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Several thousand metres away from the Snowy Peak, on top of the dark green selike forest, a cloud of thick black mist shrouded a speeding blonde silhouette. .

After some distance, the black mist slowly dissipated, becoming thinner and thinner.

Finally; all the black mist disappeared into nothing.

The black pocket watch in Garen’s hand let out a crackling sound, and a crack revealed the watch within..

He suddenly lost the lift he had had from the black mist and began freefalling to the ground. The black light array lit up beneath his feet, and Garen used it as a platform to somersault in the air, steadily landing on the branch of a large tree within the forest.

Among the rustling sounds of the leaves, squirrels and birds scurried away, frightened.

Garen couldn’t care less about those animals, he was instead feeling sentimental about the pocket watch in his hands.

"Too bad, the Cloud Crow Array was really nice to use. Now it’s broken." He recalled the previous battle’s scenarios; it was probably damaged by God Cloud’s chain binding.

Those kinds of chains were very strong, which conversely meant that his body was strong enough to resist that kind of binding. If it was any other totem user; they would have probably been turned into minced meat.

Garen waved his hand, and three-dotted marks between his brows turned red. The status of the Nine-Headed Dragon was reflected into his consciousness directly.

He lightly touched the left side of the mark, which seemed to have dimmed a little following his main body’s death.

Within his consciousness, the Nine-Headed Dragon was lying quietly in a pitch black space, the one on the far left seemed to be dying without any signs of vitality left in it.

"Looks like this three-dotted marks are not simply a representation of the changes in the body." Garen thought, he recalled in the Secret Techniques world’s top invincible Holy Fist Palosa. One of his ultimates technique was the 99 Acute Airholes, which meant he needs to be killed 99 times before one could truly win him.

The Nine-Headed Dragon’s body containing nine lives are akin to the 99 Acute Airholes in its mechanisms.

"If it wasn’t for the continuous hunt for strong totem users on the snowy peak and gaining large amounts of potential points, this battle would have resulted in some significant damage."

He originally thought that there was more he needed to do before he could maximise his Intelligence, but during the hunt on the snowy peak, a large portion of his opponents were strong totem users, which made it adequate to maximise his Intelligence and then some.

The gang up by Obscuro Society was within his expectations, but the fight God Cloud’s clone had eluded Garen’s predictions..

God Cloud’s body was obviously immaterial, even at first glance. It was without a doubt a clone condensed from tiny particles, but nonetheless, a mere clone could reach such levels of power. Not to mention the odd Demon Blade Kunta.

If it was just a clone, Garen was confident that he himself would not lose in a frontal fight, but with that blade… he also wasn’t sure if God Cloud had more tricks up his sleeve.

As one of the few strongest in existence within Obscuro, the level at which God Cloud was was definitely something Garen had not been able to reach. Naturally, his gamut of strong moves wasn’t lacking.

That’s why he made the decisive move to run away.

As he inspected the status of the dying dragon head, he found it to be very close to death; it breathed in short, raspy breaths that were increasingly frequent and short.

Garen focused onto his own ability’s Attribute Pane. After researching multiple totem theories and experimentations, according to his on Nine-Headed Dragon’s genetic model, he should be able to mitigate the problem with his ability.

Indeed, the nine lives of the Nine-Headed Dragon are absolute!

Which means, these nine lives were not transferable; Garen has to die a total of nine times before he would perish for good.

But back then when the dual-headed salamander was able to evolve into the Nine-Headed Dragon, it was actually because he depended on his abilities to force an evolution. All these depended on abilities to evolve all the way to the absolute genetic limits.

Originally, the dual-headed salamander did not qualify to evolve up to this point, the Nine-Headed Dragon genetic pieces in its DNA was too little, only in literal shards. However, with a push from his abilities, he could fully explore its potential, and freely unravel all the possibilities that laid in the bits and pieces of genetic material, hence the nine heads.

"According to the derivator, since the abilities can evolve a Dual-Headed Salamander into a Nine-Headed Dragon, the loss of that severed head should have been permanent, but this could be fixed using my potential points." Even though Garen was quite sure this was the case, he still felt nervous when it came to the moment of truth. This was the pivotal point, where he would ascertain whether his deduction was correct or not.

He looked at his own stats.

"Strength 12, Dexterity 10. Vitality 10. Intelligence 10. Potential 3218%. Possess the qualities of a Luminarist."

Jumping across his dense Skill Panes and other totems, Garen eventually shifted his focus directly upon the core totem.

"Core totem - Nine-headed dragon: Evolved creature from the ancient creature Eight-Headed Dragon, perfect genetic organism. Theoretical Form 4 creature, ultimate form not upgradeable.

Information on Ancient Genetics: In the Luminarists’ records, the Nine Headed Dragon is one of the organisms with the strongest survivability in the ancient era. They possess 8 extremely vicious sub-heads and one main head. Each dragon head has differing abilities, although they were mostly related to poison. Each of the dragon heads has a different poison ability, and ruled over the ancient era for tens of thousands of years. However, due to the extinction of the Nine-Headed Dragon’s food sources, the Nine-Headed Dragons fell into decline, and was evicted from the position as the apex predator of the food chain.

This terrifying menace possesses strong poison. It was ugly, but extremely possessive towards objects that are aesthetically pleasing. They are attracted towards beautiful things; whether it be beautiful flora, fauna, or serene environments and its creatures. They would normally inhabit the side of a lake on a bed of gems. Even though they are distant relatives of the multi-headed salamanders that dug out underground mazes, as the top-dogs of the food chain, they never had the need to hide in a cavern underground, instead preferring to bask under the sunlight, cleaning its dragon scales. According to the Luminarists’ research and deduction, this kind of apex predator should turn out to be extremely narcissistic.

Abilities: Void Whirlpool (extends the dragon head, bringing it greater reach and tearing down prey. In the Nine-Headed Dragon’s eyes, enemies mean food! This ability allowed for its prey to be slaughtered and devoured straight away.)

Nine Lives (Must be killed nine times before it completely perishes, each time requiring the opponent to slice off all nine heads at one go, otherwise the heads will continuously regenerate; a nightmare for any opponent.)

Dragon Skin

Berserker’s Howl (After the inducing concussion, temporarily increases all dragon heads’ abilities for 155 seconds, attack and speed increases by 30% at the same time)

Vitality Tear

Rotting Poison Mist (A blood red, potent poison that can break down and decompose most of the organisms in the world.)

Virus Parasitism (The Nine-headed Dragon does not possess the parasitizing abilities like the salamanders living underground; it hates everything filthy and ugly, but.had another type of extremely horrid parasitizing ability, which allowed it to inject live bacterium into the enemy’s body, continuously absorb the enemy’s life force, ultimately transforming it from the inside out into an aesthetically pleasing - the dragon minion)

Looking through all the information, Garen knew these messages were sorted and collected by the ability within his memories, which meant that he had known some of the facts partially; while the rest were derived by the ability itself.

In reality, the Nine-headed Dragon’s strength is not completely known to its full extent. For instance, for its final ability, Virus Parasitism, the exact product of what was named dragon minion, even Garen didn’t know, the ability also hadn't managed to detail it properly.

He looked at the end of Nine-Headed Dragon’s Nine Lives abilities, and there was an additional blood red symbol which looks like an icon of the eight-headed dragon: it was a status icon.

‘Nine Lives’ Status: Eight Lives.’

Garen tried focusing on this ability.

In five whole seconds, the Nine Lives ability actually had some movement. The eight lives symbol slowly got blurry.

His potential points also slowly decreased.

Garen’s heart flustered, he knew it was working.

The potential points kept dropping for 20 whole points before it finally stopped. In the end, the eight lives symbol lit up again, but instead eight dragon heads, there were nine.

In his consciousness, the dragon head on the far left was slowly turning normal, becoming lively, like all the other heads again.

Garen exhaled in relaxation.

"Twenty points to recharge one life, this is really worth it. Unfortunately the heirloom was nowhere to be found, probably was taken away by people from the Geometry Service amidst the chaos. Who would’ve known that the Obscuro’s attempt to steal the heirloom was faked, whereas the ambush of the Three Departments was bona fide. It looks like this will turn into a full-blown war."

After finishing his checks, Garen jumped off the branch. He glanced at his own torn attire; the full black body armor was entirely destroyed, as well as the magic mirror that Windling made. It didn’t manage to reflect anything, and it had already been shattered into pieces due to the chains. The shards even got embedded into his own skin, as though they inserted into the muscles itself.

Garen’s body shuddered, and painfully extracted the shards.

"Big Brother… Big Brother…" Unexpectedly, the shards of magic mirror actually transmitted faint voices.

"Windling?" Garen asked in an explorative manner.

"Big Brother you’re alright! I knew it, how was it? Are you amazed by my noble techniques? It was still usable even though it shattered into pieces! This is not something any ordinary elite is capable of accomplishing!" Windling snickered.

"You’re okay?" Garen filtered out the nonsense.

" I had to hide further away to be able to observe Big Brother’s stalwart heroism." Windling said cheesily. Nine dragon heads!! Pshh, indeed, it’s not your ordinary strong creature, even God Cloud’s clone got beaten till it fled!"

Garen was speechless.

"I’m preparing to head back to Kovitan’s Capital, are you coming?"

"I…." Windling had a rare instance of not joking around, instead he quieted down. "I wanna go check on my kid."

"Where to?"

"Maryland, a small country near Daniela. Thanks to you, I have gotten a tonne of great materials, killing people and looting is indeed the fastest way to grind."

"Then, take care" Garen replied coldly. For Windling, he couldn’t say it was vengeance, but instead felt oddly like a friend. This fellow seemed like the type of happy-go-lucky person, walking around with a carefree look, but inside, he carried a lot of weight on his shoulders.

"So this is it, I’ll meet you next time, who knows if I’ll be looking for you." Windling snickered again.

"Sure, I’ll probably be in Kovitan this year, you can come directly to me."

"Big brother…"

"What’s up?"

".. Actually, you’re a good guy…"

With that, WIndling disappeared. Garen speechlessly put down the shard.

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