Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 22

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XXII

Though Richard was willing to believe that he was cursed, he wasn’t exactly sure how that should change his life. He wasn’t sure how to protect himself from a curse. However, his grandmother wouldn’t just pronounce an ill omen over him and leave him to himself. She responded to all of Richard’s inquiries in a helpful manner. Though Richard had no idea where she had gone, he could call her or message her. Sometimes she was busy doing… whatever it was that she did, but most of the time she would answer or respond right away.

As for how to protect himself, Richard wasn’t really sure what he had expected, but the answers were fairly mundane. The first one was to just stay in a safe place, and never go out. That would protect him from most things, but it still wouldn’t be perfectly safe. Personally, Richard didn’t like that idea because it would be just giving up. He wouldn’t be able to do much with his life just staying in a small area, though Richard had to admit that some things were still possible with a computer and access to the internet, but it just wouldn’t be the same. The second thing Richard could do was get help from others. However, it wasn’t as if hiring a bodyguard would solve all his problems. For example, when he had helped Elena stand up, it wasn’t a situation a bodyguard could help with. Of course, he could avoid doing anything himself, but that would be almost the same as being cooped up in a room. The third answer would be just to improve himself. His awareness, his strength, or anything else could make him safer. If he was more aware of his situation, he could avoid some problems, though he couldn’t always be on high alert, or he would break down. If he was stronger or healthier, that would have obvious benefits against some physical dangers. If he were smarter or more knowledgeable, he might be able to think of different ways out of perilous situations. Even having more friends he could call on for assistance would help, though this overlapped with the second option.

Richard was slightly disappointed that he couldn’t just carry a magical charm or something with him, but he supposed if that were the case then his grandmother would have just given him one. Then again, Richard was still not one hundred percent sure if he believed in magic or curses, though he was pretty close. Still, improving himself couldn’t hurt, whether or not anything bad was coming his way. More importantly, it wasn’t that negative things couldn’t happen even if he wasn’t cursed. Still, Richard considered more ways to improve himself, rather than just the studying he was currently doing. That might help, but Richard knew he could do better than just book learning.

However, Richard knew he had a good source for at least one of thing things. “Jot, can you help train me to be stronger?”

Jot thought for a few moments. “Well, Xevaronians are naturally stronger… so we would need to scale down any exercises, but I could. Of course, right now you should do anything but wait for your ribs to heal. Any kind of exercise besides walking won’t be good for you, and even then I wouldn’t walk quickly enough to start breathing hard.”

“Right… don’t want to make things worse.” Richard nodded. What could he do then? He couldn’t say that there was any specific knowledge that would help him. He supposed he could start specifically watching the nutrition of the foods he ate, but he wasn’t really sure if that was important to him or not. More importantly, as long as he didn’t eat junk food, he wouldn’t be too poor on nutrition. Most foods in the cafeteria were well balanced nutritionally, since it was easy to do and still have it be relatively tasty.

There was one thing that Richard knew he could certainly do, and that was be aware of his surroundings. He even had an advantage of having a second set of senses now. He likely could have avoided both of the life threatening situations he had been in if he had been paying close attention. However, there was still knowledge he needed of what was dangerous. For example, the blood and many other parts of Noxians were toxic, but if that wasn’t known then it wasn’t a danger that could be avoided. However, there were clues that Richard could have used even without knowledge of Noxians. Generally, there would be a reason for someone to be covered head-to-toe, though it could also be a fashion sense. Still, it was a clue that could have been used. Unfortunately the green blood that Noxians had could be green for any number of reasons, so that wouldn’t have been extremely helpful to notice on its own.

As for the incident with the Ulph… well, he had been looking for trouble, so Richard wasn’t sure what he could have done except recognized that from a distance and avoided him. Perhaps that was something he could work on.

Richard decided to work first on keeping an eye on things around him. This wasn’t actually too hard, once he got used to it. Although he quickly got mentally tired from always being on high alert, Richard found a good solution. Though it was still new to him, at least compared to the almost two decade he had lived, he now had a second set of senses, and thought processes to go with them. He found that he could be particularly alert with his actual eyes and ears for a time… then change the job over to his other senses. It wasn’t particularly easy, getting himself to maintain a state of alertness for more than a short period of time, but it was at least possible. Richard found that his second senses from the energy part of him, and the brain that went with it, were better at maintaining alert for longer. This made sense, and as long as he didn’t catch himself investigating anyone or anything in too much detail, it wasn’t too tiring. After all, that part of him didn’t have to control his body movements, or do anything of the sort. Most of the time, as far as he could tell, it would basically be resting.

Even with practice, it wasn’t that Richard suddenly became aware of everything around him. He could at best just be more aware of things happening, intentionally aware. That only went so far, because he really wasn’t sure entirely what he was watching out for just yet. He could also easily get distracted, such as noticing how many pretty girls were around the school. Still, he also noticed a few things and people he hadn’t before. There was a human boy… man? Richard wasn’t sure which he should use at this awkward transitory phase. Either way, he was in many of Richard’s classes and Richard hadn’t noticed him before, but Richard discovered that he hadn’t just missed him. He seemed to have arrived at the school a few weeks delayed, and started part of the way through the semester. Richard also noticed some other Noxians around, though that wasn’t so hard because they weren’t exactly subtle in their clothing. Still, Richard thought he probably would have missed them, since they didn’t share any classes with him. There also weren’t very many, so they could easily be lost in the crowd, or just never encountered. Richard hadn’t noticed anything particularly dangerous… but he also hadn’t encountered anything dangerous that he missed, so he supposed all was as well as it could be.

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