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Supreme Magus - Chapter 1551 - Mutated Monsters (Part 1)
"Do I get equipment for this mission or in exchange for my services?" Nalrond asked.
"Yes." Faluel's words brought a smile to his face. "If you find it while on the job. As I said multiple times, you are not my apprentice and magical materials don't grow on trees."
The Rezar inwardly cursed at the Hydra, leaving the lair first.
"What about me? I worked my ass off for you for years." Protector said.
"You did it in exchange for my lessons and for the resources you needed to make your home as comfortable as Lith's." She replied. "But you are right, I can't send you there with Lith's prototypes for equipment..
"Ajatar would never let me hear the end of it, bragging about how he treats his apprentice better at every occasion he gets."
"Are you really giving me equipment only to not look bad in an Awakened measuring contest?" Protector was flabbergasted.
"Of course. You've been benched for months now and before that, you spent most of your time working as a mercenary. Take a lesson from Lith. He makes his own equipment and owns his own materials." Faluel said with the prideful stinginess typical of all Dragons.
Protector had many mean things he would have liked to say, but the full suit of Adamant armor along with the Adamant mace shut his mouth. He held in his arms a treasure worthy of a magical bloodline, worth enough to buy Lutia a few times and leave something to spare.
"Does it grow in size with me?" He asked.
"Don't push your luck, furball." She replied with a snarl. "It will shapeshift to keep your vitals protected in your Skoll form but that's it."
Protector imprinted the equipment and gave it a quick go. His human form was fully covered, but once he turned into an Emperor Beast, the armor only covered his heart, head, and spine.
"Any advice for me?" Quylla asked.
Despite her brave front, she was intimidated by the task at hand. Not because of its difficulty but because every time she went on the field something bad happened.
"Yes. Try to not rely on any of your companions at all times. Morok would have done this mission solo if it wasn't for Glemos. Nalrond and Protector could do the same but we are sending them together as a failsafe.
"I'm sending you as well so that you can test the limits of your human body. With your equipment and all the training you had, you should be on their level so every time you need help means that you're doing something wrong." Faluel said.
Quylla swallowed several lumps of saliva, suddenly feeling as if it was the night before the exams at the White Griffon academy and she was still a student.
The next day, they met at Faluel's a few hours past sunrise. Due to time zones, they would arrive at Ajatar's lair while in the Weghan region was still dawn. The Warp Array led them in the central part of the Griffon Kingdom where the Tyrant and the Drake were waiting for them.
"I missed you so much, sweetheart!" Morok threw his arms at Quylla and she threw Bloodbind at him, slamming the Tyrant against the ground just like she had done with the Rezar the day before.
"That's why she moved that fast. Quylla must have gotten a lot of practice keeping Morok's hands off her." Nalrond said.
"Indeed." Ajatar didn't even try to defend his disciple.
The Drake resembled a 20 meters (66 feet) long lizard covered in sapphire-blue scales, with a huge white horn coming out of his snout. His tail was almost 11 meters (36 feet) long, ending with thick bone spikes.
Ajatar would use it either as a weapon or to balance his body whenever he needed to stand on his hind legs.
"What are we supposed to do?" Quylla asked after releasing the Tyrant.
"Routine stuff." Ajatar shrugged. "A few monster tribes have assembled over one of the unproductive mana geysers of my region and I need you to get rid of them as soon as you check up on what they have achieved so far."
"Unproductive mana geyser?" Nalrond scratched his finely trimmed beard in confusion.
"It's the term we use for those surges of world energy that don't yield mana crystals or magic metals." The Drake replied. "Some of them just need time to mature while others nourish natural treasures that are more easily snatched."
"What use do monster tribes have for them and what do you mean by, what they achieved so far?" Quylla asked.
"I can answer that." Protector chimed in after seeing Ajatar roll his eyes at those questions. "Evolution is supposed to bring the races closer to each other, making them stronger.
"That's why evolved creatures can mate with members of the other races and why beasts become more intelligent the more their core develops. Monsters, instead, have ended up amplifying an already strong racial trait, further suppressing the others.
"The Wargs, for example, were once Magical Beasts who lost themselves to their beast side, while humanoid species lose control of their magical powers, as it happened to orcs and trolls.
"At the same time, however, their unstable state coupled with their fast spawn rate makes them prone to mutations.
"Because of this, all of the fallen races are naturally drawn to mana geysers even though they are incapable of Awakening. They can still absorb the world energy to spark change in their bodies.
"Awakened Lords have to keep an eye on mana geysers not only for resources, but also to keep the monsters' population in check. Our hope is that the world energy will restore them, but usually it only makes things worse.
"That's why Ajatar said that we have to check on what they have achieved. If a tribe is getting better, we leave them alone. If they are just getting more dangerous or deranged, instead, we have to put them down." Protector said.
"Just one more question." Nalrond said. "You mentioned more than one tribe. How is that possible?"
"Long story short, all the nearby monsters want the geyser for themselves and none of them is willing to leave. After a fight to the death, the weaker tribes are enslaved by the winner." Ajatar said. "Anything else?"
Nalrond and Quylla suddenly felt incredibly ignorant but since the questions they had left were more related to their curiosity than to the mission, they just shook their heads.
Ajatar and Protector were already annoyed and both couldn't wait to get the mission over with.
The Drake activated one of the arrays of his cave, generating a detailed 3D hologram of the entire Weghan region. It was filled with small luminous dots where Ajatar had noted down landmarks and the details he needed to remember their spatial coordinates.
"Be careful out there." He said after opening a Warp Array that would lead them to their destination. "Glemos or not, if the monsters have started to mutate, they will be much more dangerous than usual."
They arrived in the middle of some deep woods, a few kilometers off the mana geyser.
Ajatar had no idea of how many tribes had assembled nor how much their numbers had grown, so he preferred to not take unnecessary risks.
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