Chapter 149 – Basic Improvements
“What went wrong for so many people to lose their lives this time around?” Leo asked Haeru with some lingering fear.
The loss of so many talented people was a huge burden to Lumea. Every year the supply of food and essentials was getting worse and worse for everyone. Only those talented enough to survive and fight back against the monsters in the world were of true service to the population of the city anymore, to lose this many people was in fact a true loss.
“Who knows?” At least no one has any real answers. Everyone’s been pretty busy. I heard that most professors used to at least pay some attention every so often to the new students, but recently no one has gotten any guidance at all.”
“What do you mean?” Leo asked.
“Exactly how it sounds. Unless you were a new student lucky enough to have gotten a master, you’re screwed. Everyone from the new batch has just been making due with the training grounds and with very limited access to the first floor of the library. None of the professors have shown up at all. In fact I hear from Marcos it was getting quite chaotic at first.”
“How’s he doing?” Leo asked.
“Fine fine. He’s got quite the following that little popular bastard. Haha” Haeru wasn’t normally do straight forward but when he’d met with Marcos the few times he’d been allowed too, he’d been thoroughly surprised by just how many people were willing to follow his lead. He’d even grown a little jealous of his charisma.
After discussing a bit of the on-goings of the academy, Haeru was quick to admit that what he knew was limited. He was afterall, not a normal student. Much like Daichi and the others, he’d been guarantied with a professor in his courtyard. He’d been focused on his studies and had limited opportunities or interact with the majority of the “normal” students.
Haeru was the one that got the true surprise during this visit. The more he spoke with Leo the more he realized the obvious changes in their dynamics. There was no longer a chasm between Damien and Leo and they even interacted as if they’d become friends. Just as surprising to Haeru was how approachable Daichi was acting by comparison to how he’d been when they’d first met out in the wilderness. Although he wasn’t chatty like Leo or opinionated like Damien, he was willing to hold a conversation and respond with some emotion when directly asked a question.
Like this, they quickly caught up with one another. They got a break and although Lydia knew they were slacking off on this day, she looked the other way. She decided to give them a bit of time together as Haeru did not come to stay, he was merely visiting. He was told he would be allowed to visit them once a week, so he could get some hands on training with the others.
After a quick spar with the others, he realized that his talents were useless in the face of Damien’s physical attacks, Leo’s swordsmanship and Daichi’s abilities. All of Haeru’s techniques involved long casting times and the slow build up of mana, naturally he couldn’t do much against any of them.
Daichi was smiling like no other though, because of the words Haeru had shared with him. When they were discussing the Lumea library after their spar, “Yeah it’s no problem. I’m able to borrow 10 books at a time as long as they aren’t highly classified or special books from the first floor. I can totally borrow some books for you on every visit!”
Daichi looked like he’d heard the most pleasing words coming out of a siren’s mouth. Although it wasn’t the first hand experience of going inside the Lumea library and getting to see and pick the books he wanted himself, he’d at least finally get a chance to read some of the books in the library. Instead of asking for something that might be useless, he asked for Haeru to borrow books on the basics. Whether it be combat, mana or the theory of mana, it was all basics.
Every week Haeru would then come for a day, spar with everyone and chat a bit. Daichi would ravage the books as soon as he could get his hands on them, he was suddenly being introduced to a whole world of knowledge that these people had grown up to know as common knowledge but that was a huge eye opener to him.
On one such occasion Daichi took the initiative to teach Damien some tips on mana control “You’re looking at it wrong. You have to think about the essence of the properties of fire. Not just how it moves or the superficial things you can see, but it’s about understanding the very essence of its nature.”
“You make it sound so easy.”
“Isn’t it?” Daichi said with a rare smirk.
“No! Either you have to read up on the properties, which still don’t make sense. I know, I’ve read. Or… Or you have to inherently just be able to feel the subtle differences between one thing and another and understand them. Not easy.” Damien argued.
“When I am trying to understand, I immerse myself in the feeling of when I’m sensing and gathering mana of that nature.” Daichi mentioned in passing.
“Eh?” Damien looked at him strangely but said nothing and merely left to go think things over and Daichi only hoped he’d been helpful.
This small conversation had been a small catalyst for Daichi.
Along with getting the chance to correct some of the things he’d assumed and been wrong about regarding his practices towards mana, Daichi came to realize how much his attitude was changing towards the others. He wasn’t sure if it was because they were somewhat similar to him in regards to their interests towards combat, but he’d begun to notice the differences in himself.
He’d always been a fairly cold person. He’d kept a distance from others from an early age, but it was only recently that he’d realize how much of a change his personality had truly taken after his world had been turned upside down.
‘I went… from keeping a wall that divided me from the rest of the world to truly being separated from the world…’ It was as he’d been reading a book on the basics of mana, that he’d come to find out that the more mana one gathered innately of a specific essence, the more it would change a person’s personality. This normally didn’t affect those with no attribute who merely collected natural mana or pure mana. Even those who merely converted mana to a specific type for their own predilection of preference didn’t suffer these effects. On the other hand, those who had a natural attribute would slowly start to notice changes to their original personality the more mana they gathered and the more they immersed themselves in that attribute.
Daichi had never stopped to truly think about how by merely having a ‘strange’ and abnormal attribute such as his “Chaos” attribute would mean to him on a fundamental level. It was only recently that his focus had been less on using chaos based mana attacks and his own physical foundations that he’d seemingly put a stop to some of those effects.
“Leo! What did I just teach you yesterday! Use a focal point! Focal point!” Lydia yelled at Leo from the sides.
“Argh! Not that easy!” he muttered while barely evading one of Daichi’s punches.
Daichi’s improvement could only be described as astronomical, enough so to put the others to shame.
Aside from his own personal introspections, Daichi had made wonderous progress in using mana to enhance his body to move faster, be stronger. These were only minor things to Lydia though, what she was personally most surprised by was learning that up until now Daichi had never learned a single fighting style. This bewildered her and shocked her as she wondered how he’d ever possibly survived out in the wilderness.
“Ugh!” Leo grunted as he evaded another punch which turned out to be a faint, as Daichi twisted his arm and flipped onto his back.
Daichi’s use of martial arts thanks to the training and guidance of Lydia, books and moreover actual combat experience was causing him to grow at a noticeable pace. His body adapting after every move of every fight!
Daichi’s hand to hand combat skills were already on par with Leo and Damien’s now, only behind in swordsmanship to the two of them.
“Haha! My win my win! That’s 63 wins!” Daichi yelled in excitement.
Leo could only catch his breath before muttering “63 to my 104.”
“Haha! Yeah but that was before, recently I’ve been getting the upper hand!” Daichi’s body was covered in sweat but the smile on his face was dazzling to Lydia who couldn’t help but feel a little flush.
It wasn’t his “good looks” it was his genuine and absolute enthrallment with combat which she’d come to find absolutely fascinating and even attractive. He was the first person she’d met who was more of a combat freak than herself. She loved combat due to her desire for strength, but she could tell… ‘Even if he wants strength… His love for combat is pure… He just genuinely enjoys the feeling.’
Everyday he looked more and more like a gem slowly being polished to a growing splendor.
Leo also noticed that Daichi would only ever truly show unrestrained emotion during combat or when receiving a new book. Otherwise it seemed like a forced effort, regardless of much the distance between them had lessened.
“Then let’s do a swordplay battle!” Leo said rubbing his arm, a challenge in his tone.
“Fine! Swordplay!” Daichi said with no hesitation.
“Meh! Whatever! I’m going to go think about today’s combat spars!” Leo said walking away in a poor mood. In his heart he was becoming more and more reluctant to spar with Daichi with swords. His heart couldn’t take the possibility that soon Daichi might catch up to his own level.
Their trainings continued on and on. The more time that passed the more centered and specialized their training and advice they received. Damien focused less and less on sparings and more on his sensing and utilization of fire mana.
Leo continued to spar with Daichi and Lydia. With Daichi for Daichi’s improvement and with Lydia for his own, all the while trying to utilize mana in a more effective manner.
Daichi continued his combat training with the others and even with Lydia, except regardless of how useful his training with Lydia was, it would always end with his being knocked unconscious due to his unrelenting nature and unwillingness to concede defeat. The rest of the time he spent reading the books on basics and fixing his previous mistakes. He stopped trying to gather more chaotic mana and instead focused solely on the theoretical and comparing it to what he’d spent a hundred years ruminating on and applying some of the basics that Leo himself was learning.