Novel Asheva: A Summoner's Tale - [A Monster Tamer Progression LitRPG]

Discussion in 'Community Fictions' started by Aleth, Feb 26, 2024.

  1. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-58 Poison Test

    Ewan shook the test tube half-filled with his blood and poured in the extracted oil from a blood thinning herb. When they blended, he took out the yellow blob of poison he obtained from the scorpions and injected it into the blood.

    Iris.

    After the poison took effect, Ewan called for Iris to use her ‘Heal’ on the test tube while observing the process with his <Lens> spell. The poison wormed around at first, eroding the blood wherever it spread, it even killed the blood thinner’s effects and created black lumps that could cause necrosis inside a body. But when the spell’s blood glow covered the test tube, the poison came to a screeching halt. The spell trapped the poison and crammed it into a pea-sized drop. Soon it killed all the harmful particles in the poisonous blob and neutralized it. The now inactive yellow blob floated to the top, lifeless.

    He separated it from the blood and did random tests before finally concluding the success of Iris’s spell against poisons.

    “Nana,” he said. She sat by the side, feeding her new Astylind milk blended with a drop of Anima Potion he made. “Ask Luna to cast her healing spell.”

    Ewan repeated the same experiment with the bird. In the end, her spell too killed the poison and healed the blood. The effectiveness was about the same, both Iris and Luna were equally good against poisons. But Luna won the round, she was still Grade-D and was at a lower level than Iris.

    Doesn’t matter, you’re the best.

    Iris waved her roots and swayed at his caress, her innocent joy passing onto him. The initial weakness didn’t matter, the present was more important. And her real prowess would show up at higher grades, he had confidence in his Pa’s findings.

    ……

    “Where’re we going?” Nana asked, trailing behind Ewan. The clouds shaded the blinding sun, but it still peeped out from time to time and made its presence known, warming the remnants of the chilly wind.

    “Tram tracks, we’ll follow that to the outskirts. We’ll head to the market for today and rest there,” Ewan said.

    “Can't we head there directly?”

    “Do you know the way?”

    She fell silent for a second then shook her head.

    “I don’t either, and getting lost in this situation wouldn’t be good. That’s why the tracks. Now keep up or I’ll leave you behind,” he said.

    The two threaded the block’s streets, wary of their surroundings, peeking around corners. Nana strained her neck, running her eyes about the premise, while Ewan stretched his Ryvia to its limits, scanning everything inside the range. The area was devoid of its residents but screams and howls still echoed here and there. Each cry represented a scuffle, so whenever it happened, Ewan changed directions. Getting involved in someone else’s fight wasn’t on his priority list, not even at the last position.

    There was a t-section up ahead, roads going left and right, the lofty building in front casting its huge shadow on the ground. Before Ewan could get close and check the area though, a buzz resonated and halted his steps. He grabbed Nana’s collar and pulled her back too.

    “Do you hear that?” he asked.

    “What?” she asked back, fixing her round collar, and rubbing her neck.

    “Listen closely,” he said, gesturing to keep quiet.

    “It sounds like…insect wings?” she asked.

    Ewan nodded. “And more than one,” he said. “You take right, I’ll check left. Don’t make any noise and don’t freak out if you see anything disturbing.”

    She mouthed a soundless okay and tiptoed towards the right wall. Ewan also went to check the left after Nana approached the corner.

    When he peeked out, his heart skipped a beat and his neck tightened, he gulped. His bestial instinct gave him an orange alert, a shiver ran down his spine. A swarm of fist-sized bees hummed above a dead bear, the head-sized queen bee hovering at the top. There were in dozens if not hundreds, the bear never stood any chance. Some bees were hard at work, carving the bear’s body and turning it into their hive, while some gathered the dead bees and stacked them in a pile by the side.

    Soon the spell circuit that the Crown had set up in the colony to gather blood activated and sucked the dead bear and the dead bees dry, leaving only the withered carcasses and several Astylind Cores behind. The bear’s was a deep soil-colored core of the earth element, while the bees’ were light beige of the wood.

    Novas…

    His greed for profit buried his sense of danger. That was a pile of Novas, and more Novas droning in the air. Even though they all were Level-0, their combined price could earn both Ewan and Nana a decent amount. Yet, at the same time, their combined prowess could also snuff their breaths. He had to tread carefully, especially with the queen bee. He couldn’t allow her to control the swarm.

    “Nana.” He extended his Ryvia and sent his voice to her ears. “Come here quietly,” he whispered. “Do you see that?” he asked, letting her peek at the bees. “We can make a good amount if we hunt them.”

    “O-Okay,” she said, controlling her trembling hands, holding a deep breath in. “Rock paper scissor again.” Her face looked determined to win, flushed even.

    “What? No, no baits this time,” Ewan said. She heaved her held breath and her shoulders slouched. “You have alcohol with you, right? Take it out.”

    “W-What? I-I don’t!” She tensed up again and shook her head, her eyes widening.

    “Just take them out,” he said, taking another glance at the bees around the corner.

    “I-I really don’t….,” she said, shrinking her neck, her volume went down.

    Ewan clicked his tongue at her; his nose flared. She lowered her head and finally handed him a bottle from her pendant.

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [3rd Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.4

    Spirit: 6.8

    Anima: [Fire – 6.8 | Ice – 6.8 | Blood – 6.8]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [3rd Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes.
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 192
    Crelith: 4984
     
  2. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-59 Bees

    “I need more,” he said, beckoning at her.

    “I-I don’t…,” she said in a mosquito voice but still handed him several more. “I only kept them as memento, I don’t drink anymore.” She heaved a deep breath and stared at Ewan with her shimmering eyes of the hazel shade.

    “You don’t need to explain, it’s your life, you can live as you wish,” he said, cracking the seals of the bottles and stuffing them with rags. He was making the poor man’s firebomb.

    Nana lowered her head again, tears welling up in her eyes.

    “Okay, its ready. We’ll talk later, just stick close to me for now and support with spells if I need it.”

    Ice Dagger!

    He stuffed all his Ice-Anima in the spell circuit and cast the most powerful version of the spell he could use at his current level. Four sharp daggers condensed in front of him, floating on his command, amplifying his Ryvia, and ready to slaughter at his intent.

    Blood Rein!

    He did the same with this spell and used all his Blood-Anima, it became the strongest defense he could cast right now. The blood blob hovered among the daggers, contrasting the red against the white, as Luna healed his slit wrist. Frost and Orange were also out and ready to support him, their levels were more than enough to fight this battle.

    Throwing the cocktails by hand could expose his position, so Ewan hurled the first one with his Ryvia after kindling the rag with <Ember>. The bottle traced an arc, barreling through the air, the flaming rag fluttering, and erupted with an expanding fire in the middle of the swarm. The bees frenzied, several burnt crisp and died. The queen flew higher in panic; her vibrating wings buzzed the air around. The tongues of flame couldn’t reach her at this height.

    Ewan burned the second and slung it, and then another. The spreading fire killed one after another, it thinned the oozing swarm. The rising hot air singed their flimsy wings and hindered their flight, many dropped to their deaths, pruning the swarm further.

    It’s time.

    Ewan turned towards Nana and smiled. “Now, go be the bait,” he said, patting her shoulder.

    “What?” she whispered in alarm again and clutched his t-shirt. “I-I’ll die this time for sure.” She made a crying face.

    “No, you won't.” He freed his t-shirt from her grip. “Just stand there, I’ll do the rest,” he said, pointing at the middle of the road.

    Her knees buckled, her shoulders trembled, but she followed his words and walked over, her boots scraping the asphalt.

    The blazing fire wasn’t good for his ice daggers, so he needed the surviving bees to move away from it before he attacked.

    The bees reacted to Nana, the air around the queen bee throbbed. Their buzzing intensified and the swarm arrowed towards Nana.

    Come closer…closer….

    Ewan observed the queen bee, hiding behind the wall, waiting for the chance to appear. Nana took deep breaths, huffing and puffing, and quivered as the swarm closed in. She was in their range now, so Ewan compressed the air in front of her and created an invisible shield. He couldn’t use the blood shield, it could scare the queen away, he needed her close and in his range. And for normal Level-0 bees, his Ryvia defense was enough. The only concern was how long he could hold on for. Worst case scenario, he would go all out and fight the swarm. He couldn’t let them harm Nana….

    Luckily, his plan worked, and the agitated queen bee rushed towards Nana with her soldiers. The weaker bees stabbed their stinger but couldn’t break the invisible defense. Nana looked around, surrounded by the droning insects, her eyes widening, then stared at Ewan.

    Her stare might’ve given away his position, but the chance was already here, he didn’t need to wait anymore. His four daggers cleaved the air as they zoomed towards the queen. The surprise attack succeeded, and the daggers sliced her apart, ending her life in one strike. Her pieces thudded down on the street, dead with not even a twitch left in her.

    Ewan bolted towards Nana and unfurled the blood dome, covering both inside. His daggers danced outside on his command, taking one life with one move. Orange and Frost too attacked at will and killed with each strike. The remaining bees were only Level-0, unlike the queen, and no one controlled them, so the rest was only tedious work with little danger.

    “D-Do you really not care?” Nana clutched his t-shirt and sobbed with her head resting on his back.

    “What?” The sudden change surprised him. “It’s fine now, don’t cry, I already dealt with them,” he said.

    “Y-You don’t care if I drink again?” she asked, her tears and snot drenching his t-shirt.

    “Like I said, it’s your life, you can live as you wish, I won't interfere. I don’t think I have the right to anymore.”

    She sobbed harder and tightened her grip, her nails dug into his skin.

    Ewan finally sighed; she had long chipped his defenses and her tears broke it down. “Then listen to me, never touch that shit again. Stop wasting your life away in bottles, I’ll rip your hair off if you ever do,” he scolded and turned to look at her. She sniffed and hiccupped but held a faint smile on her face. “Jeez, the sudden mood swings,” he said under his breath.

    The flitting daggers and his Astylinds ended the battle outside. Dead bees blanketed the street, their corpses withering by the second. The tiny cores coming out of their remains rolled around.

    “Let’s gather the loot and move away quickly.”

    It was a loud battle, it could attract unwanted attention, especially the blazing fire that had yet to die.

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [3rd Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.4

    Spirit: 6.8

    Anima: [Fire – 6.8 | Ice – 0.3 | Blood – 0.3]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [3rd Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes.
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients; Astylind Cores.


    Novas: 192
    Crelith: 4984
     
  3. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-60 Burden

    The tram tracks led the way, Ewan and Nana followed it, heading to the market. Rubble and debris replaced the intact houses and buildings; the sides painted the picture of absolute destruction. The only missing piece was the corpses—which by the courtesy of the new Crown wasn’t an issue anymore—and the scene of carnage would’ve been complete.

    “How much further?” Nana asked, looking around, sticking close to Ewan.

    “Shouldn’t be too far,” Ewan said, his vigilance at its peak. The pin-drop silence tested the limits of his nerves, even his Ryvia didn’t give him much comfort. The sun had traced it routine and edged on the horizon; the day had set, and the night would begin. An ambush was the last thing he wanted in these conditions.

    “That’s what you said last time,” she whispered.

    “I’ll say the same when you ask again.” Her sudden mood changes aside, bickering with her eased his mind, he was glad of her company right now.

    “Why is it so silent here?” she muttered, grabbing the edge of his t-shirt.

    “'Cause everyone’s dead,” Ewan said.

    She gripped harder. “You didn’t have to tell me that.”

    Still, it was unusually quiet in this area, his brows wrinkled. Even if the residents died, some Astylinds should’ve been active. The howls, the roars, and the bays, they sounded faint, so far away. His instinct was throbbing again.

    He braked; Nana bumped into his back. His nostrils twitched as he sniffed, the floral smell was stifling the hint of urine in the air, he only differentiated them now as a strong stink wafted by him. This was different from the stench on the outskirts. Much stronger, more pungent, and distinctive; this was deliberate.

    Ewan turned and looked at Nana who was rubbing her nose. “Did you wear perfume?” he asked. She smelled like the night-blooming jasmine again.

    “I didn’t, it makes my throat itchy,” she said.

    “What’s this floral scent then?”

    “My hair? I washed it before leaving, it’s your favorite smell,” she said with a beaming smile.

    “Stay here, don’t move,” he said, stepping away from her. The moment he left her range, a heavy reek of urine assaulted his nose.

    Fuck…

    This intentional spread of piss, it could only mean one thing—someone had marked this territory. And because he missed it, they now stood in the middle of it.

    “You’ll be the death of us someday,” he said, grabbing Nana’s hand and racing to the nearest high-rise building. It was one of the few in the area that stood intact with little damage to its structure.

    “W-What happened?” she asked, matching Ewan’s pace by force.

    “We can't go in this way, let’s climb,” he said. Wreckages blocked the only entrance; it would take too long to clear it. And the stairs’ condition wasn’t clear either.

    So, he climbed. He jumped, latched, flipped, pulled, and his agility saw him on the roof in seconds. Nana stood on the ground, gawking at him.

    “Come up, do what I did,” he said, looking down from the edge of the roof railing.

    “I-I can't,” she said.

    “You can, just follow my instructions. First, grab onto that.” He pointed at the lowest ledge. But before she had moved an inch, a wolf bayed; the sound came from the vicinity.

    Shit!

    Ewan looked to the side, a pack of black and orange furred wolves sprinted towards them, threading through and over the rubble. A wolf one size larger than the others led them with its lasting howl.

    “Hurry! Climb!!” he yelled.

    “What?” She looked where he was looking. Her face whitened; her knees trembled, she backed off, stumbling. “I-I…” Tears rolled down her cheeks as she looked up at Ewan.

    The wolves’ fangs would soon crush her throat and snuff her breath, they would tear her apart. In seconds, she would be no more.

    She was weak, she cried a lot, she pulled him back and was a burden on him. She wasn’t even good bait, and made irrational decisions based on emotions. Would he be devastated if she died? A question assaulted him. Would he care if she didn’t exist anymore? No one to save, no one to protect, no one to look after, he would become free. No one would pester him, no one would bicker with him, no one would annoy him anymore….

    “AH!! FUCK!!!”

    But she was Nana…

    His spirit strained to its limits and beyond, dust and stones blasted away from him, pieces of concrete powdered under pressure. His Ryvia exploded and flashed to the ground, to where Nana was. His face reddened, veins popped up on his forehead, he grinded his teeth and growled a desperate roar.

    The area around Nana became a void, it forced all the air out. She gasped and struggled to breathe, clutching her throat, stretching her high-neck collar. The wolves collided against the invisible barrier and halted, they snarled. This single moment of respite was enough for Ewan. He concentrated his spirit on Nana and yanked her up. She soared in the air with a rolling scream, flailing about, and before the hungry wolves’ eyes, gently landed onto the roof safe and sound.

    “E-Ewan,” she said, sniffing, her legs wobbling, and her knees buckled.

    “Don’t…talk to me right now,” Ewan said, clutching the railing as his support, blood trickling down his nose and eyes. His ears rang and her voice stung him. He was nauseous, his stomach churned, and the retch beat on his throat with each heave. The throbbing wave of pain hammered his head and the world spun before his eyes, there were three Nana in front of him, soon she split into four.

    I’m…never…doing that again…blegh…

    “D-Does it hurt?” she asked with a worried face.

    “Don’t talk…just let me lie down for a while,” he whispered, leaning on her as she came close. Her lap became his pillow, and he closed his eyes while she wiped the blood off his face and cleaned him up as tears trickled down her cheeks.

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Injured

    Step-0 [3rd Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.4

    Spirit: 6.8

    Anima: [Fire – 6.8 | Ice – 6.8 | Blood – 6.8]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [3rd Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes.
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 192
    Crelith: 4984
     
  4. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-61 Tickets

    “We are in quite a bind,” Ewan muttered, peeking down the roof ledge. The glowing crowd of fiery-white eyes stared at them from under the veil of night, surrounding the building they were on. Trapped on an island ringed by hungry sharks who eyed them, this was quite a fresh experience, a hint of excitement sneaked behind his apprehension.

    “How do we leave?” Nana whispered, standing beside him, her hands painted in dried blood, dried tears marking her cheeks.

    Ewan panned his eyes around, there were some other buildings in the area, and at the same height. But the distance in between was too great to cover in a simple jump, more so if he had to carry one person with him. His Ryvia wasn’t strong enough to support him through either. And the memory of the strain and the backlash was too fresh to force it. Luckily, it just resulted in sprained spirit last time and some popped veins, nothing too serious. A persisting throbbing headache was his only punishment for it, and a healthy and breathing Nana was his reward.

    “If we get trapped on that….” Ewan checked from the rest of the ledges. The buildings in the vicinity had intact entrances. If the wolves were smart enough, they could trap the two on them and climb the stairs. “Let’s not jump over recklessly.”

    Their current situation was a stalemate, they couldn’t run but the wolves couldn’t reach them either. And the longer it sustained, the more the status quo would lean in Ewan’s favor. His ‘Spirit’ would soon peak and break through to the fourth awakening, it was only a matter of a day. Not an overwhelming advantage but it would give them an edge for sure. It would be better to stay on this building for now.

    “I’m hungry, cook me something,” Ewan said, turning to Nana.

    “Now? They’ll smell it,” she whispered.

    Ewan snickered, baring his fangs with malice. “Yeah. I’m betting on that,” he said. They trapped him up here, a little payback torture was owed.

    ……

    Under the starry sky, Ewan ogled the sizzling pieces of marinated chicken thigh in the pan, its aroma making his mouth water. His stomach grumbled, and he gulped.

    “How much longer?” he asked.

    “Almost done,” Nana said, taking out the dishware from her tear-shaped pendant and pouring in the salad she made on the side. She poked the searing thighs for a moment then put them to the side to rest and switched off the stove.

    “You’re better than me,” Ewan said, looking at her cook with ease. Her hands looked practiced.

    “Mum taught me.” She smiled.

    “I still remember her food. Pa tried to copy and failed so many times.” Ewan chuckled. “He always made me taste them; they were horrible.”

    The alpha wolf bayed, and the rest of his pack cried with him. The silence of the starry night shattered.

    “What was that? Are they attacking?” Nana asked, looking around warily, clutching the knife with a piece of onion stuck on it.

    “No,” he said, his lips curling into a sneer. “It’s a threat. The smell of food agitated them.”

    “How’d you know?” she asked, still grasping the knife handle.

    “Instinct,” Ewan said. “Can't explain.”

    She bobbed her head and loosened her grip.

    “Let’s eat, I can't wait anymore,” he said.

    ……

    The saffron barrier was barely visible against the canvas of the night sky, the twinkling stars blurring it even more. Ewan sat cross legged, his stomach satiated, craning up at the cage. Nana curled up in the quilt beside him, her wheezing slow and steady, and her eyes scuttled under the lids—must be a thrilling dream. Even the wolves had calmed down and only a few glowing orbs still stared at them. The songs of the nocturnal insects echoed and kept the stillness of the night, the peace returned.

    What basis did this barrier work on? How much energy did it cost? How could it support its structure and still defend against the attacks? Ewan’s mind churned. Studying the cage was a necessity if he wanted to get out of this mess. But it was too stable and tranquil. He had to make it react to see the changes, the more violent the better.

    So, he hurled a pebble at it and readied his <Lens> spell.

    The pebble struck it and bounced off, the part where it hit flashed a deep saffron then dulled again. Ewan squinted. Hexagonal nodes had appeared in the area, connected to each other. Finally, he had a lead to work with. He took out his diary and pen and started experimenting.

    Pebbles rained on the cage through the night, some scratching it, some smacking it hard, their feeble ripples powerless against the grand barrier. But the small reactions they produced filled Ewan’s dairy with speculations, theories, and conclusions—some with dead ends, while some fruitful.

    The core of the cage was the nodes, it was a decentralized barrier. His hypothesis branched off from this inference. He couldn’t calculate the energy needed to maintain such a barrier but saw some success in approximating the energy required to destroy it. Its connected structure allowed it to share the damage with the neighboring nodes if the attacking energy exceeded a single node’s capacity. Half a meter nodes covered this massive colony, so they must number in millions. If Ewan wanted to destroy this cage, he had to attack with enough energy to destroy the whole thing at once…

    He inhaled and exhaled a deep breath; the result worsened his headache. He had to find a way to reduce the energy needed, a change in approach was vital. The nodes must take defensive measures against outside attacks, it would spike the power required to demolish it even further. What if it wasn’t an attack then? What if he changed the method?

    His mind went to his spell <Boom>. This spell used the material as a catalyst and altered their structure to create an explosion. If he could modify it to work with higher energy levels, he could succeed in shrinking the force needed.

    “You didn’t sleep?” Nana asked, rubbing her sleepy eyes, and fixing her bed hair. Ewan looked at her then at the sky; it had grayed, the sun’s arc loomed at the horizon.

    “I was studying the cage,” he said, shutting his diary, rubbing his forehead, and massaging the temples.

    “Did you find anything? Can we break out?”

    “No, we can't even dent it.”

    Her face fell and her shoulders slouched. “Will we be okay….”

    Ewan smiled. “We can't dent it, but I found a way to destroy it.” He asserted the word ‘we’. “I’m going to sell that method and its preventive measure to the Crown and buy our tickets out.”

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [3rd Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.4

    Spirit: 6.8

    Anima: [Fire – 6.8 | Ice – 6.8 | Blood – 6.8]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [3rd Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes.
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 192
    Crelith: 4984
     
  5. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-62 Wolves

    “…Will he agree? Won't he just kill us?” Nana asked.

    Ewan shrugged. “Let’s just hope he’s rational enough.”

    “What if he reneges after getting the methods?”

    He shook his head. “I don’t have any means to prevent that.” There was a vast gulf between them and the new Crown, massive enough that the success of any transaction relied on the other party’s goodwill. They were powerless to affect the status quo.

    “Should we get a contract? He wouldn’t go against the Airadia’s sentience, would he?” Nana said.

    “Who knows, he might just kill us for proposing that,” Ewan said. “And the contract’s not binding enough. He can still kill us if he wants to, he’ll just have to pay a bit.”

    “So, we’re at his mercy….,” she said.

    “We were already at his mercy the moment he trapped us inside the cage. Now just hope the method I develop intrigues him enough to let us go.”

    She sighed, her face downcast.

    “Don’t be so depressed, it’s not all grim. At least he showed he cared for Ashevas by messaging us, even if it was only for appearance. If we handle this well, we might succeed. And I’ll be telling him how to fix the blind spot of his cage, it should interest him.”

    “I’ll buy the contract anyway, it’s better to have it than not,” she said.

    Ewan nodded. “Go, freshen up,” he said. “Use the floor below, don’t go any lower. I’ll send Frost with you; he’ll keep an eye out.”

    If the alpha had even an ounce of intelligence, it would leave a part of the pack to surround the building while going out to hunt. So, unless Ewan and Nana could kill them all, leaving wasn’t a possibility right now. And if they had to stay, it was better to be comfortable. Moping around cursing the damn wolves would only waste time.

    “I’ll go first then,” Nana said and walked away with Frost tailing her.

    ……

    Rest consumed a few hours; Nana worked on something by the side in secret while Ewan dove back into his calculation afterwards. Modification of <Boom> was necessary for the first part. But he had to focus more on developing the second stage, the method to fix the weakness he found. If he just presented the way to destroy the cage to the Crown, it would come off as a threat and not a transaction. The scenario would not end well for them. If he could fix that weakness instead and use it as his betting chip, it might interest the Crown enough to let them go. He wagered on that chance.

    The nodes shared the damage with their neighbors, so they should share the Fire-Anima poured in by the <Boom> spell too. Ewan presumed the positive rather than the negative and worked his way from there. Destruction of the cage would follow the same pattern with the spell as it would with the brute force, all the nodes would still have to shatter at once. The advantage with the spell lay in its drastically reduced Anima needed to do so—this was the method to destroy the cage.

    What if he added a layer of Anima around the nodes? It would clash against the Fire-Anima and make it difficult to travel from one node to another. The energy needed would spike again in that case—this was the method to prevent that destruction.

    It might work….

    Anima of all elements existed in peace in their natural form. But when employed, they clashed and resisted each other… This occurrence would stumble his solution and increase the cost of maintaining the cage.

    Cost to performance ratio, he had to find a good balance. If he could add a trigger to the barrier that would act against spells like <Boom> and create a layer of Anima around nodes only when attacked, it could drag the cost down.

    Was it earth? Ewan stared at the cage, tapping his pen on the diary, wondering what its element was. It wasn’t fire, it wasn’t blood, it wasn’t ice either. He couldn’t see any Anima around the barrier, so it was neither of the three. The saffron color hinted towards the earth element, and it was also the one with the strongest defense. So, the Anima layer around the nodes had to be of the earth element too, to prevent any internal clashes. He nodded, and buried his face back into the diary, scribbling away.

    ……

    “Ewan, they’re leaving,” Nana said, peeking down the ledge.

    Ewan frowned and put away his diary. “All of them?” he asked.

    “Hmm.”

    “Shouldn’t be… Is he baiting us?” he murmured, joining her on the edge.

    The alpha glanced back at them and sauntered away, the pack following his lead.

    “Are they preparing to ambush us?” she asked.

    “Maybe…maybe he’s planning something else,” Ewan muttered, looking around the buildings in the vicinity. The gap was too big for him, but the wolves could cover it in a single jump. Was the alpha using the night as a cover to attack from the other buildings’ roof? Was he smart enough to plan it? Or was this a simple ambush?

    Don’t underestimate, don’t underestimate….

    He could prevent the first by destroying the entrances. Even if his spells wouldn’t reach from up here, he could climb down and demolish them when they came in range. But it would only throw the situation back into a stalemate, he would be in a passive situation again. It was better to counter the alpha’s plan and kill as many as he could during their raid.

    And if it was the latter, staying here would render it null anyway.

    Identify.

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [3rd Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.4

    Spirit: 6.9

    Anima: [Fire – 6.9 | Ice – 6.9 | Blood – 6.9]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [3rd Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes.
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 192
    Crelith: 4984


    His spirit had peaked, he was ready to break through to the fourth awakening. He had to take the chance; it would be helpful if a fight broke out.

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------
     
  6. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-63 Bloodlust

    Orange, Frost, and Nana stood around at a distance, watching over Ewan, while he sat cross-legged in the center, trying to break through the thin barrier. Thin yet indelible, it appeared to be. The flimsy wall looked gigantic right now, nigh impregnable.

    His face was feverish, flushed, and he gritted his teeth as his spirit boiled, the surging waves crashing against the blockade to break through. Yet, the imminent threat of the wolves fractured his concentration. His long-held breath congested his chest, his lungs bloated, his throat sored from the involuntary growls, and the peril of the cage and the new Crown yanked him out of his immersion. Veins popped on his strained neck, and he trembled harder by the second.

    Finally, he couldn’t sustain it anymore and let go, heaving hard, the color on his face receding to the fair skin. His spirit calmed down as his posture eased. He failed in his breakthrough attempt; he rubbed his forehead and combed his wet hair back, taking deep breaths.

    “Did you succeed?” Nana asked, sniffing. “There’s no sweet smell.”

    “I failed, can't concentrate here. Let’s deal with the fucking wolves first, I’ll try again after that,” he said, the frustration poking his patience. “Do you want to try? You’re at the peak too, right?”

    “I-I don’t know if I’ll succeed,” she said. “Even you failed….”

    “What? Rubbing salt now?” he asked rhetorically. “You don’t use your brain much, you won't have any problems, just give it a try.”

    “What? I’ve always been smart,” she said. “You always lost to me in crossword puzzles.”

    “I’m one year younger, what’re you doing comparing yourself to a child,” he said.

    Her nostrils flared. “I’ll fail too!” She stomped to the center and sat cross-legged where Ewan sat before.







    At the end of the minutes, a syrupy sweet smell invaded Ewan’s premises—Nana succeeded in her breakthrough.

    Is she really dumb…

    His lips twitched as he gaped, leaning on the ledge with his arms crossed. “What? Too embarrassed to open your eyes?” He smirked.

    “D-Don’t talk to me, I haven’t broken through yet,” she said, her ears reddening.

    “You think my nose is for show?” he asked, laughing, but frowned a second later and looked down from the roof edge. “Get ready, they’re here.” His emerald-green glowing eyes pierced the cloak of darkness and watched the wolves sneaking towards the nearest building.

    ……

    Ewan and Nana hid behind the roof railing that faced the building the wolves were coming from, their Astylinds with them, ready to assault.

    “Let’s see how many lives it’ll take before you figure it out….,” Ewan murmured. His Ryvia expanded, its edge touching the other building. The wolves inched up the stairs in a line, their razor-sharp claws retracted in their paws, but the faint scratches against the marbled steps still grazed Ewan’s ears.

    They took position on the other roof, and he got ready too, cutting off all other distractions and focusing on this one task. Subtlety was essential for his plan, and it required his full attention. One wolf galloped, speeding into a sprint with each step, and vaulted off the roof edge. Others raced behind it. The force it had was more than enough to reach Ewan’s and Nana’s rooftop.

    However…

    Ewan condensed his Ryvia and compressed the air in the wolves’ path, making it denser. The first wolf decelerated in the air and arced down before it could reach the other roof. It flailed its limbs, crying, and finally plunged to its death with its long howl fading away, clonking with a splatter of flesh and gore.

    The other wolves also jumped one after another. And like the first one, the dense air hindered them, and they all dove to their deaths, their maimed remains, bloody and gory, carpeted the ground below. The alpha stood at the end of the line, glaring at Ewan’s roof, but didn’t make any moves.

    “You are an Astylind after all, can't compare to a Staron,” Ewan mumbled, then he winced as his scalp stung. “Stop pulling my hair, I’m not insulting you guys,” he whispered, trying to save his hair from Orange. “How’d you understand that anyway?”

    “You…deserve it,” Nana muttered.

    ……

    Half his pack fell to their deaths before the alpha bayed and stopped them.

    “Too late, my Orange is much smarter than you,” Ewan sniggered, while pacifying and stroking the little monkey in his arms. “You are too.” He patted Frost and caressed his horns.

    Nana gaped at them from the side. “You really work hard…,” she said.

    Ewan ignored her humorous sarcasm and stood up, facing the alpha. “Was that all?” he hollered, taunting the wolves in preparation for the next spell. And the more reckless and wilder they were, the better it was for him. “Deal with this next,” he said. Though his words couldn’t cross the boundary of their languages, his intent would.

    Bloodlust!

    He aimed at the nearest wolf and triggered the spell. The alpha was their leader, but he didn’t hold absolute control over them, like Severynths and their contracted Astylinds. The tiny thread of dominance it had snapped when the spell took effect. The targeted wolf’s eyes reddened, its muscles tightened, and it snarled at its brethren, saliva dripping down its mouth.

    The fight ended soon as the alpha put the frenzied wolf down, ripping its throat. But not before it took one other life. The large wolf glared at Ewan, growling.

    “I have more Blood-Anima. Don’t worry, your chance will come too,” Ewan said, staring back at the alpha, holding a blood red crystal in his hand.

    Bloodlust!

    He targeted another wolf and cast the spell. But the alpha reacted fast this time and smashed the wolf’s head open before it could make its move.

    Ewan scoffed. “Doesn’t matter, you’re still doing my bidding,” he said. “Kill your own pack, I’ll end you when you stand alone.”

    Bloodlust!

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [3rd Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.4

    Spirit: 6.9

    Anima: 17.4 [Fire – 6.9 | Ice – 6.9 | Blood – 3.6]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [3rd Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes.

    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.

    Novas: 192
    Crelith: 4984


     
  7. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-64 Yurn

    The pack lay lifeless in their own pool of blood, their bodies mangled. The alpha stood atop their death, unsteady and panting, blood dripping down its furs, but still growled at Ewan, its eyes bloodshot.

    “Let’s end that undying pride of yours,” he muttered, raising both his hands to the sides, casting his <Ice Daggers>.

    The four daggers amplified his Ryvia, his range stretched and reached the alpha. Its prolonged usage and the non-stop casting spells already gave him a pulsating headache, the amplification only worsened it, but he endured. He could rest after taking care of this nuisance.

    Orange.

    The little monkey bellowed a war cry and launched at the alpha from one of the invisible platforms, zipping past the gap between the buildings.

    The alpha roared, orange-glazed orbs of fire condensed around him, orbiting him in a pattern of ‘eight’. Orange feinted a punch, then vaulted up from another platform, and pounded down on him. The fire orb defended against the attack as the alpha howled and backed away. The punch exploded the orb; the concrete floor cracked with a burst of fire.

    Ewan lifted his brows. The alpha preserved his Anima for this fight, his pack couldn’t even bring out his best.

    Go, stand by.

    Frost floated to the other building with his Ryvia, his eyes squeezed shut when he flew over the gap, and stood to the side, ready to support with his ice.

    Orange blasted left and right and up and down, exploding from platform to platform that Ewan created one after another, clobbering the orbs with his erupting Fire-Anima. His afterimages trailed him, and his salvo boomed in the area. The alpha always reacted a step too late, but his regenerating orbs protected him. He howled, Orange roared back in his childlike voice and belted him, another orb came in between.

    Ewan checked his Blood-Anima, it had recovered enough for one more cast.

    Should be fine…

    Bloodlust!

    He aimed at Orange, his heart pounding with anxiety, he gulped and exhaled a parched breath. This was the first time he cast this spell on his own Astylind. His confidence in his Pa propelled this decision, but his Astylinds were his family, even a slight chance of any negative impact scared him.

    The little monkey’s eyes reddened, he tried a deep mature growl that his throat couldn’t cash, Fire-Anima billowing around him. Ewan readied the Ryvia platforms as Orange flashed, leaving a lasting afterimage behind. One orb shattered, the second fractured, and the third exploded, their regeneration couldn’t keep up with Orange anymore.

    Punches rained on the alpha, their reverberating echoes flattening in a single boom. He evaded left and right, but Orange followed, and Ewan supported him. The final orb dimmed down; the alpha’s Anima must be running low.

    Now!

    Orange zoomed in front of the wolf and pummeled him, punches after punches. The last orb burst, and the final punch hammered down, burying the wolf’s head in the concrete with a ground shaking thud, blood seeping out from the hole.

    There was no life left in the alpha anymore, Ewan confirmed it when Frost signaled at its soul.

    “Go, eat. Bring back the cores too,” he said.

    He called Orange back to rest and brought Toast out. The kitten meowed and jumped on his chest, snuggling and getting comfortable in his arms.

    “Stop lazing around, go help Frost.”

    Ewan flicked his jaw and floated him to the other building. The little kitten flailed and whined, but his Ryvia didn’t stop. Orange met Toast in the air and smacked him with his weary face, cackling. The kitten screeched and resisted harder, trying to scratch Orange, but his Ryvia still didn’t stop. It finally delivered Toast to the other side, and gently dropped him.

    “How many do you have?” Nana asked, staring at the grumpy kitten reluctantly following the imp.

    “Four,” Ewan said. “What’s your limit?”

    “Three.”

    “Contract another as soon as you can then. Did you sell both the scorpions? You should have enough to buy one more, right?” He caught Orange and petted him as the little monkey curled up in his arms.

    “Hmm.” Nana nodded. “I’ll start looking.”

    Ewan glanced at her from the corner of his eyes. “Choose properly this time.”

    “I-I will,” she said.

    …….

    “Where’re we going?” Nana asked, following Ewan out of the building.

    “Let’s stay in the area. Their marking is still fresh, other Astylinds will consider it the pack’s territory. I need some rest, we’ll move again when I break through,” Ewan said, minding his steps over the rubble, his Ryvia reined in to rest his spirit.

    “Ewan.” She grabbed his sleeve. “I-I made this for you, your birthday gift,” she said, handing him a charcoal-black neck gaiter with faint alabaster runes striping around it—velour to touch with a soft elastic stretch.

    “Is this what you were making?” he asked, gliding his finger on the velvet cloth. “How much did you spend?” The fabric alone would cost a fortune.

    “I-I was making it with normal clothes at first, but then I found the materials that dad left for me in the hub, so I switched to an artifact. It didn’t cost much,” she said.

    “So, it’s cheap then.” Ewan smirked.

    “Give it back if you don’t want it.” She reached for the gaiter.

    “Nope,” Ewan said, putting it on. “It’s mine now.”

    He adjusted it to his comfort, pulled it up to cover half his face then pulled it down. The fit was perfect, and he loved the aesthetics. The cloth didn’t hinder his nose either, custom made artifacts were indeed the best, especially when the creator was his fiancé and knew him inside out.

    “What’s this for?” he tapped on the runes and asked.

    “It’ll protect against <Identify> and dim your presence,” she said. “Mark it with your spirit, it’ll start working. It can also keep up with you.”

    “Did you give it a name yet?”

    “No.”

    “Call it ‘Yurn’ then.” He pronounced it ‘yearn’ with the ‘Atarin’ phonetic, smiling and caressing his neck gaiter.

    “Shadow? It fits.”

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [3rd Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.4

    Spirit: 6.9

    Anima: [Fire – 6.9 | Ice – 6.9 | Blood – 6.9]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [3rd Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes; Yurn [Neck Gaiter].
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 192
    Crelith: 4984
     
  8. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-65 4th Awakening

    The battery lamp fluctuated, its dim white light chasing away the darkness from the office. Nana sat on the cold metal table, holding her knees, her hub-connector in front of her. Frost trained beside Ewan on the carpeted floor, sitting far enough not to disturb his breakthrough attempt.

    Orange guarded them all with Toast lolling around him, licking his tiny paws, and Iris resting on the kitten’s head.

    Ewan opened his eyes as his billowing pool of spirit settled down. His second try succeeded; the expanding cloud of sugary smell was its proof. Though consecutive attempts in a single night wore him down, the exhilaration of taking another step eclipsed it. An overall boost to his spec was more reassuring than anything else. His spirit, his spells, his Ryvia, it even enhanced his stagnant vitality by a notch.

    Inhaled and exhaled, he took a deep breath and calmed down.

    He couldn’t rest yet. A Severynth’s strength lay in his Astylinds, Ewan couldn’t let his own trail behind him. Else, his combat prowess would take a hit for sure, but the crippled feedback would ruin him even more. If his Astylinds didn’t progress, he too would halt forever, only to rot away in obscurity.

    Grade…level….

    Either could propel them, both would increase the feedback, and neither was a one-time thing.

    Raising their grades had better returns, but its success rate was lower in comparison, not to mention the difficulty of brewing their potions. To take the risk of wasting time, effort, and Novas, or go for the surefire Anima Potion, he considered hard…

    In the end, the better returns tipped his mind in its favor.

    Identify!

    [Astylind Name: Imp (Ice-Variant)]

    [Astylind Level: Level-4]

    [Astylind Grade: Grade-C]

    [Anima Affinity: Ice]

    [Skills: Ice-Favored]

    [Gender: Male]

    [Description: Natives of Alvodor. Their talents and affinity vary based on their bloodline. But most are capable of decent spellcasting and melee combat.]

    [Grade-Exalt Requirements: Astylind Core (Ice), Demon’s Horn (Ice-Variant), Glacial Dust (Class-A), Frost Flower, Crystal Salt.]

    [Remark 1: Low wisdom. Barely crossing the line. Possibility of taming and rearing is high.]

    [Remark 2: Basic contract doesn’t work. Success rate might increase with a modified spell circuit.]

    [Remark 3: Hah, I’m a master of a Demon now. But too much torture broke his mind. Tch!]

    [Remark 4: Modified spell circuit succeeded; the contract was a success. No oppression needed. Changing their format in the database, the contracted ones will be noted ‘Astylind’ from now on.]



    [Astylind Name: Fire Monkey (Mutant)]

    [Astylind Level: Level-3]

    [Astylind Grade: Grade-C]

    [Anima Affinity: Fire]

    [Skills: Fire-Recipient]

    [Gender: Male]

    [Description: Natives of Airadia. They are blessed with decent fire-element affinity (Recipient) but lack the skill to make use of it.]

    [Grade-Exalt Requirements: Astylind Core (Fire), Lava Berry (Fresh), Fire Sand (Class-A), Sunmetal, Scorching Grass.]

    [Remark 1: Can be trained as a vanguard but require more attention with the elemental skills.]

    [Remark 2: They look cool, so can make them your mascot.]

    [Remark 3: I agree with the second remark, lol.]



    [Astylind Name: Blood Lotus]

    [Astylind Level: Level-3]

    [Astylind Grade: Grade-C]

    [Anima Affinity: Blood]

    [Skills: Blood-Recipient | Heal]

    [Gender: Female]

    [Description: Extinct natives of Sepra. They had decent affinity with Blood-Anima (Recipient) but lacked the means to protect themselves. Delicate and feeble. They lost the battle of natural selection.]

    [Grade-Exalt Requirements: Astylind Core (Blood), Bloodwood, Astylind Blood, Blood Rust.]

    [Remark 1: Can be used as an ingredient for potions. Useless otherwise.]

    [Remark 2: Decent choice for a healing type Astylind. But lack strong evolution branches.]

    [Remark 3: I don’t like them. They’re nasty~]

    [Remark 4: Special evolution path found. Focus should be on its grade.]

    Ewan connected to the hub and did a brief scan of the market list after checking his increased balance; the items he put for sale finally brought him some income.

    The good news was that the ingredients were available, he didn’t have to scour them himself. Bad news—the price for a single set of ingredients averaged at twenty Novas for all his Astylinds. Even though his Potioneering skills had improved as of late, this price meant he would still spend a decent chunk of his Novas balance in promoting only one of his Astylinds. And if the possibilities didn’t favor him, he could waste all of it without any harvest.

    Back in the room, he rubbed his forehead, dreading the headache he would get in the future when preparing for their further exaltation rites, especially the ‘Regal Rite’. The path he chose wasn’t an easy one…Then again, nothing worth pursuing was ever easy.

    In the present though, he had to pick one of his three Astylinds. Frost and Orange fell under the offensive category, they were his vanguards, while Iris fell under the auxiliary type. If he promoted Iris, he would have a better healer. It would translate to a better survival chance. But her current strength was enough for the situation, and there was Luna as backup too. Also, dependence on them would only push him into a passive position, he preferred to deal with the enemies without getting hurt. Thus, he leaned more towards his vanguards.

    But who...

    He looked at both Frost and Orange. Frost was the better choice of the two, given the current conditions. He was one level higher, could eat souls to boost his training instead of Anima Potions, and could fight at both mid and long range. Orange never lost to him at the same level and grade even with his lower affinity, but the situation didn’t back him up. His reliance on Ewan’s potions for boosted training also hindered him as he was too impatient to endure the daily routine like Frost.

    Though, this might be Toast’s influence, Ewan glared at the lazy little kitten. Toast jumped and meowed back, screeching at Ewan in his childish voice, his long tail taut, Iris tumbling over.

    When Ewan clicked his tongue and ignored the kitten, he bolted forward and bit his finger, growling. He only settled and curled up in his lap, purring, when Ewan petted his head and stroked his neck. The mix of black-brown silky fur was fluffy to the touch and brought a smile on Ewan’s face.

    Soon, Toast snored in his arms and Ewan refocused on the issue at hand. Much deliberation gave him his answer, he chose Frost first. Orange might wage war on his hair and cheeks again if he found out, but this was an internal decision, no one had to know….no one….

    Rumors had it that many Starons and Astylinds went up in grades by consuming the needed ingredients as they were. ‘Supposed truth’ as the definition of rumor went, Ewan wasn’t willing to test their validity. The only obvious path for him was the one he knew the best—potions. It was the authentic method of the two for a reason.

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [4th Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.5

    Spirit: 7.2

    Anima: [Fire – 7.2 | Ice – 7.2 | Blood – 7.2]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [4th Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes; Yurn [Neck Gaiter].
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 412
    Crelith: 4984
     
  9. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-66 Noble Rite

    Ewan flung the beaker half-filled with burnt sludge on the table and leaned back on the chair, taking deep grunting breaths to calm his nerves and ease his fatigue. Failure after failure drained all five sets of ingredients down the gutter, he kicked the table leg in annoyance, the tools rattled. That was a lot of Novas, its wastage panged him. He’d failed a lot when making potions by now, uncountable times, yet each new defeat hit him like it was his first. He wondered when he would become numb to this crushing feeling, or would that day ever come at all.

    Nevertheless, it couldn’t kill his drive for success, he wouldn’t let it. No matter how many times he fell, he would get back up again. And so, he reconnected to the hub and went looking for the ingredients once more. Before dawn broke, he would have a successful potion ready for Frost, his stubbornness forced him forward.

    ….

    ….

    ….

    Though he ended up the worst for wear, his obstinacy saw him through his defeats. Before the first ray of morning warmed the window, before Nana groaned and stretched, and before his Astylinds opened their eyes, he brewed the potion. After ten tries, the eleventh attempt gave him a sweet delish success.

    The accomplishment filled him with euphoria, his confidence and pride rose another notch. As Nana said, he just might like succeeding, the feeling was addictive. Through these successes, he proved his own worth to himself.

    Yet, all of it could go down the drain if Frost failed to promote. This was out of Ewan’s control, so he could do nothing but bet on his Astylind and hope for the best. To prepare for the worst though, he adjusted his mindset to brew more potions regardless of how much it cost him. If he didn’t have enough, he could hunt and earn, then brew it. No matter how long it took, no matter how many times he failed.

    But his determination aside, he wished Frost would prevail in one try. It would make the journey ahead a lot easier for them.

    …..

    Nana stood beside him, fidgeting, watching anxiously, as Ewan injected the ice-white potion into Frost’s vein. All their Astylinds stood around, guarding against any foreign intervention, ordered to maintain absolute silence and cause no disturbance.

    Frost growled and clenched his claws, his strained tail swaying, his skin stretching. Everything was calm on the outside, but he struggled with pain on the inside, his agony passed on to Ewan. His body ballooned, it ripped his skin in places, and he oozed blood. Soon he sat in the pool of red.

    Hold on…hold on…

    Books never mentioned any danger in the upgradation process, but Frost’s state made him uncertain. What if they were wrong? What if failure to upgrade hurt his Astylinds? The first time was a simple procedure with basic stirred solutions, but he was dealing with potions now. The shimmering pool of blood that grew another circle already killed his desire for a fruitful ending, he only hoped Frost would come out unharmed.

    The little imp groaned then howled in his baby voice, Ice-Anima bellowed with him. A faint snowy rune appeared on both his trembling arms, etched from his forearms to his upper arms. With its final stroke, the surging Ice-Anima collapsed, and his pain stopped. Frost fell back and fainted, his claws still clenched, his tail twitching.

    Ewan rushed with Iris and healed him; Nana assisted with Luna too. Failure or success could come later, dealing with his blood loss was more urgent.

    ……

    [Astylind Name: Imp (Ice-Variant)]

    [Astylind Level: Level-4]

    [Astylind Grade: Grade-B]

    [Anima Affinity: Ice]

    [Skills: Ice-Favored | Snowdoll (Dormant)]

    [Gender: Male]

    [Description: Natives of Alvodor. Their talents and affinity vary based on their bloodline. But most are capable of decent spellcasting and melee combat.]

    [Grade-Exalt Requirement: Noble Rite (Hynith Fauma)—Ice Burial, lay inside ‘Ceran Hynith’ for one cycle of seasons.]

    [Remark 1: Low wisdom. Barely crossing the line. Possibility of taming and rearing is high.]

    [Remark 2: Basic contract doesn’t work. Success rate might increase with a modified spell circuit.]

    [Remark 3: Hah, I’m a master of a Demon now. But too much torture broke his mind. Tch!]

    [Remark 4: Modified spell circuit succeeded; the contract was a success. No oppression needed. Changing their format in the database, the contracted ones will be noted ‘Astylind’ from now on.]

    The new skill, though still dormant, gave Ewan a pleasant surprise, but the next upgrade soon clutched his mind.

    Millennium Ice?

    Noble Rite for Grade-A—if he intended to continue on this path, all his Astylinds would eventually hit that roadblock. He’d long prepared himself for it. Yet, the Atarin term ‘Ceran Hynith’ tripped him. It translated to ‘Millennium Ice’ in common tongue, but he never heard of it. So, while Frost snored by the side and Nana prepared breakfast, he brought out his books and researched this rite. The ‘Explorer’s Edition’ books he bought might contain this information, but he trusted his family’s journal more.

    His predecessors experimented with Demons, they tried to tame them. Though only his Pa succeeded and made a Demon his Astylind, others too had noted down valuable information in the journal. And indeed, he found several entries, especially the one that defined the term.

    [Ceran Hynith: Millennium Ice, where time stood still for over a thousand years. Be mindful of temperature fluctuations. Beyond a certain range, its quality drops.]

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [4th Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.5

    Spirit: 7.2

    Anima: [Fire – 7.2 | Ice – 7.2 | Blood – 7.2]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [4th Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-B]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-3] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes; Yurn [Neck Gaiter].
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 193
    Crelith: 4984
     
  10. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-67 Elemental

    “Ewan,” Nana said as they chomped their breakfast, spiced rice with pan seared duck and caramelized onions on top. “I found an Astylind I want to buy.”

    “Is it expensive?” Ewan asked, eating a spoonful of rice that became one of his favorite dishes from now on.

    “Elemental,” she said.

    Ewan’s spoon halted, a few rice grains tumbled over with a piece of duck, and he looked at her. “Where’d you find it?”

    “It’s listed for an auction.”

    “Makes sense.” He scooped the duck again and scarfed. “What’s the estimate?”

    “Around a thousand,” she said.

    “Which element?”

    “Earth.”

    “Hmm, it might go over that. Do you really want it?” he asked.

    “Don’t know, it is too costly. I think I can trade my dad’s materials to match its price, but I’m not sure yet. Should I buy it?”

    “If you don’t need those materials urgently and if they’re available in the market, then trading would be better. Elementals don’t appear too often, even in auctions,” he said, wondering how rich she was to consider this option at her level. His Pa too left him a lot, but they were all priceless possessions. He couldn’t sell even a single item from his inventory, lest the exposure took his life in vain.

    The Obsidian Dagger wasn’t priceless actually, he could sell it for a good amount. But his situation was stable, it didn’t entail trading usable items yet.

    “I’ll attend the auction then. Do you want to check it out? The list is good.”

    “I can't afford the bids right now. I’ll just check the progress to get an idea of their prices,” Ewan said.

    Nana bobbed her head and finished off the last bite before cleaning up the table. Ewan handed over his plate and went to gather ingredients for Anima Potions, he had enough to brew it for his Astylinds.

    …….

    Orange went first. Fourth attempt and Ewan had an Anima Potion ready for him. He handled the higher leveled Anima Potion quite well last time, so Ewan chose the same for him now, a Level-5 Potion. With his training speed boosted, the little monkey broke through to Level-4, trailing Frost. The waves of Fire-Anima settled down as his condition stabilized. They were of the same level, but the grade marked their difference, Orange couldn’t contest Frost yet, much to his frustration.

    Their childish fight had long numbed Ewan to elicit a snappy response, but Toast was having a blast watching the show, munching on some toasted bread with all its irony, getting crumbs all over his fur. Iris, on the other side, passed a hint of anticipation and excitement about the Anima Potion to Ewan, a development in her consciousness he was glad for.

    The ingredients were ready, he was rested, so he wasted no time and brewed another potion. Each failure taught him lessons, he improved with every trial.

    Third attempt, and Iris had her Anima Potion. She was more delicate and daintier than Orange, forceful boosts wouldn’t sit well with her. Thus, Ewan went with the quantity approach instead, he brewed her a couple of Level-3 potions.







    Airadian Hub-Stratum.

    Each succeeding bid killed its predecessor as the items soared in value. From the comfort of his shop, and by the convenience of a network layout, Ewan observed and analyzed the market, at least he intended to.

    Artifacts, Potions, Ingredients, Astylinds, Slaves, the auction covered everything with anonymity beings its strong suit. The disappointment, though, was that the rarity of the listed items separated it from the general market. It couldn’t represent the market trend; it couldn’t teach him anything about the fluctuations in the trade market. Still, the ever-changing bidding war opened his eyes, it gave him an assessment of what to expect in case he ever found himself fighting in it.

    His screen refreshed, and another item was off the list. The auction was finally on the home stretch with only three more to go. The first of the three was the Astylind Nana wanted, the Earth Elemental. An Elemental could be a great addition to any Severynth’s team, regardless of the style. And the rapidly changing identity number on the screen proved this, it was a popular choice.

    The bids skyrocketed, soon reaching the estimate Nana mentioned. Even Ewan had to resist the urge to participate—he rented a shop in the hub, so he had the free ticket to participate any time. Nevertheless, his wallet couldn’t support his indulgence anyway. So, he only watched.

    The numbers changed, and after a while, only two remained in the race. The price point had already gone beyond the estimate, now approaching an irrational level, even for a defensive Elemental. Ewan hoped Nana would win, but the towering bids made it impossible to hold on to that hope.

    Finally, the values stabilized, and one of the identity numbers won the Astylind with an absurd price of fifty-five hundred Novas. The winner must be filthy rich…

    Poor Nana, Ewan shook his head. These auctions were too volatile. Costs could explode any time depending on the participants, or they might never take off at all. Just too mercurial….

    ……

    Back in the office, Nana stared at Ewan, her chest heaving, her face flushed.

    “Let it go, we can't control….” Before Ewan could finish, she jumped off the table and squeezed him into a hug. He stumbled back, supporting Nana by her waist. Her ample bosom pressed against his chest, her silky hair brushed his face, and the comforting floral smell of night-jasmine once again engulfed him.

    “Nana,” Ewan said, tapping on her shoulder. “I can't breathe.” She held too tight.

    “I won,” she yelled and laughed, the loud voice ringing his ears. Yet, the context of her sentence replaced his wild imaginations and left him with only one thought.

    She is filthy rich…

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [4th Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.5

    Spirit: 7.2

    Anima: [Fire – 7.2 | Ice – 7.2 | Blood – 7.2]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [4th Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-B]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes; Yurn [Neck Gaiter].
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 111
    Crelith: 4984
     
  11. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-68 Escalate

    [Astylind Name: Earth Elemental]

    [Astylind Level: Level-0]

    [Astylind Grade: Grade-D]

    [Anima Affinity: Earth]

    [Gender: Male]

    [Description: Natives of all planets, planes, and realms that produce Earth-Anima. They exist where Earth-Anima exists. Adored by Earth-Anima, they’re highly efficient in spellcasting.]

    [Grade-Exalt Requirement: Astylind Core (Earth), Anima Crystal (Earth), Crelith.]

    [Remark 1: A good addition to any team, they can fill the position of either a defending vanguard or a spellcaster.]

    [Remark 2: Too boring. They’re already good, with or without a Severynth. You can't get any credit for their excellence.]

    [Remark 3: Fascinating biology, a living being with no signs of life. I would’ve liked to study them more. Alas….my time’s run out.]

    Pa….

    Ewan closed the <Identify> screen and faced Nana.

    “You’re quite well-off,” he said, watching her nervously handle a piece of stone that sold for over five-thousand Novas.

    “Mum and dad left me everything in the hub. This pendant had my blood, it sensed me when I connected and transferred the shop to me,” she said, caressing her wine-red pendant when she put the ‘stone’ down on the table.

    “They knew…” Ewan murmured.

    Nana looked down for a moment then took a deep breath and raised her head with a grin. “I’m super rich now, that’s why I said I can protect you, so be a good boy and let me protect you, don’t grumble so much.”

    “Piss off.” Ewan scoffed. “I’ll be content if you didn’t get me killed at every step.” His instincts tingled but the next tick of the second smothered it, and the mist in his mind seethed.

    “What did I do, you’ve been asking for death left and right, and you always use me as bait.” She fought back. “What if I died? Who’ll take the responsibility? Who’ll protect you then?”

    “But you didn’t die. And you were never at risk anyway, I was always careful, and I was the one who always fought,” he said. “You just cried and cried, how old are you anyway.”

    “W-When did I cry? T-That was one time only, and why do you care, you don’t even give a damn whether I drink or not!”

    “You lay around all night on your balcony, drunk dead. You don’t even bother to take care of yourself, what do you want me to do!”

    Their volumes intensified; the conversation now turned into a yelling contest. His inhibitions and his reticence had stumbled, and perhaps Nana's too, they were losing control…yet the mist snuffed this thought as it budded. And his impulses stepped up.

    “So, you were watching me all this time but never came to help!!” she bayed.

    “I wasn’t watching, I was observing! And unsolicited help can worsen the situation. What if I made it worse, what if something happened to you because I helped, what then?” The mist billowed.

    “You just think, think, and overthink. How much do you question yourself? Why can't you just act? What if I needed your help?”

    “How would I know that if you never said anything? I can't read minds!!” he yelled. The room had blurred, the dim white light from the lamp softened into a flickering blip in the background. Only Nana remained in his vision, and her words rolled in his soul. “And I helped when you came to me in the end, didn’t I!”

    “Yeah, and you said I owe you for that. Who says that to his fiancé? Can't you just be honest for once?” She almost screamed. “And then you barged into my room at night. From the balcony!! Do you know how scared I was? I thought they finally came for me! What were you doing? Couldn’t you just knock like a normal person? Do you think you’re some spy that everyone’s after?”

    “M-My relatives try to put me down like that; I need to be careful.”

    “Do you think I’m like your relatives?” She cried out. “Do you think I’ll do what they ask and hurt you? Huh!!” She screeched.

    “People change, you cut me out for years, how could I know you were still the same!!”

    “I cut you out? You cut me out, you were even going to leave like this if I didn’t happen to be outside your house!!”

    “I already told you I was leaving! And you never said you wanted to leave with me, what do you expect me to do? Wait around forever without you mentioning it?”

    “You could’ve asked me yourself!! But you didn’t, you were always like this. You never came to me even when mum and dad died, you just watched from afar.” Tears welled up in her eyes. “I was scared. I needed you…” And she sniffed and sobbed.

    Ewan watched her bawl, sharp guilt clawing his heart. He had his reasons for it, his age and his pain validated them. But he was a man, he wasn’t allowed those reasons and that pain, especially when someone he cared for was suffering—he had to relent. And now those factors turned into regrets, and it hurt. Why didn’t he comfort her that day, why wasn’t he there for her when she needed him the most…

    He moved in and hugged her, but she pushed him away, crying harder. He moved in again and she pushed him again. And again, he embraced her harder this time, his fingers running through her hair. “I’m sorry,” he said softly.

    “I hate you,” she said and wailed on his shoulder, clutching his t-shirt, her tears and snot drenching him.

    “I’m sorry,” he murmured. The mist in his mind surged. This was his weakest moment, and it latched onto his emotions and bloomed….







    The gentle refreshing night breeze respited him from his chaotic emotions. Under the moonlight, perched on the peak of the building, not fighting his instinct also soothed him. Yet, his mind still felt fuzzy, as a layer of mist engulfed him.

    The escalation in their conversation leading to that outburst took him off guard, he couldn’t maintain his usual rationality. Impulses were never his friends, and today cemented the fact further. After Nana stopped crying, he came out to take a breather, to flatten his swelled sentiments and regain his calm, but it was harder than he thought—her words kept echoing in his ears. He did well in the ways of mind, but the ways of emotions tended to trip him…

    He rubbed his forehead and took a deep breath, the pungent stench of the wolf-urine hitting his nose. The past was past, there was nothing he could do anymore, he just had to move on. As long as they were alive, everything would be okay, his optimistic side chimed in. Regrets, guilt, they would all come and go—he would be the one to outlive them all. The only thing he had to make sure of was that Nana outlived them with him. At least she didn’t hate him, her words might’ve said it, but her actions opposed it out loud…

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [4th Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.5

    Spirit: 7.3

    Anima: [Fire – 7.3 | Ice – 7.3 | Blood – 7.3]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [4th Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-B]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes; Yurn [Neck Gaiter].
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 111
    Crelith: 4984
     
  12. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-69 Fire Wolf

    The eerie silence persisted around the area. This would remain until the piss of the wolves remained. So, before the wind withered the stench away, before the new Astylind marked this area and trapped them in, they needed to move.

    Once his restless emotions settled, Ewan walked down the stairs to the floor where they stayed, the echoes of his steps blaring against the quiet.

    “Where were you? I’m dying here,” Nana said, clutching her top, shaking her knees, and breathing fast in a rhythm. “I really have to pee!”

    “Just go then.” Ewan chuckled. “It’s right across the hall,” he said.

    “I-I can't, it’s too dark. Come with me,” she said, tugging his t-shirt.

    “How old are you? You still haven’t changed this habit…”

    “I-It’s really dark. Stop grumbling, just come with me.” She pushed him to walk ahead.

    “Fine, fine,” he said and led her through the pitch-dark corridors to the bathroom section.

    The darkness blinded her, but even this amount of negligible light was enough for him to see as his irises glowed green. Papers and clipboards lay scattered on the mirror-like tiled floor, and the crunchy glass shards impeded the clean tap of their boots. The stench of desolation ran thick, even on this closed off floor. Dried stains of spilled coffee, flipped chairs, unhinged doors, still running water dispenser, shattered photo frames, broken plant pots—the signs of life from before the wall fell remained in bits and pieces.

    But not for long. Obria died the moment it lost its protection; its citizens weren’t strong enough to survive against the nature’s onslaught. And soon these traces will also rot away…

    “Are we there yet?” Nana asked, tiptoeing behind him, holding the hem of his t-shirt.

    Her words broke him out of his dejection. “Almost,” he said.





    “Are we there yet?” she asked again.

    “Almost.”





    “Now?”

    “Almost…”



    “I can't hold it anymore, it’ll leak out, are we there yet!”

    “It should be here…,” Ewan murmured and looked around. Different sections sliced the corridor into forks here, but none of the signboards mentioned any bathroom.

    “How do you even know that?” She squeezed her legs together, trembling. “I can't…anymore…it’ll leak.”

    “Sound of waterdrops,” Ewan said mindlessly, closing his eyes and blocking all the useless noises—mainly her whining. The sound of a drop resonated again towards his right. “There,” he said and dragged her by her hand.

    “I can't hear anything.”

    “I can,” he said. “Hurry up and go or do it here.”

    “I’ll go, I’ll go!” She scuttled inside with baby steps when they reached the bathroom, neither of them bothered to check whether it was male’s or female’s, and she slammed the door—it just recoiled back open however as the latch failed.

    “Don’t leave!” she yelled from the inside.

    “I won't, do what you have to do,” he said, leaning on the wall outside, hands crossed.

    ….

    “Are you there?” she asked.

    “I am, just pee already!”

    “I’m trying, my belt’s not coming off.”

    Ewan sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Just pee in your pants then,” he murmured.

    ….

    “Are you there?”

    “I am,” he said, helplessly.

    Soon the echo of a thick and forceful stream of water hitting a puddle rang out, and with it she sang. “La la la ala la~”

    “I can still hear it, stop singing,” he said, chortling. “Your singing has never worked.”

    Her voice halted abruptly but the sound of stream to the puddle continued with a spurt.

    …..

    “Ewan!!” she screamed.

    He jerked from his stance with a broken yawn and bolted into the bathroom, expanding his Ryvia. Nana stood there facing the dark corner, clothed up but her belt dangled. “T-That…,” she said, gulping, when Ewan came in.

    He yanked Nana back by her top and stood in front of her, squinting at the concerned corner. It was darker than its surroundings, so the two tiny orbs of wavering white light contrasted better. And their owner was a pup with black and orange fur—a Fire Wolf pup. It howled in its childlike voice and limped forward, almost stumbling—its right foreleg left a trail of blood.

    “It’s just a Fire Wolf pup, its fine.” He comforted Nana. It should be from the pack they just killed, most likely a survivor.

    “It looks injured,” Nana said, peeking out from behind Ewan.

    “Doesn’t matter, let’s go,” Ewan said and turned around, grabbing Nana with him.

    “Wait,” she said and pulled away, bending down to the wolf pup, and carrying it in her arms—its blood smeared her top. “She’s too pitiful.”

    “She?” Ewan frowned.

    It was too dark for her to check the pup’s gender, not without Ryvia…did she use her <Identify> already…something was off about this wolf pup. Her smell…. His nose twitched—the pup gave off a sharp minty smell. Ewan recalled it from somewhere….

    He couldn’t put a finger on it, the seething mist in his mind enlarged into a strange fog and clouded his clarity. Something was off about this all….

    Identify.

    [Astylind Name: Fire Wolf]

    [Astylind Level: Level-0]

    [Astylind Grade: Grade-D]

    [Anima Affinity: Fire]

    [Gender: Female]

    [Description: Natives of Airadia. All-round creatures who major in physical melee and minor in Fire-Anima based skills. They prefer living in packs but can survive alone if needed.]

    [Grade-Exalt Requirement: Astylind Core (Fire), Astylind Blood (Fire), Fira Stone.]

    [Remark 1: Decent choice, a decent addition. Since potential doesn’t bind Astylinds and Starons, severity of choices decreases.]

    [Remark 2: Can be used as a mount, otherwise useless.]

    [Remark 3: Lacking evolution paths. Lackluster strength. Only advantage they have is their ferocity which dampens when contracted to a master.]

    Yet, the results said otherwise, everything was normal. Was he overthinking? Was his instinct going awry again? Was this another change provoked by his soul merging with Toast?

    “Can we bring her with us?” Nana asked.

    “No,” he said. “Let’s not add one more burden on me.”

    “She’s injured,” Nana said. “She’ll die if we leave her here.”

    “It’s not our concern. And we just killed her family, tagging her along will be in bad taste.”

    “But Severynths kill Astylinds all the time and then contract their children.” She turned back to Ewan, her eyes foggy and dazed, but soon recovered. “Please,” she said, stretching out her word, tugging his cargo with a pitiful pout.

    Ewan heaved a sigh; he couldn’t retort. The baby wolf looked at him too, its beady eyes reflected his image. It was too small, too weak to be a danger—its eyes exuded innocence.

    “Fine,” Ewan said. “But you’re looking after her.”

    Nana beamed. “I will.”

    And they both came out of the bathroom. Ewan led her again and Nana followed behind him, pinching the hem of his t-shirt, while carrying the Fire Wolf pup in her arms.

    “Was it raining outside? Your shoulder is wet,” she said.

    “It’s your snot!” Ewan snapped back. “You’re washing it!”

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [4th Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.5

    Spirit: 7.3

    Anima: [Fire – 7.3 | Ice – 7.3 | Blood – 7.3]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [4th Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-B]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes; Yurn [Neck Gaiter].
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 111
    Crelith: 4984
     
  13. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-70 Yurnawa [Part-I]

    [Astylind Name: Shadow Serf]

    [Astylind Level: Level-2]

    [Astylind Grade: Grade-D]

    [Anima Affinity: Dark]

    [Gender: Male]

    [Description: Natives of Yurnawa. Bottom feeders of the shadow plane. They live in flocks, hunt in flocks. Unskilled in both melee and spellcasting but they excel at climbing.]

    ……

    Ewan stretched his hands out, hovering an inch above the ground with the tip of his boots grazing the ravaged asphalt.

    Ice Daggers!

    He cast the spell with all his Ice-Anima, it was the current strongest form of the spell, and six razor-sharp ice daggers soon floated around him. His ‘Yurn’ gaiter covered half his face, its effect dampening his presence and enhancing his stealth.

    “Nuisance,” he murmured, squinting at the pestering serfs climbing the pile of debris all around, his green-glowing eyes radiating a predator’s breath.

    They were humanoid yet far from Starons. Parched ashen skin, long twig limbs, bony claws, rotten teeth, bulging eyes, semi-bald with a few strands of straw-hair jutting out top—they were the definition of repugnance, their shrill cries even more so.

    His daggers shuttled around, white blurry streaks trailing their flash. Ewan managed his enhanced Ryvia, one dagger rent the air and stabbed a serf through the temple, jamming into the concrete. He focused on it and yanked back with a gesture. Dark blood spurted with the dagger’s departure, and the serf’s dead body plummeted to the ground.

    A serf on the opposite side screeched and vaulted at Ewan. Two daggers zipped at it; they sliced the serf apart in the air. Its corpse plopped and slid before Ewan in pieces, his Ryvia defense preventing the blood splatters.

    The violent deaths halted the rest of the serfs, they cried at Ewan but backed away.

    “I need your cores,” he said, staring at them. “Please die and hand them over.”

    The daggers zipped all over the area, leaving dead serfs in their wake. Dark blood painted the concrete, corpses covered the ground. Gore, brain matter, intestines, organs, chopped limbs—his spell unfurled mayhem all over the place. It only stayed for a bit though, the all-encompassing spell circuit ‘cleaned’ it all soon.

    “Is it done?” Nana asked, shivering behind the ice wall Frost created to protect her.

    “Almost,” Ewan said, pulling the gaiter down, and his breath steamed. The continuous usage of ice spells had dropped the temperature, the surrounding was back to Frosthelm again.

    Fireball!

    Ewan aimed and hurled. A couple of fist-sized fireballs zoomed and exploded on contact, they took care of the fleeing serfs and helped with the cold.

    “It’s done now.” Ewan released his Ryvia as the flash of the explosion died. His heels dropped to the ground; the daggers also melted away. “I did the hunting; you do the gathering. Get to work,” he said, letting Nana take over the stage.

    She might be rich and didn’t need the cores, but he did. He couldn’t let even a tiny amount of profit go.

    ……

    [Astylind Name: Blind Spider]

    [Astylind Level: Level-4]

    [Astylind Grade: Grade-D]

    [Anima Affinity: Dark]

    [Gender: Female]

    [Description: Natives of Yurnawa. Predators of the shadow plane. They gave up on vision in the race of evolution and chose vibrations and other extra sensory methods to perceive the world.]

    ……

    The spiders blocked their path, crawling on the ground, climbing the rubble. Each came to about Ewan’s waist, but one was larger than the rest. The night obscured their ebony bodies, they melded into the darkness, and only their hisses echoed.

    “Yurnawa again…,” Ewan mumbled and clicked his tongue, pulling the gaiter up, covering half his face. Its effect once again stifled his presence.

    Frost, take the lead.

    Frost marched ahead, positioning himself between the spiders and Ewan. His tail swayed; the Ice-Anima bellowed. He waved his hand and froze the incoming web in their tracks, they glittered under the violet-silver moonlight. The larger spider screeched, and the other spiders advanced.

    “Orange, protect Nana,” he said.

    Ice Daggers!

    And the six ice daggers condensed again, rotating around Ewan.

    Frost aimed and shot several icicles. Some stabbed in their heads with dull thuds, killing them on spot, some missed. The remaining spiders shrieked, their chelicerae wide opened, venomous saliva dripping in long slimy strings as the concrete hissed beneath. The stink wafted and hit Ewan who stood far away; he reacted and blocked the air out. Frost was close, so he suffered the most. He groaned and stumbled back, covering his nose, his bloodshot eyes tearing up. It took him seconds, but he also recovered when Ewan shielded him.

    The larger spider cried and curled her body, aiming her spinneret at the sky. Her stomach wriggled, she squirted a heavy amount of silk, spreading it in the air up high. The nigh invisible strands of web feathered down, sticking to Ewan and everyone around him. Each individual filament was thin and weak, but the accumulation would soon reach a dangerous level.

    Fireball!

    Ewan nudged the fireballs with his Ryvia and spiraled it around to burn all the web floating down on them. He gestured forward, and three daggers launched at the incoming spiders—the other two went to defend Frost, and the last one remained with him.

    Trap them.

    Frost roared a war cry and pushed both his hands forward. The Ice-Anima surged, and the ground froze around him, pinning the spiders down. They screeched, struggled, but couldn’t break the ice shackles. The daggers bore through their heads then cleaved them apart with no resistance, dragging the area into its initial silence.

    Her pack was down, the larger spider scuttled for Frost with a cry, her pointy legs chipping the icy ground.

    She came in range and shrieked, but her corrosive breath couldn’t pass Ewan’s Ryvia. She sprung, her fangs out and taut, she aimed for Frost. Ewan pointed, his daggers defending Frost zipped and blocked the fangs. The daggers chipped and cracked but her attack stopped.

    “Freeze her,” he said.

    The Ice-Anima frenzied around Frost, storming. He reached for the spider and touched her eyeless head. The tick of the second halted as her body iced up with a snap. All six daggers positioned around her and shanked her, snuffing any life she might have left.

    Ewan heaved a deep breath with eyes drooping, staring at the moons… Another battle over.

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [4th Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.5

    Spirit: 7.3

    Anima: [Fire – 1.2 | Ice – 0.0 | Blood – 7.3]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [4th Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-B]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes; Yurn [Neck Gaiter].
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 111
    Crelith: 4984
     
  14. Aleth

    Aleth Well-Known Member

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    Chapter-71 Yurnawa [Part-II]

    Two nights later.

    The sea of a meter long centipedes crawled around Ewan and Nana, trapping them on top of a debris pile. The rhythmic clacks of their endless legs rolled in every direction, their whirs leading it. Ewan could neither pinpoint their location nor could he estimate their numbers.

    “Yurnawa again….something’s off,” he murmured. Nana clutched his t-shirt, almost hugging him. Her arms and legs trembled, and her breath was erratic as she looked around at the creeping menaces.

    “S-Should we run?” she asked in a whisper.

    “We’re fenced,” Ewan said, bringing out Frost and Orange with his ‘Dekoth’, the aura of frigid ice and scorching fire clashing against each other. “Bring out Luna and Biscuit, keep Lime in. And throw that wolf to the side, we can't protect it.”

    She had the wolf in her arms and cuddled her harder. “I’ll protect her,” she said under her breath.

    Ewan clicked his tongue. “Fine, just bring out your Astylinds,” he said.

    She opened her Dekoth, and a bird flapped her wings out with a breath of water, chilling and calm, landing on her shoulder. A ‘stone’ hovered out of another Dekoth, bringing with it the weight of the earth.

    “Handle defense. I’ll attack,” he said.

    His Ryvia was ready, and so were his vanguards.

    Ice Dagger!

    He cast as his Astylinds launched. Frost froze the two nearest centipedes with a wave of his hand while Orange hammered and crushed the third one.

    Go all out.

    Bloodlust!

    His daggers fanned out, and he cast <Bloodlust> on both Frost and Orange. Blood veins marred their eyes, deep growls grinded in their throats; Anima gushed around them. Insanity with obedience, the strange combination had always intrigued Ewan, but this wasn’t the right time for research.

    Frost jumped and soared in the air; Ewan held him high with his Ryvia.

    “Make it rain,” he muttered.

    Frost spread his arms and conjured dozens of small icicles, and a moment later, he waved. The icicles hailed down on the centipedes, pelting them, skewering them, the resounding volley drowning their deathly screams.

    Orange picked the other side; Ewan supported him at the same time. Platform after platform, Orange blasted from one to the other, crushing one centipede after another, his fur drenched in blood. The booms resonated; his orange figure flashed under the curtain of the moonlight.

    Yet, more centipedes kept crawling in, some from afar, some from under the rubble. His two Astylinds could only cover two sides, the other two were open.

    Toast….

    The little kitten came out of his wheel tattoo and looked back at Ewan, his beady eyes asking for mercy.

    “I’ll go with you,” Ewan tried to placate him. Melee wasn’t his forte and it wasn’t his preference, even after the changes that his merged soul brought, but a special occasion called for a special reply. His spell arsenal was neither big enough nor resourceful enough to last him a taxing fight yet, he had to go melee until it could.

    And so, he sent the daggers to one side, while he and Toast took another, albeit he had to drag the kitten with him. He might not have any combat qualifications, but he was still at the fourth awakening like Ewan. It was enough to deal with these low-level centipedes, even with their large numbers.

    The battle tested the limits of his concentration and focus as he dove into the skirmish with his Obsidian Dagger, controlling the other three sides at the same time too.

    He stabbed the first, dodged the second, flipped on his hand, shanked another. His agility saw him through the heat of the fight, amidst the centipedes. Toast had shaken off his laziness already and supported him from behind. Any centipede Ewan missed, Toast either clobbered and mashed their heads, severed them with his sharp claws, or ripped them apart with his fangs.

    Because of the nature of the enemy, Ewan’s battle stance remained low, as he sliced, tore, and knifed the centipedes. The thick smell of iron was getting to his head, every inch of his body was screaming with excitement. He kicked one, another bit his calf. The stab on its head splattered blood all over Ewan’s face. He licked it, it tasted sour.

    Poison….

    He spat it out and shook his leg to get the dead centipede off. Toast hissed and bit one that came at Ewan from behind, he rattled his head violently and mauled it apart.

    “Don’t drink the blood.” Ewan reminded Toast as they shared the likeness for it, rushing to another centipede, still attending to his daggers, still creating platforms for Orange, and still supporting Frost with his Ryvia.

    …….

    Ewan, Frost, Orange, and Toast, all sprawled on the rubble pile, a sea of centipede corpses surrounded them—withering corpses. Wounded, tired, panting, bleeding, and poisoned, none of them moved even a finger, only their chests heaved. Luna and Iris made rounds on them, casting their healing spell, while Nana ransacked her Spellbook.

    “Stop looking. Even if you find any, you won’t be able to cast it right away,” Ewan said, gulping, wetting his dry itchy throat.

    “I can try,” she said.

    Ewan shook his head and let her be. If it gave her some peace of mind, there was no harm in it. Even if she failed, she could try again.

    “Who’s good to go now?” he asked. Toast, Frost, and Orange, the three flinched at his words and fell still and silent, not daring to twitch.

    “Toast?”

    The kitten trembled, it jumped after a second and screeched at Ewan.

    “Good, you look healthy enough, go gather the cores.”

    -----------------------------------------------------XXXX-----------------------------------------------------

    Status: Healthy

    Step-0 [4th Awakening]

    Name: Ewan Ayres

    Species: Human

    Vitality: 1.5

    Spirit: 7.5

    Anima: [Fire – 7.5 | Ice – 7.5 | Blood – 7.5]

    Astylinds: 4 [Potential: 0]
    :Rolling Cat [Toast]: Step-0 [4th Awakening]
    :Fire Monkey [Orange]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]
    :Imp [Frost]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-B]
    :Blood Lotus [Iris]: Step-0 [Level-4] [Grade-C]

    Equipment: Common Clothes; Yurn [Neck Gaiter].
    Storage: Journal; Elementalist—The Path of Anima [Subtype-Book]; Spellbook; Bloodlust [Spell]; Transmute [Spell]; Anima-Crystals; Obsidian Dagger; Hub-Connector; Ingredients.


    Novas: 111
    Crelith: 4984