The sky started to brighten as rays of light penetrated the darkness of dawn.
At the perimeter of Lush Forest district’s vast forest, a barren piece of land stood out from the rest of the green surroundings.
A large white disc-like region had been embedded in the middle of the sea of grass, like a white
spot on a green carpet.
Looking into the disc, crowds of people could be seen bustling to and fro.
There were four paths for people to enter and exit the area; each point was connected to the outside by four slim, white coloured roads.
Near the exits and entrances, guards in grey robes stood watch and collected money from those who entered.
People who visited this place came dressed in various types of clothing. Some of them were slovenly dressed in dirty garments, while others came fitted in nothing but the finest robes. Some came with their faces painted in the most exquisite makeup, others just arrived in humble, simple attire.
At the entry point to the South, two young men who looked like brothers paid the fee and entered, followed by another young man in a grey robe.
The young man wore a hood over his head, save for the few strands of soft golden hair that were already exposed. He was fair skinned and had a boyishly pretty face. His slim body was slightly muscled, but well-proportioned.
He brought out a stack of silver rumbs and placed them in the guard’s big donation box to his left. Next, he took a number plate from the other man’s hand, and clasped it around his wrist.
This young man was Garen, who had arrived here by following the map the entire way.
Once he had entered the disc, his eyes began scanning the whole area.
Inside the white disc, there were about ten little white stone houses. Wooden signs with different names hung at the corners of each house.
There was a repair shop, an equipment shop, a totem shop, and a raw materials shop, among others.
The stone houses were the size of regular shops, with doorways above a constant stream of people going in and coming out.
Garen observed the people around him and noticed out of ten people, two here were emitting Luminescent breath from their bodies.
He furrowed his brows and kept his guard up, before walking towards one of the stone houses. A sign that read ‘totem shop’ was attached to the front, but it was a simple and crude sign, and obviously only temporary.
The interior layout of the shop consisted of crystal glass cabinets arranged in a large square, with a smaller square within it. The cabinets were filled with different types of totems.
All of the totems were silver, making it obvious that none of them had been activated yet.
Three beautiful young women dressed in short white dresses smiled sweetly as they tried to sell the totems to visitors of the shop.
There weren’t many people in the shop, only four or five others, and all of them appeared similar to Garen in one aspect: they were very young.
The instant Garen entered the shop, he noticed a young lady
lady in a short skirt walking towards him.
"Good day, sir. May I know what kind of totem you require?"
"I’m just here to look," Garen replied with the first excuse that came to mind.
"Alright. Please take your time. If you require any assistance, do not hesitate to call me," the young lady replied gently and smiled as she bowed, before she walking away to attend to another customer.
Garen took a walk around the counter.
All of the totems were small-sized support totems that consisted of rat, cat, canine, various types of birds, and serpent type totems.
He took a look at an eagle totem with a marked price tag that read 250,000 silver rumbs. His heart dropped instantly, as he knew that all of the money he had right now was not even equivalent to 10,000 silver rumbs.
Once he had calmed down, Garen exited the totem shop and ventured into the other stores in the vicinity. Both the repair shop and equipment shops charged exorbitant prices; the raw materials shop was the only one that had slightly cheaper prices.
Garen went inside and bought a book titled "Totems Made Easy" and also bought a few commonly used standard encryption passwords. After that, he was left with only 120 silver rumbs.
He returned to the totem store to ask a few questions about core totems. It was known that core totems could only be made to order, and were only sold in larger night markets. They had to regulate them based on their series or types. The price range of a core totem was also significantly higher, and the young lady in charge told him right away that bespoke totems required 200,000 silver rumbs to be paid upfront as deposit. Furthermore, they would need to know the requirements of the personalized totem, as more complicated requests would also result in a higher price.
Garen calculated everything in his head carefully. He needed to know how much it would cost to order a white bear core totem.
And if his calculations were right, he would need at least 10,000,000 silver rumbs!
It finally dawned on Garen how much Teacher Emin had invested in him.
Nearby Trejons Manor
In the burnt forest beside Black Swan lake.
Vanderman and two old men in white robes stood together. Their surroundings were in a state of utter disorder. In certain parts of the woods had tree trunks had frozen over, while others were up in flames.
"It’s them again! Nought a care for life or death!" One of the old men in white robes muttered angrily. "Did they think this was some backwards little country like White Rose?"
"I’m leaving this to the both of you," Vanderman said respectfully to the two old men. "The Obscuro Society is becoming more chaotic as the days go by, and now there have even been cases
been cases of second-form totem users appearing. Don’t tell me that the upper echelon really has no response to this?"
The two old men turned to look at Vanderman, and saw the agitated expression in his eyes.
"Believe in the organization. The imperial family would never sit back and watch the Obscuro Society sack and plunder as they please. The only thing we should do right now is wait."
"Understood," nodded Vanderman.
"Don’t worry. Second-formers may be slightly more troublesome, but it’s a problem we can handle." said one of the old men as he patted Vanderman’s shoulder.
Vanderman nodded again, but this time his eyes were downcast. He was not the type of person to leave his own safety in the hands of others.
Inside the guest room
Garen sat up in bed next to the oil lamp while turning through the pages of "Totems Made Easy".
It was a quiet night, with nothing but the sound of pages being flipped. It wasn’t long before he had reached the most important section of the book.
‘Types of totems: Animal series, Plant series, and the theoretical Elementary series.’
‘The animal series is the most common type of totem used and understood by Luminarists. It is also regarded as the most ubiquitous totem type. Various types of dangerous beasts can be evolved into powerful mythical creatures. Obviously, the level of difficulty increases when evolving to the next level.
The plant series belongs to a field which is on the cutting edge of research by high-level Luminarists. It also possesses great power, and can be used for self-healing purposes. It is the most sought after totem skill. According to previous accounts, this totem type has been seen a few times throughout history, but quickly disappeared from the scene thereafter.
The elementary series, a type of totem that was worshipped by the Phantom Light users, was regarded as the most highly prized totem type. However, this series is still difficult to understand. If we were to say plant totem types still had traces for us to follow, elementary totems would be a myth that we knew nothing about. Thus, the elementary series remains theoretical, as there has been no proof that anyone has been able to create it.’
"Three series, huh?" Garen wrinkled his brow, and continued to turn the pages.
‘The animal series is the weakest, but also the most widely used. The first stage of the plant series is similar to the second form of the animal series. However, the level of difficulty is ten times harder than the animal series, regardless of creation or lighting up, restrained or manipulated. Therefore, Luminarists still mainly use the animal series.’
‘The animal series is divided into three main groups: ground, air, and aquatic. The types that are currently most popular include wolf, leopard, and hawk. Various schools of thought, associations, and workshops have done extensive have done extensive research in those areas. These well-loved totem types were popularized on the market by the very first Heath school of thought that listed the top three most important composition theories, referred to as the Heath theory. This theory integrated various totem types, and finally concluded that the creation, manipulation and restoration of the wolf, leopard, and hawk totems were the simplest. The evolution of these totem types were also significantly easier than the rest. Therefore, this resulted in an increase in the sightings of these totems. Below is a list of well-known totems from different locations, as well as the places where they are produced, to provide further information to the reader.’
Garen’s gaze remained fixated on the page, before he noticed a little square diagram chart packed with information about various totem names and their categories.
He landed on the top part of the page where he had read about the Tashura school of thought, with its accompanying black wolf totem.
He let out a surprised gasp, and continued on to the next page.
‘Each country has its own national animal. Moreover, a large majority also have their own important imperial totems. For example: Bateman Empire, White Bat. Vandermantia, White Swan…’
Garen found the Kovitan Empire almost immediately.
‘Kovitan Empire, Red Wolf.’
Garen was about to continue reading the next page, when a sudden burst of red light flashed in his field of vision.
He was frozen in shock for a moment.
In the skill pane at the bottom of his field of vision, the three-dimensional image of a butterfly had appeared, proving that he had finally managed to complete this skill!
He took a deep breath, and subsided the surging emotions bubbling inside himself. A few minutes later, he finally opened his eyes and looked towards the skill pane.
‘Neon butterfly: First stage totem, upgrade available. Evolution success rate: 21%. Potential points to be consumed: 500%.
Ability: Poison dust attack (Releases poisonous butterfly dust, can be released up to three times a day. Effects: Paralysis, may cause death.)’
Garen noticed that the entire neon butterfly had become a new skill.
"Does this mean… I could just use my potential points to evolve my totems?"
He checked the amount of potential points he had left: 1272%.
"I guess these are my two most crucial problems right now. The first would be to determine the core totem, and the second would be to find new resources that can be used to gain potential points. A 21% success rate is way too low. My current amount of potential points is definitely still lacking…"
Garen thought back to the period of the emergence of the Three Heroes. They had overcome great catastrophes and powerful adversaries. Among those techniques the style that suited him the most was…
"Looks like I’d better hurry up and get to Iron Tank City…"