Chapter 13: Combative

Chapter 13: Combative

Empty. Like a dying hotel the halls and spaces where sparsely filled with people. Once packed with cadets moving from course to course it now seemed as if they moved to evacuate the area.

Luckily, or unluckily, the professors stayed and gave their lessons to those still attending. Some more enthusiastic than others of course.

I head to the elevator. Today was my weekly combat course with Mrs. Eddy held in basement three. I was curious on who still stayed as the lift begun to move downwards towards the basement floors. While it read basement each “basement” was a plot of varying lands ranging from fake cities to rain forests. Three was a temperate plain with a lot of hills and dirt.

“Hoo, so it’s down to fifteen now, huh.” Mrs. Eddy looked over us who had arrived.

She was wearing her personal armor, as she usually did, a piano black set of shiny metallic plates. I was curious to what material they were, but didn’t say anything and waited for her instruction. I sat in the far right of the locker room, Runter sat in the center with his party of four, Mei and her group sat on the far left, and the other high rankers sat together in the back.

She explained we were going to do the usual routine of spars with each other followed by individual spars with her. Then sent us off. As soon as we entered the field I casually began to walk to my usual spot under the shade of the few trees overlooking the small patch they began sparring on.

“Lucid, come here for a second.”

I stopped in my tracks. This is new. She’s never stopped me before. I turned to face her as she strode to me.

“This is you, correct?” She pulled out her phone projecting a small screen in the air so we both could see.

My eye twitched seeing the familiar sight. It was a video of my fight with the rock tortoise with Ronald’s party two days ago.

Fuck. Who the hell would record my life or death battle instead of helping, was my first thought.

My other thought was obviously that I could no longer pretend I was still affected with the disability the previous owner of this body had any longer.

I could tell from her expression she already knew it was me. I offered her a blank face in hopes.

“You will be participating from now on. I will say I am excited to see the combat prowess you’ve seemed to have gained over a single weekend.”

She grabbed me by my shoulder and brought me to the others. I didn’t resist there was no point. She could have tossed me the hundred or so meters to them with a flick of her hand if she wanted.

“Find a partner and spar.” Mrs. Edday gave me the command.

“Mei come, you fight me first.” After leaving me with the group of other cadets she began the individual lessons away from our view.

I’ve never noticed any particular order on who goes. I feel like its whoever meets her gaze or lets off that ‘not me please’ stench.

Mei stopped her spar with Chibin walking past me to an empty area with Mrs. Eddy. She looked eager. It was always her group and Runter’s that looked motivated to receive these lessons.

[Anyone would savor moments with someone as well-known and skilled in combat like Mrs. Eddy. She has no private school, its says she has even refused offers to be a private tutor for a well-known power, the article doesn’t say who though.]

I do admit it did feel like a waste not participating. I was planning on joining in after I learn a couple more spells so I could have something other than my arrows to battle with.

“I’m not going to waste time with last. You spar me.”

Right off the cuff, Chibin sent me some pleasant words pointing at a pair of cadets off to the side.

[Eugene Rook, Rank 103]

[Julia Milton, Rank 102]

“Yea you Julia. Come, fight me.”

The two looked at each other and separated. My guess was they didn’t want to get on the bad side of a person with a backer stronger than theirs.

Eugene walked to me, he was about my height a with a smaller frame. His face soft and oval with short bangs covering his forehead, most noticeable where his sleepy eyes. I will say he was a bit plain compared to me, a ghoul, Chibin, a monolith, or Runter, a prince.

He stopped at a couple dozen feet facing me. His expression was rather unconcerned bordering on bored, but I saw it as a good thing. Hopefully, it meant he won’t try to beat the shit out me in secret.

I didn’t pull out Eurval, instead, I used the sparring bow from the weapons bin in the locker room. I already knew from watching that getting hit with these won’t kill.

Still, I was a little apprehensive, a sword going through you is a sword going through you. Everyone else seemed used to it.

“When you’re ready I’ll start the countdown Lucid.”

His tone was normal, rather it seemed semi-pleasant.

“Wait you don’t dislike me Eugene?” I was curious. Besides I had nothing to lose if he did.

“Why would you think that?”

“Cause I’m last.”

“Oh that, I was a little angry they admitted a cadet whose never killed a hyre before nor couldn’t, but someone shared the video of you killing the rock tortoise on the school board so I’m fine with it now.”

“Huh.” I could only nod my head at the bluntness. This was good to know.

“You can start the counter,” I replied as I thought about what he said.

So a lot of the dislike towards me here was because I couldn’t kill hyres. Was it that important? I shook my head as a timer started counting down from 20. It’s these cultural values that you have to be born around to understand.

I strung my violet string on the sparring bow and prepared myself. Similarly, Eugene readied two plain-looking sparring daggers taking a low crouch.

[START!]

I jumped back shooting an wind arrow mid-air quickly followed by a fire one the moment I landed aiming for his head as he dashed at me. He’s fast as hell!

With two quick swipes, he deflected them while running at me delivering the two daggers into my chest. After the blow landed he ripped out the two blades and practically blinked back to his starting position.

[Injury: Fatal

Area: Heart

Time: 4.1 seconds

1:0]

“FUCK!” I fell to the ground clutching my chest, did this piece shit malfunction this guy actually stabbed me. All that talk was just a ruse to kill me, I knew it! I can’t breathe. The sharp pain in my chest didn’t go away as I laid on the floor.

[Lucid, calm down. You’re not injured.]

Eurval’s filled my head with its voice. I looked down at my wound to see the damage done. Nothing. There was no blood, no hole, nothing. The stinging pain was still there though, but it slowly subsided as I began to calm down. I could feel the adrenaline pumping in my veins. This is crazy, my body thinks I got legitimately stabbed.

“You okay?” Eugene looked at me perplexed at the scene.

“Ahem, yeah.”

I got back up and brushed myself off. Still, I could feel a tinge of some kind of a pain in my chest.

“Again!” It was kinda fun!

[20…19]

[START!]

Eugene ran at me again. Expecting it I shot an explosive arrow not at him but in front of him.

BOOM!

He crossed his two arms to shield himself from the barrage of dirt. I shot another wind arrow as I ran away while aiming my bow.

Cling!

Even in the cloud of dust, he blocked it. The next moment I felt a stinging pain in my side.

FUCK. God, it hurts. I didn’t fall down this time and grit my teeth. He pulled it out and jumped to a starting point again.

[Injury: Fatal

Area: Severed artery

Time: 8.3 seconds

2:0]

I smiled as I waited for the pain to subside. I had doubled my survival time!

“Again!”

“Want me to only use one dagger?” How nice he wanted to give me a handicap.

“What, why? Its fine there’s no injury.”

“Yeah, but the phantom pain still hurts, are you even gaining any insights?”

“Of course, I doubled my time no?”

“I’m more curious if your learning anything since I’m so much weaker.”

“You’re a good shot actually.”

Eugene gave me a shrug and the timer began again.

Our spar continued while we waited for Mrs. Eddy to call us for our individual lessons.

8.1, 7.2, 6.3, 10.7,9.1, 1.9, 9.7, 13.3, 13.5, 13.7, 13.5,13.6, 13.8, 13.5, 13.9, 13.9.

My survival time kept increasing, more or less, as I got a feel for combat. Of course, 13 seconds didn’t seem like much, but for our vast differences in strength, it had to mean something.

However, it seemed 14 seconds was the hard limit as two hours passed of me staying in the 13’s. I had to improve my base strength or get body augmenting spells to close the gap in differences.

I say combat, but in reality, it’s just me running around trying to survive while he closes to deliver my inevitable death. I did realize something important, headshots aren’t as important as I thought.

“Eugene, come it’s your turn.”

I heard Mrs. Eddy from behind me as I was thinking about how to break 14 seconds. Eugene nodded to Mrs. Eddy and gave me a bow to mark the end of our sparring time.

“Good practice, Lucid.” He outstretched his hand to me.

I was a little surprised but firmly shook. He gave me a nod and let go passing me to follow Mrs. Eddy.

I was the only one on the field now. Everyone had either left or was recovering in the locker rooms once they finished their lessons with the professor.

I sat down crossed legged on a patch of grass performing mana infusion. Circulating my mana around my body. There was a small breeze where I sat. Artificial as it was, it was real as could be. Calming. After dying so many times it felt nice.

I prayed. Mrs. Eddy, please don’t be too rough it’ll be my first time…

“Lucid.”

I shivered hearing my name be called. I saw Eugene wobble into the locker rooms in the distance.

“Yes?”

“Its time, come let us see what you’ve learned.”

I got up and began to walk to the area over a small hill. Oh god. There were craters, scorched grasses, and deep gashes all over the place.

Mrs. Eddy took her place 50 meters away stretching her hands that were wearing the sparring gauntlets. Same with the leg bracers.

“Oops, h-haha.” I had accidentally readied Eurval in my hands instead of the sparing bow.

Professor Eddy only looked at me funny.

“When your ready start the countdown, Lucid.”

[20..19…18…]

[START!]

I jumped back as far as my legs could take me. Shooting singular arrows as fast my hands could let me.

Swish.Swish.Swish.

The moment I landed I ran in a large circle around Mrs. Eddy to create more space. She was slower than I thought, slower than Eugene at least! Eurval’s overly showed her at 120 meters running at me like a bull.

Swish.Swish.Swish.

I kept shooting while running, dodging, and rolling to avoid the heavy shockwaves she shot at me with her fists.

“Good! Good! Lucid! You’ve improved from the video. You know creating space and time is your biggest win condition!”

That’s it! I hadn’t grasped the concept yet, but Mrs. Eddy put it into words. Space and time! That’s what I needed. Strength, explosive, or the piercing powers of my arrows where secondary.

I let out an excited smile. Unlike the cadets, she could finely tune her output and match me that’s why these fights where so tiresome for the cadets, but also meant you could learn so much from.

Boom!

She was faster of course as an equally experienced fighter. I took the blow to my stomach getting thrown back on the groud in front of her.

“If you’ve been closed in on, don’t try and fight the blow, let it take you further. Create space!”

I picked myself up. I guess these things only stop fatal damage. The soreness in my stomach wasn’t leaving. She was right I shouldn’t have tried to stand my ground.

Our fighting continued. It was overwhelming difficult my mind constantly on edge we were on equal footing her a fighter and me an archer.

“Aim for the thighs, or their feet slow them down and wear them out!”

Swish!

I GOT IT! The concussive explosion from the fire arrow knocked her shin back causing her to misstep and fall!

BOOM!

I shot another stronger arrow to her body as she fell. Of course, her body didn’t explode nor would have even it was me using with Eurval.

However. I won.

[Injury: Fatal

Area: Torso

Time: 00:08:34

18:1]

“Hoo, good you’ve learned something. Then I can bump my strength from someone weaker than you to equal.”

W-what.

[Good luck Lucid.]

I limped into the locker room and sat down letting out a groan. All my fatal injuries where gone, but my mind, my body, my mana body, I think my soul too they were all beat to shit.

I had gained some insights. Foremost the basics in combat as a bowman, second I needed to buy or find a bow-art that suited me, and lastly, I needed to keep essence training. Possibly start essence infusion, though I was a little apprehensive about it.

What if I get crucified outside the walls or jailed if they had some way to detect it.

[It is impossible unless you get caught in the act or you willingly admit it.But I do doubt you would be killed only exiled out of the city and Academy, maybe the nation.]

That’s equal to death for me!

“Whats with the face did was it that hard Lucid?”

“Of course not professor.”

“Please, you don’t have to be so formal just call me Mary or Baker.”

I felt a bit awkward being alone with her in the locker room. I could only hear the ventilation fan slowly turning.

Mary broke the silence.

“You should look into purchasing Mischief Rainer’s bow-art. I think it would suit you.” She spoke to me casually as she tapped on the black charm on her bracelet.

Instantly her armor disappeared revealing a layer of some kind of thin chainmail with sweatpants and a t-shirt underneath.

I thought it was a bit funny how grand her armor appeared, but underneath she wore something so casual. It made sense though.

“Did you hear me?”

“Why do you think it suits me?” I looked at her. Her casual gaze was sharp inline with the similarly sharp features of her face. I was curious. I also didn’t want to learn something useless.

“Nice, good question. Lets see.”

“Your mannerisms, the way you hold your bow while you run, and the thought process you have while you fight. All come together in a way I’ve seen bowmasters use Mischief Rainer’s.” She turned back to the mirror inside the locker while she spoke. Then tapped on the grey charm on her bracelet causing her usual black suit to appear on her.

She noticed those small details that in the battles? Its mostly a blur to me other than the major lessons I learned. I can see why many want to hire her as a tutor her lessons really are invaluable.

“I’ll look into it them. Actually I was planning on buying an art soon. So this is good to know, thank you.”

She gave me an approving nod.

“Good, good. Oh, and while I preached about not worrying about numbers during our first class. That shouldn’t apply to you right now your way too weak. But I can tell you’ve been essence training so I won’t say anything more.” Several magic circles appeared around her as she spoke causing the dirt and sweat in her hair to disappear leaving her clean as could be.

“Wait, when did you notice I was essence training?”

“By the second class, I could tell your body was different. You gait too.” She chuckled at me as she put on her leather gloves and did some final adjustments to her hair.

This was good information. I should have been taking advantage of all my classes like this.

“See you next week Lucid, and please take my words into consideration. I do think you have a natural talent for the bow.” She gave me a firm look then left the locker room.

I sunk into my chair after she left. I would need a little more rest. How are my auctions going Eurval?

[Nothing has sold yet, but its only been a day. If you want you can sell it wholesale if you need the money as soon as possible.]

I had placed a lot of the materials I had obtained for sale before I had fallen asleep. I was attacked with such a heavy drowsiness the moment I arrived back into my apartment yesterday,I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t even have the energy to try out Ulus’ Tea Time. I simply lustrated regularly and fell asleep.

After a final circulation of mana throughout my body, I felt I had the energy to leave for my next class.

The rest of the classes went without a hitch they still as distant as could be in terms of my understanding, but at least I was picking up things here and there.

Once my final course finished and I darted out of there and head to my apartment. I had ordered dinner before I left and saw the tiny robot waiting at my door. I smiled and at my good friend brought in the food as I entered.

[Good job today Lucid, you really learned a lot didn’t you. ]

Nothing beats learning from experience as they say.

I sat down and threw a couple of fries into my mouth. Today was fries, baked potatoes with cheese and bacon, fish and chips, and gravy slathered mashed potatoes. I was in a potato mood after all the exercise and death I suffered so early in the morning.

While I ate I opened up mtrade. Let’s see how much Mischief Rainer’s bow-art is. Listings began to pop up from a single seller.

[Arts and Magic an authorized reseller]

[Mischief Rainer’s Vol. 1-3: 999 sc]

[Mischief Rainer’s Vol. 4-7: 999,999 sc]

[Mischief Rainer’s Vol. 8-9: 999,999,999 sc]

[Mischief Rainer’s Vol. 10: Please contact us.]

[ALL SALES ARE FINAL, Secrecy oath must be sworn before final delivery, limit use of 1 person per copy.]

Oh boy. They really try to hook you in cheaply so they can milk you for the rest. I would do the same so I wasn’t feeling particularly bitter.

If I sell all the mons-hyre materials wholesale how much would I be looking at Eurval? My materials were not moving at all at market price.

[A reduction of maybe 30%-40% though I would expect no less than 2000 scales.]

That’s not so bad, let’s go that route. Sell them to a wholesaler.

[Done~ Lot sold for 2100 sc.]

Ding dong.

Always surprised how fast commerce moves in this world. I answered the door. It was a young man wearing a uniform reading “Hunter Materials Emporium.”

“Hi, are you sir Gracile? I’m here to pick up hyre materials.”

A list popped up in my vision.

[Rock Tortoise Beak]

[Rock Tortoise Heart]

[Crimson Tiger Fangs]

[Mud Snake Skin]

[Mud Snake eyes]

[Mud Snake Heart]

I looked over it and brought my hand up to take them out of my spatial ring.

“Nonono!” The man stopped me.

“Sorry, please hold your ring against mine and transfer it, sir.” He let out a breath seeing he caught me in time.

That’s cool. I chuckled nervously, I was about to summon a gigantic bloody heart and the other materials out in the hallway.

With our rings touching, I performed the same act of summoning but instead I felt them ‘move’ over into the other ring. The employee paused for a moment he was probably inspecting the materials inside his ring.

“Thank you for your business. I hope you will use us again sir Gracile and have a nice day!” With a blink, the man disappeared.

I closed the door but stayed by it, it was going to ring soon anyways. I was going to trust Mrs. Eddy’s word on her recommendation. It was a gut feeling that told me her experience and her recommendation was the best option for me.

[Thank you for purchasing Mischief Rainer’s Vol. 1-3.]

Ding dong.

I immediately opened the door. I laughed little inside my head. I could tell the spatial mage was surprised by how fast I opened the door.

“Ahem, Hi are you Lucid Gracile. I have a copy of Mischief Rainer’s Vol. 1-3.”

I nodded.

“Good, once you recite the oath I will be able to hand you the copy.”

Firey text appeared above a blood red stone tablet in he brought out in his hand.

[I, *YOUR NAME*, swear to not divulge the contents of the book nor teach non-owners of a copy the bow-arts contained within Mischief Rainer’s Vol. 1-3.]

I recanted the oath word for word replacing *YOUR NAME* with Lucid Gracile of course.

“Thank you for your business here is your copy. I hope you have a pleasant day!” Much like all the spatial mages, he dispersed in a blink after handing me the green leather-bound book.

Maybe in the future once I’m developed far enough in magic or bow-arts I will develop my own, but for now…

I was excited to read it.


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Flower
pp

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