“Well…Now that you have experienced Arcana Discipline for yourself, it’s time that you try it out,” Bastille awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck as he gazed at his son who was sitting on a nearby crate.
“Yeah…” Clover mumbled, as he grabbed his spear and walked over to his father.
How embarrassing! First Maria had come outside and yelled at him for being a loud fool for scaring the hell out of everyone in the city, while Edward had to inform him of the total costs of replacing the windows, repairing nearby buildings, and for medical treatment for Seekers who were affected by the blast! Even Captain Strauss had rushed over with the city guard in case it was some sort of attack. But when he found out that it was Bastille, he was forced to impose a huge fine on the Guild for disturbing the peace!
“Ahem!” Bastille coughed awkwardly. “Too start off with, funnel your Arcana into your spear arm.”
“Okay.” Clover complied and began to feel the Arcana within him. Although he has played around with the Arcana within him multiple times, Clover had never really put it into action. The Arcana felt like a warm stream of water that circulated throughout his veins. He guided the warm current into his spear arm as he prepared to strike. Out of the corner of his eye, Clover noticed Bastille grinning as he stared at him.
“What? Am I doing something wrong?” Clover asked.
“No! In fact, your doing very well. Most people aren’t able to guide their Arcana to a specific body part on their first try!” Bastille complimented. “However, your innate skill most likely comes from your Elven lineage.”
“What do I do now?”
“Once you thrust your spear, release the Arcana that you had stored within your arm. Focus on the tip of the blade to more accurately guide the Arcana within the strike. Now, strike!” Bastille shouted as he commanded Clover.
“Hah!” Clover instinctively yelled out as he thrust his spear! His strike was true, as he aimed at the same spot in the sky his father had attacked. However, unlike his father, no supreme spectacle had occurred. There was no ear-sundering impact. No windows shattering. No sky-splitting blow. No Seekers dropping to their knees in pain. Besides the rustling of leaves from a nearby tree and the shouts of other Seekers, there was nothing but silence.
“Ouch!” Clover yelped in pain, as he dropped his spear. “Did I do something wrong? My arm is throbbing!”
“No, you did everything correctly. In fact, you did a bit better than most!” Bastille exclaimed.
Hmm…He did a more than a bit better. Most Seekers who are starting out would have fallen to the ground and cried in pain after their first try… Bastille thought as he gazed at his son in curiosity. If only I was able to investigate his past thoroughly…
“Then why does my arm hurt?” Clover mumbled as his eyes became misty.
“That is because your veins are not used to suddenly expelling large amounts of Arcana. Only through constant training and repetition will your veins become stronger and sturdier, allowing them to withstand sudden discharges of Arcana.” Bastille explained.
“Arcana Discipline is also a barrier that filters out regular Seekers from the truly talented. This is because one must be capable of the skill if they wish to rise into the Gold-rank.”
“Why is that?” Clover inquired as he massaged his arm.
“Well, as you should know. The Guild ranking system solely measures one’s Arcana capacity, not their combat skill or experience. The system itself is broken into the White, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Blue-ranks. As well as three smaller tiers within each rank that consist of the lower, middle, and upper tiers! In fact, the vast majority of Elves in the Aleesian Dynasty can be ranked around the middle Silver range! But unless they have any formal combat experience, they would still end up as food for a goblin or gnoll!” Bastille grinned. “However, the ranking system changes at the Gold-rank. Due to the severity and difficulty of the missions in this rank, the Guild will only allow those who have sufficient Arcana capacity and skill to take them. And the prerequisite skill to receiving a Gold compass medal is Arcana Discipline!”
“So that means Maya, Zen, and Michael can use it?”
“Of course! Those three are quite skilled for their age! The last time I checked, they were somewhere near the mid-Gold rank! I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to break into the Blue rank by their mid-twenties!” Bastille proudly said. “In fact, I would be incredibly disappointed if they didn’t! After all, I was the one who trained them when they were young initiates! Haha, my Guild sure has raised many fine young men and women!”
“Yep!” Clover nodded in agreement. “So are you at the Blue-rank, dad?”
“Haha…Not quite.” Bastille smiled.
“Not quite? Are you only a Gold-rank than?” Clover questioned.
“Of course not!” Bastille snapped. “I am a Black-rank Seeker!” Although, I may have dropped down to the Blue-rank ever since I became Guildmaster… He thought to himself.
“But you just told me that the system only went to Blue-rank…” Clover mumbled as he peered at his father, an accusatory look in his eye. “You know, lying to your son to look cool is kind of lame…”
“The reason why I didn’t mention Black-rank is that there has been no need for any Black-rank missions. Since the system’s inception one hundred years ago, there have been no threats dangerous enough that it became necessary to impose the Black-rank label on. However, that does not mean that there are not any Black-rank Seekers and other individuals roaming the world!”
“Wow…” Clover marveled, as he gazed at his father. I always knew that my father was pretty awesome…But I didn’t expect him to be such a powerful and unique figure in the world!
Bastille grinned as he saw his son’s eyes widen to the size of saucers. “Now then, you probably noticed the obvious difference between my attack and your’s! Do you know why?”
“Is it because you can discharge more Arcana?” Clover guessed.
“Yes and no!” Bastille nodded approvingly before continuing. “While you are correct that my strike was significantly more powerful than yours due to the amount of Arcana I expelled, it is not the only factor! One must also consider the purity of Arcana as well!”
“Purity? How would you go about making purer Arcana?”
“With Arcana Discipline of course!” Bastille shouted. “When you train with Arcana Discipline, your body will undergo many transformations. I mentioned before that training with Arcana Discipline would make the veins in your body much more durable, but that also applies to other parts of your body as well. For example, your skin becomes tougher and more elastic, scratches that would have normally caused you to bleed will only leave slight marks. Your bones will have become stronger, to the point that some Seekers even use their fists and feet as their weapons!” Bastille grimly smiled before adding. “And some even kill other Seekers in order to harvest their bones into weapons. Fashioning them into swords, spears, axes, and even arrowheads…”
“R-really?” Clover stuttered as his face became pale.
“Of course! But that mostly happens in distant lands, as most Guilds have made it illegal to have bone weapons for that very reason.” Bastille chuckled as he saw Clover’s frightened face. “As for increasing the purity of your Arcana, that comes down to the quality of your bone marrow. Marrow creates blood, and blood is what stores and purifies your Arcana! Higher quality marrow means better blood which creates purer Arcana!” Bastille smiled and crossed his arms before continuing. “Arcana has many auxiliary benefits as well. Which includes superior eyesight, better hearing, a stronger sense of smell, and more stamina! At the Gold-rank, an individual can project Arcana outside their bodies. Allowing them to create a barrier around them that can protect them from magic and fire. The barrier can also act as a bubble of air, allowing them to breathe underwater! This barrier would be like your own personal domain. Allowing you to have complete awareness within it. The size of this domain increases according to the amount of Arcana you can store within your body.” Bastille took a deep breath before he continued. “Being able to create your domain is the first thing one must learn to do before they can begin training in alchemy. But since you are going to become a Seeker there is no need to learn about that. At least, not for now.”
“There is a lot more in becoming a Seeker than I first thought…” Clover mumbled. His eyes narrowed as he began to put the sheer amount of information into perspective. To think that something as simple Arcana Discipline is not something most Seekers would have the chance or skill to train.
“Huh? Did you really think that being a Seeker would be so easy!” Bastille chastised. “Being a Seeker requires years, if not decades, of training! What we have gone over is only the tip of the iceberg! In this short year, we are going to go over a proper martial art for your spear, Arcana Discipline, Spirit items, your workout routine, your diet, as well as Edward and Maria’s increased lessons! And that’s not even including your punishment!”
“Oh yeah, I forgot about my punishment…” Clover smiled weakly as he recalled his mother’s words from before.
“Haha! You have a full plate this year…I do not envy you!” Bastille laughed, before pulling out a small ring from the bag near his feet. “Now then, do you know what this is?”
“Its a ring…” Clover said as he looked at the small piece of jewelry.
“Of course it’s a ring. I meant the inscriptions around the ring…” Bastille huffed
“Ah, of course,” Clover replied as he inspected the ring closer. It was made out of metal, with spots of rust covering it. There were also two sets of nearly illegible letters on it. One in strange unrecognizable letters. And the other in the Adlan tongue. “Endoss? What does that mean?” He asked as he read the familiar Adlan characters.
“No idea. No one does. Most scholars say that it is from the same ancient race that left behind the ancient ruins within the various danger zones. Only a couple hundred people know the language, and even then it’s only a rough interpretation. These interpreters are the ones who translated the strange characters into the Adlan ones so that I could use it.” Bastille explained.
Arcana Discipline, Black-rank, and now an ancient race…What am I getting myself into… Clover thought to himself before speaking up. “So what does it do?”
“Try it and find out,” Bastille replied and handed him the ring. “Aim it at the nearby dummy. Then inject it with some of your Arcana, and then shout the inscribed word on the ring!”
“Okay!” Clover said as he walked over to the nearby dummy. Doing just as Bastille said, he aimed the ring and poured his Arcana into it.
The small steel ring glowed with a bright green light the moment he uttered those words. A moment later, a wild pressure was ejected from the ring, causing Clover’s hair to wildly billow from the powerful wind that was sent flying towards the dummy, shredding it into small pieces. The wind did not stop at the dummy, however. Instead, it traveled past its remains, where it slammed into a wall and lacerated it with deep cuts.
“Woah! That’s amazing!” Clover shouted as he saw the blades of wind decimate the dummy and its surroundings. Not wasting another second, Clover shouted once more!
However, this time, nothing had happened.
“Sorry to ruin your excitement, son. But this ring has to restore itself with Arcana before it can be used again.” Bastille said as he took the ring from Clover.
“Why would it need to restore itself? I thought that I was the one supplied it with Arcana?” Clover asked with a puzzled look covering his face.
“Yes, you would think that would be the case. But this ring is a Spirit item. Unlike your Deyvse that requires Arcana to be supplied to it in order to withdraw your spear. Spirit items use Arcana as a catalyst, alerting the Spirit within it to use its power.” Bastille explained. “Another way to think of it is that your Arcana is an alarm clock and that it is waking the sleeping Spirit inside! Unfortunately, the Spirit in this ring and most other Spirit items are minor Spirits that have minimal energy. Otherwise, the owner of the Spirit item could use them indefinitely!”
“That makes sense…”Clover muttered as he reluctantly handed over the ring back to his father.
“Well in any case. You must’ve noticed that you used wind magic, and not your earth element, right?” Bastille said.
“Of course!” Clover began. Everyone knows that a person could only use their single element that their body was attuned to, such as Clover and his earth element. “So these Spirit items are used to work around the issue of having a single element?” He queried.
“Bingo. These items are extremely rare and highly sought after. But, some Spirit items have different abilities, like increasing one’s strength or ability to sense Arcana! There are even some that allow the owner to understand foreign languages and complex mathematics! This makes them invaluable, and a simple ring like this would easily be sold for around ten thousand gold coins in an auction!” Bastille declared.
Ten thousand! Clover sucked in a cold gasp of air as he attempted to picture such a large sum of gold.
Bastille smiled as he saw the amazed look on his son’s face. “That is only the tip of the iceberg, son. In my younger days, I was at an election were an item reached the price of five hundred thousand Drakes!”
Five hundred thousand! Clover began to become light-headed as he tried to imagine the size of the pile those coins would make “Who were the bidders?” He breathlessly whispered.
“I believe it was between Omalfi and Constantius family members. But I’m sure that the price was only raised that high due to their rivalry, and not because of the value of the item.” Bastille recalled.
Omalfi? Constantius? Those family names belonged to the elite of the elite! The Omalfis’ ruled the richest trading republic in the world! And the Constanius family was the current dynasty of the Domantius Empire! Clover nearly fell to his knees as he thought of this. Wait a moment…Why was my dad at a such an amazing auction?! But before Clover could question his father, Bastille cut him off.
“Since Spirit items are easy to understand, there is no reason to go over them in detail. Or, at least not right now.” Bastille remarked. As he said this, he noticed Clover shift his feet awkwardly as he looked at the small ring in his hand. The image of a small dog entered his mind as he saw his son’s movements. “Do you want this ring?” Bastille asked.
“Yes!” Clover exclaimed in delight, his eyes lighting up like two full moons.
“Well too bad!” Bastille huffed and put the ring back into the bag by his feet.
“Why not!” Clover said as he crossed his arms in annoyance.
“If I give you this ring than I will deprive you of your single opportunity to experience the life of a Seeker.” Bastille started. “I will not hand you every single one of your heart’s desires! It is up to you to acquire your ambitions with your own efforts! To hand this ring over to you will squander your abilities and make you reliant on tools that will not facilitate your true strength and potential!” Bastille paused and looked at his son and grinned, before continuing. “Although everyone in the Guild treats you as such, you are not a prince! Life is not that easy! Only once you are strong enough should you use any Spirit items!”
“Fine…” Clover mumbled.
“Now that that’s settled, let’s carry on with actual magic!” Bastille declared.
“Yes!” Clover shouted in delight. Although everyone was capable of using Arcana and magic, finding a qualified tutor was difficult and expensive! But Clover was fortunate enough to have Bastille teach him!
“Haha!” Bastille chuckled as his son became elated, already forgetting about his previous denial. “Luckily for you, I am also attuned to the earth element! That way we will not have to worry about looking for a decent tutor! Now then, let’s get started!” He said as he reached into the bag once more, this time pulling out a small ball one would play catch with. “Here, catch!”
Clover caught the ball and examined it closely. Unlike the ring from before, there were no ancient characters. In fact, it appeared to be a completely normal ball. “What is this for?” He asked.
“It is to help you with Arcana control,” Bastille stated. However, Clover only looked at him with a confused expression as he held the small ball. “Well let me first demonstrate,” Bastille said as he lifted his large arm, and pointed it at another dummy.
Bastille shouted as the ground around him shook. Dirt, pebbles, and rocks lifted from the ground and clumped together in the form of a long lance. A moment later, the lance of rock flew towards the dummy and pierced a hole through its torso. The lance only stopped flying after a couple dozen meters before slamming into the wall behind it!
“Now it’s your turn,” Bastille said as he motioned Clover to do the same. “Pour Arcana into the palm of your hand and repeat the command as I had!”
“Alright, seems simple enough.” Clover declared as he lifted his arm up just as his father had.
Clover yelled out with all his might! He stood there in anticipation, only for a few seconds to pass with nothing but a couple of nearby pebbles and a patch of dirt shifting ever so slightly.
“Yep…Simple enough!” Bastille laughed as his son failed in his attempt. “Those earthworms are sure impressed with your skill!”
“Shut up! It was my first time!” Clover yelled, his face flushed red with anger as his father continued to laugh at him.
“Anyways,” Bastille said as he wiped away a tear of joy. “This ball will become your best friend for the next few days!”
“Best friend, how so?” Clover asked as he studied the ball even more closely, in case he missed something.
“By using this ball you can get used to casting spells. When you attempted to cast your spell, I told you to concentrate Arcana in the palm of your hand, correct?” Bastille said.
“Yes, but nothing happened…” Clover mumbled.
“That is because I may have slightly lied to you.” Bastille noticed Clover contort his face in annoyance and was about to speak up before he cut him off and continued. “It is not the palm that you should focus your Arcana on, but the space in front of your hand!”
“But didn’t you say earlier that only those at the Gold-rank could project Arcana outside their bodies? How is this any different?” Clover inquired.
“I’m glad you asked,” Bastille smirked in approval before he continued. “While I did say that Arcana projection is only feasible once one had sufficient Arcana capacity, this is not the case with the palm of your hand! Even those at the White-rank are capable of expelling Arcana from their palms and casting spells! However, it is still difficult to effectively concentrate enough Arcana into the space in front of your palm to do so! But by pouring Arcana into a ball while you holding it and using it as a focal point, you can learn to focus on the space in front of the palm. And by constantly pouring Arcana through your palm, it will become used to allowing greater amounts of Arcana to pass through it faster and more effectively!”
Clover gripped the ball in his hand as he heard this. Lifting his arm again, this time with the ball in hand, Clover injected more Arcana into his palm and into the center of the hollow ball. As the Arcana flowed from his veins, he felt a numb pressure begin to form in the center of his palm. After a couple more moments, it began to feel as if someone was poking it with a nail. The veins around his arm also began to prickle uncomfortably the longer he poured Arcana into the ball. Eventually, the pain increased to the point that he could no longer withstand it, and dropped the ball.
Gasping for air, Clover began to feel light-headed and nauseous, the world around him seemed to tumble, until it flipped over, as he fell to the ground.
“That was a good start!” Bastille exclaimed as he lifted his son from the ground. “The first time you experience Arcana drain will always be the worst!” Bastille chuckled as his son turned green from nausea. “Now you see why increasing the capacity of Arcana is important. Blacking out due to Arcana drain in a battle is a real and dangerous situation! The number of careless Seekers I’ve seen die due to it is disastrous!”
“Okay, so Arcana Discipline is the most important skill I have to learn if I want to be a Seeker, and the sooner I train with it the stronger my foundation will be.” Clover acknowledged. “And the use of Spirit items should only be used as auxiliary tools in order to prevent becoming dependent on them. What else is there?”
“Although this doesn’t apply to us, I must mention Bloodline magic!” Bastille exclaimed. “Since I’m sure that you already know about them, I will instead quiz you about them! Okay?”
“Okay!” Clover agreed. Ah! I’m jealous! I wish I had a Bloodline magic!
“First question. What is Bloodline magic?” Bastille asked.
“Bloodline magic are unique powers that can only be inherited by family members of powerful dynasties! Only those of the same blood can be born with the ability to use them!”
“Correct! For the second question, do you know of any families that have Bloodline magics?”
“Of course! Pretty much all royal families of the world have their own Bloodline magic. The most notable examples are the Omalfi, Constantius, Rylos, Suren, Kaldia, Aleesia, and the Vanden families!”
“Correct again! Now then, why is it that royal families have Bloodlines?”
“Uh…Because Bloodline magics are the perfect way to establish legitimacy to the throne. It also signifies that the royal families have been blessed by the Saints, Herengle, and Heaphin! It also proved that they have the divine right to rule.”
“Good! Now then, do you know what some of the Bloodline magics are?”
“Uh…Um…No? Aren’t they extremely secret?”
“Yes, they are! And their Bloodline magic tend to be the most well-guarded secret of the kingdom! After all, it was that power that allowed their ancestors to have the ability to take the throne! If their enemies obtained the knowledge of the power, it would be one less weapon in their arsenal!” Bastille exclaimed. “But, that doesn’t matter to us! After all, we don’t have any royal blood in our veins! Haha!”
“Yea, haha…” Clover weakly laughed as he envied those who were lucky enough to be born with royal blood. “Well, what else is there for me to do?”
“Well, that should be obvious. Physical fitness.” Bastille flatly said. “Keeping your body in pristine condition will allow the transformation abilities of Arcana Discipline to occur faster and more efficiently.”
“Ah…Of course, I forgot about having to exercise…” Clover lamented. Throughout his life, Clover could count the number of times he ran for fun on a single hand. The most recent of which being when he ran from the mutated beasts in the Dark Forest.
Bastille chuckled as he saw Clover’s gloomy expression. “Well, I’ll let you off for today as you are most likely still sore from your injuries. But starting tomorrow, you will begin your strict regimen of Arcana Discipline and fitness!”
“Yes, sir!” Clover shouted.
“After your daily workout, I will also teach you how to properly use your spear in battle. After all, Arcana is not the only necessity in battle. There are plenty of Silver-ranked Seekers who solely rely on their combat abilities in order to defeat opponents that are Gold ranked!” Bastille said. “But those who can balance the two are the only ones capable of breaking into the Blue- rank!”
“So what does it take to become Black-rank?” Clover asked.
“Oh? Getting ahead of yourself I see! Who says that you will have a chance to even reach that boundary!” Bastille chuckled.
“What! Of course, I’ll become a Black-rank Seeker one day! You just wait! I will make it seem easy!” Clover gnashed his teeth in anger as he snapped at his father.
“Haha! That’s the spirit!” Bastille guffawed. “That attitude is exactly what you will need to become a Black-Compass! But nevertheless, there is no reason to talk about the Black rank for now, you only need to focus on becoming Bronze-rank by this time next year.”
“Fine…” Clover trailed off as he lifted the ball once more, and began to pour Arcana into it. This time, however, a noticeable amount of dirt and rock began to rise from the ground and coalesce in front of Clover’s outstretched palm. As a small spear of stone began to form, Clover became excited and increased the amount of Arcana pouring from his palm. But as soon as he did so, the small spear began to rumble as it was unable to contain the fluctuating Arcana within it.
The spear exploded into a shower of dust and pebbles, covering Clover in a thin layer of dirt. “Ah! This is hard!” Clover exclaimed, in surprise as he shook his gray hair free of particulates.
“Did you think this would be that easy!” Bastille laughed, but inside he was reeling in surprise. What the hell? Clover is making too much progress in just one day! It usually takes someone a month or two of diligent practice to get this far, half-elf or not! As Bastille thought this, he couldn’t help but think back to the day he found him, and the situation with the shrouded man. Even though it’s a pain, I should tell him about that day…
Shaking his head, Bastille spoke up. “In any case, we should call it quits for today. We wouldn’t want you to harm yourself from practicing too hard while you are still injured!”
“Yes, sir!” Clover responded and picked the ball up. He poured Arcana into his Devyse once more and deposited his spear into it as he followed his father inside.
This is going to be a rough year…But as long as I follow father’s training regimen, I should become as strong as him! Right? Clover thought to himself, when all of a sudden, the figure of a cute and shy blonde girl appeared in his mind. Ah! I want to see her again! I hope this year goes by quick!