As we sailed beyond the horizon, the ships continued to be carried by a favorable wind. Before us, the water smoothed out, as if paving the way. Between myself and the other druids, there was no chance for any natural disturbance.
After sailing for roughly half an hour, the formation of the ships began to move. Of the eleven circling ships, three moved in to set up a triangle formation around the Jolly Dodger, while the other eight spread out to fill in the gaps that they left behind. With this, we had two ‘circles’ of ships around us, each with their own defenses and combatants.
Immediately after the formation was established like this, one of the lower level people in the group jumped up, grabbing onto the rope ladder on the central mast. They hurriedly climbed up to sit in the basket atop the mast, and began scanning the horizon with their eyes. No doubt the scout of the ship.
I could feel traces of ki within the body of the scout, and the way his eyes glowed when he scanned the surroundings likely indicated he was a mage as well. Though, if he was recruited for this job, all of his abilities should focus towards the position of being a lookout. “Captain Bote!” The man called down from above, his voice carrying even against the wind I had created.
“What is it, Saru!?” Emona responded from behind the wheel, gripping it tightly with both hands to keep the ship steady.
“Three monsters to the front! Appear to be a trio of leofin!” After hearing him say that, I glanced ahead, using ki to enhance my sight and pierce beneath the calm waters. Sure enough, there were indeed three large fish, each no smaller than the smaller ships in our fleet. Though the system named them King Catfish, due to their bladelike whiskers and sharp spines. Each had a level of just over two hundred, so I wasn’t entirely worried.
“Aye!” Emona closed her eyes for a long moment and spoke. “Darl, ye got three leofin just off the bow. Can ye handle them, or do ye need some assistance?” Though I could hear her speaking, her voice wasn’t carrying very well. It was likely that she was using some special technique to communicate, going by the fluctuations of mana. “Aye, righty then!”
Opening her eyes, Emona grinned up towards the lookout. “Pay them no mind, boy! Darl can handle a group of would-be sharks like that!”
Even as she spoke, I could feel a strong fluctuation coming from the front ship. Focusing, I saw two of the crew members step forward. Given their nearly identical appearances, they seemed to be a pair of kitsune sisters. Both with black hair and tails, and slender bodies covered in black robes.
Each of the sisters extended a hand out towards one another, clasping their hands together. I could hear one of them speaking, while circles of light formed above the other. “Lady of ice, king of the deep, duke of blades.”
It took me a moment to realize what they were doing, and seeing them pull it off left me amazed. “The three princes stand firm to defend their home. Those who strike against them shall be torn asunder.”
As the one sister spoke, the glowing magic circles began lighting up with an icy blue hue. They’re combining their powers to make higher level elementalist spells! When the spell was finished, three giant spears of ice launched from the circles, hovering up into the air. As if they had eyes of their own, each one turned and and stabbed towards a fish, piercing cleanly through their bodies and embedding into the sea floor below.
“The threat’s clear, Captain! No other monsters in sight!” Saru shouted back from up above as the dead fish stopped, floating slowly to the surface.
“Aye!” Edona grinned happily as she heard that, closing her eyes again. “Good work, Darl! Give the sisters my regards… Emil! You’re on cleanup! Harvest what you can and join up with us. The core of a few leofin would make a good spare battery for our ward!”
As she spoke, we kept sailing past the fish that were rising to the surface, not paying any more mind to them. Behind us, three ships broke off the formation, staying behind with the monsters. Though, they were only back there for a few minutes before I could see them starting to catch up again.
All the while, I was piecing together in my head how those two sisters managed to do what they did. One has to be a high level mage, and the other is probably the ship’s druid… As sisters, their teamwork is probably really well practiced. They probably have plans in place for what kinds of spells they use for given situations. The mage sets up the spell and holds it in place, and the druid feeds the natural energy into it with the orders to modify the spell.
In truth, that sounded easily, but was actually a lot more complicated! It could never be so simple to just replicate the effects of a higher tier class like that. Just from watching, I could tell that it required a great deal of trust and cooperation, as well as years of practice to pull something like that off.
Soon, a low chuckle emerged from my mouth as I looked at the eleven ships surrounding ours, and then to Emona. If the vanguard is that strong, I can only imagine what the rest of them will be like. But… that doesn’t mean I’m weak, by any stretch.
After getting that little jolt of reality, I closed my eyes and focused. The other druids would be steadying the waves around us, so my only job was to keep the wind blowing until a storm arrived. In other words, I had plenty of time to practice!
Something that I knew about druids from a long time ago was that their class levels weren’t everything. More important was their mental discipline. They did not have a limited amount of energy to work with like a mage or a monk, but their energy was weaker. At the same time, that meant that training would allow them to improve, even without their levels increasing.
Since I would be spending the next year as a druid, I felt that I should make the most of this time and truly practice with what I had. So, I spent most of my time with my eyes closed, using my token to connect with the natural energies. I wanted to keep this discrete, so I did not make any obvious effects like the fireball I used to test it before.
Instead, I created a single ball of ice beneath the ship, and pushed it downwards. This was perhaps the most literal mental exercise I could come up with, finding the limits of my control and trying to push against them. Even only after two hours at sea, the water was so deep that the ball of ice did not reach after being pushed to the edge of my control.
Time and again, the ice struggled to float to the surface, and I firmly pushed it back down again. I could feel a headache building from the constant focus, but at the same time there was something else. It was hard to gauge since I couldn’t see it, but it felt like the ice had started to go deeper over time.
I kept up this training for the entire first day of the journey, until the sun had long since set beyond the horizon. No longer could we see land, no matter which way we looked. Just the boundless sea reflecting the clear sky.
I don’t know how many monster attacks the fleet faced on this first day, as I had been fully immersed in training myself, but at the very least nothing happened to disturb the centermost ship. No matter how distracted I was, I wouldn’t have been able to ignore that. Oh Goddess of Fate, you have a collect call from your Keeper.
I wasn’t really sure why I felt the need to, but I wanted to call Terra to talk for a bit. However, soon she replied in an almost monotone voice. I’m sorry, the number you have dialed is unavailable. Please hang up and pray again.
Har har… Real funny. Maybe I should just tell Aurivy that you were bullying me.
As soon as I thought that, the voice spoke up in my mind again. Oh, hey Dale! Sorry, didn’t hear you the first time. So, what’s up?
I chuckled softly as I heard that, shaking my head. I was wondering something, and I wanted to get a confirmation from you. Plus, I like to have someone else to talk to now and then, and Leowynn is meditating.
That wasn’t a lie, as I had felt Leowynn meditating inside of my soul as soon as the ship left the port. Alright, fine. I guess you wanna ask about those two sisters, then? The elementalist twins?
I felt a small grin tugging on my lips as I shook my head. No, I think I have them figured out. I wanted to ask about myself. Is it just me, or is my control over Natural Energy actually growing pretty fast? Because it seems pretty fast!
There was a light laugh over our connection in response. Oh, it is. But that’s not really anything special, given the situation. You’re a level eleven druid who realistically should have the control and limits of a level one hundred and twenty four druid. A normal druid of that level would have trained for decades in this time period to reach their limit.
Right now, you’re simply adjusting. It’s just going faster for you than normal because of that new achievement you got when making the World Spirits. The extra affinity with Natural Energy will let you reach your new limits faster than normal.
Well… that was certainly reassuring. I had all but forgotten about that little enhancement, since it didn’t seem to do anything for me. Alright, thanks. By the way, what’s up with Udona and Emona? I thought that incarnations were more deeply connected than that?
For most, they are. She answered with a low sigh. But there are exceptions. For instance, someone like me with all of the knowledge of the system. Because there are effects that could potentially read the mind of another, that knowledge would be in danger of being leaked out if something happened.
So my incarnations have their own personalities, though they are loyal towards me and I can experience the world through them. But they can’t know any knowledge that is not already available within the world, so they can’t fully connect with me like they do the others. I just taught Udona how to distance herself from her incarnations in the same way that the system forces me to.
I nodded my head slightly in understanding. There was undoubtedly a way to get some mind reading or mind control powers. And an incarnation didn’t have any sort of special divine protection unless the god or goddess personally interfered, so it made sense that the system would have a failsafe for something like that. Alright. Well… any idea how long it’ll take me to reach my ‘limit’, then?
After I asked that, Terra seemed to go quiet for a long moment. If… if you practice like you have been, I’d give it two months. Might seem like a long time, but really it’s only that short because of your affinity, and the fact that you already have access to the levels in the first place.
I was just about to send another response when I felt a hand on my shoulder. Looking back, I saw Emona standing there, a smile on her lips. She wasn’t looking at me, but out ahead of the ship. Beyond the edge of the formation, something was creating ripples in the water. A giant, serpentine body poking up here and there.
“Looks like it’s ‘bout time for a real fight, Tebor.” She said in an excited tone. “Can’t have ya sittin’ this one out. At the very least, need to keep the ships safe for us.” As she said that, she walked forward, towards the front of the ship. I could feel the same mana ripples spreading out from her as when she spoke to the other ships before.
“Alright, boys and girls. Shall we show these landwalkers why they put us in charge?”