It took about a month for me to level up. It wasn’t as fast as it could have been, but nobody was keen to go back into the minotaur dungeon. Since that was the case we hunted monsters around Ekralas, doing a few quests that took us a handful of days from the capitol. There might have been better quests elsewhere, but we needed to stay in Ekralas so the Great Sage could help with my condition. Beyond that, we were also gathering information on druids who might know how to regenerate Kasner. While going into Fepresil to find one was a nice thought, the odds of success without preparation was rather small. We would also need money to pay them- though they might prefer we do them a favor. Even so, Kantrilla and I still needed money to work on our gear, since we had lost it all. Perhaps it was still sitting in a basement in Escait or sold. Either way, we didn’t have it.
I went to see the Great Sage again, as planned. I knocked on his office door, since I was allowed to go directly to see him. It seemed like a great privilege, but there was no reason to not take advantage of it. He was the one who gave me the pass, after all. “Yes, who is it?”
“Sage Norwood, it’s Llyr Merrick.”
“Oh, Llyr! Come in!”
As I opened the door I saw him shuffling papers off to the side of his desk, and he pulled some more papers out of a drawer. “Greetings, Sage Norwood.”
“Greetings. It is good to see you again.” He looked me over, “By the look on your face, I imagine things went poorly?”
“My level went down again.”
“A shame… but at least I didn’t waste my preparations. I have some ideas that might shed some more light on the situation. First… did it take the same amount of experience as going from level 11 to level 12?”
“Well,” I shrugged, “Something like it anyway. It’s hard to measure exactly.”
“Indeed…” he scribbled a few lines on one of the papers, then stood up. “I have made some preparations in the lab. Let’s go.”
He walked off, and I followed. He was surprisingly mobile for an old man, but that could have been due to magic… or levels, perhaps. A hundred attribute points devoted to physical attributes would mean one wouldn’t drop below average even as one got old. Unless things worked differently with age, anyway. Nobody had mentioned that.
“Here we are,” we stepped into a room with a large amount of alchemical equipment, “I just need to put the last few ingredients in. Didn’t want it to lose its potency.”
“Oh… what is it?” I asked.
“Think of it as a… diagnostic potion. Presumably there are lingering traces of the deleving potion that are causing you trouble. This will help determine if that is the issue or if it’s something else.”
“What else could it be?”
He shrugged, “No idea. So hopefully it’s related to the potion. Otherwise this will take much longer. Now then, give me a few moments.” Sage Norwood took a few drops of various liquids and gently mixed them into the vial, swirling it around and tapping it a few times. He held it up to peer through it. “Now then, drink this and it should tell us something. Try to swallow quickly.”
I took the small vial that contained only a few ounces of bluish-green potion. As I poured it into my mouth, I knew why he said to swallow quickly. It tasted awful, like… well, like the sorts of things that one heard went into potions. I didn’t actually see any eyes of newt or anything, and the liquid was translucent enough to see there were no chunks, but it didn’t assuage my taste buds as I swallowed. “Blech. How do we know if it worked?”
“Now we wait a few minutes for the potion to get into your bloodstream. Sit down over there.” So I sat on the indicated chair, and we waited. “Alright, now, try not to move too much.” In a moment I felt magic flowing through me. It didn’t feel anything like healing magic, but it was also very different from lightning or fire magic. It was more ticklish or itchy than painful, but it wasn’t exactly pleasant either. Sage Norwood nodded, “Well, that confirms it. The deleveling potion is still in your system.”
“How? Doesn’t it normally… go away?”
He tilted his head back and forth, “Well, it certainly hasn’t caused anyone to go into negative levels before. A few people have leveled up normally afterwards, though since they didn’t go back into adventuring that was months or years later. It could still be related to being an otherworlder… but there’s also a possibility that obtaining more experience while it was still in your system prevented it from fading away properly. It might still do that, but we’ll have to measure how much of it remains in the future.”
“Right, so… what should I do?”
“Come back in another month and I’ll measure the levels of it again. Beyond that, I can’t say anything for certain. I might be able to create something to counteract the effects, but if normalizes on its own it would be better for your system. I can’t guarantee something I make would have no side effects.” Sage Norwood scratched his chin, “On the chance that obtaining larger amounts of experience cause it to stay in your system longer, perhaps it is best if you don’t do any adventuring for the next month. I can’t be sure it will make a difference, of course, and it would be an inconvenience to your party, but that is my advice.”
I sighed, “It makes sense to try though. It’s not like I can’t train though, right?”
“That should be fine. Just avoid absorbing experience from monsters.”
“Thanks for your help,” I bowed. I was somewhat disappointed that he didn’t have an immediate solution. Not in him, just in reality. Even if it was a strange reality that had levels that could also go into the negatives.