The first thing I did after waking up was to look at my core status.
PRIMARY MODEL- AMAZON
SECONDARY MODEL- BRUISER
I groaned in disappointment. The corruption was entire gone and my stability had gone back up, but the curse was still present. It had been twenty-four hours since I’d absorbed the last core, and I didn’t have any more resources to give my own core for the final push it needed to cure this damn curse.
“So close,” I grumbled bitterly.
There was no doubt that if I didn’t get another core soon, then the curse would start to show itself again. That would mean more corruption and mutations. So far, the ones I had weren’t bad, but I was well aware of the fact that this could change at any moment. I wanted…needed to get rid of the curse before that happened. However, I wasn’t quite willing to just run into town and start killing people in order to make that happen. Of course, that might change if I happened to run into Lorgram or any of those bastards who’d sold me to him.
Zoe crawled out of bed, looking a little tired. I chuckled at that, then asked, “What’s the matter? You stayed out partying too late last night in the stables?”
The night before, Zoe had gone out to the stables to test her new ability, ‘soothe’, and she’d stayed out pretty late. In fact, she hadn’t come back until some time after I’d already fallen asleep.
The teenager flipped me off, brushed the hair out of her face, and answered, “Yeah, those horses are real party animals…”
After this, I went through a series of stretches to help me wake up while Zoe just sat there, grumbling a bit. However, her morning mood brightened a little faster than usual.
“This soothe thing is pretty fucking awesome,” Zoe finally said. “I mean, if I had this in the arena…I could have tamed Rapidash without having to ride him and risk getting thrown off…”
“How does that work?” I asked curiously.
Zoe smirked at that, then held out her hand. Sparkling dust emerged from her hand and floated around it for a few seconds before fading away. I still wasn’t sure what she’d just done.
“If I do this to animals,” Zoe explained, “it just makes them calm down. Cows, horses, goats…” She shrugged. “And whatever. But apparently, there are limits and it won’t work too well on anything that’s too hyped up and aggressive…”
“Like monsters,” I said, remembering the warning she’d been given yesterday when she’d been given this ability.
“Pretty much,” Zoe agreed, giving me a curious look. “What about you? What does your new thing do?”
“Grace?” I asked with a wry smile. “It just makes me more graceful.”
Zoe rolled her eyes. “That doesn’t seem very impressive…”
“It isn’t,” I agreed. “And it’s a skill…something that just about anyone can learn with enough training and practice.” I shrugged at that. “From what I can tell, grace is sort of like the agility version of weight training. Knowing how to lift weights properly won’t do much for your strength immediately, but it can really help in the long run.”
“Still sounds lame,” Zoe responded.
“A little,” I admitted. “But I can see the benefits already. It isn’t much, but I’ve already gotten small boosts for both my dexterity and agility. And apparently, the more I level grace, the better the boosts will be.”
“That might be useful then,” Zoe admitted. “Eventually.”
I nodded at that, thinking about how graceful all of the women in the House of Candles were. Now, I knew that they all had grace. It was a clan skill that was shared among all the Daughters of the Flame, and which they rarely shared with outsiders. The fact that they’d shared it with me was something that they considered an honor.
As Taysha had pointed out to me, this skill was just the thing I needed to help improve the weaknesses in my fighting style. And admittedly, being able to improve my agility and dexterity the way that my modifications worked on my strength and constitution, would help me to develop a more balanced build.
It was just a few minutes after this that Zoe and I left our room. We knocked on the door next to ours and a few seconds later, Sharon answered. She had an amused look on her face but didn’t say anything as she came out.
Allie didn’t come out at first, but after a few more seconds, she cautiously stepped out of their room. I was a little startled because Allie looked hot…even better than she normally did.
“What the hell?” Zoe blurted out. “Did you get a boob job?”
My eyes went to Allie’s breasts and I realized that they actually were larger, by about two cups. In fact, her figure had improved in other ways too, becoming more of an hourglass, and overall, she just looked sexier.
“Not exactly,” Allie responded self-consciously. “It turns out…THIS…” She gestured down at herself, “is what my new secondary model does. I can think of better names for it than charisma…”
“Really?” Zoe gasped, her eyes going wide. “Damn… Do you think I can talk them into giving me that one too?”
“That explains why all the women around here have such generous figures,” Sharon commented, still looking amused.
I just stared at Allie for several seconds, remembering how I’d felt a little jealous that they’d given her a secondary model. Now, that jealously was gone, because, while I was getting used to being a woman, I really didn’t want any more of the curves that came with it.
Then I gulped, suddenly realizing that as awkward as things had become between Allie and me, this wasn’t going to make them any easier. If anything, it would make things harder. Or at least, it would have if I still had my old equipment
“It looks like charisma is just a collection of modifications,” Allie explained a little awkwardly. “Ones meant to make women a bit more…attractive.” She was blushing bright red. “I guess it would be really useful for any women working in a place like this…”
“Or any woman who wants more male attention,” Sharon asked, obviously holding back a laugh. Barely.
Zoe was still giving Allie a jealous look. “So, what are all the modifications…besides the obvious ones?”
“Well,” Allie admitted, turning an even brighter shade of red. “I have complete control over whether or not I get pregnant…”
“Wow,” Zoe exclaimed. “Built in birth control.
“That could be useful at times,” Sharon mused.
Allie nodded, though she quickly said, “But its not something I have much use for at the moment…”
“Lets continue talking about this over breakfast,” I suggested, noting the look of relief on Allie’s face. “I’m getting pretty hungry.”
“That sounds good to me,” Allie quickly announced.
After this, the four of us went to the cafeteria where we found a nice table to eat at. As usual, the food was good, though a bit strange. That seemed to be the normal state in this world.
“You know, that secondary model seems a little…specialized,” Sharon mused.
“I get the impression that most are,” Allie added.
I nodded my own agreement. “Mine is pretty new, but its all based on being strong and tough.”
“We have primary models and secondary models,” Sharon pointed out thoughtfully. “I wonder if there are any tertiary models…”
“Oh yes,” Reishel answered from where she was walking past us with her own tray of food. “But they’re very rare. Most are just secondary models that you can use if you already have a secondary model, but some of them provide enhancements or refinements to specific secondary models.”
“The same way a lot of secondary models only work if you have a specific primary one,” I said in understanding.
Reishel nodded. “Exactly.” Then she admitted, “I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen anyone who has one.”
“I have,” another woman added. She was sitting nearby and had obviously heard our conversation. “She had succubus…which works with charisma.” Then she shuddered visibly before adding, “That one might as well be a curse.”
That caught my interest, but from the look on the woman’s face, I had a feeling that she didn’t want to talk about it anymore, so I didn’t ask. Instead, I mused, “I wonder if I could develop a tertiary model to go with my bruiser one…”
“That might be interesting,” Allie said, looking relieved at the change of subject. “I wonder what it could do for you…”
For the rest of breakfast, we talked about possible tertiary models that could go with bruiser, though this was entirely theoretical. Since it was my mutation that had created bruiser, I was the only one with that particular model, and unless another mutation created a tertiary one for me, there were none in existence. Still, I couldn’t help but wondering if my curse was paying attention to the conversation in order to get ideas.
Once we were done with breakfast, we went to the training room to get our daily exercise. And though I couldn’t speak for the others, I was definitely interested in seeing if I could notice any differences due to my latest skill.
I did a series of exercises to get warmed up, then I shifted into shadow boxing mode, throwing punches and kicks in the air as I went through the movements. Since Taysha was absent this morning, I had to make do on my own.
It didn’t take me long to notice a difference. I was a little more aware of my balance and movements than usual, and this had an effect on how I moved. I was just a little more controlled…a little more…graceful.
While I went through my own routine, I kept glancing at the others. Zoe’s new ability wasn’t something she could practice in the training room, so I didn’t pay much attention to her moves. However, I definitely kept an eye on Sharon and Allie.
Sharon was doing her own shadow boxing, though there was no boxing involved. Her new moves looked almost like dance moves, with her shifting position and making quick leaps backwards or to the side. This was her new skill, lieth noff, a defensive martial arts focused on evading attacks and voiding injury. This was definitely a natural skill for Sharon’s elven speed and agility.
After practicing her new moves, Sharon began adding in some of her old moves…her knife fighting ones. Between her improved evasion abilities and her knife strikes, she was going to be one hell of a difficult opponent to beat now.
And then there was Allie, who hadn’t gained any new moves, and in fact, she was having some difficulties with the skills she already possessed. It was easy to see that since Allie wasn’t used to her newly enhanced curves, they were throwing her balance and movements off. Fortunately, I could see some improvements from when she started and when we finally called our training for the day.
“Time for a bath,” Zoe exclaimed with a grin.
“You know,” Sharon mused. “Once we leave, I am really going to miss these baths…”
“Who knows how long it will be before we find anything comparable,” Allie agreed with a sigh. “I still miss the Red Roof.”
“Me too,” I admitted.
The bath house was nearly empty, with only two amazons being there, sharing the smallest of the pools. We took the second largest one for ourselves, which would give us plenty of room and keep a bit of distance between us and the other bathers.
It was still early and the day, too early for any customers to show up. We wanted to take advantage of the baths while we could, though we clearly weren’t the only ones with that idea.
“This feels SO good,” Zoe exclaimed as she lowered herself into the water and let out an exaggerated sigh.
“Tell me about it,” I announced with a sigh of my own.
For the next minute, the four of us just soaked in silence. Finally, Zoe spoke up, looking at Allie and asking, “So, what’s it like getting an instant boob job?”
“What a way to put it,” Sharon said with a wry smile.
Allie chuckled, though it was a bit forced. “It’s a bit weird… And honestly, I have mixed feelings…”
“How so?” Sharon asked.
I listened, though I carefully avoided looking at Allie. I was afraid that if I did, I’d end up staring at her a bit too much.
“Well, almost every woman wants to look a bit more attractive,” Allie admitted. “And I’m no exception.”
“I’m just glad its not me,” I stated.
“Yeah,” Allie responded with a chuckle. “You’ve gone through a pretty big change already, so this is pretty minor in comparison…”
“It does look good on you though,” Sharon told Allie.
“Thanks,” Allie said with another chuckle. “You know the funny thing? For most of my life, I’ve been so plain and nerdy that most guys never paid me much attention. I mean, you saw me when we first arrived. I had coke bottle glasses, acne, and a lot of other things that guys generally don’t find attractive. And then, I got the core makeover…and a lot of exercise…and I’ve never looked better…”
“And now you get another makeover,” Zoe added. “Lucky. I don’t know why you have a problem with it…”
“Well,” Allie admitted, “not much of one. It’s a bit to get used to, but I’ll get used to it, just like I got used to everything else. Besides, its not like I have a choice anymore. I just wish Zella would have warned me what this model was first, because…” Then she abruptly cut off.
“It is kind of funny,” Zoe pointed out thoughtfully. “Zella gave me soothe…which goes really well with my horsemanship skill. Sharon got that weird martial arts thing…” She was gesturing to the elf. “And that goes with her elf stuff… And Sabine…” Now she was gesturing to me. “She got something that can help with her fighting…sort of.”
“Yeah, they were generous gifts,” Allie admitted. “Even if this one might get me a little more attention than I wanted…”
“I think I see what Zoe means,” Sharon said, staring at Allie for a few seconds with a thoughtful look of her own. “The rest of us were given things that work with the skills and abilities we already have…but you got a model that just makes you look more attractive. I would have expected you to get something to go with your sword skills…”
“This might help her distract her opponents,” I pointed out, blushing a little as I did so. Allie’s improvements were certainly distracting me.
Suddenly, a popup appeared in front of me.
THE CURSE ‘INSTABILITY’ HAS BEEN REMOVED
“My curse,” I blurted out, sitting up straight.
“What about it?” Allie asked, giving me a worried look. “Is it getting worse…”
“No,” I gasped, still staring at the popup in amazement and relief. “It’s…gone. It just went away…”
I quickly pulled up my core status again to confirm it.
PRIMARY MODEL- AMAZON
SECONDARY MODEL- BRUISER
“Yeah,” I announced with a grin. “I’m cured…”
“Awesome,” Zoe exclaimed.
“Congratulations,” Allie told me.
“About time too,” Sharon added with a smile.
I nodded in agreement, then paused as another popup appeared.
THE ABILITY ‘CURSE RESISTANCE’ HAS BEEN CREATED
“Curse resistance,” I said in surprise, quickly taking a look at this new ability.
CURSE RESISTANCE- INCREASED RESISTANCE TO ALL CURSE INFECTIONS
-CURSE OF INSTABILITY RESISTANCE 100%
I read through this twice, then said, “It looks like my core’s immune system just became more resistant to all curses… And if I’m reading this right…I’m now completely immune to that instability curse…”
“Any chance you can share that with us?” Zoe asked hopefully.
“Afraid not,” I told her. “I don’t have a trainer option for it.”
“Too bad,” Allie said. “That would have been useful…”
I nodded my agreement. “Yeah. But apparently, all you have to do to get it is to get infected with a curse and then manage to fight it off…”
“I think I’ll pass on that,” Sharon said.
“Me too,” Allie agreed.
“And that is a hell no for me,” Zoe stated firmly.
It was around this time that a couple more women came into the bath house, so we cut our conversation short. Instead, we finished washing up and enjoyed the water a little more before finally climbing out to leave.
Allie got out first, followed by Zoe and Sharon. I remained behind for a few more seconds before I could bring myself to leave the hot bath. I probably had a stupid grin on my face since I was so happy to finally have that curse off my back.
As I was climbing out of the water, I overheard Zoe whispering something to Sharon, something which caught me by surprise.
“Is it just me,” Zoe quietly asked, “or was Allie checking Sabine out?”
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