45. Abyss
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The door closed behind Rakna as he stepped inside the shop. He hummed as he walked to the counter and sat on one of the wooden stools.

 

“What? You’re not going to say how happy you are to see me?” Kaelith said as she leaned toward him with her elbows on the counter and her head resting on her hands.

 

“For now, you’re on a probation period. So, no,” Rakna blankly replied.

 

“Huh? Probation period?” She scrunched her brows in confusion. “What do you mean?”

 

“Gray told me shop keepers aren’t supposed to be the same. So, that begs the question, is this a coincidence or are you a stalker?”

 

Kaelith almost face-planted on the counter. She sighed and straightened her back as she crossed her arms under her chest. “You know… I don’t know why I hoped for even a second that your first attitude toward me was just a mood.”

 

Rakna grunted and Pronos jumped on his head and happily waved his tail at her.

 

“See? At least, one of you is grateful,” she huffed then pointed at Rakna’s ears. “By the way, wolfy, what happened to your ears? The tips are white. Did you dye them?”

 

Rakna reflexively looked up although he couldn’t look at his ears and shrugged. “It happened after I awakened my magic. The same thing happened to my tails.”

 

Kaelith nodded slowly. “I see. Wait… did you just say tails? Plural?” She speedily looked over the counter and forced Rakna to lean back unless they headbutted. Her eyes widened as she saw the two black tails with white tips flailing around behind him.

 

“No way… This would mean that you’re a pureblood,” she muttered and backed away again. She sent him a piercing stare. “Are you hiding something from me?”

 

Rakna had the decency to not laugh at her; spiritually at least. “Foxy, that is the wrong question.”

 

“All right then, pray tell, what is the good question?”

 

“The better question would be; how many things am I hiding from you.”

 

Kaelith glared at him and he countered with an expressionless face. They continued the stare-off for a while with Pronos looking back and forth at each of them.

 

In the end, Kaelith relented with a groan and casually sat on the counter, purposefully giving him a view of her body to which Rakna only reacted with a twitch to his eye.

 

“I guess it can’t be helped. A bit like overseers, I’m not allowed to look into your status. So? What do you want to buy this time?”

 

“Three health potions like the ones I bought last time along with a dozen compact explosives of your recommendation,” Rakna said without missing a beat.

 

She nodded and snapped her fingers. “Sylvie will bring what you want in a moment.”

 

“Also, I’d like to ask why the hell didn’t you tell me potions took time to properly work?”

 

Kaelith cocked her head to the side. “Well… because you didn’t ask?”

 

Rakna fell silent. He could only blame himself in the end. When he decided to use self-harm to bring out his other-self, he thought that a potion would be enough to heal him after his fall. But after drinking it, he noticed it wouldn’t heal him fast enough, thus forcing him to use one of the Heart Cards.

 

“More importantly, why don’t you tell me about your Path and Magic?” She changed the subject with perceivable excitement.

 

“Why would I?”

 

“Oh, come on! It’s one of the little things I like to do. It’s nice to hear about the many different Paths and Magic new Hosts unlock,” she said. “It’s like a fun guessing game, you know.”

 

“I see,” Rakna nodded, almost making her think he would accept. “I’m not telling you mine though,” just to crush her hopes.

 

She cooed in disappointment and let herself lie down on the counter in front of him. He frowned at her obvious try to get a rouse out of him. She stayed still with a pout as he looked at the ceiling with her tails waving around; Rakna dodging a few of them as they almost hit his head.

 

Then, an idea struck her and she smirked as she faced him. “Do you like the ring I gave you?”

 

Rakna immediately understood her intention and cringed internally. “…I do.”

 

“Then, do it in exchange for it,” she followed up. “You’re not going to tell me that you’re shameless enough to not repay me a bit, right?”

 

“You’re the shameless one here, after explicitly affirming that you would give it to me for free,” he retorted and she chuckled.

 

“Well, well, I’m a fox, remember?” Her smirk widened as he rolled his eyes. “Come on, now. Maybe I can give you some advice about your Path or Magic. Or maybe your friends’.”

 

Rakna scowled at her. “…you can’t do anything about my Path nor my Magic. One of them is Unique and the other apparently has never been seen before.”

 

Kaelith widened her eyes as she sat up. “Uh,” she uttered while looking at him. “Interesting… I can understand a Unique Path honestly. But there aren’t many new magic elements appearing nowadays. In fact, the last time it happened was almost five hundred years ago from what I heard.”

 

“It’s not a ‘new one’ per se. It’s one that existed but has never been awakened before,” Rakna said.

 

He had no idea if this was enough to narrow it down to Star Magic but he didn’t really care. As much as he liked messing around with this vixen, she didn’t seem that untrustworthy that he would not even give her a hint.

 

“I see, you’re not going to go in detail, are you?” She said, half-amused, half-infuriated.

 

“Well, I could tell you about my friends’ Paths, if you want. That is if you truly have some useful advice for them,” he proposed. “I don’t know about their magic yet, though.”

 

“Ask away,” she waved her hand as she finally got off the counter to which Rakna was silently relieved. No matter how broken he was, it was still quite hard for him to control hormones so that they would be inexistent. He could only suppress them and that was already more annoying than letting them out if it went on for too long.

 

“One of them has the Chaos Witch Path,” he decided to tell Flavia’s Path first.

 

“Chaos Witch, huh?” She rubbed her chin. “Interesting. A Chaos Witch has considerable potential for multi-elemental casting. Usually, a woman that unlocks that Path will have at least a triple magic affinity. What is that friend’s Potential Value?”

 

“S,” Rakna curtly replied. She really did appear to give it considerable thought.

 

“Does she have a Nirvana Skill?”

 

“Yes. Telekinesis.”

 

Kaelith whistled. “What about her Guild?”

 

“Wiccan.”

 

“Wow, that girl can go far,” she stated. “Let’s see… something that the Wiccan Guild won’t already tell her… Okay, relay this to your friend; on the 13th Plateau, there is a Dungeon called Marie’s Tomb. There’s a hidden quest there that might help her a lot. The conditions to unlock that quest is to head in alone and to have a Mage-Class Path. She also needs to be above level 50 but lower than 60.”

 

“That simple?” Rakna raised an eyebrow. “It sounds like something anyone would know.”

 

“Well, the thing is that Marie’s Tomb is filled with enemies that resist magic damage. That’s why the conditions for that quest are hard to fulfill and are not well-known. However, with Telekinesis, she should be fine.”

 

“I see. I’ll tell her then. Thank you.”

 

Kaelith smiled brightly. “You’re welcome, you’re welcome. Now, do you have others?” She asked with an endearing excitement in her voice.

 

Rakna snorted and continued, “This time, it’s an Epic Path, Abyss Monk.”

 

“What?” The vixen’s expression did a 180°. “Did you just say Abyss Monk? Did I hear that right?”

 

“Yes?” Rakna tilted his head at her sudden seriousness.

 

“I don’t want to worry you, wolfy… But Abyss-Type Paths are dangerous,” she uttered.

 

“How so?”

 

“Remember what I told you about cursed skills?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Well, Abyss Paths are generally considered cursed Paths. They are powerful indeed but the only reason why they are not classified Legendary is because of their twisted nature.”

 

Rakna’s expression darkened. “Will he slowly lose himself?”

 

Kaelith shook her head. “Not exactly. It’s a bit different from your Ireful Shell. The Abyss won’t do something such as encroaching his mind as he takes damage. It will be a constant risk. Honestly, wolfy, there’s only one piece of advice I can give you; keep an eye on your friend. In the future, there is a chance he might not only go mad but also…”

 

“Also, what?”

 

“Turn into a creature of the Abyss,” she said with a dark tone.

 

“What does that mean exactly?” Rakna asked again. Without his knowing, his eyes were gradually reddening and the air around him became colder.

 

Kaelith noted both things but didn’t comment on them. “Do you know what a Vampire is?”

 

The unexpected answer allowed Rakna to calm down. “Vampires? Are you insinuating he would become one?”

 

“Something similar, yes,” she nodded. “Creatures of the Abyss count in their ranks beings such Thralls, Ghouls, Vampires, Wendigos, and many others… Frankly, Vampire is the best you could hope for if you ever become an Abyss Creature. The blood craving is a pain to deal with but not irremediable. However, monsters like Ghouls need flesh to live.”

 

“Is there a way to stop it from happening?”

 

“Well…” Kaelith pondered. “There is… one thing you could try. On the 125th Plateau, the Undead Legion might be able to give you a last measure solution. Though it won’t erase the Abyss’ effect, it will allow your friend to have some sort of control over his eventual transformation. That’s the best I can tell you. I’ll try to find more information on my own if you want.”

 

“I’ll appreciate that if you do,” Rakna said with a heavy tone. At the same time, Sylvie, the small fox pet came from the back of the shop and jumped on the counter with two boxes balanced on her tails.

 

Kaelith sighed in relief as the dark atmosphere was broken and opened the two boxes like last time, showing one with the health potions inside and another with fifteen thin silver disks as big as a palm.

 

“These disks are a type of grenade. There’s a button on the back. Press on it once and it’ll explode at impact after throwing it. Press it twice and it’ll be set on a six-second-timer. Press it thrice and it’ll be disarmed. It’ll be 1100 Talys for everything here.”

 

Rakna nodded as he put everything in his spatial ring after a System window confirmed the payment. Kaelith smiled bitterly at the sour note that this conversation ended in and looked at Pronos who was seemed to be browsing the Shop on his own if his concentrated look was anything to go by.

 

“What about this little guy’s Path?” She asked, wanting to change the mood.

 

“Ouroboros,” Rakna responded simply and she froze.

 

“Of course,” she mumbled. “Well, can’t help much for this one. He should have unlocked Infinity Magic too, right? I’m not privy about anything relating to it, but one thing I know is that a decently strong serpent Local resides on the 148th Plateau. You might obtain something worthwhile from him.”

 

Rakna grunted positively. “Thank you for your help. Really,” he said with an almost friendly tone. “I have to say, you changed my opinion. I’m happy that you’re my shopkeeper.”

 

Kaelith was taken by surprise by his sudden compliment. Though, it was said with that same monotonous voice of his. Otherwise, she might have graced him with a blush. Instead, she settled with a soft smile. “No problem. I guess I’m not on probation anymore, eh?” She grinned.

 

Rakna nodded while feeling a bit amused. “I suppose so,” he said then looked at Pronos. “Did you find something useful, little guy?”

 

The little snake seemed to sigh as he shook his head. He closed the System window with a wave of his tail and recovered his place under Sonata.

 

“In that case, I’ll be going now. Gray is waiting outside,” Rakna said and stood up.

 

“Gray Whisles, huh? So, you joined the Throne of Glory. Can’t say it’s a bad choice, but be careful, they’re a powerful bunch for sure but they tend to get in trouble,” she remarked and he shrugged.

 

“I’m a living trouble from what I hear,” he said which puzzled her. He snorted. “Maybe I’ll tell you one day, foxy. For now, it’s too fun to see you be shocked at everything I do.”

 

Kaelith harrumphed. “Cheeky brat.”

 

“All in good fun.” He waved her goodbye as he went back to the door of the Shop. “See you, foxy. Thanks again.”

 

“Sure, survive well, wolfy,” she huffed while smiling and he proceeded to leave the Shop.

 

I have to say; I enjoy quite a lot writing the banter between these two.

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