170 Chapter 167 The Gnomish Town
"Dad, we are leaving in the morning to find the gnomes again. What was it you wanted to talk to me about?"
"Son, when do you think you and Stella will be getting married?"
"Dad, even you?"
"I'm not trying to rush you son, I just want an estimate."
"I'm not sure dad. It all depends on Stella. I'm not going to until she's ready."
"That is admirable but you've already had 10 years together and 9 completely unsupervised."
"Yep, and it may take another 10 or 100, I don't know. Wizar life spans are 4 times what a human would have, so you and mom should both be just fine in 100 years."
"I'll never make it that long with your mother, son."
"Listen, dad. Stella was hunted down by men, at least every week, sometimes several times a week, as a child. Ever since she was 4 or 5. The neighborhood boys had intentions too. It's a lot of trauma."
"And you can't just fix it with magic?"
"I took away her scars when I was adding her tattoos, but no dad."
"Stella has tattoos?"
"I could fix her mind with magic, but she is trying to overcome it on her own. I know she loves me and she knows I love her. I told her after the wedding we are doing the whole honeymoon thing until she can't get out of bed. I don't want any, I'm not really ready, shavist. Go means go. I'm sure I would stop myself if she really freaked out and started crying, but that would totally ruin the moment for us."
"You and her really did talk this out."
"Absolutely. She's the love of my lives and my best friend. When we make love the first time, it is going to be epic. I refuse to let it be anything else, by rushing her. Even for you and mom."
"No, I understand son. I'm proud of you. I don't think I could have spent 10 years with your mother and still held myself back at all."
Joseph shrugged. "I know everyone already assumes Stella was used for that, since we were children."
"I'll keep your mom off your back as best I can."
Joseph shook his head as he arrived back in his study. Stella was still sitting on the bench reading her book, but Joseph knew that she was waiting for him to tell her what was going on. She could feel his annoyance through their link.
"Everyone has settled down for now. Nidhogg has been busy counting coins. The system should keep going and Daisy can contact me for emergencies. I can't shake the feeling I'm forgetting something, but since that is actually impossible, it must just be nerves."
"So, we're leaving now? I thought we were leaving in the morning?" she asked, closing her book and setting it down.
"I think now is a wonderful time to leave, before some other shavist comes up to stop us. I did an orbital visit, and found the gnome towns, so I know where we're going."
"Joseph! You shouldn't do things like that without me!"
"Sorry, Stella, but I wanted to double check, because it didn't make sense that I didn't see them last time."
"So, why did you miss them last time?" she asked, rising up from the bench and stepping next to him.
"Clouds," he said, grumpily, taking her hand.
"This is the city you saw?" asked Stella, looking around at the people who had paused what they were doing, to stare at them.
"Yes, one of three."
The results he got from his spell didn't look right. Maybe it had an error?
These people didn't look like gnomes, because they weren't completely gnomes.
"Joseph, why so surprised?" asked Stella, as he shook his head.
"This can't be right…"
"That doesn't… maybe? Stella, I think they are mixed."
"They have gnome, dwarf, elf, a lesser fey than your tribe, a little orc, possibly goblin, but only traces, so I'm not certain, and at least some lycanthropy, but it appears to have mutated and gone dormant."
"Ok. So, what does that mean?" she asked, as the people started to whisper to each other. Thankfully none of them were close enough to hear them.
"I have no idea."
"Maybe a few survivors got together and got lonely?"
"I can't imagine an orc and either an elf or a dwarf getting together." He gave her a look, then shook his head at the idea.
"Well, after a few generations, they probably looked different enough. They definitely aren't human though," she said.
"They look a lot like weird humans, odd skin color and slightly short, but still human. Well, let's go meet them. I can't imagine they get visitors often."
"Or ever," Stella muttered.
"They might have new dishes to try," Joseph suggested.
"Joseph, what do you think of me, that you immediately suggest food, to tempt me into a new place?"
"That you like eating tasty things, that aren't fish?"
She shook her head, then grinned and said, "Fair enough."
Guards had arrived by then, and several were approaching them. Stella's face quickly returned to neutral before they arrived.
GIFT OF TONGUES.
"Who are you? How did you come from the plain of storms?" asked one of the guards.
"Are you elves from the forest of death, like in the stories?" asked a little kid from behind them.
Joseph was surprised. She was cute. It was surprising with the little tusks, but she was able to pull it off. Her dad had bigger tusks, but the mom had pointed teeth instead.
"Can I speak to your leader? We come from past the plains and elven forest. I am a Wizar and this is my companion, an ancient fey. We are both pure bloods," said Joseph, calmly.
The pure blood comment seemed to startle them more than any of the rest of his comments.
"Right this way," said the guard, turning to lead them.
(JOSEPH, USE ANALYZE CREATURE ON 10% OF THE CITY.)
(MISSION: ANALYZE 10% OF THE CITY'S POPULATION.)
(REWARD: ABILITY TO USE LIFE POINTS TO ALTER THE WIZAR TEMPLATE RACE FOR TEN TIMES COST OF MODIFYING YOURSELF, WHEN PURCHASING NEW ABILITIES.)
(SO, REALLY IT'S ONLY 9.87 TIMES, BUT I'M KEEPING THE CHANGE. YOU HAVE OVER 3.5 MILLION WIZAR YOU KNOW.)
Joseph said, 'What's up with the mission? I accept, by the way."
(THEY AREN'T HYBRIDS WITH HUMANS. EVERY REALM HAS MINOR DEVIATIONS BETWEEN ELVES AND DWARVES ETC. IF THEY EVEN HAVE THEM OF COURSE. I'VE NEVER SEEN SO MANY RACES BLENDED TOGETHER, WITHOUT HUMAN AS THE MAJORITY, TO ACT AS A KIND OF GLUE. THINK OF THE MISSION REWARD AS MORE OF A, 'I CAN'T DO THIS WITHOUT STUDYING HOW THEY WERE ABLE TO CREATE VIABLE CHILDREN'. IT'S WHAT YOU WERE ASKING FOR ANYWAY AFTER ALL.)
"Alright. I'm on it, Joseph."
"No problem. We are interested in what we can do with the knowledge too, if it excites the system so much after all."
"Joseph, what's going on?" Stella asked, giving him one of her looks.
"I just got a really nice mission. It will let me use points on my entire race for ten times the cost. Our children will be even more awesome."
Stella turned away, but the tips of her ears are a little red and she feels rather happy…and exasperated.
"You don't have to be so happy about it," she muttered.
(JOSEPH, WHEN YOU BUILD YOUR CAPITAL, DESIGN THE STREETS IN THE SHAPE OF A RUNE.)
'Hmm. That makes sense, but why the sudden advice?'
(ONE OF MY OTHER USERS JUST READ A BOOK, WHERE THAT HAPPENED. I WOULDN'T NORMALLY SUGGEST IT, BUT EVEN THOUGH ORIGIN WORDS ARE MEANT TO BE SPOKEN, YOU HAVE SUCH A HIGH COMPETENCE IN DRAWING THE RUNES I THINK YOU CAN PULL IT OFF.)
'Ok. I'll have to wait until I find my personal rune first. I want META before I design a rune to represent me. I've been considering it since I first discovered LIFE.'
(I DON'T THINK ANYONE HAS EVER SUCCEEDED AT MAKING A PERSONAL RUNE LIKE YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. IF SO, IT IS IN A REALM I HAVE NEVER ACCESSED.)
'That's fine. It's only a vague feeling. Like the feeling that if I buy META from you with points, I'll never be as powerful as I want to be.'
(I ADMIT, I HAVE NO OTHER RECORDS OF A SINGLE MAGE BEFRIENDING ALL OF THE RUNES INSTEAD OF TRYING TO MASTER, OR DOMINATE THEM. ONLY A HANDFUL OF EXAMPLES OF BEINGS LIKE SELENA, WHERE THEY DEVOTE THEMSELVES TO ONE, EXIST.)
'Yeah, if Selena hadn't taught me to think about the runes as alive, when I was just starting, I'm not sure I would have.'
"Walking this far, is surprisingly boring, Joseph," complained Stella.
"Yeah, but we are almost there. Teleporting, or flying, seems like we would freak out the locals. I can barely find any with magery. They have a lot of dormant magical bloodlines, but almost no actual mages."
"Fine," grumbled Stella, with a shrug, pulling out vanilla sugar cookies, and handing him one.
"If we weren't so active, we'd be fat," he said with a grin.