Dale continued to cultivate in the morning, attending his regular classes when he needed to, and constantly practiced manipulating time. His mind struggled to overcome and breakthrough to the understanding he needed. It became easier and easier for him to function while concentrating, though he had yet to break through the 8/10ths time barrier. Frustrated with his lack of tangible progress in his Time Arts, Dale decided to practice the other two Arts he had, in preparation for the upcoming Main School Representatives Tournament.
Back in his room, Dale sat meditating on his bed. He calmed himself, getting ready to practice the two new Arts he held. He went over to his desk, picking up the copies, and began to read.
Heavy footsteps, Quick movement was a footwork technique where you applied strong, powerful stomps in order to move great distances, or change directions quickly. It was an Earth Art technique, however, and required a high level of concentration to use effectively.
Dale read it over again, attempting to put the Art into use. After a few minutes of practice with no results, he went outside. He decided to dedicate the entire day to practice, determined to learn something useful.
After a solid day of practice, Dale managed to understand the basics of the technique. By using his inhumane strength to impact the ground several times, and using the energy in your energy veins to compact the earth, you could bounce off of practically any surface, and move at extraordinary speeds. At the higher levels, it was even possible to jump off of air itself.
Dale spent the next 2 days mastering the first layer of this Earth Art. His speed only slightly increased, but his mobility, ability to change direction, and agility greatly increased.
Next, Dale decided to work on the Heavy Fist Aura Art he had acquired.
Basic Heavy Fist Aura Art – A cultivation technique where the user bends Aura to his will, and infuses his Aura and will directly into his blows. This technique allows one to deal massive blows with seemingly small and weak hits.
Basic Heavy Fist Aura Art 1st layer – Concentrate your will solely. You must focus on nothing, and devote yourself to nothing, concentrating all of your energy, focus, and will into a singular point in your mind.
Basic Heavy Fist Aura Art 2nd layer – Take the pinpoint of focused will you have maintained, and infuse the energy into the strength of your fist. The stronger your will and Aura is, the more powerful an impact you will leave.
Basic Heavy Fist Aura Art 3rd layer – Infuse your strength and will directly into the force of your fist, and the impact you leave behind. The stronger your will and Aura is, the more powerful an impact you will leave. The aftermath of the impact, where you have infused your Aura into the air, will cause your enemy to feel overpowered, and can even cause fainting in people who are sufficiently weaker.
Dale noticed the basic technique to the Heavy Fist Arts first layer was very similar to the Slowed Time Fists first layer. He focused his energy into a point, in his mind, and then forced his will over that point. However, he found that when he tried to force his will on the energy point, everything dissipated, and he was stunned for a few seconds. It was a very odd experience for him.
“It didn’t work.” He said, astonished. For Dale, everything he did had always come easy to him. Cultivating, breaking through layers, practice, everything had always worked well enough. This was the first time something flat out refused to bend to his will.
He went at it again. He gathered the energy in his veins into a point in his mind, and once again used the full power of his will, crushing it into submission. However, just as he thought he had it under control, the energy sporadically blew out and dissipated.
Dale stared at his hands, suspiciously, as if they betrayed him. “I will not lose.” He proclaimed.
Dale practiced like this for the next two days. His arms grew tired as he overused them, his Aura pouring forth in small waves. However, on the third day of practice, something changed. Dale felt a flicker of control, when he focused his will on his energy. The energy dissipated like it had previously. But this time, it was slightly different. A minuscule, tiny fragment of energy stayed behind. Dale moved it around, and then released it in a flick of his fingers, flicking the wooden leg of the chair sitting near him in his room.
“CRASH! SNAP!” the chair’s leg completely exploded off, wood shavings showering Dale like a small rain. He looked at his finger in astonishment. Then at the destructive power left behind. This was from such a small fragment, what power must be contained if he could completely master it?! Dale thought.
He hurriedly began to focus, and started his repetitive practice, over and over again, determined to make progress.
2 days before the Tournament.
Dale walked over to Feng's room, knocking on his door. “Feng!” he yelled, “Are you in there?!” It was mid-afternoon, and Dale hadn’t seen Feng around recently. He was curious what he was up to.
Feng opened the door, saw that it was Dale and said, “Yo bro, what’s up?” Feng had a sleepy look on his face, as if he had been napping.
“Feng, I just reached the middle stage in my Coal Metal Core.” He exclaimed, “I wanted to share it with you, and ask if you wanted to help me practice in a bit!” Dale was eager to see what his newfound strength could do, but didn't want to practice with other students. The kids his age were too weak, and the ones older weren't very approachable.
“Haha! It’s about time you reached that stage!” Feng replied. Feng had reached the middle stage of the Coal level about a week ago, and had been practicing since. “I’m warning you now, though, this won’t be a repeat of last time. I’ve completely mastered my Overlord Flame Art to the 3rd layer!” Flames seemed to flicker in his eyes.
Dale smiled confidently, “If you can beat me this time, I’ll owe you an Iron Monster Core when we join the Expedition force!” Feng's eyes bulged.
“Haha! You have yourself a deal, Dale.” Feng said, with a slightly evil greed tinged look in his eye. “Let’s have a rematch!”