5 Lightwood Fortress Journey

As Etienne had predicted, Storm spontaneously swooped over Seran's head after the two travelers had reached the road. The latter irritably shouted after the big crow, which circled back around to land on Etienne's shoulder with a high-and-mighty posture. The chief just smiled and gave Storm a couple of small scratches on his chest, which made the big crow look goofy as his beak opened like a dog would when it was scratched just right.

[You know, you should be paying more attention to your minimap...] William continued to ingest more and more information from the database, including the hidden locations, along with major hubs to add to the World Map.

Seran didn't answer that, as he knew William was correct. As he glared at the crow, who proceeded to look haughty, the boy thought, "Hey, are there any abilities to purify bloodlines, or to evolve creatures?"

[Of course, but the prerequisite is that it can only be used on tamed ones. You can't use them on untamed creatures. At least, not without having the highest grade of Beast Mastery... Speaking of which, you still need to use your skill points.]

Seran had already gotten started on it when William mentioned it, and after using his skill points, his skills had changed.

--

Skills:

All Weapon Proficiency: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Master Thief: 3/10 (Combined from multiple skills)

Silent Steps: 7/10

Hand-to-Hand Combat: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Exotic Weapon Proficiency: 1/10

Spellcasting Proficiency: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Blacksmith: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Enchanting: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

First Aid: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Cooking: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Crafting: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Tailoring: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Herbalism: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Mining: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Appraisal: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Alchemy: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Omnilingualism: 10/10 Max!

Beast Mastery: 10/10 Max! (Evolution Available)

Water Monarch: 3/10

Absorption: 2/10

Physical Resistance: 7/10

Mental Resistance 7/10

Elemental Resistance 5/10

Infinite Flight: 3/10

Meta Regeneration: 10/10 Max!

--

[Several evolutions are available, but you need skill points to evolve them, so don't worry right now. Upgrade your abilities too. Some of them are in submenus of their parent skill, so don't worry about not seeing them.]

"I'm just going to use 70 of them to max out [Shadow Step], [Summon: Weapon], [Flash Step], [Camouflage], and [Master Heal], along with Beast Mastery's [Contract] and [Summon]."

[Got it... ah, [Summon: Weapon] evolved into [Manifest: Weapon], while [Master Heal] evolved into [Grand Restoration]. Damn, those are some high-level abilities. The second one is a Tier 5 spell, while the first is a Tier 3.]

Seran couldn't help dancing merrily along the road, to which Etienne beamed and Storm cocked his head at the odd child. He didn't even notice he was actually dancing for an audience until he got too close to the crow, who then gave him a wing smack to the face. "Agh, why'd you hit me, birdbrain?"

The bird visibly rolled his eyes before looking away. The chief whose shoulder he sat on just laughed, "Storm, you're goofy." The crow looked very smug, puffing up its feathery chest in pride.

The boy glared deeply at the bird before saying, "You're lucky you're Elder Marcus's bird, or I'd pluck out your feathers one by one." This made Storm puff up in anger, opening his wings a little like he was ready to swiftly charge at Seran. "Come on, you overgrown pigeon, you wanna fight?"

Etienne then casually knocked Seran on the head before giving Storm a few scratches to calm him down. "You two need to knock it off. We won't make it there until tomorrow if you start fighting." After glaring at each other again, they both simultaneously huffed poutily and turned away from each other.

Nearly a half-hour passed before the silence was broken by Seran, who said quietly, "Chief... will I always be part of the village..?"

Etienne's expression morphed into a serious one, "Of course. No matter what, you will always be part of Greenwood Village's big family. That's not just my promise, but Nan's and the guardian spirit's."

The latter part perked up Seran's ears, "Even the guardian spirit?" He'd only heard stories about the guardian spirit and its wondrous abilities, but only the chief and elders can meet with it one-on-one. Only for the annual founding festival at the end of spring, which coincides with harvest time and the annual visit from the elves, does it ever come out of seclusion.

"Undoubtedly. When they heard of you, they even expressed the desire to meet you after your job awakening. So, when we get back, you'll get to meet them, and I won't have to be so tight-lipped about them with you." The chief wore a pleased grin as he mused about just how special Seran was.

"... So even if I told you my biggest secret, which might make the whole world my enemy, would you still say that..?"

This made the chief ponder for a brief moment before bluntly stating, "Even then, you'd be a Greenwood Village family member. You're already a big part of our home, and I think everyone would be angry or sad if you left... Besides, in just two weeks, you've already managed to make our village's hunting teams stronger. That's already a big deal."

[Are you sure you want to tell them, Seran? You might end up hurting them if you do...] William knew of what his partner wanted and had mostly accepted his choice. Only, the potential risk it posed to the people they both cared about caused him to fret.

Seran didn't answer his partner directly, instead only nodding before looking at Etienne earnestly, "When we get back home, I want to tell you and nan about it... The elders and the spirit should know about it too... I'll be honest, I'm very worried that telling you guys will be dangerous for the village, but I love the village too much... it's my first true home here."

Nodding silently, Etienne replied, "It must be very important if you worry that much, but don't worry. We'll always protect you. I think Nan would happily make you a Greenwood family member right now. I'll call a village meeting when we get back."

After getting Etienne's firm stance on protecting him, the boy looked at Storm and intoned a brief spell, "Translate: Beast Language." The boy's purple eyes twinkled magically while the crow's glowed in kind, making the chief rather shocked. But it wasn't anywhere near as shocking as what came next.

A voice akin to a middle-aged man came from the crow as he spoke, "What a special child, indeed. Even Lady Spirit wouldn't be able to use such an ability without her special traits..."

The chief nearly jumped out of his skin, "What!? You can talk!?"

The bird rolled his eyes and smacked Etienne in the face with his wing, "No shit, genius. This kid cast a spell to translate me into your language. How else do you think I can talk?" Storm gave the chief a withering look, not unlike the look one gives to someone you're tired of dealing with.

"Wait... Seran did? You knew such a rare skill, kiddo? That's at least a Tier 4 skill." Etienne had trouble bringing his mind back to earth, even after Storm smacked him again.

"Yeah, it's a part of my secret, but not much of it... what's next is a bigger part, though... Storm, do you want to make a contract with me?" Seran had a solemn look as he asked the avian his question.

"A contract, with a brat like you? Why would I want to do that? What kind of benefits would I get for following a boy still wet behind the ears?" Storm, just like Elder Marcus, didn't mince his words, each of which struck the boy in his heart.

"I can help you evolve... and make your Golden Crow bloodline purer..."

This stunned both of the older male beings, the human of which remained stunned in pure shock while the feathered one stammered, "W-wait, what did you say..?"

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"I said I can help you evolve. And there's a chance I can help you evolve into a pureblood Golden Crow." Seran hadn't been this pressing before, even in the village. This is why the two of them took this statement as serious.

"My ancestral predecessors, the Golden Crows, have already gone extinct. Are you really certain you can do this? I have no reason to believe you can do it. Can you even prove that you are capable of it?" The crow was fidgeting a lot on Etienne's shoulder, the latter of which was biting his lip because the bird was forgetting about his talons.

Seran opened his mouth to affirm his confidence when his expression changed to one of alertness. "There's a group of bandits coming towards us on the road... I can't directly prove my certainty in being able to evolve you, but I can definitely prove something to you. Chief, I need you to not get involved with this upcoming fight... leave it entirely to me..."

Etienne angrily glowered, "Absolutely not, Seran! These are bandits! You aren't able to kill them by yourself! Even I and Storm together would be forced to escape from them! There's no way you can do it!"

A wing smack then interrupted the chief, the bird that owned it giving the boy a worried yet steadfast look. "Are you trying to prove your sincerity through combat..?

"Yes, and I'm 100% certain that I can defeat these bandits alone... which is why I need you both to not get involved and just watch... let me prove to you that I will fulfill my promises." Seran even gave Etienne and Storm a clasped-hand bow to prove his honesty.

After a great deal of inner deliberation, the two just barely decided to give the lad a chance. The human chief said, "Fine, but if you can't, Storm will carry you out of the fight no matter what. Got it?" The bird nodded in agreement.

After getting a rather half-hearted approval from the two, Seran stood up straight and faced towards the bandits as the dust cloud came closer and closer.

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