As soon as the battle was over.. Zhou brought the female ‘Traveler’ and I back to the village. By the time we reached the village, the sun was setting already.
I went back to the well to rinse myself clean and also get rid of the fatigue. Zhou had set up a personal tent for me and told me that I could rest in there while he gave the new ‘Traveler’ the same talk as he did for me.
After changing my clothes, that was also provided by the couple, I entered my own personal tent. It wasn’t big since it was only meant for a single person. The tent was triangular-shaped. It was made out of the same felt used for the huts but there were only four bamboos to support the tent by crisscrossing over each other to form a triangular stack.
Inside, there was a small bed on the left with my old clothes and pouch, nicely folded on top and thick blankets next to it to go through the cold night. There was a cushion on the ground next to the bed. In front of that cushion was my dinner.
I sat on the cushion and examined the food provided in front of me. Cooked meat that looked to be from a small animal, most likely hunted in the forest nearby; a bowl of hot soup with vegetables in it; another bowl filled with the same fruits I had earlier today; and an empty cup.
Before I could question why the cup was empty, The felt door was pulled open and Elka walked into the room with a small container. As soon as she gave a quick bow, she walked towards me, sat on the ground next to me, picked up the cup and poured tea from the container into the cup.
“Here, drink this. It helps with fatigue.”
After I said my thanks. I drank the refreshing tea from the cup that was handed to me and enjoyed the dinner given to me.
The food was great. The meat was juicy, even though some parts were overcooked and some were still red. Besides, it wasn’t my place to be picky after all. The soup was refreshing as it flushed down all the oil in my mouth. The fruits were as tasty as I could remember. Overall, it was a well-balanced, tasty meal.
After I finished my meal, I once again thanked Elka for the meal. She gave me another warm smile as she continued to stay by my side, most likely to keep me company while Zhou was busy handling another issue on his side of things.
As I was thinking of ways to start a conversation with Elka, I was then reminded by the words of Zhou as we travelled back to the village. He said that I should have gained some experiences and levels after battling the demon wolves’ pack leader. And so as if I was trying to avoid interacting with anyone, I grabbed the pouch from the bed and grabbed my ‘Status Card’.
As I felt the ‘Status Card’ in my hand, I realized it was made with paper coated in wax, probably to keep it waterproof. It was brown in colour but shiny towards the point it almost looked like silver. However, what bothered me was that nothing happened as I picked up the card. There was no glow, unlike the time when I first grabbed hold of it. No matter how I flicked it or turned it around, nothing changed.
Elka started to giggle as she saw the hilarious motion I did. It would seem that I couldn’t avoid not needing a conversation anymore.
“Er… M-Miss Elka…”
“Just Elka is fine.” She said with a tint of laughter still remaining in her voice.
“T-Then… E-Elka… ”
“Why is my ‘Status Card’ not reacting like how it reacted earlier today.”
“Upon receiving a brand new ‘Status Card’, the card will automatically detect your mana and register itself onto the card. From then on, you would need to channel your own mana to activate it. It’s a form of authentication, to prevent other people from activating the card without permission.”
“I see. Er… can I ask you another question?”
“How do I ‘channel my mana’?”
Elka then sat behind me and hugged me.
Before I could properly feel the lady warmth of her body pressed against my back, She then placed her hands on my hands. After that, she leaned forward to get her head as close to mine while she explained the steps softly into my ears.
“Mana is the energy of one’s life. Just like your soul, without it, you will just be an empty shell. Now I want you to close your eyes.”
The words coming out from her mouth felt like whispers and it sent shivers down to my spine. It didn’t feel seductive but the thought of having someone of the opposite gender being so close to me made me feel even more panicky than facing the demon wolves.
There was no way I could feel calm and just close my eyes. This was a lady at her prime age, hugging me from behind. Not only that, this was a beautiful lady, having far different facial and bodily characteristics than any of the other female villagers.
And to add on, I was at a young age. A young boy who was still confused about the world going around him and would just about be curious of everything! Especially women!
With that said, I mustered all my strength, took a big breath and closed my eyes.
And with that, I had cleared the toughest of the toughest mission I had to do that day.
“Can you feel the flow of energy coursing around your body? A warm energy that travels around your body from your heart to your body and then back to your heart.”
As she said those words, I felt a sense of warmth coming from my heart. It wasn’t as if my blood was boiling from the sensational embrace, the warmth was calming and relaxed. As if gentle waves were clashing towards each other inside my body. I could then feel streams of that very warmth travel towards my chest and eventually, I could feel my entire body covered in the very same warmth.
“Now, I want you to channel that energy and focus it onto your hands. Remember to breathe normally and stay relaxed.”
As crazy as it sounded to me, I tried to do just that. With my eyes still closed, I focused on the energy coursing throughout my body onto my hands. I imagined the warmth I felt was flowing only towards my hands. I could feel that warmth slowly accumulating around my hands as it grew warmer.
“You can open your eyes now.”
As soon as Elka whispered those words into my ears, I opened my eyes. The first thing I noticed was that the entirety of the tent was glowing. The glow was yellow in colour and was bright enough to enlighten the entire camp. Upon closer observations, I noticed it wasn’t the room that was glowing, but Elka.
I muttered out an incomprehensible sound from my mouth as I continued to be mesmerized by the atmosphere around me. Fragments and slivers of light slowly disperse out of her body. Her hair was flowing in the air as if gravity and no effect on them. Her dress fluttered gracefully as if dancing along with the streams of light. I may be utterly shocked by the view that was happening in front of me, but Elka’s gentle smile kept me in comfort.
For a cold night, the room had a certain feeling of warmth that I could only explain it as balance. It wasn’t warm and it wasn’t cold either, there was a certain balance between them as if instead of fighting for their rights in the room, they compromised an understanding towards each other to remain present. That was the only way I could explain such a complicated but cosy atmosphere.
Elka said as she kept her eyes on the main issue. I turned my eyes back onto my hands and realized that the ‘Status Card’ in my hands was glowing too. The familiar fragments of light appeared around the card and slowly laid itself onto the card. After the usual spectacle, the ‘Status Card’ revealed my status and I could finally use it again.
The glow around me also started to dim down and eventually the room was back to its original state. Before I checked my status, I asked Elka about what the spectacle was about.
“Wh-What did you do?”
“I used a certain magic to amplify the sensitivity of your mana. New ‘Travelers’ had it hard when channelling mana for the first time so I thought this would help you. I-I did the same for Zhou when I first met him back when he was a new ‘Traveler’.”
As soon as she finished that last sentence, she raised her finger and gently stroked her cheek, as if trying to hide her blush and embarrassment. It was then I finally understood a little bit about Zhou and her relationship during their early days.
“I’m sorry if it made you feel uncomfortable.”
“N-No. P-Please don’t be. I really do appreciate your efforts. I don’t know much about magic or any of these things happening around me. Actually, if anything. Can you teach me how to use the ‘Status Card’?” I said as I bowed my head.
She then got up and moved next to me. She then raised her hand and guided me through the contents of my ‘Status Card’.
“First off, on the top left is your <Level> status. <Level> represents your overall accumulated experience and determines your overall strength. Experience is usually gained from battling. Currently, you are Level 4. Apparently your last battle gave you two levels instead of one because you managed to defeat an opponent that was a lot stronger than you are. The stronger the opponent you battle against, the higher the experience you can gain upon victory.”
She then lowered her hand and pointed onto the words, <Skills> on my ‘Status Card’. Her speech continued as if it was a routine.
“This would be your <Skills> status. Skills are basically knowledge and things you can do, and different rank of skills allow a larger variety of abilities. There are two type of <Skills>. ‘Non-Combat Skills’ and ‘Combat Skills’.‘Non-Combat Skills’ are skills that are non-combat related. For example, the magic I’ve just used on you is a type of ‘Non-Combat Skill’ called <Mana Channeling>. ‘Combat Skills’ are skills that are combat-related. With that, kindly do me a favour and gently place your finger onto the <Skills> status box there.”
With that, I placed my finger onto the card. As soon as I did so, the <Skills> status box glowed in yellow. Another stream of light flowed out of the card and formed another box on top of the card. As soon as it was over, a separate rectangular-shaped status box overlaid on top of the ‘Status Card’. What’s written in the status box was as stated:
|<Sword Wield E> Ranked Up: <Sword Wield D>|
<Sword Wield D> Unlocked a New Skill: <One-Handed Sword Mastery E><Sword Wield D> Unlocked a New Skill: <Two-Handed Sword Mastery E><Survival E> Ranked Up: <Survival D>
<Survival D> Unlocked a New Skill: <Concentration E>
“Some skills will rank up when you have enough experience on them while some other skills require you to unlock them with skill points. Once ranking up the skills, there are chances for you to unlock new skills that branch out from those skills. Also, if you place your finger onto the skills, you will get to see what those skills mean.”
As soon as she said that, I got curious and immediately tried it out on my newly received skills. I hovered my finger on the <Concentration E> skill and immediately another light appeared and formed another overlaid information box.
The ability to remain focused during a battlefield.
Allows you to ignore a small amount of injury while battling or casting a spell.
“This looks pretty fun actually.”
“If you think this is fun, wait till you see the rest.”
“There is more?”
I have gotten even more curious and more invested in what the ‘Status Card’ can do. I had totally forgotten about the distance between me and Elka as I talked to her without a care of proper etiquette. Elka didn’t seem to mind as she continued to guide me through. She continued her explanation after telling me to get rid of the light box and focus back on the ‘Status Card’ itself.
“Right below the <Skills> status box will be the <Skill Points> status box, It states how many more unallocated skill points you have left. Only 1 skill point can be earned per level. And because you are Level 4 and had yet to allocate any of them, you have 3 unallocated skill points. To allocate them, you simply have to tap on it and then you are given the options to allocate the skills.”
And so I did. As soon as I tapped on the <Skill Points> status box. A window appeared along with a list of skills I can obtain.
At least, it was meant to be a list of skills. However, there was only a single selection in the section.
“Well, I’m not surprised. You have yet to experience anything else at the moment. Why not just unlock that skill first? If anything, it is a compulsory skill for your everyday life here.”
“If you say so.”
Before Elka could finish her warning, I had already tapped onto the <Mana Channeling> skill. As soon as I selected the skill, what was supposed to be a small window suddenly expanded.
Countless rivers of light suddenly exploded out of the box. The small box had now become a long stream of light and rapidly formed words inside the box. The list went on as words continued to form endlessly. I was amazed by the spectacle but I was also shocked and wondered what was going on with my ‘Status Card’.
“W-What’s going on?!” I said as I pulled my face away from the brightly shined card.
“As I have said, mana is the energy of one’s life. It is also the source of magic. Magic cannot be cast without the basic skill, <Mana Channelling>. So as soon as you unlock that skill…”
“I have unlocked all the Magic skills.”
After what felt like a long time had passed, the stream of light had ended and the huge list of magic that I could unlock was presented in front of me.
“Fire Magic, Water Magic, Earth, Wind, Lightning, Ice, Light …. The list goes on.”
“Well, as important as <Mana Channelling> is, the rest of the magic skills are up to you. However, a piece of advice from someone who once worked closely with ‘Travelers’, you would prefer to focus on a few types of magic rather than a huge variety. A master of one is better than a jack of all trades after all.”
With the overwhelming list of magic in front of me, I couldn’t bear to spend my hours pondering on which skills to pick. I decided to just close the window and save my skill points for when I truly needed it.
“Wise choice,” Elka said as she must have realised my train of thoughts. “Now moving on to the last box, that would be your <Title> status box. Titles are essentially a name of a certain profession given to you, like a blessing. They worked differently as skills as titles allowed you to receive more than just skills. A certain title allows you to go to certain places or do certain things that normal people can’t do. It’s a bit hard to describe without experiencing it. Anyways, that’s all there is to know about a ‘Status Card’. I hope my explanation wasn’t too hard to understand.”
After realizing I have no titles as of then, I gave Elka my wholehearted appreciation along with a proper bow.
“Thank you so much, Elka. Your explanation was perfect. For someone who doesn’t know a single thing about this world, I understood each and every one of your words.”
“That’s a relief.”
“Which begs the question…”
“How did you know about ‘Travelers’?”