Don't Worry, We Have the Best Supporter in Our Team
Six hours had passed since their lunch. As they traversed through the forest, they fought off against wolves, slimes and sometimes spriggans.
Alice thought this would be a good opportunity to practice their coordination since they didn’t usually get this opportunity in the Academy due to their assignments. The last time they had this kind of battle was during the rescue quest at the Moon Village.
“According to the map, we should be out of the forest by now.”
Just as Jayce informed the group of their location, they finally saw a clearing in the distance. Dusk was upon them, and they took this chance to proceed further to settle down.
When the sun was out, they took out their lanterns.
Silence crept over them.
With Alice taking over the reins, the others got off their ride and maintained a diamond formation around it, covering each other’s blind spots while finding a good place to camp.
Nora had already sent out her spirits ahead of them. Despite being an S-rank adventurer, she would only help out in situations that are out of their capabilities.
Compared to Nora’s spirits. Irene’s spirit was meant for gathering information as it could share its senses with Irene. But it couldn’t communicate telepathically, and its attack spells were about a quarter of Nora’s spirit alone.
Irene did receive a few lessons from Nora when it came to spirit type familiars during their spare times. From there, she had to think of ways or techniques to compensate for her weaknesses.
Irene had Aria for almost a year now. According to Nora, masters and spirits developed skills based on the bond between them. But to Irene, that was rather vague.
I wonder what Aria is thinking, thought Irene as she hung her head.
Noticing the slight movement from Irene, Aiden guessed she was down for some reason. As he was about to think of a way to cheer her up, he reminded himself to keep his guard up and kept his ears open.
The night was where monsters became more aggressive than usual. They learnt this fact from their bestiary lessons from the Academy.
Their minds suddenly brought back to reality as she noticed one of Nora’s spirits descending toward them.
“Monsters have been spotted about two kilometres from here. They were heading our way, but rest assured, they weren’t close enough to catch our scent.”
“Understood. We should set up camp here,” said Jayce, pointing the finger at their left. “It would be best not to block the main road.”
Once they parked their carriage, Jayce assigned roles to everyone. This time, it was Irene and Aiden’s turn to prepare dinner for everyone. Alice, Jayce, and Nora returned to the forest to watch out for monsters or bandits; Alice and Jayce on the low-ground while Nora took the high-ground.
Alice mentally drew a map in her mind, keeping track of where they were heading to ensure they didn’t get lost in the vast forest. They had to travel for another day or two to reach Icarus Village.
“I’m going to look around further,” said Jayce. He flicked his hand, producing a throwing dagger from one of his sleeves and handed it over to Alice. “Just in case if something happens to you or me, I will teleport back to you. Make sure you always keep the dagger with you.”
“Then I will…”
Even if she knew how strong he was and that he wanted to keep it hidden from others, she felt like she should be there to provide support in a dark environment.
“It won’t take long. I will come back by the time dinner is ready,” responded Jayce, patting her in the head before he went further deep into the forest.
Alice stared at his back until his figure gradually melted into the forest’s darkness. Thinking there was no help to it, she sighed. She looked around her surroundings once more and resumed her walk. Along the way, her mind was racing, thinking of Jayce’s safety. It was true that he could handle himself with the nature of his magic circuit within him, but—
“We can still communicate this way.”
His voice reached her telepathically. She almost forgot their communication ability. Jayce had told Alice that after Irene and Aiden moved into Adventurer Academy, they would need to improve communications and coordination. Thus, they kept this ability a secret from others, thinking this would be helpful for them in specific situations in the future.
“When was the last time we communicate this way?”
The sense of relief washed all over her, but that didn’t mean she had to let her guard down.
The air grew humid every step she took. Icy feelings crawling through her back as the cold wind brushes her arms and legs. But it was strange that she didn’t encounter any monsters after surveying the area and head back to the camp.
The sound of twig breaking came to her ear and a quick and precise incantation was all she needed to summon a few Frost Spears and Lumina to light the direction at the source of the sound.
The bushes rattled violently.
Even with Lumina, her limbs felt as heavy as lead. Sweats formed around her temple at each passing moment, waiting for the enemy to make their appearance until...
“Noir?” asked Alice, lowering her staff down and let her projectiles disappear into the wind.
Noir was Jayce’s wolf familiar; it used to protect Alice during their first quest. Now Noir was standing before her, wagging its tail. Probably happy to see her.
“Jayce, are you alright?”
“I’m fine. I summoned Noir to escort you make your way back to the camp. I will be fine..”
“Where are you?” she asked while petting Noir in the head.
“I’m still deep in the forest. Go back to the camp. Dinner should be ready by now.”
That was enough to make Alice worried. Before she realized it, her left hand was clenched into a fist.
“Could you lead me to Jayce?” asked Alice.
Noir, however, shook its head, declining her request. It then turned its head in the direction of their camp.
When Alice arrived back at the camp, she could smell the savoury aroma wafted through the air and heard the cracklings from the firewoods used for the portable spit, cooking the entire lamb leg had bought from the Capital.
The tents had been set up, and food was almost ready.
Besides the tents, Nora was currently using an outdoor alchemy table. Alice herself had used portable alchemy tools a few times during their visit to her shop. There was a distinct difference in terms of efficiency between both of them.
The purpose of the magic circle was to act as a medium to transfer mana from alchemists to their concoctions, bringing out more of the concoctions’ potency. However, another factor came into play when it came to alchemy: the ingredients themselves.
Although Nora utilized a vast quantity of rare materials and knew their locations, she also used common ingredients to her products. She had taught Alice that it was important not to focus on the quality of the ingredients and the ratio as each ingredient will either complement or disrupt each other’s effects.
“Nora, do you know anything about enchanted whetstones?”
She remembered Jayce using an enchanted whetstone for his weapons that were produced through runecraft. So this may be a good time to ask whether it was possible to achieve that result through alchemy.
“Hmm… No. But it would be interesting to see one produced that way. What about it?”
Before she could answer, she heard Jayce returned to the camp unscathed, leaving Nora’s question unanswered as Jayce prompted everyone to start their dinner.
As they gathered at the campfire for dinner, Alice whispered to Nora.
Nora had enough experience when it came to romantic relationships. She had never been through a romantic relationship as witches like her had a long lifespan compared to humans by a considerable margin. Instead, she preferred to listen or watch over couples if they ever needed their assistance. That was why, in Nora’s perspective, she saw Alice and Jayce as an item. That also included Aiden and Irene.
But judging by how they interact with each other, their relationships were getting nowhere, not even a budge. The only speculation she could think of is that each of them had problems of their own to settle. All she could do was to guide them as their lecturer and a friend.
I wonder what kind of development they will make.
She managed to stop herself from giggling without anyone noticing—all except Aiden.
Does Nora have food allergies? thought Aiden. His thoughts soon placed to the back of his mind as Nora resumed eating dinner normally.
After eating dinner, Jayce mentioned that there was a lake in the northern section of the forest. He suggested that the girls take a bath at the lake while the boys clean up the table and dishes.
The girls knew the boys well enough that they wouldn’t peek at them while they bathe. Besides, Aiden was blind, and Jayce wasn’t the kind of guy who would do something like that. But if one of them ever attempted to do so, they would not hesitate to bring forth their wrath toward them. In short, they would cast a barrage of spells that were lethal enough to get them close to death.
“Ahhh. That hits the spot,” said Irene as she slowly submerged into the lake.
Both Alice and Nora couldn’t agree more. They felt their fatigue was slowly melting away into the lake. Thousands of stars appeared in the dark sky to display the beauty of nature around them and welcome the girls to the forest. The scenery before them was mentally comforting, and the air around here was refreshing, along with the scents from tree leaves.
They took a moment of silence to relax until they rejuvenated. Even though everyone had finished cleaning themselves, they wanted to stay a bit longer.
“I have been wondering. Why did you enrol into Adventurer Academy?” asked Irene as she glanced toward Alice.
Nora didn’t say anything, but she seemed to be interested in this. Most students would find this question personal. At least, that was what Alice had heard from her parents.
“Very well. There are a few reasons why I want to be an adventurer. For now, all I can say is that I want to create unique magic.”
“A unique magic?”
“A one of kind magic that can be used by one adventurer. In most cases, they can either be obtained from ancient ruins or created by yourself.”
Nora pitched in to explain it to Irene.
Alice didn’t see any point in keeping it a secret since it was quite a simple reason for her. No matter what others said about her dream.
“But I have to become an S-rank adventurer first,” she continued. “How about you, Irene?”
“I wanted to create my own collection of powerful bows.”
She’s really into weapons.
Both Alice and Nora had the same thought when they heard that. They continued their conversation until they decide to finish up their bath.
The group decided to form pairs and take turns to watch over the camp. The first pair was Alice and Jayce; the second pair was Irene and Aiden, and Nora by herself.
The first shift began with Alice and Jayce. They sat close by the campfire, staying warm from the cold of the night, and leaned to each other behind their backs.
The owl’s calling sounded in the midst of the night. It wasn’t that much of a disturbance and somewhat pleasant as they reminded them that they were in nature’s territory.
Skrrrt Skrrrt Skrrrt
“What is this for?”
She asked without looking behind, keeping watch for monsters prowling in the night.
“Making a map out of this forest.”
His work didn’t stop for a single moment even when Alice inquired.
“You never been to this forest before?”
“I do, but I didn’t get the chance to explore the entire forest to make a proper map.”
He handed the completed map to her, thinking it would be best for her to know the forest’s topography and locations, and informed her of their current location. The map covered the areas he had just explored.
Alice and the others found a few maps from the guild’s Magic Library, but everyone had the same idea. They decided to create their maps of locations they visited even if using those maps provides an advantage.
After looking at it for a while, she had fully grasped the entire layout of the forest.
I find it hard to believe that he managed to cover this much…
She returned the map to Jayce.
“Any progress on the runes for Aiden?”
Jayce had been working on a rune that allows Aiden to read.
“I’m close. I needed to test out a few more things. If they don’t work, I will have to put this experiment on hold.”
“Can I try it?”
With her request, a notebook appeared in his hand. Within their guild, so far, Alice and Jayce were the only ones who could read runes. Alice had taken an interest in runes the moment she saw how they function. During their study at Adventurer Academy, Jayce was surprised at her request for runecrafting lessons from him.
Runecrafting was relatively new to everyone and only a handful of adventurers, according to Jayce, were at a decent standard.
She removed those thoughts out of the way and returned her attention to the runes before her. As she read through the runes while imbuing her mana, she could hear a voice coming from the runes, speaking with the sentence she found at the bottom of the page. After a few more tests, she now understood the issue.
“It does work, but…”
She explained her thoughts about it. The runes he had created worked on only one specific sentence on the same page as the runes instead of throughout the book and the voice was faint.
“That’s what I had in mind as well,” he responded, receiving his notebook back from Alice and resume his work on the runes.
“Don’t you think it’s odd that there were no monsters at this hour?”
Even if the monsters spotted from Nora’s spirit earlier, there was no guarantee they are safe in the edge of the woods. The forest was vast, and many things can happen at a moment’s notice.
“No. We will be fine.”
They continued their idle conversation until their shift ended.
Meanwhile, somewhere far in the forest, monsters’ limbs were hanging onto thin blood-soaked threads. Blood slowly trickled from thin lines and fell to the soil, leaving no monsters who attempt to go their way unharmed.