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A note from kosnik4

Patron is 11 chapters ahead if you still need more to read.

“How is the processing of the chameleon spider from this morning coming along, Nicolas?” Everyone in the drawing-room turns to Camden’s son.

The poor man wipes a bit of sweat from his brow and straitens his posture before he answers his father. “Because the creature was slain on the outskirts of the village, I gathered as many spare hands as I could to dismantle the beast. The carapace and salvageable materials are being set aside as we speak and should be ready by the time our meeting ends.”

I sit back in my chair and sip from my cup of tea that Misses Downs brewed for all of us. I send a worried glance at Ronald and master sitting close to me. Both men are sweaty and have dried blood on them from earlier today.

The village let its guard down and we paid for it with the attack this morning.

“How are the injured doing?” Sarette questions her son.

“Delbuc lost an arm and two others suffered extensive wounds. If Mr. Darrius wasn’t there to buy time for everyone to retreat, we would be planning more funerals right now.” Nicolas solemnly relays the grim news.

“How is your husband doing, Silvia?” Concerned, Sarette turns and asks mother.

“It will take more than an overgrown spider to bring down Darrius. We left him sleeping back at our house. He suffered a few small injuries but he should be up and moving around again tomorrow.” Mother confidently relays father’s condition but we can all see her teacup shaking in her hands.

“That’s good to hear. We now know where Aaliyah gets her bravery from.” Mother tries to smile at the headman’s words but gives up and chooses to look down at the cup of tea in her hands.

Camden doesn’t further comment on father’s situation and instead turns back to his son. “Did you talk to others who were present? Did the beast try to enter the village?”

“Only a few passing villagers were nearby when Mr. Darrius yelled out about the danger. I managed to peace their statements together but I can only guess about the beast’s instincts. According to the people I talked to, the felling team was starting to clear trees for the day and right before they could begin Mr. Darrius noticed the weird trees that weren’t there yesterday. Unfortunately, Delbuc and a few others were already too close to the creature. It attacked and the only reason no one died was thanks to Aaliyah’s father valiantly occupying the beast’s attention, buying time for reinforcements to arrive.” I shiver listening to Nicolas’s account of what happened before I could arrive earlier today. I can’t help but to question myself if I did everything right when I think back on how my day started.


“Aaaaaaa!” I shout as I swing my blade.

I take a step forward slashing upwards with my katana. I dance around imaginary goblins, slaying them until I get to the point, I need to imagine something more of a challenge.

I get back into a starting position but I let my body move naturally and continue swinging my sword. I only gave myself an hour to practice before I have to get to Del’s and start-up the forge.

I flick the tip of my sword and try to slash a falling snowflake. The falling snow dodges my sword thanks to the wind pressure of my strike.

I move to try again but I flinch when a drop of sweat falls into my eye. I sheath my sword and move over to a towel I have resting on a nearby boulder. A quick flick of the fabric and the snow that accumulated on the top of it is sent falling to the ground.

Slowly, I raise the cold towel to my face and adjust the barrier protecting my head.

It’s been two weeks since I got Mana Skin to level 41 and I’m finally able to let things pass through my barrier as I need them, though still with some difficulty. I can change clothes without deactivating my barrier and even grip items with my real hands if I need to.

The ice-cold towel glides across my face providing a cool and refreshing sensation. I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants but I left my jacket at home. Now that Mana Skin is much stronger than before I could probably run naked through the forest and not feel even a slight chill from the falling snow. The barrier works so well it retains most of my body heat making me constantly sweat while training.

I might be a little paranoid but I keep Mana Skin activated whenever I leave the house these days. We’ve hunted three chameleon spiders in fourteen days all of which were quite close to the village. The beasts appear to be either moving towards our village in search of an easy meal or dispersing into the surrounding forest.

Master Del, Ronald, and I may no longer have trouble with the beasts but their presence is becoming increasingly bad for the environment. Other than birds, the only beasts the hunters have found remaining in the area are karhu who are more skin and bones than anything else.

The three of us decided as a group to give the meat from our kills to the village. People didn’t even complain about the origin of the meat after three days of only vegetables. Even with levels and stats, people who live in villages like ours need a large number of calories at least once a day and a good chunk of it needs to be protein.

Luckily for the village, Kervin should be back soon. Camden and Kervin sealed a deal before the trader left and part of that deal was sending a message once he was coming back to our village. Camden was ecstatic two days ago when he received a letter from Kervin saying he was on his way. We should be getting a delivery of dried meats sometime tomorrow. We’ll have to ration it out but the meat should last us until he can come again next month.

Kervin should also be bringing me my mana gem alongside my first real fantasy metal, mithril. Food may be important but I can’t help but be more excited about the materials being brought to me. Learning to engrave will take my crafting skills to the next tier. It may eat up all my money for years to come but once I can engrave my work it will jump in price and pay for itself in no time.

I’m counting my kips before they hatch. I need to center myself.

I should check my status page.

LV: 62 Experience: 81,073/ 481,032

Health: 2,060/2,060

Stamina: 897.41/1,386

Mana: 807.64/1,000

Vitality: 206.00

Endurance: 80.09

Strength: 130.00

Dexterity: 120.00

Senses: 60.43

Mind: 62.49

Magic: 100.62

Clarity: 75.37

Status Points: 0

Skills:

Tier 1:

Meditation (LV77), Running (LV72), Blacksmithing (LV59), Axe Skills (LV55), Cleaning (LV50), Hammer Skills (LV50), Chanting (LV46), Mining (LV46), Drawing (LV37), Cooking (LV36), Trading (LV32), Dagger Skills (LV31), Acting (LV30), Sewing (LV24), Wood Carving (LV21), Sword Skills(LV21), Pugilist Skills (LV4), Spear Skills (LV2)

Tier 2:

Sense Mana (LV78), Double Step (LV56), Charm (LV50), Measurement (LV41), Axe Arts (LV36), Hammer Arts (LV36), Writing (LV32), Intimidating Shout (LV31), Mathematics (LV30), Increase price (LV13), Lower Price (LV12), Dagger Arts (LV12), Sword Arts (LV7), Marching (LV5), Gourmet (LV2), Shout of Valor (LV1)

Tier 3:

Expel Mana (LV56), Mana Manipulation (LV50), Double Strike (LV31), Precise Strike (LV30), Weighted Strike (LV19), Flash Step (LV13)

Tier 4:

Inject mana (LV44), Mana Skin (LV44), Mental Resistance (LV40), Extract Mana (LV21), Magic Blacksmithing (LV16)

Tier 5:

Sense Soul (LV30)

Increased Skill Levels

Running (LV72) 3,600exp

Blacksmithing (LV59) 2,950exp

Sword Skills (LV20-21) 2,050exp

Double Step (LV56) 5,600exp

Measurement (LV41) 4,100exp

Intimidating Shout (LV31) 3,100exp

Sword Arts (LV7) 700exp

Mana Manipulation (LV50) 7,500exp

Double Strike (LV31) 4,650exp

Weighted Strike (LV18-19) 5,550exp

Flash Step (LV13) 1,950exp

Inject mana (LV44) 11,000

Mana Skin (LV43-44) 21,750exp

Extract Mana (LV20-21) 10,250exp

Magic Blacksmithing (LV16) 4,000exp

Sense Soul (LV30) 15,000exp

Skill Experience: 103,750exp

Crafting Experience: 32,313exp

Fighting Experience: 13,128exp

Total experience Gained: 149,191exp

As soon as I pull my status page up, I distribute my status points. I dumped 6 into Strength to pull it up to 130 and 3 into Dexterity to make it an even 120. The last point goes into Vitality.

I watch my soul release the colorful energy and grin when I feel my body becoming stronger. Most of my commonly used skills leveled up once but I choose to focus on the one that matters the most, Sense Soul. Just like I was told its first test was at level 30 and if rumors are to be believed, I’ll have to pass another test every ten levels from here on out.

I look down at my hands and flex my fingers. I can’t help but feel positive about my future with this new energy flowing through me. I should practice before the feeling of strength becomes normal to me.

I move to draw my sword again.

“Aaaaaaa!”

I freeze in place. The wind and falling snow muffles it, but that was screaming I heard!

Using my new Strength and continuously activate Double Step to run around my house and speed through the village.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaa!”

I’m getting closing in the screams.

“Help! Spider!”

I don’t stop as I pass the woman shouting spider at the top of her lungs. Damn, did a chameleon spider make it into the village!

A part of me is worried about facing the beast by myself but my blood runs cold when I hear a familiar voice yelling, “Get back!”

That was father! It dawns on me the screams for help are coming from the felling site father was working on yesterday.

I immediately activate Flash Step. The world slows and villagers’ heads can’t turn fast enough as I zoom past them. “Hold on dad, I’m coming!” Please let him be ok!

I round a house and find myself in a horror scene. Two unconscious men are being dragged away by their arms by blood-soaked villagers. Blood is spattered all over the ground and covering the giant man charging the magic beast. A leg flashes in front of father and sends him skipping across the ground like someone would skip a stone across the water. Father’s wounds open deeper yet he springs to his feet readying another charge.

I use Flash Step one more time to get in front of my recklessly charging father. Drawing my sword in one smooth motion, I slice into the leg that would have sent father flying again. I don’t have enough time to activate anymore of my skills, so the blade only makes it a third of the way through the spider’s leg.

The chameleon spider’s leg doesn’t stop with my strike and crashes into me sending me colliding into dad crashing us both to the ground. I tuck and roll before springing back to my feet but father stays on his hands and knees heaving up a mouthful of blood.

“Stay Down!” I shout at dad as he tries to get up once he manages to catch a breath.

“Derlbuc.” Dad wheezes and points towards the base of the chameleon spider.

I didn’t notice because I was so focused on dad but there’s a man lying face down in a pool of blood missing his arm directly underneath the magic beast. Everything clicks into place when I see the spider repositioning itself over the unconscious man.

Dad was distracting the beast so it couldn’t eat him.

I have no time to come up with a strategy so I run at the beast just like father tried to do. If I hold back now the man will die. Despite a few villagers watching in the distance I inject mana into my sword and ignite it. I restabilize my Mana Skin barrier and run straight for the injured man.

The spider hisses at me and clearly understands I’m trying to steal its prey. Two of its ten legs come flying at me trying to deter me from approaching. If I’m by myself I need to get rid of some of these legs.

“Weighted Strike! Double Strike!” In the heat of the moment, I shout out my two skills as I swing at the fast-approaching limbs.

I feel my sword make contact with the first limb and I put every ounce of Strength I have behind my sword.

My blade slices cleanly through the first leg and does the same to the second.

Suddenly missing two of its limbs, the magic beast reels back in pain and produces a high-pitched screech that reverberates through my body.

Too bad for the spider, I have experience against its scream and use the opportunity given to me to grab the unconscious man with my left hand.

The spider sees what I’m doing and realizes I’m unaffected by its screech. It stops the horrible noise and instead shuffles towards me at full speed. I can’t outrun the beast while dragging the man behind me.

I make the choice to face the beast instead of running. Wilding my sword with one hand I try to block a strike coming at the middle of my chest. My sword cuts into the spider slightly but is pushed away by the force. I can’t wield my sword with enough strength to injure the magic beast with only a single hand. The spider's leg slams directly into me popping the outer layer of Mana Skin.

A horrible smile crosses my face as I’m launched into the air. “Thanks, stupid, that’s what I wanted.”

My vice-like grip holds onto the shirt of the unconscious man letting me pull him away from the beast using the momentum of its strike against it.

With my superb senses, I have just enough time to toss the man further behind me before I hit the ground. The inner layer of Mana Skin keeps me from getting hurt from the fall.

I watch out for my unsheathed sword as I tumble across the snow-covered ground. A few rocks come close to puncturing the inner layer of Mana Skin but I thank the gods that it luckily holds up against the punishment.

I stumble to my feet and turn towards two men hiding behind the closest building. “You two, grab him and take him to Anastasia!” The two men pale at my command and don’t move a muscle.

“Now!” With my shout, they finally dash towards the injured man and start dragging him away.

I want to have someone carry father away too but I don’t have time to make eye contact with anybody else. I spin around to see the Spider making its way towards me.

I reapply Mana Skin and pump some more mana into my sword leaving me with only 520 mana left. A quick check of my Stamina isn’t any better. I only have around 670 Stamina left. Fighting this much after my morning training is consuming my Stamina at a rapid pace.

I move forward closing the distance between the spider and me trying to keep it away from father. I cut the beast as many times as I can no matter how shallow they may be. Thanks to the flames on my sword each cut ignites part of the creature’s wind mana. The flames on each of the wounds spread a few inches before puttering out.

I focus more on dodging in hopes that reinforcements will arrive soon.

Waving around the eight remaining legs I get an opening I can’t refuse. The leg I injured when I first arrived is close enough for me to cut.

I trigger Precise Strike and fully sever the injured limb.

The spider backs off once again giving me a few precious seconds to catch my breath. Sadly, the magic beast doesn’t hesitate for long and once again shuffles towards me with its remaining seven legs.

I twirl, escaping the spider’s frenzied attack. I try attacking another one of the legs that the beast is using to keep its balance but the beast is getting used to attack patterns. The spider shifts its weight and strikes at me with the leg I was aiming for.

Not only does my slash barely cut into the carapace but I’m knocked back again and this time the spider doesn’t wait for me to get to my feet before closing the distance. A rain of spider legs starts falling around me. The sharpened tips of each of the legs combined with the weight of the beast would easily piece through Mana Skin if I’m hit. Without any time to get to my feet, I start rolling around on the ground, trying to avoid being skewered alive.

The spider is attacking too fast for me to completely dodge everything. The many legs scrape against my barrier and rip holes in my defense. Each cut in Mana Skin requires more and more of my mana to repair it.

With both my Mana and Stamina bars reaching dangerous levels I need to call it. While continuing to dodge the spider’s legs on the ground I shout hoping any villagers nearby will hear me. “I can’t hold it back any longer! Retreat! Retreat!”

I don’t know if anyone heard my frantic shouting but it’s the best I can do to warn them.

Before my Stamina bottoms out and I collapse from exhaustion I need to grab father and get us to safety. I take a deep breath and ready to activate multiple skills at once so I can flee with father.

“AAAAAGGGGG!”

A war cry echoes from behind me and a meteor crashes into the side of the distracted spider. I’m so shocked by the scene I can’t comprehend seeing master fall from the sky and snatching me up from the ground.

A sense of vertigo overcomes me as he drags me away from the reeling spider. It isn’t until I’m dragged next to father that the situation dawns on me for what it is, a rescue.

I look up at master standing in front of me with his pickaxe raised. “Master!” I cry out with tears in my eyes.

He doesn’t respond to me instead he watches the spider recover from his body slam. It’s hard to read a spider’s expression but anyone could tell the magic beast was extra pissed that it lost yet another meal to someone interfering with its breakfast.

I expect master to charge the beast but instead, I hear the loud twang of multiple bows releasing arrows behind me. Two of the beast’s eyes are pierced with my special arrows while others sink into the spider’s leg joints.

I look behind me and see Ronald alongside Braddon, Arash, and Hayk. All four of them are using the special bows we made for them. Ronald’s arrows pierce the deepest but the other three hunters refuse to be outdone. The four men constantly fire their bows aiming for any weak spot they can find.

Master hasn’t moved from guarding us yet but I can tell he’s waiting for an opening to strike. “Master, bring your pickaxe over!” I shout at the man’s back.

He doesn’t turn around but instead waves his pickaxe behind himself, positioning it in front of me. I waste no time pouring some of my remaining mana into the weapon. Before I can tell master, his pickaxe is charged, he pushes off of the ground with all his strength. Dirt and snow impact my remaining Mana Skin obscuring my view of master’s attack.

I wave my hands across the part of the barrier protecting my face in time to see master land on top of the chameleon spider. The beast tries to buck him off but with it missing three of its legs and having arrows in its remaining joins limits its range of movement.

Master activates his Multi-Strike skill and delivers five incredible blows in a single spot on the spiders back. His last strike leaves his pickaxe embedded in the spider's bleeding carapace. When he yanks his pickaxe back out a huge chunk of carapace and meat is ripped away with it.

The four hunters aren’t standing by waiting for master to have all the fun. Two more of the spider’s eyes are blinded by arrows and three of its remaining legs are locking up with all the arrows stuck in its joints.

The spider’s mouth starts dripping blood and soon the creature topples over onto its side. Master jumped off of the beast at the last moment and lands next to me and father. The monster bleeds out slowly before us. I curse the spider in my mind as I watch the life drain out of its remaining eyes.


I shiver in my seat, thinking back on this morning. Everything felt like a blur after the spider finally died. Father and I were escorted home to a worried mother while the village fell into a frenzied panic. This was the first time the average villager saw the beasts stalking the woods in their full menacing entirety.

It took me ten minutes to reassure mother I wasn’t injured thanks to Mana Skin and that I was able to stand. Even though I was tired, I helped mother bandage father up and move him to his bed to rest. We both cried together when we realized, thankfully father wasn’t badly injured.

An hour after the attack Nicolas came to check up on us and asked if I was feeling ok enough to meet with Camden. Father was fast asleep, so mother and I made our way over to the headman’s house.

“How much meat do you think we can get from the beast?” Camden questions his son.

“We’re lucky if we get fifteen hundred pounds of edible meat from the magic beast. Enough meat to last the village four days, six if we stretch it.” Nicolas replies to his father.

“That’s good. Kervin should arrive tomorrow with our order of dried meets. That should be enough meat to supply the village for the next month if we’re careful.”

“That’s good and all but what are we going to do about the village's safety,” Mother asks Camden not concealing her sharp tone.

“It was my fault,” I mumble in a low voice.

“How could this be your fault, sweety?” Mother moves close to me and wraps me in a hug.

“If I didn’t put off my morning run, then this wouldn’t have happened and dad wouldn’t have been hurt.” I choke out the words in between my sniffling.

“The safety of the village doesn’t only fall on your shoulders.” Camden looks me in the eye. “The sad fact of the matter was we became complacent with our logging to spot the chameleon spiders. This just shows we need to have people who can spot the difference with the trees patrolling the forest.” Camden moves his gaze over to mother. “When Darrius wakes up, I hope he can teach a few of the villagers with a higher Senses stat to spot the hidden beasts?”

“I’ll talk to him when he wakes up.” It’s easy to see that mother is getting tired of our family always being the ones to participate in the dangerous aspects of our village.

“I know I haven’t said it in a while but we are all grateful for your family, especially over the last two months. This village owes the three of you a debt of gratitude that I fear will only get bigger in the future. And I can’t forget about you Master Del-Razen and Ronald, thank you for protecting the village.” Camden lowers his head followed by his family doing the same.

After a minute of silence, the headman raises his head and addresses Ronald. “I need you and the hunters to establish a patrol around the edge of the village. When Darrius gets better, we can find villagers that can help but until then we can’t have something like this happening again.

Ronald nods his head in agreement.

“Good. I want to thank you all again for coming after everything you did this morning. If any of you need anything please find Nicolas or myself.” Camden once again lowers his head.

Mother and I decide now is a good time as any to leave. We offer everyone a farewell and make our way back home to check up on father.

He woke up when we entered my parents’ room but quickly fell asleep again once we assured him everything was ok.

I helped mother with dinner and we all ate on top of my parent’s bed. Father had to eat slowly but otherwise, he was healing quickly thanks to his physical stats.


A sudden feeling of being trapped washes over me. My eyes open and gaze through the darkness. My head is fuzzy but I think I must have fallen asleep at some point?

The feeling of being constricted doesn’t lessen once I realize I’m now awake. I try grabbing my sheets and slowly pull on them hoping they loosen so I can get more comfortable. My eyes adjust to the darkness and I see the two shapes on either side of me.

I relax once I see I’m snuggled in between mother and father. Hearing their even breathing is like a metronome that calms my worried nerves. I know mother and father’s bed isn’t that big so maybe I should sneak out and move back to my own bed?

I slowly start adjusting myself so I can crawl out of the bed but my mother’s hand moves over me, locking me in place. “Shh, it’s ok,” she whispers in her sleep.

I give up any idea of escape and surrender myself to the warmth and comfort of the bed.

I slowly nod off back to sleep feeling the safest I’ve been in a while.


“Yes, all of them are for the village!” Kervin shouts at the mass of villages swarming his cart.

“Take them to our house so we can divide them later!” Nicolas helps direct the villagers carrying large bags of smoked meats towards the village.

I’m standing off to the side with my own cart waiting for Kervin to finish with his food delivery. Normally I would meet with him the day after he arrives but I gave master a day off after yesterday and decided to do my trading today.

And maybe I’m a little excited about getting my hands on the materials I ordered.

I don’t think I’ll have to wait much longer. 80% of Kervin’s cart was stuffed with bags of food while the other 20% are things people asked him to acquire last month. While most of the villagers are unloading the meat, Kervin is selling his remaining goods at an alarming pace.

One by one the food is hauled off to the headman’s house and the remaining villagers haggle over the remaining goods.

When the last person leaves, I push my cart next to Kervins and greet the merchant. “Anything left?!” I sarcastically eyeball the inside of his empty cart.

“For you, I have the most luxurious gown enchanted with invisibility, so light you can’t even feel the material.” Kervin snickers at me.

“Have you ever known me to buy a dress?” I smile wryly at the man.

“Sorry, I miss spoke. I have a cart full of invisible ore. Only 100 gold for you.”

We both laugh at his joke. “Good to see you again Kervin.” I shake the man’s hand.

“Always a pleasure.” He rubs his two hands together giving him the perfect greedy merchant look. “Do you have some weapons for me this time?” His grin stretches ear to ear.

“That depends, do you have my order?” My own excitement is hard to hide.

“Sure do, let me grab it.” Kervin moves over to his cart and unlocks his safe hidden under his seat. He pulls out a box a little bigger than my hand.

He gently carries the jewelry box over to me. “You have no idea how many people I had to get in touch with to get this for you. When I finally met with the person selling the materials, he wouldn’t even let me see his specimens without me showing him proof I could afford them.” With both hands, he hands me the box.

I flip a small latch on the front of the box and with a racing heart, I open the lid. The inside of the jewelry box is lined with fluffy fabric and sitting on top are my materials. A rectangle bar of silver that has a bluish sheen immediately catches my eye. Next to the bar of mithril is a small elongated gem shaped like a piece of rice only twice its size. The uncut gem is mostly clear but has a small amount of white fog swirling around its insides.

My mana sense shows an entirely different picture than my eyes. The bluish mithril has more mana inside it than any other metal I’ve ever seen before, including the fire iron I bought a few months ago. And even then, comparing the gem to the mithril beside it is like comparing a thunderstorm to a small lake. Both forces of nature but one is more impressive than the other. The mithril is packed with beautiful flowing mana like a tranquil lake while the gem contains a storm of mana that I’ve only seen before in magicite. Both of the materials in my hands are leagues above anything I’ve ever worked with before.

“Beautiful, aren’t they?” Kervin shows me a proud smile. ‘If you need to confirm them with your master I don’t mind waiting?”

I shake my head. “No, I trust you. I can tell how amazing these samples are just by looking at them.” I close the box and gently set it aside. “Are you ready to see what I have for you?” I motion over to my full cart.

“Very much so.” Kervin and his two bodyguards move beside my cart and look inside.

“I have 26 spears and three chameleon spider’s worth of materials.” I saved the rest of the chameleon spider parts to make more arrows and experiment with the materials more.

“That’s what I’m looking for.” Kervin eyes everything like a hungry shark. “How much do you want for all of them?” His skills flare to life.

My skills activate in return as I question him. “How did selling the organs of the chameleon spiders go?”

“It was profitable for me. Alchemists will take anything if the price is right.” That means it’s worth it to harvest them.

“Well, I have more set aside. I’m sure we can agree on the ‘right’ price. I’m thinking three and a half gold for everything.”

Kervin feigns shock. “Do you think I carry that much coin with me to a rural village like this? I’ll give you two and a half gold for everything.”

“Please! Knowing you, you probably have at least five gold on you in case you find something you can make a profit on. Just going off of the prices we agreed on last time I should get at least 2.9 gold for everything in my cart and that’s selling the organs for nothing. I need at least 3.3 gold for my hard work.”

“I didn’t say the organs were made out of gold. 3 gold coins and that’s leaving me with almost nothing for a profit.” I don’t believe him for a second.

As usual, his merchant skills easily suppress mine. Thankfully I have Mental Resistance allowing me to further negotiate.

“What if we come to a different agreement?” I test the waters.

“What are you talking about?” Kervin rubs the stubble on his chin.

“I get 3.1 gold for my wares.” Kervin immediately tries to disagree but I hold my hand up. “I’m not done yet. I want 3.1 gold minus 30 silver for your finder’s fee procuring the materials I needed. I need 10 silver for me but the remaining 2.7 gold I want you buy some more stuff for me. That means you only give me 10 silver right now and take everything with you.” Kervin looks surprised by my offer.

“You need more materials? If so, they can’t be like the mithril or magic gem. I had to run around like crazy to find you those materials. I can’t sacrifice my other stops just to hunt down materials for you.” He folds his hands in front of him.

“You have it all wrong. I don’t need specific materials. This time you have much more freedom in what you buy.”

“Oh, you don’t care what I spend your money on?” Kervin cocks an eyebrow at me obviously skeptic of my words.

“Yes and no. I need semi-magical tools and even any cheap magical tools you can get your hands on. Duplicates are ok but I mostly need a variety of magical items.” I explain to him.

He hums to himself while staring at me. “Your trying to copy magical tools, aren’t you?”

I flinch at the accusation.

He notices my reaction and shows me his merchant smile. “While asking around about your materials I also asked what they could be used for. Most people said they’re the basic ingredients for a good weapon but others told me they were needed to make an enchanting pen.” I try to keep a poker face when he mentions the pen.

“Now you want any magical items I can get my hands on. You’re going to start forging magical items, I’m right aren’t I?”

A million thoughts burst through my head with his accusation. Master warned me this might happen. I can’t tell him master isn’t able to teach me enchanting because he doesn’t have any magic. I’ve also denied selling him magical items on numerous occasions in the past, I can’t just say now its ok. How do I handle this?

….

Kervin stands there looking smug, waiting patiently for my answer. A crazy idea pops into my head, lie my ass off with a little bit of truth mixed in. “You got me Kervin but it isn’t what you think.”

“Oh, do tell.”

“After master let me place my makers mark on my work, he said I was ready for the next step. Only the next step comes with a challenge. Stone Kin build off of each other’s work and master said I need to do the same thing. The only problem is I don’t have the resources to do that. Master is giving me the basic knowledge to get started but I need to reach a certain point by myself before he teaches me anything else. If you’re expecting magical items next month or even by the end of winter I’ll have to disappoint you. All I can promise is a lot of business in the future and if you cooperate with me, we can continue trading like we did last month. No need to move a lot of coins to a small village out in the middle of nowhere.” I wait for his response.

“When you do start enchanting your work, will you move to Drey?”

A look of confusion crosses my face. “No, why would I?”

His smile looks like it widens a little if that’s even possible. “I was worried I would lose our partnership if you reached a level like that. Call me sentimental but I consider us friends and I don’t want to lose a friend.”

“A friend, huh?” I give him my own questionable look.

“Of course! And as a friend, we need to help one another out. I’ll gladly accept your deal as long as you promise as a friend, you’ll sell all your extra goods to me in the future. In exchange, I’ll help keep your magic skills a secret from prying eyes.” He offers me a handshake.

That doesn’t sound like a bad deal?

I go to shake his hand but he retracts it at the last second. “Before you take my hand, as a friend, I’ll warn you this will be binding with my Contract skill.” He holds his hand out again, offering me the deal.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that his skill would compel me to follow our deal in the future. My smile widens and I immediately shake on it. His smile falters into insecurity because of my quick response.

I feel his skill activate and watch a small sliver of his soul dissipate throughout my own. Unlike Camden’s skill that compelled me to take for the village, Kervin’s skill goes completely dormant after it settles and doesn’t bother me at all.

“Didn’t waste any time there, did you? I’ll get you what you need and I’m willing to invest in you if you need some extra coin?” Kervin motions to his guards to have them transfer all the goods over to his empty cart.

“Thanks for the offer but my mother taught me to never fall in debt with a merchant. I’ll make sure to keep making more weapons for you and the spiders don’t look like they’re going anywhere soon. I should be able to get my hands on enough coin to fund my enchanting practice.”

“That’s good.” Kervin hides his disappointment really well behind his smile.

Kervin hands me my 10 silver coins and we spend the rest of the time chatting about the village and the problems we’re facing with the magic beasts. He subtly tries to ask about my willingness to agree to his skill which I deflect with some platitudes towards his character.

Kervin’s two guards appear to be even warier of me than last month. They work fast, trying to finish their job and return to Kervin’s side. Thanks to their rushing everything is moved quickly from my cart over to his.

“I have to work tomorrow, so I won’t be stopping by but I can’t wait for you to return next month with my delivery.” I hold the box with my rare materials in one hand and wave goodbye with the other. I move over to my cart and start pushing the cart into the distance.

“See you then. You’ll be happy with our friendship!” He yells behind me.

“I know I will.” I quietly mumble to myself. Kervin might think because I agreed to his skill, he has me locked into this agreement but sadly for him, I can easily destroy the hold his skill has on me if I need to. His Contract skill feels similar enough to Camden’s skill that I’m confident I can remove it from my soul with enough practice. Tonight, I might just gather all the fragments of his skill scattered throughout my soul and leave them bundled together just in case I need to eject them for some reason.

If he does try to take advantage of me, I’ll just have to send word to the Silver Heard Trading Co about acquiring a better deal with a more reputable merchant. Of course, I’ll wait until I can properly enchant items before I do that.

Let’s hope my new friend stays a friend in the future… for his sake.

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A note from kosnik4

6,550 words.

 

How’d you like the fight? They may have gotten better at fighting the chameleon spiders when they attack first, but they're ambush predators, and that’s how they do the most damage.

 

Let me know what you think below and, as always, be safe.

 


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kosnik4

Bio: Just love a good story.

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