During two previous days, Rey killed most of the Zurds, which lived in the holes. However, only level of [Throwing: Daggers] advanced, giving him a new skill [Return]. Thanks to this skill, he could return a thrown weapon back in his hand. He knew that he did not kill all of them, since the remaining several tens of Zurds did not come out even at night. And Rey, on the other hand, did not want to go down, because it would be very uncomfortable to fight there. That is why he simply continued his journey towards north.
Right now, he was carefully moving through prickly thicket, which could not damage him in any way due to his armor. Rey was pretty sure that he would not become a prey, since fifty meters ahead there was his loyal ally: the same tame Zurd. The moans emitted by his poor fellow, who touched all the spikes with his skin, drew attention of the all nearby wild beasts, so Rey could easily deal with all of them.
Continuing to move in such a simple way, they left the dense part after an hour. But Rey still did not allow the Zurd to come closer to him. The poor creature was completely covered in bloody cuts and scratches, attracting all surrounding predatory creatures within a certain radius.
Suddenly, Rey stopped, because the endless moans simply disappeared. Instantly crouching, Rey slowly went to the place where he lost sight of the Zurd.
Within a period of half a minute, Rey noticed the reason of the disappearance of his pet. And it turned out to be a panther. This panther was about one and a half times bigger than a usual Earth’s horse. The beast was pressing the head of the Zurd to the ground with one of its paws, while tearing off the poor creature’s flesh with another.
Rey actually did not care about the fate of the Zurd; right now, he was much more worried about the beast in front of his eyes. On the panther's body there could be seen strong muscles even through its thick blue-black fur. It was obvious that the panther tried very hard not to kill the Zurd, because any careless movement could turn his head into mincemeat. The panther’s tail resembled a spear, because it had a sharp bony tip. Though there were no doubts that this tail was much more dangerous than any spear.
Carefully watching the happening scene, Rey took out his longbow and one of the poisoned arrows from the Inventory. Gently loading the bow with the arrow, Rey noticed that the panther's ears twitched and it turned its blue eyes to him.
Rey’s heart literally froze; he was sure that did not make any noise. Looking at Rey with estimating gaze, the big cat snorted and continued to play with the Zurd. Rey barely managed to hold himself to not to breathe a sigh of relief. He was not surprised by the attitude of the panther at all, because it had the right to act in such manner. Rey’s only hope was poison, and if it would not work, he would have to flee far away from here. Right now, there were almost seventy meters between them, but there were no doubts that this distance was nothing to such a predator.
He had the same feeling only when he stood in front of the huge spider. But if Rey did not even think about fighting against such a monster back then, then this case with the panther was different. This panther had powerful aura of the king of these places, who was not afraid of anyone in this area.
Having pulled the bowstring to its limit, Rey released the arrow glowing green. In the blink of an eye, the arrow flew seventy meters and hit the panther’s hind right leg.
Despite the fact that an arrow fired with such a force could almost completely enter into a tree, only half of its tip plunged into the panther’s skin.
Without waiting any longer, Rey hid the bow back in the Inventory. At the same moment, a thundering roar broke the silence of the Forest. Upon taking a last look at the panther, which turned towards him, Rey started running, regretting that he did not make a container with pure potion, because a concentration of one to six seemed too light for this beast.
Jumping headfirst in the direction of few trees, which were located very close to each other, Rey turned into a Snow Snake. Among all the bodies he had this was the most unnoticeable one.
When Rey slipped out of the armor, he heard a loud thud with the following crack of the trees. Rey already understood what had just happened, so he continued to move at full speed towards the densest cluster of trees. He could clearly hear the cat rushing after him and breaking trees with its huge body. Although only five seconds passed, Rey realized that he was losing speed, so he frantically started to look for a life-saving way.
He did not dare to turn into a Tildas, because he needed some time to fly up and there were no doubts that the panther would be able to jump several meters.
At this moment, with the corner of his eye he found a salvation. Having circled another tree, Rey heard how the panther crashed into it. Without wasting any time, he immediately crawled into a fallen tree trunk with some space inside it, which was there due to a process of the rotting. Afterwards, Rey turned into a Sun Devourer and curled up, not daring to produce a sound.
He could clearly see the huge spot of heat passing by the fallen tree.
And he was really lucky. If the panther had not crashed into the last tree, it would not have been able to miss the moment when Rey crawled into the tree trunk.
After the panther moved ten meters away from the tree, it suddenly fell to the ground, releasing a loud howl.
‘Well… Anyway, it’s worth increasing the concentration of poison. It was too close.’
And even so, Rey did not immediately leave his shelter. Only when he was completely sure that the panther was not moving, he carefully came out. He did not want to miss such a strong soul.
But, to his surprise, the wild cat still was not dead. The panther almost instantly turned its head towards the snake, which seemingly appeared from nowhere. Upon trying to emit a roar, which turned out to be very dull, and to move its body, which was already under effect of the poison, the beast had finally accepted its fate. Having witnessed this scene, Rey turned back into a humanoid form and took out the bow, activating [Strengthened Shot]. He loaded the bow with another poisoned arrow and fired, but at the very last moment it changed trajectory and disappeared somewhere in the Forest.
‘I should try this first.’
Upon hiding the bow, Rey opened the Status and made sure that the previously subordinate Zurd died. Taking out a new set of armor from the Inventory, he quickly dressed up. Rey was not sure that this atanite armor would endure any attack of this panther, but this was better than nothing.
Stopping from the panther at a distance of three meters, Rey looked into its blue eyes. Although the beast was on its last leg, its look was still terrifying.
The panther's breath became weaker, and Rey, after hesitating for a moment, broke one of Zurds’ souls. At the same moment, a stream of energy escaped from his chest and went straight to the panther.
Rey found out that he can do this only yesterday, when he managed to absorb a soul of a dead Zurd from a distance of twenty meters. And a small experiment confirmed his guess that the opposite manipulation was also possible. He could pull out his own souls and move them outside his body; the same could be done with energy.
After entering the beast’s body, the energy returned a little bit of light to its eyes, prolonging the panther’s life. At that very moment, Rey used [Submission] and watched the blue eyes of the beast turned green. When the process was completed, Rey checked the Status, making sure that the panther belongs to him now.
Afterwards, he broke a dozen souls of Zurds and gradually directed the received energy to the body of his new pet. The panther started to purr, because it seemingly felt a rush of power. And after six dozen souls, the panther finally got up. The panther was so big that Rey had to raise his own head to look to his pet’s head. At this moment, the panther slightly bended down and touched Rey’s chest with its muzzle, involuntarily pushing him away.
Rey really liked this gesture, so he patted his pet’s head in response, making the panther to lower its ears with satisfaction. The fur was very soft and pleasant to the touch; after few minutes, Rey finally let his pet go. Who would have thought that only a few minutes ago he fled from this cute predator with the deepest fear in his heart.
As Rey found out in the process of their meeting, the panther was a male. After returning back and picking up the guilfar armor, which he dropped while running away, Rey continued to move north, stroking the panther's side, which was hard like steel, from time to time.