Paragon of Destruction - Chapter 244

Published at 12th of August 2019 08:25:48 PM

Chapter 244

When Arran returned to the mansion, he found Brightblade already waiting for him in the gardens .

Contrary to what the Matriarch had predicted, she did not seem the least bit impatient to leave . This, Arran attributed to the opulent meal sitting on the table in front of her .

Though he had yet to meet his cooks, he once more decided that they were worth their weight in Essence Crystals .

Brightblade greeted him with a cheerful wave . "I heard your first month went well," she said, expertly cutting the meat from a roast chicken as she spoke .

"Well enough," Arran replied . "Though I don't know how much longer I can keep this up . I've barely slept a wink over the past few weeks . "

"It'll get better," Brightblade said . "Now that you've shown your commitment, she'll ease up a bit . "

"Then this first month was just a test?" Arran asked . If that was the case, it had been a thorough test indeed .

"Not just a test . " Brightblade paused to take a bite of food, then continued, "She also wanted to improve your foundation before having you learn more useful skills . "

"And that's done now?" Arran asked hopefully .

"In a month?" Brightblade scowled . "Don't be ridiculous . Building a proper foundation will take you the rest of the year, if not longer . But starting next week, Rhea should begin teaching you things you can actually use . "

Arran felt some excitement at those last words . While his studies over the past month had increased his understanding of magic and how to learn it, the spells and seals he had studied were decidedly useless .

He had learned at least two dozen different spells to light a campfire — something that could easily be achieved using only raw Fire Essence . And those spells were among the more practical ones . Many others had no purpose at all, serving only to illustrate various methods of weaving Essence .

Still, even if Arran was eager to learn more magic, he was glad that the week ahead would offer a change of pace . Having spent the past month engrossed in learning magic, he was anxious for a break .

"What are your plans for the coming week?" he asked, curious to hear what Brightblade had in mind for him .

"We'll discuss that when we arrive at the estate," she replied . "Now pack your things and get ready . We're leaving in a quarter-hour . " She glanced at the food in front of her . "Maybe half an hour . "

It took Arran only a few minutes to make preparations . With everything he owned already stored in his void ring, all he had to do was instruct Jovan to send out messengers to his teachers, informing them that he would be gone for the week .

The man looked somewhat dejected when he realized there would be no training for the servants that week, but he did not complain .

"I'll try and make sure the mansion doesn't burn down while you're gone," he said with a grin . Yet a moment later, his expression turned serious . "Get some rest this week . You need it . "

Despite the man's rough exterior, it seemed he had a caring side as well .

Arran promised he would take the advice — he certainly intended to get all the rest he could — and after he said his goodbyes, he returned to Brightblade .

Although he was ready to go, she took another half hour to finish her meal, unwilling to leave even the slightest scrap behind . Only when everything was gone did she announce that they would leave .

The journey to the estate was long, taking nearly half a day even though they ran at full speed . Neither of them spoke much along the way, and when they spoke, it was of trivial things .

Arran could tell that there were matters Brightblade wanted to discuss, but it was equally obvious that she would only do so when she was certain nobody could overhear them . And so, his curiosity would have to wait until they were at the estate .

They arrived early in the evening, and Arran once more found himself impressed with how well the estate was hidden . Even knowing the path, he would not have discovered it easily .

As they walked into the small green valley, Arran glanced at Brightblade . "So what is it you wanted to tell me?"

"I've been doing some reading," she replied, a glint in her eyes . "About Destruction Realms . "

As soon as the words left her lips, Arran stopped in his tracks . In an anxious tone, he asked, "Did you find anything?"

Years had passed since he first learned he had a forbidden Realm, but he still knew frustratingly little about what it actually did . He had learned that it was a Destruction Realm and that it could help him train his resistance to magic, but other than that, the Realm's powers remained a mystery to him .

"The main thing I discovered is that surprisingly little is known about Destruction Realms," Brightblade said . "Although they appear within the Society every once in a while, there are no records of Destruction Essence being used in any spells . Their primary use, as far as I can tell, is to strengthen one's body against magic . "

Arran let out a disappointed sigh . "You didn't find anything?"

"That's not what I said," she replied, a small smile appearing on her lips as she spoke . Then, she reached down and picked up a head-sized rock from the ground, which she tossed to Arran .

Arran caught the rock and looked at it, but neither his eyes nor his Sense revealed anything special about it . As far as he could tell, it was just a random rock . "Am I supposed to do something with this?"

"Sit down, then channel Destruction Essence into it," Brightblade said . "You'll see what happens soon enough . "

He did as she said, though he had to unseal his Destruction Realm first . Then, as Destruction Essence began to trickle into his body, he focused his will and directed it toward the rock .

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Controlling the Destruction Essence was difficult . So far, he had not yet succeeded in even expelling it from his body, though he had never tried to channel it directly into an object . In his previous attempts, he had tried to use it like Fire Essence, trying — and failing — to control it as he expelled it from his body .

Channeling it directly into an object proved a simpler task, however .

All it required was for him to guide the Essence to his hands and into the rock . And while doing so with Destruction Essence was still harder than casting complex spells with other types, it was something that he could handle .

It took a quarter-hour before he succeeded in guiding a thin stream of Destruction Essence into the rock, but to his disappointment, there was no immediate effect .

"Keep at it," Brightblade said when she saw his disappointed expression .

Arran continued to guide Destruction Essence into the rock, a stream so thin it could barely be Sensed . Half an hour passed without anything happening, and although if Brightblade had told Arran to keep going, he began to lose hope that his efforts would achieve anything .

But then, in an instant, the rock began to crumble . A second later it broke into pieces, then collapsed into a cloud of thin dust that was carried away by the wind .

Though it was a result, Arran found himself unimpressed . He could achieve the same thing with his hands, and in a single breath rather than half an hour .

Moreover, in a fight, he couldn't see this being of any use — not unless he faced an unusually patient enemy .

"That's it?" he asked, unable to fully keep the disappointment from his face .

"That's it," Brightblade confirmed . "But its power is greater than you realize . The effect is slow, but no material can withstand it . Given time, Destruction Essence eventually wears anything down . That's why there are no Realm Scrolls for it — imbuing a scroll or amulet with Destruction Essence will destroy it, no matter the material . "

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Arran frowned . "My body can withstand it . "

"Indeed," Brightblade said . "Which has some interesting implications . The reason for that might be that it is a part of you, or perhaps your body has merely grown accustomed to it . " She shrugged . "Or maybe you can't withstand it after all . Maybe your body will meet the same fate as that rock and eventually collapse into dust . "

"Has that happened to anyone?" Arran looked at Brightblade uneasily, unsure whether she was joking .

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"Not that I know of," she replied . "But as I said earlier, surprisingly little is known about Destruction Realms . In the records, no mages with a Destruction Realm were long-lived, but their deaths were all violent ones — a common fate for Ninth Valley mages during the wars . "

After a moment's thought, Arran shrugged . "I suppose I'll find out . "

Even if her words were hardly reassuring, there was no point in worrying about things he had no answer to . And either way, his best choice was to continue on his current path — whatever threats or obstacles he faced, strength and knowledge could only help in defeating them .

"That you will," Brightblade said . "But enough about that . My other reason for bringing you here was to aid your training . We will start with a review of your studies so far . "

"A review?" Arran asked, hoping that she meant something different from what he suspected .

Brightblade gave a sharp nod in response . "Despite what Rhea might believe, you are my apprentice first and foremost . Thus, it is on me to ensure that you are learning properly . Now, show me what she has taught you so far . "

"Everything?" Arran's face fell at the prospect, and he could not help but suspect that Brightblade's motivations weren't anywhere near as noble as she claimed . Rather, he vaguely suspected that she was unwilling to be outdone by the Matriarch .

"Everything," Brightblade confirmed .