Paragon of Destruction

Chapter 14 A Breath of Wind

Chapter 14 A Breath of Wind

When Arran reached the training hall, he found no one inside. Of course there was no one there, he thought — he did not know the time, but the sky was dark and the monastery grounds were empty. It would be either very late at night or very early in the morning.

He briefly considered heading to the cottage where Adept Kadir lived, but then rejected the thought.

While he was eager to show Adept Kadir his newly opened Wind Realm, he very much doubted the man would appreciate being woken up in the middle of the night.

After a moment's thought, he headed to the room where he had stayed before he was sent to the Realm Opening Cell. It was in one of several buildings that housed the monastery's initiates, and as he entered he took care not to wake the others.

He found his own room empty, with the bag that held his belongings placed in a corner. The room itself was not much different from the one where he had opened his Wind Realm, but it was more spacious and less austere, with a larger bed and several drawings hanging on the walls.

Although he wasn't tired, he decided that he should try to get some sleep. The next day, he thought, would be a demanding one. Adept Kadir would certainly want him to test his new Realm, and after that, he would probably have to spend most of the day training.

He got in the bed, closing his eyes and pulling the blanket over himself.

Although he had planned to sleep until morning, after only a short time he found that with the excitement of opening a new Realm still fresh in his mind, sleep would not come easily.

As he lay in the darkness his thoughts kept turning to his newly opened Realm, and he was impatient to use it and discover what it could do.

Finally, accepting that he would not be able to sleep that night, he got up and took a seat at the small desk that stood in the room. He took a candle and put it in front of him, then used a sliver of Fire Essence to light it.

After that, he set to work, trying to draw his Wind Essence into his hand, the same way he did with his Fire Essence before throwing fireballs.

At first, his progress was slow. Although he had a fair amount of experience in using Essence by now, the Wind Essence was still new and foreign to him, and he struggled to control it.

Yet as he continued to try, his control over Wind Essence improved steadily, and after less than an hour, he succeeded in guiding it into his hand.

Eagerly, he began work on his next step, which was to use Wind Essence to extinguish the candle.

His first few attempts failed, and once, when he thought he had succeeded, he realized after a moment that he had accidentally blown out the candle while huffing in exertion.

More attempts followed and soon he succeeded, for real this time. Holding his hand half a pace away from the candle, he produced a small gust of wind that blew out the flame.

He lit the candle once more and repeated the feat. This time, success came a little faster. Again he tried and again he succeeded, faster still.

Barely half an hour later, he was able to draw out the Wind Essence in just a few breaths' time. That was still nowhere near as fast as he could draw out his Fire and Shadow Essence, but the speed of his progress astounded him.

Encouraged by his rapid achievements he wanted to try drawing out a larger amount of Essence, but he knew he could not do so in his room. Not without risking waking the others in the building, at least.

With a thought, Arran got up, then quietly left the building, heading back to the training hall. The sky was still dark and the grounds still empty, and as he expected, there was no one in the training hall.

It was dark inside, and he used Fire Essence to produce some light to find the torches that hung from the walls. As he lit them, an idea entered his mind.

He took a position about three paces away from a lit torch, then focused his attention and gathered all the Wind Essence he could in his hand.

When he had mustered as much as he could, he launched it at the torch, using the same technique he used for fireballs, using Wind instead of Fire Essence.

The torch flickered as if a slight breeze had hit it.

It wasn't much, but Arran was encouraged by the sight. He remembered how slow his progress had been when he first used Fire Essence, and he could tell that this time, his experience would allow him to advance much faster.

In the hours that followed, Arran's control of Wind Essence increased with leaps and bounds. He succeeded in extinguishing the torch at three paces, then at five paces. Eventually, he managed to blow out the torch at ten paces, and he could feel that he was close to his limit.

Already, he knew that the Wind Realm would prove invaluable the next time he saw combat. Even now, using it would allow him to throw an opponent off balance, if only for a moment.

The memory of his battle against the bandits was still vivid in his mind, and he understood that in a fight, a moment's stumble could be the difference between life and death.

He was about to make a final attempt to extinguish the torch when suddenly, a voice sounded.

"When did you open your Wind Realm?"

Arran turned around with a start, finding Adept Kadir behind him. He did not know how long the man had been there, but from the serious expression on his face, Arran could tell that he had seen enough.

"Last night," he answered.

"You opened your Wind Realm in less than a week, and after a single night, you can do… that?" Adept Kadir gestured at the torch.

"I practiced most of the night." Arran knew it wasn't much of an answer, but there was nothing else he could say. Without telling Adept Kadir about his forbidden Realm, there simply was no good way to explain his rapid progress.

"Did anyone else see you?" Adept Kadir asked, a hint of worry on his face.

Arran shook his head. "I was here by myself."

"Good," Adept Kadir said. "We must see Grandmaster Windsong. Immediately."

"Immediately? But I thought Grandmaster Windsong and Master Fireheart were, eh, indisposed?" Arran still remembered what Adept Kadir had told him a week earlier.

"Indisposed or not, this cannot wait." Adept Kadir's expression was grave. "If this gets out, the Academy…" He shook his head, as if he was unwilling to finish the thought.

Arran silently cursed his own carelessness. Just a few weeks without Master Zhao at his side, and he had already done something that could have drawn the attention of the Academy.

For now, he was not overly worried — both Master Zhao and Windsong already knew about his forbidden Realm, and it seemed he could trust Adept Kadir not to inform the Academy.

Yet he understood that if he was to escape the Academy's notice in the future, he would have to be far more careful.

With a sigh, he followed Adept Kadir out of the training hall.

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