~ Chapter 12: The Legendary White Tiger (Part 2) ~
On the second day, he went to hunt in the nearby forest and returned with the White Tiger's meal as well. They ate together, and as thanks, the big feline finally told him something about himself.
(When I was but a cub, my mother took me down the creak to hunt some deer. She was a beautiful golden tigress, but she told me that I was lucky I got my father's fur. As a cub, I often admired her gentle nature and elegant demeanour. Maybe it was just me, but I like to think that she was the type of tigress any female should aspire to be like... For some reason, the deer she hunted always felt like it was the most delicious in the world.)
(Sounds like a wonderful mother. What happened to her?) Alutras asked as he laid cross-legged on the grass next to him.
(After a tiger cub reaches a certain age, the mother will chase them away from her territory so that they would find their own place out there. I never saw her after that, and I don't know what happened to her. Maybe she became a Soul Beast like me or maybe she died of a natural death many many years ago...) he spoke in a sad tone of voice.
(Do you often think about what might have happened to her?) Alutras asked.
(No, I just like to remember the good moments. It relaxes me.) he replied shaking his huge head.
Afterwards, they spoke mostly about how it felt to run free through valleys, over hills, and on top of mountains; how it was to let the wind blow through one's hair or fur; or how it was to take in a breath of fresh air from atop a cliff.
From all of their talks, Alutras understood that the White Tiger was a Soul Beast who loved nature very much, but more than anything, he loved to stay free and unchained. This led the boy to believe that the tiger might not have understood him or he simply didn't trust that he spoke the truth when he claimed that he would neither chain or enslave him.
Trust had yet to be gained from either side.
Alutras forgot that during his past life as the old Master Shengo, his fame and reputation, his very presence and the countless Soul Beasts he harbored within his soul were the solid proof to back up his claims when others held doubt towards him. It was only when the 4 years-old boy went to sleep at the end of the day that he remembered how he caught his first ever Soul Beast.
Just like the other practitioners of this world did, he too at first chained up his Soul Beasts. Many years later, he came to realize the foolishness of his deeds and set them all free. The first one he caught fled, refusing to stay with him, and so did the second one. Only the third one remained because the new Shengo intrigued him and made him curious as to what he planned to do next. If he wanted to, now he could flee at any time, but why do so when this human could entertain him oh so much?
From then on, Shengo simply pointed at his Soul Beast to prove his words, but now he couldn't do such a thing. He had to befriend and gain the trust of the Legendary White Tiger the hard way, by proving and showing that he held no ill intentions towards him.
I have no choice but to try... Alutras thought before falling asleep.
The following day, after he ate his breakfast, the White Tiger asked him about his ability to communicate with him.
(So? How do you do it, cub?)
(To be honest, it's not something I would consider to be particularly difficult to do. While it takes some practice to learn, a practitioner blinded by his own Ego and pride will definitely be unable to do so.) he began to explain as he scratched the back of his head.
(Why so?) the tiger tilted his head to the left.
He was intrigued by his words because all the practitioners he encountered up until now matched perfectly that description.
(Most practitioners are taught to see the soul as a blob of energy that grants them access to what we call Divine Energy. In their belief, it's merely a generator without a sense of self, but I know that's not true. Not only does the soul have a sense of self, it can also freely communicate with other souls around it. Above all, it holds all of our potential as practitioners and evolves according to what we come to experience in this physical plane of existence.) he explained using a calm tone of voice.
(So the soul can speak... Is this how you are able to communicate with me?) the tiger inquired.
Alutras nodded once (Using Divine Energy, I record my voice or rather my intent to speak because as you can see, I'm not really moving my lips. This intent is then sent to the soul, who analyzes it and then sends it towards you. That's basically the theory behind it. Use Divine Energy to send your voice to the soul and allow it to send it to your target. As for receiving the voice of others, it's done by first allowing your soul to receive it, then you allow yourself to listen to it.) Alutras showed him a smile as he finished his explanation.
(It sounds rather complicated to me, but I can see it work.) the White Tiger nodded.
(It's not that hard once you get used to it. It's simpler than math.) he told him.
(What I don't understand is how you know all of this? You are just a human cub, but your strength surpasses that of many adults. How can that be?) he asked while ignoring the comparison to mathematics.
Alutras looked back into the tiger's eyes, but he remained silent for a moment.
(It's no big deal if you don't want to tell me. Everyone has their secrets.) the tiger told him and then rested his head on his paws.
(No, it's not that...) Alutras shook his head and closed his eyes.
Hearing this, the tiger perked his ears up and lifted his head to look at the child.
(Then what is it?) he asked.
(Well, it's just that besides Ryuciel, I haven't told anyone about this, and she guessed it for the most part.) he showed him a wry smile and scratched the back of his head.
(Not even my parents know about this...) he added.
The tiger remained quiet for a moment and then said (You can trust me, it's not like I get to chat like this everyday.) he showed him a smirk.
Taking a deep breath, the boy then told him his secret (This isn't my first life. I lived up to the age of 258 as a Master of the Art of Soul and Divine Energy Control. My name during that life was Shengo, no family name... I know there's another way to capture Soul Beasts without chaining my own soul to them because I actually used this method a lot in that life.)
He stopped for a moment, but the tiger remained quiet, letting him finish.
(The trick behind it is to become friends with the Soul Beast. If you become my friend and enter my soul, there is no need for me to chain you up. As a friend, you won't try to take over me, and I won't try to use your power without your permission. Like a friend who lends me his help when I needed it, so would you offer me your strength and by no means would this gift lead to me restraining your freedom. In fact, using this method, I can even help you train as well.) Alutras told him the truth as he knew it.
Revealing the secret behind a technique was always tricky in the world of the practitioners of the Art of Soul and Divine Energy Control. It could lead to others copying it or even find ways of using it against its creator.
It was a risky move, but not one without its benefits. It worked based on the fundamental laws of trust: to be given trust, you first had to offer it.
The Legendary White Tiger was no fool. He understood what was explained to him and how dangerous it could be for the young child in front of him. At the same time, he was aware that this matter wasn't going to be divulged just to anyone out there. This showed him a sign of trust, something the so-called masters who tried to chain him up never even thought about before, yet because of them... he still felt reluctant about becoming the boy's Soul Beast.
But was it so bad in the end if they were truly friends?
That night, Alutras asked him again, but the tiger this time didn't say no, but he didn't say yes either. He simply asked the boy to let him think about it.
The White Tiger had the freedom of choice, so whatever he chose, he wanted to make sure he wouldn't regret it.
That was why, on the following morning, while Alutras was preparing his breakfast, the Legendary Soul Beast asked him (Young cub, can you tell me why you need my power?)
The boy stopped stirring the meat in the cooking pan and looked at the sizzling flame. He was half surprised and half expecting this question. After the talk the other day, it was natural for the tiger to wonder about something like this. Depending on how he answered him now, his fate would be sealed.
(Well, where to start? I told you yesterday that I was once a great master named Shengo, right?) he let out a sigh and continued to stir the meat on the plate, keeping it from getting burnt.
(Yes.) the tiger nodded.
(In that life, I managed to capture a Legendary Dragon. For many many years afterwards, for some reason that's eluding me even now, I thought of her as an old man... a male.) he let out another sigh.
(You what now?) the tiger blinked surprised.
Even HE did not expect to hear something like this from the child.
(Yes... I thought SHE, who was apparently quite the attractive beauty in her human form, was actually a HE and not just a normal HE, but an OLD MAN HE...) the boy let out a sad sigh.
(That poor dragoness...) the tiger pitied her.
(And apparently, she was also the Sacred Beast of a certain village... I challenged her to a battle and won. As a result, she agreed to join me, but...)
(There was a legend there you see... one which even now I can't seem to remember.)
(What about it?)
(It had something to do with her and not only this, apparently she believed I challenged her in order to ask for her hand in marriage.)
(Well... that dragoness reincarnated as Ryuciel...)
(And because I often called her 'old man' instead of her name, I sort of forgot what her real name was.) Alutras lowered his head in shame.
The Legendary White Tiger, for the first time in his life, was left speechless.
After a long moment had passed, Alutras asked (Well? Aren't you going to say something?)
(You're an idiot aren't you? And just for the record, I'm a MALE. Don't go calling me 'honey'; 'cutie pie'; or any other sickening nicknames you hairless monkeys go and call yourselves by or I'll bite your head off.) he squinted his eyes at him too show him that this was no joke.
(I won't... That was a one of a kind blunder. I have no intention of ever repeating it!)
(Good.) the tiger nodded and waved his long tail.
(But this is the reason why I require your power. I need to be strong enough to defeat her in combat and then settle this blunder. In this life, if she still wants to, I will make her my wife!) he declared in a firm tone of voice.
The White Tiger squinted his eyes at him again and then asked (So, let me get this straight. You want power to beat up the woman you mistook for an old man in your previous life so you can marry her in your current one?)
(Yes.) Alutras nodded.
After another long moment passed, the Legendary White Tiger tilted his head to the left and asked (No seriously, are you an idiot?)
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