Howl of Time

5. A Bard\'s Tale

[Authors note: From now on I will add a tag at the top of each chapter to differentiate whether the chapter will be (Present Tense) when MC is already regressed and (Flashback) when mc first experienced the apocalypse. The flashbacks wont always be linear after a while. They only serve to help the reader understand the backstory for Mc and other characters. This chapter is (Present Tense). Thanks for reading!]

I couldn sleep. I was restless. To think that psycho would follow me through literal **ing time! (I know I have a few screws loose but she is the embodiment of crazy.) I stared at the ceiling try to clear my mind

and fall asleep.

After an hour, I finally passed out. When I woke, I got dressed and went to eat breakfast with my family. As usual Cleo tried to tease me, this time about my date, making sure my parents heard him. Which of course my mother began to gush about me finally having a girlfriend. (Im seriously second guessing whether I should help Cleo live through the cataclysm.)

After calming my mother down and eating, I left the house on my bike. I was meeting Tania for our date at noon, so I had a few hours to spare. I rode out of District 7 and into District 6, a commercial district. District 6 has a abundance of shops and malls. And the place Im going now is an antique shop.

I remember raiding this particular shop during the apocalypse and there was a lot of vintage items such as clothes and jewelry. I was going to purchase a gift for my date.

After arriving at the shop I entered and a electronic bell notified the shop keep of my arrival. The shelves were lined with all sorts of antiques and there was glass cases that lined the walls that housed various objects that were not meant to be touched unless purchased.

I walked around and checked out the displays. Porcelain dolls, beer steins, ceramic vases, and China dishes were among some of the most notable antiques on display. I looked through the glass cases next and found the section where jewelry was kept. Inside there was rings, necklaces, bracelets… and ear rings..

Inside the case before my eyes was something I didnt think I would see at this point in time. A pair of earrings in the shape of skulls carved in what looks like ivory inlaid with two small red ruby stones for the eyes.

But I could feel it. So many years of life Id never forget this feeling. The pair of earrings were an Artifact. The skulls were carved from tusks of a mana beast, and the gemstones used for the eyes were small beast crystal fragments.

(The price isnt high either. They must not know what they really have…) A smile appeared on my face. I looked around a bit longer and also found a nice bracelet for Tania.

As I was walking over to the where the old man that runs the shop was to tell him I was ready, something else caught my eye. A dagger. From a normal human perspective, its a beautiful decorative dagger made from obsidian. It was in the shape of a dirk. But I could tell it was something unique.

The dark double edge blade was long and looked like it was made out of black glass and the handle was set with a dark colored wood. The materials its actually made from though… (A Black Amber blade with a handle carved from a branch of the world tree. This… is something made by elves…)

The blade itself truly isnt meant for combat and is in fact a decorative piece, the problem however is, how did it get here?

I decided to ask the shopkeeper about it. ”Excuse me. Id like to ask you about that dagger in the case over there. ”

”Hmm. That dagger was brought to me a few months back by a beautiful woman. The sweet lass said it was in her family for generations but she needed money and I bought it off her for a generous price. You interested in it? ” The old man kindly told me but in my mind…

(Bullshit. That woman was an elf… It seems the Elven mating season has begun. She probably sold off her useless junk to fund her escapades here on earth. Theres no other way for that dagger be here. The roots of the world tree has connected to earth and the cataclysm will arrive on schedule.)

I kept my thoughts to myself however, ”Thank you so much, sir. Id like to buy that dagger as well as a few pieces of jewelry. ”

After leaving the shop, I rode my bike to a secluded place under a bridge so I wouldnt be disturbed. I took out the earrings first and inspected them closely. I couldn tell what ability they possessed so in order to find out I decided to wear them.

(…hmm.. nothing is happening…) The earrings didnt do anything when I put them on. I chalked it up as me not having awoken to mana yet as the reason. I put the earrings away and then took out the dagger. The black amber is useless but the wood the handle is carved out of could be used as a conduit.

(Some of my problems could be solved if I could use the wood from the world tree to channel the little mana in the atmosphere.)

After thinking about it for awhile I dismissed the idea. While the wood can be used to channel the mana, without a place to store the mana its useless. (Well, these items are useless for me now, but may have some use in the future.)

As I was about to put dagger away into my satchel, an idea struck me like a bolt of lightning. (If I wear the earrings while holding the dagger, I could channel mana into the artifacts, couldn I?)

I took the pair of earrings back out and put them on as i held the dagger. I closed my eyes to focus on channeling the mana through the dagger into my body and to the earrings. I heard a clattering sound from tiny skulls hanging from my earlobes. The teeth of skulls were clacking against eachother causing a very disturbing sound. I opened my eyes and realized the earrings ability. Mana sense.

Mana sense is a null type spell that enhances the eyes to literally see mana. I looked up at the sky and saw thin blue clouds covering the skies. It may be better described as a type of mist swirling around everywhere. But its very thin and not as perceptible as it would be after the cataclysm.

I deactivated the earrings and was about to put everything away again when I started having a burning pain in my chest. I began coughing violently and blood was spraying out. My mind was hazy and confused, I tried my hardest to think of the reason when it hit me. Mana poisoning.

I quickly activated the artifact again this time without the dagger. My body felt like it was going to break down if I didnt expel the excess mana from my body. The skulls clacked as they activated once again. After a minute, the violent storm raging in my body slowed to a stop.

I heaved and gasped for breath after the relief came. My body was not ready to receive mana like that. In the future those who survive the cataclysm, do so for two reasons. The first is the mana on earth right now is increasing at a slow pace and gradual exposure helps in withstanding the cataclysm. And the second reason is luck.

When the cataclysm occurs its like all the mana from the world tree suddenly pours into the world without restriction like a flood, but until that happens the rise is gradual as the connection is still being formed. My body right now hasnt had enough exposure to adapt so I almost died.

(I never thought about adapting to mana using this method. But this method would be useless to anyone thats never controlled mana… no… its downright suicidal.)

I washed the blood off my face and hands in the creek nearby and was about to leave when I suddenly heard voices.

*Clakakaka, What a strange human.*

*Clakakaka, Agreed. Able to control mana before having even achieving an awakening.*

”Huh?! Whos there?! ” I looked around frantically for the source of the voices. My head darted left to right in search of them.

*Clakakaka, Seems stupid too.*

*Clakakaka, Agreed.*

(N-no way.) I looked down at the water surface and saw the two skulls hanging from my ears. The red ruby eyes were glowing and the skulls were having a conversation. Their teeth clacking a few times before they speak.

*Clakakaka, Is his skull empty?*

*Clakakaka, I pity him. Hes ugly and dumb. A real bonehead.

”Fuck you! ”

My anger was beginning to offset my surprise. Not only were these artifacts with sentience but they also have a deathwish.

I took a deep breath and reminded myself I could flush them down the toilet later if i choose to. ”Hey Skulls! Stop talking shit and explain your history. I have only met one other sentient artifact, and it wasnt this annoying. ”

*Clakakaka, We brothers, were created by master.*

*Clakakaka, Our master, human, was much smarter than you.*

*Clakakaka, And much stronger. Centuries ago…*

*Clakakaka, …He made us on his home world…*

*Clakakaka, …We went through many adventures together…*

*Clakakaka, …and after his death, we had new masters, across many other worlds.*

*Clakakaka, The last one was an elf…*


”Okay. That explains how you got here. What about your abilities. Is it only Mana Sense? ” I asked hoping for more.

*Clakakaka, Of course, we have other abilities.*

*Clakakaka, We also have Dark attribute spell, Shadow Puppet…*

*Clakakaka, …and Space attribute spell, Clairvoyance.*

(Jackpot! Shadow Puppet is a decent spell that creates a controllable shadow thats linked to the casters senses. It cant interact with physical objects, but it comes in handy for espionage. Clairvoyance is also good. When cast, if can help the caster find people, places, or things as long as the caster has a good mental image of what they seek. Its range is limited by the mana of the caster, meaning at my current level, its useless but will be surely be useful later.)

I couldn hide my smile after learning these cheap earrings were better than I expected. For now I cant use those abilities as they require too much mana and channeling that much would kill me. I decided I would pace myself and channel mana through my body slowly over the course of a week or so in order to increase my tolerance.

I expected Kyle and I to get quite sick once we got to Mythral. I was going to bring something to help alleviate the symptoms so we could adjust quickly, but it looks I found a better solution.

I removed the earrings and put them away again for now. The skulls expressed thier dissatisfaction as I did so but I didnt pay them any mind. While I do like thier abilities, I certainly dont want to go on a date wearing those noisy things.

I got on my bike and headed in the direction of district 2. I had spent a bit of time shopping and inspecting my purchases, the time for my date was approaching.

It didnt take me long to reach the Zoo, and standing where we agreed to meet, a petite, light brown haired girl was waiting for me. Tania, wearing a yellow dress and a sun hat.

(I would be lying if I didnt say she was looking cute…)

I tossed my thoughts to the side and stepped towards her. It was time for a date!

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