Finn watched as Shrimp was chased around by the little girl he had brought back home several days earlier. Just as the little light fox was about to be caught, he vanished, turning invisible at the last second.
When the little girl gave a shout of frustration, Shrimp reappeared nearby, and the chase was on again. This little game of tag had been the norm these past few days as Finn relaxed outside the village.
During this time, he had been visited on several occasions by both Maorn and Anya. Together, they would ask Finn questions about his origins and Finn in turn would ask about their culture.
One of the interesting tidbits he learned was that the godesses Anya kept referring too were actually four of their ancestors who had transcended and became embodiments of the elements themselves, whatever that implies.
Confused, Finn asked her to elaborate more on what she meant by transcend. From what Finn could gather, it essentially meant that these beings had reached a level higher than the nine ranks of power, which was something both he and Anya knew very little about.
All he did know was what Anya had explained. Apparently, she thought he had been sent by these beings of great power. As the descendants of these beings, these ancestral godesses have sent their tribe aid in times of need. Several times in the past has this occurred, although it usually came in strange forms, and Finn fit that description perfectly, hence the misunderstanding.
Finn also learned a little about her father and brother, who had left to help her brother advance to the elemental stage. When he inquired more, Anya explained that the elemental stage was when one started transforming their bodies to start the process of elemental assimilation.
It was the next step in power, a qualitative change. While the first three ranks were for attuning the body to a specific element, the elemental stage was building a foundation to prepare the body for transformation.
Unlike with the first three ranks, ranks four through six each involved a qualitative jump.
For ranks one through three, each level only increased both mastery and capacity of one's specific element. Although significant, it did not compare to what came next.
Upon reaching rank four, or the elemental stage, one's whole body began exhibiting characteristics of their respective element. Those of the wind would become faster, lighter, and more agile, while those of earth would become stronger, heavier, and their skin would toughen like steel.
Anya knew less about those with fire and water affinities, let alone light and dark affinities, but it was great info to learn about. When he thought of Bryn, he wondered if he would ever become like this girl before him.
The way she had avoided the killing blasts from the fire drake had left a big impression on Finn. It had been like watching a professional gymnast in high speed motion. Somehow, he couldn't see Bryn doing the same. The boy lacked grace, but he sure did make up for it with enthusiasm.
When Finn asked about her if it was any different for magical beasts like himself, Anya gave him a strange look. She explained that it was not much different for magical beasts with one big exception.
Magical beasts, by their nature, condensed their elemental essence into either cores or stones. For humans who traveled down the path of an elemental warrior, their whole body was the "core."
As for mages, both Anya and Finn knew very little about them. One thing Anya could tell him was that it required a special gift to become one. One had to be able to see the flow of elemental essence in order to control it.
Finn didn't really understand what that meant, but he supposed there were those that did. He barely understood his own powers, let alone the essence of elements or whatever.
All this talk about the elements and the power they give left Finn wondering about the source of it all. Where did this power originate from?
There were other things that Finn learned about as well. When Finn asked about her about her special shield, Anya gladly demonstrated its use.
Focusing on her form, Finn sensed a surge of energy leave her body and enter the shield in question. A blue gem located in its center glowed, and then special symbols lit up with a blueish white color. Suddenly, the rim started spinning, and a tornado of air was produced causing the surrounding trees to blow like they were in the middle of a hurricane.
Fascinating! It was just as Finn remembered. When he asked her how it worked, she explained that it was created by an artisan back in the main village using the core of a rank four magical beast with a wind affinity. It had cost her father quite a bit, but it was gift for reaching her sixteenth summer.
Finn interpreted that as Anya's father's gift for her sixteenth birthday. That being said, it was quite an amazing magical artifact, even if it did come from the core of a magical beast like him.
Oddly enough, Finn did not feel offended or uncomfortable with the knowledge that her shield was made with the core of a magical beast.
Maybe I should be? Finn still felt a disconnect between his body and his sensibilities. He still sought comfort in human interaction, although it was less than before.
Finn only recently discovered that he now couldn't stand crowds of people. What if that grew worse? What if he grew to hate any interaction with people?
Finn had yet to meet another intelligent magical beast like himself. Oh wait... Finn thought of the giant wind python. Could that have been another intelligent beast? Finn didn't know for sure, but what he did know was that resigning himself to a life as a beast would be a special kind of hell.
Maybe it was a curse, to be sentient? Without anyone to communicate with and talk too, Finn was sure he would go insane.
Finn still feared that one day he would wake up and forget he was ever human, becoming nothing more than a smarter than average magical beast.
Although he felt that was less likely to happen, Finn didn't completely disregard the possibility.
Putting aside his internal dilemmas for now, the topic of conversation had recently been more about himself. After telling them his life story, which wasn't all that long to be honest, Anya began asking about his abilities.
Seeing as how she so readily displayed hers for him to see, Finn felt it was only fair to reciprocate.
Instead of writing out everything he could do, he simply wrote that he would also demonstrate.
Sending a stream of power to his claws, Finn displayed his golden glowing claws as he pressed them to the ground, immediately burning a dark patch into the grass.
Following that, he sent power directly to his scales, and a thin golden film started forming.
Finn heard Anya say something and Maorn, who had been writing something into a notebook nearby, translated.
"She says elemental infusion into a magical beasts claws, teeth, and skin or scales is a basic ability shared by nearly all magical beasts..."
Finn's eye twitched. It had taken him quite a long time to learn both those things, mostly because he never really tried due to lack of necessity. Still, the subtle jab hurt his pride a little bit, even if she didn't mean it as one.
Snorting, he next held up his other claw. After focusing a bit, he felt a resonance in his core. The light in the area above his claw started coalescing into a sphere, creating what appeared to be a black orb suspended over his claw.
He heard a couple of surprised "Ooohs" which made him feel better. I bet they have never seen something like this... As long as Finn controlled the light over his claw, it would continue to absorb the surrounding sunlight, creating a black hole effect.
Feeling a flash of inspiration, instead of fully releasing the sphere of compressed light like a flashbang, he allowed it to slowly fizzle out. Following this mental image, he looked at his claw to see a bright glowing ball of light in place of where the black hole used to be.
Woah... Finn was amazed yet again. It looked like he was holding a miniature sun in the palm of his hand... claw.
Looking down, he saw Maorn, Anya, and the little girl staring at the "sun" in his claw with fascination. Tilting his head, he lowered it to their level so they could see the the small sun a bit closer.
Feeling adventurous, Anya reached out and stuck her hand into the ball of light.
"It's warm!" Anya had a bright smile on her face as she commented. The other two followed her lead, each touching the glowing ball. The little girl giggled as she swirled her hand inside it while Moarn adjusted his glasses, trying to eye it closer.
Before he could stick his whole head in, the ball completely dissipated, leaving behind nothing but the air and a little girl's disappointed whine.
Feeling satisfied with their responses, Finn next charged up energy into his throat, compressing it. Finding a suitable target, he shot out a sunspike at the branch of a tree over fifty feet away. The strike landed, blowing the branch clean off the tree, startling several birds in the vicinity.
Rubbing her chin in thought, Anya asked through Maorn, "How far can you shoot one?"
Finn wasn't exactly sure. The blasts of energy dissipated after around one hundred and fifty feet, but they lacked power at that range unless he charged up a stronger shot. Unlike with his sunbeams, Finn had never actually tried firing a fully charged sunspike.
Deciding now was as good a time as any, Finn started compressing energy into his throat...
It was easier to feel that it was to describe for Finn. Unlike with sunbeams, sunspikes had to be... shaped a certain way during formation in order to maintain their disk like shape. If he did it wrong, it would simply dissipate the moment the energy left his throat.
It took about thirty seconds before it became too erratic and uncontrollable. If he didn't fire the sunspike now, it would explode in his throat, which would definitely not be pleasant.
Both Maorn and Anya could feel the condensed power in the air. They were eager to see what Finn was about to do.
Finally unable to hold it back anymore, Finn fired the shot at a tree a hundred feet away. His eyes widened as the projectile sailed through the air at incredibly high speeds. This sunspike was at least four times the normal size, and it was glowing bright white instead of golden yellow.
The sunspike drilled straight through the large tree he was aiming at, leaving a perfectly shaped scorched cylindrical hole two feet in diameter.
Upon exiting the first tree, the beam continued on before colliding with a second tree where it exploded upon hitting it. It was like a bomb had been detonated at the base of the tree, blasting apart bark and wooden splinters everywhere.
The tree itself was destroyed at the bottom, causing what remained to collapse with a heavy crash. The small group watching had their mouths open, including Finn, as a strong gust of wind from the shockwave blew into them.
"So powerful..." Both Maorn and Anya muttered at the same time. Finn himself was impressed, but he calmed down realizing how impractical it was.
In every fight he had so far with another magical beast, he never had any chance to charge power like he just demonstrated. Although it looked impressive, it was useless in an actual fight.
Then again, his goal here was not to fight anything, but to impress his audience. Their wowed reactions were boosting his ego. There was nothing wrong with being a little vain every now and again!
Saving the best for last, Finn gently nudged the group a little further away from himself. Looking in a direction opposite the village, he started charging his most powerful attack.
As the energy gathered, Maorn and Anya felt a sense of trepidation as the air grew heavy with compressed energy. This was unlike anything they had ever experienced.
In Anya's case, only her father had ever created such a phenomenon, and that was when he was truly furious. It was the oppression of a higher level of power.
Soon, Finn reached the limit of what could be contained in his throat, and just like before, a massive sphere of glowing white energy took shape in front on his mouth the second he opened it.
As the mini sun in front of him grew larger, three smaller orbs of light formed around it, when a full minute had passed, Finn reached his limit.
Directing the shot, Finn released control. The three smaller orbs of light surrounding the main sun fused back into it, and the torrent of continuous white hot energy launched in the direction Finn was facing.
As Finn's most powerful attack, this sunbeam annihilated everything in its path. Trees, dirt, shrubs, all turned to ash in its wake. The beam traveled further than what could be seen, but the devastation was clear as day.
The trio of humans had to hold their ears as a booming sound caused by sudden superheated air erupted in the vicinity.
Once the intense beam of energy trickled out, there was nothing left in the direction Finn had been facing except destruction.
Anya, Maorn, and the little girl who had been playing with the light foxes were speechless at the devastation they had just witnessed. It looked as though a new path had been cleared through the woods, with residual flames as decoration.
Slowly, she looked over at Finn once again, who was too busy admiring his own handiwork.
Not even the fire drake could cause such destruction with a single attack. What in the world is this creature? Anya was beginning to have doubts.
An urgent voice cut through the stunned silence. A runner from the village had arrived at the clearing. Owing to his professionalism, he only briefly paused to look upon the devastation before delivering his message.
"Milady! It is urgent you come back to the village at once!
Anya frowned, already worried something bad had happened. "What is it! What's wrong!"
The runner smiled, easing her fears.
"Nothing is wrong Lady Anya. It's just that your father and brother have returned, and they request your presence!"