Chapter 148 – Exchanging Pointers (3)
Time quickly flowed, and the days passed in similar fashion.
Lydia would occasionally show up and gauge their progress, her comments were short and concise. She would normally only show up and say something once a day and her comments were no more than a sentence long. More often than not, her comments would be far more helpful for Leo than the others. Leo was treading a similar path as she had, and so her comments were far more helpful for him. Moreover, Damien was having a greater difficulty making much progress, even with Daichi’s advice and guidance.
“What’re you doing!? Keep your mana in check, mind clear and only focus on your senses! You can’t feel for something if your mind is distracted!” Lydia would constantly tell them.
When it came to Daichi Lydia kept her distance from him even while helping and making an effort to keep him content. Although Daichi couldn’t tell why, but he was aware that the more progress he made the more distant she seemed to become.
“All of your flame based attacks are utility based at the moment. They’re impractical for combat. Either find a way to channel them into one focal point or change they way you use them completely.”
Lydia’s comments even in an effort to be conservative still served to enlighten Daichi as he realized things that he would never have known without access to the same knowledge she had. He was given key points to some of the pivotal weaknesses in some of his techniques, and how not to use some of them, as in a life or death battle it could spell disaster for him – similar to the tip she’d given him about never using his “flash” skill in a battle as it could result in his death as it placed him in grave danger.
In truth, Lydia wasn’t distancing herself on purpose. It was an automatic response to what she was seeing. Daichi was improving at a noticeable pace. Everyday his technique would improve by leaps and bounds, his progress and aptitude was terrifying to Lydia. In just a few weeks he’d progressed more than most Lumea students would progress in perhaps a few years.
‘Unbelievable…’ she would think to herself on a near daily basis.
These were Lumea students that Lydia was comparing him too. The crème of the crop, the children with the greatest potential within the entire city! Even before the catastrophe had occurred, the people within Lumea were already slightly stronger or held more aptitude for improvement on average than the people who came to take the Lumea exams from outside of Lumea. After generations of people within the city strengthening their families and bloodlines, coupled with the pressure of the increasing threats to the people and shortening storage of foods… Everyone had improved greatly in any given sense. Even with all these factors, Daichi’s aptitude and progress was staggering. It was even greater than Lydia’s own progress at his age, and she was heralded as the youngest Elder-Professor within Lumea Academy in hundreds of years. On top of which… This was only with the guidance from another student!
Without even realizing it Lydia had begun to gaze at Daichi with a slightly competitive look. After three weeks of training, Daichi had already caught up to Leo in terms of battle technique with body of them doing nothing but utilizing mana to strengthen themselves and swordplay. There were only slight differences. Despite his quick improvement, his improvements primarily came due to his aptitude with his ability to utilize mana efficiently.
In just short of a month, Daichi’s swordsmanship had already become on par with Damien. Damien who prided himself on his talent in the sword, and had disregarded generations of knowledge regarding the fire attribute due to his own confidence in the sword had finally seen a true genius with his very own eyes as he himself had become instrumental in developing his technique.
He’d never truly bowed in defeat to Leo even when he’d acknowledged that Leo’s swordsmanship was slightly better, but in front of Daichi’s talent he couldn’t hold his head up without shame crawling all over him like ants.
Lydia had sparred with them once per week at her own behest. Normally she would have done so once a month, it was more for them than for herself. She could gauge their progress by watching them from afar, especially when they met up in person in the middle courtyard making it easier for her to keep an eye on all of them at once. Sparring them was for their benefit, for them to realize their own progress and to make adjustments accordingly. The reason why she began sparring them once weekly was due to Daichi’s monstrous progress. Part of herself just couldn’t believe what she was seeing and so she forced herself to experience it herself first hand.
During their fights, Daichi would limit himself to physical mana enhancing and swordplay. The same style he was learning from Leo. He already experienced their battle with his own abilities and without any guidance in that regard he knew what didn’t work but not how to make them more useful in combat, so instead he focused on trying to improve the things he saw vast room to do so in.
When he sparred with Lydia he partially focused on trying to sense how she herself was utilizing mana to enhance her body. It was a wonder as he realized that the way she compressed mana was not only extremely precise but also made no sense to him. On one occasion in mid-battle he tried to do the same but failed miserably hurting himself in the process so much so that Lydia had to feed him a pill to heal his leg muscles.
“Don’t try that again.” Was all she’d said when Daichi himself had expected to be heavily scolded. In truth, the reason she’d kept her mouth all but shut was because she was shocked to the core when she’d realized he’d somehow touched upon how she herself used her mana. She was unaware at how his perception could be so amazing as to realize it himself, because no one in Lumea city had his “mana perception” ability. It was rare even for monsters to possess such an ability!
Daichi came to the conclusion after their most recent sparring session that the reason he couldn’t do what Lydia could was both a combination of practice and weak muscles.
If Lydia was a physical combat expert, and Leo was a swordsman expert (or at least that was the path he was walking), Damien was trying to walk down a path either of a swordsman or fire attribute user. Daichi realized that he was currently nothing. He was a jack-of-all-trade type, he’d divided his attention on too many abilities that so far he’d mastered none.
After that first month of training Daichi decided to add to his routine! He began spending less time meditating at night and only using the amount of time necessary to ease his mind and body’s needs and spent the rest of the time strengthening his body. He didn’t have equipment so he began adding 3 hours of running at full speed and the rest of the different exercises to increase strength which he’d asked Leo about.
“There’s no shortcut to getting physically stronger. It’s a process. Push-ups, one handed push-ups and eventually finger pushups. Once you can do all of those with perfect form at over 1000 each, then you can start hand stand push ups. Then finger hand stand push ups. It’ll take a while but it’ll increase your upper body strength. It’ goes without saying you should do all of your exercises without using mana to help you. The whole point is to increase your body’s strength and using anything to help will only slow down your progress” Leo had advised.
After another month, Daichi’s visible progress had noticeably slowed down. He could now fight on par with Damien easily and could even fight with Leo using Leo’s own style without loss even if it cost him more effort.
It was Lydia that had realized why his progress had slowed down even before he had ‘He no longer has a model to copy.’ She’d thought to herself without saying anything and letting Daichi reach the same conclusion.
The closer he got to Leo’s skill the less he could take from him. Their bodies were fundamentally different. Leo’s had been trained from an extremely young age, and even Damien who didn’t train as harshly had the external resources to strengthen himself further than a normal person. Daichi’s physique couldn’t compare to them, and physical training for one month wasn’t going to do almost anything.
‘Hah… All that training I did on my body at home growing up… I thought I was impressive but how little I knew. If I had been born in Lumea my personal trainings would have been seen as a joke had anyone found out.’ Daichi realized when he asked Damien and Leo for to tell him what their personal work out routines consisted of.
After two months, Leo had made virtually no progress in attaining affinity with an attribute but with the help of Daichi’s guidance he had learned to absorb mana in a vastly far superior way. He could now absorb mana much quicker and his speed would only increase the more he familiarized himself with his new meditative technique. Damien gained the same but made little to no progress in the fire attribute.
It was exactly two months later that during the morning spars Haeru suddenly appeared from a portal in one of the courtyard walls.
“How’s it going guys?” Haeru smiled as Damien was in the middle of trying to hold his ground against Daichi.
Their spar ended immediately as Leo ran up to him and immediately began asking him questions.
“How are you!? Where’ve you been? Where’d Professor Lydia send you? Have you had access to the outside? What ended up happening with the other students during the exam? Did more survive? Do you know how Marcos is doing??”
“Whoa whoa. Too much!” Haeru held his hands up in helplessness.
Damien and Daichi walked over. They weren’t as close to Haeru but had some interest in hearing news from the outside. Even Daichi had begun to feel trapped, which was the last thing he wanted after leaving the mist.
“I’ve been good. Professor Lydia sent me to train under another professor for two months, he is a specialist in wind, and it’s the closest specialty to sound anyone knows within the academy.” Haeru said.
“How’s the progress?” one of them asked.
“Snail paced haha… But I have learned a lot. I just need a lot more time to process everything I’ve learned. It was just… Her teachings were so far above my head, that I couldn’t really make heads or tails of it at first. I think once my understanding catches up it’ll be extremely beneficial.” Haeru said with a smile as he looked over at Leo.
“Professor Lydia had me check in with Marcos every few weeks. He’s already out of the hospital and begun training. He was taken in as “temporary disciple” but a lot of the professors have their own things going on, so he’s actually staying by himself at the moment.” Haeru glanced around at them and then his look turned slightly more somber.
“After we got back… More professors and examinee’s started showing up… But the number of professors lost was the biggest lost in the history of any of Lumea’s previous exams. Even from the prospective students, only around 40% survived and it was due to various professors giving their lives for them. Out of those, most of them were accepted as students.”
Leo and Damien’s faces paled. The professors were not only the backbone of the academy, but also of the enter city as well. They helped to provide both protection and hunted (so therefore food). It was a huge blow to the city to lose professors in great quantity.