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13 What about the hard training?

"Every calamity can turn into a chance. In adversity, like in every single particle of the world, good and bad coexist. Absolute evil does not exist, as does not exists absolute good. Evil has always tempered the heart of the strong and shattered that of the weak. Heroes are born in troublesome times and from extreme evils, never from a comfortable life."

Fragment from an ancient volume stored at the Library of Linendouce.

"What the fuck…" swore Helial. He had a very bad feeling. Since he had gotten that Longsword, things had gone for the worse. He was very worried. Was that going to be another disaster?

He looked carefully at the weapon. It really seemed it had sunk a couple of inches into the grass.

"What's happening?" wondered Helial. "This Longsword must weight 4 or 5 pounds at most… why did it sunk so low? I hope it didn't…"

Helial shivered. A weapon could not gain weight of its own will! He sighed, getting ready to lift the sword from the ground. He could have tried to use Mana Scan on the weapon, but he was afraid about it backfiring. He had already witnessed how little the Longsword liked invasive scans. The only thing he could do was checking how heavy it had become.

He grasped the hilt tightly and pulled.

NGHHHHH

He barely managed to lift it before sprawling face down on the ground, Longsword and all.

SHIT, he thought. Now it must have weighed approximately a hundred pounds. It wouldn't be a problem if he could rely on his old Stats. But now his strength was twenty times less what it used to be and he could lift 20 pounds at most. Even lifting the boulder he had to move in front of the cave to hide himself and Lumia had been a great effort, and that thing must have weighed 30 pounds.

Unable to store Curse of the Demon in the Inventory.

Great.

Now he couldn't store it in the Inventory. He couldn't carry it. Now what? Should he leave it there? He couldn't. That damn Longsword had to be examined by an expert in Curses.

Helial had fallen flat on his ass again. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He tried to lift the Longsword again, but with little enthusiasm. Even so, it was a huge effort and his knuckles were all white. The weapon hadn't left the ground, only the hilt had been lifted by a couple of inches. That small movement was taking much more energy that it should have.

If we go on like this, this big pile of black shit will get me killed.

Helial was frustrated. He was already a couple of miles away from the cave where Lumia was waiting for him. How could he take the Longsword back? It was too heavy, he couldn't move as swiftly as before and, more importantly, he couldn't leave the weapon there, because the Goblin would have taken it for use and used it to their own advantage. After all, a hundred pounds were no big deal for a normal person, let alone for a Goblin.

Helial was now kneeling, his hands gripping the hilt of the sword even more tightly, so much that they had turned completely white. A large vein was pulsing visibly in Helial's neck, while his eyes shone with an insane glow. He stood up without letting go of the hilt. He couldn't let go. Most of it was still lying on the ground. Helial bent the knees, trying to stabilize himself. He had no intention of falling flat on his ass again.

He inhaled deeply. With his eyes closed, he started to absorb Mana from his surroundings, using his Breathing Technique. This helped him to relax.

As the Mana Energy entered his Meridians and flowed until his Seed, he started feeling part of the world surrounding him.

***

A couple of years earlier

"Please Master, hurry up. I must go back to the village, I have stuff to do", grumbled Helial, complaining about the talkativeness of Vidio.

Since he had arrived there, the man found solace in the memories of his past life in the luxury of the capital. He used to associate with the nobilities and the most beautiful ladies in town. In his youth, he had been an exceptional student, despite his character. No one thought that a lustful womanizer like him could actually be a great warrior. In fact, Vidio had fought very rarely on a real battle ground and up until now, he had never took part in a full-scale war.

Aside from some conflicts against humanoid creatures, the Nation of Fiercelake had established a strong predominance on his territories and had never had problems in managing them. The warring period was a thing of the past and they hadn't seen a real war in centuries. Everyone was at peace.

Maybe that was what prevented Vidio from going beyond the Second Phase. Technically speaking, reaching the Second Phase at 20 years of age was a great achievement that only really talented practitioners could obtain. But after that, Vidio had not made any further progress. He had never felt the need to become stronger.

At 25 years old he had become Master of the Congregation. He was First Degree Master. It was not a very prestigious position, but becoming Master at such a young age was not that easy. Actually, he had been the youngest Master in the history of the Nation of Fiercelake. He had a bright future ahead. Second Phase at 20 and Master at 25, such a genius could only be expected to achieve great things. Nevertheless, Vidio had been stuck halfway through the Second Phase for more than 20 years. And for more than 10 years he had been stuck in Floralivory.

Talent without ambition is like a royal eagle with no wings.

Most of the First Degree Masters in the Nation of Fiercelake were around thirty years old.

Vidio had become friends with two very powerful Third Degree Masters. To become Third Degree Master one had to be at least in the Fourth Phase, so it could be easily understood how difficult it was to reach such a level. Practitioners in the Fourth Phase were all leading figures in society and even though they were not the most important people in the Nation, they were also not to be underestimated. Besides, two people in the Forth Phase, who also were Second Degree Masters, must be out of the ordinary.

In the course of many years, Vidio had gained a vast knowledge on Mana Skills.

"Alright, alright. Listen boy, let's finish this lesson quickly. I was explaining to you the various uses of Mana. Mana is mainly used to power the Skills that we're able to develop through our Meridians. As I've already explained last time, you can give Mana different characteristics by flowing it through specific Meridians: you can make it violent or mellow, you can create attraction or repulsion force fields. Once Mana acquires different characteristics inside your Meridians, you can use it in the outside world, through movements, gestures and hand seals. You can even use it to create Spells and Magic, but the Mana Congregation is more interested in Skills that directly exploit Mana Energy, without any need for spells", explained Vidio, with plenty of details.

" The difference between what is called a Spell and a Skill is not very marked. Actually, Spells too are Skills, but they make use of unmolded natural forces, unlike the Skills that the members of the Congregation use. For example, I would use my spear and Meridians to activate a Lightning Attribute Skill. On the other hand, someone more focused on Spells, or as they are called, Elementals, would rather use a catalyst instead of a real weapon.

"Catalysts are objects without any special offensive attributes, which are able to increase the power of some elements, thus letting Mana better flow in some Meridians. This makes it possible to use long-range Skills that do not require direct combat.

"People are able to channel Mana Energy and exploit it to use Skills, the most basic of which have Energy as a direct source. For example, I could use my Mana to generate a shield of pure Energy, but it wouldn't be as effective as a Skill that is created by exploiting the different characteristics of Mana. For instance, Rock Shield Skill uses Mana to amplify the Energy present in the ground; through this Skill it is possible to generate a powerful rock barrier imbued with Mana, far more effective than a direct use of the Skill. Are you following?"

Helial was listening to Vidio with a look of deep concentration on his face. The Master was guiding him on the Dao of Mana and Helial didn't dare to miss one single word of it.

"So it's possible to apply Mana to objects and to everything that surrounds us at large?" asked Helial intrigued.

"Yes. But it's not as simple as you make it sound. Instill Mana in Elements is not easy. But it is thanks to these elements that it is possible to create Skills based on Affinity, way more powerful than the Skills made of unrefined Mana. The difference between these two uses of Mana is the same there is between a sword and an iron bar. The bar con harm you and has the same weight of the sword, but if you mold the iron and make it sharp then it will become ten times as lethal.

"Mana Energy can be used to increase one's own physical abilities, like Strength and Dexterity. By instilling muscles with Mana, one can reach exceptional results. In order to do this, you'll need Autobuff Skills."

Helial began to understand the importance of mastering an Affinity… But Vidio still had to give him information on this matter.

***

In the present

Despite the fact that Vidio's specialty was Offensive Skills, he had never taught them to Helial.

Helial started pondering his situation. He desperately needed an Autobuff Skill to carry the Longsword, but how long was it going to take to develop one? First of all, he had no idea where to start. He wasn't an all-knowing creature; if he had to develop one by trial and error he could get seriously injured and he couldn't risk that, having to take care of Lumia.

If only Vidio ha taught me a useful Skill…

Helial put on a brave face and began to slowly drag the Longsword through the forest, ignoring the trail that he was leaving behind in the tall grass. It was hell at each step. The Longsword was definitely too heavy for him. It was as if a ten-year-old girl were trying to drag a one-hundred-pound rock from one side of the forest to the other.

A couple of hours had gone by and Helial still had a long way to go. At that rate, it would probably take him 8 to 9 hours.

His sore muscles were begging for mercy. He could barely muster enough strength to take tiny little steps. Sweat was covering his forehead, running down his temples right in his eyes, where it stung like hell.

Helial was tired, exhausted. At that rate he was not going to make it, unless he stopped to rest.

Skill Activated:

Mana Reflowing

Lv 6

Grade: Brown

The Mana power flows through your body and heals minor wounds.

The Mana power purifies the body.

Detox power 2%

Cost: 30 Mana/Sec

Exp: 67,3%

Helial felt regenerated by Mana, which was not only healing the minor wounds suffered while dragging the Longsword, it was also alleviating the soreness in his muscles. Helial wanted to slap himself, why did he think of that earlier? After all, tiredness is caused by weariness in the muscles. If he could use all his Mana to regenerate his muscles, he could have kept walking.

You gained 2 Strength Points!

You gained 2 Vigor Points!

What? Why…

Usually it took Helial a harsh physical training to get a few Stat Points; one or two meagre points could cost him a great effort. When he trained in the clearing with the rocks, in one night he could gain one or two points at most. During the last year, it even happen to him to not gain any points at all! But now he had gained two points in a matter of hours…
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