Chapter 31: Gifts
Derek went in the direction where Brandi and her mother had been relocated to before he left. He was hoping that they were still at the same spot. If not, he would just have to go ask the chief.
Soon, he arrived at the area where he was surprised to find Thomas. He was sitting on a bench with his back turned to Derek. Oh, I wonder who that boy is. It looks like Thomas has a friend. Derek looked at the shorter boy patting Thomas on the back. It seemed that he was trying to comfort him.
Soon, Dereks face had an odd expression. They seem to be kind of… close. Hmm… I never suspected… The boy with the shaved head had put his arm around Thomas and sat beside him. Derek chuckled. Well, whatever, good for him. Finally, he decided to make his appearance known.
“Oi! Thomas. Im back.” With that, the two boys jumped off the bench and turned around. He saw Thomass face as normal, but when the other boy turned around, he realized who it was. Holy shit, Thomas! What did you do to the poor girl? As soon as he recognized Brandi, he had known that Thomas must have talked her into letting him use the Mana Clippers on her.
Pushing down his laughter, he tried to act as casually as possible. “Uh, Thomas… Brandi… How are the two of you?” He asked.
Thomas was clearly excited to see him, but the nearly bald Brandi was the first to act. She ran up to Derek and began telling him about the last month. “Guess what? I got my Leatherworking skill all the way up to level 5. Thats almost the highest in the village. I ran out of hide, but I was able to break my crafts down and reused them over and over. I cant do that anymore because none of the hides can withstand doing it again, but still, isnt that great? It is, right? Right?”
Brandi unloaded on Derek. He was waiting to finally get another word in. “Oh? Thats fantastic! You didnt have a hard time working with the higher level hides?” He asked.
“Oh, that? Well, I did. But after straining and finally completing a craft, my skill leveled, and it became easier for me to work. I dont have any good knives, so I had to go slow in the beginning until the skill leveled.” She answered with enthusiasm.
“Ah, I should have thought about that.” Derek shook his hand and one of his many knives appeared in his hand. “Its not made for Leatherworking, but it was made by a level 85 smith, and its sharp, so it should help you for now.” He handed the common-looking knife to Brandi. “Be careful.” He warned.
Excited, she ran over to one of her finished products and tried cutting it. It sliced through the odd-looking pants like it was nothing. “Oh my System!” She exclaimed. “This is amazing! its so sharp.” She looked back at Derek. “Can I really keep it?”
“Of course, I gave it to you, so its yours.” Derek smiled. “Besides, it will probably help you a lot with these.” He shook his hand and a pile of hides appeared on the bench she was previously sitting on.
“No way!” She ran over to the hides. “I can have them? Really?” After looking at all of them, she asked. “What level are they? More 20s? Maybe 30s?”
Derek shook his head, seeing her running around with the knife. He had told her to be careful, but seeing how excited she was, he could not say anything. “There may be a few 20s or 30s.” He paused to see the sparkle in her eyes, then dropped the bomb. “But most are around level 50, and there are some 60s and should be even on level 70 hide.”
The sparkle in her eyes turned into a greedy gleam as she sucked in a breath and stared at the hides. Finally, she came back to herself and ran over to Derek, this time giving him a big embrace. He quickly moved the creature in his hand away from the girl. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Derek felt the knife stab on his thigh, but it didnt break his skin, so he did not say anything. Well, some people like wearing jeans with holes in them. Beggars cant be choosers. Brandi finally broke away, and he spoke. “Ill tell you what. If you can get your Leatherworking skill above level ten, Ill help you get a class. Then, once you have a crafting class, I have a special project you can help me with.” He stuck out his hand. “Deal?”
Brandi looked at his hand curiously. “Um… You grab a hold and shake it. Its how we make deals where Im from.” Derek said. Brand nodded her head violently. She reached out with her free hand and shook.
Finally, Derek looked over to Thomas. “What about you, boy? Youve been real quiet over there.”
Thomas woke up from his trance. “Ah… Uh… Im fine.” He said.
Then Brandi chimed in. “Hes not fine! His birthday was days ago, but hes been sulking because he was waiting on you to get back to unlock the Great System. Also, hes a maniac.” She pointed to her head. “This is a trim! He said that I had so much hair that I wouldnt miss a little. By the time he was finished, this is all I had left. And Im not the only one.”
Derek watched as Thomass cheeks turned red, and he looked at the ground in embarrassment. “I said Im sorry. I got carried away, is all.” Thomas spoke while staring at his shoes.
“Well, whats done is done.” Derek got closer to Thomas and bent down to whisper in his ear. “Never mess with a woman and her beauty. Youre lucky you can even walk after pulling that.” He warned.
Thomas nodded his head in understanding. “Dont worry, never again. It was really scary.” He whispered back.
Derek backed away and gave Thomas a serious look. Thomass eyes widened in surprise at the change. “Did you think more about what we talked about before I left?” Derek asked.
“Yes.” Thomas replied with no hesitation. “Im going to become an adventurer. I have to get strong. I cant stay in this village forever.”
“Good.” Derek nodded. “Follow me.” He looked at Brandi. “Well be back soon. Have fun.” He walked towards the closest village wall. Luckily, it was not too far from where they were.
Once standing at the wall, Derek picked Thomas up and jumped over the wall. Then he started to run.
A dozen kilometers away from the village, Derek stopped running and put Thomas down. This is as good a spot as any. Derek backed away to let Thomas reorient himself.
When Thomas was finally stable again, Derek spoke. “Thomas. You have made it clear that you plan to leave the safety of your village and grow stronger. Ive been alone for a very long time, and honestly, its getting pretty old. When I leave, would you like to come with me?”
Thomas was in shock. Adventure with Derek? Is he serious? He was very emotional at the moment. What would grandpa say? What about Grandma? Finally, Thomas was able to rein in his emotions. “You would let me travel with you?” He asked.
“I wouldnt have asked if that werent the case.” Derek replied.
“I… I… Of course.” How strong would I be able to become with Derek? The possibilities were flowing through Thomass mind as he spoke.
“Good. But before that, there are some things that you will need to agree on.” Derek spoke.
Thomas stared at Derek, waiting for him to speak. Derek nodded his head.
“Traveling with me, you will learn many secrets about me, and other things. I need to know that you wont share these things with anyone.” Derek said seriously.
“Of course.” Said Thomas.
“No, I dont think you understand. The things you may learn will be world shaking. I dont want some half-assed answer. Really think about it. You may learn some things that others will kill you for.”
Thomas thought for a bit. What kind of things does he know? It doesnt matter, he can help me get strong. “I want to go with you.” This time, Thomas said so with resolve.
“Another thing, I will help you, and try to save you when needed, but you will need to fight and kill like youre by yourself. I dont want you to rely on others. The only person you can count on in this world is yourself.” Derek warned.
“I know. I want to get stronger so I wont have to rely on other people.” Thomas said.
“Good. If I tell you to do something, you do it. Is that understood? No questioning me.”
Thomas did not reply immediately. He was thinking about whether Derek could ask him to do something bad. “Dont worry. Im not evil, Im not necessarily good, but definitely not evil. If I tell you to do something, there is a reason for it.”
This comforted him more. “Okay.”
With that, Derek took out a dagger and tossed it on the ground in front of Thomas. “Pick it up. Its made by the same person that made my glaive.”
Thomas slowly reached down and picked up the blade. When he had the blade in hand, he looked back at Derek. “Now what?”
Derek chuckled. “Now, we unlock your system.” He held out the chipmunk-like creature. “But before that. Derek cast Rejuvenation on the monster. “Got to top it up, so it has full health when you kill it.”
After 30 seconds passed, Derek held the creature up with both hands. It was struggling, but not enough to hurt itself. “Kill it.”
Thomas nodded. He did not waste any time and drove the dagger into the chest of the creature. It was not easy. Even with the sharp blade, once it pierced the skin, it moved slowly. Pushing with all his might, the dagger finally broke through the creatures defenses.
Soon, Thomas let go of the blade. He just looked up at Derek in stunned silence. “Well, did it work?” Derek asked.
Thomas slowly nodded. “I-it was over level 50. H-how was I able to kill it?” Thomas asked.
Derek smiled. “Like I said, that blade was made from the same smith that made my glaive. Its my sharpest one.” Derek pulled the blade from the chipmunk and proceeded to Dismantle it. “So, how many skill points do you have?”
“I have three.” Thomas replied happily.
“Good, youre only going to have one soon.” Said Derek, confusing Thomas. Derek smiled. “Like I said, do what I say. One point on Meditation and one on Identify.” He waited.
After a couple of minutes, Thomas finally replied. “Okay. Its done.”
“Hey, dont feel bad. Meditation is one of the most powerful skills available in the system and Identify lets you keep your stats private.” Derek tried to cheer Thomas up.
“Now, do you know what kind of class you want? Tanky with big weapons and armor. Swift and agile. Mage. What are you thinking?” Derek asked.
Thomas was silent for a while. “I want to be fast. To be able to hit things and not be hit back.” This was his answer.
“Oh, alright. Then you should spend your last point in Light Weapons Mastery. This will let you be more proficient with knives, daggers, and even short swords. But, make sure that is what you want, you wont be able to change it. Though, you will probably end up with a few extra skill points down the line, it is still better to try not to waste any.”
Thomas nodded his head. “Im sure thats what I want. I want to use daggers.”
“Oh, plural? You want to dual wield?” Derek asked.
“Well, theres no dual wielding mastery in general skill, so youre going to have to hope for a good class for that. Now, youre level three. Put 15 points in Vitality and in Endurance. You need to be able to survive before you can kill. This isnt a video game, you can min-max, but not at the beginning.” Derek said with confidence.
“Video game? Min-max?” Thomas stared dumbly.
“Uh, dont mind that.” Derek said. “Once youre done, were heading back to the village.”
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