Chapter 10 – Motives
What surprised Lotus the most was just how weak Dawn could be. It wasn’t just her level, which had risen substantially during the week they trained in the forest together, but all her actions and attacks seemed to lack impact. That she didn’t seem even close to noticing was a quality that Lotus found endearing. Within the first hour together, Dawn’s pride gave in and she asked Lotus to teach her the skills she wanted; a request Lotus had no problems with at all. What Lotus found most strange about that was that there wasn’t much of a difference between when she was pretending to be weak, and her normal behaviour. Until she realised it herself, Lotus wasn’t going to point it out.
Strangely enough, the attack Dawn used least seemed to be her most effective. Her voice skill was really powerful. From what she had read on the forums, it could even be used to command lower level monsters to simply die. The exact conditions for that command to work didn’t seem to be known, but as a general rule, the greater the level gap the higher the success rate. Despite that ability being so powerful, Dawn seemed to only use it to make material for crystal casting.
One day as they were traveling near the town side of the forest, they saw a knight fighting a giant. Through inspect, Lotus could see there were a lot of unique things about that player. They had the unique class, gallant knight, and two titles, Hero of the First Wave and Favoured of the 12th World. Furthermore he was a slightly higher level than Lotus and was completely equipped with quality items. Even without his name being displayed she would have recognised him as Roland Five. There were fan-pages on the forum dedicated to him.
The pair hid nearby and watched the fight progress. When the ground collapsed, they were disappointed that they couldn’t see the outcome. Peering down the hole they could see the situation he found himself in, but shrugged it off as not their problem. That was until Lotus noticed the blood the giant had left behind. That thick, jell-like ooze, it could only be a fire type elemental blood. Elemental blood was a high demand item since it was needed for nearly all advanced level crafting. For potions it replaced water as the base, for weapons it could treat wood and temper metal. It was even needed for ink in higher level books and scrolls. On top of which, it had a higher mana concentration then crystals, meaning a geomancer could cast with it without converting it to a crystal first. It was a powerful item and the giant had litters of it.
As the tiger-bear started to wear itself out, Lotus threw seeds down to it and used the druid spells rapid growth and strengthen plant to bind it. Following that, Dawn used voice to create a strong updraft that let them jump down safely. As they fell, Dawn used some of her electric crystals to stun the creature. While it was stunned, Lotus gave it a quick stab to the head and let her poisons finish it off.
After confirming that the creature was dead, the pair went to check on the fainted Roland. Seeing that his injuries were treatable by Dawn’s clone of herb lore, Lotus went to collect as much of the elemental blood as she could. Having filled a dozen vials with the thick liquid she stored them carefully in her bag, wrapped up in soft leaves. Since Dawn was taking some time with her treatment, Lotus decided to make lunch. Quickly checking the forum for the best way to cook tiger-bears, she found the meat turned tender in soups. Following that she took the utensils and vegetables from Dawn’s bag and started chopping them finely. With them in small pieces she placed a few nearby logs together and got Dawn to use voice to ignite them. With a strong fire instantly burning, she set a pot over it and browned the tiger-bear meat on it. She then filled it with water and a small amount of elemental blood. The vegetables were then added and the dish was left to cook.
Seeing that the meal was underway and her patient had been treated, Dawn started to carve the tiger-bear’s claws into daggers. They were a strong material and it seemed a waste not to do anything with them. They also took the creature’s pelt, since it looked like it would make a good blanket. After lunch was done and they had eaten, the pair cleaned the nearby resurrection shrine. While Dawn didn’t really care about them, Lotus felt like keeping them clean was something that the 13th world would like her to do.
Using the skill Communicate: Plant, and the rapid growth spell, Lotus convinced a nearby vine to grow into the shape of a ladder. She found, as she progressed through the skill levels, that plants really wanted to be talked to, and were very receptive to people that took care of them. Despite never having actually conversed with the world, the Communicate: World skill gradually went up levels as she used magic or cleaned natural shrines. As they left, they placed a couple daggers and a bit of the leftover soup with Roland. Lotus hoped that he would take helping him as payment for the elemental blood. Better yet, she hoped he didn’t notice it. Having a high level player hunting them seemed troublesome so she thought it was time to start leaving the forest.
For the remainder of that week they gathered whatever plants would still be useful when dried, or had a long storage life, and prepared more potent poisons with the elemental blood as a component. As they left the forest, at about midday, they saw a pair of suspicious brothers in a carriage. As they looked so seedy, Lotus and Dawn moved closer together and tried to avoid eye contact. When they passed safely and thought they had made it, one of them suddenly called out to them. Thankful he just seemed to want to know about some angels that were apparently living in the forest. Having no idea about that they told him and were thanked with a bottle of what seemed to be alcohol.
That night as they camped between a mountain and a desert, they drank the drink with diner, having used the spell detect poison to confirm it was safe. It was a lot stronger then Lotus thought it would be and she quickly drank more than she could handle. The next morning she woke up in Dawn’s bed with a hangover and a new scythe. Dawn, who was in the bed with her, gave her a sly, knowing smile and passed her some water.
Before she could get any answers about what happened, they could hear the sound of people approaching.