The Gemstone Chronicles – Book 3 – Chapter 5

Dale had been walking for several minutes before he noticed something odd. As he walked down this long corridor cave, he saw several different types of moss and lichen growing in this cave. For some reason, he felt like he had already seen these plants before. He racked his mind, and found no recollection of anything similar to them before the missing part of his memory. Yet the feeling persisted, even so. He assumed that somewhere in his missing memories, he explored a cave similar to this one.

He continued walking, pondering his hole filled memory. He also wondered how large the cave system he was in was. He had been walking for over 15 minutes already, and saw no real difference in the cave. He noticed a few mole-like creatures creep by and felt a rumble in his stomach. He turned his head, watching a small group of four moles skitter by, salivating. Dale was rather hungry and he couldn’t remember the last time he ate. He stared after the moles, moving forward eagerly.

Dale instinctively reached into his leg pocket, finding a sleek knife. It was made out of some sharp tooth or claw, sharpened to a deadly point. He stared at it in confusion, having never seen it before. He mentally shrugged, moving on.

Dale walked up to one of the moles that was feeding on a small clump of glowing moss. As he crept forward, he drew out his knife, slowing time to increase his concentration. As soon as he got close enough, he lashed out, his knife flying towards the head of the creature.

“VVVVVWWHIIP!”

The dagger pierced the mole-thing right in the brain, killing it instantly. Dale pounced on it, quickly skinning it and preparing to eat.

He stopped, staring at his hands. Dale tried to recall learning how to kill these creatures, or how to skin them, but came up blank. He didn’t even know what they were called. Not finding any solution, Dale devoured the flesh of the mole, eating his fill. It had an odd stringy texture that again felt eerily familiar, like he had eaten it before. He mentally shrugged, continuing walking.
The pathway he walked down was strangely free of any dangerous creatures, he noted. He had an odd feeling, like he should constantly be on guard. However, after observing his surroundings as well as walking several miles, nothing dangerous happened. No monsters lunged out at him, no disasters broke forth. Dale slowly relaxed his guard and began enjoying the atmosphere as he walked.

He noticed that the corridor he was walking in was slowly widening. When he had first walked down it, it was a perhaps 15ft (5M) wide. Now, at its widest point, it was over 25ft (8.3M) wide. Dale strained his senses, looking again for any sign of danger, but came up with nothing. He continued his journey, taking in the sights of the odd glowing moss and wavy cave wall, walking for several more hours.

Despite having walked for hours, however, Dales legs weren’t the least bit tired. He practiced jumping a few times while he walked, getting used to the Steel Cores new strength in his body. His Earth Movement Art, Heavy Footsteps, Quick Movement, felt too easy for him to do Dale decided. Dale practiced running with it over and over, jumping off the cave walls at erratic angles.

As he dodged to and fro, Dale began to sense something more in his movement Art. Dale found that if he strained his Perfect Balance to the limit at the moment of impact, when he smashed his foot against the ground to perform the movement Art, he felt a powerful force inherent in the Earth. Dale stopped, immediately focusing on this piece of information. He practiced over and over, slowly getting a feel for it. At the precise time his foot impacted with the ground, he could sense a gentle yet immovable force within the earth, slowly shifting.

What Dale was sensing was the shifting movement of this planet’s tectonic plates. Tectonic plates make up the rigid outermost shell of a planet. There are eight major tectonic plates on the planet of Kor, and innumerable minor ones. Normally completely imperceptible to regular humans, Dale managed to perceive the delicately powerful movements thanks to his newfound prowess using his Perfect Balance.

As Dale slammed off against the ground, over and over, he began to understand the underlying secrets of the movements of tectonic plates.

Abruptly, inspiration struck him as his mind suddenly underwent a revelation. Dale began moving his legs in a powerful but gentle movement, striking the ground with great force, but at precise angles relative to the movements of the tectonic plates. His speed skyrocketed, moving at least twice as fast he was previously able to. His mind continued undergoing the revelation, insight flowing into him as he dodged forward, moving in sleek, fast movements. Every time his foot struck down, small ripples appeared in the earth before being absorbed by the surrounding rock. It was an exceedingly odd sight and if anyone had been there to witness, they would have remarked on it.

Just as suddenly as the moment of insight had struck him however, it abruptly faded away. Dale looked down at the ground in awe, overwhelmed by the majesty and power present in the tectonic plates. After learning the small amount he did, he understood that he had only grasped a small percentage of the vast secrets hidden within the earth.

Dale quickly memorized his new movement art, committing the actions to muscle memory. He realized, with awe, that this technique was many times more powerful then his previous movement Art, allowing him to dodge much more quickly and cover ground at a much faster rate.

“I can’t keep calling you my old Art’s name,” Dale mused, as his movements echoed down the corridor, “That’s it… I’ll call this Art the Shifting Earth, Broken Land Art!” He committed the name to memory.

Dale continued practicing his new Art, rapidly covering the last miles left till he exited the corridor. The Shifting Earth, Broken Land Art used the same amount of strength and energy he used in his previous Art, but at more or less twice the result. This allowed him to exit the corridor in a mere 45 minutes, instead of the hour and a half he had originally had left to journey.

Arriving at the exit of the corridor, Dale walked into a small battlefield. The exit to the corridor opened up onto a huge cavern, one dimly lit by massive globes of glowing rock, set in the ceiling. Dale stared up in awe, amazed. It was as if he had walked into an entire world, all under ground. The distance from the ground to the roof of the cave rose to an incredible 3,000 ft (1000M), the roof barely perceptible even for Dale. As he walked out into the gargantuan cavern, he noted that he could not see an end to the expanse before him. Mile after mile of dark cave land stretched onward, an endless plain under the earth.

However, immediately before him, a small force of humans was battling against a much larger force of lizard like humanoid creatures. The lizard like creatures were shaped roughly like a human, with two arms and legs, and a humanoid torso. They were covered in scant leather armor, or simply a loincloth, and wielded huge sharp blades and axes. They were also covered in scales, glinting a bright green in the dank cave light, with lizard tails on their lower backs.

The humans were completely surrounded, enclosed in a circle, defending a smaller group of humans in the center. Many of them were dressed in light mail armor or plain leather armor, decorated with a red shield and red sword emblem. There were about 30 humans, deployed in a circle surrounding 5 or 6 other younger humans. The humans in the center of the circle were dressed in silk or expensive looking garments, and stared out fearfully at the attacking lizardmen. The fighting humans looked like they had been fighting a while, and many of them were covered in Iron or Copper Auras. Blood covered the field, as the screams of the dying rang out. An imposing man wielding a massive great axe was covered in a Steel Aura, and yelled out orders as the men defended.

The attacking lizards must have numbered at least a hundred, and all of them were covered in Iron or Copper Auras as well, with a trio covered in Steel Auras attacking the human commander.

Dale took all of this in and instantly came to a decision. While he might not know who any of them were, it was obvious that the lizardmen had attacked the humans first. Dale instantly decided to help his fellow humans, using the opportunity to test his new movement Art as well as gather a better understanding of his newfound Steel Core strength.

Dale entered his Perfect Balance and lunged forward, rapidly advancing till he reached the back of the attacking lizardmen’s party. He immediately struck out, launching a powerful punch towards the neck of one lizard warrior. His powerful blow shot out and caved in the monsters neck, blasting the lizard off to one side, instantly killing it. It’s body collided with a second lizard, knocking that lizard off its feet. Dale continued attacking, killing four more of the creatures before he was noticed.

“HISSSSSSS!” several of the lizardmen turned to face Dale, launching great swipes of their swords or claws at him. Dale was able to perfectly sense each attack, and smoothly dodged each one, his speed greatly advanced thanks to his new movement Art.

Dale went on a rampage, slaughtering lizard warrior after lizard warrior, none of them able to stand in his way. When the humans noticed his efforts, they began to cheer, pressing forward their own attack. After killing his fortieth lizardman, two of the Steel Aura lizard warriors broke off from attacking the human commander and spun around, advancing on Dale.

They reached Dale in seconds and began to attack. For the first time this entire fight, Dale found himself hard pressed. Each Steel Lizard warrior alone wasn’t very difficult. However, the two warriors acted as a perfect team, each covering for the other, and made it very difficult for Dale to counterattack. After blocking another attack from the Steel duo, Dale completely focused his energy on watching their attacks, trying to predict what would happen.

He felt more than saw the Steel lizard warrior to his right slip a minute amount. A normal fighter would never have noticed, and the time it took the lizard to recover was much too little to be called an opening.

Regardless, Dale reacted instantly, thrusting out his arm in a powerful motion, slipping past the lizards guard and piercing its chest. Quickly, he ducked his body to the right, slipping out of the reach of the second lizard, as he blasted the body of the first to the side.

The first lizard fell over, instantly dead, its heart pierced by Dales powerful attack. Without his comrade assisting him, the second lizard was no match for Dale, and was quickly killed, its chest shattered by one of Dales powerful blows.

The morale of the surrounding lizards fell upon seeing two of their three leaders death, and the monsters began fleeing. Dale killed a few more, striking out his arms and legs in powerful motions, before watching the rest leave. The human commander laid several deadly strikes against the last remaining Steel lizard before the monster escaped, running off to join its animalistic pack, it’s body covered in small wounds.

Dale sat on the ground panting, gasping air in to his aching body. While he was certainly strong enough to use his new Art and strength, he had not completely adapted to it, and would need a few more days to get used to his strength. The human commander walked up to him.

The human commander replaced his great axe on his back and bowed to Dale saying,

“Thank you very much, young master. Your aid was well timed. May I inquire as to your name?” The bear like commander gave off a fierce, if tired, aura. He was covered in bloody wounds, though he acted like he didn’t feel any of them.

Dale replied, “I am Dale, Dale Wensworth. I actually happen to be lost, moving about in these caves. I have no memory of how I got here and was looking for a city when I saw your party. I couldn’t not help when I see others in need, so here I am.” Dale smiled, rubbing on his sore muscles. One of the finely dressed noble children walked forward.

“That was amazing! I’ve never seen someone so young be so strong!” replied a child that looked to be the same age as Dale, dressed in a golden threaded leather suit. He had dark red eyes and golden blonde hair. He gave off an air of wealth, but with none of the arrogance Dale was accustomed to seeing in those with money.

“My name is Jerah, Jerah Var! A pleasure to meet you!” He smiled energetically, walking forward to shake Dales hand. However, as he stepped forward, he slipped on one of the blood soaked floor, falling forward…

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