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Aether Beasts

Chapter 7 - 7

Chapter 7 - 7

I ended up sleeping on one of the two couches while Zirani moved back into her core. Apparently, she no longer needed to sleep and she could communicate with me while in her core so it was the best option though I did wonder what sleeping next to her would feel like.

I fell asleep with that thought in my head and dreamt of Zirani. The next day started early as Zirani believed in waking with the sun.

Apparently, she didn"t need my permission to leave her core and already had a few of the grey packets ready for me and a plan for the day worked out.

I"ll be honest, it was nice waking up to her and knowing that yesterday hadn"t been some sort of dream, though thoughts of the wolves and my friends plagued me. I hoped that they"d made it out ok.

After a quick meal of meat porridge or slop as I thought of it, we headed back to the small clearing for more training as Zirani, except this time it wasn"t just technique practice.

I"d thought that I was a skilled fighter and in comparison to the others in my class I was, but Zirani was on a completely different level. A hundred years of practice showed as I felt more like a child trying to fight an adult rather than an arcanist.

She moved with more skill than I"d ever seen and had more experience than me. It became very clear very quickly that I wasn"t going to beat her or even match her. She outclassed me in pretty much every way. She"d been fighting for longer, fought more, and knew her affinity better than I did.

But, that just meant I learned more and at a faster rate.

"Good but you need to be faster," she said after she"d trounced me once more. "Some attacks flow into the next and if you don"t get them off quick enough the entire set becomes useless, leaving you open for a counterattack."

I nodded, panting heavily. While she didn"t get tired as long as I kept absorbing pure aether into her core, I didn"t have that same benefit. While I did recover somewhat and could last longer than I could have when I was a human, I just didn"t possess the stamina to go against her multiple times in a row. Not to mention a lot of the pure aether I absorbed went into her core and only some went into rejuvenating my stamina. That was a caveat to the manifestation thing. As I was now I couldn"t function at my current peak when she was out, but for now, that was fine as I wasn"t in a real fight and her teaching was well worth the drawback.

I stood and got back into a fighting stance, my arms raised and ready.

She smiled, jumping up and down in place. She didn"t bother getting into a stance. I"d quickly come to the conclusion she was holding back and the one time I"d asked her to go full force she"d laid me out in less than two seconds, I counted.

I moved, rushing forward then strafing left as I got close. Her eyes followed me easily and she blocked my first jab and moved in close going for a knee to my stomach. I raised my right knee to block and struck at her face with a left hook. Unfortunately for me, she dodged and followed up with a jab of her own which I blocked, but I wasn"t focusing on her legs and missed the sweep she sent at me.

I fell to the ground and looked up just in time to see a fist flying at me. It stopped an inch away from my nose and I let out a breath.

"Your win, again."

I sighed. As helpful as this was, it was tiring, getting laid out time and time again.

"Let"s take a break," she said, then we can move on to using your techniques alongside your regular fighting and weaving the two together."

I only nodded, too tired to reply and too busy focusing on absorbing pure aether.

She sat beside me and I glanced up to see her staring down at me. "what do you think of me?"

That came out of nowhere. I racked my brain for an answer. "Ermm, I think you an amazing aether beast, very talented and–"

I hesitated.

"And?" she prompted.

"And very beautiful."

I looked away, not wanting to see her reaction, but jumped slightly when I felt a warm sensation on my cheek. I turned back just in time to see her move away and stand up.

"Come on back to training. I wanna finish so we can plan our exodus from this place."

I just stared, rubbing the spot where she"d kissed me.

That had not been the reaction I was expecting. Was that good? I mean she"d kissed me, so it had to be good, right? I wasn"t an expert of aether beast, not like her so for now I"d just take it as something good and not overthink things.

The rest of the basic combat training passed quickly and by the end, I was getting the hang of what she teaching me, and while I wasn"t winning, I was lasting much longer and forcing her to work harder to lay me out on my back.

However, it got ten times more complicated and harder when she introduced techniques into the mix. Even though she was only limiting herself to three out of the possible dozens she knew, I still lasted even less than I had with the basic combat. The way she wove her regular attacks with her techniques wasn"t something I could match and the first few times, I almost gave up, but a few words from Zirani and Memoires of the wolves pulled me back up.

"Techniques shouldn"t always be these huge attacks which you stop everything to do as I"ve seen so many lower core arcanists do, and please don"t shout it out."

She shook her head, and there was a confused look on her face. "I don"t know why some of you humans are insistent on shouting out your techniques as though you"re in some sort of performance. Why would you give your opponent a warning?"

There was a lot more stuff like that, tidbits of information that seemed obvious, but I would have probably missed a lot of it if not for her. When I tried to tell her shouting it out helped the technique form she stared at me for a good minute before laughing.

"Why would you ever practice it that way in the first place? Why not set the correct foundation from the beginning?"

I had to admit she had a very good point, and why was I even trying to argue the point. Even I"d sometimes wondered why arcanists shouted out moves, though Zirani did inform it was usually only the lesser arcanists that did so.

A few hours later, after dozens of beatings, I was able to last a good fifteen seconds, although that was when she held back. If I thought she was dangerous with just her fists, then with her techniques, there was no hope I was beating her anytime soon, but I was ok with that, for now. We were attached and her teaching would help immensely, not that I only saw her as a resource, no, even though we"d only known each other for two days, I felt close to her.

"So, are we leaving tomorrow?" I asked, finishing up a packet of meat porridge, and wishing for some water. We"d moved back into the room with the comfy couches and Zirani was leaning back on one, her chest pushed out.

I tried to stay focused on her face, but it was hard. The clothes that barely covered her, didn"t help and I swear I caught her smirking at me every time my eyes wandered down. Oddly enough, she didn"t seem offended or angry which set me at ease.

"Yes, we can"t stay here forever, and I"m sure you want to get back to your town."

"I want to get back before the caravans arrive," I replied.

She rolled her eyes. "We don"t need them, I can lead us through the wilds with ease."

I told her my plan for when we got back to the town. I wanted to speak with my aunt before I left with caravans to Orton. If I wanted to grow as an arcanist, I had to leave West Vale.

"There"s still a risk in that, and arriving with the caravans will make things easier."

She sighed but acquiesced. "Fine."

The conversation died down slowly after that, and I waited for Zirani to move back into my core so I could sleep.

"I think I"ll sleep out here today."

"Ok," I said, laying down on the couch.

I closed my eyes, and yawned, but snapped them back open when I felt a body press into me..

"Ermm, Ziranai, theres two couches."

"I know."

I opened my mouth then shut it. Why was I complaining? I had a beautiful woman sleeping next to me, and I"d be a liar if I said it didn"t feel good. Her skin was silky smooth and she smelled like berries and fresh air, not to mention she provide me warmth, although I had to focus on sleeping and nothing else, less my lower area react.

"Goodnight, Zirani."

"Goodnight, Aiden, sleep well."

I hesitantly raised an arm and placed it around her. She tensed for a second and I prepared for her to jump away or attack, but then she sighed and relaxed, moving closer to me.. With a sigh of relief and a smile, I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

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