In a place where everything changes and stays constant as if the two were eternally intertwined, Alex has observed the repeating cycle for a month after her meeting with Hermes.
In a few cases of ‘adventurers’, as NPCs would call them, start in Culcheth Village, it was only a matter of time before they left. This was because the isolation that the village offered was a far cry from what they have expected – that if Rihanna were to be here, she would instantly regret being the ‘Only Girl (In the World)’.
However, these pass and go of people barely affected the village. The wind still carried the dried leaves of autumn, the waves still sung that alluring lullaby by the shore and more importantly, the village still housed the hopes and dreams of those it sheltered.
Although, in a sense, sheltered and imprisoned could be used interchangeably, Alex thought. This place, Culcheth Village, only had two exits: one through the mountain path and one under the mountain.
Through her constant observation and the trail and error by the other adventurers, it was safe to assume that those who began in Culcheth Village were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The path on the mountain winded numerous times and branched into multiple dead ends, enough to be considered a maze on its own. Furthermore, it was counted as a dungeon inhabited by high-leveled monsters.
On the other hand, the vast tunnel underneath was a hundred kilometers in diameter that both slowly expanded and contracted to open and close in a span of two hours.
Nonetheless, that didn’t apple to Alex. When she learnt of the village’s circumstances, even ignorance couldn’t give her as much bliss.
I don’t like being alone…
It was a month after the Ascension Online’s release and Alex was crouched in a cave. An intense expression masked her face as she stared at the cave wall before her.
An information prompt appeared,
Your [Prospecting] has reached Level 5!
- Wisdom has increased by 5.
- [Prospecting] range has increased to 50m.
- [Identify] can now be used on ores and gems.
At that moment, her gaze let up. She collapsed on the ground and the sound of her heavy breathing reverberated in her ears. In her parallel vision, the blue MP bar blinked profusely. It now had a sliver of 10MP from the five points she gained into the wisdom stat, in addition to the increased maximum value of her MP.
“I finally have [Prospecting] at a decent level.” Alex sighed in relief.
The Blacksmith’s Profession Quest she has received needed her to state the five ores found on the mountains, their uses and their properties. Currently, she has seen four of the ores, each ore buried deeper than the other.
She also knew that to [Identify] these materials, it required to be in her hands. Once identified, the second and third parts of her quest would be completed. In spite of that, she made no movements of excavating them from the earth.
Her bag was as empty as a newborn’s mind, and the currency counter below told her she had one silver coin saved up. Not to mention, the ten pieces of stale bread that was provided to starting players has long been finished.
As a last attempt, she activated [Prospecting] and threw another glance at the cracked wall, causing her remaining MP to be drained to 0.
Alex treated the outermost part of the village, arriving at the hut whose chimney offered cornucopias of smoke unto the jolly Sky.
“Oh, you returned.” Smiled the wolven beastman. He sat cross-legged on a tree stump, his right hand supporting the pipe that produced shameful puffs compared to the chimney.
The two furry ears poking out of his head twitched slightly in delight and even though he tried to conceal it, his tail perched on a low branch halted as it swayed languidly from side to side.
She nodded in acknowledgement however a frown creased her forehead. The man enjoyed the company of others, she understood that clearly from his reaction. Yet, he remains in this part of the village which was a family and a beastman from being described as deserted.
He chuckled, his [Heightened Senses] was capable of picking up on people’s moods and thoughts, despite this girl hiding it with a mere nod.
Inwardly, he held the girl in high regard. She came to ensure that he knew that she still intended to become an apprentice. Nevertheless, her voice was strict when he spoke. “You haven’t completed the quest.”
When the girl bobbed her head and turned around to leave, he continued on impulse. “I have a pickaxe inside. You can have it.”
She spoke after a pause. “Thanks.”
“You don’t have to be so stiff around me.” He said as she headed towards the hut behind him.
Once again, she gave him a simple nod. The ground held her gaze captive and no expression could be discerned within her.
I hate those quiet people, acting so arrogant! Who do they think they are?
As soon as the girl lifted the hut’s overhanging flap open, Gearan felt the skin under his fur crawl and squirm at the non-existent heat scorching him across his face. Amongst the pain, a stinging sensation loitered at the back of his mind as if a gash was exposed to the air.
“She… hated ugly people too.” The girl proclaimed, her hand touching her own face.
The hideous scar, Gearan realized and withdrew his [Heightened Senses] focused on the girl. Nonetheless, he was rooted in his place, as if the stump assimilated his body onto itself.
Although she was faced away from him, its clear image entered his mind – the grafting scar across the girl’s face surrounded by a crevice of pink burnt skin.
Unable to intervene, he watched the girl enter and leave the hut with the pickaxe in her possession. The hand clutching her scar, seethed in anger as it throbbed with even more heat.
“Why did you choose this path?” His teeth gritted.
Nonetheless, the girl ignored him and walked lifelessly, her foot barely able to support her swaying weight. When she was out of his line of sight, the wind carried her voice.
“I will become everything she hates.”