It was time to begin the journey to Boarding. Janice had spent the past two days finishing up experiments and preparing supplies. A backpack was given to me containing a personal tent, rations, and various other camping supplies. I was also wearing proper shoes, and clothes sturdy enough for travel. The style was old-fashioned, but I didn’t mind. The Knights gathered several changes of clothes from the fort’s previous residents, and I chose a few sets from among them. Janice is also dressed in similar clothing, typically worn by men; though she doesn’t seem to mind this. Must be what she wears when leaving the fortress anyway. She speaks to me as we walk toward the main gate.
>The Knights are incredibly pleased with the names you thought to give them. It makes me ashamed that I’ve neglected to do so myself.
>Sorry for not asking first. I got tired of trying to memorize their numbers.
>It’s quite alright. If anything this will make ingratiating ourselves with the people of Boarding an easier task, as a simple number is impersonal. Though it will take me time to unlearn calling them by their summon order and to begin addressing them by their newly assigned monikers. The symbols you’ve applied to their helmets will further add to their identities.
Beside us are the three knights joining us. I feel ashamed that I couldn’t come up with anything more interesting than simple handles for them, but typically they were delighted. I doubt any obscure references to Earth’s culture or history would be appreciated here. They are Joker (Three), Duelist (Fourteen), and Juggler (Fifteen). Joker’s helmet has a spade, Duelist’s helmet has two crossed swords, and Juggler’s helmet has three solid circles forming the points of a triangle. Thanks to /i/ the new insignia looks perfect as if they were meant to be there all along. The knights aren’t carrying any equipment besides their weapons because they don’t need sustenance or sleep. They’re purely maintained by the tention that Janice feeds them.
>Unfortunately, we will be proceeding on foot to the trading post. In an optimal situation, I would summon temporary mounts, but I lack the tention to do so safely. Enough transportation for this distance would drain me severely.
>That’s fine, I’ve been camping. Though I’ve never traveled this far on foot before.
I wasn’t really a devoted /fit/izen, but I kept in good enough shape. Wasn’t expecting to ever actually have to go innawoods though. I give a silent thanks to /out/ and /k/ before speaking again.
>So what kind of monsters live in the forest?
>The most we ever encounter nearby are wolves, boar, or the occasional goblin. It is unusual to traverse these woods completely unmolested, however. We should proceed with all due caution.
Before we leave, I decide to make a quick shitpost in a Green Green thread on /b/, fully charging the dagger. Some knights on the walls raise the gate, and we pass under it, starting our trek down the mountain. The knights above wave at us below as we leave. I wave back. Time passes as we hike, and to make it go faster I ask Janice to teach me about the local fauna. When I first woke up, I saw the garden kept in the fortress, and eventually had Duelist lead me to it. The knight tending to the courtyard, now named Gardener, explained as much as he could about the plants but was only versed in their cultivation and arrangement. I assumed Janice could explain their practical use, so I made it our travel topic. She reveals that the garden is a keepsake from her older brother, but she also maintains it for the plants she includes in her experiments. She speaks of the garden in a lonely, reminiscent tone, but doesn’t elaborate further. There must be circumstances with her family. I can relate, though I’ve forgotten the names of mine.
Many of the plants had similar uses to common herbs found on Earth but differed in shape and color. I assume that it’s probable that the scent differs as well. She makes a point of showing me some samples of edible mushrooms and grass as we pass by them. We run out of herbs to identify and eventually the topic turns towards me and Earth. She’s already aware that I’m from a wildly different place, so I’m not too concerned about revealing generic information. However, a dark part of me boils up, my old friend distrust. I briefly consider the possibility that she could use a spell to compel me to disclose information I keep secret or any weaknesses I have. I feel ashamed and push back against the thoughts. It’s alright. I settle for talking about entertainment I enjoy, with a focus on media with different types of magical systems, figuring that she would appreciate hearing about how a world without magic views the arcane. She listens with great interest as I speak, injecting her own thoughts as I describe different concepts of mana, spell formulation, and elemental types found in fiction.
We take several rests throughout the day, but not as many as I expected. I ask, and Janice explains that she makes this same hike every year for her fireworks display. The large detachment of knights escorting the fireworks is too many to summon mounts for, and instead of calling forth beasts of burden, the knights simply pull carts carrying the payload. I recall seeing the aforementioned carts in one of the buildings attached to the courtyard. Eventually, we make camp for the night. Thanks to my knowledge from camping threads on /out/, and some help from Janice, I get my own tent set up with no issue. We gather some kindling and set up a campfire. Opting to help conserve Janice’s tention, I snap, and a tiny flame sprouts out of the end of my pointer finger, like a human gas lighter. I guess you can cast without a verbal component if it’s simple enough and your intention is clear? Eventually, we go to sleep, the tireless knights keeping watch all night.
When we wake up, I check the dagger’s tention. No decay, huh. I’m surprised because I expected the quality of the focus to determine something like expiration. Janice’s horns are apparently pure, so I was pretty sure my weak dagger would lose charge throughout yesterday and last night. Yuminium must be pretty resilient regardless of its purity I guess. Useful. We pack up and begin the hike again. Janice states that we’re about five or six hours from the trading post.
>So in the setting you’re describing, these wizards suffer from a hard limitation on the number of spells they may invoke in a given day, but merely sleeping allows them to do it all over again?
>Yeah, but they also have to decide which spells they want to be available to cast after waking up, and can’t change again without going back to sleep.
>That sounds rather troublesome. You would need exceptional foresight to predict which spells you would need every day.
>The wizards always found a way. In the same books, there are sorcerers, who can freely cast any spell they know, but they have access to a much smaller variety.
Janice sighs as we enter a clearing in the woods.
>My life would be so much easier if I could just dream myself to maximum tention every night.
>Unfortunately the very same spellcasters can’t just cast any spell they can imagine, and can o-
>We have company! In the front!
Duelist brandishes his weapons as he calls out. Joker and Juggler immediately adopt a battle ready stance, and I start looking around in a panic. Janice scans the clearing as well. Five… no, six figures exit the cover of the forest, two of them dashing out. Before I know it a wolf lunges at Duelist and another at Joker. Duelist blocks with his off-handed dagger, and the wolf bites down on it. Joker receives the other wolf with his shield. I hear a whistling, followed by a *thunk* nearby. I jump back, startled. An arrow is embedded in the dirt.
The source is a warty, small, green creature at the edge of the trees holding a makeshift bow. Is that a Goblin!? He’s accompanied by two other similar figures and what looks like an animated wolf’s skeleton. IS THAT A SKELETON?! One of the shapes carrying what looks like a plank shield moves towards Juggler. Juggler throws a knife at the approaching figure, but it’s blocked. It’s another goblin, and it laughs behind its shield as it comes closer. The final goblin reveals itself and raises two wooden clubs to the air, one of which has a crude red stone as a head… and begins drumming the ribcage of the skeleton wolf like a xylophone. Janice calls out.
>A skald?!? Here?!?
She immediately starts the motions of the spell she showed me in the training hall, chanting while she winds up her cast. At the same time, the goblin’s short song finishes, and he yells out. I somehow understand him perfectly.
>Embiggify, making huge. Mean, giant and nasty too!
>A blooming flower acts as a shameless thief that pilfers the night of darkness itself: Peony!
The small fireball shoots out and makes contact with the skeleton, exploding it and sending its bones flying out, piercing the goblin musician. He falls over. Another arrow flies by me. I break free from my daze and take aim at the archer. Clumsily, I aim my finger gun and shout out my spell as quickly as I can.
>Arbitrary Code Execution: Attack Vector!
The root of a tree near the marksman comes to life, and swipes at the goblin, tripping him. THAT’S ALL?! Meanwhile, it looked like Duelist has already defeated his adversary and moved to back up Joker. Astonishingly, the wolf Joker is keeping at bay with his shield is now twice as large as it was before. The shield goblin has already discarded his shield, now riddled with knives, and is grappling with Juggler. Janice calls out to me.
I turn around, and two additional goblins are charging at us. The one on the left quickly throws something, and I feel a burning pain enter my right leg. A knife. I go down on one knee. Janice goes through the same fluid motions but shortens her incantation and fires at the goblins.
One of them bursts into flames as the firework spell strikes him. The other rapidly approaches me with a dagger raised. FUCK. I panic and make up some bullshit before screaming it at him.
>POWER WORD: KILL
I feel every last ounce of tention in my weapon empty in an instant. The goblin freezes in its tracks as if a video was paused… then continues striding towards me. FUCK! Just as it swings down, a throwing knife slices through the air by my ear and impales the attacker in the skull. Stunned, relief washes over me, but only for a moment. A solid *thunk* sounds out. Something has entered my back, and a searing sensation spreads throughout my body. I collapse on the ground.
Someone shouts, then I black out.