Don't Worry, We Have the Best Supporter in Our Team
After taking a shower and drying herself up, Alice puts on a white T-shirt and a pair of chestnut coloured shorts.
Summer was approaching. The ambient temperature was gradually rising by each day.
Alice brought her adventure clothes to the mana laundry machine and activated it. Researchers, scholars and blacksmiths were hard at work to invent equipment that could provide convenience for everyone nowadays. The bathroom and kitchen equipment they had in their apartment was one of them.
She walked out of her room and towards the kitchen, planning to prepare cold drinks for everyone, but…
Jayce held a glass jug filled with tea and ice cubes with one hand and a serving tray containing four empty glasses with the other. A magic circle could be seen at the mouth of the glass jug. Cold air started to become visible underneath the magic circle and falls to the bottom of the glass vessel.
“If you say so.”
He made his way to the dining area and placed the refreshments on top of the study table.
The table they had prepared yesterday consisted of their usual dining table and an outdoor table that Jayce had purchased from the Capital’s Craftsman Quarter.
She arranged the books based on their difficulty and subjects. Sometimes she sneaked a glance at Jayce. The smell of his sweat was weaker than the time they had finished their morning training just now.
Wait… What am I doing?!
She shook her head, forcing such thoughts to the back of her mind, then pick up the pace. As she was reaching for the last book, her hand accidentally touch his. Although the physical contact was only momentarily, she could feel the warmth coming from his hand rush to her cheeks and quickly retract her hand.
“Sorry.” He apologized curtly, grabbing the final book and place it on top of others. “We should make some space in the living room for meals and breaks.”
“Jayce, you should go take a shower. Irene and Aiden will be here at any moment."
A few knocks came from the entrance. Jayce went ahead to get the door, leaving Alice at the study table.
Alice looked at the study table again. This was the first time she saw this amount of books brought from the guild’s magic library to their apartment. During her spare time, she read a book or two from the magic library. The only free time she ever had to read them was after dinner and before sleeping for the night.
“Sorry for intruding.”
When Jayce opened the door, he was met with Aiden and Irene’s greetings. Both of them were wearing their summer clothes as well. Irene wore a light brown short sleeve shirt and a pair of green shorts. Aiden wore a silver short sleeve hooded jacket with a pair of grey shorts.
“You two… It has been three months. You don’t have to be formal.”
This reminded Jayce of the time when Alice told him not to be formal.
Did Alice rub her informality on me?
“What’s with the bags?” He asked as he pointed at the bags they were holding.
“We bought some ingredients for you to use,” said Irene as she lifted one of the bags and gave it to Jayce.
“You’re going to have dinner at our place?”
“You didn’t have many vegetarian options for him, so we brought the ones you might recognize. Do you know how to use them?”
“I will see what I can do.”
After storing the ingredients in the kitchen’s cooling system, they gathered around the study table. Their preparation for their exams had begun.
“Jayce, wouldn’t it better to use malachite-based whetstone for these types of weapons?” asked Irene, pointing a finger to a specific page on a book she was holding.
“You could do that, but that would improve their sharpness by ten per cent and its cost weight more than benefits.”
After giving Irene his opinion, Jayce returned a question of his own. Even if this was a group study session, he took it seriously.
Alice watched the two shooting each other with questions of their own, testing and teaching each other as they progress. She returned to the Beastiary textbook she held in her hands.
“Sorry about that. Now then, how are you going kill a Hydra?”
Alice directed the question toward Aiden, who was sitting across the table from her. While Irene and Jayce were exchanging information regarding Blacksmithing and Herbalism, Alice was tutoring Aiden regarding Beastiary, and Aiden returned with questions on Swordsmanship.
“Avoid the heads and severe the heart,” answered Aiden as he leaned back to the chair and stretched his arms up in the air.
“Could you elaborate?”
“It depends on the situation, but I hope the terrain allows me to incapacitate the hydra with large boulders so that I can reach its heart. If none of these is available, it would be best to retreat and regroup.”
Alice didn’t specifically mention whether Aiden was alone or at a party, so the question was considered to be an open-ended one. She purposely made it that way so that both of them discover new strategies, but learning theoretically wasn’t on par with the practical situations they might face on the field.
“Excellent. It is important to know when to battle or retreat to form a plan,” remarked Alice. Deep inside, she was directing that statement to Jayce.
Jayce had a bad habit of putting himself in the most dangerous position during battles and quests. Part of her understood that was what being a vanguard. There was nothing out of the ordinary when it came to a thief class adventurer fighting in the frontline.
It wasn’t just Jayce she had to worry about; Aiden always faced their enemies head-on, and Irene headed off into the forest alone to hunt for animals as rations but ends up coming back with a bigger monster chasing after her. This didn’t happen when they were in the Academy but more frequently when they were out for quests.
Those issues were why Alice had so many things to worry about whenever she went on an adventure with them. She had to manage her mana consumption and potions. Should Alice cast buff, debuff or support spells? Should she cast healing spells at this point? What was their next move?
This sort of situation usually happened when they engaged in battles with many monsters or enemies with particular intelligence, which leads to fewer opportunities to communicate with others to concoct a proper battle formation. Alice thought about using Telepathy Enchantment to communicate with Jayce. However, he recommended that she should use it during emergencies only and to hide its existence from Aiden and Irene for now.
Jayce noticed Alice’s words by giving a side glance momentarily, then continued his discussion with Irene. Alice was the only one in the guild who knew Jayce’s passive skill: Instinct.
Jayce’s Instinct was broad; it relied on all five senses: the sense of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. But it couldn’t get Jayce out of some situations when he wanted to. Therefore, combat experience and speed were essential to predict anything that lies outside of his senses.
Did I do something that offends her? thought Jayce as he picked up another textbook from the study table.
“Got any question you have in mind?” asked Alice as she took a sip from her tea.
“Is there a way that I could destroy spells and magic circles?”
“Now that you mention it. How do we destroy magic circles before they activate?” Irene looked at Aiden, then Alice and Jayce.
Alice could understand the question behind it. Aiden was capable of avoiding spells and destroying projectiles launched at him, but he had yet to learn the properties and nature of magic spells to nullify them.
“Hmm. For spells, you could cancel them by casting elements they weak against them. As for magic circles, there wasn’t anything we could do to disturb the activation process.”
What should I do? Alice smiled wryly.
She woke up from her sleep and sat upright on her bed. Her head felt heavy from reading books yesterday. She turned to reach out to the table side on her right for a clock to check the time. It was 7:30 in the morning.
People would probably think it was only day one; how did you end up like this. Alice’s class was different from the usual. They had to cover a wide range of topics outside of their vocation, so the workload was heavy for one student in such a limited time given to them by the Academy.
They weren’t kidding when it comes to this class.
After taking a few deep breathes to shake off the weariness, she slowly got out of the bed and realized that her room was a mess. Books and documents were everywhere on the floor, and, judging by the positions, they seemed to fell from her study table. That display of her room brought many questions to her mind, but it was enough for her to worry.
What happened last night?
Alice made her way towards the door. The living room was just like yesterday. Except that Aiden and Irene were nowhere to be seen. Well, that was obvious since they lived across the hall, but the study table was surprisingly clean and…
“Where are the books?”
Alice directed the question to the boy in the kitchen.
Jayce had just finished preparing breakfast and placed them on the dining table.
“Good morning. Before we get into that, is there a beverage that you would like to drink?”
Jayce went to get a glass of water and set it on the table. He took a seat across the table from her usual spot.
Alice sat in her chair. She took a few sips of water to clear her mind and be fully awake.
“What happened last night?”
“Will you promise that you will not get angry after I tell you what happened last night?”
Alice gave him a questioning glance for a moment, then decides to hear him out, so she nodded, telling him to continue.
“You were sleepwalking.”
Alice found that hard to believe.
Throughout her life, she hadn’t had experienced anything like this before. “I’m sorry. Please continue.” She clasped onto the glass of water.
“After about an hour ever since you entered your room, which I assumed you went to bed due to the time, you came out of your room. I thought you are going for a glass of water or toilet, but I was surprised that you went to the study table and carried a stack of books to your room. I tried to stop you verbally, but you don’t seem to be conscious at all.”
“What did I do after that…?”
“When you returned to your room with the books, I followed and checked on you. You were reading them with eyes open while being asleep.”
“Did I do anything crazy?”
“No. So far, all you did was reading the books. This didn’t happen before, but maybe it only occurs when you’re well aware of books that you never read before and close to you?”
“Other than that, I don’t think there is anything to be concern about.”
“Then I have one last question.”
“How did you know about this?”
Alice could see a slight change in colour to Jayce’s face even though his expression remained neutral.
“You didn’t go to sleep early, didn’t you?” Alice gave a smile, but her eyes held something that could start a fire at any moment.
Jayce could sense cold air around her.
Jayce was well aware of her passive skills, so lying wouldn’t do much to get him out of this sticky situation. His sleeping schedule was not something that any student should be having at this point. That was why Alice had to make sure that he gets enough sleep to work properly during normal hours.
“But I will let that one slide since I will be taking some of your breakfast.”
“All right…” Jayce returned to the kitchen to prepare another sandwich. “Do you want milk tea or coffee?”
“Let me help out.” She went to the kitchen and placed the ingredients on the chopping board. “You always sleep late, and even if you’re the guild’s main chef, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t learn how to cook.”
Alice and the others learned how to cook, both theoretical and practical, from their class. They provided a wide range of ingredients that can be found in the wilds. The Cooking class covered a list of poisonous herbs to avoid as well.
“If you insist, I will prepare the ingredients this time. I will guide you through the cooking process so you can make it by yourself whenever I’m not here.”
“Understood, master,” Alice said with a smile.
“Please don’t call me master. I’m not comfortable with being called like that.” Jayce turned hid head away from Alice slightly to hide his embarrassment.
Knowing Jayce’s preference for formalities to individual circumstances and status, this was one of the ways she sometimes enjoyed teasing him and see his expressions aside from his serious ones.
“But you take things too seriously most of the time. Try tone them down and have fun.”
Without a word, Jayce put on an apron on Alice from behind.
“Shall we begin?”
Irene came into his room to wake him up, shaking his shoulder.
“Ngghhhh… I need another hour,” mumbled Aiden.
Irene moved toward the window and moved the curtains to the sides, making way for the morning sunlight to brighten the room.
Aiden could feel a slight increase in the temperature of his bedroom through his skin. That wasn’t enough to get out of his bed, but…
“Time to get up!”
“Ow ow ow ow ow!”
Irene pinched and pulled Aiden’s cheek. His cheek was surprisingly soft and could be stretched a bit farther than usual. His hands grabbed onto the edge of the bed, preventing himself from falling. However, that decision led him to feel even more pain.
Seeing this was not getting them anywhere, Irene released her grip, launching Aiden to the other side and off the bed.
Before Aiden landed on the floor, he quickly wrapped himself in layers with blankets to soften his landing.
“Ha ha ha! You will never get me out of my room,” laughed Aiden.
After laughing for a moment, Aiden heard Irene moving around the bed and towards him. Irene stomped her foot at his cushioned body. She took out a bow and arrow from her magic gloves, aiming at him at point-blank range and ready to fire at any time.
“Choose: would you like to be riddled with arrows and sleep forever or get yourself ready for breakfast and riddled with arrows?”
Aiden could hear the arrow, nocked from her bow, looking forward to hitting him hard. Beads of sweat started to flow down his temple.
No matter what his decision was, he would get himself a barrage of arrows from Irene. A moment later, the room was filled with his scream.
After rendering Aiden semi-conscious, she dragged him out of his room, tossed him into the bathroom and left him there.
“Breakfast is ready, and yours was placed on the dining table close to the kitchen. Now go clean yourself up and get ready. We have more books to read for the exams.”
“Ughhhh.” Aiden groaned.
With Aiden in the bathroom, Irene took a seat at the dining table. Being part of Jayce’s guild somewhat changed their way of doing things when it comes to food; they now usually start eating when everyone is present. That was why they had to finish cooking at the appropriate timing.
Aiden might not have realized it, but Irene, too, was experiencing a bit of mental fatigue from yesterday’s study session as well. She was good at hiding her emotions with her upfront cheerful expression, acquired from her part-time job as a waitress back in her home village, Moon Village, but she has problems of her own.
“We won’t be having physical training today, right?”
Before she realized it, Aiden was taking a seat in front of her.
“Yeah. We studied a bit late last night. Luckily Alice and Jayce agreed to this. We didn’t expect them to be this studious,” sighed Irene as she tore off a piece from her bread. She then dipped them into her soup before eating them.
Even if Irene were cheerful and spoke most of the time nonchalantly with everyone around, she felt more comfortable to be herself when it came to Aiden. They had known each other ever since they were kids.
“Yeah… I don’t even know how they are still able to work properly with a little amount of sleep sometimes,” He poured a bit of dressing into his bowl of salad. His salad was prepared with a bunch of vegetables, herbs and chunks of hard-boiled eggs.
The warmth from the sunlight penetrated through their opened windows, along with the fresh morning air ventilating the living room and dining room. With the environment they were having, they continued their breakfast in silence and enjoyed them.
The time they spent studying felt so short whenever they were focusing on covering every topic they could. It was stressful considering the limited time pressuring in mind.
After covering almost every topic they could get their hands on, they had decided to take time to rest from their hard work on the last day of study session. They had made this decision a few days ago as they were close to completion earlier than expected.
Alice was sleeping on the living room floor, between the coffee table and one of the sofa. When her nose caught the smell of bacon wafted through the room, her eyes opened wide. She rubbed her eyes, clearing her vision, and covered her mouth with her other hand when she yawned.
Once her mind became clear, she got up from the floor. As she did so, she noticed something was different: someone had placed a blanket on her while she was asleep. Alice smiled, having a clear idea of who had done it, and looked around.
Irene was sleeping on a sofa next to Alice; Aiden on the other. Both were also covered with a blanket of their own.
Alice kept her movements and breathing as quiet as she could and made her way towards the kitchen. The smell of bacon became stronger at every step she took. Just thinking about it was enough for her to make haste. She sat on a tall seat by the counter that connected to the kitchen and watched him. There was a partition between the kitchen and the dining area, and both sides had a counter of their own, and Alice was on the latter’s side.
“Did you get a good night’s sleep?” asked Jayce while he was placing cooked strips of bacon and eggs on separate plates. There were slices of bread, slices of bacon and eggs and bowls of porridge set on the kitchen counter.
“Sort of, but we have a day to rest,” answered Alice with a smile, but her tone was evident that she was still tired.
“I will brew a cup of coffee for you then. Could you help me bring these dishes to the dining table?”
After bringing the breakfast to the table, she returned and sat in the tall chair by the counter, watching Jayce brewing her coffee. Alice wasn’t sure whether she should be waking the other two up, but it was 5:45 AM, so she probably should. However, her attempt was no longer needed as both Irene and Aiden slowly gotten themselves up from their slumber. Irene was stretching her arms and legs on the couch while Aiden began walking towards the dining table.
Both Irene and Aiden gave their morning greetings simultaneously. Their heads hung while rubbing their eyes.
Did they do think or something? thought Alice in amazement.
Alice and Jayce returned their morning greetings and brought their attention back to the kitchen. Alice resumed watching Jayce brewing her coffee in the kitchen.
“Yes?” Jayce paused his work as he was about to pour hot water over the filter filled with grounded coffee beans.
“It’s n-nothing.” She raised both hands and waved them.
“If you say so.”
Slowly, he poured hot water into the coffee filter. The smell of roasted coffee travelled across the room. Everyone’s mind became sharper and focused on the process. Irene and Aiden stood up and rushed their way to the dining table.
Guess I have to make another two cups of coffee then.
When the brewing completed, he prepared three cups with saucers of their own and added an aqua-coloured herb to the saucers.
Everyone, except Jayce, drank coffee sometimes, mostly during breakfast and lunch. Alice hadn’t learned the ways of brewing coffee, but she enjoyed watching Jayce concocting it. It felt relaxing to hear the coffee beans being ground and nice to see the ingredients utilized to their full potential.
In Alice’s experience, when it came to coffee, she preferred Jayce’s. Every cup of coffee he had brought to the table had a unique taste and presentation. The level of bitterness was just right. It was as if they were adjusted under the season and her mood.
“What’s this?” asked Alice, her eyes turned into glimmering stars. Curiosity began to seep into her mind. Herbal leaves were rarely mixed with coffee, and, in most cases, they didn’t go well together as a beverage.
“This herb increases the potency of the coffee.” Jayce went over to the sink to clean the kitchenware and utensils. “Give it a try.”
Alice brought the beverages to the dining table for Aiden, Irene and herself and took a seat across Irene. They lifted the cup, blew it gently to cool for a bit then took a sip.
“Is it too bitter?” asked Jayce.
“No. It’s perfect.” After tasting it, she added a herb to her drink and tasted it. Her eyes went wide. Caffeine spiked through the chart within her body. Her heart rate began to increase, and her cheeks turned red. “T-this is… delicious.” She lifted her gaze and looked across the table. Aiden and Irene both had a similar reaction, but in Aiden’s case, his jaw was dropped.
The herb was found in a mountain cave at Thief Village, located in the western part of the country. This herb was mainly used to brew antidotes. However, Jayce had gone through a few tests with it, which led him to conclude that it increased the caffeine level of any coffee. He rarely drank coffee as it made him feel drowsy, although it did help him get to bed whenever he needed it.
“Sorry for the wait,” said Jayce when he arrived at the table.
Everyone always waited for each other to arrive before eating their meals. Jayce kept telling them to start without him. He wouldn’t want the foods he had prepared to go cold on them. He wanted them to enjoy their meals. Unfortunately, his guild members were stubborn enough to not listen to Jayce even though he was their guild leader. He didn’t say that aloud, as that could also be said to him as well when it came to his reckless fighting style.
““Thanks for the meal!””
Jayce was expressionless most of the time, but looking at the scene where everyone in his guild enjoyed his food made him smile from the inside. Irene and Aiden were fixated on their breakfast. Alice realized Jayce was smiling at the spectacle on the table.When Irene and Aiden joined their guild, Jayce didn’t show his emotions much lately. Alice speculated he wasn’t fooling around, so he could give orders that would save their lives when situations call for it.