A black striped demon bear lunged at Zachariel. The big beast was rather agile.
Zachariel stepped away to the right.
The big paws of the bear struck deeply at the tree behind him.
Zachariel tried to cut down its paws, but the bear agilely evaded it and counterattacked.
He was forced into a defensive position, grunting as he blocked the big paws with his polearm.
The muddy ground made it worse and he was slowly losing his grip.
He gathered wind mana essence and struck the place between him and the bear, forcibly breaking them away.
Zachariel landed back on the ground when suddenly, the air on his left warped.
Zachariel bent back, evading whatever was sent to him. The projectile hit a large tree, cracking its bark as if it was glass.
`Stone arrow?`, Zachariel noticed.
A low growl resounded, with a hint of annoyance behind it. The leaves rustled, and Zachariel thought that the creature must’ve already left.
The bear stood on its hind legs and growled loudly before charging at him. The earth shook with every step the bear has taken.
It then mauled at Zachariel, which the latter evaded easily and struck at its body.
The polearm was deflected. Despite his failed attack, Zachariel gathered a huge amount of dark mana essence.
An explosion occurred. Smoke filled his sight, waiting for the aftermath of his attack.
“Grrr!!!”, an angry growl disappointed Zachariel.
When the smoke settled, he saw the bear engulfed in earth mana essence, completely unharmed by the attack.
`What strong defensive capabilities. Better flee for now.`, Zachariel decided. Although the bear was fast, it wouldn’t be able to catch up to him if he went full speed.
He gathered dark mana essence and casted, ‘Dark Light!’, blinding the bear and escaped.
After an hour of evading pursuits from the other demon beasts, Zachariel finally left the area of the Dark Forest.
`I need some place to rest.`
He searched and found a pristine lake not far from the Dark Forest.
`I feel the presence of demon beasts here.`
Zachariel slowly trod towards the area, afraid that the group of demon beasts in the lake might rush at him.
One of the beasts noticed him, putting Zachariel on guard. It was a large bull with 8 long horns on its head. It was brown-skinned and was also muscular, standing at a height of 2 and a half meters, and 4 meters long.
The bull let out a snort and ignored him, looking back at the lake and drank water.
`It ignored me?`, Zachariel questioned.
He was still on guard though, in case the demon beast does something unexpected.
After slipping past the big bull, Zachariel noticed there were other demon beasts around, though they ignored his presence. Some of them roamed around, laid with their backs on the ground, or did the same thing as the bull from before.
If any of his classmates would see this now, they would be left dumbstruck.
But not Zachariel. He felt relieved that the demon beasts were peaceful in this area. For him, he didn’t need to know the reason behind such a strange behavior coming from them.
His body was filled with mud all over. He wanted to take a bath but he hesitated to do it in front of the beasts.
“Brat, you’ve got some good moves back there.”, Von appeared behind him.
“Senior.”, Zachariel nodded at him.
“How did you learn that darkness beam spell?”, Von asked.
“I only observed that angel, senior.”, Zachariel replied honestly, causing Von to raise his eyebrows in doubt.
Zachariel felt his hands, “After a while, it all felt natural to me as if I’ve learned it for a very long time.”
He extended his hands and casted the darkness beam spell, aiming it towards a big rock.
The rock exploded into pieces.
The demon beasts were startled, curious as to what the commotion was all about. After they saw that it was Zachariel launching a spell to a dummy target, they immediately lost interest.
`Interesting`, Von thought, `Must be his extense.`, he concluded.
Von didn’t question as to why Zachariel went to this place. If the young lad was that smart, it would be obvious to do such a thing.
“Senior, may I know where we are right now?”, Zachariel asked.
This place was too unfamiliar to him. He thought it was the Medullan Forest at first, but he realized that the trees were too tall, too thick, and very aggressive.
His parents would usually tell their stories with regards to their experiences in the frontlines at the Medullan Forest, but they never told him about such trees attacking people or other creatures out of nowhere.
“We’re still in the Imperium Continent, though very far from the Medullan Forest, and the Imperium Capital City.”, Von replied, “The forest you’ve been in to earlier is called The Dark Forest. It’s a very large forest that covers at least 10% of the Imperium Continent, or somewhere that line.”
His introduction shocked Zachariel, “10%?”
“Yes, big, isn’t it? This is the lair of the demon beasts who didn’t want to ally themselves with the Templars. You could call them the sane beasts, if you want.”, Von sarcastically told.
Zachariel wanted to ask something, but Von raised his hand and gestured a stop sign, “The Templars want something, while these demon beasts only want to live without someone ordering them. Just because they’re not allied with the Templars doesn’t mean they aren’t that threatening as well.”, Von reminded.
“Anyway, there are other interesting stuff inside the forest. Just go do your own thing and hope you are lucky enough to… experience those interesting stuff.”, Von smirked.
Zachariel was confused, `What’s senior up to now?`
Von raised his left hand and pointed it just above Zachariel’s figure, “Water Stream.”
Water poured down, drenching Zachariel and washing off the mud in his body.
Von then waved his hands and prepared a picnic spot right beside the lake. He took out an assortment of cooking pots and utensils, and some demon meat and vegetables as well.
“Come here lad. I’ll cook some food while you rest up.”, Von said while concentrating his earth mana essence to set up a makeshift kitchen.
Zachariel sat down on the striped cloth, slowly regaining the stamina he used up in his earlier battles.
`I realized that I am way too calm and act like an experienced veteran whenever I fight. The naivety, the nervousness, the inexperience. Every other student must, or do feel them, but I don’t.`
Zachariel took a deep breath, gripping his left fist.
`Also, my eyes seem to subconsciously observe any spells that my enemies try to conjure and cast. This must be one of the reasons why I was able to use that darkness beam spell earlier, though I am unsure what causes this. Is it because of the thing inside my head?`, he mused.
As he thought and analyzed the mysteries he encountered, a delicious smell wafted onto his nose.
Zachariel looked in Von’s direction and noticed the burly guy serving a variety of dishes.
“Senior, isn’t this a bit too much?”, Zachariel reminded.
“What do you mean by too much? This is just a snack! The real deal’s later. Now, go eat this stuff up.”
Zachariel felt throwing up after hearing Von’s reply.
Von manipulated his earth mana essence to construct a table. He placed the servings on it, “Now, come eat. We’ve got a lot of things to cover with your training. You wanted to become strong? Follow my orders. This training is just to prepare you for the worst. If you don’t want it, I’ll not restrain you from doing so, but you should know the consequences it might implicate you, alright?”, Von advised.
Zachariel listened in, then decided to do what Von wanted him to do.
He pulled a large plate with some crystal-like ice glittering under Solus’s light. For some reason, the environmental temperature doesn’t seem to affect the ice at all.
“It’s called the Sauteed Glacial Bark. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?”, Von introduced, “The main ingredient of this dish is a glacial tree that could only be found in the Ingradium Continent. Try it, you’ll love it.”
Zachariel was baffled.
`Maybe it’s a special kind of ice, I guess.`
He picked up a spoon and scooped one of the ‘ice shards’ on the plate. He then softly touched it with his finger and was shocked to find that it was tender like cotton.
`This is getting weirder`, Zachariel thought.
He took a mouthful of it, and felt the ice shard melting in his mouth. It tasted sweet and cold at the same time.
`Damn, this is too cold.`
Zachariel wondered if he could carry on like this as there were still a lot of ice shards left on the plate.
He hesitated to grab another serving, and instead faced the other even weirder three dishes.
Von pointed at a dish with a small ball engulfed in scarlet-red fire, “This one’s a hot and spicy dish. I call it…”, clearing his throat, “or rather what others call it, the burning fruit. Its main ingredient is the polyqepfru. You heard of the polyqepril, right? That’s where the name polyqepfru got its name as well.”
“Eat it last. The fruit inside will only come out once it has been heated for a certain period of time. Try these other three.”
Zachariel didn’t have any choice but to follow.
“Ugh…”, Zachariel laid on the ground with a bloated belly.
“Get up, brat. We have more things to do.”, Von urged.
Zachariel struggled to get up, slowly losing focus because his belly was too full.
Von sighed at this and waited for Zachariel to recover.
`Surely his talent is way out of my expectations. He could cast spells or skills that his eyes observe in a short amount of time. Does this also apply to extenses?`, Von thought.
`I don’t think so. That would be ridiculous if he could.`, denying immediately.
`The Compound Manalytic Restriction doesn’t apply to him. It’s as if his entire body is in harmony regardless of his actions.`
Von’s reasoning was primarily because Zachariel could simultaneously use windwalk and shadow steps.
`Drawing two different mana essences of different nature, and gather them on the same body spot. If any other Prospect would do that, they would have to say goodbye to their legs.`
He wouldn’t be surprised if Zachariel could gather wind mana essence on his one leg, then dark mana essence on his other leg. But to draw both mana essence to both legs was a violation of the so-called Compound Manalytic Restriction.
Von massaged his temples, feeling the headache of trying to comprehend how could Zachariel bypass such a restriction.
During this time, Zachariel was able to recover and his bloated belly diffused.
“Senior, I’m all okay now. Shall we proceed?”, he urged.
Von nodded, “I’ll be teaching you the basics of qi essence application. Based on your fights earlier, you haven’t touched your qi essence at least once in the fight. If you did, you wouldn’t have a hard time beating that black striped demon bear.”
“You may be wondering about what’s the edge of qi essence that it remains popular even today? Mana essence cultivators could launch devastating long-range magical spells, enhance their body using mana essence, and layer their weapons with mana essence as well.”
“But what about qi essence?”, Von raised his left index finger.
“Well, qi essence is primarily used in order to enhance a qi essence cultivator’s physical prowess. Let me give you a demonstration.”
Von walked towards a large tree.
“If I punch this tree with my raw physical strength…”
His left fist penetrated the tree’s bark, though not as deep as one thought it would.
“As you can see, I can only do this much. But if I apply my liquefied qi essence to my arm…”
Von’s arms enlarged and a yellow-greenish aura manifested in his left arm. He didn’t punch but only slapped the tree this time.
The entire tree was blown into pieces, uprooting it as well. The trees behind it were greatly affected.
It was as if a great wave washed over them, creating a piercing mark centered at the tree that Von just slapped.
Zachariel was awestruck, `How powerful!`
It was just a slap, but that slap was so strong it decimated the existence of the large tree.
`If senior punched earlier, I wonder what could’ve happened…`
Von faced Zachariel, looking at him with the disposition of a supreme warrior.
“This is the power of qi essence, Zachariel Strom.”
Von smiled, “Now, let’s proceed on how to do it, shall we?”
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