As we got closer to the border between Fepresil and Othya, things became generally less dangerous. With some experience in the deepest parts of the forest, we weren’t going to have any trouble- especially along the road. Not that there weren’t a few stray beasts, but they were usually quickly scared off or killed. I hadn’t noticed any huge growth from Kasner’s abilities along the way, but suddenly he was much more powerful. Nothing so crazy like twice… but perhaps a tenth. He didn’t need as much mana conserved or concentration used to keep his false leg- nor did he have to deal with its chill on his flesh, which probably wasn’t pleasant even with Cold Resistance. Kasner was also much more upbeat- everyone was really.
As we passed the elven side of the border, the guards seemed to recognize her unlike the first time. However, they just whispered to each other, and gave us no trouble passing through. On Othya’s side, we showed our guild cards and were passed through without trouble, though Khyrmin did take a bit longer. After all, she was still a citizen of Fepresil, but she was also a resident of Sradena- though her ‘cabin’ was quite far from the town itself. Still, they had records of our previous passing and no reason to stop Khyrmin in either case- higher ranking adventurers were mostly free to travel between countries. I had no idea what rank Khyrmin was, but she had to be at least level 40. H rank? Probably more, unless she hadn’t bothered to do the actual rank advancement process. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was only a rank or two below M, somewhere in the range of being able to fight dragons, traditionally considered some of the strongest monsters. Real dragons, not baby ones. However, I just wasn’t strong enough to tell exactly how powerful she really was.
We parted with Khyrmin just after the border. None of us were able to thank her enough- but she really didn’t seem that interested in thanks anyway. Of course, there was nothing material we could offer her either, but she seemed happy enough just knowing we were successful- not that she ever actually looked happy, but I thought she cracked a real smile once or twice around Alhorn.
Speaking of Alhorn, we left him with her. He had plans to train with her for another month or two, though he mentioned to send a message to him if we needed him sooner. He promised to come right away. There was no better place we could think of for him to get training- certainly not for free, but possibly at all. I could have also benefited from more training with Khyrmin, but I still had the issue of my negative levels to deal with. For that, I needed to see the Great Sage. Sage Norwood was still working on my issue, and it had been long enough he might have had new breakthroughs- or come up with new ideas to test, at least.
Sage Norwood gave me a familiar potion. It was quite tingly, the same as before. He nodded as he looked me over. “As expected, the deleveling potion is at the same potency as before. If it was lower, we could let it drain itself out, but so far there has been no change.” He shrugged, jiggling his beard slightly. “That’s good for my next planned step, however.” He produced a potion that looked suspiciously like a deleveling potion. “This should be… an anti-delevling potion. That is, the plan is for it to eliminate the remaining traces of deleveling potion from your system. I can’t say that it will work, only that, to the best of my knowledge, it should. Obviously, it has not been tested. If you consent to taking it, we’ll wait until tomorrow- we don’t want the measurement potion you took to interfere with it.” I nodded to show I was listening, “Of course, stay away from consuming other potions of any sort, as well as alcohol… just in case.” He pulled out a piece of paper, “I can also show you the list of ingredients, if you would like.”
I shrugged, “I would, actually. Not that I’ll know what each thing does, but perhaps you can give an overview.”
“Very well then.” He placed the list on a table where we could both look at it, “First on the list by quantity is… water. That’s so it stays liquid, of course. Wouldn’t be much of a potion otherwise. The other ingredients are much more interesting. For example, there are a handful of rare herbs…” Sage Norwood started explaining each thing to me, and I got the general idea- though of course I wouldn’t have been able to just mix up the potion, even with the exact quantities. Maybe with instructions. I had taken chemistry, but in this case the potion probably had magic added at various points as well as different ingredients.
The next day, I brought Kantrilla with me. I was going to take that potion. There was no point of making Sage Norwood go to all that trouble if I wasn’t going to try his honest attempts to help. Also, he was the Great Sage so anything he was reasonably certain would work at least shouldn’t harm me. If it did, Kantrilla would be there. However, that wasn’t why I brought her. I didn’t want her there as a cleric, just as herself. I didn’t want to go into danger alone- and while Sage Norwood was a fine person, he didn’t exactly make me feel secure.
“How dangerous do you think it is?” Kantrilla asked.
I didn’t have a good way to answer that, “I think… it probably won’t make me sick or anything, except maybe as a side effect. It’s possible it makes things worse in other ways, though anything would really just be speculation.” Since it was related to a deleveling potion, untested it might just make things twice as bad. Maybe it could ruin all my chances to be an adventurer- but accepting being at negative levels didn’t seem like a safe long term prospect. Who knew what sort of problems it could cause down the line. There were much worse things that could happen besides lowering my Strength… though I didn’t relish the possibility of being weak again, either.
As we entered Sage Norwood’s office, he was there with a couple of assistants. “Hello there, Llyr. I take it you’re interested in trying the potion?” I nodded. “Good. I decided it would probably be better if this potion is entirely fresh, so we’re just putting the finishing touches on it. My assistants will also be around to help in case anything goes awry.” He looked at Kantrilla, “Having a cleric on standby could also be useful, though I would ask you to not attempt any healing magic unless I give explicit instructions. I can’t guarantee the process will be pleasant, but it shouldn’t cause any real damage even if it fails to achieve its intent…” Kantrilla nodded, somewhat reluctantly. Personally, I would prefer it not hurting at all, so nobody had to even consider trying to heal me.