Chapter 143
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The group docked in Cyra less than a day later. Alice was actually looking forward to seeing what had become of her first stopping point in this world, an emotion that surprised her. She had grown so much since her days in Cyra, and Alice wondered if Cyra was the same as it had been since she had left it. Had Cyra also undergone shocking changes? Had it grown steadily? Had it shrunk during the aftermath of the System’s collapse?

She also felt a bit nostalgic for her time in Cyra. Even though not all of her memories of Cyra were good, she had met Cecilia and learned magic under Illa here. She had taken her first steps back into civilization here. She had learned the basics of enchanting here. In many respects, Alice’s time in Cyra formed the foundation of who she had grown to become during the time she had lived in this world.

After the boat docked, the [Guards] quickly fanned out and double checked the area for suspicious activity while Alice and the others remained on the boat. The Society was an ever-present danger, as were foreign [Assassins], so everyone remained on the boat until the surroundings were secured.

After half an hour of tests, Perk activations, and scans, the area was finally deemed secure. Alice and the others were allowed to get off the boat, and Alice got her first good look at the town she had started her journey in.

The streets of Cyra were still well-maintained and ordered. Alice could see that the strange, wooden streets that had baffled her when she came to this world were still intact, and whatever Perks were making them as sturdy as stone were present within the wooden constructions.

The population of Cyra seemed to have shrunk a bit – likely as a result of the chaos ensuing from the collapse of the System.

Of course, that didn’t meant that Cyra was deserted now. Far from it.

There were still quite a few people sticking around in the settlement – Alice estimated that there were still several hundred permanent residents in the little town, based on how many people she could see walking through the streets and how many houses emitted smoke from their chimneys. For a frontier town that had been established a few years ago, the number of inhabitants was still quite impressive, even if it had suffered some from the collapse of the System.

Furthermore, the town had finished quite a few of the buildings that had still been under construction the last time Alice had been here. The dock was fully constructed and capable of holding several boats and loading or unloading large quantities of goods. There was even a distinct district surrounding the dock, where people who had just sailed up or down the river could relax after unloading all of their supplies into Cyra. Further away from the dock, a few residential areas seemed to be finished as well. The wall surrounding the town was also clearly higher and thicker than before, and the rainbow mana inside of the wall was thicker and more densely packed than before.

Ethan took a glance at the town, and nodded in approval. “This town is quite well developed,” he said, with a faint note of approval in his voice.

Illa smiled faintly at Ethan’s praise, although she didn’t say anything in response to Ethan’s words. A few moments passed in silence, as Alice simply took in the sight of Cyra again, before Ethan interrupted her thoughts.

“We should head to the city lord’s mansion. I could use a break from the swaying of the boat, and a nice hot meal.”

Illa nodded, and Cecilia quietly trailed after them as the group started heading towards Illa’s residence.

As they walked, Alice kept an alert eye on her surroundings.

Even if the [Guards] hadn’t noticed any problems, Alice knew that there were always ways to fool people if one’s level was high enough. If she managed to become an Immortal in the future, she would probably need to get used to relying on her own perception, since there was only so much that [Guards] who were much lower level than her would naturally notice. The more time Alice spent with Ethan, the more she was getting used to trying to think about what she would need to do as an Immortal, and how she would need to balance keeping herself safe and relying on potential subordinates. Even if Alice currently didn’t have any particularly outstanding perception abilities besides {Enhanced Senses}, that wouldn’t always be the case.

Luckily, nothing disrupted their journey. Alice had been half-expecting the Society of Starry Eyes to somehow show up and madly attack the group, but at least so far, there hadn’t been any signs of the hostile Mage organization.

A few minutes of walking later, Alice came face to face with a person she vaguely remembered. It was Illa’s [Maid], Ellia. Now that Alice’s perception was better than before, she noted that Ellia actually had several rather… interesting features. She moved with a grace that Alice hadn’t thought much of when she first came to Cyra – after all, everyone had seemed superhuman at that time, and Alice hadn’t been able to easily pick out which people were even more superhuman than all of the other superhuman athletes in her surroundings. However, now that she could see Ellia again, she realized that the [Maid] moved with a grace and strength that even most [Soldiers] failed to match properly. Alice’s eyes narrowed a bit in curiosity – perhaps there was more to Ellia than she had seen the first time she passed through Cyra?

“My lady,” said Ellia, giving Illa a courteous curtsy, before she gave Ethan an even deeper curtsy. Finally, she gave Alice a curtsy as well – which Alice noted, with some amusement, was about the same depth as the bow Ellia had given to Illa. Despite having no formal title or land, Alice now apparently ranked the same as a decorated war hero with a non-inheritable title, and a town that was nearly large enough to grant Illa a formal, inheritable title as well.

“Ellia. I’m glad to see that the town looks as if it has been handled well,” said Illa, giving Ellia a grin.

Then, Illa quickly gave Ellia a brief hug, before stepping back.

“Have you already prepared rooms for everyone?”

“Of course, my lady. Should I see everyone to their rooms?”

Illa nodded. “Please do so. I imagine that everyone would like to take a rest after travelling here.”

Ellia quickly left, and a few minutes later, a new round of [Maids] and [Butlers] quickly started splitting up the [Guards], Mages, and other travelers, before leading everyone to various rooms in Illa’s manor – or, in the case of the [Guards], the barracks.

As Alice was led to her quarters, she noted, with some amusement, that Illa had kept the same room that Alice had previously stayed in ready for her. If she closed her eyes, she could almost pretend that nothing at all had happened – that she had never left Cyra and gone to Metsel, that she had never taken an Immortal as her teacher, that the System had never collapsed.

So much was familiar, and at the same time, so much was different than before.

Alice couldn’t help but reflect again on all of the things that had changed since she left Cyra, before she smiled.

She was happy with who she had become since coming to this world. When she had arrived from Earth, she had been a scared girl with no idea what was happening or how to survive. And while she still missed her family and friends from home, and hoped that she would be able to return someday, she was also someone who had been shaped and molded by all of the things she had done and the decisions she had made since coming to this world. She still wanted to see her friends and family – but if Alice was asked whether she would be willing to return home and never come back to this world, she wasn’t sure how she would respond anymore. All of her experiences on this world had caused her to grow into a person she would never have become if she had never left Earth – and while she had been taken here against her will, in many respects, she had become a part of this world as much as she had been a part of Earth.

With that thought, Alice drifted off to sleep. Since she had largely tested all of the materials she had on hand already, in her dreams, she simply continued working on trying to create a working model of an enchantment that could rebuild the [Farmer] class without errors.

Even though she was only working on ‘fake’ materials, Alice really hoped that she could have a {Blueprint} of the enchantment she wanted to make ready to go the moment that the group found the right materials. But she had a smile on her lips the whole time she spent working.

* * *

The next day, Alice found herself standing in front of a large group of people, along with Ethan and Illa.

It was a group of people Alice had heard stories about on Earth, but had never interacted with much during her time on this world.

It was a group of people Alice had fantasized about, once upon a time.

It was also a group of people who were much more disappointing in reality than they were in stories. In stories, [Adventurers] usually led the charge on dragons, pursued the pinnacle of human strength, and scoured fantastical places for treasure and mysteries. In reality, [Adventurers] were mostly people who wandered into the wilderness, tried to dodge monsters, and found rare enchanting materials or monster cores before fleeing back to civilization. While some of them did fight monsters, it was a far less common occurrence than Alice had believed from the stories on Earth.

However, Alice had to admit, she was still somewhat curious when she saw a massive crowd of [Adventurers] assembled outside of Illa’s manor the next morning right after breakfast.

“All right, all of you are here today for a few reasons,” said Illa. She glanced at Alice and Ethan for a moment, before continuing.

“First of all, as you may have noticed, things have gotten… weird lately. In a lot of ways,” said Illa.

“Like when our Status Screens started glitching out and offering total nonsense as Perk choices, or when that giant burst of rainbow mana popped into existence out of nowhere yesterday?” said one of the [Adventuerers].

A few other [Adventurers] chuckled at that. Illa simply nodded.

“Indeed. Those are exactly the incidents I was referring to. I have news about that, which I will make more widely available in town later. However, I would also like to inform you that Ethan, and his apprentice, Alice, have been researching the recent oddities and trying to find countermeasures to keep people safe. And for that, we need your help,” said Illa, looking at the crowd of [Adventurers].

“All of you are accomplished [Adventurers], and I’m sure you’ve found plenty of odd and potentially useful enchanting materials over the years,” said Illa. “Now, Immortal Ethan and his apprentice, Alice, need a great deal of enchanting materials – especially those that can be acquired in large quantities, and can interact with certain, special kinds of mana that are related to information and mana filtration,” said Illa.

At the mention of Immortal Ethan, a few [Adventurers] who were slower on the uptake suddenly widened their eyes and glanced at Ethan again, as if they were seeing him for the first time. A few other [Adventurers] gave Alice curious glances, as if they were trying to figure out what made Alice special enough to be an Immortal’s apprentice.

“In exchange for your help, Immortal Ethan and I have discussed an appropriate reward, and we’ve determined that five hundred gold suns is an appropriate reward for helping find an enchanting material that matches the requirements we need and can be mass-extracted or grown,” said Illa. She gestured towards Alice. “Lady Alice will be in charge of testing the materials and determining whether or not an enchanting material meets the mana requirements, while I will be in charge of determining whether the material can be harvested on a larger scale.” Illa paused. “Of course, smaller rewards are available for materials that are useful, but aren’t easy to obtain large quantities of. Especially higher-grade materials. They may not be exactly what we need right now, but they are certainly still useful.”

The [Adventurers] started to focus more and more intently on what Illa said. It was obvious that they were very interested in the rewards proposed by Illa. Five hundred gold suns was enough to make Alice tempted to go for the reward herself. If she hadn’t become Ethan’s apprentice, five hundred gold suns would have been an unimaginable amount of wealth for her. Alice’s education for an entire year in a magic academy had cost forty gold suns. Five hundred gold suns was enough for most people to retire and live comfortably for the rest of their lives – or pay for a solid education for their children. It was an outrageous amount of money to throw around. However, Illa wasn’t done talking yet.

“In addition, we are also looking for a certain kind of tree bark, which I’ve had someone draw a picture. Anyone who can figure out where this type of tree bark is grown can also get a reward of fifty gold suns…” Illa said.

 “Can you let me see that picture?” asked one of the [Adventurers].

Illa immediately handed the piece if paper over, and then started distributing extra copies of the drawing.

“I believe I’ve seen this before,” said one of the [Adventurers], after a few moments. “I can mark the spot on a map, if you have one that covers the nearby area.”

“Oh? Already?” said Illa, sounding pleasantly surprised. “All right, mark it. I’ll send a few [Scouts] to examine the area, if and if your claim can be verified, I’ll give you the reward.”

A [Cartographer] led the [Adventurer] to another room, where Alice could see the two of them start messing with a larger sheet of paper.

After the first [Adventurer] spoke up, there was silence for a while. Then, the [Adventurers] started looking at Alice with fervent expressions.

“You’re the one in charge of figuring out if any ‘weird’ enchanting materials meet the criteria for the reward, right?” asked one of the [Adventurers].

Alice nodded.

The [Adventurer] grinned. “I have a few weird materials at my home. Can you wait half an hour for me to get them and come back?”

Alice nodded. “I expect to stay in this manor until a stable source of enchanting materials is found.” Alice glanced at Illa for a moment. “If you have any materials you want to submit to me… give them to Illa, so that she can turn them over to me?” Alice said. The last half of her statement came across as more of a question than a statement, since she wasn’t sure if that would ruin Illa’s schedule or something. Illa, however, simply nodded.

“That works for me,” she said.

The [Adventurers] nodded, and started discussing with each other. Then, in twos and threes, they started running out of the manor, as if the reward money reward depended on how quickly they could run.

Alice resisted the urge to chuckle.

Illa turned towards Alice.

“Once they get back, I’ll send any relevant materials to your room after a few [Guards] make sure there aren’t any weird enchantments or poisons mixed into the materials. You can check them afterwards, and then tell me if any of the objects meet your needs. After that, I’ll do follow-up questions about the mass extraction of the material. Does that work for you?”

“Yeah, that should be fine,” said Alice.

Illa nodded. “Good. Then in that case, I’ll leave you to it,” she said.

Alice quickly retreated to her room, before she quickly went back to sleep so that she could keep testing her enchantments.

* * *

Alice was occasionally woken up by a [Maid] depositing more enchanting materials into her room for testing purposes, which Alice would immediately stuff into her storage Perk before going back to sleep. Sadly, after two days, none of the enchanting materials so far had met her needs. Her progress in creating a prototype enchantment setup, however, had made some progress. As long as Alice mixed in a pure mana enchanting material that could remember at least 3 instructions, the material was able to locate the human body, refine that to find specifically large clumps of mana inside of the body, and then confine one ‘cluster’ of mana for the rest of an enchantment to work on. In other words, the ‘isolate’ part of her enchantment was now working properly.

She just needed to figure out how to locate the correct class each time and ignore other class fractals. And then she needed to get the actual filtration part of the enchantment working… but she was making progress. Right now her enchantment latched on to the nearest class fractal, which was obviously a problem. But she was getting closer to a working prototype.

The [Adventurer] who had claimed to know the location of the tree bark Alice wanted had come through, unlike the search for filtration mana enchanting materials. There was a decently large grove of trees about three hours away from the city, which was practically filled with the bark Alice had wanted. While it was a bit of a long walk, the bark was plentiful enough that it could easily meet Alice’s needs for the future. Even if the [Adventurers] of Cyra tried to focus on sustainable harvesting, the section of trees could probably last a year or two, and by that time, Alice hoped that she would have resolved the crisis or found a better source of materials.

As Alice was thinking about enchanting materials, she heard someone gently but firmly rap on her door. Alice frowned, and opened it. On the other side of the door, she saw the [Maid] Ellia, standing there and looking anxious.

“Lady Alice, honored Immortal Ethan and Lady Illa request your presence,” she said. “It’s an emergency. A large swarm of monsters is attacking the city walls.”

 

 

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