After dinner, the teacher and student duo left their little block and went out of the town, into a dark and deserted forest.
There wasn’t any sign of human habitation in these isolated woods. All they could hear were the strange noises of animals rustling past grass.
Emin wore all pitch black, holding a short staff in his hand. He tapped the ground once, lightly.
A silver ripple instantly spread from the tip of his staff, quickly rushing past underneath Garen’s feet as it spread far and wide in all direction. It soon vanished into the distant forest.
It was only when the ripple scattered that Emin raised up the staff in his hand and gave it a twirl. Silver engravings rose to the surface of the staff, looking especially evident in the dark night.
"We can start testing now," Emin said softly. "I cast an isolation tactic around us. Normal people can’t see us. Your neon butterfly is just a support totem, and you can change it any time you want later. But it’s still your first totem, so it has dome special meaning. It can demonstrate some totem-specific qualities for you. Are you ready?"
Garen was standing right opposite him, dressed all in grey, and nodded solemnly. He was holding a large bottle, and coiled up inside was his very first totem, the neon butterfly.
"I can feel it, the totem is like I got a new organ, an arm. It’s very lifelike and convenient. I can choose to control it, or give it a simple order for it to complete on its own. What a miraculous feeling," he said soft, as he opened the cap to the bottle.
With a flash of blow, the neon butterfly immediately darted out of the bottle, and slowly landed on Garen’s shoulder. It was like a huge blue shawl, glowing with a pale blue fluorescent light in the night.
Emin’s palm paused, and a large white bobcat walked out slowly from behind him.
It was a meter and a half long, like a slightly smaller leopard. It walked soundlessly, its shoulders rising on both sides as it walked, and it licked its tongue greedily at times. In the night, its eyes glowed with an eerie green light.
Emin reached out his hand to pat the bobcat’s head.
"This is my support totem, Bobcat." He smiled, "As long as you can support them, you can create as many support totems as you want. After all, it’s your own talent keeping them afloat. Most Luminarists can only support one or two. The stronger ones can do four or five. Because support totems have simple structures, it’s easy to make them, so they’re usually treated as disposable items."
He glanced at the blue butterfly on Garen’s shoulder.
"If it’s like yours, you should be able to do more."
Garen nodded, and said bluntly,
"I can sense that my spirit can support a few more, probably about two."
"In other words, you can have two more support totems. If you add that to your core totem, that would be four totems. That is the extent of your talent." Emin nodded. "Alright, begin then. Let’s see, how does your neon butterfly fare in real battle?"
The two of them stopped talking, and retreated a few steps back at the same time, leaving the stage to the two totems.
The white bobcat arched its back, and made a noise between that of a cat and a leopard. Its emerald eyes were fixed intently on the neon butterfly flying in front of it.
The white bobcat began to slowly walk circles around the neon butterfly.
The neon butterfly flapped its wings, rising higher and higher, as though trying to avoid direct conflict with the bobcat.
Suddenly, the neon butterfly pulled itself upwards. With a single meow, a white figure pounced into the sky, directly at where the butterfly was, and missed.
The neon butterfly immediately flew up in a curve, swaying uncertainly from left to right.
It dodged another pounce from the white shadow, and landed grac
efully on a tree branch.
Having missed twice, the white bobcat seemed to get instinctively frustrated. It paced, making circles around the tree where the neon butterfly had stopped, and occasionally made deep howling sounds.
Suddenly its gaze turned sharp, and it dug its limbs onto the tree trunk, borrowing the momentum to leap up the tree.
The green tree trunk was ripped to shreds. Four white scars appeared on the whole and smooth tree trunk underneath its claws. The bobcat pounced at the neon butterfly with lightning speed.
The tree branch broke, and the butterfly took flight again. It flew higher up, but a white shadow quickly followed it, pressing it down with its claw as it landed nimbly on the ground.
But the bobcat had barely taken a few steps with the butterfly in its mouth when it started swaying, and eventually fell sideways onto the ground with a thud.
"It’s over." Emin clapped his hands as he walked over. "It counts as a draw. The bobcat just needed to bite down to break the neon butterfly. But at the same time, it was struck by the poison powder during those few failed pounces. Its internal systems were damaged, so it can’t move anymore.
"So you’re saying I chose well?" Garen also walked over as he asked.
"To be more precise, you controlled it well. A real neon butterfly wouldn’t be able to avoid a bobcat’s pounces so easily. I would have won with the first pounce." Emin shook his head with a smile. "But the neon butterfly’s main ability is its poison powder, that’s used to protect itself. It can fly rather fast, and it can fly in the rain as well. When faced with complicated geography, it can also be a good scout. Only problem is it can’t hide very well."
"That’s true." Garen nodded in agreement. "It glows blue in the night, it indeed can’t really camouflage."
"This is just your first totem, you can choose to change it later. There’s no rush." Emin waved his hand, "Regarding totems, there’s still one more crucial item."
He raised his staff, and dipped it lightly in front of Garen.
With a smacking sound the tip of the staff was pressing on Garen’s calf.
"Eh?" On the other hand, Garen looked curious. "This is…"
He noticed that the tip of the staff hadn’t actually touched the skin on his calf, as though it was being repelled by something.
He looked closely at where the tip of the staff was. There was a thin, transparent, pale blue membrane between the staff and his trousers.
"That is Totem Light." Emin pulled back his staff. "After a totem forms, this is the protective force field it reflects on its master. It covers the master’s whole body, and has no weak spot."
"So this is Totem Light?" Garen reached out his hand, looking at that extremely thin pale blue membrane expand as he stretched his hand. It was like a malleable layer of water, and extremely fascinating. "How is its protective power?"
"It’s usually twice as strong as that of the totem itself, or more." Emin smiled. "Do you know where it came from?"
Garen shook his head, waiting for his teacher to reply with careful concentration.
"A Luminarist has many totems, and each totem would bestow a protective force field on its master. The forces stack up, and are definitely stronger than the power of an individual totem. Besides, the defensive power of Totem Light usually stronger than the totem itself." Emin paused, "This is why, battles between Luminarists are usually fought by the totems, and you usually don’t attack the master first."
"True, in that case, Luminarists would actually have a lot more defensive power than the totems themselves. It’s most important to deal with the totems first."
"That’s exactly it." Emin waved his hand, and the white bobcat on the floor instantly became a flash of white light that retreated behind him.
The neon butterfly also took to the air again, landing inside the large bottle in Garen’s hand. He stuffed it in mercilessly and stoppered the bottle.
Emin watched him keep it, and then raised his head to look at the night sky.
"It’s still early. Let’s walk back, and chat as we go."
"Yes, teacher." Garen nodded.
The two of them walked slowly down the path they had came, heading back towards the small town.
Emin held his staff, watching Garen as the latter walked ahead of his teacher carefully, testing the road for puddles and potholes to prevent Emin from stepping in one. The teacher smiled, comforted.
"Garen, the power of the totem itself will not harm its master. You must remember that. Aside from that, almost the large majority of Luminarists have support totems that aren’t that different from real living creatures. There is no increase in their power, they’re just like the creatures you see outside."
"Bobcats are bobcats, and neon butterflies are neon butterflies? They’re just like the original creature, so support totems are rarely strengthened, is that it?" Garen said in understanding.
"That’s it. But core totems are different." Emin sighed. "Take my core totem, White Bear, for example. Other than the superior strength that white bears are supposed to have, it also has thicker fur than regular white bears, so it can prevent damage from stronger lethal weapons."
Teacher, your White Bear didn’t come from a regular bear, did it?" Garen asked softly.
"Naturally." Emin nodded. "My line focuses on three animals, the Great White Bear, Black Panther, and Sabertooth Tiger. The Great White Bear is indeed no ordinary bear, it is a large white bear from northern tundra, and is the apex predator there."
Garen nodded in understanding.
Emin continued, "This extremely durable fur and skin was the result of many generations of strengthening. It’s a lot sturdier in defense than usual great white bears. When faced with regular bears, there won’t be any unforeseen accidents, the other side will lose utterly. That’s why if you want to choose a core totem in the future, you had also better choose a core totem that has some accumulation. Stand on the shoulders of giants, and you will go further, without having to start from scratch."
He sighed, "You must understand that, in the world of Luminarists, you can barely even protect yourself without real power."
Garen nodded silently. He suddenly remembered the large number of Luminarists who would die in the future war.
There would be the two consecutive crises. The first would be the war between the Royal Alliance of Luminarists and the Obscuro Society, in which Luminarists die by the hundreds.
The second would be the war between the Obscuro Society and the Terraflor Society, in which Luminarists die by the thousands.
At the end, the remaining Luminarists would not number up to a third of a thousand. A vast amount of knowledge will disappear because it was never recorded down. The age of the Luminarists, aside from partial knowledge from the very peak, will be reduced to a few schools of knowledge.
And Emin, would also die in the crossfires of the first war.
"Alright, let’s forget that for now. When we get back, you can start learning the three major basic tactics from me." Emin smiled. "These three basic tactics are actually very easy. The difificulty lies in here." He pointed at his head.
"In the accumulation of knowledge."
"That’s right. Luminarists without enough knowledge wouldn’t be able to analyze even the smallest, weakest insect. And Luminarists with enough knowledge, will be able to analyze practically anything." Emin smiled as he replied, "I’ll hand the three major basic tactics over to you. And then you can enter my underground book cellar and study for yourself. In the meantime, if you’re willing, I can also give you the knowledge that I have in hand, that of the Great White Bear, for you to learn."
Emin looked at Garen. At first he just wanted to bring this kid into his school. But after seeing Garen’s Master-level precision blueprints, the scales in his heart instantly fell heavily down on Garen’s side.