Chapter 43: Mission Complete
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Chapter 43: Mission Complete

Ain’s brain was churning as he retreated. The information from Scan flashed past his mind.

[Species: Infernal Tiger]

[Aspect: Fire]

[Quality: Noble | Max Quality: Ancient]

[Rank: Rank-1]

[Innate Skills: Infernal Coat]

[Skills: Fireball, Daunting Roar]

[Aspect Traces: Fire 74.2%, Earth 10.7%, Wood 4.1%, …]

"Daunting Roar. That’s what stunned me just now." Ain immediately noted the Infernal Tiger’s skills. Daunting Roar, an aspectless skill, was uncommon amongst Infernal Tigers. It was capable of stunning suitable targets in its effective range.

Ain concurrently beheld his target’s strength. Scan displayed Rank-1 but he personally discerned Branded Rank-1. Only at Branded Rank-1 could the Infernal Tiger clash with him evenly. With double aethercores at Initiated Rank-1 and Nox’s Possession, his true strength was unanimously beyond Initiated Rank-1. It already overreached into the realm of Branded Rank-1! With three weeks of analysis, he’d better comprehended his unique circumstances. Although the consequence of two aethercores on his strength wasn’t exactly one plus one equals two, it was still a reasonable one plus one equals one-and-a-half. Within the same rank, Ain had a comprehensive advantage over his peers. The Infernal Tiger couldn’t be at Initiated Rank-1.

Despite his internal musings, the battle continued. Struck by Hugo’s Aero Blast, and dodging Ace’s Wind Slash, the Infernal Tiger faced the retreating Ain, the nearest threat, and opened its gnarly mouth. A blazing sphere of fire rapidly condensed and it was aimed straight at him. This was Fireball!

Ain’s obsidian eyes reflected the incoming flames. He dodged to the side with nimble movements, allowing the Fireball to zoom past his face. He felt a searing sensation on his skin as the Fireball exploded behind him.

After releasing the Fireball, the Infernal Tiger lowered its stance, preparing a vicious leap, but Hugo’s Aero Blast disrupted its actions once again. As the beast evaded his attack, Hugo shouted, “Ain, stay clear! Ace, use Piercing Gale!”

Ain promptly heeded the warning and halted his advance. Hugo’s Grand Eagle, Ace, flew below the dense tree crowns, a green radiance suffusing its feathers. With a flap of its broad wings, a powerful and sharp gale was generated, instantly drowning the Infernal Tiger with its sheer breadth! This was Ace’s innate skill – Piercing Gale!

“Roar!” The Infernal Tiger clamored furiously, enduring the sharp winds with its beastly body. Tiny streaks of blood soaked some of its fur as it glared at Ace wildly. Baring its razor-sharp teeth, the Infernal Tiger used Daunting Roar!

“ROAR!!”

A mighty roar reverberated in the ancient jungle! The trembling air instantly stunned Ace, disrupting its innate skill. Its flapping wings halted their movement and it suddenly plummeted towards the forest floor!

“Ace!” Hugo bellowed in distress and rushed over impulsively. The copious amounts of low-hanging branches cushioned Ace’s plunge as it fell into some shrubbery. A dangerous glint flashed across the Infernal Tiger’s eyes. Opening its maw, a fiery breath appeared, a precursor to Fireball. However, at this moment, Ain aptly used Spectral Blast. The Infernal Tiger couldn’t dodge the spell as it was distracted by Ace and Hugo. The purple sphere exploded at its side, eliciting a painful growl!

Without pause, Ain slashed at the Infernal Tiger with Phantom Claws. Caught unprepared, the Infernal Tiger narrowly avoided the menacing claws intent on claiming its neck. However, it only evaded one set of claws. He had two!

Slash!

Five bloody gashes appeared on the Infernal Tiger’s waist. It roared in agony. Ain hurriedly side-stepped to avoid a tailwhip before launching another attack. Nevertheless, his target was prepared this time. Just as he attacked, intense flames suddenly erupted from the Infernal Tiger, engulfing its entire body. Scalding flames swayed in the breeze, emitting a scorching aura. This was the Infernal Tiger’s innate skill – Infernal Coat!

At this point, unfortunately, Ain couldn’t withdraw his attack in time! Committing to his attack, Phantom Claws tempestuously clashed with a set of flaming claws!

Boom!

A shockwave manifested at the point of contact. The fallen leaves and dead branches on the forest floor were blasted away.

Infernal Coat has increased its power! Ain realized. A powerful repulsive force caused him to stagger as a scalding sensation enveloped his claws. Phantom Claws were relatively unharmed, but the searing sensation couldn’t be ignored. Even Phantom Claws would disintegrate after several such instances.

Regaining his balance, Ain glanced at the Infernal Tiger, only to see its flaming jaws wide open! His heart skipped a beat at this moment. There was a Fireball already blasting towards him at great speeds!

Boom! A fiery explosion occurred!

Clouds of dust and smoke rose. The Infernal Tiger, doused in terrifying flames, retreated from the blast. The hazy smog rapidly dissipated under his astute gaze, revealing the aftermath of its attack. At this moment, the Infernal Tiger’s eyes abruptly trembled as it urgently dodged to the side. A glowing purple sphere exploded at its previous location!

Boom!

After evading the Spectral Blast, the Infernal Tiger glared at Ain, who appeared behind a flickering golden shield teeming with cracks. This was Aether Shield, his sole defensive spell!

At a distance, Hugo breathed a sigh of relief upon witnessing this sight. “He’s okay. Good. Ace, go help him,” said Hugo while glancing up. Due to the ample branches and shrubbery, Ace only suffered minor injuries. It was already back in the air, glowering at the Infernal Tiger.

“Scree!”

After Ace’s screech, Hugo also shouted, “Ain! Buy me some time! I’ll finish it in one hit!”

Hearing Hugo’s voice, Ain nodded resolutely. It was challenging to deliver lethal damage with his current combat prowess. If not for Hugo’s presence, his only option was a battle of endurance. Expressing his agreement, he left the crumbling Aether Shield to pester the Infernal Tiger, alongside Ace.

“Huu… I hope this spell works…” With a deep breath, Hugo closed his eyes and raised his right arm, assuming a throwing posture. He began visualizing his spell with deep concentration. Gusts of wind revolved around him, lifting decayed leaves while rustling the branches and shrubbery in the vicinity. A lance composed entirely of wind began forming in his raised hand. It was like he held a slender but violent tornado in his grasp!

Beads of sweat drenched Hugo’s face. Nearly ten seconds later, once the visualization was successful, he abruptly opened his eyes and activated his innate talent!

Wind God’s Blessing!

The whirling winds around him suddenly intensified with his innate talent’s augment. His clothes fluttered frantically, almost threatening to tear apart. As if aggravated, the wild tornado clenched in his hand started struggling, revolving at mind-numbing velocities. Powerful aether fluctuations stormed the region. Sensing the precipice of his control, Hugo yelled loudly, “Ain!”

Ain was engaging the Infernal Tiger when Hugo’s shout reached his ears. Glancing over, he was immediately shocked by the storming winds. Rank-1 Spirit Masters inherently had limited perception, yet the intense aether fluctuations were palpable even at this distance. Although astonished, Ain was quick to collect his thoughts. He commenced a retreat with agile movements while raising both palms to cast two Spectral Blasts simultaneously. This was a result of his three weeks of training!

“Roar!” The flaming Infernal Tiger was infuriated upon sensing Hugo’s spell. Dismissing Ain’s departing figure, it hoped to launch a Fireball at Hugo but was intercepted by Ain’s Spectral Blasts. With Ain’s deliberate scheming, the Infernal Tiger could only dodge in one direction. Hugo, having realized Ain’s intentions, narrowed his eyes. With a powerful step, he stretched his arm backwards before forcefully throwing the impressive lance of wind. His physical strength was inconsequential! The spell traveled at unparalleled speeds!

This was Hugo’s strongest spell, Stratos Lance, empowered by his innate talent! As if it’d teleported, the mighty lance instantly reached the Infernal Tiger, piercing right through it!

“Growl…” The Infernal Tiger’s legs trembled as Infernal Coat dissipated, followed by some weak growling. It was stunned as the immense pain drowned its mind. A gruesome hole was carved in its body, the mangled flesh spewing large amounts of blood. Hugo’s panting figure was reflected in its dimming eyes. Nearby, Ain vigilantly awaited its demise. It shouldn’t survive with such a gaping hole in its body. As expected, roughly five seconds later, the swaying Infernal Tiger finally toppled onto the forest floor, unwillingly breathing its last. Some dust and leaves were displaced, marking its inevitable death.

“Is it dead?” Hugo asked between heavy breaths, perspiring notably.

“Yeah. It’s dead,” confirmed Ain while in a similar state. The recently departed life aura was obvious in Nox’s perception. Furthermore, Wisdom Root also informed him of the completed quest.

[Quest: Hunt (Completed)]

[Description: Hunt the Infernal Tiger at the Seven Moons Island.]

[Reward: Heavenly Whispers x5]

"That makes it ten Heavenly Whispers," Ain thought internally. He approached the fallen Infernal Tiger whilst canceling Possession. Nox silently appeared beside him, exhibiting only mild exhaustion. There had been vast improvements in its endurance.

Ain observed the Infernal Tiger before saying, “You can harvest its eyes. I’ll go get the Sun Poppies.”

“Got it,” Hugo replied. His mission objective was the Infernal Tiger’s eyes. They had transformed upon its death, now crystallized into valuable fire-aspect treasures. Some special uses could be derived from them in the correct hands. As Hugo busied himself with the Infernal Tiger’s eyes, Ain crouched next to the cluster of Sun Poppies. He’d consciously avoided this flowerbed during the battle. Touching one of the flowers, he used Scan.

[Name: Sun Poppy]

[Aspect: Fire]

[Rank: Rank-1]

[Aspect Traces: Fire 65.9%, Wood 24.5%, Earth 4.5%, …]

[Description: A flower capable of absorbing the sun’s essence. It can be used to concoct various elixirs. It is warm to the touch.]

“They’re indeed warm,” Ain muttered as he gathered the Sun Poppies with swift motions. He harvested thirty-five flowers. His mission requirement was only ten.

That was the battle against a Branded Rank-1 Infernal Tiger!

I believe the Infernal Tiger was a worthy opponent. What are your thoughts? 

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