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Chapter 31: Always Taking and No Giving
“All those who are here as part of reinforcing the Levee please accept register on the on the website that was on the announcement! It will sort you and give your MAGI directions to your designated portion!”
As the guardsman, in the familiar Laurent official equipment, called out a message appeared in my vision.
Eurval seemed to have registered me on the way here.
[You’ve been given a portion of the levee at the southern end Lucid. It estimates 3 sessions to fulfill the duty.]
Three sessions, so three casts of the spell that’s included in the email?
[Yup, so let us move. I have only so much slack built into our schedule, even after the addition of the sleep replacement pills~]
Here I was expecting just 500 scales, this wasn’t lucrative, but the pay was half-decent. Maybe it’s a pittance for me but I felt for the average person it was alright.
The crowd that had gathered with me in the main plaza began to disperse with confident steps as their MAGI’s, like Eurval, sent them to their designated portions. Even if there wasn’t a night time I could easily tell the foot traffic usually was in a lull.
Most of the larger stores that had estate treasure type stores where opened all the time, but the smaller shops like the nice woman who gave me the bowl of soup where barely setting up for the day.
I was reminded because I walked past her heading to the southern end. Already I could see a line of eager children forming with bowls in hand awaiting their first meal of the day.
A couple of the older children were helping her set up too, folding the white linen tarp that she probably used to close shop.
[Hey, faster Lucid.]
I seemed to have slowed my steps watching the nice woman start feeding the dungeon urchins.
I’m going, I’m going. Goodness, I just want to enjoy the wholesome scene.
I picked up my pace and made my way through the wide-to-narrow to wide again streets —due to the lack of city planning. There were no people around allowing me to move quite quickly and letting me hear my footsteps crunch the dirt under my feet.
Everyone seemed to be asleep, most of the sounds that always filled the city were gone making it feel all a bit empty.
I wonder if it is the high ceiling messing with the acoustics?
[One more left Lucid and you shall arrive.]
My mind refocused at Eurval’s directions, I began to think back to the spell included with the job. Truth be told most of the people that gathered with me weren’t young, but rather looked like normal citizens of Laurent. Many in their middle ages. Many looked like fathers and mothers.
I read the average mana pool is maybe a few hundred AM. So most of them can only cast the spell once?
[It is why they pay per session, Lucid.]
I see it makes sense.
I wonder if they’re here because they had obligations like a family to take care of or they did this out of support as fellow people stuck here?
I shrugged to myself.
[We are here Lucid. I have scheduled this to take one hour. The recommendations say to cast the spell with a little overlap.]
I stood beside my portion. Staring down to where it ended I could see a giant spout pouring a glowing liquid down into the dark pit below.
Eurval kept my portion highlighted in green with a red highlighting used for the portion not under my responsibility. The measurement looked exact as I could see the cutoff point from where I stood labeled for another person.
I must have beat them.
I didn’t see anyone but me.
This giant thing was created by Laurent himself?
[Yes, various online reports not including Rook’s confirm he cast the earth based magic to prop up the two walls on both sides.]
I can understand why he would call him and his party as Scale’s Saints…
The two earthen walls that ran the length of the cave where massive now up close. Now with the specifications given for the job I could see they were 43 kilometers long each and 50 meters tall.
Being honest, I thought it was a little lame. Now, though, it kinda matches.
On my portion, I could see no cracks or failure points, but Laurent himself had set up the system of maintenance workers. Apparently, this was taken care of by the Laurent guardsman that had been sucked in at first.
[Your falling behind Lucid, you need to go hyre hunting after and that will take most of your day. We need to maximize the time we have to collect orbs.]
Like a slave driver, Eurval commanded me. I didn’t mind it was all to maximize the amount of strength I can gain.
I began casting the spell included with the job. Its name was rather plain too labeled “levee.maintenance.spell.revision.3.1.”
This is very much like Laurent’s Circle…
The levee maintenance spell is pretty simple. I felt, though I could be wrong, he sacrificed efficiency for simplicity again.
Is it so more people could perform this duty?
[Sure, that is a reasonable assumption Lucid. Now, start casting the spell on the levee… I need to record it to send it in as proof so we can get paid.]
Alright, I’m starting.
I put my attention over the start of my assigned portion of the levee and cast the maintenance spell. With the glowing white circle floating above it created a droning sound as pulsating waves of white seemed to be penetrating deep into the levee. Like the essence filtering technique I could feel connected to the portion I held the spell over.
Like an x-ray…
I had a sense of the smallest internal details and could already sense that the levee was only pristine on the outside. The inside I could already sense tiny cracks and imperfections.
The mana load was small but it was a consistent flow being expelled from within me as I began to control the spell to repair and reform the levee into their its original shape.
The heat from the magma must be the reason it needs to be repaired. The levee felt strong to me and I could assume water could be diverted indefinitely with a creation as good as this.
Like Rainer’s movement magic the maintenance spell worked with a charge system. Each cast was enough for a couple hundred meters unless there was a concentrated amount of imperfections at a bend or curve then it seemed to drain the charge faster.
I moved along my portion with the completed parts being ‘darkened’ by Eurval’s augmented control of my vision. I felt like a blue-collar worker being recorded for some television show causing me to be extra diligent.
As I performed my work I hummed and tapped my feet. Having been put to do three entire sessions it meant I saw the city change quite a bit. I went from a rather shanty looking start with many tents in full view, too small homes made of simple earth magic, followed by homes that were similar to Eugene’s in quality, and now I was in a place that looked quite upscale and gentrified.
The estates and small shops in this area by the levee where huge and notably upscale looking. Many of the estates appeared to have formed around treasures that summoned small lakes or parks.
It was nice to look at, but I was quite bored running the spell along the wall now.
Is there a public network with free music? I’m gonna hum a song do you think you can find something similar to it.
I started to realize how inconvenient it was to have lost all of my favorite music from Earth…
[There are some, but the selection is limited. However, I shall do my best Lucid.]
You’re the darn best Eurval.
As I began to hum a voice broke my concentration as I tried to remember the chorus.
“Lucid? Lucid, that is you correct?” A soft and sweet voice attacked me.
I made an involuntary sound of disgust at hearing a familiarity I turned my head to the source as I continued to fix the levee with my spell.
Alone this time?
She casually strolled towards me with her creepy glimmering green eyes causing me to shiver when they met mine.
“I was correct it is you!” She walked closer.
“I think we may have gotten off on the wrong foot. Instead, let us start anew. I shall introduce myself first.”
“Hello, I am Abigail Brandt thirty-first princess of the Brandt Royal Family.”
You do know conversations are a two-way street? Why are you deciding all of this suddenly?
I wanted to say that, but I felt I should just keep a professional attitude to this literal princess.
Who knows one offense too great and my head is taken from my body.
“Yes, maybe we did. It is wonderful to meet you, Princess Abigail, I’m Lucid Gracile.” I smiled at her playing along.
I didn’t spend all those years at arms with Alice and learn nothing.
“It is also great to meet you Lucid.” Abigail gave a light elated laugh making sure to cover her mouth with her hand in a rather delicate fashion.
For someone so strong she can look rather dainty.
Having been reciprocated Abigail stepped even closer. Her face coming into view.
Huh, I think because of how creepy I found her I had completely glossed over how beautiful she was.
Abigail wore a small oval face and a tiny nose. Her skin was milky and imperfection free. She even wore equipment picturesque to the title of a princess. A dark green dress, that I’m sure had better defensive capabilities than the steel armor I wore, and a hand equipped with many pretty rings along with a bracelet.
It feels odd wearing the helmet on the cave floor, but maybe I should.
“So, Lucid, please tell. What brings you here?” Abigail looked quite perplexed.
“As a future hero, I’m doing what I can to keep the people safe. Part of it includes keeping the levee in perfect shape.”
“You’re repairing the levee? How upstanding. Helping people must be rewarding for you. Is that why you are close with the Rook family? To help the sick?”
I had to stop my eye from twitching at the mention and ignored it.
Looking back, I had thought Eugene came from a normal wealthy family when I first fought him since his rankings were in the hundreds, but after learning more about the Rook name I’ve come to realize that his family is on par with the top. Despite not originally being part of any royalty.
How did she know though…
[You have spent a lot of time out in the open walking and talking with Eugene. I’m sure many have seen you and have assumed so.]
True, but it also means this psycho might be keeping tabs on me.
I guess I was right on the mark when I said she was the type to want to know anything and everything about anyone she came into contact with.
“You can put it that way, yes.” I was helping Eugene with his research.
I took a step to my right moving the spell with me as I continued to repair the levee. Abigail followed put as I continued my work, my answers must not have satiated her seemingly insatiable curiosity.
“What about you princess Abigail, what brings you here to the outer parts of the wealthy community? Is it even alright for a princess to be walking alone?” I cast my line to see if anything interesting would bite.
Honestly, I didn’t really care about her reply unless it was something incredibly intriguing.
“I appreciate your concern, but I’m sure you understand this area has security far above what Laurent has left for the general populace. I’m just out for a short walk, I quite fancy the calmness in the mornings. I was heading back to my family’s estate, but I then I saw you a fellow cadet and had to say hello.”
This area has tighter security? Is it because the red light district is a little that way?
Why did you guys even set your neighborhood up so…
I chuckled internally at a realization. Of course, the red light district is right across the location the affluent made for themselves.
“Lucid, can I request something from you?” Abigail tilted her head and looked at me rounding her eyes.
No, but you’re probably going to ask it anyway.
“Can you and Eugene join my party?”
Ah, that confirms my suspicious now.
Not long ago, as in yesterday, she was indifferent about creating even a semblance of acquaintanceship between us.
But now? She was being aggressive in an effort to talk to me.
I gave her a pass on the initial start as just chatter, but now I understood.
I was connected to Eugene. She probably found out that I began living with him recently.
The Rook surname is the definitely the reason Chibin chose not to spar Eugene instead of his lower ranking like I initially thought.
I looked into her emerald eyes. Their brilliance freighting, but this was nothing.
Abigail you’re going to need more than just a cute frown and ten-minute conversation to ask something like this. Or at least give me something in return.
However, a party with everyone including Eugene at your level of strength? I would die. When you ask for both of us your really asking for Eugene.
“I’m so sorry we aren’t partied together you going to have to ask Eugene himself.”
“But I’ll gladly join your party if you will have me!”
“Ehh actually I should talk to my party before adding any new members. I appreciate your willingness and have taken note.”
I could only laugh internally. I expected Abigail to shoot me down.
I threw a pained expression on my face. Coupled with my rather sickly face I hoped it looked convincing.
“So you didn’t want me after all! Damn it all! I’m so sorry to have wasted your time I’ll get out of your hair now!”
I dashed off in a fake embarrassment headed to the far end of my section. I’m sure she was gonna be persistent until she got me to call Eugene or something. I decided to cut loose here.
“Hey! Wait can you ask Eugene! Wait!” Her words trail off as I escaped her vicinity.
Really I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to party with me either. However, trying to talk to her was too mentally taxing trying to read her and had caused me to slow down my work.
Eurval had made sure to keep reminding that I was falling behind.
I stopped a distance after she fell out of my sight. Maybe my vision was too good now because I hadn’t realized I was now at end of the levee.
A massive spout jutted out from the steep drop off into the dark below. I could hear a deep roaring coming from the spout as the magma poured itself down with tremendous force.
Like a dam being opened, there was enough speed in the flow to shoot the river of magma forward before drooping down.
I could see the exact same structure and roughly the same amount of magma far off in the distance on the opposite, southeast, side where the red light district was.
The heat radiating warmed my face even from such a great distance. I was now no longer protected by the thick levee walls. Instead, I stood by the stone railing propped up a few feet before the drop-off. I wasn’t afraid of falling, but I didn’t want to get any closer than I had to.
[The view must be awing, but you really need to get back to work Lucid.[
Having gotten away I began humming again as I began working on repairing the levee once more. I would work my way back towards where I had left.
Hopefully, Abigail will be gone by the time I get back.
“Phew, we finished early.”
It wasn’t physically taxing, but the work was still a bit tiring. Thanks to Eurval’s meticulous guidance and no distractions I moved with great efficiency.
[Good job Lucid with this we should have 1500 scales added to our funds.]
That’s good to hear. I want to save up for a decent armor that is at least in the front part of Marella’s store.
My spearbow was progressing nicely. I felt it now surpassed the cheap and new grown bow or spear that I had looked at before. Better was the fact that only a tiny sliver of it had now become infused with mana.
Oh yeah, there was a massive crack running along the entire end piece should I report that?
I had fixed it of course, but it ran along the levee leading up to the spout.
“I won’t get sued into oblivion if it breaks right?”
[I will add it to the report included with the recordings Lucid. Done. I have submitted all three sessions. Our pay should be deposited within a couple of minutes as long as we stay on this floor, else we have to wait until we reconnect to the local network.]
Since we have a little time I want to see something.
[Ehh, sure, but be quick you need to hunt hyres and you probably won’t be able to go back the flame foxes so I’ve added some slack to adjust to a new floor, but it would best to move early Lucid.]
Okay, okay. I’ll be quick.
I cast my movement spell and sprinted back to the end of the cave floor where the magma was being poured into.
[Here again? Why Lucid?]
“I don’t know, I just feel something. I had thought it was the drop off scaring me, but it feels like something else that’s filling me with anxiety.”
I peered over the railing. It was so incredibly dark even the brightness of the magma wasn’t enough to light it up well past a few dozen meters.
[Are you sure it isn’t you having another tiny panic attack?]
“I can’t describe it. I can just sense something resonating with me when I’m near here. It’s not mana based either I don’t think. Are there really no hyres on this cave floor?”
[Laurent himself, various other powerful figures, and Rook’s database all have concluded there are no traces of hyres ever being present on this floor. It is the reason why Laurent chose this place to keep all of the citizens a safe Lucid.]
I shut my eyes and began to scan the latent mana.
There really is nothing…
I could only sense a slight amount of mana contained within the magma just like food from the vineyard subfloor.
You’re probably right, can you direct me back to Eugene’s house Eurval.
Intuitiveness was not a factor that was implemented when this popup city was being built. It was easy to get here since I just had to follow alongside the massive levee.
Without help, I’m sure I would get lost.
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