I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit jealous of Ilya. She can drop her father’s name and even a seventh-circle magician will respect her. How is that even fair? It’s not like she’s her father, sheesh. Duke Pentorn…., that sounds like a really high position of nobility. I’m pretty sure it is. The first noble I was sold to was a baron. I wonder how different their statures are.
Anyways, I’ve decided to head east towards the base that the demon was talking about. The main reason being my interspacial ring ran out of space to hold anymore valuables. Like p****es. Also, it’s taking me a lot longer to absorb this beast core than expected, and I feel like I’ve reached a wall in my Unrelenting Path of Slaughter. Usually, when I kill things with the path on, I’d get a rush of excitement. But after always having the path on, the excitement’s faded and following the path does nothing. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to breakthrough from a spirit warrior to a divine warrior. I’ll just ask Durandal when he wakes up, which should be really, really, really soon. Please.
On the way to the base—I’ve already crossed two mountains and halfway through a third—I’ve killed a total of thirty-three divine beasts, twenty-four of which dropped cores. That’s a lot more than the usual core rate! But during that whole time, the manticore beast core still hadn’t finished absorbing. Even sparring daily with Ilya doesn’t speed up the rate—probably because Ilya doesn’t present any challenge at all. The sparring’s mostly payback for setting my tail on fire, but she doesn’t know that.
Speaking of beasts…, that one looks awfully familiar. “Oh, look, it’s a corpse lover!”
“Corpse stalker,” Ilya said. I’m not sure when it happened, but Ilya’s been riding on my back more often than not. It’s because she refuses to consume any more bones to restore her mana to maintain her spells to keep up with me. Well, that just means more for me!
“These corpse stalkers follow strong beasts, right? I wonder what this one’s following.” Ah, it’s running away. How did it notice me? I think their sense of smell is stronger than mine. I have a few of their cores, but I can’t absorb them until this manticore’s is done digesting. Stupid divine beasts.
“Are you going to hunt another divine beast?” Ilya asked. Why does she sound so tired—no, that’s not the right word. Helpless?
“Of course. I need to get stronger.” Maybe if I kill whatever the corpse stalker was following, I’ll breakthrough. I doubt it though. I shouldn’t have fed Puppers to the manticore; he still hasn’t reappeared yet. He’d probably have an idea or two on how to become a divine warrior.
I circulated my qi to activate the Unrelenting Path of Slaughter. The red footprints showed me the way to the beast ahead. I wonder how that works. Can it be subconscious scents, sounds, or markings on the ground? Wait a minute…. Wait one gosh darn minute.
“Shut up. I’m thinking.” I’ve had the Unrelenting Path of Slaughter active more often than not due to Puppers’ advice of live, breathe, and sleep the path. It’s always consuming a little bit of my qi every second it’s active, but the bones of strength refill it without an issue. Wasn’t the first time I used the path like a guide? It told me what to do and how to follow it. Well, it didn’t tell me, more like forcibly took control of my body until I listened. Then it slowly gave me freedom until it became like a navigation tool, which I’ve been using a lot. Maybe, the next step is to follow the Unrelenting Path of Slaughter without actually having it activated? Wouldn’t having it be active passively be the real meaning of living, breathing, and sleeping the path? Then my next step is to figure out how the path figures out where creatures are, where their weaknesses are, what mana lo—
Didn’t I tell her to stop bothering me? I have to figure out—
I’m going to throw her away if this isn’t important! “What!?”
Oh. I was so lost in thought I didn’t even notice. “Unrelenting Path of Slaughter: Breaking Blade!” Ah, I forgot to turn off the Unrelenting Path of Slaughter to try to figure out the giant snake’s weakness on my own.
“You killed an imugi in a single hit…,” Ilya said and climbed off my back.
Why does she sound so surprised? “Wasn’t it just too weak?”
“Oh, no, it was already weakened,” Ilya said and pointed at the gashes all along the beast’s body. “See?”
“Hey! Step away from our prey! It’s dangerous…. You killed it?” A group of demons wearing robes emblazoned with three A’s, the Arcane Arts Academy’s symbol, appeared from behind the imugi.
Oh, sweet, the imugi had a beast core. I’ll pretend it didn’t have one if anyone asks. Ilya’s good at talking, I’m sure she’s distracting them.
“Sorry about that,” Ilya said. “My companion wasn’t paying attention and killed it on accident. We would’ve left it alone if we knew you were chasing after it.”
The leader of the students stared at Ilya. “No, it was our fault for letting it get away. But do you mind if we keep the body? We need it as proof.”
“That’s not an issue,” Ilya said with a nod before looking at me. “Right?”
“That depends; is it male?”
“Male?” the leader asked. “No, it’s a female. Why?”
“Never mind, you can have it.” Ilya and I have left over a dozen divine beast corpses lying around mainly because we ran out of space in our interspacial rings. And Ilya has seven of them! Seven! For the record, I have three. The ring I got from the Briarwood envoy and the two earrings I conveniently found on a dying student. Of course, I hid them with the ring just in case the well-dressed demon teacher appears again and notices me wearing his deceased student’s jewelry.
“Thank you,” the leader said. He glanced at Ilya. “Are you a student of the academy?”
“No,” Ilya said, “but I’m an acquaintance of Bartholomew Shinx.”
“Teacher Shinx?” the leader asked. His eyes widened—from fear, I think. I have to admit that teacher was pretty scary. He even made my tail stiff. “I see. Were you heading to the base? We can escort you if you’d like.”
Everyone gives Ilya face. How come I don’t get any? It’s not fair.