After leaving the café, Rakna and Kaelith truly began to explore the town in a relaxed manner, with the former even agreeing to get along with the vixen’s whims. Their banter hadn’t changed in the slightest nor were they acting differently but they were clearly more comfortable around each than they were an hour prior.
“What about this one?” Kaelith asked as she came out of the dressing room wearing a completely new attire. She sported an embroidered beige sweater and a long black skirt. Though, the major novelty was her hair. She had tied it into a ponytail which she arranged over her right shoulder.
Along with the contrast of colors, this gave her a dazzling quality. Compared to her usual crimson dresses, this made her look more refined and mature.
Even Rakna had to admit that. He was apathetic, not blind. “Though, I will never understand why women always want to show off clothing before buying it,” he uttered out loud.
“Come on, it’s obvious, wolfy. Why do you think we refine our appearance every day?” She said while putting a hand on her hip. “It’s to appeal. You can consider yourself to be the… beta tester of my attractiveness.”
“Grand words coming from someone who grumbles about how many people want to bed her.”
“This is this and that is that. You don’t expect me to bend my pride over some trash that I couldn’t even be bothered to look at, do you? It’s about self-worth.”
“Fair enough,” Rakna shrugged and observed her as he leaned against the wall next to the dressing room. He opened his mouth after a few seconds, “Yeah, you look good. That hairstyle suits you a lot too. It could probably enhance your more… vivacious outfits as well.”
Kaelith giggled and did a full spin before nodding to herself. “I agree. A change of air was already quite overdue, honestly,” she said and headed to the counter to buy both the clothes she was wearing and a small pile she was carrying before putting them in her storage.
After that, they left the shop and spent the next two hours going around, visiting everything that struck their fancy. Among them, the ones that stood out the most were a small museum exhibiting fossils found under the swamps and the library from which Rakna bought a few books that he had found interesting.
When they were about to end their little tour, they sat down at a local park, in front of a pond with surprisingly clear water compared to what the rest of the Fifth Plateau had to offer.
“So, what do you plan to do while you recover?” Kaelith asked as they watched a stream of fish swim around in the water, following Pronos who was enjoying the feeling of being submerged.
“I don’t know. I’ll either train, sleep, or read.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Train? In that state? You’ll hurt yourself.”
“I never specified what kind of training. There are other things to train other than the body and magic,” Rakna retorted and stood up before walking to the edge of the pond. He crouched there and tapped the surface of the water with his finger. He watched closely as the ripples formed and spread in every direction.
Kaelith cocked her head to the side and looked on from her seat. Soon enough, her interest turned into amazement as the fish of the pond swarmed in front of Rakna and stuck their heads out of the water as if they wanted to jump out.
Meanwhile, Rakna simply stared at them, seemingly doing nothing. But his eyes were releasing a very inconspicuous light. Truthfully, you couldn’t even call it light. It was bright but colorless and the way it undulated from the depths of his pupils made it look like a liquid.
The details behind what Rakna was doing were summarized by two System windows.
❮ ◈ ❯
Through executing a specific action, you have learned a new skill; Soul Sense.
Soul Sense (Lv.1): The ability to sense and visualize the souls of other beings. The larger and brighter the soul, the mightier the holder is. Their specific shapes and colors also refer to different elements. The range varies depending on the level of the skill.
Through executing a specific action, you have learned a new skill; Soul Scourge.
Soul Scourge (Lv.1): The ability to harness soul power and apply it outside of the body. By extending its influence onto other living beings, it is possible to make them enter a hypnotic state, manipulate them, or even hurt them.
Subjugating targets becomes substantially harder if their soul and mental power are either close to the user’s or above it.
Note: Keep in mind that overuse of one’s soul power can lead to soul suicide. The System does not manage its consumption and recommends the user to be vigilant.
Eyes of the Soul has leveled up! X2
❮ ◈ ❯
Rakna squinted his eyes and he almost felt like he had grown hundreds of new limbs. He guided them toward the fish in a trance and linked with them. Then, with a single thought, he ordered them to swim in a circle, form a line, waves, polygons, and then made them disperse back into the pond before cutting the connection.
❮◈❯ Soul Scourge has leveled up! ❮◈❯
“Wolfy… did you just…?” Kaelith uttered as he stood back up. He turned around to face her and almost tripped because of what he saw. Her body was surrounded by a thick cloak of blue fire with nine tails forming a circle around it.
❮◈❯ Soul Sense has leveled up! ❮◈❯
He obviously put two and two together and deduced that this was her soul. But the sheer pressure he could feel it exuding was completely different from what he sensed in those fish. Theirs were less than ant-sized compared to hers. Not only that but they were also colorless and shapeless.
Out of curiosity, he looked at Pronos who was swimming a few meters away, and saw that there was a small golden sphere in the center of his body, releasing glitters as it spun mesmerizingly. He then tried to look at himself but to no avail.
“Wolfy?” Kaelith spoke up and pulled him out of his reverie.
“Ah, it’s nothing. I just got lost in my thoughts,” he said and then tried to turn off this new sensory input he had acquired and thankfully, it seemed to work as his sight returned to normal. “What were you saying?”
Kaelith opened her mouth to say something but she eventually ended up sighing, “You know what? Let’s just say that your eyes are so dead that the fish like you enough to jump you, all right?”
“…” Rakna’s mind struggled between rebuffing her for the sake of his self-esteem or just letting it go to not have to explain what he had just done. “Right…” Ultimately, his idleness won the war.
The vixen chuckled and stood up. “Well, I think it’s time I go back, you know, up there,” she said while pointing at the sky. “Although I did say I was bored, I still have duties to attend to. To make matters worse, the Nine-Tailed Clan is in a state of political panic right now. As the heiress, I have to be there.”
“Political panic?” Rakna tilted his head. “Internal conflict?”
“You could say that. A newborn Nine-Tailed Wolf was kidnapped a few days ago and everyone’s blaming everyone. It’s a mess.”
Rakna’s eyes widened. ‘A newborn…’ He was hit hard by the revelation. The wolf he had killed and harvested was an actual member of the Nine-Tailed Clan. Never mind kidnapped, the lupine was long dead by his hands and he had even absorbed its genome. ‘That can’t be good…’ He thought to himself with a slightly more tense expression.
Fortunately, Kaelith didn’t seem to notice as she started cursing under her breath about all the talking and paperwork she would have to do.
“In any case, I had fun today, wolfy. Let’s do this again, okay? I’ll see you at the shop,” she said and prepared to leave when Rakna raised his voice.
She froze on the spot when she registered the word. This normally shouldn’t have affected her so much, it was just her name after all, but this had been the first time she had heard it from him.
“Thank you,” he added with a solemn tone and she forgot how to speak for a short moment.
When she finally recovered, she let out a small grin. “You’re welcome, Rakna,” she replied and was swallowed by a wave of blue flames before disappearing.
Rakna looked at the empty spot for a few seconds before looking back at the pond, where Pronos was finishing his last lap. At the same time, an alert sound resounded in his head and a System window popped up.
❮ ◈ ❯
<Gray Whisles> Meet up with me at the Pavilion in ten minutes.
> On my way.
❮ ◈ ❯
After responding, he closed the window and Pronos jumped on his shoulder after drying himself with a brief burst of his aura. He swiftly burrowed himself under Sonata and Rakna began to head back to the Pavilion.
As he was walking through the streets, his mind went back to the discussion he had with Kaelith and her peculiar and surprisingly innocent question. ‘A friend, huh? Would she say the same if she knew everything?’ He asked himself.
He hadn’t lied to her about his past. He had truthfully recounted to her what he had experienced but only he and his old man knew of the true reason why he was still haunted by that ‘pool’.
“Well,” he muttered and looked at his hand, his vision blurring for a second, showing it covered in blood before it returned to normal with a blink. He clenched his hand into a fist and slid it inside his pocket. “To not live in the past… I’d be worse than a coward if I went back on it now,” he said and slowly looked at the sky.
“Isn’t that right, old man?”