Chapter 5 – ‘A Piece of Urgency’
David and Levy were on Aden’s left and right side respectively, with David sitting on the ground directly and Levy sitting with her legs folded under her.
Roughly two meters away from the three was the two-tailed fox. She was sitting on the ground, her tails were swaying back and forth gently. Aden hadn’t paid much attention last time, thinking it a hallucination, but the fox seemed to be abnormally small. She would barely reach his knees while standing on two legs. Along with the difference in size, she had some distinctive markings on her fur. The tips of her ears and tails were golden like her eyes, like expensive furniture or jewelry. On her forehead was a small fireball shaped marking, like the ones he saw in his dream from earlier.
“To think that your Awakening would advance so quickly,” her eyes seemed to sparkle as she stared at Aden.
David had been looking between him and the fox during this time. He was opening and closing his mouth, trying to say something but unable. Levy on the other hand, stared fixedly at Aden as tears continued to well up in her eyes and gripped Aden’s hand tighter.
Overcoming his mental fatigue, Aden forced himself to accept the fox as reality; at least temporarily. For now, he decided to get up off the grass. When he attempted to move his hands out of Levy and David’s grips, Levy wouldn’t let go. Instead, she helped him up.
“And to be able to bring so many just from proximity! With this, the Asteri line just might…” Her voice trailed off and her ears twitched when Aden sat upright. “Master, I don’t think it’s wise to be moving around so soon after the transfer. It must have taken a large toll on your body.”
Just like the fox said, when he was helped to his feet by Levy his body suddenly felt like a limp noodle and legs buckled underneath him, falling onto his bottom. Levy let out a small cry of alarm, “Ah!” Thankfully, the grass was thick in this area and his fall was cushioned.
The wave of exhaustion was sharply contrasting how relaxed his body felt even now.
Quite bothered by this point, Aden looked at the fox, “Why do you keep calling me master? Who are you? Where are we?” His barrage of questions didn’t end there, “What is an Awakening? And why can you talk!?”
As though the fox just thought of something, she bowed her head. “This fox’s name is Skye. I will answer Master’s other questions soon. However, I must first confirm our location and safety. You two,” she pointed her muzzle towards the two classmates, “do not leave Master’s side.”
With that, she stood up and turned around before leaping away. Her speed was so fast they could only make out a blur the moment she moved.
“… Aden. What’s going on…?” David, who was finally able to speak after the fox left, was staring at the spot where it had been sitting.
He could only shake his head, “I have no idea, but for now I think we should do what the fo… Skye said and stay here. From what it said, it could be dangerous for us to move from here.” He had the strange feeling that the fox wouldn’t harm them and could be trusted.
The next few minutes were passed with relatively little happening. Levy was just barely able to cope with the situation and put on a smiling face to try and lighten the mood after wiping the tears from her eyes. To take charge and act sensible in this outrageous situation, she separated from Aden and suggested that they should all three go through what was brought with them.
“Until we know more we should treat this like a survival situation. It’ll help to know what we have to use!” She started laying things out from the main section of her satchel.
David nodded silently but didn’t move. Levy and Aden had their satchels, but he had nothing with him other than the ripped dobok he was wearing. The others didn’t see that his face was clouded by depression. The scene in the practice hall and the feeling of his partner’s ribs cracking was playing in his mind over and over.
With everything laid out from their satchels, other than the clothes they wore, the group had altogether seven books, three notebooks, a dozen pencils and pens, and a box of a few dozen carefully wrapped glass vials.
Picking up one of the glass vials, Aden asked, “Vials? Why these?” He was confused as to why Levy would be carrying around a box of tiny vials.
“It’s my hobby,” she replied. Seeing his questioning face she stuck out her tongue and continued, “Not carrying around vials, but what I use them for. The reason I was accepted into Haven Academy was because of my aptitude in medicine—specifically natural remedies.”
Every student of Haven Academy was selected for their prowess in at least one field. Though not all could be considered geniuses, they were at the very least incredibly skilled and could both learn and apply knowledge easier than ordinary children. This was one of the reasons why their academy had been able to become so reputable and have such successful alumni. Some of the more dedicated students, like Levy, would even self-study as a hobby.
For Aden, he was accepted into the academy for his spatial reasoning in relation to mathematic functions. Bluntly, he can easily relate math to reality. David preferred rocks and metals in geology, but generally slacked on his studies for his true passion—kicking things really hard.
“Oh,” Aden had known that she focused in the medical field from their years of sharing a classroom, but since he mostly kept to himself he didn’t know more than that. “So… you prefer using herbs and things like that? What does that have to do with these vials though?”
She raised a finger triumphantly, “They have everything to do with it of course! Seeping various herbs or roots in water for some amount of time can produce amazing effects on the human body and can improve your health or ease pain or speed up healing along with many other things! Being able to drink it helps affect the body faster.”
Hearing her speak so excitedly, David looked towards the two with a rueful grin and almost forgot about the situation. This kind of talk truly didn’t fit the atmosphere at all.
Aden couldn’t help himself, “So… herbal teas? That’s a relaxing way to take medication.”
At that, Levy deflated slightly and blushed. How could she say that the reason she thought of focusing on that was because she saw him contentedly drinking tea during lunch every day?
“Y, yeah, something like that… it’s better than getting needles poked at you any day at least. These were put together with materials from the garden at the academy just after the exam this morning! I’m practicing with traditional things like ginseng and lavender to start with. They’re something I’ve been working on for a while now, close to being like an energy drink. “
Something seemed to occur to her and she asked, “Hey, Aden… w, would you… like to try one?” She looked down at the grass as she asked.
“W, well, lavender is good for fatigue and ginseng is known for being good at restoring vitality, so from what that fox said I thought it could help you…” Her voice trailed slightly at the end as she fidgeted, continuing to look at the grass.
“Oh. Okay then,” he looked towards David. “How about you? She says they’ll help with fatigue.”
Shaking his head, “I’ll pass for now. I’m not… tired. Don’t worry about me.”
Aden looked at him with inquisitive eyes but accepted it with a shrug. “Alright, then I’ll gladly have some of your herb tea.”
She pursed her lips at the last part of the sentence. “It’s not a tea,” she grumbled under her breath. She took the cork stopper out of the vial still in Aden’s hand and motioned for him to drink it.
Just as Aden drank the liquid from the vial, they heard an explosive sound.
A moment before and some distance away.
Skye stood on the branch of a large tree, having just finished confirming the immediate area is safe.
“To think that the embed transfer formation would be thrown this far off by Master’s Awakening. It may not have been constructed with moving twenty other people in mind, but for this to happen? We are quite a distance away from the target location…”
She was not the most familiar with the Grun continent, but after looking through the thick forest for landmarks she ascertained that the transfer was off by approximately a thousand kilometers to the southwest of the Anchor.
“Apart from the question of where the other eighteen are, at least everything else seems to be fine. This area of Grun shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If they have any luck they won’t be too fa—”
She stopped mid-sentence. Far away in the sky were several shapes heading towards somewhere in the distance past her. Judging from their approaching figures, they would pass directly overhead. She saw the pure white uniforms the group wore and became startled.
“Zealots!” She shouted to herself inwardly, realizing what the figures were, “I can’t let them notice Master!”
She leapt from the branch at full speed, shattering it with the force from her hind legs.
In an instant, she traversed the two hundred meter distance between her and the group of classmates. She stopped after hitting the ground, but a blast of wind pelted the three.
She saw them sitting next to assorted items from two satchels with Aden drinking something from a vial. He’d nearly dropped it from his hand because of Skye’s explosive entrance.
“I know Master has questions and is fatigued, but forgive this action!”
Golden tendrils of light shot out from her figure aimed towards Aden and surrounded him. Following the light, she leapt towards him. Just as they were about to collide, she slowed midair and breathed in deeply. Blue light began to leak from Aden’s skin and be absorbed by the golden light, causing it to glow more brilliantly.
However, Aden was visibly weakening. His eyes drooped and he slumped down towards the ground. David and Levy quickly motioned to help him but were driven back by the light, exerting a repulsing force on them. Unable to help, they looked worried.
“What are you doing to him!?” David demanded from Skye.
“Please do not be alarmed. As I have yet to form a proper contract with Master, this is all I can do to hide him.”
She breathed in deeply again, with more of the blue tinged light being emitted from Aden before being absorbed by the golden light.
“All I can say for now,” she began, ”is that there are people that don’t want Master here and I am stopping them from being able to see him!”
However, contrary to her expectation the blue light emanating from Aden doubled, then doubled again. Skye couldn’t understand how someone that had just Awakened could still have so much mana left over.
She noticed the empty vial in his hand and the scent coming from it.
“You there, girl!” She hurriedly called out towards Levy. “Quickly, tell me what Master just drank!”
“N, nothing! Just something I made for school!” Among other things, she was flustered from hearing Aden be referred to as ‘Master’ and stuttered her response.
Surprised, she gasped to herself, “This girl, could she possibly be… a Sage?” She flicked her eyes towards the box of vials for a moment before breathing in deeply yet again.
This time, there was a visible change in her appearance. Along with the two tails, a third appeared that were identical to the others.
“Master should be low enough on mana now,” she thought to herself.
The blue light surrounding Aden abruptly ran out and the connection between the two was severed. The golden light retreated back into Skye and she slowly descended from floating midair in front of Aden. The third tail that had appeared flashed out of existence.
She spoke out loud, “Conceal!”
A golden dome rose up from the ground and covered the group. It shimmered faintly as it finished forming above their heads. It looked like golden stained glass from the inside, but if one were to be viewing them from the outside it would look like there was nothing but grass there.
Barely able to keep his eyes open, Aden was staring at her with a tired expression.
David and Levy called out his name, but his hearing was muffled, like his ears were stuffed with cotton. His mind grew fuzzy and he could feel himself drifting into darkness.
“I am deeply sorry for my actions, Master.” She laid down and bowed her head regretfully.
A terrifyingly loud sonic boom resounding through the sky overhead.
Immediately after, Aden lost consciousness yet again.
Author’s Note: Aden was probably incredibly tired at this point and running on adrenaline or something anyways… right? He’s lost consciousness so many times now maybe I’ll call him Sleeping Beauty.