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A note from MelasDelta

A bit later than usual. Because I woke up late lmao.

It didn’t take me too long to reach Windrip. The city was still under repairs from the Goblin Lord’s attack, but it was in a much better condition now compared to before. There were actual walls set up again, girdling its peripheries so the city’s guards and adventurers didn’t need to work overtime on the lookout for stray monsters. Most of the housing had been restored too, and tents no longer lined the streets.

Windrip was still in a ragged state, even compared to how it initially looked. Its architecture had been very brutalist— the houses and shops here placed a precedence on necessity, used as further fortifications for the city in the case of a large-scale monster attack breaching the walls. It was why property in Windrip had a relatively high upkeep cost unlike regular cities in the Astrad Kingdom.

It was all rather dull to look at. Even from above. There was a small section of Windrip within the confines of the walls dedicated to farmland, but it was compact and built like box. It was almost like an even gloomier version of an urban farm from Earth.

So it was suffice to say that Windrip had never been a luxurious location. But coming from Sudbury back here was a world of a difference. Still, I would have thought I would find this city to be somewhat endearing— like visiting an old friend or a childhood home. After all, this was the first city I had ever entered since arriving in Vacuos. It was the first sign of civilization I had encountered in a long time.

But I felt nothing when I got back. It was odd. I really found it unsettling how empty I felt inside when I reached Windrip.

I flashed my Adventurer’s Guild badge upon arriving at the city, but the guards still made me pay up a fee for entry since I was an unofficial adventurer. I was rather rich now— a millionaire-equivalent back on Earth. So I just shrugged and paid the toll without much complaint.

I was greeted by a few people I sort of recognized but hardly ever talked to. They waved at me, calling out my name, and I just nodded back. After everything that had happened thus far, I was relatively famous here in Windrip. Most people still didn’t know I killed the Goblin Lord to save the city, but my feats since becoming an adventurer were well detailed by the Adventurer’s Guild.

I had slain a mountain cyclops and dragged its head through the streets of Windrip. I had fought off a flock of winged drakenwolves right outside of the city. And most of all, I had defeated a world-renowned S-rank adventurer in battle over a dozen times.

There was no denying it— I had attracted quite a lot of attention to myself when I had initially intended to keep a low profile. I had also taken up the mantle of an infamous adventurer when my goal was to live a peaceful life. The outcome was contradictory, and I knew the reason why.

I simply couldn’t integrate back into society. Or, rather, I struggled to fit into a normal life after living such a long life of chaos and battle.

It didn’t help that the very laws underpinning everything about Vacuos drastically differed to Earth’s own set of laws of physics, and with Classes and Skills thrown into the mix, everything I knew about civil society was moot too.

Perhaps I was also partially at fault for not just fucking off to some farm somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I had been too hyper-fixated on attaining a distant goal, I didn’t even realize I was self-sabotaging myself now. This realization only cemented itself when I saw the way the people of Windrip treated me. So I resolved myself.

I was going to try again to live a normal life and forego the life of a hero. The System couldn’t impose this role onto me, nor could the Void force me back into its shackles. Whether I was going to stay in Noele’s parents’ farm, find some other place to settle down in Vacuos, or even fail in this endeavor out of sheer boredom, I didn’t know.

I just knew that today was the day I was going to leave Windrip behind for good.

 

—--

“Oh, you’re leaving Windrip?” Brynn blinked. “Is it because of the war? Because, trust me, no army is ever going to march down to this neck of the woods.”

“I don’t really care about that,” I said honestly.

I had wondered why Windrip seemed awfully calm in comparison to Sudbury and Northon. But with Windrip’s location right at the edge of Briar Glen, it only made sense that taking over this city wasn’t ever going to be an invading army’s priority.

The [Innkeeper] was leaning against the bar counter with a wet tower slapped over her shoulder. I glanced around the common room of her inn, seeing a young woman rushing around the tables and serving customers in a hurry.

I nodded at the busy hall. “You’ve finally gotten a [Barmaid], I see.”

The inn was emptier than a month ago right after the Goblin lord’s attack. But it was still rather full compared to when I first arrived. It was just Brynn working here, but now she needed to hire extra help so she could keep working the kitchen.

“Business was slow when you first got here— practically no one was sleeping in the shared rooms or hallway. I was pretty much relying on that blonde lady for most of my business… Noele, was it? Your apprentice?”

“Yeah,” I confirmed.

Brynn chuckled as she waved a hand off. “Noele was one of six customers I had at the time, and she was the only one staying in my private rooms until you came around.”

She had a total of four private rooms, all of which were located on the second floor. The third floor rooms held shared rooms of up to three occupants each, and the entirety of the fourth floor was a large corridor reserved for a single shared room for as low as three copper a night.

Well, at least, that was the price when I first arrived here. I had a feeling it was a bit more expensive at between five to ten copper now that Brynn’s business was booming again. I had chosen to pay for the most expensive option because I valued my privacy, and the [Innkeeper] had been more than ecstatic to give me lodging.

But now I was leaving, and so was Noele. With both of us gone at the same time, Brynn was going to lose a significant chunk of her revenue stream. She leant forward, giving me a pleading look.

“Is there nothing I can do to convince you to stay?” she asked. “Windrip is a lovely place, especially in the late spring. You’ll be able to see the alyzia trees blooming over the next month.”

I shook my head. “Since I’ve arrived here, there has been nothing but trouble. From goblin attacks to winged drakenwolves. I think I’m good.”

I also wanted to add that if I had escaped the Fractured Realm a day later than I did, Ar’elith the First Lich King would have razed all of Windrip to the ground and reanimated its citizens as an undead army.

“I’ll pay for my full stay,” I continued with a nod. “And I’ll pay for Noele’s too. I just need to pick up her belongings and I’ll get going.”

“That’s a shame. I really would’ve loved to try out another of your burgers, y’know?” Brynn fluttered her eyes innocently at me.

“No you wouldn’t,” I said flatly.

With that settled, I forked over the payment to Brynn and gathered my things from my room. I didn’t have much. I had mostly spent my gold and silver on trinkets I didn’t end up using. I had a gilded pocketwatch resting on the bedside table, an empty picture frame lying facedown at my desk, and a dozen sheets of drawing canvas for when I tried to learn how to paint.

There were a plethora of other random objects lying around, but they all easily fit into the Bag of Holding Grat-ra’zun had given me— the one which carried the elven gold coins within. I also had a few extra sets of clothes I stuffed inside, and I even had my old rags hung in the closet. I didn’t think I’d use them ever again, but they were the clothes I had woken up in the Fractured Realm with. I wasn’t going to toss them away.

I was still wearing my tattered cloak behind me. I always had it over my jacket, and I wasn’t going to remove it anytime soon. But while everyone seemed to notice its strange properties at first— how it was literally falling apart yet still held together— I wondered why no one ever pointed it out. It was almost as if they forgot about the cloak as soon as they saw it, and their eyes would glaze over it each subsequent time they stared at it after.

Maybe they never took proper notice of it because it was a cloak I found in the Fractured Realm. The System’s shenanigans might have something to do with it. It was just like the oddness I experienced with the language here in Vacuos.

I was just glad I didn’t need to deal with anyone accusing me of being Void-touched for having this cloak.

I entered Noele’s room next, and quickly sorted through her stuff without meddling too much into her belongings. She had a spare Bag of Holding lying around, so I just kept her things in there. I only paused when I lifted a small notebook, and a dull-colored picture dropped to the ground.

“Do they have cameras in this world?” I raised a brow, intrigued. I was told that dwarves and gnomes were rather inventive with magic, but I didn’t expect there to be actual photography technology.

If they did, it must have been an incredibly old-fashioned camera by Earth’s standards. The picture itself was in an incredibly pristine condition, but that was likely from the magical enchantment cast over the paper, considering that the image was a rather poor quality. So the paper gave off a light sheen as I studied the figure captured in the picture.

It was a young woman— not Noele, but she had the same long golden hair, although it was tied into a braid instead of a ponytail. She was dressed in rougher clothing— like she had hand-sewn clothes to mimic a [Lord] or a [Lady]’s outfit, but lacked the quality and detail from a skilled craftsman’s handiwork.

She held onto two swords, one on each hand, even as she raised the seams of her dress in a curtsy-like bow. I had a feeling she didn’t actually know how to do a proper curtsy or bow, but I respected her effort. Her head was half-raised, and I could see the brief glimpse of her pure white eyes. Just like Noele’s eyes.

It was Nora the Noble Sworddancer.

“So this is Noele’s sister…” I murmured to myself. “I didn’t expect them to look so similar.”

Nora reminded me of Noele, somehow. Or maybe it was the other way around— Noele reminded me of Nora. Either way, I had been under the impression there was a rather significant age gap between them— around five to ten years, at the very least.

I could see why Noele admired her older sister so much. Nora looked so brave and elegant in this picture. Valiant and charming. She seemed to embody all the kinds of qualities anyone would respect. Like a true hero.

I wondered if Noele just saw me as a replacement for her dead sister. I was her mentor, and she held me in high regard. But I hadn’t even taught her much in the first place; I was just following her around and letting her do whatever she wanted.

And I remembered the events of just under a week ago— the day before we temporarily parted ways. The Noble Spellsword had expected me to put a halt to the war between the Astrad Kingdom and the Kingdom of Kal, but I said no.

She looked at me slightly differently after that. Hopefully that was enough to disillusion her. I had a sister back on Earth, and I could somewhat understand how the blonde girl felt. But I didn’t want her to think I was just like Nora. Because I was quite literally the opposite of her sister. So it was for the best that I had rejected her request.

Shaking my head, I dismissed these thoughts and pocketed the picture and the notebook into Noele’s Bag of Holding. I collected the rest of the blonde girl’s belongings and prepared to leave Windrip. But just as I exited Brynn’s inn, I was stopped by a lanky figure.

“Amelia,” a voice said. “I heard you were leaving Windrip.”

Evan, the Guildmaster of the Adventurer’s Guild of Windrip, stood by the front door. He swept into a low bow, tipping his overly-large pointed hat my way.

“I apologize for bothering you, but may we have a small chat before you depart?” Evan asked as he swept low into a bow.

I gave him a flat stare. “No.”

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MelasDelta

  • February Schedule: Amelia, Salvos, Violet, and Thera ​March Schedule: Amelia, Salvos, and Violet ​April Schedule: Amelia, Salvos, and Violet
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