Chapter 8:

Chapter 3.1, Recon

Don't Worry, We Have the Best Supporter in Our Team

When the morning light pierced through the glass window and landed on her arm, she felt the warmth crept through her body. She soon opened her eyes and rose up, stretching her arms and legs then looked around her. Jayce was nowhere to be found, but she found a bag and a note on the study table. She got off her bed and sat on a chair to read the note.Bookmark here

Dear Alice,Bookmark here

I will be out for a while to browse through the ores and ingredients available in this village. I will be back soon by the time you read this note. I will be teaching you about enchantments when I get back to you. Your breakfast is in the bag.Bookmark here

Your partner,Bookmark here

JayceBookmark here

She placed down the note and examined the bag. Bookmark here

The bag had three bread rolls, a small bottle of fruit jam and a bottle of cold milk. Feeling hungry, she began indulging her breakfast. The fruit jam seemed to be different from any bakery she had visited. The milk was surprisingly cold for this environment.Bookmark here

Nowadays people were still experiencing difficulty when it comes to preserving their food resources. Blacksmiths pointed out that it was possible to build a piece of equipment that could meet that requirement, but they had yet to find suitable materials and schematics. Although magicians were able to cast ice magic to cool down objects, they still had to expend their mana continuously.Bookmark here

After she finished eating her breakfast, she stored the fruit jam and an empty bottle into her magic gloves. Bookmark here

Since Jayce wasn’t back yet, she took out her grimoire and placed them on the table and began reading. She had learned a few spells from her grimoire, but she felt she needed to revise on a certain spell she might need for this quest.Bookmark here

Her grimoire was different from others, it had the ability to record every spell she had learned, including their respective foundation and nature. Not only that, the languages written in the grimoire can only be read by her as she was the rightful owner as it chose its master. Bookmark here

However, even with the knowledge of certain spells, she couldn’t cast them. The reason behind this was due to her magic staff. It used to belong to her grandfather and she was told that the staff possessed a mind of its own. Therefore, the fact that she couldn’t cast a specific spell meant Alice wasn’t ready for it, and in order to check whether she could such spells, all she had to do was to check her grimoire.Bookmark here

She flipped through the pages, trying to find a specific spell. Finally, she found the spell she was looking for and read the foundation and nature of it. Bookmark here

Once she finished reading her grimoire, she heard a click from the door. Bookmark here

“I’m back. You ready?” asked Jayce.Bookmark here

“Welcome back. Yes, I’m ready.”Bookmark here

She closed her grimoire and store it back to her magic bag. Jayce went out of the room to give her some time to change. Once changed, she went out of the room and looked back, ensuring they didn’t leave anything behind.Bookmark here

                                                           ____________________Bookmark here

They travelled further south of the village, finding a suitable area with large amounts of foliage. The purpose of this choice was to teach Alice how to use the stealth enchantments applied to her apparel by Jayce. Bookmark here

He explained a few rules to her, turning this training into a game. It was similar to a game of tag, but the hunter had to touch their target’s back without being noticed. However, if the target caught a glimpse of you, you lose. She nodded to his proposal. Bookmark here

To activate the enchantments, the bearer had to imbue their mana to the runes applied to your apparels. However, each enchantment had their own nature. Stealth-based enchantment required patience and a sense of calm of the bearer. It sounded easy, but when it came to escaping from enemies, the bearer had to recollect their thoughts zealously in order to activate their enchantment. Bookmark here

“Any questions?”Bookmark here

She shook her head. They decided that Jayce will be the hunter this time, to demonstrate how the enchantments worked in a field. With that, Jayce ventured deep into the forest and Alice mentally counted to ten. Bookmark here

When the game started, she immediately heightened her senses. No signs of movement, sounds or even presences. She was well aware that this was just training, but the feeling she had was far different from fear. It was as if he stood right beside her all along, except he wasn’t there, to begin with. She kept looking left, right, front, back and above. Bookmark here

Still no sign of Jayce, her senses gradually became dull. At that very moment, a hand grabbed onto her left shoulder. She instinctively jumped away from it and found out the person who was grabbing her was Jayce.Bookmark here

“Sorry. Are you ok?” Bookmark here

He apologized to her for scaring her like that. His concern was about hurting her, mentally. Bookmark here

She took a few deep breaths, she wasn’t expecting the enchantments would be that effective. She understood how it feels like to be hunted. Bookmark here

They switched roles. Alice began to walk deep into the forest. Bookmark here

After some time passed, she activated her muffle enchantment. Keeping her mental state stable, she jumped once and landed on leaves and branches, not a single sound heard. Bookmark here

“It worked,” she murmured. Bookmark here

After checking it once more, she darted towards his location while keeping her muffle enchantment active. At the same time, she began infusing her mana to camouflage enchantment, visualizing herself as part of the surroundings. Bookmark here

It was difficult to activate two enchantments at once as they required more concentration than she has thought. Bookmark here

Halfway towards his location, her mind finally became stable. She felt as if she was linked with her surroundings. Postponing her excitement to the near future, she brought her focus back to their training. Bookmark here

She abruptly came to a halt without making a single sound escape from her movements. Her eyes became wide when she found her target—who was found casually sleeping beside one of the trees. Taking this as an opportunity, she circled around his position, slowly approaching his back, ready to tackle. Bookmark here

As her hand was just a centimetre away from his left shoulder, his right hand suddenly grabbed her hand.Bookmark here

“!”Bookmark here

“That was fun,” said Jayce, covering his mouth with his left hand as he was yawning. He released her hand and stood up, stretching his arms and legs.Bookmark here

Was he asleep? Bookmark here

“How did you know that I was about to tag you?” she asked.Bookmark here

“I don’t.”Bookmark here

She was about to say “Interesting” but instead… “What do you mean you don’t know?”Bookmark here

“It’s exactly what I just said.” He stated it, flatly.Bookmark here

“Then what about your hand grabbing my hand?”Bookmark here

“Oh, you mean that. My body usually moves unconsciously as if it protects me.”Bookmark here

Again, she found these hard to believe. But after everything she went through with him in the past three days, she was sure he had his reason. Although she never got the chance to spook him, she made a mental note at the back of her mind into her things-to-do list. Bookmark here

Jayce turned his gaze at her over his shoulder, imagining that she might be disturbed due to the side effects of using enchantment for the foremost time. But just to make sure, he set his hand along her temple and put his other hand to his forehead. Bookmark here

“Are you having a fever? You should get back to the inn.”Bookmark here

“No, I’m fine. What’s next?”Bookmark here

Her face flushed even further, she was at a loss of speech. Her blood temperature was rising. Bookmark here

He took another good look at her for a moment and then nodded. Bookmark here

“If you say so. Before we head out, there’s something I need to remind you.”Bookmark here

“That is?” She asked quizzically.Bookmark here

He indicated her pair of magic gloves with this index finger. Bookmark here

“Your magic gloves were able to manifest any type of magic arrows or daggers for close-range combat.” Bookmark here

She attempted to trace the rune he mentioned specifically and found that the rune was crafted in the palm of her hand. Knowing the rune’s location was all she needed to know. Bookmark here

                                                           ____________________Bookmark here

The camp wasn’t what they had in mind— it was more like a fortress. Not exactly a fortress, that would be exaggerating. The camp was surrounded by ten-meter tall wooden walls and it had eight-metre tall and six-metre wide wooden gate as the only entrance to the premise. Bookmark here

“Let’s see. One archer each on a watchtower, two swordsmen guarding the prisoners, four swordsmen at the entrance of a large tent, five bandits holding up by what it looks like a weapons barrack and thirty bandits patrolling the entire camp. Security is tight. We will have to make our move at nightfall, so let’s find a good spot to take a break,” said Jayce, removing his enchanted monocle from his right eye and gave it to Alice.Bookmark here

Alice equipped it on her right eye and infuse her mana into the monocle's runes. Her eyesight became blurry momentarily, then the camp became clear as if she was just a few centimetres away. Bookmark here

They were currently at three hundred metres away from the camp, standing on one of the sturdy branches of the tallest tree they had found. Jayce put on his usual pair of black spectacles and sat down next to her, scanning the entire forest and watching the large bandit camp.Bookmark here

Alice was searching for an opening to infiltrate their camp. She thought about using long-range magic to take down all the bandits, then enter the camp from the front gate to save the prisoners, but that would likely attract attention and their security might increase dramatically and they had two hours before nightfall. Bookmark here

With that in mind, Jayce took withdrew his book from his magic gloves and began reading. He later withdrew a belt from his magic gloves and handed them over to Alice. “Here. Use this to tie yourself to a tree before you sleep, to prevent from falling.” Bookmark here

She accepted his belt and began tying herself to the tree branch. Instead of reading her grimoire, she decided to take a nap. She had to prepare herself both mentally and physically for their upcoming battle.Bookmark here

8:00 PM, the time to infiltrate the bandit camp had arrived. Bookmark here

However, Jayce had a hard time waking up Alice, who was still sleeping on the tree branch. Feeling there weren’t any other options, he focused on creating two separate spells on each hand. One hand materialized a form of a water droplet and the other caused the surrounding air to be chilly. He cooled down the water droplet, close to its freezing point, then dropped that single cooled water droplet to her forehead.Bookmark here

It was effective. Well, too effective for Alice as her entire body shook vigorously. Bookmark here

She rubbed her eyes to steer off the fatigue that hung over her. Once she was ready, they moved from tree to tree, towards the bandit camp. Bookmark here

One hundred and fifty metres away from the camp. He switched his usual pair of spectacles with his monocle, scanning the camp. Bookmark here

“Good, the security seems to be lax. Here’s the plan…”Bookmark here

“Plan? We’re looking at a fortress with one entrance. How are we going to infiltrate the camp without being noticed?” interrupted Alice.Bookmark here

“…You’ll see. Back to the strategy, I will infiltrate the camp and you will provide support from here and inform me of their activity. I will also open the gate for the prisoners to escape. Should the bandits harm any hostages, knock them out. I’m sure all the bandits equipped themselves with magic gloves. Any questions?”Bookmark here

“Wait, how am I going to communicate with you while I’m here?”Bookmark here

You will communicate with me like this.Bookmark here

She heard his voice, but he didn’t move his lips or anything. She looked around to see whether this was due to nearby enemies’ spell.Bookmark here

Relax. It’s me, Jayce. I’m talking to you with my mind.Bookmark here

“Okay, so how do I talk to you with my mind?”Bookmark here

He reminded her the necklace that he gave during their recent expedition in the grimoire’s world. Not only that it possessed a rune that wards off the poisonous miasma, but it also had a rune that allowed her to communicate with Jayce. The only drawback to this enchantment was that both bearers had to have the same rune on their equipment and both bearers had seen or met each other. Bookmark here

Think of the person you want to talk to and imbue your mana to the necklace.Bookmark here

She nodded to his explanation. She began infusing her mana into the communication rune, imagining every single feature of him. His black hair, brown eyes, his pair of spectacles, his—Bookmark here

You sure are taking your time.Bookmark here

What do you mean?! I—” she paused, then continued. I did it!Bookmark here

He held onto his head with both hands. He blinked a few times to recover from the noises in his head. Bookmark here

She bowed multiple times to apologize to him. Bookmark here

He told her he was fine. He knew this was her first time using telepathy enchantment, so it was no surprise she was that excited. She reminded him of the time when he tested this rune. Bookmark here

“Before I head off, you need a guardian,” said Jayce, without using telepathy enchantment this time.Bookmark here

Before Alice was about to ask him about “guardian”, he already began his spell. Bookmark here

“O Goddess of the Moon, Selene, as your child, hear my prayers. Lend me your strength to banish all evils that lay before me, Noir!” Bookmark here

With the spell unleashed, a wolf appeared out of thin air before Alice. At first glance, it looked like a normal wolf as it had black fur with hints of silver fur, but what made it different from the rest of the wolves she had encountered was its majestic and gentle pair of emerald eyes. Bookmark here

Other than that, it was equipped with a pair of daggers, one on each shoulder; and equipped with black armours, covering its vital spots.Bookmark here

“Alice, meet Noir. He will be your guardian—Wait don’t! He doesn’t like—”Bookmark here

Despite its appearance, Alice couldn’t resist the temptation to hug and pet Noir. Bookmark here

Jayce stood there dumbfounded. He was surprised that Noir, for the first time, didn’t show any hostility towards Alice. Up until now, Noir had never trusted anyone but him. Bookmark here

As Alice hugging and petting Noir, he wagged his tail quickly. Bookmark here

“Now that we’re all set. Are you ready?” Bookmark here

He brought his attention back to their task, trying to not get sidetracked.Bookmark here

Both Noir and Alice nodded.Bookmark here

When in the world did Noir is in sync with her? Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.