Chapter 94 Absentee Instructors (Part 1)
Karina had never had hope, she had nothing but the will and desire to survive and even now that had been whittled away. Instead of feeling dread, there was a slight smile on her face as she gathered her mana into her sword and prepared to kill whatever tried to attack her next.
‘I survived for 15 years… I hope in the next life I have the opportunity to do more than survive. I hope I get the opportunity to live’ she thought as she prepared for death.
Karina had never had the opportunity to worth any techniques or skills. She had never known the guidance of a loving family member nor the helpful advice of a teacher. What Karina had developed, she had developed for survival. She had fled when she no choice, hid when she was cornered and could flee and killed when she had the opportunity. Staring down the imps she couldn’t see, Karina begun implementing the only ability she knew that could make her stronger.
Karina was slowly infusing her mana into her sword, both making herself stronger and her sword sharper. This was something she’d developed at an early age as a self-defense mechanism as she was about to eaten by a beast in the wilderness. Even though it was mana she was infusing into the sword, she’d realized after repeated use that somehow it it made her weaker long term to use this move. She was using an energy she didn’t understand and didn’t know exactly what the effects were, so she had long decided to only use it in a life or death struggle.
Damien was in equally bad shape. He was only one of 5 others aside from Karina who were still holding their ground, and the others had only managed so far by either using others as a shielder by constantly moving and trying to dodge any attack preemptively. Although it hadn’t helped them dodge any attacks, it had motivated the imps to attack them last as a moving target is always harder to hit than a sitting duck.
Damien had been furious up until moments ago. He’d been furious that they were in such dire danger that multiple people had already been killed, while others were barely hanging on for their lives and the instructors had still not taken action.
Staring at the few companions in his group still standing, he’d felt his heart clench and his throat run dry.
Faced with overwhelming odds and the inability to counter his opponents with his physical skills as they were, Damien decided to use his trump cards. Although he had only used his sword thus far to attack, Damien’s family were not physical warriors. He had grown up learning all of his families magic skills when he’d met the requirements and trying to glean insight into how they worked and the laws of the elements. Damien himself wasn’t too talented in that regard but his father had pushed him into learning the family way. He was taught a variety of skills from simple to strong but was limited to only using them in actual combat or in front of others until he had gained understanding of the skill itself. If he used the skills otherwise he would be severely punished.
Even knowing that he could be punished when he returned home, Damien also figured it would be better to return home and be punished then not return at all! ‘Besides I might get off just by saying I wasn’t doing it for myself, but I was doing it to save the others that couldn’t save themselves without my help…’
That is how the Knight family had maintained such a monopoly on their power, they raised their children under harsh conditions. They coddled them well and allowed them to be arrogant in front of others but it was a right that had to be earned. They had to learn magic and were only allowed to use what they themselves could understand. It was both a method utilized in order to raise their members strength so that they couldn’t simply rely on their elders. It nurtured their own abilities while allowing them all to have some life-saving trump cards if the situation ever called for it. That was why until they became fully fledged mana users they were required to learn how to use some sort of weapon and become proficient at it.
Slowly Damien had begun igniting the mana in his hands as he activated his fireball skill. It was a simply skill but one he still didn’t understand in any real way. Even with his father’s guidance he had realized he found it very difficult to understand the elements, he simply wasn’t attuned to them like they were. He w as also born without an attribute, and therefore didn’t have the lucky happenstance to understand and learn with ease.
Damien had been angry as a child when such rules had been imposed on him. He was not only arrogant in front of others but also at his home. If others in his family were coddled, then he had been pampered to a different degree by his mother and father. When he’d been told he had to learn to use a weapon when he already had such powerful magical skills he had thrown a fit.
He had chosen the sword because he thought it was the strongest weapon. He’d also secretly thought it would look super manly to wield a large sword around. It was only after he’d started learning with his instructor that he’d come to realize how gratifying learning the way of the sword was. Unlike the insights needed to understand the elements, he actually understood the sword. Although it would be as stretch to say that it came easy to him or that he was a genius, he was indeed quite talented. His interest for the sword had motivated him and he’d practiced more than he had too all in the efforts to improve something he enjoyed.
This interest in the sword had further delayed his growth and understanding of the skills his family had already given him, making him fall even further behind their expectations. If it wasn’t for his swordplay being so distinguished for others n his age group, he would probably have had quite a few issues within his family and he understood that quite well.
After triggering the fireball skill in his hands, two small red fireballs ignited and appeared floating on top of his palms avoiding his skin. These were two of the weakest fireballs a practitioner of the laws of fire could create, after all red fire burned at the lowest temperatures. His red fireballs burned at merely around 1,500 F degrees.
Without hesitation he threw both fireballs as an imp had chosen that very moment, drawn in by the fire in his hands to attack him at what it thought was a moment of distraction. Both fireballs hit in succession and much to Damien’s chagrin, the imp seemed completely unfazed! It’s path continued as it flew down from the trees at a speed so fast they could only see an unperturbed blur as it slashed at Damien’s arm leaving a few superficial scratches before hitting the ground and pushing back into the trees.
The entire attack took a while to explain but the process took less than a second for it to happen! Damien stared in shock as he realized his fireballs hadn’t even fazed it!
‘How can it be completely unfazed!?’
At best his attack had slightly changed the course of the imp enough so to prevent that slash from dealing the serious damage it was meant to inflict.
Damien couldn’t believe that his skill had been completely ignored, and instead of calmly analyzing the reason. He began to utilize the skill once more creating two more fireballs in his palms. Completely disregarding his minor wounds he called out to the imps “You want to challenge me!? Come at me then you cowards!!”
After being targeted by monsters and having his group dwindled down to such a pathetic state, having his instructors ignore their plight, his sword skills being rendered useless and now his opponent completely disregarding his skill Damien felt that the insults had piled up one after another finally leaving him too aggravated to ignore them. ‘I won’t let you insult my family’s skills so blatantly! It might be a basic skill, but it’s a skill I’ve worked hard to develop! I’ll make you taste defeat!”
As if goaded by his words and actions, the same previous imp launched itself from the trees making a beeline towards Damien. Damien launched the fireballs right at it, drawn solely by the slight fluctuation in the trees and the only movement in the area once again hitting the imp with pinpoint accuracy but to no avail. Yet again, both fireballs hit their targets but were completely ignored, seemingly dealing no damage as the imp claws made contact with Damien before inflicting another minor wound before disappearing back into the trees.
The rage in Damien’s mind was only fueled by his second failure and he began goading the imps. Unfazed by the growing wounds on his body Damien persisted in using the same fireballs in the same way. Refusing to give up and try something different he was drawn into a repeating cycle that only ended with more wounds each stacking up on top of one another.
The other participants still alive and in fighting shape in the group had turned pale faced at the sight. The strongest one among them (based on their perception) had been turned into a laughing stock, wound after wound appeared on his body and his attacks seemed to be doing absolutely nothing. Every effort he made seemed meaningless only making them grow more disconcerted and fearful of their opponents. The only one who’d taken the opportunity for what it was, was Karina. Instead of continuing to fuel her mana into her body and sword, she had stopped and began to use the time to replenish her energy and look for a way out of the situation.
‘The imps seem to be enjoying the show and have allowed this continue. We should be using this for what it is. A way to buy time! We can’t count on the instructors, if they were going to do something, they would have done it by now. I have to think of something otherwise I’m going to get killed right here. Damien’s clearly lost his head, there’s no way he’s going to be useful anymore… The best I can hope out of him is that he keeps this up long enough for me to think a way out of this mess!’
Fireball after fireball landed on the imp but the only thing that changed was where he got cut by it’s claws.
‘Damn it! Why won’t my skill work! Why can’t I hurt him! Damn it damn it damn it!”
Damien’s frustration was growing more and more as he felt the pain from his wounds grow as the blood flow started getting worse as some of the wounds got deeper. His entire chest and arms were now littered with scratches and cuts, his clothes torn no longer providing any protection for the imps claws.
It was only now that his anger was giving way to some regret. Earlier after he’d realized his first two fireballs hadn’t worked he could have easily tried another skill e had plenty to choose from, and quite a few of them were notably stronger. Now that he’d used the fireball skill so many times though, his mana was depleted. Regardless of the type of skill, all skills relied on a users mana in order to trigger them, after all using a skill meant using an automatic process. It could only be done through one’s own mana.
‘Stupid stupid stupid… This is probably the worst thing I could have done!’ Damien admonished himself as the more his wounds deepened and the more pain he felt the more his anger calmed itself as the regret slowly filled its place.
Finally calming himself down enough to realize what a mistake he’d made out of foolishness and anger, he was calm enough to realize that the fireballs he was using were clearly useless but he couldn’t stop now. If he stopped the imp would attack with an even stronger move, even if it didn’t, the fireballs were the only thing that was diverting its claws enough to prevent serious damage from each attack.
Instead of allowing himself to dwell in his regret, Damien started focusing on his skill. On trying to notice any little detail about the imp when his attack made contact in order to glean any bit of information that could help him dig his way out of this hole he’d dug himself.
Instead his wounds only grew. Every a few more fireballs he acknowledged his eyes could barely keep up with the blur of speed the imp was moving at and the only reason his fireballs were making contact was because he could at least catch the blur of movement in his peripherals. That and the imp wasn’t even trying to avoid his fireballs, it was moving through them completely unobscured by them and with no fear what-so-ever of his attack.
‘Damn it! This is so pathetic! Is my attack really so useless?’
Damien had never been brought to such a pathetic state in his life, his ego was wounded as badly as his body and his dignity insulted in a way he would never have allowed in his home.
Shifting his annoyance into his own skill, he began to earnestly analyze it for the first time in his life. Although he’d claimed he’d worked really hard to increase his understanding of it, it was mostly a lie. He’d used it enough times to grow proficient at using it, but he’d never really tried to understand it. He’d been too arrogant to believe that such a weak skill was really worth investing his time and effort into understand and had only tried with the harder and more impressive skills he was taught. Completely disregarding the basic skills he’d been taught, he’d thought so highly of himself as to believe he could learn the complicated before or without the simple.