I sat amongst the corpses of the Centinels, sifting through the notifications in my head, and feasting on the meat of the dead monsters.
“Blegh, this doesn’t taste that good. Or wait...”
Shrugging, I tried another chunk of meat, before deciding it wasn’t exactly bad.
“Tastes better than steak, at least.”
Requirements for three Class advancements have been met!
“Three Classes, huh? That’s not as many as I thought there’d be. But maybe that’s because I’m getting my advancement early. Oh well, let’s see what they are!”
A [Dimensional Mage] is a [Mage] specialized in manipulating space and reality itself to their own will. Unlike their [Space Mage] counterparts, [Dimensional Mages] focuses on making slight alterations to what is already there rather than rapidly weaving the fabric of space to achieve their goals.
“A [Dimensional Mage]? Interesting.”
I scratched my chin and smacked my lips as I finished my meal.
“But why didn’t I get a [Space Mage] option? That’s what Lily has, right?”
It might’ve been because I mostly used my spells for offensive purposes. Sure, I did train with Lily to learn other ways to use my magic. Especially creatively. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t just teleport a Centinel away when it attacked me. It would keep coming unless I killed it.
“What’s next? It better be good! I advanced at Level 36, you know? I’m amazing, so it must be amazing too!!”
And it was.
A [Fairy Maiden] is a [Mage] who has earned the trust and blessings of Fairykind. Under the tutelage of a Fairy, a [Fairy Maiden] has learned many things. Yet, she still knows not the true secrets of the Fairy Queen or her goals. Perhaps, in time…
Something about this Class captivated me. Perhaps it was because it piqued my curiosity. I wondered what it meant. Secrets? Lily told me that the Fairy Queen was wise. She told me that there were a lot of things I didn’t know.
I couldn’t lie and say I wasn’t the least bit interested.
But beyond just that, I found the boost in Stats to be alluring as well. While Stats mattered less now that I was Level 100— it played a bigger role in lower levels, considering how much a single Stat Point would be worth if I only had 30 total Stats, whereas now with almost a thousand, it was worth a lot less— they often served as a good indicator of the quality of Skills I’d get when I evolved.
Surely it would be similar for a Class advancement, right?
“And I’d be a Fairy Maiden! Lily would think I’m so cool—”
I paused. I tilted my head up slightly, remembering the warnings Lily gave me. She didn’t condone pursuing the path of those who worshipped Fairies to the point of obsession. I didn’t think that having a Class would mess with one’s mind. So, these people had to have just been insane on their own.
But did I really want to follow the same steps as those who Lily hated?
“We’ll see what the last Class is, then decide.”
It proved to be a difficult decision to make.
[Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus]
A [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus] is a [Mage] of renown. The world is their playground. Its inhabitants are their friends, although some are their enemies. For those they abhor, they will show no mercy. But for those they love, they will show kindness everlasting. They are free. Not constrained to merely a single location in the vast world. They know there is more to existence than what is before them. Their magic lets them seek out things beyond their periphery, no matter what.
“That… that sounds so cool!”
I hopped to my feet, pacing around the blood smeared floor.
“All three of these options are so good! Is this what it means to reach an advancement early on? I love all these Classes!”
But I could only choose one. They all seemed perfect for what I wanted, even if they’d achieve it in different ways; they each would bring me a step closer to mastering the magic I needed to know to return to the Netherworld.
It was tailored for me. But that was because I had worked towards it, right? Both [Fairy Maiden] and [Dimensional Mage] seemed like they were Classes I had met the conditions for from training with Lily. The only one that could’ve been more recent was [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus]. And even that could’ve been achieved long ago.
So, there was no secret. I had done everything right; I had listened to those who were more knowledgeable than me, and it all paid off. I just had to reach the right level for it to happen.
“I didn’t need to find Gukzar then, didn’t I?”
This fetch quest proved to be nothing more than just motivation for me to reach the level I needed. Which was good! At least I hadn’t wasted time doing something I didn’t need to do. I had to thank Vis’anya for convincing me to help her. Although, that was also partially because of Lily, I guess.
Lily was adamant that things mattered even if they didn’t affect you. I wasn’t sure what that meant. But I was trying to understand it, at least. Maybe if I continued to be kind to strangers, I’d be rewarded like this again?
That was possible. But it also seemed stupid at the same time.
Regardless, I liked all these Classes. And as I told that [Older Centinel], I had plenty of time. I gave myself a time constraint. A week to return to Mavos Academy. And I was done in half that time.
I wasn’t just going to choose a Class now, especially with how exceptional each seemed to be. I’d think about it. For now, I’d go back.
Vis’anya and the other Elves were sleeping when I returned from the Lair of the Centinels. One of them was up, keeping watch with bleary eyes, but he didn’t notice me moving in the darkness. I gave him a little spook by sneaking up behind him. His high-pitched scream woke up everyone and drew them to action.
“It’s fine, it’s fine! It’s just me, see?”
I laughed as a few of the short Elves collapsed to their knees, tightly grasping at their hearts. Vis’anya and Nes’te’rn approached me with worried looks on their faces.
The Elf man spoke in an oddly low voice. I nodded, grinning.
“I took care of all the Centinels!”
Vis’anya’s eyes widened. She leapt into the air and cheered.
“She did it!”
All the other Elves dropped to their knees, forming a circle around me. She was the last to follow. Prostrating, she spoke softly.
“It is thanks to you, Salvos, Demon of the Netherworld, that we shall be able to complete our journey. I assure you, Dominion As’triel herself will hear about this. Your named would be lauded throughout our domain!”
I beamed, accepting the praise.
“Of course, of course. I know that I’m great!”
The Elves around me sang praises as I was at the very center of their attention. I felt cathartic, as I always did, whenever others revered me. I was so caught up in this moment that I didn’t even hear the joyful conversation between Vis’anya and Nes’te’rn off to the side.
“Praise the north winds, she did it! Thanks to her, the armies will be armed and ready as planned!”
“Yes… it is truly a wonder that she showed up when she did.”
Nes’te’rn sighed as I smiled, still not hearing this conversation as a few of the younger-looking Elves approached me with questions and starstruck eyes.
A relieved look crossed his face as I once again considered becoming a [Hero]. After all—
“Now, our invasion of the Human lands will not be delayed. War shall come, and we shall be victorious.”
It felt good doing the right thing.
I stayed with the Elves until they finished repairing their ship, just in case they had any more trouble with stray Centinels. None showed up, and they departed the next day.
There was plenty of time before I needed to return to Mavos Academy. I wasn’t in any rush.
But once I was certain the Elves were safe, I bade farewell to Nes’te’rn and Vis’anya and took off. The latter girl seemed rather distressed to see me go, but that was probably because she was young and immature. I, who was old and wise in the ways of the world, understood that things were never constant.
Not even rocks.
So, I left them, shedding no tears, simply delighted that I could make new friends and reach my advancement. I soared back towards the Human lands, keeping note of the sun on the horizon. I knew I was headed in the right direction— or at least, I thought I was.
I could only confirm it for sure when I saw the archipelago with the cratered island in the center. It was only then I knew for certain I wasn’t lost. I spotted figures on the gray beach of the main island, with a canoe-like boat anchored just off shore.
I recognized the Humans standing there. It was the [Fisher] who told me about Gukzar. He was accompanied by the same bulky man as before, as well as other adventurers I have never met before. And they all looked upset at the [Fisher].
“You promised us treasure—”
“No one could have predicted that the volcano would erupt—”
“Oh, right, I’m supposed to pretend to be Human.”
I didn’t hear what they were saying; it was only fortunate that they were too mad to notice me, a Demon, flying above the clouds. I’d have loved to give them a little scare, but that’d probably be problematic for later on. I transformed back and continued back to Wimborne.
Once I spotted the port city, I swerved out into a swamp instead. I didn’t want to deal with anyone scolding me for flying without a permit. I could get a permit when I was finally enrolled into Mavos Academy.
Right now, I just had to resolve another requirement needed to enroll into the school. And to do that, I had to speak with Saffron.
Saffron Merryster was… awake.
It was long past midnight. It was past curfew for the students of Mavos Academy. But she hadn’t been in her room. She had been outside, attending a secret meeting with the cabal of other Vampires who attended the academy.
Well, she thought of them as a cabal. But truthfully, there were only two other members alongside Saffron. One of them was the young Valda, who refused to show up. That left only Saffron and the last Vampire.
A former adventurer by the name of Adney. He was gruff and crass, and Saffron would rather not have shared a room with him if he wasn’t a Vampire. But he was the only one who saw the same threat of Demons as her.
So, it was together they dined and drank in blood, leveling their Racial Skill of [Vampiric Essence].
It was almost disconcerted, drinking blood. Vampires couldn’t get drunk off alcohol. But if they drank even a glass of blood, one would grow tipsy. And that was Human blood. What Matthew had given her was Demon blood.
A single sip was enough for her to grow incredibly drunk. That was why she couldn’t consume it all at once. And that was why she decided to share it with other Vampires who could make use of it.
Unfortunately, she must’ve had one too many sips today, because she found herself stumbling back to her room, not maintaining even a shred of the stealth needed to not get caught.
“Regnorex… is at the gates…”
She slurred her words as she pushed her room door open. Somehow, no lecturer or teacher was out on watch. Which was good, because if she was caught, she’d be in a lot of trouble.
“My head… is a banging drum…”
Saffron would’ve shut the door and collapsed into the nearby couch in an instant if there wasn’t a figure already sitting there. She rubbed at her eyes, then blinked.
The silver-haired girl jumped up in excitement and ran over to the noble Vampire.
“Where were you? They said you’re supposed to be here!”
“Wh— what? Who did?”
Saffron Merryster rubbed at her eyes, hoping that she was hallucinating. She was not. Salvos waved a hand dismissively.
“That old guy with the glasses. He was upset that you weren’t here. He went out to search for you, saying that he’d bring you back! I wonder where he went?”
The noble Vampire paused. Her eyes crossed together as she slowly registered what was being said.
Salvos interrupted her, pulling out sheets of parchment and a pen.
“I’ve got to finish this personal statement thing to enroll, and I need your help writing my words down.”
There were a lot of things racing through Saffron’s mind. She managed to get words out, although she wasn’t sure if that was the question she wanted to ask.
“You can’t write?
“I can write! Daniel taught me!”
The silver-haired girl spoke indignantly. But she hesitated a moment after, scratching her right cheek.
“But, um, not that well. See?”
She held up one of the pieces of paper. Her name had been written on it. Calligraphed across the page in the ugliest and biggest letters Saffron had ever seen.
“Look, it’s just ten pages. I’ll just dictate for an hour or so and you’ll write it down. It’s not too much for you, right?”
This was too much. Saffron wanted to faint. In fact, she passed out right there.
“Hello? Saffron? Are you alr—”