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32 A quick one?

Helial was looking at the small white flame in the palm of his hand.



I can't believe this… I thought he would have to wait for me to…

!



Sensing the changes occurring about her, Lumia suddenly came about from her meditative state. She saw the grass around Helial burst into flames and regenerate itself in a seemingly endless cycle.

"Idiot, what are you doing?"

Helial seemed to suddenly wake up. What?

He was only trying to generate the best flame possible and, without meaning it, he had just created a terrifying Skill. That was Flame of the Qilin.

Qilins didn't have the power to control Mana, but every Qilin was able to control an extremely powerful Flame. Qilin Flames were way more formidable than those of Dragons.

While a Dragon drew from Mana to generate a Flame, a Qilin used the natural resonance of their body with Mana to generate Skills that were linked to fire and did not need Mana.

Helial glanced at what was lying in his hand. The tiny tongue of fire that was burning there was truly mesmerizing.

It seemed that Body of the Qilin had allowed him to achieve such an outcome. The fact that he had been able to generate that Skill was not surprising in itself; what was surprising was the ease with which he had been able to generate it.

In the meantime, while checking the small flame, he opened the Skills window to take a look at its effects.

Active Skill

Flame of the Qilin

Lv: 1

Damage: ???

The damage generated by Flame of the Qilin differs according to the user's resonance with the Forces of Life. It inflicts triple damage against the creatures of Darkness.

Effects:

???

Cost: None

Efficiency: 100%

This is Flame of the Qilins, lords of nature and Life! It is one of the most mysterious Skills in the universe, able to dominate even the fire of the Dragons, lords of Mana.

Helial stared at the window before him. Sometimes, some Skill information was not provided: it was random and he did not know the variables, but for the few Vidio had told him about. He needed to learn more, as soon as he had the chance.

"Now we have something to cook the wolf meat with", Helial flashed a smile at his sister. Lumia shrugged and went back to meditating.

She could at least show a tiny bit of interest…, thought Helial, annoyed.



Cooking?



Helial tried to get the intensity of the flame under control and once at the minimum, he started to use it to roast the meat.

Fshhhhhhhh

Grease was sizzling and dripping from the wolf steaks.



Kyeheheheheh

I can't believe this, Kyeheheheheh!

He's using it to cook! Kyeheheheheh!

If that Lame Dragon could see him now… He would probably vomit blood 'till he croaked! Kyeheheheheh!

Kid, you just spat in the face of all the Qilins in the universe! Kyeheheheheh!



Helial was cooking quietly, while considering what to do with the new Skill.

He did not have much details, but the best thing to do would be to directly test it on some monster. He looked at the sky and sighed. He still knew too little and was still too weak.

True, Body of the Qilin had raised him above mediocrity, but he was far from considering himself strong enough.

He looked at his sister meditating under the tree and a smile crept over his usually frowning face. Lumia was his personal ray of sunshine. Lumia loved him unconditionally. Even if she insulted and mistreated him every now and then, he knew that she would always be on his side, no matter at what cost.

The meat was almost ready. Thanks to his excellent control he had managed not to burn it, despite the intensity of the Flame.

"Lumia, the food's ready!" called Helial.

"I'm not hungry!" retorted his sister.

"Wha-"

"Shut up!"

Helial was at a loss. He walked close to his silver-haired obnoxious angel.

"Why don't you want to eat?" he asked her, tousling her hair.

When she felt Helial touching her, Lumia's eyes flew open, shining with a fierce light.

"Leave me alone!"



Is she acting like that because her brother killed them?



"What's wrong?"

"Nothing!"

Helial was thrown off by Lumia's behavior. But after a moment's thought he asked: "Are you upset because I killed them without thinking twice about it?" Helial could not hold back a smile, which seemed to infuriate his sister even more.

"What if they had cubs?" Lumia sprang on her feet and kicked Helial right in the shin, "what if that was their only choice, there was no need to kill them!"

Helial grew suddenly very serious. He looked his sister in her emerald eyes and said: "Sit down for a second."

Feeling the gravity in his voice, Lumia understood that it was better not to answer back, so she sat down.



Let's see…



Before sitting down on the ground in front of her, Helial picked some leaves from a tree nearby and laid them down before Lumia as a makeshift tablecloth where to lay the meat. Then he sat down and punched the ground so hard to make the entire forest tremble and boom.

"What would you have done?"

"I would have taught them a lesson and then let them go!" bellowed the little girl.

"Okay, what then?"

"What then what?"

"The pack. Wolves move in packs."

"I would have moved far enough to not run any risks!"

"Wolves have a much more powerful sense of smell than us. And we have no way to disguise ourselves."

"Then I wouldn't have given a shit!"

Helial grew even more serious. He explained: "Do you really think I mind killing a couple of wolves? They're beasts; if they have cubs it's none of my business. But if I had let them go, a bigger pack would have come, or even worse, a huge pack. How could I protect you then?"

Lumia had seen his brother so serious only on a couple of other occasions. She almost felt intimidated.

Helial went on: "Listen, do you know who is able to do what you say?"

Lumia looked at him puzzled, shaking her head.

"The strong."



What…?



"Only the strong, those who can protect themselves and their loved ones, in any circumstances, can act of their own free will. Do you think I would be able to deal with a pack of wolves and protect you at the same time?"

Lumia stayed quiet.

"Best-case scenario, we would both end up seriously injured, worst-case scenario, you would be dead for sure", said Helial solemnly. "I don't care who, what or how someone tries to hurt you, they will always die."



This way, you'll make her feel guilty.



"So it's my fault!"

"No, it's not. It's my fault. When I'll be strong enough to afford that luxury, I'll be willing to take bigger risks to spare lives. But they are monsters and we are human beings: it is in the nature of things that we should hunt each other. Come here." Helial took Lumia in his arms, who was already starting to well up, "you don't have to be afraid of killing who wants to harm you. It's part of our life, of our path. Let's rather worry about defending who we love. Would you be willing to lose me to spare the life of a wolf?"



Interesting, kid.



Lumia looked at her brother in the eye, two big tears coming out of her light eyes. "N-no…"

Helial smiled. "Don't worry, your brother has no intention of becoming a Devil for now, but not a Saint either. We will do what is necessary and, when I'll be able to choose of my own free will, there will come a time to take different decisions from the ones we are being forced into right now. But now let's eat, today is not the day when I'll stop killing wolves, or Goblins, or, if it'll come to that, people."



Oh yeah? Kyeheheheheh



Right when Helial's words spread in the air all around them, two six-foot high Black Wolves appeared in front of them. They growled at the two kids. Their exceptional sense of smell was telling them that the roasted meat used to be one of their brothers.

Helial stood up, putting the piece of meat in the hands of his sister, whose tears he had just dried.

He ran a hand on Curse of the Demon.

Skill Activated:

Flame of the Qilin.

He spread flames on the weapon, creating a vortex from tip to hilt. Curse of the Demon was now completely engulfed in white flames.

The colors created a strikingly fascinating contrast. Helial had used that Skill following an intuition, trying to find a way to apply it in combat.

The two wolves leaped forward at the same time, their crimson eyes exuding bloodlust. They wanted to avenge their fallen brothers.

Auuuuuu!

Helial advanced slowly, raising Curse of the Demon above himself.

Fwoooosh!

He slashed with calm and precision, releasing a huge burst of flame, while the wolves were still a couple of yards away.

The tongues of fire enveloped the two beasts, leaving them no way out.

Kshhhhh!

The sleek black fur was consumed in instants by the flame and, right after, the two bodies of the wolves were also turned to ash.

Black Wolf lost 7457 HP!

Black Wolf lost 7213 HP!

You killed Black Wolf!

You killed Black Wolf!

You levelled up!

You reached Level 19!

***

In the Outpost

Vidio took a look at the generals beside him; for the most part they were in the Second Phase, and a couple in the Third Phase. They were the strongest of the outpost. Pausan was busy explaining how to proceed.

"We have laid out traps, here, here, here and here", his words were straight to the point, he spoke little but could get through to anyone listening in the clearest way possible, "we will wear them out. Then we will use special Formations to scatter poison on the field…"

At those words, some of the generals turned pale. The bravest in the room ventured a question: "Commander, don't you think that employing poison and all these tricks will…uhm, how to say this, make us lose face?"

Pausan's look remained unchanged, while staring at the general.

"Tell me, Nida, what do you reckon most important: a man's life or his honor?"

"Honor without a doubt, Commander."

Pausan nodded. "Lock him in a cell. If in three days he won't kneel down and plead to get out, hitting his head on the ground and if, once freed, he won't scrub the recruit's privy for a month, execute him. Every single objection will be considered as treason and you will all be put to death on the spot, including you, Nida."

It was as though a gust of icy wind had hit them right in the chest.

Everything the Commander said was not a laughing matter.

This brat wants to teach me how to do my job? To hell with him! Rivers of blood will have to run by my feet, before I let an idiot kill my men in the name of honor.

After a brief hesitation, two of the men loyal to Pausan stepped forward and escorted Nida to prison, who did not oppose any resistance. After all, the commander was in the Fourth Phase Late stage, while he was in the Second Phase Intermediate stage. What could he have done?

Vidio cleared his throat.

"Master, do you have anything to say on this matter?" asked Pausan.

"Me? No, no. No objections. The Commander is really good at giving orders. If I weren't so fascinated by other kinds of graces", he drew in the air the curvy shape of a woman, "I could maybe fall in love with so much virility and intelligence!"

A huge vein popped on the neck of the Commander. Vidio was a pain in the butt and everytime he opened his mouth he managed to annoy him immensely. However, the capability he had shown made it worth having him among his men on the battlefield.

Pausan suppressed a fit of rage and ran a hand over the map spread on the table, where Goblin shapes had been drawn all around the outpost. He focused on the action plan to not be overwhelmed by rage. For the thousandth time he noticed how, given the terrain, they could only launch a frontal attack.

Thanks to the Formation set in the outpost, the training of his men and the tricks he had in store, that looked like an easy victory. But in spite of everything, Pausan had a horrible foreboding.

The easiest battles are the ones that fuck you over.

He started planning additional measures to save as much energy as possible and maximize the efficiency of the Goblin slaughter.

"What do you say, Commander, a quick one before the battle…?"

Pausan almost vomited blood on the ground.

***

In front of the first degree Dungeon

Helial locked eyes with Lumia with a serious look. "We're going in. I don't want to wait until I'm strong to make plans, or we'll never make any progress. We will have to get our hands bloody. Once in it'll be a carnage. Do you have a problem with that?"
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