I begin my long journey back to where I parted with Si. That being said, it’s been more than a year since I left, and I had spent the first two months wandering aimlessly. Although it’s impossible to retrace my footsteps, I still have another way.
My <Magic Perception> has become a greater rank skill, extending my line of sight and granting the ability to distinguish between different types of mana. Naturally, this includes pure mana found in the World Stream.
Under the earth, I spot one of the “roots” that extend from a life well. If I follow the flow of mana I can trace it back to a life well, and if it’s the wrong place I’ll just try again. Come to think of it, I have plenty of skill points to spend, and my <Spellcrafter> title grants a tribute for registering custom skills. Either way, following this rainbow road is a win.
Speaking of different mana types, I’m surprised my book is leaking such pitch black energy! I thought my <Night Vision> had stopped working when I opened my bag. Dark affinity magic isn’t forbidden, but raising the dead is probably illegal. Should I destroy it or bury it? Who knows what foul sorcery it may unleash. I’ll hold onto the book until I can dispose of it properly. Call it environmental consideration.
Along the way, I scratch crosses on trees and rocks to mark my trail. So much for environmental consideration.
The second day passes and the mana stream is slowly getting thicker. I’m making progress, but it’s nowhere near as large as the roots I saw that day, when Si casted <Reveal Magic>. I guess mana is affected by gravity since it flows underground, but it’s possible a reverse case of the life well exists as well. I’ll ask Si if I have the chance.
Ah, once I meet her, what should we talk about? The fact that I boldly departed on a journey of self-discovery, only to never take a step outside the forest? That would be too embarrassing to discuss! I should have brought along a present…
On the dawn of the third day, I sense a small hare and kill it for nourishment. Unfortunately, I don’t think Si will appreciate it as a gift. Actually, I should have kept it alive for emergency rations. After all, I’ve just left my usual hunting grounds. It’s been so long since I last travelled.
I am shocked to feel a tinge of homesickness. I look back at my footsteps and realise for the past year I have always returned to Helena’s side by the third day. If I wasn’t following this mana stream, I would have subconsciously walked back to her cabin.
I begin to recall the oppressive loneliness that once plagued me before I met Helena. Was it the same for her too? The children do visit, but their stay is always short. Now that we’re apart, is she feeling the same solitude as I?
I clear my head of these thoughts, and continue to move. If I can’t handle this level of homesickness, how can I possibly explore all of Aren before I… I… pr-
I verbally scream in agitation at how spineless I am, despite the fact I can clearly see it.
Two weeks have passed, and the density of mana in the air has noticeably increased. I didn’t notice when I was a <Risen Skeleton>, but as a <Skeletal Mage> I can sense the difference in ambiance. After a few more minutes of walking, I find myself in a familiar place.
This is it. It’s a life well, but it’s not just any life well. It’s the same one where I learnt to speak, and discovered the traumatic truth about my condition. The same rainbow pillar is rising above the same forest canopy. My <Magic Perception> isn’t strong enough to view its entire spectrum of colours, or the top of the fountain that touches the sky, but I recognise the pattern of its impossibly long roots.
I fall into melancholy and recall my association with Si. The joy of being understood, the angst of hearing the truth, the guilt of making her cry. I look around and find nothing but the ghosts of my past.
However, out of the corner of my eye, I see a familiar golden glow. I snap my head and notice a beautifully inscribed magic circle on the trunk of a tree. The magical energies that surround it have the same radiance as Si.
“What is it?” I wonder, as I reach out to…
Ouch! That stings! Wait, did I just feel pain? How is that possible, especially without nerves!? Could this be Holy magic, the only other weakness of mine? If that’s true, Si could have vaporised me from the moment we met… Thank goodness she’s such a wonderful fairy!
I stare at the magic circle and wonder why she had constructed such a thing. In any case, this location must hold some significance to her, so if I wait long enough maybe she will appear. Now that I have marked my path, I can return to Helena within ten days, which gives me about a week to stay. Should I introduce Si to Helena? That may prove awkward, considering Helena was banished due to a fairy tale.
I turn to face the life well, and prepare to archive my Custom Skills.
<Archive Control Oxygen and Kinetic Barrier?>
A tendril of pure mana extends from the life well and connects to me. No, that’s not right. It’s not mana but the soul of the World Stream. I feel an illusionary warmth fill my mind before it recedes, leaving me in a state of peace.
<Control Oxygen and Kinetic Barrier have been archived in the World Stream.
100 Skill Points exchanged!>
Eh, is this my tribute? More skill points and experience? I better change the tooltip later with Crest.
Speaking of which, I better check my status.
Class: Skeletal Mage
Max HP: 74 (↑3)
Max MP: 43 (↑4)
Attack: 19 (18+1) (↑1)
Defence: 16 (13+3)
Magic: 25 (↑3)
Resilience: 18 (↑1)
Agility: 19 (20-1) (↑1)
Integrity: 86 (↑5)
Unique Skills: Ruler of One
Innate Skills: Night Vision (Greater) | Create Status (High) | Soul Core (Greater) | Soul Eater (Greater) | Enhance Mind (Greater) | Parallel Thought (Basic) | Magic Perception (Greater)
Extra Skills: Heavy Strike (Greater) | Shadow Step (Greater) | Project Voice (Greater) | Sneak (Basic)
Magic Skills: Fireball (Basic) | Lightning (Basic) | Conjure Flame (Basic)
Custom Skills: Control Oxygen (Basic) | Kinetic Barrier (Basic)
Skill Points: 270/290
Affinities: Spirit | Dark
Resistances: Nullify Manipulation | Nullify Mental Impairment | Nullify Pain | Nullify Metabolism | Nullify Fatigue | Nullify Ailment | Temperature Resistance | Decay Resistance | Dark Resistance
Weaknesses: Holy Weakness | Blunt Weakness
Titles: Worldfarer | Hunter | Novice Mage | Spellcrafter
Equipment: Chipped Iron Short Sword | Wooden Mask | Boots | Cloak* | Gloves*
Items: Suspicious Book*
Aside from my stats nothing else has changed, except my Custom Skills are now categorised as basic. Were they categorised at the discretion of the World Stream?
I conjure a blue, translucent wall with relative ease.
Perfect. My custom skills are now supported by the World Stream, and with the extra skill points from <Spellcrafter>, I can purchase extra skills and use them to develop even more spells!
Time to spend my pocket money. There is one skill I’m interested in, and that’s long distance teleportation. With it, I can see Helena whenever I want. I won’t visit every day, otherwise it would diminish my resolve to travel.
<Teleport (Basic): 500 Skill Points required.
You currently possess 270 Skill Points.>
Ugh, so expensive, and it’s only a basic rank skill too. It probably has a short range, which I will need to raise until it’s master rank. Then again, if I perfect my <Shadow Step>, would it be capable of long distance transfer?
I’m stuck between saving my points and spending it. I give in to temptation, and reason that I can always replenish my cache by developing new skills. But what should I exchange it for?
I remember my theory about gravity and mana, and decide to acquire a relevant skill to test it. I try asking for a gravity based skill, but nothing happens. Does this mean it’s a foreign concept, or am I incapable of learning it?
I change my search word to weight, and as a result:
<Control Weight (Basic): 100 Skill Points required.>
Good. I can use this skill as a base and create a gravity control spell to refund half of it.
<100 Skill Points used.
Extra Skill: Control Weight (Basic) obtained!>
<Control Weight (Basic): Change weight of item in contact by a limited margin.>
I activate <Control Weight> on my sword, and drop it alongside my pouch at the same height, at the same time. Contrary to the laws of physics, the sword falls faster. I see. The gravitational force on the item has increased instead of raising its mass, and it appears to consume mana over time to maintain the effect. Did its creator believe heavier objects fall faster? With a bit more work, I’m sure I can create a <Control Gravity> skill.
I still have 170 skill points left, so I rack my nonexistent brain for ideas. After much consideration, I figure I need a way to measure my life force. I’ve been arbitrarily hunting every three to four days. I do not know how long my body can last without collapsing. Let’s see, what keyword should I use? I feel like I’m using a search engine…
<Spectral Sense (Basic): 50 Skill Points required.
You currently possess 170 Skill Points.>
So cheap! Is it due to my spiritual affinity and <Novice Mage> title? <Control Weight> was probably on discount as well. I should purchase more basic dark/spirit element skills in future… or not. If it’s so easy to buy, I may as well train and acquire those skills for free.
<50 Skill Points used.
Extra Skill: Spectral Sense (Basic) obtained!>
<Spectral Sense (Basic): Ability to sense spectral energy.>
That will be all for today. I still plan to stock up on points for <Teleport>, but for now it’s a distant goal.
I feel several static presences within my body, but only one appears to be active. I release all the souls I’ve stored in my <Soul Core> and find that lively spirit to be mine. It seems to be in good health, but I need to “starve” in order to test my limits.
In the mean time, what else can <Spectral Sense> be used for? I decide to recapture one of my released souls, but all it does is sense spiritual energy. Okay, what if I upgrade it?
I sit down across from Si’s magic circle, and begin my seven day meditation.