0xReki's Web Novel Space

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Lesson in Lock Picking

published on 2020-03-06, last updated on 2020-10-28 written by Thai “0xReki” Chung, checked with ProWritingAid, edited by jayfeather

I wake up at about (half past seven). I should still have some time until Matt’s group arrives. I stay in bed and continue sleeping. A while later I wake up. It’s (eight bells four-do-el) I should get up. I still feel sleepy — maybe a hot bath will wake me up. I make my way to the bath and reach out to the plug so I can fill the tub. At least, that’s what I’m trying to do as I get a burst of hot water into my face.

Well, at least now I’m awake… I look down at the direction where the water came from. The Hot Springs Slimes are there. They radiate a feeling of panic. What happened? The Slimes slowly move out of the way. I can see one of them looks as if something has bitten off part of it. Did I accidentally step on one of them?

«I’m sorry, I’ll be more careful! Are you OK?»

I carefully caress the damaged Slime. Besides the damage, it seems to be alright. I could be imagining it, but I think it’s already filling up the missing part. The Slimes finally calm down. After bathing, I get dressed and leave the cave and wait for Matt’s group. They’re not here yet. Shortly after (ten bells), they arrive.

“Good morning, everyone! Welcome to my place.” I greet everyone.

As expected, Matt has Kat, Pat and Luna with him. There’s also Alexander and Silas with them.

“Good morning, Swift!” Matt greets me, “You’re awake!”

“Yes, I am,” I answer, “at least, I am now. I almost crushed one of my Slimes while being half-asleep. Good thing the other Slimes stopped me before it got critical!”

“Oh no! Is it terribly hurt?” Kat asks.

“It’s good now.”

I call the Hot Springs Slimes over. There’s no Slime with visible damage anymore. So it did recover! But there’s one that is notably smaller than the others.

“I think the smaller one is the one I stepped on. Am I right?”

As an answer, it gently spouts water around.

“I’m glad you’re alright. Let’s go inside so you can prepare your rooms.”

“By the way,” Matt hands me a package, “here’s some paper and tools to practice writing. And some books, too. Among those, there’s a copy of the Encyclopedia Magicka. I heard you were interested in that.”

My own copy of the Encyclopedia Magicka? Neat!

“Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it.”

We go into the cave and I show them around. While the others are preparing their rooms, I unpack the package and put the contents into my Infinite Storage.

“Isn’t it too dark in here?” Kat asks.

“I don’t mind it that much,” I answer, “besides, there’s this.”

I open the lid to my Light Crystal in the wall.

“There’s a crystal as a light source in the wall. Oh… it seems I completely forgot to look for another one for the new room. I’ll add that later.”

“It’s OK, I’m not a diva! Though I’d really appreciate that. Though I have to say, this light feels nice. Unlike typical magic light, it feels completely natural.”

“I know this glow!” Matt interjects, “didn’t I get the Light Magic Skill from one of those?!”

“Yes, you did,” I answer, “I’ve put this one into the cave before you turned up the first time.”

“You can move them?”

“Yes, it’s easy.”

“Stop, we don’t want to hear it! There’s no need to spill your secrets as the keeper!” Matt stops me.

“Those crystals are said to be immovable!” Kat explains.

“I think I should read up on the myths of the world…”

“You really should,” Matt answers, “there should be enough material in the library. But enough of that. Let’s start training! Unless there another hunt we have to take care of…”

“Haha! What are the odds of that happening?”

Silence. I don’t receive a message. That’s great!

“Don’t you think the birds are quite noisy?” Kat asks.

“Are you sure? I think it’s just because we’re here in the forest,” Matt answers.

“No, now that you mention it, they are noisier than usual. I think it’ll rain soon,” I answer, “do you guys have rainproof clothes? There’s something I want to check during the rain.”

“Yes, we do. What are you planning?” Matt asks.

“Something special,” I answer grinning, “You can look forward to it.”

Silence. Even the birds have fallen silent. After a short moment, it starts pouring. Even in the cave, you can hear the rain quite loudly and clearly.

“Well, so much about training today…” Silas sighs, “Well, I have something for you.”

He gives me a bag. I open the bag and have a look inside. There are bits of metal inside.

“What are these?” I ask.

“Those are lock picks,” he answers. Upon seeing my confusion, he continues: “Other uses aside. It’s quite a handy skill for dungeons. Some treasure chests there are locked.”

He takes out a padlock and a key and hands them to me. He also puts several other items on the table.

“Here’s a lock for you to practise. I’ve more if the others want to have a shot at a lesson lock picking.”

“No, I’m fine,” the girls answer.

“I’m too old for that business,” Alexander answers. He and the girls start talking about various things. Matt and Pat on the other hand are very open to trying it out.

I examine the lock. It’s a simple design. Silas takes out another pair and demonstrates how to use the picks.

“This is a very basic design, I mean a cheap copy of one. It’s basically just an illusion of a lock. Sadly, there are some people that sell this. All you need to do is turn the mechanism. It’s useless as a real lock, but it’s a great tool to illustrate the process.

The ones I gave you are real ones. They have some wards for more security. But still, all you need to do is turn the mechanism. It’s just more fiddly.”

I take a pick and fiddle around with the lock a bit. After several seconds, I manage to open the padlock.

“Like this?”

“Yes, like that. Let’s take it up a notch.”

Silas gives me another padlock.

“Hmm, this is harder than it looks,” Matt says.

“Oh, I think I broke the pick,” Pat shows us a completely bent piece of metal.

Instead of picking the lock I just got from Silas, I pick up a sturdy-looking box Silas put on the table. It looks somewhat like a safe. But it seems like it’s made of very thin metal. If it were thick metal, there wouldn’t be any space inside.

“And what’s this?” I ask.

“It’s a lock-picking challenge that’s being distributed by a locksmith in the capital,” Silas answers, “the locksmith promises a prize to whoever can open these. The boxes are sturdy since they’re made from Mithril. The contents of the vials inside decompose if someone forcefully melts through the metal.”

“Are there any other restrictions?”

“No, but this is still way too hard for you.”

“Let me try something I have an idea…”

I imagine the lock opening. All that needs to happen is the lock mechanism to turn.

“Unlock!”

I can hear a click. I open the door of the safe. There are two vials that touch the walls, connected by a stone contraption. The stone looks like a very brittle mineral. The contraption is exactly the size, so it doesn’t bump around in the safe when transporting it. The walls of the safe are a little thicker than I assumed, but still not even half as thick as I would expect from a safe. I look at Silas. He shakes his head.

“I’ve heard of magic that can pick locks, but I’ve never seen it. Where did you learn that?”

“I just tried it out. I didn’t know if it would work.”

“You should meet the locksmith and demonstrate the spell,” Silas whispers, “I can’t wait to see his face when you show that to him.”

“Sure, why not?” I whisper back.

“I think I should be saying something about this,” Matt interjects, “So let’s keep it at this: don’t introduce him to unsavoury folks.”

“Don’t worry, that person is very reputable.”

“I have to take your word for it…”

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