Chapter 71 — Contention
Level 0 spells were indeed a lot simpler. It only took Soran a single night to learn Electric Jolt, Prestidigitation, Mage Hand, Mending, Read Magic, Flare, and another two spells. The learning process sped up as he learned more spells too. It still wasn’t easy though. Some spells took more time to learn than others, and the fastest time he could achieve was thirty minutes. It also cost him 300 Slaughter EXP to permanently store the spells in his head.
When he tried to learn his ninth spell of the night, the familiar feeling of dizziness struck him again. Soran knew he had reached his limit, so he put down the scrolls and his spell book and rested. Before he slept, Soran meditated and successfully reached out to his surroundings with his subconsciousness. However, due to his mental exhaustion, his state of meditation was not deep enough to feel the Magic Network. Instead, he could only feel the elements in the surroundings. Soran gradually fell asleep while meditating.
It was morning when Soran opened his eyes.
So it's possible to fall asleep while meditating...
Meditation was in fact a similar state to sleeping, and high-grade wizards could even meditate as a substitution for sleep. As one continued to meditate, his subconsciousness would reach further and further out, until it was so far away that the person's mind was almost ‘empty.’ As such, the person's mind could rest while still perceiving their surroundings through their subconsciousness.
Soran rubbed his temples as he got off the bed. He quickly packed up his belongings, then went downstairs for breakfast. After that, Soran headed toward the place the merchant squad was staying.
Although Whiterun had tightened its security due to recent affairs, it was still easy to move around during the day. At the very least, the city guards would not question Soran and throw him into prison just because of his profession. This sort of thing happened quite frequently at night, however. Soran had heard that the guards were locking people up and making them pay considerable sums before releasing them. It seemed that the city officials were gathering money.
The merchant squad Soran had traveled with was still stuck within the city. From the looks of things, they might be stuck for another month or two. If the Whiterun officials did not take any action, they might even have to stay in Whiterun for the winter.
Despite being powerful, the mistress, Gloria, would not fare well against the double-headed ogre wizard. It was easy enough for her to break through the monster blockade herself, but even she would have trouble if she had to bring the entire squad with her.
The head merchant guard was training some people when Soran arrived at the mansion. He was shocked when he saw Soran, noticing his substantial growth. He glanced at Soran and said, "The mistress said you're free to enter."
Soran nodded in response, then glanced at the trainees. He too had undergone training for a while back in the game, but the experience gain was very low. A day of intense training only gave ten or so Profession EXP, hence a lot of players soon gave up training and went to kill monsters instead. Profession EXP was also inferior to Slaughter EXP, which was another reason players preferred slaying monsters. However, for the original inhabitants of the world, training was still the primary method to increase their strength.
Soran opened the main door and entered. A maid who was cleaning the place stopped her work and led him to the living room. She then left and returned with a cup of milk tea, a luxurious drink brewed with expensive tea bricks, milk, and sugar. The mistress had evidently given the maid instructions for his arrival.
As a rogue and a commoner, Soran was uncomfortable with such treatment, and he wasn’t really fond of the expensive drink. He simply sat on the sofa and waited. It was basic manners not to wander around someone's house without permission.
After a while, someone entered the living room. Contrary to his expectations, it was not Gloria, but a coquettish woman with long, wavy hair which reached her waist. She wore a delicate long dress with frills decorated with an exquisite ornament. An expensive-looking diamond necklace hung around her neck, and a pink silk scarf dangled from her shoulders onto her shapely chest. On her fingers were three rings: one made of amber, another of jade, and the third with an unknown gem. A pair of black stockings with rose patterns adorned her slender legs, and she wore a pair of red high heels decorated with eerie patterns.
The woman looked young, but Soran was sure her actual age differed from her appearance. Her mature and noble atmosphere was not something that belonged to a young lady.
Soran was on guard against the woman immediately. Stockings were alchemic products created by witches, and they sold for extremely high prices. Even the cheapest pair would cost 10 Gold Derahls. What really caught his eye though was the material used—the woman's stockings were made with spider silk, a material which came from the Underdark.
"Hoho," the woman chuckled as she walked over with delicate, cat-like steps. She sized up Soran with an interested look and asked in a teasing tone, "So you're Vivian's brother, the little fella called Soran? As expected, such a handsome kid!"
The woman's eyes turned seductive as her expression became enticing. She gestured Soran to come over, and said frivolously, "Come, let me have a good look. Let big sis check your body thoroughly. Hoho!"
Her licentious chuckle grew louder as she gradually approached Soran. Her eyes looked as though they were glowing, and her sweet smile invited him to go over and kiss her. Her slim waist and curvy body shook ever so slightly as she walked, as though she was stimulating Soran's desires intentionally.
Soran stood up, seemingly entranced. His eyes showed both perplexion and greed. He slowly walked toward the bewitching woman, but his hand was placed above the handle of his sword.
"That's more like it!" The woman did not notice Soran's hand, her eyes glowing brighter and brighter. Her face lit up with glee as she continued, "Come, handsome fella. I have something to ask you."
One step, two steps, three steps.
He had almost reached her when Soran suddenly seemed to snap out of his confused state and drew his curved sword, slashing at the woman's neck. However, the sword was stopped by an invisible energy field when it was only a foot away from its target. Soran pulled back his sword and struck again, this time cutting through the defensive barrier and sending it speeding toward the woman's neck.
The woman startled for a split second, but then casually flicked her finger. A weak glow radiated from her finger, and a barrier expanded quickly, slamming into Soran. The impact sent him flying across the room. Soran tumbled and crashed into the sofa, but then he steadied himself by stabbing his sword into the ground, stopping after he opened up a meter-long gash on the floor.
Soran pointed his sword at the woman and asked alertly, "Who are you?"
Casting Charm Person on him the moment they met was not the friendliest greeting. If not for the barrier, Soran would have been pressing his sword against her neck and interrogating her. The fact that she could easily repel his attack with Rebounding Force Wall proved that she was quite powerful.
The woman looked at Soran curiously, then pouted. "Quite the willpower you've got there! Let's see if you can hold up against Dire Charm!"
The woman nonchalantly cast another spell. Soran took a deep breath and rushed at the witch with killing intent, his sword covered in shadow energy.
The mistress, Gloria, appeared out of thin air. She shouted angrily and pointed her finger at the woman who was casting a spell.
The bewitching woman's expression turned pale and teary eyed. Her spell was forcefully dispelled, and with a grudging look in her eyes, she glared at Gloria.
Gloria cast another spell, this time at Soran. His body stiffened instantly, but his momentum and inertia were still there. He uncontrollably crashed into his original target, and his sword dropped to the floor after clashing against an energy barrier.
"Enough!" The mistress' eyes were filled with rage, and her breathing was rough from anger. "Mother! You really have to learn to restrain yourself! This is my place! I'm sure you know how to respect other high-grade witches!"
"Oh, my dear daughter," her mother replied, sounding like a child who was wronged, "I was just giving him my greetings…"
Gloria could no longer stand her mother's attitude.
"Do you greet others with charm magic? Mother, your actions are getting more and more unacceptable. You should reflect on what you have done! Otherwise the Council will imprison you.
The woman's expression turned panicky after hearing what her daughter chanted.
"My dear daughter! For real?! Ahhhh…!"
Her shout echoed in the room, but she was nowhere to be seen. She had been sent to a maze in another dimension.
Gloria took a deep breath to calm herself down, then flicked her arms to dispel the magic on Soran.
"I'm sorry. Vivian's in the laboratory, follow me."
Without giving Soran the chance to ask, nor with any plan to explain anything, the mistress waved her hands, levitating everything in the room. She snapped her fingers, and everything began to return to its original state. The messy living room turned into the tidy place it had been when Soran first arrived immediately.
Soran remained silent. He picked up his curved sword with a face void of any expression.
The mistress was even more powerful than he had expected. Given how she could achieve such great effects with mere Level 0 spells, she had to have at least five Metamagic Abilities. It was only a matter of time before she became a Legendary witch.
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