Sabrina returned to the ship shortly afterwards, and according to her, she couldn't find any traces of the mysterious instigator that Lone had mentioned. He didn't find this to be particularly surprising considering the person had used magic, and Sabrina had no talent for that. Lone judged that the hooded figure had more than likely teleported away or something similar.
Thankfully for both Lone's group, and for Sabrina, the rest of the voyage went smoothly. Sophie recovered from her mana exhaustion and once again immersed herself in training from within Lone's summoning room. She had learnt a new skill, and she quickly wanted to gain some levels in it to reduce the mana cost, making it a more usable power in times of crisis.
Lone sat in his cabin for the remainder of the journey and spent his time researching any and all Dwarven-related books in his possession and experimented with creating tiny parts of mechanical devices. He was clearly trying his best to build a functioning arm for Swind, and perhaps even a new tail.
Swind had started to try out every kind of weapon imaginable under Lone's orders to see if any were particularly suited to him. Lone asked him to do this because he was planning on integrating the best weapon for Swind into his arm. Breena spent most of her time with Swind, protecting him since Sophie and Kyuubi were both in the summoning room.
Eolande, surprisingly, filled her time by hiding away in her Glade and trying her best to devise some sort of method that would help stimulate Swind's mana organs. Thanks to her being in there for the rest of the trip, Lone was able to increase his stockpile of mana orbs by a decent amount since her illusions weren't needed when she was in a separate dimension.
Thankfully, Lone's group had three day's to train. Normally, the rest of the time needed to reach the Crimson Foxkin Clan would have been a single day, but Sabrina was being extremely careful and chose to take a different route. This one was on a far wider river, making it harder for attacks on land to reach the Galleon.
Lone was currently tinkering away with a mechanical finger that he had created piece by piece with his creation magic when Breena appeared out of the shadows.
"Master, we've arrived," she stated.
"Already? Damn. It's gonna take me forever to figure out how to get an arm working. I wonder if there are any Dwarven strongholds on the way to Al'ka's World Tree?" Lone mumbled before he stored the brass finger away in his pocket.
Breena smiled. She was happy to see Lone enjoying himself, despite his obvious frustrations with his task. She sank back into his shadow, and Lone summoned Sophie and Kyuubi before leaving his room.
He collected Swind and Eolande on his way to the deck. "This is... incredible..." Lone whispered upon reaching the surface of the ship. He could clearly see the Crimson Foxkin clan, and it looked outstanding.
Pagodas and pavilions stretched out for miles on end with statues of Foxkin lining every pathway. "It feels like I've stepped into ancient China... but wait, weren't Foxkin from Japan?"
Eolande tutted and shook her finger in front of Lone's face. "You're thinking of Earth's Foxkin. They were from Japan, but these ones are from Altros, not Earth. It's just a coincidence that their buildings look similar to the ones from ancient China."
"I guess you're right," Lone replied half-heartedly. Clearly, his love of history had forced him into a state of near-meditation as he examined every building which his eyes passed with fervour.
It only took a few short minutes for the Galleon to find itself at the Crimson Foxkin Clan's port, and after anchoring, Sabrina immediately made preparations to disembark. However, what she hadn't expected, was a certain Crimson Foxkin jumping straight onto the ship before they were ready to deal with them.
This Foxkin had seven fiery-red tails and red eyes that were centred with a yellow circle. The beautiful and young looking woman immediately hugged Lone and a relieved look washed across her face.
Lone was shocked momentarily, but he soon returned the hug and smiled. "It's good to see you too, Lossa."
Lone tried to end the hug with the clan's Elder there, but for some reason, Lossa refused to let him go. Mere seconds later, Sabrina appeared next to Lone and had a curious look on her face. "This is interesting. So you had 'that' kind of relationship with the Elder of the Crimson Foxkin clan, huh? Nyahahaha!"
Sophie's teeth could be heard grinding in the background while Lossa slowly loosened her grip on Lone and stepped back. "My apologies, Captain Sabrina. I do have some personal matters to discuss with Lone here, but not of that kind. Would it bother you to let me talk to him before we have a meeting about our trade?"
Sabrina grinned. "Sure. I need to prepare the cargo anyway. And what about your 'special guests'?"
"Please tell them to wait. What I have to discuss with Lone is currently more important, so ask for their forgiveness on my behalf, please," Lossa said. her face was clearly very excited and she obviously held little interest in the matters Sabrina was originally here for.
"Of course," Sabrina replied. 'Mmm, saving Lone is paying back more than I expected. He's pretty important to these Foxkin, huh? Nyahahaha! Like I always say, you're a genius, Sabrina!'
"Lone, please, follow me. Your friends too," Lossa happily said while casting a glance towards Swind, Sophie, Kyuubi and Eolande. Lone noticed that her gaze stuck on Sophie and Kyuubi for a particularly long time when compared to Swind and Eolande.
Lone casually nodded. The group then followed Lossa off of the ship and walked through the Crimson Foxkin clan's home. Lone couldn't help himself, but every time he came close to a building, he stopped to marvel at it before continuing.
He could also see out of the corner of his eye, that any Foxkin they passed, stared at Lone excitedly before whispering amongst themselves. They only had good things to say about Lone, in particular, about his nine tails, so he didn't mind in the slightest.
One thing that also interested Lone though, was that every single Foxkin they saw, only had a single tail, or very rarely, two tails. 'I wonder how Foxkin tails even work or what they signify? I started with nine, but Breena grew her extra two after awakening... hmm... '
Lossa finally stopped walking after roughly ten minutes and the group was now stood in front of a large and heavily decorated Pagoda. There was a single character that stood above this Pagoda's residence, and while not knowing what it meant, Lone could feel some sort of power emanating from it. A very strong power, at that.
"'Crimson?'" Eolande muttered while she peered at this character.
Lossa's ears twitched in interest. "You can read this ancient character?"
"Of course not. It was an educated guess. That thing is filled with lifeforce and fire magic. This character could wipe out a nation if used offensively. Just what exactly has been done to it? It's definitely not an enchantment. How intriguing," Eolande replied while her eyes remained focused on the word.
Lossa looked surprised at Eolande's accurate deductions. She smiled lightly and entered the building. Lone and his friends followed after her. The building was devoid of life and simply held a giant open hall within it. Lossa walked to the centre and sat down on a small mat.
"Please, everyone, take a seat," Lossa requested as she gestured to the mats in front of her.
Immediately upon getting comfortable, Lossa asked Lone a question. "I felt it. It was blurry, but I felt it. You awakened again, didn't you? Multiple times, in fact."
"Yup. I'm up to my seventh awakening now. Pretty insane huh? I've only recently started to discover how rare it is for anyone to pass two awakenings. You weren't joking when you said that it saps the lifeforce from anyone that does it." Lone nodded his head and then wore a serious expression.
"However, I have yet to see any benefit to these awakenings except my fur getting softer," Lone said. 'There's also the three elements living inside of me and my evolutions, but I think that's a more personal matter than the awakenings are,' he added in thought.
"That's to be expected." Lossa looked relieved, but also a bit saddened. "It must have been frightening to you. Experiencing all of these awakenings and not knowing why, or for what purpose."
"Exactly. I'm guessing you know why they happen and what they mean then?" Lone looked hopeful. While he did enjoy having softer fur since Sophie heavily enjoyed playing with his tails, he was still confused as to why the awakenings even existed since, from his perspective, they only harmed the people experiencing them, which is a racial trait that Lone would have expected to have been weeded out via evolution if it was truly useless.
"I'll explain. But first, could you please show yourself, young one? I'm anxious to meet someone as talented as you are at your age," Lossa asked softly. She had stopped looked at Lone and now had her eyes locked onto Breena who was lying within Lone's shadow.
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