Rakna lifted his hand to look at the ring who didn’t seem to be willing to come out at all. He could not make it disappear as well but the good thing was that it didn’t really strike as a precious object so it would probably not attract a lot of attention in the future.
‘These skills are… interesting to say the least,’ he thought. He couldn’t properly evaluate how useful they were without actually trying them out but at the very least, it was promising to know that he could transport undead he would eventually raise.
‘Speaking of which…’ He opened his Item Box and saw a new tab available. When he pressed on it, his expectations weren’t high but instead of the empty storage he had envisioned, one slot was occupied and it was even taking the majority of the ring’s space.
❮ ◈ ❯
Four-Hundred-Year-Old Carcass of a Dusk Lion King
The corpse of a legendary class beast. It was killed by Verias when it was giving birth and too weak to fight back. He has kept it ever since in order to produce a powerful undead out of it.
The late beast was so strong, to the point of having a spark of divinity, that it never decomposed after all this time. Additionally, the Necromancer’s Ring kept it protected and in perfect condition.
Dusk Lions are a legendary race that usually lives hermit lives until the day they die. They never bother to fight for territory or get stronger but even Nine-Tailed beings are fearful to anger one.
Dusk Lions appear as a beast with black fur and red eyes. Some people tend to even mistake them as living shadows. They have incredible magical abilities and speed but what truly sets them apart and makes them such terrifying foes is the constitution they are born with.
Commonly called ‘Shuttle Specter Physique’, it allows them to jump through the layers of the spiritual dimension known as ‘Enthymio’. The royal lineage of the Dusk Lions is said to be able to reach the layer called ‘Origin’, which allows them to become nearly invulnerable.
❮ ◈ ❯
‘Well, damn. Never thought I’d find a potential genome so soon,’ he thought. ‘A legendary beast on par with the nine-tailed, huh? If the body is preserved, its heart should also be intact. Though, it might not necessarily be better to use Harvester on it instead of Scavenger. If I think long term, the former would be better but short term, the latter will probably boost my attributes by a long shot.’
|| You have reached your destination, disembark. || As he was pondering on what to do, his map’s navigation notified him that he reached his stop. He closed the system windows with a hum and stood up before exiting the bus as his balance went down by ten Talys.
Coincidentally, the boy he talked to earlier also seemed to get off at the same stop. Rakna glanced at him after the bus took off again and he looked back nervously.
“Um, you live here too?” He asked while hugging Locky in his arms.
“No… I’m here for a Quest.”
The boy’s eyes seemed to lit up at that. “So, you’re a Host?!”
Rakna slightly raised an eyebrow. “Yes. Why? Is it that rare to see one?”
“W-well, kind of. Hosts don’t stay too long around Black Steel, especially in the more outer regions of the city. Even today, the only reason I was closer to the center was that I had to bring Locky to a veterinary there. It’s my first time meeting a Host.”
“I see,” Rakna remarked and started walking down the street, following the map’s path. The young boy exclaimed in surprise and jogged to catch up to him.
“Can I ask something?” He said tentatively and Rakna exhaled a puff of smoke.
“You already did.”
The boy chuckled awkwardly. “I guess I did.”
“Go ahead. What’s your question?”
“You said you were here for a Quest, right? Can I ask what it is?”
“The investigation of a mysterious series of murders,” Rakna responded as he turned right at an intersection right when a car passed by.
“Oh,” the young boy’s expression visibly sunk and Rakna’s nose picked up a few new scents coming from him; sadness, grief, and a bit more complicated one that seemed to be a mix of hope and pessimism.
“Looks like you know about it.”
He slowly nodded. “Yes… it would be hard not to since I live in that district. One of the victims was my cousin. Ever since then, we have seen many people trying to find the cause of their death but they all failed in the end. But I do remember now that someone recently requested help from the Pavilion.”
“Do you know who it was?” Rakna asked since he couldn’t tell from the Quest’s description who had put it up. If anything, he wanted to meet the person to gather information about the situation.
“I’m not sure. But I think it’s probably one of the doctors from the small hospital nearby. It’s there that the bodies were autopsied and stored.”
Rakna nodded. “Thanks, I’ll pay them a visit in that case,” he said while mentally zooming on his map and sited a waypoint on a certain building that had a small red cross icon on top of it. It was the closest hospital to where his navigation was bringing him to so there was no mistaking.
“Mhm,” the boy nodded. “You’re welcome… if I can help you to find the culprit faster, it’s enough.”
“I’ll see what I can do. What’s your name, kid?” Rakna asked, fully aware that their age gap wasn’t that high, but his uncle’s way of speaking had somehow made him call everyone who acts young or inexperienced like that. Heck, he had even used it to address someone twenty years older than him once.
“Ah, right! I’m Luke, nice to meet you! You probably already know but this is Locky.”
The dog barked at the mention of his name.
“I’m Rakna. See you later, Luke. Stay safe on your way back,” he uttered dully with a wave of his hand and took a different road to head to the hospital.
“I will. Thank you and good luck!”
Rakna groaned internally as he distanced himself from the kid. ‘I think I will add something to my introductions; ‘never wish me good luck’ or something. What do you think, Alexa?’
[Hello, my name is Rakna Xiorra, pleased to make your acquaintance. Never wish me good luck if that’s fine with you,] she enacted an imaginable situation while purposefully making her tone a bit lower so that it would sound like her Host.
Rakna’s expression twitched at that. ‘…that was a good one, Alexa. Keep it up.’
[Thank you, Rakna.] She sounded oddly content.
* * *
Five minutes later, he was stepping through the automatic door of the hospital. The people in the hall eyed him curiously as he directly walked to the reception.
“Did someone in this hospital submit a request to the Pavilion for a murder case?” He went straight to the point and the receptionist tensed along with everyone in earshot. It seemed the topic was a bit of a sensitive case here.
‘How many victims were there for there to be such a reaction?’ Rakna wondered.
“Y-yes, it was Dr. Wein. You should be able to find him on the second floor, in his office. Take the elevator over there and it’s the fourth room to the right.”
“Thanks,” he said and approached the elevator without a second thought. When he reached it, the doors opened and someone walked out of it before visibly stiffening when he saw him. The man nodded meekly and gave way.
Rakna entered without a word and pressed the button to the second floor. He made his way to the room he was looking for and knocked a few times.
“Come in,” a voice answered and he opened the door. He entered the staff office and saw a man in his forties sitting behind a desk, typing on a holographic keyboard. He looked up and scowled in confusion. “May I help you?”
“Are you Dr. Wein?”
“In person. Why?”
“I accepted your Quest from Pavilion’s Board, I’m here to ask you a few questions,” Rakna replied as he sat down one of the couches, relieved to be able to rest his body.
“Ah, I see. I submitted it yesterday, I didn’t think someone would accept it so quickly,” the doctor said in realization and faced his guest. “You don’t seem to be the kind of man to waste time, so, go ahead and ask me whatever you need to complete this request. I will do my best to answer.”
“All right. Simple things first; when did it start? How many victims? Where were the bodies found and at what time of the day? What is the average time of death estimate for each victim? And lastly, what are their profile?”
Wein blinked in surprise. Those questions were unexpectedly very insightful from someone so young-looking but that certainly gave him some hope.
“It started nearly two weeks ago. The first case involved a woman. She was found dead in the middle of the street in the morning. As you probably have already read from the Quest, there was no apparent injury but her organs were in a decomposition process. In fact, they almost seemed rotten but judging from the rigidity of her muscles, she had been dead for about three hours.”
“From that day onward, exactly 19 new victims were found. All of them were found in the morning and in seemingly random places. One of them somehow got on top of a roof too. On average, the time of their death could be estimated to have happened between 2 to 6 during the night. As for their profile, I suppose you want to know if there was anything common to them, right?”
Rakna nodded and he continued, “Well, I can safely say that there is none. We have checked more than once, believe me. There is no link whether it is age, gender, race, relations, appearance, or wealth. Some of the victims even were children below the age of ten or elderly older than eighty.”
“That explains why everyone seems to be on edge,” Rakna commented. “Knowing that you, your family, or your children are all potential targets must be daunting. I guess many have already left or are planning to.”
Weil nodded. “Indeed, and I cannot blame them.”
“Well,” Rakna stood up and put his hands in his pockets. “I can’t do much with this. I could try and wait for the night but there is a better option; you do keep the bodies here, right?”
“Yes, I was already planning to show the Host who would accept my Quest to ask for it,” the doctor declared and stood up. “Please follow me to the morgue.”