(Please note, not edited/checked/PR-ed. You may run into a questionable grammar or tow. If you spot them, please let me in the comments. Thanks!!)
“No, no, no, no. Not like that!! Look, Lil’ Kain, you grip it like this, and swing it just like so. See? Like so!”
Emma impatiently swung a branch around in a practiced manner. All Kain could do was sigh and scratch the back of his head. “C’mon Emma. What were you expecting? I’m not even six yet, you know.”
Currently, they were at the edge of the forest, not too far from the desolate clearing surrounding the dead city. Due to Emma’s guidance Kain found the exit rather quickly, which turned out to be a crack in the city’s defensive ramparts big enough to let a person through on all fours.
The real exits, the grand archways built to demonstrate the city’s wealth, all had collapsed due to the passage of time and damages from the weather among other things, making it untraversable by normal means. So the only way in or out was either fly over the walls, or crawl through the openings.
Once out, none of the Golems appeared. Kain figured it was probably due to Emma being here with him. Whatever the case may be, as long as it was as uneventful as it had been so far, he’d be a very happy man.
As the two of them conversed, though, one thing led to another, until they arrived at this point. The point where Emma was teaching Kain on how to properly hold a weapon, like a shortsword. The branch was supposed to represent that.
How the heck did we get here?! I can’t even remember the chain of topics that led me till here. Did I get suckered in by her pace?
Kain smiled bitterly as Emma handed over the branch with a face like a stern school teacher admonishing a naughty kid.
Actually, he didn’t mind something like this. He had already acknowledged her as a far superior being than himself, so getting a tip or two sounded like a pretty good idea. As long as there was no string attached, obviously.
Gripping the branch as he was told, Kain lightly swung the branch, making a swish sound. It was a bit crisper than before, at least to his ears, so that was something. One more swing, and he got this strange feeling in his gut, something akin to an understanding of the unknown, maybe even an enlightenment.
Huh. Okay. So, maybe, if I use my wrist like this when I swing it….
Ohhh, would you look at that. Well, well, well. So that’s the trick, is it? This stuff is surprisingly easy!!
After figuring out that by manipulating his wrist a little while slashing the branch he could add a little more venom to it, he was rather pleased with his level of perceptiveness.
“See, I told you!! Your wrists, use your wrist a bit more, and everything works out, right?”
Emma chuckled proudly while checking out Kain’s repeated swings. Even to an untrained eye, his movement looked a bit more refined than before.
“Uhm, yeah. Sure thing.” Kain wryly smiled and nodded in agreement, not wanting to burst Emma’s bubbles by saying she never told him to use the wrists in the first place, that it was all him figuring it out by himself. No need for a sour face to cloud the happy occasions, really.
“Anyways, practice that non-stop for the next… uh, ten years, and you will be as good as me when I was six. I guarantee it!!”
Emma sounded quite proud of her assessment. Kain wasn’t as sure as she was, but what could he do? He didn’t want to learn some shoddy kung fu from a shady old man which might get him killed in the long run.
It’d be a big fat lie to say he didn’t regret running off in a huff. He knew he was being rash. He could go back and apologize. And, while doing all of that he could politely ask for an escort so he could leave the Tetamus Range safely.
But for some reason, whenever he remembered the smug face of the Old Man, he just wanted to punch the guy so badly, all of his thoughts got jumbled up in a total disarray.
He found that quite odd. Why did he feel like that? If looked at objectively, the Old Man hadn’t done anything to him. As a matter of fact, he sent Orion to watch over him during difficult times. Were it not for the fiery bird that sorta resembled a phoenix but wasn’t one, he’d be a poo of some large and toothy Fiend somewhere.
The only thing that didn’t gel was the motivation behind the Old Man and his drive to train him. Obviously, fighting false gods or whatever was completely out of the question.
Kain thought he had it all figured out. That he had come to grips with his situation. He was at peace with the fact that he was living a new life in a fantasy world full of magic and whatnots.
So he didn’t feel any antagonism toward the so-called false gods who may or may not be responsible for his new life here. As for the beef the Old Man had with them, he had nothing to do with that stuff after all. Besides, he wasn’t 100% convinced of the motivation behind the Old Man’s desire to fight the gods, now that he thought about it more rationally.
Oh, well. It’s not like I care, right? Me and him? That saga’s finished, as far as I’m concerned.
Even though he was distracted thinking about other things, Kain kept on swinging the branch in the same manner as before, until Emma, who was growing bored of doing nothing but watching him, decided to take a break.
“Alright, let’s stop for now, and rest. Otherwise, your arm might fall off.”
Emma’s words broke him out of his thoughts. Nodding his consent, Kain lowered the branch and as a test, moved his arm about, wanting to see if there was any change. Although he couldn’t actually feel it for sure, there seemed something definitely different about himself.
Or maybe he was just imagining things.
Emma pulled out a carrot from a bag she carried on the side and plopped down on the ground, urging him to sit next to her. Originally she didn’t have one when Kain ran into her, but as soon as he told her he was leaving, she went to her new home and fetched it. While she was at it, she blamed him for destroying her previous home, even if it was an accident.
She offered another carrot stick at him, which he accepted hesitantly. He wasn’t really hungry yet. Still, sitting around doing nothing sounded a bit…. boring, so he began chewing on it.
It was unexpectedly tough to chew.
“Hey, Emma. Where did you find this, uh, thing?”
“Oh, this? I found it in the forest a while ago. I liked the taste, so now I am growing them inside the city.”
“Oh. You grow anything else?”
“Yeah, lots of stuff. I don’t know names of them all, but they are all pretty tasty.”
Kain didn’t really find the carrot that good, but since it was possible his taste buds were adversely affected by the alleged meat buns so he couldn’t fully trust his senses just yet.
Talking about senses, Kain took a glance at Emma. She was chewing while contemplating something quite seriously. That much was easy to see as her frown was deep enough for a canal boat to wade through if it were filled with water. Complete exaggeration, obviously, but that’s how deep it looked to him anyway.
Also, he had to admit, the first time she was in total silence for an extended period of time.
Something else came up in his mind at this point. How can a chatterbox like her live alone in a city as big as that, all by herself? The Old Man would not make for a good company what with his personality, and the rest of the forest was filled with man-eating Fiends and other unfriendly creatures. She must have been quite lonely.
“How long have you been staying in the city?” asked Kain.
“Hmm? Oh, I don’t know. It’s been many, many years, but hmm, I am not sure really. You should ask the Old Master about it.”
“He and I came here together. Actually, he brought me here. I think he knew about this place before meeting me.”
“So, how do you pass the time when you’re, you know, all alone?”
Kain asked as he finished the carrot and dusted himself off the ground, ready to roll.
“At first? I was soooo bored, you have no idea. It was really really terrible. The absolute worst. In the history of the world, you will not find anything as boring as an empty city!!”
Emma puffed up and began trembling in anger all of a sudden as she recollected her initial memories of the city. Kain thought she was ready to blow a fuse or something, the way she was reddening up like that.
“Right, okay. Cool. So what did you do?”
“I wandered around, here and there. And guess what? I found lots of cool and interesting places hidden deep, deep inside the city. They are so well hidden, it’s nearly impossible to find them even with hundreds of people!!”
“Then how did you find them?” Kain asked her skeptically.
“Oh, that’s super easy. I’m from Boscage tribe, you see. Things hidden in the shadows, we can find them with our eyes closed. It’s true!!”
She nodded proudly as if she’d achieved something remarkable. Maybe she did. Maybe she did find some amazing heritage somewhere in the city’s underbelly.
“What did you find, then?”
“Old murals, paintings, books, the usual stuff. Lots of nice but old weapons, lots of weird, freaky items I’ve no idea what they are supposed to be. Those kinda things.”
Huh, is that right, Kain mused inwardly. Maybe I should’ve had taken a look at those before leaving. Hmm, is it too late to go back now?
He thought about going back quite seriously now. His mind was wavering. The mere mention of “nice weapons” had his ears perked up. He may be a kid, but still, equipping a sharp blade or two would do a world of good to his confidence. Especially if he was serious about traversing this forest and make his grand escape.
While he was dithering about, Emma got up and slapped him on his back. “Alright!! Time to get a move on. Forward!!”
“Hey, wait a sec. Where are we going anyway? Do you even know where we are headed to?” Kain asked hastily, while trying to regain his lost balance. His arms flailed about for a brief moment or two, before he was able to stand straight.
“Of course!! All you have to do is believe in your big martial arts sis!! I won’t lead you astray, you’ll see!!”
Emma gave him an imperious, I-know-everything type of look, as she stood with her legs slightly apart, her hands on hips, in what could only be described as a heroic pose.
“Huh? My martial art sis? What do you mean by that?”
Confused at the foreign term, he asked for some clarification. If it was nothing than a term of endearment, then it was all good. But if not….
“I’m your big sis, because we learned from the same master. That’s why. At least, I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. Am I right?”
“Eh? You also learned kung fu from that Old Man?” Kain was surprised, both inwardly and outwardly.
“Yep. That sword move I showed you? That’s from the Old Master.”
Kain ruefully chuckled as he couldn’t help but notice the sleight of hand played by the fate here. He thought he had escaped from the accursed future of not fighting the gods or whatever by not learning a thing from the crazed old fool, but now, he has received a bit of his knowledge, albeit in a second hand fashion. Still, it was a “passing down” one way or the other.
Oh, c’mon. Surely, this much is fine, right? I mean, there’s just no way this counts as that. No way.
So off they went. further into the forest even though his heart was wavering this way and that.
Occasionally, Emma made him hide and remain dead still, while a huge Fiend sauntered by. The so-called encounter rate wasn’t too high but hell, almost every single one they did run into could easily be classified as an end-of-level boss. If it weren’t for Emma’s great skills in blending in with the scenery, he’d be dead many times over.
This feeling of smallness, of being totally helpless felt rather familiar to him by now. Naught he could do about it, unless….
Unless he got a bit more stronger.
When this line of thoughts crept in, he wanted to tear his hair out in frustration. He didn’t want to learn martial arts from the Old Man. No guarantee he’d become strong as he said he would. And just how long that process of becoming a kung fu master might take? He simply didn’t want to waste his life in here. Besides, that threat of a showdown with the false gods loomed too large in his mind. He couldn’t ignore that. That was the biggest reason he didn’t want to learn.
His thoughts were mixed up, with no clarity in sight no matter how hard he tried. He couldn’t even ignore the small, bickering voices fighting with each other over this definitely life altering decision.
Like this, the two of them traveled forward, slowly but surely.
On the second day however, something bad happened that made up his mind for him.
The progress halted more often than not as they left the city behind, further and further away. The number of strong Fiends increased dramatically, almost to a point where it was nigh on impossible to travel unnoticed.
In the encounter that matterd, the two of them ran into a huge humanoid Fiend with six arms. It was as tall as a certain well-known Mech from a long-running Japanese anime franchise, had a dull gray skin like an armoring on a tank, and a row of viciously sharp fangs ready to devour any and all prey unlucky enough to cross paths with it. It had no nose but a pair of prominent nostrils that sniffed the air constantly. Worse still, it had eyes on the back of its head, literally. It had a total of six eyes, one for each of its arms, Kain supposed.
It emitted such a terrifying aura, even Emma tensed up when she sensed its approach. And she rarely tensed up.
When they encountered it, the gigantic Fiend was locked in a mortal combat with another creature, the two managing to destroy the surroundings like a pair of wild bulls in a China shop. Trees were leveled, blood flew off everywhere, the ground was gouged out. The giant Fiend used a powerful ray of something out of its mouth, scorching the earth and everything with it.
The unlucky recipient of that blast was a flightless bird like creature, another giant Fiend with an impressive set of antlers and razor-sharp talons at the tips of its wings. It didn’t lose to the six armed Fiend in terms of sheer physical strength, but that, uh, energy blast done it in. It was too fast an attack to dodge.
And as a result, the victor was set. The prize was the meat of the loser.
Kain felt slightly sick watching the giant chow down the burnt and smelling flesh of the bird-like Fiend with wild abandon. Emma signaled to him that they should move, clearly not minding the grisly sight in front of her. Of course he agreed with her suggestion immediately.
They didn’t go far away from there before Emma froze up on the spot. She felt a strong resonance coming from the forest, a sign of a massively powerful Fiend on the move. What’s more, it was headed directly to where they were.
Kain couldn’t sense it just yet. He wasn’t as developed as Emma was. But if he did sense what was causing all that sweat to fall off her, then he’d understand too.
Before long, the ground rumbled. This rumbling reminded Kain of one particular Fiend he didn’t want to meet, no matter the circumstances.
Hastily, Kain looked around for a place to hide. None met his strict criteria of providing an adequate shelter. So he had half a mind to dig a hole and jump in there, dragging Emma with him.
However, digging a deep enough hole would take time, and judging by the way the rumbling rapidly increased, Kain just knew he had no time. He exchanged a glance at Emma, who looked as pale as ice.
Grimacing at this turn of events, Kain just grabbed the Elf and they dived into a thicket nearby, hoping to use that as a cover while they crawled to safety. Her bow nearly got caught in the branches, but she was quick witted enough to free herself out of it before she got tangled in it.
By this time, the six armed Fiend also noticed the rumbling, and stopped its feast. Looking at the direction where the disturbance was coming from, it roared threateningly, chunks of bloodied entrails falling out of its mouth. The cause of the rumbling returned the roar in kind.
When that roar hit Kain’s eardrums, his memories got triggered. He remembered this roar. It was from that crimson dragon-like Fiend.
A cold chill ran down his back. Out of all the Fiends populating this accursed forest, that Fiend was the very last thing he wanted to see, even less than that of the smug face of the Old Man.
Sure enough, the familiar head of the crimson Fiend burst out of the dense forestation like an explosion of TNT, emerging out into the open. Kain knew the Fiend only ran off from the extended assaults from the numerous Golems, but to see it not even hurting slightly from that fight made his heart sink to the very bottom.
But that was the least of his problems.
The moment Emma saw the crimson Fiend, she muttered a single word, before her eyes glazed over in fear, her body trembling like a wet puppy.
She said, “Wyrm.”
The Wyrm easily dwarfed the six armed Fiend. Even its fierce countenance looked scared now, its six arms rising up in a defensive posture. Kain couldn’t tell how this fight would go, but whatever the case may be, he didn’t feel like waiting around to find out.
“C’mon, Emma. Let’s get out of here. Come on, snap out of it!!”
Kain whispered urgently at Emma, who have completely lost all control of her self. She simply gazed on at the Fiend, her eyes glazed over. There was even a hint of tears in her eyes too.
She then proceeded to hug her knees and plopped down on the ground, terrified out of her mind. This shocked Kain more than he thought it might.
She had been unflappable until this point. She didn’t hesitate in her actions, she was precise in her movements, and most of all, she knew when to take an appropriate action.
Yet, here she was, an emotional wreck, unable to move from her spot.
And it got even worse.
The necklace on her neck began to emit an eerie crimson glow. More correctly, the dull, ruby-like gemstone that hung on a cheap leather string around her neck did.
The emission of light grew stronger in a blink. It was too fast for him to react. Panicking, he rushed in, trying to grab the necklace with his open palm. The idea was to hide the light-emitting gemstone inside his hands.
He was mere inches away from grasping it, when an outward explosion of Aeterna knocked him off his feet, throwing him backward like a stuntman from an action movie. Kain nearly cried out in shock and pain.
The light show and the Aeterna explosion attracted the attention of both the Wyrm and the six-armed Fiend towards where Emma was kneeling. As for Kain, he was tumbling backward into some bushes, blood oozing out of the corners of his mouth, his innards in deep turmoil and his energy going haywire.
He felt like all his blood flow reversed and was trying to reenter his heart, thereby causing a cardiac arrest or something similar. Suffice to say, it hurt like hell.
When he finally stopped tumbling through the sharp and pointy branches he vomited out a mouthful of blood, before falling face first on the dirt with a thud. Every time he took a ragged breath, the dust of the forest floor swept up and some entered his nostrils, stinging him even further.
As his mind cleared, he recognized this incredibly painful sensation. After all, this was not the first time he had experienced it. In fact, this was his second time that he got blasted with Aeterna like this.
Back when he entered the underground chamber of the World Tree, the thick and pervading Aeterna flowed all around him and formed into various shapes of animals. One of them roared and gave him a similar internal injury.
Compared to that, though, this one was a dozen times worse. He couldn’t even sit up, nor even move. He was literally licking the dirt, just like the Old Man had said before.
It felt like every bone in his body was broken. It felt like both his lungs have ruptured. It felt like his brain had turned into a mush. Yet, his vision was remarkably clear.
In his vision, he saw the two giant Fiends trying to approach Emma who remained rooted in her spot, still kneeling and hugging her knees.
In his vision, he saw the two giant Fiends starting a fierce battle against each other, seemingly trying to claim Emma as the prize.
In his vision, he saw the Wyrm tear off one of the arms of the Giant, making it no longer a six-armed, but five-armed instead.
In his vision, the fight intensified, the destruction caused by the two giant Fiends increasing in its radius.
The Wyrm swiped its massive tail out like a baseball pitcher going for a home run. The five-armed Giant caught the tail, but ended up throwing up a mouthful of black blood. The impact pushed the Giant back, causing the ground to gouge out and starting a minor earthquake and a tempest of fierce wind.
Emma was swept up by the wind, and was flung away. She didn’t even scream.
Kain watched, his eyes bloodshot, as the Elf flew and smashed into a broad trunk of the tree, completely shattering it. Amongst all the flying debris, he lost sight of her.
No!! Damn it!!
Anger swelled up in his heart, pushing down the bone-shaking fear until it was pretty much forgotten. He wanted to make a mincemeat out of those two Fiends, but he couldn’t even lift his finger.
No, I can stand. I can, and I will!!
Gritting his teeth, Kain somehow forced his arms to slide under his torso and support his weight. Every muscle, every ligament and every bone in his body creaked and moaned in pain. Yet, through nothing more than sheer willpower, he managed to sit up.
Now what? What can I do?!
Kain grimaced as the stabbing pain almost laid him flat again. Enduring it all, he kept on pushing himself until he was on his feet, swaying from side to side like a drunkard. His vision clouded over as blood from a cut on his forehead flowed down on his eyes.
He raised his hands to wipe away the blood only to see the two Fiends still engaged in a mortal combat. However, Kain now could see the Wyrm had a small advantage. As for how he could discern that, he wasn’t quite sure, just his gut feeling telling him so.
He also noticed a burn mark on his palm. It was jet black, it stung, and was still smoldering like a fresh brand.
However, in front of his widening eyes, the brand, the burn mark, slowly morphed its form, its outline…. until it became a bird!!
Through it, Kain felt an enormous amount of Aeterna converging from the nature surrounding him and trying to flow inside his body. That was just as painful as him getting struck with another Aeterna explosion. Stupefied, he didn’t know what was going on, nor what to do with this bizarre mark.
Before long, there was so much Aeterna swirling and entering him, the ground began to crack apart, and the air started to boil. His long, unkempt hair stood up on the end, so did his ruined tunic, lifting up in the air as if there was some kind of updraft around him.
Kain felt power like he’d never ever felt it. It was intoxicating and horrifying at the same time. His thirst for power exploded, and he began to laugh maniacally. Even his voice changed, sounding distorted and deep like a monster’s.
He didn’t notice any of that. No, what he noticed was his perception increasing to an alarming degree. He could perceive every minute strand and wave of Aeterna flowing in nature. He could discern every little detail of each and all of those strands. And if he willed, he felt like he could control them. The more he looked, more he was sure of this.
On top of that, he began to perceive another form of energy, hidden well beneath the flowing Aeterna, and much harder to spot. It was colorless, formless, shapeless, yet full of vitality.
Is that… is that ch’i?!
Kain suddenly gained an enlightenment. He knew, instinctively, that strange energy was the ch’i of the Nature, an invisible thread that held the heaven and earth together.
When he reached out, just a tiny bit of it floated and entered him, nourishing him in an instant. When it did, his vision cleared up, his injuries hurt less, and he understood even more than he did before.
What he understood was that, this boost in power and perception wouldn’t last. His body wouldn’t be able to bear it for much longer. He needed to release it, or else.
But if he did, then all he gained right at this moment would be lost. His enlightenment, his ability to perceive ch’i, all of it would be gone.
He didn’t hesitate. His choice was an obvious one from the start. He’d use up this temporary power up to kick some serious ass.
His increasing aura caused a brief halt to the deadly fight between the Wyrm and the five-armed giant. Both their eyes grew even ruthless as they stared at him, avaricious hunger all too visible in their eyes. Now they wanted to devour him at all cost no matter what.
Through the temporary clarity, he knew he couldn’t possibly take both of the Fiends even with this power up. He needed to become even more stronger than now. That was the only way to survive this ordeal. Good thing, he knew exactly what options were available to him at this very moment.
Kain reached up and called out. “Orion!! Get your butt over here, right now!!”
His voice boomed out, sending out ripples of power that didn’t lose to either of the giant Fiends. When his perception increased, he also spotted Orion the Roc hatchling not too far away, as well as another type of sense observing the battle scene.
Kain figured that sense belonged to the Old Man, the smug bastard observing and doing nothing again. This pissed him off much, and an idea formed in his head on how to mess with the crazy old fool.
Since he seemed to cherish that bird, Kain would naturally abuse it and gain an extra boost of power.
His voice reached Orion, who was watching the whole thing develop with a grim expression. But when the ripples contained in the voice entered its brain, it froze up, losing all sentient will. Instead, it quickly flew down to where Kain was, and landed on his outstretched hand.
Kain roared out like a primordial beast, his energy surging. This feeling of power intoxicated him, inundating his logic like a golden honey drizzled over the finest pancake ever made. This power and him went so well together, it was as if they were meant for each other.
The moment he realized this, one more amazing thing happened. Suddenly, a small void opened up in his lower belly. This void was invisible, and did not exist in the physical realm. If one cut open Kain’s belly now, it wouldn’t be there. Yet, he clearly sensed it opening.
This change was accompanied by Orion dissolving into a form of pure flame-like energy.
Kain’s body, without a prompt from him, absorbed this energy. It burned through all his nerves, his blood vessels, his marrows, and settled down on this open space, merging with it as a single entity.
When it did, the surge in power went through the proverbial roof. His entire body was now enveloped in a pure crimson flame-like aura, burning away his clothes and everything around him in a 10 Ruten radius.
With his clothes all burnt away, his body was now in full view, and even more shockingly, now on his back a mural of a grand, magnificent Roc wrapped in Eternal Flames appeared. It was so vivid, as if the Roc depicted was alive, and ready to take flight at any given moment.
This Roc lifted its head and cawed. At its call, the heaven ceased turning over, the air stopped circulating, and the time came to a grinding halt. Even the two Fiends trembled in fear.
The sunlight faded and the overwhelming darkness blanketed the entire world. The only source of light was Kain and the Eternal Flame burning as his aura.
He slowly raised his hand, and pointed his index finger at the two Fiends. He spoke softly, but his voice was no longer his.
The Roc cawed again from his back.
Suddenly, the ground rumbled like a magnitude 9 earthquake. The air sizzled, boiling and hissing as if it was water trapped in a pot.
If they had hairs, the Wyrm and the five-armed giant would’ve felt theirs standing on end, as the indescribable deathly chills caressed their cheeks like a graceful lady grim reaper might do.
It was at this point when the Wyrm decided to chicken out. It valued its life more than an opportunity to devour a creature that possessed such a strong connection to the Ether. Its long life had ensured it that a certain instinct to prioritize survival take root in its heart.
Might as well, because as soon as the Wyrm turned tail and began to run, a two hundred meter-large Roc made up of pure flames broke out from the rumbling ground. It cawed aggressively and flew directly towards the giant and the fleeing Wyrm.
The resulting explosion was even heard in Somerset, a hundred of miles away. It was so powerful, in fact, even the Old Man, who was sure enough observing via his Yi Hai, was deeply shocked and impressed by the ferocity and the scale. It wasn’t strong enough to take down a false god, no, but it sure was powerful enough to destroy a God Remnant if it were hit directly in the face.
The Old Man was delighted, of course. This result exceeded his estimation. Who knew there was such a secret in the boy’s…. physiology. With a right type of nurturing, not even the heaven could oppose this kid at his full flight, let alone a puny false god or two.
Meanwhile, out in the forest, the world was burning down. Nothing in front of Kain remained. Not a thing, not even a blade of grass. The absolute darkness that blocked the sunlight was fading away, and as the light returned to the world, the air once more began moving as well.
The five-armed giant was burnt to a smoldering heap, and so was the vegetation around the explosion site. However, the Wyrm survived, just, and was fleeing at its top speed, not even bothering to look back.
If it did, then it would have seen Kain limply falling back on the ground, unconscious. The mural of the majestic Roc slowly faded away, the aura of Eternal Flames dissipating away.
And right next to the boy, Orion materialized as the last of the Flames disappeared. The bird looked quite confused, quickly looking around and trying to figure out what just had happened while it was distracted.
Orion didn’t notice the open space in Kain’s belly closing up. But surprisingly, it didn’t close completely, and a tiny sliver, not even a 1/100th of its original size rapidly filled with ch’i that hadn’t escaped from the boy. The open space began to gently and quietly hum away and slowly filled him with restorative power.
Orion was utterly confused. It could not figure out what happened here. It sensed a shocking amount of Fire-type Aeterna all over the site of destruction but as to what caused such a scary scenery, where the earth was scorched right in front of it in the radius of dozens and dozens of Rutens, it had no clue.
Orion didn’t even contemplate Kain as the culprit. The thought didn’t even enter its mind, not even once.
After searching for a bit, there was nothing more he could do, so it swept down to the heap of the giant Fiend, and rummaged through the ashes until it found a large gray pearl the size of a child’s fist. It cawed happily and embraced it like a lover, before throwing suspicious looks around to make sure no one saw what it was doing.
However, Orion couldn’t do anything, as out of nowhere, the vine people from the Tetamus fort popped out from the ground and began carrying Kain and Emma back to the city. It heard its master’s call, telling it to hurry back.
Reluctantly, Orion took flight, the glittering pearl reflecting the crisp late summer sunlight.
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