”Yall need to pay for the room you will be stayin in. ” The long-bearded man on a plain brown shirt stomps his forearm at the inns counter desk, frowning at the pair before him.

”But if both of us are new Transfers, we can help tend to the customers needs in the canteen for the first night, right? ” Vi lands both her palms against the wooden desk. Her eyes are frowning while her cheeks are puffed.

”We know the rules, old man Daryl. ” Keen keeps his face anonymous, but his presence is obviously intimidating.

The old man flinches back subconsciously, reaching for a gold-plated key with a clover shaped tip from the key rack. The red-clad man may have seen the name plate above his left breast pocket.

”Fine, fine. But don cause a ruckus. ” The old man avoids the man in scarlet, hooded long coat. ”There are already enough Transfers doing canteen service work. The two of you can instead look after the stables across the street. Your duty ends by 10pm. ”

”Roger that, ” Vi winks at the bearded man.

”Well pay for a months worth by tomorrow, ” Keen turns away from the trembling man.

”You don need to — ” the old man tries to raise a hand in protest, sensing something ominous from the duo before him.

But the two are already gone from his sight after he sees the red-clad man tap the shoulder of the beautiful woman with cinnamon rose hair color, as if they mixed with the air as a dark mist blown by a breeze.

A jolly group of Transfers drinking booze at a round table twenty feet from the inns counter turn silent when one of them, supposedly the leader, sees the manner of exit of the two new members of the inn. He has greyish hair, deep brown eyes, a sharp nose, and three scar marks on his right cheek. He wears a beige tank top and white shorts, emphasizing a fully muscular body. A large hexagonal shield lies beside him with half of it covered by a sort of drapery.

”Whats wrong, boss? ” A woman with cats ears over her head inquires him. Her eyes also resemble those of a cat, which pose the same amount of unfulfilled curiosity.

The other jabbering members of the group are engulfed in the sudden silence and fixed gaze of their leader in the inns exit door.

”I think I finally found the last ability classes we are missing in our gang, ” he smirks.

After finishing their night duty at the inns stables, Keen signals for them to return to the inn so Vi can take a rest.

”No, ” she interjects. ”We still need to train, right? There is no better time to do so than tonight. ”

”Worried that I won be at my full strength in the morning? ” Keen replies in his usual deep and coarse voice. He wants her to remember what he did in the dark alley with the mob of high-level Insanes earlier today.

”Time is our greatest enemy here, right? ” she replies decisively.

Right. Just less than a day of being in Esprit and he almost forgot his purpose of trying to get off Esprit as fast as he can. Thats why he didn want to involve Vi in his journey. But then the System tells otherwise. Suddenly, a thought occurs to him.

The System did not tell him to save Vi, but then gives him a mission now to train her until she reaches level ten. He argues, however, that the System did not specifically ask for him to train Vi. It just mentioned that he needs to train a subordinate within 48 hours. But it seems to be no coincidence that the mission appeared at the time Vi was inviting him to join the Party.

Is the System actually sentient? Keen is lost in his thoughts.

”Keen? ” Vi tries to reach out a hand to touch his back. However, he returns to his senses shortly before that.

e right. Some other portion of our memory is being removed once per day. Following that logic, we need to make sure that we collect as much Release as possible within a day while securing our remaining memories in some way. ” Keen guides her to an exit behind the stable.

”It exposes two main problems, ” Vi interrupts him.

”Yes, ” he admits, but to no defeat. ”One is that not all Release we can gather are necessarily ours. Once the core of the monster is destroyed, the Release is forcibly implanted into our minds. The second problem is whether we can avoid our remaining memories from being absorbed by Esprit. ”

”It almost feels like Esprit itself is a mind-eating beast. ” Vis own contemplation gives her chills.

”A beast…which has its own core. ” Keen whispers. It sparks Vis curiosity, which makes her step closer to him. He once again leaves her in a speechless daze when he grabs and carries her in his arms. He then uses his immense speed to leap over the buildings without making any sound.

Meanwhile, Vi has her eyes closed. She is unable to process the image of things around her besides the distinct presence of Keen holding her body against his. Keeping her eyes open almost makes her vomit. However, her palm instinctively reaches out to his chest to try feeling his heartbeat. She feels something throbbing, but a faint one.

With a conclusive high jump several meters above the ground, the two reach the place beyond the northern gate.

The night is so dark, but the moon provides a soft light that exposes a large den of monsters inhabiting the surface of the ground. Right outside the militarys secured wall lie dozens of giant worms with razor sharp blades as their teeth. Not far away are six-limbed crawlers with a humanoid but disfigured head without hair, eyes and nose. Their mouths are askew, as if the lower jaws have been mutilated out of place while screaming. Further ahead are twenty-meter centipedes posing as hostile cobras with a pair of heads elevated six meters above the ground.

The first monsters to notice Keen and Vis presence are four snake-headed giant spiders with dragonfly wings that span twice their body size. Beyond them is a vast forest several miles wide with a lake at the middle.

”Vi, ” he looks down to gaze at her lovely face against the soft moonlight. Her hair, which stretch down to her collar bones, are dancing with the cold breeze while he stands suspended in mid-air. ”Take out your knife. We are out in the hunting grounds now. ”

As if waking up from a deep slumber, her eyelids twitch for a few seconds before finally revealing the eyes that seem to absorb his very essence. Surprised by his close look, she pushes herself away from him. However, his firm grasp doesn allow her to be separated from his cold body.

”Put me down. Now! ” Her strength is nothing compared to the vampire holding her.

”You really embrace death far too easily. ” A chuckle escapes his mouth, making Vi look away in embarrassment.

When she turns her head sideways, she realize they are descending from so much height. A high-pitched scream belonging to Vi echoes in the cold air. She feels as if her heart and very soul are left above while her body free-falls toward solid ground.

”Im gonna die! ” She put both hands over her face, refusing to embrace Keen.

”I honestly heard you tell me earlier to kill you already, ” Keen teases as they continue accelerating downward. ”This is just like riding a roller coaster. ”

”Im afraid of heights! ” she screams.

”Oh, sorry. ” The two of them reach the ground, but Keens feet touch it soundlessly. A cloud of dust ten meters in radius fills the air and instantly hides their presence. He puts her down gently and lets her feel the dry ground with her footwear. ”Its okay now. We
e at the ground. You are alive. ”

She opens her eyes and is welcomed by their temporary smokescreen. She turns around to Keen with the knife motioning towards his neck. ”Ill definitely kill — ”

A giant snakes head comes striking at a fast speed through the dust. Before Vi can even react, Keen has already pierced the creatures head with his . However, the five-meter high spider body attached to it continues to crawl to her direction. Another from Keen slices the monsters body in half, revealing a dark purple gem that is self-illuminating. The rest of what used to be the snake and spider hybrid starts deteriorating into black pixels.

”Maybe thats the core containing Release? ” Keen passes beside her while the dust cloud starts to settle back to the ground.

Vi is left speechless at how naturally his vampire savior killed a monster outside the borders of Topsy Town. ”Strong. ”

”There are still three more of that kind. They are perceptive. ” Keen puts both hands in his side pockets. ”They saw us while we were still up. An assassins role is to immediately eliminate those who saw its presence, if within his capabilities. If not, fleeing is the best decision. ”

”You are too strong to be a level one. ” She increases her focus in her surroundings while only displaying a common knife as her main weapon.

”I never said I am level one. ” Keen looks over his shoulder to her direction. ”But this is indeed my first day in Esprit. ”

The three other snake-spider hybrids he mentioned seem to have become more cautious with the immediate death of their vanguard. Keen senses their presence near Vi, but not attacking haphazardly.

”How is it possible that you are already that strong since your first day here? ” Vi finally feels the presence of three monsters about to surround her. ”Even for a vampire ability class, that is quite a feat. ”

”You are revealing yourself too much. ” Keen teases. ”Now you have to eliminate them all. Sharpen your senses. ”

Without her active skills, Vi will only be relying on her human instincts and passive skill to survive. Furthermore, she doesn know if Keen will still save her this time. And she even promised to get stronger under his guidance. So she can be equal with the one who saved her.

”You can do it. ” Keens gentle voice dilutes her focus. But rather than being at a disadvantage, an idea comes to her mind.

With a swift shift to an offensive form with her knife, three snake heads strike towards Vi at different angles and speed while completely ignoring Keen on the other side of the fading dust cloud. However, she crouches down to grab some pebbles and dust which she throws randomly upward. The snakes instantly change course to follow what she threw. The three heads fall to the ground two seconds later, dead. Vi has slit the throats of all the monsters while they chased the pebbles she used as decoy.

The dust cloud hiding their presence has now completely vanished. Before the other monsters can see them both, Keen slices the three other snake-spider hybrids to reveal their core, gathers the luminescent purple gems, and grabs Vi by the arm to run towards the forest ahead.

”Great job. You realized their anxiety. ” Keen is surprisingly running in the same pace as Vi.

”The first one was like the alpha of the group. ” Vi smiles, cheerful that her deduction was right. ”Otherwise, the three others would have simply attacked regardless of the death of the first one. ”

”Correct. ” Keen feels the sudden urge to pat her head gently, but the priority is to take cover in the forest. ”Without a commander, the others entered a panicked state and were ready to attack anything that showed movement within the dust screen. ”

”I also observed that you were limiting your motion. I was creating a lot of movement and then suddenly felt the monsters gathering around me. But if there haven been enough pebbles on the ground, I would have been dead. ” She just realizes how close to death her situation was.

Keen waves a hand dismissively. ”You think I would let that happen? ”

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