The midmorning sun beat down on Dale as he traversed through the forest silently, moving through the underbrush. He looked up at the sky a few times, noting the similarities between the small sun that floated overhead and the sun that had floated above his last world.
A small clump of clouds floated across the lonely blue sky, breaking the glare of the sun briefly. Dale shook his head as the image reminded him of the small parrot that had accompanied him, a golden white bird he had dubbed Cloud. The odd creature was a loyal pet, but at the moment, was currently napping in Scholar Shen’s house. The scholar lived in a large building meant for a family of at least a dozen, so there was plenty of room.
After a moment, he turned his mind back to the present. The forest around him was filled with the sounds of light as creatures moved about. The caws of birds, rustles of land creatures, the cries of insects. The forest was alive around him, and Dale fell fully in tune to his surroundings.
In his past world, Dale had a total of two masters. His first master had passed away several years before he was transported. His first master had been a Time Knight, a warrior that manipulated the forces of Time in his world through mysterious techniques. It was from his first master that he learned much of his own Time Manipulation techniques. Unfortunately, while his techniques still worked, it seemed that in this world, the forces that bound existence were much, much stronger. He didn’t realize it till now, but the laws and forces in his own original world had been very relaxed.
One of the techniques his first master had taught him was a technique known as Perfect Balance. The technique involved Dale focusing on the energy in his Core and spreading it throughout his body. He would then emit the energy in a small, condensed bubble. This bubble of energy was invisible, and would encompass Dale and the area immediately surrounding him. Because of his connection to this energy Dale would be able to sense anything that entered into his range instantly, even if his eyes were unaware of said thing.
Dale took a breath and settled down on the ground, double-checking that he was sufficiently far from the village. He had traveled south, away from the village, and towards the area he had landed at on the floating island.
After taking heed of his surroundings, Dale knelt down and focused on the energy in his Core. A golden light suffused him as the raw power from his Core filled him, strengthening his body. He felt a slight rush as the energy was absorbed into him.
Dale immediately went through the techniques he had learned from his first master. He guided the energy carefully down his meridians and veins, taking great care not to rupture any of them. The energy in his body moved with a control and delicacy that was unheard of in someone his age, a result of the brutal training he had been through, as well as his own skilled comprehension. He had practiced this technique hundreds of times and managed to fine-tune his approach.
The energy flowed through his veins perfectly, vibrating softly in his meridians. A moment later, he began to spread the energy out from his body, feeling it transcend into the air. As it spread, it rebuffed and slammed against the natural energy present in the air.
After spreading for just around a hand’s length out, however, the energy he controlled stopped. It could not move any farther out, the pressure emitted by the natural energy of the world too great for it to continue. The tumbling currents that made up this world’s natural energy were too strong.
Dale shook his head a second time, slightly annoyed. In his home world, he had been able to spread his awareness out for dozens of meters, giving him a great deal of control. In this world, however, everything was stronger, from the people to the beasts to the air itself. He took a deep breath and redoubled his determination to grow stronger, not wanting to be left behind.
Despite only spreading a hands width out, Dale still felt somewhat relieved. His Perfect Balance allowed him to sense everything within a hands width of himself. While this might not seem like much, it was a huge boon in close combat, and something Dale liked to rely on when he fought in his previous world.
He whipped his hands through the air, feeling the powerful Core energy throb through him as he looked at his surroundings. He could detect the exact direction and force of the wind, sense every hut and hole in the earth he stood upon. Anything that came within reach of his Perfect Balance was made known to him.
Thus prepared, Dale jumped deeper into the woods to the south.
The forests that surrounded the Rayman village were filled with various powerful creatures. Many jungle cats and tigers inhabited the woods, preying on the abundant wildlife and fauna. All types and sorts of creatures inhabited this wooded area.
Profound Beasts, too, were quite common in these woods. While these beasts would only be the weakest level, they were still considered Profound Beasts that cultivated in the natural energy of the world. They were dangerous creatures that any regular human would instantly die to.
Dale dodged through several clearings and clumps of trees, avoiding a group of meerkats and a solitary hunting panther. He didn’t want to kill any regular beasts, just a Profound Beast. His need for a Profound Beast Core drove him forward as he continued to hunt.
After about five minutes of searching, mostly involving Dale dashing around the forest through the treetops, skipping from tree to tree and scanning his surroundings, Dale found his first Profound Beast.
Roughly 8 miles south of Rayman village was a large creekbed area that opened up to a large pond, similar to the pond where Dale had helped Scholar Shen fight off a pack of Lifish.
This large creekbed was home to a nearly three hundred foot wide pond, verging on becoming a small lake. This was the largest watering hole on the southern side of the Great Lake Island. Beasts and animals came to this watering hole all the time to sate their thirst or wash. The watering hole itself was a beautiful crystal clear blue, shimmering softly in the near noon light. Small fish could be seen, flitting about under the surface.
Trees covered the northern section of the watering hole, while a small empty plain sat where the southern section existed, opening up on to a plateau that eventually led to the edge of the Great Lake Island, where the rest of the Great Inner Sea flowed. Several small bushes dotted this plain, with a few small trees growing sporadically. It was nowhere near as cluttered as the main forest jungle, however, and the visibility on the ground was higher.
When Dale reached the northern side of the watering hole, he quickly took account of the surroundings, his eyes latching on to a commotion on the southern side. He steadied himself on a tree branch, keeping his arms still.
On the southern side of the watering hole, a large, glowing red snake was currently fighting against several forest cats covered in brown and black fur. There were roughly a dozen of these cats left standing. Six or seven of the same type of cats lay on the ground around the red snake, dead. Blood covered the nearby ground on the southern side, spattering about the earth. The corpses of the dead cats lay still, completely unmoving.
The glowing red snake was huge, easily five hands wide and at least three dozen feet long. It was covered in pure red scales that gave off heat and energy, tingeing the air with a slightly burnt smell. The eyes of the snake were mere slits that were currently trained on several of the attacking cats. Its long red mouth opened and revealed several rows of fangs and a sinuous, twitching tongue as the snake moved back and forth in mesmerizing patterns, preparing to attack its prey.
As Dale observed it, he immediately noticed the small emissions of energy the snake gave off. Instantly a smile appeared on his face.
“A Profound Beast! Alright!” Dale quickly withdrew Aarsasho, feeling the mighty claymore rest comfortably in his hands. He took a quickly glance back at the waterhole, preparing to jump down and enter the fray.
Before he could, however, he gaped in astonishment as a second Profound Beast burst from the undergrowth.
This Profound Beast was much smaller than the massive red snake that was attacking the forest cats. Despite that, Dale felt as if the creature he was now staring at was entire levels stronger then the red glowing snake. He could physically see bits of fire energy coming off the creature.
The Profound Beast that had rushed into the watering hole’s southern side wasn’t as big as the huge snake, but was still quite large. It resembled a horse, save for the fact that it was covered in scales and had enormous antlers. A long, brushy tail that seemed to be made out of pure fire attached to its rear end as it moved forward with grace. A majestic mane of hair accompanied its dragon-like visage as it cut towards the red snake. The moment this creature appeared, a powerful aura began to weigh down on the area, setting the creatures in the watering hole to trembling.
Dale observed several large wounds on the hide of this dragon like horse, seeing the blood leak from the Profound Beast. Before he could make any other observations, however, the horse beast slammed into the red snake, moving at a speed that was too fast for the snake to dodge.
The powerful glowing snake Profound Beast was instantly crushed, its body splitting into two as the horse like creature slammed down with a hoof. The instant the hoof made contact with the ground, a small explosion of dirt and earth clouded the air, and huge waves formed on the watering hole as the nearby ground shivered. Blood exploded out of the body of the now dead Profound snake, its remnants destroyed. The nearby forest cats were sent flying by the force of the blow, forced to flee.
Dale’s eyes shined when he saw the power inherent in the mighty horse creature. He instantly thought of what the Scholar Shen had told him about the Profound Beasts in this world.
According to the Scholar, Profound Beasts, as well as human cultivators, are ranked in terms of power on a universal scale. Because of the plethora of cultivation Arts and techniques that existed, as well as all the varying powers and attacks, there was no single specific ranking system.
Instead, a power ranking system was developed. In this ranking system, humans as well as Profound Beasts were ranked by Stars. A 1 Star Expert was the lowest level, while a 7 Star Expert was the highest level. In terms of power, the level between each Star was enormous, and not something that could easily be surpassed.
In terms of strength, Lei Bao, the strongest hunter in the Rayman Village, was considered barely a 1 Star Expert. A 7 Star Expert, Dale learned, was a force so monstrously powerful they could shape the heavens and sunder the earth. 7 Star Experts were extraordinarily strong in strength, and extremely rare, beings that rarely interacted with the regular world and were instead focused on successfully Ascending. 6 Star Experts were also extremely powerful and extremely rare, and also were said to focus on Ascending. In fact, as Dale considered the little information he had, any expert that had more then 1 Star was extremely powerful in his eyes. If he were to compare cultivation level, he would probably just barely be considered a 1 Star Expert. If they were to include his naturally powerful body and special techniques, however, Dale was confident his rank would be higher.
The Profound Beast Dale was looking at was a creature called a Qilin. As he observed the draconic mount rage and crash through the watering hole, he mentally decided to engage. The creature was obviously extremely powerful. A single, casual hoof stamp had obliterated the glowing red snake from existence. That level of strength meant that the Qilin before him had to at least be a 2 Star Profound Beast.
Despite that, the creature was already injured, and Dale desperately needed some type of Profound Beast Core if he wanted to cultivate. The opportunity provided by this Profound Beast was simply too convenient. It was time he tested his strength against the Profound Beasts of this new world.
With that thought in mind, Dale jumped off the treetop he had been standing on and leapt towards the Qilin, beginning his attack.