Chapter 18: So many choices
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Staring at my two extremely notable notifications, I couldn’t help but to snort out an exclamation of surprise.

“What was that about? Is one of your notices good or is it bad?” Mia asked while looking at me strangely, loot still in hand having paused her sorting.

“Its extremely good! My domain leveled up and I apparently have a skill evolution!” I blurted out unrestrained.

After a moment of us looking one another in the eyes, Mia asked: “So what are your options? Are you going to check, or are you just going to look at me?”

“Ya, I was just surprised and elated that I half forgot. I thought you would be more excited though.”

“I am very excited for you, but I think we can celebrate after you open them up and we know what the choices for them are.” Mia replied setting down what was in her hands in order to face me completely.

After a quick nod I opened up my menus to see what awaited me. Starting with my domain first I was greeted with the message.

Your domain has reached level 2

A new domain skill choice is available.

Clicking the message box I was greeted by 5 options.

  1. Calm Domain
    1. Domain’s weather is more likely to be calm and negative weather effects will be downgraded with a strength value proportional to the domain’s level.
  2. Bountiful Domain
    1. The domain’s influence allows all life in the domain to be infused with the domain’s power with a strength value proportional to the domain’s level for both better crop yields and rearing of livestock.
  3. Fortified Domain
    1. Wild plant growth encircles the domain providing protection against outside forces. As the domain levels the protection increases.
  4. Quiet Domain
    1. The domain will no longer spawn Stone tier monsters. The restriction on monster spawning will increase as the domain’s level rises.
  5. Shrouded Domain
    1. Disorienting mist enshrouds the domain helping to hide its boundaries. Effectiveness of mist is dependent on domain level and the intruders level.

Having read the options aloud for Mia’s sake, Mia was slow to comment but had a serious expression on her face. “Well… the options are fantastic with strong effects on all of them. There definitely are standouts for us, but I could see a use for each. All except the shrouded domain would be great for our farm though. That particular domain would be best chosen if you went the dark broody hermit route. Seeing as we are in business together, that ship has already sailed.” Mia said with a chuckling grin.

“Agreed, I wouldn’t choose that route regardless though. Now that I’m out in the World, I want to be more social and to actually live a social life. As for the other four, I don’t think we need the fortified domain. If we were in a hostile territory surrounded by bandits then I would, but out here in the farmland I think the calm, bountiful, and quiet domains are best.”

“That was along the same line of thought that I was having. From our business’ point of view, quiet domain would keep our business safe from monsters, but Rumble is doing decently well at that already. Bountiful domain would help us specialize further into high quality produce to sell, we could probably center our entire brand around it. And calm would make sure that the weather is always better than our competitors for crop growing.” Mia added

“I agree with all of that, but I think a bountiful domain is probably the best. Not only will it help our growth, but I am almost certain that it will buff Rumble as well. I’m all about stacking buffs and with Rumble buffed as well, we should be in a solid position to stay safe.” I excitedly explained.

“That makes sense, you already said that your bountiful harvest skill buffed Rumble, so it would really make sense for a druid skill by the same name to do something similar. And like I said before, this would help us specialize for quality. Which is exactly what I was planning to sell others on with my farming skills. So it would help our fields be the ultimate form of advertisement!” Mia started saying excitedly.

“That’s a great point. I’m tempted to choose it now, but I should really check out the skill evolution first. I actually have no idea what to expect though. I heard it happens with most heavily used skills, but I didn’t expect it so soon.”

“Same, I am really surprised that you got one so fast. It is probably because Rumble spends almost all of his time awake killing monsters.” Mia added thoughtfully.

“Well no time to waste, let's check out my options.” I said before switching menu screens. With the Plant-familiar skill tab selected I saw and exclamation point next to it with a background of a swirling vortex. Clicking the icon I was presented with 2 different options.

  1. Seedling swarm
    1. Evolves your plant-familiar skill to contain a number of familiars equal to the skills level divided by 2. It is important to note that each individual familiar will be equal to the strength of a plant-familiar, without this evolution, two thirds its level.
  2. Retributive defense
    1. The affected familiar grows an appropriate form of defense that enacts harm upon its attackers.

“Well, this one seems obvious to me. Retributive defense seems like the way to go.” I said.

“I agree as well, but I am curious as to why you think it is so obvious. Seedling swarm would be great at pinning down and overwhelming stronger foes, at least that is what I would guess.” Mia stated with a bit of curiosity while probing for my thoughts.

“Yes and no, swarms are great for tying up large foes, but not necessarily stronger foes.” I told her.

“Sorry, I did not really play too many games. Could you explain the exact difference in the differences and how that plays out?” She asked, obviously intrigued by the distinction I was making.

“Ya, no problem. A larger foe is exactly what it sounds like, larger. It’s size can be a great advantage due to leverage and reach, but at the end of the day, its still the same level as it was before. Swarms can crawl all over them making it hard for the larger creature to target any individual and thus wasting their overall action economy.” I excitedly started explaining.

“What is ‘action-economy’?” Mia quickly interjected her question for clarification.

“Oh, action-economy refers to how many actions something can take in any given amount of time. For individuals we can only do what our singular body can perform. Swarms on the other hand can take massive amounts of total actions.” I explained.

“So wouldn’t that flip the obvious choice over to Swarm?” Mia asked, now confused.

“Not necessarily, actions don’t mean anything if you can't damage the target. Both you and I can take down many weaker enemies and our ability to do so will only grow as we do. What we need is a heavy hitter for the big guys like the snake boss. The swarm option has reduced strength, which may not get past the damage reduction of some tougher enemies that may come to visit our farm.” I explained trying to be as thorough as possible.

“Oh, that makes a lot of sense…. I can hardly believe that you thought all that through so quickly.” She said with a tad bit of surprise.

“Well, the obvious part was much simpler. There is no way that I could ever risk Rumble getting hurt again. With a swarm I would see them get squished left and right. I’d personally rather get Rumble as strong as possible, you and him are my best friends… who wouldn’t make that choice?” I asked rhetorically.

“That…is incredibly wholesome. I couldn’t agree more, that was more along my line of thinking as well.” Mia added with what I could only interpret as a hint of admiration.

“Well, I don’t think that will affect my domain selection. Do you see any reason to swap our choice?” I asked.

“No, I think the choice of domain stands. I would recommend we wait until Rumble returns for the night though. We would not want to surprise him in the middle of a fight.”

“Agreed, we will do it then.”

And with that we finished the loot sorting together while waiting for Rumble’s return… And what a return it was.