“When you complete the second step, remember that you will need to maintain the third for at least eight seconds before you’re prepared to use the attack in combat. Now, let’s see how far you can manage.” Hauswald instructed.
Faebyen creased her lips, concentrating on the immense power coursing through her arms into her hands, which she held up in front of her as though she were holding a ball. Moments passed as nothing happened besides sweat forming and running down her forehead. More time flew by until the energy had built up enough and began pooling in the space between her open hands.
One second passed—a scarlet orb the size of a fingernail formed, radiating deadly power in all directions.
Two seconds passed—the scarlet orb doubled in size, becoming twice as dangerous. Hauswald gave a hint of a smile, proud at his disciple.
Three seconds passed—the orb was no longer scarlet, emitting more orange light than red, but still the same size as a second prior. Faebyen’s master raised an eyebrow, surprised but delighted by how far she progressed in her mastery of the technique on her first try.
It was the fourth second when ripples formed on the orb’s surface and spikes of energy shot out in all directions, threatening catastrophe for Faebyen if it continued. Hauswald nodded, then stepped forward, enclosing the unstable orange orb in his hand, destroying it. When Hauswald brought his hand back to his side, he turned it over to face the sky before opening it, releasing a gentle orange mist from his fingers that was soon swept away by the wind. Faebyen’s eyes gleamed at the sight of her master effortlessly solving a problem that would have seriously injured her. She wondered if the day would come when she could do the same.
“Faebyen.” Hauswald turned to face the seated girl.
“Master.” Faebyen replied.
“Wonderful job. You made it further than I did when I first learned the technique. You have surpassed your predecessor in terms of your speed of progress.” He smiled.
“Only thanks to your guidance!” Faebyen quickly added, standing up to jump into her master’s embrace. Pride was almost tangible as it emanating from Hauswald’s eyes while he looked upon the girl he raised, more than content with how she turned out. He hadn’t expected all those years ago that when he searched a village razed to the ground by his enemies for survivors, that he’d find his future successor who would likely take on his mantle of Blaze Sovereign. Although she wasn’t nearly there yet, if she maintained her progression for another few decades, she might even become the youngest Elemental Sovereign of their nation to date! Hauswald definitely hoped to see the day.
From Hauswald’s embrace, Faebyen’s squeaky voice sounded. “Master, are you absolutely sure that I can’t at least test the damage output of the spell as is? Even under your supervision?” The power she felt within her control during the first three seconds of the technique tempted her too much to not ask.
Hauswald’s brows furrowed as he removed the girl from his embrace, putting her at arm’s length from him and holding her shoulders. His words came out more sternly than he expected, but it didn’t matter because he needed to get a very important point across. “Girl, do NOT argue with me on this.” His deep voice briefly caused Faebyen to shake in panic, thinking she’d gone too far. “I’ve told you countless times that despite granting considerable destructive power, the Almunees Blaze technique poses just as much danger to the wielder as the one it’s being used on! Surely you could tell that you’d have been severely wounded had I not been here to assist with your training! And that was only the fourth second of the eight that are possible!”
“But, couldn’t I just keep the power to a minimum, below my current limit of four seconds…?” Faebyen meekly questioned.
Worried that his beloved disciple would try anything stupid when he wasn’t watching, Hauswald sighed, then released Faebyen from his grip. There had been times when he pondered doing what his master did for him, but he didn’t think that it’d be worth possibly scarring her. Yet, since Faebyen still doubted him... “You’re aware of both my regenerative capabilities and defense. Now, watch.”
The girl tilted her head in curiosity, wondering what her master could have meant…then immediately jumped in fright. “NO! Nevermind! I take it back! I’ll follow your instructions!” Faebyen moved forward with her arms outstretched, unsure of what she could do to stop Hauswald, but willing to do anything.
However, a barrier Faebyen could not perceive blocked her path, preventing her from reaching Hauswald as he lifted a finger, on which he gathered and condensed energy according to the Almunees Blaze technique. A second later and he had at the tip of his pointer finger an orb of red, but one that didn’t radiate strength as Faebyen’s did. Clearly, Hauswald had vastly superior control over the skill and had no trouble manipulating it.
“No no no no no no!” Faebyen continued protesting.
Yet Hauswald merely gave her an “I didn’t want to do this” look, before allowing the tiny orb to explode at his chest. It soon became clear that Hauswald had encased himself in a cubic barrier to contain his technique’s power as it quickly filled with red from the blast.
Tears filled Faebyen’s eyes as she realized what her silly request had convinced her master to do in order to keep her safe. She watched through blurry eyes as the red cube released the red power in the direction opposite of her, but then fell to the floor in shock. Merely the residual power of the Almunees Blaze technique at a single second performed by her master had created a shockwave so powerful it transformed the air into plasma in another explosion. If even the leftovers of the technique were so damaging, then what had her master suffered…?
Faebyen quickly got her answer as all the red dispersed and the barrier was released. Hauswald stood before her once more, appearing like one of the corpses after the fire in her village destroyed everything—charred. Tears streamed down her face as she looked upon the wounded figure, wanting to hug him out of love and guilt, but didn’t even take a step forward, knowing that she’d be instantly incinerated by her master’s body temperature and that even if she could survive the hug, that it’d hurt Hauswald.
“I’m so sorry…” Faebyen blubbered, her hands held together at her chest.
“Now you see why I’ve warned you against using my legacy technique until you can maintain it at its peak power.” Hauswald’s grey hair disappeared with the explosion, but his clothing remained, as they were powerful treasures. But, of the flesh Faebyen could see, it wasn’t healing quickly. “Not only do these flames release devastating destruction, but those who suffer from them will have an even harder time recovering.” It was unimaginably grotesque, but Faebyen forced herself to watch as patches of flesh and skin slowly grew on Hauswald’s face and hands, wishing to imprint the memory deeply into her soul so that she never again doubted his concerns for her safety. “Even more, you have to remember that this happened,“ Hauswald gestured to himself, “with only the first second. Not only that, but I allowed a stable orb to explode under controlled circumstances. Imagine if you were casting the second second when something startled or distracted you, causing your concentration to fumble the spell, making it rampage. The results would be far worse than if an enemy used it on you. It even grows more dangerous for the wielder as you cultivate to higher realms. Merely the fourth second of my own technique is required to completely kill him without the use of protective treasures and techniques. With them? The seventh second.”
After his speech, Hauswald produced a treasure from his spatial storage—a glowing fruit—and took a bite. The energy from the healing treasure could be seen through his skin as it greatly accelerated his body in healing, resulting in him looking good as new, hair and all, in less than a minute. Then, he took Faebyen back into his embrace, letting her weep into his chest.
“Trust me sometimes, okay?”