Reithar's eyes flickered with joy. He couldn't wait until Mona's health was back in place. He quickly gave his thanks to the Varlier brothers.
Aeron looked out towards the courtyard, seeing Joseph passing out meals again. His stomach lurched at the thought of eating. I haven't eaten in days. Once he heard the jingle of the guard's keys as they opened the nearby cells, he couldn't hide his happiness to go and eat.
Mithal looked towards the other two with a frown. He sat on the bed besides Mona's body, contemplating.
Reithar looked at Mithal, confused. "Mithal, what's wrong?"
"Reithar, I think you should watch Mona." Mithal's face was solemn, his words carrying a heavy pressure.
"Brother, why does Reithar have to?" Aeron looked back to Mithal. All three of them haven't eaten in several days and nights, and now Reithar had to wait another day.
"Do you remember Taizen? Yesterday during the meal distribution I went and asked his friends why he went berserk?" Mithal looked at Reithar and Aeron, recounting the day before.
"And?" Reithar didn't know what Mithal was leading to. He stayed on the bed, using the Primal Fold technique to regenerate the cells inside of his arm.
"They eventually told me that Ardor and the other guards had conducted a search in their cell. Taizen was still laying in the bed during that search. Afterwards, they found him fully recovered." Mithal continued, his words becoming ever more heavy.
"Then that means?" Aeron felt a bit frightened by what Mithal's words meant. He looked towards Mona, a trace of pity in his eyes.
"It means that the guards likely feed Taizen something that healed him, but also made him go on a rampage. Hence, I want Reithar to at least be present if they come. Besides..." Mithal pointed towards the remaining stub of Reithar's arm.
"That's not healed yet. If we ever get into conflict during meal times again, you would need your arm fully restored. If you still want food, you can have a share from the bread we'll get." Mithal clasped Aeron as he rose up. He proceeded to bring him towards the front of the cell.
Aeron felt distress over the situation. We're all skin and bones. How can we share a meal now? Doesn't brother see my beautiful frame is now so thin?
As if he could read minds, Mithal looked towards his brother with a smile. "Don't worry Aeron. There is always a meal passed out at night. You can have a share of mine." He rubbed Aeron's scalp, shaking Aeron's short brown hair.
Reithar watched as Mithal and Aeron left for the courtyard. He sat in the cell, looking towards Mona and his arm. All he had left to regenerate was from the middle of his lower arm to his hand.
Three more days before Mona wakes up. He looked out into the sky, seeing the few clouds hanging in the air. Back when it rained, what was it that we used to play? He shook his head.
I can't think of games anymore. I need to heal my injuries quickly. He looked back to Mona and smiled. Soon after, he began to cultivate the Primal Fold technique in the lotus position, sitting in meditation as his arm slowly grew.
Mona opened his eyes, surveying his surroundings. Aeron and Mithal left to eat, and Reithar is training. Good. No one will notice. He lifted his head, and to his surprise felt he could turn it both ways. The injuries were gradually subsiding.
What to do? Hmm. He examined his own body, taking notice of his injuries. His bones have largely been reconnected, his arteries whole once more. The only problems left were reconnecting his nerves and resetting his organs back in place. It would take about 3 more days.
His stomach grumbled ever so slightly. Mona hadn't eaten in several days. Although he was able to fend it off using the Varlier brothers' Aura infusions, it could only keep him from feeling hunger for so long. After all, he was still a mortal.
All I can do is hope to get a piece of bread at night. His stomach only continued to rumble louder. Mona couldn't wait for the day he wouldn't have to eat again as a higher ranked Aura practitioner. In these situations, hunger could be troublesome.
His consciousness went back to his Bubble, the cloak and ring ever more beautiful. He wondered when he could wear both, and what each of them could do. Such treasures were bound to have grand effects, no?
Mona looked back towards Reithar, his thoughts on Taizen. Was it true that the guards feed Taizen a forbidden item, and thus he went on a rampage? His eyes flickered with concern.
If there is someone targeting me after all, I need to stay focused. Who knows when they'll commit a 'search' in this cell next. He had to keep watch over anything coming in contact with his body. His hatred for the Alberdan guards only continued to grow.
Channeling the Primal Fold technique, Mona gradually formed another strand of Aura and refined it. Instead of doing this over and over, I should get rid of it inch by inch. He quickly channeled the technique again, adding another strand of refined Aura to the previous one.
Over time, the strand of refined Aura continued to grow. From the thickness of a hair to the thickness of a piece of yarn, each addition only added to its pulsating energy. Mona kept at this pace for half an hour until he marveled at his creation.
The strand of Aura was now as thick as a piece of refined Aura, except it was hundreds of times more pure. A thought flickered in Mona's mind. Can I refine this even further? He set out to test this idea.
Using his consciousness, he guided this refined strand of white Aura towards the Bubble, waiting for a reaction. After countless failed attempts, Mona tried wrapping the length of the Aura strand around the Bubble, succeeding.
The Bubble grew ever so slightly and glowed with the color of Aura. After, the Bubble shrunk back to it's original size, only to eject a strand the thickness of a hair. The only difference in this strand was it glowed with a dim reddish light.
What does this do? Using his consciousness, he urged the strand of red Aura towards his Mortal Curse. Once the strand touched the blockage, it disappeared. Mona frowned. All that work for nothing?
The blockage then began to shudder. Before Mona's examination, the entire wall disintegrated into countless pieces. All of this poured back into the Bubble in Mona's left hand, adding to its glow.
Finally, the first blockage of Mona's Mortal Curse was destroyed. Mona quietly trained the Primal Fold technique, using this new meridian in combination with the Bubble. The Aura was first formed, then sent through the Bubble, and finally through this single Aura meridian.
The meridian in his stomach allowed the strand of purified Aura to pass through as it returned back to a space in his body. Is this the Aura Core?
Whenever an Aura practitioner trains in Aura, it would be stored in a part of their body called the Aura Core. All existences had this area, but few were able to wield it to its full potential. Like a small battery, it stored the Aura energy stored from countless training sessions of the user.
The Aura Core was usually shaped according to the Aura technique used. Hence Mona's Aura Core was Lord ranked from the beginning. That meant if he switched to a lower ranked technique he would no longer have any benefits, unless he destroyed his progress to form another Core.
Mona's Core was Lord ranked, but was made of a single strand of Aura. It's size was barely visible to him, and unless he focused his concentration he couldn't tell if it was there. Sigh. At long last.
Mona thought back to the ceremony that tested his Aura capability. He remembered it all, his mother sobbing over him, his father crying on his knees, the crowd shifting from joyous laughter to shock and horror. Mother, Father. I've done it. He couldn't help to say those words in his heart. No one better understood his troubles then himself.
He looked towards the second blockage of the Mortal Curse, the meridian centered in his chest. That strand of red Aura was able to get rid of one inch in my first Aura meridian. But this blockage is more thicker, and it feels more dense. He took the strand of Aura from his Aura Core, leaving a small empty solid in its place.
The strand struck at the second blockage, and disappeared. It left behind a hairline strike. So only red Aura is going to do any damage from now on. At least I have my first meridian. With his first meridian unblocked, Mona would be able to create a red strand of Aura in half the time. A smile could not help to creep over his face as he thought of having all ten meridians cleared of his illness.
At this point, the sun began to set. With it, the various prisoners of the courtyard moved back to their cells. Some had gloomy expressions as they held their stomachs. Their bodies held little energy as they tried to prevent starvation from claiming their lives.
Mithal and Aeron came back to the cell, in their hands a loaf of bread. They looked at Mona before going towards Reithar.
Upon their entrance, both Mona and Reithar stopped training Aura. Mona resumed his false unconsciousness, giving off the sight of being injured. He couldn't tell anyone about his achievements.
Reithar looked at Aeron's depressed face. "Little Aeron, what's wrong? Don't tell me you lost your food?" Over time, Reithar had begun sharing Mithal's right to be an older brother to Aeron. Neither of the Varlier brothers rejected his actions. In the future, this could be true anyway.
Aeron looked at Reithar, his face seemingly unconcerned. "Here." He turned his head away as he passed half of his loaf to Reithar.
My precious bread! Aeron cried deep inside his heart. He wanted to eat this for himself, but his brother convinced him to share with Reithar. Even if he was convinced though, that didn't mean he didn't feel distress.
Every time Reithar chewed, Aeron couldn't help but cringe. His meal was being eaten right before his eyes. When we're free, I'll make sure he pays for my next meals. Only then did the pain in his heart subside.
Mithal broke his loaf of bread into two, one half of it being made into slices. He carefully broke off a slice and placed it in Mona's mouth. Holding the frail body in one arm and Mona's jaw with his other hand, he helped Mona slowly chew and swallow. From all his years of taking care of Aeron, his movements seemed natural as he helped Mona eat.
Reithar's arm had been regenerated up to his wrist, his hand the only part left to regrow. His training in the Primal Fold technique didn't grow his Aura level at all, as he used the generated Aura to regrow his arm. The process was simple, but it was also tedious and time-consuming. If I had a pill like before, perhaps it would be much easier.
His thoughts returned to when he was the young master of the Aboroff family. Getting a Regeneration Pill was costly, but not too much for him back in those days. Hiring a skilled pill master to make him a pill was as simple as breathing. Now he was stuck regenerating his arm.
His eyes flickered with appreciation of Mona. If you didn't give me the Primal Fold technique, how long would it have taken me? Reithar didn't think he would have made as much progress within 4 days. At best, the Alberdan technique would have regenerated only a part of his upper arm over the same time.
The Varlier brothers and Reithar resumed as before. Reithar continued to heal his injury, and the Varlier brothers charged more Aura into Mona.
Mithal examined Mona's body, taking note of how easily his injuries were healed. He thought that Mona may be training in the Primal Fold technique as well, but didn't test his idea.
With his Mortal Curse, he shouldn't be able to train. And if he is, perhaps he doesn't want us to know. Or maybe there is a cost to it. It's better I don't ask him until we leave. If he is training in secret, it could help us in the long run.
While the moon limped back into the sky, Mithal remembered that he was only helping Mona to earn a favor later on. As to what that favor was, only Mithal knew.
Father said we were exiled from the Seafoam Federation long ago. I must return. Mithal's conviction grew stronger as he looked at Mona. And this noble just may lead us there.
Clouds in the night sky hid the pale moon, casting darkness on everything below. From the shadows of the moonlight, it was already long past midnight. The guards switched their shifts with the sight of the moon, torches lit throughout the prison.
Aeron and Reithar were the first to pass out from exhaustion, and Mithal fell asleep next to them. The bed they slept on creaked with greater intensity, as if it would break any moment. Mona felt his mind grow weary as he trained in Aura before drifting into slumber with the others. Sunrise was only a few hours away.
Deep within the Thorn Dungeons, Ardor stood next to Brog in front of a cell, waiting for Jaspen to wake up. Ardor's eyes flickered with frustration. Just how long is this old man going to sleep?