*Clang Clang CLANK*
Metal crashed into metal as two swords continuously connected. Asuna and Kimi exchanged blows with one another repeatedly. Seeing no end in sight, the two disengaged and retreated several steps back.
Rust who had been watching from the sidelines found several issues with their sparing and started yelling with impatience.
“No no no, how many times must I say it. Do not allow your opponent to have the momentum and pace. If your enemy continues to press you then you must change up your tactics. Don’t allow your foe to guide your movements but instead read theirs, anticipate what they’ll do and then strike. If that doesn’t work then hold your ground instead, defend whilst watching for openings and when they present themselves, attack.”
Asuna and Kimi were both drenched in sweat and continuously heaved in discomfort. The two weren’t overly athletic and yet they were now being pushed beyond what either of them ever dreamed of. Their muscles felt strained and sore, their lungs felt as though they were on fire and the two were becoming increasingly light-headed.
Kimi was the first to crack. Dropping her sword, she fell over in exhaustion.
Instead of getting someone to help Kimi right away, Rust called out to Asuna.
“Asuna, your opponent has fallen but that doesn’t mean she is finished, you know what to do.”
Asuna gave a heavy nod and dragged her sword behind her as she approached the fallen Kimi. Standing above Kimi, Asuna lifted her blade and struck down before her.
The sword embedded itself into the dirt next to Kimi’s face signifying a kill strike. Asuna and Kimi didn’t know why this was important at first but after doing it a few times with the soldiers, they quickly realized why you finished your opponent. The first time Asuna knocked a new recruit on their butt, Asuna had been overwhelmed with joy but that soon turned to dread as the new recruit jumped back to his feet and came swinging at her.
Kimi as well had a bad experience in which she let her guard down and a recruit threw sand in her face. Before she could recover, a sword was at her throat, ready to take her life away at a moment’s notice. The two were lucky this all happened during training and not on the field of battle, otherwise, they’d have already been six feet under. Coming to this realization early on had opened their eyes and steeled something within themselves, showing them that this was not a game.
After Asuna’s last strike, she too reached her limit and fell down next to Kimi, her body unmoving. The two breathed harshly but after a moment they were able to catch their breath.
“Not bad Asuna, you pushed me back repeatedly, I didn’t have a chance.”
Asuna tried and failed to shake her head.
“Nhhmn, no, I was desperate the whole time. I barely won.”
Kimi grinned at Asuna.
“That’s what I thought. You got me this time but next time I know if I just push a tiny bit more, then it will be my win, haha.”
The two smiled and laughed at each other’s sorry states, feeling their friendship deepen by another level.
Rust though was a little upset the two didn’t last slightly longer but right now there wasn’t much to be done. Rust stood over the two and eyed their bodies up and down.
“Weak, far too weak, its time for another bath.”
Hearing the word bath, the two knew Rust’s actual meaning. Both Asuna and Kimi tried desperately to turn over and crawl away but how could either one escape from Rust. Grabbing them both by a leg, he began dragging them over to a large metal container that sat at the edge of the training field. Kimi seeing the large metal object began to scream in fear.
“NO, not again, no more, please we’ll train harder just don’t put us back in there.”
Rust ignored the pleas and continued to drag them over.
8 mages both men and women stood surrounding the large metal object. With their hands extended, the mages poured their power into the metal object causing the inscriptions covering it to shine with golden rays of light. Rust looked at a few soldiers and commanded them.
“Put the ingredients in.”
A few soldiers that had been sitting idly by with boredom, grew a bit excited when they heard their commander’s orders. Very quickly, the soldiers began picking up enormous bags filled with ingredients and started pouring them in one by one. A soldier on the side held a checklist in her hands and as the soldiers poured the ingredients in, she checked them off to Rust.
“30 pounds of dried Never Horn, check. 18 pounds of Black Turvide, check. 3 pounds of crystalized Alucyist Flower check. 1 ton of Caripus Powder…”
A few soldiers grunted and their bulging muscles began to shine, it seemed they had inscription tattoos on their body which enhanced their strength.
Those that couldn’t use magic would normally be seen as useless but if you joined the army and gained a few ranks then you could get your very own inscription tattoo, causing the abilities within your body to grow exponentially. Strength, speed, agility, even your senses went up by some degree.
The female soldier continued to check everything off until she finally got down to the last ingredient.
“And last but not least one magic Blood Orb.”
With everything put in, Rust looked at the large metal container and warmly admired it.
“You girls are quite lucky, to be able to use the Karada Cauldron repeatedly, I can’t wait to see what you’ll gain.”
Kimi and Asuna, seeing that they were really about to be placed inside this terrifying cauldron once more, began to struggle with all their might but alas, there was nothing they could do.
“No no no no!”
Rust lifted the two up and dropped them within the cauldron and sealed it shut. The darkness alone could drive one to madness but that was not the cauldron’s most insufferable part.
The two girls hugged one another waiting for the torture that would surely come. Rust inspected the cauldron on all sides before he gave his order.
The mages shared a nod with one another and changed the flow of their power accordingly. The Karada Cauldron had been shining earlier but that was just to make sure it was stable. Now it was time for the Cauldron to get to work.
As the mages focused themselves and synchronized their magic, the contents within began to simmer, and only a few moments after that it began to boil.
The heat was unbearable and the air was unbelievably hot and thick with the pungent smell of both medicinal ingredients as well as magical ones.
The skin on the two ladies inside began to sting and prickle with pain before the pain increased another level.
“AHHHHHHH! NO! LET US OUT, LET US OUT!”
Asuna and Kimi howled in pain as their skin reddened and began to peel away. The agony the two endured was not something anyone should have to deal with and the screams from the two were evidence of that.
Rust gave a nod, not one to release the two but one of understanding.
“I’m sorry but this is necessary. Hate me now, hate us all now but eventually, you will come to thank me. The name of this Cauldron is called Karada, which means body. It is used to reforge your bodies and increase your strength after every use. Once you come out from there your strength will have increased considerably. Not only that, besides pain do you feel it.”
The two continued to scream within but to Rust ears, it was just an echoing mess of moans and groans. Rust placed a hand on the side of the Cauldron and the skin upon his palm instantly started to sizzle and burn but he kept it there ignoring the pain in totality. Adding some magic to his voice his words rang clear within the Cauldron as he gave the girls some advice.
“Listen to me, this pain is nothing for you two, look past it. The main ingredient within this Karada Cauldron is a magic Blood Orb, do you know how lucky that makes the two of you.”
Asuna and Kimi were sobbing but Rust’s words still brought a question from their mouths.
Rust smiled and laughed.
“Hahaha, so lucky. The magic Blood Orb that your bodies are currently absorbing is the past legacy of a great and powerful warrior. When you fully absorb that Blood Orb not only will your strength rise exponentially but you’ll also gain memories of that warrior’s fighting style. As you continue to practice, soon that warrior’s fighting moves will feel as though they are your moves. If only I could have had such a beginning, the amount of pain I would endure, I would endure it. You two, I know how tough it is but if you want to fully realize your potentials then you will calm yourselves and focus on absorbing that Blood Orb. Don’t you want to become stronger, don’t you want to survive and go back home to your families?”
The sobbing and wailing inside soon became a whimper and then silence. Gritting their teeth through the pain, they just barely managed to squeeze out a.
Rust’s expression relaxed a bit as he explained.
“Concentrate on your Mage Cores. Feel the energy within you. You two both have exceptional talent and managed to have high tier Mage Cores. Your Mage Cores should ripple like true water on the surface of a lake. Memorize that feeling and allow it to take hold of you, the Blood Orb like a magnet will then naturally respond. Don’t deny the Blood Orb just open yourselves up and allow the Blood Orb to join with your Mage Core.”
The Cauldron once more went silent as Asuna and Kimi squeezed each other’s hands for support. Closing their eyes they calmed themselves and felt their Mage Cores. Like rippling water, a pulse of energy covered their Mage Cores and danced atop its surface. As the two sunk deeper and deeper into that feeling, the pain slowly subsided and the Blood Orb began to flood into them like a rush of mad bulls.
At first, it felt like a small itch in the center of their stomach but as the Blood Orb continued to be absorbed by them, soon it was as if a thousand ants crawled and bit them all over. To allow such a feeling in and not resist was very difficult at first but with the thought of survival and returning home, the two finally did it.
Rust could no longer feel the presence of the magic Blood Orb and quickly tore the melted flesh from his hand away from the cauldron and ordered the mages to stop.
Backing away the mages did as they were told and focused on the cauldron. Rust though was impatient and wanted to see the results immediately so using his powerful body, he kicked the several ton Karada Cauldron over, spilling the contents and the two girls out on the ground below.
Like a miniature tsunami, a wave of disgusting smelling liquid poured out in every direction along with the two girls. Rust ignored the foul liquid filling his boots and rushed over. Asuna and Kimi laid curled up in a ball completely naked and unconscious. The ingredients inside the Karada Cauldron had eaten away at their clothes long ago, and the pain they suffered robbed them of their consciousness. Rust waved a hand over the two girls and a ring upon his finger shined with a deep purple light.
Two blankets appeared from nowhere and covered the two.
Rust, the soldiers, and the mages all gathered around and stared at Asuna and Kimi’s faces. The two were covered in bright red burns. The skin upon their bodies had blistered and peeled and became quite unsightly but no one there looked concerned, for the energy within their bodies was finalizing the remnants of the Blood Orb.
Soon the remaining energy-filled Asuna and Kimi’s bodies and the wounds and injuries began to rapidly heal. Blisters started to scar over and then fall away like melting butter on a hot knife, in seconds. Burnt flesh as well peeled away revealing smooth skin that seemed to glow with a healthy fleshy luster. Only a minute later and the two awoke in each other’s arms. Their wounds were no more and their beauty enhanced by a small but noticeable degree.
The two exchanged a small but drowsy greeting.
But not even a second later they noticed their surroundings and their lack of garments.
Asuna grabbed a nearby rock and threw it at Rust in a panic.
“No! Don’t look this way!”
The rock whizzed past Rust’s head as he just managed to dodge it. Following the rock’s path, it then smashed into a boulder. Turning said rock into debris and leaving a large crack that ran up alongside the boulder. Rust eyes opened wide in astonishment and he laughed heartily.
“HAHAHAHAHA, now this is a good start.”