Chapter 21 – Element Baptism
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A month later

It was a chilly night, the two pale crescent moons shone like silvery claws in the night sky as the cold wind caressed the dark green grasses in the Ashel mansion. Under the chilly gazes of the moons, four people could be seen surrounding a young woman with silver hair as she sat in a lotus position, her face showing extreme determination and seriousness

A tall man with silver hair and crimson eyes broke the silence

"Are you ready"

The young woman looked up and nodded softly without saying anything, but the chilly winds kept on increasing little by little

"Sabina, are you sure you can handle it?" this time a beautiful woman in black hair spoke with a slightly worried tone

Sabina could only nod her head without speaking but her gaze displayed her steeled resolve to overcome what she was about to do, turning her head she looked up at a tall handsome looking boy with black hair and crimson eyes with a plain expression plastered on his face.

He nodded when she looked "if you're sure then just proceed"

The tall boy being Cain was here for one thing tonight, he paused what he was doing just to witness this, his sister was about to enter the fourth rank so he had to see it for himself, although he knew the process, nothing could beat a live sample.

There are three thresholds someone must pass to advance in ranks which are the mind, body and soul. The first being the mind which the trials have to be passed to be qualified as a mage, the second being the body which sees a qualitative change, this only happens before entering the 4th rank.

At rank 1 a person senses and gathers energy to the mind, leading to expansion of the mind and condensing of the elements contained within. At rank 2 is when the condensed element turns gaseous and is continually fed to mind

At rank 3, the element is further condensed to a liquid state with the mind continuously expanding before the liquid becomes extremely dense and the mind so large to the point that the mortal body can no longer contain them which leads to the element baptism.

Just like the name, before reaching rank four the body is baptised by the liquid element, leading to a mind sea and a persona figment. Baptism may sound easy but it isn't called a tribulation for nothing. The fourth rank is a major milestone completely breaking away from mortality and stepping onto the path of immortality

A person must use the liquid element contained in the mind to carefully destroy and reconstruct their whole body. From the skeleton to the organs, everything is done by the person's awareness, failure to do this naturally results in death.

Because of the constant expansion and reconstruction, the mind sea and persona figments are created. A persona figment like the name implies is a figment of one's personality, what drives them forward, it takes the blurry shape of the person inside the mind sea which resembles an empty world filled with an element sea

Sabina was about to go through with the element baptism, though the death rate wasn't as high as the pain-bewitching trials, it was still high nonetheless, afterall just how many people get the chance to reach the fourth rank in their lives and even if they do they might not survive at all.

With her resolve as tough as diamond she started, carefully circulating her technique and directing her liquid earth element first to all her bones. Immediately bone crunching sounds were heard as anywhere the element passed they kept shattering and reforming.

Gritting her teeth she pushed forward and persevered, this pain would only serve as a motivation for her to keep going. Her family was present, her journey was not going end here, her love for them was greater than any pain she was feeling right now

She had always been loved and protected by them

She remembered the day she became a rank one, the love she felt, the support she was given and the happiness displayed by her family

She remembered the day her mother became pregnant with her junior sibling

She remembered when they confirmed it was a boy and how her mother was so happy she shed tears of joy

She remembered the first time she held her little brother in her arms, she couldn't hold back her smile and even let a tear out of her crimson eyes

She remembered her father destroying families for the sake of her brother, cementing the value that her parents placed on them

All this kept playing out in her mind as the process went on, steeling her resolve to overcome this baptism more as her persona figment kept forming, finally her skeletons were completely reformed as they became extremely smooth and hard, shining in a light green lustre.

Next were all her organs, guiding the elements again she continued, one by one they were all pulverised and reformed, the pain only intensifying but her will was undaunted, she was not going to falter here.

Cain kept watching and analysing the whole process, he wasn't surprised by how tough his sister was, anyone who got this far in ranks were not ordinary people, their minds continuously sharpened and their wills polished. Still, that wasn't what piqued his curiosity, the whole process to enter the fourth rank reminded him of something which was so familiar to him but he left that for later as he kept observing.

The rest of the family kept watching as well, Thelma's fists were clenched so hard as she watched her daughter in pain, the only thing keeping her from dashing forward and hugging her child was fear of causing a disturbance and leading to Sabina's death. Solomon watched on calmly, but inside he too was worried still there was nothing he could do, he could only wait. The last person was Lily, she bit her lips and looked away, she wished she could share Sabina's pain but alas it was impossible.

Everyone had different emotions, Sabina was the doll of the family, always cheering everyone up and bringing warmth to them. Even the maidservants and the guards loved her, she never once mistreated them and would even joke around sometimes with them, something unusual for an Ashel. Now they had to be strong for her, entering the fourth rank was extremely risky but they believed in her nonetheless.

Of course Cain wasn't interested, though she reminded him of his daughter, he didn't care if she lived or died, he was only here to observe and gather data, if they mistake it for moral support then so be it, in fact it was better for him if that was what they felt.

After a long while of body reformation, Sabina's body began overflowing with power, she had finally stepped into the fourth rank, she was no longer a mortal, she was a being of element. She checked her mind sea which was filled with the liquid earth element as a transparent humanoid figure sat above the element sea. She could feel the connection with her persona figment, this was her personality and motivation taking on a humanoid shape.

Everyone saw this as they heaved a huge sigh of relief, though they believed she could succeed they couldn't prevent themselves from worrying and fearing for the worst

Standing up, Sabina clenched her fist and flexed her body, the strength contained in her body overflowing, she felt she could defeat dozens or even more of her previous self with just her physical body or mind. The pain was worth it and since her body was comprised solely of elements she felt more in tune with the world around her

She smiled as she looked at her family warmly, Solomon looked at her with wide smiles and pride, Thelma rushed and gave her a big hug as she caressed her hair, Lily composed herself more but one could see the smile and happiness on her face.

Cain looked at her, he had gotten all the data he needed and it was time for him to leave. Sabina glanced at him and smiled beautifully but Cain just stared at her apathetically before turning around to leave, when she saw this, she smiled even more and shook her head.

She was happy that he came at least, this was his own way of showing love, she knew that under that shade of coldness and apathy there was warmth

***

Inside one of the cages in the underground area below Cain's room, a young looking man about twenty years of age was silent, his eyes seemed to be devoid of any emotion but at this moment, a creepy smile was plastered on his face.

Looking around he shook his head before he muttered something under his breath, immediately a sharp pain was felt in his soul but he endured the pain. Beads of cold sweat accumulated on his forehead as his nose began to bleed.

After what seemed like ages, the pain receded, he cleaned his nose but his smile widened further. One could see the satisfaction he had on his face, but at this moment the door to the underground area opened as Cain stepped in, the man's smile vanished as he feigned hopelessness before hugging his knee

***

A beautiful young woman with black hair and a crescent moon mark on her forehead sat in a lotus position with her eyes closed in full concentration, the room was silent but the energy she kept absorbing was enormous.

After a while she opened her blue eyes as her energy leaked out, the surroundings shook a little before she retracted her energy and stabilised herself.

Smiling, she inspected her mind and saw a gaseous substance begin to saturate her mind, she stopped and inspected her body which was brimming with immense energy

Nodding, she caressed her hair and exhaled satisfyingly

"Finally at the second rank, what a beautiful feeling, just the second rank has this kind of power then what about the later ranks"

She stopped and inspected her bloodline, her smile blossoming even further

"I even feel my bloodline carrying slight properties of my element, what a strange sensation"

She wanted to inspect herself some more but at that moment she felt something in her soul, she knew what that was as she concentrated and inspected it.

She saw the message and chuckled lightly

"He's truly one of a kind, just what are you up to dear Cain"

She paused a bit before composing herself as a pondering expression emerged on her face

"Hmm, I guess I'll be heading to that wovec meeting then"

After speaking to herself she walked towards the door of the room and opened, there Mace could be seen waiting as he bowed his head politely

"Mace, brief me on the reports as we walk"

"Yes master, over the past four months...."

***

Cain opened the door of the underground area and looked around, he was still thinking about the familiar process of that element baptism but right now it wasn't his priority. After walking for a little while he stopped in front of a certain cage but what he saw got him frowning.

A young girl could be seen covered in blood and pieces of flesh, her eyes the only whites appearing on her face as she sat on the bloody floor in complete silence.

The metal bars of the cage were littered with bits of intestines and other flesh as the floor was marred by a pool of blood extending all the way outside

Sighing he thought to himself 'seems like the pregnant woman was a failure as well, just what is the problem, what am I missing here'

He looked at the young girl who was frozen on the spot not uttering a single sound, staring blankly into space without sparing Cain a glance.

'Was the trauma too much for her young mind?' he wondered

He snapped out of his thoughts, though bothered about the failures, the little girl's situation didn't faze him. He looked at the other cages before shaking his head in disappointment, he had invested quite a bit into this but all he got were failures, still he felt he was close and would arrive at the answer but now he had no more time

His expression turned cold and menacing as he kept scanning the whole room and cages, the people shivered when they felt his gaze as silence reigned supreme

Not long after he turned and began making his way towards the door, but a cruel smile could be seen on his face as he chuckled darkly

"Let the games begin"

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