Prologue

In the middle of a gigantic forest, near an isolated village that was build deep into the forest's heart, engineered to hunt precious beasts and animals, collect valuable and useful herbs as well as mana rich fruits to sell for a profit back into the civilized world, on a high up branch, it's thickness as wide as a grown man's body, sat a young man, dressed in a dark green cloak, hiding most of his body from the world, only a part of his face being clearly visible.

From the looks of it, it seemed the young man was woken up by something, quickly glancing around while sitting up from his laid down position into a crouched one, analyzing the ground below for any dangers.

Although he was in close proximity to the village, none dared think this was a safe place to be around during the night much less sleep in it and Alex was well aware of the dangers it posed.

However he was, unfortunately, forced to sleep here by his master while he, the old man, was sleeping inside a warm bed in the village together with a few women to keep him busy.

Even though this enraged Alex to no end, he couldn't do anything about it as his master - Geralt - more or less forcefully kept Alex close to him after he saved the youth from a life of torture.

To be able to escape from Geralt, Alex had to be stronger than him or if the old man dies.

Geralt's actions weren't exactly righteous or mild towards others as well as towards Alex, meaning that he constantly put the latter into dangerous situations where the teen could very well die or at least be severely injured.

Despite this, Geralt wasn't a bad person and Alex knew this all to well, as he was just going through the same treatment and training his protector went through as well.

Sure enough, after a few more seconds, Alex managed to spot in the corner of his eye a moving shadow, causing him to quickly reorient himself towards the shadow's last position, but Alex's tense body quickly relaxed after seeing that the approaching shadow was his master.

'Speaking of the devil...' Alex mused to himself while watching the old man approach, seemingly unaware of Alex's location.

This month of New Blossom, marked four years since Alex was saved by Geralt and obviously in that amount of time he had picked up some tricks from his protector and/or from the people they encountered during their journeys and travels.

Although his master categorically forbid Alex to learn how to use mana, he himself was using it to augment his already almost out of this world senses and instincts. And although Geralt might seem hypocritical paradoxically he wasn't. As he always told Alex whenever he brought this subject up "what good does mana and magic do if you are unable to properly use it or to even channel it? You would be better off using only your body and your own power"

Be that as it may this didn't stop Alex from at least trying to learn a bit on his own, without Geralt's knowledge, after all 'How did the first men learn to use the power of mana, other than trying themselves? There weren't any seniors to teach them this'

Although Alex's line of thought wasn't particularly flawed, it was however extremely inefficient, time consuming and above all it didn't bring drastic improvements as he had to learn everything by himself, even the basics.

Back onto the branch, Alex calmly watched Geralt, approaching cautiously, while constantly minding his surroundings, trying to gather as much information as possible about everything that was going on around him.

Although Alex didn't know about this, his protector, Geralt, was using almost all the time a technique taught by the school he was once part of ( to clarify, the school mentioned is the same as the schools used in The Witcher games like the school of the wolf etc, and is not used as in proper schools, the latter are named in the novel as Academies or other similar names) used to increase the range of the user's senses, however it required mana in order to do so.

Usually the spells that were used to find someone or just to gather information about the surroundings required specific items in order to work, meaning that if one needed to find a Five Leaf White Tulip, they must have on hand either a magical scroll that has inscribed into it the magical signature of said herb, or they needed to have either a piece or the entire herb for the spell to work.

Basically this spell was like a sacrificial spell, or more like a super precise hound dog, as it needed something to go on, to find whatever one needed, however unlike this the technique that Geralt was using was almost completely different from almost every point, as firstly it didn't require any sort of lead to sense for something, it didn't look for just one single object and most importantly was the fact that this technique could find out even things that were dangerous to the user, without the latter even being aware of said danger.

This was the a major reason why did Geralt managed to live through almost impossible situations as it came in handy when you are about to be ambushed.

However as good as this technique is it has some disadvantages as well. To better explain the disadvantages we need to firstly understand how this spell works. If we imagine the pressure mana present in the air exerts as a special type of heat, then every living or even some unliving thing emanates a bit of "heat" that normally cannot be perceived by human' senses, but using this technique these heat spots reveal themselves to the users.

The reason why the user cannot perceive all the pressure of mana around him is not because he or she cannot sense it per se, but because it it filtered out, leaving just the hot spots thus creating sort of a concentric map with the user in the middle.

So knowing this it is fair to say that one big disadvantage is the amount of information the user receives while using this, so for learners this is one of the hardest techniques to master as they also have to learn how to filter even more information to lessen the burden on the mind, however this filtering also makes the 'map' harder to read because it basically takes out of his perspective obstacles such as trees or boulders or rocks or even holes in the ground.

Fortunately, this technique doesn't force the caster to close his eyes so he can, with a lot of training, overlap the two maps mentally giving him a whole new perspective over the world.

Also, a less known fact about the pressure excluded by living things, especially humanoid creatures as well as beasts and others, reflects the inner state of said creature in a mired of colors, which can be interpreted in various ways. Red usually means anger, rage, killing intent, hate etc., white means either purity, good intentions, a clear, unblemished character, or it could mean the death or lack of one's consciousness, so on and so forth.

Now as good as this technique is it cannot show the ones that deliberately conceal the pressure they exclude, or the things that are unable to exclude such pressure , such as a wide variety of rocks, trees, dirt, and even living creatures such as some humans, elves, dwarfs, and even dragons, minotaurs, phoenixes, manticores and others.

After a short while, Geralt arrived very close to the tree where Alex slept and was slowly walking away after not seeing or sensing anything out of particular, however Alex already took this opportunity and silently jumped down from the branch he was sitting on, twenty meters high, trying to catch Geralt by surprise.

Even as he fell, Alex did almost no sound whatsoever, and even the bit that still could be heard was mainly obscured by the surrounding sound.

Unfortunately, Alex still failed to ascertain just how sensitive his master's senses were as when Alex was just a few meters above the old man, the latter rolled away a few feet, dodging Alex's possible assault.

Alex fell onto the cold, wet ground with a heavy thud, totally in contrast with his until then silent actions, his weight crushing and snapping many twigs small or big, creating even more sound.

Although his feet and palms hurt due to the heavy impact, Alex still got up in less then a second, turning to face his master's position.

But even this short amount of time wasn't enough to defeat Geralt as right after Alex got up and turned to face Geralt, he was met with a strong punch into his stomach throwing him several meters back, being stopped only by the tree he slamed into.

However, instead of remorse or shock, Geralt was pleasantly surprised by Alex's attack

"You're getting better, almost got me this time" Geralt's voice was deep, but not too rough, it was more like the voice of a weathered general, who went through some shit in his lifetime.

"Did you know where I was from the beginning?" Asked Alex through clenched teeth, while clutching his left forearm with his right hand.

"No. I only heard you when you were very close to me, too close in fact. If not for the noise of you falling down, then I would've been defeated. And also you are getting faster as well"

As he was speaking, Geralt was walking towards Alex and took his left arm, rolled up his sleeve despite the teeth clenching pain Alex was going though, revealing a fist wide bruise and possibly a broken bone.

"Honestly, I didn't imagine you even seeing that attack, much less putting your arm up to defend. I have to say I'm impressed"

"Yeah yeah, whatever, why did you come here though?" Even though he feigned indifference, Alex was still happy to be praised deep down, after all it was a major achievement to be praised by the Ghost of Vanehir as this title as blood freezing as it was, it wasn't an empty title anyone can get.

"Oh, the Aventurer's Guild Chief wanted to talk with us about a more delicate matter so I came here to drag you back into the village" Answered the old man barely paying any attention to the young man's question, instead he focused most of his attention to tending the wound he caused.

Not long after answering, he also finished wrapping Alex's forearm in some bandage like material, but not before he also put a splint to hold his forearm in place.

"But why did he contact you at night?" Inquired Alex

"Well he didn't contact me at night, he only told me to meet up at night. Also he doesn't know about you like the others, so you have to cover up as always"

Alex nodded and got up with a bit of help from Geralt.

"Ready? Let's go"

After seeing Alex nod twice, Geralt turned around and started heading towards the village, with Alex closely behind.

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