2.71 Entourage Selection – Result
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After displaying the White section results, Mia continued with her analyses. Although her eyes were blood-shot, she controlled her body and voice to hide her exhaustion.

"Of course, the stats with skills are more critical. Unfortunately, we have several effects that influenced the charts:

  • The long duration favored Babra Pikame's debuff stacking.
  • The healers couldn't see their group members.
  • Three of the five paladin standard skills were unusable. Both Presence and Center of Attention influence enemy skills, whereas the boxes use no skills.

Whereas the healers found a way around the restrictions, the paladins did not. The test is still valid because there are always extenuating circumstances in every engagement. Additionally, those skills don't profit from multiple appliances, so one paladin is enough for the entourage."

Ceart and Ursula didn't look happy but still composed. That changed when Mia showed the next chart.

Rotation

Damage

Healing &
Protection

Contribution

Babra

10

6

10

Deriga

7

5

7

Ceart

5

1

4

Konstantin

5

9

7

Ursula

6

1

5

Vatten

6

10

8

 

Ceart and Ursula had meager numbers. The paladin captain scored last in all categories.

"I won't accept this result!" Ceart stated. "On what basis did you give out these points? I highly doubt that Babra healed anybody."

"I didn't." Babra agreed.

"Babra Pikame received points because she provided the mana via Mantra for Deriga, Konstantin, and Vatten. The System attributed a percentage of their damage and healing to her." Mia displayed a big chart with all the prayers and attacks everyone had used and their effects.

Flora checked everything, and Mia's numbers panned out.

"It isn't your or Ursula's Yl's fault that the Paladin tier 1 skills are lackluster," Mia said. "I know you have the Captain class, but it can't be used under level 100. Konstantin Kuvetli profited from his Divine Shield skill-set. Unfortunately, the competition is only a few days away, and even if you learn a new class, you won't have time to train the skills."

Mia's next chart showed the Damage, Healing & Protection and White categories, followed by a Total column.

Overall

Damage

Healing &
Protection

White

Total

Babra

10

6

5

21

Deriga

7

5

6

18

Ceart

5

1

10

16

Konstantin

5

9

6

20

Ursula

6

1

9

16

Vatten

6

10

5

21

 

Robby's intel about the Field Chaplain held true. Leading with 21 points, he was a keeper. Babra shared first place, then came Konstantin second, followed by Deriga. Ursula and Ceart shared the last place, but the field was dense. One different skill could have changed the enter ranking.

"As you can see, the results are close to each other," Mia said. "Nonetheless, I feel confident to recommend Konstantin as Tank, Babra, and Deriga as Damage Dealers and Vatten as Healer for the entourage. Auntie Flo will profit from their skills not only in combat but in other scenarios as well."

"Excellent job, Mia. I agree with your suggestion—congratulations to Babra, Deriga, Konstantin, and Vatten. Would you do me the honor of joining my entourage?"

"The honor is mine, Champion." Vatten nodded his head so low that it was nearly a bow.

"Yay!" Babra cheered and hugged Konstantin.

The Divine Shield glanced over Ceart, then he squared his shoulders and nodded to Flora: "Thank you, I won't let you down."

"I want to speak with every one of you and Ursula. Please keep training. But first, Captain Ceart, please join me on the treadmills."

"Champion!" Ceart protested when Flora pulled him away. "I'll follow you willingly. While I'm disappointed about your selection and think you would profit more from having me, I accept your right to choose."

"Thank you, dear." Flora was confused. His words clearly indicated that he had her best interests in his heart. Did she miss a loophole? Or were her suspicions unfounded? She fell into a slow jog to clear her mind. "Please tell me your thoughts and feelings about the current state of the Church of Evailyn."

"I like the changes you brought. We were stagnating and even regressing before. Nomizo, Dysian, and the former pope were novices during Evailyn's last demotion. They were carrying the aura of defeat and humiliation. A fish rots from the head down. In the last week, our followers were rising for the first time. Although we were attacked, and maybe because of it, I can see pride and the will to fight in the entire clergy's eyes."

Ceart's speech humbled Flora. She was just playing a game to dodge the retirement home. Now, she was confronted with thinking and feeling creatures whose lives she massively impacted. She vowed to invest more time into her AI rights project.

Flowing Flowers to Aidan: "Have you spent your salary, dear?"

"A part of it, Milady."

Flowing Flowers to Aidan: "I'm proud of you! I don't want to pry, and you don't have to tell me, but I would love to know what you have bought." Flora took care to formulate the sentence without a direct order.

"I bought books about massage techniques, nerve damage, and headaches as well as paying some fees to transfer tools to the bedroom, Milady." Aidan squashed Flora's vaguely hopeful feeling. Immediately, she understood that he used the money to combat her boiling brain.

"Please consider spending the money on yourself and reimburse that money from my account. If I'm incapacitated in the future, please use my money on getting me going again."

"Yes, Milady." Aidan sounded sad.

Flowing Flowers to Aidan: "Thank you for caring about me. Aito, and you did me a great favor. I never had such a good time convalescing. What about Haidan and Aito? Did they spend money on me as well?"

"Yes, Milady." His voice was steady again.

Flowing Flowers to Aidan: "Reimburse them, please."

"Thank y-" *beep beep beep beep!* (I will buy book 8-12 of Passion of the Elements!)

Flora grinned when she heard Aito's voice again. She could get used to the sound.

"Is there anything else, Champion?" Ceart asked.

"Sorry for the delay, Captain. What do you plan to contribute to the church?"

"My shield, my sword, and my heart, Champion!"

"Very nice. Maybe you could get a bit more concrete?"

"My intent focus shield, my steel sword, and my heart that burns with passion for our Goddess!"

Flora chuckled, but her thoughts churned about what he said about his shield. "So paladins focus their skill through their shields? I didn't know that, but it makes so much sense considering this metal handicap nonsense!"

"Yes, getting good paladin equipment is difficult. Although we can add the runes for changing them into foci afterward, most dropped high-quality shields have too much metal in them."

Flora and Ceart talked about shields for a while until she had a good understanding of the situation. The church of Evailyn procured them from the church of Waird, Goddess of Protection, for the guards and paladins under level 100. Like all other equipment, the church provided only shields in the quality of the member's rating.

Aidan took notes because Flora couldn't accept her entourage equipping anything other than S-rated stuff. She was even embarrassed for the council. They were level 250, and the most remarkable goddess church's leaders in the Cetviwos yet only wore B-rated clothing.

"Can you tell me about the Caihaven attack? Dave Lupe told me that you were expecting a second assault?"

Ceart fell silent with his fist clenched and lips pressed together. Flora gave him the time he needed and browsed in the marketplace, checking out equipment for divine classes.

"When I heard about it, I thought it was a real attack−not a horizontal firework display. I went there to save the temple and all the clergy. Lionel Navarro lost his life because … of a diversion… because I misjudged the situation. They pelted the wards of the temple for hours, then they left. I couldn't accept it. I couldn't accept that this was all of it. I couldn't accept that one of my paladins died for nothing. The attack was the most surreal thing I've ever witnessed. Three mages shot their spells, then the guards came, arrested them, then the next three guys took their place, were arrested, then the next… Property damage gets one hour jail time. The guards captured one of the raiders three times. I was sure that the attackers had something planned… that this farce couldn't be their entire operation."

"Oh, dear."

"Yeah, Earthlings are strange. I had only contact with you before, and you seem human. Sure, I've heard some rumors but seeing it with my own eyes was something different. Immortality can go to anyone's head."

"Oh, dear." Flora didn't know what to say. She had thought it was nice that the SwordOfMichael goons hadn't gone on a killing spree. She still appreciated it but hadn't considered how unsettling the action had been. Immortality had definitely gone to her head as well. She wouldn't have done 90% of things in RL that she did in VR. One wouldn't have to go to the crazy stuff like jumping from a skyscraper. Jogging in the woods was impossible for her in RL… Feasting on a seafood buffet… the list was endless.

"So, what is going on between Konstantin and you? I picked up some weird body language from your interactions."

"When Nomizo and Zander had suggested Konstantin, I told them that Ursula and I would be more suitable candidates because we have a clean track record. Well, that is no longer the case. While my bad call wasn't as bad as Konstantin's, I can empathize more with his situation now."

Flora thought back on all the bad calls she made in her life. Sure, no one died, but she worked in toaster related businesses and not as Captain of a guarding force in a world filled with monsters−uhm, non-humanoid monsters. "I'm very impressed that this was your first misjudgment. I expected that someone in your position has to make more life and death decisions every week."

Ceart fell silent again. Was it because he was too humble to brag, or was the church of Evailyn so passive that such decisions never came up?

After Flora let him go, the entourage rotated through the treadmill next to her. Aidan took notes on their equipment preferences, and Flora dished out advice on the training for the next two days, which boiled down to use all five boxes, level resistances, train as many skills as possible, and learn to channel longer than one minute.

Flora bought the Fire Monk class from Babra. Fortunately, Babra had a nock and could transfer the skill diagrams to Aidan. No need for another parroting cats session!

At last, Ursula joined Flora.

"Thank you for competing, dear. I'm delighted that someone with your rating follows Evailyn. Please tell me a bit about yourself."

"Thank you, Champion. Do you know who my father is?"

"No, dear. Someone important?"

"Yes. I believe you are the first person I've ever met who didn't know and the first person who didn't give me preferential treatment because of it. It's also the first time I wasn't selected for a job I'd love to do." Ursula belled out a bitter laugh. "Yes, for the first time, I had to deal with a competition without my family's clout, and I failed."

"Your performance was very good. You didn't commit any errors, and I approve of how you handled yourself. The only thing which led to someone else getting the spot was your lack of useful skills." Flora paused. "Originally, I wanted to ask you whether I could help you with anything to compensate for the missed opportunity. However, it sounds like you get more than enough help. Do you want a challenge?"

"Yes, Champion!"

Flora wracked her brain for something suitable. She wanted it to be non-deadly, challenging, and the outcome should be measurable. What did the church need? A more powerful clergy.

Flora had a soft spot for Tali Rondas, the C-rated guard who performed well in the pope fight and on several other occasions. Maybe include him in the project and make it about raising his rating? But what kind of project was needed for that? She liked Celia Werkstaetter, the freshly assigned Head of the crafting department. While she was B rated, she had only an RGS of 2. Not to mention, Nomizo with her totally unacceptable RGS of 3.

Suddenly Flora remembered that management advice, that you don't tell people how they should do something, just what you want.

"Alright. Your mission is to raise Tali Rondas' rating and Celia Werkstaetter's and Bishop Nomizo's RGS. Everybody of the clergy else counts as a bonus. You have three weeks, 100 000 credits budget. While you aren't allowed to use my name to pressure, I will spread that you are on a mission to increase the clergy's quality. For your information, I suggested to Nomizo to train in the boxes. I realize that you have no authority over your seniors, but otherwise, it wouldn't be a challenge, right? Anyway, are you up to it?"

"I accept, Champion. Thank you for the opportunity."

I have the new policy that when I have more data in spreadsheet form, that I will post it. Some of it will not be understandable to anyone but me ... probably... I try not to waste too much time on making my spreadsheets pretty.^^ And it takes too much time as it is...

Like always you are free to ignore anything posted in this section. The story should be readable without it. Here I just post more things for people who like pictures or stats.

My calculations for Mia's points:

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