Resisting the urge to reduce the black book in her hands to a pile of ashes, Nisha’s hand twitched a little, internally debating what to do.
Maybe … I could always find a new manual of the same grade to exchange for this one if I burn it. On the other hand, I guess the library wouldn’t appreciate it if the first thing I do after getting one of their manuals is to burn it.
Well, let’s read the rest first. It can’t be that bad, right?
Smoothing out her wrinkled brow, the dragon resumed reading from the place she left off.
“Now, while you can’t expect to become as skilled and gracious as me while executing your skills, let me enlighten you on the path of a Dark Knight.
To make sure you have no problems following me, rather than my noble words, let me teach you with instructions from my own teacher.”
Flipping over the page, Nisha was instantly baffled. She didn’t believe her eyes. Flicking the new page back, she couldn’t help but compare the incredibility before her.
What noble words or instruction... this isn’t even your handwriting anymore!
Cursing the author of the book in her mind, the letters indeed didn’t match the boisterous first half of the manual. Instead of the sloppy letters containing nothing but self praise, a neat and tidy new voice outlined the basics of utilizing aura as an attack skill.
“What the heck! Is this even allowed? That’s not even his own work, he only added a few extra pages to another skill book that he got his hands on!”
Torn back and forth, the elven girl decided that she was glad to have picked up this book. On one hand, the writer made her want to incinerate whatever ramblings he wrote around the skill book, but on the other hand, he did not personally write the specifications, so hopefully the actual important parts did not have the same nonsense as the long preamble.
With newfound vigor, she picked up the book again, looking forward to learning her first skill.
“Let’s see. The first part is called [Shadow Clad] and allows the user to imbue their weapon with a dark attribute, enhancing the destructive power and penetration of each swing.
I should try it out.”
Glancing at her room, the dragon realised it wouldn’t do for skill practice. While she didn’t have many possessions on her person or displayed, each of the items in the room, from the furniture to her few treasures that she displayed, many of them would be hard to replace if she broke them while practicing.
Sighing softly, Nisha entered the space in her soul instead.
Seeing the familiar scene of the small brook where the dragon came into this world for the first time always managed to bring a smile to her face.
Taking in a deep breath of the pure air, a stark contrast to the always smoky and scented fumes hovering over the capital, a weird feeling overcame the elven girl at the same time. While she had always been aware of the state her body was in while entering the [Soul Space], recently her senses had developed past that point. While she clearly saw herself standing near the place the dragon organized her treasures in different heaps, she also still saw herself sitting on her bed, looking at the ceiling while she had laid down to concentrate.
Weird. It’s not quite the feeling of being in two places at the same time. Rather, is it to concentrate on two tasks at the same time? Anyway, this is not the time to investigate this disparity, I wanted to train my new [Shadow Clad] skill.
Closing her eyes and focusing completely on the other side, the Nisha inside her space shut out her room, the capital, the strange urge to pounce upon her friend and her family …
No! Don’t even think about it!
Suppressing any stray thoughts that even only bordered the topic, the elven girl remained in the present, if she gave the matter any consideration, she’d likely never be able to stop herself from losing herself in worrying about why she had such an impulse.
Picking up a branch that broke off one of the trees growing in the surroundings, in fear of damaging one of the weapons she had collected, she started to train the new skill.
Focusing on executing the procedure according to the instructions, dark aura surged through her body, running along her veins of power and rushing towards her hands according to her will.
The runes inside her core stirred as well, attracted by the familiar scent of power permeating her body. Acting on its own, pure night replaced the shadows Nisha was drawing in, changing the nature of the technique. The dragon didn’t fail to notice the interference, alas it was too late to correct the changes.
Surrounding the stick she had casually picked up, a mass of pure black swirled, swallowing any surrounding light and radiating a malicious coldness.
Upon seeing this unexpected result, Nisha frowned. She had no idea what exactly had happened to evoke such an effect like this, or why the runes had interfered.
Strictly speaking, she also disliked the result. This wasn’t her own power, rather, the darkness oozing along the branch was a risk instead of a benefit.
If, by any chance, she did not have access to the dark runes swirling inside her core and she relied on the spells and techniques provided by either her flame or her runes, Nisha would be helpless.
Frowning, the dragon admonished the excited black characters, which happily danced around in her core, eager to display their power.
While they didn’t mind the warning, Nisha could only shake her head at the little characters, flitting about here and there while showing off their pride of being chosen over the little flame, which seemingly pouted at the lack of attention it had received.
And her helplessness only increased when she focused on the makeshift weapon she held. Instead of a wooden branch, the texture had changed in her hands, the first time she perceived the changes. Sporting a deep black coloration, the former branch now radiated a tiny portion of the black abyss that previously enveloped it. Even the coldness remained, a hint of frost shimmering around the edges of the stick.
Somewhat unhappy to have failed to execute the [Shadow Clad] technique, Nisha discarded the black branch, tossing it aside. To her surprise, the sound it made upon hitting the ground did not resemble wood, it reminded her of a stone instead. Breaking in the middle, the transformed material revealed a uniform density of minerals. Blinking somewhat absentmindedly, the dragon made sure to remember this tidbit of information.
Breaking off another branch from another nearby tree, she repeated gathering the dark power residing deep inside her, coating the branch with purely her own force this time.
Of course, this didn’t mean everything went smoothly from this point on. Rushing inside the branch, the shadows did indeed gather and condense. Unfortunately it also rushed into the stick itself, which shattered from being unable to contain such a powerful force.
No need to feel down, I just need to practice until I’m able to reliably use this skill. On second thought, already being able to execute the [Shadow Clad] technique is quite good. Only because the runes showed me how to do it, I was able to imitate the process and progress so quickly.
Without losing her motivation, Nisha practiced over and over again with branches, adamant on her decision to only move onto real weapons when she was certain that she would be able to pull it off one hundred percent of the time before trying her hand at the second ranked technique or using it on her [Taurith Short Swords].
Practicing until night fell, Nisha awoke the next morning, surprised that her consciousness inside the [Soul Space] continued to exercise even when her physical body was asleep without her feeling tired from not sleeping that morning.
Does that mean I can use the nights to practice inside my space from now on? If so, I really made an important discovery!
Eager to put her new theory to work, the dragon suddenly remembered it was the Day of Dark and Luthais would soon depart with the carriage to attend court.
Deliberating whether she should attend as well, her sense of duty compelled her to. In the end, her eagerness to try out the new technique won out and she donned her leather gear, making her look like a professional huntress.
Checking her equipment one last time, Nisha descended from the second floor, repeating the process of drawing upon her dark mana in her space while walking. Due to a night of practice and a small flash of insight that demonstrated the hidden capabilities of a [Soul Space], the goal was to be able to simultaneously access her space and do something within it while experiencing the real world at the same time.
It presented a challenge to the dragon, however she had never shied away from one either.
Even when it didn’t work out in the end, there was still a trace of improvement as her awareness of the space advanced further. While she previously had to prepare all items to retrieve them, Nisha let her awareness spread over the open area, covering each and every article inside with her attention. Due to always being aware of every inch inside, retrieving anything became quite trivial.
Playing around with her newfound trick, she properly excused herself from Luthais and saw the father and son off when they boarded their carriage, which would take them to court. It must be said that Luthais allowed the adopted daughter of their house quite a lot of freedom. He didn’t require her to justify her decisions. The half elf simply accepted her decision, and wished her a good day. Nisha certainly knew that she was trusted to a large extent, causing her chest to swell with warmth.
Accepting this place as my home, my decision at the time seems to have been more than just correct.
Summoning various small items from daggers to pieces of ore without letting anyone see, the dragon was on her way towards the harbour, the dungeon her destination for the day.
Inside, she would be able to practice her [Shadow Clad] technique on actual monsters without prying eyes, such as in the Training Hall of the Guild.
Humming a small melody that the elven girl composed on the spot, she arrived at the gate rather quickly, her mind on other matters. She even made another discovery. It was possible to retrieve things from the [Soul Space] that she hadn’t previously deposited there, such as parts of the branches she practiced with. Albeit the dragon felt a strong sense of exhaustion with just a tiny piece of wood taken out. Thankfully, the effect reversed when she returned the branch inside, otherwise today’s trip to the dungeon would have been impossible.
Refraining from further experimentation, Nisha was always eager to admire the capital, a place that still held many mysteries and wonders to her. Just recently she discovered a hidden sanctum on her way to the Eel’s Park, where she had intended to play chess as she often took detours. Hidden by a door overgrown with numerous vines, a garden between the walls of several houses was hidden from view. Neither of the adjacent residences had any windows looking inside the secret refuge and the door naturally blended into the wall that it was built into due to the vegetation on it. Only due to her [Spirit Sight] did the wandering girl discover something was amiss.
While straying from the main streets, the dragon also discovered that there were more monster and beast companions inside the city than she had anticipated. Apparently it counted as good etiquette to not take them on the busy heart veins of Thurgau. Nisha had not attempted to communicate with one of them yet. None of them had been a flying beast or closely enough related to allow proper conversation. In this way, this was an advantage and a disadvantage of the beast language at the same time. Each species spoke roughly the same tongue, but each of them also had a unique take on it, much like different dialects of a language. While Nisha would be able to exchange very basic conversation, it degraded more and more as the race she was trying to talk to variated further from her own form.
As her mind wandering, she finally arrived at the gate, a small checkpoint on her way to the Dungeon. Greeting one of the guards, she didn’t put all of her attention to the conversation.
“Hello Evan, how’s your wife doing? Still nagging you about the last time you went drinking?”
Chuckling at the question, the guard captain only returned a small smile and didn’t counter with the usual small talk.
“Of course not, my wife wouldn’t be that simple minded. On the other hand, I’m surprised to see you here. I wasn’t sure if you were going to go as well, but it seems the miss likes festivals, that’s nice to know.”
Perplexed by the unusual response, her ears visually perked up.
“Festival? Why haven’t I heard of that? What’s going on?”
“Could it be that you really didn’t know? I thought you were surely going to go to the festival in the harbor. I apologize if I was overly rash.”
Smiling in a wry way now, the guard captain named Evan was well aware that Nisha, who strolled in and out of the noble district at her leisure, must belong to a house. While he didn’t know which one, he wasn’t in a position to ask either, so he just apologized on the spot.
“Oh, don’t mind it, I’m just surprised that there’s a festival going on and no one talked about it recently. What is being celebrated?”
“That makes sense. The information just came in yesterday, so you wouldn’t know about it yet. A fleet of divers and fisher came back the day before and apparently they had quite the haul, and so everyone is gathering around and joining the merry making. How about it, will you go as well, miss?”