(Please note, not edited/checked/PR-ed. You may run into a questionable grammar or two. If you spot them, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!!)
Kain felt somewhat rather strange at this very moment.
As he sat on the stone bed inside a room in the Tetamus fort and covered in bandages from head to toe, he felt several conflicting emotions enter his mind, trying to gain dominance over other thoughts. It really was an incongruous feeling, indeed.
The very first thing he felt was a bitter emptiness when he tried to recall the awesome power he experienced. He couldn’t remember. No, that’s not quite right – he remembered being inundated with this otherworldly power, and using this power to overcome the obstacles in front of him. But for the life of him, he could not recall what it was like to live through it.
It was as if he was only there as a mere bystander, looking through a TV screen. Thus, he felt empty and distant.
The second thing was confusion, something the Old Man was responsible for. After all, he told Kain about the slight possibility that he might, just might, reacquire that very power if he stay put and train. So the confusion arose in his heart, because the next two emotions fought over each other.
The third emotion he felt was a desire that bubbled up dangerously like a boiling magma. A desire to regain what he had tasted, grasped and controlled only to have it taken away from him. He subconsciously desired to get it all back. To feel that power and to bathe in it, to revel in it. He desired all of that.
And the final emotion was reluctance. He was reluctant to believe the Old Man’s words. More than that, he was reluctant to tread the path that could lead to his eventual demise. If you knew where the road would end – a dead end – then why should you walk on it? Why not try to find another way?
The power Kain wielded in that brief moment left an indelible mark on his psyche. It was like a powerful drug, intoxicating his senses and overwhelming his logic. He desperately wanted to relive those moments again.
“Well? Have you made up your mind or not?”
The Old Man grinned slyly, as he leaned forward on his vine stool. His eyes carefully studied Kain’s face, tracking every minute change in the boy’s emotional state.
Kain gritted his teeth. What choice was there for him to make? The moment he was given a taste of that power, the point of no return was reached for him. Even his reluctance, his fear of the future could not dissuade him from walking on this path. That was it.
So, all he could do for now was to nod and show his consent. “Yes. Let’s.”
Uttering those two words took a lot out of Kain. Because he realized what saying them meant – that he’d willingly stay in this forest for however long it would take him to regain that power. That meant he’d not try to go back Riverfield, to his parents in this world, to the comfy life he dreamed of having.
It was a big commitment to make.
The Old Man’s grin grew wider. He slapped his knee pleased, and stood up. “Good. Good. Give your self completely to the training program I’ll set up for you. Don’t waver and fight for every inch, and you’ll be able to mount the ultimate summit sooner than you think!! That much I guarantee it.”
Yeah, well. Whatever. Kain sighed weakly.
His body ached and throbbed, like there was no tomorrow. It had been a week since that fateful day, and a full three days since he had woken up, but this pain did not lessen with the passage of the time. Instead, it felt like it was only getting stronger.
“Your body is going through a metamorphosis, that’s why. You need to endure until it’s complete,” said the Old Man. “A human body begins to…. solidify, when it reaches a bone marrow age of ten years old. Luckily, you are not yet six, which is perfect. Now I can remold you the way it’s supposed to be. Just perfect.”
Chuckling, the Old Man stood up. Waving his hand grandly, he continued.
“For now, rest up and recover. We’ll start training right away.”
As he headed for the door, Kain asked for Emma’s condition. The last thing he remembered was seeing her hit a tree, disappearing into the dust storm.
When he temporarily gained that amazing power, he could sense the flames of her life force flickering away like a candle in a tempest as if he had developed an internal radar of some kind. That’s how he knew she didn’t die.
“She’s fine. That girl is tougher than she looks. She’s resting now, something you should do, too.”
Then the Old Man left promptly, not even giving Kain another chance to ask other questions. Questions such as, how did he come to acquire that kind of power in the first place?
Kain silently mulled over. His deductions all pointed towards the mysterious ruby-like gemstone in Emma’s necklace. That thing began glowing when the crimson Wyrm suddenly showed up on the scene. Before that, she was frozen in a debilitating fear the kind Kain hadn’t seen before. Only in the movies, maybe.
Can’t be a coincidence, Kain mused to himself, wondering what could be the connection here.
He tried to think a bit more, but his head hurt, and so, he went to sleep. That was easier said than done, though.
Katrina was sitting on a chair by a long and quiet corridor where only a distant murmurs could be heard. She was grumbling inwardly, slightly dissatisfied with some things that had happened so far. Next to her, Lizbeth and Kaleena sat, waiting for a door next to them to open and welcome them in.
She was grumbling because of the results from the Festival of Soaring Will. And what it said was crystal clear – Kaleena was a freak of nature.
Truthfully, little Katrina already knew very well that her younger cousin was indeed a stupendously gifted girl, a fact she had to acknowledge regardless of the cost to her pride. Just that, by working hard she thought that just maybe, she could close the existing gap between the two of them.
Alas, it seemed all her hard work for the past two and a bit years was somewhat in vain.
The test results have clearly demonstrated Kaleena’s supreme compatibility with all things Aeterna. Nominally, she had four Elemental Affinities, but it was also proven that she had what was described as Quasi-Affinities with all the others.
A Quasi-Affinity meant an Invoker could utilize the Element to more than three quarters of the potential while a full Affinity would be able to draw out all of the effects. Others without any Affinities whatsoever to that particular Element, like Katrina, it would be considered an accomplishment if she could utilize around a half.
The day this incredible talent was announced, three of the sitting grand Elders of SOIR came down to see Kaleena. She became a big news in the Academy overnight. Some even went as far as saying that she was the second coming of the fabled One Sorcerer. This claim made Katrina grumble even more.
The legend of the One Sorcerer was not well known outside of the SOIR’s circle of Invokers. But those who knew, or at least heard about it, understood the implications of such a claim, the weight that carried.
Of course, being the daughter of a former Capital noble, Katrina had heard about the fearsome entity that was the One Sorcerer before, although nothing more than that of a bedtime lullaby sung to her by her mother, then later by the nanny.
Every Invoker dreamed of becoming this One Sorcerer at least once in his or her lifetime. Even though the actual person had lived in the ancient times, nowadays it was more like a symbol, an ideal, a goal that all Invokers strove for.
The One Sorcerer, truly at one in mind and soul with Aeterna, wielding it with absolutely no restrictions at all, capable of summoning up every imaginable spell there ever was. A figure of true legend, surpassing the highest of Invoker ranking currently recognized by SOIR, that was the One Sorcerer.
And now, to think, Kaleena was being compared to that legendary figure. Of course Katrina couldn’t help but grumble, although she’d never do that publicly. She had too much class for that. Her father made sure to instill such important mannerisms in her.
Right now, the three of them were waiting for the fitting of uniforms. Infused with a specialized Invocation, the fabric was designed to grow with its wearer. Once a student was measured and fitted, he or she had no need to find another uniform unless it was ruined in some way, or changed the learning institutions.
The uniforms they were going to get denoted the district the two girls would study in, named Elder Emeritus Kobus District which was where kids aged ten and younger were sent to.
Within it, there were dozen schools there, arranged in a way to separate those with clearly superior talents from those who didn’t.
Either by a good fortune or rotten luck, Katrina was to enter the same school as Kaleena. Her talents were considered above average, bordering on a genius level, even. Normally, she’d be treated as a star but, with her cousin around, it all seemed a bit ordinary to say the least.
Hence, them waiting in the same corridor, in order to get the same uniforms.
There were a few days left before the official start of the school curriculum, and most of the kids accepted had in fact finished with their preparations, Katrina and Kaleena being the exceptions. For the last couple days Lizbeth led the two around in a mad dash trying to get everything sorted and it was so tiring. One more reason to grumble about, Katrina supposed.
“Hmm. The people before us sure are taking a long time,” sighed Lizbeth, as she took a glance towards the hourglass set up at the end of the corridor. It was an Invocation Tool designed to flip around at the sound of the hourly bell.
Seeing the dripping sand, she estimated that they have been sitting here for the past hour. They still had things to do after the fittings were complete, so this wastage of precious time was not helpful at all to the schedule she had in mind.
Deciding to stay patient for a little longer, she turned to the kids and asked if they were alright. The girls grumbled, one from boredom and the other from a mixture of emotions, but ultimately they answered that they were fine.
Lizbeth was about to suggest reciting on Invocation spells’ Requisite Words to pass the time when without a signal the door to the outfitters opened suddenly.
Through the open doorway, a throng of people emerged, at least fifteen strong in number. Even Lizbeth’s eyebrow twitched slightly, as she realized that most of these people were servants and only the two were not. As a matter of fact, those two, a mother and a daughter not any older than Katrina, were nobles of a high peerage. The pompous air they carried was a dead giveaway. The servants were carrying a massive amount of wrapped luggage, all of them seemingly that of the uniforms for the girl.
No wonder they took so long, Lizbeth mulled sourly. Ordering that many outfits for her own child…. How envious.
The older noblewoman paid a slight, nonchalant glance at Lizbeth and the two children, before walking past them in an elegant way. But her daughter hesitated a little.
When the eyes of this pompous little noble girl set upon Katrina, a look of recognition flashed past, before a sneer of disdain formed on her lips.
Katrina’s expression darkened in an instant as she too recognized who this was.
The young noble girl then whispered something to her mother, which was followed by another look of surprise and then of a sneer, this time from the older woman.
“Well, isn’t it a delightful shock to see you here, Miss Katrina Septima Lomax? How have you been? It’s been ages since last I had the pleasure of your company.”
The pompous little noble girl mockingly spoke, her tone dripping with sarcasm.
Katrina did her very best to suppress her swelling anger, and just a tiny bit of shame which she couldn’t really understand why she felt it in this moment. Still, she managed to paint a fake smile on her face and curtsied like a proper lady.
“How are you, Lady Patricia Benedict Henson, Lady Almeria Benedict Henson? It has been a long time.”
“Oh, no need to be modest,” said the younger of the Benedict Henson girl, Almeria. She brought a white gloved hand over to her mouth and spoke as if she was slightly mortified. “I do apologize, it seems I’ve forgotten to inquire about your fate after the unfortunate incident of your father. There were many other things, you see. Please, do forgive me, this once.”
“Yes, do forgive my dear. She could be rather forgetful, when faced with so many important prior engagements.”
Almeria’s mother, Patricia butted in, also carrying a sneer in her eyes. Then, she swept her gaze over to Lizbeth and Kaleena. She didn’t recognize them, but that didn’t stop her from having a low evaluation of the two standing near Katrina.
The reasoning was simple enough – their clothes were shabby at best, and atrocious at worst. Even though Lizbeth was a clearly a beautiful woman that made Patricia slightly jealous, in the end the woman from the Benedict Henson family deemed it unnecessary to remember anything about the her.
Still, etiquette dictated that she should at least enquire a name. “Oh, pardon my behavior. I am Lady Patricia Benedict Henson, wife of the Earl of West Skrife Valley, Sir Alfred Benedict Henson.”
“Well met, Lady Patricia. My name is Lady Lizbeth Ravenswood Lomax, wife of Baron of Riverfield, Sir Damien Lucius Lomax. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Lizbeth maintained a neutral face as she offered a standard greeting. In her heart, she could already sense a potential disaster brewing here if she didn’t tread carefully. A disaster for her daughter and Katrina, that was.
“Oh, you’re his wife. I see. Well, I do have to say, in my humble opinion you’re wasted in a backwater territory like Riverfield. With your looks, and the rumored talent in Invocation, you could have had considerable fame and fortune here in the Capital. What a pity.”
That wasn’t enough to ruffle Lizbeth’s feathers. Not enough barbs there. Instead, she answered with a flat voice. “Not necessarily, Lady Patricia. The Capital is vast and filled with many more talented individuals than I. There is no guarantee I could have done anything exceptional here.”
“That is indeed true,” smirked Patricia, before her eyes settled on Kaleena, She cocked an eyebrow slightly, wondering why she was feeling on guard so suddenly when she looked at this little girl’s face. It was as if she should have remembered something about her, yet had forgotten completely due to not paying any attention. Or maybe she was too stupid and conceited to care.
Either way, she thought it was rather unpleasant, so she harrumphed coldly, having decided that she would dawdle no longer and waste time speaking to a lower ranked nobility. Before all that was achieved, though, she felt a need to have the last word. “Well, we shall be on our way, Lady Lizbeth. But do remember, just because your children have been granted entry into the Academy, doesn’t mean they were born with talents. Talents much inferior to my Almeria, in any case.”
With a simple nod, she led her impressive retinue away silently and outwardly at least, gracefully like a finely cultured lady.
Katrina glared at the back of Almeria for a bit, before realizing that from the look on her face, she was no longer in that girl’s thoughts, just like a passing wind that didn’t leave any impression behind. That was even more mortifying, being ignored and forgotten, somehow far worse than on the receiving end of ridicule by a contemptible person like Almeria or her mother.
It was like as if she didn’t exist in this world anymore.
It was when Kaleena quietly grasped Katrina’s trembling shoulders, waking her out of the humiliated state. Turning to vent her rising irritation on her cousin, she instead saw warmth and concern in those slightly different colored eyes and felt guilty thinking about getting angry at her.
Her face reddening from shame and guilt, Karina turned her head away, this time glaring at the direction Amelia and her mother took. She swore that one day, she’d be able to properly put them in place where they belong.
“Do not mind them, Katrina, Kaleena. There are many odious people like that in the Capital. Although a noble is forbidden to flaunt his or her influence within the Academy, that doesn’t guarantee their sense of superiority suddenly disappearing into the thin air. It is best to grow stronger and pile up achievements that clearly speak for themselves. Understand?”
Both girls nodded and replied with a resounding “Yes!!”
Nodding back in satisfaction, Lizbeth led them inside the open door and a waiting tailor who carried an indifferent expression to it all.
“So, uh, no more beatings?”
Kain asked cautiously, as he eyed the surroundings warily.
He still had a mental scar from that time, when a vine struck him in his man sausage. Just remembering that gave him an illusory pain down there.
“What do you mean, beatings? That was just to open up your clogged and closed meridians in conjunction with the meat buns to reshape your body. You should be glad that I went to that length to reform you, you brat.”
The Old Man coldly harrumphed, and waved his hands once in the air.
They were now in an empty chamber inside the fort, a space big enough for a bedroom. Once the Old Man’s gesture ended, vines rose from the ground, and formed into two rectangular paddings similar in shape to a yoga mat.
He sat on one cross-legged, and directed the boy to sit on the other.
Gingerly, Kain sat down. His injuries were mostly healed by now and he had no trouble moving. Still, he had never sat with his legs crossed before, in this life or the previous one, so he had to do it carefully.
Once he was seated, the Old Man continued. “Right. From now on, we will alternate between physical training where you get to grips with the current limit of your body, and of spiritual training where you practice dealing with ch’i freely.”
“Does that mean I get to do one of those cultivation sutras? You know, like from those Chinese Web Novels.”
“Cultivate? What, are you a bacteria? Or a cabbage?” The Old Man scorned, and shook his head. “Hmm. Maybe it’s not that inaccurate a description in that yes, you indeed cultivate your mind and body. But still, what a lazy and ultimately incorrect method of learning martial arts.”
Kain frowned, but refrained from making a smart comeback. Who knows what the cranky Old Man might do on a whim.
They discussed the training regime for a bit. What the Old Man proposed was naturally quite outrageous.
“A thousand punches and kicks every hour?! And I have to do that for three hours straight? Are you kidding me??”
Kain groaned in shock. Let alone being fit enough to achieve the quota, he might not even go the half way distance. And even if he did, he might lose all his hair and go totally bold in three years.
Ignoring him, the Old Man then told him how to train the spiritual aspect of him, via a specialized meditation technique.
“But before that…. turn around, and face the other way.” The Old Man gestured with his hands.
“Just do it already, will you.”
Reluctantly Kain sat with his back toward the Old Man. Clearing his throat, he came closer.
“What I’m about to do now, I haven’t done it in decades so I might be a little rusty. If it hurts… well, endure it for now, okay?”
Before Kain could reply to this unsettling revelation, the Old Man placed both of his palms against the boy’s shoulder blades. Even with the tunic, Kain felt the rough and weather-worn skin of the man.
And more importantly, it felt very hot. Unnaturally so. Almost like as if there was a pair of scolding hot irons pressing down on him.
“Be still. This is all to stabilize the foundation of your Sanbao as soon as possible. So, endure no matter what!!”
The Old Man then sent forth a sliver of his own ch’i to the boy’s still tiny and weak meridians, and to his three dan tians near his forehead, his heart, and down in his lower belly.
The hot sensation from his palms entered Kain, and a sudden numbness gripped the boy like a steel vice. He found it exceedingly difficult to even breathe.
As for the heat itself, it coiled and scorched inside his veins and internal organs as if trying to singe him alive from within. The pain was incredible to say the least.
“Breathe, you fool. Breathe, like this.”
The Old Man noticed his difficulty in breathing and demonstrated a breathing technique quickly. Kain tried to imitate that, and was relieved to feel some of the pressure soften a little, giving him room to take in some much needed air.
Then, just like that, he felt something inside twitch ever so slightly, almost unnoticed. A ton of pressure like hundreds of weights bore down on various parts of his body and he felt like he’d be crushed in mere seconds.
But the heat from the Old Man’s palms weakened and lightened them whenever it shot toward the affected area. This heaviness and lightness alternated, all over his body, worming in and out of his vital organs and flowing like a stream of magma dancing to a beat of its own.
Kain gasped out whenever this heat moved past certain points in his body, and whenever he breathed out like that, a dark mist-like air exhaled out from his lungs. The heat caused a powerful, rippling sensation that was increasingly more bone-shaking than the one that came before.
“Good, good. That’s good. Let it flow through you. Don’t resist it.”
The Old Man mumbled slowly while observing the ch’i flow in Kain’s meridians. When the critical juncture arrived, he began to murmur in Mandarin the incantations of the ancient Tao system.
Kain heard it, but he couldn’t understand it. But the weird thing was, every word uttered by the Old Man began to imprint itself within his psyche. One by one, like a hot brand left on a leather skin the words that looked like an indescribable scribble of lines burned into his mind, on top of each other like layers of a cake.
He heard illusory booms echoing in his head. His vision blurred for a moment, before clearing up. All the heaviness that weighed on him suddenly left him as if all of it were lies.
His pupils shrank as he received a shock after another shock as his metaphorical eyes opened up. Kain now could see things so clearly.
He saw the veins on the wings of a fly as it buzzed past in a super-slow motion. He saw the streak of iridescent light in thousand little chemical vapors dispersing through the air, something no naked eyes should be able to see.
And with that he witnessed the air molecules shiver as a soft breeze blew across. He even could see some sort of energy, vitality, coursing through the vines all around him, on the walls, under his butt, everywhere in this room.
It was life. He was seeing it as clearly as he would see the flow of Aeterna.
Is this…. ch’i?
Kain mulled softly. He witnessed something like this when fighting to drive off the Wyrm and the six armed giant. Currently the clarity and the depth of his perception lacked compared to that time, but the mere fact that he could decipher this much at all, made his heart palpitate with excitement.
“What you are experiencing right now is because one of your dan tien, Shang, is opening up. Consider it as if your third eye has opened up.”
Kain breathed in deeply, awed at the fact that this was happening to him. There were literally million and one questions he wanted to ask, but the Old Man cut him off. “Don’t be impatient. This much is negligible. So don’t get too excited, you fool.”
He snorted and suddenly, the sensation of heat left Kain’s body abruptly. The clarity of his vision dimmed to a point where as if he was a blind or something, but a tiny bit of that wondrous feeling remained. Still, the loss of it gave him the similar sense of emptiness he felt not too long ago.
He turned around to finally satisfy his curiosity when a bout of lightheadedness assaulted him.
Ugh, this feeling, again?!
Kain groaned and slowly toppled over, his eyes closing gradually.
Before he completely slipped out of consciousness, he witnessed the Old Man wipe the corner of his mouth with the sleeve of his white robe, a streak of crimson leaving behind a trail on the crisp fabric.
Kaleena’s eyes glittered in excitement as she took the very first step into the lecture hall. She’s never been in an environment where there were so many kids of similar age to her. To say it was like a land of opportunity for her was not entirely incorrect.
On the other hand, Katrina next to her was dreading this day. Not that she had no guts to face other kids, no. It was just that, she wasn’t so sure how she’d react to being stared at with antagonizing eyes. All she hoped for was to not act too violently or lash out unnecessarily.
The hall was laid out in a fashion similar to how a university’s would look like, with the lecturer at the front with a blackboard-like surface behind him, and the learners, children of various ages, gender and races sat two across behind in tall wooden desks, each position higher than the ones in front to offer an unrestricted view of the board.
Because of Kaleena’s results from the Festival of Soaring Will was so terrific, she was immediately placed into Andrea L. Pressario School of Excellence, the highest ranked learning institution in the Elder Emeritus Kobus District. Even in there, the class they attended was reserved for the very best of the lot.
Katrina got in the same class by the skin of her teeth. She may not have been the natural born talent but her strict training regime by her father meant she had a very good head start compared to the other kids when it came to the areas of basics. Still, competing against talents was not a cakewalk at all.
As soon as the two settled down on their assigned seats, Katrina immediately recognized two faces here. One of them…. was Amelia Benedict Henson.
The other was a boy named Brendan Vulpes Gleeson, a third son of Vulpes Gleeson dynasty that wielded a considerable financial clout within the Empire. A descendant of the elusive Vulpes Vulpes clan from up north, they were known to be wily and cunning, but also highly skilled and honorable towards those who maintain friendly relationships.
She met the boy with a luxurious light reddish brown fur and a pair of long, slender ears before her mother fell ill. Back then, Derrick enjoyed quite a circle of acquaintances and one of them happened to be Brendan’s dad.
She hadn’t seen him at all after all the misfortune that fell upon her father. However, Brendan Senior had come to speak to Derrick on one occasion before the pair’s departure from the Capital, and the chat seemed to be amiable in nature. Katrina didn’t know what all of that meant, though.
While Amelia was giving a scornful What on earth are you doing here kind of look at her, Brendan’s face lit up when he recognized Katrina.
The boy eagerly waved his hand, his face full of beaming smile. Seeing this, Katrina’s face cramped up a little, remembering just how much this boy used to cling on to her.
As a courtesy, she did return the wave but she made sure it was short, and ended it abruptly. Kaleena, who was watching this exchange, narrowed her eyes and giggled, after sensing something here.
“Who is that? You know that boy?”
“Yes, I do. But my dear cousin, please pay it no mind. Because I certainly won’t.”
Hearing the tone in the curt reply, Kaleena understood immediately she had found something that could be a goldmine. So, she began asking all sorts of questions.
Katrina felt a headache incoming. Her troubles were alleviated the moment the lecturer entered the hall, causing the noisy kids to quieten down and find their individual seats.
The lecturer was kindly old male Bovidaskin, an Invoker of the Pinnacle Expert rank, only a step away from becoming a full Master. He wrote his name on the blackboard with an Invocation spell that glowed in rainbow of colors – Expert Zeos Taurus Momoe.
Even though he was on the old side, he still possessed impressive bulk that was a racial trait of his tribe, Bovidaskin. If Kain could see him, he’d scream out “A Minotaur!!” by now.
Bovidaskins usually were known to be recalcitrant and unfriendly towards other races so they hardly interacted out of their own territories. And Invokers hailing from there was just as rare too. So that point alone made Zeos something of an oddity, as he had a warm and patient personality, which was reflected in the way he spoke. This also put the young kids in his class at ease.
He began his lecture by introducing the content of this particular curriculum, what he expected from the learners in his class, a reminder of the rules set up by the school and finally, with the very basics of Invocation, a system designed to allow humanoids to wield Aeterna as freely and successfully as possible.
The lecturer coughed to clear his throat, and began his lecture in earnest.
“Now everyone, can you correctly name all three tiers of Elements that have been discovered so far? Raise your hands high, if you feel like you know the correct answer.”
Many kids raised their hands eagerly, trying to get the attention of the lecturer.
Katrina was among them, but Kaleena refrained from emulating her cousin. That was because she was not completely sure of the answer. If Lizbeth knew about this, then she’d shed a tear of blood…. After all, that’s what she tried hard to teach her daughter, the basics.
After several kids jostled for the lecturer’s attention, finally a girl was picked from the back. And to Katrina’s disgust, it was Almeria again.
“Yes, Miss Almeria, please speak.”
Expert Zeos smiled warmly as the young Henson girl spoke.
“There are three tiers of Elements that have been discovered so far. In the first tier, there are four known Elements, Fire, Water, Earth and Wind. On the second tier, there are three Elements, that of Lightning, Light and Wood. Finally, on the third tier, Darkness, Time, and Space.”
“Thank you, Miss Almeria. You may sit now. Yes, what she have said is correct. There is a total of ten known ‘pure’ Elements in Aeterna. However, gradually you’ll come to hear about another term, called the Hybrid Elements, later on in this class.
“Now then, can anyone also tell the rest of the class what is an Affinity and why it is very important?”
Again, many kids shot up their hands. Zeos took his time, smiling happily and nodding.
Kaleena had half a mind to raise her own hand this time around, but again she hesitated. Katrina didn’t, and eagerly tried her best to get her turn to shine.
Disappointingly, someone else, a boy, was chosen this time.
“Sir. An Affinity is very important because it tells us which Element we can wield the best.”
“Hmm, an adequate answer. Thank you. You may sit now.”
Zeos walked around the desk in front of the board and stood before the kids and swept his gaze across, momentarily stopping at Kaleena’s direction before moving on.
“Yes indeed, an Affinity with an Element means you will have an easier time trying to learn Invocation spells utilizing that particular Element. But it also means that you will gain a greater understanding of the Element itself as well. Of course, an Affinity is not a be-all-end-all of Invocation. Even without an Affinity, you can still wield any Elements to a certain degree as long as you try hard enough.”
Leaning his bulky frame against the desk, Zeos continued.
“You can develop a Quasi-Affinity by practicing spells from the Element you wish to wield well. If you do it long enough, you will develop it. Some can be born with it, as well. In fact, many of you here who have Affinities also possess a myriad of Quasi-Affinities as well.”
When he was finished, he glanced at Kaleena once more, and waved his hands in the air, causing all four first tier Elements to materialize. A ball of flame, a blob of water, a clump of soil and a whirlwind, all of them no bigger than an apple.
“See? My Affinity is with the Light Element, but since I have developed Quasi-Affinities with these four, I can freely wield them just fine.”
Seeing this, kids were murmuring to each other excitedly. It was atypical to see so many Elements being wielded all at once by a single person so it was causing a stir of sorts. Even Katrina was getting interested.
Kaleena tilted her head slightly, wondering to herself if such a thing was something so laudable. After all, she could do it as well, maybe not without the Requisite Words like Zeos, but still.
Carrying the four Elements around, bulky old lecturer smiled gently and spoke up.
“Now normally, a person is born with an Affinity toward a single Element. In rare cases, where the gods have given their blessings, you may see a person with two, or maybe even three Affinities.”
Many kids frowned at this point of the lecture. They were all from the nobility, and ever since young, they were told they possessed a boundless might and talent because it was their birthright. But upon testing, it turned out none of them were blessed with the so-called multi-Affinity.
Those who didn’t frown, like Almeria, did possess two Affinities so they felt their self esteem shoot through the roof, seeing the inferior ones around them.
But that got crushed for good shortly afterward. Because Zeos couldn’t hold it in anymore and proudly announced to all the other kids in the class.
“Our class is quite special, however. Because, within our midst, a young lady has come possessing not one, not two, not three but four Affinities. And to top it all off, she’s even blessed with Quasi-Affinities with the rest of six Elements!! And she is your classmate, everyone. Please, if you have any trouble with wielding a certain Element, simply take in her example and learn from that.”
Zeos, beaming widely, walked towards Kaleena, and rested his huge hand on her shoulder.
Instantly, everyone’s stares drew at the surprised girl.
There were stares of curiosity, shock, envy, jealousy, even hatred thrown in there. Such attention made her hesitant self even more hesitant here.
Out of the eyes that watched and studied her, there were several pairs that seemed to take a greater interest in Kaleena more than usual. One set belonged to Brendan, while the other, to shocked Almeria.
Next to her cousin, Katrina was frowning deeply, wondering whether this development was a good one or not.
(Merry X-Mas to y’all. Hope you enjoyed the holidays so far.)
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.