Returning to the Inn and removing our armor, I found my left arm was covered in a large, purplish bruise. The bone wasn’t broken, and Heal had taken care of the damage and pain. Though it seems any blood lost from internal bleeding doesn’t simply vanish—I needed to get serious about raising my level in healing magic soon.
I couldn’t hide my bruise from Grace during dinner. I told her it was nothing to fret over, but she seemed quite worried all the same. As though trying to see how bad it was, she gently brushed her fingers along my left arm. That in itself had my pulse quickening, and I was unsure which was the bigger problem.
The next day we had promised to delve into the dungeon again with Sylvia and Clive, but it never happened. Clive needed to spend the day getting his shield and armor repaired. According to him, the attacks from the Gargoyles hadn’t caused much damage, but those from the Hunter Gargoyle had really bent things out of shape. As for my own gauntlet, a single blow from one Gargoyle had been able to damage it. I was certain Clive’s armor was of much better quality, but still, there was no way he got away without a scratch after battling the Hunter Gargoyle as he had.
Three days were needed to repair all of Clive’s armor.
It seemed like a long time, but actually the extra time was appreciated. Grace and I ended up going a short ways into the less visited dungeon to the north, so I could practice using magic.
I had brought two books, Learning the Various Attributes – Beginners and Magical Skills useful for Adventuring with me. As for fire-attribute and earth-attribute magic, as Grace could use them herself, I was able to master them rather quickly. I couldn’t manage anything other than Fireball and Wind Cutter yet, but if I strengthened those skills enough, I would be able to cast Flameball and Wind Storm eventually.
On the second day of practicing, I managed to master using Iceball and Rockball, and though Grace had already known, she was still blown away by how quickly I learned, and how versatile I was at being able to learn whatever I tried.
“There was a time—” Grace began, in a soft voice. “—it was said, where only someone called a Sage was able to master all six attributes, and healing magic. As for myself, I have never seen anyone who could use more than four. But Kei, you have learned to use the four basic attributes, along with non-attribute magic, enchanting and healing. I thought you had an affinity for magic, but this…you’re at a level now where you could easily go around calling yourself a Sage. ”
It may be I’ve learned four attributes, but it’s only the tip of the tip of what there is to know of each. Sure I was happy at Grace’s praise, but it was uncomfortable being labeled a Sage out of the blue like this.
I decided to set talk of Sages aside for the time being, and looked at my status…only to see the title Sage listed right there at the top. My class was still Enchanter, so I guess I could leave it alone for now, but still…
The third day was spent as I wanted; the entire day was devoted to a particular “experiment” I had in mind. Specifically, an experiment where I could test activating a magic spell upon two objects impacting each other.
During the fight with the Gargoyles, I had intercepted an attack with my left arm. My gauntlet had been equipped at the time, but still, had I managed to activate Magic Wall…I most likely would have come out of the encounter unscathed. Even so, I had forgotten to activate Magic Wall, and simply tried to block the attack with my left arm.
This had given me an idea. Could I perhaps activate Magic Wall automatically, when the gauntlet comes in contact with an enemy? With that goal in mind, I set about enchanting my gauntlet, performing test after test with Grace’s sword as the catalyst to self-activate the spell—
But no matter how many times we tried, it never seemed to go well, and I was nearly at my wit’s end.
At first I had difficulty in maintaining the magic, so the Magic Wall would activate before Grace’s blade touched; but once I figured out how to maintain the spell, I then suffered from having Magic Wall activate late, too long after Grace’s blade had already landed to be useful. Needless to say, I was struggling.
By the time I finally succeeded, the sun was already setting. Grace’s exhaustion was written all over her face, and in the end, she ended up getting me to promise repeatedly to go along with whatever training she wanted to do next time. I accepted readily; after all, being able to enchant items like this was a huge step forward.
The next day, after the three day reprieve, Grace and I met up with Sylvia and Clive at the Adventurer’s Guild. Clive’s armor looked a grade higher than when we had first met, with a bluish-white hue visibly surrounding it. Apparently, not only had he repaired his armor, but he had strengthened it as well. Asking how much it had cost him, Clive replied, grinning all the way, it had been over 30k Seldge, and the coin from the Gargoyles had really helped out.
On the other hand, Sylvia looked about the same as she had before, with the exception of a black, pointed hat resting atop her head. She said she purchased it with the coin from the Gargoyles too, but though she had only added a hat to her wardrobe, it did a lot to bring out even more of her well-endowed figure.
Examining the pointed hat, I saw that it not only increased one’s magic power, but also had the ability to resist negative mental effects such as Confusion and Sleep. I had no idea how she thought about money, and I wasn’t going to start now by asking her how much the hat had cost—
Before the four of us descended into the dungeon, we decided that first, we should try and gather any new information from the adventurer’s guild we could. Like with the issue about how many people were in a party, we needed to know about anything related to the dungeon, or there might be trouble when we tried to enter. In order to keep that from happening, it was imperative we were fully informed.
“—Dark Elves, you said?” Sylvia repeated the steward’s words. The information we got from the guild with the most impact, was about the Dark Elves. There had been numerous sightings of Dark Elves in the dungeon currently being cleared.
I had learned this before, but tribal races, beast-men and monsters all had different roots. Tribal races and beast-men were living beings, while monsters were coagulated masses of raw magic, with soultokens. Tribal races and beast-men would die if defeated, while monsters dissipated.
Furthermore, monsters were born in dungeons, with their movements limited by the bounds of the dungeon. Tribal races and beast-men did not have this limitation. So to have numerous sightings of dark elves, which were classified as tribal races, in the dungeon, seemed to be quite the oddity.
“Dark Elves are a dangerous race. They have high intelligence, and can use magic. Among the magics they can use is one that allows them to disappear from sight; so you need to be careful about stealth attacks from behind.” Grace said, as she explained about the Dark Elves. Maybe it was because of all the manga and anime, but when I think of Dark Elves as sexy female characters. But thinking back on everything Grace had said about them, there was one point that was the same.
“A high level of intelligence, can use magic, and attack stealthily from behind—Dark Elves sound a lot like you—”
Grinning, I looked towards Grace, only to see she was glaring at me coldly.
Just then Sylvia jumped in, adding fuel to the fire, completely oblivious to my suddenly stiff expression.
“Ahaha! You’re right, and even their breasts are huge like Grace’s—!” The killing intent filling the room cause Sylvia and I to go absolutely still.
The four of us went directly from the Adventurer’s Guild to the dungeon. Apart from the talk about seeing Dark Elves, there was nothing else major worth noting. And sadly, Grace’s mood never improved during the entire trip to the dungeon.
Arriving at the entrance to the dungeon, I saw one of the Guild’s stewards, standing outside as always. I tried asking him about the Dark Elves, but he said he had never heard any such talk before. I wasn’t sure if the information had yet to arrive, or if the information at the guild was false. But there was no reason to let my guard down either way—
After finishing up the enchantments, we descended into the dungeon. Everyone was tense; as you would expect after hearing all we did about the Dark Elves.
“Kei, you wouldn’t be able to see Dark Elves if they were invisible, would you?” Sylvia asked. It seemed they all had the idea I was able to see things they could not, and they weren’t far off.
“—I wonder. At the very least, I was able to see the Gargoyles, and if I tried, I should be able to see what’s on the other side of a wall, but—”
“—That’s just wrong—” Sylvia said while smiling sourly.
We proceeded down a different route than we had taken four days earlier, but nothing particularly dangerous revealed itself. We never even came across a door locked by magic.
Perhaps it was because of how wary she was about coming across Dark Elves, but Grace’s pace as she led was slower than before, but we still managed to reach the fourth floor shortly after noon.
There had been very few serious fights; we had mainly only come across Goblins or Orcs. We never saw any monsters that could use magic, or came across any groups that had a leader.
“—Alright, how about we stop for lunch here?” I said to the other three. All of us were mentally exhausted, thanks to the information from the Adventurer’s Guild. Especially Grace, who had been at the front scouting this whole time.
Almost without thinking, we sat down in a tight circle. In order for everyone to see anything approaching behind someone else. Across from myself, Clive had seated himself.
As I watched him, I noticed there was something like a pocket-watch hanging from a chain around his neck.
“—Hmm? Oh, this?” Seeming to have noticed where I was staring, Clive lifted the watch in one hand.
“It’s nothing, I was just a little curious. —Is it something important?” I asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
I had tried to avoid asking Sylvia or Clive about their pasts until now, and, come to think of it, I had not delved into Grace’s either. After all, I had always felt that when the time came to talk about such things, the conversation should be initiated by someone who was going to talk about their own past. After all, I was blocked from talking about my own past due to Clancy’s Limitation, which made it feel like a breach of etiquette to ask someone about themselves while I was unable to talk about myself.
As though he was of the same mindset, Clive began to talk about the watch.
“—Before I grouped up with Sylvia, I was part of this other group. We had been together for around two years, which I think is a pretty long time. But one time, I was unable to maintain aggro for a raid, and ended up seriously damaging the group.” Grace and Sylvia had grown quiet at the heaviness of the conversation, but Clive continued.
“This watch is all I have left of those who died. Every time I look at it, I remind myself that I will never let my friends die before me like that again.” Clive tightened his grip on the watch, and smiled sadly.
“So that’s why you left the group…”
“No, actually I continued with the remaining members for a while after that. But the other day, all of a sudden there was this higher level Tank in the group, and…” As Clive trailed off, Sylvia exploded.
“What the hell!? It’s not like your friends dying was your fault alone, right? And they just up and threw you away like you were nothing!?” Clive tried to calm her down.
“Everyone’s fighting for their lives out there, so it’s nothing to get worked up about. I don’t hate them for it or anything. —Only, I did ask if I could keep the watch, as there’s an unforgettable memory tied to it—” Clive finished, looking gently down at the watch. Maybe one of those that died was a girl Clive had cared about deeply? His eyes seemed to say that.
Suddenly, I was drawn in by something I saw in the watch. Not that much time had passed, but for some reason the watch’s long hand had moved forward considerably.
Noticing my stare, Clive explained.
“—This watch is apparently a magic item, and it doesn’t need to be wound or anything…but it doesn’t seem to work like a regular watch.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, the hands move much faster than a normal watch. And if you wind the dial on the side, you can change how long it takes for the hands to make a complete revolution—”
Hearing that, a certain thought popped into my head.
“—Clive, did that watch used to belong to a woman?” At my question Clive seemed to believe I had figured out the watch’s previous owner had been a girl he had cared for, as he responded with ears gone bright red.
“—Well, yeah. I’m surprised you noticed.” Hearing Clive reply so, I followed with another question.
“Were they especially good at cooking?”
“—! Kei, that’s amazing. I don’t know about how skilled she was, but she did love cooking; there were a number of times we feasted on what she made for us. —How did you know?”
Clive really seemed to be surprised at my deduction. Instead, I swallowed hard, keeping silent. I couldn’t tell him.
Clive, that isn’t a pocket watch—It’s a kitchen timer.
Well guys, somehow I managed to get this one out quicker than usual. I hope you enjoyed the read. We got a little bittersweet story about our man Clive, and I enjoyed learning more about the man.
If you enjoyed the chapter, leave a comment or hit one of the below icons expressing your mood! I read all your comments, even if I don’t have time to respond as much as I’d like. So much positivity! 🙂
Be looking forward to the next chapter, and if you have a free moment consider jumping on DISCORD to chat, or w/e. Happy reading!
PS: Influenza is fully healed. I’ve just got a small stuffy nose to deal with.