Chapter 9: At The Roots
“Was this your first real battle Lucid?” Barts asked me.
Barts’ voice seemed to have a calming effect. I wonder if it’s an effect of being specialized in healing magic?
“Yeah.” I gave a quick reply trying to hold in another retch.
I’d seen some gory videos curious online on Earth before, but the smell and the sight of watching it in person was different.
“Huh, your first? Laurent folks really are different! I’m surprised it’s your first Lucid, in the battle ya seemed quite calm after the daze was removed. I swear I saw you smiling, thought you were a pro haha!” Ronald pat me on the back.
I was smiling? I was scared out of my wits!
“My thoughts too. It takes some people multiple battles before they can be that calm and even more before they can communicate ideas. You have talent in fighting be proud.” Elizabeth came around after examining the corpse making sure it was dead and nodded in approval.
Jordan nodded at her words.
Hearing that cheered me up a little.
“Now, about the rock tortoise, how should we split the loot guys?” Jordan spoke as we huddled together.
[Make sure you get your dues, you were a large contributing factor. If you weren’t here probably only Elizabeth and Jordan would have survived.]
Your right Eurval. Although they seemed friendly we were all here for the same reason, to gather resources.
“There’s also the splitting of drops from those six adventurers. Rule is persons or parties that defeated the hyre get the items of those who died in battle even if they were a doll or a clone. Since we are the only party all their belongings are ours now.”
Elizabeth dropped a pile of various weapons and armors as if bringing them forth from air.
“Elizabeth, are you a spatial mage?” I looked at Elizabeth in awe I had tried to read some beginner lessons to become a spatial mage, but it was way out of my league.
“You think this muscle head a spatial mage! ahaha” Ronald broke out into a disbelieving chuckle.
Even Jordan seeming to be trying to hide a smile from his stoic face.
“You, you want to die? I’ll fight you right now!” Elizabeth grabbed onto her saber’s hilt.
“Sorry! Really Elly.” Ronald clasped his hands begging for forgiveness trying to hold his laughter.
“Hmph.” Elizabeth let go of her sword.
“No, I just used a spatial treasure. I’m surprised you don’t have one did you family not gift you one when you got accepted?” Elizabeth showed me a ruby ring with various inscriptions on it.
[Spatial rings are a staple for adventuring Lucid, too bad even the cheapest are 3,000 scales so I didn’t bring it up. They’re usually bought as a gift to their children who begin attending academies or go off adventuring.]
Ahh, so it was like a graduation ring.
“No… I don’t have a family. They must be really useful, I want one now.” I stared closely at the ring. A text box floated above telling me they could hold anything between five cubic meters or a thousand and up.
“Look whos insensitive now you muscle head.” Ronald shook his head at Elizabeth.
“I’m s-sorry! I didn’t mean to bring up something like that.” Her face was beginning to get as red as her hair.
“Its okay, really, I don’t mind at all.” I had processed my mother and father’s death on Earth many years ago. As for the ones here? I was an orphan and more so I had no recollection.
“Your too nice Lucid this knucklehead needs to learn better manners, but it is your lucky day here we have five storage treasures, you can start off the loot distribution and pick one. Go ahead, bind one.” Ronald looked at me as we all were huddled around the ownerless objects from the dead adventures.
“Better manners!? Hmph. what about you, I heard you drank from the bidet at the academy until another cadet told you what it was for!”
“Y-you. How was I supposed to know! I thought these fancy schools had a fancy fountain while on the seat! Never seen one in my darn life. Besides muscle for brains, I’m just a lil ol’ country boy, you aren’t ya some pantaloon wearing lady of some sort, how can you have such horrible manners!”
I could hear Elizabeth grind at her teeth after Berts calmed them down. It seemed Elizabeth had a knack for being abrasive which is why she didn’t get into Laurent.
While they argued I studied each ring and chose the obsidian one. I put some mana into it to bind it.
Once bound I could instantly feel what is stored inside. The space was about 10 cubic meters. Floating inside there was just a few potions and camping gear. Other than those two things it was empty.
[Master got a bad hand, they probably emptied it before leaving to gather here. Well, that’s how it usually is for distributing storage treasures. You can’t know what’s inside unless you bind it and they’re treated as a whole so you don’t have to share its contents inside. That’s good or bad depending on your luck!]
“Just some potions and camping gear.” I sighed.
“Heh, let’s see my luck!” Ronald quickly grabbed a plain golden bracelet.
“It’s completely empty…”
“Don’t laugh!” Jordan and Elizabeth stifled their snickering and each took a storage treasure after letting Berts take his pick.
“Just potions and some dried food.” Jordan looked up after examining his ring.
“Me too.” Elizabeth clicked her tongue.
“Same here,” Berts answered.
“Well it’s to be expected anyone walking will be an amateur adventuer.” Jordan laughed as he organized all the weapons and armors on the ground.
“Now for these. I’m seeing that all in all its worth 2400 scales. Anyone want anything in particular?” Jordan looked around.
[I get that amount too Lucid, you should get that chest piece it’s pretty nice worth 700 or so scales a growth type too.]
“I think I’ll take that metal chest piece you guys can take everything else.”
“Okay that’s fine, we all have armor and weapons already we were just gonna sell the rest its mostly cheap grown stuff anyways it would take a while to sell,” Jordan answered and handed me the chest piece.
I bound the chest piece and put it on. It was strangely flexible and soft on the inside, but if I tapped it with my knuckle from the outside it was hard as steel.
[Nice its quite good quality Lucid, but nowhere near the spear though.]
[Standard Steel Chestpiece
Effects: Moderate physical damage absorption, Low magical field affliction reduction. Creator: Kyunter Equipment]
“Alright, now for this giant thing. How should we do it?” Ronald slapped the under shell of the giant dead tortoise.
Various text boxes began to fill my vision overlaid onto the rock tortoise hyre.
[Shell: Used for weapon and armorsmithing. Approx value: 500 ss]
[Beak: Used in weapon and armorsmithing. Approx value:120 ss]
[Heart: Used for medicinal properties or familiar creation rituals. Approx value:300 ss]
[Hyre orb: Used for physical body enhancements or familiar creation rituals: 350ss]
[Carlified mana orb: Used for mana body growth or equipment enchanting: 1499 ss]
[Skin: Used in weapon and armorsmithing. Approx value: 300 ss]
Elizabeth began performing her own orb retrieval magics. They were similar to the ones I had but very obviously different.
I saw a white orb fly out of the body of the tortoise appearing like a snow globe with very little snow and some brown speckles here and there.
“Wait I think this has Earth Essence inside!” All of us were watching the whole process, but Ronald immediately ran forward the moment the clarified mana orb came out.
“Holy shit it is!” Ronald and Jordan both jumped up after examining it.
“This is gonna save us so much time. We only need one more.”
“Lucid you can take first pick on whatever you want, but we’re going to take the clarified mana orb.” Jordan looked at me.
I could hear a bit of tension in the air.
Obviously, neither of us wanted any trouble, it was probably why they let me take the plate armor worth a bit more than a fifth of the share, but for some things, there was no concession.
I returned a smile. Besides something like this wasn’t worth the trouble. I’m not sure how I would fair in the fight, but they probably don’t know either. I could have some kind of life-saving treasure. I didn’t of course, but I could.
“That’s fine with me. Let’s see I’ll take the heart, the hyre orb, and the beak.”
However, I wasn’t going to let them just choose the most expensive item for nothing!
I saw their faces waver a bit seeing I was taken such a large chunk of the materials.
“Huu, alright, that’s fine with us.”
[Hehe nice job Lucid.]
Elizabeth made quick work in dismantling the giant tortoise with expert cuts, easy now that she could get as close as she wanted to, Handing me a heavy and hard beak, a human torso sized heart and the hyre orb that was a tenth full but filled with black “snow” instead.
I placed all of it into the spatial treasure I acquired.
“I don’t know if we can call it bad or good luck,” Ronald spoke up placing the last chunk of the shell into his storage treasure.
“Seriously, if we didn’t have Lucid join us I don’t know what would’ve happened. I just hope we don’t get attacked again. I don’t want to use my mana recovery potions already. I just want to set up camp, rest, and begin our search tomorrow.” Elizabeth scanned the empty plains after placing a different part of the turtle shell into her storage.
“Good or bad its the same side of the coin, but do I think it’s about time we bury the fallen adventurers and prepare their send-off.” Berts looked towards five bodies, or what was left, in front of us. His gentle tone gone as he spoke with a serious one.
“Yeah, we don’t want them turning into undead either.” Jordan and Elizabeth followed Berts towards the area where the party of five had died almost instantly by the rolling Rock Tortoises’ full blow.
I could only take brief glances at them at a time. It really was quite a horrific scene. The blood had stained the dirt dark only the larger pools of blood still a bright almost fake red under the sun. The smell of iron was powerful as well.
I clenched my teeth looking over their faces each showing the expression of pure shock.
Not even time to process their deaths. I shivered and looked away.
“Ronald do you have the mana?” Jordan looked at Ronald.
“Wait, why are we doing this?” I was confused there was no reason to be around these bodies any longer. We already took their belongings worth something, and more importantly, I was filled with a horrible unease being near them.
Elizabeth answered my question in a somber tone.
“I keep forgetting it’s your first time. Its procedure, but more importantly proper custom to bury those who died in battle. It just involves removing their life orbs and burying them.”
She touched it! I was shocked to see her close the eyes of the dead adventurer so calmly as she spoke to me. Are we not seeing the same thing that thing barely counts as half a body!?
“Yes, I have enough. We each should take out the mana and sin orbs. I’ll create their graves where they died after.” Even Ronald seemed serious.
I watched in silence. They all crouched down and performed their clarified mana orb removal and the hyre orb removal spells.
Everything seemed quiet at that moment as I stood there. Looking around at the area it felt like even the wind that had been blowing through the plains earlier was gone. Leaving everything feeling stifled and heavy.
I followed after them. I crouched down and begun to perform Holy Hunter’s Heart. Never did I imagine the first time I used it would be on another person. As the white orb as large as a fist slowly came from the adventurer’s chest the unease I felt begun to change. I put the orb into my storage then cast Demonic Hunter’s Heart. A tiny black marble came out and landed in my palm. Maybe it was having to watch the body as I cast the spell for what felt like a long period of time, but clearly, I could feel something deep inside me take a change. The unease was now on the verge of disappearing as I stared deeply into the young face of the adventurer.
He was probably no older than me. Maybe even younger.
“Rest well.” The words seemed to have come out on their own, even my body moved on its own as I closed his eyes and straightened his clothes where I could.
The consequences of the dangers begun to finally dawn on me leaving in melancholy. It was a remembrance and a reminder of sorts, I felt, of what dangers lay before me. I was sure the other four were feeling the same.
Maybe it was too soon for me to leave the city…
Maybe the existence of magic gave me the wrong impression. This was a real-world death, sadness, injustice, and unfairness would be, no, is just as prevalent as it is on Earth.
“Ready?” Ronald spoke up as he stood up wielding his staff.
“Yeah.” Jordan and Elizabeth stood up too.
“Lucid?” Berts looked over to me as I was still crouched down.
“Yeah, I’m ready too.” I stood up and continued to watch over the body as the ground under begun to slowly sink until it disappeared into the dark.
As if they were never there. The five bodies were completely gone. I felt guilty for being so dismissive earlier. Embarrassed actually. Now that they were really gone from my sight in an odd way I missed them.
They were gone from this world forever, we were the last to see them off and I didn’t even know what kind of people they were, did they have family waiting on them? A lover? Friends?
I let out a frustrated breath. Maybe I could have reacted quicker and shot at the tortoise the moment it began to roll down and changed its course. Random thoughts popped into my head on what I could’ve done leaving making me feel disparaged.
I heard a clear two claps and Berts mumble some sort of prayer in a low voice. Then the quiet returned as I stood there looking at the clean path of dirt in front of me.
Berts footsteps neared me.
“Do not believe that time has stopped for them, for those who died will one day wake again.” A familiar soft voice returned.
“Is that from a movie?” I looked up from the now smooth ground.
“Haha, no it is from my temple’s teachings. This is our path Lucid, come.” Berts guided me to the rest of the party.
“Finished paying respects?” Jordan spoke up returning to his normal tone. Though it seemed forced, but even I wouldn’t be able to sound happy right now.
All of us nodded.
“Before we continue Lucid, we wanted to ask if you wanted to party with us?” Ronald looked at me expectantly when he asked.
If we had never encountered the Rock Tortoise I would have easily declined, but now? Realizing how dangerous and easy it is to lose your life based on bad luck I will easily agree.
[Make sure to keep your objective clear Lucid to avoid any conflicts.]
I agreed with Eurval. Best to make thing clear now.
“I’m not looking to hunt hyres though. I’m looking to gather clacka roots and amethyst roses. If you can help me with that, I can help you guys hunt.”
They were probably feeling unsafe as a party just as I was alone.
“Done.” I shook Ronald’s hand.
Compared to the earlier trade, this was a fair deal for both of us.
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