Chapter 131
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Alice felt her heart leap into her throat for a moment, before she started to calm down.

She still felt a little afraid because the manor was under attack, but her training started to kick in. Ethan had explicitly taken her with him when the Illvarian army had taken down the Society base several months ago, in order to train her awareness of battlefields and fighting. He had also consistently made her think about what to do if an [Assassin] came for her with his constant quizzes. Combined with the combat training from her classes at her magic academy, Alice had at least some idea what she needed to do right now.

She still wasn’t perfectly calm, but she could at least control her panic.

She continued running through the halls of Ethan’s manor in a controlled jog, heading towards Ethan’s study. Alice was decent at fighting now, but she was still a researcher first and foremost. Trying to protect herself against someone brazen enough to attack an Immortal’s manor was a terrible idea. Instead, she should be trying to meet up with Ethan or her [Hidden Guard] so that they could keep her safe.

And yet, despite her exceptional [Dexterity] stat that would put an Olympic athlete’s running speed to shame, it wasn’t fast enough.

As Alice was rounding a corner into another hallway, she stumbled upon two hostile Mages fighting with a [Guard].

One of them noticed her, and yelled something in a language Alice didn’t recognize.

The two had been conserving their mana during the fight with the [Guard], but the moment they saw Alice, they started flooding their bodies with organic mana. Moments later, their strength dramatically increased. One of them continued to attack the [Guard], trying to finish him off, while the other started charging towards her.

Organic Mages, thought Alice, grimacing.

Hostile [Organic Mages] attacking the manor immediately made her guess who the attackers were. There was one hostile organization that was famous for employing large numbers of [Organic Mages], and Alice and Ethan had destroyed one of their bases a few months ago.

A moment later, {Enhanced Senses} kicked in.

Time seemed to slow down a bit. It wasn’t quite as drastic as the boost from {Adrenaline Rush}, but Alice’s perception of where her enemies were and what they were doing also increased significantly. At the same time, Alice felt a certain awareness of the strength of her two enemies settle into her mind.

Neither attacker is purely combat focused. They’re still dangerous. I’ll have a hard time keeping up with them once I use up {Adrenaline Rush} and {Enhanced Senses}. I can fall back on {Speed Experimentation} to boost my speed a little further, but they can probably also boost their speed. I need to win this battle fast or things could get dangerous.

After Alice finished processing the information from {Enhanced Senses}, she quickly reached out towards everything in her surroundings and ripped up four floorboards with her mana tendrils. Then, she quickly used her remaining three mana tendrils to turn the floorboards into sharpened stakes by shaving off the ends.

Then, she fired the sharpened stakes at the [Organic Mage] charging towards her.

The man lit up with rainbow mana, and suddenly, his movements stopped looking like they were in slow motion.

He’s using a Perk similar to {Adrenaline Rush}, she realized.

The man sprouted three mana tendrils of his own, and channeled kinetic mana through them.

Before she could react, he ripped a painting off the wall, and then hurled it at Alice’s projectiles. He managed to knock two of the sharpened floorboards off-course, before he stopped the other two dead in their tracks with his kinetic magic.

And by the time he had finished stopping Alice’s first volley of projectiles, she had already prepared the next wave, using her enhanced speed.

The next four projectiles nearly ripped into the man’s chest, but rainbow mana surged through his body, and then he sped up again.

Alice felt {Adrenaline Rush} kick in as the man appeared right behind her. She couldn’t tell if the man had teleported or simply sped up well beyond her perception, but if {Adrenaline Rush} hadn’t kicked in, she wouldn’t have even processed the man’s disappearance before he attacked her.

Luckily, her ability to perceive her surroundings in all directions, as well as {Adrenaline Rush}, saved her. The man seemed to be trying to punch her in the back of the head, but under the influence of {Enhanced Senses} and {Adrenaline Rush}, he seemed to be moving in slow motion. Alice noticed that his fist was aglow with rainbow mana, indicating that if his fist connected with her, she would have a very bad day.

Fear flashed through her veins. Alice tossed a bit of display mana into {Speed Experimentation} to boost herself even further, by convincing herself that she was experimenting with how her new No_Magic seed worked in a fight.

Then, with the help of {Extended Organics}, one of her mana tendrils simply popped into existence behind her and drilled into the man’s arm. She activated her No_Magic seed.

The man’s body became slow and sluggish. Whatever Perk he had been using to speed up his physical body and perception of time had been shut down, at least temporarily. The rainbow Perk that had emanated from his fist and given Alice a crippling sense of danger disappeared. All of the organic mana that he had been using to boost his arm disappeared. In a fraction of a second, the man changed from a dangerous enemy who was about to kill her to a weak combatant fighting a Mage.

At the same time, Alice felt her No_Magic magic seed start to bleed mana at a ridiculous rate.

Alice’s new Perk could deactivate every kind of magic, even the magic inside of someone else’s body. But trying to push against the innate magic resistance of another person was also insanely mana inefficient. Every single second that she tried to keep the other mage from using his Perks and magic, mana flooded out of her magic seed like a collapsing dam.

Alice immediately dematerialized more of her mana tendrils, before they also appeared behind her. They quickly connected with the man’s sleeve, and Alice tried to use them to pick the mage up and slam him into the ground.

Instead of throwing the man around like a rag doll, his sleeve simply negated Alice’s attempts to manipulate it. It was clearly enchanted to prevent enemy Mages from using it.

Alice’s eyes widened in surprise, before she pulled her enchanted bead bracelet out of her storage Perk and activated the enchantment on it.

All of the beads on the bracelet propelled themselves into the man’s face, shredding apart his skin and muscles as he screamed in pain. However, she didn’t think any of her beads penetrated his skull. She had ripped apart one of his eyes and hurt him very badly, but she didn’t think she had inflicted a lethal blow on him.

Alice felt the man desperately try to activate some Organic Mana and heal himself, but Alice immediately dug her mana tendril deeper into his body. Her No_Magic mana reserves started to deplete even more quickly, but the man’s reactions quickly turned sluggish.

Alice felt a surge of relief course through her body.

She must have hit something more important than she had thought with her bracelet-beads.

At the same time, with her remaining six mana tendrils, she immediately started preparing another spray of sharpened floorboards. She wanted the [Organic Mage] to die as quickly as possible, before his friend got involved in the fight. Her No_Magic seed was already nearly out of mana, and the second Mage could still potentially kill her and the [Guard] if she wasn’t careful.

Before she could finish off the first Mage, she saw the other [Organic Mage] use a Perk to become much stronger. Then, he used his bare fist to punch through the [Guard’s] armor and hammer him in the head, knocking the [Guard] out and completely removing him from the fight. She resisted the urge to curse. Her floorboard volley wasn’t ready yet, but the other Mage definitely wouldn’t give her time to finish off his friend. And now the [Guard] she had been counting on to help her keep the second Mage occupied might be dead.

Not only had she failed to keep a patient alive yesterday, but a [Guard] might have just gotten killed protecting her.

At the same time, Alice felt {Adrenaline Rush} start to fade away, and the mana she had poured into {Speed Experimentation} also started to peter out. Her perception of time started to revert to normal, and the exceptional processing speed and bullet time that she had been taking advantage of started to disappear. Only {Enhanced Senses} was left.

Rainbow mana started to flow towards the fallen [Guard]’s head, and Alice felt a breath of relief in her stomach. The [Guard] was fine, and the Mage was much more worried about his friend than killing the [Guard]. But until the [Guard] finished healing with his Perk, Alice was on her own.

Alice focused on {Speed Experimentation}, and tossed in some organic mana. She wasn’t very proficient in using it in combat, and she needed to keep moving and thinking as quickly as possible if she didn’t want to die. {Speed Experimentation} clicked into place again.

As the second Mage surged towards her like a malevolent tide, Alice abandoned her attempts to finish off the first [Organic Mage], and sent her floorboard volley at him. The [Organic Mage] dodged out of the way with contemptuous ease, and a split second later, he was nearly touching her.

Then, the [Organic Mage]’s eyes widened in surprise as the floor underneath him flipped him into the air like a miniature catapult. Before he had time to react, Alice hurled him away from her.

Since the second Mage was gone for the moment, she turned her attention back to the first [Organic Mage]. He had taken advantage of her distraction and managed to flop away from her, temporarily breaking contact with her mana tendrils. This had given him a quick window to heal himself, free from the influence of her No_Magic mana. Alice took a step closer to him, and her man tendrils disappeared and reappeared before drilling inside of the man’s body again.

However, the man had managed to heal more than she had anticipated, and he didn’t intend to die without a fight.

Then Alice felt her world light up with pain as the man’s fist connected with her head, sending her reeling. If the man’s organic mana hadn’t been disabled, that punch might have knocked her out on the spot, or seriously injured her. Instead, it was painful, but largely irrelevant.

Since Alice had realized how useful it was to start sending pieces of terrain flying around, Alice ripped up the two floorboards under the man’s feet and tried to send him flying through the air, much like the first mage.

The man neatly sidestepped her attempt to send him flying using nothing but his raw physical abilities, and then tried to step in for another swing at her head.

Alice felt her No_Magic mana finally run out. Organic mana started to surge through the man’s body again, and Alice felt her stomach clench in fear.

Alice sent another spray of sharpened shrapnel into the [Organic Mage]’s skull, and saw something tear into his skull. The organic mana in his body tried to reach his brain and heal him, but the massive wooden spike inside of his skull prevented him from healing anything.

The first Mage nearly dead.

The [Guard] who had been nearly killed earlier stood up. The wound in his skull was completely healed from whatever Perk he had used earlier. He sprinted to Alice’s side and beheaded the dying [Organic Mage], ending any chance for the man to turn things around.

The two of them looked at the second [Organic Mage], who Alice had thrown into a wall earlier. The man grunted in pain, but pushed himself to his feet. He glared at Alice, as if he wanted to eat her alive- and then he started running away.

Alice quickly realized that he was out of organic mana. She had thought he was conserving mana earlier, but it was clear that the [Guard] had put up a better fight than she thought. The second Mage wasn’t in very good condition at all anymore.

A sharpened floorboard to the head ended any potential threat he still represented before he could escape.

Then, Alice sagged to the floor, feeling a mixture of fear and relief.

She had been forced to use almost all of her Perks and abilities, but she had won the fight. She had survived.

The two attackers had probably been level 60 or so in their primary Classes. They had not been slouches by any stretch of the imagination, and had clearly optimized at least some of their abilities for combat. If Alice was a little less prepared, she might have died or been kidnapped by the two enemy Mages. Based on the fact that they were trying to punch her instead of stab her, Alice suspected they had been trying to take her alive, although it was hard to say for sure. Either way, she was incredibly glad that she had managed to survive and keep herself safe, even if she was almost out of combat Perks that she could use today.

“Are you all right?” she asked the [Guard] a moment later, ignoring her level up notifications for now. She was running low on most kinds of mana, but she could still spare some organic mana to heal any injuries the [Guard] might have sustained during the fight. She also still had {Moderate Tissue Regeneration} to heal herself later, if she needed it.

“I should be fine,” said the [Guard], grimacing. “My ribs hurt, and I think one might be cracked, but nothing too serious.”

“Don’t fight against my mana,” said Alice, grimacing. “I don’t have any Perks like {Patient’s Consent} yet, so I’m going to be spending a lot of mana on this.”

The [Guard] seemed to hesitate for a moment, before he nodded.

Alice quickly did her best to patch up the [Guard]’s cracked ribs. Her regular healing abilities still weren’t great, but patching up a cracked bone wasn’t beyond her abilities anymore, especially given how much time she had spent observing human bodies and System interactions recently. She didn’t manage to completely patch up the injury, since she was still afraid of causing some sort of strange permanent problem, but she could at least help the [Guard]’s body speed up the healing process a bit and make the cracked rib less of a hindrance.

“Thank you, Lady Alice,” said the [Guard] after she finished. “It isn’t a perfect job, but I can definitely feel that my ribs are less damaged now, at least. It’ll be easier to fight like this.”

The two quickly scanned the hallway a few more times, trying to see if any other enemies had crept up on them while they were recuperating. Luckily, it didn’t seem like any other Society Mages had found them.

“Lady Alice, are you looking for Honored Immortal Ethan? I believe that he would want you to find him as soon as possible,” said the [Guard] after a few moments. “I was originally trying to find your location to protect you, but I’m glad you found me instead.” The [Guard] chuckled grimly. “Although it’s a bit embarrassing that you needed to protect me, instead of the other way around.”

Alice nodded. “Don’t worry about it. Two Mages against a non-mage is a huge disadvantage. Do you know where Ethan is? We should meet up with him as fast as possible.”

“He is currently moving around in the area between the first floor and second floor of the building, last I knew. The attackers seemed surprised that Honored Immortal was still present in the manor, and he’s taking the opportunity to ambush the attackers.”

Alice immediately nodded, and decided to wait a while before heading over. If Ethan was caught up in the middle of a big fight, she might distract him if she went over right now. She had already burned through most of her best Perks during the fight, and rushing to the front lines would just be stupid. If Ethan was currently fighting the attackers by himself, it would be best to hunker down and wait for him to find her, instead of trying to find him.

The two of them quickly stepped into the nearest room and started barricading it, as well as preparing for any potential threats that might find the room they were hiding in and attack.

Luckily, nobody else came to attack them.

After a few minutes, a few more [Guards] appeared near the room. One of them was sporting a rather large hole in his guts, although he was still moving around just fine, and another one of them was Alice’s [Hidden Guard]. He was currently missing an arm, which made Alice wince a little bit. Even if regenerating limbs wasn’t too hard in this world, it was probably quite painful to lose a limb. And it also spoke to the strength of the people attacking the manor. Alice and the [Guard] had been luckier than she thought. If some of the stronger opponents had attacked them instead, Alice would probably have been at the mercy of the attackers.

Alice and the [Guard] let them in, and then re-barricaded the doors and continued to wait.

The [Guards] and Alice’s [Hidden Guard] grouped up around her in tense silence, keeping a wary eye on the two hallways leading into the room in order to keep Alice safe.

The sound of fighting in the manor started to die down as the minutes passed. Alice’s [Guards] never stopped being wary of their surroundings, but no other enemies found them. Half an hour later, Ethan walked into the room. His eyes immediately flicked towards Alice, and some of the tension bled away from his shoulders.

“Good, you’re still alive,” he said, immediately striding over to Alice. “Are you injured at all? I have a lot of organic mana left over.”

“I should be fine,” said Alice. “Just a few bruises.”

“Good, good. I’m glad you had the sense to leave your room – the attackers seem to have been targeting you in particular. They managed to get into it and ransack it, and a few of the attackers seemed rather high level. I didn’t even manage to kill all of them.” he said, shaking his head. “The person who was watching you earlier seems to have been some sort of decoy. They led my [Spies] to a hidden base that I thought was a Society base, but it seems to have been an elaborate ruse. It has been quite a while since someone outwitted me like this,” said Ethan, looking more than a little disturbed.

Then, he turned towards Alice’s [Hidden Guard] and the other few [Guards] who had been protecting Alice, before nodding at them. “All of you did very well in protecting my apprentice during the attack. I’ll personally heal your injuries in a moment, and I’ll give you a very generous bonus. Well done,” he said, extending a few mana tendrils towards the injured [Guards]. A few moments later, all of their injuries were simply wiped away by Ethan’s organic mana. The [Guards] looked much more relieved when all of their injuries were healed.

“Go help the other [Guards] check the manor for any hidden enemies. I’ll arrange for you bonuses later,” said Ethan.

The [Guards] dispersed. Now that the two of them were alone, Ethan frowned again. A rainbow Perk shimmered into existence, safeguarding their conversation. “This attack is very troubling. The attackers seemed to have been very focused on you. They either know something, or they’re desperate.” He sighed. “Either way, it’s not good that the attackers were willing to attack an Immortal’s Manor in the middle of the city.”

“Were the attackers from the Society?” Alice asked.

“Almost certainly. Every sign indicates that they were from the Society, although I will confirm it later.” Ethan shook his head.

Alice glanced at the splatters of blood in the hallway where she and the [Guard] had fought against the attacking Mages, and then nodded. She and Ethan both knew that the Society would go completely insane if they were aware of all of Alice’s research into the System. They would possibly literally toss all of their leadership, and a huge portion of their combat personnel, into kidnapping her if they knew everything Alice could do and everything she had researched. Her research was simply too important and valuable.

It wasn’t quite that bad yet. But the Society was definitely thought she knew something. And they were willing to lose a huge batch of combat-ready Mages just to steal her research notes.

“Did you have any research notes laying around in your room?”

“I have a good Memory Perk. I don’t usually write things down anymore,” said Alice. “I used to, when I first arrived in this world, but these days, I just don’t really see the point anymore. My memory is the best notebook I have available to me.”

Ethan nodded. “Good. So they won’t be able to steal any of your notes.”

The two fell silent, as both considered the implications of the attack tonight.

“The person who was spying on you earlier seems to have been some sort of trap,” said Ethan. “I sent a few [Spies] to track them down, and I also made it seem like I was leading the attack once I realized it was a trap. I wasn’t sure if they were targeting you or me, and I wanted to be sure.” He shook his head. “I thought they would send a few kidnappers after you, or maybe a dozen Mages at most. I had the [Guards] preparing to defend your room. They attacked with a few dozen Mages instead, and managed to punch through the [Guards]. I originally thought I had over prepared, and I even stayed away because I was worried they wouldn’t take action if I was too obviously present in the manor. I apologize for the fact that my actions put you in danger – you were never supposed to be in harm’s way tonight,” said Ethan. He looked truly upset for a moment, before he shuddered, and shook his head. “Considering their actions, the question of whether they’re targeting you is clear. The Society may not be aware of everything, but they’re now clearly and explicitly targeting you.”

Alice felt a wave of cold anxiety worm its way into her stomach, but at the same time, she felt a strange sense of… relief?

She was startled once she realized that she felt relieved. It was such a strange emotion to feel after confirming that the Society of Starry Eyes was definitely targeting her, and it took her a few moments to figure out why she felt relieved.

Since the moment she had learned about this world’s situation, she had been worried that the Society would target her. She had spent almost every single moment of her time in this world aware that if her research was known, or if the wrong people learned about her home planet, she would probably be targeted by the Society of Starry Eyes. Every single move she took was careful, and she was always, always afraid that someone would find out more than they should know.

And now it didn’t matter. During the tea party a few days ago, Ethan’s mother had said that it probably didn’t matter whether Ethan and Alice tried to cover up the fact that she was a researcher and not a combat Mage.

Alice could now definitely confirm that it was irrelevant. The Society was targeting her.

It was a terrifying situation, but at the same time, Alice didn’t have to be worried about whether the Society might target her anymore.

She now knew for a fact that they knew something. And they were coming.

 

 

Shameless plug – for 3 dollars, you can read 3 chapters ahead on Patreon!

Well, down goes Volume 1 for Budding Scientist. I have such weirdly mixed feelings about this… even though I’m hopeful things will be better in the future, I also feel nostalgic about the past, I suppose.

It is what it is?

But it was also kind of depressing. I just feel weird about it. Meh.

 

It also occurred to me that perhaps I should advertise my other story/stories a little more often than… about once a year, according to my memory. Which is a thought that PROBABLY should have been a bit more self-evident than it was, but meh.

If you somehow weren’t aware already, I write another story called Markets and Multiverses! It’s a serial reincarnation story about exploring the Multiverse by reincarnating over and over again, while managing vastly different magic systems that crop up from one world to the next, as well as the unique laws of reality that each dimension can form. And it’s also about hyper capitalistic wizards gone horribly, horribly wrong in the distant past. And friendship! The main character is big on her friends! In most serial transmigration novels, it’s hard to get attached to people besides the main character, because they sort of don’t really HAVE other permanent cast members. So I wanted a story that had a little bit more in terms of characters that you can get attached to, while still having all of the fun components of a serial transmigration novel.

If that sounds appealing to you, please try reading it! And if you enjoy it, maybe leave a good rating or review for it? O.o

Here’s a link to the Royalroad version of the story, although the story is available on every platform I post on. I personally just prefer the look of RR’s interface when I’m reading myself, so I tend to link to that website first XD.

https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/61244/markets-and-multiverses-a-serial-transmigration

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