Lone could feel exactly six souls in the camp that sat on the edge of the canyon. Once he and Sophie had gotten closer, he could immediately tell that all of them were C-rankers.
He and Sophie weren't exactly being subtle, so the two adventurers who were on guard duty immediately spotted the well-dressed nine-tailed foxkin and the heavily armoured girl.
One of the two C-rankers shook his head quickly to gather his focus and he then hastily grabbed his weapon - a spear. "Wh-Who are you?!"
It was only with his shout that the other adventurer woke up. A small girl about Sophie's size bolted out of her chair and pulled a small wand out from its sheath on her belt. "Wha... What's going on?! Enemies?! Is the dragon attacking?!"
Lone frowned. "Minor Illusion," he said as he waved his hand in the direction of the panicking girl.
|Congratulations! The host's active illusion magic skill [Minor Illusion] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 2.|
The girl looked very confused for a second before she put her wand back in its sheath and then returned to her chair with a dazed expression.
Lone nodded in satisfaction. 'Useful. It sucked up a hefty chunk on mana, but I honestly never expected this skill I got from Eolande to actually work on a C-ranker so effectively while it's only beginner-level-one. I'm guessing the fact that it's the tier-two version helped. I should really grind up my other magic at some point without relying on The Academy as an excuse to do it.'
As Lone was lost in his thoughts, the other adventurer was sweating buckets and his eyes kept darting back and forth between his barely-lucid companion and Lone. "W-What are you? So-Some sort of demon? Ar-Are you working with the dragon?"
Lone gave the boy a funny look. "Where exactly do you see a demon? I'm obviously a foxkin. Sure, my tails are unusual in their colours, but I'm a foxkin through and through. Your friend was going to attack me, so I incapacitated her. Anyway, are you the leader here? I'm guessing not since you're such a coward."
The adventurer's face paled. "I-I'll kill you, you demon!"
'Motherfucker. I'm definitely not leaking my Ascending Aura, am I? This guy's one step shy of shitting himself from fear. At least he has the balls to act tough, I suppose,' Lone thought as he crossed his arms over his chest and held his chin with one hand while the other grabbed his elbow.
Raising his voice, he shouted, "I can feel four more of you in this camp! I'm Lone from the adventurer group, The Wanderers! I've come to kill the Rock Dragon infant on the orders of Grand Guildmaster Sarah with my companion, Sophie! We're both SS-rankers and I'm a gold-plate while Sophie is a silver-plate! I'd appreciate it if you guys could convince your friend out here that I'm not a demon! Also, give us all of the info you have so far on the dragon! Thanks!"
'That was friendly enough, right? I really hope they don't think I'm lying or something stupid like that. If Sophie wants to test herself against this dragon, then I'd really like to know as much as possible about it first,' Lone said to himself internally.
The sound of rustling and slightly panicked voices reached Lone's sensitive ears. A few seconds later, the four other adventurers rushed out of the camp and held onto their weapons cautiously as they assessed the situation.
'One's a demi? That's rare. A demi amongst humans? Is he a slave, maybe? Hmm... I don't see a collar and his soul isn't bound or anything. Well, it's not really my business. It might be eventually, but this kid isn't a foxkin and he doesn't appear to be in a hopeless situation like Breena was, so I'll rein in my curiosity, for now, I suppose,' Lone decided as he eyed the teenaged catkin boy.
Finally, one of the adventurers opened their mouths.
The only other girl - ignoring the one under Lone's illusion - stepped forwards cautiously. "Can I see your plate, Mister?"
Lone shrugged and pulled it out from underneath his shirt, showing off the golden shimmer of the plate and the greenish hue of the alterion chain. "Trust me now? I was a bit surprised when your friend over there woke up and tried to use magic on me immediately."
The girl bowed her head and wore an apologetic smile on her average-looking face. "Sorry about Rila. She, uh, she tends to act first and think later. I hope she didn't offend you, Mr... was it Lone?"
He nodded in response. "Yup. Lone. And this's Sophie. Anyway, we wanna kill the dragon tonight. Mind telling us all that you know?"
"Of course." There was no way that she would refuse a gold-plate who claimed to be under the direct orders of the grand guildmaster. That was, so long as she wanted to keep her steel-plate and avoid a demotion.
The two of them had spent about an hour with the young adventurer group, and right now, Lone was now holding Sophie in a princess carry as he walked down the canyon's crevice via his Sky Walking skill.
Unfortunately, all that the adventurer scouts knew was that the dragon was currently sleeping. Supposedly it was meant to be rather hurt, so it seemed to be taking its time to recuperate at the canyon's depths, or so the adventurer's had concluded.
Of course, this was all speculation since those adventurers didn't have the capabilities to get close enough to the dragon and back up to the surface in a timely manner, so they had made some educated guesses via the tracks and clues the Rock Dragon had left behind before settling here.
Their current job was more to monitor the canyon and run as fast as they could if the dragon decided to leave before a subjugation force was rallied or hired.
"Man, this thing is insane. It's like, what, at least twenty-thousand-meters deep? That's more than three time's deeper than Earth's largest canyon if I'm remembering correctly," Lone mumbled.
"We still don't understand why you insist on holding us... While we are not as proficient as Soph is when it comes to using magic, we are still perfectly capable of creating a stable barrier to float down on," Sophie complained.
Lone squeezed her a bit, making her armour creak slightly. "Becuase I want to cuddle you. I rarely get the chance unless we're having sex, so be quiet and just enjoy it, okay?"
"..." Sophie was speechless. "It's not even nice since the armour's in the way..." she whispered.
Lone grinned. "I heard that."
Sophie just turned her head away from him in embarrassment.
It wasn't long before they were at the canyon's floor.
Lone gently put Sophie back on her feet and looked around a bit. "Man, it's really fuckin' dark, huh?"
"Can you see properly? We are fine with our Mana Sensing, but you have no such skill or one similar to it, do you?" Sophie asked as she adjusted her armour a bit.
Lone shrugged. "Nope. I've got nothing. Can I hold your hand?"
"If you must," Sophie replied as she tried to hide her bashfulness.
Unbeknownst to the cold girl, a system notification had filled Lone's vision as soon as they had landed.
|The host has developed the passive skill: Night Vision.|
It wasn't particularly amazing since it was only beginner-level-one, but it let him see the rough outlines of the objects in this pitch-black rift.
Sophie walked up to him and held his hand in hers. "Use your tails or something to search for rocks. We shan't help you avoid then nor shall we help you get up when you fall over."
"Haha," Lone chuckled. "If I fall over, I'm definitely not letting go of your hand, so you're coming with me."
"... We will break your wrist," Sophie threatened.
Lone shrugged. "Okay, then I'll store all of your armour and kiss you from top to bottom."
"... We won't break your wrist," Sophie said with a tremble in her voice.
"Hmm..." Lone held his chin. "But you already threatened me... Doesn't that deserve some punishment?"
"Stop teasing us," Sophie requested with a roll of her eyes. "By the way, we can sense a massive collection of mana in the shape of a heavily disfigured dragon-shaped rock. We assume that is our target."
"Disfigured? I thought it was just crippled?" Lone asked with a frown on his face.
|Congratulations! the host's passive skill [Night Vision] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 2.|
Naturally, Lone still couldn't see the creature. If it had only just entered Sophie's range, that meant that it was about fifteen-thousand meters away.
"It's definitely crippled. Like Swind, it's missing an arm and its tail, but it's also got a huge chunk of its rocks missing from its face. Its eyes have also been gouged out, assuming it had eyes in the first place. We know nothing of the unique dragon species, so feel free to correct us," Sophie said uncaringly.
Lone's frown deepened. "I wonder what happened to it?"
|Congratulations! the host's passive skill [Night Vision] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 3.|
|Congratulations! the host's passive skill [Night Vision] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 4.|
|Congratulations! the host's passive skill [Night Vision] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 5.|
|Congratulations! the host's passive skill [Night Vision] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 6.|
|Congratulations! the host's passive skill [Night Vision] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 7.|
|Congratulations! the host's passive skill [Night Vision] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 8.|
Lone was hoping that this skill would rank up before they encountered the dragon, but he wasn't so lucky.
"Its body is crumbling..." Lone muttered as he squinted his eyes while he stared at the ten-foot-long creature that was wheezing heavily as it lay there, prone on the ground.
"You can see?" Sophie asked in shock as she glanced at Lone's hand which she was still holding.
Lone laughed softly. "Not really? I did get a skill, yeah, but it's shit for now." After saying that, his frown soon returned. "Still, with it in this condition, couldn't a child easily kill it? There's no way you can have an intense fight with it like this, right?"
Sophie chose to overlook this new skill of Lone's... for now, as she replied, "Yes. Oh well. We suppose our self-testing must wait for another day."
"Maybe not. Don't be so hasty," Lone claimed.
"Hmm?" Sophie raised an eyebrow under her helmet. "Have you a plan?"
"I'm thinking about healing it. I probably can't remake its arm or its tail for now since I have no idea how its body works, I might be able to, but I'm not sure, however, I am confident that I can brute-force its life-threatening injuries with enough mana. We can see about those limbs after that," Lone said as he stroked his chin with his free hand. "Well? Want me to give it a go?"
Lone felt the girl shrug. "Do as you wish. We see no harm in trying."
"Cool. I guess you should stay here? I doubt I'll need any help, but if things go poorly, teleport me away, 'kay?" Lone requested.
Sophie nodded. "If the impossible becomes possible, sure. We shall."
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- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
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