot! Do those look like Formorians!? Are they large, menacing ants!? Is that an unbreakable, unending tide? What was that? I didn’t hear you! That’s what I thought! NO!”

More faces popped up, took a look at us. Vanished again to discuss, this time at a quieter volume.

“Are you sure you’re not Formorians?” Another head popped up and asked us.

We looked at each other.

“Think we should say we killed them?” I whispered to Hunting, only 60% confident that they couldn’t hear us from a distance.

Hunting looked at me, clearly weighing my words in his mind. He eventually shook his head.

“They clearly seem hostile towards the Formorians, but what if they consider us to be a bigger threat because we killed them? Nah, we can always let them know later.”

Wasn’t going to argue with that.

A number of the ballistas withdrew into the walls, which would’ve been more reassuring if the three that were pointed towards us had also gone back in the walls. No, those ones turned to aim at us, which I didn’t consider to be an improvement at all.

Eventually a door in the wall, so cleverly done that it was impossible to see that it was there at all, opened up, and a very nervous-looking, very short man with a massive beard walked out. Trembling somewhat, he walked towards us.

The penny dropped.

They weren’t human.

These were dwarves.

He had on armor, but it was strange. I was somewhat biased from my experiences. I expected metal and leather, same as what we had. Instead, everything seemed to be made out of a shiny wood.

No – varnished wood. But it only looked like wood. I had enough experience with armor to see that it didn’t move like wood at all, in spite of it obviously being wood.

It didn’t look slapped together either. It was strong, solid, and had that polished look to it that high quality crafted goods tended to have.

“Hi! I’m Elaine! Nice to meet you!” I said, waving cheerfully at him. Everyone liked cheerful!

He got close enough for me to identify him.

[Warrior]. Around level 280 or so?

How was someone so damn high level so scared? He should be a fearless warrior.

He was clearly [Identify]ing us as well, as he bowed towards us.

“Healer. You grace us with your presence, and I wish to invite you to break bread and share salt with us.”

I glanced at Hunting. That was an encouraging start to things!

“Thofur Krelur the 93rd! Sheep have more sense than you! Stop extending hospitality to them until we know more!” The voice from the wall yelled down.

“She’s a healer! Tradition demands that we extend hospitality!” He yelled back.

That statement caused a lot of muttering on the wall, and more than a bit of yelling. Not enough to get anything concrete, but it seemed that when “Tradition” and “Border Security” collided, there was a strong question of which one took priority.

“Fine! Healer! You grace us with your presence, and I wish to invite you to break bread and share salt with us!” The command dwarf yelled from the wall.

I glanced at Hunting. He shrugged, and whispered to me.

“Seems to be an in. Let’s take it, see what they’re like. This tradition of theirs seems strong, and you’re unlikely to get hurt by it.”

I nodded, grinning.

“Everyone likes healers.”

Thorfur Krelur the 93rd suddenly turned, and ran screaming back into the walls.

“Void mage! Void mage! He’s a Void mage!”

And it had been going so well to boot.

Thorfur Krelur the 93rd – it only seemed appropriate to say his entire name, given that every time we heard his name it was the full thing – was running screaming back to the wall, and the ballista all came thundering back out of their holes. More holes in the wall opened up, and large gemstones, surrounded by glowing lines and Arcanite, popped out.

Naturally, they all turned and pointed at us.

I had no idea what skills were stored in those gems, but I didn’t want to find out.

“Void Mage! You have six seconds to leave!”

“Six!”

Hunting and I looked at each other, briefly at a loss for words. If they’d attacked immediately, we’d be on the move, shielding and shooting and getting the heck out of here. The countdown starting at six, and not ten to boot?

Weird.

“Five!”

That got us talking, mostly over each other.

“I should stay.”

“You should stay.”

I tilted my head, letting Hunting take the lead, and the reins.

“Four!”

“They like you, they’re clearly traditional, you’re unlikely – scratch that, impossible – to be harmed. Plus, you could easily fly out if needed.”

“Agreed.” I said.

“Three!”

“They should have writing supplies. Get some. Take notes, lots of notes, on anything and everything. From the people you meet to the food. Get it all. I’m going to head back, and get a real team sent out here to relieve you.”

“Two!” Our time was running out.

“Hopefully Night and Ocean, at the bare minimum. Maybe more. Anyways. Good luck, and when in doubt, shut up and don’t do anything.” Hunting said, continuing to give me the crash course.

“ONE!”

Hunting mock-groaned.

“I can’t believe the architect of the Pastos incident is being used as a diplomat. What did I ever do wrong in life? We’re all doomed.” He said.

“Good luck.” Were his parting words, as he vanished so fast it made my hair whip around.

I stared at the wall, the ballistas and glowing arrays of gemstones armed, primed, and pointed at me.

I held up my hands again.

“Please don’t shoot.”

“Hold! Hold! Withdraw!” Commander-dwarf was yelling and shouting. One by one, then in a sudden wave, the various arrays and ballista were withdrawn, folding back into the wall in such a seamless manner that I couldn’t tell they were there.

With a bunch of muttering, most of the dwarves vanished off the wall, while I stood outside, awkwardly not moving.

Was I supposed to say something? Walk up? Stay here?

The awkwardness of the moment just made the seconds stretch out, longer and longer. I was just starting to think I should turn around and try to catch Hunting, when a door in the wall opened up, and Commander-dwarf showed up.

“Sorry about that.” He said, before straightening up – hilariously, shorter than me still – and going all formal on me.

“I am Tilruk Falvim the 91st.” He said, then stopped, staring at me expectantly.

“Um, hi. I’m Elaine.” I said.

If the area wasn’t a complete disaster, we would’ve had tumbleweeds. Tilruk Falvim the 91st’s eyebrows started to climb a bit. I got some divine intervention, and the penny dropped for me.

“No, really. Elaine’s my full, entire name. We don’t do numbering. Well, some people number their kids, but they do it as their name, not as an add-on. Like Septima. She was super nice. Helped me at the river, kept reminding me when I lost stuff. Or like Octavia. She was the 8th kid. Got the name eight. Yikes, I haven’t thought about Octavia in ages.” I said, wincing as I remembered her fate.

Almost mine.

I was completely punting this, wasn’t I? First human contact with another intelligent, reasonable civilization, and I was blathering.

I didn’t count goblins as intelligent or reasonable, and selkies were inexplicably murderous. Although, I had somewhat worked with that one tribe…

Focus.

Tilruk Falvim the 91st seemed to mentally struggle for a moment. I could see his beard twitching every which way, as different parts of him went to war. No idea what that was, reading normal people was hard enough, let alone dwarves. before relaxing and deciding that what I said had been good enough.

“Greetings, Healer Elaine… how old are you?” He said, half-bowing, adding the last part sort of as a question.

I saw no reason not to answer that.

“19.” I said, which got an eyebrow quirking up in surprise.

“19, 19… that’d put you in the 94th generation…” He mused out loud.

“Greetings, Healer Elaine the 94th” Tilruk Falvim the 91st formally said again.

I had this feeling that I was about to deal with a large amount of formality and repetition. My sanity was going to be in question at the end of this.

“Sure, Elaine the 94th, why not.” I said, agreeing amicably. I wasn’t about to go into titles and alternative names, not until I had a better grasp of what was what.

Also, I had a feeling that explaining what a Sentinel was wouldn’t turn out great. Maybe they’d respect me for mentioning I was recognized as one of humanity’s best. Maybe they’d be unhappy that I was in an organization full of “kill stuff dead” people. Maybe that’d strip the respect for my healer title away.

Not like I was hiding it, not with my armor on and weapons obviously visible on my waist and pack.

I just had no idea about anything.

Which, honestly, was par for the course when it came to anything social.

I’d gotten a blessed reprieve ever since Pastos.

I threw a quick [Identify] onto Tilruk, and got back a [Leader], around level 340 or so.

When in doubt, use a mirror.

“Greetings, Leader Tilruk Falvim the 91st.” I said, a heck of a lot more confidently than I felt, and bowed back.

“Healer. You grace us with your presence, and I wish to invite you to break bread and share salt with us.” Tilruk said, giving the formal-seeming invitation a third time. My theory of ‘lots of repetition’ was confirmed to boot.

“I’d love to. What next?” I said, figuring I’d try the direct route.

Maybe it’d be easier to be so far off of their normal traditional route, than to try and mimic it? Instead of trying to sing their song and being horribly off-key, I wouldn’t sing, and I’d just talk instead. Or some logic like that.

I dunno. I didn’t do social stuff. I’d call this a win if I managed to get out of this without starting a large-scale war. Small war, sure. That was a win in my book.

He hesitated, then gestured, a near-universal ‘come on in, the door’s open.’

“Come! Follow me.” He said, and I walked through the door in the wall.

I got a close, close look at the wall. I’d mentally marked where one of the ballistas had retracted into the wall – right above the door I was about to enter – and no matter how close I got, no matter how carefully I looked, there wasn’t even the line of a seam.

I stepped through the door, and it was like I’d been drowning, and I’d come up for air for the first time in my life. Light had touched my face, when I’d lived in darkness. Water, quenching a thirst I never knew I had.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [The Dawn Sentinel] has leveled up to level 305->306! +3 Dexterity, +24 Speed, +24 Vitality, +170 Mana, +170 Mana Regen, +48 Magic power, +48 Magic Control from your Class per level! +1 Free Stat for being Human per level! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element per level!]

[*Ding!* [Celestial Affinity] leveled up! 305 -> 306]

[*Ding!* [Dance with the Heavens] leveled up! 305 -> 306]

[*Ding!* [Sentinel’s Superiority] leveled up! 305 -> 306]

“Whoa!” I cried out, hand over my heart, breathing rapidly.

“Are you ok? Is something wrong?” Tilruk said, looking concerned and worried, eyebrows furrowed.

“Ok? Ok!? I feel better than ok! I feel great! I feel wonderful! This is magical! Amazing! Fantastic! What did you do!? What is this? An inscription? Wow! It’s one heck of an inscription! I’ve gotta know how to do this!”

Tilruk was looking at me like I’d gone mad, which, in retrospect, wasn’t an unfair assessment.

Slowly, like he was talking to a child, like he couldn’t believe what he was asking, he spoke.

“Hang on. Are you talking about the feeling of leaving the dead zone?” He asked.

[*Ding!* [Learning] leveled up! 280 -> 281]

“I dunno! If you mean that fantastic feeling just now, then yes!” I said, before my brain caught up to my mouth.

“Wait, what do you mean, dead zone?”

 

 

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 19]

[Mana: 155500/155500]

[Mana Regen: 135176 (+99520)]

Stats

[Free Stats: 52]

[Strength: 293]

[Dexterity: 350]

[Vitality: 2200]

[Speed: 2200]

[Mana: 15550]

[Mana Regeneration: 15550 (+9952)]

[Magic Power: 7939 (+107176.5)]

[Magic Control: 7939 (+107176.5)]

[Class 1: [The Dawn Sentinel - Celestial: Lv 306]]

[Celestial Affinity: 306]

[Cosmic Presence: 231]

[Solar Infusion: 1]

[Center of the Universe: 285]

[Dance of the Heavens: 306]

[Wheel of Sun and Moon: 271]

[Mantle of the Stars: 256]

[Sunrise: 13]

[Class 2: [Ranger-Mage - Radiance: Lv 256]]

[Radiance Affinity: 256]

[Radiance Resistance: 256]

[Radiance Conjuration: 256]

[Shine: 111]

[Sun-Kissed: 256]

[Blaze: 256]

[Talaria: 256]

[Nova: 256]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 151]

[Pristine Memories: 200]

[Pretty: 152]

[Bullet Time: 268]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 270]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 306]

[Persistent Casting: 189]

[Learning: 281]



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Selkie

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