The wheels on the carriage turned round and round.
Garen turned sideways to look at the scenery outside the carriage window.
Up in the blue sky, a few enormous black dots were circling in the air slowly, making chirping noises in the distance.
The green grassy plains seemed limitless, and the continuous stretches of hills stood up high as a few black sheep the size of little cows lowered their heads and chomped on grass. They occasionally looked up in curiosity at the three carriages that passed by.
The early morning fresh air blew into the carriage window.
Garen lowered his head to look at the Resonance Stone in his hand, before playing with it gently.
The index finger on his left hand lit up suddenly with a black flame, and left a Tactic gesture in the air. His right hand continued to turn the Resonance Stone over in his palm.
Garen put his left hand down and picked up a pen on the table and dipped it in ink, before jotting all this down in his notebook.
Once he had finished his notes, he began to turn the Resonance Stone over again.
"How is it? Are they any results?" Reylan sat up from the opposite seat, which was also the bed area, and asked while yawning softly.
"Still alright for now. But it’s very difficult. This Detection Tactic that you gave me is quite good, it can be used to increase these kinds of frequencies within specific degrees, as well as detect them. The only downside is that it requires a lot of Silver Energy."
"Silver Energy is used to sustain Totems, and is also the basis of operating Sustain Tactics. I did not expect that Brother would have such an abundance of Silver Energy to be used for Tactics," Reylan shook her head. "According to our research, this type of Silver Energy is probably determined by the state of mind of the Luminarist. The better their state of mind, the higher their Silver Energy."
"My body has been healthy all along, and I’ve always been in a positive state of mind. We don’t have to worry about this aspect."
He picked the pen up again and began to write down a new set of data in his notebook.
"It’s been two days since we left that fortress nearby Ferrochrome Town. We should almost be reaching Aisley City by now, right?"
Reylan grabbed the glass of plain water on the table and gulped it down in one mouth, exhaled, and began putting on her coat.
"Since we sped up we should almost there," she moved to sit next to the window on the other side, and looked outside.
The sound of Lala’s coughing echoed from the carriage in front again. She sounded as if she were about to cough out her internal organs.
"Stop the carriage! Stop the carriage!" A young man alighted from the front of the carriage. He was the totem user from the Hunting Group that had guarded Lala earlier. His had a grim expression on his face as he ran towards Garen’s carriage, waving his hands frantically.
The three carriages began to slow down to a stop.
Garen pulled the carriage door open and got off, before walking towards the man.
"What’s wrong? What happened?"
"Lala just coughed out blood! We need to think of a way to help her!" The man replied solemnly. "I can’t bear to look at this anymore. She’s just a regular person. She doesn’t deserve this kind of punishment."
"I’ll go and take a look," said Garen, furrowing his brows.
He followed the man into the first carriage, and suddenly noticed the shockingly large pool of fresh blood on the floor of the carriage.
Lala lay on her side on the carriage floor, her face as white as a blank sheet of paper.
Garen’s expression darkened, and his eyes glanced past the others. Angel shrugged her shoulders immediately, showing that she was powerless.
Vicky furrowed her eyebrows and said softly: "I’ve seen this type of illness in Sitcher County. It seems to be Miya tuberculosis, and may be contagious."
At once, a forced expression appeared on the faces of everyone in the carriage.
"I’ll do it," said Garen indifferently as he stepped forward and carried Lala in his arms. He turned around and walked towards the third carriage.
Lala’s weight had decreased severely. He estimated that she weighed less than eighty pounds, and was now skinnier than a person should be.
Garen took the opportunity to look at her face.
Both of her cheeks were sunken and her eyes were listless. All that was left of her were skin and bones.
"No medicine, no specialized doctors. I’m sorry, I caused all of this to happen to you," said Garen softly, as he placed her on the seats of the third carriage, against a barrel of beef jerky.
"This was my own decision," Lala’s voice was very weak now, and most people would have to place their ears right next to her before they were able to vaguely hear what she was saying. "I… wanted to follow you…"
Garen looked at the girl who had taken such good care of him all this while, and felt a sense of uncertainty inside his heart. Without a suitable treatment method, Lala would surely die. Garen himself had unconsciously neglected her during this period of time, which resulted in her deteriorating to this degree.
He reached his hand outwards and touched Lala’ wrist to feel her pulse, before realising that it was extremely weak, almost non existent by now.
"Right now, there’s a way to save you, but I can’t assure you that it will be successful, because everything depends on luck. It is only a possibility."
Lala’s eyes jolted open immediately. "I could still… live?"
"But you’ll have to give up your freedom in exchange," Garen nodded as he answered her question.
Frankly, both of them knew deep in their hearts that if it was really tuberculosis, it was only a matter of time before it became a death sentence.
There was not the slightest bit of hesitation in Lala’s eyes.
"Please, I’ll leave it up to you then. I’m just a regular person, and to be honest in a world and era like this, I don’t have much freedom to talk about." She was someone who was well-versed in the law, and could see everything clearly. She understood that Garen’s treatment of her could already be considered excellent. If she had any other master, she would have been dead a long time ago.
Garen was in awe of her rationality and intelligence. The ability to put everything into perspective, and the knowledge on whether to advance or to step back were Lala’s greatest virtues. As for her pretty face, it was only secondary to everything else. In this world, those who were beautiful but shallow could be found anywhere. However, girls as gorgeous and wise as herself were truly rare.
"You should get ready then," Garen turned to look at the Hunting Group members outside who were looking in their direction.
"All of you should wait outside first. I’m going to see if I can save Lala."
Angel rushed towards him and nodded, as a playful smile appeared on her face.
"Up to you, as long as your ‘cute’ little sister doesn’t get jealous."
Garen was too tired for her nonsense. He pulled the carriage door and shut it, before closing the curtains.
He looked at Lala in her white sleeping gown, and crouched down beside her.
"Just rest for awhile. When you wake up in a few moments, you’ll feel better."
Lala nodded slightly.
"I’m in your hands, Lord Garen."
"Yes." Garen’s hand shot out as quick as electricity, before quickly hitting the side of Lala’s neck.
Both of Lala’s eyes closed immediately, as she fell into a state of unconsciousness.
Garen spared no time in taking out the red crystal ball from his inner shirt pocket, before placing it on the side of Lala’s head gently.
The red crystal ball suddenly began to emit a soft light. A row of small words began to float upwards near the top.
‘A creature has been found nearby, would you like to empower the creature?’
"This is an experiment. If it succeeds, you live. But if it fails, you’ll die. We’ll see what your fate holds." Garen glanced at the words in the crystal ball, and stretched his hand out slowly, clicking on the part that said ‘yes’.
Abruptly, the crystal ball begin to emit a silver light, as the colour of its entire body began to turn from pink to silver. A ray of silver light shot out of its core and landed straight on the right side of Lala’s temple.
Suddenly, white gas began to form near Lala’s head, appearing to be water vapour.
Garen looked at the crystal Derivator frantically. This experiment was the key to finding out whether he could successfully empower a human body. After Jessica was first empowered, she went missing without a trace, and there had been no news about her even until now. However, humans could definitely be empowered to a certain degree, because the option to choose humans existed. Deep inside he felt that this was not completely right, but it was worth trying.
This was its final quota, the tenth item that the Derivator would be able to control. Now it was time to see if it would succeed or not.
The silver ray shot out for a full ten minutes, before it faded slowly, and finally became dark.
Garen waited until the silver light had disappeared fully before he kept the crystal ball quickly, and then began to check on Lala’s condition.
Everything seemed normal. She looked the same as she did before the empowerment process, even her body looked as weak as it was before.
"Did it fail?" Garen glanced at the crystal ball, and noticed that it clearly stated on top that the empowerment had been a success.
He looked at the bottom part of his field of vision. If he had succeeded, there would surely be an totem icon here.
Sure enough, an unknown icon had appeared in the silver totem pane. The icon was a three-dimensional full-body image of Lala.
‘Lala Pearson: First form living totem, upgradable. Probability of successful evolution: 89% (The weaker its body, the higher the success rate). Potential point cost: 300%.
Abilities: Housework, studying.’
"She really became a totem." Garen was somewhat shocked. He peered at Lala who was still lying down. The girl was opening her eyes slowly now, and looking at him with a slightly confused expression.
Garen began to use his Will. "Lala, can you hear me?" He passed his message mentally without having to say a word.
Lala opened her mouth in shock, but understood immediately, as an alarmed expression appeared on her face.
"This…?!" She looked at Garen and felt as if his emotions could now decide whether she lived or died. However, the original feeling of weakness from the tuberculosis that was once entangled around her was completely gone.
She felt as if her heartbeats had gotten stronger.
"Don’t feel doubtful, I’m using my thoughts to communicate with you now. Currently, you’ve become my exclusive creature, in a certain sense. Your life and death is in my hands," Garen explained carefully. "Do you feel something different about yourself now?"
Lala nodded, but her response was somewhat delayed. She was also just expressing her thoughts internally.
"My illness seems to be cured…"
"That’s good," Garen nodded in satisfaction. "This experiment counts as a success, so you should try and get used to your body now. It should be much safer for you now than before."
The greatest benefit of becoming a totem was that it was less likely for them to succumb to harm that was not caused by their own species, such as illnesses, accidents, or disasters.
Garen pulled the door open and alighted the carriage, before looking at the grim face of Reylan who had been waiting outside. Her wizened, shrivelled face was lightly painted with an unwilling and jealous expression.
"Brother, it looks like you’ve decided not to listen to my warnings," she said in a very solemn voice. "Do you know what happens when you don’t listen to me?"
Garen could tell that she was masking a stern threat behind her words. He squinted his eyes.
"I don’t remember what you said to me?"
Reylan sneered. She said nothing as she turned away and returned to the carriage.
Garen watched the figure of her back, as he felt for the first time that it might be a wrong decision for him to let this person stay by his side, even though she had given him an abundance of other-worldly knowledge.
"Be careful, your sister looks slightly abnormal."
Angel walked beside Garen and said the words softly. Her voice was hardly audible, but the both of them noticed when Reylan, who was now in front and had walked quite a distance away, turned around suddenly. Her pupils glared directly at Angel.
Angel huffed coldly, and brought her people towards the first carriage.
Garen looked at Reylan, unsure of how to solve the problem for now. He waited awhile before getting on to the carriage, before noticing that Reylan had her back facing towards him now, and was currently asleep under her blanket.
This continued until lunchtime at noon, when Reylan woke up and ate quickly, before going back to sleep again.
Garen felt that something was strange, but decided to leave this thought at the back of his mind for the time being. Whenever he came across a problem, it was better for him to solve it on his own. With his basic knowledge, as long as he knew the foundation of the situation, he only needed to investigate it deeper, and this was not something that would be too difficult for him.
Up until night time, they managed to take care of a herd of more than ten white cats. These white cats were almost the size of horses, and had extremely sharp claws, but were not totems. One of the men in black in Angel’s group took care of them on his own, and left the meat to be made into jerky, while the fur would be used to make clothes.
After dinner, Garen continued to research biological engineering for awhile, before going to sleep as well.
Suddenly, he felt that something was off. While still in a daze, he began to feel an uncomfortable feeling.
Garen hazily opened his eyes with all his might. He saw Reylan standing at his side, and looking down at him. Her eyes were glowing red, and she was emitting light in the darkness.
"Reylan? What’s wrong?" Garen had yet to wake up, and was just looking at Reylan who was standing beside him.
Reylan did not say a word, but turned around and returned to her own area. She went back to sleep again, completely ignoring Garen’s question.
Garen rubbed his head and sat up straight, before noticing that something was not right with his cup.
He grabbed the cup on the table as a little black thing crawled out and attempted to fly out through the carriage window.
Garen pinched the little black thing in one swift moment. When he opened his hands to look, he saw a little black cockroach-like insect, that was almost the size of his fingernail.