[Learned Adjustment Repair activated. System information readjusted.]
[Please be aware that repair improvements to your system are based on use and mana available.]
Nova’s screen went blank. Her entire body felt weak and then suddenly energy surged through her. The blue screen reappeared but this time there was more information than before.
[Name:] Nova Davis
[Level:] 1 (repairing)
[Mana Agility:] 4
[Mana Pool:] 450 (-50)
[DXP:] 5 [SP:] 4
[Unique Class:] Soul Traveler (repairing)
[Secondary Class:] Artifactor
-Mana Sight (repairing)
-Mana Transfer (repairing)
-Artifact Detection (repairing)
Summoner’s Deal – Stage 1 Quest
Demon Bond – Trixie
Nova’s eyes widened at the wall of text that appeared on her screen. Honestly, all the numbers felt overwhelming. She wasn’t exactly a math person. She wasn’t bad at it but she wasn’t naturally good at it either. She took a breath as she looked at the screen. Her attention landed on the several repairing notes on the screen. She focused on the one next to level.
Repair is in progress. Leveling will not work as intended until repairs are complete.
Nova groaned and rubbed her forehead. She knew that the system needed to fix itself but she hadn’t realized it was this broken. It was no wonder that even before the diagnostic check none of her skills were leveling. So, she was stuck as a level 1 until it repaired itself. She wondered if she had picked the partial system if she could have gotten it back online.
She looked over the screen and then closed it. She was tempted to go through the information but it would have to wait. Honestly, she spent more time in the shop than she should have, especially since it was probably some sort of secret base for the Sanitation Guild. Nova got up and stepped outside.
As she moved, her stride was smoother. Her body felt lighter, her steps surer. It looked like the system getting back online had done something to her. She had mixed feelings about that. Her body’s movements were more confident than before but was it her or just the system. The obvious answer was the system since she hadn’t felt like this before. Did that mean it was changing her and did she want to be changed?
She frowned. This world was dangerous. She couldn’t reject anything that could help her survive. She rubbed her arm and made herself focus on the situation at hand. She was supposed to meet with Mathius but Trixie was supposed to let her know where to meet him since her physical form was with him.
There was no answer.
She frowned. She knew Mathius was supposed to speak with someone in the upper docks about the ground repairs, but she had no idea who it was. The next place he was going to was the Groves. She didn’t know the exact place he was going but she knew he was going there to broker a deal for wood. With a sigh, Nova decided to make her way to the Groves but she needed to make a detour first.
Leaving the market behind, she headed back in the direction of the Caverns. The only reason she had been in the market area was to practice her crystal crafting and talk to Korn. Today wasn’t an official day that she worked with Tinle but he had given her a key to the shop so she could practice in the workshop, especially since she was still blowing up crystal shards. She hadn’t managed to control her mana.
Tinle thought she needed to figure out her natural magic while Trixie insisted she couldn’t do it and was wasting her time. Nova, honestly, was starting to believe Trixie. All she was getting was feedback when she tried natural magic.
Maybe now that my system is back online, I can do it?
She paused and considered trying but decided to wait. She really didn’t want to heave up her guts in the middle of the road. Instead, she decided to try something else. She focused around her. Nothing. She frowned.
Is it broken?
She looked around and realized there were no crystals. Still, it was strange that before she could see a blinding amount of mana and now she couldn’t see anything. It could be the repairing function or it could be there was no strong source of mana around. She figured she would wait until she was near a mana crystal and try mana sight again.
With that settled, she hurried her pace. She arrived at the lake Helena had taken her to. Around her, she could see several people bringing in nets filled with fish while several others went back out on the water. What she found strange was that there were no fishermen on the pier. She wondered if that meant that fishing in the area was regulated.
She saw several guards roaming the pier but no one approached her or tried to stop her when she went to the edge of the pier. She looked down into the water.
“Briney? Are you there?” She glanced around, looking at the way the light filtered through the buildings. She was pretty sure it was around the time Helena came by.
A second later there was a warble and a large tentacle, much bigger than her hand, slapped the side of the pier. Just the sight of it made Nova sigh.
“How are you getting even bigger?” After the fiasco at Helena’s place, they decided to let Briney stay in the lake while Nova and Helena were at work.
Briney had seemed excited about the idea. The only problem was that same evening when they returned to pick up Briney he had grown. She had quickly contacted Jace who had told her to reduce the number of shards Briney ate and he would eventually shrink down.
Looking at him now, he looked even bigger. “Why aren’t you shrinking?”
Briney let out a squawk. Unfortunately, it was much louder than his usual squawk. Several birds scattered and people turned in her direction. Nova straightened up, stepping in front of the tentacle hanging out of the water.
“Briney, hide!” She whispered sharply.
The kraken sank deeper into the water as a guard came over to investigate, before he reached her another guard stopped him and then hurried in her direction. Nova smiled as she recognized the guard.
“Helena,” Nova said. “Sorry about that.”
She waved her hand dismissively. “Stop apologizing. Was that Briney?”
Nova nodded, frowning. “I think he’s getting bigger.”
Helena flushed. “About that…”
Nova narrowed her eyes. “Please don’t tell me you have been overfeeding him.”
Helena flushed a deeper red. “No, I mean, not too much. He just seemed so hungry and…”
Nova groaned and grabbed Helena’s arm. “He’s playing you, Helena. Jace said he would be fine but he’s not going to be fine if he gets caught. He’s too big to hide in the apartment.”
Briney warbled sadly.
Helena gave her a pitiful look. “Sorry.”
Nova shook her head. Helena was interesting. She was strong-headed, determined, and took her work seriously, but she also had a huge soft spot for animals and lost causes. It explained why she had been so willing to take Nova in. Even now, Helena went out of her way to help her.
Instead of having to find a new place, Helena had offered to rent her place to Nova. Helena spent most of her time in the barracks with the rest of the cadets, so she wasn’t often home. Still, she stopped by every day even if she didn’t always stay there. Nova was pretty happy with the arrangement since as much as she liked Helena, she was still a guard. She was sure the only reason she hadn’t reported Briney is because she considered him harmless and was a sucker for the kraken’s big sappy eyes.
“You’re in your head again,” Helena said.
Nova smiled. “Yeah. I have a lot to think about.”
Nova scrunched up her nose. “I’m supposed to meet him but I don’t really know where and don’t have a way to contact him.”
Helena raised her eyebrow. “Are you two running errands again?”
“Yes,” Nova answered reluctantly.
Helena’s lips twisted in distaste. “For Guildmaster Oren.”
“Look, I’m not happy about it either but it’s just supplies to fix up the Explorer’s Guild.”
“As far as you know,” Helena said, crossing her arms.
She couldn’t deny it, especially as she was just as suspicious as Helena about Oren’s motives. “I understand what you mean but I’m sure we’re safe for now. I actually think he’s trying to keep us busy.”
The uneasiness returned. She thought at first he was keeping them busy in order to keep a better eye on them and control their actions. That was probably true but was there another reason? She felt like she was missing something obvious.
“So you have no idea where you’re supposed to meet Mathius?” Helena asked.
“In the Groves. He’s supposed to meet with a wood supplier.”
Helena brightened. “Oh! Then I have an idea where you’re supposed to be headed. He’s probably going to use Egon. He’s an old friend of ours.”
Nova looked up in surprise. “A friend? Mathius?”
Helena laughed. “Yeah, probably the only one who has managed to stick around.” There was a hint of regret in her voice. “How are things with you and Mathius?”
“You always ask that,” Nova said with a huff.
“Well?” Helena said, expectantly.
“Awkward. So far, he hasn’t pushed too much but he always seems so hopeful that this time things will change,” Nova said, annoyed.
“He’s sure is putting in a lot of effort. You must mean a lot to him,” Helena said.
“Don’t,” Nova said sharply. “He only sees me as a tool. If he’s trying hard it’s mainly so he can make sure to continue using me.”
Helena grew quiet. She knew Helena wanted to say more but after her first attempt to pry into the situation she backed off.
“I have to get back to my patrols, but I’ll see you tonight for practice?” Helena said, smiling as if they hadn’t just had an awkward moment.
Nova nodded and felt a little bad for snapping at Helena. The woman was doing a lot for her. “Yes, and thank you Helena.”
Helena waved her hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it. I’m going to make sure to work you extra hard tonight.”
Nova winced but didn’t say anything further. Helena gave her instructions to the grove she thought Mathius would be at and then headed off. Nova turned back to the water where she could see Briney’s large golden eyes staring up at her. She sighed and fished two crystal shards from her pocket and tossed them at him.
Instead of letting the shards fall into the water, a large tentacle shot out and wrapped around the shards before the kraken gobbled them up.
“Briney!” Nova hissed.
The kraken let out a warble before sinking down into the lake. Nova watched the water with trepidation. She would have to talk to Jace again. Briney wasn’t getting any smaller and soon they wouldn’t be able to hide him.
Just one more problem in an ever-growing mountain of problems.
Nova began making her way to the Groves. As she neared it, she couldn’t help feeling nervous. The last time she had been there she was chased by guards and had an axe to her throat. She was cleaner now, with better clothes, so she was pretty sure the guards wouldn’t notice her but she couldn’t help giving them nervous looks as she passed by.
As she moved further down, she scanned the area until she spotted one of the crystals that were embedded in the field grounds. She focused and then smiled as a ball of threaded mana appeared in front of her eyes. Her mana sight was working.
[Mana sight repaired. Mana sight evolution pending.]
“What?” Nova said.
She stopped and brought up her screen. As she scanned it everything was the same except for next to mana sight repair was gone and new words appeared. She focused on it.
[Mana Sight (Evolution Pending)]
-Allows the user to see mana directed at them.
-Allows the user to actively focus on mana in a single object or person
-Evolution Pending: Due to using mana sight in a new way an evolution is pending.
“A new way?” She muttered to herself. She closed the window and looked at her screen. Her gaze rested on the new skill she had, artifact detection.
She paused on opening it. She already knew she would end up spending hours just standing there going through her screen. It was better to wait until she wasn’t doing errands. She shut it down and noticed a couple of guards eyeing her. She hurried along.
As she moved, she realized the route felt familiar and with dawning horror, she stopped in front of the grove Helena had pointed her towards. She hoped Helena was wrong about this being the place but it was dashed when she saw Mathius there, talking with a tall, solemn man that seemed to tower over Mathius’s wiry frame. A familiar axe was slung on his belt.
Before her mind could catch up, she was already turning away. Mathius can handle this on his own.
“Nova! I’m here,” Mathius shouted.
Reluctantly, Nova turned back. Mathius was smiling as he walked over with the man. The very same man who had put an axe to her neck for trespassing.
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