26 Essence Stone
"Welcome Zoey! Hunt go well?"
Nito greeted her as she returned. She nodded and showed him her overstuffed backpack. His eyes bulged when he saw the numerous Ice Venom Sky Snake skins, essence stones, fangs, and the large chunk of snake meat from the Rank 2 Ice Venom Sky Snake she had killed.
"Y-you killed a Rank 2?!"
Nito stuttered in shock when he realised that one of the essence stones was bigger than the others. Zoey recounted the tale of her encounter, causing Nito to stare at her in amazement.
Naturally Nito was amazed. He was a Rank 1 Vekt with one of the worst Heritages among his people. He was forever doomed to be a Rank 1 nobody, without hope of advancing to a higher rank without a miracle. Seeing how easily Zoey had returned unharmed with the essense stones of 25 Ice Venom Sky Snakes and a Rank 2 as well he was truly amazed.
The two of them entered Nito's house and started cleaning and sorting the materials as Nito chatted about how amazing her hunting results were. He revealed that he had lived on one of the major cities in the civilized lands before he came here, and even among expert Rank 2 and Rank 3 hunters, Zoey's hunt was truly spectacular.
He said that a normal human at Rank 1 would at most be able to successfully hunt 5 Ice Venom Sky Snakes with the help of a innate talent that had combat applications. An expert Rank 1 hunter with a powerful innate talent would be lucky to kill 15 in a day before they were at their limit. To hunt 25 in a day, and to kill a Rank 2 without taking any injuries, only a strong Rank 3 hunter with a strong innate talent could pull that off as easily as Zoey appeared to have.
As she listened to Nito talk, the two had finished cleaning and sorting the materials. Most were in excellent shape thanks to Zoey's efficient methods of hunting. Noito estimated that they would be able to get around 20 gold coins for the whole lot, minus the essence stones. Quite the sum of money for merely a day of hunting.
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Nito then eagerly started to prepare the snake meat for cooking, waving Zoey aside and promising an excellent meal in a few hours. Smiling at his energy, Zoey made herself comfortable in a corner of the house. She was ready to give a try at absorbing the essence from them, and was excited about what would happen. Nito had said to carefully use her magic energy to crack the shell of the essence stone to begin the process. Since she was the same rank as the stone, and the elemental affinity of the Ice Venom Sky Snake had matched her own cold ellement affinity, so there was little to no risk of failure.
Selecting one of the Rank 1 stones she sat in a meditation pose, placed the essence stone in her palm, and closed her eyes. She focused her mind and sharpened her mind first. She wanted to be in the best mental condition to facilitate the process. Once she was ready she recalled the sensation of her magic, and slowly reached out to its source. Her magic seemed to originate from the same point in her body where her heart was physically located. Once her senses reached out and touched the source, it was as if she had another eye that had opened and could see within herself into a whole new space that had appeared. In this space she could see a deep pool of dark, cool, magic essence that had taken shape in the same location as her heart physically, but at the same time seemed to be in a space of its own.
This space felt impossibly small and infinite at the same time, with her essence taking up only a small space within. She marveled at the sight as her mind's eye inspected the essence. Her essence pool was not very big and the essence swirling about within was a mixture of cool blue and a shadowy black. The colors of the essence were due to her affinity the cold and dark elements. Looking into the depths of the pool Zoey could see a swirling molten mass of magma surrounding a core of deep blue. She would easily recognize the representation of her twin heritages. The Dark Star Runic Heritage as the molten red and the Gaia Human as the deep blue.
Once she was done inspecting her essence pool, she sent her thoughts into the pool, submerging into her essence and sending her awareness into the depths. As she did so, she could feel a cool sensation flowing from her heart and spreading through her body. As her magic activated, the essence stone in her hand started to react to her magic. The essence within started moving about as if excited, the blue and green colors reflecting the light beautifully.
Zoey used her magic essence to completely envelop the essence stone and then slowly formed a portion of her essence into a point and pierced it into the essence stone. As she came into contact with the essence within the stone it was as if she was stepping her toes into a pool of cold, icy water. It was slightly unpleasant at first, but as the essence of the stone began to merge and flow into her own essence, the feeling became peasant.
Soon the essence of the stone was freely flowing from the stone into her body and towards her essence pool. As the first bit of Ice Venom Sky Snake essence trickled into her essence pool, there was a reaction from the tattoo on her left arm. Different from the first time she activated it, the slender snake of her tattoo this time was glowing a cold blue and the interlocked gears of the 77th Engineer Squadron it was intertwined with were glowing molten red. As this happened there was a deep machine-like mechanical sound that echoed inside her mind like the gears of a massive colossus waking from slumber. The sound was long, loud, and incredibly powerful, shaking Zoey's consciousness and stunning her. Her magic interface appeared in her mind's eye and instead of it's customary blue outline, the color was the molten red she had come to associate with her Dark Star Runic Heritage. As she wondered what was going on, a voice echoed inside her mind.
"DARK STAR RUNIC BLOOD TALENT ACTIVATION COMPLETE
UNKNOWN ESSENCE SOURCE DETECTED
The voice was a deep mechanical bass that vibrated with primeval power and carried echoes of the sound that she had heard before. When it spoke Zoey was shaken out of her stunned state and focused her mind's eye on the interface before her that was still glowing in that same molten radiance.
What the hell was this??