As Reilei awaited the inevitable, she soon found that nothing was happening. Could it be that she had already been killed by the attacks?
However, as Reilei slowly opened her eyes, she discovered that she was completely unharmed! She quickly looked towards Ayanelle's direction fearing that the attacks missed her and struck its intended target, however, that was not the case.
But, if the attacks did not hit her or Ayanelle, then where did they go? This was the question on Reilei's mind. Of course, she had no problem with the attacks seemingly disappearing into thin air. She had just avoided a potential disaster!
Reilei was not the only one confused. Lost Dreams, Shivva, and Fireward were all baffled. One moment their attacks were there and the next they were gone! Just what was going on? It seemed as if ever since they ran into this summoner weird events that simply did not make sense to them started to take place one after the other.
"Hey, I don't like this one bit. Maybe we should just cut our losses and get out of here." Fireward said with furrowed brows. The unknown variables just kept stacking up higher as the seconds ticked by and he no longer felt that it was worth the trouble. Besides, there was not even an absolute guarantee that they would receive a rare item from that deer!
"I agree. When you think about it, why would any rare monster even bother lurking around the beginner area? Wouldn't it make more sense for it to be somewhere closer to the main city if anything?" Shivva stated.
She had her doubts about this whole thing from the start, but she kept quiet since everyone else was on board with it. But now, there were only three of them that remained and since Fireward had changed his mind, there was no longer any reason for her to hold her tongue.
Lost Dreams was boiling with rage on the inside. That's it? They wanted to just give up and quit after three of their party members had been killed right before their very own eyes? Trash! Useless cowards and spineless trash!
Although he was infuriated on the inside, Lost Dreams did not let it show on his face. He needed the two of them as he was not confident in being able to finish off that deer alone. He had to find a way to convince them to stay!
Then, after they received the rare item, he would kill them both off and head to the main city alone to find a new party! With a rare item on his side, what party would not welcome him with open arms? Heck, he may even be able to form a small guild!
"Let's not be hasty! We're so close to our goal and you two want to give up when it's right before us? Could you live with the thought that you threw away a major opportunity just because you were a little scared?! If you two want to leave, then fine go away for all I care! But when I get my hands on that rare item and sell it for a fortune, don't come crying to me for a piece of it!" Lost Dreams said.
This caused Shivva and Fireward to hesitate. But, in the end, the two of them shook their head and walked away leaving Lost Dreams by alone. At the end of the day, they had all met today and had not formed any kind of close relationship or tight bonds.
They had no obligation to die for Lost Dreams! Besides, the two of them were no fools. Lost Dreams use of manipulative words did not go over their heads. They chose to turn a blind eye to it due to the convenience of having a full party, but it had now gotten to a point where they wanted nothing to do with him!
Lost Dreams was speechless. His plan had backfired! He did not think that the two of them would really leave! However, was he supposed to sit there and beg for them to stay? He would never allow himself to be put through a public display of humiliation!
"Fine! I'll take care of this myself! Useless trash! Cowards! Spineless ingrates!" Lost Dreams spewed a stream of insults at his two ex-party members.
"He's insane..." Shivva muttered to Fireward.
"Just ignore him. Do you want to wait for North Tails? We could use a tank." Fireward said.
A few moments later, Shivva and Fireward had disappeared into the forest and was nowhere to be seen! They had really left Lost Dreams by himself!
Reilei had no idea what was going on or what the source of the falling out between them was, but this was definitely not a bad thing for her! Even though she was unclear on how the attacks vanished, now that there was only one them remaining, she felt that this fight could finally end.
Xiao Liang, who stood in front of the deer let out a small burp that was barely audible. However, one could see a small puff of black smoke leave its mouth and at the same time it coughed up two arrowheads. It was the same arrowheads from the shot that Lost Dreams had fired off just moments ago!
One of the scales of Xiao Liang's back had turned red-orangish in color and stood out from the rest of its scales.
A few moments ago...
As the flaming ball of fire soared through the air along with two arrows that accompanied it, Reilei had her eyes tightly shut as she readied herself for the attack.
However, before the attack came anywhere near here, a purplish-blue streak light shot across the air and appeared in front of the attacks. This purplish-blue streak was none other than Xiao Liang!
Xiao Liang breathed in causing a powerful suction force to be formed near its mouth. In an instant, the course of the two attacks was altered and flew right towards its tiny mouth. It was as if the mana and arrows were breaking down to their most basic states before being drawn into the tiny cyclone. Xiao Liang had devoured the incoming attacks as if it were a feast!
The next moment, Xiao Liang had already returned to its position next to the deer. To everyone viewing from the outside, it looked as if the attacks had just vanished into thin air!
Lost Dreams' cursed under his breath as he stared coldly at Reilei. It was all her fault! Of course, Lost Dreams would not blame himself for the current events. He needed an outlet for his pent up anger and since Reilei was the closest the task would naturally fall to her.
"Your friends have walked away. You should join them and leave this poor creature in peace. Can't you see that it means us no harm?" Reilei said as she tried to reason with Lost Dreams. In the end, even though she was upset, she had not forgotten that the player before her was no older than her own son. She knew how headstrong one could potentially be around that age.
However, as Reilei spoke, Lost Dreams' mood became even worse. To him, it felt as though he was being talked down on like he was some nobody! But what really angered him was Reilei's attitude towards the deer.
"So what if it means us no harm? Are you stupid or something? If it's a monster, you kill it and gain benefits! That's the way games work! Don't you see that you're missing a huge chance here?! Are are you really so naive and gullible that you think you're doing the right thing? None of this is real! What does it matter if one monster dies for my benefit?! For my livelihood?!" Lost Dreams shouted.
Reilei remained silent at first, however, a serious look appeared on her face.
"It's true, this is a game. It's also true that I'm still clueless and naive when it comes to playing it. But, even if this world isn't real to you or me, it's real to Ayanelle. It's real to the people and creatures of this world. I choose to respect and embrace this. If that makes me naive or gullible, then I'll gladly accept both of those titles!" Reilei said without the slightest bit of hesitation in her voice.
Ayanelle's eyes looked in Reilei's direction. There was a certain look of clarity in its eyes as if it had made a decision. Ayanelle closed her eyes as the nine spheres at the tip of her antlers that were now around the size of grains of sand, fused together and shot towards the summoner's orb within Reilei's hand.
Reilei was startled by the sound of something shattering as she looked down and saw that the orb in her hands was now layered with numerous cracks.
Lost Dreams saw that Reilei was briefly distracted and immediately fired off a volley of arrows!
"You respect it? What does that have to do with anything?! You can just die along with that deer!" Lost Dreams said with a large grin on his face.
"This is..." Reilei's eyes turned completely white as she felt herself being pulled into a strange phenomenon.
"Where am I?" Reilei questioned. She did not feel anything beneath her feet and so when she looked down she immediately panicked! This was due to the fact that she was floating in midair! How did she get here? What was this place?
After her initial panic, Reilei looked down once again and saw a beautiful world full of nature. There were thousands or maybe even millions of species of flowers and plants. Various animals and creatures roamed the world and trees that stretched up to the firmament existed in certain parts of the world. It was a beautiful sight and was completely untouched by any outside influences.
"How pretty..." Reilei could not help but mutter to herself.
However, the next moment, the world flickered between beautiful scenery and one of pure destruction. Soon enough, it stopped when the flowers wilted and died, the trees and water in the world turned completely dark, and all life on the world had come to an end; all except two.
Out of nowhere, two beings were fighting at the edge of the firmament. One was a deer with nine spheres at the tip of its antlers and the other was a being of pure darkness.
As Reilei took a closer look, she noticed that deer looked familiar. It resembled Ayanelle, however, the deer before here was full of energy and life. Also, the nine spheres on at the tip of its antlers were at least five times bigger than the spheres Ayanelle possessed.
The two creatures clashed fiercely with one another, however, the being of pure darkness was ruthless in its attacks. A few moments later, it managed to find an opening as its claws viciously ripped through the neck of the deer.
The deer cried out in pain as it fell down from the firmament. Just before it hit the ground, a portal opened up and it disappeared.
Reilei was terrified! That being of pure darkness released a monstrous killing intent and putrid energy could be felt lingering in the atmosphere.
The being of darkness looked over in Reilei's direction which caused her heart to drop and nearly leaped out of her chest. Those cold and bone piercing blood-red eyes were filled with unfiltered hatred. However, just as she experienced that extreme level of fear, she had found herself back in the forest where she had just been.
The arrows that fell towards her and Ayanelle were deflected by a transparent barrier.
"What was that?" Reilei felt that she was drenched in sweat. The experience of being face to face with that creature was just that terrifying!
Xiao Liang's call snapped Reilei out of it as she realized that she had left her mind wander off at a dangerous time.
Reilei set her sights on Lost Dreams who had not given up. She could see that talking to him any further would lead to nothing. Therefore, there was only one choice. Though, unknown to Reilei, she had received a stream of alerts from the system.
〈System Alert: You have received the title «Friend of Nature»!〉
〈System Alert: You have gained the passive «Blessing of the Doe of Creations»!〉
〈System Alert: You have gained the skill «Soul Contract»!〉
〈System Alert: You have received the item «Orb of Creations»!〉
Lost Dreams notched his arrow and prepared to fire off another shot. But, just as he got ready to shoot, he witnessed something unbelievable. That summoner who was supposed to be a magic caster was moving towards him at an incredibly fast speed! What kind of speed was that for a summoner?!
Lost Dreams panicked and missed his shot! He quickly tried to set up for a second attack, however, before he could do so, a spherical object appeared before his face.
Reilei's summoner's orb crashed into Lost Dreams' face and sent him doing somersaults backward. His body dissipated into countless particles as his face was buried into the ground. If he knew the summoner class was so powerful, he would have chosen it instead of ranger! A few moments later, his body completely vanished. Now, there was just Reilei, Xiao Liang, Ayanelle, and the young deer.
Xiao Liang called out to Reilei. When Reilei looked back, she saw that the color in Ayanelle's eyes had completely vanished and not even a speck of energy could be seen at the tip of its antlers. Her eyes widened as she knew what was happening. She rushed over to the Ayanelle's side and saw that her breathing had become faint.
Reilei knelt down as she placed the palm of her hand onto Ayanelle's cheek. There was a saddened look in her eyes. It was frustrating to be unable to do anything to help her! The only thing she could do was, at the very least, stay with her in her final moments.
"You don't have to worry about your child. I promise that I will take good care of them in your place. So, don't worry. You can rest. You deserve to rest." Reilei spoke in a quiet tone of voice.
Ayanelle took one last look at Reilei and then one final look at the peaceful and resting young deer next to her. There was a look of relief in her eyes as they slowly began to close. The life could be seen slipping away from Ayanelle as her eyes fell shut. There was an eerie silence that followed as her body emitted a glowing white light before shattering into countless particles that drifted into the faraway sky.
Ayanelle had departed from this world.
After a few moments of remaining motionless, Reilei carefully took the young deer into her hands. Xiao Liang jumped up onto her shoulder and rubbed its tiny head against her.
"Thank you, Xiao Liang." Reilei said in a soft tone of voice as she looked into the sky as the last bit of particles disappeared from sight. She still did not know why Ayanelle chose to trust her. It could have been out of pure desperation, but she intended to keep her promise.
"Farewell, Ayanelle." Reilei said as she looked into the sky at the last bit of particles disappeared from sight. A few tears could be seen falling down her cheeks as she watched the entire process from start to finish.
Now, there was nothing but the natural silence of the forest that remained.
Around one hour later in the Amaharpe palace library...
Izroth closed the book within his hands as he shut his eyes to organize the information in his head. A few seconds later, he opened his eyes as a new look of clarity could be seen within them.
'That was the last one.'
Izroth had just finished reading all the books on the second floor of the Amaharpe palace library. When he finished the last book, his knowledge level had jumped from 15.21 all the way to 47.65!
'Though, there's still one more book I have left to read.'
Izroth removed a thin book from his inventory. It was the Power of Source book that he received from Orion! Of course, he decided to save the best for last.
As soon as he opened the book, there was only one line on the first page. However, even though it was only a single line, it contained the very definition of a Source.
The first line read, "A unique form of energy whose origins predates time itself. This is Source."
'An energy that predates time itself? Interesting...'