Week 24 - Novel - Dreams Part XVIII - November 11-17

When this was complete, she aimed the spear at the wall, and let loose. The spear emerged from her and slammed into the wall with a deafening crash, pelting them all with painful bullets of water, and eliciting groans from Ardin and Tan, and even a low rumble from Elvir. When she opened her eyes again, she saw a huge cavity where the water had pierced the wall, with debris scattered all around them.

“What is it with you humans from Earth and trying to destroy my cavern?” Elvir said. “Try to clean up this mess now, will you?” He handed her another stone, and took back what remained of the indigo stone, the slate having been already fully consumed in her efforts.

She drew in this stone almost instinctively now, and immediately felt an attraction to the stone debris she had created, as well as the rest of the stones constituting the cavern walls. Each of them had what felt like a magnetic draw that she could tug on, and experimenting with this, she lifted several of the pieces of stone lying around the floor and fitted them back into the cavern wall. Then, drawing in more energy from her harnessed stone, she pushed on the debris, and willed it to meld back into the rest of the wall

Walking over, she examined the stones she had put back in place. They were solidly fused back into the wall. She sucked up the rest of her stone, and picked up the remaining debris and fitted that back into the wall as well.

Tan whistled at this. “That is lightyears ahead of anything we’ve ever done, and we’ve been working with stones for months, now. I’ve never heard of anyone progressing as fast as this before.”

“This barely touches the surface of what she should be able to accomplish,” Elvir said. “Soon, it will be like breathing air to her. Next, we will teach you the basics of adverserial stoneworking. With Aeon and likely others, you will find yourself pitted against those who will use stones against you, and learning to both defend yourself and disarm your opponents will be of vital importance.”

Elvir rifled through his stash of stones, then selected two new ones, pocketing one for himself and handing the other to Jo.

“I will show you the foundations first, and then I believe it would be helpful for you to train with Ardin and Tan, so you all learn to progress together. Now, you may have noticed when the two of them were attempting to harness together, you could see the energy of their stones oppose each other. While that was not what they intended to do, it is precisely what happens in adverserial confrontations.

“If two opponents harness the same stone, the outcome depends on two things: the amount of stone available to be harnessed, and the skill and experience of the harnesser. If two harnessers of the exact same skill level and technique harnessed the same stone, the harnesser with the larger stone supply would win out, as the energies from both stones would cancel each other until one of the stones fully depleted.

“However, this is rarely the case in practice. In reality, even with the same stone supply, one opponent will generally outclass and defeat the other. You can think of this as akin to martial arts - two opponents, even with the exact same build, rarely, if ever, end in a perfect stalemate. Stoneworking is an art of skill, just like the art of martial combat, and the more skilled opponent, even with the same stone and the same supply of that stone, will almost certainly defeat the less skilled opponent.

“This is because stoneworkers do not all harness stones equally effectively, and the more trained and skilled you are, the more efficient you will be at maximally harnessing all the energy possible from your stone. On top of this, adverserial stoneworking is rarely simply two masses of energy pushing directly on each other, like you might imagine in an arm wrestle. Instead, it is an infinitely complex navigation of energies wresting in all forms and directions to slip past the defenses of the opponent and overcome them.

“Further complicating this endeavor is the fact that you will rarely have two opponents using the exact same stones. There are infinite combinations of pitting different stones against each other, and deep knowledge of all the general interactions possible between various types of stones is pivotal to success when facing any stoneworking opponent.

“This may seem like an overwhelming amount to learn, and indeed, it will be a steep learning curve. However, you have shown immense propensity for the art already, and I don’t doubt your capacity to become one of the best stoneworkers, both adverserially and at large, that Eukaon has ever seen. For now, however, let us start simply. Here is one ruby for you, and one ruby for me. I would like you to try to overpower me using your ruby however you can.”

Jo hesitated. “Is there any chance I might hurt you?”

Elvir chuckled. “Technically, yes, but practically, no. Don’t concern yourself with that. Even if you were to use every ounce of the ruby on me and I put up no defense, it would still not cause permanent damage to me. Do not hold back on account of that.”

Jo steadied herself, and then breathed in a small amount of the ruby, focused it, and shot it out in a little dart towards Elvir. Just as the dart was about to land, Elvir produced a small circular shield of energy that easily swiped the dart away, and it fizzled harmlessly as it deflected into the wall.

Jo breathed in deeply now, and threw a large ball of fire next, which Elvir again deflected with a simple shield that channeled the fire harmlessly over his head. Jo frowned, and thought more carefully about her next step. She looked at her ruby. It was about half the size it had been when she’d gotten it. She decided that her best bet was to try to overwhelm Elvir with as much power as she could at once, and to send it in as many directions as possible in the hope that one of her directed bolts would evade his defenses.

 
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