The Lightning Emperor

Chapter One - Beginning

A dark stormy night, the cries of a newborn can be heard within a pitch black castle nestled at the back of a large valley. An ancient looking man is walking towards those cries, a look of anticipation in his old, sunken eyes.

“My lord, do you think this child will be the one?” A noble dressed man accompanying him asks.

This man is Mord Black, the leader of the Thunderblack clan, which has been in existence for thousands of years. The Thunderblack clan has been a reigning power of the Western human province in the human realm since its founding thousands of years ago.

The reason? Power.

Every member of this clan has the ability to control lightning using spiritual pressure, from birth. This ability is a high level form of heat magic, which only the Thunderblack clan is talented in. So naturally they enjoy exalted status in the human realm.

Even babies can release static electricity, although only when agitated.

As members of the clan grow, they are taught to cultivate spiritual pressure, thus increasing their power and status within the clan. This spiritual pressure is something which is hereditary and an infant’s soul will be evaluated immediately, in hope of discovering a once-in-a-generation type talent.

Mord turns to face the noble, “My son is an above average talent, and even his wife can be considered talented in her own right. I have great hope for this grandchild of mine, but I doubt he is the one.”

“But my lord, even just yesterday you looked so positive, a child of our clan hasn’t been born to such talents in hundreds of years!” the noble argues. “We’ll know when we get there Petree, let’s go, we’re almost there.”

The two men walk down a lantern lit hallway towards a pair of large oak doors. Guarding the doors are two ironclad men at least two meters tall holding dark, vicious looking spears. When the guards see the men, they immediately part and open the doors, letting the cries of the infant grow in volume.

Mord enters the room to see a small group of maids surrounding a large bed with a handsome looking young man holding a newborn baby among them.

“Han!” Mord beams at the young man, “How is Celes?”

Lying on the bed is a breathtaking beauty covered in sweat.

“I’m fine father.” she responds on her own, forcing an exhausted smile.

“Father, this is Kiso, your newest grandson.” Han smiles and holds out the newborn for his father to hold. Mord takes Kiso into his arms and looks down at the newborn.

A light flashes in Mord’s eyes as he appears to search into the soul of the crying newborn in his arms. “Petree, give me that thing.” Mord holds out his free hand without looking away from Kiso. Petree takes out a small metallic vial and hands it over.

Mord opens the vial revealing a glowing liquid. He rests the vial on Kiso’s forehead and observes the liquid inside.

After watching the liquid for several tens of seconds, Mord lets out a sigh and turns to Han. “Han, Kiso is a normal child, congratulations.”

There is a hint of disappointment in Mord’s eyes as he thinks to himself. “Not the one huh.. I really had high hopes for Han’s first-born son, but I suppose it’s not so strange, that liquid hasn’t changed color for hundreds of years now.”

Mord closes the bottle and looks back at Han, “Kiso didn’t manage to change the liquid to black, but he might still be an asset to our clan, raise him well.”

“Yes father!” Han wasn’t expecting much, but he is still disappointed as he also had high hopes for his son.

Little did they know that the liquid only changes color several minutes after coming into contact with a newborn child.

– – – – –

10 years later.

A youth is sitting cross-legged on the ground surrounded by a luscious garden in a grand courtyard. His eyes are closed and his brows are furrowed, as he appears to be deep in thought.

“I can’t seem to do it!” The youth is none other than the now 10-year-old Kiso. He’s been practicing according to his clan’s scroll for raising spiritual pressure for over 3 hours now.

“Father gave me this scroll and told me to begin training my spiritual pressure, but this scroll makes no sense.” Kiso looks down at the scroll laying in front of him.

There is a drawing of a man sitting cross-legged with arrows running from the middle of his body to the rest of his body. A text is written next to the drawing:

In order to cultivate spiritual pressure, one must enter a state of zen. Empty the mind completely and feel the flow of blood throughout the body. Feel the body’s cells and the energy they contain. Feel the world around, its air, the ground, everything has a purpose. To raise spiritual pressure, allow the surrounding energy to enter the body, that is the first step.

Next, harness the energy, pulling it through the skin into the veins. Push it to the core of the body, allowing it to gather and condense. Only then can nature’s energy supplement the soul and increase spiritual pressure.

“It sounds simple enough, but I just can’t feel the energy around me!” Kiso is frustrated, but he was raised to be hard-working.

His father made him train his body since the day he turned 5 years old. He would run around the perimeter of the castle in the morning to train endurance, lift heavy stones after breakfast to increase the quality of his muscles, before finally training in basic swordsmanship in the evening. This everyday training has resulted in an extremely sturdy body, especially for a 10-year-old.

At this time, seemingly knowing his son would be against a brick wall, Han walked up to Kiso from behind, grinning from ear to ear.

“Kiso, you shouldn’t expect to be able to harness nature’s energy so easily!” Kiso’s father offered a few words of condolence.

“I know father, however I really don’t want to disappoint you and mother in the upcoming annual Youth Trials…” A frown appeared on Kiso’s face.

Every year in the Thunderblack clan, the 10-year-old children would participate in the Youth Trials, which would determine how deep their affinity for the family ability is. Although Kiso and the other 10-year-old children were currently capable of releasing small electric shocks, their power would only grow through cultivation.

It is said that even a talented individual would only be able to release a bolt of true lightning after at least 5 years of cultivation, with even the most legendary talent in the history of the clan needing 2 years to reach said level.

“You know Kiso, father has a little advice for cultivating spiritual pressure.” Han smiles at his son, “Sometimes, especially with our clan’s heat magic, a complete state of zen may slow you down.”

Han continues, “Lightning is a very chaotic form of heat magic, and the faster the energy flows, the more powerful the outburst will be. So now tell me, will you listen to you to the scroll or your father?” Han’s already smiling face showed a hint of craftiness behind it.

Kiso ponders to himself for a moment, something seems to click and his response is simple, “I understand father, thank you for the advice.”

Indeed, as Kiso had been cultivating in his former state of zen, as mentioned in the scroll for cultivation, the energy flow seemed off, like it didn’t meld with his core. He had been completely unable to retain the energy.

Regaining confidence and motivation comes easy for Kiso, and he began to contemplate how to increase the speed in which the spiritual energy flows through his body.

After Han walks away, Kiso once more enters a meditative state while sitting on the ground of the courtyard. This time, after the nature energy starts to flow through his skin into his veins, he attempts to rush the energy to his core.

“Success?” Kiso mumbles to himself.

Indeed, the energy seemed to be pouring very quickly into his core, and with that increase, he also began to absorb spiritual energy from nature and even retain it in his core!

Han, still lingering around the corner, sensed the change in his son’s spiritual pressure, and peaked back around the corner.

“This is..?” Han couldn’t help but start, as Kiso’s hair was standing completely straight and small sparks could be seen flowing along his body before disappearing into the ground.

Han knew what the state represented, as he has seen it countless times before. “This level of meditation should be… The spark state?.. But he should only be able to achieve that state after several months of pondering…”

Han began to grow excited, as he ran off to find Celes and tell her the good news.

Although Kiso didn’t know what the state represented or that he was even in said state to begin with, he knew that currently, his spiritual pressure was growing. His core was beginning to feel full and even his body seemed to grow stronger.

He felt that this time, he had grasped the spiritual raising technique and made up his mind to devote all of his free time towards his cultivation.

When his core was full, he opened his eyes to discover it was already dusk.

“Late!” Kiso sprang to his feet and rushed towards his family’s section of the palace.

As he rushed into the dining area, his mother and father were already seated around the dinner table. Kiso was nervous as his mother had always preached the need to arrive to dinner on time.

However, this time, not only did his mother not scold him, she was wearing a bright smile on her face as her eyes showed glee with a hint of nervousness.

“Sit down Kiso.” Celes pointed at the empty spot across from herself.

“Yes mother.” Kiso replied, still unsure if he was going to be scolded or not.

“Your father informed me that you have already grasped the method of spiritual cultivation, do you know what that means?” Celes beamed at Kiso.

Puzzled, Kiso glanced at his father. “He shouldn’t have known that I already grasped the technique as I didn’t do so until he left..” Kiso thought to himself.

As if guessing what he was thinking, Han spoke, “Kiso, I lingered around a bit before returning, and I could sense that your spiritual pressure was increasing rather quickly. When I glanced back at you, you had already entered into the spark state of meditation, meaning you truly have grasped spiritual cultivation, and in one day no less!”

Celes continued, “Never in the history of the clan, has anyone been able to enter the spark state in one day. Even the legendary talents of the clan took several months to grasp the method.”

Kiso just sat there listening, slack-jawed. He hadn’t thought his day of meditation would be such a big deal.

This time, Celes turned and spoke to Han, “Do you still intend to let him participate in the Youth Trials? You know what will happen if your father discovers his cultivation, especially if he is to continue at this speed for the next 6 months before the trials…”

Han didn’t even ponder for a second before spitting back, “Of course not! I will try every method to dissuade Kiso’s participation, I do not wish for him to be stuck in this valley for the rest of his life!”

To be continued…
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Comments

  • By the way guys, this is my own original story, obviously.

    I've already written 26 chapters and have been posting on RoyalroadL, but I've always been reading the works on this site.

    So, I'd like to continue my work here!

    Also as a side note. I haven't done any proofreading really in my series yet, but it should be readable.. :P

    (Plan to proofread it all VERY soon)
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Two – Six Months of Cultivation
     
    Kiso, upon hearing his parent’s words, couldn’t help but wonder what they were talking about.
     
    Hearing Han’s words, Celes smiled and turned back to Kiso, “If your grandfather learns just how talented you are, he will want to nurture you personally, in order to become the next clan leader!”
     
    Kiso raised an eyebrow and replied, “But wouldn’t that be a good thing? Does mother not wish for her son to bring glory to our family?”
     
    Celes’ heart warmed up but she shook her head, “Kiso, the world is a big place! Our small valley cannot possibly offer the best cultivation environment for you. It is mother and father’s greatest wish for you to go out and make your name one that will survive the ages!”
     
    Han added, “Kiso, you have learned a lot about training, but little about the world. Let me put things into perspective for you. Our clan’s valley, which stretches for hundreds of miles, is but a drop of water in the lake that is the world! Not only that, but there are also countless different types magic and physical techniques. Our lightning magic may be an innate ability that’s fairly powerful, but there is a reason we don’t rule the continent. Simply put, our clan cannot hold a candle to the power of the great families that rule the various realms.”
     
    Celes listened and nodded her head adding, “My family, the Winyon family, is a mid-grade clan, while the Thunderblack clan is a low-grade clan. We are known for our skyshadow magic, which is an extremely powerful type of speed magic. You should have an affinity for this magic from my side as well. Your offensive type heat magic from your dad’s side and the speed type magic from mine should be a combination that will separate you from your peers, at the very least!”
     
    As Kiso listened to his parent’s words, he could hear his heartbeat ringing in his ears. He thought to himself, “With such talented parents, I cannot bear to let them down.”
     
    Han and Celes finally calmed down a little before Han asked, “Kiso, do you wish to go on an adventure with father? I know many profound spiritual locations in nature that would be greatly beneficial to your cultivation.”
     
    Kiso knew his parents didn’t wish for him to participate in the Youth Trials, but he had already made a bet with his neighbor Yuni. His bet with her two years ago was that, at the trials, not only would he beat her, he’d take first place. If he lost the bet, he’d have to marry her, even if it was against his will.
     
    Yuni is a stubborn girl with a harsh personality, none of the children in his generation like her. When she set the terms of the bet, he had been considerably shocked at her request. Thinking at the time, “Why would someone with no interest in other people want to marry me?”
     
    Little did he know that her harsh personality and cold outer appearance were just a protective shell, covering for her true feelings. Much less that she had secretly loved him since she met him two years earlier.
     
    Remembering this bet, Kiso looked at his father and said, “Father, I know you and mother do not wish for me to participate in the Youth Trials, but I have a bet with Yuni I must not lose. You must allow me to participate in the trials! Even at the risk of grandfather’s smothering, I cannot afford to abandon this bet. Not only must I participate, I have to win!”
     
    Kiso’s face showed resolution beyond his years.
     
    If those words had come from his mouth even just two days ago, his parents wouldn’t have had much hope for his success. However, now they believed not only was it possible, they were confident!
     
    The only problem would be finding a way to convince Mord that Kiso’s borders must not end at the edges of Thunderblack valley.
     
    “Very well Kiso, your mother and I will speak with your grandfather. We will try to come to an agreement with him prior to the trials, so you just focus on your cultivation.” Han finished speaking and the three of them proceeded to begin eating dinner.
     
    – – – – –
     
    The next day, back in the courtyard where Kiso always did his training, he was seated in the meditative position gathering nature energy.
     
    “Cultivating nature energy into spiritual pressure makes my entire body feel like it is both ice cold and on fire…”
     
    Kiso’s eyes were closed as he was forcing the energy around him into his core. Yesterday it had taken him only a few hours to fill his core. Today however, it’s already been twice as long as yesterday and he still had no signs of starting to feel full.
     
    “I’m starting to wonder just how beneficial this cultivation will be for my lightning…perhaps I should go ask….” Just as Kiso was thinking of asking his father about the various stages of his lightning magic, he heard a voice ring out behind him.
     
    “Kiso! My word! So it is true then..” Mord was currently staring at Kiso’s body giving off those small sparks, wide-eyed.
     
    Kiso opened his eyes and turned to look at Mord, “Grandfather, why are you looking at me like that?”
     
    Sighing, Mord walked in front of him and sat down, then stared into his eyes and began to speak, “Kiso, to be at this level after only a day and a half… If I hadn’t heard from your father and then seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. Do you have any idea how rare it is for a child to be able to enter the spark stage so quickly?” Mord asked sternly, then continued without waiting for Kiso to respond, “One in a million! It has only ever happened once before in the entire history of our clan!”
     
    Kiso was beginning to grasp just how significant his talent truly is.
     
    Mord continued, “You should know who that other person was. The founder of our clan, Boro Black’s son, Magnum Black!”
     
    Magnum Black was a legend. Everyone in the clan knew who he was, he had lived for thousands of years, during which the Thunderblack clan was one of the top three families in the human realm. His power was said to be able to fight against the gods, vaporize mountains, even split the seas! It was also his lightning that the clan was named after, as it had reached the legendary level of black lightning.
     
    Taking another deep breath Mord continued, “Kiso, you should know by now what I truly wish for your future, but that is just an old man’s desire. I wouldn’t dream of containing you to this valley! In fact, I would rather you regain our families lost status as a top family in the human realm.”
     
    “Grandfa..” Kiso didn’t know what to say.
     
    Cutting him off, Mord smiled and gently shook his head saying, “Kiso I know you were willing to stay and serve the clan, however what your parent’s told you is true. We simply cannot offer you the best cultivation environment or spiritual techniques, it would be a waste of your talent to stay here.”
     
    A light went off in Kiso’s head and he stopped his grandfather from continuing, “Grandfather, I won’t let you or the clan down, but I’m a little lost right now. Could you tell me a little bit about our lightning magic? What levels are there? How long will it take me to be able to produce a bolt of a lightning?”
     
    Mord smiled and explained patiently, “There are five levels of lightning magic known to our clan. The first is the spark stage, every member born to the clan begins at this stage and is capable of emitting electricity when upset or agitated . Next would be the bolt stage, in which you would be able to consciously send forth your energy from your fingertips in the form of a bolt of lightning. I’ll mention here, that in order to reach the bolt stage, even your father, a one in a thousand type talent, took five years of cultivation to reach this stage!”
     
    Kiso listened intently committing every word to memory.
     
    “After that, the only changes are in the quality of the lightning bolt, which is represented by its color, and the manor in which you can manipulate it. The lowest level of lightning is blue lightning, which is what most members of our clan are currently capable of producing. After that would come white, then purple, and finally black.”
     
    Mord let loose a sly smile before beginning to speak again, “There have been a few variations to the quality of lightning before, with someone producing red lightning and another producing yellow lightning. It has only happened twice but both of them were very powerful, although not as powerful Magnum had been of course.”
     
    “As for how to manipulate your lightning, you truly don’t need to worry about this yet. Not even I, at the white lightning stage, have grasped how to manipulate lightning other than a few basic tricks.”
     
    Kiso digested what Mord told him and thought to himself, “Father took five years to reach the blue lightning stage and even grandfather is only at the white lightning stage despite cultivating for almost seven decades! Can I really surpass them so easily? I’m beginning to think perhaps they’ve set their expectations for me a little too high…”
     
    Another thought creeped into Kiso’s mind and he asked Mord, “Grandfather, I was able to fill my core with nature energy after only three hours yesterday but today I cultivated for twice that and I still don’t feel full. Why is that?”
     
    Mord was looking at Kiso with a satisfied smile before he heard this question, however when he heard it, he seemed to lose his mind. He was silent for several tens of a seconds before replying, “Six hours and still not full? That cannot be. Never mind the three hours yesterday, if you are still able to absorb nature energy after six hours today, I cannot even begin to imagine how quickly you will cultivate. Most children after grasping the method to cultivate, will only be able to absorb energy for an hour a day max, and that persists for years! The limit to energy absorption is the reason it takes most people years to be able to produce their first bolt of lightning…”
     
    “Kiso, I have told you what you needed to know. I cannot bear to keep you from your training any longer, I will return now. Just keep cultivating for these six months and show me how far you can go at the Youth Trials!”
     
    Mord, with a look being completely overwhelmed, stood up and walked back the way he came.
     
    Kiso could hear his grandfather muttering something to himself as he left, but he could not be bothered by it and returned to training.
     
    – – – – –
     
    One week later…
     
    BZZZZZZT!!!!
     
    A tree in the courtyard was smoking and a large portion of its bark was charred black.
     
    “That was…easy.” Kiso looked on as his hand lowered back to his side.
     
    Although the bolt was thin and weak, it was still a bolt of lightning. He had reached the blue bolt stage in one short week of cultivation. The method for exerting the energy into a bolt of lightning only took Kiso a few short hours to fully grasp.
     
    “All I have to do is push all of the spiritual pressure from my core into my finger tips and visualize a bolt of lightning hitting my target.” Kiso never thought it would be so easy, and truthfully it wasn’t.
     
    What he made sound simple took most members of the clan several months to put into practice.
     
    Smiling and feeling satisfied, Kiso sat back down and continued to cultivate. By now, no matter how long he absorbed nature energy, he would never feel full. From dawn until dusk, with the exception of eating meals and taking bathroom breaks, all he did was cultivate.
     
    This routine continued for a full six months, until finally the day before the trials arrived.
     
    To be continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Three – The Youth Trials
     
    A bright light shone through the window onto Kiso’s bed, yet a body was not present.
     
    In the training courtyard a shadowy human figure could be seen seated in a crosslegged position, waves of white lightning flowing up and down the body. Occasionally, a bolt of white lightning would strike a large boulder a dozen meters away from the seated figure.
     
    If Mord could see this scene, he would be stupefied. The white bolt stage, which had taken him seventy years to reach, had been conquered by a mere ten-year-old, in just six months.
     
    Kiso had actually woke up early this morning for some last minute cultivation, as he had been feeling he was at the bottleneck of the blue bolt stage for several weeks now. Much to his surprise, he had needed only one final hour before he felt his body heat up like the sun. Every pore on his skin and vein in his body burst with white hot energy and for the first time since that first day of cultivation, his core felt full.
     
    Kiso had a similar feeling before when he broke through into the blue bolt stage. The feeling returning to him caused an immensely excited grin to paint his face.
     
    “I wonder how much stronger my lightning is..” Kiso mused to himself before fixing his eyes on a large boulder he had placed several meters from him earlier in the year.
     
    Raising his right hand to point at the boulder, still seated on the ground, Kiso urged his spiritual pressure into his fingertips until they were numb. With a short yell, “HA!” Kiso released the energy and stared on as the white lightning struck against the boulder time and time again.
     
    When his blue lightning bolts had struck against the boulder before, he would leave behind a thin layer of black ash wherever he struck. However, now, with his ascension into the white bolt stage, after ten bursts of energy the boulder was beginning to crack and fall apart.
     
    Pleased with his results, Kiso thought to himself, “If I were to strike a human body with this, surely they would perish…”
     
    Indeed, outside of the Thunderblack clan, who were resistant to lightning, most people would find it very difficult to survive even a single bolt of lightning from Kiso. At the white bolt stage, its power can be compared to one billion volts of energy. In other words, it would be as powerful as a true bolt of lightning created by nature!
     
    Satisfied smile still stuck on his face, Kiso stood up and turned to find his father walking into his training courtyard.
     
    “Did he see it?” Kiso wondered to himself.
     
    Han’s lack of surprise gave him the answer as he called out, “Kiso! Do you have any idea what time it is?! Your already late, the trials have already begun! If you don’t get there in ten minutes, even grandfather will have no excuse to let you participate!” Han urged Kiso, before they both sprinted towards the inner palace.
     
    – – – – –
     
    The Youth Trials consist of two parts.
     
    First, the children would be made to exert their energy, striking a strange black pillar at a distance of five meters. This would determine what level they had obtained in their months of cultivation.
     
    Second, they are placed into groups based on the results of the first stage. Each group would be placed into the care of the clan’s various cultivating teachers.
     
    The trials would always take place in the inner palace main courtyard, which was around a thousand square meters in size, capable of comfortably accommodating the two hundred plus youths and their parents.
     
    Aside from the clan leader Mord, ten nobles were seated on an elevated platform overlooking the testing grounds.
     
    Clearing his voice, Mord spoke out loudly with authority, his voice seemingly aided by some sort of amplification magic, “Children! I’m sure all of you know today is our clan’s annual Youth Trials! Today, you will be evaluated based on your progress in cultivation then placed into the care of a teacher. The trials may end quickly, but you should not feel complacent just by passing this little test, the truly hard work still lies on the road ahead!”
     
    That same elder noble, who was with Mord when visiting Kiso at birth, then stood up and yelled, “Children, please line up and prepare to begin the first test with elder Julian at the Black Thunder Pillar!”
     
    Scanning the children present, Mord frowned, “He’s still not here yet? Don’t tell me he’s not going to come…”
     
    Seeing his father’s concerned gaze, Mord’s second son Ulquin smiled and consoled him, “Father, little Bo will not let you down!”
     
    Ulquin had thought that his concern was directed at his own son, to which Mord could only offer a thankful smile in return. Mord had three sons, first born Nolan, followed by Ulquin and Han.
     
    All of Nolan’s sons had already undergone their trials and were talented indeed, but nowhere near Kiso. Although Ulquin’s only son Bo was celebrated throughout the clan as the top genius, that was only because Kiso was extremely low-key and never participated in family events.
     
    At the back of the line, another concerned gaze was shuffling through the crowd in front of her. Yuni’s brows were knit tightly together. She had worked extremely hard for the sake of her secret love, cultivating non-stop for the past six months.
     
    “He better show up! I cannot bear to have wasted all that time for nothing!” Yuni was like a walnut, hard on the outside but soft on the inside. She had toiled for months in seclusion, much like Kiso, all in hopes of roping him in. To Kiso, the bet they made must be avoided at all costs but to Yuni it was her greatest dream.
     
    As panic began to seep into her heart, a familiar voice rang out behind her, “Yuni, I hope you haven’t forgot what you promised me, should you lose.” The voice was calm and serene with a hint of unmovable confidence.
     
    That same voice always seemed to force her to act in a way that made her hate herself as she spat back, “HA! It’s you that needs to remember YOUR promise!” She spun around and stuck her pretty little nose in the air.
     
    Yuni is the same age as Kiso and is the daughter of the castle guard’s commander. The two of them had spent a lot of time together growing up due to her father’s house being placed among the core family member’s houses. Among all of the girls in the clan, although underdeveloped due to age, she is still considered among the most promising in terms of looks. If it wasn’t for her harsh outer shell, many young masters would have already attempted to win her favor.
     
    Long dark hair, worn in a ponytail, with beautiful silky skin, her rivals in beauty can be counted on one hand.
     
    Kiso also had to admit that she was a beauty among beauties. Even though she always spoke harshly towards him, he could always see a hint of regret in her eyes every time she spoke to him in such a way. Thus he truthfully didn’t hold it against her too much, and just lined up behind her and waited for his turn.
     
    Inwardly scolding herself, Yuni thought, “Ugh! Why must I always speak before thinking?! Never mind that, Kiso seems to give off an aura of boundless depth, don’t tell me I’ll really have to serve as his slave for the rest of my life….”
     
    Confidence shattered, she continued to ponder, “That might not be so bad though, at least then no matter where he goes, I’ll have an excuse to follow him!” Much like Kiso, she rebounded very quickly from a moments despair.
     
    As Kiso gazed towards the Black Thunder Pillar, he could see that most of the other children were at the spark stage. Their energy resembled thread like lightning and could be considered considerably weak.
     
    What caused Kiso’s eyes to widen, is that every time the pillar was struck, there wasn’t even a hint of damage to be seen. Even some of the stronger spark stage children couldn’t cause a crack or a burn. Instead, where they struck, the pillar would change a certain color which elder Julian would announce to the elders seated on the platform. The colors so far have been mostly light yellow, indicating weak spark stage apparently. Only three children out of the hundred that have been tested thus far, have produced a dark yellow color, corresponding with late spark stage.
     
    Each time one of the students produced that dark yellow color, Julian seemed to announce the result in a much more excited manor. Those children were segregated into a different part of the courtyard around an extremely large burly man named Isaac. Isaac was the only late spark stage cultivation teacher.
     
    The rest of the children were split among the other numerous spark stage teachers. Each spark stage teacher would be responsible for ten students.
     
    A hush ran through the bustling courtyard as a notably tall youngster stepped up to the line drawn on the ground in front of the pillar. This youngster was Bo Black, son of Ulquin, and he wore a rather smug smile on his face as he knew he would likely have the greatest talent among his generation. Bo had been spoiled by his father and pampered by the clan elders, causing his head to grow almost too big for his shoulders. Despite his arrogant attitude, Bo truly was hardworking, perhaps even more so then Yuni. Thus he had some ability supporting that big head.
     
    Bo raised his hand while calling out to Mord, “Grandfather, please watch closely!”
     
    Bo summoned forth his spiritual pressure and released it towards the Black Thunder Pillar. From his fingertips, a bright blue bolt of lightning zapped the pillar and a bright red color shone from where he struck.
     
    The entire courtyard was silent, Kiso looked around as everyone’s mouths were wide open. Julian was the first to come back to his senses as he stuttered, “E…early blue bolt stage!”
     
    The courtyard erupted with cheers. Ulquin turned, expecting to see Mord’s pleasant surprise, only to see the same hint of anticipation shining in his eyes as before. Bo showing that he had reached the blue bolt stage in just six months was definitely a one in a thousand type talent, so why was Mord not excited? Ulquin was extremely confused. Only Kiso’s father, Ulquin’s younger brother, could match his son in talent.
     
    Rushing up to meet Bo was a twenty-something pretty female named Veronica. Veronica was a bolt stage teacher and she quickly ushered him away to begin her introduction.
     
    The rest of the children’s results were the same as the first hundred, all spark stage, as to be expected.
     
    After almost all the children were scattered around the courtyard chatting with their new teachers, a bright light once more filled the courtyard. Instantly, everyone looked towards the Black Thunder Pillar, upon which they saw a bright red spot which was notably darker then the last one they had seen just a few minutes earlier.
     
    This time Julian could not seem to regain himself as Yuni spoke out, “Elder, the result?”
     
    Snapping out of it, Julian announced, “Middle blue bolt stage!”
     
    Yuni spun around and smiled at Kiso who was currently nodding in approval, yet seemingly unconcerned.
     
    “It seems he truly is the man worthy of my attention, I wonder what level he has reached after these six months of cultivation…” Yuni thought to herself, before she called out to Kiso, “I look forward to you honoring your end of our bet!”
     
    Kiso nonchalantly strolled up to the testing line before glancing up a the platform. Mord had already raised his head from his hand was seated on the edge of his chair, causing his sons and the elders to be startled.
     
    Ulquin wondered to himself, “This Kiso is Han’s son. I’ve never heard too much about him, could there be something special about him?”
     
    Kiso bowed slightly towards Julian before raising his right hand towards the Black Thunder Pillar. He gathered his massive spiritual pressure into his fingertips, urging his core to continue to pool energy into them. The air around him grew dense and dust began to scoot away from his feet as he suddenly shouted, “HA!”
     
    A blinding light filled the courtyard as a single white bolt of lightning struck the pillar causing the pillar to crack from top to bottom, along with the minds of everybody present.
     
    Julian stared wide-eyed a the pillar, eyes full of disbelief.
     
    After a few short, yet seemingly forever seconds, Mord shot up along with everyone else seated on the platform, before jumping down directly in front of Kiso.
     
    “Early white bolt stage, Kiso, you didn’t disappoint me! No, in fact, you surpassed my wildest dreams! As promised, you will not be required to stay in this valley.” Mord spoke to Kiso in a voice that everyone could hear.
     
    “Thank you grandfather.” Kiso replied simply, before turning his head to see everyone still staring at him.
     
    “This Kiso is nuts, how can he be so powerful? He must have had some kind of magical treasure assisting him, I refuse to believe my hard work was any less then his!” Bo was both bewildered and angry. The spotlight had been removed from himself not once, but now twice. He could somewhat get over Yuni’s power, as he knew how hard she had been training. He was secretly very fond of Yuni and had thoughts of making her his wife.
     
    Kiso’s display of power was simply too great though, and his spoiled and arrogant mind could not accept it.
     
    Another person currently staring at Kiso was Yuni, “Oh no. I knew he was confident, but this…” her big green eyes were raised to her eyebrows as she quietly turned and wanted to slip away.
     
    “Hold on just one second, slave!” A voice rang out behind her that caused Yuni’s entire body to shudder as she halted and slowly turned to face the voice.
     
    To be continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Four – A Warning and A Beginning
     
    Kiso was currently staring at Yuni, smiling from ear-to-ear as he walked briskly in her direction.
     
    “I believe we had an agreement, surely you do not intend to back down now? I didn’t think you were this type of girl…” Kiso deliberately poked Yuni’s sore spot.
     
    “Of course not! I just…” Yuni was lost for words as she looked into Kiso’s eyes. Although his words were harsh she could see the laughter in his eyes. This boiled up her anger as her outer shell returned and she kowtowed as spoke out, “Slave Yuni greats master Kiso and wishes to express her congratulations!”
     
    Bo happened to be within earshot of the two of them and a murderous light flashed in his eyes.
     
    Her words contained a hint of sarcasm but Kiso could not be bothered by that. He got down to a knee and pulled Yuni’s chin up as he whispered into her ear, “Yuni, I refuse to believe you think I would force you to be my slave. I’ll take your words as payment, you really showed me something amusing today! I’ll be leaving tomorrow to go on an adventure with the intention of visiting some highly touted cultivation locations. Don’t miss me too much!” Kiso backed off and a warm smile replaced his previously devious one.
     
    Yuni was taken aback, not only did she truly believe he had intended to use her as a slave, she had secretly desired it! This time, she spoke before she thought, “Forget that! I’m coming too!”
     
    A dark shadow cast over Yuni’s face as her eyes shifted from Kiso’s to somewhere beyond him.
     
    Kiso, following her eyes, turned around and saw a face he respected very dearly. Commander of the castle guards, Yuni’s father Randall, was standing behind him with an elated expression on his face.
     
    Laughing, Randall said, “It seems I’ll have to trouble you young master, this little daughter of mine seems to have taken a liking to you!”
     
    Yuni blushed and couldn’t help but stare down towards the ground as Kiso thought to himself, “Captain Randall has always treated me extremely well, I truly did not wish to bring Yuni along with me, but if it’s for her father…”
     
    At this time, Celes and Han had made their way towards Kiso’s small party, smiling expressions painted all over their faces. Han called out, “Kiso, your grandfather wishes to speak with you in private a bit, go see him!” Celes added, “Afterwards, come straight home, we have something to discuss with you!”
     
    Nodding, while thinking to himself how lucky he was to escape this awkward situation, Kiso turned tail and ran towards his grandfather, who by now was once again seated on the platform.
     
    Seeing Kiso running his way, Mord sighed, “I never expected him to be this powerful. If such a talent still isn’t the one spoken of in the prophecy, I fear the prophecy may be false! Still, the clan may be able to ride his talent to regain its former glory at the very least.”
     
    Kiso leapt up to the platform and payed his respects to the elders before taking a seat in front of his grandfather. Mord warmly smiled and started, “Kiso, you truly are the pride of our clan and I know you intend to leave the castle tomorrow, to that, I must warn you.” Mord glanced sideways at the elders before looking back at Kiso.
     
    In Kiso’s mind a voice rang out, it was Mord’s, “Kiso, you must realize that our small innate ability is the tip of the iceberg among the various uses of spiritual pressure. Innate abilities are unique and some are indeed very powerful, like our lightning. However, there are countless universal spiritual pressure techniques anyone can use, given the person has enough talent to comprehend them.”
     
    The voice continued, “Mental communication is one of the simplest techniques, it is what I’m using right now to talk to you inside of your head. Despite it being one of the simplest techniques, in our entire clan, only your father and I have grasped it’s use.”
     
    Kiso’s mind was racing, “Mental communication? Tip of the iceberg?”
     
    Kiso was growing excited; he loved to learn to things, especially ones that would increase his personal power in a world where power was infinitely valuable.
     
    Mord’s voice continued in his mind, “The elders wish for me to tie you down and use you to restore our clan’s mid-grade status, they have even threatened a coup after hearing my intention to let you roam free.” Mord’s face loosened a bit as his brows returned to their original positions, “But what can they truly do? Your grandfather still has many tricks up his sleeve and those old geezers cannot hold a candle to my power! Kiso, do not worry about things here. If you still harbor intention to help your clan after training for five years on your own, come back and see me, at that time I’ll tell you a bit about how clans are ranked and the benefits they receive from those ranks.”
     
    The chains in Kiso’s heart seemed to dissolve as he began to think about the vast world and all the various abilities he still has yet to even begin to comprehend.
     
    Kiso bowed once more to his grandfather as they made small talk to appease the overlooking elders, then leapt off the platform and returned home.
     
    – – – – –
     
    Seated in the dining area was Han, Celes, Randall, and Yuni.
     
    Puzzled, Kiso hesitantly walked to his normal seat and plopped down. He cast his gaze in half circle stopping on each of the faces staring at him. Then Han spoke out, “Kiso, Yuni here tells me she wishes to go with you and your mother on the adventure to the cultivation area, what do you think?”
     
    Kiso glanced at Randall, who was smiling warmly, before turning to look at Yuni, who had shifted her gaze towards her lap.
     
    “Father, are you not coming?” Kiso ignored the issue of Yuni for now.
     
    “Of course not! This is a sensitive time for your grandfather and I must be here to support him. Not to mention, anything I can teach you, your mother can likely teach you better. After you arrive at the cultivation area, your mother will leave you and Yuni alone. There are many elders of the clan whom prefer to stay around the cultivation areas that would be willing to lend you their aid should you have a problem.”
     
    Han reached into his pocket and took out an ancient scroll and a dull silver ring.
     
    “This scroll is the cultivation method to a technique called Mental Communication, it will take you some time to learn, but I trust that you can imagine its benefits. As for this ring, this is called a Dimensional Space Ring, or a DS ring for short. Within it is a space for storing non-living objects, such as scrolls, gold, and weapons.” Han laid the scroll and ring on the table and scooted them towards Kiso.
     
    “Within the ring, is enough gold to last you at least five years of an extravagant lifestyle here in the Thunderblack valley. Your mother and I wish for you to return after cultivating for a maximum of five years, upon which we will hold your adulthood ceremony.” Han seemed to remember something and glanced towards Celes, who was currently staring at him, a look of concern in her eyes.
     
    “Kiso, there is only one thing that I must implore you to remember. Although you may be one of the most powerful here in Thunderblack valley, that status ends here. The moment you step out of the valley, I want you to consider yourself nothing more than an average child.” Han concluded.
     
    Kiso agreed, “Father certainly is more knowledgeable then I in regards to the world, I will heed your advice.”
     
    Kiso put this DS ring on and urged his spiritual power into it, binding it to himself. He then stored the Mental Communication Scroll into it before retiring to his room to prepare his clothes for the adventure.
     
    A moment after returning to his room, there was a knock on his door.
     
    “Come in.” Kiso raised his voice so it could be heard on the other side.
     
    Yuni’s delicate little figure appeared from the now open door as she shuffled her feet into the room.
     
    “Big brother Kiso, are you truly okay with me accompanying you? I blurted out those words before and my father just happened to overhear it. Even though I truly do wish to come along, I wouldn’t want to come against your will…” Yuni’s eyes were a shade redder than usual.
     
    Kiso sighed and comforted her saying, “Yuni, although originally I did not wish for anyone to come along, upon deeper thought, I believe it to be for the best. I am human too and being alone without any friends or family with me would be very lonely. Little sister Yuni accompanying me is not a hindrance but a blessing, I will be in your care for these next few years.” Kiso finished and gave a heartwarming smile to Yuni, whose face instantly brightened.
     
    “Aha, you do say some good things once in a while. Since we are leaving tomorrow, I have to go gather my things. I’ll meet you here first thing in the morning!” Yuni spun around and ran off down the hall.
     
    Kiso gathered his clothes from his wardrobe into his DS ring and let himself fall onto his bed. “Today was rather exhausting, I’d much rather have cultivated all day then deal with so many people.” Kiso was a reclusive soul, whom only interacted with others when he had to.
     
    As Kiso was pondering what sort of techniques there might be out in the world, he drifted into a deep sleep.
     
    – – – – –
     
    Kiso awoke to a soft hand shaking his shoulder.
     
    Celes was currently standing next to Kiso’s bed wearing a set of traveling leathers. “Kiso, since when do you sleep this long? It’s already light out, were you planning to keep us waiting all day?” Standing behind Celes was Yuni wearing similar leather clothes and a large pack on her back.
     
    Slowly getting up from bed, Kiso yawned and stretched as he came to his senses, “That’s right! Today is the day!” He thought to himself before apologizing to the girls.
     
    The three of them said the farewells to Han before making their way towards the front gates of the castle. On the way, a group of tall ancient looking men stood in their way.
     
    “Elders.” Kiso instantly recognized the faces of those men. “Grandfather is here too.”
     
    Mord walked slightly forward before smiling and winking at Kiso, “The elders and I have come to wish Kiso a safe and successful journey to Hanzi Academy!” Kiso rolled his eyes, Mord had tricked the elders.
     
    “Thank you Grandfather, Elders, I will certainly do everything in my power to become stronger and not shame the clan.” Kiso played along.
     
    One of oldest elders stepped forward as well, his name was Yorvit and his influence could be said to be almost as great as Mord’s. “Kiso, although I have my misgivings about what your grandfather has informed us, I simply have no way to rebuke it. Hanzi Academy, although outside the borders of our Thunderblack valley, is well renowned to cultivate some of the brightest students in the entire human realm. I trust that you will work hard and return much stronger than any of us can imagine!” Yorvit finished his encouragement and returned to the group of old men.
     
    “Thank your elder.” Kiso replied, simple as usual.
     
    “Father-in-law, clan elders, we are already behind schedule, if we do not leave soon, we will not make it for the academy opening ceremony.” Celes, quick thinking as well, made a solid excuse as she could sense things could drag on if she didn’t.
     
    “Right! How could we forget? Go on then you three, thank you for humoring us old men. Have a safe and successful journey!” Mord sent them off as he secretly stuffed something into Kiso’s shirt as he pat him on the back.
     
    Walking through the front gates, Kiso observed the outside of the castle. A long dirt road lay before them, winding through a vast grassland with tall mountains on either side far off into the distance.
     
    “Let’s go.” Celes took the first step as Kiso and Yuni followed close behind, staring wide-eyed at each other, excitement painted all over both of their faces.
     
    To be continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Five - The Journey and the Skyshadow Technique
     
     
    A week has passed since that first step onto the path leading from Thunderblack castle into the grasslands known as the Byuki Grasslands.
     
    Currently, Celes, Kiso, and Yuni were all seated around a small fire, close to the dirt road. Celes was acting slightly strange this night, Kiso had caught onto it but he dare not pressure his mother to reveal herself.
     
    “Kiso is considerably talented in Han’s family’s ability…With that much talent for the Thunderblack lightning, could he have any more talent to spare? I truly hope he can grasp the Skyshadow technique. Talented youngster always tend to attract dangerous situations, with the Skyshadow technique, at least I would worry somewhat less for his safety after we part…” Celes was currently consoling herself. “Only one way to find out!”
     
    Celes’ face seemed to grow dark as she called out to Kiso, “Kiso, come see mother for a moment, I wish to give you a little something.”
     
    Kiso obediently shifted his position to his mother’s side as she held out her palm. The empty air in her palm was replaced by an ancient looking scroll and she willed her spiritual pressure to remove the scroll from her DS ring.
     
    Kiso gave his mother a puzzled look as he carefully inspected the outside title of the scroll.
     
    “The Skyshadow Technique”
     
    Kiso glanced back at his mother, who was smiling awkwardly at him. “Kiso, this is my family’s innate ability, the Skyshadow technique. It differs a little from your Thunderblack lightning as you do not possess the ability from birth and you must cultivate a certain type of spiritual pressure for it to work.”
     
    Celes sighed and continued, “The type of spiritual pressure you must cultivate is known as the darkness type. Just like your Thunderblack lightning comes from heat magic, my Skyshadow technique is a type of darkness magic. You will have to read the scroll to understand the ins and outs of the technique, but I will give you a major hint as to how it works.”
     
    Just when Celes finished speaking, her body flickered and disappeared before reappearing next to Yuni, who had been silently listening to the lecture. Yuni turned her head to look at the now close by Celes as her jaw slightly lowered, “Amazing! I didn’t even see you move!”
     
    Chuckling, Celes flickered back to Kiso’s side, “Unlike how you urge your spiritual pressure into your fingertips and explode it forth when using your lightning, the Skyshadow technique relies on your ability to completely align your spiritual pressure with the air around you. When you have completely aligned your spiritual pressure to that of the air around you, you will be able to travel through the wind, the sky, or the shadows in the blink of an eye.”
     
    Celes seemed to notice her excited tone in her voice and quickly warned, “However! Kiso, the chances of you being able to possess two innate abilities is low, and not without risk. All humans, beasts, gods and the like, are slaves to their genes. If you are born with heat style magic, you will only be able to learn basic spiritual techniques, and heat style magic. The same holds true for water magic, darkness magic, nature magic, and the rest.”
     
    Kiso cut his mother off, “If that is the case, why even tease me?” Kiso was frowning deeply.
     
    “True, it may be nearly impossible for you to possess two innate abilities, but you never know! There have been cases in history of people possessing two innate abilities, so allow mother to be a little selfish in hoping you are such an individual.” Celes had a complicated look on her face.
     
    “Two innate abilities? Then that dark space surrounding my lightning core would be???” Kiso had always felt that his core was a little different. To his understanding, most people’s core would completely resemble their magic type. His core however was shrouded in a dark cloud which was constantly rotating around a ball of intense lightning.
     
    Kiso had always thought that it was just as it was in nature, and that the lightning came from the clouds, but hearing his mother’s explanation, he somehow was able to guess the truth.
     
    “Mother, I feel confident that I possess the ability to cultivate darkness style magic, but does that necessarily mean I will be able to use the Skyshadow technique?” Kiso questioned earnestly.
     
    “Confident you cultivate darkness style…. How can you be sure? If that was truly the case then it goes without saying that you would be able to use the Skyshadow technique, because it is the genes of the technique itself that influence your core’s nature.” Celes was puzzled but offered and explanation regardless.
     
    “I see.. I see, so that’s how it is.” Kiso was growing excited as he quickly stood up. “If that’s how it is mother, we’ll need to stay here another day so I can review this scroll you gave me.”
     
    “Ah…Of course, although a day may not be enough, just return here when you’ve grasped the technique, I’ll use this time start teaching Yuni the Mental Communication technique.” Celes stood up as well, giving Kiso a warm smile, then turning towards Yuni, who was looking on like a lost sheep.
     
    “When I return, it will be from thin air, or my name is not Kiso Black!” Kiso puffed up his chest before dashing into the nearby forest.
     
    – – – – –
     
    Inside the forest, dense trees were tightly packed together. They barely let any light reach the floor, except for one spot near the edge of the forest. In the center of this clearing, a small lake could be found, hundreds of meters across, with a small island near the center.
     
    On this small island in the center, Kiso was currently sitting in the meditative position when an ancient scroll sprawled out in front of him.
     
    On this scroll read:
     
    Mysterious Skyshadow Technique of the Winyon Family
     
    Young ones of the Winyon clan, the time has now come from you to learn two things that will certainly separate you from the common folk and possibly allow you to have some success in life.
     
    The first is how to cultivate darkness style magic. In order to cultivate darkness style magic, you must enter a state of zen, position yourself in a meditative position and feel the world around you, you must feel the nature energy around you and allow it to enter your body through your skin and collect it in your body’s center. Allow this nature energy to form a dark cloud. This dark cloud is what you will draw the power from, needed to perform the Skyshadow technique.
     
    “It’s the same? Kiso was delighted, he had thought that he would need to absorb the heat energy and darkness energy separately, but if they both came from the same nature energy, he could do it simultaneously.
     
    Little did Kiso know just how important that little revelation would be in his life…
     
    The Skyshadow technique itself has many different applications, which you must use your head to determine the best of which applies to your current situation. In order to use the technique you must align your spiritual pressure from your core to match the energy of the position you wish to move to. This requires another ability unique to our Winyon clan.
     
    In order to detect the spiritual pressure in nature, you must send your own spiritual pressure outside your body. The distance you can “teleport” will rely on the depth of your own spiritual pressure. For example, most of you will only be able to teleport a maximum of ten feet for your first few years of cultivation.
     
    When you have sent your spiritual pressure outside your body, do not fight nature’s spiritual pressure, which will naturally try to push yours away, but allow it to enter into your spiritual pressure’s area. When nature’s spiritual pressure enters your own, you will know its makeup and it is up to you to discover your own method of changing your spiritual pressure to match it.
     
    When you are able to send your spiritual pressure outside your body and align it with nature, you have mastered the easy part to using the Skyshadow Technique.
     
    The hard part, is actually moving your physical body to another location instantly. To accomplish which, practice will be your best method, that is why it is difficult. The only words I can use to help you are these: When your spiritual pressure leaves your body, picture your body becoming the entire area in which your spiritual pressure resides. Naturally when you condense your spiritual pressure your body will move to where it is condensed.
     
    One last thing. When you have gained the ability to push your spiritual pressure outside your body, the only benefit is not the ability to use the Skyshadow technique. Inside of your zone of spiritual pressure, nothing can escape your detection. Think about what benefits that will bring, this is what separates a member of the Winyon family from common practitioners with innate abilities.
     
    Bring pride to our family and let your name roar through the world.
     
    Kiso was currently pushing his massive spiritual pressure outside his body. It must be noted, this had taken him only one hour to accomplish. His spiritual pressure could currently stretch to the edge of the shoreline hundreds of meters away.
     
    If Kiso were to tell Celes how far his spiritual pressure could already reach, her jaw would likely leave a crater in the earth.
     
    “Spreading it outside my body is easy, and I can certainly detect any movement or object within, but aligning it with nature is not simple!” Kiso was currently stumped. He had been pondering different ways to align his spiritual pressure with nature for several hours now and the sun was about to set on the first day of his new training.
     
    “I can’t help but feel like my heat magic is disrupting the calmness of the nature energy wherever my spiritual pressure touches…If only there was a way to only separate the two types of magic in my core and only send out spiritual pressure from one type.” Kiso, stumped could only sigh and open his eyes.
     
    “I’ll just sleep on it.” He rolled up the scroll in front of him and withdrew it into his ring before laying down into the grass and dozing off peacefully.
     
    – – – – –
     
    That night, Kiso was dreaming of a powerful storm that shook the planet. Inside the storm were countless bolts of lightning that left nothing alive, plant and animal alike. Although the storm was vicious and ruthless, it was a familiar feeling to Kiso as it was similar to the lightning in his core. As the storm raged on an eerie calm seemed to travel along with the storm near the center. In the center of the storm, the clouds swirled forming a small hole in the center.
     
    Kiso’s eyes shot open. “This..could work?” He instantly sat up and entered a meditative position, focusing his inner eye on his core.
     
    The inner eye is something unique to spiritual pressure practitioners, that allows them to view every cell in their body like a tree on the side of the road.
     
    “I need to move the darkness energy to the center and let the lightning exist on the perimeter.” Kiso urged the energies in his core to switch positions.
     
    A terrible pain, like a million needles being shoved into every part of his body, suddenly attacked Kiso’s conscious. Kiso was not the type to back down from something simple like pain, no matter how bad it was and continued to urge his core to bend to his will. He knew if he could not get the energies to switch positions in his core, he would never be able to align his spiritual pressure with nature’s and thus would never be able to use the Skyshadow technique.
     
    Kiso fought the pain for several tens of minutes before losing conscious.
     
    When he woke up, he was still seated in the meditative position and his entire body felt like it was different. Immediately using his inner eye to observe his core, he discovered the two energies had not switched positions. “Failure.” Kiso was extremely depressed.
     
    Then something caught his attention.
     
    “Wait. Although the dark cloud and the lightning did not switch positions, they seem to have fused.” Currently in Kiso’s core, a dark cloud was rotating like a hurricane with countless lightning bolts flickering inside the clouds, at the center was a calm space unaffected by the surrounding chaos.
     
    “If it’s like this, perhaps I will be able to align my new spiritual pressure with nature’s.” Kiso began to urge his spiritual pressure outside his body.
     
    This time, his spiritual pressure spread all the way into the distant trees beyond the shoreline. Not only that, but Kiso could clearly feel another presence he could not feel before. “I see! So it’s like that!” Kiso could now feel nature’s spiritual pressure as if it was a living thing. The same way he could sense the fish in the water and the bugs in the air before, he could now sense nature’s spiritual pressure wherever his own existed.
     
    “Now just condense my spiritual pressure at another location. Hmm, those two pressure over there are rather strong, it must be mother and Yuni..” Kiso could sense his companions and started to condense his spiritual pressure next to them.
     
    Celes and Yuni were currently sparring with each other.
     
    Celes had made a bet with Yuni that as long as she could land a hit, she would allow Yuni to marry Kiso in the future should she be able to win him over.
     
    Celes was a stubborn woman, and would not give her precious son away so easily. She was currently flickering away from every lightning bolt like it was as easy as opening and closing her own eyes.
     
    Yuni would not back down either, although she wasn’t confident in roping in Kiso, she didn’t want to be denied by his own mother should the opportunity ever present itself.
     
    Just as Yuni had finally predicted Celes’ movement and sent a bolt of lightning towards where she knew Celes would teleport to, another body flickered in front of Celes, only to be directly struck by the bolt of lightning.
     
    “Ouch! That still stings you know!” Kiso was rubbing his arm where the lightning had struck, while Celes was staring at Kiso eyes wide and jaw open.
     
    To be continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Six - Confrontation
     
    “Kiso! It’s only been two days and you’ve already been able to perform the Skyshadow technique! I, Celes, could not hope for a more brilliant son. You truly are my pride and joy.” Celes was swiftly walked towards Kiso as she opened her arms to hug her son.
     
    Just as she was about to clamp her arms down around him, she had a sudden thought, “Kiso, where exactly did you just teleport from?”
     
    Kiso would not hide anything from his mother and smiled as he replied, “Hehe, mother, I don’t think you would be able to guess! I won’t play guessing games with you this time though. Actually, I teleported here directly from where I was training, some two hundred fifty meters into the forest on a small island in the middle of a small lake.”
     
    “Two HUND…” Celes knew her son was talented, and she was even shocked beyond words that he was able to have two innate abilities, but to be able to teleport further then even she could after only training for a day and half, was beyond her wildest dreams.
     
    “Kiso tell mother, how many times have you teleported prior to appearing before us?” It must be said that the further one teleported, the more difficult it would be, as the spiritual pressure near the perimeter of a spiritual pressure zone would be weak and hard to detect.
     
    “Mother, my appearance just now was my first attempt actually. I must be quiet lucky, at first I could not even detect nature’s energy at all, but after I had a dream last night, I was able to combine my two energies in my core and detect the nature energy in one go!” Kiso exclaimed.
     
    Celes could only sigh, it would seem she needs to stop looking at her son as if he were a normal child. “Is this child of mine a reincarnation of some legendary figure who retained their memories or just ridiculously talented? I cannot use common knowledge to judge his abilities and comprehension skills. Perhaps he could even learn the third application of the Skyshadow technique. No, I don’t even doubt it anymore, I’m sure he can.”
     
    Celes was about to retrieve another portion of the ancient scroll in her ring when a gigantic explosion was heard less than a mile south of them. That explosion was followed by several more explosions, each a little bit closer to where the three of them were currently standing.
     
    When the explosions reached a visible distance, Kiso could see two human silhouettes fiercely attacking each other with powerful bright blue bolts of lightning. Each time their lightning collided a powerful explosion would sound out and a shockwave would spread out pushing them closer and closer to Kiso’s location.
     
    Celes was originally worried, however when she saw the current battle, the fear simmered down and she lost her thoughts of hiding.
     
    Yuni on the other hand had already run behind Kiso and was viciously glaring from behind Kiso’s shoulder towards the two human figures rapidly approaching.
     
    Just when one of the two men seemed to get the upper hand and sent the other flying back, he stopped chasing, standing firm.
     
    That man called out, “You three! You had best clear out! Don’t blame me for being merciless should you try and help that scoundrel!”
     
    Celes shook her head and called back to the man, “You, sir! I do not know what your enmity is with this man, but here in the Thunderblack valley, I, Celes Black, would not bow to a lowly servant such as yourself!”
     
    The man was shaken for a moment, there wasn’t a single person in the valley that did not know of Celes Black, however currently she should be within the Thunderblack Castle, and certainly would not be wearing such shabby clothes as the woman before him. Thus he retorted, “Miss, do not think that you can get away with using the missus’ name so wantonly!”
     
    The man called out again, “This is my final warning, the three of you had better clear out or else, if I don’t end all four of you, my name isn’t Grimjaw Black!”
     
    Grimjaw began to gather spiritual pressure in his fingertips to attack when Kiso stepped forward and called out to him, “Grimjaw, my name is Kiso Black, my father is Han Black, I believe you can understand what that means. Perhaps you would consider giving my mother and I a little face, we do not wish to intervene in this matter if this man truly deserves your wrath.”
     
    Grimjaw was startled, “Oh? The little sh*t has actually shown up so easily?” Grimjaw’s face betrayed his inner thoughts and Kiso immediately knew something was amiss.
     
    The bloody, half dead man lying in front of Kiso had overheard Kiso’s prior words and was attempting to gather the puny remainder of his spiritual pressure to send Kiso a mental transmission. Although exhausting his last bit of spiritual pressure would leave him at the mercy of the gods, his mission was to warn the young master in front of him of his present danger.
     
    “Kiso!” A voice rang out in Kiso’s mind, “My name is Quincy and your father sent me to find you. This man is part of your uncle’s sect, sent here to kill you! Your uncle wishes to remove you from the picture so that his son will reap the rewards.”
     
    Kiso glanced at Quincy staring for a moment deep into his eyes and he couldn’t detect any shred of deceit. “So that’s how it is huh..Uncle, I will not forget this.” Kiso made a vow in his heart to take revenge on this rotten uncle of his.
     
    Noticing Kiso glance at Quincy, Grimjaw instantly connected the dots. Without wasting a breath, he burst forth the already overflowing energy in his fingertips once more. He was aiming for Quincy, attempting to prevent him from revealing any more secrets he may be aware of.
     
    However, how would Kiso allow one of his father’s men to die right in front of his eyes? Kiso had already spread his spiritual pressure outside his body and thus had detected Grimjaw’s spiritual pressure being focused in his fingertips this whole time. The moment Grimjaw’s lightning began its journey towards Quincy, Kiso had urged forth his own spiritual pressure into his fingertips.
     
    Grimjaw had a devilish smile as he watched his lightning bursting forth as a white light suddenly blinded him and he felt his entire body go numb.
     
    The difference in power between Kiso’s white lightning and Grimjaw’s blue lightning is simply too vast. Trying to compare the two would be like comparing an ocean to a pond!
     
    When Kiso’s white lightning met Grimjaw’s blue lightning in midair, it didn’t stop and create shockwaves like when Quincy had traded blows with Grimjaw, but simply kept going. Kiso’s lightning completely overpowered Grimjaw’s and struck against Grimjaw’s chest.
     
    Lucky for Grimjaw, he was a member of the Thunderblack clan, or he would sure be dead right now. Even so, he was paralyzed from head to toe and he fell face forward into the dirt.
     
    Kiso’s body flickered and his reappeared standing beside Grimjaw. Using his leg to flip the burly man over, Grimjaw’s face was revealed as one could see white foam oozing from his mouth.
     
    Kiso frowned slightly, this was his first time causing another human harm. He turned and faced his mother, “Mother, what should we do with this fellow? Do you think he will die? Should we take him and head back to the castle?”
     
    Celes was still slightly dazed as the previous scene of her son’s ruthless actions played over and over in her mind. “This…This fellow will likely be incapable of ever again forming a single thought Kiso…Although he isn’t dead, he is no longer Grimjaw Black.” She sighed and continued, “Your father and I always expected your uncle to send some people after us, although I hadn’t thought he would send them this quickly. We will leave him here for the birds and continue towards our destination.”
     
    Kiso nodded slightly, looking back at the body of Grimjaw. He didn’t know why his mother was willing to leave Grimjaw here as he could clearly sense his spiritual pressure still intact. “Maybe mother cannot sense his spiritual pressure? Oh well, I do not wish to murder a defenseless man, it seems Grimjaw’s luck hasn’t run out just yet.”
     
    A man or woman would not die or be made a dumb as a chicken as long as their spiritual pressure remained. This was a fact Kiso had long been aware of.
     
    Yuni was currently crouched by the side of Quincy, a troubled look in her eyes.
     
    “Yuni, don’t think too much of it, Quincy was lucky to run into us today, his luck is quite good!” Kiso walked up behind her, resting his hand on her shoulder.
     
    Yuni nodded then glanced towards Celes, a look of anticipation in her eyes.
     
    Celes sighed, then smiled and walked over as well.
     
    During Yuni and Celes’ sparing, Yuni had been injured once as a result of tripping over a rock. She had suffered a broken ankle and was deeply depressed since that would mean her journey would likely be over. However, spiritual pressure is an amazing thing; its uses are unlimited and naturally include healing techniques. Although the healing techniques are extremely useful, they take several tens of minutes to complete and are therefore not useful in a battle.
     
    There are a few clans with innate healing abilities that allow them to heal themselves almost instantly, but they are a few and far between. The majority of healing techniques are of the universal, basic variety.
     
    Celes, being a talented member of the Winyon clan, naturally knew some healing techniques, and was able to heal Yuni’s broken ankle in just one hour.
     
    Celes crouched next to Quincy, lowering her voice and warmly comforting him, “Brother Quincy, please rest, I will heal you back to full strength, just be patient.”
     
    Celes urged her spiritual pressure outside her body and scanned through Quincy’s body a few times before muttering to herself, “This Grimjaw really did a number on Quincy, his skin has been severely burned in several places and his organs are on their last leg.”
     
    A milky white cone of light spread from Celes’ open palms down onto Quincy’s body, rebuilding his skin cells before continuing deeper to nourish his damaged organs as well.
     
    Kiso was currently observing, considerably interested. “This sort of technique would certainly come in handy, I must have mother teach me the principles behind its application later.”
     
    – – – – –
     
    Five hours later, Celes’ forehead was dripping with sweat as she finally withdrew her hands and laid back taking deep, exhausted breaths of air.
     
    Quincy, who had been previously asleep in a miserable state, although still covered in his own dried up blood, now seemed to breath steady and was sleeping peacefully.
     
    “He should be fine now, his injuries were quite bad, if I hadn’t healed him he would have died.” Celes sat back up and shifted her gaze between Yuni and Kiso.
     
    Yuni spoke first, “Mr. Quincy is lucky the madam was here to help him. You should get some rest, even after healing my little injury you still slept for hours, I know you must be exhausted.”
     
    Celes faintly laughed, nodding her head she replied, “Indeed, I nearly used up all over my spiritual pressure this time, I’ll need to rest the rest of the day and night this time. Before I do however, Kiso, I’d like you to take a look at this.”
     
    Celes raised her right hand, and a single piece of ancient looking parchment replaced the empty air previously atop her palm.
     
    Raising a single brow, Kiso queried, “What is this?”
     
    “This is actually the last segment of the Skyshadow technique. It is the offensive application of the technique and also where it gets its name from!”
     
    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Seven - The Ancient Byuki Forest
     
    On this piece of parchment there were several dried drops of blood and the ink was heavily smeared. It appeared to have been written in a hurry by a heavily injured person.
     
    The parchment read:
     
    Junior, my little life is fading, but with my last moments I’ve made a discovery.
     
    Today I was assaulted by a group of bounty hunters who must have mistaken me for their prey! I can only curse my luck… Regardless, in what I assumed to be my final moments, I desperately clung to life, exhausting almost all of my spiritual pressure to constantly teleport away, attempting to escape.
     
    These bounty hunters were just too extraordinary, I imagine they must have been hired by a high-grade clan. As they circled around me for the final time, I closed my eyes, feeling the gentle breeze caress my cheek as I lifted my head and opened my eyes to stare up at the sky.
     
    My spiritual pressure was still outside my body and at that moment, a single cloud blocked out the sun in the sky, casting a shadow over me and the bounty hunters. As the shadow cast over me, I felt a strange sensation. I was rapidly regaining spiritual pressure. Although I still don’t know why that was, I could also sense a change in the nature energy around me. Anywhere the cloud’s shadow existed, I could clearly feel a strong connection to that space.
     
    The connection was much stronger than anything I had ever felt before, even stronger than the incredible effect the night has on our clan. Those bandits were like stars in the night sky standing in that shadow.
     
    At that time I had a thought, if we can teleport ourselves, surely we can teleport others right? Well, I was a bit wrong, although not entirely. Using my spiritual pressure, I attempted to lift those bounty hunters as high as I could, to the ceiling of my external spiritual pressure zone.
     
    My spiritual pressure had been cultivated for several hundred years and even in its weakened state, that ceiling was at least half a mile into the air.
     
    When those bounty hunters reached the ceiling, I simply dropped them all. They did a freefall nosedive into the Earth and most of them died on the spot. One of them survived however, curse my bad luck, he had an innate wind ability and softened his landing.
     
    Right as I used the last of my spiritual pressure to teleport, he threw a dagger, which cut the artery in my arm. Ahhhhh….. I’m really starting to feel a bit dizzy, if only I had enough spiritual pressure left to heal myself…..
     
    The text on the parchment ended there as Kiso instantly understood what his mother meant by offensive application. What he didn’t understand was why she, or any of her clan members, would be unable to use this technique.
     
    “Such a simple thing, why wouldn’t they be able to use it?” Kiso spread out his spiritual pressure and located a small rock on the ground a few meters away from him.
     
    “You just urge your spiritual pressure under the target and…huh?” Kiso stared as the rock sat, unaffected by his spiritual pressure. Kiso was dumbfounded; he had full confidence in his ability to control his spiritual pressure and had fully expected the rock to soar into the sky.
     
    “I really wish that old man had left a better hint. All he did was describe the situation. How am I supposed to figure anything out from that little story?” Kiso understood why the mystery was unsolved, yet he was not discouraged, it was hard to dampen Kiso’s spirits.
     
    “There must be some clue in what he wrote…” Kiso strongly pondered what it could have been.
     
    At this time Celes’ voice called out to him, “Kiso, the old man that wrote the ancient scroll and this piece of parchment was my great grandfather. Every single person in the Winyon clan has attempted to match his feat but were unsuccessful. I myself cannot begin to comprehend how to lift something with spiritual pressure alone.
     
    Celes’ words penetrated Kiso’s soul, he felt slightly defeated for the first time.
     
    “If you two keep worrying about this, you’ll only hurt yourselves; we should all get some sleep!” Yuni suggested sleep, something the exhausted Celes would not argue with.
     
    However, Kiso’s brain could not slow down currently. He doubted he could sleep with so much on his mind, but he didn’t want to cause Yuni to worry so he could only nod his head and lay down.
     
    Even though he laid down, he continued to ponder how to utilize his spiritual pressure in the way the old man had described.
     
    – – – – –
     
    The next morning.
     
    Kiso’s eyes were twitching, everything else had come to easily to him, he could not bear to be unable to do something someone else had already done.
     
    At this time a voice rang out in his mind, it was Quincy, “Young master Kiso, Grimjaw is indeed your uncle’s man, but your father wanted me to give you one more piece of information.”
     
    Kiso sat up and looked over towards where Quincy had been laid out previously.
     
    “Empty.” Kiso looked around, there was no sign of Quincy.
     
    “Don’t bother looking for me young master, I am at the maximum distance my mental communication can reach. The other thing I must tell you, is that your grandfather Mord has already been killed!”
     
    “What?!” Kiso cried out. He was instantly filled with sorrow and hatred, but more importantly, he was worried! He was worried that without his grandfather, his father would be killed by his brothers.
     
    The rift between the three sons of Mord was irreconcilable. They hated each other to the bone due to fact that each of them had different mothers. Each time Mord had remarried, the previous wife had been discarded. The sons that had been left behind could only hold their hatred within their hearts for they were afraid of offending their father.
     
    Everyone who was close to Mord knew, he was truly a despicable fellow when it came to women!
     
    Han’s mother was the current wife and had yet to be discarded, thus naturally he was hated the most.
     
    Although Kiso was not that close to Mord, he was still his grandfather and it shocked his young heart. However, the worry was much greater than the other emotions in his heart.
     
    As if he could read Kiso’s emotions, Quincy’s voice once more sounded in Kiso’s mind, “Your father and your grandmother have both escaped from Thunderblack castle and are heading to a safe place. However, all of those who were allies with Mord, were not spared. I trust you understand what I mean by that. That’s all I was supposed to tell you, please tell the missus thank you for saving me.”
     
    Kiso’s eyes were red as he turned to see Yuni sitting up rubbing her sleepy eyes.
     
    Kiso lowered his head as he dragged himself towards Yuni. Halfway over, a cold, heartless voice attacked Kiso’s ears. “Little punk. Do not think that you are safe! I, Grimjaw, will remember this humiliation!”
     
    Kiso glanced towards the voice, rage bubbling up in his heart. Grimjaw was currently dashing through the grasslands away from him, at least a half mile away now.
     
    The rage in Kiso’s heart boiled over as he burst forth his spiritual pressure, stretching for precisely half a mile. His body flickered and disappeared.
     
    By the time Yuni had finished rubbing her eyes and let them adjust to the morning sun, a flash of light could be seen in the distance, followed by a miserable scream, then silence.
     
    “This Grimjaw just had to poke me when I was down. I had planned to merciful, but he really caught me in my worst mood, how am I going to tell Yuni and mother?” Kiso frowned as he decided to walk back the half mile.
     
    Although Kiso acted on impulse and rage, he was after all a child. The act of murder was one that only added to the negative emotions flowing in his heart.
     
    However, Kiso was quick to rebound from negativity after all, and his mind quickly recovered to start pondering a few things.
     
    “Why couldn’t that Quincy have told mother this information, why did he force it on me to tell them the bad news?” Kiso was bitter; his impression of Quincy had sunk very low.
     
    Kiso was extremely intelligent for his age however, as his mind began to uncover the hidden meaning behind Quincy’s actions.
     
    A cold look flashed in Kiso’s eyes, “Ah, so he’s just a coward. He couldn’t bear to tell mother of her brother’s death.” Kiso sighed as another though struck him, “But wait, uncle Ruddy was a Winyon clan member, shouldn’t he be able to flee easily?”
     
    As Kiso was reminiscing about those people at the castle who were likely dead now, he had already come into view of his camp.
     
    The sight before Kiso’s eyes struck him like a ten-ton boulder.
     
    Celes and Yuni were not the only ones seated around the fire pit. The third person was indeed a familiar face.
     
    Kiso’s body flickered and the remaining hundred yards vanished in an instant.
     
    “Uncle Ruddy! I knew you’d be able to escape!” Kiso exclaimed excitedly, then frowned as he saw the faces of the two women.
     
    Yuni bawled and ran into Kiso’s embrace. “Kiso! My mother and father, dead!” She tucked her head into his shoulder and Kiso’s heart broke a little bit.
     
    “Mother, Quincy told me about what happened. It seems we cannot return to Thunderblack castle and the spiritual cultivation training locations are likely to be targeted as well. Where should we go?” Kiso got straight to the point.
     
    “You certainly are bright Kiso, it seems you already know what you need to do. Indeed, right now, we need to all cultivate and raise our power. Although we are individually stronger than any of your uncle’s men, they have too many men for us to consider taking back the castle.” Ruddy spoke out, a flash of fury in his eyes.
     
    “Kiso, it is true that we need to spend our time cultivating right now. Although the major cultivation spots will be heavily guarded now, there is one place your uncles would never dare to step foot in.” Celes spoke the words but seemed to fear them as they passed her mouth.
     
    Kiso’s mind raced as he recollected a map of the Thunderblack valley he had viewed a few years ago.
     
    “You don’t mean….” Kiso’s eyes widened as he stared to the east.
     
    “Right, we cannot waste any time, I imagine there are hundreds of assassins combing the valley right now.” Celes nodded her head also turning to look towards the east.
     
    In the east, the tallest mountains around the valley can be found. Their peaks are thousands of meters tall and cannot be seen on a cloudy day. Halfway down those mountains, their color changes from dark gray to black.
     
    That black represents the border to the ancient Byuki Forest, a forest millions of years old. Its trees are so thick it would take 10 men holding hands to completely surround the tree. On the forest floor, so little light makes it down, the ancient Byuki Forest gets its other name, the forest of eternal night.
     
    The reason nobody dares to enter the forest is because it is the only location in the valley that contains spiritual beasts.
     
    Spiritual beasts are ferocious and hate humans to the bone. Any random spiritual beast is generally ten times more powerful than a low level blue bolt stage clan member.
     
    Yuni’s red eyes finally sobered up as she looked up at Kiso, “Big brother, I will not rest until I have become powerful enough to slaughter everyone remaining at Thunderblack Castle.” Her voice didn’t waver and she seemed to gain an unshakable resolve.
     
    Kiso looked down at Yuni, started awake as his thoughts drifted away from the ancient Byuki Forest, “Yuni, big brother can imagine your pain, although it was my family that killed yours, I no longer recognize them as such! I will go with you when you return for your vengeance.”
     
    Celes and Ruddy looked at each other before sighing and secretly coming to a decision.
     
    “Kiso, you and Yuni will have to continue from her by yourselves. Your mother and I must return to the Winyon clan and report this matter to the elders. We also imagine that your father has gone that way as well, if we do not support him, he may not find refuge there like he imagines.” Ruddy spoke as Celes lowered her pretty face, a hint a worry in her eyes.
     
    Celes was worried for Kiso and Yuni, as they would now have to fend for themselves in the most hostile environment known to Thunderblack valley, but she was even more worried for Han! She knew full well that those spiritual beasts would not pose any threat to her son, who could simply teleport away anytime things got dangerous. She also knew that Kiso was reliable and wouldn’t let anything happened to Yuni. Therefore the only thing on her mind right now was racing towards the Winyon estate in the north.
     
    “Kiso, Yuni, come here for a moment.” Celes raised her face and stretched her arms out to either side.
     
    Kiso and Yuni let themselves into her embrace and enjoyed a few minutes of warmth they knew they wouldn’t feel again for some time.
     
    The next moment, with a smile, Celes’ body flickered and disappeared. Rudy smiled as well, then a single line left his lips before he disappeared as well.
     
    Kiso and Yuni stood there, stunned, Ruddy’s words still fresh on their minds.
     
    Yuni turned to Kiso and inquired, “Kiso do you think what your uncle just said was true?”
     
    “He has no reason to lie, we’ll have to wait and see though, we can’t let ourselves be slaves to hope.” Kiso replied, then started walking to the east.
     
    – – – – –
     
    A few days later, two tiny silhouettes stood at the edge of a mountainous wall of black woods.
     
    “Now that we’re here I’m actually kind of nervous…” Kiso thought to himself, putting on a brave face for Yuni, who turned to look at him, strangely smiling.
     
    “Kiso, somehow, I think this is going to be fun!” Yuni had fully recovered from her earlier shock of learning her parents likely perished.
     
    Sighing, then nodding, Kiso said, “It seems the spiritual pressure inside this forest is much higher than normal, perhaps we won’t need to stay too long.”
     
    The two tiny silhouettes penetrated the black wall as they entered the forest.
     
    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Eight - A Series of Shocking Discoveries

    Tiny strings of light can be seen randomly descending from the dark world above.

    Aside from a few scattered sickly looking plants and the giant trunks of seemingly millions of trees, the forest was completely lifeless.

    Kiso and Yuni have been walking deeper into the forest for several hours now.

    “This forest is very mysterious, there isn’t a single sign of life, yet the deeper we go the stronger the spiritual pressure gets.” Kiso thought aloud.

    Yuni was happily skipping forward, matching her pace with Kiso’s. “Big brother Kiso, we should find somewhere to make a home for the next few months or years.”

    Nodding in agreement, Kiso added, “Right, it should be somewhere close to water, let’s keep walking until we find a stream or lake.”

    On cue, twenty minutes later, the faint sound of flowing water first struck Kiso’s ears.

    As Kiso shifted his path and gaze along with it, he suddenly stopped. In the distance, next to a healthy flowing ravine, was an ancient looking dwelling carved into one of the giant trees near the water.

    Kiso’s first thought was danger. He immediately determined that someone capable of living in the Byuki Forest would not be weak. With the dangers that person would face on a daily basis, they would probably wouldn’t be a very kind person either.

    “Yuni, hold on, let’s avoid this person and head a few miles downstream.” Kiso had already turned once more walking away from that dwelling, but Yuni’s steps could no be heard.

    “Big brother Kiso…” Kiso turned around hearing her words to find a large, dark cloaked man had appeared ten feet away from them.

    “Danger!” Kiso immediately urged his spiritual pressure outside his body and into his fingers simultaneously.

    Before he even had an inclination to cast a lightning bolt, an ancient voice rang out in his mind, “Little person of the Thunderblack clan, do not act so quickly, I do not wish to harm you or your little friend.”

    The voice didn’t carry any tone of deceit, yet Kiso would not be so quick to trust someone he just met, especially in the middle of the Byuki Forest.

    Kiso’s body flickered and he appeared between Yuni and the dark cloaked figure, then he spoke out, “Elder, I do not know who you are, but have not come to cause you any trouble, I wonder if you would let us off just this once for entering your territory?”

    The cloaked man’s hood fell back as his face went skyward and deep crackling laughter filled the air. From the cracks in the voice, it could be determined that this old man had not laughed, or possibly even spoken, in a very long time.

    “You are quite alright young one, I like you! You seem to have quite some ability yet are kind and considerate of others. Come, I wish to have a conversation with another human, its been far too long!” The old man’s face was now visible, on his face was an extremely bizarre amount of wrinkles.

    Kiso was hesitant, although he didn’t want to risk dealing with this old man, offending him now would likely result in even more danger. Kiso decided to ask Yuni in front of the old man, “Yuni, what do you think? Should we trust an old man who doesn’t even introduce himself before sneaking up on a couple of children?”

    Kiso’s words shocked Yuni and the old man, she simply responded, “I think it would be wise to not offend this honorable mister, big brother Kiso, don’t you agree?” Yuni’s words were hushed and he could tell she didn’t want the old man to hear her.

    Despite that, he laughed again before saying, “So your name is Kiso, it is true, I have forgotten my manners. My name is Magnum Black, by the nature of your spiritual pressure, I’d say your my junior!”

    Kiso immediately fell to a knee, pulling Yuni down along with him as he bowed his head and said, “Elder Magnum, please forgive me! I had no idea I was in the presence of such a legendary man!” Kiso immediately lost himself and tried to kiss Magnum’s ass.

    Magnum’s face lost its smile as he sighed, “Although that is my name, I have long since abandoned it! I would prefer you simply call me Elder Sage from now on. Also, dispense with your silly ceremony! I do not wish to be talked up to by someone I just met!”

    Magnum then turned and started walking back towards that dwelling in the ancient tree as he called out, “You two must be hungry, come, today you will be my guests!”

    Yuni and Kiso just stared at each other.

    Kiso sent out his spiritual pressure to encompass the tree dwelling to probe it for traps, only to discover something extremely bizarre. That tree dwelling was a living creature! Kiso’s spiritual pressure is capable of identifying the difference between regular plants and spiritual beasts, that was how the two of them had avoided the handful of spiritual beasts they might otherwise have encountered.

    As Elder Sage was about to enter the tree dwelling, Kiso called out to him, “Elder Sage, what is this home of yours? Why does it feel like a spiritual beast?”

    Elder Sage turned around and smiled before glancing back at his home, “Koho, I believe it’s time to introduce yourself!”

    The bark on the tree twisted and formed the face of an extremely beautiful mature looking woman. Strangely enough, the face of the woman actually had eyes and a mouth, which both opened and she spoke saying, “Hubby, you know I prefer to stay hidden, why reveal me to these little people?”

    Elder Sage laughed again, “Koho, this little one is able to sense your spiritual pressure, there is no hiding it this time.”

    The face in the bark shifted her gaze to Kiso, then nodded and said, “So be it, come on then you two, this little husband of mine will not harm you, no need to feel fear.”

    Kiso and Yuni could hear the sincerity in the woman’s voice and their last wall of skepticism fell as they followed the Elder Sage into this so called Koho.

    – – – – –

    Inside the dwelling, was a simple room, a single lantern on a table carved from the walls was all the lighting in the room. There was a fire pit, a storage closet, and a few beast skins on the ground forming a bed and seats around the table.

    The most impressive thing was, the moment the three of them entered the dwelling, a section of wood on the wall separated from the tree forming a human shaped wood doll. The Elder Sage touched the wood doll, infusing it with his own spiritual pressure, and the doll’s body changed. The formerly inanimate piece of wood gained skin, hair, and clothing. One would not be able to tell that the woman currently standing in the place of that wood was once part of this giant tree.

    This woman had the same face as the one they had seen outside the dwelling.

    Koho smiled and sat on one of the seats around the table saying, “Little ones, my name is Koho, I am a spiritual beast Byuki tree. This old man here originally just carved me out without knowing what I was. He felt extremely bad and granted me a human body with his spiritual pressure. Although it is not a true body, I can move on my own and use the spiritual pressure from my main body all the same.

    By now, the Elder Sage had sat, while Kiso and Yuni still stood with dumbstruck looks on their faces staring at Koho. They had never known it was possible to grant spiritual pressure to spiritual beasts giving them a human body.

    In truth, only a true spiritual master is capable of doing this.

    Elder Sage smiled and gestured for the two of them to sit down.

    “Little master Kiso, tell me, how old are you this year?” Elder Sage opened up the conversation after he and Yuni had sat down with them.

    “I turned ten seven months ago sir.” Kiso still felt the need to be respectful to this legendary figure of his clan.

    Magnum’s eyes widened a little, “A little bit faster then me?” Magnum had never though this young man in front of him to be of similar talent to himself.

    He continued his train of thought, “If he is truly like me, perhaps he can use that cultivation technique…”

    As Magnum started to get a little excited that he might be able to impart some of his knowledge onto someone worthy, he began to size up Kiso closely.

    Before him sat a ten something year old boy. He was large for his age, at five foot eight inches tall, with a well built frame as well. Although his body isn’t that of an adults yet, he can be considered one simply based on his size. Aside from his size, he was notably handsome as well, with pitch black hair hanging down to his shoulders and a chiseled face.

    Yuni didn’t originally fall in love with him for his talent, decisive nature, or hidden kindness, but rather simply because he was extremely good looking.

    Kiso normally wears an indifferent look on his face, neither smiling nor frowning, yet right now his lips curved up into a faint smile. It was obvious that he was excited right now.

    Magnum’s lips finally curved up as well as he continued his questioning, “Kiso, I’d like to teach you some tricks to the Thunderblack lightning, but you have to promise me something.” Magnum’s face grew solemn as he waited for Kiso’s nod.

    Kiso was a little taken aback, “Elder Sage wants to teach me something? Please speak Elder, what must I promise you?”

    “Kiso, Yuni, this actually concerns both of you. My existence alone here is one that I sought on my own for very good reasons. There are powers on this continent who would seek to force me to reveal certain elements of my cultivation. These powers are extremely powerful and would reach a level of cultivation likely to challenge the heavens should I help them. However, I disagree with their personalities and would rather see their faces in the earth with their rear ends sprouting flowers, therefore, no matter what happens in the future, you must not speak of our meeting.” Magnum emphasized his last few words very strongly.

    “Just that?” Kiso laughed softly and his smile finally blossomed, “If its just that, you need not worry, Elder Sage taking the initiative to even just talk to us is already an honor of a lifetime.”

    Yuni hurriedly nodded in agreement.

    Magnum had said these words not out of distrust, but rather because he wanted them to know he wanted to keep his existence hidden.

    Slowly rising from the table, Magnum walked over to the only window in the room, peering out into the canopy of the forest. His tone slightly excited he called back to Kiso, “Actually Kiso, my method to cultivation is something only someone like me and you can appreciate and benefit from. Although there are a few more like us, they are extremely rare. Do you have any idea what I mean by that?” Magnum turned back to face him.

    Kiso was naturally intelligent and had already begun to connect the dots the moment the words left Magnum’s mouth.

    “Dual innate abilities, or rather, two types of nature energy residing in our cores, right?” Kiso’s interest was piqued.

    Magnum had expected Kiso to catch on, “Right, having two separate nature energies in our core’s allows us to absorb nature energy at an astonishing rate compared to our peers. Beyond that however, we can also enter a completely different state of cultivation, one normal cultivators can only dream of.”

    Turning back around to look out the window, Magnum raised his voice to match the intensity in the meaning of his next words, “Those of us with dual cores are not bound to only absorb nature energy, we can absorb heaven energy at the same time as well!”

    Magnum waved his hand as a scroll appeared and he tossed it to Kiso.

    On the scroll was written:

    “The Heaven and Earth Cultivation Technique”

    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Nine - Training Interrupted, Bad News

    “I wrote this scroll at the time I developed the method to absorb heaven energy. If you are able to grasp the method to cultivate both energies at the same time, you will be able to reach the black lightning stage of power in a few years.” Magnum said, pride shining in his eyes.

    Kiso’s excitement had nearly blown over before he caught himself, he thought to himself, “Separate energies in our cores?”

    This was a question he couldn’t answer himself so he asked Magnum plainly, “Elder Sage, just now you mentioned that we have ‘separate energies’ in our cores, however, a while back, in order to grasp the Skyshadow technique of second innate ability, I had fused the two energies in my core together.”

    Kiso pondered a bit before continuing, “Lightning energy and darkness energy, fused together, I have been referring to the new energy as storm energy. What do you think Elder Sage?”

    Magnum had turned around and was gazing not at Kiso, but at Koho, who was slackjawed and staring back at him.

    Koho spoke first, “This.. I… I haven’t even heard of anything like that happening before.”

    Magnum shook his head, “Unfathomable, truly bizarre…Kiso, I have no idea what difference that will make, but you should still be able to practice the Heaven and Earth cultivation technique.”

    Kiso nodded slightly and sunk deep into thought before excusing himself.

    Outside Magnum’s home, the sunlight is fading and the smell of rain is beginning to fill the air. The air is cold as winter is approaching, yet Kiso cannot be bothered by temperature. Those who cultivate experience intense heat throughout their bodies as they absorb nature energy. As such, Kiso has found a pleasant location under one of the gigantic ancient trees to clear his mind and read the scroll Magnum had just given to him.

    He sat cross-legged and laid the scroll out in front of him.

    On the scroll read:

    The Heaven and Earth Cultivation Technique

    Keeping it simple as it is simple itself. Absorb the freezing cold energy as well.

    “Huh?” Kiso was bewildered momentarily before it clicked.

    “So that’s how it is.” Kiso focused his entire conscious on the nature energy entering his body and was able to notice two separate types of energy. That same burning hot energy was prominent and easiest to absorb, but there was another hidden energy. It was that ice cold frozen feeling energy that he felt when he broke through to the higher spiritual pressure stages.

    – – – – –

    Four years later…

    Sitting on a large boulder by that same stream next to Koho’s true body, sat a young man with long dark hair. His body was shrouded in a dark black shadow that let not a single ray of light penetrate it. Occasionally there was a burst of black lightning that escaped the black shroud.

    A young woman was currently sitting in a meditative position a few meters away from that shroud of darkness. Waves of strange rainbow colored light were permeating up and down her body as a smug smile never left her face.

    Those two youths were Kiso and Yuni, whom have been training with Elder Sage for the past four years straight. Elder Sage had originally thought that they were talented, sure, but who would have thought that in just four years, not only the monstrous Kiso, but even Yuni was able to make enormous strides in her cultivation. She even had a variation lightning energy, never before seen in the history of the clan.

    As for Kiso, he had been able to grasp everything Elder Sage was capable of, and more. His current spiritual pressure zone was considerably longer in diameter and could sense everything that happened within. Although he was still incapable of grasping that hidden technique of the Skyshadow Elder, he felt even without it nobody could contend with his power within Thunderblack Valley.

    Currently, two men were approaching the Ancient Byuki Forest at an extremely fast pace, a pace only spiritual pressure practitioners were capable of.

    “Give it up Rolo! You’ll never escape! Even if you enter the forest I’ll never give up!” A sinister looking old man was chasing a bloody looking middle age man.

    That bloodied middle age man, Rolo, was running for his life. He was a proud member of the Thunderblack clan, but only at the blue bolt stage.

    Rolo gritted his teeth and dashed straight into the Byuki Forest.

    “He actually entered, although I’m sure he’d die if I left him, I suppose I have no choice but to follow him in..” The man following Rolo had no desire to enter this legendary ancient forest, but the order he was given was absolute and could not be disobeyed. That order was one simple sentence: Kill any Thunderblack clan member you come across.

    This man was named Nak, he is a famous member of the Ichi clan. The Ichi clan occupies a neighboring valley and are a mid-grade clan known for their earth spiritual pressure nature.

    Since the death of Mord, his other sons had been unable to hold the clan together, and the neighboring clans had invaded and slaughtered almost all of the Thunderblack clan over the past four years.

    – – –

    Just as Rolo entered the forest, Kiso opened his eyes and shifted his gaze slightly to his right. “Two this time, it seems one is being chased and is in bad shape.” Kiso sighed and thought to himself, “Should I help this time?”

    Over the past four years, there have been many people attempting to seek refuge in the Byuki Forest, but Kiso had chose not to help them. His guilt was mounting though, since those people without help had all perished to the spiritual beasts.

    Yuni seemed to notice Kiso’s spiritual pressure die down, and opened her eyes as well. “Kiso, what is it?”

    “Two more just entered the forest, I’m thinking about helping this one. There has to be a reason so many people are fleeing to this place. Elder Sage had said that before us, he had only seen a handful of other humans enter the forest over the previous century, yet in the past two months, there have been over twenty.” Kiso stood up and turned to face Rolo and Nak’s direction.

    “Wait here, I’ll be right back.” Kiso’s body flickered and disappeared from Yuni’s sight.

    – – –

    Barely any time had passed since Rolo entered the Byuki Forest, before Nak got within range to cast his earthen wall spiritual skill.

    Rolo was running as fast as his legs could and had just seen a smoke stack in the far distance leading to a rise in his spirits, when an earthen wall rose a few feet in front of him causing his face to change, before smashing into it.

    If Rolo had been paying attention, or hadn’t been running so fast, he may not have been too severely injured, but that was not the case. The wall was rock hard and caused Rolo’s already heavily injured body to be paralyzed, unable to move another inch.

    Nak smiled having finally caught his prey and slowed his pace as he approached Rolo’s body quivering on the ground.

    Standing over Rolo, Nak smugly inquired, “It seems your luck finally ran out. For such a weak member of the Thunderblack clan, you sure did survive a long time despite being chased by my honorable self. I respect your drive to live, and so I will hear your last words before I end you. Speak.”

    Rolo struggled to lift his head so he could look into Nak’s eyes as he was searching for anything in his brain that might allow him to escape this calamity.

    Drawing a blank, Rolo could only grunt and ask for a swift death. As he opened his mouth to speak, “Why are you hunting down an honorable member of my esteemed Thunderblack clan?” A cold heartless voice appeared before a dark shroud of energy materialized between Nak and Rolo.

    “!!!…” Nak’s eyes widened as he stared at the slowly dissipating dark shroud, revealing a muscular young teenager with handsome, adult like chiseled features. This was precisely Kiso, now staring coldly into Nak’s eyes, pouring out killing intent.

    Backing up a step from the pressure he felt coming off this youth, Nak tried to recover his prideful aura before angrily snapping, “Can it be you do not have eyes? Or are you just an ignorant country bumpkin who is unaware of my Ichi clan? Regardless, my orders are absolute, from your words, you too are a Thunderblack clan member, which means by coming here you have sought your death.”

    With a cold “hmph”, Nak gather powerful earthen nature spiritual pressure into his arms and legs, as he sprang towards Kiso with his arm raised intending to crush Kiso’s skull in one punch. His speed was raised to his highest level by using earthen energy to strengthen his legs beyond their limit.

    As his fist arc’d down, Kiso did not move, rather he stood smiling as he gathered his now boundless spiritual pressure into his fingertips.

    “I don’t know your name, but since you are about to die, I will let you hear the name of the one who killed you! My name is Kiso Black of the Thunderblack clan! Now go die!”

    Nak’s fist connected with Kiso’s face causing him to be extremely delighted at first, only to discover his fist had continued through the face meeting no resistance.

    Kiso’s afterimage flickered as he reappeared behind Nak, raising his right arm, pointing at him. “Any last words scum?!” Kiso’s killing intent alone pressuring Nak into despair.

    Rapidly twisting around to face the voice bellowing out behind him, Nak opened his mouth, defiantly laughing, “Hahaha, as if you could really……” A black light flashed before he could even finish his sentence as Nak’s entire body disintegrated, his dust scattering into the forest breeze.

    Rolo stared at Kiso’s body, which had black lightning dancing around his outstretched arm. His jaw was powerless to raise itself back up as he was speechless.

    When Rolo’s conscious finally settled down he cried out, “Lord Kiso?! Everyone thought you were dead! Where have been the past four years?!”

    Rolo’s questions were parading out of his mouth without end before Kiso could even turn and look at him.

    “Whoa whoa whoa, slow down, first of all, what is your name senior?” Kiso could tell this man was much older then him and was part of his clan.

    Rolo summoned all his remaining strength to circulate his spiritual energy, healing his paralysis only to kowtow at Kiso’s feet. Tears rolling down his cheeks Rolo cried out, “Young master Kiso, this one’s name is Rolo Black! I am a branch member of the Thunderblack clan, or at least whats left of it!”

    “What do you mean whats left of it?” Kiso’s eyes were widening as various terrible thoughts flooded his mind.

    Rolo, his forehead still dug into the earth, just now realized Kiso was unaware of anything that has happened. Kiso knelt down and lifted Rolo’s face up, gazes meeting, Rolo’s eyes reddened as he began to blubber out words about the past four years.

    “Young master Kiso, your uncle Ulquin betrayed your grandfather. He led a group assassins and killed him in his sleep. After which he took control of the clan, intending to lead us to attack the nearby Jua clan’s valley.” Rolo hesitated, as his red eyes flashed with despair.

    “But before we could even gather an army, the Ichi spies reported Mord’s death and acted first! It seemed like they knew something like this would happen! Everyone at Thunderblack castle was killed, all your servants, your cousins, even those terrible uncles of yours!” Rolo’s last few words were spoken with a strong tone of disdain.

    Kiso just knelt there listening, worry and fury battling each other in his heart, before fury finally won out.

    “Rolo, speak, what about my mother and father?” Kiso’s tone was dead and his eyes lifeless.

    Rolo’s eyes sunk to the ground, he couldn’t bear to look at Kiso while speaking, “While their bodies weren’t found, the village they had been hiding at was annihilated, they haven’t been seen for three and half years.”

    Kiso’s heart broke and his conscious snapped. He stood up, opened a palm summoning a medicinal pill onto it, then dropped it on the ground.

    “Rolo, thank you for this information. I’m leaving now, that is a spiritual pressure pill containing medicinal nature, it should be able to heal your injuries.” Before Rolo could thank him, Kiso’s body flickered as he disappeared.

    To Be Continued!…
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Ten - Heading Back Into the World

    Yuni was leaning up against Kiso’s meditation boulder waiting for him to return with an impatient look on her face. She wasn’t worried about him, as she has been the closest one to Kiso these past four years and knew his power all too well. Her patience was just about to run out when the space in front of her distorted and Kiso appeared.

    A solemn look on his face, Kiso frowned deeply as he reported, “Yuni, we’ve been here long enough, the situation in the valley is grim…” Kiso proceeded to tell Yuni everything Rolo had just informed him of.

    “….” Yuni couldn’t even think of anything to say. The fire in her heart was still burning with desire for revenge and just now it grew ten fold. All her friends and family, all Kiso’s friends and family, most likely dead. “It’s not fair..” She finally said.

    “Yuni, we need to thank Elder Sage for everything he’s done for us, then head out immediately.” Kiso had an excuse to remain training all this time when he thought he was simply protecting himself, but now he felt a serious responsibility to avenge his fallen clan members.

    Nodding, Yuni followed Kiso as he began walking towards Koho’s gigantic ancient body.

    Just as Kiso walked in, Elder Sage was already waiting, standing at that same window, a look of deep sorrow on his face.

    Kiso forced a smile and bowed slightly as Yuni walked up beside him and did the same. He then proceeded to report the situation back home and their plans of immediate vengeance.

    “So, those insufferable Ichi bastards finally made their move huh, that old bastard Jorgan really did stay around, his vision is far too narrow.” Elder Sage had been at odd ends with the founder of the Ichi clan since they first met centuries ago. Nobody else but Jorgan would have the power to overthrow even the remnants of the Thunderblack clan.

    Elder Sage had been able to leave his clan in capable hands originally, but with Mord’s death the clan finally met calamity. Sighing, he turned around to face Kiso and Yuni, “You two, I’ll miss your company. I’ve taught you everything I have to offer, but before you leave, I’d like you to both touch hands with Koho.”

    Kiso raised an eyebrow, he knew what touching hands with Koho represented. It would link their spirits and Koho would be able to tell if either of them had perished. “It seems this old man really cares about us, he even wants to go seek revenge if we get ourselves killed, haha.” Kiso’s heart warmed up as he thought to himself.

    The two of them immediately walked over to Koho, who had a strange expression on her face. She had grown close to Yuni over the past few years and didn’t want to see her leave. Regardless, she knew she couldn’t change their minds, so she smiled bitterly and lifted her palms into the air facing away from herself.

    “Just hold your hands to mine, one at a time, just a few seconds each.” Koho instructed them as Yuni walked up, placing her own hands on Koho’s.

    Inside Yuni’s mind, “Yuni, I’m going to perform a spirit link with you right now, but I am still worried about you, so I’ll give you a little something extra as well.” Koho’s voice was solemn and filled with uneasiness.

    Yuni only felt a searing hot string of energy dash through her arms into her core where the energy took the shape of a flaming arrow.

    “What’s this?” Yuni sent a mental message back to Koho.

    “This is a Soul Piercing Arrow. I only have enough energy to give you one, but it is extremely powerful. The Soul Piercing Arrow disregards physical bodies and penetrates straight into the mind, where the soul is located. Although you are powerful for your age, and have Kiso with you, if you ever leave the Thunderblack Valley and encounter some of the truly powerful people out there, it will serve as a powerful last resort.” Koho replied in Yuni’s mind.

    Koho and Yuni were like mother and daughter, although a Soul Piercing Arrow took Koho almost half of her soul energy to produce, to her, it was well worth it.

    “Thank you Koho, I’ll come back and visit you for sure, so don’t go anywhere!” Yuni teased, as she knew Koho was incapable of moving.

    “One more thing Yuni,” Koho’s face lightened and a warm teasing smile graced her beautiful face, ” you need to let that little punk Kiso know how you feel. You’ve been complacent long enough. When you were younger, I considered perhaps your feeling were shallow and without true bearing. However, over the past few years, your mind would have changed if that was the case, yet I can still see the love in your eyes when you look at him. If you leave it up to him, perhaps another girl will snatch him away while your not looking.”

    Yuni has matured a great deal over the last four years, and her former petite cute self, has almost completely matured. She had curves in all the right places and her beauty has clearly risen several levels.

    After hearing Koho’s words in her mind, she entire face turned beat red as she quickly dropped her face to stare at the floor, attempting to hide her blushing face.

    Kiso took note of Yuni’s strange behavior and sighed to himself, “These two sure like to meddle, how could I truly be ignorant of their schemes…” He already knew they were likely saying their goodbyes, including a certain few words of advice from Koho which would explain Yuni’s current awkwardness.

    It’s not that Kiso disliked Yuni, her personality, along with her earth shattering good looks, have come a long way since they first met. If he had to say one way or the other, he’d say that rather then dislike, he really did carry strong feeling towards her.

    However Kiso’s willpower and maturity were far beyond his years and he recognized they were still very young. An intimate relationship was something he was in no hurry to press towards.

    Shaking his head to himself slightly, Kiso walked forward after Yuni finished to accept Koho’s spirit link.

    Koho stared deep into Kiso’s eyes as he extended his hands towards her own. As he hands finally reached her own, a strange light flashed through her eyes and an odd, dull energy slowly entered Kiso’s body.

    Just as Kiso was startled and was going to pull his hands away, a voice rang in his mind, “Don’t pull away, Koho is transferring you something special.” Elder Sage’s warning stilled Kiso’s worry.

    He continued, “What Koho is transferring you, is the spirit energy of an infant spiritual beast. When your own spirit power reaches a certain level, you will be able to materialize this infant spirit beast. The spiritual beast you materialize will depend on yourself, it could be a useless lizard or a mighty dragon. This sort of spiritual beast energy is unique, and I only found it by chance, however I could never hope to reach the energy level required to materialize it. So, I will give it to you, perhaps one day it will remind you of me and you might be considerate enough to pay an old man a visit.”

    Kiso’s eyes suddenly reddened and teared up. Never before has Kiso felt this emotion, not even when he thought he parents might possibly be dead.

    Elder Sage had basically treated Kiso like his own son the past four years. Not just that, but they also shared a student-teacher relationship, further deepening their bond.

    Upon hearing Elder Sage’s words, Kiso suddenly felt a strong desire to stay behind, yet he knew there was nothing left here for him to learn. If there was nothing left to learn, that was still not enough reason to part with the old man he had come to respect the most in the world, but now an inextinguishable fire was lit in his heart. A fire born from rage and vengeance.

    “Elder Sage, I….” Kiso started to speak, but suddenly changed his mind, “I’ll miss you, I know your working on something special with Koho, perhaps if you can finally complete it, you will be the one coming and looking for me!” Kiso pulled his hands away after Koho gave him a nod, then bowed at the waist as far as he could towards him.

    A single drop of water hit the floor of the room, after which Kiso straightened his back, turned, and left with Yuni.

    – – – – –

    The day is fading and autumn leaves are blowing across the Byuki grasslands. Autumn in the Thunderblack valley is a very cool and pleasant temperature.

    Kiso and Yuni had decided to travel on foot, and left the forest several days ago.

    They have been traveling slowly, while asking around for information in the various villages they passed, en route to Thunderblack Castle.

    “Kiso, I can’t stand it. The looks these villagers give us are full of scorn and defiance. It seems the Ichi clan has truly taken over the entire valley!” Yuni pouted as a village faded into the distance at their backs.

    Just as Kiso was about to laugh and console Yuni, a strange scene came into view.

    A few hundred meters further along the road, a group of dark cloaked men were standing in a circle around a bloody corpse on the ground.

    Kiso recognized the cloaks the men were wearing to be that of the Ichi clan, as Nak had been wearing the same exact one.

    Kiso immediately spread out his spiritual pressure to discover the corpse on the ground was that of a female, and she was still alive, if just barely.

    Standing above that bloody girl clinging to life, the captain of this Ichi squad, Ugo, wore an evil grim full of malice. “Little Thunderblack girl, did you truly think you could save your parents? The Thunderblack clan is finished, your life is over, I may have granted you a swift death had you not acted against my Ichi clan!”

    The second Ugo finished speaking, among the laughs and taunts of his companions, he gathered spiritual pressure, materializing a large boulder capable of easily crushing the powerless girl.

    The boulder held itself in the air for a few moments while the girl stared up at it, tears running down her cheeks. She was a victim of the valley invasion. Her parents had hid her away during the raid on her village a few months ago and had been captured in the process. She felt an unimaginable amount of grief and regret as she heard her parents pleading for their lives before they were ultimately knocked out and dragged away. After learning where her parents had been taken, she mustered what was left of her willpower and infiltrated the prison camp in an attempt to rescue them. What she found however, were only corpses, her parents had been beheaded among hundreds of other Thunderblack clansmen.

    The sight of her headless parents drove her mad with grief and she immediately was discovered as she could not contain herself from crying out. The Ichi squad in charge of the prison camp was a particularly sinister one, and decided to play with her, allowing her to run, while they chased and occasionally shot small rocks at her, leaving her skin bruised and her bones fractured.

    Now, after having finally succumbed to the relentless torture of pursuit, she could only stare up at the boulder above her, as her soul screamed out for someone to save her. Even if her desire to live was weak after the death of her parents, it was not dead, and she greatly wished to avenge them.

    And so she mustered all her remaining strength to cry out, “YOU BASTARDS! I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THEIR IS NO JUSTICE IN THIS WORLD AND YOU SHALL SURELY HAVE YOURS!”

    Having vented her grief, she prepared herself for the next world, and tightly clenched her eyes, still unwilling to die.

    The words of the girl startled Kiso, he had thought she was beyond saving. He was already planning to avenge her as she was obviously a member of his clan, but her cry out was like a slap to his face.

    Kiso gathered his spiritual pressure into all five finger tips, each one aiming at a different target.

    The boulder began to fall, but before it could even drop half the distance to the girl, a flash of black light struck against the boulder, instantly vaporizing it.

    The girl, who had been expecting certain death, suddenly felt a fine powder cover her body. The next thing she heard shocked her eyes open, as four thuds coming from where the men had previously been, rang in her ears.

    To Be Continued!
  • Chapter Eleven - The Herbalist's Daughter

    The empty, cloudless sky, which should be blocked from view, instead laid bare before her eyes. Those evil men, previously towering above her, taunting her with their cold laughs and cruel words, gone. She struggled in attempt to move her neck, but found her strength to be unable to do so. She could only stare into the sky in disbelief as she wondered, "What just happened? Did someone save me?"

    A shadow covered her face and she stared up at a handsome youth, seemingly a few years younger then herself. He crouched down and gave her a warm smile. Then with a voice to match the smile he asked her, "Sister, what is your name? You are a Thunderblack clanswoman right?"

    She opened her mouth to respond, but found herself unable to speak.

    The youth frowned, "Those bastards really were merciless... Yuni, she's almost dead, quickly, heal her!"

    After hearing those words, she regained a thread of hope, then blacked out.

    - - - - -

    A warmth akin to a mother's womb reeled the young girl's conscious back from the abyss.

    Mumbled voices gradually started becoming clearer as she laid unwilling to open her eyes yet.

    "Yuni, I still don't understand how your lightning nature underwent a variation. Why is it every time I ask you, all I get is your silly little giggle but no answer?" A male voice finally became audible.

    The girl, Yuni, just giggled and answered, "Kiso, I already told you, it has something to do with Koho's meditation method for healing nature!"

    "I don't understand how you could fuse lightning and healing natures, it shouldn't be possible!" Kiso, the young man, seemed a little vexed.

    "Actually you should know I can use the standard healing technique your mother taught me as well, but for anyone with a lightning nature core I can use the fused version!" Yuni responded then continued, "Kiso, you yourself fused your lightning nature and darkness nature, why is it so hard to believe I could fuse my lightning spiritual pressure into a healing technique?"

    A lengthy silence followed those words, as a warm prickling sensation roamed around the girl's body attacking the parts that still hurt.

    "Wait, Kiso? As in Kiso Black?! Wasn't he dead?!" Finally the words seemed to dawn on the girl as her eyes couldn't help but open wide.

    Her strength has recovered a lot to this point and she struggled to raise her head, hoping to get a glimpse of Kiso.

    As she raised her head however, a soft hand pressed down on her forehead and pushed it back to the ground. "Elder sister, I'm not done healing you, please keep still." That 'Yuni' reprimanded her in a warm voice.

    Tears began to form in the girl's eyes as she opened her mouth, this time the words she wanted to come out, came, "Who are you two? Kiso and Yuni? Are you Kiso Black?"

    The silhouette of that same young man came into her view as he leaned over to show his face.

    He smiled and replied, "I am indeed Kiso Black and this is Yuni, we have been hiding in the Ancient Byuki Forest for the past four years. I hope you can tell me sister's name?"

    "Sara...Sara Black.."

    She spoke her name, then fatigue caught up and she passed out again.

    - - - - -

    "Kiso look, she's finally waking up again!" Yuni had finished healing her and was busy washing her body with a wet cloth.

    Kiso had originally turned his back to the two of them at Yuni's request, as she would need to remove Sara's clothes to wash some parts.

    Sara, although a few years older then Kiso and Yuni, was still only 16-17 years old. After she had been washed by Yuni, Kiso clearly could see she was also very pretty. Although Yuni would still win by a few levels, Sara was certainly not bad.

    She had long messy emerald hair and an oval face covered with dainty features. Her eyes being the exception, they were emerald like her hair, but a size larger then the average girl. Her body was thin, seemingly a reflection of her recent struggles, but still had two perky breasts and her long legs were admittingly desirable.

    When Yuni spoke Kiso turned back around in response, Sara's body laid bare before him. He quickly snapped his head away, hoping he hadn't been seen taking an accidental peak.

    He had been too late, both Yuni and Sara had seen him turn around. When he quickly looked away, Sara finally noticed a gentle breeze against her bare body, Yuni's hand on her stomach, holding a wet cloth. Her face went red, but she wouldn't dare reprimand the man who saved her life.

    Yuni on the other hand, shot a scolding look at Kiso's back before sighing, "Sorry Sara, that was my fault.."

    Sara was embarrassed for several reasons. She had never shown her body to another man, yet now it was revealed so easily and to a stranger no less. Not just any stranger either, an extremely handsome one, who just so happened to be that Kiso.

    She quickly shook her head, "It's okay Yuni, although embarrassing, I wouldn't even be able to feel so, if it wasn't for you two..."

    Yuni waved her hand and a short white dress appeared. "Take this, I don't think we can save your other clothes." Sara followed Yuni's gaze as she saw her clothes covered in mud and riddled with holes. Then she looked back at the dress in Yuni's hands, noticing a ring made of wood on Yuni's finger.

    Sara put the white dress on, along with a pair of fresh white panties, also Yuni's.

    "Thank you Yuni." Sara thanked Yuni and she walked over to Kiso's front. 

    "Kiso, thank you for saving this life on mine." Kowtowing, she continued, "Your elder sister here is from Blackspark village. I am the only daughter of the village herbalist. My father taught me everything regarding the family trade, if you would permit it, could I possibly join you and Yuni? There is nothing else left for me in this world..." Her voice cracked in emotion and Kiso could hear her soft sobs.

    Frowning, Kiso looked down at Sara's kowtowing figure. Kiso didn't like to see his elders kowtow, especially beautiful women. He quickly lowered his body and used his hand to raise her face from the earth.

    "Sara, please don't act on such ceremony with me, although Yuni and I agreed not to let anyone else come with us, I believe we can make an exception." Kiso shot a glance at Yuni, who was nodding while smiling, before continuing, "However, you should know we do not intend to escape the valley. We are heading for Thunderblack castle right now, intending to avenge our lost family." A murderous killing intent leaked from Kiso's eyes.

    "Ah!" Sara's mouth dropped a little as she felt the pressure from Kiso's killing intent.

    Her body shuddered and her mind went blank. When she came back to herself, it had only been a couple of seconds, but it felt like several hours.

    Kiso noticed her face drain some color and quickly apologized, "Sorry Sara, but you should know the situation has weighed heavily on our hearts. Without vengeance, Yuni and I will not be able to move forward." A complicated expression painted his face as he looked back at Yuni, who was walking over, but had lowered her gaze now.

    Kiso's words caused Sara to remember the past four years and her own eyes shone a determined fire.

    Yuni reached their side and added, "Sara, it might be better for you to escape the valley. If you couldn't even deal with those men, the danger ahead might be too much."

    Kiso nodded solemnly, adding, "That's true, if you come with us, you should be prepared for the worst. Although I will do my best to protect you, I can't make any guarantees."

    Sara's expression grew stern, as she thought about something for a few moments, then shook her head and said, "No, the danger escaping the valley alone is too much for me, I think following you two is definitely safer. Don't worry about me, if you cannot protect me, nobody can." She tried to force a smile, recognizing her uselessness, she added, "Although I can't protect myself, I can refine herbal pills."

    Kiso had heard about the various herbal pills from Elder Sage. He had even been given several medicinal nature pills. 

    His eyes lit up a little, "Alright, then we'll leave immediately."

    A fierce expression told hold of his face as his gaze met the headless bodies several tens of meters away from their camp. He knew what had to be done and gathered spiritual pressure into his fingertips. One by one, he vaporized the bodies, leaving only dark ashy spots where the bodies had been.

    Before they set off, he turned to the two girls following behind him, Sara's expression was complicated. He could tell she thought of him as ruthless and cold, yet she was still determined to follow him. He smiled saying, "Sara, you've seen the methods of the Ichi clan, and just a little while ago, I saw them too. Although I don't like being ruthless, right now it is the only option!"

    Yuni knew Kiso's temperament well and added, "Kiso is kind at heart, or you wouldn't be here to know it. The Ichi clan killed my parents and everyone we knew at Thunderblack castle, for all we know Kiso's parents are dead too. They deserve our vengeance and we cannot afford to be soft."

    Sara just smiled bitterly and looked off into the distance saying, "I think you two misunderstand me a little, I wasn't unhappy with Kiso's actions. Rather, I was admiring his power. I have never seen such powerful lightning, not even our village chief could vaporize a boulder."

    Kiso chuckled and his impression of Sara rose a little.

    The three of them continued the journey towards Thunderblack castle, which was only a few days walk away if they didn't meet any resistance.

    - - - - -

    Walking along the road, which split the Byuki grasslands, Kiso had walked several tens of meters ahead, leaving the girls to talk in private.

    Sara had been staring at Kiso's back for some time before finally asking, "Yuni, what is your relationship with Kiso?"

    Yuni knew the question was coming, she had seen Sara's face and eyes filled with admiration. 

    "Kiso and I grew up together. We lived near each other in the castle and have been training together in the Ancient Byuki Forest the past four years." Yuni spoke with a little hesitation in her voice.

    She was about to continue when Sara suddenly said, "Not that, I mean, are you two....together??"

    Yuni could only smite bitterly and said, "Ah, that.. Well, no."

    Sara's face brightened considerably, then she looked over to Yuni, who wore gloomy expression. Upon seeing Yuni's face, Sara realized the situation and her bright face darkened.

    She shook her head and said, "I think I understand, you love him right?"

    Sara's sudden question made Yuni's body quiver and her face went red, but she nodded.

    Sara could only sigh in her heart but she smiled anyway and asked, "Then, have you told him?"

    Yuni shook her head and lowered her gaze to the ground before saying, "Kiso doesn't need any distractions right now, I don't want him to get himself hurt worrying about me."

    Sara stared blankly, then laughed loudly, "Yuni! You are adorable! Alright, although elder sister thinks highly of Kiso, I will back down just this once.."

    Yuni looked up at Sara, then smiled, she knew Sara probably fell for Kiso too. After all, he did save her life and he was truly handsome.

    Caught up in their own world, before they realized it, they bumped into Kiso's back, who had stopped and was staring into the distance.

    They had been walking up a large hill, now at the top, they looked down following Kiso's gaze.

    A half mile away, a village nestled next to a river could be seen, a single plume of black smoke stretched into the sky.

    Sara's face was dumbstruck, she hadn't realized it, but they had just walked into view of Blackspark village.

    "Ah!" Sara cried out in alarm as she could see a silhouette of a young girl running from two men in black robes.

    Abandoning Kiso and Yuni, Sara ran forward as fast as she could towards that young girl. Behind her, Kiso had also reacted, running quickly behind her, he asked, "Sara, who is that girl? Is she someone you know?"

    Sara was startled, she quickly said while struggling for breath, "That's the village chief's daughter Jihu! She's only eight Kiso, we can't let those men catch her!"

    Kiso's face grew savage as his body flickered and disappeared, reappearing between the girl and the two men.

    His arm raised, he barked, "You two! Stop right there!"

    To Be Continued!
  • Chapter Twelve - Battle At Blackspark

    The two men, who had been chasing the young girl with savage faces full of malicious intent, stared blankly at the young man who had just appeared out of thin air.

    Kiso's arm was raised at a ninety degree angle, pointing two fingers at the men.

    These men were the scum of the earth, but they had a brain. If this young man was able to appear out of thin air, he wasn't someone easy to deal with. While they had the pride of belonging to the Ichi clan, they were just a couple of low level grunts. 

    Thus, they exchanged glances, seeming to convey each other's feelings through their eyes.

    The two men, to Kiso's surprise, feel to the ground in the kowtow position, and pleaded for their lives, "Young master! Your two servants here were just trying to capture the escaped prisoner on orders from our captain! Our brains were broken and were unaware she was related to such a powerful person! Please spare us this one time!"

    What added to their decision to plea for their lives, were the sparks of black lightning flickering around Kiso's fingers. The Ichi clan had a clear understanding in regards to the various levels of lightning the Thunderblack clan.

    Kiso hadn't expected the insufferable Ichi clan to display humility so readily and was speechless for a few moments. He sighed and turned his neck to face the young girl who had fell to the ground with tears in her eyes.

    "Little sister, big brother does not wish to kill a couple of ants who have already decided not to fight, but if little sister was wronged too deeply.... Shall I let them return?" Kiso felt a little bad about leaving the decision in the hands of an eight year old girl, but he was interfering for her sake in the first place.

    The girl's face contorted and tears continuously fell down her cheeks. She seemed to be remembering a conglomerate of horrible memories all at once. After several tens of seconds she calmed down slightly and stood up, dusting herself off.

    Having been raised the village chief's daughter, she was intelligent for her age and had an arrogant nature to match.

    She was half Kiso's height and her current appearance suggested she had been living in a dirty prison cell for several months. Her clothes were torn and ragged, her face was covered in dirt, and her hair which was probably a beautiful blonde originally now appeared brown.

    She choked out a few words through her hiccups from crying, "Big broth..hic..er, these two were the ones that personally assaulted my...hic... mother and forced her to..." Her face started to contort again into one that no young girl should ever be forced to display.

    Kiso didn't need to hear another word. He jerked his head back and the two men had already raised their heads, the faces visibly drained of all color.

    Although Kiso would prefer to make two such men suffer a slow death, in the presence of the innocent young girl he would not dare to do so.

    Instead, he asked them, "Tell me, before you leave this world, who is your captain and how many Ichi clansmen are currently in Blackspark village?"

    The men were not prideful or loyal creatures to begin with and thought to themselves, "If we're going to die, those selfish bastards back in the village deserve to be brought down with us!"
    The larger of the two men spoke out quickly, "Young master, our captain's name is Thenion, he is one of the two major elders of the Ichi clan! As his power is worth several hundred of lowly servants like ourselves, there are only eight other clansmen other then ourselves!"

    Kiso studied the eyes of the large man, probing his body with his spiritual pressure to detect fluctuations in his heart. After concluding that the man was not lying, Kiso snorted disdainfully and let the energy in his fingers burst forth. The two men had strange grins on their faces as their ashes scattered into the wind.

    Kiso stood pondering their strangely happy faces for a moment before he felt a tug at his waist. The young girl had glued herself to his side and was staring up at him with pleading eyes.

    Kiso could sense she wanted to ask him something and smiled down at her, "Little sister Jihu, what is it?"

    Sara had told Kiso Jihu's name earlier, but it wasn't necessary. He knew who she was as she had been with her father at the youth trials. Her father was the Blackspark village chief and an elder of the Thunderblack clan, his name was Joro Black. Joro was one of the elders that sat on the same stage as his grandfather during the youth trials. Jihu had been sitting happily in his lap during that time.

    A strange look appeared on Jihu's face as she didn't recall ever meeting Kiso before, "Big brother, how do you know my name?"

    Kiso's smile grew and he replied warmly, "Jihu, my name is Kiso, you and your father met me four years ago at Thunderblack castle, do you remember?"

    Jihu's face brightened and she tugged harder on Kiso's clothes.

    "Big brother K....K....Kiso!!! You have to save papa!!" Jihu cried out in a mixture of excitement and distress.

    At this time, Sara and Yuni finally caught up, just in time to hear Jihu's words.

    Kiso felt their presence and turned towards them. Sara's eyes were a size larger and her mouth hung open while Yuni stared at Jihu, seeming to recall the little girl from somewhere.

    Sara quickly recovered and dropped to a knee next to Jihu, "The chief is still alive?! Are you certain Jihu?"

    Jihu received another wave of excitement as she looked down from Kiso to see Sara's face. She let go of his clothes and threw herself into Sara's embrace saying, "Big sister Sara your alive! I never thought I would see you again!" Jihu collected herself and stood up walking back a few steps to look a three friendly faces before lowering her waist at a ninety degree angle.

    Bowing, she started to ask again, "Big sister Sara, big brother Kiso, after I escaped my cell today I saw my father on the way out! He was still alive...but his body was..." A few drops of water fell from eyes.

    Kiso walked forward and knelt down in front of Jihu, raising her head with his hand.

    "Don't worry Jihu, I'll save your father and take care of those evil men." He spoke straight to the point with a warm smile on his face before lifting himself back up and turning to face the other two girls.

    "You two stay here and look after Jihu, I'll be back." His body flickered and disappeared.

    Yuni frowned and complained out loud to no one in particular, "Left behind again, I'm getting sick of that technique of his..."

    - - - - -

    Blackspark village is a smaller village, only a half mile in diameter. Despite its small size though, it's a major fortress in Thunderblack valley. Ten meter high walls surround the entire village and there are only two gates to enter or leave the village.
    Stationed at each gate are two black cloaked Ichi clansmen. They take shifts standing above the gate monitoring the road leading into the village.

    The two guards at the first gate are chatting cheerfully standing only a half meter away from each other.

    "Do you think those two will kill that little girl first? or..." They knew what kind of men those two were and were taking bets between themselves regarding her fate.

    Before they continued any further, they both felt a strong hand grasp their shoulders. Turning to look at the owner of the hand, they saw a young man with a devious smile on his face.

    "You two need not worry about that little girl any more..." The young man's smile turned upside down and his grip strengthened.

    Kiso had used his skyshadow technique to travel through the wind directly between the two guards in time to hear their bet. After he heard what they said, he placed his hands on their shoulders and gathered his spiritual pressure throughout his hands.

    With a scolding sendoff, he released his lightning nature spiritual pressure through every pore on his hands.

    The lightning entered the two men's bodies overtaking their own spiritual pressure in the blink of an eye before disintegrating every cell of their body.

    If they had higher spiritual pressure, it must be known that Kiso's lightning would not be so effective. But this is Kiso, how could his own spiritual pressure be low? Every person he has come across are like ants to him.

    After taking care of the guards on the first gate, Kiso spread out his spiritual pressure to encompass the entire village. He located the other six Ichi clansmen by detecting their earthen nature spiritual pressure. 

    Strangely, his spiritual pressure wasn't able to encompass one particular area inside of the chief's palace.

    Kiso thought to himself, "What is this? Someone's spiritual pressure is high enough to even repel my own? It must be that Ichi clan elder.."

    He quickly decided to take care of the branches before confronting the trunk.

    Raising three fingers on each hand above his head, he closed his eyes and focused on those six earthen nature spiritual pressures. Confirming their locations, he gathered his spiritual pressure into his fingertips and allowed it to flow out freely. 

    Six snakes of black lightning shot out in several different directions, vaporizing and obstacle impeding their path. When the lightning reached the six men, they were killed without knowing how or why.

    Confirming the results, Kiso smiled and his body flickered and disappeared from the gate's roof.

    - - - - -

    Inside the main room of the chief's palace there were several disheveled men and women on their knees facing the throne where the chief would normally sit.

    On that throne sat an ancient looking man with a murderous look on his face. He was wearing long black robes and his face resembled a naked mole rat, bald and wrinkly.

    His cold heartless eyes stared down at the dozen or so people kneeling several meters in front of him, their gazes still filled with fire.

    He spoke to the man situated in the middle asking, "Joro Black, haven't you let your family suffer enough? All you have to do is tell me where Mord's son Han is hiding and I will release your family and grant you a swift death."

    Joro's eyes were resolute, he had discussed what would happen if their village fell into enemy hands the same day the Ichi clan invaded Thunderblack valley. Although he had suggested that they go into hiding or escape the valley, unexpectedly every one of them balked at the notion intending to stay by his side. He knew the willpower of his family members, and that they didn't fear death.

    He lifted his fiery gaze from the ground in front of him to stare into that ancient man's eyes as he spoke the same words as he had countless times before, "Thenion Ichi, Han is dead, you won't find him in this life."

    Thenion, that ancient man sitting on the throne, seemed to be at the end of his patience.

    He growled under his voice as he finally gave up, "You impudent man, you truly have earned my admiration. If our clansmen were this loyal, I could die worry free. Since you refuse to tell me the truth, I have no use for you." Thenion chuckled a little then added, "Say hello to Han for me."

    A yellow colored aura seeped from Thenion's clothes and engulfed him, even his pupils turned a golden color yellow.

    On both sides of the kneeling men and women, two giant earthen walls rose from the palace floor. The two walls stretched several meters in every measure. After they rose from the ground, Thenion snorted coldly, then lifted his arms into the air out to his sides, slowly beginning to bring them together in front of him.

    As his arms started to come towards each other, the walls shook and began make grinding noises as they moved closer together.

    Joro's eyes reddened as he glanced back and forth at the walls and the faces of his closest family. He could see the distress in their faces. If they had not been bound to the ground by strong earthen shackles, perhaps they would even attempt to run.

    The walls came within one meter of the nearest kneeling men when they suddenly stopped.
    Confused, Joro and his family looked up to see the back of a young man standing between them and Thenion.

    The young man glanced back at them, then his face turned ugly to behold quickly snapping back to face Thenion sitting on the throne. Black lightning was leaking from the young man, roaming up and down his entire body.

    Thenion's expression turned savage as well and he rose to his feet exclaiming, "Who are you?!"

    Kiso saw the methods of this old man and simply would not even give him the satisfaction of knowing who killed him.

    Snorting coldly, Kiso bent his knees and gathered all of his spiritual pressure into a single finger, pointing and Thenion's head. The black lightning that had been roaming his body flowed towards his fingertip condensing in a ball an inch from his fingertip.

    Sensing the danger, Thenion prepared to receive the attack. He released his spiritual pressure on the walls he previously raised. The moment the young man before him released his attack, he would raise a thick earthen wall in front of him to block.

    Kiso had his spiritual pressure zone active however, and noticed the gathering of earthen nature energy on the floor in front of Thenion. He snorted coldly then his body flickered and he disappeared.

    Thenion stared blankly for a moment before jerking his neck to his left in time to see Kiso's black lightning ball, now half a meter in diameter, race towards his face.

    To Be Continued!!!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Thirteen - They're Alive

    The twisting ball of lightning racing towards Thenion caused every hair on his body to stand tall. He knew if he let that ball of lightning make contact with him, it would devour every cell it touched.

    A normal Ichi clansmen wouldn't have had the reaction time to even struggle, but how could one of two pillars of the clan be so weak?

    Thenion, although he appeared very old, was a spiritual pressure cultivator, his body was still in very good shape. When the ball of lightning was still halfway between Kiso and himself, he sprang backwards increasing the distance between the two while simultaneously waving his arms gathering a large cluster of earthen nature energy in the path of the lightning ball. The earthen energy raced into a singular location, forming a wall of earth which appeared to hard and smooth like iron.

    Forming iron walls for an earthen nature cultivator can be said to be a high level technique and was precisely Thenion's greatest ability.

    The lightning ball collided with the iron wall, causing it to violently shake before bursting into several hundred shards. The wall shattered, but the lightning ball was dissipated.

    Kiso hadn't ever encountered someone who could resist his lightning and was significantly shocked.

    "This old man isn't simple.." Kiso immediately gathered spiritual pressure once more, preparing to followup his initial attack.

    Thenion was endlessly shocked, far more then Kiso, as even Mord's white lightning had been unable to leave a mark on his iron wall during their last battle. If a simple wall was his best technique however, he would not be one of the pillars on the Ichi clan. He quickly gathered an even more intense earthen energy as several metallic snakes coiled up Kiso's legs, binding him to the ground.

    Directly following the metallic snake binding, he gathered energy into several areas surrounding Kiso, forming five metallic spikes pointing inwards.

    By now, Kiso had recovered from being shocked as well and was continuously gathering more and more spiritual pressure into a single hand. The black lightning poured out of his palm stretching out as he continuously mustered spiritual pressure until the black lightning took shape. The black lightning in Kiso's hand took the shape of a thin sword, which flickered as the shape changed periodically.

    Thenion noticed the black lightning sword and a strange sense of dread washed over him. He grit his teeth and urged the metallic spikes together. When the metallic spikes collided with each other sparks flew and Thenion secretly rejoiced.

    The scene before him however was beyond his imagination.

    The spikes had hit empty air.

    As Kiso was watching the spikes fly towards him, he simply merged with the wind, executing the Skyshadow technique. His body flickered and he reappeared directly behind Thenion, less then a meter away.

    Thenion's face seemed to reject what was happening, as disbelief was painted all over it.

    When Kiso reappeared, he raised his black lightning sword, directly stabbing towards Thenion's skull.

    Thenion sensed the impending doom and gathered earthen spiritual pressure into his skin on his skull. His skin transformed into the same metallic iron that he had previously used to create the wall, snakes, and spikes.

    When the black lightning sword made contact with Thenion's iron skull, it violently vibrated causing Kiso's hand to become numb. After a moments clash, the metallic skull gave way and Kiso's black sword pierced directly into Thenion's brain killing him instantly.

    Kiso sighed in relief as the black lightning sword retreated back into his palm. He shook his hand and grimaced slightly from the pain.

    "This Thenion old fellow was quite powerful, he even forced me to use the Blacklight Sword.." Kiso thought.

    The Blacklight Sword was the condensation of spiritual pressure into an effective striking weapon. Its power was much greater then standard ranged attacking methods, but required Kiso to fight in close combat. He had developed this technique only recently following the suggestions of Elder Sage.

    As Kiso stood nursing his sore hand, he suddenly felt a large number of eyes fixated on him. When he looked over, those men and women were staring at him in astonishment.

    Kiso scanned over them and located Joro, to whom he smiled and called out, "Uncle Joro, I'm here on behalf of a certain young lady, any guesses who that might be?"

    Hearing Kiso's words, Joro wanted to jump up in excitement, but instead hurt himself as his wrists were still bound to the ground.

    Seeing him grimace in pain, Kiso didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

    Kiso walked over to Joro and knelt down, summoning spiritual pressure into a finger tip. He used his spiritual pressure to form a small black lightning knife which he used to cut his restraints.

    Hands freed, Joro stood up and bowed deeply to Kiso saying, "Joro pays his respects to the young master. Thank you for saving our little lives."

    Kiso nodded and smiled warmly then walked between the remaining bound men and women and freed them as well.

    After freeing the last woman, Kiso stood up and turned to Joro to say, "Uncle Joro, Jihu and my companions are waiting outside the village, do you have the strength to walk with me?"

    Although Joro was weak and malnourished, the prospect of being reunited with his daughter energized his weak body. He quickly responded, "Of course! Lead the way Kiso."

    Kiso smiled and turned slowly started walking towards the palace exit when a young man couldn't help but blurt out, "Young master Kiso! Where have you been? How did you escape Thunderblack castle?"

    Joro shot a fierce glance at the young man but quickly his own curiosity got the best of and he added, "Did you come here on orders from your father?"

    "My father?" Kiso dared not rejoice prematurely, however he couldn't resist a small spark of hope.

    He looked over at Joro who was following close behind him and used his spiritual pressure to send a mental message to him, "Joro do you know where my father is?"

    Joro frowned when he heard the message in his mind as he shook his head, then replied by sending a message back to Kiso's mind, "No, but I know that he shouldn't have been caught yet. The Ichi clansmen have loud mouths and they've been telling stories about your father. They say that he's been leading a group of survivors, traveling around the valley attacking Ichi clan squads."

    Kiso's face brightened and he quickly sent another mental message, "And my mother?"

    Joro smiled and this time spoke out, "Nine out of ten, they're both alive."

    "Great!!!" Kiso couldn't hide his excitement, nor did he wish to. Instead, he motioned for Joro and the others to follow, adding, "Anyone who wishes to hear about where I've been and what I've been doing can follow and listen to the story."

    Every person present quickly ran up to follow Kiso with anticipation in their eyes. His display of power just now left them full of hope regarding their future.

    - - - - -

    Kiso and Joro's family walked slowly through the desolate village. The sun is beginning it descent from the peak of the sky taking with it the warmth it usually offers.

    As Kiso is walking and telling his story, he can't help but look around, observing the aftermath of the invasion.

    Almost every building is heavily damaged and there are corpses scattered around, without a proper burial. Every time Kiso sees a corpse of a young child, he feels a rage grow in his heart. As they approach the gate he finished telling his story. It didn't take long as he just gave the gist of it leaving out most of the secrets, especially that of the Elder Sage.

    When Kiso reached the gate, he turned around to face Joro and his family. His face was solemn as he studied the faces of the men and women he saved before speaking, "Joro, you can continue following me but everyone else can go get some rest. You all are the survivors of Blackspark village and will need to regain your strength for the days to come." Kiso glanced around at a few corpses and destroyed homes.

    The survivors followed his glances and instantly realized what he meant. Their own faces lost the excitement and awe previously painted by Kiso's story, replaced by a collective sorrowful frown. The eldest man spoke for them this time and he hoarsely said, "We will do as young master Kiso says. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for saving us!"

    The rest nodded in agreement shooting grateful eyes at Kiso before turning and walking in various directions. Kiso watched them for a bit and what he saw made his solemn face brighten slightly. Rather then return to their homes to rest, they dragged their tired bodies around beginning to clean up their village.

    Joro smiled at Kiso and said, "My family and I were lucky to keep our lives, we will not forget young master's benevolence." 

    Kiso shook his head but returned the smile then motioned for him to follow.

    - - - - -

    From atop the hill overlooking Blackspark village, three small figures were currently seated closely together observing the gate in anticipation.

    When Kiso and Joro finally emerged from the gate Yuni was the first to notice. She happily sprang to her feet lifting Jihu with her as she pointed towards the gate and said, "Jihu look!"

    Jihu squinted her eyes and although a half mile is far she could easily make out that familiar silhouette.

    Relief and happiness filled the young girl's face as her lips curved up into a dazzling smile. She couldn't help but start running as fast as her little legs would take her.

    In the distance, one of the silhouettes seemed to notice and separated from the other as Joro began running as well.

    Kiso and the two girls could only feel their hearts warm as they ran after the two of them.

    In a few short minutes they reached each other, Jihu jumped into Joro's embrace and they spun around several times before Joro fell backwards into the grass still hugging Jihu.

    Jihu was the first to speak through her happy sobs, "Father! I knew they couldn't kill you!"

    Joro just laughed and held Jihu one level tighter.

    Their reunion was a beautiful scene, causing happy tears to form in Yuni and Sara's eyes.

    After a few minutes Joro sat up, Jihu taking that same seat in his lap she had at the youth trials. Attempting to put on a serious face Joro again said, "Kiso I truly owe you my life, if I had known today would come to be, I would've fought with everything I had against your..."

    Kiso frowned, "My uncles?"

    Joro's gaze lowered as he nodded adding, "Right, although I never agreed with their decision, I was one of the few. All I could do was return here and hope your grandfather would persevere on his own."

    Kiso's anger swelled as he thought of his uncles betraying their own father. He was angry that he wouldn't be able to take revenge for himself as they had already been killed by the Ichi clan.

    Joro could see the change in Kiso's face, his own anger was swelling as well when he suddenly remembered something.

    He blurted out, "Young master! You need to hurry to Thunderblack castle before it's too late!"

    Kiso was pulled from his anger and with a puzzled expression he queried, "Before it's too late?"

    Joro quickly nodded adding, "Right! When Thenion was interrogating me, he was attempting to get information about your father from me, but that's not all! The biggest reason the Ichi clan set their devilish eyes on our valley was because of the legend behind our clan!"

    Kiso couldn't help a single eyebrow from raising, "What legend, how come I haven't heard of this?"

    "You're Mord's grandson and would have been told at your coming of age ceremony when you turn 15. Here, read this, it contains the prophecy that initially led Magnum Black to this valley!" Joro quickly produced a scroll from his DS ring.

    The prophecy scroll was already common knowledge amongst the Ichi clan elders therefore Thenion hadn't felt the need part Joro from his ring.

    Kiso took the scroll from Joro's hands and quickly unwound it.

    The scroll read:

    In the fourth valley of the western human province Sangrad Mountains, an ancient powerful artifact rests hidden away, awaiting the day its master will find it.

    The artifact will bring a single great fortune to the one whom it recognizes as worthy.

    Kiso finished reading the prophecy and looked over at Joro, raising his eyebrow again he asked, "The Ichi clan would slaughter all these people just for a shot in the dark?"

    Joro shook his head and said, "Young master, over the years the artifact was located by our clan. However, nobody was recognized by the artifact and so it was hidden away in Thunderblack castle."

    Still not understanding the significance, Kiso asked, "So what is the artifact?"

    Joro smiled and responded, "Although it isn't confirmed, a few centuries ago Magnum Black informed the clan leader at the time that the artifact was most likely a map! However, the artifact appears to be a simple blank roll of parchment. Hidden away with the parchment was a metallic vial, when the vial recognizes it's master, the liquid inside will turn to ink. That ink is likely to have a special relationship with that parchment, or so Magnum had said."

    Kiso still wasn't convinced and his face showed his lack of excitement.

    Joro could only sigh then add, "That map is said to lead to an invisible cave in the Sangrad Mountains. Inside the cave is an ancient scroll containing the ultimate technique left behind by a cultivation master tens of the thousands of years ago!"

    Interest finally piqued, Kiso couldn't help but tilt his head towards Thunderblack castle's direction. His eyes seemed to lock onto the castle, still tens of miles away.

    A fire burning in his heart, reflected in his eyes, he turned to Yuni and said, "Yuni, we're leaving!"

    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Fourteen - Roving Death Squads

    Yuni, who had been idling around intently listening to Joro's explanation was growing excited as well. If it was a hidden technique, perhaps she could learn it as well.

    Kiso's words were exactly what she was hoping to hear and she quickly bounced a few times to reach Kiso's side. After she reached his side she grabbed his arm, locking it with her own as she tilted her head and looked up at his face shyly saying, "Yes master Kiso!"

    Kiso's face couldn't help but turn a light shade of red as he felt a soft sensation on his arm, yet her words ruined the moment. She had been teasing him about their bet for several years now but it had been a while since she last did so. He had thought that she may have finally forgot.

    Shaking his head, he complained, "Yuni..you still insist on teasing me about that?"

    Yuni just giggled and pulled him forward to say their goodbyes to Joro and Jihu.

    Joro had already rose to his feet and when they stepped up to him together. He bowed swiftly and reminded Kiso, "You must hurry young master." Joro glanced over and his daughter who was staring blankly at Sara. He quickly called out to her, "Jihu, aren't you going to pay your respects to Kiso?"

    Her fathers words startled her as she quickly bowed her little head in embarrassment. She recovered quickly however and lifted the bottom corners of her pink sundress. Curtsying she spoke with a tender soft voice, "Jihu thanks big brother Kiso from the bottom of her heart."

    After thanking Kiso, Jihu turned to Sara and couldn't help but ask, "Big sister Sara, are you going with them?" Her little eyes started to redden.

    Sara had been silent up until now, as she was actually torn on this point. She wanted to go with Kiso as she truly wanted to repay him for saving her life, but Blackspark village needed her now more then ever!

    Kiso sensed her troubles and he suggested, "Sara, your village desperately needs you right now, after Yuni and I settle things at Thunderblack castle, we might come back this way."

    Of course Kiso knew they would likely begin an entirely different journey, but he wanted to give Sara some peace of mind.

    Sara's heart clenched because she wasn't stupid, she had heard what Joro said. She knew Kiso and Yuni were likely going to recover the ancient map and continue into the mountains. If she ever saw them again, it would very likely be many years later. But Yuni had strong feelings towards Kiso, it would be likely just as painful to go with them.

    Sara finally just smiled and said, "Don't worry Jihu, big sister intends to stay here with you!" Shifting her glance to Kiso she added, " I was hoping you wouldn't think badly of me for wanting to stay here. Thank you for everything.." She started to choke up slightly.

    Kiso nodded and pulled Yuni's arm as he started to turn towards the direction of the path leading to Thunderblack castle.

    Before he could take a single step though, Joro called his name, "Kiso! I forgot to tell you! Between here and Thunderblack castle, the Ichi clan has dispatched several death squads tasked with guarding the road, be careful!"

    Kiso thanked Joro one last time before leaving with Yuni.

    - - - - -

    The path between Blackspark village and Thunderblack castle is a roughly twenty mile long dirt road that snakes through the Byuki Grasslands. The temperature is dropping swiftly as the day is fading, bringing a chilly breeze that dances along biting at Kiso and Yuni.

    Kiso looked up at the sky, sighing to himself. He was rather dissatisfied with their progress but wished to be courteous to Yuni.

    He materialized a blanket from his DS ring and wrapped it around Yuni's shoulders saying, "I suppose we should stop here for the night."

    Yuni's face reddened a little as she pulled the blanket tighter.

    Looking around, Kiso noticed a cozy flat piece of land near the road. He walked over and materialized several more blankets from his ring, creating a large 'bed'. 

    Yuni was used to this sleeping arrangement as she had insisted on it over and over despite Kiso's attempts to make himself a second bed. Instead, he would lay on the edge with his back facing Yuni. After all, he was a man, how else could he calm himself to get some actual sleep.

    Lowering himself to his usual position, he softly called out to Yuni, who was standing on the opposite side, "Let's get to sleep right away, if we wake up early enough, we may be able to reach Thunderblack castle the day after tomorrow." After speaking he laid his head down on an extra blanket and shut his eyes.

    Yuni, face growing a level higher of red, lowered herself to the bed as well to her usual position, but didn't stop there. She slowly inched her way over to lay directly behind Kiso's back as she whispered into Kiso's ear, "Kiso, is it okay if I sleep here tonight?"

    Kiso's eyes had long since shot back open, remaining wide as his own face turned a deep shade of red. He quickly turned his body over to reply to Yuni, only to see her face less then two feet from his own.

    The words that started to come out were choked back.

    Yuni's eyes were full of grief and worry.

    Kiso immediately realized what she was thinking about and sighed inwardly before pulling his hands up, grasping onto Yuni's. He gently consoled her, "Yuni, of course it's okay. Don't worry, we'll be fine and we'll definitely avenge your parents."

    Yuni never doubted Kiso's words and they greatly settled her turbulent heart. When her heart settled however, it quickly grew even more so then before as she realized what position she was in.

    Kiso noticed the change and quickly started to pull away before Yuni held him back.

    She whispered again saying, "Kiso, I have to tell you something..."

    Kiso's heart was blazing, he knew what she was going to say. He quickly cut her off, "Yuni, you don't have to finish, I know. Let's talk about this after we take care of the Ichi clan, okay?"

    Yuni's face couldn't get any more red, her face was completely visible under the bright moonlight and Kiso truly thought that she couldn't be any more beautiful. Her silky hair was shining as it reflected the moonlight, sprawling across her forehead and neckline. Her dainty emerald eyes and small pert nose complemented her thin red lips in perfect harmony.

    She could hear the tone in his voice and its particular lack of rejection. Her smile shone as bright as the moon and she replied clenching her eyes into two perfect crescent moons, "Okay!"

    After that Kiso didn't move to reject her again, but certainly didn't get a great night's sleep as it was particularly difficult to calm himself down. He wasn't upset though, in fact he convinced himself that it was actually worth it, as he stared at Yuni's sleeping face half the night before finally falling asleep himself.

    - - - - -

    The next morning, the sun started to peak over the distant hills, filling the Byuki Grasslands with a warmth absent moments before. As the sun's rays of light finally reached Kiso's face, they pierced through his eyelids alerting his conscious of the new day.

    He opened his eyes and his vision, blurry for a moment, cleared quickly to see a pair of emerald eyes filled with excitement staring back at him.

    Yuni quickly announced, "Kiso, good morning! I want ask you a favor okay?"

    Kiso's thoughts quickly gathered and he yawned while replying, "Okay, ask."

    Yuni sat up and stretched her arms above her head saying, "Today, if we encounter any of the death squads Joro talked about, could you let me try fighting them as well? I think I'll need to get some experience in order to be of assistance later, don't you?"

    Kiso was well aware of Yuni's strength and chuckled, "Right, you certainly have the power, but do you have the heart to take a life? Experience is indeed necessary."

    Yuni's then lips scrunched together as she pouted cutely, "I've gathered the resolve long ago!" After saying that though, her expression grew extremely serious and added, "Ever since I heard of my parent's death..."

    Kiso's teasing smile faded and he nodded, standing up to stretch. The two of them fixed their clothes and Kiso reabsorbed the blankets into his ring.

    Yuni shook her head and smacked her two puffy cheeks, quick to recover, she giggled remembering the conversation from the night before. She finally knew her love might not be one-sided.

    She happily skipped ahead several meters then turned and called out, "Hurry up Kiso, let's run!"
    - - - - -

    After running at a steady pace for several miles the scenery around them started to change.

    Blood stained grass lay riddled with corpses. Some were charred black and some were crushed or impaled. The corpses were not fresh, some having deteriorated to the point of becoming vague images of their former selves.

    Kiso and Yuni's faces became solemn.

    The slaughter actually extended this far from Thunderblack castle.

    The only silver lining Kiso could convince himself of, was that clearly, the battle had not been one-sided. In fact, there were far more corpses charred black. Unfortunately, the Ichi clan has outnumbered his own ten to one for hundreds of years.

    It was sheer numbers alone that boosted an otherwise weak Ichi clan, into a mid-grade clan. The could combine their powers to perform greater, more powerful techniques.

    Slowing their pace, Kiso and Yuni started ascending a slight hill.

    When they reached the top of the hill, five black cloaked figures came into view, cutting across the battlefield on the other side.

    When those figures noticed them, they quickly altered their direction, heading straight for Kiso and Yuni.

    Yuni took a deep breath and stepped forward saying, "My turn."

    Yuni's multi-colored lightning was actually a result of the fusion between her lightning nature and Koho's healing nature. Her lightning contained the ability to change the charge of the lightning between positive and negative.

    She could use positively charged lightning to restore cells and negative to destroy them. They only drawback to her power was that in order for her to change the nature of a foreign cell, her own spiritual pressure must be higher.

    However, while she isn't quite on Kiso's level, Yuni's own talent is exceptional and she cultivated alongside Kiso nonstop for four years. How could her spiritual pressure be low?

    The five black cloaked figures approached, one of them stepped forward snapping at them, "This is no place for children, what are you doing here?!"

    His face now visible, the black cloaked figure that spoke to them was in fact a woman!

    Kiso was inwardly grateful Yuni would be the one handling this death squad.

    The woman studied Yuni, then glanced at Kiso before a surprised expression quickly turned dark.

    She sent a mental message back to her squad, "Look at the boy, isn't that Kiso Black? The appearance has aged from the painting we were shown, but it must be him!"

    The other four quickly studied Kiso's face and nodded, lifting their arms to gather spiritual pressure.

    Yuni realized they were exposed and gathered spiritual pressure of her own. She extended two fingers on one hand, four on the other.

    Those two fingers pointed at the woman, who was slowly backing towards her squad mates as Yuni cried out in a shrill screech, "For papa!"

    A dazzling multi-colored lightning shot at the Ichi death squad striking them before they could release their own spiritual pressure. 

    They faces were dumbstruck, they never would have thought that such a young girl would be so decisive as to actually strike first, and so violently no less.

    Before they could regret their lack of speed, they all felt a searing pain devouring them from the outside. Screaming in terror, their skin seemingly melted before exposing the muscle beneath, which started to quickly deteriorate as well.

    It was an extremely gruesome sight to behold.

    Yuni's body shuddered as she fell to her knees, looking at the five now unrecognizable corpses. Their bodies seemingly half their previous size laid lifeless.

    Kiso hadn't expected Yuni's special lightning to be so terrifying as he secretly decided never to piss her off.

    Noticing her shuddering figure, he sighed and stepped up behind her, lowering himself to wrap his arm around her shoulder as he pulled her into his embrace.

    Her gentle sobs soaked his robe as she tucked her head into his chest.

    After several minutes, she choked back her tears and lifted her face to look at Kiso's.

    "I'm okay now..." She rubbed her red eyes and stood up.

    Kiso watched as she walked ahead slowly, passing the corpses with a single final shudder.

    Catching up, Kiso consoled her, "Yuni, the first time is the worst, it gets better.."

    Yuni's head tilted and she smiled saying, "That's what I hear!"

    Kiso was startled by her quick recovery, then his mouth fell open as she was giggling at what she said.

    He could only shake his head and laugh as well.

    They happily restarted their journey, leaving the battlefield behind them, now almost halfway to Thunderblack castle.

    To Be Continued!!
  • Chapter Fifteen - Experts Clash

    Cold descended onto the world once more.

    Kiso and Yuni are in the last leg of their journey to Thunderblack castle.

    During the last few miles they had encountered several more death squads, which Kiso took the initiative to deal with. The individual strength of these death squads were all at a laughable level and Kiso could deal with them in any number of ways. He even relied on ordinary physical attacks and his Skyshadow technique to take care of one of them.

    As darkness continued to polish the sky, Kiso and Yuni were stealthily making their way towards the back of the valley.

    Kiso's spiritual pressure zone, extended to its max range, finally started to swallow the outer wall of Thunderblack castle.

    Stopping, Kiso held out his arm, motioning for Yuni to stop as well. He whispered, "Yuni, we're within a half mile of the castle. We'll rest here for the night then sneak in before dawn."

    Yuni nodded, her face was barely visible in the darkness, but if Kiso could see it, he would see her eyes burning with determination.

    Kiso once more materialized some blankets, this time in the center of some tall brush where they would be hidden from night patrols.

    Neither of them had the peace of mind to flirt this night, as they attempted to get as much sleep as they could.

    - - - - -

    Early morning, before the sun welcomed itself back into the sky, two dark silhouettes darted from a cluster of tall brush.

    Kiso wanted to arrive at Thunderblack castle at least half an hour from daybreak in order to use the darkness to infiltrate the castle.

    The outline of that familiar castle grew larger as Kiso and Yuni rapidly approached. The former pristine walls were visibly damaged even in the darkness of the night. Torchlight dotted the tops of the walls, slowly moving back and forth.

    As they finally reached the base of the southeastern wall, Kiso quickly went over a simple plan with Yuni, "Alright, I'm going to shadowstep up to the top and when it's safe I'll let a rope down to you. When we're in, our goal is the central throne room as that's where I detect the largest spiritual pressure. The second elder of the Ichi clan is sure to be there." Kiso started to turn to observe the surroundings one last time when Yuni grabbed his hand and said, "Kiso, if we can't win..." Kiso cut her off with a lighthearted laugh, "Yuni, we have to at least be confident! It's true this elder is likely to be stronger then the other, but they are called the two pillars of the Ichi clan, how great a difference could it be?"

    Yuni's face didn't lighten, rather she shook her head and cursed Kiso for lacking caution. As they say, the cautious man will always live longer then the overly brave.

    She didn't stop him though, instead releasing his hand and giving him a firm nod.

    Kiso turned back around and his body flickered, disappearing.

    Atop the wall, Kiso reappeared directly behind a torch bearing guard. The guard was whistling a merry tune while leisurely walking, when the breath feeding his whistle suddenly vanished. A perplexed look on his face, he lifted his free hand, feeling his throat his expression grew ugly.

    Spinning around, large amounts of blood streaking down his neck, he felt only felt lightheaded as the word turned sideways, then dark.

    Kiso wiped a small dagger on his leather pants below his pitch black cloak as he stared at the lifeless corpse. He gathered spiritual pressure in his hand, lowering his body and placing it on the dead man's torso. A low 'bzzt' was barely audible as the man's body disintegrated leaving a pile of ash that began to scatter into the morning breeze. 

    Satisfied, Kiso materialized a rope from his ring, and walked to the edge of the wall. Once more verifying the absence of guards, he started lowering the rope to Yuni. Casual thoughts eased Kiso's mood, "It's a good thing Koho looked out for us, she even gave us things like rope, hahaha...."

    Sending a mental message to Yuni below, Kiso felt the tension of the rope tighten and he began to pull her up.

    When Yuni reached the top, Kiso started point in various directions, "There are around fifty people on the walls alone, I can clearly sense around three hundred throughout the castle as well. From the looks of it, the route with least resistance would be over there....or over there.. or over there.." As he pointed at the last location, Yuni's eyes shone fiercely.

    She quickly whispered, "Then we'll go that way!"

    Kiso sighed and they started stealthily making their way towards the old captain of the guards private quarters.

    As they descended the wall, Kiso sent a mental message, "Yuni, lets stay silent for now, if we come across anyone, do not hesitate!"

    From the central throne room, a powerfully built man was overlooking the castle walls outside from a thin aperture in the wall. He was casually scanning the dark scene before him, appearing to be in deep thought. In his mind he wondered, "There has to be a way around..." His pondering concluded prematurely as he noticed a string of disappearing torchlight, heading in his direction.

    A strangely excited expression grew on his face as he quickly summoned his closest subordinate.

    An equally large man casually walked over from the shadows, speaking with an extremely deep voice he queried, "Is something wrong Danstun?" A genuine tone of worry in his voice.

    Danstun, the remaining elder of the Ichi clan, laughed and pointed out towards the ground. "Take a look Vohan, it seems we have a visitor!"

    Vohan's face grew excited as well, these two close friends were extremely fond of fighting and the boredom associated with guarding a castle was driving them crazy recently.

    The sun finally broke the seal of darkness on the horizon as light began to spill into Thunderblack valley.

    As the light slowly reached Thunderblack castle, Danstun and Vohan stared down at the two silhouettes wreaking havoc on their men.

    Jaw slightly lowering, a cold sweat on his back, Vohan took a step back and was about to run off to help when Danstun stopped him, "No need to act Vohan, they're already outside."

    - - - - -

    Kiso and Yuni stood side by side staring up a large flight of stairs.

    At the top of the stairs a gigantic pair of large oak doors were the only thing separating them from the last man responsible for leading the attack on Thunderblack valley.

    In the courtyard used for official ceremonies such as weddings or receiving foreign ambassadors, Kiso stood, arms crossed. Although he was extremely confident in his strength, a strange thought clouded his ordinarily clear mind, "Somethings off, how could such a puny number of enemies overtake our clan? And they're all so weak too..."

    Yuni on the other hand was leaning on one leg with her hands behind her back, a rare devilish smile painted on her face. It could be seen she wasn't the least bit worried.

    Right as Kiso was about to take another step forward, the oak doors moved first. Or rather, they blew from their hinges as two giant boulders came crashing down the stairs heading directly for Yuni and himself. 

    Kiso's brows slightly clenched as he raised his already charged fingertips instantly releasing a dazzling bolt of black lightning. The boulders cracked and fell into seemingly a million pieces, scattering around the courtyard. If it was anyone else, they wouldn't think twice, but this was Kiso, he knew his power and he quickly rose his guard thinking, "I only cracked these boulders, they are definitely not ordinary stone!"

    The moment the two boulders exploded, two large burly men slowly walked out of the empty archway as they began to slowly descend the long flight of stairs. Not just those two, but the sudden explosion had alerted all the surrounding Ichi clansmen as well and they quickly started rushing into the courtyard.

    Kiso stood, calm, as two hundred or so black cloaked men and women surrounded them in a half moon formation with the open end facing the flight of stairs.

    When the two large men reached the bottom, the slightly larger of the two stepped forward, throwing off his cloak. 

    With his body now visible, Kiso's face slightly changed. The man's arms and legs were as thick as tree trunks and he had large, visible scars all over his body. His abs and chest were seemingly chiseled from solid stone, covered in a bronze layer of skin. His face wasn't particularly attractive, but it was rough and manly, giving off a wild aura. Most surprisingly however, was that this man appeared to be only in his early twenties!

    The man suddenly shouted, "You two must be tired of living! To actually come here alone...HAHAHA" He laughed extremely loudly, accompanied by the laughter of nearly every other person present. 

    Their laughter shook the courtyard for nearly ten seconds until he suddenly stopped laughing. When that man stopped, so did everyone else, clearly they held him in extremely high regard.

    Kiso summoned his own fighting spirit and called out with a powerful voice, "This one's name is Kiso Black, son of Han Black! I believe you know my grandfather as well.." A sinister expression painted Kiso's face as he mentioned his grandfather.

    The large man looked slightly startled for a moment before recovering.

    He laughed while speaking this time, "Kiso! I've heard that name before! Your grandfather seemed to hold you in high regard!" His laughter growing in volume, "He even warned me you'd certainly take revenge for him!"

    Stepping forward, the other large man lowered his hood and interjected, "Kiso, this is the grand elder of our Ichi clan, Danstun Ichi! My name is Vohan Ichi, son of Thenion!" A savage look replaced his previous indifference, it seems they already received word from Blackspark.

    Kiso, after being taunted by Danstun, smiled and laughed as well, "Vohan, your father didn't mention you, it seems you weren't particularly high in his mind!"

    Kiso's words were like throwing a torch into a pool of oil, instantly igniting Vohan's rage. The other Ichi clansmen were equally angry as they all started to summon their spiritual pressure, causing the air to begin to distort as the earth essence began to condense all around.

    "STOP!!" Danstun suddenly cried out, his voice seemingly infused with spiritual pressure, causing everyone present to feel slightly dazed.

    Vohan turned to look at Danstun, a puzzled look on his face, he couldn't understand why Danstun would stop them.

    Danstun turned to meet his gaze, pausing for a few moments, before turning back to Kiso. Walking forward a dozen more steps, the distance between them shrank to five meters. At this distance, Danstun could now clearly see the faces of Kiso and Yuni, his gaze stopping on Yuni.

    "Such beauty!" Danstun's eyes widened and he secretly made up his mind to keep her alive to enjoy for himself later.

    The lust in his eyes was evident, and Yuni's face changed as Kiso quickly warned, "Looking at her with such eyes, it seems I'm not the only one tired of living!" He added a cold snort as his body began to emit sharp black sparks.

    Danstun was familiar with the levels of the Thunderblack clan and seeing the black sparks, his face slightly changed, growing excited. "This one actually seems to have some ability...I might be able to actually have some fun!" 

    The black sparks on Kiso's body grew longer and started to roam around his body like an evil serpent. He was growing impatient and wanted to rid the world of this despicable man as quickly as possible.
    Raising an arm, Kiso points at Danstun's face exclaiming, "Go die!" 

    A black lightning serpent instantly flashed forward from his fingertip, diving straight for Danstun's face.

    Before the black serpent could reach its target however, the millions of shards scattered through the courtyard suddenly rumbled and rose into the air.

    Tens of thousands of them flashed as they sped to intercept Kiso's lightning.

    BOOM!!!

    The black lightning serpent suddenly collided with those shards of rock, charging them and causing them to explode. The effect however was apparent, Kiso's attack had failed.

    The courtyard was now full of floating shards of metallic earth. Hundreds of thousands of them clustered closely around Danstun's body and he coldly snorted saying, "That's it? That's the legendary power of the Thunderblack clan that held them at the top of the western realm for thousands of years? LAUGHABLE!" 

    Thousands of tiny rocks began to grow illusory as they sped toward's Kiso.

    Kiso's face had long since changed, ever since his attack was so easily blocked. He quickly sent a message to Yuni telling her to back away as he began to use his Skyshadow technique to dodge the barrage of tiny metallic rocks.

    No matter how powerful Kiso's ability was, Danstun's was a seemingly perfect counter. Kiso couldn't think of a single way to get close enough to attack.

    If he wanted to shadowstep close and use his Blacklight sword, he would suffer collateral damage himself. Those hundreds of thousands of tiny rock shards protecting Danstun were like an impenetrable fortress!

    "This damned man! He's infinitely more powerful then that Thenion! How could they be considered on the same level?" Kiso cursed in his heart as it grew cold.

    What he didn't know, is that Thenion was the previous clan leader and was only a pillar of the clan in name.

    Suddenly Kiso's spiritual zone felt something off, as he reappeared after using his Skyshadow technique, he found himself completely surrounded by tiny metal rocks. He panicked and started to shadowstep away, but it was too late, hundreds of tiny metal rocks bore through his skin, some even pierced muscles and tendons.

    If Danstun had wanted to, he could have easily killed Kiso just now, but how could such a malicious man let him off that easy. He avoided piercing Kiso's vital spots, only severing his tendons, leaving Kiso in a bloody heap unable to move a muscle.

    Yuni screamed in terror and started to run to Kiso while shooting her multi-colored negatively charged lightning at Danstun, but to no avail. The metal shards blocked her lightning as well, then began to race towards her.

    The metal shards attached themselves to Yuni's arms, tying them behind her back while simultaneously rooting her feet to the ground rendering her helpless and immobile.

    Kiso stared on as rage and terror began to boil to the extreme, but he couldn't do anything. He still had spiritual pressure, but his attacks were already proven useless and he couldn't even move his arms to direct his lightning anymore.

    Danstun lived for this, his sinister smile grew ear to ear watching Kiso's face as he slowly made his way in Yuni's direction...

    To Be Continued!!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Sixteen - Let it Rain

    Each step Danstun took stomped on Kiso's heart, his emotional pain was literally physically injuring him.

    Time seemed to slow down as Kiso's mind raced, searching for a method to rise from this abyss. Quickly contemplating all the options before him, Kiso's dull sorrowful eyes slightly lit up thinking, "Healing! That's right! Although I cannot perform the technique to Yuni or Koho's level, I can certainly still do it!"

    Kiso began to circulate his spiritual pressure through his damaged tendons attempting to repair them as quickly as possible.

    After several seconds however, Kiso's dread intensified, "Still there! That's right, those metal shards are still blocking my spirit veins, how could I circulate the healing nature, DAMNIT!"

    By now, Danstun had walked within three meters of Yuni, no longer paying attention to Kiso, eyes on his prize. He licked his lips as he slowed his pace and began to raise his arms, now just a few feet away from Yuni, who's face was covered in dread and tears. 

    Kiso's mind went blank, he had lost all hope, if that man touched a hair on Yuni's body, he no longer had the desire to live. He was prepared to die. He couldn't forget the pain he felt, but his mind cleared as he stared up at the sky.

    In the sky, scattered clouds were blowing gently with the wind. The sun was still ascending into the sky early this morning and was almost about to touch a particularly large cloud in the distance.

    Kiso's eyes bulged, he had one last chance. No matter how hard he had tried in the past, he wasn't able to use the last stage of the Skyshadow technique, but now faced with the current impending doom, how could he not try?

    Focusing his entire soul onto his spiritual pressure zone, Kiso first noticed Danstun, who's hands were now within one foot of Yuni. His mouth was open and if one looked closely, drool could be seen about to spill over his lower lip. Kiso viciously attempted to affect Danstun's person with his spiritual pressure, but it was no use. No matter how hard he tried, his spiritual pressure simply passed through Danstun as if he wasn't even there.

    Danstun could feel Kiso's probing but didn't flinch, he was extremely focused on the young beauty in front of him.

    His fingers, aiming at Yuni's two perky mounds, inched closer and closer.

    Ten inches, eight inches, five inches....

    Kiso's was at his wits end, his rage was causing his eyes to bleed red.

    Just as he was about to give up for the last time, the sun finally cast a shadow over the courtyard. In Kiso's rage, he had forgotten about the significance behind the shadow in his mother's ancestor's story.

    Kiso's spiritual pressure had been extended the entire time, attempting desperately to move Danstun's body away from Yuni. When the shadow covered the courtyard, Kiso clearly felt the Danstun's spiritual nature change, if just barely. He quickly had a thought, "Could it be the shadow contains a hint of darkness nature? Of course! I tried at night as well, but how could I detect the difference when the darkness nature is always present!"

    Kiso immediately understood, when the darkness nature energy began to invade the space around Danstun and the others, it merged with their own spiritual pressure. Most people simply feel a cool sensation, as the heat of the sun lessens, but it is in fact much more then that!

    Kiso frantically sent out his spiritual pressure, linking it with the darkness nature spiritual pressure surrounding Danstun.

    Danstun, his fingertips within a hair of Yuni's body, suddenly stopped. His brows clenched together as the veins on his arms and legs bulged in attempt to cover that last hair's distance. 

    Kiso was completely immersed within his spiritual pressure zone. The bodies of everyone present were indeed just as that story had described, their conflicting spiritual pressure made them like stars in the night sky.

    Without sufficient spiritual pressure, the effect this technique would have is minuscule, after all, controlling the very essence of the darkness energy of the world was no simple matter. 

    But if Kiso had one particular talent, it was his spiritual pressure. Taking hold of the darkness energy surrounding Danstun's body became illogically easy.

    Yuni's tightly clenched eyes wet with tears, trembled as the touch she had been dreading never came. One blurry eye opening, her vision slowly cleared revealing Danstun's beat red face filled with rage.

    In the next moment, Danstun's body vanished, or rather it shot up into the sky extremely fast.

    Yuni's neck strained as she looked up into the sky. 

    Danstun, along with all the Ichi clansmen, were growing smaller and smaller, until finally their figures could barely be seen.

    "Yuni, quickly, heal me!" A weak voice rang in her mind as her pretty little eyes, shining with delight, found the source of the voice.

    When Danstun had reached a certain distance, the shards of rock fell to the ground and the restraints on Yuni, with Kiso's spiritual pressure's help, loosened enough that she was able to wiggle out.

    She darted over to Kiso, falling on her knees, her hands became intensely electrified.

    "Wait, one sec." Kiso's face grimaced as he used his darkness nature spiritual pressure to force out thousands of tiny rocks from his body.

    Not daring to ease his concentration, Kiso closed his eyes, focusing on his spiritual pressure zone, continuing to hold the Ichi clansmen high in the sky.

    Yuni, after seeing the rocks emerge from Kiso's body, gasped but quickly shook her head and put her hands over Kiso's chest. 

    Positively charged lightning poured from her hands, speedily roaming all over Kiso's body. Kiso only felt a freezing chill, followed by a gentle warmth, as his limbs regained their feeling.

    Kiso could have healed himself, but with all his concentration needed to perform the final stage of the Skyshadow technique, he didn't dare. Besides, Yuni's healing is several levels greater then his own.

    In the time it would take someone to eat a bowl of rice, Kiso's body had been granted life again. Although the injuries were not completely healed just yet, Kiso felt a foreboding sense of danger still present.

    Turning to Yuni, who was staring at him with an extremely complicated expression, Kiso asked her while pointing up, "How do you suppose we deal with them? Sure, some of them are dimwitted and will likely perish simply by being dropped, that's not the case for all of them. The smart ones will regain the ability to borrow the earth's spiritual pressure as they near the ground, escaping impact in any number of ways..." 

    Yuni's face lost the slight color she had just recently regained.

    Kiso frowned and added, "Also, when that sun comes back out, I'm pretty sure I'll lose track of the darkness nature I'm using to hold them up there." Kiso pointed over at the cloud blocking the sun. Rays of light could be seen peaking over the top of it.

    Yuni spoke up after looking at the cloud, "Can we run?"

    Kiso's frown loosened a bit as he chuckled, "I certainly met my match this time, haha. That Danstun is truly powerful and I just lit an inextinguishable enmity in his heart I'm sure." After speaking, Kiso suddenly looked towards the sun. It was threatening to overtake the cloud any second.

    "Guess we gotta risk it!" Kiso's face became extremely serious as he tightened his grip on the darkness spiritual pressure surround those figures in the sky.

    "FALL!" Kiso's savage roar made Yuni jump.

    After about ten seconds, strange sounds could be heard in the distance above Kiso and Yuni.

    The figures of those Ichi clansmen were beginning to grow larger rapidly.

    With Kiso's intense pull on the darkness energy holding their bodies hostage, they were falling at nearly five times the speed they would normally. Furthermore, if Kiso's guess was correct, they shouldn't have control of their bodies. Although Kiso was extremely worried about this point, he couldn't think of any other options.

    When the Ichi clansmen, Vohan, and Danstun came into view, their expressions varied from extreme rage all the way to sincere regret. Danstun's expression caused Kiso to secretly let out a sigh of relief, as his face was void of all color and his eyes filled with disbelief.

    Danstun was presently using every bit of his spiritual pressure to sustain his conscious while traveling at almost six hundred miles an hour. In fact, some of the weaker Ichi clansmen had already passed out. 

    Kiso and Yuni stared on as human bullets smashed into the ground, all of them headfirst. Every single one of them was powerless to resist. The ones who had enough spiritual pressure to stay conscious quickly wished they hadn't. The exception was Danstun, he wanted one last look at Kiso's face, vowing to pay him back in the next time. He still couldn't comprehend his death, as thoughts of revenge and disbelief were the last he had.

    Not a single second after Danstun's death, the sun finally emerged from the cloud, causing a cold sweat to run down Kiso's back. If he hadn't sped up their descent, forcing them to use the spiritual pressure to simply remain conscious, they would have certainly lived.

    Yuni gazed around at the small 'man-made' craters, she walked up to Kiso's side and gently tugged on his sleeve saying, "Kiso, that was too close.. I though you were going to.... And that man was..."

    Kiso quickly cut her off as he tilted his head to look at her watery eyes, "Enough. Don't remind me." He sighed then shot her a sly smile, "He made the mistake of going after my woman, I couldn't let him off."

    Yuni's eyes lit up and her face turned beat red as she quickly peeled her gaze from his to stare down at the ground.

    Gather her courage, Yuni bounced forward and spun around to face Kiso and announced, "Naturally! A master should always look after his property!" After speaking, she giggled and gave Kiso a coquettish look before moving forward, closing the distance between them.

    She closed her eyes and stretched her neck upwards, intending to plant a meaningful kiss on Kiso's cheek as a thank you. When her lips made contact however, her eyes shot open. Kiso had intentionally tilted his head to the side, kissing her directly on the lips.

    Her heart beating wildly, she squirmed a little trying to protest but gave up almost instantly.

    As she was enjoying her first kiss, suddenly something caught her eye, and she pushed Kiso away.

    Kiso, startled, was about to complain when he saw her eyes staring bug-eyed at something behind him. He turned his body to follow her gaze, which was staring directly at Danstun's dead body a few meters away.

    Yuni's body shot past him, jumping down into the meter deep crater directly onto Danstun's bloody corpse. When she came back up she was holding something.

    Kiso looked down at her hands with a puzzled expression.

    When he saw a blank roll of parchment in her left hand and a metallic vial in her right, his mind was instantly blank. After several seconds of staring at her hands, he finally verified what he saw was true, the ancient artifact of Thunderblack valley had actually been on Danstun's person!

    "Yuni, is that what I think it is?" Kiso asked, knowing she wasn't sure herself.

    "I....It has to be right?" Yuni's voice trembled slightly.

    What Kiso desired right now was precisely power. His battle with the simple leader of a mid-grade clan had created a vast craving in his heart. He never wanted to feel that powerless again. 

    The hidden technique left behind by an ancient expert cultivator was too attractive to dismiss.

    Yuni, still slightly red from the earlier 'event', walked up awkwardly in front of Kiso. Her pretty eyes danced around, trying to avoid Kiso's passionate gaze as she quickly shoved the map and vial into his arms.

    Backing away a few steps, she met his gaze and gave him an urging expression by raising her eyebrows and nodding her head towards the map. Kiso couldn't help but want to give her another kiss as her behavior certainly warranted one.

    He was about to step forward and make his move, ignoring the map, when Yuni suddenly reprimanded him, "Kiso, check the map! What's on it?"

    Sighing in his heart, Kiso glanced down at the map, untying the string holding it together. As he unfolded it, he shook his head and lifted it to show Yuni, "Blank!"

    Yuni's lips, which had been curved upwards in anticipation, slightly lowered. 

    Sticking true to her nature however, she quickly recovered and said, "What about the vial? What does it say on it?"

    Kiso lifted his hand holding the vial, studying its appearance.

    Engraved on the side was a single line of words:

    When the liquid recognizes a worthy master it will revert to its original form, pour the ink on the parchment.

    Kiso opened the vial and studied the contents, then sighed, "Yuni the liquid inside is clear, I suppose I'm not the guy.."

    Re-corking the vial, Kiso tried to store it in his DS ring. As he urged his spiritual pressure into his ring, attempting to swallow the map and vial, he found the ring refused to absorb them.

    "Ah?" Kiso couldn't help but take a closer look at the vial.

    Yuni noticed his behavior and queried, "Kiso, whats the deal?"

    Kiso laughed and held up the vial, "At least we know why Danstun didn't store the vial in his DS ring, he couldn't!"

    After raising the vial, Kiso noticed an engraving on the bottom of the vial as well. Written in large bold letters across the bottom was one word, 'Head'.

    Kiso's mind worked quickly and he acted on the first thing that came to mind, lowering the vial's bottom to touch his forehead. He left the vial there for several tens of seconds, then removed it and uncorked the vial to study the interior.

    He stood looking into the bottle for a full minute before the liquid inside began to grow murkier second by second. Finally, the liquid turned completely black.

    Kiso's silent staring at the vial had brought Yuni over out of curiosity and she caught a glimpse of the murky liquid finally lose its clarity becoming pitch black.

    "Ink!" Kiso and Yuni simultaneously cried out.

    To Be Continued
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Seventeen - Ominous Gaze

    Within the metallic vial, the clear liquid had completely changed into black ink.

    Kiso and Yuni's hearts were racing as their faces couldn't hide their excitement. This map supposedly would lead them to a hidden technique.

    Hidden techniques were legendary existences, only occasionally heard about once every thousand or so years. The hidden technique had only been whispered among those of the highest status in the Thunderblack clan. Magnum Black knew the liquid would not change to ink for himself, so he informed the clan of his knowledge regarding the artifacts long ago.

    When Kiso's uncles heard of the artifact, they had immediately started plans to involve the Ichi clan. But this was the evil Ichi clan, how could they keep to their word to share the technique? 

    Thus the present situation had already played out. Caught unaware, the Ichi clan invaded, Kiso's uncles assassinated Mord, and the artifact was taken by the Ichi clan.

    "Kiso.." Yuni called Kiso's name, causing him to look up at her face. She met his gaze, then steered it towards the parchment.

    "Right.." Kiso nodded and knelt down, placing the parchment on the ground between them.

    Under the light of the rising sun, Kiso slowly tipped the vial, pouring its contents onto the parchment. As the liquid accumulated atop the parchment, it pooled momentarily before the parchment directly drank the ink like the desert would drink a cup of water.

    Moments later, the clear outline of a map started to fade into view.

    To Kiso and Yuni's surprise, the map wasn't of the entire human realm, but rather only contained the area of the Sangrad Mountains and the deepest edge of Thunderblack Valley.

    Deep within the Sangrad Mountains, a large plain was clearly illustrated. Something bugged Kiso about the placement of that plain on the map, but he couldn't quite place what it was. In the center of the plain was a picture of a hole, diving straight down into the earth below.

    Written above that hole were the words: Cultivation Master's Cave - Danger

    Kiso took a deep breath, slowly turning his head to face Yuni he said, "Clearly this map wasn't drawn by the master of the cave, I wonder how Elder Sage determined what was inside..."

    Sensing the foreboding tone in his voice, Yuni choked back the words she originally wanted to say and instead said, "Agreed, but it's still worth a look right?"

    Kiso nodded then rolled the map up, tucking it into his clothes.

    Yuni let out a cool breath as the reality of what had just happened finally caught up with her. She stared around at the hundreds of dents in the earth before finally looking back at Kiso.

    Kiso's body was still covered in blood and his skin tone void of its natural color. His cloak was tattered and clothes in pieces, reminding Yuni how close they had come to calamity.

    Kiso was also studying the surroundings and when he turned to Yuni, he saw a worried expression on her face as she was looking up and down his body.

    Glancing down at his body, Kiso laughed and consoled her, "Don't worry Yuni, it's not as bad as it looks." Lifting his arms and shrugging, he added, "Your healing technique is rather impressive. In fact, I barely feel any pain anymore."

    Yuni shook her head and pouted her lips, she knew he was putting on a bit of an act for her sake.

    As quickly as her mood dropped, it began to rise again like a phoenix as she quickly ran over to one of the craters. She jumped down inside while rummaging around a bit, then quickly resurfaced, a disappointing look on her face.

    Kiso raised an eyebrow curious about her strange behavior, inquiring, "What exactly are you doing?"

    Yuni giggled and quickly ran to another crater, repeating the same motions as before.

    Rising from the second crater, this time a beautiful smile painted her face. She triumphantly held a small metallic ring above her head and announced, "Kiso! These are the elites of a mid-grade clan, how could they be poor? Look, just one DS ring actually has this much gold inside!" She casually tossed the ring to Kiso, then began hopping around looting the fallen Ichi clansmen.

    Kiso raised both his eyebrows this time, glancing down at the ring in his hands.

    Urging his spiritual pressure into the ring, he quickly examined the contents. His eyes widened and he inwardly exclaimed, "Forty gold! Even some healing pills!"

    As quickly as he examined the contents, his body moved as he began to roam around the craters collecting DS rings as well.

    Although not every Ichi clansman had a DS ring, at the end, Kiso and Yuni had gathered a total of Ninety-seven. Within the rings was a collective value of seven thousand gold.

    It must be said that even ten gold would be enough for a normal person to live on for nearly a decade.

    Danstun's ring alone had contained the majority of the gold. Between Danstun and Vohan's rings, they actually had four thousand gold.

    "RICH!" Yuni's eyes shined as she thought of all the different things she was going to buy herself.

    Kiso on the other hand, was busy transferring gold into a single ring, while occasionally withdrawing different items and observing them. A pile of junk began to form behind him containing low-grade weapons and other useless items such as cooking utensils.

    After the time it would take someone to cook and eat a bowl of rice, Kiso finally let out a sigh and extended an open palm to Yuni.

    "Here Yuni, your half." A ring laid atop his palm

    Yuni's eyes shined as she started to reach forward, but quickly withdrew her hand and frowned saying, "Kiso, you did all the work, how can I accept half the reward?"

    Kiso just smiled and threw the ring on the ground saying, "Ah, well, if you won't take it so be it, but I won't keep it for myself either. I suppose the next person to pick up that ring will be in for quite the treat!" After speaking, he stood up from the rock he had been sorting on and casually shrugged his shoulders as he walked off heading towards a fountain to wash up.

    Yuni was angry for a moment, then reluctantly picked up the ring and smiled thinking to herself, "Silly Kiso, you couldn't let me win this time either..."

    Afterwards, she stood up and chased after Kiso while skipping and chanting the names of various clothes she had always wanted.

    - - - - -

    That night, in the same courtyard Kiso had trained in years ago, two people were seated a few meters away from each other.

    The were like statues, sitting cross legged in the meditative stance, holding their index fingers to their thumbs. Strings of different colored lightning occasionally flickered on their bodies.

    Kiso immersed himself in his cultivation technique, simultaneously sensing the various nature energies around him that would benefit his core. Like a funnel, darkness and heat type energy poured in his spirit veins, condensing in his core.

    With his inner eye always focused on his core, Kiso organized layer after layer of sphere-like spiritual pressure to guide the nature energy together, fusing them. After they fused, he would release the layer of spiritual pressure beneath, allowing the nature energy to enter the black, cloud-like core. Every time Kiso added the fused nature energy, a flash of lightning could barely be seen within the cloud of darkness.

    After repeating the process thousands of times, he finally noticed a stream of warmth enter his skin. He broke the meditation stance by releasing his fingers, then looked up at sky. The rays of sunshine peaking over the courtyard walls, he examined his body, pleased with the results.

    He hadn't slept a wink, yet first session of cultivation since leaving the Ancient Byuki Forest left him feeling re-energized and in a very good mood. Luckily, cultivating in the meditative position basically counted as sleep, as the restorative function of sleep could be emulated through gathering nature's energy. 

    Elder Sage had long ago suggested he take a break from cultivating, as sometimes a good nights sleep could help clear the mind. The apprehension he harbored towards the state of his clan could negatively affect his state of mind during cultivation, thus he used it as an excuse to slack off these past few nights.

    However, the fight with Danstun had reignited his desire to increase his power and he decided to continue his nights of cultivation right away.

    Yuni had wanted to continue the nights of sleeping close together, but quickly gave in to Kiso's unwavering attitude, taking a seat to cultivate as well. 

    Sensing warmth of day as well, Yuni opened her eyes, standing up to stretch. 

    She noticed Kiso doing the same, and pouted to him, "Do we really need to keep cultivating at night? Isn't our current level good enough?"

    Kiso shook his head, she was still upset about last night.

    "Although I defeated Danstun, it was not because I was superior in power. It was all luck! An extraordinary stroke of luck! I refuse to believe I'll suddenly make a breakthrough every time I run into a sticky situation, therefore I can only train hard in preparation." Kiso stuck to the same argument as well.

    Yuni could only roll her eyes as she walked over to his side leaning on his arm.

    She peaked up at his face, staring back at her, and blushed slightly before asking, "So, we're going cave hunting right? I'm sure it's going to be cold, we can use each other's bodies to keep warm.."

    Kiso laughed and replied, "Ah, that's true! But Yuni, where is the cave right now?"

    Yuni's face turned a slightly redder shade as she giggled and pushed off from his arm running towards the courtyard archway. 

    When she reached the archway, she turned around and playfully called out, "Well, what are we waiting for then?" 

    Kiso smiled and chased after her.

    - - - - -

    As Kiso and Yuni left the north gate of Thunderblack castle, a dark, evil pair of eyes looked down on them from the distance.

    Bo Black, wearing a blood red cloak, was sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking Thunderblack castle.

    His brows were tightly knit together and an ugly expression painted his face. The past four years had been extremely torturous for him. On his father's orders, he had been sent to Hanzi Academy prior to the Ichi clan's invasion. 

    The Hanzi Academy one of the most famous schools in the entire human realm and every kind of person gathers to further their martial prowess there. With all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds gathering there, naturally there would be evil and malicious people as well. As long as you possessed the talent and the entrance fee, the academy would not turn you away.

    Bo, although arrogant and haughty in nature, was never particularly evil. That is, until he got involved with a shady sect of the Hanzi Academy. From them, he had practiced all sorts of deathly nature techniques, which slowly ate away at his soul, removing any sense of righteousness that may have resided there before.

    By the time Bo heard about the Ichi clan betraying his father, it was too late. He had rushed back as fast as he could, in time to stand on the cliff above witnessing the final moments of his father's life.

    The agony of his father's death would have been a severe blow to him prior to the corrosion of his soft feelings, yet even witnessing the act now, only stirred the hatred in his heart.

    Grasping the feeling of hatred, he immediately sat atop the cliff in the meditative stance, remaining there for several months until today. The death around Thunderblack castle continuously fed his deathly nature core, which by now had barely a trace of the former pure blue lightning that had formerly resided there.

    He had finally finished absorbing the deathly nature energy in the surrounding area, when suddenly that familiar aura exploded once again. Startled awake, he looked down into Thunderblack castle and could barely see two figures standing in the courtyard below what he knew was the main palace. A rich deathly aura wafted up from that courtyard, he could easily tell that a great battle had just taken place.

    Not bothered by it at first, he was simply excited and re-entered meditation, swiftly absorbing the thick deathly energy around him. As time went on and a the next day arrive however, his eyes shot open, realizing someone had beat him to his revenge on the Ichi clan.

    He peered down at the north gate of Thunderblack castle, in time to see those two silhouettes running towards the base of the mountain. As they left the gate, his eyes became dark and his face turned exceedingly ugly to behold. Those two were familiar faces. 

    He easily recognized the face of the boy he had previously been infinitely jealous of.

    "K...Kiso!" Bo's savage gaze pierced through the air, sending a cold chill down Kiso's back.

    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Eighteen - Sangrad Mountains

    Bo stared down at the two silhouettes, his initial burst of anger and resentment slightly simmered down finally joined by a hint of curiosity. He wondered where those two had been for so long and how they had managed to actually kill off an opponent even he had no confidence in in killing.

    Shaking his head, he peered over his shoulder into the mountain range thinking, "Those people are going to want to hear about this..."

    After one last glance back down into the valley he used to call home, he turned back. Face growing cold as ice, he mumbled under his breath and walked towards path he ascended all those months ago.

    - - - - -

    Kiso brushed off the cold sweat, even if someone had ill intent towards him, they clearly weren't acting on it yet.

    The two of them were quickly approaching the foot of the mountain range following an ancient path. Kiso had heard his father once call this path 'Death's Road', though he barely gave half an explanation as to why. He simply uttered two words, "Spiritual beasts.." Then had repeatedly warned Kiso not to ever go wandering there alone.

    Of course that was years ago, before Kiso even began cultivating.

    Death's Road was a two meter wide hellish pass through the mountains, neither flat nor forgiving. The trail starts at the base between two large mountains and cuts directly through the middle of them.

    When they finally arrived at base of mountain, they stared ahead, their eyes slightly bulging.

    Yuni broke the silence, "Kiso, I think.. I want you to go first.." Her head was tilted far back as she stared up the path, which seemed almost too steep to be considered one.

    Kiso stared up as well then he laughed and said, "What, don't tell me the fearless Yuni is scared of a little hill?"

    Yuni pouted her lips and folded her arms, turning to the side to face away from Kiso, yet didn't refute him.

    Kiso smiled and shook his head thinking, "This girl is too cute sometimes..."

    Lowering his gaze back to the start of the pass, Kiso observed a faded wooden post stuck into the ground. The words were barely legible but Kiso could still clearly see them.

    They read: Warning. Spiritual Beast territory. Proceed only if confident in killing Blood Orc with pinky.

    Kiso frowned, although not because he wasn't confident in his ability. Rather, he didn't have any idea what a Blood Orc was.

    Yuni recovered from her brief facade and walked up beside Kiso, reading the sign out loud. After she read the sign, she tilted her head towards Kiso and asked, "Kiso, what's a Blood Orc?"

    It was Kiso's turn to pout.

    He furrowed his brows and walked forward without answering, taking the first few steps into the pass.

    Yuni, caught off guard by Kiso's behavior, quickly realized the cause, a devilish smile gracing her face.

    She caught up and added, "Could it be even the great Kiso doesn't know what a Blood Orc is?" Although she asked, she knew the answer. With a soft giggle, she sped up, overtaking Kiso while calling back to him, "On second thought, it's better I go first! If I fall you better catch me!"

    Kiso's furrowed brows loosened and he chuckled, following her up the pass.

    - - -

    A few hours later, Kiso and Yuni sat at the top of the pass, feeling slightly gloomy.

    "Kiso.. I don't think this is going to be a quick adventure.." Yuni said, slightly dejected.

    Nodding, Kiso stared out at the mountain range they had yet to conquer.

    The Sangrad Mountains, laid bare before them stretching as far as they could see. Thousands of mountains knit tightly together stretching for hundreds of miles created an extremely unwelcoming atmosphere.
    The tiny valley they had called home their entire lives suddenly felt incredibly small.

    Kiso pulled the map from his clothes and began to carefully study it.

    Thunderblack valley was located on the western edge of the Sangrad Mountains. From their current location between the two mountains bordering their home, their destination actually appeared to be quite close. Although that would only be compared to the distance they could potentially be forced to travel, should the plain be near the eastern edge.

    Looking around, Kiso estimated they would need almost a week of travel to reach the plain.

    Just as he was about to relay his findings to Yuni, a smooth low pitch howl sounded from miles away, carrying a small degree of lingering killing intent.

    That howl caused Yuni to shoot up from her seat and rush over to Kiso as she grabbed his arm and whispered, "What the hell was that?"

    His own body slightly shuddered and with glowing eyes he whispered back, "Blood Wolf."

    Elder Sage had long ago taught Kiso and Yuni about a few various spiritual beasts that resided in the Sangrad Mountains. The aforementioned 'Blood Wolf' is a low-class spiritual beast. While it's individual strength could be considered somewhat weak, especially compared to Kiso, it was still an attractive prospect.

    All spiritual beasts naturally cultivate in a single hereditary nature energy. With long lives sometimes spanning thousands of years, their cores become extremely dense. When a spiritual beast dies their core remains, which in turn can be a rich source of energy for cultivation experts to exploit. The only drawback being that a cultivation expert can only absorb energy from a core that matches his own spiritual pressure's nature and it would only be a small boost to his or her cultivation speed.

    It just so happens that a Blood Wolf is a darkness nature spiritual beast.

    Kiso immediately spread out his spiritual zone to its max range, after which his face dramatically changed.

    "So many!!" Kiso cried out as his heart began to race in excitement.

    When he spread out his spiritual zone, he could easily sense every spiritual beast within a little more then half a mile. His spiritual pressure zone was surprisingly slow to grow. Even after four years of constant cultivation, his spiritual pressure had grown by leaps and bounds, yet the range he could extend it hadn't even doubled yet.

    What he didn't know, was that his disappointment at 'only' being able to sense a half mile away, would cause any member of the Winyon clan to lose their minds in awe.

    "Twenty-seven Blood Wolves! And there's more coming!" Kiso's voice trembled as he quickly turned to Yuni explaining, "Yuni, those Blood Wolves are coming towards us, I'm going to go pay them a visit!"

    Gathering spiritual pressure into a single finger, he locked onto the closest Blood Wolf then flickered and disappeared from Yuni's side.

    The Blood Wolves are pack hunters, usually hunting in groups of twenty to thirty. When they catch a scent, the pack leader will issue the kill order with a single howl. The Blood Wolves within the range of the howl will spread out, encircling their prey, before closing in.

    A few meters in front of a three meter long, one and half meter tall blood red wolf with three dark black eyes, a figured suddenly appeared. The Blood Wolf, running at top speed, had no time to react as it's face directly collided with Kiso's outstretched finger.

    When the Blood Wolf made contact with Kiso's finger, he burst forth his spiritual pressure which quickly vaporized the unsuspecting wolf. The wolf never even knew what killed him.

    From the ash still floating in the air, a solid object continued flying forward carrying its previous momentum. Kiso caught the object in his already outstretched hand, bringing it close to his face for an examination. He squinted his eyes, cursing the falling sun as the last light of dusk was peering over the thick trees scattered through the pass.

    Even with the limited light, Kiso could still clearly feel the round, spherical object in his hand. It felt a bit like a stone, yet it was extremely light and radiated a warmth that reminded Kiso of Yuni's tender little body. Most importantly, even without entering the meditative position, Kiso could feel the darkness nature entering his body, flooding towards his core.

    Strangely, Kiso could barely sense his spiritual pressure growing.

    After the time it would take to eat three mouthfuls of rice, the Blood Wolf's core suddenly trembled, then cracked and fell between Kiso's fingers.

    Kiso was completely bewildered, he could feel the darkness nature energy entering his core, yet his spiritual pressure had only risen a tiny amount.

    "Strange...This isn't how Elder Sage described it.." Kiso mumbled under his breath, then his body flickered disappearing once again.

    - - -

    By the time Kiso's body reappeared in front of Yuni, the sun had completely hidden itself under the blanket of the horizon.

    Half asleep, Yuni jumped in surprise at Kiso's sudden appearance. When she saw his face, she couldn't help but ask, "What happened, why do you look so disappointed?"

    Frowning, Kiso replied, "These spiritual beast cores aren't all that great after all."

    He withdrew a core he had saved, then demonstrated for Yuni what had happened to all twenty-eight cores prior to this one.

    Yuni watched as the core trembled then crumbled to pieces.

    "What happened to it? Did you absorb the energy that quickly?" Yuni had heard Elder Sage speak of the process of absorbing nature energy from spiritual beast cores before, so she knew the scene she just witnessed was very odd.

    Shaking his head, Kiso helplessly sighed, "I don't know, but I did absorb the energy. Only, even thirty low-class spiritual beast cores could only count for fifteen minutes of normal meditation."

    With a disappointed face, Kiso slowly walked over to a large boulder, jumping up to sit on top. He closed his eyes and called to Yuni, "No matter, I can still cultivate, let's stop here for tonight."

    Yuni lightly sighed, then picked a boulder close to Kiso's and sat to meditate as well.

    - - - - -

    Like this, six days quickly passed.

    Kiso and Yuni traveled during the day, killing off any spiritual beasts they came across, not bothering with the ones off the main path. At night they would meditate, increasing their spiritual pressure.

    Kiso also practiced his Skyshadow technique during the night. As long as it was night, the darkness nature in the air would be dense and Kiso could easily utilize the technique. He even found that during the day, as long as there was a shadow within his immediate vicinity, including his own shadow, he could manipulate the darkness energy within.

    He also pondered frequently regarding his fight with Danstun. Danstun's technique greatly piqued Kiso's interest as he longed to develop new, powerful methods for utilizing his lightning.

    Danstun had used his earthen nature to create an entire field of tiny rocks that could be used offensively and defensively. Kiso recognized the genius of the technique and strongly desired to replicate it to create a lightning version.

    No matter how hard he tried though, he couldn't stem lightning more then an inch from his body. He was clearly missing something.

    At dawn on the seventh day since entering the Sangrad Mountains, Kiso opened his eyes and let out a breath of cool air. He rose to his feet, fixing his clothes before walking over to Yuni, gently tapping her arm.

    "Yuni, we're almost to the plain, don't tell me you'd rather sit here and meditate?" Kiso purposely poked her in her soft spot.

    Opening one eye, Yuni smiled and replied, "Who's meditating? I've been waiting here for hours."

    Kiso laughed, he truly didn't doubt her words. After all, for the past three days, she's been constantly asking to see the map and reviewing their location. She definitely knew how close they were.

    Most likely, within a few short hours of walking they would reach the plain.

    "Let's get going." Yuni opened her other eye and sprang to her feet before motioning for Kiso to follow.

    After having traveled through tens of mountain passes, last night they had decided to camp at their current location, right at the base of a gigantic mountain. Although they couldn't see the summits of many of the mountains along the way, this one seemed to have nearly half of its mass hidden in the clouds.

    The exciting part was this enormous mountain happened to be the last thing separating them from their destination.

    As they approached the mountain, a strange path was actually carved into the mountainside.

    When they saw the path, Kiso frowned.

    "It seems we're not the first to have been here." He knew the expert that left behind the hidden technique likely wouldn't have any need to create a path up the mountain, nor would Elder Sage.

    Yuni stared on and agreed, "Seems not.. Oh well, only one way to find out!"

    The two of them rapidly ascended mountainside path. Even before reaching the clouds, a long ridge came into view. On the other side of that ridge, the plain should be visible.

    With an excited shout, Yuni bolted forward drawing energy from the depths of her tired body.

    Kiso smiled, watching from behind as she dashed ahead quickly reaching the top.

    When he finally caught up he couldn't help but notice Yuni's face, her eyes were bulging and she just stared down, slack-jawed. Following her gaze, Kiso's own jaw fell.

    Where an empty plain should be, an enormous city took its place. Hundreds of large buildings were built in large circles around a twenty story round tower right in the center. The buildings all seemed to be built by a supreme architect. Magnificent statues were carved into splendid stone walls, even the windows were two sizes larger then Kiso had ever seen.

    The tower in the center seemed to be built from pure obsidian and reflected the dawn light brilliantly. Atop the tower were three extremely large statues of powerful looking men joining hands raising their faces to stare into the heavens.

    If the fact that a city resided where an empty plain should didn't dumbfound Kiso and Yuni enough, the words above every gate along the city walls definitely did the trick.

    Despite being half a mile away atop the ridge, they could clearly see the two extremely large words carved from stone and placed above the closest gate.

    Those words read: Hanzi Academy

    To Be Continued!
  • Chapter Nineteen - Hanzi Academy

    "This..." Kiso's eyes remained wide as he didn't even blink for several minutes.

    Yuni's state wasn't much better.

    Kiso finally frowned, "Surely if they bothered to found an entire academy here, they would have already discovered the cave and the hidden technique within. Even without the map, someone actually stumbled across this plain." Sighing, Kiso shook his head. It was only natural that after countless years, the cave would be discovered.

    Yuni frowned as well adding, "Since it's like this, the technique is no longer ours alone.. Maybe we should just lea..." Kiso quickly cut her off, "No, we can't be certain. Let's go down and ask around for some details. Look, the gates are open, they seem to allow outsiders in freely."

    Yuni glanced back at the gate, but her pretty little face didn't light up like Kiso suspected.

    "Come on, let's go take a look." Kiso urged as he began to descend from the ridge.

    As the academy became closer, Kiso could easily observe the interior. He was astonished to find that this famous academy seemed, quiet. Abnormally quiet in fact, so much so that Kiso immediately sent forth his spiritual zone searching for signs of life.

    "What the?" To Kiso's surprise, within the part of the academy his spiritual zone encompassed, not a single life was present.

    Yuni gave him a questioning look as he informed her, "I can't feel any life inside."

    Her eyes grew a size larger and she moved closer to Kiso whispering, "What happened to them?"

    Kiso shook his head, he had no idea.

    Reaching the bottom of the mountain, only a five hundred meter long stone paved road remained between them and the western gate of the academy. The two of them proceeded cautiously not daring to run straight into a tiger's mouth, if that's what it turns out to be.

    The walls of the academy were around ten meters high, made up of a solid looking stone clearly mined from the nearby mountains.

    Through the gate, now within a hundred meters, Kiso could see the stone road continued straight through the academy, not curving until reaching the very center where it made a circle around the tower. 

    Spiritual zone always extended, Kiso constantly searched from signs of life, to no avail.

    Studying their surroundings, Kiso noticed the walls were actually in fairly bad shape. Signs of battle left their marks everywhere along the walls, gradually getting worse as the wall curved out of view. The gate itself was indeed open, although it seemed that was not by design. Where there should be giant wooden doors or several thick steel bars, was simply blank space.

    As Kiso and Yuni reached the gate, they peered inside. 

    Surprisingly the interior of the academy seemed untouched, yet still void of a single whisper. Kiso sighed and summoned his courage saying, "Let's go in."

    The two of them walked into the academy, tension filling their hearts. After walking forward hundreds of meters, they were about halfway to the obsidian tower when Kiso suddenly stopped.

    Slightly slanting his head towards Yuni, he whispered, "On the other side of the tower there are a large group of people, they're moving slowly towards the center."

    Acting quickly, Kiso decided to leave the main road and travel in a round about way to observe the people.

    After several tens of minutes, Kiso and Yuni arrived at a large building. On the other side, they could hear dreary human footsteps among many lethargic horse trots. 

    Peering around the building down an alley, Kiso could see a parade of apparent students and teachers. The students all wore the same colored cloak with a strange embroidery on the back he couldn't quite make out. Atop the horses, the teachers wore different colored cloaks and Kiso could easily sense most of them had insanely deep spiritual pressure.

    What frightened Kiso was, many of the students clothes were torn and their faces were ashen. Some even were visibly injured, blood on their faces or limping slowly along. The teachers were much better, several of them lay on their horses, barely holding on.

    "What could force even those expert teachers into such a state?" Kiso's mind was currently a stormy sea of thoughts.

    The first thing that came to mind was one simple instinct, "Leave." 

    He pulled his neck back around the corner and sunk to the ground, visibly shaken. 

    Yuni took at peak as well. When she looked back, her face was white. She sat beside Kiso and asked, "We're not staying right? Getting mixed up with those people can only bring us harm. Forget the hidden technique, I don't even want it anymore, let's go look for your parents."

    Kiso glanced over at Yuni, who was staring at him expectantly, then took a deep breath and nodded agreeing, "Right, I don't think the risk would be small this time, let's go."

    As they stood up, Kiso immediately snapped his head to the side, he sensed someone was approaching them.

    A dark silhouette emerged from the shadowy alley opposite from the building they were next to.

    "So your not going to stay? Come now, don't ruin the fun." Bo's voice reached their ears before his image filled their eyes. His sinister tone sent chills down Yuni's spine and made Kiso tense up, gathering spiritual pressure in dense batches towards his fingertips. 

    Yuni hid behind Kiso, who raised a hand towards the shadowy silhouette. Black lightning began coiling around his finger as he threatened, "Step out! If not, don't blame me!" Kiso spoke forcefully, yet not raising his voice enough to be heard from the main road.

    A low pitched laugh rang from the shadow as Bo's figured emerged, hands raised into the air.

    "Come now, brother Kiso, sister Yuni, is that any way to treat an old friend?" Bo walked forward into the sunlight, causing Kiso's brows to furrow.

    Kiso never trusted Bo and the incident with his father landed him on Kiso's list of people to kill should he ever get the chance.

    Noticing Kiso's hand still raised in a threatening manner, Bo's taunting smile sank into cold apathy. Bo took a long glance at the coiling black lightning, a strange flash appearing in his eyes, then tilted his head back and yelled, "INTRUDERS!!!"

    His voice bounced around the academy's building, finding its way to the main road, where instantly several flashes of color moved towards the source.

    Kiso stared at Bo dumbfounded, cursing himself for being hesitant. He vowed to himself if he survived this, he wouldn't ever hesitate again. The familiar face, even though it wasn't a pleasant one, truly made him let his guard down this time.

    If he was alone, Kiso could simply shadowstep away. But he wasn't alone.

    Cursing himself for bringing Yuni into this, he prepared himself for the rapidly approaching teachers.

    Continuously pouring spiritual pressure into his hands, two Blacklight swords merged, flickering periodically.

    The first to arrive was an old man. His blurry figure returned to a solid image, standing precisely between Kiso and Bo. Facing Kiso, the old man's eyes flicked down to Kiso's hands, an extremely surprised expression painting his face.

    One by one, six other figures lined up on either side of the old man, equally facing Kiso. Their faces lit up in surprise as well, one of them actually opened their mouth in shock.

    Kiso frowned, taking a step forward he called out to the old men before Bo had a chance to say another word, "Elders! My name is Kiso Black and this is Yuni Black. We did not come here to cause any harm, your junior over there stumbled upon us by chance and misunderstood us." Kiso's voice carried his own spiritual pressure as it weighed heavily down on the elders. 

    The old man in the center laughed loudly and he stepped forward several meters, a smile on his face.

    "Indeed! Kiso, son of Han, you are indeed not an unwelcome person!" The elder's warm voice caused Kiso's heart to calm and he swiftly withdrew his spiritual pressure to his fingertips.

    Bo's face wasn't the least be dissatisfied. He knew the elders would recognize Kiso's face. His only goal was forcing Kiso and Yuni to remain here.

    The teachers, upon hearing the old man's words, all revealed warm smiles as they walked up to follow.

    The old man walked forward until two meters separated him from Kiso and Yuni.

    He glanced at Yuni, hiding behind Kiso, to see the small girl staring daggers at himself. He couldn't help but throw his head back and laugh loudly.

    When he finally calmed down, he bowed slightly and introduced himself, "Kiso, my name is Weston Hanzi. I am the dean of Hanzi academy and a friend of your grandfather."

    "These six are all my children or grandchildren and teachers of this academy. Allow them to introduce themselves as well." Dean Hanzi pointed at the leftmost young woman.

    The young woman, seemingly in her thirties, smiled and said, "I am the second daughter, name's Vixy" She bowed slightly, keeping it simple.

    The next two appeared completely identical as they stepped forward at the same time introducing themselves, "We are the first and second grandsons, Teq and Beq." The two called out together, failing to distinguish which was which.

    The next three were all young women, seemingly in their late teens, appearing very beautiful. They stared deeply at Kiso as they walked forward together, the eldest looking one spoke out, "We are the daughters of grandfather's first son Izoa. From left to right, that's Rio, I'm Ela, and that's Yan." The two other girls bowed as they were mentioned.

    Yan was seemingly the youngest of the three, appearing to be about seventeen years old. She was also the prettiest of the three. Although none of them were on Yuni's level, Kiso had to admit they had their own charms.

    Kiso pulled Yuni forward to his side and bowed replying, "Elders, Yuni and I were intending to leave after searching for something. I wonder if..." Dean Hanzi frowned after hearing the first words and quickly cut Kiso off, "Nonsense! Such an honored guest should stay a while! If you were searching for something within my Hanzi academy, surely I am the best person to ask. Tonight I personally invite you two to have dinner with my humble self. I'll send little Yan here to set you up in an inn and I'll send for you later."

    Kiso couldn't argue with him, if anyone knew about the technique it would be him.

    "Then I'll be in your care." Kiso choked back his words and bowed again.

    The teacher's bodies flashed away, only Dean Hanzi and Yan remaining.

    Turning to face Bo, Hanzi frowned and called out, "Bo, I'll speak to you about this later."

    Bo bowed, his indifferent face never showing even a slight fluctuation.

    After his promise to Bo, Dean Hanzi's body turned into a blur as well and he returned to the main street.

    Bo gave one last triumphant look at Kiso and Yuni before stepping back into the shadows and disappearing.

    Kiso sighed and looked over to Yan, who's face was studying his own. Before Kiso had the chance to speak, Yuni quickly stepped up next to Kiso, holding his arm close to her body.

    She stared daggers at Yan, completely communicating her intentions through actions.

    Yan's pretty face showed surprise, then laughed softly consoling Yuni, "Okay little Yuni, I get it."

    Kiso didn't bother with their exchange as he directly asked Yan, "Yan, what's the deal with all your students? Why does everyone look like they just got back from war?"

    Yan frowned, showing a face that really didn't fit her gentle disposition, "Because they did..." She sighed and continued, "You probably know, Hanzi Academy accepts students from anywhere, as long as they meet certain requirements, right?" Kiso nodded.

    "Well, a few years ago, we accepted a certain student from the Kamien Empire. That student turned out to be from the imperial family of the Kamien Empire."

    Before she could continue, Kiso had to ask, "Yan, where is the Kamien Empire located and what is the significance behind them?" Kiso still hadn't learned much about the other provinces of the human realm.

    Tilting her head to the side for a moment, Yan continued, "Ah, right, you've probably never been out of Thunderblack Valley. Anyway, the Kamien Empire encompasses the entire northern human province. It single-handedly rules the entire region and can be considered the most powerful individual force in the human realm. You can imagine their influence on even our Hanzi Academy nestled between all four human provinces." 

    Lowering her voice, she stepped a bit closer and added, "That student disappeared within the Osian Tower a few months ago. If not for the other provinces giving us their backing for various reasons, the Kamien Empire would have flattened us by now. Instead, they've been commissioning other schools to attack us frequently."

    "If not for my grandfather, perhaps there wouldn't even be a single soul left alive." Yan's voice trembled as she seemed to recall a series of terrible memories.

    Kiso finally understood the situation, thinking to himself, "That kid from the Kamien Empire probably caught wind of the hidden technique and came here searching for it."

    Giving a difficult smile to Yan, Kiso said, "I see. So that's how it is. I wonder if your grandfather plans to have me join in the war?"

    Yan tilted her head down and mumbled, "You'll have to ask him later.."

    Yuni's eyes were strange after hearing the story, she sent Kiso a mental message saying, "Kiso let's help! It might be fun!"

    Kiso turned his head to Yuni. Viewing her gleaming eyes he laughed inwardly and replied, "It seems Yuni likes to fight now, alright, we'll help if he asks."

    Yuni's face brightened and she happily smiled, her mind in the clouds.

    Yan stared at their happy faces, frowning. "These two seem to be rather inconsiderate. Or maybe.. Ahh, never mind, I'll just drop them off and go home."

    Calling out to Kiso and Yuni, Yan said, "Let's go, I'll show you to the inn you'll be staying at during your time here."

    Startled from their fantasies, Kiso and Yuni quickly nodded and followed Yan.

    After taking a few steps, a sudden shout rang out from behind them, causing Kiso to freeze in his tracks. 

    Slowly turning his head in disbelief, he turned to face that familiar voice.

    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Twenty - Trapped

    Coming down the alley from the main road, Kiso's uncle Ruddy called out, "Kiso! Yuni! What are you guys doing here?!"

    As he approached, a strange expression grew on Yan's face behind them.

    "Uncle Ruddy!" Kiso was flabbergasted, he never expected to see a friendly face in this place.

    Ruddy, Celes' brother, looked to be in a sorry state. He was wearing the Hanzi academy teacher's cloak, yet it was torn and his face was pale. His ordinarily long brown hair now had several gray streaks running through it and he seemed to have aged a decade since they last saw him.

    Regardless, Kiso recognized him instantly and ran forward to greet him.

    "Uncle Ruddy, where are my parents? Are they here too?" Kiso immediately asked without hesitation.

    Ruddy's eyes reddened, he seemed to be filled with deep regret.

    "I... Kiso, your father is..." His body slightly trembled before continuing, "Your father is dead. Your mother was with him when they were captured but she hasn't been seen for almost two years."

    Glancing back at Yan, Ruddy's eyes widened and Kiso could tell he wanted to take back the words he just said.

    Yan gave him an awkward smile, then walked out of earshot. 

    Ruddy revealed a grateful expression thinking to himself, "That one's not so bad." Then motioned for Kiso and Yuni to come closer.

    "Kiso. You truly should not have come here. Your parents and I fled here three years ago while being chased by the Ichi clan's death squads. If it wasn't for that damned person, your parents would never have been forced to participate in this stupid war." Ruddy sighed and shook his head. "Since you are with Yan, you met Dean Hanzi correct?"

    Kiso nodded, he didn't have a bad impression of Hanzi, yet his uncle's story wasn't lining up with his image.

    "Then, he probably seemed warm and friendly right?" Ruddy continued.

    "Right. He invited us for dinner. Is there something more to this uncle?" Kiso replied.

    Ruddy's mouth opened a little, staring off into the distance before coming back to his senses, "He actually invited you two to dinner? Are you certain? He didn't mention anything about a enrollment?"

    Kiso shook his head saying, "Uncle, just say it, what is this big secret."

    Ruddy no longer spoke out, instead sending a mental message to the two of them. 

    "Kiso, I'll tell you this. If you enroll in Hanzi Academy, you won't be able to leave." The tone of voice ringing in Kiso's mind was extremely sorrowful. 

    "That Dean Hanzi grasps an extremely dark technique. As long as a student or teacher agrees to enroll here at this academy, they will become slaves to the Dean's will. This is because behind the Dean, is the Apostle of Death Sect! The 'contract' to enroll here at the academy is actually a technique of the Dean's, called 'Deaths Will'. As long as a drop of blood touches a contract written by him personally, the owner of the blood will be unable to resist whats written."

    Kiso's face drained color becoming ghastly white. As he thought back to his feeling of foreboding prior to entering the academy. He couldn't help but wish he listened to his gut.

    Yuni's face was equally white, she glanced towards Kiso's face. She sent a mental message to him as well, "Kiso, I'm sorry.. Your parents.."

    Kiso's body trembled, he thought he had been prepared for bad news long ago. The ray of hope that he had been given back at Blackspark now seemed more like a curse then a blessing.

    Sending another message, Ruddy continued, "Kiso, I know this is a tough pill to swallow. If Dean Hanzi really invited you to dinner, he doesn't plan to let you escape. I can't take any action to save you either, my contract would immediately...." Ruddy's words trailed off.

    Eyes growing fierce, he mustered what little spine he had left and continued, "Deaths Will, if the orders are broken, will immediately tear itself to pieces. Just know, the contract is linked with the body of the contracted, your father disobeyed an order of the contract to try to save your mother, that's how he..."

    Kiso's breathing was rough as he tried to push back the sorrow from his uncle's words.

    His heart was churning in emotion, several different feelings battling for relevance.

    Finally, vengeance won.

    His breathing calmed and his eyes shone a dark black flickering light.

    "Uncle Ruddy." Kiso sent a mental message, "Tell me, what order did my father disobey? Of the people remaining here at the academy, how many can be considered above my grandfather in power?"

    Ruddy's eyes widened, "He.. Disobeyed the cardinal rule of the contract, 'never disobey a direct order of the Dean'. As for people above Mord in power... I suppose you already met some of them, it'd be Hanzi's direct family members."

    Kiso revealed a puzzled expression and asked aloud, "If there's such a thing written on the contract, why are so many people willing to sign it with blood?"

    Ruddy praised Kiso's insight, replying, "There are many reasons. In fact, some people do indeed turn away. Although those are the ones that bother to read the contract. With Dean Hanzi's naturally friendly attitude when around outsiders, many people fall victim to his facade alone. Others, the ones who read the contract and still sign it, are attracted by one simple thing. Any member of the academy will be given the cultivation method to death nature."

    Kiso frowned. Death nature, from what Elder Sage told him, is extremely sinister and affects all living things around it. It causes bloodlust in normally docile people and makes weaker willed people lose themselves completely.

    Yuni and Kiso looked at each other. After sensing the nature energy all around them, their heads cleared as they pushed their spiritual pressure through their minds.

    Letting out a cool breath, Kiso made an immediate decision. "We have to leave this place."

    Ruddy nodded, "Right, nothing good comes of being here. A silly thing like a hidden technique isn't worth it."

    Kiso's body stiffened.

    "I didn't mention anything about that to Ruddy, how would he?" Kiso's head swiveled as he looked around, finally noticing hundreds of pairs of eyes lurking in the shadows.

    Kiso's rage boiled over, they even had his own family baiting him in. 

    Immediately, he sent his spiritual zone back out, grasping the darkness nature energy surrounding the bodies of the people lurking in the shadows. 

    Those people only felt their bodies go still as they lost the ability to move. Not long after, their bodies suddenly jerked and flew into the air above Kiso.

    Hundreds of petrified students gazed down at the handsome youth, who was holding his arms above his head.

    When Kiso saw the faces of those students, his heart softened. They were all ashen and deathly thin, clearly they were being manipulated. Yet if he showed them mercy now, they would continue to work against him. He was truly in a bind, not know how to deal with them.

    Suddenly, a dense deathly aura exploded in Kiso's spiritual zone, buzzing straight for his location. Although Kiso wanted to take vengeance on Dean Hanzi, he wasn't confident in his ability to do so at the moment.

    Acting quickly, Kiso flung the hundreds of students across the city, away from himself. At most those students would suffer some injuries, he felt a slightly bad but was forced without another choice.

    Grabbing Yuni's hand, Kiso bolted through the alley towards the obsidian tower in the center. When they turned the corner onto the main road, they could clearly see the pitch black tower less then three hundred meters up the road.

    The aura of death growing closer and closer, Kiso and Yuni broke through the crowds of weak students, closing the gap to the tower.

    As the aura closed in, Kiso turned his head back to see Dean Hanzi floating through the air, holding a sinister looking book in his right hand. His left hand was stretched out in front of him, plumes of dark smoke coiling around his arm.

    As he passed the students below them, they didn't even react and continued to march lifelessly along the road.

    Kiso and Yuni rapidly approached the tower, frantically searching for an entrance.

    At this point, Kiso knew if they were caught, they would never get another chance at freedom. Their only shot was to enter the cave containing the hidden technique and pray that Dean Hanzi had not already discovered its secrets.

    Now within ten meters of the tower, Kiso felt a scolding hot pain coming from his chest. He reached his hand into his clothes and removed the empty vial. The vial was blistering hot and trembled violently with every step Kiso took towards the tower.

    With an outstretched hand, Kiso held the vial and reached towards the tower crying out, "LET US IN!!!"

    An ominous plume of black smoke racing towards their backs, Kiso's hand holding the vial finally made contact with the tower. Luckily he was holding Yuni's hand, or she would have been left behind as the tower seemingly sucked their spiritual energy, along with their bodies, inside.

    The plume of black smoke smashed against the wall where Kiso and Yuni had just been, then dissipated.

    Dean Hanzi hovered in the air, staring in disbelief at the tower.

    He waved his hand motioning for someone to come forward. 

    When that person reached his side, he lifted his hand and smacked the young girl with a terrifying amount of force. 

    A huge hand shaped welt appeared on Yan's cheek as she bowed and apologized, "Grandfather, I'm sorry, I notified you as soon as I noticed a change in that boy's heart. It was too late by the time I realized you had already attacked his mind. You should've told Yan your intentions before you left..." Her head hung low as her cheek throbbed in great pain.

    Yan was a diamond in the rough that was the Hanzi clan, her heart was truly soft. She didn't mention Ruddy and secretly hoped for Kiso and Yuni's survival.

    - - -

    Inside the tower, Kiso and Yuni are currently falling in pitch black darkness.

    Kiso spread his spiritual zone out, only to find that he can no longer sense the outside world.

    They had seemingly entered another space entirely.

    Kiso could still sense the cylindrical walls around him yet he couldn't feel the bottom.

    Still holding Yuni's hand, he grasped the darkness energy around himself, slowing his fall until he held himself in the air.

    Yuni wrapped her arms around his neck and although Kiso couldn't see her face, he could feel her heartbeat. With a slightly panicked voice she broke the silence, "Kiso, where are we? What just happened?"

    Kiso took a deep breath replying, "We're trapped."

    He started to use his Skyshadow technique to quickly lower them through the 'air'.

    As they floated downwards Kiso thought to himself, "Uncle Rudy's words most likely weren't lies..Mother..Father.." Silent tears fell from his eyes, as he held Yuni slightly tighter.

    After the time it would take to eat two bowls of rice, Kiso's spiritual pressure zone finally touched the bottom. The bottom seemed expand from the small tunnel they were in into a large cavern. At the bottom of the cavern, Kiso could feel a large lake with a few scattered 'islands' around the middle.

    Kiso also sensed something far more thought provoking, a human! There was actually someone sitting on own of those islands down in the cavern.

    The scary part, was that human was peering up through the darkness, like it could sense Kiso and Yuni approaching.

    Kiso's curiosity was piqued, he couldn't be bothered whether or not the human could sense himself.

    As they entered the cavern, a brilliant picture came into view. 

    On the roof of the cavern, hundreds of thousands of tiny lights filled the area bellow with a beautiful dull blue hue of light.

    Yuni gasped and she blinked several times, pinching Kiso's arm.

    "Ouch." Kiso complained, pinching her back.

    Yuni giggled, "Not dreaming!"

    Shaking his head, Kiso looked down at the largest of the islands amidst the lake. Seated in the meditative position on the island was a young man, staring up at them, a look of surprise on his face.

    Kiso guided them to that young man's island, landing a few meters away from him.

    The young man stood up, tilting his head to the side he asked, "Did my father send you two?"

    Kiso revealed a puzzled expression, then quickly realized this must be the Kamien young master.

    Shaking his head Kiso replied, "No, my name is Kiso Black and this is Yuni. We came here escaping from Dean Hanzi. Before we engage in any useless banter, I wonder if you'll answer me one question?"

    The Kamien young man tilted his head in wonder, then replied, "If it's about the contract with Hanzi, the moment I came here, the link was lost."

    Kiso nodded, that had indeed been the question, yet he still asked, "Then, how exactly did you get in here?"

    The young man smiled, then stuffed a hand into his clothes, retrieving a small metallic vial.

    Kiso's eyes lit up, lifting his hand, he opened his hand revealing an identical vial in his own hand.

    The young man's body trembled and he spoke with a wavering voice, "Kiso, Yuni, my name is Julian Kamien, the first prince of the Kamien Empire. If you are in possession of the vial, do you by chance.... Also have the other part?"

    Kiso looked at Yuni, then back at Julian before replying, "What other part?"

    To Be Continued!
  • Chapter Twenty One - Evil Roots

    Kiso's words echoed in the dimly lit cave, casting disappointment onto the face of the Kamien prince. His pretty face had been visibly excited yet seemed to fade away in an instant upon hearing Kiso's reply.

    Hesitating for a moment, Julian studied Kiso's face before sighing, "If you two don't have the artifact, it can't be helped. Nobody has seen or heard of the true artifact for centuries."

    After discovering Kiso and Yuni didn't possess the map, the prince's attitude swung a one-eighty. His originally excited and charismatic appearance now seemed dreary and indifferent.

    Thinking to himself for a moment, Julian shook his head, closing his eyes.

    After several tens of seconds, Kiso determined this prince was no longer in the mood to talk. With a cold snort, Kiso turned to walk away while motioning for Yuni to follow.

    The moment his back faced Julian however, Kiso sensed a powerful fluctuation of spiritual pressure from behind.

    As Kiso gathered spiritual pressure of his own, Julian's eyes shot open and he yelled, "HOLD IT!"

    Rising to his feet, Julian walked towards the now stationary Kiso and Yuni.

    Kiso sensed Julian was up to no good and quickly sent Yuni a mental message, "Yuni, it seems this prince wants to make trouble for us, should we wait? Or...." Black lightning flashed in Kiso's eyes as he glanced sideways at Yuni.

    Yuni nodded, she wanted to wait and see what the prince would do.

    Kiso slowly turned around, the prince had a small whirlwind circling the ground around his feet and his hair was blowing from his own spiritual pressure. Seeing the prince was proficient in wind techniques, Kiso was secretly surprised. Wind techniques were exceedingly rare and difficult to grasp.

    Julian raised a finger at Kiso and forcefully inquired, "If my father didn't send you two, who did?" He asked, yet loaded his gun and released the safety while waiting for Kiso's answer.

    Kiso wasn't in the mood to fabricate any stories at the moment and honestly replied, "I came here on my own following a legend from my Thunderblack clan. Whether or not you believe me is up to you." When he spoke the final words, black lightning sparked around his body in an imposing manner.

    Prince Julian's face changed when he saw the coiling black lightning around Kiso's body, he quickly withdrew his own spiritual pressure, a cold sweat forming on his back. Even if he attacked, he would likely suffer heavy damage in return, it wouldn't be worth it.

    Trying to quickly smooth things over Julian smiled saying, "So it's like that! I was afraid that wretched dean sent you in here after me.."

    Kiso's head tilted in curiosity as he asked, "I actually just met Dean Hanzi today, although our parting was not a favorable one." Shivers ran down his spine as he recalled that black smoke plume.

    Julian hurriedly nodded, "Indeed! I can't imagine it would be! That Dean Hanzi is an Apostles of Death sect elder!"

    Recalling a collage of unfortunate events, Julian's body trembled. 

    Looking at Kiso's face still filled with curiosity, Julian considered it as a chance to get on Kiso's good side. He quickly asked, "Kiso, how much do you know about these Apostles of Death?"

    Kiso shook his head, "Nothing much. I heard a little bit from a family member. What I do know though, is that they killed some important people to me and must answer this debt."

    The flames in Kiso's eyes were genuine, which caused Julian to breathe a sigh of relief.

    "If it's like that, then I'll tell you a little bit about them." Julian returned to his seat on the floor, sitting cross legged. 

    Kiso and Yuni walked over as well and sat down facing him.

    Julian took a deep breath and stared into Kiso's eyes as he began, "As you may know, my Kamien Empire encompasses the entire northern human realm. We have dominated the north for thousands of years, yet recently our power has been on the decline. My father, the king, couldn't find any cause for this sudden decline and had been growing extremely restless."

    Kiso and Yuni nodded along with the story. Although Julian spoke like they should already know, this was actually a good lesson for them.

    "That is, until around a hundred years ago." Julian was suddenly cut off as Yuni couldn't help but ask, "Prince Julian, just how old are you?"

    Julian blinked a few times, then laughed, "I'm actually only twenty-five this year, this story actually originally was told to me by my father. He is the one that would cause your eyes to bulge and yours jaws to drop. This last year he finally turned one thousand years old!"

    Kiso's eyes widened. What did turning one thousand years old mean? This prince's father was a true expert!

    Kiso had learned from elder sage that when your spiritual pressure reached a certain density, it physically transforms your veins. The new veins never age and support much higher amounts of spiritual pressure. But to reach such a level? At most one of every ten million people might have a shot.

    Considering the powerful man behind Julian, Kiso couldn't help but thank the gods he hadn't acted rashly before.

    Watching Kiso and Yuni staring in wonder, Julian chuckled, it was a sight he had seen many times before.

    Coughing, Julian continued, "Anyway, a hundred years ago, my father secretly accompanied one of his empire's army battalions for several weeks in hope of discovering who was killing his men off. Just when he was growing restless and about to return, a single hooded figure confronted his men. That hooded figure use incredibly sinister spiritual pressure and emanated a thick deathly aura. Seeing that figure about to attack his men, my father turned the tables on him and captured him."

    Pausing for a breath, Julian shook his head in disdain, "Unfortunately, the only information my father god from that man was that he belonged to the Apostles of Death sect. After giving the name of his sect, the man's body trembled and dissolved into ash. He had killed himself. 

    Since that day, my father has done everything in his power to gather information on this sect, yet has been unable to gather any sturdy leads at all.

    That is, until three years ago.

    An Apostle of Death made a gigantic mistake and attempted to assassinate my father in his sleep. Although my father did suffer an unfortunate injury from the matter, he captured that Apostle. 

    It must be said that this Apostle was particularly sinister. He didn't mind one bit as he revealed all sorts of information to my father. Some of it was true, some false. The greatest piece of information that Apostle gave my father...Was this!"

    Julian held up the metallic vial in his hand.

    Kiso raised an eyebrow, he already knew the secrets behind the vial. He wanted to hear more about the Apostles of Death sect itself, so he cut in, "Julian, you should know I already know about the secrets of the vial. Did the Apostle reveal anything else? Like where the other members of the sect can be found?"

    Julian's mouth opened, staring blankly for a moment, before replying, "Of course! That Apostle truly didn't have any regard for his sect at all! From what he told us, assuming its the truth, he gave three extremely valuable pieces of information.

    First.. In the Apostles of Death sect, there are thirteen elders!

    Second.. Each of those elders presides over an academy or a powerful branch sect!

    Most importantly however, that apostle informed my father that the purpose for their sect's entire existence was the revival of a certain god. Unfortunately, he refused to elaborate on that last bit of information."

    Swallowing hard, Kiso's face turned slightly pale. 

    "Thirteen Hanzis? Too difficult." Kiso shook his head in helplessness. 

    Julian smiled, again raising the metallic vial, "Right! That's why I said the most important piece of information was this!"

    Kiso looked at the metallic vial in Julian's hand, then sent a questioning gaze at Julian.

    On cue, Julian continued, "Since I truly have nothing to loose by telling you this, I'll share. The truth is, this vial is the key to enter the tower above, as you probably already knew.

    However, these vials are two of many! They were created by an ancient expert who had discovered this cavern long ago. That ancient expert created the tower above to protect this cavern from the unworthy.

    And just what is so special about this cavern that needs the protection of such an elaborate defensive formation?"

    Julian's teeth shone as he smiled at Kiso and Yuni.

    "A hidden technique!" He exclaimed, raising his chin into the air, waiting for their gasps.

    Kiso glanced over at Yuni, who was trying hard to contain her giggles.

    Opening a single eye, Julian looked at the two of them who clearly didn't seem the least bit surprised.

    Frowning, Julian's previously exuberant voice dulled, "You already knew that too?"

    Kiso nodded replying, "Yes. Although we don't know what the technique is or how to obtain it."

    After hearing Kiso's words, Julian's eyes lit up and the smile crept back onto his face. Seeing his chance in appearance, Kiso's face brightened as well.

    Julian took another deep breath, "Then it seems I still have something to tell you two! Although let me first tell you the significance behind this hidden technique.

    I can tell you this for certain. The hidden technique found in this cavern, is the key to defeating the Apostles of Death! Even if they succeed in reviving that powerful god behind them, this technique was the original cause of that god's death.

    However, since the Apostles of Death are in possession of the metallic vials, they certainly know that technique is located here.

    My father and I believe that they are presiding over academies and sects in an attempt to locate someone that can use the vial to enter this cavern! Therefore, my father sent me here to investigate under a false identity.

    After that apostle told my father that bit of information, he basically didn't sleep or eat until he discovered an ancient scroll recounting the battle between those two ancient gods. Unfortunately, the scroll was heavily deteriorated. The only things he was able to make sense of was that the spiritual pressure nature of the two gods was wind and death and that the name of the technique the wind god used, was Divine Wind!"

    Kiso frowned, neither him nor Yuni possessed wind nature spiritual pressure.

    Julian sighed and concluded, "Unfortunately, the only way to find that technique in this cavern is an artifact left behind by the wind god himself."

    Kiso took a deep breath then sighed as he stood up and walked to the edge of the island.

    Thinking over the information Julian just fed him, he was battling himself. On one hand, if he reveals the map to Julian, the hidden technique can be acquired and used to take down the Apostles of Death. That was something Kiso greatly wished for. Yet, if it was indeed a wind nature technique, he would likely be unable to grasp it. The revenge for his father's death would be taken by someone else's hands.

    But, there was still a chance Julian's information was slightly incorrect. After all, that scroll had apparently been significantly damaged.

    Nodding to himself, Kiso made his decision.

    "Julian, Yuni, come over here for a moment." Kiso called back to the two still seated behind him.

    As Julian walked up, he asked, "What is it Kiso? You suddenly walked off after listening to my stories, I thought you were angry.." Julian's expression was conflicted, he never had been treated in such a way. Growing up under the wing of the most powerful man in the northern human province always made people extremely cautious around him. Yet this young man in front of him dared to act in such a manor, in a way, it was refreshing to him.

    Kiso turned around to face the two of them, reaching a hand into his clothes with a crafty smile on his face.

    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Twenty Two - Hidden Technique's Alter

    Julian watched as Kiso reached into his clothes and pulled a rolled piece of parchment out.

    “This is…” Julian’s face couldn’t help but change. He knew the ancient artifact was a string bound roll of parchment, although he hadn’t mentioned it to Kiso and Yuni.

    Kiso carefully watched Julian’s reaction when he took out the parchment. When he saw the obvious excitement on the prince’s face he quietly breathed a sigh of relief.

    “Since you seem to know what this is already, I’ll save you the guessing game. From your reaction this is probably the artifact you previously mentioned.” Kiso carefully knelt down, unrolling the parchment and pressing it open on the floor.

    As the map came into view, Julian’s face brightened for a moment only to be quickly replaced by a frown a second later.

    “Kiso…What…Did you do?” Julian’s voice trembled causing Kiso to look down at the parchment.

    What had previously been been an illustration of the Sangrad Mountains, was now completely blank.

    “Ah? That’s odd, it was a map of the Sangrad Mountains last time I checked..” Kiso was surprised but not nearly as agitated as Julian.

    “I wonder where the ink went?” Yuni wondered aloud, equally indifferent.

    Kiso took out his vial and opened it to inspect the inside, only to discover it was still empty.

    Seeing Kiso open the vial, Julian raised an eyebrow, “Just now that ‘ink’ seeped through the parchment, disappearing. Don’t tell me you two poured the liquid in the vial onto the artifact?”

    Kiso hesitated for a moment, then nodded, “Right, after we poured the ink from the vial onto the parchment, it became a map of the Sangrad Mountains, which led us here. That’s a good thing right?”

    Julian chuckled with a bit of difficultly before saying, “I suppose it couldn’t be helped, you two didn’t know better.

    Actually, ‘the parchment’ written on the side of the vial, refers to an ordinary piece of parchment. The creator of the tower above never possessed the artifact, so he was probably just careless in his description.

    In other words, no matter which piece of parchment you poured that liquid on, it still would have become a map.”

    When Julian finished speaking, both Kiso and Yuni’s mouths were open.

    “If he never possessed the artifact, why would he bother to seal this place off with such an elaborate defensive formation?” Yuni couldn’t help but ask.

    Julian pondered for a moment, then guessed, “Well, he probably stumbled across this place by accident and sensed the powerful spiritual pressure within the cavern. The man was most likely a powerful expert in formations, yet finding the hidden technique absolutely requires the artifact. Since he could sense the cavern’s profound energy yet couldn’t find anything extraordinary on his own, he probably just created the tower to seal it off while he went to search for more information regarding its contents.

    As for why he made so many ‘keys’…Let’s see.. Maybe he spent his lifetime searching for the information to no avail, thus made several keys leading to its location in hopes someone might be able to unlock its secrets.”

    Kiso nodded, it was a fairly good guess.

    After nodding, Kiso’s brows furrowed and he said, “There’s still one thing I’m not clear on in that case. I originally thought that the ink and parchment I possessed to be two parts of the same artifact. Yet your information falsifies that.

    So then I ask you, how do you know that this parchment isn’t just another piece of regular parchment?” Kiso was actually rather nervous about this point.

    Julian just smiled, pointing towards the parchment.

    Following his finger, Kiso looked down. Actually, he was pointing to the string laying on the ground beside the parchment.

    “Kiso, don’t tell me you are unaware what kind of string that is?” Julian’s tone suggested Kiso should know, yet he didn’t.

    Shaking his head Kiso said, “Although I can feel the spiritual pressure it contains, I don’t know..”

    Julian smiled and suggested, “Kiso, pour some spiritual pressure into that string.”

    Picking up the string, Kiso sent a small thread of spiritual pressure into the string. Tiny black sparks, representing Kiso’s spiritual pressure, flowed along the string, causing it to twist and bend. After several tens of seconds, the string had completely changed shape. From a loose string used to tie parchment, it became a stiff object.

    That object, was a key!

    Nodding, Julian said, “As I thought. The thread used in that string is one of a kind. Actually, rather then thread I should say that string is made of hair!

    After centuries, how could strands of hair still contain spiritual pressure?

    There’s only one explanation, it’s the hair of a god!”

    “Ah!” Kiso connected the dots as well, it all suddenly made sense.

    Yuni’s mind was still focused on the goal and their conversation at the moment was simply a means to an end. She impatiently inquired, “So, now that we know we have artifact, how do we find the hidden technique?”

    Julian smiled, “Simple! Follow me.” Julian turned while motioning for them to follow.

    Julian led them across several long stone bridges connecting the islands toward a particularly well lit corner of the cavern.

    When they reached the corner, Kiso and Yuni’s eyes sparkled.

    Tiny little insects harmlessly floated around emitting a faint blue glow. In this corner of the cavern, several thousands of them gathered surrounding a magnificent alter. Carved from a beautifully smooth jade stone, the alter had several jade steps curved in a half moon leading up to a platform. Atop the alter was a pedestal which had a square imprint in the center with a small hole above it.

    Yuni couldn’t hold back and started to excitedly dash towards the pedestal when Julian suddenly shouted, “Stop!”

    Nearly tumbling forward, Yuni balanced herself before spinning around to pout, “What is it now? We’re one step away, don’t you want to see what this entire thing is all about?!”

    Her words caught the support of Kiso as he glanced towards Julian, waiting for an answer.

    Julian breathed a sigh of relief, “Yuni, look at the ground in front of you. Read what it says and you’ll thank me.”

    Yuni glanced at a small metallic plate embedded in the jade stage below her feet.

    The plate read: Yuka’s Alter of Divine Wind, WARNING – If you are below the fifth stage of spiritual pressure, do not proceed as your body will wither and perish from my alter’s protective formation.

    Yuni tilted her head curiously as she turned back to Julian, “How are you supposed to know what stage of spiritual pressure you possess?”

    Julian’s smug smile instantly disappeared as he mouth dropped.

    “You..You don’t even know that much?” Julian shook his head, he had thought these two were experts based on Kiso’s spiritual pressure display earlier.

    Kiso frowned, he had actually heard a little bit about the stages of spiritual pressure from Elder Sage. That information was in name only though. Elder Sage had purposely neglected to elaborate, stating that it was irrelevant and he should just focus on cultivating.

    “Julian, just consider us two a couple of country bumpkins who are ignorant to what color the sky is. We truly have no idea how to assess spiritual pressure stages.” Kiso answered for Yuni.

    “I see..” Julian’s mocking expression withered as he held out his palm materializing a fist-sized clear crystal.

    “This is something any spiritual pressure cultivator should know about.. It’s called a Stage Crystal.

    When a cultivator pours spiritual pressure into this crystal, it will change color. That color represents what stage of spiritual pressure your at. You can even tell how far along the stage your are based on the intensity of the color.”

    Yuni’s eyes sparkled as she sent a mental message to Kiso, “Kiso, it’s just like the Black Thunder Pillar at the youth trials! This prince’s name is even the same as the elder back then!”

    Kiso nodded, although he suspected the Black Thunder Pillar was a somewhat primitive version. After all, he had cracked it with his spiritual pressure.

    Julian continued, “The colors of the stages from one to seven, seven being the greatest, are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white.

    Although there are spiritual pressure stages beyond seven, this crystal cannot handle them and would simply crack under their spiritual pressure.

    Here, I’ll give a demonstration.”

    Julian’s face became serious as he gather spiritual pressure into his palm, pouring it into the crystal.

    Gusts of wind circled around Julian’s palm as the crystal turned bright yellow.

    Sighing, Julian gave an awkward smile, “As you can see, I’m at the third stage of spiritual pressure and thus cannot even approach the alter. In fact, when I first entered this cavern I was only at the early third stage. That bright yellow you saw just now represents the late third stage. Being alone all this time I devoted every second to cultivating and barely managed to approach the fourth stage.

    Here, give it a try.”

    Julian tossed the crystal to Kiso.

    Kiso couldn’t help but smile as he clenched the crystal. Gathering spiritual pressure into his palm, black lightning began to dance across the surface of the crystal. A few moments later the crystal turned an extremely bright green.

    “As I thought, the color of our lightning represents our spiritual pressure stage as well. Does that mean there are stages beyond black?” Kiso wondered to himself.

    If Kiso wasn’t surprised by the result, the same cannot be said for Julian as he stared at the crystal in Kiso’s hand slack-jawed.

    “Your actually at the late fourth stage of spiritual pressure! You might be able to break through to the fifth stage within the next few years! It seems we might have some hope of obtaining the hidden technique after all..” Julian’s voice was extremely excited and he had a mixture of respect and relief on his face.

    He quickly added, “To be honest, I discovered this alter long ago. After reading the plate, I almost lost hope as I knew my spiritual pressure was at least a decade away from reaching the fifth stage. Who would have thought such a good stroke of luck would float down to meet me…”

    As Julian was speaking, Kiso tossed the Stage Crystal to Yuni. Rather then listening to Julian, he was much more interested in learning Yuni’s spiritual pressure stage.

    Yuni was equally excited, yet a bit nervous too.

    She caught the crystal and immediately poured spiritual pressure into her palm.

    Prismatic lightning sparks surrounded the crystal, turning it a dull green.

    Just as Julian was finishing up his little speech, his words suddenly cut off and his jaw dropped again. “Heavens! Even Yuni is in the fourth stage?! This senior is truly a failure of a cultivator…Wait, how old are you two exactly?”

    Kiso and Yuni’s smiling expressions grew a tinge haughty as Yuni replied, “Although Kiso is a few months older, we’re both fourteen. Actually, Kiso will be turning fifteen in a couple of weeks!”

    Julian’s legs gave out as he feel to the ground.

    “Geniuses! You two are truly geniuses! Even in my entire empire there are only a handful of cultivators beyond the fourth stage and every one of them are old men or women…Even my father, the number one expert in the northern human province is only at the sixth stage. He’s even been stuck there for centuries..”

    Upon reaching the sixth stage of spiritual pressure ones body would stop aging, allowing them to virtually live forever as long as they aren’t killed by someone.

    Although there are some special methods to duplicate this effect, they are exceedingly rare and usually require the help of a spiritual beast.

    Kiso chuckled and helped Julian to his feet, “Although our spiritual pressure is decent, we’re lacking in several important areas. Even facing someone with less spiritual pressure, as long as their techniques are just a bit more powerful we would surely lose.”

    Julian calmed down and agreed, “That’s true, spiritual pressure stages are just a general gauge of ones strength. Techniques can easily make up for a gap in even several stages of spiritual pressure during battle.”

    Yuni frowned and nodded as well. Their recent battle against Danstun was still very fresh on their minds.

    Taking a deep breath, Kiso announced, “Anyway, since we know what we lack and have limited rations, let’s not waste any time.”

    Kiso and Yuni both immediately lowered their bodies into the meditative position, not bothering to change locations.

    Julian was startled, he still had a few things he wanted to ask these two, yet Kiso’s words were ones he could not refute.

    Sighing inwardly, Julian helplessly lowered his own body, joining them in cultivation.

    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Twenty Three - Prince Julian's Requests

    Time passed and soon three months have blown by.

    Kiso, Yuni, and prince Julian formed a small circle all seated in the meditative position. Aside from occasionally stopping to eat or sleep for a couple of hours, the three of them have been cultivating non-stop.

    Recently, Kiso has been raising his spiritual pressure slower and slower as he is approaching the bottleneck of the fourth stage.

    Kiso thought to himself, "I wonder what's beyond the black lightning stage? Elder Sage didn't even mention a word about there being higher levels.."

    Pondering a bit further, he noted, "Although I never did see him exert his own spiritual pressure in the form of lightning now that I think about it."

    During these past three months, although Kiso has yet to break through to the fifth stage, between the three of them there has been a bit of progress.

    Yuni recently tested her spiritual pressure using the Stage Crystal discovering she has risen to the beginning of the late fourth stage of spiritual pressure.

    Not only Yuni, even Julian has said that he is one step away from breaking through to the fourth stage himself.

    As his companions have steadily been increasing in power, Kiso has been starting to feel the war horse on his tail. He has always taken pride in being one step ahead of Yuni, yet with his stagnant cultivation she has been rapidly catching up to him.

    But how could he have known that breaking through to the fifth stage is akin to nearly tripling his power and is extremely difficult to do. Some cultivators spend their entire lifetimes even unable to break through to the second stage, let alone the fifth. If his grandfather could hear his inward complaints, he would like slap Kiso across his face in jealousy.

    Still, Kiso was determined to make the jump on his own.

    As he sat meditating, Kiso carefully studied his core with his inner eye. "Still not right..No matter how much heat and darkness nature fuses into my core, nothing changes."

    The dark stormy cloud in Kiso's core has remained the same for several months now.

    "It seems like the nature energy I absorb just flows back out in bursts." Black lightning constantly escaped his body, traveling through the dark black cloud surrounding him.

    Feeling at a loss once again, Kiso casually shifted his inner eye to his spirit veins. As he watched as nature energy flowed through them towards his core, he suddenly noticed something. The bursts of spiritual pressure leaving his body actually push all the nature energy flowing in, right back out!

    "Umm.. That's not supposed to happen is it?" Kiso didn't know what that meant, although he felt it wasn't right.

    "Perhaps... My core has been completely full this entire time? I've been sitting at the peak of the fourth stage for months, wasting cultivation?" Kiso's head started to hurt. He rapidly pondered ways to prevent the energy from escaping to no avail. 

    Without an easy answer, Kiso could only begin to think outside the box.

    Throwing out all the prior cultivation techniques, he started to ponder instead how to alter his core to allow more spiritual pressure to be stored.

    "If my current core is a reflection of a normal storm, then following nature, I should try to change it into a more powerful storm." Kiso's intelligence led him to a quick hypothesis. "The question is how to do that. My core is already rotating so maybe I just need to give it a little push.."

    As Kiso began to urge the spiritual pressure in his core to rotate faster, it caused an incredible amount of nature energy to suddenly race into his spirit veins. Before he could even react, searing hot energy, accompanied by ice cold energy, overtook his conscious making him lose his focus.

    Even the dark shroud around him and the lightning coiling around his body was sucked towards his core.

    As the vast energy passed through his spiritual veins, they caused them to bulge, increasing their size by nearly double. This caused an immense amount of pain to Kiso, but he suffered through refusing to give up.

    After several tens of minutes, Kiso refocused his mind that was thrown into disarray. Focusing on his core, he almost shouted out in shock. 

    The previously slow moving storm cloud became an intensely wild rotating vortex cloud. Looking closely at the vortex, Kiso could see a snake of black lightning coiling around the vortex refusing to dissipate.

    "!!!" Kiso's eyes shot open in excitement.

    The occasional bursts of lightning in his core before had become a constant never ending lightning snake. That could only mean one thing: His power had increased immensely!

    He quickly stood up and called over to Julian who had already opened his eyes when he sensed Kiso's disturbance, "Julian, quick, hand me the Stage Crystal!"

    Julian's eyes widened and he quickly materialized the crystal, tossing it to Kiso.

    By this time, Yuni had opened her eyes as well and she quickly asked, "Kiso, did you figure it out?"

    Kiso glanced over at Yuni, slightly thrown off his excitement by her choice of words, but quickly shook her off and poured spiritual pressure into his palm.

    As he exerted spiritual pressure, a thick, snake-like coil of black lightning began to jump around the Stage Crystal. Even the air around the crystal started to distort as the heat from the lightning affected the air surrounding it. 

    Before Kiso even had a chance to take a second breath, the crystal became a vivid shade of blue.
    Julian's jaw dropped. He exclaimed in his head, "Already at the fifth stage! How is that possible?!" Julian had thought it would take Kiso several more months to reach his breakthrough.

    Kiso looked at the bright blue crystal in his hand, although he wasn't too startled. After all, he had been absorbing nature energy for months with nowhere for it to go. It turned out he just needed to create a place for it to go. Just like he had altered his core to fuse the darkness and heat energies, he simply needed to chance it once again.

    Yuni stood up as well, walking over to Kiso, she leaned forward to stare up at his face.

    Kiso's slightly blushed as he backed a step away.

    Laughing, Yuni asked, "So, what's the secret? No matter how much nature energy I absorb, my core stays the same."

    Kiso's excitement from his breakthrough was audible in his voice as he answered, "Yuni, I don't know what the nature of your core is after your fusion so I can't say for sure. For me though, I had to completely alter the state of my core."

    A flash of inspiration shone in Yuni's eyes as she held her little hand to her chin, nodding.

    "I had never thought of doing that..." Yuni mumbled to herself.

    Smiling sweetly, she bounced back several feet, sitting back in the meditative position. Before closing her eyes, she said to Kiso, "Kiso, my birthday should be coming up soon. Although I'm not sure exactly what day it is, I know it's close. If I manage to break through to the fifth stage as well, be sure to give me a reward!" 

    When she spoke the last line, her tone became laced with obvious intent.

    Kiso didn't even have the chance to laugh or cry before she had already closed her eyes, prismatic coiling lightning once more surrounding her.

    Julian finally recovered, shaking his head, he said, "You two are truly incredible.." He gave Kiso and awkward smile then closed his eyes once again.

    "Eh? I finally broke through guys, we can get the technique..." Kiso felt like a dog on a chain, able to see the bone, yet bound a foot out of reach.

    Yuni's voice rang in his mind, "Kiso don't worry, I'm not far behind, just cultivate a bit longer and we'll get it together."

    "Ahhhhh......" Kiso let out a deep sigh, lowering his body to the ground once more to cultivate.

    - - - - -

    Not even three days later, Kiso's eyes shot open as he looked over at Yuni.

    Her brows were tightly knit together and sweat was dripping down her face towards her chin. The prismatic lightning around her was no longer visible and her spiritual pressure was rapidly increasing.

    Kiso shook his head, "She really did catch up..I wasted far too much time. Oh well, I didn't have anyone to give me a hint while she did. She better thank me."

    Several tens of minutes later, Yuni excitedly opened her eyes.

    She stood up, extending a finger out in front of her eyes. A prismatic orb of lightning steadily grew above her finger. The strange part was, that orb of lightning seemed to consist of straight lines running up and down.

    Nodding, she looked over to Kiso while smiling, "You were right Kiso, I just had to reorganize the energy in the core a bit. Thanks a bunch!"

    "Hahaha.. Thanks a bunch, that's all I get? You know I had to suffer for months without a breakthrough before I discovered the key.." Kiso couldn't help but pout a little.

    Giggling, Yuni walked over and gave Kiso a big kiss on the lips. After she pulled away she shyly said with a red face, "My reward!"

    Kiso touched his fingers to his lips, although they had kissed before, it still was extremely embarrassing for him.

    "Ahem!" Julian coughed, making Kiso and Yuni jump.

    "You two seem rather close, I wonder what Yuni means by, 'her reward'?" Julian laughed as he teased them.

    Yuni's red face intensified as she pouted, "Julian, is it really necessary to tease us like that? I just broke through to the fifth stage, I think.."

    Wanting to confirm her results, she held out her hand, motioning for Julian to toss her the Stage Crystal.

    Julian's laugh died down and he materialized his Stage Crystal, tossing it to Yuni with a strange look in his eyes.

    Yuni caught the crystal with her already energized palm. When the crystal made contact, it changed color becoming a dim blue shade.

    "So it's true." Julian shook his head and helplessly sighed. "You two are both the fifth stage now and can approach the alter."

    Kiso and Yuni looked at each other with excited eyes.

    As they started to turn to look towards the alter, Julian's voice continued, "I'm still far from the fifth stage, it's likely even five years won't be enough for me. With that in mind, I wonder if I can make a few requests of you two?"

    Catching their attention, Julian crouched on his knees, holding his hands out palms down. He materialized a large chest beneath them, then looked up at Kiso and Yuni with an awkward look in his eyes.

    "I don't have the courage to ask you two to share the technique with me, but I do have a few requests.

    In exchange for this twenty thousand gold, I only ask three things.

    First, I would ask you two to let me know if the hidden technique is...well....worth it."

    He actually wanted to directly ask what the technique was, but shook off that thought as that would be considered extremely rude. After all, he didn't have the ability to learn the technique himself.

    "Second, if it is indeed worth it, I would beg you two to go to the northern province and let my father know of my safety..."

    When he spoke of his father he hadn't seen in years, Kiso and Yuni could relate to his pain. They secretly felt this point was something they'd be willing to do even if he didn't pay them.

    Taking a deep breath, the prince of the Kamien Empire actually kowtowed to them asking, "Last of all, I would ask you two to return to this cavern to bring me enough food to last ten years..."

    Julian wasn't confident in his ability to reach the fifth stage any time soon and to this point he has been unable to discover any way out. It could be said that if there was no connection between learning the hidden technique and escaping the cavern, there truly would be no way out.

    Kiso looked to Yuni, who gave a slight nod, then lowered his body to lift Julian's face. "Since you felt so strong to even beg, how can we refuse? If even to simply repay your company and kindness we would fulfill these requests."

    Julian's eyes reddened but he shook his head adamantly, "My kindness is from my respect towards you two as cultivating experts. These favors must not be for nothing, I won't accept no for answer." He stubbornly shoved the chest forward.

    Throwing his hands up helplessly, Kiso sighed, "Alright then.."

    Kiso knelt down, absorbing the chest into his DS ring.

    Yuni suddenly pulled on Kiso's arm, dragging him towards the alter past the plate embedded on the stage. As they passed that plate, the ground started to shine, emitting a power downward force of spiritual pressure.

    When the spiritual pressure weighed down on their bodies, Yuni nearly feel over. Instead, Kiso caught her, urging his spiritual pressure to counter the invisible force.

    A cold sweat running down his back, he thought out loud, "Such powerful spiritual pressure. We really would have died without our recent breakthroughs. Even now I can barely manage to stand.."

    Yuni's face grimaced as she sent her own spiritual pressure into her muscles, lessening the force against them.

    The two of them struggled across the stage, stumbling up the steps. When they reached the pedestal atop the alter, that strange spiritual pressure disappeared. They knelt down with heaving chests, attempting to catch their breath.

    After several tens of seconds and shiver of respect for the power of the defensive formation behind them, Kiso excitedly took out the parchment and string.

    Taking one final glance at Yuni's equally excited face, he unrolled the parchment, staring down at the imprint on the pedestal which seemed exactly the same size as the parchment in his hands.

    "This is it..." Kiso's hands trembled as he lowered the parchment into the imprint on the pedestal.

    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Chapter Twenty Four - Yuka's Alter of Divine Wind

    Amidst baited breaths, Kiso fit the parchment into the imprint. After settling the parchment, he sent spiritual pressure into the string once again before entering the key into the hole.

    For several seconds nothing happened, causing Yuni to frown and say to Kiso, "Maybe it's not the right...." Before she finished speaking, a bright light suddenly shone from the pedestal.

    Atop the pedestal, bright letters started to burn themselves into the surface of the imprint under the parchment. As the letters burned their way through, the parchment itself burst into white hot flames, disappearing.

    As the parchment disappeared, a short message burning bright in the imprint was left behind.

    It read: Juniors...Don't you usually turn a key in a keyhole?

    Kiso's mouth opened as they stared down at the message.

    Yuni poked his arm saying, "She's right you know.."

    Shaking his head, Kiso reached down, turning the stiff string key as far as he could to the right. The moment the key refused to turn any further, the bright message faded and an incredible spiritual pressure began to seep from the ground around them.

    Strands of wind started to quickly swirl in the dimly lit cavern surrounding Kiso and Yuni in a sphere.

    Soon, wind visible to the naked eye had completely enveloped them blocking their view of anything beyond. In the next moment, a soft feminine voice rang inside the sphere carrying a profound spiritual pressure in her voice alone.

    She spoke to nobody in particular saying, "Juniors my name is Yuka, since you have come here I believe you were destined to have done so. In the past, I battled against an evil god of death for centuries. Despite dozens of battles that shook the very earth, I was unable to rid the world of his horrid evil. In my final battle versus that evil god, he managed to land a deadly blow on myself. That blow cost him dearly though as I was able to seal him away in the vile place he came from. Unfortunately, he had fostered many children during his time in this world and they will surely work to free him."

    The voice faded for a moment before continuing in a slightly more urgent voice, "My time is limited, so I cannot teach you the secrets to battling against their evil, however I can leave you with a single powerful technique. This technique is among my weakest techniques, but with mortal spiritual pressure it is probably all your little bodies can handle. The technique itself is of the ocular variety and is called Divine Wind. I will bestow upon your bodies a shortcut to using this technique but the level at which you will excel in it depends on yourselves."

    The spherical wind around them suddenly rushed into the key hole, causing the strands of hair forming the key to glow a dazzling azure color. The azure strands of hair unwound themselves floating upwards into the air. Five strands in total, they hovered above the pedestal as burning letters once more shone on the imprint.

    Kiso and Yuni silently stared on, mouths open, observing the letters as they came into view.

    "These strands of hair are from my humble body, allow them to burrow into your eyes and they will do the rest. Don't let me down juniors." Burning brightly few a couple seconds, the letters soon after faded away. From the overload of spiritual pressure, the pedestal crumbled and the alter cracked threatening to fall apart itself.

    Kiso gulped as he shifted his gaze to the azure strands of hair floating in the air before him.

    Glancing at Yuni, he noticed she was staring wide eyed at him, seemingly asking permission to grab one of the azure glowing hairs.

    Kiso smiled and nodded, reaching forward himself to grasp a hair. As his fingers made contact with the silky hair, they couldn't help but become completely numb with an ice cold pressure.

    Sensing a strange tinge of danger, Kiso quickly brought the tip of the hair towards his eye. At the moment the hair came remotely close to his eye, it shot out from Kiso's hand burrowing straight into his eye.

    "AHHHHH!!!!!" Kiso clenched his eyes and screamed in pain. His eyes felt like they were melting away and his vision behind his closed eyelids went completely white. A few short seconds later he faintly heard Yuni scream as well. The pain from the hair burrowing into their eyes was far worse then any other pain they had ever endured. Even Danstun's attack was inferior to the pain caused by this tiny strand of hair.

    For several tens of minutes, Kiso and Yuni knelt with the hands over their eyes, enduring the extreme pain. After what seemed like eternity, with tears streaking down their faces, the miserable pain finally started to fade.

    Kiso lowered his hands and attempted to open his eyes. Feeling his eyelids retract, the darkness from the cave was nowhere to be seen. That bright white light filling his vision wasn't affected in the slightest. 

    Yuni's trembling voice range out from Kiso's left, "K..Kiso....Can you see?" Her tone was full of fear and apprehension.

    Kiso reached out towards her voice, touching what felt like her arm as he replied, "No, everything is white, my eyes feel completely numb. I can't even tell what direction I'm moving them, it's like they're not even there!"

    Their breathing quickened as worry filled their hearts.

    During all of this, Julian stared from the outside not daring to speak a word. Upon hearing them finally speak as they knelt there beside the crumbled pedestal, he called out, "Kiso, Yuni, what happened?!"

    Staring blankly in the direction of Julian's voice, Kiso called back, "We supposedly received the technique but we can't see!"

    Julian was shocked but hurriedly suggested, "Use your inner eye, what's going on inside?"

    With an enlightened expression, Kiso and Yuni both shifted their bodies into the meditative stance. Closing their useless eyes, they observed the insides of their bodies.

    "This is...?" Kiso quickly discovered a vast amount of his spiritual pressure being drawn from his core towards his eyes. Without hesitating, he quickly started to urge the nature energy around him to enter his spiritual veins. With the boost from the nature energy, his trembling body started to slowly stabilize and tiny black dots started to appear in the field of white.

    Calling over to Yuni, Kiso said, "Yuni, use nature energy too, I think my vision is coming back!"

    "Right! I'm already doing that!" Yuni enthusiastically replied.

    After several tens of minutes, the field of white almost completely disappeared. Kiso slowly reopened his eyes, blinking hard several times as the world around him came back into view.

    With a sigh of relief, Kiso looked over at Yuni, who had also reopened her eyes. Their gazes met and they simultaneously let out a gasp, "Your eyes!!!"

    They scrambled to move closer together, staring into each other's eyes. A vivid azure circle could be seen surrounding all four iris. The azure circle gave off a faint glow similar to the strands of hair.

    Excited expressions quickly painted their faces, if nothing else their glowing eyes definitely at least looked cool.

    Julian noticed their glowing eyes and he forgot to breathe for several tens of seconds before exhaling and calling out, "You can see again right? How is it, has anything changed? Do you comprehend the technique?"

    His words broke the excited tension in the air between the two of them as they looked over towards Julian. 

    "Eh... Everything looks the same as before and... There wasn't any information on the technique itself.." Yuni called back, a hint of disappointment in her voice.

    Kiso chuckled, "That's not necessarily true Yuni, look into your core. Can you feel that?"

    Inside Kiso's core, the dark vortex still raged, yet tiny streams of azure light swirled in the darkness as well. Kiso closed his eyes, attempting to sense the nature energy around him.

    "Ahh.. I can't seem to sense any additional energies in the surroundings." Kiso thought to himself, frowning. He really hoped this hidden technique had allowed him to sense and be able to absorb an additional nature energy. His frown suddenly faded though as he shifted his inner eye towards his spiritual veins.

    Prior to obtaining the azure circle in his eyes, his spiritual veins would only have energy flow through them when absorbing nature energy or using his spiritual pressure. Yet now, even without doing either of the two, faint amounts of nature energy constantly flowed from his core through his spiritual veins towards his eyes.

    The most exciting part, was this nature energy was the same azure light that was swirling in his core!

    "Yuni, can you see the azure light flowing in your spiritual veins? What do you think it is?" Kiso sent Yuni a mental message.

    She furrowed her brows, closing her eyes to have a look. After a few seconds a smile grew on her face and she happily replied, "I can see it..But I don't have any idea what it is either.. Do you think its wind energy?"

    Kiso pondered the words left behind by Yuka deeply, frequently coming back to the two words 'ocular' and 'technique'.

    "Can't hurt to try.." Kiso thought to himself as he urged spiritual pressure into his eyes.

    If Kiso was still observing with his inner eye, he would have seen an immense amount of that azure light race from his core to his eyes. The vortex of spiritual pressure in his core vastly depleting in the process. 

    As spiritual pressure made its way into his eyes, the world started to change. The formerly dim cave seemed to become full of azure flowing light.

    Looking out around him, Kiso noticed an azure light heading straight for his face. He instinctively attempted to dodge, but it was too late. Strangely though, rather then pain or anything unpleasant, a familiar feeling brushed across his face.

    "It's wind!!!" Kiso exclaimed loudly, causing Yuni to jump.

    "Wind?" Yuni couldn't help but ask.

    A giant smile on his face, Kiso replied, "Right! Pour spiritual pressure into your eyes Yuni! You can see the wind!"

    "Oh?" Yuni sent spiritual pressure into her eyes, the azure light dancing through the cave became completely visible.

    A curious look flashed through her eyes.

    "Kiso, do you think we can use the wind? This technique is supposed to help us fight against the Apostles of Death right? Well, if their techniques rely on those plumes of deathly smoke, the wind could just blow it away right?" Yuni asked aloud.

    Julian couldn't help but butt in, "No, my entire family has the innate ability to use wind. Even with the wind's help the deathly smoke will at most be diverted. When battling an elder of the Apostles of Death, they can send forth tens of such plumes at the same time.."

    Julian's words made Yuni's excited face slightly fade.

    Kiso quickly asked, "Hmm, but to what extent can your family control the wind Julian? Like, how far away? And also, are you saying that even your father cannot fight against an elder?"

    Julian's face changed, his eyes widened as he replied, "My father... Actually, he can certainly fight against the elders. Remember, he was able to capture that elder! As to what extent he can control the wind... Think of the winds during typhoon, that would be my father. He can use his spiritual pressure to create wind nearly a quarter mile away, although he has said that he can only absorb the wind already present in nature.

    Most of our family can only create wind about a hundred meters away though, including myself."

    Kiso nodded, it was about what he expected.

    "Why do you ask?" Julian was curious regarding the root to Kiso's questions.

    Smiling, Kiso replied with a simple action.

    Actually when Kiso sent spiritual pressure into his eyes, at that moment he could also sense the spiritual pressure of the wind itself. Almost the same feeling he got when he sensed the darkness energy from a shadow. Using his previous enlightenment, he grasped the azure light, changing its direction.

    "As I thought." Kiso's smile grew and he even lightly laughed out loud.

    He sent the azure light representing the wind swirling around Yuni and Julian's bodies using almost the same exact method he might use darkness energy to move a human body around.

    Feeling the wind surround their bodies, Julian couldn't help but cry out, "Kiso you can control wind now?! How?!"

    With a devious laugh, Kiso simply replied, "All I will say Julian, is this technique is worth it. Even more so worth it for yourself."

    Julian licked his lips with wide eyes, staring at the remaining three strands of hair still floating above the crumbled alter.

    Kiso noticed his gaze and frowned, "Julian, I can say with a certain degree of confidence that you should reach the fifth stage of spiritual pressure before absorbing one of those strands."

    He could say those words because he clearly felt his depleted spiritual pressure after controlling his new technique for even a single minute.

    Julian gave a questioning look, but dispelled his desire and nodded at Kiso thanking him.

    Yuni's face was contorted and she was deeply frowning.

    "Kiso, why can't I control the wind? I also possess the technique, why can't I use it?" Her face was filled with obvious displeasure at the unfairness.

    Kiso could only laugh and console her, "Yuni, I can only use the technique so easily because it happens to be extremely similar to the Skyshadow technique. You'll have to rely on yourself to learn how to use it."

    Yuni folded her arms but didn't complain.

    Shifting his gaze, Kiso took a deep breath and stared around the cavern thinking to himself, "Just now I clearly saw the azure lights were heading in that direction, it must be the exit!"

    To Be Continued!
  • Chapter Twenty Five - Dean Hanzi

    A long sigh echoed through the dimly lit cavern. Kiso knew the general direction of the exit, but it was still too early to leave. After all, that elder of the Apostles of Death was likely to be waiting on the other side.

    Turning to Yuni, Kiso smiled, "We finally did it Yuni, we actually got the hidden technique! It's even such a wonderful one!"

    Yuni smiled and nodded, "Right! But Kiso, now what?"

    "For now, let's go down." Kiso turned towards the three remaining strands of hair, absorbing two of them into his ring. 

    After absorbing the two strands of hair, he walked down the alter's stairs in Julian's direction with Yuni tagging along.

    When they reached Julian, Kiso promptly announced, "Julian, the defensive formation is still active so you'll have to reach the fifth stage of spiritual pressure to retrieve that strand of hair. I'll let it remain there as motivation for you during your cultivation." 

    Julian cupped his hands and bowed slightly thanking him, "Thank you Kiso, your senior will work hard." Lifting his head with a frown on his face, he continued, "Are you two going to be leaving?"

    Kiso let out the air in his lungs, looking off into the distance. After a few seconds, he responded, "Not yet. I'm not confident in my ability to battle against Dean Hanzi just yet. Besides, Yuni can't even use the hidden technique yet. I think I'll need her help to defend against those vile death techniques."

    Julian revealed a relieved expression and he nodded, "Well said! If you two go out now, I venture to guess you'd be lucky to avoid being reduced to a couple of withered corpses.."

    Kiso and Yuni looked at each other, then laughed.

    Lifting his hand, Kiso stared at his DS ring, scanning its contents with his spiritual pressure.

    Looking over to Yuni, he asked, "I've got about three months of rations left, you?"

    Yuni scanned her own ring then responded, "Hmm, looks like I've got enough for about four months...You eat too much Kiso.." She stuck out her tongue teasing him. Indeed, they had bought the same amount of rations back at the first village they passed through after leaving the Ancient Byuki Forest. They had also received a large amount of food from Elder Sage. Between the two, they should have had enough food to last nearly a year.

    Kiso lowered his gaze, slightly embarrassed, "I can't help it, my stomach just never stays full.."

    Yuni giggled then took a deep breath before saying, "Alright. Although it's pretty down here, I really don't want to be here another three months. I'm going to work hard to master this hidden technique as soon as possible."

    Kiso lifted his head and nodded while adding, "We need to increase our spiritual pressure in our core as well. You might not know because you haven't used the technique yet, but it's extremely taxing."

    After getting Yuni's nod of agreement, Kiso turned to Julian and bowed, "Julian, we're going to move closer to the exit and cultivate for a few months, then leave. If you have any other requests or questions, please speak them now."

    Julian though for a moment with a hand on his chin, then with a disappointed face he responded, "I've troubled you two enough already, go on ahead, I'll be right behind you."

    Kiso chuckled and gestured for Yuni to follow as he walked towards a stone bridge with the breeze at his back.

    - - - - -

    Two months quickly passed.

    During this time, Kiso and Yuni trained extremely hard to raise their cultivation.

    Yuni managed to finally grasp the hidden technique after an entire month of failure. Her first execution of the technique left her exhausted and served as a reality check regarding her lack of spiritual pressure.

    After experiencing that exhaustion from a single use of the technique, Yuni trained longer and harder then ever before. She barely slept three hours a day.

    Today, with a cold breeze signaling the change of seasons in the outside world, Kiso and Yuni once more sat facing each other in the meditative stance. Lightning rapidly coiled around their bodies as they sat absorbing nature energy. Occasionally, their lightning would intercept causing booms of thunder to ring out across the cavern.

    When the breeze died down, Kiso opened his eyes. He let out a cool breath of air and stood up, stretching his back with his arms above his head.

    "Yuni! Wake up!" Kiso yawned and called out.

    Yuni opened a single eye, retracting her spiritual pressure while ending her meditation.

    "What is it Kiso?" She asked with a curious tone in her voice.

    Kiso smiled at her and asked, "It's been two months. You've mastered the hidden technique and can almost use it as well as me. Let me ask you this... How many times can you manipulate the wind with your current spiritual pressure?"

    Yuni smiled, slightly puffing up her chest. She was proud of the progress she had made recently and she happily responded, "I think...Four times!"

    Nodded, Kiso said, "Good! I think we will be safe to leave now."

    Yuni excitedly bounced to her feet and leaned forward tilting her head, "Kiso, after we take care of that Dean Hanzi, what will we do?"

    Kiso blushed slightly as he caught sight of a pleasant thing when she leaned forward.

    Shaking his head, he controlled himself and responded, "Well, there's the matter of retrieving rations for Julian and ourselves. I think that's first on the list. After that, well, I'm not too sure. I think we'll head for the northern province and meet with Julian's father. Perhaps he'll have some leads regarding the Apostles of Death." 

    Towards the end of his response, Kiso frowned and his tone became particularly cold.

    He added, "I won't be satisfied killing only Hanzi. My parent's death is a debt that can only be repaid with the blood of their entire sect!"

    Yuni straightened her back and frowned as well, slowly nodding her head.

    After several tens of seconds of silence, Kiso grunted under his breath and turned his body saying, "Let's go."

    The exit to the cavern happened to be a defensive formation as well. A special darkness nature spiritual pressure swallowed all light around the exit, leaving it completely hidden from sight.

    Although Kiso could have detected the exit in any number of ways, it had been witnessing the visible wind heading in its direction that led to its discovery.

    The two of them stepped into the darkness while holding hands, afraid of being separated. Before they even took a second step, the same force that had seemingly sucked in their spiritual energy before once more occurred. 

    Instantly, a freezing cold breeze brushed against their faces as their tightly clenched eyes shot open.

    Rows of snow covered buildings came into view.

    Feeling a large presence behind them, they glanced back. The 'Osian Tower' stretched high into the sky behind them, casting a long shadow over them.

    Suddenly, a random voice cried out, "THEY'RE HERE!"

    A series of horns bellowed, echoing throughout the city.

    Kiso and Yuni glanced at each other, smiling. This was within their expectations and they had no intention of fleeing.

    They folded their arms and spread their legs slightly while raising their chins. A calm look of indifference painted their faces as they stood, waiting.

    The footsteps of hundreds of people started coming closer and closer, surrounding the tower. The faces of deathly pale young men and women came into view as they formed a human wall. 

    Looking closely, the faces of those youngsters were full of fear or even admiration in some cases.

    The news that two people had escaped from their Dean into the tower five months ago had long since spread throughout the academy. The teachers all warned the students to keep a look out while around the tower and to immediately report any outsiders. They also warned them those outsiders were extremely dangerous and must be dealt with accordingly.

    Following the students, the sounds of hundreds of whispers among them were finally drowned out by a thunderous voice that filled the entire academy.

    Echoing into the sky itself, the deathly cold voice was familiar to Kiso.

    It was Dean Hanzi, who shouted, "CHILDREN, WATCH THOSE TWO, I'M ON MY WAY!"

    Hanzi had been waiting for Kiso and Yuni ever since they escaped. After hearing the horns, although he had been miles away collecting the sacrifices of a surrounding village, he immediately abandoned his work and sped towards his academy. With a belly full of rage, he shouted out, filling his voice with spiritual pressure to increase the volume and distance.

    With his voice echoing through the academy, even his own students felt the blood drain from their faces as a cold sweat formed on their backs.

    Yet, when they looked up towards those two silhouettes standing in front of that black tower, they opened their mouths in shock.

    Kiso and Yuni, after hearing Hanzi's shout, couldn't prevent their lips from curving upwards into a devilish smile. Their prey, as planned, was going to bring himself to them.

    A short while later, six hooded figures broke through the student wall, approaching Kiso and Yuni. Stopping twenty meters in front of them, they formed a straight line and slowly took their hoods down.

    On the rightmost side, Yan's pale face came into view. Her previous vigor had greatly diminished and her eyes were bloodshot. She had clearly been through hell and back during these past five months.

    Kiso took note of Yan's figure, a strange light flashed through his eyes.

    He quickly scanned the crowd of students, looking for the teacher's cloaks among them. As he scanned the crowd, he suddenly stopped as his mouth couldn't help but open.

    "Ruddy!" He almost cried out, but choked back his voice.

    Glancing back and Yan, Kiso secretly decided to let her live, if even to repay just that one simple kindness. He knew she must have left out Ruddy's name in her report, or surely his uncle wouldn't be standing there today.

    Among the crowd, a pair of cold evil eyes stared daggers at Kiso and Yuni. Bo's pale face hid behind a hood as he excitedly waited to witness the deaths of the two he hated most in the world.

    Making sure not to fix his gaze on his uncle too long, Kiso quickly looked into the sky to avoid suspicion. When he looked up however, his face couldn't help but change as a dark silhouette came into view. As the shadowy silhouette came into view, Dean Hanzi's sinister countenance could be plainly seen.

    Floating through the sky, slightly above the buildings in the academy, Hanzi finally stopped in the air above his six most powerful family members. 

    He coldly looked down at Kiso and Yuni.

    Hanzi knew the chance to rope them into the academy had passed. The moment they thought to clear their minds of the deathly aura, that chance had already expired. His false kindness was already exposed.

    "So, you two actually had the courage to come back and die today." Hanzi's cold sinister voice rang out as he lowered his body to the ground in front of Yan and the rest.

    Kiso and Yuni stared down at Hanzi, the same smug smile on their faces.

    Kiso wanted to instantly kill Hanzi, but he wanted to try and get some information from him first. With that in mind, he replied, "Dean Hanzi, I've heard a lot about you from a friend. You should know I'm not the kind of man to senselessly seek my own death. Do you really believe I would show myself before you today if I believed you could kill me?"

    Hanzi's face became ugly to behold. The confidence in Kiso's voice truly caused him to second guess himself, if for just a moment. The seed of doubt in his heart quickly dispelled and a cold laughter range out from his aged body, 

    "Ahhahaha...Brave words child! I commend you! As a special reward for my admiration, I'll let you two die quickly!"

    A bony hand rose into the air, lifting a loose sleeve along with it. From the hand, a single finger pointed forward, trembling as it struggled to maintain the extended position. Black smoke began to coil around the finger, threatening to spring forward at any moment.

    Seeing Hanzi was about to make his move, Kiso poured spiritual pressure into his eyes and hands as he sent his spiritual pressure zone out. 

    Yuni mirrored Kiso's actions, preparing to attack alongside Kiso.

    Their glowing blue eyes caused Hanzi's eyes to widen and his killing intent grew several times more intense.

    The small shred of anxiety in his heart grew alongside his killing intent. He had read in his sect's ancient texts everything about the fight between his death god and the wind god. There had even been a few words mentioning the wind god's eyes.

    "With azure glowing eyes, Yuka's laughter faded away, promising my own demise..."

    The single line of text repeated itself vividly in Hanzi's mind.

    He couldn't help but hesitate and call out, "You two! Don't tell me you actually had the artifact?!"

    Kiso and Yuni's faces didn't change.

    Kiso replied coolly, "So what if we did. Today, your life will still end regardless of whether you know or not!"

    As Kiso was about to attack, a sudden thought crept into his mind. He hesitated, adding, "Answer me one thing Hanzi! If you answer this question I'll let you die a quick death! I've heard my father Han Black was killed on one of your missions while protecting my mother. However, it's unclear whether my mother perished as well. Tell me Dean Hanzi, is my mother alive? If she is where is she?!"

    Hanzi's ugly face calmed considerably.

    His cold voice contained a hint of laughter, "Of course not! Your mother died alongside your father. She screamed miserably as her body was violated and torn apart! She died without a grave!"

    Each and every word hammered themselves into Kiso's heart, breaking it each time.

    Pure rage poured into the cracks in his heart as bloody tears fell down his face.

    An unfathomable amount of spiritual pressure burst into his hands as his figure flickered and disappeared.

    To Be Continued!
  • Chapter Twenty Six - Naive

    Scenes from his childhood replayed over and over in Kiso’s mind, causing his grief to overflow.

    Was his mother really dead?

    Did she really die like Hanzi had said?

    It didn’t matter whether or not it was the truth. The simple fact that Hanzi had even dared to speak of his mother in such a way completely ignited Kiso’s rage.

    A few short seconds after Hanzi finished speaking those vile words, Kiso’s figure that was several meters away, vanished from his sight.

    When Kiso’s figure disappeared, so did Hanzi’s vision.

    An overwhelming heat suddenly imposed itself on Hanzi’s face as Kiso’s electrified hand grasped it tightly.

    Hanzi barely had any time to react, Kiso’s sudden attack had caught him completely off guard. After all, he had no idea what sort of techniques Kiso was capable of besides his lightning.

    By the time Hanzi realized Kiso’s hand was grasping his face, it was too late.

    Hanzi could only manage to frantically pour his spiritual pressure into his treasured magical artifact bestowed upon him by his sect.

    Every elder of the Apostles of Death carry with them an ancient grimoire containing tens of elaborate techniques. Most of the techniques written in the grimoire are passed down by the death god himself. However, there are even some useful techniques for levitation and the like.

    As long as the elder was at least at the fourth stage of spiritual pressure, he would be able to use the first five techniques. Hanzi just happened to barely meet those requirements.

    Hanzi’s pouring of spiritual pressure into the grimoire was precisely the fifth technique, Soul Transfer. Soul transfer is a last resort technique that allows the user to transport their soul into a contracted host, permanently. Unfortunately, the user’s spiritual pressure will be largely spent in the process and the host body must meet several requirements.

    The spiritual pressure enhanced grimoire began to ooze a deathly black smoke while violently shaking.

    In the same moment, Kiso’s hand suddenly tensed causing black lightning to overflow. Hanzi’s head became completely replaced by a crackling orb of black lightning.

    Unfortunately, Hanzi’s battle experience was truly formidable. Within the two seconds it took for Kiso to shadowstep and disintegrate his skull, he actually determined it was necessary to use his last resort and even managed to pull it off.

    While Kiso was still blinded with rage a dark silhouette amongst the group of students dashed into the shadows, disappearing.

    That silhouette was precisely the host Hanzi had imposed himself on. As he stealthily escaped, he took one look back at Kiso thinking, “Too close.. To think that little brat is actually at the fifth stage of spiritual pressure.. He even received the hidden technique of Osian Tower, I’ve got to report this to the others before it’s too late..” Although Hanzi is an elder of the Apostles of Death, of the thirteen, he is ranked twelfth.

    Kiso’s chest was heaving as he took deep anguished breaths, the rage in his heart was almost unbearable. Only the medicine of staring at Hanzi’s lifeless body brought Kiso a sliver of clarity and he quickly shadowstepped back to Yuni’s side.

    “You six, your precious Hanzi is dead, what will you do now?” Kiso’s trembling cold voice rang out as he addressed those six black cloaked figures. They were completely silent, staring dumbfounded at Hanzi’s corpse.

    Kiso wanted to give those six family members of Hanzi’s a small chance at redemption, but they quickly gave him an answer with their actions.

    Five of their bodies suddenly blurred, forming a half circle formation around Kiso and Yuni. Their bodies began to ooze black smoke while they raised their arms to their sides. Following a series of hand gestures, the deathly smoke leaking from their bodies began to flow along their arms. When it reached the tips of their outstretched hands, it flowed into the air towards the next person before fully connecting together.

    Between their sudden decision to attack and the gathering of their spiritual pressure to form the formation technique, all of their faces had become exceedingly ugly to behold.

    “Sister! What are you doing?! GET OVER HERE!” Vixy’s voice called back to the lone figure that had yet to join the half circle.

    Yan’s body trembled, with an extremely painful look on her face she shouted back, “No!!! I’ve had enough!”

    Yan had been the only one amongst Hanzi’s family that had been contracted and forced to do things she never wished to do. When Hanzi’s body died, her contract had lifted its restrictions, freeing her.

    Without Yan’s power in the formation, it lacked the power needed to deal with Kiso and Yuni. If Yan joined the formation, its power would increase to the sixth stage of spiritual pressure. They were extremely confident Kiso had yet to reach such a lofty stage.

    As lightning started to spark on Kiso and Yuni’s outstretched hands, Yan’s eyes widened and she cried out, “Look out you guys!” Although she didn’t want to help them, they were still family. She couldn’t help but call out almost subconsciously.

    Kiso wasn’t about to wait and find out what those five had in store for him. The feeling their technique was giving him screamed danger. “Yuni, let’s roast em! Hurry!” Kiso urged through a mental message.

    Without hesitation, their arms raised and four intense bolts of thick crackling lightning burst into the air.

    Her sudden shout snapped their attention back to Kiso and Yuni. All five of their hearts skipped a beat. They just saw how powerful that lightning could be, even Hanzi had been unable to resist and died just like that.

    Even so, they could only grit their teeth and execute the unfinished formation technique.

    The smoke rapidly churned and raced out forming a deadly scythe.

    If this scythe had been formed with Yan’s assistance, it would have had no problem dealing with Kiso and Yuni’s fifth stage lightning.

    But Yan had refused to help.

    As the smoke scythe met the lightning midway between the two parties, a thunderous boom rang out. Everyone present couldn’t help but cup their hands over their ears and clench their eyes.

    The two parties continuously poured spiritual pressure into their attacks as the lightning and smoke continued to struggle for an advantage in midair.

    “How strong!” Kiso’s face revealed an astonished expression. This was his first encounter with a formation technique.

    Although the individual power of all of his opponents was lower then his own, their combined might rivaled both his and Yuni’s.

    Even so, Kiso’s cold lips raised into a sneer as his azure eyes suddenly brightened. A powerful gust of wind raced from behind Kiso and Yuni, flowing along their lightning before making contact with that deathly smoke scythe.

    When the divine wind from Kiso’s azure eyes met the smoke scythe, it didn’t even take a half second before it rapidly dissipated.

    Without obstruction, Kiso and Yuni’s lightning intertwined forming a radiant snake of lightning.

    The snake of lightning seemed to come alive, locking onto Vixy’s pale face.

    “NO!!” Vixy couldn’t believe their combined attack would lose so easily. She couldn’t accept her own defeat even as the flash of light in her eyes spelled it out clearly for her.

    “SISTER!!!” The remaining four cloaked figures cried out as Vixy’s body was reduced to ash, scattering into the wind.

    Kiso nodded his head, indicating the next target for Yuni as lightning began to coil around their hands once again.

    “WAIT!” A shrill cry rang out as Yan frantically stumbled between the two parties.

    Tears streaking down her face, she begged, “Kiso, you’ve had your revenge! Please, spare my family! We will sever our ties with my grandfather’s sect!”

    Kiso’s heart slightly trembled. Being tearfully begged by such a pretty girl almost caused his determination to waver.

    But as he shifted his gaze back at those other four faces, he shook his head in disappointment. They were looking at Yan with condemning eyes, as if they no longer recognized her.

    Yan’s face froze in disbelief as Kiso’s black lightning buzzed by her.

    Glancing back, she could only catch a glimpse of another cloud of ash drifting into the wind.

    “Teq!!” Beq’s coarse voice cried out as he fell to his knees.

    Rather then tears, his sudden grief of losing his twin caused his innermost feelings to rush out. He accusingly pointed at Yan, “This is your fault! You refused to help us! If it wasn’t for you, it wouldn’t have been like this!”

    Yan’s tears stopped.

    His words reminded her of her choice, but she didn’t regret it. When she chose not to help them complete the formation technique, she made the decision while recalling all the terrible things they had done.

    She struggled to her feet, facing Kiso.

    In Kiso’s mind, her solemn voice rang out, “Kiso, I’m as guilty as they are. My hands are stained with the blood of countless innocents. Regardless of being forced to or not, I chose my own life instead of countless others. I deserve this!”

    From her trembled jade white hand, a thin deathly smoke snake oozed out. The snake hesitated in the air for a moment, before snapping towards Yuni threatening to take her life.

    In the moment the smoke raced towards Yuni, Kiso’s eyes brightened, a gust of wind blowing the snake away as if it hadn’t even existed.

    Frowning, Kiso shook his head at Yuni who had raised her hand, threatening to end Yan’s life.

    He looked back at Yan and sent a mental message, “Don’t think it’ll be that easy. You have to live on in order to repay the damage you’ve done. I’ll have you accompany Yuni and I after this is all said and done. We’re going to need some information on this sect of yours. Now, move aside, those rotten family members of yours seem to have some fight left in them.”

    Yan’s eyes widened, rapidly growing red once again. Complex emotions fought each other in her heart but she nodded at Kiso and ran off to the side regardless.

    “Traitor!” Beq had watched quietly as Yan struggled within herself and even made an attempt to attack Yuni. He had thought she meant to atone for her actions with that attack, yet now she simply ran off to the side without a fight.

    He couldn’t take it anymore, his entire life was crashing down around him.

    “Die!” Beq shouted as his body suddenly began to deteriorate into smoke.

    The smoke rapidly congealed a few feet above the ground into the shape of an arrow. The arrow was an entire meter long and was covered in thick oozing black gas.

    Beq’s face revealed a final expression of satisfaction before deteriorating as well.

    The moment Beq’s head transformed into smoke congealing into the arrow, it show forward straight at Kiso.

    This arrow contained all of Beq’s spiritual pressure combined with his entire life force. Its power completely exceeded the limits of Beq’s third stage spiritual pressure, directly climbing to the peak of the fifth stage.

    Even Kiso couldn’t compete with the power behind this arrow.

    His hairs standing straight up, Kiso’s eyes focused on the arrow rapidly approaching him. He wanted to shadowstep out of the way, yet the arrow seemed to be moving in an arc. If he avoided the arrow, it would continue to arc and strike Yuni instead.

    “Not good.” Kiso’s eyes brightened as he sent all his remaining spiritual pressure into them.

    A screen of violent screaming wind intercepted the deadly arrow, only to be directly pierced and bypassed.

    Although divine wind is capable of completely negating death type spiritual pressure, this arrow contained life force. It was entirely different technique!

    Kiso’s heart sank, he used all his remaining spiritual pressure to counter that arrow.

    As the arrow came within three meters of Kiso’s face, he chuckled to himself, “Again and again I’m reminded just how naive I am. I should have quickly dealt with this Beq. He should have never had a chance to conjure such a ridiculous attack.” He sighed to himself, “A life for a life, he actually sacrificed his life to take my own. I don’t even know what to…”

    His thoughts were suddenly interrupted as a strange sound passed by his ear. The air trembled as a blinding light intercepted that deathly black smoke arrow.

    BOOM!

    A shockwave of energy burst forth from the two forces, sending Kiso flying backwards crashing into Yuni.

    Yuni and Kiso continued to fly backwards before crashing into the Osian Tower.

    After several seconds, Kiso’s mind cleared and he stared blankly at a large crater that had been formed beneath the shockwave.

    “What the hell happened?!” Kiso couldn’t understand, he was certainly almost killed just now.

    What had saved him?

    In his mind, a gentle voice gave him the answer, “Kiso, that scared me! Such a vicious attack… I had to take a chance and use Koho’s Soul Piercing Arrow, I thought you were going to die!”

    Fortunately, since Beq’s technique contained his life force, his soul was still attached to it. The Soul Piercing arrow was able to directly strike Beq’s soul residing in his final attack, resulting in the shockwave that ended it.

    Kiso grunted as he moved forward, turning around to face Yuni he inquired, “Soul Piercing Arrow? Koho actually gave you such a thing? Why didn’t you use it back then?”

    Kiso was of course referring to the fight between them and Danstun. She could have easily used the arrow to take care of him, thus avoiding the near fatal encounter.

    Yuni’s face blushed, replying quietly, “I forgot…”

    Kiso couldn’t help but pause for a moment, then laugh loudly.

    Amidst his laughter, Yan’s voice echoed through the air, “Kiso! They’re escaping!”

    To Be Continued!
  • edited July 2015
    Okay guys, that's it for now.

    Tell me what you think! (Be merciful...)
  • It seems like a good story so far! Little ultra-geniuses are pretty bad-ass when it gets down to it. I'm looking forward to later chapters! :)
  • Amazing story man.
  • i really like the plot... this is amazing pls. continue writing more i would like to read more of this original story of yours...... :)
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