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88 A little testing

Ahead of the group, Helial wreaked destruction non-stop as he slaughtered Un-Dead relentlessly. Curse of the Demon danced its death dance to the rhythm set by Helial. Every blow destroyed more than one Zombie. The edge of the Longsword blade was enveloped in white flames. The flames glowed shiningly as the purest of marbles, in striking contrast with the deep black weapon.

At every motion, the flames took the shape of an half moon and blended with the energy slash, increasing every blow's power exponentially. Every collision gave birth to tiny explosions that gleamed through the spectral cave. The long shadow of the kids and the cat were reflected all along the walls.

Frankenstein and Lulu was gaping at Helial. They were totally astounded. None of them could hope to reach that level so quickly. In the beginning, they thought that there was no enormous gap between them and their three friends. After witnessing Helial's capabilities though, their hearts turned heavy. Once again, Lulu could not help but feel useless.

Lumia and Snowflake were fighting by each other's side. From time to time, they would cast a glance to Helial. Lumia was reshaping the ground under the Un-Dead. Every time they would lose balance, Snowflake would seize the chance to tear them apart by hitting them right where their armor left them uncovered. However, the cat wasn't so sure he could possibly kill monsters off with a single frontal blow like Helial was doing. Even though he was the swiftest among them, he knew perfectly well that his Damage could never compare that of Helial, who was unlike any other practitioner in the First Phase. Very few people could compare his strength even in the Second Phase.

"How much do you think he's holding back?" Lumia asked Snowflake.

Snowflake glanced at her, then turned and twisted his face in a proud grimace: "Holding back? More like that shitty boy is tryharding. He must be using 101% of his strength to kill those shitty zombies off, unlike this Supreme Cat, who's using only 0.5%."

As he said these words, Snowflake turned away to conceal his doubtful expression. How many trump cards does he have? How powerful are they? Unlike the little girl and those useless pieces of shit, that asshole didn't train with us. The girl has some terrifying Skills. I even thought she might outdo her brother at this point, but apparently I was wrong. These are only First Phase monsters. For how rusty their armors might be, they're nevertheless quite resistant. And resistance is knowingly Un-Dead's strong suit. And yet, that piece of shit is cutting them open as easily as one would slice up tofu.

The huge white cat felt an ever more intense pressure. Despite their bond, the instinct of he who wants to stand on top of the food chain dictated a natural spirit of competition that flared him up anytime he could prove the strongest.

Suddenly, Snowflake's attacks grew fiercer. Before, Zombies didn't always die after one punch. But now, a single paw blow was enough to dismember them. Around Snowflake, air seemed to vibrate slightly as if now and then the world stood still for several seconds.

"So, what should we do to avoid gaining Exp too quickly?" Helial asked inside his Soul.

The kid was intent on staring at some cotton-pink napkins with mice drawn on them. He tousled his dark bangs and said, thoughtfully: "Well, maybe a woman might like this stuff…?"

"So? What should we do?" Helial's voice boomed out once again inside his Soul. Just as if he had been caught raiding the cookie jar, the Devil turned the napkins to ashes as he coughed loudly. He answered: "Well, right, yeah, it's a very complicated thing to do."

Helial furrowed his eyebrows. If the Devil defined it as complicated, it really must be something terrifying.

"How much complicated?"

"Too much complicated," the Devil said thoughtfully. "You should first find a particular object, an amulet, that basically… well, you have to soak it into an elixir, and then let them boil. Once the amulet has turned to liquid, you should drink the whole potion. And the-"

"Where can we find those amulets? And the elixir?" asked Helial as he kept fighting the monsters. He had glanced away from his Soul for a second, and he missed the Devil sneer.

"Well, you can find the both of them in a Dungeon situated on another planet, protected by a Boss in the Sixth Phase."

Little beads of sweat appeared on Helial's forehead.

The Devil fell on the floor laughing. "There's a command, Shithead. You only need to say 'Block Exp' out loud," said the kid as he laughed even wilder after seeing Helial's pale face.

"What?" Helial was still baffled. He wasn't sure he had understood correctly.

"That's right, Shithead. You can simply stop gaining Experience by voice-command," the Devil yawned, an half-sneer still painted on his face.

A large blue vein started bulging on Helial's forehead. He tried to keep his cool. But unfortunately, it had just been shattered.

Helial delivered an attack towards the last monster in front of him, killing it off. The area was cleared. Helial stretched a hand outwards.

"Block Experience."

Do you want to block the chance to gain experience?

Effects: you won't be able to level up

Yes I No

Helial made sure the method suggested by the Devil did actually worked and then ordered that the others did the same too. If they said no, their Experience would likely increase limitlessly and they would have no way to upgrade their Skills before reaching the Second Phase. Helial was no fool. He knew perfectly well that their foundations were the most important thing to focus on. Despite them being nominally at the same level, not every member of the group could possibly face an opponent in the Second Phase.

Since almost all of them picked a Class, their fighting potential would increase exponentially.

"While we go back, take some time to check out your Class-related special Skills. Don't forget training them. Even if they're not so powerful," Helial said. "Bear in mind that every single effort will sharpen your senses and refine your future perception about your Class. If you work on one Skill only, you'll have a great ace up your sleeve while you're in the lowest levels. Once you level up though, the more you develop yourselves, the more your path will lack balance."

Helial gave an exhausted sigh. He still hadn't picked a Class. He couldn't be satisfied with a simple Secret Class… A sinister light flashed in his eyes. Helial wished for a Unique Class! But how could he get one? He had no idea. Asking the Devil for help wouldn't appear to be a wise choice, since the kid could not escort him down a specific path that lay outside the field of logics and preconception, and diverged greatly from both Life and Destruction. Helial could only work by himself to create that totally new path.

As Helial thought about this, new monsters flocked about him and the war began again. The guy went back to fighting. The white flames kept swallowing one Un-Dead by one.

Helial had got so familiar with killing those monsters that he even got distracted. He was pondering about Flame of the Qilin's tongues of fire as well as about the peculiar feeling he had when they touched his skin without burning it the least. Flame the Qilin couldn't burn him indeed. He didn't know why. Probably, since that flame was part of his body, it wouldn't rebel against their owner.

Under the baffled gazes of his friends, Helial suddenly left the field. Two Un-Dead stayed there foolishly, fighting against nothing. With a movement of his claw, Snowflake tore them apart before they could reach Helial. Thy boy must have had a reason to act like that. Also, the monsters weren't too many and they could easily kill them off without his help.

"WHERE YOU GOING, YOU SHITHEAD?" the cat roared angrily.

Helial didn't answer and kept walking. He reached a spot quite far from them. There, he was sheltered by any kind of attack. He focused. He began to probe the flame with his Mana, testing it, distorting and reshaping it.

After a few moments, a strange warmth spread over the palm the white flames were enveloping. Apparently, he managed to sense the heat emitted by Flame of the Qilin.

Then, he began to inspect it more closely. The flame did emit a significant heat, and yet Helial only felt a gentle warm. The boy tried to heat up the flame by sheer will.

His first attempts failed miserably.

Meanwhile, the others wiped out all the monsters and began to approach Helial, worried. They had seen several flames engulf him. Judging by the terrible heat they emitted, they concluded that something awry was happening.

Helial took noticed and stopped them in time. "Stay there, guys. Just doing a little testing." But they paid little attention to his reassurances. Helial saw his friends' eyes flicker with fear and slightly withdrew the flames, trying to control them more carefully.

He focused on the Mana flowing inside his Meridians, using it to shape the flames the way he liked. When he saw it wasn't working though, he changed approach. No point in going on if it doesn't work.

Control over Flames of the Qilin didn't depend on Mana, but on mental energy. The bigger the flame, the faster those energies would deplete. Right, the Skill didn't consume Mana, but nevertheless it was rather impossible to keep it activated indefinitely.

Helial focused all his mental energies on the flame. He tried to excite the fire instead of spreading or reducing it. The tongue of fire crackled and let out a few sparks.

It seemed to have reacted.

Somehow, the flame appeared to be twisting the air all around it!

Helial was terribly excited.

It worked!
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