Chapter 56 — Ring of Wizardry
Soran hid in the surroundings for a long while. After confirming the wizard was gone, he approached the dwarves’ corpses. Although the wizard did not bother to search the bodies of the grey dwarves, things were different for Soran. He had a sister to care for, not to mention that they were planning to travel afar; there was no such thing as too much money for him. Additionally, Vivian would have to spend quite a lot of money in the future if she pursued the path of a sorcerer. If Soran decided to splurge a bit, a set of Rare-grade equipment of even the lowest tier would cost roughly 3000 Gold Derahls as well.
There was blood everywhere. Judging from the traces left behind, it looked as though the battle broke out all of a sudden.
"Infighting?" Soran continued to observe the nearby footprints, then muttered as he furrowed his brows, "Looks like they were travelling together at first. For some reason, they started fighting each other."
The footprints that were further away were tidy, as though a group of people were guarding something as they travelled. A bit closer, and the footprints started to get messy; there were signs of people rushing and charging. Soran tried to imagine the scene using the available information, and in the end, he could only deduce that the grey dwarves were the ones who went on the offensive.
There were traces of warriors charging on the ground, which probably belonged to the grey dwarven warriors. Even Grade 2 warriors could sprint as fast as sprinters in the Olympic Games due to their ability to bring out their explosiveness for a short period of time.
Soran rolled over three dead dwarves and found a corpse which had his chest punctured, the wound corroded by what seemed to be acid.
Soran carefully removed the ring on the corpse's finger and was delighted.
"So there was a spellcaster, but he got killed right off the bat!"
There was a wizard among the team of grey dwarves. He was nowhere as strong as the drow though—probably only Grade 2 and Level 5. Perhaps the battle was so sudden, he did not have time to react before immediately getting killed by the drow with Acid Arrow.
Soran's grin widened as he caressed the ring, which had a weak magic halo around it; it was a low-level Ring of Wizardry which increased the spell slots of Level 1 and 2 spells.
"At least worth 1200 Gold Derahls!"
Soran stowed the ring away, then continued to loot the dwarves’ corpses.
"He didn't even bother to loot his ex-companions… Either he's rich as hell, or there was something so urgent that he could not delay even a single bit.
"What major incident happened in this period of time? Ah, damn it! I didn't really care about the state of affairs of the world back in the game."
Soran continued searching the wizard's body. He found a multi-dimensional bag; it was a low-grade one which was the same as his. Even though Grade 2 wizards were rich, it was not like they could splurge on everything. Anyway, he looked through the items within the bag, but there did not seem to be anything valuable apart from a single item: a spellbook.
The dwarven wizard's spellbook was a thick, black tome, and mysterious runes were written on the pages. Unlike typical books, spellbooks would not deteriorate with age and could be used for a long time. Soran flipped through the pages, revealing densely packed runes and symbols, most of which he was unable to decipher because he did not have the ability Decipher Script. He could only judge from experience the spells recorded in the spellbook.
The first spell was Enlarge. As its name implied, the spell could enlarge a person to twice his original size, increasing his Strength by 2 and reducing Dexterity by the same.
Skilled casters could even apply the spell on specific parts of the body through the use of Metamagic Abilities. Of course, this was not something the NPCs developed, but instead was invented by a player who wanted to overcome the regret he had in real life. The same could also be applied to Shrink, but that thought alone was too evil.
The second spell in the spellbook was Arcane Missile. It was one of the most commonly used spells by wizards because it had a short casting time of one second. There was nothing too extravagant about this spell; magical energy darts would form on the caster's fingertips and could be fired at desired targets.
Soran knew all but two spells recorded in the spellbook. The spells he recognized were Charm Person, Burning Hands, Color Spray, Mage Armor, Shield, Web, Bull's Strength, and Fire Bolt.
Each spell took over ten pages to record. Of course, the chant itself was not that long; there were also runes, drawings, and even three-dimensional diagrams which seemed to explain the rules and principles of the spells.
This information was what people called "spell models." Wizards would record spells into their spellbooks and spend time studying and analyzing the spells; it was far from simply copying them into their spellbooks. Depending on their talent and Intelligence, wizards would require varying periods of time before they could fully understand the spell and create a spell model for it. After forming the spell model in their minds, they would connect to the magic network in order to store the spell in their spell slots. The model would then be stored in their brains until the spell was cast using energy collected from the magic network; they would have to memorize the model again afterwards.
It was similar to how guns worked. The wizards would memorize and create spell models in their minds, then store them in their spell slots; the spell models were bullets, and the spell slots were their ammo clip. Once they cast the spell, the model would be expended, just like a bullet. However, wizards had to create the spell models through memorization, basically manufacturing the bullets themselves. Those who had extraordinary memories could recreate the model without the aid of their spellbooks, as they had already memorized the structure and only had to create the model once again. That, however, was rather rare; it was almost like memorizing the detailed structure of a complicated circuit board and recreating it from scratch. If the wizard made even a slight error during the process of creating a spell model, the model would be destroyed and backfire on their minds, dealing damage to them. The higher the spell level, the higher the damage; it was possible to lose one's life due to backfiring.
From what Soran could recall, only a handful of advanced arcanists could recreate spell models without the use of spellbooks. Typical arcanists had around 25 Intelligence, which made their brains comparable to bio-computers. Most wizards, even the more outstanding ones, could not achieve such a feat, which was why they had to bring their spellbooks everywhere they went.
The rate of grasping and fully understanding a spell was slow. A wizard with 18 Intelligence would take almost two weeks to learn their first Level 1 spell. Things were a lot easier after they learned the spell though; they could recreate the spell model after reading the information in their spellbooks and spending some time meditating. Due to such reasons, wizards had to choose wisely what spells they wanted to learn in order to suit their needs. The number of spells they knew would increase as they grow stronger and leveled up over time, but in the end the number of spells they could learn was not infinite either; it would take plenty of time to learn high-level spells. Only Legendary Wizards would have the leisure and time to travel around in order to collect spells to add to their repertoire.
Soran took out a scroll from inside the dead dwarven wizard's robe. He opened it up for a glance before quickly rolling it up and stowing it away.
There was a symbol drawn on the scroll; it consisted of three tentacles. If he remembered correctly, it was the Level 4 spell Black Tentacles, which was capable of summoning three tentacles made out of shadow energy to strangle enemies. As the dwarven wizard did not record it in his spellbook, it meant that his profession level was 7 or below.
The wizard did not disappoint Soran at all; with just a simple search, he had already looted items worth around 2000 Gold Derahls.
Just when Soran was gleefully searching through the other dead bodies to collect more valuable items, the sound of wolves howling could be heard in the distance. He immediately sped up his actions, hurriedly stuffing whatever seemed to be worth some money into his newly acquired multi-dimensional bag. Afterwards, he knelt down to inspect the firearms used by the grey dwarves.
"So they were firing stones out of flintlock rifles."
He picked up the alchemical weapon, then stored it in his multi-dimensional bag. The length of the weapon was around the shoulder width of an adult, which was reasonable considering the primary users were short dwarves. The ammo used was smooth, round stones. It was a rather low-grade alchemical firearm, but some dwarves still preferred using such a weapon. Due to its primitive design and production method, the effective range and accuracy of the weapon were only average. The firing rate was not high, and its power was lower than some enhanced crossbows and longbows, especially those made by humanoid monsters. The longbows of these monsters had tremendous power, having an effective range of over three hundred meters, and a shot from one could even puncture five-millimeter-thick steel plates, making them seem more like sniper rifles in modern terms.
Anyway, the weapon’s level of craftsmanship was similar to that of the eighteenth century. The Toldress gnomes had even better firearms; because of their physical inferiority, they were extremely stubborn and persistent when it came to the research of alchemy and its applications. Even so, their technology was insufficient in the face of a Level 24 black dragon, which utterly destroyed their city—this was something which would happen in approximately a year's time.
The howling sounds were gradually closing in on his location. Soran swiftly packed up everything, then continued on his way to the main road; he did not want to fight a pack of wolves right now. It was getting darker and darker, and the wild beasts and monsters would soon be revealing themselves. The intense stench of blood would surely attract a considerable number of carnivores.
Just as Soran left, he noticed a pair of fluorescent green eyes in the forest. That was, without a doubt, a gnoll scout. Gnolls had a decent sense of smell, allowing them to detect the smell of blood within a kilometer. When hunting, they would spread out to search for prey. After identifying their targets, they would then call their brethren over using special howls.
It seemed like the wolves would be up against the gnolls. A chaotic skirmish would soon begin, and it was best for Soran to be as far away as possible.
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