I shoot upright. “Suri, why isn’t boost physical listed? Did I not succeed in learning it?”
[It won’t be added until I can confirm you can use it.]
“Ah... I see.” Thank goodness.
I get off the bed.
“So I just... do it?”
I frown, clenching my fists. I clearly remember the feeling of understanding how this works, but...
[Remember: you are one. Your meridians, your Lavi; they are you.]
“Right... and that means?”
[That you can will it to do what you want. Start by establishing a connection.]
All right, one connection to my ‘meridians,’ coming right up. Would you like some onions with that? No Emma, focus. The hotdogs are no more.
I close my eyes and turn my mind inwards.
I’m starting to recall things I’ve learned in the dreamscape and imagine the focus of my consciousness moving into my body.
The crystal in my right eyesocket hums into life, allowing me a blurry kind of almost-vision into my chest. Green flecks are gently flowing through my meridians.
Huh. Why do I have this expectation that they should frolic?
I shake it off and get to work.
The flow needs to be accelerated and reversed... over here, so that it will collide upon itself inside my heart. I try to will the flow to accelerate. Some of the flecks speed up a little only to falter again.
[You need to believe it Emma, it WILL happen as you want it to. You will make it happen.]
I grit my teeth and try again. A small wave of Lavi billows up and dies out again.
“Time?” I pant.
[15 hours, 47 minutes and 17 seconds left.]
“Maybe I should take a break, Suri, I’ve been at this for three hours...”
[You’re almost there, Emma! If you give up now you’ll lose the feeling. Doing it for the first time is important; obtaining a skill means more than just recognition.]
“Really? What does having it do then?”
[That’s classified. Just trust me on this.]
“All right then...” I’ll have to remember that question.
I close my eyes again and view the meridians around my, for now, beating heart. I will the Lavi flowing towards it to accelerate.
As the snake of Lavi rushes through my heart, I attempt to yank its head into the other direction. The flow halts there, Lavi builds up until I can no longer hold it back and it disperses.
[You have the movement down, you have the timing down, but you’re still being too gentle, Emma,] Suri chides me. [This is not a gentle skill, it’s a skill born of desperation, of putting your very life at risk to beat the odds.]
“Well, that’s a little hard to do while sitting safely on a bed, Suri,” I complain.
[Is it? Because it looks to me like you are going to die, Emma.]
[You heard me. You will only have 24 hours to clear the trial, and don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s short. If you can’t succeed in using this skill until the start of the trial, you are pretty much done for. Do you think you can use a difficult, practically suicidal skill like this, while challenging a deadly obstacle course, without any practice?]
Shit. I have to be able to do this without closing my eyes and looking inside... hell, I may have to do it while hanging upside down over a pit of scorpions for all I know!
[Well, do you think you’ll manage that?]
I grit my teeth. “No.”
[Then do me a favour and do it like you mean it.]
I breathe in deeply, filling up on a little extra Lavi. I’m going to need it. I hope.
Once again, I accelerate a flow of Lavi and sent it barrelling towards my heart. This is the fastest it’s ever flowed. Will that make this easier or harder?
No, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to succeed, because I have to.
The moment the flow is about to leave my heart, I yank it back. Hard.
Just like in the dreamscape, the flow reverses and flecks of Lavi collide, bursting into a spectacular firework inside my heart.
And it hurts like a bitch.
“Aagh what the hell!” I yell, clutching at my chest.
“Suri...” I start, before trailing off due of the pop-up notification.
“Wait, not that I mean to complain, but, did I really do it right? I mean, it didn’t hurt before...”
[Don’t worry Emma; your execution was textbook. It didn’t hurt before because that was a Dreamscape. This is a skill that explodes part of your Lavi inside of your heart; of course it hurts.]
You tricked me! I want my money back!
Is what I want to say, but can’t, because this is the only way for me to survive...
[From what I’ve seen so far, you rather enjoy inflicting pain upon yourself; hence why I figured this skill would be perfect for a crazy, masochistic human like yourself.]
Suri, you’re joking right? You don’t actually think I’m a masochist, right? If you are joking, try not to sound so serious please!
[Anyway, you’ll thank me later. Though you still have a lot of practicing to do before the trial starts, if you truly wish to survive.]
“I guess I’ll take a little break first.” To cry.
[Very well, you’ve earned it. Ten minutes. And eat something, you’ll need your strength.]
Suri, you heartless slave driver!
[600 seconds left.]
I let out a long breath. Looks like my training is finally done. I can’t say I’m a fan of this skill; it hasn’t gotten any less painful, and the boost turns out to have a really short duration—only like 6 seconds! But at least it works. I can do this.
“Open status window.”
Looks like the purifying of the toxic energy in my body has slowed down further... Is my body reluctant to let it go, like a heroin addict clinging to the last of his stash? I shiver at the thought.
“Suri, could I take a look at those shopping windows before I start the trial?”
[You could, but they’d be empty.]
[You can only see items you can afford, remember?]
Damnit, I only have 2 points left!
“Next preparation room then I guess...”
I’ve already finished my preparations, including my warm-up and stretches, so if I can’t take a look, then there’s no sense in stalling any further.
Time to see if my training was enough.
I tighten the straps of my backpack and take place in front of the door. “Begin trial.”
The door rumbles open.
'The life of a masochist is suffering.' -H.C. Mills