Chapter 3:

Chapter 03 The Plan

Content of the Magic Box

As Jacob watched Antonio disappear into the horizon, he couldn't help but feel a sense of unease. The wild animal cries in the distance seemed to grow louder as the night grew darker. The member of the MIS finished his examination, packed up his equipment, and approached Jacob.

"So what now? Do we camp here till morning or what?" The man from MIS asked.

Jacob didn't take his eyes off the road as he replied, "Oh, don't be such a worry pants! I got it all covered. My boys with magic-powered four-wheelers gonna be here soon to pick us up. Our ride is coming, don't you worry."

The MIS member then raised concerns about leaving Antonio alive. "Was it a good idea to leave that man alive? He already knows too much and..."

Jacob clenched his fist as he listened, turned to the MIS member, and made a slightly angry face, interrupting him mid-sentence.

"Hey, Derrick, my man! Are all the people in MIS like you? We can't just kill him right here and now. We've been seen talking to him multiple times, and people might start asking questions. That could delay our mission. Plus, the guy's young, with a whole life ahead of him, only in his twenties. It already leaves a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about what'll happen to that poor girl. But enough about Antonio. How's the little girl doing? Will she be alright?"

As Jacob rambles on, Derrick listens patiently before finally interjecting.

"Well, as for that city guard, I couldn't care less if he starts spreading rumors. He's a low-life pest and nobody would believe him anyways. Now, as for the girl... I must say, you certainly have a keen eye for people. Does it come with age?"

Jacob playfully taps Derrick's cheek and exclaims, "Hey, hey, my boy! Don't tease me about my age. I'm still only thirty-four years young."

 Derrick takes a few steps back, holding his cheek, and responds, "Okay, okay! No need to get violent!" He then continues, "Anyway, as I was saying, this girl appears to be in excellent health. Her physique not only looks robust and well-toned but..."

As Derrick was speaking, Jacob interjected once more and brought up something he had heard about the girl they were discussing.

"Hey, by the way," Jacob said, "I heard she beat Antonio in some kind of training course. Seems like she's quite the fitness enthusiast."

Derrick cleared his throat a few times before resuming his previous topic.

"Anyway, as I was saying," he continued, "she's in great physical shape and has a mana pool rated at five stars. In fact, she has even more mana than I had hoped for, which bodes well for our success. Of course, that's assuming everything goes according to plan."

Jacob's face finally breaks into a smile as he surveys their surroundings for any signs of danger. He makes his way over to the nearest boulder and takes a seat, motioning for Derrick to follow. Once they are both settled, Jacob broaches the topic of their next move.

"So, Derrick, what's the plan from here? We have a test subject, but what's our next step?"

Derrick retrieves his bag and deftly produces a collection of papers, each bearing an intricate network of maps. He begins to articulate his strategic scheme.

"As of late, my team at the Magical Investigations Society has come across an enigmatic Magic box. Whose capabilities remain unknown to us. However, we have acquired a crystal for the purpose of conducting compatibility tests. Regrettably, our subject, the young lady in question, only exhibited a 36% compatibility rate with said Magic Box."

Jacob takes the map from Derrick and poses a question, "Why not just enlist some members of MIS to undergo the process and see what happens? That's how I gained my powers back in a day, ha ha ha!"

Derrick responded while rifling through more papers, "We did attempt that approach, but unfortunately, the subjects could not endure more than a minute within the box. Some emerged from the experience barely clinging to life, while others reported feeling as if their flesh was being torn from their bones due to an overwhelming weight. A few 'unfortunate ones' were even expelled from the magical confinement as little more than a heap of shattered bone and pulverized meat."

Jacob couldn't hold back his laughter, slapping his leg and exclaiming, "Wooo Haaa haha! That's just precious ha hahaha! I'm glad I wasn't that guy!" 

Derrick, undeterred by the interruption, continued speaking. "That's the consequence when attempting to enter the box with less than 20 percent compatibility. However, the Magic box testing will be the final phase of our plan."

Jacob said in a serious tone, "Yeah! Well, dam, Derrick! You sure make it sound like it's gonna be easy."

Derrick continued, "As for the first and most important part, Jacob, we received a report from our scouts that one of the legendary beasts, the werewolf, has been spotted less than a week's travel on foot from our city, Woodmill, on the main road to a nearby city, Rockmine. Furthermore, the newly discovered magic box is located less than three days' travel on foot from Woodmill, making it a perfect opportunity to get some results."

Jacobs stands up and claps a few times while talking sarcastically, "Oh, Dayum son! You have it all figured out, here I give you a round of applause. It's sure gonna be a walk in the park, eh?"

Jacob sits down and gazes at Derrick's puzzled expression. After a brief pause, he asks, "Okay, so you're going for a fairy tale about werewolves, huh? Yeah okay... I heard vague stories about that, how you get bitten by a dying old age werewolf, and he transfers you his vitality powers. And you become superhuman... yeah I hear that fairy tale in the tavern after, some old drunks hit the floor when the drink gets too heavy."

Derrick sat with a big smile on his face, crossing his fingers as he addressed Jacob. "Oh Jacob, my friend, this isn't some fairy tale. I know about this because one of those who received their power gave me a hint," Derrick explained. "Not only will you gain vitality, but you'll also become significantly stronger. Your stamina will be almost limitless until you get hungry, of course. But wait, there's more."

Jacob interrupts him with his talking, "Oh! Wait! Don't tell me, you grow tail and play tricks such as... I throw, you fetch? Hahaha!"

Derrick ignores Jacobs's sarcasm again and continues talking, "That's not all, one will age very slowly and last but the best thing is that wounds heal fast. You probably know from reports that werewolves have insane regeneration. If you chop his leg or arm he grows a new one in less than an hour."

Upon hearing that Jacob's smile had disappeared from his face, he looked at the girl for a moment in silence, having a pretty good idea of what was going to happen to her after Derrick hands her over to MIS.

 As he gathered his thoughts, his expression turned serious. "So, to summarize, you're going to let that werewolf take a couple of bites out of that girl and see if that works? Okay, let's say by some miracle, it does work and we have a buffed-up little girl. Then you're going to throw her in the shiny new box you found in the woods and see if she comes out with powers, right? You know as well as I do what happens to people who have less than 45%."

Listening to Jacob's words, Derrick responds, "Jacob, you understand that I need her to survive in that container. You know from your own experience what happens to individuals who are incompatible with the container's power. However, if she possesses the regenerative abilities of a werewolf, then even if her bones and flesh are broken and torn, she will still be able to recover. I can continue to subject her to the container's power repeatedly until I gather all the data I need, regardless of how many times she is injured."

Jacob didn't seem pleased with the idea as he asked, "Let's say that works out too, AND! Don't tell me, you gonna take her to MIS to do even more horrible experiments on her, like chopping her leg or arm just to see if it grows back."

Derrick didn't hesitate to answer, "Well, gently putting it, yes, exactly what you said, that's the first thing I most definitely gonna do. Oh, but Jacob, I have even better plans for her."

Jacob replies, "Well dam, you guys sure are some cruel bastards. But hey! I don't care as long as I get my gold coins." He pauses for a moment before continuing, "Oh yeah, I didn't have a chance to bring this up but I gonna ask, why did you pick me for this job? Did someone tell you I'm some kind of a bad guy or something? I mean, damn it, son, I am making enemies with stuff like this. For shit like this, I could get my license taken and much worse, just so you know."

After a brief moment of contemplation, Derrick responds to Jacob. "I needed a team fast and only two mages were available at the moment. That was you, the earth element mage, hunters guild member rookie rank 5, and that new boy, Isaac, who just become an Ice element mage that registered to the hunters guild two months ago. He stands currently at rank rookie 2. Even if a kid is a 5-star mage I needed someone more experienced so my bet was on you, Jacob. And besides, you needed a big job to go from rookie 5 to advanced rank 1, so it was a perfect deal for both of us."

Jacob took a moment to recall the ice mage, Isaac. After a brief pause, he nodded and said, "Ah yes, Isaac, that's his name. He's the one who looks like a pretty boy, right? I remember when he first entered the hunters guild building. I couldn't help but tease him a bit, joking that it wasn't a host club for boys. I was actually on my way to meet you at the time." Jacob chuckled before continuing, "But in all seriousness, I think he's a decent guy. He just needs more experience to really shine."

Derrick brakes his serious face and starts to show a little smile but after saying a few words gets all serious. "You know what, let's get back to planning. We covered a piece of good news so far but there is some bad news too."

Jacob jests about their trip before inquiring about the bad news, "Oh, and here I was thinking this would be a walk in the park, haha. Don't give me that look, Derrick. You really need to loosen up. So, what's the scoop?"

Derrick proceeds to share the unfortunate news, "Well, you see, werewolves are immensely powerful, but there's a catch. We have no idea what kind we're dealing with. The scout's report was ambiguous on its appearance, which means we can't determine whether it's a 'life-giver' or 'poison' type. It's a major issue because our entire plan hinges on encountering the 'life-giver'."

Jacob takes a swig from his flask of Melwyngold apple wine and lets out a satisfying roar. "Woah! That hits a spot... dayum! That kid Antonio sure knows how to make apple wine," he says before turning to Derrick. "So anyway, care to explain what you mean by saying 'life-giver'?"

Derrick simplifies the explanation for Jacob. "Look, 'Life-giver' transfers all his powers to a new host before he dies to carry his legacy, but 'Poison' throws away all of his powers to gain deadly poison and grow in physical strength to fight till he drops. Let's say, it's his last stand."

Jacob gazes into the distance and responds. "Yeah, okay... I think I leave planning to you then, so anyway, looks like our magic-powered four-wheelers arrived, dam, they were silent, couldn't notice them till they started signaling to us."

Derrick calmly explained the mechanics of the four-wheelers to Jacob. "It's quite simple really. Two types of crystals are placed inside the vehicles - one for forward and one for reverse. The more magic you put into it, the faster it goes. If you keep it slow, you won't attract any unwanted attention."

As he spoke, Jacob rose from his seat and gestured with a burning stick from the nearby fireplace. "Well, at least the MIS got something right by making these magic tools available for people to use. Can you imagine us traveling on horses for this trip? We'd be dead after a few days!"

Jacob's transport arrived at camp, the four-wheelers with trunk storage. With Suzuka by their side, their group now consisted of nine people in total.