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Aether Beasts

Chapter 6 - 6

Chapter 6 - 6

"The next technique is a simple offensive attack that can be used in many ways," Zirani said, pacing back and forth in front of me. "I never really gave it a name, but let"s just call it the lashing vine or wine whip if you will."

She stopped pacing and I could sense aether moving up her arm to the palm of her hand, though I didn"t know if that was a benefit of having my first core or if it was because Zirani and I were attached. Whatever the reason, it allowed me to see exactly what she did with the aether.

Once a small amount had pooled at her palm, it began to push outwards in the shape of a rope, or thick vine in this case, and in just a few seconds, there was a long vine extending from Zirani"s palm.

She sighed. "I forgot how long it takes at this level. Well, it doesn"t matter. This is one of the ways you can form a Lashing vine. Later I"ll teach you how to make it from outside of your body but for now, this will do."

I opened my mouth to ask how the vine was controlled but closed it as the vine quickly moved toward me. I blinked as it wrapped around me. You wouldn"t think a vine is so strong, but no matter how I struggled I knew without using aether I wouldn"t be getting free.

"Great for restraint, long reach and–"

She turned and the vine blurred before striking a piece of the boulder she"d cut in half earlier, sending bits of rock flying everywhere.

I winced at the thought of that striking bare skin. Lashing vine, indeed. My eyes hadn"t been able to keep up with it.

"What level are these techniques, Zirani?" I asked. She said they were basic but I"d seen and heard of techniques a lot less impressive that were meant to be higher level.

"Well compared to other simple techniques I can see why you might think there higher level, but the truth is the northern plains is a backwards piece of land. Your arcanists are severely lacking compared to those that lay beyond the great scar."

I blinked. "Really."

She nodded. "one day you"re going to have to leave these lands and then you"ll see for yourself. I"ll enjoy taking you before the green court, though not before you at least fifth level and have two cores."

The green court?

"There are groups of aether beasts?"

She gave me a "are you stupid look" "You"ve seen my intelligence firsthand. I"m not the only one. There are plenty of intelligent aether beasts that have formed groups. Some even trade with humans though those are few and far between. Most of the time it"s just skirmish after skirmish."

Was everything I knew going to be smashed in pieces today by revelations? How much knowledge was I missing? I"d always assumed I knew everything about aether and arcanist but now I was starting to realize how wrong I was.

The lashing vine didn"t take as long to get down as the bark armor did. The main process involved pooling aether at the palm of my hand then shaping and pushing it out at the same time. I didn"t get it first try, but it only took about half a dozen before I got it down. The actual control of the whip was easy. It was just an effort of will and thought to get the vine to move as I wanted, although Ziranai warned me that cutting it with normal weapons wouldn"t be viable, aether formed weapons of techniques could and there was often a small bit of backlash that could be avoided if you canceled the technique just as the vine was cut. She demonstrated this by using her grass razor to cut my vine, which sent a lance of pain through my hand. A reaction like that could be fatal in a fight.

As we practiced, I asked Zirani, a few more questions about herself and where she came from. By this point, I wasn"t phased anymore by what she said. The area of the southern wilds she was from was owned and governed by the green court, a group of powerful nature affinity aether beasts that had banded together. Oddly enough she wasn"t actually a part of the court, just an ally.

"Zigan"s don"t do well in subservient positions," She answered when I"d asked her.

"But what about us," I replied.

"Do you think me your servant?"

I shook my head. "No, more a partner I suppose."

"There you have it."

By the time I was done with the lashing vine, the sun had gone down, and the moon was coming up, though Ziranai wouldn"t let me sleep until I"d at least attempted the final technique.

"Green sense is by far one of the most important techniques any nature affinity beast or arcanist could know. It"s similar to tremor sense or air sense, but for us, it"s more than that. The aether didn"t just change us, but also the plant life. The trees and plants are more alive than ever before."

Change us? Why was she speaking as though she hadn"t always been an aether beast?

"Zirani, you were born an aether beast, correct?" I asked

"Yes, but those of my people who first came here when the skies opened up, weren"t. The aether changed us, just as much as you."

Skies opening up? Did she mean the great calamity?

"We can talk about history later," She said impatiently, apparently reading my mind. "Let"s focus on the technique. We don"t have time to teach you all of its aspects, we"d need a few weeks for that, so for now, we"re going to stick with the green pulse."

She knelt and placed a hand on the ground, motioning for me to do the same. "Now, this is a long process, and it will seem like too much at first, but just try to follow along as best you can."

She closed her eyes.

"Now slowly pull some aether from our core and let it flow down to your hand. We will try this with your feet eventually but your hand will do for now. Now imagine a string connecting you to the ground, but instead of imagining it being attached view it more as a string within a sea of stone. Now at the end of that string imagine a ball of aether and as you do, push aether through the link in controlled bursts until the size is right. This will take many tries to perfect but try your hardest."

I focused and did as she said, trying to put everything I"d learned by practicing the other techniques into use.

"Good. Now imagine some of that aether pulsing out of the ball and into the earth like a wave, traveling around you, into the grass, plants, and trees but focus on the idea of it returning. This is the hardest part. If you don"t have enough focus or a good grasp on your aether then it will simply vanish into your surroundings. The goal is for it to return and for you to repeat the process. Through this, you will get an idea of the land, but not just that, nature will understand the request and information will be sent back. As I said before the arrival of aether affected the plants and trees as much as it did to humans and other life. It breathed new life and sense into the green. It is this sense you will tap into and information from them you want to take."

I failed, miserably, but I wasn"t really expecting to succeed the first time. Instead, I focused back on my core and tried again. Repetition was key to getting better. She continued as I tried and tried again.

"This is one aspect of green sense. It is derived from the tremor sense those with earth aether use and the air sense those with wind aether use. but remember, unlike them, the green is alive and can provide much more information and clarity if you know the right method which luckily for you, I do but for now this is enough. You may be an arcanist now but you"re still only at the first level of infusion. You still need rest. Let us head back in. You can try some more tomorrow before we leave."

For a second I thought about ignoring her words and continuing, but then I sighed and got to my feet. I wasn"t in a rush, and I was pretty tired. As much as I wanted to learn some more, for now, it was best if I got some rest.

Today had been a long day, and tomorrow would probably be the same.. I still needed to get back home after all.

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