27 – Inner Focus (1)
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With the cavern completely blocked with several layers of rubble and stone, Aziel was now completely sealed off from the happenings of the outside world.

He sighed, somewhat relieved, but at the same time also feeling troubled. The image of that sobbing, heartbroken woman, Dinah appeared before him again as he walked deeper into his rather humble abode and sat down the ground.

Shaking his head, he fixed his posture, sitting cross-legged, Aziel inhaled controlled deep breaths. Keeping the large surplus air just a few extra seconds, he slowly exhaled.

This process, albeit costly as the oxygen was a limited resource now in his new enclosure, did do its job, and slowly, gradually calmed Aziel's agitated heart, so that he could also clear his mind from the unnecessary thoughts.

Eventually, he managed to rebuild his focus and distance himself from everything. He knew he had more important tasks at hand, he needed to step up his game.

With each exhale, he took in less and less of the already stale air of the cave, his eyelids feeling heavier by each passing minute, they shut close.

Devoid of any source of light, or even anything that could be used to measure the relentless passage of time, Aziel had no clue how much time he had already spent before he finally reached the required state of mind to descend back into his subconscious world, the very depths of his unique soul and began to arduous work of reforming all the orbs of essences he had collected over the several millennia.

Within the borders of his mind, Aziel could sense the various orbs of concentrated essence floating inside of his core. Scanning through the bundle, his eyes halted on a specific pool of essence that was expressing itself strongly above the others, dispensing a white light over all the others. It was the result of his previous attempt where he tried fusing all the prehistoric essences into one cohesive unit.

Though it was by no means a failed attempt, they were far from being a single entity. It was like a grand mixture of everything.

Floating towards the orb, Aziel held it in his hand and began to focus a small amount of inner energy on it. Responding to his request, the central golden star-like energy, his current pool of [Aether] began to emit a faint hue, radiating ever so slightly. Thin hair-thin strands traversed the empty void, fusing into the white milky substance.

The orb of essence began to grow brighter and brighter until the color soon began to change to a deeper orange fiery hue, as he soon began to push a larger amount of his inner energy towards the orb.

As the primary orb, holding most was being morphed, molded, and evolved, on the outside, similar transformations were going unnoticed. Aziel's current appearance began to shift, reacting to the changes happening with the orb itself.

His height remained somewhere slightly above the 6-feet mark, (or to the rest of the world around 190cm height) his mass turning leaner, the thick strains of muscles shifting in size, transforming his figure into a more youthful appearance.

As the orb of essence continued its changes, and slowly the rest of the smaller orbs also began to fuse together with it, -along with the small seed of Neanderthal essence-, Aziel's appearance was changing, transforming.

As if a master took the scalpel, his facial features were gradually turning more visible, the previous vague, silhouette of a humanoid monstrous entity, were growing more and more defined.

With each iteration, with each cycle passing, his features turned more defined, resembling that of a human closer and closer.

With each successful cycle, the process of fusing more of the worldly [Aether] became harder, growing more troublesome, requiring more and more of his focus, and attention.

Yet, each time, each completion resulted in a grand milestone, each iteration was like a new realm he has stepped onto. Each time, he could feel the mysterious energy just slightly more than before.

Gradually, the cold, stale air gained something new, something intangible, but something that felt enriching, nourishing.

Aziel could feel the pores on his constantly reforming skin growing more and more sensitive, gradually learning how to passively absorb the powerful sustenance and enter a self-sufficient cycle.

Eventually, the process seemed to reach a block. The orb refused to advance any further and remained as it was as if a piece of the sequence was somehow missing.

Not knowing what it was, Aziel simply released the orb and looked at the large sea of essence within his core. Since he had the chance, he decided to ultimately combine all his traits, meshing the newest with the old and enhancing them all at once.

He mentally commanded all the remaining orbs to surround his spectral body in the form of a spiral grid. He then began to meld the many different orbs together in rapid succession, forming a bigger and bigger sphere of concentrated essence. The orb grew to massive proportions once all of the orbs within the space had melded together, all except the golden, glimmering orb.

Floating to the center of the space, Aziel formed a ball of inner energy within his palm and continued to fuel it with larger concentrations to make the union more powerful. Condensing the ball to the size of a marble, Aziel reached out to place it within the sphere.

"Here comes the hard part…"

Infusing his inner energy with the essence sphere, it had an immediate response on contact with the ball of inner energy. The sphere began to warp and shift as the structure began to deform and struggle to maintain itself.

Aziel placed himself in a state of heightened concentration and began to focus on regulating the sphere and prevent it from collapsing.

After some time the sphere began to build resistance to his attempts and continued to go out of control.

"Argh..."

To stabilize and finish the process, Aziel began to pour more of his energy, all his remaining resources into the reforming of the massive sphere. He began to compress its massive size into a smaller, manageable form.

This seemed to work as the sphere began to calm down and stabilize... at least that's what was thought.

The sphere suddenly imploded and abruptly expanded, launching Aziel out of the subconscious mindscape and forcing him back into reality.

Opening his eyes vigorously, Aziel held his head, feeling an aching pain like thousands of needles tormenting him. He grunted, feeling numb, feeling depressed at failing to cross the very last hurdle and stuck just at the brink of breaking through.

Yet something was missing, that last push...

Though he felt he got closer to unlocking the secrets of this worldly energy, he was still far from mastering it...

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