Edward let himself feel the domain that surrounded him.
His eyes were shut tight, but his mind was open—expanding far beyond his body, spreading to things around him.
To things seen and unseen.
Edward found something as soon as he chose this path… he found sight!
'I-I can see!'
A third eye had formed! Not a visible one, of course—no, not at all. It was the eye of the mind. Edward, despite shutting off his vision, found himself able to see everything. It was just as before—no, even far better!
This was his mind's eye, and with it…
"I see them well."
… He could finally see the Mind Blades. 𝙡𝙞𝓫𝒓𝙚𝒂𝓭.𝓬𝒐𝓶
They were as real to him as anything. They littered the sky in their hundreds—each having enough power to grievously injure him. With their multitudes, and in his exhausted state, Edward found himself incapable of avoiding them all.
He lacked enough power to defend himself as well. The situation seemed helplessly impossible, even for him.
But, what was this peace that enveloped him? Now that he had let go of his blade, what was this tranquillity that stirred his soul? Could he explain it? It felt like a pebble had fallen into a pool of water, creating a beautiful ripple that surged through him.
Suddenly, his mind became much clearer and his vision sharper. At that moment, and in that instant, he had an epiphany. At that point…
… Edward Karl Leon knew exactly what to do.
Like sharp drops of rain, the blades descended upon Edward. Like a storm, they assailed him from every direction.
Their sharp edges gleamed with danger, and just a moment was enough to rid Edward of life. But, rather than fret at this knowledge, Edward revealed a smile.
After all, he now understood.
"That energy…" He exhaled, forming his will and manifesting them as reality.
Edward opened his eyes, causing them to glow with blue energy. His body was covered with the same aura, and everything around him was influenced in the same manner— everything, including the many blades that were just about to make contact.
"... Is mine."
The Mind Blades were all suspended in the air—now shrouded in Edward's blue energy—his Aether. They were no longer for any other person to control. These hundreds of invisible, absolute blades now belonged to their progenitor.
"Well done. You have obtained enlightenment." The Martial Blade God smiled and nodded.
Edward's gaze met his, and both found themselves bowing to the other.
"You can now access it, can't you? You can also see it all around you… the very nature of this world—the building blocks of existence."
Both men now spoke at the same time, as they had knowledge that was hidden to most people. They called this the source of everything that existed…
Edward nodded in understanding, and the Martial Blade God did the same in pride.
"You are the first of my descendants to have gained access to Aether this early in life. I suspect it has something to do with our interaction, as well as that Arcana of yours, but… it is an impressive feat nonetheless."
"Thank you. It's a shame you'll be killing me now." Edward smiled.
"Don't act so smug. You know I won't be doing that. Besides, now that you can see with your mind's eye, have you not noticed already… that your friends are not dead?"
Edward's eyes widened instantly!
Perhaps it was because he was still a novice, but Edward hadn't noticed anything of the sort until the Martial Blade God spoke about it. However, now that he was well aware, he could finally see his friends.
Ciara and Lemi.
They weren't yet dead.
They were right beside him! They stood right beside him, just like the Mind Blade had been above him before.
"I simply made them one with nature. One of your allies, the Beast folk—Asa—possesses an inherent talent that can do the very same thing. Usually, those in the natural plane cannot interact with those who have become one with it. However, with Enlightenment, you can see them with your Mind's Eye. And, with transfiguration, you can touch them."
Edward had simply begun his journey as a newly enlightened Martial Artist. He knew this was simply the beginning. However, if there was something he feared, it would be—
"Do not worry. Once your mind's eye is opened, it can never be closed. Enlightenment cannot be returned. Even after this battle is over, and even after your Arcana's effects run out… you will remain on this level. You have now advanced to the Transcendent Realm, Edward."
Indeed. Even as he deactivated all of his buffs and returned to his original state due to exhaustion, Edward realized that he was still in the Transcendent State.
"The distance between the lower level and the middle level of transcendence far exceeds the distance between the Basic level and your current status. It is nearly unfathomable. And the higher you go, the more you will realize this."
Still, Edward did not understand one thing.
"Why are you telling me all this? Why are you helping me?"
The Martial Blade God simply smiled and warmly answered" Because it is necessary."
"M-may I ask one final thing? What level are you on in the spectrum of power?" Edward's heart throbbed with excitement for some reason.
It was almost as though he had become a little kid at this point—leaping with joy and excitement at the sight of something beautiful.
"You do not need to know. It is unnecessary for the path you have chosen… and the path that I am threading."
In response to his words, Edward nodded, instantly realizing his error—but also noticing something even more significant.
'The Martial Blade God… he respects my path!'
"It is time for our farewell. I cannot let you interfere with the scheme at work, so you and your friends will pass out as soon as I leave your presence. You will not wake up until it is necessary. And once you do, all three of you will find each other safe and sound."
Edward responded with a light nod. He was already more than grateful for the fact that his life, and that of his friends, had been spared.
"You three hold value. You will all grow. And that will indeed be worth seeing."
The Martial Blade God was correct. To be honest, if Edward had to be more grateful for anything else, it would be his encounter with this man.
"Thank you, Martial Blade God."
The auburn-haired man nodded and decided to take his leave.
As he turned his back on Edward, the boy felt relief course through him. They had fought for quite some time, after all. Even if they hadn't been able to subdue the Martial Blade God, his team did their best in stalling for time and holding him down.
'At least…' Edward fell to the ground—a smooth surfaced ground, which was different from the devastated landscape he had known just a moment before.
However, he was too far gone to consider just why and how such a thing could be.
'... We held him for as long as we could. Jared, everyone, please do your best!' Closing his eyes, Edward finally rested.
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