Chapter 6: The Day Of An Elven Magician
In the morning the first rays of sunshine fell through the large glass windows of a rather large cottage on the slope of a mountain. The warm beam of light slowly crept through the the room until it finally hit a lavish bed made out of dark wood engraved with delicate carvings.
When the glow finally touched the covers on top of the bed, the man resting under stirred slightly. Woken up by the warmth on his skin he brushed aside the silken blanket he had wrapped around himself the previous day and ran his hand through his long white beard matching the colour of the hair on his head.
After stretching his arms to get rid of the cold stiffness in his joints, Eldrin reached out for the linen robe flung above a nightstand made and carved with the same patterns as the bed.
In the same way his hair and beard were undoubtedly signs of old age, the hand grabbing the piece of clothing revealed wrinkles decorating his skin like a fine net of of spider webs.
The unadorned linen robe was standing out in a harsh contrast to the surrounding display of wealth, reminding Eldrin once again that the manor was not to be called his home. He lived here for the time being, true, but it was not the place he belonged to. That being said, it did not prevent him from littering the place with his personal belongings. Picking up his undergarments from the closet, he slowly rummaged through the various clothing articles strewn about the room as well as over the furniture to find some trousers to go with the robe.
The majority of the clothes he could spot in the chaos all around were either of a dark gray colour reminding of a blade’s steel, while the remaining attire was made of the finest materials similarly expensive to the furnishing put on display throughout the cottage, with official crests stitched on the right side of the chest. All of Eldrin’s clothing pieces were displaying a seven-pointed star made out of silver thread that accentuated the blue colour of the silken fabric.
The first kind of attire, the rough ones, had stains all over them, yet the fibers showed no sign of tearing and remained solid and robust looking, despite no one having cleaned them for a long time.
The official looking apparels were spotless, yet they were still wrinkled and could not be acknowledged as presentable, because of having been thrown thoughtlessly throughout the room. Some of those were even gathering dust from being neglected for long periods of time.
Looking at a particularly dusty official robe, Eldrin snorted in contempt and finished changing into his favourite robe. It belonged to neither type of clothing, slightly higher in quality than most but not formal in form nor shape.
No tear or stain was revealing itself on the turquoise textile as the elderly elf took very good care of this single robe, and it would have been hard to find another outfit in such a good condition in his belongings. The seven-pointed star was embedded on the right of the chest like on the formal get ups, however on that one the threads used were capturing multiple shades of a sky-blue colour and that effect closely resembled that in the eyes of Eldrin.
After getting dressed he headed out to the central room of the dwelling, a magnificent living-room adorned with several leather layers, arranged into several sitting groups, with a giant fireplace in the back, spanning the whole width of the house, and squared stairs in the front leading onto the ground floor. Doors opened on both sides as Eldrin walked alongside the corridor, but none of those bedrooms could compare in lavishness to the chamber Eldrin claimed as his own.
Because the mansion sheltered only one inhabitant, most of the rooms were staying empty and thus were looking like dark caves, or the inside of the belly of a dying beast… But the silence that accompanied the dusty atmosphere didn’t especially bother the elf; he had asked to keep watch over this place after all. Pacing through the quiet house the elf marched from the hearth to the stairs, without paying attention to the various works of art displayed on the ever present dark wood furnitures.
Arriving at the stairs, he contemplated the too long descent that separated him from the kitchen, and turned his drained gaze to the way out of the house. Each step he took on the way down amplified, bit by bit, the throbbing sensation in his bones, and the old man reminisced himself how his joints were one year ago. Feeling the age creep up upon him he helplessly sighed to himself. This was the life he had wished for, yet it didn’t give him that sense of fulfillment.
Discarding this line of thought the elf came down to the first floor without showing any external signs of discomfort and headed straight into the kitchen on the right side of the stairs.
White marble lined the walls of the kitchen, each of the appliances also built from pure, immaculate stone and shaped into convenient forms. This was the second room that looked occupied, as seasonings and dirty dishes were filling the counters beneath cupboards on the wall. Eldrin opened a cabinet and pulled out ingredients for his breakfast while collecting some of the remaining clean tableware.
He cracked open two eggs with one hand and fried them while pouring mana into the magic tool heating the cooking plate. When the eggs were frying, Eldrin had prepared some bread and salt to go with and had poured some milk into a mug. He would have to bake again soon and catch a few of his cows to milk them, his stockpile of ingredients was dwindling as weeks piled on each others, and he was replenishing it usually on the day of light.
Without his guild card Eldrin would find it difficult to keep track of the flowing time, but before leaving the city to come to live in the woods he got interested in one of the newer enchantments and had asked a friend to cast it on his card. From that time, the guild card was able to state what day and hour it was without the need for its owner to carry a watch around. Regardless, Eldrin also carried a golden pocket watch in his robe and performed thorough maintenance on it every other night.
Finishing up his cooking work Eldrin carried his concoction into the ridiculously huge room while casually picking some side dishes and snacking on them.
When the King was still residing in the mansion, servants were taking care of the meals, from cooking to serving. Now the old elf had to do everything on his own. He wasn’t particularly bothered by making his food or taking care of the residence, it was the place where he had chose to stay, and someone else cleaning up after him wouldn’t sit well with him either. Periodically, Eldrin’s son was visiting and bringing goods hard to come by in the wilderness. Especially the salt was running low recently. Luckily the scheduled trip had happened just a month before, and he could therefore waste spices and sugar again, livening up the bland food of the past quarter turn.
The main room where Eldrin had enjoyed the remainders of his breakfast was assuming the role of the heart of the house. The reason for this showcased itself as a large painting of a map hung on one of the lounge’s wall. Filling the whole space from side to side and top to bottom the picture flaunted a very detailed replica of the surrounding area. The particularity of this item laid in the enchantment the late King had specifically requested.
A legend rank mage as well as a legend rank warrior had been invited to create this hunting ground for the former King who had only ever reached the sixth rank as a warrior. The process of crafting the precious article involved the warrior inscribing pillars with a ward pattern and the mage enchanting the pillars with a scrying spell. Linking the two effects together allowed the creation of a high ranked item combining aura and mana with a special effect of the artifact class.
The whole hunting grounds were depicted on the painting and any living being was registered as a small dot moving through the projected forest.
The second effect repelled all monsters and beasts above the seventh rank from entering and hid the resting area by diverting the non-human creatures’ attention away from the pillars surrounding the habitation boundaries.
The original owner had handsomely rewarded both the mage and the warrior for this exquisite craft, and had been visiting the cottage in the hunting grounds each turn, where his own magicians had casted enchantments and knights had carved inscriptions onto everything that had been used to construct the dwelling, turning a simple mountain hut into a high class lodging fit for a king and his court. This was also how Eldrin came to know of this place, as he accompanied his father-in-law to this cottage numerous times.
Nowadays Eldrin used the observation device to keep track of the herd he got the milk from, instead of picking worthy monsters to hunt, and if the late King knew the new purpose of his favorite toy he would turn around in his grave. Enjoying the leftovers of his meal the old man spent this time to study the map on the wall behind the large table as he did every morning. Generally he just needed to locate his group of [Sapphire Cows]. Most of them had grew up to be rank two monsters so he wasn’t very worried about losing many of them to wild animals, nonetheless he still had to be careful about the herd wandering into the den of a monster or beast above the fourth rank.
Despite the task already being routine for Eldrin he still earnestly checked the situation every day, for the loss of the animals would cause his daily meals to become even blander.
He had been checking the map daily for a very long time now and today something seemed off about it. Studying it closely while he poked around in his meal, he finally noticed the difference. A nest that used to belong to [Stone Breaker Trolls] near the far end of the hunting grounds now housed a different Aura that he couldn’t recognize, albeit it felt slightly familiar.
Something that forced a band of monster between the third and fourth rank certainly was an existence fairly dangerous, yet Eldrin wasn’t worried much. The inscription on the pillars ensured that nothing above the seventh rank could invade his land, and as a mage of the late seventh rank himself he did not have to worry about the roaming monsters and his skills enabled him to live in the Wilderness all by himself. The place was fairly unique, allowing someone to live all alone in an environment full of unfriendly creatures, as it would usually require a whole community to survive the roaming hunters and defend a village to thrive in.
Eldrin opened the door and picked up the staff he had carelessly thrown next to the entrance as he prepared himself to move out and check on his herd. The staff was radiating a faint blue mana tone, emitted by the sapphire mounted on its top and a dim swirl traced along the intricate inscriptions on the dark wood. The expensive-looking cane had laid on the ground throughout the night and though it didn’t seem particularly well maintained, it didn’t show any signs of damage either.
Today he needed to drive the cows closer to the house, look for additions to his table and finally investigate the suspicious animal that had intruded into his domain.
Therefore, armed with his weapon and donned in his favourite robe, Eldrin set out into the hunting ground, leaving the cottage behind to inspect his little realm.
High in the sky the sun blazed down on an old man closing in onto the former stone-breakers’ den he had observed through the magical item the morning. He had finished his chore of gathering the [Sapphire Cow] herd by placing a small formation on the back of each cow via light taps with his staff while passing among them.
The formations would use a small charge of Eldrin’s mana to guide the cows in the direction of the cottage, and when they would reach their destination, the sigil of the formation was supposed to dissipate. The only other way to dissolve a formation sigil was to exhaust the mana it contained, but a simple task such as guiding something was not very mana-consuming, hence the herd was successfully gathered back at their enclosure near the cottage.
Satisfied with the completion of the easier of the tasks he had arranged for the day, the elf prepared himself to do the second thing on his list, which was significantly more complex, to the point it made a bead of sweat trickle down slowly on his wrinkled forehead. Reinforcing his limbs with a bit of aura allowed Eldrin to remove the dull pain in his joints as he was closing in on the now vacant den of the [Stone Breaker Trolls].
To his surprise no signs of a fight could be seen around the entrance of the cave the trolls had dug out. Eldrin had indeed expected at least some dead trolls laying around, especially if someone had forced them to abandon their abode. Surveying the area closely he beheld a single trail of blood leading deeper into the cave. A family of trolls wouldn’t abandon their safe space without putting up a fight unless something seriously scared them, basically, if the trolls had no hope in fighting the intruder.
As an experienced adventurer Eldrin avoided barging straight into the resting area of a wounded monster or beast that had strength or attributes impressive enough to scare away a whole den of third rank monsters, along with their [Iron Eater Troll Leader] at the fourth rank. Guided by his centuries worth of experience, the former explorer first used the connection to nature he had nurtured over the years as a wood elf to meld his mana with the surrounding trees’ sap and check for signs of danger in the forest. This was the unique wood-elf version of the [Searching Wind] spell, Eldrin was using a water variant of the spell combined with his strong racial affinity for fauna. This allowed him to use small amounts of mana to spread through the plants around him, quietly mapping out the forest and acknowledging all lifeforms within a big radius. Normally one wouldn’t be able to scout such a vast area, yet variant abilities were in a whole other league on their own. A deviant spell possessed great power, but its drawback laid in its creation. Indeed, changing a spell could only occur thanks to an inborn attribute or a blessing. Just because someone had an idea of creating one didn’t mean he could.
His caution quickly paid off, as he noticed a group of adventurers moving through the area, apparently looking for something. Based on the proximity with a wounded monster, Eldrin easily guessed that the two events had something to do with each other, especially since the general public, and even most of the noble families did not know about the location of the royal hunting grounds. Monsters and beasts were not supposed to know about it either, high ranked kings of the forest had merely some knowledge about the barrier that didn’t let them pass. Despite that they were not very interested in the secluded territory, no stronger beast than them lived in there and it was unlikely to contain a natural treasure as no strong aura or mana welled from the interior space.
To guard against the party and search the monster hiding in the cave, Eldrin casted a [Water Wall] in front of the grotto entrance, camouflaging it as another wall of stone. A casual water wall was ranked as a spell of the fourth rank and any water mage learned it as they reached the corresponding level. The magic the elf used, however, did not appear as some random floating wall of water, it actually matched the surrounding grey boulders. The spell had taken shape over years of meditation and insights in the water element, which had increased its power and effect, creating a more complex and personal version of a common spell. This wasn’t quite a variant spell, most people would call it a modified spell or by the original name. To avoid revealing his presence he also called back the mana he had spread throughout the trees, ending the scout spell, and headed deeper inside the cave.
After the warlock vanished into the darkness, the former monster den’s entrance looked like any other stone wall on the side of a hill, without a single thing out of place. But something was amiss : Eldrin had forgotten to cleanse the trail of blood, which thus led straight into a solid rock wall.
With this blunder, the ordinary day of the elven magician came to an end.