“So it’s true.” I turned my head to see Myre leaning against the entryway. “You truly have inherited Realmheart…” The asura’s voice was both solemn and sentimental as it trailed off.
“Excuse me? Realmheart?” I echoed as she approached me with slow steps.
“The physical manifestations displayed from you tapping into Sylvia’s powers, My Dear— the iris glowing purple and those unmistakable glowing runes imprinted on the body. Even within the clan, it is rare. Realmheart—or The Realmheart Physique—is an ability that only the Indrath Clan bloodline can possess. Tell me, Child, were you able to see them?” the asura pressed as her eyes stayed glued to the faint markings which continued to fade from my arms.
Myre reached out and tenderly ran her fingers along the runes. “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand. See what?” I replied, snapping her out of her daze.
“Were you able to see all five of the colors that make up the physical realm?” The asura had an expression I couldn’t quite make out as she awaited my answer.
I thought back to the array of colors that floated around me while in my second phase. “I think so…”
“The Realmheart Physique was named by the ancestors of the Indrath Clan because, in this form, the user’s attunement with the physical realm is said to be unparalleled. While the ability itself does not hold much strength, the power to activate Realmheart allows the user to gain knowledge and insight that those without could never hope to have,” Myre explained. “Which goes to say that knowledge truly is power.”
I reflected back to when I had first used Realmheart against the elderwood guardian. I had assumed that the form was a just a power boost, allowing me to gain access to more mana, but from what Myre had just explained to me, it seemed like using Realmheart actually just allow me to utilize mana with much more efficiency. “There is one thing I don’t quite understand. When I used the second phase—Realmheart—last time, I was only able to see four colors. Why am I now able to see the purple particles?”
Myre pondered for a moment.
“Are you not allowed to tell me about this as well? It seems like none of the asuras want a lesser being learning their techniques and secrets,” I sighed, disappointed.
“Mmm, we asuras are prideful beings indeed. Even amongst the members of the same race, we asuras stay secretive and greedy, the Indrath Clan particularly so.” Myre chuckled for a bit then gave me an inquisitive look. “I won’t say that I’m different from all of them, but I’ve lived long enough and experienced far too much to care about such frivolousness. If you’ll be content with an old lady like me, I’ll be happy to teach you a thing or two.”
I honestly didn’t expect her to go as far as offering to teach me, but taking no chances, I immediately bobbed my head in consent before she could change her mind.
“Good! Now… practical lessons won’t be possible in your current state, but I think a more theoretical approach might be good either way,” Myre answered, tapping her chin with a finger.
Myre explained to me the fundamentals of mana itself and how it affected the world, or what she referred to as “the physical realm.” Much of what she went over was something I had already known to a certain degree. However, the way she strung her words together and explained everything in such an easily digestible manner, it was obvious that she was much more knowledgeable than any of the professors at Xyrus Academy.
She went on, clarifying how it wasn’t natural for lesser beings or even asuras to manipulate raw mana. Mages with a certain affinity to an element had a much easier time absorbing the atmospheric mana that coincided with their particular element. However, in the end, it still had to be absorbed and refined in order for to be utilized. To someone with the Realmheart physique, a fire-affinity mage will appear to be absorbing only the red mana particles, but after completing the refining process, the mana would appear white when first used. This was why body-strengthening spells could be used regardless of what type of affinity a mage was.
“So if, in the end, mana that is absorbed and refined turns white, how come it’s not possible for them to utilize different elements?” I inquired.
“Good question.” Myre seemed pleased by my interruption, rather than annoyed. “It is impossible to control the specific type of element that a mage absorbs, so it is inevitable that the mage will naturally take in the mana particles that his body is most inclined towards.
“Let’s say that a mage’s affinity is towards water; during the process of refining raw mana, the amount of water element his body absorbs will be disproportionate compared to the other elements. So, even though the end result is a purified white mana, during the stage where that mage refined the water elemental mana his body absorbed, the raw mana altered his body to become more predisposed, and his mind to become more insightful of that particular element.”
It must’ve been obvious that I looked a bit confused, because she explained it in more detail.
“Remember when you conjured your first remote spell, whether that be a stream of fire or a sphere of wind? You had to concentrate much more in order for the spell to manifest in the proper form, right? Even infant asuras are taught to verbally chant spells to help them concentrate and visualize what they want. However, after so much time absorbing and refining a specific element, the need to visualize and chant becomes much easier and comes more naturally.
Going back to the water-affinity mage scenario, that mage—no doubt—would have to concentrate on the shape, proportion, density, and even the speed of launch if he were to execute a fireball. However, that same mage will have no trouble raising a stream of water, separating it into multiple orbs and casting it to barrage down on an enemy with just a flick of his wrist. Why?”
“Because of the influence that absorbing a majority of water element had on the mage during the refining process,” I answered.
“Correct! Being exposed to a particular element for so long, the mage would no doubt gain insight during their meditation.” Myre continued on about this subject, stressing heavily again that asuras and lesser beings alike could not manipulate natural mana. After hours passed unheeded on the subject of mana, Myre finally brought up what I had wanted to know most about: aether.
Rather than start from the beginning, Myre asked, “Can you tell me what you know about aether?”
I proceeded to explain what little I knew about aether and the times I had experienced the phenomena that aether produced: the instances where I was able to freeze time using the first phase of Sylvia’s will and how I had trained using the aether orb.
“Aether is fundamentally different from mana; this much is clear to anyone. While both entities make up the world that we live in, aether works very differently than mana. To what degree, no one has a solid answer. Some have speculated that aether is the building block that the world is made of, while mana is what fills it with life and sustenance. More simply put, aether would be the cup, while mana is the water that fills it.” Myre held up a glass cup, filled halfway, for me to see.
“It is quite easy to manipulate the water inside without mana, but much more difficult to change the shape of the cup without breaking it. Quite a crude analogy, I know,” the asura smiled as she began slowly shaking the cup, stirring the water inside.
Shaking my head, I responded, “No, it helps a lot.”
“Good. Well, despite the many speculations and theories, even the Indrath Clan, hailed for being the most adept in utilizing aether, has no solid theory that can justify what they are able to do. What they did have that no one else did, was the ability to physically detect aether through the use of the Realmheart Physique.” Holding the glass close to her face, Myre dipped a finger in the water. “Those in the physical realm cannot sense aether. Everyone alike knows that there are laws that hold our world together, just like this glass that holds the water. However, it is impossible for them to fathom the boundaries that exist to keep order in the world.”
“Then the purple particles I saw when I used Realmheart…” I said, trailing off at the end.
“Yes, My Dear. That was aether.” Myre smiled. “Through the use of Realmheart, you are able to see the glass cup from within, the boundaries of this world.”
“Now, I can go on to explain the history of how aether came to be slowly studied, but I doubt that will be of any use to you. You just have to know that you possess a skill that even asuras would kill for. However, I suspect that there will be certain limits because your body is not of the dragon race. But the true power of Realmheart lies in the ability to gain insight while in the form.”
“I noticed that while I use Realmheart, I become a lot stronger. At first, I thought it was some sort of power boost that the form gives, but it’s more of a big improvement in control,” I confirmed with Myre, who nodded in reply.
“Yes, especially for you, who has the strange composition of being quadra-elemental,there is a vast difference in mana manipulation using Realmheart. But let’s set aside the aspect of mana for now. Not to sound biased, but control over mana is much more linear than aether. For mana, the greater your core is, the more water you can manipulate,” she continued, still using the glass-of-water analogy. “Your insight and mental aptitude is how many ways you can manipulate the water inside. However, through the manipulation of aether, we can control the cup itself. Do you understand?”
“How would you manipulate the world itself?” I pressed.
“It’s become habit to say ‘manipulate,’ but in actuality, it is more important to think of it as influencing aether. And you’ve already had a taste of this quite a few times, My Dear. Windsom had mentioned you being able to stop time for a brief moment.” Myre set the cup down and distanced herself from where I was.
“Yes! That was actually the first ability I was able to use with Sylvia’s will!” I exclaimed.
“The control over time, aevum; the authority over space, spatium; and the influence over all living components, vivum…” Myre recited. “These are the three components that make up aether.”
This was knowledge that I might perhaps never come across again, so I hungrily absorbed every word the asura was saying.
“No matter how powerful, how insightful, and how lucky a practitioner may be, he will only be able to master one path. Ancestors of the Indrath Clan have lived all their lives trying to gain insight on one of the three paths, only to realize that they don’t have the capability of mastering it. However, over time, we’ve realized a way for some asuras to know where their aptitude lies,” the asura confessed.
“How?” We had reached the climax of the story and I was greedy for more.
“The runes that run down the body from using Realmheart.” Myre closed her eyes and went silent.
A palpable force suddenly pushed down on my shoulders, forcing me to use my arms to keep myself sitting up on the bed. The air turned thick and heavy as I stayed seated on the bed in awe. The pressure that Myre was emitting was neither violent nor ferocious like Kordri’s had been, yet, in terms of level, it was much more overwhelming. I had no confidence that I would be able to muster up the will to fight against her—that much was clear. It was as if I could almost see her transforming into dragon form.
Golden runes began carving down her bare arm but they looked very different from mine. Whereas mine appeared complex and detailed, her runes flowed like branches of an elven tree, or interconnecting streams of water being woven together.
Myre finally opened her eyes and stared at me with an icy gaze of radiant lavender. “These runes are different for each Realmheart user, but the markings, when studied, show that I am of the vivum path. And that is also why I could heal you.”
I found myself unable to muster a response as I stared in awe. Her very presence felt different than mine when I had activated Realmheart; the runes that ran down her arm were much more vivid and bright compared to the dull glow I had when I used this profound power, and her eyes seemed to almost pulse, as if they had a mind of their own.
“Now, My Dear, activate your Realmheart,” the asura gently nudged, despite her intimidating presence.