I wrapped my arms around Mr. Black and squeezed tightly. He let out a soft grunt.

“Are you okay? Did they hurt you?”

He awkwardly patted my back. “I’m perfectly fine. I was only on vacation.”

“Are you sure vacation isn’t in quotes?”

“Miss Knight, I’m not really the hugging kind of reaper.”

“Too bad, you’re being hugged,” I said but released him, still smiling. “What does a reaper do on vacation anyway?”

“I paint, read, watch the white herons fly over a lagoon and spend a lot of time not thinking.”

“Doesn’t that get boring?”

“Haven’t you ever been so exhausted you couldn’t form a thought?”

“I’ve played soccer so, yeah.”

“Exactly. But on a lighter note, you found something in the jadinfray cave.”

“I did.” I showed him my inventory. “Are they important?”

His eyes grew wide. “Metal dragons are very rare and special. You may be able to use them to bargain for your realm’s safety. But you shouldn’t let anyone know you have them.”

“I have a second inventory. I’ll move them there.”

“Good idea. Also, I see that you learned magic while I was gone. You’re the first miner here to do that.”

“Really? That seems odd.”

“After the first two batches of information, who would ever suspect the third would hold magic?”

“I can see that,” I said. “Also, your sister upset me so I decided the best way to get back at her was to prove her wrong.”

He chuckled without mirth. “Charcoal lies and manipulates. She’ll tell you one thing to make you do another and by the time you're finished you realize that you’ve wasted time and she has what she wanted.”

“Why would she want me to learn magic?” I saw him about to speak and held up a finger. “Wait, I figured it out. I annoyed her so she wanted me out of her way.”

“That could be it.” He didn’t sound convinced but he also didn’t elaborate.

“And you know what? She stole some of my spells! She admits it but won’t return them.”

“I’ll try to get those back but it will take some time.”

I hesitated. “Only if she doesn’t drag you into anything.”

“She always drags me into things. That’s what family does.”

I sighed, reminded of my own situation. “True.”

“You know, becoming a magus wasn’t a waste.”

“A magus? Is that what you call magic users here?” That did explain my title update.

“No. A mage or wizard or witch, depending on the person’s school of thought, is someone who people turn into a magic user. A magus is someone who becomes one on their own. It is much more difficult because they’ve done everything themselves. Magi gain a deeper understanding of how magic works and behaves. This will make learning and casting spells easier.”

“So by becoming one by myself I might be better at it than my brother would?”

“It’s very possible.”


“The downside is that it took you 3 days where it likely only took your brother a few minutes. Also, they tend to begin with a little less mana.”

That explained my single point. “Right, there is that.”

I took out my book and showed him the pages that were stuck. “I don’t know if you’ll be able to return the missing pages but I hope you can separate these.”

He took the book and studied the pages, flipping it back and forth while intently studying.

“I can, but it will take some time. Would you be willing to leave this here with me?”


He wrote up a contract and floated it over to me to sign. It was the same as the last one so I signed.

He flipped past the spells to the section on the Realm Under the Hill and his lips turned upward.

“I remember learning about this when I was younger. When you live in one place all your life, you don’t realize how little knowledge about the realm and it’s people you have. I suppose the same could be said for you and your world.”

“Probably.” I rubbed the back of my neck. “I’d rather stay here and study the book with you but I’ve spent too much time away from the mine. I feel like, if I don’t go back now I’ll lose my edge.”

An understanding smile appeared on his face. He nodded. “Then follow me.”


When I reappeared I walked over to a number 6 floor tile. I yelled back at the group, “Hey, Phenic, give me a task.”

“Kill 4 jadinfray.”

“4! Last time it was only 2!”

“They’re easier for you to kill than I thought. Besides, by killing them you also get a prize from Korren.”

Childishly, I stuck my tongue out at him.

Just before I was about to drop into the mine I felt a familiar tap on my shoulder from a walking stick and lantern.

“Engra!” I turned to see the artificer. “How did your honeyed wine turn out?”

“Thanks to you, you adorable thing, it became the talk of the kingdom.”

“Are you here for more?”

“I wouldn’t mind but more that’s not why I’m here. I heard you reached the third floor and as I mentioned earlier, there is something down there I need.”

“It’s not in one of the jadinfray caves, is it? Because I have no control over what I find there.”

“No, no. It’s the birds.”

My eyes narrowed. “You don’t want me to kill them, do you? Because I already told Phenic that I won’t do it.”

“Of course not. I’m not a monster. I have contraptions that you can use to capture them and their nest in one whole piece.”

“That depends on what you plan to do with the birds and why it has to be me and my mine.”

She grinned. “For starters, unlike most other bodies running about, you’re here in person. You can actually do complex things like take a device, activate it and throw it at an object. They can’t. Controls that complex were never designed into their game.”

I nodded. It made sense. “I’m not the only real person down here though, right?”

“You’re not. There are definitely other things around here. But what you want to know is why it has to be the number 6 mine. Well, it doesn’t. I just like you. Besides, you have the armor I made.”

I smiled.

“I need them because they produce some of the finest magic imbued feathers around. Perfect for this armor set I’m building. And before you ask, I’m merely gathering the dropped feathers. I won’t kill them for a harvest and once I’ve finished collecting I will donate the birds to the various sanctuaries across the realm. Sound good?”


“These 16 contraptions I built should safely capture and contain any creatures within a block. They’re a little buggy, as I’ve only just invented them so I made twice as many as I need.”

“How do they work?”

She brought out a steampunk looking ball with a button on top. It’s smelled strongly of oil and metal. “Just press this and throw it at the nest. The device, if it doesn’t explode in your face, should swiftly expand around the object it hits plus anything else in its block.”

“Wait. It’s going to blow up in my face?”

“Of course not. Probably. Just follow the instructions and everything will be fine. I’m not asking you to do it for free either. In exchange, I’ll upgrade the range and charges on your armor. If you do well I'll give you another task after you reach the next floor.”

Worried about my dragon eggs, “Will living things be okay in my inventory?”

“Right! The awful inventory that you had at first only had about 2 hours of air for a human-sized creature. The inventory I gave you should keep anything living in a stasis for about two weeks. Unfortunately, that’s not enough time so I want you to use this.” She handed me another small cube, this one blue with intricate writing scrawled on each side. I put it in my pocket along with the other inventory she gave me. The contents appeared in my mind, “Experimental Cage x16.”

I smiled wryly. “I think I have too many inventories.”

“Oh! And if you can bring me back at least 10 nests I’ll treat you to something really amazing.”


A note from DragonOfRochester

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story! You all are more awesome than the Lego Movie's famous song!

This chapter's procrastination is brought to you by the audiobook Super Powereds Year 1 by Drew Hayes. Also, getting by me my nails done so I can have my Halloween costume complete by Friday. My fellow D&D Players and I are dressing up.

About the author


Bio: Artist and a retired game industry professional.

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