The next morning, Lucan and Silent arrived at the edge of the Forest of the Lost. The forest contained a number of different creatures, the apex predators were the ogres. Massive and strong monsters that can be up to 20 feet tall, able to smash a tree in half with a punch.
Lucan and Silent together were no match for ogres. Thankfully they were slow moving and rather dull. When they encountered one, they were able to escape without too much difficulty. With the help of Adrestia and Little brown, Lucan and Silent were able to go from monster to monster with little delay while avoiding anything that could be potentially life threatening.
2 days had passed since they started hunting in the forest. Lucan and Silent were making camp for the night. "How about tonight?" Silent asked.
"Sure, the squires finally made some purchases so I can do the same."
Silent clapped her hands together and started setting up the fire. "Okay, let's see it."
"Okay, the practice of using formations is to properly structure smaller parts to create a larger whole. I am going to make use of 4 mana crystal wand cores as a base for this formation." Lucan set a small clear mana crystal in each of the cardinal directions surrounding the campsite. "Then I start weaving in smaller spells to form the whole." Lucan took out two wands and started casting shadow magic on each of the crystals. When his shadow mana ran dry, he used mental magic. Lucan went back and forth between the two while laying spells like bricks. Building the wall higher as he went. After 5 minutes Lucan's was satisfied and poured his full bar of pure mana into the formation to keep it powered.
A dome had taken form around there campsite. "I have shadow magic to muffle any noise we make while also making the dome look empty from outside. If someone of something get's close to the outside there is mental charm that will make it hard to remember why the came over here. It will only work on the unsuspecting though, if someone were in combat or focused on searching it wouldn't change their mind set. Once I get stronger magic I can add in physical barriers and other effects."
"It seems like a good skill to have." Silent said while slicing some of the rabbit she caught today, preparing to skewer it over the fire.
"When you get a minute, let's do another shadow mana infusion." That night after dinner, Lucan attempted to send more shadow mana into her abdomen. Silent had grown accustomed to the pain and no longer showed any sign of distress. Lucan though she might even be enjoying it now.
"This is amazing." Silent said. "My shadow mana core increased by 4% tonight. That is huge."
"Hmm, I did notice that my shadow mana was regenerating a bit faster. Maybe there is something about this forest that makes shadow magic more effective.
Lucan and Silent spent the next 6 weeks in the forest. They had been slowly working their way further inwards where the creatures were higher level. Lucan was level 47 while Silent Night had risen to 83. Their gear was in scarps and their supplies and potions were almost gone. A few weeks ago, they stumbled across one of Shadowsweep's hunting parties and were able to trade for supplies to extend their stay but now they were out of nearly everything.
"Let's head back tomorrow, we still have no hope against the ogres. I want to visit Avalon get some more supplies."
"We have to come back soon." Silent said. "The speed of creating my mana core here is just too great."
"Yes, the speed of the mana core is why you want to come back so quickly."
Silent's cheeks turned red. "What are you talking about?"
"Nothing, just mumbling to myself." Lucan had learned to stop when he was ahead. "Do you want to do another infusion tonight?"
"Mmm, yes, give me a minute to set up my tent." Said Silent Night who started to move with lightning fast speed.
When she was done, she sat outside her tent and waited for Lucan. When he was done reading, he came over and pressed his wand into her stomach. Silent closed her eyes tightly and used a hand to cover her face. Her other hand grabbed Lucan's wrist that held his wand, but she didn't want him to stop. Lucan kept channeling Shadow mana while Silent Night was compressing a mana core. As Lucan was close to finishing, she started to tremble, and her grip tightened. When he was finished, Silent was gasping and out of breath after letting out a soft moan.
"I will see you in the morning." Lucan said, leaving Silent to collect herself. The rogue quickly went into her tent and wasn't seen again till morning.
Lucan and Silent exited the Tunnel of Shadows and walked out the cave entrance, seeing Avalon in the distance. They walked around to several businesses and began to restock their supplies. Lucan sold off his level 25 equipment and bought better replacements. The tax from Shadowsweep helped keep him geared in decent armor.
After talking about it with Silent Night, Lucan decided to save his Guild contribution points until he could buy a couple pieces of gear with a set bonus. They had better resale value and were also better pieces of gear. He could use a set of three, and afterwards he would sell it back to the guild for contribution points. That plus the points from other contracts would hopefully be enough to get him 5 pieces with a set bonus at a higher level. He would wear that and continue to do contracts until he could afford to sell it back and upgrade to a set bonus with 8 pieces of equipment.
It made more sense than buying gear as soon as he could. This would give him better defense and value over the long run.
Lucan was leaving the wand shop after restocking his supplies. "Do you need to go anywhere else or are we off the Guild?" Silent asked.
"We still have one more shop."
"Oh, what do you need to get."
Lucna ignored her question and walked into a fletcher. "I need recipes, tools and supplies to extend my woodworking skills into making bows and arrows." Lucan said after walking up to the counter.
"Right away." The young man said while moving to the back to gather the basic started kit.
"Ha, ha, you're the best." Silent said, hugging him really quick before feeling embarrassed and backing away.
"Don't get your hopes up, I doubt I will be able to make anything good for the time being. I will have to raise my skill level before I can make anything good."
Silent wasn't paying attention and was lost in her fantasy of conquering a dungeon while having unlimited arrows.
When the supplies had been gathered, Lucan paid the man behind the counter and the two headed for the transfer point.
Lucan and Silent entered the main hall of the Assassin's Guild.
"Candyman, Longshot, I haven't seen you guys in a while." Bloodfist called over from the table he was seated at.
"Been busy grinding levels. How have you been?" Lucan asked the group of 3 that were halfway through their drinks.
"We have only completed a handful of contracts in the past month, but they were all worth our time." Bloodfist said. "Any chance you are picking up a contract today?"
"Probably not. Silent wants to get back to the Shadow realm, we only came here because she told me about the 'Return Scrolls' in the store.
"Ah, yes, those can be very handy and save you a lot of time and hassle. Well if you need help with anything, even something that isn't contract work, let us know."
Lucan nodded and smiled as he went to get in line.
He collected his portion of the payout from his first contract and bought a few return scrolls. As he was about to leave the Guild, he received a notification.
[Raze has requested the presence of his 'Hands' to bear witness. Direct warlock 'Hellfire' has challenged 'Duke of Flames' for his position as 'Hand of Raze'. The challenge will commence in 48 hours. Attendance is optional. Raze has requested that his 'Hands' limit the guests they bring to 5 or less.]
Lucan stopped. "Oh wow!" He said turning to Silent. "Someone has challenged on of the other Hands for their position. Raze said we can watch if you want to go."
"It will probably be a good opportunity." Silent said walking up the steps with Lucan. "But I would enjoy returning to the forest as well, so you decided."
A player jumped over the counter and started to sprint towards Lucan with a notebook and a pencil in hand. He came over out of breath. "Did you... say that… Raze might be getting a new Hand?"
"Who are you?" Lucan asked.
"The name is SuperSleuth. I am not a part of the Guild, but I am the information broker and a reporter in real life. I couldn't help but overhear, and something like this would be a great article that could pay my rent for another month."
"So, you want a free meal?" Lucan asked.
"Ah, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking. There is no such thing as free lunch. I can pay you for solid information."
"Coins can be found anywhere and lose value as players level. What else can you offer?"
'What? Well, err... I have information about lots of things. I have 10 people working for me full time, they buy and sell information all across the continent. If you are ever looking for something, I could probably help you find it."
"Oh wow, that's impressive." Lucan said, putting his arm around SuperSleuth's shoulder and walking back down the stairs. "Sounds like you have an impressive network starting to form."
"It took a lot of effort, but the results are better each day."
Lucan took a seat at a table with SuperSleuth. "What do you think about becoming an acolyte of mine? Spend 100,000 experience today and I will let you come with me to witness Hellfire challenging the Duke of flames."
"What?! Hellfire is trying to advance to 'Hand', this is huge. Experience can be earned back. Stumbling on a moment like this is pure chance. You got yourself a deal." Super reached out and grabbed Lucan's hand while the warlock activated pact magic.
"The challenge is in 48 hours. We have to go to the Shadow realm, from there, Raze will provide transportation."
"Okay, can you give me an hour to logout and inform my editor?"