To no surprise, Nedoma arrived to an empty guild hall upon his return. After taking his first steps towards joining a party and begin questing, it was now far more necessary in his mind to begin learning skills- with or without the assistance of others. To that end, he opened the section in the original version of the Beginner's Book which contained the first skill in a Demon Knight's arsenal.
“Absorb Evil, the required first skill that Demon Knights must learn. When used, it gathers power from 'evil' acts committed in the area surrounding the user. The area this encompasses as well as the 'freshness' of the evil acts committed varies between users. This power does not benefit the user directly. Indeed, it only acts to help grow and empower the Demon Knight's demon servant. It is believed that extensive use of Absorb Evil before the first summoning determines the initial strength of the servant, as well as its potential for growth.
When using the skill, one must concentrate their thoughts and imagine the power required to commit evil acts and tap into it, and then imagining absorbing part of that power for your own purposes. Depending on the power absorbed, one might feel a slight tingle or a heavy shiver. If there were no evil acts committed in proximity, the skill will have no effect. As with most skills, there are three verses one can speak to produce the desired effect.
The most basic: 'By the Judgement of Libra, salvage the power of evils past and grant me their strength, Absorb Evil!'
The simplified version: 'Judgement of Libra, Absorb Evil!'
Simplest: 'Absorb Evil!'
And, of course, as with nearly all skills, a silent cast. The reasons why you would use longer versions instead of only silent casts are detailed in one of the earlier sections.”
Nedoma, having previously read this passage as well as other skill passages further ahead in the book, felt some disappointment in the knowledge that his very first skill would be one that he might not reap the rewards of for some time. But, as it seemed to have been a required skill before learning further, he had no choice in the matter. Nedoma did his best to commit the first verse to memory before beginning his first attempt.
'The power required to commit foul acts' seems pretty vague now that I have to start imagining it. Nedoma tried tuning his mind to what he considered evil acts. Greed which causes people to steal. Strength which leads to killing. These things will fuel my servant.
Nedoma instinctively stretched out his hands, as if trying to physically grasp the power that committed the acts within his mind. “By the Judgement of Libra, salvage the power of evils past and grant me their strength, Absorb Evil!” Nedoma's voice echoed throughout the building. After he finished the verse, he stared at both of his hands as if inspecting himself. “Not even a tingle, huh?” he said aloud. “Well, it would be to much to expect it to work on the first try. I think the book said learning by example would be a few days, and self taught might be potentially over a week...” Nedoma continued repeating the same process until he felt himself on the brink of collapsing. He quickly realized that attempting to learn the skill was far more draining than writing, having exhausted himself much sooner than usual. Adding far more resting time to adjust to this new practice, his adjusted daily routine carried him through the next few days.
It was only after almost a week had passed that Nedoma began to worry. The amount of money he had left had been continuously dwindling as time went on. Despite the hunger pains, Nedoma had begun to skip dinner to increase the lifespan of the coins he had left. Everyday without break Nedoma checked with the Adventurer's Guild, hoping to hear that someone was looking to recruit him into their party. And every day he left disappointed. The party board had seemed to constantly be shifting. Cards on both sides appear to constantly be cycling in and out, to Nedoma his seemed to be the only one not changing. At one point, Nedoma succumbed to his own pressure and asked to start his own party, to which the guild accepted. Yet despite being open to all classes, there were no inquiries.
The only respite Nedoma had from his lack of success in finding a group came during his training one day. His frustration could be visibly seen on his face as he prepared to cast again. COME. ON. GOBLINS. THIEVES. THAT DAMN PRIEST. “By the Judgement of Libra, salvage the power of evils past and grant me their strength, ABSORB EVIL!” The moment the last words left his mouth, it felt as though a chill had taken its place. Nedoma instinctively clenched his hands, his body seemed to briefly spasm. As quickly as the cold had begun to dig into him, it dissipated. “Yes!! Hahaha!!” Nedoma began to jump around in joy. “I think that was it!” Nedoma attempted to use the skill again, this time feeling no different from before. He momentarily panicked, thinking his success was possibly just some kind of strange draft, before remembering the wording in the book. If it's absorbing from things that happened.. then once I use it somewhere it shouldn't work again unless something 'evil' happens again, right?
Nedoma grabbed his equipment and sluggishly made his way to the upper floor. After casting the skill in the empty room a few times and feeling only even closer to his limit, Nedoma started to believe it may have just been a fluke. He thought of where else he might be able to try using the skill, before wandering outside. Despite being evening, Nedoma was barely able to make out a store which seemed to be an opportune test sight for him. Do people normally use magic within the city? There was that fight at the inn...although that wasn't exactly 'normal'. It is also late in the day... Nedoma thought for a moment before deciding to go through with his idea. He crept up to the building, keeping a close eye on the door as he did so. Although it appeared to be closed, Nedoma figured that this was the type of establishment where the owner likely lived here to keep a vigilant eye on his “products”, which Nedoma supposed might potentially try to escape.
Alright. Just need to use it quick and run back to the guild hall. Nedoma inhald. “By the Judgement of Libra, salvage the power of evils past and grant me their strength, Absorb Evil!” By the time Nedoma had begun to say the skill's name, he had already started to turn to run back towards his guild hall. A chill deeper than the one he had experienced before engulfed him mid-step. Having genuinely believed that his first success might have been a fluke, the shock of the skill working caused Nedoma to stumble before falling down; his palms making a smacking noise against the stone. As best as he could, he quickly scrambled to get back up while trying to not cause any greater a scene before returning to the guild hall.
“Sorry, nobody asked yesterday. Not to dissuade you, but it might be a good idea to wait a few days before checking back with us again.” Isu said, in an honest but remorseful tone.
Nedoma struggled to maintain his composure. “Ah... I get it.” I'm running low on money. Nobody wants to join my party, and nobody wants to invite me to theirs. Guess it's time to ask... “Um, by any chance, do you have any recommendations on quests I could do by myself?”
Isu scratched his head. “Well... the adventurer guild's recommendation to our patrons is to work in parties. There's safety in numbers, and having a person with a class capable of healing will prevent you from..” Nedoma noticed Isu eyes wandered briefly towards Nedoma's face before looking away. “..they're helpful if someone gets hurt.” Isu said the last part with focused emphasis. “We do our utmost to advise adventurers as best as we can. But at the end of the day, you control your own fate. The only thing I would recommend to you, a copper adventurer, are quests in the copper rank. Things like Goblins, Regular Slimes, Softskin Boars.”
Goblins, huh.... Nedoma thought back to the only creature in that list he had experience fighting before. With the gear I have now, I should be able to take on one by myself pretty easily...although I remember adventurers that visited Ayrith used to tell me 'There's no such thing as a lone goblin.' The thought of Ayrith had triggered an idea. “Slightly related, do you by chance know what happened to the village of Ayrith after it was attacked.”
“Hmmm. We had an emergency quest that a few parties took up to go to the village. I believe they were able to recover some of the corpses and kill a bunch of goblins before returning, but I think the village is still occupied by a large number of goblins overall...Why, are you thinking about going there?” Nedoma simply shrugged in reply. Isu stared at Nedoma. “Have you by any chance bought a local map from us?”
“No. I didn't even know the adventurer's guild sold things.”
Isu's head bounced side to side. “We do all sorts of things.” He pulled out a map and placed it on the counter. “Here,” he said as he pointed, “is Luton. Out here... is what we call 'Slime Forest'. You'll find lots of different slimes there...the bigger ones you'd probably want to stay away from. And then in general, if you go poking around these areas... you'd probably find goblins and boars and other monsters as well.”
“How much is the map?”
“We sell these for one silver coin each.”
Nedoma winced at the price. That was close to all of what he had left. “Ah, I can't really afford that right now...But the next time I come back, I'll buy it.” Nedoma gave his best effort at a confident smile.
Isu only nodded his head. “You better.”