Chapter 282
After acquiring a recipe book and a hefty pile of ingredients from Gail, Mike continued with the rest of his shopping trip . He made sure to pick up an ample amount of food, water, and daily consumable items, since he could now simply store them in the demi-realm . To add to that, he also purchased several ingots of simple iron . While he could probably make the required materials using Earth Magic, he figured that it would be better to learn the basics from natural ingredients before getting into anything too obscure .

He stopped by the Adventurer's Guild while he was in the area, and left a message for the Broker, since he would like to have one last meeting with the shady organization before starting his travels . If they were as powerful as their resources indicated, then it was possible they had branches in the Riverlands . Getting an introduction would go a long way to ensuring continued access to rare items, books, and, more importantly, information .

While he was there, he visited the Guild���s armor shop and picked up another suit of alchemically treated leather armor . Despite some minor differences in the manner of its construction, the armor was pretty much the same as the last few suits he'd worn in the past . He doubted that it would withstand anything that was capable of harming him now that his attributes were so high, but he figured that might change once he'd learned to use it properly .

[This doesn't look overly difficult to make, at least for people with Leatherworking and the right materials . I guess I can use it as a reference for my crafting while at the same time attempting to learn the Light Armor skill . ]

With that thought in mind, he also swung by a couple specialized stores to look for more tools . He wasn't sure what all was involved in leatherworking, but he assumed it wasn't too different from sewing . However, he quickly learned that he was naive .

Much like smithing, it seemed that working with leather required a wide array of specialized items to do it at a professional level . This was even more true when working with rare or particularly durable materials . Apparently, some of the monster hides he was planning on using were considered to be expert level in terms of difficulty . If he wanted to tan them himself, he would need even more gear to properly create even the basic ingredients .

[I don't want to put together an actual tannery in the demi-realm, though . From what I recall, they smell pretty bad, and I don't think there is any kind of ventilation . Now that I think about it, I will probably need to figure that out for the smithing part too . I would hate to end up suffocating the others because the forge used all the available oxygen . ]

Finally, while he was still hesitating about what route to take with leatherworking, the shopkeeper suggested that he might want to consider looking into tailoring as a possible option . Cloth armor wasn't exactly the best means of protecting oneself, but anyone could acquire the skill to use it effectively, making it rather popular with the more rearguard focused adventurers . Additionally, it was still possible to add magical effects to them through Artifice .

Processing the raw materials was a bit more difficult, so most tailors simply purchased manufactured cloth to work with . Since it looked like Mike was having a hard time deciding whether or not to invest fully in working in leather goods, the shopkeeper thought it might be worthwhile to consider an alternative path that required a small initial investment in time and money, in exchange for having a lower overall return .

[He seems to think that I'm trying to pick out a career or something . Well, whatever . Cloth armor may not actually be a bad idea for some of the others . ]

So, while he was at it, he bought a beginners set of tailoring equipment and a fair amount of basic linen cloth to practice with . He then spent some time browsing through the other wares offered in the Mercantile district, but didn't find anything that really struck his interest . Unfortunately, almost half of the shops were still closed with their owners either dead or missing . In hindsight it was slightly regrettable that he had to be leaving soon, since he could only imagine getting excellent prices for most of their goods once things got up and going again .

Once he'd satisfied his curiosity, he grabbed a bite to eat at one of the food stalls that were starting to crop up again and headed back to the dorm . There was still a few hours until the doorknob could be used again, so he figured he'd check in on the others and then try to acquire the Tailoring skill .

Sera was still out, but a quick mental message to Selene confirmed that the Oracle was just down at the practice range, working on her new bow . She must have decided to gain some degree of proficiency over the weapon prior to leaving for the Riverlands . It was admirable, but Mike was a little concerned that she might be trying a bit too hard .

[I don't know much about archery, but maybe there is something I can do . Making some items is a given, but there should be something else…]

His thoughts were interrupted when Tal walked back into the room carrying a massive bag . He was going to ask her about it, when he caught a whiff of the extremely pungent contents that told him everything he needed to know .

"Uff . I'm guessing that's our fertilizer, right? Why are you bringing it in here?" Mike asked while covering his nose .

"This is only the first bag," She shot back while setting it down on the floor, before turning to head back the way she came . "We'll need to unload the rest . "

"First? How many…" Mike started asking as he followed her outside, only to see a wagon filled nearly to the bursting point with stacks of the same kind of bag . "I have to ask, was it your intention to bring all of these inside?"

Tal nodded, while grabbing the next one . "Had to rent the wagon, so I'll need to unload them in order to return it . "

"Yeah, I don't think the rest of our dorm mates are going to appreciate us bringing in this amount of . . . fertilizer . "


"Well, the smell is a big part of it . "

A brief shadow of a frown appeared on her face, as if she just now considered the possibility of her actions bothering someone . "I see . I suppose that would cause some difficulty . To be quite honest, I had forgotten all about it . "

Mike gave a sympathetic smile . "Well, going noseblind isn't exactly an uncommon situation . Why don't we stack them up over by the side of the dorm, so that we can take them into the demi-realm once I can activate the doorknob again . "

"Blind-nosed? An odd way of describing it . " Tal commented while resuming her work .

He followed suit and started lending a hand . "Ah, sorry, that's kind of a saying from my old world . I guess the meaning didn't fully translate . It happens sometimes, unfortunately . "

"We never did have a conversation about your linguistic abilities . Perhaps you'd be willing to explain now?"

"Alright, fair enough . "

After scanning their surroundings to ensure there weren't any eavesdroppers, he related the description of Communication Magic to her and gave a brief overview of its various effects while they were still offloading the fertilizer . At one point, however, Tal stopped and concentrated fully on listening to him .

Once he was done, the elf was silent for a few moments, her face more unreadable than normal . Finally, she asked . "Can you really talk to plants?"

He snorted, "I can, although there isn't too much benefit to it . I'm not sure if you noticed, but most plants aren't particularly bright . For instance, the grass we are standing on now is a little upset about being moderately crushed, and very confused about the sudden arrival of the darkness caused by our shadow . Even if I try explaining it to them, they lack the capacity to do more than yell their basic thoughts . More complex plants like trees are a little better, but they tend to be overly focused on the conditions of their environment . You know, the quality of the soil, access to water and sunlight, temperature and weather . That sort of thing . Trying to get them to talk about anything else is a massive pain . "

Tal sighed and looked slightly depressed . "Is that all you have to say about it?"

"More or less . I'm sure there are some more intelligent conversation partners out there somewhere, but I've yet to run into them . Why, did I say something wrong?"

"No . . . it's just that the Sun Elves have spent a very long time trying to develop a method of communicating with plants as part of their efforts to better understand nature . While there have been some successes when it came to animals and even insects, they never were able to breach the gap when it came to plantlife . "

"That's unfortunate . . . I guess . Why do they even want to talk to plants? I can tell you from personal experience that they don't have much to say . "

"It's complicated…" Even with her facial expression remaining the same, Mike could tell that the elf was embarrassed by the shift in her body posture . Figuring that she was having a hard time explaining, he waited until she resumed . "You are aware of my kind's beliefs regarding spirits, yes?"

He nodded .

"Well, there are many among the Sun Elves that feel that because plants are able to exist without the need to devour other lives, they must be something along the lines of an incarnation of minor spiritual entities . In other words, semi-divine beings . It is their hope that by mastering the ability to communicate with them, they can expand their understanding of the natural world . . . While I no longer share those beliefs, it is still shocking to hear that they are so incredibly wrong . "

[A Biochemistry class would be a big shock to them, from the sounds of it . ]

At a slight loss for words, Mike glanced over at a nearby tree . It was a large and majestically sprawling oak that dominated much of the dorm's surroundings . He concentrated briefly on his Communication Magic and listened . While it wasn't exactly using words in the traditional sense, his skill managed to translate the hidden meaning of its thoughts, for lack of a better description .

"HEY! HEY! LOOK! I'VE GOT SQUIRRELS! THEY'RE IN MY BRANCHES! HEY!" It was yelling to its closest neighbor, a maple on the other side of the courtyard which didn't seem to be paying it any attention, judging from its own monologue .

"Wind, wind, wind, sun, wind, water, wind . It's breezy~ . " Mike couldn't tell if it was supposed to be a poem or a song, since the tree delivered it in a monotone, but either case would be equally depressing .

Looking back at Tal, he shrugged . "I don't know what to tell you . The trees of your homeland might be different, but I can safely say that the ones around here are not worth talking to . "

She nodded . "Then perhaps it is for the best that they haven't succeeded in mastering that form of communication yet . I cannot imagine the kind of trauma such a discovery might cause those with deeply held religious convictions . "

There was a hint of a mocking smile on her face before she continued . "In any event, shall we finish unloading? I need to return this wagon soon or risk incurring an additional charge . "

"Fair enough . " He shot back while grabbing a few more bags . Despite the fact that they likely weighed close to twenty kilograms, he was able to lift two at a time without any difficulty . He could probably do more than that, but then it became a matter of trying to balance the load, so he refrained .

"By the way, you mentioned something about offering advice after consulting you about my skill . Did anything occur to you while you were listening?" He asked once they were close to finishing .

"Truthfully, the nature of your skill eludes me . On the surface, it doesn't appear to be all that powerful . While communicating with everyone you come across can be handy, and the ability to persuade and even harm others with words is very useful, that is really only secondary to what I feel is the eventual destination of this path . "

" . . . You're talking about that bit about the Words of Creation mentioned in the skill's text, right?"

"Indeed . Though I have never heard of them before, it is believed that the System is managed using a kind of language . There are some that suspect learning to use that language would allow you to control reality itself, assuming the gods didn't prevent you from doing so . If your skill is capable of increasing in tier, it is entirely possible that you might end up with something approaching god-like abilities . "

Mike thought about it for a moment before replying . "Which might cause some problems with the gods themselves . They don't seem to be particularly worried about people following the right way to power, but they'd probably be a bit upset if someone cheated their way there by hijacking the System . "

"Since the power would originate from the System, they may not be able to prevent you from using it, but I imagine it would make you a target of their hostility . I would recommend that, should you ever increase it's tier, you be very careful on how you make use of the resulting abilities . "

He nodded . "A good suggestion . Anyway, I believe you mentioned needing to return a wagon?"

"Ah . Yes, I should be going . I will speak with you soon . " She replied before hastily clambouring back into the driver's seat and directing the horses pulling it back towards the University Gate .

[Now let's see if I can find a place to start working-]

Mike's thoughts were interrupted by the muffled sound of an explosion from the dorm . After determining its point of origin with Aerosense, he sighed . Had it been any other source, he might have been worried, but this . . .

[I guess I'll go check on Lily . Hopefully, she hasn't set fire to the building again . ]