“You’re an asshole. You know that?” Kaelith huffed and Rakna shrugged.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” he quipped. “By the way, do you have a recommendation for an object that would help me hide this,” he said while pointing at his tail and ears.
She scowled. “You want to hide them? Well, to blend in with humans, it would be necessary but how did you do it until now?”
‘Damn, woman, couldn’t you have remained clueless a bit longer?’ Rakna uttered silently but his mouth was moving without hesitation since he had already thought of an excuse, “Quite easily actually. I could just control my ears so they would blend in with my hair or use a hat. As for the tail, usually, I would wrap it tightly around my waist.”
“I see. Then, indeed, you truly need something. Considering how tumultuous your life is going to get, this won’t be a viable way anymore.”
‘Really… I’m full of respect for this woman. She’s helping me make my lies more believable with each word coming out of her mouth,’ Rakna once again made an unheard remark only known to Pronos who didn’t miss its sardonic tone.
“How much are you willing to spend for it?” She asked.
“Right back at you. How much do you think is reasonable?”
“Well, a thousand should be plenty. I even have the perfect item in mind. It’s called Ulvia’s Veil, it’s an auxiliary item.”
Rakna searched for the item in question right away and inspected its effect.
❮ ◈ ❯
Designation: Auxiliary Item/Necklace
Name: Ulvia’s Veil
+5 Senses when worn.
Gain the dependent skill, Ulvia’s Illusion, allowing the Host to hide their appearance under a low-level illusion. The more modification is made to the Host’s original appearance by the illusion, the more easily it can be seen through.
Cost: 10 MP/hour
Price: 1000 Talys
❮ ◈ ❯
“Really? It needs mana to work? With my current mana pool, I barely have enough to sustain it for four hours,” he uttered and Kaelith shrugged.
“What did you expect? Most skills come at the cost of MP. Some rare ones have nothing more than a cooldown, then there are others who need stamina among other things… You get the idea. It is what it is. Why do you care anyway? It’s not like you have many skills that consume mana since you’re new.”
“Do you listen to what I say, foxy? The problem is that I only can maintain it for four hours.”
“What about your mana regeneration?” She asked with a tilt of her head.
Rakna was rendered speechless for the first time. His mind went through the calculation instantly, and the time he could sustain the skill was, well, as much as he wanted. His mana regeneration was already higher than the cost. He face-palmed and the air around him became gloomy.
“What’s wrong? Is your regeneration factor a bit low? Don’t be sad, you’re not the only one with an unlucky number. You can use items to compensate.”
“…that’s not it,” he whispered but Kaelith’s sensible ears still caught his words.
“What is it then?”
“I’m disappointed in myself for having needed you to notice this detail,” he replied wearisomely.
“What do you take me for, brat?!” She stood up and threw her empty cup at Rakna who just tilted his head to the side to dodge it.
“A clueless vixen,” he answered honestly without any change to his voice. Her expression twitched several times. She wondered if she could just kill the kid and be done with it. She exhaled and just dropped back on the couch.
“Just confirm the purchase of what’s in your cart so that I can be freed from you.”
If he could express emotions, Rakna would have probably laughed. The only thing hinting at his amusement was how his eyes had briefly flashed, which Kaelith noticed and only served to infuriate her more as a vein popped on her forehead.
“Alexa, add Ulvia’s Veil to the cart and cash it.”
A short minute after that, Rakna spotted movement from his right. He looked over the source and got slightly interested as he saw a small three-tailed fox with bright orange fur walking over while balancing three sealed boxes on the tip of its tails. It also had a bag which it carried in its mouth.
Then, Rakna almost leaped away from his seat when he saw a wooden table appear out of nowhere between him and Kaelith. The little fox jumped on it and put the perfectly cubic and identical boxes down, close enough to Kaelith so that she could reach them, before placing the bag near Rakna’s feet. The latter looked at it and saw that it was the clothes as well as the plain knife he had bought for fifty Talys.
“Thank you, Sylphie,” Kaelith smiled and patted the fox who had sat down on her lap. She then proceeded to grab the first box. A blue glow was transferred from her hand to the sealed container which briskly opened. Inside the box lied three rows of thin glass tubes. Each row had a different color. There were red, blue, and green.
Kaelith pushed the box toward Rakna who raised an eyebrow. “The red ones are the healing potions. The green ones are for stamina and the blue ones are for mana.”
Rakna nodded silently and pulled out one of the test-tube-like potions out of the box. He looked through the red liquid inside as the nine-tailed woman opened the second box. This time, when she saw what was inside, she frowned.
There was a card in the box. It was lying on red velvet fabric. The card was gray and its back depicted a spiked shield surrounded by four chains that found their origins in the corners of the object. Kaelith picked the card up and looked at the other side which was occupied by blood-red letters forming the name of the skill as well as a sort of incantation below it.
“Ireful Shell…” She muttered and glanced at Rakna who had already stopped his inspection of the potions to look at her. “This is a cursed skill, wolfy. In other words, it’s dangerous. They are potent indeed and I’ve even heard of Hosts above the 500th, veterans, who fell to the temptation of these cursed abilities. Let me tell you that it didn’t end well for them. Are you sure about this?”
“I do not follow examples-”
“You make your own,” he was interrupted by the fox woman. “Yes, I heard the first time,” she said and deftly threw the card at him. He caught it with two fingers and observed it. “That’s what you call a Skill Card. To learn what it contains, chant what’s written under the name… Be careful,” she added with a serious and almost worried tone.
Rakna merely hummed in response and started reading the incantation, “[Crust of Embrace. Shield of Fury. Wall of Desperation. Forgo the Pain of Foundation and Offer Ire to Victory.]”
When he finished, the card turned into particles of light that entered his chest. Kaelith sighed and opened the last box, which held a sky-blue necklace, then put it on his side of the table as well.
Rakna took a minute to inspect everything before pulling out the clothes he had bought. They were nothing more than a red and black hoodie along with black jeans. He was about to take off his ripped shirt when he saw the vixen’s eyes fixed on him.
He scowled. She responded in kind and the two glared at each other until she grumbled and finally turned around. A short moment later, Rakna was finished dressing and his scarf’s color gave a very pleasant contrast with the rest. Also, funnily enough, his clothes had also been given to him with a hole for his tail.
He then proceeded to grab the knife sheathed in leather but before he could put it at his belt, Kaelith spoke up, “Wait.”
He looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “What is it?”
She didn’t reply and merely pulled out a small silver ring from her pocket. She threw it to him who casually caught it in midair. The prompt that the System gave him after surprised him.
❮ ◈ ❯
Designation: Special Item/Spatial Ring
A ring with a separate dimension of its own capable of storing all kinds of objects with the exception of living beings and pure energy.
Note: A high tier spatial tool with a very advanced manipulation of the objects coming in and out.
Current Capacity: 1000 m³
❮ ◈ ❯
“Rejoice, wolfy. A T.5 spatial ring can hardly even be seen by anyone below the 400th Plateau.”
“Why are you giving this to me?” He inquired. It’s not like he was unhappy with the object but it was dubious, to say the least.
“There’s no need to look at me like that. That’s junk for me and I happened to have it with me. You picked my interest, I thought I might as well give you a small gift. I’m not giving you that big of an advantage anyway. Take it as a reward for entertaining me.”
Rakna stared at the woman in front of him for a while before sliding the ring around the middle finger of his right hand. Immediately after, the second he willed it, the potions on the table, as well as the knife in his hand, were sucked in by the tiny jewel mounted on the ornament.
“Nifty,” he commented and Kaelith snickered at his underwhelming reaction. She still considered him to be quite uncouth but she couldn’t deny that she had found a liking in his personality.
“Well, it is time to-” She was about to send Rakna away when Sylphie who was on her lap suddenly shot up and ran into the aisles of the store once again. “…did you buy something else, wolfy?” She asked in confusion.
“No, but…” He muttered while glancing at Pronos who had been very focused on something until just now. The snake hissed softly to answer his master’s untold question. “I see,” Rakna uttered.
“Wait… did your pet buy something from the store?” Kaelith asked incredulously.
“Do… do you even know what that means?” She questioned with an irked tone that he didn’t fail to notice. “Only pets with S rank potential or above can get money for themselves and use the System shop! They are considered to be even more important than C Rank Hosts!” She shouted.
“Don’t ‘oh’ me! Why didn’t you tell me that little guy was one?!”
“You never asked?” Rakna retorted and she buried her face in her palms. She suddenly wanted to take back everything positive she had thought about this brat.
It didn’t take long for Sylphie to come back with a box held by one of her tails. Kaelith groaned and did her job as she unsealed it. The only thing inside was a transparent pill releasing chemical smoke.
Before the vixen could say anything, Pronos jumped from Rakna’s shoulder and happily landed on the box before dragging the pill into his mouth with his tongue and swallowing it. The little snake then put on a gratified expression as he returned to his owner.
Kaelith watched him with a blank look until he was back on Rakna’s shoulder. “I don’t even want to explain to you what your snake just ate. Find out yourself later. Are you done this time? Will any of you buy something at the last second or can I finally send you off?”
Rakna and Pronos looked at each other and simultaneously shook their heads.
“Good,” Kaelith said and stood up. At the same time, Rakna quickly put Ulvia’s Veil around his neck and a flood of intuitive information about his new skill entered his mind. He activated it and his tails and ears vanished under an illusion. He nodded satisfyingly at the result and stood up as well.
“When you’re out of here, you will wake up in the same place as you were during the Initiation. The only difference is that it will be the actual Plateau Zero this time and you will be together with the people that were transported from the same place as you,” Kaelith explained and a light shrouded Rakna’s body.
He watched the light cover his body in its entirety and right before his vision turned white, he saw the fox woman waving her hand at him.
“See you again, wolfy.” Those were the last words he heard from her before he disappeared from the shop. When he was gone, Kaelith didn’t know if she had to be relieved or disappointed.
Relieved because of the brat’s insolence and seemingly no regard for how powerful or beautiful she was and disappointed because she hadn’t had that much fun in a long time.
She smiled at herself before snapping her fingers. An oriental door then appeared in front of her as if it was a mirage. She opened it and stepped through with Sylphie following her. In only a second from her perspective, she ended up in the middle of a very luxurious room.
Sylphie went to the queen-sized bed and curled herself on it. Meanwhile, Kaelith turned toward the door of the room which opened to reveal a maid with fox features but only one tail.
“My Lady, you’re back. Did your time as a shopkeeper go well?” She asked respectfully.
“You could say that,” Kaelith answered and sat down on her bed next to her fox pet. “I met someone very interesting in fact. At least, this whole thing wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be.”
“Oh? I wonder who could have possibly caught My Lady’s interest.”
Kaelith grinned at her maid’s curiosity. “Maybe you’ll meet him in the future. He looked like a promising youth,” she chuckled and abruptly thought of something that widened her grin. “Nyla, go and inform the board that I want to be assigned as the personal shopkeeper of a certain Host until he reaches the 500th Plateau himself.”
The maid was shocked by the order. “My Lady, are you sure? This mission was nothing more than the last prerequisite for you to enter the 900th Plateau. You do not need to continue, much less for a measly seedling…”
“This is an order, Nyla. I’m not asking for your opinion.”
“Yes, My Lady. I apologize for my impudence,” the maid bowed nervously at the cold tone of her mistress. “In that case, may I ask for the name of the concerned individual?”
Kaelith smirked as she stroked the snoozing Sylphie. “Rakna Xiorra.”