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4 Lumia

Helial felt excruciating pain ripple through his body. He slowly opened his eyes and looked at the notification window in front of him.

Name: Curse of the Demon

Type: Longsword

Consumption ???/???

Level:1

Damage:1-1

Effect: Strength x0.05

???

Great, a Malus such as this could only be caused by an extremely powerful Curse. No one will be able to get it off in the city, I will have to ask the Master if he knows something about it, thought Helial, trying to sensibly analyze the matter. He took a deep breath, full of repressed anger.

"If that prick came all the way down here, it means that the frontiers are about to give in. We have to get away from the village and go to the city…" Helial tried to stand up, but a shooting pain in the ribs forced him to sit down again. He spat a lump of blood and repeatedly cursed his brother.

"You are too big a coward to kill me with your own hands, you bastard. The responsibilities…" he growled. He didn't know how long he had lain there unconscious, but judging from the lighter color of the sky, it had been maybe three or four hours. It was almost dawn.

Skill Activated:

Mana Reflowing

The Mana power flows through your body and heals minor wounds.

Cost: 20 Mana/Sec

He employed this skill for a couple of hours before being able to stand up again.

Your Skill levelled up!

Mana Reflowing

Lv 6

The Mana power flows through your body and heals minor wounds.

The Mana power purifies the body.

Detox power: 2%

Cost: 30 Mana/Sec

"This damn Skill reflows only with wounds, what the fuck am I supposed to do? Stab myself to death so it upgrades to the highest level?" complained Helial.

(A/N: I would like to add a brief technical explanation on how the skill works and what changes during the reflowing, but because of plot constraints I will do that later on. For now, just remember that Reflowing = healing; reflowing to the Soul = absorption and strengthening.)

He started to stand up slowly. His Meridians were not in perfect conditions, but luckily there was no permanent damage. He began to walk slowly and at the same time he activated the Mana Reflowing Skill.

The sun was already high in the sky. He could see a column of smoke winding over the treetops in the distance. The Goblins had arrived. They were a Mountain people, very jealous of their land and they had never accepted the fact that men had taken over their territory.

Helial set off for the village.

You have a Mission

Goblin Invasion

Grade: D

The Goblins waged a counterattack against the Kakos Dynasty, all frontier territories have been hit heavily. No army has been sent to protect the fringes of the Nation.

You have to escape the bloodthirsty Goblins and take refuge as soon as possible!

Goal: you have 12 hours to flee your village and get to the safety of the city walls.

Reward: 50.000 Exp, Traveler's Shoes

"Damn it", was the only reaction of Helial, after seeing the notification window.

He walked faster. They had to leave right away. The Goblins in that horde were from level 20, the foot soldiers, to 140-190 in the worst case scenario. In his present conditions, Helial didn't have the luxury to engage in any fight.

Suddenly he was struck by doubts. He kept an eye on his physicals. After ten minutes he sighed in relief. "Good, it didn't damage either the Vigor or the Mana and its control", he whispered. If the Curse had messed with those Stats as well, Helial would have been basically a cripple. The present situation though, was still far from perfect, since Helial had never learned any Fighting Skills.

Master Vidio had always wanted to wait for him to first grasp the basics and, to be honest, Helial had never let the Master see what he was really capable of. He didn't fully trust even the Master. Probably, if he had shown him what he could really do, the Master would have taught him the basic Fighting Skills long ago.

Unfortunately, Master Vidio, always immersed in his world of women, had never really considered the possibility of a Goblin attack and so had never deemed necessary to impart Fighting Skills to Helial.

At last, the thatched cottages started to appear before Helial. Most of the buildings were in bad conditions, a sign that life there was not too prosperous. That area was not suited to growing wheat and vegetables and people tried to get by as best as they could. Helial earned some money working as assistant for some artisans, he ran errands and cleaned the small tavern of the village.

So, he had learned several Skills, such as Cooking, Fishing, Snares and Agriculture, along with some Construction Skills.

When he got to the outer streets, he saw that everyone was in a flurry. The women were stuffing bags full of clothes. The craftsmen were picking the best tools to run away with. Children were crying, while their fathers were loading the carts with everything they could salvage.

The child of one of the well-off families in the village was crying because his wooden pony was missing. "Mommy, daddy, we left the pony behind!" he kept repeating over and over. His face was streaked with tears. His parents were busy gathering the few jewels they owned and were not paying him much attention. The mother kept obsessively checking to have brought all her best clothes – she could not risk to look bad in front of all those city women. She checked again for the last time then slapped the kid, who did not seem to want to stop crying any time soon. Meanwhile, the father was loading all his working registers on the cart. He was a merchant and, while living in a small village, he traveled often, making enough money to be considered the richest man in town.

Crack!

Trying to carry away as many thing as possible, the family had clearly overloaded the husband's cart that had now snapped in two.

Swearing, screaming, crying: you could hear the whole lot.

Just a little further on, another family had prepared three different-sized bundles: one for the father, one for the mother and one for the son. The kid's face was dirty and his clothes messy. "Daddy, daddy are the Goblins really that awful?" asked naively the child, who had never seen anything of the world, besides the tiny village.

"Haha, son, they're horrible! With giant horns and fiery eyes!" answered him, teasing the child's imagination. Actually, he had never seen a Goblin in his life.

"Dad, dad can we stay and see a Goblin?" asked the kid, with eyes that sparkled.

"We can't. We have to go to the city and find a job so we won't starve. Is your bundle too heavy?" asked the father, then without giving the child time to answer he added: "Haha, I don't think so, we don't own anything but that hut of mud and sand. Come on, maybe we will manage to build a brick house this time!"

"Shut up, silly. We need to send the boy to a Master, not build a brick house!" retorted the wife, smiling slightly. The husband nodded and after grabbing wife and son by the hand, he headed towards the city, as though they were going on a nice trip.

***

Helial approached his own house. It was a building of rough, ill-cut bricks. It was slanting on one side and it was quite small.

Helial rushed in, so quickly that he almost unhinged the battered wooden door. He glanced round the room. The bed, if so it could be called, was a sack filled with straw and next to it there was a table with two wooden bowls. Beside the table, there were a big barrel for water and some basic tools.

There were no valuable things in that house. A few clothes, of two distinct sizes and fashion could be seen in a chest of drawers left open. Some were girl clothes, and even though it was hard to tell from the worn out fabric, they used to look pretty and girly, while now they just looked like a faded memory. The rest were wrinkled and battered man clothes.

Helial had no valuable things to take along, he was already carrying all that he needed, including the water jugs.

"Shit, SHIT!" he screamed.

He rushed out of the door, ignoring the risk of reopening his wounds.

He walked to the neighbors, who were bustling and getting ready to leave the village.

They had all gotten the news of the Goblins arrival a couple of days before and judging from the smoke in the distance, they expected them to come within half a day.

"Hey, have you seen my sister?" asked Helial out of breath.

"Boy, don't you see that we're all in danger? If we don't hurry, we will all die", replied heedlessly the neighbor. His apparently calm movements hid a deep anxiety.

"Please help me, I can't find my sister" begged Helial. His sister not being home had clearly shocked him.

"Listen, we're busy I tell you", said the neighbor impatiently, "but I think I saw her running towards the woods behind the mountain. She's crazy to run off in the forest at a moment like this".

Shit, she went to look for me. SHIT! Helial straightened his back under the indifferent gaze of the neighbor. He closed his eyes.

Skill Activated:

Perception

Having activated the Skill, he started running at breakneck speed towards the woods. He didn't care if the wounds would reopen. He was reflowing all the Mana he had to contrast the debilitating effect of the wounds and the blood loss.

His sister had gone looking for him, probably because she got worried when he had spent the night outside. He normally always got back before daybreak or, if not, he always warned her beforehand. Besides, with all the chaos in the village, she must have panicked.

Helial kept running and took a deep breath, then he screamed at the top of his lungs: "LUMIA!"
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