Chapter 5 - LOT
Jack flopped around on the floor for a few moments as he clutched at his head, his mind ringing from both the flash of light that blinded him, and the heavy feeling that had slammed into his mind just a second ago.
A few moments passed as Jack wheezed in pain, his head splitting.
Gradually, the sight in his twice now blinded eyes began to return, tears dripping down his face as he winced.
“Arrgh…” He grumbled, clutching at his head. On the ground in front of him, the golden sword began to glow lightly. As it did, Jack felt the world around him distort.
Abruptly, Jack was in a different place.
He looked down at the ground in astonishment, seeing an enormous pulsing circle of light beneath him. All around him silver fog spread out, moving in slow, drifting waves. He blinked as he scanned the environment, trying to make sense of this.
“So you are my inheritor, huh? Bit small.”
Jack spun around, hearing a voice speak. He looked in surprise at the figure of a man sitting with his legs crossed, floating in the air. He was leaning on his right knee, with his right arm propping up his chin as he looked at Jack neutrally. The man wore a dark red shirt and a darker red set of pants, with a fine pair of also red riding boots. A long, golden sword was strapped to his waist, identical to the one Jack had just grabbed.
The man had a piercing gaze despite his neutral look, with a small nose and strong jawline creating a powerful visage. His golden eyes stared at Jack cooly, looking him up and down, as the man’s long red hair waved slowly in the strange fog.
“Wh- who are you? Where am I?”
The man paused, a look of surprise appearing in his eyes.
“What do you mean, inheritor? You unsealed my blade, Wyrmblight, did you not?”
The figure tapped at the sword on his waist.
Jack recognized the blade and nodded.
“Well then, you are my inheritor. Did the current generation of Torches teach you nothing?”
Jack stared for a moment and then responded,
“Torches? What torches? There is no fire here.”
The red haired man’s eyes bulged for a moment,
“What?! What do you mean no torches here?! I’m talking about THE Torches! The Grand Torches, your elders!”
“Nope sorry, can’t say it rings a bell.” Jack shrugged. For some reason, despite the menacing look and tone of the man before him, Jack didn’t feel any sense of danger.
“Now, would you mind telling me what this is? Why am I floating? Where am I?” Jack scanned the place around him, nothing it seemed unchanged. He looked down at his hand, waving it slightly in the dim fog.
“My goodness what has happened to the world… Has the Clan fallen? Inheritor, where did you find my legacy? Are you even a member of the Golden Flame Clan?”
“I really don’t appreciate how you aren’t answering my questions, but it’s fine, I’m a nice guy.” Jack grumbled, staring at the man in disapproval. It was rude to only ask questions and not answer any. If this had been somewhere in the real world, Jack would have never been so dismissive to someone so much clearly stronger than him. However, in this strange fog world, Jack couldn’t muster up any sense of danger or fear, even when faced with the powerful warrior before him.
“The Golden Flame Clan still exists, somewhere. I think way to the south. I know they’re currently at war with the Magma Clan, or something like that. That’s what the merchants say, anyway. As for your sword: I found it in a cave in a box, abandoned. And no, I’m not a member of the Golden Flame Clan.” Jack shook his head as he finished speaking.
The red haired man took in what Jack said calmly, a troubled look appearing on his face. He sat like that for several moments before sighing, the red mane of hair on his head shaking.
“Aiee, truly the clan must have fallen a great deal for even my inheritance to have been lost…”
“Nevertheless, fated inheritor, while you may not be a member of the Golden Flame Clan, Wyrmblight has accepted you as his master, and you shall receive my inheritance.”
“This shall be the last you see of my living spirit, untill you reach the state of One Sword, One Man. Remember my name. I am Dobraine Forsworn, the Sundering Monarch. You have now become this old man’s last disciple.”
“Bear my name well.”
“Wait you still haven’t told me whe-“ Before Jack could finishing speaking, however, the world around him distorted again. The fog around Jack suddenly dispersed, spreading away from Jack’s floating form in fear.
The figure in red had vanished. Jack looked around in confusion, trying to understand what was happening.
Suddenly, he spun around, looking off into the distance of this enormous fogscape. At the very edge of his vision, Jack could see a faint distortion in the air gradually growing large. It was like a long line, slowly parting the fog that he could just barely see after it retreated.
Abruptly, Jack’s face grew pale as he realized the distortion wasn’t faint at all. It was actually massive, just the distance from it to him was incredibly far. His depth perception wasn’t too good in this enormous fogscape.
The distortion grew larger and larger, splitting apart the fog like a knife cutting through butter. As it grew closer Jack realize it was an enormous, massive blade of golden energy, cutting directly towards Jack.
By the time he realized what it was, the blade of sword energy had already slammed into him, and Jack vanished, disappearing from the fogscape, the small flickering spirit circle untouched by the enormous blade of energy.
Jack clutched at his head as he came to, blinking his eyes several times to clear them. He groaned, feeling a sullen ache run through his mind. As he took a few breaths, thinking through the pain, he abruptly found several pieces of knowledge in his head that he had never seen or heard before.
“The Sundering Sword Style - The Arts of the Sundering Monarch.”
“Inheritor, if you are seeing this, you will have successfully bonded with Wyrmblight, my trusty blade, and received a full inheritance. Imbued in your mind through Wyrmblight now are the four steps to becoming a Swordmaster.”
“Should you reach the fourth step, entering the state of One Sword, One Man, you will be able to sense my living remnant spirit, and receive the rest of my inheritance, my life’s work and experience in becoming a Grandmaster.”
“The First Stage of the Sundering Sword Style: Sunder the Earth.”
Jack scanned through the information like he was reading a book in his head, becoming more and more amazed. The depth and level of sword technique was incredible, and the concepts Jack was presented with answered so many of the questions he had based on his own extremely rudimentary understanding of swordmanship.
Only the first stage of the sword art was present in Jack’s mind, however. As he thought about the second, he realized that he would have the information unlocked in his mind automatically as long as he achieved the first stage, a safeguard left behind by the Sundering Monarch.
“So I’m supposed to do this… So this is how I apply my Spirit to my sword… So this is how this works.”
Jack spent a good ten minutes just sitting on the floor, going over the information in his mind. The connections he began to make were considerable, building on the foundation of basic techniques Jack had practiced for years.
The First Stage of the Sundering Sword Style: Sunder the Earth.
According to the memories in Jack’s head, this technique revolved around the sword user fully mastering and being able to use the energy of his Spirit. He would then imbue his sword with his Spirit, giving it a blue edge.
Then, he would begin to condense the energy of his Spirit in a pattern that folded back and forth repeatedly, for a total of thirteen times, transforming the color of the energy coating his blade from blue to dark green. Being able to fold his Spirit energy thirteen times indicated a mastery of the First Stage of the Sundering Sword Style.
The manual in his head didn’t give any indication on how strong these attacks were, but just by going over the information Jack already believed it would be unbelievably powerful.
However, as he was right now, he couldn’t even practice the first fold, let alone even imbuing his sword with his Spirit. He had barely reached the Bearing Light Stage, the most basic level of one’s Spirit. He had never even practiced manipulating Spirit energy, the Spirit Circle in his soul something he made only very recently.
Still, this didn’t get Jack down as he jumped up from the floor, grabbing the golden sword and tucking it into his waist. He grinned as he looked over at the stone chest. The large number of Spirit Crystals, as well as the odd pulsing red crystal, brightened his mood even more.
“Oh? What do we have he- ARE THOSE TOP QUALITY SPIRIT CRYSTALS?!” A rude voice barged into Jack’s musings, interrupting his happiness. Jack spun around to face the door, his hand lowering to grasp his regular iron blade out of habit.
As he saw who was at the entrance, however, Jack’s eyes opened wide in shock and horror.
The second son of the Snowbank Lord, Lord Jacob, was currently standing in the archway of the room, staring at the chest in the middle of the room, his eyes bulging with greed.
“What? Move aside!” Before the City Lord’s son could do anything, however, another figure barged in, knocking him aside. Jack recognized the outfit he wore, the royal color of the Duke of Snow, the ruler of this duchy. The young man looked a couple years older than Jack, and had long brown hair and pointed features.
The two figures ignored Jack as they both looked at the contents of the chest. When the young man bearing the Duke of Snow’s colors saw the pulsing red crystal, his eyes opened wide in complete and total shock.
“Oh my God! A Bloodline Origin Crystal! Hahahaha Jacob, it seems being banished to the north by my father was truly a blessing in disguise, hahahaha! By the looks of it I’ve found a lost treasure room of some sort! Excellent!”
Jack stepped off to the side of the room, trying to make himself as small as possible. As he did so, he activated his Slowed State, looking at the world in 1/3rd it’s speed as his mind raced ahead of him.
He recognized Lord Jacob. He also happened to know that the Snowbank City Lord’s second son had recently ranked up to Rank C in the Hunter Association. That meant he had the strength to defeat a Spiritual Beast entirely on his own.
While Jack didn’t recognize the other man, from the subservient attitude Lord Jacob had to him, Jack knew he was someone even more important, and probably stronger. A huge headache had just landed in his lap here, and Jack was desperately trying to figure out a way to solve it.
Before he could take any action, however, Jack noticed something, and then hid a smile, watching the movements of the two young warriors before him.
“Following this peasant to this fated gift, ah, I wonder what the other two peasants that died earlier could have led me to. Perhaps I should have spared them longer. Alas.” The brown haired figure walked up confidently to the chest, reaching out to grab one of the Spirit Crystals.
The brown haired warrior froze, staring down at his chest in shock.
A large, steel blade pierced through the front of his robe in the center of his chest, staining the garments he wore with a red color as blood began to flow. Abruptly the blade was withdrawn, leaving the young man to stumble to the side, gasping in the air and turning around.
“you… you… you TRAITOR!” The skin of the brown haired warrior changed to a cold blue as he fell against the side of the treasure room opposite Jack, a small gaping hole in his chest. Icy particles began to circulate around his hands, shivering in the air.
The Snowbank City Lord’s son smiled grimly, the air around him turning frigidly cold.
“It is as you said. This is a fated gift, milord. Just not fated for you. Do you think I would be your servant forever? With these Spirit Crystals and that Bloodline Origin Crystal, I will be able to rapidly grow stronger, jumping through the ranks of the Hunter Association. There will be no more days where I work like a dog for the likes of you and your father. This is your end.” As he spoke, his voice grew louder and more passionate, gaining a righteous edge.
“Hahaha hahaHAHA HAHAHAHA! You think this is the end?!” The wounded brown haired man’s skin had turned completely blue now, and he wielded two enormous blades of ice in each hand. A powerful aura emanated from the warrior as he stepped forward shakily, his eyes glaring daggers at the Snowbank City Lord’s son.
“Hmph. Your Snow Bloodline may be powerful, with the potential to reach the Formless level, but my Icy Wind Bloodline is not weak either. What can you do with a hole already in your chest?! I am a Rank C Hunter, let us see just how strong the Duke of Snow’s legacy truly is ahahaha!”
Meanwhile, Jack stood frozen completely still in the corner. The temperature in the room had dropped terribly, a freezing air starting to seep into his core. Jack refused to move, however, knowing that drawing attention to himself could quickly lead to his death. Right now, all he could do was observe.
His heart began to pound at a furious rate as he watched the two fighters collide, desperately trying to think of a way out of this situation.
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Bio: I go by the pen name Wiz! I love all sorts of fantasy novels. From Robert Jordan to Brandon Sanderson, from R. A. Salvatore to Steven Erikson, I have read a plethora of works, and have been inspired to write my own. I one day hope to fulfill my dream, and become a critically acclaimed author who opens up entire worlds of imagination for others to enjoy. Have a nice day :)