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Max had to his eyes closed, meditating. It was midday, and the party was on track to get to Lesterwood by sunset. There had been no evidence that they had passed their escorts, but if they never showed up, it wouldn’t be a big deal. The party had enough firepower to deal with most things in the forest, and the prisoner was cooperating. Apparently having your hands bound and a shirt soaked with water is a big enough deterrent to try something. Over the travels, Max had continuously rewet Fido’s shirt. Max wasn’t sure what he would do with the water if Fido tried to run, but Fido didn't know that.

The group was taking a break in a small clearing similar to the one Max arrived in this world in. Everyone sat relatively close together, except Max. He sat by the edge of the tree line, meditating. He was taking Reep’s suggestion. Not knowing what he was really looking for, he searched.

Max felt deep within himself, to the others he simply had his eyes closed, but to Max he was searching an infinite beach. Max was currently looking through his mana system. Other than his initial tests, when he first started to use mana, Max had never gone further than just looking in. Normally Max viewed this place as an outsider, like a person viewing nature through binoculars. As Max looked around his beach, he realized this was the same beach as the one in his dreams.

It made sense to him, he always felt at peace when in his dreams, now he knew he was just deep within himself. Max didn’t really want to think about that though, it would just bring up more questions about Tiodepth.

How was he in my mana system? How did I wake up covered in salt water if the beach is not ‘real’? Max cut off his line of thinking, focusing on the task in front of him. Finding whatever he was looking for.

The others, back in the real world, were ready to move out. Clammy, instead of alerting Max in a normal way, she launched a small stick at him. It didn’t move very fast, but it was enough to wake him from his trance. He glared at her, she stuck out her tongue.

They had only been traveling for an hour before they came across a large group of guards. There were 12 in total. Each group walked up to each other, Reep walking out ahead, a female guard doing the same.

“Humble Titans?” The female guard asked.

“Yes, I am Reep, team captain. Those are the other two members, Max and Clammy.” She pointed at them.

“I am senior head guardswoman Aldean Curean. These are my men.” She gestured behind her.

She was a tall human. Like seriously tall. Max wondered if she was part giant. She wore a large hammer, similar to Clammy’s. Her standard issue guard armor was stretched lengthwise, but otherwise the same silver and red. She had short dark hair, and a few scars across her face.

She looks badass! Max thought.

“Awful lot of guards for just us…”

“Only six of us are for you. The other six will be heading to Leafhall.”

“Good. They need protection.”

“As do most villages. I take it the bound Halfling is the prisoner?”

“Yes ma’am. There was another, but he is dead. We have his belongings as well as their payment contract.” Reep explained.

“Good work. Let's get some better restraints on him.” She whistles, causing 2 men from behind her to move forward.

After a few more minutes, each group was ready to head out. Curean explained that long term guard positions were volunteer only but paid much better. They also would get their choice of position in Lesterwood on their return.

As the group of 14 walked, they passed by the occasional carriage or caravan. The guards would always stop them, making sure everything was in order. Apparently, bandits liked to disguise themself as normal merchants or farmers. Guard patrols often moved around this area of the forest, as the path was a trade route for most of the small villages.

At one point, 3 treents ran out into the open. Before Max could even start to draw water, arrows littered their corpses. The guards moved forwards, retrieving their arrows, and moving the bodies. All in all, the danger was dealt with in under a minute. Max had to commend the guard on their efficiency.

The party made it to the gates of Lesterwood without any real accident. It was starting to get dark, the gates would normally be closed by now, but having a guard escort had its perks. Curean brought them to the closest guard barracks.

Max had walked by a few of these before. They were simple, reinforced buildings. They housed guards on duty and off. They were essentially police stations that the police could live in. They also housed jail cells and armories. Curean took Fido to his cell, and the rest to a common room. They found a food spread waiting for them, along with Vel and a few others.

Max recognized Mayor Silverjewl, the opulent Elf. The Flame Devil and Mage Guild Master Domic. And Captain of the Guards, Oliva Shatterwind, a Sylph. There was one more, but Max didn’t know him.

The freed slaves made their way to the food, having not eaten anything but wild game caused their appetite for real food that much more. The Humble Titans made their way over the Vel and her table of high-ranking officials. Vel studied them as they approached. She was the first to speak.

“Really thrown yourselves into the shitcreek, huh? Well, it doesn't matter. Congratulations on your first completed quest.”

“Thank you.” Reep said.

Vel raised an eyebrow at her and thought. Finally, some backbone?

“Well, go get some food. We can wait.” Vel made a off with ya gesture with her hands.

Max filled his plate, along with the others and made his way back to Vel’s table.

“As far as I understand, you all have met before, except for Arthur over there.” she gestured at the unknown man.

“Ah, I think that's my cue.” His yellow eyes flickered. “I am Arthur. Guild Master of the Adventuring Guild. I think that makes me your boss!” he laughed. No one else did.

Max could tell that Arthur was a Beastkin of some kind, but not sure of the “Beast”. Arthur had small horns poking through the skin on his forehead. Other than that,… He looked human. Dirty blond hair dropped to his shoulders. He wore the most generic clothing Max had seen. Grey shirt, brown pants. The only notable thing about the man was his black ring. It was a simple band, but the color was impossible black. There was no shimmer, or reflection of light coming off the ring, it was just black. Cool, Max thought.

“With that out of the way, we have all read the mana message from Leafhall, but we want your accounting of it.” Captain Shatterwind said.

Reep went on to explain everything that happened since their arrival at Leafhall. They talked about the fire, and how it was subsequently put out by Max’s rain cloud spell. This drew skeptical looks from both Vel and Domic. Reep proceeded with her account, talking about Max healing the townspeople, and the team eventually setting out for the ruins.

Reep told the table, in detail, of their fight. Vel looked at Clammy after Reep described her spell as “an invisible arrow”. Clammy winked at Vel, getting a snort in response. The whole table stared at Max, after Reep told them he out maneuvered an inflamed Flame Dire Wolf, while inside a water spell.

“What? Clammy and Reep were slowing it with their attacks! Not to mention, last I checked water beats fire!” Max defended.

Quite chuckles filled the table. Eventually Reep finished, ending with meeting with their guard escorts. The table was silent, until Arthur raised his hand.

“In favor of promoting The Humble Titans to Iron rank, as well as each member?”

“Agreed.” “Aye.” “Sure.” Were the responses. The one who didn’t say anything was Vel, but she didn’t have the authority to promote anyways.

The three were silent. They looked at each other, confused. Clammy was the first to speak.

“You are promoting us to Iron after one mission?”

“Yes.” Arthur saw that his answer didn’t really answer her question, so he added, “Your team already has enough firepower to be Gold. You have a healer, who didn’t force the villagers to pay. You have proven to be level thinkers, assessing the situation to find the best course of action. And you thought it best to keep a slaver as a prisoner just because he might have information, even though one of you was a slave previously. Yes. I think you should be Iron, probably even higher, but you all lack experience.”

The team was stunned. Vel broke them out.

“Enough of that. You all are tired. You can celebrate later. For now, we need the slavers packs.” Max deposited the packs on the table. Domic immediately said:

“That one is trapped.” he pointed to the [Fire Mage]’s. “Looks to be a flame trap. We need to handle it delicately.”

“See! This is what I was talking about! Leveled thinking! How many wood ranked teams would have thought of a trapped pack!” Arthur said, bouncing with glee.

Vel sighed. “Yes, they did good. But let's move on, yes? I want to go to bed, I’m sure the rest of you do too.”

She got nods from everyone in response.

“I will take the trapped pack to the Guild and have the rune removed.” Domic said.

“I will take the other. Bring it to me when you are done, Domic.” Shatterwind said.

The group said their goodbyes to the officials. They moved over to the freed slaves. Max offered to house them until they sold all of their loot. They, of course, took that offer. Max was smiling, thinking of their reactions to the private island and huge mansion.




Max spent his early morning meditating. At this point he had “walked” through his mana system for hours. He had found nothing. Max was beginning to feel discouraged. He “sat” on the beach, watching the waves. It was calm, peaceful even. Max could spend the whole day watching the waves, but he had things to do. Max went to the kitchen, hoping breakfast was already done. He found an empty room.

“Hey, Icarus.” he said, waiting for the owl to materialize. “Where is everyone?”

“Reep and the Elf, Celenia, went to sell the loot at the market. The orcs, swordsman, and Clammy are sparring in the training room.”

“Ah. Thanks, I should make breakfast then huh...” Max moved to a cabinet, pulling out ingredients. “Have you ever heard of auras?” Max asked.

“Auras? Sure. Any tier two non-magical battle classes can learn how to use them. They are the physical equivalent to mana domains. Why?”

Max set a skillet down on the stove, “One of my racials. I unlocked an aspect of it, and it gave me an aura as a reward. I just don’t know how to use it. Reep and Clammy said I used it back at the clinic when I first arrived in Lesterwood. I tried to use it on a pack of wolves, it worked, just not well.”

“Ah I see. Racial auras are rather rare. They only come from non-magical battle races. I think there is an Orc tribe on the other side of the Ire Mountain Range that specializes in auras. I’m not sure how a mage could learn to control one. But if what you say about the clinic and wolves is true, then it could be a great boon.”

“Uh-huh. Anyways, how is... You know who is doing?” Max had begun to sauté some mushrooms.

“He is doing well. Thank you. If that, is it, I will be off?” Icarus said, and subsequently disappeared.

Did I touch a nerve? Max wondered.

Max eventually finished making breakfast and went to gather the others. He opened the door to the training room and had to immediately dodge a flying broken sword. She could see Clammy celebrating in triumph over the swordsman, who held the sword’s broken hilt.

“WOO! Get fucked!” Clammy taunted.

The swordsman, who Max had found out is named Goob, looked downcast.

“Very lady-like…” The swordsman muttered.

“That's why you don't brag! Goob!” she danced around, spinning in a circle. She stopped when she noticed the bemused Max. “What? Just showing some humility to a tier two!”

Max held his hands up, surrendering. “Just coming to tell you that breakfast is ready.”

“Oh, Reep is back?”

“No... I made it.”

“Oh... Well, it can't be that bad right?”

Max made a rude gesture, walking out the door. The others quickly followed. Max had made quiche, with a mushroom and ham filling. Clammy looked at it, wondering what the hell kind of place Earth was to invent an egg pie. After her first bite however, she changed her mind.

“Hey Goob? Do you know anything about auras?” Max asked.

“I know how to train one, not that I have tried. Yet.”

“Could you teach me? I can pay.”

“No payment needed. But aren't you a mage?”

“Yes, [Water Mage]. But I unlocked mine through the system. I’ve used it a few times, but I don’t know how to without straining myself.”

“Unlocked?” He asked, getting a shrug in response. “Everyone has their secrets. Just like how you own this house.”

“I don’t own it. Just living in it while the owner is out.”

“Uh-huh. Anyways, I don’t know if you can train it. The way I was taught was that [Mages] get mana systems, and [Warriors] get auras. Hmm, tell me, how do you train your mana system?”

“I can meditate, but I’m not sure about training it though.”

“What tier are you?”

“One.”

Three forks clanked, falling onto plates. Max looked up from his quiche, 3 pairs of eyes were staring at him.

“What?”

“You are not tier one. You have to be at least mid-tier 2.” Said the male Orc, M’rush.

“If that is true, you might be the strongest tier one mage I have ever seen.” The female Orc, Sdell, said.

“Ah... I had some unfair advantages...” Max said. Gesturing around himself at the mansion.

“IF you are only tier one, I don’t expect you to be able to train either a mana system or aura. There's a reason most don’t learn aura until level twenty in tier two. That being said, I can see some parallels between aura and mana systems.”

“Thanks, Goob.”

The conversation changed to what everyone was going to do now. The Orc’s said they wanted to find passage back to their tribe. The tribe lived in Yepu’s planes, close to Salae. They think they are just going to pay for a caravan spot, traveling to Salae.

“I think I’m going to stay in Lesterwood. At least, for a while. See if any teams are recruiting.” Goob said.

Clammy and Max exchanged glances. They would have to discuss it with Reep, but maybe theirs? They could always use another member, especially if most listings had party minimums. Now that The Humble Titans were Iron, the requirements for quests are going to be stricter.

“Are you a Guild member?” Clammy asked.

“Back in Salae, before I was taken. I ran with a group, those pricks almost got me killed, so I left. I was coming back to my inn, drunk, when I was taken. No one looked for me I guess. Just snatched off the street. Scary stuff…”

“What rank?” Max asked.

“Copper. The quest where I almost died, would have made us Iron. But we had to abandon it. Why? Might know a team?”

“Something like that...” Max said.

A few minutes later Reep and Celenia returned. Reep apologized, saying she will start making breakfast right away, but then saw the dirty plates. Max smiled, pulling a full quiche out of the still warm oven. Reep didn’t care for the mushrooms.

“We sold everything. Total gold is...” she checked her notes, “Three hundred sixty-seven gold, fifty two silver. That's about ninety-two gold for each of you.” Reep told the table.

Goob whistled, the Orcs smiled. They all proceed to talk about random things, filling the time with stories of everyone's past. Reep and Max stayed silent for a majority of the conversation. Everyone decided to head to the Adventure guild. Max and his team, to get their reward, the Orcs to find travel, and Goob to renew his rank. Celenia came along also, just not wanting to be alone.

The adventure guild was much the same. The gritty tone, and rough crowd created a weird but nice atmosphere. Reep joined the back of the rewards line, they had already received their gold from the mayor of Leafhall but needed their new team rank plate. Clammy and Max would have to go to the Mage Guild to update their plates. The Orcs started talking to a receptionist that handled caravan passage. Goob had to wait in the “lost plate” line. It was by far the largest.

I guess adventures lose their plates a lot. Max guessed. Max had an idea, he went to the “requests” counter and started to fill out the required forms. He gave the form back to the Drake receptionist, who gave it a read through.

“You want a tier two or higher to demonstrate an aura to you? For five gold?”

“You don’t think that's enough?”

“No. I think everyone is going to want to take this quest. Just wait around for a few minutes after I post it. People are going to form a line.”

The receptions stood and walked over the quest board. He pinned it to the amethyst column, but all the way at the bottom, signifying it was a tier related quest, not a rank one. Max guessed that amethyst must have the greatest number of tier 2’s. Max stood with Celenia, talking to her about her plans.

“Oh! I was offered a job. This morning when Reep and I were out, a mana message found me. It was from Domic? The Guild Master. I think you were talking with him last night.”

“Sure, I know Domic. He was actually one of the first people I met… When I arrived in Lesterwood.”

“Huh. That's interesting.” she shook her head, “The letter had a meeting scheduled with Lesterwood’s resident [Druid]. And she offered me an apprenticeship! Is that not amazing?”

“Wow, that's great!” Max said, happy for her.

“Yeah! Apparently, Reep mentioned that I made the pyre at the ruins? I guess Domic mentioned it to Master Dreamstem, the [Dru--”

She was cut off by an adventurer.

“You Max?” Max nodded. “Alright, have my five-gold ready.”

The man took a step back, and focused. The air around him began to change. It felt a bit heavier, but that was really it. Max watched the man, sweat dripping down his face. He eventually stopped, after noticing Max had not flinched. Celenia, next to Max was sweating, but Max was perfectly fine.

“That’s it?” Max asked.

“How… Are you not...?” The man cut himself off and quickly left, embarrassed.

“Sorry about that. I didn’t know that it would affect you like that.” Max told Celenia.

“No no... It's okay. I need to be able to resist it anyways. Say... How did you not even flinch?”

“Not sure. It just felt like the air was slightly heavier.”

A few minutes later, the man came back. This time he brought a friend. She looked from the man to Max.

“Five gold for an aura?” she asked.

“As long as it's stronger than his. Sure.” Max said.

“Alright. His is weak as shit anyways. Should be free gold.” She said, smirking.

She started focusing on the same way the man did. Max could tell the air was heavier, but not by much. Max looked to Celenia, making sure she was okay. Max waved his hands to get the woman to stop when he saw Celenia kneeling. Max quickly pulled water around her, checking her health. She seemed fine, but her knees were weak and wobbling.

Max waved to the receptionist who put up the quest, he got up and removed it, smirking. Max looked at the disbelieving woman. She held a whip coiled on her hip. She wore soft leather armor, designed for speed. Max assumed she was a rogue of some sort. She spoke first.

“How are you standing? Let alone, not sweating?”

“I don’t know, your aura just felt weak.” He summed five gold, making her and the man recoil.

“Here’s your reward...”

“Duel me.” she said.

“What's that?”

“I said duel me! You've embarrassed me and piqued my interest.”

“What rank are you?”

“Amethyst. Don’t worry I won’t beat you too hard. Your girlfriend will still be able to kiss you.”

“Girlfriend? She’s not...” Max cut himself off, a large presence interrupting them.

“Max! What’s this about auras and duels?” Arthur, the Adventuring Guild Master asked. He was walking down the stairs on the other side of the room. Max cringed at the unwanted attention Arthur gave him.

“Ah. Guild Master Arthur…”

“You accept, right boy?”

“B-but sir, she's higher ranked than me...”

“But nothing! After hearing how you fought off that Flame Dire Wolf, I’ve been interested in seeing you fight.”

Max grumbled; he saw no way out of this situation. He nodded, looking back at the star shocked woman.

“Guess we are dueling. Is there an arena around here?”

Her smile grew predatory. “Of course, follow me.”

Max followed alongside Celenia and Arthur. Reep and Clammy quickly finished their business along with Goob and the Orcs. Max figured a small crowd wouldn't be that nerve racking, especially since he knew most of them. But when Max turned around to look, he saw most of the common room following. He paled.


 

The arena was a large circle with bleachers around the edge. The floor consisted of a thin layer of sand, atop stone. At each “starting area” there was a small weapon rack that held anything from swords to throwing knives. Max inspected a few cool looking ones, but they were nothing special. The woman who finally introduced herself as Mel, met him in the center, along with Arthur.

“I am going to referee this match. I will stop it if it goes too far. We have a healer standing by.” Arthur turned and pointed to the top of the stands, Vel stood alongside Clammy and Reep.

When did she get here? Max thought.

“Why don’t we make this interesting? Mel if you win, I will triple the next reward of a quest. Max, how about a spell book, and aura training?”

“Deal!” Mel said almost instantly.

“What kind of spell book?” Max asked. If the spell sucked, he would still take the deal. After all, the training interested him more.

“Whatever kind you want.” He smirked, “within reason of course. You can’t ask for Absolute Zero for example.”

Max made note to look into Absolute Zero. He accepted the deal and headed to his corner. Max took out the gourd that Vel had given him. He emptied the content into a floating ball. Simultaneously he gathered more water from the air, putting it into the ball also. Mel readied her whip. She had the largest smirk Max had ever seen.

Arthur introduced Max and Mel to the crowd. Max received a cheer from his friend group. Mel on the other hand, got much more. Max thought to himself.

This is the most Rocky moment I have ever seen. Just gotta win. He smiled.

Arthur said “Begin!” and Mel went invisible. Max flinched when she went invisible, but quickly realized how to counter it. He closed his eyes, extending his Space Affinity. He could see there was something taking up space to his right. He launched a Water Bolt at her, she dodged out of the way. Sand kicked up during her roll, making the crowd go silent.

Max could hear people questioning how he could see her. Max launched another Bolt, again she dodged. Max figured he would never hit her; his Bolts were just too slow. Max subtly moved a large amount of water into the sand, creating a small pool around him. The water went all the way to the stone. Unless she spotted the water flowing down Max’s leg, she would not notice.

Max continued to fire Water Bolts at her, more of a distraction than an actuarial threat. The water field was now 7 meters out in diameter, with Max in the center. Suddenly, she flicked her arm, an invisible whip flied out. Max had just barely moved his shield in its way. Max was taking a risk not using Center of Water, but Max figured this was a good learning experience. Max knew he would run her over if he used it, but he wanted more regular fighting experience. After all, he might not have enough water for it one day.

She was getting close to the water pool; Max realized his mistake of making it a circle. He started moving the water that was behind him to his front. That extended the range all the way to Mel. Max quickly started to freeze the water to her left and sent out a Bolt towards her right side. She did what Max predicted and dodged left. Max moved the solidifying water up around her right leg.

Max took his best shot while she was frozen in place. A large bolt of water smashed into her chest, knocking her away, and breaking the ice. While she was down, Max moved most of his water under the sand towards her. Water quickly surrounded her. Max tried to recreate the spell he had seen Domic use. Flame Prison.

A thin wall of water surrounded her on all sides.

She eventually recovered, but the Water Prison was already surrounding her. She took out a small dagger, slicing at the water. The prison’s walls were constantly flowing, quickly reconstructing the damaged section. After a few minutes of her trying to break out, she gave up. Mel surrendered, causing the crowd to erupt with cheers.

“YOU cheated!” She yelled. “You never told me YOU were a [Mage]!”

“You never asked...” Max said back.

She huffed, screaming a few insults. Max accepted them all, understanding she was embarrassed. Max began to collect his water, filling his gourd back in when he felt a change in the air. Max quickly surrounded himself in water, three small throwing knives embedded themselves in the water. They began to orbit around Max, the flowing water causing it. Max could tell that they were coating something, poison he figured. Max knew for some reason; the poison wouldn't affect him. A notification popped up, but he quickly disregarded it.

It had been only a few moments from when Max shielded himself, giving Arthur more than enough time to see the daggers. A much stronger aura filled the arena. Arthur leaped from his position in the sand to the mid-level stands. He grabbed someone’s throat; water also started to flow around him. Max could see Vel staring down at the hooded figure.

The man passed out, the lack of air and crushing air being the cause. Arthur dropped him and took a small step back. Water quickly formed around the unconscious male, forming a prison similar to what Max had just done. Max turned back to Mel, she was pale and sweating. Her legs wobbled, and she looked like she was about to puke. He looked around to the others in the bleachers, most had the same symptoms she did. Only 3 did not. Arthur, being the source of the pressure, Vel and Max.

Vel and Arthur jumped into the arena to Max. The Water Prison followed. Max dropped his spell and helped Mel stand. He checked her over with his healing waters, finding a few broken ribs. He ignored the weird look she gave him as he healed her, and went to inspect the daggers. The simple throwing knife was just that. Simple. Max remembered the poison. He felt through the water around him. Max could feel something was wrong with parts of the water. He isolated the wrong water. A small blob of water carried the sickly green toxin.

His inspection named it as:

 

Highlane Flower Poison (Rare)

 

“Does Highlane flower poison mean anything to either of you?” Max asked, interrupting the discussion that Vel and Arthur were having.

“...Yes...” Vel said. “That is not good news.”

“The Highlane is an independent area to the southwest. They are the continent's best assassins for hire.”

“So, I’m what? A target?” Max asked.

“Maybe. But unlikely. Highlane sends out assassins to keep tabs on the major powers, Lesterwood being one of those. He probably saw you as a potential threat and opted to kill you now rather than have you become a problem later.” Vel answered.

“It doesn’t matter though. At least not right now. We have the culprit, and we will get answers from him. If you are a target, we will find out.” Arthur said, his eyes were slits. Making Max ask himself again, What Beast is he?

Clammy, Reep and Celenia jumped down off the raised ledge, Clammy slowing their descent. They rushed over. Max could see the others making their way down as well.

“THAT was AWESOME!” Clammy yelled. Making Max turn red.

“It was quite a show.” Reep added.

“Also, what's with the assassin?” Clammy asked, gesturing to the Water Prison.

Max decided to play it cool. “I might be a target for the Highlane assassins... Not that big of a deal.”

“NOT A BIG DEAL!?” both Reep and Clammy yelled.

“In my defense, I was told they were no big deal by two of the most powerful people I’ve met.”

“That is NOT what we said, Max. We said that they will probably not be an issue. Not that they are “no big deal”. Vel chastised.

Max just nodded, Vel’s tone made Max feel she wanted no rebuttal. Max finally acknowledged the rest of the crowd. Most were slowly getting up, a few had already left. Max could already hear the rumors.

This unknown [Water Mage] beat MEL in a duel that was sanctioned by Guild Master Arthur! THEN an assassin tried to kill him. BUT THEN Arthur killed the assassin! Max smiled at his inward thoughts.

Mel made her way in front of Max. She looked pissed, but fearful. Not of Arthur or Vel, but of Max.

“Why did you not cover yourself in water during our duel? You would have won almost instantly. Wait, that reminds me. How could you see me? I made sure to mask my footsteps.” She said.

“I could feel where you were.” he said with a shrug. “And I didn’t want to waste the chance to get dueling practice. Yes. I could have beat you within a few moments, but what would I have gained from it? This way, I practiced a few different techniques, and learned a new spell.”

She paled at “new spell”. She knew she was outclassed when she was baited into dodging. But now she was humiliated. Max saw her downcast expression.

“If you want, you could train with my team and me? We have a private training facility. I’m sure by training together we all could learn a few things from each other.”

“Well-spoken Max!” Arthur boomed. His eyes are back to normal. “That would be a wonderful idea!”

Mel’s eyes flicked back and forth between him and Max.

“I guess now I have to agree.” she muttered.

“Alright. You know that island in the middle of Lesterwood, with the two bridges?”

“Y-yeah?”

“Just go to one of the bridges and they will open allowing you in.”

“You live on that island?” her voice showed her skepticism.

“Yeah.” was all Max said. He quickly moved on to Arthur.

“Sooo. About that book and training.” Max said.

“Yes yes. What spell would you like?”

“Some kind of space affinity spell.”

“Space? Not water?”

“Yeah... I want to be able to teleport. That sounds awesome.”

Arthur simply shook his head. His face was bemused. They scheduled his training for next week. A few guards showed up, taking the assassin from Vel. With everything completed at the adventuring guild, they left. On the way out, Max was given a standing ovation in the common room. Max increased his pace, worried that he would die from embarrassment.

Next stop was the Mage Guild, but he felt something changed.

 

Congratulations! Your blessing by the Leviathan Tiodepth, has adapted.

Water based poison does not affect you.




 

The Orcs, Reep and Goob decided to split from the group, opting to go shopping. The Orcs need supplies for their travels, and Goob needs new equipment. Reep decided to go with them so she could talk to Goob more. As team captain, she got final say in adding new members.

The Mage Guild was significantly less crowded than the Adventuring guild. Mage types are typically quieter compared to their rustic brothers and sisters. With that being said, the guild was still in an uproar. Max, Clammy and Celenia bypassed the large group of people shouting at each other and headed to the receptionist.

“Can I help you?” He asked, pushing up his glasses.

“Yes, we need to update our plate ranks. Also is Iris around?” Max told him.

“Alright, place your plates on the wood, one at a time.” He gestured to the same wooden slab as last time. “Iris is in. Do you want me to get her?”

“Yes, that would be splendid.” Max pulled his black plate from his inventory, getting a gasp from the receptionist.

“I WILL go get Iris now!” he bowed and scurried off. Max could only shake his head.

“What was with that reaction?” Celenia asked?

“It’s Max’s black plate. It's supposed to be for VIP’s but for some reason they gave one to him.” Clammy answered.

Max muttered something under his breath. He placed his plate on the wooden slab, and pressed his mana into the previous thumb print. The wood, on the plate, turned to iron causing the plate to become much heavier. Max wondered how that worked? Transmutation?

Clammy did the same. A few minutes later the receptionist returned with Iris in tow.

“MAX! Clammy!” She said, her frown turning into a smile.

“Hello!” “Hi!” they said back.

“Max! Did you just duel an amethyst? Then you were almost assassinated?”

“How could you have possibly heard of that already? That happened like twenty minutes ago.”

“A screamer came in. Look, all of those people over there are discussing you!”

“Alright. First of all, what is a screamer? Second, why are they discussing me?”

“Screamers are people, normally kids, who run around the city yelling the news. They are discussing you, because you are an unknown mage who defeated an amethyst and fended off an assassin!”

“Oh... Well never mind that. I don’t want to talk to them. Please don’t tell them it was me.” she nodded, making Max sigh in relief. “Iris, you're an Elf right? Have you met Celenia?”

“What does being an Elf have anything to do with meeting another Elf?”

Oh fuck. Max thought.

“I- uh that's. That's not what I meant. I take it you have heard from Domic about our recent quest?” She nodded, “Well this is Celenia. She's new in town, and I figured since you and the mayor are the only Elves I know. And I can’t really gain access to the mayor, I thought I would introduce you two.”

“Oh, I see.” Iris turned to Celenia and proceeded to do a weird salute bow. “Iris Blondbow.”

Celenia made the same gestures, “Celenia Longstem.”

Max had to make a conscious effort to not smile at her last name. The four of them found a table and began to talk. Clammy told Iris about their quest in detail, skipping a few parts. Iris did not like how Max was bait. The conversation moved on to normal magical talk. Max could see why people were discussing him now, talking about magic was fun.

The group left an hour later. Iris had to get back to work, and the others wanted to get lunch. Max made sure to give Iris an open invite to the mansion. She could come over whenever, and if she brought Domic, all the better. She assured him she would be over at some point soon.

The group left and headed towards Vel’s favorite little magic shop.


 

The bell above the door rang, when Clammy pushed open the door. The shop looked much the same, a hoarders amusement park. Some things Max could tell where new or moved, but the feel of the place still remained. A beautiful young woman came out of the back, with a smile on her face. Until she saw who it was, her smile fell.

“Is Vel not here?” She asked

“Just us.” Clammy said back.

Her smile instantly grew. Interesting relationship those two have... Max thought.

“What can I do for you then?”

“Celenia, here is the new apprentice to [Druid] Dreamstem, and she is needing some upgrades.”

Celenia and Sythia started their discussion of what she needed. Eventually it was decided she would need a new robe, and a few enchanted pieces of jewelry. The enchants were designed to help with Nature magic. After they came out of the magic fitting mirror room, Max told her about his own desires. A staff.

Max had seen Celenia and the [Fire Mage] using one back at the ruins. Ever since then, his interest has been piqued. He had no idea what they did or how they worked, but at the very least, he would look cooler.

Sythia pulled out a large two-handed wooden staff from behind a shelf. The staff was made of “Moist Wood” giving it a damp feeling. The wood was straight until the top, where it curved into a semi-circle. Runes had been carved lightly into the surface, along with grooves for better gripping. After looking it over, Max decided it was old, very old infant. Max inspected it.

 

Staff of the Everlasting Tide

This staff is part of a set. Equip the others to find their effect.

Channeling spells through this staff will give bonus effects:

Increases your control over manipulating water.

10% mana reduction to water affinity spells.

5% increased projectile speed.

 

Max, having no clue if it was good, looked to Celenia. Her face said it all. This staff was amazing. Max had to agree, mana reduction and better control? Sign me up! He joked with himself. The only issue was how perfect it was. The staff and his class literally had the same name. Max couldn't think it was a coincidence.

“Where did you get this?” Max asked, trying not to show any skepticism.

“That's actually a rather new addition. A week or two maybe?” she shook her head, “Anyways. A man came in and sold it. Not unusual, people find magical tools that they can’t use, for one reason or another.”

Was it a coincidence or… Max decided to buy it. He was good and ready to barter with Sythia, but she gave it to him for free. Utterly confusing Max, and Clammy.

“You have already brought me a new customer. Just keep bringing me more and call it payment.” She paused for a moment, before adding, “Also if you ever open that box you took last time, you have to tell me what was in it.”

The box, oh right. After his initial testing Max had completely forgotten about it. The box has since stopped whispering to him, but it has been stuck in his inventory. Maybe it couldn't whisper in there? Max needed to look into it more. They said their goodbyes and left for the mansion. On the way, they got some lunch, and snacks from a vendor stall.

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