Chapter 25: Breaking the Curse

“Yes, I did, but that’s not why I am here.”

 

Being the wary person he was, Darius did not take kindly to the fact that an old man he did not know could just randomly barge into his room like this. However, nothing was more important than his life, so he put all his thoughts aside and quickly put on his most respectful expression.

 

“Respected Elder, I am honored by the sudden visit. I truly am. The fact that one as profound as you would take the time to visit little old me is an honor beyond comprehension.”

 

The sudden flip in Darius’s demeanor stunned the old man.

 

“However, I am in urgent need of my hammer and would be indebted to you if you could let me have it.”

 

The old man burst into a fit of laughter after realizing Darius’s true intentions. After calming himself down, he pushed the floating bubble forward.

 

“You mean this hammer?”

 

Darius nodded.

 

“Indeed, Sir, that very hammer.”

 

The old man stared at Darius.

 

“You intend to use it right now?”

 

“Indeed, wise sage.”

 

Darius nodded his head like a chicken pecking corn.

 

“To finish your daily quota.”

 

Darius nodded profusely.

 

“Exactly! To finish my… to finish my… eh?”

 

Darius’s face instantly became ugly to behold. He realized that this had been the second time the old man had made a suggestive statement.

 

The old man started stroking his beard while saying, “In my youth, I once heard rumor of such an interesting curse. One that required a hammer just like this one.”

 

Darius stepped back wearily. “Uhm, really? Isn’t that interesting?”

 

“Yes, really.” The old man chortled. “It was an odd curse. One had to use a hammer such as this one to strike an anvil a certain amount of times daily. Unless the daily quota was reached, the curse’s flare would kick in.”

 

Darius nervously gulped as he pulled at his collar. “Is that so?”



“Yes, I believe it was so.” The old man grinned mischievously and continued, “The flare was quite nasty. It would cause an incredible heat to spread throughout the bones of the cursed.”

 

Darius nervously laughed and said, “What would happen after that?”

 

The old man feigned a thinking posture before saying, “It was said that the heat would start in one’s bone marrow, before spreading to the muscles and blood. Eventually, it would become a scorching heat that could torture even the most sturdy of minds to insanity.”

 

Darius swallowed his saliva so hard it was audible throughout the whole room. “Scorching?”

 

“Yes, young man. Scorching. The heat would spread to the soul, preventing one from sleeping or fainting. After countless hours of torture, the heat would ignite flames, flames so hot that they could even burn the soul into nothing, preventing reincarnation. Everything within a thousand miles would be burned into nothingness,” said the old man with unusual fervor.

 

“Torture? Flames? Soul? Re-reincarnation?” Darius squealed as he tripped back, his backside touching the ground.

 

The old man’s face turned grave. “Indeed, this was an incredibly vicious curse created by a cruel Spiritsmith to train his recruits. His name was Pretorius; thus, it was named the Pretorius Curse.”

 

Darius started sweating bullets. All he had known was that scalding heat would cover his body and kill him, but he had never known that the consequences would be so dire.

 

This is not possible. How could something so cruel exist? How could a curse like that exist? Was Pretorius so bored that he just had to mess with our lives? What will I do?

 

Darius gripped his head in despair. He started madly pulling at his hair as his mind went into overdrive.

 

“Ehem.”

 

The old man cleared his throat, bringing Darius out of his stupor.

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“Young man, I am sure you know how to break the curse. Why don’t you tell this old man? I may be able to assist you.”

 

Darius looked up at the old man’s eye. This seemingly harmless old man had a child-like passion burning within his eyes.

 

Darius immediately felt like a woman being stared at by a rapist. He unconsciously covered his body and asked, “Why should I trust you? What’s in this for me?”

 

Darius was scared, but he was not stupid. The matron’s teachings were torturous, but they had deeply ingrained themselves in his mind. That, coupled with his cowardice and his recent encounter with Lionel, made him raise his guard up against strangers because he knew that even seemingly benign intentions could conceal secrets far more nefarious.

 

“Relax, young man. This old man is harmless. Here is your hammer. Time is running out; the day’s almost over. You should get started.” The old man waved his hand, resulting in the bubble landing on the ground. The hammer that was within was released, propping itself up against the wall.

 

Darius jumped up in fright. He realized that time was indeed running out. It was dark outside, and midnight was fast approaching. Ignoring the gaze of the old man, he quickly picked up the hammer. Darius was stunned for a second. The moment he picked up the hammer, he realized something was different. The hammer felt more familiar as if it were an extension of his arm.

 

It was a piece of metal, but Darius felt inextricably connected to it. If the hammer had had so much as a chip come off, Darius believed he would have felt it.

 

Darius shrugged these thoughts away and focused on the task at hand. With practiced ease, he brought the anvil out and placed it on a spacious area. Just as he was about to make his first strike, he hesitated. He glanced at the old man.

 

The old man calmly stroked his beard and laughed. With a wave of his hand, something in the room changed. Darius wasn’t quite sure what it was, but he knew that something was different. He looked at the old man inquisitively.

 

“At ease, young man. Just a simple soundproofing spell. No one outside this room will hear a thing,” The old man said smiling.

 

If he was a serial killer, I would have sh*at myself right now. Wait, how do I know he doesn’t want to kill me?

 

Darius sighed in resignation and raised his hammer. One form of death was definite.



Damn it all.

 

Boom

 

Damn this crappy life.

 

Boom

 

Damn this crappy hammer.

 

Boom

 

Damn this crappy fate.

 

Boom

 

Damn this crappy old man.

 

Boom

 

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Damn my crappy fate.

 

Boom

 

“Damn it all!”

 

The last words were not thoughts. They were shouted out. The old man could not help but be impressed by Darius’s smooth and practiced motions.

 

The sages were not wrong when they said that ‘only sweat does not lie.’

 

Each strike of the hammer seemed independent to the untrained eye, but the old man knew otherwise. Each motion was carefully calculated and smoothly launched, almost rhythmically connected to the previous strike. Making use of the rebounding force from the previous impact, Darius would raise his hammer, bringing it down along an exact arc, hitting the same spot, at the same speed, in the same manner, along with the same trajectory.

 

From start to finish, each and every strike Darius performed was exactly the same. The old man was gobsmacked. He had seen Darius’s work before, but it had not been at this level.

 

Could this boy have broken through mentally?



The old man was a Master Spiritsmith whose name thundered across the whole realm. No one who used a smiter did not know of his achievements. If the old man dared call himself the second best Spiritsmith on the continent, few would dare claim they were the best.

 

Yet, achieving what Darius had just done, performing ten thousand strikes that were exactly the same without fault, was something he had only been able to achieve when he was in his fifties!

 

This was not a mere question of precision. One had to breathe the same way, use the same precise grip, and exert the same force. One would need to have heaven-defying control over their body and extreme strength. This state where one had complete control of their body while working was called the Refinement Realm by Spiritsmiths. Right now, Darius was a bonafide Refinement Realm master.



While the old man was lost in thought, Darius felt a heat wave sweep throughhis body. It was one he was quite familiar with; except that, this time, something was different. The heat suddenly changed into a cooling wave that spread throughout his whole body.

 

It was such a pleasurable experience that Darius could not help but groan. This was truly unexpected. Magical runes suddenly appeared on his skin. The runes were incredibly small but taken together, they resembled chains that covered Darius from head to toe.

 

In a few seconds, the chains started to break, disappearing into the void. The moment they all disappeared, Darius could feel that something inside his body was different. Darius looked at his arms, trying to figure out what had happened, but the old man beat him to the punch.

 

“Congratulations, young man. You have broken a part of the curse!”

- my thoughts:

Well, I've got some chapters. Sorry for the long delay. Hopefully, we can get a bunch out soon! 

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