Published at 29th of December 2018 09:39:40 AM

Chapter 34

Lars was stunned .

'What in the world??' How could he be forgotten so fast? It kind of hurt . . . First forgotten by his parents as an unwanted orphan, then forgotten by Sara and now forgotten by the one he thought just might be his friend in this bleak and lonely journey . . . ??!

At least Moira didn't forget him . . . He touched the gold ring with the ruby inlaid that was hanging around his neck from a mana-reinforced hemp string necklace - concealed in a cloth pouch and out of sight . Safer that way .

"Oi, oi!! Okay okay! Don't look so down! I'm just teasing, kidding I tell you!"

Kizorik - the little penguin - waved its arms in consternation and began to sweat when it saw how the boy took the joke so very seriously . It even did a little dance while trying to comfort the overly emotional contractor .

After a while, the two of them calmed down smoothed their proverbial ruffled feathers . Then it was down to business .

"Alright . Now that you've summoned me, I can finally get to work recovering and growing my strength . " The penguin sat on Lars' lap and nibbled on dry biscuits while explaining how the contractor arrangement worked .

"No matter where you're headed or going, you'll definitely need more strength . You did realise, right . . . ?" The bird smirked arrogantly as it spoke . "Despite you being stronger in your mana and your soul-imprint being more solid, the people of this planet also wield artefacts to supplement their powers . Eunos was it . . . ? This place is quite famous for high-quality items! You really should get your hands on some of them, both to use and to, erm . . . Sacrifice to me . Heh . "

Lars nodded . He had erred towards caution while interacting with the people of this world ever since his awakening . It was true that the werewolf captain had been taken down easily, but that was because the beastman was 3 whole realms below him, merely a Master-level berserker . Perhaps the wolfman did have a special item or life-saving trump card - alas, instant death would still have been the immediate outcome due to the immense gap in their levels .

However the young mage had been hesitant to reveal his powers; unless truly necessary or his bottom-line was crossed, he was reluctant to attract too much attention or cause a country-level conflict . He didn't have enough information about how they would react or how capable the true powerhouses of the Kingdom of the Sands and other nations really were!

He shook his head . Having reincarnated once, he had no desire to gamble on the chances of a second reincarnation . The necklace was already gone, anyway, the only remnants of it being the leaf-shaped birthmark on his chest .

Kizorik then gazed at him derisively and rubbed it in .

"You may think that artefacts are all . . . But this planet is pretty close to the Rune-forge Civilisation . As the name implies, their relied mainly on that one speciality and still had sufficient might to establish a haughty empire . With that, it's a safe assumption that most of the higher-ups on this planet will have at least a rune, if not 2 or more!"

"Runes . . . ?"

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"They're something like . . . Hmm, how should I put this . . . I haven't had to explain things to any idiots for the past, let's see . . . 15 years? Oh, yes! Yes . I mean since we last met . That's right . "

Lars fumed, tempted to swat the penguin on its tiny buttocks but decided against it . Time was always of the essence - he wanted the penguin to continue on . Which it did - it stuck out its little pink tongue through its razor sharp teeth and resumed its exposition .

"Alright . Enough with the jokes . A rune is simply a magic formation adapted so they can be affixed on a human's body . Don't look down on the process! It's not so simple as just shrinking a magic circle and thinking it will work! It won't! The mana flows for a formation drawn on skin and flesh are completely different, just like how you can't use paper notes for toilet paper . . . "

The little bird's eyes flitted to the corner, looking away and seeming reticent to speak about it . But the curious boy wasn't about to let it slide so easily .

"You tried it before . . . ? How was it . . . ?" He smiled innocently as he asked .

"I-it was bloody painful! Bloody AND painful! D-don't try it . . . " Then it caught itself . "You little!!! You tricked me!!!"

They tussled awhile and Lars was surprised as the harmless little creature had pretty sharp teeth, leaving a painful set of tiny teeth marks on his index finger with just a little bit of blood drawn . The holes were so puny, people might think it was just pinpricks!

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Waving his sore hand, he sat down to listen and offered the dissatisfied Demon God a belly rub with his other hand to appease its wrath .

"Alright . Runes are complicated and have to be custom fit to whoever will be using it to bring out 100% of its effects . That customisations requires an expert to affix it and costs a bomb! With the base rune itself already costing a lot, that means that only the rich and powerful can afford them . BUT they are worth the money . A standard rune can offer a 10-15% improvement in say mana pool . So two runes means almost a 30% improvement! And that's only a weak level 1 rune! A level 7 rune can give a boost of 80% or even higher! But they're frickin' expensive . "

The mini penguin sighed in contentment, then added, " . . . From the smell of that dastardly handsome guy, he's really rich . And if he's in the legendary realm, most likely he can fit 3-4 level 6 runes . "

Lars' eyes widened . He counted . That would be . . .

"Yes . Even if he started out 50% weaker than you, just the amplification from say, 3 runes alone would make him your equal! And don't forget that he's filthy rich! He probably has really high-grade Artefacts too!"

He gave one last reminder to the now flabbergasted boy who was glad he had not tried to take on the Duke along with Vizier Murad, Vault-Keeper Noone as well as the entire Arena!

" . . . Kid, you need more power . And that's where I come in . "

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The black-and-white bird practically bristled with pride as it raised its head loftily and proudly .

Then when the boy remained silent, watching and waiting, the penguin frowned crossly and snapped its teeth at him, saying, "Come on! Come on! Where's the praise? Where's the awe? Where's the excitement!"

"Okay okay! Erm . . . Oh yes, great demon god Kizorik, please share with this lowly mortal your wisdom . . . ?"

Ignoring the apparent question mark at the end of the boy's sentence, Kizorik decided to be satisfied with it and resumed its speech .

"Alright, listen kid, here's low down . The benefits of being a demon's contractor has to do with the Ritual of Sacrifice, which allows you to gain unprecedented power by offering up items, things or corpses of worth to the Abyss . Unlike the conventional paths to growing in power which require slow, careful advancement and comprehension, the growth in power from the Abyss is immediate, direct and effective . "

"All you need to do is provide the right offerings . . . "

The penguin smiled evilly .

"Alright, here's how the Ritual and exchange of sacrifices for power works . . . "