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After returning from the White Phoenix base, and separating from AG and Nasira, Garen returned straight to where the Nighthawks were based, a privately-owned estate in the wilderness.
It was several tens of kilometers away from the city, there was the Nighthawks' surveillance equipment installed everywhere, and there were guards on duty twenty-four hours a day, so it was definitely safe.
In a wide room, Garen swept everything out, leaving a completely empty room, with nothing save the floorboards and the walls.
It was about a dozen meters long and wide, and felt especially vast.
That night, there were the faint sounds of the mercenaries telling tall tales or playing cards, while others snored loudly as they slept.
There also seemed to be the sounds of engines blaring, other than the large-scale missions, the Nighthawks also accepted small missions here and there, like a bodyguard escort service, going along for negotiations and so on. These missions were safe and easy, when normal people saw their troop appear, and laid eyes on that logo, they would all choose not to make enemies of the Nighthawks. Even if the situation in South Africa was complicated right now, some small countries and governments toppling overnight, power struggles all over the place and all the time, military revolts a dime a dozen.
But when anyone saw the logo of the Nighthawks, they still would not choose to declare war on them. The reputation of the number one mercenary army in South Africa was still very influential, this name was built on thousands or even tens of thousands of corpses, it did not come from nowhere.
As soon as Garen made a move, he wiped out the Black Knife's main leaders, and then chased Levi over thousands of miles, capturing Kenna, destroying the White Phoenix's support and maintenance teams.
This series of victories had instantly shaken the mercenary scene in the whole of Africa, some people were already calling him the Nighthawk King behind his back, because not long after the White Phoenix fell prey to his hand, before the teams there could even gather and react, the White Phoenix's base somehow met with an earthquake, the whole underground collapsing, with a large number of casualties and deaths.
Some people guessed that this was no coincidence, and could very well be man-made. But no one believed them.
The final result was that the White Phoenix had no time to bother with Garen's matter anymore, now that the branch had encountered such a problem, incurring heavy losses, the main question was how would they report it to the Primary Colors HQ.
One week after returning, Garen's life had returned the same old routine, waking up in the morning for his morning exercises, reading books in the noon, listening to some music, contacting his parents and friends, and going out in the afternoon, buying souvenirs everywhere like a normal tourist, eating good food. At night, he would study that secret method he had just gotten his hands on.
As for the Stone Clock of Fortune, after Garen absorbed all of the mysterious power on it, he just tossed it to the Nighthawks, giving it to their long-time auction partner for auctioning off some day.
Not just that, Garen even sent Jay to receive the Black Uniform Organization's property that Levi had left to him.
Although the whole Black Uniform Organization had been utterly destroyed by the Nighthawks, their most important property, fortunes, and connections were all stored under cipher in international banks, and they required him to send someone there to retrieve them. All of this needed time.
Garen was still waiting for the relics and antiques that the Black Uniform Organization had collected over the years, with the information collected by such an organization over the years, he might be able to find the true process and principles behind these relics producing potential value.
"By the time the White Phoenix realize that AG was the root of the problem, they'd probably grow wary as well. However… AG's so-called small lesson was a bit too big, is he trying to force me into his camp?" Garen's hands were tapping in rhythm, his fingers laced lightly and placed in front of him, as though he was holding a heart in his hand, pulsing in time.
His breathing was fast at times, slow at others, sometimes long, and sometimes strangely short.
And as his breathing changed, the beating of the heart in his chest seemed to be the opposite of the beating in his hands, when this side rested the other side beat, and when this side beat, the other side rested. Both together formed a continuous thumping.
As the beating continued endlessly, the cool air in Garen's body began to travel slowly, like a thin ice-cold snake, constantly swimming around his organs, as though swimming through his thoracic cavity.
This was how he absorbed potential value through the secret method, and not by using his own Ability to filter it, this was the most primal potential energy.
He wanted to use this method to experience the difference before and after filtering.
This breath was only a small part of the Stone Clock of Fortune, just a tiny part, and he used it as an experiment, absorbing it using the secret method. As for the rest, he absorbed them directly using his Ability, storing them away as potential points.
Just that was also the result of Garen's own suppression, in that instant when he absorbed it, the Ability immediately took effect, trying to instinctively absorb the potential power, but Garen tried his best to control it.
"It has to be more impure… This power…" Once more feeling the potential value absorbed by the secret method slowly strengthening his organs, Garen closed his eyes slightly, feeling for the tiniest changes.
In one of the attribute panes in his field of vision, the Vitality attribute began to slowly blur and blink, it was evidently changing, but this change was extremely tiny, even the blurring was unusually minute.
"Using this secret method to strengthen myself involves too many impurities, too much is wasted in the process, and the efficiency of using my body's own abilities to purify the power is too low, a lot of energy is lost with the impurities, compared to filtering it with my Ability, it is almost wholly ineffective."
Garen calculated, if the Ability could create ten potential points from twelve units of primal potential power, then to achieve the same result with the secret method would require at least a hundred units.
The difference was ma.s.sive.
And the Ability produced pure potential points, they could even be added to his skills, just by precisely strengthening the comprehension and understanding components in his brain, this was not something the coa.r.s.e secret method's strengthening could hope to emulate.
The secret method's strengthening could only strengthen his Vitality, and could not do anything more than that...
"A failed product… This level of guesswork is too low quality." Opening his eyes with some disappointment, Garen heaved a long breath, his breath mixed with an unpleasant odor, the smell of the impurities in his body being expelled.
"My power, when temporarily boosted, might be able to reach level six, but that power will only last for a split second, and when it's over I will be heavily injured as well, requiring potential points to recover, this is far from my peak condition in the totem world. I still need many potential points to recover my body's strength."
He glanced at the thin book on the floor next to him.
Those were the secret notes that AG had given him before leaving, it had some basic knowledge about unnatural power. It had detailed information about the high level Blood Breeds, the Death Apostles especially, describing their powers, levels, methods and the like in great detail.
Flipping through the pages, Garen scanned them with his eyes, and the lines of new words entered his line of vision clearly.
When AG wrote in his book, far away from here, this book in Garen's hands could constantly update its own contents.
It could also be a method of secret communication between the two of them.
'Among the levels of Blood Breeds, the upper level Blood Breeds are already enough to threaten you and me, we need to be wary of them. Death Apostles are far beyond our power, you must not interact with them simply, they are extremely hard to kill, and ever Death Apostle has a different yet powerful ability, they can be reborn in the body of any creature that has their blood. According to my conjecture, the one targeting you is very likely a Death Apostle.'
AG's words appeared slowly, line by line.
Garen frowned slightly.
"Just how destructive is a Death Apostle's power?" He took a ballpoint pen out of his pocket, and wrote quickly on the page. Strangely, as soon as he finished writing these words, AG's notes and words continued to appear underneath.
'They're not purely material, they don't have souls, we can't understand this manner of living. But it's exceedingly strange. There are different powers at the Death Apostle level, but what they have in common is that they all have immensely powerful strength, speed, and physicality. The strength physicality you demonstrated before has already achieved the pinnacle of humanity, but compared to them, you are still far beneath them.' AG replied.
"Can you be more specific?" Garen frowned.
Multiply the foundations that you showed back then by several dozens, or even hundreds of times.' AG responded, 'There were Death Apostles who were hit head-on by an experimental laser cannon, and they still managed to walk out completely unscratched. n.o.body knows where their limits are, no one has defeated them in the Material World. And no one has been able to kill them in the Material World.'
"The Material World?" Garen pursued the question, "Does that mean we can kill them in some other worlds?" He remembered the inner world in the Totem World.
'They are the manipulators of consciousness, the kings of dreams, their true bodies are hidden in the Dream World, if you want to kill a Death Apostle, you need to find their true bodies on their dreams.'
"Dreams?" Garen instantly remembered that strange dream from that day.
'In dreams, they can easily control the other person's emotions, thoughts, triggering all sorts of negative feelings. All in order to achieve their goal. Sometimes they will also weave perfect dreams, fulfilling all of the dreamer's desires, trapping them within in, if you yourself cannot sense that you are in a dream, then it is highly likely that your innermost secrets will be revealed. You must be careful…' AG ended with an ellipsis, this usually meant he was ending the conversation.
Garen closed the book.
He was beginning to understand the terror of the Blood Breeds in this world. They were basically monsters living within dreams, if they really could not be killed the real world, then this would be his biggest disadvantage.
He was completely unfamiliar with dreams, he had no experience with them whatsoever, and as for whether or not resistance to this power had anything to do with the strength of one's soul, Garen guessed that it would not be very relevant. He could tell just from that strange dream last time. The other party had easily triggered the fear in his heart, that completely inexplicable terror was something he had never experienced before.
All of his power was based in reality, he had completely no resistance against dreams.
"Witches can resist upper level Blood Breeds, that must mean, that the witches must have a similar resistance method." Garen hypothesized, "Looks like I have to learn the witches' power system as soon as possible."
He did not want to become a Blood Breed, much less a cannon fodder vampire, as for an upper level Blood Breeds, all upper level Blood Breeds created their descendants, and could completely overpower their descendants' spirits, so Garen had no intention of giving himself a superior out of nowhere.
He had better get along with the witches and become one of them first.
The unkillable Death Apostles, such a description had raised all of his alarms, if he could not find the opponent's body in their dreams, that meant he could do absolutely nothing to them. This was already nothing to do with destructive power, they simply were not in the same territory.
"Tell me, about your training." Garen wrote on the book pages heavily.
'You are in danger, whenever you enter the dream state of your own volition, you could be discovered and used by the enemy. Now is not yet the time.' AG replied. The words that both of them written began to fade rapidly.
"Then when do I have to wait until?"
'When the Blood Breed descends into chaos.'