20 Aura Manipulation

With a deep sigh, Zack stood back up, having sat down for a short while to let the throbbing pain in his knee subside.

While he was sitting on the ground, he concluded that the best course of action would be to practice the spinning jump kick before trying Whirlwind Kick.

Zack jumped and performed what he thought to be a decent spinning kick, but the pain he felt in his ankle when landing told him differently.

'Come on, I only have so much time left. I'm not about to fail the last objective. . .'

He continued practicing for a short time, until he was able to land without feeling pain. Zack wasn't confident in being able to do the Whirlwind Kick yet, and thus continued practicing for a bit longer.

'Alright, this should be enough.'

With a running start, he jumped and performed a spinning kick, releasing Ardor through the meridians in his ankles. Keeping his balance was difficult, but he managed not to careen into the ground immediately this time.

However, he still failed to land properly, and landed on his behind. He repeated this a few times before getting fed up and cussing angrily.

"How the fuck do I land?!"

Zack considered his options before face palming aggressively, causing ten points of damage to himself. He then repeated the Whirlwind Kick, and then employed the Movement Cancel ability, landing with grace that even Diz might have admired.

Zack repeated it once more, before feeling extremely tired all of a sudden. He focused on the Ardor within himself, and saw that the energy within him appeared far dimmer than before.

He continued focusing on it until he was sure he could do the Whirlwind Kick a few more times, the luminosity of the Ardor Flow his only tell at the moment.

Increasing the amount of Ardor being ejected from his ankles, he soon found the optimal amount that created the shockwaves described within the scroll.

"Fifth Martial Art Learned. You have now completed the tutorial quest, The Basics. You must collect the rewards through the menu."

Before collecting the rewards, Zack went into his living quarters and jumped onto the bed, face first into the pillow placed there. He activated the menu after closing his eyes, and quickly reaped the rewards.

[You have received 500 experience points for completing The Basics.]

[You have received the Cultivator title for completing the Rise to Fame objective.]

[You have received the Postulant Tier Appraisal Ability for completing the Contribution Point Collection Objective.]

[You have unlocked the AP bar functionality of the Heads Up Display for completing the Introduction to Magic Objective.]

[You have unlocked the character sheet and ability tabs in the main menu.]

[You have received 10 attribute points for completing all objectives for The Basics.]

[You have additional rewards available, do you wish to accept them?]

[Yes.]

[You have received 1,900 experience points for slaying two Mature Attono Wolves.]

The same intense feeling Zack had felt before overcame him as he shot up to level three. Eager to see his second character sheet, he returned to the main menu and selected it.

[HypeBeast27] (Martial Artist)

[Level: 3] (100 / 1689 EXP)

[Ardor Attribute: Wind]

[Title: None] ( ! )

[Available Attribute Points: 16]

[HP: 9 ] (450/450)+

[STR: 7]+

[DEF: 2]+

[SPD: 5]+

[CON: 1]+

[AP: 5]+

[WIS: 8]+

[NPC Impression: HypeBeast27 will appear to be a nonchalant individual, and is known for slaying two mature Attono Wolves during the first day of rest. His name is more well-known than his face, giving those who have not met him a sense of intrigue and mystery when thinking about him.]

He was surprised to find that he had more health as a level three character than as a level four character, but he quickly attributed it to his class. Much like last time, he ignored the attribute points, deciding to save them for now.

'I wonder what the Cultivator title entails. . .' He then checked on the exclamation point to see the titles list, and looked at the description of it.

[Titles]

[Cultivator](Postulant Tier)

[Doubles AP regen rate. You are automatically granted a good standing with those that are a lower tier than you. Scan abilities used on you are negated if the person using them is a lower level than you.]

[Select.]

[You have equipped the Cultivator title.]

Opening his eyes, Zack decided to read the other scrolls he had gotten, leaving the rest of Wistful Whirlwind for another time. Without getting up from the bed, he took out the Aura Manipulation Scroll and unrolled it.

[Aura Manipulation is the basis for many different incantations, including things from Enhancement and Illusory Magic to Complex Magic and onward. Every single being emits an aura, however, a person's aura can vary from being visible to the naked eye to completely invisible, though auras are always visible to those who are gifted by the will of Magna.]

'I wonder if sorcerer classes are gifted, would explain why everyone is allowed to use magic. But just how gifted are they to warrant the widespread access of magic?'

Much like Zack, almost everyone who was interested in Conquest Carnival worried when they heard that everyone would be able to use magic outside of the sorcery classes. Balancing and the utility of certain classes were put into question, but the developers wouldn't address the complaints seriously.

Many cancelled their pre-orders because of this and began crowd funding an alternative to Conquest Carnival, but there wasn't enough support to warrant their efforts coming to fruition. Zack chuckled thinking about that, but quickly put his focus back onto the scroll.

[Within this scroll, I have outlined several key techniques that I believe every cultivator should have access to. The powers that be have advised against this, but since I have one foot in the grave anyway, I figured I'd piss them off one last time.]

Zack raised an eyebrow at this, lore in an introductory scroll like this? Someone had too much free time on their hands during development. . .

[The first skill I'd like to outline is the suppression technique. While you cannot conceal yourself against those that are stronger than you, this is a useful technique in disrupting your peer's ability to gauge your abilities. Though, those blessed by Magna seem to be unperturbed by this ability, regardless of their capabilities.]

[Anyway, to suppress your cultivation prowess, slow down the Ardor flow within your meridians. The untrained eye will see you for a weak individual, but someone stronger will notice the amount of mental energy being used to slow down its flow.]

The mention of mental energy confused him as he read it, as Zack had only willed the Ardor to his command as far as he could tell, and was quick to investigate whether or not mental energy was a part of the world's lore or a crucial part of controlling Ardor.

Zack focused on his body and a small portion of Ardor around him, and watched as a miniscule ripple occurred around his mind. A second afterward, a gentle breeze hit his face. The mental energy felt so natural to him that it was as if it wasn't there at all.

Now that he had noticed it though, he realized the strangeness of the phenomenon. The developers had managed to create a sensation far removed from the boundaries of reality, and furthermore managed to make it feel. . . natural.

Focusing on the area around him, Zack could now make out his mental energy from the Ardor. The two overlapped, and where the mental energy ended, so too did his perception of the Ardor around the area.

He was engrossed in analyzing the phenomenon until a notification rang out in his mind. Zack closed his eyes, and was greeted by a familiar message.

[For being logged onto the server for an hour on release day, you have received a gift as thanks for your support and interest in Conquest Carnival. This gift will remain in your inventory for one week before disappearing, so make sure to open it as soon as possible!]

Once again, he ignored the message. He was immersing himself almost entirely within the feeling of manipulating his mental energy, before putting his attention back on the Aura Manipulation Scroll.

Zack did as the scroll had instructed, and slowed down his Ardor flow. As he did so, its luminosity decreased. Accompanying this change was the AP Bar's length becoming shorter, the maximum capacity displayed decreasing quickly.

A transparent silhouette was left behind to indicate the true size of the bar, and Zack found it easier to control that level of Ardor. He wasn't focusing as much on lowering it now, but more so putting a little effort into maintaining the amount of mental energy already controlling the flow.

He then continued reading, the pressure on his mind negligible as he suppressed his Ardor Flow.

[Normally, you must wait for your Ardor Flow to return to normal, much like when you are in the Exhaust State. However, since you are only suppressing the Ardor Flow, you can return to your peak by reversing the slow down process. Be wary of how much you suppress your Ardor Flow, as only those with a significant amount of mental energy reserves can handle forcefully returning to their peaks.]

With a raised eyebrow, he decided to see where he stood amongst the average NPC. Zack willed the mental energy flowing throughout his Meridians to speed up the flow, and found that it indeed put a substantial amount of pressure on his mind.

'This is pretty difficult, but it's not as bad as the beam technique I made. I guess my standing must be pretty extraordinary amongst these NPC disciples.'

Zack even repeated the process a few times without issue, earning him a new ability.

"You have learned the Active Ability: Ardor Suppression!"

He then continued reading through the scroll. . .

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