Garen nodded, satisfied. Now that this Large Black Panther on the brink of evolution was connected to the War Chain, Angel would be reluctant to give up the Large Black Panther she had raised for so long even if she wanted to leave on her own. This way, their relationship was even more secure.
Garen briefly told Angel about what he knew about raising totems. When it came to skills on raising leopard-type totems, however, he didn’t have much to say. This required more detailed raising knowledge. Based on Aska, they were sure the War Guild in War Tank City had this sort of information.
The two of them sat in a corner, and soon enough, that one-armed waitress girl walked up to Garen’s table, clearing the table for them.
"Mr Garen, Mr Caddy asks if you’re willing to take Mr Jason’s position," she suddenly asked Garen softly. "If you are, you can go talk to Miss Mina at the counter."
There it was!
This was what Garen was waiting for. At a time like this, the Guild would never let go of any firepower that they might recruit. This Mr Caddy was actually part of the president’s faction.
Thomas’ invitation from before was very likely to have come from another faction, but Garen had rejected him.
He exchanged a glance with Angel, and stood up. Walking towards the counter, he figured his relationship with Jason was still pretty decent, so joining them wasn’t a bad path to take.
After the stout man buying medicines in front left, Garen walked to the counter, and rapped the tabletop.
"Come with me." The girl inside, Mina, glanced at him and smiled, then pulled open a small door from the left to allow Garen in.
Another young man took her place at the counter.
The two of them entered from a small door on the left, one after the other. Beyond the door there was a sizable tea room, with yellow wooden floors and walls, as well as similarly-hued tables, chairs, and lighting.
A middle-aged man with a goatie was writing something on his desk. Upon hearing footsteps, he lifted his head to lok over.
"You’ve come." He stood up and welcomed Garen, reaching out his hand to shake Garen’s.
"Hi, I’m Caddy. Right now I’m part of the Fourth Division, under the respected branch president. It’s both our fortunes that you would choose our side."
This person was all smiles, and looked very friendly.
"You’re too kind."
Garen shook hands with him, and the two of them sat at the table facing each other.
"Then, let’s discuss the benefits of joining us." Caddy pulled a sheet of paper out of the stack of documents on the table, and flicked it to make a crisp sound. "The conditions we can give you are very simple. Firstly: A sufficiently safe base, to protect all our assets from infiltration. Secondly: You can buy low grade Legacy knowledge. Of course, if you need a Form 2, that would require higher authority and enough money. Thirdly: We’ll give you prior access to better medicines, and higher quality equipment as well as facilities. Everyone can claim basic insurance rations every week: one set of medicine for external injuries, one set of medicine for stemming internal bleeding, one single-use defense tactic. One set of standardized nutrients. These are all free."
"Not bad at all. Tell me about my responsibilities." Garen knew that three sides had more or less the same conditions right now, at the most it would a difference in which resource they had more of, and would then emphasize.
"You only have two responsibilities." Caddy was very satisfied with Garen’s decisiveness. "Lord Engra has two divisions under his influence right now. I’m directly under the Discipline Division, and the other is the Self-defense Division. No matter which one you join, your responsibilities are, One: obey any urgent summons, and obey all rational orders. Two: complete your tasks and duties as your position requires."
Garen mused for a while, and started asking about the differences between working at the two divisions. The two of them discussed it for more than half an hour, and then Mina brought in the next person. Only then did Garen rise to leave.
Next would be his consideration on whether or not to join them, and their inspection of his identity and qualifications.
Upon leaving the room, the atmosphere in the Guild Quest Hall had gotten even rowdier. The hall was the size of a basketball court, and seated over a hundred people. There were people squeezed up to each other, making the place seem congested as there was a chaos of noise. The smell of blood mixed with the stench of sweat, wafting through the air.
His gaze swept over the hall, and realized that Angel had left. Thomas, Aska and the others were gone too, only unfamiliar faces remaining in the large hall.
Some young men and women dressed in black armor would occasionally go in and out of the entrance to the corridor, streaming through the hall.
These people in black armor walked through the hall and directly entered another corridor in the right, without even looking at the others in the hall.
Garen went out of the hall, and saw Angel in the corridor, leaning on a while.
"Waiting for the news," Garen replied. "I have something to do, I’ll need to go back ahead. Are you alright on your own?" He could feel some gazes on Angel, sometimes there and sometimes not.
"It’s fine, just some punks with a death wish." Angel smiled.
Garen nodded and cast her out of his mind, walking straight down the corridor. After taking some more turns, he followed the wide network of underground tunnels and was soon back at the entrance where he had come in.
He left the tunnel exit, closed the cover behind him, and was back at the metal ladder that led into the sewers. With a light tap of his foot, he catapulted his body up to the very top of the ladder. Reaching out his hand to push up the metal cover, he tried his best not to make any noise.
Garen poked out his head, and looked out.
The sky was dark out, and there was the cooing of insects. It was all quiet, but there was the sound of footsteps in the distance.
Garen quietly crawled out of the well cover, and closed it behind him, standing in the debris of the Guild Hall as he looked around.
Everything was in ruins about him, and he could vaguely see some figures looting for things by the pile of corpses in the shadows.
Garen looked towards the shadow of a collapsed wall on his right. In the darkness, a huge piece of charred wood moved, and then abruptly opened its eyes. It was actually a Deep Swamp Croc in hiding.
"I’ll make a trip back, and then start a full-on hunt for the Unihorn Lizard, to rack up some potential points." Garen made the arrangements inwardly, and let the Deep Swamp Croc clear the way. He followed behind it, carefully vigilant of his surroundings.
The platinum-colored aura spread open soundlessly, stretching up to a hundred meters in radius.
Garen moved quickly, following outside the damaged city walls. Most of the buildings both inside and outside the city walls had been knocked down and collapsed.
After proceeding for a certain distance, in the distance ahead, a black silhouette darted out of a small ruined building. The shadow’s face met Garen’s at a distance, and both of them stopped.
Garen froze in his tracks, watching the other person dart into yet another clump of shadows, leaving quickly towards the right. Only then did he continue progressing.
The small area he lived in was towards the right on the outside of the city wall, and was surrounded by a smattering of other suburbs. There was even a small-scale produce market. That person had left in the direction of the market.
He didn’t linger long, going through the ruins of this area and quickly turning a few more corners before he saw his own suburban house up ahead.
It was all quiet in the suburbs, dead quiet, without any sound whatsoever.
Garen stuck close to shadow of the houses near the wall, soundlessly approaching the suburbs.
The whole suburban area was empty. This place was very far from the city, and barely anyone lived here. Most of the houses weren’t damaged. They just looked lonely and dead.
Garen carefully walked over, taking the pebbled path that led through the area. The white houses on both sides were eerily quiet, the windows like so many black holes, deep and dark.
Suddenly there was a sound like a child’s crying in Garen’s ear. The noise was messy and grating, unusually piercing on the ears.
A wave of dizziness overcame him, and his reactions were instantly delayed by a beat. Then he saw the Deep Swamp Croc in front of him wave its tail to the left.
A red shadow flew over like a shot, and rammed hard into the Deep Swamp Croc’s tail, making a dull sound.
The Deep Swamp Croc made a low roar, and was actually pushed back by two steps. That red shadow also flew backwards, tumbling onto the lawn of a villa on the left and revealing its shape.
Garen took a sharp intake of breath. The red shadow was a baby with reddish-purple skin, completely naked and with a mouth full of sharp, serrated black teeth. One of its eyes was spotted with furry blue mould, while the other had long since dried out.
"This is… Obscuro’s human experiments?!" Garen’s expression turned slightly tortured.
He willed the Deep Swamp Croc to wind around the dead baby, as he walked around and ran towards his own villa.
Behind him, the sound of the baby’s cries and the Croc’s roars never stopped.
He quickly arrived at the center of the suburbs, where it was unusually clean. Ahead of him, on the left, some rats were surrounding a human arm and chewing away at it. Hearing footsteps, these rats immediately raised their heads, revealing their ferocious red eyes.
The red-eyed rats actually pounced at Garen like bugs.
"These Unihorn Lizards actually brought viruses with them?" Garen’s expression became unpleasant. He was suddenly rather worried about his teacher, Emin, who was far away, as well as his cousin and Vanderman. Although Vanderman was only this body’s cheap father, but they had still spent a long time together, and the man’s concern for him was absolutely sincere.
He lightly jolted his foot, and a translucent circle of air spread open with a whoomph. The air went past the red-eyed rats, and the group of rats instantly fell to the ground, motionless.
Garen turned around and leapt over his own fence, took out the key and opened the door, then closed it behind him. The hall on the first floor was pitch-black, and some black shadows quickly pounced onto him.
Three Grey-feathered Hawks flew nimbly in circles around him, and three Blue Back Lizards climbed onto Garen’s feet, acting cuddly.
"Let me try evolving the Grey-feathered Hawk first." Garen walked to the sofa and sat down. Without lighting the lamp, he raised his right arm, and let a Grey-feathered Hawk perch on his arm.
A Grey-feathered Hawk leapt up and landed on Garen’s arm. Its beak was slightly longer compared to the other two, and its body slightly larger. When it stood, it was roughly a third of a person in height.
"It’ll be you, then." Garen touched this Grey-feathered Hawk’s head, his gaze falling onto this Grey-feathered Hawk’s icon.
Three seconds later.
His potential points leapt to 16%. Three potential points vanished.
And this Grey-feathered Hawk’s icon gave a jolt, slowly becoming blur.
The Grey-feathered Hawk flapped its wings, and took flight.
Its wings were growing longer, turning black, its body rapidly growing larger, expanding. Its two claws became sharper.
At a speed that can be seen with the naked eye, this Grey-feathered Hawk grew from less than a meter to two whole meters. Even more strangely, its head actually rapidly grew, and tiny sharp teeth appeared in its sharp yellow beak. There was even a bright red sarcoma on his head, beating rhythmically like a heart.
In the dozen or seconds, this Grey-feathered Hawk directly went from a hawk into a huge, ferocious, monster bird. Standing on the floor of the hall, it furled up its wings, even taller than Garen was now.
Garen looked at the newly-changed icon of the Grey-feathered Hawk at the bottom of his vision.