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A note from Belgianfri

Yesterday, I started up a patreon! We're up to 9 advance chapters right now.

If you feel like reading ahead and/or supporting me as an author, you can check it out if you have the time.

Thank you to anyone who supports me, and thank you to anyone who reads my story!

Your support in doing what I love means the world to me.

 

 

The next morning, I woke up in my small room in the guild quarters. Michael was still sleeping in the extra bed the servants had delivered last night. I tiptoed to my day clothes and put them on, before quietly leaving the room. When I arrived at the mess hall, I found Doran already there, eating a hearty breakfast.

I ordered the same from the cooking staff and took a seat next to him.

"Hey there, Doran. Up already? You really don't break that habit, do you?"

He got a small smile on his face and paused to reply, putting his honeyed waffle back down on the plate as he did so.

"You should be well aware of my daily schedule by now, Arthur."

"Thanks for delivering that 'triangle' to the guild for me, by the way." I said in gratitude.

"I am not owed thanks for that task, the guild master paid me handsomely to have it delivered from the capital branch."

I was about to reply, but Doran quickly changed the subject.

"I see that the child is not with you."

I smiled ruefully. I supposed that he didn't want to go into more detail about the delivering job, so I followed along.

"Yeah, he's still sleeping. I didn't want to wake him up, he had a hard time falling asleep last night."

Doran took on a pensive look.

"The sudden change in environment has probably been quite a shock to the young man. Speaking of, now that we have some spare time, why don't we head to the training yard to do some light sparring? You can tell me about what happened during your quest in the meantime."

I smiled back at him.

"Sounds good. Did you receive my new status screen from the guild master yet?"

He nodded. "I had the chance to peruse it last night. You have gained some interesting skills, however, they are outside of your usual strategies. You will have to practice with them if you want to become proficient enough to use them reliably in battle."

"That was always the plan, blondie. With my new skills, I'm confident in beating you this time."

He had a large grin on his face. When it came to fights, the normally uptight paladin always lost his cool.

"We shall see about that, Arthur. Your overconfidence shall be your undoing."

 


 

When we got to the training yard, we found several hunters already there. I wasn't confident in revealing my affinity to the wider world yet, so sparring here wouldn't be possible. Doran seemed to notice my discomfort, because he gave a helpful suggestion.

"The end of summer has arrived and with it many hunters are ending their vacations. As a result, the guild has become rather busy as of late. I suggest we make a daily trip outside of the city to practice, until you are willing to share your affinity and circumstances with the other guild members."

I regarded him apologetically.

"I'm sorry, instructor. I just want to be strong enough to at least run away from any fanatics. The stares I would get from the other members definitely wouldn't be pleasant either."

He hummed a little, waving off my apology.

"It's not about strength, Arthur. The guild can protect you from the fanatics that disregard the law for their beliefs. If you want to be comfortable with your affinity and yourself as a person, you must wear it on your sleeve. That being said, it is prudent to first accrue some merits before revealing yourself. The other members would not look kindly on a suspicious dark-aligned warrior, but a person that has fought and killed many of our arch enemies? I believe they would be far more accepting of such a person, no matter the circumstances."

 

Since we were leaving Reito and heading into the forest to train, I would have to explain the situation to Michael. Doran had arranged for Michael to spend the day with the kids from a guild-sponsored orphanage for a while, before settling in there. As a young hunter myself, I simply couldn't take care of him for a long period of time. At most, I could play the role of an older brother.

Speaking of older brothers, my mother would be about 3 months along with her pregnancy by now. In 6 months she would give birth. I would attempt to be there around that time to welcome my new sibling. Hopefully, my parents would get the opportunity to raise a kid not plagued by their affinity as I had been. It certainly had its advantages now that I had my class, but I couldn't have made things easy for them.

When I arrived at my room, I knocked on the door and entered. Michael was still sleeping, so I woke him up. I shook him a little, which caused him to grunt.

"Good morning, Michael. It's time to wake up. It's your first day inside of the orphanage."

He woke up, slowly raising himself upright.

"D -do I really have to go? I want to stay with you."

In the short time we'd known one another, the kid had gotten a little too attached to me. It wasn't surprising, he had recently lost his father and would naturally cling to the first person that gave him the time of day again. Still, I couldn't give him what he was hoping for.

"I'm sorry, kid. I just don't have time to take care of you like a parent. We can still spend the next week together, but afterward, I'm heading out again. Look on the bright side, the orphanage lets you study magic and might even sign you up for preparatory school if you show talent!"

He seemed to perk up at that.

"Really? I can go to preparatory school if I work hard?"

I gave him a reassuring smile.

"As long as you work hard and show other people that you work hard, yes. If other people don't see for themselves how hard you work, they'll assume you don't work at all."

That's the advice my father had always given me. It had rung true so far. To be fair, I could understand why the kid was so excited about preparatory school. Major cities all had schools like that- the capital even had three, one being the royal academy. Kids who hadn't awakened yet could go to one of these schools and receive training and education to receive certain skills, classes and stats upon awakening at 18. It was fairly expensive, which is why talented commoners relied on guilds and organisations to get into a school. The witch hunters' guild also had a scholarship program like this. The conditions were stringent, but I was hopeful that Michael would be selected. He still had half a year to prove himself before he became eligible to attend a school at thirteen years old. I myself had never been interested in this option because I was confident that my own training would get me the class I wanted, but for a mage like Michael that relied on knowledge, an academy scholarship would be a godsend.

After hearing about this option, Michael was quite eager to start his day.

 


 

About two hours later, Doran and I found ourselves within the clearing of a forest. We had dropped Michael off at the orphanage as we left the city, where he had been welcomed by a young woman who acted as the [Caretaker] of the place. After waving him goodbye, we had continued our journey. By using our stats and movement skills like [Shadow apparation] we had crossed a lot of ground in just a few hours. Apparating continuously was a serious drain on my mana, but with my new core a short rest was enough to recover each time. This made for great skill progression as well, both for my core and my apparation skill.

The forest we had found was mostly filled with tall trees and dense foliage. It was a forest you could find anywhere in Roa, due to its moderate climate. Birdsong and rustling bushes brought the forest to life, and all of this gave way to a small plain of grass, as we found ourselves in an empty clearing. It was the perfect place to go wild, though we would probably tear up a large part of the forest in our fight. Oh well, we were planning on using this site regularly over the next week, so at least only one location would be destroyed like this.

When we were done inspecting our surroundings, both of us wordlessly readied ourselves for a proper spar. We were getting used to each other's movement and character by now, so when I saw Doran immediately use his light-based skill, coating his sword in a holy aura, I knew that he meant business.

Luckily, thanks to [Dark Form] I didn't need to charge up to fight him toe to toe. I was ready before the fight even started. Still, the point of this spar was to test my new skills, so why wouldn't I?

I pushed my core and body into overload, starting the familiar process of breaking and reconstructing my body for the sake of a little more power.

It took a few seconds before the mana was abundant enough, probably because there wasn't much dark mana here, forcing me to rely on my core sucking up other mana.

Thankfully, Doran gave me time to do so. I knew he wouldn't the next time we sparred like this, but I would take what I could get at this point.

When the amount of mana coursing through my body reached a satisfactory amount, I expelled it all in one, immediately starting up the process of overloading again afterward.

I grabbed onto the wave of mana surrounding my body and forced it to become tangible again, creating a maelstrom of black wind around my body. That was also the exact moment when Doran decided he had given me enough leeway. He charged straight at me in a thrusting motion, flying sword-first into the barrier I had created.

I focussed all of my willpower into my overloaded shield in hopes of blocking his strike, which had mixed results. My wind succeeded in blocking his strike and even caused some cuts on his arm when he got close. None of the wounds were deep, but considering I hadn't been able to scratch his terrifying constitution before, it was an improvement. The issue lay with his affinity. The light elemental mana coating his sword forced any mana I had overloaded to dissipate almost instantly, which in turn forced me to reinforce the front of my shield with mana from the other sides, localising my supposed AOE attack. In other words, because so much mana was wasted, my elementary technique lost its main advantage.

Doran kept pressing into his attack when he noticed my shield running out of mana, but luckily the second dose of overloaded mana was expelled from my body and core a moment later.

I rebuilt a part of my shield and centred the rest of the overloaded mana into my palm to charge up [Overloaded orb]. I pushed as much overloaded mana as I could grasp onto into the skill, creating a small black marble in my hand. Without hesitation, I threw it at Doran before he could counterattack.

Noticing the small black orb that I had launched at him, he created some distance and planted his sword into the ground. A moment later, a golden, slightly translucent barrier was formed out of light mana. He could have easily dodged the relatively slow projectile, but chose to meet it head-on to test its power.

It turned out that orbs made of concentrated unstable dark mana were slightly more volatile than your typical tier 2 skill. The moment the marble made contact with the shield, it shattered. Nothing seemed to happen for a moment, until a powerful black shockwave erupted from the epicentre of the blast. As it erupted outward large parts of the shield shattered, unable to block the explosion. Even I was thrown back into a tree, even though I had been quite far away from the attack when the shockwave occurred.

Coughing a little blood, I waited for my dark form to heal whatever broken ribs I had before standing up. As the dust settled, I called out to the other side of the clearing.

"Doran! Are you alright?"

Instead of receiving an answer, I got my answer in the form of a very angry, very blond, now slightly bald man catapulting himself out of the dust, golden sword raised to the sky.

"Pay for what you did to my hair, you faithless cur!"

I whimpered a little in fear.

"Oh, crap."

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About the author

Belgianfri

  • Your holiness

Bio: I like fries. The belgian kind.

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