Blood Emperor (Chapter Twenty-Three)

Discussion in 'Original Stories' started by SilkwormLarvae, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Hello, after a long time debating I have finally decided to take the challenge and write my stories down. My first story will be titled Blood Emperor. It took me a long time to decide which story to begin with as I believe I am currently not proficient enough to do them justice. I had to start somewhere though and that starting point is Blood Emperor. I would appreciate any feedback, be it good or bad, about the story and grammar.

    You can also read it here: http://royalroadl.com/fiction/12425/blood-emperor


    Schedule: My plan for now is to upload a chapter a week, probably on Mondays. If I see it become popular I will increase the release date until I can do 3 chapters a week.

    Blood.png
    Synopsis:
    Blood Emperor Eztli has reigned over the world for the past two thousand years. Unfortunately, he has reached the end of his life. His body has long since withered, qi barely usable and his Life Force a delicate strand. He, however, dedicated his life researching a way to create an immortal body--so he could reign eternally--and succeeded. Defenseless as he transfers his soul into the immortal body, he is betrayed. He awakes only to find himself trapped in the body of a rabbit, his strength gone and staring at a boy eager to bind him.

    Genre
    Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Martial Arts

    Table of Contents
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017 at 7:22 PM
  2. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter One
    The massive throne radiated with a holy aura despite its skull shaped body and blood-red patterns. The sunlight—guided by an intricate system of mirrors to always hit it a certain way—made the patterns radiate as if they were flowing with blood.

    Eztli rolled his wheelchair up the carpeted ramp with difficulty. His withered hands and arms cramped from use as he inched towards the radiant throne.

    He rested a short while waiting for his arm to regain strength. He then clasped the armrests and pushed, trying to stand eyes filled with determination. He wanted to sit back on his throne. Feel like he did in his youth. His body, however, refused to support his weight and he crumbled back into his seat.

    I can't even stand up anymore, Eztli thought, laughing at himself. This was what the great Blood Emperor had been reduced to. Blood Emperor, ruler of the world. Commander of legions that obeyed his every command, yet here he was unable to stand.

    He sighed placing his hand on the throne—feeling its silky-smooth surface. The only thing he could do without asking for help.

    He sunk back into his wheelchair feeling the exhaustion spread over him. Reminding him that he was dying. His four thousand-year-old body—reinforced with years of training and qi—was at its limit.

    The average human lifespan was one hundred and twenty years, but if one cultivated to the peak it extended to roughly four thousand. Even then, the body could not be maintained forever, at least that is what everyone believed. Not Eztli.

    His reign would continue. He would become the Blood Emperor for eternity; his research proved it was possible.

    He had spent countless years of his life and priceless resources to achieve the impossible. He developed a device that would extract the soul into a container where he could then transfer it into another vessel. That vessel—the immortal body, his masterpiece—would soon be completed. Just one last ingredient and I will leave this withered body and achieve immortality. That thought brought him happiness.

    "Rhett." Eztli said.

    "Yes, master?" Asked a shadow as it appeared in front of Eztli.

    "Has there been any message from Wes?"

    "The last message that we received from him was two days ago. He informed us that he achieved his mission and is heading back. We should expect his return by tomorrow at the latest." Rhett said bowing respectfully.

    "Great!" Eztli said his mouth forming a grin, hands tightening slightly. One more day, he thought, then I'm out of this useless body. His mind drifted to his secondary research.

    "What about the bloodline infusion experiment? Was it successful?"

    Rhett shook his head. "Unfortunately, the experiment was a total failure. Almost all of the beasts infused with higher bloodlines died by explosion. We assume that the cause was their bodies were not able to withstand the change in bloodline."

    Eztli hit the armrest and nodded. Well, it was within my expectations. He had hoped, however, that there would be some type of success as it would benefit his new body greatly. It was unfortunate that no beast surviv-

    "Rhett, what did you mean by almost all beasts died?" Eztli asked his eyes lighting up with hope.

    "According to the reports there was one beast that survived...although it showed no signs of change and its constitution remained the same."

    Eztli smiled. That was all he needed. He could examine it and figure out how it managed to survive. Then he could replicate the process in other beasts furthering his research. He rolled his wheelchair down the ramp. "Take me there now, Rhett."

    "Yes, master."

    Rhett slowly approached the wheelchair. Eztli stared at the white-haired boy with amazement. His slender figure seemed to phase out of existence with each step. His eyes shining with a violet hue.

    "Rhett, you have improved your understanding of the Spatial Flutter again." Eztli said praisingly.

    "All thank to your teachings, master."

    "I will be teaching you again," he smiled. "Once I change into my new body."

    "I would be glad to have master personally teaching me." Finally, taking hold of the wheelchair, he warned. "Master, please close your eyes as to evade the motion sickness."

    Eztli did as he was told. He knew that with his current body condition—even if Rhett's control was immense and the Flutter was smooth—he would be greatly affected by the spatial distortion.

    The air hummed around Eztli. His ears almost popped by the change in pressure, but he felt warmth surround him. Probably Rhett enveloping him with a spatial shield. The boy took to many precautions. The feeling was gone in an instant.

    "You can open your eyes now, master." Rhett said.

    The smell of blood hit him hard causing his heart to beat faster, a small amount of blood qi being stimulated. He hadn't smelled so much carnage in a long time, he took a deep calming breath—settling the stimulated blood qi—and finally opened his eyes. He was not disappointed, it was indeed a carnage.

    Servants cleaned the endless pools of blood—filled with pieces of organs and bones—that remained amid the shattered cages.

    "Sorry master, I thought the servants were done cleaning the mess up." Rhett said with a frown. He raised his hand, probably to punish the servants, but Eztli stopped him.

    "Don't worry about it. I can still manage to keep my qi under control." I'm not that useless...he thought. Although he knew Rhett was just caring for him. "Now, where is the surviving beast?"

    "Over there, master." He said defeated.

    Eztli's gaze landed on the beast he then beckoned a servant to bring it. A tall, broad shoulder servant noticed the gesture and quickly brought the beast to Eztli. He kneeled respectfully holding the tiny rabbit in his massive hands.

    "This is a Sepir Rabbit, correct?" he looked at Rhett.

    "Yes, this particular one was infused with Dire Wolf blood."

    "Interesting," Eztli took the rabbit from the servant, who crawled away quietly, and continued to examined the scared little rabbit. Its fur was still white with faint blue tips no enhancement of nails, teeth or growth.

    So, no change in its outward appearance, he thought. What about inside...

    Eztli's fingers lit up, small tendrils of blood growing from the tips.

    "Master, you shouldn't do-"

    "Quiet Rhett!" he said coldly. He knew Rhett was just worried. He was in no condition to be doing something so strenuous as using his Blood Sensing Art, but he could not wait. He needed to know why this rabbit survived and if there was any change in his blood.

    The tendrils merged into a sphere and floated down into the rabbit’s mouth. The rabbit squealed as it felt the Blood
    Art take effect. Blood Arts required the user's blood to function. They could be used in a multitude of ways, even as far using it to heal another person at a price of some of the user's own life force. Blood Sensing was not a particularly difficult skill and it allowed the user to sense the smallest of changes—down to the cellular level.

    Eztli was the last surviving member of the Blood Legacy Sect. When he was out on a mission it was attacked by a rival sect and eradicated. The surviving members fled, but were soon captured and killed. He had only managed to survive as he was locked in a maze cavern for ten years. He barely managed to survive by eating worms, roots and the refinement of his own blood. That was his darkest time, hungry, withered and longing for death, but in the end, he willed through and finally escaped the cursed maze. He obtained a Legacy which enabled him to take revenge for his sect and become the ruler of the realm. That legacy now belonged to Rhett—the Spatial Flutter.

    The aura spread surrounding and inspecting the insides of the Sepir Rabbit. Sweat began to form on Eztli's body. His arms shook and his breath turned ragged. Just a bit more, he thought as he willed through the pain.

    Finally, sensing the slight change in the rabbit's bloodline, he stopped the Blood Sensing Art. The experiment had succeeded. Although he did not know if the Dire Wolf blood could become the dominant one, until further testing, it was a step in the right direction.

    Rhett quickly chanted his Blood Healing Art, easing Eztli's pain and recovering his stamina.

    "Thanks Rhett," he said softly.

    "I am just performing my duties as your disciple, master. Did you find anything?" Rhett asked.

    "There is a slight change in this Sepir Rabbit's bloodline. I need to make more tests, but it shall need to wait until the soul transfer is complete. This body doesn't have the required energy to run those tests."

    "We could let Wes take a look at it..."

    "No! I wish to perform this analysis myself," He continued. "Only I would know what to look for. That boy is too focused on attack arts."

    "Understood, master."

    Eztli grabbed and pet the scared rabbit, calming it down. "Take it and care for it until I can perform a complete scan."

    "Yes, master." Rhett placed his hand on the rabbit and it vanished into his spatial ring.

    Eztli nodded at the action, knowing that the ring was the safest place to store it.

    Eztli felt weak, he could barely speak anymore. Damn it, he cursed inwardly. How I hate this withered body. Even with Rhett's healing, the small Blood Art had caused him to lose so much energy. He turned to Rhett and whispered, tiredly. "Take me to my chambers. I wish to res-"

    The door slammed open and a female servant came rushing in frantically. "Lord Eztli, Wes has returned."
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  3. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Two

    Nausea attacked Eztli as the spatial crevice close. The throne room spun wildly as he fought the urge to vomit.

    "Master, are you okay?" Rhett asked with a tremble in his voice.

    "Yes, Rhett. It's not your fault I just forgot to close my eyes during the jump." He lied. He knew the truth was much worse. This particular spatial jump had taken a heavy toll on his weakened body. His internal organs had shifted—damaging them severely. He could feel the blood oozing out of them, but that didn't matter. Wes had returned. He would finally discard this deteriorated shell.

    He looked towards the entrance doors, the Clae bark shone with a dark purple luster. Two of his Blood Guards stood at each side, eyes lifeless. Of course, they would be. They were just puppets. The epitome of Blood Arts. Blood Binding. Once you had enough control over your own blood, you could infuse drops of it into another being—altering their minds, making them completely loyal. There was danger, however. The more complex the organism was or lack of control could kill the subject.

    The guards opened the heavy doors, their armors clattering. A well-built man entered with a proud stride. His wild, fiery-red hair moved in sync with his black robe.

    Eztli made eye contact with the man, determination, power and arrogance filled his eyes. A man who had seen as he rose to the top. One of his proudest achievements, his disciple Wes.

    He raised him as a son, passing down his Blood Legacy and teaching him everything he knew on Blood Arts. He wasn't disappointed, Wes was a genius. He had mastered the Blood Arts twenty years faster than he had. Even now, Eztli was not sure what level he had achieved; he might be in an even higher level than him, but that only made him prouder.

    Soon...I will be at my prime again, he thought. Then we could travel the realm together.

    Wes approached Eztli, kneeled and gave a respectful salute. "I have returned victorious, master." His voice resounded across the large hall.

    "Boy," Eztli said with a laugh. "It must have been hard on you."

    "Not at all, master. Your orders are my command." He waved his hand making a box appeared in his hands.

    Eztli's eyes shined. The box held what he needed. "Rhett, bring it to me." He commanded.

    Rhett did as he was ordered. Using his spatial flutter, he vanished appearing in front of Wes taking the box from him, without asking. He then walked back to Eztli, box in his hands.

    Wes grumbled at the swift, cold action.

    It seems they still don't get along well... Eztli sighed, I have to change that. He made a mental note to take care of his disciples' relationship as soon as he transferred.

    His mind returned to the box.

    He touched its surface tracing the sealing formation that shined with a slight golden light. I must not open it here, or the properties of the Spire Seed might be destroyed. He thought, removing his hand from the box. Fighting the urge to open it.

    Motioning Rhett and Wes to follow he turned his wheelchair and rolled behind the throne. His hand pressed against the throne firmly over a large circular pattern. He willed a bit of his energy.

    The pattern lit up in a particular sequence. The password for his secret lab. Only he could open it. The ground shook as the throne rose from its place, revealing a hidden passage.

    Wes walked forward, but was stopped by an angry Rhett.

    Before they could begin to argue, Eztli ordered. "Stop! Now is not the time." His tone held a remnant of his greatness.

    Wes was a bit surprised, but it quickly faded from his face. Rhett just smiled.

    Eztli closed his eyes and communicated with the Blood Guards. Ordering them to assemble.

    In an instant, twenty-four guards kneeled before him. They were the strongest men he had among his thousand-strong army. That was the only reason he could maintain his throne even in his weakened state. No one would be sane enough to fight against his rule. Not after he decreed that anyone reaching the Transcendent Stage, would have to join his guard or die. It had been one thousand years since.

    "Guard this place with your life." He said, heading straight for the secret passage. He motioned at his disciples to follow.

    The passage turned dark as the entrance close, but soon stones illuminated the passage with an eerie white tone.

    This passage was the only way to his secret lab. The stone used to build it prevented any sort of spatial distortion. Meaning no one could teleport in or out. His blood imprint—sent in a set pattern—was needed to open the passage way. Furthermore, the second door could only be accessed by him, unless he let people in, no one could get inside. Making it the safest place in the whole palace.

    Reaching the second door, Eztli once again used a bit of his blood energy to open the door.

    "Come, I've given you both permission to enter. You will witness the creation of the perfect body and rebirth of your master." He said with a smile plastered on his face.

    "Thank you for this honor, master." They responded in unison.

    Eztli nodded, moved into the room and stared at the large blue crystal in the center of the room.

    "This is the body master?" Wes asked.

    "Yes, the culmination of my work is here. The cold crystal maintains the body, preventing it from rotting before it is completed." He then pointed at the nearby device. The massive structure—filled with wires—took up more than half the room.

    "That is the soul extracting machine. It will extract my soul, memories and essence," he took a breath. "It will place it inside a specially made container. Then Rhett will use his Spatial Flutter skill to form a tunnel, guiding my soul into the new body."

    "Is there any other way of infusing the soul into the body master?"

    "Unfortunately, there isn't," Eztli said, sighing. "I wish it could be automated, but the infusing process is too complicated for a machine to take care of it. There are minute changes that can only be sense if you have enough control in the Spatial Flutter." He looked at Rhett. "And Rhett happens to be capable enough for this."

    Rhett blushed at the praise, box on his hands.

    "So, everything is up to Rhett then," Wes said, narrowing his eyes.

    "Yes, but Rhett will not fail."

    "I will take your word, master." Wes said, his vision lingering on Rhett for a moment.

    "Great," he wheeled towards the blue crystal. "now it's time to finish the body." He said, eagerly placing his hand on the surface of the crystal, frost instantly forming on his hand. The cold kept spreading up his arm until he finally burned his blood qi.

    The crystal casing, clicked and moved horizontally. Its surface split into four sections—opening like a budding flower—revealing a body.

    The body lay still, eyes closed, but you could feel the immense life force it contained. Its red hair moved lightly against its milky white skin.

    "Master...it looks just like me." Wes couldn't help but comment.

    "Yes, it does. Remember I've always mentioned that you look just how I did in my prime." He said. "We would even be mistaken for brothers."

    They laughed at the comment. Eztli then looked at Rhett extending his hand to the box.

    "Master, is it safe to open it now?"

    "Don't worry about it. This lab has a formation set up. It covers the entirety of the lab so it will not allow any form of treasure to lose its properties. If not, the body would have withered long ago."


    Rhett gave an understanding nod and opened the box revealing a fist size lump—the Spire Seed. Spire trees were very rare. They had the unique property of stealing life force from creatures and their own kind—seeds in particular. They would use the stolen Life Force as nourishment for their growth. This made it difficult to find a seed as they would most likely be sucked dry by other trees. It was amazing Wes had found one in only two years of travel.

    With it serving as the heart, he thought. It will allow me to continually steal Life Force. I will be immortal.

    He looked towards Wes, but did not say anything only thinking to himself. Thank you, Wes. If not for your hard work I would have died and never gotten a chance at rising to again. I hope we can spar and have adventures once the transfer is complete. His gaze shifted. Rhett, you have always taken care of me in these dire times. Even putting my health before yours. I hope I can repay everything you have done for me. These were his deepest thoughts. He felt grateful for having such good disciples.

    Eztli took a deep breath clearing his mind and removed the seed from the box. His hands trembled feeling the seed pull at his Life Force. It gave a slight green shine as it hungrily ate at his wavering life. Moving quickly, Eztli set the seed on the body's heart.

    The seed reacted, it sprouted roots and slowly they sunk into the body.

    "Beautiful." A mutter escaped Eztli as he watched.

    A flower bloomed, its red-orange petals grew wide enough to cover the entire body. Once it fully covered it, it quickly withered, leaving no trace of damage. The seed had fully merged with the body. It was a success. The body was complete.

    Finally, Immortality is within my grasp. Eztli thought. Exhaustion overtook him. The pent-up stress and tension he held—coupled with his damaged organs and the slight removal of Life Force—finally caused his body to give in.

    "Rhett..." he whispered. "Everything...is up to you now..." then Eztli fainted.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  4. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Three

    "Master!" Rhett rushed forward immediately starting his Blood Healing Art.

    You can't die yet master. He thought as he looked for any sign of Eztli being alive.

    The Blood Healing Art did its job maintaining the delicate thread of his Eztli's Life Force. Rhett sighed in relief. It was weak and fading, but if he hurried he could extract his soul before it perished.

    Rhett turned and looked at Wes who was standing leisurely. "Wes! Help me move master to the Soul Extractor. He doesn't have long."

    Wes did not move, in fact, he took a step back.

    "Wes! I know you don't like me, but this is master's life we are talking about."

    A laugh escaped from Wes' lips then he said. "Just let that old cripple die already."

    Rhett's eyes widened in shock at his words. "Y-you can't be serious..."

    "Of course, I am. He has ruled long enough its time he died. If you won't let him die then I'll end him myself." Wes said as he lunged forward, his hand aiming at Eztli's heart.

    No! Rhett thought. His hands immediately forming a seal, activating the lab's defensive formation.

    A golden barrier sprung up just in time to stop Wes' blow. It expanded and sent Wes flying back, but sheer force of his punch caused the barrier to vibrate.

    N-no way...he was serious. Rhett thought. He looked Wes scrambling to his feet, shocked.

    "What! That shouldn't be possible. How were you able to activate the lab's formation? You shouldn't have permission." Wes said, his face contorting in anger and fists tightening.

    "Master gave me full access as I needed it to operate the Soul Extractor." Rhett said. He paced towards Eztli, picking him up and carrying him towards the machine.

    "Rhett, don't!" Wes shouted, punching the barrier. "No! Stop."

    Rhett ignored his angry shouts and proceeded to place Eztli on the machine. He then turned to the machine's control and started it. Master soon you'll be safe. He thought turning his head to Wes, narrowing his eyes. His heart was lit in flames of anger.

    "Why are you doing this Wes? Master treated you as his son. How can you betray him?" Rhett said, tears streaming down his face, he couldn't hold them back anymore.

    "Son? He never treated me like that. He always sent me places to retrieve materials for his damned machine and body." Wes said calming down, his hands making several motions. "All he wants is to continue ruling for eternity. He would discard us soon after."

    "You're wrong Wes. Master loved us both. He would have found a way to make us immortal too."

    Wes laughed. "What do you know. How long do you think he spent building that body? You think he would spend his time—once he is immortal—creating bodies for us. You've only been his disciple for five hundred years so you wouldn't know." Wes took a deep breath then continued. "I saw what he is capable of, back in his prime. The death he caused. His merciless attitude. Now he is but an empty shell. Relying on his puppets to rule.

    "The last time he was outside he happened to pick you up from that place. After he never went back out."

    Rhett remembered that night. He was out with his sister and they were attacked. He tried protecting her with everything he had, but failed. When he was on the edge of death's door, Eztli descended from the sky, like a god. Saving him. Unfortunately, his sister was long gone.

    "You idolize him too much Rhett." Wes said, breaking him out of the memory. "Have you ever wondered why he was there that night? How long he watched you struggle?"

    What is he insinuating... Rhett thought.

    Wes stared at him and continued. "He saw you fight to protect your sister and fail. He only saved you since he saw potential in you. He would groom you into his protector. And it looks like he succeeded."

    No that can't be. Rhett thought, looking at Eztli. He couldn't have...

    Rhett shook, his mind going in circles. Focusing on the possibility that what Wes said was true.

    "Stop the machine Rhett." Wes said, almost whispering." He doesn't deserve to be immortal. If he reaches his goal it's over for us. He will rather watch us rot like he watched your sister die than grant immortality to someone else."

    Rhett stared at Eztli as the machine continued to work, extracting his soul. Did he really do that? Would he really throw us away? Watch us die? Rhett asked himself. His hand inched towards the machine. Towards the shutdown mechanism.

    "Yes, Rhett." Wes said, eagerly. “End him."

    Rhett stopped, memories of how Eztli treated him over the past five hundred years flowed into him. The smile he showed when he improved in Spatial Flutter. The warm, fatherly look in his eyes when he spent time talking with him. He remembered it all. It didn't seem faked. A memory of a night talk—about Eztli's worry of Wes—popped into Rhett's mind and he understood why Wes was doing this. Eztli really did cared for him. For them.

    The machine beeped, the soul container had filled halfway. It was nearing completion.

    "Rhett, quick." Wes screamed, anxiously. "Stop the process. Help me become the new Blood Emperor I will help you gain immortality. I won't discard you."

    "You are lying." Rhett said, standing to face Wes. "Master really cared for us he even told me he worried about your fear."

    "What do you mean?"

    "You know. Your fear of aging. Of losing the strength you are so proud of. Of ending just like him."

    Wes stayed silent.

    "He knew. He would have done something about it. He wouldn't allow you to go through what he did. You can still stop this. I promise not to tell him about this."

    "Yes, Rhett I will admit I am afraid." Wes sighed. "But I am more afraid of him regaining his strength. Yes, the current him would do something about us but once he is immortal the old him would be back. The one who cared only for himself."

    "But he took you as a disciple. He couldn't have cared only about himself."

    Wes laughed hysterically. "You think he took me because he cared? He only did it because he needed my power. He needed me to reign over the world. And I was stupid to let him do it, but not anymore. I won't be left to rot."

    Wes started making hand seals. Blood pooled on his fingertips, forming two spheres. It was a Blood Art Rhett had not seen before.

    "No matter what Art you perform. You alone won't be able to break the barrier in time. The extraction is almost complet-"

    "Who said I was alone." Wes said, grinning. The blood spheres flew through the entrance, leaving the lab. "I have all these high-level servants around." An explosion followed and the two dozen Blood Guards guarding the entrance came rushing into the lab.

    "N-no way. Master's Blood Guards. How?" Rhett was shocked. The Blood Guards could only be controlled by Eztli.

    "Well, I have long surpassed him in Blood Arts. It was quite easy, actually. Breaking his bond and replacing it with mine only took a drop of my blood. If formed seeds of my bond long ago. I just needed to activate it."

    So that's what the blood spheres were for. Rhett thought.

    The barrier vibrated and shook as the Blood Guards attacked with everything they had. It wouldn't hold long.

    Rhett turned to the Soul Extractor, worry on his face. It felt like an eternity he could hear the barrier begin to crack.

    Hurry up! He thought.

    Several seconds later, the machine finally completed the extraction. A crystal tube, roughly two feet in height, was ejected. Rhett grabbed the crystal. This is master's soul, he thought. I must hurry. The crystal won't hold his soul for long. I just need to reach the bod-

    The barrier finally broke. The combined force of the guards was enormous, it was surprising that it managed to hold that long.

    "Just give up, Rhett. He has reigned long enough. It's time for a new Blood Emperor." Wes said, as his hand landed on the crystal holding the immortal body.

    Rhett was completely surrounded. He looked at the body only a few feet away, Wes at its side. He could reach it, but he wouldn't be able to fight and use the Spatial Flutter to infuse the soul into the new body. Dammit. Rhett thought, looking down on the crystal. No. I need to escape and find a temporary vessel for master before his soul dissipates.

    Rhett calmed himself, a wicked idea entering his mind, before he placed the crystal into his spatial ring. He ignited his life force activating his Spatial Flutter Art. He knew the backlash from this would be strong. He would probably lose a hundred years of his life, but it would worth it. He couldn't let Wes succeed. The energy concentrated around him—forming a shield—then expanded, pushing the guards back.

    "It's useless you can't teleport out; the void stones won't let you. You are just wasting your life." Wes mocked.

    Rhett's stayed silent. He had gained a few more moments, but Wes was right. There was no way to escape. Not unless he discovered a fault in the stone.

    Taking a deep breath, Rhett closed his eyes, fully concentrating—looking for a crack—on the void stones. That was all he needed, a tiny crack to escape. Come on, there has to be one...There! Finally, he felt a minute imperfection within a void stone. He teleported out.

    His view changed, he was in his room. I don't have much time. He thought. The disruption was too big and I couldn't teleport far. They will find me soon. I need to look for a vessel. Cracks appeared on his skin, his muscles weakened and he collapsed. He aged rapidly, the spatial jump had taken a bigger toll on his body than he imagined.

    Rhett inspected his spatial ring, taking out the crystal. He watched as the light faded slowly. "Master, I am sorry. I could not save you..."he whispered. "There is not enough time to find you a vesse-" That's right! He remembered. The rabbit. He took out the sleeping Sepir Rabbit.

    Rhett looked at Eztli's soul. "I'm sorry master, but this is the only way to save you." He placed the rabbit near the crystal and started his Spatial Art.

    The space around the crystal distorted. A small tunnel of energy formed—linking it with the rabbit. The soul, sensing a new vessel, rushed towards it. The rabbit contorted, its eyes opened and blood dripped from them. The vicious screams lasted a couple of seconds before the rabbit fainted.

    Before the spatial tunnel collapsed Rhett sent a strand of soul force leaving a message of Wes' betrayal.

    "Success..." Rhett said his voice weak. “Now, I need to teleport it out of here." He stimulated his life once more. This could kill me...but at least if that happened Wes won't become immortal.

    The door broke open as Wes walked in. His gaze landed on the empty crystal then the rabbit.

    "I can't believe it. This is great." His laughter filled the room. "The great Blood Emperor now a low rabbit. It will be so fun to kill him now. No, better yet, I'll keep him as a pet. Caged, unable to do anything."

    "You won't get the chance to do so..." Rhett said, smiling.

    "What do you-"

    The rabbit glowed. Spatial energy surrounded it, creating a rift in space and swallowed the rabbit. It vanished.

    "He's gone...You will never...find him." Rhett said, growing weaker, his life fading.

    "Well it's too bad that I won't get to kill him, but what can he do as a rabbit." Wes said, using his Blood Healing Art on Rhett. "On the other hand, I can't have you die, I still need you to transfer my soul to the immortal body."

    "I will never help you." Rhett shouted, feeling his wounds healing. His eyes filled with anger.

    "I like those eyes," Wes said, praising him. "But no one said you were going to help willingly." His mouth turned into a wicked grin as blood extended out from his fingertips. He approached Rhett's body and place the bloody hand on his face. The blood tentacles entered Rhett's body through his ears, eyes, nose and mouth into his brain. “Become my puppet"

    Intense pain and fear bombarded Rhett, realizing what his words meant. The fear—enhanced by the evil laughter—filled his mind as darkness embraced him.
     
  5. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Four

    Kael had spent most of his morning in a small secluded corner of the Sect library. A faint lamp—faintly lit—illuminated the area around him. It was quiet. Today was a busy day for the disciples so no one was in the library except for him. He flipped the page of the worn book. Stopping only to inspect the text and vigorously jotted down notes in his notebook.

    The notebook—bound red with his father's name embroidered on the leather—was down to its last few pages. Kael had filled the last half with descriptions of beasts: their habitats, their diets and their contract circles. Something that fascinated him after he had seen a strange, but beautiful beast on his eighth birthday. After that day, he immersed himself in books.

    The first half, however, was filled with strange symbols. Not of his own writing but of his father’s. His research. The symbols were scratched so close together it was impossible to read half of them. The ones Kael could read made no sense. By this point, he had figured that the cryptic writings were in code an impossible to decipher. At least for now.

    Kael glanced once more at the notebook tracing his father's name with his index finger. He then riffled through the first few pages wondering what secret the wild dark black symbols. What his father had discovered. He sighed. I wish could read it, he thought. I really do. He stopped on the final two pages his father wrote. One held three large symbols etched in a broken way as if the brush had run out of ink mid stroke. To Kael it felt intentional. The other was much different than the rest. It only held a large and rough sketch of a spiked feather—etched in red ink. Kael looked at the feather every day, wondering why he had painted it red and not black like the rest.

    Is it related to the phoenix story? Kael thought.

    It was said that the founder of the sect had tamed the legendary phoenix—an immortal creature of immense power. One legend states that the founder stumbled upon a bird with a broken wing and upon nursing a back to health it surrounded itself in flames and spoke to him. Another stated that he tamed it just by petting the creature. Of course, not many believed the legends. They deemed them a hoax or heavily exaggerated, claiming that if they were true the sect would still have a living phoenix.

    His father believed it. He used to tell me he would one day awaken the slumbering phoenix and tame it. The last few stories he told always brought up the phoenix. He could still remember the way his father smiled and acted when he told him the stories. Kael smiled then shook his head trying to forget. He's not here anymore, Kael told himself. You won't hear any new stories...

    A tear found its way to his lips, the saltiness only making him hurt more. His father had passed away a year ago when he left on an expedition, leaving him alone. Well not really alone.

    Kael shifted his vision looking for Leggy. Finally, he spotted the small white spider resting peacefully on a shelf. She was an odd one. He had searched many books for what kind of spider she was, but never found anything close. Her white tipped legs merging to a dark black and her deep violet eyes hadn't been recorded in the encyclopedias he had searched.

    He still didn't worry about it to much as she was his tamed beast. He, however, had not bonded it. His father had. The last thing he did before he died. He smiled at that, more tears falling.

    His father was a genius. His understanding over binding beasts was beyond that of all the elders. To this day they still wondered how he had managed to bind a beast to someone else—without harming them. It was one of the reasons why Kael spent days in the library researching. He had to live up to his father's legacy. He had to make him proud. He had to awaken the phoenix.

    No more crying, he thought. You have to study, master binding and decipher his notes.

    He wiped the tears clear of his eyes then returned his focus to the worn book. He turned the pages and stopped on an illustration spreading across the page. A contract circle—designed to tame bird-like creatures. One of the hallmarks of the Reigned Phoenix sect. It was not the first one Kael had seen, but every time he stumbled upon a new contract circle he was fascinated. He engraved it in his memory. The drew it in his notebook.

    The outer layer of a contract circle always changed as it had to be tailored to the specific species undergoing the binding. The core, however, remained the same across every circle. Kael had read it was because the core holds the contract that forms the link between beast and man. He often wondered how people figured out what symbols to draw for the different species. Did they go through trial and error? Or did they theorize and then test?

    Having memorized the symbol, he sat back into his chair and stretched. "Hopefully, they have left without me." He said wishfully.

    Kael was not in the library just studying. He was hiding. Today, every twelve-year-old in the sect would go and capture a beast. It was a rule that every disciple would have to raise a beast and test their aptitude for taming. The aptitude measured how closely you bonded with the beast among other things. The sect would then allocate resources depending on how well you did.

    Kael thought it was a stupid test. He already had a beast. Their bond was strong and he would not replace her. His vision landed on Leggy still in her little corner strangely curling into a ball.

    She has been doing that more often, he thought. I wonder why...

    A sudden noise broke his train of thought. He jolted and tuned his ears to the noise.

    "Are you sure he will be here?" a voice asked.

    "Yes, he always spends his time here." a second voice responded.

    Drat! He cursed to himself. They found me. I should have chosen another place to hide. Unfortunately, it was too late now.

    He stood and rushed to one of the bookcases. Placing his back against it, he closed his eyes—focusing on his spiritual link with Leggy.

    Wake up! He commanded telepathically. One of the benefits of taming a beast. If you were even more talented, you could feel the emotions and understand your beast. Almost as if they could talk back.

    Leggy jumped, shocked at being suddenly awakened. She looked confused for a moment, taking glances to each side then finally spotting him. He could swear she glared at him and sent her displeasure. Crawling on the side of the bookcase she reached the top and spun her web—covering the gap between her legs. She jumped off and soared through the air, gliding towards him.

    She landed gently on his shoulder, giving a soft dark glow that caused the web to melt off her. Lifting one of her legs, she poked his neck multiple times; mad at being woken up so suddenly.

    Not now Leggy, he sent. They are here. Look for a way to escape.

    Leggy gave a nod, climbed the bookcase, ran across the top and disappeared.

    A while later, she returned and pointed to the left isle. Kael nodded and ran in the direction Leggy pointed. Rushing into the isle he tripped over the mess of books he had made earlier.

    Damn it, he thought. I should have picked them up earlier. He instantly regretted that he hadn't.

    The voices grew near.

    "Did you hear that?" the first voice said.

    "He's over here!" a boy screamed.

    Kael scrambled to his feet, commanding Leggy. Look for a way out. Quick!

    Leggy rushed, jumping and soaring as she looked for a way out of this mess. Kael struggled to keep up with her, but pushed on. He didn't want be forced to go on the mission. Nearing the exit of the library, his mouth turning into a grin.

    "You won't catch me!" he yelled, celebrating.

    "Oh, I wouldn't be so sure." A calm controlled voice came from the door.

    Kael slowed to a halt and stared at the figure blocking his way. His best friend Nar.

    "Why are you with them?" Kael asked

    Nar strut forward elegantly. "To catch you, of course."

    "So, you betrayed me, what a friend you are."

    "I did not betray you. I'm just following the elder’s orders. If you have any complaints take them to him."

    Kael fumed, tightening his hands into fists. He hated this part of Nar. The way he carried himself when on an errand by the elders. His calmness just set him off, especially when he placed orders before friendship. Kael sometimes asked himself why he was friends with him.

    Kael looked around hoping to find a gap in the encirclement, but the other three boys had done a great job cutting off any escape routes.

    Guess there is only one way out of this, he thought as he took a battle stance.

    "Be careful" Nar told the other boys. "He has a tamed beast."

    The boys cringed back slightly, fear could be seen appearing in their eyes.

    "Yea, that's right," Kael grinned. "Leggy come here."

    She responded immediately, gliding in the air and landing on his head. The boys finally gave to fear and retreated.

    "Kael, just give up!" Nar said, growing mad at the sight of the boys giving in to fear so easily.

    "Never," he smirked. "Leggy! Bind him with your web."

    Nar took a fighting pose, but nothing happened.

    "Leggy?"

    Nar's laughter filled the room. Kael reached over his head and understood why Nar was laughing.

    Leggy had curled into a ball, sleeping.

    "Looks like even she agrees that you should give up.”

    Why at this time? Kael thought.

    "I can still take you on." He said.

    "You could," Nar nodded, "but you can take on all four of us. Can you?”

    Kael turn noticed the boys inching forward, anger on their faces.

    "C-can we talk about this?" Kael said, his voice quivering.

    The boys shook their heads and closed in on him.
     
  6. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Five

    The sun was long past its highest point, tinting the sky an eerie yellow-orange, surprising Kael. He hadn't realized how long he had spent inside the library. The books always drew him in.

    They had past several courtyards weaving their way through the sect grounds. Kael had stayed quiet, thinking of ways to escape, but Nar had ordered the boys to drag him.

    His feet didn't even touch the ground. Kael noticed several Elders relaxing and making their rounds. They smiled and whispered to each other as Kael dragged by. Some of the more shameless ones even laughed especially Elder Sal. His laughter carried on for miles and was higher pitched than a Shorn squeal.

    Those creatures would appear during the winter nights and wail nonstop. It was a terrifying sound. People said that the Shorn could also take on the form of loved ones—no one knew how they achieved that—and even take their voices.

    Kael had been awakened in fear by those screams. His father's screams, but distorted. He had cursed at them for taking his father's voice, but Dean would drag him inside before he ever caught a glimpse of them. Before he saw if they had taken his form too. Kael often wondered what he had done to be tormented by a Shorn using his father's form. That wonder, however, also extended to seeing the true form of a Shorn and be the first to record it.

    The laugh got louder shaking his thoughts. Even the boys reacted to it and jolted, almost dropping him—a chance he could have used to escape—but one of them held on hard and picked up the pace.

    Soon they were past the cobble section and onto a dirt trail. In the distance Kael could make out a bright red robe surrounded by shades of green. Elder Dean. It was unmistakable. Only he would wear a robe so bright. Kael even wondered if the man had a mental problem. Ever since he came to live under his roof, after his father's death, he had yet to see him wear something dull.

    Kael gave up trying to run away and sighed. Of all the elders, it had to be Dean leading this particular mission. He should have expected that when Dean told him to meet him after lunch. Of course, he chose to study instead.

    "Nar can you at least let me walk there?" Kael asked, giving a defeated sigh.

    Nar studied him for a moment staying silent.

    "Look, it's embarrassing. The other's will see me being dragged there." Kael said.

    "Put him down." He said, nodding.

    Two of the boys complied, but the largest of them still clutched to his arm. Kael tried to break free, but the boy's grip was astonishingly strong.

    "Let me go." Kael said. "Didn't you hear him?"

    The boy held his grip. No, he gripped harder a smile filling his face.

    "It might be a trick..." the boy said.

    "Levy, just let him go." Nar snapped.

    "Fine, but if he runs its on you Nar." He said, finally letting go and whispering into Kael’s ear. “You are lucky...this time."

    Levy. That name sounded familiar to Kael but he couldn't recall how he knew him. Kael never spent time with the other kids his age. Not because he felt superior to them but because he buried himself in books. Rarely going out of his room and the library. Or so he liked to believe. The truth was that whenever he tried to strike a conversation with any of them it ended the same; they gave him glances then they simply walked away. They disliked him, not for his personality, but because of his special status.

    Kael looked at the golden badge—shaped as a phoenix soaring upwards—on his chest. His father's symbol and his mark as an inner disciple.

    Others are struggling to rise in status. He thought. Yet I'm already an inner disciple.

    He shook his head before trotting forward to Nar and matching his pace.

    "Hey, when did this Levy kid become your underling?" he asked Nar.

    "He didn't. He volunteered when Elder Dean ordered us to find you."

    He glanced back at Levy still grinning, staring at him. Something felt off to Kael. Why would he volunteer to help? He wondered.

    Reaching the crowd, Kael noticed the kids—wearing green long sleeved robes—sweating. Some sat on the ground while others stood with large bags on their backs. Prepared for the mission.

    They give him glances mixed with frowns and unsatisfied whispers. Damn, Kael thought. They really don't like me. And why would they? He had them wait under the scorching sun for heaven knows how long.

    Kael lowered his head hiding his shame. Leggy somehow still stayed on his head, sleeping. Unconsciously his right hand grasped the badge, covering it.

    "Well," Dean said, facing the crowd. "Now that all of us are here, I will explain the exact details of the mission.

    "All of you have been studying in the sect for four years now. And many of you come from commoner backgrounds; part of the sect's program to uncover outstanding talents that otherwise would have not gotten a chance to shine.” he paused for effect then continued, “The sect gave you the chance, but you have all worked hard and pushed through—treading on this hard path. Today, you take another step on that hard road. Some may still think that because others have a special status..." He stopped to look at Kael. "You will never succeed.

    "I want you to stop thinking that. Status might let you get a head start, but that, however, doesn't mean you aren't able to achieve greatness. If you work hard enough, you can climb to the top. I know because I myself was once part of the same program you are in."

    Gasps spread through the crowd.

    He's manipulating them again, Kael scoffed, looking at the crowd of kids tightening their fists an eager expression in their eyes.

    "This is your chance." Dean continued. "You will enter the blue section of the forest and capture a beast. Your first beast. Commen-"

    "Dean," Kael interrupted, "I already have a beast." This was his chance to get out of this mission.

    The crowd of kids gasped and Dean turned giving him a glare. "Show respect boy. It's Elder Dean."

    Crap! Kael thought. This is going to end bad.

    Even if Dean dressed in ridiculously bright robes and didn't mind being called Dean in private. Dean placed his image above everything else. And he had just disrespected him. In front of a bunch of kids nonetheless.

    "Elder Dean," he corrected. "Can I be exempt from this mission?"

    "No, everyone must take part in this mission."

    "But I already have a beast!"

    "Doesn't matter if you do. You will be part of this mission. It's the rules, Kael." He said, staring down at him. "And even you are not above them."

    He's bringing my status up again. Kael thought.

    Dean always tried to make him get along with them. To stop thinking that he was special.

    I'm not special, he told himself. But I need to make dad proud.

    "I don't think I'm above anyone else. I just don't have time to waste with stupid missions."

    "Oh. I didn't know the tradition that even your father followed was stupid."

    "T-that..."

    "Elder Dean, he is probably just making excuses because he is scared to enter the forest." A boy said. Kael turned. It was Brin. He stood there—blond hair and golden robes shifting in the breeze—with a smug look on his face.

    "He probably is. Should have seen how we struggled to drag him here." Levy said, joining in.

    "That's not it!" Kael said, raising his voice. “All I meant was that it's stupid for me to take this test since I already have Leggy."

    Dean approached him, removing Leggy from his head and placing her inside his robes. "There, you have no beast now. Problem solved. Now go stand among the others."

    Kael wanted to protest, but he was pulled back by Nar.

    "Let it go Kael." He said. “It’s only three hours."

    Nar was right. If he continued, it would only make things worse. It would make seem he was really afraid. He turned and glared at Brin. Levy stood next to him.

    No wonder he volunteered. Kael thought. He's with him.

    Brin was the only disciple with the same status as him. He always acted with superiority and arrogance. He tried to show his genius but every kid thought of him as an annoyance.

    Kael had to admit that although Brin threw his status left and right, he knew what he was doing. He always managed to hold conversations and the kids interest. Even if they only talked to him in hopes of benefits.

    Dean probably worried that he would end up like Brin.

    Like if I would ever stoop that low. He laughed inside.

    Ignoring Brin he looked towards the forest and tuned out the rest of Dean's explanation.

    Shortly it was over.

    "Alright now go and capture your chance at success." Dean said, finishing his speech.

    The kids shouted in agreement and ran into the forest. Kael sighed and followed.

    "Hey Kael, wait up." Brin said, catching up to him.

    "What do you want?"

    "No need to be hostile. I just wanted to make this more interesting."

    "What do you mean?"

    "A competition. Let’s see who captures the best beast."

    "Brin, like he will ever beat you." Levy said, laughing. "Look he is not even prepared."

    Kael narrowed his eyes at Levy.

    "Well, that is true..." Brin trailed off. "I guess I was placing my hopes up for nothing."

    "I accept." Kael yelled. "I don't need to be prepared to catch a beast better than what you will ever catch."

    "You are on, Kael. No backing off now." He said, smiling and walking away.
     
  7. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Six

    What have I gotten myself into.
    Kael kept repeating in his mind as he entered the forest.

    He had agreed to Brin's stupid competition in the spur of the moment, but thinking about it—and hating to admit it—Levy was right. How was he supposed to catch a beast without any tools?

    He sighed and continued deeper into the forest. The trees rose higher and the vegetation grew thicker. Wild. Untamed. The setting sun was soon shrouded and he stood in the shadow.

    Just him and the forest. Its sounds resounded in his ears. He focused on the insects and birds chirping.

    "This isn't so bad." Kael said.

    A cloud of insects crawled and buzzed around him. Biting, stinging and pricking his skin. Swatting madly only made things worse and aggravated them. Kael stopped killing them and ran; trying to get away from the infernal stinging.

    "Damn it." He cursed out loud. Suddenly he tripped over a fallen log and dived head first onto a patch of cool mud. He turned on his back drenching himself in mud.

    At least the bugs stopped biting me. He thought, covering his face in frustration.

    "How I'm I to do this alone." He yelled. He missed Leggy. With her he could at least capture something, anything, to get out of the forest and return to his books. Even if it meant losing the competition.

    "With help." A voice said.

    Kael froze at the sound of the calm voice.

    Did I imagine it? He thought, quickly trying to clean the mud from his eye. No someone is there.

    "Nar?" he asked. "Is that you." His eyes could only distinguish shades—still affected partly by the mud.

    "Wow Kael. We just entered the forest and you already look like you've been here a week." Nar said, laughing.

    "Shut up. Whose fault is it that I'm here in the first place."

    "You are still mad about that? I told you I was following orders."

    “You could have let me go...” he trailed off, his vision getting better. Nar sat on a stump, his long-sleeved robe tightly around his arms and a large bag at his back.

    Where did he get that? Kael wondered. He didn’t have it before.

    “I couldn’t do that. Here,” Nar suddenly reached into his bag and threw a bottle at him. "Clean your face and let's go."

    Barely catching the bottle, he poured the contents on his hands then rubbed his face clean of mud.

    "Go where?"

    "Catch some beasts of course."

    "I don't need your help." Kael insisted, walking away. He was mad at him for throwing him in this situation.

    "Oh really? Then I’m sure you know where you are going and that you won't need this bug repelling pellet, right?" Nar said mockingly, holding up a small sphere.

    He stopped. He was right. Kael didn’t know where to go he had been walking randomly. He felt the bugs stinging again and shivered.

    "Just give it here." Kael said, rushing forward and swallowing the pill.

    "I'll take that's a yes then." Nar said, pacing past him and into the forest.


    ##


    Nar had led the way for the past thirty minutes. The trees started getting sparse and some clearings could be seen every few minutes.

    "How far in are we going?"

    "Not much farther. We are almost to their nest."

    "What kind of beast nests this far in. I can see the yellow wall already."

    The forest was divided into three sections—blue, yellow and maroon. Each section was more dangerous than the last.

    The blue section, which they were currently in, held only beast cubs. There wasn't any type danger. Kael didn't quite understand how, but he had read that a formation maintained it that way. Whenever a beast went beyond the threshold, it would be sent to the next section through the yellow wall.

    "The Roc Fox makes its nest near the energy that is given off by the wall."

    Roc foxes? Kael thought. Are you crazy. His eyes widened at Nar.

    Roc foxes were known for their beauty. Their colors of their fur—usually an orange or red—remained steady but the feathers on the back of their legs varied. Some scholars believed that the species was a dormant offshoot evolution. Many experimented on them. Cross breeding in hopes of mutation and the awakening of its potential. All had failed, however, causing the foxes to lose their feathers or die quickly after.

    "But that species is intelligent and incredibly fast even as cubs. How the hell are we catching one?"

    Nar rummaged through his bag and took out a strange herb and a net. Kael didn't recognize the herb but it had three stalks each narrow and the size of a pen. The net, however, was something he had seen and read about.

    "How did you get a Versilk net? The price is outrageous."

    Nar smiled. "Elder Norman lent it to me."

    "Norman? That stingy guy?" Kael asked, dumbfounded. Norman was known throughout the sect for his strict standards and prices. He never dropped his prices. Not even for elders. He had even heard Dean complain several times about his prices to Roan—the master of the Material Palace—but even he didn't manage to change Norman's mind. It was a miracle Nar had managed to borrow something.

    "Yes, he is surprisingly interested in my talent for herbs." Nar said, smiling. "He says it's the best he's seen. He even hinted at taking me as his apprentice."

    "What? No way. That old guy is actually planning on taking someone in?"

    "Kael, you should really respect the elders...lest things like what happened earlier with Elder Dean will repeat themselves."

    He winced. It was true. He was too used to just calling elders by their name. "I-I know, but it's you and me righ-"

    Nar covered his mouth and quickly removed a small bottle from his belt. He removed two yellow pills, ate one and stuffed the other into Kael's mouth.

    "The antidote." Nar whispered.

    Antidote for what? Kael wanted to ask but Nar crouched and proceeded slowly into some bushes.

    Waiting a moment, Nar lit the herd aflame with a flint and threw it between two small mounds of dirt.

    Soon three red foxes came out of a hole and ran into the clearing, rolling on the floor. One fainted shortly after, but the other two still managed to stand.

    Kael stared in wonder as the scene played out. How had Nar known the foxes were there? He gave Nar a suspicious look.

    The smoke continued to spread forming a huge cloud that burned his eyes. The feeling of fainted spread through his body and Kael staggered.

    "Nar are you sure you gave me the right antidote?" he whispered, slurring his words.

    No response. He tried to open his teary eyes and look around, but that made them burn more. His throat was soon in flames as well. Suddenly, a soothing chill spread from his stomach through his body. He managed to stand noticing that Nar had been in the same situation.

    "What the hell Nar. It felt like I was on fire." Kael said, his voice raspy. "I thought you gave me the antidote."

    "I forgot that it took a minute or two for it to take effect. And noticing the Roc Foxes near I grew eager. Sorry."

    "How did you know they were there? There's trees everywhere and there are even mounds of dirt covering the place."

    Nar stayed silent for a moment. "Promise you won't laugh?"

    "Uh sure."

    "I felt an itch on my back." He said, blushing.

    "An itch? That's how you knew?"

    "I know it sounds weird, but I'm telling the truth. It started about three months ago." He continued. "Whenever something approached the center of my back would itch. At first, I dismissed it as my imagination but as the days passed it persisted and grew stronger. Finally, I began testing by closing my eyes and focusing on it. To my surprise I could faintly see outlines of people or beasts and know what they were doing."

    "That sounds awesome." Kael said.

    "Like hell, it freaked me out. Thought I was going insane or seeing ghost. Then I realize what it actually was and I started thinking of it as a benefit."

    Kael wanted to ask more but a whimper resounded. The second fox had fallen.

    "Let's go catch them." Nar said, heading into the dispersing smoke.

    Kael approached the foxes and stood next to Nar who had a fascinated look on his face. Following his sight, he noticed one fox still standing. Its legs wavered and the feathers on his front legs were fully extended showing a hostile posture. Pure black feathers.

    "Amazing. It is still displaying so much willpower." Nar said. "That Lorh Herb should have caused even a mature Roc Fox to faint. Kael, let me have that one."

    "Nar its feathers are weird. I’ve never read anything that suggested something like this. The feathers are never a single color.”

    “That’s why I want it. It will be a good beast I’m sure.”

    “Alright…

    I'll just take one of the others. It should be enough to shut Brin up. Kael thought. Even if he ends up getting a better beast.

    Nar threw the Versilk Net over the standing fox. The weight of the net caused the fox to finally give in to the herbs effect and fell into a slumber. Just as they neared Nar tackled him hard.

    Before he could yell out a loud boom resounded throughout the forest. A streak of purple lightning crossed the place Kael was standing and continued breaking the air-towards the yellow wall. A strong force burst and sent both of them tumbling in the air.
     
  8. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Seven

    Kael hit the ground hard. His head ached and ears rang constantly. Disoriented he stood and looked around for Nar.

    Nar laid a few feet away covered in dust. He didn’t look hurt. Kael made his way to him and offered a hand to help him stand.

    “Thanks for saving me Nar.” Kael said sincerely.

    If he didn’t tackle me I would have been pierced through. He thought looking at the path of destruction the lighting had caused.

    The mounds of dirt had been flattened. Several trees shattered by the force but the most destruction was in the center—were the beam had passed. It was like nothing Kael had ever seen. The trees had a huge perfectly round hole as if something took a bite of them. Squinting his eyes Kael noticed sawdust floating.

    They were disintegrated and grind to dust…he stared in awe. What could have caused this? His curiosity urged him to go see what it was. No, he needed to know.

    "Did you see what it was?" Kael asked.

    "I don't know," Nar said. "All I saw in my mind was purple. The itch became so strong it hurt and my body acted on its own and tackled you."

    Kael unconsciously started walking down the path of destruction.

    “Kael, where are you going? It’s dangerous.”

    “I need to know what it was. You can follow or stay behind.”

    “Damn it, Kael.” Nar said. “Just wait up.”

    Kael turned and glanced at Nar who was searching for something. Quickly, he found the Versilk net—fox still inside—and tied it to his bag.

    “Aren’t you getting a fox?”

    “Oh right,” Kael responded, looking for one of the foxes and placing it inside Nar’s net. “There, now let’s go.” He then led the way.


    ##


    Kael faced a giant yellow wall. It glowed brightly and seem to reach the heavens. Or at least Kael couldn’t see the end of it. A faint constant humming could be heard. Strange symbols—too advanced for either of them to understand—swirled, expanding and contracting within the wall. They brimmed with energy.

    Kael had heard older disciples talk about the grandeur of the different walls—blue, yellow and maroon—that divided the forest, but they had not done it justice. He stood there fascinated. He rushed and place his hands on the wall, feeling the energy. It coursed through his body causing a slight tickle.

    Before he could feel anything else, the symbols gathered around his hands and pushed them away.

    Fascinating. He thought. How do they do that? How much force do they enact. Is it relative to how much force is used?

    He tried pushing harder with his hands and the wall responded equally—confirming one of his many questions.

    He needed write them down. Study them. His dad would have surely done that and more. He would have understood the symbols.

    Kael rummaged through his robe, took out his notebook—still in pristine condition. His father had set a small formation on the journal that protected it from outside harm. It even prevented the book from burning. The only reason Kael always kept it with him without worrying.

    Opening it to the last pages, he drew. In seconds, he managed to draw all the symbols within his vision. Nar pulled on Kael's robe bringing him out of his trance.

    "What?" he asked, dissatisfied. His eyes still lingering on the symbols.

    "There's a purple spot on the wall." Nar said, pointing.

    A few meters down the wall, strange purple mist leaked out. Kael ran towards it. Nobody mentioned this, he thought. Could it be related to the strange lightning.

    He slowed down to a walk as he approached the mist. Then he stopped. There on the wall there was a hole. A purple rim, about a hand wide, surrounded the hole followed by a horde of symbols rapidly enclosed it—discarding the energy causing it to mist.

    This was impossible. The wall couldn’t be breached. That’s what everyone said. He looked at the hole again. It was big enough to squeeze through. Kael got on his knees and crawled towards it. He wanted to know what caused the wall to break.

    "Kael, we shouldn't go through." Nar said, a tremble in his voice. "That's the yellow side. The beasts there are dangerous."

    His face crossed the wall and the mist faded slightly allowing him a view of the other side; a portal—at least that is what it seemed like—rapidly shrinking and a rabbit popping out of it.

    How is that possible? He wondered. That beast must be special. I need to have it and study it.

    "Nar, there's a beast on the other side that I want." He said.

    "Are you crazy? We already have the foxes. Plus, the beasts on that side could kill you."

    Nar was right, but the rabbit wasn't that far and he couldn't see any beasts around. If he hurried he could get to it and be back on this side without danger.

    "I'm going to go get it." Kael said. Without waiting for Nar's protest, he crossed the wall.

    Cautiously, he looked around making sure there was no beasts and approached the rabbit. Slowly at first then gaining speed as he reached it. It was beautiful. The rabbit was white, but the tips of its fur were blue. The most interesting part, however, was the strange purple scar on its forehead—a perfect circle with a spiral on its center.

    "Kael!" Nar shouted. "Come back now. There's a wolf."

    Caught off-guard by the sudden scream, Kael searched.

    Then he saw it.

    A massive gray wolf, off in the distance, walking towards him. Kael’s fascination for the rabbit turned to fear instantly. It ran across his body like blood—paralyzing every muscle. His breath turned shallow until neared a complete stop. He could only focus on the dark yellow eyes glaring at him; the drool dropping from its snarling mouth; the teeth, sharp like a row of daggers, glinting in the sun.

    "Kael!"

    As if on cue the wolf came to a sprint.

    Coming to his senses, Kael grabbed the rabbit, put it inside his robe and rushed back to the hole in the wall. His vision narrowed—the previous lack of oxygen's fault. Weakness infected him making his legs unstable and he tripped. He scraped his head as he tumbled, but at the same time it allowed a view of the wolf. It was much closer now. Far too close.

    I can't die here. He told himself. I need to become strong. Just like dad.

    He willed himself to stand—blood dripping from the fresh wound on his head—in spite of the fear he felt. Adrenaline surged through his body, giving him an extra push. He didn't dare look back now. He had wasted too much time. The wolf was reaching him. Faster, he urged himself. Just a bit more.

    Kael was only ten feet from the hole, yet at that very moment, it seemed miles away. Every step he took felt an eternity. Five feet. Two feet. He jumped into the hole.

    Halfway through, pain shook his leg. The wolf had scratched him. It headed for a bite, but Nar pulled him to safety. The wolf growled, its front claw trying to grasp at him. Fortunately, the wolf was unable to get through the hole.

    Kael gasped for air, hands and legs sprawled wide. Nar noticed the gash on his leg. Hurriedly he searched his bag for anything to tourniquet the wound. Not finding anything useful, he took a knife to his robe. After, he cut strands of his Versilk net.

    "You are crazy, Kael." Nar said, wrapping the torn cloth and tying it.

    Kael calmed down. The adrenaline was gone, pain and soreness riddled his body, but he survived.

    "Kael, we need to head back. The elder needs to see your wound."

    "No. It's alright." Kael muttered.

    "It’s not alright!” Nar yelled. “It could get infected."

    "I have herbs back at my house. I can take care of it" He said, sitting up. Kael didn't want Dean to know. Heaven save him if he found out that he crossed to the yellow section and the danger he went through.

    He turned to Nar with a serious face. "Promise me, you won't speak of what happened."

    Nar hesitated. His face showed signs of worry, but in the end, he gave a small nod.

    Kael smiled. He could trust Nar to keep his word. He felt inside his robe and pulled out the rabbit. His gaze lingered on him. I almost died for you. He thought. I hope it was worth it.

    "You risked your life for that?" Nar asked, finally taking a look at the strange rabbit.

    "Hey, I can feel this beast is special." It has to be. He whispered to himself. It came from that portal.

    "Is it even alive? It's not moving."

    The thought of it being dead had not crossed Kael's mind. Worriedly, he lifted and inspected it, searching for signs of life. Its limbs hung like those of a doll.

    No, it can’t be dead. He thought. Kael placed a finger on its nose and sighed in relief.

    "I can feel its breath." He said. "It's weak, but its alive."

    Kael stood placing the rabbit back into his robe. He placed weight on his wounded leg—testing it. Pain rushed up to his hip and he staggered. Hopefully, Nar was there and caught him.

    “You sure you can walk?”

    “Yea, the pain just caught me by surprise.”

    The pain was bearable if he anticipated it, but hiding the wound would be a bit hard. That worried him. He needed to figure out a way to hide the wound before he reached the exit.

    He limped forward and motioned Nar to follow.

    "Come on, let's get out of this forest."
     
  9. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Eight

    Sweat trickled down Kael’s brow causing his wound to sting. He rubbed his brow, but that only made things worse. The thin layer of dried blood that formed was ripped clean, exposing the wound, making it bleed again. He grimaced at the slight burning sensation on his forehead, but that was soon overshadowed by his right leg.

    It was numb yet it pained. It was weird. He barely had control over it, but whenever the leg touched the ground again the sensation would be amplified. The pain would shoot and spread like a fire.

    He tried to shift his attention to the scenery and keep his mind occupied with something other than pain but it was for naught.

    Kael lost his balance and fell. His arms shivered uncontrollably. His breathing was ragged and vision blurry.

    So cold. He repeated in his mind.


    ##


    Damn it. Nar thought as Kael fell.

    He rushed forward to check his condition. It was bad. He was delirious and burning up.

    Why didn’t he say anything? He complained to himself, but he knew Kael. He was stubborn and would not admit weakness.

    During the long walk, he had wondered if he should have told Kael to wait and rush ahead for help. Kael wouldn’t have let him do it though. He would bring up the promise he made.

    You should have still done it. He told himself. His life is on the line.

    Nar regretted his decision, but it was too late for that. Kael was in dire need of help. He needed to find a place with herbs and try to help him.

    He rummaged through his bag taking out his map. Quickly he found where they were. Hopefully, they were near the center spring.

    He looked at his things and beast then at Kael. He tossed Kael on his back and made his way to the spring.

    It was not a long walk, in just ten minutes he found himself atop a small incline.

    The spring was located at the bottom of the crater. According to what Elder Dean said, it was made by the sect founder after he tamed the phoenix and even had a formation set by him.

    Nar had also read that the place calming and brought peace. It even helped a few elders make breakthroughs. Nar could see why.

    It was beautiful.

    Rocks and herbs—of varying sizes and colors—surrounded the area, bringing it to life. The water itself seemed to glow. In a strange way, everything seemed so perfect as if it was created by nature itself. Nar forgot himself for a moment and took in the scene. Energy flowed inside him. Slowly traveling through his body until it reached the place where the itch happened.

    At that moment, he saw a vision. A lone tall man—his skin white as snow, eyes like fire—and a bird on his shoulder. The bird itself was majestic, unlike anything Nar had seen. Its feathers glowed with color.

    T-this…Nar thought, shocked. It was the first time in his visions that he saw color.

    The bird grew brighter and the mans eyes lit up with red and looked at him. He smiled and walked to him and placed his hand on his head. The man spoke words Nar couldn’t understand then a large influx of energy flowed into him. The man’s image along with the bird then vanished.

    What was that. Nar thought. That man and the bird…what did they do?

    Kael moved, breaking his thought and reminding him what he was here to do. Placing Kael down he began his search for herbs distracting his mind of what had just occurred.

    His itch helped him greatly, guiding him to the location of the exact herb he needed. It felt different, enhanced even. He couldn’t help, but think of the vision and what the man did. For now, he assumed that the man somehow made the strange power stronger. He thanked the heavens for it. If it didn’t happen, he would have spent longer trying to find the herbs. Having gathered the herbs, he realized that he had left all his tools with his bag. He left the herbs next to Kael and ran back to his things.


    ##


    The smell of crushed herbs woke Kael. Opening his eyes he saw Nar working.

    “N-nar…” he said, struggling.

    “you are awake. This is good means the wound isn’t as bad as I thought. We can use the her-“

    “W-water…” Kael said. He tried swallowing—his tongue rubbed the roof of his mouth—but failed.

    In a second, Nar had a bottle to his chapped lips. Gulping the water, he felt in heaven. The sweet flavor was the best he’d ever had. The coolness spread down his throat, easing his pain.

    “You better?” Nar asked, concerned.

    “Thanks. Where are we?” Kael asked, finally noticing the change in scenery.

    “At the center spring. I carried you while you were unconscious.”

    “w-wait how long was I out?”

    “About thirty minutes or so.” Nar said, going back to his rhythmic crushing.

    Damn. He thought. That means we only have less than an hour before the mission is over.

    Noticing the water, Kael was astonished. It was glowing and was so clear—even more than the sect’s drinking water—that it seemed transparent. He moved forward, his leg not bothering him much. Squinting his eyes, he noticed a large shining symbol in the center of the spring.

    "This place has a formation?" he asked Nar.

    "Yeah," Nar said. "Didn't you pay attention to Elder Dean? He told us before we entered that if we lost our water we could come here as a formation purifies the pond."

    Dean said that? He thought. Maybe I should have listened to him.

    Kael took a seat near the edge. Slowly he undid the bandage on his leg revealing the monstrous wound. Blood no longer spilled out but the wound was gruesome. Sure to leave a scar. He scooped water with his right hand and sprayed it over the wound. Kael watched the trail of red flow in the water. It spiraled towards the center, disappearing into the shining symbol. Surprised he dipped the blood-soaked cloth staring intently as the seeping blood traveled once again towards the symbol—disappearing. His mind worked trying to figure out how it made that happen.

    Nar approached him carrying a bowl with a disgusting green mush.

    “You shouldn’t have moved around.” He said. “Well, at least you cleaned the wound for me.”

    He then applied the herb onto his wound. It stung at first then the pain was gone.

    When did he learn about herbs? He wondered.

    Grabbing the cloth, Nar then proceeded to tie it around him.

    “Are those Versilk threads? Just how di-“

    His vision trailed to the net. It was torn at some places, but still managed to hold the beast.

    “Norman is going to kill you…”

    “don’t worry about. At worse I will just have to become his apprentice.”

    “Thanks.” He said.

    He still felt bad, however, that he placed Nar in this situation all for his stupid actions. All for the rabbit. He felt around his robe, but did not find his journal or rabbit.

    “Nar, my journal. It’s gone.” Kael said, standing in a frenzy.

    “Calm down I placed it in my bag along with the rabbit.”

    He walked towards the bag and opened it taking his journal and placing it against his chest. It calmed him. He always kept it with him. It made him feel his father was still next to him; telling him stories; smiling at him; holding him.

    After a while he placed opened it to a blank page and drew the symbol in the center of the spring. Finishing his drawing he placed it within his robe—over his heart—where it belonged.

    Kael took the rabbit, its tiny figure still slept peacefully, and put it inside his robe.

    A sudden movement scared him. The foxes where waking up.

    Nar approached and pet the waking foxes.

    “Are you sure you want to keep that rabbit instead of the fox?” Nar asked.

    “Yeah.” He said without hesitation. “let my fox loose.”

    Sighing Nar did as he was told and set him on the ground—keeping the black feathered fox inside.

    It slowly got up and shied away as soon as it noticed them. The other fox squirmed alive. Nar tried calming it but it snarled, bit him and tried to escape the net. He let out a sigh as he tied the net to a tree and sat next to Kael.

    “Doesn’t seem to like you much. Huh?”

    “He’s just scared at the moment.” Nar said confidently. “He will come around once I tame him. How’s your leg feeling?”

    “Much better, thanks.” Kael said, smiling.

    But then it hit him.

    How would they explain his wrapped leg? He looked around noticing the mud at the edge of the spring. He was already covered in mud from when he fell after entering the forest, so he could probably disguise it. He grabbed a handful of mud and spread it over his legs making it impossible to distinguish the Versilk wrapped cloth. Now all that was left was getting rid of his limp.

    Kael stood, practicing his gait. Pacing back and forth adjusting the limp making it less noticeable. To the side Nar watched bellowing out commands fixing mistakes that eluded Kael. With his help, he finally managed to fake a normal walk. The pain, however, still struck when placing weight on the damaged leg, but it was manageable.

    Kael thanked Nar for his help. Joyful that he had followed behind when they entered.

    Without him I would have been able to get the rabbit. He would have probably ended up not capturing anything. Worse yet, end up stung to death by bugs. Kael shuddered, but laughed at the thought.

    "We should get going." Nar said, worried. "The three-hour limit is almost up."

    Nar turned and stared with a blank look. Lost in thought.

    “Kael, did you heard someone talk right now?” Nar asked, still with a strange look on his face.

    “Yeah, I was the one who talked. Let’s get going. Time is almost up.” Kael said once again.

    “So only I can hear him…” Nar mumbled.

    “Come on, Nar.” Kael said, pulling him away from the spring.


    Fortunately, they still made it out in time. Most of the kids were laughing and boasting about the beasts they had captured. Kael spotted Brin and Levy approaching.

    "Well, it was about time you got out." He said, mockery in his voice. "I was beginning to worry that you ran away."

    "From the looks of it, he was wasting his time bathing in mud." Levy added.

    Kael felt his cheeks turn red. It really did seem that way. He fought the urge to blur out that he had stepped into the yellow section.

    Stop. He told himself. Don't listen to them. You'll get in bigger trouble if you say that. Dean would hear.

    He eyed Dean. He was staring at the kids and nodding with a satisfied expression as he noted the beasts they capture. He still hadn’t noticed the wound on his leg. A good start. He had to keep it that way until it healed.

    "Check out my beast. Kael." Brin said, removing the cover of the huge box Levy carried. A cage. Within was a wolf cub.

    Shock filled Kael's eyes. It was the same as the gray wolf that almost killed him.

    Just how did he get it? He thought.

    The pup was violent. It clawed and bit at the cage doing its species justice. Gray wolves were known for their dominating and violent behavior since birth. Cubs would often fight to the death until one remained. It was part of their ritual. The strong survived and the weak perished. Surprisingly, their numbers didn’t suffer.

    In fact, more and more of them littered the continent. So much in fact, that sects would often send disciples on missions to reduce their population for the safety of the people.

    The fact that Brin had actually found and captured one was astonishing. The scar filled cub was probably the only one in the entire forest.

    "Where is your beast?" Brin asked.

    Hesitating Kael took out the rabbit from his robes. Brin burst out laughing.

    "That little rabbit is your beast. It makes sense. Someone scared to enter the forest wouldn't try to tame a good beast."

    "Just wait and see until my rabbit beats your wolf." Kael said, confidently.

    "Like that will ever happen." Levy said. “A rabbit beating a wolf. That would be a miracle.”

    "We will see about that." Kael insisted.

    “Sometimes I wonder if you are really the son of genius.” Brin said, sighing.

    Kael tightened his fist preparing a punch, but before he could throw it, Dean spoke.

    “The mission is over. We will now head to the Material Palace.”

    The kids cheered and followed.

    Did Dean notice I was going to punch him? Kael asked himself, noticing Dean glare at him. Of course he did.

    Dean always seemed to know when he did something bad. He glanced at his right leg. He hoped that he wouldn’t notice.

    Brin’s bragging voice snaked into his ear. Kael turned focusing on him as he continued to show off his beast to the crowd. Anger still sparking inside him for what he said.

    One day, Kael vowed, tightening his fists, I’m going to give him a good punch to the face.
     
  10. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Nine

    The Material Palace was located in the central section of the sect. It was the second highest building, but its grandeur was not any less. Kael glanced around, the white walls gave him a feeling of emptiness, but the intricate patterns and designs carved into the walls overwhelmed him.

    Two guards watched their group. Their red armor shined under the lighting stones. Their figures were large, muscles built to the extreme. Each held a sword and small knife at their sides. Not beasts. They were fighters.

    The Reigned Phoenix Sect was split into two professions. Tamers and fighters. Tamers were the stronger force of the sect, but their numbers were rare. Fighters, however, made up a large part of the sect’s population, but their strength was limited. Usually, the sect would allow everyone to take the tamer test as they wanted to take any talents they could. In the occasion that a trainee did not pass the tamer aptitude test, they were given a second chance as a fighter.

    The fighter test was easy. It only needed one to be at a certain level of strength and at least beginner mastery in any weapon. Unfortunately, the sect did not provide any advanced qi gathering manuals, at least not for free. If enough contributions to the sect were made, the sect would gift them a higher manual. Most, however, only ever read the basic qi gathering methods so they tended to remained below the third fracture. Their path differed greatly from tamers which made further advancement almost impossible; yet there were exceptions.

    Some had an innate talent to gather qi—allowing them to crack their core further. Others had a higher body constitution that allowed them to push forward. For example, the captain of the Discipline Hall. The most elite fighter of the sect. He was a monster at the eighth fracture and still showed signs of improvement. Two more fractures to his core and he would reach his first mending. The same rank as the Sect leader.

    Kael squinted his eyes and made out the writing on their shoulder place that dictated their rank. Unfortunately, he was too far to distinguish anything. He could only sigh and glance around.

    The kids huddled close with mouths agape. How many of them will graduate from their green color? Kael thought. How many would end up as tamers, fighters or worse, neither. Only beginner disciples were forced to wear green. Others were allowed to wear any color they pleased—except red, black and purple—as long as they visibly showed their status medallion. Kael sighed, looking down at his muddied blue robes and medallion then back at the stunned kids.

    He remembered the way here. Dean had led them towards the central courtyard. They had stayed grouped together—quietly admiring the grandeur of the inner sect. For most of them it was their first time stepping into the inner sect. Some had even cringed back and lowered their heads when an inner disciple passed by. Surely afraid from stories they heard; that if they offended someone their lives would be hell.

    It was common to hear about disciples in other sects making someone’s life impossible for petty things like ignoring them or offending them in a stupid way. Kael wondered how organizations as big as those could thrive if any person with enough status could kill as they pleased without repercussions.

    The Reigned Phoenix sect, however, was not like the others. They had strict rules in place to prevent any sort of corruption. Disciples and elders alike had to abide to them; if they didn’t they would suffer punishment. There was no instance of an inner disciple or elder stopping the advancement of a disciple. They just didn’t have that amount of power. Yes, their status was higher, but that just meant that they had access to more locations and resources; nothing else. Beginner disciples were only allowed access to two of the five sections. Inner disciples had access to four and Elders had access to all five. At least it had been this way after Dean proposed it.

    He noticed Dean standing next to a guard, leisurely waiting for the kids to calm down. It's probably because he is to lazy, Kael thought, and doesn't want to maintain the extra load on the formations the extra people stepping through it would cause.

    Dean was the elder in charge of maintaining the formations of the sect. In fact, he was highly revered in the sect. Kael didn’t know why others held so much respect for Dean. He had bad taste in robes and at home, he always complained about his duties around the sect. He did not enjoy monitoring the formations. There were just far too many of them throughout the sect. Dean, however, would just sigh after complaining to him and say they were needed; For protection and to prevent crimes.

    Kael shifted his gaze to Nar, expecting him to be as shocked as the other kids, but he was just distant.

    "Hey, are you alright? You’ve been weird since we left the spring.” Kael said.

    No response. Nar just stayed there in deep thought. Not even worrying about the fox squirming in the net.

    Could he be worried about the test? Kael thought, or about his beast?

    "Nar.” he said, placing his hand on his shoulder.

    He jolted at the sudden touch and gave him a weird look.

    "Don't worry about things. Everything will be fine.”

    “it’s not that…”

    “Once you pass the aptitude test I am sure you'll get promoted. Then we can go even further." Kael said smiling.

    Nar seemed to want to say something else, but in the end, he gave a nod.

    At that moment, Dean stepped forward and cleared his throat causing the few kids to quiet immediately. "Form a single line and wait to be called." He ordered. Seeing the kids scramble into a line pleased him.

    "You will take your beast inside and give it to Elder Roan, he is the man wearing the blue robe. He will inspect your beast and give you the exact materials needed to form a contract with that specific beast. After that, he will give you a key to the room where you will be staying for the next thirty days."

    "What!" Brin exclaimed. "No one mentioned that."

    Dean looked at Brin, who stood first in line.

    "Don't interrupt me." He said, raising his voice.

    Brin cringed back and stayed quiet. Seeing that Dean nodded continued. "This is a new rule that the elders decided to place to give everyone the same chance. The beasts must remain within the closed off section for thirty days. If by any reason, you are discovered to have taken your beast beyond the set boundary, you will immediately fail your aptitude test."

    Interesting. Kael thought, looking at Dean. He probably wants us all in one place to make it easier for himself.

    "One more thing, those who didn't catch a beast will have to wait at the end of the line. Your beasts will be provided for, but they need to find adequate ones first and you will not get to choose." He said, clasping his hands behind his back and walking out of the material palace.

    Once Dean left a disciple called Brin to enter. He walked proudly carrying the cage himself with a smug look on his face.

    "He is so full of himself." Kael said.

    "If he heard that he would send his underlings to end you."

    "Who are you calling underling?" A voice sounded behind them.

    Turning his head Kael frowned. "What are you doing here Levy?"

    "I asked first, who are you calling underling?" he said, lowering his tone.

    "We didn't call you anything. You assumed that yourself." Nar said, strongly.

    Levy scrunched his face, tightening his arms, steaming with anger.

    Damn. Kael thought. He sure has a short temper.

    "So, Levy. Why are you back here?" Kael asked.

    That seemed to take his mind off Nar for a moment. "I didn't get a beast." He said, smiling proudly.

    "I don't think that is something to be happy about." Nar said.

    "Well, unlike you little squirt. I don't strive to be a tamer. I will be a fighter. The best one. I will reach the first mending and prove that fighters are better than tamers." He said, standing tall and flexing his arms.

    "If I were a brute like you, I would have made the same choice." Kael said. Crap. He thought. Did I just say that out loud?

    Before Levy could get angry, a commotion sounded from inside.

    "How did you catch this, boy!" a raspy voice said. "Amazing. This beast is not a cub anymore. You shouldn't have been able to catch this..."

    A disciple closed the door, blocking the sound off, but it was too late. Everyone had heard it.

    "That was to be expected, he is the best of the lot." Levy said loudly.

    “Shup up Levy. We all know he got help from you.” Nar said. “That is nothing to be proud of.”

    Kael looked at Nar. Why is he confronting him repeatedly? He wondered. This is not like him. Usually, I would be the one causing trouble.

    Levy raised his fist, but before he could punch Nar one of the guards appeared and grabbed his fist.

    “If anyone fights they will be immediately taken out of the premises. It will also result in a failed exam and expulsion of the sect.” the guard said with a powerful voice.

    That made Levy cringe back and return to the front.

    Kael stared in shock. The guard had moved fast, too fast. Having him so close, he finally saw his shoulder plate. Five slashes. A man at the fifth fracture.

    Why would an elite fighter be a guard here? Kael asked himself. It shouldn’t be like that.

    The man paced back confidently, armor clinging and boots resounding through the whole room and took his watchful position once again.

    Brin came out shortly after, proud of his achievement and probably expecting the crowd to praise him. However, he was disappointed. The kids stayed quiet, scared to even breathe loudly. Brin looked at Levy for an explanation, but he just lowered his head and tried to hide within the crowd. Angry, Brin stomped his way—cage in tow—through the kids. He stopped in front of Kael and said something, but he was too shocked by the level of the guard to listen to his words. Fuming, Brin left the building.
     
  11. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Ten

    Kael was tired, dirty and his leg throbbed with pain again. It had been hours since they arrived at the material palace but there was still four of them left.

    The disciple called out once again. Please call me, he thought, I can’t stand anymore. He would have sat like a few kids did in the beginning, but the disciple would skip anyone sitting and pick the next person. Kael had noticed him smile discreetly at the confused and frowning faces. It seemed he found it fun messing with people. Unfortunately, he picked the short kid without a beast. He approached quietly, but fast. There was a slight displeasure in the disciple’s eye.

    Damn it. Kael thought, did he really like making them suffer? The disciple had actually been leisurely doing his job causing those who entered to occasionally get yelled at by the elder for making him wait. I should report him…

    He closed his eyes and shifted most weight onto his left leg; that seemed to help ease the pain. The guards moved, their armored boots clanged and echoed through the empty hall, alerting him for a moment. They were leaving. Kael looked around and in the distance, he saw another pair of guards coming.

    Changing shifts already. He told himself. Just how long have we been here?

    Noticing Levy standing near the door, awaiting his turn, Kael inched towards the thoughtful Nar. "I don't feel good Nar." He whispered.

    "We should have told Elder Dean." He snapped.

    "Anything but that. Help me to the room on the way back. I don't think I can make it there on my own."

    "Fine Kael." He said, sighing. "But promise me that if you still don't feel well by tomorrow, you will tell Elder Dean."

    Kael looked at Nar for a long time trying to decide. "I promise." He finally said.

    The disciple by the door called and pointed at Levy. "Your turn."

    "Finally, I thought I would have to wait here for another day." He said.

    This time, however, it didn't take long for him to return holding a small cage. A weak and scared looking brown rodent huddled into a ball—no bigger than a fist. Shifting its eyes at every movement of the cage.

    "Damn," he said, "I thought they would at least provide for a better beast, but this is just pathetic. Just like someone." He looked towards them.

    "I wouldn't have guessed that you knew yourself that well, Levy." Nar said mockingly.

    Levy fumed his face turned a deep red. He approached fast raising his fist towards Nar but stopped as he heard the guards clink their boots to warn him. Levy calmed himself down and just narrowed his eyes.

    Damn it Nar. Kael thought. Would it kill you not to tease him? Nar just wasn’t himself today for some reason.

    The disciple came out again. This time he stood watching them and finally pointed at Nar. “Your turn.”

    Nar quickly clutched his fox—sleeping after spending the afternoon being feisty—and rushed to the disciple.

    "Bastard is lucky there are guards here." Levy said, glancing at Kael. "Tell him it's not over. We will see just who’s pathetic tomorrow when I beat him." With that he stomped away.

    Kael wobbled losing his balance, but managed to steady himself. He closed his eyes, focusing on his heartbeat and breath; slowly drifting into unconsciousness.

    "Your turn." The voice interrupted his drifting.

    It was finally his turn. Kael limped forward, passing Nar on the way. He seemed a little disappointed and his eyes blank. Kael wanted to ask him what happened, but the disciple yelled again. "Hurry up. Walk faster."

    Oh, now you want to rush. Kael thought, picking up the pace. I'll ask him later.

    As he crossed the door the disciple angrily pushed him forward and closed the door. Kael fell hitting the floor hard. He struggled to stand as his right leg couldn't take any weight. Using his hands and tired left leg he finally stood.

    Just wait until I meet you again, bastard. Kael cursed. I’ll definitely report you tomorrow.

    Pacing forward slowly, Kael made his way along the narrow hallway. A few paintings embellished the hallway. The largest painting—placed on the center of the hall—caught his attention. It was a phoenix, burning bright as it perched atop the sect's central tower. Transfixed, Kael lingered his eyes on the phoenix. His soul felt drawn in to the phoenix’s eyes. They felt alive and filled with intelligence. A stream of warmness started to fill his body. Kael reached with his left hand touching the phoenix's wing.

    "Boy. I know that painting is beautiful, but to spend half an hour staring dumbly at it is too much." A voice said.

    Turning, Kael noticed an old man—white beard reaching his hip and long bushy eyebrows that merged with his mustache—standing next to him with hands clasped behind his back.

    "What? Thirty minutes have gone by?" Kael asked. Had he really spent that long staring at the painting? It seemed like it was only seconds…

    "Why would I lie boy." The man said.

    "That would mean Elder Roan is still waiting..."

    "Oh, he’s not waiting anymore"

    "What! Did he get mad and leave?"

    "He did get mad, but then he came out and noticed a kid staring at a painting."

    Kael eyed the man finally noticing his long blue robe. It was indeed Elder Roan. He bowed. "Sorry Elder." He said softly. "I was just lost in the feeling of the painting."

    "Feeling?" Roan asked.

    "Yes, the feeling of warmth. The phoenix looking back at me."

    "I'd be damned." He said. "You are the only person to feel it after your father. This is good."

    Father felt this? Kael thought.

    "I remember that day. He came to ask for some herbs from the elder, but ended up sitting in front of the painting for hours." Roan continued. "The next day he returned and sat in the same spot for three hours. He did it a total of five times—each lasted less than the previous one—before he stopped."

    "Why did he do it?"

    "When the elders asked him, he mentioned that he felt the painting held some secret and that he discovered it. The elders then tried staring at the painting for days, but no one ever felt anything.

    "Finally giving up they asked him what he learned. Your father never did say. He only claimed that if he said anything he would lose the knowledge. The elders grew angry and thought he had pranked them. In the end, he was punished for three months." Roan said, laughing. "Maybe it's destiny that you could feel it too. Or you are just pranking an old man. Like your father did."

    "Elder, I wouldn't d-"

    "Come on now let’s get you those materials for your beast and fix that leg up." He said, turning around and pacing towards the door at the end of the hall.

    "How did you know?" kale asked, stunned.

    "Boy, Dean cares for you more than you think. He told me to help you once you were called in. Also, it’s stupid to think a master at their first mending wouldn’t notice the wound."

    Kael stood dumbfounded. Dean was at his first mending? Impossible, that would make him on par with the sect leader.

    “I take it that you didn’t know about his true strength.” Roan said. “He probably doesn’t want to know as he was helped by your father with his dying breath.”

    “F-father helped him?”

    “it was the last thing your father did. I was there. He did it as a gift for their friendship and for you. He wanted to leave someone to protect and care for you.”

    Now that he thought about it. Dean always looked at him with so much care. Even today he glanced at him expectantly. I'm so stupid. Kael told himself, feeling his eyes begin to water. Dean knew about the wound, but waited for him to tell him. To trust him. Kael sighed. I'll tell him what happened and apologize when I see him.

    Roan smiled at put his hand on Kael’s shoulder. “come on boy. Let’s tend to those wounds.”

    The strong herbal smells burned Kael’s nose every time he breathed. His eyes watered and his throat hurt.

    “You’ll get used to it.” Roan said, unaffected. “Now sit and let me take a look at that leg.”

    Kael sat. Roan poked at his wounded leg causing a shock of pain. He winced at the sudden pain. Then watched Roan frown as he removed the cloth, uncovering the wound.

    “Boy, how in the heavens did you get this wound.” He said, shocked. “This is worse than I thought. How were you even standing and walking?”

    Kael stayed silent and looked at the wound. It looked worse than back at the spring. Probably because of all the standing.

    Roan rushed to his study and brought out a colorful cluster of herbs and proceeded to crush them.

    “So, are you going to tell me how you got this wound?” he asked.

    “I-I just fell.”

    “Boy,” he sighed. “Don’t lie to me. If you don’t want to tell me just say so.”

    “Sorry, Elder.” Kael said, lowering his head.

    “I must say, you did a wonderful job applying first aid to the wound.” He said, lifting his eyebrows in praise while cleaning the wounded leg of old herbs. “The choice of herbs, the ratios of the mixture and the application area all perfect. Have you ever considered training to be an Herb master?”

    “I didn’t do it. It was my friend Nar. He came in just before me.” Kael said then remembered. “That’s right. What happened? He seemed down after leaving.”

    Roan stopped applying the herbs then sighed. “That boy…he wouldn’t listen to me about that fox. He was adamant on taming it. If I knew he had this much talent in herbs I would have offered him more help. Even taking him as my apprentice wouldn’t be so bad.”

    “Something was wrong with his beast?” Kael asked.

    “Yes, that fox. Something is not right with it. Those black feathers of it aren’t normal and its personality isn’t any better. I think that boy will have a very hard time bonding with it. Could you tell him to reconsider and come see me again? I can bend a few rules if I take him as an apprentice.”

    “Sorry. I don’t think he will agree to changing beasts. Plus, I don’t think Elder Norman would allow that. He already has his eyes on making him his apprentice.”

    “What? That bastard.” Roan said loudly then sighed. “Can you still try to get him to change beasts? I’d hate to see a talent like him fail.”

    Kael stared at Roan, who seemed to give up the apprentice part at the mention of Norman, and nodded. He smiled and continued to apply the herbs. Finishing, he got a clean set of bandages and wrapped them around the wound.

    “Try walking.” He said.

    Kael got up and walked about slowly. The pain was gone and he could manage a straight gait.

    “Thanks.” He said, smiling and bowing.

    “Don’t thank me boy.” He said, laughing. “Thank Dean. He was the one who asked me to do this. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have. Now I should warn you to keep off that leg as much as you can. If possible don’t walk on it for a week.”

    “Yes. I will be sure to do that.” Kael said.

    “Now, let’s look at that beast of yours.”
     
  12. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Eleven

    Kael took out the rabbit from under his robe and handed it to Roan. He was amazed. Immediately, he began to examine its features. Opening the rabbits mouth, he looked inside—counting its teeth—and wrote down notes on a blank sheet. He continued this way for a while, taking samples of its hair and blood.

    "Where did you find this beast?" Roan asked, putting down his pen.

    "In the forest."

    "Boy don't lie. This species is not found within the forest."

    "I did find it there." Kael insisted. He didn't mention the portal or the yellow side for it would only be more difficult to explain things.

    "Could it be a mutation then?" Roan muttered. "No, there isn't any record suggesting a normal rabbit could mutate in such a drastic way…"

    He went back into his study and brought out an old golden book. It was massive. It probably has thousands of pages. Kael thought, trying to peek at the pages as Roan flipped through them. Even at the fast speed which Roan turned the pages, Kael managed to make out several drawings of beasts. Beasts he’d never seen before.

    Roan finally stopped on a page and handed the book to Kael. "Look boy, this rabbit is very similar to this species."

    The Sepir Rabbit, Kael read, is usually found in the Snow mountains of the Laros Continent. It thrives by gnawing at the ice glaciers hence its typical blue hued hair. There have been reports of a similar breed—its hair tinted red—that feeds on crystals created near lava. They are located deep within the Laros Mountain Range. It is believed these two species have a common ancestor...

    The book continued on and on about their similarities. Kael's eyes finally read the last part. The Sepir Rabbit and its cousin, Sepira Rabbit, are very docile and weak creatures; there unusual color made them a commodity and usually, made into pets for kids. There was one recorded case of a tamer obsessed with the sepir species. He even forced a Sepir Rabbit to reach its second fracture. This specimen, however, was selectively bred and fed multitudes of precious herbs over the course of three years; it died shortly after from explosion as its body could not properly maintain the amount of energy. Concluding that this beast is unsuitable for taming or training.

    The final words caused Kael to frown. It's not a strong beast? He thought. Then why did it come from a portal? How is it still alive? Kael didn't want to believe that he had placed his life in danger for a useless rabbit. It just couldn't be real.

    "It is unfortunate." Roan said. "But I can provide you with a different beast to tame."

    It sounded tempting. Kael looked at the sleeping rabbit on the table. He sighed, giving it one last glance. Well, I guess that was that. He told himself.

    "Elder I wish t-"

    A light flickered from the rabbit's scar. Shocked Kael went closer to it. It flickered again then dimmed. That wasn't normal. He smiled.

    "Elder I wish to keep it." He said. "I will tame and train it."

    Roan shrugged. "It's your choice boy. However, there won't a reissue of materials or a change in beast provided. So, you only get this one chance to change your mind. Make a wise choice."

    Kael shook his head. "No, I want this one."

    "Alright.” He sighed. “Give me a moment."

    Roan went back into his study a light flashed several times followed by a high pitched rhythmic humming. He then came back out holding a bag and handed it to Kael.

    "These are the exact materials needed to create and activate the contract circle. Do you need me to explain which one to use?"

    Kael shook his head as he took the bag. It was heavy. He opened it and look inside. A red bottle, a blue stone and several herbs were contained inside. The standard materials for a contract circle.

    "Elder, how is this tailored for rabbit species?" Kael asked. He had read that each species needed a special item acting as a catalyst for the species, but in his bag, there was none.

    "Oh, that is right. You wouldn't know. The Sepir is one of the few exceptions to that rule. Tamers still don't know exactly why, but only the three basic materials are needed to form a successful pact."

    Nodding, kael brought out his journal and made some notes on the last empty space. Roan smiled as he watched him.

    "Elder," Kael said, looking at the massive book. “May I come and study from this book."

    "I'm afraid I can't let you do that." He said, sighing. "The only reason I let you read part of it was because it was related to the beast you brought. Otherwise, you would have to have the status of an elder to be able to study from it." He said and closed the book.

    Kael frown, his gaze lingering on the book like it was a treasure. "Well, can I at least come and look at the painting?"

    "That old thing? Sure, knock yourself out boy. Just don't block the hall or try to sneak further in."

    "Thanks elder." Kael said happily. "I'll come by tomorrow to study it."

    He grabbed the rabbit—placing it inside his robe—and bag. He gave a small bow and turned to head out.

    “Wait. I almost forgot.” Roan said, reaching into his robe. “Here is the key for the room you will be staying in for the duration of the binding process.”

    Kael took the small iron key. Feeling its cool surface and simple shape. “Thanks elder.” He said, bowing and leaving.

    His footsteps echoed in the narrow dimly lit hall. He unconsciously tightened his fists. The hall seemed lifeless. Even the painting didn’t give off any type of feeling. He gave it one last look before promising to come tomorrow and continued on his way.

    The disciple was gone from his post. Only the two guards stood—watching over him as he left the building.

    It was dark. The moon was high up and only several lamps illuminated the lonely night. Kael stretched himself and looked around for Nar. After a short while, however, he found out that Nar had not waited for him.

    It’s not like him. Kael thought. Nar never breaks his word.

    He wondered if it had something to do with the disappointed look he had when he passed him or the fact that he had taken well over one hour to get out. He sighed and walked. I’ll ask him tomorrow.

    Suddenly, he spotted a figure in the distance. Shining bright red under a faint lamp. Dean.

    Taking a deep breath Kael approached.

    "Sometimes I wonder if you hate me, Kael." Dean said, looking up at the stars.

    Kael trembled. "I don't." He said his voice shivering.

    Dean looked at him. "But you don't trust me. If you did you would have told me about your leg."

    "It's not that..."

    "Than what is it Kael?"

    "I thought you would get mad at me."

    "Of course, I would." He said as he kneeled down "but only at first. I would have helped you. It hurt me that you didn't tell me you were wounded."

    Kael looked down. "I'm sorry, Dean."

    "Promise me if something like this ever happens you will tell me." He said. "You are the last thing your father entrusted me with, before he passed. I can't fail him. Not again."

    "I promise." Kael said, hugging him. "I promise to tell you whatever happens." Tears ran down his face as he held onto Dean.

    A short while later he finally let go. Dean seemed different. He no longer looked stupid in those bright red robes.

    “Well, I must be leaving.” Dean said, standing. “I need to rest for tomorrow.”

    “Dean, can I have Leggy back now?”

    “You can’t.” he sighed. “Not until after the aptitude test. You need to focus on one beast.”

    “I can manage two. I ca-“

    “Stop Kael. It’s the rules.” He said firmly. “plus even if I give her back to you, you wouldn’t be able to interact with her.”

    “What! Did something happen to her?”

    “Nothing bad. She just formed a cocoon around herself and is sleeping. I asked Roan and he said she is probably undergoing a maturation process.”

    Maturation? Kael wondered. Is that why she had been sleepy and curling into a ball so often?

    “I understand. Dean.”

    “Don’t worry, you will get her back. It’s only thirty days.” Road said, patting his head. “Now go to your assigned room and rest.”

    With that he headed off into the darkness leaving Kael alone.


    ##


    Kael used his key and opened the door to his new room. It was plain. A wooden room large enough for one person. Only a small bed, a cage and a desk furnished the room. He sighed. Compared to his room, this was empty. He set his things aside, placed the rabbit in the small cage in the room and laid on the bed and tried to sleep, but his mind kept returning to the rabbit. His eagerness got the better of him and he read from his journal.

    Reading the steps to create the circle and memorizing the actual circle, tracing the lines with his index finger. After many times, he finally opened the bottle with the red paste. It was gooey and viscous, but Kael ignored it and drew the circle on the floor. Next, he carefully placed the herbs in their position, they would provide additional energy and reinforce the bond once it was complete. Stepping back, he looked at his work and smiled as he compared it to his notes. Not a single mistake in sight.

    Kael set the rabbit in the center of the contract circle and stepped back. He was nervous. It was the first time he would actually try to bind something. Doubt bubbled in his mind. What if he couldn't do it? What if he had no aptitude for taming?

    Get a grip of yourself Kael. He told himself. You can do this. It’s just like you read and practiced a thousand times.

    The sect made every beginner train their qi control daily. they would be given a ball with many patterns engraved in it. The task would be to light up the patterns in a certain way, with qi of course. It was hard. One had to have extreme control over his qi to do it. It would have been simpler if they were at their first fracture, but the sect prevented any disciples from cracking and expanding their core before they went through a test. Something to do with discovering which path was the correct one to follow and that it would be more effective to fracture your core once you had great qi control. They even set a rule that if anyone fractured before the elders deemed it time to do it, they would be expelled; it had happened to one kid about six months ago.

    Kael shook his head and focused. He grabbed the blue Link stone in his right hand. He took a deep breath and placed it on the edge of the circle. Can I really do it? He asked himself. Maybe I should practice a bit more.

    A second voice trailed in his mind. Kael, you can do anything if you try hard enough. His father’s voice. Just believe in yourself. He gave his father’s journal a quick glanced then smiled. Refocusing his mind, he controlled the energy in the stone. It glowed blue.

    The binding had begun.
     
  13. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Twelve
    Darkness.

    It was all Eztli could see. He drifted for what seemed like an eternity with only his own mind as company. What had happened? Was he inside the body and was just adapting to it? Or worse. Was he dead? The questions kept on repeating themselves over and over until there was only one left. Am I dead? He thought, springing up more questions. Did the experiment fail? It wasn’t possible. He had been sure of that. All the experimental trials had succeeded—after the first few hundred—and his mastery over the soul was near perfect. There was just no way it could have failed.

    As he continued in deep thought the world of darkness lit up-faintly, but it lit up. The source was him. To be more exact his soul. Finally, Eztli yelled to himself. Something I can grasp. Having sense his soul meant he was alive. He focused on his Soul Energy—trying to manipulate it. After several tries he had full control over it. He sensed the darkness and to his surprise he was trapped a strange barrier surrounded him and prevented leakage. He examined it for a long time, but found no symbols or runes anywhere on it.

    Just what the fuck is this barrier? Eztli wondered. No runes meant nothing supported the barrier. Yet, as he tried to sense past it, he was rejected. This is not possible. It broke everything Eztli knew about formations. It seemed to perfect; too natural.

    Shaping his Soul Energy into a drill he tried attacking the barrier again, but only the tiniest sliver passed through the barrier. Not enough to sense the outside world. Increasing the amount of energy, Eztli formed another drill and shot it. This time, a sliver managed to pass through, but as if the barrier was alive and strengthened—rejecting him. Any tries thereafter were utter failures. The barrier had become stronger.

    Eztli was now stuck waiting. He sighed. This is not how it was supposed to be. He thought, then started meditating.

    A while later a strange blue energy broke through the barrier, disrupting him. Before he could try to examine the outside the barrier closed—forming a perfect tunnel for the blue energy.

    What’s going on. He thought, wary of the energy. It was weak, but it managed to break through a barrier that even he couldn’t. The flow of energy intensified and formed a huge sphere in front of Eztli.

    Cautiously, Eztli took a strand of his soul and probed it. The soul pierced through the sphere—going inside—but never returned. Fuck. Eztli curse. As if on cue, the energy sphere burst and engulfed him.

    Trapped inside the blue energy, Eztli shrank his soul as much as possible. He didn’t want to touch it, lest it swallowed his soul. A few seconds later the energy transformed. Slowly, runes formed and shaped the energy into…shackles. They approached Eztli.

    Once the runes formed, Eztli finally knew what the energy was. It was a binding. I can’t believe this. He laughed at himself. I was scared of such a weak binding. He focused, and recalled the energy he probed it with before. Immediately, one shackle shattered. Turning the soul strand around he attacked the other shackles. The strand passed through all of them in an instant, even breaking the main rune.

    Who would have the audacity to try and bind me? He thought. And with such a low-class binding at that. Rhett and Wes should be guarding him. Unless it was a prank by them Eztli saw no other explanation for the barrier and the binding.

    "What the-" a voice rang through the mending hole in the barrier.

    Fuck, he cursed. What was that? It was a voice he never heard before. It worried him. what was going on outside? And with him? Suddenly, a small pulsating light appeared near him. It became brighter the more he focused on it. He concentrated on it until it burst. The particles floated chaotically in dark space then slowly rearranged into a figure. Rhett.

    Not the usual happy Rhett, but an oddly bent and withered Rhett. The image even struggled to stand. Its twisted limbs looked barely enough to support his weight—if it had any. Eztli knew what it was; it was a Soul Message. A Soul Message could be placed inside things like weapons, artifacts even people. As they were weightless and ethereal. They could even be made to only open after a set amount of time or until certain conditions were met. But one thing remained certain, the image formed by the message always maintained the appearance person had the moment they recorded it.

    What happened to you Rhett? Eztli asked the image, looking at his sunken eyes knowing it was a one-way message and he couldn't truly ask anything. He could only listen.

    “Master I have failed you.” Rhett said. “I was unable to complete the transfer in time. Wes...he betrayed you.”

    Eztli's eyes went wide, filled with shock. No…that can't be true. This has to be a prank. The twisted image of Rhett clearly refuted that as he couldn’t have hurt himself in such a severe manner for a prank. But Eztli chose to ignore that.

    “He tried to lure me to his side with lies. Saying that you were a shell of what you once were. That your reign was over and that it was time for a new Blood Emperor. He wanted the immortal body for himself.”

    Eztli struggled to take it in. I changed? He wondered. His soul shook and changed color as uncertainty filled him. No, I’m still the same as I always was. The darkness turned blood red as he thought of the betrayal.

    “Master, Wes has surpassed your arts. He took control of the Blood Guards. That is how he managed to break the lab barrier and surround me.”

    No, no no. When and how did he do that? Eztli knew was a genius but to even think that he could surpass him and betray him. He laughed at his foolishness. I should have seen it coming. Wes had been acting strange. He showed more interest in the immortal body and asked questions. Eztli was blinded by his pride in him and took it as Wes trying to help him succeed. He looked at Rhett's image and his soul trembled.

    “I managed to escape him master. There was a particle wide crack in the void stones. Using my life force, I managed to teleport to safety. That is why I look like this, but I saved you.” Rhett smiled happily.

    That smile broke Eztli. Even though all that Rhett still cared for him. He approached the distorted image, rubbing Rhett's hair. You did all that for this old man...

    “Unfortunately, I couldn't find another vessel in time so I had to place you inside the Sepir Rabbit.”

    That last bit stunned Eztli’s soul, almost shattering. He looked up at the barrier. Being placed in a non-human body would have caused the soul to be rejected. He thought. That would explain the perfect barrier. I would need to change my soul in order to adapt to the body…

    “Master.” Rhett said, breaking his thought process. “I'm dying, but at least with my death Wes won't get your immortal body. You are safe from him as I also managed to throw you into a spatial rift.” The image began fading. “Master thanks for all those years of happiness you gave me. They were the best. I don’t know where you will end up master, but I hope you can live a long life and figure a way to escape your current vessel.”

    The image dispersed into particles. There was no way Rhett died. Eztli thought, his gaze lingering with care on the fading light. He must have survived. Wes would have saved him. If he wanted the body. He stared at the emptiness. Thanks for this chance Rhett…I will make full use of it.

    Changing his state of mind, he focused his soul on examining the barrier. Finally, grasping a bit of information, he molded his soul to fit the configured body. It helped that Rhett had mentioned he placed him in the Sepir Rabbit. It didn’t take long until his soul escaped the barriers hold, entering the body. Carefully, Eztli continued to merge with his new body until he was more or less in control. It was still in an early stage and if he actively focused his mind the speed of merging would increase, but that was far from ideal. He needed to know where he was.

    Opening his eyes, he saw the contract circle underneath him. This isn't right. He thought studying it. No. This is definitely not right. The contract circle was formulated for a beast. He was human. Even though Rhett had told him everything; Even, after he adapted his soul to fit a Sepir Rabbit’s body; he still had the slight hope that everything was not real.

    He looked down, taking a look at his body and that hope began to shatter. No! He yelled inside. No. This can't be happening. I should be in my immortal body. Be reigning over my empire. Not this.

    He closed his eyes convincing himself that it wasn't real. It's just a hallucination, a side effect of the soul transfer. He repeated in his mind. When it's complete I will wake up in my new, young body. He closed his eyes, picturing himself awakening, but it was all for naught. His hope finally shattered and reality sunk in.

    He was inside a rabbit.

    He was not immortal.

    Despair and grief filled him to the core. All those years wasted. He cried to himself. All the struggle. All the plans I had for the future. Everything is gone. No…it was taken. The grief turned to anger. Damn it Wes. You will pay for this. I will get revenge. Just wait. I will rise again and end your little farce at playing emperor. I will show you just how wrong you were. I am the only Blood Emperor. His eyes burned with fury and coldness.

    Eztli urged his new body to stand. He needed to start raising his strength for he had much to do. Fumbling forward he stepped out of the contract circle's boundary. A few steps ahead lay an unconscious boy. The voice I heard earlier. Eztli thought. The one who tried to bind me.

    The boy wore muddied blue robes. His red hair dulled by mud. He looked like a beggar. Well I should at least be able to extract some information from him. He approached the boy and placed a paw onto his forehead. Closing his eyes, he started his Binding Blood Art.

    Nothing happened.

    He tried again, but the result was the same. This body never trained in qi. The realization kicked in. I don’t have any of my arts. No strength. He cursed his fate once more. Even if he had been transferred into a beast. It had to be one with no qi. He sighed. Well, looking at it in a positive way. I have a blank slate and knowledge I didn’t have before. Meaning I could increase my strength, until I can find a suitable replacement. The plan began formulating in his head. For now, I could try and use my Soul Energy to sense something from the boy’s soul.

    Placing his paw on the boy’s forehead once more he will his Soul energy into him. The boy shot awake and stared at him. Damn it. Eztli cursed. He woke up.


    ##


    Kael rubbed his throbbing head. Something had gone wrong with the binding and he suffered heavy backlash. He staggered to a stand and fixed his eyes on the contract circle. The rabbit was gone.

    Quickly, he glanced all around the small room. He finally spotted the rabbit by the door, trying to escape. Kael lunged at it, but the rabbit managed to hop away sluggishly. It struggled to stand and then plumped down on the floor.

    Carefully, Kael picked it up and placed it inside the small cage. He went to his journal and went over the notes again.

    “What happened?” he mumbled to himself. “Why did it fail?” He retraced the circle—line by line—and checked the position of the herbs. It was perfect, but somehow still failed.

    “Did I make a mistake in controlling the energy?” he asked himself, grasping the Link Stone in his hand.

    He practiced controlling the energy inside as he was thought. The energy seeped out the stone forming a pattern in the air. A short while later it was complete, but as there was no circle the energy went back into the stone. Kael didn’t make a make a mistake in his practice, so he convinced himself that his eagerness probably caused him to lose control when performing the real binding.

    Kael glanced at the cage, the rabbit seemed to stare back at him. “Well, I will just have to try until I get it right.” Kael said, smiling. “No matter how many times I fail.”
     
  14. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Thirteen

    The room was a mess.

    The boy sunk once again unconscious. Eztli was getting tired and frustrated of the process, yet somehow still found the situation funny.

    He was the ruler of the world and now here he was, sitting in a metal cage screaming at a boy throughout the night. Cursing him. Wishing him dead. At one point in the night Eztli grew tired of all that and started giving the boy pointers. Explaining how to counter his own attack and prevent the binding process from failing—not that the boy understood any of it. After all, he was a rabbit now—an angry one.

    He could imagine how nonsensical it would have looked if he waved his fist, or rather paw, in the air. He would have loved to see the kid's confused face. It would at least take his mind away from the betrayal, anger and sadness he currently felt. Unfortunately, that was impossible. His soul was still adapting to his new body structure. He could move, but was limited to simple and slow movements.

    Eztli gave up squeaking and shrieking as his throat hurt and he had grown very tired. His body refused to listen to him any longer and his eyelids felt like they weight a ton. Probably caused by his soul changing. However, he forced himself awake and sat in the cage, trying to make his eyes look evil as he stared at the boy.

    He's waking up again. Eztli thought, sighing. I hope he stops. The boy had kept this going all night. Every time he failed the backlash caused him to pass out, but as soon as he awoke he tried again. it was getting to him. He barely fought him off last time; he was losing his soul energy too fast. He needed rest. Bah! Who I'm I kidding he will probably do it again. He's persistent. I could give him that.

    "Just what am I doing wrong." The boy said, rubbing the back of his neck. He studied a journal for some time and then moved his cage, analyzing the circle. "Everything is perfect. And I almost succeeded this last time. So why isn't the link being established? Why?"

    It is perfect and the link is getting stablished. I'm just breaking it before it completes. Eztli mocked, giving a faint squeak, trying to stay awake.

    The boy turned his head making eye contact with him. "What are you? The fact that this circle is not working means that you are probably not a rabbit, but something else. Maybe what Roan said about mutation…could that caused the normal contract circle to be unsuccessful?"

    Finally! Eztli said. Will you stop trying already kid? I’m not a stupid rabbit. This circle will never bind me.

    "Ok. Let's try it one last time. If it doesn't work I'll have to go research in the library. There has to be some sort of records about strange mutations…” the boy said, gabbing the link stone again and pumping himself up. “I can't fail this test. I can’t let dad down."

    Heavens kid! Just stop. Eztli bellowed, his throat hurting again.

    The kid placed the cage back inside the circle and sat back. Grasping the link stone he pressed it against the outer layer and controlled the energy within the stone through the patterns.

    Perfect execution. Eztli couldn’t help but praise. The kid had talent. Seeing him perform the ritual countless perfect times urged Eztli to just let the boy bind him. Then at least they would be able to communicate, but his pride wouldn't let him—the Blood Emperor—be bound to anybody. He ruled over the world and was at the peak of binding, not even needing a link stone or contract circle; just his Blood Arts. Former peak. He reminded himself. Wes has risen beyond you.

    He sighed, feeling the shackles around him, he once again broke them. The boy gave a grunt and flopped to the ground like a rag doll, unconscious.


    ##


    Kael's head ached as he swam in the darkness.

    Failed once again, he thought. Slowly he regained his senses—one by one—beginning with hearing, ending with touch.

    Opening his eyes, Kael glanced at the rabbit. He sat there staring at him as if he was intelligent. Sometimes during the night, he had felt that it was somehow mocking him. At others, he felt that it was sad, angry and annoyed. But that wasn't possible. No one could feel what a beast thought if there was no link. Not without a complete link. He rubbed his temples. Maybe all this fainting, he thought, is causing me to imagine things.

    He held the link stone in his palm. It still held energy. Kael had read about how link stones would remain filled until the contract is complete no matter how many times it was used. Something to do with the stones properties that sucked the energy back inside if a strand was left unbound. At least I figured it is really true. He thought, sighing.

    Standing up, Kael left the stone on the desk. He opened the door and stopped to look back. I could have sworn I heard a voice right now... He muttered under his breath. He shook his head and closed the door.


    ##


    Damn! I thought he would never leave. Eztli said, watching the boy go towards the door, but awkwardly he stopped and looked back. No don’t come back. Just leave. Fortunately the boy just shook his head and left. Eztli sighed in relieve. Now I can escape.

    He closed his eyes focusing on his mind space—an inward world created when one reached a high level in cultivation. It would expand the more you understood about your soul. Eztli’s was the size of a whole world. Now, however, it was reduced to the size of a small house. He sighed at the extreme changes. All because of my soul needing to adapt. He thought and began examining the small glowing light in the center—his soul. It had shifted its form to that of a fuzzy rabbit—giving off dark red light. The merging was almost complete, meaning that he would regain full control and finally be able to gather qi.

    A sudden shock passed through him giving him a slight boost of energy. Washing the previous tiredness away. Finally! He thought, opening his eyes. It feels like I am in control again. I wonder how strong this rabbit really is.

    He willed his mind to move qi. Nothing happened. He did not feel anything. There really is not a strand of qi inside. He thought. Well, I’ll just have to gather some.

    Eztli relaxed his body, steadied his breathing and focus his mind on absorbing some qi from the atmosphere. Particles of light became visible. They danced chaotically in the air, swirling about. Their colors colliding and merging.

    Focusing on a few of them, he willed them to merge into a strand. The ribbon of light kept growing as it swallowed the nearby qi particles. Reaching a comfortable size, Eztli finally guided it into his body.

    It went inside—passing through his vessels—but his body rejected it and pushed it out. Unbearable pain coursed through Eztli and he convulsed slightly. What the hell was that? He wondered and tried again. This time he used his soul to hold the qi in forcefully. The pain was greater this time. His whole body convulsed and contorted, but Eztli still held on to the strand. It wasn’t until his body expanded to twice its size that Eztli finally released the qi.

    Any longer and I would have exploded. He thought, trembling as his body collapsed. He was exhausted. Why can’t I gather qi? Despair stabbed his heart. It was over. No qi meant no Blood Arts. No strong body. No revenge.

    Fuck! He cursed. Just when I was thinking I had a chance to return. My body can't handle qi. It’s like those people who change arts. That sparked his muddled mind. Wait. Damn it. Of course! He had been trying to cultivate as if he was in his previous body. As if he was at the peak again. That was his mistake. This body hasn't even refined its blood so of course the Blood Art Cultivation won't work.

    Quickly, he recalled the early parts of his Blood Art. He had been too eager and blinded by his lack of power that he almost caused his own death. It would have been a laughable end. He just needed to be patient and refine this body before gathering qi. He smiled.

    I will rise again.
     
  15. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Fourteen

    Fog lingered in the shadows hiding from the rising sun as Kael paced through the maze of wooden shacks. His room was located on the far south end of the circular area. Away from the other buildings. It was as even fate tried to separate him from the other kids. He sighed and picked up his pace. The library was located on the north end and the fastest way to get there was to head straight.

    Soon, the sound of rhythmic grunting and screaming flowed into his ears. Curious, he followed the sounds into an open area—the training ground.

    Kids ran and bellowed out commands to their beasts. Kael was amazed that they were out this early in the morning. He wanted to rush forward and join them. He longed to be part of the group. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the opportunity to do so. Not until he took care of his problem.

    Sighing, he forced himself to walk to the library. The faster I get this done, he thought, the faster I get to be out there. His gaze landed on the crowd of sweaty and dirty kids. Suddenly, a chilling laugh resounded through the area causing a shiver to run down Kael’s spine. He knew that laugh too well. It was Elder Sal’s.

    Taking a quick glance, Kael noticed Brin standing amid the center his wolf at his side. Unlike yesterday, he wore grey robes—that accentuated his skeletal face and made his hair seem like a shining sun—making him seem evil. Shocked, Kael continued to look for Sal, but he was nowhere. Then Brin laughed.

    It was the same eerie dark laugh he heard before. Surprise filled Kael’s face then quickly faded. Brin looked and sounded more like his father. The change was too drastic. In only one day he changed his demeanor completely. It wasn’t normal.

    Then Kael noticed Brin’s beast. It looked at least one time larger than yesterday, more vicious too. Its snout snarled and foamed as it stayed in an attacking posture. Unconsciously, Kael tensed his body. His mind merged the image of the wolf that attacked him the day before. How did he get it so big? Kael thought, still stunned.

    “Mutt get back here now.” Brin commanded his wolf.

    Amazingly, as soon as the wolf heard his voice it shook slightly and immediately took a docile and submissive posture. With its head lowered it went back to his side. What did he do to have him so under control? Kael wondered, but at the same time he felt something was off with the wolf. It changed too much for just one day.

    “Hey if you want to stare, why don’t you take a closer look.” A voice said from behind him and grasped his arm. A familiar strong grasp. Levy. “Brin, look what I caught.”

    Why now. Kael told himself as he tried to rip free, but it was useless. Soon, Brin stood in front of him and Kael only resign to whatever was to come.

    “Why so dirty, Kael?” Brin asked. “I though you would at least have the decency to shower.”

    Kael felt his cheeks flush and grew embarrassed as he glanced down. He still wore his muddied robes from yesterday. He had been so focused on binding the beast he had forgotten to change.

    “I was training.” He lied, gazing to the side.

    “Oh really? I don’t see your beast anywhere.”

    “I trained near my room.”

    “He’s probably ashamed of his mediocre rabbit.” Levy said, laughing.

    “Be quiet, Levy.” Brin said firmly as he looked at Kael. “How about a sparring match Kael? I’m sure it would be fun. Or is what Levy said true?”

    “No. My beast is better than yours.” I can’t even bind it yet. “But I need to take care of somethings at the moment.” Kael said.

    “don’t cower away. I’ll even give you a chance to attack my beast for three full minutes without fighting back.” Brin said mockingly.

    That attracted the crowd of kids to surround them. All stared with eager eyes. Damn. He told himself. Don’t let yourself get dragged into the fight Kael.

    “Sorry, but I really do have something important to take care of.” Kael said.

    “Brin, he is probably a scared again. It’s not surprising he is just like his father. A coward.”

    My father a coward? He thought. It was the first time he openly heard someone insult his father. Anger raged inside him.

    “My father was no coward. He was a genius and strong.”

    “But he’s dead and his son is a weakling.” Levy said.

    Tightening his fist, Kael threw a punch at Levy. The force threw Levy back and even a tooth fell out of his mouth.

    “You will not insult my father.”

    Brin clapped. “That was beautiful Kael. I was about to punch him myself.” He said, glancing at Levy. “He was stepping out of his place.”

    It’s all your fault. He thought staring at Brin. You’re the one always trying to mock me. Not anymore. He’d had it with all this stupid bickering. He was going to end it once and for all.

    “I will fight you, but it will be later tonight, but no beasts. I just need to punch you just like I did to your rat.” He said, pointing at Levy then turned towards the crowd of shocked kids. “Also, I invite everyone here to come watch as I beat his face.”

    Rage steamed out of Brin’s eyes. He probably didn’t expect this. Hell, even I didn’t expect this from me. Kael thought, smiling. But this is good. Now, hopefully he’ll leave me alone.

    “Alright Kael. A fight with no beasts.” he said with a hoarse voice. “But you’ll be the one on the ground not me.”

    “We’ll see about that.” Kael said and walked off.



    Kael’s fist was burning with pain. He massaged it hoping that nothing was broken. Thinking back at what he did and how he set up a fight shocked him. He also regretted it. He was no fighter. In fact, today was the first time he actually punched someone. At it had been a surprise one. In a real fight, he doubted he would even last through one punch.

    He sighed. Well, I’ll just go and try my best. He told himself. It was the only thing left to do. For now, I’ll just distract myself.

    In the distance, a familiar welcoming sight appeared and he picked up the pace. The library's door was locked. Kael was confused. It was the first time he saw the door lock. He knocked. Shortly, Dean, off all people, opened the door. Today he wore a bright yellow robe decorated with formation circles. The sleeves were short revealing his toned arms, sometimes Kael forgot that Dean trained every morning. He had even suggested to train him multiple times—something that would have helped him in his current situation—but Kael had refused every time.

    "Why are you still wearing that, Kael?" Dean asked, giving him an odd look.

    "Some things came up so I didn't have the time to change.” Kael said, sighing. “Can I go inside?"

    "I'm inspecting the formation circle on the library," he said. “I’m afraid no one other than me is allowed inside at the moment."

    What stupid luck. Kael thought.

    First, he was mocked and inadvertently ended up setting a match with Brin; one that would end up with him hurting all over—if he even chose to attend. And now, of all days, the library had to be closed for inspection. The formation monitored the library and prevented any book from being taken out. If someone tried to, a blinding light would push the book back and knock the person out. An alarm would also notify the Elder in charge. It would be lucky if one escaped punishment.

    "Is there any way I can still go in, Dean?" he asked, a worried look on his face. "It's really important that I do."

    Dean looked at him for a moment then sighed. "What's wrong."

    Kael debated internally for a moment. Should he tell him? It was embarrassing. He couldn't complete his contract. Should he lie? No that be right. Just last night he had agreed to trust in him.

    "I couldn't contract my beast..." he whispered.

    "Really?" he asked shocked.

    "I think I memorized the circle wrong. So, I came to check."

    Dean stayed silent, hand rubbing his beard. "I can let you in," he continued. "On the condition that you sit in one place and let me bring you the book."

    "Thanks Dean." Kael said, smiling.

    Shortly after he was sitting in the front of the library with book in front of him. Dean went back to work immediately, but not before warning him.

    "Remember, you are not to move from here. I have already inspected this part. Any other place will trigger the alarm and warn the elders. If that happens both you and I will be in trouble." He said, looking at Kael. "I trust you, Kael. Please don't make me regret this."

    He shook his head. "Thank you so much. I'll let you know when I am done."

    With that Dean nodded and went back to work as did Kael. He flipped through the book stopping on the rabbit species contract circle. He then took out his own journal—to the drawing he had copied—and searched for any flaws.

    It was a perfect replica. He searched again, but there was nothing wrong.

    That's not possible. Was it the materials that were wrong? He thought. Or is it really a mutation?

    He read through the materials, but nothing seemed off. It only required the basic materials. Worry sunk in. Would he be able to find out why? He crazily flipped the book looking for anything on rabbits. Surely there had to be something that explained his failures.

    You're just not good at this Kael. A voice ran in his head. You are not a tamer. You can't even contract a beast. You won't live up to you father.

    "No!" he screamed, slamming the book on the table. "That's not possible!"

    It couldn't be true. Was he really not meant to be a tamer?
    You have Leggy. He thought, but the voice retorted. She is not yours. You didn't bind her.

    "Shut up!"

    "What's wrong Kael?" Dean asked, rushing to him.

    Tears streamed down Kael's face and he hugged Dean. "I can't bind it. I did everything right I just can't bind it."

    "It's ok tell me what happened." He said, smiling and patting his head.

    The smile soothed Kael and he told him what happened last night and all the times he tried forming the contract.

    Dean's face was shocked. "Are you sure that is what you felt?"

    "Yes, every time I tried to bind it I felt the connection form, but suddenly it would break." Kael said. " Is it a mutation Dean? Or I am useless. Will I never be able to tame?"

    "Don't get ahead of yourself, Kael." He said. "Let's do this. We will take this book and I will go with you and oversee your binding. If you make any mistakes I'll be able to tell you what you did wrong. And if you did everything right I might be able to spot if it really is a mutation."

    "Really? Is it ok for you to leave while working?"

    "I was done and hour ago." He said, a small laugh escaping him. "I was just hanging around here. Taking a nap."

    Kael laughed falling to the floor, clutching his stomach. That was the Dean he knew. The Dean that cheered him up. Just like he did when his father died.

    "I'm glad you are in a better mood. Now grab the book so we can leave."

    Kael approached the table and was about to grab the book, but then it hit him.

    "Wait," he said. "I thought books couldn't be taken out of the library?"

    "You can't," he said, grinning. "But I have a few tricks to get around that."

    Kael was dumbfounded. Dean breaking a rule? That was like the heavens shattering. Impossible.

    Those eyes, Kael thought. He isn't lying. He would go this far for me. Now that I think about it the nap thing was probably just him trying to cheer me up.

    Kael smiled. Then he got a wicked idea.

    "Dean could I also bring out another book?"

    "What? No way."

    "But we are already taking one book,” He insisted. “One more wouldn't hurt."

    Dean sighed. "Alright as long as it's not an important book."

    Kael jumped and skipped through the library, his mind searching what book to take.

    Shortly after he return with one—the cover was blue littered with black figures of different beasts, cites and a mountain. Anthology of Legends and Myths. The book his father used to read from all the time. The one he used to tell him stories. Kael clutched the book closer as if he was holding a precious treasure.

    "Is this one ok?"

    Dean said nothing, but Kael swore he saw a smile and his eyes water as he turned and walked out the library.
     
  16. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Fifteen

    The rabbit was sleeping in its cage. Kael sighed in relieve. For some reason, he had felt that it would try to escape when he left, but his worries for naught.

    He noticed the mess in the room and glanced at Dean. Kael flushed from embarrassment, but Dean did not make any comments. He just snaked across the sea of objects and sat down elegantly on the bed—fixing his robe and taking out the book. He opened it to the page with the rabbit circle and glanced at him, expecting something.

    That's right. Kael realized, looking at the cage covering the circle. He probably wants to check the circle.

    He went quietly to the cage and lifted it carefully—he didn't want the rabbit to wake and start its infernal shrieking again—moving it to the side to expose the red circle.

    Dean compared the circles for a few minutes, meticulously going over every inch. "Well, the it's not the circle. You drew an exact replica." He said. "Can you try binding it, now? Perhaps your control is a bit off."

    Kael nodded placing the cage back on the circle softly and looking for the Link Stone.

    Where is it? I thought I left it on the desk. He thought.

    Searching for the stone among the mess he grew frustrated. Then, Dean tapped his shoulder and handed him the stone.

    “You should me more organized.” He said.

    Kael nodded. Grabbing the stone, he felt its coolness against his palm. He breathed in deeply and turned to the rabbit.

    The stone made contact with the circle and started giving off its blue glow. Kael noticed Dean looking at him in the edge of his vision. It was awkward performing the ritual in front of him. He felt exposed. Any flaw would stand out like the sun to someone like Dean.

    Would it really be like the voice said? I am useless. He thought. Snap out of it Kael. You can do this.

    Regaining his focus he controlled the small amount of energy in the stone, guiding it to surround the circle. He watched the energy flow as it traced the patterns—in a set order—and make its way towards the center. Towards the rabbit.

    For a moment, he felt the link—like the many times before only this time it was stronger. The imprint was forming, binding the rabbit to him.

    Yes! Just a bit more. He thought, smiling.

    The rabbit shook awake and Kael felt the link break, faster this time, and he lost consciousness.



    A strong smell attacked him—a mix between rotting flesh and burning incense. Kael coughed and gasped for fresh air.

    "Good you’re awake." Dean said, holding a small orange leaf. "I'm glad I always carry a Wros leaf."

    "Can you put it away now?" kael asked, gagging. "I can still smell it."

    "You will for a few minutes, then it will go away." He said, putting the leaf away while laughing.

    "You did this on purpose."

    "Maybe,” Dean said. “Anyways, what made you lose concentration midway through the binding?"

    "Lose concentration?"

    "Everything was perfect until the binding was almost complete; then, you lost concentration and woke the rabbit up." He said.

    "I didn't lose concentration and the rabbit woke firs-"

    Now that he thought about it everything had been fine—the link was forming correctly—until the rabbit woke up. Kael looked at the rabbit and narrowed his eyes.

    "I think the rabbit refused my binding." Kael stated.

    "What? That's impossible." Dean said.

    "I felt it. As soon as it woke up it shattered the binding."

    "Well, there are cases were the beast breaks the binding, but it only happens when the beast is far too strong for the tamer." He said, rubbing his beard. “And little fellow hasn’s a sliver of qi.”

    "Well, if you don’t believe me. Why don't you try it Dean." Kael said, taking a seat and scrubbing his nose trying to clear the awful lingering smell.

    Dean nodded, heading towards the rabbit.

    It stared at Kael mockingly then shifted his gaze towards Dean. He could feel the pride, surprise and disdain in the rabbit. If as he said 'you couldn't bind me so now you bring an old man.'

    That wouldn't be possible, right? Kael thought, shaking his head. There is no binding between us. There is no way I can understand what its feeling. It was weird, but the more he stared at the rabbit, the more he sensed a connection with him. Is it because of the many failed bindings? There were no records of someone trying to bind a beast as many times as him so maybe it was plausible.

    Dean proceeded with the binding—stone in hand—he infused the circle with energy. It was different this time, Dean’s control was unparalleled. The shackles even became visible to the naked eye. So, this is a first mender’s power. Kael thought, enthralled as he watched them form and surround the rabbit. However, once the shackles started binding the rabbit, Dean's face contorted. Sweat trickled down his brow, his muscles tightening. It seemed he was struggling against a huge force.

    Squinting, Kael managed to make out a second force—barely visible against the blinding blue light—fighting back. As the light from the stone approached, the rabbit would narrow his eyes and caused it to back off. Dean would grunt and the light would push forward, but the rabbit would narrow his eyes and repel Dean’s binding. It sat leisurely and his eyes showed amusement as he playing with Dean.

    The rabbit is enjoying this. Kael thought as he continued watching.

    The tug of war lasted for thirty minutes before Dean gave up. "This is impossible." He said, gasping for air. "Utterly impossible."

    "Told ya. It was the rabbit.” He said, smiling. "It used some clear energy to fight you off.”

    As soon as he said that a chill ran through his back, the rabbit glared at him. Kael could sense him cursing.

    "No Kael, this feels different. I have tried taming beasts stronger than me many times, but this...this is beyond that. There is no beast that would consciously fight back the way this rabbit did. We need to go to Roan. He needs to see this."

    Kael grinned. "I knew it was special. It was worth going to the yellow section of the forest."

    "You did what!"

    Damn. Kael thought, covering his mouth. I'm doomed.







    Kael sensed the frustration of the rabbit as he dragged the covered cage. He was limping again, not because his leg hurt, but because of Dean’s punishment. The man had been cruel and spanked him for a full hour before spending the next three giving him a scolding. Dean was right to do so. He had put himself in a life and death situation for a silly beast.

    Dean strode ahead, almost stomping, giving Kael more reason to stay quiet. Quickly, they reached the Material Palace. The grand hall was empty of disciples, yet two guards still watched carefully. Kael lowered his head.

    “I can’t believe you did something so stupid, Kael.” Dean said as they entered the narrow hall. “You could have died.”

    But I didn’t. He thought, scared to voice it. Instead, he looked at the phoenix painting. It held the same majestic feeling; it beckoned him to stare. He really wanted to stay and examine it, but he knew Dean would object. Plus, the shrieking rabbit preventing him from focusing correctly.

    Dean glared at him then opened the door to Roan’s study and entered. Ironically, the rabbit went quiet as they stepped inside.

    “Roan we need to talk.”

    “Damn it Dean.” Roan said, moving his arms about. “would it kill you to knock. I could have been working on a dangerous experiment.”

    “Oh, be quiet. We both know that if you were just taking notes instead of working.”

    “what do you expect with the state the sect in.” he said, sighing. “I can’t even perform the experiments I want due to the lack of re-“ He stopped himself noticing Kael standing behind Dean. “What is the boy doing here?”

    “That’s what I need to talk about with you. Well, to be precise, his beast.” Dean said, holding up the cage and uncovering it.

    “Why the hell did you bring it here. You of all people should know that I will not look at it. The rules are final. And I am not breaking them for you. In fact, I will go report you right now.” He said, walking to the door.

    “You can do that, but you will lose the chance to study a beast that resisted a binding from me.”

    That stopped Roan. “You’re bluffing.” He said, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.

    “You think I would risk breaking the rules by bringing it here if it weren’t.”

    “Well, I suppose I could take a quick look.”

    Kael stood dumfounded. He couldn’t believe how easily things went along. Just a few words and Roan was willing to break the rules. Well, I guess its natural, Kael thought. A beast that resisted a first mender was something extraordinary. Specially for a researcher like Roan.

    “Also, if you could take a look at Kael’s leg again. That’d be great.”

    “I already looked at it and as long as he doesn’t put too much weight on it, it will be fine.”

    “Did he tell you it was caused by a Greywolf?”

    “What?” he said, turning shocked. “What in the hell did you do boy?”

    Dean summarized the story and after Roan placed a different concoction of herbs on his leg. Something to do with the Greywolf’s venomous claws and drool.

    “Damn boy.” Roan said, wrapping his leg in bandages. “I can’t believe you what possessed you to enter the yellow section through a crack.”

    “I did it for the rabbit.” Kael said, his gaze unwavering.

    Roan finished bandaging him and sighed. “Boy,” he said, “you have the heart of a researcher. Just like your father did. I’m sure if he was in the same situation he would have done the same thing.”

    “Really?” Kael asked, his eyes lighting up. I’m like father was? He thought as a proud feeling ignited inside him.

    “Don’t encourage him Roan.” Dean said.

    “Well, you more than anyone know it’s true.”

    “Yes, but that doesn’t make it less right or stupid.” Dean said, turning to Kael. “You hear me? You do another of these stunts and I’m going to place a formation on you that would prevent you from leaving your room.”

    Kael lowered his head and nodded in agreement.

    “Now that that’s settled. Could you both leave?” Roan said. “I want to conduct some…tests on the rabbit.”

    “How long will it take.?” Dean asked. “Kael needs to have it back as soon as possible. Else, it would affect his aptitude test.”

    Roan thought for a moment before replying. “It could take a day or a week. If it’s the latter I’ll provide him with another beast.”

    “But I don’t want another beas-“

    “No buts Kael. You don’t have the right to choose after your stupid actions.” Dean said, turning to Roan. “Thanks. And sorry for bothering you.”

    “Not at all, Dean.” Roan said, waving his hand. “It’s really no big deal. In fact, I’m quite eager to examine it already. So, if you would excuse me.” He said, motioning to the door.

    “Let’s go Kael.” Dean said, nodding and dragging Kael out the door.
     
  17. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Sixteen

    Roan locked the door as soon as Dean left. Hurriedly, he made his way to the rabbit, but the remnant herbal smells stopped him.

    Clean it. A voice told him. He tried to ignore it, but it grew stronger. Clean it now. You know it bothers you.

    Sighing, he grudgingly started to clean. The voice was right. Disorder did bother him greatly. Having something—even the tiniest, unimportant object—unorganized prevented him from being productive. He’d forgotten when the voice first spoke to him. Maybe, it had been during his days as an apprentice to the previous material master; maybe it had been as he settled into his own lab and performed experiments; or maybe it had always been there, since birth.

    At first, he had thought himself insane. He searched for help and would sometimes ignore it for extended periods of times. But as time went Roan had become certain of one thing; it was another part of him—his subconscious knowledge perhaps or a second version of himself—and it had always been right. He hated that part of himself. Still, he listened to the voice and learned to live with it. He had even named it Naor.

    His mirror self.

    He glanced at the herb dregs with a frown. He had used a fourth of the monthly allowance to cure the kid. It was a stupid reason, but it was necessary—lest he punished for negligence. However, he wished Dean would have taken the problem to the Medicine Hall; not him. That way, they would have used up their designated resources. What he got from the sect lately had been too little. He even had to halt a ten-year experiment due to lack of resources. Though, fortunately, it could be restarted were it was stopped, if he managed to gather the needed materials. Roan sighed.

    Enough complaining. Naor said. Hurry up so we can focus on studying the rabbit. We haven’t done an experiment in so long that I’m itching to do it. Plus, it will cheer you up. He grinned as he scrubbed the bowls and tools clean. Finishing, he placed them back in their respective spots. The bowl is an inch too far to the left. Naor pointed out. Quickly fixing the mistake his mind went to the rabbit.

    Roan had noticed the rabbit staring intently at him since it arrived. It watched him and even gave a few approving nods here and there. Roan thought he imagined it, but Naor told him otherwise. Naor had kept his focus on him. It was a weird thing he did. Roan himself didn’t fully understand it, but as long as he caught the smallest wisp with the edge of his vision, Naor would be able to focus on it as if he stared directly at it. It was a great advantage for Roan and it proved that the rabbit had some amount of sentience.

    Picking up the cage, he strode to the northern wall. It was white, like the rest of the room, yet it was a secret passage. One would be pressed to notice it. Even, Dean never did. It was one of his proudest achievements—a formation that could even fool a First Mender. Smiling, he touched the wall and drew a set of runes. The wall flashed green and revealed a downward staircase.

    The rabbit gave admiring shrieks as Roan descended and entered his lab. The culmination of his work and most important research was stored here. And, only he knew of its existence.

    Store the stolen herbs. Naor said, reminding him. Roan removed a small metal box from inside his robe and opened the lid to several different glass bottles—each a different color. Carefully, he placed fragments into their corresponding bottle.

    Every day, he would enter the vaults and scrape off tiny bits of herbs and materials he needed and store them. It had been his daily routine for the past year. I need to pick up the pace. Roan thought. Currently, it would take him a decade to store the required materials to continue his experiment. If you do, they will notice. Naor said. Just a few more years and we will finally be able to leave this decaying sect.

    Roan nodded and sealed the bottles—placing them back perfectly—and took the rabbit out of its cage. Holding it with one hand, he let Naor control his right hand. Another of the benefits Naor’s existence provided and that Raon had discovered recently. Expertly, he removed the cap off an ink bottle and put pen to paper. It still amazed him, it was as if Naor grew more capable the more time passed.

    “Rabbit. Possibly of the Sepir descent…” he said as Naor wrote keeping up with the pace of dictation. Roan took a small herb from a near bottle and paralyzed the rabbit. He then, set it down on the wooden desk. With a magnifying tablet, Roan began to inspect the it more thoroughly.

    Having finished recording all the basic data, Roan set the rabbit down in its cage and moved to retrieve a Record Crystal. It was an old thing—its glowing silver surface had now dulled to a lifeless gray—but it was filled with his most important work. If Dean had correctly described the rejection, it meant it was worth recording. The first of its kind. A weak beast rejecting a master binder.

    Roan traced his finger across the crystal’s surface, turning it on. “Experiment SR one.” He said. “Will try to bind the beast using conventional method.” Not wasting a second, Roan quickly drew the circle and placed the required materials and began the binding.

    “Binding started.” Roan narrated. “process is normal, there is no resistance…shackles have forme- No, they have shattered. It is as Dean stated. Rabbit shows unwillingness to be bound. Experiment SR one, failed.”

    Roan went back to the crystal and examined the recording in detail. Even if it was of the lowest grade available—its function was amazing—it could still slow down the recording to one tenth speed. Using this feature, Roan noticed several short bursts of energy attacking the shackles. They were so fast that both Naor and him only noticed them until they’d watched it for the seventh time.

    It was something unexpected. “Naor, what are these strange energy bursts?” Roan asked. “Clearly the rabbit has on qi in its body. Could he control the qi in the atmosphere? Is it manipulating it?”

    Don’t jump to conclusions, Naor said. We will have to conduct a deeper inspection on the rabbit. If possible let’s use that formation to study him.

    “But that woul-“

    Don’t worry about it. Didn’t you promise to provide a different beast. Just do that. Studying this beast is more important.

    Naor was right, like always. However, he wished it didn’t have to come to it. Not because he didn’t want to give out another beast, but because the formation took too many resources and it was…well, gruesome. Roan sighed and turned the Record Crystal to voice record only.

    “Experiment SR Two. Will take blood and tissue samples to further examine. Will also confirm what species the beast really is. I have a feeling it is not your normal rabbit.” Roan said, smiling.



    ##


    Eztli currently burned with anger.

    The day just wasn’t going well for him. First, he had unfortunately passed out before even trying to refine the rabbit’s blood and was woken abruptly by a binding. Following that, he got into a binding fight with a First Mender; nothing too serious as he had rested enough to fight back. Then, he had to sit through the kid’s wailing and scolding. If that wasn’t enough, the cage was covered and he was taken somewhere.

    At first, Eztli had been overjoyed when they removed the cage cover and left. The sight of a lab and what could be called a researcher greeted him; it reminded him of his own work. Admiringly, Roan was an organized man, much like himself. It wasn’t hard to praise him and acknowledged him as a fellow researcher. He even had a proper hidden lab.

    Eztli had been amazed at the complexity—not as much as his own—and attention to detail that Roan placed on hiding his lab. The Formation was impeccable. Honestly, he had started to respect the man, that is, until he began talking to himself and touching him all over—stretching his limbs and flipping him like a doll. It was a degrading for Eztli to be handled in such a way. He had protested, but the man didn't mind his shrieking. It fact it only made his smile bigger specially when he pricked him with the needled and took huge amounts of blood.

    Insane fuck! Eztli thought, shrieking in anger. Doesn't he know how much blood a rabbit has. I'm actually feeling dizzy.

    Still, respect lingered. Eztli could sense the authentic interest Roan held for research. He had smiled as he watched Roan use a Record Crystal and looked through a microscope, studying his blood. The method to inspect it was different—Eztli would have used his Blood Sensing Art—but the scene reminded him of his youth and his own experiments. Ah, I wish I could have seen the bloodline experiment through. He thought. There was finally progress, the rabbi-

    The realization hit him hard. The rabbit that survived the bloodline infusion was now his body. He laughed inside. Then immediately closed his eyes and sensed his body using his soul. It felt awkward to use his soul energy but it was all he could manage without Blood Arts. Hopefully, he managed to sense a small difference. A cluster of cells.

    At first, they seemed to belong, but the more attention he gave the more they seemed wrong. They were still rabbit cells, yet, deep within they had something akin to a seed. Waiting to be activated.

    So that's why there were no outward or internal changes. Eztli thought, smiling. The seed is dormant.

    This was the best news he had received since he awoke in this body. The rabbit was too stupid to even realize the change in its body, but if the seed could be activated, it would have caused his bloodline to change. The effects would be immediately. He would transform and even gain abilities he could never have. If he could absorb all sorts of bloodlines, it would allow him to go beyond the limits of a Sepir rabbit. It could even take him beyond the limits of humans.

    This is great. He told himself. With this I will be able to rise in strength even faster than anticipated.

    He began formulating a plan. He would first need to prime this body—by refining its blood—and attune it to be compatible with Blood Arts. From there he would be able to activate the bloodline. He opened his eyes and let out a shriek of joy causing Roan to break away from his research.

    "You’re a lively one, aren't you? Enjoy it while you can. He smiled. A euphoric and creepy smile that seemed to not be his. “Soon you will die."

    Fuck! What is this crazy bastard thinking? A sense of urgency flashed through Eztli like lightning through the air. I need to escape this man.

    “Naor, we can still back out now.” Roan talked to himself. “The ingredient for this are too much…you are right the benefits would be far too great if we discover the cause of its strength. Should we use the record crystal? That’s right, the feedback from the formation should be enough…”

    Great, this fucker went full insane. Eztli thought as he watched Roan continue to talk to himself. He crossed the room several times grabbing several herbs and jars—filled with nasty green, dull blues and blacks. Using the contents of the green jar, Roan drew three triangular patterns—each their points meeting. A blue circle followed soon after bisecting the triangles. Finally, he used the black jar to draw sharp angular runes.

    What the fuck is he doing? Eztli asked himself trying to make out the runes. He had never seen such a weird formation, but once Roan finished drawing the runes it began to make sense. Shit! He screamed inside. How the fuck did he come up with such a sadistic formation?

    If Eztli’s memory was correct the particular way Roan had set down the runes would cause the formation to have an analyzing effect. It would be extremely effective; however, it was deadly. Not for the user but for the recipient. In this case, Eztli. It would tear him layer by layer—peel his skin, tear his muscles and organs, pulverize his bones and burn his blood—as it inspected every minute details. It would, astonishingly, also transfer the information directly into the user's brain.

    "Finally, we will get a chance to use this formation again. It will be so fun, Naor.” Roan said, laughing then turned to Eztli. “Unfortunately, not fun for you. That reminds me, we will have to give Kael a new beast." He said, sighing. "Yes, it’s a small price to see what makes you tick, little one. He placed his hands on the formation and willed energy into it.

    No! Eztli shrieked as he felt his skin begin to burn. Fight back. He told himself. You know how the formation and runes work. Use that against him.

    He closed his eyes bearing the pain and concentrated. Having no qi made things extremely difficult for Eztli. Usually, he would have used his Blood Art to cause a disruption in the energy flow of the formation, however, he only had his soul at the moment. The foreign qi bombarded him and kept trying to tear him apart. Slowly he managed to stall the energy inside him.

    "So, Dean didn't lie. You really did fight him." Roan said, laughing. "Let's see how long you last with this." Roan raised his right hand and sent more energy, throwing Eztli's body into chaos.

    If only I had qi, you fucker. He cursed. You'd be the one begging me to stop.

    The pain became almost unbearable. Eztli had to do something soon, if not, he would die. Suddenly, an idea popped into his mind. He stopped resisting taking in all the qi Roan had sent. Blood oozed from Eztli, pooling under his legs. Fur fell off in patches along with parts of his skin.

    "Well, I guess that's all the fight you had in yo-"

    Let’s see if you can handle this. Eztli thought, smiling. He then used his soul to encase the qi. The process was meticulous, but Eztli’s soul control could manage it—even with the immense pain. He spun his soul, guiding the qi as if was his own and caused it to flow back into the formation.

    Bombarded by the massive influx of qi and soul force, Roan convulsed and fainted.
     
  18. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Seventeen
    Kael awoke gasping for air. Pain coursed through his body. It felt as if his skin was being peeled off slowly. He tried to scream, but he couldn’t muster the force. The feeling intensified and his body his body refused to listen to him. Kael's eyes flipped back as his body twisted and contorted—blood oozed from his eyes, nose and ears.

    Then it simply stopped.

    A sudden chill ran through his body, calming him. Slowly he came back to his senses and sat, still gasping for air. What was that? Kael wondered, hugging himself. Trying to stop the trembling. Could it have been dream? No. It was too real to be a dream…something is wrong with me. It scared him. Kael hugged himself tighter and took in his surroundings—trying to forget the tingling sensation lingering on his arms and legs.

    That’s right, he thought. I’m at the library. He tried focusing his memory. After they had left the rabbit with Roan, Dean dragged him to the library as he needed to finish examining the formation. Apparently, he had not finished the job when Kael asked for help, but he prioritized Kael over the sect’s orders. When he was done, Dean had even given him another sermon and strict orders that he was to go back to his room.

    Kael, however, had asked if he could spend the night at the library and Dean had reluctantly agreed. Kael didn’t want to go back and meet Brin. Not after Dean had warned him that if he did something reckless again, he was placing him under house arrest indefinitely. That meant no library. Plus, Kael wasn’t that confident in winning. At worse, he would just be called a coward. Over time, however, he would prove that wasn’t the case.

    He glanced out the window. It was dark, but the moonlight lit the outside faintly. Kael stood, the feeling had past. He thought it was a dream or something, but he would still head to Dean’s and tell him about it. Carefully, he weaved himself of the pile of littered books—thrown around when he convulsed. He sighed as he stared at the mess and started to clean. His mind still telling something was very wrong.


    ##


    Eztli sluggishly stood and looked around. The aftermath of his little stunt had caused more damage than he thought. The cage was crumbling into dust—probably part of the formations effect. His body was in a bad condition. Several patches of skin where missing and he was bleeding out. I got to hurry. Eztli thought. I need to heal…before I really die.

    Moving forward, Eztli crawled over the wooden table tops. Guiding himself to a particular red bottle not too far away. He had noticed it when he watched Roan work. It glowed faintly and when he poked at it with his soul, a nourishing effect passed through him. Eztli figured it was a healing herb.

    Most herbs in the world could be divided into five ranks: common, rare, semi-precious, precious, and divine. While the majority of herbs around the lab were only common and rare ones, the herb he scanned was at the semi-precious rank.

    Eztli finally reached the sealed bottle. He concentrated his soul and launched it, shattering the bottle. The herb shot through the air and landed on the floor. Damn it. Eztli cursed to himself. Too much force. He had planned for the herb to land on the counter, unfortunately, his suffering body had caused him to lack control. He sighed and glanced down at the five feet drop and jumped.

    He landed hard, blood splattering and his ribs cracking. Shrieking in pain he paced towards the herb, leaving a trail of blood behind. Reaching the herb, he hastily ate at it.

    The effect kicked in almost immediately, his wounds began to heal at astonishingly fast rate. A few moments later, Eztli stood, his fur and body in a perfect state. Wow, he thought, amazed. I didn’t expect it to be this effective. Could it have been an almost precious herb? Or was it more effective because of my small body. Well, I’ll find out later. First, I got to take care of that bastard.

    Glancing to his left, he noticed the unconscious Roan. Eztli smiled as he looked at his work. Roan’s left arm was shattered and his right eye had exploded. That’s what you deserve, you fucker. Eztli thought as he neared. I’m going to have my fun now.

    Using his soul, Eztli probed Roan and noticed that while he had suffered outward wounds, his mind was intact. How is that possible? Eztli wondered and probed more. Roan’s mind rejected his soul almost as if he was awake. It was actively surrounded by a layer of qi—growing stronger each passing moment. Using more of his soul energy, Eztli pierced the layer. Well, this is intriguing. It seems his soul is split…but how?

    Being a master of the soul, Eztli knew how hard it was to even heal a wounded soul. Even the slightest fracture to it would cause the person to go die, at best the person would only go insane. Is that why he talked to himself? Eztli wondered, noticing the smaller part of the soul. No, that’s not it. The second part is independent and has sentience. Not only that, but it wants to swallow the first.

    It was unlike anything Eztli had seen. A sort of parasitic relationship. The bigger soul benefitted from having the smaller part, like having two minds in one body. But at the same time, the second soul was unhappy with not being in control. So, it was trying to gain control. This situation just screamed at Eztli to start experimenting on this rare specimen. However, he was far too weak to do so. He sighed. Well, looks like you are in luck, bastard. He thought, looking at Roan. I want to kill you so bad for what you did to me, but it looks like you have more worth alive. Once I gain enough strength I will come back and your torture will begin. For now, I can’t have you die.

    Rushing about in the lab, he grabbed hold of several herbs—mixing them as best he could—and healed Roan. Then, he walked to the stairs and looked back at the unconscious body. A bit of regret showed on his face. He wanted to at least bind the guy, but without his Blood Art or someone to help, it was impossible.

    Sighing, Eztli left the lab.


    ##


    Brin paced back and forth in his personal training room. It was hours past the duel he set with Kael, but he still didn't show.

    "Brin, he probably chickened out." Levy said.

    "Don't you think I know that," he said kicking the nearby stool. "But he played me. He made me wait in front of everyone. Now they laugh at me." "Brin, they were laughing at him, not you."

    "Shut up! I heard them whisper I was stupid for believing him."

    "But he did sa-"

    "Just leave." Brin said, throwing a lamp at Levy. "Get out."

    Levy left without saying anything else leaving him in silence.

    No one understands me. He thought, sitting on the ground. His father kept telling him he was a genius that he was going to be the next sect head. That people would adore him. Worship him. But that was a lie.

    They mocked and laughed at him behind his back. He heard them whisper. Kael specially. He always did something to discredit him. Specially today, Brin thought, recalling the stares of everyone when Kael had challenged him. He had cowered back seeing Kael so…so confident. Can I ever be like that? He was insecure. He tried hiding it behind his arrogant act, but deep he knew the truth. He was not the genius his father believed him to be.

    You tamed a Greywolf, his father’s voice sounded in his mind. Look at it it’s so big now. You will win the aptitude test. You are a genius.

    “Shut up. They’re all lies!” he said, screaming at the wall and letting the tears fall. “I only caught it with help. It’s only big because you took him and gave it drugs, father. I’m not great. I’m not a genius.”

    A pressure suddenly built up inside his heart, shooting a large amount of blood through him. For a moment, Brin’s senses exploded; He saw everything in slow motion, noticing the minute details in the wooden wall; he heard the wolfs breathing and heartbeat like powerful drums; he smelled the disgusting aroma of sweat around him; he tasted his own saliva; he sensed the slightest change in the atmosphere; even his mind worked faster.

    Everything was so perfect…so clear.

    A faint whisper rang inside his mind. It’s all Kael’s fault. It said, spreading rage through his body. He is the one who embarrassed you. Get back at him.

    Then everything returned to normal. However, the rage remained inside. Brin tightened his fist and hit the wall "Kael you will pay for this."

    His wolf whimpered awake causing his anger to spike further. "Shut up, you stupid beast." He yelled and kicked it a couple of times easing his anger a bit.

    Brin only stopped once the wolf started bleeding. Taking a deep breath of the metallic scent, he walked outside. It as desolate. The moon shone up in the sky, shining down its light on him, embracing him. Relaxing him, yet beckoning him to let loose. A sudden noise broke his focus and he turn.

    Behind another training room a small creature crawled. Squinting as it entered the moonlight, Brin saw that it was a rabbit. Kael's rabbit.

    He grinned and called his wolf. An evil glint slowly filling his eyes.
     
  19. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Eighteen

    It had been surprisingly easy to escape the lab. The formation had no form of defense against attacks on the inside. He made a few modifications to it before leaving though as he was still pissed off at Roan. It was a simple alteration, but Roan should take a couple of days to even understand it—at his current level. To escape, however, that would probably take him a week. Hope you suffer being held captive, bastard. Eztli thought, laughing to himself.

    Eztli paced through a narrow hall, noticing a lot of paintings. Intrigued, he leisurely stared at them. As he reached the central painting he stopped cold. How? He asked himself. How can something so complex be here?

    The painting only portrayed a phoenix overlooking the sect, but it shocked Eztli. The painting was divided into five layers. Others would have taken a long time to pass each layer, but for Eztli it was not too hard—still he went and examined each layer in detail.

    The first layer, would give a sense of life to the phoenix and would only get more realistic the deeper you studied it. The second would fill the person with warmth. The third, would give insights on a breathing technique. The fourth held a map and a legend of some sorts. The last, and most interesting of the layers, held a binding technique. Unlike anything Eztli had seen.

    Fascinated by the discovery, he quickly memorized everything. One benefit of his old and strong soul was the large capability for memorization. He no longer needed to record anything with crystals, his soul was a better and safer place to store his research. Having memorized it, he then shot a beam of his soul into the painting—destroying all records of the diagram. He was greedy and wanted to be the only person to hold such information. Hopefully, it didn’t look like the people around here knew the immense knowledge it held, for it was being displayed so openly.

    Well, this is an unexpected benefit. Eztli thought, eager to analyze it fully, but stopped himself. Priorities Eztli. You have to get to safety before trying to do any sort of research.

    He headed down the hall and carefully peeked. Two guards kept watch. Making his small body even smaller, Eztli made his way forward, avoiding the guards. As he neared, he shot a beam of soul energy and knocked them out.

    I can’t believe I had to rely on such means. He thought, sighing. It was degrading. He was Lord Eztli—Blood Emperor and ruler of the world—yet, here he was, crouching and hiding from two Fracturers. He shook his head as he remembered how easily he would have killed them. Enough of that. Don’t think of the past. Focus.

    Eztli moved forward and probed the souls of both guards. Unlike Roan’s, theirs were fully unconscious, but he was still unable to read their memories. Fuck. He cursed to himself. Why can’t I do this? They are not even high level. My current strength should be enough for at least this. Sighing he gave up and walked outside.

    It was dark and the eerie glow of moon gave only made him feel even more helpless. He was lost. The cage had been covered when he was brought to Roan so now he didn’t know where to go. Glancing around he finally decided on a random direction and headed off.



    A short while later, Eztli was standing in a maze of wooden shacks—making his current situation even worse. He weaved through the shacks until a sudden noise to his right disturbed him. He narrowed his eyes and stared trying to make out the shadow in the distance.

    It was a wolf cub.

    Just my luck. He told himself. He searched for a place to hide, but the wolf fell into a run. Towards him. Eztli hopped faster, wiggling through the small gaps between the shacks.

    "Don't let him get away you mutt!" a voice yelled. The wolf ran faster and leaped at him. Eztli crouched barely managing to dodge the hit and scurried forward.

    "Stupid beast. Get him." Another yell.

    Fuck, what do they want with me. Eztli cursed, once again he tried dodging the wolf. This time, however, it managed to get one of his legs. Pain ran through him as he was pinned on the floor, bleeding.

    The kid ran up to where he was and smiled. "Good job, mutt. He inched his hand towards the wolf and it cringed back in fear, but the kid just pet it.

    "We will have fun and toy with this rabbit now." He said, laughing.

    This is fucking great, Eztli thought as the wolf carried him by biting his leg. First a sadistic old man. Now a sadistic kid.


    ##


    Kael rounded the training ground as he headed to Dean’s house. Even though the chance was slim, he didn't want to meet Brin or anyone else at this hour. Something was going on with him what happened at the library was not normal.

    Suddenly, he felt a sense of danger around him. He glanced to his left, towards the center of training ground. For some reason, I get the urge to head there. He thought. Shrugging he decided to head in the direction. As he got closer to the center, the feeling intensified.

    Kael frowned. What is going on with me? He wondered. Then, the feeling from the library started to return, albeit it was nothing compared to before.

    Something is off. He said, picking up the pace. A sense of urgency crawled to him. He tripped. His leg throbbed in pain. Why now? It hadn’t hurt before. What the hell is happening to me. He fumbled to stand ignoring the pain and rushed forward, the feeling growing stronger.

    The smell of blood filled his nose, causing him to gag. Shrieking and laughter followed.

    "This is fun. Do it again."

    That's Brin's voice. Kael thought as he slowed to a sneak and stayed hidden behind the training rooms. Peeking through the edge he saw the gruesome sight.

    The rabbit was strung with a chain, dangling by a leg. Brin stood nearby with bloodied hands in the air laughing maniacally. "It feels so good." Brin said. “More. I need more.” He motioned to his wolf and gave a hard kick. The wolf tumbled away from him, bloodied and what appeared to be a broken leg.

    Kael was paralyzed. How can Brin be doing something so...so evil. He was a prick and arrogant to the extreme, but kael didn't take him for what he looked like now. A maniac.

    Brin kicked the rabbit with force.

    Kael felt the pain strike him as the kick landed. It sent the rabbit flying, only for it to return like a pendulum.

    Why? Why do I feel the pain so intensely? Kael wondered, looking at the rabbit. It felt exactly like when Leggy sent him emotions, but he didn't even have a contract with it. So how could he feel what it felt? It wasn’t logical. Now’s not the time to worry about that, Kael. You need to stop Brin.

    Kael stepped forward.


    ##


    That was the second kick. Eztli counted in his mind as he looked at the bloody kid. I will get back at you when I get out.

    It was highly unlikely though. His whole body hurt, several bones were broken. The kid was crazy. After he trapped him he carried him to the center of the training ground and tied him to a chain. Then he went full blown crazy. It wasn't normal. He did not even spare his wolf. Whenever it cringed back he would kick it multiple times.

    The kid readied for another kick and Eztli just gave up. He was too wounded and exhausted to try and dodge. He closed his eyes and braced for the impact.

    "Stop!" a voice yelled, followed by the sounds of chains clinging.

    Eztli opened his eyes slowly. The voice came from Kael. The boy stood in front of him and removed the chain. Kael stared into his eyes giving Eztli a sense of calmness.

    "Don't worry I'm here now. I'll protect you." Kael whispered.

    Eztli looked up and for a moment his mind overlapped Rhett over Kael's face. Eztli smiled and then fainted.


    ##


    "Perfect you are finally here." Brin said, grinning. "I was warming up for the fight."

    “You call this a warm up?” Kael said. “You nearly killed my beast and yours.” He clutched the rabbit near him and placed him within his robes.

    “Everything is so clear now, Kael.” he said, spreading his arms wide. “Everything feels so good. The pain. The suffering. It’s so perfect.” Slowly, Brin's eyes tinted with red until no white could be seen anywhere. Devoid of emotion. No, there was emotion. Hate and happiness. He grinned.

    "What's wrong with you Brin?" Kael said, barely a whisper. He was terrified. This was not Brin. It was a monster.

    "Like I said, getting ready for our match," he said, turning to the wolf. "Mutt get over here." The wolf, however, didn’t move, it just whimpered.

    “I said, get over here.” Brin said as he moved forward and gave it another kick. “Listen to me.”

    "Stop Brin. This isn't right. Something is very wrong with you Brin."

    Brin stomped his foot and yelled. " I’ll stop once you fight me. I've been waiting all day."

    "No, I won't fight you." Kael said, stepping back.

    "You will fight me." He said, walking forward.

    Crap! He's out of his mind. Kael thought as he turned to run.

    Brin lunged forward with inhumane speed and tackled his right leg. Pain shot through him as Kael spun in the air. He hit the ground hard, air escaping him.

    “Get up Kael.” Brin said. “We need to fight.”

    Taking a good breath, Kael used his good leg to stand. “Brin, stop now.” He said. “Before you do something you regret.”

    “I won’t regret anything.” Brin said, lunging at him.

    Kael managed to jump to the right—evading Brin—but he lost his balance and fell, landing on his chest.

    Quickly, Kael checked the rabbit. The landing caused to give a whimper. It was still breathing, but he needed to get him so herbs.

    Brin attacked again. With no time to prepare, Kael stuck out his wounded leg in a kicking motion. It hit Brin square in the face and sent him flying back.

    "Good.” Brin said. “Finally, you fight back.”

    Kael stood and faced him, but a punch landed on his stomach causing him to kneel on the ground. A kick, sent Kael flying back.

    “Fight. Fight. Fight." Brin Chanted as he approached and kicked Kael’s wounded leg repeatedly.

    “S-stop.” Kael whispered, feeling intense pain then numbness. Brin continued to stomp, but Kael couldn’t feel his leg any longer.

    Brin didn’t listen. He continued to chant and he sat on top of him, raising both hands. Kael saw how his blood vessels bulged and throb causing his arms to slowly expand—doubling in size. Then, Brin grabbed his neck and squeezed with unreal strength.

    “S-stop.” Kael managed a whisper. Feeling his lungs pleading for air, he struggled to get free of Brin’s grasp. Fear sunk in. I’m going to die. He thought. I’m going to die. Kael stopped fighting. He no longer had the strength to do so.

    Darkness filled him, but suddenly a voice rang inside him. Kael, you’re giving up now? His father’s image lit up the darkness and asked. I thought you promised you were going to surpass me. I’m disappointed in you. Giving up so easily. When you have the strength to fight back.

    I don’ have any strength left dad.

    You do. I left this in case you were close to dying. He said, pointing at an orb of light. It was a formation so complex the symbols just intertwined with each other. I know I left so suddenly and I wanted to say more. Just tap into it. It will give you strength. It’s the last thing I can do for you. Don’t give up, son. The figure gave a big smile then disappeared, leaving him alone with the orb.

    Kael was confused and many question rang in his head. What that even possible? Leaving a formation inside someone? He felt himself fading. He reached towards the orb and pulled it. A cold feeling washed through him; giving him strength.

    Kael opened his eyes and tightened his fist and gave a hard punch. Brin let go and fell a few feet to the side. Kael gasped and coughed as he filled his lungs.

    He turned and saw Brin stunned. His eyes had turned full black.

    “Pain. So wonderful.” Brin said, smiling. “I need more.” He proceeded to claw at himself. His nails cutting deep into his own arms, ripping the skin clean in strips.

    "Blood…So nice." He repeated in a whisper. “Blood, more blood. Pain…”

    "Stop now, Brin." Kael said, watching in horror.

    But it was in vain. Brin continue to tear at his own skin.

    I got to stop him. Kael thought.

    Taking a deep breath, he tightened his fist and punched him as hard as he could.

    Brin fell, laughing and still clawing. Kael got on top of him and tried to hold his arm and yell out for help, but Brin overpowered him.

    Kael steeled himself and punched him multiple times on his face trying to knock him out. Blood oozed and splashed with each punch. Kael even felt bone cracking—unsure if it was Brin’s or his—but he continued to punch. Brin never stopped smiling and laughing until he finally fainted.

    Exhaustion spread throughout Kael's body—the rush of energy from the orb all gone. He sprawled on ground gasping for air, the pain hitting him, whispering at him to sleep. He willed himself up and walked in Dean's direction. They needed help.

    The walk was a long one. Each step took everything he had. He fell several times, but got back up. His screams were just whispers at one point he slowed to a crawl. Gripping and clawing at the loose ground he somehow managed to reach Dean's house. The light was on, which was good news—meant Dean was awake. Using the last bit of force in him he knocked on the door.

    Waiting for the door to open seemed like an eternity. Finally, it creaked open and Dean rushed to him as soon as he noticed his wounds.

    "Kael!" he screamed. "What happened to you?"

    "The training...ground...Brin." He whispered before everything went black.
     
  20. SilkwormLarvae

    SilkwormLarvae New Member

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    Chapter Nineteen

    Dean paced back and forth outside the healing room. His hand tugged at his beard—several hairs came off landing on his blood-stained robe—as shot glances towards the closed doors. At moments, he had tried to rush in and check on their condition, but several disciples had stopped him. They continuously urged him to sit and calm down. He couldn’t. Not after what he saw.

    It had been more than thirty minutes since he brought them, yet the gruesome sight in the training ground still lingered in his mind. Brin swimming in a pool of blood, missing chunks of meat on his arms. His skin peeled back, left cheek sunken in and broken. And…that haunting smile.

    Dean shivered. Stop thinking about that. He told himself, but couldn’t help but return to that image. At first, he had thought Brin was dead, but surprisingly his vitals had been strong. A man with the same wounds would have died. Something is wrong with him. Bloodverne. He shook his head clear of that thought.

    Some said the Bloodverne was a great blessing; others said it was the worst curse a man could have. The legends stated that long ago there was a great sect that consciously afflicted each of their members with the Bloodverne. For not only did it enhance their senses, but aided them greatly in their cultivation.

    Unlike other practitioners, their cultivation path had been unique. They refined their bodies at first like fighters; yet, they never gathered qi until years later in their refinement. The conditions and requirements on how they managed it were obscure, but at one point they would gather qi and their power would soar. Soared into heights only dreamed of by fighters. It was this same power that caused their downfall.

    The few records remaining stated that the other sects group together to eradicate them. They preached that they were cursed; maddened by the disease as other who tried using it to enhance themselves would end up in a murdering spree and in the end, take their own lives in the most bloodied of ways. They refused all accusations arguing that the people who ended dead just didn’t know how to control the Rush—as they called it.

    Dean tried remembering the rest of the story, but it just slipped his mind. The symptoms of the Bloodverne, however, were fresh in his mind. He knew of the benefits it brought, but no matter what others believed, Dean was sure it was a curse—he had seen it first-hand.

    It had consumed and driven Elsa mad to the point that only a dark twisted shadow remained. They had tried to help her, but she had only attempted to kill them. It had grown so bad that she had to be restrained—for her and the baby’s safety. That failed to save her, however, it did save the baby.

    Brin.

    Dean recalled the symptoms, they had been similar to what he’d seen at the training ground. Self-harm. Unnational emotions. He thought. Black eyes. He didn’t want to believe that Brin was infected, but the symptoms were there. I have to inform the higher ups immediately.

    It was his duty, yet his feet refused to leave the Medicine Hall. He needed to know that Kael was safe first. His wounds had been just as severe. From what Dean could tell, Kael’s right leg was damaged so badly that he might lose it. No, he can’t. Dean told himself. He will get better. I haven’t failed my promise Ian. Unconsciously. he approached the wooden door that led to Kael’s room.

    "Elder Dean, please wait patiently." A disciple said, begging. "we can't have you do what you did when you arrived."

    He glanced to his right. Four disciples, in white robes, were still cleaning the storm he had caused when he brought them. Shattered doors, stone and broken tile floors still littered the room.

    How could they still care over such trivial things? He wondered. He pushed the disciple away and continued forward. He needed to see Kael. He was done waiting.

    "Elder, if you interrupt the healer it might cause side effects on the patient." The disciple said.

    Dean stopped giving a frustrated sigh and returned to his pacing.

    The door finally opened and a figure dressed in white--hair trimmed short and kind eyes—walked out.

    "Robin is Kael alright?" Dean asked.

    "Calm down dean." Robin said in a soothing voice. "Let's sit down and talk about it."

    "Is he fine!"

    "Yes, Dean. He is not in any danger."

    The heavy mountain on his shoulders and constant stabbing in his heart finally released. He faltered almost falling.

    Robing caught Dean. "Come on. Let's sit down and talk." He said.

    Dean complied and sat.

    "I'm already sitting." He said, looking at Robing hesitating. "Out with it."

    "Kael…" he said, sighing. "There is an ninety percent chance he will not on his right leg ever again."

    The stabbing returned. Dean's heart felt as if his heart was being cut apart piece by piece. His hands trembled.

    "A-are you sure." He asked.

    "Unfortunately, yes."

    No, this isn't happening. Dean told himself. Kael...no it can't be true. He tightened his fist bringing it down on the chair next to him, turning it to dust.

    "Dean. Control yourself!" Robin said, slapping him.

    The stinging pain brought him back a bit. He nodded walked towards the room.

    "Where is my son?" a high-pitched voice broke the silence in the room.

    Dean glanced sideways, towards the sound. Sal stood, his grey robe disheveled and hair a mess. His naturally sunken eyes made him look like he hadn’t sleep well in years.

    "Elder Sal, your son is fine there’s nothing to worry about." A disciple said.

    "Fine? I get called in the middle of the night by a messenger saying that my son is nearly dead. And you say it's nothing to worry about. Get the hell out of here."

    A hard slap sent the poor disciple crashing to the wall. Blood and teeth splattered the floor as other disciples moved away.

    "Stop this now." Robin commanded, appearing almost instantly next to Sal slapping him.

    "Y-you dare slap me. Bastard I wil-"

    "You will sit down and wait.” Robin said. “This is my domain and you won’t cause trouble. Now if you excuse me, I will go take care of the disciple you almost killed. Also, I will inform the Council of what you did. Expect retribution for almost killing a sect member."

    Sal cringed back, swallowing his anger and stomped towards a chair, but stopped when he saw Dean.

    "What the hell are you doing here?"

    Dean ignored him. He didn't have the energy to deal with him. You have to let him know of what you saw Dean. A voice rang in his head. Brin is infected with the Bloodverne.

    "Don't ignore me." He said, walking to him.

    “Sal, we need to talk.” Dean said.

    “First you ignore me and now you say we nee-“

    “It’s about Brin.” Dean said. Sal’s face filled with rage at being interrupted, but worry filled it as soon as he mentioned Brin. He may be the most hated elder, Dean thought, but he cares for Brin like I care for Kael. “I was the one who found him in the training ground. Everything I saw points that he’s infected with the…Bloodverne.”

    Sal trembled as the color of his skin turned whiter than the walls. His eyes went wide with disbelief and he shook his head. “No.” he murmured. “No. Dean you must have seen wrong. My son is not sick.”

    “Sal he-“

    “He is not sick!” Sal said, raising his voice. “I you mention this again I will kill you.”

    Before Dean could utter anything, the door to Brin's room opened, a female walked out, her hands still bloodied.

    "Nori, what happened to my son?" Sal yelled, rushing to the woman.

    "Not here, Sal." She said. "Follow me."

    Dean watched as they headed off into a room. Well, it’s better that she is the one to break it to him. He thought, sighing. Nori was one of the few elders that got along with Sal. When he had gotten here with the boys she immediately headed off with Brin into the room. While he had to wait until Robin arrived to heal Kael. It was understandable though. Brin's wounds were the worst he needed immediate help.

    As Dean headed to Kael’s room, the door to Nori's study burst opened and enraged Sal ran to him.

    “Lying piece of shit.” Sal said, grabbing towards his neck.

    Immediately, Dean shifted, dodging the grad and countered. “What do you mean?” Dean said.

    “My son isn’t sick, you bastard. You are making shit up to protect that bastard’s son.”

    Sal rushed at him again, throwing several punches. Dean dodged all, but didn’t fight back. “Calm down Sal. I’m not protecting Kael. I know what I saw.”

    “Shut up.” Sal said. “Nori told me Brin is fine. He is not sick, but he was almost killed by that twisted kid.”

    “Kael only defended himself.” Dean insisted.

    “Defend himself?” Sal yelled. “You call tearing chunks off my boy’s arm and skinning him alive self-defense? I’ll show you.”

    What is he talking about? Dean thought. The wounds were clearly self-inflicted. He shot a glance at Nori, but she evaded his gaze. No, it can’t be. Why would she lie?

    As he was distracted, a punch landed on his jaw and sent him flying back. Dean flipped in the air and landed with a crouch. Sal, glided towards him gathering qi in his arms. Preparing to an Art.

    “Fool.” Dean screamed. “You want to destroy the hall?”

    Sal continued to gather energy causing symbols to surround his hands. The qi immediately transformed into a ball dark blue flame. Fuck. Dean cursed. Why is he using his most powerful Art?

    Dean quickly formed symbols in the air, spelling out the runes for his Defense Art. Dean’s speed in creating the runes was faster, but he only managed to finish his art when the flame ball Sal created had expanded into a mini sun. Dean’s energy covered the sun and encased it. He willed more energy—creating more runes—adding several layers to the shield. Still, the air heated and tore the atmosphere with a loud explosion, the walls and the floor started melting by the intense heat. Sweat fell from Dean’s body like a waterfall as he strained his shield to shrink.

    Sal continued to add qi into the sun, fighting against Dean’s shield. He ignored the surrounding wails and destruction staring directly into Dean’s eyes. Suddenly, Robin appeared and poked several parts on Sal’s body—sealing his qi. Sal grunted by the sudden attack and fell to the ground paralyzed.

    Dean took a deep breath as he shrank the mini sun into nothingness and nodded towards Robin. The Blue Sun Art caught him so suddenly he had wasted more energy than he would have used if he had expected it. Thankfully, he was at his First Mending and Sal was still a Fracturer. The difference was large enough that he would have won in the end, but Robin’s intervention had prevented more damage.

    “Sal, what the hell do you think you are doing?” Robin asked, his voice no longer soothing, but instead booming with power.

    “t-that bastard. He lying about my son.” Sal managed to utter, still paralyzed.

    “I don’t care what happened between you two.” Robin said. “But do you really think I would stand here doing nothing as you destroy everything and possibly kill someone.”

    “I-I wasn’t thinking straight.”

    “I don’t care Sal. I will inform the Council immediately. You know the rules apply to everyone. Whether they are thinking straight or not.” Robin said, reaching down and poking him several times. “Now, go and spend time with your son like you should have been doing.”

    "This is not the end.” Sal glared at Dean. “I will see to it that that bastard gets expelled from the sect. No, better yet executed for attacking my son. Expect the hear from the Discipline hall and Council soon."

    He then, walked into Brin’s room. Nori followed after him. Why would she lie to sal? Dean asked himself. Can’t she see all the trouble she caused? Could this be a ploy to get rid of me and Kael? He knew that Sal hated Kael for what, Ian, Kael’s father, did to him. In a way, he also hated Dean for stepping into the Mending Realm with Ian’s help. I’ll figure and sort this out later. He sighed and turned to Robin.

    “Thanks for the assist Robin. Your mastery over the human body has reached greater heights.” Dean said, praising. “Just a few taps and you could seal and paralyze and Eighth Fracturer.”

    “No need for thanks.” Robin said, shooting him a glance. “In fact, I think you will be cursing me tomorrow when the Council calls you.”

    “Wha-“

    “It’s your fault this whole mess started. So you also have to bear responsibility.” He held up his hand. “Save your explanations for the Council. I have to go take care of my patients then write a report about tonight’s events. Now, go check up on Kael, while you have the chance.” With that, Robin turned and went deeper into the Medicine Hall calling out orders and checking rooms.

    Dean sighed and walked into Kael’s room.



    ##


    Kael awoke to the sound an explosion and an intense rise in heat. The air burning at him as he tried to make sense of what was going on. Where am I? Kael wondered. And why is it so hot? He panicked, the last thing he recalled was reaching Dean’s place, but now he was tied to a bed, wrapped in bandages and sweating madly.

    Soon he could make out two voices—he knew very well—arguing. Sal and Dean. He thought attuning his ears to hear the conversation, but couldn’t make out anything but gnarled mumbling.

    The commotion died down and the door to the room opened.

    Dean entered with a haggard expression, his robes stained with blood and his beard was missing patches of hair—the tips burnt. Kael had so many question but he pushed them down.

    "Are you okay, Kael?" he asked, smiling warmly.

    Kael nodded. He felt no pain, in fact, he didn't feel anything besides heat.

    "I can't feel my body it’s all numb. Although, I do feel so stuffy from the heat." He said.

    "It's the anesthetic effect of the herbs. It will pass after a while. As for the heat that was Sal’s fault. We fell into an argument and he used one of his Art, but it wasn’t that important." Dean said, sitting next to him and ruffling his hair. "You had me worried.”

    So that was what all noise was. Kael thought.

    "Is Brin alright?”

    "He is." Dean said, sighing. "He will get the best healing treatment so there is no worry.”

    "That's great I thought I hurt him too much. He seemed…"

    "What happened exactly?"

    Kael took a deep breath and recounted the events as best he remembered. His hands shivered when he mentioned the way Brin acted. It was painful and terrifying thinking about it. The eyes. The blood. The smile.

    "You did what you had to, Kael. You defended yourself and your beast." Dean said, holding his hand tight.

    "Is the rabbit okay?" Kael asked, suddenly remembering that it was hurt badly.

    "It..." Dean hesitated, “it is stable at the moment, but it might die."

    "Can't we use some sort of medicine to heal it."

    "Kael. They have used third grade medicine—the highest the sect will allow—in order to heal it. Whether it survives is up to its will."

    "Can I go see it?"

    "You can," Dean said. "Once you get discharged…but there is a more important thing to discuss.”

    Kael looked at Dean. He had a sadness in his eyes and was hesitating to say anything.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “Kael,” Dean said, sighing and grabbing his hand tightly. “you might lose your right leg.”
     

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