Home > City of the Dead (The Alchemist Book #1) : LitRPG Series(7)

City of the Dead (The Alchemist Book #1) : LitRPG Series(7)
Author: Vasily Mahanenko


Time after time, the boy headed up the rope. Time after time, he got no further than halfway. Once, he fell and just about broke his neck as he slipped down the incline. He burst into tears when he got to the bottom. It was all in vain—there was no way he was getting out. In a week, he was going to die from hunger, and nobody would ever hear about his achievement.


“Anyone alive down there?” A threatening shout broke through the boy’s sobs. The voice was unfamiliar, though Tailyn was too scared to think straight. All he cared about was getting out of the hole he was stuck in.


“Y-yes!” he called back. “It’s me, Tailyn Vlashich. I’m stuck. Can you help?”


“Are you alone?”


“Yes… I mean, I am now,” the boy replied with a glance at the body.


“Do you know him?” the stranger asked someone off to the side.


“Yes, it’s a kid the elder looks after. He brings the herbalist flowers.”


Tailyn’s heart skipped a beat—he knew that voice. It was the head of the guard, Master Motar. He was a good guy who’d given the boy some treats a few times.


“It’s me, Master Guard!” Tailyn yelled as loud as he could. “I can’t climb up the rope. Please help!”


“How did you get down there?”


“I was running away. I happened to see this stranger kill Dort, and then he came after me. But the god was kind and punished the killer.”


All the sounds coming from up above suddenly stopped.


“The god punished the killer?” asked the surprised voice. “Wait right there—I’m coming down. I need to see this.”


Tailyn expected someone to come sliding down the rope, which meant he nearly jumped out of his skin in fright when he saw how the stranger actually descended. He was flying. Literally. The hole was flooded with a bright blue glow coming from a pair of highly unusual boots. Chills ran down the boy’s spine—he’d never seen anything like that. Soon, a body was visible through the light, and that was when Tailyn turned into a statue. The boy knew exactly who was allowed to wear snow-white mantles in the empire. He was looking at an actual mage from the academy itself. A mage. In Culmart.


After casting an appraising glance over Tailyn, the mage pulled out a small card, held it up to his face, whispered something, and then blew as if to clear the dust off. The only difference was that a yellow mist came off it to fill the cave instead. Suddenly, it was as bright as day, and the niche Tailyn had been hiding in began to glow.


The mage started with the body. Waving a hand over it, he turned to Tailyn.


“I want to know everything that happened here. I need your logs.”




“Worthless…” the mage muttered under his breath before continuing in his usual voice. “Do you know how to copy your logs?”


“N-no, Master,” the scared boy replied. “What-t are they?”


“How old are you?”


“T-ten, Master.”


“And you still don’t know what logs are? What kind of nonsense is that?! Who taught you?” The mage’s expression was tinged with a threat, and Tailyn shrank back.


“Nob-body, Master,” he whispered almost inaudibly.


“Ridiculous… Tell me everything you did from the moment you left the city. Clearly and with every last detail.”


“Okay-y, Master,” Tailyn squeaked before beginning his story. He’d never been that scared. The rumors that swirled around mages were so contradictory that he forgot to breathe, doing his best to spit out his adventures as fast as he could.


“Wait! You have herbalism? How did you find the flowers?”


“Using these pictures.” Tailyn pulled the three sketches out of his boot—a loach, a lavender, and a daisy, all ordinary. From what Mistress Valanil said, they were the only plants that grew in the vicinity.


“Just pictures?” the mage asked, surprise creeping back into his voice. “And you were able to use them to find something?”


“Yes, Master,” Tailyn replied just a bit more confidently. “I picked thirty-two loaches today.”


“Using pictures? Thirty-two flowers?” The mage laughed. “You can’t pick flowers without the skill, you idiot! What you picked looked like the real thing, but it’s just trash. Okay, keep going.”


The mage tossed the pictures to the side before turning back to the body. He’d lost interest.


“But…” The boy just about burst into tears. Those sketches were the only valuables he owned, and he couldn’t let anyone treat Mistress Valanil’s work like that. Deciding to prove to the mage how wrong he was, Tailyn pulled up his inventory and began materializing all the flowers. It was time for the truth to come out.


“I’m waiting,” the angry voice shot back. “You got to the city and…”


The mage stopped short, his gaze fixed on the bouquet. Tailyn, in turn, was bewitched by the materialization process even if it was old hat for the mage.


“This is getting interesting,” the latter whispered. The boy had pulled a surprise out of his sleeve: a virtual inventory and real, honest-to-goodness loaches. Where had the little ruffian come up with them?


“See?” Tailyn held his prize out to the mage and continued, his firm voice surprising even himself. “They’re not trash! The god says they’re real flowers.”


“No, you’re right, they’re not trash,” the mage said calmly. Suddenly, he remembered why he was there—he was an investigator, and his job was to figure out what had happened to the city elder’s son. And it sure looked like that Tailyn knew something. The kid needed to talk. The mage’s true word card had just three charges left, but if there was ever a time to use it, it was right then. The ignorant child was just babbling. And since he couldn’t string together a coherent sentence, Forian was losing time trying to understand him.


Tailyn’s surprise knew no bounds when a small card appeared in the mage’s hands. The process was the same as the one he’d just discovered, only much faster, and the mage once again held the card to his lips, whispered something, and blew on it. Only that time, he blew in Tailyn’s direction. A strange golden glow enveloped the boy, who suddenly realized he no longer feared anything. Not the mage, not the unusual tricks the mage was pulling, not even Master Isor, who was going to take out on him his rage at the loss of his son—none of it. The terror subsided, giving place to peace and…something else. Understanding?


“I need your logs from the moment you set foot in the city until you heard my voice,” the mage said. Oddly enough, Tailyn understood what he was asking for.

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