A Crow's Dream of Clear Skies Chapter 9
A Crow’s Dream of Clear Skies -- Chapter 9
Jasper left the manor early on this morning so that he may stop by the arcane blacksmith’s shop and receive the commissioned items.
Like always, the dynamic duo of Jasper and Tucker strut through the streets of Stardew. Pedestrians parted as the overgrown lizard took each stride. Like a stone parting the flow of a stream.
As they arrived at the arcane blacksmith’s shop, Jasper signaled Tucker to wait patiently. Tucker sat prim and proper just outside as Jasper sauntered through the open layout of a shop to see the tall cyan haired woman working on a pair of shackles.
With hammer in hand, and shackle atop anvil, she swung with heavy and precise strikes. Tink. Tink! She tinkered away.
“Yo!” Jasper shouted into the shop that rung with the clash of steel.
“YO! MISS!” He raised his voice over the resounding steel.
She glanced over, nodded to Jasper, then hit the steel several more times, finishing the piece. When she was satisfied, she tossed it in a water vat that erupted with a puff of steam on contact.
“Here to pick up?” She turned her attention to the red headed boy occupying her shop.
“Yeah. It’s all ready, right?” He asked, examining a few of the latest items on display.
“Of course, let me go get it.” She walked to the back room of the shop.
He fiddled with a shiny silver shackle that sat as a centerpiece of the display.
Seems like an enchanted item. I can’t make out the enchantment… Is this layered steel?
Curious, Jasper placed the shackle around his wrist. The next instant when the two sides of the shackles met, completing the circuit, he felt an immense change in the earths pull on his body. He felt like a thousand pounds had been added to his shoulders. The added weight forced him to kneel with a heavy thud upon the packed dirt floor. As he resisted, the force multiplied, and he collapsed upon all fours.
I’ll just use a physical enchantment to resist.
He poured mana into his muscles, but to no avail. As soon as the mana left his [Well], it was devoured by the shackle. It actively drained any magic poured into the body by the bearer.
That should have been enough mana. How about some more?
He pushed a massive torrent of mana through his body, giving him enough strength to operate just below normality. He coughed in relief.
The amount of mana used every second is insane! If I didn’t have this uselessly large pool… any normal person would have already passed out.
As Jasper stood, he met the shop owner’s gaze. “So, you can overcome even that.” Her eyes gleamed with curiosity.
Jasper smiled, “You based this off my designs, didn’t ya’?” He insinuated that he understood some form of work around.
“True, although I fiddled with the structure with an intent to cripple any resistance. It’s 5 times the normal gravity with what I though was an absolute mana depletion.”
Jasper began to look desperate as he stuck out his wrists, “Would you hurry up and remove it? I don’t think I can hold on for much longer.”
Her eye’s widened, realizing she had already forgotten. “Oh, yeah, here.” She reached out and touched the shackle and it immediately released from Jasper’s arm, dropping to the dirt.
Jasper’s attention shifted to the gloves that the blacksmith wore. Black leather with a magic circuit written into a metallic component upon the back of the hands. It’s a magic tool constructed for the purpose of lightening the weight of whatever the wielder grasps within them.
“A back door in the enchantment?” Jasper revisited the fact that the shackle came off with just a touch.
“Yeah, it responds to my unique wavelength.”
“Hm, I’ll keep that in mind.” He considered the usefulness of such a concept for applications within his future endeavors.
The cyan haired blacksmith picked up the shackle and set it back from whence it came. Subsequently, she turned about to grab a bag of jingling metal and used the gloves to pick up the sword. It still remains a massive, black mass of steel like before. However, it now bore complex etchings upon the flat of the blade. Furthermore, the blacksmith included a unique scabbard that held the flat tip and two inches at the stubbed crossbar with a bar running between the two. Additionally, in order to attach the behemoth of a sword to one’s person, it includes a convenient magic joint.
“Here.” She extended them, picking up the sword in one hand like it was a feather, handle towards Jasper.
He prepared himself by setting a 50% physical enchantment and received it with both hands. As she released it, he embraced the weight. Even with his physical enhancement, it felt like sixty or so pounds.
Jasper quickly used magic joint to shoulder the weight of the sword. He attached the spherical disk between his shoulder blade, reaching through the opening in his collar. With a small amount of mana, it joined itself to flesh. Then, he swung the hunk of metal clockwise over his right shoulder and it locked in place with the joint. This joint both actively articulated the angle of the blade to keep it fro’ colliding with the objects or individuals, and kept it hovering just above his clothing in order to not place weight over the fabric and provide free range of motion.
With the sword secured, jasper grabbed the bag of jingling metal. He looked inside and confirmed eight golden bracelets. He then relaxed his right arm that held the bag and reached into his left pocket. He pulled out two green cards and tossed it her way.
She caught them midflight. “Twenty Thousand Stars?” She looked down, perplexed at the metal cards. looking up in protest she rebutted, “You don’t owe me anything. With the number of things, I have learned from this and the shear lack of material cost, even if I originally asked for this in return for the bracelets, I can’t take your money.”
“Thanks for your services. Consider it paying it forward.” Jasper smiled and turned, walking out of the shop and hopping on Jasper. He fiddled with the bag, tying it to the saddle, Then gazed over to the blacksmith standing in the archway of her shop and waved farewell, “Till next time!” Then off they went down the street and darting down an alley.
“That boy eludes me.” The blacksmith sighed and returned to her work.
[Nine Gates Academy Stables]
Jasper undid the straps upon Tucker’s saddle and slid it off the lizard’s rough scales. He placed it upon the assigned stall’s door. Within the stall, he placed the bag of golden bracelets and leaned the sword against the wall. He turned to Tucker and rubbed the bridge of his snout.
“Caw.” Tucker sounded pleased as he pressed his head into Jasper’s palms.
“Keep these safe for me, bud.”
“Caw.” Tucker graciously agreed.
As Jasper laxed his guard and comforted the Vahl’Drac’ian, a shimmer of black hair caught the corner of his eye. It belonged to Kanzaki Aoi, whom stood several stalls down, tending to a stunning white alicorn. The magnificent creature bears wings that spread high above like those of an angel. It bore not but a single mark, blemish, or pattern but its golden necklace – like a large chunk of metal it wrapped around smooth and coming to a slight point at the chest.
Another potential last of its kind like Tucker.
Jasper sighed at the grim thought before approaching the girl and her [Magic Beast]. “What a beautiful alicorn. What’s its name?” He broke the silence.
Kanzaki was in her usual shrine priestess uniform. She looked over to him and rolled her eyes as if to say ‘oh, it’s you.’
“Her name is Wiess.” Kanzaki expressed disdain.
“What a fitting name.” He smiled at the alicorn and she nodded with gentle modesty. “She’ll probably get along with Tucker. As I see the Ehecatl isn’t here today, I hope they can keep each other company.”
“I don’t think so.” Kanzaki’s tone turned snappy. “You keep your filthy beast away from my Wiess.”
With those words, both Jasper and the alicorn rolled their eyes. The two met eyes afterword’s and giggled before returning their attention to the shrine maiden.
“Yeah, I’ll let them decide that for themselves. See you around priestess.” Jasper turned about and left the stables without waiting for a reply.
“Idiot boy!” Kanzaki scoffed.
[Outside Class Building C]
Jasper sauntered down the stone path up to the building entrance. As he ascended the few steps, he heard a pair of footsteps encroaching from opposing directions. “Hey Jasper!” He heard two girls speak simultaneously.
Oh boy, here we go.
He stood motionless, reluctant to turn around and deal with the impending shitshow.
“How do you know him?!” Machiko barked at Diva.
“I thought you hated him!” Diva retorted with a scoff.
“We made up yesterday.” The gnome girl crossed her arms and stomped her foot. Her periwinkle pigtails shaking like ribbons receiving a brief gust.
“I went hunting with him. He even got me a demon soul!” She bragged, showing her 7,000-year soul as a trophy.
They both took deep breaths, “Well we went on a date!”
Oh shit… Jasper thought to himself as his palm embraced his face.
A chorus followed, “Jasper? What’s the meaning of this?!” He reluctantly turned around to see to riled girls, ready to burst. He sighed, then began his explanation. “I went shopping with diva for equipment and then we went to gather a couple demon souls. With Machiko, I apologized then treated her to some pastries so that we might spark up a friendly conversation. I have not gone on any official date with either of you. Savvy?”
“Yeah…”; “I Guess…” They both sulked and then continued to class.
Besides, why are a couple of 14 year old girls interested in dates?
[Class 1-A; 15 minutes later]
“…connected to the seventh meridian. Now, for the process of circulating one’s mana…” Teacher Galle went on about several topics concerning the meridians and the circulation of mana. Most of which were true, but the rest being half truths under scrutiny of Jasper’s experience.
Instead of learning about something he had learned about in his previous life, he sat at his desk devising strategies for various things in the years to come. His hand moved with purpose as he scribed various things.
“What if I spread immortal cultivation? Would it be beneficial to Stardew? Would it incite issues going forward?... Jasper, what are you writing?” Galle peered over his shoulder. “First the doodling Friday, and now these… ‘Galle’s teachings are half baked’, ‘He didn’t mention the breathing techniques associated with cultivation’, ‘Did he even train properly if this is the extent of his knowledge?’” He looked baffled at the statements written upon the paper.
Jasper calmly looked over his shoulder at his teacher. “Sorry. Got bored. I was just jotting down some thoughts as they came to me.”
“What are the meaning of these baseless accusations?” Galle requested an explanation of the comments concerning his teachings.
“Half-baked is indeed an unnecessary adjective. However, I stand by the message.”
“What? So, you believe you can do better than me? A teacher?” Galle lost his composure over the sincerity in Jasper’s voice.
“Well then…” Galle took a deep breath and gathered his thoughts. “If you would then.” He pointed to the podium afore the class with a forced grin upon his mug.
Jasper looked at the podium and then to Galle, as if silently asking for confirmation.
Galle nodded, impatiently, foot tapping.
Jasper stood from his desk, grasping the paper he had been scribing upon and burning it with electricity. Cinders fell from his palm as he nonchalantly walked down the steps. He then positioned himself afore the podium and faced his classmates. He received looks of intrigue, disapproval, and whimsy.
“From what I was listening to, Teacher Galle mentioned the use of [Mana Circulation]. Yes?” Jasper asked for a response.
Shen Lao barked “What of it?”
“Well, may I ask you the purpose of [Mana Circulation]?”
Diva rose her hand, “Is it not to expand one’s [Well]?”
“Yes. However, what are its other applications?”
Fallen Tiger interjected with a slow, grim voice. “It allows one to focus mana in various parts of the body. Such is the basis of body strengthening techniques.”
“You are correct Fallen Tiger. However, does anyone know another application besides these?” Jasper scanned the expressions of his classmates who were now fully enveloped in attempt to solve a riddle. He then turned to Galle who stood against the back wall with scrutiny in his eyes. “Teacher Galle, can you think of another?”
“Of course. However, I do not see how such applications would have merit in a freshman class.” Galle cocked his head attempting to decipher where Jasper was leading this conversation.
Jasper raised a hand to Galle, asking him to proceed.
“I can think of two other applications. First is the use of [Mana Circulation] to power a [Magic Circuit] or [Magic Artifact]. Such is the work of an [Artificer]. The other is that of transferring mana to another individual in [Joined Cultivation]. A process that youth should not concern themselves with.”
“Ah.” Jasper nodded his head in agreement. “I myself forgot about [Joined Cultivation]. It is a process that makes up for each gender’s deficiency of yin or yang energies. Yes?” He waited for Galle to give his agreeance, which came with a slight nod. “However. There is yet another application.” Jasper held out his hand, palm up. “What happens when one circulates their mana to a position outside of their vessel?”
Galle frowned, “They loose control of this mana. Commonly resulting in a backlash.”
“Oh?” Jasper circulated his mana about his body and willed it to the space just above his palm. This created a sphere of electricity that circulated within itself, like a ball of living twine.
“Child, what are you doing?!” Galle’s voice filled with concern. “This’ll only end in injury.”
“Wrong.” Jasper stated a simple fact.
“He’s right.” Diva advocated for him. “I’ve witnessed Jasper use this in battle. It’s different from any innate skill. From what I can tell, it has no connection to his innate skills or demon souls.”
“What?” Galle descended the stairs and studied the orb of electricity. He squatted down to view it from all sides with a detail-oriented gaze. “I see. It is entirely sustained… And what of its application?”
“Simple…” Jasper turned to the podium he stood afore. With a slow, exaggerated movement, he took the ball of lighting in his palm and slapped it against its wooden structure. The wood creaked as it bloated, cracks of light forming underneath its surface. In an instant, it disintegrated into splinters that propelled themselves against the chalkboard. “With a little effort and training, any practitioner could do something similar to this.”
The room fell silent as the pieces of podium settled upon the floor.
Shen Fei stood, a twinkle in his eye, and a fire in his soul. “Teach me!”
Jasper gasped. Entirely awestruck at Shen Fei’s willingness to learn from him. In his previous life, this boy became a cruel and violent man. A man who may partially be at fault for the downfall of Stardew.
Why is he so willing to cooperate? I don’t understand. What if I say yes? Is it possible to convert him in this life?
“I want to learn too!” Machiko stood, pushing her chair against the desk behind her.
“Me too!” Diva joined the fray.
“Jing John wishes to learn this technique.” He stood tall and mighty with his panda bear physique.
“Will you allow the lowly me to also learn this?” Fallen Tiger stood the only to request permission whilst inciting interest.
Yes. I believe this could work.
“And you?” Jasper looked to Shen Lao. “Will you also join?”
Shen Lao crossed his arms and leaned back into his chair, propping his legs upon the desk. “I have no need for such things. Keep you lower caste tricks to yourself.” He then scoffed and turned his head.
I didn’t believe so. Oh well…
“Teacher Galle.” Jasper began devising a scheme.
“Yes?” Galle answered with a concerned brow.
“First of all, I would like to apologize for my earlier comments. However, I do believe such things have led us to this marvelous outcome.”
“Okay?” Galle furrowed his brow even more.
“If I so do recall, the academy offers clubs as an extracurricular.”
“Yes, that is true.” Galle scratched his neck. Leather gloves barely satisfying an itch.
“Would you be our advisor?” Jasper dropped the bombshell.
“Your, what now?” Galle raised a finger in protest. “Now I thought you were about to request a suitable club for your activities. But, to request the founding of a new one?” He scratched his skull, vigorously. “Why?” He held out his hand in confusion.
“I would like to with a free range of motion. From what I can tell, these five are more than willing to learn that which I have. I’d like the ability to teach them these things unobstructed.” Jasper took a moment to wet his tongue. “Of course, this would not be a replacement for your classes. Only a… addition to such teachings.”
“I don’t believe I can condone such a thing.” Galle shook his head, removing stray thoughts from his conscience.
“How about this. For a week’s time, you chaperone club activities. If you do not approve of them then, then I will let go of this idea and approach the situation in another manner.”
The class looked to Galle for permission.
“And what would these club activities consist of during this week?”
“If we start activities today… my goal would to have everyone able to manifest mana outside their body in a manner similar to what I just achieved.”
Galle turned pale. “That quickly?!” He stepped forward, shouting with utter disbelief.
[That afternoon, Nine Gates Academy, The Pit]
The five students and Galle arrived to see Jasper meditating at the center of The Pit. There he sat, legs crossed and palms resting upon his knees. With each breath, his shoulders tensed and relaxed. While in this meditative state, Galle was able to sense an outward flow of mana. As if the boy was [Circulating] Mana outside the body.
Jasper opened an eye to confirm everyone’s presence. “Who’s able to sense it?” He closed his eye and returned to meditation.
The five students looked to each other in confusion. Jing John scratched his head, before shaking it. Fallen Tiger walked several paces away from the cluster and sat down, crossing his legs and observing Jasper closely. Diva and Machiko turned to each other with a confused gaze. Then Shen Fei Shook his head and followed Fallen Tiger’s lead. Finally, Galle turned to Jasper after witnessing the student’s dismay. “Do you expect them to be able to sense another’s [Aura] at this early stage in cultivation?”
Jasper opened his eye once more. “Simply… Yes. We are born able to sense another’s [Aura]. We are just too accustomed to ignoring this information that we’ve become unable to differentiate the masses of mana around us.”
“Is that how you’d explain it?” Galle began to think in deep thought, holding his chin. “Then, is there no correlation between one’s cultivation and the ability to sense [Aura]?”
“Correct. [Aura Sense] usually develops around one’s mid to late cultivation. Generally, Spirit expert or leader. Yes?”
“That is correct.”
“This process can, of course, be accelerated.” Jasper began to pour the tiniest hint of lightning element into the mana that was currently flowing outside his body. A purple haze appeared, visible to the five students. “Pay attention to what you see here.” Jasper demanded this from the group.
Like Fallen Tiger and Shen Fei, the other’s followed suit and created a semi-circle afore Jasper, spread evenly. They all studied the purple haze, attempting to decipher its flow and patterns.
“Pay close attention to where my mana is flowing outside of my body to where it is being reabsorbed. Once you can see this flow clearly, we will begin working on [Mana Circulation] techniques.”
“Understood.” The five of them agreed and began their intense study session.
“Teacher Galle.” Jasper turned to him, the last to be standing.
“What is it, Jasper?”
“How clear is my [Aura] to you?”
“How clear?” Galle cocked a brow. “I suppose it looks like clouds flowing like water in and out of your body.”
“You should sit down too, then.” Jaspers face was devoid of emotion. His attention mostly focused on the outward circulation of mana.
“I should? But I can already sense your [Aura].”
“Let me know when it looks like a rope.”
“A rope? Are you saying that you’ve made your mana the size of a rope whilst it exists outside your body? The amount of control this would require…”
“Indeed.” Jasper turned to observe the state of the other five. They all looked perplexed, stubbornly attempting to see that which they cannot. “You all, let me know when the haze that surrounds me looks no bigger than a fist.”
[Three Hours Later]
“I see it” Fallen Tiger is the first to observe the fist sized streams of mana flowing about Jasper’s body.
“Excellent. If you continue, you should be able to narrow it’s size even further.” Jasper turned his head to the rest. “What you are all seeing is not my outward flow of mana, but the tiniest bit of mana that is radiating from them. What may currently look like clouds of haze to you, is in reality strands of mana, no bigger than a simple rope.”
Their eyes widened, at his explanation. As if to say ‘really?’. Yet, this only fueled their determination.
[Two Hours Later]
At this time. All five could at least see a fist sized stream. Fallen Tiger and Teacher Galle however, succeeded in seeing the true stream, that is no larger than a rope.
“We will conclude this here.” Jasper ceased his meditation, absorbing the mana back into his [Well]. “If you wish to continue to train further than this, then I suggest trying to read another individual’s [Aura]. This will appear as a faint haze outlining the body. Similar to what you’ve been seeing, it is just mana radiating from the body.”
“That’s all?” Shen Fei whined. “What about these [Mana Circulation] techniques?”
“Like all things, these things take time and practice.” Jasper sighed. “If you stick to this training in the afternoon, I guarantee you all will be able to use a form of [Mana Circulation] by end of week. So, please be patient with my methods. I’ll see you all tomorrow.”
Jasper stood next to Tucker, strapping the overgrown lizard’s saddle on. He made sure to secure it firmly. Pulling on each leather strap with added strength. When this was tight enough, Jasper tied the back of bracelets to it and swung the sword, locking it into the magic joint. He then hopped onto Tuckers back and they strut out of the stable.
“Jasper!” Shen Fei called to him from atop his Palomino. He increased his steed’s pace and brought himself to Jasper’s right side.
“What can I do for you, Shen Fei?” Jasper is skeptical of his classmate’s intentions. As his past life had expressed, this boy means only trouble.
“I wanted to apologize.”
WHAT!!! The word screamed throughout his skull. Why would he… what are his intentions?!
“I shouldn’t have been so impatient with you. That was not very noble of me. I am also sorry for my earlier remarks against you.”
Jasper only gave a perplexed expression to Shen Fei.
“Yeah.” Shen Fei looked ashamed. “I don’t expect you to accept these apologies, however, I would like it if you’d continue to teach me. I look forward to tomorrow’s session.” Before Jasper could get a word in, Shen Fei whipped his Palomino’s reigns and sped off.
This could only leave Jasper in a dazed state as he considered whether or not Shen Fei was the absolute evil, he had plagued him as.