That was the Mortal Curse. It forced the bearer to the lowest level of physical ability. Although Mona had the blood of Aurum running through his veins, the illness practically made him a bird thrown in a cage after losing its wings.
Instead, he focused his talents in memorizing vast amounts of information, using part of it to form secret allies that would otherwise never meet with him.
That was why he was confident in promising the Varlier brothers. Although he may not have much weight in the Aurum family, he didn't need it. He made his own connections, which added on to those made by his father.
Mona tried to react quickly, but his limbs didn't listen to him. It seemed that the man charging at him, fist forward, had cast a Control Art to restrict any of his movements. Without any Aura, he wouldn't be able to free himself until the caster died.
Reithar noticed this, and made his way towards Mona. His Aura charged out, boldly in vast waves, forming a shield from his own Aura just as the figure's punch came.
The Auric shield shuddered at the impact of the fist, cracks appearing on its surface. However, the shield held in place, absorbing the entire impact of that strike.
By now the man was straightening his posture. His attack had been completely deflected. Anger was swelling in his brow.
"Taizen, they formed a group in advance. And it seems that it won't be easy to get them alone. Do you need us...to step in?" Another man spoke from the encirclement, eyeing the food in the hands of Mona's company. Clearly he what he desired was an extra meal.
Taizen's eyes flickered. He also wanted to get the extra meals for his group. If they had to split it, the amount every member received would only be a few crumbs and two sips. What if he didn't need their help? That would be giving away nourishment for no cost. If he split it among his own, at least it would do something.
"Back off, Heigler. I can handle this." Taizen hollered back to the fellow in the crowd. Unlike Taizen, his body was lean, like a snake. His face was sporting a scowl, his hands hanging freely at the side.
Taizen charged his Aura once more, this time the coating of Aura on his arms became visible to the naked eye. It's color was a dark green, and represented Taizen's own self.
The two fists came down on to the shield, quickly making do of the Aura shielding that had came forth earlier. Taizen sprinted to Mona, his eyes trained on making quick work of their food.
But alas, he was too late. By now the two Varlier brothers had came, their Auras striking heavily to a maximum. Their Auras crisscrossed in a strange pattern that gave off the feeling of a mountain, heavy and colossal.
"Tch." Taizen glared at the Varlier brothers, then back at Mona. What the heck did he promise them?
Mona looked back at Taizen with indifference, only sparking the other's anger. Taizen couldn't believe that a Level 0 Mortal could escape his grasp. Every second only hurt his hard-earned reputation in the prison. He had to erase this mark.
Taizen motioned a few of his men to come forth from the lines, their bodies moderately built. Each of their Aura flared, giving off the impact of level 3 Mortals.
If I can't break in alone...then I'll just use force.
"Attack the weakest points! Quickly!" Taizen ushered commands to the other three to attack the shielding from various areas. He himself moved towards another area of the shield, battering against another of the shield's flaws.
Under their constant assault, the shield dimmed and began to crack. Mithal's visage became terrible as he charged out more Aura to repair the shielding.
Sadly, it wasn't enough. Under the strikes of the four men, the shielding shuddered and then collapsed. Its fragments broke into pieces, wisps of Aura evaporating in front of their eyes.
Taizen's face grew a malicious arc. It wasn't until today that he had to struggle to get his prize. He was going to make sure Mona and his cohorts understood to "donate" their meals voluntarily.
Reithar stood in the front, looking back at the Varlier brothers. Aeron was alright, but Mithal was breathing heavily while absorbing the natural Aura from the air. He had exerted too much to hold up the shield, and was recuperating.
As Taizen came forward, the other three men aimed at Reithar, Aeron, and the gasping Mithal respectively. Given that Mona was a mortal, their boss would quickly make do of him and help them take down the others.
Before Taizen got close to Mona, Reithar rushed towards Mona's position. He stood in front of Taizen, whose face darkened at this third act of defense for a mortal.
Haven't they learned yet that defending this dude is worthless?
He soon began to laugh, his composure improving. Oh well. At least it'll be more enjoyable.
Reithar's face grew grim. His Aura charged into his right fist, it's color a pale purple. Mona's eyes flickered.
Why is he using that? Oh, I see now. Mona became relieved. He didn't think Reithar would train in such an Art. Although it was easy to train, it lacked offensive power if used irregularly.
Taizen ran towards Reithar, meeting a punch with his own. Their fists collided, with purple and green Aura wisps evaporating as they collided.
A few guards stationed themselves closer around the encirclement. Although fights between captives were fun, they didn't dare to allow merchandise die. Otherwise the warden would have the dead be replaced with them.
At the collision, Reithar kept his ground, but ended up taking several deep breaths of air. Taizen stared at his left fist, his middle and ring finger broken, blood trickling from cuts in the skin.
I was injured? Taizen stared at Reithar, anger rising in his chest. He couldn't believe this level 6 Mortal was able to retaliate against him.
It must have been an Art! One not given by these Alberdans! Taizen understood now that he was facing someone quite skilled. It was going to be difficult to defeat him.
But those meals were too enticing. Although they were barely edible, only the gang leaders like Taizen understood that the only way any normal human can survive in this prison was controlling who ate. They would rather survive than become a corpse from starvation.
Aura could hold back hunger only so much. And for a Mortal that depended on your level. Each level held back another day.
But Taizen didn't want to risk being below his peak condition for six days before eating again. He could even die from injures that way. Heigler had been eyeing his group for quite a while.
Taizen's Aura went into his fist, working to heal the torn ligaments and broken bones. Although this wasn't a medical Art, in a few minutes his hand would return to normal.
By now, Mithal and Aeron had already entered bouts with the two men that had struck them. Both of them focused on their foes. They couldn't help Reithar fight of Taizen and his lackey.
Reithar grimaced at the sight. Two enemies were making their way towards them. Two fists couldn't stop their four hands. He understood that.
He looked towards Mona and sighed. He was about to resign, until a thought struck him.
He looked towards Mona and nodded. I have to use that.
It took a moment for Mona to realize what Reithar was doing. After seeing Reithar's Aura explode forth like a typhoon, he understood what was happening.
"Reithar, don't be reckless!" he shouted, but by then it was too late.
Reithar's pale purple Aura turned a deep purple. This deep purple formed an intricate type of armor around his body, composed of nothing but Aura. In a moment, that armor turned a deep crimson. With that change, Reithar's eyes grew red.
Insane! Taizen stopped his movements, and hurried to evade. But it was too late.
Reithar vanished and dashed towards the approaching foe, his single fist targeting the man's stomach. What followed was the end of the man's momentum.
His mouth giving rise to a stream of blood flowing from his mouth, and dribbled down his chin. Taizen's face grew grim as he tried to evade further, but then it became pale.
Right behind him was Reithar, who somehow maneuvered his way to his defenseless back. His fist struck Taizen's spine, breaking a few vertebrae in the process.
Taizen's body slumped to the ground, blood and saliva flowing down his chin. He gradually lost consciousness, as his back bled out a small puddle.
Reithar stood there, his gaze turned towards Mona. He made his way back, but then his body shuddered midway.
As his body fell the red armor made from Aura had dispersed, leaving Reithar's figure. His body had grown more thin, his veins wriggling in his skin from pain. His hair had changed in color, with a few strands of grey mixed in.
Mithal and Aeron had made their way to Reithar, infusing into him Aura. Their faces grew white after examining his internal body. Quickly following was greater infusions of Aura.
By now, the guards had already made their move. They picked up all of the injured and took them back to their cells. Taizen and the other attacker was carried by the two that attacked Mithal and Aeron. Only they knew firsthand how gruesome was Reithar's attack.
A guard came behind Mona, activating his sigil. It connected back to the Swarm Creation, and the return signal forced Mona's cuffs on his hands and feet to interlock, his body no longer in his control.
"Prisoner 8654, for colluding with other inmates to harm and injure other prisoners under the watch of the Alberdan forces, you will be subjected to 7 days stay in the Thorn Dungeons." The guard's voice was monotonous, without a shred of emotion.
Mithal and Aeron were alarmed at the decision of these guards.
"They were watching a moment ago! And now they want to charge Mona?" Aeron's muttered towards Mithal.
"It was to be expected. We are only cattle in their eyes after all. And Mona was a grandson of that duke, so given Alberdan's current actions, it's no surprise they would single him out." Mithal replied, his gaze focused on infusing Aura into Reithar.
Reithar had used a special Art to draw on his life force to charge his offensive capabilities. The side effects were dire: his longevity was shrunken and his potential as an Aura practitioner impacted. It would take years of Aura concentration or very rare medicines to repair the damage.
Luckily he had done this as a Mortal, and the effects were still repairable by Aura. If he was a Warrior, no one could tell how he would recuperate.
Mona was carried away by two guards towards a different block of the compound. The Thorn Dungeons was a place used to interrogate prisoners or hold the most violent ones away. Many of those in the Dungeons were difficult to handle, or had caused severe problems in the past, and was placed there.
His body was carried into a different block, past several gates, and down several floors. The deeper they went, the darker the entire region became.
Eventually Mona and the two guards were at the bottom floor, and were met by a gate, a guard stationed near it. After a short conversation between the two men, the gate was opened, and Mona was thrown into one of the cells.
The few guards that watched over the dungeon were fairly stronger level 6 Warriors. As Mona was carried to his temporary lodgings, he attracted a few stares from them and the other enchained prisoners.
After he was thrown in, one of the other guards came in and attached chains to the cuffs on Mona's wrists and ankles. They limited his movement to the edge of the cell, and no further. The chains flashed with the cuffs, signalling the connection had been made between the two.
As the guard left, he closed the cell, locking it with a key, and made his way back to his station.
Mona looked at the cuffs, his face tense. 7 days of this?
It meant that Mona would miss his first testing session with his friends and leave this wasteland.
It meant that Mona wouldn't be able to use the help of the Varlier brothers to attempt removing his Mortal curse.
It meant that Mona couldn't see Reithar's condition.
It meant his plans were hindered much more.
His anger was stoked by the provocations he received by the Alberdan guards, but he ignored that. But now Reithar was injured severely. He wouldn't forget this, nor forget those prisoners that moved against him.
Lost in his thoughts, Mona didn't realize something in the darkness. Right in front of him sat another chained prisoner, his gaze focused on Mona's pathetic figure.
As Mona came back to his senses, the man in front of him spoke in a raspy voice that belonged to a man one leap away from death.
"Are you Mona Aurum?"