Chapter 596: Elemental Control

As was often the case, Vahn awoke just before 5 AM feeling refreshed and comfortable, hugging the beautiful Eina’s waist gingerly so as not to wake her up. After enjoying her warmth for a while, Vahn pulled out Eva’s orb to check its status but, unlike the past few months, Vahn noticed a slight abnormality within the orb that made his heart shudder. It didn’t seem to be completely active, but Vahn could sense the stirring of an incredibly powerful energy within the orb while small blue arcs coiled within its interior. Without any hesitation, Vahn tried to sink his consciousness into the orb and felt the darkness creeping in his vision before a voice sounded in his mind, this one decidedly different from Sis’, “Stay out you idiot, the space isn’t stable yet!”

Vahn stopped trying to enter the orb, but he kept his intent probing around since he wanted to hear Eva’s voice a little more. Though he wasn’t sure she could hear him, Vahn spoke out within his mind in a soft tone, “Eva…I miss you…” Silence persisted for several seconds until a very quiet, almost sobbing tone sounded out within his mind at the same time as his intent was ‘forced’ away, “I miss you too, you idiot…” When he was forced away, Vahn saw the most complex magical formation he had ever seen covering the outer shell of the orb. Even activating his [Eyes of Truth] didn’t allow him to see through its entire sequence, but he was able to glean a great deal of information that should prove useful in the future, even though his heart ached a little.

Eina seemed to have sensed his abnormal state as she began to move around in his embrace before turning her body towards him. Seeing those same gentle, emerald-green eyes, Vahn felt his melancholy ease a bit as he bent forward and kissed her forehead, saying, “Don’t worry, I just heard from Eva and felt a little sad that we can’t meet just yet. I’ll feel better after moving my body a bit…” Though she was a little surprised that Vahn mentioned Eva, Eina decided not to ask about it since it obviously made him a little sad thinking about her. Instead, she just hugged his body and pressed her ear to his chest, listening to his heart while saying a few encouraging words…

After leaving Eina, so that she could rest a little more before her own shift started, Vahn went down to the training grounds and began warming up his body while calming his mind. It was very obvious that Eva was making some kind of preparations for his return and it seemed that the day he would be able to enter the orb was approaching quickly. He didn’t know what changes she was making, nor the costs that would be involved, but he believed she was doing her best for ‘them’. Though he wanted to learn many things from her in the future, Vahn also knew he needed to treat the damaged little vampire well since she really did deserve it.

Without something like [Will of the Emperor], Vahn knew that immortality was a very ‘dangerous’ thing for mortals, especially if it was ‘forced’ upon them like in Eva’s case. Since he also had the potential to help others become immortal in the future, Vahn had been thinking about it quite a bit and knew some of the negatives associated with it, planning for how he would deal with them when the time came. He couldn’t truly make someone ‘unkillable’, but giving them eternal life shouldn’t be too difficult with a bit of effort. However, this was an important matter he kept close to his chest for the time being, as he didn’t want to change how the girls ‘lived’ by giving them false-promises of eternal life. There was also the matter regarding his children, and their future progeny, as he couldn’t simply make everyone born from his lineage immortal.

One ‘solution’ Vahn had been thinking about what coming up with a way for people to pursue the path of immortality on their own, something that should be possible in any world with variable Tiers. Though there may be Laws governing the existence of Tier 4 entities within the world, Vahn knew that several factors could change the fundamental structure of the world, just like during the battle between the Primordial Gods and the Elder Gods of Destruction and Chaos. With his children, the Vanir, being born into the world it would effectively remove the cap on the world’s Tier, allowing greater control over the Laws for anyone that comprehended them. If a system existed to promote the growth of people through physical, mental, and spiritual development, Vahn knew ‘anyone’ would be able to reach immortality through their own efforts. At the very least, people could live for hundreds, even thousands, of years…

While he was lost in his own thoughts, performing something similar to Tai Chi, the other girls started to show up for their morning training as well. Tiona and Tione made a beeline towards him but, seeing that he was lost in his thoughts, decided to leave Vahn alone as they watched Ais and Haruhime spar. Vahn was aware of their presence and smiled gently in response to their thoughtful actions before continuing his routine at a slow and fluid pace. The reason he had taken up Tai Chi was that it helped him attune himself with the world itself, giving him greater control over the elements even without using his [Rakshasa Body] or [Will of the Emperor]. Thus, as the routine progressed further, wisps of watery mist began to follow his movements as a gentle breeze flowed around his torso and coiled around his arms. Vahn knew his control while using his Innates would undoubtedly always be higher, but he wanted to get to the point where his basic understanding of elemental control was good enough to teach to others…

Everyone had a variety of different elemental affinities within their body, many working in conjunction with each other while there were a few, such as in the case of Eina, that clashed. If they had a proper understanding of the elements that flowed within their body, Vahn was confident anyone would be able to achieve elemental manipulation. The only true requirements were an external sense that was attuned to the elemental energies within the environment and the balance between a person’s mental and emotional state. If you could ’empathize’ with the element you were trying to control, it was much easier to make use of the energy and push it further.

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Fire elements were ‘fueled’ by passionate emotions, such as love, compassion, fervor, and even anger. Though it was capable of causing devastating damage, you had to make sure you didn’t allow yourself to be swallowed up by it as one of the basic ‘laws of fire’ was that it could use anything as fuel, even the person trying to wield it. For those that pursued the path of flames, they needed to have a strong conviction and an understanding that flames were not simply meant to cause harm, but also provided warmth, light, and hope. Though it could be used to take lives, it was also one of the fundamental elements of creation itself and it was inarguably more worthwhile to create than it was to destroy.

Water elements used more muted emotions, such as reverie, relaxation, melancholy, and sadness…it was an element that could nourish life, but also sink it to the depth of a bottomless abyss, crushing its user just the same as its enemies with the pressures involved. To make proper use of water, you had to be fluid in both mind and body, allowing negative energies to flow through you without letting them linger. Practitioners that mastered the water element would typically be infallible by nature, with calm minds like placid lakes, allowing ripples to pass over its surface but preventing anything from causing any significant turbulence.

Earth elements were almost all about stability and patience, somewhat rigid in their structure but allowing for powerful offensive and defensive feats. To manipulate the earth, you needed an earnest personality that emphasized patience, control, and steadfastness. Though the earth allowed all creatures to tread across it, the power contained beneath their feet could topple entire civilizations when urged to actions. Earthquakes were a terrifying natural disaster while mudslides and landfalls could devastate entire armies, making them entirely incapable of resistance. To make proper use of the earth, you needed both determination and endless compassion, understanding the significance of each action you took and the consequences therein.

The last of the basic elements, Wind, was simultaneously the easiest and most difficult to control of them all. Like fire, you could use passionate emotions to generate gales, but the lack of control meant you were also subject to your own attacks. When used with a calm and placid mentality, such as when using water, the air would flow freely and you could use to gentle currents to destabilize and support others, letting the wind ‘crash’ against objects by using their own momentum against them. Lastly, it was also capable of great devastation and synergized well with the earth, allowing typhoons and tornadoes to devastate anything within its area of influence, but only if you had the stability of mind and perseverance to make such a phenomenon a reality…

Vahn found himself having a preference for wind over all the other elements, even though fire was typically his most used in combat as a result of his perfect affinity with it. The only emotional fuel needed to control the wind was having a sense for ‘freedom’ or ‘eagerness’, meaning that any free spirited person with an affinity for the wind would be able to use it. However, this had some major downside since, if you allowed yourself to be completely like the wind, you would lose yourself and any focus introduced into your life could consume you…

Ais was a good example of this, as she had a ‘perfect’ wind elemental affinity and was able to use the Spirit Magic [Ariel] to great effect. However, because she had been using the skill in the pursuit of power, Ais had given up developing her mental state to maintain a proper balance, resulting in her personality being somewhat ‘lopsided’, though she was improving in leaps and bounds. Instead of just focusing on destroying everything with her wind, Ais needed to understand the other, more gentle and ‘free’ aspects of her elemental control…if she accomplished this, even without [Ariel], Ais would be able to use her wind freely.

As if she had sensed he was thinking about her, Ais broke away from Haruhime’s attack and looked towards Vahn, tilting her head to the side in confusion as the other girls present turned to see what she was looking at. Vahn simply smiled in return before twisting his body in a fluid motion and allowing his arms to trace a gentle arc before thrusting them forward as wind elemental energy tailed the motion and sent a breeze at the girls. Ais’ hair blew along with the gentle breeze he had created, causing her to bring up her hand and remove a few lingering strands as a small smile appeared on her face. Even Vahn didn’t know what he was trying to convey to her, but he felt like she ‘understood’ what he was trying to say as her smile seemed to convey understanding and gratitude.

Though he was interested to know what she had gleaned from his relatively random action, Vahn wasn’t finished with his own routine so he quickly transitioned from using wind into shifting his weight and stepping into the ground firmly. The area beneath his feet solidified allowing his next step to segment a piece of the earth and launch it up into the air at the same time as he struck forward with his palm, sending the piece careening towards one of the nearby target dummies. It wasn’t that powerful of an attack, smashing almost harmlessly against the target, but it was a step in the right direction.

Without tarrying on the results, Vahn twisted his body around, as he had learned spirals, twisting, and arcs were all ‘laws’ that could be used to generate more power in movements. With his hands trailing in a smooth arc, Vahn inverted his palms before ‘whipping’ them across the air as if he was igniting a match. His fingers trailed sparks across the void as flames combusted in the space beneath his palm before he shot it up in a pillar of condensed flames. Just like he did with the earth, Vahn struck the bottom of the compressed flames with his second hand, causing the flame pillar to become several times larger in an explosion of flame elemental energy. His ability to manipulate fire was simply much stronger than his other elements right now, though this didn’t discourage Vahn at all. Since he could achieve such feats even in his normal state, Vahn knew his control over the other three basic elements could reach the same level with practice…

To wrap up his routine, Vahn began tracing his feet forward in a curving pattern of footwork, almost like a river coiling through the mountains. His hands also snaked forward as he traced them in gentle arcs that constantly converged together, building up a greater volume of water around his body that was pulled directly from the atmosphere without using any of his own energy. Once he had built up enough, Vahn shot the water forward in an arc before snapping his wrist back and causing the water to perform a similar action, allowing a loud ‘snap’ like a whip to sound out. Vahn smiled and, in the same pulling motion that was initiated by his whip-like movement, converged the water elemental energy by compressing it rapidly. By the time it coiled back towards him, Vahn had a spear of ice nearly three meters long that he caught with his left hand. Unfortunately, it quickly broke when he tried to throw it since his mastery of higher tier elements was severely lacking at this point.

Instead of getting flustered, as he had in the past, Vahn stepped forward in a pushing motion with both palms out before pulling them back towards him, almost like he had created a wave in a small basin before allowing it to crash against the side and return. With this motion, the piece of the ice spear immediately melted back down before pooling back in Vahn’s hands as he created a small vortex before hardening it into a beautiful sphere of ice once again. As before, his control slipped away instantly and the orb came to rest on his palm instead of defying gravity like when he manipulated the other elements. Vahn just smiled in response before closing his eyes and concentrating his intent on the sphere in his hands. Though it was still ice, the inside of the sphere began to slowly shift around like a vortex as Vahn tried to manipulate the solid-form of ice in a controlled environment instead of trying to move it outside…

This wasn’t the first time he did this and it wasn’t any easier than the last time he had tried, making Vahn both happy and exasperated at the same time. It was actually a lot like water, on a fundamental level, but the ice elemental energies were several orders of magnitude more difficult to control. He couldn’t even shape it at 1% the same speed as when he controlled water, so Vahn knew his understanding of the ice element was severely lacking, even though he didn’t understand ‘how’ it was lacking.

Unlike most people, Vahn could see the structure of mana itself and this should, theoretically, give him an even greater understanding of it. Reality seemed to differ, however, and, though he could exert some small influence over the ice, it wasn’t of practical use just yet. He was better suited to simply freezing things than he was to manipulating the ice directly…though that wouldn’t be enough to make him give up. Eva had a perfect affinity with darkness and ice, so Vahn believed he could learn a few things from her in the future. After all, though he never really called her it, Eva was indeed his ‘Master’ when it came to learning how to use ‘real’ Magic…

With his ‘routine’ coming to an end, Vahn smiled, took a very deep breath, and then let it out as he tried to relax his mind completely. The sphere in his hands was around 15cm across and Vahn wanted to wrap things up by trying out one of his more difficult to use skills. With his [Eyes of Truth] activating, Vahn manipulated the ice to create a focal point in the center before activating his rarely used ‘Oblivion’ skill. This time, he wanted to see if he could use the skill to create pure elemental energy without interfering with the basic structure of the ice elemental energy in his hands. Under his intense focus, a small black sphere expanded from the center of the ball of ice before the entire thing exploded at the same instant that he ‘replaced’ the core with fire elemental energy.

Though the resultant explosion was very loud, the ice crashed harmlessly against his body in small fragments before a molten ball of pure fire elemental energy, around 4cm across, crashed into the ground and began sinking into it. Generally speaking, elemental energy wasn’t really that concentrated and there was a great amount of ‘distance’ between the individual particulates of mana. The orb he had created, however, was completely filled with fire elemental energy and there was ‘zero’ distance between the mana as it continued to bore into the ground seemingly without any intent to burn out.

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Vahn tried to manipulate the small ball of fire elemental energy but found that, without having any space between the mana particles, he couldn’t actually exercise any control over it at all. It wasn’t until he activated his [Will of the Emperor] that he managed to pull it out of the ground, but not before it had sunk almost twelve meters into the soil. Fortunately, though they looked over after the explosion, everyone just assumed Vahn had created it intentionally as his expression had solidified as a result of his intense focus. This allowed him to avoid embarrassment even though he could ‘sense’ that Terra was a little upset since the flame sphere had destroyed part of her dominion…

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