Lone woke up to find a set of cute yet lifeless eyes staring at him.
As soon as Soph saw that he was awake, she rubbed his nose with hers then kissed him softly. "Morning..."
Lone was a bit surprised. Soph rarely displayed her affection beyond simple cuddling since she was quite shy. He wasn't complaining, of course. "Good morning, Soph."
He raised his torso and stretched lightly. "Sleep well?"
Soph nodded her head. "Mmm. Well, I woke up because of, um, cramps, but I'm fine. You?"
"Like a baby. I'll make some pain killers for you if it still hurts?" Lone suggested.
Soph smiled faintly. "I can manage. Please don't waste your mana points on me."
Lone placed his hand on her head and rustled her hair softly. "Hmm... sure. Let me know if it gets unbearable though, okay? We'll stay here for a day or two since I need to read those books we bought anyway."
Soph closed her eyes as she enjoyed the warmth of his hand on her head. "Mmm, I will."
With that agreed upon, the two got dressed and went about their days.
Since Soph was struggling so much with her cramps from last night, she decided to lie down on the sofa Lone was sitting at and she rested her head on top of his lap as he read.
The light sound of gentle breathing could be heard as Lone muttered to himself while he worked his way through the books.
Thankfully, most of them were short at one or two-hundred pages each. Only a single book was particularly thick. It hosted a respectable seven-hundred-and-forty-nine-pages.
The first books that Lone read were storybooks. They seemed quite mature in all honesty, however, they were poorly written by his standards. He did learn some legends regarding a few of the monster species from them, which was certainly helpful.
The next three were questionably useless. The first detailed how best to plough a field and harvest your crops' yield. The second was all about fishes and their types, which made sense considering that Ros was a harbour city. The last was a very informative novel on how best to treat your slave for maximum work-efficiency. Each of them weren't entirely useless, but Lone had to wonder if he'd ever get the chance to apply the knowledge in them.
Coincidentally enough, the second to last book was all about sex and how best to, well, do it. Lone made sure to burn the information into his mind as he tossed the novel back into his Dimensional Storage. 'I wonder if I'll get a skill like Sex Mastery after a few more times?'
His train of thought had deviated somewhat, but he was finally onto the last book - the largest one. This novel - very luckily - was all about the history of Milindo and about its current ruling caste and royal family.
"King Ralph Heidron, is it? This book doesn't paint him as a racist, so why isn't he working to fix his fucked-up country? Is Ros special? No. The shopkeeper said the whole country save for Ranton was dangerous for my kind... Hmm... I wonder why the royal palace is in the holy capital though?" Lone had no answers for his questions.
"'The Adventurer's Guild is a continent-spanning organisation and is one of the few companies not under the control of Milindo's nobles', huh? That sounds like a place which might be worthwhile making ties with..." Lone continued to read as the time passed.
Before long, the sun was nearing the peak of its daily journey.
"'Due to the wishes of the tenth king of Milindo, no other guild has been allowed to set up a branch within the kingdom's borders. Many debates have been held to determine if this rule should be forsaken, but the royalty clings to it fervently...'. Hmm... A good chunk of this book is dedicated to this topic, isn't it? Still, other guilds? What other guilds? Even the Merchant's Guild that woman at the harbour mentioned? So the members are allowed, but no offices?" Lone asked himself.
A tiny palm found its way to his face. Looking down, Lone saw Soph spreading like a cat as she woke up and looked a bit dazed.
A few moments passed before she recalled that she was using Lone's legs as a pillow. Getting up and stretching her back, she smiled apologetically. "Sorry, Lone. You were just so comfy... I didn't make your legs go numb, did I?"
Lone closed the big book on Milindo's history after bending the page's corner that he was on and he then stored it away. Grinning, he replied, "Maybe. How are you going to pay me back for the inconvenience, hmm?"
"Eh, um..." Soph's hands fumbled about nervously as her face went red. "I-I don't know?"
"How about a kiss?" Lone asked.
Her face was still beet-red, but she still slowly nodded it and leaned up to plant her lips on his. "Better?"
Lone beamed from ear to ear. "Much. And no, you didn't make my legs go numb. You're very light and my stats are decent enough to counter any pins-and-needles that I should have gotten."
"T-That's good... T-Then... f-for tricking me, I-I want a kiss too!" Soph asked with all of the courage in the world.
Lone could feel his heart pounding in his chest. 'Why is she so adorable? I'm a lucky man...'
It was easy to ignore the fact that she had a split-personality and clearly had deep anxiety and confidence issues when she was acting so endearing in front of him. As the saying goes, love is blinding.
Lone returned Soph's kiss with a far more passionate one of his own. The seconds ticked by, but finally, a streak of saliva connecting the two signalled the end of Lone's show of affection. "Good enough?"
Soph was panting. Were she not suffering from violent cramps and acute pains from her first time last evening, then she would have no doubt transformed into her eldest body and embraced the man she loved. "Mmm," she meekly responded instead.
After that, the pair had lunch and then returned to reading and lazing about respectively.
The two of them ended up spending a total of three days in their hidden fort.
The original plan was to only stay for one or two days in consideration of Soph's recovery, but Lone decided to extend that as he trained his Crude Lightning Bolt.
He had used the crummy skill non-stop more or less. Finally, as a result of his hard work, it had just reached master level ten.
|Congratulations! Due to the host's active lightning magic skill [Crude Lightning Bolt] having reached master level 10, it has evolved into the active lightning magic skill [Lightning Bolt].|
"Fuck yes! This confirms so many things!" Lone shouted in excitement.
Sophie who was practising her sword swings glanced at the overjoyed foxkin and she raised an eyebrow. "Did something good happen?"
Lone nodded fervently. "I reached the level cap with Crude Lightning Bolt, and you know what? It fucking evolved! Assuming this isn't an isolated incident, then doesn't that mean that all of my skills that can level, can also evolve into better skills? Like Bone Armour or Basic Regeneration?"
Sophie smiled coyly. Seeing him like this pleased her a great deal. It was like he was nought but a child who'd gained a new toy. 'He really does love his research of this world and its laws, does he not?' she thought to herself before she said, "Well, how did it change? Was it a substantial 'evolution', as you called it?"
"Lemme check first. I was too happy, I haven't looked at it yet," Lone said.
Sophie chuckled. "Such a foolish man."
He just grinned and scratched his cheek as he pulled up the skill's information.
|Active Lightning Magic Skill: Lightning Bolt|
A standard application of the lightning magic school where the caster focuses the element of lightning into a condensed bolt of pure lightning.
|Mastery:||Beginner Level 1|
Lone frowned. "Well, it's description is a lot barer. It lost the additional effects that the crude version had from ranking up, oh, also, its cost has more than doubled."
"Does that not make it useless?" Sophie asked with some scrutiny in her voice.
Lone shook his head. "No. If we're purely comparing it to the master level ten version of the crude skill, then yeah, it's garbage. However, if we compare it to the beginner level one version of the crude skill, well, then it's a lot better. It starts without the chanting restriction and it also has half of the mana consumption."
Sophie held her chin and slowly bobbed her head up and down. "We understand. That makes sense, although it is a little bit complicated. Why don't you use it? We should compare its power to the crude one."
"Sure," Lone agreed.
He pointed his palm towards a charred training dummy that had been subjected to numerous full-power crude bolts. Two seconds later, he said, "Lightning Bolt."
The bolt was no longer pitch-black, but instead, was distinctly blue and a lot thinner than the master-rank crude one.
With the sound of a thunderous crack, the dummy was turned into a pile of mere ash.
|Congratulations! the host's active lightning magic skill [Lightning Bolt] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 2.|
"Wow. That's, what, five or six times as strong? Will that kill me if I hit myself with it?" Lone asked himself.
Sophie laughed. "Perhaps. should we test it out?" she asked a bit sarcastically.
"No thanks. I'd rather not fry myself... Oh well, with this out of the way, should we resume our trip to Ranton?" Lone wiped the sweat from his brow as he waited for her reply. It was fairly humid, after all.
Sophie sheathed her swords and tilted her head to think. "Do we really have to leave? Would it not be wise to simply hide inside of this Illusionary Dome of yours until you have maxed all of your skills, giving us the best chance of survival should people come to capture you?"
Lone shook his head. "I need to rank up. The more I rank up, the more special powers of yours that will unseal... Assuming my theory's correct, anyway. That'll boost our chances significantly. I also need to learn new skills. The best way to do that is to, unfortunately, fight other people. Maybe I can enter a tournament or something in Ranton? It is the capital, after all. I also plan to join this 'Adventurer's Guild' and take on 'quests' to kill monsters. I can steal some or all stats from what I kill - I'm not sure which yet - so that'll work wonders for boosting my overall power."
Sophie sighed. "You should just massacre the people with designs on you. Would that not be far easier than battling some beasts we know nothing of? People are far easier to kill, I can guarantee that."
Lone gave her a fierce glare. "I don't want to become a murderer."
Sophie just returned his glare with a look of contempt. "Lone, one way or another, it will happen. If Golden Foxkin are as rare as they seem to be, then you can be sure that people will come for you, and not all of them will turn tail and run after getting beaten black and blue. You do know this, yes? Human nature is a dark and ugly thing."
Lone nodded sadly. "I know. When the time comes, trust me, I won't hesitate. I've prepared myself mentally. I know damned well that you'll kill another person with ease, so I need to be ready to do the same thing. You know, to ease your burden and all that? I'm using that as my reasoning to end another person's life, though mind you, the gobs were pretty decent practice."
Sophie's face turned red as she mumbled, "You always ramble incoherently at the worst of times... I'm returning control to Soph now since our training is over."
With that said, the girl's cold expression turned soft and her body shrunk, making her clothes fall about loosely on her. Soph smiled warmly before she trotted into the fort. A few minutes later and she was dressed for travel with her shortswords still sheathed at her hip.
"All ready?" Lone asked.
"Mmm!" Soph replied.
Lone stored their home once again and disabled his Illusionary Dome before he took Soph by the hand and started walking back in the direction of the northern road.
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- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
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