Silvia smirked at Ian’s retreating figure.
Can she trust the weakness of the Frost Bear he revealed?
She had to remain skeptical.
After all, there had been rumors about Ian that had circulated for some time.
‘A man who would do anything to impress a woman.’
Ian’s reputation was the worst if you believed the rumors alone.
However, the Ian that Silvia had encountered recently was different.
Not even close. They had only been chatting today.
The Ian that Silvia had encountered was undoubtedly different from the rumors.
‘Could it be that I’m just not attractive… No, that can’t be it.’
Random thoughts crossed her mind, and Silvia shook her head.
‘… Ah, really.’
Silvia lightly slapped her cheek a couple of times.
Her flushed cheeks finally started to clear up.
‘Dating… of course I want to do it, but it’s not the right time.’
She couldn’t waste another minute to properly inherit and raise the Laurent family.
Can she trust his information?
The monster’s weakness was thrown into the conversation by someone who wanted to win a verbal argument.
‘What kind of idiot would name a monster’s weakness just to win an argument!’
Paradoxically, that’s why she believed it.
To Silvia, Ian seemed to exude a certain self-assuredness, even if he seemed a little outlandish.
A person who would lie about wanting to win a verbal argument or randomly confess as the rumors said.
At that moment, a gleaming blonde entered Silvia’s view.
Unlike Silvia, who had platinum blonde hair, Emilia Raymond had a continuous golden blonde.
Silvia’s (one-sided) rival.
“I know some strategies. Weakness? Ahaha… I don’t know that exactly, but it will definitely be helpful!”
Emilia Raymond, like a fox, swayed her tail as she confidently formed her team.
Seeing her in action, Silvia’s competitive spirit flared up.
She knew this feeling was envy, but…
“Just a moment!”
Silvia called out to Karina, the best Aether class scout, who was heading towards Emilia.
“I know the weakness of the Frost Bear!”
Emilia and Karina’s eyes widened.
In this way, Silvia was able to form a team with top-tier students.
Frost Bear faced like that.
Confronted with the Frost Bear like that, even the courageous Silvia couldn’t help but feel worried.
‘… What if it’s a trick?’
What if Ian was bluffing?
If people found out that Silvia’s information was incorrect… it would be disastrous.
She shouldn’t hold any expectations of forming a normal team in Aether from now on.
Silvia’s long eyelashes trembled.
“Silvia, what are you doing? Hurry up and tell us the weakness!”
“Hey! Are you going to make me regret choosing you over Emilia? What are you hesitating for, you little brat!”
The rogue youth, who could only handle a short dagger, was cursing inwardly.
“The Frost Bear’s weakness is behind the ear, on the nerves connecting to the face.”
They had crossed a point of no return.
She had no choice but to trust Ian.
If Ian’s words were true, she would be in deep debt.
The clear evening sky, a vivid shade of navy, was gradually concealing the setting sun.
A vacant lot near the cheap lodging, known for its low rent.
As usual, Ian was in the midst of his evening training, wiping away sweat and taking a seat on a nearby boulder.
Teaming up with the followers of the Bloodstone Cult was an unexpected mistake.
But at this point, it seems inevitable from a storyline perspective.
“There’s a high likelihood of getting involved with the Bloodstone Cult in some way in the future.”
In the scenario that was publicly revealed just before the possession, Ian witnessed the “Blackened” state of Pongpong, something that only the Bloodstone Cult’s followers experienced as an unavoidable fate.
The problem was that the way they would get involved was an uncharted territory not mentioned in the scenario.
“Let’s not overthink it.”
Ian shook his head from side to side.
No matter how much he calculated, there was no clear answer.
There was no need to panic or be fearful; he merely had to be prepared for the danger he was aware of.
And to do that…
‘I have to become stronger.’
The solution to all problems was the same.
Getting stronger, gaining the power to protect oneself.
No matter how terrifying the villains or the Bloodstone Cult followers might be, or even the impending presence of the final boss, becoming stronger would solve the problem.
This was the reason Ian was so obsessed with his training.
Although there were countless ongoing incidents, this was a time of relative peace. It was the perfect opportunity to strengthen himself, perhaps the last one.
Ian sat on the boulder.
He could feel it.
Within my lower abdomen—perhaps it’s what they call the Dantian—the gathered mana is incredibly pure and complete, akin to the mana emitted by the Earth Spirit deep underground.
When Ian possessed this body, he felt an incredibly pure energy, much like the one emitted by Gaia’s statue deep within the earth. He tried to emulate it.
Ian extracted the mana from the earth and purified it with his abilities, despite the fact that the amount of mana within his body had significantly decreased.
The result was that the mana was incredibly pure, devoid of impurities.
‘The path to becoming the strongest is moderation.’
Although there were numerous paths to rapid growth, there was only one path to becoming the strongest.
Ian opened his eyes.
The night sky was like something out of a fantasy, with countless stars and galaxies twinkling above.
Among them, there was a place Ian needed to return to.
And to achieve that, he was determined to become stronger than anyone else.
Of course, training wasn’t the only way to become stronger.
In fact, Ian was originally more inclined towards tricks and had an unwavering spirit of experimentation.
When he played racing games, he always looked for shortcuts by exploring different routes on the map.
In RPGs, he didn’t follow the guides but took unique and unconventional paths.
Within the scope of prioritizing training, he had been trying various approaches.
Extraction and Transformation.
Lately, he had been conducting experiments in parallel with that.
Thanks to these experiments, he had reached a few conclusions.
The first was that when enhancing the body through Extraction, it acquired the properties of the metal being extracted.
The extent to which these properties were acquired depended on the amount of metal extracted.
His fist now felt different from before.
He didn’t just coat the outside; he was conceptualizing absorbing the metal entirely.
The more of the metal he could absorb, the greater the properties he acquired.
The second conclusion was the limitations of Extraction and Transformation.
“Both Extraction and Transformation have their limits.”
It would be great if he could absorb all the extraordinary metal he wanted and carry it around, but that wasn’t the case.
At the moment, Ian could fully use Extraction and Transformation only on “Iron”.
One peculiar aspect was that the limit of absorption and transformation didn’t follow the properties of the metal itself.
‘It’s following the game’s metal grades.’
For example, soil was easy to extract and transform, followed by copper, and then iron at a moderate level.
Metals of higher grades, such as silver and gold, were even more challenging to extract and transform.
“Trying to forcibly extract higher-grade metals will lead to impurities being mixed in.”
Consequently, it made the difficulty of Transformation even more challenging.
The difficulty of Extraction and Transformation was also determined by another factor: the proportion of the mineral present in the surrounding area.
The more abundant the element nearby, the lower the difficulty.
At this point, a crafty idea, or rather a useful one, naturally came to Ian’s mind.
A unique weapon that only he could possess, or rather, could it even be called a weapon?
While training was always essential, sometimes you needed to inflate your stats in this way.
The corners of Ian’s mouth quirked up.
The next day.
During class break.
Silvia came to visit.
“How can someone not have a Kirtos terminal?”
She said abruptly, handing something over.
Lowering his head to check, it was a tablet-sized piece of paper.
“I’ve prepared it with an e-paper display, so please accept it gratefully as a commoner would.”
Ian marveled lightly.
This was an unexpected gift, wasn’t it?
And it was also a high-priority item.
He was planning to get one soon.
“Can’t you see that I couldn’t contact you? I was trying to get in touch through the e-paper display, without any fuss…”
“Hmph. You really don’t know how to be grateful, do you?”
Silvia’s cat-like eyes blinked slowly. She stared at Ian with her purple eyes.
Didn’t she hear?
Ian repeated once more, clearly and concisely.
Suddenly, Silvia’s face turned red.
“Th-that’s so sudden…!”
In a flash, Silvia ran away.
Her voice echoed back at an incredibly fast pace.
‘Well, that’s unexpected.’
He confessed or what?
He just said thank you.
Ian shook his head and returned to his seat.
It was time to focus on the class again.
Forgetting his lunchbox, Ian turned on the Kirtos terminal.
Suddenly, notifications poured in.
[Silvia]: Hey? Ian?
[Silvia]: Are you not familiar with how to use it, by any chance?
[Silvia]: Just touch the screen and type.
[Silvia]: Ian, please check Kirtos.
[Silvia]: Ah… really.
[Silvia]: Huh? I see.
[Silvia]: Ugh. Is it this difficult to get a response for a gift I gave you? What do you think?
[Ian]: I’m busy.
[Silvia]: Who isn’t busy? You should consider it an honor just to chat with me through Kirtalk like this.
Ian couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of Silvia, hunched over and pressing down the paper as she typed.
[Ian]: Anyway, thank you? I needed it even without that. Thanks, I’ll put it to good use.
The chat room fell silent for a moment.
[The other person is typing…]
That message appeared.
“What’s wrong, is it malfunctioning?”
Ian tapped on the Kirtos terminal.
It was a piece of paper about the size of a tablet.
There was no point in hitting it.
He tried shaking the terminal a few times and then set it down on a corner of the table.
A moment later, an alert sounded.
That was all.
[Ian]: You seem to be more ‘hmph’ than anything else.
A brief silence, and then several messages were sent in succession.
[Silvia]: The worst. Please refrain from that type of humor in the future. I’m begging you.
Certainly, Silvia had a tendency to throw some deadly curveballs from time to time. Her sharpness matched her elegant appearance, it seemed.
[Ian]: So what?
[Silvia]: I have something to ask.
He could guess what she wanted to ask.
She probably wanted to know where he got that information.
The value of information is as great as the value of the source.
[Ian]: It’s a secret.
It was regrettable for her, but he couldn’t reveal it. After all, he was the source of the information.
[Silvia]: I knew you’d say that.
He could imagine Silvia looking frustrated on the other side of the paper.
To Silvia, who wanted to win against Emilia, or rather, Raymond itself, no matter what, each piece of information held great value.
But there was no need to worry about that.
As long as the compensation was fair, he would be willing to sell the information she needed.
Silvia was calculative, but not selfish. She ensured that she provided fair compensation for the value she received. That was why Ian had chosen her.
Come to think of it, he realized something. Silvia’s Laurent also dealt with raw materials.
[Ian]: I’d like to reciprocate.
It was time to put that contact to good use.
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