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Noele felt a familiar warmth. The embrace of a kind figure. A young woman with golden locks. So brave and so strong. An adventurer who strove to be great. She was the reason why Noele became an adventurer in the first place.

Her sister.

“N-Nora…?” Noele groaned as she opened her eyes.

But the Noble Spellsword was met with a brown-haired woman instead. One who wore a torn and tattered cloak that was black on the outside and blue on the inside. She carried Noele, leaping through the night sky.

“Who’s Nora?” Amelia cocked her head, confused.

“Nora is…” Noele started, but her eyes fluttered shut. “—gone.”

And darkness took her once again.



The next time Noele woke up, she was lying bandaged in bed. It was morning. Her entire body ached. She tried to sit up, but recoiled in pain. Groaning, she collapsed back into the soft pillow.

“Where am I?” she wondered aloud.

Looking around, she recognized the room she was in. It was Amelia’s room at Brynn’s inn. There were a few uncorked vials standing at the bedside table, and a handful of open books lying at a wooden desk. It took Noele a few moments to process her surroundings. When she did, worked her jaw.

“I’m… alive?”

She thought that she’d surely succumb to her injuries to the titan centipede. Her self-inflicted wounds from burning herself were mostly gone, and the gaping hole in her stomach was covered by freshly-mended flesh. Closing her eyes, Noele tried to recall what happened after the fight.

“How did I survive?” she asked no one in particular.

And a voice answered, “Garron saved you.”

Blinking, Noele turned to face the door as it creaked open. Amelia stepped in, carrying a tray of food. She placed the tray down on the bed as the blonde girl forced herself to sit up.

“Don’t push yourself,” Amelia said as Noele winced in pain. The brown-haired woman pulled up a chair next to the bed. “I found you on the cusp of death, so I brought you over to Garron. He gave you a gallon of those… healing potions or whatever they’re called. He said if I brought you over to him any later, you’d need a high-leveled [Healer]’s attention or you wouldn’t have survived.”

“Wait, you used healing potions on me?” Noele stared with wide eyes.

Amelia shook her head. “Not me. Garron did.”

“Oh.”

“Why are you so surprised? Are they rare or expensive or something?”

Noele pursed her lips. “They’re not exactly rare, but they can be very expensive. I’ll have to find a way to pay Garron back for later.”

“Sure, if that’s what you want.” Leaning back, Amelia made herself comfortable in her chair. “Apparently a fresh set of clothes cost me 50 silver coins, so I won’t be able to help you with that.”

The blonde girl blinked. She looked at her master, and finally noticed the outfit. Amelia was no longer dressed in ragged clothing. Instead, she was wearing an odd white shirt with long black pants. Relatively plain, albeit a unique design, with a dark jacket worn beneath her cloak.

“You bought that?” Noele asked, staring.

“I commissioned it from a Level 30 [Tailor],” Amelia said simply. She waved a hand off. “Anyways, that doesn’t matter. I’m just glad to see you survived. I didn’t think you’d have that much trouble with a colossal centipede’s nest. What happened?”

“That’s—” The Noble Spellsword bit her lower lip. “I cleared out the nest, but there was a titan centipede there. It had to be around Level 55. I’m honestly not sure how I even managed to kill it. But…”

Noele paused. She looked down at the palm of her hands. And a cathartic feeling washed over her. Sighing, she turned to Amelia and smiled.

“But I did it, master.”

It was incredibly relieving. Noele had proven herself to Amelia— she had passed the test given to her. Her master smiled.

“Congrats,” Amelia said. “But please don’t call me master, that’s weird.”

Noele blinked. “S-sorry, master.”

“You just did it again. Just call me by my name.”

“I mean— sorry, Amelia!” she sputtered.

The brown-haired woman rolled her eyes. “It’s fine. I’m not upset about it or anything. I’d just rather our relationship not be too formal. I find it odd.”

“Right.” Noele nodded slowly. She raised a finger to scratch her cheek. “I got overly-excited. It’s my first time training under an S-ranked adventurer. I really didn’t want to screw this up.”

Amelia frowned. “But I’m not an S-ranked adventurer.”

There was a pause. Noele blinked a few times. Then her jaw hung open. She gaped at Amelia with round eyes. “What?”

“In fact, I don’t even have a Class.”

“What?!”

 

—-

 

I was under the impression that Noele knew I wasn’t an S-ranked adventurer. Actually— I thought she knew I wasn’t an adventurer at all. She was there when I killed the Goblin Lord. When Justyn accused me of being a so-called ‘wannabe-adventurer’.

“I thought you were here undercover!” Noele sputtered.

“Why would I be undercover?” I raised a brow at her.

“I… don’t know? Maybe it was for the same reason you didn’t want to be credited with killing the Goblin Lord?” She shook her head, then grimaced from the motion.

I shrugged. “I just didn’t want to be hounded by people like you. I’m not some secret S-ranked adventurer. I can’t even become an adventurer because I can’t get a Class.”

“What do you mean you can’t get a Class?” The blonde girl blinked at me. “I thought you didn’t have a combat Class, not that you were Class-less!”

“So you thought I killed the Goblin Lord… as a [Chef]?” I frowned at her.

Noele pursed her lips. She gestured vaguely at me. “It’s a bit unusual, but it’s not unheard of. I once met a Level 40 [Innkeeper] who worked as a C-ranked adventurer on the side.”

“Did she fight with frying pans and cooking pots or something?”

“Along with acid and knives, yes.” Noele nodded at me.

“I see.” I crossed my arms and leant back in my chair. “Well, I quite literally can’t get a Class. I’ve tried.”

I turned to face the tray of food I’d set down. It was a freshly cooked steak with baked potatoes on the side. A rather fancy dish considering the cut of meat. Its ingredients were costly, but most of the stalls in market street had been destroyed. The only shops that survived were ones that had guards and wards or enchantments set up to protect the building— more luxurious places.

I handed the plate over to Noele as I spoke. “I made this myself. Give it a try.”

She hesitated. “But you don’t have any levels in [Cook]...”

Still, she eventually acquiesced. The blonde girl gently cut into the tender steak with a knife and took a bite out of a slice. She blinked, then brightened.

“See?” I grinned at her.

“This is— it’s like it was prepared by a Level 20 [Chef]! How did you make this?” Noele spoke between each bite. She quickly scarfed down the meal as I watched.

It was rather flattering to see. I knew it was probably because she was famished, especially after a near-death experience, but I was glad that my culinary skills— even if rather basic— hadn’t diminished despite the amount of time I spent in the Fractured Realm. I shook my head as she finished.

“And yet, the System wouldn’t offer me a Class as a [Cook],” I said.

“That’s really odd.” Noele narrowed her eyes, wiping some crumbs from her lips. “I had a dozen options to choose from before I even picked my first Class. And I was only ten at the time.”

“Your first Class?” I asked. “You can choose more than a single Class?”

“You can’t. But you can reset your Class before your first Class advancement at Level 10 if you’re unhappy with it, of course.” She snorted, lying back down onto her bed. “I used to be a [Delivery Girl]. That is— until my sister…”

Noele trailed off. I saw the way her facial expression changed. Her brows cast a shadow over her face, and her lips drew into a thin line. It was clearly a sensitive topic.

“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” I reassured her.

“No, it’s fine.” Sighing, the blonde girl sat up once again. “My sister was a C-ranked adventurer, and she died protecting me. She saved me from a gang of infamous bandits called the Miststorm Riders. Even though they’re considered an A-ranked threat… she stood up against them for me. She was a really brave woman.”

I eyed Noele. It seemed like this was a long while ago, yet I could tell she wasn’t fully over it just yet. I had a sister, too. Well— I have a sister, I just hadn’t seen her in… a long time. Honestly, she probably thought I was dead since I’d been gone for so long. She was probably really devastated, even now.

I raised a hand and patted Noele on the shoulder reassuringly.

“Your sister sounds like she was amazing. I’m sorry for your loss.”

“It’s fine,” the Noble Spellsword said as she raised her head. “I’m an A-ranked adventurer now. I’m strong enough to take on those bandits. And I passed your test.”

I blinked. “My test?”

She clenched a fist. “That’s right. I dealt with that colossal centipede best and killed a titan centipede. I hit Level 50— I got a Class advancement too! I’m strong enough to call myself your apprentice now. I won’t let you down, Amelia.”

I met her gaze. She was determined. Resolved. She refused to look away, holding the look as she spoke. I nodded.

“That’s great and all,” I said flatly, “but whether you’re Level 45 or Level 50 doesn’t really make a difference to me. I literally don’t care about your level.”

“Uh, what?” Noele’s shoulders sagged. “Then what was that test for?”

“It wasn’t really a test. I just wanted to see how you’d handle yourself in a survival-situation, that’s all. And don’t get me wrong, I think you did a good job. It’s just…”

“It’s just?”

I sighed. “I don’t see a point in leveling up to grow stronger. Even if you get to Level 60, you’d still be really weak.”

This time, Noele didn’t exclaim or stare in shock. Her eyes just glazed over. She slowly lowered her head, tucking her knees towards her chest. She hugged herself in a fetal position and murmured.

“A Level 60 is weak. A Level 60 is weak. A Level fucking 60 is weak.” Noele looked up at me, speaking in a monotonous voice, yet clearly resigned. “My life’s goal is to hit Level 60 and become an S-ranked adventurer. And you think it’s weak.”

“As I said, I don’t have a Class. It’s all just meaningless numbers to me. Why can’t you just… get stronger without the System?” I asked.

She threw her hands in the air exasperatedly. “How would that work?”

“How does the System work? How do Classes and levels work?” I replied.

Noele bit her lower lip. “I don’t know— it’s just how it is. I… I don’t get it. Just how strong are you, Amelia? And why can’t you get a Class? None of this makes any sense.”

I honestly felt a little bit bad for overwhelming the blonde girl. But thanks to her help, I was learning more and more about Vacuos. I wasn’t sure if I should continue being as transparent with information as I had been, but she seemed like a good person, so I decided to just answer her questions honestly.

“I am…” I started. Then I rubbed my chin in thought. “Have you ever heard of a Lich King?”

“A Lich King?” Noele’s eyes widened. “There have only been five Lich Kings in all of history— each one has destroyed nations and been responsible for the deaths of millions of people! You’re saying you’re as strong as a Lich King?!”

“No.” I gave her a weak shrug. “I’m saying I killed a Lich King with a single attack.”

“That is—” the blonde girl started. But no words came out. She gave up, slumping her shoulders. “How? I don’t get it… and you still haven’t explained why you can’t get a Class.”

“That,” I said, scratching my cheek, “is a little more complicated.”

“I don’t see how it can be more complicated than anything you’ve already said,” Noele muttered.

“If you say so.” I closed my eyes. I didn’t know how else to put it, so I just went out and said it. “I think it might be because I come from another world.”

The blonde girl stared at me. She leaned forward, repeating my words. “You come from another world…?”

I nodded. There was a moment of silence. One where she said nothing. Noele just looked at me, and I wasn’t sure if that broke her. Then she nodded, tapping a finger on her chin in understanding.

“Oh, that makes sense.”

This time, it was my turn to be taken aback. “That… wasn’t the reaction I expected.”

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Finally posting at the scheduled hour instead of being antsy and posting early. Future chapters will be posted around this time at 9am EST from now on... unless I am late with my chapters, in which case, who knows lmao.


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