Mermerri’s Cottage had always prided itself on being more receptive and unreserved than the Scar of the Death Bell, which was often perceived as an inhumane faction. Mermerri’s members were lovers of life and were passionate researchers of the universe’s mysteries with a focus on botany and the occult.
The level-one female Magister didn’t think much of Locke. A mere quasi-Ritter couldn't possess any familiar worthy of concern. He would at most have a high-rank major monster so she waved him in, turning her attention to the next in line. A high-rank major monster mount… He’ll only have a shot for sixth place at most, thought the Magister.
The portal’s complicated array brought Locke into the Enchanted Forest Realm. The sight that welcomed him upon exiting the blinding green lights was an untouched forest with dense foliages and ridiculously huge trees. The ground was covered with tall healthy grasses that reached his knees. Locke took a good look around, noticing no one in sight.
It became apparent that the portal was capable of random teleportation too, a concept that he was familiar with since he was always around casters. Dimension warping was frontier knowledge back in the Three Western Isles. Information about the subject was almost inaccessible even for a high-rank Lehrling like Angelina. Hence, it was a huge surprise to see such an intricate contraption used by a mid-scale caster organisation on the east coast. Angelina would’ve been ecstatic to observe the portal up close and personal.
He looked around, confirming that there was no one else around him. Locke pulled out a Scouting Eye scroll and tore it up, unleashing its effect on him. The boost would help add another thirty-metre visibility and see past all illusions that were conjured by high-rank spells and below. This had been one of the most precious mana scrolls kept in the Faustian Royal Treasury, given by Angelina before they left the kingdom.
Locke tore up three more scrolls: Speedy Wind, Bear Strength and Steel Armour. He was determined to do all he could to attain his desired reward. The sheer price of the four scrolls combined was already as hefty as the ninth and tenth prizes offered by Mermerri’s Cottage. Swoosh! He zoomed away on a search for his first prey.
One day later, a fully armoured knight was crouched over one of the many lakes in the Enchanted Forest Realm. He washed his dagger, accompanied by the limp body of a high-rank saw-toothed shark monster on the side. Half its head was gone and its red pungent blood was oozing into the lake water. Weirdly enough, the blazing piranhas infesting the waters dared not come close to the enticing meal.
The knight put away his weapon to swipe his skull brooch across the carcass. A slight buzz of energy entered his brooch and once the sensation faded away, he kicked the fish carcass into the lake.
“Looks like I’ll be having shark fin for dinner,” The knight mumbled under his heavy helmet. He’d harvested most of the useable parts off the shark along with its crystal core. All that was left of it was nothing but a pile of waste meat.
He strode away and the fierce bubbles began to disrupt the calm surface of the lake. The piranhas have finally come to peck at the shark carcass. The knight glanced over at the nearest peak which would be his next destination. He leapt for some momentum and began jumping over, his speedy motions making him a blur of colours. The space around him vibrated with mana, an indication that he’d used some spell scrolls.
He arrived at his destination in the afternoon. There had been three major monsters that tried to hinder his path and they were inevitably turned into fuel for his skull brooch. The knight had accumulated an astounding score of 311 at this point of the game!
Considering that slaughtering a low-rank major monster gave 1 mark; a mid-rank major monster 10 marks; a high-rank major monster 50 marks and a base-rank major monster 200 marks, the knight’s body count was ridiculous. It had only just been a day since they arrived in the realm!
The knight rolled his tensed shoulders, figuring that it was about time to rest and resume his action at night. A high-rank banded tyrant bear had attacked him earlier and the fight that ensued had seemed to leave him with a hairline fracture in his right arm. It was time to circulate his impetus to heal it.
He expertly made a bonfire and placed two skewered sharkfins by the fire. The fresh fragrance of meat and the richness of fish oil perfumed the air, creating a wonderful sensory treat. However, the enticing scent of food and a lone traveller in the dark woods was a recipe for trouble. The knight was fully aware of that. In fact, he was trying to make use of the obvious danger.
It was tiring to actively seek out major monsters in the day since the Enchanted Forest Realm was way larger than he’d imagined. It was definitely more effective to lure the monsters out and have half the job done. Many monsters were nocturnal, after all. Most of his scores had been accumulated through the night.
He flipped his helmet up and took a huge bite off the crisp roasted sharkfin. He could feel presences gathering around his vicinity. Everything was according to plan and the knight continued to kneel by the fire. It was only when he was almost done with the shark fins that something began to move.
“Alright, time to work again.” He languidly cleaned his oily fingers with a leaf before manifesting his longsword. “Come on!” The knight flipped his helmet piece down and studied the approaching monsters through the metal gaps.
He tore up two other scrolls, immediately receiving a boost to his knightly body. Abruptly, he ignored the wolves to stare at the huge tree in his northwest. Something was off.
All that was left of the wolf pack was a haphazard mess of corpses and whimpering casualties half an hour later. He went forward, plunging his sword to silence the wolves, feeling his brooch vibrate with energy once again. Once he got close to the corpse that’d fallen closest to the tree, he dashed to the three unannounced.
“It’s rude to stare. How about you show yourself now?!” the knight shouted.
As anticipated, a shadow sprinted away from the tree and Locke.
“Ha! Trying to run away?!” Locke circulated a flood of impetus to his feet, further increasing his speed. “Get down here!” He chopped the air in front of him and the figure screamed as it fell to the ground with a loud thud.
“It’s been a while since I saw another human,” Locke smirked devilishly as he inched closer to the mass.
“Stop! I’m part of the Phantom Tower, don’t you dare touch me!” The shadow clambered away frantically.
“I don’t care where you’re from. Put down your score brooch and perhaps I’ll show you some mercy.”