The sky was awash with shades of grey. Large clouds moved rapidly to form clusters, then dissipating into thin air.
The earth trembled. On the green, grassy plains, numerous black cysts surfaced, as if they were tumors of the earth. They were like the beating of a heart, like actual organs.
A few white-golden giant hawks soared across the sky, carrying silver armor-laden riders on their backs. The riders who wielded huge, long spears, were stained with dried blood all over their body.
A grey apex hawk spread its wings, flying below one of giant hawks.
There was a faint silver glow in the grey hawk’s vision, as it clearly surveyed everything that was happening below.
On the plains below, each one of the black cysts started to squirm. They had four mouths full of sharp teeth located at their sides. As their mouths continuously opened and shut, they spat out full-black, single-horned creatures.
The creatures were built like giant crouching lizards, each with a single black fang-like horn on their foreheads, accompanied with a pair of humongous black wings.
They spread their wings, emitting peculiar noises. Shaking off the mucous on their bodies, they leapt into the air, heading right at the white-golden hawks.
The grey hawk silently flew away, diving towards the ground below.
As it flew over a dark green forest, observing from above, it could see a huge number of wild beasts battling with the giant, lizard-like abominations. The roars of the wolves and bears could be heard as they were torn apart by the giant lizards.
Crossing the forest, the grey hawk let out a light cry, gently flew towards the grey carriageway located at the other side of the forest.
On the carriageway, a bunch of grey-robed riders were dashing forward on their horses. A bald male in the front lifted up his hand, allowing to grey hawk to swoop down from the sky, landing on his arm.
A series of weird noises could be heard in the distance, like the howling of beasts before their demise.
"It’s like a crow, but also like a bat. Disgusting indeed"
The grey-robed girl behind the baldy frowned as she spoke. "Garen, are we returning to the war guild immediately?"
The baldy shaked his head.
"There’s no time. We absolutely should not return now to avoid being recruited as guards to defend the city, which would limit our freedom. Let’s go to my place. The guards won’t be able to defend for long."
"How about the three brats behind us?" Angel turned her head to look at the girl on the white horse, and the luxurious carriage following closely behind. The curtains swayed open to reveal the faces of two young girls.
"Let them be. We do not have the responsibility to protect them." Garen muttered.
Their two black stallions galloped swiftly on the path, but the white horse and horse carriage did not fall behind, easily keeping up with them.
The lengthy cry sound a horn could be heard in the distance.
Garen’s expression changed slightly. He slowed down abruptly and looked far ahead.
"It’s the city’s horn! Let’s go this way!"
He tugged tightly at the reins and headed to the right. Angel followed closely, but the girl on the white horse continued to stare into the distance, in the direction of the sound of the horn. Worry and doubt was evident in her expression.
Garen continued riding, disregarding the two parties behind him. He bent his body to lie on the back of his horse, being extra vigilant towards his surroundings.
Suddenly, a glimpse of darkness flashed over his head. A black shadow passed him, landing instantly on the path ahead of him.
A three-metre long, unihorn lizard landed on the ground, flapping its bat-like wings. He roared at Garen, emitting air flow from its flared nostrils.
The startled horses raised their front hooves in fear, giving off sharp cries.
"What kind of abomination is this!!?" Angel tried her best to stable the horses. She made a futile attempt by applying pressure on the horse’s belly, while uttering comfort sounds.
Before the voices came to a stop, Garen sprung into action. He leapt from the horseback into the air, right at the giant lizard.
His right hand instantly transformed into a reddish, translucent texture. It looked like slow motion, but in fact he pressed his palm onto the lizard’s forehead in light-speed.
Garen somersaulted onto the back of his horse.
"Move!" He tugged on the reins, passed the lizard and continued forward.
Angel hesitated for a moment, but continued to keep up. The white horse and horse carriage initially had some doubts, but were too afraid to stay away from Garen and Angel. They passed the lizard and hurried forward.
The unihorn lizard lay still in the middle of the road, its whole body enveloped with hints of blue. Evidently, it had been paralyzed by poison.
Suburbs, At the edge of the City
At a deserted courtyard in the district, a few unihorn lizards swept across the sky. They headed towards the location with the most people, leaving dark shadows on the ground wherever they went.
A handful of riders scurried into the courtyard. The gently slowed down, comforting the frightened horses.
The riders quickly stopped at a premise in the middle of the courtyard.
The bald man who was leading got down from his horse.
"Give me a moment Angel, let me grab something. Then we can clean up the unihorn lizards in the vicinity."
"I’ll wait for you outside." Angel nodded, rewearing two black rings. These two rings represented two new black panthers, different from the ones that were destroyed by Garen. These two panthers were her back ups.
Garen took a glance at the girl in the white horse and the carriage who have just arrived.
The white-robed girl came down from her horse and approached the two girls from the carriage. They had a combination of hopelessness, doubt, fear and worry written on their faces. Only the elderly carriageman was standing by their side, comforting them.
"Angel, let them enter the city by themselves. I have no energy to protect them."
"Leave it to me. I will talk to them." Angel lightly nodded.
Garen dipped his head, turned his back and entered his yard.
He opened the door with a key. Everything seemed safe and
safe and sound, just like it was when he left. Three blue-back giant lizards lazily crouched on the counter, trying to pose as statues.
Garen shut the door and heaved a sigh of relief.
"I must strengthen myself as soon as possible."
He stood at the door, watching the three blue-back lizards leisurely crawling towards him.
"Let’s try. I’m going to give evolving these creatures a shot." He was distinct from other totem users. The rest of them relied on external stimuli to evolve their totems, while he could use his potential points, which is a unique ability, to evolve his totems.
He wasn’t aware of the difference between these two evolution methods. But his gut told him there would a substantial difference between evolving with potential points and the usual methods.
He examined the attribute pane just below his vision.
The short-tailed croc and blue-back lizards both needed 3 potential points to evolve. The only difference was that the blue-back lizards had a higher probability than the short-tailed croc.
He had 15 potential points left.
"As I need something that can be of use right away, I shall start with the short-tailed croc."
He looked at the skill pane, finding the short-tailed croc’s icon among a myriad of other totem icons.
"Short-tailed Croc; First Form: live totem, can be upgraded. Success Rate: 54% (The weaker the totem, the higher the probability of success). Potential Points Consumption: 300%.
Abilities: Bite, Guise."
"54%, still acceptable." Garen’s heart skipped a beat as a black-armored crocodile crawled out from his bedroom. At one glance, it might be mistaken as a long, black plank.
His gaze fixated on the short-tailed croc for around three seconds.
At that instant, the white-tailed croc’s icon turned blurry, turning into a ball of red light. Consequently, the accompanying explanation signs blurred out as well.
For the attribute pane, the potential points dropped from 1522%, all the way down to 1222%.
As the adjustment of the potential points took place, the short-tailed croc started having shivers all over his body.
His figure expanded rapidly, growing longer and bigger.
From two to three metres, it grew to exceeding five to exceeding five metres, almost filling up the whole hall on the first floor.
As the crocodile’s hide on it's back grew dark and darker, a line of black, sharp spikes started forming in the middle.
The giant crocodile opened it's jaw, emitting a horrible stench.
Within ten seconds, its size grew from two, three metres to exceeding five metres. Other than that, there weren't much changes to it's appearance.
All of a sudden, Garen noticed something peculiar. The giant crocodile opened it's big jaw, as if it wanted to show him something.
He peered into the crocodile’s mouth. It startled him when he saw a red, snake-like tongue. On the top of the tongue was a needle-like, meaty organ.
"What is this?"
Garen muttered to himself. He looked straight at the skill pane where the totem icons were located.
"Deep Swamp Croc; Evolved form of Short-tailed Croc, Second form live totem, can be upgraded. Success Rate: 24%. Potential Points Consumption: 500%"
Abilities: Explosive Strike, Iron Hide, Parasitism."
"Parasitism?" Garen examined the final ability. At his gaze, an explanation sign appeared behind it.
"Parasitism: The deep swamp crocs in the olden days contained a huge amount of various parasite larvae in their body. Once an enemy is bitten, the larvae can be injected into its body. In a short span of time, the enemy will experience excruciating torture, which will eventually lead to death. After dying, a swamp parasite will emerge from the corpse to fight for the crocs. Note: A deep swamp croc can only cultivate three parasites per day."
Garen was delighted. The parasite was like buying one for three. Just by looking at its size, a croc evolving to this stage, is an immensely strong presence. Without considering the totem light, the physique of the totem creatures was a huge factor in battles. The physique determines strength and speed, and even lethality.
Of course this is without considering the totems special abilities. A good example would be the most sought after black wolf. After evolving into it second form - the fire wolf, it could generate vigorous, scorching flames.