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Aether Beasts

Chapter 14 - 14

Chapter 14 - 14

"What the hell"s a warp seed?"

"A mutation relic," She said in an awed tone. "I didn"t ever expect to find one here, although it could very well be something else, I"ve never heard anything that shares a name with the warp seed."

"What"s a mutation relic," I asked. If Zirani was acting this shocked and awed then it must be something interesting.

"They"re items that can grant an arcanist"s core the aspects of another affinity, although in a different way. A warp seed would grant a nature affinity core, a spacial aspect."

"What do you mean?"

She paused for a few moments clearly trying to think of how best to explain what she meant. "Think of it like this. A space affinity core deals with manipulation of space, shortening, lengthening, teleportation, and other things. A warp seed would grant those abilities to someone"s nature core, but in a way that involves the original nature. Imagine entering a tree then appearing at another a mile away, using them as portals. That"s just one example. It doesn"t grant you the affinity, instead, it mutates your affinity. It"s called a mutation, because nature has no control over space, not in the arcane, not naturally at least. The warp seed would grant us that control via the affinity we already possess. Another I can think of is a death spark, which colors an arcanist"s lighting black and grants the abilities of the death affinity. There is a limit of course, but the mutation grows just like everything else."

"Why is it not the first place prize then?" I asked.

The warp seed sounded like an ancient artifact that entire sects would start wars over, and yet hear it was as a third-place prize or was it no big deal for them. I shook my head, no that didn"t make sense. Zirani was from below the great scar and it was a shock to her.

"They very well might not know what it is," Zirani replied. "Expeditions from below the scar to the northern plains only happen every ten years or so, and even then they never leave the border cities. The quality and the density of the aether here is awful, and most are scared it will affect that. It won"t of course, all it means is that it"s harder to progress. Aiden, if this is an actual warp seed, we need to get our hands on it at any cost. This isn"t an opportunity we can afford to waste."

That meant I was definitely joining the steel heart then. That warp seed sounded like a godsend. No one had the space affinity in West Vale, simply because it was rare, and now I had a chance to gain the abilities of the space affinity to a degree, but not only that. If what Zirani said was true then it would augment my nature core.

I turned and continued on my way to the second largest tent.

There were a few people coming and going when I arrived, but for the most part, it was pretty empty, although Markem was there and his eyes lit up when he spotted me.

"Come to Join?"

I nodded, and for a second he seemed taken aback.

"What, no questions? No suspicions?"

I shook my head. "I heard about the prizes."

A look of understanding came over his face, although I doubted he clearly understood, not that I was going to tell him. If people found out what the warp seed really was then I"d never get my hands on it.

"Well luckily for you, I can help that along," He said. "Just wait here for a few while I get the contract and one of the training spaces ready."

He left and returned a moment later with a contract that was surprisingly short. It was easy to understand and honestly, it was shocking how little the requirements were of the steel heart. It was as he"d put it back at the auction house. It was more of a mercenary guild, or bounty hunters guild.

"I sign and that"s it?"

He shook his head and a smile bloomed on his face. "No, you"ll be taking a quick combat test. If you pass you can sign and join, if you fail then better luck next time."

While was his smile growing? Hold on…


He nodded. "I don"t expect you to beat me, but show me your skills and why you"re worthy to join the sect."

"Ok," I replied. It"s not like I could refuse. If I wanted that mutation relic then I needed to join a sect, and I sure as hell wasn"t joining the twin horn sect.

Markem led me out of the tent and to an area of small fields outside of the camp. It was the furthest thing away from the twin horn camp and looked to have been made by stone affinity arcanists. The ground had been changed and marked, and now there were decent-sized rectangles, where people were sparring or just training.

"Alright I"ll be holding back, but not by much. I want to see what you can do. Remember your goal isn"t to win but to show me what you can do."

I nodded and took a place opposite to him on the field he"d picked. Nearby arcanists stopped and whispered began. I swear I even heard someone offering bets, but I put that out of my mind quickly in favor of focusing on Markem.

He had no weapons on him, instead, he just stood there, a grin on his face.

"On my mark. Three, Two, One, Go!"

I shot to my right as he closed the distance. At the same time, I focused and pulled aether from my core, weaving it correctly, and forming two bark bracers. I wasn"t going to beat him, and he"d said that he wanted to see what I could do, and I needed to last long enough to show him.

He was faster than me, being at his second core, and he quickly turned and shot for me. His right fist moved to strike at my face, and I barely managed to dodge and return a quick left jab. He blocked, but I was already moving into the next strike. A lot of the fighting techniques Zirani had shown me relied on this principle. A chain of attack that wove together, but not in a linear way. The attacks could be changed out. My low kick hit his legs, although it didn"t budge him and his own knee managed to graze my side as I leaped back to get some distance. I let out a grunt. That glancing blow would definitely leave a bruise.

"Impressive, but I want to see more."

Before he could close the distance, I formed two lashing vines and sent one towards him while I wrapped the other around one of my bark bracers. I wanted to get one good shot in before this fight ended, and cause at least a little damage. He dodged the vine, but I could change its direction with ease. It came back around, and wrapped around one of his arms, distracting him momentarily. I rocketed from my position and closed the gap. He pulled on the vine, but I had already let it go. I struck out at his face, and he dogged and a smile appeared on his face. He probably thought the fight was over, but just as he went to counter-attack, the whip on my bracer acted, spinning rapidly as it unwrapped from my bracer, and smacking him in the face directly. I"d never expected to hit his face with a punch, it had just been to set up for this attack.

It struck with a loud smack, and although nothing broke, the nasty red mark was definitely visible.

He froze and I took the opportunity to move back.

"Well, I"ll be," He muttered. I expected him to be mad, but to my surprise, he had a wide smile on his face. "I think we"re done here, you"re more than qualified to join."

It was then that I noticed the small crowd that had gathered around us.

"I can"t believe he actually hit Markem," One person said.

"I"ve never seen a nature affinity arcanist fight like that, did you see those vine whips?"

"It seemes another recruit has joined us today," A loud yet calm voice spoke. The crowd parted as an elderly-looking man walked up to the field.

Markem bowed. "Elder Samuel."

Not really knowing what else to do, I followed suit, but to my surprise Elder Samuel laughed.

"You know I don"t care for that," Samuel said before turning to me. "Your fighting skills are quite impressive as is your use of techniques. I"m glad you"ve chosen to join us. Markem, has he signed yet?"

"Not yet, elder."

"Then get it done," Samuel said.

We left after that, and it only took a minute for me to sign the contract, and collect a set of casual robes, and combat robes, both with simple cleaning enchantments. I"d be getting a medallion when we arrived in Orton, but for now, the robes would have to do, not that he was worried about anyone impersonating a sect member. There weren"t that many in West Vale and he knew them all by heart.

"I hope I made the right choice," I said to Zirani as I headed home.

"You did. Trust me this isn"t something we can afford to let go of. That warp seed will help tremendously with your development."

"I guess tomorrow gonna be a training day then?"

"Oh yes.. We need to make sure you"re as ready as can be."

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