Paragon of Destruction - Chapter 104

Published at 12th of August 2019 08:28:16 PM

Chapter 104

"I can learn how to create them?" Arran scratched his chin, already thinking of the possibilities . If he could create Essence Crystals himself, it was as good as having an unlimited supply of them .

"You can create Essence Crystals by purifying Essence," Snowcloud said . "It's not particularly difficult work, but it's extremely slow . "

Arran let out a sigh at this . He had known there would be a catch, but some part of him had still hoped against hope that things would be simple, just this once . But then, if becoming a powerful mage was simple, there would probably be more of them .

"When can I start learning it?" he asked . If it was going to be slow work, he'd best start as soon as he could .

"Now," Snowcloud said, then handed Arran a scroll . "This explains the process for purifying Essence . Study it well, and then you can start practicing . "

Arran worked his way through the scroll eagerly and found that the process seemed simple enough . All he had to do was draw out a small amount of Essence, then gradually separate it into its constituent parts and discard all the unneeded bits .

Yet although the idea was simple, when he actually tried it, it proved to be all but impossible . For several hours he struggled, but he didn't make the least bit of progress .

"It's not working," he said eventually, discouraged by his failure to even identify the different parts of the Essence, much less separate them .

Snowcloud gave him a thoughtful look . "Do you have any other Realms besides Fire and Wind?" she asked .

"I also have Shadow and Force Realms," Arran said, almost surprised that she hadn't sensed this already .

"Four Realms?" Snowcloud let out a deep sigh . "Then this will be far more difficult than I expected . The more Realms you have, the harder it is to draw out a single type of Essence without traces of the others . With three Realms, it would have been difficult . With four… it could take you months to succeed . "

"What if I seal my other Realms?" Arran asked .

"Seal them?" Snowcloud raised an eyebrow . "You have a way to seal your Realms?"

"I have a technique to create seals using Shadow Essence," Arran said . "If I seal all my Realms except for Shadow, would that help?"

Snowcloud looked at him in shock . "You know how to use Shadow seals?!"

"My old teacher taught me how to use them," Arran said hesitantly, taken aback by Snowcloud's reaction .

"Your teacher?" Snowcloud looked at Arran intently . "Who was he? And where did you meet him?"

"He was a former Academy mage…"

Arran relayed the story of how he had met Master Zhao and fled the Academy, albeit with a few changes . Although he told her most of it, he left out that he had a forbidden Realm, instead inventing a story about having an unusually strong Fire Realm .

Snowcloud didn't seem particularly interested in Arran's part of the story, however . All her attention was on what he told her about Master Zhao, and to that, she listened to with great interest .

By the time Arran finished talking, Snowcloud was looking at him with what looked like a mixture of awe and disbelief .

"That Master Zhao of yours," she said in an excited voice . "He's a Shadowflame mage . "

"What?" Arran gave her a puzzled look . "A Shadowflame mage? Master Zhao?"

"The Shadow seals… that's a secret Shadowflame technique," she said . "And wasn't he strong in Fire and Shadow? Plus, the disguises… I know that some of the more powerful Elders are able to do that . And it explains how he taught you that Body Refinement technique . "

Arran nodded silently . Although Master Zhao had not taught him the Body Refinement technique, everything else about it made sense . And, he thought, it would also explain why Master Zhao had sent him from the eastern part of the Empire to the Shadowflame Society, which lay at the western border .

"You can't tell anyone else about him," Snowcloud said, her tone serious . "If my suspicions are correct, he infiltrated the Academy, and after he left you, he may have returned . I wouldn't be surprised if there are Academy spies in the Society, and if any of them found out…"

"I'll keep my mouth shut," Arran said .

"You must," she replied . A musing smile on her face, she muttered, "A Shadowflame mage in the Academy…" It was clear that the thought excited her .

"But those Shadow seals…" Arran began . "Can they help me now?"

Even if the thought of Master Zhao being a Shadowflame mage was interesting, right now, Arran was more concerned with learning to purify Essence . What he needed was to grow stronger, and quickly .

"Help you?" Snowcloud looked puzzled for a moment . "Oh! To purify Essence!" She gave it some thought, then nodded . "It should work . I don't know exactly how Shadow seals work, but if they cut off your other Realms and their Essence, it should be as if you only had the Shadow Realm . "

Arran quickly put it to the test, sealing his Fire, Wind, and Force Realms . After that, he expelled the lingering Essence within him with some devastating attacks on the local plant life, until only Shadow Essence remained within him .

Then, he set to work, once more trying to purify Essence .

This time, his progress was far better than it had been earlier . Although it took great effort to sense all the impurities within the Essence, and even more to expel them, the absence of any traces of Essence other than Shadow made the work much easier .

Yet as he progressed and the Shadow Essence in his hand steadily grew purer, the amount decreased at just as steady a pace . When, after several hours of work, he had purified the Essence as much as he could, barely any of it remained .

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He looked at the Essence Crystal in his hand with an ugly look on his face . He would have sighed, too, but it was so small that he feared even a sigh could blow it away .

The Essence Crystal he had formed was barely as large as a grain of sand, and rather than the clear color of the Essence Crystal that Snowcloud had given him, it looked dark and cloudy — though with how small it was, it was difficult to tell exactly .

"Very good," Snowcloud said in an encouraging voice . "That's much better than most people manage on their first try . "

"So can I use it?" Arran asked .

"You can try, but it won't do you much good," she replied . "With that little Purified Essence — and badly purified, at that — it will become contaminated with Shadow Essence the moment it enters your body . "

"So what do I do with it?" Arran asked .

"You add more Essence to it," Snowcloud said . "A few hours of work every day, and you can grow it large enough to use in a month or so . "

"A month?!" Arran did not know whether to feel more shocked or disappointed . If it took a month to make an Essence Crystal, it would be years before he gained anything useful .

"It won't be as strong as the one you used yesterday, of course," she continued . "It's not pure enough for that . But as you practice, you will slowly become better at it . "

"Just how long will it take before I can make something like the one you gave me?" Arran asked .

"Years," she replied instantly .

Reaching for her void bag, she took out an Essence Crystal and held it up . Rather than the clear color of the one Arran had used the day before, this one was opaque and filled with dull orange clouds .

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"That took me a week of work," she said . "And it's still many times weaker than what I gave you yesterday . "

"Then who made that one?" Arran asked .

"The Master I bought it from," Snowcloud replied .

"You can buy them?" Immediately, Arran's eyes went wide with excitement . If there was one thing he had in abundance, it was treasure .

"They're sold in the Valley," Snowcloud said . "But just the one I gave you was worth as much as a small village . "

"That much?" As Arran thought it over, he realized that if Essence Crystals were that expensive, even his fortune would not last long . "Then why did you give it to me?"

"I have a few more," she answered . "And the control you gained from that one should make it easier to create your own, if only slightly . "

"Thank you," Arran said, now realizing he had unknowingly received a treasure . "Are there any other ways to get them?"

"You can take them from others," Snowcloud said . "Here across the border, many novices fall, while others defect . If we kill defectors or defeat those who took Essence Crystals from fallen novices, we can take whatever they have . "

Arran nodded thoughtfully . "Wouldn't it be better to focus on that, then?"

He had little interest in spending months slowly purifying Essence if there were other paths available . Just the few hours he had spent today had been excruciatingly dull, and if he could take Essence Crystals by force, that seemed like a far better option .

"We'll do both," Snowcloud said . "But you will need to practice purifying Essence, not just because you will need it later, but also because you need to train your Sense . "

"My Sense?" Arran asked, unsure of what she was talking about .

"Right now, you're blind as a bat when it comes to magic," she said . "The next step in your training is to fix that . Purifying Essence is one part of it, but soon, we will start other parts — ones that aren't quite as dull . "