In a dark, vast expanse of forest, close to the north-east mountains of the Antaeth basin, Mors continued to walk without purpose as he analysed everything he had learnt since being summoned to Acoria.
It seemed that the ranking system of Acoria had other uses than just displaying an individual's strength. Combined with the status plate, a person’s rank could also be used to gauge the extent of their potential, abilities and lifespan. When a practitioner levelled up, not only would their base skills and abilities be improved, but their lifespan would increase. This was mainly down to their mana core being able to process and refine the natural mana around them much more efficiently.
The amount that their vitality would increase was affected by their current realm and rank. As to be expected, this meant that although it was much harder to progress at the higher levels, the benefits were significantly increased. A common rumour was that when one levelled up into the silver realm, hundreds if not thousands of years would be added to their lifespan making cultivation extremely appealing to those who feared their mortality.
However this did not mean that an individual's body would become invincible, in fact, the opposite was true. In order to use the empowered skills and abilities without harming themselves, a practitioner would need to circulate the mana converted from their mana cores, creating a barrier around their cells to protect them from the increased strain placed upon their bodies. At the lower realms, anything below a mid-level Bronze, this was completely unnoticeable, but in the later stages, it was not uncommon for individuals to seriously harm or kill themselves when activating high-level abilities.
This over-reliance on mana often caused the body to weaken over time as it no longer needed to work as hard, and thus when caught by surprise, asleep or otherwise distracted, even the strongest beings could be killed easily. The only exception to this was naturally strong or artificially enhanced bodies, for example, a rock elemental would always have the skin texture and attributes of rock, while a human would always have the skin and bone density of a human.
This often meant that although the ranking system was fair for all, it was an individual's heritage that could give them an advantage over others, not just regarding skills or abilities, but in raw strength, agility and survivability. This led to large amounts of discrimination between species, with the naturally stronger ones often taking vital roles in society and oppressing those they deemed inferior.
Not only could the ranking system be abused in this way, but it was also pretty inaccurate when identifying someone's combat ability as it was an average of everything that represented that person. This meant that although two practitioners were of the same rank and realm, the difference between them could be as vast as heaven and earth. For example, an incredibly smart person with high IQ and attention to detail but pathetically weak could have the same rank as someone who is extremely powerful but ignorant.
As a general rule, people tended to treat the ranking system as a way to identify how much of a threat someone was as well estimate their potential social status, so they knew how to act around them.
Mors rubbed his temples. What does it matter? The only thing I have in this life is revenge. I have no family, no friends, nothing. If what the huntsmen were talking about when I left was true, there isn't even anyone who is the same as me.
With his incredible knowledge and thought processes, it was easy to forget that Mors had only existed for three days. His partial memories, vast general knowledge and ability to think logically, were the first symptoms of his soul evolving after coming into contact with this world's mana, in addition to the two powerful bloodlines that coursed through his veins. However, he was still a child, and his emotions ran rampant as he struggled to come to terms with his new reality.
Mors' steps paused as he fought the depression that threatened to overwhelm him. Looking around for something to distract himself with, he realised that, even though the clouds were blocking out most of the light, he could see clearly. Not only that but now he was paying attention, Mors realised that every creature above a certain size could be seen by red, glowing arteries as blood was pumped out of its heart.
A gentle breeze rustled the leaves as Mors took a deep breath, watching a snake slither around under the leaf litter with his strange skill. I really am a monster.
The thought caused Mors to shudder as his heartbeat quickened in excitement at his discovery. The realisation that he was no longer human filled him with an extreme sense of joy. I am a new hybrid species and not bound by fate. After I have destroyed the Sun Clan, I will travel around this new world and experience everything it has to offer.
The sound of running water woke Mors from his thoughts and, without a moment's hesitation, he followed the noise until he came across a small stream. Tiny, rodent-like creatures scurried around the four foot high, glowing mushrooms that littered the edges of the brook.
After watching the animals for over half an hour, Mors decided that the glowing plants were not dangerous and decided to move towards the edge of the stream before looking into it.
Reflecting back with the help of the mysterious plants light, a young boy with sharp facial features stared back with menacing, red reptilian eyes. Sticking out from his short, white, dishevelled hair were two small, jet black horns curving backwards, adorned with a scale-like pattern. Mors’ skin was only a few shades darker than his hair and small red and blue, probably arteries and veins crisscrossed his skin making him seem as if it was extremely fragile and delicate. “I don’t really understand why that green girl keeps looking at me like I am something from her worst nightmares. Although a little… intimidating, I think I look pretty average. Well, for a demonic dragon anyway.”
Sitting down and leaning back on one of the glowing mushrooms, Mors watched the animals become accustomed to his presence and restart their nocturnal activities. After a while, Mors started playing with what Verz called, his aura. At first, it was extremely hard to control due to the need for him to think about something that would anger him. As his life had been so short, the only instance he could think of was the events that transpired in the cave. The aura generated from this caused the surrounding animals to flee in every direction, some even falling into the stream and getting washed away in their panic to escape.
It was a slow process as Mors had to wait for the animals to calm down and return before he could try something else. Eventually, Mors had worked out the fundamentals of his strange, at least to him, ability. Verz appeared to be wrong in her earlier advice as it had nothing to do with Mors’ emotions but seemed to be controlled by his thoughts. On the surface, this seemed to be a minor discovery. However, it was incredibly significant. Mors' ability would only be triggered by thinking dark, violent thoughts, with the greater the intent and detail, the stronger the effect.
Mors sighed, already spotting a huge flaw in this ability. Due to it being based on his thoughts, without significant training, it would be almost impossible to launch a surprise attack. His aura alerting everyone to his presence and intent, the moment he started thinking hostile thoughts. Mors loosely linked his ability to the concept of bloodlust, without the emotional investment, as he tried to think of ways around this crippling handicap.
Due to his limited knowledge of Acoria, Mors did not know that his aura, compared to others, was completely different and unique. Mors' aura was actually the melding of his two, tyrannical bloodlines, triggering other species innate instincts, ones honed and developed over multiple millennia through natural selection, to sense the incredible danger that he represented.
Dragons had a similar aura which could be felt when one was in their presence while a demon's aura was more intrinsically linked to their emotions and thoughts. Due to this, even though they had long since evolved beyond the mindless, killing machines that their ancestors were, both demons and dragons had been persecuted to the point of extinction.
As Mors played with his ability, killing more than one animal with the stress caused by feeling such intense fear, he heard loud, echoing drum beats in the distance.
Subconsciously, he had been trying to distract himself, but the stream and its occupants were becoming annoying. Wondering if the drum beats signified either a battle or a celebration, Mors jumped up and started walking towards the noise when he came to an abrupt stop. “Everything I know about this world is that self-proclaimed god and dog-eared woman who strangely has the same agenda as each other… What if they are working together and I have been tricked somehow. I need more information.”
“How could I have been so naive to trust people I don’t even know. Everything I have experienced up until this point could have been fabricated... This whole thing could have been set up." Paranoia struck Mors as he realised he had accepted everything at face value and suddenly felt like he was being manipulated.
It's extremely convenient for the Sun Clan to summon my daughter, a single soul out of millions of people. Then to have a 'gods' involvement as well as a fated meeting with someone who just happened to want revenge on the same people I do. But they said fate did not control me... how would they know I would be summoned if that was the case? How would they know where to be and at what time?
Mors' reptilian pupils sharpened as his eyes started glowing ominously. "I think it's time I went and gathered some information. If I find out I have been fooled, not only will the Sun Clan be erased from this world's history, but the huntsmen and that so called God will suffer the same fate."
Mors starts running towards the tribalistic noise; impatience etched on his face. Once again, information appears in his mind from nowhere, enabling him to slowly mask his presence as he attempts to blend in with the shadows, not wanting to alert the huntsmen to his new destination.
After a couple of meters, Mors feels a warm, tingling sensation wash over him as he fades from sight, moving at an incredible speed. In a matter of minutes, due to the strange shadow melding skill, Mors had travelled over thirty miles, reappearing on the outskirts of a small village that seemed to be having some sort of festival or celebration. A triumphant smile grew on Mors' face as his stomach let out a growl. "Something smells delicious."