Lumian didn't have the luxury of resting for too long. He had to keep moving, for fear that other monsters might come. After taking a moment to catch his breath, he endured the pain in his neck and back and slowly approached the monster's corpse.
He held the axe tightly in his right hand, ready to strike again if the creature wasn't fully dead.
After cautiously searching the body with his left hand, he found three copper coins called "lick" and an empty cloth bag.
"That's it?" Lumian muttered to himself, disappointed that he hadn't found anything related to superpowers.
If it wasn't for that, would he have risked his life fighting this monster?
If Lumian wasn't special in the dream, he would have been nothing more than the monster's meal.
He propped himself up and looked towards the shotgun monster's head that had rolled to the side, praying that what he was searching for was there.
In that moment, a deep crimson glow materialized over the monster's body.
They resembled fireflies, gradually converging towards a single spot in an unyielding fashion.
Lumian gawked in disbelief, as a sense of elation began to well up inside of him.
This phenomenon had to be connected to superpowers!
Without much delay, a sticky, dark red substance materialized on the monster's chest, and no additional light specks came into view.
Lumian cautiously crouched down and made a grab for the blob.
It was incredibly slippery, slipping through his grasp twice before he finally managed to hold it in his palm.
It's remarkably lightweight, yet possesses a certain texture and elasticity. The surface feels as smooth as glass...
"What the hell is this?" Lumian muttered to himself, realizing once more that he was completely illiterate when it came to matters of the mystical.
In the midst of hushed whispers, Lumian caught a whiff of something strange and dark-red that reeked of blood. His impatience grew, and an indescribable malice took over his body.
For a moment, he wanted nothing more than to raise his axe and hack at the monster's corpse until his violent emotions were spent.
But Aurore's warning about the dangers of pursuing superpowers echoed in his mind, and he quickly reined in his impulses. He had taken precautions to monitor himself and remain vigilant at all times, and he wouldn't let his guard down now.
It affects my mind? Lumian tossed the dark red blob into the cloth bag he had found on the monster.
The moment he lost contact with it, he felt a wave of calm wash over him, dissipating the remaining excitement of the deathmatch.
His body still trembled slightly, but he was back in control.
"As expected!" Lumian whispered happily as he returned to his senses.
He tied the cloth bag tightly and secured it to his belt buckle.
After a moment's consideration, Lumian withdrew the cloth bag and stowed it safely in the inner pocket of his leather jacket.
It provided him a sense of assurance and minimized the chances of losing it!
As the buttons on his clothes were undone, the book that had been plastered to Lumian's back lost its support and hit the ground.
It was riddled with potholes and in tatters, a far cry from its former state.
Lumian recognized it as the "Mock Examination Papers for Higher Education Admission" exercise book that his sister Aurore had prepared for him. This was the same book that had saved his life by blocking a shotgun attack.
Of course, this single book didn't deserve all the credit.
Lumian picked up the exercise book and sauntered back to the monster's lifeless body, a wry smile on his face.
"See, knowledge is indeed power!" he said, intending to throw it at the monster's face. But then he hesitated, recalling the countless hours Aurore had spent writing it. He couldn't bring himself to toss it away.
Instead, he tucked the exercise book into his belt, dragged the monster's corpse to the trap, and flung it inside. Lumian kicked the monster's head for good measure.
With the battlefield cleared, Lumian gathered his tools, including the empty shotgun, his pitchfork, and shovel, and retreated into the wilderness.
He looked over his shoulder as he walked, ever-vigilant.
Eventually, he made it back to his house, climbed the stairs, and entered his bedroom.
It was only then that he truly relaxed. The agony that had been gnawing at his body, the obvious discomfort, and the overwhelming exhaustion all erupted at once.
He slumped down on the bed, taking a moment to recover. But he didn't want to sleep just yet. He needed to assess the damage. Lumian stripped off his clothes and walked over to the wardrobe, checking himself out in the full-body mirror.
His neck was swollen, and the five bloody finger marks on it had turned an ominous shade of bluish-black. His back was bruised, and there were countless scrapes and cuts all over his body.
Even some of my injuries are internal, just like Aurore had warned me. I wonder if I'll recover by the next time I come in? He couldn't help but reflect on the battle. It was a failure, but not a total failure.
In the first half of the battle, he gave himself a pat on the back. Not only did he make full use of the monster's low IQ to lead it into the second trap, but he also followed his original plan to a tee. It was a game of cat and mouse, and he played it to perfection. He dragged the monster out until it was on the brink of surrendering to its injuries. However, his lack of experience was his downfall. Instead of throwing in heavy rocks, he chose to stab the monster with a pitchfork at the bottom of the pit.
In the second half of the battle, he was overconfident and underestimated the monster's intelligence. His insufficient combat experience made him fall into the monster's trap, which almost got him killed.
That performance would have been a disaster. Thankfully, his earlier successes had pushed the monster to its limit, and it didn't kill him quickly enough. This gave him a chance to complete his meditation and summon his "special trait".
Before this battle, Lumian had not expected the "special trait" to have such a powerful effect. It caused the monster to descend into uncontrollable fear, one so unbreakable despite suffering attacks.
He had worried that the near-death state brought about by summoning the "special trait" would make him vulnerable to attack.
But it turned out to be special and very strong... As Lumian sighed, he had a revelation.
The monsters in the ruins avoided his house and made it a "safe zone" because there was something even more terrifying inside. It could be the owner of the mysterious voice he heard when he summoned the "special trait"!
Lumian gasped at the thought.
His subconscious urged him to search every corner of the house for the terrifying thing, but he quickly dismissed the idea.
Provoking the being that even the shotgun-wielding monster was helpless against was not an option.
For now, all was calm and peaceful, and it was best to keep it that way. He had to maintain the current state of the "safe house" and not uncover the shroud.
Each passing day was a day, and as for the dangers that may lie ahead, he would face them when the time came.
Not until then, not until I become a Beyonder and gain significant power. Lumian cast his gaze at the cloth bag in his left hand.
Even as Lumian examined his injuries in the mirror, shirtless, he refused to let go of the source of superpowers. He had worked too hard to obtain it.
How should I use this thing? he asked himself, opening the cloth bag and staring at the dark red blob within.
The blob lay still at the bottom of the bag, its form unstable yet clearly not alive.
Lumian, who knew nothing of mysticism, wondered if he should eat it, perform a ritual to merge with it, or offer it to some secret entity.
He only knew of the latter two options from reading Hidden Veil. In the past, he would have only thought of one thing: "Eat!"
Lumian didn't rush to make a decision. He intended to seek counsel from the enigmatic lady at Ol' Tavern first.
He was convinced that the woman would provide him with clues on how to harness the power of the dark red sphere and gain superhuman abilities.
Lumian sensed that the other party had a reason for doing so, despite not knowing what it was.
If things didn't pan out, he could still count on his sister for help. 𝑖𝐧𝓷𝓇𝙚𝙖d. c𝚘𝐦
After dressing leisurely, Lumian stowed the lump of crimson in his coat pocket, along with all the cash he'd acquired.
Finally, he collapsed onto the bed, too drained to move. Despite the agony in his neck, back, and body, overwhelming fatigue seized him, and he drifted off to sleep in a flash.
As Lumian opened his eyes, he was blinded by the sunlight that had already penetrated the curtains, illuminating the entire room.
Slowly sitting up, he felt sore all over, as if he had been pummeled in a dream.
I was indeed beaten up badly... The injuries in the dream really get reflected into reality, but there's an obvious level of weakening... Trying to move around, he felt his muscles aching a little but was ultimately relieved that he wasn't too affected.
However, when he reached into his pockets--
"Nothing... Nothing at all!" Lumian failed to exit with the crimson blob.
His expression became solemn, his brows knitted tightly. Lumian didn't know what to do.
The crimson blob, an item that promised superpowers, hadn't followed him into reality. This was different from what the mysterious woman at Ol' Tavern had said.
Lumian gathered himself, quickly changed his clothes, and left his room.
As he walked down the hall, he noticed that the door to the washroom was wide open. Aurore was facing the mirror, brushing her teeth with a serious look on her face.
"Morning," Lumian greeted.
"It's not early anymore. You got up late..." Aurore muttered incoherently.
Splat! Her blond hair, tied back into a ponytail, flicked about as she spit out the liquid in her mouth.
She turned to look at Lumian.
"What did you do wrong last night?"
"That owl is outside. How would I dare go out?" Lumian responded calmly.
"That's true." Aurore dropped the topic and said, "Remember to take five verl d'or to the administrator to send a telegram later."
This was the key to their escape from Cordu, and it was something he would never forget.
After breakfast, Lumian headed straight to the village square where the administrator's office was located in a two-story building.
Upon reaching the office, Lumian discovered that Administrator B??ost had yet to arrive, but the rest of the staff had already commenced their day's work.
Lumian paid the required fee and promptly sent a telegram. After concluding his business, Lumian turned on his heel and began walking towards the Ol' Tavern.
It was highly unlikely that the enigmatic woman was already up and about, but Lumian was more than happy to bide his time.
His pursuit of superpowers had been a prolonged one, so a few more ticks on the clock didn't faze him.
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