Chapter 18: Counting Hours
“I. Should. Stop. Here.” My chest heaved as I tried to catch my breath.
I finally stood still letting the soft breeze for once have a chance to cool me down. The moving air lightly wicked away from the sweat built up from the continuous high-speed movement.
“Ooohh.” I let out a groan as I crouched down to sit.
After the initial soreness slowly went away I crossed my legs to begin mana infusion. With ease, now, I summoned the mana directly into every part of my body. A far cry from the initial hardships I had many months ago. Paired with the adjusted astral body, my mana control was better than ever.
No longer did mana infusion take me a half hour.
[Your high-speed movement accuracy has improved. While I do not think you should be worried in dodging you still there is still hesitation before you move, I do not recommend you perform precise movements such as the feints Elizabeth can perform.]
I nodded my head at Eurval’s review. I wouldn’t dare try to dodge at the last instant as Elizabeth did to bait the rock tortoise.
Although I could continue to practice in hopes of trying to close the vast gap between Elizabeth and me, I decided not to. I didn’t want to have any less than half of my mana capacity at any given moment in the dungeon for no reason. Even if this sub-floor is more or less safe I can never be too careful in this unforgiving place.
I took in a deep breath holding it then expelling it slowly. Each time I felt my body tingle as every cell was flooded with mana to absorb.
One, two, one-hundred breaths I let out signaling the end of my mana infusion. Slowly I opened my eyes from the mediation.
The pretty views this sub-floor offered where such a contrast to the dangers. I hope the rest of the floors are this nice even if they’re deadly.
“You’re finished Lucid?” I heard a familiar voice wake me from the pleasant trance mana infusion always left me in.
“For today, yeah. The increased mana regeneration is gone even with so much in the air I’m not regaining it very quickly.”
Eugene nodded his head it was the same for him too of course.
“While that’s true, at least the quality of this mana is absurdly high. Infusing here will probably be better in the long run.”
I turned my head back to the porch Eugene was standing on then shot a questioning gaze. I keep forgetting he’s exceptionally knowledgeable.
“Nothing.” I turned my head back and continued resting. I still felt a tiny bit tired.
“Oh, I forgot to ask earlier how many days did you want to stay in here for? Another party might end up walking through here and want to use the log to get to the next floor.”
“As many as possible.” I continued to rest looking over the never-ending vineyard and clear sky around me.
Eugene nodded and went back into the farmhouse. From the way he spoke, it seemed he was fine either way. As he could both wait for the search party to find him here or he can try to find them on another floor.
But at least it means that his safety meant mine too. However, I wasn’t going to place all my hope with him either.
A week passed by with no one else has come. I continued to practice Mischief Rainer’s movement spell every day and had reached a point where I could be considered a user. I was careful to not say proficient. I was just plainly at a point where I could use it without worrying about dashing into my death.
[You’ve hit a soft limit with the amount of time you have left. It would be a waste of time to practice it anymore Lucid. I suggest you move on to the spread shot now and become a user of that.]
I was in complete agreement. I gave a small nod as I walked down the creaky stairs into the kitchen. Eugene was already up sitting on the couch in the living room adjacent to the kitchen.
“Good morning Lucid.” Eugene got up and walked towards me with a q-tip inside a glass vial.
“Hey, could I get a swab of your saliva real quick?”
I ignored his advance and head to the kitchen summoning my kettle and clacka roots in hand.
I had to admire his tenacity. He did not care one bit how uncomfortable each request made me. Maybe, that’s a bit harsh. I’m only mildly bothered? He’s a decent person outside his quest to cut me open.
“No…you can’t. I’m making coff-,I mean clacka tea want some?”
Recently I’ve been trying to get him to drink it with me, but have yielded no results.
Eugene pursed his lips and shook his head. Its also been a decent way of warding him off. Its like I’m drinking piss or something to him. How can a stereotype get this bad over a drink?
I sat down in the kitchen table and began to sip and pulled out a little leather book.
The spread shot was probably the most used art when I first began many years ago. Of course, I used someone else s, but this one I developed on my own with a couple of tweaks I had wished I had when I was young.
To use my spread shot, or any really, there is two things you must be able to do.
1. Extreme mana-loading
2. Extreme mana expulsion
Once you’ve gotten to the point where you are confident cast my spread shot art. While casting you can control the number of arrows you want to layer by adding or removing the sigils within the top right quadrant. Do not touch anything else. It only works in multiples of twos, don’t ask me why.
I know those are traits usually reserved for mages which is why many lesser bow-arts do not contain spread shot like abilities, but its an absolute must lest you blow your manabody, soul, and astral body mid-battle and drop dead. You have to train yourself be able to load and expel at least 80% of your mana in one spell. It is NOT because this spell uses that much mana, but because each arrow is created simultaneously incurring a high load.
Eighty percent? My limit is around fifty and even then I don’t know about using such a packed spell more than once in a battle. Forty is my sweet spot right now.
Even worse than was there was only one way to train me to be able to take on such a load. It was simple really shoot arrows with more and more mana.
Didn’t I just say yesterday I didn’t want to be below half mana? I finished the last sip of coffee and put the teacup down.
There is only one other way… To use lustrating materials to supplement my mana.
“Dammit.” I slammed my fists on the table.
It’s going to be such a waste of my lustrating material. Using them like this offers no benefits outside of giving you a bit of mana. The effect wasn’t instant or very good, which is why it was useless in battle, but it meant I could at least shoot more than a 5-6 extremely loaded arrows a day.
“Everything okay Lucid?” Eugene looked over.
“Yeah, everything’s fine,” I grumbled then began angrily chewing on a piece of toast.
Wait a minute. I looked at the bread I had gotten from the pantry.
How much of the food from the dungeon would I need to consume to equal one of my pills Eurval?
[My estimation would be maybe 10 to 15 thousand calories of food created by the dungeon.]
Urch. I felt my stomach rebel within me in an attempt to beg for mercy. I’m so sorry, I rubbed my stomach.
I might have to…Especially if my training with only the pills is not enough.
I let out a long sigh as I got up from the table and walked towards the door.
“Are you going practice that dash again?” Eugene called over from the couch not moving at all. It seemed he was watching some kind of movie with his MAGI.
“No, I’ve done all I can with that. I’m doing the spread shot now.”
Eugene turned his head this time interested.
“Spread shot? Isn’t that one of the most dangerous arts for archers? Your learning Rainer’s too…”
“I want to be as prepared as I can be before we go the next floor.” There was no slacking right now especially with my life on the line.
“That’s true your pretty weak. Wait, doesn’t spread shot incur a large load right? Can I watch you do it?”
No tact whatsoever, but no malice either so I let it pass. It’s not like it wasn’t true. Plus for someone at his strength practicing alone would not help any if, at all, they needed the training zones an academy has or through actual experience.
I looked at Eugene waiting for an answer.
“Why does everything you say always sound so, nevermind…actually”
An idea hit me. He was probably going to watch anyways. Might as well make it worth my time.
“Hey, do you have any lustrating materials on you?” Now it was my face looking rather suspect. I knew the answer of course he did.
“I’ll let you watch, but it will cost you si… no ten thousand scales worth of lustrating material.”
His face lit up.
“Does this mean you’ve accepted my offer?”
“No, no, no. This is for watching me practice today only.”
He clicked his tongue but reluctantly nodded his head taking out a small wooden box.
“This should be enough for the next week.”
It was obvious he didn’t care about the box but was sad about my decline yet again. However, this was 70,000 scales worth of lustrating materials.
What kind is it?
Curious, I lifted the top of the box for a little to peek inside.
Holy shit. My eyes went wide. Then turned at him looking at him suspiciously. Sitting pretty was a set of 10 tiny vials of a glowing green liquid. It’s not poison, right?
Do you know what it is Eurval or do you need to be connected to the outside world?
[No, I have this record. I believe it is the processed blood of a plant-based hyre. Its value is close to 120,000 scales Lucid.]
I laughed internally. Typical of them they’re oblivious to the value of things like this. Kevin, Noe, Ester all did this all the time too, one time I took the three to the fist market as I ran an errand when I got back to them I found them each hold a bag of salmon. They all got charged a hundred dollars per pound.
The sly seller had told them he was the wagyu of the salmon.
There was also the possibility that this was the cheapest lustrating material he had. I should have asked for more.
I sighed with a hint of envy and put it away. Imagine all the things I could have if I just agreed.
“This is good enough, follow me.” I pretended to be unimpressed.
Eugene nodded his head and followed after me outside. I summoned Eurval and did some stretches before I began.
A wave of heat brushed past me. Even Eugene looked surprised by the strength of a fire arrow. It’s the power of a completely synced spell its efficiency can often reach greater than the mana I put in.
That was 51%. It was hard to describe the feeling it gave, but I did feel a resonance within me from the sudden burst of mana coming out at once. It was uncomfortable, to say the least.
Eugene was standing beside me his eyes had a distinct sharp blue glow. I could sense a wave of mana pass over me from time to time. Key term being over not within me.
Am I too trusting? Should I stop him, there was no way he could suddenly know I’m not from this world right? Eurval did say I was too suspicious people.
I didn’t even trust such a nice person like Ronald until later.
It would mean I would give back all that lustrating material though.
I weighed the options in my mind and decided to not do anything for now. Every so often I would hear Eugene give a “Hmm” and nod his head. I’m sure he was taking rigorous notes.
I threw a violet pill in my mouth.
How bitter. What a damn waste too. I could not get over the fact of how wasteful it was to use my pills in this way.
[There is no other choice Lucid.]
I know, I know, but it doesn’t mean I won’t complain every moment I can!
Fifteen minutes passed by and I could feel my manabody was back to a little over 60%.
Only a bit over 10% per pill? So much less than I thought…
I threw another three pills into my mouth and did my best to swallow. They’re not very big pills but, why are they so hard to swallow Eurval?
A little over 20 minutes passed putting my mana back to close to full. With this, I brought Eurval back out and began creating an arrow.
Let’s try 55% wind?
[No, if you overreach you can go into mana shock.]
Mana shock? I vaguely remember what it meant, but did know it was bad. Okay, then let’s do a 1% increase.
I raised my hand as the loaded arrow appeared in my hand. While it didn’t shake. So it goes from clear to cloudly to back to clear. I looked at the wind essence arrow I had just created.
Holding the arrow felt like I had a tornado of wind essence mana in my hand.
I bet this one is going to be awesome. I nocked it and shot it high up into the air with no target in mind.
No sound? I was surprised by how reserved it was. I watched the arrow fly up at an incredible speed then disappear out of sight. A moment after it disappeared my hair shot forward and my ears were quickly overrun with the sound of wind rushing past me.
“EUGHHH” I let out a loud groan. A wave of pain attacked my body. Like a million needles where being extruded out from under my skin throughout every part of my body. A prickly pain so massive my mind went blank. I stood stiff as a board afraid any movement would let the imaginary needles ‘poke’ out and show me another level of pain.
[You’re going mana shock! Stay put if you can’t move and do not cast any more magic!]
What? I didn’t overreach? My mind went foggy and my eyes glazed over. I saw a pair of blue lights walk over to me.
“Okay, lay down for me Lucid.” I heard a muffled voice then suddenly felt myself be slowly dropped to the floor.
“Oh wow, your skin is freezing. Your sweating a little too. You’re definitely in mana-shock. Just rest here for a little bit don’t move and do NOT cast any more spells.”
Huh? I felt a blanket draped over me all I could do was stare at the bright sky, my eyes refusing to close under my control until my eyelids were forcefully dragged down.
Time ticked on it didn’t feel very long instead feeling as if I awoke from a short nap, but according to the clock, about eight hours had passed.
[Lucid, you’re awake. How are you feeling? Eugene said you went into pretty bad mana-shock, he has been treating you. I’m not sure how…]
The memories slowly came back to me. I went into mana-shock. Slowly I opened my eyes. I tried to sit up, but my body was feeling extremely languid.
“You’re up Lucid. You went into mana-shock a couple hours ago. Did you overreach how much did you try and surpass your limit by?”
Eugene touched my head with glowing blue hands shining a bright light into each of my eyes.
“I only tried a percent.”
Eugene looked at me and nodded his head then let go putting the little light away.
“That’s around what everyone does. Hmm, If it wasn’t you overreaching then it happened to cause your manabody is overused for the day or the quality of the mana inside you was too low at the time.”
Eugene looked at my spatial ring. He was probably thinking about my violet pills.
“Or a little of both? But don’t fret there won’t be any permanent damage since you didn’t can’t any spells after the symptoms appeared.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. That’s what I really cared about. This guy… he’s actually pretty reliable.
[So that’s what it was, I apologize Lucid I did not know this could happen. I should have known. I’m sorry.]
There was a slow cadence to the voice in my head filling me with a little sadness. Eurval felt guilty how cute.
Don’t worry about it, if I didn’t know you wouldn’t know either especially right now when you can only work off what we’ve stored.
For obvious reasons, most of the information in the Laurent database was only accessible when connected with magical encryption. Meaning some stuff was impossible to store anyways.
So don’t feel bad. Besides even if Eugene wasn’t here we would have been fine. Maybe my face a little bit dirty after passing out and falling on the floor, but that’s it.
In reality, it was good I chose to practice on this sub-floor where the dangers were minimal.
Slowly, I could feel my energy returning to my body. My mana had restored, naturally too, feeling in tip-top shape. After drinking a little water and a small snack I returned to the yard.
[Lucid you say small snack, but you ate a whole loaf of bread…]
I smiled hearing Eurval feel better, but my face twitched as I rubbed my poor stomach. It was a lot of jam and toast I just shoved in there.
Eugene had followed me back out with the blue glow in his eyes returning.
I scanned my own body. It did feel a bit ‘firmer’. I think I was successful in increasing my maximum loading and expulsion. Good, good at this rate I think I should reach 80 in maybe two weeks?
Still, I was sad I lost half a day of practice because of this mishap at a time where every hour counted.
I could only sigh and pulled out my beautiful bow.
Let’s try 52.