109. Stampede
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[This is everything that happened.]

 

“I see,” Rakna muttered meditatively.

 

He was currently leaning against the wall of the training room with his book in hand as Alexa went on to explain to him what Pronos had managed to discover on his Infinity Magic. The little snake was also in the room, bolting from one wall to another, trying to find a way to fly.

 

“So, what it meant by Laws of Numbers was pretty direct. Do you know anything, Higure?”

 

“{I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. I have heard of Infinity Magic in the past but I have no first-hand knowledge of it. But I did hear from my parents, who were close to an actual Ouroboros, that wielding Infinity did not mean becoming ‘infinite’. They said it was impossible. The only thing you can do is try to get closer to it.}”

 

“In other words, Infinity Magic is a way to strengthen yourself with technically no limit but with which it is impossible to reach real infinity.”

 

“{I believe so. The young snake could become incredibly powerful with this magic. But, ultimately, every magic element is limited by the same thing; mana. If he wants to become ‘infinitely strong’, he could, but that would require having equally infinite mana.}”

 

Rakna hummed. Unlimited mana, huh? Ascension of the Titan did say something similar to that. But that was probably an exaggeration. His Nirvana Skill’s function was to concentrate everything he had into one large outburst. In one sense, you could compare it to a sort of nuclear explosion.

 

He would clash the energies he had available to him until they went berserk which granted him a transitory source of power before leaving his body damaged; by radiations in this metaphor.

 

“Well, infinity is an impossible goal no matter how you look at it,” he ultimately said. “The very fabric of the world couldn’t possibly accept something that is ‘infinite’. Imagine an object that has an infinite weight; that would cause something worse but not dissimilar to a black hole. A massive, infinite black hole that would destroy the entire universe.”

 

“{Hm, that is true. It is a sort of paradox in a way. There cannot be something truly infinite since it would imply that the universe it inhabits is logically long rescinded.}”

 

Rakna nodded. “Though, there might exist some exceptions. Such as indestructibility. In any case, this isn’t something we should fuss about,” he uttered and closed the book in his hand. He looked at his pet attempting to learn flight by releasing highly volatile poison.

 

“Hm… Hey, little guy,” he raised his voice and Pronos turned toward him. “Have you ever heard of Jin Dou Yun?” When he saw the confused face of his pet, he snorted.

 

“Well, that was rhetorical. It means Cloud Surfing. It’s a popular ability that the Monkey King, Sun Wukong, used. While it is popularized as a cloud that acts as a sort of vehicle, the original legend refers to boots that allowed him to step on clouds and surf on them.”

 

Pronos cocked his head to the side. He didn’t understand what his master was trying to say.

 

Rakna sighed. “In other words, stop trying to control a cloud of poison. Your clouds only need to be dense for a brief moment, enough for you to use them as stepstones,” he explained and lightly jumped. To the little snake’s shock, his foot didn’t land back on the floor but stopped in midair. It was as if he was standing on an invisible platform.

 

Rakna proceeded to jump a few more times, stepping on nothing each time, until he landed close to Pronos. This was the passive application of Flash Step, a very cost-efficient ability. It had taken him less than one mana point to do this. Once his crippled state was over, he would be able to do it indefinitely since the cost was outweighed by his regeneration value.

 

“Just like this; it’s not flying but it works the same way,” he said and Pronos nodded, now getting a grasp on what he meant.

 

He looked up and circulated his mana. A small but solid cloud of orange poison appeared and he promptly leaped toward it. When he landed on it, he didn’t even stay a second before jumping again and making a second cloud appear whilst the previous dispersed.

 

And so, just like that, he repeated the process and reached the other side of the training room in no time. He landed on the floor and hopped a few times in happiness. He hissed at Rakna who was still standing in the distance.

 

“See?” The three-tailed werewolf said with an invisible smile. “If you can’t do something, find your way around it. Also, if you want to go faster, you could conjure combustible poison and detonate it with the Eion you produce so that you can quite literally become a rocket.”

 

“{Truly, you have wisdom to spare, Rakna,}” Higure spoke. “{It only gets better over time. You’re a man after my heart, honestly.}”

 

“Shush it. Don’t you have a mate anyway? What about your children?”

 

“{Hm?}” The lioness seemed puzzled for a second. “{Oh! Right, you wouldn’t know.}”

 

“What?” Rakna raised an eyebrow, watching with an amused eye as Pronos straightaway followed his advice and exploded clouds of poisons left and right to ride their shockwaves.

 

“{Dusk Lions are able to reproduce by parthenogenesis.}”

 

He blinked. “Wait… really?”

 

“{Yes,}” Higure said with a smirk in her voice.

 

“So… you’re basically both the mother and father of your children.”

 

“{Correct.}”

 

Rakna understood that bit. There were indeed certain organisms that could reproduce on their own but one certain detail was bugging him.

 

“But… they’re usually unisex. Does this mean that… male Dusk Lions can get pregnant too?”

 

“{They can. They rarely do though since they’re quite prideful as males.}”

 

“…I changed my mind. I need a change of air. I can’t stay here all day and you’re not helping with the images of pregnant men you’re putting in my head,” Rakna deadpanned and walked to the exit.

 

Higure laughed inside his mindscape and rolled around on the flowers. Rexam and Fenriu stared at her as if she was a disappointing parent.

 

“Pronos, you’re coming? I’ll need your help for something,” he said as he opened the door. “I’ll help you with your Infinity Magic too if you want,” he added right before the little snake landed on his shoulder. He hissed in confusion when he didn’t see Sonata. “My scarf? It’s with someone else at the moment. She’s a new friend. You’ll get to meet her later.”

 

Pronos nodded at the explanation and about twenty minutes later, the two of them were already disembarking the Black Steel’s Spear.

 

“All right, here’s what’s going to happen,” Rakna told Pronos as he pulled out a blue pill. “First swallow this, you’re a bit low right now. Then stay still. I’ll have to borrow some of your mana and stamina and I need you to not resist it.”

 

The little snake nodded, trusting him, and Rakna nudged his soul core and guided the power that emanated from it until he found Pronos’ soul. When the connection was established, he wasted no time before activating Soul Drain.

 

Pronos felt a bit ticklish for a moment and after ten seconds or so, Rakna stopped the skill and ended up with enough stamina and mana to do what he wanted. Fortunately for him, he could get by for less mana compared to other Hosts thanks to his Soul Core’s 30% reduction in cost.

 

“All right, hold tight,” Rakna said and deployed his wings. He didn’t use Artzpul since it was a bit arduous on his body and simply used Flash Step to climb inexistent stairs, leveling up the skill in the process, before plunging and flying toward a suitable location.

 

After a dozen minutes, he reached a small meadow surrounded by trees and landed on it. This was mainly to hide from prying eyes. He was about to train and he didn’t want anyone to see him.

 

“Let’s see… the first thing to do,” he muttered and snapped his fingers. “[Call of Fangs.]”

 

He called and they arose. His shadow stretched for a few meters and five shadow wolves jumped out of it. They were level five. “Scatter and bait a few monsters to this location. Prioritize those that don’t pose much danger,” he ordered and the wolves barked before rushing in five different directions.

 

Rakna then crouched and placed a hand on the ground before closing his eyes. Pronos watched him curiously and he waited for nearly three minutes before opening his mouth.

 

“[Scan Life,]” he intoned and a sonar formed itself inside his head. His wolves were returning to him and each of them had around three monsters chasing them. He confirmed that they were all weak enough to easily handle and stood up.

 

Shortly after, his shadow familiars jumped out of the forest enclosing the meadow at nearly the same time. Rakna glanced at them and mentally commanded them to run toward him.

 

‘16 of them. Mainly under level 10,’ he analyzed as they approached them. There were slimes and goblins among the baited monsters. Other than that, the strongest was a sort of miniature raptor.

 

Eventually, his shadow wolves reached his side and he mentally dismissed them and the monsters promptly switched targets. Pronos looked nervous as they got hazardously close but Rakna was still immobile as if he was waiting for something.

 

At the very last second, he opened his eyes wide, and a black aura flickered around his body. The temperature fell and the air itself seemed to darken. A wave of dread, several times stronger than the last time Rakna deployed his Despair Aura, washed over the area.

 

The monsters stopped on their tracks but not out of fear. They simply couldn’t continue running as they lost grasp on their consciousness and fainted without even realizing what had hit them.

 

They collapsed on the ground and slid on the grass toward Rakna who nimbly stepped to the side and watched them collide into a comical mess. He powered down his black aura and the air around them returned to normal.

 

“After absorbing the drake’s heart, this skill’s effect was magnified by at least three-fold,” Rakna commented offhandedly and Pronos gaped. He crouched and extended his hand toward one of the unconscious monsters.

 

“[Soul Drain,]” he uttered and this time, he didn’t bother to regulate the amount he was taking like with Pronos and Evelyn. He greedily swallowed everything he could. Soon enough, the skill leveled up and his victim gained wrinkles until its body was so brittle that its heart and brain couldn’t function anymore.

 

He repeated the process on a few other monsters until his internal forces were full. When he was done, he rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck. He now could truly feel the power in his body with an average of 30 on all his attributes.

 

“Nice,” he remarked dully and grabbed the dead raptor. He extended his claws and slit its throat to make it bleed. He then threw it with incredible ease over his shoulder and it fell at the edge of the meadow. He did the same thing for the rest, except slimes obviously, and stood still afterward.

 

Pronos took the occasion to jump off and gazed at him in confusion. However, someone else had realized what he was doing.

 

“{Rakna… did you just…?}” Higure trailed, unsure.

 

“That I did,” Rakna replied with a tone indicating that he was slightly eager.

 

[Oh…] Alexa also exclaimed and Pronos similarly came to a conclusion. But not because he had deducted anything, but because he saw dozens of glowing eyes peering at them from the darkness of the forest.

 

“Blood draws more blood,” Rakna uttered sinisterly and both of his auras flared. With each second that passed, the presences he sensed nearby were increasing at a rate he could barely track.

 

“{You’re a crazy boy… can’t say I don’t like it,}” Higure stated with a grin.

 

“The best way to train is practical application,” he snorted and, as if a dam had crumpled, waves of monsters and beasts rushed out while roaring and on cue, the sound of a chime resounded.

 

❮ ◈ ❯

Warning Missive!

You have initiated a Stampede!

The First Plateau’s monsters are attracted by the blood and your overflowing aura.

Objective: Vanquish Every Enemy.

Remaining Foes: 250/250

❮ ◈ ❯

 

“…oops.”

 

As you all expected, Rakna just couldn't stay put.

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