Episode 23 - Acupuncture

In the previous Episode:

Kiel realizes his mana tolerance is not as high as he would like it to be, preventing him from getting a perfect score on the entrance exams. He is momentarily discouraged before he remembers all his hard work and is determined to work even harder. To increase his mana tolerance, he would need to temper his body with mana. This process would be faster if he had some healing elixirs or pills.

Episode 23 – Acupuncture

Kiel didn’t have any healing elixirs on him – needed to visit an elixir and pill shop. He opened his eyes and looked at the blood red sunset. Would they be able to make it to a shop before the closing time?

He got up quickly. When he noticed the drenched state of his clothes, he used a temperature manipulation spell to heat them up until they were completely dry. That didn’t make him clean, though. The smell of sweat made him scrunch up his nose. He couldn’t go to the city like this.

He needed a cleansing spell.

He looked over at Elaru, thinking about how to ask her for a cleansing. He noticed she was looking at him too.

Kiel decided to explain his thoughts about buying some healing medicine first, and then nonchalantly mention a cleansing. Yes, that way he’d retain his pride.

Before he could fully explain his intentions of getting some healing medicine, Elaru interrupted him.

“Healing the damage caused by going over mana tolerance isn’t as simple as healing other types of damage. Since your cells were damaged by mana, you need to heal them with a medicine that has natural, gentle healing properties. If you use a medicine that relies on magic to heal then the density of mana inside the medicine would cause further damage to your body which was already damaged by mana. It would be like trying to heal burns with a hot ointment. You need a medicine refined from something with innate healing properties or specialized pills used to temper the body with mana.”

Kiel wasn’t familiar with healing and medicine, but what she said made perfect sense. She seemed to know what she was talking about. He stroked chin and then nodded. “Then I’ll get that.”

Elaru smirked. “Can you even afford something like that?” Kiel froze.

He was a noble, he had plenty of money, right?

Not quite.

His family was rich – not him. The bastards never sent him any pocket money. And even if they did, he wouldn’t have accepted it. He wasn’t on good terms with the rest of his family and he wanted nothing from them. Anything that they might give him would either be filled with obligations or mockery. He would be selling himself or catching a few coins like a beggar.

He wanted nothing to do with it.

Thus, the money in his pockets were earned through his own hard work, however the amount of it was rather modest. It was very likely that he didn’t have enough to buy such medicine.

Seeing his frozen expression, Elaru’s eyes glittered excitedly. “If you can’t buy the medicine then we have to work with what we have.”

She continued talking telepathically. “When we activated Aetherneal bond initially, the spell burrowed inside us, into every cell. It slowly destroyed our cells and replaced them with new ones. This process of damaging and healing is very similar to mana tempering. It took us only a few hours to recover from the process that would have taken days or even weeks for anyone else.”

Kiel’s eyes widened, and his voice quivered slightly. “What you are saying is…”

Elaru smiled and nodded. “Correct. Aetherneal bond increased our cell regeneration speed. It is very likely that your body would be able to heal quickly enough even without the medicine. I could even help further increase your natural healing rate by acupuncture.”

Kiel stared at her emotionlessly. He had no idea what emotion he was supposed to be showing right now. He had long gotten used to Elaru knowing a bit of everything. “You know acupuncture?” Kiel raised his eyebrow. “Is there anything you don’t know?”

Elaru smirked and spoke in a self-satisfied fashion. “What can I say? I know a bit about everything, some things more than others. The more useful I find something, the more I study it. Knowing where to insert needless happens to be very useful in my line of work.”

Kiel’s scalp turned numb. “What line of work are you talking about?” Something told him she wasn’t talking about the art of healing.

Elaru waved her hand dismissingly. “My point is, just go ahead and go over your mana tolerance threshold. By morning, you’ll be fine.”

Kiel furrowed his eyebrows in thought.

“Our increased healing rate could have been an aftereffect of activating Aetherneal bond. It could have dropped back to normal now. And how do you know that the cells in our body got replaced? I thought you said you don’t know much about Aetherneal bond.”

Elaru smirked mischievously. “I know you felt it as well. Our cells being replaced. The body completely changing from inside out. Didn’t you notice how fast we recovered from the distance experiment we did this morning? Did you really think that mana deficiency didn’t cause any damage to our bodies?”

That’s right! Kiel remembered how his body was screaming back then. Yet, as soon as Elaru came back in range, it subsided and disappeared. He knew that the part of the pain was caused by mana deficiency, but he wasn’t aware of the actual damage. He wasn’t a healer – he knew no skills that could allow him to see the state of his own body. He could only go by what he felt, and the information that provided was very limited.

Looking at Elaru’s confidence and the fact how everything she had ever told him turned out to be true, he had no basis on which to doubt her.

“I could control the damage caused by mana tempering to not exceed the pain I felt back then. In such case, the damage wouldn’t exceed the damage caused by mana deficiency, and I should be able to heal quickly. In fact, if I go by the time it took us, I’d be able to complete dozens of rounds of tempering in a single day.”

Elaru grinned. “Fast healing rate is priceless. Just imagine how much money that will save us in the future.” She jumped up from where she was sitting and in a quick motion arrived next to Kiel. She flung her arm over his shoulders and waved her hand in front of them in a motivational speech. It was as if she was pointing out the beauty of the world to him, or offering him an invisible mountain of gold. “No medicine shops, no hospitals, no medical fees or healing costs. We’ll be filthy rich!”

Kiel’s face twisted in a strange grimace. He was unsure if she was joking or if she was actually serious. How would avoiding medical treatment cause them to become rich? Was she earning a large profit that was totally eaten by medical fees?

Kiel snorted. Not likely.

He turned towards her to give her a disdainful look, but it froze on his face as soon as he noticed just how close her face was to his.

Her long ears were tickling his neck, a sweet scent of the forest wafted off from her. It smelled similar to cinnamon and made her slightly moist, lush lips seem almost edible.

His heart involuntarily skipped a beat. “Too darn close!”

Kiel wasted no time and shrugged her arm off with a solemn face. He slipped away towards the stream. He bent down and drunk some water, splashing it on his face nonchalantly as if trying to freshen up.

The clear water drops dripped down his lips and made his thick black eyelashes stick together. He exhaled, calming his mind and turned around, glancing towards Elaru with the corner of his eyes. Was the vixen riling him up on purpose?

She was humming a quiet tune with a smile plastered on her face and resting against the same tree as before. She unsheathed 5 acupuncture needless that were strapped to her thigh, holding 4 of them in between fingers of her right hand, while she twirled the last one in her left hand like a toy.

She threw a few side glances at him expectantly.

Kiel had to suppress the urge to stomp his feet as he made his way back to the same place where he had been sitting previously.

He exhaled once again, discarding all of his unnecessary and distracting thoughts, concentrating wholeheartedly on the task at hand. His plans had changed, there was no need to go to a medicine shop and no need for cleansing. He would use his own power to improve.

His eyes glittered with excitement as he started the previous process over again.

After several minutes, his body started stinging again. Instead of stopping, he persisted this time. His aura became so dense it felt as if it was suffocating him. The mana that was initially a warm, pleasant feeling of power turned into a rampaging flame. His previously dry body was again drenched in cold sweat.

Elaru paid close attention to his state. She seemed to be waiting for him to finish mana tempering so she could help him heal faster.

Kiel gritted his teeth and pushed himself even harder. His body burned, his muscles twitched, his breathing became shallow. The hard beating of his heart echoed painfully inside his head.

His cells screamed in agony. He closed his eyes tightly and tried persist, just a bit more.

“Just a bit more. You are almost there.” He could hear Elaru musing softly.

He clung onto her words. If she told him to endure a bit more, how could he refuse? Wouldn’t he look like a sissy? Not the impression he wanted to leave. He could take this. He was strong. He wasn’t afraid of pain.

He clenched his fists. As the mana inside of him raged, as his aura turned almost liquid, he couldn’t think about anything besides enduring. Just…a…little…bit…mo…

He didn’t even get to finish his thought before his consciousness blurred and his mind was enveloped by darkness. His sitting body slowly fell backward onto the grass. It didn’t even let out a thump as it hit the ground.

Elaru leisurely got up from her sitting position, in no hurry to help out. That’s about right. It should take him at least a few hours to regain consciousness?

She stroked her chin with her left hand, looking solemnly at the motionless body in front of her. I shouldn’t underestimate the healing rate of our bodies after the bond. I better hurry it up.

She sheathed the needles she was holding in her right hand, before walking up to Kiel.

Sorry mate. I can help you increase your recovery rate. But…I never said that I would.

She bent down and pulled out a single, thin needle out of Kiel’s neck. “See, knowing where to insert needles is very useful.”

Elaru cast a quick cleansing on the needle before she put it back into the last empty sheath on her thigh.

Your speedy recovery isn’t in my interests right now. Hang tight, sleep well, and let me attend to my own business.

She sighed before grabbing Kiel by his shirt and flinging him over her shoulder easily, like he had no weight at all. She looked at the dying sun, it was glowing with a blood red color.

A tinge of mischief glittered in her eyes as she looked at Kiel’s legs she was gripping so he wouldn’t fall off. Like a sack of potatoes. She giggled and smacked him on his behind teasingly.

Kiel’s mage armor dissipated along with his consciousness, so technically, she didn’t need to carry him. She could easily make his body float next to her. But using magic on a body that just went through mana tempering was a bad idea.

In the next moment, the redhead with a human sack flung on her shoulder completely vanished from the grassy clearing. There was no trail, no footsteps, no wavering grass or rustling leaves.

Everything was deathly still. Without any sign that anyone had been there at all.

Coming up in the next episode:

Suddenly,as if appearing out of thin air, right next to the couch, another person materialized.

The girl smiled at him warmly. “Don’t worry.” He isn’t bleeding so… “He won’t get any blood on it.”

For her, Muni was the land of light, while she was a phantom that dwelled in the shadows. One wrong step was all it took to disintegrate all the shadows protecting her and reveal her true form.

“I am out of ideas. You know just as well as I that Muni had always been our last resort. I am stuck at a dead end.” She laughed softly. It was a laugh that contained no humor, only resignation. “I don’t know where else to look.”

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7 years ago

-In some places, you wrote needless, instead of needles