Chapter 11: Mastery of powers
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In the shadows woven between worlds, beyond human perception, lies Aether Haven, a realm where the invisible and the enigmatic reside. It is here that the djinn, elemental spirits of fascinating diversity, embody the primordial forces that govern their existence. Six distinct types stand out, each a living avatar of the element to which it is intrinsically linked, shaping their being down to the tiniest spark of life.

The Ifrits, flamboyant in red, are the very embodiment of fire. Their bodies, a dance of perpetual flame, propel them through Aether Haven with an ardour that knows no bounds. The Marids, as deep blue as the ocean abyss, carry within them the essence of water. They glide through their world with a grace that defies gravity, leaving behind them a trail of sparkling drops. Sylphs, dressed in the greenery of ancient forests, are the soul of the wind. They move with an elusive lightness, their presence bringing a breeze that whispers the secrets of the air.

The Jann, the colour of fertile earth, are made up of the solidity and permanence of the earth. They advance by reshaping the ground beneath them, a living testimony to nature's strength and endurance. The Hinn, shrouded in shades of mystical violet, are charged with the ethereal energy that blurs perception and awakens the imagination. Their movement is a veil of mystery, moving mystical energy with an intention that escapes common understanding. The Nasnas, with their grey skin and animal-like body halves, represent the fusion of wildlife and spirit, a bridge between the wild and the elemental.

Despite their diversity, a common thread unites them: eyes vibrating with their elemental essence, deep and pupiless, reflecting the power of their nature. With no legs, they know no mortal restraint, moving with an ease that defies the laws of physics.

When Jalik offered me the deal, I took a moment to think. I quickly realised that it would be to my advantage to accept, as it would allow me to achieve my goal. It seemed that Lutan was after me, having attacked my village and being aware of my existence. If I didn't prepare myself properly, I risked losing my life to this entity, which even Jalik feared.

"Why are you confined to the Aether?" I asked, trying to understand the constraints of its existence.

Jalik replied gravely: "I can't reveal any more than that, but you should know that if I ever set foot in the visible world, Lutan would immediately detect my presence and try to eliminate me. Even a brief appearance before returning to the Aether would be enough for him to devastate the place where I was seen."

His answer made my blood run cold, but I quickly pulled myself together and told him my decision. "I accept this agreement that unites us. Help me to become Soulmaster, and in return, I will help you to fight this entity," I told him resolutely.

However, a doubt crept into my mind. "How can I be of any use to you, weakened by my wounds and diminished in strength?" I questioned, uncertainty tinging my voice.

With reassuring assurance, Jalik made a sign, and one of his subjects, a djinn dressed in white whose lower body melted into a spiral of smoke, stepped forward. At another sign from Jalik, a yellow energy enveloped me, erasing my pain and healing my wounds.

Stunned, I turned to Jalik, looking for an explanation. "You have benefited from one of my servant's wishes. Your physical wounds are healed. As for the scars on your soul, that's a battle you'll have to fight alone," he explained, his voice imbued with an almost paternal benevolence.

After a moment's reflection following our exchange, I made a firm decision. "I accept this agreement. Help me to become a Soulmaster. In return, I promise to help you fight Lutan," I declared, feeling the gravity of our new alliance.

At these words, Jalik gave a satisfied smile and launched into a detailed explanation of what awaited me. "You will be a resident of Aether for the next eight years. During this time, I will provide you with teachers so that you can learn and train in depth," he informed me, paving the way for my future.

"Eight years?" I exclaimed, taken aback by the magnitude of this sacrifice.

Jalik, sensing my confusion, took the time to clarify with instructive patience. "Imagine Aether Haven and your world as two clocks. In the Aether, our clock runs four times faster than the one in your world. So while you spend eight years here, only two years will pass at home."

"So, by staying eight years in the Aether, when I return, only two years will have passed in the visible world?" asked I, trying to grasp the complexity of this temporality. "Does that mean that I will physically be a ten-year-old child, despite the eight years of experience and training here?"

"Exactly," Jalik confirmed with a nod. "Although you will benefit from eight years of learning and personal development here, for your world, that time span will only translate into two years. Your body will therefore remain younger, in keeping with the time of your world, while your mind and skills will be enriched far beyond your physical age."

Jalik then revealed the intensive training programme planned for me, arousing in me a mixture of nervousness and anticipation. However, there was a more immediate concern, prompting me to seek his help on a personal matter.

"Before we set off, I'd like to ask for your help in visiting my parents, to reassure them of my condition," I said, hoping for a favourable response.

Jalik, with an expression of regret, replied: "I'm afraid I can't grant your request. The region where your parents live is currently beyond our reach, a direct consequence of your father's unique abilities. However, once your training is complete, it will be possible for you to visit them, as it is likely that the seal that isolates them will be lifted."

Not wanting to give up so easily, I proposed another request. "And what about going back to the slave masters to free my two friends who are probably still being held there?"

"Unfortunately, I have to refuse that request too," replied Jalik firmly. "Even if you could, you couldn't bring them here without a pre-existing link with the djinn. Besides, your current powers are not sufficiently developed to allow such teleportation."

Disappointed but not yet resigned, I tried one last time. "There's Sahar, a fennec who helped me when I was trapped in a well. He was killed, and I would like to pay my last respects to him."

Jalik, with a hint of sadness in his voice, informed me: "A year has passed since you and Sahar parted ways. The creatures of the desert have long since made her body their feast. Going back would change nothing."

At this point, I felt my hopes plummet in the face of these repeated refusals.

However," Jalik said, capturing my attention with a note of optimism, "there is a way to pay tribute to Sahar. One of my servants, a Zoetheric researcher specialising in the study of animals linked to supernatural phenomena, recently discovered that Sahar's lineage continues through descendants endowed with unique characteristics."

"Why did this expert take the trouble to study Sahar's descendants?" I asked intrigued.

Jalik then revealed, "Sahar himself possessed a remarkable ruh, that of perceiving the goodness in the hearts of the people he met. It was a rare quality, which piqued the curiosity of my servant. After you left the well, guided by a strong intuition, I assigned this specialist the task of exploring Sahar's lineage further. We thought that if Sahar himself was endowed with such an ability, his descendants might also inherit exceptional traits."

I had often wondered why Sahar, a naturally wary animal, had been so docile with a stranger like me, trapped at the bottom of a well. Jalik's revelation suddenly made sense, shedding light on a mystery that had been nagging at me for a long time. Sahar must have sensed a quality in me, a kindness of heart that led him to help me, which made me smile.

I agreed with Jalik that I would go to the desert, near Sahar's family burrow, to meet her descendants. I might even get the chance to play with them. However, I had to postpone this project until tomorrow. Exhausted by the tumultuous events since my escape from slavery, I hadn't taken a moment to rest. My fatigue was so overwhelming that Jalik ordered some servants to accompany me to a room in his palace so that I could finally get some rest.

The next day, lying in a bed of unequalled comfort compared to the hard floors of my past, I realised with wonder that none of what had happened the day before had been a dream. I had managed to escape that hell, my family was safe, and I had acquired the strength I needed to become stronger. Thanks to the King of the Jinn, my dream was now within reach. With a new sense of excitement, I got up, ready to begin a day full of discoveries. Some djinn servants accompanied me to the buffet for breakfast. That morning I realised something I hadn't realised before: everyone I met was incredibly kind and genuinely happy to have me among them. Convinced of the authenticity of their benevolence, I asked the servant assigned to me about Jalik, curious to know what the jinn thought of him.

"Your Majesty is, without the slightest doubt, the most beloved being in the Aether," he replied with obvious reverence. Intrigued, I asked why. He explained that Aether Haven was much larger than what I had seen so far. Many wars had raged before the advent of Jalik, who, thanks to his considerable power, had succeeded in unifying this world under his sole reign. The people, initially fearful at the idea of finding themselves under the yoke of a greedy sovereign, were quickly reassured by Jalik's actions. He had distributed wealth fairly, eradicated famine and given everyone the freedom to live their lives as they wished, including the freedom to travel to the visible world.

This conversation gave me an idea of the extent of Jalik's work and the depth of his commitment to his people.

After breakfast, the desire to see Jalik again to discuss my next meeting with Sahar's descendants occupied my mind. So I asked the servant about the possibility of seeing him. To my surprise, he informed me that despite Jalik's busy schedule, he had made me a priority and had suspended all his duties to spend time with me. Guided to his presence, the servant was full of praise for Jalik's exploits along the way.

In front of his throne, after the customary greetings and thanks for his hospitality, I asked him when it would be possible to meet the fennecs. Jalik stipulated that this could only happen after I had learned to master my powers. So he decided to devote the day to learning, and we headed for a quiet training spot by a waterhole, away from any hustle and bustle.

Sitting face to face, Jalik enquired about my condition, noting that my eyes had remained divided since the day before. "Everything's fine, I feel no pain," I reassured him. With that, he encouraged me to relax and try to get my eyes back to normal. Not knowing how to proceed, he guided me through various methods. One of them proved effective: by covering my eyes with my hand with the firm intention of normalising them, their original state was restored.

Encouraged by this success, Jalik suggested bringing back this particular feature. However, I felt a certain apprehension, remembering the initial pain. He advised me to proceed cautiously, assuring me that if I felt the slightest pain, a servant would be called to relieve me and treat me if necessary.

Reassured by his words, I tried the reverse of the previous method to reactivate this unique vision. To my surprise, the simple desire to perceive the inaccessible was enough to restore this ability, this time without any pain. Jalik then suggested that I name this ability. After some thought, I decided on 'Mirror Eyes'. Like a mirror, my eyes seemed to reflect all light, including invisible light, giving them the appearance of a broken mirror.

Very proud of my budding mastery, Jalik decided it was time to move on to the next stage: understanding the rûh categories, 'emanation'. He began by explaining the basics. "There are five main categories of emanation: Essence, Oath, Regna, Materiaform, and Amplis. Each ruh naturally falls into one of these categories, depending on its characteristics and mode of operation."

Essence: This encompasses ruh linked to intangible concepts, which exist and influence our world without being directly perceptible. This is the purest category, often linked to the intrinsic nature of a being or to universal principles.

Oath: This category involves a kind of pact or agreement that the user makes with their ruh. By setting specific restrictions on the use of their emanation, users can in return increase its effectiveness or unlock new abilities.

Regna: Emanations in this category take the form of zones or domains where the user's ruh imposes its own rules. This creates spaces governed by the laws defined by the ruh, altering the environment according to the user's will.

Materiaform: This emanation allows the user to physically transform matter or objects into something else, reflecting the individual's ruh. This can range from a simple alteration of form to total conversion into a new substance.

Amplis: Finally, this category concerns emanations that serve to amplify or increase abilities, whether those of the ruh itself or of the user's other attributes. It's a form of emanation that reinforces and extends the effects of the ruh.

Having assimilated this information, I concluded that my own teleportation ruh must belong to the Essence emanation, as it manifests itself as a non-visible and intangible concept. Jalik confirmed my intuition with a nod of approval.

"It's essential to understand which category your ruh falls into, as this will guide you in its use and development," he explained. "To materialise your ruh, the key is to want it deeply. For Soulshapers, it comes as naturally as breathing."

Teleportation training began with Jalik explaining that to materialise the ruh, all you had to do was want it. "Soulshapers are born with this mastery, considering it as natural as breathing," he said, emphasising the fundamental simplicity of the act.

Yet when I tried to teleport, nothing happened. Puzzled, I turned to Jalik for advice.

"Remember your first teleportation. What was on your mind at the time?" he asked me softly.

I remembered my longing to reach the Aether, my desire for freedom and a specific destination in mind. Armed with this understanding, I concentrated again, this time on a stone by the shore. As I focused intensely on my desire to be there, the world around me blurred, and in an instant I found myself on the stone. "I've done it!" I exclaimed in amazement.

"Very good, Zayn. What do you want to call this ability? After all, you'll discover many others. You might as well start naming them," suggested Jalik. After a moment's thought, I decided to call it 'Blink', as the movement was as quick as the blink of an eye.

My mastery of these two newly-acquired abilities marked a turning point, but one last unknown remained: elemental powers. Jalik, aware of the complexity of materialising them, suggested postponing this part of the training. He first encouraged me to practise teleporting to different places to perfect my technique. I practised until I was exhausted, discovering the limits of my new skill. Jalik suggested a break.

A few hours' rest later, my teleportation skills were restored and I felt ready for the adventure ahead. Invigorated and full of anticipation, I prepared to explore the desert, eager to meet Sahar's descendants.