A short while later, Irena returned to the Admin Room, breathing heavily as she collapsed onto the bed. “It’s… taken care of.” She spoke to Terra and I, before closing her eyes. It seemed that destroying such a large monster really had taken a heavy toll on her energy.
Terra nodded to me, and motioned for me to leave the bedroom with her so that we could continue talking without disturbing Irena. Just to be safe, I froze the time of the world, so that more of those things wouldn’t get out before Irena was awake to deal with them in the afterlife. “Okay… so, countermeasures. Got any bright ideas?” She asked me once we were outside the room.
I looked blankly at her. “Isn’t that what you are supposed to tell me. I mean, you know how these things work, and what can beat them.”
Terra nodded her head again. “I do, but I can’t outright tell you. At most, I can guide you on the right path, and drop little hints. I can’t actually give you the full explanation unless you witness something yourself. Like how I could tell you about that monster.”
I let out a long sigh, leaning back against the wall. “Well… There is one thing that might work, but I’ll need to raise the level cap again to make it reliable.” Terra smiled, motioning for me to continue. “The Spirit Hunter class. I mean, doesn’t it sound like it was created expressly for this kind of thing? It’s even in the name. But, you said that thing’s level was over two hundred, so even if I trained someone to the max level as a Spirit Hunter, then they would need a massive group just to take out one of those.”
“That sounds like a good plan. Now, how are you going to implement it? Remember, this is something that you have to plan for, so think carefully.” Terra reminded me, crossing her arms under her bust and watching me.
“Well… I don’t want to spread the class out too much. Isn’t this class, and the requisite Spirit Tamer class, the epitome of growing stronger through killing people? If the knowledge of it was spread out too much, I feel like people would use it for evil more than good.” Terra nodded silently as I spoke. “So… It’d be better to make a small group, and have them sworn to secrecy.”
“That could work. Now, how are you going to do it for everyone? This isn’t just a threat to one or two races, but for all of them. Don’t you think they’d notice eventually if every race had a secret society formed with the same basic principles?” She grinned wryly as she asked that.
I thought about what she was asking, and could only let out a sigh after several long moments. “We could pass it off as a group formed originally by the gods. If that was the case, it wouldn’t be so weird for every race with a god to have the same sect. That seems like the most believable method to me, at least.”
“Alright, I can accept that. We can even work it into our little deal we had for you to do quests for us when you go back down. We just need to make it so that our quest is for you to establish that group within each of our races.”
“What about Irena?” I asked, looking back to the bedroom. “I don’t have any reason to teach the Spirit Hunter class to the afterlife, they already have it.”
“That’s easy. Spreading her domain in itself could be enough to issue a quest, so her quest could be to teach all of our races.” Terra shrugged her shoulders in response. “You’ll just have to spend a bit of time at each race to train a small group before moving on to the next. But, you should be done in… a month or two, at the latest?”
I smiled bitterly as she said that. I had barely been in this position for a month or two, and now I was going to be spending that amount of time on this single task. “I suppose it would be a bit too much to expect you guys to be able to directly create the sect within your races, huh?”
Terra laughed lightly, nodding again. “That’s right. While we could explain the core aspects, and can take over that once they are given basic training, it is easier to teach through example. If you left it all to us, then they wouldn’t get a full education.”
“Alright, alright. Go tell the others the plan. I’ve got to find a new monster to kill.” If I was going to do this, then I wanted to do it right. Using the spirit of a low level boar would certainly not convey the meaning of strength that I wanted. Thankfully, I had recently purchased monsters that were able to use basic magic, and those should be far more effective for what I wanted.
Seeing as Irena was currently occupying my bedroom, and that I didn’t want to disturb her, I ‘summoned’ my computer to the living room after relocating there. I could probably do this without the computer, but searches like this were better left to a method that I was confident in. I was still getting used to using my own mind to connect to the world.
I did a basic search, monsters able to use magic, searching from the highest level on the planet to the lowest. There… really weren’t that many types of monsters that could use magic so far, as the ones in this tier only had the most simply types of magic. From what I could tell, rather than the tiers representing power, they represented complexity. That’s why monsters from the first tier didn’t have the ability to eventually develop sapience, because they were too simple.
Out of the list, I found a couple that seemed interesting. The first was a bird capable of using some wind magic to accelerate. I imagined myself with armored wings if I used that monster with the Spirit Hunter class. The other, though, seemed far more battle-oriented.
This was a lion, roughly fifty percent larger than the natural breed. However, all of the members looked more similar to a lioness, lacking the signature mane on the males. This was only in their passive state, though, as when a male of this species was angered, a mane of fire would sprout from their head. They could also use this fire to wrap around their claws and fangs, without it harming themselves.
While the bird was interesting, and would certainly provide a good aesthetic, it didn’t provide the same image of strength that a flaming lion offered. As such, I set my target to the rather uncreatively named Firemane Lions. I’d have to hunt down a few of them to be able to properly utilize it, but lions were not solitary creatures in the first place.
After sending my computer back to my room, I waited in the living room for Irena to awaken. I had paused the world until she woke up to prevent any other spirits from crossing over until she was ready, so it would defeat the purpose if I unpaused it so that I could go hunting. Thankfully, she only kept me waiting for a little over an hour before she groggily walked out of my bedroom and towards the living room.
“Evening, Dale.” She said, trying her best to maintain her calm demeanor, but the tired look in her eyes betrayed her.
“Morning, Irena. Sleep well?” I asked with a grin, receiving a small blush in response as the winged goddess averted her eyes. “Don’t worry, we didn’t mind. But, I’ll have to trouble you to take care of the ones still in the afterlife that might break through soon. After that, you can rest for a while.” I explained to her the plan that Terra and I had come up with while she was sleeping.
“I see… that could work. I apologize, I should have seen this coming ahead of time. I’ll need to strengthen the barrier holding them in their part of the underworld, so that they don’t eat through it and attack the general inhabitants.”
Thinking about that, an idea suddenly crossed my mind. “Could you adjust the barrier, so that the repelling force is adjusted by how strong the spirit is? So, weak monster spirits could still cross through to give your people something to train against, but the stronger ones would have a much harder time piercing the wall.”
Irena thought about that for a long moment, before nodding her head. “I could try it, after I take care of the major threats. I don’t want to tamper with the barrier before knowing that it would be safe to do so.”
That was entirely understandable on her part. “Alright. Well, I’ll go ahead and unpause the world, so you can get started on that. I’ve got to go hunting.”
Irena smiled weakly, waiting for me to resume time before vanishing. As for me, I went ahead and sent a message to Terra that I was descending. This time, since I was going down to fight, I chose to stay as a human, the form that I was most familiar with. I was going to have to ascend every time I changed which race I was teaching in the future, so one extra trip wasn’t much. Thankfully, one of the areas ruled by the firemane lions was located in a vast savannah on the beastmen continent. Though they were on the same continent, this was far removed from any of the settlements. Even though they could sense my energy from a day’s walk away, the closest sapient to where I was going this time had to be at least a month’s journey out.
When I descended, I did not forget to take my favorite magical sword, one which added the maximum value to my strength. Since what I was hunting was likely the most powerful creature currently in existence on the planet, there was no way that I was holding myself back to ‘normal’ levels of power.
Closing my eyes, I let the blue light surround me, and quickly felt the tropical breeze blowing against my back. When I opened my eyes, I was looking out at a wide grassland with scattered shrubs. Every so often, there would be a lone tree, but those were few and far between.
In the distance, I could clearly see my targets. A group of ten lions, with nearly a dozen small cubs playing around them. I felt a bit guilty about the cubs, but I had a plan for them as well.
Preparing for the upcoming battle, I let my ki surge through my body. An almost visible pulse of energy was released from my skin, which the lions seemed to detect from over two miles away. The adults quickly moved to stand between myself and the cubs, with one standing at the very front.
Nodding in satisfaction, I determined that the one in the front was likely the male of the pride, and lunged forward. With my Keeper stats bolstering my abilities, every step carried me dozens of meters. Whenever my foot hit the ground, a small explosion rang out, propelling me even faster.
By the time I was in front of the lions, less than a minute had passed. The females of the pride kept herding their kids back, while the male stepped forward. I was finally able to confirm his status when he let out an enraged roar in my direction. Like a peacock, its flaming mane erupted around its head.
If I hadn’t known what to expect, that might have actually scared me off. Instead, I let out a cold smile, continuing my charge. Once I was about to clash with the lion, it raised its claws, wrapping them in flames as it sliced down towards me.
Sadly, its attack only struck empty air, as I had already begun channeling chakra into my feet to bypass the male. Male lions were notorious for defending their pride, and I couldn’t risk the others running off while he was distracting me. As such, I stepped past the lion during its attack and appeared just behind the lionesses.
Although these were female lions, they were no less fierce. When I appeared, three of them broke off from guarding the cubs to lunge at me. Their own claws likewise sprouted fire as they slashed towards me.
This action naturally enraged the male lion behind me, but before he could even turn around, my arm flashed by. Carrying the strength enchantment from the sword, and with ki enhancing my body even further, I only felt a small resistance as my sword cut through the outstretched legs of the lionesses. With another swing, I severed the three heads of the lionesses, and my body vanished again. Damage numbers appeared above their heads faster than I could watch, and their health plummeted in an instant.
This time, I appeared next to the remaining six female lions, who protectively stood in a circle around their cubs. The three facing me let out roars to deter me, fire sprouting from their mouths to wrap around their fangs. However, they had just seen how easily the other three had been killed, so none of them were so willing to extend their neck for me.
Before I could consider whether to charge them or circle around, I felt a heavy impact on my back knocking me forward. The male lion had finally caught up with me, and used its full strength to tackle me to the ground. I didn’t even have to turn around to know that its mouth was descending towards my head, its powerful jaws open and ready to snap my neck.
Unfortunately for it, my abilities were not just for show. As soon as I landed, my free hand slapped the ground, propelling both myself and the lion into the air. When I felt the lion lifting slightly off my back, I spun around, my sword slicing through its flaming neck. Although I had taken some damage from its initial attack, it was not to the degree that it would seriously harm me.
The lion let out a weak whine as its throat was cut, unable to muster the strength to roar. However, this left me stuck in the air, with six angry lionesses down below. And, neither my ki or chakra movement method could be used without something to kick off of. I briefly considered kicking off of the lion’s body to descend faster, but I wanted to keep it as close as possible.
Seeing the females preparing to pounce at me when I got low enough, I took the initiative and threw my sword at the nearest one. Almost immediately, I felt the loss of strength from the enchanted weapon leaving my grip, but it was worth it. The sword accurately flew down and pierced the spine of the female next to the one I was aiming at. I won’t argue with results!
With only five left, I decided that I would use my ninja abilities for the rest of this battle, and used the remaining time I was descending to channel chakra through my body. Although it was not as useful for defense as ki, its more mysterious properties would help me here.
Sure enough, as soon as I was just a couple meters above them, one of the lionesses reached up with their large paws, swatting me from the sky. Even bracing myself for the impact, I clearly felt the pain surging through the arm that was struck. With my body shooting down even faster, I barely had enough time to land on my feet before the remaining lionesses were surrounding me.
Once again, I vanished using my chakra, appearing behind the lioness in front of me. However, to my surprise, that lioness immediately sent a kick flying back at me. I only had enough time to take another step, putting some more distance between myself and the lioness to avoid her attack. Wow, they learned fast. I felt a chill run down my spine as I changed my plan.
Initially, I had wanted to take advantage of my ninja movement to attack them before they could respond. But now, that plan seemed to have gone right out the window. So, what’s a Keeper to do when Plan A doesn’t work? I appeared next to the lioness I had killed with the thrown sword to retrieve my bloodied weapon, and returned to purely using ki for this fight.
With ki, I was able to charge and kill the closest one before the others could react, though that left me with four angry paws smacking me one after another. More red damage numbers appeared over my head, slowly dragging my health down. They weren’t giving me room to counterattack anymore, forcing me to focus my full attention on defending against their attacks.
Annoyed by my inability to fight back, I decided to try a rather risky maneuver. I gathered ki in my throat, then jumped back as one of the paws smacked my chest. Once I landed, I opened my mouth to give my loudest shout, powered by over a thousand ki.
To call the result satisfactory was… a bit of an understatement. Ripples formed in front of me in waves as my shout echoed out through the air. Three of the remaining four lionesses were tossed up and back, sent flying by the force behind the unorthodox attack. The remaining one, which was the furthest one away, merely slid back a few feet, shaking its head. However, the flames on its paws had vanished, meaning it had likely been dazed.
Not one to miss such an opportunity, I charged forward, separating the necks of all four lionesses before they could regain their senses. I HAVE to remember that for later. With all of the adults of the pride dead, I turned to look back at the cubs. Of them, the largest was the size of a large dog, and was standing protectively in front of the rest.
Though the cub would likely fight me if I went close, it was not a threat. Even the lionesses’ prolonged assault had only taken off two thousand of my health, leaving me with more than enough to handle whatever these little guys could do. However, I needed them to calm down.
“Enough.” I said, glaring at the cubs, taking advantage of my aura and raising both my ki and mana to the peak. There was an invisible pressure that the cubs seemed to fight against, before they whined pitifully, lowering their heads.
With that taken care of, I turned to the corpses of the lions. Channeling some of my mana into my eyes, I could see the white clouds that represented their souls still clinging to their bodies. The one I wanted was the male, and I focused my mind on that particular body, imposing my will on its own. I felt a powerful struggle, a primal force trying to drive back my mind. However, after a few long moments, it gave way. The lion spirit stood up from its own corpse and walked towards me.
After waiting for a short while to confirm that the spirit wasn’t going to attack me, I turned to the nine females. I only required the male, so I directly refined the others into raw spiritual energy. Next, I did the same thing to the boar spirit already inhabiting my body, letting the new lion take its place. Finally, I fed the lion spirit energy until it reached the level that I was able to physically summon it.
With all of that out of the way, I took a look at the windows that I had been previously ignoring.
|Sword of Light ability unlocked!
|Monster Tamer class unlocked!
Tame Monster ability unlocked!
|Monster Tamer leveled up!
|Successfully contracted level 97 Firemane Lion - Stage 1
|Level 97 Firemane Lion has advanced to Stage 2, and may now be summoned.
One thing left to try… I closed my eyes, and focused on gathering and directing the spirit energy within my body. I was directing it to my arms, my legs, my chest, and my head, creating a full suit of metal armor. Previously, I didn’t have enough energy to do this, but now I had hunted several more powerful spirits.
A soft glow spread out over my body, a near translucent barrier forming above my skin. Those looking with the ability to see spirits would see a glowing metal armor, akin to that a knight would wear, appearing on my body. And, when the lion spirit inside of me surged, the armor shifted. Lion mouths became visible on my chest and shoulders, and my helmet began to look like the head of a lion. The fingers of my gauntlets grew small points at the end that resembled claws, and my legs had a flame pattern engraved into them.
More importantly, when the lion spirit merged with the armor I had created, I became able to see it clearly even without channeling the mana into my eyes. It had become a physical existence. This caused me to grin widely, and try something new. The lion could use magic to create fire, and the entire reason I had chosen a monster with magic was because I suspected that I would be able to do the same thing if I did so.
The answer was simple. As soon as I channeled some of my mana into my armor, my entire body lit up like a flaming god of war. Fire harmlessly wrapped around my hands and feet. The eyes of the lions on my shoulders let off flames as if they were small torches. Finally, I could see from the shadows that a larger flame had erupted around the back of my head, likely resembling the lion’s namesake.
This will do. This will definitely do.