Heaven's chimes rung out as Dyon looked on in satisfaction at 2 sets of 3 pills. It had taken him much longer than he wanted, 2 weeks, but he finally combined 3 100% effective constitution awakening pills and 3 cultivation cleansing pills. He didn't need 3 of each, but he thought that he might in the future. In fact, the cleansing pills might be an effective weapon if used properly. After combining them, they should be potent enough to clear the cultivation of peak Celestial stage expert. Thinking of that, Dyon shivered.
But, when he thought about it, he sobered up. It would be impossible to force something into the mouth of such an expert. Especially since whatever expert it was would be powerful enough to force him to use something he only had 3 of. Therefore, to use against an expert like that, he'd have to ground it into powder and toss it into the air. But, if used like that, it would probably only be effective against a peak essence gathering expert.
"well… that'll have to be good enough for now."
'I only have a month left and all I've done is make 6 pills and learn the weapon's hell array: speed arraying form. But, even with my increased body strength, I still have no movement techniques. Plus, I'd look like a clown if I try and use a sword now... I could use the spirit fruits in the world ring to fuse with the blood some more and increase my speed and strength, but, I feel like techniques would be more effective now. I'll focus on sword, celestial, wind and space wills for now…
With a small understanding of the celestial, wind and space, I'll have the bare minimum needed to use the Celestial movement technique. Sword will is a necessity,' Dyon thought with a grin, 'Swinging a 7-foot-long sword while saving a beautiful girl would be fucking awesome.'
Aside from this, Dyon wanted to see if he could gain a better understanding of soul techniques and cultivation. But, he was very disappointed to find out that casting soul techniques took time and often had to be at long range with the support of a team. So, he decided to instead focus on defense. By learning a defensive soul technique known as Soul's End: Devour, should anyone attack him with their soul, he would not only be able to defend, but he'd also strengthen his soul quicker by absorbing their attack.
Dyon was happy to find out if he reached the second stage of this defensive skill, it could become an attack skill wherein which he could use contact to forcibly absorb memories, erase the will of people, and take their soul power as his own. Although Dyon had learned the method of reading memories from people, those people had to either be unconscious, or allow it willingly. He wasn't as strong as his Master, as such he could only settle for this.
Over the course of his training, Dyon learned much about soul cultivation etiquette as well. He learned about how it was smart to conceal one's soul strength so attackers would underestimate you and hurt themselves. He learned about how it was rude to use your soul to investigate others and how that could often lead to conflict. He also learned about innate souls and the fact that his soul only reached the peak of the 3rd stage so quickly because he was born with that strength – it was just that he couldn't manifest it because his body was too weak.
So, just like that Dyon focused on those techniques. His blood and sweat coated the training rooms. His muscles ached, and his mind learned the pain of training one's soul. He fought puppets and destroyed formations, running through tens of doa stones a day to keep up with his training.
He bathed in recovery pools, and sometimes stayed awake for chunks of 5 to 6 days without rest. He had one goal in mind, and one purpose. Focus Academy would soon feel his wrath.
One month later, on the eve of the winter solstice, Dyon walked out of the sword cultivation room. His eyes were sharp, his aura had changed. His looks had a combined devilishness and otherworldly aura to it and his each step seemed to slice apart the wind.
Looking back at the cultivation room, a cold sweat drenched Dyon's back, 'that sword intent room is ridiculous. Especially when I accidentally started up the max level. If it wasn't for the safety functions, I'd be dead.'
However, there was a pride in Dyon's heart. Although he hadn't learned any sword techniques yet, he was confident in his skills. In fact, with enough practice, he might soon break into a realm that made sword techniques obsolete.
'I won't let them hurt you any more…'
Dyon was a bit disappointed that he couldn't use time manipulation cultivation rooms to learn wills because that would lead to their distortion. But, he believed that he had become strong enough to do what needed to be done. Dyon had a great understanding of the fact most elders were only at the peak of the foundation stage. In addition, family heads would only be at the lowest tiers of the meridian formation stage. What Dyon didn't know was that the big sect tournament was taking place on the same day…
Dyon's body flashed, disappearing from where he stood. Moments later he appeared above the massive array hiding the Celestial Deer Sect. He had put Little Black in the ring while he was in the cultivation rooms so that the little guy could eat spirit fruits and sleep to his hearts content.
With a wave of his hand, the massive sect lands disappeared. The water rushed to fill the empty space as Dyon flashed again, traveling tens of meters in split seconds.
His eyes were sharp, and his goal was singular: Focus Academy.
Using a concealment array, Dyon walked through the school. Anger he had buried for months was bubbling up in his heart but he was taking deep breaths to try and calm down.
He had no idea where Madeleine was, and although fighting through the entirety of Sapientia peak would vent his anger, it would also give the Kami family time to make counter measures. His best option was to lay low and wait until he had his eyes on her before venting his frustration. So, he decided to go to Eli's room, 111, to see how his friend was doing.
As Dyon walked through the school, he was listening to the murmurs of the students. Since they couldn't see him, they spoke with no reservations.
"Did you hear about all the students who died in the Elvin World?"
"Yea, it seems like it was all fun going in there. There's a reason there used to be a quota and only the best of us could go, but for some reason they allowed any and everyone to enter this year."
Dyon's eyes narrowed.
"That may not be the case. I heard rumors that all these new students from Focus Academy showed up. And a lot of students who went to the Elvin World are talking about how brutal they were."
"Really? Who were they?"
"Everyone thinks they're from the Storm family. They had the patented blonde hair and blue eyes. But, they were freakishly strong. We all thought the best geniuses they had were Tammy and Hauk, but they've hidden themselves so deeply. It doesn't seem to make much sense why though."
"Maybe they're planning on taking the sect head position away from Headmaster Patia-Neva. I've heard a lot of elders are displeased with him. He shows up even less frequently that the other pillar family leaders although everyone knows it most likely has something to do with his missing wife, sympathy isn't something you'll find often…"
"shhh, don't speak too loudly. Come closer, there's another big piece of information I heard, but it's been being kept hush hush," after pausing to look around, the student continued, "I hear that Senior Sister Ava was one of the casualties in the Elv-"
A dense killing intent shook Dyon's concealment array. In a flash he disappeared, speeding towards Eli's room as fast as he could.
'I owe her. Although I wouldn't have actually died that day due to a life saving measure I had in place, it still stands that she stood up for me. Then she tried to help when she thought I'd be expelled. If I found out that even one hair on her head was hurt by this so-called Ragnor branch family, I'll destroy you all.'
*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
Venus opened the door with a confused look, but seeing that there was no one, she closed the door and looked back to her brother. Eli was lying on the bed pale and unmoving. The ragged breaths he took every so often was the only thing that let you believe he was alive.
Venus' eyes were red with tears and she stood next to Uncle Ail.
"Don't worry little Venus, your master will be here soon, I'm sure she has a way of helping. However, this little Ava girl is an odd case," he said looking back at Ava who laid on a table not too far away, "she should be dead… but my aurora is picking up faint signs of life."
Dyon's concealment array shattered as he fell on his knees by Eli's bed. Picking up his pale delicate hand.
Venus jumped, startled. Leaping backwards with well trained movement, thorned vines immediately wrapped around Dyon, but he didn't seem to feel any pain.
Venus was shaken, 'why is his body so strong….'
"Venus, wait!" Uncle Ail went up and touched Dyon's shoulder, then pinched himself, "D-Dyon… is that really you?"
Dyon smiled bitterly at Uncle Ail, "hey Uncle Ail, long time no see…"
Venus sighed in relief, but she was still apprehensive, 'he's strong.'
After Venus removed her vines, Uncle Ail clasped Dyon's shoulder hard, "good, good," he said partially choked up, "you of all people don't deserve to die so young."
Dyon patted his back, "come on now Uncle Ail, men shouldn't cry so much. I'm here now. So, let's save them."
"Save them? Is that possible?"
Uncle Ail could only shake his head looking at Dyon, 'this boy really tries too hard. He's clearly confident he can save them, but his eyes are still red with unshed tears… yet he says men shouldn't cry.'
Dyon looked back at the pale faced girl, gently pushing her red hair away from her face. She was currently covered in a blanket with her arms hanging out, but Dyon could tell she was naked. And he had a pretty good idea of why she would be, so although he looked incomparably calm, the boiling rage within him had lit to a new level.
"Her soul is damaged," accessing his master's memories, Dyon began to piece it together after using his aurora to check her body, "she used a technique to fake her death, but it clearly comes at a large price. She just needs a soul mending type pill."
Venus and Uncle Ail staggered. Being from a family that specialized in alchemy, they knew the value of such a pill. Even Kami had to pay the price of involving another family in their plans for glory to pay for a pill like that. And that was not to mention the fact that Mayumi's soul damage was significantly less than Ava's, so the pill would have been of a much more common value. Yet, it was still worth that much.
Venus smiled bitterly, "even our Viridi family can't afford to make a pill powerful enough to help mend that damage… I'm afraid we'll have to wait for another opportunity."
"You must be Eli's elder sister? He's mentioned you before. I'm glad I'm friends with a guy who has such a beautiful sister," Dyon said with a smile on his face.
Venus blushed. It wasn't as though she had never heard those words before, but, the purity in Dyon's eyes in combination with his earnestness gave him a charisma she couldn't ignore.
Uncle Ail noticed her reaction and chuckled, "you know little Venus, Dyon's the one Madeleine loves. You'll have quite a lot of competition."
"That's you?! We all thought you were dead!" Venus said with a gasp.
Dyon chuckled bitterly, "I kinda had no choice but to fake it. That aside, I should have a way to help them both. But, before I do that, I want to find out what happened to them," Dyon's face steeled
Since Dyon didn't have the skill of his master, it was hard for him to use the memory search technique. Any slight bit of resistance, even if it was unconscious, would cause damage to his soul. So, it was best if he did it was Ava was incapacitated.
Dyon trembled as he looked through Ava's memories. Tears fell from his eyes as he felt her pain at her best friend's betrayal, and anger rose in his heart as he watched the scene that occurred right afterwards.
Then he nearly lost it when he went through Eli's memories. His teeth crushed against each other as his jaw creaked under the strain. His muscles tensed and a dense killing intent filled the room, "Storm Family!"
Even Uncle Ail could barely breathe under the aura Dyon was releasing. It felt as though if they took a single step, their bodies would be slashed into nothingness.
'Is this really a guy that Oliver killed?... They're not even on the same level…' thought Venus, shivering.
After Dyon went through Ava's memories, he closed his eyes, trying to settle himself, "Baal. Tammy. The Storm family. Akihiko. Oliver. The Kami family. The Sapientia family. The Daiyu family. I'll crush you all!"
With a flash, ten medicinal pills appeared.
'these are… they're soul mending pills, but the potency.. it's not enough.' Thought Uncle Ail.
Dyon's eyes flashed with gold, tens of tiny arrays appeared around each pill. They floated into the air, being slowly broken apart into their original ingredients.
'this is… innate aurora... wait will of time? No, using arrays to perform alchemy? Wait, is it both?' Venus was shocked.
Uncle Ail trembled barely containing his excitement, 'this is what I meant! You can't reach higher levels of alchemy unless you understand arrays, and vice versa. Dyon is literally defying the heavens by combining weaker pills to form a stronger one. This… it's ridiculous.'
'what level is his will of time at? This will is so rare, I have no way to judge.'
This was why it took Dyon an entire half month to understand the pill condensation technique. Not only did it require his aurora flames to characterize a healing property, he needed to understand the will of time which was an incomparably abstract will, then he needed a thorough understand of the pills, so he spent days at a time meditating on pill theory and alchemy. In the end, it took more time than even gaining decent understanding of space, celestial, wind and sword wills.
Beads of sweat fell down Dyon's forehead as the pills finally fully separated.
Then, the massive array covered everything. The pills parts began to condense into a single form, a holy light shining down on it. Dyon didn't want heaven's chime to ring, but, he had no choice. If he didn't go all out, Ava might not wake up.
'heaven's chimes… he did it,' Venus was shocked.
Uncle Ail stood by Dyon, smiling brightly.
Delia looked up at the moon, hearing the chimes sound off, 'could it be him?' then she shook her head bitterly, 'with how many geniuses there are here for the big sect tournament, it could be any one of them. You'd think I would have stopped hoping by now. I should head to Sapientia peak so I can be ready to help Madeleine early tomorrow.'
Back in Eli's room, Dyon was slowly circulating the pill within Ava's body using his aurora flame.
An hour later, Ava slowly opened her eyes.
"Hmm, Dyon, what are you doing here," she said groggily, "Wait, what! Dyon?!"
Ava's eyes flashed in disbelief. Unable to control herself she flew up and hugged Dyon tightly.
As Dyon was enjoying the soft sensation, Uncle Ail had turned away blushing.
Venus coughed in teasing disdain, "you sure have a lot of women."
Ava, finally realizing she was naked screamed, "AH! You pervert!" She hid her body under the blanket and cuddled in the corner, her scarlet red face matching her hair.
Dyon grinned, "you left too soon, I was enjoying that."
"hmph, wait until I tell Madeleine. She'll set you right... Wait, you know she's getting married soon right? What day is it!"
Dyon's face distorted, "married?"
Uncle Ail smiled bitterly, "I didn't get a chance to tell you because of the situation, but, Madeleine is getting married tomorrow as the opening ceremony for the big sect tournament."
"Big sect tournament? Seems like I'll be able to do two things I want in a day. Save Madeleine and gain access to the world they'll be opening soon."
"It'll be hard this time brother Dyon, the seeded geniuses like my sister are participating, and the Storm family has a whole bunch of new members all of a sudden."
Hearing the Storm family be brought up, Ava shivered. Her eyes brimmed with tears she refused to let fall.
Dyon, noticing this gently touched her knee, "you don't need to say anything Ava, I know what happened. I'll make sure that you can kill him with your own hands. I promise," although he said nothing to Venus, she could see his meaning in his eyes. Her eyes brimmed with tears as she looked towards Eli's shivering body.
Ava looked up in surprise, but seeing the resolute look on Dyon's face, she finally couldn't stop the tears anymore, "mm" she nodded firmly.
"Alright, your situation was the most dire, but I need to save Eli now…"
Dyon walked to the bed, lightly touching Eli's chest and allowing his aurora flames to circulate
'his spine is broken…' Dyon trembled in anger but fought to maintain his focus.
His flames focused on their healing character, slowly and delicately mending his severed nerves and sheered bones. Although he could use a medicinal pill to do this much quicker, Dyon had learned that medicinal pills were akin to a common cold medicine. A one fix for all. Although it would work, lower level pills would be too general to really help much of anything, which is why higher level pills were usually much more specific. However, higher level pills would most likely still be too general. Often, medicine alchemy specialists create new pill formulae on a case by case basis. At least, that's what the top tier professionals would do.
This was not to say that medicinal pills were moot, as they were very useful as a quick fix in battle, for example, but, Dyon preferred to be diligent with a friend he cared for as much as Eli. Although they had only know each other for a few months, Eli's awkward nature and kind soul had touched Dyon. When he had first saved Eli, it was due to the fact that he noticed that although Eli was scared, he hadn't knelt to Darius. Then, even while having that will, he knelt without reservation when he thought it could help Dyon. This was a friend one wouldn't meet often. As much as Eli idolized Dyon for willingly hurting himself for him, Dyon placed Eli on the same pedestal.
Ava, Venus and Uncle Ail watched anxiously off to the side. Holding their breaths in delight when they noticed the color returning to Eli's face.
Eli's eyes slowly opened as he groaned, "Dyon?..." Eli sighed, "I guess I did die then… I hope big sister Venus doesn't blame herself… what kind of brother can't protect his own sister…"
Venus flew into Eli's arms, sobbing, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
Eli's eyes were still out of focus, but when he heard Venus' voice, he trembled, "Venus?... Did you die too?..." Eli's fists clenched in anger, his eyes tearing up, "I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…"
Eli held onto his sister tightly while Dyon smiled off to the side, "you idiot, how could you be dead with me here," Dyon's grin got wider as Uncle Ail's eyes reddened.
Ava smiled a sad smile off to the side, thinking about her brother and her supposed best friend. She had known for a long time that Tammy had loved her elder brother… but, she now knew that clearly relationships like that didn't run too deeply for Tammy. She might delude herself into thinking she had no other choice… but when you truly love and care for someone, would something as ridiculous as what you can and can't do even matter?
Ava was disgusted with the martial world, its principles and its doctrines. She wanted nothing more than to love with all her heart and protect those she wanted to protect. But, it seemed like no one else cared for things like that.
However, when she saw Venus and Eli crying in each other's arm, each having been hurt in their own way trying to protect the other, Ava smiled, 'maybe there's hope after all…'
With everyone healthy, Dyon took a deep breath and steadied his mind… 'tomorrow, I'll start with the Sapientia and Kami family… when the time is right, I'll make the Storm family witness something worse than death!'
Early the next morning, the center pillar roof was bustling with people. Focus Lake was filled with silver boats and the tunnels were flooded with people making there way to the grand event, unbothered by the dense cold and falling snow.
Pillar family leader Kami walked respectfully behind a middle-aged man. Even the crowds of hundreds of thousands seemed to know to part ways for him.
"Right this way big sect elder Kami, the rest of the big sect representatives are in the VIP area. It's quite funny really, usually only 1 was enough to represent all of the sects, but today they've all come because the seeded geniuses have decided to participate."
"Ai, it seems as though your son's soon to be wife has quite a number of suitors. He's brought pride to the Kami God clan. Although we are mere branches, if he continues to work hard and improve we believe he can one day reach that peak. I hope he doesn't let down the intentions of our branch."
Kami nodded obediently, "of course, of course. He's prepared to work very hard, in fact, he's broken through to the 9th layer of the foundation stage now that his god level blood is slowly awakening more and more."
"Not bad, not bad. A 16-year-old peak foundation stage expert. He can lift his head high in many places."
The two Kami family members reached a box lookout. It was the highest point in Focus Academy and it looked down on a massive stadium. Today, the clouds were so thick that the bottom of the center pillar was cut off from the view of the top. A sea of fluffy white made it seem like the roof was floating on clouds which was emphasized by the slowly falling snow.
"Ah, big sect elder Kami, you're quite fashionably late. If you were part of the main Kami branch, I'd understand, but don't you think it's a bit disrespectful in this context?" A fat robust man spoke as soon as he noticed elder Kami enter the box lookout.
Knowing he had no place there, Kami bowed and immediately left.
"Nice to see you too Orbis. Is your seeded disciple still as lazy as always?" elder Kami asked with a faint smile.
Orbis was about to respond when a feminine voice cut it, "No use in arguing. Although we're not sure why you're so cocky these days, it remains that we're the representatives of the big sects, squabbling amongst ourselves doesn't set a good example for the young. My wind blade sect won't stand for it."
The three other elders could only shake their heads witnessing a scene that had seen all too often.
Saying nothing else, the six elders took their seats. Earth-Bound, Wind Blade, Destruction, Green Blade, Fire Sword, and Infinite Arts sects were all there. It was about time for the wedding ceremony to begin. To Kami, this was of course the most important. However, the other sect leaders were eager to watch whose geniuses bested whose. It was the reason they came in the first place. The idea of recruiting disciples, what should have been the true purpose on their minds, was actually the furthest thing from their thoughts.
Slowly, the crowd began to settle into their seats. No one noticed a young man sitting amongst the clouds, even higher than the box lookout, staring at the scene with an incomparably calm gaze while he stoked his burning fury.
In a dressing room, a girl dressed in all black was being groomed by an olive-skinned girl and a fair skinned girl.
A knock came at the door, startling them all from their daze.
Akihiko walked in with a smile, but it immediately turned ugly as he noticed the color of Madeleine's dress.
"Meiying, Delia, leave us for a moment," said Akihiko is a stern voice.
They looked towards Madeleine, but they only saw a gentle smile, "you guys can go, I'm ready anyway. I'll have to deal with him eventually."
Madeleine's voice was shaky. It was clear that her trembling was much worse today. She was trying very hard to control what she was feeling, but it was becoming increasingly difficult.
The two girls walked out and Akihiko slowly walked to the door and locked it.
"Are you wearing black for him?" Akihiko said faintly.
"You already know the answer, so why do you bother asking?"
Madeleine tumbled across the room, her face stinging. But, she made no sounds as she slowly got up and wiped the blood from her lips. There was no point in resisting, she had no access to her cultivation at the moment. All she felt was incomparable lust, but she focused her mind by directing it towards Dyon, not wanting Akihiko to have the satisfaction. She didn't know how long she could control herself, but she knew that she would hold on for as long as she could.
"To attend my wedding with a cut lip and a bruised face, how scandalous. You think I'll bother to properly cover this us? We'll let people see you for who you truly are."
Akihiko shook in anger, before grabbing Madeleine's chin and thrusting her against a wall. He forced open her mouth and shoved a medicinal pill into it. Not allowing her to breathe until she swallowed it.
After Akihiko felt that the pill had worked well enough, his gaze of anger turned to lust. He groped Madeleine's chest and legs, caressing her lips with his thumb.
Madeleine clenched her jaw, but, her vision was going red.
Akihiko chuckled, "I don't know why you bother to fight it. Tonight, I'll take your everything. Your first kiss. Your virginity. Your will. In fact, considering the beast you'll be tonight, you might want to try things I've never even thought of before.
You can have your little rebellion for now, it'll be over soon anyway."
Madeleine slumped to the floor, refusing to cry as Akihiko walked away.
After the door opened, Meiying and Delia stared coldly as Akihiko before rushing inside.
"Big sister!" they cried together
Madeleine smiled, "I'm okay, I just got flushed thinking about the harem I'll have in a few years," she said jokingly.
Delia and Meiying smiled bitterly, but they were helpless to do anything.
Akihiko walked towards the ceremonial set up to prepare.
'you must be thinking that after you're cured you'll be able to beat me down? Maybe even kill me and marry another man later? I'm sorry to disappoint you. But, tonight, you really will lose everything. Including all of your cultivation and potential. Then, I'll use that to rule the second day of the tournament and make sure the big sects know that it wasn't just my talent that earned me a seeded spot, it's my strength too.'
A cold smile appeared on Akihiko's face, oblivious to the disaster he had brought upon himself.
I hate when authors spend forever on training arcs. We get it, he swung his sword a million times and got better. So, I preferred a condensed version. You can let me know if you all prefer a longer training arc for the future, I don't mind too much... it would make it easier to explain the nuances of cultivation in this world - but I have a feeling a lot of you might prefer it this way. Before this, some set up was necessary to make sure the mystery and build up was set in place, but if it takes too long, sometimes people forget why they should hate Baal or Akihiko, for example, haha
Anyhoo! Lemme know what you think. I got some good constructive criticism yesterday, and it let me know that maybe some of the things I'm trying to theme out, per se, may not be as obvious to you guys as it is to me. I don't mind reading comments that criticise my work since I'm well aware that this is the first novel I've ever worked on, so feel free!
Follow me on twitter @Awespec if you want to interact, or you can just comment!