Chapter 20

(Please note, not edited/checked/PR-ed. You may run into a questionable grammar or two. If you spot them, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!!)

Kain set upon immediately to disguise the ditch with Earthen Walls. He may be still thirsty and hungry, but by resting, he had recovered enough Aeterna to cast his most trusted spell. This way, he made a new shelter that didn’t stand out too much from the surroundings, that blended in pretty well with the small hill itself. Plus, there was enough wiggle room for him inside. With a little housekeeping, he could stay here indefinitely.

He took another break after finishing the shelter. He was low on energy after all, and couldn’t sustain any extended activity. Feeling somewhat secure, he ended up drifting into a soft slumber, but only to wake up when he heard a sound he shouldn’t have.

It was a distant, eerie laughter.

He snapped out, and became alert immediately. He quickly spread his sense of Aeterna to see if anything’s amiss, but there were none. It was as if he was hallucinating.

It probably was. The laughter was that of a girl, playful but ephemeral and fleeting. He told himself it was his mind just recalling Kaleena’s laughter from the past, because of his homesickness.

The rain had stopped, and the sun was out from the overcast clouds. By his estimation, it might not rain for the rest of the day. He could be wrong, but still, this was good. He would use this opportunity to hunt for food.

Procuring sustenance was the utmost priority. His belly has been growling so hard, he got scared that the noise might alert the nearby Fiends. That would not have been nice at all.

Confirming there weren’t any man-eating creatures nearby, he carefully slipped out of the hiding place and started his search for birds. There were audible chirps coming from above, signaling they were indeed out and about. Strangely though, he couldn’t spot a single one.

And so, Kain wasted an hour trying to locate a bird. He became pretty desperate, so eventually, he decided to expand the scope of his search to include even the small animals. At that point, even rabbits were fine because he needed food so bad.

His searches were regularly interrupted by the massive Fiends the size of trucks and buses passing by, necessitating him to hide his presence, away from their sights. One common theme among these huge monsters were their sharp fangs. Even he could tell they were not herbivores. One bite, and he’d be a dead man. Hiding was all he could do.

He had to rely on his Aeterna sense for the survival. It was impractical to do so all the time, however. It drained his stamina, and if he was too fatigued, then that would be curtains for him, for real. But it was truly an emergency situation, so there was no helping it. He had to rely on it, and push himself hard.

When he couldn’t find anything, he decided to change tact. Rather than aimlessly wandering around, he’d stand still, and observe instead. Be still with nature, become as non-threatening as possible in the eyes of the small critters.

Coupled with his Aeterna sense, his patience eventually paid off. He was able to spot well-camouflaged birds sitting on the branches, unmoving.

Kain was understandably elated. However, his excitement cooled down quickly after that. Because it turned out that finding a prey and hunting the said prey were two very different things.

He was able to pinpoint the location of a bird, but trying to snipe it with a Wind type Invocation was an exercise in frustration.

The big issue was that he had no formal training, lacking knowledge in many different spells for the different occasions. He had to use an improvised spell to get by, and that was not sufficient enough.

Just like it was with a Wind Blade, he modified Breeze into a sniper rifle-like spell thinking the idea might give him the necessary penetrating power he needs. But then, he lacked a projectile that could act as a bullet. So he picked up small pebbles and rocks. Two problems reared their ugly heads with his attempt at becoming a hunter.

All living things, be that birds or rabbits, ran away the moment they sensed disturbance around them. Kain couldn’t hit a moving target at all, no matter how many times he tried. He needed practice and experience for that.

Secondly, he simply lacked enough oomph to propel the pebble into a killing weapon. It needed to be really fast, but he just couldn’t do it. All that trying led to him wasting more time and energy, nearly depleting his Aeterna Pool.

No matter how he looked at it, things were not going well at all. In hindsight, he hadn’t thought this through properly.

But desperate struggles for survival could bring forth an amazing miracle. A lucky event that can only be described as a heaven-sent.

When another attempt failed to hit a medium-sized bird sitting well hidden on a branch, it flew off with ruffled feathers. But rather than running off like the usual, this foolhardy avian creature swooped down and went straight for Kain’s head instead. It was clearly going for a retaliatory strike.

Instinctively, he raised his hands to defend his poor head, and fired off an Invocation with his eyes closed out of fear. He wasn’t even fully aware of what spell he cast, but whatever it was, it worked splendidly.

The speeding bird slammed hard into an invisible barrier mere inches from his face, and fell down on the ground. Its neck was bent at an uncomfortable angle, as if someone had twisted it hard. It wasn’t the first time Kain caused death with a broken neck, and his luck netted him one more victim to add to the list.

He was dazed for a second, trying to understand what just happened. He picked up the limp bird, and it hit him – he cast a spell of Earthen Wall, except he did that with Wind Element. So, he ended up with…. Wind Wall instead. Or was that an Air Wall?

It was all done reflexively, to protect his body from harm. But now, he somehow lucked into a meal thanks to that.

Realizing that he finally tasted success, Kain fell on his knees and thanked whatever deity that provided him with this glorious, life-saving meal.

But again, his enthusiasm cooled quickly once more. A new problem came to light when he tried to pluck the feathers. He had no idea how to prepare this game.

He didn’t know how to skin it. He had no idea what to do at all with blood and the internal organs. What about its brain? Just thinking about the gooey mess caused him to lose appetite.

Oh, man. How the heck should I eat this thing?! Dang it, if it isn’t one headache after another. Gimme a freaking break.

And looking at the dead bird in his hands, he felt slightly melancholic. He took a life without hesitation. It didn’t matter that this wasn’t his first time doing that. It still felt wrong somehow and the ordeal left a bad taste in his mouth.

In the end, what’s done was done. There was no going back. In order to survive, he had to kill. Even though he understood this cruel and uncaring fact of life, he still felt like he had chewed on a cockroach or something equally bitter.

What a screwed up way of living. Or is it just me who’s being too sentimental?

As he stood around feeling conflicted, he was completely unaware of a pair of eyes observing him. Of course, there was no way he would ever feel them – the eyes probing his actions were situated a huge distance away.

There were no malice in those deep, mysterious stares, only the sparkling glint of interest, as it continued to probe the boy silently.


In the end, he ate the bird faster than humanly possible. That was the power of unjust starvation at work. Kain got a small flame going once more, and he roasted the whole bird in one go. Using the newly-developed Wind Blade, he cut the meat in half, and ravenously dug into it, not even bothering to return to his shelter.

The smell of sizzling flesh was too much for his ravaged psyche and he lost all decorum. The taste he experienced in that moment was the single most life altering one ever, unlikely to be forgotten for the rest of his life. It was that good.

But he still held onto enough sense to avoid eating the internal organs, as well as its head, not to mention the feathers. As expected, he couldn’t go past the gross factor of those gooey organs and the brain. He had his limits, and those were in danger of breaching them.

The remains were buried beneath a mound of dirt he dug quickly after the meal. It was to hide any traces of him being here, lest some Fiend catches on and seeks him out. He did not want that to happen, obviously.

Still, to be prudent, he moved away from the area. Since he was now quite confident of his chances at catching his meals, he had no problem moving from this particular area which was well stocked with birds. He was able to hunt any type of birds now, so he wouldn’t go hungry, as long as he remained careful of his surroundings and utilize his Aeterna sense to its fullest.

After moving, he hunted for a while longer. He’d rouse the hiding birds from the tree branches, and when they take flight, strike them down with Wind Wall. It worked 90% of the time, rapidly turning this day into a good one for him.

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Of course, he had to evade some troublesome Fiends and other, large fearsome predators roaming the forest. Thanks to Aeterna sense, Kain could avoid the biggest ones since they were easiest to spot, but since his detection range wasn’t all that stellar, the small to medium sized ones posed serious challenges.

He’d hunker down, and stop breathing until the giant creatures sauntered by. This happened infrequently though, and he didn’t get discovered once. Scary, but they all counted as a learning experience for him. At the rate he was going, he might morph into a first class shinobi in no time.

He did become painfully aware of his lack of power and a serious need to come up with other, more effective Invocation spells as quickly as possible. His current set of spells were too inadequate, too limited in scope. He wasn’t going to stay breathing for long at this rate.

The forest was too full of dangers at every turn – from easy-to-miss poisonous plants of various sizes and guises to giant centipedes spewing out toxic gasses, from purple colored insects that shoot out corrosive acids to giant scorpions with metallic carapaces, from ten-feet tall roosters with oily feathers to dinosaur-looking monsters as tall as a building, this place was a choke-a-full of super Fiends that would be classified as Walking Disasters in a modern context.

Never mind killing one, Kain wouldn’t even be able to leave a scratch. The disparity of strength was too much.

Without his Aeterna sense, he would have died a dozen times over. By the time he made his way back to the ditch after a bout of successful hunting session, the irrational hatred he developed for this forest grew exponentially. If he had power, he wouldn’t hesitate burning down every inch of this place. Good thing then, that he lacked such an ability to mad at will. Not yet, anyway.


Kain fell asleep as soon as he returned to the ditch.

And during his fitful slumber, he was beset with yet another dream of questionable caliber.

He dreamed a dream where he was flying.

Not falling, like that time when he came to this world, but flying properly. With wind on his face and warm sun kissing his cheeks, accompanied by the feeling of liberation.

For the first time after falling into this forest, he felt content and safe.

He looked down and saw the forest of Tetamus Range beneath. It was far, and to his delight, it was definitely not getting closer. He was flying for real.

Overjoyed, he flew around for ages until finally, he noticed that he was no longer alone in the sky. He shifted his gaze behind, and saw a darkish, gigantic mass of convulsing…. things, nearing him at a breakneck pace.

Alarmed, he squinted his eyes, trying to get a good look at just what it was, and received a shock of his life. That mass was entirely made up of all the birds he had hunted and eaten.

The dream devolved into a nightmare in a heartbeat.

Kain flapped his arms faster and faster in vain, hoping to increase his flying speed. But the humongous black mass caught up with him in no time at all.

The angry birds swarmed him, pecking him, slapping him with their wings, punishing him for stealing their lives.

Oh, god!! Help me!! I’m sorry, I’m really sorry for eating you. I was so hungry, I had no choice. Please, please forgive me!!

Kain shouted at the top of his voice. Not a single sound came out. Not even a squeak.

Then, before he noticed, the faces of all the people who died replaced the heads of the dead birds. They sang in unison, accusing him again and again. Same old nightmare, now with extra added flavor.

He was sweating profusely. He was delirious. He lost all his bearings. Eventually, he fell towards the verdant sea below, screaming silently.

Mercifully, a loud explosion jolted him wide awake from the nightmare, as the entire ditch shook like an earthquake. The concussive vibration was strong enough to dismantle the Earthen Wall he put up as the door like a pile of falling Lego bricks.

Outside, it was raining heavily once again.

Kain hurriedly extended his Aeterna sense outward. He may have just woken up, but he was already alert and poised to take action. He saw the need to quickly figure out the source of that explosion, and determine the level of the threat on his life.

In front of the ditch, there used to be countless thick bushes and twisted trees growing abundantly, to a point where one couldn’t even see anything past them. Not anymore.

Every object in front of him was totally leveled. Flattened to the ground, as if a truck full of TNT had gone off nearby.

But he knew it wasn’t some modern explosives causing all this destruction, but something just as powerful and large. And certainly, just as deadly.

Outside his shelter, he saw that dinosaur-like giant lizard, the one he ran away from earlier, thrashing about violently.

Kain froze on the spot. Not even a curse word entered his mind.

It has been a few days since he saw this huge Fiend, and it still looked as imposing and scary as before. Longer than an eighteen wheeler, taller than a building when it stood on its hind legs. The rows of sharp, serrated teeth coated in thick, drool-y mucus. Muscular biceps cracking with hideous strength. A tail thicker than a pipeline transporting crude oil. Scales as thick as a tank armor.

He was so, so very small compared to this monstrosity.

Thankfully, its attention was focused elsewhere, sparing Kain from a quick, immediate and painful death. Almost exclusively, it was facing the other way from his position, which was a good news.

Of course, it didn’t mean he was safe here. That massive tail swayed violently this way and that only a few inches from where his Earthen Wall used to stand. He didn’t have to think too hard to figure out the culprit responsible for knocking down his muddy and improvised door.

He wanted to move away from this spot, but a cold fear of being discovered gripped his limbs and wouldn’t let go. If he moved just a whisker, then this Fiend would sense him and attack. Because of this cloying fear, he even forgot to breathe.

Before his face went blue from the lack of oxygen, Kain finally noticed the reason why this Fiend was not looking at his direction. There was something in front of it, hovering in mid-air.

Even from this distance, he could make out the shape of a bird, as big as a falcon, completely ablaze in crimson flames.

If he didn’t know better, he would have said that was a phoenix.

It was an awfully small one though, especially compared to the enormous lizard Fiend. The phoenix was no bigger than one of its claws. Maybe even smaller.

This size disparity between the two cooled his enthusiasm quickly. From his point of view, there was just no way a bird that small could triumph over a creature a hundred times its size. That was not logical.

Also, there was more important matter of him still stuck in a dangerous position, still pinned to the entrance of his ditch, a giant tail swinging close to his face. One hit from that, and he’d kiss his life goodbye.

The falling rain bounced off on the lizard Fiend’s thick murky brown scales, and the distinctive roars of water breaking apart from the impact ricocheted around loudly.

The fiery avian creature moved, unhindered by all the water around it. A fine mist of steam rose near its flames, its high body temperature dissipating the rain well before the creature was affected by all that douching.

At the moment, the two seemed to have reached a stalemate, amazingly enough. Both of them didn’t move from their respective positions, nor did they take their eyes off each other. Kain felt the thick tension in the air, thick and heavy enough to slice it clean with a knife.

There were wounds on the lizard Fiend’s body. As for the phoenix, he couldn’t see, but that was mostly due to the flames covering its body. The way things stood, he thought that the bird had a slight upper hand. Which was quite incredulous.

Fascination gripped him. He too, couldn’t tear his eyes off the two, fearing that if he did, he might miss something miraculous. His heart pounded hard, fear and anticipation coursing through his veins like a drug, numbing his senses from every input other than what’s right in front of him. Even his Aeterna sense came on.

Why aren’t they fighting? Why isn’t the lizard attacking right away? It has the size advantage, and that thick armor plating. Surely, a puny little bird should not stand a chance against that huge thing. Are they…., uh, sizing each other up?

His Aeterna sense told him the answer, as soon as he looked at the bird.

That phoenix was absurdly strong. Maybe, even stronger than the Fiend. These two locked in a stalemate wasn’t all that surprising, in light of this revelation. It still could go either way at a drop of a pin, but as far as strength was concerned, size no longer mattered. At least that’s how Kain thought at that moment.

The amount of energy pulsating from the two of them were incomparable to Kain’s own pathetic little supply. He didn’t even feature into this situation – he might as well be an invisible existence, forgotten by everything and everyone.

He was a merely a spectator, or maybe a speck of dust.

Now that he knew how powerful the fiery bird was, he hoped sincerely in his heart that the creature didn’t see him as food. If it did, then, he had to admit that was something of a poetic justice, since he preyed on birds extensively himself.

Whatever the case may be, it was stupid to stay here and tempt fate. It was time he hightailed it outta there.

He took the chance, and moved to his right ever so slightly. That was a mistake.

Nothing more than a twitch from him, and both of the monsters spotted him. Just like that.

The phoenix had the disdainful, arched-eyebrow facial expression, as if to ask him, what the heck are you doing, kid?

The lizard on the other hand, stared at Kain with one of its beady, googly eyes, then suddenly, whipped its huge tail at him as one would swat a fly.

There was no time to think. He just reacted. He threw up multiple Earthen Walls and Air Walls with no regard for Aeterna consumption, trying to make them as sturdy as possible, while diving backwards.

Also, he did something he had never done before, out of the instinctive desire to protect his body from harm – wrapped his entire self with Aeterna, like a protective membrane, a force-field energy shield, so to speak. In other words, a rudimentary Body Enhancement spell.

All of these consumed massive amount of his Aeterna reserve in one go. Still, he had no guarantee he would make it from the impact. He rolled himself into a ball, raising his arms and knees to cover his face and chest.

The thick tail smashed through all the barriers with a comical ease that beggared belief. However, each Wall managed to slow the speed down gradually and by the time it slammed into his torso, it was no longer as deadly as before.

Still, Kain felt all the air being forced out of his lungs. His heart stopped beating for a second, and his blood flow halted.

He nearly blacked out from the wringing pain. Quite literally, he could remember nothing from the impact other than thinking that he was just a pesky little fly in the eyes of the giant lizard Fiend. That was all he amounted to in this forest.

When he recovered, the very first thing he did was to inspect his body for any serious injuries. As far as he could tell, no bones were broken, and other than sharp aching coming from here and there, he was okay. Those aches told him he would feel the brunt of all this damage tomorrow.

If he manage to live through the night, that was.

Somehow, he didn’t die from the attack. On top of that, he avoided getting hurt too badly. When he thought about it, the rudimentary protection he created in a hurry saved his bacon.

Derrick mentioned in passing that Body Enhancement came in many different flavors – not his words – and if Kain wanted an example, he just got one.

Now that he did it once, he could remember the feeling. With a little more practice, then he’d be able to cast it with his eyes closed. Provided, he lives through the night. Obviously.

While all this was happening, the flame covered bird initiated an attack. There was a second of opening created when the giant Fiend swiped its tail on Kain. The assault of the phoenix was impressively fast, swooping in a graceful arc. The sharp claws aimed straight for those beady eyes of the lizard.

At the very last second, the lizard turned its head, and the phoenix narrowly missed its intended target. Instead, the lizard’s ear was torn apart, capacious amount of blood shooting out as a result.

As if the pain surprised it, the lizard Fiend thrashed even more wildly. The ground rumbled and quaked like a middle of stampede by an enraged Wildebeest herd.

Kain had to dive again as fast as his reactions could act as the pointy, scaly tip of the rampaging lizard’s tail swung by where he used to stand, gouging out a chunk of ground in an explosive fashion.

He continued to dodge by rolling on the ground from side to side, the erratic movement of the thick appendage making it difficult to predict just where it might come down next.

He had to create as much distance as possible. That was the only way he’d survive this ordeal. He was discovered already, so acting timidly to remain hidden no longer mattered. Now, it was literal do or die situation.

He took half a dozen steps before a crazy thought popped into his head, halting his movement.

There must be something I can do to stop the dang lizard from tearing the whole forest down. At this rate, no matter where I go, it will remain dangerous, like, forever!! What can I do?

It was mad for him to try something against these two monsters. Something inside him wouldn’t submit to the obvious course of action, however. That something wanted him to at least get a sucker punch in, for the pain it caused him. That something wanted him to teach the overgrown lizard a lesson.

He shuddered at this crazy thought taking a firm root in his head. His heart was definitely swayed.

He lacked power to deal any critical damage to the lizard, never mind the phoenix. But he still wanted to try, give it a shot, however long the odds were.

It was preposterous.

Yet his feet wouldn’t budge. He bit his lips, and turned his gaze towards the two entities battling in the middle of nowhere, causing utter devastation. Numerous trees were flattened, the ground were gouged, rocks were smashed, the land was on fire, and the persistent rain kept on pounding from the gray, overcast heavens.

A scene of Apocalypse. And he was thinking of participating in it. It was pure madness. Normally, he’d never, ever even think of joining in the fray.

But he knew.

If he just ran now, then the Fiend, specifically the lizard, would come after him. Or not. But his gut told him it would. It could run faster than him. If it gave chase, then no matter what, he would die. So, he had to deal with it if he wanted to flee.

It was better to defeat it here, right now, and cut the budding seed of trouble before it bloomed.

He only knew one spell powerful enough to give him a fighting chance.

Earthen Wall.

When he cast this spell to make a wall of soil, the corresponding amount of it came from the ground below. If he were to make a ginormous wall of soil, then the amount of dirt needed would be equally ginormous. If he wanted to, then he’d be able to open up a huge hole on the ground. One big enough to trap the lizard inside. One deep enough to prevent it from climbing out of. Or, even burying it underground altogether.

The principle of digging a hole shouldn’t be too different from the ones he dug to hide all the bones and entrails of the avian victims he caught. If it was deep enough, then it would not be easy to climb out of, especially with all this falling rain making the ground mushy and soft, offering little to no grip.

He estimated that the spell this large might eat up all of his Aeterna reserve, and maybe even cause him to black out, but it could work. It was worth the gamble, if he wanted to live for longer.

The biggest worry left was the phoenix’s eating habits. As long as it was vegetarian, he wouldn’t have any problems with it. If not….

This certainly was a worrisome matter, but for some reason, he felt it was fine to take the chance. He felt he could trust the flame-covered bird and not get burnt in the process.

He began to gather Aeterna and slowly exerted control over it.

Meanwhile, the phoenix smoothly dodged snapping jaws of the giant lizard Fiend with grace. From afar, it looked like as if the much smaller bird was simply toying with the bigger Fiend, but Kain knew better.

The battle was physically demanding, draining the bird’s stamina constantly. It was only a matter of time until it ran out of steam.

The rain didn’t help. After all, Fire Element naturally had a so-called opposing Aeterna Nature against Water Element. Through his Aeterna sense, he knew the phoenix was utilizing Fire Element to its utter limits, enveloping its entire body in eternal flames.

But the falling raindrops contained minute amount of naturally-occurring Water Element in them. One or two splashes were fine, but as long as the fight dragged on, the disadvantages would only grow. It might looked confident, arrogant, even, but the phoenix sure was not in any enviable position at all.

To make matters worse, the giant lizard had one more trick up its sleeve.

When the flame bird launched another swooping attack aimed at the lizard’s head, the giant monster shot out multiple lengthy protrusions from its scales without warning.

Those things looked sharp enough to cleave a mountain. If one was to get hit by one of those, it’d hurt quite a lot.

The bird reacted a fraction too late. It twisted its body midflight, and managed to avoid hitting it head-on, but still crashed into the side of one of the protrusions. The resulting impact was forceful enough to break the said protrusion clean off the Fiend’s scales, knocking the bird off the air. The phoenix spectacularly crash landed, raising an almighty cloud of dirt in the process.

The sucker-punched avian creature slid ungracefully on the mud, until eventually coming to a stop near Kain’s feet.

This was bad.

Oh, crap, crap, crap. Don’t draw the dang lizard’s attention over here, you stupid bird!!

The phoenix twitched weakly, barely alive. Most of the flames covering its body had died out.

It was nearly dead – and soon, Kain would be too, judging by the way that ugly lizard Fiend was leering at where he was.

Kain grimaced, biting his lower lip in frustration.

Ah, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon!! Stupid Aeterna, gather and form already!! I command you with my mighty will!! Make a big-ass sinkhole, right now!!

The Fiend skulked over leisurely to him in that lizard-like gait.

The Invocation was taking too long to prepare. With no guarantee of it working, he was rightfully nervous. It was too late to turn around now. Now or never.

Squeezing his eyes shut, he prayed. To whom, he didn’t know. It didn’t matter anyway.

He heard a soft laughter of a girl, distant and echoing, fleeting and surreal. He had no time to check where that mysterious sound came from.

Because, right then, he felt a ton of Aeterna leave him in an instant. It was the familiar feeling of an Invocation spell activating.

Almost immediately, he heard a loud boom, followed by the earth shaking like crazy.

He slowly opened his eyes. Good news was, that he was okay.

Only allowed on

Even more good news, he confirmed that the ground right in front of him had opened up, and the giant Fiend took a quite tumble towards the bottom in a comical fashion.

He stood on the edge and checked how deep the hole was. It was really, really deep. Deep enough to reach the door to Hades, even.

That felt oh-so satisfying.

As Kain peered over the edge to the hole’s depth, the Fiend raised its bruised and dirtied head, confused at the sudden change in scenery. He could tell this monster was stuck there for good, with no way to climb out, at least not right away.

“Ha! Hahaha!! How’s that, for trying to bully me, you big dumbass?! Hey, wait a sec. Did you just eyeball me? Huh, what? You angry or something? Eh? So what are you gonna do? Nothing, that’s what!! Boo-yeah, eat that!! Hah!”

Kain stood over the edge triumphantly and shouted at the top of his lungs like a madman. His words were laced with maniacal cackle, and even if the Fiend didn’t understand human speech, it would still get the gist of the words thrown at its face.

It was quite a proud creature, so to be humiliated to this extent by an insect-like being, it was deeply infuriated. Angrily, it thrashed and stomped around, causing the ground to shake violently. Kain almost lost his balance and fell inside the hole, only managing to regain his footing inches away from the edge.

He went pale from that near-death experience, and retreated quickly. He couldn’t help but wipe the cold sweat on his brows, realizing that was too close for comfort. It would not have been funny if he fell in there along with the enraged Fiend the size of two double-decker buses. He could be wrong about the size, though.

Anyways, he at least knew he deserved a pat on the back. Celebrating his hard-earned victory, no matter how temporary, was in order. Hell, he still had a bit of Aeterna reserve left in his Pool too, which was a pleasant surprise for him as well. From the size of the hole he figured that the spell should have sucked him dry.

“Well, see you around, buster. Or not!!”

Cackling, Kain turned around to run away, ignoring the ground still shaking beneath his feet. His worn boots pressed on the twitching bird, which, in all honesty, he had forgotten during all that excitement.

Looking at the pathetic state the bird was in, he arrived at a crossroad without realizing how he got there. He stood there, debating what to do.

Logically, he should leave it behind. He didn’t know whether this bird was a friend or foe. His gut said it was the former, but he had no evidence. He could very well be wrong. And if he was, then the consequences were going to be deadly for him.

He could help it, somehow. He still had some Aeterna left. Like in comic books and wuxia novels, he could transfer that amount to this bird, and possibly get its fire going again.

But why should he help it? Because it was fighting against the giant lizard Fiend? No guarantee it was doing that for his sake. For all intents and purposes, it could have been a territorial dispute between two top dogs in this forest. So, once the phoenix revived, it might try to eat him. So why should he try to get it back on its feet?

Hmm. More headaches, huh.

A deep frown formed on Kain’s face.

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