~ Chapter 5: Meeting an old friend ~
The city which name Alutras had already forgotten, or rather wasn't interested in remembering from the very beginning, was built around the Jade Healer's Palace. The tall, proud building was the biggest and tallest of all those in the city. No other construction was allowed to surpass its greatness. The Jade Healer, the symbol of this city, was supposed to be the closest to the Gods above, and as such, none other was allowed to surpass him no matter how rich or powerful they were.
Around the Jade Healer's Palace, the training grounds of the five schools were located. This way, it was said that the Jade Healer could quickly spot any potential practitioners with a proud future in front of themselves and take them under his wing. At the same time, since all the schools had a training ground of equal size, it symbolized a lack of discrimination from the city's most esteemed individuals. Thus, it also ensured that none of them would try to crush their neighbors to take over their training grounds.
No matter the number of practitioners they had, as long as they served the city, they were offered equal rights.
After the training grounds and their respective school buildings came the residences of the best practitioners of Divine Energy Control Art in the entire city. To be offered such a home, the individual had to show an exceptional skill and promise for the future. It didn't matter if they were born as simple farmers or merchants as longs as they showed exceptional talent.
The next circle of houses belonged to the richest families in the city, including Ryuciel's family, the Tamasky. Although, not as big as those of the esteemed practitioners, they all revealed the incredible wealth of their owners. One of these residences looked like a real palace when compared to Alutras' little home in the suburbs, fortunately, he wasn't one to be swayed by the coins in one's pocket.
After this area, a big wall was raised both as a protection and delimitation of wealth between the citizens. Next to it was the market filled with all sorts of shops and stalls for both the poor and the rich. It was this place Alutras and his father, Teorak, visited after the parade, but only a small section of it. Seeing how the market went around the entire wall, it was incredibly huge. During the time of a festival or celebration, it was filled to the brim with curious folk and potential customers.
The last area was that of the richest commoners in the city, those who could afford more than Alutras' family. As such, his home was located on the very outer edge of the city, near the final wall. It was a somewhat dangerous location, but even thieves avoided it because they had nothing to steal from the poor people living there.
Considering the way this city was built meant that Alutras had to travel quite a bit of distance until he were to reach the area where the practitioners lived and if he was right, where he would ultimately find the fair beauty who caught his gaze.
Well then! Time for a midnight stroll! he declared in his mind as a big smirk appeared on his face.
Before he got to dash towards the damsel of his dreams, he first had to make sure he wasn't going to get sensed by other practitioners living there. The last thing he wanted to do was cause a big commotion in the city where he lived together with his family.
To be noted, the fact that he could cause a commotion by simply meeting with Ryuciel and maybe revealing himself to her, never crossed his mind, not even for a split second. He was more worried about the old geezers around her rather than her.
As such, his current plan involved him somehow reaching her home in a very sneaky and stealthy way. There was one ability that could easily grant him the desired effect, but it was too hard for him to maintain with his current level of control and body.
If I was at least 16 years old, I could use the Black Shroud, but I guess the simpler version, the Shroud, would have to do... I doubt they have anyone here who could see even through this one. he thought as he squinted his eyes at the lights in the far.
Now, his preparations were complete, and he could freely use his Divine Energy without worry that other practitioners around him could detect and identify him. The only exceptions were those with really good senses and at least at the Three Gold Pearl rank, but even then it would have been a difficult feat for them. Of course, Alutras could still be seen by the naked eye. He wasn't completely invisible, just mostly undetectable by the low ranked practitioners.
Not knowing the city all that well, especially the more prosperous areas, Alutras was well aware that he couldn't take any back alley shortcuts to reach his destination while avoiding the curious gazes of other people. Therefore, he chose the other less frequented route, which was the 'rooftop highway', one of his favorite from his past life, which worked in every city or town. The old man Shengo was one who didn't mingle with people all that much, so ending up trapped inside a crowd was something he would always try to avoid.
Jumping from rooftop to rooftop was an easy feat for a practitioner like him who already reached the 9th breakthrough or Silver Three Pearls. He was in a league of his own even when compared to all those who were at the same rank. But while he was able to freely use his abilities to reach his destination, Alutras never thought about hiding his face with a scarf or hood just in case someone did spot him. Then again, he didn't think of many important things. The old man Shengo was sometimes completely oblivious to the small details others usually paid attention to.
One such detail was the fact that he was visiting a young lady in the middle of the night while sneaking through the city and probably the window of her room. For some reason, he didn't find this wrong at all, nor did the fact that she could see him as nothing more than a shameless intruder and pervert crossed his mind. The young girl peaked his interest, and he only wished to confirm if she was worthy of it or not. By his reasoning, he had no ulterior motive to be ashamed or blamed for. Everything else was thus an unnecessary detail... Indeed, why would one such as him need that thing called 'common sense' in the first place?
With one powerful jump, Alutras reached the rooftop of the neighboring house. By sending Divine Energy to the muscles and bones of his body, he was able to achieve superhuman feats. His training up till now in the Art of Soul and Divine Energy Control allowed him to survive the shock to his inner organs given by the sudden burst of speed. If he ever found the stress to be too much, he would immediately infuse his organs with more Divine Energy. It was a simple feat for one such as him, but it was also the result of his diligent training.
Shengo was well aware of the fact that no genius or talented practitioner could maintain his edge unless he pushed himself through a constant practice and rigorous training regime. He naturally believed that one who was talented should be given twice or more the amount of work a non-talented person received. An unpolished talent, be it in the Art of Soul and Divine Energy Control, combat, or anything else was nothing but a waste if left like that.
Still, the ability to achieve these superhuman feats like effortlessly jumping from rooftop to rooftop wasn't something exclusive only to him. Usually, the Iron One Pearl ranks began to learn the basics of it once they were skilled enough. A Silver Two Pearls like Alutras was supposed to be somewhat able to run very fast or punch hard, but what he did was in the realm of what the current practitioners of Gold Two Pearls could do.
By all standards, Alutras would appear as a genius among geniuses, yet the man himself only saw this as something basic and not even worth mentioning. If he could do it, then everyone else should have be able to as well.
The big moon would shine brightly above his head, but under the endless star-filled sky, there were still many who kept the festival going. Those who had lost their energy were now in their homes, trying to get some sleep. From the main street, the candles lit up the place as though it was day and the laughter of many could be heard. Using their boisterous ruckus as a guide, he avoided the more densely populated areas of the city.
As for the guards themselves, not even one could be said was there to keep an eye out for thieves and other dangerous lout, they were all focused on making sure the drunk didn't get into more trouble than they should. If a practitioner of Divine Energy Control suddenly picked a fight with non-practitioners, then the scene would end up as nothing but a bloody and messy sight, which in the end would decrease the popularity of the festival for the next year. As such, they had strict orders to keep the two in check in order to avoid such accidents.
In a way, this worked in Alutras' favor. He could freely jump form rooftop to rooftop without worrying of being caught by them. Well, even if by some chance someone did, he was confident enough he could get away with ease. After all, there weren't that many people in this city who could stop him, and there were many more tricks he had yet to use.
The city sure is lively at night... He thought when he reached the top of the wall after the market section.
Looking back, he saw many people still willing to celebrate or try to find a merchant who didn't go to bed yet, but not even one child was still up, only the adults. On the other side of the wall, however, there were many people who went to sleep already.
The rich sleep, while the poor make them money... Alutras remembered the words of an old merchant he met in his past life.
That man once told him that people of high social status and with deep pockets filled with gold often saw such matters with different eyes. Commoners would have a very hard time understanding the reasoning behind many of their actions. Even now, Alutras had no idea how to act around this type of people.
Unlike the city, the patrols here were wide awake and cautious of anything that moved. With one glance, Alutras knew that all of them were at least a Silver One Pearl. His Shroud would keep him hidden from their senses, but he still had to be careful with noise and sight.
Before he went down there, he focused his senses and tried to locate the energy belonging to Ryuciel. No use searching every house if he could easily find her like this. It was quite different from that of the old geezers who roamed around these parts. The sensation it gave off was that of satin touched with the tips of the fingers without opening the eyes, then having a soft gust of wind blow over it, releasing its captivating fragrance. As for the other energies, they were similar to cotton and linen. Most women here had a sweet, captivating fragrance, but quite different from Ryuciel's. Out of all of them, her quality was the highest. She was the crown jewel. While the one belonging to the old men felt like the bark of a shriveling old tree: unappealing, firm, yet rigid and stubborn.
Once he found her energy, Alutras gave chase after it, sneaking through the many houses out there and the guards who patrolled those streets. It didn't take him more than a couple of minutes to reach her house, which was guarded by two men belonging to the Heavenly Arts School.
Hmph! Weaklings. thought Alutras as he easily sneaked past them.
The house was two stories high from the ground up. It didn't have a basement, so some of the rooms acted as a storage, but since Ryuciel didn't own too many things, they were mostly empty. The house itself was beautifully decorated with paintings and fine woven rugs, giving off the feeling of a noble's residence. Dragons dancing in flames was the theme the young lady chose.
Alutras only sneaked a few peeks at the ground floor through a window and then went up to the second. There was only one room that still had the lights on, it was the one to the North, facing the Palace of the Jade Healer. Carefully, he climbed up to it and jumped over the rail of the balcony.
There, he found the jewel he was looking for...
Wearing a simple purple silk gown, the twelve years-old girl was carefully grooming her long red hair with a silver comb. Looking in the mirror, her emerald-green eyes held a strange power, which captivated the boy at first glance.
“If the gods could be jealous, a lot of goddesses would try to strike you down before you have the chance to bloom into a lovely flower.” said Alutras with a confident smirk on his face.
The moment she heard him, Ryuciel froze. Her hand stopped midway combing.
An intruder? Is it an assassin? Did he kill the guards? she thought without paying attention to the content of his words.
With a gentle move, she took out the silver comb from her hair and placed it down on the table in front of her.
If he judged my strength only by this useless trinket on my hand, then he is in for a nasty surprise! she thought.
Without further debating her course of action, she released a wave of Divine Energy towards Alutras.
Sensing the attack, he lifted his hand up an created a small shield in front of him. It was made with a sharp tip in order to efficiently cut through and redirect her energy around him. An attack like this one would have pushed back an ordinary practitioner and killed a weaker one, but for someone like Alutras, who possessed the soul of Shengo, such a thing was a child's play.
“Easy there! I come in peace!” he spoke in a calm tone of voice.
Turning her sharp gaze towards him, Ryuciel asked: “Who are you?”
“Alutras' the name, playing with Divine Energy is my game!” he replied with a smile on his lips and hitting his chest with his fist.
“You... You are but a child. Why are you so powerful?” she asked knitting her eyebrows.
The thing that surprised her the most was not his strength but his age. The boy was fairly younger than her by several years, yet he felt like an aged master. She tried to sense his energy to get a clear idea of how powerful he was, but the shroud he kept on himself stopped her from doing so.
“I practiced!” he replied with a short bow of his head.
“You lie.” she coldly replied.
“I do not! You insult me, young lady!” Alutras retorted using the tone of his old self.
Young lady? True, I'm young, but I'm also older than him by a lot. Shouldn't he have said 'sister' or 'older sister'? What is he? An old man disguised as a child? Ryuciel thought a bit shocked by his words.
“You, beautiful flower, caught my eye back at the festival, and I thought of dropping by and offering my respect.” he continued with a confident smile.
“By sneaking into a lady's room at night, you wish to offer your respect?” Ryuciel asked raising an eyebrow.
“Hm... Now that I think about it, it does sound bad when you put it that way.” Alutras showed a conflicted expression.
“Were you thought no better?” she asked.
“Well... I never was one good with the ladies.” Alutras laughed and shrugged indifferently.
“Never was?” Ryuciel raised an eyebrow in surprise and then retorted as she got up from her seat “Besides the mother who breastfed you, I doubt a child like you had seen any other woman.”
“You glare at me with such unforgiving eyes. It would be a shame if a wrinkle were to form on your delicate face from such a tender age.” Alutras made an exaggerated bow.
This child is definitely not normal, but he speaks in a rather... familiar tone, an unpleasant one... the young lady thought as she took a step closer to him.
“I hardly believe you are a simple human girl with such a frightening power, so tell me, who are you? Really?” Alutras asked squinting his eyes at her.
After all, if he could reincarnate and remember his past life, who was to say others couldn't?
This boy... How much does he know? I could lie, but he might be able to see right through it. So far, he has yet to show any sort of hostile action towards me... Ryuciel pondered as she rubbed her index finger to her right temple.
It was an unconscious gesture she always did when she couldn't figure out something or was too deep in thought.
“Well?” the boy pressed further.
“I once lived as a Mighty Dragon, a Legendary Beast with the wisdom of a god and the strength to topple countries. Then, a certain mortal turned me into his soul. I was released upon his untimely demise and reincarnated as a human.” Ryuciel declared proudly.
Alutras blinked surprised when he heard the story. It sounded incredibly familiar to him because among all the masters he knew back then, he was the only one who managed to tame the soul of a Legendary Beast. But the world was big and wide, there could have been many others he had yet to become aware off. Maybe some rose and fell during his transition between his two lives.
“What was the name of that mortal you speak of?” he asked just to be sure.
“Shengo.” replied Ryuciel.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
I feel like my wording is a bit weird in this chapter, it will take a bit to adjust...
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