The extensive, dark green area of trees breathed in a cold, silent breeze that would put most inexperienced folks ill at ease.
"Interesting, the time here flows differently than in the outside. There should be time shards powering this world from the inside."
"If you can collect them, you can turn a space treasure of your choice into a space and time treasure."
"What's the ratio?"
"Three days here equals one day in the outside."
Konrad negatively shook his head.
"The risk is too high for such a low reward. Let's not even mention that I can probably obtain a time treasure in a different, more straightforward way. Even if I couldn't, what's the point of snatching something I most likely can't keep upon returning to the outside?
This is clearly asking for trouble."
The Flame Mark had nothing else to say.
Konrad activated his Origin Sight and scanned the area for demonic beasts. His sight could cover a three kilometers radius and detect all life within. Thus, the task was simple.
There were many scattered low-level demonic beasts within the first level, but most remained out of plain sight.
Konrad pulled out the point chart and did a quick calculation.
"Lesser Beast = 1 point
Intermediate Beast = 5 points
Voracious Beast = 10 points
Superior Beast = 50 points
Monstrous Beast = 200 points"
The cultivation system for demonic beasts was naturally different from the other sentient races. However, the number of realms were the same.
Lesser Beasts were equivalent to the Initiate Rank, while Monstrous Beasts matched the Arch Rank.
Unlike humans, demonic beasts naturally grew into magic. Starting with the Voracious Beast Rank, they unlocked spells specific to their own lineage which made them stronger than normal humans of the same level.
"According to the given information, the first level contains Lesser and Intermediate Beasts. The second level contains Voracious and Superior Beasts. As for the third level, it's only Monstrous Beasts."
"Then I suppose the fourth level contains Accursed Beasts."
Equivalent to the Transcendent Rank, Accursed Beasts were not something Konrad could deal with. They were not only powerful creatures, but intelligent and capable of speech.
Therefore, he had no intention to rush into the fourth level and court death. However, he also didn't want to waste time farming low-level monsters when his goal was to tamper himself.
"I will first spend two days within the third level to amass as many points as possible. Then I will return to the first and second to assess the situation. If there are still beasts to hunt, then hunt them I shall."
He rushed toward the edge of the first level, and dived into the second, before making his way toward the third.
If within the first and second level, beasts were aplenty and lurked behind all corners, within the third level, they were much more difficult to spot. However, there still was a fair amount of them.
And they all craved fresh meat.
Konrad's silent arrival at the third level raised no alarm. He lurked within the shadows and used his Origin Sight to choose his prey.
He smiled upon spotting a beast that perfectly fit his current requirements and shot toward it.
The Scarlet Pangolin had just finished tearing his prey to shreds and feasting on its carcass when something emerged from the shadows and struck it with a ferocious kick.
The pangolin was sent spiraling into the air and crashed on a nearby tree. Its stupor didn't last for long, and in a flip, it was back on its limbs with its fuming red eyes locked on the assailants.
Naturally, that assailant was Konrad.
"Not even a dent."
Scarlet Pangolins were known both for their astounding resilience and formidable destructive power. This one was a low-level Monstrous Beast with a battle power similar to a second level Arch Knight. However, even a third level Arch Knight would have a lot of trouble breaking through its hide.
The pangolin made a menacing huff and bared its claws.
It pounced onto Konrad, aiming for his throat at speed inconsistent with its massive build.
Konrad bent to avoid the blow, summoned a two meters long war hammer, and sent it crashing into the pangolin's face.
The beast flew into the air from the impact. Still, the damage was minimal, and before Konrad could get any time to breathe, it was back onto him.
"Your energy is dispersed. Learn to focus it at the edge of your blow, to gather everything within a single point to deliver maximum damage."
The Flame Mark's voice echoed within his mind.
Konrad swirled on one side, causing the pangolin to crash into the ground in a loud explosion of dust, and channeled his spiritual energy within his hammer. His energy overflowed from every pore of his body, wild, and unrestrained.
But now it was time to learn how to restrain and entirely focus it within his blows and moves.
He breathed in, holding his hammer within his hands, and drawing input from his previous battles against the likes of Wenzel, Koloman, and even his small match with Wolfgang.
In particular, Wolfgang's knowledge and experiences were now all within his mind. Knowledge and experiences he could tap in to build his own understanding of spiritual energy control.
However, the pangolin gave him no time to do so.
Red and brown light swirled around its body as it rushed back toward Konrad, intent on tearing him to shreds with terrifying claw strikes.
Using his superior speed, Konrad dodged blows after blows, but staying on the defensive, he kept losing ground and was quickly getting cornered. Droplets of sweats trickled on his forehead.
The pangolin sensed its advantage and threw an all-out frontal blow toward Konrad's chest.
But as the blow approached dangerously close to his heart, Konrad's lips curled into a smile.
"All current can flow backward, all force can be reversed."
He raised his hammer in a counter. The metallic edge colliding with the pangolin's claws in a silent clash.
Yes, no noise spread from the collision. And instead of going berserk, the energy released by the pangolin was absorbed by the hammer and returned with ten times the might.
The Scarlet Pangolin's claws shattered, and it flew backward with blood spurting from its maw and its body shivering from internal damage.
Having regained the initiative, Konrad wasn't going to let it catch its breath. He condensed his spiritual energy at the metallic edge of his hammer and flew at the pangolin to deliver a fatal blow.
Sensing death approaching with great strides, the pangolin slammed the ground with its tail.
Three brown circles appeared around its body and rippled with magical power.
The earth cracked, walls rose to protect the pangolin and resist Konrad's onslaught.
"A third circle spell?"
Spell levels were divided into circles. Before the True Priest Rank, humans couldn't use spells and magical power was more of an embellishment than a useful tool.
Starting with the True Priest Rank, however, they could use first circle spells. At the Arch Priest Rank, third circle spells were the standard. Therefore, Konrad wasn't surprised to see the pangolin able to use one.
He struck the earthen wall with his hammer, shattering it in an ear-splitting blow.
Three new circles appeared around the pangolin, red ones this time. It opened its maw and released massive, scalding pure red flames that caused the surroundings' temperature to skyrocket and flew toward Konrad at breakneck speed.
"Third Circle Spell: Inverted Light Mirror!"
Three white-purple circles emerged by Konrad's side, and in a purple haze, a white-purple light mirror appeared in front of him.
The mirror swallowed all the pangolin's flames and spit them out in a stream of icicles that pierced through the pangolin's scales and nailed it into a tall tree.
Its blood gushed forth, it struggled to free itself, but resistance was futile, and life soon left it.
"No hard feelings."
Konrad collected its skull and left for another prey. But as he got a better grasp of spiritual energy and his Energy Reversal Technique, the third level of the Demonic Beast Forest was turning into hell for those creatures unfortunate enough to fall into his radar.