In the first empire, a large cluster of dark grey buildings were lit up with countless lamps, as though the mountain’s peak was covered in an abundance of candles.
The area at the bottom with the dimmest candlelight was on top of a straight, lofty stone wall.
An ashen coloured mansion was embedded in the middle of the stone wall, and a small straight lane on the left was the only road that led to the outside world.
It looked like someone had dug a hole in the stone wall and built a manor in the empty space, with a balcony railing that could only be seen from the precipice.
A tall man with short blonde hair rested his hands on the railing and leaned on it as he stood on the balcony quietly, watching the sea of white fog below him. The gusting wind blew towards him, causing his hair to be mussed up continuously . The white pajamas he wore were also blown backwards.
He swirled the blue alcohol in his hands, and took a small sip.
"The request for an audience has been sent in, so I’ll just have to wait for His Majesty to summon me. The Green Vine Sphere in my hands cannot be kept for much longer, and the people from the Royal Alliance of Luminarists will definitely want to acquire it. The type of benefits that I will be able to obtain all depend on my gaining abilities now. Avic Sisman is a wise young leader, and ever since he ascended the throne, the Kovitan Empire has been flourishing, and it’s steadily becoming the strongest power in the continent. A person like this will definitely give me a favourable answer but if I don’t sort this out properly, the other researchers will be worried."
Garen drank his alcohol and pondered silently.
"I don’t know when Beckstone will arrive here, but I know that this is an important place where he has to reach. Historically, after the incident at Vanderman’s manor, he only arrived at the Kovitan Empire one year later. Sequentially, that huge incident occurred, but he did not get injured in that situation. This time, he’d been badly beaten up by me, so the timeline is not very clear anymore…"
Garen shook his cup again, and finished the remainder of his alcohol in one gulp. The taste of the icy grape wine swirled around his mouth and on his tongue, before sliding down his throat. It tasted light and very sweet, just like grape juice that had been spiked with some alcohol.
"The other thing would be my bodily changes."
Garen bowed his head and looked at his arms, noticing that the topmost layer of skin had began to give off a light blue shade.
Regarding the changes of his own body, Garen
had been preparing himself for this for a long time, and had even calculated the times he used the Derivator. This kind of transformation was similar to the Obscuro Society’s Empowerment, except that it was considered as an Empowerment that was not controlled by a Derivator, and the process was also different.
Garen was going in the direction of optimizing his own body structure, while the Obscuro Society was trying to use the Totem Light to transform their own bodies directly. They were unable to face the rejection reaction, so they simply chose to prioritise the Totem Light in a process that involved outside contamination and virus attacks.
Meanwhile, Garen’s choice involved the main body absorbing the Totem Light, and it was a process that required his own body to produce an adaptive evolution in itself. Both of them had different natures.
The former required the ‘virus’ that the Derivator used to control Totem Light. The latter would control everything by themselves, however the difficulty would increase exponentially. In Garen’s case, his physical body was extremely powerful, and greatly exceeded the expectations of the researchers in this world.
The first step of the transformation gave Garen’s body the characteristics of Totem Light, but needed refinement to be steadier. The second step of the transformation required him to attempt to exceed his limits completely.
The reason why he could not increase his Attribution Points was due to his physical body reaching its limit, hence it was unable to increase any further. But what would happen if he increased the limits of his physical body? Would a newer, higher tier limit emerge?
That was Garen’s current plan.
If he exceeded the limit, he would be able to obtain the ability to use his Potential Points to increase his Attributes once again. He had found a way to carry out this step a long time ago, but he’d only been able to implement it thoroughly after Leila had passed on many of the Obscuro Society’s core skills to him.
The act of transforming himself into a Core Totem was a mad thought in itself. Countless talented Luminarists from the Obscuro Society had died while researching in this direction, causing many future researchers to avoid this area and conduct their research without using outside sources.
Their biggest hardship was that they lacked control over their own bodies, which led them to think of using Crystal Derivators as an exterior form of control.
However, Garen was different. The first step was a success, which made him certain that this was the direction and path that were the most suitable for him.
"The requirements for the second step of the transformation have all been met. The derivation theories have also been understood, so I can begin my experiments tonight," Garen released the cup in front of him lightly,
lightly, and let it fall into the sea of white clouds. "I hope for the best."
He turned around and walked out of the balcony.
The wine cup plunged into the clouds before disappearing soundlessly.
Behind the balcony was a spacious hall, and the dim table lamp there swayed gently. It was a candle enclosed by a cylindrical white cloth, and each of the four walls were adorned with a similar lamp.
On the wooden floor, a long rectangular wooden desk was placed exactly in the center, with two wicker chairs arranged beside it. The table and chairs were the same shade of brown, with a tinge of red.
Garen sat down on one of the chairs and picked up a pile of manuscripts that had been placed on the table. He picked up a pen and began editing and checking them.
After checking for a while, he put away the manuscripts, got up and walked towards the wall on the right. There was a white cabinet placed high on the wall, with two used, black coffee cups balanced on top.
Garen shifted the coffee cups and began brushing against the walls, before his palm pressed against something softly.
A square switch sunk into the wall, and the entire wall slowly split along a ‘Z’-shaped crack and opened inwards, revealing a dark passageway.
The arched passageway sloped downwards towards the right into the darkness.
Garen picked up the manuscripts and walked inside as though he was going down spiral stairs that wound towards the right. He walked on for an unknown span of time.
Within the dark passageway, the area in front of him was unexpectedly illuminated by white light.
It was a half-opened metal door.
Garen walked towards the front of the metal door, pushed it open gently, and walked inside.
The door suddenly opened wide, revealing a large, round stone hall.
The stone hall appeared unusually rough, and the stone wall had uneven marks. The entire stone hall was the size of a football field with only a little light illuminating the area, revealing specks of white dust on the ashen stone wall.
Garen walked through the metal door, and the position where he now stood at happened to be at the extreme right corner. He looked at the center of the area from a distance and noticed a black shadow collapsed there, as its soft breathing noises echoed within the stone hall.
On the four walls, only four lamps had been lit up, and the light from them was only enough to light up the four corners of the large hall, making it abnormally dim.
He took one of the lamps down from the wall, held it in his hand, and walked towards the center of the hall briskly.
The air in the hall was cool and felt as though a light breeze was blowing through, bringing a
bringing a pungent rotten smell with it.
Garen walked across the solid yet uneven floor towards the center of the stone hall, and stood in front of the black shadow.
As the lamp cast light upon the black shadow, half of its large body was exposed.
The two necks and heads of the Dual Headed Salamander came into view.
Its ten meter long body was prostrated on the ground as though in deep sleep, while saliva leaked from the corners of both its mouths. It was the source of the disgusting stench.
Garen placed the wall lamp on the floor, reached his hand out to knock on the Dual Headed Salamander but received no response.
"This dosage should be sufficient."
He murmured quietly, before walking towards the middle of the Salamander’s body, where various strange instruments had been arranged on the floor beside.
There was an oddly-shaped glass container and a square cabinet with a red dot that would light up occasionally. Furthermore, a large plate holding multiple purple crystal rods soaking in blood, and a surgical package containing various metal appliances.
Garen took a small sharp knife out of the surgical package and sterilised it with the flame of the lamp. With his other hand, he picked up a black towel that had been soaked in alcohol.
He walked towards the Dual Headed Salamander’s abdomen, used the towel to wipe its abdominal scales unceremoniously. He then discarded the towel and grasping the scalpel in both hands, he stabbed downwards abruptly.
The scalpel was unable to penetrate its scales, but managed to pierce into the Salamander’s skin.
Garen turned his head upwards and glanced at the Salamander, noticing that the giant beast had already opened its eyes and was glaring at him now with unblinking brown-yellow pupils.
"Don’t move," Garen commanded the Dual Headed Salamander, as he held the scalpel down and sliced through quickly.
With his abnormal strength, the blade made a tearing noise as it was tugged across, before it sliced through the Dual Headed Salamander’s abdomen and cut it open.
A meter-long wound was suddenly opened, exposing the blood-red coloured muscle within.
Garen switched to a longer, larger knife, sterilised it with alcohol and wiped it clean. Following that, he stabbed into the wound crudely once more.
Finally, the Dual Headed Salamander could not hold back its cries anymore.
Garen separated the flesh towards the bottom with his meter long, large knife, and tore the flesh apart fully, exposing its steaming abdominal cavity.
Blood trickled down its scales and dripped on the floor, filling up one of the indentations in the floor like a creek before forming a small round puddle.
Garen discarded the large knife and used both of his hands to press against the corners of the wound, before looking into the abdominal cavity where it was pitch-black, as a pungent rotten stench continuously wafted out from inside.
He out from inside.
He used both of his hands to tear and widen the wound, before picking up the lamp and entering its body.
The inside of its abdomen was an oval-shaped flesh cavity with inner walls of smooth white muscles covered in continuously moving blood vessels.
In the center, a large heart was thumping and beating continuously. This heart, which was larger than the size of an average person, was connected to a large amount of blood vessels that resembled red coloured spider webs of varying thicknesses.
Garen avoided the blood vessels carefully by stepping on the soft abdominal walls, and walked towards the heart.
The steamy, rotten smell from his surroundings assaulted his nose continuously, while Garen bent forwards and avoided two forearm-sized blood vessels that were blocking his path. He crawled towards the front of the heart.
He put the lamp down and took out a small black dagger. Holding it in his right hand, he sliced the corner of its heart open in one swift movement.
A small piece of heart muscle detached from the large heart, together with a large pool of blood.
Garen quickly retrieved the chunk of heart muscle and immediately looked at the Dual Headed Salamander’s wound. He noticed that it was beginning to repair itself at a rate observable with the naked eye. This type of terrifying regenerative abilities seemed to have affected the abdominal wound as well, as both sides of the wound were beginning to meld together.
Garen heard a closing sound behind him, and was shocked for a moment, before he turned back hastily and exited the abdominal cavity.
A crashing sound was heard as he dived out of the wound, his entire body stained red by blood.
"Cough cough…" His mouth and nose were saturated with the rotten stench from the abdominal cavity. Garen took a few deep breaths and saw that the Dual Headed Salamander’s abdominal wounds had completely healed.
However, the Salamander’s spirits seemed down, and possibly due to the injuries its heart had just suffered; its eyelids were drooping and almost closed, and it lay there listlessly.
Garen had no time to care for it. Instead, he held the heart muscle carefully in his hands, and placed it into a small crystal bottle that he had prepared earlier.
"This bottle of nutritional fluids should be able to maintain it for a while."
He covered the bottle and shook the light yellow fluids inside. He could see that this piece of heart muscle contained a specialized frequency that allowed it to naturally beat even though it had been detached from the heart.
"The source of all the secrets regarding the Dual Headed Salamander’s can be found in its heart. Its heart possesses strong hematopoietic abilities, unlike most living creatures which rely on bone marrow to produce blood," said Garen as he finally understood.