GOTA Book 1 Chapter 16
Mona looked at the spinning piece of clothing inside of that bubble. He didn't understand when, or how, that piece of clothing entered his body. It looked the same as when he wore it at the rite of passage ceremony. It's silvery color remained at its edge, no holes in the fabric. The brush insignia on its backside was distinctly the color of the moon, giving off a powerful pressure on Mona's consciousness.

As Mona looked at the cloak, he noticed the bubble had another item. It was opposite of the Aurum Ancestral Cloak. Mona didn't recognize the metal or the jewel. However, what shocked him was what was inside the jewel.

Carefully placed inside of the gem was what seemed like a miniature Sun, rays of sunlight giving off the feeling of ferocity. It felt blinding, yet Mona was able to sense this ring unharmed. He felt a connection to this ring as his blood flow quickened at its sight.

Amazing. Mona couldn't believe he had these two items all this time. He couldn't even believe that this bubble formed inside of his left hand without affecting his body.

What is this? An Art? A Creation? Mona didn't know. Even if one read one million books, if they all came from the same region, one's knowledge would be limited. Mona may be extremely intelligent in the Madrag Continent, but once he left this area he would become no different than the next traveler. For something to exist that he didn't know of wasn't surprising to him.

Mona maneuvered his consciousness, trying to pull out the Ancestral Cloak of Aurum from the bubble.

Bam!

His consciousness was thrown out by the force of the bubble. Something apparently didn't want him to take out the cloak.

Hmm? Why did it throw me out? Mona entered this bubble with his consciousness once again, this time trying to pull out the ring.

Boom!

His consciousness was thrown out once more, only more fiercely. Mona developed a splitting headache as he worked to regain his concentration. Clearly he couldn't take out the ring either.

Could there be a requirement? Mona couldn't pull out either item from this strange space in his hand.

Based on the strength of those attacks, I need to become much more stronger to pull the ring. Mona looked back to the ring, and decided to call it the Aurum Ring.

Looking at the pocket inside of his left hand, Mona sighed. How long would it take him to get the cloak alone? And what would be the effects of it? Such rare items able to create a pocket in his body must mean they were extremely difficult to find in the Madrag continent.

"Noble Aurum, did you find the source of that pressure?" Jaspen asked Mona, unable to tell what Mona was thinking.

"Jaspen, yes I have. And do not worry about that feeling." Mona replied, shifting his gaze back to Jaspen.

"Noble Aurum, may I know the cause of that feeling?" Jaspen wanted to know why did that feeling come from Mona's left hand. Was it part of a different illness?

"About this Jaspen," Mona hesitated, "Even I may not know what the cause of that feeling was. Or at least, I don't know right now." He didn't want to tell Jaspen what was inside of his left hand. Such a treasure could start a massive war between him and the various forces on the continent.

Although he and Jaspen had many conversations with one another, that wasn't enough for him to tell all of his secrets to Jaspen. If he did that and Jaspen one day became his enemy, wouldn't that be his own downfall?

So Mona gave a vague answer. It wasn't a lie nor the truth. He really didn't know what was this bubble inside of his hand, but he did know the ring and the cloak together were able to refine Aura. Just this simple application could ignite massive conflicts.

Aura practitioners all absorbed the natural Aura of the world through various techniques to store Aura. Of course, the natural Aura of the world had various impurities inside. The reason why Auric techniques were ranked was because different techniques had different effects, but also had different levels of effectiveness at purifying Aura for the cultivator.

And Mona had the hunch that these pair of artifacts had an effectiveness equivalent to at least a Sovereign. Mona knew that currently the Madrag Continent did not have a single King to this day. With his treasure, they could purify their bodily Aura, increasing their explosive power by many folds.

They could also reduce the time of their training. For one to become an Emperor, it helped to have a steady supply of pure Aura. The Madrag Continent naturally didn't have such things, so practitioners had to depend on Creations to purify their Aura before absorption, or purify it inside of their bodies by revolving it inside of their meridians.

Such Creations were very rare, and few would dare sell them. Creating such items required insight into various Arts, and the Creator to be of the same rank to create the item. Revolving Aura through one's meridians was time-consuming, and if one spent too much time purifying, they could miss out on the optimal condition to advance between levels and ranks.

Mona hence had to be careful of revealing this item. A single conversation could end in his death.

Besides, Mona didn't even understand how to use these treasures himself. Wouldn't he be better off first understanding what these items were first? There was no guarantee anyone on the Madrag Continent even knew what these items were. If he was ever going to tell anyone, perhaps it would be someone that knew what these things were.

Jaspen looked at Mona, confused. If even Noble Aurum doesn't know what it is, how would I know? Jaspen thought for a moment and decided to not worry. Mona seemed confident about being able to control this pressure. Even if it was a treasure, there was no guarantees that he, Jaspen Arkway, would gain anything from telling the stationed guard of it.

"If Noble Aurum does not know, then this one will not ask further." Jaspen hoped that Mona had acquired a great treasure. He felt sympathy for Mona's Mortal Curse.

Mona nodded towards Jaspen. At least the truth behind the mark on his left hand may disappear in this cell...until he decided otherwise.

Jaspen resumed the training position for reaching grand completion in the Auric technique. Little did he know that Mona was also collecting the natural Aura, but he was refining it to a terrifying extent and was using it to rid himself of his Mortal Curse.

*****

Ardor sweated at a rapid pace. Each drop flowed from his forehead down to his chin, forming a puddle below him. Every few seconds, another drop fell into the puddle. His chin itched from the drops of sweat, but he didn't dare lift his hand to relieve himself.

His body was kneeling in front of Gryfor, his eyes focused on the floor. If one watched his figure carefully, they would realize he was shivering out of fear. The number of men Gryfor killed out of battle was infamous. What wasn't as famous was how many soldiers he killed for simply gazing at him without respect.

"So the Aurum child survived past 72 hours," Gryfor smiled at the trembling Ardor, "what did you say during our last chat?" Gryfor enjoyed seeing Ardor panic in front of him. There were two things that he enjoyed: warfare, and a person trembling for their life.

"General Gryfor, I beg of you to forgive me for my error." Ardor lost his fragile self-control at this moment. Tears fell from his eyes and fell into the puddle below him. Please let me live.

If Ardor was a hero to the guards of Darknorth Prison, then Gryfor was a legend that refused to die. Perhaps Ardor would die for him instead.

"No worries, Ardor. If he lives, all it means is that he gets to see another sunrise. I still have my chance to make use of him." Gryfor replied back to Ardor, his voice calm.

"Thank you, sir, thank you for letting me live!" Ardor's joy could not be contained. I can still live. I have a chance! Ardor stopped crying, wiping away his tears. His family wouldn't lose his son. His wife wouldn't be a widow. His daughter wouldn't be without a father.

Gryfor looked at the bowing Ardor, his smile malevolent. This one is really good at faking emotions. He's better than me back then. Thinking he could hide that he wanted to take that Aurum lifeblood away from me. This shrew is very much a shrew.

"Of course, you still have to do something for me. It's nothing difficult." Gryfor spoke again to Ardor.

Ardor heard General Gryfor speak once more, and listened to his every word. He had to make amends for failing his previous assignment. His willpower became firm. Ardor wouldn't fail a second time in a row.

"I need you to do something for me. Take this medicinal pill to that fellow named Taizen and make him eat it. I don't really care if he dies, but force him to take it if you have to. I want to test something..." Gryfor passed a small brown box to Ardor, who cautiously carried it.

"Under no circumstances are you to open that box. Every moment that box is opened, the effectiveness of that pill decreases. You are not allowed to open it at all. Understand?"

Ardor nodded his reply to Gryfor's words. Although he didn't know what was in store for Taizen, he had a good idea of what it was. He placed the box into a compartment of his uniform. Unless he was carefully checked, no one would know he was carrying the pill.

"So the results for the testing, how were they?" Gryfor asked Ardor of the testing that had occurred today. He was interested in if any talented nobles were able to pass on the first day.

Ardor pulled a booklet from his pocket. Written inside were the results for the testing of Aura for all the captives.

"Today, 46 captives had died in their cells. 17 were injured in the testing process. 35 were able to pass during their first testing period. An additional 18 from other periods were able to pass as well. One man in particular is a single leap away from the Warrior realm." Ardor closed his book and replaced it inside of his pocket. He waited for Gryfor to speak.

"Excellent. Have those 35 captives return to the Hospital for the guards. Have each of them 'donate' one pint of blood. Upon completion, have the head officer there send the entire supply to my office." Gryfor was very happy. So many nobles had passed on the first try. Their Lifeblood must be very powerful.

Gryfor had been stuck at Aura Saint level 7 for as long as he could remember. He was still in the best time to advance. Simply put, he wasn't able to comprehend what he needed to do to advance. Then he learned about Lifeblood Refining Arts.

By using the Lifeblood of various talented bloodlines and individuals and refining them, they can be used to improve one's own Lifeblood. Breakthroughs would become simpler, and bottlenecks could very well vanish. Such conditions would spike the interest of any cultivator.

The problem? Using this Lifeblood Art had high requirements. One had to be of the Saint rank. One also need to extract enough blood, around 4 gallons of it. Third, one needed very fine control over their own Aura.

Lastly, one had to prevent themselves from being caught. Every nation in the Madrag Continent, every force that lingered in the lands, every clan and sect that called this continent home all agreed that such a technique was purely evil, and forbade anyone from practicing it. The few that were willing to risk it and were caught had been tortured, then had their Aura training forcibly destroyed, forcing the person to lead the life of a commoner before dying of old age and starvation.

The risk was high, but Gryfor saw it as worthwhile. If he carefully faked diagnoses with requirements for blood extraction and one day ascended in the Alberdan Army's ranks, he could easily hide his actions. At that point, he would be revered as a Lord, and the lives of lowly Warriors would become worthless compared to Gryfor's.

"Yes, sir." Ardor saw Gryfor's devilish smile and shuddered. He didn't know what this general was thinking.

"You may now leave." Gryfor motioned for Ardor to leave, satisfied with Ardor. He's carefully being molded bit by bit. I can now trust him not talking about what I am doing with the blood. It's so great to have a fearful pawn. Ardor bowed once more to Gryfor, then left through the double doors. His steps echoed along the hall.

Gryfor thought back to Primor's words before the old man died. He chuckled at remembering it.

Primor, can you see me now? It's a matter of time, old friend. I am so close to finding that beloved grandson Valence. One day, he will be mine.

Gryfor's smile gradually became dangerous. After all...your mortal grandson is already in my hands. Don't worry, old friend, he'll join you soon. After serving me with his Lifeblood, that is.

He laughed inside of the office, the joy in his voice scaring Ardor as he left the hallway. The frightened head of the guards dashed out of the hallway, his face grim at what was to come.

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