Chapter 72: Correction
The siblings now had plans to occupy themselves from lunch to the end of the afternoon; they thus headed to the Skill Library for the morning. The sun had already risen from the horizon, promising sunshine for the whole day. Perfect conditions for a perfect day.
“There’s one thing I still don’t understand. If you have yet to learn a skill from the library, how could you deal with the monsters when we were … hunting? You shot some kind of black light at the [Hungry Wolves], didn’t you?”
The main building of the Adventurer’s Guild was quite close to the Skill Library. Henry gallantly opened the door for his stepsister when they arrived at their destination.
“I don’t think it could be called a skill... When you live in the Wilderness, you naturally pick up a trick or two, it’s kinda necessary to survive. Can’t really say what it is since I don’t know how skills are supposed to feel like, I just go with the flow to always prevail. I didn’t learn from anyone. Well, actually, one of my abilities, that dark light you mentioned, might be a skill, one I created by myself. That’s why I’m looking forward to get a proper scroll, I want to know too. Maybe I can teach you once I understand.”
Staring in wonder, Nisha’s voice trailed off. She knew what a library was. There had been some books in the mansion in the hunting grounds. She was blind at the time and couldn’t read them, but she knew they were there. Although there was a well-furnished collection of books at the Dharnas’ estate as well, the elven girl hadn’t showed them any interest so far as other matters were more pressing.
Wow, this is a true library.
Racks filled to the brim, stretching endlessly made up the first floor. The books neatly stowed in uniform rows were only distinguishable by their backs, each adorned with a different symbol next to a calligraphed title.
As if it wasn’t impressive enough, the paper valley did not only spread horizontally, but also vertically, the little girl noticed after raising her head.
The library continued to climb up in a cyclical fashion, the colors of the books changing according to the layer.
Henry led her towards a counter near the stairs, ignoring the curious glances of the various people roaming the first layer.
He was the kind of person to never give up, and he nagged Nisha to have the last word.
“That scary dark skill? Not a chance, it’s much too spooky for me. Having more techniques can’t hurt, though. You should take that chance, with your aptitude, learning one or two skills shouldn’t be a problem at all.”
He beckoned at the clerk sitting behind the desk; Nisha had things she wanted to say, they now would have to wait.
“Excuse me, sir. My sister here has just gotten her guild card and she would like to be shown around. Would you happen to be able to introduce her to the great Skill Library?”
Appearing quite annoyed to be bothered while he was reading, the employee begrudgingly closed his perusal and shot a glare at the youngsters.
“Sure, sure, just make it quick. You’ve been here before, right, lad? Just tell her what she needs to know. First, place your hand here; look closely little miss.”
Pointing at a huge glass orb fastened on top of the desk, the bored clerk urged Henry to demonstrate things to get back to his fascinating story quicker.
Nodding silently, the noble stepped forward and placed his palm on the transparent ball.
Small wisps grew, the whole globe was soon filled with a bland brown glow, revealing his earth element affinity.
“As you can see, we use this to determine your aptitude. The general utility spells are provided for free to anyone, like [Light] from the light system, [Summon Water] from the water system and so on, the kind of spells and aura techniques without any offensive abilities that just ease the daily routine of Leandar’s citizens. To receive that book, given with a memory stone, you only have to provide us with your name and place of residence if you’re a Leandar resident. Adventurers get one for free too.”
Tossing her a book identical to those placed on the shelves around the counter, the employee could barely gather enough mental strength to refrain from yawning and continue his explanation.
“What are you waiting for? I don’t have all day for you, go ahead, the sooner we’ll get rid of that basic test the sooner you can move on to the second floor to pick one meditation technique and one aura instruction book.”
What’s a memory stone? And what aptitude? Didn’t I already do that at the Guild?
Nisha had many more questions, that Henry cut short.
“Just do it. I’ll explain it to you later, when we’ll look for one or two books for you.”
Evidently displeased by the service provided, her step brother gently pushed her towards the globe, eyeing the Library’s retainer, his eyes narrowed in distrust.
Shrugging internally, the elven girl obliged. Placing her small hand on the large crystal sphere, she felt a slight tug at the contact. Wondering about the strange glass’ inner workings, she allowed her mana and aura to flow out into the item.
Blossoming from its depths, a green flame flickered and grew into a crimson ball of light, smooth and shining brightly. As soon as the flaming ball stabilized, all color vanished from the orb, the darkest of nights claimed the entirety of the space. All those things had actually happened so fast that it had been barely noticeable to the naked eye, the glass was now completely obscured. The dragon knew of the developments existence because she could feel it had appeared through her powers’ influence; like she knew that it was not over, and that the orb wasn’t strong enough to contain the last change. With a loud bang, it splintered in many fragments, that went littering the floor like rainbow raindrops.
“What the …!”
Swearing loudly, the lazy employee jumped out of his seat, dropping his book without realizing it.
“The measuring device! You broke it! What did you do?”
Gaping at the countless sparkling glass fragments on the ground, the previously idling man couldn’t stop cursing, and his screams attracted another female employee.
“You! Go and get the director! They broke the measuring device!”
Accusingly pointing at the pair of siblings, he shouted at the innocent woman who hurried away.
“This was not supposed to happen, was it?”
Deliberately ignoring the display of human stupidity, Nisha turned around and questioned Henry, her eyebrow raised.
“No, actually, the measuring orb only indicates your affinity, you saw it with me earlier. The first time I came here, it was brown too, although the intensity wasn’t as great. I guess I got stronger since then.”
“Not going to comment on breaking it?”
“You tend to mind small details too much, little sister.”
He said with a dry laugh.
How can he say it like that? It’s not like I’m some kind of monster. I’m a magnificent beast!
Being ignored didn’t disturb the employee, as he stubbornly carried on with his tirade while Henry and Nisha were merrily chatting.
“By the way, what’s with the memory stone? And while we’re at it, what techniques did you pick?”
Casually asking, the dragon didn’t fool anyone, she was pressing for answers.
“Ah, that brings back memories. I had always heard stories about my grandfather being a great wizard, and I couldn’t help but note that dad was a powerful knight, after all he’s been entrusted the defense of the whole kingdom by the King himself. I once dreamt of becoming both a powerful knight and a great wizard at the same time. Unfortunately, it seems I have no aptitude when it comes to handling mana, I never made any progress with the [Mysteries of the Earth] mana meditation technique.
On the other hand, I got lucky and stumbled upon a book called [Diary of the Earth Knight Denorths]. A good find, as the memory stone included with the book held recordings of three skills, the first rank [Shield of Stone], the second rank [Earth Armor] and lastly a third ranked skill [Sundering Sword]. As the name implies, the first two are defensive techniques, and the last one is an offensive one.
Also, the book seems to describe the basics of an even higher ranked skill, but I haven’t figured out that one yet.
Here in the Skill Library, every adventurer gets one book from the collections, chosen from the sole title, and most books includes either memory stones or manuals for advanced skills. I’ve heard of a noble family founded on the trade of a skill book of the eighth rank!”
Eighth rank? I’d be curious to see if I could understand it …
“Oh, I don’t think I told you… A memory stone records images, it’s very useful to teach ordinary people, people who are not adventurers; they can learn the easy unranked skills for their everyday life simply through a little recording.
Higher ranked skills can’t be learned without the proper understanding capability, that’s one of the reasons why I still struggle to grasp the [Sundering Sword]. But I’m making progress, whereas with the [Mysteries of the Earth] I didn’t even reach the first mana rank.
Anyway, when a F rank first comes here, he is allowed to pick one random technique. Afterwards, he can go up a floor to chose a book in the same way every time his Guild rank improves.
Don’t be blinded by the rank of a manual! A complete meditation technique on the first floor can enhance your training speed by several folds, it’s much more valuable than a skill, even one rank higher. By harmonizing your skills with your meditation method, they both will gain even more effectiveness. Well, from what I’ve been told it’s hardly possible to harmonize a skill completely with a cultivation technique, and even harder to use a skill whose element is different from the cultivation techniques.
I didn’t pass by the Skill Library after reaching the E rank. I still work on my third ranked skill, I want to master it thoroughly before adding another one to my set. I’d probably need to reach the third rank first before I can fully employ it’s true might, though. Maybe I should take another one today …”
Glancing at her step brother, who had a pondering expression on his face, Nisha was surveying him with her spirit sight, interested in the reasons why he couldn’t practice magic. Due to his constant presence by her side in the past moons, she had already gotten used to his appearance in her [Spirit Sight].
Ah! That’s it!
“I know why you can’t practice the [Mysteries of the Earth]. You need a water based mana technique, not an earth one. You took the wrong attribute.”
“What are you saying! First you break the measuring orb and now you’re spouting nonsense! Didn’t you see the earthen glow before? He has an earth attribute. Stop lying!”
Interrupting his monologue, the library employee looked down at the elven girl, full of contempt.
“How could the Library be wrong? Why would he even need a water based technique when he’s earth attribute?Some people just are less skilled at handling one type of energy, but even if that wasn’t his case, what could a little girl like you know about it? People starving for attention are disgusting, you should remember that, little girl.”
After those harsh words, the silence was even heavier.
Luckily, the female library worker from before returned with an old elf at that moment.
“Sir, I am glad you’re finally here! Look at that! They broke it! Those two did it!”
Pointing at Nisha and Henry, the agitated man pleaded the man Nisha presumed to be the director to ban the delinquents from the holy sanctuary that was the Skill Library.
“Now, now, calm down. It is only a measuring orb, we have had cases like that in the past. I assume one of them overloaded the orb.
I have to admit I wasn’t expecting the damage to be this … extreme, though.”
“That’s not all! The girl also claims the Library didn’t determine the boy’s attribute correctly! According to her, he needs a water type book for mana cultivation, but the orb was definitely filled with brown threads!
Clearly they are here to stir up trouble!”
Displaying his agitation as much as he could in his words, the employee accused the seemingly innocent duo.
“Please, once again, calm down. I heard your complaints, and I will act accordingly. Clean up the glass and go fetch a new measuring orb, there should be another one stored in the cellar. Angelica, do you mind helping out here? Our friends here will follow me to my office, so after you are done with that, please inform me. Understood?”
Clearly, the clerk had many more things to say, however he gritted his teeth and nodded, walking off to get a broom to clean up the small crystal drops.
Without another word, the white bearded elf walked towards the stairs, not bothering to look back to verify if the two youths were following him.
Nisha immediately chased him, his countenance was reminding her of her grandfather’s, she had to see if he was akin to Eldrin in what he was going to say.
Henry looked somewhat reluctant, his step sister's actions had once more went far beyond his expectations.
Scaling three flights of stairs, the trio ended up in front of a finely ornamented wooden door.
Touching these works of art would almost be sacrilege, but the Director opened them wide without a care; he then guided them through a waiting room, a secretary’s office - startling a man in the process - and to an even more luxurious doorway, driving them directly in his domain. The old elf gestured towards the chairs in front of an impressive desk, and slumped into his own chair, exhausted from the long walk.
Recalling her manner lectures, Nisha gave a small curtsy before taking a seat; her step brother simply sat down, expectantly folding his hands on the table, carrying himself with dignity.
“Nobles, aren’t we? Well, let’s start with a round of introductions. You might have guessed by now, I am the director of the Grand Library of Thurgau, more commonly known as the Skill Library. I go by the name of Sarand Sheridan, a pleasure to meet you. Might I know your names?”
“It is an honor to be in presence of a member of the Ducal House of Sheridan. This one is called Henry Dharnas, my lord, heir to the Marshal and Duke Luthais Dharnas; this is my step sister Nisha, born Dharnas too. We came here today for her to receive her skills, she earned her guild card recently and hasn’t had the chance to pass by the Library yet, I was supposed to show her around. Breaking the measuring device was an unfortunate accident; we will obviously compensate you for the damages suffered.”
Apologizing to the director without bowing his head as he preemptively took the blame, Henry informed Nisha of the director’s social standing.
“Oh no, don’t make a big deal out of that small incident.
I am merely a distant relative of the Duke House, this one is not worthy to be called a lord.
Do not worry about the orb. As I mentioned it before, there have been similar cases before. Such a delicate machine is not meant to withstand sudden bursts of either mana or aura, we have replacements prepared in case one breaks.
I have to apologize for failing to properly assess your aptitude; if Miss Dharnas is right, we’ll correct it later.
But, my Lady, why would you be so sure that your brother has a different elemental affinity than the one stated by the orb?
Did you perhaps feel it, or maybe you had a premonition?”
Gazing into the elf’s deep green eyes, Nisha recognized a spark from his calculative mind, coupled with genuine curiosity. In a way, he was similar to her deceased grandfather, but since he was a different person, he was not to be trusted blindly.
Deciding to have faith in her intuition, the elven girl partly disclosed the incredible truth, keeping the sensitive details for her.
“No, I’ve somehow seen it, if you understand what I mean. I won’t say any more. My step brother apologized already, but I’ll want you to know how sorry I am for making you lose an orb, it wasn’t my intention for things to end up this way.”
“No need, no need. Seeing … that’s a rare gift. Master Henry, would you mind letting me hold your hand for a moment? I want to confirm your sister’s words, if you are not against it, of course.
Wordlessly handing his hand to the old man, the young siblings expectantly waited as the elf closed his eyes.
Nisha saw him circle his mana silently a few time in her [Spirit Sight], some leaking into Henry’s body. After a few breaths, the emerald eyes snapped open again.
“Hmm, extraordinary. You were correct!”