Published at 24th of November 2022 12:34:45 PM

Chapter 104

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Pristine Frostore Amulet? I appreciated the upgrade—freebies were freebies—but this could've been much better.

More Magic Resilience was nice, but I was yet to encounter a monster with strong magical abilities. Neither had I met one with powerful Water attacks and Freezing skills. The chance to Freeze was wasted on me because I attacked very slowly. And I’d rather not immobilize my enemies because they wouldn't be able to hit me and trigger my retribution damage or pop my [Greater Pyro Shell].

Oh well…the Magic Power did add almost negligible damage to my [Mantle of Kindling].

Lvl. 1 Mantle of Kindling: Intense heat deep within bursts outward, enveloping you with protection from the ancestors. Punish those who would strike you by Burning them. (15% chance to Burn attacker with 10% of Attack and Magic Power per second for 4 seconds). Those Burned by any source will be weakened by (-5% Attack and Magic Power) when attacking you. Replenish (20 + 0.1% of Armor) Ancestral Shroud when you Head-On Block an attack from a Burned enemy; limited to once every second.

Always try to see the silver lining in everything—that was what Mum would tell us during our family’s challenging times. That applied quite nicely when getting crappy items. The world needed to balance Herald Stone from becoming too powerful too quickly.

"Healer Gula," I said. "I heard about why your sister is conducting dangerous experiments." Bawu’s main goal was to enact revenge on the Mountain Guardian, who indirectly killed the rest of the Arcane Brewer Lodge during the Great Quake.

I brought this up, hoping it’d trigger something. A redemption arc for Bawu and bringing the two sisters closer to each other? A cure for Bawu's split personality? At the least, it should somewhat improve my relationship with Gula, given that I knew about their family secrets.

"She has told you…" Gula mournfully gazed at the low ceiling, perhaps recalling that dreadful tragedy two hundred years ago. "Bawu's dream in her deepest of hearts is to re-establish the Arcane Brewer Lodge. Quite an achievable goal, for she had retrieved many ancient scrolls from their collapsed laboratories. And I am certain that she can be a great teacher."

I raised a finger. "Actually..." But I stopped. Gula seemed agreeable to the idea of Bawu as a teacher, but perhaps not when it came to teaching younglings about poison.

She continued, "Alas, ancestor's woe! My sister wouldn't make one step in rebuilding her lost Lodge until she had destroyed the Mountain Guardian."

"I imagine that's insanely difficult to do," I dryly said.

"Bawu had sworn an oath to do so, an oath that I fear has bound her to a path of destruction…destruction of her own self. She is consumed by her desire to vanquish the Mountain Guardian in any way possible, no matter the method or the sacrifices. If only…if only there were a way to dissuade her from this path off a cliff."

"Path off cliffs? I'm an expert on that." I twirled my finger. "But let's circle back to Bawu's dream. Rebuilding the Arcane Brewer Lodge, right? If we can convince your sister to focus on teaching apprentices, maybe she'd forget about killing the Mountain Guardian?" And I'm already her student. Sadly, so was Luds.

"Your idea has some merit to it, youngling," Healer Gula said, stroking her chin in thought because she had filed her tusks short, unlike all other Mardukryons. "You are wise beyond your years."

"As if I'm not actually a youngling?" I said with a smirk. "Anyway, I can try to convince Brewer Bawu about it. How about you write her another letter? I'll deliver it to her—I'm an expert in delivering letters. While I'm at it, I can return the dangerous potions Bawu left behind in your shop. We don't want any more accidents to happen."

"But that would entail another perilous journey through the tunnels, my dear youngling."

"I have proven myself quite capable." And I'd respawn if I died, I added in my head. "Oh, and another thing. Brewer Bawu is moving her laboratories to more hidden parts of the tunnel; only I know of their location. I’m the Mardukryon for the job."

"Your words have convinced me." Healer Gula raised the quill she held. "I shall prepare a letter and Bawu's potions to return to her."

I had a massive smile as I mapped everything in my head.

It was like I was asking permission from my parents to play computer games at Vanguard Gaming. Pops would tell me to ask Mum, and Mum would point me to Pops. Well, not exactly that...but the reverse of that.

I'd tell Bawu that Healer Gula supported my becoming her student, which wasn't exactly what Gula said. Next, when I'd return to Gula after meeting Bawu, I'd reveal that I became her sister's student. I'd also tell Gula that Bawu thought it would be great if her sister taught me how to make healing potions.

Wasn't it a fantastic family bonding moment to share the same apprentice?

[ Received: Healer Gula's Handwritten Letter to Potion Brewer Bawu ]

[ Quest: Rekindling Sisterly Connection ]

Healer Gula wishes that her sister, Mad Brewer Bawu, forget her crusade for revenge. Gula's trust in you is growing. Now is the time to prove yourself further by delivering an essential letter to Bawu. Help the two sisters mend their broken ties; they might give you future aid to show gratitude.

"I do like the sound of that 'future aid.’" I rubbed my hands together in anticipation. It was like having a deposit in the 'favor bank.’ "You can count on me, Healer Gula."

[ Received: Large Fragile Bundle ]

[ Quest: Dangerous Return of the Dangerous ]

Brave the tunnels while carrying dangerous chemicals. Safely transport them to Mad Brewer Bawu for great rewards. Monsters may be attracted to the enticing scent of the potions you carry. Be swift on your hooves, be wary of any threats, and quickly do your task.

"This is a separate quest? Right, I was supposed to do this before, but you didn't want me to meet Bawu then."

"Take care when transporting the potion bottles," Gula cautioned me, waving her staff. "But I'm sure you are a prudent youngling."

"Can I open—? No, I can't," I said after checking the [Large Fragile Bundle] in my inventory.

Half my mind was curious about the kind of potions that were inside. The other half didn't care and wanted to experiment with drinking them all. I hoped that Bawu would give me some of them as part of the 'great rewards' the quest detail mentioned.

"Do you need help with anything else?" I asked. Getting these two quests reminded me to check with the NPCs about everything they wanted before moving on to complete their requests. Return trips were colossal time wasters and very annoying. "I’m an energetic youngling, eager to do chores.”

"There is something…” Gula ran her gnarled finger down the parchment she held. “I’m missing an important ingredient for an experimental brew," she said. "A new healing potion, more potent than any I have made before, that will cure many illnesses of our people. I require prickles from a Vinereaver to complete it."

"Vinereaver? Like Zoar Elab?" 'Hermit Vinereaver' was the name of the monster plant species inside the gigantic Mardukryon statue that wore it like a suit of armor.

"The Living Statue haunting the Silent Plaza? I have heard tales of that formidable monster from the Hunter-Warriors. I don't need thorns specifically from that one. That is too dangerous a task. Juvenile Vinereavers already form prickles sufficient for my brew."

"That makes it so much easier then." Easier, but I didn't think I could kill a baby version of Zoar Elab on my own. I could ask Kezo when he’d come online if he was free to help.

"My dear youngling, I'm not sending you on a Hunter-Warrior's mission. As you have bought materials from merchants on my behalf, I'm asking you to procure Vinereaver prickles from a certain Pathfinder. His name is Gibil."

“I know that guy.” Coincidence? Maybe not.


Before heading to the Cliff Village to Pathfinder Gibil's house, I had to pass by a couple of places.

My first stop was the shop of the head chef.

I had established a good connection with the Mardukryon chef, having completed several ingredient-collection quests for him, such as catching fish. If he could do me a favor and cook [Swineling Meat Pie], that'd be great—Bawu had mentioned that Healer Gula usually gifted it to her.

"I'll pay for it, of course," I said to the head chef. " I already have plenty of Swineling meat for you to cook." This was an excellent method of de-clogging my inventory without throwing items away.

He furiously scratched both of his tusks. "Many orders for the day! Many, many! I must prepare food for a banquet at the Chief's Lodge!" He rattled off all the food he had to cook.

“When’s your next free schedule?”

Then he smiled at me and winked. "But I will take your order! The ingredients you collected for me last time became the centerpiece of an important gathering of the Hunter-Warriors."

"Thank you very much," I said. "You took me for a spin on that one." I gave him the required Artas and meat for two boxes worth of pies. It'd take some time for them to cook, so I'd have to return later.

The next place I visited was the crimson goat.

I felt exceptionally generous, so I picked up a bottle of [Peely Fruit Wine] for Pathfinder Gibil. Again, that pesky goat wanted me to dance as payment, which I begrudgingly did. I had a hunch I better bring some wine when I met him.


"The beautiful Yusa has no place in her heart for me!" Pathfinder Gibil cried out. His tiny room at the corner of the third level of the Cliff Village was littered with shredded paper. Heartbroken from getting rejected, he tore Yusa’s letters. "Living is a vain pursuit without my beloved!"

"Yusa is beautiful?" Having spent much time in the village, I could distinguish villagers from their faces alone. But I had yet to learn what constituted the standard of an aesthetically pleasing Mardukryon. "Don't do anything crazy because of love; I still need something from you." I took the [Peely Fruit Wine] out of my inventory and plopped it on the table.

"Peely Fruit Wine is my only love now!" declared Gibil as he chugged the bottle.

"Herald is truly a man of foresight," I said. As I gazed around Gibil's cramped home, I wondered if this quest became available because of our prior interaction or if Gula would've sent me to him regardless. I encountered Gibil before because of my poison-brewing Ocadule. Was this meant to be, after all?

It took some time for Gibil to stop crying, so I answered some emails while he downed the bottle and shot off different theories about why Yusa rejected him.

After he finished the [Peely Fruit Wine], he finally asked me what I came for, and I told him about Healer Gula's request.

"Thank you for the wine, insightful youngling," Gibil said. "Truly thoughtful of you, bringing me what I need the most in my sorrow. Thusly, it pains my heart that I cannot give you what you need. I'm in no state to hunt, much less leave my home. Other Pathfinders may have Vinereaver prickles in stock, but I'm not aware who has returned from their hunts. Deep apologies, considerate youngling."

This is a bit of a pickle. A prickle pickle. "Healer Gula mentioned that it's fine even if the thorns came from baby Vinereavers," I said. "Pathfinder Gibil, do you think I have what it takes to hunt one myself?"

You may be wondering why crafting "classes" are Ocadules. Usually, crafting in RPGs is a mechanic everyone can do. If it's a separate class (like maybe FFXIV), it's more for moneymaking. When I used to play Ragnarok long ago (not sure how the game is now), crafting classes there weren't only money makers. They were quite powerful in their own right for PvP/PvE. I want crafters in Getting Hard to actually matter to the team, not needing separate combat Ocadules to participate in content.

Fifteen advanced chapters on Patreon. Thanks to all patrons, especially Cidule tier Teeneet (aka Whale) 
Read my other story: REND - a psychological novel with an atypical protagonist 
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