There was not much for us to do on our trip to Huthwaite. There really were not many threats to the caravan rolling down the gravelly road. Well, it was not much of a road around Ghostlight. But the further we went from the town— the closer we reached civilization— the more well-kept the roads looked.
Vegetation sprouted in a lush, vibrant green. There were flowers here. Flowers! I had seen some flowers around Ghostlight— near the Plaguelands. Maybe there had been a few petals growing between rocks in Unarith. However, these were real flowers. The kind I would see in Nixa.
I picked one off the ground, and deflated when I realized I killed it.
“What did you think was going to happen, Salvos?”
Daniel gave me a blank look. I shrugged.
“I forgot, ok?!”
“What did you think was going to happen? If I chopped you from your legs, do you think you’d be fine?”
“I was curious— and they looked pretty!”
He shook his head.
“I am not!”
Other than that brief moment of quipping, there really was nothing eventful after Edithe advanced her Class. That was exciting, at least. However, while I had thought she would glow, be overcome with something sparkly, or at least have something happen to her— she did not change.
It was not like an evolution. I noticed some minute differences. The most defining trait that was different about Edithe was not anything physical. Instead, the aura of mana she exuded seemed to increase. It was not something I could definitely measure.
But I saw the way the strands of mana in the air bent around her. Like a powerful force field that would disrupt its surroundings. It would not be something I saw from afar. But as her companion— someone who was familiar and up close with her— I noticed it.
“Do you feel anything different, Edithe?”
I asked her, and then poked a finger on her belly. She took a step back, almost as if she was offended by that action. I cocked my head.
“Why did you have to poke me, Salvos?”
“Isn’t that what Humans do? I saw some children doing that with a woman earlier.”
“What? Wait, you mean with Ms Bella? She’s pregnant.”
I blinked. Hurriedly, I tried to bring an ear to her stomach.
“Are you pregnant, Edithe?!”
She yelled at me, giving me a glare. I laughed and backed away from her before she could swat me away. Once I calmed down a little, I gave her a serious look.
“So… anything different?”
Sighing, Edithe rubbed at her shoulder.
“Quite a few things, actually.”
“What kind of things?”
“Mostly from the Passive Skills I got upon advancing my Class.”
She cast her gaze off to the side. We were walking slowly, ambling through the road with the caravan, as if we were taking a nice view of the scenery rather than rushing to get refugees to a safe city.
“[Passive - Champion of Thunder] and [Passive - Will of the Earth Elemental]?”
“That’s right. I… don’t know why I got the second Passive, but it increases my [Vitality]. My [Endurance]. Not only that, ever since I got the Skill, my sense of earth magic has been heightened. It’s an all around boon.”
“What about the other one?”
Edithe trailed off.
“I am not really sure why I got it. Maybe it’s because I kept using Lightning Ball while in the Plaguelands. But… I feel like it’s Hana’s Skill.”
“Hana’s Skill? That was your previous Spirit, right? Before Mistshard.”
I raised a brow. She nodded.
“She was a [Lightning Elemental]. A quirky, electric friend. She would always buzz around with energy— almost like you, but even more stupid at times.”
Scowling, I crossed my arms. Edithe laughed and placatingly raised her hand.
“That’s a joke. Both of you are about equally stupid.”
I nodded. Then I frowned.
“I just think this Skill was given to me because of her. As if she’s somewhere, out there, watching over me.”
I paused, taking in the somber look on her face. She shifted gears quickly. But I adapted well enough by saying nothing. Humans were weird— they liked it when others listened to them speak.
“I got this Passive Skill, and while it has done nothing for my Stats, I can feel… something different. As if I am filled with more energy. More… power.”
She clenched a fist, speaking the words with a determined voice. I slowly met her gaze. A smile spread across my face.
I placed a hand on her shoulder.
“We’ll be able to test out how much you’ve changed when we get back to the Plaguelands.”
“Wait— why didn’t you tell me we had all of this?”
I looked into Edithe’s Bag of Holding. It was strange. It looked almost as if everything inside of it was tiny. A shrunk version of what they were supposed to be. The red-haired woman began pulling things out, placing them before Daniel and I.
It was night now, and camp had been set up. Most of the refugees had already gone to sleep. Since we were supposed to be guarding them, we stayed up a little bit later. Not like I have to sleep.
I shook away the annoyed thought, instead focusing on what was in front of me, peering over the items that had been laid out by Edithe. There were a lot of things. It was a trove of treasure! Whatever that was.
“You never want to deal with loot, Salvos. You always let us deal with the selling and dividing of items.”
“That’s true, but…”
I trailed off, glancing down at all the shiny, valuable objects. It was not as wide of a variety as offered by Adan. However, these were… better quality.
A lot better.
“What is this?!”
I held up a pair of gloves. I quickly identified it and exclaimed.
“Frostbitten Gauntlet? It’s a Medium Grade armor! But it also can work as a weapon by sending a chilling touch to the recipient!”
I held it up, eyes sparkling.
“Where did you get this from?!”
“That [Cultist] Kobold was well equipped in gear. A bit too much gear. To the point where she was over reliant on it.”
Edithe placed down a dagger, shaking her head.
“Why don’t we just keep all of it?”
I excitedly started picking out different items. Daniel slapped my hand, making me drop them.
“We don’t need all of it. We need to sell some of them— keep only what is necessary.”
“Aw. But why?”
“How many times must I explain this to you, Salvos? If we don’t have gold, we won’t be able to do almost anything in a city.”
“Go right ahead and keep explaining it to her.”
Edithe snorted. She pried the Frostbitten Gauntlet from the ground, grinning at us.
“I’ll get first picks.”
I hurriedly sifted through the pile of items, looking for whatever piqued my interest. I grabbed the dagger and eyed it with an appraising gaze.
[Fangs of the Devouring Deep: Medium Grade Weapon - A dagger made from the tooth of a Sephim Basilisk. It inflicts additional corrosion damage.]
I scratched the back of my head.
“Huh. It looks cool, but…”
“I don’t think it’d be very effective against the undead, that’s for sure.”
Daniel rubbed at his chin as he spoke. Edithe glanced between the two of us. She yanked it from my hand.
“Well, if you’re not interested in it…”
I scowled. But that was true. She did need something to protect herself with, beyond just magic. My eyes glazed over the other items before us.
There was a Lower Grade necklace with a weak Fireball spell enchanted into it. It would only work once a day, which was not very good. Plus, I could easily cast spells far more potent than it in mere moments. I shrugged and handed it to Daniel.
“Why are you giving it to me?”
“Because I thought you wanted it.”
He rejected my gift, instead throwing it into the pile of items we would sell. And that pile was a lot. There were a handful of weapons that did not even have a grade. Apparently, Daniel and Edithe kept them because they were valuable? Like they were made of some kind of precious materials.
A few more things caught my eyes. Only three more items were valuable. Of course, they were from the Kobolds. At least, from what I could tell by their names.
[Draconic Scalemail: Medium Grade Armor - Made from the scales of a powerful Drake Lord. It is sturdy and grants an addition 5 to [Vitality].]
[Runic Scroll of Starfall: High Grade Weapon - A one-time use scroll. Summons a shower of meteors over an area to turn it into a desolate wasteland.]
[Greaves of the Wanderer: Medium Grade Armor - Made of mithril. Does not offer any additional protection to its wielder, however it is enchanted to grant +10% in [Agility] for up to an hour once a week, unless it is refueled with by a high leveled [Enchanter].]
“I want all of that!”
I greedily gathered all three items in my arms. Daniel frowned.
“Wait, do I not get anything?”
“I gave you that Fireball Necklace!”
“I literally don’t need it, Salvos.”
“But you already got those Bracers of Enhanced Strength! Isn’t it only fair that I get the Greaves of the Wanderer?”
He nodded, before his eyes rested on the remaining two items.
“So, all that’s left is the scroll and the armor. Then we’ll all get two pieces of equipment each.”
“It’s fair, Salvos.”
He crossed his arms. I sighed.
I looked down at what was left. There was only the Draconic Scalemail and the Runic Scroll of Starfall. Everything else was being sold.
The former item was not bad. It would be a welcome addition to my [Ember Core]. I could maybe even experiment with the Skill more if I was confident my chest was protected. However—
My eyes drifted to the Runic Scroll of Starfall. It was a High Grade weapon. Even though I could only use it once, there was a certain allure to it. Maybe it was less useful in the long-run, compared to the Draconic Scalemail. In fact, it definitely would not be useful other than in that one tight situation.
But I was reckless. As much as I hated to admit it, my own sense of what was dangerous was skewed from growing up in the Netherworld. Fact of the matter was, I could have died while in the Netherworld at any point in time, and using that as the basis of what was safe and what was not— it just was not a good comparison.
I wrapped my hands around the scroll, picking it up. I spoke begrudgingly.
“You can keep the scalemail…”
“Thank you, Salvos. You’re too kind.”
He rolled his eyes, throwing it over his shoulders. I grumbled as he stalked off to put it on under his gambeson. Grumbling, I opened the scroll and looked at the runes etched on its parchment.
“You’re going to be useful when I get into that situation where I almost die but pull you out and you destroy all my enemies… Daniel included.”
“I can hear you.”
I yelled back his way. Edithe placed a hand on my shoulder, peering at the scroll.
“You know, you don’t have to keep it hidden away until the need for it arises, right?”
I blinked. The confusion was evident.
“Look at the runes, Salvos. It’s… a bit too advanced for me to completely deconstruct. But you can sort of understand the gist of it, right? How the mana weaves itself onto the paper. How the spell should be cast.”
She traced a finger through the scroll. I stared at her.
Edithe furrowed her brows. Then she gave me a small nod.
“Well, I can help teach you. You can learn to improve your magic from this. Maybe you might even learn a General Skill if you manage to understand even a little bit of how this spell works. And don’t feel bad that you don’t get it. Most Level 40s wouldn’t, either. In fact, they wouldn’t be able to use this scroll unless they studied an intermediate amount of magic theory.”
“Are you saying it’s more useless than I thought?!”
“No— the opposite. It’s not that hard, especially since I’m here. First, you’ll learn how to activate this scroll, then you can study it and extrapolate on its magic from there.”
She gave me a reassuring smile.
“It’ll refine your magic and make you a better fighter.”
“You’re starting to sound like Saffron…”
I pouted, but she just smiled
“That’s your noble friend, right? I’m flattered you think that.”
“I didn’t mean that in a good way!”
I threw my hands up in the air. Edithe laughed.