Book 2, Growing Up, Chapter 1 – Magical Beast, Shadowmouse
“Magical beast ‘Shadowmouse’? Grandpa Doehring, what special qualities does a Shadowmouse possess, and what rank does it have amongst magical beasts?” Linley and Doehring Cowart were mentally communicating, but at the same time, Linley was staring excitedly at him.
Doehring Cowart smiled. He pretended to hem and haw for a few seconds, then slowly said, “The magical beast ‘Shadowmouse’ cannot easily be hemmed into a particular rank. This is because it represents an entire race of mice. Amongst rat-type creatures, there’s two major types; the Stoneater Rat, and the Shadowmouse. But both the Stoneater Rat and the Shadowmouse are omnivores. They can eat anything, whether it is stones, bones, or even meat.”
Linley mentally nodded.
Just now, he had seen that black Shadowmouse nibbling on a rock.
“Magical beasts are divided into nine ranks. Magical beasts of the first rank are the weakest. And of course, above the ninth rank are magical beasts at the Saint-level!” Doehring Cowart smiled at Linley. “Linley, the weakest type of Stoneater Rat is the Grey Stoneater Rat. Stoneater Rats of the first to third ranks are all grey in color, with some minor shading differences. A Stoneater Rat, upon reaching the fourth rank, will see its fur turn pure silver. Upon reaching the seventh rank, its fur will turn gold! A gold-colored Stoneater Rat will at least be a magical beast of the seventh rank, and at most a magical beast of the eighth rank.”
“Linley, the Stoneater Rat race is an extremely terrifying race, primarily because they have huge numbers, and extremely sharp teeth, far sharper than the Shadowmouse race. When large numbers of Stoneater Rats appear, even an army of a hundred thousand people cannot hope to withstand them.” Doehring Cowart sighed as he spoke.
Doehring Cowart was recalling a catastrophe he had witnessed long ago.
The Stoneater Rat was not as fast as the Shadowmouse, but its body was as tough and durable as steel. The higher ranked a Stoneater Rat was, the tougher its body would become, and the sharper its teeth would become. Its body seemed small, but that was deceptive; in large numbers, they were absolutely terrifying.
“The weapons used by most armies cannot kill a Stoneater Rat, but a Stoneater Rat can easily kill and devour a soldier.” Doehring Cowart sighed again.
In Linley’s imagination, there appeared the image of a vast, endless flood of Stoneater Rats descending from the wilderness or mountains and attacking an army of men. Imagining that flood of Stoneater Rats devouring the entire army, Linley’s heart shivered.
“Amongst the two races of rat-type creatures, the Stoneater Rat has an extremely tough defense, sharp teeth, and huge numbers. But Shadowmice? There are quite a large number of Shadowmice as well, but their numbers are far less than Stoneater Rats.” Doehring Cowart seemed like an encyclopedia, all-wise and all-knowing.
“And Shadowmice? How powerful is a Shadowmouse?” Linley asked.
There was a Shadowmouse not too far from him. Naturally, Linley wanted to know more about how powerful they were.
“The weakest Stoneater Rat is a beast of the first rank. But the Shadowmouse is different! The weakest Shadowmouse is a magical beast of the third rank, with jet black fur. When its entire body turns blue in color, that is a sign that it has reached the fifth rank. And when all of its fur has turned violet, that means it has at least reached the seventh rank, and at most the eighth rank.” Doehring Cowart’s words were clear and precise.
Linley nodded inwardly.
Based on potential power, a Shadowmouse was not inferior at all to a Stoneater Rat.
“Grandpa Doehring, based on what you just said, a Shadowmouse of the third or fourth rank would have pure black fur. Only upon reaching the fifth rank would its fur turn blue. So are you saying that little guy there is a magical beast of the third or fourth rank?” Linley followed up with more questions.
“This black colored Shadowmouse is not ordinary.”
Doehring Cowart frowned as he spoke. “The Stoneater Rat is famed for its toughness and its sharp teeth, while the Shadowmouse is famed for its speed and its sharp teeth! Speed is thus a very good way to determine the strength of any particular Shadowmouse.”
“It moved really fast, tens of meters in the blink of an eye. But since it is a Shadowmouse, I guess that isn’t out of the ordinary.” Linley still remembered its earlier movements clearly.
Doehring Cowart nodded. “Shadowmice are indeed very fast, but for an infant Shadowmouse to already have reached the speed of an adult Shadowmouse is definitely out of the ordinary.” A hint of a smile was on Doehring Cowart’s face.
“Out of the ordinary?” Linley looked at Doehring Cowart.
Doehring Cowart continued, “Right. For an infant Shadowmouse to have reached the speed of an adult Shadowmouse of the fourth rank means that when it grows up, it has the possibility of becoming a violet-colored Shadowmouse of the seventh rank. I suspect…that it is the child of a Violet Shadowmouse.”
“The child of a Violet Shadowmouse?” Linley said questioningly. “But its fur is black.”
Doehring Cowart laughed. “Linley, Violet Shadowmice and Blue Shadowmice, when born, all start off with black fur. Only as their strength grows will the color of their fur slowly change! The color of their fur is proof of their power!”
Linley suddenly understood. “So that is how it is!”
“Grandpa Doehring, then based on your words, this Shadowmouse is really amazingly fast. The Shadowmouse in front of me is slightly faster than even Uncle Hillman, but you are telling me that it is comparable to a Shadowmouse of the fourth rank. For a magical beast of the fourth rank to be faster than a warrior of the sixth rank…” Linley couldn’t help but sigh in amazement.
Doehring Cowart laughed. “Linley, if they weren’t so fast, why would they be called Shadowmice?”
At the same rank of power, a Shadowmouse, when running, was far, far faster than a human warrior.
“A Shadowmouse is a rare prize as magical beasts go, especially the seventh-ranked Violet Shadowmouse. Many a magus would want a Violet Shadowmouse, but they are simply too fast. An adult Violet Shadowmouse is valuable, but extremely hard to catch and tame. It is much easier to catch and tame an infant Violet Shadowmouse, but it is extremely rare for one to be able to meet an infant Violet Shadowmouse by itself.” Doehring Cowart smiled as he looked at Linley.
Linley could imagine it as well.
A Violet Shadowmouse was a magical beast of the seventh rank at least, which meant that at the very least, they had a Velocidragon’s level of power.
“Linley, a Violet Shadowmouse is considered a king amongst rats, and can command a large swarm of Shadowmice. Although Shadowmice are not as numerous as Stoneater Rats, they are still quite numerous. An infant Violet Shadowmouse would therefore be protected by many adult Shadowmice.”
Doehring Cowart glanced sideways at that distant black Shadowmouse, still chewing some rocks.
“To be so powerful when still so young, eight or nine times out of ten, means that it is the infant of a Violet Shadowmouse. I really wonder how he managed to make his way to your clan’s manor, without a single adult Shadowmouse guard.” Doehring Cowart said with an air of amazement.
Linley also agreed with Doehring Cowart’s words.
“Linley.” Doehring Cowart suddenly looked at Linley with a strange look in his eyes. His voice carrying a hint of enticement he said, “Regardless of why the the infant Violet Shadowmouse is here…would you want to collect it as a companion? Shadowmice grow very rapidly, especially Violet Shadowmice. In ten years or so, it will finish its growth cycle. By that time, you would have a magical beast companion of at least the seventh, and possibly even the eighth rank.”
Hearing his words, Linley’s heart fluttered.
Taming a magical beast of the seventh or eighth rank is extremely difficult. But taming them when they are in the infant stage is far easier.
In addition, not all infant magical beasts are the same. Some grow up very quickly, while some grow up very slowly. Amongst the ‘dragon’ type magical beasts, some can take a thousand years to mature. Most humans simply don’t have the ability to wait so long. Shadowmice were one of the types of magical beasts that grow up fairly quickly.
But encountering an infant Violet Shadowmouse is simply too rare of an occasion.
After all, the more powerful a magical beast is, the more importance it attaches to protecting its young. Although it wasn’t too clear why this young Shadowmouse had appeared within his manor, it was an indisputable fact that it was indeed here, alone.
“Linley, possessing a Violet Shadowmouse is equivalent to possessing an entire Shadowmouse army!” Doehring Cowart smiled at Linley. “This is why the Violet Shadowmouse is a far more precious magical beast than many other beasts of the seventh or eighth rank.”
Doehring Cowart continued to try and entice Linley.
How could a seven or eight year old Linley resist?
“Grandpa Doehring, how would I tame this Violet Shadowmouse?” Linley looked excitedly at Doehring Cowart.
Doehring Cowart felt very happy. “If little Linley really can tame this Shadowmouse, in the future, I can be a bit more at ease.” Doehring Cowart knew very well that as a spirit, he had no mageforce of his own at all. A Saint-level Grand Magus without mageforce really didn’t have many attacking abilities.
There was no way for him to protect Linley.
But after the past half year, he had already begun to consider this pure, hard-working child as his own grandson. Naturally, he wanted to come up with ways to improve Linley’s strength.
“Linley, you must be calm.” Doehring Cowart said solemnly. “Even if this is just a Violet Shadowmouse infant, his speed is comparable to a mature Shadowmouse of the fourth rank. Even your Uncle Hillman won’t be able to catch him. You simply don’t have the ability to forcibly subdue him, and you also are not able to utilize a soul-binding magical formation.
Linley was startled.
His overheated mind suddenly calmed down. Laughing bitterly, he said, “Now I remember. To tame a magical beast, the first way is to forcibly subdue him, and the second way is to use a soul-binding magical formation, which can only be utilized by a magus of the seventh rank, at least.
Linley couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed.
Alas, he was too weak. Even though he had the good fortune to encounter a Violet Shadowmouse infant, he didn’t have the ability to tame it.