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1-26 Discrepancy

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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

Lunch couldn’t be said to be satisfying, not even filling but it sated Erin’s hunger at the bare minimum.

Nivia knew how to cook, Erin was surprised but there was just one downside to that aspect. It wasn’t that her cooking was bad, far from it.

“Faerie-kin generally have an adverse reaction to meat but since Fox-kin merely assimilated into the Kin instead of their ancestor being born into one, I suppose your disposition for meat is understandable.”

Yes, Nivia’s dishes consisted of nothing but vegetable-variety dishes. At present, Erin and Nivia were unwinding in the latter’s lodging which was the Emerald Inn, the other only two inns in the town of Green Scar. Verdant Inn wasn’t spick and span but it was neither repelling to garner any harsh criticism but if Verdant Inn was put on a scale alongside Emerald Inn, the scale would tip towards the latter favourably.

They started their meal with a prayer and ended it with a prayer too. It was a Faerie-kin’s tradition, one that Erin was advised to take heed of by Nivia if she wished to not sully the name of all Faerie-kin. Per Erin’s presumptions, Faerie-kin did have a very traditional way of living. From the prayers all the way to using leaves as the plates. Even the cutleries were made of wood.

After finishing their meal and cleaning up, Nivia switched into a more casual wear right in front Erin without batting an eyelid towards the jaw-dropped Fox-kin.

“N-Nivia… I’m here, you know?” Erin pointed the glaring fact out.

“We’re both girls, so it’s fine,” Nivia said.

Though a woman’s naked body wasn’t a novelty anymore to Erin, it was still quite a challenge for the former virgin to accustom herself to what was presumably the customs of girls. Erin wasn’t sure if it was actually a custom since the only women she had seen nude were Lyra and now, Nivia. However, the two didn’t seem to mind baring their body for her view. Thus, Erin decided to just comply with their words and conducts.

If they don’t mind, neither should I. Yes, that’s how it should be. I’m not at fault for ogling.

“Here,” Nivia said and tossed a few clothings of similar design to Erin. A light blue halter dress with an open back and a considerate slit designed solely for any races with a tail. Erin promptly changed it into the fresh clothes from her soiled and sweaty armor garbs.

“Now you look more like a Fae. How lovely.”

“Thanks,” Erin muttered with a faint glee. Just as she thought, she wasn’t perturbed when a girl complimented her. Erin then arched an eyebrow at a word she had been dying to ask. “What’s a Fae?”

“Faerie-kin,” Nivia answered as she gathered up their dirty clothes and garbs before tossing it into a basket. “Every word has its diminutive form.”

After forcing a few extra clothes of Fae design onto the reluctant Erin as spares, Nivia began her lessons as she vetoed Erin’s refusal of her charity.

“Well then, let us begin.” Nivia announced in a sophisticated tone. ”Before one wishes to utilize Magic, one needs to understand, what is Magic?”

What’s with your grandeur display of hand gestures? And why are we sitting on the ground instead of the huge bed this room has? And why are there no chairs or tables?

Ignoring the baffled glance from Erin, Nivia continued with her splendour. “What is Magic? It is the manifestation of a concept and an idea through the usage and assistance of a mysterious and potent force known only to the world as Mana or Magic Vigor. Which led us to another question, what is Mana?”

Nivia made a dramatic pause.

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Erin fought back an eyeroll.

“No one knows,” she continued after a few seconds of awkward silence had passed. “It exists even before the time of our ancestors. Scholars believe Mana was a part of the primordial phase, the creation of the world. The Faiths deem Mana as a gift from the Gods. Some were even convinced Mana was an essence of their creator, a reminder that a higher power exists, even higher than the Gods we know.”

“You believe in gods?”

Nivia grinned. “Our belief in them is not a factor. They exist whether we believe in them or not.”

I see. Gods exist in this world and it doesn’t sound like just a figment of the masses’ conjuration. Or, the indoctrination is just extremely well done.

“Us Faerie-kin, Faes, had our own beliefs. A celestial being we pray to. She is known to us as Avarossa, the Goddess of Spirit and Nature. The origin of both Spirits and Faes.”

Convincing as it sounded, Erin was a tad skeptical. “Have you met this Goddess?”

Nivia tittered. “Of course not. Faes may be long-lived, we are still mortals and no mortal could ever hope to lay their eyes on a celestial being. Unless one wishes to cast away their sound mind.”

Erin narrowed her eyes. “Then how do you know she exists?”

Nivia tittered again. “She speaks through the Spirits, my dear Erin. It may not be in the speech one could comprehend but you can feel it. Her intent, her presence, her touch… If you’re truly devoted, it won’t be queer for you to conceive the Unique Talent to hear her true voice.”

“Unique Talent…”

Nivia peered at the mumbling Erin. “Are you not familiar with that term?”

Erin shook her head. “No, I am familiar but I do not know how to obtain a Unique Talent.”

After a brief contemplation, Nivia shrugged. “It’s another mystery that has eluded the brilliant minds of many scholars. There was no maxim, even among Faes.

Erin was surprised to hear that. Given the existence of Appraisal, she thought nothing could ever be a mystery but it seemed even Appraisal had its own limits.

“Various theories, folktales, and hearsays to that subject are scattered about. However, there is a similarity point from all rumors and discussions. A Unique Talent is believed to be a reflection of one’s heart. It’s an expression of one’s true desire.”

One’s true desire… Does that mean acquiring Unique Talents is the answer in regaining my former status as the Sword Saint?

Nivia watched on as Erin had an enraptured gaze towards the empty air. “Pardon me, Erin. Do you mind if we get on with the lesson?”

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“Ah?” Erin blurted out. “Oh right. Please, continue.”

Nivia put on a faint smugness on her face before continuing. “In order to learn Magic, one needs the aptitude for it.”

Erin was about to interrupt but Nivia halted her with a hand. Nivia knew what she wanted to ask. She gave Erin a knowing smile.

“After affirming one’s own Magic aptitude, this is where the tedious parts come in. One is required to sink hours and hours into a superficial and practical understanding of the Magic Art one has chosen. And it’s only a matter of course, each Magic Art requires their own corresponding aptitude. As for your anticipated question, for one to discern the types of aptitudes they possess, there are currently three known ways, as we speak.”

Oh? Three?

“The first way is the most common of all and the only option that costs gold. That is through the use of an Affinity Gem. One can come by such an item and service from The Guild. The price of ther service varies between towns and cities. The lowest known price at present is a silver.”

That sounds expensive for people with similar financial status as me.

“As for the second way, it is considered to be the most foolish and daring way.”

Foolish and daring. Erin’s heart skipped a beat when she heard those words. Her tails were wagging in the rhythm of her heart.

Nivia pretended like she didn’t see anything. “To put it simply and briefly, one gets hit by various Magic until they feel a connection.”

Until they feel a connection? That’s not foolish or daring. That sounds like someone’s perverted fantasy.

Nivia noticed the sourly look Erin had. “I should make it clear that I did not choose that option for my case.”

Erin shrugged in retort.

“As for the last but not least, this can be considered the most natural and uncommon of all three. Meditation.”

Erin blinked. “Natural yet uncommon… How?”

“It’s best to know only after you decided to take this path as this option can be very… confusing, to say the least.”

Although it was incredibly vague, Erin could empathize. During her time as Argon Raze, the Sword Saint, she had been asked and implored to teach or simply advise other swordsmen of considerable caliber. Even so, she had a hard time relaying her knowledge. Sword art came as natural as breathing to her but the same couldn’t be said for others.

“But I do not think you’ll need an aptitude test.”

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Erin arched an eyebrow. “Why not?”

“Because you are a Fae and Faes are instinctive beings. We are born with Magic unlike humans or Beast-kin who requires external assistance. Besides, I highly recommend that you master the Magic Arts you currently have before acquiring more. There are various instances where many, Faes included, have bit off more than they could chew, as the humans put it. Resulting in an unbalanced set of skills in their later levels.”

“I see. So, like having trouble deciding which skills to allocate your skill points into?”

At her words, Nivia’s smile disappeared and she furrowed her brows. “Come again?”

Noticing the change in mood, Erin hesitantly repeated. “Like having trouble—”

“No, the last part.”

“Allocate your skill points?”

“What do you mean by that?”

Erin then explained how she gained points after gaining a level which she can spend on increasing the strength of her skills or abilities. She also didn’t leave out how some actions provide experiences but of course, she avoided mentioning the actions specifically. Erin wasn’t sure if Nivia would keep her composure after knowing her coitus session with Lyra from her own lips. After Erin finished her explanation, Nivia was left dazed with a distant look.

“Nivia?” Erin waved in front of the Elf.

“Incredible…”

Erin had a premonition. “It’s that not how it is for everyone else?”

“Of course it’s not!” She raised her voice.

“Oh,” Erin muttered. “Then how do you increase your skill levels or gain experience?”

“Practice. Repeated usage. Understanding of the skill’s concept and construct. For personal levels, one gains experience from taking the lives of other living beings. The essence of the fallen is drawn into the slayer, empowering them. That’s the concept.”

Erin nodded her head in understanding but she wasn’t any less anxious about her own peculiarity.

“Experiences can also be gained from various daily tasks, yes, but they are so meagre that it would take more than fifteen years just to gain a single level. And that’s only counting the initial level as one. Gaining this much experience from just actions is simply unheard of.”

Oh great. So I’m even more of an anomaly than I had thought.

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“Erin, I truly wish to not delve into your personal matters but I really have to ask due to the disparity,” Nivia took a deep breath. “Just who are you?”

Erin knew it was just a matter of time before someone became too interested in her to look the other way from all her antics. The time was now. She had to say something. Just anything but Erin wasn’t sure if she wouldn’t just come off as a lunatic if she revealed even a speck of truth.

“Is the reason so grave that you can’t speak of it?”

“Rather than being grave, it’s more on the line of being believable or not.”

Nivia leaned forward and tangled her fingers with Erin’s. “We’re Faes. You can tell me.”

“Hmm… before I tell you, have you heard of the Sword Saint?”

“Sword Saint?” Nivia blinked for a while before letting out a snigger, seemingly amused at her the question.

Did she understand my implications and found it unbelievable?

“Of course I do. Unless one lives under a rock, everyone knows the Sword Saint.”

Oh? She didn’t grasp my implication. Huh, I don’t know if I should feel relieved or sad.

“Astoria Stormedge, the Sword Saint. Everyone knows about her. Does she have something to do with your circumstances?”

….What? Astoria Stormedge? That’s the name of the Sword Saint? Wh— How—

Seeing Erin’s stuttering gaze and gaping mouth, Nivia glanced concernedly at her. “Is everything alright, Erin?”

Gulping her stammer in both speech and mind, Erin responded, “the Sword Saint’s name is Astoria Stormedge?”

Nivia returned the gesture. “You don’t know?” she asked. “But you know of the Sword Saint, no?”

Erin was silent for a brief moment. “Then, does the name, Argon Raze, ring a bell?”

“Argon Raze….”

Even without a verbal response, Erin could already guess Nivia’s answer just by looking at the Elf pondering at the name. Saying her heart had sunk would be an understatement.

“I’m sorry, it doesn’t ring a bell,” came the expected words from Nivia. “Is the Sword Saint and this… Argon Raze person related to your circumstances?”

“Related… I don’t think that’s the case anymore…” Erin mused as her tails and ears drooped, which brought about a wave of worries for Nivia.

My existence has been replaced…

The epiphany shattered all ties Erin had with her former world. Now, it was without a doubt. Argon Raze had died and been reincarnated as a Fox-kin girl in a parallel world. This was Evaren but it wasn’t the future like she had hoped it to be. If it was the future, she could receive some closure and her former identity would still carry some weight but there was no such person as Argon Raze in this world, never had been.

“Erin?”

“I-I’m sorry,” Erin apologized and got up but Niva held on to her hand. “Please, I need some time alone,” she told the Elf.

There was a frown painted on the Elf’s face for a brief moment but it was quickly overwritten with an understanding smile. “Of course. My apologies for intruding on a personal matter.”

“No no. You’re not to blame, Nivia. It’s just… I have a very difficult circumstance. I just need some time to gather my thoughts.”

Nivia clasped Erin’s hand in both of hers. “I understand. I’ll be here if you need anything. In the meantime, you can rest yourself in the next room.”

“Ah? Next room? But I don’t have the gold.”

“Rest assured, Erin. It’ll be on my tab,” Nivia offered as easy as the wind blew.

“I appreciate your generosity, Nivia, but I—”

“Please, I insist, Erin. The price is no object to me. The proprietress here is an advocate of Demi-humans. You’ll find her extremely accommodating towards you. Also, your sorrowful aura troubles my heart greatly. Knowing you’re just by my side puts me at ease. I won’t pry into your personal matters anymore until you’re ready but please, accept my sympathies. As fellow Faes, this the least I can do for you by no intruding upon your privacy.”

Although Nivvia’s tone was nothing but sincere and heartfelt, her gaze suggested a different meaning to her words. Erin wanted to refuse but she didn’t exactly have a place where she could even call it a temporary residence.

“Well, in that case, I accept your charity but you have to heed my words; this is a debt I might not be able to repay but I have every intent to do so. I hope you understand.”

“Erin, my dear, we’re not like the ungrateful humans who stabbed their benefactors in the back. We Faes help each other just because we’re Faes. It’s not a sense of obligations. It’s just how we are.”

“I see.” Erin nodded. “That’s good to know.” She then walked to the door after collecting her gears and equipment. She was about to collect her armor and garbs too but Nivia insisted vehemently that she would take care of it. Her heavy breathing worried Erin greatly but she wasn’t in a mood to be the straight person. Reluctantly, she left her armor and garbs in the care of the dubious Elf.

“And um… just one last thing.” Nivia spoke up before Erin left the room. “While the proprietress meant well, she can be, at times, quite… bold.”

Erin raised an eyebrow. “Bold?”

“Just be cautious. If she does something to you or just attempts, be sure to let me know, alright?”

Erin smiled wryly. “I’ll be fine, Nivia,” she said and left the room with a solemn expression.

Under normal circumstances, the connotation of the proprietress’ nature would be obvious to the former virgin but her head was plagued with troubles and unrest at the moment. It wasn’t until the descent of the night that Erin realized just how inattentive she had been.


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