Chapter 4:

[Chapter 4: Troutbeck's Lake]

I Don't Know Much About the Outside World, so I Might as Well Work as a Beastiarian


If you were wondering whether the bed was comfortable in the inn, it was. The pillow was soft to the point that it formed into a shape that supports my neck and the bed made my body feels like I’m floating in the air. The sensation was perfect for my long travels from yesterday. Alas, that wouldn’t do as I had to get up to help resolve the Village’s Cetus problem. Bookmark here

It was indeed a problematic trial to get myself up from a soft bed like this, but thanks to the morning light sneaking into the room through the gaps of the window curtains, my body felt the need to rise. I went to clean myself up in one of the inn’s bathrooms and changed into my ensemble.Bookmark here

The uniform they gave me turned out to have magic circles crafted to keep them clean with water type spells. The process was extremely subtle, and they were continuous until it reached its completion.Bookmark here

I had pastries that I bought from last night as breakfast. Despite that it wasn’t in a freshly baked condition, the crust was decently crispy, and the fillings were potatoes, cream, a hint of cheese and fish. The essence of the fish was infused with other ingredients and made them, as a whole, filling. A cup of tea would go well with this dish, but wouldn’t do well to consume it every day for diet reasons, so once in a while is highly recommended.Bookmark here

I arrived at the same restaurant I had visited last night to meet up with Igano and his group. They just finished their breakfast and were about to take out a map to discuss the plan for today. Bookmark here

“Good morning, everyone.” Bookmark here

They returned my morning greetings with a smile. However, their expression turned stiff as we were about to get into the task at hand.Bookmark here

“As per your suggestion, we delayed our actions toward the Cetus, which we will begin today now that we know its location. Shall we begin our meeting?”Bookmark here

“Certainly.”Bookmark here

Igano unfolded and spread the map over the table. The table we were using was large enough for everyone to gather and understand the plan visually and verbally. He placed a small wooden figure that represents Cetus itself at the centre of the lake. Bookmark here

There was a waterfall that was connected to the lake, which was where we came from. Aside from that, other directions would be on the same level plane with the monster. After delegating everyone’s positions and laying out the strategies if certain conditions and situations were met, I proposed one rule that everyone had to follow no matter what happened.Bookmark here

“Whatever happens, do not kill it.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The centaurs seemed to disagree with my notion. But that was to be expected. We had a Cetus destroyed a bridge that led to the destination where I supposed to head to, so I’m was, in a sense, involved in this affair. Bookmark here

“Very well.”Bookmark here

As they were about to rebuke, Igano interjected. The other centaurs were surprised by their boss’ decision.Bookmark here

“Think about it. Sylvia's strategies tailored for everyone were meant to ensure everyone’s safety while maintaining its attention toward her. Also, the way you carry yourself wasn’t by any means a novice. Although you’re a new member of the Merchant Division, that doesn’t mean you’re an amateur in your field. The fact that you are more than willing to partake in this hunt was more than enough to prove that you aren’t an ordinary person and able to fight. Am I right?”Bookmark here

He was right. I may lack in physical training when it came to wielding a dagger and magic. Still, I had learned how to implement them from the theories and knowledge I had gained from the books I read in the library, including the confirmation I had gotten from the other magicians. Bookmark here

“You are correct. However, I had never utilized most of them in the field before.”Bookmark here

I would be lying if I wasn’t afraid to cast those spells when others were in the vicinity without accidentally causing friendly casualties. It was impressive how Igano was able to read my intentions and probably guessed my prowess in magic and skills, albeit I didn’t display much of my combat abilities. Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Igano crossed his arms and fell deep into contemplation. He did certainly agreed to my plan, and part of him seemed to be thinking of whether I should be placed in a difficult position of letting Cetus focus solely on me after hearing my response. One’s life could be removed at any moment in this world if one didn’t thread carefully, after all. Bookmark here

“Very well. We will follow your plan. However, if there is a single moment that would lead to the cost of my men’s lives and yours, we would not hesitate to intercept."Bookmark here

His conditions were tolerable, so I accepted them. I checked my dagger once more, thinking what I should do when I get there.Bookmark here

We arrived back at the lake, where the Cetus was last spotted by the fishermen just yesterday. There wasn’t a single trace that would suggest that the monster left the lake. Bookmark here

Once everyone was in position, I slowly approach the lake. I could feel everyone’s eyes focus on me and sometimes the lake, checking for any clues or movements from the target. Bookmark here

But nothing.Bookmark here

I extended my hand forward and closed my eyes, a cold snowy mountain appeared in my mind and seizing the emotions that I felt from the very image.Bookmark here

Cold air started to gather around my right hand, making the air visibly white. The other hand represents the land of the mountain. Stones began to peek out of my flesh and each of them radiated and reverberate with life. Of course, such a phenomenon didn’t inflict any painful sensation if one was the original caster of magic. Bookmark here

The theory behind that was because the mana signature aligned with the source. But that didn’t mean you couldn’t control the nature of the spells. By nature, I didn’t mean the elements of the spells. Well, that was possible, but let us leave that for later. Meaning, I could designate the intended target, but that would require a proper and calculative plan to set those spells if I wanted to. That was the main concern of using magic. Bookmark here

Once both spells are prepared, I struck my fists to the edge of the lake. The spells travelled to the centre of the lake, leaving traces of frozen water and earth behind their trails, then they stopped and went deeper into the lake. Bookmark here

The atmosphere around here was quiet for a while until the earth was shaking beneath my feet. I unsheathed my dagger and braced myself. Anticipating for something to happen while holding a weapon could be a bit nerve-wracking. Bookmark here

Suddenly part of the lake started to give way, seven metres across a new small plot of land created with the lake and the ground below as the medium. I made use of the earth as a foundation, and then the ice formed above it as a foothold.Bookmark here

And there it was.Bookmark here

Its head had the features of a tiger and a serpent-like body. There were fishes around it, but I had already designed the spell to transfer them back to the lake. At first, the monster seemed to be confused at this development as it was looking around until it saw me, holding my dagger. Bookmark here

This was the point where I had to make a decision. And that would depend on how the Cetus react to its summon. When I fell under its gaze, it reared its neck, shot forward its head and roared. That was the signal to initiate a battle.Bookmark here

The centaurs ready their weapons and spells, but they kept their distance, keeping their word to my plan. With mana coursing through my legs, I dashed forward and jumped toward the cold earth to get closer to the monster.Bookmark here

With a single roar, pillars of water rise around the lake, making their way toward me in midair. That took me off guard for a while, but enough time for me to perform a counterspell. A cold wind began to gather my left hand, and, once more, I shot my ice spells. Bookmark here

Pillars of water began to freeze under my spells and turned into a long rail of foothold. At the same time, I tried to manipulate their shapes by manipulating their properties to allow me to have multiple options.Bookmark here

“Wind, guide me to a path of freedom!”Bookmark here

Instead of implementing the wind spell on my left hand, at the back of my feet formed a small pair of wings, propelling me through the railways. Of course, I created a couple of guards at the sole of my shoes to maintain my balance and prevent me from falling. Bookmark here

It would probably have a strength of a giant for a large monster, but the lack of speed would be a problem for it to attack while it was on land physically, so that left it with the option to use magic. Bookmark here

Water formed into spears around it and launched in my direction. Fortunately, they were unable to meet their marks.Bookmark here

As I slid up higher with the ice rails, I began an incantation that I never thought would exist until just last night. Bookmark here

“Goddess of the Flowers! Hear my call! Lend me your strength to soothe your child! Through the Looking Glass.”Bookmark here

Quarts of crystals began to manifest around my dagger, extending at its blade and below the handle. The overall length was about a metre, and it shined a brilliant glimmer to the eyes of others and formed in a shape of a bow.Bookmark here

There wasn’t a single string to be seen, but that was part of its beauty and functionality. It was just like magic, it required imagination and mana to wield it, but there was one condition that had to be fulfilled by its wielder: Prayers.Bookmark here

By Prayers, I meant the user’s mindset or intentions had to be genuinely willing to help and protect the weak. However, it was a gamble. Such a spell could be seen as a blessing and a curse as well.Bookmark here

The nature of Through the Looking Glass (flower) was to ward off monsters and create a safe place for travellers. But in what way? Was it the pollens it gave off? Was it the magical properties of its glossy, transparent petals? Bookmark here

Although the crystal weapon allowed me to engage in long-range combat, I wasn’t confident with my archery skill, and I can’t cast spells when I was equipped with it. It required an absurd amount of mana and concentration to maintain its form. Another issue lay in that the magic arrow I was about to shoot had to meet a specific part of the target: the heart.Bookmark here

Based on the Index, along with the information I got my hands on when I was a librarian, there were records where people who had met goddess Antheia experienced a different sensation within themselves. Meaning the goddess had bestowed her blessing to those who she trusts and not many who would know about it once they had them identified with an Appraiser’s skill.Bookmark here

In order to activate a blessing, one must solve the riddles left behind by the casters. That was why I had to investigate further on Through Looking Glass and create an incantation that aligns with my experience with her. Everyone had a unique way of casting their blessing, and it all depended on their conversations, experience and emotions.Bookmark here

I moved my left hand to the handle and made a gesture of pulling something back until my hand was next to my left eye. Bookmark here

“Sylvia!” Bookmark here

However, there was nothing in my hand. Let alone a single projectile.Bookmark here

I could see the captain came rushing to my side from a distance away, but that wouldn’t do. There was not enough time to protect me from the water projectiles arcing their way toward me. It was impressive that the monster was able to adjust its trajectories.Bookmark here

At that very moment, I could feel something warm inside me. The feeling of imminent death was upon me. Everything seemed to be slow, and the very image of my surroundings turned grey. Bookmark here

This was the very first time I had ever felt fear. That was to be expected. I lived in the Capital for most of my life under the protection of the city guards and peace treaty between most races.Bookmark here

No, this isn’t it. There were many things left for me to explore and learn. I won’t let this go on.Bookmark here

I braced myself and opened my left hand even though I didn’t hold anything that would deem as a weapon. No reaction. The oncoming projectiles proceeded their path, and when they reached just as close as to my body, they abruptly came to a halt.Bookmark here

Magic circles appeared between my body and the spears, turning the spears into beautiful pieces of transparent crystalline glass and burst into tiny shards of glittering snow.Bookmark here

Your Prayers shall be received.Bookmark here

The crystal dust fell onto the monster and, gradually, ice began to wrap around its limbs, making its way up to the base of its neck. Bookmark here

It tried to shake off its binds, but nothing was working for it. Its glare became more intense ever since we began our battle, but there was a hint of resignation behind that gaze. Bookmark here

I tried my bow once more. This time, I could feel an object in my left hand, leaning to my bow’s handle. It was difficult to describe its shape due to its warped presence. It could be anything at this point. Either way, I released my weapon when its heart was within my aim. Bookmark here

When it met its mark, the monster before me fell into a deep sleep. Bookmark here

After the battle with the Cetus came to an end, the centaurs and fishermen worked together to transfer it to a large transport. The magic that struck its heart was a non-lethal spell from Through the Looking Glass. During the battle, I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. Sure, it did destroy the bridge. But the fact that it was around the swamp and swam all the way to this lake, instead of in the ocean. That alone was unjust to kill it as there was not a single casualty from this incident. Bookmark here

As for the transportation, Igano had given his word to make it happen. After all, I had taken it down by myself, and that was an intentional move not to give him any ground to kill it. Not only that, the spell that was within its heart made its target unable to cast any spell unless a particular condition was met. That was if it had been released back to the ocean. Bookmark here

“Are you sure about this? That monster just attacked you.”Bookmark here

Igano voiced out his worries after checking the ropes that secured the serpent to the large carriage. Bookmark here

“I’m sure.”Bookmark here

I nodded with a smile to reassured him that I would not change my mind. Bookmark here

The bridge can be rebuilt, and the Cetus should be transported to the ocean so that it could return its home. I had also requested the village chief to investigate the lake’s condition to create a plan to ensure the fishing season is possible this year.Bookmark here

“I wonder what does a Cetus meat tastes like.”Bookmark here

One of the centaurs murmured as he looked at it from up close. Bookmark here

“You idiot! We’re not the ones who defeated it. We don’t have the right to eat it!”Bookmark here

His comrade punched the back of his head, reminding him of his manners and their traditions.Bookmark here

It was also part of the centaur’s code of arms that the monsters they defeated belonged to their party and split accordingly. Traditions and cultures of other races were best to know by one so that one could tread carefully when it comes to contracts and other future endeavours.Bookmark here

I chuckled at the sight of that moment. Bookmark here

“Oh, miss. You finally laugh!”Bookmark here

“Yeah! We always thought you are a serious type of person when it comes to working.”Bookmark here

The two young warriors gave their thoughts about me during our collaboration on this problem. Bookmark here

“Hey, you two.” Bookmark here

A familiar deep voice came from behind them.Bookmark here

At that, the two turned pale and stiffly looked behind, the captain’s towering body was overwhelming them, and his gaze was intimidating enough that it makes you want to shrink yourself.Bookmark here

“Get back there and start pushing! That thing ain’t going to move!”Bookmark here

“Yessssss, sirrrrrrrrrrr!”Bookmark here

They returned to their group immediately and began their work.Bookmark here

“On behalf of my team, my apologies for being rude, Sylvia.” The captain placed a hand to his heart and bowed. “The new recruits can be too much for us sometimes.”Bookmark here

“That is fine, Igano. They are right, after all. I do tend to focus on my job as a Beatiarian and tried to find an answer that benefits everyone.”Bookmark here

“I understand. We will be off then. Oh, also, I forgot to give you this.”Bookmark here

He took out a card from his pocket and presented it to me. It was more of a professional identity card. Not the one that you could simply give it away to anyone, but more of a way to give your permission to contact them through magic.Bookmark here

“Contact me if there are any problems or assistance you need when it comes to monsters. My men and I will do our best to get there as soon as we can.”Bookmark here

“Thank you very much, Igano.” Bookmark here

We bowed to each other and went our separate way.Bookmark here

As I was walking toward the pier, where the village chief had promised me that his fishermen would help me traverse across the river to another village. Bookmark here

They also served a few of their local delicacies as a reward. The flesh of the fish was incredibly soft and perfectly cooked to the point that a single touch with a utensil will break them into pieces and melts in my mouth.Bookmark here

The sauces that went with it covered sweet, savoury, sour and a hint of bitterness. Of course, I had to finish everything to show my gratitude toward their hospitality during this journey. The village may be small, but their prosperity and pride in their fishing industry were not to be looked down upon.Bookmark here

Of course, I wrote a report about this village to improve their tourism to the Merchant and Tourism Divisions.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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