The Gemstone Chronicles – Book 3 – Chapter 4

Theldon continent, The Under Cave

Dale woke to darkness. He groaned, clutching his head, as he moved around, shifting his weight. He drew his hand across the ground, feeling the rough surface beneath him. A solid rocky feeling of stone greeted his palms.

He sat up, looking around unsteadily. He was in a cave, underground. Dale tried to gather himself, to remember how he got here, but his mind came up fuzzy. The last thing he could recall was going fishing with Feng, outside the Capital.

Dale began exploring the subterranean chamber he was in. Though it was a cave, it was shaped like a room of some sort, and had only one entranceway. When Dale tried to walk through the entrance, however, he found that an invisible barrier stopped him. Dale stared at it in consternation, before drawing energy from his core to make an attempt at breaking it.

When Dale went to draw energy through his veins, however, what he found astonished him.

“My Core is at the Steel level?!?” He said in astonishment. Dale internally examined his energy, feeling his aura. Indeed, he was at the Steel Core level. Over the past month, while Dale’s internal mind had been unconscious, Slayer had rapidly trained Dales body, increasing his strength and cultivation, raising it all the way to the Steel Core level. Dale looked down at his hands, surprised.

Filled with newfound confidence, Dale concentrated his Aura, and began compressing time around his body. He quickly moved through his favored kata and launched the Fallen Gods Piercing Lance technique, a massive point of energy slamming into the invisible barrier.

Dales blow smashed into the barrier, rippling, and then spread out, having no practical effect on the shield. Dale stared at it in consternation. Now that his strength was at the Steel Core level, the force behind his techniques had greatly increased. Yet, he was still unable to pierce this single barrier.

Dale sat down to think. He knew he was now at the Steel Core level, had appeared randomly somewhere underground, and he could remember nothing prior to now, till the point he and Feng went fishing. He concluded he must have suffered some form of memory loss, but he wasn’t quite sure how. As he pondered, a thought struck him.

Memory loss?! Dale thought, instantly worried. He quickly tried to recall the Godly 108 Arts Aura art he had memorized, bringing it to the forefront of his mind. Thankfully, though he no longer had the scroll on him, he still remembered the basics of the technique. He wasn’t able to practice this Art yet, however; He needed to be at the Silver Core level before he could safely control its power.

Dale pondered what had happened, trying to recall even a scrap of memory. Whenever he tried to focus on recent events though, his mind felt like it ran into a wall, and the longer he tried, the more painful it felt. Dale quickly abandoned his efforts and decided to look for a way out of this room. He would figure out his memory problem later, when he was hidden away.

A soft light was glowing from the entranceway, giving Dale enough light to look around. He searched again, closely inspecting the cave. The room he was in was shaped roughly like an oval. It had one entrance wall on one side, and the other side ended in rock. Nothing was growing in this cave, and everything he could see looked like solid granite. Dale felt around for a bit, trying to discover a way out, to no avail.

Struck by a though, Dale entered Perfect Balance mode. He was met by another surprise. When he entered into his Perfect Balance, he was astonished to feel how natural it felt and how powerful it had become. Previously, when he used his Perfect Balance, he was able to tell what direction forces were moving in, and their degree of strength. However, now he felt like he could tell where forces were coming form exactly, as well as predict where they would be in the next moment. He felt amazingly in balance with the world, and with time.

Dale walked up to the barrier, observing it. In his Perfect Balance, he was able to discern how the barrier worked. It was simply a large, overlaid shield, layered in thick layers that blocked the entrance and absorbed any impact. After observing it completely, he came to the conclusion that it wasn’t something he could pierce. Dale looked around his room again, looking for a weak spot in the walls. He found nothing, however, and settled down to wait.

Dale assumed that this barrier must have been placed by someone or something. So, he decided he would just wait the person that placed it to come out. “Eventually, they have to come, right?” He thought, settling down on the rocky ground.

Dale fell into meditation, running the energy through his veins, and checking on his newfound powerful Core. Now that he was at the Steel Core level, he needed to adjust how he attacked and moved, to coordinate with his new strength. Great power is good, but not being able to utilize that strength to the maximum would put him in a dangerous situation. If he couldn’t properly judge his strength, he might dodge into enemy attacks, or worse.

Drawing the energy, using it, everything felt surprisingly naturally to Dale. He was truly curious as to what had happened in the time he forgot. He didn’t feel much older, so he assumed it hadn’t been that long.

As Dale meditated, he maintained his Perfect Balance, discovering that it placed almost no strain at all on him. He decided to stay in this mode, and to find out how long he could keep in it. Dale sat like this for two hours before anything happened.

Two hours later, as Dale was once again mentally practicing his time compression, discovering that, even with the increase in power, the amount he could slow time by remained the same, he felt more then saw movement past the barrier.

When Dale maintained his Perfect Balance, he could physically sense everything that happened within 10 meters of him. When he first gained his Perfect Balance, the amount of distance his senses covered was a mere 5 meters. For him to have doubled this length in so short a time was truly monstrous.

As such, Dale felt the air shift slightly by the barrier. He opened his eyes, searching the corridor in front of him.

Before him stood a masked figure. He was covered in dark black leather, wearing a pale black porcelain mask. The mask gave off an aura of power, and had a number 8 carved into it. The mask completely covered the mans face, giving Dale no hint as to who he was.

The man was facing Dale, looking at him cautiously beneath his mask.

Dale stood up, staying in Perfect Balance.

“Where am I?” Dale asked, nervously. This was the first human he had seen in hours, and he was eager to find out more about his missing memory.

The masked figure turned his head slightly at Dale, before responding with a soft voice,

“You are in the southern sector just south of Menar.” Dale stared at him in confusion. He tried to pull up a mental map of the world, and looked for somewhere named Menar. He came up blank.

“Am I still in Morn?” Dale asked, observing the masked figure, “Where is this cave located?”

The masked figured paused, tiling its head to the side slightly. Then, he responded,

“You are on the continent of Theldon, in the Under Cave. You are tens of thousands of miles away from Chel.”

Dale stared at him in shock. “He was on a completely different continent than Chel?!” He thought, his mind a whirlpool of confusion. As his thoughts tumbled around, the masked figure continued speaking.

“How odd. You’re truly surprised to be on a different continent. How did you arrive here?” The masked figured sat down, crossing his legs and watching Dale.

Dale tried to remember again, but couldn’t pierce past the thick cloud in his memories. He gave up and shrugged, saying, “I don’t know. I can’t remember. Would you mind telling me who you are, sir?” Dale inquired, trying to find out what had happened. “Why are you holding me here?”

The black masked man stared at him and replied, “I found you roaming in the Infested Caves, covered in a ferocious aura. I at first mistook you for an Attribute Beast of some demonic kind, and attacked you. However, you attacked me back, going wild, using techniques that only a human could use. I knocked you unconscious, and brought you to this shallow cave to recover.” The man seemed to shrug apologetically, “Now that you’ve calmed down, you seem like an entirely different person.”

“What!?” Dale yelled out, “You attacked me?! Wait I attacked you!? Infested caves!?” Dales mind went into overdrive.

“You really don’t remember?” The masked man said, looking at Dale curiously.

“I don’t! I really don’t! My last memory is going fishing with my friend, in the Morn Kingdom.” Dale continued talking, trying to figure out what to do, “I need to get back! Uh sir, you wouldn’t happen to know any fast ways back to Morn?” Dale looked at him nervously.

“Yes, there are ways, but I’m afraid none of them are something you could do, at your current strength.” The masked man began, shaking his head. “The Chel continent is surrounded by a vicious and powerful oceanic current, filled with terrifying Attribute Beasts. Even I would have trouble traveling there on my own. To reach the Chel continent with your own strength, you would have to be a Gem Core cultivator, at the least.”

One of the key reasons Chel remained independent, despite the relatively weak level of cultivators on the continent, was because of this huge current. Several attempts had been made at invading Chel by various kingdoms, but all had ended in failure, overwhelmed by hundreds of gargantuan sea creatures. Ships that managed to defend themselves against the Attribute Beast swarms were destroyed by the whirlpools and massive forces colliding in the currents around Chel.

Dale listened, his heart gradually becoming troubled. It sounded like he had no choice but to live here, till he became strong enough to return on his own. He wondered if he should even trust this stranger, whom he had never met. According to the man, however, Dale had been fighting against him and the stranger hadn’t killed him. That being said, he decided he would trust him for now. Dale felt at his chest and noticed that his ribs were indeed sore, and after checking out the rest of his body, he found several bruises and cuts he didn’t have previously, when he and Feng left to fish. He also found several scars that had grown over somewhat, indicating the missing time in his mind.

“Well, it is no concern of mine as to whether you return home or not. I saved you out of curiosity, it was a nice conversation.” The black masked man said, rising to leave.

“Wait!” Dale shouted out impulsively, “I don’t know where I am right now. Would you mind helping me find a city, senior?” Dale bowed respectfully, looking at the masked man from the corner of his eye.

“There is a city roughly 10 miles from here. If you follow the long cavern to your right when you exit here, you’ll reach it eventually. I don’t have the time to baby sit you there.” The masked man waved his arm dismissively, and the barrier blocking Dales way suddenly vanished. The moment the barrier dropped, however, Dale could suddenly sense the aura the man was giving off.

It was a powerful dark aura, riven with streaks of gold. A Black Gold cultivator!! Dale thought, surprise filling his eyes. And one that’s at the late phase as well!

Within the Black Cold Core level, there were 3 separate sub levels. These were the initial phase, where ones aura would be gold streaked with black, the middle phase, where even amounts of black and gold mix, and the late phase, where ones aura would be pure black, streaked with stripes of gold.

A late phase Black Gold Core cultivator was extremely powerful. Dale imagined himself attacking the warrior and assumed he would be instantly killed. Dale bowed quickly,

“Thank you, great elder, for your kind treatment of me.” Dale showed him the utmost respect.

“I will take my leave, sir.” Dale said, looking back up at the masked man.

However, when he looked back up for him, he found that the masked man was already gone. Dale looked around, surprised. He hadn’t expected the man to be able to escape the notice of his Perfect Balance so easily, even at the Black Gold level.

Dale stepped out of the small cave, and turned to the right, headed towards the long corridor the man had told him about, intent on finding civilization, and figuring out what to do.

Theldon Continent, Somewhere underground

A man covered in black rippling muscles sat, meditating, in his circular prison. His eyes flickered back and forth, sensing the flows of energy in the great pentagonal diagram under him. Glowing light swirled around him, faint energy chains flickering in and out of existence.

The man was standing in front of a specific spot in the room. There was a very faint, small crack in the wall in front of him. He had been punching this crack, over and over, for the past month. As time went on, the crack had slowly formed, and was beginning to lengthen. At the rate it was cracking, it would completely open in mere years.

His dark eyes glinted, as he continued slamming his enormous strength into the wall, an overbearing Diamond Aura covering his arm.

Softly, so quietly no one besides the man himself could hear, he began speaking aloud.

“So many centuries I have waited for this.” He mused, as he slammed his right arm forward, causing small cracks to appear in the air, vibrating before disappearing.

“I will be free, soon, oh world.” His eyes gleamed, his body rapidly expanding and then de-expanding, his muscles concentrating to enormous proportions. The very cells in his skin began to combine, increasing their density as they overcame human limitations.

“You will come to fear me, for I will bring change. I will show you, world, what you have kept so desperately locked away.”

“For I am Caladan Brood, Lord of Starlight, Ruler of the Broken Army, Commander of the Arzelf Legion.”

“I am Caladan Brood. Titan King.”

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