“Please note that the mass of Flame Xedros used on the iron was a shapeless blot, whereas those he used to purify the Orichalcum matches the ingot’s size. Xedros worked hard to misdirect you into focusing on insignificant aspects of the smelting process.
“You noticed obvious phenomenons like the metal shrinking in size and its quality improving, but you missed the really important stuff.”
Lith kept cursing the Wyvern in all the ways he could imagine, masterfully mixing English with the Garlenian language to form a harmonious flow of swear words.
“He didn’t tell you that there must be a way to increase the quality of the Origin Flames to a level that exceeds your current life force, nor did he stress out the importance of matching the flames’ size with their target’s.” Solus said.
“Let me guess, you didn’t tell me this earlier because…”
“Because he deceived me as well. It took me a while and a lot of your failures to make sense of the underlying problem. Forget about phasing your flames through the metal. Until you learn how to adjust their quantity and quality, it’s just a waste of time.
“I’m betting half my wardrobe that Xedros emphasized the battle use of phasing flames to screw up with your training and delay your growth as a Forgemaster as long as possible.”
“Just to recap, he sold me what will soon become a piece of junk and he paid my treatment in riddles rather than teachings.” Lith snarled.
As long as the Orichalcum was stored inside his pocket dimension it wouldn’t deteriorate further, but he still couldn’t help but see it as a ticking bomb. A bomb that would blow up a lot of money.
“Do you know what’s the only silver lining of this situation is?”
“That for once you see the glass half full? I mean, you almost got ripped off for good this time.” Solus dangled her legs off the edge of the chair, appreciating the warm spring breeze passing through her toes.
‘By my maker, I have toes now!’
“It’s you.” Lith said while using spirit magic to pull her between his arms.
“Thanks for everything you’ve done and that you keep doing for me. I’m sorry that you’ve gotten hurt again to protect me.” His mind was filled with the memories of all the times that Solus had paid the price for his choices and he had come close to losing her.
Like during Nalear’s ambush, after saving Protector’s life, during the fight against the perfect Balor, or against the Odi. Feeling her pain had opened some of his old mental wounds, sending his paranoia to full throttle.
Now that Lith could safely touch her, he used Invigoration to make sure that she was alright.
“Hey, you got toes now.”
“Yes, I do.” Solus said, returning the embrace with joy. It had been so long since the last time that they had shared any intimacy. Even though it was just a medical examination, she lost herself in the moment.
“What are our plans for the night?”
“The same thing we do every night, Solus. Try to take over Mogar!” Lith said with his deep, draconic voice before bursting into a maniacal laughter while shapeshifting back into his human form.
The two overlapping voices would have been creepy to the casual onlooker, but in Solus’s case, they made her laugh out loud.
After dinner, Lith would have liked to use the dictionaries that Faluel had borrowed him to keep translating the Forgemastering booklet from the lost academy of Huryole, but that would require to pull an all-nighter.
Not only would it royally piss off Solus, but it would have meant to resort to Invigoration again to compensate for the lack of sleep. Between treating Xedros and all the practice to control his Origin Flames, Lith was really tired.
He had no idea if his next assignment was going to be simple and boring like all those he had carried out during the last few months or if it would turn out to be the umpteenth unexpected crisis.
On top of that, Solus was tired of his evasive answers and was starting to glare at him. So, he decided it was the right time to give Solus a little something that he had prepared for a while.
Lith had traveled a lot as both a Healer back when he worked at the academy, and as a Ranger, taking note of all the mana geysers they encountered. Lith moved the tower to a place located in the south-west corner of the Kingdom, near the city of Vinea.
“What are we doing here?” Solus asked while looking out a window. The pale reflection of the moon was glimmering on the water of the Rodimar sea.
“You’ve seen a lot of rivers and lakes during our travels, but I’ve never had the occasion to take you to a beach. Would you like to learn how to swim?” Lith said while taking an ocean blue one-piece swimsuit out of his pocket dimension.
“Where did you get that and how do you know my size?” Solus was flabbergasted at the vision of the unusual piece of clothing. It was much revealing compared to Mogar’s standards, mostly because there was no such thing as swimsuits.
“I had it prepared one of those times that we split up, after I realized you’d got a body. As for the size, I had to guess a lot based on our shared memories. There’s no reason to worry, though.
“You can use my Skinwalker armor to make it fit since I just need to cut a pair of old pants into short trousers to get a swimsuit.”
“Are you sure?” Solus fiddled with the cloth, turning her head from the window to the swimsuit while riddled with doubts.
‘With this kind of fabric, it’s basically a thicker underwear and once it gets wet, it will not leave much to the imagination. Hoping that the night will hide me is a fool’s dream. Not only Lith’s vision is about 100/20, but I also still glow like a lightbulb.’ She thought.
“Absolutely. We are both cold-resistant, so the water should be just fine even though is still spring. Also, this place is quite far away from human settlements. The odds of a random encounter at this hour are low.
“This is the closest mana geyser to the sea we’ve got, so you shouldn’t have problems reaching the beach from the tower while keeping your body.” Lith replied, misunderstanding what she was concerned about.
He went into his room, changing so fast that Solus had no time to come up with a proper excuse to turn down his offer. Even when she was in the company of Tista and Nyka, Solus would rarely get out of the tower.
Even when she did, she would take her ring form to go unnoticed. It was the first time ever that Lith offered to take Solus out while in her human form. Her longing to experience life outside her gilded cage battled with her shyness, making her hesitate until it was too late.
Solus and Lith shared the same mana signature, so the Skinwalker armor recognized her as its master and took the desired form after storing the swimsuit.