For the next several days, I spent most of my time alone. Unsurprisingly, not many people wished to disturb the mysterious ‘sage’ that lived outside of town. Even the monsters often chose not to wander onto my land, the few that did only trying to devour a few fallen fruits or weeds before scurrying off.
While the days were peaceful, the nights were considerably less so. Not because of any sudden monster attacks or anything like that, but because Leowynn and I were continuing to practice our Aki Seppo techniques. Specifically, learning the functions of all the different constellations.
According to her explanation, the elven sky contained a total of thirty constellations. The five ‘skies’ had five constellations each, and each of the skies also acted as their own constellations. She even helped me to identify some of them that she could identify from the beastkin continent.
Of the thirty constellations, we had been able to practice a total of twenty. The constellations from the Sky of the Goddess, as well as the five skies themselves, were all too powerful for her to access. Most likely, we wouldn’t be able to use those until we had reached the final step of Aki Seppo, or until Leowynn had become significantly stronger.
Of course, these peaceful days couldn’t last forever. It took eight full days before the first guest arrived at my door, a large ursa man in studded leather armor. At his waist was a crude bronze sword, while on his back he had strapped a short bow.
He stood out in front of my shack, calling for me. “I come to meet with Tebor on behalf of the crown of the third Kelios Queen!” His tone was deep and commanding, yet I smiled as I detected a hint of a slight tremble in it. Time to start the show.
“Yes, yes, I’m coming.” I spoke from within, leaning on my staff as I walked out the door. As soon as I laid eyes on the ursa man, I knew that he wasn’t one of the famed ‘pinnacle champions’. The level displayed above him had barely reached one hundred, so he was likely nothing more than a common courier for the army. “What is it?” I found my voice aged and cracking, unlike the normal youthful tone I was accustomed.
The man looked at me, obviously not believing that I really required the staff for anything more than comfort, yet refused to speak up about it. “I have an official quest, handed down by Lord Bulrin of Dyjorn with the seal of the crown. He wishes for you to take a look at it, and view the request favorably.”
After speaking, he pulled a folded parchment out of the satchel on his waist and passed it to me. I could see the print of a bear’s paw stamped into the back of the paper, likely the ‘royal seal’. Nonetheless, I unfolded the paper to look at the quest.
The Kingdom has need of your aid, Sir Tebor. With the approval of the Third Queen, we have issued this request to you, in the hopes that we may acquire your assistance. In fourteen days after the writing of this quest, a small fleet of ships will be departing from the port, their goal to find uncharted lands to the west. In order to ensure their safety, we are sending our most formidable citizens to protect and guide them.
Well, this is interesting. I looked at the quest, somewhat amused. For the nobles that offered this, they had literally nothing to lose. Not only did this get a potential threat away from them, but they wouldn’t even have to really offer me the class in the first place, from their perspective.
I had a reputation of being a pinnacle power, meaning that my level should be at the limit. With that, offering me the noble class is nothing more than a title in name only. They would still need approval of a royal party to issue this as a quest reward, but if I could not accept the class, that was ultimately not their fault.
I never thought I’d get the chance to receive the noble class… though I suppose I could have done so easily at any point in the past. Just ask one of the gods to arrange things, and I’d have it. Bit of a waste, however. Well, one level won’t make much difference, especially once I start raising the cap some more.
After appearing to think it over for a bit, I could tell that the messenger was growing nervous. Chuckling softly, I clenched the parchment in my hand, speaking in a low voice. “I accept the quest.” If this had been a ‘contract of service’, the common name for a quest which was ‘failed’ by accepting, with the ‘penalty’ being a certain act, then I would have outright refused and found a different method. But, it seemed that the nobles didn’t want to get me upset before they sent me off.
Seeing me place the quest scroll in my own leather bag, the man breathed a sigh of relief. “Many thanks, Tebor. I shall report such to the Lord.” After saying that, he turned and jogged away from my shack.
I waited until he was well past earshot before letting myself begin to laugh lightly. “Good, this will be interesting. I wonder if Udona and Keliope will make it in time… or if they’ve been assigned to the ships already.”
I considered sending them a prayer to ask, but I thought it’d be much more interesting to wait and see. Of course, that hope was all but shattered two days later, when a booming female voice called out to me from outside the shack, stirring me from slumber. “Hey, old man! You gonna invite me in or what?”
Thinking, thinking...oh. I could only think of one person who would be able to act like that around me. I hadn’t set up any significant contacts which would address me quite like that, which means it’s not someone from my ‘reputation’. That can only mean a goddess, and there was no way that Udona would talk like that.
“Yeah, yeah, come on in.” I called out with a grumble, sitting up in my straw bed and rubbing my back slightly. As expected, a dark-skinned ursa woman came in through the door, nearly pulling it apart altogether as she used too much force opening it.
“Oops, sorry about that. Not like it’ll matter much soon, but anyways.” Keliope grinned at me, looking almost exactly like her real self, just several inches shorter. Above her head, I could see that she definitely was a pinnacle champion, her level capped out at two hundred and fifty. “How you liking the land of mortals, boss?”
“It’s dirty, there’s no proper plumbing, and I feel old.” I complained, though I had a slight smile on my face as I did. “So, I see that they really did manage to rope you into this?”
“Nope, I volunteered!” She answered with a proud grin. “I figured I wanted to go out and see new lands, punch new faces, and work for the good of our people. That and I was getting bored of doing the same old thing in this life.”
“Martial arts, again?” I raised an eyebrow slightly as I asked that. I know she had been all but obsessed with that class originally. She might very well be one of the highest level martial artists out there.
“Yeah… I keep getting stuck at the ‘99 barrier’, though.” She awkwardly scratched the back of her head as she said that. “Apparently, you need to be able to perfectly mix the styles of your chosen art and develop your own, unique technique in order to reach triple digits. But the stupid system won’t recognize anything I come up with, because I am essentially taking tips from everyone else who already used those moves. So I have to be more original than the originals.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle as she sighed in defeat. “Well, at least it’s good practice. Have you considered creating a new type of martial art, based on all your experience?”
That earned me a small chuckle from Keliope, who nodded slightly. “Yeah, I did once, but it’s hard for the founder of a style to get all the way up to the nineties in that style within their lifetime, so I ended up dying before that. Then on my second time through with that style, one of my students had already started up a new school on it, so more masters had started appearing. So… same issue. Honestly, I’m hoping that this trip will give me some new inspiration, to let me either create another art, or come up with my own unique move to use next time. Obviously, can’t pass the wall now.” As she said that, she pointed up above her, where she seemed to know I saw her level.
I nodded faintly at that thought. “That’s certainly understandable. But… there’s no way that they would have wanted someone that could only fight with their fists, right? In the sea, that wouldn’t exactly be useful, unless you were going as a laborer…”
Keliope tilted her head back and laughed loudly. “Hah! Yeah, right. Me, a cargo carrier? No, since I couldn’t pass the wall, I went ahead and got some monk training in. My first time really practicing its advanced class.”
As if to demonstrate, she lifted her fist up and clenched it, and I could see a golden flame wrap around her fist. “Fire ki might not be the most useful in the ocean, but it allows me some ranged attacks, and I can still fight if we meet something dangerous.”
“Makes sense… Any idea what we can expect from Udona, then?”
Keliope grinned mysteriously at that. “She wanted it to be a surprise. Most excited I’ve seen her since Terra introduced her to comic books, so I’m not telling. Don’t worry, she’ll be here in time for the party. By the way, you can call me Kelly in this life. Since I was born looking like… well, me, my parents thought it fitting.”
“And I’m Tebor… because it was the first thing to float into my head when designing myself.” I shrugged slightly as I answered honestly. From there, Keliope and I talked for a little bit, mostly just her quizzing me to make sure that I knew everything I needed in order to pull all of this off. Once she was satisfied, she left to enter town.
With her gone, my quiet days once again returned. And with Udona wanting to keep her identity as a surprise until the last minute, I didn’t receive any other visitors. Just me and Leowynn for two weeks… two long weeks. I was already starting to get stir crazy.
Thankfully, I was able to keep myself from going back to the Admin Room for those two weeks, and held out till the bitter end. Two weeks later, and I was in town, using my walking stick to help me along towards the shore.
This was my first time actually being in the city of Dyjorn since descending, and it was quite the active city. People of all four beastkin races walking to and fro, talking and chatting, preparing for the weekly D’ka. I hadn’t participated in the three that had occurred since my arrival, so none of that really mattered to me. Instead, I made my way towards the shore.
Before I even arrived, I could hear a loud voice, obviously enhanced with ki or mana, drifting out to fill the area. “Alright, alright, everyone who has been recruited for the Uncharted Voyage, step up. We’re getting everything sorted now, so come up and tell your name and specialty, and we’ll get you on a ship.”
When I got to the source of the noise, I found a slim lycan boy with white hair. A long scar ran down the side of his otherwise unblemished face, his hair trying to cover it up. As people walked up to him, he took their quest scrolls as proof of identity, confirmed who they were, and then sent them off to one of twelve nearby people all dressed in official garb.
Walking up to join the queue, I waited until it was my turn, before handing over my own quest scroll. “Tebor, druid.” I said simply, leaning against my staff as I waited for him to give me my assignment.
“Don’t bother with that one, boy. He’s mine.” A female voice called out from the side, and I turned to see one of the twelve people lined up looking at me with a grin. “Tebor, been waitin’ on ya. The Lord himself suggested I be takin’ ya on my crew.” She added with a playful wink.
Oh, you have got to be kidding me… I instantly knew that this was Udona. Not because she was a silver-haired kitsune. Not because she had called me out instantly. No… it was her outfit. She wore a long, leather vest with golden threads embroidered in thin, even stripes along the center. Beneath it she wore a tight fitting red shirt and pants, outlining her curves.
On her feet she wore leather boots with folded tops. A bronze cutlass, obviously carefully crafted, sat sheathed at her waist. But what gave it away most of all was the black hat. A black hat with a symbol that should be completely unknown to this world, the jolly roger.