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8 Mysteries of the Soul

 Taku heard an explosion in his mind, then suddenly he was engulfed in a feeling of weightlessness. It was at this point that he noticed that his environment had changed. He was no longer in the valley with Saru.

He was now in a very dark area with barely any visibility. It was almost as if he was under water. Except Taku could tell that he was not, because he was not breathing, or rather he didn't need to!

Breathing was a reflex that was conditioned in human bodies, thus it came as a surprise when Taku realized that his body did not feel this need.

This...could this be my soul? It's so dark, so desolate, so cold...

Taku looked around, hoping to spot something to clear up his anxiety. Lo and behold, his answer came to him.

At first Taku noticed that his surroundings started getting warmer, then in the distance he saw two objects approaching him. When they finally became clear to him he couldn't believe what he was seeing. It was two shapeless entities that continuously clashed. Their shape changed every second but they were roughly the same mass.

One was red. It seemed to be made up entirely of flames. The flames were scorching hot, to the point that even though Taku believed he was miles away he was already feeling as if he was standing in a desert in the middle of the day.

The other mass was blue. It seemed to be made of what seemed to be lightning. The lightning was loud and intense. Its presence was overbearing, to the point that Taku could feel his skin tingle just by looking at it.

The two masses were clashing every second, hovering and moving at incredible speeds. Every time they clashed a miniature discharge would occur, resulting in a lot of smoke forming around the two masses. The strangest thing to Taku however, was after a while he realized that the smoke formed did not disappear. It did not dissipate, instead it actually followed the two masses it their clash, resulting it what looked like a long snake made out of smoke, twisting and turning, following the two masses wherever they went.

After a while the two masses stopped fighting, it was sudden, as if they both came to a consensus. Taku all of a sudden felt as if he was being watched. The sensation made him feel ill at ease.

The two masses made their way toward Taku. He wanted to escape them but he was stuck floating in the same spot, no matter how he moved his body. A sense of helplessness overwhelmed Taku, because the two masses seemed far from friendly. Before he knew it, they were only a few meters away from him.

Each mass was the size of sky-scrapper, and each was exuding a different vibe, one that started to overcome Taku the moment he focused.

The fiery mass gave Taku the urge to destroy, obliterate, and conquer. It made him extremely angry for no reason whatsoever.

The electric mass was similar. It also gave Taku the need to destroy, but unlike the fiery mass, the electric one gave Taku a feeling of majesty. If the red mass was a conqueror the blue one was a king, high and mighty. It made Taku feel confident and courageous.

The two destructive masses each went to one of Taku's sides. The red one to his left and the blue one to his right. Taku was unsure of what was happening, until the masses took action.

Arrgghh!

Taku felt as if there were two forces fighting for control over his body. The masses were both competing over Taku, attempting to pull him to their side. It was excruciating. Taku wished he could scream but no sound left his mouth. All he could do was wallow in agony.

At this point, the smoke which had been forming with the masses suddenly caught up. It surrounded Taku, and to his shock, stopped the tug of war that the masses were engaging in. Or rather, it felt as it made the two masses balance out, creating a sort of equilibrium. While Taku was still taking this in, a flash of light occurred nearly blinding him.

After a few moments the light subsided, allowing Taku to open his eyes. He was no longer in the dark place with the masses and the smoke. Instead he was now in what seemed to be a golden throne room. The room was like something out of a fairy tale.

It was gold everywhere, with carvings of giants in the walls. The walls were also lined with every type of jewel possible, from diamonds to pearls to necklaces.

In the middle of the room was a giant throne, depicting what seemed to be a war on the entire surface. The throne was simple and made of what seemed to be pure gold. It was crude in terms of shape but that did little to taint the sheer feeling of grandness emanating from it. Power, wealth, strength, invincibility, grandeur. These were just some of the words that came to mind when looking at the throne.

Taku realized that he could move in this room, thus he decided to look around. Each of the giants depicted on the walls were incredible. Oddly enough as much as Taku tried to focus he could not seem to picture the giants, instead they seemed to be fuzzy. After a while the endeavor started to give him a headache so he decided to stop. With a plop Taku decided to take a break and rest, but before he reached the ground as his surroundings changed once again. He was no longer in the throne room, instead he seemed to be on what seemed to be an ancient battlefield.

Skeletons, amours and weapons stretched as far as he could see. From time to time strange green lights flashed in the dark misty surroundings. A strong feeling of death and desolation welled up in Taku. He felt the urge to run away as fast as he could. But where could he run to?

"First stage of the unconquerable trial. Begin!"

A domineering voice entered Taku's ears. Before he could make out what these words meant, a silhouette flashed and a man appeared before him. The man was wearing nothing but he was the pinnacle of human physique. The power radiating from his body nearly made Taku feel overwhelmed. Then without warning, the man moved!

Taku was no stranger to danger, thus he quickly reacted. With a back step he dodged a kick from the man. Seemingly unperturbed the man continued with a flurry of kicks, mixing in some knee and elbow attacks here and there. Taku was afraid of this man, but he was even more afraid of death, thus he moved quickly. The fact that this was probably not reality completely escaped him.

Wait, this guy, he is using Taekwondo and Muay Thai!

It took a minute or two before Taku realized what was occurring. These were the two martial arts he practiced before coming to this continent, and he had quite the achievements in both, especially Taekwondo. Taku was long used to fusing the two as they were quite compatible, however it had been quite some time since he had seen someone else use them against him, thus it took him some time to realize.

Taku was unsure of the man's power hence he dared not take on his attacks, dodging each and every one with practiced ease. As time went on Taku noticed that the combinations and habits the man had were quite familiar, until it struck him.

Is this the test that Saru mentioned? Since my soul is related perhaps he is using attacks from my memories. If that is the case...

Taku was well aware of his own habits, therefore he intentionally created a gap in his guard. The man's eyes glowed with killing intent as he intended to finish the fight with a single punch. It was a right straight. Taku anticipated this, thus he quickly shifted his stance and jumped forward. To use a straight one has to step forward, and Taku wanted to use the momentum from that step to his advantage.

Crack!

Within moments Taku's hands were holding the back of the man's head while he was moving forward, then a knee to the face completely smashed the man's face in.

Taku flipped forward while the man's body fell limp into the ground. Taku was a child but he still had the body of an awakened Gutu warrior. That and his knowledge of his own habits let to a crushing victory. Taku had also gotten somewhat used to killing from the battle he had taken part in earlier.

At first it was a dream. A nightmare to be more exact, but unbeknownst to Taku, his subconscious was now slowly accepting it as reality.

The man's body dissipated into smoke and disappeared, much to Taku's relief. As he watched it disappear, Taku looked at his own hands, his mind lost deep in thought.

If that wasn't a dream, then just how many people did I kill? Hundreds, thousands? No this can't be right, I can't be this used to killing already.

Taku's memories drifted back to the plant Saru showed him earlier. Even though Saru said the plant induced feelings of slaughter in a person Taku was still very uncomfortable with who he had become, or rather what.

"First stage of the unconquerable trial complete. Stage two begin!"

Another man appeared in front of Taku, or rather to be more specific it was the same man, except he had a weapon. A large saber was in his hands. The saber was almost as long as Taku was tall and its blade reeked of blood.

This isn't good! The reach on that thing is massive. Dammit I should have picked armour or some a weapon of my own!

The man was just about to move when Taku's body was only two meters away. Caught by surprise the man did a horizontal kick with his sword. Taku dodged it by ducking and sliding forward at the same time. Then with practiced skill a swept at the man's feet.

Kacha!

Both of the man's legs were broken by the fast sweep. As the man's body touched the ground, his face was greet by Taku's elbow with was supported by the weight of his entire body. There was no suspense as to the result.

Clack!

In was near instant kill. Taku breathed heavily after the deed was done. He knew it was a gamble, but the man's saber was far too intimidating. Taku knew that his best chance at victory was taking the initiative while the man was still dazed.

After he got up Taku immediately started scrounging the ground for armour and weapons. Taku was not trained in the use of cold weapons, thus he decided to go with what felt easiest to use. Oddly enough he managed to find a breast plate, foot and arm guards that were his size. In fact after paying attentions he noticed that most of the weapons were modelled for his body.

Taku was still thinking about that large saber thus a thick metal shield caught his attention. It was not large but it was not small either. Taku was about to pick a weapon when the voice arrived.

"Second stage of the unconquerable trial completed! Third stage begin!"

Knowing what was coming Taku panicked. He immediately picked up a sword that was lying on the ground. The enemy that appeared was still the same man, except now he was wearing leather armour along with the large saber. This time, as if he remembered what Taku had done the man lunged forward and swung vertically upward.

Too fast!

The sheer difference in movement speed between the first man and third man stunned Taku. The second man had been caught by surprise thus he was not able to exhibit his true power.

Clang!