“Esteemed guests. I thank you all for joining us to celebrate the blessings my sons have received from our All-Father. I hope you enjoy the feast we offer and thank the cooperation between the great houses that have led to centuries of peace in Prandaval. May the All-Father watch over us all for centuries to come!”
Val and Zol’s father announced from their table. There were around thirty guests who attended the feast from prestigious family backgrounds. The two that stood out among them were the current heads of the other two great houses Thadeus Arlon and Mongol Borlo.
“This truly is a special day for House of Candon. I am sure everyone is curious to know what the All-Father has blessed them with.” Thadeus Arlon.
“My son Valgrind has received a unique summoner ability while my son Zolgrind has been blessed with our ancestor’s Beast Emperor Legacy ability.”
The crowd gasped when the head of House Candon mentioned the Beast Emperor. However, there was hardly any reaction to the summoner ability in comparison.
“As you all know, my Grandfather was once a terrifying existence. His ‘Fire Beast transformation’ skill made him infamous on the battlefield. So I am happy to see one of my sons was able to inherit his legacy.”
The heads of house Arlon, and Borlo, did not look happy. Their eyes lasered in on Zolgrind, taking in every detail about him.
“Zolgrind’s prowess in martial skills is known to all. Some would say he is a genius but will he be able to handle such a fearsome ability at his age?” Mogol Borlo had contempt shown clearly on his face.
Zolgrind, who was sitting next to Valgrind at their father’s table, sneered at Mongol.
“Father, may I address the Head of House Borlo directly?”
Their father was surprised by Zolgrind’s request, but he granted it.
“There is something else about my ability that is different from my ancestor. In my vision, the ability not only allowed me to fuse with a fire beast but also increase in size to that of a Giant Beast.”
The guests at the feast were shocked by this development. A giant beast was the size of a small hill. Very few warriors in history possessed the ability to increase their size. A giant on the battlefield is an existence none could ignore.
“So what if you became a giant? They were a problem for us in the past, but now our armies have the capabilities to bring them down with ease.” Mongol Borlo spoke in a rude tone.
Zolgrind smirked when he heard that comment.
“Oh! I forgot to mention I saw my giant self trash the troops of Borlo.”
Everyone was left stunned by that statement. Valgrind’s father was furious with Zolgrind. He knew the last part about attacking the armies of house Borlo was a lie. A giant toad beast was his opponent in his son’s vision. There had been no mention of anyone else.
The milk had been spilled. Mogol Borlo seemed ready to lunge towards Zolgrind for uttering those words.
“Everyone, please forgive my foolish son! His joke has gone a bit too far.”
The crowd murmured in confusion.
“Brat, you should never joke about a vision from the All-Father.”
Mongol Borlo said with disgust.
“It’s not a…”
Zolgrind stopped because Valgrind pinched his leg and urged him to look toward their father. Zolgrind realized he was about to enter a world full of hurt if he continued, so he reluctantly sat back in his seat.
“On behalf of House Candon, I apologize for Zolgrind’s words and behavior. But, unfortunately, it seems his vision has made him arrogant and foolish to make horrible jokes.”
The guests acknowledged the apology and smiled at the Head of Candon’s humility.
“Fear not, the foolish words of a hot-headed child should not upset our relationship with House Candon.” Thadeus Arlon spoke with a calm voice towards Mogol Borlo.
Valgrind regretted not trying harder to convince Zolgrind to hold his tongue.
The feast carried on for an hour before the guests began to leave. A few of them came by to wish Zolgrind good luck, while others went over to console his father.
Thadeus Arlon walked over to Valgrind and patted him on his head.
“I know what it feels like to be overlooked by everyone. I am a summoner by class. Although my unique ability is not related to it.”
“I have read that it is a difficult class to develop.”
“Yes, the class alone is quite difficult to develop. The creatures you summon are your strength, but you are their weakness. When I was your age, getting a wolf to enter a summoner contract with me was challenging. However, after a lot of struggle, I gathered enough contracts to summon an army of beasts. Now no one dares to ignore my ability.”
“From what I have read, most scholars recommend choosing a class that compliments a unique or legacy ability. I will have to research a lot about the summoner class. But if you do not mind, do you have any tips on it?”
Thadeus Arlon smiled.
“There are multiple ways to create a contract. Beating them up till they can no longer stand worked for me. Sometimes offering them food and medical aid increases their bond with you. After a certain point, the bond is strong enough for them to willingly enter into a contract. The easiest method is to make a contract while the beast is still an infant. If you are willing to take risks and spend your wealth, then find someone in the black market that will be willing to sell their contracted beast to you.”
“That is quite a lot of ways to get them.”
“Now that I shared that information with you. Would you be so kind as to share with me what kind of summoner you were in your vision?”
Valgrind felt stupid at that moment. He should have expected that Thadeus Arlon would want something in return for answering his question.
“The kind of summoner?”
The evil older version of himself covered in the blood of his enemies and surrounded by fiery monsters crossed his mind. However, Valgrind decided to underplay what he saw without giving the impression that he was lying.
“That sounds quite vague. Is there anything specific you wish to know?”
“Yes, like how many could you summon?”
“Maybe he had more, but I only saw three.”
“Only three? That is a bit below average. What kind of beasts were they?”
“Some kind of Fire elementals.”
“Well, your family has always had an affinity for that element… this is my last query, who was your brother’s actual opponent in his vision?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“So that I can calm down the head of house Borlo. He is not a man who just forgives and forgets. He might get paranoid and take unnecessary actions against Zolgrind if the matter is not cleared up.”
“You do have a point… Zol said he fought and won against a Giant Poison Toad. I hope this clears things up.”
“That is interesting. If Zolgrind had just said that, none of this drama would have occurred.”
“He sometimes gets carried away and says things that he should not. But, I think he will grow out of it soon.”
Thadeus Arlon could not stop himself from chuckling.
“I guess you do not share your brother’s… sorry, I appreciate your honesty and modesty. If you work hard, maybe you can outshine him in fame.”
Again the flashback of the vision surfaced. Valgrind is sure he would definitely become infamous if nothing changed.
“It’s all in All-Father’s hands, right?”
Thadeus Arlon patted Valgrind’s shoulder this time.
“I suggest you pursue another class to protect yourself. Relying solely on the unique summoner ability or the summoner class is a death wish. Thankfully the Human race can develop two classes at the same time.”
“Thank you, I will keep that in mind. I wish you good night.”
Thadeus Arlon smiled as he walked out of the Candon castle.
Valgrind could make out what the House of Arlon must be thinking and felt relieved that he avoided raising any suspicions on his own vision and ability.
After the last guest departed, the castle servants began cleaning up the mess. Then, one of the Candon House Guards approached Valgrind and announced.
“The Head of the House wishes the young master Valgrind to come immediately to the wine cellar room.”
“The wine cellar? Is Zolgrind there as well?”
“Yes, young master.”
Their father must have wanted a private spot to scold Zolgrind. But why did he want Valgrind as well?
In a few minutes, Valgrind finds his brother and father in the wine cellar room. Several vintage red wine bottles were smashed on the ground. Their contents splattered the walls and floors, leaving behind ugly stains that would be difficult to remove.
It seemed his father relieved his anger on the wine than on his own son. Valgrind took comfort in that fact.
“Val, from now on you, and your brother will no longer live in this castle.”
“What! What did I do?”
His father ignored his question and continued.
“I think it is time for you both to experience life without the security the status our title provides. Therefore, I will arrange accommodations for you to live on Mount Chandrika in the Monastry of Takshila. You both will be escorted there by the Candon elite Guard and stay there unless commanded to return.”
Takshila? Valgrind had heard stories of that place, but it was located on a landmass separated from the continent of Raduna. One would have to travel by sea to get there from the southern port of Prandaval or Tarelam.
Usually, people exiled from Prandaval, Tarelam, and the far-away lands of Assamar end up going there to live and work on the tea plantations and silk farms.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Valgrind of House Candon, will you obey or not?
“I… I will obey, father!”
His father always calls him by his nickname and only uses his full name and title when he is in a foul mood.
His father continued staring hard at both Valgrind and Zolgrind before relaxing a bit.
“I have heard from many sources that Valgrind wishes to be a scholar. For example, the Takshila Monastery is home to one of the oldest libraries. In addition, many retired scholars frequently host public debates about philosophies and the arts.”
This sounded like Valgrind was being rewarded for being passionate about his dreams.
“However, Valgrind will be forbidden from attending them and the library until he reaches Tier One of his two classes. One of which has to be beneficial to combat. I will not recognize a son who cannot protect himself and his family. A guru will guide you on how to develop your classes. He will be the one to welcome you both into the Monastery.”
That sounded like Valgrind was being punished for neglecting martial arts all his life.
“As for Zolgrind! You lied about your vision from the All-Father in front of esteemed guests. Your actions have brought shame to this family. Normally, a public flogging would appease the public. However, since you are a child, the punishment seems a bit too cruel. Thus I have decided on how you will atone for the sin. You will climb down from the Monastery to the base of Mount Chandrika and climb back up every day for a month.”
“How long will that take?”
“Six hours to make a round trip.”
Zolgrind was visibly shivering. Sweat could be seen forming on his forehead.
“How many times do I have to repeat that I did not lie?”
“Make that two months of cleaning.”
Zolgrind did not say a word after that added to his punishment.
“Even if you did see yourself combating the troops of House Borlo in your vision. What kind of idiot are you to say it to their leader? Visions are not a guarantee of the future! The ability to turn yourself into a Giant Fire Beast could be guaranteed, but that depends if you live long enough to unlock it.”
“Is it not my destiny to fight their troops and the Giant Poison Toad?”
“Destiny? What does that have to with this?”
“Aren’t destiny and the future the same thing?”
Their father was about to pull his hair out in frustration. He took several deep breaths to calm down before replying to his son.
“I will let your future Guru explain the difference between destiny and a possible future. It is my fault for not investing more into your mind than your skills. Now I have no choice but to exile my children for their own safety from the malice of the Borlo house.”
Valgrind felt sorry for Zolgrind. Even Valgrind was confused at first until Rothan Kun reassured him that visions are not written in stone.
“Did not Rothan Kun inform you not to take the vision seriously?” Valgrind asked.
“No… wait maybe… I was not really paying attention. All I could think about was trying to activate the ability as soon as possible.”
Valgrind and his father let out a sad sigh.
“What is done can not be undone. All we can do is move forward and hope that Mongol Borlo can let it go.” Their father said as he rubbed his temples to relieve his tension.
“After the two months of climbing, will I get a guru to help me awaken my legacy ability?”
“Actually, one of the Beast Emperor’s students is living in a village in that area. He had inherited his legacy as well, so he would be the perfect Guru for you.”
“Would he not be too old to teach?”
“Hardly, he is an Elvan. Their natural life span is about three to four hundred years as long as they avoid fatal injuries and diseases.”
“Why did our ancestor teach an Elvan? I thought each race stuck to its own when it came to a legacy ability.” Valgrind asked.
“That is generally the case, but there are exceptions. This Elvan, in particular, was part of a hostage exchange deal with the Tarelam nobility. The hostage they sent us lived in Prandaval for over a century and developed deep ties with our family. I am sure he will be willing to take a look at Zolgrind and see if he can help him in some way.”
“Can I meet him first, unlock the ability and then climb up the monastery?”
“NO!” His father yelled.
Zolgrind covered his head to avoid getting a slap. Fortunately, his father regained his composure and decided to take out one of the wine bottles and chug down a few mouthfuls of red wine.
“Both of you go pack your essentials and then say goodbye to everyone in the family. You might be living in the Monastery for a few years. The head of the elite guard will be waiting for you at the stables when you are finished.”
An hour later…
“I will miss you so dearly, Val. But, I wonder if I will still be alive by the time you come back.”
“Do not say things like that, Grandma! That is bad luck.”
His grandmother tenderly stroked Valgrind’s long black hair.
“Oh! I just remembered something important.”
“What is it?”
“I was planning to give it to you on your twelfth birthday, but it would set my mind at ease to give it to you now. Just in case! Who knows what kind of an adventure you will have on this journey.”
Valgrind’s grandmother went over to her room and dug through her personal storage trunk. She eventually pulled out a silver robe that looked identical to the robe Valgrind saw himself wearing in his vision. The only difference, the symbol of House Candon is not glowing.
“Grandma… where did you get this?”
“Dear, I made this myself. I imbued the threads of this robe with my unique ability.”
A thought occurred to Valgrind.
“Your unique ability is… a barrier type?”
She looked surprised.
“Did you forget? I was once called the shield-maiden of Candon in my youth.”
His mind started clicking. Was the barrier ability he saw in his vision a legacy?
“Were you capable of blocking arrows and magic attacks?”
She burst out laughing.
“If I had that kind of ability, then I would have been called Queen of all barriers. But, no, I could only block physical attacks.”
“I… I still do not get how you inject the ability into a robe.”
“Val, I think you misunderstand. I can inject my physical barriers into the garments, leather, and steel mail. My second class is an Enchanter, a production class.”
“Oh! I did not think it could be used like that. So did you have to create it from scratch?”
“Customization focused! Acquisition and Processing were a bit difficult for me to handle. So I stuck to imbuing physical resistance into the final products by siphoning my unique barrier ability.”
“So all the cloth and armor you made were naturally able to block physical attacks?”
“Resistance is not the same as a proper barrier. My goods were famous for being the highest physical resistance cloth or armor that one could buy in Prandaval. If someone tried to slash, pierce or club my enchanted goods, the magic within would absorb the damage.”
“Would that not make someone invincible if they wore a robe like this silver one?”
She smiled and then shook her head.
“The magic in the robe is not infinite. If you receive a steady stream of heavy physical attacks, then the magic within will fade quickly. After two minutes of abuse, this one will be no different than an ordinary robe.”
“Is there a way to make it get back its resistance?”
“You could find an enchanter to imbue magic back into it.”
“Yes, any enchanter could restore it. However, our services are expensive, so you might want to save a lot of gold if you plan on letting this robe get damaged.”
“But… what if an enchanter is wearing it?”
She paused for a moment. Her eyes tried to discern where Valgrind was going with his chain of thoughts.
“If the Enchanter has a large mana pool to draw upon, then the robe should theoretically be invincible to heavy physical attacks for at least half an hour. But I do not see how that is feasible during a battle.”
Valgrind’s mind was now connecting the dots that explained what he saw in the vision.
If the older Valgrind had decided to select one of his two classes as an Enchanter. It would make sense as to how his robe did not get damaged during the battle.
The first time he saw the vision, he did not realize the silver robe he wore had no tear or damage of any sort. At the time, he was overwhelmed by the intense visuals of the carnage that he did not consider the robe itself protected him. Instead, his natural assumption was an ability his older version possessed instead of an enchanted item.
As to how he blocked magical attacks! It could be explained away if he found another enchanter who could imbue his robe with Magical resistance at the same quality of his grandmother’s skill.
It was certainly not impossible. But if Valgrind chooses to be a summoner and an enchanter, then it would mean he would have to give up on acquiring a warrior class to protect himself.
His father was adamant that he had to have a warrior class to enjoy the library and the best scholars in that land. His mind raced through his options when a thought struck him.
His future self did not fight! Instead, he focused on evasion while his summons dealt damage to the enemy and distracted them. Maybe he had chosen a rogue class to allow him to dance around the battlefield and minimize the need to recharge his robes.
Then it meant those three monsters were related to his unique ability and not the summoner class at all. At first, he thought that the unique ability had enhanced or directly boosted the power of the summoner class.
Now it looked like the unique ability was…
A road map to his future opened up in his mind. This scared him and excited him at the same time. Should he try to follow the path that the vision set or choose another?
Rothan Kun said the future could be changed, but the ability could not. Did that mean that this robe and the unnatural reflexes have to be part of his arsenal no matter what he did to change the future?
“Quit taking so long to tell me if you like the damn robe or not?”
Valgrind reeled his mind back to the present.
“I love it, Grandma!” Valgrind yelled as he hugged her for the last time.
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