Chapter 54 Cheating Death – Hunted (Part 2)
Daichi opened his eyes.
Feeling temporarily confused, Daichi lifted his head and got into a sitting position as he looked around him.
He noticed the taller mare sitting near him with a slight expression of shock.
Looking down at his wounds, there were a lot of leaves and some sort of lotion lathered all over his left arm, side and hand.
The pain he felt was reduced to itching and discomfort.
Taking a deep breath Daichi realized he wasn’t feeling as crazed as he had been just moments before. Perhaps it was hours or days at this point, the mare had knocked him out.
Feeling at peace, Daichi realized he wasn’t angry at the bull spawns, upset at the others for leaving, the mare for knocking him out or even particularly confused as to what had happened.
“How long have I been out” Daichi asked with a detached indifference that surprised the mare.
Daichi sounded no different than she normally did. Taking a moment to calm her heartbeat, “A few hours. After I knocked you out for your own good, I found a place to hide and then treated your wounds with an ointment.”
Daichi simply nodded at her, pleased she’d answered his question and the question he was going to ask next, “Why knock me out?”
“The blood lust you were exuding… It was too obvious. The divine beasts began to give chase and it would have been a beacon to our location.” the mare answered calming herself down considerably.
Thinking back to the incidents earlier on, Daichi couldn’t get the image of the bull spawns out of his mind.
Their power was incredible. The amount of mana they must possess to use the ability they had and numerously must be immense.
Why was my skill ineffective though…? That’s a first…
“Do you know why my skill failed?” Daichi asked out loud not expecting an answer but receiving one none the less.
“No… But…” Looking at Daichi with a curious expression, the mare seemed to be hesitating on whether she should continue.
“Yes?” Daichi asked, one eye brow tilted upwards in curiosity.
“There seems to be something else inside of you.” the mare spoke softly.
“What?” Daichi responded slightly more perplexed than before.
“The bloodlust you exude. We noticed it a while ago, but weren’t sure. Occasionally you passively leak a twinge of bloodlust but it’s barely noticeable. Last night when it was in full effect we realized it wasn’t yours.” the mare answered, finally being less cryptic than before.
“What the hell does that mean?” Daichi asked getting more and more confused by her answers.
“I mean, the bloodlust you exude is not yours. There is something inside you releasing that bloodlust.” the mare responded plainly as if the answer spoke for itself.
Lost in thought, Daichi pondered her meaning.
How could the bloodlust not be mine if I’m the one letting it out? Something inside me? Is she saying there is something inside me releasing it? Someone or something else? What the hell does that even mean? How would I not have noticed it before if it were true?
Steeped in question after question, Daichi endlessly poured over this thought before coming to the conclusion that he could do nothing about it. He spend all of his time in meditation when he could and he had never felt something out of place.
If this was the cause for the bloodlust in the first place. How had he not realized any of this before?
Up to this point Daichi considered his behavior… He’d never been a risk taker, he’d never been a thrill seeker but from the day the gods awoke, he’d been doing things out of place for him. He took risks he never would have before and he enjoyed the near death experiences he’d had from day one.
Daichi considered how he’d always been bored and hoped for something exciting to happen to him, but nothing ever had. Once it finally did, he had thought nothing of his behavior attributing it all to the change in circumstances. Finally taking a moment to consider it all, he considered perhaps this had something to do with what happened when he’d blacked out and entered that weird place.
His status window and everything else had disappeared leaving him seemingly drifting in emptiness. Daichi had no answers so he didn’t bother asking the questions. Now that things seemed to be affecting his decision making, he reconsidered his stance on asking those questions.
Thinking about these questions with no clear answers, Daichi dismissed them thinking there was no point in wasting precious time pondering abstract things with no clear answers.
On the verge of beginning a new line of thought, he brushed it aside as he asked “Gave chase? How have they not found us?”
“I am using my mana to block our existence from the outside of this small zone.” the mare answered, her tone returning the bland indifference Daichi was accustomed too.
“You tried to do something to me as I was out of it. I felt it.” Daichi said, not accusing but merely stating a fact.
The mare stared at Daichi for a few breaths before responding without a hint of bashfulness or remorse in her tone, “Yes. I wanted to try and taste your mana. Keeping this skill up consumes a lot of energy, merely taking in natural mana will not be sufficient… But I didn’t expect your mana would be so strange…”
Staring at her while deciding if he should simply kill her, Daichi’s gaze broke away from her as he glanced down at his arm and the ointment on it.
Weighing her worth, Daichi asked “How was the meal?”
Finally glancing down and away from Daichi the mare took a moment before responding “I don’t think I can take your mana unless you let me… It was a first.”
“Well, maybe I’ll pop more than one cherry” Daichi thought mockingly.
Daichi’s thoughts wandered back to the bull spawn. Their ability was so amazing. He’d been entranced by those flames. There was something about them that seemed majestic, heavenly. It was no joke to say that they were beings with ties to the divine after what he had seen first hand.
Thinking back to how that one bull spawn had merely been playing with him, had it been serious he would have been dead several times over.
Considering this Daichi merely smirked as he ignored that feeling of mortality while his mind drifted.
Without intending it, Daichi had entered a natural state of meditation as he’d begun to think about the flames again.
Something about them had called out to him. Something had urged him, made him feel a need to attack and kill those bull spawn just as much as it was now giving him a sense of need and desire for those flames.
Within the recesses of his mind Daichi pondered over the mysteries of that seemingly divine flame the bull spawn used. It was far more extraordinary than any flame he’d ever seen. Something about it seemed almost sentient, as if it was helping a companion rather than a tool being created and used by another.
The more Daichi thought about the mysteries behind this flame the more lost he felt. Realizing he was trying to climb to the heavens in one go because of his need to solve this mystery. Daichi cleared his mind and in a calm space, decided to start one step at a time from the bottom.
He’d previously never thought about flames and mana and their connection despite being one of the most common attack based magics.
Now trying to start from the beginning Daichi considered what he knew about heat and flames. Trying to take a logical approach instead of feeling things out.
Daichi considered how fire is created by oxygen interacting with some sort of fuel or accelerant and heat being the intermediary. Heat are those building blocks vibrating really quickly.
He’d read that in an extremely old book in the library, which was made up from the theory of one of the old scholars from thousands of years ago. Unable to really understand any of the ideas in the book Daichi had all but disregarding most of the information he had read.
Instead Daichi considered that most people simply willed mana into creating something from nothing. Normally they had an attribute or a lot of mana control in order to these things.
Daichi had no practice regarding any of this so he began trying different things in his mind, willing mana in the space of his hand to gather around and undulate waves, the vibrations spreading out as he willed the mana to generate heat. Coming into contact with the air flames were created in his mind.
If it happened in his meditation it would happen outside. Feeling at ease with the simplicity in which he’d managed to create flames. Daichi realized a lot of things were possible despite a lacking of understanding as long as one had sufficient control over mana… But this would lead to a huge roadblock in the future.
Without a proper foundation there would always be a clear limit to one’s ability.
Deciding against continuing to the next step. Daichi began creating flames and having them disperse. Over and over Daichi repeated this process in an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the creation of flames. Instead as he continually repeated the process Daichi refined his control and will over mana.
Every time he repeated the process of creating a flame and then dispersing it, he would do it with more finesse, less wasted mana and less effort.
As he did so Daichi came to the understand that to truly gain some form of enlightenment or understanding of flames with such a repetitive process would take him a huge amount of time. Time he didn’t currently have. Instead he focused on how much ease he could perform the same task due to his increased control.
Focusing on the same task but doing so with the intension of refining his control instead Daichi progressively pushed himself into doing the same task if only slightly better every single time.
The more he did so, the more he gained.
As he completed this repetitive task Daichi realized his understanding of his own mana. The understanding he had of his own metaphysical space was growing wider. As if he had been staring at a picture for who knows how long, and suddenly more details had become clearer.
Coming to a stop Daichi came to the realization that mana could be employed in any number of ways, but the reason that his skill had not worked was perhaps because it had not affected the bull spawns in the first place.
Daichi considered whether their ability, their flames could have cancelled out his ability before it even reached them. If his skill worked by disrupting the mana flow inside of them, could the skill be countered by emitting mana outside of the body, like two forces cancelling each other out?
Considering this new line of thought Daichi felt like he’d had a sudden understanding. His skill, all skills had a fatal weakness.
Perhaps the only thing that would be effective if this were the case, would be to utterly overwhelm another skill with a stronger one. If his theory was correct, then the reason his skill failed was because the two forces did not cancel each other out, the amount of mana being released by those flames was stronger. Either there was more, it was stronger, or it was special. Perhaps all of it.
In which case, this was no different than any other principle of the world. The strong eat the weak.
Feeling at ease and hungry to increase his own strength Daichi opened his eyes.
The taller mare who had been keeping watch at the entrance of the cave was staring at someone.