“A ball?” Dale stared at Jerah in surprise.
“Yes! My family has finally finished securing the Onyx Mine, though they have yet to announce it to the world. However, it’s nearing the end of the year and next week is the annual Daja Ball.” Jerah began, “My Var family obviously has to send someone to go, seeing as we are one of the 6 leading families. All my other brothers are busy with the mine, so I was chosen to go.” Jerah had a slightly annoyed look on his face.
“I see,” Dale began, nodding at him, “but what does this have to do with me?”
“Well, of course if I go, you must too! I can’t go without my trusty, personal guard right?” Jerah had an evil glint in his eyes, “Misery loves company, ahahahaha!”
A short time later
Dale was listening to Jerah talk while he was sitting in a chair at a tailor’s shop. The tailor was currently measuring Dale and taking notes, writing down his body size and other measurements. Dale wasn’t really sure what exactly, now that he thought about it. He assumed he was an average height for an eleven year old, at 4 and a half feet. Many of the kids that had been at the Main School with him had been around his height.
Jerah was currently explaining the political state of Delica to him. Since Jerah had decided that Dale (against his will) was going to the Daja Ball with him, he had decided to educate him about politics in the area. Apparently, the Daja Ball was the largest Ball of the year and every noble family in the city would be there.
Nobles in the Delica City-State are separated from commoners by two main things. The first is their overwhelming strength. In order to be a noble, one’s family must have a Gold Commander at the least. The second was their wealth. Every noble house in Delica was extremely wealthy. Millions of gold lay in their hands, ever fueling the eager engine that is the economy of Delica.
In Delica, there are approximately 58 noble Houses, 6 of which are considered Great Houses. The Var family, Dale knew, was one of the 6 Great Houses. However, Jerah seemed intent on explaining the political intricacies of all 58 houses in the entire City-State. It was mind numbing, Dale had no idea how Jerah could put up with it.
He listened in on some of what he was saying,
“…and recently, the Claire family has been especially active, though no one is sure why. Two of their Silver Commanders were seen at the North gate, rushing in looking bedraggled. Our family investigated, just to make sure there wasn’t anything about you know what,” Jerah eyed the tailor out of the corner of his eye, “but found nothing suspicious. We did find a new crater that formed on the Northern End, but there was nothing in it. Now, let’s talk about the Yedd family, and their recent battles against the Jordan family over a small slight…”
Dale sank back into his state of nodding at Jerah occasionally but refusing to pay attention to anything. It’s not like he didn’t want to learn, but everything Jerah was telling him was so pointless and petty. He shook his head. Did people really fight over such petty things, Dale thought. It just didn’t seem right to him.
Dale quickly finished with the tailor, leaving the shop. Jerah had insisted that Dale go here and get fitted. He stated that if Dale was to be his (unwilling) wingman to the Ball, he would have to be properly attired.
As Dale and Jerah walked back from the tailor, Jerah went into more detail on what the Daja Ball was.
“The Daja Ball is the most famous Ball here in Delica. Since you are a foreigner, you wouldn’t know this, but every month there are several tens of Balls. It’s one of the things Nobles do, grand dances where families talk to other families, young couples mingle, and trade agreements are discussed. However, each month also has a Grand Ball. At a Grand Ball, not only is there dancing, discussions, and more, but all the cultivators in the noble class can test their strength against other cultivators, solving grudges and disputes or just practicing. It’s quite a grand sight, let me tell you. At the last Daja Ball, over ten thousand nobles showed up. Several of the smaller families young cultivators got into fierce battles on the dueling stage.” Jerah’s eyes became a little excited. Jerah was very fond of watching the fights, though he could never imagine himself in one.
“Thankfully, nobody challenges anyone in the 6 Great Houses, so we don’t have to worry about anything. Still, it will be a grand experience!” Jerah shot Dale a winning smile. Dale smiled back sickly.
However, Dale had started to look forward to the upcoming ball. When Jerah had first told him about it, he thought it would be some sort of dance, boring and uneventful. However, if others would be fighting, Dale was quite eager to learn from them. He felt like his own strength must be pitiful when compared to these nobles and was very nervous. He decided that he wouldn’t challenge anyone and would just watch. He wouldn’t want to embarrass himself in front of Jerah.
Jerah and Dale’s relationship had become unique. Though Dale was technically employed as Jerah’s personal guard, they were more like friends. Jerah respected when Dale wanted to train, just like Dale respected Jerah when he asked him a favor. Dale was satisfied and felt that as long as he could grow stronger quickly, life was pretty good. Dale hadn’t forgotten his pledge to return home, and he keenly remembered what had happened to his parents.
Dale had noticed something odd about himself. He knew what had happened to his parents as if it was his own memory. However, he had no way to explain how he knew. He clearly remembered that he was teleported away from his dying mother, but his memory stayed for a little while after, as if he was watching events from his mother’s perspective. He found it very odd, deciding to attribute it to the mysterious tablet his mother had cracked against his head.
Recently, the quiet whispers Dale had heard in his mind had begun to quiet down. Whenever Dale tried to concentrate on what the voice was saying, it mysteriously vanished. He wasn’t certain what it was and decided to ignore it till he found a way to deal with it.
With all these things on his mind it was no wonder Dale decided to focus and concentrate on his training rather than deal with the many odd things in his life. However, Jerah had interrupted that, bringing Dale to where he was now.
Jerah looked at Dale expectantly, breaking Dale from his musings.
“Yeah! It’ll be fun!” Dale smiled back at him, trying to sound confident.
Jerah had opted to walk with Dale to the tailor rather than take a carriage, so the boys walked back to the Var Family Estate, taking in the sights around them. Every time Dale walked around the city, he was amazed at the sights. The world underground was truly amazing. Shops could be seen everywhere, advertising all sorts of powerful weapons and armor, rare pets and monsters, expensive foods, and luxurious drinks. To Dale, these people lived in a sort of wonderland.
They quickly passed out of the district they were in, heading up the stalagmite to Jerah’s home. In about 15 minutes they reached the top without trouble, arriving at Jerah’s house. Jerah quickly split off from Dale, citing that he needed to help organize something concerning the new Onyx Mine. Dale waved off his apologies, returning to the back of his room to meditate.
Dale sat for about 15 minutes before deciding to go outside his room and test his technique in the Var Gardens.
The Var Family Garden is called a garden, but it really should be named a small valley or forest. The Var Family had gone to great troubles to transport trees from the surface of Theldon all the way to their personal estates, growing several of the saplings using mysterious techniques. Somehow, the trees managed to live off of the light shown by the hundreds of light bearing globes spread across the cave ceiling in the Under Cave. These globes never dimmed, even when it would have been night on the over world.
Dale entered his Perfect Balance mode, immediately taking note of everything nearby. He felt the presence of the two Steel Commanders outside his door, standing guard. Dale smiled slightly, turning to face the outside wall of the room he was in. He immediately compressed time and began his Fallen God’s Piercing Lance technique, coalescing his energy into a point. He held back a good deal of his strength, not wanting to cause a massive impact. Dale precisely drilled into the wall, piercing several exact holes in the stone. Soon, he managed to completely cut a small hole in the wall, leading to the outside world. Dale slithered through it, replacing the hole with the rocks he had cut. He smiled, giddy with excitement. His plan had worked!
Dale was currently standing on the side of the Var Family Estate. The Var Family Garden actually started about 10 meters from where he was standing. Dale quickly snuck over, hiding himself among the imported trees. The ground beneath him was a rich soil, a comfortable feeling he hadn’t felt in a long time. He looked around, admiring the great oaks and pines.
Dale quickly moved to the center of the garden where there was a great rocky valley. Jerah had said this part was undeveloped and was eventually going to be destroyed, eventually being replaced with soil. Dale figured it would be the perfect place to practice.
After a minute of jogging, he came to the site, a large, rocky plateau surrounded by trees. Several large boulders stuck out of the grown, piercing through the cave floor. Dale jumped off a few of them, admiring the feeling of flying through the air. He settled down, preparing his concentration. Dale fell deeper into his Perfect Balance, reaching towards a sort of harmony with the land. He suddenly jumped forward, aiming all of his energy and his legs’ strength at a precise angle to kick off the ground. Immediately, Dale shot forward, moving at a practically inhuman speed. He blasted off 3 boulders, barely keeping control, before he flew off the plateau into one of the large oak trees.
He smashed into the tree and fell down, protecting his head. He sat on the ground for a moment.
Dale mentally noted that he shouldn’t use his full power when performing the Shatter Step technique unless he absolutely had to. Even with his Perfect Balance, it was extremely hard to handle such a large acceleration force. Dale quickly jogged back to the center of the plateau. He looked down at where he had been standing, in shock.
A massive crater had formed, cracking the ground he had stood upon. A collage of cracks spread out, as if a massive force had smashed into the ground. Several large rocks had been blasted upward, forming an enormous impact crater. It was as if a god had descended and smashed down on the ground. The crater was approximately 5 meters across, shaped in a circle.
Dale looked down at his feet in awe before coming to a realization. It wasn’t Dale, himself, who had caused the impact; it was the rebound of his force versus the great, shifting force of the earth. He looked down, wondering if there was some way he could adapt that force into his attacks.
Theldon Continent – Somewhere above ground
An ominous council of figures sat around a circular table with a large hole in the middle. The table had a small break in it where a person could enter the hollow section and talk. At the opposite side of the break in the table was a large throne. A masked figure sat on the throne, looking down at the other masked figures around the table. He had a large zero carved into his mask. Suddenly, he raised his arms, a deep voice calling out,
“Our Council is now in session. This will be the 237th Numbers Council Session.”
Several of the masked figures sitting around the table nodded. There were twelve figures sitting around the table, with spots for two more that were empty. The figure on the throne spoke again,
“I have called this Council together to discuss a matter of great importance.” The masked figure gave off an oppressive aura, tyrannical and powerful.
“Recently, one of the guardians felt a disturbance in one of the sealed gates. It has been determined that something or someone has torn apart one of the Sealings, releasing a monster upon the world.” The masked figures surrounding the table perked up, looking at the man on the throne intently.
One of the figures on the table suddenly spoke up. The figure was bulky and powerful, giving off a fiery aura. He had a number 3 carved into his mask.
“Where? Which Sealing was broken?” His voice came out slowly and quietly, with a raspy, burned quality.
The masked man on the throne paused for a moment before replying,
“It appears to be one of the Sealings in the Under Cave, here on Theldon.”
A figure to the left of the previous speaker spoke up, startled,
“The Under Cave? Aren’t Otto and Dieci down there?” The speaker was a masked woman with a 7 carved into her mask. Her tone was cold and ruthless, though when she said Otto’s name, it warmed slightly.
The masked man on the throne turned to her,
“Yes, Sette. They’re both still down there.” He gestured towards the empty seats on the table.
A reedy looking man with a 5 carved into his mask spoke up, asking,
“Is there any information on whose Sealing it was? I don’t recall any Sealings being there.”
The masked figure on the throne looked at the reedy looking man. A powerful aura broke out from the figure on the throne as he responded.
“Yes, unfortunately there is.” The masked figure on the throne sighed,
“It appears to be the ancient Sealing of Caladan Brood, the King of the Titans.”