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Aether Beasts

Chapter 16 - 16

Chapter 16 - 16

Zirani wasn"t kidding when she said we"d be training harder.

Early morning found Zirani and I venture out of the town with a few packs of provisions in tow. She wanted to spend the entire day training and didn"t want to have to come back when I became hungry or thirsty. I felt a bit bad as I"d told my aunt I wouldn"t be heading out of town, but I wasn"t even going to be a mile away. We were only heading to a hidden area I"d found a few years back. It was nothing special, just a clearing surrounded by trees but it would do the job and grant privacy.

Zirani"s general idea for the training was to improve what I already knew rather than teach me more.

"If we had more time I"d teach you other techniques, but the tournament is tomorrow, so we"ll stick to what you already know."

We started with basic combat training and once again, she whooped me most of the time, although it wasn"t as one-sided now, and she had to use more effort to put me down, and a few times I actually almost managed a glancing blow. She had me use only my fists with no technique and taught me a few grapples and tricks to use when fighting human opponents at close range.

Only arcanists at the first core would be allowed to participate, and Zirani said they wouldn"t have too many techniques and would still for the most part be relying on traditional combat. I argued that I should be using a glaive, but she said that it would take more time to incorporate the technique with it and that we only had a day. As much as I hate to admit it, she was right, though I still wished I could use one.

After the first hour, we switched from combat training to techniques and things ramped up to a new level. She wanted me to be able to form techniques under pressure and gave me a time limit for each. If I failed to form the technique in the time she"d given, then she would lay me out flat, but if I did she wouldn"t. I must have been flipped onto my back half a dozen times before I managed it with one of the techniques. It"s hard to focus when someone"s eyes are locked onto you and they look like they"re about to destroy you. Despite her appearance, when she was fighting her aura completely changed. The level of focus was insane. Her mind was completely bare of anything but the fight.

She also had me attempting to form multiple techniques at the same time, which was far more difficult than I first expected. Trying to focus on two separate things that seemed similar was hard because I kept making mistakes and making changes to a technique that was meant for the other, which led to the technique dispersing or coming out half-formed. My face still stung from where my own whip had smacked me.

Even through all of it, I continued and didn"t complain. I knew why she was pushing me this hard and if I gave up now then how could I possibly ever think of venturing out of West Vale or crossing the great scar. I needed more training and more experience, and the pain was only temporary. That was something my aunt had taught me.

The green pulse wasn"t something she had me training on. She said she wanted to teach me how to use it while moving and from my feet, but not today. There were plenty of things she wanted to teach me, but today was all combat, combat, combat.

She allowed a few breaks of course to drink some water and get something to eat, but that was about it, and afterward, she only increased the pace.

At one point I found myself struggling to get back up. My entire body ached and my arms felt limp and useless.

"Come on, Aiden, get up."

"I don"t think I can," I said through gritted teeth.

There was silence for a second before she moved closer. "I was going to tell you this tomorrow but I"ll say it now instead." She leaned down to whisper in my ear. "If you manage to get the warp seed I"ll give you… another more passionate prize."

My mind froze for a second then I realized what she meant, and heat flooded my face as images came to run through my kind. My mouth went dry and new strength surged into my arms as I pushed myself to my feet.

"Are you serious?"

She smiled. "I am. I"ve never laid with a human male before and well… we are bonded now, it"s going to get to that point eventually, why not shorten the time, but only if you get the seed."

"This seed is really that important isn"t it?"

"More than you know," She said. "I"ve seen mutation relics before, but a warp seed is by far the rarest I"ve ever seen. A spacial mutation for nature? That"s not something we can let slip from us. I want you to grow stronger and this will help solve so many problems."

"There are other benefits?"

She nodded. "Benefits that will help you increase in power at a faster rate. I"ve already told you how backwards the northern plains are, well there are other things. The quality and density of the aether here is terrible. There"s a reason those that come from beyond the great scar every ten years haven"t taken the land yet. It isn"t worth it and raising people here would only hurt them. This seed will help us shorten the gap to your second core. We want to be ready when the next expedition comes in so we can leave with them."

"Do you know when the next time they"ll come is?"

"Before…" She grew quiet and an overwhelming sense of hatred and rage became visible to me through our link before she rangled it under control."

"Around a year and a half, I think, now… let"s get back to training."

She quickly turned away from me, hiding her expression. Holy fuck that had been a lot of emotion. She hadn"t told me how she"d ended up in the warehouse, but apparently, it was a touchy subject.

We got back to training, and I quickly put what had happened to the back of my mind. I wanted to know, but it wasn"t really relevant now, and we were stuck together, so she would eventually tell me one way or another. I wasn"t in a rush.

We practiced and practiced until well past afternoon and even then she wanted to go on, but I informed her that my aunt wouldn"t be pleased and it was best if I got back before her. She had keen sense and it would just be like her to know where I"d been from my smell or the dirt on my clothes. Zirani relanted hesitantly, and we quickly headed back home.

I immediately headed to take a shower while Zirani moved back into her core.

I let out a sigh as the grime and dirt were washed away. I finished up and headed to the living room. To my surprise, Zriani left her core once more and took a seat on the couch.

"You sure that"s a good idea?"

"Is your aunt coming home soon?"

I thought about it then shook my head. Aunty would probably be another hour so Ziranai would stay out for a bit longer. Usually, I"d wait for my aunt to get home so she could make something since she was by far the better cook but I was too hungry for that so I cooked up some meat and potatoes, nothing fancy.

I was just about finished eating when shock poured down the link between me and Zirani. I frowned and rushed out of the kitchen to find my Aunt in the door, staring wide-eyed at Zirani who was staring back, equally wide-eyed.

"Oh fuck."

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