One should know that Ikaris' attributes were around 1. His stamina was only 1.1 and his Vitality 1.3. This meant that by ingesting this fruit at regular intervals his stamina would be practically tripled while he would recover from his injuries more than twice as fast.
These Heart Strawberries were certainly a treasure for everyone in this village, but for him it would be the catalyst for his evolution and future rapid progress. Without further ado, he cut the recommended 150 gram portion for himself and brought it to his mouth.
Immediately, an intoxicating strawberry aroma clouded his vision, followed by an explosive sweetness that radiated throughout his skull. The texture was wonderfully mellow under the tongue and at the same time addictively crunchy. He could feel his worries melt away as he bit into the fruit, as if he had just turned 20 years younger.
Ikaris' face became red and hot from the overwhelming sensation assaulting his senses and if he had died at that moment, he would have definitely died happy. His bloodshot eyes widened with a ravenous glow flickering behind his pupils and in less than 15 seconds he devoured the rest of his serving of fruit.
After finishing his meal, he felt momentarily confused and haggard as if he had just lost something precious, but soon the feeling of well-being affecting his reason dissipated and he regained his usual lucidity. But the return to normality did not stop there.
His lucidity and clarity of mind steadily rose, and the fatigue he had accumulated from his jungle escapade and prolonged use of the Appraisal Spell subsided, until it was replaced by a feeling of inexhaustible energy. His wounds, which were not completely healed, began to tingle and he could feel that at this rate his recovery would be complete within a few days.
'Amazing! I've never felt better!'
Taking advantage of this overflowing energy, Ikaris jumped into action without further delay. These Heart Strawberries were almost perfect but their protein content was still a bit low. They were fruit after all, not meat or beans.
He then understood why Malia had insisted on exchanging his fruit for meat. He didn't know if it was intentional, but it was certainly ideal for him because it would allow him to balance his diet.
While waiting for the village chief to bring him the meat she had promised, the teenager proceeded to use his new Appraisal skill on everything he could. He tested the spell on his waterskin, then on his tent, his loincloth and the other fruits. When he ran out of things to test, he decided to leave his tent and take a stroll outside in search of more targets to identify.
As soon as Ikaris left his tent, he came face to face with Krold, who was returning from his wanderings in the forest. The barbarian looked dejected. The boy thought about offering him a piece of fruit to thank him for his helpful advice, but he gave up in the end. He may have liked the warrior, but he didn't fully trust him.
[Age : 41 years old]
[Height : 1.86m]
[Magic Power: 0.11 points]
[Stamina: 2.3 points.]
[Strength: 1.6 points.]
[Agility: 1.7 points.]
[Constitution: 1.7 points.]
[Vitality: 1.8 points.]
[Soul Strength: 1.02 points.]
[Divine Spark lvl1: 0.11 points.]
[Soul Spark lvl1: 1.02 points.]
[Life Spark lvl1: 2.3 points.]
[Campfire lvl 3: 11.3. Passive Effect 1 : Can start small fires by focusing intensely. Passive Effect 2: Fire Element Affinity: 1%, Fire Element Resistance: 0.1%]
Krold hadn't lied. He was truly an expert in the Campfire Spell. Ikaris was however caught off guard by something else.
First of all, his Divine Spark reached the high value of 0.11, which was 55 times his laughable 0.002. This meant that the warrior's default Magic Power was 55 times higher than his own, but his Soul Spark and Soul Strength were almost 100 times lower.
Together with the flawed and inaccurate knowledge of the magic used and the average brainpower, the result was a magic almost as weak as his own, but more importantly an inability to cast most spells successfully.
But that wasn't what had caught his attention. His Campfire Skill had two Passive Effects. The first was within his predictions, but the second caught him off guard.
Fire Affinity and Fire Resistance. These were vague terms that had their place in video games and fantasy literature, but not here. Fire Resistance could be explained in many ways, but what did Fire Element Affinity mean?
lightsnοvεlWas there any other source of energy available in this world besides their Divine Sparks. He was tempted to rush to Malia and Grallu and ask them about it.
In the end, he refrained from bothering the young woman. He had just negotiated a juicy deal, so he didn't want to give her a reason to renege on her word.
Faithful to his initial objective, Ikaris went back to appraise anyone he came across. Each attempt got easier and easier, until he reached a point where he was so exhausted that he could barely stand without collapsing.
Just as he was about to return to his tent, he saw Malia step out of her thatched cottage and head to her workshop in the back. Curious, he quietly drew closer to peep at her, but lost interest when she opened the hatch on the floor and disappeared inside.
Not even a minute later, she exited with a large fillet of Demonic Boar meat and began to chop it into thin slices. Gauging the size and number of slices, the teen realized that Malia intended to keep her end of the bargain. This meat was his compensation for his Heart Strawberries.
Seeing her focused on her task, Ikaris suddenly felt an irresistible temptation to use his Appraisal Spell on the young woman. Despite his fatigue, he gritted his teeth and cast the spell, murmuring to himself,
'Just 0.5 sec. Appraisal!'
A few minutes later, Ikaris woke up face down, a heavy, aching feeling tugging at all his limbs. It took him a few more minutes to figure out what had just happened, but when he opened his eyes he was surprised to find himself not sprawled out like an idiot, but in a tent that wasn't his own.
"Are you okay, Ikaris?" A worried female voice sounded just above him.
When his vision finally came into focus, he recognized the face of the beautiful Ellie just inches away from his, their noses this close to touching. Turning his head with difficulty, the boy was surprised not to find Oliver at her side.
What surprised him even more was the strawberry flavor lingering in his mouth, as if someone had made him ingest another Heart Strawberries while he was unconscious. As he spotted the half eaten piece of red fruit in the pretty blonde's hands, he realized what she had done.
Alas, it was useless, since he had already consumed a serving of fruit less than an hour earlier.
"Thank you." Ikaris sighed before asking in a concerned tone, "How long was I out."
"Not more than ten minutes." She answered honestly. "And no need to thank me, I know it was you who found that fruit and not Oliver. All I did was give you back what's yours.
" Oh ? How did you find out " The teenager raised an intrigued eyebrow.
He had expected from the start that the simp would take credit for it to woo his sweetheart, and he couldn't care less, but somehow it had backfired.
"Oliver is a nice guy but he's not that smart. Why would he only have a piece of strawberry and not the whole fruit if he found it himself. He said he found it half eaten by birds, but the cut is too smooth and straight to match the bite of a beak or jaw. I saw him come out with a full waterskin in his hand, and you're the only person besides me he brings water to. A few minutes later he came back with this piece of fruit so connecting that fruit with you wasn't hard."
Ikaris drew a cold breath.
'What a moron!'
Even though walking around with the fruit posed some danger, the teenager would at least have had the good sense not to go back to his tent immediately if Ellie knew where he was going. Making the connection with him was just way too easy.
In the end, by trying to please the young woman he had ruined his chances of seducing her. Well, almost. After all, he didn't have to share and it was true that Ellie was immensely grateful for his help.
"Thanks for your help, I have to go." The boy announced after a moment, once he felt able to stand up.
"Hmm?" Ikaris turned his head, staring sharply at her without realizing it.
"Oh... Goodnight then." Ikaris nodded politely and left the tent.
Once Ikaris left, Ellie began to brood in a low voice, a cute dejected expression on her face,
"I wanted to show you my magic skills..."
At the same time, Ikaris, who had just returned to his tent, facepalmed abruptly,
'Fuck, I forgot to appraise her...'
Two regrets, two different reasons.