Picking up the card which stood out, Aaron saw that one side of it was filled with his details – specifically, the ones that the female voice had just listed.
His name, age, area of registration, along with his photo were visible clearly, and as he turned it around, he saw from up close just what the patterns that he had seen before on Edmond’s card were.
There were 6 total shapes, with three in one row on top and two below. On the background, the last shape encompassed all the others.
All of them were stars – but the number of points varied.
The first star had 10 points, and just like all the others, it was empty.
The next one had eight, after that, it was six, then four, then two, and finally, the one in the background had zero points, which meant that it was a big circle like the sun.
The cutouts of these stars looked like they were meant to be filled by something, and as Aaron traced his fingers on top of them, he felt an emotion that he couldn’t describe filling him up.
That was because he could guess what they were.
“Those are the Ascender Stars which symbolize your progress on the Path to the Stars. Each shape represents a type of settlement – from the first, 10-pointed star, each of them correspond to Hamlets, Villages, Towns, Cities, Metropoli and, finally, the World Government, itself.
“The rest is pretty self-explanatory. To reach the top, one must defeat 10 Hamlet Chiefs, eight Village Heads, six Town Mayors, four City Lords, two Metropolis Overlords and finally one World Government Monarch.”
Each of these words were filled with a certain level of majesty and power that was impressed upon Aaron even though he didn’t know exactly what each of them signified.
It seemed as if he wasn’t alone in that matter.
Shrugging, the Chief said, “I only know the names from the list that is given to me. But their exact powers and other details – one can only find out about them step-by-step, by beating each level.”
This made Aaron smile. All this time, he had been aimless in his objective to find his past. Yet, he now had such a meticulously and perfectly laid out route that he could follow.
“Defeating me, a Hamlet Chief, will fill up 1/10th of the star that represents Hamlets. After you defeat 10 of us, you will officially gain the rank of a One Star Ascender – which is a pretty awe-inspiring designation that will have value no matter where you go. Alright, enough of this. I don’t want to scare you again with too much information. As a young man, your goal should be to be an Ascender. But if you want to take it slow, I don’t –“
“I will reach the top.”
Seeing Aaron say this with determination after interrupting him, Ernst could only smile hesitantly, unwilling to kill the dreams of this kid.
Everyone talked about Ascending the Path, but no one, or at least, no one that he had ever spoken to had ever heard of anyone who reached the top. It was so elusive that it had even started to become legendary – yet, it was like that was the intention of the World Government in the first place.
After all, only a legend could spur on talented individuals like these to grow stronger so that they could stand on humanity’s side when they were needed.
As his hesitant smile turned into an honest one, he sighed and patted Aaron’s shoulders, saying, “I don’t have much basis to say this, but, from what I’ve seen so far, I have a feeling that you’ll definitely go very, very far. When you do, I hope you won’t forget this moment- where it all started.”
Aaron didn’t know how to respond to this, so he just nodded, which made the Chief’s smile broaden.
Why would he forget something so important like this? No matter where he went, Aaron was confident that this village should always hold a special place in his heart as it was where he had found the clue which would hopefully lead to the truth he had always been searching for.
“So, why did you decide to help that lad, after all? It didn’t look like you felt anything special about him.”
Ernst had been observing Aaron carefully all this while, so he had noticed that except for the husky that was always beside him, Aaron didn’t interact or feel much for anyone else. That was to be expected, as it would definitely take time to settle in.
So, it didn’t make sense that Aaron had agreed to help Edmund catch that Fox.
Without hesitating, Aaron said, “I need someone to help me with fitting in while Ascending the Path. So, we entered an agreement that I would help him with the Fox, and he would help me with this. He also has…”
As he recounted the story of Edmond’s father to the Chief, Ernst got a very serious expression on his face.
After Aaron was done, Ernst said, “I’ve heard of people in high places messing with normal citizens. That might be what is going on here, too. I’ll tell you what. A childhood friend of mine became a Town Mayor of a Town not too far from here. If you need any help, you can go to him. He owes me, so he’ll definitely not hesitate to do everything he can for you. To prove that you are who you say you are, give him this.”
Saying so, the Chief took out a small, nail-sized pin that had the shape of an eagle engraved on top of it. Aaron was captivated by it – he took it into his hands and viewed it from all sides, as he couldn’t understand how anyone could engrave something with so much detail into something so small.
Seeing Aaron’s interest, the Chief chuckled and said, “He’s an official Weaponsmith. Engraving is his hobby. This is one of his best works – he said that if I ever need his help, all I would need to do was show this to him. I promise that he’ll be very resourceful. He was once known to be one of the most talented Energy Manipulators in this area, you know.”
As he heard this, Aaron could tell that this was precious. Yet, the Chief and handed it over without any hesitation. Why was that?
Of course, he chose to ask.
“Why are you doing this for me? I didn’t do anything for you.”
Hearing this, the Chief was stumped. Usually, someone normal would understand that he was doing him a favor now, so that he could collect in the future.
Slapping his forehead and realizing that he would need to explain it clearly, the Chief thought for a bit before finally finding the words.
“Look at it this way. I’m planting a seed that I hope will grow into something valuable. I’m betting that you’ll become someone famous, someone with power. So, I’m doing you a favor now so that you won’t forget me. Maybe, in the future, you’ll be able to do something for me, too, which might be trivial for you. Look, don't think too much on this right now. With time, you'll understand. This isn’t the only favor, by the way. There’s one more. Come on. It’s time for you to have your first Tera Master battle, and get started on the Path to the Stars.”
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I'm an aspiring author who fell in love with writing the moment I wrote my first story.
Most Notable Work: World Domination System, an 800,000 word ongoing fantasy novel which can be found at https://www.webnovel.com/book/11413811606356705/World-Domination-System