Chapter 15: Next Step
“Hey Art! Hurry up! We’re going to be late!”
“AAAGGHHHH!! Tess! Stop! I give! I GIVE!” I cry out.
Tess gets off me, letting go of the leg lock she had in a firm grip.
“Can’t there a gentler way of waking me up Tess?” I grumble, rubbing the feeling back into my leg.
“It’s getting harder and harder to wake you up in the morning! I have to do something right? Besides, you should be grateful such a pretty lady is waking you up every morning.” She throws in a wink.
“I find the maids here plenty pretty thank you very much.” I softly mutter.
She must’ve heard because that earned me a firm squeeze to the side.
Where did the shy Tess that was too scared to sleep alone in the tent go; the sweet Tess that begged me not to go? Bring her back! I liked her better!
Something I realized in my three years of living in Elenoir was that elves awaken earlier than humans do. Where as the average age for a human is around 13-14 years old, elves awaken around 10-11.
Tess awakened a little early last year and boy did she awaken with a bang. It wasn’t as big as when I first awakened but she did manage to destroy her room upstairs and fall down and create a small crater from the implosion in the kitchen right below. Since then, she’s been joining me in training with Gramps. All I can say is, since awakening, she’s turned into something akin to the devils incarnate. She knows how strong my body is so she has no hesitation in using me as her sandbag as she tries new spells that she learned from Grandpa Virion and other Conjurer teachers. What she just doesn’t seem to get after all my cries is that I still feel pain dammit!
As for me, today is a very special day because after 3 years, I finally finished the assimilation of mana into my body yesterday night. It’s almost my birthday so I’ll be 8, while Tess has turned 9 a couple months ago. During this time, I wasn’t allowed to absorb any mana from my surroundings and only used my innate mana formed from my mana core to spread it into my body. Today is the ceremony that takes place after a Beast Tamer finishes his assimilation.
I skip showering and just change into a more presentable robe, tucking the stone, into my robe before heading out into the courtyard with Tess.
“Finally awake now eh Art? How did your wife wake you up today? Haha~!” Grandpa Virion mused as he was sipping tea on the small table outside.
“Ugh, wife? Where? I didn’t know you could marry ogres. You’re turning her into a monster Gramps.” I groan.
Luckily Tess didn’t hear that as she came outside soon after.
*Chuckle* “She’s going to grow up into a fine woman Art. Better sweep her off her feet before it’s too late” He throws me playful smirk.
Tess just blushes at that and kicks my shin.
Wha~? Why? What did I do?
“Hahaha! Art! Are you ready? Today is finally the day. After this ceremony, you’ll truly be considered a Beast Tamer.” He says, arms crossed.
I just nod while Tess heads to the table Gramps was sitting on to watch.
It wasn’t really a ceremony. All it consisted of was Gramps exerting a large amount of mana into my core, triggering the will to awaken and spread out into my body.
“Do you remember the basic phases of Beast Tamers, Art?” He quizzes.
I recite the basics that Grandpa Virion pounded into me these past years. “All Beast Tamers have a different number of forms that they can will their bodies into. The number of forms depends on the strength of the Beast’s will that is left in the mana core. The first phase, that all Beast Tamers have, is Acquire. In this phase, the Tamer can utilize a small portion of the inherent ability that their beast has. The second stage is Integrate, where the Tamer’s body wholly infuses with the Beast’s will, allowing a much better control over their beasts’ inherent abilities.”
“Correct! The phases that the Beast Tamers are able to unlock simply shows how much they can utilize their beasts’ will. The stronger the beast, the harder it is, but at the same time, if the tamer can’t get insight, then it is also impossible to get past the first phase.” He turns serious.
“One thing you should know is the differences in how a Beast Tamer’s will is acquired. If the beast is killed and his mana core is extracted with its will still intact, a mage can absorb the will and try to gain insights. That mage would be considered forged tamer. While it is a lot easier and straightforward to be a forged tamer, the probability of gaining insight is very rare. One of the reasons it took me so long for me to be able to break into the second phase was because I am a forged tamer. I consider myself lucky to even be able to break into the second stage though Haha. Arthur, you are one of the extremely rare legacy tamers; where the beast willingly imparted its will unto you.”
Continuing on, he says, “Art, my first phase doesn’t really make me that much faster, but I’m able to erase a bit of my presence and blend myself into the dark. You haven’t seen my second phase right? Watch carefully. It took me over ten years for me to make a breakthrough into this phase.”
Feeling a powerful surge of mana surrounding his body, I involuntarily cringe. All of a sudden, the mana around his body seeps back into him and my eyes widen.
Grandpa’s skin turns pitch black. Even the whites of his eyes turn black while his irises turn sharp and glow yellow. His tied white hair becomes unbound and is also a shiny black color. The aura that surrounds him makes me shudder and take a step back.
“This is the Integrate phase. I’m going to sneak up behind you. Pay attention.” He growls.
Is it really sneaking up if he tells me? …Is what I was thinking when he just disappears from my vision. I don’t feel his presence at all but I look behind me because he told me where he’d be aiming for.
His finger is pointed at my jugular and he’s looking down at me with his glowing yellow eyes.
Cold sweat beads down my forehead.
Fast. It seemed like instant teleportation but I knew it wasn’t by the skid mark from his initial position. It was speed that even I couldn’t keep up with. Not even close. No. The scary part wasn’t even his insane speed. It was his lack of presence. Even directly behind me, I couldn’t sense where he was.
He turns back to normal, his face slightly flushed.
“Whew! Using that form always takes a toll on me. After training with it for a couple decades, I’m able to keep the form on for about 50 minutes. Do you see the difference in power between the first and second phase Art?”
I nod my head vigorously.
“Good! Let’s begin the ceremony.” He replies.
We stand face to face, only and arm’s length apart. Tess was now leaning forward in excitement, as we’re about to start.
“Just let your mana come out freely. Don’t try to control anything. I’ll restrain you if necessary so it’s crucial that you keep a relaxed state of mind.” He explains.
He begins exerting mana into my core, making the mana already inside me spill out.
Instantly, I feel a warm sensation as it feels like a hot gust of mana flows out of my body.
I open my eyes to see Gramps thrown back 20 meters and I see Tess roll back from the force as well.
I suddenly feel an unbearable pain, like my skeleton is trying to crawl out of my skin. I don’t even have the strength to scream and begin to feel myself passing out. I welcome the darkness to relieve me from my pain.
Waking up back in my bed, I sit up feeling rather refreshed. Sitting to the side of me, laying her head down on my legs is Tess. Looking at her sleeping like this, it reminds me of when I was escorting her back home after saving her from the slave traders.
Grandpa walks in soon after and he sits down on the other side of the bed, not bothering to wake up his slumbering granddaughter.
“How do you feel brat?” He gives me a half grin.
I respond in a serious tone. “I should be asking you that Gramps. I saw you getting sent flying and even Tess was knocked back.”
He just chucked at that before saying, “I have to admit I wasn’t expecting that great of a force. I know you probably have a good reason for not even telling me what kind of beast gave you its will but is it not possible even now for you to talk?”
I think a little before nodding. He had the right to know. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be alive.
“…It was a dragon that passed her will unto me.”
I hear an audible gasp from Grandpa Virion as his jaw slacks and his eyes widen. The little color he had on his pale face was all but gone and his naturally sharp eyes turned round.
“D-dragon…” He manages to wheeze out, his eyes narrowed.
“Dear lord… a D-dragon Tamer. In my life, I’ve never thought I’d be able to see the birth of a Dragon Tamer…I-I’m even the one that trained him! HAHAHA! A Dragon Tamer!”
Tess wakes up from the now senile Grandpa Virion and looks at him, confused.
He suddenly grabs both my shoulders and looks at me intently. “You did right in keeping this a secret. Do not tell anyone else. This power of yours has to be kept a secret until you have the strength to protect yourself and those around you.”
“Yeah, I’m beginning to believe that more and more, Gramps.” I nod seriously.
“Good! Although I would like to know the whole story, I am more than satisfied with what you’ve told me for now.” He smiles.
“What is it Gramps? What did Art tell you? Uu…not fair, keeping secrets from me.” Tess starts pouting at this point.
“Hahaha~ you’ll know when the time is right little one. Arthur! I have good news. The teleportation gate that is supposed to open in two years will be opening early. There is a tournament that will be held in the city of Xyrus in four months. This tournament will be a very important occasion because both the dwarves and the elves are sending in youths as representatives for the tournament. We can sneak you back into Sapin without the humans knowing at that time.” Gramps exclaims with a smile on his sharp face.
“Really Gramps? I can go home soon?” I jump out of bed and hug him.
I can finally see my parents again! I have been sending messages to my parents every once in a while through Elder Rinia but after seeing them through the water divination technique, I wasn’t able to see them again.
“Y-you’re going to be leaving soon, Art?” I see my close friend look crestfallen.
“Yeah. I have to meet my family soon. Don’t worry though! I’ll visit you again! And maybe you can come visit me in Sapin!” I try to cheer her up.
“We still have four months Arthur! Until the day the teleportation gates open, I expect you to train harder than before brat! Your mana core hasn’t developed at all these past three years from the assimilation you had to do. Don’t focus on just training your beast’s will. That should only be used as a trump card. Understand?”
Grandpa turns serious when he declares this. He’s right though. I shouldn’t use my beast’s will if possible.
Continuing, Grandpa slaps my back and says, “Now! Take a bath and then rest. You reek of something rotten brat. Little one, let’s leave Arthur alone so he can recuperate.”
I see Tess still looking depressed from the fact that I’ll be leaving in a couple of months. Growing up and living with her for three years has given us a bond that is close to siblings and while she’s only ten years old, the fact that she’s showing signs of blossoming into a beautiful woman does make me feel a twinge of regret that I won’t be here with her as she grows up.
“Tess! Cheer up okay? I’ll still be around for a couple more months and even after I leave, it’s not going to permanent. I hope you can someday come and meet my parents too.” I give her a sincere hug.
“Eeep! W-what are you?” I can almost see the steam coming out of her head as she turns bright red. Suddenly, she pushes me away and runs out.
“Ah! Youth! Haha~ Sleep well brat!” He just shakes his head while closing the door.
Was Tess going through puberty already?
I jump back into bed, feeling too lazy to take a shower right now.
“I’ll just lay down for a little and then take shower.” I mutter to myself.
I wonder if it’s windy tonight. I usually don’t hear the rustling of leaves.
Okay… that’s an unusual sound
I sit up and look around. Trying to locate where the sound is coming from.
I look towards where I left my robe on the chair.
My robe was making “kyu~” sounds? I furrow my brows, trying to assess what’s going on.
*Crack! * “Kyu~!”