Anonymous fragment from the Library of Linendouce.
Helial regarded Perception as one of the fundamental Skills to become stronger. This, however, was not the only reason why he had decided to make it level up.
For years, since he was a kid, he had fought against the shadow of his brother. He had always lived in fear that one day his brother would come back to kill him. He had felt powerless, never able to look straight in the face of danger. So, one of Helial's greatest obsessions was to always know who, and especially where the enemy was.
Perception was a Skill that not only provided information on the physical location, but when properly trained could also distinguish the Aura of living things and the presence of inanimate objects.
970, 972, 975, 975…
Helial was now drenched in sweat. His eyebrows were knitted together, adding to the pained grimace that distorted his features. He could not go farther! Why? The Skill limit was 1000 yards, but he was unable to reach.
After a ten-minutes deadlock, he was still unable to break it.
He breathed out and opened his eyes. Even though Mana consumption was lower than the actual recovery rate, the mental stress caused by the simultaneous use of two Skills had forced him to cut short the training.
Maybe I can use this Skill only when my concentration is at its peak… No, there must be some other reason, I remained in that state for over ten minutes but still… Perhaps I should check the Skill.
Cost 70 Mana/Sec
You can clearly detect every aura within a 1000 yd radius.
SHIT, thought Helial. He wanted to scream, but he held back for fear of waking his sister. Ten minutes and I got only 0.01%? Before starting it was at 20.60% and now 20.61%? Are you kidding me? I'd need… like weeks to level up.
Helial knew right away he was doing something wrong. But what, exactly?
He tried once again to push Perception to its limit. After all, when training the body it was enough to just increase the load. If one wants to lift 200 pounds, but can lift only 20, they just have to increase the weight little by little: 21, 22, 23, and so on. Helial planned to use the same strategy to increase the Exp of Perception.
After spending ten minutes trying in vain to go further than 975 yards, Helial grunted and deactivated both Skills.
Cost 70 Mana/Sec
You can clearly detect every Aura within a 1000 yd radius.
The Exp of Perception had increased once again by 0.01%...
Helial did not know whether to laugh or cry. He had brought the Skill to level 3 without even thinking about it, just by using it. Over the years, thanks to his night-time training, the Skill had simply levelled up due to frequent use. But now that he wished to make it level up on purpose, he could not get a satisfactory result. He clearly could not spend weeks training just to increase the level just of Perception.
That Skill, however, let him detect the actual strength of the enemy. At the moment, the Goblins that were able to use Perception could be counted on one hand even among those in the First Phase and were all engaged in the fights to gain control of the outpost. The Goblin army traveled on foot and needed to build Siege Formations to win. The monsters would have been back a month later, unless they were defeated by the men of the outpost and forced to retreat.
Helial clenched his fists, he felt really powerless!
All around the Nation there were various Clans, Guilds and Academies… There, the best teachers guided students on the Dao of the Mana. Helial, however, found himself in a small cave, with his sister as only companion. Lumia could hardly teach him anything, considered her young age and inexperience. And actually it had been Helial who had taught her the first basic Skills.
Helial joined his fingertips together, his palms a short distance from each other. His breathing slowed down and he mobilized Mana from the Seed, flowing it from one side of the body to the other, passing through his joined hands. Moving that great amount of Mana made his muscles tingle. It was a nice feeling.
He used that method to relax. Besides, flowing the Mana inside the body helped fortifying muscles and Meridians. For his level, Helial was already perfectly balanced. In the past, he had reflowed enough Mana to bring muscles, Meridians and Mana all at the same level.
Usually, if a person levelled up too quickly or achieved great power-ups, they were forced to meditate for long stretches of time, reflowing Mana. This allowed the body to adjust to a greater quantity of Mana. Mana had the power to fortify both body and mind, but it could be a double-edged sword and destroy its carrier. With a weak body, it became increasingly difficult to control it, therefore who decided to train Mana, had also to train the body.
However, it was not true for the other way round: Mana strength could never have increased by only training the body. Even though, there was a risk to stop benefiting from that mysterious Energy, it was rare to not use Mana flowing to increase one's Stats.
Some years earlier, in the Headquarters of the Mana Congregation
"It's impossible to train the body to the extent of losing the ability to utilize Mana. Although, according to the legends, Qilins descend from a Dragon that lost the ability to use Mana. Dragons are immortal creatures and their control over Mana is superior to all other races. It was Kirin, one of the legendary Ancestral Dragons, to lose its Skill of using Mana. After losing the gift, the impossible happened. Free of the mental burden of using Mana Skills, Kirin developed new abilities. His legs extended and two indestructible horns grew on the top of his head…"
"These are legends, Master, I don't give a da-"
"Silence! Let me finish! Once lost its wings, Kirin regretted not being able to fly for all eternity. Dragons take immense pride in soaring high in the sky, since they are babies. That Dragon had gained an indestructible body, but couldn't fly nor use Mana… Nevertheless, he made his way until the eighteen circle of Hell, where he met the highest Judge of the Dead. Once there, he pleaded the judge to restore its ability to fly."
Despite being a proud Dragon, Kirin has stooped so low as to beg the only human Judge of the Dead to restore its gift of flight, a gift that had always made him feel free. He could not bear being stuck to the ground like a vile mortal.
"Human, I know you are Lord of Life and Death, the only person who can manage these two contrasting forces without being consumed by them. Help me and I will be forever grateful", said Kirin, lowering his head as a sign of respect.
One of the Ancestral Dragons had just lowered its head in front of a tiny human. Dragons are proud, intelligent creatures. No Dragon had ever showed so much respect for a human being. No matter how powerful the Judge of the Dead could be, humans had always be considered lesser creatures.
Kirin looked about himself. It was a nightmarish place. It was in Sanjiva, the Hell of Reincarnation. That Hell was a boundless expanse of smoldering iron where souls suffered tremendous punishments, before being deprived of their memories and reincarnated. Every soul reincarnated according to the judgement made by one of the Judges of the Dead and to the Karma accumulated during their lives, but only after years of suffering in Hell.
The Dragon saw one of the guardians of Sanjiva pour molten gold in the mouth of a soul. 'A greedy…' thought Kirin.
Souls all around Kirin were suffering every kind of torture. Some were being whipped, some torn to pieces and then put back together, only to be torn to pieces one more time. But the harshest punishment of all was being in that place. The smoldering iron burned the souls' bodies, leaving them in a coma, lingering between life and death, then they were healed and the torturous cycle could begin all over again.
"Dragon", spoke King Qinguang, "I am honored by your request. But not even I can restore your old body. A Dragon's wings are supported by Mana, you know that better than I do. I cannot return them to you."
Kirin clenched his giant jaws. That was the Lord of Life and Death. If not even him, the creator of life, could restore his wings, then no one could.
"But", continued King Qinguang, "I can restore your gift of flight. Since you lost your Mana, you cannot even be considered a Dragon. You used to be one of the Ancestral Dragon, but now you could barely call yourself a Dragon. Nevertheless, your body, for some miraculous reason unknown to me, has become much stronger than any other Dragon. Even though you are not able to develop Mana Skills, you possess an astonishing Physical Strength that no other creature could possibly rival."
King Qinguang descended from the throne where he was sitting and moved some steps towards the Dragon, then he raised a hand and touched one of Kirin's scales. It was harder than any other thing in the universe. Qinguang examined its consistency and was pleasantly surprised.
Kirin did not pull back. That was the kingdom of the Dead and he knew perfectly well that there was nothing he could do to stop that man, if he had wanted to kill him.
"Dragon, heed my words. I can restore your ability to fly, but you will not be a Dragon anymore. You will become a new creature, a being that never before has inhabited this universe. You will never be able to use Mana again, but you will soar among the heavenly bodies, master of your life and that of others. You will become much stronger than you used to be. But only at one condition. Dragons belong to the forces of Destruction. Humans belong to the Forces of Life. You must not be responsible of any more massacre and slaughter. No longer will you take the life of the innocent…
"Your Divine Sense will remain intact, but your withered Meridians will not come back to life. You will be able to move blocks of Energy, but will not be able to use any Mana-related Skills through the Meridians. You will still be able to use Formations, since they are supported by Divine Sense. Even without Meridians, you will have your Flame and your Physical Strength will be the most terrifying Skill you will ever hope to achieve.
"When people will behold you, they will not fear you. You will be a symbol of prosperity and abundance. No one will ever run away from you, but will welcome you with open arms like a God. Men will worship you, but your fellow creatures will hate you. You will need to protect men from the forces f Destruction. Are you willing to accept this burden? Are you willing to step over to the side of Life?"
The Dragon did not stop to think twice. Kirin had never enjoyed killing and plundering with his fellow Dragons. He was indeed arrogant, but not evil. If the price for regaining freedom in the skies was so low, he would pay it willingly!
"Every obstacle is like a wall. Two are the fundamental things, perseverance and the right tools. The one without the other is useless. Trying to smash a wall with one's head won't be accomplished even in ten years. The same would happen if using the right tools for a minute a day. They both lead to the same result."