Orisa had a lot of plans for today, so her library time was limited to a few hours at best. She broke into the library, waving the letter like a flag.
"Kanai, VERBA MAGISTRI !" She said with a posed look. Kanai and Iten were already discussing something, and looked at her in surprise.
"Was it... Latin?" Said Iten with a confused look. "How were you even able to say something in Latin with translation Seal?"
Kanai glanced both ways and almost cried out to Orisa:
"I'm begging you, speak without memes so I can understand you!"
"But I refuse." She said menacingly.
"Silence!" Maria hissed when Kanai almost fell on the floor, laughing hard.
"Anyway," Orisa sat down and began, "I got a letter from my friend, and she told me what classes and spells you should look into."
Kanai squirmed in joy.
"In fact, she insisted that you take two specializations simultaneously. I'm sure I saw one of them in the book we read yesterday."
"This is great news, Orisa, Kanai." Iten nodded in approval.
"Yeah, so, the specializations. You wanted one with a cool name?" Orisa giggled seeing Kanai perking up. "The first one is called The Way of Decline."
Kanai clapped his hands in excitement.
"It's a combination of few different schools that uses self-empowering effects to temporarily increase the effectiveness of negative durational effects." She handed him a list of spells and schools he needed to research. "Though, I was told it's difficult to begin with because the starting spells are hard and complex."
"Well, it sounds great, anyway. What is the second one?"
"The second one is a bit funny, I'd say. It is called A Gentle Breeze." She chuckled, imagining Kanai in a pink yukata, waving small white fans with both hands. "It focuses on durational magic, too. But its spells are about empowerment and restoration."
"So, buffs and heals?" Kanai nodded thoughtfully.
"Yes, so to put it simply - my friend suggested you learn both offensive and supportive durational magic. They will probably boost each other in some way later."
"Sounds awesome, yay!" Kanai cheered up even more.
"Good job, Orisa." Iten looked quite content. "By the way, we were actually talking about you a moment ago. I thought about your problem with classes and discussed it with Kanai."
"And we both agreed that you should probably try it. Perhaps?" Kanai added a little shy.
"Awesome! I've been thinking of something, too. I'm not sure yet, so it would be great to hear your idea, too. So, spill it out."
"And what was your idea, Orisa?" Kanai interjected.
"Well, as I see it, I have a lot of Mana, and I need to overspend it, or somehow concentrate in my attacks. It rules out every physical attack, since I lack Strength, and standard spells for the lack of Magic, too." Kanai and Iten were nodding during the explanation. "I don't have any specific idea in mind right now, but it feels like I need something between Iron Man's hand cannons and Doctor Strange's magical whips and blades..."
Now Iten was confused, but Kanai nodded vigorously.
"So, what's your plan, guys? Spill it out!"
"Quite simple, really." Iten adjusted his non-existent glasses. "The specialization we talked about called Monk."
"Monk? Like, a bald dude that wears a yellow robe and trains under the waterfall in the mountains?"
"I'm not sure that this world's version of Monk is the same as ours, but..."
"By the way, Iten, it seems you are from Earth, too. Where are you from, exactly?"
"I was also curious," Orisa pushed forward, "you were so cool in the fight with those imbeciles, where did you learn all that?"
"Also in my past life. One of my hobbies was martial arts. They helped with my main line of work." He said plainly. "Before you ask, I was a surgeon. It helped me to steady my hands and my mind, and later became a big part of my life."
Orisa and Kanai sat for some time in awe. Iten cleared his throat and handed Orisa a book:
"So, this is a book on Monk's ways. I was planning to go to the closed section again. See you all later."
"I think I'll go look for the books on the specializations you told me about." Kanai stood up.
"You can find The Way of Decline in the fifth row on the second shelf, the fourth row from the bottom," Orisa said nonchalantly. Seeing Kanai's astonished face, she added: "Concentration potion's effect."
When he returned with the book, his face showed severe case of shyness and awkwardness.
"What is it, Kanai?"
"I... It's ok if you don't want to..." he mumbled like a little girl, "I remember what you told earlier about price and everything... But if it's okay, can I have a sip of your potion?" He finally said and averted his gaze.
Orisa thought for a moment. She planned to use it today, and this would have left her with one use. 'But this is a great chance to help someone in need and earn his loyalty, too.' Her thoughts were not always pure.
In the end, she took a sip herself and handed the rest to Kanai.
He downed its content and gasped loudly.
"It's like..." He was at loss of words.
"Like NZT, right?" Orisa supplied. She always probed people for knowledge of movies, anime and games.
"Yes! Absolutely!" Kanai was overwhelmed and overly agitated.
"Silence, this is your last warning!" Maria was annoyed by their behavior.
"Beware of loud noises and heavy smells. Also, the effect will expire around 10 PM, and there will be a backlash."
"Orisa, thank you so much. You are a miracle, yay!" Kanai was beyond words.
"Yes-yes, let's get back to work."
A few hours later Orisa decided to leave. When she was on the way to the gym, she saw a familiar platinum blonde girl with a staff.
"Hello, the girl with a staff," she said and waved her hand, "I'm sorry, we won't be able to meet today."
"Don't speak to me, fiendfood." The girl's icy gaze was repelled by Orisa's cheerful smile, so she walked away. 'Gosh, this is so much fun, I understand Nagatoro now.'
Orisa entered the gym and unpacked. She also put on the gloves that were gifted to her by the people from the Arrival Chamber.
As she zipped their wrist wraps, the feeling of her Mana flow became clearer. It was like she heard a noise in the distance, but after taking a few steps in that direction, she now was able to distinguish some the words.
Orisa recalled today's talk with Youko.
“Miss Satou, can I ask you a small personal favor?” She approached Youko sheepishly when they were done with the Mana training session.
"How can I help you?"
"I have an item that Rita gave me, but I don't know its purpose. Is there any way to, I don't know, appraise it?"
Orisa took the gloves out from the backpack and handed them to Youko. She looked at them, then at Orisa and furrowed her brow.
"These are gloves. You wear them on hands as protection from harm and weather." She said with a blank expression.
"Yes... Um... Thank you... But I was told that they have some special effects, probably." Orisa was mortified.
Youko took the gloves and turned them inside-out. On the inside of the palm, Orisa saw a small seal.
"This is a lesser Concentration Seal. It's like your potion, but much weaker. This Seal also helps a little with Mana compression to create smaller but more potent forms. Give me a second."
She placed the gloves on the table, took out her small metal wand and pointed it at the gloves:
They glowed with blue for a second, and then Youko handed them back to Orisa.
"They will also slightly increase your Mana control and are enchanted to self-repair when damaged." She said with a slightly confused voice.
"Are they rare? Expensive?" Orisa had some hopes about the gloves.
"No, quite the opposite. They are garbage, and I don't know who would put this combination of enchantments on the item, they are useless together."
"If I may, one last question. This blue Seal inside is from Mana engineering and the gloves were also Mana crafted to get self-repair and Mana control?"
"Yes, that's quite perceptive of you, good job."
Orisa returned to the six bottles training. The second step was the same - create two simultaneous flows of Mana and transfer Mana between bottles. She recalled the solution she used at her Mana training session with Youko - imaginary switch. This time, however, she needed not the switch, but two different pipes.
It took her twenty minutes to get the Mana going. It worked as she imagined - Mana movement felt like it was on different layers, different floors. Mana moved between a pair of bottles without mixing with Mana from the other two bottles.
'Orisa, the last Manabender!' Her internal critic was quite pleased.
'The Concentration potion and the gloves together do miracles.' She mused, inspired by her progress.
However, when she tried to add the third layer to move between the last two bottles, the first layer broke. Mana flow from this collapse felt disgusting, like something long and spiky moved inside, brushing against her organs and shaking them. She almost vomited.
'Shit, I thought I'd die. Guess that's my limit for now. Gotta ask Rita about this, too.'
Orisa needed a break but didn't want to waste her time with the potion. She decided to write a letter while her body was recovering from the stress.
"Dear Rita, both me and Kanai are so grateful for your help! I'm under the last sip of the potion, and I managed to create two Mana flows. But when I added the third one something broke inside me, it was horrible. What happened?
We also decided that I should try and re-think the Monk class in Spirit Trapper ways. But I don't understand, how should I do that? Can you advise me something?
The last thing - today I will be introduced to someone who will help me earn money. I know that you are eager to help me financially, but I'll do this part myself. Wish me luck.
The thoughts about you and your letters - they keep me going. I miss you so much. Orisa."
She had some time left before her evening appointment, so she decided to grab dinner. It was crowded in the canteen, which meant more noise. Orisa took a paper bag and stuffed some food there before running away.
'My ears are bleeding. Reminds me of all the times I heard feedback from my superiors.' She chuckled while eating at the park.
A memory of her time with Onuki here made her mood sink. 'What could I have done to make things better?' Orisa always dwelled on the past, thinking time and time again about what could have been said better and done better. She couldn’t let it go.
She immediately lost her appetite. There was still plenty of food left in the bag, so she pondered what to do with that. A bright idea came to her, and she took the bag and dashed away.
As Orisa expected, Kanai was still in the library, reading and taking notes. She put the bag on the table, but he was so focused on reading that he didn't notice the bag or Orisa.
'How cute.' She stood there looking at Kanai. 'I wonder why he was so depressed before? Because of his stats or something else?'
It was nice being around him, especially after he cheered up a little. 'He even understands my jokes and references! True bliss.'
When she came to her senses, her hand was a few centimeters away from giving him a head pat. 'The hell am I doing?' She quickly put away her hand and got out of the library.
Captain Pain told her to be at the warehouse entrance at 8 PM. When she arrived there, she saw three soldiers smoking at the door. Orisa was struck by a flashback - a town square, three soldiers grabbing her and pressing her to the ground. She shivered heavily. It took her especially strong willpower push to make her legs move again.
The soldiers were looking at her curiously.
'It's too late to turn back.'
"Um, hello? I was sent here by Captain Pain," the guys smirked when she used the Captain's nickname, "he told me there is some job I can do... kind of?"
The soldiers stood there, gazing at Orisa and silently smoking. They exchanged looks, smiled mischievously and began smoking again.
For some reason, Orisa's blood boiled. She remembered all the moments when she was screwed by her co-workers. She recalled all the missed deadlines, all the broken features and builds, all the failed tasks. She retrieved all the methods she used to fix their attitudes.
"Ok, listen here, you fellows. I'm here to do the job. I was sent by the Captain. Don't make things harder." She paused, adding pressure to her voice. "We don't want to get on the bad side of each other. We are doing the same thing. I don't want to disappoint the Captain. I'm sure you don't want to, as well. Are we clear? Are we done?"
They looked at each other again. It was like they communicated telepathically because the next moment they started laughing so hard that Orisa thought they would explode. A minute passed before they finally calmed down. One of them wiped tears from his eyes and said to others:
"Fire and ice. I want to see what will happen." Two other guys nodded vigorously.
"Get in, gal," he opened the door, "you need to turn right at the second intersection. Your room is called Chargery."
Following the directions, she got to the Chargery. It was a long, narrow room with lots of open crates. They lay on each other, creating a long maze that was ready to crumble any moment. A lone soldier sat on a small chair, writing something down. She came closer, and he finally noticed her.
"Do you need something?" He asked in a tired but polite voice.
"I'm sorry to bother you. The Captain sent me. He said that there is a job I can do here."
"I see. Pick up an empty box and the box with the crystals. Do you know what to do?" With each new word coming from his mouth, his voice became more and more tired.
"I'm very sorry," Orisa kind of felt his pain already, so she decided to be as polite as possible," but I don't know what and how I should be doing here."
She bowed down in an apology.
"Ok, give me a moment," he let out a long sigh before finishing his paper and putting it away.
He then picked up a crystal from the box.
"You probably learned how to light the crystals at your Mana training?" Orisa nodded. "Good, this is the same thing, more or less. You pick a crystal and start pouring your Mana inside. Stop when you feel resistance."
He saw Orisa's puzzled expression and told her, "You'll understand when you feel it. It takes from one to five minutes to fill the crystal."
Orisa nodded and went to look for an empty crate. After a few turns in the box maze what she found was not an empty crate, but the Noble girl with a staff instead. She sat on the same small chair, holding crystals in both her hands. She glared at Orisa, a panicked expression on her face she forcibly replaced with cold disgust.
"What are you doing here, fiendfood?"
"What are you doing here, the girl with a staff?" Orisa replied innocently.
"I... don't speak to me." She grumbled irritably.
Orisa smiled brightly instead of a reply, took the closest empty box and a chair and sat across the girl.
'If I got it right, I'm going to earn money by practicing my Mana control and boosting Mana pool.' In fact, Orisa was overjoyed. 'I don't want to foreshadow, but this kind of luck must have a price.'
She picked a crystal from the box and focused on it. Both the potion and the gloves were still boosting her, so she managed to grasp the basics very quickly. It took her three minutes to fill the first one, and two more to finish the second. She picked up two crystals and created two flows of Mana. 'Who would have thought that the thing I learned today would be helpful so soon?' Her mood skyrocketed.
When the soldier came to check on her sometime later, she already had more than twenty crystals done. He furrowed his brows.
"Kid, stop joking next time. It is not funny."
"What do you mean?"
"You told me that you were a first-timer."
"I am. What's wrong?"
"You know what's wrong." After seeing her blank face, he continued. "You can't do this much in ten minutes and be a first-timer."
"Ah, I understand, I'm sorry. I'm using a potion to learn things quicker."
He looked at her with a strange expression and went away. The girl with staff also looked at her in slight disbelief.
"I'm Orisa. Tell me your name, please. It's hard to refer to you in my head as the girl with a staff."
"What nonsense are you blabbering?" The girl was perplexed.
"I'm Orisa, now, tell me your name."
"Stop talking to me, creature."
"I'm Orisa. C'mon, tell me your name already, or I won't leave you."
"I told you that I can kill you right here and right now. Stop speaking to me at once."
"Tell. Me. Your. Name."
"Tiana! It's Tiana! Now, stop pestering me!" The girl was crimson, but it was hard to tell the exact reason.
"I'm Orisa. It’s a pleasure, Tiana." She said and turned back to her crystals.
They worked in silence. Orisa witnessed Tiana's mastery first-hand. She was charging two crystals at the same time, but it took her less than thirty seconds to finish them both, while Orisa was still sitting at a little over one minute.
"So why are you here, Tiana?" Orisa asked again, picking up another pair of crystals.
"Don't talk to me, fiendfood." She said in a usual cold voice.
"Sure. Anyway, whatever your reasons are, it's nice that you are helping out with the defenses."
At 10 PM the soldier came back to check on their work.
"And you are still saying that you are a first-timer?" He shook his head, dead tired. "Go wait outside the door. I'll come in a few minutes with the payment."
Orisa went to the exit while the man turned to Tiana and bowed. Orisa was closing the door when she heard his voice:
"Thank you for your help, lady Tiana. It's reassuring to have you here."
A minute later the door opened, and Tiana came out. She stood there, looking at Orisa with a strange expression.
"More crystals means better defense. With better defense, there is less food for the Beasts. The smaller is the chance for them to evolve and bring more pain." Tiana said and quickly left, leaving Orisa confused.
She stood at the door, pondering Tiana's words.
Finally, the door opened, and the soldier came out. He handed Orisa a small stamped note.
"It's your payment. You can get money with it from the Treasury."
The next afternoon, when Orisa came out of the shower after their morning workout, a mailman was waiting for her. She quickly opened the letter:
"Dear Orisa, I'm really excited by your progress and proud of you! First things first, I will tell you what I've learned through the years about the spells and how they really work..."