~ Chapter 9: Shengo's path ~
Three days after Alutras found out about Ryuciel's desire to depart from Waving Night City and head towards Star City, the small child found himself at a loss of what to do next.
Despite knowing that he had no say in the matter for various reasons, he still wished he could do something to stop her from leaving. However, even if he could manage to accomplish this through some miracle, the young lady hated him, or so he was made to believe. Now, after just four years of living as Alutras, Shengo felt as though his entire world was falling apart before he even got a chance to understand why it was happening in the first place or how he could fix it. Inside his heart, he felt at a loss, and the thought of never seeing Ryuciel again pained him.
One thing was certain, however, he didn't want to part ways with her like this. He didn't want her out of his life yet for multiple reasons, including the fact that in their past lives they were good friends.
So it happened that pulled by these heavy feelings, a four years-old child should not have, Alutras once more found himself in the middle of the night, sitting atop the wall which separated the area of the practitioners of the Art of Soul and Divine Energy Control from the market below.
The Shroud was keeping him hidden from the masters who could sense him, but a keen eye was more than enough to spot him. Even so, he did not move from that spot atop the wall and only let his gaze fall upon the house in the distance where Ryuciel's energy could be felt.
So far, seven sighs escaped his lips, all heavy and weighed down by the sad outcome that marked the end of their relationship. Alutras' mind kept going back and forth between the time inn his past when he first befriended her to the time of the present when she hated him for his lack of consideration towards her feelings.
The saying 'Heaven hath no fury as a woman's spite' could not be more correct, especially when the said woman happened to be a reincarnated Legendary Dragoness.
Maybe this is why those old fools on the path of Tao kept trying to seal off their emotions? They did it in the hope of eliminating such distractions that could easily shatter their concentration and thus help themselves become better masters. Alutras thought.
Although he was also one of those who had first climbed in power using this very same way, when he learned of the truth behind it, he quickly forsake it even if it meant starting over from scratch. This was also the main reason why he became so strong in the first place.
Even if he knew how, Alutras would not dare seal off his emotions, but instead he delved deeper within them, trying to understand them.
No true master hid away from that which inconvenienced him or tried to destroy or control that which he didn't understand. A lesson the foolish practitioners of Waving Night City believed to be nothing but utter nonsense, yet the truth couldn't be more clear.
“Who goes there?!” a guard shouted when he spotted Alutras' shadow.
“Huh?” surprised, the young boy jumped back from the wall and fell towards the houses below.
Like a shadow, he vanished from the guard's sight, and no matter how hard he tried afterwards, he wouldn't have been able to find him. With a bit of luck, the man would even come to think that he just saw a lost monkey and let it go, after all, it would have been rather hard to explain such a strange sighting to his superior, especially when he didn't feel the presence of a practitioner.
As for what Alutras did, he landed softly on the rooftop of a building and then hid in the cover of a nearby alley's shadows. He waited there for a moment to see what the guard was going to do.
When he felt like that man gave up on trying to chase the shadow and continued his patrol, Alutras let out a sigh of relief and scolded himself for not paying attention. Still, considering his current state of mind, mistakes were naturally bound to happen, so he let it go.
I'm glad he didn't chase after me. he thought as he looked up at the sky.
“You bastard!” a woman's loud voice caught his attention.
It came from behind him and just then, a porcelain plate was tossed out the window and smashed into the wall in front of him, breaking into tiny pieces.
What the....? he thought and quickly hid in the shadows.
The yell and loud noise startled him.
“How dare you show your face to me and introduce this... this FOX as your second wife!” the same woman shouted again with a clear tone of anger in her voice.
“My dear, relax. You are still the first wife. I had just proven my might in a battle with her and instead for her life, I asked for her hand in marriage.” the man replied nonchalantly as if it was no big deal.
This man already had a wife and now he managed to get himself another?! Alutras asked himself a bit surprised, but at the same time he became a bit depressed.
After all, he was so dense in his past life he saw the only woman who loved him as an old geezer. Shengo might have been a great master if not one of the greatest to have ever lived, but he wasn't able to capture the hearts of women as he would have wanted to. The matter with Ryuciel brought to light how much of an idiot he could have been back then, a matter which he intended on correcting this time at all cost.
If there was more than one woman he was unaware off, then Alutras could only hope that all those broken hearts from his life long past would not come to haunt him in the present.
“What do you mean you have proven your might?! Did you force yourself on that... that wench?!” the wife asked in fury.
“Nonsense! We are both practitioners of the Art of Divine Energy Control! We are of the same rank as well, Silver One Pearl!” he declared proudly.
So they are weaker than the four years-old child who is hiding under their window outside? Interesting. Alutras thought.
Unlike them, he was a Silver Three Pearl if he went by their ranking, but still a weak fledgling when he went by Shengo's ranking.
“What do you mean? I don't understand.” the first wife claimed in anger.
“I do not expect a non-practitioner to understand me anyway. You see, for those like me it's common sense that once you engage in a serious battle with another practitioner, especially one of an equal rank, to allow the winner to claim from the loser something of value. As the winner in my duel with her, I claimed her heart and forbade her to see any other man except for me. Thus, she became my wife!” he declared proudly.
Upon hearing this, both the first wife and Alutras said/thought the same thing.
Unwilling to listen to the rest of their quarrel, Alutras jumped up from the alley and landed on the rooftop of he nearby building. He then carefully made his way back home, but while doing so, he thought back at what that man with two wives said. If his words spoke the truth, then he could use this strange law to come to terms with Ryuciel.
I could even ask her to tell me that legend from her past life and even her name which I shamelessly forgot. Or I could just ask her to forgive me. If I lose, then I will abide by her command even if she were to ask for my life! Alutras thought as he stopped on top of the rooftop of his house.
This solution he stumbled upon by accident was right up his alley. Solving such matters with a battle would be just as old Shengo did. Besides, he believed this was also going to make the feeling in his chest more clearer and stop those weird reactions he had towards Ryuciel. This matter was already causing him a lot of trouble, and he wanted it to stop.
Thus, he decided that starting the following day, he would strive to grow stronger and somehow surpass the reincarnated dragoness. She was at the 11th breakthrough and closing in on her 12th. In other words, she was the same rank or above that of most masters at the five Divine Schools in Waving Night City. As such, Alutras had to make two breakthroughs to even stand a chance against her. Then again, he was lucky she didn't unleash her full might against him back then when they first met.
With less than three months to spare, he focused as much as he could on his training. When his parents were asleep, he trained the most, but it was rather hard in these circumstances, especially since he was forced to always hide the powerful waves of Divine Energy from other practitioners.
Alutras didn't rely on those training fields like the five schools or gobbled down endless amounts of pills as most of this city's practitioners did to rise in power. If he did this, the old master knew that he would only end up inflicting harm upon his own body. Most of the impurities pushed out of the bodies of practitioners during a breakthrough or a purification meditation were in fact the toxins resulted after ingesting all of those pills.
That was why many of the master Alutras came across in his past had weak-looking bodies, while his was chiseled and forged to perfection following his own correct path. After all, these pills could only at most just help him reach a certain state of mind through which he could forge his soul, but it wasn't worth it if as a result of this process he would end up becoming dependent on them.
But as it happened, Alutras reached a peak after two weeks. It was the point of passing between the 9th breakthrough and the 10th one. To push past this peak, he could employ the use of pills, but his body would end up suffering and his soul would take a lot of time afterwards to adjust to the new level of power. Impurities would appear both in his body and in his Divine Energy. As such, this option, although viable, was out the window from the get go.
The other way to grow past this peak was by stealing the required energy from other practitioners of a lower breakthrough than his current one. It was an old trick employed since ancient times by the master of Tao and all those who bragged about reaching enlightenment. It was a very pervasive trick disguised under the premise of 'respecting the senior' or 'respecting the master'. Through various ways, the young apprentices were made to believe that as the weaker ones they were obliged to respect those older or more experienced than them as well as do their bidding. Through a simple bow or the words 'this disciple shows respect to master/senior' they would offer a part of their Divine Energy to these individuals without even realizing they did so. In the end, their apprentice time would take longer while their masters would reach a new breakthrough.
This option was also a big 'NO' for Alutras. Even if it was considered to be a good part of the 'way of Tao', Alutras was firmly against using this pervasive method. For him 'one master in life and death' was not a path worth following, it was utter foolishness. He was one who followed the principles of 'worthy masters anytime' and 'one can learn even from the weakest of the weak how to become strong'.
When Alutras thought about it, if he would have followed the path of Tao most practitioners did in order to find his own Dao, he would have undoubtedly sought revenge against Ryuciel or even looked for a way to subdue her by force not make peace with her. At the same time, abandoning his parents or seeing them as below him would have come naturally to him. He would have thought mortals who were not practitioners were nothing but fools and weaklings.
Alutras shuddered at the very thought of falling into that trap again.
In other words, he wanted to go through two more breakthroughs without breaking his own body or spitting on his own principles and morals.
Thus, only one choice was left.
“I must find the Soul of a strong beast to aid me!” he decided while sitting cross-legged on the rooftop of his house and looking up at the moon.
But to find it, I'll need to leave the city for at least a weak. he thought.
“Hm... Mother and father are going to kill me when I get back!” he said to himself and then let out a heavy sigh.
And so, the four years-old child came to the 'wise' decision that it was better to run away from home for a week and probably cause his parents a heart attack rather than telling them a part of the truth to them. Certainly, if he showed them some practitioner abilities, they would have believed him and allowed him to go on his quest? Unfortunately, the old man Shengo didn't even think about this possibility...
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