A note from Selkie

We're back! Enjoy!


Also, I've been slacking on the artwork. Big art dump incoming!

We made it back to the campsite as the sun was falling. I didn’t need to be carried back, but I was more than a little wobbly after Serondes’s tender ministrations. Aegion had been busy in our absence. Barrels were on their side, stacked neatly between two trees, each one with a tap. A number of the extra-large wooden mugs Aegion had been carving were neatly stacked in a pyramid beside them, for easy access.


More tables were out, and Aegion was somewhat antsy.


“Serondes! You’re back! Quick, crack open the Lava.” Aegion was already prodding at one of the firepits, sealed off with Lava to preserve moisture and better slow-cook the food inside.


With a flicker of thought, the hardened Lava cracked open, and Aegion darted an extra-large fork in. He made a stabbing motion, then brought out one tiny whisp of meat.


“Right. This is… really well done.” He eyed the meat, so tender it was all falling apart. “Why don’t we just raise it, and make the tables here?”


Serondes muttered something about his talents, but made it happen anyways. It made for an odd effect, the formerly somewhat well-laid out campsite now having a maze of altars with offerings of overcooked flesh.


“Food! Drink! Entertainment! We are ready to PAAAAAARRRRRRTTTTTYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!” Aegion crowed, getting into the swing of things as the sun cast longer and longer shadows.


“Woo! Woo! Wooo!” He chanted a few times, grabbing a mug and pouring off some of his beer. His energy and enthusiasm was infectious, and I could feel myself grinning.


Aegion filled up more mugs as the sun finished setting on the most balanced day of the year. He passed them out, and the trolls started to appear.


It was obvious this was something of a Big Deal for them. The trolls that had bone masks had fresh layers of paint on them, and paint crossed their bodies in primitive, tribal streak. I saw the same patterns repeated often enough to know there was some meaning to the paint, but not what it was.


They were also wearing their best furs. Even all the maskless trolls were wearing something.


They went to work with vigor, grabbing and ripping up numerous trees, then snapping them into thirds before piling them up. A number of other trolls vanished into the woods, moving at high speed with a hunched over pose. I’d eat my hat if they hadn’t gone out hunting.


Crude drums, leather pulled over hollowed out tree trunks, were pulled out and distributed.


One of the larger trolls went up to the pyre, and started to ritualistically dance around it. The other trolls formed a circle, beating on the drums in a slow beat, getting quicker. The largest troll was watching in what passed for fancy clothing - it looked like it had religious significance - surrounded by a few other priestly-looking trolls. While his displayed class was [Warrior], I could totally believe he had a [Priest] class in one of his other class slots. Low thrumming chants started, causing my heart to race without any skills being involved.


“They’re praising the god and goddess of Night and Darkness.” Awarthril translated for us, as we stared transfixed at the scene. “They’re praising them for beating back Light and Sun, and encouraging them in their, ah, ‘eternal-forever never-ending fight-war-battle.’ That one’s a bit hard to translate.”


Interesting. Given their minor issues with sunlight, it made sense that their religion would center around the sun, or lack thereof.


As the beat reached a crescendo, the pyre-troll threw his hands up. With a roar of flames, with a roar from the spectators, the entire pyre went up in flames.


“For whatever reason, the fire’s supposed to empower the gods.” Awarthril commented, with an amused twist to her voice.


“Yeah, but the sheer ritual, power, emotions, mana, and if they’re up for it, offerings, will.” Aegion pointed out.


Huh. Never realized. I just wasn’t all that interested in religion. I’d mentally made a note a few times to look into it more, but I was a little busy. Still, I re-added a note to not laugh at religion or the gods, because they were very real, and relatively active while being powerful enough to crush me like a bug.


That was the start of the festivities, as the hunting trolls came back one by one, simply skewering their prey whole near the bonfire and letting it roast like that.


One of the maskless trolls came back with some medium-sized dinosaur, the lizard abruptly ending halfway through, having been ripped in half. He hoisted it up above his head, and walked around the bonfire a few times. One by one, the other trolls noticed what he was doing, and started to give hooting approvals. The ones with drums started to do a drumroll, quickly picked up by the others.


“Oh interesting.” Awarthril commented as we watched the troll throw the body into the fire, the entire thing vanishing into the roaring flames.


“That sure looked like an offering to me.” I drly commented.


The flames spat, and a bone-white mask, the skull of the offered animal, came spinning back out. It tried to brain the troll that had thrown the offering in, but he deftly caught it, putting it on his face. Shouts and hollers of approval came from the rest of the trolls, half of the seemingly descending upon him. They hit his back with literal bone-breaking slaps of approval.


“Well, that troll’s now an adult.” Awarthril translated. “First successful solo kill against a creature large enough to provide a mask, during…” She seemed to briefly struggle, then shrugged. “During a ceremony, I guess. Troll is hard.


A few animals were ritualistically thrown into the fire by the troll-priest, a few words were spoken, then the party expanded. It wasn’t just around the fire, now trolls were socializing, eating, dancing, grabbing a partner and vanishing into the woods.


“Sounds like the troll celebration is in parts.” Awarthril finally parsed some of the words the priest said. “They celebrate each of the eight elements. This portion was celebrating Light, Dark, Wood, and Fire. It’ll end with a celebration of Water, Earth, Wind, and Metal.”


some of the trolls were heading our way, sniffing at the enticing bounty we’d laid out.


“Let’s goooooo!” Aegion walked up to some of the trolls, and with just a few mimes, and a mug of his brew shoved into hands, he had two new best friends.


All without saying a word.


“I gotta check something real fast.” I said, bringing the beer up to my nose.


It smelled… acceptable, and I gave it a try.


It was good! No wonder Cordamo had been trying to lick us all clean on the way to the lake.




At my pronouncement, and more importantly, the fact that I went back for more, Serondes and Awarthril gave it a shot themselves.

Awarthril threw her emptied mug at Aegion, expertly hitting his head between the table of trolls that were sitting and drinking with him. It naturally bounced off his horns, but the message was…


Well, not really clear.


“Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiabargle! WHY CAN YOU SUDDENLY MAKE TASTY DRINKS!?” Awarthril yelled at Aegion. “We could’ve been drinking this the entire time, instead of your usual swill! Whyyyyyyyyyyy!”


Awarthril was practically crying, but that didn’t stop her from storming off to get another mug.


Serondes and I followed, then we raided the slow-cooked food. I grabbed some tender, honey-glazed dinosaur, while Serondes was favoring the apple juice pork.






Still, disliking pork was a personal preference of mine, and I wasn’t about to go around demanding nobody else eat it.


We tried to mingle a bit, and while Serondes fit right in. Not as naturally or effortlessly as the resident party animal, but Aegion was in his element.


I was not.


I was sticking with Serondes, and a fish out of water would’ve had a better time than I was having.


Ok, fine, maybe that was an exaggeration. Tasty food, and people I couldn’t talk with made it somewhat palatable.


Still, I felt my mind wandering away from the party, back to the last place I’d had a good party.




I was missing my friends, my family. I was missing the Rangers and Sentinels. Autumn. My parents.


Surely whatever nonsense was going on with that mess of a looming civil war had to be over by now? Hopefully between my letters, Night and the rest, and the fact that they were in frankly not terribly important positions meant that they’d be safe.


I couldn’t do anything from where I was, and I had to admit, with the benefit of hindsight and space, that my presence would probably increase the risk they were under. Night was right, I’d be pulled into the war one way or another - just on the basis of healing and fixing people - and that’d put a target on me. Put me on stage at the theater, in front of everyone. Get people looking at me, and at my friends and family, seeing if there was a way to influence me through them.


Then there was the issue of actually getting home. I could try to take flight, and get home. I had a rough idea of the direction.


I also had a rough idea of the scale of the distance I was working with. The dwarves had believed that Lun’Kat was nesting somewhere in their mountains, and I’d exited from her lair. But the mountains I’d seen from both sides had seemed endless, and even with [Pristine Memories] I didn’t recognize any of the mountains. Heck, the trees were even completely different on this side of the mountain range! It gave me a new appreciation for just how big the area was.


I had close to no supplies or tools. I’d managed to make it work so far, but I didn’t know what terrain I’d face, what dangers were present. Was there a large sea in the way? Mountains? Forests with monsters over level 3000, a forbidden zone of the sky filled with flying castles and giants? Was there some lich king in a castle, ruling over a vast swath of land that I shouldn’t touch? Was there some magical cloud of rain that’d stick to me, trap and ground me?


Heck, forgetting all that. How many high-level goats would take offense to my presence? The dwarves had talked about vermillion birds, and how powerful they were. The dwarves, with a much higher average level than humans.


I knew nothing about the world outside of Remus. Inside of Remus I’d be fine. I knew what was what, I knew the dangers and threats. I’d be fine.


The deadzone was going to be incredibly unpleasant though. I wasn’t looking forward to the sick feeling from it, nor was I looking forward to my leveling rate getting cut. Ugh. Blech. I’d rather drink Aegion’s bad beer by the kegful first.


Also, I did have vague plans of leaving the dead zone again, and working with the elves to get some serious levels.




Outside of Remus?


Well, I was willing to give it a strong shot myself. I’d been relatively happy traveling solo, but mostly because I’d had no other options. I wasn’t about to build a home on Lun’Kat’s doorstep and go “well, I guess I’ll wait here a few hundred to thousand years until humans find me again.”


I had a team again. People that could protect me, that built shelters at night, who had supplies. Who, if it wasn’t for their sheer damn arrogance, could watch for threats at night. Who could fly up high and scout, who could smell problems on the changing breeze.


They were slow. They weren’t quite going to the same place. They took silly breaks, like this party with the trolls.


They were, on the balance of things, dozens of times better than traveling alone. I’d rather take the slower, steadier route home, than try to sprint home by myself and die. There was no seeing my friends and family in that case.


It was like my class selection all over again. I had the fast and risky option, versus the slower and safer option. On the balance, weighing the pros and the cons, the slower and safer option was better.


It wasn’t like my home was literally on fire, and my family needed rescuing right now. I hadn’t gotten an emergency letter saying I needed to be in a place this second.


Heck, part of my plan for once I got back to Remus was to hijack a Ranger squad and have them help me get back home. It was a horrible abuse of my Sentinel status, but I was allowed to, and I don’t think anyone would begrudge me getting some extra over-the-top help after I’d been on a single mission for over a year.


The worst that would happen is Night would yell at me for that. If he started, I’d just distract him with my adventures with Lun’Kat, and that’d just overshadow anything else I’d done.


Sentinel Dawn! Confessing all her sins at once, so the greatest one overshadows the rest of them!


I finished eating, and was eyeing up what new and interesting dinosaur I’d eat next, when Serondes interrupted my plans.


“My lady, would you like to dance?”


He had his best “romantic” tone, and given the innately magical quality of his everyday voice, I was entranced.


I also had no idea how elves danced, but eh. We’d figure it out on the fly.


“Of course!” I said, letting Serondes gallantly sweep me into his arms, then sweep me into the sky.


I snapped my wings open, not expecting my thought about “figuring it out on the fly” to be quite so literal.


As we held each other, moving through the air, pillars of glass formed around us, connecting to each other in elegant arches. A wave of Sand, then of Lava materialized below us, making a ballroom-like dance floor of glass. Serondes whistled softly, etching detailed patterns into all of our dance area. Small torches of Lava appeared in exacting ways around the edges. I contributed to the effect with a soft glow of Radiance, which bounced around crazily as it was refracted and deflected by all the glass.


[*ding!* Scintillating Ascent has leveled up! 313 -> 314]


I leaned in, and we danced under the stars, between the trees, inside the magical glass arena. I don’t know how long we danced, but Cordamo flew through at one point, and glancing down I could see the party kept going in full force, the trolls occasionally looking up and pointing at our display.


Being the entertainment was kinda fun! Extra-so that I could show off my super-cool wings, and give just a glimpse of day and sunlight to the poor trolls, doomed to live in the dark for eternity.


All good things must come to an end, and a few long horn blasts from the big troll indicated the start of the ending phase. The trolls gathered, and guttural grunts came from the big priest-troll to all the assembled trolls. Awarthril, with agile steps, jumped from branch to branch and nimbly landed inside the arena, where Serondes and I had stopped dancing.


“They’re doing the second part now, the last part.” Awarthril translated. “Going to the holy-big-water, and venerating-praising-blessing the last four elements.” She explained, as the trolls started to file off in a familiar direction.


My face paled.


“Hang on.” I said. “The holy water?”


“Well, it could be translated as sacred, or revered.” Awarthril hedged. “Nuances between different languages.”


“Nevermind that.” I waved her concerns away. “They’re going towards the lake.”


“Yeah, and?” Serondes said, not seeing it.


“The holy lake that we just threw a ton of Lava and glass all over?” I confirmed. I hadn’t seen Serondes remove any of the improvements he’d made.


“Probably, why?” He asked again.


Awarthril twigged to what I was saying, as the last troll left in the procession.


“Praaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaghflpbflpbflpbflpbflpbflpbflpb. They are going to be so pissed.” She said, with barely a whisper. Then she sprang into action.


“Aegion! Get those barrels packed away! Kiyaya! Go…”


Awarthril started barking out orders, jumping down from our dance area and grabbing the Spatial Box. The rest of us moved, following her every command.


“Go, go go!” She encouraged us as she blurred, grabbing all the various items we were throwing at her and unceremoniously dumping them into the Box. [Rubbery Rope]s sprang out, connecting to each of us.


An enraged roar came from the directions the trolls had gone, followed by dozens of overlapping noises of rage.


“Annnnnnnnnnd we’re OUT!” Awarthril shouted, picking up the box and running. The [Rubbery Rope] went taut, then started pulling me - and everyone else! - along in her wake.


Serondes was muttering angrily.


“How could I have known they’d take offense? I improved it!”


[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 20]

[Mana: 412740/412740]

[Mana Regen: 275034 (+356756)]


[Free Stats: 91]

[Strength: 941]

[Dexterity: 1468]

[Vitality: 11166]

[Speed: 11166]

[Mana: 41274]

[Mana Regeneration: 41363 (+35676)]

[Magic Power: 18178 (+340838)]

[Magic Control: 18178 (+340838)]

[Class 1: [The Dawn Sentinel - Celestial: Lv 420]]

[Celestial Affinity: 420]

[Cosmic Presence: 286]

[The Stars Never Fade: 1]

[Center of the Universe: 420]

[Dance with the Heavens: 420]

[Wheel of Sun and Moon: 420]

[Mantle of the Stars: 420]

[Sunrise: 344]

[Class 2: [Butterfly Mystic - Radiance: Lv 345]]

[Radiance Affinity: 345]

[Radiance Resistance: 345]

[Radiance Conjuration: 345]

[Solar Flare: 26]

[Nectar: 345]

[Sun's Heart: 345]

[Scintillating Ascent: 314]

[Kaleidoscope: 345]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Long-Range Identify: 370]

[Pristine Memories: 218]

[Egg Incubation: 47]

[Bullet Time: 420]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 375]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 395]

[Persistent Casting: 291]

[Passionate Learning: 379]


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