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Aether Beasts

Chapter 20 - 20

Chapter 20 - 20

I woke up ready and eager the next day, well-rested and prepared to win the warp seed. With what had happened yesterday and the confidence my friends and loved ones had in me, I was running on a high.

My aunt, surprisingly enough, was waiting for me when I made my way downstairs after a quick shower. A large breakfast of eggs, bacon, toasts, and even waffles was waiting for me.

"What"s the occasion?" I asked her, looking over all the food. I rarely had normal breakfast foods, usually, it was porridge with core dust or some fruit and coffee. It had been years since I"d had anything like this, not because I couldn"t, but I generally stayed away from fatty foods.

"I took today off so I can come and watch you fight."

I froze and turned to her. Had she actually just said that? My aunt, the woman who abhorred violence of any kind, taking a day of healing off to watch me fight? The shock must have been clear on my face because she rolled her eyes.

"The town can survive without me for a day, and I want to be there for you," She said. "Not that I"m looking forward to watching a bunch of people beat each other up."

The last words were mocking. Now that was more like her, constantly making fun of combat.

"Now dig in before it gets cold."

I didn"t need to be told twice. I piled a plate high and dug in with gusto enjoying the taste of her cooking. She wasn"t a master chef by any means but she knew how to cook with what she had. I must have eaten two large platefuls before I felt moderately full and even then the only reason I didn"t go for more was because I didn"t want stomach cramps during the fight. I was only at the first level of infusion and my body was still human, just enhanced.

We walked over to the tournament area together and this time instead of multiple small stages it was just one big stage, which made sense since there were only twelve of us left.

"I can"t believe I"m saying this, but show them what you"re made of."

I smiled and gave her a quick hug before I walked over to the other five steel heart disciples who had made it.

Elder Samuel was there as well, and he smiled when he spotted me. "Ah Aiden, good you"re here just on time. I was just telling everyone to make sure you give it your all and if defeat is close then you better at least make them pay for it. News of this will reach Orton and will probably affect the current stage of things."

Was he talking about the conflict between the sects? Or perhaps the reason why they"d come to a town like West Vale this year when they would have never bothered before.

"All right, Lucas of the steel heart and Elijah of the twin horn, please make your way to the center stage and prepare yourselves."

The sound of Deon"s voice cut Elder Samuel off and he gave us one last encouraging nod before he left to join the others of the steel heart.

Lucas was a tall and lean teen with a runner"s build and a face that made it seem like he was constantly frowning. His opponent was a dark-skinned man with a cocky smile and stout body. I"d spoken to Lucas a bit the day before and I"d seen him fight and I knew that unlike most people I"d seen he actually had some basic martial arts and didn"t shout out his techniques. I also knew his first core was of the wind affinity.

As Elijah, well I didn"t know anything about him, though if I had to guess I would say he was the type to use brute force rather than technique though I could be wrong.

They stood at opposite ends of the stage, Lucas silent and still while Elijah seemed to be brimming with energy, moving from side to side.

"I"ll only say this once. The fight ends when one of you is rendered unconscious or surrenders, there is to be no killing or severe crippling, do I make myself clear?"


"Got it."

"Then on my mark, three, two, one, begin!"

Elijah shot forward like a bullet with far more speed than I would have thought he was capable of. He reached Lucas in a matter of seconds. Lucas for his part hadn"t moved and waited patiently as Elijah closed the distance. When the larger teen was only a foot away, Lucas dodged to the side and brought his left hand around in a chopping motion. Elijah managed to duck under the attack but failed to notice the knee rising up to hit his back. He let out a grunt and twisted around, pushing a plan up, sending out a small yet powerful-looking jet of flame at Lucas"s face. Lucas leaped back but not quickly enough and a red mark marred the right side of his face.

They both eyed each other like wolves fighting over a carcass, and it was then that I noticed the aether gathered around Elijah"s legs. It was crude but no were near as crude as some of those I"d seen yesterday and as far as I could tell it seemed to be some sort of pushing technique.

"Close enough," Zirani said. "It increases the force at which he pushes off when he takes a step. It"s crude compared to some similar techniques I"ve seen, but it works, although he won"t be able to keep it up for much longer."

She was right, Elijah quickly shot forwards, rushing up to Lucas. It seemed that Elijah was the type to try and end a fight quickly since he wouldn"t last in a battle of attrition. Instead of moving away or standing his round, Lucas moved forward to meet Elijah and I saw aether gather around his right index finger, slowly building up into a technique. Elijah sent a flurry of punches at Lucas who dodged and blocked most, though a few landed, but Lucas didn"t seem to care. The aether in his finger kept building and for a second I thought the technique might falter. It was a lot of aether and he was only at the first level of infusion so pushing like this could lead to backlash.

Just when it seemed like his technique would collapse he pushed his finger forward, tapping Elijah"s chest. Nothing happened for a second, then Elijah shot backward like a cannonball, flying across the stage and smacking into the stone wall that blocked the seats from the stage.

I looked back to Lucas who was holding his finger and gritting his teeth in obvious pain. I narrowed my eyes and winced. His finger was entirely red with purple bruises and seemed bent. That technique while affected had clearly been above his level.

"Risky, but it worked out," Zirani commented. "Though the technique was idiotic. He could have evenly distributed the aether across all five fingers instead of one, although he may not have the skill to do such a thing. I keep forgetting the difference between my lands and this place."

"The victory goes to Lucas of the steel heart."

The steel heart disciples cheered while the twin horn disciples glared down at Elijah, no one moving to help him. Fortunately for him, my aunt was in the crowd and she quickly moved to heal him, much to my dismay. Even if I had wanted to tell her to stop, she wouldn"t. Once she was done two twin horn disciples came to collect him, bowing to her before they dragged him off by his legs, his face in the dirt. Seeing how they treated their own disciples, I was thankful I"d chosen to join the steel heart instead of the twin horn.

My aunty moved to Lucas and healed him while Deon announced the next match.

"Aiden of the steel heart and Jason of the twin horn, please make your way to the center stage and prepare yourselves."

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