TF Chapter 44 Interlude; Celeste
I had lost control, overlapping my memories of the war with the current ones, causing me to treat my student as if he was that 'Thing.'
How could I have made such a dumb mistake? Had I really changed so much that I had gotten that crazy?
I had thought that everything had been under control after a week regulating myself and going to regular counselling sessions like the others, yet here I was, rushing towards the academy, my apprentice in my bosom as I feared for the worst. My body had moved instinctively...it must have been because I had decided to clad myself entirely in armor.
Now that I think about it, I could have defeated all three without having to manifest the damn thing! Why had I done so?
I felt a liquid pooling within my tear ducts as I sprinted with all I had. He had to survive! I barely stopped, even on the stairs, even as I exerted my spirit to hold his blood within his body.
His heart was still beating, I could feel it, no matter how minute, but, like an ember, it was fading.
I added more push to my legs using the metallic atoms making up my armor, surpassing the limits of my physical body. I could feel my muscles snapping, but! He was in much more pain than I, so I grit my teeth and navigated the hallways, making sure to not bump into anyone, as that was a surefire way to our deaths with my current velocity.
I was panicking inside yet my feet never stopped moving and my spirit never ceased monitor his condition! He had to live! There would be no one else to blame but myself if he died!
Regret started to take root within my mind as I replayed all the previous memories, the ones that had caused me to make decisions the me of last year wouldn't have made.
Through that glass, he was breathing and still alive. Even though my senses couldn't penetrate the cylindrical chamber, I knew because, it would have deactivated if he had died.
But looking at the mess that was Nathaniel, I couldn't calm myself down. I had almost killed him. That was something that I and him were going to have to live with even when he recovered. My heart was pounding within my chest from the previous exertion, coupled with my unstable emotions.
I looked down at my hands...they were shaking. I didn't know why, but I guessed one of the many emotions were affecting them. Was it fear? Fear that I had tried to kill a fellow human? Or the fear that I could lose control any moment from now, just like with him?
I didn't understand anything at all!
My legs gave out from beneath me, causing me to crumple onto the floor. I was shocked! What happened?
I had lost strength for no reason...no, I had pushed myself past my limits, and now that I had relaxed, everything that had been masked by the adrenaline rush, came surging in like the waves on an ocean, battering my body all at once. Pain, I could feel it, but when my gaze moved to that figure floating within the cylinder, I stifled the groan that was about to escape my mouth. I had inflicted something worse upon my student. I didn't have the qualifications to yelp out.
The liquid within the cylinder was miraculous, something even we humans hadn't managed to replicate, not to mention the fact that we had absolutely no idea how it was even created, or where it was even stored when this chamber wasn't in use...it would most definitely heal him!
But what about his mind?
This tiny question nagged at me in the back of my mind. What was he going to be like when he woke up? Would he want revenge? Would I allow myself to be struck down if he decided to kill me?
I paused at that. I most definitely wouldn't allow that! There were many things I could allow, but never that!
What if he asked for my death?
I let that thought hang within my mind, yet I knew that I would never allow myself to be killed, but then, what if he asked for my death?
"So, this is the youth with the strange connection to this place, huh!"
The voice was mild, but my body tremored violently in response! One of the things I had dreaded had happened!
How had he known?! And this fast?!
I hadn't been paying attention from the start, so when I looked up, a shadow was being cast upon me, blocking the illumination from the stones on the ceiling.
"What happened?" His voice was still calm, meaning that he hadn't figured out the entire matter, but I knew that there was no use lying. He would most definitely see through me the instant I did.
"Time is being wasted here. Many matters pertaining to the dead forgers need my attention." He spoke with a deep voice, though filled with weariness.
"I...almost killed him." Like a burden that had been pressing down upon my chest, it lightened instantly.
"If these were normal times, your punishment would have been severe...but currently, we need every forger that we have so...it will be waived. Though, I suggest you take control of your crazy state...not the other way around!"
I lowered my head, not daring to look at his face. Hs presence behind me was promise that I could lean on him, yet I couldn't allow myself that luxury!
Wallowing in self pity in front of my student wasn't the way to go when I was the one who had inflicted these injuries upon him.
The shadow vanished just as silently as he had appeared, leaving the soft light to fall upon me.
I dragged myself inside another chamber since the injuries to my legs were past severe. If I had lingered any more, blood loss would have been the cause of my death.
The moment he recovered would be the time that would signal the start of my atonement. Being in top shape for that day would be better.
Even as the liquid enveloped me and my gaze started to become blurry, I still kept my eyes upon the figure within the recovery cylinder. What would he ask of me? I wondered.
Those eyes had most definitely seen me, yet for some reason, they didn't even acknowledge me, deciding to land upon my father, one of the elders on the council who was standing beside me.
Why was he doing that? Was he scared of me?
That was the most plausible explanation as I had caught the tiny sliver of dread within them. Did I really leave such a huge mental scar upon my student?
"He appears to be recovering well."
I turned to my father, who was adorned in the council attire that signified his high status. It was customary for all council members to wear such clothing, even outside this continent.
I had healed very well, and now we had arrived here to check upon Nathaniel. Honestly, I had been a bit scared when I had found him awake. What if he became unhinged?
"He's had the same experience as you. It would be better if you were the one to guide him."
Very few could literally stare death in the face and walk away to tell the tale. I don't think I had even reached that point, but my father had. He and the council members had been the ones to truly fight in the front lines since they were third stage forgers, while we had only been helpers. The glaring fact that all the council members had been injured in that battle, having yet to recover was a testament to that being's power.
Even standing next to me, there was a certain feebleness to the man, as if any moment from now, he might die. I knew, because his spirit was clashing with that of the being, whose attacks had been imbued with its spiritual powers, which were a level higher, having achieved some sort of permanence.
A being who had crossed the threshold that was the third stage...
That was something everyone here yearned for, mostly the council members, yet, it still eluded us...
I decided to abandon those thoughts as they were useless for the current me. Right now, I had to focus on making sure I took away that trauma from my student.
"The next time something like this happens though, I will be powerless to save you. He's very important to all of humanity, his level just below that of that being's corpse."
"I understand." There were limits to his authority. He had probably silenced whoever he could to prevent the incident from blowing up. I was immensely grateful for that.
Starting now, I had to shape up. The era was changing. No more laid back approaches to the forger advancement. Every apprentice was going to go through hell and back in order to become tough.
The glaring flaw that all of us had noticed during the tussle with that being was the fact that very few forgers had honed their combat moves, leading to many mistakes, and most of the deaths. Even though I respected the man for the fact that he stood his ground, the Ross family old man had been trashy at combat, with even I eclipsing him. The only reason he had even managed to hold on for long was the fact that he had absolute control over every cell within his body, like all the third stage beings.
"I wonder whether he will help us unlock some of the secrets of this place, particularly answering the age old question of why this continent is here in our solar system."
With those words, my father left me behind to face my student, who had now closed his eyes as if in sleep, but I had an inkling that he was avoiding to gaze at me.
It looks like the task ahead was going to be hard. But I wouldn't give up! I had caused this! And now I had to fix it, with whatever means I could. It would be a pity if he dropped off the path of the forger because of something like trauma.
This year, I was going to take my duties seriously, to make sure the tragedy of unskilled forgers being sent into battle never happens again!