~ At the Freyhart Residence ~
“Hah… This is troublesome”
Ethan and Lylian were at the living room. Both of them hanging their heads down.
Since the day Youma left, Elinalise has spent most of her time in her own room looking out the window with an absentminded face. That window showed the entrance of the adventurer guild perfectly.
It was as if she was waiting for someone to return. Well, that was exactly what she was doing though.
The two bodyguards knew this and could only hang their heads down. They have tried to make Elinalise move, but they know how fragile of a girl she is.
Since small, she has been in a fight for the right to be the heir of the family. That was the true objective of the ‘Journey of Knowledge’ that the members of the Freyhart household have to undergo. The ones who complete this mission and return will increase their standing and then the one with the most skills will have a higher chance to become the next in line.
For that sake, Elinalise has been studying, training, researching. She had no time for herself, she didn’t have contact with the outside. Only closed off in her own room reading books and entering specialized rooms to interact with the elements. In that place, the candidates were to learn all the basics and when the time has come they will head outside to challenge the ‘Journey of Knowledge’ and learn about the outside world at the same time.
This was a tradition that all the Freyharts had to go through.
A test, a race to see who can adapt faster, who can use their knowledge the most efficiently. That way, the Freyharts managed to choose the most suitable person that will succeed the household.
The importance of this test was a given, so Elinalise studied and practiced her magic the best she could. But it wasn’t for her own self, it was only because she had nothing else to do.
She wasn’t allowed to do anything, she only had her books, study and training rooms. That’s how it was discovered that she was an unexpected genius. Her advance in the magic tiers and her mana pool that was increasing at a frightening rate being able to use Tier 3 magic at the young age of 16 and even being able to shoot them multiple times. She was considered a genius through and through.
But right now, experiencing the outside world, Elinalise has been given an incredible shock. The world outside was so bright and big, yet it was filled with so many mysteries. So many people. Instead of filling her with interest and curiosity, she felt fear, she felt pressure. This big and unknown world, how am I to live in it?
Luckily she had her bodyguards following her, but even those important bodyguards were unable to follow her all the time. When she has to go to the fixed grounds like the Forest of Beginnings, she is to enter it with a party she has chosen on her own and venture inside that area.
But maybe because of her lack of knowledge, or might be her own bad luck. All of those ventures ended in failures, catastrophic failures. All the parties she had been with, ended up severely injured or were caught up in some misfortune.
“She is definitely waiting for Youma”
Lylian said while sprawling on the sofa. Her face showing a hint of exhaustion.
“Yeah, can’t be helped. Since the time she went to the outside, she has faced numerous hardships and fallen into ‘unlucky’ events”
Ethan seemed to be pondering something and turns over to where Lylian was.
“… If possible I want Youma to follow Elinalise on her journey.
The moment I first saw him I couldn’t take him seriously as I noticed he was such a low level at that age but, when I heard what he did from lady Elinalise and when I saw him myself after he woke up, I couldn’t help but be amazed”
Ethan sharpens his eyes and the air around him turns bit colder as he continues talking.
“That man called Youma. Even though he was around level 10 to 20, his posture, breathing and gestures, they were all polished to a point that even I haven’t reached yet. Honestly, it gave me complex feelings”
Lylian didn’t say anything in response. Ethan is a man that has been polishing his body for the sake of the Freyhart household, for the sake of Elinalise. To feel that he has been surpassed, moreover, by someone that is several times lower than him, no matter who it is, they would feel the same way as him. In fact, even Lylian felt the same way, no, her feelings were a bit more complex than Ethan’s.
“When I had him in front of me, I didn’t have a choice but to accept that this man could actually be able to handle the Blood Bear, and yet, at the same time, I think that it should be impossible for him to do it. The threshold of strength can’t be overcome simply by having technique alone. The Blood Bear isn’t such a simple existence”
A smile appears on Lylian as she hears him say that and she adds more as well.
“The Blood Bear has been surviving in that forest for several decades after all. There is no way that Blood Bear would have let anyone get close if he knew that he was facing an opponent stronger than him. That Youma boy may be hiding some kind of incredible skill that even that survival master couldn’t predict”
“… Yeah, I am not sure about what is Youma or how strong he is but, if he has that much raw skill, by the time he levels up he will certainly become a force to reckon. Not only that, his eyes showed a sort of confidence and matureness, I felt like I could rely on him to look after Lady Elinalise”
Lylian’s smile gets wider and she jumps off the sofa and lands in front of Ethan. Her face showing a wide grin.
“Hehehe, and that is why you want to reel him in right? So that he can stay by her side when you can’t protect her. Well, you have been honing yourself in order to protect Lady Eli after all~. Your worry for Lady Eli is so deep that it even makes me a bit jealous”
Ethan didn’t say anything, it was obvious that was the reason. He didn’t need to tell Lylian. They have known each other for more than a decade. There is no other person they know better than each other. Though he sometimes wishes for Lylian to fix her habit of dressing in revealing clothes, he could see more than he needs to… No, she is showing too much for a healer.
“Geez, Ethan. You should at least try to follow what I say, mungh~. When it comes to Lady Eli you get too serious”
Lylian pouts and hugs Ethan from behind, purposely pressing her breast on his back.
“Lylian that is our duty, our job, our raison d’etre. To guide Lady Elinalise on the correct path and always think about what is best for her”
But he ignores it.
“Ok, ok I get it. Mungh~ you don’t have to get so edgy… Here, check this out”
Lylian grumpily separates from Ethan and takes a paper from inside her bosom.
“What is this?”
“The information I got from Youma of course. This is all the data I could gather from him, it was so fun. Ah~ if only I had more time and freedom to do more to that body~!”
Lylian begins to squirm around while remembering that time.
Her bad obsession of researching the bodies of persons was a cause of concern for Ethan. He has already forgotten the number of times he has told her to fix that mania of hers. But, he also knows that it’s because of that obsession that she has such an ability in handling bodies and the reason why he can’t stop her completely.
Ethan has already given up on stopping that obsession of hers. He just takes the paper from her hands and checks it out.
“… Lylian, this is… are you sure this is Youma’s data?”
“Yes, I am totally sure”
Ethan’s eyes grew thinner, focusing completely on the piece of paper in front of him. Cold sweat began running down from his forehead.
Seeing that, Lylian whispers.
“I am totally in favor of Youma accompanying Lady Eli but. Before you plan on reeling in Youma, think carefully”
4 Blood Bears.
A wide closed space filled with nothing but rocks.
Normally, a person would think that he is totally done for but…
“This is a nice chance”
I had no such sentiments. No negative emotions.
Just pure excitement.
Since the time I have come here, I didn’t get many chances to have a proper fight. The most I could get were that rat and deer at the beginning of my journey, which I can’t really consider myself proud for. And the Blood Bear wasn’t a fight at all, no matter where you saw it, it was a vulgar fight where I only won because the enemy underestimated me.
But after I got the Double Edge class and obtained those skills, I haven’t fought a single appropriate fight. Only had painful experiences.
“Finally a chance to move my body with a fitting opponent”
It’s true that I had some conflicting feelings about activating [Limit Break]. From how things have been going, the chances that this is a trap are incredibly high. However, who cares anymore?!
I was already caught in the trap since the moment I entered this cave.
If I have no choice then I want to at least move my body!
I activate the skill while taking my stance.
“First, let’s go with a comparison of strength”
With that said I crack my knuckles and lunge to the lone Blood Bear that’s at my back and throw a punch.
A tremendous sound comes from the heavy punch that I threw out, the body of the Blood Bear who couldn’t react to the punch properly, received the full brunt of my attack.
My strength and speed has certainly increased by a significant amount. Compared to the time when my attacks couldn’t even make the Blood Bear flinch, I am now able to damage a Blood Bear with a single punch.
However, it is expected that my attack wouldn’t completely defeat it.
The Blood Bear tries to retaliate as soon as he recovered from the shock of my attack, but I instantly shifted behind the Blood Bear and wrap my arms around it.
Now, am I able to lift a monster several times heavier than me?
With a loud shout, I bend my back and lift the Blood Bear that was in my arms and slam it on the hard floor.
A german suplex!
As the Blood Bear made contact with the ground, the floor around the impact point cracked and the sound that it did was extremely satisfying.
If I could see status conditions, I certainly would think that it is afflicted with the ‘unconscious’ status.
… Or maybe not.
Its skull must have cracked with the impact.
I quickly stuff the corpse in my inventory and that confirms the kill by a 100%. I can’t place living things in my inventory after all.
Well, that makes it 3!
The 3 other Blood Bears were now acting with extreme cautiousness. Seeing their brethren defeated like that, I am not surprised by their choice of action.
Two of the Blood Bears take a few steps back and one of the Blood Bears stands at the front, prepared to clash with me.
I evade the claw that was expecting my arrival and I land two jabs at the Blood Bears stomach, when the Blood Bear staggers back I immediately follow the combo with a shoryuken right at his exposed chin.
The moment I send the Blood Bear flying, I see two [Wind Blades] heading directly at me. I twisted my body and one of the [Wind Blades] grazed my leg while the other was a direct hit to my shoulder, since I was in midair it was impossible for me to evade them completely. And on top of that, the impact of the [Wind Blade] was big and accelerated my fall. I couldn’t land properly and my back hit the ground hard.
“I got a bit ahead of myself there”
I grumble as I get back up.
Testing out my body is good, but right now they have an advantage in numbers. And they aren’t retarded in any way. I really have to remember that Blood Bears are terribly cunning beings.
The Blood Bear that I shoryukened was now back up and had actually switched positions with one of the Blood Bears in the back. They were rotating their formation, what flexibility.
Now, if they had healer I would be in quite the trouble. Good thing Blood Bears don’t have any healing spells.
Well then, I will have to rev up my gears a bit.
I unsheathe my long sword and prepare myself. The Blood Bears are patient creatures and wait for their prey to do the first move.
I can’t afford a contest of patience here. I am running on a timer after all, so I will take that move!
The Blood Bear sees me swing my sword horizontally and quickly crouches its body and rams me away. Two spells were expecting me as I stagger. I was barely able to recover in time and deflect both [Wind Blades] with my sword.
What a reaction ability. It moves better than the last one.
I bend my knees and retake my stance. Pulling my sword to waist length, I breathe in, and burst out from my position.
I swing my long sword three times; leg, arm, head. Each one of them aiming not to hit but to make him lose his balance. The Blood Bear that had his balance crumbled by the constant evasion, was now fully open for an attack. At that opening, a [Wind Blade] came in to cover, but since I was expecting the [Wind Blade] to come at this timing, I nimbly turn my body to evade it and use that momentum to chain the last piece of my combo.
The leg of the Blood Bear detaches from its body as it falls on one knee and uses both of its hands to stop the fall, but I didn’t let this chance slip as I finish it off with a downward stab.
There was no level up notification, but I know that I had already defeated it.
I turn around and prepare myself for the two [Wind Blades] that were supposed to be coming.
However, what I caught in my eyes was not any spell, it was the two Blood Bears running away in all fours.
To think they would choose to retreat.
Well, I am not a person that likes to chase opponents that have given up on fighting, but I am not in a position where I can let any potential enemies leave.
If I get caught by these two when the buff wears out, I am as good as done.
Placing the other corpse in my inventory, I sheathe my sword and begin the chase.
The two Blood Bears were not dividing and were heading deeper into the cave. Their speed was the same as mine right now. It may be because I have been running a lot in the forest lately, I am now able to keep up with the Blood Bear in all fours.
It really does feel good to see that I am actually improving.
However, this is certainly weird.
The interior of the cave is getting more complex the deeper we got. I could even see numerous worn out doors and the cave’s interior was also beginning to turn more manmade. With a few pillars and burning… candles? That were hanging on the walls. It was a floating light of sorts so I am not sure what to call it. If I remember correctly, in this world, the lights are not powered with electricity. They are powered with mana. The candles here must be using the natural mana in this cave to continue burning.
It’s really giving me bad vibes.
Not just because of the gradual change in the scenery, but by the two Blood Bears that were running through those complex corridors, turning left and right without hesitation, as if they had some sort of destination in mind.
The moment they entered one really large corridor I felt an especially bad feeling, I stop for a moment and activate [Instinct of the Predator].
I see the 2 figures of the Blood Bears ahead of me flashing in red. And just ahead of them, at the tip of my 20m range… A yellow shape that was even bigger than the Blood Bears was flashing. I couldn’t see how it looked like because it was blocked by a wall, but for some reason, that yellow shape had an overbearing pressure in itself. I don’t know if it’s because of the atmosphere in here but what I knew was, they were looking for reinforcements.
This was the first thing that crossed my mind.
A mana beast that even the 2 Blood Bears would run for help. I couldn’t see anything besides that one large figure, I don’t want to start doubting the skills in this world, so I expect it to be only one.
I take out a stamina potion and drink it. Self-made. Having knowledge of the plants and materials that can work as healing agents does come in handy.
My buff has 15 minutes left now and my stamina is slowly healing itself from the ¼ that was depleted [Limit Break] doesn’t deplete much stamina compared to [Speed Burst] after all.
… If it turns dangerous, in my current body, I am able to barely withstand a second buff activation.
After I put away the empty flask of potion in my inventory, I take out my already tattered shield and enter the corridor. The two red figures of the Blood Bears were now beside the flickering yellow one. I keep a constant watch on them as I walk.
I place my back onto the entrance of what seems to be a chamber. The two red shapes were waiting for me at the two sides of it. Well, let me receive your heartwarming welcome.
I throw the shield I had into the chamber and immediately dash into the room, instantly shrinking my body the lowest as possible when I do. The distracted Blood Bears missed both of their late attacks as they were expecting me from a higher position. They must have already known that I was at the entrance since they should have [Instinct of the Predator] just like the other Blood Bear. In that case, taking advantage of that, I messed with their sense of positioning at the latest second.
That skill may predict where the opponent is, but it doesn’t predict their next movements.
I take my sword and immediately spin my lowered body and unsheathe it directly onto the feet of one of the Blood Bears. After that I kicked the Blood Bear that is now unstable and its body smashes onto the wall.
A [Wind Blade] comes right in between that and I quickly deflect it with my sword.
“It gets a bit predictable when you guys always throw them at these timings!”
I shout and unleash my sword onto the next Blood Bear but,
Something impacts my body, interrupting my attack and sends me tumbling to the ground.
A blood wrenching roar echoed through the wide chamber, when I turn my body I see the appearance of the previous yellow figure that I didn’t have the chance to see yet.
Thick crimson fur, fierce flashing yellow eyes, sharp teeth and a crazy amount of scars all over its body. It was clear that the monster in front of me had survived numerous life threatening fights and survived. The aura, the pressure it created was completely different from all the mana beasts I have fought since my arrival here. The aura of someone that stands at the top…
[Kaiser Blood Bear <Lord> <Level: 36>]
A lord class mana beast. It really was a boss monster.
Mana beasts have different types of ranks in this world depending on their danger levels. Normal, Lord, Emperor, Chaos, Tyrant, Catastrophe. The higher the rank in that mana beast, the higher the disparity in their strength to mana beasts of equal level. A Lord is 3 times stronger than one normal of the same level, Emperors 10 times, Chaos are 30 times and for Tyrant and Catastrophe I couldn’t find reliable information, or more like, no one survived against them or maybe they are just legends to create more ranks if they were to appear.
Because I can defeat 4 Blood Bear at once I should be fine? If the calculations worked like that I wouldn’t be this pressured. It’s the experience and skill. I can feel it even without having clashed properly with it yet. This towering sensation as if trying to push me down to the earth.
In the short while that I lost my self, the Kaiser Blood Bear jumps with its whole body at my location!
I quickly roll away from my position and barely evade the direct hit from its body press, but the heavy shock-wave that followed after it was enough to blow me away and smash me onto a boulder.
There was no time to rest, as soon as I collided with the boulder, the other Blood Bear had already charged to my location and with its whole self, it slammed my body in between the rock.
My body was severely injured by that ram.
The Blood Bear separates from me and my body slowly slides down from the boulder. Of course, its attacks hadn’t finished. A flurry of sharp claws were unleashed afterwards. I pull myself together and barely deflect some before I tumble away. I quickly open my inventory and select a healing potion.
The moment I drink that red liquid…
A giant boulder comes flying at me. Damn it!
Only able to drink half of the potion, I was forced to let go of it and quickly jump sideways.
And then… *Swish
I was met with a [Wind Blade] in the location I landed on. With no ways to evade, I met the full brunt of the spell and get blown away by it. Wind spells have the highest knockback ability. My body was easily lifted up from the ground and got smashed onto the walls.
The Blood Bear that I had cut one feet off was the one who casted that spell. It was still filled with vitality even when missing a limb.
This is the way the Blood Bears fight… They use their size and weight advantage to damage their opponents. Ramming their bodies onto their opponents and using their whole bodies to squash them. Their claws and magic are used to wither you away, their main weapon was that hard crimson armor-like fur they possess.
I can’t keep up…
This was the conclusion I have arrived to.
The Kaiser Blood Bear and the two Blood Bears.
I haven’t even seen the full extent of the Kaiser Blood Bear and I am already overwhelmed by their teamwork. I can’t help but praise the intelligence specs of these mana beasts.
If the whole mana beast race is like this, aren’t humans screwed? No, isn’t the world screwed?
10 minutes of [Limit Break]. 2 Blood Bears approaching. Screw it all. I was planning on using [Speed Burst] as my escape ticket if things went wrong but, screw it all.
I shout the skill from the top of my lungs, the roar echoed through the whole chamber, and the 2 Blood Bears’ that were approaching, trembled slightly before they stopped their feet.
Like hell I will lose to these guys! Like hell I can run when played around like this!
I said I wanted a proper fight. That I wanted to move my body.
This is perfect. I have found the perfect opponents. Ones that force me to use everything I have.
The pain that I felt through my whole body felt lighter and lighter. Yeah, this pain is nothing compared to the times when I couldn’t move at all.