Chapter 147 – Exchanging Pointers (2)
Daichi’s eyes slightly widened before he smiled back at Leo. Understanding the good will immediately.
Daichi thought about it for a moment and decided that pooling their knowledge really would be the quickest form of improvement if he didn’t have any access to outside knowledge, as he yelled “Damien, would you like me to assist you in gaining understanding of fire?”
Damien had been paying attention the entire time with a down trodden expression, but after he heard Daichi he almost couldn’t believe his ears.
Leo frowned “Why teach him anything?”
Daichi whispered to Leo “Even if I don’t, he can still come out and watch us. He’ll hear whatever I tell you anyways, why not get a favor in return? Perhaps it’ll benefit you to get one as well eh?” Then he began walking towards Damien to explain what time to meet up with him.
Leo frown deepened but he stayed quiet for a moment as he watched Daichi’s back before following behind him.
When Daichi and Damien were done speaking, Leo finally chimed in
“Do you want me to help you with your swordsmanship?”
Damien couldn’t believe what he’d heard before but now his eyes were completely wide. Daichi was enigma but Leo actively showed his dislike of him.
“Yes… What’s in it for you?”
“Three things. First, you apologize to Marcos and his father. You had no right to mock them for having less than you. Second, when Professor Lydia allows us to leave you tell your father to promote Marcos’s dad. Lastly, you owe me a small favor.”
Damien frowned at the long list of demands but said nothing. Leo didn’t think he’d accept but much to his surprise Damien nodded his head in agreement.
Daichi nodded in appreciation. ‘It seems that Leo has also noticed the mountain of a task Lydia set before us…’
Lydia had said that if they lost the battle, they would both have to tell her what their greatest weakness was (which involved introspection) but was easy enough to realize, but also to land a hit on her. It sounded easy enough but after their most recent spar… They had all been witness to Lydia’s ridiculous ability. Perhaps she couldn’t control the elements or do many things that Daichi could do, but her physical abilities were miles ahead of them. Even if all she did was dodge, that would be enough to render them useless at the moment.
After agreeing on what times they would train, they briefly discussed the strange absence of Haeru, but it was Damien who proposed the possibility that perhaps Lydia had sent him to train with somebody else. Unlike them Haeru didn’t use any physical abilities to battle, he was the complete opposite of Lydia.
They discussed a bit further before going their own ways and heading back to their courtyards.
Daichi began practicing for the first time as if he was in a race against time.
It wasn’t just that he’d come to the understanding of how lacking he was in true experience in terms of technique, it was the added pressure of knowing that the opportunity to enter the Pagoda would occur within a few months. Every time they trained they would discuss the knowledge in the library, and how entering the pagoda would be one of the greatest opportunities of their lives. Not just their own, but anyone who entered the academy!
At first he’d had a devastating blow to his ego after his overwhelming loss to Lydia. After dueling with Leo he’d understood exactly what his weak points were, it was a loss, but a happy one for Daichi.
Although he still held a deep desire to enter the library, there was no longer a rush for him. He had arrived at Lumea, he had “access” and only needed to be permitted after accomplishing a task by his overseer. Instead it was the Pagoda that had left him anxious.
‘I need to focus on all of my weak points!’
He felt confident about being able to defeat others his own age within the tournament but he had his sights set much higher than that. Even being around Lydia who was so much stronger than himself left him with a sour feeling. The pagoda would be an opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge and access to the library, and perhaps even strength from a priceless experience. There was no need for him to think further than that in order to fuel his desire for that opportunity. More than that… He hated feeling exposed. He was relatively safe under Lydia’s watch, but knowing that perhaps most professors would be able to defeat him the way he was now left him soaked in sweat.
Under the guidance of Leo in the mornings, he would learn sword technique and fight him in one-on-one spars. Daichi wanted to learn technique so to keep things fair, he didn’t use any of his special skills, and instead focused on trying to utilize his mana in the same way as Leo.
Therefore, during the mornings, Daichi sparred with Leo while trying to copy his technique both physically and also his utilization of mana. Daichi’s understanding of mana far surpassed Leo and once he got the basic understanding of how Leo was circulating mana in order to strengthen specific muscles without causing any backlash, he began expanding on it and using it in a more complicated way that even Leo himself couldn’t do. They practiced utilizing mana skillfully and swordsmanship, alternating opponents as Damien was in the mix as well. He wasn’t nearly as proficient as Leo, but even he was noticeably better than Daichi when they began training together.
After sparring all morning and into the afternoon they would then compare notes and insights.
In the afternoons, Daichi would teach Damien how to sense the fire element in the mana in their surroundings. While he himself practiced utilizing fire mana in a more natural way, so that he could move and utilize these skills with more ease and to shorten the time it took him to activate them. In doing so he allowed Damien to watch him and perhaps learn a thing or too by trying to sense what he was doing. If nothing else, drawing the fire element towards himself and closer to Damien was an exponential gain for Damien.
Almost at the same time, Daichi gave lessons to Leo on the same topic but in a more general way. Leo clearly had no aptitude for fire, and there was no way for Daichi to figure out what he may or may not have an affinity for. Otherwise he would have been able to try and give him specific pointers like Damien. Instead he just tried to teach him in much the same way that most other professors would have done so. He taught the characteristics of different elements and how he himself experienced different changes when trying to familiarize himself with different changes in the flow of mana.
The biggest unexpected gain for Daichi was when he began to realize exactly how beneficial the atmosphere within his courtyard truly was. He couldn’t realize it on his first few days, but not only was the mana within the courtyards greatly enhanced causing it to be easier for one to not only grow one’s mana pool and sense the elements, but there were even more benefits! Daichi realized over time, that there was some mysterious property within the courtyard that cleared his mind and heightened his reasoning abilities whenever his mind and heart were already at peace.
In truth whatever profound ability allowed for one to enhance one’s reasoning, also heightened any other emotion as well. Meaning it was highly beneficial being within the courtyard when one was at peace and focused, but terrible when one was angry or obsessed. At first Daichi felt relieved that his earlier obsession and struggle regarding his father’s legacy had been due to some external force. Over time though, Daichi came to realize that the whatever had happened, had only heightened something he already felt. Bringing his true feelings to the surface and amplifying them. It made it easier for him to come to terms with how his childhood had played out. Making peace with the past.
Daichi had been the first to notice this, but Leo and Damien had come to realize it as well as they discussed their findings together one afternoon.
“Isn’t it amazing!? I didn’t even realize it until last night! I finally felt slightly more familiar with the fire element after our practice, and when I went to meditate on my feelings after our session, I noticed how much easier it was to consolidate my conclusions!” Damien had brought up the topic.
“I realized that while meditating on swordsmanship.” Leo said.
“Not just reasoning but emotions. State of mind is crucial, and perhaps these courtyards are even more beneficial for children learning to meditate. If one has a serene mind, then entering a meditative state for someone who never has would be far-far easier.” Daichi said to them
They nodded in agreement as they thought about the wonders that academy provided. Then they realized that the other new students were in the worst kinds of conditions…
“Maybe the conditions just seem bad but the atmosphere is the same..?” Leo asked.
“Probably not. Their conditions are so bad because ours are so good. The best get better and the rest are left to struggle on their own. The competitive environment out there is their motivation to get stronger. Besides, there isn’t a single one of them that isn’t a “genius” or “gifted” in their own right.” Daichi commented.
That day passed like any other.
At night, instead of sleeping Daichi would meditate and think about the theories written in his father’s journal. There was some validity to them, but there was no way for him to prove them or try to begin walking down that path even if it was what he himself wanted to do. He could only think about what made sense to him as well digest the experiences from the previous day. He stopped himself from feeling impatience for the knowledge that was just sitting in the library, so close but so far from his hands. His constant progress was the saving grace that allowed him to keep his mind steady.
Time quickly flowed, and the days passed in similar fashion.