The guy who came over with us from New Bay, Zakaria, confirmed the status of a dozen people. Not for us, so much, as for Yew-Kay and the people of Earth. And to officially document the involvement of certain people in illegal extraplanar stuff. It was pretty easy to pick them out, of course. Anyone who spoke common and elven and stuff instead of english was easily picked out. But people like doing things all official, and it was a helpful way to expedite the process of returning people home. And it was an important step to explain why most of them wouldn’t be showing up as witnesses in later trials.
Just because I was capable of traveling between planes regularly didn’t mean it was easy. And normal people might not be so comfortable with that and would prefer to simply be home.
As for Midnight and I, we were poised to bring them home. Along with completing the official stuff on Granbold’s side. Then we would be returning to Yew-Kay for another round of raids and the like, plus Sir Kalman would be negotiating for criminals they could prosecute in Granbold. Fortunately there were plenty of those, so it wasn’t as if we would run out.
With everyone gathered up at the local Extra branch, Midnight and I cast Gate. Sir Kalman stepped through and out of the storage room door, leading the way for everyone else to get shuffled through followed by Midnight and I. Because it was much easier for us to coordinate timing by just being there when Sir Kalman needed to return.
Kalman was already working with his lieutenant Sir Harold on sorting out how everyone was going to be getting back home, so I had nothing to do but sit around recovering mana. I could just relax all day without having to deal with anything complicated.
“A moment, Turlough,” Sir Kalman caught my attention as we were heading outside. “I must speak with you about something.”
He already knew how long it would take to recover mana… so what could it be? Wracking my brain, I couldn’t really think of anything.
When he finished his immediate business, we headed outside the city for a private meeting with just us. And Midnight, of course, because there was nothing to gain from keeping secrets between a mage and their familiar.
“… Is there something about these trees?” I asked. “Because I’m not a druid.”
The stout fellow chuckled. “Oh no. This is just for privacy. I have a question that someone of learning like yourself might possess the answer to.”
“I might,” I said when he hesitated. “But I have to know what the question is.”
“So about the class system. You know of the Guard Breaker skill?”
“Only vaguely,” I admitted. “Was it not working against Iron Bloke?” I was pleased to find that the Power Brigade was not the only group that came up with terrible names. That guy didn’t have an ounce of iron on him, either. “Because if it wasn’t, that’s probably just a quirk of mixing power systems.”
“That’s the thing. It was beginning to, I think,” Sir Kalman frowned. “Before Dart took him down.”
“What’s the issue, then?”
“… I never spent points to learn Guard Breaker,” he said.
“Okay,” I said, waiting for his point. But it never came. “Oh!” I clapped my hands together. “I get it. Yeah don’t worry about that. It’s just a thing that happens. You can learn stuff without spending points now. It might be a bit weird at first, but it’s only beneficial so I wouldn’t worry about it.”
What I could see of Sir Kalman’s face indicated a frown. “But I- it doesn’t make any sense.”
“Don’t worry about it. In fact, probably best not to talk about it at all. It’s just a consequence of extraplanar travel. In theory a bunch of powerful people know about it and don’t want word to spread…”
“I feel like that’s an excellent reason to worry,” Sir Kalman said. “Just by traveling to another plane and engaging in battle, such a strange thing occurs?”
“Oh, no,” I shook my head. “I don’t think you have to fight. It just happens. It even happens to normal people from the other side just by standing near a portal to here.”
“I…” Sir Kalman looked at Midnight, “Surely you must realize there’s something weird about this?”
Midnight shook his head, “I was introduced to magic after being in New Bay where there are a bunch of people in superpowers. Both of which are weird to me.”
“Kalman! Sir Kalman!” Our conversation was interrupted by someone calling out for him. The wood elf stepped into view from a distance. Some exposure had allowed Translation to actually process modern elven. “My apologies for interrupting but… Harman said I should go to you with my request.”
Sir Kalman turned towards her. “What is it, Antiele? We’ll get you home as soon as we can. You’ll be leaving in a couple days at most, as the wagons will need to go a bit further for your area.”
“Yes… well…” the woman apparently called Antiele shifted nervously, looking between him and me. “I was wondering if you could teach me how to fight? I don’t want to… to not be able to do anything.”
“Are you a warrior of any type?” Sir Kalman asked. “What is your class?”
“Well, I am… a director.”
I leaned over towards Sir Kalman, speaking quietly in conspiratorial common. “What does that class do? I’ve never heard of it…”
“It’s a non-combat version of a marshal,” he whispered back. Then he straightened his back. “The thing is, miss, that with such a class there’s a limit to how much you can…” he trailed off, looking at me.
“You’re agile and fit, right?” I asked. “There’s a lot you can do without class abilities. What about archery?”
“Well, I’m not strong enough for the good bows. And they take a decade of muscle training to be really good at them…” she frowned.
“You could use a gun,” I said. Since she seemed confused at the word I added, “The loud weapons those people used. This is one too,” I said popping my handgun out of storage.
“I don’t know how to use one…” she said. “Besides, they must be expensive.”
“I guess it’s a bit difficult to get ammunition here,” I admitted. “I don’t know much about the director class. What can it do?”
“Well, it is mainly a wide variety of utility abilities. Experience increases, cooperation skills, utility magic…”
“What sort of utility magic?” I asked.
“Little stuff like cleaning, repairs, refilling containers, producing water…” she shook her head. “Nothing much.”
“Are you kidding? Repairing spells are great,” I said. “Anyway, Kalman has a pretty good right hook so he can probably teach you that. Or I know some martial arts. And there’s weapon stuff.”
Antiele nodded, “Thank you. I know it probably won’t be enough to actually matter, but I would feel more secure.”
“If you don’t look dangerous,” Midnight added. “Then being just a little bit dangerous can be a huge surprise for people.”
“That’s right,” I said. “And if you were a mage who could hit people, for example… they will be surprised. You’d be surprised how many people assume that I stop being big because I have magic.” In fact, I was larger than I used to be now that I’d grown more magically. It might have just been a coincidence of timing, but I had a feeling levels were also related at least a little bit.
“Also,” Sir Kalman said. “We should see how many of a director’s ability apply to combat training. Because I imagine you village might want more than additional individual fighting fit.”
“The only problem is,” I added, “Sir Kalman can’t always be here to help you train. Especially in the near future he’s needed on Earth. And he’ll be somewhat occupied as an ambassador…”
She bit her lip. “Oh. Right.”
“My men here can still help you train,” Sir Kalman said.
“Yeah I doubt you’d want to train back on Earth so-”
She interrupted me, “Can I? Train on Earth, I mean? With those guns and… powers.”
“Well we kind of just rescued you…” I began. But I could understand wanting to fight, for various reasons. “I guess I could bug someone. Maybe Squad Ten? He should know how to train without powers.”
Or maybe someone in New Bay? That would keep her away from where she’d been held against her will. Coming up with a reason to bring a random person to Earth was going to be a pain though.
“Here,” Antiele held out cups of water to Sir Kalman and I. We naturally began drinking them.
“Wait… shouldn’t we be the ones calling for a break?” I asked
“I know when people are tired. Including myself,” Antiele said. “So I would have had to refuse if you tried to push me past my current acceptable limits.”
The water was refreshing. More than just cold water had any right to be. The tingle of mana. “Is this a skill? It reminds me of Meztli’s power…” She also used her ability to help people train. But that wasn’t all. “Surely the director class has to have some sort of ability enhancement?”
Antiele nodded. “I can boost both power and endurance of others.”
“Just others?” I asked. “Not yourself?”
“Well I… never really thought about it.”
“Don’t you work with your subordinates or whatever?” I asked.
“There is sufficient labor involved with what I do already,” she said defensively. “I help the entire village, so I need to remain in a central location for the most part.”
“So…?” I gestured. “Are you going to try?”
I felt a small flow of mana. Somewhere around five mana, perhaps, a bit more than Energy Ward. It was actually closer to Sonic Lance, but they were quite different flows of mana.
“… It does seem to work,” Antiele said. “But I am afraid that even with this, I would still be lacking in power compared to someone with the right kind of class.”
“Then don’t stop with just one thing,” I said.
“Indeed,” Sir Kalman added. “As a knight, I don’t merely make use of my weapon skills, Smite, or physical training. They’re all part of the same thing. I could defeat a great number of lower level thugs without any special abilities. Even without weapons or armor. You might not have Power Strike, but the principles behind it can still allow you to swing a weapon. We train all new recruits the same regardless of what level they are and what skills they plan to pick up.”
We finished our rest and Sir Kalman handed her the training weapon. Instead of dealing with a dummy, he just had her directly attack him. It might have been demoralizing, but he at least let her blows push him back to look like they had some impact. Then he would demonstrate proper technique again, and the process would repeat.
“The difference between a proper swing and a Power Strike is significant, but the same could be said of this training weapon and a real blade. So if I do a Power Strike here…” he swung what was basically a fancy stick down upon a training dummy, and cracked it in two. “With a real weapon and a good angle, you can do the same. Go ahead and give it a try,” he said, once more gesturing to himself.
Antiele took her stance. Her windup was a bit slow to be practical in combat, but the flow of mana around her was quite good. There was a ringing sound from Sir Kalman’s helmet as he took a step back.
“Look at that, lass,” he said. “A mighty good blow.” He actually looked a bit uncomfortable. And I felt him using a bit of his healing magic.
Mana. “Antiele. Could you… see if there’s anything new in your status window?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” she asked. “Experience only changes slowly, for someone like me,” she said. But I could see her eyes moving around, clearly complying. My ears picked up some muttering as she looked it over. “Ally Technique? Lesser Power Strike?”
Yeah that made sense. It wasn’t like Sir Kalman was the only one who went through a portal.