While I was entering the room, I was no surprised by grandpa sensing our aether signatures with less to no effort. For him, it was as plain as breathing due to such extreme competency with aether.
However, as I and coco entered, we saw grandpa, rearranging the books in the huge shelf of his room, without bothering to look at us. We stood silently for the moment and waited for him to break this silence. And it was then after almost finishing up he finally spoke – ”So kai, before I fill you with the things I want, Is there anything you have to say…. or something bothering you? because the air around you seemed different than usual today ” – said grandpa, his voice as concerned and polite as always. And so it somehow pushed me to unravel all the thoughts and emotions flowing within.
”To be honest, yea…. I don know how to put it but there is something which is revolving around my mind for quite a while ” – I said as a matter of concern.
”I guessed that might would be the case…. go on boy ” – said grandpa while positioning himself on his wooden rocking chair.
”Actually its about earlier when we were on our way to home; Coco and I ran into demonic creatures, which were specifically Ghouls and Lunar fox ” – I said while locking the gaze with old man before taking a pause.
”Though it went smoothly, until, one of the Ghoul demonstrated traits which I have never seen before in any other…. ” – I said with a tensed expression, and my words heavier this time.
”Im sure he was much intelligent than any other Ghoul I have encountered until now and also, everything about him was uncanny…. First, his strength and agility were far superior than any other Ghoul and it displayed a set of skills which I have never seen before…. his face unravelled just like a blooming flower, from which numerous deadly whips emerged, coated with spikes, sturdy enough to burst through even stone wall…. Though I managed to kill him, or so I thought but in his final moments, he unexpectedly erased every sign of his bloodlust and demonic aether in an instant and patiently looked for an opening to escape. I followed him to the end and it was then I spotted the Portal which I could say they used to sway in and as soon as I was in his range to sabotage him…. he roared fiercely and unleashed a shockwave, not just any ordinary one, but instead, one so heavy and densely suffused with demonic aether, that it repelled me in mid-air to a considerable distance and till I could rebalance my footing, the demonic creature was lost and there were no traces left of portal behind ” – I explained, while grandpa and coco quietly listened and absorbed my words silently with blank expressions.
The whole room was silent for a while as I finished until grandpa stood up from his chair and finally broke the silence.
”Sigh…. Seems you had quite a peculiar encounter today, Kai. In what level would you categorise him after witnessing his strength…. ” – asked grandpa with no considerable change in his expression throughout our discussion.
”Im sure it was stronger than any regular D level but also, inferior to C level demonic creature ” – I said while the flashes of our fight from earlier rewinding in my mind meanwhile Coco was quietly listening without pulling any comment, something which hes most obligated to.
Grandpa took a long, audible breath before saying his next words.
”The history of demonic creature has always been a deep mystery to our people. No matter how much time passed or how much hard we strived to get any solid evidence on any pattern of their hunts…. we were always on the short side of the rope.
You know what, In the beginning, just when demonic creatures started breaking through portals in our world, the number of their species was not so varied but as time passed, new species started emerging from those portals and also the frequency of portals breaking around grew. And even after suffering such malice from them, the irony fact is that we still only know just a fraction of their true number, or so I think. There is no true data or evidence which can conclude that theres no chance we wouldn encounter any new species in future. Back then, when I was a regular martial and was fighting against demonic creatures, I too confronted demonic creatures which humankind never saw before, though those cases were rare. So rare, that in my whole lifetime until now, I came across such breed only once and it seems somehow this bizarre struck you too, and its quite a rare encounter regarding your age boy. ” – said grandpa while taking a pause in between.
However, whatever grandpa said, send a shiver down my spine. The current number of species of demonic creatures is enough to wreak havoc in our world, but if theres more to it, I can even imagine the extent of the devastation they will cause once unleashed.
While I was lost in my own thoughts, a voice pulled me out of daze.
”Don worry boy, though the strength of demonic creature is really frightening and enhanced with time but paradoxically same could be said for our strength as well…. through generations our understanding into aether has increased at a astonishing rate. Back then, even becoming a martial was such a great feat for anyone but now, the number of martial and the peak of their strength has grown vigorously…. ” – Said grandpa. Though his words should carry a scent of pride but instead I could sense fragments of grief from them and I knew why was it so…. because I was thinking the same as I continued.
”But wouldn that mean in future, our world will become nothing more than a battlefield of martials and demonic creatures…. ” – I said as grandpa was expecting this to come from me next.
”…..I think so too boy, but future is something which is hidden from us all, unpredictable, just like an arrow shot in sky blindfoldly, which no one knows, where will fall in the end and even if that betides what we are assuming, maybe its for a new beginning, a prosperous one ”. – said grandpa with a soft smile curling on his face to which I didn knew how to react.
But again, the ghoul I confronted didn seemed to be a new species but instead an evolution or some strange mutation of previous one. and with these thoughts I continued…..
”Grandpa, is it possible for a demonic creature to go under mutation or some kind of reawakening?? ”
This was something grandpa didn unexpected to come and so it took a while for him to ponder and answer to these words.
”To be honest, this is something I have never seen or heard before kid, and I don think theres a solid evidence or record for that in past…. but if you are saying that somehow a D level demonic creature got evolved into an upper level demonic creature, I don know what lies for humanity ahead ” – said grandpa and every word of him processing in me and Coco.
However, after staying silent for a while and exchanging our thoughts grandpa moved on to another topic.
”Though Im really proud of you that you saved innocent people from demonic creatures but still I need you to be more cautious of the threat Kai and you too coco…. ” – said grandpa while his eyes meeting coco and then added –
”I know you aren among those who act rashly, but you never know when your emotions may overtake yourself ”.
”Sure grandpa…. ” – I replied with a nod.
”phew…. Lets say the demonic creature you encountered had been much stronger than you…. then what would you had done in that case? ” – asked grandpa which I didn expected and it caught me off guard.
but after processing the scenario thoroughly and imagining multiple outcomes, I could only arrive to a single conclusion.
”Then facing it upfront would be least of my priority and instead, I would have given it all in my agility and speed and tried to create any sort of diversion to escape with victim ” – I said with no hint of doubt on my face.
”Indeed thats a great strategy to come up with according to the situation but what if the number of victims are more than you can handle? ”
At this, I stood silent and then turned towards coco. His expression was not to different than before as deep down we both knew the answer but before we could say anything grandpa voice echoed in my ears.
”I think you get what I want to say…. Kai, you already know its not easy to be a martial but still I will tell you that in future, you will come across many situations where you will have to make harsh choices, choices which might break you apart from inside for rest of your life but still never give up and always move forward no matter what happens ”.
Though these are the things which I already knew, but whenever grandpa mention them over again, I feel like a boulder is weighing on my heart.
”Well those things aside, my main purpose of summoning you here was to get a clue of your progress with Mystic Sword Arts ” – said grandpa while laying his hands on his beard.
”Your encounter with demonic creatures is actually quite an opportunity to learn the fourth technique of Mystic sword art and firm your grasp over it so I guess you didn missed to take full advantage of that ” – said grandpa with an exciting smirk.
”Yes grandpa, and today while facing off the demonic creature, I do managed to pull it but still, I think I can only use it in the heat of moment or on whim. It will still take a while for me to make it a reliable weapon in my arsenal ” – I explained the matter as it was.
”Well thats actually a feat in its own and I know you will get accustomed to it in no time so train hard boy ” – he said while moving towards the window of his room and looking up to the illuminating moon in the black sky while I stood silent.
”Mystic sword art is something that will boost your growth rate to a completely different level Kai. Every family, whose lineage has produced excellent Martials for generations, had their own aether Martial Arts from decades which they keep secret and pass down from one generation to another and so is our Vellirin familys Mystic Sword Arts. My father taught me 11 techniques of it when I was a kid but after practicing and absorbing the techniques in every fibre of my body, I managed to create a new technique of my own, far more powerful and destructive than any other 11 forms of Mystic sword art and I want to pass down these treasures to you kai ” – grandpa said with a cheerful smile on his face.
”I know grandpa, but theres something I still don understand– ” I said in a low tone, expressing my doubt.
”Why is it that you or any other family only pass these aether martial arts to their successors or to a selected individuals…. why not everyone else. You have a considerable number of disciples in dojo, who I bet, will do anything to learn mystic sword art from you then why not. If everyone is provided with such powerful techniques, wouldn it benefit in fighting against demonic creature. ” – I asked with no change in my facial expression as I knew grandpa wasn among greedy ones and if hes doing so, surely theres a reason behind it.
As I was waiting for an answer from grandpa, he turned towards me and gave me a polite smirk.
”let me ask you a question then kai, who do you think is the enemy? ” – he asked with a croaked expression.
”Demonic creature– ” – I said without giving too much effort.
”Absolutely…. but thats not all, if you ask me or any formidable Martial they will say theres more to it. Sometimes the most dangerous foe is not the one in front of us but its the one we can see coming. No matter what level of demonic creature you consider, all of them carry a common and clear purpose, to eradicate humans and everything in their path, but at the same time if I talk about any human, you will see a variety of purposes and desires imbueded. Humans true nature is seen when they are blessed with great powers and so if provided with aether martial arts, they may protect and live for humanity but the result can be complete opposite too. Isn it quite common for a human to kill another in our world just over selfish greed and hatred. And aether Martial Arts are something, created by our ancestors to aid us with fighting against demonic creatures not against ourselves so we must ensure not to let them fall in wrong hands ”.
After listening to grandpa, though it hit me hard but whatever he said, every word of him, was true. but at the same time, I was feeling elevated to be given this chance to learn aether martial arts.
”So kai, for now, I want you to stand low in crowd and specifically, prevent using your aether martial arts in front of any other martial unless you reach A-rank because it might attract unwanted trouble for you. And I just remembered you and coco are both going to take martial exam soon, once you cross the eligible age. So do you have any gist of what rank you might achieve? ”. – grandpa asked with a amusing expression on his face.
At this I and coco both looked at each other before giving our opinions.
”I really don know what rank I will be assigned but I expect it to be D rank for now and as for Coco I think…. ” – just as I was about to complete, I got interrupted.
”Let me finish my part Kai, So master, with all respects, I will say that after taking into account of my sharp sensory enigma, physical attributes and my current skills of aether manipulation, I will at-least get B rank ” – Coco said with a grin which was really awkward in the situation as I and grandpa both knew hes nowhere near to get a B rank martial companion grade.
Preventing himself to laugh out loud, grandpa coughed few times to cover it up while I stood there with a frowned, unpleasant face.
”Well thats great that both of you have a general idea of where your strength falls and I hope you both succeed your expectations with your talent and hard work ” – said grandpa, his words elevating our morale.
”And I hope you remember that from next month you have a University to attend for graduation kai ” – he added.
”Yes grandpa I do remember but I wanted to ask…. is it really any important for me to attend a university for graduation while pursuing to be a formidable Martial? ” – I said with a hope to seek an admirable reply.
”Kai, as much as strength is important, so is knowledge and thats also the reason why your graduation course is specifically choosed to be related to aether, our continent and demonic creatures and all, I don see a losing end in it boy ” – explained grandpa with humble tone.
”I see… well then ” – I agreed as I couldn see any objection in it.
”Also don forget about the new regimen I told you about earlier. We decided to put it into act from tomorrow ” – grandpa said with a hint of doubt on his face, expressing that we forgot about it.
”ofc we both remember grandpa, we will see you early in the morning ” – I said while locking eyes with Coco to beckon me and he nodded in approval.
”Well then, I don see anything left to dig about, good night, see you tomorrow ” – said grandpa with a benevolent smile on his face.
”Good night grandpa ”- we both said while moving out of the room and finally calling it a day.
RILEY VELLIRINS POV
Damn I just forgot to mention the part of hiding Cocos speaking ability. Though animals and birds too have their Enigmas and a certain level of understanding of manipulating aether, but communicating with human is something no veteran martial would believe to be an Enigma.
I Still remember the day when I found Coco for the first time; that was completely unexpected and I didn know he would become such an important part of our little family and most of all, such a reliable companion of Kai.
And for Kai, he says he expect himself to be a D rank martial; Bullshit…. I can tell hes already on par with a C rank martial. However, you look at it, it takes around the age of 21, along with proper training to get as Strong as a D rank martial for an average aether wielder but here he is, already surpassing that level just at an age of 17. An unintended grin curled on my face at this thought due to excitement.
I really am raising a monster…. well hes my grandson after all.
And I think hes ready for the next step to make the Mystic sword art his own…. this is really going to be crazy. Even for me, It took age of 25 to reach the 5th technique of Mystic sword art but that kid, achieved that feat at just 17. Sometimes even I can help but amaze on his capabilities.
I don know why, but whenever I look at him, Im subconsciously reminded of you old friend. I wish if you could be here, with everyone like before but ironically, thats all just memories now.