“Damn! They spotted us,” I shout.
The three of us rush towards the headman’s house. We circled the forest surrounding the village so we could drop the materials from the chameleon spider off at Del’s house. We were hoping without being weighed down by the materials we could easily make it to Camden’s house without being spotted.
None of us wanted to interact with the nervous villagers after the tense four days we spent in the forest.
News travels fast in a small village and by the time we make it in front of the headman’s house a tenth of the village is crowding around the front door waiting for us, with more coming by the second.
Once we get within arm’s length of the crowd we’re bombarded with questions. It’s hard to listen to any one person in a situation like this but I can guess they all revolve around the spiders.
“Let us pass, please! We need to report to the headman!” I try to shout over the mass of people. My voice is quickly drowned out by the crowd.
I notice the headman’s front door open and Camden steps out in front of the crowd. Camden immediately frowns when he sees the crowd blocking our path. “Step aside! Let them pass!” The surroundings hush. I can feel his skill reverberating throughout the crowd.
A path made by reluctant villagers, only a few feet wide, opens up towards where Camden is standing. The three of us don’t take the opening lightly and rush up to the open door. Camden quickly follows us inside and shuts the door behind us. I can still hear the crowd outside complaining. It sounds like more people are gathering not dispersing.
Right before we’re led into the drawing-room, the headman’s front door is flung open. “Are they back?” Braddon stands in the doorway and looks happy to see us. Behind him I see the still growing crowd staring at us.
“If you want to join us hurry on in and shut the door.” Braddon looks surprised but quickly realizes why his father is mad when he sees the crowd staring at him when he goes to close the door.
When we finally make it into the drawing-room, I notice Sarette and Nicolas already waiting for us. It’s later in the day, so mother must’ve gone home already.
“I don’t see any materials on your back, does that mean you couldn’t find any of the spiders?!” Camden looks between us, hoping for some good news.
Master and Ronald both turn away, refusing to meet Camden’s gaze and I can’t help but have a sorrowful look myself.
Camden’s smile quickly drops and I can see him pale a bit. “How bad is it?” He focuses on me since the men refuse to look at him.
I feel bad about having to give him the news. “We encountered the first chameleon spider only roughly nine hours away from the village. We’re faster than the average hunter so you can increase that time to maybe twelve or fourteen hours but either way they’re less than a day’s journey away from our village.”
All of Camden’s family look shocked at the news.
“They’re that close already!?” Poor Camden is sweating and shaking in his seat. “Are you sure this wasn’t a lone spider that happened to get too close?” He’s fishing for any good news he can get.
“We had trouble with the first spider we encountered. Master Del was injured and after we dismantled the magic beast we returned to our campsite to rest. The next day we searched the surrounding woods and found two more spiders near to where we fought the previous day. We discussed it on the way back and we agree the spiders will enter our normal hunting grounds in the next few weeks.” Sarette gasps and brings her hands to her mouth.
“So soon!?” Camden looks like I struck him across the face.
“You were injured, Master Del-Razen?” Nicolas looks worriedly at master.
Master coughs into his hand before he raises his head to look at Nicolas. “We had some trouble dealing with the magic beast in the rain. I was careless and got knocked on my ass… I’m fine now.”
Nicolas looks relived but I know better. Master’s darker skin tone hides his injuries but I can see the slight discoloration across his face. His head may not be bleeding anymore but I’m sure he still has bruises all over his body after a hit like that.
“I… don’t know what to do.” I hear Camden mumble under his breath. “No one is coming. How do I handle this?” That was loud enough for his family to hear.
Sarette gets up and moves next to her husband. She wraps her arms around him and mumbles something in his ear. It’s hard to see a man crumble in front of you. He’s older than my father but I would have to be blind if I didn’t notice the similarities between the two.
A part of me knew how bad the situation was on our way back. Seeing Camden’s reaction, I can only imagine how the rest of the village is going to handle this news.
In a few weeks, magic beasts will be hidden in the forest relatively close to our village. What happens when the hunters need to find food during winter or father needs to gather more firewood? What happens if they start hiding right outside our houses?
“Come with me, dear.” Sarette compels Camden to his feet. She starts leading him out of the room until she stops at the door. “Nicolas, inform the crowd outside that your father will address them tomorrow morning.”
“Yes, mother.” He responds looking a little nervous about addressing the masses.
“And Aaliyah, dear. Kervin arrived today. He already agreed to wait for you so you can take your time and rest if you need to.” With that, she walks her husband out of the room.
Poor guy, ever since the goblin extermination everything’s gotten worse for him. Our once quiet village is in turmoil and the local lord is preoccupied with a war on his doorstep.
“I’ll escort you out now.” Nicolas tries to sound professional but it’s a cheap façade hiding his nervousness.
Braddon rises and walks next to his brother. He slowly puts his hand on his shoulder, “I’ll go with you.”
Nicolas gives his brother a half-smile. “Thank you.”
The two brothers escort us back to the front door. When they open the door, I see over half the village waiting outside. My parents are off to the side and I see Kervin and one of his bodyguards amongst the crowd close to them.
I’m about to try pushing through the crowd but the people practically erupt when they see the five of us standing together.
“Please quiet!” Nicolas tries to quell the mass of shouting villagers.
“We’ll never make it out of here like this.” My frown mirrors the ones growing on my parent's faces. “I’ll give you an opening,” I warn Nicolas.
I walk in front of our small group and look over the crowd. I still can’t make out a single thing they’re saying. I widen my stance and take a deep breath.
“Excuse Me!!!” Everyone stops talking after I use Intimidating Shout. It may not be the same as the headman’s skill but I think it did the trick. A few villagers are shaking and others can’t look at me. “I’m tired and wish to be with my family. Step aside, please.” A much bigger pathway opens up than when we first came to the headman’s house.
I start walking down the cleared path that leads to my parents. The only two people who don’t directly move out of my way are Kervin and his bodyguard. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” I mumble as I pass him. Kervin has an awkward smile and his guard flinches when I look at him. What’s with that reaction?
I forget about their responses when I see mother and father ahead of me. Their smiles help calm my mind and I can finally relax when they both give me a hug.
“Ahem!” Nicolas doesn’t miss the chance I gave him. “As you can see the scouting party returned safely and I’m sure the three of them would like some time to settle down without being bothered. My mother and father are currently going over everything the scouts reported and will have a response for you in the morning.” More than a few dissatisfied murmurs can be heard after his response. The village would riot if they knew how the headman was responding to the situation right now.
I look over my parents’ shoulder and notice Ronald and Del walking to their homes avoiding the surrounding villagers.
“Can we go home, please?” I whisper to my parents. They release me and move to either side of me, trying to guard me against the surrounding gazes. I try to avoid the remaining looks from everyone around us as we leave.
“Are you hungry, sweety? We can have an early dinner if you are?” Mother asks from my right.
“That sounds nice.” A good meal together sounds amazing… and I have more meat waiting in Del’s shack. “We brought back more magic beast meat. Let me grab it from master’s house and I’ll be right back.”
“Alright, and while you’re there invite Del over. He looked tired and I’m sure our cooking will be better than anything he was going to make for himself.” Mother looks ahead and I can see master walking in the distance, almost at the forest line. He’s keeping it hidden well but he has a slight limp.
“Sure thing, mom. Meet you back home.” I activate Double Step and rush after master.
I follow him into the woods and easily catch up to him. “You’re stumbling, master.” I move to support him.
“I just need some time to rest and I’ll be fine.” He stubbornly ignores my offer of support. “We had to move too much in the forest which slowed down my Health regain. I’ll be back to a 100% in a day or two.”
“Sounds nice. I have to meet with Kervin tomorrow but a few days of rest after that wouldn’t hurt me either.” Some time set aside for light magic training sounds nice right now.
Master gives me a flat look. “What!?” I question him.
“I was thinking we have two different ideas on the concept of relaxing.”
“I don’t know what to say to that.” I hang my head in contemplation. I joked about it before but maybe I do need to take a day off without any training.
“Speaking about rest days, why are you here? You left with your family earlier. You should be spending the rest of the day with them.”
“I plan on it. I’m grabbing some of the magic beast meat from your house and heading back. Why don’t you join us?”
“Thanks for the offer but I truly want to rest.” I stop and take a better look at master.
“Should I get Anastasia?” I ask nervously.
“I told you, I’m fine. Besides, someone at Anastasia’s level wouldn’t have enough mana to heal me. People with a high Vitality can take more damage and heal faster than others with a lower Vitality and be able to function with higher degree of injury but when they receive aid through a healer or alchemical solution it needs to be significantly stronger depending on the injured persons Vitality. It would be wasteful for her to use her mana when I’ll heal naturally in a few days.”
“You can rest while having dinner with us. Mother will be sad if you refuse her offer.” I bring out the big guns.
“Your mother was it?” I nod to master. “Please tell your mother I apologize for my absence.” I stumble when I hear his words.
We walk in silence all the way back to master’s house. He doesn’t even say anything while I gather the meat I need for dinner.
Master positions himself on his bed and pulls the covers over his head.
I use one of his clean pots to store the meat.
Making my way over to his door, I turn around and glance at the lump that is master. “I hope you feel better, master.” A light snoring sound echoes out from under his blanket. Master only snores when he actually falls asleep.
I make my way back home. Praying master recovers without issue.
“I’m going to check on master. I’ll meet you in front of the headman’s house.” I tell my parents as I slip on my shoes.
“We’ll see you there.” Dad Shifts his axe onto his back.
“You’re not working today are you, sweety?” Mother questions.
“No, after the village meeting, I need to meet with Kervin but after that, I’m free the next couple of days.” I give a reassuring smile to mother.
“Give this to Del, will you.” Mother hands me the pot I brought the meat home in last night. I look down at a full pot of spider stew, yummy.
“I’m sure he’ll like it.” With that, I’m out the door.
The sun is peaking over the horizon and the whole village is stirring to life. I don’t want people to see me yet, so I use Double Step and run as quickly as I can without spilling mother’s stew.
I’m feeling better after a good night’s rest and I hope Del feels the same. We weren’t told we need to be present during this meeting, meaning Master Del and Ronald will probably choose to stay home. I debated whether I feel like attending but decided one of us needs to attend.
I knock on master’s front door, juggling the stew in one hand. “You decent?” I shout through the door.
“Yeah, why are you here so early?”
I open the door and see two eyes peeking out from a bundle of blankets. “I came to check up on you and bring you a present.” I place the stew on a table off to the side.
“Mother said she forgives you and wanted me to give you your portion of dinner from last night.” I motion to the cold stew.
“Is it poisoned?” Master questions still hidden under his covers.
“I’ll tell her how grateful you are… Master, are you coming to the meeting?” I hesitantly ask him.
“I’ll pass, are you going?”
“Yep. I figured I need to support my extended family. Sandra would be sad if her father was mobbed without any back-up.” I try to hide my insecurity behind a joke.
“We did our part. Camden isn’t going to roll over that easy.” Master sounds sure of himself.
“Alright, I’ll take your word for it. Enjoy the stew.”
“Yeah-yeah.” I hear him say. I leave master to his rest.
I softly close the door behind me and look around the workshop clearing. I see the empty cart sitting off to the side. I originally planned to have that cart filled with weapons for Kervin.
“Oh, well,” I say to myself. I glance at the shed containing the spears I made. Would bringing weapons to the meeting be a good or bad thing?
Everyone is carrying something to defend themselves with these days so bringing some weapons meant for the village might help. I move over to grab my work.
Inside the shed are two bundles of spears. I wrapped the spears into two groups of four with each bundle having two of each type of spear. I’ll sell one bundle to Kervin and give the other to Camden. I should quickly prep the cart before I leave for the village.
I grab one of the bundles and move it into the cart. Then, I start filling the cart with the chameleon spider materials I’ll be selling to Kervin. I knew he would be coming soon and I had the foresight to master about everything we decided to sell before we left on our scouting trip. Once everything is loaded, I grab the remaining bundle of spears and leave the cart behind. I’ll pick it up before I meet with Kervin.
With everything organized, I head back to the village.
When I make it back almost the whole village is crowded outside Camden’s house. His whole family is lined up next to him offering their support. He looks composed but I can’t shake the image of him panicking yesterday.
I can’t see my family but I do make eye contact with Camden. He lets out a deep breath and scans the crowd. Nodding to himself, he raises his hands and the crowd silences itself. Camden once again looks in my direction and I can tell he wants to ask me to join him. I hesitate for a moment before nodding to him.
He smiles and waves me over. The closest villagers notice me and slowly a path to the front is formed. I ignore everyone’s gazes as I take my place next to Camden. I can tell everyone is wondering were Del and Ronald are.
“Thank you for joining us, Aaliyah.” Camden thanks me loud enough so that the whole crowd can hear him. He looks questionably at the spears I’m caring but I only give him a nod of acknowledgment straight out of Ronald’s playbook. He takes the hint and moves his attention back to the village.
“Ronald and Del-Razen are tired from their scouting and couldn’t join us today.” The crowd whispers to each other. “The scouting party managed to slay another magic beast.” A few people look excited but others realize a ‘But’ is coming. “The three of them can kill the beasts one at a time… sadly it’s where they found this one that’s the problem.” The crowd immediately turns restless. “The closest chameleon spider to our village was only 14 hours away.” The regular villagers don’t understand the significance of his words but the hunters in the crowd sure do.
“It appears they are moving closer to our village and will soon start to appear in our hunting grounds.” Camden keeps a straight face while everyone erupts in panic. He chooses not to use any skills but waits for people to quiet naturally.
Once the crowd quiets enough, Camden continues. “I know you’re scared; I am too. We face a threat we can’t see and only a few of us can fight. We need to move with caution from here on out. Once winter passes, we can get the lords help to drive off the creatures. Until then no one but the essential people will enter the forest.” More than one person looks angry at the restrictions.
“How are we supposed to hunt for meat!?” One of the hunters shouts out.
Camden looks at the man. “Only one group of hunters will be allowed outside the village at a time and they must be accompanied by Ronald.”
“There’s no way we can get enough meat for everyone before winter like that!” Another hunter shouts.
“I’m aware!” Camden’s shout silences the growing cries of alarm. “My wife has told me we have enough in the village coffers to buy dried meat from Mister Kervin.” Kervin for his part was apparently not aware of that fact and pales when the crowd surrounding him stares at him. I see his bodyguard ready his hand on his sword.
“The village will purchase the meat and distribute it if we can’t make it through the winter. There is one more thing we must do.” Camden sweeps the crowd with a serious look. “Every tree within ten feet of the village will need to be cut down or notched at its base.” People start whispering to one another. The people who went with us on the goblin extermination in the crowd must realize we’re using the same strategy as the goblins.
“If the magic beasts get close to our village, we will be able to spot them based on the lack of the cut marks on their legs,” Camden explains.
“And what if they charge into our village!?” One of the villager’s shouts.
Camden’s face says he wasn’t prepared for that question. The crowd starts to move restlessly when Camden doesn’t respond, so I step forward.
I thought I might need to use my Intimidating Shout again but the crowd silences as soon as I take center stage. “Then we defend ourselves.” My words shock most of the people. “The goblins managed to survive against them, are we weaker than the goblins?!” I Challenge the crowd and swing the bundle of spears into my arms.
While people murmur between one another, I unbundle the spears and hand them to Camden’s family. “The goblins managed to defend themselves with sticks and bones. We have much better than that. Every other weapon I make will be donated to the village.” My oath startles Camden and the villagers. “We will be prepared if these oversized bugs decide to step near our village. Master Del, Ronald, and I might not be able to kill them rapidly but we can still hunt them as they get closer to our village. The hunters need to be careful now but the beasts shouldn’t reach our village for at least another month. They may be able to hide now but when the snow falls their bodies will stand out more in the falling snow.” I feel a rush of adrenaline as I address the crowd.
“We will not fall like mindless beasts!” I unsheathe my sword and point it up in the air. “When we work together, we are unstoppable!” The crowd starts shouting in confirmation.
I’m about to Inject Mana into my sword but stop myself at the last second. Almost got carried away myself.
“If we stay safe and listen to Headman Downs, we’ll overcome these beasts!” I use Intimidating Shout again but it feels different this time. My shout lights a fire in everyone’s eyes.
I sheath my sword and step back next to Camden. He looks at me with his mouth slightly ajar. I’m trying to breathe and calm my own heart that’s pounding in my chest. I give him a nudge forward to continue.
He takes position in front of the cheering crowd. “I’ll meet with most of you over the next couple of days. We’ll make a schedule for people to help mark the surrounding trees. Together we will beat the beast back into the woods!” the crowd doesn’t shout as much as when I was speaking but Camden’s words do their job. Many people approach Camden and myself while the rest start to disperse.
I turn to Camden, “I need to talk to Kervin. The rest is up to you, fearless leader.”
“Wait!” Camden reaches out to stop me from running away but I activate Flash Step. I appear a few feet away in the crowd and make my way over to Kervin. No one is approaching his serious looking guard that’s trying to escort him back to his cart.
I move beside them but take a step back when his guard slightly draws his sword. “I’ll meet you at your cart,” I shout at the merchant.
I use Double Step to outrun the crowd and make my way home. I need to pick up my money.
I practically throw my shoes off and don’t even bother putting my house slippers on. I rush into my room and push a floorboard up and out of the way that was hidden under my bed. In my hidden compartment, carved into the stone foundation, is my savings. I grab the bag of coins and move back to our entryway.
I slip back on my shoes and rush out the door. I fly through the woods back to Del’s clearing, I get behind the cart and push it towards the forest path. It may not be full of steel goods like last time but my increased stats make this load easier to move than last time. I make sure to scan the trees with each step I take.
I make my way carefully towards the front of the village and Kervin’s cart with my goods in front of me.
When I reach his campsite, I see a few people trying to negotiate prices with him. Most people do their trading the first day he’s here, so I can only imagine they’re trying to barter for supplies they think they’ll need now that our village is going into lockdown.
I scan back and forth the trees around Kervin’s campsite.
“I’ll be staying an extra day this time. If you can come back tomorrow it would be most appreciated. I have a meeting with Miss Aaliyah here.” With the mention of my name the people trying to surround Kervin back off and notice me. Most takeoff but one stops next to me and bows his head, I think he was from the goblin extermination.
“Aaliyah! Good to see you again!” Kervin opens his arms like he wants a hug. His two bodyguards are flanking him and lightly hold him back. For some reason, the two of them won’t take their eyes off of me.
“I’m happy to see you again too, Kervin. I’m sorry but I don’t have the weapons I promised.” I park my cart next to his.
“That’s ok, I understand. Come sit down.” I follow him and his guards over to their campsite and sit across from him on a log.
“Really?” I give him a look that says I don’t believe him.
He holds his hands up in defense. “I may be a little disappointed but I’m not heartless. I heard about what happened after I left last time. Goblins, magic beasts, and it sounds like you distributed your stats. I can’t imagine the month you’ve had.” He gives me his usual merchant smile.
“I take it my family warned you I have business for you. Is that why you’re so happy?” I narrow my eyes and he flinches away from me. “Are you ok?” I quickly ask.
“I’m fine.” He adjusts himself. “And to answer your question, I was told about your materials already.” He turns his head and licks his lips at my cart.
“You have some good business coming your way.” He stops eyeballing my cart and turns back to me.
“I’m being insensitive, aren’t I? Your village has gone through a lot and here I am staring at your materials.” He moves a pot at his side next to his campfire. “How have you been?”
“A lot has happened. I almost died.” I look up at the dark clouds moving across the sky.
“But you didn’t. You managed to slay a horned hob.”
I look back at Kervin. “You catch up fast. I take it people are talking about me.”
“A merchant thrives off of the knowledge he has on his clientele. Yesterday, people told me about your strength and bravery. Then of course I hear you helped slay not one but two magic beasts. I’m sitting in front of a hero.” He chuckles to himself.
I frown and his two guards tense up. What’s their problem today? “I prefer if you don’t call me that.”
Kervin stops smiling. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He pulls out two wooden cups and pours me a hot cup of tea. “Shall we move on to business?”
I take the cup offered to me and down the whole thing at once. The tea helps to fire me up. “Of course.” I hand him back the empty cup.
The four of us stand up and I lead them over to my cart. I reach in and unbind the spears. I grab one of each and carefully hand the longer one over to Kervin first.
He looks over the spear and stops when he sees my maker’s mark. “You reached level 50 in Blacksmithing?” I choose to smile without saying anything.
We trade spears and he examines the smaller one. He looks slightly impressed.
“Can I see the magic beast materials?” He looks at my cart like he wishes he had x-ray vision.
I place the spears against my cart and withdraw a piece of carapace. I hand it to Kervin and he examines the material. “Do you have anything other than the shell?”
I point at the three jars in the cart. “We couldn’t harvest any materials from the first spider we killed but the one we killed a few days ago had a few organs intact. We managed to harvest five eyes from the beast in the first jar. The second contains what we think is a part of the lungs. The third should be a heart. We also recovered five fangs from the beasts.”
“You don’t sound very confident describing the materials?”
“Do I look like a biologist?” I challenge him.
“A what?” He looks confused.
“Sorry, I meant an alchemist. Killing the beasts is hard and we don’t have the luxury to avoid their organs. If you can make a profit on them let us know and maybe we’ll have a chance to harvest them in the future.”
“Unknown monster parts are tricky to deal with.” Kervin folds his arms in front of me.
I recognize the challenge. Our skills activate and the fun begins.
“Don’t give me that. Everyone knows there’s always a market for magic beast materials. I’ll give them to you for a gold piece.”
“Gold! Were you struck in the head by the goblins? There’s no way I’ll make a profit on that, 60 silver.”
“Master and I already tested the materials and it’s wind attribute. We can use them if you don’t care enough to give me a decent offer, 90 silver coins.”
“Maybe you should keep them? If I can’t make money on them, I don’t want them. I’ll give you 75 silver for the lot of them.”
“Word will get out about our materials in the spring. I can wait until your successor comes and trade with him. I want 80 silver for the magic beast parts.”
Our skills are clashing and I can feel mine being dominated like usual. Strangely enough, though, his skills aren’t making me want to agree. Is Mental Resistance helping me?
Kervin notices my unwillingness to settle on a price and looks confused.
His gaze moves over to my spears. “What about your spears? The normal 25 bronze enough for you?”
“That was for my previous work. These are all metal instead of a wooden pole. These are meant for higher leveled people, people like soldiers. I want 2 silver a piece for them.”
“That’s eight times higher than last month! I’ll go up to 85 bronze for each.”
His skill’s crush mine but I don’t let his skill influence my decision.
“I need one and a half silver for them. That’s fair and you know it.” I continue to challenge his prices.
We stare back and forth. Kervin starts trembling before he sucks in a breath of air. “Fine, 85 silver for everything.” He reluctantly says.
“That’s good with me.” I stick out my hand.
He takes my hand and snickers. “You got a lot better, care to see the ores I brought for you?” He obviously wants to get some of his coins back. “I managed to get a hold of some ‘Chasten Copper’ the stuff is purple; you have to see it.”
My heart skips a beat but I can’t waste my money right now. “No thanks, Kervin.”
He looks back at me with astonished eyes. “Since when do you not want magic rocks?”
I reach to my side and feel the bag holding my savings. “I do want magic materials… very specific ones.”
“Oh, you want to place an order? What do you have in mind?” He looks at me querulously.
“I need 5 ounces of mithril, it needs to be as pure as I can get.” Kervin’s eyes almost pop out of his head when he hears my request.
“You want magic silver!? Do you have any idea what that costs?” He’s looking at me like I grew another head.
“That’s not all. I need a small magic gem that has a low elemental affinity, preferably wind if you can find one.”
“Now you’re making fun of me! Do you think I can bring you samples of materials like that?! I would need to call in all my favors in Silver Heard just to see their magic gems and you want me to bring them here!?”
I unstring my coin purse and hand it to him. Kervin opens it and looks inside. “What’s this?”
“My entire savings from trading with you these last few years. Including what we agreed on for the cart of materials it should be around two and a half gold. Can you bring me something with that?”
Kervin looks shocked. “You’re paying me upfront?”
“I know what I’m asking for is a lot. Can you help me?”
“You trust me with this much money?”
“Yes,” I answer without even a pause. “Can you do it?”
He stands in front of me staring at the coins in deep thought.
Finally, he looks back up. “I get a 10% finder’s fee. Make sure you have enough weapons to cover it when I get back.” It takes a moment for me to realize what he said.
“You’ll take your cut later?” I hesitantly ask.
“Just this once.”
I can’t help but smile and rush in to give him a hug. I wrap him in a bear hug and swing him around. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I say rapidly.
When I stop spinning him and put him down. I notice his guards have their swords drawn. “What’s your guys deal today?!” I shout at them and take a step forward.
“Whoa! It’s ok. They’re just jumpy after hearing about the magic beasts.” He moves in front of me and uses his hands to make a lowing gesture to his men.
Once their swords are sheathed again, he turns back to me. “Sorry about that. I’ll find the best specimens I can get my hands on and bring them with me next month.”
“It means a lot to me, Kervin.” I move over to my cart and fish out a small jar. “Try eating this.” I hand him the jar.
“That’s some of the meat we harvested from the chameleon spider we just hunted. It tastes delicious and there should be enough here for the three of you.”
“I know what you’re going to say, but trust me and try it. You can find me tomorrow if you want to buy some more for the road.”
“I’m sure I will.” He says sarcastically.
“Alright, let's empty my cart. My family is expecting me.”
Before I can start pulling everything out, Kervin stops me. “Let my men do it. You can help me finish the tea.”
“Sir.” I pause when I hear one of his bodyguards call out to Kervin. He looks worried about something.
“It’s fine. You owe Aaliyah an apology. Empty the cart for her, I’ll be fine.” Kervin grabs my arm and drags me back to their campfire.
He pours me another cup of tea and I figure I’ll check my stats while I’m waiting for my cart.
LV: 61 Experience: 57,248/ 449,563
Status Points: 10
Meditation (LV77), Running (LV70), Axe Skills (LV55), Blacksmithing (LV55), Cleaning (LV50), Hammer Skills (LV48), Chanting (LV45), Mining (LV42), Drawing (LV37), Cooking (LV36), Trading (LV32), Dagger Skills (LV31), Acting (LV30), Sewing (LV24), Wood Carving (LV21), Sword Skills(LV14), Pugilist Skills (LV4), Spear Skills (LV2)
Sense Mana (LV77), Double Step (LV53), Charm (LV50), Measurement (LV39), Axe Arts (LV36), Hammer Arts (LV36), Writing (LV32), Mathematics (LV30), Intimidating Shout (LV30), Increase price (LV13), Lower Price (LV12), Dagger Arts (LV12), Marching (LV5), Sword Arts (LV3), Gourmet (LV2), Shout of Valor (LV1)
Expel Mana (LV55), Mana Manipulation (LV47), Precise Strike (LV27), Double Strike (LV26), Weighted Strike (LV12), Flash Step (LV10)
Inject mana (LV41), Mana Skin (LV40), Mental Resistance (LV38), Extract Mana (LV11), Magic Blacksmithing (LV5)
Sense Soul (LV28)
Increased Skill Levels
Blacksmithing (LV55) 2,750exp
Chanting (LV45) 2,250exp
Trading (LV27-32) 8,850exp
Sword Skills (LV10-14) 3,000exp
Double Step (LV53) 5,300exp
Measurement (LV39) 3,900exp
Intimidating Shout (LV30) 3,000exp
Increase price (LV8-13) 6,300exp
Lower Price (LV5-12) 6,800exp
Sword Arts (LV2-3) 500exp
Shout of Valor (LV1) 100exp
Mana Manipulation (LV47) 7,050exp
Precise Strike (LV26-27) 7,950exp
Double Strike (LV24-26) 11,250exp
Weighted Strike (LV9-12) 6,300exp
Flash Step (LV9-10) 2,850exp
Mental Resistance (LV38) 9,500exp
Extract Mana (LV7-11) 11,250exp
Magic Blacksmithing (LV3-5) 3,000exp
Sense Soul (LV28) 14,000exp
Skill Experience: 115,900exp
Crafting Experience: 19,702exp
Fighting Experience: 8,643exp
Total experience Gained: 144,245exp
I reached level 61 and gained a new skill. Shout of Valor, probably won’t use it often. I got 19,702exp for making the spears and helping with Ronald’s bow. I got a decent amount of experience for killing the spider, I wonder if I’ll earn close to the same amount of experience every time we kill one?
My merchant skills also shot up like crazy after I disregarded Kervin’s skills.
I’ll have to distribute my stat points when I get home. A huge smile comes to my face.
Kervin’s Point of View:
Watching Aaliyah smile at a blank space makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. She must have gained some levels after whatever she did to my skills.
I was able to lessen her skills against me but it seemed like she completely ignored mine. She’s obviously stronger since I saw her last but she couldn’t have heavily invested in her Mind stat as well, did she?
I’ve known how amazing she was since she first came to trade with me. Her rate of growth is staggering but I can barely recognizer her since I saw her last month. Behind her smile I can see the weight of battle and a look that resembles the same one Lurte and Ryiba have.
Speaking of which, I glance over at the two. They’re rushing to empty Aaliyah’s cart but both of them are taking turns keeping an eye on me. I haven’t had a chance to ask them about the young woman sitting in front of me.
Aaliyah’s eyes refocus, she must have finished looking at her stats. “Would you like some more tea?” I offer her the kettle.
“No thank you. Sorry for spacing out.”
“Don’t mention it. Judging by your grin you must have leveled a few skills.” I try to pry some info out of her. I need to know all I can about what skill she used on me.
“A few, want to renegotiate our prices?” I feel like a beast is looking at me when she smiles and offers to renegotiate.
“I’ll wait until next time.” I look over her shoulder and see Lurte and Ryiba dashing back to my side. “Looks like your cart is empty.”
“Thanks for the tea.” She stands up and moves in front of me too quickly for me to react. Does she not notice how she moves? Her physical stats have to be all over 100.
I notice she’s holding her hand out for me. I slowly rise and move to shake her hand. Lurte and Ryiba reach my side as our grips lock into place. Her once smooth hands are grittier now. She doesn’t put too much force into the shake but her hands guide mine in a precise motion. If I tried to shift my hand at all I probably wouldn’t be able to move one of her fingers.
“See you next month.” She offers me one last smile and moves over to her cart. She effortlessly pushes it off into the distance, that’s another thing that changed in only a month.
Lurte and Ryiba relax a few minutes after she vanishes out of sight.
“How bad was it?” I ask my faithful bodyguards.
Ryiba steps closer to me. “She’s extremely dangerous.”
“Oh?!” That’s surprising. “Can you guess her level?” I ask him.
“High 50’s, maybe even 60.” I pale when I hear him.
“That’s impossible, she’s only 15!” I can’t help but disagree with Ryiba. Then again, he’s rarely wrong.
“Her mana has expanded a great deal alongside her physical stats.” I assumed she practiced some form of magic being an apprentice to a Stone Kin but Ryiba sounds shaken. It was amazing I found a free-lance mercenary that had a slight talent for sensing magic.
“Are you sure?!” I double-check.
“She’s not guarding her mana pool. Anyone who knows the technique can feel the magic radiating out of her body. It didn’t matter last time we saw her but her presence has changed, it’s sharper. She’s actively looking for threats around her and judging by her stance she was ready to draw her blade. She was focusing on the tree line but she was making us nervous.”
“Does that mean you believe she killed the horned hob in single combat?”
“Yes,” Both of them look at me seriously.
“Then that means I found the brightest gem around.” The two of them don’t look like they comprehend what I said.
“That girl will become someone great in the near future. All high leveled people need a reliable merchant under them.”
“Is that why you agreed to get her the materials?” Lurte asks.
“Exactly! If she or her master need materials like that, they must be doing something special with them. That girl will make me rich… so, neither of you better ever draw your swords on her again! Do I make myself clear!?”
They both loyally salute me. “Continue to follow me and I’ll make sure to reward both of you handsomely.”
They smile while I sit back and drink the rest of my tea. This village is turning out to be the greatest boon I’ve ever had.
A rising star, villagers clamoring for food, and a headman who will be asking for bigger deliveries.
The only downside is I’ll need to downplay this at headquarters. Aaliyah’s threat wasn’t to far off the mark. If one of the senior merchants catch wind of this I’ll be booted from this route.
There’s no way I’ll give up the opportunity before me. I’ll be an executive in the Silver Heard Trading Company soon enough.