Blue crackly bolts chased Sylphie, but she zoomed too fast for the evil Metal Man to catch up to her. She couldn’t out-zoom the bad laser, but Sylphie was super fast and super good at dodging those. Not that Sylphie was happy as Metal Man was the evilest Metal Man Sylphie had ever met!
Sylphie was happy mom and dad were at least not there, so evil Metal Man couldn’t bully them too. Not that Sylphie also didn’t bully back. It was just boring bullying. Metal Man didn’t care about Sylphies whooshes at all but just kept running. Sylphie did see the weird shiny skin on Metal Man react, and the wind told Sylphie metal man did get hurt, so she just kept going.
She would make the large box slowly be filled with her own whooshy winds and slowly cut the evil Metal Man until his shiny skin stopped being shiny! It was just boring. But Sylphie knew getting impatient could get her hurt. She had learned that, so she kept being super careful and stayed away from the evil man.
After about fifteen minutes of slicing the Metal Man, he probably thought Sylphie was getting tired, but Sylphie had a super trick. She flew away as she used her gift from Uncle and activated what people called a ”vest” and took out a small bottle from the big hidden pocket within.
Metal Man thought Sylphie would run out of wind power juice? Metal Man was wrong as Sylphie had a wind power juice bottle from Uncle that she quickly drank to continue!
She had to be super careful because Metal Man sometimes got in close and used many Metal Man tricks to try and catch her. At one time, Sylphie even had her wing whooshed off! It was super dangerous, but Sylphie was sure she would never get caught.
Sylphie was wrong.
Metal Man’s legs suddenly seemed to disappear as he mega-zoomed towards her just as Sylphie was turning. She tried to get away, but a net of crackly lightning bound her as Sylphie was grabbed. Dad had warned her a lot about this happening… how if she was ever caught, she would be in trouble.
Sylphie never got why, though?
She turned windy and flew away as Metal Man couldn’t hold onto her because holding onto wind was, like, super hard. She even managed to give him a good slap with her wing as she flew off! Metal Man kept chasing her after that, and it ended up taking a loooong time before finally Metal Man just stopped moving and stood still.
Sylphie tried to attack, but the Metal Man was still super tough. She tried to charge up a big attack, but suddenly Metal Man disappeared. Sylphie was confused and flew around for a bit before the big cube in the middle lit up and began blinking. Sylphie didn’t trust it and flew away.
”Use the teleporter on top of the monument.”
The stupid glowy dungeon man even tried to bait her into a trap!
”It is not a trap… the dungeon is over, but you need to go through for your final evaluation.”
Sylphie was taken aback… it could even read her mind!? Sylphie knew she couldn’t trust Glowy Man, who had made her fight Metal Man. They were clearly in it together. She kept circling the area, not trusting the bad cube. Until she got bored, that is, and decided to face the trap head-on!
She landed on the teleporter and was ready as she sent out wind blades everywhere when she appeared and even made a whirlwind to hide. Sylphie was super strong and tore apart the room filled with blinky things and weird metal stuff.
”There is no need for that!” Glowy Man yelled. Sylphie was still suspicious, but the wind was silent, and it didn’t seem dangerous, so she triumphantly dispelled her super wind magic and stared at the Glowy Man, who had finally admitted defeat.
”Finally… Okay, now for your evaluation… I… I’m gonna be honest… I am a bit unsure where to rate you. On the one hand, your survival skills and speed make you near-impossible to kill, but your damage outside of certain instantaneous strikes are downright horrendous.”
”REE!” Sylhpie screamed as Glowy Man was being super rude. She knew it was a trap! It was those things Uncle called mental attacks, wasn’t it?
”Alright! But, I simply cannot figure out what you are. Are you a beast or an elemental? Readings are inconclusive.”
Once more, Glowy Man asked weird stuff. Sylphie was Sylphie.
”The tangible form displayed most of the time indicates beast, but the intangible wind transformation was not a skill or anything, but simply a natural change of form…”
Sylphie looked around the room curiously as Glowy Man was being weird.
”Moreover, while the magic displayed did belong predominately to the wind-affinity, it is not merely that. Measurement devices detect high-level concepts this dungeon is simply not designed to measure. The readings also indicate you are not even a year old, yet the magic contains traces of ancientness, which are contradictory. Perhaps it is-”
Sylphie began pecking some of the metal duds around the room as Glowy Man kept being weird and talking to himself. Uncle sometimes talked to himself, but not this much. Sylphie was getting pretty bored as there wasn’t anything interesting in the room. At least nothing she could get to.
Finally, the Glowy Man stopped doing that weird stuff.
”Anyway, I will conclude this falls within the realm of the trial being inconclusive. You did not manage to defeat the Census Golem but only had it retreat as it ran out of power. Yet I cannot tell who the ultimate winner would be. Now, giving beasts rewards in a dungeon is a bit more complicated than with the enlightened, but we of the Altmar Empire do have means.”
And that is how Sylphie got some tasty snacks and a cool medal with a weird squiggly thing on it.
Four more days had passed since Jake successfully made Meira realize she was gonna begin to take lessons, and she had just returned from her first one. It was the one about finding your own path, and she certainly looked deep in thought afterward. She had still gone to report to Jake, but he had just told her to go to her residence and reflect on the lesson instead.
Jake learned that Meira had her own token already, too, though it was quite a bit different from Jake’s. He learned it was a “subordinate token” of sorts and was bound to his own. The reason for this was obvious as it would allow a master to send out their slaves or servants to buy things or even book lessons for them. To Jake, it meant he could have Meira handle stuff herself, though he did have to give permissions for her to sign up for any lessons or even make purchases. Luckily he could program the token to just approve any lesson bookings by itself.
Naturally, the token also allowed her to use all the teleportation gates scattered throughout the entire Order, and he also gave her all-access to those. So even if Meira wanted to consult him on things, he could avoid her as she could do everything by herself already.
Jake also had the excuse that his own first “real” lesson was beginning. It was a simple one merely called Essential Concocting Methods & Tricks: Aimed At New Members of the Order.
The name was a bit shameless and quite honestly genius marketing on the teacher’s part. Jake also quickly learned this lesson restarted once a month while taking twenty-five days in total. Each lesson was only two hours too, so it usually fit well around other lessons. From the looks of it, it was also a constant thing that repeated every single month with no real breaks. The teacher was a C-grade scalekin, and the evaluation of the lesson was overwhelmingly positive. To put it simply, it was a must-have for most new attendants of the Order, and even Reika would participate. It was also mega-cheap at only 3 AC, but Jake reckoned the teacher made up for it by sheer volume through cornering the market.
When the time to leave came, Jake activated the token and stepped through the gate as the two prior times. He instantly took in the sight of the massive hall that was even larger than the one about combat cauldrons. Sure, it didn’t match a freaking mountain top in sheer size, but it was still massive.
However, that was not the most noteworthy thing. The instant he appeared he sensed a presence in the room that was oddly familiar. He instantly whipped his head around as he stared across the hall, seeing a woman standing with a red orb of sorts in hand. She stared down at it and, a second later, looked up as she made eye contact with Jake.
Jake used Identify as he felt one also impact himself, naturally showing his level at 183 – that’s right, he had faked a level-up.
However, even so… the woman was powerful and had an unexpected race.
[Dragonkin – lvl 199]
Jake felt a bit confused as she did not at all look like a Dragonkin. She looked far more like an elf, pointy ears and all, with nothing indicating for her to be a Dragonkin besides the two small curved horns on her head, not unlike the A-grade dragon in human form.
She was clearly D-grade, though. Peak D-grade and Jake’s initial estimation when looking at her were not in his favor if it came down to a fight. It was even worse than the damn Hydra by a fair deal.
The two of them stared at each other across the room as Jake’s beastly eyes met the deep orange ones of the dragonkin. She smiled and nodded as Jake mimicked her nod of recognition.
It was not often you met others with Bloodlines. In fact, it was his first time since coming to the Order, not counting Villy, of course.
Neither of them made any moves to further communicate, but he did see her take out some kind of token as she went to take a seat. Jake did notice that a lot of people seemed to have taken an interest in her as she was practically swarmed, and it was only her relatively unapproachable aura that kept them at bay.
Looking about, he also spotted Draskil, who was having an even worse situation as he was utterly surrounded by a disproportionally female fanbase. Nearly as disproportionate as the male fanbase following the female dragonkin. Jake recognized grifters when he saw them, and it was almost comforting to know sycophants were a multiversal phenomenon.
Jake was also approached by a few people, but he didn’t really engage as he found somewhere and took a seat. He found himself sitting between two young men, one of them a scalekin and the other an elf, both barely level 100. Both of them nodded in recognition at him. He had the fake Lesser blessing, so even if he wasn’t a true standout, he still stood out a little bit.
There were quite a lot of blessings scattered throughout. Villy had really gone all-out in the way of blessing his followers, especially in the younger generation. Most were naturally minor blessings which Jake remembered Villy once mentioned he could give out like free samples at a supermarket. Yes, that exact metaphor.
A good amount of lesser ones were also present, a single Major blessing and then Jake’s new good friend Draskil and his Divine Blessing, putting the majority of the spotlight on him. This meant Jake could relatively fade into the background. Well, besides the mysterious woman with the Bloodline, but it didn’t look like anyone had noticed her and Jake’s brief exchange.
This allowed him to just sit down and relax as the lesson began a minute or so later. Everyone shut up when a scalekin appeared down on stage. He had muted yellow scales, and Jake clearly felt the aura of a C-grade.
“Welcome to my first lesson where I will teach you essential methods and tricks to concocting. After years of researching and recognizing common mistakes and oversights by new members of the Order, this lesson has been put together and then further refined and improved over centuries. I am certain many of you will hear much you already know and perhaps find elementary. However, each of us comes from different backgrounds and paths, and what is standard to you might be novel to another. Just know there is no shame in ignorance, as long as you actively strive to eliminate it and improve yourself,” the scalekin said in an oddly soothing tone as he reminded Jake of a kind grandfather more than some powerful C-grade.
The words also set a precedent and a mood as he began explaining concocting in incredibly simple terms. He talked about the importance of mana control and practicing mana control even outside of alchemy and mentioned how many could buy puzzles and other training tools. He advised people to learn telekinesis if they hadn’t already, just by using mana to control objects.
He mentioned the importance of knowing your cauldron. How one had to eliminate unwanted properties in poison before using it, and how some remnants could stay in the cauldron if you failed to clean it adequately afterward. All of this was still incredibly basic to Jake, but he didn’t look down on anyone. As the teacher had said, being ignorant was just a temporary state of being if one was willing to learn.
There were some interesting comments on concocting in there, especially when it came to merging poison, and Jake even had a few times where he recognized he had made minor mistakes in the past. Like how he often didn’t properly consider the order of items added to a concoction properly, or how he missed out on some synergistic effects that were easily achieved.
As Jake was still deeply engrossed, the lesson was suddenly over.
“Thank you all for attending the first lesson. Today we only covered the most basic things, so if you feel disappointed currently, let us hope tomorrow will bring something enlightening. I sincerely wish to see you all again, and thank you for attending.”
The scalekin bowed, and without thinking much, Jake mimicked those around him as he also got up and bowed in return. Not that he needed to think. He had gone to university for five years, gone to dozens of seminars, and even attended two other lessons in the Order… but this one had been the first Jake had lost track of time during.
Not a doubt in his mind existed that the teacher on the stage below had skills related to teaching and speaking, coupled with an incredible natural talent. It was not at all a surprise why this lesson was so highly rated, even if it seemed so mundane.
People eventually began leaving, and Jake planned on too but felt a presence approach. He looked over and saw the female dragonkin make her way towards him, and Jake instantly cursed inside.
She didn’t stop but went straight for where Jake was as those around him gladly made a path.
The dragonkin stopped before him as she bowed slightly and asked: “Excuse me, do you have a moment?”
Jake felt the gazes of hundreds of men upon him, hatred burning in their eyes. He tried to ignore them as he asked, hoping this would be quick. “I do, but I am not certain what for?”
He should at least be polite, right? It would be rude to just reject her, and he was a bit curious what her Bloodline was all about as he guessed it had to be about that. However, his answer earned him the ire of the fan group behind the dragonkin, something she somehow masterfully ignored. Her answer definitely didn’t help either.
“I was hoping we could speak somewhere more… privately.”
The hatred of men spiked as everyone around them heard her words.
“Just the two of us.”
And Jake felt like his school life was truly not going to be a nice and peaceful time.