"Cough cough," Garen muffled his nose as he walked inside.
The first floor was completely empty as all the furniture had been moved out. In the hall on the first floor, there was a corridor on the left side which led to the backyard, kitchen, and other rooms. There was a wooden spiral staircase on the right side which led to the second floor. The red paint on the staircase had mostly faded, making it obvious that this place had aged.
Garen opened all the windows and doors, and noticed that the place was covered in dust.
He coughed as he walked out of the house, before coming across an advertisement on the wall for cleaning services.
Immediately, he left the house for a short while, and came back with four middle aged women holding cleaning supplies behind him.
The four women entered the house and began cleaning noisily, while Garen stood at the side with his arms folded across his chest, waiting patiently.
Once everything settled down and his pets had arrived, he would then be able to begin the totem empowerment process. After a few days, until the White Dragonhawk finally returned, and once he had obtained his core totem, he would finally be able to go to the War Guild to begin hunting. As for the grains that he was currently hoarding, it would only be a matter of time before he would profit greatly from that.
He mentally counted the days until the arrival of the Great War. Everything had been arranged accordingly, and he only had to make sure that he followed his plan step-by-step to ensure that it would go smoothly.
A young woman’s voice called out behind him.
Garen turned around and saw the woman who lived in the opposite house walking towards him, carrying a golden retriever.
"Hey there, I just moved in today, and I’ll be living here from now on," said Garen with a smile and an outstretched palm. "Garen. Garen Lombard."
"Alice. Alice Weller," said the girl as she reached her hand out and shook hands with Garen. "Are you renting or…"
"Renting. But I might be buying," said Garen, smiling. "How long have you been living here, Alice?"
"This is my grandfather’s house, and I like reading books and relaxing here. I’ve been living here for almost three years," Alice recalled. "The environment here is not bad, and it’s pretty far from the city area. No one else is living in the surrounding courtyards either, and it seems like both our courtyards are the only ones with tenants. Many years have passed while these houses remained empty. There are a total of twenty-three courtyards in the Yellow Wind district, and it was once filled with people, but currently it seems as if there are
only five households living here."
She shrugged her shoulders as a restless expression appeared on her face. "Did you know, that the distance between this place and the city is unnecessarily far? It’s extremely inconvenient when you need to go out to buy groceries or vegetables, and the only water supplied to us comes from a few deep wells nearby.
"But it’s quiet enough," Garen added, "This was the criteria I was looking at when I decided to move here. My job on its own is noisy enough, and I wouldn’t be able to handle it if my living space was noisy as well."
"True enough," agreed Alice as she nodded her head. This young girl, who looked no more than twenty years of age, definitely possessed certain intellectual abilities. She wore a white top and a matching pair of white trousers, making her seem like a simple but generous person. Her long blonde hair was tied in a ponytail, and her figure was not perfect, but not bad either. She didn’t have a gorgeous face and was better described as average. However, she had an unusually sharp mind and a mature sense of understanding.
She didn’t seem the slightest bit afraid of Garen’s lack of eyebrows, beard, or hair. When she noticed Garen’s doubtful gaze, she smiled and started to explain.
"My grandfather used to look just like you. A big fire burned off his eyebrows, beard, and even half of the hair on his head. Thus, the moment I laid my eyes on you, I knew that you were just like him. When I look closely, I can see that you’re actually quite handsome."
"Thank you for your compliments. I guess I should be thanking your grandfather as well, as he helped me avoid scaring you," said Garen with a laugh.
"Okay, I’ll head off first. There are still some things over there that I’ve yet to finish,"
Garen watched Alice turn around and walk back into her own courtyard before turning his gaze away. He continued to wait as the cleaners finished their work.
The four women went to take water from the deep well nearby and washed the courtyard. The trouble they went through to get the water ended up costing Garen an extra five silver rumbs.
The sun had started to set before the courtyard was finally cleaned.
Garen arranged the wooden mailbox outside the courtyard properly and noted down the address and house number written there, before visiting the district’s post office and registering his new residence.
He went out and hired a horse drawn carriage before piling various kinds of everyday items into his house. Next, he wrote letters to Andy, Jessica, and Goth respectively to inform them about his new address.
Dinner consisted of breadsticks dipped in strawberry jam.
Once everything had been arranged properly, it was already late at night.
Before long, the shop keepers from the pet stores arrived with his pets. The pet market was run by a single management, thus various sellers from the market helped move seven metal cages from the ox cart into Garen’s house, one at a time.
Standing in the garden, Garen held a glass lamp and watched the ox cart from the pet market leave, disappearing from his field of vision almost instantly.
He turned and walked towards the garden behind him.
Seven different pets were waiting to be empowered by him.
After checking his surroundings carefully, Garen realised that this place was just as Alice had described it. It was very quiet, and the closest house in the vicinity was at least a hundred meters away.
He stood in front of the seven differently sized cages. He stretched his arm outwards and picked up the first cage, before walking towards the back door.
He closed the door and hung the glass lamp from the right door handle.
Garen lifted the black cloth on the cage, and looked at the blue back lizard that was crawling around inside.
He placed the cage on the floor and carefully took out a red crystal ball from the inner parts of his cloth bag. The crystal ball was a palm-sized Derivator.
Gingerly, he placed the Derivator next to the metal cage.
The crystal ball began to glow, and a red light illuminated his face. A line of words began to float up from it.
‘Are you empowering the nearby creature?’
The blue back lizard became restless immediately, and started to pace around in its cage, as if it was trying to avoid the red light shining on its body, but to no avail.
The crystal ball slowly changed the colour of its light to a silver hue, as the silver light began to envelop the giant lizard. The lizard seemed as if it was paralysed when it stopped moving suddenly, and remained in its original position.
A ray of silver light shot out of the crystal ball and landed on the giant lizard’s head.
Exactly five seconds later, the silver light disappeared quickly, and the crystal ball became red once again.
"Empowerment completed. The creature’s appearance is being recorded. The main body is being linked and transferred… Please do not move," announced the crystal ball suddenly as it shot a ray of red light towards Garen.
Just as before, a warm, pleasant feeling could be felt on the areas that were illuminated by the red light.
A 3D icon of the new totem also appeared in the skill pane in the bottom of his field of vision.
‘Blue back lizard: First form living totem, can be upgraded. Evolution success rate: 66% (The smaller the size, the higher the success rate). Potential points consumption: 300%.
Abilities: Venom, drilling.’
"Three points, huh… This thing apparently consumes three points…" said Garen as he furrowed his brows.
He let the giant lizard out of its cage and repeated the earlier process. He brought all of the cages into his house and used the Derivator to empower every one of them.
Three blue back lizards, three grey feathered hawks, one short-tailed croc, as well as the howling wererabbit. A total of eight Silver Totems.
Garen stood on the walkway at the back of his house and lifted his arms, looking at the endless blue, grey, and black Totem Lights that covered his hands.
The three colours finally merged together into a blue-black colour.
He held the crystal ball Derivator and looked at the message that was displayed there.
‘Your Excellency Garen, your current Totem Light ranking is: Form 2 normal. Your Totem Light consists of eight different types of Silver Totems that have been overlaid with one another.
"I’ve achieved Form 2 Totem Light already?" Garen’s heart was overjoyed. Although he had yet to learn the ways of a Form 2 totem user, and did not have the multitude of special abilities of an average Form 2 totem user, but the fact that his defence level had reached Form 2 was reason enough for him to celebrate.
The pets that he selected, other than the howling wererabbit, were all creatures that excelled at defence. The blue back lizard had skin that was highly resistant to corrosion, and the grey-feathered hawk had feathers that would naturally take the blow when it was bitten or attacked. Meanwhile, the short-tailed croc had a full body of armor, and was unusually strong. All these aspects were factors that Garen had already thought about earlier.
He clenched and unclenched his fists, feeling the Totem Light cover his entire body. It felt like he had put on a thick layer of clothes that was still unexpectedly airy and not restrictive at all.
He looked at the skill pane at the bottom of his field of vision, observing the two different types of icons that had automatically appeared there.
The evolution success rate of the grey-feathered hawk was also about sixty percent, and its abilities were flight and eagle-vision.
The short-tail croc’s evolution success rate was slightly lower at only fifty-something percent, and its abilities were biting and camouflage.
On the newly bought sofa on the first floor, Garen sat there with a grey-feathered hawk on his head and one on each shoulder, while a short-tailed croc crawled near his feet. There were also three blue back lizards on the couch next to him,
next to him, constantly sticking their red tongues out.
He felt like a lion tamer in the circus.
Wordlessly, Garen let the Silver Totems leave his side, as he contemplated what to do with the new powers in his hands.
Silver Totems and regular totems were different, because they could not be kept inside storage tools. The ones that could be brought around were only limited to the three grey feathered hawks. The short-tailed croc required water and constant care, while the giant lizard’s hunting abilities were only sub-par, making them redundant when taken outside. Only the grey feathered hawk, a type of predatory bird, could be carried around easily, as well as participate in the hunt.
"Now I’ll just have to wait for the White Dragonhawk to become mine. In the meantime, I’ll just go collect some potential points for now."
A grey-feathered hawk was perched on Garen’s shoulders, while the other two stood on each arm. He walked straight out of his house, and past the fence that was now darkened by the night sky. In the dimness of the night, he walked towards the city.
Garen held a glass of foamy alcohol but did not drink it. He merely sat in his usual spot and furrowed his brows at the quest scrolls in his hands.
The receptionist, a plump woman took a large bite of the chicken thigh in her hand while placing some quest scrolls on Garen’s table with her other hand.
"You can choose any of the quests here, they’re all form one. Your quest completion rate is not bad, keep up the good work," she said before she turned around to face the other customers.
Garen scanned his eyes across the quest list before him. All of them were form one quests, and their hunting targets were all form one totem users, with the majority being from Phantom Light.
These totem users who believed in the survival of the fittest were merely scum who killed others without batting an eye. They were extremely harsh with themselves, and possessed adept fighting skills. They could not be compared to the Seraph Light totem users of the past.
Garen had asked to look at so many form one quests because he was looking to find the most suitable one. He took a quest list and noticed that it said: Kill Therese Angel. This totem user is psychologically twisted, and fled from the north to Iron Tank City. Although she is only form one, she already possesses four different totems, and is very difficult to provoke.
"This is the one."
Garen decided on his quest, and stood up before walking towards the counter in the hall.
This opponent would be able to test his current strength properly, to finally decide whether Silver Totems or original totems were stronger.