Chapter 48: Scattered Within the Vast World


Chapter 48: Scattered Within the Vast World

Three weeks passed watching Eystil and Frium deep into construction work within the wild unclaimed lands of the northern continent. The bulk of it seemed to be finished as the fog from the surrounding lands was no longer leaking into the estate treasure we’re in.

“Start!” Frium’s icy voice yelled standing about 50 yards from me on the other side of the dirt field.

Frium is a spear master, with much of the work done I had ended up dividing the two giving Eystil most of the task finishing up the estate treasure we’re in while Frium taught me how to wield a spear.

“Go through the motions I taught you yesterday.”

Understanding her meaning I repositioned my hands and changed my stance, after drilling it into myself it came close to naturally.

“Good, now stay neutral and flow into a thrust.”

A thrust she says…and from a neutral position meaning I shouldn’t be too aggressive with my forward footing?

Before I could form the image of what to do a large human-shaped dirt monster had already appeared barreling two fists towards me.

—GRUUUUU
The girt monster yelled.

With a swish of the long dark blade, I cut the mound of moving dirt in the stomach in front of me and pressed forward for a shallow thrust.

My feet creeped forward as my spear returned back. Readying for a piercing thrust waiting for the timing as the two fists came swinging once more.

Wait… Wait… Right.

There!

FUCK!

My mind went on alert, the golem had moved forward more than I had expected.

With the added unexpected force my spear to sunk in too deep.

“Nope, you did it wrong. Don’t lock your arms, your locked your arms couldn’t react fast enough to lessen the force to compensate!”

Under her control, the dirt monster stopped in its tracks its fist casting a shadow over my entire body inches from my head.

Although stopped my spear continued to sink into the soft body using my strength I pulled hard to stop it from being yanked from out of my hands.

“Do you want to try it again?” Frium asked as she instantly teleported over to avoid yelling.

“Of course, but do a quick review first.”

I let out a snort as I pulled the long blade to slowly slide out from the muddy flesh.

I was too aggressive…that much I knew. No way did I stay neutral.

“You locked your arms at the elbows, you know that, and locked your hips. The most important factor was you misjudged the appropriate force from the start which snowballed into a massive mistake. You also got too loose with the flow from the neutral stance.”

“Miss judged the right amount of force?”

Frium nodded her head.

I didn’t even notice.

“We’ve been practicing since morning Lucid maybe its time for a break? Mental fatigue must be setting in or at least change the golem settings from a brawler to something else?”

I had taken most of their sleep replacement medicine and have been diligently using it. Every waking moment I’ve been either studying magic or forcing Frium to teach me her spear techniques.

With that, I’ve been progressing well for the past few weeks but now I’m having trouble with the balance between enough power to pierce but holding back just enough to quickly move to the next movement. Before I was just learning one static movement at a time.

Finely controlling the power within an attack in the midst of using that same attack is something I never had to worry about with a ranged weapon.

I combed through my notes again taken from “Dragoon of the Azer Ocean” books that I got from Frium.

Frium was, no, is a pupil of Sioh an unknown figure who scouted the two as students of a secret school.

My eyes scanned over my notes on my phone trying to see if there was anything I missed.

Nothing, I had the correct idea in my mind it is in the execution that left me disappointed in myself. Even with Frium’s advice I was holding on to the hope that it was a simple error on my part and a quick fix would remedy it, but the truth was always harsher.

For this, it is all practice. But at least with the guiding words I know what to pay attention too.

I took a pause after I put my phone away as I waited for the dirt in front of me to recover from the damage. Like a boiling soup, the patch of dirt in front of me roiled and bubbled slowly rising to form into the rough shape of a humanoid golem again. It was a magic tool I asked the siblings to procure, an extremely high-grade training dummy basically.

My practice continued within the large training fields adjacent to a massive school building where the many lucids all are currently attending class.

They were being taught by a virtual intelligence system used throughout the world for adolescent curriculum. Unlike AIs these could not ‘think’. The downside of this was I, the siblings, had to buy specific courses to cover various topics whereas an AI could freely develop them on its own. The benefit was, of course, a more standardized learning framework for students to develop their own ideas from which is why it was still popular.

“Start!”

The golem moved again this time swinging a red-brown clay broadsword as wide as my waist towards me.

This mode seems a lot more telegraphed.

Regardless, I put forth my best effort to make each of my movements perfect keeping the thought of letting my elbows loose at the front.

—Clink

The path of the hardened dirt blade moved along my spear’s losing its momentum. Quickly as it was still surprised, I flicked my spear up sending the sword off to the side, not expecting this the golem staggered to regain the heavy sword’s control. Using this moment I began to inch forward preparing myself for a thrust once more.

—Woooo

The wind rushed aside as the thick sword came down in a heavy vertical slash, the golem wasn’t standing still either as it had already regained its composure and prepared something I couldn’t casually push away this time.

A two-handed vertical slash began its descent!

—BOOM!

With no option than to dodge I twisted my waist into a narrow form feeling the splatter of the rocks from the ground shoot up pelting my body and face.

“NOW!“ I sent a quick slash at the thigh of the golem causing it to keel while having to use its sword to keep balance instead of recovering it from the ground ,then, with a light two steps my spear tip gently pierced its chest.

The golem stopped in its tracks.

“Very good your first victory! And a decently clean one at that too. Biggest concern is you were standing too close to the blade during the dodge. In real combat the blade might be exuding an aura that could harm you. ” Frium spoke while nodding in approval.

Good?

My eye twitched hearing that word. This is my first victory after weeks of practice.

I’m not doing “good” at all.

I’m still learning the first volume! And the golem is set to an easy difficulty! If it wasn’t for the experience in the dungeon I would have to set it at a much slower setting!

I let out a snort and began to turn around to begin again.

“Lucid do you have a moment?” Eystil appeared from the sky gliding down gently atop of a massive orange lily.

The preparations must be finished.

“Did you finish meshing the estates?”

Eystil’s eyes met mine giving a shake in affirmation.

“Yes, we’ve completed connecting the estate treasures just now.”

The “we” was referring to his sister, a casual reminder that she did work too.

“All that is left is for you to bind them.”

He brought out a thick silver chain holding a green amulet filled with blue twinkling specs inside placing it in my hands.

“Why is it warm?” I could feel it radiating something akin to body heat.

Is it alive?

“My apologies, its been in my pocket to store it I would have to bound it.”

“Oh…”

Looking at it I began inspecting it. It was a beautiful amulet something I could imagine stored behind a thick glass case at a museum as a memento of past nobility, however, its unscratched metal and flawless shine told me it was brand new.

With a couple of prodding mana pulses into the, almost, porcelain-white shiny metalwork around the green gem I found nothing wrong. I fully bound it.

There is no point in being this cautious, he couldn’t do anything to harm me directly, but I couldn’t help myself. We are still kind of strangers after all and the position I have with them is more of a manager, or if I’m being frank an overseer.

As my senses began to meld with a binding force a new plane of vision began to appear in my mind.

A myriad of colors shot off in random directions before me. Each colorful aura was nothing like the simplicity of the wards I was familiar with.

“So many defensive formations from mind to elemental, it must have been incredibly expensive. How much was the ending total?” I looked around in awe.

Massive spinning disks of golden, burning red, icy blue, and bright green were spread across the estate orbiting giant clumps of complex spells like rings around a planet. They had been here the entire time but only now could I see them.

With the binding complete I could feel each one as if they where my arms telling me to move and use them to send powerful blasts of magic on command.

I put forth more mana into the amulet sending my vision high into the sky over the center of the five square mile area making up the township of combined estate treasures.

A peaceful town is what it looked like from above.

While the sidewalks and roads were empty and the shops filled with air instead of patrons it was in the making of a good place. Not one detail seemed to have been missed. Even the planted trees that decorated the sidewalks looked properly chosen as they swayed when the rail cars made their rounds around the tiny city.

They did a good job, the two.

A residential block, the main street, a large school campus, a park with a small lake, even a completely automated farmland with more than enough capacity to sustain the dietary needs for everyone here.

I had already seen the specification sheets from Eystil but seeing it through a bird’s eye view it was completely different. But the best feeling was the sense of satisfaction coming from my connection to the lucids. I could feel the change in their aruas. They no longer had to live in those tiny pods.

And maybe in the future they will be able to freely come and go from the estate treasure too.

After a bit of exploring, I retracted my sights back to my normal vision. Still holding the amulet I inspected it once more this time I could see there was a miniature recreation of the entire micro-city floating within the emerald gem.

It must only be visible to the owner.

If I looked closely I could make out tiny people walking around inside too.

“We paid a more than average due to the time constraints compared to what most pay for construction like this including the fact that it’s the cutting edge of what is possible to get. It’s made of what new powerful sects, clans, and sorcerer circles would buy these days. In terms of scales, it came out to just under 583 billion.”

I almost choked on my spit hearing the number, but I thought back to their wealth quickly calculating the purchases just about sucked them dry.

They must have made sure to not cheap out on anything since I already knew how much money they had.

I don’t feel bad, for one their lives are long and probably see these days as a blink of their total future lifespan, even less so if they ascend once more. They will have many opportunities to find fortune again. Secondly, it’s a punishment for the suffering they caused.

Altogether the entire combined estate contained the standard needs most customers of these ask for, which is why I doubt the purchase aroused any suspicion.

“Did you buy anything from the Adventurer’s Guild?”

“No, I was able to procure everything from other sources.”

Eystil had consulted me about how to stay discreet ending up teaching me things about Laurent, the Guild, and the Empire avoid acknowledging.

The world powers and the Adventurers Guild are famous for their strength but it is a fact that they only make up half of the total global power. The rest of it is hidden and scattered among thousands of secret circles who only take in those they feel are worthy.

Eystil did note, however unlike the massive nations and the guild the other half is not united in the least. The millions of hidden powers don’t bother with the world’s affairs as long as they aren’t affected.

As for where we are scattered…

We’re safely tucked inside the Onyx Forest.

After surveying the outlying areas with Eystil and Frium, mostly Frium using her teleportation, I ended up choosing a patch of land tightly packed with leadwood trees.

The thousand-meter trees made it a great place to disappear under and the silver-leafed metallic canopy offered coverage for large man-made clearings. The most important factor for choosing this location was the grey fog that seeps out from the trees. The fog is a natural divination repellent and direction confuser.

It was only with my help that the two were able to navigate this land.

Adding the powerful hyres that roamed here was another big deterrent. It wasn’t a pretty place but what it offered was the protection which is good enough for now.

After the initial issues with setting up was the problem of clearing a patch of land for the estate treasure of the trees and the hyres that lived in the five-mile area. I ended up sitting back watching them fight only acting when I noticed their face suddenly make a lost and bewildered expression.

I will say their fights made it obvious how disadvantaged Frium had been. Her true fighting strength was leagues higher with all of her mana.

Foaming white waves of frost from a sea of ice shot from her spear. While unable to defeat or injure some stronger hyres in this area the two bothered them enough to move from the spot we settled on using hit and run tactics through Frium’s teleportation.

Eystil was much like Frium, creating a monsoon of molten flowers. That unfortunate day we met had used most of his mana charging a talisman to help rush the process like Frium had me and the lucids do to transport us.

I think if both were at their best that day they could have escaped, but that reality isn’t here so there isn’t much point in thinking about it. I’m sure the two feel the same.

What is here is the Onyx forest, that isn’t its real name it’s just what I’ve named it. It is unclaimed land after all, it’s at the far west end of the northern continent. So west in fact that a couple thousand miles away are the sub-zero waters of the Aer ocean that sends nightly chilling winds that instantly freeze anything caught unprepared. So cold, it freezes the leadwood fog creating the perfect habitat for horrific spectral hyres to surface from the astral plane.

But all that doesn’t matter anymore now within the estate treasure. Inside this little micro-city it is the hot late evening of summer. The clear blue sky is perfectly realistic with moving clouds and soft breezes that arrive from a false horizon. The inside of the estate treasure appears like an island surrounded by water with sandy shores on all sides.

If I wanted I could now change the weather or even make the protective barrier transparent revealing the dozens of spectral claws and maws trying to break through at the moment.

“It’s perfect, everything is working well.” From the graphs that were sent to my phone and contacts, all the stats looked green.

Eystil and Frium looked relieved, this was a test of their capabilities.

I put the amulet away satisfied with the results.

“Now that you both are here I can ask you, how do you think the empire is reacting today since my essence isn’t arriving?”

It was one of the worries in my mind. The start of a new month had arrived and we’ve been busy with this task.

What will the empire’s reaction be and to what extent will they look for the culprit? I would only truly know in the next few days.

Eystil paused in thought for a moment then spoke.

“Frium didn’t arrive to brief the small squadron assigned and I didn’t answer Hodan’s conference call for our usual monthly projection review. They either believed us to have gone rogue or been plotted against. My thoughts are on the former.”

The former? That went against my expectations.

“Going rogue for gains like the essence I made is not far off what divination experts they have on-call might divine, robbery like this isn’t uncommon for other projects like this. The empire might have already accounted for the loss. ”

Great diviners to find obscure truths seem to be a rare breed.

“You two weren’t under oath to the Empire, is that normal too?”

It reminded me that the Adventurer Guild didn’t require an oath either.

“No one as smart as me would ever willingly go under oath even if it is our motherland.”

Willingly you say…

Then why where you two so willing to go under me? Obviously, they were pressured but I still felt they had no reservation.

I kept my face light.

“So they will think you’ve betrayed them, will your betrayal affect security at the other facilities too?”

“Betrayal? We didn’t betr—” Frium was about to add in but Eystil interrupted.

“They won’t suspect someone just walked in like you did but they will have tighter leashes on those who can enter the wards and when. We could enter anytime and leave anytime for research purposes but this policy will be done away with first is my guess. It will result in slower progress due to the added obstacles.”

Fuck, but also good…

I clicked my tongue.

The two had explained there are 23 facilities like mine. Each one holding one of my classmates’ body. While I did have an anxious face it wasn’t as deep as I made it seem.

Although they could not directly betray or harm me these two are years older and much more experienced with the manners of this world. I didn’t want them to be in on the know of when I would try for a heist so I’ll at least try and appear disheartened in searching for them.

In reality, I see it as a good and bad thing. There will be less of a chance I run into people again and two it will be more unexpected for someone to do it once more.

I did need a timeline, however.

“You said research would slow down? How long until all the essence from the people like me is taken?”

If the exaction is slower its another plus.

“Each leg of the project was independent and each uses different methods. Mine of course are, were, the best and the most efficient.”

Eystil looked to the side closing his eyes seemingly in thought.

“I can say six years…in the best case and three in the worst is the time you have to find the facilities. The first year being the slowest then quickly speeding up.”

What a perfect answer.

I had expected the two to slip up here and there when they speak in regards to where their loyalties stand. I would have expected mistakes for things like his last statement. Switching up the best and worst cases in regards not to me but the empire.

But not once have they messed up.

Seeing as how the oath shows no reaction they’re not lying or doing something directly malicious. However, oaths have their limits. Oaths need to be flexible for the sake of usability otherwise something small could trigger the consequences.

But small seemingly inconsequential things can add up.

Even if their attitude is pleasant, when I’m not speaking rashly about the Empire or Niefule, I always need to remind myself that there should be a distance. I very much doubt I have charmed them to switch sides in support of me.

Eystil continued to speak.

“It’s a slow process but the research was prepared for decades, now after the summoning its starting to speed up with a live subject. It’s why I was shocked when suddenly I was seeing projections of months instead of years and expended so much to rush and see what had happened to study.”

“It happens to be the truth was much different from what I could have expected.”

He was referring to my arrival, the original owner of the body affecting the extraction rates.

“So I have six years…”

Is what I said but I felt a push that told me three or less.

“Would it be not safer to say three or less?” Eystil tilted his head.

I held a smile. Is he scavenging for crumbs?

I wondered if he prepared scenarios of this conversation on his way here. 

“I want to rescue them as soon as I can and return them their bodies as fast as I can. But I can’t be hasty or too slow I’ll have to think about this.”

The thought of regaining their bodies led to another thought, where are the souls I need to return their bodies to?

I could only draw in a long breath in place of an answer. There where other questions that needed answering first. The largest was figuring out how to find the 23 locations that were also hidden by Lisuliam.

What makes it worse is I have no way to find the locations.

I only had found mine through Laurent’s murder of me and the special way Eystil was extracting essence. Personally inspecting every inch of land on this planet because the wards don’t affect me isn’t feasible. And whose to say there aren’t stronger wards that even I might not be able to brute force.

I would need a divination expert at least as strong as Lisuliam to divine the locations.

But I don’t know any and I don’t know if one exists at the moment, but even if they did and I knew where to find them I have nothing I could give them worth offending the Niefule Empire or worth more than the essence itself.

However… a deep frown began to surface.

I might not need someone but something.

Something a person on Lisuliam’s level created, but the way he is treated makes me think he might maybe stand above him.

I gave Eystil a pat on the back.

“Good work on completing the estate.” I sent a compliment signaling an end to our conversation and turned back to the sparring golem.

“Start from the top?” I looked at Frium.

She nodded her head, she seemed to enjoy teaching me her spear art. Whether it was a fake attitude or not it was flawless.

“Begin!”

My spear training continued as Eystil flew away. My guess dejected I didn’t spill anything about my future plans. I have no real proof that they’re planning anything and I do feel a little guilty treating them like they are.

But only a little.

***

The sound of water crashing onto the shower floor rang out as the soapy dark water took with it the dirt and grime that had caked on me. Frium said using armor when first starting would make for bad habits.

It was close to midnight now, the artificial daylight had faded and now a low moon was gently illuminating the inside of the estate treasure. I was back inside my apartment at the center.

I nodded after wiping the foggy mirror as I left the shower. It was nice to see my own reflection again.

While it wasn’t 100% me it was more than enough in my opinion. I can’t say that the other appearance didn’t grow on me so a mix feels right.

I changed into the robes I bought in Civieto then made my way into my room to my desk.

“The estate treasure is done. Everything is working right and nothing seems to be failing.”

While Eystil’s words ended up true I made sure to double-check everything against the specifications described in the user manuals thoroughly. In the end the care for the lucids is a responsibility I took on and I wasn’t going to half-ass it.

With the initial goal of creating a safe place for the lucids completed, I could start thinking about my classmates with a clearer head. I didn’t want to abruptly leave after my conversation with Eystil but now I had time to gather more of my thoughts.

I tapped on my phone placing it face-up on the desk to bring out the keyboard. I needed to start making my way back to that place for the thing that I need.

“Lets start with seeing how the academy is fairing.”

[Search: Laurent Academy News]

Instantly, thousands of headlines filled the projected screen in front of me with pages and pages of bold titles.

“It was that bad?”

I knew it was a national emergency but there are other kinds of emergencies all over the allegiance and non get this type of coverage.

I began scanning over just the headlines already I could tell the damage was massive based off the death toll estimates to the estimates of economic damage in the titles.

“Wait…” I scrolled back up.

[Breaking: Laurent Academy Has Declared The NF 310 Academy Year A Wash]

A full-on wash? Like it never happened?

Enticed I clicked on the article and began reading.

“So too many had left missing too much instruction before the entrance appeared and even more after the dungeon appeared.”

A wash makes sense if that’s the case.

“But a wash is the last resort… are they afraid of appearing even weaker than they are now and don’t want others seeing a downturn in their growth?”

With just my run-in with Crimson Claw I know Laurent is still called an upstart by those much older even if he is just as strong. Everything related to him and his city is under much more intense scrutiny.

If their present looks bleak many will assume their future does too and no doubt others will try and take advantage.

It has to be in the best interest for not only the cadets but also the prestige of quality the academy built itself off. If cadets from the academy start failing ascensions left and right or even worse have declensions it will not bode well for its future prospects.

I couldn’t help but feel a little pleasure from knowing the stress he must be under. However, my goal isn’t to smugly laugh at Laurent its to figure out a way to get that thing…

“I’m going to have to go back aren’t I?”

Unfortunate as it is that many cadets, and future cadets who were a year shy of entering, died thinking the city was safe I think I can use this situation. While the academy looks to fill its classrooms with the brightest stars again maybe I can slip in. They don’t have the luxury of being as picky this time.

I should have a good chance of getting into the academy just based on my physical strength alone…

But I shouldn’t reveal that this early.

“Oh?:

A recent interview with an executive of the Academy and the city appeared its views were growing rapidly. Curious, to what it was about I hovered over and pressed play.

“Laurent Academy will thrive through these trying times.” The soundbite started in the middle of a press conference.

“We are confident our staff will allow our cadets to develop better than ever. We’ve revamped multiple programs, hired more personnel, and have brought in experts to teach more practical adventuring skills.” The executive spoke in a monotone looking rather unhappy.

The audience looked unconvinced.

“Is the rumor that Laurent will be awarding the Akashic Orb in the national MMGs to a cadet that takes first? Many are calling the move reckless and poorly thought out as this academy has never won first. Laurent could end up giving such a treasure to a competing city while facing these trying times.”

Hearing the question the executive’s face turned sour.

Laurent Academy scored high if I remember correctly they were somewhere in top ten in combat, but it had yet to clinch a single rank 1 in all its years. Instead their rank was boosted by their results in other areas. Which was still amazing for an academy under a thousand even ten thousand years old.

I turned my head to the projected video off to the side as the executive paused for a moment.

“The rumors are true. An official statement with all the details by the committee will be released in the press release. The other academies have agreed to our amendments allowing us to switch our wager of a single pure void blade with the Akashic Orb for next year’s MMG. The others have increased the value of their wagers accordingly.”

The press room erupted as the dozens of reporters began shouting questions over each other.

“What! Laurent Academy is officially announcing their participation! Didn’t the Scale Allegiance MMG committee offer you a deal to keep your ranking for a full year to recuperate talent?” A reporter yelled at the executive at the top of his lungs.

“Is it true Laurent was injured recently?!? There are reports that saw him return gravely hurt!”

Many more quickly began to pile on their questions.

“Is Laurent Academy closing down after this final wave of cadets!?”

“Will Reverse Scale city be absorbing Laurent due to Laurent’s mismanagement?!”

“I will be answering no more questions! An official statement will contain more information. Thank you for your time today.” The executive threw on a silver glittering scarf that transformed into a suit of armor and walked away.

He’s betting so much on the national competition?

I was left puzzled much like the comments quickly appearing and the faces of the reporters.

Why so bold, even bolder than I would have thought he would push.

[blazingfiremage298: Is Laurent attempting to make sure no one sees Laurent City as weak? so dumb I thought everyone from LC said he was the future and super smart?????

XxBroadswordsarebestswordsxX: LC is doomed sell your house/condo or whatever now while its still worth something lol]

High-risk high reward? Was my first thought.

That can’t be his only option right?

It’s easy to guess many of his top officials aren’t happy just through this video. I closed my eyes trying to figure out the thought process.

What if he thinks if it is anything short of this the lingering thoughts of his decline will stay no matter how high his future success is.

Perception is king if he wants to attract more manufacturers and industries into his, relatively new, city. And IF he succeeds and wins against other academies across the Scale Allegiance then he will set a legacy in stone. I can see the headlines “Laurent Triumphs After Facing Devastating Disaster” or something like that.

But if they lose places in rankings… and lose the orb to another city-state the blow will be severe maybe even a city crushing decline as people and industries pack up.

Food and water are cheap and abundant in this world, growing a plant to maturity with a spell is child’s play, hell the farmland here is rated with a peak output for 50,000 without anyone lifting a finger. Safe areas for themselves and their loved ones are where people of this world spend most of their money on the cost the estate treasure for the lucids is proof enough.

He has been touted as a shooting star for a reason why is he so confident he can win this coming competition? He wouldn’t be doing something like this if he knew the odds were not with him.

What reason does he have that gives him so much faith in his cadets suddenly winning?

I closed my eyes as I thought back to my memories back at Laurent City.

“The ether shards,” I spoke out in a low voice.

“The world doesn’t know just how large they were! That’s it!”

I opened up a search engine.

[Search: Laurent academy cadets obtain ether shards.]

Only a few articles popped up most just reporting that their divination experts divined that the dungeon must have expended most of its ether shards during its appearance with only enough to make a weak keeper that a couple of un-ascended academy students could beat.

“And that’s it?”

“Hahahahaha!”

A cackle filled the room, I was one of the few that now knew this wasn’t an over-reactive bet by Laurent.

I know for a fact that Eugene, Abigail, Runter, and Mei obtained massive ether shards and are guaranteed to have bound them by now which must have boosted their talents tremendously.

If the others knew the scope of the shards they would be glad to lose a little prestige keeping their wagers low but keeping Laurent Academy down by not handing over expensive resources.

The tournament champion only gets to pick one of the wagers and the rest goes to the Academy to promote growth fostering competition within the Allegiance.

In his mind, this must be a bargain, no doubt the other academies will match their wagers.

If he gets those Laurent Academy will finally have the resources of the oldest academies in existence probably rivaling the Scale Churches’ own academies like Bright Scale and Dusk Ending.

No wonder Niefule noted for her nation to make ties with him, and as early supporters of him so his gratitude would be high.

Too bad he won’t have the orb by then.

I couldn’t help but giggle.

“I need that orb,” I repeated the words again, but this time I felt a confidence in obtaining it, a chance.

And I am not going to wait for him to hand it to me at the national MMGs, I’ll take through Laurent Academy’s own games.

“First I need to get back into the Academy, but not as Lucid.”

Laurent killed two of us trying to get my ether shard so he wouldn’t want word getting out especially now when he’s under everyone’s eye. Although they don’t care for me they would gladly use me as ammunition against Laurent.

I’ve been meaning to go back to the Scale Allegiance in search for Alra. Its intelligence was above the average of that of a typical hyre when I summoned it. I doubt with its defenses it had much trouble. With all that’s popped up suddenly only now do, I have the time.

I need to find Alra as soon as possible but will I even be recognizable?

The other part will be entering Laurent Academy while hiding my real strength until their own magic and martial games next year.

I’m strong enough to contest against the Empire’s strongest but I’m not stupid enough to think I can just brute force my way into the fortress city and rob a treasure then expect to leave safely. I don’t even know where the orb is stored within the city.

Taking it in surprise with a quick escape will be my best bet if I can’t get my answers with only one use.

Unlike the tiny patches that the empire has scattered relying on stealth to hold the treasures of extreme concentrations of the essence. Laurent City is built to a different standard.

“I need to put more effort into mastering Azer…” If I can learn to dial my strength perfectly I’ll be safe.

My fingers tapped on my desk as I filled out an application for Laurent Academy. Not coming from a preparatory school the process was a little different, as I had no proof have having been taught the basics I would have to verify it in another way.

—Taptaptap

My fingers began to dance remembering writing my university applications on Earth.

“…My talents in magic attainment are exemplified with my rank C as an adventurer at the young age of 16…

…through the trials I had, being unable to live within the safety of a main city, as an orphan I’ve obtained an abundance of expertise in the use of wards, elemental magic, and body strengthening magic. With those skills I was able to reach a C rating…”

Of course, I would have to embellish the truth a little, but it is true that when I was young I never got to live within a city in this world.

After adding a couple of more plausible details I submitted the application.

[Thank you for your interest in attending Laurent Academy, you have been approved to participate in the talent tournaments. Based on your results there we will contact you if you’ve been accepted. Best of Luck Lumi!]

An instant reply after submitting. The documentation was verified by the guild so they knew my rank and age wasn’t a lie and my name was already changed to match the application.

While changing the age and rank manually is impossible easy name changes make an obvious loophole, but it’s left this way on purpose.

I was sure Laurent Academy didn’t truly care about the details. They just saw my age and rank then approved it to move forward only really caring that I made the effort.

After a few minutes, another email appeared containing the time and date of my first match in the tournament. Not being backed by a preparatory school I would have to provide my own transportation and boarding during the matches.

“Obsense city is where my first matches are…”

The initial matches will be in the small feeder towns close to Laurent with the finals inside the academy. The second match week is Altrent which is close by too.

Should I visit the orphanage? Would it be right? I don’t even have any recollection of the ones that took care of me. They could have been abusing me too and I wouldn’t even remember.

I put the thought away, it’s a minor thing compared to the actual matches.

The school year starts in eight months and my two months of matches are in six…

“I need to cram in as much as I can within this half-year.”

Not just the Azer spear-art but magic too. If I can create my own unique sigils then I think I will be at a safe spot, I probably won’t be placed in the advanced classes again though.

After eating a quick meal I downed a sleep replacement pill, I would be back in the same field with Frium again in under an hour.

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