He had spent his youth training in the art of magic and developing his mana core until he had struck the ceiling that stopped most Awakened, the bright blue mana core.
Being just fifty years old when it happened, he hadn't let it get in the way of his ambition. Quite the contrary. He had stopped practicing magical theory and had joined the enforcers of the Council, the Hand of Fate.
It served the purpose to put into practice all the things he had learned and to make the elders indebted to him. They all possessed a purple core since it was one of the two only requirements needed to be considered an elder, with the other requirement being a major breakthrough in any magical discipline.
Gaaron was certain that once he had acquired a purple core, things would have gone smoothly for him, like they always had in the past. As rewards for his achievements, he only asked for their advice about how to further develop his mana core, but to no avail.
No matter how many meditation techniques he learned or magical philosophies he practiced, nothing seemed to work.
So, after wasting another fifty years as a dog of the Council, he had started developing his political power both inside and outside the Awakened community. He had hoped that such power would give him access to the knowledge he needed.
Countless Awakened of all races throughout history had achieved a purple core and some humans would even naturally develop it. It was just the matter of finding the answer to his question, so he searched both the Royal Library and those of all Awakened whose status was below his own.
Or so he thought. Even now that he was 300 years old, he was still stuck at the blue core. He had gone from being considered a genius to being treated like any other average Awakened.
Building influence, especially in the human world, took time and effort, so all the energy he poured in politics was drained from what he was supposed to use in developing his magical abilities.
Gaaron was one of the richest and most influential Awakened, yet no one of the elders dignified him with a second look. Money could only bring an Awakened so far and most of them were hermits, so they didn't care about society.
In their eyes, he was just wasting his time with trivial matters, so there wasn't even one of them who considered Gaaron a worthy candidate to inherit their legacy. At the same time, however, young Awakened considered him a role model.
Most of them struggled to make a living and to survive their breakthroughs without submitting to a master. While the Council ignored them, Gaaron was always glad to help and train them, be it with his connections or knowledge.
Little did they know that he was just using them as guinea pigs for his theories about mana cores and that the only reason he founded them was to have access to their research.
His "generosity" had allowed Gaaron to build a small army of Awakened, probably the only one on Mogar, and to poach knowledge from dozens of brilliant young minds. Alas, none of them had produced significant innovations.
The mission Raagu had assigned to him was exactly what Gaaron had been waiting for. All the young Awakened that Lith had bested in battle were disciples of elders and legacy inheritors at that.
If one of Gaaron's apprentices succeeded where all the others had failed, it would prove the Council that his teachings based on modern magic were superior to those of the elders.
It would count as an important magical achievement and would force the Council to reconsider the rule about having a purple core to be an elder. Gaaron had listened to all the elders' stories and teachings, yet neither he nor their own disciples had reached a purple core.
Clearly, they had just been lucky. Obtaining what was considered to be the last frontier of magical power seemed to be more a matter of chance instead that of wisdom and practice like those old fossils kept ranting about.
Gaaron had read Lith's file thoroughly, studying him for days before taking action. Because of Lith's cloaking devices, Life Vision was pointless and Invigoration required physical contact.
He had been forced to agree with Athung's report: diplomacy wasn't an option. Asking help to the beasts would bring Gaaron a hollow victory, so he had opted for a direct approach.
"We're dealing with a rogue mage, so only the basic laws of the Council apply to him." Gaaron explained to his disciples. "You can do whatever you want. As long as you don't kill him, anything goes.
"Your mission is to evaluate his strength and the only way to do it is with Invigoration. You all read his file, so you know what to expect." The five young Awakened nodded, knowing how important the matter was for their mentor.
There wasn't just their gratitude on the plate, but their pride as well. They didn't understand why an elder was so interested in recruiting someone so young whereas no one had cared about them for years until they had stumbled into a fellow Awakened who had introduced them to the Council.
They were all grassroots self-Awakened like Lith. Some were even already past thirty years of age having Awakened late, and most of them had not attended an academy. Being Awakened and having magical talent were two different things, plus they had deemed useless to spend years learning fake magic.
"I'll take care of it, Gaaron." Cresia said. He was a man in his early twenties, about 1.78 meters (5'10") tall. He had brown eyes and hair, with shades of blue that identified him as someone talented in water magic even before his Awakening.
Cresia's family belonged to the army, so he was a skilled fighter who had started training early in his life. He had graduated from the Crystal Griffon and after Awakening, he had left his family to search for someone who would teach him about true magic.
He had refused to submit to the army's or the Association's rules just to discover that Awakened were even stricter about control. Cresia had never accepted to obey to a master, so his talent had stagnated until he had met Gaaron.
Their contact in the army had warned them that Lith had just stepped out of Derios' Warp Gate, so Cresia readied his air blocking array and waited for his prey. The moment Lith emerged from his dimensional corridor, the array activated, cutting off all of his main escape strategies.
'This isn't good.' Lith thought while checking his surroundings and ignoring the most obvious threat. 'This isn't where I predict they would attack, this place sucks for an ambush. Are they idiots or just arrogant?'
Cresia didn't waste time talking, he just wanted to get done with it and go home. Gaaron had promised him a powerful enchanted blade in exchange for his help. Cresia would use it to enhance his battle strength and knowledge.
As any real swordsman, he wanted to become a powerful Forgemaster, but with only the knowledge from the academy, he had long since hit a wall. Runes were a well-kept secret by both Awakened and humans.
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