A Budding Scientist in a Fantasy World

Chương 158: Chapter 152

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“So we’re leaving Cyra soon?” asked Alice.

Ethan nodded. “With the supply lines for enchanting materials established, everything in Cyra seems to be moving in the right direction. I think it’s time to go.”

Alice nodded. To be honest, she felt a bit of relief at the idea of leaving Cyra and returning to Metsel soon. The idea that large numbers of monsters were now active in the world and were moving around in large, organized hordes set her nerves on edge. Alice was pretty sure she would be safe, even if an organized monster horde attacked Cyra, since Ethan would protect her.

But that definitely wasn’t guaranteed. The battle she and Ethan had taken part in when they had attacked the Society base all those months ago, as well the Society’s attack on Ethan’s manor, had served to remind Alice of a very important fact. No matter how impressive Immortals might be, they weren’t invincible. They were very powerful, and fighting them was incredibly difficult. But they weren’t omnipotent, and even if Alice was under the protection of Ethan, she could still die. Especially if an army of sapient, Perk-wielding monsters lay siege to their group while travelling back to Metsel, or if a horde of monsters broke into Cyra.

She would rather be back in Metsel before things got even more dangerous. The capital had much sturdier defenses than Cyra, and Alice intended to hide in the capital for as long as possible before leaving again. Things were just getting too dangerous for her comfort right now.

“How long until we leave?” she asked.

“A few days, probably,” said Ethan. “I would like to spend another day or two making sure the next few groups of [Adventurers] safely harvest the tree bark and then return, and I would like to wait around until the ranches that are cooperating with us are confirmed to have their [Guards] set up. I believe the [Guards] I helped the ranch owners get in contact with should be enough to keep things under control, but I’d like to spend a few more days making sure that the ranches can fend off weaker monster invasions, at least. It would also be good to see what the first batch of test products from the ranches look like, if we can afford to stick around that long. After that, I think we should return,” said Ethan. “Why? Eager to get back to Metsel?”

“It just seems safer.”

Ethan chuckled. “I suppose that’s true. I don’t think we’ll get unlucky enough to run into a second intelligent monster horde, since the majority of monsters seem unchanged so far. But we don’t know much about the situation yet, and there’s no need to take chances.”

Then, Ethan’s gaze turned a bit more serious.

“But make sure to pay attention when we move back to Metsel. We don’t know enough about the monsters to know if they hold grudges. If they do, the group that attached Cyra and escaped last week might track us down and attack us. The Society could also make another move. They haven’t done anything recently, and I’m starting to get a bit nervous about them. Be ready for something to go wrong during the journey back to Metsel.”

Alice nodded.

“Well then, let’s let Illa know when we’ll be leaving soon. Say goodbye to anyone you’ll miss in Cyra, and be ready to leave in a few days.”

* * *

Murim, Illvaria’s sixth Immortal, stared at the land in front of him and scratched his respectable beard in thought.

The land was… wrong. It wasn’t just a little bit messed up, the way the greater monsters sometimes created shattered, broken landmasses as they fought each other in the deep wilderness of the south. Instead, the land was wrong as if the very world itself had broken somehow. Fragments of land floated in the air like bits of water spilled from a giant’s cup, caught in the middle of falling to the earth. Patches of water flowed upriver instead of downstream, as if gravity had decided to turn itself off in the area. The land itself occasionally flickered and distorted, tangling and untangling itself like a ball of yarn being played with by a cat. Anytime Murim wasn’t looking at a particular patch of land, he would sometimes notice that the world had… shifted when he wasn’t looking at it. That, more than anything else, set Murim’s teeth on edge. As an [Explorer], nothing made him more nervous than losing track of the area he was exploring.

 The mana in the area was also far, far denser than Murim had ever seen before, even this far south. The mana wastes were normally quite rich in mana – however, over the past week, the mana in the area had grown more and more dense, until now, it was perhaps four times more dense than it had been in the past. And the mana density was just increasing every day. Murim didn’t know if the mana density would stop growing eventually, but the mana was already dense enough to instantly start a mana baptism for a non-Mage without any Perks to protect them. The monsters hadn’t quite caught up to the new levels of mana yet, but Murim knew it was just a matter of time before this area became hundreds of times more dangerous than before.

Murim frowned. He was confident in his survival skills. As one of the highest level [Explorers] in the entire southern continent, he could escape or fight off most monsters. Of course, Murim had never dared to explore the western continent – he was interested in exploring, but he wasn’t suicidal. But he was confident that nobody had a better grasp of the mana wastes of the southern continent than him. He thrived in places where no other human had set foot before.

But the messed up, jumbled land and ridiculous mana density was different. Murim had never seen anything like this before.

Murim looked at the shifting landmasses and floating bits of rock, before shuddering.

Most landmasses had a certain kind of logic to them. Despite the incredible mana density of the south, despite the horrifying monsters that could rip apart squads of [Soldiers] in moments, and despite the totally unmapped pockets of messy terrain and mana in the south, the southernmost reaches of the continent had never seemed… unstable to Murim before. Dangerous, wild, and uncharted, yes, but everything had always felt logical to him. As long as he played by the rules and didn’t do anything stupid, he had always been confident that he could survive unhindered. But now, things just felt wrong to him.

Should he keep exploring anyway?

Part of Murim’s heart yearned to keep going. The rush of each new discovery was what drove him to keep pushing further. The thrill of outwitting monsters and discovering new sights that nobody had ever before witnessed, and perhaps nobody would for hundreds of years, brought him joy. It was a thrill that few people would understand, but Murim knew exactly how much he loved every single new sight and area that he came across.

And then, as Murim was debating exploring the far messier and less stable south, Murim heard an unearthly screeching in the distance. It didn’t even sound like a proper monster this time. It sounded like someone had taken most of the monsters in the world, stuck them into a mixing bowl, and then ground them all together to create the world’s most absurd and horrifying cacophony imaginable.

{Threat Detection} started blaring one of the greatest warnings Murim had ever felt, and he felt another shiver run down his spine.

He turned back north, away from the monster, and started sprinting forward as his stealth-related Perks snapped into place. As an Immortal with exceptional physical stats, he could run nonstop for hours on end before getting winded, and he could travel without sleep for days thanks to his high [Endurance].

What he had seen over the past few days piqued his curiosity. However, it also piqued his sense of caution. Murim didn’t want to die, and right now, he was starting to feel that whatever was happening in the mana wastes was sufficient to kill even an Immortal.

As he ran, he started to think about the last time he had been in Illvaria. It had been… perhaps a decade, now? Two decades?

He shook his head. It was easy to lose track, since he spent so much longer in the wilderness than he did in civilization.

But as much fun as he’d had exploring the untamed wilderness in the south, it was definitely time to hide out in the civilized lands again for a while. At the very least, Murim wanted to see if anyone had news about… whatever had gone horribly wrong in the past few weeks.

Murim just hoped that it hadn’t spread into the civilized lands of the southern continent. If the geography, gravity, and mana of the entire world itself was imploding, Murim wasn’t sure there would be anything to return to. Murim was looking forward to a nice mug of ale and some time with old friends once he returned to civilization, and he definitely didn’t want to find his homeland reduced to a pile of corpses and monsters, the way it had been after the war with the Sigmusi.

{Natural Cartographer} started to help him track all of the newly rearranged geographical features of the south, and {Resilient Explorer} helped him keep his footing, avoid danger, and survive the dangerous levels of mana as he travelled. As he walked, he noticed that the subtle shifting of the land when he wasn’t paying attention to it was worse than he had imagined. The path from his current location to the nearest Illvarian city kept changing every couple of hours. It was very subtle – but it looked almost like the nearest Illvarian city was changing locations every few minutes.

Or, perhaps, Murim’s location was changing ever so slightly every few minutes, or he was getting turned around as he walked. This idea unnerved Murim the most – his Perks should have made getting lost about as likely as jumping to the moon. An Immortal [Explorer] should not get turned around while moving – it was his area of expertise, and the idea that the land was confusing him pricked at his pride. But it also reaffirmed that Murim needed to leave the mana wastes right now, before the situation got even worse than it already was.

After nearly a day of running, Murim checked the time and the distance he had travelled, before nodding to himself. Even though the land was changing and he occasionally had to move around the territory of larger and more powerful monsters, he was still making good progress.

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At this rate, it wouldn’t be more than a week or two before he returned to Illvaria.

* * *

The last few days of Alice’s time in Cyra were dominated by reports, paperwork, and chaos, as she and Ethan tried to settle every problem related to monster ranches, tree bark transportation, and how to get everything shipped back to Metsel once they left the city. Ethan did most of the work – but since Ethan felt Alice was highly likely to reach Immortality, Alice had a very long, in-depth learning session about paperwork. It was… not very pleasant, although Alice was at least glad that she was starting to figure out how all of the forms were supposed to be filled out and submitted to the Illvarian bureaucracy. Something which, sadly, even Immortals had to deal with on a regular basis. Apparently, the magical-middle ages still had an abundance of annoying forms to fill out.

After several hours of paper-wrangling, Alice was pretty sure she had figured out how everything was supposed to be filled out, and Ethan had double-checked all of her work.

All of the [Guards] who were supposed to help defend the monster ranches had been arranged to head to the appropriate ranches, all of the money for ranchers successfully getting the materials that Alice and Ethan needed had been set aside for a few months, with forms filled out to get the crown to reimburse them and take over the payments later, and plans for how to get crates of materials up to Metsel and then delivered to Alice, Cecilia, and their Mages had also been finalized.

The first batch of materials from the monster ranchers had also come in, along with a few theories about what, precisely, made some spidercrabs into useful enchanting materials while others were effectively worthless. Apparently, the age of the spidercrab seemed to influence the spidercrab shell after its death. Younger spidercrabs would turn into useful enchanting materials for Alice’s purposes, while older ones did not. The spidercrab ranchers hadn’t pinned down an exact age range yet, but three of the four monster ranches seemed to have similar results so far. Which at least let Alice put one question to rest, although it also reminded Alice of how human children interacted with the System. It was not a comforting reminder.

After completing all of the paperwork, Alice also noticed that a completely new kind of mana had built up inside of her body. It was a very, very minor amount, and Alice had originally intended to simply convert it into another class’s kind of mana… until she found that she couldn’t.

It took Alice several minutes of careful probing before she realized that the new mana type seemed to be [Bureaucrat] mana, or perhaps [Administrator] mana. There were a lot of kinds of mana jumbled together, but all of them sounded fairly related to paperwork and government forms.

This revelation made Alice frown.

So far, she had found that she could convert similar kinds of mana into each other – [Kinetic Brawler] and [Kinetic Mage] mana could generally be converted into [Kinetic Manabinder] mana, and similarly, mana types for research-based classes could usually be converted into [Scientist], [Scholar], or [Explorer of Magic] mana without any issues. However, this was the first time Alice had confirmed that if a mana type was too different, it couldn’t be converted into another type of mana.

And regrettably, Alice didn’t have any Classes related to paperwork or bureaucracy. The closest Classes she had were [Courtier] and [Scholar], but [Courtier] was mostly related to the concept of comporting oneself as a [Noble] at parties and social events. Alice had checked through the Class’s known Perks, and most of them helped with things like dancing, etiquette, and conversations – there wasn’t much of a relationship with paperwork and forms. Similarly, [Scholar] was related to research, and was too far removed from ‘government forms’ for Alice to convert the [Bureaucrat] mana into [Scholar] mana.

In short, Alice needed to avoid doing things that were too different from her Classes until she found a way to fix class seed creation or boosted her ability to convert one form of mana into another.

The amount of mana that had built up inside of her body was tiny, so it wouldn’t have much of an effect on her. But it definitely sounded an alarm bell in Alice’s mind, letting her know that she needed to be careful in the future, and to make sure other people also knew what to avoid. She told Ethan about her discovery later so that he could handle disseminating the information, and Ethan had promised not to make her do paperwork until the System was fixed or class seeds had been repaired.

On their final day in Cyra, Illa hosted a small banquet to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments during their time in Cyra. Alice was also pretty sure Illa wanted to cement the fact that she was on speaking terms with an Immortal, and make sure that everyone in town knew it. But since Illa’s reputation was now also a critical part of the supply chain for resources Alice and Illvaria as a whole needed, Alice simply accepted it as a useful step forward.

Alice saw a few of the Mages who she had previously met during the expedition to the broken mana zone expedition show up to the banquet. She hadn’t seen most of them in months, ever since she had left from Cyra, and she also hadn’t thought about them very much. Her relationship with most of the Mages who attended the banquet could be described as ‘work colleagues,’ at absolute best. She didn’t know them very well. Apart from that, Milo and Father Friedheim were also in attendance, who Alice intended to spend most of the banquet with.

Alice’s {Etiquette} skill got a bit of a workout during the first half of the banquet, as she greeted and interacted with the Mages she was more familiar with and got to know a few of the newer faces in town. However, most of the Mages seemed more focused on Ethan than Alice herself – which suited Alice just fine. Most of the Mages present still made an effort to introduce themselves to her, but after that, they flocked towards Ethan, letting Alice hang out with Milo and Father Friedheim instead of trying to talk to people she barely knew.

By the end of the meeting, Alice had still leveled [Courtier] and {Etiquette}, much to her own surprise. She had expected [Courtier] to sit at level 1 for a very, very long time, considering how much she disliked parties and socializing with [Nobles].

You have leveled up!

Courtier: 1 -> 2


Through training, you have increased a skill!

Etiquette: 21 -> 22

Afterwards, the group departed from Cyra in the same boat they had come in.

The boat sailed unimpeded up the river for two days, while Alice and Cecilia got to work teaching the [Enchanters] as much as they could about the System-related magic seeds they wanted to popularize. Another Mage successfully formed a Display mana seed, meaning that it would be easier to start mass-producing the Status-Screen viewing rings once they arrived back in Metsel. The Mages were having a harder time grasping filtration mana, but Alice felt optimistic about one of the next few Mages being able to form a filtration magic seed. As long as even one of the [Enchanters] had a filtration magic seed, it would make her workload considerably easier in the future.

On the third day of the journey back towards Metsel, however, the boat slowed to a halt, because Ethan had spotted something that made the usually confident Immortal freeze.

“Alice,” he said. “Things are urgent. I think the Society, or the Sigmusi Colonia, has sent multiple near-Immortals to kidnap or kill you. They’re close to the boat.”






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