The Gemstone Chronicles – Book 3 – Chapter 21

“WHAT??!” Jerah spat out the water he had been drinking, sitting up. His eyes gained a fervent gleam.

“The Taron Academy?!” Jerah looked at Dale in complete shock, not believing his own ears.

Dale stared back,

“Uh, yeah? That’s what he said the school name was.”

Jerah looked at him for a moment, confused, wondering why Dale wasn’t freaking out as well.

“Ahhhh! Righttt! You aren’t from here.” He shook his head, a giddy smile appearing on his face.

“Dale! The Taron Academy is one of the legends of Theldon. On the continent of Theldon, the only safe place for humans in the Under Cave. Above ground lie huge colonies of monsters. Hundreds of thousands of powerful monsters roam the surface, killing and fighting each other. You can find Black Gold commander level monsters by the dozen. Even powerful Gem Core monsters live up there, ruling remote regions.”

Jerah’s eyes lit up as he spoke, passionate about what he told Dale,

“The Taron Academy safeguards the Under Cave. All the City-States pay respect to the Taron Academy, sending students and warriors to aid them. They guard the main entrance between the Under Cave and the surface.”

Dale looked at Jerah confused,

“Why don’t the monsters just tunnel through the ground? I mean, it’s not like the Under Cave is hidden.”

Jerah shook his head in response,

“The Under Cave lies miles and miles below the surface of Theldon. As well, the rock gradually becomes denser and denser the deeper you dig on the surface. When you are halfway to the Under Cave, even Gem Core monsters would take several days to dig a mere inch.” Jerah explained the various mechanics of the Under Cave world to Dale, outlining important facts. These teachings had been passed down for years, taught by the elders of each family.

There is only one entrance and one exit to the Under Cave. A large winding pathway exists that leads from the surface to the Under Cave. At the largest part of this pathway lies an area known as the Red Gate. The Taron Academy lies just beyond the Red Gate, an enormous fortress and school.

The Academy is renowned for it’s terrible power. Every teacher that worked there was at least the Black Gold level, many at the Gem Core level. The Taron Academy was the strongest fighting force in the entire Under Cave. They could easily defeat any City-State around, thrice over. Dale’s eyes began to shine as he learned more and more about this powerful school.

Outside the Taron Academy lies the City-State of Lev. Lev is also well known, famous for its massive size and scope, as well as the might of its powerful Leviathan Knights. The fact that Lev borders the Taron Academy meant that no sane City-State would dare attack it. Thanks to this, Lev had been expanding and growing at an astronomical rate. Lev was easily ten times the size of Delica, a mighty City-State on its own.

Jerah looked at Dale seriously,

“You want to become strong enough to return to your continent right? The Taron Academy will be the fastest way for you to rapidly gain strength.” He nodded significantly.

Dale looked at him, agreeing,

“Alright! It’s a plan! To the Taron Academy I’ll go!”

In the blink of an eye, a month had passed.

A great deal of things happened in that month. Firstly, Dale continued refining the Dragon Sea that was the first layer of his Dragon God’s Overwhelming Aura Art which he had picked up at that auction so long ago. Dale felt that his mastery of the first layer had solidified a great deal, his Dragon Sea growing even larger. After consummate practice, he found that he could use the power in his Dragon Sea for 9 or 10 seconds. However, he was still nowhere near completely mastering the first layer.

Dale’s mastery of his Shatter Steps technique had also grown a great deal. By experimenting with energy from his Dragon Sea, Dale was able to control the enormous rebound impact. With a single kick he could easily shatter enormous edifices, causing massive craters to appear in the Northern End where he practiced. However, he couldn’t use the technique to actually attack. He could only use it when hitting something that was connected to or part of the earth. He hadn’t found a way to transmute the force into the air. He supposed it looked pretty awesome for intimidation purposes.

Dale hadn’t practiced the Time Art he learned from the Order of Fallen Time as much as the other two techniques, however. He was stuck at slowing time to a little over three quarters and found that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t make progress. He decided that he would ask one of the teachers at the Taron Academy for advice on his issues.

Jerah had received his cut of money for finding the Onyx mine. He then split half of that with Dale, giving him an enormous amount of wealth. He had handed Dale several small black cards, official known as Onyx Cards. The small rectangular card was near indestructible and was covered in mysterious symbols. Each Onyx card was worth 1,000,000 gold, exchangeable at the main bank throughout the Under Cave, the Seraf Banking Conglomerate. Jerah received 20 Onyx Cards for finding the mine and gave Dale 10.

Dale looked down at his newfound wealth happily. He was now worth slightly over 10,000,000 gold. It was more wealth than he had ever seen in his entire life. He reckoned it was more wealth than any kid he knew back in Morn had ever seen in their lives either. He quickly packed the cards into a small pouch he tied to his waist.

Now that he was no longer penniless, Dale decided to go shopping before he went off to school. He decided that he would get a ranked weapon, as well as cultivation supplies and anything else that caught his eye. Dale felt giddy having so much money and was eager to spend some of it, a childish glee overtaking him.

Dale and Jerah set out from the Var Family estate, heading towards one of the large market areas of Delica. They were followed by several Var Family guards, ostensibly to protect Jerah.

After ten minutes of walking, Dale arrived in one of the many central squares in Delica. However, this central square, known as the Noble’s Square, was rather unique. To gain access to this street one must have a certain level of wealth or nobility. If Jerah hadn’t accompanied Dale it would have taken him much longer to get into the square.

There were several shops spread around the square, packed tightly into the sides. Nobles walked by quietly, many shopping with an air of purpose surrounding them.

On the southern side of the large square lay a weapons shop. The front of the shop had a small glass window, advertising some of the weapons within. This shop was one of the most crowded of all the shops here. Nobles walked in and out of the store, many leaving holding powerful looking swords or axes.

Dale walked in with Jerah, looking around the large store. Several hundreds of weapons were on display, spread out on the wall. Dale recalled the Ranking system used to rank weapons, noting that none of the weapons on display were higher than Rank 5, the lowest rank. Rank 5 weapons wouldn’t cost more than 10,000 gold.

Several of the shoppers looked up as Dale and Jerah entered, sniffing disdainfully. Quite a few even let out a small laugh, shaking their heads as the kids walked around. All the nobles here were at least approaching twenty years of age or older. To see a couple of kids come shopping for weapons alone was a ludicrous sight. A few recognized Dale, however, thanks to the splash he made at the Borealis Top, and broke out into whispers.

Dale ignored the sneers and whispers, eager to find a weapon that suited him. He quickly scoured the walls and shelves, looking for a match. Dale found several powerful looking and well-made weapons, but nothing that he thought he had to have.

In the back of the shop sat an unforgiving looking overweight smith. His old eyes were calmly set on the entirety of the shop, taking in everyone’s actions. He looked to be in his late 50s or early 60s, with a greying beard and tired eyes.

Dale walked up to the man confidently, not bothered in the slightest by the old smith’s glare.

“Do you have any better weapons? The ones here don’t interest me very much.” Dale declared, looking at the grumpy looking shopkeeper expectantly.

The shopkeeper looked at Dale incredulously.

“Lad, these be weapons for killing, not for play. If you want a weapon to pla-“

Dale glared at him,

“No. I want to see your more powerful weapons.” Dale brought out an Onyx Card, drawing a gasp of appreciation from onlookers.

“If it’s about money, I can pay.”

The previously bored looking shopkeeper quickly bowed respectfully and led Dale to the back, smiling at him. Jerah followed quickly leaving the rest of the store behind.

In the back section of the store there were several racks of weapons set on the wall. Immediately Dale could tell that these blades were of a much higher quality than the decent blades in the front of the shop. The smith started describing the weapons,

“Each weapon you see here is either at the peak of Rank 5 or solidly a Rank 4 weapon. Crafted by the finest of smiths, many of these swords hail from ancient times.” The shopkeeper continued talking about the weapons, describing their histories.

Dale looked at the weapon racks, seeing long swords, short swords, heavy swords, axes, maces, daggers, bludgeons, and more. He even saw a few fine rapiers that caught his eye. However, looking down at the amount of wealth he had, none of the weapons seemed like the high-ranking weapon he wanted.

It must be said that using a powerful weapon is extremely important for a cultivator. A strong weapon can allow one to put the strain of damage techniques on the weapon instead of the user. The stronger weapons would enhance a user’s strength, allowing one’s techniques to go above their normal power.

Towards the back end of the row, Dale found a long, straight claymore. It was covered in mysterious symbols and gave off a powerful Aura. The hilt of the blade was shaped like a dragon, dyed a dark red as if covered in blood. The weapon itself was pure black, with the mysterious grey symbols faintly covering the sword. Dale felt like the blade was drawing to him, as if it was calling his name out. He looked up at the shopkeeper, asking about the weapon.

The shopkeeper responded,

“Ah yes, this is a weapon that is practically an antique. A mysterious blade that will change its weight according to the Aura you infuse it with. I would only recommend the sword if you practice an Aura Art, and even then it’s very unwieldy. Come, look at one of these fine blades over here.” The smith indicated some other weapons down the wall that he apparently wanted to sell.

Dale looked at the weapon again, feeling a sense of belonging with the weapon.

“What rank is this sword?” He asked the shopkeeper, curious.

The shopkeeper stared at the sword as if annoyed for a moment before saying,

“We are sure it is a high ranking weapon, at least Rank 4! However, because of its age and relative obscurity, as well as its lack of use for most cultivators, we have been unable to determine what its official rank is. The asking price for it is 1 million gold.”

Jerah was currently admiring other weapons on the wall. He wasn’t very interested in Arts and battles, but he couldn’t help but admire fine craftsmanship. However, when he heard the shopkeeper name a price he gasped in outrage,

“1 million gold for a Rank 4 sword?! That’s highway robbery!” He stared at the shop owner angrily.

The old man shrugged,

“It’s an antique as well as a weapon. That’s my price, and if yon youngster wants it, he’ll buy it. Otherwise, we have a very fine collection of swords over her-“

“Deal!” Dale yelled out, picking up the blade. As soon as his skin touched it, he felt the temperature in the room drop for an extremely brief second, the air swirling. However, after a moment, everything returned to normal. He held the blade up, admiring it as it smoothly cut through the air.

Dale took out one of the Onyx Cards and handed it to the shopkeeper, holding his new blade comfortably. The shopkeeper gave a slight bow and handed him a complimentary scabbard to sheathe the weapon in. Dale slid the blade into the scabbard with a clink, admiring the weight on his back. It wasn’t a very heavy blade, but Dale couldn’t wait to test it out.

Jerah shrugged, turning around to leave the store now that Dale had found a sword. He just wasn’t as interested in weapons as he was in other things.

“Off to the Core Sellers!” He declared, preparing to lead Dale out of the shop.

Dale turned around before he left, remembering a question,

“Shopkeeper sir! What is the name of this weapon?”

The shopkeeper turned around, an odd look in his eye.

“The blade’s name be Aarsasho.” He nodded again to Dale, watching them leave the back area of his shop and exit from the front.

Dale looked at his blade and smiled, feeling a deep kinship with the weapon.

“Aarsasho eh?” He said, looking down at the claymore, “A fine name, a fine name indeed.” Dale followed Jerah over to a store on the other side, ready to purchase Cultivation Cores and more.

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