Rainer did his best to ignore the scene in front of him. A hairy lion man whose torso he unfortunately needed to stare at with careful attention. He found studying a nude Fae less distracting. A bowl of Rainer’s blood was to the right of the unconscious demon.
Over the course of the night, he had managed to raise [Internal Runic Mana Formation] to level 4. As of now, he could hold a runic symbol within his finger with no danger. A constant flow of Mana prevented any build up and subsequent explosion.
Elru stood off to the side, her Mana Output Rune shining brightly for Rainer to see even through her clothes.
The final goal was to create a Body Enchantment for Kara that could be fueled by her Aura. Rainer ventured this could even help his idea in creating a book to learn [Faraan Runic Language] from. A mixed writing of inscription and enchantment onto a page.
“Elru, can you try drawing a Mana Output Rune on him first?” Even focusing on what he wanted to draw, Rainer couldn’t get the formula to form. As of now he only copied the means, but the technique itself, which involved a whole formula to draw a single Body Enchantment Rune, wasn’t completely clear.
“I do not have an idea how it would work on him. Even if as you say Demon’s share enough magical physiology for it to be possible…”
“Then what about the bark you use for practice?”
“I’d need to go back home to retrieve some. If I hurry and activate flight enchantments, it would take 2 days at least to get to the fairy ring and return.”
“Might as well give this to your sister on the way back,” Rainer said, taking out the golden Fruit of the World Tree and throwing it to Elru. He wasn’t so magnanimous to believe she would, without a doubt, return. He had gotten most of what he wanted from her, and was tired of being on edge.
And he could use the time away from her to use the Mana-well. Rainer even wished he could take away the memories of people he fully trusts when it came to the Mana-well, let alone anyone else. Why a quest had been formed was an important question to him.
It made him think that going beyond just using the Mana-well for enchantments was opening a Pandora’s box.
If she returned, he would trust her more. If she didn’t, that was fine as well. Such were his thoughts. The Fruit too, with Luna’s long lifespan and Kara’s insistence to complete the Trial on her own, held less value for him.
Elru stood there stunned. The object she so desperately desired casually thrown to her as it was truly just an ordinary fruit. Did he trust her completely, or did he simply care so little for such a treasured thing?
“Thank you, Rainer. I shall return as quickly as I can. Little Fairy, make sure you practice properly,” Elru placed a hand over her heart and bowed deeply before leaving the room. A small voice leaked out of Rainer’s jacket in agreement with Elru’s statement.
“What about the Demon?” Theodore, who watched alongside, asked. Kara, Gunthar were out in the hallway.
“It should be fine with just draining stamina, just wake me up if you can’t handle him. Well, I needed a Demon to experiment on, but I never expected it would be so soon. I might as well give it a whirl, stand by in case you need to knock him out.”
Rainer stood kneeled over the Demon and dipped his finger in blood. Mana flowed, and he recalled clearly the Mana Output Rune he saw on Elru.
A sizzling of skin could be heard as he began drawing. He knew he failed the moment he heard this sound, all too familiar with the failures on his own body in [Sleep Learning]. But he continued. He trusted in his class.
But he quickly came across an issue, even drawing the least complicated Mana Output he could think of drained 60 Mana. Which with Gunthar as his undead, meant half his total.
“Has Elru left?” Rainer asked Theodore.
“She is in the hall, perhaps saying a temporary goodbye,” Theodore said.
Theodore’s [Soul Detection] surpassed Rainer’s.
Rainer went over his thoughts before a nod from Theodore confirmed Elru had, at the very least, left the range of his [Soul detection].
Retrieving the Mana-Well from his spatial ring, Rainer as well took out the book related to drawing Mana from it. It had been in the [Arch-Lich]’s spatial ring. There was not, however, anything related to what the [Arch-Lich] was attempting in his further research on the Well.
Rainer skimmed through it briefly. The skill the [Archon] developed and later taught to Nalmar’s enchanters was similar to the [Mana Object Transfer] skill Rainer already had. The book was designed to assist others. He, however, only needed the basics.
The black cube pulsing with blue runic lines sat in his right hand. With his left, he picked a random floorboard to enchant. The Mana required a target. Carefully, he enchanted the most basic of strengthening Runes. Anything more and the floorboard would likely explode from his lack of experience.
A part of him focused on the Mana-well, trying to guide the Mana through his body and into the enchantment. The Mana was foreign, and its consistency strange, making it unusable for anything else. In this aspect, it was no different than a Mana Crystal, except in its limitlessness.
Rainer nearly expended his Mana pool trying to draw the Mana from the well. Each attempt only caused the Mana to dissipate and leave his body. But the [Archon] class and the previous knowledge by another [Archon] gave Rainer quick success.
[Skill Gained: Mana ???? Transfer lvl 1/10]
The skill description was blank.
The transfer became smooth. And while it didn’t completely remove the Mana cost of enchantment, it lowered it significantly. Rainer got a window into how Nalmar enchanted.
First, the Mana-well locked underground was connected to other Mana storage objects. Ordinary enchanters would then draw from it. Unknowingly, they took Mana, not from crystals but a strange and limitless source.
Rainer used the remainder of his Mana to guide the Mana-well’s power and enchant several more floorboards. A grin visible on his face as he imagined the possibilities. An impenetrable fortress, a floating castle, an undersea city. With such a source of Mana, one was only limited by enchanting skill rather than resources.
But sadly, his Mana pool ran out.
Looking at the floorboards now strengthened with the presence of enchantments Theodore spoke to Rainer, “A quick success. The possibilities of your class are truly endless.”
“As are the possibilities with this object…” Rainer said as he returned it to his ring. No matter the temptation, he would not try to pry open any more secrets. Not until he was ready to face the possible consequences.
“Since I need to recover my Mana, want to start teaching me the soul skill?”
“Of course,” Theodore responded.
The premise was to improve one’s Soul through Aura and Mana. Theodore ended up almost by accident in the final result, which was to become a sentient undead even when not a [Lich]. Theodore carefully explained how to apply one’s Aura to the soul, and while Rainer’s [General Aura Manipulation] increased to level 2 he did not gain a new skill. A failure.
[General Aura Manipulation has reached level 2]
As his Mana recovered, he returned to his original task of enchanting a Demon. He held in his hand the Mana-well to use as an aid.
He thought over his purpose. It was to connect to the user’s Mana Pool. Even if it didn’t exist, creating a pathway for that Mana. He thought over the Runes in [Arcane-Fire Breath] which governed how the Mana moved through one’s throat.
The Demon grunted in his sleep, but Rainer only repeated another drain of stamina. Theodore stood by, the hilt of his sword at the ready to deliver non-lethal damage.
Rainer finished drawing the Rune but gained no skill.
So, he repeated it again and again. He finally got the result he wanted, as a formula formed in his finger. Made of his version of the Mana Output Rune and the various Runes he knew already for controlling the flow of Mana.
For a moment, a dark blue glow lit on up the Demon, before receding. He did, in the end, not have any Mana. Among the burns still healing from a Demon’s high healing factor was a faint silver and violet Rune. It soon became almost imperceptible.
[Skill Gained: Demon Body Enchanting lvl 1/10]
Information flowed into him, as he gained a new skill. Understanding too that unless he became like the Goblin, or apparently, the Fae Queen, he could not enchant himself. The Body Enchantment itself drew on its subject’s innate magical qualities.
Even if Rainer had 10 times as much Mana as he did now, the residual amount in his blood and body wouldn’t be enough for this. It didn’t make him magical per say. Not like the [Fire Sage] was.
But is that what I want?
He questioned to himself. Even if the system claimed Arcane as the origin of magic, even if his Arcane seemed to stand above other magics, was it worth limiting himself to only Arcane Magic like the [Fire Sage] was limited to Fire? Would he actually be limiting himself given how Arcane Magic could enhance and mix with other magics? He knew too little.
It was true when he looked upon that Goblin through [Arcane Sight], he admired him. But there was no envy. He felt amazement for the commitment, but pity for the shackles that bound the Goblin to fire alone.
“Success?” Theodore questioned.
The words brought Rainer out of his thoughts, “Yeah, a success,” He said as he brought a mana infused finger and erased the enchantment. Particles of Mana floated away, leaving behind only the burns of the previous failures.
“You don’t seem to happy at such a feat?”
Rainer smiled, now fully realizing he could easily do this for Kara. And safely. It was just a question of changing the fuel source, and he had a perfect test subject in front of him.
“Just lost in thought. I still have a ways to go. It won’t be very useful for Kara if it can’t be used with Aura, especially given Elru’s words. That one needs a specialized class to reduce the cost; else they are practically useless. “
Rainer activated [Arcane Awakening]. He prepared to use Final Arcanum, though he, of course, did not unleash the skill.
The runes on his arms were like Mana Output runes but instead dealt with the Arcane Power inside him. Arcane spells automatically drew from Arcane Power, but such was not the same for the Runes on his body. It was slightly altered by his class, bridging the gap to the first skill level.
He continued his experiments on the Demon after canceling [Arcane Awakening], gaining a new skill in the process, in an attempt to make it fueled by Aura.
[Skill Gained: Aura Transfer lvl 1/10]
[General Aura Manipulation] could only allow one to manipulate Aura into someone body, but not inside their Aura Pool. This skill was different. And it was gained easily enough, given its similarities to [Aura Drain].
[Aura Transfer: Directly manipulate Aura into the targeted Aura Pool. The Aura may not be available for use.]
Running out of Mana after his attempts, Rainer talked with Theodore on the soul skill once more.
Rainer alternated between the two tasks but made little progress on Theodore’s skill.
Just as he was about to make yet another attempt on the Demon, he was struck with an idea.
“What if I made my [Arcane Awakening] able to be fueled by my Aura…my [Arcane Sight] is already a mixed skill, fueled by either Arcane Aura or Arcane Power…” He mumbled to himself.
Theodore sat quietly watching over the Demon. Given their difference in strength, so long as the Demon lacked any Aura and couldn’t shift, Theodore’s advantage was absolute.
Rainer activated [Arcane Awakening] with as little power as possible and focused on his stomach. He knew not why the Mana Output Rune was placed here on both of the Fae he met. Assuming it was optimal, he didn’t question it as of yet.
[Arcane Awakening] drew power from Rainer on its own, having no Runes except when he created skills. Rainer was just about to begin when he realized the danger of such a thing. If he, for example, made a Rune draw on his life instead of Aura.
“I’m going to get Luna to help me fall asleep first,” He said while draining his own stamina. Even without trying, a loss would occur in the looped drain.
Entering the white void of [Sleep Learning], Rainer took a moment to see if he could recreate the Mana-Well in here. The attempt failed and while disappointed he returned to the task at hand.
He activated [Arcane Awakening] to its maximum and looked once more at his stomach. Drawing on the knowledge he has from his [Arcane Sight] skill, he manipulated his Aura and tried to pour it into his [Arcane Awakening]. He used the Runic lines on his stomach as a medium.
A burst of Arcane Aura erupted from his stomach, reminding him why experiments were better left for [Sleep Learning]. Refreshing his formerly gutless body, he repeated the exercise.
The pain taught him to be far less forceful.
[Arcane Awakening has reached level 3]
Instead of a separate skill, the Rune that formed on his stomach became a part of [Arcane Awakening]. The skill permanently changed always to allow Aura to be used in its fueling.
Recalling the variety of Arcanist type classes, he knew this made sense as a part of [Arcane Awakening] rather than an additional skill.
Rainer committed the new rune formed on his stomach to memory before waking himself.
Seeing Rainer got up off the bed just minutes after he fell asleep Theodore asked, “That was fast. A failure or did you accomplish converting an enchant to be Aura fueled?”
“No, wait. Why did I ask? Come on; I wish to see the making of history,” Theodore said with a laugh as he looked down at the Demon.
Rainer only gave a slight grin and repeated the same actions for drawing the Mana Input Rune.
The Mana-well hummed with power as Rainer needed to draw for more Mana than last time. A Rune, the same as the one formed during [Arcane Awakening] took shape on the Demon. Rainer dipped his hand in blood once more, but this time he drew Aura to his finger as well. It was a finishing touch.
The Rune hummed for a brief moment as it connected to the Demon’s Aura pool, before receding. An action aided by Rainer’s own Aura. Something he understood was needed after leveling [Arcane Awakening].
[Demon Body Enchanting has reached level 2]
Rainer took a moment to memorize the Rune before erasing it. He noted the skill level was more based on one’s actual enchanting ability rather than the enchants used.
“Is there anything of use for us to keep him alive?” Having found an old bounty poster of Kara among the demons corpses, he knew how they tracked them. He’d have to talk to her too, about why she used her real name. There was only a single question left; if they told anyone else.
However, having a high Affinity attribute is what allowed Rainer to learn [Mana Reading], alongside his [Archon] class. The same could not be said for any type of Aura reading. He tried it with no success.
“Interrogating him, given his natural strength….we have no way to restrain him safely. If we wish to awaken him, we’d have to leave him with some of his stamina, which is dangerous. His heart may be of use, though.”
As of now, the party couldn’t be any more on guard. New information wouldn’t change that to a significant degree. And with reinforcements coming to deal with the monster horde, this town was the opposite of safe for Demons.
Rainer didn’t see any need to risk it for information that wouldn’t change anything.
“We’ll just get rid of him then,” Rainer spoke with an Arcane-Flame appearing above his hand.
Theodore placed his sword over the Demon’s head and with a small burst of Aura, stabbed his sword through the Demon’s head, killing him instantly.
An all-consuming Arcane-Flame cleaned up all evidence after Theodore removed the heart and placed it in the second spatial ring. Rainer encased it in an Arcane Weave so it would not cause an undue mess.
Theodore left the room to go and get Kara.
Kara entered before shutting the door behind herself.
“Hey Kara, before we start I have a question…”
“Hmm?” She intoned as she headed over to the bed. Theodore had already told her Rainer succeeded. Luna woke up and left Rainer’s coat in case Kara needed healing.
“Why didn’t you change your name if you were on the run?”
Kara blushed and looked away from his gaze.
Even before she could come up with an excuse Rainer couldn’t hold in his laughter.
Kara interrupted him, upset, given the trouble she had caused, “It's not funny Rainer. I brought them to us. First without changing my name or hiding my appearance, and then with the bounty…I…”
“Look, it’s fine,” Rainer said, “What’s the point of power if we have to hide? I’d rather see your smile, rather than having it always hidden by a hood whenever we leave this room.”
“How else can I keep the townswomen off me?” He added, eliciting a push from Kara, who was now in better spirits.
“So She-Wolf gets to be the open but Luna can’t. Rainer is playing favorites,” The Fairy said with a mocking pout.
“Well for you I need to be a bit stronger, you troublesome little fairy. Hurry up and learn a proper Glamour to hide in public.”
“Humph, Rainer doesn’t understand Luna’s difficulties. She is working on it.”
“Oh? Then I might beat you to it. I already can do the Fae exclusive Body Enchanting. Give it time, and I’ll do your Glamour too.”
“Then Luna will just do better,” She responded. No doubt within her as to his claim.
Kara reminded them of their purpose.
“Should we get started then?” Kara asked. Impatience was clear in her voice. The prospect of having even one of the enchantments Elru had excited her.
“I’ll have to practice and learn more from Elru, but for now I can only set up the Aura Output Rune and a shielding enchantment.”
Out of all the ones Elru demonstrated, Rainer had complete confidence in the shielding Rune but none in anything else. He only didn’t know how much, or if at all, such a thing would be more effective than Kara’s cladding.
He wondered too if there was a class for Aura-related Body Enchantments. A selfish desire sprung up in a hope to delay Kara’s Trial by having her switch classes. He truly wished a new and better class would result from his efforts.
His largest interest was in the Gift-like enchantments, though Elru mentioned they required weeks to be done, and quite the Mana cost. He hoped he could shorten this by a significant amount with the Mana-well. But he doubted it, for Elru said as well that her [Fae Enchantress] had an additional Mana resource to use.
“Lie back and let me see your stomach,” He said, and Kara complied.
His fingers traced over her taut stomach. Despite her constant training, she still retained an alluring feminine form. Rainer thought it a result of her Demonic nature, though he was brought out of his careful inspection by Kara’s voice.
“You can look as much as you want afterward.”
He returned to the task at hand dipping his finger in a bowl of his blood already prepared. He noted Theodore’s healing didn’t alleviate the blood loss, whereas Luna’s had an effect.
His finger drew across Kara. The flowing Mana eliciting Kara to breathe a bit quicker.
Rainer concentrated as he finished the Aura Output Rune. Fully connected to her Aura it instead shined white, as her Wolfkin Aura appeared, with a tinge of violet.
She felt a strange connection between herself and Rune. She flowed her Aura towards it as well. It remained alit with power, though lacking anywhere to go the Aura returned to her.
The silver lines faded entirely. Rainer viewed it as a product of her not being an entirely magical race, causing them to be dimmer than usual when not in use.
“I’ll set up the Shield Rune.”
“Roll over onto your stomach,” Rainer asked.
As she did he did his best not to laugh at the accidental similarity of the command he gave. He stifled it completely, remembering the offense of such a thing.
Kara’s blouse shifted to silver rings on her wrists, like when she transformed into her werewolf form, leaving her back bare.
He straddled Kara. Her tail, behind him, occasionally brushing against his back. He internally manipulated Mana and dipped his finger in his blood
His mana-charged finger moved along her back. Every reaction would cause her tail to move and let him know of her joy. Her fair skin soft and smooth.
Having carefully planned and memorized Elru’s shield rune, along with the knowledge of his own Shield Mode, Rainer completed the second enchantment. Though, carefully drawing the lines took him 4 hours of uninterrupted focus. Without his attributes, he imagined he would have failed and screwed up working unstopped in such a manner.
This one cost 330 points of Mana compared to the Aura Output Rune taking only 9 of his Mana and Arcane Aura. Not counting, of course, the untold amount of Mana he drew from the well.
He in part took so long so that he could regenerate Mana as he did it.
“Alright,” Rainer said while wiping sweat from his forehead, “See how it works.”
Kara hurried off the bed, nearly knocking him off, in her excitement. Her tail moved side to side quite rapidly.
“Ah Rainer I’m sorry, I-“
“Go ahead and test it already,” He smiled while waving he was alright.
The previously hidden runic lines lit up and a sphere formed around her. It was composed entirely of Aura yet Rainer felt it had a strange magical feeling to it, not unlike his Arcane Aura.
She altered the sphere to a single shield in front of her effortlessly.
“What do you think?”
“It’s definitely more efficient than my cladding, but…” Kara said and, with a burst of Aura ,the shield collapsed unable to take the additional strength, “the power is limited.”
Despite her words, her tail still moved side to side. Cladding needed to be used directly before a hit lest the cost was quite high. This shield’s efficiency meant it could be maintained for a far longer period of time without sacrificing too much strength.
“I already want more…” Kara spoke, sadly remembering Elru’s current destination. She smiled gazing over at Rainer, “Thank you.”
Rainer froze for a moment, seeing the radiant smile on her face, and how her golden eyes seemed to glow.
“I’m happy to help.” He finally said.
I’ll come up with more with my [Arcane Awakening]. I just need to make sure they translate first…” The Rune he ended up drawing was an improved version of Elru’s shield, based on his own knowledge and the formula for [Mana Shield]. Yet his [Arcane Awakening] couldn’t produce the same type of shield with Arcane Power.
Doing something like Final Arcanum could have unforeseen consequences when fueled by Aura and not created in [Arcane Awakening]. He’d rather learn the Gift-like enchantments on Elru to put onto Kara.
While he watched Kara experiment with her new ability, enjoying her clear expression of happiness given her tail, Luna spoke.
“When is it Luna’s turn for enchantments?”
“When Elru brings back the practice material,” He said helping the tired Fairy onto his lap. Focused the entire time on sensing Kara’s condition, Luna was quite tired.
“You think Elru will return?”
“Then how come Luna needs to hide her flame around her…is there something wrong with it…?” She asked a bit meekly.
“No. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. But until we know for sure we’ll keep it a secret. And even if there is something wrong with it, do you think it’ll matter?”
“Nope,” Luna answered yawning, “Rainer wouldn’t care. Luna doesn’t mind anything else…” She added, climbing up his enchanted overcoat and into the pocket she created for herself.
Rainer, exhausted from his efforts, fell asleep soon after.
Riding Charles’ Nightmare a messenger rode all day and night through Grimlar’s pass and toward the nearby capital of Mier, and home of the Skyborne Guild Headquarters. No birds would approach the northern mountain range making the [Adult Nightmare] and other monsters the only reliable non-magical means of communication.
At this pace, it would only take him half a day longer to reach The Capital city of Mier, Hathor’s Rise.
Time flowed, and just as Rainer went to sleep Charles’ messenger reached his destination.
Whether it was the royal army or the Skyborne Mage Guild everyone had been alerted and prepared to head North. George volunteered as one of those to go on the Skyborne’s behalf after learning from Martin of recent events.
He headed to where Matheus was still staying and asked him to come along as well. Given the possible threat to Hunter’s Guild branch in the North, Matheus complied.
“How exactly do you know your new Northern enthusiast is still there?” Matheus asked George. The wind rushed by them as they flew through the sky, yet George’ flight spell kept it from them.
“My son mentioned my new companion had another encounter with the Fae. Set an entire mansion aflame. I imagine he might still be there,” George spoke. Rainer had only told him to keep his class secret. Everything else George didn’t even think to.
Unbeknownst to George, Matheus sank into thought at the mention of an encounter with the Fae.
The two continued north, three other 2nd tier mages flying behind them carrying 2nd tier experts related to the royal army.
They all would head through Grimlar’s pass after reaching the mountain range. One in part to avoid the dangerous monsters around its peak, another given the sheer height, they wouldn't be able to make it in a single flight and have to pause to recover; a life-threatening action in such a deadly territory.
And two, to recover their Mana in preparation for whatever may lay ahead.
Aware in [Sleep Learning], Rainer first thought over recent events and his fight with the [Fire Sage]. He understood his primary weakness, Mana. Even if his main attacks were Arcane powered, his utility was not.
His Shield Mode completely depleted his Arcane Power, and Rainer had periods of time where he was defenseless. The worst-case scenario of the [Fire Sage] ignoring him entirely and rushing his companions went through his mind. Add on the wolves, and it could have ended far differently.
No longer having an immediate need to level up either anatomy skill, Rainer decided to purchase [Arcane Revival]. If Luna could focus her healing on Kara instead of him, it would ease much of his worries. Alternatively, if she could instead focus all her power on consuming magic, perhaps even the [Fire Sage] would fall to her flame. It would also prevent another situation where Luna was forced to reveal herself to heal him.
[Skill Gained: Arcane Revival lvl 1/10]
[Arcane Revival: The Arcane is not just of chaos, but it is of order. Use the power within the Arcane to bring stability to one’s body. To heal one’s wounds. While in use, increases all resistances by 6.1% per 1 Arcane Power.]
Upon trying to use it, Rainer found himself unable to. He instantly understood he couldn’t use [Arcane Awakening] at the same time.
Remembering the requirements, he wrote down for [Archon], Rainer’s first thought was that advancing [Arcane Revival] was crucial for his future progress. He also considered that both the Fae Queen and the [Fire Sage] gained a similar skill from their store and that was how they become Wind or Flame-Touched.
Forming an [Arcane Blade] on his finger, Rainer quickly stabbed through his hand.
His eye twitched before he activated [Arcane Revival]. The Arcane power flowed through his entire body. Smooth flowing lines formed across his body. The small wound on his hand drew extra power and healed almost instantly.
Increasing the power of [Arcane Revival], he found his body becoming stiff the more he increased the power. At 50%, his heart stopped beating. Rainer pushed it further, seeking to explore the ability, but found himself automatically refreshed at an unknown point. Venturing, that his brain stopped at some point.
Performing another test, Rainer stabbed an [Arcane Blade]ed finger into his heart. He immediately operated [Arcane Revival] at 45%, just below it maximum.
After dying a few times, he found out a method to heal it quick enough.
He expended a large portion of his power but managed to repair the hole before succumbing to it. Compared to Luna’s healing, the cost was expensive. He noted, however, that Luna’s true power seemed to extend beyond just healing. Consuming Magic was a far greater ability in Rainer’s mind.
Rainer sat down, activating [Arcane Revival] once more. Hoping to gain at least the second level easily with his class. As he followed the Energy orderly flowing through his body, he quickly realized he had lost himself and spent far more time than intended.
[Arcane Revival has reached level 2]
The ratio did not improve, but the maximum percentage did. The percent as well didn’t just influence his resistances, but also meant how much power he could devote to healing and how fast he could heal.
He decided to use his remaining time more wisely and feared being stuck in a coma-like state as the Goblin horde approached.
Rainer altered the space around him, replicating the looseness in that strange Devil infested world. Opening [Spatial Domain] and bringing [Arcane Awakening] at 100%, he thought over how Arcane could be mixed with space.
He recalled how the [Arcane Blade] seemed to cut through space itself. How it cut the immaterial [Fire Sage]. He cast an [Arcane Blade] and swung it around a few times.
Using [Spatial Domain] to sense the blades movements, Rainer stood up and went through the various forms Kara taught him in the past.
The humming blade cut through the air. And as Rainer soon learned, altered the space itself. It did not cut through space entirely but weakened it.
He flowed power into the [Arcane Blade] as he operated [Arcane Energy Manipulation] as well. No more power came from within but from another place. As the Blade became engorged with power, the space around it loosened further.
The cycling Arcane energy in the blade went faster and started to draw in more Arcane Energy on his command. The blade rapidly leveled up, becoming a tier 4 spell. Not only did it affect space to a higher degree, but it could also be empowered and extended more.
[Arcane Blade has reached level 11]
[Arcane Blade has reached level 12]
[Arcane Blade has reached level 13]
[Arcane Blade has reached level 14]
[Arcane Blade amended: Arcane Blade lvl 1/13]
Rainer threw the hilt away and instead focused entirely on his [Spatial Domain]. He understood now, the likely benefit of mixing Arcane and Spatial Energy beyond the usual. How to mix them remained the question.
Operating [Spatial Manipulation], Rainer tried to use it in concert with [Arcane Energy Manipulation] to pull out more energy.
He recalled the similar action he took in opening the pathway with [Void-walking] and [Arcane Energy Manipulation].
The flow of Arcane Energy heightened, yet he approached no closer to mixing the two as he awoke.
Upon opening his eyes Rainer saw Kara across the room, playing with her shield enchantment. He imagined just how excited she’d be with an enchantment like the one Elru used to dash in the air.
Rather he wished to recreate such a thing for himself as well. Something about it appealed to him more than just a flight spell, ignoring the combat benefits.
Theodore knocked on the door soon after, saying that with their food a message from George was delivered.
Prompted by the maid’s message, Rainer headed out in the foyer, party in tow. Seeing George and another waiting for him, he headed forward. He now had some hope George might tell him just what was so important about Grimlar’s Pass.
The man next to George gave Rainer a familiar feeling. Rainer used [Arcane Sight] and went on the defensive. The new Fae’s lack of Mana and strange energy confused him, but Rainer focused on his possible enemy.
Seeing the expression on his face and the strange magic, Matheus, in turn, assumed Rainer saw through him.
An Enemy of the Fae! How can such a thing be possible unless they could see through Glamour…idiot! He’d already be killed by a court assassin otherwise.
Matheus thought to himself. As a precaution, he reacted and blocked Rainer’s Mana pool with his abilities.
Feeling this, Rainer prepared to remove Matheus and all his surroundings. Runic lines flared across Rainer as he outstretched his hand.
Matheus acted in turn, odd fluctuations of energy spiraled around him. The energy lacked a color yet visibly distorted the air.
They stood across from one another, unmoving. [Arcane Awakening] flooded to its maximum power. Matheus stood still, his strange energy teeming.
Rainer prepared to unleash Final Arcanum at any moment.
At Charles’ behest, the guards already ran out from the foyer, and after exchanging a nod with Rainer, Charles left as well. He was quite thankful the other guests were staying elsewhere at the moment.
Staring at Matheus with [Arcane Sight], Rainer was suddenly hit with inspiration. He used [Appraisal] and tried to weave the skill to sneak in behind [Arcane Sight].
His vision blurred for a moment but then he saw through Matheus’ [Appraisal] guard.
[Fairy, Male, Psionic Master(2nd) lvl 21, Psy-Pugilist(2nd) lvl 11]
A close-combat fist fighter…and psychic abilities…is that how the [Arch-Lich] prevented me from casting magic?
Rainer noted an appearance far different than the average looking man of before.
Long white hair tied in a ponytail, and blue eyes bordering on white and pointed ears. Under his glamour Matheus blended into a crowd yet without it, he would draw a crowd.
A more shocking point for Rainer was the complete lack of Mana. His strange energy fueled his Glamour yet seemed to be of an entirely different nature, not using any internal Runes.
George gulped feeling the power of Rainer’s magic. He started backing up away from Matheus and hoped whatever happened wouldn’t be blamed on him.
Matheus too was in shock. Rather he didn’t know what not to be surprised about. Whether from the [Archon] class he appraised, the title, the age, the fact [Appraisal] was used on him and saw through his own defenses.
Or that the [Archon] cast such powerful magic through a skill that should make it impossible. Matheus immediately noticed the Aura flaring from the [Archon]’s companions. He could only block a single person at a time.
He retracted his skill and backed away. Facing the [Archon] alone, Matheus was not confident. Versus all them?
Matheus was powerful regardless of his ability to block Magic or Aura use. But his greatest feat of killing a Mage Guild Master was because of such a skill.
“I’m sorry, you surprised me,” Matheus paused before looking over at George, “You mind leaving?”
George checked with Rainer before exiting the mansion. There was not a person within Rainer’s [Soul Detection] range.
“Whatever your conflict with the Fae, I’m unrelated. I left 300 years ago. As you can probably tell, I don’t exactly fit in.”
Rainer canceled Final Arcanum but maintained [Arcane Awakening] at its minimum. This way he could use Shield Mode with only a thought. He let out a sigh of relief, happy not to have to fight this mysterious Fae. Along with not needing to destroy another one of Charles’ homes.
“Well then, why don’t you tell me exactly why you aren’t my enemy?”
Matheus was quite glad to be able to tell his story, given he had hidden his nature as a Fae ever since he left home. Even if it was forced.
And learning the person George had found for the campaign into the deep north was an [Archon], Matheus grew excited at the unreasonable existence in front of him. He wished to mend the bridge he nearly burnt, or rather caused to be nearly torn asunder from whatever massive spell the [Archon] prepared.
He glanced at the female Wolfkin as she stood behind the sofa where the [Archon] sat. Matheus stayed at the other end of the room.
“You mind if she leaves?”
Matheus sighed before speaking, “Why…whatever,” he casually remarked as he leaned against a wall.
“I’m no friend of the Fae either. I didn’t just leave, I was shunned and would have likely been exiled. I’m a Manaless. No matter what I did, I couldn’t unlock my Affinity. For a Human, this a normal situation. For a Fae…”
Matheus grunted and reminded himself why he needed to go north, and his pale cheeks turned a slight shade of red, “It’s like being a eunuch.”
Rainer couldn’t help but glance downwards at the declaration.
“Not that kind. Fortunately, that part still works. But as a Fae, most never bother with the physical. We exchange Mana. It doesn’t work for sustenance when between Fae, but it’s how we have to mate in order to try and have children. For a member of the Winter Court being Manaless was not acceptable. I couldn’t stand the derision and so I left before I was forced out as a weak embarrassment. Eventually, I met someone who taught me the power I had in place of Mana. Thankfully, before I was caught and tortured for my dust. He helped me learn how to use my inborn ability for Glamour as well. Even without Mana.”
Gunthar mumbled in the background. He couldn’t fathom why everyone they met discussed such matters so openly.
“Those who hold out their hands in prayer cannot choose the miracle that comes to them…” He spoke quietly.
“Mind telling why you said all this?” Rainer asked doing his best not to laugh at Gunthar’s remark, especially given the sensitivity of the situation. He completely put away his thoughts about how he fed Luna for another time. Suspicions as to the method he fed her with, already filled his mind in the past. Though, he recalled never exchanging Mana both ways, only giving when she was hungry.
“George has been trying to convince me to go North for a while. I told him I didn’t want to risk it given my status as the Hunter’s Guild Master,” Matheus said the last words a bit proudly but seeing not a single reaction from the [Archon] or his group, he awkwardly coughed. Finding his words again, “That was only part of the truth. Even though the forbidden land doesn’t affect my strength, I alone am not enough. It isn’t a risk to go by myself; it is all but certain death to travel too deep. George thinks of me as his answer, but in truth, I’m not. But It’s important to me. I want to go with you.”
“You hate the Fae?” Rainer asked.
“More than anything.”
“The Fae in general, or government?” Rainer clarified.
“The courts,” Matheus answered. It wasn’t entirely true, he generally disliked all Fae, but he ventured the [Archon]’s relationship with the Fae was more complicated than just enemies.
“Well then, I have no problem,” If the man in front of him at full strength couldn’t survive in the far North, Rainer knew even if he could partially resist the effect, the current him wasn’t enough. It wasn’t as if they were going to invite Matheus to their party, in any case.
“But you should know I don’t plan on going, at least for a few months, if not longer,” Rainer still had many ideas for how to grow stronger in a short period of time.
“Good. If you wanted to rush North now, I’d change my mind.”
“Let’s call George back. I have a lot of questions.”
The party relocated to George’s favorite Inn that he and Rainer ate at before.
Theodore and Gunthar continued their act as guards, while Kara sat next to Rainer, across from George and Matheus. Theodore stood directly behind Rainer, prepared for any moves by Matheus. Theodore had been greatly surprised that his [Soul Detection] saw Matheus as human and was weary of him since then.
George had already put up a wind barrier to block out sound as they waited for their food.
All those seated drank wine. After some time of explaining the extent of the goblin horde, as well as the [Fire Sage], Rainer then asked a question in turn.
“So, George, you think you can tell me just what’s so valuable about Grimlar’s pass that’d they’d send so many people in the 2nd Tier over?” George told Rainer of the reinforcements that arrived just behind him. The full army rode on horseback, still a way behind.
To the surprise of Matheus, George didn’t even hesitate to reveal his country’s and Mage Guild’s secret.
“You know the method for extending a Mage’s life?” George asked.
Rainer nodded. He hadn’t fully looked through it but knew Nalmar’s version was a potion of various requirements.
“Well on this note I might as well answer the question you asked my son, why we have the relationship we do with the Arachne. It’s quite simple: Magicite, Mana crystals, and Azure haze. The first is the rarest and most important ingredient for the ritual to extend a mage’s life, the second without which enchantment would be a life-long endeavor, and the third is the key part of Mana Regeneration potions. All crucial to mages. And the first and second, all Mage Guilds on the Northern continent almost exclusively trade with the Arachne for.“
“And you allow them this monopoly?” Rainer asked.
“We have no choice. We’ve sent spies and bribes of course, but no one can give us a clear answer to the source. Magicite is the most important to the higher-ups of guilds. They trade much for it and the secret alliance between us is based on it. It’s also how they keep Mages like me loyal. Our only theory is that it is related to the Mana Crystal mines,” George added before taking another drink of his wine.
“There is no other option but to give into their demands. We could risk attacking, but we may then lose the source forever. At least, until we found traces of possible Mana Crystals in the Northern side of the mountain range. We’ve been carefully surveying and exploring, but we soon learned they weren’t as unclaimed as we thought. The Skyborne and the Kingdom of Mier are partnered to keep this away from other Guilds. That’s why so little was stationed at Grimlar’s Pass. It needed to remain as nothing more than a common trading town.”
Rainer’s thoughts went all over the place. He understood that George’s view was not the same as the Arachne given the respect Rainer was shown for simply seeming like a mage of status. With George's information, Rainer knew more of what it would take to form his goal.
For his academy, he solved the issue of Mana Crystals before he even knew of the issue. But in terms of extending a Mage’s longevity, something that keeps an eccentric like George tied to his guild, Rainer had only thought of Fairy Dust for himself. But with his enemy as a minor part of the Fae, he no longer had such a plan.
Now, however, came a new opportunity.