”huff- One more time ”- I whispered out faintly, my body completely wrapped in a thick layer of sweat and my lungs almost out of breath but even so, ignoring all those elements for a while, I released a surplus amount of aether from my body and subsequently, in the blink of an eye, I was completely wrapped in a violent layer of blue aether from head to bottom. but the amount of aether I was releasing was so absurd for me, that I could feel every ounce of strength within myself being sucked out with each passing second. My aether reserves were completely drained in an instant after releasing and trying to maintain this layer of aether around my body and before I knew, the layer of aether, which I was trying to maintain so arduously, vanished in air, like it was never there to begin with.
My whole body, at this point, was crumbled from inside as well as from outside, and so I fell on the floor, following up with the inertia of my body.
At this point, I was panting much more heavily that I wanted to admit and as the stream of sweat was flowing down my forehead, grandpas words were echoing more and more clearly in my mind.
”Kai, this technique, Wind Splitter, is by far one of the most difficult technique of Mystic sword art, so, I don need to mention how difficult your training is going to be. But for your aid, I have broken down the whole process in 3 steps which will make things a bit more systematic and consumable for you.
So, for now, I want you to just focus on the first step and no need to think of other stuff which you can pull off right now.
So in this first step, you have to form a layer of aether all over your body…. the thickness of the layer is not the main point of concern in this step but its the density of Aether I want you to maximise. Make the layer as dense and heavy as possible and try to maintain it for atleast 30 seconds ”.
And just as he instructed, I followed up with his words and released as much aether I could from my skeleton, but as soon as it was out, on the surface of my body, my control over it also begin to perish and it was then I realised how much quantity of aether one would require to pull off this step.
I tried again but the results were no different than before.
”You are doing it wrong way boy…. here let me show you how its done ” – said grandpa after observing my futile attempts for a while.
And then, he slowly begin to release Aether from his body but this time, the wildness and intensity of Aether was much confined than before, when he did wind splitter.
The aether around him was just so to maintain that layer of aether over his body.
But this layer of white aether that shrouded him, was completely different than mine.
It was so smooth and stable that it almost looked like an extended part of his body whereas mine is far more unstable and misshapen that I doubt, it can be even considered as a layer.
Unlike mine, the density and composition of aether of this layer around him was evenly constant over his whole body.
After witnessing this sight, I tried harder and harder to create the similar layer as him or atleast as stable as him but each attempt of mine was nothing but a failure and finally after getting all tensed up by these empty attempts, I somehow asked grandpa out of frustration – ”What is it that Im doing wrong here…. Am I lacking aether grandpa?? ”.
After staying quiet for a while, and giving me his expressionless face, he finally spoke –
”Indeed you are lacking, but its not aether…. its sight ”.
I rooted at my position for a while, as it took me a while to ingest his words.
”Wh-what does that mean?? ” – I asked, my voice much more confused than I wanted it to be.
”Figure it out yourself…. I gave you all the raw material, whatever was necessary, now its upto you how well you blend them. Well I think its already time, I should leave for dojo. Practice harder kid and you too coco. I want you to perfect that move as fast as possible my almighty beast…. ” – said grandpa while waving us his goodbye.
”Leave it to me master…. ” – roared coco from back, which I didn had any gist of what technique hes learning.
but ignoring him for now, I looked back again for grandpa to get some more clue of what he meant by me lacking sight but before I could do that, his figure disappeared within the air.
”Seems I will just have to rely on myself this time ” – I wheezed while being derisive.
And thats how I ended up where Im right now, exhausted to the fullest extent, lying on this ground with less to no strength.
Well, as my aether reserves are completely drained at this point, its best to call it a day for now and access more to what grandpa explained earlier.
And with this thought dwelling up in me, I shouted in Cocos direction, who, I didn knew what was doing, by just waving all four of his limbs in a random or desynchronize pattern to be more specific, in air.
”Im leaving Coco…. what about you? Still continuing? ”
”Go on ahead you weakling, this can be even considered as my warm-up ” – he barked, which pushed my temper to its limit but I ignored this one as I don even had any strength left to create a scuffle.
”Suit yourself- ” – I whispered while making my footing stable, before leaving for the surface up above.
After walking in the dark pathway, stepping on each staircase cautiously, I was finally facing the front of the door which was the entrance as well as the exit of this astonishing chamber.
As I pressed hardly on the knob of that huge door, it pulled, not too much but a faint amount of my aether signature out of me, just like a fingerprint lock of mobile phones, and only me, grandpa and Cocos aether signature are the ones that can open this door. Mom too knows about this secret chamber but can enter this chamber on her own as shes not an aether wielder, rather just a normal human, a human that can bring an exceptional martial, and other 3 aether wielder on their knees if provoked. Sounds quite amusing to me if you say.
And while these thoughts were running wild in my mind, the door of chamber started to glow blue, same as the color of my aether and slowly begin to open, and the light particles from outside, directly bombarded in my eyelids, making me shut them for an instant, but, after readjusting my visibility, I stepped forward and found myself back in the old, cramped but sophisticated room of grandpa. As soon as I got out, I locked the gateway and again, it slowly begin to close, but this time there was no illuminating blue light around him. And as soon as it was completely closed, the thick lines at the edges of the door, vanished away and its appearance completely changed into any normal wall of a room.
Though due to my tired state, my mind was fixated on getting to my room as soon as possible and quietly lay down for a while before Emily arrives at home from her school so I can go back to my training without running into her, but on my way to my room a familiar voice fell on my ear –
”Are you done for today kai? ” – and as I turned around, I found it was no one other than mom.
”Just taking a break before going back again I guess and Coco is still down there if you were about to ask for him ” – I said while meeting my gaze with her.
”Ahh I see, but do you have any idea what time it is? ” – she asked with her eyebrows twitched.
I knew I was a bit late for breakfast but right now, my priority was my nap.
”I am skipping breakfast and will take lunch directly now…. ” – I said while turning around and moving back for my room.
”Its already lunch time you moron…. take lunch first then go wherever you want to… ” – she said with a blank expression, too obvious for me to grasp on how hopeless she felt for me at this moment.
”F-fine…. ” – I replied as I was already too shocked to sleep peacefully by the parameter of clock but my words carrying the symptoms of tiredness in them.
I didn have much appetite right after training, but I did take sufficient amount of meal to carry on till night.
But even while eating, my mind was still stuck on wind splitter; what does grandpa meant from earlier? I need to think over it with a calm mind…. I think I should start from beginning, the first step as grandpa mentioned, coming back onto it, I need to figure out what was the difference between my layer of aether and the one grandpa created.
After sitting at same position for a while and trying my ingenuity to sort this out, my mind blew up as I still couldn figure out anything. At first, I thought it was our difference in our aether level but the layer that grandpa formed around him, was containing almost same amount of aether as I could release. Now that I think about it, I know grandpa did this on purpose to show me that my aether reserves are quite potent to pull off the trick.
And as I was lost in my daze his last sentence struck me deeply.
”Its not aether that you are lacking…. its sight ”-
what the hell does he meant from that?
I smashed my head on the table as I couldn figure out anything.
But while I was occupied by this little scuffle in my head, I almost forgot mom was still there as she said –
”Whats wrong with you? If you are that frustrated, go somewhere else to take it out ”.
huh, go somewhere else…. –
I don know why but I pondered her words without even realising and suddenly my mind was deviated in the direction where it should.
”yea, maybe out to get some fresh air…. ” – she continued.
”Yea, I think I know where should I go to take it out ”- And I stood up from the chair with a jolt, with my voice, more loud due to excitement than I wanted it to be.
”Before that I need you to bring me Coco, he needs to eat his lunch too at this hour ” – she claimed.
”B-but why me? ”
”Then who? me? ” – she said with her voice turning colder.
”No-no, of course me ”.
”HARDER!! Put some more strength into your swing!! its Demonic Creature you are up against not your birthday cakes ” – I shouted on my disciples to pull the most out of them.
Though these youngsters lack real combat experience, but all six of them have great potential and if guided positively, then can become astonishing Martials.
While I stood in front of them, to observe them more and better, the female figure, swinging her sword continuously on the practicing dummy as I instructed, fell down on her knees by exhaustion.
”I-i t-think….huff huff-thats m-my limit master…. I-I…huff-can continue anymore ” – She said with her one arm fixated on floor, supporting her body, while other fixing her long, navy blue hair.
”Sigh… fine Kia you can have rest now. Rest of you guys continue…. ” – I said while meeting gaze with other four, who seemed disappointed as their little hope of getting rest, was completely sabotaged in that moment.
”This is not right master!! Why only Kia…. we can keep up with anymore of this either- ” said the boy with, dazzling yellow eyes and auburn, short wavy hair.
”Fine…. don blame me then if you become feast for a demonic creature ” – I said, my words much colder than I wanted them to be.
”Stop acting like a weakling William, how the hell can you dream to become a martial if you can even keep up with practice ” – another boy, with quite an healthy figure, black hair with a shade of Princeton orange at the ends, taunted.
”Oh shut up Henry, everyone here knows that your body is far more sturdier than ours, making you an excellent personality for such laborious training ”.
”yea not everyone is a monster like you ” – another boy added, to support William statement.
”Of course Im the best but even so you should try your best to keep up with a prodigy ” – said Henry, with a grin curling up on his face, shrouded by the stream of sweat flowing down his body while failing to figure out that he was just mocked.
”ahhh…. why did you said that Clint, now there he goes, back onto his ninth cloud ” – grunted william.
As I was watching this little mess created by my disciples, another unexpected voice fell over my ear drum from behind.
”My-my, look what we have here, how can I miss such a great show ” – said a lady, with her tan blue, long hair waving behind her back, her facial expressions were hoary but her body was just opposite of her looks, that healthy and robust figure was an easy sign of how strong she was, despite of her decrepit old age.
”And may I know what are you doing here Sam? What about your class? ” – I asked, even though I had an idea what answer I would receive.
”I just instructed them all that they had to do for today and so they are training on their own for now ” – said Sam, while giving off a shameless yawn.
Without helping, my palm reached my forehead as I whispered – ”Should I be amazed or annoyed about how carelessly you can roam around during training hours ”.
”I know my work you geezer ” – she revolted.
”well why don you go easy on your disciples now, just look at their exhausted state ”.
”Yeah… they do have strength to brawl, but not to crawl. Well, I think I can give you all rest from this combat training but I really don want to waste the time of training hours. So now, as you all are going to take Martial Ranking Test (MRT) soon, I would like to examine your basic knowledge on martials.
”You really won let us go that easily, right master? ” – said william with his gloomy expression.
”oh come on now, I already gave you the leeway by discontinuing your combat training, you want to carry on with that? ” – I asked with a selfish smirk on my face.
”Ahh….combat training is all good but I think knowledge is the real strength, so we must go on with your proposal master ” – He said while giving off an expected chuckle.
”Now then, all of you can sit down for now and answer my questions as much as you know on the topic ” – I claimed, while Sam still standing beside me and I could tell she had no intention of leaving us, not right now at least.
”So Kia, Henry, William, Clint, Curtis and Alice, first of all tell me what is the purpose of martial ranking test? ”
As soon as I finished my sentence, a few of them raised their hands, not so high but just at the level of their forehead.
”Yes Alice- ”
”Martial Ranking test is a test which every aether wielder needs to qualify to achieve the title of a martial. Its the higher authorities of ministry whos responsible to ensure that the test is smoothly conducted without any unwanted chicanery.
The main objective of this test is to examine and analyse an individuals skills and to determine if hes eligible to holder the title of a martial. But thats not all, The Martials then are further categorised, based on their level of aether manipulation ability and combat skills.
In general, a formidable martial is ranked under the following categories ascending from-
S-Rank ” – explained Alice, whose facial features were so, they did their job of emphasizing her intelligence and brilliance.
”Well done…- ” – I remarked with a warm smile, to which she responded with a genuine nod while adjusting her round glasses.
”So, as Alice mentioned there are 7 ranks in total, which are used to differentiate in Martials, on the basis of their excellence in their work and strength ”.
”Now can anyone tell me under which organizations or authorities, martial perform? ”
– and as I finished my sentence, again, the arms of these youngsters were fully extended in air.
”Yes, you William- ” .
”Yea… so as far as I know there are 2 major Class of organisations under which a Martial function. One is Ministry of Martials, which can also be considered as a public organisation as its funded and run by the politicians and higher-ups, through taxes paid by citizens to administration and the other organisations are private martial organisations, which are private organisations, run by wealthy businessmen and other corporations….. ”.
”Correct…. and just to fill you with, Me and your other masters like Sam here, were all used operate under Ministry of Martials ”.
And just as I finished, Curtis raised his hand which was quite uncommon, as hes among those who like to stay silent and figures on their work.
”Yes Curtis, what is it? ”-
”Master, which one do you think is better? Ministry of Martials or private martial organisations? ” – he said, just as I saw this coming from someone among them.
”Well Back then in our time, ministry of Martials was the center of all martial organisations and the influence of private martial organisations wasn that firm but if I compare them today, the graphs have significantly changed. Today, you will see the top tier and most powerful Martials, acquired by private martial organisations and not even that…. the powerful and influential Martials have created their own organisation, so it really takes a lot to decide, which authority you want to work for. Of course each of them carry their own benefits but if its money and luxury you are after, then private organisations would be the one to quench that thirst but if its power, authority and a pure determination to fight with all your heart, then ministry of martial is the one for you. I hope this helped you in getting a rough idea, how both of these channels operates ” – and as I explained, everyone listened with their ears dead fixated on my words.
”I think I do understand now…. ” – said Curtis with no remarkable change on his face.
”Im sure William is going to choose private martial organisations ” – mocked Clint with an ephemeral laugh as William frowned at him with his cold glare.
”Well you can chat on that matter after qualifying martial ranking test and securing the title of martial ” I said while cutting them off.
”If I remember correctly Clint, Henry and Kia, isn it your second time giving martial ranking test? ” – Said Sam after staying silent for a while, which was really peculiar.
”Yea, that was about 6 months ago…. but this time, its going to be completely different ” – said Henry on her phrase, as doty as he was.
”Well moving into my next question, I would like to know your extent of knowledge on portals, the gateway through which, demonic creature sway in our world ”
And as I finished my sentence, a very familiar voice fell on ears which I didn expected – ” If you don mind, may I take that one ”.
And as we all turned around to look for the source of this voice, we saw Kai, slowly moving in our direction with his sword, hooked rigid at the corner of his belt.