Chapter 730: Walk In The Park
While Lysander was relieved by the young princess' rational mind, there was a certain Werebear not far from them who also breathed a sigh of relief: Kevin.
Since the Third Ordeal, Jake's philandering, brawling cousin had changed a lot too, both physically and mentally. In his human form, he was over two metres thirty, with a Herculean musculature and a hairiness matching that of his bloodline's totem animal. Despite the influence of the Myrtharian Body Passive, he had managed to retain his brown hair and green eyes, but their color had whitened by about two shades and now had a sort of otherworldly glow to them that they didn't have before.
In his current Werebear form, Kevin was an oversized grizzly bear with silvery-brown fur that stood almost two stories tall. This hybrid appearance was more lanky than that of a simple bear standing on its hind legs. His arms were longer, his shoulder build wider, his waist narrower and his muscles more toned. His morphology allowed him to easily wield a weapon or wear armor, but his beastly offensive attributes were also even more developed than those of a bear of the same race.
Whether it was his jaw, his fangs, his claws, all were clearly longer and sharper, almost disproportionate to the rest of his body, but he could retract the length of these natural weapons at will.
But if there was one thing to remember about all of these changes, it was the flame burning in his eyes. When he had just received his Bloodline, his yellow-orange irises glowed dimly when he transformed or used his powers. Now they were a glowing inferno and his irises were almost as crimson as those of a Vampire like Wyatt.
Indeed, over the past year plus the three months of this Fourth Ordeal, Kevin had never slackened his efforts and had become an Alpha Werebear. The larger his pack, the stronger he became and the more power he could draw from his subordinates.
Before the Fourth Ordeal began, he had managed to convert 40 of the new recruits after the Dungeon Digestor episode with the approval of Will and Jake. Unlike Will, who took a lot of initiative, Kevin had asked his cousin's approval before initiating his big project.
The 40 Werebears of the Myrtharian Nerds under his authority had not spawned near him, but they could feel each other's presence on Quanoth. Over the past three months, they had come together, with their Alpha serving as a rallying point.
During this same period, he had also gained the respect and defeated several other Alphas from minor packs and the number of Werebears under his command had grown to 113, including 3 other Alpha Werebears. Their willing submission had greatly increased his powers. Two more Alphas to convince and he would become a new Super Alpha.
Qewie and Lysander were obviously unaware of his schemes. All they could see of him was that he was capable, efficient and obedient. Although he was a new member on probation, he had proven that he could be counted on.
To avoid arousing suspicion, Kevin had not explained his origins and intentions to his new recruits, waiting patiently for the Myrtharian Nerds' Werebears to join him. It has finally happened.
Just now, when Jake had foiled Qewie's assassination attempt, he had succeeded in getting his message across. So it was with great calm that he read Jake's private message after receiving a system notification.
"See you at midnight at location xxx".
? ?? ??-??? ??, ?,?,? The xxx were obviously the coordinates of the magmatic chamber where Jake had secluded himself the past three months. Kevin couldn't help but chuckle under his breath as he found out where he had been hiding all this time.
'That's my cousin, all right.'
"Kevin, why are you laughing to yourself? You're creepy..." Qewie asked with her beautiful face suddenly filled with suspicion.
Realizing his slight misdemeanor, he rearranged his iron mask and apologized, pretending to despise the arrogance of this Mutant, who did not know the difference between heaven and earth. Qewie's and Lysander's doubts did not disappear completely, but it put them at ease for the time being.
As they left, Kevin looked back in the direction his cousin had faded and muttered inwardly with a look of concern,
"Whatever you're planning, Jake, hurry up. We're running out of time."
His conduct did not escape the notice of either Qewie or Lysander, but this time they were wrong in their interpretation, much to his delight. Fate could sometimes do things right. Strangely enough, this new mistake had just exonerated him by clearing up their doubts.
"It was your cousin, right? Is that going to be a problem?" Carmin questioned Jake anxiously after they left.
Having only known Kevin at his worst in the Third Ordeal, she only knew him as a cannibal. Even Wyatt, who had been with him and even led him during that time, said he had rarely seen such a cruel beast. The Corruption created by Nylreg had its part to play, as did his Werebear Bloodline, but it was a fact that Kevin possessed a certain darkness within him.
Knowing full well what was bothering her, Jake replied serenely,
"Don't worry. We can trust him."? ??? a ???e?
Nobody was perfect. Unless one was a monk who had renounced all desire and emotion and transcended his biological and psychological needs, no one was infallible. If there was a desire, negative emotion or drive to be satisfied, the Corruption could creep into people's hearts and amplify it until it overtook them.
Jake was no different than his cousin Kevin. Without his atypical personality and his mind-enhancing Bloodline, he would never have awakened his True Will stat and he would have like his cousin at the end of the Third Ordeal slaughtered everyone, friend and foe alike.
"Where do we go from here?" Carmin asked more calmly now that she was reassured.
"Really? Have you already forgotten why you came looking for me?" Jake teased her, rolling his eyes.
The young woman's lovely face lit up when she heard his answer, which made her look even more beautiful.
" Still, that's not the right direction..." She muttered with confusion.
"The Were-beings found us easily." Jake explained calmly. "I don't see why the other Factions wouldn't have found us either. My appearance must have been reported as soon as I arrived in town by a bribed guard or one of the beggars serving as their eyes in the Outer City. We need to lose our potential pursuers first."
Carmin became serious as she listened to his reasoning. Instantly, her thick blood aura was suppressed and her step became lighter and lighter until it became barely audible, as if she were as light as air. Not to be outdone, Jake began to levitate progressively, his boots touching the ground less and less, until they no longer touched the ground at all.
The couple turned right into an alley ending in a dead end and Jake wrapped his arm around her hip, pulling her against him as if they were a real couple.
Those who were tailing them sensed something was wrong and abandoned all thoughts of stealth as they rushed into the alley. Sadly, their bad hunch was not an illusion and when they found themselves stuck at the dead end without finding anyone, their faces turned pale.
One of them, a kind of black elf with eight violet eyes who seemed to be their leader, grabbed an ovoid device from his belt, then placed it in front of his lips and said shamefully,
"We've lost track of them, sir."
Obviously, Jake and Carmin hadn't just vanished into thin air. Jake had used his teleportation skill to lose his pursuers. With the shocking increase in his stats, Jake could now perceive the entire district by scanning it with his mental sense and teleporting away from his pursuers was a breeze.
In reality, they hadn't run far. The first teleportation had them appearing in a dusty attic in an adjacent alley, while the second teleportation allowed them to slip out of the slums for good. After a series of successive teleports, they arrived at the foot of the grand staircase and its multiple checkpoints leading to the Vampire District.
The only problem was that the staircase was far too long for Jake to teleport to without visual cues. If Jake could see anything from his position, so could his enemies and they would be flushed out in an instant. Vampires were no ordinary beings and deceiving their vigilance was nearly impossible. Nothing escaped their keen senses, not even the slightest air movement.
"Now what?" Carmin asked with some anticipation in her eyes. Jake's abilities were truly versatile. It was as if he had a solution for everything. Three months ago, he hadn't given her such an impression of omnipotence.
"No choice. We'll take the stairs." Jake shrugged with a smirk.
His free arm made hundreds of motions at a frequency imperceptible to the naked eye, but the flow of Aether rearranging itself around him moved hundreds of times faster. Carmin thought she saw a fleeting glimpse of an Aether Symbol for a brief moment, but it was gone almost immediately.
"Let's go." Jake said as he let go of her hip.
Puzzled, Carmin was taken aback when she saw him striding briskly toward the stairs, completely exposed to the guards' sight. Horrified, she thought he had decided to force his way up, but soon she noticed that the guards were ignoring him.
Suddenly, Jake's annoyed voice echoed telepathically in her mind,
"What are you waiting for? Follow me."
Flustered, she ran after him while vigilantly glaring at the guards a few feet away who were unable to perceive her existence.