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Spiritmaster Chapter 11

Chapter 11: Domain of Discontent


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Book 1 - Chapter 11

Grattan, Massachusetts Junior Year - 2019

<break>

Jerome sat with a thoughtful look on his face while the two students sitting opposite waited patiently. The three were in the four highest ranked male students from the trial.

Pieter had short dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin. He had a small scar above his right eye and talked with a New England accent. His companion was a moon bear which was as cute as it was ferocious.

Silas was the third member of Jerome's pod and was distinguished by his thick New York accent. His companion mongoose was rarely seen because it loved hiding and was good at it. He had longer hair, down to his shoulders and wore teashade glasses.

"If we want to qualify for the tournament, we need to place in the top three. But I want to be first. I don't see a real threat from Kirin's pod, but there are others especially the girl with the gorilla companion. Silas, when we're in Spiritual Arts I want you to keep close tabs on her. We need to gauge her ability and find her weaknesses. Can you do that?"

"No problem." Silas replied.

Jerome continued. "Pieter, you and I will keep our eyes open for anyone with advanced qi arts, rituals or simply raw power. If we know their strengths and weaknesses, we can strategize for it."

"Qi?" Pieter asked.

Jerome shook his head in disappointment. "Qi, chi, chakra, spiritual power, holy ghost, or the force, whatever floats your boat. They're just names for the same thing."

"When's the tournament?" Silas asked.

Jerome replied. "Usually they have a friendly competition with Salem at the end of the term, and the qualifiers for that should begin after week six. The main one is next year in spring, but we want to be the focus for extra training and preparation all year leading up that that. If we're the top pod and they think we're advanced enough, they'll invite us on missions."

Silas whistled appreciatively.

"Pays to have an older sister," Pieter said.

"Sisters," Jerome corrected. "I'm the third from my family in the last six years. And our parents graduated over twenty years ago."

Silas checked the time and stood. "Master Daniel should be here soon."

"Daniel or Master." Jerome said. "Don't call him Master Daniel, he doesn't like it."

Silas shrugged and said, "Okay."

The three made their way to Spiritual Arts.

<break>

Daniel sat on his desk casually while addressing his class.

"Can anyone tell me the why three is fundamental to our core being?"

There was a reluctance to answer for a minute until Pieter raised his hand. "In Christianity, Kabbalah, Buddhism and Hinduism there are three aspects to the divine."

Daniel nodded. "True but that is a reflection of something else I think."

Payan raised his hand and with a nod from Daniel he said, "The three dimensions of time; Past, present and future."

Daniel smiled, "Good. There is something else, anyone?"

Jerome raised his hand, "Sacred Geometry; the triangle which forms the hexagon which is the strongest shape. There are six triangles, which is twice three and each has three sides of course."

Daniel nodded, "Good. Not what we're looking for though."

Kirin said, "We have a mind, body and spirit."

Daniel stood and approached the closest student. "You have a mind," he said touching their forehead with a singular finger, "A body." He pointed to their chest. "And a spirit." He turned his palm up and a bright blue flame appeared.

"Each of your classes are focused on one of these three aspects. Your aspects. It's not bias when I tell you that the two, that focus on your spirit, are fundamental to your potential as a spiritmaster."

He paced through the class with his hand aflame. "I'm not saying ignore your body and mind because balance is not to be underestimated either. Now follow me. All our lessons will be in the pit or the arena. There's not enough space in a classroom for what we will do."

He led his class to the arena as they passed under one of the arches, he turned an indicated for them to spread out.

"Rituals, " he began. "Rituals have been developed and used through the ages. The eastern ways have them, the druids, and priests from the west and of course the magi. They vary, but the fundamentals are the same. Beginners will need a ritual to manipulate or control their spirit. But with deeper understanding you can conduct your spirit without a ritual. "

"Here at Grattan we rarely teach exotic rituals. We're very results orientated. The first I will teach you is a simple kata. It is the very definition of results orientated because it ends with a punch and if you apply with the right mindset, it will work. This brings us back to your three aspects. A ritual is where your mind and body work together to activate your spirit. This is the essence of a ritual. Take it to heart."

Kirin retreated to the edge of the group and put his hand slightly above his shoulder with his palm facing the ground. Red Shama knew what he meant and flew down landing on his hand before hopping on to his shoulder.

"This is not good," Kirin said with concern in his voice.

"The lesson?" Red Shama asked.

"It's forcing. Forcing the spirit. It's not good."

Red Shama chirped which drew a few looks their way. Daniel was demonstrating the ritual - it was similar to a martial arts kata. He finished with his spirit mimicking his fist but leaving his body and continuing the punch another foot.

"The most talented seniors can perform the last movement only to draw their spirit forth." Daniel said.

As the other students began the ritual Kirin turned his back. "Can you bring forth your spirit?"

"No." Red Shama replied. "I am young. I have seen beasts and fae do it. It is possible, but they are older and wiser than me."

"The beasts of the forest, what do they do? I would not think they would perform a ritual." Kirin asked.

Red Shama thought for a while before answering. "It is possible that they do. Not a human ritual. But one of their own kind. A tiger would lie in wait in the tall grass. Very quiet, very still. When it pounces it roars and its spirit would bite with its teeth."

"There was a woodpecker. He was ancient. He would hop left then right twice, then peck three times. Then his spirit would slice a nut wide open. He could eat the largest, hardest nuts. Each time it was like a ritual that your master speaks of."

"But not the bird of prey. I saw an old owl swoop at a snake and when it dove it screeched and the snake was stunned. Maybe dead. It did not move, and the old owl then tore its head off. It was spontaneous and natural. I don't think it was a ritual."

"At home Mr Greaves asked me to do the tai chi kata remember?" And Red Shama nodded. "It worked. But I chose the movements."

"He taught you a different way?" Red Shama asked.

"I think so. But it's possible that any kata can work," Kirin said.

"Does that make it forced?" Red Shama asked.

"Yes. But if I ask my spirit to move and let it decide but working out how to ask it. I'm not sure."

"What bad will happen if you force it?" Red Shama asked.

Kirin thought for a long time before answering. "This is the way for me. Mom led me here, but I'm happy. It feels right. To force purposely would destroy my connection to the flow. I know this deep down. And there is something to it. You saw what happened in the vault. The wrongness doesn't affect me like others. This is something I can offer that's different."

"Very bad then. Don't force it Kirin." Red Shama said.

They both felt a presence suddenly and a moment later Daniel spoke, "You're in a deep discussion. Is there something you wanted me to clarify?"

Kirin hadn't planned to do anything, but he suddenly felt an urge. An urge which he listened to. He turned, placing one foot and then another and brought his hand forward in a striking motion. His spirit flew out and over Daniels head like a blast from a shotgun except it was a bright blue spirit flame and not pellets. It kept flying until it hit the arena boundary and the runes were true to their purpose and soaked the blast.

Daniel chuckled. "And that's why we train here on our first day. Imagine if you put a hole through someone's room with that."

"Sir." Kirin said. "I cannot perform the ritual like you asked."

Daniel thought for a moment before asking, "Kirin. Can you demonstrate for everyone what you just did?"

"No sir." Kirin answered directly.

Red Shama tweeted, "What if you ask your spirit?"

Kirin replied to his companion, "I already know the answer. It's wait."

"Wait until its needed?" Daniel asked.

Kirin nodded.

"If you can perform when it's needed that's all that matters. You can meditate, read, or talk with your companion during class. I don't mind." Daniel said with a smile before he turned to watch another student.

He clapped his hands. "Back to it." When he saw that most of them had stopped and were watching the exchange.

Aria and Payan ran to his side once the class was dismissed. "What the hell was that?" Aria asked excitedly.

"It was a mana blast," Payan said.

"Can we all stick to the same terminology," Aria said in slight frustration. "I swear everyone has their own names for everything and it's annoying."

Kirin shrugged.

Aria laughed at his antipathy.

"The masters call it spirit." Payan said. "I guess that settles it. Spirit blast?"

Aria nodded approval.

Payan grimaced, "I'm going to struggle when I get home. I'll have to retrain myself to say mana."

Aria shrugged and made a face showing her lack of concern before she turned back to Kirin. "Where did that come from, when did you learn it?"

"I had done it once before, but it wasn't quite the same." Kirin said.

"It's high level," Payan said. "Definitely high level."

"Speaking from experience?" Aria asked with an amused tone.

"I," Payan began and noticed some of the other students were watching them, and others were pointing, and chatting. "I think Kirin just put a target on our backs."

"Hmm," Aria said. "I don't mind, and the tournament is a long way away. It's next year."

"What's the tournament?" Kirin asked.

"That," Aria pointed back to the arena, "Was built to host tournaments where spiritmasters battle each other to hone and show off their skills. There'll be a tournament at the end of the year where they select the best pods to battle other schools. Haven't you come as a spectator?"

Kirin shook his head. "Isn't it dangerous?"

Aria replied, "A little. But they make you wear special clothes and gloves to dampen your powers and protect you. Basically, the worst I've seen are broken bones and people getting knocked unconscious is pretty regular."

"I haven't been able to see one." Payan said.

"Why not?" Aria asked.

"Long story," Payan replied.

Aria peered at him but let it drop. She checked her schedule and thought out loud. "Philosophy. I guess it's reading time."

"Great," Kirin said showing rare excitement. He moved towards the library, "I'll ask the librarian to recommend another book on the fae."

"My books are in my room. See ya," Aria said.

"Likewise," Payan said and called after Kirin. "Do you want me to remind you about dinner?"

"Sure, if you want." Kirin said.

"I'll send hawk to find you at five," Payan offered.

Kirin nodded and it wasn't long before he was taking the long walk from the rear entrance to the main desk of the library.

Red Shama arrived carrying a small bag in his beak. Kirin fetched a book from the bag.

"Thanks," Kirin said. "Not too heavy?"

Red Shama said, "I am stronger than I look."

"I know," Kirin said as they arrived at the main desk. He returned the book down the chute and waited patiently for the librarian to notice him. When she turned in his general direction he asked, "I enjoyed The Summer Court very much. Can you recommend another about the fae?"

She thought for a moment before saying, "How to befriend a sprite. It's got a lot of useful tips and it teaches you a lot about how they think. I can't attest to its accuracy, but it was an enjoyable read."

"You've never been to the fae realm?" Kirin asked.

She waved her hand indicating the expanse of the huge library, "I'm the master of the library realm." And then she giggled at her own joke. Kirin laughed as well, which brought a smile to her eyes.

"Thanks," he said. "I'll search it up."

It ended up being in the same section as his first fae book. Kirin sat down to read for the remainder of the afternoon.

<break>

Master Catori ambled behind the six students only half listening to their naive conversations. The group comprised of two pods, one of the proven senior squads and a middle year with the most potential on their blooding. The scout reported a type four newborn abhorrent.

The force was overkill, but the school didn't take unnecessary risks with its students' lives. One of the second years spoke and he remembered she had a connection with Kirin. As a master he taught all of these students, some he would never forget and others he forgot easily.

He approached the blond girl. "Max, are you Kirin's sister?"

She stumbled and then stammered. "Uh. Ah. No Master. My father sponsors him, and he lives on our estate."

"Oh." Master Catori said and let it drop for the moment.

The other students in her pod began to question her. "Who's Kirin? What did he do?"

Max became agitated and her tone reflected her mood, "I barely know him. His mother works for my father and he noticed Kirin had potential. So, he sponsored him." The last was said as if the matter was closed.

The male student glanced back to Master Catori and then asked Max another question, "But Master Catori is interested in him. How often does that happen?"

The Master couldn't help himself. "That's right I am. What sort of education did he receive at home?" He asked Max.

She looked mortified. "I don't know. Um. He read a lot of books."

"Come now. Surely you can tell me more," Master Catori pressed.

"Why?" She asked contrarily and her friends drew in a sharp intake of breath and then held it waiting for Master Catori's reaction.

"He shows great potential." Master Catori said calmly. "And I would like to know more about him, and you Miss are in a position to assist me."

She threw up her hands in resignation. The word fine went unspoken, but it was written all over her face. "He plays a lot of music. I mean. I've heard him play at least a dozen different instruments, but the violin seems to be his favourite. He gardens and does menial chores for the staff and I don't think he's paid. If the driver asked him to wash the car, he would wash it without a complaint. I thought he was the biggest pushover. But then I realised he's happy and it doesn't really bother him. Oh, and in summer. You'll never believe this. He spent three months building a whole new garden, from scratch, all by himself. It's massive. He totally converted the ruins. He would come home every day covered in goo and dirt."

"Goo?" Master Catori asked.

"Yeah. It was gross. It went on for months."

"Was it from an earthly source or excretion from an abhorrent?" Master Catori asked.

"I don't know. You'd have to ask him." Max replied.

"Did he always follow the way?" Master Catori asked.

Max shrugged. "You mean the flow thing? I didn't talk to him much. Maybe."

"What's the way?" another student asked.

Max waved her hand in dismissal, "Long story."

"Yes, and it appears we have reached our destination," Master Catori said pointing to the Domain which was clearly visible atop the hill in front of them.

It was dark, but red and orange swirls moved through it parting and the blackness before it closed behind them. Master Catori peered at the colours of the aura, his face showing no emotion, but the fact he was not his usual jovial self was telling.

The group of seven and their companions marched up the hill.

The seniors approached the edge of the domain trying to pierce its mystery with their senses. They looked at Master Catori. They hadn't seen its like and were looking for guidance.

He nodded to them. It was their role to advise and provide support to Max's pod. But this was not a typical domain with a type 4.

Master Catori pulled out the scout report, reviewed it for a moment and then burned it with spirit flame. "Useless." He said before turning to Max's pod.

"Max, Tristan and Felicia. This is an unusual domain. We're changing our plans. For now, we gather information. Do not enter under any circumstances."

He nodded to the seniors, "Stay behind me."

He took a single step inside and immediately pulled his robe tight. The sense of wrongness and rage was palpable. He turned to the seniors, "You know I hate regulations. Like always wearing protection robes on missions. But I follow them. Teaching moment." He quipped.

"Callum go first. One step only." Master Catori watched in front of him while Callum breached the domain. His face went pale. His shoulders stiff. The Master noticed he went quiet and turned to see pain and fear on the senior's face.

"Out." The Master ordered and Callum complied without complaint. "I'm going to take a look. If I don't come out in ten minutes, head back to the gate and tell Master Schlitz everything you saw and felt."

At their look of concern, he said, "Precautionary. I'm sure I'll be fine."

The two jaguar companions crept low and followed Master Catori. Their ears pinned back reflexively as they managed to cope with the feeling and pressure from the aura without protective runes.

"Okay?" Master Catori asked.

"Just hurry," the male replied.

"We're in agreement," the Master said and walked slowly towards the centre. The two jaguars were alert for any surprises.

A warm putrid wind hit the master in the face, and he gagged. Visibility was low through the dark haze. And his companions' sense of smell was hampered by the stench. That left sound.

An orange mist floated towards them; the dark spirals became brighter towards its centre where it almost glowed. A sense of wrongness accompanied the dark, but the orange had a feeling of discontent. What was unusual were domains were predominately one emotion with associated emotions. This domain had contrasting emotions and it was incredibly strong.

From within the glowing orange centre a sphere appeared. It was covered in dark antenna and its core was a mixture of red and orange. The master gauged it was a type three at least. It had evolved at a rapid rate.

Master Catori looked worried. A type three was no threat but an abhorrent that evolved in a matter of days was terrifying. If left alone it would quickly become a major problem.

"Itztli, kill it." He said and the two jaguars moved. The male charged while the female circled to cut off an escape to the rear.

Itztli bit down on the sphere which was less than half his size. His mouth taking a chunk from its flesh, but the real damage came from his spirit. It flowed from his teeth and sliced deep into his prey. What was remaining of the sphere covered the male jaguar in a red spray from its antenna and he cried in pain.

Master Catori sword ran at the sphere. A round, blue shield formed in front of his fist which he used to bash the sphere. A small amount of spray got past his shield as the sphere convulsed. It landed on his robe and sizzled as it ate through the fabric.

A miniscule amount touched his skin and he felt the ire. He was filled with disgust and he vomited almost immediately.

Itztli was rolling in the grass trying to remove the relatively massive amount he was exposed to. While the female jaguar wisely kept her distance as the sphere deflated and its lifeforce twinkled out of existence.

Master Catori recovered and looked at the domain. It was unchanged. He looked confused.

"We need to get out," he said. Itztli was in distress. "Ichtacka help me." He asked as he grabbed hold of the male jaguar's torso.

And it must have been a sight for the students to see Master Catori and Ichtacka drag the male jaguar from the domain. Once they were out, he shouted, "Someone give me your robes. And water, I need all your water."

Max ripped off her orange robes and threw them to the master, she was dressed in jeans and t-shirt beneath.

Three bottles of water appeared from the students and Master Catori cleaned Itztli as best he could. The Jaguar's breathing was shallow.

"What type is it?" a senior asked.

"After fighting it, I would classify it as type two. It looked mostly harmless, but its excretion was toxic."

"It's dead?" The student asked while looking at the undiminished domain.

"Yes. This is new. I don't know what fiend from hell spawned it, but its not following the normal rules."

Max said, "We're in the middle of nowhere. There's no mental asylum near here. Never has been." Strong domains were often on the grounds of mental asylums. It was something the students checked as part of their mission prep. They checked for all types of human activity near the location.

"Another anomaly." Master Catori said as he cared for his companion. "There's a reason its here though. We'll have to get to the bottom of it because I have a feeling it's far from over."


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