Rainer sat around a fire while he happily munched on a piece of beef jerky. For someone who grew up wealthy on Earth, this type of jerky would be hard for him to even look at had he not been utterly starving. Life was, of course, a relative affair. Even if his roughly two days or so of not eating weren’t exactly what you’d call starved compared to other situations. To Rainer? Death encroached upon him.
Perhaps it's what led him to be more predisposed towards liking Luna, as talking with her kept him well distracted. He couldn’t picture her not being in his pocket or not his familiar.
Rainer had been invited to camp with the Winter’s Guardians, a group of monster hunters led by the man who had thanked Rainer for his assistance. Leaf, he was simply called, a surname being a rare thing.
The cordial attitude had been dropped to a degree after Rainer explained he ran away from home. Mages of any strength were often of a high status here as Rainer could discern from their attitudes.
He had needed to claim that after he asked to eat a monster’s meat right away, something that would assuredly sicken him if not outright kill. He, for now, wanted to keep up the deception that he had a high background. It’d also mean they’d bother him less and treat him better, though that didn’t seem to work for everyone...
“To think you didn’t even know not to eat a monster without taking months to treat the meat, what do they teach ya mages nowadays?”
Leaf said jokingly to Rainer while the rest of the group nervously watched. The cordial attitude had really only been dropped by a single person. Though in the case of the Wolfkin, who didn’t particularly pay attention to anything but her blades, it had never been there in the first place.
Leaf looked to be around 30 years of age and was a level 3 [Warrior]. His armor was a mix of fur and leather. He carried a spear by his side, though now it laid with other equipment. His blond hair was cut short and he had a beard a few inches long.
“Oh? Since when was becoming a mage such an easy thing that I’d have time for such trivialities.”
“Trivialities you say? I’ll never understand you magic types.”
“Is this not all the understanding we need?” Rainer said as he lifted up a canteen filled with mead.
“Aye, it is.” Leaf had said in agreement.
Rainer drank from the canteen doing his best not cough or gag. He had drunk cheap liquor before, but this was beyond anything he had.
Alas, he was incapable of pretending to such a degree. Though he convinced himself that with his failure it would fit in with his character story, true or not. He coughed uncontrollably as if he was a boy getting his first sip of alcohol, to the hidden enjoyment of the people around him.
“Lad I even gave you the nicer stuff, what kind of drink you used to?” Leaf spoke, doing his best with his words intermixed with laughter. Many of the Winter’s Guardians struggled to keep their laughter down not as comfortable with being lax around Lord Magus as Leaf was.
“This is the nicer stuff? What kind of prank is this? And all of you if you’re going to laugh, laugh aloud. If your goal was to avoid offending your Lord Magus you giggling like little girls isn’t a solution.”
Immediately a [Hunter] with long brown hair spoke up. “Us giggling like little girls? My little daughter could hold down a drink better than you.”
There was a moment's pause before following Rainer’s laughter the rest joined in.
“There’s no need to brag about what a floozy your daughter is Erik.” replied another to the continued laughter of everyone.
A few hours of drinking later and the camp returned to its ordinary form. Leaf had gone off to speak with another member and Rainer gazed out towards the Wolfkin now practicing sword forms.
Though he was soon interrupted by a returned Leaf.
“You’re welcome to try lad, but don’t take it out on her when she inevitably says no. You shouldn’t judge a girl by her dress. She might just end up cutting off something of value.”
“Inevitably...well now you make me want to try.”
“Hooh? So you were just sneaking a glance then?” He asked with an annoying smirk on his face.
“No, I’m interested in her blades and her technique with them.” He said not engaging.
Rainer couldn’t deny she was beautiful. Her long black hair was tied in a ponytail with two parts in the front hanging down tied with amber rings. Bright golden eyes that had a slight glow as the sun went down. And then there were her black wolf ears and a furry tail that seemed to beg you to touch it, though clearly, that was a poor idea. It was certainly hard to ignore as someone from another world...
But, he had never been the type to think using his male member. In the first place, this was a medieval world as far as Rainer could tell. If he wanted to entertain himself, he’d go pay for it. Mana made him immune to most ailments in any case.
His study towards becoming a powerful mage lead him here. While he wouldn’t mind romantic company on the journey, it wasn’t a priority nor did it fill his mind.
He was solely interested in her blade style. More importantly, was the buff that was on her blades. He guessed it came from a skill of hers. Rainer was confused a bit, however, as there were no traces of mana coming from her. She did give a similar feeling to Gognar, as much as he tried to ignore it.
[Steel Blade: A blade made of steel. Buff: Supreme Lightness]
Rainer had some desire in learning a skill for his [Arcane Blade] so that he could use it more properly but he came across a large problem, it had no weight. A normal skill might actually make the [Arcane Blade] less effective. In fact, that had been one of his largest complaints about a certain space opera. You can’t use a weightless blade so similar to a normal one no matter how entertaining it looked.
First, there's obviously no weight, so most blade forms and training are actually pretty useless if he wished to fully utilize the fact it was weightless. Fencing might have some use but would require far more training to accurately stab and kill something. He knew the amount of luck involved when he killed that mage.
Rainer also wouldn’t be fighting others with magical energy blades, so there wouldn’t be any blades clashing in almost all cases. If the opponent had a blade that could block his Arcane energy? He’s most certainly not going to fight them head on, such was an advantage of [Appraisal]. He'd also need to test his [Arcane Blade]'s effectiveness on various metals first to use it fully.
“A mage who can practically fell a strong monster with a casual spell wishes to use a blade? You’ll have to try a bit harder than that. I thought you mages in your towers and guilds would be spending all day getting a good fuck and would have experience with proper wooing. Were you left out?” Leaf spoke with an even more shit-eating grin.
As he already revealed his Arcane Magic and still lacked enough other spells to hide it anyways, Rainer held his hand straight into the air for a little demonstration.
From his fingertips, Arcane energy began gathering and within a moment a 3 foot [Arcane Blade] jutted from his hand. There was a significant difference in the Arcane energy in the blade versus the bolt. It was in its unleashed form not tied by a Rune for containment. Even those inebriated grew slightly sober as the entire camp felt and stared at the energy of the blade. Rainer poured in more Arcane Energy remembering the grin on Leaf’s face.
Non-mages and those without the trained skill couldn’t really sense magic or mana in most cases. If they could sense it despite that...they knew to be afraid.
The violent Arcane energy crackled as it seemed to distort the space around it. Rainer stood carefully and walked back towards a tree. With an effortless swing, the tree fell as if no resistance was met.
Rainer couldn’t help but let out a content smile when he saw two messages.
[Arcane Blade has leveled up to level 2]
[14% Experience Gained]
He hadn’t used [Arcane Blade] too many times but like with [Candle Flame] when he incorporated the manipulation of energy into the spell, it seemed to give it a boost in leveling. That, and his 300% increase to Arcane spells and skills.
He canceled the spell and turned around. He had overdone a bit.
Even the relaxed Leaf seemed to be on edge, sweat pouring down his brow. Rainer also heard a small voice in his pocket lecture him out of earshot from everyone else.
“Rainer, if you use Arcane Energy like that you’ll wake up Luna.”
Heading back, Rainer decided just to treat it like it wasn’t a big deal.
“So, believe me now?” Rainer spoke while mimicking Leaf’s previous grin.
The comment seemed to defuse the tension, though, unbeknownst to Rainer, the wolfkin still stared at him deeply.
A calmer Leaf whistled slightly before he responded.
“Guess it was a mistake to underestimate ya after you took care of that boar so easy.”
Seeing the relaxed words, the rest returned to their own conversations.
“Well she is her own person and ya are free to ask lad, but I do not…”
“I will train you. In exchange, you’ll accompany us. You may call this one Kara.” She simply said and then just walked away. While quiet, her voice had a powerful quality to it.
Rainer could only stare at her tail as she walked away. Her actual tail as it moved side to side.
“I assume she means come with us to a recently opened unconquered dungeon, but I don’t see how that's possible.”
Hearing this Rainer got even more excited. He would get to go to his first dungeon and get a skill to properly wield his [Arcane Blade], the situation couldn’t be more perfect.
“Why’s that not possible?” He asked hoping it was something simple related to his status as a Lord Magus. Which he’d then reveal the truth.
“It's a Rank 1 Dungeon.” Leaf answered.
“Don’t tell me you don’t know this either?” He asked surprised. “Damn strange mages what are they teaching you. No wonder you had to run away, who in their right mind would let you out in this world?” he mumbled right after.
“You need to be below level 10 to enter a rank 1 dungeon. So I’m sorry lad but you…”
“I’m level 6.” Rainer quickly said while being confused as Luna had mentioned most would underestimate him due to his mana level, not the other way around. He was unaware that most could not sense mana levels.
“definitely can’t go.” Leaf said not yet registering what Rainer had said before he stuttered out a few more words.
“Level 6?...Level 6? This is not a joke?”
“Not at all.”
Strangely Leaf began to nervously look around as if he searched for something in the woods around them.
“Well looks like I’ll be traveling with you for while so take food expenses and what you need out of my share of the boar. I’ll go to sleep,” Rainer said and walked towards the tent they had arranged for him. He dimmed his armed [Arcane Bolts] but still kept them active. He already mentioned for others to be careful when waking him up since they responded to hostile intent.
He laid down in his tent thankful for the warmth of his clothes.
Closing his eyes, Rainer rethought his plans. He wanted to meet other mages and learn new magic but now he ran into a problem with how high the status of mages seemed to be. He already expected he’d have to trade for the information but now, he didn’t think it’d be such an easy transaction.
If a mage’s status was high then spells would likely be guarded or be under stringent conditions to gain knowledge of. He would need to improve his level and reach level 10 at the very least before he pursued that route. Perhaps he might even need to wait till his second tier class, though he’d like some new spells for that quest Luna claimed was a high difficulty.
He clicked his tongue as the thought of Gognar surfaced in his mind. Learning the preciousness of magic in this world, he became even angrier at having to leave behind that powerful mage’s notes.
Just as he was about to try and fall asleep, he awoke to Luna poking him in the cheek.
“So, you’re going to a dungeon Rainer?” Luna whispered.
Rainer frowned a bit at how important it was for this loud and talkative fairy to not be found. Not because he was unhappy with her, rather what exactly would people do to her if they discovered her? What kind of situation could then force her to leave the safety of home? Rainer tried his best to hide the anger on his face, still riled up as well from losing those notes. Whatever it was, Luna didn’t consider him trustworthy or strong enough to handle it. He’d change that.
Unfortunately, Luna assumed he was angry at her.
“Luna is sorry she woke Rainer, but Luna has some important things to say.”
Getting out of his thoughts Rainer responded quickly.
“Luna, I’m not mad at you for helping me, it's alright, go on.”
“Ah, well Luna was listening. Listening only because Luna wishes to help Rainer. Not because Rainer kept staring at that golden-eyed harlot. Not at all.”
Rainer coughed a bit hoping to get her back on track.
“So as Luna was saying Luna will explain dungeons a bit, so Rainer doesn’t look so silly again.”
“Your timing is impeccable as always.” He said sarcastically.
“Yep, it's good Rainer understands Luna’s talents.”
“Luna thinks it's important to know why these weak people are even going to it. It's because the dungeon is uncleared as well as new. In dungeons monster’s Exp very small, rewards are very difficult to acquire. But.”
“If no one has ever beaten dungeon and if Rainer beats any of the bosses of the dungeon for first time before anyone, there is a big pioneer reward.”
Rainer previously grew a bit discouraged at hearing her first point but now the flame had been relit.
“Then if we beat the whole dungeon first?”
“Very very good rewards, good title too. Though there are many unbeaten dungeons, the difference Luna says is that they are unbeaten because of special difficulty. Here…”
“It's recently discovered, so it's simply unbeaten due to a lack of time, it may even be relatively easy.” Rainer quickly answered.
“Is what Luna was going say. Rainer always takes Luna’s thunder.”
“Like when?” He asked unable to keep a smile off his face.
“Always Luna says.”
“Yep.” She said while nodding her head with a smile on her face.
“Good night, Luna.”
“Good night, Rainer.” She said before comfortably snuggling back into his pocket.
He set up [Sleep Learning] for now deciding against leveling any magical skills or spells and missing out on experience. He instead focused elsewhere. Prior to falling asleep Rainer contemplated how exactly he'd greet those at her home when the time came...
Still outside where he had been talking to Rainer, Leaf paused for a while. What the hell...he couldn’t help but think to himself sometime after Rainer went to his tent.
If this lad is seriously level 6, we might have gotten in some trouble here.
The reason he had been looking out into the woods was that he couldn’t believe any Mage guild, Mage Clan, or Kingdom would allow such an asset to ‘run away’. They may have let him believe as such, but guards would most certainly follow. And with the high mortality rate in even the weakest of dungeons, what did that mean if he died in there for them? More importantly their families…
Everyone in the Winter’s Guardians knew the odds. Even without Kara in their group, they were all more than willing to take the risk. All of the group had left their families knowing they may not return. Even still, their original reasons for training all these years, for becoming Monster Hunters, could be accomplished in a single uncleared dungeon. But, instead of them just dying in the dungeon if they became the reason such a talented mage perished, that could mean their entire families being killed in retribution.
Level 6...Once more Leaf repeated it in his mind. He had sworn that the mage in front of him had been at least level 10 when he first saw him. Hence why all of the Winter’s Guardians acted with such respect. After that frightening energy and blade of his? 15, if not more. A mage’s status was one thing, but such a young level 15 mage was undoubtedly a figure of even higher status. But if he was level 6, that was astounding beyond original belief. It would significantly easier for such a mage to reach a higher level, and by then how powerful would he be?
Kara must have guessed near his true level somehow. Her senses have always astounded me. I hope the lad really only wanted her to train him. He seems decent enough…
We already have enough issues from when she mercilessly rejected that noble a few weeks ago. She could have just lied and said she was taken...
Walking back to his own tent, Leaf had decided he’d discuss it with Rainer when they reached the dungeon’s entrance. With the thought that if Rainer had some guards following, they should stop him before he entered.
But, if they really could bring him with them, perhaps this would be the moment they had been waiting for all their lives. With this hopeful idea, Leaf went happily to bed leaving the two chosen group members on night-watch.