From an open window, a slight breeze drifts across Zoe’s face. Zoe wakes up quite abruptly at that and cannot believe how energetic she feels. The previous day with the two new girls had left her feeling so worn out, however, this morning, she felt as if she could quite literally take on the world.
Bouncing out of bed and getting dressed she rushes downstairs to greet her uncle. He’s been taking care of her ever since her parents passed away while guarding one of his caravans during a raid. As a merchant and the caravan owner, he was wracked with guilt and has since been trying to do his best by all those that were lost.
Zoe got into the kitchen and started to simply wolf food down, choking on some stale bread and drinking some leftover soup from yesterday to help wash it down. Her uncle gave her a queer eye as she continued to wolf down all food that she could find and he simply chuckled and went back to eating a fruit while working out some logistics on a map.
Zoe bade him goodbye after pretty much clearing out the pantry of anything that was ready to eat, much to her uncle’s dismay, before running out back to the guild to meet up with the girls from the day before.
She realized that in her haste in wanting to tell them about how amazing she now felt, she had forgotten that they had mentioned something about leaving for a requisition that they were going to attempt.
Zoe was skipping down the hallways, humming a slight tune to herself as she made her way to the plant magi area for lead plant guilders. Upon barging into the room and finding the other two plant recruits huddled in a corner studying. It was when seeing this empty room that memories of the day before came back to her and she had remembered that the other two girls would be away.
These two plant mages were ignoring her and Zoe decided to sum up her courage to backtrack and go to the wind training hall and see if she could burn off some of this excess energy.
After making her way into the wind hall, she found a couple of students sitting off to the side and she found herself a little corner to sit in, not quite comfortable to strike up a conversation with anyone.
Looking through the room, the back wall was entirely open to the grounds in the back and letting the air circulate. She could also feel the wind being drawn in through the giant open facade, circling the room and finally being pushed and mixed into the center of the room.
While waiting far too long, Zoe started to simply scratch random patterns into the ground in front of her while waiting for everyone else to file in.
She had a decent semi-circle completed around her by the time a higher up instructor came into the room and with that everyone stood up and approached him to find out what exercises they were going to do.
A few aides brought in a pair of carts with bundles of small wood and some green stalks that were maybe as long as Zoe’s forearm and about as thick as a thumb. The instructor clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention before he began.
“Alright, we will be moving onto something a bit more advanced and will be quite tiring to do.” He began while giving everyone an evil grin. “This will be two essential skills wrapped in one. We will start by making a very small campfire and toss some vile stalks into it.”
At the mention of vile stalks, his grin increased to almost become predatory as he looked over the entire group.
“Two goals with this. First. If you are out hunting humans or dark guilders, you cannot afford them to see the smoke of any fire, so as the vile stalks burn you will simply need to do your best to pull the smoke down and prevent it from giving away your position.”
“The other is masking smells. Most beasts have sensitive noses and will smell you before you can see them. The task is to try and push the smoke, which should be easy to see, into the ground. As long as you are the hunter and not the prey, this will enable many hunts to be more successful.”
“Other times you’ll want to spread the scent of bait, though this exercise should be enough for you all today.”
With that, he motioned for everyone to get a bundle of materials to make fires with and to spread out.
Zoe grabbed her own set and went back to her doodle on the ground by the wall, where she could at least lean back against something.
Looking through the room, a few people were eager to start, and watching them a problem became evident quite quickly. Once the fires were going, they did not generate a lot of smoke, but once someone poked their fire with the vile stalk, the thing started to smolder and give off a thick white smoke with a tint of green.
The issue came when the person started to gag from whatever the smell was. The exercise was also going to possibly be distracting or at least evident when you failed. After gagging for a bit, the owner of the shit stick tried waving it and stomping on it to put it out, but it just kept burning on the inside.
The guilder that gave us the task was already roaring as he laughed while more and more people were getting caught up with the bad end of the deal.
“Stop fooling around idiots and take control of the smoke.” He yelled out between laughing fits.
Some of the new wind mage recruits ended up sitting down and gritting their teeth through it as they started to attempt to control the smoke.
As the vile stalk released a steady ribbon of smoke upwards, some mages appeared to be able to take invisible fist fulls of the smoke and slap them into the ground where it would simply billow out and cover them and have them gag.
Others were simply interrupting the ribbon of smoke as if they were waving a hand through it.
Zoe started up her fire with the provided materials and decided to give it a try herself. After getting it going, she scooted as far away from the file, not realizing that her previous trauma had a lingering effect. Her heartbeat quickened out of fear. After moving all the way to the wall where she stopped, she simply stared down the little fire in front of her.
She sat in her semi-circle of gibberish with a small fire taunting her. She grabbed her whistle artifact in one hand and held it tightly while keeping it on the chain. Trying to draw strength from her artifact of power.
‘I won’t be cowed by this. I will make you pay for what you did.’ She said to herself. Taking her fear and channeling it into anger and determination. Eyeing the stalk, a different kind of dread came over her.
She placed the vile stalk on the ground and plugged her nose with her free hand, as she used her foot to push the vile stalk slowly into the fire.
It lit up and started to release a solid ribbon of lazy smoke up into the air.
Zoe, not wanting to be left behind, she tried to pull on her wind affinity and push the smoke to the ground. In doing so, she ended up doing what some of the other mages had managed and was simply disturbing the smoke and breaking the solid ribbon before it resumed.
Not being discouraged she willed the smoke to be cupped and dragged into the ground on the far side of the fire, away from her. It was incredibly difficult the further away it was. Which was probably why everyone was essentially trying to disperse the smoke in front of themselves and getting covered in the smoke in the process.
The cupping method worked as well as it did for the others, simply billowing out.
Zoe looked through the room to see if she could see anyone else having any successes, though everyone was either growing frustrated, tired, nauseous, or a combination of it.
Looking over to the instructor and the aides that were having a good laugh, Zoe could see that while the room was still clear of smoke except for what drifted up to the ceiling and made its way out towards the open facade.
Zoe could taste something extremely bitter at the back of her throat. However, with how much the instructor was enjoying this, he must be doing something to keep the fumes away.
Looking closely, she finally noticed a circle around the instructor and the aides. Against the ground, in the loose sand, about two paces out from them. It seemed like something was snaking around them in circles.
Having an idea, Zoe tried to make a small tornado to collect the smoke, however, that just threw it all out and away, like a violent wedge splitting it.
Stopping that immediately she tried instead, to turn it upside down and she could feel the initial drain on her mana intensify, but it was still manageable.
The inverted cone filled up quickly and Zoe was able to bend it towards the ground.
‘Ah! I see, don’t push, pull instead.’ She realized it and was able to make a very tiny circle on the ground where it touched. While the mage had a circle four paces in diameter around him, her little circle that she could manage was only as thick as her thumb.
The cone started to fill up and excess was still being thrown about. Trying to think quickly, Zoe tried to pinch off the bottom section of the little cone and use that pinched section to push the smoke into the sand on the ground.
She was getting happy with the success of it and kept it up. Not able to really break her focus to see what was going on in the room now.
Everyone else was stopping frequently for small breaks in order to look around and see if anyone was having success. People could easily see what Zoe was doing and with that everyone started to copy what she was doing.
The laughter of the instructor and aides died off as everyone started to get things slightly under control. There were still slip-ups, but everyone seemed to have grasped the trick much quicker than they should have.
However, it was not long. Keeping a wind funnel going initially is pretty taxing and after ten to twenty minutes everyone started to quit due to headaches from a lack of mana. This was a repeat from the day before and as soon as headaches started to set in, people fled their fires to the sides of the room to rest or meditate.
These young aspiring mages knew from the previous day, that after an hour and a half to two hours of rest, they’d be probably able to resume.
However, as everyone else had to quit due to headaches. Zoe was able to keep going. While it did take a lot of concentration, it was pretty boring and monotonous. She started to use the tail of her cone to trace her doodles from before as she kept going for the full hour and continued further.
She had not realized that she was the only one continuing at present for so much longer than everyone else. Everyone had headaches due to mana fatigue and they all smelled vile on top of it. Now everyone was either trying to meditate or watching the carefree girl doodle with her smoke all across the ground in front of her.
While Zoe was simply bored out of her mind and making games of it to keep herself sane, she had not realized that she had become public enemy number one. Taunting everyone, flouting her skill and endurance while everyone felt like they had a small spike being driven behind their eyes.
That was at the forty-minute mark, once the hour and an hour and a half passed and the girl was still acting carefree. People were upset, grumbling, and whispering to each other.
Zoe’s concentration was broken when another stalk was tossed into her fire from the side. Scattering embers around her and startling her terribly as a pang of panic involuntarily coursed through her body.
Kicking away from the fire along the wall away from the direction the stalk came from, Zoe finally heard the laughter.
People were laughing at her and as she looked up and around the room with a bit of panic still in her eyes from the attack. Looking around she saw that everyone was resting around the periphery of the room and giving her contemptuous glares. It was at this point she heard some of the whispers that carried in the room.
“Ha, serves the slut right.”
“She probably learned how to smother a fire real good with her cooch.”
“Nah, she must have practiced how to cover the smell of burnt pussy.”
Zoe simply brought her knees up to her chest and held onto her whistle in a death grip.
Don’t let them see you cry.
With a small hiccup, the gates opened and her lower lip quivered. Getting up and running out of the room, she could only hear the taunts and laughter that followed her out of the room.
Leaving it all behind, she found a washroom and found herself alone, she simply let the pain wash over her as she sat down in a corner and cried.
Zoe did not know what she did wrong, but she did know that the entire group turned on her at some point.
“FUCK ALL OF YOU!!!” She screamed at nobody in particular in the room.
Getting up and wiping away at the salty tear-stained face, she left the bathroom, and instead of heading back or going home, she went to the plant mage room. The two plant mages would probably continue to ignore her as they did this morning.
‘I miss Cara and Jess…’ She thought to herself.
‘They were nice. Cara’s familiar was able to heal my injury and they didn’t look down on me because of it.
Finding her way into the plant magi room, she went to a shelf and grabbed an armful of slates to look over. Thankful that while the two plant mages were still here, they barely looked up at her and kept entirely to themselves as they transcribed notes into journals.
‘I’ll ask uncle about getting me a notebook as well, in the meantime, I can review some things and wait to see if I cannot join Cara, Jess, and their familiars.'
‘Akira had mentioned something about being able to control reality with wind magic… I wonder how I could do that…’ She thought to herself while absentmindedly going through some of the slates.
After a bit, Zoe tried practicing creating the film to vibrate that the familiar had mentioned.
Trying various things was proving difficult. The only thing that seemed to work was that when Zoe blew on her whistle, no sound came out, but what did happen was that she could feel that she could use it to almost ‘blow’ a membrane of wind and spit onto her hand that she could practice with.
Like a second skin of mana or a spit soap bubble onto her hand that she could manipulate briefly before it dissipated.
With that, Zoe sat quietly in a room with two strangers, blowing on a whistle, who’s pitch was so high that none of them could hear it, until she was blue in the face while waiting to reunite with her new friends.
After breakfast. Cara and Akira left to go meet up with Jessica, where they all headed down to the lake to talk. They now had a pair of borrowed belts that had a long pouch on one side that hung off their hips. Inside were three caterpillars and a couple of handfuls of leaves for them to eat.
While walking down to the lake, they were able to hide their hand inside the pouch and use the runestone within, with some mana embers and the caterpillars to make some silk manes.
They were able to comfortably have the caterpillars make fifteen silk manes each hour for themselves. Transferring the silk to another compartment on their belts. They were now discussing how they were going to approach things going forward.
“I don’t know Cara, I’d like to keep handing in some requisitions. Mom and dad are still considered bronze guilders and they were probably upgraded out of lead due to seniority or simply because they made the guild enough money. I’d like to at least not be considered lead mage as soon as possible.”
“We could be possibly the firsts to improve our standing beyond everyone else. We would probably be the first plant mages to leave our initiation group in our dust. The first non-dead weights.” I said with a giggle.
“In all states, it is a crime to own treasure that you cannot protect. You will be scorned and prejudiced. Your easy requisitions will be found suspect or promotion will be passed over, especially if you are upsetting what this state considers normal.” A cold bucket of water was verbally dumped on our heads by Akira.
“Also, you could face a hunt, where evil men will desire your easy money. They could capture and torture you for the information. Keeping you alive could be a liability. Others may try following you to either steal or destroy your income source. Especially your peers who do not want to see a plant mage surpass them.”
“Well don’t you have the greatest outlook on humanity,” I reply in a sarcastic tone to him. He cannot actually believe that everyone in the guild is that bad.
“I don’t know Cara. Maybe we should be careful to not draw too much attention.” Jessica seems afraid to rock the boat now that she knows that we could be rocking it.
“Well, we can just go for a mixed approach then! Maybe turn into the guild once every two or three days and use the rest with some vendors. We could make a decent amount of Dens, especially if we spread it out amongst several shops, towns, and a city or two...” It could work, a more balanced approach.
“And yet, you’d squander your future development by becoming a walking farm. Your advancement would fully come to a halt and your abilities would stagnate. That is simply the easy route you are searching for.” Ah, the second bucket of cold water, just what we needed.
Violet unwinds from a pair of cute ram horns and tippy taps Jessica’s forehead, almost as if she were agreeing, which sets us both off to laughing while Violet goes back to assuming a pair of ram horns in the opposite direction.
“I guess that what you say makes sense. If we saturate the market, the prices will surely go down or there could potentially be some unsavory individuals that would look into where our stash of caterpillars is to steal them.” I begrudgingly admit after thinking about it.
“If the guild sells them at three Dens a piece and only pays guildies a single Den, if the guild found out, it could also cause friction with us and the guild.” Jessica chimes in as she’s also mulling over what the ramifications could be.
Aye… What an issue…
“So… Do we put ours all into growth? Do we try to keep making a few Dens each day? If so, how much? Also, do we try to get a bit of recognition with the guild through periodic requisitions, especially if some in the guild might view us as the bottom of the barrel… being plant mages on top of being lead mages.” I try airing out the issue so we can properly try to think it all through.
Jessica is drawing with a stick in the lake’s soft soil, a couple of goofy drawings of a muscled arm, a caterpillar that just looks like a turd, which she scratches out for the symbol for Dens and a box or building, maybe representing the guild.
We debated the topic for a bit and after a while, we finally came up with our plan. We’ll try turning in 30 silk manes to the guild every other day or maybe every third to show that we are dependable and consistent. We’ll try selling the rest that we make to various stores. It will be key to find out what might be a good amount that will not be too suspicious.
So some research will be required. I think I remember that mage Vast saying something about needing to do research about market prices or something.
We decided to head back to the guild to check on other requisitions that could be used to perhaps give us an excuse to go to other towns to sell some silk manes. On our way to the guild, we find the nice lady at her tailoring shop and she’s happy to take the 45 silk manes from me and Jessica each at two Dens a piece.
All of a sudden we have another 90 Dens each from only three hours of absent-minded… Cultivating? Growing? Nurturing? Anyways, we also checked in on the caterpillars and they seem to be doing just fine. They don’t seem to mind the dark at all as long as they can happily chow on some leaves.
We head back into the guild after the shortstop at the tailor’s shop. Getting in, we find no requisitions that would take us to other towns or cities. We decided to ask at the desk and a new lady gave us a queer look before telling us that escort or caravan requisitions are only for bronze and up and that we’d have to put in a lot of hard work first.
After being dismissed by the lady so that she could continue with whatever she was working on before we had the gall to interrupt her. We meandered our way back to our original plant mages room to sit down and discuss.
“Oy! There you are! You abandoned me here. I thought you’d be back yesterday.” An enthusiastic Zoe who was possibly stalking the plant mages room for us jumps out to greet us.
“Hi Zoe, apologies, we kind of got stuck with the requisition that took longer than anticipated,” Jessica responds to a very excited and bouncy girl.
“Oh! I was practicing and can do this now!” She says while turning to Akira and waving her hand back and forth in front of him, as though she was slapping him from a distance. However, there was a peculiar sound that kept coming from her hand.
*wom wom wom wom wom*
“It’s a really weird sound but I assume with practice it can become something else?” She asks without waiting for a response, she turns back to Jessica and gushes over Violet.
“Oh, those are really cute little ram horn hair adornments you have there Jess. Did you find them in the woods or something.” She says while looking at Jessica from side to side. She’s bubbly, too bubbly. She was not like this before. I reach out and grab her by the shoulders to stop her from possibly bouncing off the walls.
“It’s nice to see you too Zoe,” I say while holding her shoulders and looking her straight in the eyes. Her lower lip quivers a bit as if she might want to cry before she tilts her head to the side and beams a giant smile to the two of us.
“It’s nice to see you too.” She says with a small quiver in her voice.
“Oh and it is not ram horns, just Violet, my familiar striking poses as she pleases. She’s so tangled in my hair, I think I’ll never get her out.” Jessica says while giving the girl a small hug that takes her by surprise before Jessica goes to sit down.
She almost loses her cool at the small hug from Jessica, but rebounds right away and joins her in the seats at the top row. Akira simply sits on top of the desk on the row below facing us while I sandwich Zoe in between Jessica and me in the seats.
“Um… Do you think I can spend more time with the three of you? I’m not very welcome in the wind group…” She asks, finishing in little more than a whisper.
I look over to Jessica and we both give each other a small nod before we each hook one of her arms and squeeze the hurt girl with a hug.
“Sure thing, however, you are going to have to put up with us.”
“Yup, all of us.” Jessica chimes in while Violet unwinds herself and starts to pat both Jessica’s head and Zoe’s, which causes all of us to start giggling at Violet’s little attempt to maybe placate the hurt girl.
“We will be probably balancing requisitions and making some money on the side. They are things we can only do because we are plant mages, I’m not sure how we can incorporate you into that, but we also will be doing training and you are welcome to join us on that.” I mention, not wanting to hide too much and leave some groundwork for explaining how we are going to repeatedly accomplish a requisition.
“Oh, I’m in no rush to do requisitions or the likes and my uncle would increase my allowance, he’s a merchant, so no big issues there. Actually, Cara, could I get you to help me with something?”
“Sure, if it is something I can do,” I reply back as Zoe smiles like I just made her day while fishing in her pocket for something. She pulls out a stone and very shyly hands it to me.
It is a gray river stone and as I flip it over I instantly see the problem.
It is a replica of the pair that I made for Jessica and me. However, what I’m looking down at is a jagged octagon instead of a circle, scratched in probably with another blunt river stone. There are several passes at each line, trying to make them deeper, however, they are a mess and look like frayed rope. Several scratches have three to five lines separating out before twisting in on each other. There’s no symmetry at all. However, it is a close approximation, except the middle rune is just a wreck.
Zoe’s face is simply burning up a crimson red from embarrassment.
“Not bad for a first attempt…” I say while she flinches at that before mumbling under her breath.
“...ya… first attempt…”
“So you wanted to butcher the stone and try to eat it?” Akira says in jest, but I’m sure it is at least a bit painful to hear that kind of a remark.
Without thinking I simply chuck the first thing I can at Akira as I glower at him. However, what I threw was actually the river stone that Zoe probably tried really hard on. Fortunately, Akira dodges the awkward throw, and the stone simply hits the stone masonry and splits into three pieces.
“Oh, no Zoe, I’m so sorry, I didn’t think and just tried to hit Akira for saying something so mean. Don’t worry, I’ll make you one tonight and give it to you tomorrow if that is okay? We could meet back up here tomorrow morning if you’d like?”
“I’d really appreciate that. I can also get my uncle to pay for the engraving.”
“Oh, no need for that, I broke yours, I should replace it, also, Akira, you should apologize for what you said.”
“Apologies if I offended you with my remarks.” He says while taking a half bow from a seated position. He really looks formal, like a passable noble when he does that, especially in his leather armor that he’s always wearing.
Zoe blushes further and simply gives a small nod, accepting the apology.
“So what should we do now? It is about noon. Do you want to practice a bit or look through some more of the requisitions to see if there is anything we could maybe all do together?” I ask the group.
“Ummm, I wanted to ask Mr. Akira about what I should focus on next with wind magic?” Zoe asks shyly again while looking down into her lap.
“Your progress is good. Next, you should see if you can tighten the surface and feel the vibrations of that hit it. Then try and have that replicated. There is a rune that you’ll need to form to be able to remember the pattern. First, you’ll need to deepen your mana reserves to be able to have your mana reserves remember the sounds that you could then call on.”
“So I need to use that mana blackout method that made me feel really good yesterday?” She asks.
“Oh, you got high off your mana too?” Jessica asks while Akira responds to the question.
“Yes, everything will always come down to your foundation.”
“Um… Could you guys show me what the rune looked like again? I forgot some of it and the inner rune… I cannot remember.” She asks again, shyly.
I dig out my rune stone from my hip satchel that has the caterpillars in it and hands it to the girl. She looks it over while running her thumb over the engravings before she goes to the back wall and starts to replicate the pattern after pulling out a small hunting knife and pricking her finger.
After checking a couple of times and making the run a little too big, she nods before handing back my rune stone.
“Oh, are we all practicing? I kind of jumped the wagon there.” She said while giggling awkwardly at the end.
“Yep, we were going to be practicing together. Akira will stand guard.” I say while looking through the room, the other two plant mages are not here, perhaps they’ve already committed everything to memory on the shelves and went to look for something else.
We get up to go join Zoe on the floor, however, with our runestones and after sitting down, Zoe simply takes a couple of deep breaths before she slaps her palm down and I watch as her eyes roll up and she’s out while slumping down.
“She really trusts us,” I say while looking over at Jessica.
“Yup. Um… Akira, is it possible to compress everything into embers and then still do the other one? The one where we keep our mana empty?”
“Yes, you’ll need to be quick with the compression. If you are able to maintain your consciousness through the [Mana Depth], you will need to make sure you quickly place the rune stone onto the ground to dissipate your natural mana regen to strengthen your [Mana Pulse] ability.”
Settling in on the ground I prepare to do what I had done successfully twice yesterday. After feeling everything spinning, I go about compressing everything and find it a bit easier. While I still end up in my mana realm, I now count 35 new embers where the giantess’s hand is located. Off to the side, where the satchel is on her hip, I see another cluster of 48 embers from the past few days or so of effort. I think I can kind of also make out three of the faintest dust clouds I’ve seen yet that are slowly inching their way around.
Those must be the caterpillars that we’ve been forcing mana through for the last little while.
I can also see my recently neglected seed. We should definitely finish with that one or else we’ll be drowned by side projects.
I could now spin off 800 motes to explore my insecurities with my giantess body.
I noted this time the lack of the discharges from my main ember that were previously happening every twenty-some-odd seconds. Perhaps that is related to the constant discharging into the earth? I am not entirely sure, however, it is much more relaxing in here without the constant noise of it that would slowly be driving me insane.
After about two hours, I finally came to, feeling miserable and with a headache. I could see that Jessica was still out, as well as Zoe. I look for Akira to ask a question.
“Oh, am I the first to wake up?”
“Yes and no. Jessica already woke up and since you were slower, she went to strengthen her mana again. Zoe will still probably be out for another hour or so.”
“Wait, why was Jessica faster than me?”
“Have you been training your mana depth at all without increasing your pulse? If you have, you now generate mana slower and have more to fill while Jessica is more balanced.”
That should not be possible… Oh shit! Yesterday, could it really be that pronounced when I was creating embers when I could not sleep and because I did not increase my mana regen rate that I’m slower than Jessica?
I flush with a small blush but refuse to admit that I had indeed done that.
“I’m feeling pretty weak right now, am I really low on mana? Wouldn’t that take several hours to fully regenerate?”
“The training of mana pulse forces your body to adapt to being mana starved. Once the state is released, you regenerate your mana very quickly for a short period of time.”
Well, I could already feel the headache being gone during our short conversation. I carefully collect the small pile of 35 mana embers that are spilled onto the floor in front of me.
I do another dive after feeling that I’ve fully recovered in only ten or so minutes.
When doing this dive I was able to see that I obtained 41 embers and was able to generate 900 motes.
Odd that it increased, I was thinking everything was linear, however, there appears to be more that is going on. At least the motes are behaving as expected. I’m not complaining about the extra mana embers, but why 41? That irks me, it is not an easy round number like before…
Coming to once again it is late afternoon and as I look around the room, I see Jessica there smiling at me. She waves at me, as does Violet from within her hair, before she turns back to her rune stone and I see as she closes her eyes, that a bunch of mana embers seem to bubble out of the rune stone before she quickly flips her hand onto the ground
Violet catches her on the way down and she just continues to rest there.
While resting briefly, I ask Akira and he mentions that everyone is doing well. Zoe had initially taken three hours to recover so she went in for a final training which should take her about two hours and a bit. She will wake up first, before Jessica and me by a bit, but that should take us into the early evening and we’ll be able to be done for the day.
After resting for a little bit, I give it one final attempt to join Jessica and this is when everything that could go wrong does.
After diving into my mana realm, I’m able to count out that my anticipated 45 to 47 embers do not match up at all. I count it out several times and end up each time with 53.
I can finally spin-off a total of a thousand motes, which makes me feel really good. A small accomplishment, or maybe it is a big one, I’m not sure, but I can certainly see the difference with more of these motes filling my body as they sway around.
While having more mana embers is a good problem to have, counting them out I now have a nice stash of a 177 around me.
As I came to for the final time for today’s session. All I hear is screaming which I cannot place. It is shrill with coughing sporadically.
Please, make it stop, it hurts my head so much. I look around and see that Jessica and Zoe are gone. Well, that’s not a good sign if there ever was one.
I try to get up right away on a pair of shaky and numb legs. As I use the bench and table to help me get up and steady myself I’m not prepared for the chaos that I see.
Looking down the couple rows, I see blood in the doorway and on the floor.
Jessica and Zoe are up in the front row, standing and from the back, they look uninjured, which is good. However, they are presently trying to placate and de-escalate two people over the screaming of another unseen individual.
All the color drains from my face as I focus and see that Akira has a bloody knife in a reverse grip on the neck of a furious mage Flow. Akira’s left hand has mage Flow’s right hand twisted and there is an obvious break in mage Flow’s arm as there are three crooked segments in his right arm at present.
I see that there is also a knee in mage Flow’s groin which, depending on how fast it arrived could explain why there are so many veins bulging out in his face. However, he’s not saying a word as there is a fucking knife to his throat.
By the fucking devourer, what happened? Also, mage Flow’s eyes move to lock onto me and all I feel is my legs growing weaker…
Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…
It is at this time that I hear the screams from outside the door become dead quiet… Oh no…
*thud* … *thud*
Deep echoing footsteps echo down the hallway, each one hammers at my consciousness and my first thought is to run from this approaching beast. It is actually the only sound I hear besides the hammering of my heart. Like a death march, they approach, and dread continues to build within me.
Mage Flow has a sadistic grin on his face which quickly pales as Akira twists his broken arm further and pushes with his knee and knife up as a new party walks into the room.
Oh fuck me, it is the guild master and he looks to be furious as he glares daggers at Akira and his hostage...
“EXPLAIN! … NOW!” He says through gritted teeth as all the sounds come back to the world and the screaming in the hallway resumes.