As planned Alex had stayed up to guard them first and woke Rose up when the fire eventually began dimming. Alex restocked the fire while she groggily woke up and they swapped places without issue, Alex finally getting some much-needed sleep. Once Rose began hearing birds chirping loudly outside and saw the sun start shining through the eastern window she decided it was time to wake up Alex. The night passed without worry or interruption but they both agreed that morning had come much too quickly for their liking. It was better than sleeping outside again though for sure.
‘Morning, Alex. Did you sleep well?’ Alice asked sounding happy and perky as usual.
“Mhm,” Alex responded while sleepily rubbing his eyes and then rubbing his hands on his face.
“What was that?” Asked Rose turning to face Alex with a questioning look on her face. “Did you say something?”
Alex was startled for a moment, having absentmindedly responded to Alice out loud. “Uh, I, that is,” He stuttered incoherently before gathering his thoughts sufficiently for a real response this early in the morning. “I was, uh, responding to Alice.” He said a bit hesitantly. Sure, he had told Rose about Alice the morning after the slime incident, but they didn’t exactly sit down and have a conversation about her nor did Rose even ask any questions. He was sure she had just been pushing it out of her mind until they were safe and nervously assumed now that she was reminded this is when she would press the issue.
He was right. “Ah…” Rose responded in an uncertain tone. “So. Alice. The girl in… your… head…” She said in a wary tone. “Could you, uh, explain a bit more about it? Her? How did this happen? You are my best friend Alex and I want to believe you but you must see how this sounds…” She trailed off.
‘Tell her everything, we can’t afford to lose her trust. Although I am sure you likely would have even without my permission given who we are talking about.’ Said Alice.
Alex took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment to steady himself. When he exhaled and opened his eyes again, he began to tell Rose everything that had happened from the beginning of his awakening up until they were reunited in the hospital. Much of this he had already told her before but this time he gave extra detail concerning Alice. Rose interrupted repeatedly to ask questions and clarify various parts of the story but eventually, he had managed to answer every question she could come up with.
“Ok,” Rose said with a tone of finality. “I believe you, Alex. You have been my best friend for as long as I can remember and you haven’t lied to me since we were little kids.” She paused for a moment before continuing. “I have to thank you again then Alice, this time sincerely, for saving Alex the other night.”
‘Tell her I said that I appreciate her acceptance of my existence and look forward to having another person to occasionally talk to even if it isn’t through my own mouth.’ Alice instructed. Alex relayed what Alice had said and after a few more pleasantries were exchanged back and forth Rose suddenly yelped in surprise.
“Oh! With all the excitement and travel we both completely forgot to check our levels after fighting those slimes!” She said in excitement. “How could we forget something so exciting!?” She practically yelled as she jumped up and down a few times before stopping to concentrate on her level information.
‘Hm guess I should do the same.’ He thought to himself as Alex also pulled up his information in his mind.
|You have leveled up! You are now level 9! +4 wisdom, +3 intelligence, +0.5 vitality, +0.2 lifespan|
‘Not too bad considering I didn’t even do the work.’ He thought with a smirk on his face.
‘Your welcome.’ Came the sarcastic voice of Alice.
“So did you gain any levels?” Rose asked as she tucked a loose strand of her mid-back length blonde hair that had fallen out of her ponytail behind an ear.
Her question pulled him back into focus and he looked into her dark green eyes as he responded animatedly. “Yea, surprisingly I did.”
Rose cocked her head to the side slightly and frowned. “Why would it be a surprise? You wiped out half a dozen slimes in that explosion after all.”
Alex grimaced, “Well yea physically “I” did, but remember it was actually Alice controlling my magic. I didn’t think I would get any experience since I myself did not consciously do the damage. I can’t fully say why I still got the experience, but I do have two theories.” He paused for a moment to take a sip of water. They had been talking all morning after all.
He held up his pointer finger and said, “Explanation number one is that it was still my body, my magic, and my abilities and therefore my kill, despite it not truly being myself in control.” He held up a second finger. “Explanation number two is that anything Alice does counts for me as well since she does not have any levels and we share a soul. I’ve never heard of anything like Alice’s existence before though so this is all just some good guesses.”
“Anyway, enough about me, how about you? Surely you got some for all those slimes if I got one.” He asked excitedly. “Wait, you participated in the goblin attack as well and should have gotten levels there. How strong are you now?”
Rose’s smile couldn’t get any wider than it currently was, showing off her straight teeth. “Level five! Take that!” She announced triumphantly with her hands on her hips, slightly below average chest thrust out, and chin raised in the air in a faux show of superiority. “If not for that goblin invasion it would have taken me months to get this high!”
Alex grinned and took on the same pose as Rose and proclaimed in an authoritative-sounding voice. “Hah! Bow down before the might of the great Arcanist, peasant! For I am…. Level nine!”
Rose audibly gasped and relaxed her exaggerated pose. “How!? It should have taken you over a year to get that high! Even with the invasion!”
Also standing normally again Alex shrugged. “I wasn’t keeping track after each fight really, but,” his voice took on sarcastic tone, “it MIGHT have been the number of goblins I completely shredded in a massive spell that should have killed me and very nearly did.”
“Damn. Anyway enough sitting around talking, we really need to stop putting it off and decide what to get done today.” She responded, back to serious mode. “Let’s take a moment and think of the most pressing matters. Let me see if I can find anything to write on in the storehouse real quick.”
“Sounds good,” Alex said as they both worked to clear the chairs and the table away from the door so they could get out. Thankfully there was no big baddie waiting for them on the other side and Rose managed to find what she was looking for in the storeroom while Alex lit it up once again with his magic.
After heading back to their small camp the two of them sat down at the large table and began making a list.
1. Secure the building better and seal up the holes somehow if they can
2. Find a way to cover the windows as there did not appear to be any curtains
3. Find out where the scouts got their water from
4. Secure a source of food, current supplies would last 2 more days
5. Gather more wood for the braziers and for cooking
6. Make a checklist of their remaining supplies and what was in the storage room
7. Search the building better for anything of use
8. Practice their still new skills and get stronger
9. Add more goals as needed
“Ok, so we are agreed on these basic items so far? I’m sure we will run into other problems and think of things that need to be taken care of, but this should get us going for now at least.” Explained Rose.
“List looks good to me.” Responded Alex. “I haven’t played around with manipulating stone very much yet but I think I might be able to do something about some of the holes and such with my magic.”
Smiling excitedly Rose hopped to her feet. “Well, let’s get started then!”