Chapter 6 – ‘A Piece of Explanation’
The source of the sound, the Zealots, passed overhead seemingly without noticing their group and continued onward towards the direction of the setting sun in the horizon. The golden tinted dome around them had started to break apart like a slowly shattering piece of glass.
“Wh, what… just happened…?” Although David finally worked up the courage to speak, he stuttered.
A few minutes had passed since Skye reappeared and set their situation into disarray. Both Levy and David were filled with concern for Aden and confusion in general. By now, Aden was sleeping peacefully on the ground.
“Zealots, religious mercenaries. Judging from their attire, they are part of the Purist Sect.”
She was panting and filled that last part of the sentence with a venomous tone.
David didn’t pay attention to that and responded incredulously, “Zealots? The cause of that sound? It was like a bomb!”
“A display of their continued arrogance. Purposefully sending out uncontrolled blasts of mana to alert whoever may be below them that they are passing through.”
“A person caused that…?” Levy had a thoughtful look on her face.
Neither she nor David were able to discern the cause of that sound as it all happened too fast, but never would they have thought that something other than an airplane or bomb would be able to make a sound like that.
Skye continued, “I am sure that, like Master, you both have questions. Suffice it to say that for now, if we are found by those Zealots or others like them, they will stop at nothing to make sure that none of us see the light of tomorrow.”
“We must find a place to rest unnoticed until Master recovers,” she cut David’s question off before casting her gaze towards Levy. “Girl, under no circumstances should you carelessly give someone those Elixirs.”
“There is an empty alcove in a hill I came across earlier not too far from where we are now. We’ll talk more when we get there.” Motioning towards David, “Boy, carry Master and follow.”
Seeing her turn to leave, Levy quickly gathered up the items strewn across the ground into the satchels and David shouldered Aden. His years of martial arts tempered his body to be stronger than the average fourteen year old and he was able to carry him with little trouble.
After setting out, the two children had suppressed their questions for now and were thinking to themselves.
Levy broke the silence when they saw their destination appear up ahead.
“So! Magic, right?”
“Huh?” David was caught off guard by her abrupt question.
“Magic! Fantasy stuff! Have you ever seen anything like what happened today in anything but movies?”
“No, but how could…?”
“People flew overhead, that golden thing that appeared around us, and that colored light around Aden and Skye. And Skye! A fox! Talking!” As she talked, her voice grew louder to the point of nearly shouting.
A small distance in front of them, one of Skye’s ears twitched.
“It does… seem like that.” David was starting to strain himself a little to stay upright and talk. After all, even with his strong body, he had been carrying someone for a while now. Not to mention his taekwondo practice from before. “Earlier, my legs-“
David recalled the horrible scene from that morning. Practitioners were aware of the dangers of their craft, but he never expected a situation like that to happen.
He winced, took a breath and continued, “They didn’t feel normal. I mean, nothing today has been normal. However, for an instant, it was like…” It was like their defense didn’t exist at all as his leg crashed through their ribs as if they were tofu.
“Structural Self Augmentation.”
Hearing something incomprehensible, David didn’t understand what Skye meant.
“Structural Self Augmentation. An ability focused on manipulating the materials that make up your body. The ability primarily manifests in those of the Dwarf race, but has been known to appear in humans from time to time.”
“Dwarfs?” This time, it was Levy’s turn to be the one confused.
Skye sighed. “Let us first prepare an area to wait out the night. Although this area is mostly safe, it would be unwise to stay out without a means of defense.”
At this, they agreed. It was still light out but that wouldn’t last long.
When they walked into the alcove, they saw that it was closed on all sides save for the side they entered in from. Expanding from the sizable entrance into a small oval shape, the alcove was around four and a half meters at its widest.
“Girl, do you have anything else prepared in those vials of yours?”
“My name isn’t ‘girl’, it’s Levy.” She was starting to get annoyed at being referred to like that.
Sending her a glance, “Fine—Levy, do you have anything else prepared?”
“… No.” She admitted.
“Alright then, give Master half of one of the Elixirs and he’ll wake up as normal in the morning. The entire vial would be much too potent for him. I will be back in a moment.”
Levy nodded, taking out a vial as David sat him down on the ground. Skye leapt out of the cave.
“Just where are we…?”
The one to talk first was David, who was currently lifting up Aden’s torso to help get him to drink the liquid. Levy poured exactly half of the vial into his mouth and tilted back his head before motioning for David to lay him back down.
“I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t Earth, at least.”
“How did we get here? After I… after Aden arrived in the practice hall all I remember is a bright flash and the weird sensation of heat spreading through me.”
David did his best to bury that scene in his mind.
Closing her eyes, Levy recalled what happened. “When I caught up to Aden, after seeing what happened… yeah. That beautiful light and warm sensation, then we were here as soon as it was gone. So much happened today.”
Remembering that she had put some candies in her pocket and popped one into her mouth after quickly unwrapping it.
“Speaking of that… why were you with Aden? You’ve never really talked with either of us for years now… No way.” His face paled and looked towards his unconscious friend, “A secret relationship? Aden, behind my back, you–!!”
“No! It’s nothing like that!” She was blushing fiercely. “We were just eating together at—“
Realizing what it sounded like, she stopped trying to explain and blushed even more.
“Guh-!” His fists hit the ground as he leaned forward on his knees. “The world is too cruel! For the bookworm to have a date before me! Alas, Ariel, my goddess! I’ll never glimpse upon your perfect face again!”
Cracks even began to form on the ground where his fists struck.
“… Is this some sort of comedy play?”
Skye’s voice came from the entrance. Her tone was one of amusement.
“No matter, Aden’s Awakening affected you two as well. It’s only natural that your psyche is having trouble keeping up while trying to cope with your abilities. It can sometimes even cause permanent personality shifts.”
“That! You keep mentioning that ‘Awakening’ thing. What are you talking about!? What does that have to do with Aden and us?”
She looked towards David, who was sitting back down in a more befitting manner, “An Awakening is just as it sounds, when one wakes up from the dream that their mind constructs from birth. One in ten thousand may undergo an Awakening if they have enough compatibility with mana. Some bloodlines, like Master’s, carry so much compatibility that their Awakenings can easily affect others.”
“That light from before,” Levy began after realizing, “the light that appeared around you and Aden before that sound. Is that the mana you were talking about?”
“A form of it, yes. Normally it shouldn’t have been visible to that extent, but as I said earlier the Elixir you gave him was far too potent for him to take at his current capacity. Although not the reason why I rushed back, it was a good thing I did. Exceeding your capacity can be fatal.”
At her grim words, Levy was taken aback. She looked at the half-empty vial still in her hand.
“But… how could these do anything like that? They’re just things I’ve been practicing for my studies.”
“It’s simple. Your ability is most likely Sage. Along with the medicinal properties of natural herbs, it amplifies their properties and expands on them. Yet another rare trait for a human to have. The chances of you two having Structural Self Augmentation as well as Sage is ridiculous.”
“What do you mean? Why would it be uncommon for humans?”
“Your ability isn’t set in stone until the moment you go through an Awakening. What ability you receive depends on your own knowledge and preferences. Humans, with the shortest life span among all eight races, also undergo their Awakening the quickest after birth. With the least amount of time to increase their own knowledge, it should be of little surprise that some abilities are out of a human’s reach.”
At this point David was lost, confusion evident on his face. He spoke up.
“Wait a sec. Let’s rewind a bit here. Most importantly, what happened? Why are we not at the school anymore?”
Skye looked towards Aden, still unconscious, “I would prefer to wait for Master to wake up before—“
Some mana began leaking from Aden’s body, interrupting her sentence. His arms shifted slightly and he opened his eyes. The light immediately stopped and dissipated.
“Aden? You okay man?”
Aden tried to sit up, and was able to after a moment with David’s help. He was still slightly tired, but overall he felt alright.
Skye was surprised that he recovered so fast.
Seeing Skye, Aden felt a rush of emotions overtake him; mainly confusion. “You… what, why?”
She exhaled slightly, preparing herself. “Master, allow me to formally introduce myself. My full name is Skyrael Inari Asteri, a guardian of the noble Asteri spirit family. I have sworn to forever serve the family’s head, and as such am here now to serve you.” She bowed deeply.
The three stared at Skye, unmoving.
“Spirit? As in Ghosts?” David asked.
“No, as in myself. “ She responded and looked directly into Aden’s eyes before adding, “And you are my master, the new head of the Asteri family: Aden Asteri.”
Author’s Note: So, I think the chapter title is appropriate. Quite the information dump, probably? I have a lot more that I want to share but can’t yet~~! Thank you for reading! <3