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26 Time to prove yourself 9

Helial was not surrounded by his hallucinations anymore. Now only two were left, the two main ones. Behind his back was Lumia, in front of him was his brother.

The latter was wearing a big armor. That armor… thought Helial. He was completely covered, even his face, but Helial could feel a sneering grin behind the visor. His brother wanted to take everything away from him, he had been left with nothing. Nothing, but the hatred towards him and the love for Lumia.

Helial had sworn he would make him pay for that. But not to avenge himself, he was doing it for Lumia. Helial was not interested in a life of pomp and splendor, but he could not bear the thought of his sister leading a life of misery because of his own weakness. All the power he longed for, he wanted it for Lumia. He would have killed anyone. If it had been necessary, he would have single-handedly destroyed empires, he would kill anyone that dared lay a finger on her. Anyone.

That boy has the eyes of a madman, now. What's happening? Is he having hallucinations? I wonder what he is seeing…

Helial had recovered enough mental lucidity not to die among the flame. Love and hate were sustaining him. His heart was divided between the irreconcilable duality of those two feelings. War and peace, pain and joy, Destruction and Life.

BOOM BOOM BOOM

The air around him began to shatter and explode because of the high temperature.

It seemed as though Helial had fallen in semi-unconscious state. But that was what Kirin thought.

Actually Helial could not feel pain anymore, at least not physical pain. He felt a huge transformation taking place inside his body. Despite that, he could not rejoice, having that shadow still in front of his eyes. The image of his brother towered threateningly before him. His eyes, though, were not on Helial anymore, they were fixed on Lumia.

He could not see his lips, but he knew they were curved in a grin. It looked like he were saying: Weakling, you will lose everything. I won. You can't protect her, you know that too.

Helial turned around. He looked at Lumia down on her knees, the hands through her dirty hair. Make him stop, please!

Helial swallowed the huge lump he felt in his throat and let go a breath of stale air from his lungs, all that was left inside him since before the purification had started.

He closed his eyes. Brandishing Curse of the Demon in one hand, he swung it behind himself, perpendicular to his body and parallel to the ground.

When he reached his shoulder's maximum rotations, everything around him seemed to become covered in ice.

Crack Crack Crack

Only the cracking of the flame could be heard creating small explosions in the air and modifying Helial's body. Helial had not taken notice that Curse of the Demon now weighed almost six hundred pounds.

Everything was still and grey, as if in that moment all the colors in the world had faded. There were only his Illusions and Origin of the Universe, that was destroying and rebuilding his body. Unknowingly, Helial had already become much stronger, while Curse of the Demon kept growing heavier.

310, 320, 350…

Helial's armed was covered in dark, pulsing veins and black blood was oozing all over. His body was expelling the impurities from blood, bones, muscles…

You lost 252 HP!

You lost 234 HP!

You recovered 433 HP!

You lost 243 HP!

You lost 532 HP!

You recovered 748 HP!

Suddenly, everything went quiet and a young man briskly breathed in.

Hush!

KYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Letting out an almost demonic scream, Helial charged against the Illusion of his brother at full speed.

Crack!

Under the soles of his feet, the ground started to crack.

While he was charging forward, the image of his brother was looking at him with spite. He was laughing at his risible strength, at his weaknesses, at the stubbornness he had shown by wanting to raise and protect Lumia when he couldn't even take care of himself.

Helial struck a powerful blow, leaving a large crack in the ground, while advancing towards his brother.

Thanks to Origin of the Universe he can use a strength even greater than his own. It seems like he is fighting his own demons. It is not the first time I see something like this, but during the acquisition of a new Skill…? It looks like his muscles are continuously breaking and reconnecting again. Usually people try to stay as still as possible to make the process slow and smooth and to prevent the Energy from traveling too freely, so that it won't destroy everything in its path. This boy, with his behavior, has dramatically increased the speed of the process and the level of danger at the same time. At this rate everything could be over in just a few minutes. He won't need days or weeks, on the contrary, this time it will be too fast even.

Helial did not care anymore about the pain that was flooding his body, rather he seemed to embrace it to allow him to throw his own weakness in the oblivion. Those flames made him feel alive. He finally had a chance to redeem himself. He finally would have become stronger. He could have changed Lumia's fate. He could not allow his brother to ruin his little sister's life.

Fwooosh!

The energy blade was approaching his brother at full speed, but the Illusion dodged it with ease. Then Helial and his brother began a game of cat and mouse. Helial attacked him continuously, with unprecedented brutality. The Illusion kept dodging the blows and sneering at him. It seemed impossible to hit him. It actually made sense, since it was all in Helial's head. But every time the bastard dodged the blow, Helial became even more ruthless. His blows were so vicious that, if someone had seen the fight, they would have not seen Helial the boy, but a Devil.

At times, circumstances require men to become much more than they really are. Some think that maturity and strength are intrinsic to human nature. Actually, they are qualities that are applied only when needed. A strong men is he who can be strong at the right moment; not before, not after. Helial was now proving to not be weak, he was bearing unbearable pain only to protect Lumia.

The illusory Lumia was standing still and crying, scared to death. Seeing that, Helial felt blind rage mounting inside him.

***

Some years earlier, in the village

"Hey girl, let's see if you learned to make a seam…" the old lady stopped short. "What the fuck do you call this?! How will you ever find a husband if you can't even patch up a sock?"

That was one of the oldest ladies in the village that taught women work to little girls.

Lumia was looking curiously at the seam. Turning up her nose a little she said: "Well, it's closed anyway."

"But it's all sticking out! It sucks! Bah…" The little old woman sounded exasperated, that girl had no talent whatsoever for a precision work like sewing. "Gimme here, I cut it out and redo it, at least your brother won't have to go around wearing this thing."

As soon as she saw the outstretched hand of the old woman, Lumia jumped backwards. "Damned old hag, I'm the only one to touch my brother's stuff." Lumia pursed her lips disdainfully. "He likes them. It's no problem as long as there are no holes, hehehe."

"He's saying he likes them only to humor you. How could he like such ugly seams?"

Those words wounded Lumia's pride, but she recovered immediately. "Old hag, it doesn't matter how beautiful a seam is, as long as I am the one that made it. I think Helial would be pleased even if I made him a Goblin costume."

Lumia's love had always made the world better in Helial's eyes. Not because of the beauty of the seam, but because of what it represented. Helial was convinced that every woman in the village, and probably even himself, could be able to patch up clothes, but he wondered if ever existed a love better, purer and deeper than the one between him and his sister. And the answer was no.

There really are things that cannot be always estimated by their absolute value. Lumia though kept fighting with the little old woman, even though such a insensitive and basic countrywoman could have never understood such deep a concept, having never felt it herself.

***

In the present

BOOM!

500, 530, 570…

The weight of Curse of the Demon kept increasing, but Helial seemed not to have noticed and he continued to attack like a madman.

Having seen the vicious glance that his brother had thrown at Lumia, something unbelievable happened, or at least something that Kirin thought unbelievable. Origin of the Universe was burning with an even greater intensity, increasing the range of its tongues of fire. Helial was now enveloped by a huge incandescent globe. A truly frightful sight.

Clac

Some of his tendons were breaking off with a clacking sound, and then reformed right away.

Crack

His bones were cracking and rebuilding themselves.

Plop

You lost 705 HP!

You lost 898 HP!

You recovered 823 HP!

You recovered 722 HP!

The health bar kept increasing and decreasing rapidly.

A huge amount of black blood was dripping from Helial's body onto the ground. He was already entirely soaked in it. His body was eliminating all impurities through the skin. It was not a matter of simply tempering the body: Helial was reforging his body from scratch. Those that once had been human limbs were now becoming more and more similar to the ones of the Ancestral being in the legends. The body of Helial could be already considered a treasure. With the passing of time and the increasing Phases, he would have become exponentially stronger and stronger. In theory, he could have reached Kirin's level, one day.

Helial stuck Curse of the Demon in the ground, leaning over it to support himself. He was exhausted, his body bombed by the pain had reached the limit. His mind was being affected too, almost about to give in, unable to cling to the last glimmer of conscience left. It felt as if someone had driven an axe through his skull, splitting it in two.

Helial fell face first onto the ground. He couldn't move anymore. His body had reached the limit. The Celestial Flame had become unbearable, the process of reforging the body was no longer endurable. He was to die then and there, so close to becoming a whole new person.

You lost 1034 HP!

You lost 898 HP!

You recovered 1548 HP!

The speed at which his body was heading towards destruction began to surpass the speed at which his body was regenerating.

He vomited a large amount of his blood, unable of any other movements. His limbs were not responding anymore. Could it be really over? He tried to scream, but he could not manage even that. He had used up all the resistance he had, but it had not been enough. Was this the end?

Malus Received:

Temporary Paralysis

???

Why all these anomalies occurred since I have known this boy? What's happening? How could Origin of the Universe burn with increased intensity? This man cub seems to be exempt from the laws of common sense. If he survived the test, I could consider taking him as my disciple, so as to keeping him from taking the wrong path. With such a great power in his hands, he risks unleashing a catastrophe among men. If I took him under my wing, I could probably teach him the way of Life: how to create from ashes, how to mak death come to life. I will keep him from becoming a monster. Besides, with this potential, mphf mphf, he could almost be on of my first tier disciples… Almost. Poor thing, there are geniuses out there with a potential you cannot even dream of. But maybe you are more determined than they are. I have seen many talents capable of changing the destiny of the universe, one day. Right now, aside from Body of the Qilin, your affinity for Mana is barely decent in my eyes, a minimum requisite to join my ranks, if you had talked these test with honesty, who knows if you could have won… It looks as if you are about to die now. Will you be able to pull off one more miracle?

Considering the previous events, Kirin had learned not to immediately write off Helial as dead. That kid had something monstrous inside him. There was something that, in the darkest hour, allowed him to shine like the brightest of suns.
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