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A note from Selkie

Are you tired of Elaine's pure heart and upright morals? Do you want dark magic and ruthless protagonists, raising legions of the dead to perform his bidding? Do you need more DINGS in your life?


Sylver Seeker! https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/36065/sylver-seeker

I yelped as the [Rubbery Rope] that attached me to Awarthril got yanked on, snapping me forward into the brawl. There was no [Bullet Time] activation, but I did throw a shield around the egg, curling around it protectively. There was no way I was going to let this get hurt.

 

“Oi!” Awarthril’s fury was clear in her voice, as she stood up. “No bystanders! Elaine’s fragile, and she’s got an even more delicate egg with her!”

 

Ouch. 11000 vitality. Fragile. Right to the heart.

 

Aegion dusted himself off. He opened his mouth a few times, just to close it, frustration written on his face. Finally, he stalked off, and that seemed to be the end of it.

 

“Food for a baby companion can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what it is ahead of time.” Serondes broke up the awkwardness by continuing another one of his lessons. “I would have fruits, berries, ferns, leaves, meat, bones, and organs - liver and brains are a favorite - on-hand, and I’d consider getting some more esoteric things, like good dirt, prepared just in case. You did mention you found the egg deep underground, and it’s not impossible for it to be some sort of worm-like creature.”

 

I thought about a large Lava-worm hatching out of the egg, and I shuddered. Noooooo thank you. I’d probably raise it well, get it to adulthood, then let it be free. Companions and bonding was a voluntary choice, after all. I doubt I could even get the skill to trigger if I was baseline, fundamentally revolted by the form of the creature.

 

“Ok, what do I do once the baby hatches?” I was starting to get a little freaked out. This was a lot of prep work, and a lot of responsibility. I’d been dreaming of having a companion, but heck, I hadn’t even looked after a pet! This was going to be like a pet on steroids, dozens of times as complicated. In my mind, the egg would hatch, I’d feed it some of my dinner, and we’d live happily ever after. Reality was asserting itself, and it wasn’t painting a pretty picture.

 

Still, I’d committed to this, and I wasn’t going to back down now, no matter how much I was screaming internally.

 

“Feed it slowly. Remember, it’s a baby. Being a baby is hard. It doesn’t know how to eat. It doesn’t know how to drink. It won’t know how to walk, fly, or swim. It’s a baby. Its only way of talking is to scream, and it's your job to be patient and understanding.” Awarthril was scratching Kiyaya behind the ears as she lectured.

 

“It might try to bite too much, choke on a rock, jump off a cliff, climb into a fire, swim in a raging river, or pick a fight with something much bigger than it is, depending on what, exactly, it is.” Awarthril launched a stick with a weird ripple that immediately vanished, and Kiyaya got my hair swirling around me as she blasted off after the stick. Cordamo hissed his disapproval, then re-curled himself in Aegion’s horns, enjoying the sun.

 

“It’s your job to protect the baby, keep it safe. Normally, it’d have its parents around to help, but…”

 

I got a half-dirty look. I internally winced as I remembered they thought I’d snatched the egg from a nest, not liberated it from a dragon. There was quite a difference between separating the egg from its mother, and removing it from a mad - errr - perfectly normal and sane collector.

 

“I understand.” I said seriously.

 

“About cycles - oh hang on.” Cordamo had perked up, launching himself from Aegion’s head and gliding over to something in the ferns. Aegion started to briskly walk over there, talking away from me, his voice fading as he got further and further away.

 

“If possible, delay getting your third class as long as you can. The more stats you’ve got in your other classes, the more achievements you rack up while you’ve got the [Adult] class, the better your 3rd class is at the start, which has the potential to knock off a full cycle. We…”

 

At this point, he was too far away for me to hear anymore. Serondes rolled his eyes.

 

“Awarthril and Aegion held off as long as they could, but getting a third class is just too exciting.”

 

With that sort of bait tantalizing placed in front of me, I couldn’t help but ask Serondes as Kiyaya finished playing fetch, returning the stick to Awarthril.

 

“What about you?”

 

I perfectly timed, and optimized, getting my 3rd class.” He said smugly, clearly pleased with himself.

 

Awarthril threw a stick right at Serondes’s head, but slowly enough that he could duck, looking gleeful that he’d dodged.

 

Right until Kiyaya bowled him over in her attempt to follow the shortest path to the stick.

 

You’d think Serondes would learn by now. There was no dodging Awarthril’s love taps.

 

“This is exactly what I needed to make the perfect, most sublime beer ever!” Aegion crowed, holding an uprooted plant that was ugly as sin.

 

No way was I going to drink anything that came from that.

 

Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the antics of the elves as we kept walking along.

 

“Elaine! Elaine! You’ve gotta try this mudweed with Longfern!” Aegion hustled over to me, pressing the questionable-looking plant along with one of the many ferns we were walking through into my hands.

 

I gave him a doubtful look, as he nodded vigorously at me. Reluctantly, being a good sport, I put them both in my mouth, and started to chew.

 

The fern tasted like miserable, stringy lettuce while the mudweed tasted as good as it sounded. However, where the two were mixing in my mouth, something magical was happening. The flavors were merging and evolving into something entirely new, something tasty and delicious.

 

I chewed furiously, giving Aegion a double thumbs up, who looked pleased as punch with himself.

 


“What’s the deal with Void mages?” I asked.

 

We were breaking for lunch, and while the elves were nice, and everything they were telling me was useful, important information, I was so sick of hearing them talk, and following three conversations at once. [Pristine Memories] and [Passionate Learning] had both leveled in a single morning, and I could feel my brain cooking.

 

I was learned out. I didn’t have the endurance to keep going, not at non-stop high-speed triple lessons at once. If this is how elves were normally taught, well then.

 

“Well, it was tricky.” Aegion started to explain, yanking one barrel after another out of the Spatial Box. “Every 50 to 100 years or so, a city somewhere in the world would randomly explode, a gigantic fireball consuming the entire city and everything around it for miles. This was of great concern to us, so dozens of teams of our best and brightest went out to investigate. I don’t know how they did it, but they pinned down that the explosions were due to Void Mages. They then recruited 6,000 mortals, made them all get Void Mage classes, and…”

 

He mimed a huge explosion with his hands.

 

I shuddered at how callously Aegion talked about signing up thousands of mortals to their doom. Seeing my distress, Awarthril put a hand on my shoulder.

 

“They all knew what they were getting into.” She softly, kindly said. “Everyone was worried and concerned about the problem, and now that we’ve narrowed it down, it can be prevented. Every time a Void mage exploded, tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people died.”

 

I didn’t want to think about it anymore. I had some doubts that many people voluntarily signed up for the experiment, and there were serious ethical questions around it. Did they have them all grouped up, which meant they all died when the time came? Did they hunt down the surviving Void mages if they were scattered around, to prevent more damage? Looking at this too closely would become problematic, for no good reason. Time to change the subject - radically.

 

I generally kept the world traveling stuff quiet, because there was no reason to talk about it. Like, it was mostly a “Look at me I’m so special” thing, but it wasn’t something I’d earned. It’d just happened to me. I’d rather be treated for what I’d done, and my skills and abilities, than judged on some grand random cosmic error. There were some parallels here between that, and how people in Remus treated women terribly just because of what they were, but I couldn’t quite work it out.

 

Not that it mattered.

 

However, listening to the elves natter non-stop? I was ready to do almost anything not-rude to stop listening to them. I was vaguely aware that while there was no mind magic in Pallos, and they didn’t seem to be using a skill like [Charm] or anything, I was rapidly becoming comfortable around them. A combination of their easy manner, their acceptance, me being absolutely starved for any sort of positive interaction, and, quite probably, the fact that they were elves and had crazy natural charisma put them in the “fast friends” category. It felt like I’d known them for years, not two days.

 

I was perhaps too comfortable, too relaxed, but I wasn’t quite able to let it go. The paranoid, screaming part of me that had been in control the entire time I was in the mines, that said to trust nobody and run back to Remus as fast as I could, I locked away in a box and threw away the key. I wasn’t going to wander through life like that. I’d get burned again in the future, but it was a better way to live.

 

We’d stopped for lunch, and had been making all sorts of small talk, while Aegion tended to his barrels. A brief lull in the conversation, and I saw my moment.

 

“Did you know there are other realms?” I casually asked, figuring I’d at least test the water a bit.

 

“Oh yeah. Lirillen rips the veil, and grabs some random creature every hundred years or so.” Awarthril casually bit down into her sandwich, barely even registering the question.

 

My mind did a mental record scratch. Who!? Did what!?

 

I’d long ago accepted my new home, my new family, my new parents. I was content, barely giving a thought to my old life. I suspect Papillion’s swiss-cheesing had more than a little to do with it, but being raised in a kind, loving household was better than years of therapy for the issue.

 

However, hearing that someone had what sounded a bit like a [World Traveler] class? Rather, a [Dimensional Gater]? I was interested. Could I pop by Earth? Could I let my old parents know I was ok? Could I talk to my old friends and family?

 

Would I still have System access?

 

Would I be able to get back?

 

I doubted I could re-integrate back into Earth’s society. Too much of me was here. Heck, even my internal reflection in my soul - how Librarian dressed - was from Pallos. I didn’t even think in English anymore. I -

 

“Troodon got your tongue?” Serondes teased, interrupting my runaway train of thought. I noticed my mouth had been hanging open, and I snapped it shut.

 

I shook all that out of my head. They mentioned someone who brought things over, not made gates. And once every hundred years? Too risky. No, I’d leave it be for now. I did want to talk with her at some point… but I was Immortal, and so was she. Probably. If she was an elf. Which it sounded like.

 

“Yes, sorry.” I said, finally making it back. With how casually they were treating Lirillen, I felt like I could come clean without too much grief. “I kinda got smacked through worlds.”

 

Their reaction was lackluster.

 

“Ahhhh, that explains the hole in your story!” Aegion said, bringing over a new set of mugs, filled with his newest questionable brew. An opportunity for revenge was starting to present itself.

 

“Hole?” I asked, accepting the mug.

 

“Yeah, I noticed that as well. Elaine, healers are offered better skills depending on their knowledge. It makes healing an interesting, but somewhat awkward path to follow, since the proper way to become a healer is to spend years at level 8 or level 32, studying as much knowledge as possible. It lets them get the proper powerful skills to be a healer. Most don’t have the patience for it, at least not while they’re young. Quite a few elves do eventually go down that route one cycle or another, but many find healing boring or tedious, and don’t stick with it. However, you never talked about any education, or stalling, and even mentioned that you were denied education.” Serondes also accepted a mug. He was going to be collateral damage in my revenge plan, but my vengeance would be enacted regardless.

 

I took a sip, and forced myself to swallow the vile brew, mechanically widening my eyes. That was surprise, right? This acting thing was hard.

 

“This is good!” I tried to infuse my voice with as much cheer as I could, not quite knowing how successful I was being.

 

However, like the poor innocent lamb to the slaughter, Serondes - and Awarthril - raised their mugs up. Like a convicted criminal being led to the gallows, Aegion did the same.

 

Three nearly identical sprays of Aegion’s “beer” followed a moment later, and I fell over cackling.

 

“Ooooh, I’m going to get you for this!” Awarthril started to walk menacingly towards me.

 

“Why me! Aegion’s the one with the shit beer!” I complained. “I just made sure he got a taste of his own stuff!”

 

She paused, then turned on Aegion.

 

“You know, she’s got a point. Get over here!” She called out diving at him again. Cordamo bailed out of his horns, and the brawl was on again - this time with the tether removed.

 

“So. I’d like to know, how’d you end up here?” Serondes asked, finding a seat next to me. I shuffled just a tiny hair closer, my heart rate skyrocketing at my move.

What if he didn’t like that? What if he disliked me? What if-

 

BAD CRUSH GO AWAY.

 

“I have no idea.” I told him. “According to Papillion, I was found floating in the void. My soul had somehow gotten lost, and he offered me a choice. Reincarnation in Pallos, losing a chunk of my memories, or thrown back into Samsara. I didn’t want to die, and being reincarnated with some of my memories seemed like a better deal than dying ‘for real.’ The rest was a natural extension of that.”

 

“Where’d you come from?”

 

“A place called Earth.”

 

“What can you tell me about it?”

 

Aegion and Awarthril had paused mid-brawl, Awarthril on top of Aegion, hand raised to punch, while he was pulling her hair. Both had stopped in the pose to better listen to me.

 

“Well, quite a lot. We prized knowledge and information there, and a lot of it was kept as I got moved over. Some was removed, but, well…”

 

I started talking about Earth.

 

And talking.

 

And talking.

 

And talking.

 

And talking.

 

And eating dinner.

 

And talking.

 

And…

 

“I think we should stop here for the night.” Awarthril got up and stretched, and with a start I realized that the sun was already low on the horizon, and piece by piece, a full campsite had been established where we’d broken for lunch.

 

“Not the best traveling day.” Serondes observed.

 

“Seemed pretty good to me!” Aegion cheerfully was drinking something, which I suspected was the “good beer”, and not his experiments. Somehow, he seemed to get all the joys of drinking just from sipping his beer, and none of the downsides. I couldn’t tell if it was related to his class, if he had skills along those lines, or if it was just more elvish nonsense.

 

I saw my chance.

 

“Why don’t we split the day in half? You all have so many wonderful things to tell me, and I have so many stories I’d like to sing. Morning you teach me, afternoon I give you all some more stories. What do you say?”

 

I kept quiet that the mornings were slow and lazy, and the afternoons considerably longer, and that I was getting the better end of the deal.

 

Or rather…

 

We were all winning. The elves got more Earth Tales time, and I got as much valuable education as I could stand.

 

“Yeah, that sounds good.” Awarthril had leaned back, and was starting to study the stars as they came out.

 

“I think we should swap days.” Aegion proposed. “One day each. It makes a fair rotation.”

 

“Listening to you talk for an entire day?” Serondes made a horrified face. “I’d rather jump in the ocean and let a kraken eat me.”

 

“What! I’m not that bad. Elaine, tell Serondes I’m not that bad.” Aegion protested.

 

“Lovely stars.” I scooted over to Awarthril, sipping on a mug of something amazing. It was like hot chocolate with whipped cream on steroids.

 

“Aren’t they?” Awarthril’s amusement at me completely ignoring Aegion was made clear.

 

Serondes sidled up next to me.

 

“You see those seven stars there? They make the Crystal Crown.” He pointed to the stars, roughly tracing his hand in the constellation.

 

“Oh? Humans call those three that are part of it, and the other eight there The Spear.” I traced one back.

 

We spent some time showing each other constellations, while Aegion and Awarthril started to play some sort of game. I was tempted to call it cards, but it was so much more involved than that, requiring levels of superhuman - heck, even superelven - skill that I couldn’t even follow, let alone hope to match enough to participate in.

 

Finally, I worked up my courage somewhat, and my decision. I was horribly inexperienced with the whole dating thing, and that wouldn’t change if I never put myself out there. Why not give it something of a try? Why not try pursuing Serondes, and just… seeing where it went? If it was a bust, it was a bust. If it went well, great!

 

“Hey Serondes?” I asked, heart racing a million miles an hour as I shifted my egg around, and leaned my head on his shoulder.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Can you show me magic? My class grows and evolves by seeing skills and understanding them, and my skills rapidly improve. You’re not a Radiance mage, but I figure I can try to learn something. Would you show me your magic?”

 

He glanced at me, and I shamelessly batted my eyes at him. He just chuckled.

 

“Sure. First, tell me about your skills.” His voice was oh-so-musical.

 

I listed my [Butterfly Mystic] skills off, watching his face frown.

 

“Mmmmm. I see why you need to improve your skills. Additionally, your [Lantern] skill is far below mediocre. Radiance naturally kills illusions in the first place. I can’t imagine a situation where you’d need it, versus simply blasting through the illusion with conjuration. Why, I believe you’d be able to blast Awarthril’s illusions apart with little effort!”

 

I kept my silence about Lun’Kat, and her incredible illusionary prowess, and thought about what he was saying.

 

He had a point. Apart from Lun’Kat’s illusions, I was able to pierce most normally. The illusion “sense” was nice, but it wasn’t worth an entire skill slot. Plus, if I was fighting something that much more powerful than I was, I was dead anyways. Might as well get a more useful skill.

 

“What do you suggest I try to get to replace it?” I asked.

 

“Oh, I know of hundreds, thousands of better skills.” He said. “I know your class should have an easy time merging skills though, so you should ditch [Lantern], then slowly grab new skills, then focus on merging them into your current skills, improving them and freeing the skill slot up again. Then repeat, finding more skills and merging them, until you find the absolute perfect skill to fill the slot.”

 

“That’s brilliant.” I meant every word I said. I should’ve thought of it myself, but I hadn’t. Cycling through skills, then merging them in? Perfect. When that was mentioned, being willing to drop [Lantern] was an even better idea.

 

“What’s an idea you have?” I asked.

 

“Well, you’ve got [Sun’s Heart], which is a solid heat and damage boost. However, you can probably get it to ‘aspect’ further, giving all of your skills additional minor abilities. Let’s see… Radiance is off of Fire, which has destruction as a concept. It should be possible to improve [Sun’s Heart] to simply make all your skills more destructive on top of everything else.”

 

I spent hours listening to his musical voice, learning, improving, and throwing looks at Serondes - some of which I imagined were reciprocated.

 

It was a good night.

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Selkie

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