Don't Worry, We Have the Best Supporter in Our Team
Last night went without any problem. Alice, Irene and Aiden found this odd, but they considered this as a lucky opportunity.
During Nora’s shift, Jayce didn’t have to worry about obtaining loots from the monsters and retrieving his threads without being seen by others. His trap covered a reasonable distance away from their camp and aligned with the monsters' potential routes.
“Jayce, do you always wake up that early?”
“Sometimes. I have to check around the forest before we leave.”
He steadied his reins as one of the carriage’s wheels stumbled upon a hole in a road. Alice fell to his lap.
“Are you all right?” he whispered.
She quickly recovered herself and kept her back straight. Eyes wandered about the surroundings. She tilted her witch hat, hiding her embarrassment from Jayce.
“Sorry about that. I should have been cautious about the road.”
“N-no. It wasn’t your fault at all,” she raised both of her hands defensively.
“If you say so. We have one more day to reach our destination.”
“I read about the Gryphon from your library. They never mentioned anything regarding gryphons going rampage. They were known to be wise, and I find it hard to believe such cases do exist like now.”
“Let us hope that we can get some answers from our client regarding this quest.”
Far ahead into the distance, multiple clouds of smoke rose in the sky.
Jayce whipped his reins, signalling the horses to make haste.
As they made their way through the road, women and children ran past us. Some watched them with wide eyes and others with confused looks. Their reaction didn’t matter to them.
It was customary for villagers to evacuate when the scale of danger reached that point. Some of them fell into despair, and others tried to prevent their friends from returning to the village.
They arrived at the village’s plaza. Men were passing out buckets of water to others to extinguish the flames that were burning their houses. The person who was giving orders seemed to be the Village Chief.
“What happened?” asked Alice after she hopped down from the carriage.
“A Gryphon attacked our village not too long ago. We need your help to lure it outside of the town to the East. My men and I will douse the fires.”
The young adventurers nodded. Jayce parked the carriage at the southwest of the village’s edge. They immediately dismounted from their carriage, and Alice gave each of them a task.
“Aiden, I need you to rescue the people who are still trapped in every building that caught fire. Jayce and Nora distract the Gryphon. Irene, treat the injured while I do something about the fire.”
They gave their affirmation of her orders and moved out.
She began her incantation and aimed her staff at the burning buildings the villagers were going to enter. “O goddess of the wrymist, Sibyl, lend me your strength to lay rest to the eternal flames that wreak havoc of our world!”
Multiple magic circles emitting bluish glow appeared around the buildings, and water poured out as if there was a waterfall there.
When the buildings became safer to walk into, Aiden and the villagers began to move into the buildings to save them.
Alice hadn’t master controlling this spell, but Jayce did point out this approach was suitable for a reasonable scale such as this. During their training, Jayce and the others realised that Alice had a larger mana capacity than an average magician class adventurer. Nora speculated that her mana capacity could be as close as the S-rank magicians, except herself, since she was a witch, to begin with.
“That’s everyone. Let’s move on to—”
Sensing something above them, Jayce closed the distance between Alice and himself almost immediately. On the way, he unsheathed his sword with his right hand, imbuing mana into the hardening enchantment, and swung upward as hard as he could.
His sword met with a windblast coming from above. When the shockwave subsides, he could feel his right arm growing numb.
Before the Gryphon launch another attack, a myriad of spells landed on its side. Her eyes searched for where the magic came from.
Nora was standing atop of a burned building away from here. It was a wonder how the structure was somewhat intact as most of the foundations were almost at their end. She may not be able to see it, but she could feel the cold gaze coming from Nora’s eyes as she directed it at the Gryphon, reminding it of what would happen if it didn’t focus its attention toward her.
As Alice had expected, the Gryphon gave chase toward Nora. That was what she had hoped to happen, but she didn’t think Nora could fight against the gryphon by herself. And the adventurer next to her was raring to go.
She cast a healing spell on him before the shockwave damages him more than it should have been. After the healing was completed, her eyes looked up in the sky. There was a black silhouette hovering and looking down at them. It had a body of a lion, the head of an eagle and a pair of wings.
The sensation still lingers, but he moved to intercept the gryphon’s track. Mana traced through his legs, preparing himself for a midair battle. He abruptly stopped his run, letting the momentum build up in his legs, and when he felt the pressure reached its peak, he jumped.
While Jayce was on his way to his target, Alice had already given him a buff spell to further improve his agility and strength.
“Thief Skill: Aerial Slash!”
When he reached the highest point, he swung his blades at its torso, using the momentum from his swings to maintain his verticality. His arms were barely visible from where she stood.
That wasn’t perfect by itself. Every offence would leave at least an opening. That was why it was Alice and Nora’s job to cover Jayce’s blindspot. From afar, with the help of her spirits, Nora had prepared a few non-lethal spells in advance.
Alice could sense a dense pack of mana gathered in her direction, and that was all she needed to confirm where she should place her attention at. Her eyes searched for her friends in the village.
Aiden and Irene just finished gathering and mending the villagers’ wounds. The village defenders formed a circle around their people to protect them.
Blood wolves and forest bats slowly appeared from the forest, eyeing the villagers. They bared their fangs. Saliva dripped from their mouths. The light in their eyes held nothing but hunger and blood.
“Aiden, Irene, can you handle it?” asked Alice. Her eyes were calm, calculating every possible outcome and solution to these situations.
“We will need long-range support for this. There’s too many of them,” said Irene, scanning the direction where the monsters had come from.
Alice cast buff spells to everyone without a moment to waste, increasing their agility and power, both physical and magical abilities. She then produced medium-scale compound magic.
The initial objective was to get all the villagers to safety, and she intended to keep it a top priority. Alice was the kind of person who would think of a plan that would benefit everyone, to a certain extent, and this was the best option she could consider of.
She raised her staff against the forest monsters. Nora gestured one of her spirits to defend the villagers and began her magic to unleash her attack spells at the gryphon. Jayce combined his scimitars into a bow, aimed the gryphon while keeping an eye at the villagers.
“Compound Magic: Snow Drop.”
Her words held an icy tone. Her cold gaze pierced through the monsters’ souls.
It wasn’t that she had anything against the monsters. It was for her to bring the full potential of Snow Drop. Imagination, will and mana were essential factors to the strength of magic.
Snow Drop: a medium-scale area of effect magic that slows down anyone who is within the zone. It did a low amount of damage compared to her Frost Spears, and it was meant to be support magic instead of an offensive magic spell. To give a general idea, it required three mana potions that Alice could create with alchemy.
The air around the monsters gradually became visibly white and sunk to the ground beneath them, sending chills down to their legs. Villagers could see the presence of snow started to accumulate around the monsters. Their movements slackened and, before they realized it, the cold slowly crept to their nerves, giving prickling pains throughout their joints and muscles. Every move they attempt caused nothing but pain as if their body went through frostbites.
Once Snow Drop was deployed to the field, Irene switched out her regular arrows with piercing arrows. Her eyes focused on every target that was within her field of vision as she nocked her bow. When she aimed her arrow at one of the targets, she signalled to Aiden, who had just finished applying paralysis coating to his blade gauntlets.
The bow sang, and the arrow struck true to their target’s face. Aiden pushed forward, blades ready to hit anything that came within his range of hearing. The forest bats screamed at Aiden, causing him to lose track of his surrounding, and the blood wolves were converging to his position in unison, even if Snow Drop did slow down their speed.
Aiden couldn’t hear properly, but…
Multiple forest bats screeched in agony. Alice had taken them down with her Frost Spears thanks to the effects of Snow Drop.
When their screams alleviated, Aiden regained his sense of surroundings. Five blood wolves were about to swing their claws at him. The distance between them was close enough that a human, let alone an adventurer, couldn’t dodge it unscathed. But this distance was more than enough for Aiden to react.
He activated his blade gauntlets with a slight movement of his hand. The blade protruded out of his gauntlet with such speed and stabbed a blood wolf from both sides. The blood wolves that fell prey to his blades had their movements restricted due to his paralysis concoction.
He knew he didn’t have time to prepare for his next attack. By the time the other blood wolves’ claws were about to reach for Aiden’s chest, he disengaged his blade gauntlets crouched low and used his hands to twist his body to dodge them and moved around them.
In terms of team fights, Irene and Aiden were the best in their guild. Despite both Alice and Jayce being able to adapt to specific roles with anyone who teamed up, they couldn’t execute their plans as smooth as theirs. It couldn’t be helped. They had trained together ever since they were kids.
Alice returned her attention to the gryphon after firing a few more Frost Spears toward blood wolves and forest bats.
“Let thy flames burn you to cinders: Fire Stream!” shouted Alice as she unleashed a volley of fireballs in the sky.
Fire Stream was one of the advanced fire spells Nora had taught during their time at Adventurer Academy. Its mana requirement was a quarter more than Frost Spear and possessed more power. But in exchange for power, this spell sacrificed accuracy and precision.
Alice knew most of the spells wouldn’t land on the gryphon. She hoped this spell would at least scare the gryphon off. If the gryphon did fell, she would mend its injuries just like how she did with the chimaera that Jayce and herself had defeated.
At Alice’s spell, Jayce and Nora also unleashed their magic arrows and spells at it. When the spells landed on the gryphon, an explosion occurred, and smoke formed around it. Thinking the gryphon might fly out of the smoke, Alice called upon a few Frost Spears.
The gryphon that had once hovered at that exact spot was no longer there when the smoke subsided.
I think we went overboard on this one, thought Alice. She turned her gaze at Jayce and Nora.
Jayce and Nora, on the other hand, narrowed their eyes. Weapons were still in hand, and spirits seemed to be ready for their master’s command.
“It’s not over,” muttered Jayce as he readied another magic arrow to his bow, his eyes darted around the sky, then to their surrounding forest.
Hearing that, she looked around their surroundings in search of the gryphon. The gryphon was nowhere to be seen. Jayce and Nora kept their guard. As time passed, they began to relax.
“It flees?” asked Alice, lowering her staff and the Frost Spears sublimated in the air.
“I don’t sense its presence, so we’re in the clear,” said Jayce, loosening the bowstring and the magic arrow melted in the air. He separated his bow back to his usual swords then sheathed them.
“Let’s mend the wounded. We might have to stay in this village,” said Nora, who had whispered a few words to one of her spirits. She was probably sending her spirit out to their surroundings for monsters.
They looked back at the village. Most of the buildings were burnt badly, but they were not obliterated, so it was possible to repair them by replacing the damaged parts. At the far end of the village, Irene was waving at them.
They were at the village’s emergency shelter, providing medical treatment to the villagers. Most of the villagers were suffering minor burns, but a handful of them was in critical conditions, requiring both magic and potions to make up for it.
Irene made sure to keep the villagers still when Alice was casting healing spells, applying medicinal herbs, pouring potions into their mouths. Nora and Jayce healed other villagers with health potions as well. Health potions weren’t challenging to produce as the ingredients required to create one were abundant in the market, mainly green herbs and other ingredients to increase their potency.
During the chaos, Aiden carried the villagers to the shelter while Irene provided cover. For now, he sat on the shelter’s roof, relying on his keen sense of hearing for any nearby monsters. All he heard were cries of pain as he carried on his task. Their cries weren’t as bad as the forest bats, so he could still listen for enemies. He checked his blade gauntlets’ mechanism. They still functioned normally, and the paralysis coating that was applied to his blades were faint. After all, he restricted their movements with every strike he delivered, and Irene took them out instantly.
As he surveyed the area with his ears, he heard a movement coming up behind him. Irene came to check on Aiden and sat next to him. There was not a point of access to the roof. Aiden and Irene got up through climbing alone. They developed this skill through strict training from Aiden’s parents.
“Phew. That was a lot of work to mend those villagers.” Irene wiped the sweats from her forehead with her right arm and continued. “Any monsters around us?”
“No.” He answered curtly, but his tone seemed to suggest otherwise.
“What’s the matter, Aiden? Did you get yourself scratched from the blood wolves as you try to hug them?” She suddenly hugged him, teasing him as if she was his big sister.
“Shut up,” said Aiden as he pushed Irene away. “Even if I got hit by monsters, we’re still protected by the magic gloves.”
When they enrolled on the academy and joined the Liberators, Jayce had made a few adjustments to their magic gloves, reducing mana consumption from the bearer by twenty per cent, and they were able to store another fifteen items.
“Awww. You don’t have to be shy.” Irene continued with her offence.
“You—We need to regroup to the others. The head villager seemed to be ready to talk.”
Before Aiden could finish his sentence, he noticed the head villager was making his way to the first floor of the building they sat.
When the head villager recovered from the attack, he summoned the young adventurers to the first floor of the shelter to thank them for saving their lives and their village. Jayce, who was their guild leader, responded to his thanks with a nod. He then offered their assistance with the repairs before they resumed their journey.
Surprised, the head villager accepted his offer with a kind smile.
Alice had a faint idea of why Jayce presented such an offer to the table, even though they had a quest to fulfil. The first thing she noticed was the fact that houses were set on fire. Normally, buildings built with flammable materials such as wood nowadays were protected against fire with spells.
Another issue was the sudden appearance of monsters during their fight with the gryphon. That meant that during the restoration of the village, they had to protect the villagers from monsters while they restore the village’s barrier spell.
Every village and the Capital had its barrier system, and it involved setting up magic circles and placing trinkets at crucial points within magic circles. The magic circles were created through blacksmithing as they were installed underground without compromised their functionality by monsters. Of course, they were made of specific materials to withstand corrosions and damages from external factors.
“You don’t have to tell us the layout of your village’s magic circle,” said Jayce as he raised his hand to stop what the head villager was about to say.
From that, Alice knew what he was intended to do: they had to get this done without compromising the villagers’ safety. Another problem lay in the fact that they had to search around the village to fix the barrier’s magic circle, and information such as the layout of its magic circle was every village’s secret.
The head villager was at a loss of words, thinking that they weren’t ordinary adventurers at this age. He cleared his throat and brought his rational mind back on track.
“Again, you have my thanks.”
The discussion with the head villager ended, Alice’s company went out of the emergency shelter. On their way, Alice and Jayce discussed their own, talking about who to assign to specific tasks. It didn’t take long to talk it out, both had similar yet different ideas, and they reached better conclusions.
Alice and Nora’s task were to search for and repair the village’s barrier system. Irene and Aiden would help fix the houses and inns. Jayce and Noir’s objective were to clear out the monsters around the town. Once their homes were repaired, Jayce would craft runes to each house instead of spells. He had confirmed with Nora that runes were more beneficial than spells as they lasted longer and requires less mana of their tenants.
Once everyone received their task, they went their separate ways. Of course, any monsters they encountered during their task were taken down if they were deemed a threat to villagers. And some monsters can be used as provisions for the villagers or even sell their skins to travelling merchants.
“I understand that we’re supposed to fix this magic circle without knowing their exact locations, but what sort of clues do we need to find?” asked Alice while walking alongside Nora through the village.
“The key to solving this issue is to communicate with the village itself,” answered Nora, raising a pointing finger as if she was giving a private lesson to Alice.
“Communicate?” she repeated and pondered further.
“Yes. To most people and adventurers, non-living things are, as you already know, not alive. But to magicians-class adventurers like us, that was not the case.” Nora turned her gaze toward Alice. “Everything in this world possesses a soul. Be it a table, a pebble, air or even dirt.
In response to Nora’s gaze, Alice nodded, gesturing her to continue.
“I’m sure you have used Mana Vision, haven’t you?”
“I do,” she answered briefly, waiting for her following words.
“Mana Vision allowed casters or their targets to perceive the mana flow of anything present in this world; it could be a living thing or an object.”
“So, you’re saying I have to focus on the village’s mana alone to track down the trinkets and magic circles?”
“Exactly,” said Nora with a smile.
She is quick on the uptake, thought Nora.
Ever since Nora first met with Alice, she expected her to be good as Jayce introduced her, but she didn’t expect her to be this good. Sure, she was an amateur adventurer, to begin with, but the rate at which she gained knowledge and practical skills during her time at the Academy was abnormal.
Before she realized it, she was in deep thought and walked ahead of Alice slightly further. Alice stopped in front of an inn’s entrance by the main walkway.
“Yes?” asked Nora in return.
“Wouldn’t it better to tune our Mana Vision in a safe place?”
She got a lot more to learn, thought Nora as she held back giggles.
They booked two rooms from the innkeeper for tonight—one room for the girls and the other for the boys. Nora sat on one of the beds, supervising Alice, who sat in a chair with her eyes closed.
Before entering the room they had rented, Nora had already sent out a few of her spirits to watch over the village. Now, she was careful not to move a single muscle so much as to make the slightest move that could disrupt Alice’s focus. Nora herself had activated Mana Vision about the same time as Alice’s, and she already found the village’s mana.
It wasn’t that she wanted to do this by herself. She had to make sure Alice was focusing on the right source. Seeing how Alice was struggling to tune her Mana Vision reminded her of her time as an apprentice.
When did I first learn Mana Vision?
Looking back at her past made her both happy and sad at the same time. Either way, all she could do was focus on the present and the future of her students and herself. Judging by Alice’s concentration, she was about to locate their source.
Based on the hints Nora had told her earlier, Alice had in mind tuning her Mana Vision according to the Village’s mana. She could cast spells during battle and communication with her party, but besides, this was her first time applying such a concept to Mana Vision, and she needed somewhere quiet to concentrate.
When she adjusted her Mana Vision, she could see all kinds of mana flowing around her. Physical objects and obstructions such as walls, roofs, floors held no meaning to mana, but the silence was what she needed to ignore the mana flows that weren’t part of her search. The process worked to examine the mana quality as if they were someone else’s fingerprints and identify their source. It was tedious at first, but Alice grew accustomed to the process after a few attempts until…
“I got it,” said Alice as she opened her eyes slowly. With her Mana Vision remained active, she could see distinct red mana flowing about.
She described the mana that belonged to the Village’s barrier system. In response to her description, she nodded, affirming her answer, and they made their way to its location.
“The mana came from here,” said Alice, looking down at a small peculiar flower in the middle of the forest.
“That’s right,” said Nora as she leaned to a nearby tree and crossed her arms. “What else?”
She scanned her surroundings. Even though they were in the middle of the forest, five different trees were surrounding this flower. She went over and examined each tree. By the time she lay a hand on them, a magic circle had appeared in front of her.
Enchantment could be applied either through spells or runes. In this case, it was spell-type enchantment. She read the magic circle’s inscription, checking its condition. Once she read the trees’ enchantment’s, she found nothing wrong with their spells. All that left was…
She turned her gaze toward the flower. Along their way to their designated location, Nora had mentioned that the trinket was the last one to be checked due to its sensitivity. Trinkets were used as a catalyst for the magic circles that were positioned around the village’s perimeter. As for the trees they had found earlier, they served as a defensive spell to ward off monsters that attempt to walk into their territory.
“So how do we tune this trinket?” asked Alice, who wouldn’t dare to touch such a delicate flower.
“The trinket before them was a plant type, and to fix it was to cast a healing spell on it as it was alive, to begin with. If it wasn’t a plant but instead an object such as a crafted statue, they had to examine the runes or spells that were cast on them by their original owners.”
“Wouldn’t it be best to check the magic circle from the plant itself?” asked Alice, who activated her Mana Vision once more to check the flower’s condition. The mana flowing out from the flower was gradually fainting.
“We could, but the plants used as trinkets don’t reveal their magic circles to anyone, but their owners, unless the owners created a spell that allows specific people to read them.”
Alice nodded to Nora explanation. That couldn’t be helped if that was the case. Alice took a few steps back from the flower, raised her staff and cast a healing spell on the flower. She kept her Mana Vision active as she was healing the delicate flower.
As time passed, she could see the mana flowing out from the flower suddenly shrouded the flower as if it was protecting itself. It then turned into a crystal and shattered only to reveal a new form of a flower.
It had the shape of a lily flower, but the flower was made of crystals, giving out a faint pulse of dark green glow.
“Is it done?” asked Alice.
“Yeap. That will do,” responded Nora. “Did you see any of the village’s mana?”
She checked her surroundings with Mana Vision. The mana flow she had seen earlier was now gone. But what matters the most was that was the barrier active?
“Yes, but is the barrier active?”
“If you don’t perceive any mana flow from the village’s barrier system, it means they were active. Shall we head back?”
As they were making their way back to the village, she heard a faint voice behind her. She suddenly looked back behind over her shoulder, only to find there was no one there.
“Something the matter?”
“It’s nothing,” said Alice as she moved forward.
A few days during their stay at the village, they had repaired the damages on the settlements and the village’s barrier system.