Chapter 14 – A Proper Orientation
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The master instructs the three to return to Catito. At the entrance, they find Catito chatting with two souls. As the souls make their way to one of the rooms, Catito asks Wyn and his friends to wait in the fourth room to the right of the entrance, before following the two souls into the room. Sliding the door open, the gang sees nineteen other souls waiting for Catito, including Christine. They proceed to sit on the floor. Yu sits next to Christine.

“How long have you been here for? I didn’t see you leave the ballywool farm,” Yu asks.

“I don’t know how long exactly. I left not long after I hit you with the ballywool.” Christine chuckles.

The room is full of chatter at the moment. Souls are getting acquainted with one another. Many of the male souls encircle Mira, trying to ‘get to know her’. As for Wyn, he’s happy no one’s approaching him. He keeps his head down.

“Sorry, boys! I already have a team I roll with.” Mira says to the group of males surrounding her, evoking mutterings of disappointment.

The door slides open, it’s Catito. He asks the souls to sit in two rows and face him.

“Congratulations to all of you on completing your first step to becoming a valuable asset to the Dark Lord’s army!”

Aside from the training, there’s a number of crucial information the souls need to know before heading out on their own. As is, every soul here is not strong enough yet to join the elite force – they must earn their way in. The only way to achieve this is to kill creatures and collect their essence, while meeting several other criteria. All beings in Hell and Heaven, once they part the realm, they disintegrate into essence dust. The stronger the beings, the more potent the essence. Collecting it gives the collector a permanent boost in their abilities – stronger attacks, higher damage resistant, higher stamina, and such. Catito advises to always collect essence after the battle. To collect, perform a reverse attack by focusing on absorbing it. However, with technology, the band can be placed facing the direction of the essence. By holding the snap button on the strap, the band will start absorbing the essence directly into the user. Essence can be shared if multiple bands are activated at the same time. Catito’s explanation draws everyone’s attention to the snap button. The band can show the total amount of essence collected and collection history.

“Your bands are being updated right now as we speak. Do not bother with it until I say so,” Catito says.

Wounds inflicted on body parts, except for the brain, will be healed in due time, depending on the severity. Severed body parts will regrow, though gradually. Catito strongly recommends the retrieval of the severed part. Placing it back to where it should belong helps accelerate the healing process.

“As long as your brain is intact, you can always regrow any lost part. Should you fail to retrieve the severed part, it will disintegrate the moment the healing begins, which is some time after you are out of the battle.”

“Do we lose our essence too, say if we lose all body parts except for the head?” Wyn asks.

“You will never lose the collected essence as long as you are alive. This is why the essence of a deceased soul remains as potent as the total of its collected essence. So, make sure you absorb your parished friend’s essence. Do not let them die in vain!”

“Wait! We can die here? Like forever?” Wyn asks, his eyes wide open.

“Yes.”

“So, does a blow to the brain mean instant death?”

“Indeed. But unless your brain is destroyed, you will suffer the same pain as you would in the living realm. Be careful out there.”

After Catito’s response, Yu quickly turns to check on Wyn, who’s lost in his own thoughts – furrowed eyebrows, chin propped on his fists, sitting with an arched back. Yu places his arm around Wyn’s neck, not looking at him and not saying a single word. Wyn sits back straight in response, looks back at Yu, resigned smiles, then lightly squeezes Yu’s hand briefly before refocusing on Catito.

Creatures on this level, some are Hell’s own creations and some from another world, have weak points. However, unlike a human soul, attacking a weak point doesn’t always mean an instant victory. Instead, doing so can shorten a battle drastically. And while not all creatures can use elemental attacks, it doesn’t mean they’re harmless. On the contrary, a few outworldly creatures are known to possess other elemental powers than the five found in human souls.

It’s crucial to know that none of the creatures in Hell can absorb essence, meaning they won’t become stronger after feasting on fellow creatures or souls. However, the more a creature consumes other beings, the more essence it may give upon death. The extra amount it provides depends on how long the essence has been in there for, as unclaimed essence loses potency and vanishes overtime.

“The seventh level is split into three floors. You are on the first floor, the highest floor.”

As beginners, Wyn and his team are confined within the first floor. The floor map can be found on the band, another feature to be implemented later. The main mode of transportation is through portals. Find any surface big and smooth enough to open a portal after choosing a destination from the menu.

“Now, the training area is one of the four sections on this floor. Before you can leave, you have a test to complete.”

The souls in the room murmur upon hearing the world test. Wyn is getting shivers. He hates tests.

“Behind the dojo, there is a garden. Go through it, reach the end, and complete the test.”

“What’s the pass rate?” Wyn asks.

“Seventy percent.”

“What happens to the thirty percent?”

“Mostly dead. If not dead, then we send them back to the dojo for more training.”

Catito then leaves the room momentarily before returning with a bucket full of sticks on his head.

“These are the sticks of revelation. Pick any one you like and place it in front of you.” After everyone has picked a stick, Catito continues, “Now, hover your hand above the stick. Do not lift it. Form an attack orb and press against the stick.”

Following the instruction, Wyn’s stick glows and transforms into a pair of chakrams. The sharp round gray weapons feature a plus-shaped black handle in the middle. Arguably, an x-shape, the handle allows for a versatile handling of the weapon. The inner circle is twenty centimeters wide. The inner blade is covered by a thick dark brown leather to protect Wyn’s hands from possible injuries.

Yu’s stick, on the other hand, turns into a crescent blade. The handle is as tall as him and the blade section extends roughly fifty centimeters higher. Like Wyn’s, his weapon looks just as uninspiring – blue handle, round golden guard, gray blade, and one blade hook extending from the upper edge.

Mira is looking at her newly formed whip. The whip reaches a maximum distance equals to her height, handle included. The fall-less whip has a peculiar metal egg at the tip. The rest of it is in all black and looks very much like a regular whip.

“Another reason why you are special is the ability to materialize and dematerialize your weapons at will. Command it to disappear, within your mind, and you do not have to carry it around when not engaged in a battle.”

This part is easier than firing an elemental projectile. The whole class is able to master it within a few tries.

“Do not look so disappointed. Your weapons may be ubiquitous now, but they will evolve into their final forms the more you use them in battles.”

“And how long would that take?” A random soul asks.

“Cannot tell. Depends on the weapon and the creatures it is used against. Now follow me.”

The cat exits the room through the front door. He takes the group around the dojo to arrive at the back of it. Ahead is an empty garden.

“You can now look at your bands. You should notice a few changes.”

The level selection menu has now been replaced by the ‘campsite’ selection menu, though the only location available for the time being is the dojo entrance. A new addition to the band is the essence count menu. It shows the most recent three collections and a total at the bottom. Tapping on the total reveals the history of kills and the essence collection amount from each kill.

“The nerds went nuts on these devices, I bet!” Wyn speaks to himself.

“Before we proceed, any questions?” Catito asks.

“Can you enlarge yourself like CATOTO?” Yu asks.

“Yes, but there is no need to. All relatives of CATOTO can do it,” Catito answers. “Now, set foot on the ground.”

As their feet touch the ground, the lush garden comes to life with various creatures. The ballywool Mira sent off flying earlier is drifting about not too far from the dojo.

“Now go. Fight any creatures you want. They will not attack you if not aggravated first. Come back here if you need to rest or run away from danger.”

“When you have enough of it, head to the north barricade wall. Talk to a demon when you are ready to initiate your test.”

“Good luck and might as well have fun!”

And with that, the three step forth into the garden. They are more than ready to put what they have learned so far into an actual battle.

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