Rainer sat at a table within his mansion deep in thought. To the side, Gunthar watched over the two guests, who Rainer had drained of mana and would continue to do so periodically.
Kara, with a little Luna scratching her ear, joined Gunthar in guard, though, in truth, she was staring at Rainer. He sat resting his head on his fist gazing out toward nothing in particular. Her relief had caused her to gloss over it when he came out of his trial, but now even without knowing how much it increased by, his new appearance left her stunned. A foot followed her thoughts, kicking the unconscious Fae, eliciting a small grunt.
“Little Wolf?” Gunthar asked a bit confused.
“Look at Rainer, his 2nd Tier class improved his charisma significantly...these stupid Fae ruined an entertaining reunion…”
“I see,” Gunthar mumbled and looked off into the distance, “Those who hold out their hands in prayer cannot choose the miracle that comes to them…”
“What 2nd class is he, in any case, Luna?” Kara asked ignoring Gunthar’s antics. She had heard the Fae mumble Lord Archon, but was positive she misheard. Sure, in herself mishearing, to the point where it wasn’t even an option.
“Archon,” Luna answered while still absentmindedly moving her small hands on Kara’s ear. Luna had already mentally noted Rainer as better than the “First Hero.” So him being an Archon, was just an all, but expected result.
Kara and Gunthar just stood there frozen. The existence known as an Archon meant different things and had varying legends between the two, yet one thing was clear: It was an existence beyond anything they could imagine.
An invisible tension seemed to ease in Kara’s shoulders as she leaned against the wall. The only time she felt safe ever since she was forced to run away was with Rainer. Yet after the attack on him by the Fae, she was once more reminded of those who sought her. Had he told her not to run to keep him safe, she may very well have. But now, she fully believed the words she had told Rainer before him leaving for his 2nd Class Advancement.
Even up until now Gunthar had been unsure as to why a small group of 3 had been chosen for the quest in Nalmar. Even after all of Rainer’s abilities, the Little Wolf’s strength, and the Lady of the Fae’s absurd healing ability, they were, in the end, three people. But true understanding came to him.
As both Gunthar and Kara lacked words, Rainer spent his thoughts on exactly which second primary class he’d choose. Luna had opened the menu for him, and he went over the descriptions of the most promising ones.
[Magic Scholar: One who seeks to solve the mysteries behind Magic and its Runic Languages. 25% Increase in the learning of Runic Languages. 25% General Improvement to all Magic Skills. +2.5 Intelligence, .5 Affinity, per level after 1]
[Arcane Bladesman: As a seeker of the Arcane, the true origin of magic, all secrets of the universe await thee. Wields his magic in his blade and lets his foes know of the Arcane’s versatile power. 60% General improvement and growth to Arcane spells and skills. 25% Improvement and growth to all skills and spells. 25% Total improvement to Aura and the [Arcane Blade] spell. Allows the initial learning of any skill far easier. +1 Intelligence, +1 Affinity, +.5 Strength, +.5 Dexterity, +.5 Aura Control, +.5 Aura Attunement, +.3 Willpower, +.5 Arcane Attunement, .05 All Attributes per Level after 1]
[Paladin: A truly versatile combatant. Wielder of Might, Aura, and Light. One who knows no bounds in seeking the mastery of combat. 50% General Improvement to Aura and its skills. 40% General Improvement to all Light skills and spells. 30% General Improvement to all physical skills. +.5 Intelligence, +.5 Affinity, +1 Strength, +.5 Dexterity, +1 Aura Control, +1 Aura Attunement per Level after 1]
He also had no plans on gaining more Familiars anytime soon, so any beast and familiar related class were of little interest. Rather he hoped Luna or Kara could take the Wyvern as theirs instead of him.
Rainer decided to choose one, that even at level 1, would provide the most benefit for his upcoming battle. [Arcane Bladesman] only added 60%, which while on its own was powerful, compared to his already 400% Arcane bonus it was not too large of a power up. Yet Rainer found a class ideally suited to his combat style, especially if the Fae coming included those among them that fought in melee range.
[Chronomancer: Bender of the very fabric of our universe. Controller of Space and Time. 75% General Improvement to Spatial and Time skills and magic. 25% Improvement to Spatial and Time Manipulation skills. +1 to Affinity, +2 to Intelligence, +1 to Willpower per level after 1.]
Jack of all trades, master of none…
Rainer thought to himself. He could improve his melee ability, but then compared to an actual warrior it was lacking. Instead, if he could improve his ability in controlling gravity and possibly far more useful subjects related to space-time, then his combat abilities multiplied.
With the bonus of 1 to all stats he ventured there wasn’t a mage who could fight him in close combat and to compete against a warrior, he’d rather do that as a mage.
Even then, lacking stats against a warrior, the presence of [Gravity Domain] could set an equal playing field. An equal playing field, that would then be torn asunder by the very existence of a spell like [Arcane Blade].
Rainer immediately used [Spatial Domain]. Not only had the mana cost decreased significantly, the accuracy of what he could sense within the domain increased. Out of all his magic he wished to level up [Spatial Domain] the most, yet he always lacked an idea of what to do. He hoped that extra 75% would get him over that boundary.
He extended it around the room and noticed the strange atmosphere surrounding Gunthar and Kara. Gunthar mumbled something about how it all made sense. What made sense, went beyond Rainer’s understanding. Kara leaned quietly against the wall with her eyes closed, a relaxed smile on her face.
Most importantly...neither guarded the Fae.
Rainer cleared his throat and gained both their attentions as he walked over.
“I see you’re really paying attention to our guests?” In truth, there was little reason to guard them. Rainer had recently drained both their mana and stamina. Even if they awoke, they could probably do little more than slur together a few angry words. They certainly wouldn’t have the magic to break through the rope tying them.
“Sorcerer! Is it true?” Gunthar, out of his stupor, ran over to Rainer.
“No...neither of you were paying attention. It was sarcasm. You’re kind of out of it Gunthar.”
“Not that Sorcerer. Are you truly an Archon?”
Rainer looked at Gunthar a bit surprised. The Fae had reacted strangely as well. But neither Gunthar nor the Fae seemed to care about him being an [Arcanist]. Though, of course, Gunthar and Kara cared when he revealed information about the class.
He only had the memory of choosing the [Archon] class. What choices he had or why he had those choices was unknown to him, the memory erased.
“I am. The Fae were surprised too. What’s the big deal?” He knew just how strong the class was, but this way was always more fun for him. He, however, knew nothing of the history of it.
“What’s the big deal, he says. Judging by Little Wolf’s reaction I imagine an Archon is a similarly legendary existence here. It was an [Archon] who discovered how to use the Mana Well for enchanting. Prior to that, it was, but a useless curiosity. He even constructed the barrier that was fueled by it. Without him, there would have never been a Nalmar. In combat, he was considered unrivaled. It was, however, long before my time.”
Kara joined in on the conversation.
“In this world, most races consider the story, or perhaps truth, of The Archon as a tale of their savior. Who helped to bring magic across the world and for the people to rise above the monsters that engulfed the world. I never knew that it was a class. It could be a coincidence, but...given the nature of your 1st class I cannot imagine this one is any less astounding.”
Rainer took a moment to share his class with both. Kara, who had already understood that he had become far more powerful only licked her lips imagining the future increases in attributes, whereas Gunthar stood entirely still. Lacking a facial expression no one could tell what Gunthar was thinking yet he was completely immobile.
“Silly people. Being so surprised. Luna wasn’t surprised at all,” Luna proudly declared as such, though no one paid the boasting Fairy any mind.
“Gunthar?” Rainer asked waving his hand in front of Gunthar’s face.
Gunthar seemed unresponsive.
Rainer only laughed a bit and focused on the next task at hand. He turned his attention toward the unconscious Fae. More specifically toward the female one.
[Fairy, Female, Rune Knight lvl 17]
Seeing her ability to resist his [Gravity Domain], his interest piqued. Such interest, only multiplied when he considered how a single Rune seemingly accomplished this. Add in the similarity of her runic lines that shown through her clothes across her body to his own [Arcane Awakening], and Rainer’s innate curiosity for magic grew to a point where he had no say in the matter.
“Hey, Kara, some of her leather armor looks complicated. Help me strip her,” Contrary to his expectations Kara didn’t even bat an eyelid.
With Kara’s help, Rainer unclothed the unconscious female Fae and was currently staring at the Runic patterns on her body. He noted his body during [Arcane Awakening], after fighting his other self, seemed Runic in nature though it didn’t seem to form anything. The Fae in front of him had far less complex silver lines across her body, but in the few places where they joined together as runes, they surpassed his own.
Slowly he traced his finger along the fair skin of the Fae. His eyes followed closely as he traced the lines across her chest and toward the Rune in the center. He stared at it intently, as if she were a tome of magic and not a woman who had her chest displayed in front of him. Her chest rose and fell with her every sharp breath, as she lacked stamina.
He knew the Rune; he understood the Rune, but he had no idea how this single Rune produced the effect he saw. It was a variation of one of the Runes in the formulae for [Mana Shield]. The effect that allowed her to resist the gravity he placed on her.
Kara stood guard a bit away, just in case, as Rainer checked over the Runic patterns. Her eyes were focused sharply on him causing Luna to speak.
“Is She-Wolf jealous?” The little fairy asked with a giggle.
“Not in the slightest. I was hoping to tease Rainer about the glances he took, but he hasn’t taken a single one. As if one of the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen wasn’t naked in front of him. It’s a bit disappointing.” Kara said while sighing and looking at the Blue-Hair Fae covered in elegant silver runic lines.
“Ah! Luna understands. Rainer is always making fun of Luna, but Luna can never do anything back. Saying how Luna falls asleep on guard or doesn’t appraise things properly, always playing around with Luna’s small body.”
But you do all those things…
Kara thought with a smile on her face.
After nearly an hour of tracing the lines and flipping over her sleeping body repeatedly, Rainer was no closer to understanding just how any of it worked. The Runes, from his perspective, while they were correct, they shouldn’t do anything. He knew not of any formulae that contained only a single Rune. Somehow it worked in concert with her mana pool and the entirety of the runic markings.
Rainer got up and covered the Fae with a blanket, deciding he’d have to interrogate them to understand how these Runes worked. He believed it crucial to advancing his [Arcane Awakening] skill beyond level 1. He, of course, expected some assistance from his [Archon] class in that endeavor. He, however, needed to at least understand what he was trying to achieve.
Luna was little help in the matter beyond a quick explanation on the difference between a [Fae Enchanter] and a normal one. The difference simply being one involved nonliving, enchanted items, and the Fae counterpoint involved the living. Luna’s personal abilities extended only to a small amount of spirit magic and the 4 gifts she could perform. And her Faerie Flame, unrelated to her class.
“Luna, can you come here for a second?” He called out with his palm stretched out.
Getting valid information could be the difference between life and death. And as of now, he had no way of determining the truth of anything these two Fae would tell him. He knew the [Rune Knight] seemed to care for the [Fae Enchanter], and hopefully in reverse, but it isn’t as if he could immediately test all the information gained.
Luna fluttered over and landed on his palm. As he stared at her intently, she merely tilted her head.
Whenever Rainer had surpassed 100 in Affinity and Intelligence, he always felt exhilarated. As if he could see and feel more when it came to magic. As if crossing some sort of boundary. Now, he was always past that boundary. And after inspecting his mana pool, in a way he never could before, he thought perhaps he could use such an inspection for a different purpose.
“Luna, just answer my questions yes or no, it's important.”
“Is Luna your name?”
“Of course, Luna is Luna’s name. How could Rainer forget!”
“Luna...yes or no.”
“Yes.” She grumbled out not understanding anything. Rainer carefully inspected her Mana pool with [Mana Detection] while receiving aid from [Fae Anatomy].
[Mana Detection has reached level 2]
The lack of experience distracted him for a moment, but he pressed on.
“When we first met in the mine, did you fall asleep while on guard?”
“Luna did no such thing!”
[Skill Gained: Mana Reading lvl 1/10]
[Mana Reading: The ability to observe the changes in another’s mana pool and discern their meanings.]
Whether it was emotions or otherwise, one’s Mana Pool was not a stable existence. This was true for Rainer as well who had learned [Arcane Sound Infusion] due to a minor leak of Mana laced with Arcane Power. He also had activated [Arcane Rage] without meaning to. And now, gaining the skill, he could clearly tell Luna was untruthful.
“Luna...you fell asleep on guard in such a dangerous place!” Kara asked rushing over.
“Luna said she didn’t…” She responded while playing with her fingers. Kara continued to stare at her prompting another response, “Okay, Luna fell asleep a little. Luna was very tired, and Rainer was so comfortable.”
Rainer just gave a slight laugh while rubbing her head with his finger. Luna instantly cheered up.
“I’m guessing you achieved the skill you were searching for?” Kara asked Rainer seeing he didn’t continue his questioning.
“Quite easily. Unless [Mana Reading] is a common thing, I can’t imagine these Fae will be capable of lying to me.”
“I’ve never heard of such an ability.” Gunthar off to the side responded, now out of his stupor. He, however, mentioned nothing about the stunned state he was in nor did he mention Rainer’s class again. Kara too nodded at what Gunthar had said.
“Then we’ll see just what these Fae can tell us,” Rainer spoke while narrowing his eyes toward the [Rune Knight].
If these two cared for each other, by far the easiest method to interrogate was to torture the other in front of their loved one. He steeled himself, knowing that any lack of information could mean his death. He had already killed to keep himself safe, and he would once more try and do whatever it took.
A splash of water and a gasp of breath resounded as Luna cast a ball of water over the [Fae Enchanter]. He instantly shot up and gripped against his rope. Before he could even cast a spell, he realized his Mana Pool lacked anything.
He looked out in front of him and saw Liliana tied in a chair, sitting across from him. She too lacked any Mana as Rainer just finished draining her. Rainer’s draining abilities had quite a bit of waste involved, making it quite easy just to let the drained resources dissipate, given his were quite full. His [Mana Drain] and [Stamina Drain] had just reached level 2, but he noted they gave no experience.
“What do…” But Janya was interrupted by a loud scream coming from Liliana.
Rainer’s hand gripped the [Rune Knight]'s head.
Feeding Luna mana and healing her was a deliberate action that required him to level up [Fae Anatomy]. To do the reverse? A far simpler task. And with Rainer’s new attributes and manipulation abilities he could do so while doing as little damage as possible.
Hearing her scream, Rainer grimaced. They were the servants of his enemy, but it didn’t make it any easier. But he focused at the distressed Janya, who had been unable to hide his feelings.
“Don’t speak without my permission,” Rainer took a quick glance at the [Rune Knight] under his hand before staring back at the [Fae Enchanter],” Let’s start simple, your first name, and then her.”
“Janya. And she is Liliana,” Janya responded after calming himself down.
“Good. Well, then Janya this’ll be very simple. I have a few questions to ask you. You answer them. Failure to respond...well you’ve seen what I’ll do. And I can assure you, I’ll do far worse if needed.”
Janya nodded his head, though gave no indication how well, or poorly, Rainer's threat had worked.
“Let’s see. The Fae Queen’s full name, class, and the general structure of your government would be a good start.” Rainer tapped his fingers on Liliana’s head as he spoke. He infused his voice with Arcane causing Janya’s thoughts to stutter before he could finally talk a few seconds later.
“Her Highness, Yulia Emralira-Igna, the current Fae Queen and True Chosen of the World Tree,” Janya paused for a moment. The man in front of him seemed too laid back for an interrogation. The [Archon] wasn’t paying careful attention nor trying to read anything about him. Janya discerned he must have a way to verify the truth or perhaps already knew the answers to his question. So instead of trying to lie Janya merely organized his thoughts into what truths would be least harmless to tell.
What he viewed as disinterest was actually Rainer sensing Janya's mana pool.
“And who serves under her? Other Lords and Ladies? A Council?”
“Before my Queen’s ascension, there were only 4 Fae Courts. We decide our Queen based on a trial given to us by the World Tree on who will receive its Fruit for the next 50 years. A Queen may rule for only 200 years. My Queen became the first Fae outside of a court to rise to the throne 41 years ago. So long as she holds the supply of the Fruit, all other courts listen to her will.”
Rainer frowned at the last sentence. From [Mana Reading] he could tell it wasn’t an outright lie, but it also wasn’t the truth. He internally grinned with understanding. The Fae Queen did not have the complete support of the courts.
Janya thought to himself about his own Queen’s troubles and why the Experiment was so important. Yulia had taken the courts by surprise, with her powerful Mana, but during the next trial, they’d prepare against a mage capable of exclusively using Wind Magic. The Trial allowed for the candidate and 2 helpers to join them. Compared to the ancient Fae Courts, Yulia was lacking. And now, with her weakness apparent, not only would the throne be taken back, she’d likely perish without the World Tree’s protection. Even now she can’t leave her palace.
Which was precisely why they had expended so much dust and fruit in creating the Experiment and reviving the true ancient Faerie Fire so that Yulia could take it for herself.
Yet...this Archon thinks he can steal from us! He’s only level 4, even without my warning the reinforcements should be enough! The formation should be powerful enough…
Janya thought with anger to himself. But the moment he saw the Experiment across the room, flying around the Wolfkin, in her full 10-inch size, he changed thoughts.
The Queen’s mana imprint...and her size. How has she grown so much?! It was rumored that perhaps the Archon was a dragon taken human form...Why! How! How did the experiment escape to such a being!
“Now. Who exactly is going to be bringing the Fruit? And how exactly does the Fruit work?”
Janya was still lost in thought as he heard Liliana’s scream once more.
“I’ll….tear out…your throat…” Liliana said under her breath garnering another dose of Mana.
“Wait. 1 2nd Class Fae will be bringing the Fruit.”
Seeing the obvious lie Rainer continued forcing mana into Liliana causing her screams to ring out through the mansion.
“It's 3, I lied I’m sorry it's 3.”
But Rainer continued.
Janya grew panicked. Understanding that either this Archon knew who was coming or he could truly discern his lies. He looked at the resolute expression on Liliana’s face who now gritted her teeth shoving down her screams, but, in the end, he chose her over his Queen. He was different from Liliana who had been saved as a loose Fairy. He was little more than an opportunistic man who picked a side.
“It's 4. 4 2nd class Fae will arrive,” He paused as he checked the system’s clock, ”in 10 hours. I don’t know who exactly is coming. Most likely Grand Rune Knights.”
[Mana Reading has reached level 2]
Rainer frowned slightly. Either [Mana Reading] wasn’t close enough to his class to grant him experience, or the Archon’s bonus prevented experience gain from the second level of a skill.
“The exact time.”
“I don’t know exactly! Seven and a half in the morning is as close as I can guess.”
Rainer immediately stopped and Liliana, lacking the breath to speak, sent a glare toward Janya that told him all he needed to know about her feelings on the matter.
“Now the Fruit. How’s it work?”
“It’s simple. It automatically advances you to the 2nd Tier Class, given you are already level 25.“
Hearing talk about the 2nd Tier Class Rainer gained a strange itching feeling. One that had earlier, when Gunthar asked him whether he was truly an Archon, nagged at the back of his mind. As if he absolutely had to enter his Aware [Sleep Learning] state.
“Though the whole Fruit must be eaten.”
Seeing no disagreement, Janya saw no reason to mention how it automatically chose the default, and often weakest of one’s 2nd Class choices.
Rainer, however, felt this was too good to be true.
“What are the disadvantages of the Fruit?”
“You automatically get chosen the default class,” Janya answered reluctantly. He didn't wish to see Liliana harmed again.
Rainer grew stunned. [Grand Arcanist] compared to [Archon] was a difference of night and day. Had he received the Fruit before his advancement and didn’t have the chance to properly verify it, his future could have taken a far different turn.
Janya felt a transfer of mana occurring between the Archon and Liliana, but only saw what it was that kept them out of mana.
Rainer walked over to Janya and drained his mana as well. Liliana was too weak to resist, and Janya intentionally didn’t try.
“Can this be tracked within a spatial ring?” Rainer said holding up the ring he had taken off Janya’s formerly removed hand.
[Faerie Ring of Communication: Uses the Faerie Rings as relays to send messages between linked rings.]
Janya grew stunned for a moment at the mention of a spatial ring, but responded, “No.”
“And did you get a message out before I stopped you?”
“No,” He answered a bit sadly.
“Where were the Fae, delivering the Fruit, to meet you?”
“Just outside of town, about a mile to the south at a tree marked with an enchantment.”
“A living enchantment?”
“That is...correct.” Janya jumped up in his restraints as he saw Rainer tear open Liliana’s shirt though his next words calmed him.
“Explain to me, how this Rune works.”
Janya and Rainer spoke for nearly an hour; Janya was forthcoming as he believed even with this knowledge no one other than the Fae could use such information, Archon or not. And the Experiment would certainly require a proper teacher.
He, of course, understood little on the true nature of the Archon class. Janya too began noticing the hesitation when the Archon inflicted pain on Liliana. He knew such kindness could be used, and that the longer he was kept alive, the more chance he had at escaping. And so, he made himself useful. He recalled too that his hand had been cut off and yet clearly it still existed.
“What do we do with them?” Rainer asked. Both Janya and Liliana were unconscious after he had drained their stamina and Luna cast a sleeping spell. He understood enough from Janya that he himself would be incapable of such enchantments and that teaching Luna wasn’t possible in any short period. But, modifying his own [Arcane Awakening] may very well be possible.
Luna yawning on Rainer’s head replied,” Luna doesn’t care,” She was more interested in sleeping than anything else.
Rainer still felt slightly ill at having to torture the Fae. His talk with Janya had made him realize that the Queen, was less of a Queen than he initially thought. That the Fae themselves, may not actually be his enemy. And if these two did not have anything to do with Luna, there was little animosity in him. He, of course, had no intention of leaving an enemy at his back.
“I didn’t ask this before. But if we killed them right now, how’s the experience?”
“Little. It has been too long since their capture. Killing them now cannot even compare to in a combat situation or shortly after restraining them. Experience is a combination of how it was gained and what you are gaining it from.”
“Then I’ll take care of it,” Rainer spoke, though just before he left Kara stopped him.
“Rainer, it’s alright I’ll take care of it.” Kara saw how he struggled with his earlier choices.
Rainer paused. When he had killed the Winter’s Guardians, it had been a decision he believed at the moment was necessary for his and Luna’s safety, and Kara’s as well.
When he had killed Fira, the terror on Luna’s face had ignited a wave of anger within him.
Yet now, he saw these two Fae as nothing more than two soldiers. But, he couldn’t just let them live and give away information about them, especially given that they may have seen Kara’s Demonic Aura come out when she killed the other [Rune Knight].
Rainer shook his head at Kara’s offer. He didn’t wish to rely on her for such a thing, even if it wasn’t a problem for her. In that, he wasn’t even sure. He knew Kara had little issue with killing in battle, but beyond that, he only knew what she had been forced to do as a little girl.
In the first place, unless he periodically drained them, they were dangerous as captives.
He would do what it took to survive. No, for him it was about more than survival. He desired to thrive, to pursue magic freely, to live openly with those close to him.
He would act as needed.
He walked off, the quiet thrum of Arcane extended from his Hilt. And with such, two lives ended.
Rainer stared down at his hilt as he returned to the rest. Whatever this gnawing represented he needed to see just why he felt the need to use [Sleep Learning] so urgently.
“Luna. I need you to use a sleeping spell on me.”
In truth, Rainer was quite exhausted. While only a few minutes had passed for Kara and Gunthar, he had many hours pass for him. He had been nearly killed twice.
He headed upstairs, and much to Kara's disappointment, sought to sleep immediately.
Rainer opened his eyes to the white void of [Sleep Learning]...at least what should've been a white void. Burnt into the ground was a lengthy message, in English.
Confused, though understanding he likely left this for himself, he carefully read over its contents.
Whether it was the titles granting points or the prerequisites needed for certain 2nd Classes Rainer grew ever more surprised at the information written by himself. Rather, that who or whatever stole from him in the first place angered him, but he let that go for now. Finished reading, Rainer refreshed the void itself to its original state.
He also now understood the purpose of the 2nd Enchanted item he had created. Were it not for this message he might have viewed it as a flight of paranoia, and to anyone, but an [Arcanist] or [Archon] it was likely a useless item.
He hadn’t ever thought to see if the [Sleep Learning] space would maintain its previous state. Any issues he’d always constantly refresh leaving little room for such testing. He was glad the message got across.
Rainer moved his thoughts to the fight he would soon face. He would first, avoid leveling any of his magic skills to level 2 in here. That he could in any case. [Mana Reading] hadn’t given any experience when it's leveling was assisted by the [Archon] class, but he wasn’t sure about the rest of his magic skills.
[Arcane Awakening] rose to 100%.
A [Spatial Domain] extended around him. The clarity astounding. Whether it was his [Mana Manipulation] or new bonuses, the size he could extend it to, increased dramatically.
Taking from his memory, Rainer formed a mere wooden box in front of him. He stared at it intently and focused all his will on sensing this box. Every inch, every grain in the wood, became visible to him. And then he grasped it and pushed.
He wielded the sensing function of [Spatial Domain] and together with his [Spatial Manipulation] pushed.
And yet there was no movement no matter how much he tried.
Disappointment did not fill Rainer. On the contrary, his excitement grew to a new height. He felt it. Resistance. The box had resisted his actions. He had in fact acted upon it, and it resisted his attempt at pushing. Moved or unmoved he confirmed that he had, in fact, pushed it. He had tried to move space itself.
He confirmed too, however, that he was nowhere near pushing this box, or anything for that matter.
He formed a copy of Yalin’s journal in front of him and read through. Rainer could now understand this spell too utilized the concept of Mana packets, though only one, an incredibly small yet dense one. The spell, while not as severely as before, still caused Rainer a decent amount of pain. He, however, given the nature of how he was to face these incoming Fae, had a new spell idea.
Out of all spells he knew of, [Deliverance] seemed to have the farthest range.
The spell, in theory, was simple in idea. He’d launch a Mana packet as far as he could straight into the sky. Once there a gravity locus would gather the air around it, as well as the Arcane-Fireball that formed from the Mana packet. And then use the remainder of the mana to multiply the gravity on itself and fall toward a single point.
At 3-4 times of the terminal velocity, the Fae would find it far more than just difficult to dodge. At the very least a sacrifice in resources, or of self, would be required.
There were two issues to the spell. First, the time it would take to prepare, and the small amount of time it could stay at the ready. Meaning, Rainer would need to know both his target and the timing needed. Added to that, was that he couldn’t be too far from the target, lest his aim be off, nor could the target see him cast it lest they simply move a distance away.
A spell made for an ambush.
A spell that had Rainer immediately slapping himself in the face.
“Fuck. Then what about the Fruit?” He called out, of course, to no one.
Given that it would likely take the rest of the time before the meeting occurred to make this spell, Rainer put away the thought for now. His largest concern was Luna's or Kara’s advancement. Though now, after seeing the information about Class prerequisites, the disadvantage of being forced the default 2nd Tier class was a major one.
He could not force either to make such a sacrifice, though he isn't sure if Luna would mind.
In any case I can also use it to advance my 2nd primary class. Entering a 2nd Class Advancement again, with the difficulty of Archon added on, is asking for death. With or without the help of my still hiding friend.
He thought as he gripped his right shoulder. There was no Rune, and nothing, but the uninformative entry in his familiar list, telling him the Magic Beast existed. In relation to that, Rainer looked at the Runic Language he gained, though gained, was about as loose as a term as possible.
It was as if he knew some grammar rules. About a language of which he not only didn’t know any vocabulary of, he didn’t even know a single letter. Until he came across it, the language was, but a nice addition to his skill list.
[Draconic Runic Language lvl 1/10: A Magical Runic language, Draconic in nature.]
And the 1,000 points required to level it to level 2 essentially told anyone other than Rainer to give up.
Rainer himself didn’t understand why such a language appeared in his advancement. Were Dragons operators of the Trial? Were Dragons akin to gods? Was it just a random choice? Was it chosen on the premise no one would be able to learn it during the trial? Dozens of questions floated through Rainer’s mind. The Rune he learned it from too, didn’t seem to have any meaning.
Realizing he was getting off course, he spent his remaining 6 hours of [Sleep Learning] trying to improve [Arcane Awakening] before Kara awoke him. He had plenty to do awake. Plenty, he did not in the slightest, look forward to.
His attempts with [Arcane Awakening] did produce success. He did wish to try and gain experience from it, but he viewed the skill as far too important to be a test case.
[Arcane Awakening has reached level 2]
[Skill Gained: Arcane Awakening: Shield Mode lvl 1/10]
[Arcane Awakening: Shield Mode lvl 1/10: Forms a protective casing of Arcane around its caster. Renders its caster nearly immobile and unable to use Magic.]
The only issue was that rather than just a protective skill, it was more akin to a turtle retreating into his shell. Not only did the skill cost more Arcane Power than he could convert fast enough, but he was also immobile during it. And not just immobile, but useless in any other way. He had hope that some issues could be resolved in testing and leveling.
In the end, he was using pure Arcane Power and not Mana, in the operation of this Rune. Added on were the differences in Runic lines, between himself and the Fae.
How strong its defenses were? He, unfortunately, needed to test that outside of [Sleep Learning]
So it's time to raise resistances…
Rainer grunted in pain as he collapsed. Kara rushed over to his side, but he waved her off.
He could only smile lightly as he struggled to get back up. It was his idea to learn new skills for hand to hand combat while trying to level up [Physical Resistance] and [Pain Resistance]. An idea that would be otherwise seen as lunacy had they not viewed the full description for the [Archon] class. Something Gunthar had yet even to acknowledge fully.
“Rainer, perhaps multitasking is not the best method for such a thing.”
“So you’d rather just beat me up as I stand still?”
“You...bring up an excellent point,” Kara said while sighing and getting back into sparring position.
[Bare-Fist Fighting] had reached level 2 quickly enough. Gunthar instructed Rainer as Kara fought as his opponent. Luna held responsibility for healing the damage that most certainly occurred.
Now, Rainer was trying to learn a more specific skill. Compared to Humans, females of Kara’s demonic tribe surpassed them in strength as, but children, yet between men and women in her tribe, there was a huge gap.
A gap that was eventually circumvented by her grandmother through her various techniques emphasizing speed and offense. A gap crossed by numerous skills in its pursuit.
“Wait, before we continue, let me test something out,” Rainer said, figuring he could use a small break to test out his new shielding ability, ”Hit me as hard as you can in the stomach,” Though he quickly added an amendment, “without Aura.”
Rainer took a strong stance and brought [Arcane Awakening] to 100%. He still had 3 hours before the Fae would arrive, more than enough time to recover fully.
His runic lines shown through his tunic and at his chest a Rune took form. Across his body, a plating of violet arcane energy appeared. Rainer was as if a statue, frozen by this energy.
Hesitantly Kara took a step forward and swung. And yet she felt as if she had punched a steel wall. She shook her hand and gave an annoyed glare to the grinning Rainer. This time, with no hesitation she swung with her full power. Yet without her use of Aura, her fist was once more rebuked.
Rainer canceled the skill, those three seconds of [Arcane Awakening: Shield Mode] had cost him more than half of his current Arcane Power. Added on to the base skill itself, and it was an expensive skill. He decided to fully test its capabilities, lest he wasted Arcane Power in combat.
Taking a few dozen seconds to refill his Arcane Power fully, Rainer spoke again, “This time use Aura, but start light and get progressively stronger.”
As if a hammer banging on metal Kara’s fist rang out.
[Arcane Awakening: Shield Mode has Reached level 2]
[Experience Gained: 11%]
In his joy at leveling the skill and seeing the experience, Rainer had lost focus and did not notice his Arcane Power dwindle and her last fist hit him completely unshielded. He flew back across the courtyard, his only defense being his resistances and the increased attributes of [Arcane Awakening].
Rainer coughed hoarsely as Kara ran in a panic over to him. The smile on his face confused her.
“Looks like that did it,” He said while Luna healed him.
[Physical Resistance has reached level 2]
Rainer took a less physical approach afterwards to learning Kara’s skill, but, in the end, he was unable.
Gunthar and Kara walked in the back as Rainer headed with Luna to the location. They would be responsible for either providing reinforcements at the start of battle or buying time versus melee combatants.
While lacking their second class in comparison, Kara was a powerful Demon with a total level of 27 and Gunthar had a genuinely high talent for Aura and hundreds of years as an undead.
While he needed to play the part of a mindless undead, and truly was one at times, he did not let all the time go to waste. At the very least, they both would be able to handle a fleeing and possibly injured second class Fae.
And if they fled by the sky? They’d only be making themselves a target for Rainer.
Rainer used [Magic Detection] to find the enchanted tree. And almost perfectly on time, 4 confused Fae arrived, keeping quite a distance from Rainer. Luna [Appraised] for Rainer as he lacked the ability to see through their defenses. She whispered to him the basic information.
“Three Grand Runic Knights level 1,1, and 3. One Fae Grand Enchantress level 3”
Rainer couldn’t help, but be confident after learning of their levels and classes.
They seemed to have all advanced by way of Fruit, or lacked the skills and titles for any greater class beyond the default.
All three of the [Grand Runic Knight]s wore the same small mithril armor, covering only vital parts. He had learned, quite embarrassingly during his request to get some armor made for him that most metals weakened Magic use. Even mithril and the blessed enchanted steel Gunthar had worn didn’t get rid of this weakness completely.
The Enchantress wore a blue dress, with the rest of her body covered in leather traveling clothes. She too, had a small mithril plate over her chest, though she lacked the shoulder and other parts of it. She had blue hair and blue eyes like Liliana and the other [Rune Knight], as Rainer only knew him.
Seeing that the individual who was likely their target had come to meet them, they assumed their agents had been captured, or otherwise. They all tensed as they instinctively [Appraised] in return.
“Did you bring it,” Rainer asked while holding up an Arcane Weaved cage with Luna inside.
The Enchantress swallowed nervously before speaking up. She had assumed the trade was off given the lack of her brother and sister at the meeting location, but perhaps they had been mistaken. In no way, did they wish to engage with the possibly legendary existence in front of them.
“We did,” Her voice while slightly jittery still had a smooth and ethereal intonation of a beautiful Fae, ”Where are our fellow Fae?”
“An insurance measure. They are all safe; I’ll give you their location when we’re done,” Rainer said as his party moved forward.
“Stop. Only you, your guards stay behind,” She said with as much confidence as she could muster. She handed the Fruit to one of her [Grand Runic Knight]s.
As Rainer walked forward, he had no intentions of handing Luna over. He had the summon ability, but he had no idea how easy or difficult blocking such a transfer was. Kara and Gunthar gripped their weapons as Rainer made his way toward the Fae.
Rainer held out the cage toward the Fae as he, in turn, held out the Fruit. Just as the Fae was about to grab the cage Rainer dissipated it, and in return, a hilt appeared. An [Arcane Blade] flashed as Rainer took the Fruit and stored it in his ring.
The Fae was not in his 2nd class without reason. The rune on his back flared, and he jumped away. The end of the blade caught him as Rainer stabbed forward. He screamed out, as he ran, his left shoulder, now useless.
Rainer brought [Arcane Awakening] to 100%, as the battle commenced. All four of the Fae disappeared in a Glamour. Rainer spread out his [Spatial Domain].
Kara brought out her demonic nature as she searched for the hidden Fae and an ethereal Werewolf began forming at her side.
Contrary to all expectations it was the [Archon] who rushed forward into battle.
[Arcane Sight] covered his eyes. The gravity lessened, and he leaped forward, outpacing the [Fae Grand Enchantress] several fold.
She desperately tried to take flight as he appeared right in front of her, but she was slammed into the ground. In her panic, she noticed not the [Gravity Domain] cast upon her. And in this failure, an [Arcane Blade] removed her head as she helplessly lay pinned to the ground. Her barrier flashed for, but a moment in defense.
The remaining three Fae formed a triangular pattern around Rainer in a frenzy. They had spread out to form a technique with all four of them, yet the [Archon]'s ability to see through their Glamour had left them incapable and reduced its power.
Magic surged around Rainer as their enchanted blades lifted straight toward the sky. They became wrapped in a fury of blue magical energies. Runic lines of magic connected all three and Rainer found himself unable to move. Kara and Gunthar rushed forward, yet were not in time as the blades fell and magical energy slammed into Rainer.
The snow rose in a spinning flurry and then melted instantly. The trees around them fell and broke from the energies. Kara had abandoned her phantom self and instead burned Aura to immediately shift into her Werewolf form. Her massive strength and speed slammed into one of the Fae as she consumed nearly all her Aura to empower her speed. He believed he had more than enough time to defend himself before the [Archon]’s guards arrived.
He was wrong.
His bones shattered and his body bent in directions that most assuredly determined his death. The two other Fae seeing this demon swat their comrade as if he were, but a fly instantly took to the air to flee.
An explosion of Arcane-Fire sent one of the Fae tumbling to the ground. Gunthar ran over and stabbed his Aura Blade past the staggered Fae’s Runic defenses.
Rainer unleashed all eight of his armed bolts at the fleeing Fae, but with a glowing of his Runes, he dodged them, moving just slightly in various directions. Lacking the Arcane Power to increase the strength of the bolts, Rainer expected such a result.
The dust cleared and both Gunthar and Kara looked toward Rainer and found him untouched.
He had already left his shielded mode and formed a [Spear of Arcane-Fire] in his hand intent on killing the last fleeing Fae. The strongest of the [Grand Runic Knights]. Rainer knew enough about his shielded mode after the testing and his reaching of level 2, that their attack would fail.
[Magic Detection has reached level 2]
Aided in such a decision.
He had other means of stopping it, but he chose the one guaranteed to succeed.
Rainer’s [Arcane Awakening] nearly faded as he recharged his Arcane Power. The spear launched from his hand and soared toward the fleeing Fae.
Runes and Runic lines flared across the fleeing Fae’s body as he seemed to shimmer out of reality. The spear shot straight through him, leaving him untouched and exploding in the distance. He rushed farther away. He lacked even the mana to operate a Glamour, something quite inexpensive for most Fae.
Yet a surge of Magic and a roaring of thunder changed his fate, as a bolt of lightning struck down upon him.
Lacking even the slightest defense he fell. If he was not dead already, the thud when he landed, had assured it.
Rainer looked confused. He could detect the Magic had not been aimed at him, yet he knew not who aided him.
Kara, exhausted, shifted back her to Wolfkin form and hid her Demonic Aura. Her crimson eye returned golden. She breathed a sigh of relief at seeing Rainer unharmed and sat down onto the snow. Gunthar assisted Rainer in collecting the spoils of war; that would be left to sift through for later.
Far away, on top of the walls of Grimlar’s pass, stood a man wearing a similar gray robe to Martin. He too had long black hair and downward crooked nose, though he appeared close to thirty years of age. He did not know what went on in the forest. Only that the [Archon] fought with some foe. The surging of magic prevented his detection skills from seeing the truth at such a distance.
And so he aided in this endeavor.
He wiped the sweat from his brow. Casting magic at such a distance had taken a lot out of him. Even more so hiding the presence of his magic till the last minute had not been easy. He had nearly failed in doing such after being surprised by the strange and powerful spear that had been fired, likely by the [Archon].
“Father. Do you think perhaps Northerners never coming down has to do with the Fae?”
“I have no idea. But hopefully, my assistance was welcomed. I cannot wait to meet this man.”
George thought to himself as he stared at the orb in his hand. It was the Skyborne Mage Guild’s attempt at replicating [Appraisal]. It showed only one’s class and one's level, and nothing else. But, as far as he knew, it was difficult to detect. It was one of four owned by the guild.
He became giddy with excitement. From the north or otherwise, George couldn’t care less. He had risked the odds and his life to advance to the 2nd Class precisely to follow his passions.
So long as he answered any battle cries the Guild would support him in increasing his Lifespan and abilities with little effort from him.
Meaning, he had free time to pursue his fancies about the North. He had even begun planning a trip to the true north; none returned from....In secret, of course.
But now, he desired sincerely to meet this Archon. He only hoped his help was not unwelcomed.
Rainer walked toward town with Kara on his back. Her long black hair flowed onto his shoulders, and he could feel her light breath on his neck.
She had expended nearly all her Aura to instantly shift and then powerfully strike that Fae. Even with her increased Aura pool shifting instantly still cost a large portion of it.
She had, however, been rewarded.
[Wolfkin, Female, Blade Dancer lvl 16]
Rainer too gained in strength.
[Total Shared Experience Gained: 6%, 1920%]
[Calculating Excess Experience]
[Chronomancer has leveled up to lvl 2/25. Standard Attributes have been distributed.]
[Chronomancer has leveled up to lvl 3/25. Standard Attributes have been distributed.]
[Chronomancer has leveled up to lvl 4/25. Standard Attributes have been distributed. 1 Attribute and skill point have been rewarded]
It also told him, once more, how unique the [Arcanist] class was.
“We’ll take a few days, and then head to Nalmar. They won’t just let go so many of their own going missing.”
“I agree, Sorcerer.”
[Undead, Male, Death Knight lvl 19]
Different from Kara, Gunthar had only killed a 2nd class Fae with Rainer’s aid.
[Fairy, Female, Fae Enchantress lvl 22]
Rainer stared at the little Fae poking her head out of his coat. Had he not taken the risk on his 2nd Class Advancement, he could very well have lost Luna at this moment.
As the party made it back to the mansion, they found Martin and someone who looked little different than an older version of him by his side. He had the same green eyes and black hair though his class, was far different.
[Human, Male, Stormcaller(2nd) lvl 9, Wind Mage, lvl 19]
Rainer tensed his body. His mana through the use of spatial magic and refilling his Arcane Power was a little over half. He prepared at a moment's notice to activate [Arcane Awakening].
“Lord Magus, might I present to you my father.”
To Rainer’s surprise, his father showed absolute deference to him. A deference not fitting his power.
“Lord Magus, it is an honor to make your acquaintance. You may call this humble Stormcaller of the 2nd Tier, George La Tal.”
Rainer recalled that the Skyborne Mage Guild had been responsible for the Hunter’s Guild plates. He instantly assumed this man somehow knew of Rainer’s current class through whatever methods the guild had.
“Let’s speak alone,” Rainer said while narrowing his eyes. He was more than thankful for the help, but depending on what secrets this man saw, it was hardly a welcome help.
The tone of Rainer’s voice was not lost on George, yet the prospect of speaking with an existence that may be straight out of a Legend prompted him forward. Even this [Archon]’s low amount of mana for his class didn’t deter his excitement.
“Wait back at our place of stay,” George said toward his son as he followed Rainer inside.
“First, let me thank you for your help. But, I need to know how you know what I am,” Rainer spoke bluntly. In such close range, even if the Mage in front of him was far stronger, Rainer didn’t believe he couldn’t win.
George, unoffended, took out a small black orb and handed it to Rainer. He [Appraised] it before deciding to be safe and not take it from his hand.
[Orb of Class Appraisal: Reveals the first primary class of the intended target.]
“I deeply apologize for the intrusion. I used it on you just as you were leaving town, I could not contain my curiosity. I dared not carelessly follow, but when I felt the pulsing of magic, I thought to assist you in battle. Yet it was over before I knew it and I saw your foes take to the sky. I rendered aid. I hope it was not unwelcome.”
“It was quite welcome,” Rainer paused for a moment before extending his hand and giving an introduction, “Rainer Nvos, Archon of the 2nd Tier. From my land, we grip each other’s hand as a greeting.”
George returned the gesture with a radiant smile on his face. He could not last remember when he had been so happy.
“I’m a bit tired after the fight, how about in a few hours I treat you to dinner?” He said as he recalled Kara resting on his back.
“Excellent!” After accidently yelling out loud Geroge lightly coughed, “I am staying at a room in the Baron’s mansion, please come seek me when needed. And have no fear, I have no intention of revealing information about yourself, Lord Magus.”
“Rainer, in private, will do.”
“Good, Good. Then I shall see you, Rainer, in a few hours,” George replied while reluctantly leaving with a spring in his step. All his questions and thoughts had been temporarily forgotten in his excitement.
An eccentric...is that not the type of Mage I was searching for?
Rainer thought. He hadn’t expected to come across one before the Dragon Isles, but he needed the support of other mages in his goal. Rather, a group of mages progressing magic freely forward, without the constraints of exclusivism, was exactly what he desired.
Rainer took Kara upstairs to rest as he pondered over what he’d speak of during their meeting. He knew he was taking a large leap of faith in trusting this man to keep him being an [Archon] a secret and the fact that he apparently hadn’t seen Kara transform. Yet he couldn’t help, but like the man, and George’s assistance had robbed the Fae of vital information.