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*drip…

"mmm"

*drip

Dyon opened his eyes and wiped the dripping water from his face. He stared blankly at the ceiling, remembering the events that put him in such a sorry state. Without getting up, he turned the cold water on, blasting it onto his forehead as he took deep breaths.

After half an hour, he finally stood and threw his clothes away from him. Turning the shower head on, he placed his forearm on the bathroom wall, letting the once dried blood pool at his feet. He stared at the drain, watching as the water became clearer. After another hour, the goosebumps from the freezing water no longer seemed to matter, his breathing had steadied under the torrent of cold.

Dyon closed his eyes once more before finally unclenching his fists.

Jumping out of the shower, the coldness in Dyon's eyes seemed to vanish as he clapped his hands together, "I AM SO HUNGRY!"

After tossing his bloodied clothes and drying himself off, Dyon threw on some black sweats and a new white T. He rolled up his sweats to about mid-calf then hopped onto his bed. Flicking his wrists, he, as fast as his hands would allow, pulled out a week's worth of food and started eating.

Soon afterwards, Dyon patted his stomach and let out a satisfied burp. He fell backwards onto his bed, feeling refreshed.

'Alright, first things first, I'll have to figure out how to fix this speed reading technique problem before reading the books on arrays. I suspect Libro didn't give me the full technique, if the Sapientia family was so generous, they wouldn't force all research to be under their name. Not to mention, I wouldn't have seen so many students reading books the normal way in the library.'

Dyon pushed himself up and crossed his legs, meditating on the matter.

"Hmm? That's odd… The books I read seem to be organized just like regular memories would be. Don't tell me that sleep was the answer, that makes no sense…"

Dyon thought of many possibilities. Trauma? Did he have a break through in cultivation? Did the technique just take time to take proper affect, maybe is was sleep? But he didn't find any of the answers to be suitable. Trauma might make a lot more sense for a break through in a physique type cultivation method, but the speed reading technique, from Dyon's understanding, was a low-level soul technique. That being said, low level soul techniques were exceedingly more complex than regular energy or body cultivation methods because the soul was an enigma for many in the martial arts world. That thought immediately removed the possibility of a break through in cultivation resulting in his now more organized memory of the plants. All signs pointed toward the technique just needing time, but something was telling Dyon that it wasn't that simple. An incomplete technique wouldn't find itself whole that easily.

Thinking to this point, Dyon decided not to waste unnecessary thoughts on something he didn't have enough information on. So, he decided to begin speed reading the books on arrays to test the technique some more.

Hundreds of books appeared in Dyon's room. After reaching for the first, his body trembled with another astonishing discovery, 'This… it's much faster than before… And… it's already part of my memories.'

Dyon was astounded and he had every right to be. The reason he started with the plant books was because they were much simpler, and much less about theories and abstract concepts. A book on plants simply pointed out the unique characteristics of the plants, what it could be used for, and what properties you would want or avoid when mixing it with other plants. The more complex books simply detailed the plant's information to the cellular level to give an array alchemist the most in-depth overview possible. This was in fact the most important aspect of grasping plant grafting. But, array theory was many times more complex. It was often the reason why there were no real array alchemists in Focus Academy, not only were the concepts beyond the scope of what most could understand, Dyon had just found out that it had insane requirements for the soul and even required a trait most martial artists didn't have: the mind's eye or aurora. Since array theory books were much more complex, it should have taken him more longer to get through a single book. But, it took him less than a minute.

'Dammit, if I had known array theory had such strict requirements, I would have chosen another faction. Awakening this mind's eye nonsense requires so many resources. If I had this much money, I wouldn't be joining such a run-down faction. I'd be traveling the martial world looking for the best cultivation methods.'

*sigh*

"This mind's eye would be so useful… increased insight to wills… access to a 6th sense… upgraded intelligence… not to mention, it would make soul cultivation so much easier. Maybe I could one day triple cultivate soul, body and energy…"

Dyon froze.

SLAP!

Dyon's hand slapped his forehead, "I am such an idiot. Mind's eye, soul cultivation, my unexplained increased efficiency in speed reading, the technique suddenly becoming whole? Let's test this theory out…"

Dyon dove into the piles of books, seemingly looking for one in particular.

"Ah, here it is," Dyon held a book up called 'Awakening Your Aurora for Dumbies'.

Dyon shook his head, "seems like the martial world steals things from the human world too."

Dyon was a bit confused at first by the title, but he then found out after speed reading the book that mind's eye was a colloquial term for Aurora, they were interchangeable.

The book was broken up into 2 sections. An awakening section, and a sensing section.

'I see. So, innate auroras are possible as well. Those with innate auroras experience a smoother path and greater talent in soul cultivation. But, according to the book 'the heavens are fair. If you think you've been snubbed, awaken your own aurora and challenge the skies'. So… the question is, was my mind's eye innate, or did something else awaken it.'

"One way to find out," Dyon placed the book down and kept his eyes closed, focusing on an abstract inner world. A golden flame flooded his senses, he seemed to sense everything in the room without his eyes. It was almost as if this sense was a superior one, making all others obsolete.

'Gold!' Dyon thought in excitement, 'and from the intensity, it seems as though I've already reached the second stage'.

Dyon had come to a realization. A golden hue in one's aurora denoted an innate one, whereas a white light denoted a forcibly awakened one. The fact that Dyon's aurora had already awoken to the second stage meant that he had had his aurora before even coming to the academy.

"This must be why Mayumi was so hurt. I didn't attack his energy, I must have attacked his soul… That's going to be hard to fix… Pillar head Kami must be angry"

Since soul cultivation was so rare, it was even rarer for fighters at the foundation stage to have techniques to guard against soul experts. It was probably even rarer to have a 13-year-old specialize in souls like Dyon. Not to even mention the fact it had already reached the second stage.

Essentially, soul cultivation and aurora stages improve together and by stages. Each cultivation realm is broken into 2 stages. Meaning, by Dyon have reaching the lower level of the second stage, he had a soul comparable to a 5th or 6th layer foundation stage expert.

But, as soon as he thought this, Dyon became even more depressed than he was before.

'If it was hard to find energy cultivation methods, it's going to be even harder to find soul cultivation ones. I can't keep allowing myself to get beat up just to re-affirm my will and increase my soul strength. There's only so much a man could take,' Dyon wanted to cry tears but he had none. All he could do was sigh in exasperation.

'Wait a minute, maybe array theory can tide me over for the time being. An aurora at stage 2 is powerful enough to sustain arrays up until the 9th common array alchemy level. Only a step away from the practitioner array alchemist ranks. That's more than enough to deal with foundation stage experts. If I practice diligently, I should be able to walk with my head held high. In fact, people might underestimate me because I have no cultivation, so fights might even be easier than usual'.

As soon as he read his first book on the martial world, Dyon had already decided to become the ever-elusive perfect expert who practiced all 3 martial doctrines: body, soul and energy. Originally, his plan was to begin with the conventional energy method, because body and soul cultivators were in the heavy minority, so he had conceded that it would only be realistic if he were to start with energy. But now, everything was different. He could start on the crazy plan he had pushed to the back of his mind.

To be the perfect martial artist, you had to start with the perfect base. But, unfortunately, no one could because of eroding talent. Basically, the foundation building stage was about preparing your body to accept greater forms of energy from the higher stages of cultivation, but, because martial talent eroded as people aged, most were forced to begin cultivating before their bodies fully matured. This meant that their foundations weren't as solid as they could be, but this was a trade off for having higher martial talent during cultivation.

Those from really large sects and academies could partially fix these faulty foundations with exotic fruits and pills, but they'd never be the perfect selves they could have been. However, true geniuses believed in themselves. They tempered their wills, deepened their understandings of secondary occupations and cultivation, delved into their auras, and sharpened their understanding of battle without cultivating. These geniuses didn't begin cultivating until they were 13 or older, some not even until they reached their peak levels of physical maturity at 18.

While the strength between a mortal 5-year-old and a mortal 18-year-old might seem negligible to martial artists, only the ignorant would think this. Cultivation is about exponential increases based on your foundation, even a marginally better foundation would lead to massively large strength differences among martial artists. If you couple this with the special physiques these geniuses were born with and tempering that push the mortal body to the limit, the peak of these patient geniuses is unassailable to the normal.

Dyon had unknowingly stepped into a realm only the peak level geniuses of the martial world would even think of attempting to join. But the problem was, those geniuses had unshakeable sects and clans backing them, Dyon would have to protect himself while he tempered his body. And that's where array alchemy came in. Not only would it allow him to better temper his wills because of his aurora, it would also earn him the money he'd need to temper his body to peak form.

'how fascinating… to reach the best foundation in energy cultivation, patience is needed… but, it doesn't seem like the same is true of soul and body cultivation?'

A gleam could be seen in Dyon's eyes as he greedily sped through all of the books Libro had lent him. By the time he was finished, the once bright blue in his room had become dark and he could no longer see up to the surface of the lake. But, despite being the most informed on array alchemy in the school, he had a frown on his face.

'dammit, how am I supposed to protect myself with arrays if the normal time to set one up exceeds multiple hours for most. This is ridiculous. Every time I think I have a solution, a new problem appears. Who's going to wait for me to set up an array during battle. I could technically pre-emptively set them up, but that leads to too many variables. Plus, they dissipate over time. Mine might last longer than the usual due to my innate aurora, but it still won't last forever, if I run out in battle, it'll be the death of me.

This 'split minds' technique might help… but it doesn't cut the time down by enough.'

But, this time, Dyon didn't allow himself to get frustrated. He had created many things in the human world, this was why the pillar family leaders knew they couldn't kill him openly without starting a war. The hovering board, the protective disk, the cleansing pill? Were all creations from his own school of thought. So, now, he just had to do it again.

"Really Dyon? You're about to try to create a new branch in a school of thought that has existed for millions of years? You're quite bold," Dyon said to himself while a bright smile appeared on his face.

'Arrays might be complex and abstract, but no more so than a computer program would be. It's just a complex series of commands written via a different medium than I'm used to. Just like some code is more efficient than others, I can re-work arrays that have been written in overly complex language and simplify it. Like writing an essay with just the thesis, or writing a sentence, with just a word.'

Dyon closed his eyes in contemplation. He knew this would be difficult, and he obviously couldn't do this with every array formation. As his aurora increased in strength along with his soul, he'd be able to draw more complex ones faster. But, for now, he had to focus on the simpler arrays so that speed could be ensured.

'To be viable in battle up until the peak of the foundation layer, I need to be able to draw the array in my mind's eye and cast in fractions of a second. Surprisingly, there are quite a few I might be able to pull this off with, but let's begin with 3: a defensive array, an amplification array and a hardening array. I'll focus on their 1st common array versions for now, then work my way up. I can make up for their lack of power by stacking them if need be. With the defensive array I'll be able to have some extra defense and I'll be able to step into the air to escape if necessary if I use them like stairs. With the amplification array I can up my speed and power, but since that would be limited by the durability of my body, I'll have to use the hardening array to reduce the stress on my body.'

The first thing Dyon did, before even attempting to simplify the arrays, was to take out large sheets of paper and draw them out. He tried multiple times before he perfected the changes in intensity and intent through each stroke. The sun was already high in the sky by the time he had finished, and he surprisingly wasn't tired, 'seems like my increased soul strength had some extra benefits too,' Dyon thought with a smile.

3 large sheets of paper hung from his walls as Dyon looked them over. A smirk emerged on his face as his eyes flashed with enlightenment.

Before he worked on his simplified arrays, a cold light flashed through Dyon's eyes as he thought of something else, 'I know for a fact that within the school's rule book killing isn't allowed. But, this Darius character was going to do it with no hesitation, and Ava said nothing about punishment. She only said that he'd have to explain himself, and that was all. So, clearly the only rule that matters in this academy is the first.'

There was only one rule in the martial world. Just one that dictated every and anything: 'Everything by absolute power or absolute sympathy.' The funny part was that there was clearly no sympathy.

'Since rules don't matter, nothing is off limits. Don't mind if I do,' Dyon said with a mysterious glint in his eyes. He looked through his dark window towards the center pillar.

'First, I'll take all your money. Then, I'll sneak into your "off limits" library since there's no rules, right? Then, I'll kill your so-called geniuses. I'll turn your school upside down and crush anyone who gets in my way," The windows groaned as a cold killing intent filled the room. The look in his eyes was demonic. The air was heavy and the atmosphere: dark. Then, it all disappeared. A smile once again appeared on Dyon's face as he focused himself back towards his arrays.

"I think I'll call this new form of array alchemy: Speed Arraying," Dyon said with a light chuckle.

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If you enjoy Focus, be sure to add it to your library. If you like a chapter and want to support, make sure to vote us up 😊. Each additional collections and power stone helps!

our boy's comin in hot!

as you guys can see, the chapters are getting longer. So, I'll be switching over to 1 chapter a day (but really, it's still lowkey 2). I dunno why, but for some reason my chapters went from like 1600 words, to 2000, to now 2700. Later chapters I've already written reach 4500. But don't worry, I won't be cutting them up, I'll just post them one at a time and upload once. Hope you enjoy!

follow me @Awespec on twitter if you'd like to talk about the book or ask questions

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Awespec

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  • Awespec

Bio: Med school student who loves to write :)

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