Chapter 139
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“Honored Immortal Ethan, Lady Illa is at the door of the manor. She has requested to see you, and also requested to schedule a meeting with her former [Student],” said someone from the shadows, startling Alice out of her discussion with Ethan.

“Illa?” said Alice, suddenly feeling very confused. The first person she thought of when she heard the name ‘Illa’ was the leader of Cyra, who had spent a few months training her when she was new to this world. However, the idea that Illa would have shown up here and requested to see her was very strange. Why in the world would Illa have come to Metsel in order to see her? Didn’t she have a town to run?

Alice turned towards Ethan, and hoped that he would explain what was going on. Ethan, instead of telling her what was going on, simply looked at her and grinned.

Alice stared at Ethan some more, until Ethan finally burst out laughing. “You need to work on controlling your facial expressions, Alice. Yes, the Illa outside is the same one you know. I admit, I haven’t confirmed why she’s here. But I assume she gathered some sort of information about the collapse of the System, and then came here to ask you what you knew?” Ethan grinned. “There’s a reason she lived through so many close scrapes in the military. She has good instincts, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she figured out that you’re the best source of information about the current crisis. Although I’m a bit surprised that she managed to get to Metsel so quickly. Perhaps she has a Perk that lets her move more quickly? Or perhaps she simply got information about the collapse of the System more quickly than I expected. I wasn’t sure if Illa would come to see you, but I had thought it would take her another week or two to arrive if she did.”

Alice felt her memories of Illa spring to mind, and after a few moments of consideration, she nodded.

During the time she had spent in Cyra with Illa, Alice had shown herself to be extremely interested in mana, the System, and how this world as a whole worked during the time she had interacted with Illa. Heck, Alice had explicitly told Illa about the Achievement she had gotten for observing the interaction between Attributes and mana. Even if Alice hadn’t outright said she was studying the System, it wouldn’t be very hard for Illa to put two and two together, especially if Illa knew that [Priests of the System] were talking about the collapse of the System and how people should mitigate its impact. The information about the System and how it worked would have had to come from somewhere, and Illa was certainly smart enough to put all of the information she had together and realize Alice had been researching the System all this time.

“Are you willing to meet with her?” asked Ethan, breaking Alice out of her thoughts. “If you aren’t willing to see her, you are free to leave the room for a while,” he said. “I intend to speak with her, since she is your former [Teacher] and she could have a role to play in stabilizing this whole mess. But you are naturally free to make your own decisions. I will not force you to see people you don’t want to.” Ethan paused. “Although I do think that speaking with her would be beneficial.”

And so Ethan will still encourage me to meet with Illa, even if he won’t actually force me to, though Alice, completing the rest of Ethan’s words in her mind.

Alice thought about it. Was she willing to meet with Illa?

While most of Illa’s reasons that she had helped Alice in the past were pragmatic, it was also true that Alice had received a fair amount of assistance from Illa during her initial months in this world. Not to mention, Illa had been very fair in her dealings with Alice during the time Alice had worked with her. She had always made it as clear as possible what consequences Alice could expect to deal with if she worked with the woman, and even raised Alice’s payment during the expedition to see the broken mana zone outside Cyra, once it became clear that Alice was in more danger than expected. In Alice’s mind, that action proved that Illa was a fair person.

Alice could also see some benefits to working with Illa. Alice was currently in desperate need of weird enchanting materials. The south of Illvaria was known for producing enchanting materials, even if it was currently rather underdeveloped. Illa was the leader of one of the best maintained towns in the South, since it was ruled by a massively overleveled [Warmage] with connections to the military and a surplus of Mages. While most southern towns struggled to draw in Mages, Illa had managed to hold on to the Mages in her town. Her city was also positioned on a river that many trade routes from the south to the north passed through. It seemed likely that Illa could help Alice resolve her pressing needs for enchanting materials.

“I’d be happy to see her again,” said Alice after she finished thinking.

“Good,” said Ethan, giving Alice a curious look. “Well, potentially good. Why did you agree?”

“I was thinking about the potential for getting enchanting materials, and the fact that the previous cooperation I had with Illa turned out well. Illa is fair and easy to work with,” said Alice. “And she also has direct access to several southern trade routes, and direct access to the southern Illvarian wilderness. I know that that a lot of Illvaria’s enchanting materials used to come from the south, so Illa is in a position where she could help us get access to a large quantity of weird and potentially useful enchanting materials. I know that you said that you would have a set of sample enchanting materials for me to work with tomorrow, but getting access to more raw materials could be critical if we want to get a large number of [Enchanters] working on this problem. And having more options is never a bad thing.”

Ethan grinned incredibly widely. “You’re learning to think properly about how and when to interact with people. I’m very glad that some of my lessons are sinking in.” After that, the two of them fell into a comfortable silence as they waited for the new visitor to come to the meeting room. A short time later, Illa Weissaurus came to the room, before giving Alice and Ethan curious glances.

“Honored Immortal Ethan,” said Illa, giving Ethan a respectful nod. “I thank you for being willing to meet with me, and allowing me to see my old [Student].”

Then, she turned back towards Alice, and Alice saw a brief moment of confusion on Illa’s face, as if she wasn’t quite sure how to address Alice now. Ultimately, she gave Alice a quick nod. “Lady Alice,” said Illa. “I am glad to see that you are doing well.” Then, Alice saw a little bit of the pragmatism and bluntness that had characterized all of her interactions with Illa fade away, and Illa gave her a cheeky grin. “Perhaps saying you’re doing ‘well’ is an understatement. Honored Immortal Ethan does not take in many apprentices per century, and I imagine that you’ve levelled quite significantly. The way you sit is much more poised as well. Is your [Dexterity] simply much higher than before? Or have you taken some kind of {Etiquette} lessons?” Illa’s grin widened. “If you weren’t very promising, I doubt Ethan would waste time helping you learn {Etiquette}, so you must be doing quite well, both as far as levelling speed goes and as far as societal position goes.”

Alice felt a hint of pride as Illa mentioned her levelling progress and the strides she had made over the past six months. When she had left Cyra, her highest level class had been level 47. She had already felt decent about her progress at that time – after all, the average adult in Illvaria was somewhere between level 40 and level 60, depending on their age, Achievements, and work ethic. For Alice to reach the same level in only a few months had felt quite good to her at the time, even if she knew that a lot of her success came from the advantage of being born on Earth and picking up the {Outworlder} Achievement right after arriving on this planet.

However, Alice’s status screen had grown leaps and bounds since the last time Illa had seen her.

Alice glanced at her Status Screen again, to see just how much she had grown.

Name: Alice Verianna

Age: 16

Strength: 117 -> 119 (122%)

Perception: 139 -> 140 (165%)

Dexterity: 119 -> 120 (124%)

Intelligence: 169 -> 170 (128%)

Endurance: 134 -> 135(121%)

Willpower: 148 -> 152 (108 -> 109%)

Charisma: 132 -> 133 (107%)

Magic: 164 -> 167 (122%)

Primary Classes: 6/6

Survivor: 56 -> 59

 

Explorer of Magic: 75 -> 78

 

Scholar: 55 -> 60

 

Scientist: 58 -> 62

 

Kinetic Manabinder: 41 -> 44

 

Careful Enchanter: 27 -> 30

Evolved Classes: 2

Student of Kinetic Magic: 25

(Apprentice) Enchanter: 25

Secondary Classes: 2

Fisherwoman: 3

Student: 8

Student of Organic Magic: 11 -> 24

Courtier: 1

Perks:

Survivor Perks:

Foraging (Survivor 5)

Microbe Resistance (Survivor 10)

Extremophile (Survivor 15)

Camouflaged (Survivor 20)

Enhanced Training (Survivor 30)

Moderate Tissue Regeneration (Survivor 40)

Adrenaline Rush (Survivor 45)

Extended Organics (Survivor 50)

Enhanced Senses (Tier 2) (Survivor 55)

 

Explorer of Magic Perks:

Enhanced Regeneration (Explorer of Magic 10)

Seeds of Magic (Explorer of Magic 25)

Broken Seed (Upgraded) (Explorer of Magic 35)

Expanding Comprehension (Tier 2) (Explorer of Magic 55)

Combat Seed (Tier 2) (Explorer of Magic 60)

Intuitive Magic Modelling (Tier 2) (Explorer of Magic 65)

Seeds of Ambition (Tier 2) (Explorer of Magic 75)

 

Scholar Perks:

Accelerated Thinking (Scholar level 15 (-5))

Rhetorical Flourish (Scholar level 20)

Photographic Memory (Scholar level 25)

Improved Multitasking (Scholar level 30)

Scholar of Magic (Scholar level 35)

Lesser Organic Vision (Scholar 40)

Sleep Reading (Tier 2) (Scholar 55) 

Delve Memories (Tier 2) (Scholar 60)

 

Scientist Perks:

Precise mana Measurement (Scientist level 5)

Sample Collection (Scientist level 10)

Safety Analysis (Scientist Level 20)

Shared Memory (Scientist Level 25)

Advanced Mana Measurement (Scientist Level 30)

For Science! (Scientist 45)

Speed Experimentation (Tier 2) (Scientist 55) 

No_Mana (Tier 2) (Scientist 60)

 

Kinetic Mage Perks:

Object Control (Student of Kinetic Magic 5)

Above Average Mana Sight (Student of Kinetic Magic 10)

Folds of Magic (Student of Kinetic Magic 15)

Split Mind (Student of Kinetic Magic 20)

Improved Object Control (Sensory Enhancement) (Student of Kinetic Magic 25)

Mana's Binding (Kinetic Manabinder 5)

Enhanced Focus (Kinetic Manabinder 10)

Vastly Improved Kinetic Vision (Kinetic Manabinder 15)

Overclock (Kinetic Manabinder 20)

Kinetic Enchanting (Kinetic Manabinder 25)

Reflection (Kinetic Manabinder 30)

Kinetic Tendrils (Kinetic Manabinder 35)

Speed Analysis (Kinetic Manabinder 40)

 

Enchanter Perks:

Enchanter's Vision (Apprentice Enchanter 5)

Monstrous Enchanting (Apprentice Enchanter 10)

Faster Enchanting (Apprentice Enchanter 15)

Faster Mana Regeneration (Apprentice Enchanter 20)

Speed Enchanting (Apprentice Enchanter 25)

Repurposing (Careful Enchanter level 5)

Blueprint (Careful Enchanter level 10)

Enchanter's Basic Magic Seed (Careful Enchanter level 15)

Pride of a Craftswoman (Careful Enchanter 20)

Enchanter's Armory (Careful Enchanter 25)

 

Organic Mage Perks:

Improved Organic Manipulation (Organic Mage 5)

Patient's_Yes (Organic Mage 10)

Skills

Academic Skills:

English (Language Proficiency): 100

Illvarian (Language Proficiency): 100

Sigmusi (Language Proficiency): 7

Russian (Language Proficiency): 1

Verinthian (Language Proficiency): 0 -> 1

Basic Mathematics: 123 -> 124

Intermediate Mathematics: 79 -> 81

Advanced Mathematics: 19 -> 22

Basic Human Biology: 38 -> 39

Mana-biology: 11 -> 21

 

Magic Skills:

Kinetic Manipulation: 70 -> 73

Mana Control: 52 -> 54

Mana Precision: 53 -> 55

Kinetic Force: 51 -> 53

Projectile Awareness : 32 -> 33

Divided Attention: 34 -> 38

Basic Enchanting: 31 -> 37

Broken Mana Purification: 18 -> 19

Mana Filtering: 24 -> 27

Seed Formation: 19 -> 22

 

Crafting Skills:

Weaving: 27

Woodworking: 28

Cooking: 12

Stoneworking: 11

 

Physical Skills:

Dodge: 31

Etiquette: 21

Spearmanship: 19

Sprinting: 22

Riding: 15

Climbing: 9

Fishing: 9

Digging: 8

Stealth: 4

Basic Medicine: 3

Dancing: 6

Magic Seed: 1/1

(unused seed has 15% conversion rat. Max)

Kinetic Seed 154 -> 157%/159%

Healing mana seed 55% -> 58%/60% (Deactivated - you may link this to a Perk if desired!)

Electromagnetic Seed (15%) (Deactivated)

No_Magic (33%/35%)

Lesser Magic Seeds

(Base Max 25%, Achievements now apply as usual)

Display Seed (11%) -> 14%/16

Organic Seed 74% -> 77%/79% (6% Exp. Comp.)

Pure Mana Seed 44% ->47%/49% (12% Exp. Comp.)

Filtration Seed -> 37%/40%

Dimensional Seed -> 37%/40%

Achievements:

Outworlder (Rarity: 10)

 

Seeker of Truth  (IV) (Rarity: 10)

 

Baptized by Broken Mana (Rarity: 6)

 

Survivor of Winter (Rarity: 3)

 

Monstrous Encounter (Rarity: 1)

 

Monster Slayer (III) (Rarity: 2)

 

Well Trained (Rarity: 4)

 

Murderer (Rarity: 4)

 

Bookworm (Rarity: 3)

 

Kinetic Manabinder (Rarity N/A)

 

Careful Enchanter (Rarity N/A)

 

Capable Enchanter (Rarity: 5)

 

Seed Creator (Rarity: 8)

 

Scientific Discoveries (III) -> (IV) (Rarity N/A)

 

Immortal's Apprentice at the battle against the Society (Rarity: 4)

 

Legendary Healer (Rarity: 7)

 

Creative Healer (Rarity: 4)

Alice’s highest level Class was now level 78. Level 75 was already considered the level of a properly elite craftsmen or warrior, and was a level few people would reach, even with an entire lifetime of hard work. It was only when seeing Illa again and thinking about her progress over the past several months that Alice could truly feel how much she had grown in a short five or six months. She had come a long way from the scared teenager who was dumped into the middle of the Illvarian forest nearly a year ago.

Of course, as much as Alice was happy to see her levels steadily increasing, she also felt the urge to wince. Most of her Classes had gone up by 3-4 levels… which was pretty good when one considered the fact that her highest level Class was above level 75. At the exact same time, almost every action that Alice had taken recently was primarily focused on exploring magic, and despite that fact, she had only gained three levels in the Class. If it had been before she reached level 75, Alice was willing to bet she would have gained six or seven levels in [Explorer of Magic] instead of three. Trying to level up Classes after level 75 was incredibly painful if one didn’t have the Achievements to support it.

“I’m indeed doing very well,” said Alice, giving Illa a smile. Then, feeling just a little bit cheeky, she gave Illa a slightly more mischevious grin. Since Illa was dropping a bit of formality around her, it felt right to do the same. “I might even be higher level than you now.” Then, Alice laughed. “Thank you for all of the work and time you put into training me when I was in Cyra and had no connections or abilities to fall back on.”

Illa chuckled. “A sixteen year old who might be higher level than me… that would really be something.” Then, she shook her head. “We both benefitted from your actions in Cyra. You don’t need to thank me – your current state is a result of your own hard work and your willingness to pursue your interests to the very end.” Then, slowly, the mirth faded from her face, as she adopted a more serious expression. “Now, for the reason I came here. I’m sure you’re aware of it already, but recently, things are quite… odd. A little over a week ago, I got a very strange feeling, as if something important had simply vanished into thin air. Shortly after this, people started to notice all sorts of oddities regarding their Status Screens. People couldn’t read their new Perks anymore, Achievements started to incorporate strange glitch symbols into their words, and last I heard, there are also issues with Mages forming new Magic seeds?” Illa frowned. “The last one is harder to verify, since there aren’t that many Mages forming new magic seeds on a regular basis. But I am greatly concerned by these changes. And as far as I know, you are probably aware of how and why these changes have occured,” she said, nodding at Alice. “I would greatly appreciate more information.”

Alice glanced at Ethan, who simply gave her a curious look. Alice realized Ethan was testing… how well she would handle this interaction?

Maybe he’s testing me, to see how I handle trading with Illa, thought Alice, frowning. Illa had something that Alice needed. Illa had also come all this way to see Alice, so she certainly wanted the information Alice had.

Or at least, Illa had wanted that information. Alice and Ethan had gone to a decent amount of effort to get more people informed about the current state of affairs, and even if they weren’t giving away every shred of information available, they were still making a very large part of Alice’s research results freely understandable to the public. Almost everything relevant to regular people regarding the crisis was currently available in some part of the city. Illa had likely already found some of this information out herself, if she had done any investigation into the city at all.

Alice resisted the urge to sigh. If Ethan was testing how well she tried to bargain with Illa, her position would definitely be weakened by these facts. Of course, Illa wouldn’t give her a terrible deal – after all, Alice was confident in Illa’s long-term planning abilities, and it was obvious that dealing with the current crisis was priority one. But that didn’t mean it was fair to ask Illa to spend huge amounts of time and manpower helping to solve the current crisis without being compensated for her time and effort, either.

Alice sighed. She had been in a vastly inferior bargaining position the last time she was in Cyra, and almost all of her deals with Illa had been rather one-sided. Illa had still treated her fairly, but it was also unquestionable that Alice hadn’t had much of a bargaining position at the time.

Now, she needed to bargain with her former mentor from a very different position. This was also the most freeform test Ethan had given her so far. Usually, he asked her how she should respond to something, and would then give her ‘the answer’ right afterwards. This time, she needed to do this on her own.

“I do, indeed, know quite a bit about the current situation. I’m in the midst of developing countermeasures for it at this very moment, in fact,” said Alice. “For this, I would very much appreciate some help from you.”

“Oh?” said Illa, sounding genuinely surprised. “What can I offer to the apprentice of an Immortal? I’m sure you have much better tutors available if you want training for magic or combat, and Immortal Ethan certainly has more resources than me when it comes to experiments…” Illa trailed off, giving Ethan a curious glance.

“I need enchanting materials. Specifically, I need a material with certain properties, but I haven’t found anything suitable yet. For the other, I need a specific kind of tree bark that Cecilia purchased in your town several months ago. Will you permit me to use a certain Perk to give you an image of what tree bark I am looking for?”

Illa hesitated for a very long moment, eyeing both Alice and Ethan, before she finally nodded. Alice quickly grabbed Illa’s wrist and sent over an image of the tree bark she needed, before retracting her hand and waiting for Illa to process the information Alice had sent her. After a few moments of processing, Illa nodded at Alice, indicating that she could continue. “As for the other enchanting material I need, I would like something that allows me to use a certain kind of mana with it. The mana type is… somewhat similar to pure mana, but has a few different characteristics. It needs to work with filtration mana, which, as far as I’m aware, isn’t a mana type that is particularly well known…” Alice started describing what kinds of mana were at least similar enough to work as a ‘starting point’ for what materials she might need, while Illa nodded.

“And in exchange, I suppose you’re willing to give me information on whatever is going on?” said Illa, giving Alice a grin.

Alice nodded.

“I’m afraid that’s not good enough as a trade,” said Illa. “I want to know more, but it’s also obvious that you’re already taking efforts to spread this information far and wide. I would like a little bit more out of this deal. After all, you’re asking me to tie up a bunch of my own funds and manpower finding weird enchanting materials.”

“I don’t recall you having any [Enchanters] in the south since Cecilia left,” said Alice. “Meaning that we’re still going to need to do a lot of the testing and processing on our end. Even if nobody else is likely to have access to filtration or display mana, most [Enchanters] still have Perks that let them gather information. And if you don’t have an [Enchanter] on your end, that still leaves a lot of work for us. Unless you’ve lured another one to your town?”

“I have found a replacement, yes,” said Illa, grinning. “It took a pretty penny to get a new [Enchanter] to come to my town, as well as a sponsorship for one of the woman’s children into a magic academy. But do indeed I have a new [Enchanter] that can help gather information for you… for a price.”

Alice nodded, trying to think. Illa still probably wanted information, and Alice could give her some unique information that wasn’t available to the public. But what else could she offer Illa?

As if sensing Alice’s thoughts, Illa leaned a little bit closer. “I’ll tell you what I want,” said Illa. “Right now, it seems like you have a lot of information about the current crisis. I want a more in-depth discussion of exactly what’s happening, straight from the source of the research herself. And I also want first priority for whatever you’re making with your enchanting materials. I don’t know exactly why you need enchanting materials that can hold filtration mana and display mana… but I imagine it’s somehow related to solving the current crisis. I want you to prioritize Cyra as the first town that gets access to these solutions the moment they’re implemented.”

Alice thought about it. That was… fair. Probably. And if Cyra turned into the main supplier for Alice’s enchanting needs, keeping Cyra stable would ensure that future supply shipments weren’t disrupted. By becoming a useful component for solving the current crisis, Illa was basically guaranteeing that Alice would need to keep the town safe and up to date until the crisis was over.

Alice looked at Ethan, who simply shrugged.

“I think I would probably need to prioritize the capital first,” said Alice, after some hesitation. “But after that, I could put Cyra as the next priority for this?”

Illa thought about it for a moment, and then nodded. “That’s reasonable. I accept.”

A deal was struck.

 

 

 

Even though this wouldn’t ‘technically’ be part of Alice’s Status Screen as she sees it, I decided to include both the 2.5% and 5% max mana boost that Alice SHOULD be getting from {Creative Healer}, since the Achievement is working at half efficiency. Technically Alice’s Status Screen is just whatever she sees on it, but I included it as current number/whatever number it should be in her Magic Seeds list. This is mostly to help me keep track of what is partially activated and what isn’t, and make future calculations or changes easier to keep track of.

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