She knew it, he knew it, so why was he in such a hurry to learn the craft?
"I'm sure you can see it. Something horribly wrong is going on in this place. The girl has a point; Viscount Olaf would never waste the required money to carry out such an operation. Better, the man doesn't have the skillset. This is either the work of a biomancer or a high-level technomancer skilled in genetic engineering and all manners of DNA modification.
The dying are those…" Kilian began, but before he could finish his words, Jezebel ended them for him "...that fail to take the change—whatever it might be." Although she'd not followed the three in their explorations, Jezebel's senses swept the slums, locating all the afflicted and briefly studying their condition. Granted, she couldn't say with certainty how the culprits engineered the process, she now saw the general outline and expected consequences.
But why did that matter?
"I know you want to use these parts as the first step of your revolution. But it's unnecessary trouble. At worst, you take the viscount, empty his house's wealth, and start over elsewhere. Ostria's self-destruction has nothing to do with us." Those were reasonable words. However, Kilian thought otherwise.
"I will stop you right there.
First, we are dealing with a faction whose might and objectives we know nothing of. Obviously, they do not dare to challenge the empire openly. But behind the scenes, they don't seem to have that many scruples. If they did, they wouldn't target 30,000 people.
I infer that Ostria is merely the first guinea pig. If that faction's work bears the expected fruit, nothing stops them from repeating the same thing elsewhere. And what if we stand in the new area? Run again? No.
If a truck barrels into me, I will have it turn back. If a mountain collapses, I shall revert its fall, and if a thunderbolt strikes, I shall send it back into the heavens.
Never, never again will I allow helplessness to be my sole recourse." The words burst from Kilian with an intensity that - for a second - made Jezebel stagger. Better, due to their bond, she could feel the billowing flames of determination within his heart. Never did she expect that her casually spoken words would trigger such a fierce reaction from him. But then again, what did she know of his experiences?
Following a brief pause, Kilian pursued.
"Moreover, what if here lies an opportunity? What if we can turn the ploy to our advantage and reap the true mastermind's benefits? What if I can not only get wealth but weapons at one third the price? As for the effects of fehl magic, I have a plan."
Even without fehl magic - as long as the mutants breathed - the taint would slowly spread, undeviatingly driving them into embracing the beast thriving within their souls. The fehl attribute aside, a critical reason why fehl magic hastened the descent into insanity was its weight on "will."
There was no such thing as chants or incantations when fehl magic was concerned. Therefore, just like fehl daemons, mutants and beasts dabbling in fehl magic did so using their will as the medium. Alas - in typical cases - the will of non-fehls couldn't compare to that of the daemons. It wasn't merely a matter of willpower. The very nature of their psyche differed.
Another issue was that fehl magic started at the third circle. They had no such thing as First and Second Circle spells. Therefore, although in terms of will Kilian exceeded low-level magi, learning fehl magic before the High Emissary rank wouldn't leave him unscathed.
At least not unless his dra control abilities reached the High Emissary threshold. To reach High Emissary tier dra control in less than three days: That was Kilian's plan. If anyone heard those words, they wouldn't even bother to call him insane, and directly alert the psychiatric authorities.
Madness, it was pure madness!
And as she stared into Kilian's cold -- yet blazing eyes, as she experienced his surging determination, Jezebel could guess the words about to leave his lips.
"Use a Fourth Circle Overdrive spell to multiply my learning pace by 256." In the instant those words echoed, a gush of cold wind blew on the scene, making Jezebel's skirt flutter as she pried into Kilian's hazel eyes to ensure that her ears didn't betray her.
When convinced they didn't, Jezebel stretched her right hand toward Kilian's forehead, "Strange; your temperature seems fine. You're sure you didn't go mad from a fever?" She seriously asked. Overdrive was a common spell among non-human magi. Each level multiplied the learning pace by the matching power of four: four, 16, 64, 256, and so on.
On immortal races such as the fehls, the chiropterans, and the like, higher levels of Overdrive merely left them in an increasing sense of weakness. But on mortals, the aftereffects were not only worse but also cut lifespan.
10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%. Mortal races couldn't go beyond the Fifth Circle Overdrive. Although Kilian now possessed five times the average man's lifespan, a Fourth Circle Overdrive spell would reduce him to a maximum of 125 years. Considering his age and future prospects, the 375 years worth of loss might not seem significant, but nerve-racking physical damages awaited.
Burning at a wooden stake would feel no worse.
Little did Jezebel know that Kilian already perished from a Baptism of Fire. Before that three hours long, slow roasting, no manner of physical damage would ever again matter.
"If I went mad, it's from staring at you for so long," Kilian replied with a radiant smile, grabbing Jezebel's wrist, and lowering her palm back onto the roof.
"Well sa-...wait, what?" At first, Jezebel thought the words pleasing to the ears, but once she registered the hidden meaning, they stung her mind. Her Lothario indeed was as smooth as he was ruthless.
Meanwhile, with his lips curved in that radiant smile, Kilian motioned for Jezebel to pick up the pace, and stop wasting his time. Seeing this, she shook her head.
"Ah, my little Lothario, for the sake of seeing you smile more often, I don't mind being the butt of your jokes." Jezebel sobbed like a wronged wife's veiled complaints. Rolling his eyes, Kilian pulled her hand and leaped from roof to roof—leading her toward one of the four major gangs' locations.
In a flash - he cleaned the trash - and readied the place for their occupation.
Never did those mobsters expect that in broad daylight, a blur would assault them—sending them spiraling, like missiles, into the sky. By the time they dropped back onto the ground, Kilian had taken them into his Hellforge, erasing them through the Experience Refiner.
On average, the 26 man-strong gang provided him with 3 k.p. per head. A paltry amount that still boosted him by an extra 78 k.p. Kilian now had 243. Quite obviously, the kidnaping and refining of legions was the best way to pile up knowledge points. Through this method, quantity could make up for quality.
But though this method could enable him to abuse the system, Kilian had no interest in spending the remainder of his life shoving men into test tubes. And to say nothing of the unwanted attention he'd undoubtedly draw, Ashera's words still rang in his mind.
"Having chanced upon a relic of Arkhan, your luck is indeed quite rotten. This little thing can help you accomplish wonders, but beware. Don't let it ruin you before I get my due." The words needed no explanation.
The system was no friend, but an ally of fortune. Therefore, as far as it was concerned, he could only thread with caution. Perhaps overloading it with too much k.p would end up backfiring?
Kilian wasn't so conceited as to think himself the first owner. How then did the others die? Natural cause? Enemies? Or perhaps they all reached a certain knowledge quota, and ended up devoured by the so-called Arkhan!
Alongside Jezebel, Kilian settled within the previous gang leader's room—sitting crossed-legged while she knelt before his back.
"Your life, your choice. But you will pay back every iota of pain in bed," Jezebel declared before pressing her silky palms against Kilian's upper back.
"Fourth Circle Spell: Overdrive."
Guided by her will, Jezebel's dra gushed forth, permeating the air to morph into four sky-blue circles. The circles surrounded Kilian, trapping his form in a sky-blue whirlpool of arcane light.