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53 Herb of the Nine Deaths and Root of the Sacred Phoenix

Helial slowly got off the bed. He was surprised by that quick yet complete recovery. Renewed vigor was flowing powerfully through his body. Plus, it looked like he had levelled up. He clenched his fists fiercely and felt Mana seething through his brand-new Meridians.

He opened his Stats window:

Name Helial

Race Human

Title Wolf Hunter

Primary Class None

Primary Affinity None

Primary Profession None

Level 41

Exp 4.566/80.000

HP 3100/3100

MP 30.090/30.090

Strength 150

Vigor 163

Intelligence 199

Wisdom 180

Dexterity 120

Effects:

Physical Resilience 5%

Vitality Regeneration 1800%

Health Regeneration 1800%

Physical Resilience 3000%

Resistance to Magic 3000%

Stat Points to be sorted out: 138

He nodded in satisfaction. His fight against Caesar had let him level up. Actually, killing a monster or a person wasn't the only way to level up, and sometimes not even the quickest. The direct temperament that the body underwent in a great combat made it get stronger in leaps and bounds, but it was a very risky way. The overcoming of one's limits required an opponent that was only slightly stronger. Otherwise, unless one had some hidden tactics like Helial did against the Shadow cast by Kirin, a too strong opponent would have been impossible to defeat. However, the great physical strain he had experienced made his Stats increase.

Helial approached Caesar, his hands cupped: "This disciple pays his respects to his master."

Caesar nodded and threw a ring to him. Helial caught it and looked at it carefully. It was an Interspace Ring. Judging by its fine workmanship, it surely was a very high grade.

You obtained Call of the Mermaid!

"The Creation of Mana requires Elixirs. Some of them are particularly effective to those who haven't yet reached the First Phase. There are also Elixirs to Temper one's physical strength, but I don't think they could prove useful to you, since your body already seems to be indestructible among those at your same level. You'll find some money and a few items as well," Caesar explained. "Let's call it a gift from your master. I gave a similar ring to your sister too. Yours is called Call of the Mermaid."

Those Elixirs are useless. We'll grab some herbs and I'll help you use them to refine the Elixirs. You need to come in contact with herbs characterized both by Life and Destruction properties. First we'll have to catch the Herb of the Nine Deaths and the Root of the Sacred Phoenix. Their grade is not so high actually, but they'll help make your body the right receptacle for both forces.

Helial examined the Interspace Ring even more cautiously, while secretly nodding to the Devil's words. On its surface was carved a charming indigo mermaid, who was moving through the ring seemingly alive. He wore the Interspace Ring.

"Call of the Mermaid" has been added to your Equipment!

Effects: Space Left +50yd2

Lumia showed him a ring at her finger and smiled: "I've got one too! Something to wear before our wedding ring, brother!"

But you and your sister…

"Oh shit…" Snowflake cursed, "can't stand no more."

"Uhm." Caesar shrugged. It's none of my business, he pondered. As long as I can train a warrior who will protect Orma, he can do whatever he wants with his sister. I'm afraid the Caryatids won't agree, though…

"C'mon, Lumia. How many times have I told you not to make these jokes in front of others?"

Lumia suddenly jumped up from his bed, walked towards Helial and…

Slap!

She gave him a blow that left him baffled.

Tears welled up in Lumia's emerald eyes. She shouted at him: "This is no joke!"

She started trapping her brother in a flurry of fists on his chest, which turned out to be as effective as punch a huge metal foil thanks to Body of the Qilin.

"C'mon, stop this. You're gonna get hurt. C'mon, come here," Helial stopped Lumia and hugged her. She showed an evil, smug grin on her face. She had clearly achieved her goal.

"Now listen, boy. Before you step outside this room," Caesar explained, ignoring that weird hug, "there's something about Orma's balance of powers I need to inform you about. Our political stability has been hanging on the thinnest of threads, lately. I don't want you to cause any diplomatic incident. You're the King's disciple and everyone will respect you, but don't expect any warm welcome from my people. In the recent decades, the Sect of the Worthy has opposed every possible diplomatic affair between Goblins and humans, and therefore humans have a rough time here. The Sect of the Worthy considers the human race a lesser one, and they are trying to sway the younger generations their way by glorifying the Goblins' prominence."

Caesar gazed into the distance, ice flashing in his eyes. Your stupid power play caused so many Goblins to die…

Despite being Goblins' capital city, Orma was home to various races. It hosted Trolls and Un-Dead as well, even though their actual homelands were at war with the Goblin population. It hosted humans too, who were subject to serious discrimination by the Goblins. If a man were killed in public, before everyone's gazes, the issue would be of no one's concern.

"Three are the pillars of Orma. The first one is my Clan of the Heavenly Eagle, that holds the most power in all fields. The second is the Sect of the Worthy, led by the second Immortal in Orma. The last, and somehow the least, is the Guild of Life and Death. Their forces has always taken the side of the Clan of the Heavenly Eagle, while the Sect of the Worthy has been trying to take control over Orma since time immemorial. Hence, you'd better not to arouse the Sect of the Worthy's indignation, or otherwise they would cause you trouble. You are the one and only disciple of the King. I only have two children, so there aren't a lot of people I need to take care of. One of them is at the Tenth Phase. He's traveling in search of an Epiphany on his Dao of Mana."

Helial nodded and furrowed his eyebrows. He was catapulted in a high position. In rational terms, he now had to act very, very cautiously.

"I'll need to know much more in order to blend in," a baffled Helial concluded.

"That's obvious. You're the disciple of the King now, not some random pleb. My wife, your Queen, will take you down the streets of Orma to let you know the landmarks of our city. A servant will show you the wings of our Royal Academy. You'll have access to the library and the training grounds. Just keep in mind that your sister will need to take the entrance test before training at the Royal Academy."

Helial's glare became icy. "If anything happens to Lumia while she's not with me…"

Caesar's Aura oppressed him immediately. "You already have my word. The girl will be educated and protected by me. As long as you don't fail me, at least. Also, I'd like to test your actual strength now, if you let me."

Caesar raised one of his palms in front of him and said: "Deal a blow with all your strength. Your capabilities already got you here, but I need to test if you ended up crippled somehow. I want to make extra-sure you won't make me lose face in front of the Senate, the Sect of the Worthy and that old fart of the Guild of Life and Death. He would mock me 'till the end of time. That insolent bastard, just because his daughter is talented…"

Caesar went on babbling, while Helial started taking a fighting stance

Could use Curse of the Demon? the Devil asked.

No, it's better to directly show my physical strength. If I'm here, it's thanks to my talent. There's no point in concealing it. I'll just show him my actual potential, or we risk losing a roof over our head overnight.

The Devil nodded as he kept placing a knife now on the right and now on the left of a plate, in a seemingly endless loop. Helial, who could see what was happening inside his Soul with a single thought, sighed in puzzlement to the behavior of that weird Devil.

Skill Activated:

Flame of the Qilin

"Don't hold back," said Caesar with a solemn expression on his face.

Helial engulfed his fist in white flames, which rippled through the air as though in an attempt to tear it apart. He sensed all the changes undergone by the Skill, that now looked far stronger than it was after his first meditation on Life and Destruction.

Fury flashed instantly in Helial's gaze.

He dealt a blow with all the strength he had. His punch hit Caesar's palm directly, yet without causing any shockwave.

Caesar raised an eyebrow. That kid was as physically capable as someone in the Second Phase Early stage. What was his body made of, steel?

"Did you sort out all you Stat Points in Strength?" Caesar asked.

"I didn't," Helial answered while stepping back. It took him all his strength to strike that blow, but Caesar did not move an inch. The gap between Helial and Immortality was the same as the distance between heaven and earth.

"Kid, I'm your master now. I'd like you to explain to me how you made your body grow this strong."

Helial slightly narrowed his eyes, before relaxing his eyelids and telling him about the Qilin's legacy.

Caesar nodded, thoughtful. "Fine. What about your Mana Control?"

Helial stared the King in the eyes and calmly answered: "That's my strong suit."

Caesar couldn't raise his eyebrows more than he was already doing. He pondered how Mana Control could possibly be the strong suit of a guy who already possessed the build of a Qilin. Did he own a greater control that a Dragon's?

"How could that be?" Caesar asked, baffled.

"I've been through… a lot," Helial cut short, "you saw what I'm capable of."

Caesar nodded. It was indeed true - Helial wasn't arrogant, he was just self-aware.

"Well, kid, if you don't let power drive you insane, then you're on the right track to become an Immortal," Caesar smiled.

Helial joined fist and palm, and said: "I thank you, master. Can I ask for your help before you go back to your work? There's two herbs I need."

Caesar nodded and said: "Please."

"I need the Herb of the Nine Deaths and the Root of the Sacred Phoenix," Helial explained.

Caesar was increasingly baffled by that kid. "But only people in the Third Phase can use those herbs. They fuel the Divine Sense, and their effects are already quite violent. If you swallow one of them before reaching the Third Phase, your Meridians will probably get hurt."

"I think my body could stand their effects," Helial explained. "The physical strength of a Qilin is way more resistant than the one of any other creature. And as I told you, I own a Qilin's complete legacy."

Caesar pondered for a while and said: "Alright. How much do you need?"

100 pounds each.

Helial swallowed and said: "Uhm, coff coff, let's say, like, 100 pounds each."

Caesar stared blankly. Not only was it hard to catch that amount of two unusual herbs like the Herb of the Nine Deaths and the Root of the Sacred Phoenix in their storage, it was also very rare to find someone who intended to use them in his cultivation. They were highly dangerous, and yet Helial had just asked him for 100 pounds each. What did he intend to do with it, exactly?

"You'll have them by tomorrow night," said the King as he waved a hand. He could not afford to look like a stingy scrooge before his disciple.

Caesar was generous, and he cared a lot about his face. He often spent large amounts of resources to provide his Clan with all they needed for their training. The gratitude he received in return was a double-edged sword though, since many people flattered him wheedlingly just to secure more gifts to come.

"Okay. I'd say I have told you everything. My wife will take you around Orma. Don't cause any trouble. Now, go to the yard of the Royal Academy. It's where our First Phase disciples train."

Caesar exchanged a few words with Helial. He scheduled a meeting with Lumia later that afternoon and then disappeared in midair, just like he had come.
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