"I always wanted her to be strong and independent, but now that she's gone, I don't give a damn about all that cr*p. Why didn't Lith stop her? He was still a bit young, but he could still marry if his parents gave their approval."
"That's rich coming from you!" Jirni scoffed. "Maybe if instead of messing with my plans you had helped me, things would be different. Or maybe, Lith knew her well enough to understand he couldn't stop her.
"Nothing is lost, yet. She is in the army and he will join the army in the future. Now, enough sulking. Quylla needs us more than ever."
Lith's house, same moment.
After over six months, Lith and Phillard had reached a critical moment in their endeavour. The impurities in the Kroxy's body were so close to his bright cyan core that they could almost touch.
"Okay, I've done all that I can." Lith said.
"I've brought you over a mana geyser for your training, I have used Invigoration to help you feel the world energy, and pushed the impurities closer to your core whenever it wasn't painful for you. The last step it's on you."
"Don't worry, I can feel resistance but no discomfort." Phillard replied.
Even after all that time, he still had to learn Invigoration. The Kroxy's mana perception was even worse than Lith's when he had just started the academy.
It was only thanks to Lith's training schedule and his natural attunement to magic that Phillard was able to crudely stimulate his own core.
"I swear, this thing feels like I'm taking the biggest sh*t of my life!" Phillard couldn't stop laughing from excitement. He was filled to the brim with an unknown energy that made him euphoric.
Suddenly, the night sky cleared. Phillard's body emitted a blinding radiance, but unlike normal light it didn't spread in all directions, only upwards. Even using darkness magic and his hands as a shield, Lith could barely stand the intensity the light pillar emitted.
It slowly grew in height and width, until a second light pillar descended from the sky. It connected itself with the smaller one coming out from Phillard. The phenomenon gave Lith an oddly familiar sensation.
'This feeling it's too similar to what I experience during my transformations to be a coincidence. What the f*ck is happening?' He thought.
'Beats me.' Solus replied. 'The only thing I know is that Phillard's core is evolving.'
The Kroxy's body started to expand in all directions until his arms became as big as small trees. After that, it only grew in length. When everything was over, Lith was staring at a ten meters (33') long serpentine body covered by emerald scales as big as a small shield.
The head resembled that of a dragon from Earth's fairy tales, with several small horns surrounding the neck area like a mane. Phillard's legs had been replaced by a long tail, while his clawed arms seemed able to rip even a stone house to shreds.
"Yes! I knew it! I always knew I was destined to become…"
The light faded and so did the Evolved Monster's awareness.
"What am I?" He asked to Lith while scratching his gigantic head.
Lith accessed the bestiaries he had copied from the academy and stored inside Soluspedia before answering.
"You are a Lindwurm." He said while clicking his tongue.
"All this work and you're not even a new species. Protector at last isn't derivative."
"I'm not derivative!" Phillard roared. He had no idea what the word meant but he was sure it had to be some kind of insult.
"I'm a…" He stuttered a few times.
"What am I again?"
"A Lindwurm." Lith snarled. "A lesser dragon. Like a wyvern but wingless and with a very long a*s. According to my books, you should possess some kind of toxic breath."
"Really? Cool!" Phillard took a deep breath from the nose, emitting a gurgling sound before spitting an enormous mass of phlegm against the nearest tree.
"Why it's not melting?" The Lindwurm looked at the birch tree like it had betrayed him.
"I said toxic breath, not sputum." Lith replied.
"How do I do that?"
"How should I know? You are the Lindwurm. You'll figure it out." Lith shrugged.
"Ugh! It sounds like a lot of work. Let's spar already!" Phillard towered over Lith standing 5 meters tall while his tail whipped the air in excitement.
"It would be a waste of time. You have just evolved. You have no control over your body, not to mention you suck at magic. Maybe you are physically stronger than me now, but I've killed bigger and more powerful beings than you."
"We'll see!" Phillard darted towards Lith like a train. His new body was much nimbler and faster than the old one. He clapped his huge hands trying to squash the opponent, but once again he only hit the air.
Lith had long learned true dimensional magic, which allowed him to Blink above Phillard's head.
"Bad Lindwurm. Sit!" Lith stamped his left foot using a combination of air, fire, and earth fusion while using air magic to drop down like a meteor. The foot exerted the same impact an elevator in free fall from the sixth floor would.
The dragon like head crashed on the ground with a rumbling sound, creating a small crater on impact.
"I yield." Phillard hated Lith, especially when he was right. The problem was it happened most of the time. Neither of them had used his true strength, but the quick exchange had been more than enough to prove the difference in skill between the two.
"How did you…"
"Magic. Until now you could only use water and earth. I already taught you everything you need to know about first magic and all the other elements. Practice on your own. Our deal is over." Lith said while walking towards his home.
"Wait! I need new axes and something to carry them."
"Why is that my problem?" Lith replied.
"You have nothing I want and I don't work for free." Lith said. "Don't even think about plundering this area. There's nothing valuable and if someone pays me, I'll be more than happy to get rid of you."
"Dude, that's cruel. I never needed money. I don't even know how to get back home. Boss Scarlett Warped me here with one of those fancy portals. Can't you do the same? If earlier going unnoticed was hard, now it's impossible!" Phillard whined.
"Again, not my problem." Lith was tired of dealing with the Lindwurm. He always managed to give him a headache.
"Scourge, was that your doing?" Even though they hadn't met in years, Lith immediately recognized that voice.
"Of course it was me. Nice to finally see you again, Reaper. I was starting to think you were avoiding me."
Reaper the Shyf, one of the two remaining Kings of the woods, didn't reply immediately.
"Actually, I was. Since Protector's disappearance, there is something wrong about you. It scares us greatly."
"What changed your mind?" Lith asked.
"We are desperate for help." Reaper admitted. "You never took interest in your role of King, leaving your turn in our hands. Now that Protector is gone, we lack the strength to defend our land from humans and monsters both.
"Those who replaced the two of you are too weak. Can you help us evolve too? Otherwise it's only a matter of time before something bad happens."