Gehma growled at 4 adventurers who seemed up to no good. Those adventurers looked like a group of thugs wearing shabby leather armors.
- “Whoa, whoa! Relax there, beast. We won’t harm you, at least not yet”
- “Hehe, someone is generously left their mount for us without a sign of ownership. Look how beautiful her fur is, I bet it’ll fetch us some good coins”
Another one chimed in.
- “Lask, Rolen, quit fooling around. We don't want any trouble, or the knights will be on our tail. Kanthar, get the artifact ready."
- “Slurp.. don’t worry, Chief. It’s not our first time, and this one is rather easy”
Kanthar pulled out a collar shackle from his backpack. It was big enough to put around a beast’s neck.
- “What grade is it?”
Val asked to Kanthar, standing behind him.
- “It’s a rare grade artifact, you punk. Did you already forg-eeeik!”
Kanthar jumped in surprise as he turned to yell. Val had been standing behind them for quite a while but none of them were aware of his presence. The adventurers flinched and took a step back, surprised to see a hooded boy standing so close to them.
- “W-Who are you? Where did you come from?”
Kanthar asked, still in shock.
- “She’s my companion”
Val pointed to Gehma.After a quick exchange of signals, the chief decided to take a different approach.
- “Young traveler, why don’t you come with us? Don’t even think of rebelling. This big guy Lask is a High-Priest, and you don’t want to deal with all 4 of us when you are just a puny seedless worm”
The chief said in low voice putting his hand on Val's shoulder and exerting some mana pressure.Seedless individuals like Val were easily distinguishable because they lacked any divinity.
Val held back a sigh and decided to play along. He nodded timdly and pretended to be frightened
- ‘Well done not ripping their heads off, Gehma. Wait a little, I’ll take care of this’
He shared his thoughts with Gehma while being dragged away by the adventurers. Gehma sat back and watched them entering a dark alleyway.
Soon, blue light flashed out from that alleyway several times, startling the passersby. Then,Val came out, walking lesuriely.
- ‘Gaia child, when we leave?’
Gehma asked, eager to reach Dunnet-Un.
- ‘Don’t rush. You ran all night without any rest and you need to do it again one more time. So, sleep well and eat well, we’re going to leave after sunset’
After sharing thoughts, they moved toward an inn. Val rented a room for a day and bought accommodation and food services for Gehma.
- ‘Let’s see’
Alone in his room which was on the second floor, Val took out the collar shackle artifact from his inventory. It was the first artifact he had come across after arriving in this world, so he took it away from the adventurers after beating them.
With curiousity growing, he scanned it with Appraisal Window.
[Name: Garmr’ Jougs]
[Description: Can tame an unintellectual beast and create a link between the beast and captor. However, the captor must be stronger than the beast]
- “That means it can only work on beasts up to the Legendary rank since higher-ranked ones are intelligent. It wouldn't have worked on Gehma either because she's intelligent due to her mutation”
He deducted the criteria to use the artifact before putting it back into his inventory.
- ‘Since I have time, I should stock up food rations in bulk to use in Dunnet-Un’
Val came out of the Inn and headed toward the shops
- ‘Even though it’s a theocratic world, there is no restructions on meat. But it’s not good to consume for spiritual practises, more so here than earth. Everyone has an unique mana signature here and consuming flesh means allowing foreign mana into my body. Though, it doesn’t affect mentally or physically in negative way but spritually, it alters ones spiritual origin’
- ‘It’s not about proteins and taste but emotions and energy. After all, you are what you eat’
It didn’t matter if original Val had consumed meat. Spiritual conciousness is linked with soul not body. He went into a shop and ordered 10 large sacks of different whole grains to delivered to his Inn.
- ‘Since I don’t have anything else to shop, I should meditate for the time being and make a plan to sneak out of this place’
Val started heading toward his inn after exiting the shop.
- ‘Sigh~ this again?’
As he was walking back to the inn, Val sensed the gaze of 8 people on him from different directions. They were adventurers of different races, monitoring his actions as soon as he left the inn. They were discreet at first but started making mistakes when Val blended into the crowd.
- ’I should ignore them for now. They won’t do anything stupid to attract Javer’s attention anyway’
Returning back to the inn, he informed the owner about his purchases and told him to store it here until he leave. Then, he indifferently headed toward his room but after having an intuition, stopped in front of the door andactivated ‘Mana Sense’.
Two people were hiding in the corners of his room near the ceiling, waiting to ambush him.
- ‘They must have a stealth type skill. Are these people sent by those thugs to get the artifact back?’
He wondered. For some people, a single artifact could be more valuble than their life, as it might be their only source of income.
- ‘These fools only learn the hard way’
Val took out the receipt of his previous purchase and dropped it on the floor. Keeping his eyes on both people inside, he knocked on the door and slipped the receipt inside the room from the bottom using mana.
Both people flinched becuasethey hadn't sensed anyone outside. It surprised them, and they became even more alert. However, the piece of paper on the floor had captured their full attention, sparking their curiosity.
Signalingto each other and sensing no one outside, one person came down without making any sound and moved cautiously to pick up the paper.
Meanwhile, Val created two long ice needles on both hands, and checked his surroundings. As soon as the person bent down to pick the receipt, he shot one needle right through the wall at the face of second person and the other needle right through the door toward the lung of first person.
Both people fell down, one being dead and the other injured. Val entered the room shocking the first person, a Horaen woman.
- “I don’t want the adventurers around here to smell the blood”
Val froze the corpse of second person(man) into ice and lowered the temperature of his room. Standing with hood covering his face, black eyes glowing with blue rings, and his breath forming vapors, he looked quite intimidating.
- “Huff.. Huff.. P-Please, spare me”
Horrified, she pleaded, crawling away while clutching her wound
- “Sure, but tell me first. Why are around 10 people targeting me?”
He asked indiffrently, crouching down near her.
- “Huff.. W-We were offered a reward for assassination”
She panted, having difficulty in breathing.
- “Someone put a bounty on my head? ”
- “Who? How did they specify me?”
- “N-Nobody knows. His face was covered and h-he disappeared as soon as giving the job. He gave us details about y-your armor and mount”
- ‘Killing me! not retrieving the artifact? It’s someone else, someone from Kelnar. Those thugs can’t put a reward which attract 10 people. Who is behind all of this? Mother? Or maybe Zion? Did he send someone to put a bounty on my head?’
Val thought about the possibilities
- “M-May I go now”
She asked, her complexion turning pale.
- “Of course”
He stood up and then the woman. She bowed and turn to leave through the window, but as soon as she reached the window, her body froze with a thin Ice layer.
- “Of course, I was lying”
With the same expressionless face, he moved the corpses into the bathroom and cleaned up the mess.
- ‘They won’t make a scene in fear of Javer and dealing with them isn’t important enough. I need to think of a way to sneak away without Javer’s knowledge’
He sat upside down, meditating on the ceiling, right above the window of his room. Just like that, dusk arrived and darkness fell over.
In the dark, he sat unmoved from his position. Many people came to assassinate him from the window. Some left after finding the room empty not sensing any presence but those who brazenly broke in to search for loot were now on the ceiling, 6 of them, frozen and dead.
The war horn blew loudly, signaling a monster attack on the outpost. His eyes shot open, glowing with blue rings. Val came down and stored his food ration in inventory secretly. Then, he went straight to Gehma at the back of Inn.
- “Time to go, Gehma”
Gehma carrying him on her back, dashed toward the west gate, pushing everone away. She was happy as she had been waiting for this moment.
- “Gehma, take the left and use your mist. We need to pass through the gate without getting seen”
Val sticked close to her and Gehma obeyed him. Mist started releasing from Gehma’s fur and shrouded both of them. Because of the monster attack, there were only few knights stayed guarding the south gate.
Watching the mist approach them, the knights panicked but quickly throw themselves out of the way when a ball of fire came out from the mist toward the gate.
Detroying the south gate, Val and Gehma ran out from the outpost.
- ‘I was thinking of something else but really got lucky with the mosnter attack’
Thought Val while lying low on Gehma. He took advantage of chaos and sneaked through the south gate. He planned to go few kms in southwest direction then redirect to west toward Dunnet-Un.
Gehma was running at the peak of her speed beacuse of her activated mutation. Her eyes and her golden markings glowed with a golden radiance, her body got slightly bigger and fur elongated a bit.
In the midnight when they changed direction to west, Val suddenly looked back having an intuition but didn’t see anything in the vast open wildland. Continue to look back, a dot of light emerged peering through the darkness like a start.
- “What is that?”
At his question, the dot rapidly grew bigger. He quickly realized the danger and used mana to uplift the ground behind him, creating and leaving a large earth wall.
The earth wall shattered and was engulfed in fire, startling Gehma, who slowed down.
- “Some people are chasing us, Gehma. Don’t slow down no matter what. I’ll take care of the back”
He reasured and Gehma sped up in response.
- ‘Enhance Vision’
Channeling mana, blood veins bulged up around his eyes. 500m away, he saw 6 people chasing them. Sensory enhancement skills like this were usually painful and avoided. His eyes started bleeding but he strained himself to see more.
- ‘Doesn’t seem like knights or part of a single group from their armors, must be bounty hunters. Face covered, they are riding an agility type beasts, which explains how they caught up to us. They are strong, especially the one who shot the fire arrow from that distance’
Canceling the skill, he indifferently wiped blood from his face and prepared himself.
- ‘First, I need to deal with their mounts. Without them, they can’t keep up with us’
He discreetly changed the formation of ground behind him, creating small spikes. Small enough to go unnoticed but capable of compounding the damage on their mounts.
Val quickly raised the ground behind him to meet the incoming fire arrow. When the group reached close to the spiked ground, Val shot ice arrows above their head to distract them from their mounts.
The bounty hunters used divinity to form a golden barrier above and deflected the ice arrows. They exchanged the same attacks for half hour while Val kept on changing the ground formation discreetly.
His plan bore fruit. The mounts of the bounty hunters suddenly crashed on the ground, throwing their riders off.
- ‘Sigh, give me a rest’
Val thought they’d give up but looking back, the bounty hunters started chasing him using divinity as soon as they got up. Only the archer stayed back while 2 hunters dashed toward him and other 3 were also coming fast with explosive jumps.
- ‘I can handle them without the archer’
Val used all mana to enhance his physical limit, and his body started emanating violent blue aura.
- “It won’t be enough, seedless”
One bulky hunter leaped over Val with an axe. The moment he raised his axe, Val used Gehma’s back to thrust himself toward the hunter, kicking his face, and knocking him out in cold.
- “Pay for our mount”
Two scrawny hunters tried to attack Gehma from the sides with daggers but Val quickly used ‘Lightning Whips of Duality’ to strangle their neck, and pulled them back. Scrawny hunters crashed and rolled on the ground after being electrocuted and Val get back on Gehma using the momentum.
- “Heh, serves them right, but I’m the one taking your head”
One of the remaining hunter declared before firing several fire balls ahead of Gehma
But she moved swiftly and dodged them easily. The moment when explosion and dust obscured Val’s vision, the other hunter body-slammed him and took Val down from Gehma.
But Val was one step ahead. In mid-air before even touching the ground, he took out his sword and plunged it into the hunter’s back, killing him.
- “I-I surrender. P-Please, I knew this request was unreasonable. N-Nobody offers this much money for a seedless..”
The last hunter pleaded on his knee. Val stood indifferently watching his farce, he knew that it was all an act to let his guard down. So, he signaled Gehma who was coming back to him from behind the hunter.
Gehma came dashing and gnawed the head of hunter.
- ‘Shall we continue?’
Val asked and Gehma nodded
- ‘It’s finally in view’
First ray of sun greeted the Lower Realm, and Dunnet-Un came in sight. Dark and huge forest valley which can be seen even from a great distance.
They were only few kilometers away from their destination, and it was right in front of them. However, just like a hissing snake, a familiar sound echoed behind them.
Val quickly turned around in surprise, instinctively raising multiple layers of an earth wall behind him.
The walls shattered into dust, giving rise to a small fiery mushroom cloud. Gehma managed to keep her balance after being hit by the shockwave. The intensity of that single attack gave goosebumps to Val.
He looked back and saw the archer back in chase, approaching very fast, riding a totally different white panther like beast.
But the thing that greatly shocked Val was the identity of archer. It was Zelos.Val quickly understood his plan but couldn't able to figure out the reason. From the beginning, Zelos never cared about Val. He even feigned ignorance of Val's existence. So, what was the motive?
Breaking free from his thoughts, Val saw several fire arrows coming at him
- “This family is really twisted”
He muttered, annoyed. Since, Val could use the mana of the nature without absorbing it, this time he activatedMana Sense and froze a snake-like vein of nature’s mana behind him to trap the fire arrows in between.
- “So, this is the great power Father mentioned earlier. I must fullfil my duty and end his life here”
Zelos declared as he passed under the frozen mana vein.
#SummertimeSweetness Vikar, you are a very talented creator! Your world building and action writing are really well done. You're also very kind and friendly and I enjoy reading your comments :) keep up the great work, my friend! You're doing awesome! :)