The corpse of a large, heavily built cat with a yellowish-brown leather coat and black spots lay in front of Michael. It had a gemstone embedded in its forehead, which made it easy for Michael to recall what type of monster it was.
"A fully matured Gem Jaguar? That's a Low Tier-1 Monster…" Michael mumbled to himself.
He turned to Fenrir and asked aloud, "Did you see many Gem Jaguars in the surrounding forest?"
Several deep gashes were spread across the Gem Jaguar's body, which made it clear that even a Heroic Summon such as Fenrir was not able to kill the Tier-1 Monster in a single strike. Michael hadn't expected something like that, in the first place, but he got a bad feeling.
Fenrir hadn't been out for long, but he had already found and killed a Tier-1 Monster. That could mean Fenrir was lucky and skilled, or it could mean something extremely bad.
"The entire forest is filled with Tier-1 Monsters. Gem Jaguars are only one of the many kinds of monsters I encountered while pacing alongside the protection barrier." Fenrir informed him. He was not injured and hadn't used a lot of energy to kill the Gem Jaguar since he made use of the territory's protection barrier.
'The entire forest is filled with Tier-1 Monsters?' Michael wondered before he spoke his concern out loud, "You mean the Gem Jaguar is one of the weakest monsters you encountered? There are no Tierless Monsters in this area?"
"This is the weakest Monster," Fenrir affirmed calmly, pointing at the Low Tier-1 Gem Jaguar.
The power threshold of all beings was not only divided into Tiers but was further classified to fit the refinement degree of a Tier. This was usually done in four ways, using the terms -Low, Mid, High, Peak. Some races used different terms, but it was all the same in the end.
Looking at Fenrir should have calmed Michael as well, but the Heroic Summon's calm attitude was more unnerving than calming to the heart.
'Tier-1 Monster…Is that why I received a sudden burst of energy from Fenrir's Link of Loyalty?'
Since Michael had never wielded the energy of the Origin Expanse, he didn't know what he was supposed to feel. He was also not sure how his War Rune would react upon getting refined. But from the looks of it, neither was anything special. The refinement of the War Rune tingled a little bit, and the energy influx spreading through the Link of Loyalty was barely perceptible.
'How the hell is that important now?' He shouted at himself in his head.
Michael had just found out a shocking fact; Tier-1 Monsters surrounded his Territory. How could he think about anything else?!
Usually, a Lord started in a region that was mostly inhabited by Tierless Monsters. In rare cases, there would be Tier-1 Monsters in the 'beginner-area' of newly appointed Lords. Even then, the Tier-1 Monsters were rather peaceful in most cases.
Unfortunately, it looked like Michael's bad luck struck him fiercely in the gut, once again.
'Would Fenrir be able to kill the Gem Jaguar without the protection barrier? No…even if he is a Heroic Summon, he is still Tierless…' Michael figured, his expression turning sour. Without the protection barrier, his territory would have already been bulldozed by now.
That was the most important piece of information he gauged from Fenrir's first hunt, and it was certainly not pleasant.
In 10 days he would be dead, and his territory would get razed, if he didn't do something to prevent it.
'I need to do something. If I leave the fate of my territory hanging like this, it's only a matter of time before my journey ends miserably before it even started!'
Leaving everything to Fenrir didn't feel right either. However, Michael didn't want to expose Tigerfang, not right now. It was as if something was holding him back from retrieving Tigerfang from the War Rune, though he was not sure why.
He was relieved that he had brought a hidden Artifact from home and that nobody knew about it.
'Why am I relieved about that? Shouldn't I expose it and help Fenrir go hunt? That way, both of us can increase the refinement degree of–…or am I worried about facing a Tier-1 Monster even though I'm still Tierless?... That's probably it…'
While Michael was deep in thought while keeping his eyes trained on the Gem Jaguar, Tiara smiled brightly. She bent down to take a closer look at the Gem Jaguar and diverted her focus to Fenrir a moment later.
"Please help me dissect the Gem Jaguar, Fenrir!" Tiara requested, pointing at Fenrir's spear.
They didn't have another weapon. After all, Michael continued to keep Tigerfang hidden, even if their situation demanded every bit of help they could receive.
Fenrir froze upon hearing Tiara's request. His eyes turned into slits and he kept staring at Tiara for several seconds.
Tiara was surprised about the sudden change in Fenrir's behavior but it was nothing too surprising. A true warrior would never accept being unarmed. The spear could be considered Fenrir's final lifeline, and he wouldn't hand it over – without a fight.
"My Soultrait should be better than using Fenrir's Spear. I can extract everything neatly using Extraction!" Michael intervened before the situation worsened.
He was not sure where the tension between Tiara and Fenrir came from because he had been deep in thought, but he didn't want the only two subjects in his territories to fight.
Michael squatted down next to Tiara, his eyes focused on the dead body. He stared blankly at the Gem Jaguar for a while as shudders spread through his entire body. It was the first time he saw a monster corpse up close. There was a lot of blood, and everything felt so different compared to the fights against the Emactyls in the final examination.
The Emactyls were recreated from reality, but they were just illusions, at the end of the day. It was different compared to the monster corpse, which didn't turn into countless particles upon getting killed.
'You are a Lord now…you need to be strong…a role model, a true leader! Get your act together, you fool!!!' He reprimanded himself.
A moment later, he extended his hands and came to halt a few centimeters above the corpse. Several streaks of golden light conjured within his palms. The streaks of golden light reached out to the corpse, and they got to work.
The gemstone embedded in the forehead of the monster detached itself, and it reappeared in front of Michael, completely unscathed and intact. There was not a single scratch on the tennis ball-sized gemstone. However, that was not everything.
lightsΝοvelA black ball with blueish glowing streaks of light spreading through it materialized next to the gemstone. It was of a matching size and was a Monster Core!
Every Monster had a Monster Core. The energy of the Origin was hoarded and stored in the Monster Core, refining it. In return, the Monster Core refined the body and mind of the Monster. It was similar to the War Rune in that aspect!
'An undamaged Tier-1 Monster Core of Low-quality, and a Tier-1 Gemstone. Looks like I'm quite lucky!' Michael thought, uncertain of what price both materials could fetch him. Artificers used Monster Cores and Gemstones as materials to craft Artifacts. Thus, they would certainly have some value, though Michael was not too familiar with the price range of most items.
But there were still more precious materials and items inside the Gem Jaguar. Michael's energy was quickly drained but he continued to use Extraction to search through the corpse for precious resources.
And as if on cue, leather parchments materialized in front of him. There was a total of four leather parchments, and they looked like someone had custom designed them for him. Each leather parchment was roughly the same size; perfectly fitting in his palm.
"What is tha–...Oh!" Michael exclaimed. He held the parchments high in the air and began to smile brightly when a flash of information entered his mind, 'Fragments of a Summoning Scroll!'
Michael knew that some Monsters in the Origin Expanse had a low chance of dropping loot such as Summoning Scrolls, construction blueprints, unique crafting materials, and even Artifacts. The drop rate was extremely low but it was still existent.
However, Michael never heard that it was possible for Fragments of a Summoning Scroll to drop.
The drop rate of unique loot was higher the stronger and more unique a monster. Nonetheless, Michael didn't expect much. The drop rates were simply too low. But Extraction changed everything!
His Soultrait could extract everything. This was something Michael had already figured out by digesting most of the information he received upon awakening Extraction. However, what he found out only now was that extracting 'everything' was much more than what was visible to his eyes!
Extraction was only a two-star Soultrait, but if it was truly possible to increase the drop rate of items unique to the Origin Expanse, wasn't that comparable to possessing a cheat sheet?
Michael's hair stood up on its end and excitement spread through his entire being.
'What else can I extract, other than Summoning Scroll fragments? Where is the limit? Is there even a limit, in the first place?!'
He chuckled as he kept Extraction fully unleashed on the corpse of the Gem Jaguar.
"To think that I would get excited after spawning in a Tier-1 territory full of ferocious beasts that can tear me apart with a single slash…I am utterly insane…"