Halfway There

Chapter 15 : Halfway There

The two quickly got dressed, Katrin in her starter Scribe’s gear and Agni in her Beginner’s gear. In the short time that Agni had been a woman she still hadn’t quite gotten used to baring her skin. The other women seemed to do so effortlessly, naturally especially around each other. Agni still had reservations which is why when she placed on the gear she felt exposed.

In order to remedy this thinking Agni simply told herself it would help her with magic (which was true). The chest plate essentially only covered her breasts and a few centimetres downward of her rib cage. Her abdomen was largely exposed as were her thighs and arms. There was no helmet to speak of, Agni assumed because of her horns.

“You look great Agni!” Katrin commented as she glanced from head to toe. Agni could feel the sensation of bashfulness come over her but she was genuinely happy in the same breath.

“Thanks!” Agni replied, beaming.

“This must be the power of compliments…” Agni thought to herself. She’d most likely have never reacted that way as a man, still it was nice.

Having gotten dressed the two turned and glanced back at the Tabernacle area. They had only been there for a short time but it was the first place they had come to know. They felt somewhat of an attachment to it–and Wayla.

Agni’s mind spiraled as she thought back to the incident in the hut. As she thought back to the stinging sensation of slaps against her skin Agni couldn’t help but feel her p**** quiver.

“Did I really like it that much?” She thought to herself as she followed Katrin out of the Tabernacle. The path leading out was always known to them, in fact Wayla made sure to explain it on the first day. They also knew that once they left, they wouldn’t be able to return. This wasn’t due to Wayla being a hard ass, rather the Tabernacle was warded by a barrier spell. It kept anyone from entering, but people could freely leave. The only person who could persist in the Tabernacle longer than 48 hours was the Tabernacle guardian, in this case Wayla.

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A few minutes after setting out down the southern path leaving out of the Wilderness Tabernacle the pair could feel the air around them shift. It was a strange sensation as Agni noted, things simply no longer felt “holy”. This was the moment they stepped out of the barrier.

“Wait.” Katrin said suddenly as she turned around and extended her hand. Eventually her finger tips bumped into something which caused the air to ripple. It looked like transparent silk paired with rippling on the surface of water.

“So this is the Tabernacle Warding Barrier. Interesting.” Katrin said before turning to face Agni with a smile.

“Okay, let’s go!”

Katrin was in very high spirits. Agni on the other hand couldn’t help but worry. It was around five in the afternoon at this point. Within three hours max darkness would be upon them. How far could they actually get in the dark and didn’t the forest get more dangerous after sunset? She couldn’t help worrying about the “what ifs” of the situation.

It seemed Katrin picked up on Agni’s worry because she started to talk about various things related to the forest.

“For the most part, Grimlock only inhabit areas where humanoids do not dwell. They are like normal animals in that sense. This only holds true for the outside world, however.”

“Outside world?” Agni was somewhat confused.

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“Mhm. In Adventia, there are portals to ‘inner’ worlds. These are the worlds where Grimlock mainly exist as a dominant force. The ‘outer world’ refers to the place we are in now and though Grimlock exist here, they aren’t nearly as powerful or numerous as one would find in the inner worlds.”

“That’s good..” Agni said to herself as she thought, “Maybe I should read the Lore menu a bit more..”

“Oh! Before I forget!” Katrin said as she stopped and opened her Systema. Agni stood watching her, puzzled, until a prompt appeared before her eyes.

[Katrin, Level 3 Scribe has invited you to join her party. Do you accept? Y/N]

After accepting Katrin’s invite Agni was pleased to discover that some of Katrin’s info appeared in her HUD — namely her health and mana bar.

“How are you already at level 3?” Agni asked.

“He he he.” Katrin chuckled proudly before she added, “Some of the other girls were at level five before they left.”

“What? No way.” Agni said. Suddenly she felt as if she was only skating by.

“Yea. It turns out that as you gain levels your Systema upgrades as well. At level three you can unlock the party feature. This lets you share any experience gained with your party members as long as they are within twenty five levels of difference.”

At this point Agni was beginning to wonder what she’d do without Katrin. She seemed so much more knowledgeable about the world despite having just arrived a couple of days ago. By comparison Agni was lacking on all accounts.

Katrin continued explaining various things as they walked for the next hour and a half. Judging by the distance they’d covered and their location on the map they had only made it one sixth of the way to Grenvale. This put the distance estimated at around 28 kilometers from the Tabernacle to Grenvale.

Agni wasn’t really feeling the fact that she might need to sleep out in the open. In fact the later in the day it got, the more apprehension filled her. She had a general sense of unease that perhaps something bad would happen though she couldn’t rightly place this thought. It was a feeling more than anything, thus she decided to push the idea out of her mind.

Instead Agni decided to check out her Status since leveling up–something she’d neglected to do earlier in the day.

[Agni Heartfyre][Age : 18][Class : Succubus Lvl : 1][Adv. Tier : 0 ][Health : 74/74][Mana : 30/30][Strength : 5 (7)][Agility : 9 (12)][Speed : 4][Soul : 11][Charm : 14]

Inspired by Katrin’s knowledge of the system Agni also decided to take a look at the Lore menu. She clicked on the first thing that caught her interest, namely the ‘Leveling’ Entry.

[Leveling up increases your stats by a predetermined amount called ‘Class Growth’. Class Growth Info can be viewed from the Growth menu. Each level acquired in Rank 0 awards the player with level points. These points can be distributed to improve the player in various ways.]

“That sounds interesting.” Agni thought as she then moved down to the ‘Level Points’ entry.

[Level Points are special points acquired by low rank adventurers (Rank 0 only). Level points can be used in two ways: 1) To directly increase a stat. This costs 2 Level points and will automatically improve any stat to which it is applied. 2) Growth increase. By visiting the Growth menu, an adventurer can expend 10 Level points to increase the growth value of any stat.]

“That’s pretty nice. Hmm, and there’s 999 levels? That’s a lot of increases. Oh– but wait.” Agni said as she thought about what she’d just read.

“This only applies to Rank 0 levels. Let’s see…Rank 0 levels are levels 1 through 99.”

“Katrin, how are you planning to spend your level points?” Agni asked.

“I haven’t thought about it–yet. I know a few of the girls used theirs immediately. But I’m torn between long term gains and short term gains.”

“So essentially she’s wondering the same thing I am…whether it would be more beneficial to use them now, or gain better benefits over time. Hmm..” Agni thought to herself.

Assuming that the level points worked the way she believed them to, she could spend 10 Level points to raise the amount of speed she acquired with each level up or outright increase a stat immediately. Logically, you’d get more stats in the long run by using method 1, but considering you would only be able to gather a little more than a hundred Level Points in Rank 0, that meant you could also only raise your growth rates a maximum of ten times.

Agni wondered if there was a limit, for example if she could raise her health growth rate ten times in a row. The pair walked undisturbed for an even longer period of time and soon darkness was upon them. As Agni suspected her paranoia was heightened with the coming of nightfall. They didn’t have to worry about light, as Agni managed to make a torch with an old tree branch and her fire magic but the forest seemed especially dark and foreboding as they continued along.

“Maybe we should stop and set up camp?” Agni suggested. The path they were on was coming to a small circular clearing which might be ideal for tents. She’d suddenly grown tired, most likely due to lack of sleep from the night prior.

“M-maybe you’re r-right..” Katrin stuttered as she clung to Agni’s free arm. She’d been like this for the past thirty minutes now, clutching to Agni furiously and jumping at the distant sounds in the darkness.

Agni normally wouldn’t have suggested stopping, after all they were almost halfway there at this point. They’d make it by midnight or possibly sooner but with Katrin’s slowed pace and fatigue setting in Agni decided against it.

“You said this area is relatively safe right? So it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Katrin nodded as she looked around though it wasn’t all that convincing.

“I may have to carry her piggyback if she gets overwhelmed…” Agni thought to herself as they continued further up the path to the nearby clearing.

“I’ll start a fire.” Agni said as she set about the work of gathering firewood. Katrin nodded as she held a torch at the ready, gazing around for any sign of trouble. It was less than five minutes before trouble found them. Agni had managed to gather quite a few branches by this point when she heard Katrin’s voice call out her name.

“Agni! Agni!” Katrin’s voice was a weird mixture of excitement and terror as she practically ran towards Agni.

“What? What’s wrong?” Agni asked as Katrin dropped her torch and grabbed Agni by the arm.

“Grimlock!” Katrin said as she pointed towards the center of the clearing. There amidst the flickering light of the dying torch was a creature which resembled a buck. It’s horns were massive, branching outwards in various directions as it glowered in their direction. A spark of electrical energy could be seen coursing through its horns as it began to charge towards them.

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