Chapter 33: Dire Tombs III
Undergoing Dragon’s Awakening seemed to startle Sylvie who was now frantically asking me what’s going on and why I was activating my second phase.
‘It’s fine Sylv. I want you to stay away for now and if anything happens, go back to the Helstea’s house for me.
‘No! I’m going to go towards you now Papa. Hold on!’ I could sense Sylvie getting closer but she’s still a few dozen kilometers away.
‘Stay away Sylv! Please! I need someone to tell my family what happens just in case.’ I say desperately.
I don’t know if I’m going to make it out of this alive, and I don’t want my family wondering what happened and why the ring activated.
One of the abilities of my first phase, Acquire, allowed me to temporary separate myself from the space and time around me, which seemed to be one of Sylvia’s innate skills. That phase was limited in many ways because I’m not a dragon. The limited mana I have access to restricts what I can actually do when I activate the ‘Acquire’ phase.
The most efficient way, I realized when I was training with Grandpa Virion, was coupling the first phase with Thunderclap Impulse. I would activate my first phase in short millisecond bursts while the reaction time of my body is increased dramatically from my lightning skill; this allows me to react and counter almost anything. That was the best way I could think of for utilizing my first phase, since I can’t affect anything that’s “frozen” while the first phase is activated. Even though I can’t able to keep it up for long, that was my biggest trump card; the fact that the first phase of my beast will isn’t noticeable by those around me makes it all the more useful.
I think back to when I first used the ‘Acquire’ phase on someone else along with me that time at the auction house. Sebastian wasn’t able to communicate with anyone besides me since I separated us from the time and space of those around us. I could only last a few seconds before I was crippled in bed for the next day.
Right now, though, was one of those times where my first phase wouldn’t be so useful. No matter how much I can react to this tsunami of vines, I could neither dodge it nor escape from it in one piece.
I feel every pore in my body opening and a surge of mana flowing in and out of my body.
The air around me distorts and the ground below my feet starts cracking from the mana surrounding my body.
My vision shifts into black and white. The only colors I see are from the numerous particles of mana in the atmosphere around me, all shimmering to the corresponding elements they make up.
The surge of mana that was rampaging around me suddenly gets compressed into my body and the feeling of holding insurmountable power overwhelms me. The sense of superiority over everything, living or not, in this universe almost makes me go crazy. I suppress the urge to destroy everything and everyone around me just because of how insignificant they seem to be compared to me now.
The mana in the atmosphere seems to bend to my will, as if even nature is under my command.
“Phase Two. Dragon’s Awakening… Integrate.”
The same markings that Sylvia once had, the golden yellow runes, run down my arms and back. I see my hair get longer, coming down to my shoulder, and the once auburn color of my hair was now a bright luminescent white, swaying from the swirl of energy constantly encompassing me. The Integrate phase seemed to make me look more like Sylvia.
Calming the voice inside my head that wants to go on a rampage, I look around. Jasmine and Elijah are the only ones left. Elijah is next to Jasmine now, supporting her up with his shoulders while she’s still out of breath and sweating in pain from the point blank impact from Lucas’ spell. He’s looking at me with a dazed expression, his once serious face almost comical, as his glasses are crooked and his jaws slack.
The tsunami of vines that made up the Elderwood Guardian expands as a face is formed within the wave. The face was looking at me; the face that once looked at us like we were insects had a trace of fear in it now.
“Let’s play.” I smirk.
The world moves around me in slow motion as I jump up, willing wind unto my feet. I instantly clear the distance between the Elderwood Guardian and myself in a split second as a storming gale I propelled myself off with creates a crater bigger than the spell Elijah used.
“Thunderclap Impulse.” A surge of black lightning forms around my body as I effortlessly dodge the thousands of vines that shoot at me.
Every vine that the tendrils of black lightning surrounding me touches instantly disintegrates and withers away, but for every vine dead, ten more replace it. Using the vines that are shooting at me as a foothold, I breeze through the onslaught of vines that were the size of my body, covered in thorns, as I draw near the core of the Elderwood Guardian.
I could already feel the recoil from using the second phase as my body is trembling and I hold back the urge to vomit blood.
It was time to end this.
“White Fire…” Both my hands ignite and are engulfed in a blazing white flame that almost freezes the air around it. This was the most powerful offensive skill that I had in my arsenal, but one that was also the hardest to control. While my Lightning Attribute skills are focused more towards one vs. one situations, I steered my Ice Attribute techniques to create as much mayhem as possible, just in case I had a need for that.
The white fire ablaze in my hands grows bigger as I absorb the particles of water attribute mana particles into my body. Using the last of my strength I cast my final skill.
The Elderwood Guardian, who was in the form of a giant wave of entangled vines, rapidly turned into ice as the very atoms that made up the mana beast froze in place where the White Fire spread. The black lightning traced through the frozen tsunami of vines and instantly shattered it, leaving only the beast’s mana core.
The second phase wears off as I cough out blood, my body falling down along with the shimmering fragments of ice that once made up the legendary S class mana beast.
The last thing I hear is the distant echo of Sylv’s voice in my head.
“GAHHHHH!” The intense pain that shocks me awake leaves a stream of tears down my cheeks. I hurl both blood and the remains of the little food I had since I arrived in the dungeon as every muscle, every pore, every fiber of my body felt like it was getting sawed slowly by a jagged blade.
“You’re awake!” My body doesn’t stop trembling from the pain and I ignore the worried voice.
“G-glove. My glove.” I manage to cough out in between my cries of pain and the blood that keeps leaking out of my mouth.
“What about your glove?” I see Elijah’s face over mine now as he takes off the glove my parents gave me from my hand.
“B-break one of the c-crystals on the glove and give… me.” I almost pass out from the pain again, but before I do, Elijah manages to understand my stuttered instructions.
A surge of pleasant soothing light envelops my body, and the once unbearable pain eases enough so I can calm down a little. I try to get up but my body refuses to listen. Lying still on my back, I finally try to assess the situation, as my cognitive abilities aren’t completely focused on enduring the pain anymore.
Around us was dark and cramped, with the only source of light coming from a small fire in the middle.
“Where’s Jasmine?” I can move my neck at most, and I’m reminded of a very similar situation when I first fell from the cliff when I was four.
Oh man… good times.
“She’s over there.” I barely lift my head enough to see Jasmine laying against the other end the dark cramped place we were in. It’s evident she’s not doing so well as I hear her groaning while beads of sweat were streaming down her small face.
“She was hit a lot harder by Lucas’ spell and her body wasn’t willed with mana like yours. I had a medical kit on me so I treated the external burn on her belly but I suspect the burn to have caused some internal damage.” Elijah shakes his head while straightening his glasses.
I could see he wasn’t in a great shape himself. His tidy black hair was all over the place, like he just woke up and he had multiple bruises and cuts on his face.
I feel my face burn when I think about that traitorous twerp, Lucas.
“Use my glove on Jasmine. Crack another one of the gems on it and press it against her wounds.” I mutter out as the strength on my neck gives out and I’m stuck looking at the dark roof of wherever we were.
“Got it.” Elijah shuffles over to where Jasmine was and I hear a faint hum from the light that surrounded Jasmine.
Jasmine’s ragged breathing is noticeably steadier now and using my limited strength to look at her again, I see that her strained face was now calm.
“I think she’ll be fine with a couple hours of rest.” A rare smile escapes from Elijah’s stern face.
‘Papa! You’re awake now! Are you okay? I’m almost there!’ Sylvie’s voice chirps in my head.
‘I’m fine for now. I thought you said you had to finish up something… are you done with that?’ I quiz my infant dragon.
‘…No. I’m almost done though! I’ll find you after I’m done! I miss you Papa…’ The disappointed voice of Sylvie almost tempts me to just tell her to come here, but I hold it in. I could feel the changes in Sylvie’s body somehow and I knew she was going through something important.
“I didn’t think that the legendary masked swordsman, aka Note, would be someone around my age.” My bespectacled companion’s voice stirs my train of thought.
“My mask!” My voice turns a little frantic as I notice for the first time that I wasn’t wearing the mask Vincent got me.
“S-sorry. It got blown off while you were falling. I couldn’t help looking while I was moving you two to safety.” I see him scratch his cheek, embarrassed.
“What about my sword? Did you see the black stick that I carried around?” My eyes dart around through the dim lighting.
My eyes catch the outline of my sword as Elijah points a bit to the right of the sleeping Jasmine. “Yeah, it’s besides Jasmine. I didn’t know if it was valuable or not but I kept it just in case.”
“Sigh…Thank you…for everything. For saving Jasmine and me and retrieving my sword when you could’ve easily escaped by yourself. Thank you.” I just let out a deep breath, as if a weight has been lifted.
“Haha… If I left you, that would’ve put me on the same level as that traitor Lucas then, wouldn’t it.” He shoots me a grin
“Heh… you’re right.” I let out a pained laugh too.
Elijah inches closer, sitting down next to me now. “Why did you stay anyways? I saw Jasmine pulling you to escape. I feel like you two could’ve escaped at that time.”
I can’t help but pause at his question. “A King never betrays the people who trust him!” I smile which makes him scoff. “I promised someone very important to become a better person and to cherish the people around me.” I simply say.
“Pfft. You sound like an old man. We’re pretty young…I wonder what kind of life you had until now to have someone promise you that.” Elijah’s serious face was a lot more natural now, his stone face full of life.
“I sometimes wonder myself haha. How long have I been out for anyways?” I change the subject.
“It’s hard to tell but definitely more than a day. Jasmine woke up a couple of times in between but just barely so I could feed her.” He just answers, leaning back on the wall.
I inch myself painfully to sit up against the wall as well, Elijah helping me, when I notice that the wall was made of metal.
“This doesn’t seem to be naturally made. Where are we?” I feel the cold surface of the wall, tracing it back to the ground.
“I conjured it. I think the Elderwood Guardian’s body was supporting the whole level of the cave we were in. After you defeated it, the ground crumbled and once you landed on the ground, I built a small shelter to keep the rocks from burying us alive.” He lets out a sigh. Until now, he didn’t let out a single trace that he was a deviant, and a rather particular one at that.
Instead of being surprised though, my mind somehow felt at ease, as if the doubts that I had of him have been somewhat revealed to me. “I thought only Dwarves were only able to manipulate metal… and even then, I was taught that Dwarves could only manipulate existing metal, not create and conjure it.”
“So much for keeping secrets eh?” Elijah chuckles, sinking further down, a tired look on his face.
“Haha, tell me about it.” I laugh too, holding in the pain as my body protests to even the slightest movements.
“All right… but you have to tell me what the hell you did back there as well. Your hair turned white! A-and your eyes…they were glowing purple. There were these glowing runes that appeared on your body too!” He quivers at the scene that unfolded before him.
I just nod in agreement and let him continue.
“I am from the Darv Kingdom, but I’m not really sure where I came from. The elder that took care of me since I was little always avoided the subject of my parents so I never got a clear answer. About a year ago when I awakened, I created such a big implosion that my whole room just vanished. After getting trained for a little, I found out I was abnormally better in earth attribute spells than any other elements… like, to the point where I wouldn’t be able to cast anything but the most elementary spells in water, fire, or wind…even now.” Elijah is staring blankly at the palm of his hands.
“Since I awakened, my mana core has been condensing all on its own at a rapid pace. I don’t even need to meditate for some reason. The elder that took care of me sent me to the Kingdom of Sapin as a representative and told me to make a name for myself and get along with the humans, but honestly, I don’t know why I’m doing this. After I broke into the dark orange stage, I had this weird feeling surge up in my body and before I knew it, a field of metal spikes conjured around me. I happened to be alone when it occurred so thankfully I didn’t kill anyone… but ever since then…I’ve been scared. Scared of what I am and scared of what I can do. I was excited at first about how strong I could be, but right now, I can barely control my powers. You know…I thought maybe I was a half dwarf at one point but I-I just don’t know what I am anymore.”
I look at Elijah, noticing that his hands were trembling as he quickly squeezed it into fists to control himself.
“…” I just lay back, silently. I’m not going to pretend like I understand him and any words I say now would just be empty words of comfort.
“Sometimes, I get this feeling…. Like what I can do right now isn’t even the limit. I know it may sound weird but I get this nagging feeling that there’s something more to me, and that once I can control that power, I’ll know what I really am…. I’m sorry haha… this ended up being a therapy session for me hasn’t it?” The bespectacled boy that tried so hard to keep a stern, cold façade turned out to be fragile on the inside.
I grit my teeth, as I will my screaming body to sit upright to face Elijah. Staring into Elijah’s eyes, I see a trace of desperation but also gentleness and a firm pride in himself that reassures my decision. Years of being a King, representing my country, meeting all different kinds of people, I got the hang of being able to see the type of person someone was, and my impression of Elijah was that he could be a very loyal friend.
“I’m a Quadra Elemental Augmenter with two deviances: Ice and Lightning.” I simply state without hiding anything.
Before he has the chance to even react to the landmine I set off, I continue. “I’m also a Beast Tamer. What you saw back there was me activating my beast will.”
The hand that was supporting Elijah up as he leaned back against the metal wall he conjured slipped and he hit his head against the cold hard steel.
“Holy…*THUMP* Ouch!” He gets back up, rubbing his head.
“I thought I was a freak but I guess you win. W-wait… how old are you?” He asks.
“I turned 11 a couple of months ago.”
“No way! I’ll be 12 in a couple of months! I don’t know my exact birthdate but the Elder just made my birthday into the day he found me, January 10th. You know my name is Elijah, but I don’t know yours. What’s your name?” He sticks out his hand as a sign of friendship.
Grasping his hand with my own shaking hand, I respond with a smile. “Arthur. Arthur Leywin, but just call me Art.”
For the next several hours, we exchanged stories. Elijah’s childhood wasn’t that eventful before his awakening. He stayed with the elder since the dwarf children didn’t seem too fond of mingling with humans. Because of that, Elijah just spent most of his time reading various books. Listening to him talk and just hearing about his life, I could understand why he was a lot more mature for someone his age. He only talked with adults, mostly the elder that took care of him, and just living in a society where almost everyone would rather not have anything to do with you made him grow up a lot faster than he should have.
I broke the last gem of the glove to relieve the pain again when Jasmine woke up. As soon as her eyes open and she saw I was awake, she shot up and gave me a long hug. I could feel her tears as they fell on me.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you…” was all she could manage to say while she was holding back her sobs.
“It’s okay Jasmine. I was the one being stubborn. I’m sorry I dragged you into this mess with me.” I pat her back. Was she always this small?
This body was now a bit past 11 but I was considered tall for my age. I’m about the same height as the petite Jasmine, which I never noticed until now. Growing up with her made me think that she’d always be bigger than me.
“Let’s go home guys.” I announce as both Jasmine and Elijah support me from both sides.