Sparring with Puppers is nothing like sparring with Durandal. For one, Puppers lives up to his name and fights more like a beast than a human. What kind of human would fight by wielding a spear in their mouth? His claws are super sharp too, and his tail attacks like a whip. It’s very annoying because he can strike with the spear or grapple me when I get too close. At least I’m learning a lot! I’ve started using my own tail to fight. Despite how fluffy it looks, it’s actually really solid at its core. Don’t judge.
I tried learning how to use a shield—lizard bones and skins crafted into a buckler—but every time I activated the path of slaughter, my body would throw it away, so I gave up on it. Who says you can’t slaughter someone with a shield? It’d make a perfectly good blunt weapon. Maybe the path knows I want to use it for defense. Why is everything in my life so intent on making me a brute?
Recently, the bones I’ve been engraving have gotten better effects. The bones of strength heal faster, and the bones of focus last at least three times longer. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with becoming a spirit warrior, or if it’s because the quality of the bones are better. Well, it could be both also. And—
Puppers froze mid-attack and turned his head. Why did he stop? He pointed, and I turned my head while lowering my sword. A cluster of rare, monkey-like spirit beasts were gathered at the edge of the clearing Puppers and I had created during our spars. Odd. Usually spirit beasts attack without warning, why were they just standing there? Well, time to get stronger and continue following the unrelenting path of slaughter. I charged at the monkeys and fired off a qi blade. I stopped shouting out my skill attacks since I can’t hear them while I’m under the path’s influence.
The qi blade flew through the air like a giant pink sheet, and it crashed into the silhouette of one of the monkeys. But instead of falling apart like monkeys usually did, a green film appeared on its orange body and blocked the qi blade. Whoa, what the heck was that? Qi was represented as pink in the path of slaughter. Red was the recommended path to take. Orange was living creatures, and black was blood. But I’ve never seen green before. Magic, maybe?
Well, I don’t believe I’d lose! Breaking Blade! I charged forwards and swung mini-DalDal straight down from over my head. The green film appeared again, covering the monkey’s body, but it easily cracked and crumbled apart underneath my pink attack. The monkey was bisected and black liquid splashed onto me. I saw the other monkeys panicking and turned my head towards them. Lots of green was flowing into the surroundings, and a green flame flew towards me. I dodged it while Puppers launched his own attack, stabbing towards the monkey who shot the flames. Nice one, Puppers!
The other monkeys turned to flee when the flame-spewing monkey collapsed. I launched qi blades at their heads while pursuing them. Come back, beast cores! Green films covered their heads, but the force from the qi knocked them over, and I made quick work out of them with three Breaking Blades. I looked around to see if there were any more rare monkeys around, but there weren’t any, so I disabled the path of slaughter. Hey, these rare monkeys wore clothes too.
“Ms. Fluffytail.” Puppers walked up to me from behind, dragging along the two monkeys we killed first. Blood covered his muzzle and spear. “I’ve always been a righteous spear—”
“…Righteous sock. And I don’t approve of killing people for no reason. It rubs me the wrong way. If this is how you’re going to continue to behave, I think it’d be better for us to part ways.”
“Killing people for no reason?” Hmm? “I don’t do that.”
Puppers stared at me.
What were those judgmental eyes? Only Durandal can look at me like that. Bad, Puppers. “What?”
Puppers pointed at the monkey corpses on the ground.
“You said you don’t kill people for no reason.”
“Right. I don’t.” Do I have to store him back into my socks? He came so far though. Well, a little more reeducation wouldn’t hurt.
“Then tell me why you killed these men.”
“What men? They’re spirit beasts.” Those are some really sneaky beasts if they could even fool Puppers. They’re like advanced scavenger crows. How scary.
“Is that what you really believe?”
“Of course! I’m not a murderer.”
I’m going to smack him if he keeps staring at me like that. “What do you want?” It looks like I can’t activate the path of slaughter because Puppers wanted to converse. Oh wells. It’s not like I need the path to dismantle these beast corpses.
“You’re delusional! These beasts would’ve eaten us alive if I didn’t take care of them, sheesh.”
“Beasts can’t use magic!” Puppers practically roared at me, and I flinched. Maybe I should’ve activated my path.
“Then we must’ve found a very rare variant of monkeys. Do you think the mercenary guild will reward me for bringing them information about a new species?” I heard they do that. Every bit of information helps mercenaries because the unprepared die first! Paying for information is like paying for a higher chance of survival. I wonder how much I’d earn.
“They were magicians! Magicians of the empire! Humans!”
“Puppers. Do you want to go back inside my socks?” Oh, lucky! I finally got a beast core from one of the monkeys! “This beast core’s pretty big. Wow.”
“Humans don’t have beast cores! That’s—wait, what?” Puppers snatched the bloody trophy out of my hands and stared at it. “This…, this is actually a beast core…? W-were they not humans?”
“I told you they were beasts! Give that back!” Would I finally gain some mana from absorbing this? Durandal said it was hopeless for me to ever learn any magic, but according to Puppers, beasts couldn’t learn magic either. So if I, a manaless person, consumed the beast core of a rare magical spirit beast, maybe I’d gain the ability to cast spells. I have to try it!
That night, I experienced the worst nausea of my life, and I learned a manaless person like me will always stay manaless. The stupid core didn’t even raise my strength or speed either. What a waste.