“Listen kid, the reason you suck at magic is because your magic sucks, get it?” the shop keeper said while putting the books from cart on to the shelves.
“Just, go back.” He continued.
Eliot didn’t even humour him with a reply. He kept looking through the catalog of available magic books while Sugarette was busy making faces at the grumpy old man, right in front of his face.
After reading the catalog back to back, Eliot finally spoke up, “I need Adia’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Basic Gardening for Alchemists Volume I & II, Basic Alchemy volume I & II, Golem creation for Dummies (Nature), and The Ninnyhammer Princess’s Amazing Wild Husband Book 3.”
The shop-keeper finally turned his gaze towards Eliot. His face as black as a pot. Sugarette still trying various ways piss him off, even though she was invisible.
“…. What? It’s a good book.” Eliot said with a poker face, while meeting the shop-keeper’s gaze without flinching.
“I know.” The shop-keeper replied.
He sighed audibly and said, “Kid, look. You’re a good kid. You need that money, keep it. Do something useful with it, don’t waste it.”
“… I see.” Eliot replied. Then he turned his gaze outside the window for a few moments. He could see adventurer parties walking by the road. Some of them happy, some of them not so much. He could also see people, the non-adventurer kind, going about their daily lives. Just like the adventurers, some of them were happy, some of them not.
Eliot pondered for a moment. The looked at back at the shop-keeper. As if coming to a decision, he smiled with a sorry face.
“Looks like logic finally got through that thick head of yours. Then-“before the shop-keeper could finish his sentence Eliot cut in.
“Do you also have The Mean Prince’s Pet Maid book 2?”
“…” the shop-keeper stood still. His hand frozen in the middle of a grand gesture. Mouth wide open.
[… Is he dead?] said Sugarette while waving her hands in front of the old man’s eyes, even though she was invisible.
Then as suddenly as he froze, the shop-keeper woke up from his stupor and slammed his hand on the cart, loudly.
He mumbled some incomprehensible nonsense and grudging went on to the back of his book-store, with Sugarette following in tow.
[Wow, Sugarette has never seen a white man turn red so fast. Is he sick? Heart failure? Brain damage?] Sugarette conveyed what she observed. And for some weird reason she spoke in third person.
Before long the shop-keeper came back with a bunch of books in his hand. He slammed them on the counter, and went to the shelves to pick 2 more books and did the same with them.
“3 gold, pay up.” The shop-keeper was still as red a tomato.
Eliot silently took out three gold from his pouch and put them on the counter. The shop-keeper packed his books in a paper bag and without even looking at him, went back to sorting his books.
Eliot took the bag and left the book-shop with Sugarette. The naughty fairy-imposter of course didn’t forget to ‘Bleeeeh’ one final time before leaving.
All his errands done, Eliot headed back to the inn he was staying.
Eliot was staying at a 3rd rate inn about 20 minutes of walking from the Bazaar. With a couple of coppers a day it provided both lodging with a desk, a chair, a bed and 3 meals of acceptable quality. If he wanted hot water for bathing or other similar services, he would have to provide extra.
Laying on his small bed, Eliot was reading through one of the books loudly. Sugarette was by his side floating in midair, her hands clenched and jaws grit.
“…-and that’s how Little Annie uncovered the assassination attempt on her master. It was also then that Prince Julian had realized he had fallen heads over heels for his shy little maid.”
[Wow! So cool! So romantic! So…Hnnnggg! I also want to one day uncover an assassination attempt on my master!] that’s right. Eliot didn’t just buy the 2 final books to mess with the old shop-keeper. Those books were Sugarette’s favorite cheesy romance novels. And for some reason even though she could read herself, she always had him read the books to her. Which Eliot obliged to. Not because he himself secretly enjoyed these mindless books, definitely not! It was because Sugarette would nag him incessantly if he didn’t.
[Oi oi, I’M your master.] Eliot said helplessly. He closed the book and picked up another one. This one was the Encyclopedia he bought. Sugarette was still squealing excitedly like a teenage girl.
He flipped through the pages till he found the section about the dungeons near Ezora. Looking through the entries, he finally found what he was looking for.
‘…glows red. Called Fire Crust Mushroom. Grows in the vicinity of… … … also know to grow near an innate grade 5 herb called Violet Mother’s Joy… helps the Violet Mother’s Joy filter fire element mana…’
The image matched one of the enoki or beech like mushrooms growing on the walls. He flipped through a few more pages and identified the 3 other mushrooms too. They were called Water, Wind and Earth Crust mushrooms respectively and filtered out mana of their respective element near the Violet’s Mother Joy.
Because Eliot was quiet for so long, Sugarette quickly got bored of being excited all by herself and took a look at what Eliot was reading.
[Oh! These are those weird things that grew on the cave! Hmm, let’s see… Water Crust Mushroom… helps calm down… hmm] She tried to act as if she actually understood what she read. [Hehe, you should give one of these Water ones to gramps Sergei. He looks like he could use them]
Sergei, he was an ex E rank adventurer, as well as one of the donors of the orphanage Eliot grew up in. He was also the grumpy old book-store owner who advised Eliot not to bother buying the books. He left behind his adventurer carrier long before Eliot was even born to open up a store in Ezora.
There was once a time when he quite doted on Eliot very much because of Eliot’s low aptitude in, well, a lot of things. He wanted to make Eliot his assistant at the book-store one day, and if fate would have it, pass it down to him after he retired. The old man had a son and a daughter, but they were out adventuring who knows where. They absolutely refused to succeed the book-store.
Eliot knew Sergei meant well. The old man was just worried. Eliot’s magic talent wasn’t suitable for the adventuring profession. And he had seen far too many youths just like Eliot fall in places unknown. That’s why ever since Eliot joined the guild their relationship had soured.
But Eliot didn’t hate him. Yes, he was dissatisfied how the old man wanted to deter him from adventuring. That was the same as denying him the chance to get stronger. But he didn’t dislike someone worrying for him.
[Maybe I should…] Eliot let his mind wander thinking about the past. But then quickly sat right back up and picked up another book. This one about the Creation of golems.
[Golems? Master, do you want to create a golem to guard the cave?], Sugarette asked.
[No. It’s for you.], Eliot replied, still engrossed in the text.
[F-For me? A bodyguard? A-Am I in danger? Don’t tell me… THE ASSASSINS?!], Sugarette yelled out with a manic look on her face. Her ethereal body tensed in the air as she flew to the window frame and very carefully peeked out.
Eliot’s concentration was broken as he looked at her tiny figure. Both amused and annoyed, he said [No.]
Sugarette looked back inquisitively with her face blanketed in incomprehension.
[For your body.] Eliot gave a short reply. But there were still question marks floating above Sugarette’s head. Thus, he added, [So you can possess it?]
Realization finally donned on her face as Sugarette gave a bored ‘tch’ and went back peeking out the window while muttering quietly, [… … I still think there are assassins…]
Eliot shock his head sideways and went back concentrating on the book.
The reason he started with the golem book first was because there was no way he could master basic alchemy quickly. He was worried someone or something might discover his stash of magical herbs before he got good enough to convert them into potions or pills. Not to mention he needed to buy a bunch of other equipment and herbs to even start practicing it.
And if he could get Sugarette a body to possess like a vassal, or some kind of magical medium, then it would help him tremendously. They shared a spirit bond, so they could share their spells. Her gaining the ability to case spells would increase their options to a great degree. And Eliot already knew Sugarette could possess things like a ghost, from back at the orphanage where should would possess the dolls of little girls to pull some traumatizing pranks on 5-year-olds.
Eliot read as much as he could for the next few hours and at midnight, he blew out the magic candle and went to sleep.
The next day, Eliot got up at the crack of dawn thanks to his trusty alarm clock that also looked like a fairy.
He yawned as he went downstairs to freshen up. Sugarette was by his side cheering like a cheerleader. Something about waking up early making people healthy, wealthy and wise.
About 30 minutes later, Eliot left the inn, The Scared Crow, with his belongings for his daily excursion. He already decided his plans for the day.
First, go to the nearby magic store and buy a low-grade magic core for his golem magic.
Next, go to a quiet place outside the city to practice his magic.
And finally, before returning to the inn, head back to the Centinewt’s Pit to check if his secret was compromised.
Optional, continue his playful banter with Sugarette throughout the day.
The next few days were the same thing rinsed and repeated until finally,
[Umm… Master, this is?] Sugarette asked.
Eliot was fiddling with his magic book as usual, trying to figure out a way to better the ugly monstrosity he had created.
[Shush, don’t disturb me. I’m at the important part.] With a grunt he inserted the last bit of magic in his mad creation [There, done.]
Wiping the sweat off his face, he said with fake enthusiasm, [You should be grateful Sugarette, for I am such a thoughtful master. I went out of my way to make sure weird perverts won’t try anything with you.]
[You’re the weird pervert! You! Stupid! Block! Why in the friggin’ bunny’s bottom did you even think I would possess this nightmare fuel!] like a mad demoness out for blood, Sugarette screamed at Eliot who was trying to look away awkwardly.
[In the first place, what is this? It looks like an 8-inch melting snowman with wobbly limbs with twigs for teeth! How does this suit a goddess like me? Why does a cute girl like me have to go in this thing?! Blasphemy! Sin! Humiliation!] she went on like a wronged queen out for vengeance.
Comprehending that his sweet talking won’t work, Eliot immediately changed his tactics.
Faster than the eye could see, Eliot got on his knees and begged [Please! I beg you Sugarette. I tried but couldn’t do any better than this. If you don’t agree now then all that money we spent on this would go to waste!] He also added [A-And even if it looks like this, it’s actually quite good power and efficiency wise!]
After what seemed like hours of begging and pleading, Eliot finally got Sugarette to agree to try out the golem/vassal he made for her.
All that was left was to practically test the creation all the while trying to placate a disgruntled goddess.