The first thing Leguna saw when he woke up was the face of a man in his forties. While he looked middle-aged just like Soram, he was far more pleasant looking than the chubby man.
It ought to be the most handsome man Leguna had ever seen in his life. His facial features were well-defined, especially his distinct lips and tall and thin nose. The wrinkles granted by the passing of time only served to add an air of wisdom. Coupled with eyes that flashed with intelligence, his face was one that could make 90 percent of women swoon dreamily.
"Mister, where am I?" asked Leguna as he rubbed his temples and got up.
At that moment, he carefully recalled what happened just before he fainted: Cyranos's tragic death, the orcs' attack, Vera's capture, and Kurdak's serious injuries. It all flooded into his mind like horrible nightmares. After recalling everything, his heart skipped a beat when he wondered how Kurdak was doing.
"Mister, how's my Boss doing? Umm, he's the huge man with us previously," asked he hurriedly.
It was only then that he saw the man's long and pointed ears and realized he was an elf.
"Darn, I forgot elves don't understand the common tongue!" He no longer hesitated and started getting up in an attempt to look for Vera and Kurdak outside.
"Hurry not, child. Your body is still weak," said the elf with a deep, magnetic voice.
Leguna didn't hear any of it; the only thing he could be bothered with was the fact that the elf was talking to him in the common tongue.
"You can speak the common tongue?" asked he, surprised.
"Of course. I also lived in the human realm at one point in the past," replied the elf with a smile.
"How are my two comrades doing? Are they alright? Can you take me to see them?" asked Leguna urgently.
"Worry not, your friends are not in danger of dying. The girl, Vera, is awake already. But before I take you to them, I have a few questions," said Eiron slowly.
"... Alright... Ask away."
Leguna was greatly relieved when he heard the others weren't in any danger. He tried to suppress the urgency he felt and prepared to answer the elf's questions patiently. He was asking a favor of the elf and it was best for him to act more respectfully.
"Tell me your name, identity, and your purpose for coming here," said the elf to the youth before him.
"I'm Leguna, a mercenary living in Starfall. My party recently took on a mission to kill a crimsonblood bear in the forest. When we were on our way back after completing the mission, we were attacked by a band of orcs. As a result, one of my comrades was heavily injured. Since we were too far away from any city or town, we could only seek your help," Leguna summarized, before gingerly asking, "That comrade... How is he doing?"
"So that's how it is... Child, your comrade isn't in the best condition. But don't worry, he's in no danger of losing his life, at least not today."
When the elf mentioned Kurdak's condition, Leguna's expression visibly dampened, so he hurriedly tried to console the youth. He didn't doubt what Leguna had told him at all. Before he woke up, he had already dictated a lie-detector spell on him. The spell he unleashed showed the youth didn't utter a false word.
"What do you mean when you said he wouldn't be in danger today?" asked Leguna after noticing the catch in Eiron's words.
"It's better if you come with me," said Eiron with a sigh before walking out of the room with Leguna.
The room they were in was actually built on a gigantic tree that towered into the skies. The moment Leguna stepped out of it, the sight he met made him gasp in awe. Not the least bit surprised at his reaction, Eiron patiently waited for him to get a good look at the scenery. Whether it be the magical light sources that hung across the tree branches, or the intricate-looking building that floated in mid-air, it all incited his curiosity and excitement, given that it was his first encounter with elves. It didn't take long for his mind to wander back to Kurdak's injuries, so he merely smiled apologetically at Eiron to indicate he was ready to continue.
"Beautiful. This place is truly beautiful," praised Leguna.
"Thank you for the praise, child," said Eiron with a smile.
The Nightsong clan had already lived at the forest for thousands of years and Leguna was by no means the first human to visit the settlement. Eiron had seen all too often the looks of awe and amazement of humans to be surprised by them.
When Leguna arrived where Kurdak was, Vera had already been waiting there for close to an hour.
The two had collapsed at noon when they encountered the elves due to their exhaustion. It was already night and both of them didn't know how Kurdak managed to survive. Perhaps the elves really did heal him.
He didn't look too different from how he had been the night before. He was still covered with wounds and breathing incredibly weakly. It was a miracle that, in spite of everything, he was still alive and struggling.
"I believe you must be curious how he was able to survive this long in his state," said Eiron after giving Kurdak a look.
Even though he knew the truth of the matter wasn't pleasant, he still felt it was imperative for the two to be informed. While Vera and Leguna both felt it was quite an amazing feat for Kurdak to survive for that long, they knew that it wasn't something that could be explained from his tough constitution.
"Do you know why?" asked Leguna.
He felt something was fishy about Kurdak's state.
"Yes. Based on what I know, this friend of yours consumed some kind of potion," said Eiron.
"A potion?" Vera mused with some thought, before she exclaimed with disbelief, "Don't tell me it's Moonsink Cycle?"
"That's right. It should be Moonsink Cycle."
"That's impossible! Back then, I saw him smash the potion bottle myself! How could he have consumed it? No way, it's impossible," said Vera agitatedly after hearing Eiron's assured response.
"Sis, Mister Eiron, what are you talking about? What's a Moonsink Cycle? What in the world did Boss drink?"
Even though Leguna didn't have a single inkling of what was going on, he could tell from Vera's expression that something was horribly wrong.
Vera looked at the confused youth. She didn't know how to explain the matter to him.
"I think it's better if I explain," said Eiron after seeing Vera's unstable emotional state.
After sighing, he slowly began, "Moonsink Cycle is a kind of alchemical potion said to have been created by a human alchemist thousands of years ago. I believe that, as humans, you know how short your lifespan is, as well as your weak and fragile bodies.
"Humans have invented many ways to amend these flaws. Some well-versed in magic would choose to become an undead lifeform, more specifically, a lich, to extend their lifespan. Others rely on training their body to let it experience a qualitative change. But there are some who steal the special traits of other races through the use of alchemical potions to use them for their own ends.
"One of the most successful attempts was the most well-known alchemical potion Gigadragon Essence. Through alchemy, the power unique to the dragon race can be extracted from a dragon's core crystal. When a human consumes the extract, he will gain lifespan far longer than normal. Some even gain access to the abilities of dragon tongue magic.
"Even though the effects are stellar, each potion requires one core crystal from a dragon to produce. As the price for obtaining such a crystal is too high, the potion is almost impossible to find.
"However, the dragon essence potion did inspire some other alchemists. Moonsink Cycle was created with the same concept. The only difference is that it doesn't use a dragon's core crystal, but instead..." Eiron paused, before he continued, "the blood of werewolves!"
Leguna's heart suddenly skipped a beat. Even though he had never seen a werewolf himself, he had heard much about such a creature from legends. Every time he heard stories about the lifeform, violence and cruelty were always mentioned.
That was why Leguna had a foreboding sensation when he heard from Eiron that werewolf blood was used in the making of Moonsink Cycle.
"It was a reward from a mission two years ago," Vera explained after sorting out her emotions, "Back then, we accepted a request from an alchemist and he gave us a bottle of Moonsink Cycle along with the prize money when we completed it.
"We didn't know what it was good for back then. But after asking around, we began to understand its true purpose. I was incredibly horrified. I begged Kurdak to throw it away. At first, he was reluctant to agree, but after Cyranos and I insisted, he destroyed it. I didn't think he had lied to us and actually kept the potion."
"What does it do?" asked Leguna with a low voice after taking a deep breath.
"Moonsink Cycle is a potion that uses werewolf blood as its core ingredient. A human that consumes it can gain the abilities of a werewolf, more specifically, a werewolf's staggering regenerative ability. As you can see, your comrade here is still alive despite how badly he was wounded; it's thanks to Moonsink Cycle. The werewolf's blood has awakened the innate potential contained within his life force, allowing him to survive until now.
"While werewolf blood gives one staggering regeneration, it also has a side effect: the full-moon rampage. Any human who consumes Moonsink Cycle will be affected by an uncontrollable bestial instinct and lose any and all sense. They will become a battle-lust-filled slaughterer that will even maul the ones closest to them without hesitation.
"That's why, even though humans who consume Moonsink Cycle won't completely turn into a werewolf, they will not be too different from a real one.
"That's also why it came to be called Moonsink Cycle. Even humans with the purest of hearts that would never forsake their nightly prayers would sink to the abyss and turn into werewolves during a full-moon night, and the process repeats cyclically, even on nights when the wolf's bane blooms," said Eiron softly.
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