A few days later, it’s about lunchtime. I’m done with preparing lunch.
«Raiden, lunch is ready!»
I begin eating. I think my cooking is improving. I’m still missing some spices, but I can manage. My hand-eye coordination has greatly improved as well. Making use of my trait Nimble and Precise, I now primarily move in the forest by jumping from treetop to treetop. After I finish my portion, Raiden is still not here.
What’s going on? Usually, it takes Raiden only a few minutes to get here. I try to mentally connect to Raiden. There he is. I sense Raiden calling me over. I feel a sense of wariness from Raiden. I leave my cave and move to where I feel Raiden currently is. I keep myself hidden. I find Raiden in one of the trees. He’s unharmed! That’s a relief. Just as I wanted to ask him about what happened, I see who Raiden is intently watching: we have visitors! There are several people in the forest, all men, they all wear similar armour. Most of them seem to be Humes. There’s one Ailuranthrope with them. One of the Humes seems to be my age. I haven’t seen other people here until now. What are they doing here?
“Who’s there?” the boy shouts. Have I been spotted?
“I think you’re imagining things,” one of the men says. The rest starts laughing. So was it just a fluke?
«Lunch is on the table. Go home and eat,» I send Raiden away.
Raiden takes the skies. The boy sees Raiden fly up and exclaims:
“There, a Hawk!”
“That was just a lucky guess!” one of the adults says.
“Maybe. But still, I didn’t think we’d get this lost in the forest…”
“That’s just how Avan Forest is.”
He takes glances in my direction.
“I just probed the area…, there’s nothing there,” one of the other adults says.
It looks like my Presence Isolation skill is very effective. That being the case, I’m quite confident I can escape if something happens. I should show myself and talk to them. I jump down. Upon noticing me, the men stop laughing. They immediately put their hands at their hips, ready to draw their swords at any time. I should have walked in from somewhere else…
“You’re quite sharp!” I smile. Let’s just hope my Appealing Charisma trait helps. “Hello there, my name is Swift. I live around here.”
The boy makes a triumphant expression.
“So I wasn’t imagining it! I’m Matt. Nice to meet you.”
The men are whispering.
“What’s a kid doing here alone?”
“I just probed the area…, I was sure nobody was there a moment ago.”
“It seems he isn’t a threat.”
I turn to the men.
“I can hear you… If you dislike my presence that much, I can just leave. I don’t mind… I was just curious since nobody ever comes to this forest…”
I turn around to leave the place.
“No, wait!” the boy, I think his name was Matt, shouts. I turn to him. The men look like they want to protest. But he silences them with a stare, not an angry one. They loosen up a bit. They’re still wary of me. But I don’t have to worry about them drawing their weapons for now. It looks like Matt is in charge, even though he’s the youngest of the group. And he wields quite the authority, too.
“We’ve come here in search of the Crystal Down. But we’re kinda lost here…”
“The Crystal Down?”
“Yes, it’s a hill in this forest that’s full of Awakening Crystals.”
That cliff had a name?
“Ah, that place! I know where it is. Should I lead the way?”
“Yes, please do!”
I walk ahead to lead the way to the Awakening Crystals. Matt walks directly next to me. The others follow behind us.
“So Matt, are you looking for a certain trait or skill?”
“Not really, I’m here because of one of my family’s many traditions. At age
If we get something useful, we get extra points on the succession score. I was told only to get something if I’m sure it’s not bad for me. If we get something detrimental, we get negative points or even disqualification. Nobody knows what you’re going to get. So I’m just hoping I find something that’s not bad for me.”
So they have a merit-based system for succession here? That sounds better than always choosing the eldest. Are they to choose something based on instinct? Or is this a lucky chance thing?
“The detrimental traits those crystal give can be quite nasty. Is it worth the risk getting these?”
“Well, it’s an optional thing. If I’m not sure about it, I should simply opt out, even at this stage.”
“I see. Back to my question: if you could choose what you get, what would you want?”
“If possible, I’d like to receive the Light Magic skill.”
“Light Magic skill?”
“Yes, it’s very hard to raise. So having it would help quite a lot.”
“I’m just guessing,” Matt moves closer to me, and whispers, “but judging from your question, could it be that you can discern what effects the Awakening Crystals have?”
“That’s incredible! Nobody has ever been able to do that!”
“And you believe me? Just like that? We have just met, you know.”
“Well, I have a skill that allows me to guess if something might be detrimental to me. You seem fine. In fact, I’m just trying to prove the skill I have is real. I know it is. It can’t be I’m right just by chance. The problem is: it doesn’t turn up on Identifying Crystals. So even if you were lying, it’ll be my fault for trusting you, and my skill is just my imagination. Enough about me, I can’t say I expected to meet someone else in this forest…”
“Why? It is comparatively safe here.”
“These woods are very special. People that get in here this deep usually get lost, just like our group.”
We arrive near the cliff.
“We’re here,” I point uphill, “the crystals are just up there.”
“That was faster than expected.”
“You think so?”
“Yes, we’ve been wandering around for bells before you arrived. And you brought us here in not even half a bell! How don’t you get lost?”
“I can’t say, I just don’t get lost… Anyway, let’s look for your Awakening Crystal of Light Magic!”
I lead the group up onto the hill. While doing that, I try looking for an Awakening Crystal of Light Magic. Surprisingly, I find one quite fast. When we arrive near it, I point to the white crystal and whisper: “I believe this is the one you are looking for.”
Matt looks at me, then at the crystal. Without hesitation, he grabs it. It begins shining brightly. After the light dies down, the crystal has turned translucent as it happened with me before.
One of the men touches Matt with an orb. After looking at the orb for a while he says: “You seem to have gained Light Magic Level 4. Congratulations, though that doesn’t prove that other skill of yours exists.”
“I know, thanks.”
Since they’re done with their objective. They decide to leave right away. I lead them to the river nearby and see them off.
“If you follow this river, you should get out of this forest quite fast.”
“Thanks for your help, Swift.”
“Don’t mention it, I was just bored, anyway. It’s not every day that I meet people in this forest.”
I leave and hide in the trees. It seems I’m not being followed. The group is still in viewing distance. Let’s analyze the boy. Does it even work on him?
Name: Matthew Sitnalta Age: X Species: Hume
Titles & Blessings
- Second Prince of Sitnalta
- Protector Spirit (Trait)
- Super Intuition (Hidden Trait)
- Long Blade Mastery Level
- Shield Mastery Level
- Light Magic Level
- Riding Level
So the first person my age I meet turns out to be a prince. The second prince, no less. I guess merit-based successions make even more sense in a royal family!… That means this place is run by a monarchy. But he doesn’t seem to care much about this position. He has a Hidden Trait, Super Intuition. Doesn’t that mean those crystals don’t pick up Hidden Traits? That would explain quite a lot! Also, that would be quite convenient for me… I make a note: check myself it an Identifying Crystal. Well, I don’t think I’ll meet him again. And if I do, I’ll just ignore the fact he’s royalty. After all, he didn’t seem to mind.