Advancements in Petnology — Part 1
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“Hey everyone, ready to go hunting?”
I greeted my pets with a wave as I stepped out of the cave that connected the dungeon’s living space to the outside world. Each of the five returned my greeting with a bark, squawk, or other cry of agreement as they lined themselves up and got ready to sortie.
“Normally, I’d say that we should get this show on the road immediately, but seeing as how you’ve all gotten your first evolutions, today’s going to be a little different.” I reached into my inventory and began rummaging around for a series of gifts while looking everyone over.
Yata had evolved from a dark crow into a nachtwing, Byakku had transitioned from a demonic cat into a fallen feline, and Wsprit had discarded its identity as a water spirit in favour of becoming an undine.
The physical changes that came with their newfound species tags were fairly noticeable. Yata had been noticeably scaled up as one would upon eating a mysterious mushroom. The part of him that had changed the most were his talons, which were much more jagged and intimidating than they had been before. Contrarily, Byakku hadn’t been upscaled, nor had she acquired any physical traits that made her seem deadlier at a glance. Her evolution had instead featured an increase in the number of tails she sported alongside a sleeker, shinier coat.
Wsprit’s physical adjustments were the least noticeable, as the watery creature kept switching between its new and original forms, with most of its time spent in the latter. Its secondary form could be, to an extent, described as feminine and anthropomorphous in nature. That said, it wasn’t exactly humanlike; its lack of facial features made it seem more like a mannequin than a member of any of the races. The spirit much more closely resembled Shii, who was capable of mimicking another creature’s form, than Lefi, who had literally turned herself into a humanoid. Though Wsprit more or less looked the same to my regular eye, my magic eye told me a whole different story. Its mana stores had improved considerably; it had much more than any of its peers, and was now capable of dedicating itself to playing the role of a backline support.
All four had long outscaled the southern Wicked Forest. Each was capable of coming out on top even when isolated and outnumbered. When working together, the group was even capable of taking down some of the monsters that lived in the western area’s outskirts. I was happy to declare that they were now fully and indisputably capable of functioning as highly effective guards—and much more. Each was actually powerful enough to be the lord of their own domain, to effectively seize control over and rule a territory as an apex predator if they lived anywhere outside the absurdly scaled Wicked Forest.
According to Nell, who happened to be familiar with many of the monsters and militaries that existed outside our little bubble, even a country would struggle to defeat all four of them at the same time. They would need to dedicate literally all the resources they could acquire in order to pull it off. She even went on to say that she couldn’t believe that they were not only our pets, but also ranked amongst the bottom rungs of the local corporate hierarchy. Sweet. I guess that means I’ve actually made some pretty good progress on that whole miniboss-filled dungeon plan I had going on, huh? Best part is that they’re only going to keep getting stronger.
While I certainly didn’t want them to be satisfied with the progress that they’d made so far, their growth most certainly deserved a reward. I’d made each of them a little something, and the only reason I had them gather in the first place was so I could hand said something over.
“Here they are,” I said, as I presented the accessories I’d retrieved. “Made to order exactly as requested.”
I spent a few moments placing three of the collars on the necks of the individuals that happened to have them, and affixing the last one to the individual that didn’t. Like Rir’s, my net pets’ chokers were capable of adjusting their size in order to fit whoever happened to be wearing them. I had actually bought original items with DP and made a few adjustments and modifications.
While I didn’t quite think that a set of collars really counted as much of a reward at all, they were apparently very satisfied and proudly showing them off to each other, which made sense given that they had specifically requested them. I mean, I kinda get that a collar might’ve seemed kinda special ‘cause Rir was the only one that had one, but it still really doesn’t seem like much to me… Oh well, they look happy, so whatever works works, I guess.
Everyone’s collar was a bit different, but Orochi’s and Wsprit’s were especially outstanding due to the properties associated with their bodies. Orochi’s scales were too slippery for a regular collar, and Wsprit was literally made of water, which as far as I was aware, wasn’t capable of actually wearing things in general.
The serpent’s neckband was configured to stick to him through the power of magic, while Wsprit’s was more of a reverse accessory in the sense that the undine was being worn by the collar as opposed to the opposite; the accessory was floating around inside the undine. Moreover, Wsprit’s “collar” wasn’t actually really a collar at all. It only consisted of the medallion that normally hung off the center, as I didn’t feel like it made sense for the spirit to have a random set of chains floating inside of it. Not gonna lie, I could’ve finished these earlier, but I totally started procrastinating because I had no idea what I was supposed to do about Orochi and Wsprit for the longest time…
“I’m glad you guys like them,” I said. “Keep up the good work.”
All four immediately stopped showing off to each other, snapped to attention, lined up, and bowed their heads.
“Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s goooo!” I killed all of the excitement that came with the extended syllable halfway through saying it as I happened to notice a certain someone pop up out of the corner of my eye. “Wait, Lyuu? What are you doing over there?”
The warwolf, who had been poking her head outside the cave’s entrance, laughed awkwardly upon being discovered. When the hell did she get there anyway?
“Nothin’ yet,” she said, shyly. “I just was feelin’ a bit like joinin’ you. Can I?”
“I mean, I don’t mind, but you sure you actually wanna tag along? All we’re doing is hunting, which isn’t exactly very safe or entertaining.”
“Well uhm… I was just thinking that unlike Lefi ‘n Nell, I’m a bit of a weakling, so I don’t really get all too many chances to get out of the house,” she said, while blushing and laughing nervously. “And I was thinkin’ I kinda wanted to spend some time with you.”
By getting out of the house, I’m guessing she actually means heading out to the different kingdoms and whatnot as opposed to just getting to go out into the Wicked Forest. Man… not going to lie though, she caught me completely off guard with that line. It was cute as hell.
“Uhm… What’re you doin’, Master? Why’d you suddenly start posin’ all weird like?”
“Don’t worry about it. Just pretend it didn’t happen,” I said.
Her adorable statement had left me so shocked that I had unconsciously struck the sort of pose that would have made me seem as if I belonged to a long line of extremely muscular men with the tendency to go on bizarre adventures.
“Anyway, the answer’s yes. Feel free to tag along, but I wasn’t kidding when I said it was dangerous, so make sure you stay right beside me, alright?”
“Alright!” said the warwolf, giddily.
With her by my side, I marched straight into the Wicked Forest and got ready to test my latest creation.
“Weren’t you gonna be usin’ Enne today?” asked Lyuu, as she noticed the weapon I had strapped over my shoulder. “And what the heck is that anyway? It’s nothin’ like anythin’ I’ve ever seen before.”
The trip had delighted her. I needed to sit behind her and make sure she wouldn’t fall off, even if Rir was to accelerate, so I couldn’t always see her face, but the few glimpses I caught from time to time made it clear that she had retained a big, happy smile throughout the ride.
“Mhm… I have to wait my turn today,” said Enne, who was sitting in front of Lyuu. Her voice had a bit of a dejected ring to it. Erk…
“Y-yeah. I-I wanted to give my newest creation a test.” Wracked with guilt, I spoke with a bit of a stammer. “But don’t worry, there’s no need to feel bad. I’ll definitely use you once I’m done.”
The newest addition to my armory was a cannon that ran on magical energy. I’d named it Kahou, or Culverin’s Blossom, for those not so versed in my mother tongue. The idea behind it was to take a ship’s main armament and turn it into a portable heavy gun I could go rambo with. It featured both a trigger and a grip, but no scope, as it was intended to be fired from one’s waist. Its design wasn’t exactly what one could call viable for most people; it was basically for my use only.
To be perfectly honest, the magical armament wasn’t all that original. I’d more or less taken a series of concepts from the one gun I’d won from the gacha when I first started out and applied them to a larger vessel. That said, as far as firepower went, the difference between the two was like night and day. Having a much larger barrel put Kahou at a major advantage. It was quite literally capable of terraforming, albeit through wanton destruction. A single shot could quite literally alter the landscape.
Fully charging the weapon made it possible for it to fire a bolt as powerful as the Leviathan’s breath. Under normal circumstances, I would’ve configured the weapon to do exactly that. Lefi’s influence made it so that I was very much inclined to focus on pure firepower. But I didn’t do that this time. This “gun” came with a mechanism that limited the power of each shot; I’d made it with longer, more drawn out battles in mind. That said, it can’t actually do anything even remotely close to a full auto barrage. Cannons and full auto don’t exactly actually work together. Just saying.
The best I could do was two consecutive shots, as the mechanism I’d installed allowed me to split the mana loaded inside the barrel into two partitions. All the practice I’d put into the fine control of my mana made it so I needed about thirty seconds to fully charge the weapon, which wasn’t great, but it wasn’t the end of the world either. I’m going to need to think carefully about when I fire it.
Unfortunately, Kahou wasn’t very efficient. I could only manage ten shots before running out of mana, and that was assuming that it was fully loaded to start with—and that the limiter was turned on. Well, at least I’ve finally found a decent use for all those mana pots I’ve kept sitting around.
I had already considered a number of potential upgrades, such as hooking it up to some sort of magical battery in order to improve its mileage and make it more viable in the longer term. A mark two was definitely in the works, but I needed to run a few more tests before I really began drafting up any serious plans.
As could be surmised from my newest weapon’s projectile-based nature, I hadn’t actually planned on frontlining today. I’d originally intended on backing them up and quite literally functioning as one of the big guns. But I also didn’t want Enne to sulk. She hadn’t actually said anything about it. In fact, she even tried to play off the fact that I wasn’t going to be using her as no big deal, but I could clearly tell that she was feeling a bit down, so I didn’t really have any other choice. You know, thinking about it, Rir’s probably pretty tired right now, huh? He’s got Enne’s real body strapped to his side and three whole people on top of him. Man… that sounds rough. Sorry dude, but you’re just going to have to cope. Iunno about you, but I’d rather not see Enne be all sad.