The scarlet beast eyed the boy with suspicion, its colossal body shifting position to the side to get a better view of its attacker.
Using his sword as a cane, Jace got up and cleaned most of the dirt covering his eyes. His skin wasn’t pure anymore, mud covered most of his naked body. Looking at the creature, anger pumped from his core, tensing his muscles as he raised the weapon with both hands and charged the beast one more time.
The crimson lizard readied itself for the upcoming attack, as it had done countless times before. It pushed its gaze away from the predatory eyes of the boy and looked at the countless bodies lying around, each had been another version of its attacker.
Jace reached the beast, converging all his strength on a powerful horizontal swing hoping to draw some blood out of the belly of the creature. The dragon didn’t move and took the attack, the sword bouncing off its shining scales upon contact, making its owner lose its grip and letting the weapon fall to the scorched ground. Much to the dragon’s surprise, no light pushed both entities aside.
With renewed interest, the creature slammed its house-sized claws onto the ground, pushing Jace away with the resulting shockwave and crushing his sword.
The boy struggled to get on his feet, but once he did a bestial roar split the sky apart, glancing at the horizon Jace saw the dragon charging him, each step it took shaking the foundation of the world.
With his spirit rampaging inside for a taste of glory he charged the beast barehanded, seconds felt like hours with every step he took towards the colossus, upon reaching a suitable distance Jace lunged himself into the sky and towards the head of the beast, however, before blows could be traded reality collapsed.
Jace woke up startled, the nightmare never felt so vivid, more, this time it didn’t start all over again, it kept going showing images he never saw before.
“Was the nap any good?”
Jace flinched and slowly come back to his senses, he was still inside the Association, the old man meant to test his Essences approached him with a cup of a green liquid.
“Drink this, it might not look like much, but it’s a very good tea.”
Jace took the cup and drunk a tiny bit of it, contrary to its looks, it tasted sublime, a strange but tasty combination of mint and mango, the smell also appealed to Jace’s senses.
The old man took a strange stone out of his pocket, different from the one he had Jace ingested before, this one had no glow to it, it was perfectly round and plain white.
“This here is what many call an Aura Reader. High-rank adventurers can easily read other auras to identify their strengths and Essences.” the man started, seeing Jace curiosity. “However, we at the Association don’t have high-ranks lying around to help with Essence assessments so we use these stones instead.”
Jace finished his tea and placed the empty cup on the bed, changing his position to a sitting one.
“What do I need to do with it?”
“Simply place it in your hand and circle magic energy around your body and into the stone.” the magical scientist adjusted his coat. “It might be hard since you just absorbed your first bit of magic today. Imagine breathing in and out, but use your whole body.”
Jace grabbed the stone and closed his eyes. He slowly inhaled and exhaled has told, he started to feel more energetic than usual, a burning yet fresh sensation washing over his core. He focused on it, using every breath to extend the sensation to a new part of his body, soon his entire being was bursting with power.
“That will be enough, we don’t have all day.”
Jace was pulled out of his trance by his evaluator, as his concentration crumbled so did the feeling. He opened his eyes handing the man a different stone from the one he had given him, the Aura Reader was now crimson with black cracks spanning every inch of the rock.
“How… unusual.” the man picked up the Reader and inspected it. “I don’t usually do this, there are so many of you every year, but you seem like an interesting subject. I’m Aliot, I wished we had all day.”
Jace was confused for a brief moment before understanding in which aspect of the test the man went out of his usual ways, it had given Jace his name.
“Pleasure, I’m Jace Fairway.”
“I know your name boy.” he started to scribble something down on a piece of paper and handed it to Jace folded alongside the stone. “Take this with you and give it to the woman in the lobby, she will redirect you.”
Aliot picked up some strange blueish dust from a flask and sprayed it over Jace.
“If you need help with your Essence in the future ask for me.”
Before Jace could answer a light surrounded him and he was back at the entrance floor.
The first floor felt like a ghost town, the furniture which previously was somewhat filled with many individuals was empty, the only souls on it being Jace and the Association employee.
He made his way to the help balcony again and placed the contents Aliot gave him on it.
“Where is everyone?”
“Mister Fairway, I’m afraid you took three hours to finish the Essence assessment, it’s already late in the evening.” she answered while reading through the information on the paper. “It seems, however, that the excess of time that took your Essence to awake has very valid reasons.”
Jace's chest ached, thoughts racing through his mind, his senses, pushing out anything from the outside. Was his Essence that bad that could barely awake properly, would he had to grind the lower tier quests and monsters in hopes to find a new Essence to help him rise in the ranks.
“Mister Fairway are you listening to me?” the elven woman brought Jace’s spirit back to reality.
“I’m sorry, you were saying?”
The woman sighed and placed the paper under the balcony.
“I’ll repeat this once.” she began. “With your Essence you will really need to try harder than most, with that said, are you sure you want to proceed to the evening test?”
“Just how weak is it?”
“Sir, were you not listening at all?” she picked up the stone and showed it to Jace. “It’s not about it being weak, it’s about being too powerful to control properly.”
Jace shook his head in confusion and looked at the stone and back at the Association worker, a wide smile forming on his face.
“How can that be bad? I’m not understanding.”
“Sir, you are a Shifter, more precisely, a Dragon Shifter. It comes with tremendous power, there are very few who have such Essence but it takes an immeasurable ability to keep under control.” she checked the time on her pocket watch and slid the Aura Reader towards Jace’s end of the balcony.
“The practical exam starts in half an hour, I can clearly see that you already made up your mind. When the time arrives you will be Zone Shifted to the fourth floor.”
Jace nodded in appreciation and walked to one of the multiple chairs laying around, making himself comfortable.
After the Zone Shift Jace found himself outside, tones of green filled his vision wherever he looked. The ground was covered in fresh grass, some trees laid around, their wooden bodies creating large shadows for those who desire protection from the majestic star floating in the blue sky.
“Amazing illusion isn’t it?” a voice came from behind Jace.
He turned around, startled, losing his balance and falling in the process. As he adjusted his vision after the tumble he could see the silhouette of a man standing in front of him, the way the fake sun bathed the surface made it hard to perceive any specific features.
“My bad, my bad. Sorry if I scared you. I’m Beck, your examiner.” the man helped Jace get up.
Now that he was off the ground, he could easily get a better look at Beck. The man was taller than Jace, his long dark hair covered part of his face, the part which it didn’t cover was hidden by an unshaved beard that matched his hair. He had a muscular build, hidden only by his leathery armor.
He smiled at Jace eyeing him with curiosity, his gray eyes piercing the soul of the Dragon Shifter.
“Oh! We have a Shifter today, interesting.”
“I’m Jace Fairway sir.” he made a slight bow. “You can feel my aura?”
“Yes kid, I indeed can, but don’t get your hopes high that’s the most I can sense, I’m not some big shot that can even sense the details on your Essences.” he patted Jace’s head and grinned. “So what Essence do you carry with you Fairway?”
“Dragon, sir.” he handed the man the used Aura Reader.
Beck smile widened as the stone delivered the confirmation. He gripped Jace’s shoulders and pulled him close.
“Well, Jace, it’s time to make you an adventurer.”
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Hi there, I'm Rxlr, and I am writing the web novel Path To Adventure.
I'm a university student and a passionate writer who loves to create worlds and stories, most of the time I used to do that as I fell asleep, but lately life seems to quickly be catching up and I decided to put my dreaming abilities to the test.
I'm entirely new to this and hope to share my learning and creative process with all those who support me, regardless of how they do it.
Your support is much appreciated. Thank you!