“I think this should do it…”

Roland was sitting in a well-lit room through which he could see the sparkling city. Even now he could hear people shouting and talking while having fun. He on the other hand had different things to worry about, after heading out into the night and avoiding a few drunks he had managed to stock up on some smithing tools.

“This hammer cost more than it should, even when you leave a city you can’t get away from those damn scamming dwarves…”

In his hand, he was holding a hammer made from regular metals. While he would prefer to have one made from more resistant deepsteel this was fine. It didn’t need to last for long as he only wanted to repair his armor. The runic structures that had gained blemishes from his skill use could only be replaced by way of rune smithing.

There was an actual way of repairing these runes without using his regular rune smithing skill. He had a skill that allowed him to upgrade lower graded runes. This one he did not use during combat as it was quite mana intensive. That mana he needed to buff the beam of deaths that allowed him to survive.

“In theory, if I combine rune mending with rune upgrade I could continuously restore the runes into the highest grade, that is if I have enough mana for it as it stands I could probably do it at most twice with this armor.”

While Roland had an astonishing amount of mana for his level it would still run out. Using both of the skills on something like a basic runic sword was also different than using them on the complex runic armor that he was wearing. The armor was composed of various runic components that needed to be precisely aligned with each other. The skills targeted the entire structure and not the smaller components so it would burn through a lot of MP which was needed during his battles.

“I guess the basics are still the best.”

He was in an inn that was not built for what he was about to do. Luckily he only needed to cover the floor with some metal and block the sound from escaping outside. This he did thanks to his old spell he used during his travels. With it on no one would be able to hear the loud hits that the hammer would produce against the runic armor.

‘Let me get to work then.’

After picking up the hammer from the ground he placed one of the gauntlets on a piece of thick steel that he also bought. Without activating the debugging skill he already knew that this piece wasn’t looking too great. The mending skill destroyed a lot of pathways and even some components, it was a miracle that this armor didn’t become just a shiny slab of metal instead.

With one big swing, he gathered the required mana and smacked the gauntlet to insert it into the metal. The unseen pathways started glowing with a blue hue that represented the basic mana in this world as they took shape. The clogged-up traces that have even fused with others started parting and returning to their original shape.

It took him about thirty minutes to get through the first piece of gear and he continued to work through the entirety of the night. Without a proper forge and tools, he was unable to soften the metal and if he tried to do it here with the help of a fire spell he would probably set the whole inn on fire.

“It’s already morning?”

Roland wiped the sweat from his brow after he noticed a ray of light entering through the window. It was a bright and sunny day outside as he had worked through the entire night without taking a rest.

“This should be enough though…”

After giving out a sigh he looked at the spread-out armor pieces on the ground. There was not enough time to get his armor into its original shape. What he could do was repair the most damaged parts that would otherwise cause major issues if he tried casting spells. But this was not the end, he still had his rune upgrade skill with him. While normally there was no reason to use it over basic rune smithing in a situation like this it would shine.

There was a moment of hesitation before using the skill. There was a slight problem with the skill as it could fail. Multiple uses of it could cause the runic structure to degrade even further than they already were. The patch-up job he had done was to protect the most damaged runes.

“Never been a fan of RNG…”

Finally, Roland decided to go through with it, before the attempt he replenished his lost mana with a potion. The armor was one piece of runic equipment and the skill would treat it as one closed system. If it was successful the entire suit of armor would go up a grade. This all depended on various elements which involved his level, stats, and even other skills related to runes along with pure luck.

“I only have a maximum of two attempts…”

Just as any of the magical skills that increased the ranking of anything there was a chance of them backfiring. This skill allowed him to at most get two free shots in with the second also having a very low chance of failure. He had tested it out several times and came to the conclusion that going past two tries would be too dangerous.

“Of course, it fails on the first one…”

Roland had activated the skill which surrounded the whole armor with an orange glow. This color slowly shifted to red which indicated that the skill had failed. Now he had a decision to make, would he risk a second failure that would force him to repair the armor again or go for broke.

With a small nod, he continued with the second try. The runes started glowing orange before the radiance took over the whole suit of armor. Now on the other hand instead of the red color, it turned to green. To someone like him that could see the runic traces and pathways clearly the change was noticeable.

From the high grade that he managed to fix it up, it changed to the highest after being upgraded. This would be the last time that he would be able to use the skill on this armor with such a large possibility of success. There was some kind of hidden counter that would be remembered by this world’s game-like system.

As with every skill that he had, Roland performed several tests. When spacing out the upgrades the timer didn’t seem to vanish and the skill was prone to more failures the more he kept using it. Perhaps if he waited a year or longer it would have been reset but this would be hard to confirm.

After inspecting the armor once more he decided to put it back on. With the sun coming out he was ready to return to the docks. Besides the tools, he had also acquired a replacement for his robe that had seen better days before. His armor made him stand out like always and he could not risk drawing in too many eyes.

With that in mind, he left the inn that he was staying at without eating breakfast. The city was a lot more silent at this time of day. With such an active nightlife in this city, they obviously had a different cycle. The streets were filled with broken bottles and passed out drunks that were being removed by some city workers. Probably before the next party started everything would have been tidied up.

“I think it should be this pier…”

He had noted down where the ship he needed to watch out for would be docking at. But this was not the modern world, the ships didn’t stick to a full timetable. The woman only stated that the ship is due to arrive in the morning but that could very well be a few hours.

While waiting he also remembered his voyage toward this island. It was a first for him to travel out in the sea and they had even encountered monsters. If he was unlucky the ship might not even arrive, it could have been pillaged by pirates or devoured by some sea creature with tentacles.

Thus while he was waiting he spotted a stall at which someone was cooking some fish. He had ignored food due to the armor repairs so he was still hungry. Working through the night burned through a lot of calories that needed to be regained. After eating a proper meal a hidden buff was given that caused some benefits so this would also help him recover any mana that he had previously lost.

It was quite an interesting sight to behold. The fish were set out on skewers that were perfect to carry around. They were being dipped by the vendor in something that resembled oil. If he had to compare it to his old world then it looked like a magical version of a deep fryer. He could not spot any coal or wood being used to heat the large pan up.

‘It doesn’t feel like a runic item, probably some low-level enchantment.’

Thanks to his mana sense he was able to detect a small amount of mana coming from the stall. It was quite the wondrous source of power that replaced electricity in this world and apparently in cities like this it was cheap enough for even vendors to use it. Thus he just pointed toward one of the skewers to get his fix.

“Please come again!”

The old man smiled after receiving the small silver coin from Roland. While the food wasn’t the cheapest, the taste wasn’t bad. It was actually better than the regular food that he came across in other inns in this kingdom.

‘Can’t judge a book by its cover.’

Without much to do, he found himself an empty barrel and started looking towards the sea. Many ships were arriving and the same number were also leaving. It seemed that this place was being managed by whoever was in charge. If the ships were delayed the person that owned the cargo would lose money as they would not be able to continue their trade.

This was a stark contrast to the city that he was living in. There was no order back there, the dwarves and merchants were doing what they pleased. They could bully other businesses into shutting down and make it incredibly hard for anyone else to gain any money. Here on the other hand it looked like everyone was competing with each other for customers. Thanks to this the items they sold had to actually hit a certain standard.

‘At least if it comes to the food that might be true but the dwarven shops aren't dropping their prices much.’

Roland was not sure what the union was doing but it was monopolizing this island’s weapon and armor trade. He could not spot any shops that weren’t under the union’s umbrella, their logo was even plastered on the human-run shops. Luckily the dwarves from this city didn’t know him so he was able to get the tools to repair his gear.

In the distance, he also saw a gaudy-looking white building. It stuck out like a sore thumb and didn’t match the architecture of the other buildings. It was a large white church with golden outlines that represented the sun. It towered over everything that was there and was still placed closer to the commoner districts than the noble ones.

This was of course the temple that belonged to the Solaria church. They had a strategic placement between the poor and the rich so that they could receive donations from both sides. While looking at this temple he started thinking about the cult and how the reaction to their location was awfully fast and convenient.

‘It’s as if they were waiting for Loreena, they must not have been stationed far from here to arrive this fast.’

Their reaction was far too fast, it would take some time to rally that many high level knights and an inquisitor of that level. In Roland’s mind, they had to suspect that the cultists were somewhere in this region and they were waiting for a sign. Perhaps Loreena wasn’t the only hidden agent patrolling the lands, she was just the lucky one that managed to live through the cult’s illusion trap. Luckily for him, the woman didn’t ask too many questions and allowed him to leave.

Now the only problem was her grandfather that could spill the beans to his father if they ever ran into each other. For this fact he needed to get home as fast as he could and go back down into the dungeon. His father or even the cult could come back with a vengeance and he needed to prepare for such an occasion even if it was minuscule.

“Could that be it?”

After finishing his food he finally noticed a ship approaching the pier. It was a medium sized galleon that looked like it went through some hard times. There was some damage here and there as if it had been smacked around by something. Yet it was moving forward and the sails were in working order.

“Wait… haven’t I seen that ship somewhere before?”

While sitting there he narrowed his eyes. The ship looked a lot more beaten up but it did fit the one in his memory. When he arrived on this island all those years ago he was carried over by a similar vessel. Could have been the same one or was it just a mass-produced model that shared a resemblance. The other ships in the port had many similarities with each other as well so it was possible.

Yet the moment it docked it became more apparent that this was the ship that carried him over to Albrook. The confirming factor was a certain large bouncy chest that to this day was hard to forget. It belonged to a woman that was wearing a tricorn hat while standing behind a group of sailors that were ready to disembark.

“Move yer asses, I wants all o' this cargo out o' here by the end o' this day.”

“But cap'n, everyone be tired how about we allow everyone t' take a wee break?”

A large dark-skinned woman with a cross-shaped scar on her chest was shouting at one of the sailors. From what he picked up she was the captain here, if Roland’s memory was correct then she had moved up in the world. Previously she was only the first mate, this meant that either the old captain had retired or had died and she inherited the ship from him.

This also brought back the sexual harassment part of the voyage from before. The woman had a thing for younger men and was quite pushy. Luckily she didn’t go too far and he was able to spend the trip to Albrook without getting assaulted. It seemed that he would need to put himself under the line of fire again but perhaps she had matured with age just as anyone else would.

“Excuse me, I’ve heard that you are accepting passengers, I wish to go to Vita if that’s possible?”

While the sailors started unpacking he didn’t wait to ask the question. If it turned out that the ship would sail to Vita he would need to alter his plans. With the captain just standing there it was the best way of getting information.

“Who do we 'ave here, an adventurer? Ye wants t' sail on me ship?”

Roland was a large man and the armor only made him bulkier. The dark robe that he was hiding it under made him look like he was looking for trouble. For this reason, he went against one of his rules and decided to not walk around with his helmet on. Instead, he just covered his face with the hood but when in close proximity his face could be clearly seen.

“Yes, how much will it cost…”

“Ye be in luck young scallywag, 'twon't cost ye that much…”

For some reason when the woman caught a glimpse of his face she started smiling. Yet this was not the worst part as suddenly he heard a high-pitched scream coming from the ship which was followed by someone jumping down from it. What he spotted were two young women quite similar to the captain in appearance and upper assets.

“Big sis wha' are ye grinnin' about, let me see.”

“Wha' ye two doin' shoutin' about?”

The two homed in on the conversation that he and the ship captain were having and surrounded him from all sides. Their gazes were focused on his partially covered face and his shiny armor.

‘Am I in danger?’

A note from Kuropon


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