Paragon of Destruction by TomVanDyke

Synopsis and Starting Chapter
Chapter 2 Master Zhao
Chapter 3 The Blue Angel
Chapter 4 Magic
Chapter 5 On The Road
Chapter 6 A Harsh Lesson
Chapter 7 The Black Pill
Chapter 8 A Taste Of Magic
Chapter 9 Master Firehear
Chapter 10 Windsong
Chapter 11 Stages Of Magic
Chapter 12 The Wind Realm
Chapter 13 Opening A Realm
Chapter 14 A Breath Of Wind
Chapter 15 Drunken Masters
Chapter 16 The Valley
Chapter 17 An Unexpected Arrival
Chapter 18 Preparing For Battle
Chapter 19 The True Face Of Magic
Chapter 20 Aftermath
Chapter 21 Disguises
Chapter 22 Memories Of Murder
Chapter 23 A Difficult Choice
Chapter 24 Master Zhao’S Treasures
Chapter 25 The Journey Ahead
Chapter 26 Redwater
Chapter 27 Dinner With Enemies
Chapter 28 Unlikely Companions
Chapter 29 Stormleaf'S Gif
Chapter 30 Power Overwhelming
Chapter 31 Lord Jiang
Chapter 32 The Price Of Power
Chapter 33 The Estate
Chapter 34 Training With Lord Jiang
Chapter 35 Continued Training
Chapter 36 Body Refinemen
Chapter 37 Feast Of Treasures
Chapter 38 Faster, Higher, Stronger
Chapter 39 The Starmetal Sword
Chapter 40 The Magistrate
Chapter 41 Duel
Chapter 42 Revelations
Chapter 43 Breaking The Seals
Chapter 44 Newfound Power
Chapter 45 Lord Jiang'S Gifts
Chapter 46 Saying Goodbye
Chapter 47 Leaving Silvermere
Chapter 48 Ambush
Chapter 49 Wounds Of Battle
Chapter 50 The Bandit Fortress
Chapter 51 Senecio
Chapter 52 Looting Treasures
Chapter 53 Words Of Chaos
Chapter 54 The Old Man And The Trickster
Chapter 55 Panurge’S Punishmen
Chapter 56 Windblade
Chapter 57 A Way To Escape
Chapter 58 Prison Break
Chapter 59 The Prisoners
Chapter 60 A Clear Path
Chapter 61 A Change Of Plans
Chapter 62 Assaulting The Prison
Chapter 63 Resistance
Chapter 64 Facing The Archmage
Chapter 65 Birds And Dragons
Chapter 66 Leaving The Stronghold
Chapter 67 The Edge Of The Empire
Chapter 68 The Story So Far
Chapter 69 The Border City
Chapter 70 Darkfire
Chapter 71 A Small Figh
Chapter 72 Tournamen
Chapter 73 The Shadowblood Novice
Chapter 74 The Gray-Robed Lady
Chapter 75 Governor Eddarin
Chapter 76 Leaving The City
Chapter 77 Darkfire'S Ordeal
Chapter 78 A New Arrival
Chapter 79 Judgmen
Chapter 80 New Techniques
Chapter 81 The Arenas Of Hillfor
Chapter 82 The Victor'S Spoils
Chapter 83 An Unexpected Invitation
Chapter 84 Lunch With The Governor
Chapter 85 Amaya
Chapter 86 Searching For Answers
Chapter 87 Stoneheart'S Army
Chapter 88 Stonehear
Chapter 89 Zehava
Chapter 90 Unexpected News
Chapter 91 Darkfire’S Decision
Chapter 92 Before The Tournamen
Chapter 93 The Tournament Begins
Chapter 94 The Tournament Continues
Chapter 95 Defeated
Chapter 96 Snowcloud
Chapter 97 The Valley
Chapter 98 Oathbound
Chapter 99 Urgent Matters
Chapter 100 Running
Chapter 101 Questions
Chapter 102 Answers
Chapter 103 First Steps
Chapter 104 Crystals
Chapter 105 Blindsided
Chapter 106 Fighting Blind
Chapter 107 Shadowsigh
Chapter 108 Exposed
Chapter 109 The Bracele
Chapter 110 The Deserters' Fortress
Chapter 111 Fighting Dirty
Chapter 112 Assault On The Fortress
Chapter 113 Blood Magic
Chapter 114 A Debt Repaid
Chapter 115 Exchanging Knowledge
Chapter 116 Goldhaven
Chapter 117 Lord Sevaril
Chapter 118 The Formula
Chapter 119 Ingredients
Chapter 120 The Golden Hall
Chapter 121 Troublesome Treasures
Chapter 122 The Power Of Lies
Chapter 123 Truth Be Told
Chapter 124 Picking Treasures
Chapter 125 Windfall
Chapter 126 Rapid Training
Chapter 127 Leaving Goldhaven
Chapter 128 Injuries
Chapter 129 Smooth Travels
Chapter 130 A Familiar Face
Chapter 131 Stoneheart'S Misfortune
Chapter 132 Preparing For Battle
Chapter 133 Bloodlus
Chapter 134 Control
Chapter 135 Trus
Chapter 136 Forced March
Chapter 137 Contac
Chapter 138 Danger Illustrated
Chapter 139 Titan
Chapter 140 The Dragon
Chapter 141 The Tempering
Chapter 142 Destruction Realm
Chapter 143 The Tempering, Take Two
Chapter 144 Tempered
Chapter 145 Weakness
Chapter 146 At The Castle
Chapter 147 The Dragon'S Proposal
Chapter 148 A Decision
Chapter 149 The Eve Of Battle
Chapter 150 Bai
Chapter 151 Fighting An Army
Chapter 152 Novices
Chapter 153 Hunting The Survivors
Chapter 154 Riverbend
Chapter 155 The Next Mission
Chapter 156 Leaving The Castle
Chapter 157 Hiding The Evidence
Chapter 158 Eidaran Ruins
Chapter 159 Parting Ways
Chapter 160 Into The Ruins
Chapter 161 A Long Wai
Chapter 162 Enemies
Chapter 163 Fear
Chapter 164 Spirit Crystals
Chapter 165 About Dragons
Chapter 166 Journey To The Dragon Lands
Chapter 167 Chasing Dragons
Chapter 168 Dumber Than Rocks
Chapter 169 Unexpected News
Chapter 170 The Dragon'S Lair
Chapter 171 The Enemy Appears
Chapter 172 Plan Of Attack
Chapter 173 The Eve Of Battle
Chapter 174 To Fight A Dragon 1
Chapter 175 To Fight A Dragon 2
Chapter 176 To Fight A Dragon 3
Chapter 177 To Fight A Dragon 4
Chapter 178 The Best Way To Kill A Dragon...
Chapter 179 Dragon'S Blood
Chapter 180 Blood Crisis
Chapter 181 Blood Battle
Chapter 182 Leaving The Blood Pool
Chapter 183 Escape Plan
Chapter 184 Dragon'S Fligh
Chapter 185 Dragon'S Ruin
Chapter 186 The Way Back
Chapter 187 Unexpected Allies
Chapter 188 Iron Mountain Adepts
Chapter 189 A New Plan
Chapter 190 The Road To Uvar
Chapter 191 Setting The Trap
Chapter 192 Facing A Master
Chapter 193 Hunter
Chapter 194 The Way Back
Chapter 195 The Edge Of Victory
Chapter 196 A Final Deception
Chapter 197 The Iron Mountain Camp
Chapter 198 Toward The Valley
Chapter 199 The Valley'S Gate
Chapter 200 The Patriarch'S Palace
Chapter 201 Barrier
Chapter 202 The Patriarch
Chapter 203 The Patriarch'S Summons
Chapter 204 A New Path
Chapter 205 A Long Journey
Chapter 206 Into The Valley
Chapter 207 Alder'S Farm
Chapter 208 An Invitation
Chapter 209 Houses Of The Ninth Valley
Chapter 210 A Change For The Worse
Chapter 211 Unreasonable Demands
Chapter 212 A Small Demonstration
Chapter 213 Show Of Power
Chapter 214 Bad Teacher
Chapter 215 The Thousand Cuts
Chapter 216 Training Days
Chapter 217 The Road Ahead
Chapter 218 Hidden Estate
Chapter 219 A New Approach
Chapter 220 Insigh
Chapter 221 Recovery
Chapter 222 Reunion
Chapter 223 Snowcloud'S Potions
Chapter 224 Snowcloud'S Departure
Chapter 225 Return To The House Of Swords
Chapter 226 To The House Of Flames
Chapter 227 A New Teacher
Chapter 228 Forms
Chapter 229 Form And Function
Chapter 230 Brightblade'S Vow
Chapter 231 The House Of Shadows
Chapter 232 A Step Into Shadow
Chapter 233 Shadow And Swords
Chapter 234 The House Of Seals
Chapter 235 A Small Bit Of Talen
Chapter 236 A New Teacher
Chapter 237 Reunion
Chapter 238 An Agreemen
Chapter 239 A Palace Of One'S Own
Chapter 240 Brightblade'S Background
Chapter 241 A Final Night Of Res
Chapter 242 The First Day Of Training
Chapter 243 Effor
Chapter 244 Destruction Essence
Chapter 245 A Brief Respite
Chapter 246 Shields
Chapter 247 Ambush
Chapter 248 After The Battle
Chapter 249 Questions Of Power
Chapter 250 Questionable Plans
Chapter 251 A Fruitless Search
Chapter 252 Facing The Elders
Chapter 253 Offending An Elder
Chapter 254 Brightblade'S Challenge
Chapter 255 The Dueling Grounds
Chapter 256 The Duel
Chapter 257 A Fight To The Death
Chapter 258 Aftermath
Chapter 259 The Matriarch'S Plans
Chapter 260 Treasures
Chapter 261 An Heir'S Estate
Chapter 262 Gifts
Chapter 263 Festivities
Chapter 264 Effor
Chapter 265 Brightblade'S Fortress
Chapter 266 A Small Wager
Chapter 267 Brightblade'S Orders
Chapter 268 Leaving The Valley
Chapter 269 Essence Remnants
Chapter 270 An Obstacle
Chapter 271 More Than Remnants
Chapter 272 Demons
Chapter 273 A Short Goodbye
Chapter 274 On The Road
Chapter 275 Hunter
Chapter 276 Amydon
Chapter 277 The Fall Of Amydon
Chapter 278 A Quiet Place
Chapter 279 A New Foundation
Chapter 280 The Final Stretch
Chapter 281 A Break
Chapter 282 The Caves Of Amydon
Chapter 283 The Hidden City
Chapter 284 Karanos
Chapter 285 The Mines
Chapter 286 Trash And Treasure
Chapter 287 A Step Into Shadow
Chapter 288 Darkness
Chapter 289 The Shadow Realm
Chapter 290 Amid The Ruins
Chapter 291 Shards Of Living Shadow
Chapter 292 A Fitting Weapon
Chapter 293 A Small Bribe
Chapter 294 To Leave A Dying World
Chapter 295 Homecoming
Chapter 296 Hidden Treasure
Chapter 297 Waiting For A Sign
Chapter 298 Departure
Chapter 299 Into The Ligh
Chapter 300 Redhill
Chapter 301 Pursui
Chapter 302 Training Ground
Chapter 303 Hunters
Chapter 304 Recruits
Chapter 305 Pills
Chapter 306 Thieves And Robbers
Chapter 307 Facing A Hunter
Chapter 308 Into The Battlefield
Chapter 309 Suffering
Chapter 310 A Knight Of The Imperium
Chapter 311 A Choice
Chapter 312 Searching The Battlefield
Chapter 313 The Fores
Chapter 314 Studying The Forms
Chapter 315 Preparation
Chapter 316 The Road To Esran
Chapter 317 The City Of Esran
Chapter 318 A Steward'S Aid
Chapter 319 Leaving The Borderlands
Chapter 320 The Border
Chapter 321 Into The Imperium
Chapter 322 Advice
Chapter 323 The Fate Of Refugees
Chapter 324 A City Of Tents
Chapter 325 The Wolfsblood Company
Chapter 326 Arrival
Chapter 327 A New Deal
Chapter 328 Imperial Politics
Chapter 329 Battle Approaches
Chapter 330 A Taste Of Battle
Chapter 331 The Spoils Of Battle
Chapter 332 Lord Kadun
Chapter 333 To The Mines
Chapter 334 What Lurks Below
Chapter 335 Into Darkness
Chapter 336 Diggers
Chapter 337 Battle
Chapter 338 Three Monsters
Chapter 339 The Blood Ruin
Chapter 340 A Warm Welcome
Chapter 341 Studying Strategy
Chapter 342 Weapons And Training
Chapter 343 A New Tool
Chapter 344 Unwelcome Company
Chapter 345 Provocation
Chapter 346 Down Below
Chapter 347 A Small Disturbance
Chapter 348 A Lord'S Mercy
Chapter 349 Prison
Chapter 350 Prison Break
Chapter 351 Breaching The Defenses
Chapter 352 Defending The Gate
Chapter 353 A Knight'S Power
Chapter 354 Lord Rannoc
Chapter 355 Outrage
Chapter 356 The Strength Of Lords
Chapter 357 An Offer
Chapter 358 Revelations
Chapter 359 The Desolation
Chapter 360 Rannoc'S Orders
Chapter 361 Citizenship
Chapter 362 Sleepless Nights
Chapter 363 A Foundation
Chapter 364 The Road Back
Chapter 365 A Deb
Chapter 366 Settling Debts
Chapter 367 Broken Company
Chapter 368 An Exchange
Chapter 369 Preparations
Chapter 370 Breakthrough
Chapter 371 Delivery
Chapter 372 A New Journey
Chapter 373 An Unwelcome Invitation
Chapter 374 Challenge
Chapter 375 A Duel
Chapter 376 Facing A Knight, Again
Chapter 377 Words Of Warning
Chapter 378 What Lurks In The Bligh
Chapter 379 A Quiet Departure
Chapter 380 The Road To Sacrifice
Chapter 381 A Storm Of Blood
Chapter 382 Behind The Walls
Chapter 383 A Sea Of Shadow
Chapter 384 Reaver'S End
Chapter 385 Newcomers
Chapter 386 A New Plan
Chapter 387 An Old Friend
Chapter 388 An Imperial Knigh
Chapter 389 The Knight'S Apprentice
Chapter 390 Knight'S Watch
Chapter 391 Comprehension
Chapter 392 Master Of Shadow
Chapter 393 Finding Enemies
Chapter 394 The Missing Piece
Chapter 395 Reunion
Chapter 396 Decisions
Chapter 397 The Wolfsblood Army
Chapter 398 Enlightenmen
Chapter 399 An Unwelcome Gues
Chapter 400 The Oath
Chapter 401 An Invitation
Chapter 402 The Dangers Ahead
Chapter 403 Into The Desolation
Chapter 404 Suppression
Chapter 405 Confrontation
Chapter 406 Arrival
Chapter 407 The Archon'S Summons
Chapter 408 The Master'S Bloodline
Chapter 409 Bloodlines
Chapter 410 The Ruiner'S Temple
Chapter 411 Assassin
Chapter 412 The Citadel
Chapter 413 Fruits Of A Poisonous Tree
Chapter 414 The Strength Of Bloodlines
Chapter 415 A Path Forward
Chapter 416 - A Simple Task
Chapter 417 - Breakthrough
Chapter 418 - Final Preparations
Chapter 419 - Into Harm'S Way (1)
Categories Genre: Action, All, Fantasy, Ongoing, Xianxia, Xuanhuan Status: Ongoing Tags Authors:


Total Chapters in book: 419
Estimated words: 787321 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 3937(@200wpm)___ 3149(@250wpm)___ 2624(@300wpm)

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Book Synopsis / Detail / Information:

When Arran decides to become a mage, he quickly discovers that magic can be more dangerous than he had ever imagined. Soon, he finds himself hunted for powers he never knew he had.

Helped by a mysterious mage with secret motives, he sets off on a journey to escape his enemies. But where will he run? And can he trust his helper?

Pursued by mages and monsters alike, he knows there is only one true road to safety: to become stronger than his enemies!

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************

Chapter 1 The Academy

Chapter 1 The Academy

Arran awoke before dawn, his body stiff from sleeping on the cold grass. There had been an inn a few miles back, but three months of travel had drained most of the coin he had inherited from his father. Now, spending several coppers for a warm bed seemed like a luxury he could ill afford.

Yet despite his sore body, this morning found Arran filled with excitement. Today, after three months, he would finally arrive in Fulai City. Today, he would finally have a chance to join the Academy and become a mage.

When the first light of dawn appeared Arran broke camp in a hurry, eating a tough hunk of stale bread as he packed his bag. After months of travel the time to eat breakfast properly would not make much of a difference, but with the end of his journey in sight, his patience had long since worn thin.

Heart filled with excitement, he set off.

By late morning the cottages and farms along the road grew more frequent, and Arran knew he must be nearing the city. Each new hill he climbed saw him looking forward with anticipation, yet each time he was disappointed to find yet more road meandering through grassy hills.

Several times he stopped to ask a passing farmer how much farther it was to the city, and each time, they told him that the city was just a stone's throw away. By now, he wondered just how talented the rock-throwers in this region were.

Near midday, Arran topped yet another low hill when suddenly, he saw it. Not even a mile away, numerous buildings stretched into the distance, smoke wafting from what must be hundreds if not thousands of chimneys.

He could not suppress a feeling of shock as he took in the sight.

Arran knew Fulai City was large, of course — it was the only place in the region called a "city" — but the sheer scale of it filled him with awe.

With this many buildings, there had to be thousands of people living here. His mind boggled at the thought. It was if some giant had picked up all the towns Arran had ever seen and gathered them all together.

Arran marveled at the sight, wondering what it would be like to live in such a grand place.

At that moment, a cheerful voice sounded, "First time here, I take it?"

Arran turned around with a start, finding a heavyset man in a bright blue robe behind him.

Before he could respond, the man continued, "You're an Easterner, I take it?"

He gestured at Arran's head. "It's the blond hair that gives it away. Don't see much of that around here. So what brings you to the city? If it's work you're looking for, I suppose I could—"

"I'm here for the Academy," Arran hurriedly interrupted him.

"The Academy?" The man frowned. "To become a mage?" His expression suggested that he did not approve of the idea.

Arran nodded. "Do you know where it is?"

The man chuckled, although the mention of the Academy had taken some of the cheer from his voice. "It's the big white building near the center of the city. You couldn't miss it if you tried."

With that, he departed, leaving Arran behind.

Arran spent a few more moments taking in the sight of Fulai City before leaving as well. Grand though the sight of the city might be, his real destination still lay ahead of him.

Soon after, he entered the city, where he immediately was astounded at the crowds making their way through the narrow cobblestone streets. In just a few minutes he passed more people than he had encountered during the entire previous three months.

The streets were lined with small stores and food stalls, and Arran was assaulted by a barrage of smells as he jostled his way through the crowds — foods both new and familiar, all manner of spices, unwashed people, and things he did not dare think too deeply about.

Several times he found himself accosted by beggars and hawkers whose persistence only wavered when they noticed the sword at his side, and he soon found himself tightly grasping his coin purse, afraid that with a moment's distraction it might vanish.

After some time the narrow streets of the city's outskirts began to grow wider, eventually making way for broad avenues. Arran understood he must be getting close to the city center. Here, the crowds were thinner and better dressed, while the beggars he had encountered earlier were conspicuously absent.

It did not take long before Arran saw what he assumed was the Academy in the distance, a grand white building that loomed over the rest of the city, topped with two towers that stretched toward the sky as if challenging the gods.

Drawn by the sight, he quickened his pace. It wasn't long before he reached a large square, at the far end of which the Academy stood. At last, he had arrived.

Arran was awestruck by the sight of the Academy. It rose at least eighty feet above the city without so much as a single seam appearing anywhere on its walls, as if the entire building had been hewn from a single, massive block of white marble.

A grand staircase led up to the entrance, made from the same white marble as the Academy itself. On either side of the staircase stood half a dozen armed guards, wearing pristine white uniforms and carrying swords at their sides. Their serious expressions indicated that they were not just there for decoration.

When Arran approached the staircase, one of the white-clad guards immediately stepped forward, a tall woman with a sharp face and shoulders almost as broad as Arran's.

"What's your business here?" she asked him in a cold tone.

"I'm here to join the Academy," Arran answered.

Her expression softened, though only slightly. "You'll want the Testing Hall then," she said, pointing at a white brick building to the left of the square.

Arran nodded in thanks and turned toward the Testing Hall.

Seeing the Testing Hall, he found himself a bit disappointed. It was an impressive building by any standard — made of white brick and standing a good forty feet tall, it was certainly more remarkable than anything in Arran's hometown — but it could not compare to the Academy itself.

He walked over to the entrance of the Testing Hall, where a single man stood guard. While his uniform matched those of the guards outside the Academy's main building, both his stance and his expression were noticeably more relaxed.

As Arran approached him, the guard asked with a smile, "Here to get tested?" Arran nodded, and the guard continued, "Just go right in."

Inside, Arran found a spacious hall, filled with rows of wooden benches that could easily have accommodated over a hundred people. Right now, however, just a few dozen people sat scattered across the hall. All but a few of them bore nervous expressions, and Arran guessed that they were there for the same reason he was.

At the back of the hall stood a massive wooden desk, with a middle-aged woman sitting behind it. After a moment's hesitation, Arran approached her.

The woman looked up at him. "Name?" she asked him curtly.

"Arran," he answered.

"Family name?" she asked, a hint of impatience in her voice.

Arran shook his head. "I don't have one," he said slightly embarrassed. In his hometown, only a few of the wealthier families had surnames. The common folk were simply named for their jobs or their fathers.

"Easterners." She shook her head in disdain. "What town are you from?"

"Riverbend," he replied.

"Arran of Riverbend, then." She carefully wrote down his name. "Very well. Have a seat. Someone will be with you soon."

After Arran sat down on one of the wooden benches, he looked around at the others in the hall. Most of them were around Arran's age, around twenty years old, although a few of them looked like they were in their early teens, and several seemed to be in their thirties or even forties.

He could not help but feel out of place. While most of the others wore fine robes, he was in his traveling clothes, still dirty with the dust of travel. He spent a moment wishing he had found an inn with a good bath before heading to the Academy, but it was too late for that now.

After a time, a young woman in a plain white robe walked up to him. She was short, with long black hair framing a pretty face. "Are you Arran?" she asked in a friendly voice.

"I am," he answered.

"Follow me," she said with a smile. She turned around and walked off into a corridor, with Arran hurrying behind her.

Several moments later she stopped at one of the many doors in the corridor and gave it a single knock. Immediately, a voice sounded from inside. "Enter!" The young woman stepped through the doorway, motioning for Arran to follow her.

Inside was a small office, its walls covered in bookcases. At the center of the office stood a wooden desk, atop which sat several piles of paper as well as a small metal box. Behind the desk was a middle-aged man with slightly disheveled hair and a tired expression on his face.

The young woman bowed respectfully to the man at the desk. "Adept Song, this is Arran of Riverbend. He's here to be tested." With that, she stepped out of the office, closing the door behind her.

Arran stood somewhat uncomfortably in the middle of the office as the man silently looked him over, unsure whether he was expected to say something.

"You certainly came well-prepared," Adept Song finally spoke with a meaningful look toward the sword at Arran's side. "Although I think you may have misjudged the kind of danger you'll be facing today."

Arran felt his face flush. "It's not… I mean, I just arrived in the city," he blurted out.

"Have a seat," Adept Song said, smiling at the young man's embarrassment. As Arran sat down he continued in a more serious tone, "Before we start, there are two things you should know."

He took a deep breath as Arran waited.

"The first thing is that you will almost certainly fail." The man spoke in a flat voice, as if he had given this speech a thousand times before — which, Arran suddenly realized, he probably had. "Out of every hundred people, perhaps one is born with the talent for magic. Unless you used some other means to gain access to magical abilities, you likely lack the talent."

He gave Arran a questioning look.

Arran shook his head. Until a moment ago, he had not even known that learning magic required a special talent. If there were other ways to acquire magical abilities, he certainly did not know them.

The Adept gave Arran a somber glance. "Then you must understand that you will probably fail."

He took another deep breath and continued, "The second thing is that even if you have some talent for magic, that does not mean you will be able to become a mage. Passing the test merely gets you accepted to the Academy, but nine out of every ten students at the Academy fail to master even the most basic magical abilities."

Hearing this, Arran felt somewhat despondent. Only now did he understand that he had just a slight chance of even joining the Academy, much less becoming a mage.

"If you still wish to continue, pay me the application fee, and we will get started." Adept Song looked at Arran expectantly.

"Application fee?" Arran asked in surprise.

"To be tested, you need to pay a single gold crown or twenty silver marks," the man explained.

Arran only barely suppressed a gasp, and for a moment he considered leaving right then. To him, twenty silver marks was a small fortune. Paying that much would leave him almost penniless. Worse, if he failed the test, he would be left stranded in Fulai City, lacking even the coin he needed to return to Riverbend.

He thought for a moment, then decided against leaving. Even if he left now, most of his coin would be wasted on the journey. Besides, he could not bear the thought of returning to Riverbend after having failed — if nothing else, the mockery would be relentless.

Wordlessly, Arran took out his coin purse and counted out twenty silver coins. Only a single silver mark remained, along with a handful of coppers. Like that, the money his father had left him was all but gone. He sighed regretfully.

Adept Song gathered up the small pile of coins and placed them in the small metal box on his desk. Then, he produced a small silk bag, from which he took a disc made of smooth, milk-white stone, which he handed to Arran.

"Let's get started," he said. "The disc I gave you is a magical item that can reveal your talent. Place your hands on either side of it, then focus your attention on the center."

Arran followed the man's instructions. Carefully grasping the disc with both hands, he intently stared at it, trying his best to concentrate on the center of the disc.

Nothing happened, and after a few moments, Arran looked up at the man. "Is there something specific I should do?" he asked, somewhat bewildered.

"All you need to do is focus your attention," the man replied. "Give it a little time. If you have the talent, you will see a result soon enough."

Arran once again focused his attention on the disc, concentrating even harder than he had before, trying to will it to do… something. Anything. Yet the disc remained unchanged, and he was beginning to lose hope.

"It seems you lack—" Adept Song had already begun to speak when suddenly, Arran felt something change. It was as if his consciousness had made a connection to the disc, and he vaguely sensed what seemed like a void within it.

"Something's happening!" he exclaimed, his voice trembling with excitement.

As he focused his concentration, Arran sensed his connection to the disc grow stronger, and he felt a pulling sensation, as if the disc was drawing something from his mind.

Gradually, a small black dot appeared at the very center of the disc.

With all the effort he could muster Arran willed the dot to grow, and to his amazement, it seemed to respond, slowly but steadily turning darker and larger.

While the dot grew, a painful pressure rose in Arran's head, but he did not let up. This was his chance to become a mage, and he would endure whatever it took to succeed.

Clenching his teeth, he poured every bit of his will into the disc, and the black dot continued to expand, though at a slower pace than before. By now, it was the size of Arran's thumb, and the pressure Arran felt was increasing rapidly, making his head throb in agony.

Finally, the pressure became too much for him to endure.

With a groan, he forced what little will he had left into the disc, causing hairlines of black to spread out from the black dot. Small cracks appeared along the lines, and abruptly, Arran's connection to the disc was severed.

Arran let out a deep breath, his heart thumping in his chest from the exertion. His body was exhausted, as if he had just run several miles at full sprint, but a big smile appeared on his face.

He had succeeded.

"I did it, right? It changed… that means I passed the test?" Arran was filled with anticipation as he eagerly looked up at Adept Song.

It was only then that he saw that the man's face had turned as pale as the disc had been earlier, his eyes wide and filled with shock.

Despite his exhaustion, Arran immediately understood that something was off.

"Did I do something wrong?" he asked in a worried voice. "I didn't mean to damage the disc," he added apologetically.

Adept Song hesitated, then replied, "Not at all." With a forced smile, he added, "Your result is a little unusual, that's all."

The Adept stood up and picked the cracked disc off the table. "I have to talk to my master. Stay here. I will be back soon." With that he walked out of the door, closing it behind him. Arran could hear the man's footsteps echoing in the corridor as he hurried off.

Arran took a slow breath, his mind racing. A moment ago all he had cared about was passing the test, but now, he realized that something was very wrong.

A sense of grave danger arose within Arran as he sat in the office, frantically trying to decide what to do next.


Total Chapters in book: 419
Estimated words: 787321 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 3937(@200wpm)___ 3149(@250wpm)___ 2624(@300wpm)