With the matter between Scarlet and myself taken care of, I allowed myself to drop down from the sky. While I was descending, I began to seal off my various Keeper levels, leaving me with only my normal level of power and, naturally, my Keeper health. No matter how confident I was in myself, I’d never willingly reduce my own health like that.
Soon, I was able to see the sixteen large, golden bulls with the naked eye, the ground quickly speeding closer. Just to make sure that I didn’t end up sinking into the ground and getting myself trampled, I called up the natural energy to slow my descent, landing quietly on the open pasture.
Twenty streams of red mist spiralled down from above, crashing against the ground around me and reforming into the martial spirits. “You can have your pick of the targets, and then we’ll take the rest.” She said, waving a hand to keep her kin in check.
I gave a nod, once again beginning to channel the ki of beginning throughout my body. The golden oxen, the name that the system gave these monsters, turned to regard me now that I was making my presence known. I was roughly half their level, even a bit less, so they probably didn’t even consider me to be much of a threat.
Only one of them separated from the pack, slowly walking towards me. It was clearly not the leader of them, and instead one of the weaker ones. Like an errand boy sent to take out the trash. As it approached me, it slowly began to pick up speed, steam shooting out of its nose as it began to charge.
Don’t have enough earth ki to cover the entire thing. So can’t just stop it dead in its tracks… let’s try this. I lifted one hand, pointing a finger at the charging monster. Golden flames lit up in front of my finger, following one of the attack patterns I had set for ki, before shooting outwards in a thin beam. This attack carried half each from my fire ki and ki of beginning… but really that number wasn’t a whole lot, since my ki was divided as it was.
Still, it was enough to show an effect. The beam of golden flame pierced into the skull of the monster, leaving a bloody hole and causing it to roar out in pain. Its health bar appeared over its head and dropped significantly to reflect the damage done.
Yet its charge remained intact. I was… less than keen on the idea of taking the full power charge of a level six hundred ki-focused monster head on. Once it came close, I spread my chakra threads out, placing one on the creature’s own back. Stepping through the thread, I mounted the monster while it continued charging.
Since fire won’t finish you off… I placed my hands on the back of its back, and began to pour all that I could into Beginning Water, pushing down towards where its heart should be.
This time the effect seemed to be enough to finish the creature off, its health bar blinking away as it stumbled and fell to the ground. Blood began leaking out of its mouth, and I nodded inwardly. It used my entire pool of this new ki, but I was able to kill a creature over double my level with minimum risk to myself.
I took a moment to look at the martial spirits while listening to the messages come in, notifying me of increased levels. “You can have the rest. That’s enough for me for now.” Even though I could hear the other fifteen monsters beginning to charge, I oddly didn’t feel a sense of danger. Everything I knew made me feel that the two dozen martial spirits were far more terrifying monsters than the golden oxen, who only knew to use ki on pure instinct.
Sure enough, fifteen of the martial spirits immediately burst into blood mist, charging forward towards the rampaging monsters. As I turned around, I saw them entering the bodies of those giant bulls through their mouths, noses, even their eyes. Then, slowly, the entire stampede just stopped…
Their health bars never appeared above their heads. There was no great battle, no clash of powers. One by one, the golden oxen had their chests explode. Fragments of bone and bloody mists scattered across the plains, causing me to summon a shield of wind to protect myself from the gore.
Scarlet watched the scene with a warm smile, even as her face was splashed with the blood of monsters. She walked past me, towards the field of remains. From the bodies of each monster, two figures emerged. Naturally, one of them would be the martial spirit that had launched the ‘attacks’. As for the other, it was a new, young martial spirit, looking to be no older than a group of eight year olds.
“Welcome to the family.” Scarlet said, walking to the nearest child and kneeling down, wiping some blood off their face with her thumb. “We have a lot to teach you all.”
The child, a young boy, looked at her. There was recognition in his eyes, his inherited memories telling him vaguely who Scarlet was. So, he simply nodded his head while she moved on to the next one, giving the same greeting to each and every one of them.
Okay, I don’t really need to stick around for all of this… I thought to myself, before choosing to immediately ascend back to the Admin Room. The miracle of life was one thing… but when that miracle involved children literally exploding out of the chests of monsters, I draw the line.
That’s good for a trial run, anyways. I had just been interested in seeing how the energy stood up in practical combat, and getting a few easy levels in the process, so there was no harm in ending the combat training there.
“Mother, he’s gone.” One of the martial spirits said as he approached Scarlet, just as she was greeting the last of the young kin.
“Hmm.” She nodded her head, a knowing smile on her face. She appreciated the fact that the Keeper had not insisted on taking more of the pack. The spread of the races and their growth did not make finding suitable monsters easier for the martial spirits. Rather, it made things more difficult.
She had not lied to Dale. It took days, sometimes weeks for them to travel to a suitable breeding ground after Scarlet sensed it. And that was assuming that what Scarlet sensed was a monster, rather than a person. As much as her kin protested, she continuously denied them when it came to using a member of the races as their breeding grounds.
“All of you..” She spoke softly as she stood up, glancing to the kin that had come with her. “I’ll be going to the Keeper’s Citadel for a while to learn the travel method he spoke of. I was promised that I will be able to return at my leisure, so there is no need to worry.”
“Very well, mother.” Several of the martial spirits nodded their heads, though they had dejected looks on their faces. “But… how will we find a breeding ground with you gone?”
In truth, Scarlet’s ability to locate potential ki sources was miraculous. It was an ability that no other martial spirit had been born with. Only she knew where the source came from, smiling slightly when she recalled the title that she had been born with.
‘Demigoddess of Ki’, a title earned from having been born from Dale’s own blood. Even then, it seemed to be rare, as only she had acquired it. With this title came a new ability, one that would let her scan the entire world for powerful sources of ki. It was only with this ability that she had been able to grow her kin to their current numbers.
“For now, there is no need to find a new breeding ground.” Scarlet told them with a shake of her head. “Instead, I want all of you to find a suitable island to make our future home. When I return later, we will have a method to easily travel wherever we please. It will be a good time to establish our home.”
The other martial spirits smiled, nodding at her words. Once they were able to travel freely, having a base of operations to return to after every excursion would allow them to steadily build up a home. And they could even begin migrating some of the more intelligent lesser kin to the island while they waited for her, to aid with construction.
Scarlet saw them all being agreeable, and was glad for it. Her ability to find breeding grounds, as well as her strength, were what always kept her kin following her. Nobody doubted her when she was able to locate hosts from so far away, and accurately lead them there. Even if some questioned her judgement at times, they would not dare to directly oppose her.
Closing her eyes, Scarlet did something that she had not done since her birth. She prayed to one of the gods. Aurivy, Goddess of Travel, as the representative of the kin, I plead for entry to the floating palace.
Aurivy answered her prayers, a golden mist enveloping Scarlet’s body. When the mist scattered, she was gone, transported to the garden atop the castle in the sky. Scarlet let out a soft sigh once she saw that she was allowed in, and was just about to begin walking, searching for the library when she suddenly stopped.
“Who are you?” A voice spoke up from behind her, causing Scarlet’s eyes to widen. The scary thing was not that the presence had snuck up on her. No, it was that she sensed its approach clearly. From all the way at the base of the castle, it had appeared on the roof in a matter of seconds.The aura dripping with blood and death. Perhaps the one living creature that Scarlet was truly afraid of.
“I… I am Scarlet, representative of the kin.” She answered, not even turning around. She had the feeling that any sudden movements might make this person attack her.
“The kin? I am not familiar with that race…”
Scarlet shook her head slightly. “We are the martial spirits. I am of the first, born of the Keeper’s own blood.” There was a brief spike of hostility, as suddenly the person was directly in front of her, crouched down to be at eye level with Scarlet.
Tsubaki was quite beautiful by the standards of most races. She was well proportioned, with a cute face, and a calm demeanor that attracted others. However, Scarlet saw her as if she were a demon.
“Say that again, please…” Tsubaki spoke again, and so Scarlet repeated herself, albeit hesitantly. When she did… a surprising change unfolded. This ‘demon’ that she had been so scared of for so long dropped to a knee.
“Tsubaki, first and only Knight of the Keeper, appointed Servant, apologizes for her rudeness.” She spoke, her voice suddenly more respectful. “I was unaware that my Keeper had a bloodline surviving in the world, and did not mean to cause any offense.”
Scarlet’s eyes widened again, before she blinked in confusion. It was true that she could be considered the Keeper’s bloodline. He was her only parent. “It… is fine. I am the only one left of his line.”
Originally, there had been others, her brothers… However, one had been killed in a failed breeding hunt. As for the other, he had later plotted to kill her to take control of the kin for himself, and had been killed in return. Scarlet could feel a twinge of sadness as she recalled that.
Tsubaki looked up, her eyes staring at Scarlet before she nodded her head. “Still, as his Servant and his Knight, it is my duty to follow the words of his blood, so long as they do not go against his beliefs. If you require assistance during your time here, you need only let me know.”