GOTA Book 1 Chapter 22
"Aeron, you should sleep. I'll continue from this moment." Mithal clasped his brother's shoulder, his eyes full of care. Aeron was younger and his Aura training was still quite low. Aeron's eyes were tired as they needed rest. They had been infusing Aura into Mona's body for almost 36 hours, and exhaustion crept on Aeron's body faster than his.

"I can keep going." Aeron showed a slight increase in focus as his Aura entered into Mona's body slightly more than before. However, sleeplessness eventually won Aeron over as his Aura began to dwindle and eventually disappear. He fell asleep, sitting on the bed, his head laying across his brother's shoulders.

"Sigh." Mithal carried Aeron next to the sleeping Reithar. He inwardly praised the Lord-ranked technique Mona had given each of them. Not only has our training progressed, but even Reithar's upper arm has been fully recovered to his elbow. 

Although Reithar's upper arm was slightly swollen and its veins visible, Mithal knew that in about one day Reithar would have his arm back. Looking back towards Mona, he remembered that all the Aura that entered Mona's body disappeared without a trace. He truly didn't know where it went. If the Mortal Curse not only prevents training in Aura but also consumes it, wouldn't that mean Mona would revive at a much later date?

His gaze shifted back to the half moon in the sky, its translucent beams gracing his face. Quietly his body gave in to fatigue as he laid next to his brother and Reithar. The wooden bed squeaked and creaked out the pressure of the three, but managed to hold.

Soon after Mithal had drifted off to slumber, Mona's body trembled once again. His face showed signs of pain until finally he opened his eyes.

"When did I...go to sleep?" Mona tried to turn his head, but intense pain radiated from his neck. He cringed at the feeling of his muscles being torn apart.

Mona took a deep breath, giving up on trying to turn his head. He switched his gaze to the moon outside, rays striking his cheeks. Sigh. That night. Mona remembered Oscar and Valence disappeared with the special scroll in that field. They were the last traces of the Aurum family. Where they went off to, no one knew. Mona hadn't seen them in this prison, but that didn't mean they couldn't be elsewhere.

Mona examined his body, noticing that he was no longer bleeding inside, to his relief. His organs were still damaged, but were set back in their original places. Bone fragments were being held together by small links made out of Aura. As for his Aura meridians, they had already been reconnected.

So when an Aura practitioner gets injured, their channels are repaired first? Interesting. Mona looked towards the blockage in his stomach caused by the Mortal Curse. The walls of his meridians were clean of the disease, and the blockage was reduced to being only 1 1/2 inches thick.

It's only a matter of time. His gaze shifted back to the Bubble treasure in his left hand. As he let his consciousness grace the Bubble, he saw that the cloak had changed back to the form it had back in the Aurum manor.

Black like the void. White like a planet made of Aura. A brush signifying an ancient and tranquil power. Runes covered the entirety of the cloak. If this was a Creation, then it was far more advanced than the Swarm Creation that held everyone from escaping.

Does this shift with the Moon? Mona wasn't able to tell. Let alone examine this cloak, he wasn't even able to touch it. The Bubble treasure acted like a glass vault. He could see what was inside, but it was locked away from him until he could reach a suitable level in Aura.

His gaze shifted back to the Aurum ring, the small gem still flickering with light. The small ball of fire was intense, as if the only thing that kept it from burning Mona was the ring itself. As his gaze covered this accessory, he realized it was incomplete. The ring had four spaces, and the ball of flames only occupied one.

Is this treasure even more grand than I thought before? The ring glowed with a reddish glow similar to the miniature sun that was inside of the gem. It seemed to agree with Mona's thoughts, as if to guide him on how to proceed with completing the ring.

The Bubble treasure, on the other hand, had different ideas. It broke the connection Mona had with the two treasures, forcing his consciousness out.

At least no one can sense this Bubble. Mona remembered as Jaspen, Ardor, and many others had used their Aura to scan Mona's body. No one was able to discover any of the treasures inside of him. It confirmed his earlier thoughts; the Bubble is able to avoid detection by at least Aura Warriors. Such an item was incredibly profound indeed.

All things are of primal beginnings; the beginning is the core of all. Although Mona couldn't shift his body according to the methods of the Aura technique, he was still able to condense Aura. The only problem was the rate was increasingly slower, almost by three times.

Just like routine, he sent the mass of Aura into his Bubble treasure, regaining another strand of refined Aura in its place. He couldn't help to think about how long it would take him to refine all this Aura with his own meridians clogged by the Mortal Curse.

My body, or the blockage? Mona decided to instead break the blockage in his body for two good reasons.

First, if he broke the first blockage, he would be able to train Aura. Specifically, he would be able to become an Aura Mortal Level 1. That in itself had great benefits. He would be able to condense Aura twice as fast as now, and also be able to store a small amount for use. Doing so can help serve him in the future.

Also, he had used the Primal Fold technique earlier by force. One was only able to activate the first form of it at Aura Mortal Level 1. If he reached that level, he would be able to avoid the effects. No one but Mona knew why he was injured. It wasn't because of Taizen's assault. That only caused him moderate pain and a portion of his internal bleeding.

Rather, it was the backlash from the Lord-ranked technique that caused his body to be completely destroyed. By utilizing the technique at that moment, Mona was able to convince the crowd that the reason why he was so severely injured was because of Taizen's blow.

The other reason had to deal with something similar. If Mona was to repair his body at this moment, it would draw suspicion from the Varlier brothers. He wouldn't be able to explain, let alone speak about how his body had fixed itself. Normally, such an injury would take a minimum of 7 days to heal with Aura.

If he was able to have a completely healed body ahead of that time, wouldn't that be no different then telling everyone he had a rare treasure on him? No one would believe if he lied about a superhuman physique; his body was afflicted with the Mortal Curse, the bane of any human trying to train in Aura. It earned its name from being considered a curse that forces the afflicted to be a mere mortal, without any means of a cure.

As Mona struck away at the blockage in his first meridian, it gradually became the thickness of one inch. Progress was piling up, and eventually he would be able to break through.

The moon had already sunk beneath the horizon, replaced by the sun in the sky. Dawn covered the landscape, and a slight wind blew into Mona's cell, calming him. It's been 10 days...

How long before I can leave? Before I can find Father? Before I can...return the Alberdan royal family this debt of blood?

He simply didn't know. It's been 11 days since his rite of passage into adulthood. 11 days since he became sixteen.

*****

Brog continued to nurse his wounds. As the guard of the Thorn Dungeons, his work was quite simple. Watch the prisoners. Force the violent ones to quiet down. Check if they smuggled in goods.

It gave him and his family great benefits. All he had to do was use his greater strength to keep the many prisoners in line. It paid well, and in a few more months he would be done with his mandatory enlistment in the Alberdan Army. Luckily for him, he was enlisted during the capture of the Great Basin Province, hence he would be branded as a war hero without being on the frontlines.

He couldn't wait to go home. To eat his mother's delicious cooking again. To snuggle with his wife in those long nights. To help his daughter go to school. Sigh. She was only an infant. She should be learning how to train Aura by now.

In the midst of thinking all of this, Brog heard footsteps descend from the stairs.

"Why is he here?" His voice sounded pained, his breathing grew heavy. He knew those heavy footsteps as if his life was on the line. It's that animal. His face grew grim as he remembered all those strikes.

Ardor walked down the steps, a devilish smile on his face. Although Ardor couldn't pass off as handsome as Brog, he didn't vent in public. Instead, he did it in the Thorn Dungeons, a place only he and General Gryfor had access to enter. Here he could revel in watching that charming face of Brog's bleed under his boots.

"Dungeon Guard Brog?" His voice sounded like a senior officer, but carried a hint of joy. That hint of happiness didn't escape Brog's ears. Fear blanketed his body as he thought of the worst.

"Head Guard Ardor. What brings you here to the Thorn Dungeons?" He tried to remain courteous to the freak in front of him. Among the guards, he had learned that this psycho had the backing of the Warden, ensuring his success. The madman was also respected for his ability to maintain the prison, earning rises through the ranks under the previous wardens of Darkthorn Prison.

He wanted to assault Ardor with all his might, even if he knew he would lose. This fiend had attacked him time and time again, regardless of giving Brog of a reason. Did I make an enemy in my past life, and he is returning justice now?

"It must be really nice." Ardor continued to smile at Brog, his voice chilling Brog's bones.

"Nice, sir?" Brog replied back, trying to remain comfortable. Go away. Go away!

"Nice of you to be able to leave in 4 months. After all, that's when your mandatory period as an Alberdan soldier will be over. You'll be able to go home and enjoy your mother's cooking, your daughter's hugs....and your wife's bed?" Ardor's words may have seemed casual, but Brog had learned to well through his numerous beatings when Ardor was being "casual" and when he was being "venomous."

Ardor had walked closer to Brog this whole time, the words resonated in Brog's mind. Don't tell me he did something to them?

"Don't fret, Brog. Ever since your days in training you were always the same. A nervous wreck. That's why when the previous Warden didn't know where to put you, I gave you this position. I knew you wouldn't be able to handle walking the guard posts on the walls of the prison, or watch the prisoners." His words lost their previous joy as he confided in Brog about his enlistment position.

That seems true. Brog calmed down, his pulse returning to normal. He didn't like this fellow, but Brog knew that from Ardor's words he wasn't going to be beaten again.

"I came because I wanted to ask you about that fellow named Jaspen." Ardor spoke to the point, his gaze facing the dungeons.

"That old blacksmith with the backing of the Alberdan noble? The one who was locked with the Aurum child?" Brog's thoughts went back to when he was locking up the old man named Jaspen Arkway. The noble from the Faulkner family was present, and had given strict orders that he was to be left alone.

"Did you notice if the blacksmith had the technique on him?" Ardor's voice once again carried the happiness from earlier, a sinister smile on his face.

"I-I didn't check for fear of offending the noble." Brog's voice trailed off as he came to a realization. "Don't tell me th-that you..." Brog's face became pale. If Ardor came for the technique, he would be in grave trouble.

Under strict orders by the noble was he to protect the old blacksmith. If the old man showed or told of mistreatment in any manner, Brog's entire family would be at risk of dying by association to the fifth degree. And if the technique the blacksmith had was stolen, then it would be to the seventh degree. If it was found out Brog let the perpetrator walk freely, anyone related to him to the ninth degree would be executed.

"Don't worry Brog. I am not going to take his technique. I just have a few questions for the old man...related to it. Coming?" Ardor walked towards the main gate of the dungeon, his voice echoing throughout the hallway before he looked back to Brog.

If I'm there, I can stop him at the worst moment and save myself. If I leave him, who knows what this psycho will do to the old man? Brog made up his mind, pulling a large set of keys from his side pocket.

His feet thumped against the dungeon flooring. "I'm coming!" Brog walked towards Ardor, the main key slowly opening the dungeon gates. After three turns clockwise followed by a quarter left turn, the rigid gate opened once more.

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