The Song of Sword and Magic - Chapter 10
Chapter 10: Shadow and Faith
[Translator — Asuka]
[Proofreader — Karane]
It has been three days since Niss and Rae arrived at Wet Port, but Fern still hadn’t reunited with them, so naturally, Niss was anxious. On the other hand, Rae remained calm and collected, and as they walked along the port in silence, countless ships would move past them.
Every day, many ships would depart from Wet Port, then new ships from other places would come and park in the docks. After that, the seamen would be busy unloading the goods from the ships. Their tanned and muscular bodies would be drenched in sweat, which shone under the sunlight. While the captain urged his men to work harder, he also had to negotiate with his customer.
“Rae, have you traveled on a ship before?” Niss wanted to say something to break the silence.
“Yes. Many times.” Rae never turned to her. “To some people, their experience on a ship isn’t a memorable one.”
“Why is that so?” Niss asked curiously.
“Have you heard of seasickness?” Rae’s lips curled up. “It’s an excruciatingly painful experience. Of course, it doesn’t kill you. The bigger threats people face on a ship are pirates and storms.”
“It seems that it’s safer to travel on land.” Niss stuck out her tongue in disappointment. “I thought being on a ship would be an enjoyable experience.”
Rae turned to look at her in shock. “Have you never been on a ship before?”
“No…” Niss replied helplessly as she was slightly embarrassed. “I grew up in the inland. Subsequently, I went to the Magician’s Tower to learn magic, so I hadn’t even seen a ship before coming here.”
“Well, there are plenty of ships for you to see here.” Rae shifted her attention to the ships. “You’d better pray that you won’t suffer from seasickness when we board one.”
“Is it really that scary?” Niss shrugged.
“Given a choice, I’d rather fight with the Dark Tide than have a taste of seasickness.” Rae fished out a kraft paper bag from her pocket and opened it carefully. Inside the bag were some white flower petals. “These are the dried petals of peacebloom. You can make a cup of tea with them or keep them in your mouth, which should help alleviate seasickness.”
Niss took the bag from her and sniffed the petals. “They’re fragrant. Thanks, Rae. How about you?”
“Don’t worry. I still have some in my bag. Moreover, peacebloom flowers are everywhere in Wallis except in the North.” Rae kept walking forward.
Niss kept the bag and ran after her. “Rae, why do you know so much stuff? I thought that only mercenaries like Fern who had been to many places would be so knowledgeable.”
Rae stopped in her tracks and recalled a dark memory from her past. “Doesn’t everyone have secrets they don’t want others to find out?”
Pouting, Niss fell silent and kept walking along the port with her.
Eventually, Rae stopped by a ship and looked up at the pattern on the sail before speaking, “I think we should start thinking about the possibility of continuing our journey without Fern.” Even when she talked about such a topic, her tone remained indifferent.
“No. Just wait for a few days more,” Niss refuted, her face flushed out of agitation.
“Of course we can wait for a while longer, but we also have to think about how to go on with our journey with only the two of us.” Rae gave her a look. “Although you’ve told me that your purpose is to pass your trial, now it seems that it’s more complicated than you have imagined.”
Niss bit her lip and clenched her magic cane. “I didn’t expect that things would turn out to be so complicated. If possible, I’d want to go back to the Magician’s Tower and ask about it.”
Rae snorted and shook her head in disdain. “Do you think you can get the answer from them? Instead of telling you the truth, they will just tell you what they want you to know!” All of a sudden, she became agitated.
Niss was puzzled as to why Rae would react in this way, so she frowned and asked, “Why did you say so?”
Rae heaved a sigh, but she didn’t answer her question directly. “Would you want to hear a piece of advice from me?” Her tone had turned mild.
“Yes, please.” Niss was still perplexed.
“Whatever happens, you have to have your own judgment. Only then can you trust your companions who are reliable. Also, don’t believe anyone who doesn’t share your joy and sorrow.” Even when she was giving her advice, her tone remained dispassionate.
Instead of replying to her, Niss gazed at the magic cane in her hand, for she didn’t know what to say. In her heart, the Magician’s Tower was a sacred place, and the authority of the archmages was unquestionable. However, after the events she went through, she started having doubts in her mind, which posed a challenge to her faith.
Seeing that Niss fell into her thoughts, Rae continued, “You might wonder why I’d study shadow magic, which is a branch of magic unwelcomed by most people.”
“Yes, that’s a question I’ve been wanting to ask.” Niss came to her senses.
“Please forgive me, it’s not the right time to tell you about it yet.” Rae’s gaze dimmed as her painful memory from the past returned to haunt her. “But, I can tell you that it’s all because of the Magician’s Tower.”
“What? How could that be possible?” Niss widened her eyes in disbelief. “Shadow magic is forbidden in the Magician’s Tower. Even the high-level magicians wouldn’t learn it. How is that…”
“It’s expected that you’d be shocked. It only goes to show how hypocritical those magicians in the Magician’s Tower are. They’ve put on a brilliant disguise.” Rae shrugged helplessly.
“But I still can’t believe it. Unless you can show me any evidence.” Niss stared at Rae as though she was interrogating a criminal.
“You’ll believe me one day.” Rae once again closed herself off, leaving no chance for Niss to enter her world. “Now, let us get back to our first question. What will you do if Fern doesn’t come back?”
“I don’t know. Why don’t we discuss it a few days from now?” Niss didn’t want to talk about it at the moment.
“Alright. We’ll wait for a few days more then.” Rae swept a look over the entire port. “By then, you’ll have to make a decision.”
The atmosphere in the port fell silent in the middle of the night. Still, some ships arrived at the port at this hour, and the oil lamps on the ships flickered in the darkness in an eerie way.
While Rae was sound asleep, Niss was wide awake. At that moment, she was standing by the window and gazing at White River in the darkness. The croaking of toads, the buzzing of crickets and other insects intertwined and some drunk seamen that were staggering back to their inns.
Looking up at the moon, Niss crossed her fingers and muttered under her breath as though she was praying. She couldn’t get what Rae told her moments ago off her mind.
In fact, she had doubts about the Magician’s Tower as well. Why would they tell me to look for a tavern owner called Rodd and ask him to introduce a mercenary to me? Why would the magic cane always lead me to places where the Dark Tide existed? Why did all the archmages see me off personally? That’s a treatment other disciples couldn’t get. Also, the dream I had when I was on the way to Canreto…
Niss couldn’t get an answer. Her instincts told her that the archmages were hiding something from her, but there was nothing she could do at the moment. Then, she thought about Fern. However, she was starting to lose hope of ever meeting him again. How should I go on with my journey without him? All these questions were so thorny that she was starting to feel dizzy. She couldn’t take up such a huge burden on her own. She needed someone to share it with. Nevertheless, when she turned around and saw Rae, who was fast asleep, her eyes welled up with tears. She quickly shifted her attention back to the view outside, but she couldn’t control her tears from streaming down her face any longer.
“Fern, where are you…”
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