Chapter 19:

Chapter 18 – Blackwood Forest

Reincarnated with an omniscient grimoire

We entered the forest through the same spot where there was the fire the other day. Some of the trees were still charred and I wondered whether anyone would ever bother to clear them away.Bookmark here

There was no real path leading into the forest, probably because no-one was supposed to enter it on a regular basis.Bookmark here

Misha took the lead and we followed her close behind, with Shelly closing off the group in the rear.Bookmark here

I took a look around the trees bracing myself for a monster attack any moment. I noticed birds flying from tree to tree, until one in particular caught my eye: It’s behavior seemed unlike the other birds. It didn’t chirp, its movements appeared to be very stiff, and it seemed to always be near us, even as we went deeper into the forest. Its completely white body made it stand out among the others.Bookmark here

After a while I decided to be annoyed by it and point it out.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, am I the only one noticing this sketchy white bird following us?”Bookmark here

Misha who was in the front turned around and exclaimed, “that’s Al!” before holding out her hand and calling out to the bird again.Bookmark here

The bird landed on her arm and I noticed that this bird wasn’t covered in feathers at all. In fact it didn’t seem to be made out of flesh at all.Bookmark here

“Everyone, meet Alabaster, or Al for short.”Bookmark here

The bird of course didn’t say anything – it didn’t move at all, actually – but I imagined him saying “konnichi wa” to cast off that eerie aura emanating from him.Bookmark here

“Um, what exactly is he?” I asked.Bookmark here

“He is a summon my sister created with earth magic,” Misha explained.Bookmark here

“Your sister created it?” Shelly exclaimed in surprise.Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“Wow, she must have been awfully talented at magic.” She scratched her head with a bewildered expression. “Creating summons is so incredibly hard, it got removed from the curriculum, when I was still at the academy, because most students would fail the course.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, my sister was also incredibly good at magic, but it wasn’t like she just knocked it up out of nowhere. There were a lot of failure’s and Al here is the only one she ever made actually.”Bookmark here

“And she learned all that from the pastor?”, Aurelia questioned.Bookmark here

“Yeah, he also must be incredibly talented,” Raynard said.Bookmark here

“Since my sisters passing he’s just been flying around aimlessly. I feel sad for him, but at the same time he doesn’t have a conscience or anything, does he?”Bookmark here

“That’s actually been an ongoing debate for a couple of decades now,” Shelly brought up. “Summons follow every command their creator gives them, but are able to make own decisions, if the request allows or requires it. Also they usually take the shape of animals and since they are made of magic some have argued we should actually classify them as monsters. But in my opinion since they are man-made they can’t really be compared to naturally occurring species.”Bookmark here

She finished of her lengthy explanation with an unconcerned shrug.Bookmark here

“So now that his creator is dead, he doesn’t have any command to obey and is just ... minding his own business, right?” I figured.Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s what most summons do in that case,” Shelly replied.Bookmark here

“Actually, he sometimes does obey my commands. Sasha used him to observe from afar through his point of view. I can’t do that, because obviously I’m not connected to him, but I could still try to tell him to scout the region for anything unusual?”Bookmark here

“That’s an idea,” Raynard responded.Bookmark here

“Okay, um, first Alabaster: Go and search for any corpses I guess?”Bookmark here

With that Alabaster took off with incredibly heavy flaps. I wondered how a bird made of stone could fly at all. We decided to slowly go on while we waited for him to return. It took him some amount of time I wasn’t sure of, but man this forest was way bigger than I originally imagined.Bookmark here

He landed on Misha’s arm and shook his head. I was sort of surprised to not hear a creaking sound coming from this creature.Bookmark here

“Thanks, well then next: are there any monsters nearby?” She asked. “Just in case.”Bookmark here

The bird flew off again.Bookmark here

I prayed for there not to be any monsters, because I was basically incapable of combat.Bookmark here

I could probably defend myself using the grimoire, but so far the only spell I was able to use was a light spell. I didn’t even have a knife or any weapon at all.Bookmark here

Who thought it would be a good idea to let me wander off without any way to defend myself like that?Bookmark here

God maybe I should learn some more spells.Bookmark here

Al came back shortly after departing, landed on Misha’s arm again and nodded three times.Bookmark here

“There’s three monsters nearby. Probably tempest wolves, they are the most common kind around here.”Bookmark here

Tempest wolves, well doesn’t that sound great?Bookmark here

“Those shouldn’t be a problem, but you should still be careful,” Shelly said, again in a laid-back manner.Bookmark here

Wait a minute ...Bookmark here

“Why should we be careful?!” I exclaimed after realizing the hidden meaning behind her sentence.Bookmark here

“Well, technically I am only a supervisor,” she explained. “You should be able to handle those wolves yourselves, I only step in when necessary. Thank god Raven isn’t here with us, my report is already a mess, even without having to omit his involvement.”Bookmark here

“You know, you – a police officer – are just now talking openly about forging legal documents, right?”Bookmark here

“Well, its not like you’d benefit from snitching on me, right?”Bookmark here

“Ugh, whatever, you’re giving me a headache.”Bookmark here

I shook her statement off, and faced the other way.Bookmark here

“So, how do we proceed? Is there any viable strategies against those tempest wolves?” I asked Misha but received information from my grimoire instead.Bookmark here

[Name: >>Tempest Wolves<<]Bookmark here

[Race: >>Monster<<]Bookmark here

[Element: >>Wind<<]Bookmark here

[>>Tempest Wolves primarily can be found in forests.<<]Bookmark here

[>>They usually travel in packs of three to four which makes them dangerous to the individual even though they are among the weaker monsters.<<]Bookmark here

[>>They use wind magic to accelerate themselves to speeds no other living being could reach.<<] Bookmark here

[>>They also are capable of reading the air for orientation, similar to birds orienting themselves using the magnetic field.<<]Bookmark here

[>>Recommended spell:<<]Bookmark here

[>>Gale<<]Bookmark here

That ... was a lot.Bookmark here

I still wasn’t used to the way information was simply pumped into my brain.Bookmark here

Still, is this one spell the only way to fight against these monsters?Bookmark here

[There are a number of advanced spells that you won’t be able to use at your current level.]Bookmark here

[Also physical combat is an option but is discouraged in your case.]Bookmark here

Well, thanks for the reminder. Anyway, what does that gale spell do.Bookmark here

[>> >Gale< casts a strong gust of wind.<<] Bookmark here

[>>Depending on the users ability the spell can cause great damage on the casters surroundings.<<] Bookmark here

[>>It can also disrupt the >Tempest Wolves<’ ability to read the air and thus disorient them.<<]Bookmark here

“Then I guess, I’ll just be staying behind and casting Gale ...” I muttered.Bookmark here

“Um .... I guess?” Misha tilted her head and looked at me in confusion. I did the same not understanding her confusion.Bookmark here

Aurelia nudged me from the side and whispered: “You should try not to react to an answer before it was given.”Bookmark here

And then I understood and resisted facepalming myself.Bookmark here

“Ugh, that was that stupid grimoire,” I whispered back.Bookmark here

“I get it,” she chuckled, “just be careful.”Bookmark here

Al flew between us and directed our attention forward. The others were already going ahead.Bookmark here

We quickly caught up.Bookmark here

“Hey,” I called out, “you shouldn’t just leave us behind.”Bookmark here

“Oh, don’t worry, nothing’s gonna happen to you,” Shelly answered.Bookmark here

I had a feeling this statement was directed more at the princess than at me.Bookmark here

“That’s kind of irresponsible for a teacher ...” Aurelia said. I noticed her getting continuously more fed up with Shelly.Bookmark here

“Those Tempest Wolves are only D-Rank monsters, they really shouldn’t be a problem for the two of you.”Bookmark here

“D-Rank...?” I repeated what she said. Contrary to what I expected the grimoire did not immediately provide any information to my inquiry.Bookmark here

“Over the past couple of years we have started ranking monsters depending on how much they pose a threat to the average citizen. F-Rank is the lowest, E, D, C, B, A and then S being the highest,” she counted on her fingers. “Though our standards have shifted over the last years, as our catalogue of monsters and their abilities is still incomplete. Who knows, maybe the idea gets scrapped in a couple of years.” She scratched her head. “The governor was actually hoping to make these lists official, and the headmaster of Ataraxia wanted to help reform the curriculum using them, but at this point they are pretty much unusable, since incomplete.”Bookmark here

“Wow, I didn’t know that,” Raynard exclaimed. “I’d like to take a look at one of those lists, though. Might learn a few things from them.”Bookmark here

[>>Information added.<<]Bookmark here

Information added? What’s that supposed to mean? I thought you possessed nigh infinite knowledge?Bookmark here

I thought in a mocking manner. At least I hoped it sounded mocking.Bookmark here

That grimoire probably had no idea.Bookmark here

[A ranking system for monsters was not in use at the time of my creation.]Bookmark here

[If possible I’d like to absorb the information from those lists, to create my own ranking systems based on this society’s standards.]Bookmark here

Yeah, remind me, when we are back in Ataraxia, I’m sure Shelly can help with that.Bookmark here

“We shouldn’t take that much longer,” Misha said, as she looked very closely at her surroundings.Bookmark here

I realized that was probably the first time I was actually in a forest.Bookmark here

I lived in the city for most of my life.Bookmark here

Though, I remember the orphanage I lived at for a while was situated near a forest, we weren’t ever allowed to enter. It was on the outskirts and honestly I really liked it there. Wasn’t as glum as downtown.Bookmark here

We reached a clearing that was small enough for it to have been natural. But the shack-sized stone structure said otherwise.Bookmark here

It looked like the entrance to some sort of tomb, a heavy stone door, that was covered in weird glyphs.Bookmark here

A pack of three hounds covered in white fur stalked around the heavy entrance to whatever this was, nosing the fissures between the gate and its frame. One of them was standing on its hind paws, scratching the gray surface.Bookmark here

Our group immediately froze as soon as we spotted the monsters a couple of meters ahead.Bookmark here

I was thinking about doing something stupid, but knowing I had the highest chance of getting killed out of our group I dropped the idea. I was in all likelihood not going to be resurrected after all. (Though that still had to be proven.)Bookmark here

We stood still for what I thought was too much time alone with my thoughts until finally Misha gave us a signal to slowly back off.Bookmark here

We sneaked back a few meters and hid behind a couple of bushes.Bookmark here

“What are they doing?” Aurelia asked.Bookmark here

“Uh, wrong question,” Raynard threw in, “what are we doing?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know,” Misha hissed, “either of those. It seems they sense something from behind this gate, though it might only be an airstream, that’s irritating them.”Bookmark here

“What exactly is this gate?” I asked.Bookmark here

“I think this gate might be connected to our village. You know, all the buildings in our town are connected through tunnels under ground. Though there is a secret tunnel under the church that leads into the forest. Well, I call it secret but everyone in town knows about it, but that’s because it is an old emergency exit that was used back in the days when this area had heavy problems with a certain pack of thieves. At least that’s what I was told.Bookmark here

“As far as I know, there are other exits in other areas, but that’s the only one I know about, because I’ve stumbled upon it quite a while ago,” Misha looked towards the gate after finishing her explanation. “Anyway, we should figure out, what to do about these babies.”Bookmark here

“I could use a gale spell to distract them,” I suggested. “I’m not of much use other than that, I think.” I laughed awkwardly.Bookmark here

“You can do that?”, Misha asked and I nodded.Bookmark here

“I can shield you, so you can get a better view,” Raynard said. “I’m not more useful than that either.” Again an awkward laugh.Bookmark here

“Thanks,” I said.Bookmark here

“Good, then I think the three of us will take them down.” Misha decided and looked at Aurelia and Shelly for approval.Bookmark here

“No, I’m only stepping in, in the case of an emergency,” Shelly declined. “You four are quite capable in your disciplines, you should be able to handle it.”Bookmark here

“Okay, then only the two of us,” Misha said. “Should we attack the same wolf, or split up.”Bookmark here

“I think we should be able to handle them with the distraction,” Aurelia replied.Bookmark here

“I have a short sword, so just in case, I could come to your help,” Raynard claimed.Bookmark here

“Alright.” Misha looked at the gate again, where the wolves were still going about. “I take left you right.”Bookmark here

Aurelia nodded in confirmation.Bookmark here

“Okay then boys, go.”Bookmark here

Raynard got up ahead of me and sprinted towards the clearing. I followed behind him, though I’d have admit I could not keep up with him. But the distance was to short for it to make any difference.Bookmark here

The ears of the two wolves that were on the ground with all four of their feet twitched signaling that we were sensed, but Raynard already started chanting some sort of spell kneeling on the ground.Bookmark here

I halted behind him and tried to access the Gale spells information. Maybe it was stupid just jumping into the action like this, but I was confident I would be able to pull it off. Normally I would think that I simply had to press a button like in a game to make an attack, but it was actually much more complicated than that.Bookmark here

Using Gale was actually quite similar to Luminae the spell, that Aurelia wanted me to try out, in that I had to concentrate my mana on my palms. Thankfully I had some sort of practice at it, or else I would mess up. I concentrated until I felt a tingling on the palms of both of my hands and finally I clasped them together.Bookmark here

A strong gust of wind made the nearby trees shake and the recoil of the spell cost me my balance. I made an inelegant butt-landing, but thankfully Raynard was able to withstand. Not that it mattered because the Tempest Wolves that were just about to attack had their fair share of problems holding their own balance.Bookmark here

The one that was busy scratching the doors surface was first pressed against its object of affection, and then fell over backwards while the right one was clutching its heads with its paws as if it were having a strong headache. The left one that was just in the middle of speeding towards us was crashing against a tree on the edge of the clearing.Bookmark here

“Crap,” I heard Misha swear as she sprinted towards the left wolf that had traveled a considerable distance.Bookmark here

“Nice one Nathan!” Aurelia shouted while she approached the right wolf, lifting it into the air with an uppercut that doubled as an earth-raising spell.Bookmark here

Seems like I’ve outdone myself. I highly doubt this spell was supposed to lift foes of their feet.Bookmark here

Misha’s wolf was an easy target as it appeared quite distraught after having its attack disrupted and crashing against a tree, as was Aurelia’s. She sent it flying to buy time, and after catching up, rammed her fist into its stomach, causing it to vomit blue blood.Bookmark here

The middle one though wasn’t as easy. After rolling around on it’s back for a bit, it finally managed to get up on its feet and immediately attacked the first thing that caught his eye, which was Raynard. Luckily my Gale seemed to still disrupt its magic, as it wasn’t leaping in the same way Misha’s wolf did. Instead it sprinted towards Raynard but seemed to have a change of heart after crossing half the distance, probably noticing his spell. Bookmark here

So it jumped into the air, to late for Raynard to react properly.Bookmark here

Luckily I was already on my feet and Raynard also jumped, trying to stop the wolf midair, but only to moderate success. He only managed to grab the wolf by its hindlegs but that just seemed to help the wolf. Bookmark here

It sprouted its claws and aimed for me.Bookmark here

I reflexively hold up my arms in front of my face and stumbled backward. Bookmark here

You know, I was hoping for my grimoire to block the attack, but it was hidden in my backpack. I could feel the pull, but it wasn’t able to break free.Bookmark here

And that’s why those sharp blades cut the skin open on my forearms.Bookmark here

Some ugly sound came from within my throat, as I let myself fall on the ground where blood started tainting the green grass. Immediately I felt the temperature drop in my limbs and I struggled to breath.Bookmark here

Somewhere I could hear Raynard shouting at the girls for help, while Shelly came running towards me.Bookmark here

[If your wound doesn’t get treated you will die in approximately one hour.]Bookmark here

It took a bit for me to get a grip, but by then the last wolf also lay dead on the ground, while Shelly was patching up my wounds with some bandages she brought along in foresight and the help of Misha’s magic.Bookmark here

“Well that went great,” I groaned out somewhat sarcastically. I stood up the moment Shelly finished the bandages because that attack made so adrenalin shoot through my body I wasn’t able to stand still.Bookmark here

“Actually, your spell was a lot of help. Without that it would probably have been a harder battle,” Aurelia acknowledged.Bookmark here

“Ugh, whatever.” I was sort of bitter, even though I knew it was my fault somewhere. Still her compliment made me blush, though I wasn’t sure if my blood loss allowed for it to show. But what do I know.Bookmark here

“Hey don’t sweat it, you did great,” Raynard now also complimented me.Bookmark here

I remained silent but was definitely blushing.Bookmark here

“So, what are we gonna do about this mess?” I commented on the look of the battlefield. “Are those edible?”Bookmark here

“I mean if you want to end up dying, sure,” the princess mocked me. “I mean we could at least bottle their mana, maybe sell their fur? But that would be to much effort, eheh.”Bookmark here

“Their mana?”Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, monsters bleed mana instead of blood.”Bookmark here

I was thankful for a moment that no-one would question my weird inquiries.Bookmark here

“But we don’t happen to have any bottles to fill up now, do we?” She asked into the group.Bookmark here

Shelly, prepared as she was, fished a few bottles from her bag and gave them to Aurelia and Raynard who also offered to help.Bookmark here

“Wait do you intend to drink it just like that?!” My voice rose in surprise and I paid no attention to the burning pain in my arms.Bookmark here

“Well, it really does not taste that well, but it’s better than dying from mana loss.” She knelt on the ground next to a corpse.Bookmark here

“Okaaaaaaay...” I decided to just. Stop. Asking.Bookmark here

It really was for the best.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry we’ve got this.”Bookmark here

“Wanna take a look at the gate?” Misha offered and I concurred.Bookmark here

The gate was a lot taller then I was. A child would be able to stand on my shoulders and we would still fit through it. It allowed for at least four people to go through simultaneously.Bookmark here

“Why were those wolves ... inspecting this gate so closely?” I asked, brushing my fingers against the light scratch marks on the hard surface. I barely managed to hold myself back from sniffing just like they did. “Did they sense something?”Bookmark here

“As I said, I think it was just some air current, that was irritating them. Thing is, you can’t open the gate from this side. Or maybe you can, it might have to do something with the glyphs on the frame,” she theorized while pointing them out.Bookmark here

The glyphs that were carved into the stone almost looked like some sort of Asian or at least eastern alphabet. In my world that is. It struck me as familiar, but I couldn’t point out, what exactly it was.Bookmark here

I took one lap around the stone structure, looking for any way to enter, but to no avail.Bookmark here

When I returned to Misha, Aurelia, Raynard and Shelly, who watched everything from afar joined us. Alabaster was also sitting on Misha’s shoulder.Bookmark here

“Anything?” The princess asked.Bookmark here

“Doesn’t look like it. It won’t open from the outside,” I reported.Bookmark here

“This tunnel leads us to the church,” Misha elaborated. “But only the priest knows how to get there, and also navigating this labyrinth won’t be easy probably.”Bookmark here

“So, we basically came here for nothing?”Bookmark here

“Sorry, everyone.”Bookmark here

“I mean, we could ask the pastor to lead us through the labyrinth,” Raynard proposed.Bookmark here

“You know, the only one who has access to the labyrinth is the pastor. If anyone was hiding something in there it had to be him. And in that case he wouldn’t ask us to solve his own crime, would he?” I objected.Bookmark here

“I don’t know guys, this whole thing is simply too weird,” Aurelia said with a tired voice.Bookmark here

“I agree,” Shelly added. “Everything about this stinks, we should keep our eyes open.”Bookmark here

The police officer, and at the moment our teacher, I guess, took a look around the area and finally declared: “We should head back to the village. I doubt we find anything useful in here except more monsters.”Bookmark here

We headed back to the inn, unsure if we could call anything that happened today a success.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.