“Linley, it’s actually you! This is great!” A happy voice rang out, and a skinny young man began jogging towards them at high speed. This youth was the skinny warrior whom Linley had met on his way towards the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. Of the other two people he had met, his classmate Delsarte and the big, burly Kava had both died.
Back then, when facing the wind-style magus-archer, Linley had utilized the earth-style spell ‘Earthen Spear Array’. The skinny warrior of the fifth rank, Matt, had seized the opportunity to immediately flee. But Linley didn’t really care that he had ran away. After all, him and Matt didn’t have any special relationship.
Honestly speaking, of the three people he had encountered, the only one Linley genuinely felt friendly towards was his own classmate, Delsarte. That big fellow, Kava, had also made a good impression on Linley. Linley didn’t have any special feelings for Matt.
“Oh, it’s Matt. I didn’t expect that the two of us would meet again in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts after a month had passed.” Linley was still quite calm.
Matt appeared very excited. “This is wonderful. This month, on numerous occasions, I was almost overcome by the magical beasts here. Fortunately, my luck was not too bad. Whoah – is that a Bloodthirsty Warpig? Linley, you were able to kill a Bloodthirsty Warpig? You really are formidable!”
“I’m getting a bit hungry. I’ve heard that the flesh of both the Bloodthirsty Warpig as well as the Vampiric Iron Bull are both extremely flavorful, and that it has a wonderfully chewy texture as well. I haven’t had lunch yet. You wouldn’t mind sharing some Warpig flesh with me, would you?” Matt joked.
The Bloodthirsty Warpig was huge in size, with its corpse weighing at least several hundred kilograms. Even ten people wouldn’t be able to finish it all.
“Of course not.” Linley withdrew his knife and began slicing off parts of the Warpig.
“Linley, no need to trouble yourself. This Bloodthirsty Warpig corpse is part of your spoils of war. How can I trouble you to butcher it as well? Let me do it. My roasting abilities are quite formidable.” Matt immediately headed towards the Warpig corpse and withdrew a knife from his side.
Playing with the knife, Matt began to expertly butcher the Warpig, although he only cut off the four legs, tongue, and tail. He then began to wash these pieces in the nearby spring.
“Boss, he seems to be quite skilled. He doesn’t seem to be any weaker than you in this respect.” The little Shadowmouse, Bebe, leapt onto Linley’s shoulders and mentally said to Linley.
Glancing at the little Shadowmouse, Bebe, on his shoulders, Linley couldn’t help but sigh with gratitude. When others saw this little tiny black mouse, perhaps they would just think that it was an ordinary little Shadowmouse, of little threat. But in reality…
Linley could still recall how the terrifying sight of how the enraged Bebe so easily slaughtered that dark assassin, as well as that ‘kind’ young girl.
“Can’t judge a person by his appearance. Same goes for magical beasts.” Linley sighed to himself.
Matt quite quickly began to set up his roasting apparatus, and also withdrew some rough cooking salts and seasonings from his pouch. “Linley, these Warpig legs will definitely be very tasty. Its tongue, as well, is both soft and fragrant. The flavor of a Warpig tail is quite good as well.”
As he spoke, Matt had chopped both the tail and the tongue into multiple pieces. Linley watched as Matt used flints to light a fire, not stepping in to help despite being in possession of fire-style mageforce. He watched Matt quickly and constantly roast each piece.
After a period of time.
“It’s about time. Have a taste.” Matt quite enthusiastically handed a large chunk of Warpig leg meat to Linley.
But in turn, Linley flipped the Warpig meat around and offered it to Bebe. Bebe immediately accepted it happily, and began to chomp away in earnest. This Warpig leg was perhaps three or four times larger than Bebe, but in a short period of time, Bebe totally devoured all of the meat.
This sight caused Matt to gape in astonishment.
“He really is a magical beast. Even a little black Shadowmouse can eat so much.” Matt sighed while offering a piece of roasted Warpig tongue to Linley. “Linley, have a taste of my artisanship.”
Linley smiled as he declined. “No need. I’m not used to eating tongues. Some of that leg meat will do just fine.” Linley took one of the other legs and began to eat without any reservations. Next to him, Matt laughed. “Then I won’t force you. If you won’t eat it, I will. Haha.”
As though enjoying himself very much, Matt began to eat the roasted Warpig tongue and tail.
By the time that Linley had finished eating the Warpig leg, Matt hadn’t taken a single bite of it yet.
“You are done already? Haha, fine then. I’m half-full now anyhow. I’ll save this Warpig leg for when I am hungry.” Matt withdrew an oilcloth from his backpack and placed the Warpig leg inside it, then replaced the cloth within his backpack.
Linley glanced at Matt.
It seemed as though Matt wanted to travel alongside him.
“Matt, here in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, I’m fine training by myself. Let’s part ways here.” Linley said directly.
Matt immediately frowned. “Linley, this place is extremely dangerous. It’d be much safer if we travelled together. Honestly speaking, during this past month, I’ve been frightened during every combat encounter. I’m not even able to sleep well.”
“Then do as you wish.”
Linley didn’t mince words. He immediately headed deeper into the mountains, while Matt, smiling, followed him. But when his gaze fell upon the backpack Linley was carrying, a slightly sinister light shone in his eyes.
“This backpack is different from the one Linley was carrying a month ago. And it seems much fuller as well.” Matt sneered to himself, but he still smiled in a very friendly manner. Matt was not the same as Linley. Before entering these mountains, he had trained himself in other places for many times.
Matt sped up his pace. Smiling, he said, “Linley, you really are a wonderful fellow. Travelling with you, I feel much safer. After all, two people together are much stronger than two people separate. At night, the two of us can take turns sleeping. There’s no need for us to both be on full alert at night.”
Linley was silent. His gaze was always focused on his surroundings, carefully keeping an eye out for the magical beasts in these mountains.
They slowly made their way north, as Linley no longer dared to go further east. If they travelled further east, they would be entering the dangerous parts of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. Currently, in this area, Linley would only encounter magical beasts of the fifth or sixth rank.
This entire time, Matt followed by his side, seemingly quite happy.
Two days later.
It was late at night, and the world was dark. Linley and Matt continued going forward in a single file line.
“Linley, do you think it’s about time for us to go back yet? Honestly speaking, we’ve spent about enough time here in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts.” Matt said in a soft voice as he followed Linley’s trail.
Linley just calmly shook his head, not making a sound.
Matt felt a hint of anger. “Every night, this Linley fellow is extremely careful. He isn’t giving me any opportunities at all.” Matt didn’t have any confidence in his ability to kill Linley. After all, being able to survive here for so long was a proof of Linley’s abilities.
“Hrm?” Linley seemed to have noticed something special. He turned around and stared at a copse of trees not too far away. Within that copse of trees, there was a hidden, indistinct shadow lying in wait.
Matt, next to Linley, saw him turn his head, presenting his back to Matt. A look of greed appeared in Matt’s eyes, as well as a look of excitement. In a practiced manner, Matt suddenly drew his dagger and without any hesitation at all, stabbed towards Linley’s back….
Linley suddenly turned and grabbed Matt by the wrist of his right hand, which was holding the dagger. At the same time, he stared coldly at Matt. His voice even colder, he asked, “What do you think you are doing?”
“You!” Matt was shocked. He couldn’t believe that his attempted sneak attack had apparently been noticed and blocked.
Matt immediately smiled at Linley instead. “What do I think I’m doing? O mighty genius magus, let me tell you…I am going to kill you.” Matt was totally confident in himself. With the two of them in such close proximity, how could he, a warrior of the fifth rank, be unable to kill a magus of the fifth rank?
Matt suddenly exerted some strength with his right arm, and he began to blaze with battle-qi, forcibly shaking off Linley’s grip.
“Die!” Matt stared at Linley as he stabbed again at Linley with his dagger.
A terrifying sound! “What?!” Matt heard the noise, and he couldn’t help but shudder. And then, Matt saw a very small black shadow appear in front of him.
“What…what is this?” Matt could tell that this black shadow was actually the little Shadowmouse, Bebe, which spent every day on Linley’s shoulders. The little Shadowmouse opened his mouth wide, revealing a mouth filled with a horrifying number of sharp teeth, and directly chomped down towards Matt’s face.
Matt immediately tried to retreat at high speed, while also jerking his head away.
The little Shadowmouse’s speed was far faster than Matt had imagined. How could Matt dodge? The little Shadowmouse reached out with his right paw, waving his sharp, knife-like talons at Matt’s head. With but a single swipe, half of Matt’s neck was removed from his body, and blood spurted out wildly.
“Urk…gurgle…” Clasping a hand to what remained of his neck, Matt’s eyes were as wide as an ox. His disbelieving, terrified eyes were fixed upon the little Shadowmouse, and in his heart, he was utterly shocked. “Shadowmouse? Is this a Shadowmouse?”
As he fell into death and as his consciousness dissipated, Matt was still filled with terror and disbelief. He had prepared so long to make this move, but he hadn’t figured the little Shadowmouse into his plans.
A dark-colored Shadowmouse was the weakest level of Shadowmouse.
But at the moment of his death, Matt finally realized that the adorable little Shadowmouse was actually a terrifying monster.
Matt’s hands fell lifelessly from his throat to his sides, and then he himself collapsed as well. His fresh blood stained his clothes and stained the ground.