Chapter 19:

Bandits and GateDown

Atk 0 Crit All ~My attack stat is negligible, so I can't help but rely on critical hits to succeed!~

CLASHHH!Bookmark here

A heavy sword strike was intercepted by a small knife. At a glance, one might wonder why someone would be attacking a chef in the middle of the woods, especially one armed only with a simple chef knife. The man in question was furiously trying to land a deadly blow as the chef calmly blocked each attack looking for an opening. The attacker was getting progressively more agitated that his prey was doing nothing but blocking and dodging. Someone with the occupation of a chef shouldn't have been giving him so much trouble. Yet, a number of his teammates, fellow bandits, were lying unconscious on the ground around them.Bookmark here

The bandit couldn't figure out what had happened. They were led to believe that it would’ve been a straight forward robbery, as their targets were a single, newbie magic knight accompanied by her servant. However, not only had the chef joined in on the defense, but he had taken out several of his guys with some mysterious move. None of the guys had been cut as there wasn't a single drop of blood on the ground, but they had all been knocked cold with no signs of waking up soon. The female knight was also knocking people out, but with obvious blows that flung the men several feet away. In contrast, the men that had been taken out around him suddenly crumpled to the ground as if their strings had been cut. What started out as an advantage in terms of numbers slowly dwindled as he realized that they may, in fact, have picked on the wrong people.Bookmark here

"Shit! Whadda hell is goin' on?" The bandit kept attacking without pause as he saw no signs of the chef swinging back with his knife. "What is he tryin' to pull?"Bookmark here

As his swings started getting slower and sloppier, the chef suddenly dodged backwards. The bandit had accidentally put too much force into his swing, overextending himself and shifting himself off balance. Seeing his chance, the chef closed in and pressed a point on his neck. A jolt of pain shot up his head, and he saw stars before darkness crept through his vision and swallowed up the sparkles. Just before he lost consciousness, his ears picked up a few words.Bookmark here

"You are already…well, not dead actually, but when else would I get to say it…"Bookmark here

'Dammit, shouldn't have taken this job.' The bandit regretted greedily reaching for that bag of gold coins that was too tempting to pass up. That would amount to nothing now that he'd been beaten. His body fell to the ground with a thump.Bookmark here

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Bookmark here

"Whew, done here. How's it looking over on your end?" I wiped my brow with my free hand as the last bandit had fallen.Bookmark here

Looking over to where I had separated from Eryn, she had already started to tie up her victims. A number of them looked like they had been roughed up pretty bad. A punch from a serious Eryn would probably shatter my bones, given how much her stats had been boosted up from our Electi connection. Judging by the banged-up bodies of the bandits, she hadn't gone full force. My side got off easy compared to this though, as they had been knocked unconscious from a touch.Bookmark here

In recent weeks, I had been getting a bit of practice on human opponents, allowing me to get used to fighting with pressure points. There had been a strange increase in malicious activity targeting travelers around the capital lately. With plenty of bodies to experiment on, I found aiming for a person’s pressure points to be not much different than aiming for the weak spots with my knife. Despite my knowledge being a little rusty and incomplete, my muscle memory and focus seemed to guide me to the correct locations most of the time, or that is what I would like to think.Bookmark here

However, there were a few occasions where I struck a spot which left an unintended effect. Trying to paralyze one person’s arm, I was slapped across the face instead when I touched the pressure point. When I backed away, the man started screaming while running away, his arm twitching and flapping around uncontrollably like it had been possessed.Bookmark here

Hitting another man in the stomach once, I expected him to go down, only to see the man looking surprised at me. A large wet spot formed on the front of his pants, and he started stinking like a toilet. Apparently, the strike had loosened his bowels to both of our disgust.Bookmark here

Being distracted while taking on multiple opponents, once I had struck a man in the neck slightly higher than intended. The man fell down and started foaming at the mouth while running in circles on the ground. The other attacker, seemingly angry at what I did to his comrade, made a wide swing. Moments later, both men were foaming and spinning in circles like some kind of synchronized event.Bookmark here

Eryn could only shake her head at how I unintentionally tortured my victims during my experiments. It wasn’t my fault that they were guinea pigs as I refined my technique, but since they were aiming to kill us, some non-lethal side effects could be overlooked. It’s not like I made their body parts explode…thankfully.Bookmark here

Eryn and I had been returning from another job when a large group of thugs jumped out of the forest to block our way. They had confidence that their numbers would prevail but had a spread of levels, all lower than ours. Since they initially focused their attention on taking down Eryn, who was seen as the bigger threat, they had mostly turned their backs on me, sending the weaker members to make sure I didn't run away. The group panicked when they turned around and saw many of their members had been knocked out without as much as a peep. Having to separate their forces, they no longer had the ability to overwhelm a single magic knight.Bookmark here

I should be thankful that people tend to let down their guard in front of me. It made life easier. However… I couldn't help but feel a bit peeved that they hadn't considered me a threat at all. Just a little.Bookmark here

I thought that they would've been able to see my level and been more cautious. That was until Eryn pointed out to me that status viewing required magic power, which confused me since I had hardly any.Bookmark here

"You're an Electi. They’ve always had the capability for Status Check. I don't know why. It's just how it is."Bookmark here

Uh huh. Next thing she was going to tell me is that the God of this world respawned monsters for the convenience of farming exp.Bookmark here

"Well, it does seem like no matter how much we try to exterminate the monsters in a given area, they seem to come back somehow."Bookmark here

Seriously? Why was I surprised anymore?Bookmark here

We led the bandits to the nearest town jail to drop them off. The warden accepted them and handed us a message to take to the capital. Looks like some of them had a small bounty on their heads.Bookmark here

"Man, there certainly has been an influx of criminals being passed onto us. Our jail has been getting pretty full. We have to start sending them off to other locations."Bookmark here

It was like someone had been drawing them all out from hiding these recent weeks. The string of robberies and attacks on travelers had been certainly unusual. We had encountered some bandits only twice ever before in our travels. Of course, Eryn took care of all of them at that time, since I hadn't developed any fighting capability yet. All of a sudden, we were being stopped by several groups in a short time frame.Bookmark here

"By the way, have you heard of this new drug called GateDown that has been spreading around the country? It seems to be impacting a number of our citizens around several territories," the warden asked the both of us.Bookmark here

"Hmm…I recall Cornelius saying something about finding some rowdy people who weren't acting themselves causing a disturbance in town."Bookmark here

"Yes, apparently it causes hallucinations and odd behavior, but the person affected by it goes into a trance-like high. It's been popping up a lot due to its cheap price compared to other black-market drugs. Seemingly, the drug was named as such after one afflicted person ran around town screaming 'The gate is down! The gate is down!' in a delirium. Of course, we had no idea why he was yelling, but guess it made him see things."Bookmark here

"That's sad. I'd rather take a tall glass of ale any day." Not that I've gotten really drunk yet. My tolerance seemed to be pretty high, and the taste of this world's spirits had been growing on me.Bookmark here

"Yes…" The warden looked like he could use a drink now. "Anyways, the two of you be safe out there. And let us know if you find out any leads on the drug source."Bookmark here

The two of us nodded as we headed off and back to the capital.Bookmark here

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Bookmark here

As usual, Eryn went to report to the guild, while I was left to my own devices.Bookmark here

"Come to think of it, it's that time again."Bookmark here

I looked around the area for a certain hooded inventor that I would typically run into this time of the week. However, I didn't overhear any talk of promising new tools being embellished to the surrounding merchants. I guess my timing was poor this time. As I was about to give up, the sound of someone yelling started getting louder as it approached me.Bookmark here

"LOOOOOK OOOOUUT!"Bookmark here

Turning towards the voice, I turned my head into something soft. Before I could react, a strong force behind the softness tilted my whole body backwards, sending me crashing to the ground. My head hurt from colliding with the hard ground, as my face was being suffocated.Bookmark here

Immediately afterwards, a heavy object landed on my stomach, knocking the wind right out of me. This all happened within the span of a second as I was rendered helpless on the ground.Bookmark here

"I'm soooo sorryyyy!" A female voice cried out. Bookmark here

I don't care right now. I'm dying here!Bookmark here

Seeing that I couldn't respond, the girl got off me quickly. My eyes were still blurry from the impact as I could barely make out the outline of a hooded figure. Wait, that voice…I guess I found her. As I rolled to the side, I felt a tinge of sourness at the back of my throat. Bookmark here

What the hell just happened? It seemed like she had run right into me somehow. And that softness…what a cliché. I envied 'lucky accidents' where girls would 'fall' onto the MC within an anime; that was until now. There was nothing enjoyable about this.Bookmark here

"Grace of Divinity, ease away the pain of my companion – Mid Heal!"Bookmark here

A warm glow surrounded my body. Pretty soon, the pain in my stomach and the back of my head had lessened. My body was starting to calm down, enabling me to pick myself up.Bookmark here

Giving Katsys an annoyed stare, I questioned her sudden appearance.Bookmark here

"Could you have made a more dramatic entrance?"Bookmark here

"I really didn't mean to. It's just, ah, I was testing something." Katsys pointed over to something laying on the ground.Bookmark here

It looked like the levi-board I had, but with a long handle having been attached to the front. Now, it looked kind of like a scooter.Bookmark here

"I've been getting some complaints that it was too hard to use, so I've been experimenting with improved balancing."Bookmark here

Well, it was a step in the right direction if that was the issue, but the coolness factor had decreased significantly. I think I’ll just stick to the one I have, thank you.Bookmark here

"Hey, I was kind of looking for you. You got a moment?"Bookmark here

Pointing at herself in question, she nodded. "Oh, do you have a request for me?"Bookmark here

"Not really so much a request, but I was thinking that I should take a look at your workshop or something to see if I can come up with any ideas."Bookmark here

"That shouldn't be a problem. It's not far from here." Katsys turned around and led the way.Bookmark here

Traveling past the marketplace and through an unfamiliar section of the capital, I saw what looked like a church building in the distance. Apparently, religion existed in this world, with there being a pope and church hierarchy that worshiped a single God. The church tended to stay separate from the governing bodies, electing to guide the people in basic morality rather than imposing their views onto them. However, many of its members tended to have a proficiency in enhanced healing and recovery magic, so often they were seen as the doctors of this world. I made a mental note in case someone I knew got heavily injured.Bookmark here

Katsys turned off to a side road before we got close to the church. The path apparently did not have much thru traffic as the number of people quickly died off. Walking up to a door that looked the same as the others around it, Katsys unlocked it and walked through, with me following behind.Bookmark here

The room was quite a sight. Dust hung in the air. Various objects were littered across the tables, the floors and even hanging on the walls. It didn't look like the room had ever been cleaned. I wasn't quite sure where to step within all of this mess. Katsys nonchalantly danced around the clutter and hung the levi-scooter on the wall.Bookmark here

"How do you live in this mess?" I questioned with concern.Bookmark here

"I just make my inventions here. I don't sleep here."Bookmark here

"Oh…" I tried looking around for anything that caught my eye.Bookmark here

There were various objects and parts that I had no idea what they did. I'd likely have to touch each one and test the function. Suddenly, I wasn't so sure of my safety. I had heard rumors of her random inventions being screw-ups, making me fear that they would explode in my face or cause troublesome side effects as was common for anime tropes. I bet that most of these failures were housed here. Further in, a bookshelf crammed with thick texts could be seen. A few spots were vacant as the missing books were currently open and placed on the surrounding surfaces. A typical sight of a messy, studious person.Bookmark here

Reaching out at a random object, I tried activating a safer looking one, but found that it didn't do anything. Look over it in question, Katsys called out from the back.Bookmark here

"Most of the tools here are not working. I had to salvage the magic stone for other things."Bookmark here

Oh, that's a relief. I guess they won't explode on me then. As I rummaged through the clutter, it made me think of browsing through an antique store containing items that may have served some purpose at one point, but its use being lost with time. Katsys didn't seem to remember the reason that she had made most of them either.Bookmark here

"Hmm…nothing here that would be useful for battle or distractions. Oh hey, what's this?" I held up an object that looked kind of like a drill.Bookmark here

Handing it to Katsys, she adjusted her glasses in thought before grabbing a magic stone from a desk drawer. Popping it into place, she activated it. The conical-shaped, rough bit at one end spun around, confirming my guess.Bookmark here

"Yes. I had made this for a woodworker, but it seems like there were several issues. Given the mana usage for a commoner, we had to use a light metal for wind magic to turn it fast enough to work. But that greatly reduced the durability of the spinning part. Replacing it with a more durable metal led to too much mana drain to get it working properly."Bookmark here

I guess even if you can envision it, making it work in a practical sense was still a challenge. Hidden hurdles such as these only popped up once you started working on it. Now, I can see why so many failures had been left behind. The genius of Katsys must have come from breakthroughs hidden amongst the garbage heap of failures strewn about.Bookmark here

Maybe I could help turn one of these failures into a success instead.Bookmark here

"Do you think you can redesign this for me?" I started giving her the details of my idea.Bookmark here

The conical bit was replaced with a whisk-like object – I didn't need durability in this case, as I would be using it on a viscous liquid instead. Speed would be the most important factor.Bookmark here

Two slots were asked for instead of one, so that two heads could be attached to spin in sync.Bookmark here

The end result? A mixer.Bookmark here

After I had introduced Eryn to cake, she continued to request for it every so often. While I was pleased that she enjoyed it, the hardest part of the process was mixing the ingredients and getting rid of all the lumps in the batter. By the time I had all of the ingredients finely mixed in a bowl, my arm would start cramping from exhaustion.Bookmark here

"Yes, those changes should be no problem. Would you like for me to deliver it to the Faulkner house when I'm done?"Bookmark here

"Sure, never know if I'll be out on a job at that time," I said as I grabbed a few silver coins and placed them in her hand. "That enough to cover it?"Bookmark here

"Mhm." Katsys bowed in thanks.Bookmark here

With that taken care of, we walked back to the marketplace, chatting about various things. In particular, Katsys seemed interested in what I had been doing outside of the capital for my previous jobs.Bookmark here

Eryn came into view along the way, running towards us.Bookmark here

"Claude! I've been looking all over for you! We have a job to do!"Bookmark here

"Huh? So soon?"Bookmark here

"Yes, the guild has been tipped off about some possible locations of GateDown supplies. We're to head out to intercept and confirm the source." Eryn had finally caught up to us but was breathing heavily.Bookmark here

The two of us hurried off to our next adventure.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.