We spent the next week cleaning out the remaining dire boars in the area. It was obvious why they needed to be dealt with. When we could follow them just by the fallen trees and ruined landscape, they were a disaster for the forest. One of them would be bad enough- three was worse, and the dozen total we killed was enough to ruin a good part of the forest over the course of a few months. The real problem would have been next year- with new dire boar offspring, their numbers and devastation would increase. We weren’t supremely confident we found all of the dire boars, perhaps there were some in the deep forest… but the immediate problem was solved, and the bounds of the quest were more than fulfilled. Hazelbury also had plenty of boar meat now. By that we of course meant they had way too much boar meat. There was enough to feed the entire population of two hundred for a year… but they couldn’t eat just boar. Still, they could sell some of the meat and skins. They would make a profit off of what they had paid us, but on the other hand we could make more money during those weeks that it took them to prepare the meat and skins. Adventuring was profitable if dangerous business.
On our way back towards Ekralas, I noticed something. “Hmm…” I frowned, observing my status window.
“What is it?” Kantrilla asked, “Did you… level up?” She couldn’t see my status window, but people got this sort of unfocused look in their eyes when they were looking at it. Plus, Kantrilla knew me well enough to guess what I was thinking about much of the time anyway.
“Not… exactly.” I shook my head. “I leveled down again. -16 now.”
“What?” Kantrilla said shocked, “I thought the Great Sage fixed that.”
“He did. Sorta.” I nodded, “My level went down… but I didn’t get any negative bonus attribute points so… I’m still at zero. That means I’m better off than I was, anyway.”
Kasner shook his head, “There’s crazy stuff going on with you. Even partially solving that problem was a big accomplishment. I wouldn’t expect the first or even second treatment to be perfect.”
“Yeah, I know.” It was impressive that he had done something. On Earth, new medicines had to be tested on hundreds of people for them to even be sure if something was helping. Here, we could sort of see the results, but knowing what might work in a new, unique situation was mostly guessing- educated guessing, but still. “I’ll need to go talk to him again.”
“Fascinating,” Sage Norwood listened to my explanation. “I suppose my concoction didn’t completely work. However, I don’t think making something new would be a good idea at this point either. While leveling down might be somewhat… problematic… for you, it could use more study. At least you aren’t getting any weaker.” Sage Norwood shook his head, “Honestly, I can’t think of what else I would do. There aren’t any legitimate leveling potions- at best some use bits and pieces from high level monsters and hope the experience seeps into people that way. Since experience is doing this to you, that wouldn’t help out at all- and it wouldn’t even be fast.”
“Yeah… I don’t know what to do. I can keep up with my party now but… I could be so much more useful. If I was stronger…” Just thinking about it, if I were the same level as the rest of the party I would be at almost 900 Strength, if I had my bonus points- and eight hundred wouldn’t be bad either.
“That’s right, but there’s more to this. Remember, you don’t have a class right now. That actually provides some opportunity.” Sage Norwood stroked his beard, “Remember, in addition to making someone grow faster in certain areas, classes also restrict growth in other areas. For example, you’ve gotten to the second level in most types of magic now, right? You couldn’t do that while you were a Martial Adept, at least not easily. You also learned Rage. Now, specialization can be quite useful… but diversity is useful as well. As a Martial Adept, you trained in many types of weapons. Now, you can add even more to your arsenal, just not weapons. For example, training Intelligence, Wisdom, and Willpower will be easier. That will increase the effectiveness of magic and magic type skills.” Sage Norwood was grinning, “Even if you don’t use magic in combat, increased efficiency in your use of mana can only be a good thing. Normally people without a class are young and will quickly grow into a class when training, so this is a good chance… for me, at least. For you, I can at least offer money and my promise to try to make things better for you.” Sage Norwood nodded, “I won’t do anything you don’t want, of course, but I do hear you could use some money for a wedding…”
He was right about that. The problem with trying to save up money while adventuring was it did cost some money- to maintain equipment and buy new equipment to make it more efficient and safer. Earning money where nothing was trying to kill me was a good idea, and I did like the idea of having more options. If I could use Martial Trance longer or Piercing Throw- the skill name had changed somehow- as much as I wanted at high power, I could be more effective in combat. I just wasn’t sure how to train mental attributes besides perhaps performing magic. “Well, I suppose I could.” I did still wish I could just level up like normal.
“I see what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, I won’t stop trying to help you recover… but one theory I have we just have to wait and see.” Sage Norwood shrugged, “I suppose there’s no point being secret. Perhaps you have to get to the negative of the highest level you reached… though I don’t know whether your bonus attribute points will throw that number off.”
“So I might need to get to level -18… or -28?”
He shrugged, “Maybe. Maybe I just fixed the negative attributes, and your level will continue to decline. I don’t think that it does much without the attribute points involved, except class advancement.”
“Alright. Let’s continue to work together.” Honestly, I was glad he was so helpful. I could easily imagine him requiring me to pay him for all this help. Then again, maybe it was because I was also an Otherworlder… or maybe he just liked me. I could definitely see him charging someone he didn’t like tons of money for dubious help.