Chapter 39: Farro Way

After Nuoda left, I began to walk around town, making sure to take note of my surroundings. I hadn’t really noticed it before, perhaps because I had been too occupied with my training and the constant dying that came with it, but there were quite a lot of people watching me. I mean… even more than normally watching a half-orc.

Several of these gazes came from NPCs or Fallen, like the city’s guards that I would often talk with during my runs back to the school. However, there were quite a few that came from active players, or those whose foreheads were obscured and I could only assume were players. 

With a grunt, I walked to the bank to retrieve enough gold for a teleport to Aureakeep. When I asked about the price, my brow twitched at the twenty gold needed. Thankfully, the bank had records of these things on hand, so I didn’t need to run back and forth.

Well, at least it won’t be easy for them to follow me if they need to raise this kind of money. I thought to myself as I walked through the streets, towards the center of town. I had planned to start wearing my armor full-time after Kelly left, but thankfully Nuoda got to me first. Aside from Hammerhead, nobody knew what my new equipment looked like, so between that and my Disguise skill, I should be able to blend in nicely.

Off to the side of the city’s center was the teleportation hall. When I walked in, I found the place rather idle, no doubt because of the lack of people who could properly afford these prices. Of course, that meant that a customer was all the more noticeable, leading to a human male with short, black hair to walk over to me and smile. “Are you here to hire our services today, sir?” He asked, to which I nodded my head.

“That’s right. I need to get to Aureakeep, and I was told that the destination was available from here.” When I said that, his smile widened further.

“Quite right that it is. We have a nexus crystal already charged, and one of our guides can see you through. Were you already informed on the price?” He asked, and a window appeared in front of me, informing me that I was being charged twenty gold.

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I confirmed the charge with a nod, watching the money disappear from my inventory. “Excellent. Right this way, please.” He said, leading my back through a long hallway, where we took the first door on the right. Inside, there was a platform covered with arcane inscriptions, and a pedestal holding a large, blue crystal sitting in the center. “The guide will be along shortly to help you to your destination.”

After he said that, the attendant bowed, turning to leave the room. Now that I was alone, this was the best time for me to change appearances. Focusing, I caused my hair and eyes to both turn a bright red. This type of aesthetic was something often popular among players. Normally, I’d shy away from it to avoid attracting attention, but right now what I wanted was nothing other than to make people aware that I did not look like the description given for me.

Once my hair and eyes were done, I shortened and rounded my ears to look less elvish and more human. Aside from my brand, this was the most that I could achieve with my current skill level. Besides, the attendant might have told the guide that’s coming that I was a Fallen, so I couldn’t change that to be the mark of an active player. That was something that I could work out after I arrived in Aureakeep. So, I simply equipped my new armor and waited.

All in all, I was left waiting for about five minutes before the door opened again. The woman that walked in was an elf with long, blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing a loose-fitting white robe. “My name is Lorra, it’s a pleasure to serve as your guide for today.” She said with a low bow.

“Likewise.” I said, smiling without giving my own name. She didn’t seem to mind this, walking over towards the crystal.

“I was told that you’ll be visiting Aureakeep today?” She asked, to which I nodded my head. “The destination isn’t far, almost one hundred and fifty kilometers. We should be able to have you there in just a moment.”

Once she arrived in front of the pedestal, she extended both of her hands out, placing them in front of the crystal. I could feel the fluctuations of power as she resonated with the large gem, and the space around us felt as if it was twisting. Despite trying my best to stay composed, I almost stumbled to the ground from the shifting sensations.

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And then, just like that, it was done. Lorra wiped her brow and smiled professionally at me. “And we’re here. Don’t worry about the vertigo. It’s common for people that aren’t used to teleportation rooms.”

“We’ve arrived at Aureakeep?” I asked, glancing towards the door.

“That’s right, sir. In order to facilitate a clean transfer, the room is teleported along with its contents to a specially prepared destination room on the other side.” Lorra gestured to the door, and I nodded my head as I turned to leave. Once my back was facing her, I shifted my brand to be that of an active player. As of this moment, my disguise was officially complete.

Without looking back, I waved my hand. “Thanks for the lift.” I said as I left the room. Sure enough, the hallway looked different on the other side of the door. When facing the hallway from the entrance, we would now be on the left, as opposed to the right. As I left the building, nobody paid any special attention to me, aside from the local attendant thanking me for my patronage.

Outside of the building, I was able to get my first look at Aureakeep. The city was large, but I could still see thick, fortress walls surrounding the city. At the same time, lights seemed to shimmer in the northern and western sky. Looking around, I found that there were not very many players in the area, or even many chosen.

That caused me to arch my brow, and I walked over to find a guard. “Pardon me, but may I ask a question, if you are free for the moment?”

The guard originally looked at me in annoyance, before looking more respectful when he saw my forehead. Thankfully, I didn’t have my helmet on at the moment, because I wanted people to see my hair and eyes. “Of course, player. What can I help you with?”

“I just arrived via teleport, and I’m not noticing many other players here. Is something wrong with the city?” When I asked that, the guard blinked in confusion.

“I suppose you haven’t heard. There’s nothing particularly wrong. We’re just a higher level city than most players can handle. When they first appeared, they tried to go out and fight the local monsters, only to lock themselves inside the city later.” There was a brief look of amusement on the guard’s face when he said that, though he quickly hid it.

“Anyways. Those that are left are mostly crafters and merchants. The high level players that come here generally head out during the day, and don’t return until nightfall. Is there anything else?” The guard asked, and I thought about it for a moment.

“What type of skills do the local dungeons specialize in?” If I was going to be passing through here anyways, I might as well see if there was anything useful to me.

This time, the guard had an easy answer for me. “We have two main dungeons under control of the local lord. One specializes in illusion magic, and the other in water magic. If you’ve arrived here to head west, I would recommend learning some water magic before you go.”

“Why’s that?” I furrowed my brow in confusion when he made that suggestion. I wouldn’t be against learning water magic. It was using it that was the problem.

“The nearest town is a hundred kilometers away, and the road isn’t regularly patrolled, so there are likely to be monsters roaming it. You’ll need plenty of water if you are wanting to travel that far.”

“Can you even drink water made from magic?” I asked in surprise, and the guard let out a light laugh.

“Not water made with attack magic. However, there is a magic that drops from the nearby dungeon that players have nicknamed Lifestyle magic. The three spells are Create Water, Clean, and Purify. If you want to buy them from the shop, they cost about half a gold in total.”

My brow twitched slightly when I heard this. Although these were incredibly minor spells, they would be of immense help in a long journey. “Don’t suppose there’s a Create Food spell?” I asked with a bitter smile, causing the guard to chuckle.

“Afraid there’s nothing of the sort. Still, you look like you’ve got a good arm on you. You shouldn’t have any trouble when it comes to hunting your own dinners.”

I let out a sigh, nodding my head. “In that case, can I get directions to the skill shop? Also, you said that there were crafter players here. Do any of them have a shop that you can direct me to?”

Thankfully, the guard was able to give me directions to both stores. From the skill shop, I purchased the three skills that the guard had recommended. Afterwards, from the player shop, I purchased a simple wand with three skill slots. Although useful, there was no point in putting those three basic water spells on a piece of gear that I will be actively using. It was better to put it on something that I could just pull out of my inventory to use as needed.

Once I left the city, I saw the poorly maintained road to the west, and activated my Stealth skill to move off to the side of the street. It was time to enchant my wand, and I gritted my teeth to prepare for the process.

What I was not prepared for was just how easy it was. There was still undeniably pain beneath the surface of my skin with each enchantment, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle just by gritting my teeth. It seemed that these one-star skills were really so weak that their output wasn’t enough to cause major repercussions with my traits…

With that out of the way, I began walking to the west, ready to officially leave Athua. Along the way, I confirmed the local monsters, mostly water elementals and dryads. They didn’t seem to pay any attention to me as I walked past them under stealth.

Soon into my journey, as I was passing by a roaming group of dryads, a prompt appeared in front of me, informing me that my Stealth skill had leveled up. My eyes widened slightly, knowing that this was what I had been waiting for. With this, my Stealth skill was ready to fuse with my Empty Body skill, which I had tirelessly trained in my nearly non-stop combat against Kelly.

Looking around, I noted that there wasn’t a very good spot to evolve the skills nearby, as the wandering monsters could be seen in abundance. Gritting my teeth, I pressed forward, walking down the road until I spotted a large tree that I could hide behind. Once behind the tree, I focused on the prompt to fuse the two skills.

New Skill Acquired!

Ghost-X (Martial – 10☆): Fused from Stealth and Empty Body. Allows the user to enter Stealth, and removes any trace of their presence. Although not a true invisibility, the user can often disappear in front of an active witness.

Mana Burden: 0/sec. Level: 1(0%)

I felt a wide grin come across my face when I saw this skill, immediately activating it. I looked down at my hand, seeing what appeared to be translucent smoke coming off of my skin. This was not only a third-tier stealth skill, but a fusion one at that.

Why am I becoming more and more of an assassin? I thought to myself, before quickly shaking my head. Without hesitation, I took a screenshot of the skill’s description, as well as the effect that it had on my hand, and sent the two images to Diane, who quickly responded.

Where do you get Empty Body? She asked, and I reported that it was the evolved form of the Light Step skill. I could already tell that this was her next major goal, and a grin appeared on my face.

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