After a couple of months, Jude was fully recovered from his injuries and well underway studying and experimenting with the skills of Spell Analyst. His days were joyful and filled with peace, but he wasn’t free of all troubles.
A great storm in the Arkess desert erupted, cutting off the area around Longdale from the Riwa Kingdom as a whole. This lead to the other lords and nobles near Longdale to seek guidance from Jude.
Jude didn’t like the idea of a throne room, even though one was built for him. Instead, he received visitors in his workshop where he and Ellie experiments on a vast array of different things.
Like most of the town, the workshop was a combination of grown trees and traditional human construction. The floor was solid stone polished smooth in most areas except near the forges. Crafting stations of all types dotted the room as well as large tables containing many books and scrolls. The space was large and the ceilings high, so it didn’t feel stuffy regardless of how much was cluttering the room. In fact, it vaguely reminded Jude of Murl's workshop.
In one corner, there was a table and a few comfy chairs. Jude was currently meeting with a town lord that neared the Arkess Desert.
“Don’t worry, we will supply grain to you in this time of need,” Jude said to the lord. “We currently have a surplus of fruits as well that we can send.”
“Lord Jude, my people will forever thank you for your help in this time of dispair.” The lord responded.
“How could I not help when there are others in need. And please, don’t call me lord. I have not been given this title.”
“You may not be an official lord, but in the hearts of all the people West of Arkess, you are. Just the restructure of the newbie area has been a great help to the youths. But you also have-“
Jude waved his hand cutting the lord off, “I’ve only taken a few small steps to help my fellow man. It is the least I can do before leaving.”
“You are leaving Lord Jude?” the town lord was surprised. “I guess it makes sense, someone of your standing can’t stay here. Perhaps you will be the one to break the level thresh hold finally.”
Jude sighed, disappointed that ‘lord’ was still being used, but was also interested in the fact that the level threshold was brought up once again.
“But how will you get past the sandstorm?” the lord asked.
“It will take some time, but I will find a way,” Jude answered.
The lord left shortly after and Ellie came up to him, “You know you have a perfectly good throne room to accept people like that in.”
“I’m trying to get people to stop calling me Lord Jude all the time. If I use that room, it will only solidify the title in people’s minds.” He responded with another sigh.
“Well it’s annoying to have to stop working every time you host someone,” Ellie said with a fake haughty attitude, “Go find somewhere else to host your parties.”
Jude smirked, “I’m pretty sure this is MY workshop, even if I call it ours.”
“Ah, no. I just let you call it OUR workshop because I feel sorry for you. But if you insist on keeping up this attitude, you can work somewhere else!”
After a good laugh, they both started working once more. At level 20, Spell Analyst gains <Script Magic>. But since Jude didn't have enough Rank III skills in Spell Analyst, it was a while before he was able to unlock it.
“So the stability of these <Scripts> still needs some work. I think we are going to need to rework the brush design. The quality is just too low for what I’m trying to do.” Jude said looking over a few scrolls.
After reaching Rank II, inscribing more complex scripts started to burn out the brushes.
“It would be a lot easier if you could use <Inscription Magic> that way we would know what you needed. Your <Script Magic> is far too complicated if even the advanced brushes we’ve made aren’t good enough.”
“I think we need some sort of treant wood for the body. It would allow for better processing of mana, and I could customize the items circuitry. But I don’t know what bristles would be compatible with it.”
“Treant wood… treant…” Ellie mumbled while thinking, “Ah! Flame fox tails would be best for this application! They would naturally draw energy from the wood making it a perfect brush when combined. Any other wood and it would combust, but treant wood should be able to handle it. The real problem is finding treant wood.”
Jude and Ellie continued to discuss specifications…
One day as winter was finally fading and Jude was sipping a hot cup of Gib Dei. The pungent flavor still made him want to gag, but the caffeine was necessary.
Not all deserts are hot all year round, and Arkess desert was one of these. The sand storm that perpetually endured was a mystery even to Jude. The only thing worse than a sand storm was a frozen sand storm filled with hail.
His lack of success with the storm itself led him to other avenues. The reports of decreased bandit activity since the fall of Lerhadar a strange occurrence that most would not associate with the sand storm. But in times like these, Jude knew that bandit activity should have increased.
The only conclusions that Jude could think of were that they either died or ran away. Guudnash and Abaud had worked with the Bandits in the past, so keeping an eye on them was something important to Jude. But since Guudnash seemed to have escaped, it was possible that he took the Bandits with him.
When Jude slayed Abaud, he looted the Bandit den that he was in. Mostly it was armor weapons and gold, but he also remembered that there were books and scrolls as well. Unfortunately, those items had been lost during the recent events that changed Longdale.
“Krinn!” Jude burst into Krinn’s office. There were a few others in the room as well, but Jude ignored them. “Have you found those documents that I asked for yet?”
“Not yet boss, but I have some of the old members of Heroic Retribution scouring the old HQ. And I have a few more guys going out to the support personnel that we had at that time. I’m sure the items will turn up soon.” Krinn assured.
“Good, I’m always impressed at how well you get the job done!” Jude praised. The items weren’t in Jude’s hand yet, but his confidence in Krinn had only gotten greater over the last several months.
“Boss, let me introduce you to these two. They will be taking over my responsibilities soon.” Krinn said motioning to the two men sitting on the opposite side of him.
“What? You're leaving me?” Jude asked worriedly.
“No, I’m coming with you!” Krinn fumed, “I know you are trying to find a way out of the sand storm and are you are not leaving me behind. But I can’t just abandon Longdale either, so I’ve been training these two to take over for us while I’m away.”
Jude smiled, “Krinn, I’m touched and here I though you only went after girls.”
Krinn turned red and flustered, “WHAT?! No- I’m- No I mean- Dammit Jude you are taking this the wrong way! Stop joking with me.”
Jude laughed, “How could I not take that one? It was priceless!”
“You know what, fine, I’m staying here.” Krinn scowled.
Jude continued to laugh as he left the room knowing full well that Krinn would be joining him on his adventures.
But as soon as he left, he received a startling notification. His smile quickly disappeared.
Quest Update: Restore the Stone
The stone shard held by the Riwa Kingdom is now being offered as a reward for the Wizard event of the Elitist Tournament. Gain the shard by winning first place in the tournament six months from now.
Level Required: 30
Finding a way passed the storm was now even more important than ever. Jude had a feeling that this stone quest line that he started the first day he arrived would be the most important quest he would undertake. Something told him that this quest would change the world.
A few days later the Bandit’s documents were found and delivered to Jude. There wasn’t much, just a single tome and a few scrolls.
The scrolls ended up being single use items and were utterly useless to him. <Inscription Magic> could be applied in many ways, one of which was in the creation of spell scrolls. Jude had recently unlocked <Script Magic> which was similar in its applications as <Inscription Magic> yet completely different.
<Inscription Magic> used runes to form complex meanings and intents. <Script Magic> also used runes, but in a different way. It was more like a programming language and could include conditions. This meant that <Inscription Magic> was more powerful while <Script Magic> was more dynamic.
These types of scrolls were things Jude had already studied. He had reviewed countless spell scrolls, engraved inscriptions on weapons and items and even more inscriptions on various landmarks to learn about runes and their meaning.
He had also studied glyphs that crafters used, especially the divine glyphs that Ellie used. <Script Magic> could also utilize these glyphs, but Jude had yet to find a way to integrate them successfully.
Opening the tome, Jude was in for another disappointment. It contained mostly entries of debt owed to the Wallowing Blood Bandits. But it also included a few notes similar to journal entries. Surprising considering a Bandit wrote this.
Most of the entries were of little help or interest until he got to the period that Abaud showed up to the bandit den. The bandit had been well paid for all the slaves in the slave pits. But he still wasn’t happy about Abaud.
Jude continued reading until he found a clue to what he was looking for. The bandit primarily kept notes of things of interest, so when he heard of a secret way from the Valley Maze into the Arkess, he unquestionably wrote it down.
But what confused Jude, was that the passage ran from the slot canyons of Valley Maze into the aquifers of Arkess. As far as Jude knew, there was no way a person could travel through an aquifer. If they weren’t full of water, they were full of sand and stone.
On the next page over, Jude found a crude set of travel instructions. Valley Maze was a very confusing place, maps of it were highly unreliable. If anyone wanted to go to a particular spot, they would rely on directions and not a map. Little else was on this page, so Jude guessed that it was the directions from the bandit's den to the Arkess aquafers.
It wasn’t a substantial lead, but it was the only lead Jude had.
It was the beginning of spring by the time Jude finally started getting ready to leave. He prepared for several days making sure he had all he needed. Getting lost inside Valley Maze was very possible, so he made sure that he was ready for all outcomes.
He hadn’t explicitly told anyone he was going, but the investigation wouldn’t take more than a day or three, so he hadn’t worried about it. When he reached the stable to grab a horse, he realized his mistake.
Krinn, Wen, and Ellie stood there in front of him.
“Were you planning to leave us behind?” Krinn asked.
“We work together every day,” Ellie said sadly, “Do you really think that I wouldn’t want to come?”
“You can’t go adventuring without us! Cosh’ing answer us!” Wen nearly yelled.
I can’t answer you Wen when you don’t let me talk. Jude thought.
“I’m just going to investigate a possibility. If I found a way, I would come back for you guys. If I didn’t, I still would come back!”
“Then what about all the cosh’ing supplies you gathered?” Wen asked.
“I’m just being prepared for anything. You never know what might happen.” Jude answered. “By the way, how did you know about all of this?”
“Besides the fact that I work with you every day? How could I not know?” Ellie said, then she pointed behind Jude, “Besides they told us everything.”
Jude looked behind him, and there were Cairfay and Nellie. They had become his shadows since the fall of Lerhadar. Like silent sentinels that stood watch, they rarely talked unless Jude initiated the conversation. Jude, however, was never much for conversation.
“I suppose you two are coming as well?” Jude asked.
They both nodded their affirmation.
“Ok then, I hope you all brought your own supplies!”
“Let’s get going.”
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Bio: I'm a father of three kids and married to the woman of my dreams. I'm young enough to have grown up with the internet, yet was still a child before my State got it. I have been involved with Computers and Games for a long time which led to a career in programming.