After the end of their shift, Vastor and Thorman went back to their quarters.
Vastor waited until they were alone, before expressing his hilarity.
Thorman, old friend, I would have never imagined you had it in you.
Helping your student like that.
Technically, that\'s against the rules. Vastor tone of fake indignation wouldn\'t have fooled a deaf man.
I did no such a thing.
I just used the spells that I considered best for the situation at hand.
If she ended up copying me, how is that my fault Are you going to report me It was a rhetoric question, Thorman already knew the answer.
Are you kidding me Your student ended up saving mine.
The least I could do is gifting you that bottle of 50 years aged Blue Flame you keep eyeing every time you enter into my office.
I\'m glad you loosened the stick up your a*s.
In an underground maze, several kilometres away from the castle, another kind of conversation was taking place.
After slaughtering its way through the nest, Scarlett was facing the Brood Mother.
It was the creature responsible for the abnormal spawn rate of the Clackers.
Every single one of them was one of her children.
Its abdomen was that of a giant spider, with eight long longs, but in the place of the head there was a human-like figure.
It was like someone had attached a human, starting from the thighs, to the spider body.
But it was a human with no distinctive features, its chitinous skin was grey, the hands had unnaturally long fingers ending in razor-sharp claws.
The head had eight eyes, and a long slit were the mouth was supposed to be, allowing it to speak.
[Look, I\'m tired of playing hide and seek.
I only came here because I know you are smart enough to understand me, and because I hate senseless destruction.] Scarlett was quite angry from the repeated assaults it had suffered along the way.
They had no effect except wasting Scarlett\'s time.
[What do you want, oh mighty ruler] The Mother\'s voice was low and hoarse, every word sounded more coughed rather than spoken.
Yet it managed to laugh, sneering at the Scorpicore claimed title.
[Stop laying so many eggs.
Your children are a plague for the forest, you have already invaded other\'s territories.
I won\'t repeat myself a second time.]
The Brood Mother chuckled again.
[It\'s that so Then I challenge you, oh ruler.
The forest needs a new guiding hand…]
Scarlett scoffed, it had heard that speech countless times, either from humans or magical beasts.
Challenge accepted.] The conversation was cut short, much to Mother\'s annoyance.
Violating all the rules of the challenge, the Brood Mother attacked without notice, making the fully developed Clackers that guarded the throne room, each the size of a bull, coordinate with its attack.
The Scorpicore\'s roar struck in two waves.
The first was a cold one, turning the whole underground nest in a frozen wasteland.
The second was an ultrasonic one, that turned the newly formed ice sculptures in countless shattered pieces.
[Oh! I won.
Big surprise! Long live to me.] Sad for having no witness of its crushing victory, Scarlett called Linjos.
The Clackers\' issue is solved.
With the Brood Mother dead, the survivors will go into hiding until another comes up.
Let\'s hope the next one will have more brains than brawns.
Thanks for solving the matter so quickly. Linjos replied.
What do you want in return
- I like this human. Scarlett thought.
Always saying please and thank you, instead of treating me like a tool, like his predecessors did.
I\'ll make sure he keeps his position. -
Let\'s just say you owe me one.
What\'s the survival rate of your cubs
Better than the previous years, around 50% of the groups made it through the first day.
It\'s time to kick things up a notch.
Back in the cave, Lith\'s group was finishing breakfast and planning the rest of the day.
Everyone had much appreciated Visen creating a side-cave bathroom.
Despite everything was supposed to be a team effort, not all of them could be executed properly in front of others.
With so many mouths to feed, Lith\'s stash wouldn\'t last more than three more days.
Using magic burned a lot of calories, it exhausted both the body and the mind.
Thank the gods you ended up in my group. Belia said gnawing away the last shred of meat from the bones.
After fasting for a whole day, I would have either surrendered or eaten Visen.
Everyone at the table laughed, but Lith.
Why so glum, mate And seriously, why do you keep so much food on yourself Visen asked.
Not that I\'m complaining!
Lith glared for a long moment, before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath.
- We are not \'mates\', lucky b*stard. –
In order, not glum, envious.
Because clearly none of you has ever starved.
And the second answer is linked to the first.
When you suffer from hunger as long as I did, you do not feel safe unless you have some food with you at all times.
Visen realized his blunder and tried to apologize, but Lith dismissed everything as an accident, proceeding to explain what they could expect from magical beasts.
After he gave them all the key points from his experience, there were still a few things left to say.
Never underestimate a magical beast.
They may be stuck with just two elements, but they can use them in ways we can only imagine.
Their casting time is incredibly fast, and to make things worse, our physical prowess is nothing compared to them.
They need just one hit to incapacitate us, or worse.
My advice is to always keep your distance, and never play the game like they expect us to.
Doesn\'t that mean that we are already screwed We have already lost our biggest hitter. Visen wasn\'t much of an optimist about the situation, and neither was Belia.
We have lost only one member.
Our aim is to survive, not to beat them all into submission. After the previous day, Phloria had shed away most of her insecurities, becoming more decisive.
The main problem is, that after pondering a lot about it, I came to the conclusion that splitting up was a mistake.
This is a group exercise, staying in a cave isn\'t getting us anywhere.
You two could have helped us a lot yesterday.
Not only Mirna could have been saved, but you would have gained battle experience.
After fighting the Clackers, I feel I have grown a lot as a Mage Knight.
None of us will truly understand his own abilities without putting them to the test.
Agreed. Lith chimed in.
That\'s the reason why I taught you about how to use first magic in the wilderness and about magical beasts.
- That, and because otherwise you would fall without teaching me nothing.
Mage Knight\'s spells are something I have to replicate ASAP.
I can\'t wait to see what those two are capable of.
Plus, I discovered a huge hole in my toolkit.
I have to devise something against a swarm of small enemies.
And what about a swarm of big enemies Solus asked.
In that case, my only option is to run away. –
Also, I would like to propose Phloria as team leader.
For an unexperienced unit like ours, defence is more important than offence.
Her skillset provides us the best options to stall and regroup.
Not to mention yesterday she proved herself.
It\'s an odd way to say: \'thank you for saving my a*s\'. She replied.
If we are keeping a score, I saved yours twice.
First from the Cingy, then from the Ry.
You are still an a*s short from getting the right to brag. He rebutted with one of his very few charming smiles.
The forced cohabitation, coupled with facing so many dangers together, had helped the group to develop camaraderie.
Despite all the hardships, Phloria was starting to enjoy their situation.
It was the first time since coming to the academy, that she was being looked up for her skill, not her noble title.
Her teammates didn\'t hope for her to fail to feel better about themselves, they were counting on her.
Lith, instead, wasn\'t touched at all.
For him it was just a temporary setback, something he had to cope with, exploiting that time to regain his people skills.
He knew that over time, his edgelord demeanour would do him more harm than good.
The world was big and unknown, he needed to play by the rules of society and avoid useless conflicts.
In the grand scheme of his plans, one week was barely a rehearsal.
No one objected to Lith proposal, he had already gained their respect.
After seeing Phloria carrying him barely conscious, and listening to their story, Visen and Belia needed no more proof of her valour.
Before setting out of here, here\'s my orders.
Visen, you\'ll pair up with Lith, is better to keep attack and defence of each unit balanced.
I\'ll take care of Belia.
Second, switch whatever you have in your magic storing rings with your best last resort spells.
So far, nothing else worked, and things go downhill pretty fast.
Having learned from his past mistakes, Lith had already prepared, so he used that time to pass something from his pocket dimension to Phloria\'s, leaving her dazed.
There something definitely wrong with your head. She said looking at his cold smile, while he was explaining his idea.
But that\'s so wrong to be good.
The morning hunt did go much better than the previous day.
By going the opposite direction of the Clackers\' nest, they found much more wildlife.
Lith managed to disguise multiple times spirit magic with air magic, claiming quite a catch.
Phloria helped too, while Belia and Visen focused on finding edible plants and fruits, their hunting skills were zero, and the others couldn\'t waste the precious light time teaching them.
Moving around for so long in the forest, it took Sentar only a few hours to find them and report their position.
[Do I have to announce myself and act alone like an idiot, again]
Making mistakes on purpose didn\'t upset the Cron, unless they ended up losing.
New day, new rules.
Only one of you has to be spotted, the others can lay low and coordinate their attacks with you.] Scarlett replied.
[One glove is off, let\'s get round two started!]