Lith was true to his word and called all of his friends before hitting the road again. Some of the news he received was expected, some of it not so much.
Damn! Jirni\'s birthday is going to be a real pain in the ass this year.
I can only hope an emergency will give me a decent excuse for not attending. Lith cursed.
So much for missing your friends. Solus grumbled.
She had never felt so tired and would have much preferred to keep sleeping.
They are going to celebrate their 25th anniversary, you should\'ve expected something big for the occasion.
Aren\'t you happy to finally see Phloria and the rest of the gang again
Really no. Lith shook his head.
If I don\'t bring my girlfriend to the party with me, Kamila will think I still feel something for my ex.
If I do, there\'s going to be a showdown between them, and even if violence is rarely involved, back on Earth these kinds of things were never pretty.
How can you say you feel nothing for Phloria One of the reasons you asked Kamila out is because she reminded you of her.
Even now you refuse to call her by her name and just use the \'ex\' word.
I think that says a lot. She sneered.
I haven\'t forgotten what we had together.
I owe her a lot, maybe more than I could ever repay her, but the past is in the past.
By the way, someone is grumpy this morning and for once it\'s not me. Lith laughed, making Solus feel awkward.
She still had conflicting feelings about her new ability and, most importantly, about her decision to not share it with him.
The exhaustion coupled with the guilt were making her touchy.
Lith resumed his duty and for more than a week he was unable to stop in one place if it wasn\'t for eating or sleeping.
Winter in the north had started earlier than usual, catching many cities and villages unprepared.
He would often be called by their local authorities to resolve disputes about food provisions or to rid them of potential threats.
Even bandits needed a place to shelter from the snowstorms, but no one wanted them to live in their neighbourhood.
Criminals would try to infiltrate settlements at the last moment, hoping to either escape detection in the slums of medium sized cities or exploit the lack of security typical of small villages.
Unfortunately for them, the people in the north were as harsh and unforgiving as their climate.
They hated even the foreigners who wore the Kingdom\'s uniforms, let alone those whose faces only a mother could love.
Once Lith reached a village, he would give them two choices: to spend the rest of the winter in prison or in the graveyard.
Banishing them wasn\'t an option.
They could return as soon as he left and he had no desire to waste his time with mercy.
Some of them tried to escape while the bravest ones attempted to resist being arrested.
They all died the same way: with their neck snapped by a flick of Lith\'s wrist and a touch of spirit magic.
\'It seems until people settle down for winter, we\'ll be doing a lot of back and forth around the whole Kellan region.\' Lith thought.
Yeah, you won\'t be able to go back home for a while.
I expected you to nag like usual, yet you are smiling. Solus was confused seeing him so laid back.
\'I would if I were a normal Ranger, stranded in the middle of nowhere during a snowstorm.
I\'m a lucky man who can seek shelter inside his own mage tower and enjoy the company of his only true friend instead.\'
Lith was eating a steaming meal in the dining room Solus had created for him.
\'Between working, taking care of my family and Kamila, it\'s been a long time since we could just spend a bit of time with just you and me.\' He patted the wisp who was floating in front of him.
\'Even though we are always together, I still missed you a lot, Solus.
I wish we could share this meal together.\' The lights in the tower turned beet red.
Not for the overly casual physical contact which had become even more awkward since she had acquired a human body, but because she had actually already eaten her fill while Lith was setting up the Forgemastering lab for their next experiment.
You have an odd concept of quality time! Solus telepathically pouted.
You are using the mind link to communicate without interrupting your meal to save time and ever since we got stuck in here, we have done nothing but work on our magic.
We could take a nap, watch a movie, read a novel, anything but work!
\'You are joking, right Neither of us needs to sleep, the only movies we can watch are those I know by heart, and we read a book in a split second with Soluspedia.
Any of the above would be just a waste of our precious time.\' Lith was confused by her recent behavior.
She had always insisted on making him rest regularly and had always been fond of cuddling, but for a while now she wouldn\'t take a no for an answer.
Truth to be told, Solus was trying to follow Tista\'s advice and live her own life.
Yet since she could only take physical form inside the tower and she could only do as she pleased when he was asleep, her window of opportunity to experiment with new things was quite small.
To add insult to injury, Solus really enjoyed spending quality time with him and in her book, work did not qualify.
\'Besides, I don\'t care what we do.
As long we are together, it\'s like a holiday to me.\' Lith stressed his point by hugging her tightly and making the dining room turn even redder.
In the end, they reached a compromise.
Lith would decide what they would do for 16 hours a day and Solus would decide for the remaining eight.
By the end of the blizzard, Lith had converted a few of the new spells the Crown had awarded him with into true magic and gained a deeper understanding of first magic.
Once Solus noticed that even when she forced him to rest Lith would actually practice Accumulation to further refine his core, she came this close to giving him a piece of her mind.
Unfortunately, when she opened their mind link, the only thing that he was thinking about was the hope that, by improving his core, he could help her to gain the light form she had actually already acquired.
Solus was deeply touched by his affection for her, realizing once again she held a very special place in his heart.
A few days later, they were on the edge of the ruins of Kush.
The creatures populating the city had such a strong life force that they would regenerate even after being pulverized by darkness magic.
Lith was studying the ghost-like life force of a freshly killed monster with Scanner.
None of his tier five body sculpting spells were able to cause the slightest alteration to the ethereal figure in front of him who was silently collecting his remains floating in the wind.
\'If my life force were to become immutable like theirs, I would achieve immortality.\' He thought as his army amulet broke his focus.
Fuck! Another call.
\'More petty quarrels between nobles or is it bandits again\' Solus asked.
\'Neither.\' He replied when the call ended.
\'A tribe of monsters is about to attack the city of Maekosh\'