12 Encounters (2)

As Lith was approaching Selia's house, he felt a deep sense of shame tormenting him.

'It's a shame to waste so much good equipment and horse meat, but I have no plausible excuse for it. Our farm could really use a couple of horses, but what if someone recognized them?

'Too much risk for too little reward. Destroying everything was the right thing to do.'

Once he had finished with his experiments, Lith used darkness magic to erase any proof of what happened and turn everything into dust.

Selia was so excited to get her hands on two snow-white rabbits that she let slip her dire need for their pelt to fill the order of a very generous client.

Respecting his master's teachings, Lith exploited the situation.

"Hunters don't do favors, they cut deals." He quoted.

In exchange for the snow-white rabbits, Lith managed to get a full set of warm clothes of lower quality and Selia would personally tan the remaining pelt for free.

That and the three rabbits ready for the cooking earned him great praise from his family, except Orpal. Over time he had started taking for granted all the food that Lith brought home for granted, so his hatred and envy had returned stronger than ever.

'That little Leech! Hunting with magic is easy, any idiot could do it. Everything he does is a slap in my face. I never get the respect that I deserve as the firstborn and it's all his fault!

'First, he flaunts his luck at hunting, then he plays martyr by asking mother and father to give the first set of fur clothes to that piece of trash Tista. What can Tista possibly do with them? Get ill with style? No, Lith did it on purpose.

'He knows that my stupid parents still resent me for telling the truth about that cripple. Lith only did it to make me lose face compared to him.'

The truth was quite different from Orpal's self-centered interpretation.

Lith really loved his mother Elina, big sister Rena, and ill sister Tista. However Orpal was never on his mind. He healed anyone in the family without being asked to, except for Orpal.

Lith didn't do it out of spite or anger, but simply because Orpal's existence was irrelevant in his eyes.

Lith didn't care less if Orpal lived or died. He wouldn't do anything to harm him, but wouldn't help him either. As far as Lith was concerned, they were complete strangers living in the same home.

Lith wanted Tista to be the first to benefit from his luck in the hopes that the warm clothes would allow her to spend more time with him and Rena during winter and maybe even get to play in the snow.

In Lith's eyes, the image of Carl would often overlap with Tista's face. He loved them deeply, and they were both victims of a cruel fate.

Lith wasn't willing to let anyone or anything, not even a congenital condition, take his loved ones away from him.

He suffered at the thought of how little of life she could enjoy. To give Tista the opportunity to experience speed and the feeling of the wind on her face, Lith built for a swing her with the help of their father, Raaz.

It was nothing special, just a wooden plank attached to four tight ropes hanging from a reversed U-shaped wooden framework with triangular standings. Yet the result was awe-inspiring for his family. 

Swings seemed to be unknown in the new world, or at least they were in the Lustria County.

Raaz looked at the result of their work in admiration.

"It's amazing. Why the three wooden beams instead of just one?"

"Safety reasons." Lith explained while using earth magic to make the last 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) of the beams sink underground, making it impossible for the swing to be toppled by bad weather or extra vigorous movement.

"That way both ends are like a chair. Multiple legs means that the weight is equally distributed among them, significantly reducing the stress on each beam."

"Of course! Now that you explained it, it's so simple. By the way, what do we call this thing?"

Lith was at loss for words, he had no idea what the word for the swinging movement was and he couldn't ask that now.

"Err... It's a rocking chair."

'Dammit, why do I always screw up with the little details? That's not a rocking chair, but it's the closest thing I could think of with my current vocabulary.' He thought.

Tista fell in love with his present, and the rocking chair soon became a popular pastime for the family. It got to the point that Raaz had to build a couple more to avoid constant quarreling.

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Also, after his experiments with dark magic, Lith spent the following months trying to apply both Life Vision and Invigoration while treating Tista's symptoms.

'If I can manage to achieve the same imaging quality for Tista's body that Invigoration grants me for my own body, I can better understand the underlying cause of her condition. That would mean having a much better chance of finding a cure!' He thought.

In the blink of an eye, it was almost winter again, Lith's fifth birthday was approaching.

Lith was determined to capitalize on every single day before the great cold arrived to catch as much game he could to fill the house's storeroom to the brim.

He had no idea how cold the incoming winter would be, and even if he was probably strong enough to survive a storm, he doubted that his parents would allow him to test his theory.

During the last year, Lith had explored more and more of the Trawn woods, learning how to move without alarming the animals. He had also discovered new uses for darkness magic.

His newest spell, Shroud, allowed him to hide his body smell and aura by enveloping Lith in a thin layer of dark energy, making it impossible for most animals to notice him, either by nose or instinct.

But it wasn't an easy task. Even a small misstep would turn Shroud into a full-blown killing intent, making the whole woods aware of his presence.

That day Lith was raiding a new area deep in the Trawn woods. He wanted to investigate an odd feeling that had tormented him for days.

In certain areas of the woods, Lith could hear an annoying buzzing sound, and until that day he had always ignored it. At first, Lith had thought that it was the call of some weird, unknown animal, but during the last few days, the noise had gotten stronger.

'Damn, whatever this is, it reminds me of my desktop's Uninterruptible Power Supply unit whenever there was a black out. It's ear piercing.' He thought.

Lith could not help but to imagine it as a desperate cry for help. He didn't understand how he got that idea, but his gut was telling him that it was something important.

Ever since Lith had learned martial arts back on Earth, he had always followed his gut feeling when he had nothing to lose, and this was definitely the case.

The closer he got, the louder the noise became. Lith knew he was on the right path.

He was running at full speed when he heard a bone-chilling howl. Lith immediately used two of his life-saving spells, Shroud to conceal himself, and the air spell Light Feet to float a few centimeters above the ground, making his movements noiseless.

Both required a lot of concentration, but it was better to spend some mana rather than stupidly endangering himself. He remained calm and focused while he searched for the source of all that noise.

'Holy sh*t! That's a Ry!' Lith thought after quickly hiding behind a huge tree.

A Ry was a magical wolf beast, the apex predator of the Trawn woods. Magical beasts were more common and weaker than monsters, but they could still easily take apart a fully armed soldier.

Not many animals could turn into a magical beast. They needed to have a great talent for magic and enough time to feed off the world energy.

Once an animal became a magical beast, it could use its mana to boost its physical prowess and even develop spells that employed elements they were attuned with.

The Ry was almost as big as a horse, with thick fire colored fur.

Lith couldn't understand why a Ry would come so close to a human settling. Rys were intelligent beasts that avoided unnecessary trouble. If humans avoided disturbing them, they would return the favor.

Lith felt pity for its prey. After making sure he was downwind of the Ry, he canceled both spells to save precious mana while he got a better understanding of the situation.

The Ry kept howling and growling as if it was in pain. Lith noticed that every time the Ry's snout got close to the ground, the buzzing sound would become high pitched and the magical wolf would whine in pain.

Now more curious than afraid, Lith activated Life Vision to estimate the Ry's power.

What he saw made him gasp loudly.

The Ry was unbelievably strong, with a mana flow almost on par with Lith's. But the real reason for amazement was a second mana flow, that belonged to the source of the buzzing sound.

It was a little stone, smaller than a thimble.

'What the heck? That pebble is alive? That explains everything! The noise it's emitting must have lured here the Ry here, just like it did for me. Taking into account its reactions, the noise is much more annoying for the Ry than for me.

'I've never heard of rocks with mana flow, that thing must be a magical item. I cannot let that brute destroy it.' Lith thought.

Throwing caution to the wind, Lith decided to take action and save the magic stone.

'My lifeforce is inferior to the Ry's, but if I can avoid letting it get close, I know I can win. His mana flow is inferior to mine, and from what Selia told me, magic beasts have no offensive spells.'

First Lith activated Shroud again, then he started weaving his strongest spell.

"Plague Arrow!" A bolt of dark energy flew from his joined hands, hitting the Ry from its blind spot while it was trying to crack the noisy stone with its teeth again.

The screeching sound and the spell both hit at the same time, making the magical beast almost lose its footing.

Plague Arrow was a spell that injected a dense mass of darkness magic in its victim, disrupting both their mana flow and their life force. Lith had charged it as much as he could hoping to send the beast on the run.

Before the Ry could turn around to search for its enemy, a stream of lightning bolts erupted from Lith's palms, hitting the magical beast with enough strength to knock it down.

While increasing the distance between them, Lith canceled Shroud for Life Vision. Despite the sneak attacks, the Ry was still alive and strong.

Lith focused his spirit magic, using both his hands to break its neck from a distance as he had already done countless times.

The Ry wasn't stupid, as soon as it felt the ominous sensation on his neck, it contracted its muscles, reinforcing it with mana and making it harder than steel.

'Damn! So much for my advantage. If only I could use fire magic you would be already roasted to death. Could you please go away? That thing is mine! Mine!' Lith thought.

He conjured several ice javelins and threw them at the magical beast from multiple angles.

The Ry easily dodged them all and retaliated with a powerful magical roar.

Lith was only saved by the distance. It gave him the time to realize that a massive wind blast was heading his way. He stepped back at the moment of the impact, using his own wind magic to dissipate the blast.

His sleeves got turned into confetti, but aside from some flesh wounds, he was fine.

'F*ck me sideways! Thanks a lot, Selia. Magical beasts do not have offensive spells, sure. It seems this Ry never got the memo.'

The Ry charged at Lith, using its wind blasts to disrupt his rhythm. Lith did his best to keep the beast at bay, but the difference in physical prowess was overwhelming. It was only a matter of time before the Ry would hit him.

'Okay, if you can't win, just run. If even that fails, plan C: fight dirty!' He thought.

Lith stopped running away, to try a last attack before throwing the towel.

He conjured many ice javelins, but did not throw them, he left them floating in mid-air all around him.

After a moment of hesitation, the Ry chose to ignore them and charged straight at that insolent pest.

"That's a good boy! Eat this! Twin spell! Flash&Bang!" 

Lith's right hand produced a massive flash of light. For a moment, it was like a second sun had appeared. His left hand, instead, used wind magic to produce a noise comparable to an explosion.

The Ry tumbled from pain, its eyes and ears bleeding, while Lith was unscathed. He had learned long ago that as long as they were infused with his mana, his own spells would do him no harm.

He could cover himself in fire, ice, or lightning without getting a single scratch.

When the Ry crashed against a tree, Lith finally used the javelins, throwing them with all the force he had. All of them hit the target, but the thick magical fur prevented them from impaling the beast, piercing only through a few centimeters of flesh.

Lith immediately checked his enemy with Life Vision, the results appalling.

The Ry was definitely wounded and weakened, but far from being dead.

'Dammit! So much effort for so little damage. If it continues like this, I am the one who is most likely to run out of steam or luck. The Ry only needs one hit to kill me. It's not worth the risk.'

Lith used spirit magic to recover the magic stone before running for his life. The stone was full of teeth marks, its sharp surface prickled Lith's skin.

"So long, sucker!" Lith screamed at the still stunned magical beast.

"See you again in a few years, let's see if you dare attack me again!" Small drops of blood touched the stone, and the noise stopped.

The Ry was still trying to make head or tails of what had just happened. It only wanted the damn noise to stop hurting his ears when that fierce man-pup showed up.

The Ry had tried to scare him away and to teach him a lesson, but it was the one getting schooled instead.

'Bah, who cares.' The Ry thought.

'I wanted to get rid of that stupid rock and one way or another I got the job done. That was one feisty pup, though. I pray that he shows more consideration towards his pack than he did for me.

'Otherwise, once he grows up, he will be a scourge to his kin. Stupid humans and their greed bring only troubles. They are incapable even of taking care of their own.'

The Ry, leader of all the packs in the Trawn woods, shrugged away the javelins before returning to its family.

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