Thursday, February 1, 2018

Page 1514

It was so unbelievably overwhelming and terrifying. Like suddenly finding oneself in the ocean that he’d read so much about. Not being able to swim or move, for that matter. Just being completely smothered from all directions at once. That experience alone had nearly converted him into a follower of the Heart of the World.

After that first time, it was much more manageable, though not particularly helpful in day-to-day life. While the sensing of ardor required training one’s mind and soul, the actual manipulation of ardor still required enormous industrial tools built by the hands of the supermen.

Sadly, even as revelatory as it was, there simply wasn’t much literal value in that training for the average Hun’Kui outside of the mining industry.

But he was not average, Royo knew, nor were these circumstances.

If anything was going to help him activate this sword’s power, it would be this training.

He concentrated on his breathing. On regulating it. And unifying his mind with it.

It was comfortable like an old set of clothes. Familiar, though perhaps not as easy to slide back into as he would have liked. But he managed.

His mind became his breathing. He moved with it. In and out of his own lungs. An extension of his very soul, his life force. And with that ebb and flow, he could begin to feel the rhythm of the world around him, seeing the heretofore invisible movement in perceived stillness.

It was the pulse of life itself. Asynchronous and all-encompassing.

Holy fire, there was way more ardor around him than he had realized.

True, it had been quite a while since he had performed this sensory technique, thus making it only natural that he would feel a bit overwhelmed by it all again, but even so--this level of power was ridiculous. Not just from the sword, either. It was everywhere. The sword, the boots, his glove, all of the ridiculous treasure--even the floor and walls were practically bursting with ardor, as if threatening to erupt at any moment.

His old bosses would have loved this place, iron or not.

He gathered himself and tried to focus. On the sword. That was all that mattered now.

Indeed, he could sense the ardor flowing through it. Burning through it. He couldn’t help feeling like it would scorch his flesh and swallow him whole. But he knew that wasn’t possible. Or he mostly knew it, anyway.

But now what?

He didn’t really know. There weren’t any industrial tools handy, and even if there were, how would he use them on a sword, of all things?

This ardor was unlike that which he had worked with, as well. It didn’t need to be extracted or molded in any way. It was simply there. Waiting.

On him?

Perhaps so.

Perhaps he needed only reach out with his own soul. He could do that much, he was fairly sure.

The Sword of Hamenszoon responded with a burst of ardor that knocked him clear out of himself, shattering his concentration and forcing him back a few steps.

He waited for his disorientation to go away again, but his vision didn’t quite realign properly. Or didn’t seem to.

Because he suddenly had four left hands, each holding an identical sword.

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