It had been a few days since his meeting with the rest of the alliance members for their upcoming expedition at the end of the week. Since then Joshua had put all thought of the world government guild's little display to the back of his mind as he prepared for his own upcoming expedition. If they succeeded the world government guild would have to change plans anyways so they had the initiative this time around because they would be going first. Apparently Laura and Madalyn had even changed up a few of their plans so they could bring along a member from the independent news guild for the expedition. They would record and broadcast major parts of the expedition for everyone to see after the place was cleared.
When Joshua heard about this he was a bit hesitant at first because of two things. The first part was the fact that he didn't want to bring someone that wasn't highly experienced in combat into a high level combat area. The second part was he was worried about the implications of showing the world their strategies and battle tactics, but then they talked him into it when he realized he'd probably end up having to show off his abilities in future territory battles or other events. Using this chance to promote the alliance was just too good of an opportunity and the members of the news crew that were coming along were professionals at their job and wouldn't get in the way. Joshua was certain of this after seeing some of the dungeon runs that had been recorded and how effortlessly they were able to stay out of the way of the main group.
In the end Joshua agreed and went on his way since it was time for him to get in as good a condition as he possibly could before taking on the large town. He spent the next few days working on his timing when it came to using the scale blade along with his will to amplify the aura. He got it to the point where he only had to fully use his will to control his aura for the moment during impact. He would still get a large portion of the power behind the technique outside of the buildup of momentum that he would have gained if he was using it through his whole body constantly. By doing this he was able to expand his combat time when using the technique to hours at a time, but only in maintained small burst. If he was forced to use it in several different ways over a short period of time however he'd only last for minutes at a time.
Although using his will to empower his aura was one thing he trained in over his time preparing for the expedition another point that he focused on was training in the skills that had leveled up over the last expedition so that he could get used to them. His Blink skill had leveled up giving him more range in his short movements. It had doubled in size which was more than enough to get around some of the more massive bosses they had been facing lately. His Echo Strike had also reached the next stage and at this point it was doing sixty percent of the power of his last move which was a huge boost that could fatally injure some creatures at the right moments.
Outside of those two skills the only other skills that had leveled up in the past expedition were energy slash, rock steady, and sword smash. Energy slash just got a bit more power and shorter cool down, but it was a simple skill that pretty much stayed the same overall. Rock Steady improved his endurance when standing his ground against straight on attacks. It would strengthen his body more when it came to taking on strong attacks from massive creatures. It was a skill that he was extremely happy about leveling up. Sword smash just gained a shorter cool down along with the knock back effect getting much stronger which was needed for the larger boss class creatures he had been facing a lot lately.
He spent his time getting used to the small changes to the skills in any way that he could over the days while keeping up his regular training. It was on one of the days where he had finished up his training for the morning that he could hear a portal opening from behind him. He was close to the cabin so he wasn't surprised that the portal would open there of all places. The person that walked out of the portal was small in height, but not quite in stature as the old dwarf made his way out of the portal with a keg of some kind of alcohol in his arms and a bit of a grouchy look on his face.
When Joshua took in Thoren's appearance the first thing he noticed was the fact that he had a bunch of leaves and random vines mixed in with his beard as if he had been running through a forest. He also had a few obvious bumps on his head that stood out and made him look like he had been in some sort of fight recently. "That damn elf always causing me trouble." Thoren said with a frown as he turned and looked at Joshua. The portal was starting to close behind him when a book came soaring out of it and smashed him in the head.
"You alright Thoren. Seems like you've had quite the bad day." Joshua asked as he rose from the ground and made his way over.
"Whose fault do you think this is brat? You can't go telling that elf that I come over here all the time for breaks and if you do, you can't tell her I haven't been helping out. She may be all kind and gentle when it comes to you, but when she's dealing with anyone she has a grudge with she becomes a completely different person after all. Give an old man some warning next time you decide to send that tree loving heathen after me." Thoren said before grunting as one of the vines that was stuck in his beard swung up and slapped him across the face. The old dwarf grumbled a few more curses before pulling the vines out of his beard and throwing them on the ground.
"Oh sorry about that. It wasn't like I could do much about it. Apparently her grandson has been keeping her up to date in regards to anything that goes on around here. So she already knew by the time she got here." Joshua explained with a bit of a grin at the old dwarf's misfortune.
"Well come on now let me show you a thing or two before we relax. I can't have her showing up while I'm napping to give me another rude awakening." Thoren simply said before he made his way into the cabin. Joshua followed after but remembered to never piss off the elf matriarch or she might show up when he least expected it to give him some payback. The fact that it took her a full week to act on her anger instead of the next day like most people just proved her perspective of time was completely different from his own. When Joshua got inside the cabin he could see that Thoren had already made himself at home on his couch. The dwarf was busy chugging some of the alcohol from his keg and from the smell Joshua could tell it was much stronger than anything he had personally had before.
"So what do you have to show me oh wise one?" Joshua asked as he sat in the chair across from him. Seeing the moody dwarf drink away all of his pain was an expected sight from what he knew about him up to this point.
"Take a look at that book first. It's something I think will help you a lot in regards to your aura going forward." The dwarf said with a bit of a smile. "It belonged to someone quite extraordinary. I think you're the only one that could make any use of it at this point. It cost a pretty penny to get, but I think it'll be well worth it."
Joshua reached over to the book that had been laid out on the table by Thoren. It was the same book that had been thrown through the portal after him and was probably something that Ysildea had thrown at him while he was making his escape. When Joshua read the cover of the book he noticed that the odd language had suddenly shifted to English so that he'd be able to read it without any problems. The title of the book was 'A Guide to Mastering Aura: Records of an Aura Master'. After reading the title Joshua flipped through to the first few pages and noticed that it was describing a lot of the abilities that he had in the first place. His aura cloak was well explained with all of its benefits and it even had things about some of the abilities he had gained from Buster which told him whoever wrote this book must have had a Fenrir as a Soul beast as well.
"Who was the person that wrote this book?" Joshua asked amazed by all of the information he was finding inside of it.
"The only other person that was known to have a Fenrir as a soul beast." Thoren said with a grin. "He's probably the best one to explain anything you need to know about the road you should follow to gain the most out of your abilities. After all, no other aura user that has come since him has been able to go past the second tier job that I know of."
"Wait no one has past the second tier job? Does that mean you don't know what the third tier job is then?" Joshua asked a bit confused.
"Outside of a few ideas based off of how the man fought no one has any clue…well maybe no one isn't the right answer. I can think of one person that might have a clearer picture, but let's just say she isn't someone you want to get involved with at this point." Thoren said with a frown. "Anyways if I were you, I would use that as a guide for your progress going forward."
Joshua nodded at his response before turning back towards the book. He started glancing through and noticed that just about all of the abilities he had learned from his job and his soul beast were described in detail in the book. He even saw some basic descriptions on will that pointed out the best timing for using will when it came to fighting. Points such as using aura sight for an instant to see the opponents movements, using will to strengthen your defense capabilities alongside aura hardening while blocking, and lastly the perfect time to use it during an attack to get the most out of it without wasting aura. It was all described perfectly in the book.
There was one other description that Joshua noticed in the book that showed a whole new way to use one of the abilities that he often used. It had to deal with his aura pulse and it was a tactic that had you spread out your aura pulse like a sonar, but instead of stopping there it would hone in on other living beings aura's and use it as a source to create another aura pulse from that location. This would greatly spread out the reach of Joshua's aura pulse while also making it more confusing for other beast or people to find the source since the pulse would start to emit from them as well when it passed by. It was an interesting strategy that Joshua planned to try out as soon as possible.
Eventually though Joshua reached a point in the book that wasn't even close to a third of the way through where all of the writing returned to the crazy symbols that he couldn't understand. It didn't shift to where he could read it so Joshua had no way to read the information. "Thoren do you know what's going on here?"
Thoren looked up from his drink with a red tint to his cheeks. It was clear that whatever he was drinking was having a strong effect. "Sorry, I couldn't tell you even if I wanted to. I can't read a single word from that book after all. It's encrypted to where only other aura users can read it. Even Ysildea couldn't read it and she knows all sorts of languages."
Joshua nodded while frowning at the answer. He was a bit disappointed that he wouldn't be able to read anymore from the book, but he had a good idea of why that was the case. The information he was able to read was all within the realm of an aura user that had a Fenrir as a soul beast. If the information was blocked from those who weren't able to make use of it then other aura users probably wouldn't even be able to see the descriptions of the soul beast abilities at all. Joshua decided to put the book aside for a while and spend some time with Thoren as he grabbed a drink to relax. He only had a few more days before the start of the expedition and with all the new information he had a few ideas of what he could grow stronger at during that time.