CHAPTER 7(SIDE STORY): Wherever You Are
2 weeks passed since our escape, the journey was long and dangerous, but Ophelia, Olivia, and Hayden were strong, they synergized with each other, just watching them fight through the obstacles we passed shows that they have worked with each other for many years.
Olivia initiates the fight using Shadow Shift, a skill exclusive to those who have an affinity to Dark attribute Mana. She momentarily becomes one with her shadow traveling fast and flanking groups of monsters, Hayden’s wolves joined her in the shadows helping her in her assassinations while Hayden snipes the monsters from afar. Only a few monsters get close to Hayden but even if that happens Ophelia helps defend the backline and annihilates everything in sight and the wolves can get back to protect Hayden in a blink of an eye if he ever feels in danger.
Olivia utilizes 2 sets of daggers, the Lethality blades, a pair of daggers with a tint of red hue on its blades, she uses these blades for monsters who have low defensive capabilities. The Shadow Daggers, a pair of daggers Olivia can manifest at any given time, which she uses for stronger opponents with armored skin. Hayden on the other hand uses the Dark bow and Shadow Arrows, arrows that work similarly to Olivia’s Shadow Daggers.
So far, we haven’t made any close calls and we can hunt for food just fine, occasionally we encounter Winter Treants, Dire Wolves, and White-furred Giant Rabbits but they are low-ranking monsters that are easy to deal with.
The wolves also help us guard the group, they’re both strong and dependable, these 2 are so strong, I think they can beat a Lyquican together, I think… From the short time we’ve been together I’ve been depending on these 2 and I was able to learn that they both have names.
Leslie was the wolf that always stayed on the right side of Hayden and Samson was always on the left. Hayden couldn’t explain how he can tell which one’s which when they’re not by his side, I guess they are just that close, being able to tell them apart from each other. Both wolves became comfortable with me, and whenever I sleep, they’re both lying beside me, as if to try to ease my worries, once I woke up earlier than usual and felt that they both snuggle up to me.
During the last 2 weeks, I’ve seen more of the world I lived in, the forest was dense, thick dead trees mixed with fur trees surround our surroundings, thick roots surfaced the snow-filled ground, occasionally we would run into animals commonly seen during cold climates, deers gallop from the distance, wary of predators and easily evaded the roots I kept tripping on. The roots of the trees were huge and can be seen everywhere, one wrong step and you’ll trip and fall, because of this, we carefully traversed the Archean Grove.
The forest was never silent, anyone could hear the chirps, footsteps, and growls of everything that lived in the forest, you can hear the painful and loud cries of prey hunted by the predator that lurked within the forest.
We traveled for 11 days and finally reached the end of the forest, we were exhausted, barely able to get enough sleep, taking turns on who will stay and guard the others while they sleep, but thankfully no one got fatally injured.
After getting out of the forest, I saw a field of snow, all of this happened during the winter, so seeing a field of snow was not that surprising. Mountains were barely visible on the horizon, even though traveling through the snowy forest had been difficult it was easier on the field where there were no roots hidden beneath the snow for you to trip on and there are little to no places for monsters to hide and ambush us.
3 days went by in a flash, and we arrived at the foot of a mountain, patches of snow covered the earth the formed the mountain, it wasn’t a steep climb so I was confident I won’t tire easily. It was already late in the afternoon when we arrived, and we decided to rest and wait until tomorrow morning to climb the mountain.
Olivia deemed it was a safe location to finally begin our training, I decided to become a Shadow Assassin to become more independent, not relying on someone else to do the hard work but also, I’m not confident that I could pull off being an archer, so now I’m learning from Olivia.
She’s teaching me the basics, shifting from mage class to rogue class will be difficult but I’m determined to protect the people I care about.
“Ophelia-san can you teach me the ways of magic?” Mary asked Ophelia, bowing deeply. Before continuing “Right now, I’m a B rank Weapon Master and I want to follow the footsteps my late husband left behind and become an A rank Weapon Elementalist, I might not be able to become a Weapon God just like Griffin but at least becoming a Weapon Elementalist would allow me to protect our family.” I was surprised by the way she looked at Ophelia not looking anywhere else, just straight at her eyes.
I never knew my mother had an affinity for magic, but she did told us a story when Griffin taught her how to fight. I never knew why she let go of her sword though.
“Because of my fear of holding the sword I couldn’t do
anything for you nor our children during the attack, I want to be able to
protect both my children and right now all I can do is get stronger. Would you
“Learning magic will not be easy, and on top of that, I’m sure that you’ve become rusty over the years of not picking up a sword. I’m strict when I’m teaching but… I am willing to mentor you.”
Seeing my mother determined, inspired me to focus on learning, also determined.
I’m not going to fall behind my mother now.
Olivia brought me to a different location from where Ophelia was teaching my mother to avoid distractions from each other. A low frozen waterfall came from the mountain into a small pond, a single fur tree grew beside it, we stood on top of a flat surface, absent of snow.
Olivia first taught me the difference between Ki and Mana.
“Before you start slashing with a dagger you first need to know the difference between Ki and Mana.
Mana is the energy in our surroundings which we manipulate to create magic however, Ki is the energy within our body that we manipulate to improve our physical abilities, furthermore, rogue class adventurers utilize both Mana and Ki, because of this Rogue Class adventurers are versatile and unpredictable.”
Olivia gave me a dagger and asked me to solely focus on the energy within my body and use it to envelop the dagger with shadow magic while swinging the dagger. She said that by doing this, it should be easier for me since I’m already a magic caster. It took me the whole day and I still couldn’t produce a puff of shadow magic, I felt worse about myself but Olivia told me that swinging the dagger with vigor is enough progress, that no one can learn anything like this in one day. Olivia also mentioned that it took her 3 years to fully envelop her dagger.
Evening came and we started eating, I noticed that my mother was equally, maybe more exhausted than me from training and after we ate, we went to bed, well, they did, while I trained the whole night.
I wasn’t alone though both Sam and Les were watching me, laid down beneath the nearby tree, cuddling with each other as they both keep watch for the night. It was safe enough that no one stayed up to keep watch for the night and everyone trusted both, Sam and Les to keep our group safe.
Morning came and I still couldn’t produce a spec of shadow magic, I certainly felt like trash reflecting that I didn’t do anything productive, but I can’t get down now, I need to focus on becoming strong for my brother!
[I’ll protect you from harm, just like how my big brother did for me.]
After everyone woke up, we ate our breakfast and climbed the mountain. Midway through climbing, I was able to see the vast terrain from which we came from, on the horizon I can barely see the village, but I only felt pain looking at it, still smoking from the fires that engulfed it.
The snowy terrain was vast, white snow can be seen as far as my eyes can see, the cold air biting my skin. I know Earth is somewhat the same as this world but while I live on Earth, I never got the chance to see snow, even though our family is Japanese we actually live in the Philippines a place winter can never happen, and also our religion is Catholic, different from Buddhism which is the religion in Japan.
As we reached the top of the mountain, the same dead trees can be seen, but at the top, there was something different about it. A strange woman came out of nowhere begging for help. Tattered thin clothes, violet lips, and pale white skin are what I’ve observed from her.
“HELP! MY SON! HE’S BEEN… HE GOT INJURED BY A WINTER ELK. HELP ME PLEASE”
“where’s your son right now?”
“he’s over there by the trees… I couldn’t see him the whole day, so looked all over the place and just a minute ago, I saw him lying unconscious please help my son. please!”
“Okay… okay. Just… lead the way ma’am”
“Thank you… thank you… follow me…”
We followed the desperate woman to her unconscious son, both wolves were weary and conscious about the situation, for some reason they don’t seem to trust the woman, I feel eerie as well, the setting of this place, the mountain, the dead trees, the dark sky, everything about this place and situation was off, the others were feeling it as well because they stayed even more focused than before.
We arrived at the designated place. A small wooden mountain cottage is where the woman lead us to, the place was disorganized, with a large hole where one can easily pass through was on the right side of the cottage, the structure was about to fall apart seeing as it is an old structure and one can easily comprehend that no one lived there for years.
“Umm… there’s no one here?”
In the confusion, smoke began to envelop almost the whole mountain, men suddenly jump out of their hiding places, Sam and Les helped defend everyone from the arrows fired by the bandits, Ophelia cast Aqua Sphere and Mary used the sword she randomly picked up from the village to deflect and help the wolves against the arrows of the bandits.
Hayden went into the Shadows and surfaced where it is safe to shoot. He went far and charged a powerful shot, he released the arrow and it went into the smoke. The smoke was cleared in an instant along with 5 bandits who were about to attack Mary.
The moment the smoke cleared Olivia emerged from the darkness, using her Shadow Daggers, mist flicker from the edges of her daggers, she swiftly dashed towards 3 bandits, moving in an acrobatic way, she leaps and backflips dodging the strikes, sweeps, arrows, and slashes of the bandits. She slid towards a single bandit sweeping her legs making the bandit fall on the ground and lose his balance. She decapitated the bandit’s head without wasted movements.
3 bandits remain in plain sight however, they managed to complete a large-scale magic spell, Eruption, a combination of fire, wind, and earth magic, creating a huge explosion of lava which deals significant damage. In a flash Olivia and the wolves jumped into their shadows, Ophelia, Mary, and I doubled the layers of the Aqua Sphere defending ourselves from the large scale attack, Ophelia then followed up with Muddy Barricade, this spell is effective against explosions having no debris that can be blown away and cause injuries when the barricade gets blown away, this is why casters prefer using Muddy Barricade against explosive spells like Eruption.
Eruption is a strong magic spell that not just anyone can fully master, and in this instance, 3 bandits simultaneously cast Eruption together, combining each other’s spell and doubling its damage. All spells collided with each other causing a huge explosion. Gushes of wind blew the snow and clouds away, the spells we used to protect ourselves evaporated and were blown away in an instant. We tried to hold our ground together and also protect our eyes, thankfully Sam and Les helped me keep my balance by supporting me from behind. A full 5 seconds passed, smoke now cleared up, a crater was created from the explosion, snow pushed violently from the center from the pressure of the explosion.
Everyone was safe, Olivia and Hayden were together with us behind the protective sphere, however, Ophelia was the only one who suffered major burns on her palms as she tried to hold the spell from breaking apart, she held her hand close to her as much as possible, couldn’t bear the pain.
Mary treated her burns as much as she can, I also tried to help by creating some cold compress from ice magic to suppress the burning sensation. Mary although new to magic was able to help a bit by using the teachings from Ophelia and from when she was observing Sura and my training.
The remaining bandits were able to escape from the explosion, we don’t understand the reason for their ambush. There must be a reason! Was it for slavery, or something else? I don’t know, all I know was that they were skilled. And most likely to come and finished the job.
Now that Ophelia’s burns were treated, we went to our next destination, a small town near Snowfelt Mountain, where we would be able to exchange valuables and information we collected from our journey to cash and get ourselves a wagon which would help us throughout our journey moving forward to IronHolm.
The last remaining days were eventful, we hunted down elks for food, hide, and for their horns as well, as they can be exchanged for currency. We also walked for miles without rest, as a strong blizzard suddenly came out of nowhere. Ophelia, Mary, and I tried to stop the storm however, we were unable to, it was either a strong enough storm which we are unable to use magic or it was not a natural occurrence, which we stayed focused on for another possible ambush. After failing to suppress the storm we instead increased the temperature of the air surrounding us much more, the whole trip we have been taking turns creating warm air throughout our journey.
I never forget to think about my brother and the others, every day I am lost in my thoughts, eating my sanity away, anxious if I could one day see my brother again.
[I just hope that you are all safe, little brother… Wherever you are…]