Chapter 18:

Chapter 18 – Blackwood Forest

OmniGrim: Reincarnation with an Omniscient Grimoire

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

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

Misha took the lead, and we followed her closely. Shelly closed off the group in the rear.

I took a look around the trees bracing myself for a monster attack any moment as if I were walking through high grass. Good thing random encounters weren’t a thing in real life.

I noticed birds flying from tree to tree, until one in particular caught my eye: Its behavior seemed unlike the other birds. It didn’t chirp, its movements appeared to be very stiff, and it seemed to stay close to us, even as we went deeper into the forest. Its completely white body made it stand out among the others.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

“Um, what exactly is he?” I asked.

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

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


“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.”

“Yeah, my sister was also incredibly skilled with magic, but it wasn’t like she just knocked it up out of nowhere. It took her a long time to complete and Al here is the only one she ever made actually.”

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

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

“Since my sister‘s passing Al’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?”

“That’s actually been an ongoing debate for a couple of decades now,” Shelly brought up. “Summons follow every command their creators give them, but they 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.”

She finished her lengthy explanation with an unconcerned shrug.

“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.

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

“Actually, he sometimes does follow my command. 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?”

“That’s an idea,” Raynard responded.

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

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 waiting for him to return. It took him some time, but man this forest was way bigger than I originally imagined.

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.

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

The bird flew off again.

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

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.

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

God maybe I should learn some more spells.

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

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

Tempest wolves, well doesn’t that sound great?

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

Wait a minute ...

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

“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.”

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

“Well, it’s not like you’d benefit from snitching on me, right?”

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

I shook her statement off and faced the other way.

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

[Name: >>Tempest Wolves<<]

[Race: >>Monster<<]

[Element: >>Wind<<]

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

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

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

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

[>>Recommended spell:<<]


That ... was a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[>>Depending on the user‘s ability the spell can cause great damage on the caster’s surroundings.<<]

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

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

“Um .... I guess?” Misha tilted her head and looked at me in confusion.

Aurelia nudged me from the side and whispered: “You should try not to talk to yourself too much.”

Only then did I understand Misha’s reaction and had to resist facepalming myself.

“Ugh, that was that stupid Grimoire,” I whispered back.

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

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

We quickly caught up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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.”

“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.”

[>>Information added.<<]

Information added? What’s that supposed to mean? I thought you possessed nigh infinite knowledge?, I thought in a mocking manner. At least I hoped it sounded mocking.

That Grimoire probably had no idea.

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

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

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

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

I realized that was probably the first time I was actually in a forest. Like, in real life, not in a video game.

I lived in the city for most of my life.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.)

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.

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

“What are they doing?” Aurelia asked.

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

“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.”

“What exactly is this gate?” I asked.

“I think this gate might be connected to our village. You know, all the buildings in our town are connected through tunnels underground. 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.

“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.”

“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.

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

“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.

“Thanks,” I said.

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

“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.”

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

“I think we should be able to handle them on our own with the distraction,” Aurelia replied.

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

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

Aurelia nodded in confirmation.

“Okay then boys, go.”

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 too short for it to make any difference.

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.

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.

Using Gale was 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, thanks to Aurelia it wasn’t my first try at concentrating mana, or else I would mess up. I focused until I felt a tingling on both my palms and finally, I clasped them together.

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.

The one that was busy scratching the doors surface was first pressed against the object of its 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 about to speed towards us, crashed against a tree on the edge of the clearing.

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

“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.

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

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.

The middle one though wasn’t as easy. After rolling around on its back for a bit, it finally managed to get up on its feet and immediately attacked the first thing that caught its 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.

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

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 didn’t seem to hinder it.

It sprouted its claws and aimed for me.

I reflexively held up my arms in front of my face and stumbled backward.

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.

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

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 breathe.

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

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

That would be a stupid way to die! Like, bleeding to death from getting pricked by a needle!

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.

“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.

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

“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.

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

I remained silent but was definitely blushing.

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

“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 too much effort, eheh.”

“Their mana?”

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

I was thankful for a moment that no-one questioned my stupid questions anymore.

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

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

“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.

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

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

It really was for the best.

“Don’t worry we’ve got this.”

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

The gate was a lot taller than 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.

“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?”

“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.

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.

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

When we returned to Aurelia, Raynard and Shelly, who watched everything from afar, joined us. Alabaster also sat on Misha’s shoulder.

“Anything?” The princess asked.

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

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

“So, we basically came here for nothing?”

“Sorry, everyone.”

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

“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.

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

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

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’ll find anything useful in here except more monsters.”

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

Dave Mania