The Path of the Aura: Intertwining Crossroads

Chapter VIII (8): The Dormant Beast Within Me

Location: 20N, 40E (Village)

Date: January 1st, 60 A.D.

Time: 11:45 AM

Sable smoke filled the sky faster than a sandstorm could ever hope to. Devastating conflagrations burned most of the buildings of the villagers to ash, while others remained mostly intact, for the time being. The cause of the fires was from the fire arrows that the Roman soldiers utilized. Most of the original legion of 500 was still standing and stalwart, while the village rebellion was gradually withering away in numbers.

Mars, the Roman General assigned by the Roman Emperor to lead this legion of soldiers, stood watching, with a frustrated countenance.

One of his fellow soldiers approaches him. "Sir, is something the matter?" The concerned subordinate asked his superior.

"It's not here," Mars said, looking feverishly at the small village's limited residences. "The one that spared my life in battle… I don't see it anywhere."

"I can't imagine why it matters so much to you. You said that it practically had your life in its hand," The soldier said. "Why do you wish to encounter it again?"

"Revenge," Mars gripped the handle of his sheathed sword by his right side. "I want revenge on that bastard. I want to fight it to the death, the next time I see it. I deem it worthy of my presence, and I'll kill it when we meet again."

"I seriously doubt it'd be here after your last visit one month ago. Who knows how far it could've wandered from this village."

"I'm well aware of that, underling!" Mars scowled. "However, if it's not here, I'll just continue with the mission, replacing it and killing Eduardo, whom appeared from nowhere to be amongst us today."

Mars smirked and unsheathed his sword, a mid-length sword of three feet, double-edged and forged proficiently.

"He appears incapable of using his power today, much to my luck today. I'll behead him with my sword and claim his alien belongings as my own." He smiles widely, like a cheerful chimpanzee, and looks at the sky momentarily. "I can see it now. I'll put his head and his items on my house's walls, trophies for which I can gaze on between every mission that I'm assigned!"

When Mars begins to cackle to himself, the soldier had this to say.

"Don't you think you're in over your head? Both it and Eduardo are freaks of nature, far too powerful for any ordinary human to defeat. Both of them are malignant to be around. I recall you saying that when you fought it a month ago, you were spared your life and given its entire name out of pity. If you almost died against it, what makes you think that Eduardo, be he restricted or not of his abilities, will likely show you any mercy?" The soldier spoke sagaciously, with the intelligence and experience of a man thrice his age.

However, as is common in society, intelligence is often smothered by imbecility.

"…" Mars was silent after hearing what his subordinate had to say, his anger about to overflow in one swift movement. With his sword in hand, he swung it lethally to the soldier's neck, with enough horizontal momentum to cut cleanly across and through the soldier's neck.

The soldier never saw the sword swing coming, and was beheaded in only a second. The head of the body of the soldier fell to the floor, while the body of the soldier toppled over afterward. Blood drained out of the soldier's neck, from both halves.

No other soldier said otherwise, or spoke against their commanding General, for they knew him well enough to not question his motives.

"With proficient swordsmanship like mine," Mars looked at the detached head of his disposable soldier, "Eduardo's head is fatalistically on my wall now, along with his equipment."

14.1: The Awakened Beast within Me

Location: Village (My Home)

Time: 11:54 AM

All three of us, Costas, Ian, and I, reached the surface of our house and exited through the entrance door. Our five eyes—two for each of my brothers, and my un-patched right eye—are instantly lured to the burning houses and local despair that surrounded us. The village rebellion, before our eyes, is easily subdued, with more than half of the village population dead or punctured by flaming arrowheads and set ablaze before toppling over themselves. Those that remained were all showing assorted signs of injury, some wounded enough to the point where they were unable to defend themselves against most of the stalwart Roman soldiers that remained.

The scene was so chaotic that all three of us—mostly Costas and Ian—were in shock at the destruction. I stepped twenty feet ahead of them both, automatically and with little awareness of my actions.

Costas and Ian, once they avert their eyes from this melancholy sight and notice my location, see me clenching my hands into fists rather tightly, with the collection of veins that I already had viewable on the backs of my hands swelling up with blood and stress. The rattling of my fists causes my brothers to assume that I'm enraged, which is seldom seen of my constitution.

Mars easily sees me from a distance and with his sword in hand, charges towards me thoughtlessly, more or less. All he had in his mind was "(I have you now, Eduardo!)".

Seconds go by before he comes within thirty feet of me, where he does the unthinkable.

Mars puts on the brakes and ingrains his heels onto the sand, standing motionless, eyes widened at my being. Costas and Ian, speculating that my clenched fists were a sign of rage, now witnessed otherwise.

My trembling fists began to resonate over to the remainder of my body, as if I was undergoing a muscular spasm. This trembling turns greatly abnormal when blood begins to dribble down my arms. The blood isn't simply present around my arms either. It begins to make itself present ubiquitously, seeping into my basic clothing with its quantity. My white shirt begins to turn sanguine, and the area of sand around my footing turns muddy with my blood.


But what's this! My blood begins to hiss like a snake. The reason is simple to Costas, Ian, and I. My blood is becoming acidic, transmogrifying itself to burn through almost anything.

The acidic blood begins to eat away at the eye patch over my left eye, as well as my entire wardrobe choice. It burns through my entire clothing, albeit slowly and in patches. The same blood that's dripping onto the sand on the floor, and even my skin, is burning away as well. The only thing that the blood doesn't burn through is my cutting-edge technology, and their respective holster/shoulder strap. The acidic blood expels white smoke as it is eating away at whatever it is burning, exhaust of both compounds.

The painful sensation I was currently feeling was equal to sousing myself in hydrochloric acid—a memory that I recall vaguely, when my stomach was virtually sliced in half by an artillery round. I found it difficult to breathe or scream, and was gritting my teeth to borderline fracturing them under the pressure of my jaws' bite force. My eyes were bloodshot and rattling uncontrollably.

I was in absolute agony.

Mars obtains a bow and an enflamed arrow from a fellow soldier nearby him. He lines up his shot and with a grin, fires the conflagration arrow at me. The arrow pierces my torso, wedging into my left ribcage and puncturing my left lung, all before melting away entirely from the acidic blood. Breathing became that much harder for me, especially since my blood caught on fire from the arrow, and I was quickly set ablaze.

My brain, my 10,000 I.Q. brain, was reduced to moronic levels of spastic thought. I was hardly able to mentally curse at my predicament. All I could do was to stand upright—through pure willpower—and endure the pain, the third-degree burns, the cramping of my chest wall from my punctured left lung, and the tremendous heat.

Costas, Ian, and Mars watched on at my constitution, with an odd mixture of unusual astonishment and utter dread, for they thought I should've been dead for now. Then again, I should've been dead through what I've endured before, from what they recalled of my past here.

Once the flame surrounded me entirely, the pain suddenly mollified to virtual nothingness when my heart stopped beating. "(What's going on with me?)" Was what I was trying to think, but was unable to.

The next thing I notice, my body begins to swell.

With what little nerve activity I had active for me, I could feel my bones and muscles changing shape. My tendons were growing with them as well. The agony of burning flesh mollified, almost as if I was losing skin to burn. Before I could make sense of this phenomenon, I felt a sharp sensation between both of my scapulas (shoulders) and my coccyx (tailbone). I could only tell from my shadow what was occurring behind me.

To my surprise, I notice two large wings and a fifteen-foot-long tail spontaneously emerge from my body. Their appearance struck a chord of nostalgia within me, one which wasn't damaged yet by the bodily inferno I was undergoing. The two wings and tail however, were on fire, but not burning, like my skin, simply because they had some acidic blood residue on them. My wings flop in front of my face, and I notice that they were scaled.

"(Oh…shit…)" I thought, with what little ability I had to at the moment, and with whatever willpower I could muster to do so.

I knew what I was becoming as I endured this. I'm undergoing a metamorphosis, into a dragon.

Below my eyes, I could see my face elongating and widening, right in front of me. My teeth sharpen and stick out externally and in an outward angle from my lengthened mouth. The back of my jaw grows several bone spikes as my neck elongates five times its normal length. Spines stick out of the back of my stretching neck, across the back of my spine, and stop two feet from the tip of my new tail. My fingernails and toenails grow thicker and longer, in conjunction with my enlarging hands and feet, which gradually grew more lizard-like, yet somewhat retaining a shred of their human-like shape.

Everyone whose eyes are locked on to my transmogrification watch on with assorted emotions and scattered thoughts.

Costas and Ian, showing the most concern over my well-being, wonder when my metamorphosis will end for me. After all, they see me now at more than twice my normal height, coiled up yet still upright, and dripping with burning acidic blood. They wonder why I'm not screaming my vocal chords into submission.

Or at least, they used to think that.

When my heart resumed beating, my head tilted to the sky and I finally let out a scream, a sharp scream of misery and pain, one that itself transmogrifies from a human wail into an ear-piercing, earth-rattling roar of a dragon. The scream triggered a powerful shockwave that originated from my position. The shockwave instantly knocks everyone back and douses all fires, my own and the house's fires, sparing either of us from further damage.

Humans fly across the sky and a cloud of sand conceals the entire village briefly. Costas, Ian, and Mars are knocked back the farthest, being the closest around me. Both of my friends find shelters when they're backs become pinned to the walls of their house, held in place for the duration of the shockwave.

Mars however, he sails back hundreds of feet backwards, along with the rest of his legion.

The villagers find shelter within their homes, albeit are astonished and frightened when they hear their homes rattle under my power.

The shockwave lasts for a full five seconds. Once it stopped, Costas and Ian slid down the vertical wall and onto the sandy ground below, stunned and barely able to control the rattling that their legs were doing. They're mildly shaken by the force of my shockwave and almost lose their balance in the process.

Mars and his soldiers, most of them, regain their footing and brush off their collected sand. The majority of them are just as shaken as Costas and Ian are, however their past martial training keeps their physical posture in check.

Everybody's ears are temporarily ringing and partially disabled, especially those of Costas, Ian, and Mars.

Once the sand resides back on top of the ground and the sand has been wiped off of most people's eyes, everybody gazed upon me at what I've become.

I was now a full-fledges dragon, albeit collapsed on top of my newly-formed clawed hands and legs, breathing heavily and expelling fire with each exhalation, regaining my severely damaged composure after the dreadfully malignant transformation I just underwent. My expanded heart pounded away at my new inner ears, and my enlarged left lung painfully struggled to mimic my equally-enlarged right lung in inflation, causing great internal discomfort. The acidic blood that I had remaining on me simply rolled off of my new scaly skin—apparently having emerged from underneath my burning layer of former skin—and burned away inside of the sand. The blood itself transformed as well, along with my new body, albeit much sooner than the rest of me.

My enlarged brain slowly returned to normal functionality and it was now that I realized something unusual about myself. Aside from transforming into what I fought ten-and-a-half years ago, I regained vision on my left eye. My eyes themselves, aside from doubling in size to match my new body, haven't changed in terms of color—they still remained ash black and human-like. Beside this, my strapped equipment remained completely unmarred, albeit smelled strongly of blood and melted tissue.

Unfortunately, my sense of smell was heightened drastically during my metamorphosis.

Blood continues to run out of my puncture would on my left ribcage, and would simply trickle down my clawed hand when I attempted to plug up the wound. Most of the muscle fatigue that I've endured—miraculously I might add—has partially abated. My wings and tail unsurprisingly lack that fatigue, regardless of what their dropped posture might lead people to believe, especially since they recently emerged from me and feel brand new biologically.

I only wish that my breathing would mollify, but perhaps I could correct this with my abilities.

Mars, once he locks eyes with me once more, grins at the sight of me. I lift my tired, massive head to see him from the distance and notice his evil countenance. I see him charging towards me once more, with his sword in hand. I'm able to estimate the time it would take him to close the gap in distance between us: sixty seconds.

Because my brain has stabilized after this demanding ordeal, I'm able to think rationally now. I recall how resilient I am to fatigue, albeit not entirely immune to fatigue. I simply tolerate it better than anybody else that I know, especially because of my phenomenal physical endurance. And even with my current state of fatigue, I attempt to focus my Elemental Aura abilities across my body, and find myself meekly surprised at how sudden they've returned to me.

On the other hand, I find it more surprising that this new body of mine isn't as surprising as I thought it would leave me.

Is it because I've encountered a dragon of similar form long ago? Or, less likely, is it because I've become this beast before, and have a faint recollection deep within my subconscious of this form?

Regardless of this unlikely nostalgia, I'll simply use these two weapons at my disposal to kill off the Romans: my draconic abilities and my Elemental Aura abilities.

My sixty seconds of thinking were up. Mars was now in front of me, jumping in the air with his sword in hand and behind his back, attempting to maximize forward momentum to bring his sword down on my head. However, I wouldn't give him this pleasure, especially since I thought these two key words while having my entire body and eyes spontaneously emanate Orange (Melee) Aura.

"(Martial Quicken!)"

Mars dropped his sword on his target—me—, and I was no longer in his path. Only a small cloud of sand drifted upward by the disturbance of his sword, not by my sudden evasion. He, Costas, and Ian were all flabbergasted at my speed, and wondered where I went.

14.2: The Awakened Beast's Rage

Location: Village (Outskirts)

Time: 12:03 PM

Where the Roman soldiers were most concentrated was the place that I chose to reappear. I appeared from below the sand, releasing another shockwave, only this time it was stronger. My roar was put into it, along with the power of my Light Green (Wind) Aura.

My aura dissipated after the shockwave and I found soldiers fifty feet above me, flailing their limbs to failingly reclaim their balance. The fall back to Earth, to some of them, crippled them, and instantly killed the fair amount of those that fell on top of their own weapons.

Quickly, I found myself surrounded by the soldiers behind the ones that I catapulted into the air. I begin to counterattack the soldiers daring enough to attempt to attack me. A few jabs to the face, claw swipes that removed facial features on contact, elbow jabs to the sternum, a broad wing-spin to topple legs, a roundhouse kick to shove away, and a tail swing to the neck were sufficient in keeping the soldiers at bay, until they decided to concentrate their numbers.

One soldier hopped on top of my back, and I grabbed his torso and threw him dozens of feet away. In his place, three more soldiers clung to my torso, pinning my arms in the process. Before I could flap my wings, more soldiers got on my back again, and their weight toppled me over to the sand.

Once I was entirely on the ground, they all begin to stab at me in random with the weaponry that they currently brandished. The pain I was feeling, surprisingly, was the equivalent of inserting a needle to draw blood. My scaly skin proved to be quite useful as a sword deterrent, since they were having trouble just getting through my dragon hide.

"(Aero Back Draft!)" I thought and my body brilliantly flashed Light Green (Wind) Aura once more. An explosion of wind followed forth and a dome of Roman soldiers existed within the air. The dome of soldiers stretched wider and wider across the air around me, before it collapsed and shattered onto the floor.

I found myself terribly fatigued, but quickly get back on my feet regardless and notice how feeble their attack was on my scaly skin. "(They didn't even draw blood,)" I thought, astounded at the strength of this new skin.

Mars watches on at my fury and orders the distant archers to open fire at me. The soldiers at a distance from me did so. In an instant, fifty arrows were fired in rapid succession and dug into my skin, deeper than the Romans' swords were able to, but not enough to pierce any vital organs. Blood was drawn, albeit in miniscule amounts. The arrows, feeling my acidic blood stain their arrowheads, dissolved on contact, fell onto the sandy floor, and disappeared outright. These wounds were the equivalent of having cactus spines pierce flesh, and my blood would coagulate and heal momentarily as I fight.

I appear to fall over in pain, but that was merely my vision fading away briefly due to fatigue. My dragon body begins to briefly glow Red (Fire) Aura, the moment the thought "(Pyro Pillar!)" enters my mind.

I fly upward in—as my thought suggested—a pillar of fire. The necessary flapping of my wings helps me remain airborne and hover above the Roman soldiers, 100 feet in the air. I begin to focus Yellow (Lightning) Aura in my mouth and breathe out lightning under the thought "(Electro Bolt Breath!)"

Static electricity quickly formed as I inhaled—painfully due to my collapsed lung injury—and when I exhaled, bolts of lightning quickly fired and fried the soldiers that it struck, welding their flesh onto their armor in a manner most painful.

Only the archers remain, and they resume firing arrows at me as I hover above them menacingly. I decide to fall back onto the floor, landing on a couple of archers in the process, crushing their skeletal structures under my greater mass and partially burying them into the sand.

The remaining archers are treated to one of my newer Elemental Aura Abilities: Light Blue (Ice) Aura. My mouth switches from emanating its current aura to Light Blue (Ice) Aura. My breath becomes visible due to flash-frozen vapor. The arrows that they fired at me were simply deflected by a potent combination of distance and my scaly hide.

As I inhale deeply—and reluctantly—, I ponder "(Cryo Frost Breath!)" When I exhale, I fire a concentrated white fog of below-freezing vapor that travels immediately to the archers. They are all frozen solid within seconds of intense cold contact that crystallized their beings.

To dispose of them, I simply walk over to their locations and strike one blow onto them, a downward swing of my arm. They shatter as if they were brittle glass, and blood seeps from their shattered flesh once it begins to thaw in the sunlight.

In case there were surviving Roman soldiers remaining, I scanned the area with both of my eyes, their vision sharpened considerably by my metamorphosis. No more Roman soldiers remain.

Before finishing off the only Roman remaining—the fearless Mars—, I consider healing myself of this bothersome collapsed lung injury by using a combination of Elemental Aura abilities. I would first utilize my Light Green (Wind) Aura ability to siphon the foreign air away from my lung cavity and then, with my finger acting as a plug for the hole in my chest, utilize my Green (Healing) Aura to rapidly heal my injury, this one and the ones I've sustained.

However, there was just one small problem with that.

Due to this transformation, I've found my Elemental Aura abilities to be at near critical levels, to the point where the abilities become malignant to my health if I sustained them for too long a time period. Complimented with my herculean levels of fatigue, I was hardly able to focus myself in using my abilities. I could see my field of vision warping in front of me, the rich colors that I was able to perceive blending together and staining each other.

I was at the point of falling over unconscious. However, I was suddenly snapped back into focus and fully alert of my surroundings.

The cause of this: a downward sword chop that Mars delivered onto the middle of my draconic skull.

The sudden jolt of this sword impact caused me to flap my wings forcefully. In doing so, Mars let go of the sword that was wedged onto my skull and we drifted apart by my powerful gale, about thirty feet each of us. The instant I stop moving backwards, the sword lodged onto my head fell off, covered in my acidic dragon blood and eaten away in seconds. The impact didn't dig into my head any further and only cut through the skin, stopping at the surface of the bone. The top of my head resembled a tear in the stitching of tight-fitting pants.

Disregarding the blood running profusely down my head and dripping onto the sandy floor below—melting away afterward—, I simply rubbed the top of my head. I felt how smooth the bare bone of my skull was, and I didn't show any signs of pain—due to my sheer tolerance to fatigue and pain—despite this laceration of all of the layers of skin. I simply growled softly.

In doing this, I noticed Mars look at me with an abnormal look of horror. He was weaponless, and retrieving another weapon before I intercepted him would fail, especially after how I took blows from arrows, fire, and swords, and emerged alive. He stood there and eyed me like a corned mouse ogled a cat. I eyed him too, and an odd thought emerged in my head, perhaps from the scratching I was doing on my naked skull.

"(Before killing him, I should toy with him one time)," I thought, having my turn at grinning devilishly this time. My grin was a wide scaly grin that brought out the nature of my massive white teeth. It made Mars step back in fear, almost falling over from the rubber-like properties that his legs were gaining.

I simply had my mouth flash briefly Fire (Red) Aura, thought "(Pyro Scorch Breath!)" and fired an amplified and concentrated fireball towards Mars.

I deliberately missed hitting Mars and fired at an area closely in front of his feet. An explosion of fire and sand flew up into the air around him, clouding his vision in a plume of dust. The shock of my attack caused him to reel back and fall on his rear end, where his fall was cushioned by a certain brown substance.

"(Oh God…)" Mars thought with apprehension. "(…I just crapped myself!)"

With the plume of sand still clouding his vision, Mars gets up with closed eyes, shaken legs—and contaminated armor. He was hyperventilating heavily and his legs couldn't stop shaking, no matter how hard he forced himself to mollify. He covered his mouth to prevent sand from entering his lungs and breathed through the sleeve of the woolen tunic shirt that he wore.

Before he knew it, his legs stopped shaking, but his hyperventilating only worsened.

I flapped my wings from behind him to blow away all of the sand surrounding us. In doing so, everybody else was able to see the two of us.

I had Mars completely subdued with my left hand and tail. My left hand gripped his neck and helmet simultaneously, preventing the Roman General to look back at me. My tail was coiled around his legs, wrapped tightly a few times over around his ankles, preventing him from flailing his legs at me. I held him out at a distance and with a grip forceful enough that made his arms relatively useless as well.

He was still hyperventilating, and I don't blame him. After all, depending on my next choice of actions, he only has seconds to live.

With my right hand, and a solemn countenance, I generated the remainder of my reservoir of aura in the form of Light Green (Wind) Aura, which I compacted into the palm of my hand. "(Aero Typhoon Palm!)" I thought as the Light Green (Wind) Aura began to swirl a few inches above the palm of my hand.

The gale I was generating was as loud as a roaring tornado, and equally as potent, kicking up large quantities of sand between us and creating another cloud of dust around us. The sphere of wind that I was generating was compacted to a size relatively larger than that of my S1-GS device. Once it was large enough, I stopped using what little aura I had in reserve to power the Aero Typhoon Palm and used it to contain and supply the roaring sphere of wind.

I began to torture Mars further by ominously approaching the sphere to his back plate of armor. Once the Aero Typhoon Palm touched something that disrupted its concentrated gale of violently swirling energy, it would instantly explode in the direction of the zone that it was disrupted in.

You can imagine what would result of to Mars if that occurred.

Mars could hear the roar of the Aero Typhoon Palm grow louder and stronger in potency. He struggled as hard as he could but was restrained further by my left hand and tail. His neck was almost cut off of blood by my stalwart grip. His hands proved useless to pry my hand from his neck. He tried to think of how to get out of this, and was only able to ponder one that just might work in having me spare his life.

He would try it out, for the sake of his life and to gain what mercy I might have.

"Eduardo, please! Spare me from your destructive wrath! Please! Spare me with what mercy you might have under that dry, scaly hide of yours!" Mars began to plea for my mercy, with words draining out him like his sanity and chances for survival, putting enough tone in his voice to overcome the volume of one of my dozens of aura techniques.

I was fully capable of hearing his pleas over the mighty gale that I was holding, thanks to my sensitive sense of hearing—which was unnecessarily heightened further with this form. However, his petition was fallen on deliberately deaf inner ears. I continued to close the gap between his back armor plate and my Aero Typhoon Palm, feigning loss of hearing and expressing a lack of concern.

This only made Mars beg harder for his life.

"Oh God, bless me with the protection that you have to give me against this abomination of nature!" Mars prayed and looked up at the sunlight reflecting off of the cloud of sand.

"(I'm going to kill you now!)" I retracted my right arm as far back as I was able to and prepped myself to thrust it forward and deliver the energy onto him. I snarled demonically before doing so.

"If you let me go, Eduardo, I'll leave this village and retire from my profession as General! I beg of you! Don't kill me!"

It was now or never for Mars. He played his trump card, hoping that it was potent enough.

"Does it not interest you of what I have to say about the visitor that came here one month ago?"

"…" I froze in place and silenced myself, my arm stopping midway before hitting him, my grip never easing up on him for a second. What he said just now, albeit unexpected, interested me, and to show Mars that I was interested, I shook him gently—to the best of my ability—with my left arm to have him talk further.

"That bitch of a visitor came here one month ago and decided to spare me out of mercy!" Mars began to describe what he had to say. "I came here one month ago, with a legion of 500 soldiers, waiting to burn this place into the ground. We were tipped of your banishment and came here as fast as we could move. Without you in sight, my victory over here was guaranteed!"

"(This is what Costas and Ian meant to tell me?)" I thought, listening attentively, yet not dissipating my aura technique.

"However, it decided to protect this village, out of some…" Mars lifted his hands in front of his chest and twitched his first two fingers, "…'I'll-scratch-your-back-and-you'll-scratch-mine' crap. It showed abilities similar to those of your own. It was fully capable of speech, but didn't open its mouth! Its appearance…it was and was not human! And in the end, that alien of nature spared me and decided to wash me away north on the Red Sea, giving me its entire name out of pity."

"…" I processed the information Mars told me in a heartbeat—thankful that my heart resumed beating earlier—, attempting to imagine how it was able to decimate a legion of 500 Roman soldiers with abilities similar to my own.

Mars's breathing stabilized and his tone of voice seemed full of hope. "If you let me go," he said, "I'll tell you what it told me. I'll tell you its name."

"(I wonder what Costas's and Ian's side of this story is,)" I thought, barely noticing Mars's words. "(I'm sure that they acquainted themselves with it in some way.)"

"Well? Do we have a deal: my freedom, for information on a being that is, from my experience, parallel to you?"

"…" I pondered this over, long enough for Mars to grow uneasy again.

"…I'm begging you!" His voice turned sour again. "Spare me and take my deal—"

"Go to hell!" I actually spoke while in this form, albeit not in my normal human tone of voice. The voice that resided on this body was entirely different from my normal voice. My first voice, adolescent and wise beyond my age, now became this second voice, deep, malicious, and capable of rumbling the earth.

"W-What d-did you say?"

"Go to hell! Tell it to the Devil when you meet Him!" I raised my right hand back as far as it could go, once more.

"…!" Mars screamed at the top of his lungs, his mouth opened wider than he ever thought physically possible, to the point where his jaws almost popped out of their sockets. His life ends here, and he knew it.

My hand, with the Aero Typhoon Palm technique still flaring strongly, was planted swiftly onto his back. And instantly, the attack detonated, with all of its churning energy directed forward, as I intended.

Because the energy was so greatly concentrated, Mars's entire midsection exploded outward, with blood spraying forward and partially mixing into the airborne sand. This sanguine dust cleared after the directed explosion dispersed across the air. The scene that everybody was capable of viewing was bordering on the lines of absolute madness and scarring of the psychology.

I was still holding onto Mars in the same way as before, only my right hand was where his armored back is. From his backside, Mars appeared completely normal, his armor having only dented slightly from the back.

From his front side however, he was clearly cadaverous. The armor plating on his front side completely blew off and what remained was in the shape of scrap metal. His entire midsection was obliterated. Mars appeared completely gutted, as if given a raw and nightmarish necropsy, having lost all of his internal organs after the Aero Typhoon Palm activated and resolved. His internal organs were nowhere to be seen, having torn up under the immense turbulence of the gale and dissipated in the form of miniscule bits and sanguine dust. Only the back of his ribcage, scapula, and spine were present on his internal cavities, stained red from the massive hemorrhaging that I had him sustain. Pools of blood and bone fragments were in front of Mars's brutally deceased body, scattered both far and near him.

Also, since he was stuck screaming at the top of his lungs, his face stuck in the last position that it was presently before his untimely demise. His eyes and his mouth were agape, widely. It was unanimously a horrifying sight to see: Mars appearing to scream in pain post-death, with his entire midsection hollowed out as if he were a cow, butchered for its meat.

Since I delivered the impact onto him—and therefore knew well enough of the results of my actions—, I decided to the dispose of the body already.

Looking at the Red Sea—the sea that Mars mentioned earlier—I uncoiled my tail grip on his ankles and threw his body there with all my strength, sending him flying into the water, where the backside of his body slapped the surface of the sea. His hollow chest cavity then flooded with sea water. And eventually, his body could no longer maintain buoyancy with the water weight and inevitably submerged underneath the surface.

Mars's corpse left behind a sanguine trail as it descended further and further within the sea, eternally lost and in a dreg of time, forgotten.

With no one left to fight against—I hoped for the sake of my aura and my health—, I faced my house and slowly and languidly proceeded to my home, one beastly and heavy foot at a time. My fading vision barely showed me the presence of Costas and Ian, whom were still outside of their house. The bloody trail that dripped off of my head was leaving behind a trail in my forward gait, burning small trenches into the sand. My breath was slow and painful, mostly in part to my earlier collapsed lung injury.

I walked past the damaged villager's homes, dragging my tail in the sand, which overlapped the trenches that my blood was creating, fatigued to lift it or to care about it. With each retarded step that I took, the villagers looked on at me, observing me from varying points of view and distances, thinking to themselves varying thoughts about me.

Finally, I made it back to the entrance of my house, where Costas and Ian are there waiting for me. I stood still in front of them, and as far as I could perceive—due to my warping vision—, they showed no fear of me.

In fact, they were more curious and awestruck at my appearance and my endurance. They couldn't begin to fathom how I was able to obliterate 500 Roman soldiers and their Roman General Mars, single-handedly, weakened after my transmogrification, and practically drained of Elemental Aura abilities. They were able to comprehend me coming out of it with moderate injury—if you call exposed skull and collapsed lung moderate injury—, as well as how much easier this could be for me if I was in full health.

In their concerned eyes, I appeared gentle and tame, despite having savagely killed Roman soldiers with my abilities, with proof being the wounds that I sustained—the collapsed left lung and puncture wound above it, the visible skull, as well as the scratches on my skin from failed sword stabs and pathetic arrow piercings. They knew me well enough to accept this fact of me. They still saw me, despite the ten-and-a-half years of my banishment, as the person that they remembered…only different in appearance, equipment, experience, personality…

…Actually, no. I was vastly different than they recalled of me.

They knew that I would change because of my banishment, but they wouldn't care and would learn to accept it, so long as it was beneficial and not detrimental. To begin in accepting me again, they began to speak to me, making sure that I was still me, despite the incredible metamorphosis that I underwent.

"Eduardo?" Costas talked first, in a curious and feeble tone of voice. "Are you still in there?"

"If you are," Ian talked after his brother. "Can you say something to let us know?"

"…" I stayed stagnantly motionless for an abnormally long amount of time. The colors within my field of vision continued to blend together, darkening around the edges of my eyes before spreading to the center.

Almost automatically, my mouth opened. Afterwards, my ash-black eyes rolled backed, my thick eyelids closed, and I fell onto the floor like a tree with its trunk chopped off, absolutely exhausted and unable to retain consciousness any longer. A puff of dust flew upward where I landed, and I continued to hemorrhage onto the sand, which burned away into a crater by my being. Thankfully, my acidic blood was still able to coagulate properly, and my cranial wound was sealing, leaving a moderately-large scab that concealed part of my exposed skull.

"Eduardo?" Costas spoke without need.

"…Zzz…" I began to snore, my body craving a much-required rest.

"Well, that's enough of an answer for me," Costas smiled to himself.

Ian just rolled his eyes. "(Why couldn't you change over the decade as well?)"

Before they pondered how to move me into the laboratory—since I weighed over 1,000 lbs and would be too much for them to carry and a pain in the ass to drag—, the villagers began to expose themselves from their seclusion.

As strange as it may seem, they actually approached me, despite my ferocity earlier against all of the Roman soldiers, knowing how I've directed that nature in preventing good people, denizens that I've protected in the past, from getting hurt.

Sure, I let half of the residents die, and the majority that remained sustained injury. Then again, the worst injury received by a surviving individual was a deep laceration across the arm and a couple of puncture wounds from arrows across the legs. But were not all perfect, and I am only one person.

They appeared to see me, not as a monster hell-bent on bloodlust and malice—not normally anyway—, but as a warrior that is employed to the village as its protector, someone who selflessly risks their lives to protect the people that they love. It took these people a decade to realize this decisive fact about me. And because of this, those whose constitutions didn't hinder them enough were willing to help Costas and Ian to the best of their ability.

Setting aside his astonishment and disbelief, Ian said "I'll get the gurney," and proceeded into the laboratory to retrieve one.

"I hope there's one large and strong enough for him." Costas mumbled, and then looked at the villagers. "I mean, just look at him! He could take up the kitchen with his massive volume!"

Most, if not all of the villagers agreed with Costas, for they saw me to be as equal—if not, greater—in size as an African elephant.

"…Zzz…" I continued to snore, missing out on the attention that I was receiving by the villagers that formerly saw me as an earthbound demon.

"Sickness and healing are in every heart. Death and deliverance are in every hand." —Orson Scott Card ("Speaker for the Dead")

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