Starfall Year 833, 11th of June. Mount Nissia, the White Sleet Forest, Moldavia.
The pine woodland stood like a triangle between the mountain and the icy plains. They grew on the smaller hills, with a winding river streaming through the trees.
There were not much to be harvested from the foresthunters rarely came by before Winter Fort Academy was built. So, there were many creatures that lived here, many of them magical.
Starlight could now be glimpsed between the branches. Night was coming, and the southern wind that seems to gain strength every passing moment was blowing away the layers of cloud.
It was time for the nocturnal mystical creatures to come alive, and deep within the trees, a dim blue light was flashing on a fallen tree that was decaying.
As the moonlight brightened in the absence of clouds, the luminosity became more and more obvious. With sloshing sounds of viscous liquid, a rubbery object half the height of a man that resembled a popsicle slipped out of the gaps between the tree bark to quietly absorb mana from the moonlight.
It was a soft living thing that resembles a latex, the most famous and weakest magical being in the worlda slime.
From the appearance, this was a Snow Slime that inhabited cold regions.
Like a jellyfish, it did not possess a brain and merely moved around instinctively. However, their species had incredible adaptability that allows them and their variants to survive in any environment.
Whether it was the depths of the ocean, glaciers, swamps or volcanic springs, it would live and as long as there is liquid.
Some mage scholars believed that slimes evolved from land jellyfish that lived during prehistoric eras of rampant seismic activity. Still, that notion was unsupported by evidence, with the Guardian over the Mermaids and the Deepest Seas (Deity of the Oceans) having even refuted it.
Others wrote more horrific theses. They believe slimes were an ancient supreme lifeform formed from the blood of primordial dragons. Though this belief was as ridiculous as the last, there seemed to be several bases for it.
For one, such a weak creature actually carried huge amounts of mana. It was the only known creature, albeit being of a lower level, that could stay alive in locations with heavy magical radiation, and could also reproduce while evolving rapidly depending on the mana concentration there.
That being said, slimes are slimes. They are basically a bunch of rubbery mixture of water and mana that stood at the very bottom of the food chain.
Many other beings consider them a premium beveragewhich was why they rarely reach maturity and are rather few in number.
Most slimes hid in dark corners, absorbing dew and mana to grow. Since they lacked a brain they could not answer the summons of the Dark Tide to attack human fortresses. War was also the one-time slimes could gain a significant advantage, and through the acquisition of dead daemon flesh as well as mana they would grow instantly, split, and spread on a terrifying scale within a short period.
And that was exactly what was happening right now. After the more powerful creatures in the White Sleet Forest were chased off several days ago by human mages, they started to flourish in the absence of most of their natural predators.
On the tree barks, this snow slime was quietly absorbing mana and was preparing to undergo mitosis.
It did not notice a pair of grey eyes fixed upon it.
Ivan Makarov, the young wizard from Winter Fort Academy clenched his rather crude magical staff and waited for a chance to attack. His target was the only magical creature in the areathe rather big blob that moved slowly before him.
Today was the second day of the survival test of Winter Fort Academy. All students were banned from bringing food along while being told to hunt or harvest for sustenance.
It was therefore an advantage for Ivan, the son of a hunter. He naturally knew how to sustain himself in the northern woods, and caught two-days portion of rabbit and squirrel with several simple traps.
However, that might not be enough. According to the notice, he must hunt on magical creatures to score high marks in the assessmentjust living through the hostile environment was not enough.
In this environment, the stronger magical creatures had already been chased off. All that was left were slime, sleet butterflies, and giant boars.
Of those three, the giant boars were the most powerful but also the rarest. The range in which they roam was also vast, which was why they were not a priority.
As for sleet Butterflies, they were simply too small and inedible. Their innate ability [Icepick] was also too dangerous for adepts, which was why they were out of the equation too.
In short, the only target left were slimesweak, slow, common and also edible.
The best target.
That, of course, begs the questioncould slimes be eaten?
The short answer is, it depends.
Slimes that inhabit volcanic zones, absorbing magma laced with sulfur, as well as heavy metals, were definitely harmful, and so were swamp slimes. But for most slimes that live in forests that grew on sap and fruits, they are both edible and nutritious.
As a mixture of mana and water, slimes could be processed into beginner-level potions that regenerates mana instantly. Ivan knows this as an initiate, which was why if he were to keep using spells or take down larger targets, he could not spare the ice slime in front of him.
“Landscape, unknown factors, the possibility of slime’s retaliation, route of retreat”
Running through every scenario in its entirely, Ivan fixed his hair a little so that it would not get in the way of his vision in the coming battle.
His fingers tightening over the magic staff, he focused and let mana flow across his body in preparation of his first spell.
“Joshua, what do you think?”
In the air above the forest bombarded by biting-cold winds, two silhouettes overlooked the land from above the clouds, their eyes seeking out one of the many flames of life.
Nostradamus, whose eyes were whirling with a soft-blue shade of mana, had been observing every student, noticed that the warrior who stood beside him was not replying. “What do you think about these kids?” He pressed.
“ What do I think?” Joshua narrowed his eyes and repeated. After pondering for a moment, he shook his head. “Inexperienced. They’re almost immature when it comes to survival, hunting, and combat.”
“Most of them had chosen to stay in lairs or caves, and even their bonfires were mistaken, and made without considering the direction of the winds and poisonous bugs Still, let’s talk combat.”
Simply raising a finger, the warrior gestured for the old mage to look towards Ivan. “That rascal,” he said softly, “is thinking about getting that slime’s bodily fluidswhich automatically rules out fire and lightning spells.”
“But it’s a snow slime, which means it’s immune to frost. That means more than half the spells a novice magician has in their disposal is useless, and all that’s left are arcane missiles.”
At that, Joshua smiled in malicious glee. “Without having being ever involved in live combat, how would a learner know that all slimes could absorb mana to a certain extent? They could be immune to fireballs or lightning boltsso what was a little magical projectile to them?”
“Precisely,” Nostradamus was lamenting a little, and nodded as he looked towards Ivan too. “Most of the students felt that the giant boars are the strongest magical creatures through appearance alone.”
“In truth, slimes with their anti-magic abilities are the true hated enemies of low-level magicians. Boars, on the other hand, can be paralyzed with a simple lightning bolt. Guess this could be a little lesson that teaches them not to buy into appearances entirely.”
“Well, it’s not half bad,” Joshua shrugged. Though he showed no leniency at the students’ mistake, the warrior was not unhappy, but felt rather pleased. “Showing such performance outside the academy in the forest is already quite excellent.”
“Indeed,” Nostradamus’s wrinkled face relaxed slightly. In the forest, they watched as the young mage lost the initiative when his arcane missile proved ineffective. Nevertheless, he stayed composed, and used the complicated landscape to enter a skirmish against the slime.
The old mage smiled at the child’s persistence. “They’re good kids.”
A gigantic ship painted in a sacred white color that looks extremely sturdy was sailing against the violent winds and tides of the Southern Sea.
Night at the Anos Abyss was hell. Dizzying gales assaulted the waters, raising huge currents as clouds of gloom surge and bombarded the craft with stinging, cold rain. The salty waters and vapors shrouded everything, concealing all from sight.
The power from the Deep Abyss was at work, stirring the oceans, forming vortices of all sizes and stormy weathers all day long.Any ships making their way here that was not sturdy enough would be ensnared by the storm, while the souls of dead sailors would be bound to it by evil, wandering these waters forever in the darkness.
Still, it was clear that this white ark would not be lost to these waves easily. There were compactly arranged holy runes on the hull that resists the terrible weather and the malevolence behind it.
There was also a spherical precious gem half the size of a man above its crow nest. It releases positive energy that scorches like the sun, illuminating the sea within the radius of a kilometer and shining through abyssal rain and vapor.
Beside the stone were whirling formations of divine spells, boosting and guiding its power as it calmed the surrounding storm and sent it in the right direction.
If Joshua were here he would be surprised to find out that the stone was the Nuclear Star that once hung atop the great hall of Morlaix Palace.
But it was now here.
A murmur came from the deck, the most dangerous place onboard right now.
The raging winds and the dark waters could quick push bodies on the deck into the sea. In this weather, that was death for anyone not strong enoughthere was no way the crew could find them under these conditions.
And the blonde knight in white armor who was groaning on the deck was clearly powerful enough. He simply stood at the bow, staring with a deep glare at the furthest part of the darkness, unaffected by gale or wave.
“Roland. Why the sigh?” Another man who was fearless against the storm stood beside him. His enchanted armor was silver and on his waist was a huge cross-hammer.
“Perhaps you’re afraid that the plan would not be a success?” He then asked with a calm voice that could be heard despite the harsh weather.
“A little, Commander Robzek.” Roland admittedly crisply without hesitation. “The squall in the Anos Abyss is getting worse by the minute, and the tidal waves seemed to be coming through despite the magic circles on the [Epoch], and the Nuclear Star borrowed from the Empire isn’t holding. Lookits glow is dimming under the power of the deep abyss.”
“Apart from the Nuclear Star, we still have other sacred items to curb the effect of the Deep Abyss and keep us in the right direction.” The middle-aged silver-haired knight Robzek shook his head and replied his junior calmly.
“We still have time too. If this journey fails, we will turn back and prepare at the Sacred Mountain. And we’ll try as many times until we find the [Central Vortex].
“But I’m not worried about those things” Sighing lightly again, Roland frowned and looked towards the black ocean.
Between the moving clouds of gloom, thunders rolled. Green lightning streaked across the sky, but was not enough to illuminate the screen of rain and fog.
This was his third expedition after leaving Moldovia and returning to the Sacred Mountain.
In each journey, the [Epoch] sailed a little shorter under the storm. It was not the ship getting far too damaged, but the power of darkness was simply becoming stronger in this part of the ocean.
Even before they could reach the Central Vortex, the Nuclear Star was already showing signs of being overwhelmed. And should they discover the location of the Vortex, what holy items they possess could hold against such concentrated Abyssal Power? Would they really need His Holiness the Pope to come himself and wave that pure-white staff in his hand?
Roland shook his head at the mere thought. All of it was unrealisticPope Igor had to prepare for the assault of the dragon plague, and his sacred item must be prepared for that moment.
Everything they had now was simply one notch weaker, which was why it would not withstand the evil power of the Anos Abyss.
It was at this moment that he could not help but remember the familiar face of a friend.
If that friend was here, his power would be more useful than the Nuclear Star. His Order energy was unquestionably a natural antithesis of the Abyssal force.
The holy knight then recalled the words they shared in parting.
“It’s a little difficult to accept this sort of thinking.” The black-haired red-eyed warrior smiled as he chugged down more wine. “But never hesitate to find me if you need my help. Find me anytimeI’d never refuse a friend’s invite.”
“Maybe,” Roland muttered to himself softly, and nodded towards the raging dark sea.