The place was a small hill that worshiped the statue of the Hunter.
The hill wasn't big or tall but was filled with greenery. The most attractive point was the hunting hounds that filled the place.
To be honest, Kieran never saw that many dogs in his life.
There were black, white, yellow, spotted, small ones, big ones, long fur, short fur, all kinds of dogs.
With a single glance, the whole hill was surrounded by all sorts of hunting hounds that varied in color and species.
Fortunately, the hunting hounds were well-trained and had a higher intellect than others.
Without their master's order, they wouldn't commit anything dangerous, all they did was stare at Kieran and Lilith.
Especially the Frost Wolf pup that Kieran was carrying with him, it piqued the interest of the hound pack.
The Frost Wolf pup, however, didn't want to look weak, even if it was on its own, it straightened its ear and bore its teeth.
"It is really a decent animal companion! Of course, Lilith's choice of an Angrenar cat was perfect for a lady."
Herasu said with a smile while he raised his hand to scatter the hound pack.
"Thanks! I was planning to get a hunting hound in the beginning but Archpriest Fanny suggested to get a cat instead, saying that Lady Nillusuo is fond of cats."
Lilith said while fondling her cat's chin. Her cat had long fur, was small in size and had an unusual triple color of white, black and yellow.
"It's well known!" Herasu nodded with a smile.
The God of Love being overly fond of cats was not a secret. That was why the young ladies in Naveya wanted to get a cat for themselves, hoping that the God of Love will bless them with a beautiful lover.
The three of them continued forward and soon they saw the person under the Hunter's statue.
The person was Hunter Temple's archpriest, Krecko. He was tall and buff while donning a body of leather armor, he looked more like a blacksmith than a member of the clergy, to be honest.
He was holding a skinning dagger and was skinning a wild boar.
"Welcome, Archpriest Ryan, Priest Lilith! I was just wondering who the special guest for this Festival of Partners was."
Krecko quickly went over to the stream beside to wash his face and hands in order to remove all the blood stains on him before going up to Kieran to formally greet him.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Archpriest Ryan." Krecko saluted in the way of a priest.
"The pleasure is mine." Kieran, however, replied in a knightly salutation.
Lilith, on the other hand, took a step back before saluting in the same priest salutation.
It was the difference in identity.
Even if she was the heir to the next Love Temple archpriest, before she really ascended to the position, rules and manners still applied, the same went for Herasu.
After the official greetings, the group entered the main point of their visit: transforming their pets into real animal companions.
"Archpriest Ryan, Lilith, please bring your selected animal companion forth."
"No, no, just your pets, your person is not required in the ceremony. Since you both are not believers of the Hunter, you cannot accept the blessings from the Hunter. We don't want to have war with Thorn and Love Temple together. It'll be quite scary if Lady Vanessa and Lady Nillusuo gets angry," Krecko said in a joking manner.
The process after that went on smoothly.
When the hybrid Frost Wolf pup and the Angrenar cat were placed in front of the Hunter's statue, the ceremony of transformation officially began.
A pillar of light landed on the two pets, it lasted for 2 seconds before it faded away.
Kieran's sharp senses noticed something was different about the Frost Wolf pup after the pillar of light, its aura was slightly stronger and more importantly, its eyes became more human.
Then, Kieran saw the Frost Wolf pup run back to him and circle his legs. It would bite Kieran's pants from occasionally.
When Kieran bend down and reached out his hands, the Frost Wolf pup eagerly jumped into Kieran's hands, allowing Kieran to easily pet it.
At the same time, the information regarding the Frost Wolf pup appeared before Kieran for the first time.
[Name: Frost Wolf (Hybrid)]
[Type: Mystical Beast]
[Rank: Lower Medium]
[Attribute: 1. Anguish; 2. Frost Breath]
[Special Effect: Intellect]
[Prerequisite: The person that it recognized]
[Remark: This is an early stage Frost Wolf pup that has been blessed. It is much stronger, smarter than other Frost Wolf pups but still requires delicate care and raising to be a reliable helper and companion.]
[Anguish: When attacks with claws or teeth, Strength +1]
[Frost Breath: Fire a Weak level Frost Breath to attack a single target within 2-meter range, 1 per day]
[Intellect: Increase a certain level of intellect.]
"Not bad!" Kieran commented.
The comment was given to the Hunter's blessing and also to the Frost Wolf pup itself.
At the early stage, the pup already had the ranking of Lower Medium plus a decent intellect. If he were to raise it meticulously, when it reached the mature stage, it would definitely be a reliable helper.
Though Kieran would not thank Anxico for the companion.
Although he hadn't really guessed what Anxico was after, it was almost certain that Anxico bore malicious intent.
What he was after however was the million dollar question.
Kieran believed Anxico will not just wait it out like this, he would surely make a move soon.
Until then, Kieran would be waiting for it.
As for now?
"Thank you for everything," Kieran expressed his gratitude toward Hunter Temple's archpriest, Lilith beside bowed also.
"This is not my doing but the respectful Hunter! You two received the favors from the Hunter himself and surely you will be blessed as well! Archpriest Ryan, Lilith, care to stay to watch the ceremony?" Archpriest Krecko asked.
"Of course!" Kieran did not reject.
Firstly, he promised Herasu he would participate in Hunter Temple's Festival of Partners.
Secondly, the animal companion that had been extra blessed by the Hunter himself had the duty to witness the birth of new hunters.
Kieran and Lilith stood side by side. They saw a group of ten with mature and young faces come up to the small hill.
The rituals that the new hunters went through was different from Kieran's simple one.
The ritual for the new hunters was quite complicated, to be honest. Not only they were required to drink a green mixture of crushed herbs, but they also needed to feed their companion's the mixture via mouth to mouth and complete their vows before the Hunter's statue.
Most of the animal companions were hunting hounds but there were some exceptions as well. The eagle was the most common other than hounds but there was no lack of bears, wolves, and also wild boar.
When the new hunter fed the mixture to the young boar with his mouth, Lilith turned around as she couldn't bear the scene, it was too shocking for her.
Kieran, on the other hand, watched the whole process without blinking.
"I swear to treat my companion as my own brother and sister!"
"I vow to connect my life and my companion together until the very end!"
"I guarantee to care for it more than I care for myself!"
Solemn vows echoed around the small hill as the light from the Hunter descended on each of them, making the scene more divine than ever.
Each of the new hunters brought their own companion together in receiving the blessing from their God.
They would also receive blessings from their elders, families, and friends later, a feast was bound to happen tonight also.
However, disastrous news stopped everything at hand.
"Pudd was murdered?!"
Lilith covered her mouth, widened her eyes when she heard the news.
Kieran's eyes, however, were quietly looking at Herasu further away.