The Gemstone Chronicles – Book 2 – Chapter 9

 

Dale was meditating, concentrating the energy in his veins through his body, when Feng crashed into his room, ignoring knocking in lieu of barging in.

 

“I broke through last night!” Feng yelled, with an excited look in his eyes. A powerful, coppery aura surrounded him. He was still wearing his nightclothes, ignoring the various yells of other boys in the dorm for him to shut up.

 

“I’m finally a Copper Core expert!”

 

“Alright!” Dale hi-fived him, a bit annoyed he hadn’t broken through first, even though he was but a half step from forming his own Copper layer. Dale glanced at his now broken wooden door handle, “You broke my door…”

 

Feng glanced at the door, glanced at Dale, then back at the door. He slowly backed out in to the hallway, and then raced off to his room to change.

 

Dale stared after him, bemusedly, as he picked up and replaced his door. Dale quickly changed, preparing for the day. He met Feng outside his room, and they both made their way to the mess hall for students. The Southside Student Mess, as it was called, was located about a quarter mile from their dorm.

 

The Student Mess was a wide and long, brown building. It had very few windows, and several large doors. Feng and Dale walked through, picking up some of the roasted chicken and vegetables, and sat down at one of the several long tables inside.

 

“What’s it like having a Copper Core?” Dale asked, as he swallowed a particularly large green bean, grimacing. He never liked vegetables.

 

“I feel about the same, mostly. However, I think my control over fire grew a little bit. I can now focus on 2 floating flames.” Feng never explained his training to Dale, though he told him it was difficult for him to control individual flames. Feng considered Dale his rival and didn’t want to spoil his techniques.

 

Suddenly, someone clapped Dale on the back, “Howdy! Long time no see, Dale-oh!” Kyle’s familiar voice floated over his shoulder, “Mind if we sit with you?” Jerome was behind him.

 

“Sure, go ahead.” Dale responded, munching on his chicken. As Kyle sat down, Feng began shooting questions at him, asking about their future Expedition Force. Dale glanced at Jerome, who was slowly twisting the green beans on his tray.

 

“Jerome, what technique do you focus on?” asked Dale, trying to draw him into conversation.

 

Jerome stared at him for a moment, then mumbled, “I am a Space Arts user, at the peak Steel Core level.” He looked around nervously.

 

“Wow! A Space Arts user! I’ve never met one.” Dale looked at him, his interest renewed, “Can you teleport?” He had heard that Space Arts users could teleport, and create personal dimensional pockets, as well as powerful attacks that ripped space itself.

 

“Yes, but only small distances, perhaps a hundred meters if I have to dodge an attack.” He said, getting slightly more enthusiastic as they talked about his specialty, “My most powerful teleport can move a group of 5 or 6 people roughly 10 miles, but it takes about 5 minutes to set it up.”

 

Kyle suddenly chimed in, “Don’t let this guy fool ya. He’s the strongest Space Art user in the entire school. Some of the teachers are weaker than him.” Kyle looked proud of his friend. Jerome just looked nervous. Kyle continued, “He’s also one of the only 3 Space users, however. Not a lot of people can perform that Art.”

 

Feng chimed in as well, “Kyle, what Art do you use?” he said, questioningly. Kyle smiled mysteriously.

 

“Ah! That’s a secret!” Kyle waved his hands around, trying to seem secretive. Jerome spoke up, “He’s a Sky user, and a damned good one.” He said proudly. He seemed confident when he talked about his friend, though not much else..

 

“Ohhhh!” Feng and Dale said, simultaneously, “That’s awesome!! Can you fly?” They looked at Kyle expectantly.

 

“Dammit, Jerome! And no, I can’t fly, but I can hover, and can float downwards a great deal. If I get a running start, I can sail over a hundred meters at a decent pace.” Kyle said, looking pretty confident. He seemed to put a great deal of importance into the length he could float.

 

“Anyways, what are you two up to today? Down for some practice sparring?” Kyle looked at Feng and Dale.

 

“We would! But we were invited to go to the Sarn Auction later on today. We’re gonna head out and check the place out.” Dale replied, shrugging.

 

Kyle whistled loosely, “Wow! How did you two get into a Sarn Auction? Even getting in just to see the auction is super expensive.” He rubbed his fingers together, as if he was counting the money.

 

“A friend invited us!” Feng said. Dale thought about Regis, and his impromptu invitation. It really was quite abrupt, but Dale was eager to see what would be auctioned.

 

“Lucky! Well, you’ll have to tell us what you see! The hands of the super rich change money at Sarn auctions, you can find the rarest of items there. I hear they have locations in other kingdoms too.” Kyle declared, as he finished eating and stood up. Jerome followed him, picking up his tray. “We’ll see you guys around!” Jerome waved, and they walked off.

 

Dale and Feng exchanged glances, and finished eating. They took their trays over to the counter, turning them in, and left the mess hall. They quickly went back to their dorms and changed. Dale went off to find his Instructor Lem, while Feng went to talk to the Principal.

 

Dale arrived at Instructors Lem’s office, which was set up in the side of one of the training buildings.

 

“Instructor!” Dale yelled, knocking on his door. Lem came to the door.

 

“Dale? What can I do for you? We don’t meet till later.”

 

“Yes master. I just wanted to ask if it’s alright if I miss practice today. A friend of mine invited me to the Sarn Auction that’s happening today, and I wanted to ask permission to go to it.” Dale replied, bowing respectfully.

 

Instructor Lem looked up in surprise, “A Sarn auction? Well, I certainly can’t hold you from that!” he said with a laugh. “It’s time you had a break, enjoy yourself! Take some time to think about your goals as well. Stay strong!” Instructor Lem smiled down at him. Dale took his leave, deciding to take a walk while he waited on Feng. As he walked towards his dorm, passing packs of students as they walked by, Dale decided to write to his grandpa. The past few weeks had been very hectic, and he hadn’t managed to find the time yet.

 

Dale went over to the Student Mail Hall, the school’s hub for mail. Students receiving or sending out mail would meet here. The Student Mail Hall was a medium sized building. It wasn’t very large, but it had a very quiet feel in it. It had a brown roof, with large, white walls surrounding it. There were no windows, though it had a very large door, at least 10 feet tall, open in the front.

 

Dale walked in the front. On the inside, there was a large counter towards the back, with large piles of mail scattered across various boxes. A tired looking old man was manning the counter, helping a pair of students send off some writing. Dale walked into line behind the two students currently being served. Soon, the students finished their business and left. Dale walked up to the front.

 

“Howdy. What can I do for you, youngster?” asked the elderly gentleman, with a kindly, if tired, smile on his face.

 

“I’d like to write a letter,” Dale began, twiddling his fingers, “I don’t have any paper or ink, though.” Dale had written to his Grandpa previously, but Feng had always been the one to take the papers to the Mailroom. Feng had a small supply of paper and ink that he used to write to his mother every week.

 

“That’s fine, that’s fine. All current students are allowed to write up to 5 articles of mail a year for free.” The elderly man handed Dale a long sheet of paper and a small jar of ink combined with a feathered pen. Dale walked over to the side, where several tables were set up, and sat down. He began writing.

 

Dear Honored Grandpa,

 

Hi Grandpa! This is Dale! Sorry for not writing in a while! The last few weeks have been super hectic, with practice and a tournament! I actually fought in a tournament! I didn’t win, but it was a lot of fun. I also have a master now! His name is Instructor Lem; he says he’s a Time Knight!

 

Anyways, Grandpa, I’m writing to you today because I need some advice. Grandpa, what should my goal in life be? I feel like I am meant to right a wrong and help fix the world, but I don’t know what wrong I need to fix. Master says that a man must have integrity, be brave, and never surrender. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I know I’m different from the other kids. Everyone else seems so happy and cheerful. But I feel like there’s something greater waiting for me. I feel like I’m destined for something else, than just sitting around in school and learning.

 

I don’t know what to do anymore, Grandpa. I feel lost. If I didn’t have my best friend, I’m not sure what I would do.

 

Love you, Dale Wensworth.

 

Dale sealed his letter and handed it to the elderly gentleman at the counter. His eyes felt heavy after writing out his worries, and he left the mail room, holding in his tears.

 

Why are you crying! Dale berated himself mentally. There’s no reason to cry. Real men don’t cry! Dale slowly recovered himself. For some reason, he felt a great deal of pain and loss, as if a block in his mind was slowly coming clean. Dale’s eyes suddenly unfocused, as his mind flashed back to memories hidden in the darkest corner of his mind.

 

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