Reborn: Evolving From Nothing / Reborn: Evolving From Nothing Chapter 3: Growing

Dorian stepped forward ever so slowly, moving with extreme care along the tree branch he was perched upon. His instincts and ability to move using the Red Salamander body were somewhat naturally ingrained with his transformation, giving him control and ability a regular human couldn’t hope to have in the same form.

After a few more careful steps, Dorian was now perched a few feet over a small, running stream that was around two or so feet deep. Dozens of blue-scaled fish were visible moving through the stream, each equipped with a large, bluish white fin. Several small waves crossed over the surface of the stream. A few patches of grass bordered it, but for the most part this area of the forest was currently deserted.

A few tense moments passed as he looked down, unblinking.

Then, abruptly, Dorian’s instincts fired and he leapt directly downward without hesitation, dropping towards the stream.

SPLASH

Dorian fell into the river and immediately snapped down with his teeth, capturing one of the blue-scaled fish. The rest of the fish in the river scattered immediately, fleeing from him in waves. A small tang of red blood dripped out of the blue-scaled fish as it struggled in his teeth, dyeing the nearby water red.

The taste of the blood in his mouth, the frothy flesh of the small fish, was almost euphoric to Dorian.

In his mind, a small notification from the Soul Spell Matrix appeared.

-White Riverfin bloodline successfully stored-

– Growth Stage: (2/2) Mature Fish –

“Not bad. That one is finished up.” Dorian mumbled as he chewed on the remains of the fish, swallowing it down.

His palate after becoming a Red Salamander had changed greatly. As a human, eating food raw was something Dorian had never thought he would attempt. As a Red Salamander, cooking food was simply an unnecessary extra step.

It had been three days since Dorian first came to this world. In that time, he had been busy.

After fleeing from the rockslide caused by the clash of the two massive creatures on the mountain, Dorian had gone warily exploring in the depths of the forest. He took to the treetops as he moved, careful to avoid the attention of any other creatures if he could avoid it. He had fully adapted to moving in his Red Salamander body.

Dorian’s first goal had been to make himself a safe place to rest. After searching around for most of the first day, Dorian had found a tall tree that had been hollowed out at the top. For lack of any other places, he had made this his new temporary home, resting there for the night.

Night in the forest, Dorian found, was terrifying. Strange creatures moved about in the darkness, and constant howls and clashes of beasts rang out, coating the world in fear. Dorian was secretly horrified when he observed all of this, staying hidden in his treetop till dawn.

Dorian was now working on his second goal. Becoming stronger. Enough to survive without fear in this strange land.

According to Ausra, the more developed a bloodline was, in any creature, the stronger that creature would be. He could develop his bloodline by absorbing energy from other creatures, or finding more Red Salamanders and directly absorbing their bloodlines. He could also develop it naturally by aging, but that would take far more time.

Some creatures, like Red salamanders, naturally had the ability to Evolve.

Thus, Dorian had set off hunting.

“Ausra, how close am I to advancing to my next growth stage for the Red Salamander?”

Instead of replying to him, another screen and set of floating letters appeared in his mind.

-Red Salamander – Growth Stage: (3/5) Young Adult-

– Growth Progress – 97/100 –

“Almost there.” He muttered.

Over the past few days, he hadn’t found any other Red Salamanders, and had been forced to instead prey on other creatures and absorb energy from them to further his bloodline. As a side effect of that, he had gained several weak bloodlines that he could use in the future, like the fully matured White Riverfin he had just successfully completed storing. By storing enough of the bloodline of any creature, he could obtain a fully mature bloodline he could use later, to experiment or transform with.

Thankfully, due to his unique Soul Spell Matrix, he didn’t need to fight anything strong to grow stronger. Simply absorbing weaker creatures energy would advance his bloodline, albeit a little slower than if he killed stronger beasts. But in the long run, the results would be the same, so he didn’t really care. His own safety in this strange world was paramount.

“Alright, one more fish and that should be enough.” He muttered as he looked around the area around him. Besides the stream and a few patches of grass, the rest of the area was obscured with very tall, leafy green trees, covered in branches. He didn’t sense and other large creatures nearby, and felt relatively safe. He glanced upward, noting that it was only around noon. A large, yellow sun similar to Earth’s hung overhead in a sky almost devoid of clouds. He had plenty of time left.

Dorian crept over to the side of the stream, looking in the water. No fish were present nearby, having swum either up or downstream to get away from him. The blood from earlier had already been washed away, but Dorian knew it would be several minutes, perhaps longer, before any fish returned to this area.

As he was just about to turn away, a glint of gold abruptly caught Dorian’s eye. He paused, licking his lips in a decidedly Salamander fashion, as he focused on the origin of the light.

Sitting at the bottom of the stream, caught on some type of brown rock, was a shiny gold ring, with a small, blue gem set in it.

“Oh?” Dorian thought, taking a few steps to the side to get closer. He was soon parallel to the ring, on the side of the stream. The ring itself was in almost the exact center.

“Ausra, do magic rings exist?” For a ring to randomly be found in a river, especially so deep in this unknown forest, it couldn’t help but to rouse his suspicions.

“Any being with a powerful enough Soul can imbue certain objects with abilities from their Soul Spell Matrix. Additionally, talented craftsmen can use their own abilities to create unique objects with unique powers. I suppose these qualify as ‘Magic Rings.’ However, these types of objects are typically only found on bipedal creatures like Humans, Vampires, Boromers, Titans, or those of a similar nature.” Ausra helpfully replied.

Dorian felt a sudden desire to have the ring in front of him upon hearing this. Even if it was a regular ring, the only real downside was that he would get a little wet.

Dorian dived into the river, launching himself towards the ring. He sent his right claw out to snag the ring as he fell into the stream, cutting through the water.

Just as he was about to scoop the ring up, however, the brown rock it was resting on suddenly shook. A split second later, it flipped upward, transforming from a simple brown rock to some type of clam like object, snapping down on Dorian’s right arm with dozens of sharp, piercing teeth.

Dorian didn’t panic despite being surprised. As soon as his arm was trapped, feeling the pain of the sharp teeth start to dig into the scales of his arm, he made a second leap, blasting himself out of the stream. His powerful scaled legs contained enough force to break in half a small tree, getting out of the stream in a single jump was easy enough.

As he flipped through the air, Dorian twisted and brought his right arm down underneath him, looking at the clam like creature that was latched onto him. Despite the sharp teeth on the creature, it hadn’t managed to dig in far, the tough Red Salamander scales blocking most of the damage.

CRASH

Dorian slammed the clam creature down hard on the ground near the stream, managing to directly crash into a pile of rocks. As he did so, he felt several cracks appear in the shell of the brown clam creature.

“Get off me!” Dorian thought as he slammed the clam down on the rocks over and over. Despite being just around a meter and a half long, the strength of Dorian’s current body was far greater than his physical strength as a human.

After slamming the clam into the rock a half dozen times, Dorian felt its hold on his arm loosen. As soon as it did, he flung the creature away from him, hearing it splash into the river.

He stumbled backwards a step as he looked at his right arm, seeing several mangled tooth marks. The small wounds each leaked a small drizzle of blood. He shook for a few moments as he tried to calm down, swallowing hard.

“Damn… Okay. Alright. I’m fine.” He muttered in his head, still shaking. His arm began to feel sore as he calmed, the wounds prickling. Water streamed down his scales, forming a small puddle beneath him. Adrenaline filled his body, keeping him on edge. He breathed heavily in his salamander form, trying to calm down.

“Everything here tries to kill me. What a horrible place.” Dorian blinked, shaking his head. It was his own fault for being careless. He had never seen a creature like that, however, and had no idea it even existed.

“Should I go try to absorb it?” He thought, turning to face the river. He glanced up and down the stream, seeing no signs of the odd brown clam.

“Ausra, what was that?” He asked.

“While I can’t be sure of the bloodline of that creature, it had the appearance and pattern of a Brown Treasure Clam. These type of beings are unique creatures that have strange interactions with fate. It’s appearance in this area is most likely a result of His Worship twisting fate to send you into this world.” Ausra continued,

“Brown Treasure Clams adore objects that are heavily connected to fate, and are constantly searching for new, fated treasures. As for their normal interactions: When they go hunting for prey, they begin by injecting any beast that is foolish enough to touch them with a sleeping sedative. They then feast on the sleeping victim, usually resulting in death.” Ausra coolly replied.

“What? They’re poisonous?” Dorian turned to look at his wounded arm in alarm. He didn’t feel any odd effects.

“The Spell Matrix in your Soul was designed to give you the power to control bloodlines. Many types of bloodlines are poisonous in nature. His Worship foresaw issues like this, and thus added safeguards. Poison of almost all types will have no effect on you. Though your bloodline is truly that of a Red Salamander, any foreign substances to that bloodline will automatically be sampled and stored by your Soul Spell Matrix.”

“Oh? Can you show me what the poison was?” Ausra replied, curious.

-Brown Treasure Clam (Growth Stage 2/2) Venom-

Stored Amount: 30 mL

“Hmm, not a lot. Still, it could be useful for later.” He mentally tapped the screen away, watching it fade, before he responded, “Ausra, could you warn me next time if you see something like that, a creature you recognize?”

Ausra didn’t respond.

“Alright.” Dorian frowned. The Genie in his Spell Matrix seemed to only answer questions when it was convenient for it. Still, the assistance Ausra gave him was invaluable, and he had no real right to complain.

As he looked over at his slightly mangled right arm, Dorian managed a lizard like smile. He slowly turned his right claw upward, unveiling a small, golden ring. Despite not capturing the Brown Treasure Clam, he had at least managed to grab the ring it held. The damage he had suffered was inconsequential. Red Salamanders had a powerful vitality according to Ausra, and small wounds like this would heal in a few hours. Already they had stopped bleeding.

“Now… How do I use you?” He muttered in his head as he looked at the ring.

“Ausra, any ideas?”

Silence again.

“I guess I’ll try putting it on.” After thinking for a few moments, Dorian slid the ring onto his rightmost claw. He was prepared at a moments notice to tear it off, however, sitting on edge.

A few moments went by with nothing happening. Faint roars in the background indicated the presence of ferocious beasts moving through the forest. A small breeze picked up, fluttering over the stream Dorian stood by.

A golden stream of light gradually began to appear from the ring. Dorian watched as the stream of light grew in the air, fluttering around briefly. It then slowly flowed towards Dorian.

He watched as the light made contact with him, not feeling any sort of threat or danger. As it did so, a warm feeling of energy flooded into his chest. He also felt a small stream of knowledge appear, containing a short message.

“To whomever receives this, know that Fate has decided you to be the bearer of my death. I am the Illustrious Elder Mage Horhavil, reduced to death’s door. After mastering the Dao of Light and reaching the peak of the Angelic Stage of the Soul, I sought to break past the shackles that held me to the 30,000 Worlds and achieve Godhood.”

“Alas. I have failed. At the last moment, a cadre of sorcerers from my thieving allies, the Golden Kingdom, betrayed me, and struck me down when I was most vulnerable. Despite my deathly injuries, I managed to escape, striking down two of their Pariah Mages in the process and tearing a hole in the void, ending up here.”

“The site of my death lies here, deep within this beast infested forest. Between two shattered mountains, in the darkest pit of this valley, I breathe my last. My treasures are yours for the taking, I only ask that you one day inform Holy Duke Archel, of the Elector Empire, that the Golden Kingdom betrayed me.”

“Thank you. The Cycle continues.”

The message finished, leaving Dorian with a sense of wonder. Achieving Godhood? Mastering a ‘Dao’ of light? Such foreign concepts made no sense, yet held such fantastic promise he couldn’t help but wonder. He needed to know more of the world around him. Perhaps Ausra could help.

Before he could ask anything, however, Ausra’s voice appeared in his mind.

“Energy sufficient to be absorbed has entered your body. Would you like to absorb this energy to further the development of your Red Salamander bloodline?”

“What? Oh, the golden light.” Dorian immediately caught on, “Yes, absolutely.” He was so close to achieving the next stage, if the warm golden energy he felt within him was enough it should be no issue increasing his strength here.

“Acknowledge.” Dorian felt the warm feeling of energy within him faded as it was voraciously sucked into his Soul Spell Matrix, drawing away. As it did so, a pale blue screen with writing on it appeared in his mind.

-Red Salamander – Growth Stage: (3/5) Young Adult-

– Growth Progress – 786/100 –

Before he could react, a second screen immediately popped up,

Growth Progress Exceeded limit. Growth Stage Evolution engaged. Transporting to Evolution Space…

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