Book 2, Growing Up, Chapter 2 – A Clumsy Method (Part 1)

“Linley, don’t be discouraged. I only meant to say that there is no way for you to forcibly subdue him, I didn’t say that it is impossible to tame him at all.” Doehring Cowart laughed self-indulgently. “If he was an adult Shadowmouse, I probably wouldn’t be able to help, but…he’s just a baby Shadowmouse. As a Saint-level Grand Magus, I have some methods which can be effective in dealing with a baby Shadowmouse. In addition, there is no need for a soul-binding magical formation.”

Linley’s calm mind immediately grew agitated again, and he turned to look at Doehring Cowart with shining eyes.

“Grandpa Doehring, quick, tell me, what’s your plan?” Linley excitedly spoke to him mentally.

Doehring Cowart said with a self-satisfied smile, “It’s simple. The ‘soul-binding’ technique used by the soul-binding magical formation creates a master-servant bond. And naturally, if one can subdue a magical beast, one is qualified to become its master. Right now, there’s no way for us to initiate a ‘master-servant bond’, so we can only take a step back…and initiate a ‘bond of equals’ with the Shadowmouse.”

“Bond of equals?” Linley said curiously. “What is that? I’ve never heard of it.”

“It’s normal for you not to have heard of it. Even five thousand years ago, during the era in which I lived, very few people know about the ‘bond of equals’.” Doehring Cowart’s eyes crinkled as he smiled. “A bond of equals represents that you and the magical beast share the same status in the relationship, with no one being the master or being the servant. As a matter of fact, a ‘bond of equals’ will give you a more intimate relationship with your magical beast, and your magical beast will more whole-heartedly assist you, giving the two of you superior teamwork.”

Linley now understood.

“Oh? Grandpa Doehring, from your words, it sounds like there’s a lot of advantages to this ‘bond of equals’. Why don’t most people use it?” Linley queried.

Doehring Cowart laughed loudly. “Because, the ‘bond of equals’ is not initiated by people. Rather, it is initiated by the magical beast.”

“Initiated by the magical beast?!” Linley was stunned.

No wonder there was no need for setting up a soul-binding magical formation. This bond was initiated by the magical beast itself. Doehring Cowart continued, “Every single magical beast, upon birth, has the ability to initiate a ‘bond of equals’, but in their entire life, a magical beast may only enter this bond a single time. It isn’t like the soul-binding master-servant relationship, where once the master dissolves the relationship, someone else can use another soul-binding technique to tame the beast again.”

Linley nodded.

“But it is extremely difficult to convince a magical beast to willingly initiate the ‘bond of equals’,” Doehring Cowart continued more seriously. “You need to convince a magical beast that you are like family and make it decide that it cannot bear to part from you. Only then would it willingly enter a ‘bond of equals’ with you.”

Linley slightly nodded.

“Adult magical beasts have very high intelligence, so if you want to move the heart of an adult magical beast and make it view you as family, it is almost impossible.” Doehring Cowart sighed. “But juveniles are different. It is much like how human babies have low intelligence and can easily be tricked into liking you by, say, giving them some tasty food. The intelligence of magical beast babies is even lower. As long as you often feed him, he will like you. Then, spend some time playing with him. In a short period of time, this magical beast will come to adore you. This is especially true for an infant magical beast who has been separated from his community. Those are even easier to tame.”

Hearing Doehring Cowart’s words, Linley felt as though a great weight had been lifted from him.

“So it’s just a matter of coaxing a little kid.” Linley laughed.

He was extremely experienced in this. Ever since he was young, he accompanied his younger brother, Wharton, playing with him and coaxing him. Linley was very much a master in the art.

“Linley, don’t be too cocky. If you want to coax an infant magical beast, you have to pay attention to many details. If you aren’t careful, this little Shadowmouse might just give you a bite.” Doehring Cowart reminded.

“Give me a bite?”

Linley looked at the far-off Shadowmouse. The sound of it crunching through rocks could be heard from afar. The Shadowmouse was chewing through it as easily as he normally would’ve chewn through bread. Linley didn’t question the sharpness of the teeth of this Shadowmouse in the slightest.

“Then what should I do?” Linley immediately lost his confidence.

“Relax. Based on my method, you won’t have any problems at all. Based on this ‘clumsy idea’ that I have, all you need is time and patience. Don’t get agitated or impatient.” Doehring Cowart slowly began to explain his ‘clumsy idea’. “Linley, a Shadowmouse is an omnivore; it will eat anything. Bones, rocks, meat. But its favorite food is still meat, especially roasted meat. This is based on the experience of elders.”

“Therefore, just go up Mt. Wushan to kill some beasts, then place the cooked meat far away from him on the ground. Remember. Do not try to get near him. Each time he eats, wait for him to approach you.” Doehring Cowart laughed. “If you try to approach him, it might cause him to attack you out of fear! But if he approaches you, then there won’t be any danger at all.”

“This method is clumsy, but very safe.” Doehring Cowart said with a smile.

Linley understood.

This method really was a bit clumsy, but it was also simple and direct.

“Grandpa Doehring, won’t this Shadowmouse run all over the place?” Linley was worried that if he went and got some roasted meat, he might come back to find the Shadowmouse had gone. There would be nothing he could do then.

“Who can say? It all comes down to your luck. But I believe that in a short period of time, it won’t go anywhere.” Doehring Cowart said.

“Fine, I’ll go kill some wild beasts.” Linley nodded, then quickly ran towards Mt. Wushan. His footsteps were very sure, but strangely made no sound at all. This was the proof of one’s ability as a earth-style magus.

After departing from the back gate of the manor, Linley began to run at a normal pace, and his footsteps began to sound again.

“Young master Linley, headed to the back mountain again?” Uncle Hiri, broom in hand, was dusting the floor. He saw Linley and smiled at him.

“Yup.” Linley assented as he sped up his pace.

Over the past half year, Linley had been going to Mt. Wushan to train in magecraft almost every afternoon. No one else knew that he was training in magecraft, of course. But they all knew that in the afternoons, Linley liked to spend his spare time playing in the mountains.

…..

Autumn. Most of the trees on Mt. Wushan had shed their leaves, but there were still many evergreen trees, as well as some maple trees covered in deep red leaves.

A vigorous, nimble shadow could be seen piercing through the mountain forests. Linley ran silently but nimbly and fast. After having absorbed earth essence for half a year, Linley didn’t just possess mageforce; his physical strength had been raised as well.

By this point in time, Linley’s body was comparable to the average 15-16 year old in Wushan township, and possessed the strength of a warrior of the first rank.

There were many squirrels and rabbits on Mt. Wushan, while there weren’t many fierce beasts. This was the reason why most adults didn’t worry too much about their children playing in the mountain. After all, Mt. Wushan was a fairly small mountain, with very few large animals, much less magical beasts.

Linley’s footsteps suddenly halted, as he saw up ahead a dull-yellow colored rabbit eating grass.

Even a very cautious wild rabbit wasn’t able to detect Linley in the slightest.

“Wild rabbits have a fast reaction time, and run fast also. Best if I use magic.” Linley immediately began to chant the words to a magical incantation.

Linley felt that in the center of his chest, a small gust of earth-style mageforce began to throb. Most warriors stored their battle-qi approximately 10 centimeters below their navel, but magi stored their mageforce directly in the middle of their chests, at the middle of a line between their nipples. But spiritual energy, of course, was stored in their head.

It didn’t make much of a difference if a magical incantation was mumbled or shouted. The only thing that mattered was making sure one’s spiritual energy was guided by the energies released by the incantation.

In scant seconds, Linley finished his incantation, and his eyes lit up as he stared at the hare.

Earth-style, magic of the first rank – Earth Spike!

Poof!

A sharp spike of earth erupted from directly beneath the wild hare, piercing directly into its chest. Scarlet blood flowed out, dying its soft fur. Shocked at the ambush, the hare immediately began to struggle, but all it succeeded in doing was make itself lose blood even faster.

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