Chapter 65: The weight of a dream
In a secret training field in Holy Dawn Academy.
Ayrin quietly faced a wooden pile a section higher than himself, thick enough two persons were needed to surround it with their arms.
Dense ropes circled round and round around this wooden pile, as if wrapping it in thick armor.
Ayrin looked at this giant wooden stake with the same expression he would have when looking at an enemy.
His body broke through the air all of a sudden. His left hand pressed toward this wooden stake, the whole hand covered in astonishing numbers of arcane particles, as if a dazzling magenta sun had risen from his hand.
A white block of ice about the size of this wooden pile suddenly appeared between his left hand and this giant wooden pile. It crashed loudly against it, and all the thick ropes encircling it exploded out, chunks after chunks splattering away.
The entire wooden pile was pulled out from the ground, about to fly backwards.
Just at this moment however, a terrifying sound came from Ayrin, as if hundreds and thousands of ropes ruptured at the same time.
This sound was entirely produced by the tremendous vibrations of the air around him!
In this instant, his body gave off the terrifying feeling that every muscle inside his body, the power inside every minute molecule was about to burst out from extreme saturation, as if his entire person were about to explode.
His right fist ruthlessly landed on the huge white block of ice in front of him, carrying with it the strength of mountain floods bursting out.
“Crack crack crack...”
The huge white block of ice seemed like a living object. It once again burst out with power. The entire block of ice deformed: icy protrusions sputtered forward, and on the originally almost square-shaped white block of ice, long and narrow shapes splashing forward formed. It looked entirely as if a giant crown of ice and snow lay flat on it!
The wooden pile that had already been lifted off the ground broke into pieces under the renewed outburst of power at this instant. White blocks of ice and snow froze the countless broken shards of wood as they splashed backwards, sprinkling everywhere behind in an area several dozen meters wide.
Ayrin looked on, dumbstruck.
He stayed still for several seconds, then he leaped up, leaped up six or seven meters high in a single jump.
“I succeeded! I finally succeeded, I successfully unleashed a double combination of physical and arcane attacks!”
“Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!...”
Carter walked out from inside the shadows of the trees, not far away behind Ayrin. Watching Ayrin randomly jumping and wildly shouting out of excitement, he couldn't resist shaking his head, thinking that Ayrin felt more and more fearsome.
“How was it, teacher Carter, did you see that? I succeeded, I can already use 'Crown of Ice and Snow!'”
Seeing Ayrin arrive in front of him with a jump, Carter breathed deeply and said, “You're ten days earlier than even my fastest expectation. Since things turned out this way, you take two days of rest. After that you'll start again doing all-out strength training.”
“Rest for two days?”
Ayrin looked at Carter and had a little trouble understanding. “The match against Divine Shield Academy is only in ten days though, my spiritual strength hasn't reached the level of condensing arcane particles yet... Shouldn't I continue to train my hardest?”
“Have faith in my judgment. I will arrange the most appropriate rest or training according to the condition of your body and spirit.” Carter explained, gentle and patient, “You first rest for two days, then continue training according to what I asked of you. The result will be better compared to you training bitterly for ten days nonstop. Your body and spirit are currently in a state of excessive pressure. If you were to force yourself and continue training, it would bring more harm than good to your body. Giving your body and spirit a proper rest, letting them relax, then giving them a powerful stimulation after that, you will progress faster this way. Tension, relaxation, tension... Training needs to follow this rhythm, you also have to figure out the rhythm most suitable for yourself. Also, I will manage and be in control of when you condense particles. Do you still remembers what I told you at the beginning?”
“To have faith you, that you'll help me seize victory after victory!” Ayrin smiled. “I understand now, teacher Carter, I will do as you say.”
“Go then, get a proper rest.”
“Teacher Carter! Teacher Carter!”
Carter followed Ayrin's departure with his eyes, but not long after, as soon as he walked out of this secret training field, he saw an Ayrin bustling with energy run back his way.
“What?” He couldn't help but stare a little blankly.
“Is Chris' home right here in St. Lauren?” Ayrin asked him, “I just went to the Thinker's Stone Forest, but she wasn't there. After that I saw two classmates of hers training there, and heard them say that Chris went back home. Teacher, you're the one in charge of registration, you must surely know where her house is in St. Lauren?”
“You want to go look for her?” Carter blinked in surprise.
“Yeah.” Ayrin scratched his head in embarrassment. “I don't know what to do during rest. Originally I wanted to go watch her training, I didn't think she wouldn't be there.”
Carter hesitated slightly, but he still said, “If I remember correctly, her house should be in the Spirit district, it's near the foot of the mountain at the southern side of St. Lauren. There are many small secondhand goods shop and curio shops there. If you're looking for her, you can search first for a shop specializing in the repair of leather boots, her house's near this shop. Just ask there and you should be able to find her.”
Ayrin finally found the boot repair shop Carter spoke of after spending no less than half a day.
This was a small shop with walls and shelves entirely covered in black or brown shoe polish, with some buck naked, dirty kids playing some kind of game in the doorway.
The Spirit district was a slum area compared to the whole of St. Lauren.
Just like the vast majority of cities in the kingdom of Eiche, the higher the place the more exclusive it was. High places were for rich people and noble clans, while on the contrary, lower areas at the foot of the mountains were places were low-level craftsman, failed businessmen, frustrated artists and arcane masters gathered.
To give the most simple of examples, the sewage pipes were all arrayed from high to low. There would be a lot of sewage flowing down to the foot of the mountains everyday. Perhaps people in these district would, when they went out, find themselves face to face with streams of sewage stinking to high heaven.
However, Ayrin had little intuitive concepts of slum districts and wealthy districts. After all, Cororin Town's area where he used to live was far poorer and barren than the slum districts of St. Lauren. That was why, he felt that there were many interesting shops even in the Spirit district, and life seemed pretty convenient there.
“Uncle, do you know where Chris' family lives?”
“It's the furthest house over there, the one closest to the bridge.”
“Thank you uncle!”
With the guidance of this boot repair shop owner, Ayrin very quickly distinguished which one was Chris' house out of all the houses there.
There was a dried ditch apparently used for torrential rain dividing the entire Spirit district in two. The rainy season wasn't here yet, and weeds taller than a grown man filled this water ditch about two meters wide, leaving only some pretty big oval-shaped stones exposed. There was an old stone bridge wide enough for a carriage to pass through, sitting in the middle of this water ditch.
Not far beside this old stone bridge, there was a stone path leading to a row of single-story stone houses sitting about two or three meters higher than the bridge's elevation.
Open spaces constituted both the fronts and the rears of these stone houses. Some were arranged very neatly, some had things growing inside them, but none of them had perimeter walls or fences.
Right now, the door to the furthest house, Chris' house, was open, although there was no one in the smooth stone field in front of it.
Ayrin excitedly ran to the end of the street, ran up stone stairs in two or three steps. When he reached the field of smooth stones, he saw that Chris' house was very simple and crude, with only the simplest furniture arranged inside. Facing the front door, the backdoor was also open. He immediately saw a petite figure helping a man wash his hair gone a little white.
He saw at first glance that the one helping this man wash his hair was precisely Chris.
“Ayrin? Why did you come here?” Chris turned her head in surprise as soon as she heard Ayrin's voice.
The man originally held a water basin in his hands. He abruptly raised his head at this time, turned around; all the water on his hair flowed down his body as a result. The clothes on his upper body suddenly became more than half wet.
“Ayrin... Heh heh... Chris... Champion...”
“Champion of the great national tournament...”
This man started to laugh dumbly when he turned around to look at Ayrin, repeating these few vague words nonstop at the same time.
He saw that this man's face was a little aged, with wrinkles filling the corners of his eyes, but his features were extremely similar to Chris'. The expression in his eyes was calm, and although he seemed to be smiling at Ayrin, the indistinct words repeated in his mouth seemed only meant for himself and for Chris.
“Look at you, I told you to be obedient and keep your head down, you disobeyed again and lifted it.”
Chris reproachfully took a dry towel and rubbed his hair, then wiped the traces of water from his body. Then she poked her tongue out at Ayrin and let him wait for her for a little bit.
The man who looked a little similar to her smiled dumbly from beginning to end, very happily, then kept mumbling to himself and repeated some simple words.
“Chris... Champion... Champion of the great national tournament...”
Hearing this vague voice, looking at Chris taking care of him very dotingly, as if she were taking care of a child, Ayrin felt a lump in his throat despite himself.
“You be good for now... My friend from school came over, I'll go talk with him for a little bit.”
After helping this man dry his hair, then peeling some fruits for him, Chris beckoned to Ayrin and let him follow her as she jumped to an empty spot on a mountain slope not far away.
Eating two fruits Chris stuffed in water, Ayrin sat down beside Chris and asked heavily, “He's your father?”
“Yes.” Chris also ate a fruit, watching the small stone bridge down the slope in front of her.
Ayrin turned his head around and looked down at the man behind the house, not far away from them. He asked, also hesitating a little, “Then he...?”
“You must have seen it.” Chris stuffed the fruit in her hand whole inside her mouth, then wiped her hands against each other like a child, as if she could rub them clean just like that. “He used to be very normal... Seven years ago, there was a caravan in St. Lauren who got ambushed by an arcane bandit team. My father and my mother were both part of the arcane team protecting the caravan. My mother died in the fight, my father was also heavily wounded. He fainted, only woke up a long time later. Then after that he became like how he is now. There's no trouble with everyday life. It's just that my mother used to always help him wash his hair before, that's why, if I don't help him wash his hair, he refuses to wash it himself.”
Ayrin felt that the very sweet fruit inside his mouth suddenly turned dry and astringent. He looked at Chris' side profile.
Chris spoke very simply and very calmly, and there wasn't much of a change in her expression. He could also see Chris' staunchness, and she was already used to all of this, could bear it. But his own mood couldn't be as serene as hers.
“Did they end up catching that robber team?”
“They caught them.”
“Then your father... Why does he keep saying champion, champion of the great national tournament?” Ayrin looked at Chris' face. He couldn't imagine what she'd gone through. He couldn't resist asking again, stuttering a little, “This... this... is why you... why you always want to become champion in the great national tournament?”
“That's right.” Chris raised her face and watched the sky, firmly saying, “Because my father and mother were also once members of their school teams. They weren't very formidable, their school teams were also very ordinary school teams, but they met each other in the stadium when watching the finals... This must be the scene etched the deepest inside my father's mind, maybe he very much wants to see my mother again in the finals... Or perhaps he and my mother very much wanted to become champions back then, or maybe he feels I'm stronger than both himself and my mother... He can't remember anything now, I'm the only one he recognizes. But it seems he very much wants to see me become champion, so I absolutely have to give it a try.”
Was it because that tournament field and this tournament had an especially important meaning for him, because it was the deepest memory in his mind?
Perhaps the most beautiful scene of his life was there.
Perhaps that final trophy was the thing burning brightest in his mind?
Or perhaps he thought he could be once again reunited with his lost wife in that place?
Or perhaps there was no particular meaning, just a fragment of his consciousness, perhaps he himself had no idea at all why he hoped for Chris to become champion in the great national tournament.
It was Chris' dream in any case.
This was the genuine reason Chris trained so painstakingly hard, so hard she appeared to others like an amazingly crazy girl.
Ayrin's looked at that man peacefully eating his fruits, watched Chris pretty side profile. He felt an added meaning to his own dream.
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