I am not British nor Bioware.
Here is the next chapter of my previously patty on only HP/Gamer/Baldur's Gate story. The next will be out on Christmas, before going silent for a while. In other news, the poll on if I should post my two chapter teaser Heroes Of the High Seas, a My Hero Academia/One Piece crossover, is closed. Everyone decided that being so teased, with no hope of seeing more, would be unwelcome to the majority of my readers, which is why you'll be seeing a third chapter of this story and two more chapters of Making Waves.
This has been edited by myself and Grammarly. Hopefully there won't be enough mistakes within to harm your enjoyment of the chapter.
Chapter 2: Crazy girls and a New Journey
Harry could only gape in shock at the person in front of him who was currently wearing the form of Imoen. But from that simple statement, Harry knew the person within that body was certainly not Harry's supposed 'best friend' in this world-game-whatever. He wasn't sad about that or worried, though. Thanks to the way the tutorial world seemed to force them to stay apart, Harry hadn't gotten to know much about Imoen, regardless of his background story in this world before Harry's arrival within it.
No, it was the other aspect of this that was astonishing. After all, no one here would ever use the term 'tilt-a-whirl' or even know what it meant. And 'bloody hell' was a British phrase, one he'd not heard since coming to this world.
For a moment, the shock of this caused Harry to simply stare at whoever this was, unable to respond.
For her part, Tonks was still dealing with internal issues. Her body just felt wrong in a way that Tonks had never felt before. And since she was a fully trained Metamorph, that was saying something. But the changes were not ones that she had ever felt before, both mental and physical. It was as if something was missing or something out of reach. Her balance was all wrong, yet right at the same time. Her body felt right, but Tonks wasn't feeling at home in it. That's it really, she thought, it's as if my body has instincts, and my head has instincts, and they're fighting.
Finding herself in the arms of a tall, somewhat handsome stranger, with long black hair and a face with high cheekbones and smile lines around his mouth was another issue. Most of the time, Tonks wouldn't have any issues with such an arrangement. Tonks was a flirt, and she even knew she had a bit of a type, which this guy met pretty well: tall, well-muscled, and with a sense of humor. Thank you, Charlie Weasley.
But at the moment, other things took precedence over what the guy looked like. First were the guy's emerald eyes, which were a little disconcerting. The second was the gape-mouthed look of astonishment he was wearing and the fact that he was also wearing what looked like medieval clothing. Robes she could've ignored; those were a normal wizardly thing. But leggings, pantaloons, and a leather jerkin under a chest plate of armor? Not so normal. Renaissance Faire sort of abnormal, in fact.
"What did you just say?" the man asked, having recovered while Tonks was examining his clothing.
Somewhat surprised that the big guy spoke English, Imoen pushed away from him. However, in so doing, Tonks stumbled, a sign of her instincts and her body trying to tell her two different things.
Harry put his arm around her, studying her and looking intently into the girl's face. "What did you just say?" he asked again.
"Back off, scruffy," Imoen grumbled, smacking him on the chest with an arm, then wincing at the impact to his metal chest plate. Despite that, she continued. "I'm not some damsel in distress waiting around for Prince Charming Mic'Scruffy ta sweep me off me feet."
"I've been called many things, but Prince Charming has never been one of them," Harry said dryly. "Now, are you going to answer my question or not, Imoen? Or do you have another name I should call you?"
"Imoen? Who's that?" Tonks grumbled, trying to step away again and finding her balance this time. "My name's Tonks. Wherever that thing sent me, that hasn't changed."
"Well, 'Tonks'," Harry snorted, pointing down at her body. "I'd say either you hit your head, or something went wrong wherever you were before this. Because you are wearing the body of Imoen, a young woman who I know pretty well."
Imoen/Tonks looked down at herself, and Harry watched as her eyes widened. She frantically patted her chest, then closed her eyes and concentrated, looking as if she was constipated. Harry couldn't stop himself from laughing at that, the sheer hilarity of her face adding to the moment.
Tonks glared up at him, reaching for her waist only to pause in shock as she realized not only was her body different, but she was wearing different clothing. And she couldn't change her body! To a Metamorph, that was as unusual as someone being able to cross their eyes or stretch. The only thing she seemed able to do was to change her hair color.
"Where's me wand, you plonker?!" The now pink-haired girl shouted, getting into a fighting stance, fists cocked back.
Seeing this, Harry backed away, holding his hands up peaceably. "Now hold on, I have no idea where your wand is, I..."
To say that Imoen was a bit headstrong was an understatement. To say that Tonks was a bit headstrong was also an understatement. So whether it was physical or mental, both of them were very prone to quick reactions. That was whyTonks punched out hard for Harry's face before he could finish speaking. She had been trained somewhat in unarmed combat, mainly by her father, who was an amateur pugilist in his spare time for exercise purposes. Her partner Moody had also been a firm believer in training both the body and the mind.
As such, it was a classic right hook, well thrown. And it should have laid out the big bloke in front of Tonks, smacking into his jaw with punishing force at just the right angle to make him see stars. Instead, he dodged back at the last second, and Tonks was so unused to her new body that she overextended.
This allowed the man to grab Tonks' wrist and push her further off-balance before trying to back away. Tonks' next punch took him in the chest, but he just took it on her his mail, twisted, and then grabbed at her arm again. The big guy wasn't very skilled, but he was fast, and before Tonks could get away, he pulled her into a bear hug around the waist, lifting her off the ground, holding her there.
She tried to headbutt him, but he lifted her too high into the air, and Tonks couldn't contort her neck at enough of an angle to do it. She tried to lift her knees, but he twisted his waist, removing her target.
This left Tonks basically flailing in his arms, kicking at his shins. This caused no damage as far she could tell, although Tonks saw yellow and green flashes appear to one side of her line of sight. It joined many other square things there, mostly yellow, green and orange, which she hadn't noticed appearing before this. Now Tonks continued to ignore them like they had been the little flashing lights people got when they looked into the sun or squinted too hard.
A saner individual might have wondered about them since they had stayed there for so long after she had recovered herself sufficiently to throw a punch. But Tonks was not most individuals.
Other individuals might've also noticed that they were in the middle of what looked like a giant library and comported themselves accordingly. This might even have stopped them from throwing a punch in the first place.
Again, Tonks was not such an individual. She kicked and screeched, shouting, "Let me go you, you big oaf! Where's me wand?! I'll hex you into next week!"
"You're, oww, you're making a scene," Harry grunted, as he lost a point of health. Her kicks to his shins weren't doing much damage individually, but she was kicking him so often that ten kicks piled up soon, equaling to -1 to his health bar. Even so, Harry simply kept up his bear hug, making very certain to keep his body twisted at the waist.
She tried to wiggle out of it. But Imoen's body simply wasn't strong enough to get away from Harry now that he had her in his grip, and she'd had been too disoriented earlier to use her own agility, which Harry thought was a bit higher than his own, to dodge him. At least it should be if she's still a thief like Imoen was.
Realizing other people were around them, Tonks raised her voice. "Help! Rape! Get him off me!"
This did not broker the response that it should have. More than one of the robe-wearing individuals she now noticed all around them turned to her, glaring and even shushing her, raising their fingers to their mouths to indicate that she should be quiet. Others simply laughed, shaking their heads. One of them even said, "if you two are going to roughhouse, kindly take her outside, Harry."
The name Harry pulled Tonks up short, and she stared at the man who had spoken before looking down at the man who was holding her in the air. "Harry? You can't be Harry!"
Narrowing his eyes up at her, Harry shook his head and tossed Imoen over one shoulder before smartly saluting the man who had spoken. "Yes, sir. Taking her outside right now, sir."
That won another round of chuckles from a few of those watching the show but even more censorious shushing from the majority. Before Tonks could try to say anything further, the large man holding her, who seemed to have the name Harry in what had to be a coincidence, was carrying her out of this's library portion and into a hallway.
"I might not look like old Harry, but that's who I am, miss. Whereas you look like Imoen, who everyone here knows is my best friend. So why don't we stop trying to fight one another and go somewhere where we can talk without being overheard?" Harry asked, then added a plaintive, "Please?" as Imoen somehow kicked a little higher than she had before.
Realizing she couldn't get out of the guy's grip and that she might have once more put her foot in it, Tonks scowled but nodded her head. "Fine, just put me down, will you?"
"You promise not to try and thump me anymore?" the man retorted, looking up at her face from a few inches below her own.
"Fine, I promise," Tonks grumbled.
The man gently set her on her feet and even held her shoulders until she found her balance before backing away quickly. The two of them stared at one another for a moment, then the man gestured down the corridor. "Come on, my room's this way."
"Already inviting a lady back to your room? Don't you think we should exchange names first?" Tonks quipped, using humor to cover a new sense of unease.
But that unease vanished instantly as the man in front of her blushed, looking away quickly and actually backing away another step. "Ack, n-N, none of that, I, I mean your good-looking and all but no, I..."
"Enough," Imoen said with a laugh. "Good grief, you'd think that you'd never talked to girls before?"
Harry scowled at that, his embarrassment disappearing. "Well, considering I've only been able to have conversations with girls outside of one particular girl back home since I arrived here, and before that, I thought of girls as just guys with odd bodies, I think I'm doing pretty well,"
"I'll be the judge of that, and everything else you just said was so weird that I am honestly even more confused now than I was ten seconds ago," Tonks grumbled, shaking her head. "Still, show me your room, sure. And while we're walking, you can tell me if there is any other person named Harry here, Harry Potter."
The man in front of her actually smirked at that, shaking his head as he regained some of his earlier poise. "I think we are going to have a very long discussion then."
The rest of the walk was thankfully silent, if not quick. Tonks took the time to get used to her body further and tried to transform it into her old form but once more found she couldn't. She found she could change her hair color, but it wasn't automatic, and she couldn't change the rest of her body on at all. That was worrisome, very worrisome. In particular one area, that was now grabbing most of her attention. Why the heck can't I grow me baps?! They're so tiny now! Cocky Nora, I look like a boy! That's just wrong.
Setting that to the side by figuring it was some kind of magic in the area that stopped her own body's internal magic from operating, she looked back at the man leading her down the corridor, glaring at him almost. She had no idea where she was, no idea where her wand was, and then there was this guy who had talked to her so familiarly at first and then manhandled her. What is up with that!?
But Tonks was a trained Auror. She eventually set that confusion and annoyance aside to take in where they were as they walked up a flight of stairs, then along another long corridor. They looked to be in some kind of giant castle, larger by far than any she had ever visited with her father on their excursions into the non-magical world and larger even than Hogwarts. It was also built far more of stone inside than wood and had an all-around more solid and somewhat unwelcoming feel. This place was meant to be a fortress first and a library second. Creature comforts mattered not at all.
Eventually, they entered a small room, which Tonks saw held a single bed and a small dresser with a small mirror on top of it. She quickly pushed around the big guy, grabbing at the mirror and holding it up to her face. Tonks looked at herself quizzically and then finally nodded slowly.
I don't look all that bad, she thought, a little thinner in the face, and that scar over one eye is interesting. It looked like it had been done by a claw or something. There must be a story behind that. And she had her pink hair as she had thought. I could do worse, I suppose. But why the hell am I stuck like this?! Time for some answers. With that, Tonks turned to the man across from her and crossed her arms angrily, staring at him. "All right, talk. What did you do to me? Why am I stuck like this? And where's Harry Potter!?" she emphasized the last word, glaring at the armored man.
Harry held up his hand, feeling a little intimidated now that he was sitting down and Imoen was almost looming over him. "Hold on! I don't know any of those answers except for the last one, okay? I didn't do anything to you, and I've no idea what you even mean by 'stuck like this'. How did you even arrive here? What's the last thing you remember?"
At that, Tonks' eyes narrowed, but she backed away, thinking hard. Then it all came back to her. "The computer!" She shouted. She looked at the guy in front of her, then waved her hand. "You wouldn't understand what that is, never mind. Oh my God, I was teleported here, wasn't I, and what was that weird voice saying, 'template'? 'Molding me into a contextual template?'"
"I know what context is," Harry answered slowly, not commenting on the computer just yet. "And I know what a template is. It's the thing they used to create designs or something like that in metal, right?"
"Um, maybe," she muttered, "but I have no idea what it means when you put those two words together, either." She paused again, thinking hard, trying to remember what happened in that place of utter nothingness before everything went all fluid, all her senses rebelling at once. "It said it was a single-player game. What the hell does that mean?"
"There, I think I can help you," Harry said with a sigh, holding up his hand. "But first, perhaps we should introduce ourselves?"
"Fine whatever," Tonks muttered, still trying to piece together her shattered memories of what had happened right before she arrived here and coming up with a lot of black nothingness. Those words hadn't even been spoken aloud, not really. It was more as if they had been seared into her brain because, at the time, Tonks somehow knew there had been literally nothing beyond her mind Tonks could call her own. Weird. She shook her head. "Anyway, why don't you go first, Scruffy?"
"Fine, if only to stop you from calling me Scruffy. You would not believe how often I've nicked myself shaving," Harry grumbled, shaking his head and causing her to laugh.
"I don't know, I might. I was at a boarding school for most of my teenage years after all, and more than a few kids developed scruffy faces before they learned the shaving spell."
Now fully convinced that this wasn't some odd game thing and that this person in front of him really was someone else from Earth, Harry nodded again. It's like her soul has somehow been transported into Imoen's body, or something like that anyway. Setting the how of it aside as unimportant, Harry held out a hand. "Well, my name is Harry Potter. How do you do?"
"Okay, I said it before, but you cannot be Harry Potter," Tonks said, glaring at the man now and tapping a toe down on the floor as if she was debating whether or not to kick him. "Harry Potter was a little over twelve years old before whatever occurred to him occurred. I'll fully believe that I'm in the same world he's in, but he's only been gone for a week and a half. There is no way that Harry Potter grew up what, five years six years, in that amount of time! Not even the best Time-Turner could explain that kind of age difference."
"What's a Time-Turner?" Harry asked, blinking at the apparent non-sequitur.
"Never mind, and explain," Tonks growled, glaring at the man.
Now becoming angry himself, Harry crossed his large arms in a move that he knew was intimidating, and even flexed them a little, something he rather enjoyed doing on occasion now that he had muscles to speak of. "I'm not going to tell you anything until you tell me your name! This isn't some kind of interrogation. This is an information exchange, and one that you need a lot more than I do, miss! Or didn't you notice all the status windows over there?" He finished, gesturing to one side.
"What?" Tonks blinked and then looked directly at the several small squares of different sizes that had shown up in the corner of her eye since she had appeared here. No matter how she turned her head, they were still there, in the upper left corner, not blocking her vision in any way but simply hanging there in space. "What the heck?"
"Those are status screens. You did mention that a voice told you this was a game, remember?" Harry asked, rolling his eyes.
Tonks scowled but nodded. "All right, so what do I do with them."
Shaking his head, Harry glared at her, his arms crossed. "Your name, and why you're searching for me," he demanded firmly.
Imoen scowled back, and they entered into a staring contest for a few seconds, but eventually, she decided to answer. "Fine, my name's Tonks, no first name unless you want me to hex your bits off. I'm a magical policewoman, we're called Aurors, and I was searching for Harry Potter. No one knew what happened to him, and now I'm staring at a guy who says he's Harry Potter, but is at least five, maybe six years older than Harry should be. So you'll understand that I'm a bit stressed!"
"I thought police people worked in teams," Harry said slowly, trying to remember the few crime dramas he'd seen glimpses of while staying with the Dursleys. Of course, they had never let him watch with them, but they were so deaf they had to turn the TV up a lot, so he always heard them under the stairs in his little cupboard.
Imoen faltered slightly, moving back and looking away. "Yeah, well, I wasn't exactly happy with how the investigation was going. My partner had simply decided that getting the person who sent you away behind bars was more important and using him to roll up others of a similar mind. The Unspeakables didn't have anything, or if they did, they sure weren't sharing it with me. So I snuck in and, kind of... investigated the computer we found in Harry's room."
Harry frowned further. "This sounds as if it's more personal than it should be. I mean, why would anyone care about me. That whole Boy Who Lived nonsense?"
Staring at him, Imoen frowned as well. "Okay, everything coming out of your mouth basically tells me you know Harry Potter, but you still can't be him. You're too old! So why don't you just tell me where the real Harry Potter is, and then I'll answer your questions."
"I am the real Harry Potter," Harry said, glowering at her. "It's not my fault that time moves oddly here or that I look like this. You want proof of that, just wait till tomorrow. Were in what's called the tutorial, and time doesn't pass it all during this stage. Every day just loops back."
"... If you're telling the truth, that is bloody fuckin' scary," Tonks replied slowly, her eyes wide as the implications of that struck home. "Looping time like that in such a wide area, as this castle, that, would be practically impossible."
"Yet, it's been happening," Harry said. "And I'm still giving you more information than you're giving me."
Tonks looked away, still not believing this guy was Harry Potter, but not knowing anything about the real Harry Potter to question him on. Yet the talk about time not passing did give her pause, and she turned back to look at Harry closely, before sighing. "All right, a part of it, just a small part is because Harry is the Boy Who Lived. I don't think you'd find any girl in Britain who wouldn't care about that bit, thanks to all those ruddy books. But the bigger part of it...the bigger part of it is that he's my cousin."
Harry blanched, his arms dropping from where they been crossed as he stared at her. "I, what, I, you, you're my cousin!? Wh, since when do I have living relatives beyond the Dursleys?!"
Crap, either he really is Harry, or he's a damn fine actor. "...Okay, there are a lot of different reasons for that. I am related to Harry Potter, yes, but it's not so much my cousin, as a cousin once or twice removed. My grandmother married your grandfather. My grandmother was a Black, as was my mother until she ran away from an arranged marriage to marry a muggle-born. But as for why you never knew, well, there's was the whole Sirius Black thing. "
Harry's eyes narrowed. "The Blacks are a so-called pureblood family like the Malfoys, then?"
"Oh please," Tonks said, waving her hand. "Those Johnny-come-lately Frenchies? The Blacks've been in Britain forever! But the family was blacker-than-black, you know. And one of the daughters running away from an arranged marriage to another pureblood family caused lots of issues, so she was disowned. But Mum was still technically speaking a Black, and like I said, there was the whole Sirius Black issue there that kept Mum from trying to find out what happened to you. Not that she would have been able to, mind you. No one but Dumbledore knew where you were."
"Sirius Black issue? Are you saying that like it's a name or a serious issue with the Black family?" Harry asked, trying to work it out for himself.
"Good one!" Tonks said with a smirk, giving him a thumbs-up before going on seriously. "What, no one's ever told you? I mean, how your parents were found by You-Know-Who?"
"No one's ever told me anything about that night," Harry grumbled, his hands moving to unlatch his armor and setting it aside before he leaned back against the wall behind his bed and stared at her. "No one. Not even the teachers have ever told me what occurred that night. All I know is that Voldemort came after me that night, to kill my parents and me because they had defied him or something. Hell, I couldn't even get the teachers to tell me anything about my parents at all!"
Looking back on it, Harry wondered why he had given up on that so quickly. Part of it was because Harry was worried about it just hurting him more, knowing about his parents, who he would never meet. But looking back, that didn't seem enough.
"Ah," Tonks winced. "Okay, long story short, Sirius Black was for most of his life thought of as a white sheep of the Black family, a do-gooder funny man who liked pranks and was sorted into Gryffindor rather than Slytherin, as all the Blacks before him had been. Even my mother, who eventually married a Muggleborn, was a Slytherin. Sirius was best friends with James Potter, your father. The two of them were inseparable, two members of a group called the Marauders. Master pranksters, they were a big deal back then. And then, well, your father married your mother, obviously, during the war against Voldemort. Then you came along, and not long after Sirius Black turns around, and... and betrays your family's location to the enemy."
"So my father was targeted because his old friend turned back to his family?" Harry asked. "Okay, that makes some sense. What happened to him, though?"
"One of their other friends, Peter Pettigrew, found him and shouted out a challenge in a crowded street. Sirius Black responded, killed the guy as well as twelve Muggles with an exploding curse. He was captured at the scene by a group of Aurors and Obliviators. According to them, he even admitted to the crime." Tonks sighed. "And before that, he was me, favorite cousin, always over at my house, always you know, palling around with me, when I was a baby and then a toddler. My family was known to be good friends with him, and that put us under even more suspicion, even if my mother had disowned the Black name."
Harry nodded slowly, taking this all in as Tonks continued explaining how Sirius had been sent to the magical prison called Azkaban, to be tormented for the rest of his life by creatures called Dementors there. But then a thought occurred to him, and he looked at her, sitting back and folding inwards, suddenly looking a lot smaller than he had before, feeling hurt in a way he couldn't quite describe. "But, you're... if you were a toddler back then, you're only what, five or six years older than me? Doesn't that mean you, you were at Hogwarts last year?"
"For my last year, yeah," Tonks answered before she realized where this was going as Harry finished pulled his knees up, almost hiding his face between them and his arms, which he pillowed on top of them. The sight of this massive, well-muscled tough-looking guy looking so small and almost afraid should have been comical, but it wasn't as Tonks could see the hurt and distrust in Harry's face. Shit! Tonks, you just put your foot in it big time!
"Why didn't..." Harry began behind his arms. "I, you, you didn't..."
"I didn't approach you, that's right." Tonks took the bull by the horns, so to speak. "You wouldn't know, but seventh years are incredibly busy with our NEWT examinations, trying to figure out our apprenticeships, taking extra classes to look better for our chosen professions going forward. It's immensely busy, and besides that, I was a Hufflepuff, not a Gryffindor. I couldn't walk up to a little Gryffindor firstie, not without causing waves and making a lot of people watch our every interaction."
Tonks stared at Harry for a moment, then sighed and sat down beside him, reaching forward to touch his arm. He flinched, and Tonks frowned, feeling her hair go manky and brown as she took in how he responded to even that light touch. He wasn't even looking at her now, simply trying to move away and curl up further.
For Harry, this was a long-hidden nightmare made real. He had magical relatives, and one had been in a position to approach him. But she hadn't. But she either hadn't cared enough or just didn't think he was worth the bother. That hurt. That got right past his newfound maturity and his Gamer's Mind ability to stay calm and hit Harry right in the heart, causing him to regress to being the young boy who had been locked away in a cupboard with no one but spiders for company, always wondering if he really was a freak and deserved to be locked away.
The kid thinks I rejected him, but damn it, that was the reason why I never approached him! Desperate to salvage something from this, and now fully realizing that yes, this guy was Harry Potter, and he really was around thirteen rather than his apparent physical age, Tonks began to talk rapidly. "But that's all a lie. The real reason I didn't approach you is I…I was afraid."
That caused Harry's head to shoot upwards, and he stared at Tonks.
She nodded. "I told ya I grew up on stories about the Boy Who Lived. All girls in Britain did, even if my mom did a better job of stopping most of the hero worship that went with it in me. But we knew or thought we did, that you had been, you know, looked after by Dumbledore or someone he personally chose. And I personally thought you would be far too leery of me because of my connection to Sirius, regardless of our family connection. It wouldn't've been the first time someone didn't want to be associated with me because of that. One of my boyfriends, his family, they kept trying to get him to break up with me for a while because of that connection. They thought I was destined to go Dark myself. Drove him to dragons, apparently. And away from me, more's the pity."
That caused Harry to snort, wondering if that had been Charlie Weasley. Ron wasn't the most open person to those he thought could be Dark, after all.
Tonks took this as a good sign and continued. "So I was afraid you would reject me. I was worried about how much that would hurt. And honestly, you didn't seem to need any new friends or family. First, you had that Ron guy and became an honorary Weasley, and then there was that bushy-haired girl who shattered all the academic records. What's her name?"
"Hermione. But she didn't shatter all the records, just the ones for Transfiguration, Charms and History of magic. Quirrel was useless, and Snape was a cock," Harry growled, slowly letting his arms fall and his leg sticks out again. But he was still looking at her very warily. "And looks can be deceiving. I..."
Harry looked away, wiping at his face, though he hadn't thankfully cried. Tonks wasn't sure she would've been able to handle that. "I would've given anything," he said, his voice almost vibrating with emotion. "I would've given anything to have more family than my relatives."
"Yeah," Tonks mumbled slowly, looking down in shame. "That's, I got that impression when I saw the Dursleys' house with my partner after Dumbledore called him in or your disappearance. I wasn't even supposed to be there, but Dumbledore and Mad-Eye were old friends, and he wanted an Auror's perspective. But when I made suggestions, none of them listened to me thanks to my age. Seriously! It was getting really irritating, being ignored because of my age." Tonks finished, throwing her arms up, her shame subsumed by frustration.
"That's a tune I've run into a few times too," Harry agreed. He lowered his legs entirely and leaned back against the wall to look at him her. "So what did you do?"
" Tonks smirked impishly. " Well, I decided to release my inner Gryffindor. The hat said I could go into either Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, y'know? I chose Hufflepuff because a few of my friends had already been sorted there, which obviously was the deciding factor since it showed so much loyalty. What about you?" she asked, going off on a tangent.
Harry winced. "Slytherin and Gryffindor. It said I was ambitious and had a certain amount of cunning too. But I'd already met up with..."
"The junior Malfoy." Tonks nodded. "I can understand why you wouldn't want to be around him. Anyway, I snuck into the Department of Mysteries. That's a ministry branch that deals with unusual magics, mostly by storing them away and keeping them from the general public. I found the computer and powered it on. I then found the last program you'd used, clicked on it, and then was in this kind of nothingness area with a voice ringing in my head talking about a game and contextual template."
"And no one else is going to come after us?" Harry asked.
Tonks shrugged. "I don't know. Wizards aren't exactly up on technology, if you know what I mean. The Unspeakable, Croaker, he knew what the computer was, but not anything else. They were trying to decipher the various magics on it at the time, and they'd already found two of the things that you or someone else did to that computer." She let that sink in for a moment before asking, "Now, why don't you tell me what happened, okay?"
"…Okay," Harry nodded.
To Tonks' eyes, Harry still looked really leery of her and hurt. But there was nothing she could do about that, not in a single sitting. Except maybe mention how I'd seen him as a baby. But that wouldn't really help matters, would it? Best to let that alone for now.
From there, Harry described how he had rebuilt Dudley's trashed computer, why he'd done so, and everything else that had occurred because of or during the project. After hearing the disgust directed towards Dumbledore by his cousin, and oh boy, was that going take some getting used to, he described how Dumbledore had returned him to the Dursleys when Harry had pretty much escaped to the Leaky Cauldron. Harry also mentioned how the man had known that he was essentially abused there, if not physically very often, then emotionally and mentally all the time. He then described how he had found some help in a few of the more disreputable places using a disguise.
Tonks winced. "And that's where you went wrong, kiddo. Those kinds of stores, they're not just, you know, lowbrow. They're Dark as Dark can be, peddling to the worst our society has to offer. I know that guy, Borgman. He has been investigated more times than I can think of off-hand, although no one has been able to make anything stick before this. We were able to after you disappeared, though, and my mentor was really gleeful about it too, which was kind of scary to see, let me tell ya."
From there, she described what had been going on in the Wizarding World since Harry had disappeared. How Croaker and Dumbledore had found out what had been added to the computer, and that Borgman had set Harry up to kill himself.
That made Harry scowl angrily, both at his own ignorance and the fact he'd been betrayed like that. "Yeah, well, maybe I would've known that if I knew anything more about the whole magical world! Seriously, there needs to be like a class or something, an introduction to the wizarding world."
Harry paused, then thumped one hand into his other palm, his tone mocking. "Oh, wait, there is. Only I was never given it because I'm the Boy Who Lived! Obviously, I should know everything." With that, he rolled his eyes and banged his head hard enough against the wall hard enough to cost him a health point.
At that, Tonks laughed weakly, shaking her head. "Yeah, I can fully understand your worries there. I suppose everyone just thought, you know, that Dumbledore would've told you. And now that I say it aloud, I realize how pathetic that was."
"Yeah..." Harry drawled.
The two of them fell silent for a few minutes, just staring at one another before Tonks shook her head. "Right, okay, so now we know the back story here, or rather we know the back story of how we both got here. You said something about this being the game? How does that even work?"
"You tell me," Harry said, shrugging his shoulders. "House elf magic, Dark soul absorbing magic, Dark lightning magic, my own magic, all of that mixed up in a jumble and here we are. How it works, that I'll leave to someone who actually understands magic, rather than someone who's just learned about it."
"Ouch, Harry. I see you've learned the joys of sarcasm," Tonks muttered, frowning as Harry tossed the hot potato back to her. She continued frowning for a few minutes thinking hard, then shook her head, going on in an almost cheerful tone. "Nope, it's beyond me too. But you said it's like a game? Tell me about that."
"Well, first of all, this world is based on the game Baldur's Gate, which is the main reason I look like this," Harry said, poking himself in the chest with a thumb. "I'm the main player of this game, the single-player you mentioned earlier. The player doesn't start out at age fourteen, so I was aged up to fit. Before I arrived, I got this whole series of screens allowing me to customize myself. It was actually kind of cool. It didn't do anything to my hair for some reason, but everything else I could customize."
"Well, except for my scar," he mumbled, motioning touching it. "It stayed regardless of whatever form I tried on for size. I've still got mixed feelings about that even now, frankly. I mean, in a way, it's a reminder that my parents cared for me, but on the other hand, it's a reminder of why I was set apart from other people. But it's there, and I can't do anything about it." With that, Harry shook himself and came back to the present. "Beyond that, well, I suppose we should just talk through your stats. Can you access your stats screen?"
When Tonks looked at him blankly, Harry rolled his eyes. "Right, say something like status screen, or think it."
When the girl did so, nothing happened, and Harry frowned. They tried to figure out other ways for Tonks to access her stats, but nothing worked. Shaking his head, Harry put that down as a lost cause for now. "I had to find information books before I could access some of my information. I'd wager it's the same for you. For now, let's move on to announcements." Gesturing to one side, Harry asked,
"Can you see all those? I can."
"Yeah, but what are they?" Tonks asked, staring at them herself.
"Those are bulletins marks, status changes, announcements from the game and so forth."
"So is the game kind of omniscient or something?" she asked.
"No, I don't think so anyway. It's not so much watching over us as simply watching. But, it will sound very snarky occasionally, so I don't know." At Imoen's look, he explained some of the messages he got and then walked her through enlarging the ones in front of her.
Welcome to your new life. Please wait while your mind and new body get to know one another. You may experience dizziness, moments of delirium, tasting like the color pink, and smelling yellow."
This line was contained in a black message box.
"...Whut?" Tonks muttered, shaking her head.
"Yeah... let's just put this to one side and go to the next one." Harry shrugged. "I get the impression that whatever you did, the computer or whatever wasn't ready for it and had to scrambled to deal with it. We should probably be thankful that you weren't just killed outright."
The next line was a little more understandable and tied into the scant knowledge Tonks had before this. It was a black message box as well, and it was one of the longest single messages Harry had seen yet.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, your soul has been transmuted into the body of a currently existing individual, a template, in this new world, which was intended to only have one Gamer. This is an unusual and dangerous maneuver, done only by the truly insane or thoughtless. While your previous skills might have some bearing on this new life, figuring out which will and which will not is not going to be easy. But hey, at least you're alive to do so. That's a positive, right?
All blood-based abilities have been disabled. All known magic spells are currently disabled.
Welcome to your new life. Try not to die.
"Okay," Tonks muttered after reading that. "Yeah, this game's got a snarky ass sense of humor."
"I think it's also a bit," Harry paused, clicking his fingers as his mind blanked. "What's the word when something has two minds?"
"Schizophrenic? That's not a good thing to hear, kiddo," Tonks answered, having now fully gotten used to the fact that this large beefy semi-handsome looking guy was young Harry Potter and eager to establish a big sister roll with him. She knew it wasn't going to be easy, especially given how they had started and how Tonks basically admitted that she didn't want to be rejected by him during their time in Hogwarts, but she was confident she could do it.
"Not like that. One of the voices is just totally emotionless or grim and commanding. That's the one I think controls the, well, the world in general, makes the sun come up, the weather, makes certain that you know arrows fly in the correct form or whatever, and introduced me to this world in the first place. And then there's the second voice, which tells us that we have interacted with the world around us in a significant way, how that has affected us and why. That second voice is snarky as all get out. Still, I can't deny that it is funny," Harry replied ruefully.
"Okay. So talk me through more of this game thing, kiddo."
At Tonks' request, Harry explained the various stats and such, along with the few set rules he had learned so far. This helped earn Imoen a few more wisdom points. To their surprise, this allowed her access to her stat sheet, though Harry couldn't interact with it. Imoen couldn't either, but that didn't stop her from reading what they could see aloud.
Class: Thief Level 4
The stats were blanked out as they had been for Harry, but for Tonks/Imoen, they were utterly blank, completely gray, nothing visible. Below that, t the rest of the stat sheet's organization resembled Harry's.
Metamorph (currently disabled - your stats do not match the needed level to use this bloodline skill), *******, *******, Clumsy (permanently disabled, yes it was always a body issue, lucky you), ********
While at one point Imoen the thief might have been a happy-go-lucky thief with more curiosity than sense, that person's mind and soul has been replaced by that of the Tonks, a happy-go-lucky, plucky young Auror in training who liked to poke her nose into other people's business far more often than was good for her. So no change there, really. It will be interesting how she interacts with the Gamer from this point on, as that interaction and his response to her will be the cornerstone of her future going forward in this new life.
For a moment, all Tonks could do was grumble about her Metamorph ability being disabled by her lack of stats, which she took to mean strength or intelligence, shaking her head this way and that. "All my training, all of my knowledge and my most unique freaking feature, and it's just gone! What the heck is up with that, huh!?"
"That's not really true..." Harry said slowly. He wasn't certain he trusted Tonks enough to tell her about this. But then again, why would she betray me? We're both stuck in this game. Although I don't know if stuck is the right word for my own predicament. I've actually enjoyed myself most of the time here, and I chose to be here after all. I put the computer together, I wanted to escape from the Dursleys, and I did that. Admittedly, this was a bit more than I wanted, but I like being here, so I can deal with that.
With that in mind, Harry straightened his shoulders and smiled at Imoen/Tonks. I think I'll just address her as Imoen from now on, much less annoying. "I figured out a way to bring the spells of our original world to here, which could be a major help going forward. I think you'll like it. So long as you don't mind being taught a power that is described as you 'cheating like a bitch'."
Imoen laughed. "You have no idea how many people have called me a bitch before this, and for far better reasons in a few cases. And besides, if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying. Lay it on me, kiddo." A moment later, Imoen/Tonks was staring at the same message Harry had discovered when he had figured out he could still do some of the spells from his own world.
Congratulations, you have cheated like a bitch!
Because of your unique, otherworldly status as a wizard where you came from, you have discovered the ability to use the spells from your own world in this one. Don't get cocky, though. Because with each spell cast, your health points will take a hit!
New Bloodline skill added, Mage of the Blood.
"Okay, that's cool. Means that I won't be totally dependent on my unarmed skills, which aren't all that much. But why do you think we can't interact with my stats, and can you think of any way to raise them? How big a deal is that anyway?" Tonks asked, frowning as she took in the details of the new technique, which apparently, she wouldn't be able to see from this point on unless she found the right skill book.
Harry frowned, scratching at the back of his head as he stared at the same notice thoughtfully. "I don't know. When I look at you, I see your name, my relationship status with you, and vice-versa, which is semi-friendly, but on the low side for that scale. And when you had your stat sheet out, I couldn't see the rest of your stats either. It might just be a side effect of the fact that this is a one-player game, you know, and the computer, whatever magic has shifted within it, still can't figure out a way to put in a second player. So it doesn't really know how to treat you. Or maybe that's the way other people here always see their stat sheets. I know they can level up, but they can't control where their attribute or skill points are spent, so it isn't that big a leap to think they can't see their own stats at all."
"Beyond that..." Harry paused, then breathed in slowly before going on. "The first thing you need to know is that today is going to repeat like I mentioned earlier. At 12 o'clock tonight, the day just sort of ends. Oh, and we don't have dreams here. Like, I go to sleep, and then I'm awake instantly a second later fully rested with this message about having slept in my bed and doing so renewing my magical points and health. Or at least a second later to me, but the night has passed. And before this, I was the only person that remembered everything that happened."
At that, Harry looked at Tonks closely.
She blinked, backing away rapidly at that. "Are you serious!? I know you said that time was repeating, but no one else remembers the day before?"
"That's right," Harry sighed. "Although it hasn't had much of an impact on me, not physically. I've just been using the time to figure out people around here, and how the game works and everything else."
"Yeah, but you put in all that effort for a day to make friends, and then they forget you the next day?" Tonks commiserated. "That's gotta suck."
"Actually, that's kind of helped too, I suppose. Erm, I'm not the best at talking to other people, and um, seeing how they react, and then just trying again in a different way, it um, it's kind of helped me a bit." Harry looked away, sheepishly.
Sensing a teasing opportunity, Tonks leaned in but winced as he tried to shy away. Scowling at herself, she pulled back, but that didn't stop her from saying, "Oh, do tell?" Then she blinked. "Wait, you mentioned relationship status earlier. Have you been taking advantage of this whole repeating a day thing to get in some lady's knickers?"
"Gah, no!" Harry flushed, backing away rapidly. "That's not even an option, I mean, it wouldn't, I wouldn't do it even if it was but, I know…that is..."
"Harry, calm down," Tonks said, frowning at herself again. Dammit, this boy really is still young. Forget what his body looks like, Tonks, remember inside he's still a youngster in many ways. "It's okay, Harry. I was just making a joke. I didn't think you were going to do something like that. But it ties into why I was so worried about the game making you act in a certain manner. Have you heard about the Three Unforgivables?"
When Harry shook his head, she went on grimly. "One of them is a spell that completely takes over a person's mind. It's one of the darker spells out there because it suppresses an individual's willpower to such a degree that they can't fight back. Strong-willed minds can fight it off, but if you're weak-willed, the caster completely takes control of the victim. And back home, there is another spell called the Obliviate spell, and it's one of the ones that is most abused when it comes to dealing with muggles."
Harry nodded, his face showing he was understanding and horrified, and Tonks smiled. "Taking advantage of a woman to that extent, and note," she said, poking Harry's forehead with a finger, "I said to that extent, in a physical sense, would be just as bad because she wouldn't remember it the next day. But, mind you, using a day like this to get to know a girl, that's fine. Just don't take it past the kissing stage, 'kay?"
At that, Harry blushed again, which again looked very odd on his more mature face, but he nodded, and Tonks went on thoughtfully. "Do you think... that is, does relationship status impact the information you can see from other people?"
"No," Harry said with a shake of his head. "My relationship status with Gorion is at the 'family' level, and all that tells me is his class and level, level 28 Mage and level 24 Bard."
"Wait, you didn't mention that before," Tonks interjected.
"Yes, I did. I said you were a thief."
"Oh, huh. That's my class, then? I missed that. Okay, so that would make me able to, what, sneak around, lock pick, that kind of thing?"
"Only one way to find out," Harry gestured out the door. "It should be interesting to see if you can figure it out yourself and what it tells you. I don't know anything about Thief abilities."
Tonks held up her hand, making a calm down gesture. "Hold on there. We're not done talking here just yet. In fact, let's put that off until tomorrow. It will be a good first test if I can remember all this," she said grimly. "And if I can't, we'll need a secret word or something you can tell me, something that will make me believe you when you say we're repeating a day, and I can't remember things."
"Really, a single word will do that?" Harry said dryly, grimacing at the idea. He had slowly begun to get weirded out by the whole forgetting things thing, and the idea that someone from his own world could be affected by it was disturbing to him even beyond it affecting people like Gorion, who he had become close to in his time in this 'tutorial'.
"Heh, yep. Mad-Eye, my partner, he's the most bloody-amazingly paranoid bastard you could ever hope to meet. He's come up with all these different passphrases and secret words to show if someone's been magically influenced. Erm, let me try to remember." Tonks frowned, tapping her chin in thought. "Think the word was 'sassafras' or something. Now give me some more background about what's happening here." Tonks nearly ordered.
"So long as you keep telling me about yourself," Harry said firmly. "I want this to still be a two-way conversation, not just me telling you everything."
Kid has major trust issues, Tonks thought, still tapping her chin, but she nodded. "Sure, kiddo. What do you want to know?"
"Well, first, I suppose I should ask why you wanted to be an Auror and what it really means. It is the first I've heard of such a profession, although I knew about the ministry and sort of figured they had to have their own Scotland Yard or whatever." Harry asked, still feeling this new Imoen, Tonks or whatever, out.
"Oh Merlin, don't get me started, kid! Scotland Yard? Scotland Yard is a professional, practically apolitical group, supposed to serve the peace and have a decent budget. I thought that the Aurors were the same way. But when I joined up, you would not believe the shit I had to go through. Not just because I was related to the infamous Blacks, but because I was a Metamorph, at least at first."
From there, she went into an hour-long rant that told Harry a lot more about Tonks' personality than he had learned previously. He learned she liked pranks and liked manipulating her ability to change her body, a power that he had never heard of before, to get back at people who angered her. That she had a hair-trigger temper, something he had already feared was the case, was also proven. But he learned it burnt out just as quickly and that Tonks wasn't the kind to go around thumping people even when angry, something he had feared when she mentioned it. Tonks got along well with her parents, who apparently had supported her being an Auror even though they knew that she was cruising for a bruising but hated the first name her mother had given her."
At that point, Harry interjected, "In that case, isn't this a bit of a new start for you?"
"What do you mean?" Tonks asked.
"Well, the body you're wearing is named Imoen, and that's the name I still see above you. So whatever your name previously was, you're kind of leaving it behind, aren't you?" Harry said reasonably.
Tonks blinked, then grinned, and reached forward, hugging Harry tightly, not reacting to his sudden twitch when she did so. "Oh, that's awesome, Harry! I hadn't even thought about it. Fantastic." Harry flushed a little, feeling Tonks's curvy body pressing into his, but Tonks pulled him away quickly, winking at him, then hopped off the bed. "I... am... Imoen!" She shouted, thrusting her arm into the air. "No more Nymphadora or the jokes that come from it for me!"
"Really?" Harry began to laugh, shaking his head. "That's your name!? What the heck was your mother thinking?!"
"Oh, that's it!" Tonks growled and grabbed the pillow, smacking Harry over the side of the head and causing him to fall back on his side on the bed. She'd had enough of all this serious stuff. Now it was time for some fun. "Have at thee!"
While he hadn't ever dealt with something like this from a girl, the boys in Gryffindor had got into more than one pillow fight, magical and non. There could be only one response to this. Growling, Harry rolled onto the floor, pulling his blankets loose from the bed and hurling it over Imoen's head. With her thus entangled, he grabbed off the pillow and smacked her with it as she tried to get free from the blanket.
Imoen retaliated, grabbing at the pillow through the blanket and somehow pulling him off balance and back onto the bed, where, to his surprise, she leaped upon him, tickling him uproariously. Hah, so there's some hope for you yet, Harry.
What followed was the first friendly wrestling match Harry had ever had, and it was kind of cathartic for the both of them. The newly renamed Imoens's fear and concern about being stuck in this 'game' had disappeared, although she was still very leery about what would happen at 12 o'clock. Harry, for his part, had forgotten that part entirely and was just relieved that despite her being a relative, Imoens seemed a decent sort and very fun to be around.
In fact, she reminded him of Alicia Spinnet, who was essentially everyone's big sister, except Fred Weasley. Whatever was going on between them, he didn't know and frankly didn't want to know.
As they lay half on and half off the bed gasping for air, Imoens turned to Harry. "Truce?"
"Truce," Harry nodded agreement.
"Bloody good, because you're heavy. Gerrof, ya big lug!" Imoen grumbled, trying to push him off and ignoring the rather suggestive way the two of them were laying. Whatever possible attraction Imoen might have had for Harry's new body had died a fiery death when he had shown his true age earlier. That and the guilt at having not approached Harry while they were in Hogwarts.
Harry lifted himself off easily, then picked Imoen up as easily as he had before in the library, before setting her on the bed by the head. After that, he sat on the other end. They looked at one another for a moment before Imoen visibly became serious again. "So, tell me about this game. You said something about non-player characters when you look at me. Does that mean everyone acts like robots or something?"
"No," Harry shook his head. "I think they have a set routine sort of, but they are human. And that's something you need to learn right away," he said seriously, pointing at her. "You have to treat the people here as if they were regular people. They each have their own lives; they all have their own abilities and minds and everything. Don't assume that they're just, you know, part of the scenery or something. Wherever we are, despite the whole Gamer issue, which seems to be just a more advanced version of what other people around me can do, the world itself is very real. You can be hurt, you can hurt other people, and everyone here is alive."
"Okay..." Imoen murmured after a few minutes of thought, scratching at her hair thoughtfully. "That's incredible. I wonder then if we're not somewhere else, rather than in the game. But then there is the Gamer aspect. Does that kind of thing extend to other people?"
"It does, and it doesn't at the same time. There are two types of people here I've found. There are Adventurer types, like Gorion and a few others here, I'll introduce you to him tomorrow. That is," Harry seemed to falter, "If you can." He rallied quickly, shaking his head and going on. "Anyway, Adventurers can come in a few basic classes, thief, mage, wizard, cleric, bard, warrior, ranger. That kind of thing."
"What class are you?" Imoen asked, cocking her head thoughtfully to look at them. Warrior? Figures a kid his age would want to be something he had never been before. If I was his age and I could have the physique of some kinda Wonder Woman or something like that, you better believe I'd have jumped at the opportunity.
Harry blushed and looked away, poking his fingers together sheepishly as he mumbled under his breath.
"I'm sorry I couldn't quite hear that," Imoen said, leaning forward and cupping her ear with one hand expectantly. "What was that?"
Growling irritably, Harry answered in a louder tone, still looking away. "I'm a paladin, all right!"
Imoen laughed. "Kid, you are in Gryffindor, and you're a young boy. I'm not going to make fun of you for being normal and wanting to be a knight in shining armor. Although," she teased, reaching out to poke the set of armor that Harry had set aside earlier. "This doesn't actually look all that shiny."
"It's the best armor I could find here in Candlekeep. I doubt it is the best we'll find elsewhere, but it was the only one I could find in this tutorial segment," Harry retorted. "Now it's your turn," he went on, turning back to Imoen.
She rolled her eyes but flung her hands out to either side. "I'm an open book, kiddo," she quipped, leaning back and stretching, cracking her neck and back before leaning back against the wall again.
Harry frowned, thinking about what he'd already learned and what he wanted to ask this cousin of his, who may or may not become the first such family member that he ever really wanted to acknowledge as such. That still hurt, and he knew it would for a while, but Harry set that to one side for now. "Tell me more about this Metamorph ability of yours. Can it be learned? What's it like? I once read regrew my hair overnight when Petunia gave me a haircut I didn't like. Is that the same kind of thing? Or is that just how you start?"
Imoen smiled at him and then began to explain, interrupted by numerous questions from Harry. As she finished, he frowned, thinking., "So, I mean, do you have a regular body then?"
"Not really, no. At least I didn't before this." Imoen gestured to her new body. "I can't seem to do anything but change my hair color, and even that is now taking an effort of will whereas before it would've simply changed with my moods if I wasn't careful. Kind of the exact opposite of what I was used to, really. But in terms of my body, I can't remember what form I was born in or even tell you how I'd look if I hadn't changed myself. I mean, I could change my height, so I did. I kept it at a height I was comfortable with. During puberty, I had decided my chest was a little too small, so I changed that too occasionally." Imoen now pouted, patting her chest and then actually pushing them up slightly. "Dammit! I really miss that aspect. This is what, barely size A? I look like a boy. Blast it!"
With that in mind, and without even noticing as Harry began to blush and stutter, Imoen actually reached down to her crotch and patted it there before nodding. "Okay, good. It wouldn't be the first time I'd accidentally changed into a guy and not noticed."
"How could you not notice that?!" Asked Harry in a somewhat strangled tone.
"Let's just say that fire whiskey isn't the strongest magical drink out there, and I was very young and foolish to believe it was," Imoen replied with a wicked grin at Harry's embarrassment. "But I was dealing with it better than the prat buying me drinks, and I decided to mess with the guy who was trying to get me drunk, in a way he wouldn't find out about unless he..."
"Okay, enough, thank you," Harry grumbled, shaking his head. Okay, so she's a mix between a cousin I might like getting to know and an offbeat uncle who is a bit of a pervert and who you never want to acknowledge in public.
Imoen smirked at him and leaned forward excitedly, eager to embarrass Harry further. "All right, my turn." She thought about it for a moment, then said, "That relationship status thing, what does that do?"
Harry flushed a little, reminded of his adventures in that area. "Well, it, it doesn't do much. It's kind of boring if I'm honest."
"Right, pull the other one kid, it's got bells on," Imoen said, leaning back again and crossing her arms, actually giving Harry a glare that was pure Prof McGonagall.
"Um, wow, that's kind of scary," he said, shaking his head as he looked away.
"I might not be able to go the full-body change to give you even more of an impact, but she was my professor for years after all, and the best prank I ever did was to shapeshift into people and do things that they had would have hated to do or be seen doing. Now talk." She ordered.
"I don't know much about it. I haven't been able to well raise the stats of anyone permanently remember. But Gorion, he's family now. But that doesn't actually give me anything, in terms of stats boosts or whatever."
"But..." Imoen said, leaning forward.
Harry shuddered and took the plunge. "But there is this bar girl here, her name's Cassandra, and um... When I raised our relationship status from 'interested' to 'very interested', she tells me about getting me a discount on beer, and um, something about lessons that I never quite understood."
Rolling her eyes at that, Imoen shook her head. "That's it? That's the only relationship thing you can do?"
"Well... I can get this other woman, she's one of the younger Watchers here, to teach me something. But it's not actually usable for my class."
"So what's the point of this relationship thing?"
"I don't know. All the game tutorial says when I look into it is that relationships can boost your stats later in the game. So I can't figure out what they are now. Honestly speaking, I was pretty much done with the tutorial at this point. I've raised my stats as much as I could, I've done all of the preparation I can, I've even done a few quests to build up a nest egg," Harry counted points off on his fingers.
"What do you mean?" Imoen asked, cocking her head to one side.
"Now we come to one of the greatest things about this game. The item box!" Holding out his hand, Harry was suddenly holding a sword, then just as suddenly was holding a bow. Both of them looked a little crude but were very simple but effective weapons. Then he was holding five small gems, uncut, and almost identical to one another. In fact, they seemed almost exactly identical as Imoen looked at them.
Then he pushed his hand back into a small pouch, which he should never have been able to do, Imoen reflected, noting the size of the pouch. "Okay," she said slowly, taking that into account with the disappearing, reappearing weapons. "That's all kinds of awesome. And is that something only you can do?"
"I don't know, though Gorion couldn't, and seemed very impressed the one time I told him about it. Try it," he suddenly said, holding out the short sword.
She took it and actually held it very well, frowning as she did as a status screen outlined in red in front of her.
You have equipped a short sword. Since you have a skill point spent on this weapon, you will see a buff to your offensive abilities while wielding it. Find magical weapons or armor to add more to your speed and striking power.
"You get that kind of thing the first time you equip a weapon of a particular type," Harry said with a nod, once more showing her how to dismiss the status screen. "Now try to make it go into your item box, basically will it to go away almost." He watched as Imoen was able to do it and grinned. "Awesome, right?"
"That, that beats out any mokeskin bag, or even any expanded trunk I've ever seen! It comes when I think about it, I mean, holy heck!" she said, holding the short sword out again then making it disappear, then again. "Is there a limit to what we can hold?"
"Sort of," Harry said with a nod. "There are a limited number of items I can carry, though a lot of them can be stacked, like gems and arrows. Beyond that, the only limit is the weight. I'm actually pretty strong, so I can hold up to 400 pounds. But as long as I don't go over that, it doesn't affect me at all. If I take more, I get a warning about being 'encumbered,' and I can't move as well." He grinned. "I actually put my bed into my item box, which could hold it, but then I couldn't move very well. I felt almost like a beached whale. Not certain how it would affect combat."
Harry frowned, as a thought occurred to him. "The only problem now is that we have no idea what your strength stat is."
"Yeah, that's gonna be a little irritating," Imoen thought angrily. "Do you have any idea how we can figure out what my stats are?"
"Well, you could try wielding a club or another blunt weapon. The damage you did to a dummy could tell us in a roundabout way what your strength is."
Imoen grimaced, then Harry pointed at her. "However, I think I've told you enough about the game for this round. My turn."
Pouting, Imoen made her sword disappeared and looked at him. "Okay, shoot."
"What were your favorite classes, what are your favorite spells, and do you think you can teach me some?"
"Well, my favorite class was easily Transfiguration, kiddo. Being a Metamorph myself, I found it kind of easy, although I also loved the Charms professor, Flitwick. The little guy, did you know he's a dueling master? I asked him to teach me a few tricks, and I learned more from him in a bare month of on-again-off-again training than I did in the first two months of solid every day eight-hour training with the rest of the Auror trainees."
"As for my favorite spells," Imoen hopped up, moving into the center of the room. "Well, let's see if they translate."
She held out a hand, as if she was about to summon up her sword, then flicked her hand forward, moving her hand in a flick then a twitch to the other side, shouting out a spell. "Lacero!" From her hand appeared a long whip of fire that flashed through the air in front of her. She moved it this way and that as her health bar appeared to both their eyes along with a notification message. This spell took ten of her health points, which was a worrisome amount considering she only had a hundred to start with.
"It's a fire spell," Imoen explained, whipping around her hand, then down and around to either side. "Really useful to cow people, and in close combat, not very draining to keep going either back in our own world. Not good against magical shields, but it can be used to redirect spells too." As she spoke, another status appeared in front of her.
Would-be-dominatrix. You have discovered a hidden weapons skill dealing with whips and non-solid weaponry. This will allow you to do more damage with whips or other similar weapons.
Beware, using this technique too often in public will give you a reputation, mostly bad. -2 to charisma. Can be changed to +5 dealing with certain situations or people who like that kind of thing.
Grumbling, Imoen removed that message, trying not to notice Harry's snickering as she moved on to read the previous message bar.
A new blood mage spell!
You have discovered a new spell that you power with your own life force. Be warned, such spells are dangerous and can bring you more attention than they are worth.
"I wonder if I can learn it now," Harry said, staring at her.
"I'll teach you what're supposed to be the wand movements. Like I just showed you, they translate into hand movements pretty well," Imoen said, flicking her hand around and down then up, whipping the flame whip around. Then she made it disappear and instantly got one of her hit points back. "Huh, well, that's nice at least. Although, if that spell took out 10, I'm a little concerned about what my other spells might take out of me." And I don't think I'm going to teach Harry any of my more powerful spells, not yet.
"Well, don't hold out on me," Harry said eagerly, leaning forward eagerly. "What kind of other spells you have?"
"Why'd you chose the Paladin template if you're that interested in spell work?" Imoen asked, honestly quizzical. "Was it just the whole wanting to be a knight thing?"
"I chose the Paladin template because I was worried I might have to go solo occasionally., And yes, I've always wanted to be a knight in shining armor. But until I decide what God I will pledge myself to, I can only use lay on hands once a day, although I can use turn undead three times. But once I decide on a God, those numbers will go up a bit. At least, I think so. Now come on! Remember what you said before: if you're not cheating, you're not trying."
Imoen nodded and went through what was called the 'Auror's Quartet', the four spells they used the majority of the time. This was a high-powered trick tripping hex, the spell Stupefy that Harry already knew and an incarceration spell, which sounded a lot like the immobilization spell that Hermione had used on Neville. It was an area-of-effect and actually trussed up the enemy rather than simply immobilizing him. It was also difficult to dispel once it was on you, even if you could point your wand at yourself. The fourth was a cutting spell, called Reducto, the power of which could be varied to create different effects, and which could cut through almost any substance, but which could be blocked, dodged or even shielded against.
"Beyond that, there are about six other combat spells that I know of which I could teach ya that're most useful in combat. I mean, any spells can be useful depending on how you use them, but these are made for combat."
"Like Bombarda?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, that's one of them, although we don't usually use that one in combat, since if it hits, it can be lethal at even a low-powered level. There're a few others I can teach you too."
"And I think we need to learn them now, so we know about the cost to our health. What's your health bar like, by the way?"
"A hundred-and-fifty," Harry announced. "I think that the main combat types, Paladin, Ranger, Fighter, Berserker, get added health with every level, and I'm level five, so hundred and fifty."
"Damn," Imoen muttered. "Why do I think I got gipped by being a thief?"
"Don't look down on it so much. Paladins can't dual-class. Thieves can. If you reach level twelve in your thief class, you can start building up a secondary specialty." Harry frowned then. "Though don't ask me about what that'll do to your thief skills or your ability to wear armor or other restrictions."
"Well, that's interesting, I suppose, but that's for later. What can I do right now is the question?" Imoen mused.
"Let's go find out," Harry said, hopping to his feet as elsewhere the bell for dinner went off. Huh, we've been talking for that long? "Besides, I should show you around after dinner, get you used to this place, and find your room."
The two of them left Harry's room, then walked down the corridor towards the stairs that would lead them downward, and then down again towards the refractory. Those within Candlekeep could either eat inside the main keep, which was always closed to outsiders who had not paid the toll to get within or at the inn situated in the keep's grounds. But most of the Watchers didn't bother with going there unless they were feeling hungry for something specific. As they went, Harry suddenly winced as he remembered something. "You're about to run into the downside of being in this game."
"What?" Imoen asked, suddenly wary.
"You mean how Middle Ages it's going to be? I got used to that kind of thing at Hogwarts, I suppose." Imoen replied. '"You'd think they'd have learned how to cook muggle dishes, but no, it's all about pandering toa the purebloods, ugh. I remember being almost to the point where I'd kill for a burger."
"No," Harry shook his head. "I meant, well… you'll find out."
As they were walking through the halls of the keep, though, something else came up. With night now upon them, the halls were lit by torches set in sconces along its length. But as they passed between them, a message appeared in front of her. "You have entered a shadow. Would you like to activate Hide-in-Shadows?"
"Hide-in-Shadows?" Imoen asked, looking over at Harry.
"Some kind of thief skill. I'd think a very sneaky one by the name," he supplied.
Nodding, Imoens clicked the yes button, actually pushing her hand out into midair to do it. Harry had a second to reflect that it would probably take her a while to learn not to do that when she disappeared for a brief second. Then she was back, several feet away and scowling at another message. "Technique failed, huh?. Well, it didn't take any of my health, so I suppose it's a decent enough substitute for a Disillusion spell. Still feel I got gipped on this whole thief thing, though."
Moments later, Imoen was glaring at him across the table before turning that glare on her food. "Tasteless slop!" She growled, "Come on, why the heck is it so bland? And it looked pretty good, too." Okay, leaving the N-name behind was cool. Being around Harry could be fun. But darn it, this is starting to look a lot more like work than I would have liked.
"I don't know," Harry said with a shrug. "I mean, I've seen the cooks at work, I know exactly what the kind of foods we're getting should taste like, but when I actually eat it, there's no taste."
"There goes my theory of us being transported to some other real-world then, maybe," Imoen groused. "A computer wouldn't be able to handle taste obviously, but if we had been transferred to somewhere else, then we would have that sensation along with everything else." Although why the heck would I have the sense of touch if I don't get the sense of taste?
Harry shrugged at that, then gestured down to the food. "Keep eating, though. You'll need your stamina. If you don't eat, your stamina takes a hit, and then your strength, dexterity and even agility will soon follow. Unfortunately, stamina doesn't actually appear in our status bars like health, or magical power does. It's more like levels or something rather than a bar you can watch drain."
"That is kind of weird, being able to see how our magic is drained like that," Imoen replied, frowning a little. "But then again, considering that our original world's magics come across as these blood spells, I suppose we don't have room to talk."
"Maybe," Harry said, before pausing and smiling up at a man who came across the room towards them. "Gorion."
Imoen turned and took in the man at a glance. Nice build, decently wide shoulders, the air of an erudite, but the body of a very tough guy. Damn, he reminds me of my dad almost. And the silver in his hair did nothing to take away from his appearance, rather it added a certain dignity, speaking of experience.
Gorion nodded back, sitting down across from the two youngsters, smirking at the two of them. "I take it you two have kissed and made up then from your little spat last night?" he added lightly.
Harry blanched while Imoen guffawed. "You might say that." This was odd, she thought, meeting Gorion for the first time since, according to what Harry had said, this guy had been part of his life since he entered this weird world. It was made worse because of the fact that despite being stuck in a tutorial, where a single day repeated, he'd become close with Harry. That speaks both of his character and of Harry's need for someone like this in his life, too, Imoen thought grimly.
"Well, that's good to know. But next time, try to keep your roughhousing out of the main library. The Master Librarian nearly talked my ear off about how you two were disrespecting the library this afternoon," Gorion said teasingly.
"Sorry about that," Harry said with a shrug. "Imoen here decided to take it upon herself to thwack me one when I told her that she would have to get Madame Barca's permission to come with us, again, as if it was my fault. Then I dragged her off so we could talk about it."
Imoen glared at Harry, smacking him on the shoulder while Gorion chuckled ruefully. "Yes, well, Madame Barca is rather set in her ways," he said delicately. "Still, you've learned quite a lot from her over the years, so I don't want to hear any disrespect from either of you, is that understood?" He asked, not changing his voice from his mild tone. But one salt-spotted eyebrow rose as he stared at them, and both of them nodded with Imoen a tad behind Harry. "Good. And remember Harry, we'll want to be leaving tomorrow."
"Where do you think we'll be going first?" Harry asked, but something in his tone made Imoen look at him curiously.
"I don't know, the Friendly Arm Inn, obviously. But from there, we could go south or north, depending. I've heard rumors from a few of the guests, those rich ones who pay their way in. But there seems to be some kind of iron issue occurring from the mines around Nashkel that could cause large-scale conflict between Baldur's Gate and Amn, maybe even worse. With that in mind, we might wish to take a boat from Baldur's Gate, head overseas quickly. While Candlekeep will be sacrosanct in any war, travelers certainly would not be. And especially someone as young as you. You would be a prime target for conscription, my lad."
"Yes, I don't think I'd like to be part of an army," Harry said with a sigh.
"Your inability to take orders rather than instruction would be against you," Gorion said commiseratingly, his eyes twinkling. He then stood up, patting Harry's hand where they lay on the table and then Imoen's. "I'll leave you two to it. You wouldn't want your last meal together to be ruined by the presence of an old man, after all."
The moment the man was gone, Imoen turned to Harry, one eyebrow raised, and Harry shrugged. "Like I said, I was pretty much done with the tutorial portion. This is part of it. If I had met Gorion as I had intended to after leaving you behind this afternoon, he and I would already have finished our preparations and left. That is sort of the same speech he gives me every evening. And tomorrow, tomorrow will start the same way this one did, and I'll be going through things all over again."
Racking her brains to remember what she knew about role-playing games, which she had played the tabletop versions of numerous times, Imoen said thoughtfully, "This iron ore issue is probably going to be a main plot then. But why the rush?"
Harry winced then filled her in on what the game had told him during the introduction and why he and Gorion were leaving.
"Yep," Imoen's said with a nod. "That definitely sounds like a main plot point." Then her eyes narrowed. "Well, if you think you're leaving me behind Harry Potter, you can think again. I didn't sneak into the Department of Mysteries and then get myself stuck in this game to be left behind when you go out to adventuring!"
Harry flushed at that, unused to people other than Gorion caring about him. Well, other than Gorion and Hermione and Ron, he supposed, but he hadn't thought about either of them since coming to this new world, and they certainly weren't around now.
"Thanks," he muttered, looking away before slowly shaking his head as he turned back to her, his face grim. "But you might not have a choice. Remember what we were talking about?"
"Which part, the part where everyone here will forget everything that's happened today at the stroke of twelve. Or the idea that maybe my own actions will be hindered by the game?" Imoen groused.
"Either or," Harry agreed sadly, shrugging his shoulders.
"We'll cross those bridges when we come to them. Unless we have to build them. In that case, we'll build those bridges and then cross them. Okay? I'm not letting you go alone. Set that in stone, Harry."
Another warm flush of pleasure ran through Harry at that, and he smiled. Perhaps, just perhaps, the word relative really didn't mean enemy any longer. And as he thought that, the relationship status above Imoen's head changed from 'semi-friendly' to 'friendly'.
The two of them sat there as the candles in the dining room were changed about them, talking quietly to one another, exchanging stories. During this time, Harry learned that Imoen had indeed dated Charlie Weasley, and they had broken up mainly because of his mother. Through Imoen, Harry learned more about the woman who had sent him a Weasley sweater that first Christmas and of how she wasn't actually all that nice once you got to know her.
"Oh, she's a right damn good cook, a fantastic mother for little kiddies, I suppose, but that's just it. She doesn't want her kids to grow up. That's why both Bill and Charlie moved away. Awesome character, Bill. He was head boy and everything, and just about the coolest guy you could ever meet. Charlie was two years older and almost as funny, but he was all about care of magical animals, whereas Bill was runes and spell crafting. Of course, both of 'em were mad for Quidditch."
"That sounds fun. You know I was..."
"The youngest Seeker in a century, yeah. That was pretty awesome, and you were darned good too. I saw lots of Charlie's games and afterward, too. Gryffindor hadn't won a single game since he left, you know."
They were so busy simply getting to know one another that serious discussions had been set by the wayside. This continued until they were interrupted by a stern voice calling out for Imoen's name. "Ah, there you are, Imoen."
Wincing a little, Harry whispered, "That's Madame Barca, your guardian, I suppose., Like Gorion's mine, although I don't know what kind of relationship Imoen has with her."
Madame Barca was a stern-faced elderly woman who immediately reminded Imoen of McGonagall, though her clothing was very different. It was almost skintight but not quite black, with a black robe and cloak combination. The hood was pushed back at the moment, and she wore a small pair of wire glasses, glinting in the light of the candles that were everywhere in this room. Her face slightly softened as she saw Imoen talking to Harry, but the woman still shook her head sternly. "If you think I'm going to let you miss a full day and evening of classes just because your friend is going to leave soon, you have another thing coming. Now get up. We have work to do."
'Huh? But I," Imoen began, only to yelp as the woman's hand flashed out faster than Imoen could dodge, grabbing an ear and pulling her out of her chair. "Get a move on! If you can't dodge that, it's obvious you need to work on your hand-eye coordination more."
"Ouch," Harry muttered, watching the two of them go. He hadn't interacted much with Madame Barca in his time in the tutorials, and that bit of interaction told him he didn't really want to.
But now on his own, he sat for a moment, frowning as he looked out into the darkness of the night beyond one of the windows of the dining hall, scowling. He was almost tempted to go to bed early to see what would happen. But would that force Imoen to go to bed too? Or would it just leave her high and dry until twelve o'clock came around?"
Sighing, Harry frowned, thinking about what he could do with his time, and then shrugged and headed off to the library. With nothing else to do, he could at least read more about this world's history. Harry had already read a lot about that, but there was always more to learn. This actually helped greatly, since Harry got so into the history book he was reading about one of the local wars he didn't notice time passing until his door opened slowly. He looked up and watched as Imoen slunk in, closing it silently be behind her. "Harry?"
Setting his book aside, Harry beamed a smile at her, happy to see her. "Were you able to get away from Madame Barca then?"
"She kept me up until about 30 minutes ago, then sent me to bed, but I decided I'd rather come and see you. She said it was pushing the 12th candle, which I assume means 12 o'clock?" Imoen asked, moving over to lay out on his bed, groaning. "Bloody freaking taskmistress, gah, makes me long for days of Moody's training, and that's just wrong."
"They use candle lengths to tell time here, yes," Harry said with a nod. They have clocks, that one big one in the library anyway, but no watches or anything of that nature. Although I don't know why, I read that these other races, gnomes and dwarves, are very good at that kind of thing. Maybe they just haven't been able to spread them very far or something?"
"I doubt it's that. There's a big difference between being able to tell time and being able to build a watch. It's all about miniaturizing things, I think. And making them really, you know fit together, properly," Imoen said thoughtfully. "At least, that's what I can remember."
Harry raised an eyebrow at her, and she shrugged. "I once smashed open my dad's watch to see how it worked, if the inside of it matched those of magical watches. Boy, was I surprised. Twice over." she finished ruefully. "He spanked my rear for that one. It was the only time he ever did that kind of thing, too. Turns out the watch was really expensive, unfortunately."
Harry chuckled at that, but it was a little forced. "Really? My uncle didn't do that kind of thing with me often either, although when I was younger, he did beat me for getting better grades than my cousin a few times. I got the message quickly enough after that, though. And of course, my aunt punished me if the meals weren't to her liking or not ready on time."
Imoen winced, reading between the lines there pretty easily. "Um, you want to tell me more about them?"
"Why bother until I know you won't forget in the morning?" Harry asked wanly, shaking his head. "It's, that's not the kind of thing I'd, I'd want to go over more than once."
Imoen winced at that but nodded. "How much time do you think we have left?"
Harry shrugged. "No idea., Not long, I don't think."
"So tell me more about this Gamer thing then. Let's not get into anything personal now. Tell me more about how the game works. In fact, I have a specific question." Imoen said with her own forced cheer. "This is supposed to be a role-playing game, and all those have a lot of combat to them, so tell me how combat works."
Harry nodded and told her about what he had learned so far about how combat worked and how the skill slots worked with the weapons. He showed her the weapons he had in his item box, and Imoen took them one after another putting them in her own, saying as an aside that "Doing that will help me figure out how much I can carry." The truth was that she could carry up to 65 pounds., An okay amount, for a girl so slight looking, but not a candle to what she should have been able to do. "With my morphing powers, I could create muscle, and harden in my bones, and be able to lift like a weightlifter."
She was in the process of handing the weapons back to him after trying out each one when it happened.
One moment the two of them were looking at one another as Harry held out his hand for a war hammer, and the next Harry found himself left in his bed with the sheets up to his neck again, and the words 'you have slept in your bed, health and mana points are fully restored, and all spells in a wizard or mage's spellbook have been refilled.'
Imoen was nowhere to be found as Harry looked around wildly, almost startling Gorion as he had just opened the door. "Easy there, lad. Did you have a bad dream again?"
"I..." Harry paused, then nodded his head slowly. He had tried to talk to Gorion about the Gamer aspects, and while Gorion knew about levels and such, he hadn't seemed to understand at all what Harry meant about redoing the same day. At one point, he just ignored it when Harry brought it up directly, and that made Harry forget all about telling him more. "Yes, I did. Something was chasing me, some kind of presence maybe?" He said, prevaricating quickly. This was something he had gotten used to early on here, and it served him well again, as did his Charisma points.
'You have passed a charisma spot check," said a little status bar to one side. "Your tale has been believed. Use this power wisely."
Harry rolled his eyes at that but did so quickly as he turned away to grab up a shirt that Gorion wasn't aware of them.
"Yes, I'm afraid that kind of fits. Don't worry about it, Harry," Gorion said slowly, looking at the younger man thoughtfully. "Many people have these semi-precognitive dreams, and given what I've been telling you of late about our leaving, it's no wonder that you have bad dreams. Do you think you will be able to leave today? Oh, and Imoen said that she is a little angry at you for leaving her with the dishes last night."
Harry chuckled wanly at that. "I suppose I should go and apologize then, although to be fair, she's never around when it's our time to actually work in the kitchen before meals."
"Truly, and would you want her there? I remember when she tried to make that Sea bass dish, and she couldn't quite get the heat on the Sea bass correct all the way through. One portion was raw, the other nearly charred black. And she somehow set water on fire."
Again Harry let loose a chuckle and a nod, trying to indicate that he knew what Gorion was talking about, although of course, he didn't, not having heard that story before. "Still, I'll go look for Imoen before I report for my lessons this afternoon."
"You have time, but only slightly. I would hurry if that is your plan," Gorion said with a nod. "And if you do decide that you're ready to leave, come find me in the courtyard by the inn. I'll be there talking to master Belasco about our supplies."
Harry nodded back, and the two men separated outside his room. Harry waited until Gorion was out of sight, then, looking at his map, tried to figure out where Imoen's room was. Once he knew that, he turned and raced through the halls in such a way that if he had seen any Watchers, it would've caused many a shout of anger. As it was, though, no one witnessed his mad flight or his desperate, fearful and yet hopeful expression.
He hadn't even covered half the distance, but as he turned a corner, he ran solidly into another body. Harry fell backward, with the other person on top of him, slamming his back and head onto the rock of the corridor below. He had a moment to see a message box. 'Ouch. You have run into someone pell-mell and been dumped on your ass. -2 to health.'
Rolling his eyes, he clicked that screen off, then looked down at whoever had run into them. "Oh good grief, I'm sorry, but..." he looked and stopped, staring at Imoen as she pushed herself off his chest, having somehow taken the larger and far heavier Harry off his feet in her own mad rush. "Uh, Imoen? Are you, um…" Harry trailed off, uncertain how to ask what he wanted to if, in fact, Tonks wasn't in there any longer.
"I'm in here," she said, grinning up at him and hugging him tightly, before hopping to her feet, pulling the larger Harry to his, almost stumbling in her efforts until Harry stood up on his own. "I'm here, and I remember everything we talked about yesterday. So it looks as if, even if I'm not the player, I can remember things done in this tutorial thing from one day to the next."
"Awesome," Harry said with a sigh, smiling gleefully.
"Yeah, awesome, but look, I just snuck out of reading lessons of all things with Madame Barca, and I need to get back there before she looks for me. Hopefully, I can get out of them from now on, though I don't think much about Imoen, living in this huge library and still needing reading lessons. "How do you spend your day?"
Harry recited what he normally did, but then added, "But at this point, I'm not getting anything out of it. I've stopped getting experience points from sparring or even doing any of the quests. All I can do is get materials, which is good, I suppose. I've got a lot of those jewels, more than enough for a war chest or whatever, and a lot of weapons two, but still, I don't get a lot out of staying within this tutorial area any longer."
"Is there anything you haven't tried?"
Harry frowned, thinking. "I haven't tried to get out of the castle. I don't think it's honestly possible. I haven't actually entered the Inn because I think that will make the main quest activate since Gorion has pointed me in that direction a few times as where we'll need to pick up supplies."
"Then let's stay away from that for now. You might be used to this game world, but I sure as hell ain't. So how about this. I've got stuff I need to do. Tell me about the quests you think I could do instead of you, and maybe we'll see if I can get some experience from them," Imoen proposed.
"What does Madame Barca have you doing?"
"She has me practicing lock picking, scouting, Hide-in-Shadows, which is just awesome from the few times I've been able to do it. Setting and disarming traps and reading, a lot of reading."
"That doesn't sound so bad," Harry said slowly.
"Well, it wouldn't to you, now would it?" Imoen groused. "Like I said, hopefully, I can get out of those lessons. Ugh, I had enough of that kind of lessons from Magic of History and Defense of the Dark Arts."
"No, listen," Harry said quickly. "The more you know about the world around you, the greater your wisdom points. The more you understand, the greater your intelligence. Both of those are really important. They impact your ability to protect yourself from mental attacks, and a few other things like barter and stuff like that."
"It's a small skill that activates when you try to buy or sell something. It did to me once when I tried to sell off one of the gems I was getting from mistress Phyldia since I didn't know how much they were worth," Harry said, shrugging his shoulders. "I think everyone has that kind of thing."
"Okay, but that's not a normal skill to have then," she held up her hand as Harry made to speak. "I mean, it is something that I doubt would be in the regular game. I've played RPGs before this, and most of them don't go into that kind of minute detail, like barter level two or something."
"So you're saying I should look around for other skills to add? Skills that wouldn't necessarily be important in normal RPGs, but which would help us going forward?"
"I think so, yeah," Imoen said with a nod. "I mean, have you actually tried cooking on your own?"
"No, I mean the food is so awful here, why would I try? And whenever I go into the kitchen, I just help everyone else there. I don't cook on my own."
"Do it, Harry," Imoen practically ordered. "I think there's more to this world and more to skills than you've figured out just yet."
Frowning, Harry thought about it for a moment, then nodded. "Okay, but in return, I want you to train me up in those spells of yours."
"You've got a deal, Harry," Imoen held out her hand, and they shook on it. "We'll meet up for a late lunch, and we'll spend the rest of the day together going over stuff like that and figuring out what I can and can't do and the impact of the Blood Spells. We should also go over combat, maybe even spar together," she went on her Auror side coming out as she began to pace along the corridor, five paces to one side of Harry, five the other. "I'll need to figure out how different it is, I know you're used to it, but I'm not. Furthermore, perhaps my own skillset will help you learn more than just fighting the same opponent every day, to say nothing of me needing to start thinking like a thief in a fight rather than a witch. With the hit my health points take with our blood spells, they can't be my first recourse."
That made a lot of sense to Harry, and he nodded. "Just remember, follow the little red dot when you want to attack, although even finding out if you see the red dot or not should be interesting."
It turned out that while she did see the same red dot Harry did in hand-to-hand combat, Imoen had none of the skills that Harry had in swords or anything else beyond the short sword, and even in that, she only had a basic understanding, or what Harry knew equated to one skill point used on the weapon. She did seem to have a natural dexterity that was nearly equal to his own, and her agility was astonishing. This last point led to their greatest surprise since Imoen's soul had been transposed into Imoen's body.
"What the heck!?" Imoen said as she flipped and rolled away from a blow from Harry. Harry immediately backed up, looking at her quizzically and then up at the status screen that both of them could see.
You have activated the combat ability, Fight Like a Jackrabbit! Due to your inherent agility, you can fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
+10 to Evasion, plus 5 to Strength.
Is that an active or passive skill?" Imoen muttered, staring at the message avidly, completely delighted.
"Passive, active?" Harry repeated blankly.
With a sigh, Imoen talked about what that meant, explaining the RPG terms. "A passive skill adds to your basic stats, like your 'Potter Luck', which is always acting in the background passively without you needing to do anything. An Active Skill is something we activate, sometimes using it over a set amount of time. Like your Turn Undead paladin skill."
Imoen's new skill was quickly proven to be a mix of the two types. She couldn't activate it, but it started up on its own when in combat and stayed active for a set amount of time.
"That's incredible!" Harry said excitedly. "I wonder if I can learn something like that?"
"Maybe, or maybe it's a specialty skill Imoen developed before I came along. I doubt you'd get the same thing." Imoen cautioned. "Besides, given your ability to use armor, you wouldn't need to dodge as much as I do since I'll only be wearing leather or light chain mail." She scowled. "If Miss Noodle Arm's body can even handle that. She should've really eaten more Wheaties, you know?"
After they were washing up, wiping away the sweat from their faces, Imoen asked, "So, how did cooking go?"
"Oddly enough, pretty good. I eventually made the bread taste like, well, regular bread. It turns out that cooking is just another skill here. I can use my previous knowledge of it to help me raise my basic skill pretty quickly, I think." Harry replied. "I'd never even thought about trying to cook something for myself. Everything had been so bland and uninteresting that I didn't think we could do anything about it. It even becomes a new skill, Master Chef, but it's not like my combat skills. It's more like an ability, one that needs to be worked at and raised, not something that gives an immediate gain."
"Excellent!" Imoen said with a nod. "I was able to do those quests you told me about, finding Mistress Phlydia's book, that kind of thing, and get some experience out of it. Not a lot, 250, does that match with what you got?"
"It does. I think that is sort of the norm for quests like that, two hundred or thereabouts for small-time stuff, a thousand for more involved quests, with anything above that being extreme but not impossible, Harry said, tossing the rag he had been using to clear his face away. Fighting Imoen was tougher than fighting arms master, not because of any lack of skill in the arms master's skill, but because Imoen was faster and far more active than the older man. "Now, let's test out that Mage of the Blood stuff. And by the way, did you get that restriction that you can no longer dual-class as a mage?"
"Mage, yes, but I wonder if that means I can't dual-class as a wizard," Imoen replied. "But you're right. It's time for your instructions in wizard-type warfare." Honestly, given her original ability and experience, Imoen/Imoen had thought she'd be able to beat Harry with relative ease, but she had been surprised by his skill and fighting ability. Let's find a vacant room and start testing stuff."
By the end of the day, Harry had added a few more spells to his own 'spellbook' and had walked Imoen through basically hanging the spells to one side of her mind and then casting them with a single gesture, rather than going through all the ridiculous hand movements that she had been using the evening before. However, she had a vast repertoire of spells, both specific to combat and others that weren't meant for that but could still be used as such.
Yet, they found out that the cost was worse for Harry for some reason. The Stupefy spell for her took ten health, whereas it took twenty from Harry. They guessed that that was a class thing, like their health being different. Although why the difference was so high, Harry didn't know.
"I'd bet it could be because Imoen was once being trained as a mage," Harry said slowly. "She had the training for a bit, but then she decided being a thief was more fun than being a wizard, so she changed her base class. I think Madame Barca convinced her of something too since she's a dual-class thief/mage herself."
"Jeez, it feels weird to hear things like that about the body I'm now inhabiting when I don't remember it. Well, whatever the case on why it costs you more to cast 'em, you've done great, Harry," Imoen complimented him. "You were able to add those three spells to your repertoire faster than I expected, if I'm honest. Those are seventh level spells, and you are only going into your second year. Now admittedly, you've got this new, adult body to play with, but still, your ability to use spells like that tells me how good a student you are."
"And your teaching ability," Harry said ruefully. You definitely blow Professor Quirrell out of the water in a single day compared to what he could teach us in a year. And that's without the whole attempting to kill me thing."
Imoen blinked. "...The what? You mean those rumors about you and him having some kind of epic duel and him dying were real!? You dog, you didn't mention that last night in your stories!" She quipped, smacking her fist lightly on his shoulder.
He flinched slightly, and she frowned. Harry definitely did not take joshing around physically like that very well. But Imoen was determined to get him used to that and physical affection from a family member very quickly. "You'll have to tell me about it over dinner. For now, do you think you found enough other things to concentrate on that you can put up with me wanting to spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks in this tutorial thing?"
Harry winced. "Um, I suppose if we can continue training at night, that would be fine. But I didn't really find anything else to add to my skills. I can't raise my combat skills further without actual experience to level up my base level, and there aren't any more quests here. Cooking is... okay and is a great thing to experiment with. But it won't keep my attention for days on end."
"What about relationships," Imoen said, waggling her eyebrows outrageously. "That barmaid of yours, or Mistress Phlydia."
Harry blushed, looking away. "I've tried to, well, you I told you that I..."
"Yeah, you told me that you raised their relationship status with you to 'interested in you' a time or two, and then stopped. Can you raise it further, is there anything you'll get out of it? You said you got a plus one to your charisma. What does charisma do beyond the obvious?"
Harry explained how charisma helped you convince people you were telling the truth, general handsomeness, which impacted how people dealt with you in a lot of social situations, and how it directly impacted the Barter ability, and she nodded slowly. "Okay, so charisma actually will matter when we're out and about. What is your charisma at this point?"
"Fifteen," Harry replied.
"Is that high or low?"
"I don't know," Harry said, shrugging his shoulders, looking uncomfortable. "But are we really talking about me doing this? I mean, didn't you say..."
"Harry, I said that manipulating this tutorial so you could sleep with a girl and she wouldn't remember it the next day is wrong," Imoen interjected. "But I didn't say anything about you using this day just to get close to the girls, did I? There's a difference between being manipulative and simply making up for lost time. You're eighteen, you've known at least this bar girl for years now, right? Your character has, I mean."
Harry nodded hesitantly.
"In that case, you're just making up for lost time, like I said. As long as you don't let it go too far. Simply talk to the girl, and when it comes to kissing, tell her or Mistress Phlydia. If you go that route," she interrupted her flow to wink teasingly at Harry, who blushed rosily under her gaze. She knew that Harry actually found Phlydia more attractive than the bar girl.
Not that I can see it, that bar girl has a spanking pair of knockers., Imoen thought somewhat jealously as she glanced down at her barely A-cup chest. On the other hand, maybe Harry just has a thing for brainy girls? Or older women? It will be fun to find out which. "Whoever it is, just tell them that you're in it for fun, that you don't want to go too far. I bet they'll be very thankful for that, considering that I don't think this world has any kind of contraceptive spell or condoms."
"What are condoms? I've never heard the name before. I know what a contraception spell would be anyway. The name is sort of descriptive." Harry said, blushing yet quizzical.
"A condom is this rubber balloon thing that muggles put over the chap's wedding tackle to catch his... emissions," Imoen explained, grinning as Harry became more flushed with every word. "Am I embarrassing you enough now? I could go on. I hear they've started to experiment with giving 'em flavors somehow."
"Why do I think you're enjoying this?" Harry groused, his cheeks flushing further.
"I'm an older female family member Harry," Imoen said, watching as Harry twitched at the word 'family' but going on smoothly. "It's part of my job description to embarrass you. Just be thankful I'm not doing it in front of anyone else."
"Oh yes, I'm so thankful for that," Harry grumbled. He looked away for a moment, then back to Imoen, his face still flushed at the idea of what they were talking about and yet also thoughtful. "But you really think that there'd be an upshot to me doing this?"
"I think so, Harry," she said with a nod. Then she sighed and looked around them, gesturing around at the world. "Look, your ability to cook things that can actually taste to our senses, that tells me something else is going on here. No way could a computer guess how things are supposed to taste. That computer didn't transport you into a world created. It transported you to another world entirely. One where there is a layer of Game System or whatever, or else Gorion and Madame Barca wouldn't know anything about that kind of thing, which they do. That means we might be here for a lot longer than I had thought."
"You mean like the rest of our lives?" Harry asked. He was actually kind of pleased about that. It wasn't as if Harry had much of a life back home anyway, and beyond Hermione and Ron, who hadn't been talking to him that summer anyway, making him wonder about their friendship, Harry doubted anyone would miss him, the real Harry, not the Boy Who Lived. And he certainly wouldn't miss being back there with his relatives, wondering why Dumbledore wanted him there and was so interested in his being alive, but not well. And this world, well, it called out to the explorer in him. It was so much bigger, so much wider than the world Harry had begun to explore back home.
"Yeah," Imoen said with a sigh. She could tell that Harry was kind of happy about that, but she was quite ambivalent about it. She had friends back home, a family that loved her, that would no doubt miss her. Which is everything that Harry doesn't have back there, at least according to him. Though I do wonder why his two friends cut off contact with him.
"So like I said, I think that adding to our ability to live here, to your ability to interact with other people, that's a good thing in the long run. And besides that, this whole relationship thing, it's got to mean more than we've discovered so far. Even taking into account your little bump in charisma for getting the barmaid interested in you." She laughed then, shaking her head. "Didn't the game tell you something about that?"
"No, it told me not to get a swelled head because Cassandra's only a barmaid, though I still don't know what that means or what rumor says about them." At Harry's words, Imoen had to bite her lip to keep from laughing, but she was just successful enough to let Harry continue. "Alright, I suppose we can try this." Then he smirked at her. "So long as you agree to be my guinea pig in terms of my cooking skills anyway."
"Deal," Imoen said, holding out a hand to them. They shook and then began to create what would be at their schedule for the rest of their time in the tutorial.
Hermione frowned, staring up in the sky before sighing and heading back inside disconsolately. Her mother saw her coming and raised an eyebrow. "Another day without a message from your friends, Hermione?" she asked solicitously.
The younger brunette nodded, staring at her mother, who shared her own wild, wavy hair, although hers were a light blonde color, whereas Hermione had gotten her hair color from her father. "Yes, mum. I could almost think that Ronald at least has simply forgotten. That would be in keeping with his general personality," she huffed before going on almost plaintively. "But Harry? He and I promised to contact one another as often as we could this summer, and not only has he not tried to initiate any contact, he hasn't followed up on any of the messages I sent to him! Not even my questions about his homework."
Chuckling a little at how affronted her daughter sounded at that last point, Dr. Granger leaned back and scratched at the tip of her nose for a moment, a habitual sign that she was thinking. "Ronald was the one who contacted you those first few weeks, I believe?"
"Right, and then he slowly started to stop. It got to the point where I stopped sending him messages at all either. But I've kept trying to send messages to Harry, and he hasn't been responding at all!" Hermione scowled, actually stamping her foot in frustration. "I hate this! I don't like being cut off at all from the rest of the wizarding world, and especially my friends. Especially Harry, I, I'm worried," she paused, looking a little guilty even as she said that.
This wasn't the first time Hermione had broken off talking about Harry, and her mother, whose first name was Emma, had decided she'd had enough. "Hermione," she said firmly, "there's something about Harry that you're not telling me. This isn't 'a daddy get your dental drill' thing either. It's something entirely different. Some secret, and I don't mean that drivel about how he's the Boy Who Lived, I know you well enough to know that you wouldn't care one way or the other about that after meeting him and finding he's so unlike what the books say." The gentle teasing tone caused her daughter to flush, but Emma didn't let up. "So, talk."
"It's just well... okay, those stories are part of it," Hermione grumbled. "I don't think he's seen any royalties from them, and more, generally speaking, he, well, while his robes were good, he didn't wear anything else that looked like they fit. They looked like very nasty hand-me-downs, kind of like Uncle Frederick's that daddy tried to wear that one time."
Wincing at the idea of a young boy wearing such obese clothing, her mother made a humming noise, indicating Hermione should go on.
"There's the way he kind of flinched away when I tried to hug him. I, I don't know what to make of that. And I know he's smarter than he lets on!" Hermione finally shouted, as if she'd been keeping that in for a while. "He's always one of the first to pick up spells, and he can even describe them to other people easily. But his writing is so horrible! And I know I've caught him at least a few times trying to, to dumb down what he's doing in terms of his essays."
"And then there's the attention he sometimes gets. A lot of the time, Harry seemed to just want to hide. I don't know what it all means, but it's very worrisome. And he doesn't ever talk about his home life, ever. I've told them about you and daddy. I've heard a lot about Ronald's family, his brothers, his parents. I've even heard about some of our other friend's family's occasionally. But Harry's never told us anything other than his relatives' names and that they don't like magic. That's why I was so interested in keeping in contact with Harry this summer. I thought he might appreciate having someone to talk to." Hermione finished, frowning in worry.
"I see," Dr. Granger said thoughtfully. So, possible neglect at the very least, certainly apathy and disdain. "And you keep on going to the alley to use one of the owls from the Owl Post there, correct? Have you tried any other means of contacting them? Such as looking him up in the phone book?"
Hermione blinked, then shook her head. "I don't think that would work. He told me that there's some kind of protection on his house to keep people from finding it."
"Yes, but you've also told me that magicals lack a certain logic? So perhaps if you use entirely non-magical means, you might have better luck."
With a smile appearing on her face at that bit of forward-thinking, Hermione nodded and was about to race off to find the yellow book when there was a flutter of wings to one side. Emma turned as her daughter did and gasped in delight and wonder. "My word! That is the most beautiful bird I've ever seen."
The snowy owl now perched on the windowsill preened a little as if she understood what Emma had said, looking at her in favor, before turning her attention towards Hermione. Her eyes almost narrowed before she stuck out in a foot holding a message.
Hermione hesitantly reached for it, nodding at Hedwig. "Thank you, Hedwig, um, we have some bacon for you somewhere, just let me read this first." Moments later, she was shaking her head, nibbling her bottom lip worriedly. "Oh Harry, what have you gotten yourself into now?"
Harry got up, and talked to Gorion for a while, then gestured to his face, "I'll need to go and shave and shower though before I meet with the Master of Arms." Like Harry had known, this would let him start the interaction with Cassandra in the baths.
As before, Harry flirted with her to the best of his slowly growing ability in that area from within the basin. He once more got to the part where she said she would see him when Harry dropped some chopped wood off at the inn, but this time instead of agreeing, Harry caught her hand, slowly working his thumb along the back of her hand before slowly raising it to his lips kissing it gently, "So what if I said I wanted a bit more than just a discount on beer?"
Cassandra giggled, shaking her head. "Heh, what kind of girl do you think I am, Harry?" She waited for a heartbeat to see if Harry would say anything and when he didn't, she went on still teasingly. "Besides, do you think your vows would take it if I responded in kind?" She asked, licking her lips and looking Harry up and down again.
"I, *gulp* I'm not talking about anything like that. Just, maybe having a picnic between ourselves, or, or simply walking around the castle together?" Harry asked, his newfound ease with flirting disappearing now that he had to talk about more important things than simple physical attraction.
To his surprise, Cassandra actually blushed at that, looking completely nonplussed at the idea of actual romance rather than just a roll in the hay. "Just for fun, right? I, I mean..."
Blinking, Harry slowly nodded, and feeling a bit bolder, went on. "You know I, Gorion and I are going on a journey soon. So, whatever happens, it can't be anything serious."
"Good," Cassandra said firmly. "I'm not interested in anything serious, either, Harry. Maybe if you were going to become a Watcher yourself, or Master at Arms to the keep, that'd be different, but you're not. You're an adventurer, I've seen your type come and go, and I'm not going to pine after you or anything like that. But... if you stop by the inn's backyard as I asked and cut us some wood for the rest of the week, well, we'll have to see."
Harry nodded and released her hand. Cassandra smirked at him before leaning down over the basin and kissing him on the cheek right next to his mouth. "I'll see you then, Harry," she said, her voice turning throaty somehow before she turned and swished out of the room.
As she did so, Cassandra moved her hips in such a way that it mesmerized Harry, swishing from one side to another. The effect was so great he had to ask Imoen later, "how do women do that?"
"Do what?" Imoen asked as she grimaced at the taste of the soup Harry had made. "It wasn't very good, very bland frankly, and what chicken taste she was getting was most distinctly burned.
Looking at her face, Harry grumbled and shook his head. Back to the drawing board on that. And I meant how do you girls swish your hips? It's like, almost like, well hypnotic almost."
"It's a secret magic every girl has. If I tried to explain it to you, I'd have to kill you afterward," Imoen replied with a grin.
Harry laughed. "Well, we wouldn't want that, would we?"
Over the next few days, the two of them spent lunch and most of the afternoon getting to know one another. This was a very slow, stilted process since even though Harry was helping the pink-haired girl, he was still hurt by her admission that as Tonks, she hadn't approached him despite knowing they were related. He was also a private individual and so didn't share much of anything about his life back in their old dimension with Imoen.
For her part, Imoen recognized that, setting aside her Tonks name entirely, and decided not to push, instead simply observing Harry and willing to listen to whatever he was willing to tell her. She saw how occasionally he went from confident and acting his body's age at times to not in others. It was as if Harry didn't know what he was, an 18-year-old trained warrior or a twelve-year-old who had seen too much in the way of hardship and pain in his young life. Regardless, those moments of confusion were slowly fading away. Indeed, they were doing so a hell of a lot faster than they should, in Imoen's opinion. She could almost see Harry setting aside what remained of his childhood as the days passed by.
Emotionally though, there were still signs of his inner youth. Girls, in particular, seemed to be confusing to him. It was evident he had discovered how to treat each of the girls who showed interest in him, but he didn't know why they wanted to be treated that way. So besides pushing him to figure out this relationship stuff, Imoen took it upon herself to tell him a bit about girls: the types of girls he would meet, how to spot a high maintenance girl, a girl who was only out for herself, and the types of relationships that he could form, as well as how to spot if he was becoming emotionally attached to a girl or vice-versa and if that was a bad thing.
This took several days, but when she was running out of things to teach Harry about girls in general, Imoen and Harry received a surprise in the form of a stat boost for each of them. Harry's read:
Now was that so hard? Thanks to your cousin Imoen's hard work, you have discovered a bit about how women think and that all women are not created the same and what to look for and what to watch out for.
+1 to Wisdom.
At the same time, Imoen's read:
Congratulations, through perseverance and putting into words things you, as a woman, have always instinctually known, you have forced information through the mind of a 12-turned-18-year-old boy, a feat worthy of one of the gods.
+1 to Intelligence."
It wasn't the first stat bonus Imoen had seen. She'd gotten a few such messages by reading the information books and going to classes with Barca. Although helpful, the stats hadn't amounted to much, four to Wisdom, two to Constitution, and one to Dexterity. And that had been at the start. After the first few days, she hadn't seen any, and Imoen was very pleased to see this one now. It gave her hope that in the future, she could find more. If not during the tutorial, then out in the real world.
Dismissing the message, she turned to Harry and found him staring at his own message. "What's wrong, Harry?"
"I, you, you weren't doing this just to tease me? You…" Harry trailed off, staring at Tonks then the message, unable to voice what else he was thinking.
Moving around Harry to read over his shoulder, Imoen smirked, then put her arms around Harry's shoulders. "Well, for one thing, yeah, teasing you is fun, but I did really also want to help you. As for that message, 'course I consider you family ya big lug. I'm just sorry my own fears made me not reach out to you when I could have. But now that we're here, I'm going to do my bloody damn best by you, Harry."
Hesitantly Harry reached up and put his arms around Tonks's in turn. Above her, the relationship turned from 'Friendly' to 'Friends'.
Beyond helping Harry further acclimatize to his enhanced age and girls, Imoen also got to grips with her thieving. She learned how to hide in the shadows, set traps, find traps and pickpocket, which was just fun. More than once, Harry found himself light a few coins or gems, with her walking away whistling jauntily. The two personalities of Imoen and Imoen had merged a little too well, in his opinion. Still, she was a delight to be around, and having someone else around who remembered what happened the day before, was utterly fantastic.
This helps offset the hurt that Harry felt when he started to flirt more purposefully with Cassandra when he ran into her. It took seven iterations of flirting with the free-spirited barmaid before Harry could stop making a fool of himself on their little dates, either by coming on a little too strong or by turning into a stuttering mess when it got to the point where she was more interested than then amused by his flirtations. For the first few times, she had simply been manipulating him in a way, or at least not making or not taking him very seriously, and Harry had paid for it, in the form of gems and gold and even some embarrassment.
That served to spur Harry on further, and he continued to try to raise their relationship status. Eventually, it paid off, and one day, Imoen looked up from where she had been sitting in what had become their normal evening meeting place to smile at Harry. This was a small, out of the way tree castle's grounds, near its orchards but not part of them. As she looked at her cousin, Imoen's smile segued into a bit of a smirk, and she leaned back against the tree as she crossed her arms under her all-too-petite chest staring at Harry. "I take it your date went well?"
"Kissing is great," Harry replied, his eyes wide and unseeing.
"Yeah, it is, if you do it well. I take it Cassandra can?" Imoen asked, trying not to laugh. But when Harry simply replied by another 'kissing is great' line and stumbled, tripping over a tree root, she lost it. Imeon began to cackle, shaking her head from side to side. When she recovered, she asked teasingly, "And did this lead you to a new skill?"
Harry blinked, finally becoming aware of the world around them, then opened his status screen for a moment, perusing it quickly. "I wouldn't think so. I mean, why would kissing... Then he frowned as he read a new skill added in among his others. "Perception?"
He clicked on it and read the description aloud.
Through your due diligence in pursuing interactions with those of the female persuasion, you have unlocked an advanced skill, Perception! This skill will allow you to read your fellow men to a large degree. The degree to which you can do so will be prevalent upon your skill with this particular talent.
It can allow you to tell if someone is lying, someone is interested in you, what that could mean, or if your actions please or displease an individual. Needless to say, this skill can be used in many different areas of life…
"Wow," he mused before reading on. "'Ties into your combat ability, Crowd Watching skill and Identify.' I understand the first two, but not the last one."
Smirking now that she had been right that there was a reason for Harry to pursue relationships even in this tutorial, Imoen smiled at him. "My young padawan, you have much to learn. Crowd watching, that's sort of an interesting ability that a lot of policemen have. It helps you to spot people who are a danger to themselves or those around them and who might break into violence at any moment. You can spot thieves, maybe even someone who is using Hide-in-Shadows eventually. And of course, if you're looking for a specific person, it becomes much easier. As for the last one, I'd wager that has something to do with spotting whether or not gems are real or something like that."
"Bloody Brilliant! I can see how all of those would be useful. But why the heck was it tied into a relationship and my, my learning how to kiss?" Harry blushed, looking away, once more looking like a much younger, less self-assured boy.
"Because relationships are easier than any of the rest of that stuff in many ways and reading body language, which is important in any relationship, is a big part of Perception," Imoen explained. "It makes sense."
"Yeah, maybe to you. Not to me," Harry pouted.
Imoen smiled, pulling Harry down to sit next to her and putting an arm over his broad shoulders. "Now come on, was it all that... hard?"
"Yes!" Harry shot out, not acknowledging the joke she's made out of that last word. "I still have no idea why she responded better to my saying that I found her eyes prettier than her hair, or why she responded better to me when I bent over to cut the logs rather than faced her as I did it flexing my arms. I thought that you know, showing off my chest would be a good idea once I found she liked how I looked, but no."
"Well, some girls like a tight arse just like many a man and most of the time, it's awfully hard to look without getting caught. As for the eye and hair, that's simpler. Hair is easy to see and comment on, but the eyes are different. They're harder to remember, and of course, they are called the windows to the soul for a reason." Imoen elaborated. I feel like a romance coach.
"But, but when I just tried to comment about how she was probably a good person on underneath her beauty, Cassandra seemed to think I was lying," Harry questioned, looked a little distraught at the idea that someone would think he'd lie about something like that.
"That was probably down to your wording Harry. And the timing. And the individual," Imoen added after a second. "Cassandra isn't looking for you to fall in love with her. She isn't looking to have a permanent relationship, heck the bargirl told you that herself. So, Cassandra might have been scared off a little. She might indeed have thought you were taking the mickey, making fun of her, you know?"
Imoen waved her hand airily. "The point is, all women are different, you can't woo them all of them in the same manner, and you can't trot out any of those old hoary lines about inner beauty or some such unless it's at the appropriate time, and she's the one that brings up whether or not you'd like her for her body or her personality."
"Why in the heck isn't there a book on this kind of thing?" Harry grumbled. "And do you really think it's worth the effort here? In the tutorial phase, I mean. I'm a little… concerned… about trying to get further with Cassandra at this point." He added, now sounding somewhat guilty. "We're really coming up to the line where it begins to be less about making up for lost time and more about manipulation."
"Then stop," Imoen answered simply. "You can switch to flirting with Mistress Phlydia if it's starting to bother you with Cassandra. As for there not being a book about this kind of thing, that's what society is supposed to teach you, Harry. You're supposed to learn from your, well, from me." Imoen smacked her chest while she skirted around using the word family.
"There are a lot of unwritten rules about interacting with girls and girls interacting with boys, and most of them have to do with how society perceives that kind of thing. For example, the Muggles back home are much more liberal about how long a couple can date than wizarding society is. You can get away with dressing differently. You can get away with dating for a lot longer. Yet, at the same time, the idea of a girl asking a boy out would be seen as kind of odd in the muggle world. Whereas in the Wizarding World, you could get away with that. Our clothing is far more conservative, but there's a lot more equality between the sexes in the Wizarding World."
"And here?" Harry asked pointedly, gesturing around them.
"Medieval times Harry," Imoen was thoughtful as she replied. "That means only the middle class really have dates as we would understand the term, although they would probably call it courtship regardless of the class. I would assume that nobles and royalty can have arranged relationships, which is pure crap, in my opinion. You know why my mother had to run away to marry my father. The lower class, girls like your Cassandra…"
Imeon paused as Harry seemed to bristle, and she held up a hand hurriedly. "I'm not saying she's a hick or that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just saying she's a peasant, someone who wasn't born into wealth or into any kind of high society, that's all. Girls like her, well, their experiences and prospects can vary wildly. And those prospects will have to color how you act towards them and vice-versa, because, for that class of girl, her prospects are never that good. It's either housewife, bar girl, or an adventurer, I suppose, unless they know enough to go into a trade. And adventurers are an entirely different breed."
"That's true enough," Harry nodded. "I wonder," he mused, pulling up the Perception dialogue again and staring at it. "I wonder if this would be able to tell me more about my enemies and friends, I mean, I'd really like to know more about Gorion's stats, but I'm not able to see any of that stuff even if he is family."
Imoen wondered if Harry knew that he wore a bright grin every time he mentioned the word 'family' in context with Gorion. I wonder how long it'll be before he trusts me like that. For now, she simply smiled to herself, patting him on the knee. "Well, there's only one way to find out, isn't there? See how you can raise your Perception. That announcement box mentioned several aspects of Perception that you can test, can't you?"
"Yeah," Harry said, suddenly enthusiastic. "That does sound a great idea!"
Over the next few days, Harry concentrated on that aspect of his Gamer ability, although he did step away from flirting further with Cassandra, instead switching to hanging out with Phlydia. To his very well-hidden pleasure, he could not raise their relationship level nearly as quickly as doing so with Cassandra had been, which made him feel a lot better about the whole thing.
Phyldia was an older, somewhat scatter-brained elven woman a few hundred years old who loved learning things, books and gems in that order. She was a fit, svelte woman, somewhat like Imoen was, with a tan and a small but very perky chest with long legs put on display by a dress that had a long slit to either side, letting them be shown whenever she moved. She had short black hair, and eyes, and a faintly whimsical, smiling sort of face.
And unlike Cassandra, she simply wasn't all that interested in jumping into any kind of relationship, whereas Cassandra was, after a certain point, very interested in a physical relationship. Phlydia also was able to teach him more about gems when he started to ask her questions about the gem she gave him as her reward for the quest to find her glasses.
This led directly into Perception again, letting him raise it. The perception skill was raised in percentages as Harry used it, which made it a very different type of skill from most he had encountered. His cooking skill was similar, but it grew in large clumps, whereas the perception skill was very slow to raise.
While this was going on, Imoen also raised her stats as much as possible, which unfortunately wasn't very much. There just weren't very many quests in the tutorial that directly impacted the stats, and those that gave experience stopped giving experience quickly as you redid them. This left her to practice her thief abilities, which, much like Harry's perception skill and cooking skills, was only raised in percentages, and again for limited returns after she redid the same things.
This wasn't exactly a smooth process. Three times she was nearly attacked by Watchers for having tried to sneak into areas that she shouldn't be. Twice, she tried to pickpocket, only to be attacked by the individual whose pocket she was trying to pick, with everyone else around them piling in on his side of things. It was only because of Imoen's past habits and some very quick talking on her part that got her out of it.
And of course, she also had to fight to get that kind of time free from her lessons with Madame Barca, who looked down on her pickpocketing skills and her general irreverent attitude. Barca wanted to concentrate their lessons on Hide-in-Shadows and trap detection and creation. Or rather, those were the only lessons she gave Imoen that the pink-haired girl actually listened to.
They did find that Imoen had a skill slot spent on short bows. That one skill slot allowed Imoen to hold it right and pull the string back and fire faster with each skill slot. And like in combat, there was a little bouncing ball of light, which she had to aim for. If she didn't hit that spot, she missed entirely, or her arrow bounced off the target's armor, though hitting it could mean a lot of different things.
But soon enough, even that didn't excite Imoen's interest. In barely half the time it took Harry to do the same thing, Imoen got to the point where she wasn't learning anything new in this Tutorial Phase. After one rather boring day, she found Harry at their meeting spot before her. This was something that had only rarely happened, considering the time he spent with Phlydia or with Gorion.
The instant Imoen came into sight, Harry looked at her and stood up, his body almost trembling as he said abruptly. "All right, I'm done. I know you think you might have more to learn here, but I don't, and this is getting ridiculous. We have to move on. I have to move on. This whole everyone else forgetting thing is getting to me again, I feel like we're manipulating everyone, and I am not learning anything new!"
"This doesn't have anything to do with the fact that your actually becoming enamored with Phlydia, does it?" Imoen teased, while inside, she was still a little leery about moving on. A part of her, a small, admittedly naive part, had hoped that the two of them would be rescued by this point, that the question of moving on would never come up. But it had, and Imoen knew she would have to deal with it. Imoen was also very concerned about how real the game, or rather this new life of theirs, would become once they left this tutorial phase.
Still, she couldn't argue with the fact that neither of them was learning anything new any longer. She couldn't raise her basic thieving skills anymore, without raising her actual level any longer, not without taking a lot of lumps. And the last time she had tried something outrageous enough to do that, Madame Barca had actually let her stew in the little cell that Candlekeep kept for malcontents for the rest of the day. That had not been fun, especially since Harry had been forbidden to come and see her and had actually listened to it too. Seriously, I've seen him act out occasionally. Why couldn't he have acted out there?
"No!" Harry said, flushing a little at Imoen's question. He did find Phlydia a little, okay, a lot fascinating. Her more erudite and more experienced air, experienced in a very different way than Cassandra - it was hard to describe - really interested him. But Harry had been telling the truth when he said that he was once again edging into manipulation territory with the way he acted around her in just the right way to get the best reaction. But it was also the case that he was no longer be able to add anything to his perception skill or cooking skills.
Imoen sighed. "Okay, I suppose we can move on. The question is, how."
"That's easy at least," Harry chuckled. "I go and meet Gorion outside the inn, then head into the inn like he said to pick up the supplies from the innkeeper. I come back out, I meet him, and we go." Despite his flirting with Cassandra, Harry had been careful not to enter the inn, concerned it would start the process of ending the tutorial before they were ready.
"That's fine for you, but what about me?" Imoen growled, poking Harry in the chest. "Remember what I said about you leaving me behind, Potter."
"Sneak out?" Harry shrugged. "Don't tell me you haven't been looking around for places to get out of Candlekeep."
"Yeah, but remember, I got caught and told if I go out, I'm not coming back." Through this, the two of them had learned that it was even more difficult than they had supposed to enter the famous library. It was such a depository of knowledge that it could demand an outrageous price to enter it: a million gold coins or a single book that could not already be found within.
"Why should that matter? I don't think that we're going to be coming back." Harry shrugged.
"Point," Imoen said with a nod. "Okay, tomorrow we'll leave then. While your meeting with Gorion and going on your way, I'll be looking around for a place to escape. I'll catch up with you outside somewhere."
With a plan in mind, the two of them went over their supplies and then just hung out for the rest of the day, waiting for the Tutorial Phase to once more reset.
"What do you mean you've misplaced my partner?" Moody growled in anger, his wand pressing into Croaker's chest.
"Did you know she intended to sneak down here?" Croaker asked, not backing down.
"Of course not, but that sounds like her. The little lass was worried about the target of our investigation changing. Now tell me why Tonks was able to sneak down here at all. You lot might not be the most vigilant, but you do have some security here. No chance someone from another department could have just waltzed down here, even a fully trained Metamorph."
We did let her in," Croaker admitted. "We wanted to see what Nymphadora could do since there isn't a single Muggleborn in the department. Oh, we know what computers are, but we have very little idea about how they work, let alone the concept of 'programming'."
Another Unspeakable spoke up from near the computer they had removed from Potter's house, shaking his head, his face unseen in his hood. "We had hoped she knew more about it, but we hadn't anticipated she would just reactivate the thing! Honestly, what are they teaching Aurors these days? Never trust anything unless you can see where it keeps its brain."
"Hah, own up, my friend. We hadn't thought that it was possible at all for her to activate the computer like that given the magic dampeners we have all around here." Croaker said.
He was interrupted as Moody poked him with his wand again. "So, how do we get her back, huh? And Potter too. There's only so much longer we can keep a lid on that. Merlin, I know Dumbledore's been forced to sit on Potter's Muggleborn friend already, the one Potter sent his owl to. Bright lass, and feisty too. It'll take spells to keep her silent before too long."
"There had been a time when it would have been Albus there," Croaker said, one eyebrow rising in surprise.
"Yeah, well, let's just say his idea of Constant Vigilance and mine have started to differ of late," Croaker groused. "Don't talk as if you're all that happy with him either, leaving Potter out in the cold like that, with no way to contact him or even for Potter to protect himself. Dumbledore's bought into his own hype about second chances too much."
"Hmm… well we know at least thanks to young Ms. Granger, and you can't have her Moody, my department saw her first, that Harry had some role in his own disappearance. I could wish he had mentioned the name of the house-elf who helped him repair his computer, but whatever the case, we have been able to figure out what happened there: the house-elf and Potter's magic warred with the intent of the Soul Trap. So whoever powered up the computer was not absorbed, but rather, sent somewhere." Croaker began, gesturing over to the computer.
"Where?" Moody asked, finally letting his wand fall. It was not a great consolation. Croaker knew the man had another wand somewhere on him and a few magical items that were strong enough to work even here. There was a reason Moody had survived two Dark Lords, after all.
"Do you know anything about the alternate dimension theory?" the other Unspeakable asked. When Moody shook his head, the Unspeakable sighed theatrically. "In that case, just take it as a given that they have gone very far away indeed. And we can't get them back. We can't reverse the spell. Obviously, it was more than one spell, and it was the muddle of spells rather than a single unified effort that created the effect that sent them away. We would have to find a way to somehow discover their location in another manner before we can even try to. It would be like trying to find a single specific fish in the sea!"
Moody growled, then sent a series of ostensibly nonlethal spells at the man, a weightless spell followed by a tickling charm aimed at his feet, then a featherlight charm followed by the summoning charm. As he began to bounce the man off the walls and ignore his shouts of outrage and pain, Moody addressed Croaker. "Then you best get to building a bloody fishing pole, hadn't you!?"
Rolling his eyes, Croaker began to talk his old friend down from his semi-murderous anger, as well as trying to explain the difficulty of that task. "Besides, I think we might have something more important to worry about. That little diary we found on the Malfoy estate. That, that is a dangerous little item Moody, for all its unassuming appearance. Indeed, it might indicate that perhaps Voldemort's minions are not all we have to fear."
For the moment, even with the number of missing people having risen by one, Croaker and his associates had far more on their minds. However, if that state of affairs would continue once Harry Potter didn't show up for school, no one could say.
the next day, Harry did not meet with Cassandra. He did not go off to find Phlydia. Harry instead met with the arms master and defeated him in record time before going directly to find Gorion. He was talking with Candlekeep's blacksmith, a large man with massive arms who was the second hairiest man Harry had ever seen. The two of them were going over a parchment together, but Gorion looked up as Harry approached. "Ah, Harry, have you said your farewells?"
"I have Gorion," Harry announced with a smile. "I'm ready to go."
"Excellent. In that case, you can go pick up our supplies from the inn." Pulling out one of the parchment sheets that he and the blacksmith were going over, Gorion held it out to Harry. "I'll be here still quibbling over the price of this armor that I wanted to purchase for you from our resident Smith here."
Harry chuckled at that and bowed his head towards the blacksmith who waved him off. "Away, lad. Your father and I have serious haggling to do. I like you and the boy, Gorion, but you won't convince me to let this armor go for less than my full price. Iron is becoming more and more scarce throughout the Sword Coast."
Harry walked away, nodding quietly to himself. Yep, Imoen was right. That iron shortage thing is definitely going to show up later on. With a smile on his face as he now began to imagine what adventures awaited him beyond the walls of Candlekeep, Harry made his way towards the inn.
He smiled and waved at Cassandra but didn't stop to talk to her as she exited the rookery to one side with the back basket of eggs, entering the in quickly. Given all the times that he had flirted and even kissed her, seeing Cassandra now was a little off-putting. Thank God we're leaving the tutorial!
Harry was wondering idly as he crossed the threshold what divinity he should actually be thanking for that because he still hadn't made a decision between the various gods of light when a voice she'd never heard before shouted for him. "Hoy, you there! You with the big shoulders and the black hair."
Harry turned, frowning as he saw someone he hadn't seen before. Considering he hadn't ever been in the inn, that shouldn't have come as a surprise, but he thought he had seen all of the people who worked in the inn outside its walls. And I didn't know that the inn actually had any guests. I thought that the married couple staying on the keep's fifth floor were the only real outsiders here. Harry tended to stay away from them, considering that they didn't give him any experience, and their bickering was a little much.
"Yes," he asked, pleasantly, curious what this man wanted with him. "I'm sorry, but do I know you?"
"Nah, ya don't, but I know you," the other man smirked. "You'd be Gorion's ward, right? The boy he picked up when ya were a babe?"
"I am." Harry was frowning now. "Do you know my father? If you do, why aren't you talking to him? He's out by the gate."
"Because my business ain't with him, it's with you. Sorry boyo, but someone's paid for your death. And I mean to collect that bounty." With that, the man stepped forward, pulling out a long dagger, which he thrust at Harry's chest.
Harry stepped back, twisting to one side, his base level and dexterity allowing him to both see the attack coming and dodge to one side. While he didn't have any unarmed combat skill as perceived by the game, he was still big, strong, and fast.
The other man was faster. He came in quick, slicing at Harry's arm and then his chest with a second blow. But Harry was able to dodge enough that the cuts were superficial. Harry then struck back hard, his fist taking the other man in the throat and almost dumping him onto his rear.
He stumbled against a table but regained his footing. However, by the time he did, Harry had his sword and shield out from his item box, causing the man's eyes to widen. "Wha..." But Harry didn't let him recover from his surprise, moving forward with two quick steps, thrusting out hard with his longsword.
Hastily the man blocked it and then dodged to one side around another table into a shadow, where he activated Hide-in-Shadows.
Harry instantly lost track of his attacker and backed away quickly, heading into the lights cast by the inn's windows. At the same time, a man at the far back of the inn looked up from where he had been kneading his back with one hand at the clamor of weaponry.
Before Harry could reach the safety of the lighted portions of the inn, his shield arm twisted almost entirely around his body to block a blow that would've taken Harry in his kidneys. Thank you, Shield and Sword Skill! Harry thought to himself as he finished the turn his arm had begun, bringing his sword around in a flashing arc that caught the surprised thief by surprise, forcing him to raise his blade to block it.
But the short sword was batted to one side by Harry's hard sideways blow, which opened up the man's side. He squawked in pain and fear now and tried to back away, throwing a dagger at Harry's face with the speed of a snake. But again, Harry's shield blocked it automatically, and when the man tried to kick a chair into Harry's way, Harry dodged around it.
A second later, Harry took the other man's desperate sword stab on his shield, thrusting hard with his own longsword following the glowing red dot. It was so automatic that Harry didn't even think of what he was doing until his sword had punctured straight through the other man's chest.
Then he gasped, staring at the man he had just killed as the light slowly went out of his eyes, blood flowing out of his mouth. "Dammit, supposed to be... easy... wasn't told..."
Then the man died, and Harry let go of his sword, which clattered to the floor along with the man as he fell forward. For a second, Harry just stared down at him as the blood began to pull on the wooden floor, stepping back to stop the blood from touching his boots, as he just stared in shock, astonished and horrified beyond what even his Gamer's Mind ability could deal with.
The innkeeper had pushed himself to his feet by this time and, groaning about his bad back, moved around the bar, staring in shock. "Harry, what, what happened?" He took in the wide, unseeing eyes on the young man and hobbled over, putting a hand on his shoulder, his voice becoming slightly less panicked and far more understanding as he repeated his question. "Harry, what happened?"
"I don't know, he just attacked me!" Harry shouted suddenly. "He, he asked if I was Gorion's ward, and then said his business was with me, and someone, someone put a bounty on my head!"
Harry instinctively knew this was all part of why he and Gorion were being forced to leave Candlekeep, and it was most certainly a sign that it was time to leave. But even with that and his Gamer's Mind trying to keep him from becoming too shocked, and even with the notices that had appeared after combat, Harry couldn't pull up his eyes away from the dead man. From the body of the man, he had just killed. This is the second person I've killed in my life, dammit, I knew that killing would probably be a part of adventuring, but so soon!?
"If he came at you with steel lad, then you had no choice but to put him down with steel," the innkeeper sighed. "I should've been leerier of him anyway. He tried to get into the keep with some fool book and then paid for a week ahead of time, and from then on paid each day as it came. I should've been much leerier about him, gotten a few of the Watchers to boot him out the main gates. That's on me, lad."
Grimacing at his pained back, the innkeeper knelt down, to one side, careful not to let the bloodstain his robe, as he reached for the man's pouch, frowning as he found nothing but coins. He also found a handwritten note on a piece of parchment and held it out towards Harry grimly.
Having used his Lay on Hands spell to heal his wounds, Harry read it through quickly. It was a basic message that said that this man had been a member of a group, which had been sent to Candlekeep, to watch for a man of fair to large height with a lightning scar on his forehead who answered to the name Harry, or Gorion's ward. That proof of his death would pay for five-thousand gold pieces. Harry knew enough about this world now to know that that wasn't exactly a fortune, but it would certainly set up someone for a good long while.
"Should I be insulted or just fearful, do you think?" Harry asked, staring at the note.
"I'd say both, lad," the innkeeper said with a smile, grateful that Harry was slowly getting out of his funk. Then he stared down at the body and shook his head. "Still, it's clear that Gorion is taking you out of here not a moment too soon. I've no idea what all's behind this. It certainly can't be anything you've personally done. I've known you since you were but a babe, and despite the odd brawl and sticking up for Imoen when she has done wrong, you've done nothing too terrible."
Harry chuckled and nodded, now almost back to normal. "I think that Gorion means to tell me more about something, about my origins, maybe?"
"Well, I've got the supplies you and Gorion wanted. They're over by the end of the bar. Best you take them, meet up with Gorion and get out of here. I'll tell the Watchers what happened here and get the Arms Master to help me bury the body." He held up the thief's jingling coin purse. "And this will pay for it nicely. Looks as if he had enough money to pay for another few weeks. Cheapskate didn't even want to pay ahead of time for days he wouldn't use, I suppose."
Harry nodded at that and left the man to his mutterings about his bad back as he moved to pick up some of the debris from the fight. Once that was done, Harry moved over to the bar, picked up the large bag there, and had it disappear into his item box, transferring some of the stuff from it into the box before tossing the bag over one shoulder and heading toward the door.
Outside the inn, Harry was debating between finding Imoen or heading straight for Gorion when he saw Gorion moving towards them from the entranceway. That solved that problem, and Harry moved in his direction, holding up the bag. "I, I have the supplies, Gorion."
"And a blooded sword Harry," Gorion said, stopping a few feet away, staring at his ward and gesturing down to the sword. "What happened?"
Harry looked at his sword, not realizing he had still been holding it before kneeling down and wiping it off on the grass beneath them. Once that was done, he then made his sword disappear into his item box, along with his shield. "I, I was attacked, Gorion," Harry said slowly, gesturing back towards the inn.
He explained what happened and watched as his adoptive father's face became even more grave and stern. "I see. In that case, I think we need to leave now."
Harry nodded, and as they moved towards the entranceway, asked, "What is all this about?"
Gorion frowned then answered slowly. "I don't know the whole story. But someone has been killing orphans all across the Sword Coast. I'm fearful about the real cause behind it all, and I am very leery about jumping to conclusions. But it isn't just someone trying to murder orphans. It's far too widespread for it to be a single person. And they seem to be going for people, well, individuals like you, Harry, who exhibit unusual talents. Or did you honestly think that every young man who aspires to be a paladin can become as good and as strong as you are? You might only be level five, Paladin, but your physical abilities set you well above that level."
Harry scowled irritably. "Understood. Then what are we doing? Are we just going to be running away from whoever is after me, or will we try to hunt him down in turn?" His tone indicated which one he would prefer, although he didn't relish the thought.
"We'll hunt them down, Harry, eventually," Gorion answered as they finally stepped out of Candlekeep through the wide tall outer walls and between the massive gates. "As I said, this conspiracy of murder is far too widespread for it to be any one person. There might be one overarching legal leader, but finding him will be very difficult."
The two of them turned as they were hailed by one of the guards. This was an armed and armored Watcher, holding a large Pike in one hand, with the butt resting on the ground. He looked at them, nodding formally to Gorion. Master Gorion, we will be sad to see you go, as well as you, Harry. But you must know the rules. Once you leave, you cannot come back home here to Candlekeep without paying the price: One book that cannot be found within, or one million gold."
"When I was younger, it was a hundred thousand gold," Gorion grumbled crossly, shaking his head before he smiled at the man. "But that's inflation for you, I suppose." He held out his hand to the guard, who took it with his offhand, gripping Gorion's forearm firmly. "I know the rules, my friend, and frankly, I think more than a few of the Watchers within will be grateful to see the backs of myself and my young ward here. He's never made any bones about not wanting to join the Order after all."
"Much like Imoen," Harry cut in more so to say something and take his mind off what had just happened than that he knew that for a fact. Although given Imoen's personality, even before Tonks merged with her, that was kind of a no-brainer.
The guard's face instantly became a little pained. "Yes, Imoen. And you're not going to be around any longer to be the main thought of her pranks. All of a sudden, this doesn't sound all that good for those of us who are staying behind."
"I'm sure she won't burn the entire keep down," Harry said, then paused. "At least I hope not." Although if she does set a fire to try and draw attention away from her escape, that could possibly happen? Best not to mention that.
Gorion lightly swatted Harry on the shoulder. "Don't scare the poor man. Now come on, I want to get to the Friendly Arm Inn in two days."
"At your age?" the gatekeeper said with a guffaw. "Good luck with that. Still, farewell friend Gorion and you too, young Harry." Then his face firmed, and he moved behind them resolutely putting himself in the way of their turning around as within, someone started to slam the main doors shut, barring their way backward.
The message was clear. Candlekeep was no longer their home and was now closed to them.
Harry found himself sad about that despite his desire to leave the Tutorial Phase. He didn't know how long he'd stayed there, probably about half a year or so, maybe longer, learning as much as he could and getting used to this new world and his gamer powers, as well as how they interacted with everyone else's abilities here. But, in a big way, this place wasn't like Hogwarts. Hogwarts had become a home away from home for a time until the confrontation with Quirrell, which sort of tainted the castle in his eyes. With Candlekeep, he knew he could not make a home of the keep thanks to the Tutorial and knew now that it was time to move on.
The two of them traveled along the path leading to Candlekeep from the main road along the Sword Coast for the rest of that day, but the sky began to turn black with storm clouds long before they would have stopped for the evening. Grimacing Gorion said that they would have to make camp soon and led the way off the path into the woods to search for a likely spot. They found one on top of a slight hill in the woods where two trees met at an angle, creating a decent enough little bower to hide their smoke from their campfires.
Yet even with a small light from their fire, the night was closing in very dramatically, and Harry shivered, staring out into the darkness. Something about it was forbidding almost. It reminded him almost of the Forbidden Forest that time with Hagrid, the unicorns and how they had been attacked by Voldemort's shade. If someone riding a horse walks up to us and goes, the stars are bright tonight, I'm going to lose it.
Gorion moved to stand beside him, staring out into the darkness himself. "Well, I suppose we shouldn't have thought that everything would be sunny and nice as we left home, now should we?"
Harry shrugged. "True enough, but is this kind of weather normal?"
"On the sword coast?" the older man barked a laugh. "I see that Watcher Trodan's teachings have gone in one ear and out the other. Oh yes, the storms that give this coast its fell reputation among sailors don't just hit the coast itself, lad. Indeed, you'd have to travel for weeks inland to get away from them. And this is the season for traveling too."
"Great," Harry drawled. "So I should get used to the whole getting wet thing daily then?"
"You won't shrink in it like salt Harry, have no fear. The only real danger that comes with the rain normally are the selkies that can be found on the shores, and those shores are far from here," the older man laughed. "Now come, I'm hungry. And since you're the younger of us, it's your turn to cook first."
"How does that make any sense? Shouldn't I, as the younger, watch you cook over the fire first to learn how it goes?"
"Perhaps if I had spent any time in Candlekeep in the kitchens, unlike you. Now go on. Enough prevaricating." Gorion ordered. "I'm hungry."
As soon as Harry began, his cooking skill began to activate, and it helped him perform decently enough over the open fire, good enough to create a good solid stew from their packs. The two of them ate in companionable silence, with Harry asking about the roads and the map of the area as Gorion knew it, as well as any specific plans Gorion was willing to make at this point.
Gorion shook his head. "Other than heading to the Friendly Arm Inn to meet up with a few friends of mine, I'm not willing to make any set plans."
At that, Gorion hesitated, then sighed. "You have never asked what I did as an adventurer, and I thank you for respecting my privacy, which I had reasons for, good reasons. In fact, would it shock you to know that I was part of the Harpers?"
Harry leaned back, staring at his father-figure thoughtfully. Through his reading, he had learned that the Harpers were a group dedicated to the balance, to the true neutral gods. They acted out against the dark gods most often, but they also acted against the light gods occasionally, when those gods got too big for their britches essentially. They were a secret society known of the world over ironically enough, and any harpers and bards of the road could be one of them.
Generally speaking, they were a force for good, despite their whole harping on about true neutrality, so Harry had no problem seeing his father taking that role. "I would say it wouldn't surprise me much," he said with a shrug. "You don't seem the spying type, but I have to imagine that the Harpers have a militant arm or something similar, don't they?"
"Actually, I was both a spy and an active participant, as we would put it," Gorion replied with a shrug. "And my friends are much the same, although they are still active occasionally for the Harpers. I sent messages to them requesting their aid, and I hope to meet them at the Friendly Arm Inn. Or if not there, then further south. I know they will be sent in to investigate this iron shortage issue. There is no possible way it can be as simple as it appears at first blush."
Harry was about to ask him what he meant by that when there was a thunderous crash of thunder from outside. Soon after, this was answered by a piercing ghoulish howl.
Instantly Harry was on his feet, his sword in one hand, his shield in the other. Gorion, however, moved around him, pushing him back with one hand. "Armor lad, get your armor on." Gorion had never taken his off but hadn't stopped Harry from doing so. "And let this be a lesson, Harry," Gorion went on as Harry fumbled with his armor, which he had not put back into his item box, rather setting it to one side to go over for rust spots. Never take your armor off when you're in the field, no matter how rusty it gets. Not even when you're behind the walls of an inn, unless you have allies around you."
"What do you think is out there?" Harry asked, as he pulled on his armor and moved to stand beside Gorion, staring out from underneath the branches of their camp into the darkness of the forest.
"Hopefully just wolves, but that howl sounded a little too human," Gorion said slowly. He narrowed his eyes, and began to enchant a spell, then lashed out into the darkness ahead of them with a Light charm, brighter and more powerful than any Harry had seen back in his old world. That charm lit up the forest and elicited howls of pain and agony from the group that had slowly begun to encircle them.
As it lit up the night for a moment, the forest was as visible as if by day, and Harry took a moment to stare at their enemies. Some of them were wolves, about ten or so, spread out all around, their eyes showing the blank nature of Charmed beasts, which Harry had read about his books. There were two shapes well behind the wolves to Harry's right wearing robes and staffs, which Harry knew meant that those two were mages. But mixed in with the wolves were four other figures. Hunchbacked, with long arms trailing on the ground like a gorilla almost, but without any fur, a loincloth was the only thing of clothing they wore, and a mouth full of fangs glistened in the light of Gorion's charm.
And behind even the mages was another form, a large monstrous form taller than even Harry. It was even broader in the shoulders and wore matte black armor that covered everything from head to toe, making it impossible for Harry to see anything of the man within.
He was chanting something even as Gorion's blast of light went off and gestured forward with one hand, sending some kind of power forward, though it didn't come with a shouted spell, so Harry didn't know what it was. Gorion intercepted it with a harsh command, a magic bolt lashing out from his finger to catch the incoming spell. But that attention cost the two of them because it took Gorion's attention away from the two spell casters. They launched fireballs at Harry and his foster father, which exploded directly in front of them.
Harry screamed in pain as he was hurled backward off his feet from the explosion. He rolled down the hillside to fetch up against a tree. Instantly a message box appeared in front of him.
Warning, you have taken damage. Unknown enemy caster has used fireball to impact you for -25 health.
Warning, you received a Critical Injury. You have cracked a rib, -20 to health. -2 two dexterity agility and strength so long as this wound continues.
Gasping in pain, Harry pushed himself to his feet groggily and was not surprised that he had lost his longsword. Pulling out another longsword from his item box was easy enough, as was using his single healing potion. The healing potion had been among the supplies the innkeeper had given them and had been the first one Harry had seen, though he had seen pictures of them in books before this. Downing it, he was grateful to see that it quickly went to work knitting his rib back together, although it didn't do much for his overall health points, adding only 15 back, leaving him still at well below half health.
I'll just have to be extra careful then, he thought grimly, as he started back up the hill. But two of the things Harry saw that were labeled as ghouls had followed him down the hill, and the sight of them caused Harry to stop. He concentrated, and thrust forward with one hand, then clutched it into a fist shouting "Turn Undead."
One of the ghouls was caught by the spell and collapsed into dust. The other, however, kept coming, only pausing for a second. Harry then charged forward, his sword lashing out. Even as he did so, he worried about what was happening up top where flames fireballs and now lightning could be seen as Gorion dueled the others. Please be alright, Gorion!
it had taken Imoen about three hours to figure out a way to escape Madame Barka's presence. The woman seemed to know that she had wanted to follow Harry and was determined to make sure that Imoen stayed in Candlekeep. Eventually, Imoen gave her the slip and then attempted to get outside, doing so by the most expedient matter: she simply ran pell-mell through the front gate.
The gate guard paused as he saw the pink-haired girl racing by him, then shouted after her, "You know you won't be able to get back in, right Imoen?"
"Sod that," Imoen shouted over her shoulder. "I'm going with Harry!"
The gatekeeper stared after her, then chuckled, shaking his head. "And if anyone, even Watcher Barka, is surprised by this, I think they'll have to have their heads examined." With a sigh, he nodded at the viewer slot sliding to one side of the large gate. As Imoen raced on, she heard the resounding clang of the door closing behind her ritually. When she was out of sight, it would open again, but the gates of Candlekeep, both the castle and the library keep, were now closed to her.
Imoen raced on, halting when her stamina began to appear in her view, resting for a bit, then moving on. Unlike the other two, she didn't have any supplies, having been unable to gather them as Gorion had before heading out. She had a lot of food on her, stuck in her item box, which she had discovered could keep food at the precise heat that it was when it entered the box. But she didn't have any bedrolls or anything of that nature. Still, it won't be the first time I've roughed it out of doors.
Racing along, Imoen was almost within sight of Harry's back when the sky began to cloud over, and the two of them skirted into the woods. There she lost them for a bit. Whatever else could be said about Imoen, she had been a city girl, and Imoen had never been beyond Candlekeep's outer walls. Because of this, she rapidly became lost out here in the woods.
However, when the fight began, the fireballs and noise acted like a beacon. Imoen raced through the woods up the small hill only to stop and stare as Harry was blown off the side of the hill and was sent tumbling down the other side. Growling angrily, she pulled out her shorts bow, notched an arrow to it, and then activated Hide-in-Shadows. In the dark of night and with the rain coming down around Imoen, the technique was easy to activate, with little chance of failure.
So covered, Imoen, heading up the hill, her eyes searching for enemies, as they had been taught in Auror's school: when coming to the aid of pinned down fellows you didn't join them, you took the enemy out first, and if you could sneak up on them, all the better. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your point of view, Imoen found the enemy quickly in the form of a snarling group of wolves. Three of them, and then something else beyond, something that stank, the stench of it making her eyes nearly weep. Right, stinky gets it first. With that in mind, she pulled back her arrow and let fly.
Through the days spent in the tutorial, Imoen and Harry had been able to discover that she had a skill slot spent on the short bow. They had even tested it and found that it, like close quarter combat, had a small moving target. For ranged attacks, it took the form of a large, circular target. According to the message box Imoen had seen when she tried it for the first time, at higher levels, the target marker would change so that the archer could wound, maim, or try for a critical hit. Of course, any damage dealt also was affected by the armor, both natural and worn, of the target. Luckily, Imoen had always been a very damn good shot with spells and, thanks to the skill slot, hadn't needed to go through a long learning period on how to use a bow.
The arrow thwapped into the stinky fellow's head but didn't do much damage, simply embedding itself there. And worst, Imoen had forgotten that attacking like that canceled her Hide-in-Shadows while gaining the creature's attention. The creature she had attacked, and the three nearest wolves turned to her and raced forward. But the speed of the creature, which Imoen now knew was some kind of undead, was astonishing, and it crossed the distance between them far faster than Imoen had thought it could.
"Bugger me! Stupefy!" she shouted, thrusting one hand forward. The spell. a wide circle of reddish energy flashing through the night too fast to ruin her night vision thankfully, spread out like a cone away from her and hit her targets. But to her surprise, the creature seemed to simply shake it off and keep coming. The two wolves to either side skidded to a halt, collapsing where they had stood, as the wide reddish beam hit them. This left one wolf racing toward her with the undead creature.
She quickly dropped her short bow and whipped out her short sword, getting it up into the thing's face and using it to block the creature's attempts to bite at her, but there her special ability 'Fight like a Jackrabbit' activated and allowed her to dodge its claws. A quick cutting spell took the thing's leg off at the hip, it's undead constitution no match for magic, although the minus ten points to Imoen's health was worrying.
The creature fell, and Imoen backed away only to face the leaping wolf. She barely got her sword up in time, and the wolf barreled into her, taking her to the ground. Imoen's sword was thankfully between them, and the wolf's own weight caused the sword to cut into it. The wolf yelped and leaped away, and Imoen rolled clear. Before the wolf could recover, Imoen had sent another cutting spell at it, cutting its head clear off.
"Bloody hell, thank goodness it wasn't a werewolf," Imoen grumbled, standing up straight and then moving over to the two stupefied wolves, finishing them off with short thrusts down with her short sword into the thing's back, right at the base of the neck, severing their spine. Then, she turned to the undead creature, which was trying to crawl towards her, using its arms as legs with far too much ease for her liking. "Damn me..." Imoen backed away rapidly, then lashed out with a fire spell, the magical equivalent of a flame thrower, thought an instant later, as the creature screamed and died, the hit to her hit points caused her to go lightheaded.
Warning, continued use of Blood Mage spells will take its toll on you. -45 to health.
That, with the spells she'd already used, left Imoen at well below half health, and even though her body was still hale and uninjured, Imoen could feel it, a nasty throb behind her eyes, a certain wooziness and weakness of the body. That last aspect cleared quickly, but not the throbbing, which increased in turn. Still, thanks to her Auror training and generally scrappy attitude, Imoen was used to pain and bore through. Her first batch of enemies dealt with, Imoen turned away and raced on up the hill towards where the conflagration was happening.
Harry grimaced as he blocked a blow from the ghoul, then smashed his shield into its face when it tried to bite him. But his eyes were for the small red dot, and when he pulled back, his longsword flashed out, embedding itself through the creature's neck, slicing into its spine and sending it collapsing to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut.
Gasping in relief, Harry turned and made certain the four wolves that had followed the ghoul down and attacked him during his battle with the ghoul were all dead. Thankfully they were, but not before one of them had taken a bite out of one of Harry's legs when he had slipped lightly in the mud.
Harry slowly made his way up the hill, still dealing with a lot of pain from being thrown down the hill by the initial fireball on top of the bite. As he moved up the hill, several more wolves charged towards him, and Harry debated with himself whether or not to conserve his magic and deal with them slowly or get back to Gorion and help him against the real threat. Really, there's no choice there.
He moved to the side so that both wolves were coming at him from the front rather than from too wide a difference in angle and then cast the Stupefy spell once more, gasping as the ten hit points were drained from him. In his wounded state, that dropped him down to below half health again, and he grimaced, unwilling to give in to the pain. Still, the spell worked, knocking both wolves out. He finished them off, then stood for a moment, gasping in air as he shook his head. Dammit! Those spells really do take it out of me.
Despite that, Harry moved upwards as fast as he could in his debilitated state, then stopped as a loud ringing noise sounded. This was accompanied by a larger than average message box appearing in front of Harry, and this one was lined in gold rather than red or black.
A possible party member has appeared in your area of control; do you wish to add Imoen to your party?
Wondering about how that had occurred and why it had occurred now, Harry could only gape in astonishment for a brief second before shouting out "Yes!" and smacking his hand lightly on the green button, forgetting in his haste that he could've just used his eye movements to do just that or that he wouldn't actually feel anything under his hand, nearly overbalancing himself in his haste and from the wound in his leg.
An instant later, Harry knew precisely where Imoen was, the girl appearing on his small map as a bright green dot and moved around the hill towards her. As he did so, he quickly began to read off a series of little notices.
Now that Imoen is in your party, you can access her item box. You can access her skills and stats. You can access her character sheet.
Warning, you cannot make changes to Imoen's character sheet. You can only view it. But when Imoen levels up, you will be able to distribute her skill and stat points as you see fit.
Always keep in mind the character of the individual, however.
Putting that to one side for more important matters, Harry went on to the next declaration. This one was even more important.
As a member of your party, you have limited control over the actions of Imoen, the thief. You can also create team tactics and dual attacks. Passive abilities one party member has will be shared throughout the party. Active skills or auras can be shared depending on the ability of the party member(s).
Your active aura, 'Turn Undead,' has been activated on Imoen.
Imoen's passive ability, 'Fight like a Jackrabbit,' has been activated on you, the player. You will be more difficult to hit from now on until the end of combat or until Imoen's stamina is decreased.
"Why couldn't we have practiced with this shit before?!" Imoen shouted through the tumult of the rain as she came upon Harry, gratefully leaping up and over a decomposing ghoul, who had been about to take a bite out of her before she had even known it was there. Harry's Turn Undead ability suddenly radiating out from her had saved her life, and she breathed a sigh of relief even as she took in Harry's bedraggled, wounded appearance. Not, mind you, that I'm any better. Shit, this combat is far too fucking real for my liking. Best get the idea that this is a game, whatever the stats and shit say or the tutorial out of my head.
This, oddly enough, won her another stat bonus.
Master of the Obvious: for spotting something so obvious it really, really should have occurred to you before this, you have earned one intelligence point. Perhaps one day, you can aspire to be smart enough to operate complex equipment, like doorknobs, on your own.
+1 to intelligence."
Harry didn't even notice the message box appearing in front of her, already turning away and gesturing to the top of the hill. "I don't know, and I don't care. Come on! Gorion's still up there, and..."
There was a flashing blast of thunder, and a scream, which came from a throat neither of them knew, and a body was sent tumbling through the air and down towards them, forcing them to dodge backward. It was one of the attackers from before, one of the two mages.
"Um, are you sure he needs our help?" Imoen asked, somewhat shakily. Even though she had been a trainee Auror this was the first real, to the death type fight she'd ever been in, and she was kind of astonished Harry was handling it as well as he was. I wish I had the Gamer mind thing that he does, she groused, even as she turned and raced up after him.
"There has to be one more mage and this armored giant up there," Harry said, thinking quickly. "Let's move around to the side. See if we can spot them, then when I charge in, you take them from behind."
Imoen nodded and reactivated her Hide-in-Shadows skill. As she did, another image popped up in front of Harry.
Because of Imoen's trust in you, she has obeyed your commands. When she acts in concert with the rest of the party, Imoen will receive a +4 to damage and +6 defense.
Because of your friendship, your relationship with Imoen has been raised to 'family'. The odds of activating dual attacks, combo and other team-based attacks has increased.
Staring in shock at that, Harry held back a whoop with difficulty. That family line meant a lot to Harry personally, but the rest of it was just fantastic. Imoen didn't honestly have a lot of strength, something that Imoen had complained about many times as she was getting used to her new persona. But this could be a game-changer for her. Just like her agility boost to Harry could be, especially in his wounded state.
Setting such thoughts aside, for now, Harry crested the hill and came upon a site of destruction. Four ghoul bodies were burning to a crisp, the ghouls within the fire twitching this way and that. No wolf corpses could be seen, but there was the body of a giant bear that hadn't been there before. Six gnolls, large creatures with the body of men and hyenas mixed, had also shown up from somewhere but were now dead. Indeed, their bodies were liberally scattered around the area save for two who had obviously been killed by Gorion's sword, a longsword like Harry's but with a better blade to it, which now lay shattered on the ground of the battlefield, almost sinking into the mud. Jesus! Gorion is one tough old son of a bitch.
But it was obvious that Gorion was flagging now. He was still under the attack of two more gnolls and the armored giant, who was simply cackling at him, smacking his spells aside as he marched towards his prey. Even though Gorion was armored and still held a dagger and had a magical shield all around him, Harry knew how that contest would end. There was something about that man, something terrifyingly unstoppable. Added to that was the fact that Harry couldn't perceive his level, even with his Perception ability, which had allowed him to perceive the levels of a few of the Watchers within Candlekeep who were not friendly towards him.
Keeping to the shadows just beyond the burning fires here and there from the magical combat, Harry then broke out into the light, making his way towards the mage in plain sight as he whispered, "Take the mage."
The mage turned to Harry, and he lashed out with magic bullets, which Harry used his shield to block, grimacing. The small magic bolts were barely the size of a few fingers pressed together, the number of them matching the level of the mage, in this case, level ten. They hit like tiny sledgehammers, nearly tossing Harry to his rear, and his health bar dropped further when one bolt got through to sizzle across his shoulder.
Imoen grimaced as she moved around the fight, as one of the gnoll warriors too turned towards Harry. But Harry had told her to take the mage, and judging by the fact that he was now chanting another spell while staring at Harry, she had no issue with that order. I just hope that Harry can handle that hyena guy, darn it, I know I should have spent more time on the books.
To her surprise, Harry didn't remain on the defense. Instead, he charged forward, engaging the gnoll in a contest of whirling blades, dodging this way and that to keep the gnoll between himself and the mage. This both kept the gnoll from using its large halberd to good effect and kept both of their attention on him as Imoen circled around them.
An instant later, Imoen was in position right behind the mage. She came out of her Hide-in-Shadows technique and stabbed him just as he was about to launch another spell, taking him straight in the back and kidneys. The next instant, a message box appeared in front of both Imoen and Harry, practically shouted its message.
Imoen has used Backstab.
Imoen has benefited from being part of your party and in the trust inherent in your relationship level, family.
The message was instantly proven correct as the mage gasped, and died, blood streaming from his side and mouth as Imoen pulled the sword back. She now leaped forward, nearly losing her footing on the muddy, wet ground as the gnoll warrior Harry had been facing turned to move to one side so it could see them both, but this let Harry push forward, nearly taking the creature in the chest with his blade. By the time the beast set its feet against Harry's renewed offensive, Imoen was gone.
He tried frantically to search around for her but couldn't do that and keep Harry at arm's length. He paid for this lack of attention a second later as Harry's sword once more found the red dot, and the creature's arm flew off, cut through at the wrist. The hyena-like gnoll had just a moment to open its maw to scream before Imoen's short sword found him in the back of the neck. But then her sword shattered, and she gawked down at it. "What the..."
"Weapons have a durability rating remember, no time to worry about it now!" Harry shouted, pulling out a short sword from his own item box and tossing it to her. She caught it deftly, and they twisted around, racing towards where Gorion was facing the giant as best their wounds would allow.
Just as they did, Gorion's final protective shield went down, and an instant later, the armored giant's sword found him, stabbing through Gorion's chest. The massive blade lifted Gorion off of his feet as his blood dripped out around the blade. "You were good, Gorion, very, very good. But your instincts for combat seem to have degraded. You should never have let me close to you, whatever you thought of your shield. Don't worry, though, your ward will soon be joining you."
Harry and Imoen were close enough to hear those words and close enough to scream in shock it what they were seeing, but they weren't close enough to hear what Gorion whispered in return, perhaps because it wasn't even in response to what the man had shouted, or rather monologued.
Instead, it might have been a spell, because in the next instant, Gorion had spat in the man's face, and instead of the spit simply hitting, it sizzled like acid, burning into the man's armored face. The acid ate into the armor almost instantly, and the man screamed in agony, wiping at his helmet. This only served to spread the, and Gorion stumbled back, the sword still embedded in him, one hand holding it there, as he spat again and again at the man, hitting his face and upper body several more times with an Acid Arrow spell he had somehow modified.
Shrieking in pain and fury, the man bellowed out, "Damn you, old man, you have only delayed the inevitable!" With that, the badly wounded man released his massive sword and fell back. Even as Harry and Imoen raced forward to join the fight, he pulled out some kind of scroll from his pouch that he had been carrying to one side of his waist and crushed it within his grip. The next instant, he was gone, leaving behind his sword still embedded in Gorion's stomach and chest.
Harry shouted in fury and grief and raced forward, grabbing at Gorion even as he cursed the fact that he had already used his one healing potion as he tried to save his mentor's life.
"D, don't bother Harry," Gorion said. "I, I know a mortal wound when I, gah, feel it. And neither of you, *hack* are healers. Sorry. Sorry, Harry. Would have been with you, would have *cough* helped you. But this road, *hack*, seems you'll have to walk it without me. Loved you like a son, Harry. Rem, *hack* remember that. And remember, whatever you are family, whatever your, your patronage, you… you are… it is the… choices…you… make… that define…you." And with that, Gorion, former Harper, former adventurer, adopted father of Harry, died in his son's arms.
To one side, Imoen could only grab at Harry's shoulder from behind as Harry began to weep quietly, shaking his head from side to side. "I, I know he really shouldn't have gotten as close as he did to me. I know it, it shouldn't matter as much," he said, not looking back at her as he sobbed through his tears. "That we really didn't know one another that well. But he really was a father figure to me."
"I know, luv," Imoen said, sliding to her knees in the mud and wet earth underneath them putting her wet arms around Harry's equally wet armored chest, hugging him to her and laying her head on his back. "I know."
How long they sat like that, with Harry simply staring at Gorion's body in his arms weeping, neither of them knew. But eventually, Imoen slowly extricated herself from Harry, standing up again and laying her hands on his shoulders. "Come on, Harry. We'll bury him together. He wouldn't want you to just, just keep holding him like that. We need to move on."
Harry nodded, turning his eyes upwards and around to see that now that the rain had let up, some of the fires from the fight were growing, burning merrily. "We'll need to make certain those fires don't get out of hand; we don't want a forest fire to start even if there aren't any people around it could spread back to Candlekeep. Plus, the lights of the fires will let us bury Gorion. And after that,…" Harry picking up his sword as he gently laid Gorion's body to rest on the ground, returning it to his item box. "After that, we're going to go to this Friendly Arm Inn, meet these friends of his Gorion told me about. And then I am going to hunt the arsehole who did this down like a dog."
I realize I didn't go into the game mechanics as much in this chapter, but I am still feeling my way in this story and the Gamer genre. It's fun but will mean how I describe the world or write out some types of scenes will change. I also wanted to show Harry and Tonks interacting without getting bogged down too much in that or the whole showing the stats thing. Going forward, I will show how Harry's Gamer Skill differs from the Adventurer type norm, and of course, introduce our favorite snarky elf and her happily henpecked husband. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this.