Chapter 52: Marking A Pair


Chapter 52: Marking A Pair

Why does the translation magic translate this place to a café if there is no coffee? Is it something in my mind that a small semi-casual shop that serves hot beverages in ceramic cups means it is a café?

Tea room would be more appropriate, but I rarely ever used that word on Earth…I wonder what Eurval would have chosen.

Thinking idle thoughts I took a breather sitting down in the café.

A breather is all I could take, as I had no money to order anything anyways.

Doing my best to blend in I wore clothing that matched what the average adventurer from this area wore during colder months. A simple dark davy hooded jacket on top of a flannel shirt with pants made of a special cotton-like fiber that was waterproof and breathable. Nothing was enchanted or made from any uncommon materials to provide some kind of defense.

For some much-needed cash, I began looking through mtrade and various search engines to look up the cost to sell the ball of the tree root.

[Search: Seven Eyed Viridian Boar Unprocessed Tree Root]
[Results: 
**FRESH** Unprocessed 7 Eyed Viridian Boar Enchanted Tree Root Price: 14,000 per 20kg]
**NEW STOCK** Unprocessed Seven Eyed Enchanted Viridian Boar Tree Root **HIGH QUALITY** 14,000 per 20kg
…]

At least I have something decent to sell. Seeing the prices I began to praise the income that was available to me should I choose to go farm some more tree roots.

It was too bad the cost to refine it into the high-grade Frium mentioned was extraordinary. I doubt it would be worth the time for me to learn or buy the equipment. The techniques looked very specialized. However, knowing Eystil he could probably do it, but he wasn’t here and looking at the equipment now I think he may have sold it off.

Well, it’s not like I could have known.

I could try to refine it myself with minimal equipment into standard earth essence, doing that didn’t look too hard to do glancing over, but it would be a waste of this particular item.

Regular earth essence could be obtained through cheaper ways namely hyres.

The price for 20kg of regular earth essence was around 5,000 sc which is why the market valued the root at double because it could be refined into something more expensive. Unless someone worked in larger volumes or had the money to buy the necessary things it wasn’t worth the investment.

Making up my mind I chose a well-rated wholesaler and entered the transaction to sell three roots.

[Thank you for selling your Seven Eyed Viridian Boar Tree Roots to Max Essence Refinery. A courier will come and inspect the item, once inspected, weighed, and deemed satisfactory the funds will be adjusted and mtrade will release them once you accept the adjusted amount.]

While it wasn’t virtually instant like the trades done in Laurent a young woman in simple cold attire came by riding on a wispy four-legged familiar that was akin to a horse-bear hybrid that I would have believed to be pumped on steroids from a young age if not for its gentle looking eyes and careful demeanor when it came to a stop.

It only took 15 minutes for her to come.

After I waved her down I handed over three balls of root watching her practiced hands as she put on white gloves to begin carefully inspecting the three balls.

“29.13, 33.41, and 33.67 kilograms. Uniform root patterns, extremely fresh, and larger than average weights. A great find Mr. Nous.” She looked up towards me with shiny clear violet eyes.

“Are you an apprenticed member of High Heavens Dream? They told me they would have their new member do these errands the last time I met with their leader.”

High Heavens Dream? Who’s that?

I stopped for a moment and wondered what to say. I can’t say I can get them myself since it would draw too much attention even if I played it off as just having a young appearance like an apothecary girl-woman I know. People would want to know more about the new face than can obtain these solo.

“Apprenticed?” I lightly scoffed at her copying the tinge of arrogance the red-haired young man had shown me.

“My party and I hunted these ourselves. I’m a young genius, a C-ranked adventurer.”

It was a little embarrassing but nothing compared to walking into a town completely nude wearing nothing but raw pelts.

Her eyes opened a little in surprise, but like I wanted I saw no shock. A perfect middle ground. It was exactly the response I had wanted.

“I hope I didn’t offend you.” She said calmly.

“It is just you look extremely young.”

She then corrected her assessment.

“Ah, the tournaments are starting it does attract young new talents. But a fully-fledged C-rank is quite amazing. If you don’t mind me asking just how young might you be?” She even fanned the flames of my fake ego.

Grinning with pride I replied.

“Heh, I turned 17 this year.”

After a few more polite exchanges I answered ‘’truthfully’’ to what my guild card said.

“I hope you or your party will contact me again if you obtain more, we offer better rates for long-time clients.” She said then transmitted her contact information to me.

The price ended up higher than I thought. She said there were grades among the roots the fresher and heavier ones usually meant better extraction rates so they increased their offer.

For a moment I thought it would have been better not to tell me, but then realized in the long term it was better to have a network of adventurers who were willing to bring them the higher quality tree roots. The demand was high for these roots so the margins for wholesalers were slim because it wouldn’t take long for me to sell it on the market for its market value.

But once again… I didn’t have the time. This time, however, the difference wasn’t something as big as a third but only 7.5% below its market value down from 10% due to its high quality.

[Alert Change in Balance: 62,295.98 sc has been deposited into your account.] A message popped up through my contacts.

It felt like a large sum but normally this would be split into at least six parts, five adventurers and the rest to the shared party funds. Even if it wasn’t Laurent no matter the place rent wasn’t cheap and buying was almost always out of the question.

With this, I can rest semi-easy about money. Though renting a room will be expensive especially for the short-term.

With some money now I stood up and walked towards the counter to order something to drink.

“Hi! What can I get you?” The waiter sent me a pleasant smile.

“Do you serve clacka root tea here?”

He gave me a bewildered expression.

“No…I apologize but we don’t offer that.”

I had figured as much. It would be rather rude if I suddenly brought out my own roasted roots and brewed some in here so I decided on regular tea.

“Then I’ll have your darkest tea with cream on the side.”

I had thought Obsense City would have had it and this neighborhood didn’t look particularly expensive.

After manually accepting the transaction on my phone I walked back to the table I had been sitting at. Seeing as it was still mid-work day there weren’t many people.

The wait wasn’t long and a waitress brought a tray with a teapot, a tiny cream pitcher, a teacup, and two scones.

All of this for only 7sc! The food really is cheap.

But finding a place to sleep isn’t…

[Search: Cheapest Inns in Obsense City]
[I’m Arriving: 99.99 sc per hour + Cleaning charges
Quaint Rest: 174.99 sc + Service Charges per night
Gales: 289.99 sc per night
Rest E-Z: 299 sc per night
…]

Maybe camping outside wouldn’t be too bad. It’s not like I’m the helpless person I was when I arrived.

I munched on the scones as I browsed taking sips of tea for every scroll and click searching where the inns, hotels, and hostels were located in the city.

Some looked good but too expensive, some were too shabby for the price, and some were across from blinding pink glowing signs of the red light district.

Fourteen-thousand scales just for one month!

And these are on the cheap end too… I made a sour face looking at the prices.

There is no point in being wasteful I’ll save the money and camp.

Besides, with my status as a Talent Tournament participant, I can walk in and out with no problems so long as I use the designated gate.

Plus this way I can run around and see if I can find any traces of Alra while I compete quests. If I find nothing conclusive I’ll fund a quest to find any traces of it.

Will you be willing to accept me again, Alra?

Finally having to face the problems I had to push back made me a little anxious.

I don’t expect it to, but I at least want to make sure it was safe. Truthfully I didn’t spend much time with Alra in the end but the connection I had shared was similar to what I have with the lucids. The calling to protect and the sense of wholeness that comes from knowing they’re taken care of. Unfortunately, the connection was cut off when I died and the only thing I have now was basically an “unable to connect” sign but as a feeling of longing instead.

Feeling my mood quickly dampen I turned to see what the value of the clear water I scooped over the ocean.

Nothing?

I was a bit surprised. Zero relevant results using multiple different keyword combinations.

It’s either something either extraordinary special or extraordinary useless but my bet is on the former. Eystil probably knows the specifics if he had his sister’s help in obtaining it.

After finishing the last of the tea and bottling up my thoughts on Alra and Eurval once more I stood up and head to the guild building. I can’t waste my time doing nothing for the next week so a quest would be good to not only temper my skills with real experience but gauge the competitors.

***

“Tch, another new face.” A few steps into the main Adventurer’s Guild building in Obsense City and I had already received a warm welcome.

This building was a stark difference to the rustic guild building in Civieto. Gone was the historic feeling. This place felt more like a large government building except with too many receptionists and instead of suits it was people in various armor, mage’s robes, and carrying weapons.

So crowded…

The line to speak to a guild staff wrapped around itself and the staff was running around behind the desks performing various tasks. Worse was the mess of people near the large holographic bulletin boards where the local-only quests are available. They all stood shoulder to shoulder trying to swipe their hands or phones through quests that appeared.

Weather due to jealousy for their lack of talent and older age or desperation from their livelihood threatened they were particularly aggressive to new faces coming in and accepting the local quests.

I should be wary if I encounter locals when I’m out completing quests. I don’t think they would kill me directly since they know our strengths are similar but I was sure they might try something. 

With the mental note, I walked towards the crowd near the bulletin boards. There were dozens of boards each organized by rank. Floating in front of each board where projected pieces of paper floating in place with quest details on them. The F, C, and D had the most listings and boards. Then came C with just 2 boards and the rest above C had just one sparsely populated.

At B and above it was better to not make it a local quest if they really want it done in a reasonable time.

I pushed my way through to the front staring as request papers appeared and quickly were accepted with a swipe of a hand. After a bit of time, I found one that looked like the perfect choice.

[Quest Location: Obsense City Forest Area D-37
Rank: D
Issuer: Nightshade Herbalists Group
Reward: 2,000 sc, completion requires at least one flower and one poison sac, an extra 50 sc will be added for each pair of flower and poison sac.
Guild Reward: 1 GP for completion. No variable GP reward offered.
Quest Details: Forage the “Another Day Flower” along the shore of the Daynight Pond at the peak of midnight and the poison sacs from Benguine Beetles.
Notes: The pond is in area D-37 the average hyre encountered is between F and D between 100-2500 in all combat data stats. The area is home to 3 class 1 threat D hyres. Upon acceptance, more detailed data will be provided. ]

Judging by its content the quest was at the bottom of rank D which was why the reward was small at 2,000 sc plus the value of the materials.

Not wanting it to be taken I reached out with my phone in my hand to pass it through the virtual paper as a sign of acceptance and proof that I am physically here.

—Clink

The white paper fluttered but didn’t dissipate instead glowed orange with a message asking me to try again. My phone and someone else’s phone passed through the bulletin at the same time.

I turned to my right.

“It’s you.” In a dismissive tone a familiar redhead spoke to me.

I wasn’t too surprised all around me were faces I had seen on the train and at the colosseum earlier. I had seen multiple talent tournament participants form parties to do quests together as the locals would definitely not help them. The group of four with the assassin was here too.

What I was surprised about was that this guy Agri-something wanted this quest also.

“Don’t overestimate yourself. This isn’t something like you can do alone. Move.”

Although unbearably arrogant, I had to reassess my opinion of him. This quest was a good fit for new faces to get accustomed to the area. Others, in my guess, high tension after officially registering had taken rather difficult quests that would be troublesome to complete before a week with good assurance. Taken by the high reward offered to locals only.

This was another reason why the locals disliked us as it meant they could only wait to accept those quests after these new faces forfeit them when the new faces realize their inadequacies and take the failure to complete on their record.

The possibility of his sister telling him to get it was also there. I was interested in these two they seemed capable.

“Party with me,” I said bluntly ignoring his attitude.

I saw it as another chance to make some connections with others my age as I no longer had the stigma of robot or last.

“What?” He was taken aback and with his guard down I took the opportunity to swipe my phone again.

“Quest accepted by Lumi Nous.” The virtual paper shone green this time with a message then disappeared.

“Y-you! You tricked me!” He stared at the board then at me then back at the board shocked and furious.

Did he take me as being fully sincere? Is he an idiot? I mean I am sincere but I could have been completely lying.

“I apologized for my brother’s brashness this morning, could it be your feelings are still hurt and need to play petty games?”

An red eyed young woman shot me a piercing glare. It was his older sister looking unhappy her sibling was being messed with.

“No, not at all. I meant what I said to him. I feel bad for not introducing myself at the gate, my mind was too focused on registering. To make up for my rudeness I am asking if you two wanted to party to complete this quest. With the three of us, it shouldn’t take no more than 3 days without much difficulty.”

The two glanced at each other then back to me. Giving them a much closer look than this morning I realized how similar they looked.

Are they fraternal twins?

Fiery red hair, light olive skin, and large almond-shaped eyes. The brother was a hair shorter than me and had a thinner build so I had mistaken him for being taller. The sister was much the same if not for her softer feminine charms most surprisingly their height looked identical.

“Ah, then please excuse my reaction just now. Since we’ve arrived our treatment has been less than pleasant.”

“Don’t worry about it, I won’t take it to heart.”

Seeing I wasn’t offended her expressions changed back to the one I had seen this morning.

“Shall we go talk somewhere less crowded?”

I nodded my head and moved away from the boards to the second floor where there was various small shops and most importantly private meeting rooms.

I closed the door of the small room.

“What do you think?”

“We don’t mind. But can you answer why you want to form a party with us?”

“I’ll be frank, I find you two interesting other than that there is no particular reason.”

The young red-haired woman gave a short laugh lightly covering her mouth.

“That’s all? We accept joining your party. You’re quite interesting yourself mister I’m sorry what was your name?”

“I am Lumi Nous, I am one of Azer’s Dragoons. You call me Lumi or Nous which ever one is easier for you” I introduced myself in the way Frium had taught me.

The young woman introduced herself after.

“I am Aegis Gidder brightened of the Nova Sword.” As she said this I saw her adventurer information pop up after she accepted the invitation.

Like I had thought she was rank D, that was all I could see. She had changed her privacy settings and removed the sharing of her combat data. Most do so it wasn’t anything noteworthy. Only because I was a cadet before did I have access to such a large database of combat data on others, I no longer had that access unless I wanted to expose Lucid as being alive.

“And I am Aegris Gidder also a brightened of the Nova Sword.” He too was rank D and hid his combat data.

I shook Aegris’ hand he seemed more normal for once gone was the haughty grin.

“Can I ask as to why are you hiding your rank? Could it be you are still at F?” Aegis had a questioning look.

“Is this why you wanted to party…” Aegris looked at me his face returning to arrogant and a bit annoyed.

“Since we have already agreed on doing this quest together I won’t go back on my word.”

Surprisingly an earnest man.

But annoyed? I wonder if he was expecting to exchange pointers and tips. If I was ranked lower then he probably thought he would be mostly teaching and not gaining anything new along with doing most of the work for the quest. Knowledge is just as expensive as rent here!

“No, don’t say that Aegris. Lumi is an interesting man remember? He must have his reasons.” Aegis glanced over probably because I wasn’t showing any hint of embarrassment.

The way her eyes looked over me analyzing my response made me want to say she reminded me of an Abigail that grew up poor but stopped myself.

“Once we enter the academy I’ll tell you what it is.” I kept a plain face.

“Your tone speaks as if it is written in stone.”

“Did you come all the way here to fail?”

“I… truly interesting.” Aegis’ eyes turned into crescents as she continued to scan me.

I’ve seen the quality of cadets and now through a spearman’s eyes, although amateur, I was somewhat certain they were qualified to join. Is it a warrior’s intuition?

But the only way I could confirm this was through fighting them or watching them fight. I can confirm if this gut feeling is worth anything and could use it in the future and confirm if they really are special.

However, it could just be me feeling lonely and wanting someone who wasn’t enslaved to me to talk to.

“We can talk more on the way out of the city, when can you two depart?”

“It’s not close to evening yet, we can leave right now.”

Aegris was right there was plenty of sunlight left we could get a head start. Does this mean they had already prepared before they arrived to leave the moment they had a quest? My opinion of the two rose again.

“Then follow me.”

“Follow you?” Aegris voiced his disagreement.

“What? Do you think you can lead?” I replied with indifference.

“We don’t know your strengths and weaknesses it is better if my sister and I lead since we’re more familiar with each other. This is usually the case with parties until new members get familiar.”

A good answer. While it was “my” party I was basically in theirs. His derisive tone really contrasts with his actions and words. First impressions are not his strong points.

“Ah, that’s true. I’ll follow you two for now then.”

Aegis threw another one of her sneaky glances as she and her brother walked past me. I met her eyes and just smiled.

Following them I watched their backs they were straight and their shoulders a bit stiff, they were not on edge but they were conscious of my position behind them.

Who wouldn’t be of a stranger they just met?

I don’t think they found me suspicious, however. Everything I had done was plausible for a fellow participant looking for a party although a bit pushy.

With a brisk pace, we hopped on a train that head back to the gate we had come in from.

***

“Where are you two from?” Sitting across facing me on the train were the siblings.

I can’t say I wasn’t a little happy finally having someone to fill out some of the seats for once.

“We’re from a small village near the Dire sister city,” Aegis spoke.

“A village? Does everyone in your village practice the Nova Sword style?” I asked curiously.

“No, we’re not a circle or tiny sect or anything. It’s just a small village that we lived most of all our life until we were given a chance to obtain an inheritance left by a Nova who had made a small labyrinth years ago. We ran across the hidden entrance under a tree when we were out foraging and hunting.”

Dire… that was south of Laurent but since they lived in a village it was probably still a ways away with minimal protections. Maybe a wall and the local hyres kept in check by their own inhabitants. The most important thing in those villages was the scale church that would bring help if a powerful hyre was detected and threatened to attack. Churches also had the authority of call for power from Scale herself sending barriers down to protect her believers.

Blood Axis had something similar but instead of a barrier, their respective progenitors would greatly augment their follower’s strength with a powerful blessing.

“What about you, the interesting man? Where did you come from?” Aegis asked as Aegris looked up from his phone curious.

“Much the same as you, I was raised in a small village within the Blood Axis but instead was picked up by one of Azer’s Dragoons.”

More like I picked them up.

“Azer’s Dragoons… We need to get familiar with each other’s fighting styles can you tell us more about it?” Talking about techniques it seems Aegris was interested in the conversation now.

“It’s a spear art with a holy affinity through the ice element, its best in prolonged battles.”

First Snow’s rapid healing, nullification of cold, and the ability to change the surroundings into a frozen tomb turning the tide of the battle into the dragoon’s favor the longer it went on. This style gave a good chance to beat stronger opponents so long as I had a large enough mana pool in a battle of attrition.

It was too bad my pain point was my mana.

“A spearmaster…those are rare for us with no money,” Aegris said plainly.

I couldn’t help but chuckle secretly at his use of spear master. I was far from it. For the sake of being accepted, I will be feigning having skill by using differences in raw physical speed, strength, and reaction times to make it look like I am.

Maybe in the future, I can call myself a spear master just like I can call myself an amateur now.

To his point on spear users needing money wasn’t wrong. As many forms of spear art essence techniques didn’t include a way to really defend. Most where rather bloodthirsty encouraging the user to spearhead in with full aggression. Offense was their defense and their real defense was expensive defensive equipment and accessories.

The Azer Dragoon technique was different cooling down the hotheadedness of traditional spear techniques. Which I find ironic as Frium’s true nature seemed pretty hotheaded and headstrong.

I wanted tell them more about my combat style but we’re still strangers, more or less, and revealing everything was not good. They’ll find out what they need to know in battle.

“And can you tell me about the Nova Sword?”

“The Nova Sword is a high-speed technique with the goal of overwhelming the enemy with many small attacks.”

Just like me they only stated the minimum which was enough to go in somewhat prepared and slowly become accustomed.

Seeing we weren’t going to reveal more I changed the subject.

“Will you two be camping outside the walls?”

“Yes, we need to save money for lustrating materials. Plus weapon repairs after each match will be a significant cost.”

Aegris closed his eyes and nodded in agreement with his sister’s words.

Significant repair costs? Did they fall for the cheap grown trap I almost did?

“What kind of weapons do you use?”

“We bought two sets of grown adept level sword and bucklers from Kyunter Equipment. The alloy is amazingly sharp I felt like another person when I first used them in combat.”

I shook my head, I would have bought something similar if not for Eurval. The sudden increase in fighting strength is tricky to ignore.

“Have you considered buying cheap used grown weapons or new growth-type ones. It’ll be cheaper and better in the long run.”

I felt like a fraud giving them this advice since it wasn’t mine, but felt I should say it.

“Growth-type? Or used grown? Why would we pick those going off their ratings they are pretty weak. We checked and they all looked bad for the price.” Aegris looked at me questioning true interest.

“They do take time to ramp up with use but repairs will be much cheaper or non-existent. Before you know it they’ll surpass what you have now.”

For this part, I didn’t feel like an impersonator because it was something I saw and felt myself.

The two glanced at each other in thought.

“We will look into it when we get back.” They looked happy learning something new especially Aegris.

I was satisfied that at least it looked like they were going to give it some thought.

“Now I’m really curious what your rank is Nous.” Aegis squinted her eyes.

“It’s standard precaution for an adventurer to never reveal anything unless they have to.”

“You make it seem like you hold a lot of secrets.”

“I didn’t say anything about secrets?”

It was an obvious bait for me to say something more or at least trip me up.

A frown flashed then disappeared seeing she couldn’t get anything again and then changed the subject asking me general questions about the Blood Axis.

These types always have the need to prod and nip for the tiniest things. Not that I minded everyone had their ways. I’m sure it was her way to see if I can be trusted or not.

Aegris ignored us busy tapping away on his phone looking at weapon listings. He had a slightly dark expression.

Maybe realizing they might have been fooled by the weapons advertisement?

I don’t think they were too bad a choice especially for the tournament where strength at that moment was the most important thing. I was in the academy and had the time to grow a weapon. However, they did buy those weapons before the journey here so they could have grown they quite a bit which is where the bitterness probably came from.

The train soon came to a stop and together we left Obsense City through the gate we had both used to enter.

***

The two made good on their lead. Following the directions but not blindly, keeping a good level of awareness, and being focused. Not much talking at all other than to confirm sights and sounds. I have to thank Eugene he is where I picked up most of these skills, he was much more polished than these two.

But I can’t criticize to harshly they are much better adventurers than me on my first outing, looking back I’m little shocked how little I knew yet boldly jumped into the Tole Forest alone.

We made way at a fast pace, based on my estimates the pond should another half a day travel, but we had to stop as it was night time now.

I could still see fine and could continue if I wanted to, but these two could not.

“We should make camp here.”

They had chosen a spot with 4 giant fallen trees that made more or less a roofless cabin around us.

It was a good spot with a natural deterrent.

“I’ll go set up the defensive wards.” It was best to get this done first.

“Aegris I’ll go with him and set some up too. You set up camp, Lumi you can take out your gear he can set it up while we’re out.”

“You have my thanks.” I brought out the tent set I got in Civieto.

I picked it up after recruiting the Neysil siblings at the facility as to not leave any traces for diviners.

Aegis followed me as I left to set up the wards.

After 200 steps or so from our campsite we finished setting the alerting wards. I had switched off with her after every cast.

She came because she can’t trust my wards?

We were getting to know each other’s capabilities and leaving their life in the hands of someone new was not good practice. I never even thought about questioning the quality of the wards and the caster in charge of our safety with Ronald’s party.

After setting up a spiraling perimeter we head back.

This area isn’t as mana rich as the Tole Forest so I didn’t find any good materials along the way, not that I had the eye to notice other than a few plants. I did get a few clacka roots buts they’re basically a weed and will grow anywhere.

The wards were set there was not much need to focus so intently this area was more or less safe. With the freed up mental capacity, I began to really look for anything that looked of interest.

Oh, another clacka flower.

After spotting it I ran to it and plucked out the root then stored it.

“You’re really good at finding those.”

There was a few more around this one with no flowers I picked them up too then circled back to Aegis.

“I’m was starting to run low, I needed to find some.”

“Is it a delicacy in the Blood Axis?”

“No, it’s common there too.” Except in the Leadwood Forest it was too much of a pain to even try to look for them.

“The tea is mostly used during religious ceremonies here, it is extremely bitter.”

I shook my head.

“That’s because most steep it for too long to get the most of its lustrating effects. There is a small but growing community catered to clacka root tea that knows how to properly drink it for its taste.”

“Oh? Still, I didn’t expect you to like a drink for the pious or poor.”

“Why’s that?”

“You seemed like the type to keep appearances.”

“But I do.”

“In some ways but in others, I feel something is off.” She said as she walked away towards Aegris, we had arrived back at our campsite.

Probably because I’m not from this world! Maybe after living here for a decade I’ll truly act like a native.

I looked around to see a tidy campsite. Aegris had everything neatly set up, my tent and theirs facing each other with a small fire in between.

He’s more reliable than I thought…

“We didn’t find any hyres to eat but I’m making a soup with some beef I had stored.”

Aegris had a pot on a small grill above the fire stirring with a wooden spoon.

I sat down in front of the fire in front of my tent beside Aegris as he passed me a bowl.

“What’s the plan for tomorrow?” I asked casually before beginning to eat.

I lifted the spoon.

This smells delicious? I spooned some of the soup into my mouth.

Oh my god… This is is so good! What the hell!?

I held my face from changing but couldn’t stop myself from stuffing more into my mouth.

I gave a quick glance over to Aegris. Did he really make this?

“If we wake up before dawn and set out when the sun rises we should arrive close to where the pond should be by noon if we don’t encounter any hyres,” Aegris said as he finally served himself.

Aegis gently blew on her spoon of soup then ate after a bit she responded.

“That sounds good, but I’m still surprised we didn’t encounter any hyres. I didn’t believe it when I had heard Obsense City and its surrounding has been known to be relatively safe at the moment, might be true.”

The mana in the area wasn’t rich at all was probably the attributing factor. I wonder if it’s the calm before the storm as mana from other parts flood in. Only farther off where I found the seven eyed viridian boar was the mana better.

Could that be considered the storm front?

“I found it odd too, we should be careful tomorrow we’ll probably encounter a few hyres.” If what I was thinking was true then we were headed towards the areas with more mana.

“The beetles we face might be more rabid than usual at the scent of the flower also. We might have a drawn-out fight until we secure the area to carefully pluck the flowers with the roots. That should be perfect for you to show what you can do.”

Aegris seemed to have put a good amount of thought into it yet came off a bit rude.

I took another spoonful of the soup. It will be a good chance for them to show me their skills too.

The sun had set and the dark sky was moonless tonight giving a rather dark feeling. With our meals finished the two had taken to performing maintenance on their weapons using specific creams and oils from their manufacturer.

A cold wind rushed passed our silence as the three of us quietly performed our maintenance. There wasn’t much for me to do other than to clean it and channel some mana.

With a thought in my hands appeared my spear.

“Is that a growth type?” Aegris looked over.

“Yes, but I won’t lie. Right now it’s still below in strength and power compared to a grown one. However, it is not far.”

“Hum…” Aegris said nothing more after giving my spear a long gaze then went back to his maintenance.

He wants a grown weapon now, doesn’t he? The gaze was one gave to a lover or for the people of this world a weapon they yearned for.

I finished before them after a quick wipe with a cloth and a few pulses of mana it looked brand new. However, once they finished they still didn’t talk much they sat quietly while I read over the various techniques that came after First Snow.

I wasn’t tired but it seems these two were and didn’t want to be the first to call it quits. Not wanting to keep them I got up and walked towards my tent.

“I’m going to lustrate and then sleep. If I get any alerts through the wards I’ll yell out immediately.”

“Then we shall also,” said Aegis clearly forcing a more energetic voice.

There’s no need for this look at you two your eyes are half closed!

While her words and actions seem calculated and cold, Aegis was quite considerate and so was Aegris in a different sense. I was starting to feel like it was a bad joke to say she was anything like Abigail.

I silently laughed as I turned around confirming they had been waiting for me not wanting to show their exhaustion.

As I stepped into my tent I spotted Aegis two taking out two vials of a yellowish powder. The two vials radiated familiar energy albeit much weaker to the pink powder I had used before.

I stopped at the entrance. Since they were considerate I should give them something in return.

“Do you two know how to use Ulus’ Tea Time?”

“Ulus Tea time?” Aegris looked at me confused.

“It’s a lustrating technique that combines regular lustrating and a consumable method with the vials you have there.”

Both of them shook their heads.

“We’ve never heard of it…” Hearing the words “lustrating technique” their eyes roused and looked to be holding back excitement.

Of course, they never heard of it although it was ‘free’ it was only free because I had access to the incredible database.

“I’ll show you. It’s simple and should boost your gains a decent amount.”

“Really!” Aegris let out before calming down.

“Ahem, How do you have something like that?”

Ignoring his pathetic attempt to brush off his excitement I continued.

“Like you two finding an inheritance I’ve also had luck myself. If you cook for the rest of this outing consider us even.” His cooking was honestly amazing.

“I will!” Aegris nodded intently.

“Ahem, that’s no problem.”

He looked happy however his sister… Aegis had been listening in silently.

“Mr. Nous, this is too generous. Something like this is easily worth more than the quest we’re doing. The price of food won’t suffice” Aegis spoke.

This information is worth maybe 10-15 thousand scales.

“Consider it as me preemptively helping you before our time in Laurent, I have a feeling new faces are going to need each other. Mana capacity is a crucial part in determining acceptance when we submit the final numbers of our combat data at the end of the tournament.”

This is free! Free goodwill I can stock up on, this information will all be worthless once we’re all accepted but worth much more when they have already been using months.

More importantly, if I want them to be accepted I should be actively trying to help them myself to make sure that they do. If they made it to the tournaments then I was sure they at least had the minimum of talent and just lacked resources.

“Then we’ll take you up on this offer.” Aegis smiled she had been hiding her desire for this spell well.

“Great.” Just going off the Legendaries treatment of me the cadets of Laurent will be treating these new, poor, cadets with pure scorn.

“I’ll begin now.”

“Make sure to pay attention to the outer rings those are the most complicated.”

The easiest way to teach was to show.

I quickly took my own vial making sure to be fast enough that they wouldn’t have time to notice its potency and began to create the magic circle extremely slowly so as the two could see how it worked.

Like the gears to a clock tower, each piece of the spell slowly formed instead of appearing complete, this was done intentionally so as they could take it in.

Once all the gears were all here and meshing well the path was complete causing my surroundings to fade away to find myself in the black empty space centered around my reliable knight-like mana body.

This crystalline mana body was just around the same size as my flame friend except its shape was of a jagged teardrop. As if it had frozen as it fell in layers. Flying up and above I looked down at its center where there was an opening that led to a small space that was just enough for me to either sit down in.

“It’s freezing but it’s not uncomfortable in the least.” I pressed my cheek against the large glowing blue crystal.

Happy for the attention it shuddered letting lose a cloud of fine dust coating me in the snow that seemed to relax my muscles and body making it feel as if time itself was slowing down. My heart rate and my breath came to a crawl and my thoughts became as still as the top of a frozen lake after a winter storm.

Serenity.

Sitting inside the crystalline teardrop I silently meditated as the lustrated mana slowly fed outwards into the walls of my mana body. Once I felt the mana had been absorbed I gave my knight a pat on its back and left the tiny world of cool to the outside.

Still feeling rather drowsy I half slurred out my words.

“Were you able to understand enough… of it? If anything was missing I can draw it out in more detail.” Some parts overlap making it hard to discern details of the magic circle.

Both nodded their heads.

“We got most of it… if you don’t mind we just need to see its build structure and we will be close to being able to use it.”

“Alright.” With my index finger, I slowly drew out the major “bones” of the spell part by part like a pen of light the letters and formations stayed in the air. The build structure was one of the fundamental parts that couldn’t be ‘shown’ as it wasn’t actually in the spell circle it was the method of casting within the mind.

It was much akin to a drawn map with its equivalent to a table of contents. I would say blueprint but that wasn’t exactly it either.

“Was there anything else you need more detail on?”

“Could you do the first quadrant at a deeper level there was a sigil I didn’t get.” Aegis who had been taking notes looked up and asked.

I was caught by surprise by the look she had on her face.

So she can make this kind of face.

Her eager to learn red eyes shined from the light of the fire and for once they looked quite innocent.

These siblings aren’t bad at all. My opinion of them increased. Her brother is arrogant but earnest and detailed she, on the other hand, was calculative and reserved. They complemented each other.

Looking at the two in my heart I felt a bit jealous, Alice and I had a bond similar to this but were never able to reconnect it when I was brought into her family.

Before reminiscing any deeper I shooed away such thoughts and focused on teaching.

“No problem. It’s a bit tricky if you don’t have a copy of the book.” I slowly began to redraw the section along with its subsections. The final sigil connecting it was a symbol of thick clacka root with a halo composed of some sentence of a language from this world.

“Anything else? Where you able to get everything?” I asked.

“Nope we have it, thank you. We’ll be trying this right away!” Aegis and Aegris left and ran into their tent.

They learn quickly too…

I inwardly noted. Now I just hope they don’t disappoint me with their actual combat abilities.

With this their lustrating sessions should increase their gains by 10-20% as that is what it was for me. Foolishly I had thought 10-20% wasn’t much expecting double or even triple but now I understand increasing mana was a marathon and its effects needed to be compounded over time.

I walked into my tent I was still a little sleepy after the lustrating session. It had felt rather short but a couple of hours had passed as the siblings watched me lustrate.

I hopped onto the bed, with the wards primed to jolt me awake if something comes I was comfortable with falling asleep.

However, there was another nightly ritual that needed to be done, before I could sleep… I connected myself to the lucids and joined them in the marble-lined realm to hear about how their day has been. I wanted to know everything from what they ate to what they learned, oddly it was soothing to listen and talk to them. There was also the benefit of feeling quite invigorated the morning after.


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