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I woke up to dozens and dozens of notifications. Even compressed, I had a good number to wade through.

Also, my skin and flesh seemed to be crawling. It was disconcerting, but my [Persistent Casting] was still on, and my mana was…

Wow. That was a lot of mana.

It was also totally full!

The crawling sensation stopped, and I made a note to check on what the heck that was later.

 

Weirdly, I didn’t feel super hungry or thirsty. I suppose it’d hit me in a moment.

 

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Ranger Mage] has upgraded into [Butterfly Mystic]!]

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Butterfly Mystic] has leveled up to level 256->306! +8 Strength, +8 Dexterity, +70 Speed, +70 Vitality, +70 Mana, +70 Mana Regen, +70 Magic power, +70 Magic Control from your Class per level! +1 Free Stat for being Human per level! +1 Strength, +1 Mana Regen from your Element per level!]

 

What! Bullshit! Only 50 levels!? I’d been in the Formorian fight! I’d actively contributed the entire way! And then, after that capped me out, I’d…

 

… done almost nothing with the class. I fought some hellhounds, fired a few potshots at a chupacabra, briefly flashed [Shine] in the dragon fight, fought a slime and did some lasering against orcs. I wasn’t even sure if they were all worth enough experience to get a level, although the combined efforts were probably worth one level.

 

Then again, I’d done a bunch of new things! I met an angel… ok, that was probably more healing class. I encountered the dwarves, and while my Sentinel class got some levels out of that, some of the knowledge had to count!

Then again, I was arguing that leisurely reading books should be worth multiple levels at 300+, for a class that wasn’t dedicated to reading. My argument felt thin even to myself.

 

So it was all the Formorian War, which I’d started at, what, roughly level 215?

 

… maybe I shouldn’t whine about almost 100 levels in less than six months. It felt like an eternity, but that was the time left, not the time behind.

 

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Shine] has been upgraded to [Lantern]!]

Lantern: The lantern, held high to guide others. The luminous fairy, fluttering inside the lantern, exuding golden rays light. The firebug, lighting the world up with her lantern. The moth, drawn to the flame. You are all these and more. You hold the lantern aloft, guiding your fellows through the dark, stripping away the lies and the falsehoods of darkness, revealing the world as it is to all around you. Destroy illusions around you. Minor sense for illusions. Improved illusion removal efficiency per level.

While it seemed to be mostly the same skill, I wondered what ‘minor sense for illusions’ meant? Would I get a system notification about nearby illusions? Or would it be more subtle?

The part about “I was a fairy trapped in a lantern” was more than a bit concerning, and caused a deep pit of worry to form in my stomach. I really, really hoped it didn’t come back to bite me. I was hoping it was just metaphorical, that it was describing me lighting up the dwarfs’ area, and their city was the lantern I was “trapped” inside.

Given that the skill had upgraded, I was going to assume the anti-illusion properties were even stronger than before. Radiance was already a natural counter to Mirage and all illusions, and improved efficiency basically meant that I’d be using a tiny fraction of the same mana to destroy an illusion. For example, if Magic spent 10,000 mana on an illusion, it might only take me 800 mana to destroy it.

I had no idea what the actual numbers were - I was guessing, especially since the skill didn’t tell me numbers - but I knew the ratio was brutal against illusions. Only the most powerful Mirage-makers could last more than a second against [Lantern].

That’s what they get for trying to trick the world. There were no good uses for illusions, in my opinion.

I was conveniently ignoring entertainment. And a whole host of other, potentially legitimate uses.

Somewhere, I swear I felt Librarian giggle.

Naturally, [Lantern] would still be good for plain old lighting things up as well.

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Sun-Kissed] has been upgraded to [Nectar]!]

Nectar: Nectar is the sweet sugar of the natural world, essential for every butterfly. The mighty mango tree generates the sweetest nectar of them all. But [Butterfly Mystics] don’t need nectar, they need mana! .2% increased mana regeneration per level.

That was almost the same as [Sun-Kissed], with one crucial difference.

It came from me, not from the sun! I was freed from the tyranny of the sky! No longer did I need to be outdoors to enjoy the skill.

Putting it another way - I almost doubled my mana regeneration stat!

However… it no longer mentioned free mana regeneration. Did that mean I now needed to chow down extra to compensate? With it almost doubling my mana regeneration…

I needed to look into a [Bottomless Pit] skill. Or maybe some sort of [Gourmet] third class.

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Blaze] has been upgraded to [Sun’s Heart]!]

Sun’s Heart: Your inner fire only grows larger, stronger. Hotter. More powerful. A sun has formed in your heart, pulsing energy burning through you with every beat. Your fire and passion can’t be contained, and will explode out with every skill you cast. Increased heat, damage, and effective mana per level when casting offensive spells and generating heat. Costs 32,768 mana regen.

Welp, there went…

Roughly 9 mana per second.

In other words -

Almost a rounding error worth of mana.

Holy shit.

 

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Talaria] and [Pretty] have been merged into [Scintillating Ascent]!]

Scintillating Ascent: Take wing with the prettiest pair of wings on Pallos! With every flap of your iridescent, scintillating wings, you will soar through the boundless sky, see what the whole world has to offer you. The flight speed is tied to your speed stat. .4% reduced mana usage per level. 1% increased maneuverability per level. Tiny prettiness metamorphosis per level.

The skill didn’t mention upgrading, but that’s because it was tied to the class, not the skill.

ALSO!

THE MOTHERFUCKING SYSTEM TOOK MY [PRETTY] SKILL!

I worked my ass off for that skill! It was mine, damnit! I didn’t want it absorbed into [Scintillating Ascent]!

I was going to grab the System by its throat, and shake it until my [Pretty] skill came back out again.

I took a moment to blow out some annoyed air, making it all too obvious I was back. I got some looks, but I was too busy being annoyed.

Then again, people taking some time to process everything new was normal. Especially the higher tier upgrades took longer, since there was just so much more information to process.

Fine. The System had taken my [Pretty] skill, but it was merged into [Scintillating Ascent]. It wasn’t gone, simply transformed… like a butterfly.

Like it seemed to be saying would happen to me.

Wait. The little crawling sensation when I woke up - did my skill just make me prettier? Not just my own self-perception, and helping me be pretty, but did it just morph me a hair closer to my own ideal?

Wait.

WAIT.

It was now a Class Skill, not a General Skill! That meant [Sentinel’s Superiority] now applied! Free 25% boost to my new [Pretty] skill!

And, with my free general skill slot, I could just take [Pretty] again! DOUBLE PRETTY TIME!

… Fine, System, I forgive you.

I had a feeling I was going to be making a lot of butterfly jokes in the future.

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Nova] has been upgraded to [Supernova]!]

Supernova: The silent roar of the biggest stars in the universe exploding in one final cataclysmic event. Even larger exploding stars. Increased size, damage, speed, and control per level.

That was the shortest, lamest description of a skill ever. However, control? That seemed to imply that I could bend my [Supernova]’s now - which was one of the only things I’d lost when I’d ditched [Radiance Manipulation]. Something to test, as soon as I could.

Although, I’d need a good testing ground. [Nova] had already been fairly large, and this was promising to be even larger.

 

Right! Cool new skills! [Butterfly Mystic] away! Let’s see what the levels had to say about things!

[*ding!* [Radiance Affinity] has leveled up! 256->306]

[*ding!* [Radiance Resistance] has leveled up! 256->306]

[*ding!* [Radiance Conjuration] has leveled up! 256->306]

[*ding!* [Nectar] has leveled up! 256->301]

[*ding!* [Sun’s Heart] has leveled up! 256->306]

[*ding!* [Scintillating Ascent] has leveled up! 256->281]

[*ding!* [Supernova] has leveled up! 256->306]

LEVELS! It was pretty clear which skills I’d extensively used in the fight against the Formorians, and which skills hadn’t been used as much.

Also, I had a free general slot now! On one hand, I wanted to rush off and grab some cool new skill to fill it. Like [Extra Pretty]. On the other, I was keeping an eye out for a companion, and the open slot was perfect for that.

And like some deformed monstrosity, on the third hand, an open general skill could totally be used for escaping. Something like [Sneaking].

Heck, [Escaping] might be a skill!

I could always combine option two and option three. Grab [Sneaking] for now, replace it later.

Or another skill.

Speaking of other skills, I was being offered a boatload.

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee?]

Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee: Butterflies are fragile things, carefully flitting through the world from flower to flower. Cruel creatures love nothing more than to throw rocks at the vision of beauty, crushing the innocent butterflies. However, you aren’t an ordinary butterfly, no, you’re a [Butterfly Mystic]. Show the rock-throwers that you’re not so easily taken down. Personal defense system. Automatically shoots down projectiles heading your way. Increased range, number of Radiance beams per level.

Point defense system strikes again! Third time might be the charm, since it could help me escape. No flying requirement either!

No flying skill integration though.

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Pollination]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with Pollination?]

Pollination: As you fly about from flower to flower, drinking the sweet nectar of knowledge, you impart knowledge yourself. You cross-pollinate ideas and information, and you never know when you’ll sow the seeds of inspiration with those who are teaching you. Teaching skill. 0.4% per level increased experience gain for yourself and others when teaching them new knowledge. 0.5% increased ease of skill acquisition for yourself and others when teaching.

Yeowch. This was a solid skill. I’d want to try and grab it again once I was back in Remus.

Then again, was weakening my self-defense worth it? I’d need to think hard about it… another day.

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Eyes of the Mystic Butterfly]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with Eyes of the Mystic Butterfly?]

Eyes of the Mystic Butterfly: Eyes in your head, eyes in your wings, now get eyes in the back of your head! So to speak. Butterfly wings have eyes, and with the Eyes of the Mystic Butterfly, you can see through them! Improved processing, clarity, and scope per level.

This was interesting. I’d almost literally get eyes in the back of my head. Full-scope vision? Sounded cool! Sadly, I’d need my wings out to make the best of it.

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Egg Laying]! Would you like to replace a -

NOPE NOPE NOPE HARD PASS ON ANYTHING CALLED EGG-LAYING.

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Signal Flare]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with Signal Flare?]

Signal Flare: You constantly find yourself in peril and needing to ask for help. This skill is an unmistakable cry for help and attention, that you urgently need assistance at your location. Increased size, speed, pierce, visibility, and loudness per level.

I’d take the skill if I was on a Ranger team still. I wasn’t though - I was the reinforcements. Here, I was already surrounded by guards. Elsewhere, I was a solo operative. I just couldn’t see good use out of the skill.

At least it was better than egg laying.

 

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Sun Scales]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with Sun Scales?]

Sun Scales: While in flight, you may choose to loose a dusting of sun scales during the day which will cause all those touched to become burned, and ignite wildfires.

Um. If I didn’t have [Oath] and wanted to utterly burn some place to the ground, maybe I’d consider it. As-is? Nope.

 

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Migration]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with Migration?]

Migration: Butterflies fly far, and you’ll need to fly further than most! Dramatically reduced cost, increased energy, stamina, and flight speed after flying more than an hour continuously. Effects increase per level.

The skill was strong, and was a serious contender for getting into my skill line-up. Problem was, what to replace with a brand new level 1 skill? My Vitality was pretty good, and I already knew I had infinite flight time from [Talaria] before it got upgraded. [Sunrise] had me set in the energy field, so really all it did was a slowly ramping flight speed once I’d been flying for an hour. If I’d already been flying for an hour though, I was home free, so to speak.

[Lantern] was a candidate for getting cut for it though. I’d need to do some more thinking.

 

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Monarch Butterfly]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with Monarch Butterfly?]

Monarch Butterfly: The ruler of butterflies, the queen of insects, all flock to be sheltered beneath the monarch’s wings. Increasing ability to attract insects. More exotic insects and numbers will follow per level.

 

… Why? Just, why? I get that moths and other insects were attracted to flames, but why would the System offer me such a skill? Hard pass on more bugs biting me, which might bring me down some [Swarm Queen] route or other such nonsense.

 

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [A Single Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with A Single Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings?]

A Single Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings: Chaos.

Ok, with a skill description like that, no way in the seven hells was I taking the skill.

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Cooking]! Would you like to replace a Class Skill with Cooking?]

Cooking: Food is best eaten cooked, as you well know from frying dozens, hundreds of animals with your Radiance magic. Sometimes you burn ‘em, sometimes you undercook them. Well, no more! Perfectly cook your dinner every time! Increased cooking speed per level.

That was somewhat appealing, I wasn't going to lie.

 

Still. Any new skill I got would get reset, put back to level 1. Given the ease that I could unlock skills now, I decided to shelve the decision and thinking for later. Like [Eyes of the Mystic Butterfly], or [Migration]. They all seemed like upgrades to [Scintillating Ascent], and I’d rather spend my time and effort upgrading the skill to manually merge them in, rather than get supplemental support skills.

Like. It’d be easier to merge the skills if I took them all, and focused on merging them, but I only had so many skill slots. I’d need to ditch a bunch of skills to make it work, then re-train them from scratch.

I’d keep thinking about the choice. For now, I was going to keep my skills, and focus on them.

I took a look at my status.

 

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 19]

[Mana: 291390/291390]

[Mana Regen: 229092 (+219647.225)]

Stats

[Free Stats: 161]

[Strength: 670]

[Dexterity: 871]

[Vitality: 7116]

[Speed: 7116]

[Mana: 29139]

[Mana Regeneration: 29189 (+21964.7225)]

[Magic Power: 13479 (+207576.6)]

[Magic Control: 13479 (+207576.6)]

[Class 1: [The Dawn Sentinel - Celestial: Lv 365]]

[Celestial Affinity: 365]

[Cosmic Presence: 285]

[Solar Infusion: 110]

[Center of the Universe: 365]

[Dance of the Heavens: 365]

[Wheel of Sun and Moon: 311]

[Mantle of the Stars: 365]

[Sunrise: 132]

[Class 2: [Butterfly Mystic - Radiance: Lv 306]]

[Radiance Affinity: 306]

[Radiance Resistance: 306]

[Radiance Conjuration: 306]

[Lantern: 188]

[Nectar: 301]

[Sun's Heart: 306]

[Scintillating Ascent: 281]

[Supernova: 306]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Long-Range Identify: 365]

[Pristine Memories: 206]

[: ]

[Bullet Time: 283]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 308]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 365]

[Persistent Casting: 259]

[Passionate Learning: 354]

 

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Selkie

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