Chapter 16 – Progress
Bloodlines and Spirit Power were very closely intermingled and complimented one another, but they were forever separated. Achieving success in one did not mean achieving success in the other. Achieving success in one did usually mean making it somewhat easier to achieve success in the other but only that, time and effort, potential and talent would always be requirements for greater success.
Reaching the Spirit Power realm meant gathering small amounts of spirit power from one’s own meditation and slowly accumulating it until one could move within their “meditation space”.
Linlin had been greatly impressed by Haru’s ability to achieve meditation so quickly, because usually it implied a certain talent. One that would mean he should have been able to reach this realm within months. Making him a super genius. He’d been disappointed as the days went by as Haru struggled to make any progress, but at some point the discouragement had turned positive. Linlin had become convinced that Haru was bound to reach this realm, and perhaps once he did he’d get a nice surprise, and even if he didn’t, Haru was guaranteed to reach this realm sooner or later.
A bloodline could be worthless or powerful. A worthless one still helping someone be more ‘useful’ than an average person. A powerful one being enough to make them dragons among men – perhaps even literally. Of course this was naturally because the stronger and better a bloodline the more likely one was to achieve successes on their bloodline meditation path.
This was something inherent. An unchangeable fact. Something similar to fate, it was like being born with certain colored hair or eyes. A product of their genes. Spirit power, albeit even more rare was less useful at face value but basically could be defined as ‘potential’ in so far as what its main uses.
Spirit power could allow them to control the elements, their bodies better and more efficiently, do magical and wondrous things… But even more than all this was a bombshell that changed these students’ outlooks completely; Through spirit power these students had learned that they could alter, control, and evolve their bloodlines.
This was a smaller city, and none of the students in this class were dragons among men so this was something like a thunderclap to their ears. Tinnitus-inducing. A game-changer. It even made Rodolph cry in the middle of class as he considered the possibility of no longer being a “pig-boy” and eventually “pig-man” when he got older for the rest of his life.
This was of course common knowledge to the educated and higher tiers of society, but teachers usually kept this information in their back pocket for when they believed their students were ready ‘for more’ or in order to motivate them when their spirits were low. Linlin was the type to push them one step forward and one step back, to keep them moving forward and motivated but not arrogant and lazy.
Immediately after giving them hope and inspiring them to spend more time meditating for those that could and to learn for those that still couldn’t, he also let them know the basic requirements for graduation:
Pass all cultural/history exams.
Develop a connection to one’s bloodline & proficiency that could be shown in one bloodline skill.
Special: Develop a connection to one’s spirit realm. The zone that one meditated in. (No explanation or guidance given towards this.)
Special: Manifest a partial bloodline transformation.
Although this was a huge blow, it wasn’t as bad until Linlin informed them with a solemn expression that they had to meet these requirements by graduation, and that failing to meet any of the possible options would mean not being allowed to enter any higher form of education that these students felt either crushed or as if a fire had been lit underneath them. Only one such student in the class had lost all motivation at that point, but Linlin expected as much. There were always a few children who had no will power and were so easily dissuaded, he didn’t bother with them as he knew they were bad eggs.
Of course, he also didn’t tell anyone these requirements were for any and all who only had embryonic, common, or rare bloodlines. Exceptions were always made for those who showed potential beyond their station… He also intentionally left out the grading system academies used for entering students believing they didn’t need to face the harsh reality yet…
“Anyways good luck, go for it. We’ll see who gets there first. Maybe we won’t even go for the same school after we graduate anyways. We’ll have to leave it to fate.” Will finally spoke after a long period of silence. It took him quite a bit of time before he’d stopped thinking about Lily and even more time to remember what they’d been talking about before.
Haru grabbed his things “You do your best.” Was all he said as he began to walk away. He already knew their paths led in different directions, and while he found Will a little annoying he did find it nice to have someone who actively tried to get to know him without asking for anything in return. If he only knew what Will was just fantasizing about though, that sliver of goodwill wouldn’t have been nearly enough to stop him from pummeling his possibly only friend.
He wasn’t in a rush and walked with a slow pace with little on his mind as he was trying to relax. Lately he’d been wound too tight, he’d been feeling the pressure of the upcoming graduation date and that had made his training exponentially harder as it came less and less naturally to him.
When he finally reached the school gates, he waited patiently as he knew today was a special day. Seeing her beautiful long hair and big warm smile, Haru noticed her even from a distance as he waved them over.
Today his mother and Lily were coming to pick him up. “Slow down before you trip and fall!” Haru yelled, and almost immediately after regretted bringing extra attention upon them.
Lily jumped into his arms and gave him a big hug. After three years, she’d only grown so much, she was still small, looking far younger than her actual age. She still looked like a nine-year-old girl, as if she hadn’t aged at all which had helped immensely…
She had beautiful dark black hair that went down past her waist, perfectly straight unlike Haru’s wavy hair. It looked nothing like their mother’s or father’s which made Haru a little jealous. It was strangely enough the only thing that seemed to have grown these past three years. Her skin pale, and eyes clear amber eyes particularly striking making her stand out any time she made eye-contact with somebody. Perhaps the most eye-catching feature was her smile, it was near hypnotic Haru thought as he smiled back at her on instinct.
After a quick hug and greetings Haru looked around them noticing his mother’s concerned gaze. “Let’s get out of here and go get some sweets okay?”
“Bakery! I want to go to the bakery!” Lily nearly squealed in delight at her brother’s suggestion.
“Alright alright. Let’s go then, teacher gave me some pocket money last week. We’ll get a bunch of stuff.” Haru said patting her head and putting his arm around her protectively. Eve came close on the other side with Lily in the as they walked away.
Recently, their parents had been letting Lily leave the house less and less making her feel like she was cooped up with nowhere to go. Haru felt a little bad, but he didn’t truly realize how bored she’d been because of the amount of training he did on a normal basis. He simply had virtually no free time to ever be bored or focus on things other than what he was already doing.
Two years ago Haru been surprised by their parent’s decision not to allow Lily to undergo the Bloodline Awakening ritual. It was surprising as it limited Lily’s future, but even more so because it was illegal. One of the biggest taboos on the continent. The law required all children to undergo the blood awakening ceremony. Even if they choose to do nothing with their bloodline in the future, they still had to undergo the ritual and have it ranked and on the record.
He couldn’t help but think about it as they entered a nearby bakery as Lily picked nearly one of everything.
Their actions had completely startled Haru until his father had made him promise to support their decision. He’d asked ‘why?’ repeatedly but his father had only said that he’d share everything with him when he got older, and stronger. Until then, to trust him.
What else could Haru do but trust his parents? He knew everything they did was for his and Lily’s benefit. So he could only grit his teeth and bear it. Making him feel small and unhelpful but unable to stop from acquiescing to their request.
He wasn’t happy with their decision but ended up trusting them, and one year ago while they were walking together to Erith’s “dojo” they’d been attacked by three assailants. They’d been wearing black with masks covering their faces, they had put Eve to sleep with some sort of sneak attack powder catching her completely unaware, leaving Haru to fight them off. He’d been wounded fairly badly, but he’d held them for nearly a minute and Erith had arrived in time to save them. It was made abundantly clearly that they had attacked with the intent of kidnapping Lily which had completely terrified all of them.
Except it became obvious soon after that Haru was the only one who did not know why. He’d managed to only spend a few days recuperating thanks to Erith’s incredible ointments and elixirs which had shocked Haru into realizing how multitalented his teacher truly was.
It was that day that his resolution had been further strengthened to obtain more power.
Now looking at Lily’s happy smile, it made it all seem unimportant.
‘I’m just going to do the best I can, and protect you.’ Haru thought to himself watching Lily smile at them and his mother’s happy demeanor he hadn’t seen in quite some time.