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Ch012-On The Road

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“So who's winning?” Henra asked after sitting through almost 4 hours of Sylver and Edna playing cards. They changed games into a different one called ‘push’.

An extremely simple game, two people draw a card from their deck, and whoever has the higher card wins. The game ends when the decks run out, and whoever has the most wins, wins that round. Edna explained that it was an extremely popular game in her hometown, and she was the undisputed champion.

Sylver in turn knew the game from playing it with Nyx and Aether. As well as it being a training exercise for most novice mages. Surprisingly, he had an easy time winning against Nyx but only won twice against Aether. And Sylver was fairly certain those two times, Aether let him win.

“We’re playing best of 35 right now. Syl is in the lead by 17.” Edna said between losing another hand.

“He’s been playing the exact same card for 20 turns now. How is that fair?” Henra asked, as Sylver played the ace of hearts, for the 21st time and won the round.

“It’s not. But I can’t figure out how he’s doing it, so it’s not cheating.” Edna explained. Her hair was floating and glowing with green energy by this point, and Sylver’s skin felt prickly from her mana spreading out.

“Is this your only trick?” Henra asked Sylver, as he played the ace of hearts for the 22nd time.

“Of course not. But it’s still working, so I’m going to keep using it. No point revealing the rest of the tricks up my sleeve until she figures this one out,” Sylver said, playing the ace of hearts for the 23rd time. He wasn’t about to be goaded into stopping this particular line of attack.

“Is it even fun for you?” Henra asked as he played the ace of hearts, to no one’s surprise.

“Extremely. I’ve never had such a one-sided match in my life. Not from the winning side, I mean.” Sylver said, playing, yet again, the ace of hearts.

“You’re telling me there’s someone even better than you?” Edna asked, her eyes wide with shock. She’d lost before, but never like this.

“We’ve had 722 games, and I only won 2 of them,” Sylver answered, as his favorite card trumped Edna’s queen of hearts.

“Is he in Arda? Can he teach me-”

“He’s dead,” Sylver interjected. All three passengers of the carriage were silent for a while. Sylver was surprised how much just saying those words hurt him. You’d think after spending who knows how long, doing nothing but grieving, he’d get over it.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Edna said.

“It’s alright. He would have been glad I’m using his method to win like this.” Sylver said, playing the ace of hearts.

Edna just looked down at the card, without playing her own. Sylver could see the moment it clicked.

“Transmutation. Fuck me, why didn’t I think of that!” Edna shouted all the sullenness in the carriage replaced with her infectious joy. Since he was doing it anyway, Sylver simply sped up the process of not thinking about Aether.

“I can raise the dead. Compared to that, moving a few pieces of ink around is nothing.” Sylver said proudly. It was such nothing magic, that he didn’t even get a skill for using it. Although his new understanding of how skills and the system works is to be believed, he just didn’t meet the requirements for it. Or the system could tell he was jerry-rigging the magic to get access to transmutation magic and wasn’t about to give him actual powers of transmutation.

Compared to how much useful information he got out of Edna these past two days, he almost wanted to tell her about the needle. But thankfully he kept that, and a lot of other extremely valuable information, secret. He was starved for companionship, not stupid. And just because she spoke with the same passion as Oska, didn’t mean she was her.

*

Another day came and went, with absolutely nothing to show for it. With little to do, Sylver used his time to practice with optical and auditory illusions.

[Optical Illusion (I) Proficiency increased to 74%!]

[Auditory Illusion (I) Proficiency increased to 7%!]

And it turned out to be a huge waste of time and mana. Granted, he didn’t have a whole lot to do, given how Edna had her own job, and Essa and Henra refused to play cards with him. He went to play with the merchants but got a very bad feeling about playing with them. Deciding to stay on the safe side, he simply gave up on the idea.

He found that making detailed illusions worked better for increasing proficiency than making large ones. That said, it still increased so slowly, he ultimately gave up on it.

[Appraisal (I) Proficiency increased to 4%!]

Using appraisal on everything he could see, ended up giving him a huge headache. For an insultingly small increase in his proficiency. So that was also put on hold.

*

*

*

“No. Look. Don’t move your pinkie. Cross the pointer and ring, and use the thumb to direct it.” Sylver said, demonstrating with his hand. The small campfire’s flame extended upwards into the sky and spiraled around for a few seconds, before returning to normal.

[Spell [Control Flame] added to spell list!]
[Control Flame: Tier I]
Cost: 19MP/S
-Control a flame.

“Like this?” Edna asked, still moving her pinkie.

“No. Look,” Sylver repeated. The flame once again leaped up into the air and circled around before dissipating.

“Like this?” Edna asked.

The campfire exploded into a torrent of light, sending embers and showers of sparks every which way. Already on his feet Sylver was wiping the glowing coals off his recently repaired robe, and waved his hand in a circle, putting out the tiny embers and snuffing out the tiny wisps of fire.

Feeling his face he was glad none had reached it, and even luckier his hair was still in one piece. Edna however was not so fortunate. Aside from the char on the side of her cheek and nose, there was also the fact that her entire left side went completely bald. From her eyebrows, to her hair, it was all burned away.

“I did it!” Edna shouted, raising her hands in the air and quickly realizing she was about to catch on fire, and hastily wiping the black coal chunks off her robe. She was distracted on a particularly large piece of burned wood, that had fused itself with her robe, and was now stuck to it. She finally managed to rip it off her before she got burned by it, and looked up at the ash-covered Sylver.

“Sweet Pallas, are you alright?!” Edna asked, walking over to Sylver and trying to use healing magic out of pure reflex.

Gasping at the burning sensation, much harder than when he was physically burned, he shoved Edna away, stopping the pain immediately. The skin on his hands was red but wouldn’t be forming any blisters thankfully.

“Sorry!” Edna said, getting off the floor and brushing herself off. “But look!” She said, pointing at the remains of the campfire and producing a tiny stream of fire from its remains. She was still moving her pinkie, but somehow the spell still worked.

After a quick explanation to Essa, who had appeared out of nowhere with her daggers drawn, both Sylver and Edna went back to their seats.

After a few minutes of green pulses of healing magic, Edna’s hair and eyebrow were back to normal.

“Do you want to try again? I’ll catch the explosion if it happens.” Sylver said. His hands were itchy, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it right now. If someone came and attacked them, it would be great, but it’s been 5 days since he killed those 8 men and nothing since. Some of the merchants were saying that the other bandit groups saw the fight, or heard about it somehow, and were now choosing to stay away, just to be safe.

Seems like the soul-eating necromancer thing was being taken a whole lot more seriously than Sylver was expecting.

“Are you going to be ok?” She asked, interlacing her fingers, and staring down into her lap.

“I’ll be fine. You stopped in time, so it will pass in a few hours.” Sylver said, resisting the urge to scratch his hands, and simply massaging them to get the blood flowing quicker.

“Again, I’m so sorry about that,” Edna said, sniffling slightly as she spoke.

“It’s not your fault. This is the reason I don’t party up with people with positive magic, and this was a good reminder for it. Just be careful that it doesn’t happen again.” Sylver said. Despite the fact that he was biologically younger than the girl, mentally he was significantly older. Even without counting however long he was in that needle without anything to do but float around and cry over everyone he had lost.

And this whole situation was making him remember when Sonya slammed him against the ceiling and broke his neck. Granted this was nothing like this, but he recognized body language and the trembling voice. Right now Edna was probably thinking of never using fire magic ever again, because of how easy it is to harm someone with it. Sonya thought the same about her gravity magic, but thankfully understood that it’s not the magic to be blamed, but her lack of control.

“On the bright side, pun intended, that was an excellent explosion. A quick burst of light, especially at night, can downright stun some enemies. Try it again, but only the sparks this time.” Sylver said, trying to sound as positive as possible. The itching was going away, but damn did he want to scratch it!

“How? I thought it was just to manipulate fire?” Edna asked. Thankfully some of the shaking in her voice disappeared. Sylver had briefly forgotten he was talking to a grown woman for a bit and didn’t realize this was probably not the first time something like this had happened to her. Which was good, since he didn’t know Edna well enough to properly comfort her for burning him.

“It is. But if you crush fire hard enough, it sends sparks everywhere. Without moving your pinkie, very slowly drag your thumb from the left to the right.” Sylver explained, demonstrating the gesture.

A tiny flame rose out of the repaired campfire, circled within itself, and when Sylver snapped his thumb to the right, exploded into a blinding shower of sparks.

Copying him Edna did the same thing. The fire lazily rose out of the campfire, before dissipating. Trying again, the fire jumped in the air, but no sparks came. Her next attempt caused the fire to flow downwards, like water.

But after only half an hour, and several explosions, she finally managed to get a spark going.

“I think I got the hang of it…” Enda said, moving the sparks around and trying to form them into a sphere. They, and the campfire, exploded once again, but thankfully just harmlessly bounced off the small barrier Sylver had erected.

“I’m only thinking of it now, but as a druid, shouldn’t fire be off limits to you?” Sylver asked, forcing the embers back into the campfire.

“Affinity and class are separate. A water mage can still use fire, just not as effectively. And I'm not a pure druid, I've got another class that this spell would fall under quite well.” Edna explained. She repeated the gesture and got the sparks going faster this time.

“But are you sure? I know it’s a 1st tier spell, but still…” Edna said, her gaze focused on the 9 times ruined fire pit.

“Well with the whole, soul-eating necromancer thing, Henra started, it’d be good if at least someone went around telling people I’m a friendly magic-user,” Sylver said.

And considering how valuable what you’ve taught me about the system is, a harmless 1st tier fire spell is the least I could do.

“Even so… Is there anything you want in exchange? I have a few rare spell components, and I don’t mind giving them to someone who would put them to good use.” Edna said. She reached into her robe and pulled out a triangular satchel, covered in zippers in the same way Essa’s was.

Holding it in his hand, Sylver considered that while it looked tacky, zippers might actually be the way to go. His little sack in comparison looked old and disheveled, despite being brand new.

Searching through it, he pulled his hand out with a yelp. Nearly dropping the satchel, he opened it a little wider and used his glowing finger to see inside.

“What do you use silver for? I thought that was only for priests or other holy classes?” Sylver asked.

“It’s for a modifier. I can coat the claws and teeth of my summons with silver. Very potent when fighting with the undead. And sorry for not warning you, I forgot I had them. But i’ve seen you hold silver coins, why did this hurt?” Edna asked.

Carefully looking through the other segments Sylver took out a small red stone. “Purity. Silver coins are low enough in silver content, that I don’t even feel it. Could I take this?” Sylver asked, holding the red stone in between his fingers.

“Sure. Could you tell me what for?” Edna asked, taking back the satchel. Sylver in turn used the fire to observe the stone closer.

[Bricksauge - 12g - poor quality]

“I almost want to keep it a surprise. But given how I doubt we are going to be getting in a fight anytime soon, it’s for-”

“We’re being attacked,” Essa said, from Sylver’s back, causing him to flinch and almost drop the stone.

“Surprise it is. How many?” Sylver asked, getting off the floor and running after the incredibly quick woman. Edna followed next to him, whispering spells on herself.

“I counted 5. But there’s a few lurking in the shadows, so I don’t have an exact figure.” Essa said. With just a flick of her wrist, there was a dagger in her hand, covered in a fine black dust that stopped any and all shine. “Henra is guarding the caravan and said for you to take the frontal assault. Edna and I will handle the others.”

“Great!” Sylver responded, breaking off from the small group, and running around the caravan towards the 5 people, currently being held back by a wall of swords Henra had created.

At his arrival, the group of five immediately jumped backwards, with Henra doing the same and getting closer to the caravan.

Wiping the dust and ash off his robes, Sylver held his head high and walked towards the group. 4 were men dressed in dark leather armor, and holding either a two-handed sword or a sword and shield. And in the back was a woman wearing a grey robe, somewhat similar to Edna’s.

[Human (Mage) - ??]

Thanks, appraisal, I wouldn't have guessed otherwise.

“Gentlemen! And lady! Surrender now, and I’ll offer you a painless death!” Sylver shouted.

While the group exchanged glances, shadows slithered away from Sylver’s and made their way into the tree line surrounding them.

One of the men with the two-handed sword stepped forward.

“My name is Asland Eldorian! You killed my brother! Prepare to die!” the man shouted. His body began to light up, as his sword started to vibrate in his hands.

“Which brother? That one?” Sylver asked, gesturing behind the man.

To their credit, not a single one of them looked back.

Until of course Fen stabbed the woman in grey through the skull.

The splatter of blood caused the other three to look back, and Dai and Sho already kicked the back of their knees and pushed them down onto the floor. The last one standing, roared with anger, raising his claymore up above his head, and getting a dagger under either armpit. Reg pushed the daggers forward, cutting the man’s chest open and exposing his lungs to the cold air.

The two surviving members on the floor were kicked in the head by Fen, knocking one out, then the other.

The guy who’s name Sylver had already forgotten, and whose brother he had apparently killed, looked back at him, and met his eyes.

“I challenge you to a duel! I place my life and honor on the line!” The man shouted.

Good idea too, considering he was between a man who could kill with a touch, and 4 well armed shades.

“I refuse! I don’t care about your life and if you want a proper duel, come during the day, and not when the people I’m guarding are being threatened!” Sylver answered back, walking towards the man.

“How dare you refuse a duel! You overgrown-”

Whatever the man had planned to say, was interrupted by an arrow flying past his head. He blocked the one from the back with his sword and stepped out of the way from the one coming from this left. He twirled the giant greatsword around effortlessly, causing sparks to fly whenever he blocked an arrow from hitting him.

Between his grunts, and pale glow from skills, the man didn’t say a whole lot. Locked in place with arrows firing from 4 directions. His attention was misplaced, as Sylver wrapped his arm around his neck, and pulled as hard as he could.

Spinning the sword around, the man tried to get the large blade to swing at his back, with the intent of getting Sylver in the process, but two swings from Dai and Sho knocked the overly large sword out of his hands. Trying to claw and punch Sylver, he found his hands grabbed and held by the shadowy swordsmen.

He struggled for only a few seconds, as Sylver drained every piece of health and mana from him.

The itching from his hands disappeared instantly, and even the tiny burns on his chest closed up. Walking over to the two passed out men, he drained them too and gave the excess overflowing energy a second to settle down.

[Human (Mage) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 16!
+5AP

He gave his shades some time to return to his shadow, the archers in the treeline taking the longest, and when everyone was back in place, he ran towards the area he could hear the sound of metal hitting metal coming from.

Sylver arrived just in time to see Essa using a garotte to choke the life out of a giant of a man, and Edna pointing with her staff at two archers, who were both bleeding from their eyes. Off in the corner was a deer made of green light, stabbing a woman armed with a spear to death with its antlers. Other similarly dressed corpses were in various states of damage, either strangled to death by tree roots, decapitated, blue in the face from one poison or another, and just gored to death by a wild beast of some kind.

“Is there anyone else?” Sylver shouted at either of them. Essa looked up from tightening the garotte and gestured with her head towards a large man, running away in the distance.

With all the excess stamina in his system, Sylver reached the guy before he had even realized it. The man stopped dead in his tracks and just stared at him. He was a tall man, very well built, and wearing slightly rusty steel plate armor.

“Please! I’m sorry, I don’t want to die!” The man screamed, trying to back away. Sylver walked towards him, getting closer and closer.

“I have a wife and family!” The man explained, tears rolling down his eyes.

“You do? I had no idea. Leave your sword in that case, and you’re free to go.” Sylver offered, walking towards the man who was constantly backing up.

“N-No, please, just let me go.” The man begged, his sword still hidden within its sheaf.

“I will. Just drop your sword. I realize the idea that I, or the other adventurers, or the merchants might have families never crossed your mind. Now take out your sword, and drop it.” Sylver offered again, putting on a friendly smile. But in the dark of the night, and with the two walking shadows behind him, it didn’t have the intended effect.

The man’s crying face slowly turned into one of uncertainty, as he kept walking backward, without looking at where he was going.

He finally came to a decision, just as Fen’s rapier entered through a small gap in the back of the man’s helmet, and pierced his skull, the tip of the blade coming out of the man’s mouth, like a long red tongue.

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 20 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

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KingKennit

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