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Chapter 65: Different Talents

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

“You were cool, Mistress.”

“Huh?” Carmen hadn’t expected that to be the first thing to come out of Kagriss’s mouth.

“The way that you cut through those skeletons was cool.”

Carmen blushed. “Not now, Kagriss. Besides, it was nothing…any other knight class could probably do the same…”

But Kagriss shook her head. “No one else could move as beautifully as you did.”

“What are you saying at such a time?” Carmen turned away, stabbing her sword into the ground between them, putting up a mental and physical barrier between them. “Rather than that, do something about the door…”

“I merely spoke the truth,” Kagriss said. However, her smile told Carmen that her words weren’t only what they seemed, not that Carmen couldn’t already tell.

Sighing, Carmen watched as the lich finally looked away from her and felt her fluttering heart calm down. It was so difficult to be around Kagriss, especially when she began to randomly say embarrassing things. It started after that night they spent together. Things were easier before she entered a tentative relationship with that stupid lich.

The worst thing was, instead of backing off now that they’d had sex, Kagriss wanted more than just a taste and had gotten even more interested in making Carmen flustered.

She was good at it too, picking the most inopportune moments to make these kinds of comments—not that she didn’t also make them at opportune moments either.

At least she managed to divert Kagriss’s attention with the metal door.

Kagriss seemed to see the black iron doors for the first time despite it being so big and taking up almost the entire wall on the other side of the cave.

The magical aura that emanated from it was nothing to sneeze at. Whenever Carmen tried to test its defenses by sending bits of mana at it, all she felt in response was a foreboding sense of danger that she couldn’t decipher as her mana was forcibly unraveled and dispersed before it could touch the door.

“Kagriss?”

“Please wait, Mistress,” Kagriss said, the teasing smile on her face disappearing as she switched gears. Carmen tried to watch what she was doing, hoping that she’ll learn something, but whatever Kagriss did with her mana as she studied the enchantments on the door was beyond Carmen’s comprehension.

Sometimes, magic could be frustrating in how restrictive it was, since either a person had the affinity for certain types of mana or they didn’t. Gaining new affinities like she did was rare.

Likewise, the talent each person had and direction of development for each affinity was set in stone from the start. Carmen will never become a high mage in either holy or undead mana, and so such things that could only be learned and performed by high mages of a particular affinity were beyond her.

If, in the future, she ran into situations like this and she didn’t have a mage with her, she’d have to try and break through the whole thing by force, which was dangerous.

While she studied the enchantments, Kagriss looked to be in a trance, grimacing at times. After a long period of staring at the door and doing various things with her mana, she finally snapped back to reality, blinking as she adjusted. She turned to Carmen with a smile.

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“Did you get it?” Carmen asked.

“Yes. It wasn’t difficult at all.”

Although Carmen doubted her words because of the frustrated expressions Kagriss made at times, she let the lich have her moment. “So, what did you find?”

“Umm…let me think,” Kagriss said as she sorted out all the information she got. The way she tapped her chin reminded Carmen of Fleur and it was really cute. Finally, Kagriss launched into her explanation.

“There are around fifteen discrete enchantments total on the door. Most of them are interlocked formations, and of those, three are rotational. Those three are bridged…”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Carmen said interrupted Kagriss could go any further. She held her head.

Scratch that. Rather than Fleur, Kagriss was definitely more similar to Arvel. All of these high mages were like this, or perhaps she was just dumb?

Carmen knew what an interlocked formation was, but what was a rotational formation? She vaguely remembers hearing something about it from Arvel—or perhaps one of the archpriests at the Order—but since she usually tuned him out when he really got going, Carmen couldn’t remember any specifics.

“A rotational formation?” Kagriss echoed when she asked. “Those are formations that change depending on how the surrounding interlocked formation changes. The problem is they deteriorate quickly and most can’t undo their own changes, so they are powerful and flexible but take a lot of maintenance.”

“Which means…”

“Judging from the condition that the rotational formations are in, the last time they were updated and reset was at least two months ago—and likely much longer, Mistress.”

After hearing Kagriss’s explanation, Carmen got what she was implying. “So there’s almost no chance they’re in there, or they’d have done a better job maintaining the formation, right?”

Kagriss nodded before she looked at Carmen with eyes that Carmen couldn’t read. “Mistress?”

“…Yes?” Carmen put her guard up.

Kagriss’s expression turned sad. “Mistress, you have to learn more about advanced magic, even if you can’t cast them yourself.”

Carmen felt something stab her heart as Kagriss struck her where it hurt.

She couldn’t help it if she was no good at anything other than direct application magic. It wasn’t even that she’s bad at magic in general. She was just bad at a specific subtype that required large scale complexity and delaying effects. It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t cast them.

As a result, she had neither the motivation nor the patience to learn them…

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“Just…tell me how to break the enchantment,” she muttered.

Kagriss’s expression softened and she didn’t continue to stab at Carmen’s wound. “It’s going to be a complex process, but for the most part, its strongest parts—the rotational formations—are tailored to resisting holy magic. Since we use undead magic, it’ll be much easier.”

“Will I be of any help?”

Kagriss hesitated before she finally nodded. “Yes, Mistress,” she said, which Carmen interpreted as “No, not really, but I’ll find something for you to do.”

Sighing, Carmen backed up as Kagriss got to work, creating a tide of undead mana that crashed into the door faster than the enchantments could disperse them. The mana writhed and turned into dozens of little tentacles and hands that manipulated the empty air, although Carmen could vaguely feel and see the spell structures embedded in the door.

Once created, spell structures were difficult to change through brute force. They either expended itself, deteriorated over time, disappeared from becoming cut off from their mana source, be forcibly broken, or be dismantled.

When attacking formations, only the fourth and fifth methods were effective. Kagriss employed the fifth method as she pinpointed weakness in the formation spell structure and slowly changed them with her own structures.

The structures she created weren’t true spells, but temporary ones custom made to slot into each weakness so carefully it didn’t cause the spell structure’s effect to trigger.

One by one, Kagriss dismantled the formations where she could and brute forced the ones that would either be too difficult or troublesome—such as the ones with anti-tampering built into it. Although Carmen knew that Kagriss was perfectly capable of destroying those by herself, Kagriss still called her over each time as manpower.

Slowly, the entangled defensive formations fell apart until only the last one remained active: a single formation that had been hidden behind all the rest of them and acted as a backbone that supported the other formations.

The last formation was so simple that even Carmen could identify its effects: a formation with the functions of feeding mana to other formations, repairing them, and acting as the last line of defense if all else failed. The formation itself scaled well with more mana, and without the other formations weighing it down and siphoning mana from it, it became a powerful last defense.

Nonetheless, it was a simple formation and thus didn’t stand a chance against Kagriss. As the lich went to dismantle the final formation, Carmen stopped her.

“Wait, since they already know we’re here after messing with those formations, let’s put on a show for them. They’re probably not here though, right?”

“A show?” Kagriss asked. The magic in her hands fizzled out. “What do you mean?”

“Right now, that formation is just a simple defensive shield, right? In that case, I want to try to break it with brute force.”

“But…wouldn’t that show our enemies our hand, Mistress?”

Carmen had expected Kagriss to just nod and say go ahead, so Kagriss’s cautious reaction surprised her. But that wasn’t bad. It was good that Kagriss could see past her apparent worship—in a sense—of Carmen in order to make better decisions.

However, Carmen simply wanted to break something right now. Something that won’t dodge, something that won’t hit back. A random boulder wouldn’t do it since she wanted her action to have meaning, and in the end, she was left with this perfect target in front of her.

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She gripped her greatsword. “I don’t mind. They’ll already be on guard against us anyway after your display of skill. Showing them that we have strength in spades as well might unnerve them.”

“Mistress…I don’t think that most undead will be unnerved so easily.”

Carmen winced as Kagriss once again acted as the voice of reason. But she didn’t care.

She rarely got the chance to act selfish after all, and after spending most of her life enslaved to her responsibilities and duty, it would be a breath of fresh air for her to make a few minor stupid decisions.

Wait…since when did she start thinking of her former responsibilities as a form of enslavement? She had always found it to be an honor to act as commander…but now that she thought about it, it was also true that peoples’ expectations of her colored her judgement and placed an invisible but substantial pressure on her to succeed.

After all, if she truly loved being a commander, wouldn’t she want to return to her post instead of running around like this? Compared to being stuck in the Order all day, she much preferred her current freedom.

Being selfish didn’t feel bad…

Carmen shook herself and began to channel mana, refreshing her body reinforcement spells and imbuements. “My mind won’t be changed. If something goes wrong because of this, then I’ll stay behind to buy you time to escape.”

A look of horror crossed Kagriss’s face. “Mistress, how could you say that? I—”

The rest of her words faded from Carmen’s ears as she tuned out everything except her mana, her body, and her sword. A huge amount of undead mana surged into her blade, roiling just beneath the surface like a dragon seeking to break free.

Of the spells that she converted to be usable with undead mana, most of them were Arts. Although many of the conversions failed thanks to fundamental differences between holy and undead mana, others succeeded.

The one that she felt that she’ll be using most was a derivation of the basic Sever Art.

When her eyes opened again, she ran forward with her sword dragging behind her, mirroring the assault she mounted against the barrier at the cave entrance. However, this time, she didn’t sweep her blade. Instead, she jumped up and cleaved downwards vertically, aiming for the tiny gap between the double doors.

She sought to cleave straight through the locks that held the door shut. But before she could even consider something like that, she had to break through the defensive formation first.

Carmen had full confidence in herself.

The mana within her sword gained structure as she channeled them into an Art. Something black covered her sword, sheening like light reflecting off the surface of obsidian.

“Severing Radiance!”

Carmen only felt the tiniest of resistances against her sword when she slashed down, carving straight through the defensive formation and the lock. Her sword crashed into the ground…and kept going until she was hilt deep in the rock.

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A normal Severing Radiance wouldn’t have had that kind of effect. However, she had poured so much mana into the Art that she believed that she was probably one of only a few people capable of controlling it. Her control over mana when using direct application magic was legendary among templars, after all.

…she wasn’t incompetent at magic. Just differently talented.

Repeating those words over and over again in her mind, Carmen had a blank face on her as she pulled out the sword from the fissure she had made in the ground. With a crack, a black shell broke and fell off the blade of the sword, falling to the ground and scattering into mana.

Gestured for Kagriss to follow while she concentrated on absorbing and processing the raw mana in the air to replenish the mana she used in the Art just now, Carmen kicked open the set of heavy iron doors and walked into the beyond with her greatsword lying flat, menacingly, on her shoulder.



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