Legends of Gods. Tale of Vjaira. (B3.Ch97 up!) (REWRITE FINISHED, YAY!)

edited January 19 in Original Stories
First - the early chapters up to B3.Ch71 are in this thread along with an introduction to my story. After you are done with them, come here to keep reading new ones :)

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The thing below in this post and everything up to page 22 are old things left here for the sake of nostalgia, keke. Take a look if you are curious, otherwise just go read the early chapters~


Release schedule: 1 chapter per 2 days. Possible bonus chapters inbetween.

You should expect the releases to be around 20:00 my time, so around:

 => 14:00 EST / 20:00 CET / 03:00 CST.

In case something will be different, I will mention it in the 'AN' after the chapter : )



All rights to the story reserved by me~


Legends of Gods. Tale of Vjaira.

=> Type: Xianxia.
=> Main Genres: Action. Adventure. Martial Arts. Magic.
=> Secondary Genres: Romance. Mature. Psychological.

Synopsis:

Laien lived a completely normal life, as the first child of a meager noble family. Always with him was his little sister, Siana. They played with their cousins and friends, not knowing any of life’s hardships. All of that ended one day, when in the middle of the night, a group of outlaws raided their village. The siblings, fleeing from their house, witnessed the massacre happening in the village. The cries of pain, pools of blood of the streets…

They fled on horses with their parents, galloping through the night. However, pursuers caught up to them. Their father stayed behind, attempting to fight them off, creating a chance for his wife and children to flee. Yet, even his sacrifice was in vain. After a few minutes, the outlaws caught up again. Faced with a hopeless situation, the sibling’s mother shielded them with her own body, dying under a sword.

Just when the siblings were about to get killed, a miracle happened. Tei’Ru, the leader of the powerful Valius Clan appeared with his personal unit, wiping out the enemies in an instant, saving their lives. In the future, when asked why, Tei’Ru would only say that it’s not for them to know of yet.

Back then, three years ago, even though they were saved, the siblings were only about to face many more hardships in their lives. Getting over their trauma would prove especially hard for, at the time seven years old Laien. Just a few days after the hellish accident, he would start having indescribable nightmares… Those nightmares, however, wouldn’t be related to the memories of slaughter.

Those horrible dreams appeared to be something different, hard to describe. They were scary, painful. Impossible to wake up from. Yet, they would bring about a great change in Laien’s life… A change he, at this point, wouldn’t even dare to imagine.

What are Laien’s strange nightmares? How will he deal with being an unwanted child in the Great Valius Clan? What reasons did Tei’Ru have for adopting the siblings? What kind of future awaits Laien and Siana? Move forward, see it yourself…



Index; (re-edited chapter count: Until B1. Chapter 7)

Prologue.

Book 1. Knowing oneself:

Chapter 1. It all began that day. (Parts I-VII)
Chapter 2. Unforgivable! (Parts I-II)
Chapter 3. First Spiritual Battle.
Chapter 4. Nightmares.
Chapter 5. Their Voices.
Chapter 6. Garon's demand.
Chapter 7. Red Dragon School. (Proofread by Ains.)
Chapter 8. Amazing little sister. (Proofread by Ains and Wytchlord)
Chapter 9. The Might of an Aspect. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 10. Limitations and future prospects. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 11. Their fame spreading far. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 12. It's fine. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 13. Prelude to the disaster. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 14. Principle of Energy and the Inexistent Choice. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 15. The truth behind. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 16. The Grand Gathering.
Chapter 17. The Twin Phoenix School. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 18. Another genius. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 19. The boy's name. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 20. Prince Sinra. (Proofread by Sitrix and Ains)
Chapter 21. The dark past. (Proofread by Sitrix and Ains)
Chapter 22. Little accidents. (Proofread by Wytchlord and Ains)
Chapter 23. Rendezvous. (Proofread by Ains and Wytchlord)
Chapter 24. The new generation. (Proofread by Wytchlord)
Chapter 25. The dangerous bet. (Proofread by Wytchlord and Sitrix)
Chapter 26. Another Vision. (Proofread by Wytchlord and Sitrix)
Chapter 27. World's darkness. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 28. People's inequality. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 29. The tournament begins. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 30. The expected and the unexpected. (Proofread by Wytchlord)
Chapter 31. The fight to the last breath. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 32. Frightening power of the Martial Masters. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 33. The calm before the storm. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 34. What are you doing...? (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 35. Losing control. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 36. Wrath. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 37. Not permitted to kill. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 38. The two complete foundations. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 39. Powerful supporters.
Chapter 40. The contest of Royals'. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 41. Friend. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 42. The verdict. (Parts I-III) (All 3 parts proofread by Sitrix)


Book 2. The outside world:

Chapter 1. I'm going with you! (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 2. Setting out. (Proofread by Yong)
Chapter 3. On the road. (Proofread by Yong)
Chapter 4. Scolded? (Proofread by Yong)
Chapter 5. The dangerous recklessness. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 6. Stupidity. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 7. Dumb luck. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 8. The Iron Fort. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 9. Creating troubles. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 10. The scions of Istrah. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 11. General Agnes. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 12. A dangerous woman. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 13. Ordered to kill? (Proofread by Yong)
Chapter 14. That's not what I wanted to happen! (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 15. Let's forget about it. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 16. The life I never wanted. (Proofread by Yong)
Chapter 17. Training on their journey. The Anarchic Lands. (Proofread by Yong)
Chapter 18. Socializing. (Proofread by Ains)
Chapter 19. The Great Chieftains of the Anarchic Lands. (Proofread by Sitirx) (Edited by Kawa)
Chapter 20. A hidden village? (Proofread by Sitrix) (Edited by Kawa)
Chapter 21. The Divine Seal. (Proofread by Sitrix) (Edited by Kawa)
Chapter 22. The vicious intentions. (Proofread by Sitrix)
Chapter 23. Assaulted by many.
Chapter 24. Shade and the Shadows.
Chapter 25. A blazing weakness.
Chapter 26. The challenge of strength. (Part I)
Chapter 27. The challenge of strength. (Part II)
Chapter 28. The challenge of strength. (Part III)
Chapter 29. Disaster?
Chapter 30. The two demons.
Chapter 31. On their way to Eulean Union.
Chapter 32. Nightmares, again.
Chapter 33. Madness. (Part I)
Chapter 34. Madness. (Part II)
Chapter 35. Madness. (Part III)
Chapter 36. We'll help.
Chapter 37. The one who brings Shaari.
Chapter 38. Bestiality.
Chapter 39. Out of Luck.
Chapter 40. Taken Hostage.
Chapter 41. Lighting up a Spark.
Chapter 42. A Great Uproar in the 'New Eastern Republic of Eulene'.
Chapter 43. The Enrichment. (Part I)
Chapter 44. The Enrichment. (Part II)
Chapter 45. The Enrichment. (Part III)
Chapter 46. The Consequences of Idleness.
Chapter 47. A Frozen Village.
Chapter 48. Onwards to the Ruishi Republic.
Chapter 49. The Calm Before the Storm.
Chapter 50. Punitive Expedition.
Chapter 51. The Incoming Storm.
Chapter 52. Heavy Casualties. (Part I)
Chapter 53. Heavy Casualties. (Part II) - writing.




Glossary: (incomplete, abandoned. Take a look only if curious)
Welcome to the glossary of ‘Legends of Gods. Tale of Vjaira’! World created in a mentioned novel is long and wide, with that in mind, this glossary is created with main purpose of making searching through it fast and easy. I’d like to remind all new readers that glossary contains spoilers, describing the world as it is up-to-date with the latest chapter released.

I’d imagine that things checked most frequently will be terms related to ‘Basic Concept of The World’, aka, settings, With that in mind, glossary is divided into many clear Parts, and all information sections are then hidden in a separate ‘Spoiler Tags’. Big thanks to Yn5an3 for coding a Spoiler Show/Hide option! Hehe.

First half of Glossary is here! I will add later part when I have time to write it…

Glossary index:
Part I - A world of Practitioners. The basic world settings.
Part II - Basic Practitioners-related terms.
Part III - Advanced Martial Realm terms.
Part IV - Other important terms.
Part V - Martial Arts and Techniques known so far.
Part VI - Spells known so far.
(…)


Part I - A world of Practitioners. The basics World Settings.
All Practitioners are divided in two types of combatants. Those who use Qi to battle, usually engaging in a close combat, making use of their powerful bodies belong to the ‘Martial Realm’. Those aspiring to fight using Magic and Spiritual Energy, belong to the ‘Spiritual Realm’.

‘Martial Realm’ and ‘Spiritual Realm’ both contain two realms within. When one starts his journey on the path of Practice, he enters the ‘Mortal Realm’. Only few of those Practitioners will reach the pinnacle of Practice and enter the ‘Realm of Heroes’, the second and the highest realm of Practice.

‘Spiritual Practitioner’ and ‘Martial Practitioner’ are terms used while referring to people in the Mortal Realm.

‘Magus’ and ‘Martial Master’ are terms used with regards to Practitioners that entered the Realm of Heroes.

The Mortal Realm and Realm of Heroes similarly contain 9 separate levels within.

Up to this day, no one in the recorded history advanced all the way through 18’teen levels of Two Great Realms to reach a true pinnacle of Practice.


Part II - Basic Martial and Spiritual terms.

Martial Realm terms:
* Qi - A physical energy present in a body of every being. It’s basic color is white.
* Natural Qi - A Qi within one’s body that is not controlled by a person at the moment. Either because he can’t control it yet, or isn’t doing it at the moment.
* Battle-Qi - A Qi controlled according to a Qi Manipulating Art. Not only is it much stronger compared to a Natural Qi, it gains a certain properties, characteristic to the Qi Manipulating Art used by a Practitioner.
* Qi-Origin - An organ located in one’s abdomen, allowing Practitioner to gather, refine and Manipulate his Qi.
* Aura - A pressure of one’s Qi, that is being released in a minuscule quantity all the time, unless hidden through a special methods . It’s possible for a Practitioner to actively show off his Aura, intimidating weaker opponents… As long as they can sense it. Below the Realm of Heroes, only Magical Beasts are capable of sensing Aura of another being. An expert at the Realm of Heroes can use his Aura to judge power-level of any Martial Practitioner, or fellow comparably strong Martial Master.
* Battle Sense - Ability awakening when a Martial Practitioner enters Realm of Heroes, becoming a Martial Master. It’s also possible to awaken it faster, if one faces a powerful Killing Intent, or goes through many life-or-death battles.


Spiritual Realm terms:
* Spiritual Energy - A natural energy present in the world. The ones born with their own Spiritual Energy are capable of further improving it and becoming a Spiritual Practitioners.
* Spiritual Core -A Core present in bodies of people born with potential to become Spiritual Practitioners. Within it, a Spiritual Energy can be gathered and refined. At first, Spiritual Energy is in a vaporized state. In the later stages of Practice, it liquefies.
* Elemental Sparks - Invisible to anyone but few Spiritual Practitioners and Magi, highly condensed Elemental Energy of a specific Element.
* Elemental affinity - Potential of a Spiritual Realm Practitioner to use a certain element. Are divided in a low-level, mid-level, high-level and top-level ranks.
* Spirit - A type of pressure passively released by every Spiritual Practitioner.
* Spiritual Sense - Awakened when Spiritual Practitioner steps in boundaries of the Realm of Heroes. It heightens one’s senses, making it possible to feel movements of both Qi and Spiritual Energy in it’s range. It's possible to use Spiritual Sense to judge a power of any Spiritual Practitioner, or Magus at comparable to one's level.
* ‘Essence’ - For example, ‘An Essence of Ice’. Essences are ways of transforming a basic nature of an element or spell into something else. The easiest example being, changing Water into Ice. All Essences follow rules set by a corresponding Aspects.


Part III - Advanced Martial Realm terms:

Primary Arts:
‘Primary Arts’. The three basic arts divided in a low-level, mid-level, high-level and top-level ranks, according to their quality. Those three Arts can be learned only once, as they change the very structure of one’s Qi-Origin, making it impossible to learn any other Primary Arts in one’s lifetime. The three Primary Arts are:
* Qi Manipulating Art - Possible to learn only after reaching a Peak of 5’th Mortal Realm. Necessary to advance to 6’th Mortal Realm.
* Body Enhancing Art - Allows one to strengthen his body directly with Qi, effects of which depending on the type of Body Enhancing Art.
Body Enhancing Art needs to be compatible with learned Qi Manipulating Art and can be learned at any time after comprehending a Qi Manipulating Art.
* Battle (weapon) Art - A way of transforming Battle-Qi for a very specific use. Almost always, it corresponds to unique Martial Techniques that can’t be used to their full potential in a other case.

Low-level Primary Arts contain three levels of practice.
Mid-level Primary Arts contain five levels of practice.
High-level Primary Arts contain seven levels of practice.
Top-level Primary Arts contain nine levels of practice.


Secondary Arts:
‘Secondary Arts’. Yet to show up in the story.


Martial Techniques:
‘Martial Techniques’. They usually originate from learned Arts. Their power, when used accordingly to powerful Arts, can be truly fearsome. Embodying an element, or a powerful characteristic of a Mythical Beasts, they allow Practitioner to release attacks, defend, move, and many other, in a way normally unachievable.

Martial Techniques are separated in four ranks:
* Novice rank.
* Advanced rank.
* Master rank.
* Grand Master rank.


Part IV - Other important terms.
Aspects - For example, ‘An Aspect of Tranquility’. Aspects are emotions that are first experienced, then put into an understanding. Barely any Practitioners gained any insights in Aspects, making them a true rarity in the Starlight continent. From what is known, only extremely few Practitioners at the peak of the Realm of Heroes gained any insights in Aspects.


Part V - Martial Arts and Techniques known so far.

Primary Arts :

- Qi Manipulating Arts:
* Crimson Blood - A top-level Primary Art of the Red Dragon School. Necessary to learn in order to use their unique techniques and learn related Arts. Depending on the level of mastery, Qi used accordingly to this Art will turn deeper in the shade of red, in the very end, becoming a Crimson-blood color.


- Body Enhancing Arts:
* Dragon’s Body - A top-level Primary Art of the Red Dragon School. It boosts all physical traits of its user, while at the same time forming an armor-like barrier around his body. This Qi barrier slowly turns more and more similar to Draconic Scales, it’s defensive capacities increasing greatly with each level.


- Battle Arts:
* Dragon’s Force - A top-level Primary Art of the Red Dragon School. It allows a Practitioner to imitate attacks of a Dragon, wielding a power otherwise unattainable for one’s level. A Sword slash can become a Dragon’s Claw, a punch can carry dragon’s strength. A leg swipe can be as powerful as a true Dragon’s tail swipe. It’s an ultimate close-medium range Martial Art.


Secondary Arts known so far:
* Dragon’s Flame - A High-level Secondary Art of the Red Dragon School. Through its use, a Practitioner can change properties of his Battle-Qi to that of a Flames breathed by a Dragon.


Martial Techniques known so far:
* Dragon’s Claw - Through the use of ‘Crimson Blood’ and ‘Dragon’s Force’ Arts one can turn a sword, or even a hand slash in a Dragon’s Claw. Depending on the level of mastery, from one to five Claws will appear.
* Qi-Lance - An Advanced Technique based on shape shifting one’s Battle-Qi into a Lance. The great point about this Technique is it’s penetrative power. It’s main weakness is it’s straightforwardness, which allows user to strike only at one specific point.


Part VI - Spells known so far.

- Universal Spells:
* Guardian Spell - An unique spell allowing a Spiritual Practitioner with High Elemental Affinity to control and use his own Element within range of two meters. Though Guardian does provide a chant-less, fast use of Magic necessary in close-range combat, it’s weaker by a good deal compared to spells used through chanting. Effective range of Guardian increases with strength of Practitioner, extending up to ten meters in later stages of Realm of Heroes.
- Bottom line for learning this Spell is 3’rd Mortal Rank. Upper limit of effectiveness does not exist.


- Elemental Spells:

Fire Element.
* Freezing Nova - A Forbidden Magic that Laien witnessed in his Vision. It’s a spell at an unimaginable level, capable of freezing to death everything in ten kilometer radius from caster.
- Bottom line and upper limit for this Spell is unknown.


Water Element.
* Water Spikes - A simple spell creating a tough Spikes of Water, than can be shot at a target. Number of Spikes depends on the amount of Spiritual Energy used and the level of Caster.
- Bottom line for learning this Spell is 3’rd Mortal Rank. Upper effective limit is at the 7’th Mortal Rank, due to its simplicity.

* Water Sphere - An instant Spell that created a defensive Sphere around the caster. It’s toughness usually allows to block one strike from Practitioner of the same level. Uses up a lot of Spiritual Energy, so it’s not most efficient way to defend oneself.
- Bottom line for learning this Spell is 6’th Mortal Rank. Upper limit does not exist.

* ‘Engulfsion’ - A simple Spell based on covering your opponent with Water, which then attempts to either crush him or get inside his body. The effects of later as almost always deathly.
- Bottom line for learning this Spell is 5’th Mortal Rank. There is no upper effective limit.


Earth Element.
---


Wind Element.
---


Lightning Element.
---


Light Element.
---


Darkness Element.
---




Prologue.

They walked side by side, excitement shining in their eyes. For the first time in countless years, Laien felt his heart throbbing wildly

“This day will truly be the beginning of a new era, do not fail me, Laien. I have great expectations.”

Laien trembled, a pleasant shiver ran down his spine. Just a gaze alone was enough to overwhelm him to the root. Without hesitating in the slightest, he fell to one knee.

“Yes, Master!”

The Man laughed merrily, his look filled with warmth. “Laien, don’t kneel before me, geez. Come on, let’s go. They are all waiting.”

Laien immediately followed. Soon, they both arrived at the peak of a great mountain. Just a few people were waiting for them, and upon their arrival, they greeted their Master.

Most of them kneeled before this Man. Only the closest to him bowed, or simply nodded towards him with a smile.

“Let us greet them, preparations are nearly finished.” The Man said, smiling.

Exchanging no more words, all of them went forward, standing in a casual row, with their Master in the very middle of it. The closer to him, the more important one was.

Laien was very satisfied, being the second to the left. Only his power and achievements so far allowed him to obtain this position.

As they approached the mountain’s cliff, an immeasurable sea of experts came into their view.

Instantly, a heaven shuddering roar erupted forth, shaking the whole world at its core.




Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 1. It all began that day. Part I.


Laien kneeled on one leg, staring at the coffin with clouded eyes. He tensed up, feeling many unpleasant gazes from behind him. He gave his best to ignore them, knowing that in his current situation, all he could do was to bear with it.

 

Laien wondered, why did Tei’ru need to die now? He was still only ten, but Tei’ru passed away, making everything so incredibly difficult. Despite his worries, Laien decided to not mourn the past, instead focusing on the matters in front of him.

 

Just this once, though, he wanted to reminisce everything. He wanted to settle his inner feelings towards the Old Man, who he loved and hated at the same time.

 

Laien truly didn’t know how he should feel about Tei’ru. He had a reason to be grateful to him, and a reason to hate him. Both of those extremely important. Neither could be easily forgotten, nor forgiven.

 

For one instance, Tei’ru was the one who saved him and his younger sister three years ago. For that alone, Laien was extremely grateful. Old Man even went as far as adopting them into the Valius family… Only later Laien realized how great of a meaning this one act have had.

 

A leader of one of the three greatest clans of Sarkcente Kingdom, taking a two war orphans as his son and daughter! Even if they previously belonged to a declined noble family, it was simply an unthinkable, ridiculous decision.

 

Laien smirked self-mockingly. If not for this unreasonable act of Tei’ru’s, they wouldn’t be in so much trouble after his death. Holding back a long sigh, Laien thought about the one thing that he absolutely hated about Tei’ru.

 

In the next instant, Laien forcefully threw this memory away. He closed his eyes, trying to calm down. But… This was the one thing that he couldn’t ever forgive Tei’ru for doing, no matter what his reason was.

 

Shaking his head, Laien abandoned his attempts to decide how he felt about Tei’ru . Now, all of that was a thing of the past. It simply didn’t matter anymore. He had other things he should be worrying about.

 

He looked to the left, at his younger sister, Siana. She was standing completely straight, like an immobile, expressionless rock. A weak smile appeared on Laien’s face. Siana was only eight and yet she already behaved properly. She despised Tei’ru. She hated him. Nevertheless, she listened to his reasons and agreed to come here and pay her respects.

 

It was a fortunate thing, that only men were expected to kneel in front of the coffin. Convincing his little sister to come was one thing, making her kneel… Would be impossible, given her stubborn character.

 

Laien suppressed a sigh, wondering to himself. “Old Man, why didn’t you just accept us as a honored guests, instead of adopting us? It would have been so much better…”

 

Laien or Siana weren’t related by blood to the Valius family, neither were they engaged to any youths of theirs. Given the fact that a majority of the Valius family viewed them with contempt , their lives here would become much harder.

 

With no one to rely on, two adopted brats occupying a positions on the very top of the Clan’s hierarchy… It should be understood, that for many of the Valius family, such a situation was simply  unacceptable. Noblemen always had a stupid amounts of pride in them. To have two brats stand above them in the hierarchy wasn’t something that they were willing to bear quietly.

 

Laien stood up, having done the thing he came for. He paid his respects, so did Siana. There was no reason for them to stay in the Cathedral any longer, enduring a suffocating atmosphere. Laien grabbed his little sister’s hand and headed out together with her. They exchanged a short look, knowing that both of them are equally happy to leave this place.

 

Looking at the two siblings walking past him, Jasi sneered , displeased. He truly disliked this one brat and his sister. Even though they weren’t of the Valius family lineage, their status was supposedly on par with his. The third son of the next Clan Leader, equal to Laien? Just because Grandfather Tei’ru adopted him in an act of insanity?

 

Maybe if it was just that, he could handle. He could just pay no attention to those siblings, as in reality, they didn’t hold any power within the family at all. However, to this very day he remembered clearly how once, because of Laien, he got in a big troubles with grandfather Tei’ru.

 

Just once! He skipped his boring lessons with an old tutors just once. And it just so happened that Grandfather Tei’ru was talking a walk around the city with Laien. At first, Grandfather wasn’t even angry at him, he didn’t intend to punish him in any way! But!

 

Grandfather must have asked Laien what he thinks ‘about his grandson skipping his lessons’. And what did this seven year old brat reply back then?! Even now Jasi could remember his words perfectly. “He doesn’t care about what he has in life and just wants to lazy around. If he doesn’t want to use his life properly, being born in such a good position, he can as well go ahead and switch with me.”

 

Maybe Laien was even right, but so what? Was he not allowed to have fun in his life? He couldn’t take a break and play around for once, like all normal kids did? Jasi felt incredibly sour about this one particular memory.

 

“After that, Grandfather Tei’ru actually agreed with him, and decided to punish me! For three months, I did nothing but train with sword, train my body, study economics and war tactics! Tree fucking months! Six hours of sleep, and eighteen hours of this hell! I didn’t see any of my friends even once for three months! Motherfucker!”

 

Just thinking about that made Jasi feel boundless rage. If he could, he would have repaid this debt ten times over a long time ago. Regretfully, with Laien being Tei’ru’s favorite, he couldn’t do anything to him. But now Tei’ru was dead. His own father would soon succeed the position of Clan Leader. No matter what he did, as long as it wasn’t anything too extreme, there would be no consequences.

 

Just this thought made Jasi happy, his mood brightening. He would no longer need to act like if he tolerated presence of those two strays in his family. “Hmmm, what should I do to him? Let’s think about it tonight, maybe someone will have a good idea.” Feeling a lot better now, Jasi went to pay his respects to Tei’ru.

 

With regards to Laien and Siana…

 

Truth to be told, Jasi was completely right. Even if those two siblings were to disappear, nothing would change. In the main family, most of its members  had similar thoughts. They never understood why, three years ago, Clan Leader Tei’ru took in two run of the mill kids and even went as far as adopting them as his own scion.

 

They didn’t dare to argue in front of Tei’ru, but, they never hesitated to show siblings that they weren’t welcomed in their Valius Family.

 

Of course, they were exceptions, too.  Some Family members didn’t really care, maybe even thought that leaving those two alone would be for the best. As long as siblings would not create any trouble, they wouldn’t  bother with them either. Nothing more, nothing less. None of them went as far as offering a hand to Laien and Siana after Tei’ru passed away.

 

Laien sighed quietly, as he left the unpleasant atmosphere behind. He truly felt that he was not welcomed in this Family. But, as a kid, what else could he do? He even considered trying to leave to live normal life in Neil city as a commoner. He saved up some gold, so living on his own with his little sister would not be that hard.

 

Unfortunately, the world wasn’t so simple. Had he left for no reason, Valius family would have born a grudge towards him for not appreciating their ‘kindness’, thus making every day hard for him. What else could have he done? Leave the province as ten year old kid with a bag of gold hanging at his belt? That would be asking for death, at best.

 

To make matters worse, those people of Valius Family wouldn’t understand that he himself didn’t have anything to do with being adopted by Tei’ru. Staying with them would result in hardships. Leaving would cause the same. If this wasn’t  hypocrisy, then what was?

 

Finally out of the Great Cathedral, Laien allowed himself to relax a bit. “At least in Sarkcente Kingdom, women are treated as political tools or beautiful furniture. They don’t have power to inherit on their own, so Siana should still be fine, they won’t bother with her… At least for next four, five years, until they might want to marry her off… In five years… Only five years. What will we do, then? What will happen to me, before that time, anyway…?”

 

Laien unconsciously tightened the grip of his hand, attracting Siana’s attention. With but a gaze, she asked what is he worrying about. Laien sighed, deciding to put his worries into words. From the very beginning, he told Siana about many things that were on his mind for the last week.

 

 

Time flew by…

 

Two days later, in the early afternoon, Laien and Siana were sitting on the same bed. Laien just returned to their room, after he encountered the first dose of bullying.

 

Laien only shook his head, not sure what he should do now. He guessed that Jasi will cause him some troubles, as they never liked each other too much. However, for Jasi to go that far wasn’t something he expected. He didn’t imagine that just this morning, while strolling around the open grounds, three kids older than him would attack him and beat him up.

 

“Big Brother…”Siana looked at his bruises and a dried blood covering his clothes, a hint of tears and anger shining in her eyes. Laien couldn’t help but smile, seeing how deeply his little sister cared for him. Patting Siana’s head, he reassured her again. “I told you that something like that will happen sooner or later, right? Don’t worry about me, it doesn’t hurt very much.” He tried to reassure Siana, hoping that things will turn out fine, one way or another.

 

Siana glared at him, as if scolding him for being an idiot. Just a moment later, Laien chuckled helplessly. He noticed how Siana looked like she really wanted to hug him, yet at the same time seemed to be worried that it would make him hurt more. She kept fidgeting, not knowing what to do. Laien found that quite cute of her. He patted her head, gently stroking her long, black hair, not saying anything.

 

Laien knew that Siana was a very smart girl, so he did not bother to explain the same thing again. Between them, there was no need for meaningless words. It was always like that, as far as they could remember.

 

After a while, Siana calmed down. She laid down on the bed, giving him a short, meaningful look.

 

“I’m going to wash myself, will you be staying here?” Laien asked, taking few needed things from a wardrobe. Siana nodded in response, cuddling a big pillow on the bed. “Looks like she will be fine.” Laien thought. He looked at Siana for a while longer, then left their room, heading to baths.

 

Hearing the door close behind her Big Brother, Siana hugged a pillow, trying really hard to not cry. Right now, she just wanted to fall asleep and forget about all unpleasant things.  The current and the past ones. “I’m sorry, Big Brother, I just can’t help but be happy that he died…” She mumbled to herself. Deep inside, she thought that she was being really unfair towards her Big Brother. It made her feel really bad.

 

Accompanied by those unpleasant feelings, she slowly fell asleep.

 

Walking through empty corridors, Laien wondered where he should go to wash himself. Looking all beaten up like that, he preferred to have some time in private. If he could, he preferred to avoid people speaking of this incident. He thought it would be for the best if no one at all realized what happened to him. “Hmph, when they ask, what will I be supposed to answer? Hey, friends of your Young Master are bullying me? As if they would believe that…”

 

In the end, Laien decided to simply use the Great Baths. At this time of the day, just before noon, they were usually empty, so he probably wouldn’t meet anyone there.

 

As for Great Baths, they were built directly on top of a hot springs. Washing oneself there could easily be considered a luxury. A stable access to the hot water was something that only few in the world could afford to own, Valius Family being one of them.

 

Inside the Great Baths, as expected, was pretty quiet. Only a calming sound of the flowing water could be heard. Laien went into one of the deepest rooms, as he usually did when coming here. He took off his clothes, putting bag with fresh ones on a wooden stool. “I guess I really need to clean myself properly, ugh, so much dirt all over…”

 

 In no hurry, Laien prepared some water in a wooden bowl. Before entering the bath, he needed to clean himself… Well, that would be the most unpleasant part.

 

As he poured some water on his head, he twitched a bit. He was more or less used to pain, after training his body for the last two years. Still, it didn’t mean he enjoyed hurting.

 

Laien closed his eyes, allowing his consciousness to wander freely. He could clearly feel  each drop of the water falling down from his black hair. He was completely aware of the moisture covering his body... He smiled, enjoying this unique feeling. “I just don’t have enough time. Fifteen … No, just ten years would be enough. Then, I wouldn’t need to worry so much…”

 

By now, Laien understood that to ensure a good life for himself and Siana, he needed to become strong. Although he was part of the Valius clan, his influence was negligible. His only option was to gain everything he wanted by his own strength.

 

In this world, no one would listen or care about him, child with no true noble background. Even if he were to become an outstanding talent in governing or tactics, without backing-up from someone, he would not achieve anything. To be respected, he needed to gain power! That was the only way left for him.


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  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 1. It all began that day. (Part II)

     

    After washing carefully, Laien slowly sank his whole body in the water of the natural hot spring. He took a deep breath and immersed himself in the surrounding liquid, attempting to connect his senses to it. Regrettably, he was still far too weak to properly use such an advanced training technique. He could as well be trying to feel the touch of one’s hand through a thick glass and achieve similar results.

     

    “Why would you show me so much, if I am yet unable to grasp it?” Laien felt somewhat annoyed. He felt like he was being teased and could not do anything about it. He didn’t remember much from these dreams, but some things were clearly imprinted into his memory. Sometimes, even in such a way that Laien himself wasn’t quite aware of them.

     

    Laien dove underwater and after a few seconds, surfaced and shook his head. His black hair seemed to shine unnaturally as he waved his hand, murmuring the words of a spell.

     

    “Unique Magic, Guardian!” Laien called out silently, directing the surrounding water to circulate around him at a slow pace.

     

    “Not bad, but I wish I could do more with it…” he sighed a little, wondering how long would it take him to become strong enough to be recognized by other people. This simple, yet very special spell was a definite proof of his talent. Only those with a very high level of elemental affinity were capable of using Guardian spell and Laien knew that, however, only that.

     

    He never met any other spiritual practitioners to compare himself with, neither had he a proper teacher. Regrettably, Sarkcente Kingdom disdained magic to a large degree. Even in times of war, they only employed magicians as mercenaries. It was fairly reliable to say that spiritual practitioners were incredibly rare in this country; to find a true spiritual master, a Magus, to become one’s teacher? It was borderline impossible. Even in a humongous Neil City with its population of over one million Laien failed to acquire any reliable source of knowledge about magic…


    Shaking his head, Laien decided to use his time in a more productive way than to worry about what he couldn’t have. He got out of the bath and leaving only his legs in the water, entered a meditative trance. Recently, Laien discovered that his power grew faster if he trained near water, so he started doing exactly that. Why did it work like this? He wasn’t too sure. He could only guess that it was like that for every spiritual practitioner who trained near the element he excelled at.

     

    Feeling the spiritual energy slowly oozing out of his body, Laien reached out with his hand and tapped a blue spark floating above the water’s surface. He smiled, seeing how the blue spark bubbled back out after a few seconds. When meditating, he could see those strange things that from what he heard, were called ‘elemental sparks’. He liked playing with them, as he could move them, while even a strong wing couldn’t.

     

    “Okay, I have to focus properly,” Laien reminded himself and concentrated on training, steadily depleting his Spiritual Energy. He didn’t hurry or rush the process, having long since learned that doing it slowly has much better results than simply getting rid of all his strength at once. Not only would his strength grow faster this way, he would also have time to improve his control over it and attempt to attune himself to water element. After a few months of trial and error, he naturally came to develop train in this way, which he thought yielded best results.

     

    After half an hour, Laien felt his reservoir of spiritual energy reaching its bottom. However, instead of leaving the meditative trance, he instead focused on recovery. Just as exhausting oneself physically, using up large amounts of spiritual energy had its consequences. Among them were dizziness, inability to concentrate, overall feeling of being tired and alike. However, were one to continue his meditation, he would be able to recover five, six times faster than by resting normally and would quickly get rid of any side effects. That was also something Laien learned around three years ago, when he started experimenting with training methods.

     

    At first, Laien thought it would be a good idea to train in this way for longer periods of time; to deplete all of his energy, recover it and repeat the process, which would usually take him around three hours. However, he quickly discovered that his body couldn’t sustain that much. After once going through three full sessions and training for ten hours straight, he had experienced a very painful backlash of terrible pain all over his body and the sensation of his head splitting his half, he never dared to go overboard again. Currently, four or five hours of spiritual training per day were his limit.

     

    “I wish I could know if I’m progressing well, though,” the thought crossed Laien’s mind. He was pretty sure that given ten years or so, he could reach high enough level to be viewed with importance by the Valius family, yet, he most likely had five years, at best. At worst, in just two or three years Siana’s future marriage could be set and most likely, he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Given her and his standing in the Valius family, the person she would be given to wouldn’t be anyone too important, so the likelihood of her suffering from that person’s hand was quite high…

     

    Honestly, Laien didn’t even want to think about the future. He was giving his best to train, as he couldn’t do much more, but would that really be enough? He didn’t even know at this rank as spiritual practitioner he was, as he had trouble telling when his strength was ‘breaking through’ to a higher level. For some reason, although it was supposed to be really apparent, he just couldn’t tell if he experienced any major increases in ‘level’ or not. At the very least, he was getting stronger, so he tried to not worry too much about this matter.

     

    ---

     

    Soon enough, three hours passed and Laien opened his eyes. Having gotten uncomfortable with his position midway through, he was now sitting cross legged at the side of hot spring, his hips covered by a white towel. Right now, Laien’s Spiritual Energy was mostly recovered.

     

    All in all, he used thirty minutes to deplete it, then two and a half hour to recover. At the first glance, it looked like a fairly inefficient way of training, considering that it could be done only four, maybe five hours per a day. Wouldn’t it just be better to let the spiritual energy recover naturally, then spend more time meditating?

     

    Well, that wasn’t exactly right. Laien had been wondering about the same thing in the first months of his spiritual practice, but he quickly noticed that his strength would improve much faster if he actively worked to restore it than if he were to let it happen naturally.

     

    “Should I train a bit longer?” Laien wondered for a second. He felt really comfortable here in the great baths and in truth, spiritual training was his favorite thing to do. He loved it much more than physical training, which he also did, as to not goof around for half of each day doing nothing.

     

    As he was trying to decide, mainly thinking about whether he wanted to chew on something yet or if he wasn’t that hungry, he got startled by the sound of approaching footsteps.

     

    “Did I push my luck staying here for so long?” He asked himself, not looking forward to seeing any member of the Valius family who might have come here to take a bath. Adults would be one thing, but considering the hour, it was more likely for some of the youngsters to have felt like refreshing themselves in the great baths. As for those young members of the Valius family, most of them liked to bully him in one way or another, either out of the disdain they felt towards him, or to win some favor with Jasi, whose dislike towards him was well known.

     

    Considering that he had been beaten up just a few hours ago… Laien definitely wanted to avoid any more unpleasant meetings.

     

    Also, now that Laien thought about it, he would probably need to start straying from adults, too. After Tei’ru’s death, they might also have had a change of heart and could start displaying their negative feelings in a more painful way than just giving him a cold stare or two. Now that Jasi’s father, Garon, became the next clan leader, everything would change… for much worse.

     

    The reason for that was really simple. Although Jasi wasn’t Garon’s firstborn, many people believed that it would be him to inherit the position of the clan leader in the future. With that in mind, everyone would try to win Jasi’s favor early, when he was still a kid and it was relatively easy to influence him with little things. For those high-ranked nobles of the Valius Family, acting against someone of Laien’s status held no consequences whatsoever. If by making his life miserable, they could coax Jasi, they wouldn’t hesitate to do it. After all, it cost them nothing; it was a win-win situation!

     

    Objectively speaking, those people were right to try and gain favor with Jasi, who was a very promising youth. He was very talented, brave and above everything else, arrogant. It should be understood however, that his arrogance was not unjustified. He possessed the talents necessary to live up to his father’s expectations. Given the natural air of a leader that Jasi had to him, his personal power extended very far even at his young age.

     

    Jasi’s only recognizable flaw was his laziness, as he never truly engaged in rigorous training or studying, with the exception of this one time when he had been punished by Tei’ru.

     

    Sometimes, people of the clan would bring this incident up, wondering what caused the old clan leader to be so displeased with Jasi as to give out such a punishment. Yet to this very day, only a handful of those who were directly acquainted with Jasi knew that it was all because of Laien’s remark.

     

    As for Laien, he didn’t remember too well what caused Jasi to hate him so much. At that time, when Tei’ru asked for his opinion, he had still been stricken with pain after losing his parents. He had just blurted out what he had thought at the moment without paying too much attention to what he was saying.

     

    Regardless of all that, if Jasi wanted to make Laien’s life painful, he could accomplish it with just one word. Especially now when the only man who could protect Laien was no more. The difference in statuses between the two of them was just too huge. One youth was a future clan leader, when the other was a child adopted into the family against everyone’s will. It was clear enough that if Jasi wanted to make Laien’s life painful, he could accomplish it with one word.

     

    And right now, in the great baths, as the footsteps were closing in, Laien was holding his breath, but finally seeing who came, he breathed out and sighed with relief.

     

    “Again you, huh. Come on, get out! I need to clean the place, Lord Garon and his wife will be coming tonight,” the bulky woman in her forties reprimanded him with a frown, but also a wide smile.

     

    “Right away,” replied and smiled back at Cheina. However, contrary to his words, he took his time and decided to clean himself up again. After sitting there for so long, he got all sweaty without even realizing it. Seeing him act in this manner, Cheina only shook her head. If it truly was the highest time to empty the place, she would have immediately chased him out, but since it wasn’t the case, she could as well start cleaning from a different part of the great baths.

     

    Before she left, Cheina gave Laien a long, meaningful look and shook her head yet again. “You really should know some limits, did you force yourself into training of Shire’s again? That man has something wrong with his head…” she complained, but no longer looked to make Laien change his mind, knowing how stubborn he could be about some strange things.

     

    Hearing Cheina’s remark, which surely enough was about his wounded body, Laien couldn’t help but frown. At the very least, people could misunderstand his current state in this way, so being Shire’s ‘disciple’ and having returned quite a few times hurt all over proved to be useful for something.

     

    “It’s not as bad as it looks,” Laien said with a light smile, happy to keep the truth hidden. He didn’t want any more problems and keeping quiet about what happened was the best way to make Jasi forget about him and not incur more bullying.

     

    “Other masters are too soft. With full regards to their skill, I do not think that I suit their style of teaching,” Laien explained himself, shrugging his shoulders. He made sure to pick his words carefully, not daring to offend anyone even in their absence. “I already have enough trouble at it is. The least thing i need now is for those various masters in the city to bear a grudge towards me,” he thought resignedly and suppressed a sigh.

     

    Cheina only gave Laien a stern look, but then turn around and went back to work, leaving him alone to give him some time to finish washing up.

     

    “This boy never talks with others too much and he seems way too mature for his age. Yet, when playing with my grandchildren, he is just like other kids… Well, maybe a bit like a big brother, even for the older brats,” Cheina chuckled at this thought, catching herself that she was thinking about Laien as one of her own grandchildren, even though she knew she shouldn’t. A noble was a noble, after all, no matter how familiar you were with him.

     

    After Cheina left, Laien laughed bitterly. He didn’t expect that his random decision from two years ago would prove useful in such a strange way. He had chosen Shire as his master, for what many people called him out as crazy, but personally, he was satisfied with Shire’s ruthless methods. He didn’t enjoy physical training too much, so at the very least, he wanted to make sure that he wasn’t wasting his time and wanted to get the best results possible.

     

    Thinking about all the martial training he had endured until now, Laien clenched his fist and felt a pleasant amount of force. After those two years with Shire, he was now a martial practitioner at the peak of the third rank. It could be said that his talent was fairly good, considering that normally, people would take about four years on average to reach this level. However, if one considered the amount of effort Laien needed to put into training each and every day… then his talent for martial arts could only be described as slightly above average.

     

    “I want to hurry up and reach the peak of fifth mortal realm and learn a true martial art… Then I want to quickly advance to the ninth rank and break through to the martial master level!” Laien wished quietly. He might have not been the person to enjoy martial training, but he surely enjoyed getting stronger and seeing the results of his effort. It was because of that, and because he had seen the unstoppable might of dual practitioner in one of his dreams, that he persistently pursued both paths, the paths of martial arts and magic.

     

    “So many people were making fun of me for choosing Shire as my master two years ago, but now, they pretty much got used to it. Even Cheina did,” Lian mused, recalling those old events with some embarrassment. Although from the perspective of time, his choice proved to be a good one, back then, he surely didn’t act because of rational reasons. He had simply been frustrated that he can’t practice magic as much as he wanted and went to search for a master who could teach him martial arts in the city. He had been trying to learn at various places, but everything felt like a total waste of time to him. So, one day, he decided that if he is going to continue doing something unpleasant, he might as well push himself beyond his limits and study under a somewhat crazy teacher, like for example, Shire.

     

    Apparently, the man called Shire had once been a powerful martial master who was greatly famous one hundred years ago, during the great war with Ciene Kingdom to the west... but all of that ended abruptly when he declined from being a mighty person, to a human wreck, after returning heavily wounded from one of the major battles towards the end of the great war. As of this day, Shire no longer possessed the might of martial master. After one hundred years, he was a popular object of ridicule and the example parents would use when telling their children to work hard do they don’t become like him in the future.

     

    Having associated with Shire for two years, Laien now knew that during his prime, Shire managed to gather an enormous fortune. Sadly, for many decades he wasted it on women and alcohol. When the gold finally dried up, he started his own marital school. Least said, it didn’t go well for him. In beginning, he got a few students thanks to his old fame, but his rough and ruthless way of teaching scared them away in just few days. The first real pupil who didn’t run away from Shire after the first week, was no other person than Laien himself.

     

    Ruthless training, outdated training methods that modern martial masters considered savage? Laien could only laugh at those things. As long as they yielded good results, he didn’t mind suffering some pain. He didn’t like it, but for the sake of getting stronger, he could bear with it. Thankfully, after two full years of training under Shire, he had gotten more or less used to the hectic practice and the times when he would return home wounded all over decreased noticeably.

     

    “All these bruises I got from those three still hurt… Damn. Maybe I should have retaliated after all?” Laien wondered, but after all, he was pretty sure that his decision was a correct one. He could have easily beaten the three youngsters who attacked him, he could have ran away from them, too. Yet, he didn’t, because he understood how Jasi’s and his friends minds worked.

     

    “Eh, no point regretting it. It would all turn much worse if I tried to resist them… Jasi would just get even angrier. Several punches and kicks are not scary, but if they were to try to break my legs, splash me with boiling water, or cut with a sword… or if they actually went after Siana…” A hit of bloodlust flashed in Laien’s eyes at this thought. He could endure being Jasi’s target, but he wouldn’t forgive anyone who harmed his little sister.

     

    “For now, I have to endure. No other choice,” Laien reminded himself, taking a deep breath and trying to calm down. He wiped himself with the towel and dressed up, but as he was about to leave the great baths, a young boy rushed past the main entrance and yelled angrily.

     

    “Granny! Big sis didn’t want to play with me at all! And then she left with some boys again!”

     

    Seeing the familiar seven year old, Laien smiled happily and called out with a laugh. “Rune, don’t disturb your granny when she is working,” he chuckled, watching how Rune stopped abruptly and looked over, surprised to see him here.

     

    “Big brother!” the youth shouted merrily and ran towards Laien, then hugged him, overjoyed. The two of them hadn’t seen each other for over a week due to various matters related with Tei’ru’s death, so he was very happy to meet Laien now, when he least expected it.

     

    “How about we play a bit, Rune?” Hearing Laien’s suggestion, the seven year old looked at him with expectant look in his eyes . “Can we go play in the forest and take others with us?” he asked quickly, already looking forward to taking a dip in the lake.

     

    “Yeah, why not?” Laien replied with a smile. Just like Rune, he also loved to play in the nearby forest. Simply said, it was an enormous, beautiful place with many small streams and even a few lakes. The only problem was that it was a restricted space. Only nobility of the Valius family and people of a few other powerful clans were allowed to enter it. Luckily, even though Laien’s status in the Valius family wasn’t a high one, no one would complain if he went to the forest with his friends to play. As long as no hunts were going on, nobles wouldn’t care about what they are doing in there.

     

    “Great!” Rune called out with a big smile on his face. “Come on, hurry up, big brother! Let’s go!” he urged, pulling on the sleeve of Laien’s shirt.

     

    “Okay, okay,” Laien laughed and started walking outside with Rune. As they were leaving, he gave Cheina a quick look and nodded at her with a light smile.

     

    The woman appeared to be somewhat troubled, but still nodded back. She was happy for her grandson to have a good friend, but since Laien was a noble and Rune just a son of a servant woman, she couldn’t help but feel worried about the future of their friendship.

     

    “I just hope that it won’t bring us any trouble in the future,” Cheina thought quietly, watching the two kids leave the great baths.

    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 1. It all began that day. (Part III)

     

    As they left great baths, Laien started wondering if it would be a good idea to try bringing Siana with them. Just as he had hard time deciding…

     

    “Big brother, will Siana go with us?” Rune managed to ask him just as he was thinking about it.

     

    Usually, Siana was sulking a lot and did not enjoy playing with others, yet lately, Laien noticed that she seemed to be in a better mood. By this line of reasoning, he thought that it might be a good idea to try taking her outside, however, instead of saying just that, he looked at Rune with a playful smirk.

     

    “Hmm? What, you took a liking to my younger sister?” he asked teasingly, looking forward to Rune’s reaction.

     

    Hearing the question, Rune blushed and looked away for a second. “You are wrong, big brother. I don’t like her!” he denied out of embarrassment and looked Laien in the eye, his cheeks still slightly red.

     

    Laien couldn’t help but notice this change in Rune’s behavior. When they first met , Rune never looked up and avoided eye contact altogether. The fact that he was becoming more confident and open to people was definitely a good thing.

     

    “Say, do you really not like Siana? She would be quite sad if she heard that…” Laien inquired in a roundabout way, all the while smiling happily.

     

    “T-That is…” Rune looked quite troubled, not knowing what to say.

     

    Laien laughed and patted his younger friend’s head. “Rune, even if it’s embarrassing, you should be able to say it. Or, at least to not say opposite thing, you know? What if Siana disliked you after that, would you want that to happen?” he asked, giving Rune a meaningful look.

     

    Rune immediately shook his head. Then, as if realizing something, smiled and asked. “Big brother, you said she would dislike me, so, does she like me now?”

     

    Laien chortled, surprised by Rune’s bright line of reasoning. “What an amazing fellow. Really surprising,” he thought silently, then began acting as if he was wondering about the answer really hard, before finally replying with his lips curving strongly upwards. “I don’t know, how about you ask her yourself?” Seeing Rune’s pouting expression, Laien couldn’t help but chuckle. Even though he himself disliked being teased, he enjoyed teasing others. Well… Maybe he could take a little teasing from people he liked, too, but only a bit!

     

    “Eeeh?! Come on, big brother! Tell me!” Rune pulled on Laien’s arm, really wanting to get an answer out of him. After a short while of wresting away, Laien finally gave up and said. “I am quite sure she likes you, so how about asking her to be friends with you to begin with? She would be happy.”

     

    Satisfied with this answer, Rune nodded strongly and ran up ahead, urging Laien to hurry up. Laien snickered and also started running.

     

    “Last one loses!” Laien yelled, easily passing by Rune. He peeked over his shoulder and after running by a corner of a building, he slowed down a little. Just a second later, Rune also ran past the same spot, trying his best to catch up.

     

    Obviously, the whole competition was just a play for both of them. With regards to speed, Laien was over three times faster than Rune. If he went all out, it would be pointless to compete like that, but it was only game, after all. There was no need to be taking everything so seriously.

     

    Soon, the two of them arrived by Laien and Siana’s room. Rune laughed, breathing heavily. “Big brother, you are too fast. But just look, I will also train! You won’t win so easily next time!”

     

    Laien didn’t say anything, only smiling back at the seven year old. To be honest, Rune’s talent for martial arts was pretty average, or maybe even slightly below that. There was little to no chance of Rune becoming stronger than him, but nevertheless, was there really a need to discourage the youth?

     

    “Who knows, maybe he will grow up to be a mighty martial master. There’s always a chance, but for now…” Laien thought about it for just a moment, coming up with an idea as a ‘winner’ of this small race. His smile grew just a little bit evil, and Rune, seeing it, could already guess what his big brother was going to say.

     

    “Soo, Rune, since you lost, inviting Siana to play with us is up to you. How about that? Can you do that?” Laien proposed with a broad smile and although Rune hesitated for a bit, he agreed in the end.

     

    Rune stood at the door, gathering the courage to open it and trying to come up with something sensible to say.

     

    When being with Laien, Rune was quite open and easy going. Yet, when speaking with other people, or even facing them, Rune tended to be rather shy. Before meeting Laien, Rune had trouble even with doing as much as holding a proper conversation. As a result of that, he used to be secluded from the other kids his age.

     

    Rune’s mother had obviously been worried about him, but she couldn’t get through to her son well enough. It was around the time when she was about to give up on trying to change her son and accept that he won’t turn outgoing and cheerful, when Laien and Siana appeared in mansion.

     

    Back then, after coming to Neil City, Laien had felt depressed and heavily burdened by reality. He hadn’t been showing it too much in his behavior, though. He had always been trying to hold everything in as to not upset his little sister. Moreover, he simply had no one he could or wished to talk to. Yet, one day, by pure coincidence, while strolling around the open grounds Laien had met another lone boy who appeared to be as troubled as he had been at the time.

     

    The boy he had met back then was three years younger than him. Looking rather depressed, the four year old had been sitting alone, doing nothing but looking down at the ground. By a whim, Laien had approached this boy and sat down at his side.

     

    Although the two of them hadn’t started speaking to each other immediately, they had exchanged a few words on the daily basis, slowly getting to know each other.

     

    After Laien and Rune had chatted with each other for a week or so, they had already become good friends.

     

    In his heart, Laien even now felt very grateful towards Rune. Spending some leisure time with Rune every day helped to improve his mental state by a lot. Finding this little, worriless happiness, he had been able to settle his own feelings towards the past and live on without mourning what had happened to his family all the time

     

    As for what kind of effects the friendship of theirs had on Rune… well. Just looking at him now, one could tell how much the boy has changed.

     

    ---

     

    The somewhat creaking sound of the door opening woke Siana up just as two boys walked inside the room. She rubbed her eyes and gave Laien a questioning look, still feeling quite sleepy.

     

    “Um, hello,” Rune said quietly. He was more nervous than usual because of Laien’s teasing, but he tried to speak with Siana nevertheless.

     

    “What did you come here for?” Siana rebuked unhappily, apparently angry at the two for waking her up. She could forgive her brother, but why would she need to do the same for a friend of his?

     

    “We are going to play in the forest, do you want to go with us?” Rune asked quickly, in a rather nervous manner.

     

    “I’m tired, just leave me alone,” Siana said with a frown, declining the invitation outright.

     

    As he spectacled the scene, Laien closed his eyes, giving his best to hold a laugh in. He totally expected this kind of reaction from his little sister.

     

    “You can as well rest near the lake, won’t it be better than staying in this hot room?” Rune suggested, not giving up just yet.

     

    This argument seemed to have some effect on Siana, but she still rebuked angrily. “No, I don’t want to. Leave me alone!”

     

    Laien finally laughed, then walked deeper into the room. He grabbed few things and began packing them into a small backpack made of a yellowish leather. “Come on, Siana, he is trying hard to invite you out, don’t go giving him a cold shoulder,” Laien said as he fastened  a brown leather belt with a short sword attached to it. After exchanging short glance with him, Siana sighed and gave up.

     

     “Fine, but if I get bored I will go back first,” she declared and stood up from the bed, then crouched and reached out for her shoes.

     

    As a result of Siana agreeing only after Laien asked, Rune seemed to have become a bit unhappy. After all, how could Rune not be slightly jealous of Laien, even if he was Siana’s older brother? Still, he didn’t complain or anything, satisfied just to have Siana come with them

     

    After a minute or so, the three of them left the room and headed towards the residential area of the Valius mansion.

     

    Valius family, as one of great powers in the Sarkcente Kingdom, provided a living space for hundreds of servants and their families within grounds they owned. Living in this way was easier for all parties involved, as the servants had a safe place to stay and guaranteed housing and the Valius family itself didn’t need to worry about any problems which otherwise occurred when servants lived in the city.

     

    Amongst those who lives on the grounds of the Valius Family were not only servants, though. For example, the existed separate residences for more prominent people who were closely affiliated with the Valius family. Due to the Valius’ family prestige, even children of some important people from Neil City would often come to hang out in the mansion in order to make friends with other influential youths of their generation.

     

    It was more or less in this manner that Laien and Rune got acquainted with a group of their peers around two years ago. Ever since then, all of them often hanged around together and right now, they were looking to invite the others to come and play with them. Precisely, they were looking for two sisters, Hana and Lina, and a group of three boys, of which one was Rune’s cousin.

     

    Luckily, they didn’t need to search for long as they found all five of them hanging around behind the servant’s houses, in the open courtyard.

     

    “Sup! We are going to take a dip into some lake. Are you going with us, or would you all rather keep sweating here?”  Laien asked, grinning.

     

    “You need to ask? We go! Right?” Dan looked at other four and pretty much immediately got an energetic confirmation.

     

    “Let’s get to the kitchen first, we can get some leftovers from the dinner.” Laien suggested casually and everyone agreed pretty quickly, knowing that they can get some really tasty food for free. Even if their parents did not lack money, why would they say no to a freebie?

     

    Nobles always wanted too much, food was not an exception. After meals, a great amount of food was left over every time. Thankfully, it was rarely wasted as the people who could make use of it were servants working for the Valius family. Sarkcente Kingdom was by no means perfect, for example, it promoted slavery. Yet, it didn’t lack good traditions making everyone’s lives easier.

     

    Preparing what they wanted to eat took good half an hour, including packing the food properly and finding something to actually pack it into. When everyone was satisfied with what they took,  the eight of them left through the rear gate of the mansion, straight into the great forest.

     

    On the road to the lake, at some point, the usual chit-chat of theirs went into another direction. Dan and Genzie started talking about the ongoing war to the north of Sarkcente Kingdom and of course, the two of them got into an argument. Dan, being angry at Genzie, wanted to convince everyone else to his point of view. Naturally Genzie was trying to do the same and meanwhile, the two of them were getting more and more annoyed with each other.

     

    However, these two having an argument wasn’t anything unusual, so no one paid too much special attention to it.

     

    “You really are stupid, Dan. I’m telling you that the Jarncare Grand Duchy will crush the Hailen Principality. So what if Hailans have superior army in a direct clash? They are pushing deep into the territory of the Grand Duchy. Their general must be an idiot. How does he want to survive if the Jarncare light cavalry will keep hitting and running? They will bleed out before reaching their capital. I’m telling you!” Genzie argued and seemed to be quite confident in his words. After all, he was not just a normal kid of commoners.

     

    Genzie’s family was assigned as keepers of Neil City, while Genzie’s father served in the same field of expertise for main branch of Valius family. They held one of highest positions within non-noble families in the whole province. Thus, from a very young age, Genzie had been trained to follow in his father’s footsteps. He knew a great deal about logistics and realized how hard it was to manage people.

     

    As the discussion between Genzie and Dan was going on, Laien listened closely as he himself was interested in the matters of warfare. As for Rune and his cousin, Talian, they also were looking at Genzie, but were rather absorbed in imagining a great battle instead of considering it from the viewpoint of tactics. These two, being the youngest ones here, didn’t truly understand much from this talk, so letting their imagination run wild was obvious outcome. The older three, however, all enjoyed discussing wars and smaller scale conflicts from the perspective of the decisions made by commanders.

     

    Laien being ten, Genzie eleven and Dan twelve, the three of them were all at the age when boys were smitten by the perspective of a war, of great armies fighting each other, of Kings competing for power… and of course, they all thought they were ‘experts’ on the matter and no adults knew better.

     

    At the same time as the boys were engaged in a talk about war, the three girls rather than taking part in this quarrel, were whispered on the side, being all secretive about what they were talking about. However, boys weren’t interested in finding out what they were chatting about at all and they simply continued their own argument.

     

    “You are the stupid one, Genzie. Listen, equipment of an army is really important! Do you think that those few arrows will be able to pierce the steel  armors and shields of the Hailen Principality’s forces? It’s only two months of march for them, even if they will be really slowed down. Sooner or later the Jarncare Grand Duchy will be forced to stand their ground in Great Battle, and they will lose,” Dan also argued his point confidently, certain that he was the one in the right.

     

    As a son of blacksmith, Dan naturally knew a lot about weaponry. In his mind, lightly armed army had virtually no chance of winning versus heavy forces. Despite being only twelve, Dan truly knew pretty much all there was to know about the normal kind of weapons of armors, so his confidence in the matter wasn’t unjustified. Dan’s father was a very famous blacksmith within the Sarkcente Kingdom, to the point that it wouldn’t be strange if he got awarded a nobility title as a reward for his services. Even Laien’s favorite short sword had been forged by Dan’s father and it definitely was a very solid and sharp piece of steel!

     

    “Long time before that they will die of hunger, heh,” Genzie shook his head, wondering how Dan could be so oblivious. “How do you expect to feed two hundred thousand soldiers for two months on the enemy ground? You think they can afford to spread thin to protect their supply lines? Ha! Now that Is a good joke!” Genzie crossed his arms over his chest, confident that Dan won’t be able to refute his point.

     

    “Hmph. And what about the villages and cities they will pass by? It’s obvious that they will pillage everything they can, supplies along with it,” Dan pointed out, quick to catch on the hardships of ordinary people as he had spent most of his life amongst the average citizens of Neil City. He knew a good deal more about the harsh reality compared to Genzie, who was closer to being a pampered young master.

     

    “Would you stay in a city if you knew that enemies are approaching and your forces will not protect you there? The Jarncare Grand Duchy is a country of steps, cavalry is their forte! Even commoners own horses. They will take everything they have and run  east,” Genzie replied straightforwardly. As a nephew of the Keeper of Neil City, he had been taught a lot about the potential goods that one can trade for throughout the world. The Jarncare Grand Duchy, on that matter, was famous for owning a number of horses equal to its human population. Mobility wasn’t an issue there, even for the poorest of peasants.

     

    “And you think that those hundreds of thousands people will flee, just like that? You think that all of them will care about the orders of the Grand Duke and leave their houses? They might as well stay and surrender,” Dan brought up another point, but having been driven into a corner by Genzie, he stopped making much sense.

     

    In Laien’s mind, something like that actually was unlikely to happen. People of the Great Plains were used to harsh life and moreover, they shared the feelings of mutual hatred with the people of the Hailen Principality, they also valued their pride above everything else. Laien found it hard to believe that people like those would just surrender to their sworn enemies and be as naïve to hope to be treated well after that.

     

    “I think you are wrong. You will see, the Jarncare Grand Duchy will win this war.” Genzie stated outright and chose to not engage in a pointless discussion where any arguments were lost and everything came to ‘how they felt’ about the whole thing. Dan similarly didn’t pursue the argument and fell silent, albeit he felt somewhat grumpy.

     

    Genzie and Dan were both children. One of them was eleven years old, the other was twelve. However, in two or three years the two of them would be considered to be adults, so they felt the need to show some restraint and not act like unreasonable children… well, at least not too often. They were both well educated in their own field of expertise; they came from good families. Acting at least slightly more mature than their peers was expected of them by their parents, so even when adults weren’t around, they were trying to meet those expectations.

     

    However… Dan simply couldn’t resist prolonging this discussion. “Hmph. Maybe so, maybe no. Laien, what do you think?” Dan looked at Laien, expecting him to solve the dispute between him and Genzie.

     

    “Yeah, tell us what your opinion is,” Genzie nodded, also interested in Laien’s point of view.

     

    Lately, Genzie and Dan found out that most of Laien’s past predictions had come true, so the two of them started relying on Laien to be something akin to a ‘judge’ in their arguments. Although Laien was younger than them, just ten years old, they respected his opinion and usually found it to be logical and reasonable, thus fairly convincing.

    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 1. It all began that day. (Part IV)

     

    “As the two of you are saying, both sides have their own advantages and plans. If we were to look at it like that, we wouldn’t be able to guess anything specific.” Laien chuckled, happy to explain. As a noble he naturally had a lot of free time, so he had a chance to learn a good deal more about state of affairs in those two countries. Chatting with the various guards on the daily basis helped with gathering interesting information and news, too.

     

    “But, you are looking only at the wide perspective, as always. Did I not tell you to stop with that? Let’s see, for example Hailen’s warriors advancing through the Jarncare Grand Duchy. Sure their heavy armor can stop an arrow, but can you wear it all the time? Not really. At least if you don’t want to exhaust your army and slow down way too much. Can you deploy enough scouts to prevent ambushes? Not with such a big cavalry disadvantage. Can you post guards outside camps or avoid spreading columns during move? Again, you can’t. They would march until winter and then starve to death anyway if they did that,” Laien stopped elaborating for a second and looked at his friends, asking wordlessly if Genzie and Dan understood his point.

     

    “Then are you telling us that the Hailen Principality will be forced to retreat?” Dan looked a bit unhappy with this conclusion, not willing to accept that he was wrong. Yet, just as Genzie wanted to celebrate, Laien interrupted him. “Not necessarily. The Hailen Principality’s leading General in this campaign is the famed martial master, the ‘Black Lion’ Ceran Rozviel. He is over two hundred years old, said to have reached fourth rank of the Realm of Heroes. He has a great amount of experience in the matters of warfare. Would he foolishly charge into the enemy territory without any plan whatsoever?” Laien pointed out with a cheeky smile.

     

    Genzie and Dan were surprised by this piece of information. News of this war had only recently reached Neil City, so the details like who the commander general of each army was were pretty much unknown to the wide public.

     

    “Then, what does he want to do? Do you know?” Genzie urged Laien to keep talking, being as impatient as always.

     

    “I can guess. You both should know that the current Grand Prince of the Hailen Principality doesn’t have any children, right?” Laien asked, to which Genzie nodded, while Dan shook his head.

     

    “I didn’t know. So it’s connected to their royal family? Some kind of alliance with another country?” Dan inquired, guessing this much easily enough after hearing Laien’s words.

     

    “Yeah, something like that. I also don’t know everything, but I heard bits here and there. I think it’s connected to the Rulan Principality. Currently, in the Hailen Principality, the position of the royal family is not at its best. If the current Grand Prince dies with no direct successor, most likely the many Dukes will start fighting over the crown under that pretense… Just those few nephews of the Grand Prince won’t be able to claim the throne without sparking a civil war. So my guess is that Julies, I mean, the Grand Prince, made deal with the Rulan Principality’s ruler. Something along the lines of ‘We will marry one of our Princesses to your successor and in the future, merge both Principalities and create a Kingdom.’, or something similar,“ Laien shrugged his shoulders, finishing the long explanation. The whole theory was one big wild guess of his, but he felt fairly confident in its accuracy.

     

    Genzie and Dan looked at Laien, puzzled by his words. Dan sighed, not really trying to understand anything anymore. He liked talking about war, but politics weren’t for him.

     

    “Marrying a Princess off?” So they just want to keep their well-being, even if it means losing the right to rule? Well, we can’t really blame them, huh. But why this war, then? There are no words about the Rulan Principality moving its armies. Did they betray?” Genzie inquired, intrigued by the new perspective.

     

    “I think they need some great case for their people to not rebel when they announce it. Gaining a great amount of lands in a manner where it’s the Rulan Principality that has major claim to them can make even nobles reconsider. I would guess that in about a month the Rulan Principality will begin an all-out attack. There is no way the Jarncare Grand Duchy can defend if two great armies attack them at once, with one doing it at an unexpected moment. Well, there is also a possibility of the Rulan Principality betraying, but they don’t stand to gain much from that. Soo… Well, yeah. That’s more or less it,” Laien explained in detail, maybe even in too much detail. Thankfully, Genzie didn’t mind listening to a somewhat longish answer to his question.

     

    “Yeah, if I were in those nobles’ shoes, then between starting another great war or gaining new lands while forming an union, I would rather choose a safer path,” Genzie mused aloud, agreeing with the points made by Laien.

     

    Just as Genzie finished speaking, Dan laughed loudly, then embraced Laien’s shoulders with his arm. “Our little Laien is growing up to be so smart! Your big brother is proud of you!” Dan teased with a loud laugh

     

    Laien chuckled, feeling somewhat embarrassed. Even though he wasn’t that much younger than Dan, standing next to this huge, muscular youth he really felt like a small boy. “Okay, okay, stop hugging me you big bastard. Look there, we can see the lake already. Let’s get in before I melt,” Laien said with a smile and pointed ahead with his finger.

     

    The boys only now realized that they could already see the cold, refreshing water. Immediately all five of them, including Laien, ran ahead and hurriedly left their bags and the outer layers of their clothes on the grass, then ran into the lake.

     

    The three girls giggled at once, amused to see such typical boy-like behavior. The younger of two sisters, Lina, followed the boys without much care, leaving most of her clothing behind on the ground. Hana, being a bit older, hesitated. “I wish I was still seven like Lina, it’s so embarrassing!” Hana thought helplessly. She was already eleven and recently, she started being self-conscious around boys and moreover, noticing that her breasts were slowly growing did not help to relieve her stress at all.

     

    “Big sis, come on! Why are you still standing there? Play with us!” Lina called out to her older sister, waving her hand.

     

    “She is too shy, haha. What are you worried about, Hana? We have all seen you naked many times~”  Dan teased, laughing loudly.

     

    Hearing the incredibly annoying comment of Dan’s, Hana cheeks turned red from anger and embarrassment. She picked up a round stone, regretting that she was not yet allowed to carry her sword around. With a short, quick swing she threw the stone directly at Dan.

     

    In the air, the small round rock actually created a clear ‘swish’ sound before slamming directly at Dan’s stomach. Being a martial practitioner, Hana had enough strength to seriously wound, or even to kill a normal person with a simple throw like that. However, as for Dan, the rock has only startled him and left a barely visible bruise on his muscular body.

     

    Even though as a martial practitioner, Dan was only at the second mortal rank, his toughness and strength was way above that of Hana’s, who has reached the third rank as a martial practitioner at the tender age of eleven. After all, any blacksmith needed to be powerfully built to do his job well , so the difference between the two was only natural.

     

    Dan looked at Hana with a smirk, his gaze seemed to be saying something along the lines of “Did you do something just now? I didn’t notice~”

     

    Hana shook her head helplessly, not knowing what to say. “What am I even getting all worked about with this bunch of idiots anyway…” Deciding that it was pointless to be getting angry and worked-up because of Dan’s stupid comments, Hana stripped her shirt and without covering herself up with her hands or anything, walked up to the others through the shallow water at the lakeside.

     

    “I wish it hurt you a little more, you big idiot,” Hana commented with a smile, giving Dan a resigned look. Awaiting his response, she kept staring in his eyes as if she intended to challenge him. Every trace of her previous shyness seemed to be gone as she stood straight, holding her hands on her hips.

     

    Surprisingly, as she waited for him to say something, Hana noticed that Dan started to blush a bit. “Hmmm? What is it? Are you actually the one embarrassed to see me now? C’mon, don’t be too shy~”  she asked with an evil smile on her face.

     

    Dan was rather started by this development, so he rebuked, trying to avoid looking at Hana. “Embarrassed about what? Seeing this childish body of yours? As if!”

     

    Hearing this, the ever short-tempered Hana snapped and delivered a heavy kick at Dan’s groin. As Dan was looking away at the moment, he naturally had no way to know what was coming at him. Laien, Genzie, Rune and Talian trembled slightly as Hana’s leg landed with a loud ‘thud’. Genzie lowered his head and clasped his hands, wishing Dan to rest in peace.

     

    “You were asking for it,” Hana said with a hint of guild present in her voice and retreated a few steps, looking at Dan who was holding his private parts with both hands, his body bent in half.

     

    “Y-you damned man-woman, I’m going to kill you!” Dan roared, trying to catch his breath. Hana only pouted, jumping into the deeper water in one big leap. “Try it if you can, idiot!” she shouted, swimming away.

     

    “Ah, the usual thing,” the thought crossed Laien’s mind as he smiled leisurely, admiring beautiful scenery. This ‘Blueside Lake’, as they liked to call it, was one of largest lakes in the whole Great Forest. From the Spike Mountains to the north-east flowed a stream, supplying the Blueside Lake with fresh water. This stream, after passing through the Blueside Lake, flowed directly into the Neil River and then, around a hundred kilometers further to the south, connected with the Great Southern Sea.

     

    The Blueside Lake was located in a wild part of the Great Forest, where Valius family rarely hunted because of the unfavorable terrain. With ancient trees surrounding it from every side, it had a certain, mysterious and ancient feeling to it. However, the usually so calm and peaceful scenery was being disrupted by Dan and Hana who were having a bout with each other.

     

    “It’s never boring with those two around,” Laien murmured, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

     

    “Both of them are so stupid, don’t you think so too, big brother?” Lina commented wryly, laying on the water and gazing at the blue sky over the crowns of the trees.

     

    Laien nodded, agreeing silently. It was obvious for anyone but those two that they liked each other quite a bit.

     

    “How can they be so dense? They even always hang out together…” Everyone seemed to be thinking the same thing.

     

    “Siana, won’t you play with us?” Laien asked and was met with an instant rejection. Just by seeing this expression of hers, Laien knew that sitting there besides a tree was the extent of what Siana was willing to do. Leaving this worry alone for now, Laien kicked the rocky ground and jumped dozen of meters forward with relative ease. He jumped two more times, then pierced through the surface of the water and dove deep into the lake.

     

    If there was something amazing about the Blueside lake, then surely enough, it was its depth. Compared to any other lake in the Great Forest, its bottom was hidden many more meters deeper than one would have expected.

     

    Diving deeper and deeper, Laien felt the pressure rising rapidly. Had it been a year before, he wouldn’t have been able to reach the very bottom at nearly two hundred meters below the surface. However, now that he has reached the peak of the third rank as a martial practitioner, his body became incomparably tougher than before. Unless attacked with a great deal of force, he wouldn’t be wounded by any weapons of a lower quality. His skin, muscles and bones were simply too tough. With his body being so strong, diving deep into the waters of the Blueside lake became possible for him, too.

     

    After Laien passed the halfway point, everything around became completely dark. Light could only reach so far, after all. Laien smiled unconsciously and released some of his spiritual energy, mixing it with the water in a radius of roughly two meters. As a water-element spiritual practitioner, after employing his spiritual energy, he could ‘feel’ any liquid as if it was a part of his own body. The ability was pretty useful for diving, but apart from that, it didn’t matter that much.

     

    As for how it felt for Laien to be aware of the water around him… for someone who had never experienced such feeling, it would be impossible to truly understand or even imagine it. The closest to truth explanation would be saying that one could ‘see’ his surroundings in colorless outer shapes, while everything  outside the reach of his spiritual energy would be a completely unknown, pitch-black world to him.

     

    Laien always wanted to check what was there, on the very bottom of Blueside Lake. Dreaming about finding priceless treasures in everyday places was a part of every child’s nature. Laien, too, liked to imagine himself finding something that would solve all his problems and grant him an unimaginable power. A power comparable to that person’s…

     

    Swimming through dark water, Laien wondered how long will his breath hold out. Right now he felt completely fine, so he continued searching for treasures. While having some hope, he didn’t really believe in finding anything, but just the excitement of doing something like this gave him a strange sense of pleasure.

     

    Searching through whole bottom of the lake took Laien only two or three minutes. He was kind of disappointed, as all he found was mud and stones. Deciding that it would be a shame to not bring something with him, he randomly grabbed a few small pebbles close to him and started surfacing unhurriedly.

     

    “My body really got quite strong, Master’s training is truly effective. Other martial practitioners at the third rank shouldn’t be able to stay this deep for so long. Hehe. It was worth enduring this hell for two years,” Laien mused silently, very happy to see that his bitter training was producing results.

     

    Meanwhile, on the surface.

     

    “Laien sure is taking his time, how long has it been? Close to ten minutes?” Genzie commented quietly, yet he didn’t feel worried at all… Well, maybe just a little bit.

     

    Looking around, Genzie saw Dan and Hana talking with each other, he also noticed Lina spying on the two while pretending to not be listening. As for the other two, Talian was napping on the grass and Rune trying to approach Siana. Only he had nothing to do at the moment. “Maybe I should find myself a girlfriend soon… But a girl can be such a pain in the ass sometimes…” he thought aloud, then sighed.

     

    Just as Genzie was slowly sinking in his thoughts, Laien surfaced, unhurriedly catching his breath.

     

    “There you are, finally. I was worried if you haven’t drown yourself, you know?” Genzie said with a laugh, but Laien, instead of replying just ignored him and didn’t even turn around. Intrigued, Genzie swam closer, only to see Laien smile widely while looking at his open palm. “What is making you so ha-?!” Surprised, Genzie cut his words mid-sentence. “Are these…?” he asked quietly, whispering for some reason.

     

    “They are, they are! I can actually fill them with my spiritual energy! These two small pebbles are actually elemental stones! And what’s more, they are suited to me, they are water-type elemental stones! Hah, I would never have expected to find them here, in the depths of our Blueside lake,” Laien replied excitedly, also speaking in low voice. These two stones that were of the size of his fingertips were quite valuable and useful; especially for him, as they were compatible with his elemental affinity.

     

    “They accumulate here, in the depths? Who would have thought. You really are lucky, Laien. Even though they are only low-grade elemental stones and are quite small, they are restricted to the military use and it’s very hard to buy them, even if you have enough money… You’d better not mention them to anyone. Without proper documents, any guard can confiscate them from you,” Genzie advised, then added with a chuckle. “Make sure to keep it a secret from Dan, you know of his long tongue, don’t you?” he pointed out, after what the two of them laughed. Laien agreed completely, it would be for the best if he kept this matter a secret from everyone, even from his friends.

     

    For a second, Genzie hesitated, obviously thinking about something. He let out a long sigh, then took off a ring from his finger. “Take it, this way you can gather them all at once. It would be suspicious if someone were to notice that you kept entering and leaving the Great Forest every day and knowing you, you wouldn’t be patient enough to wait, right?” he said with a meaningful smile, handing the ring to Laien.

     

    “You sure? This thing is quite pricy. Even more so than a dozen of low-grade elemental stones. How much would it be in coins? Ten thousand gold coins, or even more?” Laien asked, not too sure if accepting a gift so precious was really fine. It should be understood that for ordinary person to live through one whole year at most two or three gold coins were needed. A good horse could cost up to ten gold coins and a set of heavy armor up to a few hundred. Ten thousand? Not even that many nobles could afford to spend such extravagant amount casually, and Genzie was about to do just that!

     

    “It’s only a low-grade interspatial ring. I will be twelve in two months, I will ask father for a better one. This one’s inner space is a sphere with a radius of roughly twenty centimeters, it won’t be useful to me for much longer anyhow. Just take it,” Genzie made up a random excuse and stuffed the interspatial ring into Laien’s hand.

     

    Laien shook his head resignedly. He could tell that Genzie was not telling truth at all. Not only having more interspatial rings would be useful for anyone, Genzie could instead ask his father for something else for his twelfth birthday. But nevertheless, Laien accepted the gift. After all, how could he possibly have a chance to obtain an interspatial ring in the near future? Silently, he promised himself to one day repay this favor.

     

    “Thanks,” Laien said gratefully, then poured some of his spiritual energy into the interspatial ring and inspected its contents ring. Inside, he found a few dozen gold coins, some precious gems and even a few small bottles of poisons and antidotes. Overall, everything was very likely worth close to one thousand gold coins! Not knowing what to say anymore, Laien gave Genzie a troubled look and scratched his head.

     

    “Don’t be looking at me as if you are about to fall in love, just go get those stones already, okay?” Genzie commented with a laugh. Given how wealthy his family was, he could afford to help his friend out. Money was after all only money, nothing less, nothing more. It wasn’t the most important thing in the world.

     

    Slightly ashamed of himself, Laien still couldn’t wipe the stupid smile from his face. He stored the two low-grade elemental stones in his new interspatial ring and after nodding to Genzie, he dove into the water again.

     

    “Having an interspatial ring will be quite convenient. I won’t need to check all the pebbles one by one, I can just store a handful of them into the interspatial ring and check if they absorb spiritual energy while they are inside it,” Laien thought happily, knowing quite well how interspatial rings worked. It was just that he just never had one before, not until today, that is.

     

    What Laien didn’t get to see, was that Genzie’s casual attitude and worriless aura disappeared very quickly. With his eyes half closed, Genzie cursed in his heart. “Even though we are friends, he still didn’t say anything about his problems to me. Does he really think I wouldn’t notice his wounds and add everything up? This damned brat, if he goes overboard and dares to hurt Laien ever again I will ask Grandfather to deal with him all and for once. Hmph,” Genzie thought angrily, wishing that the Valius family could be dealt with already.

     

    For someone with Genzie’s background, one low-grade interspatial ring and items worth one thousand gold coins were truly nothing. Items of such quality, he could get as many as he wanted. As for Laien, however, even though he was formally a part of the Valius family, he couldn’t count on sharing in the clan’s wealth. His position within the family truly was a very problematic one, too.

     

    “I’d like to give you more, but I know that you wouldn’t accept it, knowing your character… and Grandfather wouldn’t let it slide, either. Wish me luck, I will wish it for you, too.” Genzie murmured, staring at the now calm surface of the Blueside lake.

    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 1. It all began that day. (Part V)

     

    “Big brother sure is stubborn, he went down to search again.” Sitting next to Siana, Rune tried to somehow strike up a conversation, but he got thoroughly ignored. Yet, this time he noticed that Siana got more gloomy just as he said the words ‘big brother’. Wondering if that was the source of the problem, he decided to simply ask.

     

    “You don’t like when I call Laien ‘big brother’?”

     

    Siana gazed at Rune, revealing no expression at all just like always, however with one exception. The look in her eyes wasn’t lazily bored, but instead surprised. With a quiet ‘hmph’, Siana looked away from Rune, leaving his question without any comment.

     

    Rune tried not to, but couldn’t help but burst laughing. “She’s actually jealous of me? When I am jealous of big brother? This is so stupid!” he thought as he tried to muffle his laughs and chuckles.

     

    After enduring for a short while, Siana turned around, her face strongly blushed, “Stop laughing you idiot! What, am I wrong to be angry at you? You… You…. Aaah!” she shouted, but just couldn’t force those last words out as they were way too embarrassing to say out loud. Pulling her legs tightly to her chest, she hid her face and grumbled. “Stupid… Stupid… Both of you are stupid!”

     

    Maybe he shouldn’t have, however at this moment, Rune was incredibly happy. For the first time Siana spoke to him and even showed him such a cute face. He had thought that Siana was beautiful ever since he saw her two and a half years ago, but it was just that, nothing more. He actually started having feelings for her only a few months ago, when he had seen her expression as she was talking alone with Laien. That she could reveal so much, look so unimaginably cute… How could he not fall for her? Ice princesses whose hearts could be melted, many boys dreamed about such girls.

     

    “Yeah, I am stupid. I was jealous of big brother when you were jealous of me. Doesn’t it make both of us equally stupid?” Rune said with a smile, peeking at Siana from the corner of his eye.

     

    Siana cooled down a bit, then also peeked at Rune, slowly realizing the meaning of his words. She had more or less guessed that Rune was interested in her, but she would have never thought that Rune could be envious of her big brother in the same way she was envious of Rune himself. Realizing how truly stupid this situation was, Siana laughed, and that laugh was truly a sweet one.

     

    For a long while, Rune was at a loss for words and only stared at Siana with a half-conscious, dreamy gaze.

     

    “Mm? What, you don’t want to talk anymore and are satisfied with just staring at me?” Siana asked with a quiet chuckle, feeling much better disposed towards Rune now than before.

     

    Flabbergasted, Rune shook his head trying to come back to his senses. “I, I was just surprised… are you sure you want to talk with me? You aren’t making fun of me, are you?” he asked rather nervously. He could hardly believe that Siana changed her mind just like that, after refusing to talk with him for so long.

     

    “Well… It’s not like I had any specific reason not to talk with you, apart from you know what, so I might as well do. Big brother likes you, after all,” Siana replied truthfully, but her words only made Rune sigh secretly.

     

    “No way around it, I just need to get used to big brother being everywhere, eh?” Rune wondered silently, reluctantly accepting that Siana really had no one but her big brother in her eyes. “At least you seem more cheerful now, for you to smile when talking with someone else but Big Brother, I am so lucky~” he commented thoughtlessly, only after a second or two realizing that he blurted out something stupid.

     

    Siana pouted slightly, however the next moment her face sank as she remembered something unpleasant.

     

    “Uh, what is it?” Rune asked, hoping that Siana’s worsening mood wasn’t directly related to that comment of his.

     

    Seeing Rune worry like this, Siana smiled just a little bit. Giving it some thought, she spoke again.

     

    “Hey, if I will tell you something, will you promise to keep it a secret from everyone?” Siana asked quietly, tired of keeping this secret buried in her heart.

     

    “I promise,” Rune replied instantly. His heart skipped a beat when Siana scooted over to him, seating herself close enough for their thighs to be touching each other.

     

    “Is she so clueless, or is she doing it on purpose? Her face is like a mask, I can’t even tell, damn it!” Rune swallowed, giving his best to keep his calm. At his age, he was quite self-conscious around girls, but still, as he was only seven years old, his ‘love’ was still quite pure and childlike.

     

    For those who were living in the far north of the Starlight continent, having a seven year old know about the matters that were supposed to be only taught to adults would be unthinkable. However, it wasn’t so in the Sarkcente Kingdom, which was located at the very southern edge of the Starlight continent. Here, in the south, children were considered to become mature at the age of twelve and at the age of sixteen, they would be viewed as full-fledged adults.

     

    In the south, perhaps only some young masters from great clans who had been sheltered throughout their entire lives would be unaware of sexual matters. As for everyone else? Kids of commoners and the very majority of young nobles were generally interested in the opposite gender when they reached the age of eight or so. Naturally however, their relationships turned more intimate only after they hit puberty a few years later.

     

    “Hey, you sure you are listening to me? You seem to be dozing off…” Siana’s voice brought Rune back to reality, as he truly had dozed off for a moment or two.

     

    “Sorry, I kinda… Um, could you please repeat?” Rune apologized, ashamed of himself. How could he start daydreaming when he finally had a chance to chat with Siana?

     

    Siana chuckled at Rune’s awkward apology and his worried expression. “I didn’t say anything yet, you know, hehe,” she said with a laugh, hiding her smile behind her hand.

     

    Completely speechless, Rune suddenly thought that dealing with Siana might not be as easy and pleasurable as he had though, even after he finally managed to get her to stop ignoring him.

     

    After a short while, Siana followed through with the talk. “Mm, let’s say that there was someone you hated, and he kept doing bad things to you… and then that someone died, but because of that, bad things would start happening to someone else you cared about… What would you do?” she explained vaguely and asked, troubled over what he should do in such a situation.

     

    Rune was slightly confused by the whole strange setup, so he needed to take a while to think what Siana said through before answering. “Umm, I don’t really know… Was it because of me that this bad person died?” He asked, reasoning in the most simple of ways.

     

    Siana wondered for a second, only now trying to put her feelings into certain words. As she was thinking, even before she said anything, a small smile rose to her lips. “No, it wouldn’t be because of you, that he died, but… you would have wished that he died for a long time… and you would have known all along that if he died, then you will have it easier, but someone else will likely need to suffer as a result…” Siana explained with a sigh, but didn’t stop smiling nevertheless. After this simple exchange of words, she understood that it wasn’t her fault. She truly felt like laughing, although just by looking at her appearance, possibly only Laien would be able to tell.

     

    “Why did I even worry about something so stupid? It’s not my fault that Tei’Ru died, Big brother wouldn’t be angry at me even if I told him that I am relieved he is dead, I am sure,” she said to herself, already feeling much lighter at heart.

     

    “Um, if it wasn’t because of me, then I don’t think I would be too worried about all of that. Maybe it’s not nice to feel good about another person’s misfortune, but if it was your friend, then how about helping him, so he won’t be alone with his problems?” Rune spoke up, not realizing that Siana didn’t need to be comforted anymore. As he finished saying what he did, Rune also realized that he stopped pretending that Siana wasn’t talking about herself. Worried that she will be angry because of that, he hurriedly tried to correct herself, but he got cut-off halfway through his apology.

     

    “Don’t worry about it, I was talking about myself anyway,” Siana said with a laugh and in a very Laien-like manner, shrugged her shoulder.

     

    Rune looked Siana with wide eyes, feeling thoroughly confused. At one time, Siana appeared to be saddened by something, then she would ask for his opinion, only to after all act as if the whole matter wasn’t that important anyway? What in the world was going on in her head?! “Big brother, save me… How come you always talk with her like it’s completely normal and easy? It’s not at all!” Rune groaned silently, the perfect imagine of Siana he has had slowly beginning to crumble.

     

    After this short conversation with Siana, Rune started feeling that having any relationship with her would be too much for his nerves. Even though the idea was enticing, her personality… simply wasn’t what he thought it was; it wasn’t even close. When in his heart, Rune decided to just leave it as ’being friends with a little sister of his best friend’, everything suddenly became much easier.

     

    “Eh, I don’t really understand, but you seem to be better now,” Rune said with a light smile. “Can you maybe tell me who were you talking about, apart from yourself?” he inquired, interested in the details. He could guess who Siana referred to well enough by himself, now that his mind has cleared from unnecessary thoughts, but he wanted to hear it from Siana, just to be sure.

     

    “It’s not that big of a secret anyway, others would tell you soon even if I don’t. So, I might as well tell you. The one who died is Tei’ru, and the one who has trouble now is big brother,” Siana stated, sighing a little. She still felt bad about the whole thing, but not nearly as much as before. Now, she could deal with those emotions on her own; she wouldn’t be crying because of them anymore.

     

    “Uuh, as I thought, these wounds aren’t from his training. Big brother didn’t say anything about them, so I didn’t ask either… How come he got beat up? He is close reaching the fourth rank as a martial practitioner, there shouldn’t be anyone our age who could beat him in a fight…?” Rune asked uncertainly, wondering what could have happened. He has had more than one chance to see Laien sparring with Hana and the other disciples of the martial school her parents were running and every time, Laien dominated his fights with ease. Only significantly older opponents were any match for him.

     

    During this brief moment of silence, Siana noticed Laien appearing on the surface of the lake. Since he didn’t go down again, but instead began swimming towards the lakeside, she called out to him. “Big brother! Come here for a second!” she yelled, startling Rune and everyone else, including Laien himself. She has never spoken much with Laien’s friends, little to say about shouting to Laien in their presence. Thus, an unexpected behavior of hers caused everyone to become curious. Soon, not only Laien, but everyone were gathered at the same spot, waiting for Siana to say what she wanted of Laien.

                                  

    “Big brother, you only explained vaguely when we talked about why you are so beat up. I am sure everyone is worried, too. How about you just tell us everything?” Siana declared straightforwardly without beating around the bush.

     

    Laien stayed quiet for a second, revealing a surprised expression. “How did it come to this? Ugh, I guess that it was naive of me to think that I can keep it a secret from everyone to not worry them.” Shaking his head, Laien sat down on the grass in front of Siana and Rune and gestured others to sit down, too. After they were all seated, he began explaining.

     

    “It’s actually quite a simple matter. All of you know that I and Jasi do not fare well. The only reason why he didn’t dare to do anything was because Tei’ru had doted on me, strangely enough. Now that Tei’ru is dead, Jasi decided that it’s time to vent his frustration and he sent some of his friends to beat me up this morning. Well, if he stops at that, it will be fine. If no… Eh. I will think about it then. No use worrying about it now, I guess,” Laien shrugged his shoulders, making it look like he wasn’t considering this even to be anything too important and in fact, he truly did not. He fully expected Masi to bully him after Tei’ru’s death, so he was prepared to though through this period of time, until Jasi would get bored with him and would hopefully leave him alone.

     

    The casual tone in which Laien spoke shocked everyone apart from Siana and Genzie. These two understood Laien the best out of their group of friends, maybe with the exception of Rune, who was too young to quickly follow Laien’s line of thoughts. Contrary to what one might think when seeing Laien and talking with him, the ten year old was actually quite stern and decisive when needed.

     

    “Letting them beat you instead of fighting back to get the better result in the end? Are you sure you are ten years old, Laien?” Genzie chuckled, asking with a smile. He knew about this matter beforehand, so the news didn’t disturb him. He could face the whole thing with a calm attitude, similarly to Laien himself.

     

    “I wish I could live like a normal ten year old, heh. I can’t really afford to do that, though. Anyway, it’s not like any of us here behaves his age, right? That’s why we are getting along with each other so well~” Laien said half-jokingly and managed to ease the tension in the air.

     

    “And you wanted to keep it a secret? You are so cruel, little brother,” Hana commented poutingly, albeit with a smile. She sneaked a quick glance at her little sister and gave her a meaningful smile.

     

    “Yeah, big brother really is daring, how about we punish him a little?” Lina picked on what her big sister intended to do and stood up, taking a step in Laien’s direction.

     

    “Haha, I think I know what you girls are planning! I am with you, how can our little bro not trust us? He needs to be punished!” Dan called out and joined in, fully expecting something amusing to happen.

     

    The remaining four youths also got on board with the idea, scary smiles forming on their faces.

     

    “Ugh… Well…” Laien laughed inwardly as he was being slowly surrounded. He breathed out and a hint of playfulness appeared in his gaze. He leaped off the ground and in but an instant arrived in front of Dan, attempting to rush past him.

     

    “As if!” Dan roared, reaching out with his arm and trying to grab Laien. However, being only a martial practitioner of the second rank and having a bit too much muscles, he failed to catch the swift, smaller boy. In the end, Laien simply passed by him and laughed merrily. Out of everyone here, he was definitely the strongest and the fastest one!

     

    “Catch me if you can!” Laien shouted, jumping on one of the lower branches of a huge, ancient tree. A game of tag might have been a normal game, but when children playing it were all martial practitioners, it truly began looking quite different.

     

    “Little brother really is a monster, I can’t believe I was worried about him for a second, hah. So… do we chase him?” Dan brought the question up, not really looking for an answer. It was obvious that they would chase Laien until they would finally catch and him and punish him for lying!

     

    However, just as Dan turned his eyes to look at everyone, a ball of water smashed at the top of his head. The sudden hit didn’t hurt him at all, but surely enough startled him quite a bit.

     

    “Whaaat, you giving up? Not chasing me anymore?” Laien teased, crouching on the branch of the nearby tree.

     

    “Whoa,” Laien chuckled as he jumped back, dodging a similar ball of water that Siana threw at him.  “She sure got good at using those simple spells lately… If only she trained her body more, she could be even stronger,” Laien thought to himself, looking at his little sister with a broad smile.

     

    Making use of his ‘Guardian’ which enabled him to use magic without chanting spells, Laien created three more balls of water and sent them flying at his friends, then ran into the forest. Along with a lot of laughing and fooling around, the game of tag continued for a good half an hour, until everybody got thoroughly exhausted from running around. Although it wasn’t for long, playing like this allowed them all to forget about their daily lives and just enjoy the moment. Each and every one of the eight of them enjoyed the time they were spending together from the bottom of their hearts.

     

    With a very satisfied smile on his face, Laien laid down on the grass near the Blueside lake. “Today was a good day,” he though contentedly. He was happy not only for himself, but also for Siana, who finally played with everyone for the first time and from the looks of it, enjoyed it as much as he did.

     

    “Let’s eat something, then we can rest for a bit before returning to our homes,” Genzie suggested and everybody agreed with him. After all, that was what they were planning to do anyway. Even if the Great Forest was a safe place during the day, it wouldn’t be impossible to meet a magical beast in it during the night. None of them would be reckless enough to take a risk like that for no apparent reason.

    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 1. It all began that day. (Part VI)

     

    The eight youths focused on resting and eating their very late lunch. Only Rune and Talian were chatting so everyone else, not having anything better to do, listened to them with one ear as they munched their sandwiches.

     

    “So you will be staying over for a year? It sucks that your dad needs to be stationed on the borders,” Rune said, trying to console his cousin in a way.

     

    Talian only nodded and didn’t respond to Rune’s words. Others might have felt ignored and would have stopped talking, but Rune knew that it was just how Talian was. He never liked talking too much, even more so when he was in a bad mood.

     

    “Want me to help you get your clothes? We could all help carrying your things over to my house on our way back,” Rune looked around and seeing that nobody had anything against the idea, smiled happily, then shifted his gaze back at Talian.

     

    “Don’t worry, it’s going to be all right. Nothing will happen to your dad. It’s not like we are at war with anyone, he will stay in the garrison for a year and then he will come back.” Despite saying so, Rune was worried about Talian’s father, too. He remembered that Talian’s mother had been a martial practitioner, just like his father. However, she had lost her life in an unlucky encounter with a group of bandits during a regular patrol three years ago.

     

    “I hope so,” Talian said quietly and sighed a little. He wasn’t one to easily take other’s words for granted, but knowing that Rune had lost his father in a similar manner to him losing his mother, in a skirmish with bandits from the Anarchic Lands to the north, he could believe in Rune’s honest intentions. As a result, he ended up feeling a bit better and cheered up a little.

     

    Some time later, the eight youths returned to the mansion of the Valius family, entering by the small back gate. The two guards stationed there greeted Laien with a smile. “Don’t be coming back so late, boy, it’s dangerous to wander around at this hour,” one of them warned lightheartedly, to which Laien responded with a simple nod. Since he wasn’t truly a noble of the Valius family, he ended up having a good relationship with majority of the guards in the mansion. However, them calling him ‘boy’ was only something that would be done when no unfamiliar people were around.

     

    As the group of friends was walking through the open grounds, Laien suddenly frowned, spotting the three faces he would have rather not seen ever again. “What do you want?” he asked sourly, stopping with everyone as the three older boys blocked their way.

     

    “Hmph, what could we want from a trash like you? If not for young master Jasi’s orders, we wouldn’t bother looking at you, not to mention speaking with you,” one of the three teenagers said with a snort, totally looking down at Laien.

     

    “If that’s all, then we will be going…” Laien shook his head, trying his best not to show how angry he was. He wanted to walk past the three older boys, but to no avail. Seeing their vicious smiles, Laien cursed inwardly. “They are enjoying it, being all happy that they can bully me again… Only at the early stages of the third mortal rank, they are asking for it!” Laien thought silently, holding himself back from rebuking the three.

     

    “If only I was as strong as him…” he groaned in his thoughts, thinking back to the person he often saw in his dreams. “Were it to be so powerful, I wouldn’t need to be so worried about something as stupid as being bullied by some pampered young master…” he mused bitterly, wishing that he could already be strong enough to at least be capable of protecting himself and those dear to him.

     

    “When young master heard that you went playing with your friends as if nothing happened, he got angry at us, you know? It seems that we went too easy on you in the morning. Don’t worry, though. Next time we will make sure to do our job properly,” the teenage youth said with an evil chuckle, then left with his two companions.

     

    “At least they have enough common sense not to attack me in place like this, with guards peeking from afar…” Laien thought with a sigh. He had been hoping that jasi would be satisfied after having him beaten up, but apparently, the young master wanted him to suffer more. “I need to do something about it before it gets too dangerous,” Laien shook his head, wondering if there really was something he could do to fix this situation.

     

    “This can’t go on like this. Laien, don’t worry, I will do something about it, maybe I will persuade Grandfather to lend you a hand,” Genzie said with determined look in his eyes. If that person was to really put Laien behind his back, then forget about Jasi, even Garon, the current clan leader, wouldn’t dare to touch a hair on Laien’s head!

     

    “Don’t bother him, you already did enough to help me. I will try resolving this myself. Although, if there will be nothing I can do, I will come to ask you for help. I promise, okay?” Laien refused tacitly, not wanting to create any trouble for Genzie’s family. As he saw it, although they had a fairly high position in Neil City, they couldn’t compare to the Valius Family. They would suffer too much of a loss if they were to give him their backing; he didn’t want to be an unnecessary weight for them.

     

    Faced with such words from Laien, Genzie reluctantly agreed. He knew full well how unlikely it was for his Grandfather to act for Laien’s sake, thus since Laien promised to ask for help if when he truly needs it, he could only leave the matter at that.

     

    Noticing how worried everyone looked, Laien scratched his head and attempted to reassure awkwardly. “Don’t worry about it. I know that if you could, you would have helped somehow. I will manage,” he said with a light smile, but managed to get the opposite effect than the one intended.

     

    “Eh, what do I do? Even the atmosphere between us got soiled,” Laien groaned in his heart. It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought about what to do if Jasi continues bullying him, but he couldn’t come up with any idea to solve the situation. He didn’t know anyone influential enough to have him suppress Jasi, he couldn’t fight back… was bearing with anything that they do to him the only option available?

     

    “I might as well surrender then,” Laien thought ironically and unexpectedly, arrived at a solution. “Right, I could just go to him and try apologizing for whatever he dislikes me for! There was this option!” he realized, the idea hitting him like a ton of bricks. Even though he would need to push his pride aside and lower his head, it would still be better than bringing danger not only upon himself, but also his little sister and his friends. If a little humiliation could solve everything, then he would tough through it and wait for the time when he can get back at Jasi at the time when he would get stronger.

     

    “Everyone, I’m going to try talking it out with Jasi. I will tell you how it went tomorrow, okay? Siana, go back to our room by yourself. I will come back later, so go to sleep before me,” Laien declared with a confident, but not too happy smile.

     

    Hearing him say so, everybody were started at first, but then quickly realized what he intended to do. Some of them, like Genzie, would have liked to accompany him… but, they knew it wasn’t a place for them to get involved. Thus, reluctantly, they all consented with Laien’s decision and after exchanging a few more sentences, they headed back to their homes.

     

    On a side note, due to what happened, helping Talian move his belongings had been completely forgotten, even by Talian himself.

     

    ---

     

    Moments later, Laien arrived at the eastern wing of the Valius mansion, at the place where Jasi lived. Guessing which room belonged to the young master was simplicity in itself as it was guarded by two high ranked martial practitioners. “Core members of the family sure receive good treatment, huh. I wonder how much pocket money he gets,” Laien smirked, somewhat jealous of Jasi’s lot in life. Jasi was ten just like him, but he had his family and needed not to worry about anything. His possibilities were truly limitless!

     

    The two guards exchanged curious glance, seeing an unknown child approach them. They didn’t recognize Laien as they had always been Jasi’s private bodyguards and in result, didn’t involve themselves with the regular guards of the mansion too much. However, they were intelligent enough to realize that Laien must be a part of the Valius family, as no one else would have been allowed to enter so far into the main mansion.

     

    “Does the young master expect you, young one?” one of the two guards asked amiably, not considering Laien to be of any threat whatsoever. He didn’t even mind the short sword at Laien’s waist, as these times many young nobles liked to stroll around with their weapons in the open.

     

    “Yes,” Laien lied with a straight face and nodded with a smile. He didn’t want to bother with explaining why he came. If he were to be let in without problems, these two men would probably forget about him in a day or two. On the other hand, if he argued his way through, they would remember that incident and gossip about it later. Laien simply preferred to keep the whole thing as small and unknown as possible, partially because of his pride and partially to make it easier for Jasi to let him be. The less people knew, the less ‘responsibility’ Jasi would have to punish him for whatever he had offended him with.

     

    The two guards, not finding anything suspicious in Laien’s behavior, decided to let him through without any further questions. It wasn’t up to them to discern whether the youth in front of them was lying or not. In the worst case scenario, he would get thrown out by Jasi and that would be it. They hadn’t received any orders to not let anyone in, after all and to be completely honest… they didn’t like dealing with Jasi that much anyway, so they cared little about a slight neglect of their duties.

     

    “So big, he even seems to have his own bathroom here. Must feel good to live in a such nice place,” Laien sighed bitterly, forcing himself not to look at the beautiful ornaments, valuable oriental furs and many, many other very expensive goods. He took a deep breath, then walked into the room from which the sounds of a casual talk of a few youths was coming.

     

    The five youths looked at Laien, surprised by his sudden appearance. Apart from Jasi, Laien recognized one of the four older teenagers. The well-built, brown-haired fifteen year old was called Cran and was the only son of a powerful martial master. As for the other three, Laien didn’t know them. They all seemed to be around fourteen to sixteen years old, though.

     

    “Are you going to just stare like that, after coming uninvited? Did you forget tongue in your mouth?” Jasi asked with a clear frown on his face, however he didn’t tell Laien to leave. He could throw him out at any time he wanted, but Laien obviously wanted something of him. Since Laien was presenting himself on a silver plate, how could he not use this opportunity to its fullest?

     

    “Is it fine if we talk with them here?” Laien asked, not knowing whether these four were in the inner circle of Jasi’s friends or if they just happened to be here today.

     

    “Hmph, a lowlife like you wants to tell us to leave? Think again!” before Jasi said anything, one of the short-tempered youths barked angrily.

     

    Laien glanced at Jasi, but saw that he seemed to have no intention of interfering. His look was saying something along the lines of ‘take care of it yourself if you want to talk with me’.

     

    Suppressing a sigh, Laien swallowed his pride and forced out an apology. “I apologize, It was my mistake. Please forget about that,” he said and lowered his head, doing his best not to leak any anger or frustration into his voice.  However, when he looked up at the five, it could be seen that his face was slightly blushed from anger and shame.

     

    “Haha, just that? You don’t really believe it will be enough for us to forgive you? You’d better fall on your knees and start begging, brat,” the youth declared with contempt, knowing that the more miserable he makes Laien, the more favor of Jasi he will gain.

     

     Laien just looked at brown-haired young man spewing gibberish, trying to not explode.

     

    As Laien was giving his best to not explode with anger, Cran leaned back on his chair and clenched his fist, suppressing the trembling of his body. “As scary as always. What a powerful killing intent,” Cran murmured to himself, holding back a smile. Thanks to this very killing intent he had awakened a battle sense while sparring with Laien, so of course, he was quite grateful to the youth, although the person in question wasn’t quite aware of this gratitude of his.

     

    Generally speaking, only practitioners who approached the Realm of Heroes or those who had faced many life-or-death struggled were capable of awakening a battle sense and thus, sensing a killing intent and much more. For Cran, who was widely considered a young prodigy of the Red Dragon School, awakening his battle sense early was a point of honor. However, even after being taken by his father to participate in the real battles on the borders, he failed to make his breakthrough.

     

    Only one year ago did his battle sense awaken, making him the number one, undisputed genius of his generation within the Red Dragon School. Yet, the circumstances surrounding that event were quite peculiar. Last year, he had caught a few younger disciples of his school on fighting with a kid in one of the alleys in the city. His first thought had been to stop them immediately, but as he approached, a frighteningly strong killing intent swept over him, putting all his sense into the state of a great alarm. Back then, he, the fearless prodigy of the Red Dragon School, had trembled in fear before a mere nine year old, before a random martial practitioner of the second rank.

     

    After he had watched Laien just barely win against five youths his age, on the spur of the moment, he had decided to help him and at the same, benefit of off him. He had used his influence to cover the whole fight up, then he had gotten Laien to spar with him on a regular basis. Although Laien’s killing intent wouldn’t appear unless he was pushed into a corner, those sessions allowed him to very quickly awaken his battle sense; at the age of fourteen, no less.

     

    During this dozen or so seconds when Cran reminisced the past, Laien has finally made his choice. He breathed out and relaxed his body. Feeling something break deep inside him, he fell to his knees and bowed. “I beg you to forgive me for my rudeness, young masters,” he said in a neutral voice, giving up on any dignity he might have still had.

     

    Seeing Laien prostrate himself, hearing his words… It shocked the five youths who never thought he would actually do as he was told. After all, in their eyes Laien was a noble. One that didn’t matter in the slightest and had no influence, but nevertheless, a noble. They couldn’t comprehend how one of their class could lower himself to this extent! Had it been one of them, they would rather die than submit!

     

    Especially Cran’s face was ugly to behold. Seeing someone with as much martial talent as Laien kneel before a trash like Hanzen, or however this friend of Jasi’s was called, was akin to a humiliation to himself. “What a bunch of retards. Does even one of you realize that if I weren’t here, he could kill all of you by himself before those two guards could intervene?” he thought angrily, maybe exaggerating Laien’s ability by a bit.

     

    “Sometimes I wish I could kill all of them… but, I can’t. I won’t be able to help you, so you’d better not do anything reckless,” Cran pleaded silently, not willing to waste all the effort he had put into becoming Jasi’s ‘friend’. There was a lot he could gain from a relationship with the youth who was most likely to become a future leader of the Valius family and because of that fact, he was set on not getting involved into this matter between Laien and Jasi. He really was, but when he heard Hanzen speaking again…

     

    “Hahahaha! Good! Now you really behave like you should! Now, how about admitting that you should have never wronged the people who are heaven and earth above you and th-…”

     

    *Thud!* All of a sudden, a loud crashing sound echoed throughout the room as the table the five youths were sitting at crumbled into pieces, shattered by the open palm of Cran’s hand.

    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 1. It all began that day. (Part VII)

     

    Confused and startled, Hanzen somehow managed not to bite his tongue. He looked at Cran with his heart in throat, too scared to utter but a word. Those few seconds when Cran was staring at him felt incredibly long, but thankfully, Cran shook his head and looked away. Although Cran was a noble just like him, he had the monstrously powerful Red Dragon School behind his back! There was no way Hanzen would dare to offend Cran, not matter what benefits Jasi would promise him.

     

    “I think that’s enough, he already apologized. Let him say what he wants exactly and be done with this crap,” Cran said rather angrily, then glanced at Jasi. The ten year old weighed the matter for a second, only to nod in agreement, not seeing how his relationship with Cran could be less important than dealing with Laien.

     

    As for Hanzen, he chuckled quietly, trying to hide how nervous he was. He only waved his hand and decided not to pay attention to Laien anymore, separating himself from any further discussion on his subject.

     

    Laien stood up and gazed at Cran curiously. He didn’t think the two of them were on good enough terms for Cran to stand in his defense, so this outcome surprised him greatly. “No time to wonder about why he did that,” Laien said to himself and started gathering his thoughts, wanting to make the best use of everyone being intimidated by Cran.

     

    “I came here to ask you to forget our past grudges. You want to teach me a lesson, I know. However, If you are willing to let me be, I promise not to get in your way, be it in the matters of the clan or on the daily routine,” Laien declared very calmly. After he had been forced to kowtow, something like explaining his request was truly nothing much.  

     

    Waiting for Jasi’s reply, Laien stood straight, looking Jasi in the eye. Having felt what it was like to prostrate in front of somebody, Laien promised himself to do all within his strength to never be forced to do it again. He could submit, he could give an apology for something he didn’t even understand, but he would never again be made to kneel before anyone!

     

    Jasi, who previously was quite disturbed, has regained his composure after listening to Laien’s request. He felt like he was in the control of the conversation just like he always was, so he managed to calm down just after a few more seconds passed. After confronting his feelings about Laien with reason, he quickly arrived at an answer and spoke up.

     

    “I’m fine with doing it this way, but under one condition. I want you to become my subordinate in the family. Your life, do whatever you want with it, but you must declare following me publicly and not create any trouble for me,” Jasi stated straightforwardly, seeing little to no value in bullying Laien any longer. He could do it for his own amusement, but he definitely wouldn’t allow his fun to disturb the more important matters in his life.

     

    Laien smiled and agreed with a simple nod. This price wasn’t a high one to be paid. Jasi didn’t even require him to follow his orders; he only wanted to get rid of him and never have to deal with him again. A conclusion like this one suited Laien very well.

     

    “When I become strong enough, I will be able to ignore him anyway,” the thought crossed Laien’s mind. Perhaps because he was relieved, but a hint of his emotions surfaced on his face. Regrettably, this subtle change in his expression hasn’t gone unnoticed.

     

    “Jasi, you gave him too good of a deal. Look, even he knows it. We can’t make it that simple now, can we?” one of the youths suggested daringly, not only making Laien worry but also giving quite a headache to Jasi and causing an unpleasant shiver to run down Hanzen’s spine. At this point, no one wished for the situation to escalate, no one apart from that one peculiar youth.

     

    “What do you suggest, Masi?” Jasi asked plainly, only wishing that this annoying situation could conclude already.

     

    Masi laughed and exchanged a cold gaze with Cran. “Say, Cran, what had your father done after the battle of Renuvre with his prisoners?” he asked with a smirk, making a point that Cran would have trouble refuting

     

    Cran felt like punching Masi for mentioning this battle, but as he greatly respected his father, he felt obliged to answer. “He asked the prisoners whether they want to join his army or be executed. Considering the hatred between both sides, only a few agreed. Then, father told them to prove their loyalty and execute their former comrades by their own hands. Not even one agreed, so he had everyone beheaded, each and every one to the last man,” he finished with a sigh, not agreeing with his father’s methods in the slightest. However, those were the facts; he couldn’t pretend not to see them.

     

    “If you think about making me kill my friends, then you can forget about it,” Laien said hoarsely, this time truly on the verge of losing patience.

     

    “No, no, nothing to that extent, only similar. Let’s say, how was he called again? That kid that you always hang around with? Never mind his name, rough him up a bit. To the same extent you got beat up today should be fine.  If you can do it, then we will be able to trust that you really aren’t planning on turning your back on us in the future.”  Masi seemed to be quite pleased with his idea; he also enjoyed watching how Laien’s expression kept changing in response to his words.

     

    What Masi did not realize, however, was that in fact, Laien hadn’t been nearly as hurt as he thought him to have been. In Neil City, most people viewed Laien as an above-average martial practitioner, but all in all, nothing too amazing. Only a few knew that he reached the peak of the third Mortal Realm at the age of ten and even fewer knew about his abnormally powerful body forged in training with Master Shire. Facing a few punches and kicks from older boys who were merely at the early stages of the third Mortal Realm? Sure, it would cause him a bit of pain, but nothing else.

     

    “So all you want is a few bruises? Those who had been sent to beat me up seem to have only bark and no bite, so as you can see, I am doing well enough. Or maybe should I strip to prove that I am telling the truth?” Laien asked with a laugh and raised the side of his shirt, showing the barely visible scratches and light bruises on his stomach.

     

    Masi’s eyebrows quivered in anger. He frowned, then corrected himself. “That wouldn’t be enough, you need to beat him up more,” he said, but very apparently appeared to be not too pleased with taking back his words. Although it mattered little, he felt that he lost to Laien in an exchange of words and it wasn’t something he could easily accept as reality.

     

    Laien took a deep breath, trying to decide what he was going to do. Was he really willing to do what Masi was asking of him? Was he willing to attack his best friend…? Theoretically, he could just ask Rune for a rough spar after explaining everything to him. Knowing Rune, he would agree to help without hesitation, however, it still wouldn’t feel quite right to Laien.

     

    “Of course, you will take someone as a witness, so I can have a proper proof that you just went there and did what I told you to do. There would be no point if you just asked that kid to roll on the ground and jump from the tree, now would there?” Masi added with a vicious smile, causing Laien’s hopes to immediately vaporize.

     

    Laien froze in place, only now realizing that he had willingly entered the lion’s den. Just imagining what could have happened to him had it not been for Cran sticking for him caused him to feel weak in his knees. Yet, despite Cran’s help, he was about to be forced into making a decision he truly didn’t wish to make. To choose between attacking Rune and refusing this demand, thus very possibly endangering Siana… how was he supposed to make this decision?

     

    “Was it only about me, I could endure…  however, this guy doesn’t look like he will stop with only simple bullying if I refuse now,” Laien tried to reason to himself. In the end, after a good while of silence, he finally spoke up while clenching his fists so hard that blood started dripping from them.

     

    “Fine, I will do it! Now hurry up and bring me this convoy-bastard or whoever, before I change my mind!” he shouted, suppressing the nauseous feeling in his stomach.


    AN: This part ended up being shorter than the others after I went back to re-work and edit the early chapters.
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016
    An empty post after major editing of the early chaps~
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016
    An empty post after major editing of the early chaps~
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016
    An empty post after major editing of the early chaps~
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • Wow what a first chapter xD

    Indeed... matching this length for every chapter would not be possible, haha.
  • Ooooh...This seems great! Thanks for the chapter. Keep up the great work!
  • I'm surprised this doesn't have at least 100 views. This story is very well written and it's getting good! Somewhat slow the first few chapters, but that's fine because stories like these usually amp it up later on. xD
  • Thanks for comments guys, they give me motivation to keep writing more, hehe :) Working on second chapter, will surely be up on schedule tommorow :)
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2015
    Soooo....does that mean if we spam comments we would motivate you to continue the story till the end? ;)
  • edited July 2015
    Hahaha :D At pace of three chapters a week, it should take around year and a half up to two years for this novel to be finished by me ~~ Don't worry, i will not stop writing, so all who read this are up for a long run ^.^ I considered a lot of things before releasing first chapter and have outline pretty much planned, so, yeah ~~

    Umm... Well, i re-counted and it would be only around 200-250 chapters during mentioned peroid... So it might take longer than two years... Whoops.
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • More than 2 years of cliffhangers...

    Can my weak heart take it?
  • Caladbolg said:

    Hahaha :D At pace of three chapters a week, it should take around year and a half up to two years for this novel to be finished by me ~~ Don't worry, i will not stop writing, so all who read this are up for a long run ^.^ I considered a lot of things before releasing first chapter and have outline pretty much planned, so, yeah ~~

    Umm... Well, i re-counted and it would be only around 200-250 chapters during mentioned peroid... So it might take longer than two years... Whoops.





    That just means I will be busy for more than 2 years
  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 2. Unforgivable! (Part I)

     

    Masi opened his eyes wide as he was momentarily stunned by Laien’s sudden shout. Then, with a satisfied expression, he unexpectedly turned to  look at Cran. “Maybe you will go and escort our dear guest? Unless, of course, you’d rather have me find someone else to do it instead. What do you say? You seem to have some kind of relationship with our guest, after all,” he asked with certain purpose in his mind.

     

    “Let’s see what you do here, you hypocritical goodie two shoes,” Masi thought contentedly, happy to put Cran between a rock and a hard place.

     

    From Cran’s viewpoint, the situation at hand truly was a problematic one. He cursed in his heart, having been forced in making a decision where neither choice would result in anything good. He needed to weigh down his beliefs and ambitions, what truly wasn’t an easy thing to do. Stand by Laien’s side, or continue playing Jasi’s friend?

     

    Cran felt his blood boil with anger Currently, he and Masi were both associating themselves with Jasi for similar reasons; they sought benefits coming from befriending an important person. As for Masi, he surely had his own ambitions, but Cran wished to become a General, just like his father had. The powerful Martial Schools had a lot of influence in the country, however… only the great noble families and the royal family could appoint military generals, whose number in the country was limited.

     

    For Cran, the easiest and most fireproof way to achieve this goal was to make friends with Jasi, the most likely future leader of the Valius clan. There were other possibilities, of course, but none gave him as high of a chance of succeeding as getting Jasi’s recommendation in the future.

     

    The problem at hand, however, wasn’t frustrating only Cran. Jasi himself didn’t like the direction this talk was going into. In his eyes, Cran was a much more valuable asset than Masi and now, whatever would happen, Cran would bear a grudge not only against Masi, but against him, too.

     

    “Am I really too soft, like my father is always saying?” Cran wondered bitterly, torn between following his conscience and pursuing his long-term goals. He had put a lot of effort into befriending Jasi during the last two years, it would be a great waste to discard it all just because of one kid… However, could he really make this decision and look at his own face in the mirror the next day without feeling disgusted?

     

    Yet, just as Cran was about to open his mouth, another voice interrupted him.

     

    “There’s no need for him to go with me. No point in someone of such a high wasting his time. Just call whoever you wanted to before,” Laien declared with a light snort and shrugged his shoulders. He couldn’t have not noticed how Cran have had a hard time making his choice. Cran had already lent him some face and he was grateful; he didn’t want to strain their relationship anymore as he didn’t feel the two of them were good friends or anything like that.

     

    To be completely honest, there was also another reason for Laien’s refusal. He worried what would happen had Cran decided to abandon him completely? This way, at the very least, there would be a person who could take his side the next time Jasi or Masi think about bullying him.

     

    “At the very least, I am more or less calm,” the resigned thought passed through Laien’s mind. He might have been only a ten year old, but he had experienced more than many adults would ever have. He had seen his parents sacrifice their lives for him and his little sister, he had seen the village they lives in being razed to the ground… and most importantly, he had gotten over all of that. Thanks to his past, he was more mature than any child his age and could keep or regain his cool when others would have fallen prey to stress and panic.

     

    “Hm?” Masi’s forehead furrowed in a slight frown. He eyed Laien, then looked at Cran who already leaned back on his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. From the looks of it, he had no intention of moving or going anywhere whatsoever.

     

    “If that’s what you want, then fine. Just don’t regret it later,” Masi said coldly as he gazed at Laien, then gave Cran a meaningful smirk. “Go wait at the fountain in the back of the mansion. I will make sure to prepare a good ‘convoy’ for you,” he instructed Laien with a smile that surely enough didn’t indicate any good intentions. He stood up and gestured Laien to lead the way, but seeing as the ten year old doesn’t intent to walk with him, he snickered and left first.

     

    Ten breaths after Masi left the room, Laien also turned around and walked away, leaving behind a truly sour atmosphere. The four who remained in the room didn’t even feel like chatting anymore

     

    Perhaps, this outcome had been satisfying only for Masi, who for his own good, should have realized it sooner.

     

    ---

     

    Laien shook his head, walking through dark corridors. When he needed to he could keep his calm, but now, he looked like a human wreck. “Beating Rune up… I won’t even be able to explain why I did it until tomorrow…” he thought with a sigh, wondering if he should have tried to endure Jasi’s bullying for a bit longer. However, now it was too late to regret his decision. What was done, was done and he needed to deal with all the consequences.

     

    He understood that it was too late to regret, he understood, but…  He still felt like throwing up at the mere thought of luring Rune out of his house, then attacking him without any explanation while having some bastards watch him do it from the dark.

     

    “If I explain it later, he will surely understand... If it was me in his place, I would. Just a few wounds, nothing big. They will heal in a week or so.” Laien laughed resignedly. Who was he trying to convince? No matter what he would be telling himself, he wouldn’t trick his own conscience into believing it was okay to act in this manner. Logic was telling him to go through with Masi’s demand and settle all problems related to those young masters once and for all, but his heart kept yelling at him to come back to his senses.

     

    Having arrived outside, Laien sat on the fountain’s stone ledge and almost habitually, put his hand into the water and stirred it lightly. Had it been just a few hours ago, he might have been able to enjoy the beautiful, clear starry sky... yet right now, he was nothing short of being depressed.

     

    “There are people with lives worse than mine. No point in feeling sorry for myself, I need to do what I must,” he murmured quietly and took a few deep breaths, emptying his heads from any thoughts. Unconsciously, he still moved his hand about in the water as he slipped into a state very similar to the meditative trance.

     

    Usually, when one immersed himself in meditation and training the spiritual energy, he would enter a peaceful, tranquil state of mind. The deeper such state was ,the better results one could achieve. Usually, while training, spiritual practitioners would lose the sense of the time passing and would only be alarmed by an outside stimulus, or by the feeling of their body being too exhausted to continue.

     

    Accidentally, Laien managed to fall deeper into the meditative trance than ever before. He had felt shaken, disturbed and anxious to the extreme, only to next second discard all those feelings and naturally switch to a tranquil state of mind. He switched from one extreme to another and thanks to that, reached something he shouldn’t have yet discovered. He should have barely touched upon it, his fingertips should have only slid against the surface, but instead, he fell inside with his whole body.

     

    With the unique experience, came an enlightenment of which even Laien himself wasn’t yet aware. Suddenly, the water of the fountain stirred, although no normal person would be able to notice any difference. The natural energy within the water shook and miraculously, pure water-type elemental energy extracted itself from it and began flowing to Laien’s hand as if being sucked by it.

     

    The amount of energy which Laien’s body began absorbing at a rapid pace was truly astonishing. The spiritual energy which until now, lingered in the upper part of Laien’s chest in a form of mist began liquefying. It was increasing both in quantity and quality, being strengthened many times over. Yet, something else was also happening simultaneously, something arguably even more amazing.

     

    The whole surroundings seemed to have changed in nature. Were one with acute senses to look at the scene, he would witness an illusory image of the boundless, calm sea. Those who lived by the great water would instantly recognize this sight; only at one time would the sea be as tranquil as that, and it would be right after a powerful storm!  When the seas were angry, they could rampage mercilessly and devour anything within their grasp. However, after each horrifying display of their power, the seas would show their other face. For a brief period of time, even the waves would smoothen, as if resting and relaxing after having roared for many days. The sea would then turn truly… Tranquil.

     

    Minutes passed as if they were seconds. The vast amounts of elemental energy kept pouring into Laien’s body, increasing his strength and at the same time, forming a clear, splitting image of the Tranquility of the sea. At one point, all the mist in Laien’s upper chest liquefied and instantly, formed a true Spiritual Core, which suddenly… disappeared from Laien’s body.

     

    It disappeared, but had it truly? The process of absorption hadn’t yet stopped, it continued for a few dozen seconds longer, strengthening Laien’s cultivation base even further. It proved that the Spiritual Core was still there, only in a slightly different place.

     

    After a few moments, the water in the fountain, which until now had been shooting high up into the air, mysteriously stopped flowing and in the end, came to a complete halt. As the absorption finished for good, all the water-type elemental energy which still lingered in the water surged and exploded, creating a great cloud of tens of thousands elemental sparks.

     

    Feeling somewhat strange, Laien shook his head, coming back to his senses. Somehow, he could tell that there was something different about him. He blinked a few times, realizing that he was surrounded by tens upon tens of thousands water-type elemental sparks. He could see them much clearer than ever before; they were truly bewildering. They also carried a strange, soothing feeling to them… a Tranquil feeling, if he were to name it.

     

    Laien slowly reached out with his hand, trying to catch some of the elemental sparks. He smiled as the small clusters of blue light slid through his fingers and escaped, just like water. His minds calm and clear, Laien continued watching spectacle of lights that only he was capable of seeing.

     

    After some more time passed, all the elemental sparks slowly fell down into the fountain, one after another merging with its waters. Within the time of one hundred breaths, all of them were absorbed, leaving but a barely visible glow over the fountain’s water.

     

    Laien looked at the moon, noticing that it moved a bit on the sky. “Twenty minutes to half an hour passed, but when?” he wondered, rather confused, but surprisingly calm. Not even his heart was beating wildly anymore, his thoughts have become more clear, too; they were clouded by fear and anxiety no more.

     

    Just as Laien started wondering why Masi’s minions were taking so long, he heard the sounds of chatting and laughter getting closer from afar. Laien recognized those voices very well. Smiling resignedly, he stood up and walked towards three incoming teenagers. “So you weren’t Jasi’s subordinates, but someone else’s. What was he called again, Masi?” Laien asked with a smirk, surprising even himself by his good mood. He couldn’t tell why, but for some reason, he was feeling so much better than a while ago.

     

    Having learned of Laien’s situation and being quite amused by it, one of the three boys actually answered. “Haha, since you want to know, I might as well tell you. Young master Masi Boular, remember this name well so you know who to curse later,” the fourteen year old said and laughed with his two friends.

     

    Laien raised his eyebrows, smelling something fishy in these words. Could Masi have planned for something else to happen what wasn’t a part of their original deal?

     

    “Here, catch,” the fourteen year old threw a keychain to Laien, which Laien easily caught. Only one key was attached to the ring, a master key opening most of the regular doors within the grounds of the Valius mansion. “Now hurry up and go. Well, if you decide not to, then it’s fine with us, too,” the other one of the three boys said with a cheeky smile. He didn’t even ridicule Laien mid-sentence, what was pretty surprising.

     

    “What are they planning? Oh, well… I will think about it later…” Laien mused, not feeling like thinking too much at the moment. He was still feeling really good, his mind drifting peacefully as if sailing through the lake. He was no longer worried about making a choice, he knew what he was going to do very well.

     

    Soon, Laien arrived at Rune’s house. He sighed, contemplating his choices. It would have been for the best if he could have some time to speak with Rune beforehand… He looked turned to look at three youths who were still following behind him and shook his head.

     

    “And what do you think you are doing, standing here? How is he supposed to come with me if he sees you, eh?” Laien asked with a surprised expression, gazing at the three like at some idiots.

     

    This unexpected behavior of Laien’s threw the three off, they were so baffled that they didn’t know how to react. Previously, Laien had always been trying to appear meek before them; he would suppress his feelings and anger. However, right now he was so easygoing that one might have thought he was talking to his friends.

     

    “Just go to the stables, to the big storage house at the back, you know the place, right? I will arrive in a few minutes,” Laien said casually and shrugged his shoulders, appearing to be rather resigned by the three’s cluelessness.

     

    The three youths backed off by a few steps, then began whispering amongst each other. “It’s fine, right? If he runs he is screwed anyway,” one of them said, after what the other two agreed. “Right, and him telling this second brat will make it more interesting for us. Let’s do it.”

     

    After giving Laien what was supposed to be a threatening, silent gaze, the three of them left. A moment later, Laien chuckled with a wide smile on his face. Now that he was so pleasantly calm, somehow dealing with everything became much simpler. “Idiots,” Laien murmured. From the looks of it, those three didn’t even know that he was a martial practitioner. They probably thought he was really weak, maybe at the first mortal realm. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have whispered so close to him. After all, Laien’s all senses were all quite a bit stronger than average man’s as he was at the peak of the third Mortal Realm as a martial practitioner.

     

    “Aaaah, I really don’t feel like playing this game. But if it goes well, I will have a nice peaceful life  guaranteed for at least a few years. It’s worth trying,” Laien complained quietly, then knocked on the door. Shortly afterwards, Rune’s mother let him in, a bit surprised by his late visit. However, it wasn’t anything unusual enough to cause her to worry about it too much.

     

    “You played together whole day, and you come to play in the evening, too? Come in, come in.” she said with a smile and gestured Laien to go ahead and enter.

     

    Rune’s mother liked Laien quite a bit. Especially after Rune had stopped causing trouble with his overly shy behavior, she practically started looking at Laien as someone akin to Rune’s older brother. Of course, however, she would have never said those words out loud. She was aware that Laien belonged to the Valius family, no matter how negligent his status within it was. Sooner or later, the friendship between her son and Laien would end, or so she was convinced.

     

    Recalling Jasi’s room and now once again seeing how nice houses the Valius family provided to common working families, Laien thought that they must have had quite some excess money to spend. To be honest, if he had a choice, he would rather live in one of such houses than in a room within the main mansion… but that would never happen. They wouldn’t let ‘one of them’ live like a commoner, even if they didn’t truly think of him as one of the Valius family in their hearts. What a hypocrisy, Laien thought.

     

    “Big brother? Why did you come? Do you want to stay the night?” Rune asked the moment he saw Laien entering his room. On the other bed, Talian who had been sleeping until now woke up and rubbed his eyes.

     

    “Nah, not this time. I need to talk with you for a bit. Think we could go outside for a moment?” Laien asked straightforwardly.

     

    “Sure, let’s go.” Rune replied without hesitation and stood up from his bed. He didn’t know what it was that Laien wanted, but he wouldn’t think twice about following him if Laien wanted to talk with him in private.

     

    As the two were about to leave, Talian pouted, smiling humorously. “First you all forget to help with moving my things, then you wake me up and leave wondering. Eeeh, all of you are terrible,” he said with a laugh.

     

    Laien scratched his head, smiling awkwardly. “Sorry about that, buddy. Will you forgive me if I take you to eat something good in the city later?” he suggested and apparently, satisfied Talian perfectly.

     

    “It’s a promise,” Talian stated merrily, then after Laien and Rune left, he went back to sleep.

    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 2. Unforgivable! (Part II)

     

    “Mm, what did you want to talk about, big brother?” Rune asked just as they left his house, getting curious why Laien came to see him out of the blue. In response, Laien gestured for the two of them to sit down at the nearby bench, then after they sat down, he began explaining.

     

    “You know that I went to speak with Jasi, right? I wanted to somehow get him to give me a break, but in the end… quite a bit of stupid things happened. When I was talking with Jasi, some of his friends got involved and somehow it ended up being them making an ultimatum. They wanted me to prove that I really don’t intent to betray them and to do that, I was supposed to attack you and rough you up. I was quite stressed back then, so I ended up agreeing,” Laien shook his head with a resigned smile. Really, what had he been thinking to agree to something like that?

     

    Rune tilted his head, trying to keep up with those news. “You told me about it, so you gave up, right?” he asked hesitatingly.

     

    “Of course I did, stupid. I was an idiot to go along with their demands, duh,” Laien assured, feeling guilty about ever considering the possibility of attacking his best friend because of some young master’s demand.

     

    Rune’s expression immediately lightened, however, as he realized something important, he once again got worried. “Then you will be in a big trouble, won’t you, big brother? You know, if it’s just a slight beating, then I…” he wanted to say more, but seeing Laien shake his head, he stopped.

     

    Feeling warm and cozy inside, Laien spoke with a light smile. “I just can’t do it. No matter what happens, there are people too important to me to betray myself like that. You are like a little brother to me. There’s no way I could I behave so viciously, even with your consent,” he said truthfully, intending to never again go against his principles. Someone who doesn’t value his own friends and is ready to sell them out for his own gain… a person like that was the worst.

     

    Rune seemed a bit overwhelmed by Laien’s declaration. It was rare for Laien to express his emotions like that, in words; he usually preferred to prove things through actions instead. Rune wasn’t too sure how he should react of what to say, but then Laien put a hand over his shoulders and hugged him lightly. Seeing Laien smile at him, Rune also smiled happily. There was no need for pointless words, both of them understood each other’s feelings.

     

    Although he wouldn’t be thinking about it often, for Rune, Laien really was his closest friend. Someone he could treat like a big brother, play with, chat with, have fun with and tell anything and everything. With no other males in his everyday life, it was natural for Rune to have gotten greatly attached to Laien. His bond with Laien was really precious to him, no matter what. Knowing that Laien treated him in the same way made Rune incredibly happy, to the point of making him feel like crying; his face blushed and hints of tears gleaming in his eyes.

     

    Laien just stayed like that for a while, hugging Rune and reminiscing all the time he had spent with him until now. Regrettably, he couldn’t remain here for much longer.

     

    “I must go before they start looking for me. Rune, I want you to do something for me. Go find Genzie, tell him that I am going to that old storage house at the back of the stables. Explain things briefly and tell him that I might need his help, after all; both right now, and in future. Can I rely on you with that?” By this point, Laien understood better than he would have wanted to, he understood that he couldn’t handle everything alone. He wasn’t nearly strong or influential enough... so even though he felt bad about it, he couldn’t avoid asking for help. That situation with Jasi and Cran opened his eyes and surely, made him more cautious and a little bit smarter.

     

    “Yeah, you got that, big brother!” Rune got up energetically, gave Laien last one look and then ran towards the city.

     

    “Well, may the game begin,” Laien mused with a grim smile as he closed onto the old storage house. He took a deep breath, entering a state of heightened concentration, readying himself for battle. Thankfully, due to Master Shire’s training, being battle-ready became as natural to Laien as breathing. Sure, it was straining on his mind, but he could keep himself in this state for good three or four hours in a row. At the age of ten, it definitely was a very exceptional result, one which many adults wouldn’t be able to achieve.

     

    Laien pushed the door to the old storage open, then looked around. He quickly spotted the three youths in the back, trying to hide in the dark. He smiled, wondering if he should ask for their names before returning the favor from this morning.

     

    “Where is the brat? You came alone?” one of them asked angrily, a hint of threat present in his voice.

     

    “Yeah, as you can see. What will you do about it?” Laien asked, grinning smugly.

     

    “Haha, do you think you are smart or something? Don’t worry, we will find him after we are done with you. We are going to make sure that this little friend of yours will never forgets this experience,” the fourteen year old said with a laugh. “Want me to tell you what we were told to do if you brought the brat with you? I might consider it, if you ask nicely,” he asked, walking towards Laien with the other two and making it quite apparent that Laien should be getting ready to get beaten up.

     

    “This one seems to be quite talkative. He enjoys tormenting people when bullying them, huh. He loves the feeling of supremacy... Mm, It wouldn’t hurt to get some information out of him, I guess,” Laien thought to himself, not minding some acting at all. Compared to prostrating himself before some worthless young masters, playing along with a game was nothing much at all.

     

    “I would like to know. I would be grateful if you told me, please.” he responded to the fourteen year old’s proposition in a completely normal tone, without any traces of sarcasm in his voice.

     

    The boy didn’t expect Laien to really do as he said, so instead of reacting quickly, he ended up opening and closing his mouth in a rather dumb manner. He coughed, thrown out of the rhythm, then began saying. “Since you are asking, I will tell you, but you will wish you never knew, hah. We were told to keep telling you that you haven’t beaten that brat enough yet over and over to see how far you would go. When you would finally have broken down and refused, we were supposed to take good care of both of you. Funny eh? You were in a deep shit no matter what you would have done. Well, not like you are any better now,” the fourteen year old finished with a chuckle, having regained his previous confidence while speaking; as if getting drunk on his own words.

     

    “Okay, that’s enough talking,” the youth declared and signaled his two friends to block the exit. As he saw it, he alone was more than enough to deal with Laien. He didn’t want anyone disturbing his fun, He intended to enjoy this thoroughly, let Laien struggle and injure him slowly throughout the fight. After he had a chance to beat Laien up this morning, he had no other impression of Laien than that of him being a scaredy and submissive person. He wasn’t on guard against him in the slightest.

     

    Right now, as he was approaching and seeing Laien just stand there calmly with a smile on his face, the fourteen year old began feeling that something was wrong. However, he ignored those instinctive warnings and swung his fist at Laien’s face overconfidently. Yet, after he threw the punch, before he realized what was going on, he already saw the world spin before his eyes. The air was forced out of his lungs as his back slammed against the ground and a second later, a piercing pain started emanating from his right shoulder. He tried to take a breath or move, but could do neither. It was as if all the strength has left his body.

     

    Even through the fourteen year old didn’t quite understand what happened to him, the other two boys have seen it very clearly. They couldn’t believe it, but after seeing it with their own eyes, they had no option but to do just that. When their leader’s fist approached, Laien had simply taken a step to the side and had caught his forearm from below, then instantly twisted it and pulled forward at the same time. Without much effort at all, he had thrown a much bigger opponent and disabled him from any fighting for the time being.

     

    At this point, the two should have known what the correct decision was. Run! They should have ran as quickly as possible! However, after years of acting like bullies, how could they now flee from their ‘prey’, even when the kitten proved to be a scary tiger? They couldn’t! Not when the memory of trashing the same person around was still so fresh in their minds!

     

    Drawing their swords, the two of them actually attacked Laien with the intent to kill. Although they were weaker than their leader, both being at the peak of the second mortal realm, they thought that attacking with real weapons would cause Laien to panic. Of course, however, they were being delusional. It partially was their fault for not knowing about Laien’s strength, but how could they have known about Laien’s nightmares, which got him used to the experience of life-or-death battles?

     

    Facing the crude sword attacks, Laien decided to face simplicity with simplicity. The tow hadn’t even times their attacked properly and were slashing at the same time, what made the whole thing that much easier for him. He waited out until the last split-second and twisted his body to the side and jumped forward, right at one of the two older boys. As the two swords slicked the air, he delivered a solid strike with his open palm to the middle of the youth’s chest. Both the strength of his attack and the momentum of the boy’s added up and caused the breastbone to crack dangerously, pushing it to the verge of breaking altogether.

     

    The youth’s body bent in half and the sword fell from his hand as he flew a good five or six meters through the air. He crashed onto the ground and rolled for a few more meters, then stayed like that, in a very strange position, not moving at all.

     

    Despite Laien being only one full rank higher than him, Laien’s body was honed to a much higher degree than his. Laien’s technique was also at an incomparably higher level. ;the internal Qi wasn’t the only thing that mattered in a fight! As a result, the youth had completely lost consciousness after receiving but one blow.

     

    The last one standing of the three panicked and tried to strike with a thrust, aiming at Laien’s stomach. Laien smiled resignedly. After what Master Shire made him go through, an attack like that not only seemed to be moving in a slow-motion to him, he could also instantly recognize the countless flaws in the boy’s execution. For example, putting his whole weight behind a thrust. Doing something like that would be reckless even if the blow was certain to land, not to mention now, when there was more than enough time for Laien to dodge.

     

    Again, with a simple, but well times sidestep, Laien dodged the attack and grabbed the youth’s wrist as he lost his balance. Having gotten a good grip, Laien tightened his fist and twisted the youth’s hand at the same time. With a crunching sound, the wrist broke and the boy cried out in pain and let go of his sword.

     

    Clicking his tongue, Laien kicked the now kneeling twelve year old and allowed him to fall down. He was quite sure he broke at least two of three ribs with this one kick, but he achieved what he wanted; the boy had immediately shut up. Since they attacked with the intent to kill, he wouldn’t be merciful either. Had he been weaker than them, or had he panicked after seeing a sword, he could have been dead right now. Being pointlessly nice to little thugs like them wouldn’t do anything good. Rather, on the contrary it would encourage them to look for a revenge in the future.

     

    Laien unhurriedly walked up to a nearby wooden table and sat on it, then proceeded to wait for a while. Not betraying his expectations, the leader of the three got himself up while gazing at him with fear in his eyes. “Wake up your sleeping friend, I want all of you to listen,” Laien ordered casually, pointing at the one who got hit in the middle of his chest by him.

     

    The fourteen year old didn’t argue and went to his friend. He had finally realized the difference in strength between himself and Laien and his attitude changed accordingly. After trying for a moment, he managed to wake the youth up. The boy opened his eyes, then winced in pain and started hyperventilating, trying to catch a breath. Luckily for him, he was a martial practitioner of the second rank. He wouldn’t die from something like this; after a minute or so passed, he could breathe a little easier. However, a full recovery would likely require a full week of rest from him.

     

    “Since all of you are listening, I will ask now. What should I do with you? You obviously wanted to wound me heavily, then you even tried to kill me. Tell me, what is done when three kids of commoners attack a noble in this way? Do you think those young masters will still stand by your back after you screwed up today?” Laien asked with a cunning, amused smile and just like he hoped, he saw the faces of the three sink.  Those words truly made these three youths tremble and go down in cold sweat.

     

    Who were they? Just children of the guards serving the Boular Family, servants of the young master Masi. They status, compared to the adopted grandson of the previous leader of the Valius family was like the distance between heaven and earth; incomparably far apart. They had forgotten about this fact when Masi ordered them to do what they did, they were convinced that Laien was but a trash that Valius family wouldn’t give a damn about. However, after getting thoroughly beaten by him they could no longer believe that and thus, they suddenly got very, very scared for their lives.

     

    “P-please! We will do anything, just forgive us! I beg you! Whatever you say, we will do!” the thirteen year old with a broken wrist broke into tears, no longer able to think straight after enduring the pain for the last few minutes. He had seen what young master Masi did with people who disobeyed him and if Laien was even half a bad as him, he wouldn’t ever want to truly get on his bad side! It was a little late for such regrets, though.

     

    Seeing their friend like that, the other two also lowered their heads and started pleading. However, Laien didn’t pay much attention to what they were saying. “Had I not been stronger than you, you would have ‘beaten me up half to death’ and also attacked my dear friend! How can you possibly convince me to spare you? Hmph, even if I let you go without punishment, you will just seek your revenge later. You won’t be able to do anything to me, so you will target my friends. Tell me, why shouldn’t I just kill you right here and get it done with it?” Laien asked repeatedly, with each question his voice turning more threatening and his expression filling with more anger.

     

    Compared to how he was before, this change in Laien’s behavior was so great that it made the three boys think that person speaking to them wasn’t truly Laien, but someone else. How could someone so scary, someone who could so easily make them feel  frightened for their lives have taken hits from then and not retaliated? Remembering how they cursed at him, kicked him and spit at him… it all made their fear of Laien that much greater.

     

    “No! We won’t do anything! I swear on my life! Let the Heavens strike me if I’m not telling the truth! I promise! Please, just… just forgive us…!” the fourteen year old began pleading while sobbing openly. Even he, the toughest-minded out of the three, was reduced to this state. The other two followed in his footsteps and started begging. The three boys actually kneeled before Laien while ignoring their wounds, then bowed low enough for their foreheads to be touching the ground.

     

    Satisfied, Laien decided that it should be enough. The three appeared to be really scared, so he wouldn’t go as far as killing them. He had thought about crippling them, but considering how many similar young thugs were under Masi’s command, it would be rather pointless. Were they to be convinced to attack his friends after what happened today, then unaffiliated people could be, too. Overall, leaving these three be was more beneficial than disadvantageous to him so he would do just that.

     

    Smiling, Laien allowed the three to experience drear for another, seemingly endless while before finally speaking up in a low voice. “This one time, I will believe your words. Remember, though, if you dare to harm any of my friends, then I will make sure the three of you have your balls stuffed down your throats while being skinned alive.” In the ears of the three youths, those quiet words were really terrifying. None of them doubted that Laien would make his threats come true had they broken their promise; not after being roughed up by him today in such a merciless manner.

     

    After thanking Laien numerous times, they stood up and cautiously approached the exit. They looked at Laien, seeking permission to leave. When Laien waved his hand dismissively, they left hurriedly.

     

    Still sitting on the table, Laien took a deep breath, then breathed out slowly. He had dealt with those three well enough, but he still had a feeling that ‘something’ was wrong. Choosing to listen to his gut feeling, he stood up and wanted to leave the place as quickly as possible, but just as he approached the half-open door, a body smashed it open and flew right past him at a great speed.

     

    His heart beating wildly, Laien drew his sword and briefly glanced at the youth who flew all the way to the other end of the storage house. The fourteen year old was definitely dead; his chest had caved in from a powerful blow and blood was flowing from his open mouth. Nothing would save him now, he was but a corpse.

     

    Laien steeled himself and laughed bitterly. Any normal ten year old would have been shaken by the sight of death, but he was different. There was his past, and there were his dreams… or rather, nightmares. He ignored the corpse behind him and backed off from the entrance and after a few seconds, saw a group of five adult men covered in long, grey-black robes enter the storage house.

     

    Each of the man carried a sword by his waist and released a menacing aura of a high-ranked martial practitioner. Just by looking at them, Laien could tell that they are out of his league. He was only a martial practitioner at the peak of the third rank, while they were at the very least at the sixth rank if not higher. Against one, he might have had a chance to run, but five? There was simply nothing he could do.

     

    The grey-black robed men dressed didn’t attack him immediately. Instead, one of them stepped in front of the others and started talking. “Hmmm, not even a wound on you. Young master told us that you were at peak of third mortal realm, but had you perhaps broken through to the fourth recently? Nevertheless, a good job indeed. You did those three in beautifully. The threats weren’t half-bad, either, for a ten year old, that is,” the captain of the five praised honestly, yet, his expression gave Laien quite an ominous feeling.

     

    “Gotta stall for time,” Laien realized instantly, making the only possible choice available to him. If only Genzie could make it in time with help… but would he even be able to help, though…? Against those five…? Valius family would never let Genzie bring his own private guards into their grounds, after all. Perhaps, it would be better if Genzie didn’t make it in time… or so Laien thought, yet, contradicting himself, he still hoped that someone would appear and save him from this predicament.

     

    “You were waiting outside, watching as I beat them and threaten them? Whose people are you?” Laien asked with the intent of buying some time. He needed not to ask if these five wanted to hurt him or not, it was quite apparent from the atmosphere surrounding them. This sensation... it was nothing pleasant to be exposed to.

     

    Hearing Laien’s question, the leader of grey-black robed men laughed. “We are the personal guards of young master Masi, of course. What, did you believe that young master is clueless enough not to know how strong you are? You are overestimating your luck, kiddo,” he said with a sigh, giving Laien a look of pity.

     

    Laien stood there, baffled. “Why did you kill that guy…? The other two, too…?” he asked, receiving a confirmation in form of an unconcerned shrug of shoulders. “Weren’t you on the same side?” he asked again, having trouble with understanding Masi’s motives.

     

    “Those retards? Hmph, they were useless trash. Their talent was nothing great and the worst of all, they were stupid. Had they noticed quickly enough that you were too strong for them, they would have passed the test. But they didn’t. Simply ridiculous… how can anyone be so retarded? All they needed to do was to recall this morning. They had a chance to punch you and kick you, but they didn’t notice that their attacks had no effect and left nothing but light bruises on your body! Boular family doesn’t need idiots,” the man explained, then snorted. For him, the matter of killing three commoners by his master’s orders was a trivial one. It was nothing worth his special attention.

     

    “Your talent, on the other hand, is not bad at all. Pity, today you will be crippled for your entire life. You shall never advance past the fifth mortal realm, or perhaps you will regress from being a martial practitioner altogether as your Qi Origin will be shattered. Curse your bad luck, kiddo. If you don’t struggle we can even do it as painlessly as possible, how about it?” the leader of the five proposed, waiting patiently for an answer and observing Laien’s shocked and horrified expression with a light, somewhat regretful smile. He truly pitied Laien, but orders were orders. Soldiers were expected to obey, not to ask questions.

     

    Laien looked at the man wide-eyed, his thoughts completely frozen. What did he just say? They were here to cripple his martial cultivation? Make all his past efforts and future prospects meaningless? Masi would go as far as to destroy his future on a simple, damned whim…?! Feeling his mouth grow dry, Laien wanted to force some words out, but he couldn’t. He could only watch as leader of the five men gestured at his subordinate, accepting Laien’s silence as consent for what was going to happen.

     

    The long-haired man came closer to Laien and bent his knees, preparing to strike the much smaller kid in his stomach. Somewhat surprised that Laien wasn’t resisting and just stood there, the man hesitated for a second. However, he didn’t waver for long. He gathered a decent amount of bright yellow Qi in his hand, clenched it into a fist and struck out.

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  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 3. First Spiritual Battle.

     

    When Laien regained ability to think properly, he only had the smallest amount of time before the man’s fist would land on his stomach. “Must defend!” he yelled inwardly.

     

    Unable to dodge, Laien could only rely on his magic. He reached out to his spiritual energy just like he always did, but shockingly, he reached a whole different place than every other time. Moreover, the very moment he consciously manipulated the spiritual energy, he realized how different it was! It has somehow grown unbelievably more powerful…!

     

    With no time to be amazed, Laien controlled his spiritual energy with surprising ease and practically instantly, formed a barrier of water in front of his stomach. He wanted to make it as durable as possible, fearing that the attack would plow through it regardless, so he used all his strength to reinforce it with as much spiritual energy as possible.

     

    In the next instant, the Qi-covered fist smashed at the defensive barrier of water and… barely made it vibrate, not affecting it in the slightest. The attack had been completely and effortlessly nullified!

     

    The grey-black cloaked man stared in disbelief at the disc of water that blocked his fist. He might have not used his full strength, but he was a martial practitioner of the sixth rank…! How could a ten year old be able to use magic of all things to block his attack? He couldn’t comprehend what was going on!

     

    “Cyan, careful!” the leader of the five men called out, seeing his subordinate just stand there carelessly. “Captain Mayen, what are you-…?”Cyan began saying, but never got to finish his words. Had he not just stood there motionlessly for two or three seconds, had he not been so thoughtless as to look over his shoulder, he might have had a chance to dodge. However, he had committed not one mistake, but two, which together ended up being fatal.

     

    During those precious seconds, Laien had enough time to accommodate himself to his newly discovered power. He had allowed his spiritual energy to flow throughout his body and strangely enough, as a result he calmed down perfectly; his mind becoming clear as sky, or perhaps… as Tranquil as a sea after a storm.

     

    That very moment, Laien understood what he needed to do and he acted mercilessly. He controlled the barrier of water and transformed it into a sharp spike, then run it through the man’s stomach.

     

    Facing a point-blank attack for a spiritual practitioner while being distracted, Cyan proved to be hopeless. In the Sarkcente Kingdom, spiritual practitioners were more than sparse. The whole Kingdom didn’t have even one spiritual master, so it was no surprise that people of the south weren’t used to fighting against magic users. With no movements from Laien himself, no words, no gestures... how could any of them reliably react in time to dodge? The probability was low to begin with and Cyan’s carelessness made it so that it went to no more and no less than zero.

     

    “You…” Cyan spoke and coughed up a mouthful of blood. Despite being pierced through, he was a martial practitioner of the sixth rank. He wouldn’t die immediately. In a last ditch attempt, he roused his Qi and grabbed the water spike with his hands, intending to pull it out. Yet, little did he know that the moment the water had entered his internals, he was already more than dead.

     

    Laien controlled the cluster of water, changing its form. In an instant, the spike transformed into thousands specks of water which shot out in every direction, ripping apart Cyan’s body from within and causing it to explode spectacularly, sending blood, bits of flesh and innards flying everywhere . With mere bones left from Cyan’s torso, his gruesome corpse fell to the ground, slowly oozing what blood was left inside it.

     

    “Motherfuckers! Why weren’t we told that this brat is such a stupidly powerful spiritual practitioner?!” Mayen cursed aloud, looking at his dead subordinate with fury in his eyes. In normal circumstances, he would have immediately attacked the perpetrator, however, this time he had no confidence in escaping unscratched. He has never faced off against a strong spiritual practitioner, after all. He had little to no idea what magi was capable of and after seeing Cyan being imploded from within, attacking recklessly was the last thing he would do.

     

    “Fuck, we aren’t even armed to fight someone like him,” Mayen groaned. When the order from young master Masi came, they had been resting. They had been told that Laien was at most a martial practitioner at the fourth Mortal Realm, so no one bothered to wear armor. They had their interspatial rings, but they weren’t large enough; there was nothing too useful in them at the moment. Who could blame them, however? They had thought that bringing swords to deal with a ten year old was an overkill, how could they have imagined their lives would be in danger?

     

    “Captain, what do we do?” one of the grey-black cloaked men asked. It wasn’t only Mayen who was in no hurry to attack. The three subordinates of his also knew their limits. They were roughly at Cyan’s level, but Cyan had been killed by Laien without being able to resist at all… and in a way vicious enough to make them shiver in fear. They’ve seen limbs being cut off, people being slashed by swords and pierced by arrows. However, all of that couldn’t compared to the sight of a person being killed by magic.

     

    “This brat has probably established his Spiritual Core long ago, he can even use his Guardian with this much power. He should be at the seventh, maybe even eighth rank. Captain, we should just retreat. Even if we are careful and kill him, who knows what kind of backing he has? It’s not normal to have reached a level like that at his age,” one of the three Mayen’s subordinates brought up nervously, watching Laien closely, readying to turn back and flee had the youth moved a step forward.

     

    Mayen only now, hearing those words, realized that there really might be some kind of an ultimate expert backing Laien from shadows. He clenched his teeth, then declared sternly. “Good Heavens, we need to kill him even more so. Imagine what is going to happen when he tells his master what happened today.”

     

    The three men swallowed. What their leader was saying was true. Who in the world could groom a ten year old spiritual practitioner approaching the peak of Mortal Realm? A person like that would need to be simply astonishing! Little did they know, that not to mention a spiritual practitioner of the eighth rank, a ten year old spiritual practitioner of the sixth rank was already something never before seen in the Starlight Continent!

     

    Laien took a deep breath, preparing to fight for his life. He didn’t act after killing the first man, hoping that the other four men would choose to retreat. However, they appeared to have reached a different conclusion. Thankfully, due to their hesitation, he had more than enough time not only to get used the new strength of his spiritual energy, but also to prepare a few small tricks for the incoming fight.

     

    “I go from the front, you support me from the sides, like always,” Mayan ordered calmly, gripping the hilt of his sword tightly. He circulated Qi through his body, strengthening it according to the Body Enhancing Art he had learned after becoming a guard at the Boular family. He was at the seventh mortal realm, while his three subordinates were all at sixth. If they worked together, they should be capable of killing one spiritual practitioner…! After all, magic users didn’t specialize in direct combat and would usually be at an disadvantage when facing a martial practitioners of the same realm in a close-quarters fight.

     

    “His Guardian should at most have the range of two, three meters. Keep that in mind, don’t panic,” Mayan said to his three companions, waiting for them to properly encircle Laien and take their positions. His face twitched when he saw Laien manipulate water and surround his left hand with it, holding a short sword in his right. “He isn’t nervous at all, what a kid,” Mayan couldn’t help but praise in his heart. He had seen many adults who would lose their cool in similar situations, but here a ten year old was waiting for them to make a move and looking for an opening he could use to turn the tables.

     

    When Laien was finally surrounded, Mayan charged forward at top speed, intent on killing him with one slash of his sword. The three of his subordinates also rushed at Laien, although each with a slightly different timing, as to make it impossible to easily avoid their attacks.

     

    Laien reacted without delay. He raised his hand and split the ball of water into four parts, sending net-like splashes at every of the four grey-black robed men.

     

    Mayan reacted in time, not willing to take the potentially dangerous water head on. Even if it shouldn’t have been able to wound his body, he wouldn’t take a gamble if he didn’t need to. After swiftly moving to the side, he wanted to continue rushing forward, however… he halted for a split second, hearing screams of agony coming from his three subordinates. He knew that he shouldn’t look away, but he still did and saw another frightening scene.

     

    Apparently, his subordinates were caught off-guard by an unnatural wide-range ‘attack’. When the splashes of water reached them, Laien wasn’t capable of controlling them anymore; they looked fairly harmless, so none of them made any effort to perform desperate maneuvers to dodge them. Yet, the moment the water touched their skin, the three of them realized how badly they have screwed up.

     

    The two who took the water head-on fainted on the spot, skin melting-off and from their whole bodies, turning into a black charcoal along with their clothes. The third of the men, who made the effort to not have his whole body hit by the water, fell to his knees, the same happening to his right hand and part of his torso. He was the one who kept yelling the longest, a large part of his body being devoured by the unknown substance.

     

    “Poison!” Mayan cursed silently. “But how did he?!” He couldn’t understand. He had being watching Laien the whole time, the youth shouldn’t have had any opportunity to take poison out and mix it into his water…! All he did was draw the short sword and cover his left hand in water…! “Cover his hand! Interspatial Ring!” It occurred to Mayan all of the sudden. If that ring on Laien’s hand was an interspatial ring, he could have taken out only the colorless poison and mixed it into the water he created without anyone noticing! Right now, Mayan wanted to skewer himself for underestimating his opponent’s shrewdness this badly. He never realized that magic could carry so many possibilities with it!

     

    Regardless of this brief hesitation, Mayan jumped at Laien, the wooden floor shattering under his feet. In the blink of an eye, he arrived next to the ten year old and slashed. If he managed to kill Laien right here and right now, then it wouldn’t matter what tricks he still had up his sleeve!

     

    As expected, Mayan saw a mass of water converge between his sword and Laien’s body. Yet, it was too late, his blade has already passed by the magic! “You’re dead!” Mayan called out wordlessly, but then, everything went dark for a second as he got blown away by a surge of water.

     

    Mayan smashed into one of the wooden walls, cracking it all over and nearly falling outside of the old storage house. He quickly opened his eyes, trying to regain focus in his gaze as fast as possible, fearful of consecutive attacks. He was somewhat dazed, but due to his innately strong body of a martial practitioner and the Body Enhancing Art he was using, he sustained no wounds. He had been putting his guard up for a few seconds, but when he regained his ability to see clearly, he saw something unexpected.

     

    “This brat, he failed to control his spell properly,” Mayan smiled bitterly, seeing Laien trying to rise from floor at the opposite wall, around forty meters away from him. “It was a good judgment, though. His body doesn’t seem to be capable of keeping up with my movements, it was his only choice,” he praised, keeping a tight watch on the interspatial ring on Laien’s left hand.

     

    “Don’t hold it against me, kid. You are way too dangerous to be left alone,” Mayan said resignedly and began walking towards Laien, who still seemed to be unable to stand up. The burst had been strong enough to dazzle him, a martial practitioners of the seventh rank, after all. Mayan wouldn’t be surprised if Laien had broken some of his bones and injured internal organs. From his current appearance, Laien seemed to be barely keeping himself conscious. In the end, all he did was prolonging his life for a while longer.

     

    “I don’t dislike your attitude though, kid,” Mayan spoke again, resolved to end Laien’s life. If left alone, the boy would grow into a monster capable of killing him with a wave of his hand. Letting him go…? From the moment he had shown his true strength, it stopped being an option.

     

    Close to fainting, Laien coughed heavily, spitting a mouthful of blood on the ground. He couldn’t hear what the man was saying, his ears filled with loud buzzing. He neither could see him well, he was but an indistinct human-blur to him. Recalling words of a spell he had read about in some random book, he mumbled them and forced himself to control the spiritual energy and transform it into magic.

     

    Despite Laien’s poor state, he still managed to produce three spikes of water, of which each one was slightly more powerful than the one he had used to kill the first grey-black robed man. Yet… he wasn’t delusional. They wouldn’t be enough to kill their leader or even wound him. Thus, he could only do one thing. “Come any closer and I will kill them,” Laien growled in a low voice, then coughed and threw up some more blood. He kept his head up, however, and eyed the last grey-black robed man dangerously.

     

    Mayan stopped, taking a look at his three subordinates, of which two were unconscious and one incapable of moving. If Laien released the spell now, the three would surely die. He wouldn’t have enough time to neither stop Laien nor protect any of them. “Do it if you want, they won’t survive your poison anyway,” Mayan said with a sigh. In the Boular family, useless people were to be disposed of. That rule included everyone, even well-trained guards. Not wasting any more time, he charged at Laien, ready to dodge the spikes, just in case.

     

    “Not buying it, eh?” Laien chuckled helplessly. He has never had a chance to practice after his strength has risen, so he wasted a lot of it on simple spells. These three pikes were created with the last bits of his spiritual energy. He was wounded, he no longer had any strength left, Mayan gave up on his subordinates. There was nothing else he could do. Thinking of his little sister, of his friends, he shut his eyes tight, unwilling to die in a place like this.

     

    “What a kid,” Mayan repeated in his thoughts, seeing how Laien released the magic and killed his three men off for good. Now, all four of his subordinates were dead. He welcomed that Laien closed his eyes, choosing not to resist any longer. “I will end you in one clean slash, it won’t hurt,” the thought passed through Mayan’s mind as he slashed horizontally, aiming at Laien’s neck.

     

    The next second, a head fell and rolled on the ground. It was over, everything was over. It was over indeed, but for whom?

     

    Laien groaned, having been smashed down to the floor by the blunt side of the sword hitting his head from the side. He couldn’t move or open his eyes, but he was quite confident that he wasn’t dead. He wondered what happened, but it wasn’t like it mattered anyone… he just wanted to sleep, he was too exhausted, both mentally and physically.

     

    “Can you hear me?” Laien frowned, hearing somebody speak to him. Couldn’t that person see that he needs to rest?

     

    “Oi, don’t you dare to die on me. I killed one of Masi’s personal guards for you. If you die, I will really turn out to be the biggest idiot around,” the youthful voice reached his ears again. Laien could swear that he recognized it, but refusing to believe it so simply, he forced his eyes open. After a while, he could more or less make out Cran’s face in the unclear image he was seeing.

     

    “I guess I should be thanking you, eh? But why did you come?” Laien asked in a weak voice, puzzled. Obviously he was grateful, but he wanted to know Cran’s reasons.

     

    “Aaah, since I threw everything away to save you, I might as well tell. But before that, will you be alright?” Cran asked awkwardly, looking at Laien who was lying flat down on the floor.

     

    Laien chuckled, then coughed up some blood and spit it out to the side. Caring attitude wasn’t something he expected of Cran, as he usually kept his distance from him. Even though they had sparred quite a few times, they never became friends and never truly talked with each other. Had it not been for today, Laien would have kept thinking that Cran doesn’t like him too much and is picking on him through those sparring sessions rather than anything else.

     

    “I will be fine. I am a spiritual practitioner of the water element, my body is already healing,” Laien responded, shrugging his shoulders. As his spiritual energy would recover, he could use it to heal himself. It would take some time to get rid of the cracked bones and internal injuries, but as long as he didn’t need to fight, he would be able to stand up and walk in five to ten minutes.

     

    Cran nodded with a smile, then sat on the floor next to Laien, looking at him… somehow, very differently compared to how he used to. Laien liked this gaze quite a bit.

     

    “Yeah, I should have guessed, judging from the way you killed the other four. Hmm, you used poison, too? They got done in by that? They must have underestimated you quite badly, eh? So, this should be an interspatial ring on your hand… Oh, those three seem to have been killed after they couldn’t move anymore, hmm. I will have you tell me how it went, I’m very interested!  To even think that you always held back in our duels, not using a slightest bit of magic!” as he listened to Cran’s ‘monologue’, Laien blinked numerous times. Was this really the same unsociable, not talkative Cran? He really could act so energetically and amiably when he wanted?

     

    “Mmm, for now recover a bit, I will tell my part first. Long story short, I really, really hate Masi and I don’t think I will ever like Jasi, either,” Cran said and smiled, shutting his mouth as if he was done with the explanation. However, faced with Laien’s meaningful, resigned gaze, he laughed and started speaking again. “I’m joking, I’m joking. Well, it went more or less like that. Masi came back after around 20 minutes, then started annoying me if I am sure I won’t regret not helping you and all this crap. He enjoyed making me mad… I must say, he is good at it, heh.”

     

    “At one point I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I tapped him in the face, lightly, just so that he fell from his chair… Then I trashed him around some more, not hurting him much… he knows how to receive kicks well,” Cran snickered at this part, recalling it with a very pleased expression on his face. After a second, he followed through

     

    “I blurted out that if he really did something to you, he will regret it. Then, this idiot actually told me what he ordered his men to do. He laughed, saying that by now, you are already crippled and beaten up. Hahaha, I can’t wait to see his face when he sees you alive and well, while his elite bodyguards are all dead! Four of them killed by you, too! Hahaha, when the news of it get out, his father is going to beat the crap out of him for losing face for their family! With scandal like that, Masi is finished. I will make sure of it,” Cran concluded, then rubbed his nose, a bit worried that he started blurting a little too many words at once. Yet, Laien smiled at him, not minding to have listened to the story.

     

    “Good thing I wasn’t too late, one more second and it would have been your head rolling,” Cran pointed out, helping Laien to sit down. Had he been too late, there would be no solid evidence to prove Masi’s actions. Since he had already wasted his two years of effort in befriending Jasi, he really preferred to get something done with it and not to be left star naked, with no gain whatsoever. Thus, he really was incredibly happy to have saved Laien in the nick of time.

     

    “Yeah… Thanks, really,” Laien said, somewhat ashamed of himself to have gotten Cran involved into all of this. No matter how he looked at it, Cran had just made his life more difficult for his sake. He pointed it out to Cran, but the fifteen year old responded casually. “You were only a ‘trigger’ to my decision. Don’t beat yourself over it, I had my own reasons. Mmm, but if you feel so indebted, then you can repay this favor one day in the future .”

     

    Laien laughed and shook his head, finally feeling a bit more comfortable with this conclusion. “I think I am okay now, we can go,” he said and stood up by himself, surprised to find out just how much his self-healing abilities have increased. He didn’t really know at which rank he was, though. Surely not lower than the sixth, as that was when Spiritual Core would form, but was he any higher? Or did the strength of his spiritual energy had something to do with this unique ‘Tranquil’ aspect of it? He would need to make sure later. For now, he was safe. That was all that mattered.

    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • Thank you for the chapter!! And he is at the 7th level??
  • Humu, as for your question, everything is written as intended, hehe. To make story more interesting :) Keep reading, then you will know for sure ^.^

    By the way, I realize i am not writing in currently popular style action-all-the-time, however i believe that my style will sooner or later win over those ~~. I, personally, am quite bored with many novels lately, simply because there is not enough plot, and only fighting with 'changing numbers and names of realms'. Sure, they are cool and needed in every story, but if there is too much of that... Sigh.

    Yeah, i am trying to convince myself! I would also like to be super popular with insta-action novel! Must endure! Must preserve! Arrrgh! :D I will make people realize that it's nice to read something like that, too! ~~
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • Caladbolg said:

    Humu, as for your question, everything is written as intended, hehe. To make story more interesting :) Keep reading, then you will know for sure ^.^

    By the way, I realize i am not writing in currently popular style action-all-the-time, however i believe that my style will sooner or later win over those ~~. I, personally, am quite bored with many novels lately, simply because there is not enough plot, and only fighting with 'changing numbers and names of realms'. Sure, they are cool and needed in every story, but if there is too much of that... Sigh.

    Yeah, i am trying to convince myself! I would also like to be super popular with insta-action novel! Must endure! Must preserve! Arrrgh! :D I will make people realize that it's nice to read something like that, too! ~~


    In my opinion, some of the better stories are ones that build up over time instead of constant climax. It's fun to read stories where it's fighting all the time sometimes, but it can get kind of stale after a while.



  • In my opinion, some of the better stories are ones that build up over time instead of constant climax. It's fun to read stories where it's fighting all the time sometimes, but it can get kind of stale after a while.

    Yeah. It only truly feels good reading about epicness when you are deeply connected to characters in novel.
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • I really like your story and I think a story with a lot of plot is better than always action as well :)
    That first chapter was really extremly long XD

    But I've got to tell you that you often forget to write a simple "a" or "the" or sometimes "it"

  • edited July 2016

    Book 1. Knowing Oneself. Chapter 4. Nightmares.

     

    “I must ask, how strong are you as a spiritual practitioner?” Cran inquired as they were getting ready to leave the old storage house.

     

    “I am not sure, to be honest. I’ve never had a teacher and my training is really… inconsistent. I can only take a guess without much accuracy. I should be at the very least at the sixth mortal realm,” Laien answered truthfully, though he might have sounded a bit ridiculous. To not know at which rank you are yourself? That would take a new level of idiocy.

     

    “Hmm, then, when did you liquefy your spiritual energy and establish your Spiritual Core? It usually happens somewhere between fifth and seventh Realms, right?” Cran asked, intending to judge Laien’s level from the basic time frames. It hadn’t occurred to him, however, that Laien would have been able to do that by himself well enough.

     

    “Yeah, between fifth and sixth, to be exact. The same as when martial practitioners learn their Qi Manipulating Art and the other Primary Arts… Um, well. It kinda happened today?” Laien said with an awkward laugh. He wasn’t sure if he could tell Cran everything, at the very least not yet. Thus, he preferred to keep his unusual experience a secret for the time being.

     

    Cran seemed to have finally noticed that Laien was purposely beating around the bush and nodded with understanding, deciding not to dig any deeper into Laien’s private matters. “Anyway, good for you. You are really strong and you have high potential, too,” Cran praised, not realizing quite well enough how monstrous Laien’s current strength would be seen as in the north, where magic was what martial arts were to the Sarkcente Kingdom.

     

    Yet, Cran knew at the very least that unless a spiritual practitioner had good enough talent, he could be forever stuck at the borders between fifth and se-… sixth, Mortal Realms. Just as martial practitioners would be forever stuck at the fifth mortal realm if they weren’t talented enough to learn a Qi Manipulating Art or weren’t in a possession of one, spiritual practitioners who couldn’t purify their spiritual energy to a high enough degree would never break through to the higher ranks. If one’s talent wasn’t good enough, then no matter how many years he spent accumulating Qi or Spiritual Energy, he would never advance past the fifth Mortal Realm!

     

    For example, the five guards who had been killed by Laien and Cran. They were ‘only’ at the sixth and seventh Mortal Realms, but for a middle-ranked noble family, they could be considered to be fairly elite guards. It needed to be understood, that martial masters, those who reached the Realm of Heroes, were the true elite of the warriors! The whole Sarkcente Kingdom with its fifty million citizens produced but a few thousand martial masters, while virtually one hundred percent of the population had a degree of capacity as martial practitioners! In the country where martial arts were revered, less than one person in ten thousand would become a martial master! Not even mentioning that very few martial masters would then be capable of advancing past the first Realm of Heroes; the vast majority would reach the limit of their potential and be stuck at the early Realms of Heroes until the day they die.

     

    “I hope I do have a talent, it would make many things easier,” Laien responded with a laugh and a slight sigh. His abilities as a spiritual practitioner were much stronger to begin with. Now that he got even stronger, he began regretting living in the south, where magic wasn’t respected. To truly utilize his abilities, he would need to travel north and study magic there… Would it be possible, though?

     

    Cran sighed, pondering something. Then, having made his decision, he looked Laien in the eye and asked seriously. “I decided that I will be going to the Royal Capital. I can take you with me, to the Tir’Sare academy. They teach both martial arts and the basics of magic. How about it? Leave this crappy place, I will help you discuss it with Lord Garon. He will be happy to have you out of his way, or at the very least, Jasi will, heh. Taking your sister with us won’t be a problem, either,” he offered on the spur of the moment, intending to lend Laien a hand and fix his problems for him.

     

    Laien was greatly surprised by this proposal. He tried to think about it, but honestly, he was too tired to be making an important decision right now. “Uum… can we leave my answer for later…? When, you know, we there won’t be five corpses lying around and I will be a little bit better rested?” he said while scratching his head, then smiled meaningfully.

     

    Cran looked as if he had only now remembered where they were and what has happened during the last hour. He looked around at the bodies of the five men, then looked at Laien whose body was covered in blood. He smiled resignedly and shook his head, covering his face with a palm of his hand.

     

    “You are right, sorry. Somehow, I forgot. It’s just that… you really should think about it. If you stay here, then the Boular family will make it hard for you. Jasi might leave you alone, but Masi… Even if he’s to be stripped from all of the power in his family, he will only hate you more and sooner or later, will seek revenge. I won’t be able to protect you then,” Cran apologized and warned, stating pretty much what Laien could have guessed on his own. Obviously, since the two of them haven’t talked with each other much, Cran was unaware how bright of a youth Laien actually was and treated him like any other ten year old disciple from the Red Dragon School.

     

    Laien nodded, completely agreeing with those words of Cran’s. He found it hard to believe that Masi would give up after failing this one time. It wouldn’t be too bad to leave Neil City and go to the Royal Capital, but… he didn’t want to leave all his friends. Not yet. If only there existed a way for him to live peacefully in this place for a few more years…

     

    As he wounded, Laien suddenly realized that there really was a way. “I have an idea, but we need to hurry up, before anyone finds out what happened today,” he said with a cheeky smile and glanced at Cran.

     

    “Tell me what the plan is, then we will see,” Cran said and smiled back, sensing something quite amusing from the look in Laien’s eyes.

     

    ---

     

    At the moment, Masi was feeling  really happy with himself despite being trashed around by Cran just a few moments ago. “I finally made this retard snap, now I don’t have to worry about him anymore. I wonder if Mayan will bring him here? Knowing Cran, he probably attacked my guards after arriving there, haha. It’s going to be hilarious.” Masi beamed with a good mood, to the point of unintentionally annoying Jasi, who wasn’t quite as content about losing Cran’s support.

     

    Cran might not have had a high degree of influence in the Red Dragon School yet, but in the future...? He would almost certainly prove to be worth much more than someone like Masi. Now that the childish anger against Laien stopped clouding his eyes, Jasi could see that very well.

     

    “Jasi, you should just forget about an impulsive idiot like Cran. Involving yourself with him was going to bring you more trouble than his worth. He’s bound to make many enemies in the future given how recklessly he behaves. We wouldn’t need to wait long for him to want to save every misfortunate person he can see. He doesn’t realize how the real world works.” Although was Masi was saying was fairly biased, his words held some truth to them. Cran rarely made choices based on logic and cold calculations and more often than not followed his feelings. Somebody like that wasn’t suited neither to the world of politics, nor to the career of a general.

     

    In this world, only the strong had the right to rule others! Only the strong had the right to decide for themselves! If an ultimate expert at peak of the Realm of Heroes decided to be merciful and went around helping people, he would be called a Saint. However, if someone with insufficient power did the same, he would be called delusional and would be thought to be courting an early death. From this perspective, Cran was truly too soft-hearted.

     

    “I know. It’s just that I don’t like your way of doing things either. As much as I agree it’s important to show people who is their superior, I really think you overdid it both this time and yesterday,” Jasi said with a conflicted expression on his face. The day before, he had agree to Masi’s suggestion of having Laien beat up once and for good. He thought that Laien deserved to be bullied for what he did to him, but now… it all started to look like one big joke. Attacking him once should have been more than enough, but before he noticed, everything progressed further than he would have wanted.

     

    Truth to be told, it all went out of hand. Even when Laien had been forced to prostrate himself before them, he didn’t feel good or satisfied because of that. Rather, it was as if something heavy got stuck in his throat; it was an unpleasant feeling. However, he wanted to appear ‘cool and strong’, he wanted to be respected among his older peers and seen as a strong future Clan Leader! As a result, he failed to stop everything when he still could have. It all escalated before he understood what was going on…! When he heard Masi telling Cran what he had told his guards to do with Laien, he wished he could turn the time back to never have allowed Masi to do as he pleased. Regrettably, it was too late to change anything.

     

    “You are just too young, Jasi. You come from one of the most powerful families in the Sarkcente Kingdom! You Valius family leads hundreds other nobles families as the leaders of the Valius clan! People bow to you because they fear the power of your family; even Lord Tei’Ru used to be cruel when needed. You can’t show weakness to anyone! If an old boar becomes weak, a herd of wolves will jump it and rip it apart without remorse,” Masi  spoke confidently, seeming to strongly believe his own words. From that one could tell he has had his own fair share of experiences which reaffirmed the way he viewed the world.

     

    “Maybe you are right…” Jasi responded unenergetically, not listening too closely to what Masi was saying. He took another sip of wine from his glass, thinking about going to bed early today.

     

    Masi frowned, trying to come up with something to cheer Jasi up. After all, he needed Jasi’s support for his Boular family to flourish in the future.

     

    Yet, the next second, both Masi and Jasi jumped up in their chairs.

     

    The faraway entrance to Jasi’s chambers got smashed open with a loud *thud*. Judging from the sound, the door had slammed against the wall hard enough to break down and fall off from its frame. After a short few seconds, the enraged Lord Garon entered the room with his two private guards following right behind him. Right afterwards, Laien and Cran also walked inside.

     

    Masi started at Laien with his mouth and eyes wide open. He was so stupefied by Laien’s appearance that when the ten year old smiled at him smugly, his expression instantly turned ugly and he felt like swearing to the Heavens.

     

    “Maybe you two will explain this to me?” Garon waved his hand and out of nowhere, five gruesome corpses appeared on the floor. One of the bodies had been exploded from within, one lacked head. Another two were thoroughly scorched black, while the last one had his body burned partially; all three had large holes in their chests.

     

    When the stench of intestines reached Jasi, paired up with the horrifying sight, it caused him to go below his bottom line. The ten year old bent forward on his chair and vomited onto the floor, shaking uncontrollably. He might have been the same age as Laien, he might have been a young master of the Valius family, but he truly couldn’t compared to him. Not at this point in time, at least.

     

    Masi, on the other hand, has turned as white as paper. The elite guards of his family that he had borrowed for himself during his father’s absence were all dead! While the kid who they were supposed to teach a lesson was standing in front of him, laughing!

     

    “Cran! How could you have killed my men like that?! What reasons did you have?!” Masi shouted, losing every bit of composure.

     

    “Shut it!” Garon growled, eyeing Masi with an ice-cold gaze. “You’d better start talking, unless you want to part with your head right now. What’s your version?” he asked angrily, pointing at the five dead bodies with a slight gesture of his hand.

     

    Masi took a deep breath, then answered a bit more calmly. “All we wanted to do was to set an example. This kid wouldn’t obey otherwise. If brats like him are allowed to look down on people better than them, then no one will respect noble families,” Masi exclaimed,  pretty sure that this line of reasoning will make Lord Garon understand.

     

    “’We’ wanted? Jasi, you knew what was going on and did nothing to stop him?” Garon gazed at his son and shook his head. He loved Jasi, but he never imagined that his son would fall so low as to torture and openly attacks members of his own family.

     

    “Had it been a commoner… Had any of you had any grudges with him… I could have overlooked it. However, attempting to torture, cripple, maybe even kill one of our Valius family for no reason but shallow, unjustified hatred! Be grateful that these two didn’t call for the guards and instead came to me. You would both be in a shit so deep you can’t even imagine had they done otherwise. Don’t you know how important face is to every noble family…? You were about to trash ours, eh. You, kid of the Boular’s. Get out of my mansion, your father will punish you when he returns,” Garon suppressed a deep sigh, thoroughly disappointed with his son and the friends he was surrounding himself with.

     

    “Perhaps father was right and I doted on him too much… Father had always been rough with Jasi, but he is no longer with us. The only thing that restrained Jasi is gone,” Garon clicked his tongue and after Masi was gone, he spoke up again.

     

    “As for you, Jasi… you will be going to your uncle Shir’ar, to the front lines of the Anarchic Lands. When you become sixteen, you will be allowed to return. At that time, I will decide whether you are worthy of becoming my heir, or if I should I rather support one of your older brothers instead,” he said rather sternly, not pleased with this outcome at all. However, if Jasi were to ever learn to behave, it needed to be done now, when he was still young. Overlooking his mistakes would lead to him getting spoiled rotten and in the future, would be disadvantageous to the Valius family as a whole.

     

    Jasi swallowed nervously. Learning that he would be going to uncle Shir’ar has been quite a shock to him. In the Valius family, General Shir’ar was famous for handling problem kids. His training regime was legendary, often used by mothers to scare their children. ‘You’d better behave, or we will send you to Uncle Shir’ar’, they’d often say to their rowdy youths.

     

    “Clan Leader, I have a request,” Laien said unexpectedly and bowed respectfully. Garon waved his hand, allowing Laien to speak.

     

    “From what I’ve seen and heard, this matter was mostly Masi’s responsibility. I do not wish to see my cousin be punished just because he had no one to tell him what is wrong and what is right. I’d like to ask Clan Leader to consider a lighter punishment,” Laien asked amiably, then unable to ignore Jasi’s surprised look, exchanged a glance with him and shrugged his shoulder lightly. He wasn’t doing it for Jasi, he was doing it for himself.

     

    Garon raised his eyebrows, not having expected Laien to go out of his way to help Jasi. He pondered for a second; he could be sure that Laien was hiding something, as just a glance at corpses was enough for him to know for sure that four had been killed by magic and poison likely applied through it and not by a sword. The one who killed these four shouldn’t have been Cran, but Laien. However, for a ten year old to kill six martial practitioners of the sixth rank… how unprecedented was that?

     

    “Very well, I shall consider it. It was you who had been in danger, so your words have some weight,” Garon replied to Laien, then turned to look at his son. “I refuse to believe that punishing you in other ways will be effective. You must think about your actions yourself. If you change, it’s up to you. If you don’t… It’s also your choice, my son. Your punishment will be thus, to repay your debt to these two,” Garon declared coldly and pointed with his hand at Laien and Cran.

     

    “What you will do, how you will do it, It’s all up to you,” having had enough of this matter, Garon gestured at his guards. One of the two came forward, storing the corpses in his interspatial ring. “Laien, come to talk with me tomorrow evening,” Garon ordered calmly, giving Laien an expectant look. After receiving a confirmation in from of a light bow from Laien, he turned around and left the room with his two guards, saying nothing to his son.

     

    “Let’s get going too, Laien. No point staying here,” Cran said with a smile and patted Laien on his back. He needed to admit, that plan was really good and it worked out well, too! To get Garon himself directly involved and solve everything through him, it not only would make Masi unable to act up in the future, Jasi’s temper would also be held in a check! It was a much, much better option than creating a huge affair from the whole event like he planned originally.

     

    “Wait!” Jasi called out as Laien and Cran were about to leave. The two of them turned around, wondering what Jasi has to say.

     

    “I apologize. Thank you,” Jasi lowered his head and said really awkwardly. He truly regretted his actions and he really was grateful to Laien for having saved him from uncle Shir’ar.

     

    “Don’t mind it. Just make sure not to make life hard for me and my sister, also for my friends. It’s all I am asking for,” Laien replied casually and chuckled quietly, seeing Jasi’s  surprised expression. “See you later, maybe,” he added humorously, then left with Cran.

     

    Jasi sat there for a long time, flabbergasted. He wondered if really everything that Laien wanted from him was… something simple like that? Would doing only this much even satisfy his father, Garon? Making up an attempted murder with… leaving him alone? Jasi groaned, realizing how little he understood about Laien’s character.

     

    ---

     

    “Huu, you probably need to go wash yourself, eh? Want me to go with you? You must be dead tired,” Laien chuckled at Cran’s suggestion, then focusing on his spiritual energy. On his skin, throughout the whole body, a thin membrane of water formed. It then peeled with all the dirt and blood, leaving but a few light stains on his clothes. “I’ve always wanted to try doing this and I finally can,” Laien said with a laugh, reaping another benefit of having gotten stronger.

     

    Cran whistled, only to start laughing when Laien threw the small ball of dirty water into one of the big vases with flowers. “Sure is convenient, being a spiritual practitioner, eh?” even though he said that, Cran seemed to be slightly disappointed for some reason.

     

    “You said you will be leaving to the Royal Capital, when will you leave?” Laien asked, not noticing any of Cran’s strange behavior.

     

    “I need to take care of a few matters before I leave, so considering when their next semester starts… In a month or so,” Cran answered with a light sigh. He liked it in Neil City, but if he wanted to ever achieve his life goal, he needed to leave the Red Dragon School and get established in the Royal Capital, get to know the Royal Family and use their influence to become a general.

     

    “Then, want to spar some more until then? It would be great if you taught me something, instead of bullying me one-sidedly like you always did,” Laien mentioned with a laugh, unknowingly improving Cran’s mood by quite a bit.

     

    “Sure, I will. I wouldn’t be able to bully you around anyway. Not with how strong you’ve become, you sneaky brat,” Cran said with a broad smile and tousled Laien’s hair.

     

    Laien laughed again, still unsure if this day wasn’t perhaps but a dream. In the morning, his world had started crumbling. Yet by the late evening of the same day, his problems were all solved and he has even made a new friend, not to mention having advanced his strength as a spiritual practitioner.

     

    “Rest tomorrow and come to me the day after, okay? This time to the Red Dragon School itself,” Cran suggested with a smile. Until now, he had been keeping his sparring sessions with Laien a secret, but there was no reason to be doing that anymore. Also, he had something else in mind for Laien, but he wouldn’t spoil the surprise quite yet.

     

    “Okay, see you,” Laien said the goodbyes and parted with Cran, soon to arrive by his room. He entered quietly, trying not to wake Siana up. He carefully changed his clothes and laid down on the bed, then closed his eyes; it was all it took for him to instantly fall asleep.

     

    Laien might have not understood it completely, but today he did much more than just form a spiritual core. He had also established another foundation, although an incomplete one.

     

    Normally, a Spiritual Core would still be placed in the practitioner’s body, it would remain in his upper chest. However, in Laien’s case, it wasn’t there. The other insight he had gained, paired up with circumstances Laien couldn’t comprehend just yet caused something unnatural to happen. Laien’s Spiritual Core had actually fused with soul, going way beyond a level any ten year old should have ever been capable of achieving.

     

    Had it been just that, it would be a case to rejoice over. However, there was something else that got triggered by Laien’s advancement. Precisely, the dreams, the nightmares he had been experiencing until now progressed to another level, one which wasn’t meant for a kid like Laien to go through. There were only two options. To successfully advance to the new heights, or to fail and die.

     

    The very next moment after falling asleep, Laien woke up, or so he thought. He quickly realized that his body didn’t belong him, even though he could feel it moving. He could even clearly sense an incredible power coursing through it, one which far exceeded his wildest imaginations.

     

    In ‘his’ hand was a glaive, by ‘his’ side stood a young woman. Before ‘him’ a thirteen, maybe fourteen years old boy laid unconscious on a stone pedestal, surrounded by an enormous and powerful magical formation. Seeing the unconscious youth, ‘he’ felt a rage boil in his blood. The flaming, uncontrollable emotions filled ‘him’ and at the same time, were transferred to Laien’s soul, making Laien wish he could cry out in pain. ‘His’ fury was so real, so hot and scorching that it was on the verge of dissipating Laien’s soul through the overflow of the sensations alone.

     

    However, all of the sudden, everything that burned, turned ice-cold. The flames surging around ‘him’ transformed into deathly cold streaks of air. Along with this change, a surge of sad, complicated and painful emotions surged and ‘his’ heart and then, hit Laien really hard. There was something ‘Tranquil’ in the mix, but Laien was in no mind to pay any attention to it. He wanted to shout, to yell in despair, overwhelmed by the endless flow of sensations.

     

    ‘He’ cried out in fury, ‘his’ spirit broken by the hatred of betrayal. ‘He’ yelled and his yell seemed to freeze the very Heavens. ‘His’ rage was cold, uncaring, desperate. The next second, all the raging sea of emotions was forcefully put in a cage; thus heat turned into cold and all movement became stillness.

     

    ‘He’ walked forward, ‘his’ tears turning into ice. A great power gathered in ‘his’ palm as he reached out to the magical formation. As he experienced this might, Laien’s consciousness trembled, threatening to shatter at any moment. Yet, due to a strange, calming foundation existing somewhere within him, he could just barely hang on, the chaos he was going through counterbalanced by the… Tranquility.

     

    Suddenly, Laien recognized that he was in the middle of one of his nightmares. To have realized it while still sleeping, it was the first time for him. Under extreme mental strain, he did the first thing that came to his mind. He tried to wake up, but soon enough, he found out that he couldn’t. There was no escape from this nightmare, not until it ended, or until… he comprehended what it wanted to show him!

     

    Laien understood this fact instinctively, there was no other way for him to survive this hellish dream! Either do that, or perish!

    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2015
    Wytchlord said:

    I really like your story and I think a story with a lot of plot is better than always action as well :)
    That first chapter was really extremly long XD

    But I've got to tell you that you often forget to write a simple "a" or "the" or sometimes "it"

    Yeah i am not a native speaker, so my english is not top notch. I try to proofread everything, but... Sigh. Hopefuly i will improve. If readers will point out mistakes, i will correct them happily, hehe. As for those that might have escaped proofreading, or are there because of my lack of knowledgle... I will try to do a general check after i finish Book one. Dayum.

    Thanks for commenting ~~

    PS: To be honest, i was never really taught when i must use 'a' 'the' and those thingys, so i do it per feeling. Well, it results in mistakes -.- Gonna need to learn that, uuuh.
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • Caladbolg said:

    Wytchlord said:

    I really like your story and I think a story with a lot of plot is better than always action as well :)
    That first chapter was really extremly long XD

    But I've got to tell you that you often forget to write a simple "a" or "the" or sometimes "it"

    Yeah i am not a native speaker, so my english is not top notch. I try to proofread everything, but... Sigh. Hopefuly i will improve. If readers will point out mistakes, i will correct them happily, hehe. As for those that might have escaped proofreading, or are there because of my lack of knowledgle... I will try to do a general check after i finish Book one. Dayum.

    Thanks for commenting ~~

    PS: To be honest, i was never really taught when i must use 'a' 'the' and those thingys, so i do it per feeling. Well, it results in mistakes -.- Gonna need to learn that, uuuh.
    I'm not a native speaker myself ^^
    But if you want some help with proofreading then I can help you ^^
    Do you have/use skype?

    And nice new chapter :D
    I really like the dream idea
  • edited July 2015
    Wytchlord, i have skype, also i can download other communicators if needed. However, rather than a proofreader, i'd like to learn to correct my mistakes to not make them myslef in future ^.^ If you are willing to use some time to explain few things to me, then write a private message here in forums :) We can exchange needed contacts, then.
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
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