Chapter 1: An awakened youth! Arcane masters, the power of bloodlines!
Southern region of the kingdom of Eiche, Cororin Town's mining site, copper mine number three.
“Damnit... There should be enough after this piece...”
Ayrin tightly gripped the iron drill in his hands inside the depths of the mine, his body soaked from head to toe from sweat. He grasped for breath, barely keeping his body upright.
This weak and slender young man had filth smeared on his somewhat tender face, yet his eyes appeared exceptionally bright under eyebrows thick as ink. Even now, they glittered a sunny optimistic luster, even when he ground his teeth and stared at the ores in front of his face.
“Bastard! There's really no other way, I can only do it like this!”
A resolute expression suddenly flashed across his eyes.
“Ha!” He gathered his entire focus on his hands, together with his rough and heavy shout. He borrowed seemingly many invisible particles in the air, gathering them into his hands. He, who was utterly exhausted, suddenly brandished the iron drill once more at this moment, then fiercely smashed it down!
A cloud of sparks splashed upwards.
The ore tottering on the wall finally fell.
“Look at my awakened power, I finally dug out enough ore, hah...”
First, Ayrin's cheer broke through the silence, filling the black mining tunnel with his pride.
Then his miserable shriek immediately followed after. “Ah! My feet! So painful!”
Faint hoots of laughter swiftly came from other distant mining tunnels. “That little Ayrin, he was careless again and smashed his own feet with the ore he just pried off.”
“Haha, it must be the third time this month, right? Another two times and he'll break last month's record.”
“Can't he be a bit more careful, he actually smashed his feet again.”
A slim and frail figure appeared at the exit of the mining site when dusk descended. He was covered in smelly sweat, exhausted to such a degree he couldn't even stand up straight. Ayrin hobbled out of the mine, his two arms drooped on the ground like soft noodles. He returned to a seemingly somewhat dilapidated Cororin Town and went into the one and only clinic in town, Auntie Emma's clinic.
“Auntie Emma, I'm coming in.”
“Little Ayrin, is the old liar still his old self? Hasn’t he kicked the bucket yet.” People from the town usually greeted him like this when they saw him, and auntie Emma's greeting wasn't any exception either today.
“I also want him to die, but he's still alive and kicking no matter what.”
“He'd have died years ago already if not for you buying him medicine and food.”
“But you can't ask me to watch him die either, right?”
“So why are you saying you want him to die... Eh, what happened to your feet, weren't they healed yesterday already or am I remembering wrong? Don't tell me you smashed your feet again?”
“Cough...cough... Of course not, the old wounds reopened...the old wounds reopened...”
A crestfallen Ayrin walked out of the clinic carrying a bag full of medicine, his face filled with shame. He went back home amidst concerned voices of “Still the same old with the old liar? Little Arin you were careless and smashed your feet again, remember to be careful next time.” all along the way.
His house was located on the southern side of the little town, at the foot of an earthen slope. It had a courtyard surrounded by a bamboo fence.
Ayrin pushed open the yard's creaking door. An old man with a head full of white hair sat beside a crude stone table inside the yard.
The old man had a tall figure, but looked rather sickly. His skin was covered by myriads of vestiges left behind by the passing years, giving him a decrepit look. His clothes were similar to Ayrin's, both repaired with mining cloth whose original color could no longer be seen. The difference was that the old man still appeared relatively clean.
“Haha...” The old man stared when he saw Ayrin limp inside, then immediately laughed, clutching his belly until his body crooked. “I guess it was unavoidable...”
“Where did you run out from, time for your medicine!”
Ayrin threw the medicine bag into the gloating old man's arms, then he sat his ass down. He didn't even care whether his hands were dirty, he just grabbed a piece of hard bread from the stone table and began to gnaw on it. He mumbled at the same time, crestfallen, “There’s fewer and fewer ore inside the mines, so it becomes more and more difficult to dig for them.”
"I’ve already awakened though. So there shouldn't be any problem providing for the two of us, even if it's becoming increasingly harder to dig the ores." Ayrin's crestfallen face brightened again after two mouthfuls of bread. It was filled with with a sense of pride instead.
“Truly a marvel. Worthy of a guy I found after spending so many years, he can be so happy and optimistic even in such an environment.”
The old man squinted his eyes, smiling. He glanced at Ayrin's flabby hands that he almost couldn't lift anymore and said, "Looks like you couldn't resist using arcane power today, once again. But I do remember telling you many times that forcibly using arcane power when your spirit and stamina are depleted will bring a heavy burden upon your body. In serious cases, you can even die."
“Isn't it all for the sake of feeding myself and an old liar like you...” Ayrin took exception with a humph and said, “Anyway I'm only using it sparingly.”
“Alright, reckless and special young man. Since you've already awakened and even made it this far,” the old man faintly smiled, “it's also time to tell you the truth.”
Ayrin looked at the old man, “What truth? You're finally going to bite the dust?”
“Bastard... Are you seriously praying so hard for me to croak?”
“Actually no, I'd worry about money for the grave.”
“You idiot, listen quietly to me now. The tests and trials I've set for you are already over. You can get ready to go to school to Holy Dawn Academy tomorrow.”
“Tests and trials? Cough cough...” Ayrin choked on the dry bread and burst into a coughing fit. “Old liar, what damned nonsense are you spouting now.”
The old man looked at Ayrin. “Fine, let's begin with this “old liar” title. You tell me, why do you call me an old liar?”
“Because starting from the day I picked you up seven years ago, you kept saying you'd pass onto me the way to become a powerful arcane master, but for seven years straight, you happily ate my food but did nothing, you didn’t teach me any training method. That's why everyone got used to calling you an old liar.” Ayrin threw a glance at the old man and gloomily said, “Looks like there’s a lot of problems with your brain today, asking me these questions.”
The old man smiled faintly. “Since you say I'm an old liar who happily eats your food and does nothing in return, why don't you throw me out?”
“No one will feed you if I threw you out. Even if I picked out any random cat or dog I still couldn't just throw them out and let them starve to death, right?”
“You idiot, you actually compared me to a random cat or dog.” The old man shook his head, helpless. “Have you ever thought about Cororin Town’s nickname in the southern region? The deserted town! There's only some barren copper ores left here in Cororin, ever since the end of the mining operations. This is a territory even the lousiest lord wouldn't pick if they had the choice. Only a few old miners and some old townsfolk who can't make a living elsewhere chose to stay here. Even an old homeless wandering beggar wouldn't cross the overgrown abandoned mining area to come here, don’t you think so? Even more so in the coldest, cruelest winter night.”
Starlights glittered on the curtains of the night.
One-half of a bread fell from Ayrin's mouth.
“Ah, what you said makes sense.” Ayrin looked blankly at the old man; he did seem different right now compared to usual. “Old Ginns, you're serious?”
“You can tell I'm serious, otherwise you wouldn't call me old Ginns, you'd only call me old liar.”
“Are you really an arcane master?” Ayrin said to himself in disbelief. He then shook his head, “Impossible! Conspiracy, it's definitely a conspiracy. If you really wanted to let me become a strong arcane master of Doraster, why didn't you teach me any body training or martial skill these past seven years?”
“Because from the very beginning, there's something else that's fundamental in determining an arcane master's power.”
“This most fundamental thing, it's precisely the power of bloodlines!”
A proud expression floated on old Ginns' face, his tone turning subconsciously feverish. “Pure giant bloodlines have astonishing innate physical power and extraordinary strength. Pure beastmen bloodlines are born with the power of wild changes and inconceivable explosiveness. Pure elven bloodlines are extremely nimble, moving like the wind, while also possessing a high degree of focus from birth. Their ability to manipulate arcane power far surpasses ordinary people’s. As for the various dragon bloodlines, the strength of their bodies and the arcane power they can manipulate are even greater!”
“You've told me the same thing at least twenty times these past two months.” Ayrin's dispirited voice came out, “Plus what does it have to do with me, I only have ordinary human blood. Looks like you're sick and confused, it's time to eat your medicine.”
Ginns clearly understood that Ayrin was a special young man who couldn't be measured with common sense, but he still couldn't help but feel the urge to spit out blood after having his passionate speech interrupted by such swords. “I've also told you many times, every bloodline has its own innate talents. Pure human bloodlines have no unique powers, but they’re the best at merging with other bloodlines! Many mighty pure bloodlines are growing increasingly rarer ever since the War of the Dragons. Many bloodlines mixed repeated with others and reproduced to this day, even to the degree the powers of their bloodlines are no longer prominent. We're in a situation where the vast majority of arcane masters don't have any great bloodline at all. So for arcane masters with a strong bloodline from the get-go, it’s very easy for them to stand out in this era!”
Ayrin's weakly protested once again, “But this really has nothing to do with me...”
Old Gins couldn't rein in his wrath anymore, angrily saying, “Can't you use your brain a little. Think about it! You still don't understand after I said so much. These seven years, these seven years, the tempering of a hard life I made you go through, all the stories I told you, the knowledge, all of it was the training I gave you. Every minute particle of your body is already in a state of extreme hunger and thirst, in a situation where they’re being exhausted for an extended period of time yet can't obtain sufficient nourishment. That's why you're thinner and weaker than people the same age, why you even look two years younger than them. It's also why you only awakened at such a late age. But precisely because of this, the results from absorbing another bloodline's powers will be that much greater for you, compared to ordinary people!”
Ayrin seemed to have a flash of enlightenment: “I finally understand.”
Old Ginns heaved a sigh, thinking that Ayrin would finally say the words he wanted him to say.
“I understand!” Unfortunately, Ayrin's next words nearly caused him to faint to death: “Old Ginns you pervert! Not only you toy with the feelings of little children, the only thing you've done these past seven years is to ravage children’s bodies!”
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