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*Kkkkkkrrraaaakkkkkk!!!*
 
Deep within the Agrean forest, south of the Shearwood lake, the sound of falling trees and a maniacal laughter could be heard. It was none other than Kiefer felling trees testing out his new ‘whip’.
 
Even though he calls it a whip, it was more like a long silver snake of indeterminate length that moves as its owner wills. Wrapping and constricting a large tree trunk that would require 3 adult males to hug around it, the silver rope snapped the tree at its base while lifting the rest of the tree into the air.
 
This snake was made of countless mana threads intertwined and braided to exponentially increase its strength. It started from Kiefer’s right hand, coiled around the huge tree several times, and then led back to his left hand. Kiefer was constantly supplying and reabsorbing his mana from different ends of the rope.
 
“The mana whip has strength, but it seems to lack speed. However, Im assuming that is just due to my lack of concentration and control in crucial times.” Kiefer was confident about his new skill. After all, he had starved for 2 days trying to perfect the deployment and control of the whip.
 
He approached his shelter carrying the tree in his silver whip, and smiled at the bodies of 2 wolfs next to the shelter. The wolves, or so Kiefer called them, had no eyes, but instead enlarged ears and were the size of a medium domestic dog. It might have been more accurate to call them land bats since they used echolocation to hunt.
 
“I’m glad they attacked me in such small numbers. It helped me secure a few days’ worth of food as well as hides.  But they still got me in the back. I can’t seem to defend while using both hands to control the whip.” (Kiefer)
 
Now no longer naked, Kiefer fashioned simple clothes out of the wolf pelts to the best of his ability, giving him a look that very much resembled Tarzan. It has been almost a week since he had arrived in this unknown world and he had started to live more comfortably with fewer worries than when he first started.
 
Using the whip, Kiefer lassoed it around himself and hoisted himself up the waterfall cliff by anchoring the whip around a large tree at the top. He had decided to take a bath in the river before the waterfall. Securing himself firmly to prevent being washed away by the current, he entered the cooling water, and winced when the water brushed against the wound on his back.
 
“Damn wolves. I need to work on that useless armour again. I can’t defend myself while using the whip. Besides, the whip doesn’t require much mana, so I can afford to allocate around 80% of my mana pool to the armour. Problem is, how do I make it strong sturdy, yet flexible?”
 
Unfortunately for Kiefer, he had not known that the river had washed some of his blood into the lake and has started to wake the beast from her slumber.
 
<MMmmmnnn… I love this scent.. It’s been so long since anything’s dared approach me. This is.. human? I thought they were smarter than that.. Well, I’ll sleep for a while more. It’s almost time for the nearby villages to send me a sacrifice anyways.>
 
During the past week, Kiefer had continued with his experiments and found that through the continued use of his mana and actively spending his mana allowing it to be depleted, his body’s maximum capacity has also increased.
 
What had started out as a stagnant hazy mist of particles within his body has become a torrential blizzard of mana constantly swirling and raging inside. When completely depleted, Kiefer had to convert mana from as much as 15 bottles of lake water to fill it back up.
 
Even though it only took him 20% of his max mana to maintain and control the whip, it would have been impossible for him when he had just started out if not for the increase in capacity. Along with the increase in capacity also came the rise in how much and how fast he could release his mana from his body, allowing him to almost instantly deploy his whip.
 
“Sturdy and flexible are not 2 words that go well together. And there is also the issue with my mana consumption rate of the shield I developed. While it’s strong, it takes time to deploy and costs so much more than my whip. It not feasible to wait for my max capacity to increase to the point of being able to sustain the shield,” Kiefer lamented while walking inside his mana dome.
 
As a defensive measure, he had come up with a 3cm thick semicircle dome that protected him from physical impact. He had to constantly feed mana outwards to the dome via multiple mana strings linking his body to the dome much like spokes on a wheel. It was effective but highly inefficient.
 
When using the dome, he could only use his whip within the dome, which makes this an all-out defence or offence option. Maybe I could program my mana in some sort of way to make it flexible?
 
Over the course of developing the whip, Kiefer discovered that he could program his mana threads to automatically weave, intertwine and braid themselves in a set pattern to form the whip. This meant that he did not have to manually braid them every time he wished to use the whip and it sped up his deployment duration by a significant amount of time.
 
Kiefer tried a variety of armour models, all of which left him unsatisfied. Plate mail model was too rigid while chainmail did not provide much protection against blunt force. He wanted to create something similar to Kevlar, but he couldn’t find the right way to program his mana to act like a non-newtonian fluid. His mana in liquid form, while flexible, provided absolutely no defence at all.
 
“There must be something I’m not seeing. Work! You stupid brain dammit!” Kiefer started cursing. He could feel that the breakthrough in the armour method was right at the tip of his tongue, but he still could not get it, leaving him frustrated.
 
Looking around in his shelter, Kiefer suddenly came to a realisation, “Fuck me dead, the answer has been here all the time. Thanks to the rabbit, I had to rebuild my shelter with a new design. I had been using the solution all the time without even realising it.”
 
Kiefer concentrated very hard on the outline of his body. Slowly forming a thin sheet of flexible mana no more than a millimetre thick, Kiefer took a breather. The design was very intricate and he had to work slowly. Once formed though, he can leave it to the new method of mana programming he discovered to take over.
 
On the thin sheet of mana, Kiefer started making tiny mana pyramids with triangular bases. After 2 hours, his body was now covered in tiny triangular studs. The walls of every stud was fixed onto the first sheet of mana, but hinged to other sturdy walls to allow movement. Finally, he sandwiched the studs with yet another thin layer of flexible mana.
 
The new armour was barely 0.5 cm thick, looking like a flexible piece of corrugated cardboard. Kiefer’s idea had come when he saw the triangular reinforcements he placed in the corners of the shelter to make it more sturdy.
 
By the time dawn arrived, Kiefer had spent the entire night developing this new armor with 3 layers of tetrahedron studs, making it a little over 1cm thick. His movement was a little restricted as he tested the flexibility of the armor. Kiefer could still walk run and jump, but could not bend his joints all the way into an acute angle, making actions like picking up an object on the floor impossible.
 
Kiefer began to mimic what he thought would act like Kevlar. He programmed the armour in such a way that if any layer or stud wall is broken, the neighbouring tetrahedron compartments would be instantly filled with high density mana particles, causing the immediate area to harden like plate mail.
 
This would minimise injury from piercing damage while the triangulation of the layers of mana will serve to protect him from blunt force. The high density mana particles would then be used to repair the armour simultaneously.
 
With further testing and some minor adjustments, Kiefer was somewhat relieved that even his own whip could not crush the armour. However, his hands remained vulnerable since he chose not to cover his hands in order to maintain full control of movement of his fingers, as well as the ability to use his whip.
 
Kiefer had completely gotten lost in his research again, forgetting to eat or sleep. “Looks like my old habit is back again, even after death I still get way too engrossed.” Kiefer smiled, as he began preparations to eat a light meal and take a nap before it gets too bright. "I’ll continue after I wake." Kiefer thought as he shut his eyes.
 
Waking up at midday and having exhausted more than 60% of his mana working on his armour, Kiefer, still drowsy from his lack of sleep, made a frightening mistake. He went straight to the lake to drink from it and convert the beast’s mana.
 

The lake’s surface began to undulate as wave increased in size. “Shit, I got careless,” Kiefer cursed as he saw what he thought was the floor of the lake rise up towards the surface.




Next chapter : The Serpent and the Sacrifice
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Mrsound

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