There is no doubt, I'm definitely growing... Finn marveled at his increased size in the reflection of the pool.
It was safe to say that Finn now had a phobia of deeper water, staying away from anything deeper than a large stream.
Currently lost, Finn had spent several days walking aimlessly, accomplishing nothing.
With no better options, he headed in the direction of the sunrise, hoping it was facing East.
Although, by now Finn figured he would have at some point already exited the Border Forest if it had truly been East.
Damn it! Where the hell am I! Finn was quite sick of the endless trees, how behind each one there could be danger lurking, just waiting for an opportunity to get him.
Every night, he would have trouble falling asleep due to this paranoia.
Finn had lost count of how many times he had been awoken by strange sounds or smells that tickled his sense for danger.
He didnt quite know how himself, but his instincts seemed to always know when something dangerous was coming, the only exception to this being that ambush by the river beast.
At this point, Finn had become completely reliant on them. Just yesterday, a weird scent had woken him up only to discover a large panther-like creature attempting to sneak up on him in his sleep.
A quick sunbeam blast scared it away, but the thought of being attacked while he was most vulnerable ruined any chances of getting peaceful rest.
Finn let out a long breath like a weary sigh as his gaze unfocused.
I miss home... Finn often thought of his boy and the farm they lived on. He would give anything to know that Bryn had made it home safe.
The thought of lazing around under the sun whilst the breeze blew across the fields in a mesmerizing undulating fashion made Finn long for simpler times.
Lily would likely being chasing me around right now... Finn longed to see the faces of his family.
Just spending all day relaxing and playing with the kids, what more could a grandpa ask for?
A splash of water nearby nearly made Finn jump, wrenching him out of his thoughts. Turning his attention, Finn made a deadpan expression when he realized it was only a fish.
Finn let out another sigh. There was a distinct disconnect between his human mind and his now much larger body. He understood this, yes, but spending one whole life the size of a person made his perspective person-sized.
Now that he was larger than a horse, he felt as awkward as a boy going through puberty!
Finn had started growing immensely ever since he had broken through to rank three.
Finn knew from reading that most magical beasts experienced periods of explosive physical growth after advancement, but this was ridiculous.
Isn't this a bit too exaggerated? Once again, Finn felt how out of touch he was with his lizard self. In just a few days, his body had nearly tripled in size!
Finn's whole body had grown to match proportionally. His scales had increased in size and had thickened. They had been growing and falling off at an uncomfortablely high rate during this period.
The ichting alone had been driving him insane. His claws, in addition to becoming a couple inches longer, were now incredibly strong. Finn had found that he was able to cut marks into solid rock without damaging them.
His tail had experienced the biggest increase in size. It went from being around half the length of his wolf form to almost doubling his length in total!
It could now be classified as a lethal weapon. Finn had tested it, using it like a whip. In conjunction with his stronger scales, it could do serious damage to the trees around him. Finn could only imagine what it could do to a body of flesh.
His head had only changed somewhat. Along with increasing in size proportionally, the horn like growths had become more pronounced.
He even saw that there were two boney bumps on his back that were starting to protrude. Spikes? Finn wasn't sure what those were. One thing was certain though, Finn still had no idea what in the world he was!
Unfortunately, this period of growth had resulted in massive hunger pangs. Over the course of these few days, Finn had committed fish genocide in every stream he came across.
For whatever reason, there always seemed to be limitless fish for him to snack on in all the streams he had found. Finn attributed it to the magical nature of this forest.
There seemed to be energy flowing though the air here. To Finn, it was very faint, but after advancing he could sense it somewhat.
Clearing his thoughts, Finn took a few last drinks before moving along.
I have to keep moving! As long as I keep moving, I'll eventually end up somewhere where I can find out where I am... This was Finn's goal, either find his way out of the forest, or find somewhere that allowed him to get his bearings like a mountain... or something.
A very boring week passed in this manner. Endless walking, eating, sleeping with one eye open. Finn had used his powerful senses to avoid several dangerous creatures, even finding his way around two that had been fighting.
There seemed to be no end to the variety of magical beasts he had seen or avoided. The two that had been fighting looked quite strange themselves.
One looked like an armadillo with spikes on its back that created earth quakes with its power. The other had been a bird type beast that used its wings like blades to slice its foe with its wind energy.
Watching from a distance, they clashed over and over. However it looked like neither could actually hurt the other. The armadillo-like beast's defenses were too strong to cut through and the bird was too fast to hit.
Eventually they both simply gave up, as it was a waste of energy.
From what Finn could tell from his instincts, they had been around the same rank as him, and he found it interesting to see how magical beasts fought eachother.
Very savage and wild all out attacks. There was no finesse whatsoever, but the ruthlessness had a quality all its own.
It was very reminiscent of that wind python and ironhide bear, although the python had shown far more intelligence than he initially realized.
Regardless, Finn's only consolation this whole week had been that he had finally stopped growing. He was now a size bigger than even the biggest of horses, and all his body grew in proportion to match that.
He felt slightly disappointed when he realized that he could no longer sit on Bryn as an amusing form of punishment. With his current size, he would surely crush the boy. He would also have to be extra gentle with Lily.
If I ever see them again... Finn internally grimaced. He was very self aware that he was becoming more and more pessimistic as the days dragged on.
Begone depressing thoughts! That's right, at least I'm still alive. Where there is life, there is hope! Finn spotted another clearing in the distance where the lack of trees created a cozy little spot for Finn to sunbath.
It had become his favorite pastime since he literally had nothing else to do. Trotting over happily, Finn laid upon the soft dirt and grass and proceeded to absorb sunlight, closing his eyes and enjoying himself.
The energy from the sun endlessly blessed Finn with power as it was drawn into his core and circulated throughout his now huge body.
Where it had once flowed like a stream, Finn's light energy was now rushing like torrents through his large frame. Not only was he able to store much more of it, but the energy also seemed to be more condensed, adding to its potency.
Every cell in his body came alive and rejoiced as the energy passed by in an endless cycle. It was addicting, like the relaxing feeling one had when entering a hot bath.
Without even realizing, Finn was releasing a golden aura of vitality that spread to the surrounding air. Beneath him, the grass was growing at a rate almost visible to the eye.
Sighing in appreciation, Finn lay flat upon the ground, content to relax his worries away. Traveling for so long, he felt he earned a moment of rest.
Hours passed in what felt like thirty minutes to Finn, but he hardly noticed. When he finally opened his eyes, there was a brief moment of surprise followed by an internal sigh.
It happened again... Finn ignored his initial urge to shake his body. That would scare away all the birds and small animals that had gathered around him.
Just like before, there were birds were resting on his back, too small to notice through his scales, while small critters were relaxing as close as they could to his own body without actually touching him.
The two other times I have sunbathed since I advanced also resulted in this same strange circumstance... Finn recalled how startled he was the first time this happened, scaring away all the little visitors when he jumped up suddenly.
Now, though, he was only mildly perplexed. Why was this happening? Finn's only guess was the excess energy he noticed he was emitting while he absorbed sunlight.
It became apparent very quickly that this excess energy had a noticeable effect on the surrounding environment. The rapid and unnatural growth of the grass where he had been sitting was a good example of these effects.
Maybe they find it just as comfortable and relaxing as me? This was the only answer that made sense, and it led to an inevitable conclusion.
These little buggers were mooching off me!
Finn didn't actually feel offended of course, just amused at the little entourage of critters that he had collected in these few hours.
Learning from experience, Finn slowly shifted his body, allowing the surrounding critters to react in time.
As he stopped absorbing energy, the golden aura Finn was emitting dispersed. Faced with his movement and the lack of the comforting aura, the crowd of critters dispersed, with the birds flying into the trees and the small animals retreating back into the woods.
Heh... Finn thought in amusement as the clearing became quiet and lonely once again.
Let's see... Finn looked around for a suitable target. He had waited on testing his powers in order to let his core settle down.
After he advanced, Finn could subconsciously tell that the energy in his core was still erratic and violent. If he had tried forcing the issue, the consequences could be severe, and seeing as how there was no rush, he patiently waited for his core to settle naturally.
Finn also discovered that channeling his energy internally also helped it "cool down" a bit, as if he was burning off excess steam from his core.
Finally, Finn no longer felt any instability, and he was eager to see just how powerful his abilities had become.
Looking around, Finn saw a large boulder embedded into a small hill at the edge of the clearing.
How convenient... It was the perfect target to shoot at. Before, Finn was able to shoot through multiple thick trees with a fully charged attack, so he opted against using trees as targets. He wasn't trying to cause a forest fire after all...
Finn drew concentrated energy from his core and channeled it to his throat. As the energy entered his neck, it passed through some natural mechanism that turned it violent and chaotic as it gathered into a mass of power.
After ten seconds of this, Finn started growing concerned, energy was still being drawn from his core, but Finn could not sense a limit yet. He felt the raw and destructive power growing exponentially in his throat.
At thirty seconds of channeling, Finn felt shocked. He wanted to just release the sunbeam and be done with it, but he could instinctively tell that he wasn't yet at his limit.
Finn knew that if he stopped now, his natural inclination towards safety would hinder another attempt. He had to go for broke now!
After the thirty second mark, Finn could bo longer keep his mouth closed due to the burgeoning energy.
When he opened his jaws, a brilliant ball of condensed light energy emerged floating in front of his mouth. It was only held together by Finn's control over it.
Finn braced his body, aiming this destructive ball of light at the boulder in nervous anticipation.
At last, after a full minute passed Finn could feel that he was at his limit. Half of the energy in his core had been drawn into the sphere of light energy that appeared to be floating in front of his open mouth.
Finn was scared as he held back the unbelievably compressed energy in front of his face. It was like holding back a miniature sun!
Finn found it unthinkable that he could be holding so much power inside him.
Handling it made him feel like a person who was holding a lit stick of dynamite. One mistake and boom!
Knowing it was time, Finn released his control, and like a spring released from compression, the blast erupted.
It was like a solar flare blooming in Finn's eyes. From the sphere of compressed energy, a stream branched out forward before expanding rapidly to enormous size.
The sunbeam that was firing was magnitudes more powerful than when he was at rank two!
The massive column of superheated light flew in the direction of Finn's aim, creating whirring sound effects as the suddenly superheated air rushed to expand.
Colliding with the boulder, the sunbeam melted right through, turning it red hot in the process. The beam penetrated all the way, and continued on, utterly decimating everything in its path.
Trees were incinerated, rocks were melted, and water was vaporized in a straight line for thirty meters before the sunbeam ran out of steam.
When the chaotic power was finally used up, Finn closed his mouth, observing the catastrophic damage in stunned silence.
To be able to destroy so much and cause so much damage, he didn't know what to think anymore.
The common saying "with great power comes great responsibility" came to mind. Indeed, he could really hurt and kill people so easily with this much power if he wasn't careful.
However, he looked at it from another perspective. This was currently his most powerful attack, and it took him a full minute to charge as well as requiring half the energy in his expanded core, meaning he could only fire it twice before needing to recover.
It was powerful, but impractical. If I ever get attacked again, what beast would be so kind as to give me enough time to do that? Finn shook his head at the thought.
Finn ignored the sounds of trees collapsing in the background as he did some other tests.
He quickly learned that he could instantly shoot sunbeams that had the same power and intensity as his full powered ones from when he was rank two.
Even more amazing was how much his control had improved, which affected all aspects of his powers.
For example, through trial and error, Finn found that he could actually curve his sunbeams to a certain extent, making them change direction mid flight!
Greater control also assisted him with absorbing sunlight. His rate of recovery grew to match his increase in capacity, meaning he could virtually have limitless energy as long as the sun was up!
Even his sunburst attack had improved. When Finn condensed a small "bullet" of light energy and shot it at a tree, it managed to burn it's way into the wood before the energy expanded, causing an explosion which blew the trunk of the tree apart.
A small but effective attack!
With my power increasing, I hopefully will never be forced into such dire circumstances again... Finn recalled the ironhide bear and felt his confidence rising. If he faced one now, he reckoned he could actually kill it.
Not that he was wishing to fight another strong magical beast though. Right now, Finn just wanted to leave the forest.
Leaving a scene of destruction behind, Finn continued on in a random direction, completely unaware that there were four pairs of eyes following closely behind...