[*Ding!* Congratulations! You’ve upgraded your first class – [Apprentice Control Healer] - Light]
[[Apprentice Control Healer] – Healing calls to you, and you have answered. Now go forth, and learn how to heal]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Apprentice Control Healer] has leveled up to level 9! +1 free stat point, +1 Mana, +2 Mana Regeneration, +1 Magic Power, +2 Magic Control from your class, +1 free stat point for being human, +1 Mana Regeneration from your Element]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Apprentice Control Healer] has leveled up to level 10! +1 free stat point, +1 Mana, +2 Mana Regeneration, +1 Magic Power, +2 Magic Control from your class, +1 free stat point for being human, +1 Mana Regeneration from your element]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Apprentice Control Healer] has leveled up to level 32! +1 free stat point, +1 Mana, +2 Mana Regeneration, +1 Magic Power, +2 Magic Control from your class, +1 free stat point for being human, +1 Mana Regeneration from your element]
[*Ding!* Congratulations! You can now advance your class!]
[*Ding!* WARNING: Once you start advancing your class, you must pick an advancement.]
What on Pallos was going on? Unlocking the system got you all of your accumulated experience until then, but I had never heard of someone immediately jumping up to level 32 and being ready to class up AGAIN.
[*Ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Light Affinity]!] You’ve worked with light magic some, and with this skill, your ability to use light magic will improve. Increased affinity per level.
[*Ding!* You’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Soothing Touch]!] Healing is easier when your patients are calmer. Your touch can calm and sooth patients. Control and efficiency improved per level.
[*Ding!* Your [Anatomy] skill and [First Aid] skill can merge into a class skill! Would you like to learn [Medicine]? Nothing will be lost in the merging of the skill.]
[*Ding!* For reaching level 10, you’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Minor General Healing Boost]!] You’ve worked hard at healing, and with this skill, you’ll be able to help your patients heal a bit faster. Increased efficiency per level.
[*Ding!* For reaching level 15, you’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Flash]!] Generates a bright flash of light. Seems useless, right?
[*Ding!* For reaching level 15, you’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Centered Mind]!] As nice as it’s for patients to be calm, it’s even more important for the healer to not freak out. Increased stability per level.
[*Ding!* For reaching level 20, you’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Light]!] You’re the bright light for your patients. With this skill, that metaphor can be a bit more literal. Brighter, longer light per level.
[*Ding!* For reaching level 25, you’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Minor Local Healing Boost]!] You were able to heal your patients a bit faster. With this skill, you can now target what gets healed faster. Increased focus and efficiency per level.
[*Ding!* For reaching level 30, you’ve unlocked the Class Skill [Invigorate]!] You’re no good at invigorating people with words and actions, so we’re giving you a skill to compensate. Can transfer mana or energy to a person. Increased efficiency per level.
[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Vigilant] has reached level 9!]
[Vigilant: You’re constantly on guard for trouble, aware of your surroundings at all times. Increased perception and awareness per level. -3 Mana Regeneration. Second tier: You’ve managed to stay alive this long thanks to this skill. Increased range per level. Additional -30 Mana Regeneration.]
I just lay there, stunned. What was going on? So many tasty skills! I could heal magically! Kinda. But I just couldn’t get really excited by it. I just jumped from level cap to level cap. This couldn’t end well for me. I had a dread suddenly take me over. What if Artemis could tell that I was now level 32? What if she decided that yes, I was indeed a monster? What if she lightning’d me into nothingness? I started to sweat. I couldn’t meet her eyes.
“Come on already, tell me whatcha got” Artemis coaxed. I hadn’t even heard her ask the first time. I sweated. I should just tell her. I could explain. No, she would lightningify me before I could explain. Hair trigger. I could feel some sweat start to form.
“Wow, that bad? Yikes.” I was an open book. She would find out eventually. Maybe if I just told her, she wouldn’t identify me and find out my level.
“I got [Apprentice Control Healer] - Light].” I mumbled.
Artemis squatted next to me. “Aww, cheer up! That’s a fine class to get! Sure, it isn’t [Mage’s Apprentice] like you were aiming for, but it’s a really good class! You also got light affinity! Light control healers are the BEST! Saved my life oh um… hmm... that one time in the Kadan jungle doesn’t really count… but that time in Ariminum really should… 15 times! At least. Probably one or two more times I can’t remember.” She waved that off. As if dodging death wasn’t a big deal.
I gave a huge sigh of relief. She thought I was bummed out about getting a bad class, not the level thing. Safe!
“Aww cheer up. You’ve gotten a gre-, errr, decent class! And so soon after unlocking your system! Well, a lot of people get a class after unlocking their system, but it’s usually something enforced on them by their parents. It’s usually not very good either.” Artemis winked at me. “Well, let me be the first one to see your lovely new tag!”
“Eeep! No!” I cried out, curling up in a ball. Please make it fast, please make it fast, no pain please.
“Elaine?” Artemis sounded worried. She kneeled down next to me, wrapping me in a hug. “Elaine, it’s ok. You can tell me. I won’t hurt you. Shhhh, it’s ok. Even if you have a terrible class like [Murderer], I’m here for you.” Fuckit.
“It….. it’s not my class” I said through sobs. “My level. 32. Please don’t lightning me I don’t want to be lightninged. I’m a human, I promise.”
“Oh honey” Artemis’s voice broke. “I’d never lightning you.” She quickly glanced at me, and went back to reassuring. “Not my little healy-bug. It’s ok, shhh, shhh. Your level doesn’t matter.” She continued to hold me and rock me. I felt relieved. I remembered a sickening thud. I worried more. She held me more tightly. Relief. Worry. Reassurance. At long last, forgiveness, acceptance.
I don’t know how long I spent breaking down, and Artemis building me back up. The moons were high up in the sky by the time we were heading back in town, half-lidded like a dragon going to sleep. We got home late, and I was handed off to mom, who promptly tucked me in bed. Exhausted, I started to drift off when a sound like a bomb went off.
“What did you do to Elaine!?” Mom exploded in rage.
Some quiet mutterings I couldn’t make out.
“She came back with a [Healer] tag. But that’s not all, nooooooo. For some reason she has color now! Color when you identify her! What. Did. You. Do!?”
Thwacking noises. Cries of protest.
“You really expect me to believe that you didn’t decide to kill a few monsters when you were out there!? How else could she have gotten so many levels?! She didn’t get them here in town!!” Mom was righter than she knew on that. I had a sneaking suspicion what happened.
More pained noises. Indignant cries. Wounded cries. The sound of wood on bamboo. It was nice to hear someone else getting the flat end of the spoon. I smiled as I rolled over to sleep.
I awoke the next day to find Artemis gone. Apparently, her break was just about over, and it was time for her team to get going. Wish I had met some of that team, although if they were anything like Artemis, I probably wouldn’t have survived the week.
The next day, I had a long talk with mom about the skills I had acquired, and a path forward for me. Apparently, she had Ideas about what class I should’ve taken, and it was only Artemis’s interference that let me really pick what I wanted to be. Mom really didn’t want me having the [Healer] tag when identified – apparently it brought trouble. “Since they know you’re not a fighter or physically based.”
I had thought that [Minor General Healing Boost] would be the least useful skill of mine, but mom thought it was [Flash]. I thought it could be used to defend myself, mom pointed out that I shouldn’t be doing much defending. I pointed out her [Healer] comment, she retorted that I might as well be good at what my tag says.
I conceded. She was my mom after all, and I had already unwittingly thrown a bunch of wrenches in her plans.
The next day I went out to find Lyra. I had soooo much to share with her! Skills! Classes! Levels!
I went into Lyra’s home – the smell was worse than usual; they were never good about the mold but I would never say anything - and found her quickly, looking a little sweaty. Probably the heat, it was getting hot, and a house with a bunch of people in it wasn't exactly cool.
“Oh my god I have so much to tell you! I classed up!”
“Ehhh! So did I! Mom made me though.” she quickly cheered up, but then her pale face fell.
“Oh no! Tell me about it!”
“Well, I really wanted [Acolyte of Solaris], and I was offered it, but mom insisted – INSISTED – that I take [Apprentice Seamstress] instead.” Lyra was tearing up.
“Oh no Lyra! That sucks! Maybe you can get it next!”
“Maybe… mom will just make me get another class that she demands… maybe I shouldn’t level up until I’m older…”
I felt so bad for Lyra. Was this the fate that was in store for me if Artemis hadn’t worked her unique brand of non-lethal magic? She had played me so well, without me realizing what was going on.
“Well, hey, let’s go play in the park! Running jumping and more! I leveled up my [Running] a bunch and I got 10 speed!”
“Pffft” A light chuckle from Lyra. “I did sooo much better than you. I got my Dexterity to 17, and Strength to 15. HA!”
Ah hmm. Yeah, I had basically nothing in the physical stats, so everyone would outstrip me. Where was that lovely grey zone, I would probably end up living in it.
“So! Park? You can show off all your cool new tricks!” I asked.
“Sorry Elaine, not today. Maybe tomorrow.”
I eyed her suspiciously.
"Is everything ok?" I asked.
She thought about it, struggling internally, before forcing a smile on her face.
"Yeah, I'm ok." I didn't completely believe her, but I let it be.
Lyra seemed really bummed out, and probably just wanted a day to mope about her class. Alright, tomorrow it was.
I woke up the next day to find The Maestrai was in full force today, a violent, vicious wind off of the Nostrum sea. Mom and I spent the day hunkered down inside, passing the time, with bonus dad. He usually had to work in The Maestrai anyways, but having a week off of work was nice. We could all spend quality time together. He confessed that he generally spent most of the time hunkered down as well, even when working. The wind wasn’t particularly dangerous, it was just exceedingly uncomfortable to be out and about in. Especially if a pair of mischievous girls grabbed handfuls of sand and went running around throwing it in the air. I felt a tiny bit bad for that stunt Lyra and I pulled, but in our defense, it was fun. A day with family, a day to bond, a day to check out my new skills and put them in practice. A good day. Sadly, sans Lyra, but hey, there was always tomorrow to catch up some more and play.
I woke up in the middle of the night to a pair of notifications that would haunt my nightmares for years to come. The happy *ding* of the system forevermore would fill me with dread, fearful that I would see it again, a cruel reminder of what I had done, of what happened.
[*Ding!* You have slain an [Apprentice Seamstress] (Water, lv 8)]
[*Ding!* You’ve unlocked the General skill [Poisoning]!]
[Poisoning]: With malice or without, you’ve gotten a poison into another’s bod, killing them. With this skill, you can do it again, and even better! Increased knowledge of poisons per level.
It didn’t make it clear who it was. I knew exactly who it was.
I had somehow killed Lyra.