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Chapter 43: Back Where I Started
The daze didn’t leave me until I had awoken the next morning. I guessed that a Scale Priest, maybe out of goodness of his heart, had found a Lucid while adventuring or traveling for whatever reason.
Then, took it upon himself to bring my old body to the orphanage within the Scale Allegiance. Not like anyone would suspect a Scale Priest of any wrongdoing or even really investigate the matter. I was just another orphan, a statistic, of the many children who are left every day due to the sheer amount of deaths hyres cause.
Like I had seen in the news, within the safe walls of Laurent City, most of the world could not afford to live in such guarded areas.
A chuckle leaked out.
Though, I’m sure property values have steeply dropped seeing how useless the proclaimed fortress of a city was to the whim of a natural magical phenomenon.
Of course, I was exaggerating due to the sour taste the word ‘Laurent’ left. In truth without the resistance of the barrier the entire city would have been swallowed and the deaths multiple times larger.
With that, I left the inn for the guild of this sleepy city. I had set to pick up my delivery early and more importantly wanted to go explore the area where the warp rabbits roam and the Lucids are discarded.
With the phone I had no reason to visit the front desk, I reserved a private room for myself to wait for the delivery of my armor, spear, and lustrating materials.
Right on time at seven sharp. The delivery windows are set in 5-minute intervals.
“Hello, we have a delivery for room 13.”
I cracked the door open once more, through the crack I could see four pairs of feet.
Like with my spearbow the expensive stuff comes with security.
Well, my spearbow wasn’t particularly expensive just it could have been and this was just standard procedure.
I held my right hand out in a fist with my storage ring pointed towards them without saying a word. They understood and one of their hands tapped against mine. Immediately after I sensed the transfer begin as items came into my ring.
“If the contents and quantity are as described please mark it as so within the prompt.”
Through the contacts, a prompt appeared after an unknown female spoke.
The lustrating materials were easy to check as they came in boxes, ten boxes each neatly packed with 100 pretty tiny vials.
However, my focus was elsewhere. I pulled out two rings from my storage both were terribly dark and cold to the touch. Looking at them filled me with a feeling of dread as if staring at death itself.
They don’t call it death tungsten for nothing.
For a moment I wondered where such metal is collected. A natural occurrence between mana and a normal tungsten mine, a dungeon floor, or specific hyres?
After being bound, instantly the armor appeared equipped on me.
I had already seen its appearance through the terminal, but in person, it was something else.
A screen couldn’t transmit the grim aura the dark armor propagated within the tiny room. The temperature inside dropped too. It was comfortable for me within the suit of full plate armor but the icy air was clearly visible.
Next, I turned to the spear. If the armor screamed grim then the spear that appeared in my hand had a baleful cry.
A semi-translucent black shaft with a mirror finish on the crowning where the close-to-meter-long blade began.
This is tungsten, right?
After a quick search, I learned that death tungsten can, in fact, be translucent. That specific trait was a testament to the quality of the death tungsten used.
I re-checked my armor again, I looked closely this time.
The armor was also partially translucent but it had another non-translucent tungsten layer under it so the gem-like trait could only be seen at the edges.
I gave myself one final pat down and a glance down.
Everything looks good.
Aesthetically, too, I liked the appearance. Although being thicker and heavier than my old steel armor it had a sleeker feel to its look.
“Is everything alright?” The feminine voice spoke out again.
Oops, having shut the door I had forgotten about them. Besides, checking items sold from the guild was just a standard precaution no one would believe the guild would sell faulty goods. Their reputation was everything.
I confirmed the delivery on my end.
“Very well, we shall take our leave.”
With everything I needed concluding, I stepped out wearing the same robes I had walked in with. The difference being the two black rings stacked on my right index finger.
With this at least I felt a weight off my shoulders.
With a weapon and a set of armor let me feel at peace. It was probably my time stuck in the Tole Forest Dungeon that had made me accustomed to this. I was almost always wearing my steel armor, which I didn’t mind. As rigid as it looked it wasn’t for the wearer. It felt like any other set of clothes. No, it felt better than clothes since I knew how safe I was behind it.
The guild was busy today as it was the first weekday. People and parties of all types walked the stone floors of the guild. Some waiting in line to speak to a guild staff member and other sitting around the many open tables. My guess was talking about the splitting of rewards or use of party funds.
Before I leave, I’ll at least go benchmark myself.
Although my goal was just hyres literal children could kill I wanted to have a clear idea of where I am.
Down the hall of private rooms it led to an open outdoor atrium garden filled with more open tables and seating. Across from me was an arena looking building marked “Civieto Guild Training Grounds”
Within there was equipment that was free to use, the nicer stuff for higher ranked adventurers, and also what I came for — The benchmarking rooms.
[STR: 1013, AGI: 1122, MGI: 1500, Mana Cap.: 4432 AM]
I looked over my combat data as I exited the testing area. The trials where easy. Punching a target dummy 30 times and recorded myself dashing 30 times. The average was taken which gave me my score.
As for my magic and mana, all I did was pour mana into a crystal shard with a levitating inscription connected to a metallic cube. I had set the cube’s weight at a 1000 kilograms then levitated it for forty-four and something seconds.
I will say my efficiency is much better than expected as the loss due to the high weight was non-existent. I could have waited for my mana to recover and begun the load testing to get my MGI, but because of how well I’ve gotten at sensing my mana I am confident 34% was about the max load I could incur safely and instantly.
With a weapon and armor, it was time for me to leave. I still connected to the network I accepted a guild quest since I was going to be hunting the hyres regardless.
[Quest Location: Outer Limits of Civieto
Issuer: Civieto Adventurer’s Guild (Paid for by the Civieto City)
Reward: 1 cento per hyre slain
Guild Reward: 0.2 guild points per hyre slain
Quest Details: Open quest to all who wish to accept. Kick Rabbits, Quick Bunnies, and Noxious Hares are about to begin mating season to avoid a massive overrun this seasonal quest is open again.]
With this, I set out to finish gathering some more necessary stuff before I head back out into the wild.
“Tent, a hundred pounds of rice, a hundred pounds of vegetables, a bed, sleeping bag, blankets, pans, pots, cups, flour, milk, eggs, butter, bread, a hundred pounds of rabbit meat, and raw clacka root.”
Mmhm, this looks good.
My purchases were stored neatly inside my storage ring. I was happy with the price I got everything for, all of it for well under 1000 centos.
I do think I may have bought a rather expensive brand of casual clothes now that I think about it.
Maybe that’s why people treated me so nicely even though many think I’m unable to awaken. That also meant it’s very rare for non-hyridean people to visit as the possibility wasn’t in their mind unless it was obvious such as a priest wearing Scale Church attire.
With this exercise of running around to various shops in the city, I was beginning to get a sense for the value of a cento. I had an inkling yesterday when a week’s stay cost only ten, but now I was certain that 70 centos for a set of underwear, pants, shoes, and top was quite the spend.
So, that’s why the underwear was so nice…
For that quality, I didn’t mind that purchase so much.
Ready, I departed back out from the same gate I had come in from. Following the road into the fir forest greeted with sweet air.
My dark spear slid into the kick rabbit like a hot knife through butter. I felt no resistance, I questioned if I had hit the rabbit. However, my worries were unfounded as the long blade of the spear had pierced right through it when I brought it back up.
“Turning off the grim and baleful aura was the right choice,” I spoke to myself.
I affirmed. I had gone quite a while without seeing a single hyre until I realized it was probably the spooky aura that was warning them of my presence.
Maybe I should sleep with my armor on?
It’s not frumpy in fact it fits perfectly.
I pulled the hyre’s body off the blade and into my storage ring, I had more than enough room and dismantling it in the open alone was asking to get ambushed.
With this one, it made three.
Kick rabbits were weak after all and I was feeling especially safe in full plate armor so my hunt after them was aggressive.
Still, I wasn’t showing any particular mastery with a spear I was just purely stronger than a kick rabbit and with the movement magic, I was faster too.
Hunting them I felt some proficiency with the spear rising. No, that’s the wrong word, I felt some of the uncomfortableness of using a spear leave as I became used to throwing it around.
Without proper teaching I can’t become proficient, right now I am just someone who uses a spear.
I will say my aim has been making sure to lock in clean kills when I thrust in, that talent had transferred over from my skills with the bow.
I was happy with the results so far it is good enough for now. All I wanted to do was essence train, lustrate, and get familiar with this area.
In the corner in my eye, I saw the shaking of a small bush. These rabbits where big so they couldn’t slip by me so easily.
I chased after it, taking long steps as I quickly closed in.
Another hit. With it, I felt the spear and then the armor shudder telling me I was successful in running through another.
I was just slightly off the main pathway and already I was finding hyres left and right.
These rabbits where too weak so it was impossible to tell by how much, but the innate ability of the armor being able to strengthen with every kill was working.
Feeling confident I collected rabbit after rabbit. I had thought about going after quick bunnies, but they’re fast and much smaller that kick rabbits so it was hard to chase them.
However, since they moved so fast their path was predictable if I had magic or a bow it would be easy pickings. Kick rabbits had their massive legs to zigzag and change directions on a dime even if they where a little slow.
While I do not have much experience with a spear, I do have plenty of it hunting hyres. I had accumulated countless hours of experience within the Tole Forest Dungeon, augmented by the fact that I didn’t need to sleep. For months, my life was completely comprised of hunting, studying, and lustrating. At the time it was necessary for me to obtain every scrap of strength I could at the time and with it came the need to understand how to efficiently and safely hunt hyres.
My strength should be rated at F, but my experience was correct to be at C.
I clicked my tongue as one of the rabbits I was chasing while in thought had gotten away.
The urge to go deeper bit at me. I could see traces of rabbits and bunnies within plain view, but I had marked the area ahead as unsafe so I returned back. It was easy for the inexperienced to tunnel vision thinking that just a few dozen meters forward wouldn’t hurt. But that was a poor decision and it only takes one to lose my life.
“Set clear and well-defined goal then don’t stray from it.”
Is what Eugene told me once when I wanted to change our routine suddenly to hunt a needle wolf on a whim of boredom.
He was right. There was no need to take the risk, there were plenty of hyres back in the areas I had marked out.
My hunt continued well into the evening as the only mana I was using was the mana to increase my speed. A benefit of using a melee weapon, but it was mostly due to the fact that the hyres where so weak that I didn’t need a spear art to empower my attacks.
More importantly, was I was fearless with my suit of armor that I wouldn’t be punished being aggressive.
However, my mana was now half and my weak body is exhausted from all the strenuous movement.
Time to set up camp.
No treasure estates for me this time and I was now too far from the city to go back. Even with a map, I was a day’s away. But I had no intention of going back, I had procured so many supplies because I wanted to stay out as long as possible.
Looking over a clearing I found suitable I began to set up the area for the night.
“If I put the warding sigils here, it should give me enough time to either run or prepare to fight? Or should I put it further out? Hmmm…”
My thoughts continued.
“If I put it further out, I might get overloaded with too many false positives of hyres not looking to bother me…”
Taking a few steps back I nodded my head.
The line will be here. I looked down and made a mental note.
I looked over the spell within Headwind’s adventuring magic spellbook. There was no need to try and memorize these spells since they aren’t for combat nor designed to be easy to cast.
Piece by piece a complex wall of circles, leylines, and sigils slowly weaved itself into the air. Once the wall completed it disappeared then ‘connected’ with me giving me a sense of the area — If something passed through it I would know.
I repeated the process creating a circle around the area I had decided to use as a campsite. With each wall, I also had placed fire arrows on the ground, but since the area was large I hadn’t set them to trigger automatically. With the warding spell, I would be able to tell if I needed to or not.
Finished, I looked over my work. Three arrows per warding wall that encircled my entire campsite.
I was curious to see what would happen if they all blew simultaneously.
That would be a sight. But I didn’t since the commotion would draw curiosity from weak and powerful hyres alike.
“Am I being too cautious?”
“No. There is no such thing.”
I couldn’t help but smile saying that to myself, it was a bit hypocritical considering I bought a spear over a bow.
Tired I quickly whipped up a fast kick rabbit cream stew.
Of course, before I slept I channeled mana into my sore body and lustrated using Ulus’ Tea Time. To add to that I topped it off with using all the essence and mana orbs I had obtained.
I had also begun the second chapter of Omrick’s 6th Grade course on magic. It is because I’ve never stopped my pursuit of learning to be a mage that I am able to cast this adventuring magic. Usually, the was a task left to the mages of the party just like Berts had done on my first outing.
My phone vibrated on the tent floor beside my little cot where I lay wrapped up in a sleeping bag.
It was time to begin the grind, but today priority would be reaching the outer areas of where the pit of Lucids was.
I’m not gonna jump on a straight path directly to it, of course.
Instead, I plan to scope around the area and set up my campsite a couple miles away from it. Close enough to visit every day, but far enough that if someone saw them from above they would just think me as an adventurer that happens to be nearby.
Once I’m close I will set up a permanent campsite to leave up while I go hunt. Warding takes more time than I thought and mana I don’t want to spend needlessly.
The morning air was a bit astringent helping to wake me up as I sleepily summoned water to pour into a pot to boil for some clacka root tea to have with the leftovers of yesterday’s meal.
“The inn really got me hooked on this stuff.“
Kick rabbit, especially the thigh meat, was so flavorful. I really cannot get enough.
With a piece of toast, I finished breakfast and then began to pack up.
If I hurried I was sure I could make near the outlying area of the pit. Even better was once I felt strong enough I could even venture a little further northwest and hunt warp rabbits.
As if I was never here the area was cleaned up and with a swish of my hand, all the wards turned completely visible. The encirclement of the two dozen or so magic circles floating showed themselves. The moving leylines and sigils within glowed a soft white and like the glowing orange arrows they disintegrated disappearing into air.
With everything set, I set off encasing myself in my armor and summoning my spear into my hand. In a light run I head out.
I arrived in a familiar location.
“It’s the dry riverbed!” The stain of blood where I had slain the first hyre in this body was still there.
It was now a darker shade of blue going towards brown, but the shape was the same.
Gone, however, where the entrails.
Happy to know I’m closed such a great distance I increased the speed of my march feeling renewed and strengthened from all the essence and mana orbs from the day before.
Instead of following my old footsteps, I followed the outskirts of the path I had taken to make sure I would run into more hyres.
Slash, stab, thrust.
Each of them fell with a single hit and it would only become easier the stronger I got. I remembered what Eurval had said when I first began essence training, the beginning would show large jumps and then at some point my growth would slow down to a consistent one.
Still, I’m getting too close to the pit. I should change direction.
I felt I was too close to where I had awoken, so I turned to head pure north putting me above the area I had marked where I believed the pit to be. The area above would be just on the border of where the warp rabbits begin to be seen.
Because I didn’t spend as much time as I did yesterday hunting I had arrived quicker than I had planned. That, or it was because I had a map this time so I never had to slow down.
Running north I stopped after a couple of miles.
“Here looks good to camp.”
Being about a dozen miles of the area where I had awoken I looked for a clearing like I had done the night before.
“My campsite might be a little small…”
The firs here were packed together much more closely and larger too.
In the end, I gave up the idea of moving any further west or north as that would put me in more dangerous areas. I was fine entering the space where noxious hares lived I just didn’t want to sleep in the area.
I settled on a small location and began to set up the warding walls once again along with firey arrows embedded into the ground, but instead of three I doubled it to six per ward.
This place will be my somewhat permanent residence which is why I wanted to make it that much safer. I also had created three layers of wards the innermost being just enough for the tent plus a couple of steps around it.
I wiped a little sweat off my brow. To do this I had dipped below half my mana finishing at just a little under a tenth left.
“I want to say this is too much…”
Curious, I closed my eyes to get a greater sense of the wards connected to me. Instantly I could feel sense the area around the ward as I was standing there myself. Within this tiny spot, I would know exactly what came in or out.
Tired I ate and studied as my mana recovered before I could essence infuse and lustrate. I fell asleep the moment I laid in bed after having finished it all. The quality of the sheets or softness of the bed didn’t matter when I’m this tired.
The next morning was much like the last, no, even better as I felt another leap in strength again. Energized I left my campsite and head south to hunt some hyres and to check out the pit once more.
My steps were swift and quiet as I chased after a kick rabbit that thought it could escape me.
Its massive legs stomping on the ground as it hurried to get away. Maybe it was the way I carried myself now that they no longer tried to fight but instead ran the moment my eyes laid upon them.
They could probably sense the fear when I was feeling exposed.
The kick rabbit yelled as my thrust flew in and clipped its left hind leg. Injured it fell into a stumble stopping once it hit the base of a tree.
Blue blood poured out as I lay twitching in pain.
With a quick stab once I caught up I separated its head from its body causing it to go instantly limp.
“Maybe, I have talent with a spear after all!”
Is what I wish I could say had I not witnessed the sheer finesse and raw power Abigail could output.
But like all things I was sure she must have practiced hard to reach that point much like how I practiced hard to reach the strength I had with the bow.
I looked around before I crouched down and placed both parts into my storage ring.
With this chase, I had finally gotten close to where I had woken up. I had chased it for a reason if I didn’t want to have come here I would have let it go. However, I was headed here regardless so I figured I might as well.
However, I didn’t need to see to know I was close, the stench of rotting bodies exacerbated by the warm air of midday attacked my nose.
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