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Aether Beasts

Chapter 11 - 11

Chapter 11 - 11

I awoke the next day to the feeling of something snuggling up next to me and for a second I thought that I"d dreamed up heading through the forest and making it back to town, but after opening my eyes I realized Zirani must have left her core at some point while i"d been asleep.

"Good morning," She said, sleepily, blinking up at me.

"How long have you been there," I asked. I don"t mind, but it"d be a whole other thing if my aunt saw her and I wasn"t really in the mood to explain everything.

She smiled. "Don"t worry I haven"t been here for long, and your aunt hasn"t seen me."

Once again she"d read my thoughts.

"How does that work?" I asked her. "Are you just reading my thoughts all the time or just some of the time?"

"I have a constant sense of what you"re thinking, but I only get exact details if I focus," She replied. "And when I"m in our core, I always have a vague sense of things but I stay dormant most of the time. You"re not at the level where I can constantly be active."

"Got it. You better head back into our core just in case my aunt"s still around."

She pouted and I felt guilty, but I wasn"t at the level of strength where I could protect her or even myself for that matter if she was spotted.

Zirani moved back into her core, and I got up out of bed and headed to the bathroom. After a quick shower and the use of some mouthwash, I headed down and ate a quick breakfast, this time taking the time to cook up some eggs and bacon. My aunt as usual was gone. She owned and worked at the only clinic in the town, and was very dedicated to her job. I imagined the sects had given her even more reason to leave late.

The sect camps were something I wanted to visit, but first I needed to head to the academy and find my friends.

The academy was bustling more than usual when I arrived and I had to stop as a few classmates walked up to me and expressed their surprise at seeing me. I answered a few questions but quickly made my way to the largest building.

My friends were in the training area that had once been a gymnasium, and both were doing practice drills. I watched as Leyton twirled a spear around then pulled it close and a second later it struck out like a viper.

Thomas"s hammer wasn"t as elegant, but the skill with which he wielded the hefty weapon wasn"t something to scoff at. To him, it was both a tool and a weapon, and he"d been using them since he"d started apprenticing under his father.

He raised the hammer and brought it, stopping just before it struck the ground to pull it back then sweep the air in front of him.

I looked over the rest of the room, noting the few others that were sparring, or just doing basic weapons exercises. It was mostly the younger students, which made sense. The others were either at the sect camps or already working. In West Vale like most other towns as far as I knew, most people began working as soon as they were able, for us it was as soon as you were educated.

The weapons rack at the side of the room still had plenty of weapons, including the glaive I"d practiced with so many times. I headed over, still unnoticed by my friends who were focused on their own training. The glaive wasn"t anything special, made of iron with a simple curve design.

I twirled it around my hands, enjoying the weight and heft of the weapon. I liked the variety the glaive allowed me, though I could use a sword if need be, I just wasn"t as good with a regular blade.

I took one of the empty spots in the room and took a deep breath before slowly moving through the positions I"d been taught. Most of what I knew about the glaive had been self-taught. Our physical teacher, professor Deon, had known the basics but had made it clear to me that I would have to find out more about it myself, which I had. The blade swept through the air in wide arcs as I used the weapon"s full range, but then I pulled it back as if an imaginary enemy had closed the distance.

Just as I was getting into the feel of the weapon, a voice knocked me out of my focus.

"Aiden? Holy shit it really is you."

I turned just a Leyton slammed into me and enveloped me in a hug. I chuckled and patted him on the back. "As much as I like you, I"m not into that."

He laughed and punched me lightly. "I see you finally got your first core. What the hell happened?"


I postponed my explanations as Thomas walked over. "Oh, didn"t know you were back."

"I told you he"d be fine," Leyton said, though the relief was clear in his voice. "A gale wolf ain"t enough to put him down."

Thomas placed a hand on my shoulder and gave me a nod and smile. He wasn"t as lively or energetic as Leyton, but I understood the gesture. I told them the same thing that I"d told my aunt, and while Thomas seemed to want to ask some questions, Leyton took it all in stride.

"Nature, huh? That"s interesting, though you gotta do what you have to, to survive."

"That"s true," I said. "Though I wouldn"t expect to hear that from you."

Thomas chuckled. "Apparently he"s changed now that he"s had a taste of "true battle" as he calls it. As if running and screaming is a true battle."

Leyton crossed his arms. "I never said that."

Thomas gave him a smile. "Sure, friend, whatever you say."

Leyton turned back to me. "So did you see the sects? Crazy huh? Never expected them to come here."

"Neither did I," I replied. "You heard anything about that?"

Thomas shook his head. "No, but we did hear there"s gonna be a friendly tournament between the two sects, and anyone who joins can participate. There"s gonna be prizes for the top five."

That piqued my interest. "Prizes?"

"Yeah, I don"t know what, but me and Tommy here are gonna head to camps in a bit, wanna tag along?"

"I told you never to call me that," Thomas grumbled. "Want me to call you Layla?"

"Alright, calm down," Leyton said soothingly.

God, how I"d missed this. The simple back and forth was something I was used to and for a moment in the forest, I never thought I"d experience it again.

"I"ll come along."

I wanted to see the camps for myself, and who knew, perhaps I"d join one, though I always imagined myself, venturing out into the wilds to carve my own path.

There was a giggle in my head at that, and I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes as I focused back on the conversation between my friends.

"Come on, let"s go, I even heard they have an auction house."

He quickly placed his spear back on the rack and we followed suit, making our way out of the academy, together.

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