Michael was irritated that none of his skills specified how much mana was required to cast, or to what degree they were affected by their dependent stats. However, since he was incredibly thirsty, he decided to test out ‘Telekinesis.’
He was close enough to the flowing stream that he could literally put his hand into the water, so he wasn’t too worried about the range being an issue. Unfortunately, since the spell required him to put his mana into the object first, the river was a bad target.
After collecting the liquid into his palm, then he imagined it flowing through the air and into his mouth. The first attempt expanded and splashed against his face, the second was too concentrated and smacked into the back of his throat with enough force to do three damage and make him choke on it for a few minutes.
It was simply way too difficult for him to use telekinesis to casually create a fountain of water, that would smoothly flow into his mouth. However, there was a different method that he thought of; after placing his hand in the stream, and pulling it out, there was a rather large blob of liquid attached to his palm.
The ball was similar to a massive globule, and he simply moved his hand until he could directly suck the fluid out of its telekinetic container. After drinking a decent amount, Michael grumbled “Ugh, I hate water… I really miss my iced tea.”
Then he had another idea, there was no need to conjure water, if he was able to just store it inside of his bag. Since slot-seven was empty, he shoved his hand into the river and began sucking copious amounts of the liquid into his inventory.
At first, he was just going to take a couple gallons or so, but Michael wanted to know the absolute limit to the bag-slots. However, the process was relatively slow, and extraordinarily monotonous, so after twenty minutes he stopped.
Five-hundred gallons seemed like enough to last him awhile, and even if he dehydrated to death, he could just respawn. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain throughout his entire body, as if he was being electrocuted.
Michael didn’t collapse, but he did receive a ‘stunned’ debuff, and his health dropped down to 25/35. Then there was a red notification, which read “Inari has died; respawning directly into companion storage, now.”
Once he was able to move again, he turned around and tried to see what could have killed her. Then he muttered “Of course, it’s a fucking cougar. Sigh, seriously, it wasn’t even a magical beast… Well, now it is.”
Michael was gazing at a big-cat that had tan fur, and an overall appearance very similar to a female lion. As he watched it eating a small, white, dog-like carcass, its body suddenly became twice as large, and its upper fangs became too long and wide to fit inside of its mouth anymore. Above its head was text that read “Level-5, Rank-G, Sabertooth Cougar: 60/60 HP.”
He wondered “How the hell do animals or magical-beasts gain experience, aside from eating mana-cores?” as he started to reach down and shove random, fist-sized, smooth stones into his eighth bag-slot. Once he reached fifty-pounds, the nudist stopped and started walking towards the hulking feline.
With a small pebble in his right hand, he smirked, while muttering “Hopefully it doesn’t run away…” Rather than flee, the rank-G monster immediately noticed Michael approaching, and roared loudly.
It was ecstatic; not only had the cougar finally managed to evolve, but there was even a weak and unarmed rank-F human for it to devour. If he was a higher level, then maybe the giant cat would have felt intimidated, but from its point of view, the naked man was an easy target.
The feline’s bright-blue eyes were glistening from the sunlight, and Michael frowned, while complaining “Why do I have to keep killing so many cute animals? Shouldn’t they be a bit uglier?” Although he was walking towards it, the sabertooth-cat began sprinting at him from a hundred meters away.
Within a few seconds, it had come within range, and the naked man used all of his strength, plus fifteen points of mana, to physically and telekinetically throw a tiny rock at the cougar’s head. After smacking into the tip of its nose, the pebble shattered the upper jaw, and cause the entire face to be deformed by the impact; of course, the stone had also been destroyed, and the shards managed to fly directly into the cougar’s eyes.
A huge bright-yellow critical ‘-25’ popped up above its head, and a slew of debuffs appeared, including: ‘bleeding,’ ‘blinded,’ ‘stunned,’ and ‘Anosmia.’ If he had just foolishly tried to punch the gigantic beast to death, Michael obviously would have been torn apart and killed; however, since it was so heavily disabled by that unexpected attack, he could casually use a fist-sized, smooth stone, to repeatedly bash open its skull.
The thirty-five health, was quickly reduced to zero after the fifth blow: The cougar’s head was practically nonexistent at that point. After letting out a loud sigh, he dropped the blood and brain covered stone onto the grass, and called out Inari.
As soon as she appeared, the white fox was immediately terrified by the massive carcass and cowered behind Michael’s left leg. He scolded her “Didn’t I tell you to be careful? Geeze, if you weren’t my companion, you would have been permanently dead…”
Obviously, Inari didn’t understand anything that he was saying and just kept making loud whimpering noises. He raised his blood-stained right hand above his head and started releasing twenty gallons of water, which sprayed out like a low-pressured shower.
The cold liquid snapped the frightened vixen out of her ‘terrified’ debuff, and she immediately realized that the target of her fear was definitely dead. More importantly, she could smell the delicious rank-G mana-core, which was buried in the clump of fur, flesh, bones, teeth, and brain-matter, only a few feet away.
Without any hesitation, she happily ran over and started digging through the mess, dyeing her pure-white fur, a dark, grimy red. Michael smirked, as he continued to shower himself, while muttering “Hmmm, it’s a little early to know for sure, but it seems like killing a magical-beast at rank-G, gives one experience-point per level… assuming that ‘F’ gives two, then each higher rank might have a similar multiplier. How the hell did that bastard get to level five though? Sigh, why isn’t there a tutorial? It’s very strange, but maybe it has to do with the ‘hardcore’ setting?”
After he finished spraying water over his body, using his palm as a pseudo shower-head, he continued to complain “Ugh, I’m probably expected to go to some shitty village and ask the senile old man, who for some reason is their leader, to tell me how the world works… Nope, fuck that, I don’t want to deal with people until I’m strong enough to kill them all. That Goblin-girl was really cute though… Oh yea! This is a fantasy-style world, so there are probably all kinds of awesome races… and most of them probably hate Humans.”
Once he was finished making completely baseless assumptions, and asking a slew of questions to himself, Michael shoved the giant ‘Sabertooth-Cougar’ carcass into his eighth bag-slot: It had only been two days, but he had already halfway filled it. Then he turned around, after hearing a crunching noise coming from nearby.
It took him a few seconds, but he found an inconspicuous white-rabbit, nibbling on some kind of root. From what he could tell, it looked like a potato, but it was throbbing like a beating heart and glowing dimly.
As the bunny chewed into it, a thick, clear sap leaked out, and eventually, when it finally reached the center of the oblong vegetable, he could see an incredibly tiny seed. The bead-shaped object was crystalline and sparkling brightly in the sunlight.
When the rabbit ate that seed, its name changed from white to red; the health jumped from two to five, and it went from unranked to ‘G’ instantaneously. The level was still zero, but it quickly and easily discovered another one of those roots buried nearby, and after digging it up, then devouring it, the little magical-beast sniffed the air a few times.
Then those bright-red eyes glared directly at Michael, but seemingly realizing the difference in strength, it immediately turned away and ran towards “Ariel’s Meadow.” It could feel an incredibly powerful force luring it there, and so tried to go there… but before it could hop a few meters, Inari sprinted over and chomped down onto its neck.
The tiny fox, which was still dyed red, jerked her head back and forth, severing the rabbit’s spine and dealing a bright orange, six-points of damage. She didn’t use any mana or special attacks, just physical force, but it was still extremely effective.
Michael smirked and praised “Good girl!” as she devoured the mana-core and received a single experience point. After that, Inari picked up the remains in her mouth and happily brought it over to him, dropping it by his left foot.
Thus, his stockpile of headless level-one, white-rabbit carcasses had increased to ten, and they had to return to the river so that she could remove all the blood from her fur. He also collected five-hundred and twenty more gallons of water, since there didn’t seem to be a limit.