During the night, at some point Iris lost her mask. She didn’t really notice it, not until later, but at that point it was too late. She was corrupted by the half-breed, doing whatever he wanted with her. She loved every bit of it.
Her shines have way to her desire. Iris was getting accustomed to the half-breed’s antics rather quickly. Only a week has passed and he already seduced her and made her join a threesome. Perhaps it was her inexperience that made her listen to him or perhaps the feelings she had for the troll man made her want to obey him. She didn’t know, but she didn’t care, she wanted to do what the man told her. Her sleep was peaceful and her dreams exciting.
In the morning, Amaran was the first to wake up. It was early, too early for others, but just the right time for a gladiator. He began his day with exercise.
Ever since he woke up, the half troll was stronger, faster, smarter than before. Each day he only became closer to perfection. Now his exercise were very hard, something out of a fairy tail. Right now he was doing push ups, only his legs weren’t touching the floor, instead being help perpendicular to the floor, going up and down with him. Twenty, fifty, hundred, he felt he could go on forever. He didn’t know, but his muscles turning crystalline, it made them more durable and dense than usual, as well as provided more strength.
The same effect showed with sit ups, pull ups or any other exercise he imagined. He didn’t seem to gain any more strength, simply because he no longer got tired during the mourning routine and never had his muscles ache. But he continued doing them, not willing to give up a good habit. Perhaps he needed to somehow increase difficulty.
His strength was great, but it wasn’t on par with monsters like Grum or other giant men. It was more for the fact that his muscles could directly use mana to repair and improve. This was why he barely felt any strain.
Having done it for about an hour, he decided it was time to wake others. He went into the bathroom on the floor, which was bigger, unlike his private one on the floor above. He filled it with warm water and added ointments and aromas, to make it more pleasant. When it was ready, he walked back to Rose’s room and woke the girls up by making some noise. Iris looked at the troll man with sleepy eyes and he didn’t let her wake up fully, instead picking her up and slinging her over his shoulder and carrying her to the bath. He threw her in, making water splash around the place. He jumps in and Rose followed soon after.
The trio washed themselves, while making all of the sleep leave their bodies, enjoying the nice sensation of warm water and oils on the skin. It helped them clean their skin and made it look glossy, adding a slight erotic look.
This was their last day in the mansion, in afternoon they would return to the pits and train. But for now, they could relax just a little bit longer. Well, Rose were staying in the house, but Amaran, Iris and Zyte would be going to go to the arena. They need to earn money after all.
The bath was nice, making girls laugh and talk cheerfully, they felt refreshed and ready to take on the world. Not caring much about time, they spent a whole hour just soaking in water. When they were done, they dried themselves off and left each to their own room. Iris had to put on normal clothes, leaving the dress Amaran bought her in the house. The plan was to go to the restaurant, have a fancy meal and then leave for the arena.
Hamorok didn’t want to go. Ever since he lost his limbs, he barely went outside. It was good that Tirit was there to help him, but it wasn’t very healthy. But the man had pride and he had dignity, he didn’t want anybody to see his crippled body. He told Tirit to go and enjoy herself, but she refused to leave him alone for too long. The wolf man was bitter, but the feline didn’t care. She liked the wolf man.
Zyte woke up sometime during the commotion and she had a scornful expression, but she said nothing, still trying to win the war of silence. She didn’t speak with her master and didn’t feel like speaking with any of the girls, thinking bad things about them. She had a quick wash and dressed up. Amaran told her through Rose that she was also invited to the restaurant, so she didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to have a good meal and visit a dance place, even if she disliked the company.
Everyone got dressed and was ready soon. The clothes they wore were casual. The four of them walking of the house, they went towards a medium price range restaurant. Nobles often liked to dine outside of their homes, wishing to show off their status and share the table with other nobles. Because of it, there were enough various places open all day, welcoming customers for a good breakfast or lunch.
This particular restaurant was catering to the broader crowd, with their prices low enough to be affordable but the meals delicious and juicy. It was a very popular place, called “Gerda’s Garden”, named so after the owners wife.
Thankfully, there wasn’t much of a queue now and Amaran had reserved the place prior to this day. He wanted to treat his ladies for their excellent work and companionship and he wouldn’t stop even if Zyte was an infuriating bitch.
They were seated and had a nice meal, everybody ordering something they wanted. For Iris and Rose, this wasn’t too amazing, seeing how there were nobles or closed to royalty before, but Zyte was happy that she had to enjoy such a meal. Amaran too had a good time, especially since his taste buds told him a whole lot more than they used to. His dish was heavenly, prepared with great skill, it made him doubt his sanity at how good it was.
Seeing how this kind of place had such good tasting food, the half troll was scared of ever eat at the royal palace or in some very good place. He had good food at arena master’s place, but he was more thinking about what he would say, so he didn’t spend too much time thinking about the taste of the food he ate.
After the four ate, they took a carriage and drove first to the house, where they parted with Rose and then they went to the arena. Iris thought that for a man who wanted to keep his status hidden, Amaran seemed to be doing too many fancy things. It was like he wanted to be discovered. She had no idea what he was really thinking.
Once they were back to their room in the pits, Amaran ordered them to rest for another, letting them digest the food and the to get changed for combat training. Iris hadn’t done much this weekend but train her aura and even that was mostly done by Zyte. Good thing she could at least turn off her aura, concealing her nature.
While they were preparing for training, Amaran got his swords and went to the training are by himself. He didn’t feel he needed to rest after earring, his stomach digested everything very quickly. Lately he rarely needed to go to the bathroom either. His body was changing and he really wanted for it to end soon, he wanted to know how strong he would become.
Standing against the practice dummy, he began to unleash one strike after the next. In these couple of days, thanks to constant stimulation and extra mana granted by Zyte, he became even stronger than before. He could feel time dilate and begin to move slower, his swords swinging slow enough for him to follow them with his eyes. He tried to make his body move faster, but that was the difficult part. While his brain was quick, his body still had limitations. So, he would try and break those limits.
One of the training exercises was a contraption, build by somebody at the time when the arena was being constructed. It has been here for ever, but few people used it. In the corner of the training room, there were a number of tubes coming out of the wall. Somebody needed to pour water in the tank above and from time to time, droplets of water would come out at certain intervals. This was done to improve precision and dexterity, but could also be used for other things if adjusted properly.
One of the settings was to be used for learning to strike multiple droplets at once. In a quick succession two or more droplets would fall and the man had to hit both at the same time. What Amaran did was slightly different. Instead of hitting them both at once, he was hitting each one separately, which required great speed. He set it to be pumping as many as six droplets at once and in the short time they had before reaching the floor, Amaran had to strike six times, three with each sword.
At first it was hard. He could hit three, maybe four at once, but any more and his body was too slow. He could see the droplets fall in slow motion, but his muscles, his body moved too slowly. So, he pushed it. flexing stronger, moving more rapidly, trying to overcome the limit, he was pushing against his limit, trying to break it.
This kind of feat was impressive in of itself, very few people could keep up with such speed and accuracy. Hitting a droplet with a sword was hard enough, hitting many at once was nearly impossible. The difficulty of this exercise was what deterred others from doing it. And here was the half troll, who was moving extremely quickly, striking at the droplets tirelessly for many minutes. Each strike would send a spray of water, droplets falling apart cut by the blades. But people were amused by the troll who wanted to be even faster. Surely nobody could be so fast.
After half an hour, Amaran felt it. The limit of his body. He felt the point at which his body would begin breaking, his muscles would begin to tear. He knew it, but he didn’t push himself that far just yet. He needed something before he did that. So, until the girls came, he stayed at the top speed, but not going further.
When Zyte and Iris came, Amaran called them over and spoke to the cherub, remembering to keep his promise to the mana fiend. He stopped his swings, turning to them and showing how his skin glistened from the sweat.
“Girls, we have a battle this week. It won’t believe the usual ones where we would be pitted against one another. I talked with arena master and he is going to get us a real monster, a giant snake. We will have to defeat it with just the three of us.”
“A giant snake? How could we kill such a thing? I don’t even know if I can hit something, I mean, I will hurt it…”
“You won’t need to fight it, only to survive. I will do most of the fighting. For this fight we will be allowed to use magic. If we succeed, we will get a lot of money and fame and this new attraction will be available to all. With each next fight it I’ll get harder and harder.
What I want you to do is to train your defensive moves. Parry, dodge, block anything that can help you live. And you will need to learn your awareness. Right now I want you to spar with Zyte, trying to receive as little damage as possible. If you get hurt, you can heal yourself, but son’t counter attack or use charm.”
Without turning to Zyte, he continued talking to Iris.
“I want Zyte to learn to drain you without kissing you. Touching you or even better from the distance will do the trick. Meanwhile, I will be doing training which will lead to injuries and I want you to heal me. If I am slowed down in the fight, I can die. If you are hit while fighting, we both can die. So, you have tasks of defending yourself, while healing me. Got it?”
Iris answered enthusiastically, showing her readiness to fight. Zyte did a ’tsk’ and showed dissatisfied expression, but there was nothing she could do, she didn’t want to admit defeat. And she did need to learn better drain if she wanted to be a good fighter and to have her revenge. Drain was a powerful skill, strong enough to even kill of she was proficient in its use…
So, they began their training. First, Amaran watched how the girls fought together. Iris was trying to avoid strikes from Zyte, blocking or dodging out of the way. She wasn’t great, but she was good enough not to get badly hurt. If she got hit by the dull training sword, she would heal herself.
Zyte was trying to grasp the mana of the moving target. She knew she could do it with a simple touch, her kiss wasn’t necessary, it just made it easier. In fact, why did she even kiss the troll bastard, she thought to herself that it was just to drain more from him. She was still denying her sympathy for the man.
The fact that Zyte divided her attention made it easier for Iris to defend herself. Satisfied with the pair, Amaran turned towards the droplets, refilled the water tank and resumed his practice.
It didn’t take long for him to reach the point where he felt the limit. He felt it vividly, the limit of his body. He didn’t know that the limit was there because his muscles had normal structure with crystals imbedded in it, instead of having fully crystalline muscles. But he was on the right track, tearing his muscles and letting them regenerate was the solution, although very painful.
Once he was at that point, he told Iris to watch out and to keep him up and running, not letting him to get too injured. With her affirmative reply, he began. He felt how around him time slowed beyond capabilities of his body and he felt how slow his body was. With a command from the brain, he pushed himself to go on further, to tear his flesh. His Boyd began to break the limit. In short bursts, his arms would move faster for a fraction of a second, allowing him to do just a bit more. Each such burst was accompanied with pain shooting through his being.
He painted heavily, feeling his muscles break under the pressure. If he trained by normal mans, he could build up muscle mass and become stronger. But becoming faster was difficult, the man who trained his whole life to become fast was at the peak of the capabilities of a normal mortal body. Anything beyond required either magic or a body which wasn’t normal. Magic wasn’t really a possibility for Amaran right now, so he pushed his body.
When pain was a little too much to bear, his brain shouting at him about the agony he felt, his improved natural pathways gave him increased feedback from his extreme exercise, he let out a grunt. Low, angry sound, making Iris immediately begin her chant.
Her spell was woven quickly, her improved manic core allowed her better control over the spell work. Her spell was much more potent than before, once it was released, it hit Amaran and began mending his breaks. But this time, instead of normal repairs, there were improvement, the muscle and the crystals coming together, creating new fibers and new muscles. If some scientists from the future watched this, they would talk about nanotechnology or synthetic muscles, but here and now, it was just a miracle of healing and mending the broken muscles of the new type.
With the very first spell, the half-breed felt his pain fade away and his muscles beginning to move and greater speeds, only feeling a fire burning where the new tissue has been formed. The spell was amazing, having a much greater effect than before. Amaran said his thanks and pushed on.
With each strike he tore a different part of his muscle, readying it to be reassembled in a new way. Iris didn’t want to leave Amaran in pain, so she would cast her heal spell periodically. With her mana fluctuating inside her body wildly, Zyte was able to feel it better and to almost grasp it. It was hard, but life is not always easy.
Amaran kept going, pushing himself further and further, his muscles breaking and mending. After almost an hour, his arms were completely set on fire after every part of them was torn. All along his arms, even some muscles in his back that were used to move his body, each one was recreated, making his arms something amazing. The speed of his upper body now caught up with his improved perception of time. It was amazing, his arms were nothing but a blur, his blades creating just a shadow, impossible to see their shape or their place at any time.
He knew that he couldn’t improve his upper body muscles any further, so he decided to change it up. He sheathed his swords and began kicking the droplets. In this, he had much less practice and legs had worse control to them than arms. He would be lucky to hit three droplets at a time. He couldn’t switch his legs for each droplets, so he stuck to using only his weaker left leg. He struck and struck, time after time, trying to reach the point where his limit was.
Not having done this before, it was taking him a lot of time. Understanding he wouldn’t be able to do it immediately, he settled for just improving control over his legs. He switched to his other leg and continued.
Seeing how Amaran didn’t use his legs for fighting often, only for running around and jumping, he had a lot of strength in his legs, but they couldn’t move too fast. He would need to train more to reach the limit. But he did a good job enhancing his arms. Seeing how he didn’t need to be healed any more, he thanked Iris and continued swinging his blades.
For some reason, seeing the pink haired bitch get flustered over the half troll’s thanks made Zyte mad. For a moment, she forgot that she was trying to grasp her hold on the girls mana and instead unleashed a flurry of attacks on her. She wasn’t completely useless, but she was unprepared for such a barrage, so a few strikes drew blood, although it was nothing serious.
Hearing the girl’s surprised yelp from the attacks, Zyte stopped and played it off as a part of the exercise, continuing to try and drain the girl from the distance, but still hopelessly. Iris was forced to use her heal on herself, which made mana inside her fluctuate wildly, first from draining and then from receiving the drained mana back. This was the exact thing needed for the mana fiend to grab onto the cherubs mana. Having established a firm hold on it, she began draining her, quickly making her exhausted. With mana leaving her body, the girl fell to her knees.
Zyte was exhilarated, she unconsciously turned towards the half-breed, hoping to her praise from him, only to get confused, both, from her own reaction and also from the look of indifference on the man’s face. She suddenly got angry, turning red. She came close to the man and slapped him, then screamed at him.
“Fine, you bastard you win! Say something already! I can’t keep this up anymore!”
Amaran rubbed his check with his hand. He saw the strike from miles away, but he let it happen. The girl needed it.
“Good job. Now, we may even survive the fight and live another day.”
Zyte suddenly stopped, looking at him with wide eyes. She didn’t know what it was, but it made her feel confused. Was it the praise? Was it the sudden change? Was it the meaning of what he said? She didn’t know it, but suddenly she felt like crying. She dropped the training sword on the ground and ran away crying. She didn’t go to her room, instead she went to her own spot.
Amaran approached Iris and picked her up. Perhaps it was enough for tonight for her. She looked sleepy and even slightly in pain. Maybe the blue haired girl overdid it slightly.
He carried the girl to their room and put her in the bed, letting her rest. There wasn’t really a private bath for the girl to take and besides, she didn’t really seem to care at the moment. Het thoughts were preoccupied with sleeping.
Amaran covered the girl with a blanket and went back to training. He continued using his legs, not feeling the fatigue or exhaustion, his tissue consuming mana to replenish the energy needed for movement. You could call it manaerobic respiration.
He pushed himself, trying to get to the braking point, hoping to become faster. His arms were fast, extremely fast, but his legs were still within mortal realm. He needed them to move as fast as he could. If he was to survive, he needed to be faster, stronger, smarter. He needed to be more perfect, more inhuman, more monstrous. He needed to transform as much as possible. He still had no idea what was happening to him, but he knew sundering had something to do with it.
He was training when it already turned dark. He didn’t need to be anywhere, so he could sacrifice some sleep. He noticed how he needed
less of it, his body was using mana to elevate some of the mental fatigue that accumulated. Having plenty of extra mental capacity, his brain was using the unoccupied parts to help itself keep going for longer. It was almost like with dolphins, where the one hemisphere slept, while other was awake. Some parts of the Amaran’s brain processed information, while others works on his everyday life. He could use both parts if he needed to improve his perception or to think at much greater speeds, but while his legs moved slowly, he didn’t need to speed up his perception.
He kept going, hoping to improve as much as possible. He knew whatever he proposed was a suicide, even against a giant snake the three of them would be just a trip of morsels to eat. It was good that Zyte was able to learn to drain from distance, it would give them an advantage, but it was not enough. He was the only really capable fighter amongst them and he needed to be even more capable if he wanted them all to survive. For the girls, he needed to work harder.
While the man trained more, Zyte had spent her time pouring her heart out to the wall in some place within the arena. She was confused, still trying to ignore her feelings. She had admiration for the man, his determination and power pushed him on, but she was too afraid to trust another man. She was also afraid of relying on him and to fight with him, but she now understood, something – Amaran was relying on her. What he said earlier, about their survival, he was serious. His face didn’t show his usual smile and he didn’t laugh at it. Their lives will be in grave danger.
She understood that her master was willing to risk himself for them. He was training, becoming stronger for their sake and he wanted them to do the same and Zyte was throwing tantrums, wishing for her freedom and revenge. To her it was clear, there was a risk they wouldn’t survive this week. And if she continued like she was going now, she wouldn’t get a chance at attaining freedom.
Having cried for the first time in a long time, she was now calm and relaxed, her mind being free of most of the conflicts. She felt at peace somewhat. And she understood that she needed to work if she wanted to survive and to get out.
It was clear that she needed to train. Amaran said that her drain was useful, perhaps it was crucial to their survival. She would learn to do it.
Wiping away the last of her tears, she got up and walked back towards her room. Looking inside, she saw that the man wasn’t there. He was still training. She walked to the apt raining area, only to see the green man kicking the droplets out of the air at impressive speeds. He was doing this for hours now, without rest and pause, he just kicked and kicked. When she came it, Amaran gazed at her and continued.
She felt bad, both for her behavior and his indifference. He treated her like nothing. She didn’t know what she wanted to be treated as, but surely not this. She came to him, hoping to change something.
“I want to help.”
Her master stopped and looked at her. This time his eye showed some warmth as if he felt grateful for her change. He came closer to her and grabbed her shoulders, holding them firmly.
Fear inside her was shaking, whispering for her to push him away, to slap away his hands. But admiration inside her hoped for a different outcome, for the one she feared most. She was confused, her emotions conflicting and trying to outdo one another.
But in the end it didn’t happen. He didn’t get closer and he didn’t kiss her. They did not interlocked their lips and they did not embrace one another.
Instead, Amaran looked the girl in the eyes and told her.
“I want you to drain me and then I want you to give whatever you drained back. I want you to pass the mana back and forth between us, preferably without touching. I prove your skill over mana.”
Zyte felt both, relieved and disappointed. Somewhere deep inside she hoped for something else. It was confusing to be her.
But she obeyed her master. The man was just that to her, her lord and savior, her master and her God at the moment. Whatever he said, goes. And she understood it. Without his words being a command, she obeyed them, doing what he said.
She drew a tiny amount from him and held onto the connection between them and stepped away. Still keeping them connected, she began draining more, until she had a nice amount of mana. She than began moving it back into him. It was hard, harder than with Iris, but she moved it through the air, slowly but surely and soon the mana returned to its rightful owner. The girl however didn’t break the connection and repeated the process.
Seeing the usually defiant girl at work, doing what he asked, Amaran returned to his training. He felt each time his body was robbed of mana, but it was to a lesser extent than before, no longer feeling like ants were crawling under his skin, it was just slight irritation. Maybe the girl didn’t take as much or maybe she was gentler. He didn’t know. He however felt it when she pumped mana back into him, making him feel hot.
Unknowingly, this was speeding up the process of Amaran’s transformation. The crystals in his body grew quicker and denser, each time absorbing some of the mana passing through the he body. It stimulates the growth and also allowed for faster transfer of mana. Overall it was to Amaran,s benefit.
So, Zyte was training, feeling foreign mana better, making sure to grab just a little more each time, to move it a tad faster. She repeated the process many times over the hour, slowly improving with each draw.
At some point she felt uncomfortable, the mana she was drawing was a little too much for her body to handle at the moment, so she didn’t want to endure it again. Instead, she did something else. Instead of taking mana into her body, she would diffuse it into the surroundings and then infuse it back into Amaran once she would push it back.
This allowed her two different channels for the transfer of mana, first into her and another into the environment. This made transfer harder but faster. This was evident to Amaran, as the irritation increased, but so did the the hot sensation what the mana was pushed back inside him.
Like that, the two were training, passing mana back and forth. Constantly feeling her master’s mana, Zyte began feeling some familiarity with him, she was getting a feeling that she knew him for a long time and that he was her friend. Of course it was a lie, but sharing mana like that, it was similar to bonding, their souls seemed to touch from time to time. It wasn’t anything serious, but it really improved their familiarity and how they perceived one another.
Amaran also felt it, how the girl was growing on him, making him think as a friend about her. He seemed to be getting tiny snippets of information, like her favorite color or her loveliest day. They weren’t fully formed conscious thoughts, but just ideas, which turned up in his head and made him think they were true. Of course he was affected more than the girl, she wasn’t receiving such information. This was all thanks to how well Amaran could absorb mana,
But the two trained like that, they spirits becoming kindred, like they were very close. Amaran began to understand what was happening in her head. It was very slight, but he seemed to be able to gaze into her soul. He felt the same confusion and the same admiration and fear. He was beginning to unravel the mystery that was Zyte. He knew he would need to help her one day, but not right now. He knew that he needed to train more.
After a few hours of this back and forth training, Zyte was exhausted. She was getting tired quickly, having done a difficult exercise and having learned a lot. She needed rest but she wanted to push herself. Sadly, she wasn’t a monster like Amaran, so he sent her to sleep. She promised she would train harder the next day and her master smiled at her eagerness.
She felt slightly happy from his reaction, but she stopped the thought before it became fully known to her. But the thought reached Amaran, making the mystery slightly easier to uncover. He felt her admiration for himself, even if they were no longer exchanging mana. He knew it was weird, but he didn’t have time to think too much. He needed to prepare. With Zyte gone to bed, he was still training. He had many hours of the night before anybody would disturb him here. He would use them well.