C27 A drop in an ocean
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Okay, let's see what we have here- OH GOD.

As soon as I prompted the system to show me the skill tree, I was hit by another flood of information. Apparently, saying 'open skill tree' in my head just opened EVERY single tree, and I was stuck closing all of them to see where I was until I saw what I was looking for.

 


 

Skills' updated: Disguise (Lvl 5), Dispel granted. Skill slots granted: 2, Skill points granted: 3

 

Disguise Lvl-5 Grants the ability to change certain physical aspects, hide or mislabel statuses and information. Ability to conceal information dependant on level, important information prioritized. Warning: Can be countered with analysis, inspection, or Disguise at twice the user's base skill level.
Evasion Lvl-1 +1 to all stats when a user is evading detection by pursuing parties. Note: Skill is ineffective if within direct earshot or seeing distance of pursuers.
New! Slot Empty N/a  
New! Slot Empty N/a  

 

What was displayed was a box containing four rows that appeared over the main skill tree display. Determining from its contents, it must have been my current skill slots in use or available, considering the 'slots granted' thing.

I know I've had 'Disguise' for some time now. Countered, huh. I guess that may have been how Lorn saw through me some. She's pretty old; she has to have acquired quite a few skills as is. I had 'evasion'?

Dismissing the initial screen, I now had an unobstructed view of the current skill tree.


Available skills!

Endurance 1 pt User not as easily exerted over time.
Deft hands 1 pt User gains exceptional manual dexterity.
Quickdraw 1 pt User finds themselves able to draw their weapon without issue in most situations.
Mana pool 2 pts User's mana pool expands, granting a deeper reserve. Mp increases to 12oo.
Marathon 1 pt User's base speed increases slightly, sprinting speed increases slightly.
Cleave 2 pts With great exertion, the user can cleave targets with greater force than normal.

These seem kinda...they seem like they're based on stuff I've done or been involved in. I don't see anything really fantastical here. Hmmm

I found myself thinking about my options. Everything I had listed was just general improvements from what I could understand. I was expecting them all to be action-based, but looking at it most of them are passive.

They all have some level of usefulness, but which would I really find myself using? I have three points, I could get three of the one-pointers or one two-pointer and a one-pointer.

I mulled over the subject to myself since the walk was rather uneventful, and Mother wasn't talking so I didn't really have a distraction.

I could just save one, but I don't really know the whole deal with whether something will take time to set in or not...Let's just settle with something we know we may NEED.

Deciding on what skills I was ready to spend the points on, i brought each of them up in my display.


 

Endurance 1pt User not as easily exerted over time.
Mana pool 2pts User's mana pool expands, granting a deeper reserve. Mp increases to 12oo.

 


 

Expend skill points?

The system prompted.

Yes

Mentally responding, I proceeded to get two succinct *ding* noises and notifications.

Skill points expended, excess skill slots expended, new skills acquired! Endurance- lvl1 Acquired! Mana pool- lvl1 Acquired! Please avoid strenuous activity during reconfiguration!

Reconfiguration?

I questioned in my head.

Huh, so there was a catch. Strenuous activity, we're headed home, so I should be fine.

I thought, dismissing the alerts.

Display skills.

 


 

Disguise Lvl 5 Lvl-5 Grants the ability to change certain physical aspects, hide or mislabel statuses and information. Ability to conceal information dependant on level, important information prioritized. Warning: Can be countered with analysis, inspection, or Disguise at twice the user's base skill level.
Evasion Lvl 1 +1 to all stats when a user is evading detection by pursuing parties. Note: Skill is ineffective if within direct earshot or seeing distance of pursuers.
Endurance Lvl 1 User not as easily exerted over time.
Mana pool Lvl 1 User's mana pool expands, granting a deeper reserve. Mp increases to 12oo.

 


 

I could now see my current skill slots were all now occupied with the display now up.

Nice, let's see if it took hold. Status.

 


 

Name: Kiyomi Jormanr

Age: 10

Race: Lower Demon (High Demon, unattributed, selection preview)

Sex: Female

Class: Adventurer (– Unattributed, selection preview)

Level: 10 (17)

 

HP: 958/1000

MP: 1005/1200

 

Constitution: 5 (10)

Strength: 9 (18)

Dexterity: 8 (16)

Intelligence: 7 (15)

Wisdom: 7 (14)

Charisma: 8 (17)

 

Thirst: 1000/1000

Hunger: 1000/1000

Titles: (Hidden), (Hidden), (Hidden)

Status: (Passive skill, Disguise(in effect)).


 

Looking at it, nothing seemed amiss at first glance, but that was because I was initially focused on the MP. Only at a second glance did I see my HP fall.

What?

For a moment, I was worried Mother would have seen, and I would have been found out. Thankfully, my HP seemed to rebound in rather the same fashion. The sudden change was not lost on me, however, as I felt something warm on my upper lip.

Is that?

Bringing my hand up and wiping casually, a smear of blood was now on my wrist.

Shit! God's damnit, so that's why there was the emphasis. Can this shit hurt me if I choose too much at once?

I casually rubbed my arm with a part of my cloak to wipe away the blood before it dried. I hadn't felt anymore, thankfully, since Mother more than likely would have noticed at that point. My MP, in the meantime, was nearly caught up. Nearly at full capacity, I found it convenient to have a slightly deeper MP to draw from since I was just starting with magic in some sense next week.

Having the understanding I do now, I wonder where 'Kiyomi' would have been at this point?

Before moving to the next alert, I dwelled on my body for a moment. 'Kiyomi,' the girl who this body belonged to, I wondered from time to time with my own progress whether she would have made it this far herself.

Let's think for a moment...Race attribute can wait. Considering selecting skills actually harmed me slightly, I don't want to think about what race would do. That and that's something I need to truly be able to focus on since I don't know what it exactly entails.

Class

I figured I would take a look at the classes from here, as it wouldn't hurt to browse.


 

Class: Adventurer, unattributed, attribute preview?

 


Preview

After prompting it, I was given a box similar to the one that displayed available skills.


Scout Pathway open, Experience needed, Skills insufficient. Specialized in ranged or close combat using a variety of ranged or light weaponry, support, and high mobility skills.
Slayer Pathway open, Experience needed, Skills insufficient. Specialized in direct engagements with multiple or larger enemies by using med mobility and various combat skills. Poorly suited for support.
Fighter Pathway open, Experience needed, Skills insufficient. Specialized in striking a given enemy with great effectiveness using a combination of buff and combat skills.
Knight Pathway open, Experience needed, Skills insufficient. Specialized in defending and supporting allies whilst using directed attacks with a combination of support and buff-related skills.
Cleric Pathway open, Experience needed, Skills insufficient. Note: Class, not recommended, insufficient mana-veins. Specialized in close range combat and basic magic such as healing or base level destruction magic, using a combination of support skills by using their mana- pool.
Mage Pathway closed, insufficient mana-veins. Specialized in medium and ranged combat using a variety of skills, support magic, and a wide range of destruction magic by using their mana-pool.

......

What I saw was on par with my expectations; it was an expanded selection of classes. There were fewer than I anticipated, but that was to be expected as well. I was tricked into a specific branch, so I feel lucky to get any further choice on what I specialize in. I can't select any of them yet. I'm lacking in a lot of areas, and judging on the 'skills needed,' I'll have to be damn careful in choosing my actions in regards to them. Looking over the list a few times, I found myself questioning the 'insufficient mana-veins' notes. It locked me out of an entire branch and was impeding another. My heart wasn't sold on specializing in magic, I wanted to learn, but I didn't have any thoughts already of walking down the same path Mother had. Thinking it over, I had a wave of disappointment crash over me after realizing a key piece of information.

Did I just make a big mistake with mana-pool? Damnit, I should have looked over everything before selecting.

I could feel myself clenching my fist, trying to hide my frustration.

Insufficient veins? What does that shit mean? Fuck!... I'll need to be careful in asking...I need to ask. I can't just brush that over....I'll ask as we start; yeah, we'll just bullshit an answer as to how we know. Yeah, that might work...fuck...

Taking a moment, I looked back at the class list.

Scout and Fighter seem to be generalists. Chessa and Stanis both seem like those. They're good at providing support and offensive power. Slayer...If I'm going to aim to be really good at dealing damage, it seems promising given my natural abilities as they are; especially given my strength. I don't know anyone with that class or similar, so I'd have to read up on it. I could go for Knight; I think Stanis is one? We never talked about the specifics of his trade. He's only around so much.

I looked over Cleric and Mage.

Clearly cut off. First, I don't know of any Clerics. And Mage...FUCK.

Every thought on the cut-off and not knowing exactly what it meant irritated me. I knew I could still use magic, but that would be extremely limited in application. It wasn't solely the fact of the class being cut off, but that it was something in me that was the reason for it.

Fuck it, never again. I'm not selecting anything without being as sure as I can fuckin be. The race stuff...that can wait for a fuckin bath or while I'm winding down for bed. Or in some time off or what the fuck ever, but not here.

Deciding on my course, I forced the thoughts from my mind and brought myself back to reality. I was simply following Mother's lead the whole time, so I never paid attention to our progress. We appeared to be approaching the outskirts, maybe another ten minutes of walking until we were back in the small village-like area around the main gates. Looking up to Mother, she was content. She appeared to be taking in the feel of the alpine-like atmosphere, the wind shifting lone strands of hair as if attempting to lead them somewhere.

"Hey, Mama. I know you can't teach me Skills...or magic...Can you teach me about them? Like what they are and all that stuff?"

I tried asking carefully, feeling I could properly lead her to give me the guidance I was seeking. Trying to garner whatever outside assistance I could from her.

She looked at me, then back to the road.

"I can teach you magic theory along with mana manipulation; there wouldn't be any harm in you at least having some further understanding...Skills...I'll talk with Lorn since I would only be able to teach you skills. I honestly don't understand the entire theory on them. But Kiyomi..."

We both looked at each other, tearing our sight from the road.

"Don't do anything you'd regret. It may seem unfair, but I want the best for you."

I already messed that up...

"I'll try my best."

I replied. I felt I could give no promises after already having made a decision on the few skill slots I now had.

There wasn't much else to be said after that as we continued to make our way to the city.

 

We were approaching the wall at this point. The guards that were checking carts and visitors into the city were within sight. The line of carts today nearly reached the outskirts, garnering a response from Mother.

"We might be in for a treat, Kiyomi; this is a rather large caravan. Probably some traders looking to bring new stock."

Mother said, craning her neck as if it would give her a better view.

Continuing our path, I managed to get a sight of a few races I hadn't seen yet in this world.

What looked like some demi-humans with fox features, Gnolls, Large Beatle-like humanoids, and what must have been Lamia's? The caravan was mostly human, but they were all interspersed so randomly that they must have all been together. They appeared to be unmoved for quite some time as well, as some of the caravan were performing maintenance or business while waiting in the queue.

Looking at some of these carts...wait...

Looking again, some of the carts appeared to have damage from arrows or blood on them.

Bandits? But this is a pretty large caravan, and I've never heard anything of bandits from Mama...Could they?...

Looking at them without the assumption of 'caravan,' half of the carts looked more like a sudden migration rather than a round trip.

I was finding myself wanting to raise a question to Mother. But as we passed a wagon that appeared to be having its wheels or bearings changed by some older man and his son, the wood posts that had been propping it snapped. The cart suddenly shifted under its own weight, threatening to crush them both before the older male shoved his son out of the way. All the noise around it suddenly went quiet with the sound of the wood smashing into the dirt, followed by the man's screams now filling the air.

"AAAhhh!! Damn it! Help! Help! Please!"

The man was pleading for help, a few individuals rushing from the surrounding carts to try and render aid. He was currently pinned by his legs, one was underneath one of the axles, the other beneath the frame. The first to try and help was his son who appeared to be struggling for all his worth as he tried to somehow leverage some of the weight off of his father. All the men that ran to their aid tried as well. However, the wagon barely seemed to budge.

Fuck, can they not lift it?! Shit...

I tugged on Mother's coat, looking at her with concern. My usefulness for my strength was not lost on either of us, I hesitated at first because so many rushed to the man's aid. But I could'nt watch this go on with them probably just making his injuries worse. Seeing my distress, she nudged me and nodded.

That's my signal!

Running over, I ended up planting my feet into the ground and gaining purchase on the frame right next to the man's son. He looked at me, tears in his eyes as he struggled. For a moment, he wore an expression of shock before continuing to push on the frame.

Good shit, kid! Don't give up, helps here!

"Hey, listen to me!"

I yelled at him over his father's screams and the yelling of everyone around us. Opening his eyes, he continued attempting to push but looked at me.

"Hey, I need you to listen, idiot!"

He proceeded to look at me with aggravation now instead of shock.

"What?!"

He yelled back.

"On the count of three, you need to grab your dad and pull!"

The look of aggravation grew.

"Stop being stupid and push. You think you can move this thing alone?!"

He protested.

"Did I fucking stutter? Grab your dad when I say!"

Boy, does it feel good to let that free. All the yelling, Mom couldn't hear that...probably. Fuck it, it felt good.

The boy hesitated for a moment before letting go of the cart and grabbing his father's shirt as the man struggled to keep from flailing in pain. When he had good purchase on his father, he looked to me. His eyes pleading for whatever was going to happen to actually free his father. Nodding to him, I dug my heels into the dirt, propped my back against the wagon, and readied myself as if I was performing a squat or deadlift.

Alright, nothing new. You've lifted plenty of things that were way heavier than you...on earth...okay, fuck it, you can shatter trees'! Yeah, let's do it!

"Alright, lay, ho, heave!"

The effort felt strange, as if I imagined myself as a hydraulic press or something of the like. I'd performed mostly explosive motions before, but this was gradual. I didn't want to risk injuring the boy's father any further. When I lifted, I felt an initial resistance, it had some weight to it, however I broke past it, and I was now lifting the wagon. Most of the men attempting to lift or push had broken contact from the cart as I lifted, stopping to gawk. Meanwhile, the boy was waiting intently, his father's shirt clenched tightly in his grip to the point his knuckles were turning white. I was nearly standing straight up just as the father started looking at his legs, and the son looked to me as if he was asking, 'what now?'.

"Pull!"

I yelled, struggling to utter anything as I lifted.

Gods' damned! Did this thing have iron or something in it!?

Hearing my signal, the boy started pulling his father backward and freed him from underneath the huge hunk of wood. Seeing the man was free, a few of the men scrambled to find another prop. Settling with logs in an attempt to somehow not have me be next. When they had new props underneath the wagon, I relaxed. The sound of groaning wood could be heard as there was no longer a single person holding its entire weight on one side. Surprisingly, I was exhausted. I hadn't anticipated lifting the wagon would actually take much out of me.

...Strenuous activity...fuck...

With the worst part of the event out of the way, I walked over to the boy and his father, whom Mother was now healing. The man was sweating and panting, laying back in the dirt. His son was looking over him, panting and wiping his own sweat from his brow. I ended up joining them, plopping to the ground next to the boy.

"You doing okay?"

I was prodding him, trying to keep his mind off of the stress he just endured. Had we not been here, his father may have never walked again.

"I'm doing okay...thanks for helping my pa."

He looked at me with a smile; relief was written in his expression.

"Your papa needed help, and I couldn't watch him get hurt more."

I wasn't sure of it, but I had a strange feeling seeing the kid struggle over his father...familiarity...eery familiarity.

"Will he be alright, Mama?"

I asked Mother, who appeared to be straining herself with the injury. Looking down, one of the man's legs was burst open, and the other was bent somewhere along the femur, clearly broken.

"He'll...be fine...just need you two not to distract me too much... You two handle the crowd, kay?"

Mother struggled to force the words out as she was actively straining herself. Her MP must not have recovered fully, and she was likely on her last bit left. The wounds were closing and repairing themselves, but it was slow. Pulling on the boy's sleeve, I pressured him to follow me. We ended up spending the next few minutes corralling people away from Mother as she paid attention to the wounded father. Eventually, the boy and I ended up standing next to each other as we waited.

"Thanks...again..."

The first to break the silence was the boy.

"My uh...my name's Vaughn...Yours?"

Vaughn asked, scratching his neck as he awkwardly asked for my own name.

"Kiyomi, nice to meet you."

I responded with a rather curt smile, probably not curt enough, however, as the immediate response somehow made him blush. To which, I rolled my eyes.

Fuck it, it could be worse.

"Likewise...Uhm, wanna be friends?

My guy, we've known each other for a whole seven minutes tops, and you're already popping that?

"You're not with the caravan?"

But fuck it, you had the balls' so I'll humor you.

I asked, trying to get a footing of who he was exactly aside from his name.

"Huh? No, I'm with the caravan. But our journey was ending here."

"You and your father were moving here?"

"The whole caravan was."

Vaughn responded before shrugging and looking at his father.

Excuse me, what? This is damn near a thousand people, probably. The whole caravan? Moving here? Fuck...so I was assuming right near the end...displaced...

"Hey, if you're here...I don't have friends myself sooooo...I guess we can be friends? I stay at the Adventurers Guild."

I attempted to respond without sounding awkward while kicking a small patch of dirt.

Fuck it, I haven't had luck linking up with anyone already. The first friend starts here.

Vaughn looked back to me suddenly, as if he actually expected to get turned down.

"Thanks, uh, didn't expect a straight answer."

"I find giving straight answers leads to proper expectations."

I responded casually. With the ice broken, the awkwardness died down some.

"Why were you all moving here? This is a lot of people coming to the city at once."

I tried asking, but Vaughn cut himself off almost immediately. Looking further ahead in the caravan instead. Following his gaze, there appeared to be a Lamia girl around our age approaching in a hurry.

"I think it'd be better to ask someone like my father or her parents."

That's a nonresponse, kid.

The Lamia approached and seemed to be out of breath after struggling to come to a stop.

"Ahh-ahhh-ahh. *gulp* Ah! Sorry for getting here so late! Vaughn! Is your father okay?"

The girl struggled to push the words of concern out.

"Pa's okay, Beryl, calm down. Does your Ma know? On'r way?"

Vaughn asked.

"Mother is coming, yes. The runner said something about someone lifting the cart off of your father? She wanted to check on him and reward the person who lifted the wagon!"

Beryl struggled to speak to Vaughn, but she was catching her breath and was more understandable.

One Gods' damned thing after another. This girl needs to calm, is it really a rush? There's a healer here.

"Speaking of which, where'd they go, Vaughn?"

Beryl asked.

"Hmm? Oh, right here. Beryl, this is Kiyomi."

Beryl placed her hands on her hips and frowned.

"Haha, funny joke Vaughn, for real."

Am I a joke to you?!

"For real, Beryl, it's her."

Vaughn continued to point at me with his thumb, his expression deadpan. After a moment of unchanged silence between the three of us, Beryl proceeded to look to me, head tilted in confusion.

"Ehhh?"

 

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