Chapter 32: The Daily Grind
“This spot too…”
First my flame fox hunting spot and now my cave floor spot too…
[That is too bad Lucid you really liked this place.]
My ‘spot’ was packed with people. In beginning, I didn’t care for the dozen or so because this area is large.
I can see thousands of people at the edge of the drop off. The place I had found running away from Abigail two weeks ago.
All I want is a nice quiet palace to relax by watching the magma pour down. It’s like a waterfall of molten metal with heat and intensity that drys and warms my soaked bones.
Especially now that I have to wade through one of the watery dungeon floors for amateurs on the eastern side.
I let out a breath, it looks like a summer festival.
My nose was filled with the smell of grilled foods from the many food stands that have moved here leaving the plazas.
Every day there seems to be a new one and every day there seem to be more people.
I guess I’ll just go to the park again.
I glared down at them from a small vantage point before turning to leave.
[I’m reading the message boards everyone seems to be feeling the same way you do when they’re near here. They say the closer they are the nicer it is.]
I clicked my tongue.
Well, at least I got to enjoy the heat alone for a little bit.
This place is as close as I can get without climbing the levee, but who would do that?
“Oh my gosh! Someone climbing it!?”
A high pitched voice yelled out grabbing my attention. I turned my head back again to see a little black dot on the giant brown earthen wall.
I hope he doesn’t damage it too bad…
If I have to fix it I’ll be paid for a full session right?
[Yes, it is explicitly stated as long as you didn’t damage nor have someone damage it in your place.]
Climbing higher and higher up the wall like a spider I made out a person’s arms and legs digging into the wall to get a footing.
“HEY GET DOWN FROM THERE!” A patrol of Laurent guardsman yelled out.
Of course, the person didn’t listen and continued to climb until they reached the part of the levee that hung over the pit.
“JASON! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!” a woman’s voice screeched out.
Quickly after the warning, the three guards flew up, but they were too late.
He jumped. I could see his tiny likeness fall like a rock.
What the hell.
I heard the voice that had screamed out yell out his name as the tiny man flew in down.
Like an Olympic diver, he dove in head first with his arms stretched out down into the unknown depth.
Eurval I’m not showing any signs of mental afflictions right?
[No…but I’m going on high alert now. I believe it is the flame fox orbs you absorbed that have caused you to enjoy the heat, I don’t think I’m mistaken Lucid. But I will be focusing my resources into your mental state. Again, I will remind you I can only be reactive to any changes.]
I didn’t know what to say, nor did anyone that had formed a circle around a woman who had yelled.
It was so sudden and odd. Maybe they were all worried, like me, if it was some insidious mental affliction that had gone unnoticed.
Meaning that maybe this dungeon floor isn’t as safe as we all believe it is.
I shook my head to whoever that was. Let alone surviving the drop if he didn’t have any flying type magic, that magma isn’t just hot I would say its liquid sun. Hence why the levees, that are reinforced magic and its incredible thickness, are constantly in need of repairs.
Seeing the man disappear the three guards stopped mid-flight and turned around back towards us.
“Everyone step back.” Standing side to side the Laurent guards put their hands up and waved them forward guiding everyone away from the railing and the levee.
“We will be closing off the area for the time being.”
A different guardsman multiplied into a dozen clones and began scooting people back to cord off the area with a white rope.
“J-Jason?… why…?” I finally caught a close view of the voice that appeared to know the person who had jumped.
She was a woman a little older than I am in a modest white dress and had a wooden staff adorned with a large light green jewel at its head. Her green hair matched the jewel kept in a thick braid to one side.
There weren’t any tears that I could see. I think she was still in a state of disbelief. Her knees must have buckled as she sat on the floor staring off towards the levee spout.
“Ma’am, can you come with us? Is it alright if we ask you some questions?” The last guard took off their helmet revealing a similar young woman with silver hair.
“Huh? O-okay…” The guardswoman wrapped the shaken woman in a white blanket carrying the Laurent insignia then helped her to her feet before guiding her away.
The green haired woman gave a weak nod following the guard away. I could see her eyes in a daze still in a confusion.
Silence filled the air until the guardswoman and the green hair lady where gone from sight.
The chatter began picking up again.
“What the fuck did Laurent lie is this place not safe?”
“The kids…honey should we go buy clarity wards for them? Where are they? I’m going to message them right now to come to us.”
“Bro, that dude fucking jumped off the aqueduct!”
“It’s a levee Giori, but yeah Lynn has a clarity spell right? Let’s go see her.”
I could distinctly tell it much more active than it was earlier for a very obvious reason.
Okay, this is too much, I guess I’ll just go to the small park inside the Scale Church’s estate.
Guide me Eurval.
I’m absolutely sure there where very few who could navigate the city without the help of a MAGI especially since roads where constantly moving or becoming blocked off.
For those who could fly it didn’t matter, but for the masses, it was another story.
[Sure thing Lucid.]
I made my way through the crowd that had invaded my little vantage point now that so many where pushed back.
While following Eurval’s navigation arrows I had another thing on my mind.
[Lucid: Hey, was I suppose to filter out traits that don’t just affect my physical appearance?]
[Eugene: Of course… if you do not want your internal physiology and especially mental or personality traits to change also.]
That was not good to hear. I’ve come to terms now that I’m not going to know everything, but it still sucks.
Eurval you knew this and didn’t tell me…
[No Lucid, I had just come to the conclusion just then.]
I wasn’t angry, but now I felt quite vexed now I had no one to shift the blame but myself.
I let out a long sigh.
It’s okay. Nothing I’m fine. I feel great. It’s not like I can’t remove the traits I don’t want.
[Isn’t it extremely painful Lucid and isn’t it even worse if you wait longer than a week or so?]
Shhhh, it is fine. Everything is fine.
[You don’t sound very fine Lucid.]
I swallowed my saliva.
Everything is a-okay.
Before I realized it I was sitting down on a wooden bench inside Scale’s massive treasure estate. The small park within had tranquil spaces like this field of white and blue lilies with a backdrop of the beautiful cathedral.
Done with my daily routine, including both the essence training and lustrating, I had my leisure time. Usually, I spent it watching the magma flow down because apparently, I’m part flame fox now, but today I was relaxing watching the flowers wave in the cool softly breezing wind.
I took a large breath and held it for a moment.
Then slowly exhaled it out. I felt my body loosen, while the scene earlier wasn’t all that saddening to me it was alarming. Don’t get me wrong I did find it tragic.
There were two obvious of many possibilities, the Jason guy was already troubled and decided to pass on here, or, something else is happened to affect his mental state.
Unless it was all an act by that woman it must have been sudden.
This place is calming but in a different sense to the hot magma.
You can feel what I feel right Eurval?
[If you allow me to, yes I can link with your other senses.]
I could feel Eurval’s resource utilization rise a little.
[Yes, this place is quite nice Lucid.]
I didn’t expect it but hearing that made me a little happy.
The air had a “lightness” to it, easily entering every crevice in my lungs, carrying a sweet scent from the minuscule amount of light essence. I could sense the essence originating inside the chapel radiating outward to the area surrounding it.
I could hear a choir singing a bright hymn. Calming me further. I didn’t understand the references within the song, but I could feel the ancient divinity carried by each verse.
[It is time for daily worship for those truly devoted Lucid.]
It was also probably the reason why the park was so empty. Usually when I passed by it was packed with children running, playing, and even doing chores.
I found funny even though technology had progressed extremely far in this world the nuns and fathers still made the orphan children do laundry outside by hand or with magic. As so far as making them dry the linen white sheets on clotheslines.
[Maybe you should pray to the Goddess she might take notice and help you Lucid.]
—Dong Dong Dong
The cathedral bell in the high tower rung out as the next hour began. It also seemed to signify the end of mass as I watched hundreds of kids pour out.
“Hey, it’s mister ghost!”
“Mister ghost! Why won’t you pass on!”
“Pass on! Pass on! Pass on!”
A flock of children surrounded me as I sat on the bench.
Most people make an effort to ignore the extreme paleness of my skin and hair. The only exception are these filterless little brats.
“Hey don’t pull on my hair!”
“Yaa! The ghost got mad!”
“Alright, I will pass on and I’ll take THIS with me. Humph.” I took out a bag of sweets.
I never intended to interact with these kids, but these little shits attacked me with a weak fireball thinking I was a literal ghost the first time I came to this park. As much as I wanted to lay these kids out I stopped myself, it wasn’t until a passing nun came and stopped them did they stop their chase.
“No mister ghost! Stay! Scale will forgive you this time!”
The enlarging group of kids echoed off one another. Their leader the young girl that tried to set me on fire.
“That’s what I thought. Now, feast!” I smirked down at them as I began to pass out the candies.
It was easy to control these idiots.
“You’ve come to play with them again? They missed you since you didn’t come back for over a week.”
“I don’t come to play. I visit for the lush scenery, the splendid air, and the calming music.”
The young nun laughed at my remark.
[Didn’t you say something about being a little kid lover, Lucid?]
Please don’t summarize it like that Eurval.
I said I liked hanging out with these kids because their intentions are pure. No real deals, no real schemes, no real lies they wear their hearts on their sleeves.
It’s embarrassing to repeat.
“Mister ghost what did you fight this time?”
“Today? I fought this ugly thing called a razor scaled snake. Do you wanna see?”
Their eyes looked up to me expectantly.
“Alright, but don’t get scared.” Quickly I summoned the human-sized severed head of a snake. Its jaw slightly crooked from an explosion that had roasted half of its head.
“Ooooh!” Blue blood and bits of brains spilled out from its neck causing the kids to awe in unison.
“Oops.” Making a mess I put it back into my ring.
“Yeah, and I ki—defeated thirteen of these.”
“Mister ghost your so cool!”
I couldn’t tell them I was only brave enough to do it because I had Eugene watching over me. These were a bit stronger than flame foxes so it took me much more time before I could kill one.
A first sniping them from a distance was difficult since they seemed to react faster than flame foxes. However, it was good practice as now my long-range shooting has improved to a point where I can snipe them reliably.
“Did the young man that is usually with you not come today?” The nun used some kind of quick magic to wipe away the mess I had made.
“No, Eugene said something about me being fully healed already and needed to adjust something before he loses the train of thought.”
Surprisingly Eugene was pretty good with kids. As in he just let them do whatever. Climb him, poke his face, swing on his arms. He just stands there with a sleepy face.
“I see. You always come during prayer why not join in and watch? The acoustics inside are built to offer a small boost in stamina and strength.”
“Maybe later. I like the serenity of the empty park.”
I was averse to entering a Scale Church for other reasons, but I couldn’t say them.
The young nun nodded her head accepting my answer.
“Adventurer, can you tell me your name? I apologize in advance, but even I’m beginning to refer to as a mister ghost.” The nun gave a light laugh her eyes creasing.
“I’m Lucid Gracile, Laurent Academy cadet.”
“Hmm, I figured you were from one of the academies. I am Liion, I have no surname to offer you, but you understand that right?”
I didn’t, but I think I understand married to the Goddess or something?
We conversed for a little bit, followed by playing with the children some more with the little leisure time I had left.
It wasn’t relaxing, but it was soothing. I felt a little guilty now having ditched them to watch the magma.
Quickly the time passed after I began play fighting with the magic users with the wind I could control without any spell.
I pretended to be holding back, but in reality, I am at about the same level of mastery as them.
Being older I am obviously progressing much quicker than them as I learn from them.
I shot a strong gust knocking the small group on their butts.
“HA! Looks like I win again. Alright, it’s time for me to go. I have hyres to hunt.”
“No mister ghost stay!”
No way Eurval will let me spend another minute here.
“ Sorry, but don’t worry I’ll show you the hyre I defeat I promise okay?”
“Hunt a needle wolf! I saw one in a book! They look strong!”
Yeah, hell no kid.
“Maybe, if I see one~” I smiled at the young girl that spoke out. The same one that had tried to set me on fire.
Having saved a few of the candies for myself I left the park and the cathedral estate treasure chewing a sweet taffy.
Liion didn’t see me off as she had left midway to go take care of whatever nuns had to do.
Now that my leisure time was over my daily grind would begin again after a half-hour of eight-hour sleep. It was early morning right now today I was scheduled to perform maintenance on the levee in the late evening.
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