“Knock knock knock…”
In the quiet athlete village, there was a sudden clear knock at the door.
Immersed in a thick book, professor Plum lifted his head and said, facing the door, “Come in.”
The unlocked door creaked open. Ayrin smiled, a little embarrassed. “Sure enough, you’re here, professor Plum.”
Professor Plum looked at Ayrin’s arms swollen like two radishes and said, deadpan, “What happened to your arms? You can still knock with arms swollen like these?”
“They became like that after taking blows from my opponent in the match.” Ayrin used the tip of his foot and softly knocked on the door. Knock knock knock. “I tapped on the door with my foot.”
Professor Plum still wore an expressionless face. “Did you learn the two skills I gave you last time? Is the match over?”
“Yes.” Ayrin kept nodding. He said, his voice happy, “We won!”
“It’s just a victory against a team at Mountain Kings Academy’s level. What’s there to be excited about?” Professor Plum looked at him, chiding him with a few words in a rigid voice, then asked again, “Why did today’s match finish so early?”
“It’s not that. For our match against team Mountain Kings, we swapped the order with another match today. We were the first ones to finish, and after us, the fight between Silver Trout Academy and Longtable Academy is also over. That said, there’s a very strange freshman who appeared in Silver Trout. He defeated four contestants from Longtable Academy all by himself, just by using a single arcane skill. Even Longtable’s captain directly forfeited. Even teacher Carter never saw that arcane skill before, so he let me come see you first.” Ayrin explained quickly, more and more excited as he spoke. He couldn’t hold back his shout: “The one called Shinro, his arcane skill is really awesome, it’s impossible to get a clear glimpse of it. His charge reaches his opponent as soon as his opponent manages to invoke a defensive skill, and he directly sends his opponent flying.”
“No need to make a fuss about trifles.” Professor Plum closed the book in his hands, looking a little annoyed. “Is it the kind you simply can’t see, that immediately reaches the opponent and sends him flying, and even the opponent’s defensive skill can’t follow its speed?”
Ayrin nodded, a little embarrassed. “It is.”
Professor Plum muttered quietly, “Did you see any light from arcane particles flowing outside?”
Ayrin shook his head. “I didn’t. I didn’t even see any gust of wind. Also, teacher Carter thinks he’s a two-gates arcane master at most.”
“It must be Lusinger’s Divine Restriction – Void Assault. A skill that attacks at a speed surpassing the reaction speed of the visual nerves,” professor Plum immediately said.
Ayrin asked, “Lusinger? Who’s that?”
Professor Plum frowned. “One of the strongest arcane masters in House Tully forty years ago. He died of illness five years ago. Back then, he was one of those entitled to the name of a Shadowdancer.”
Ayrin was very curious: “What’s a Shadowdancer?”
Professor Plum felt some pain on his forehead. He patted it, then said, “Nowadays, arcane masters specializing in killing skills, hidden skills, and remote assassination skills, they’re customarily called shadow masters. These arcane masters usually hide themselves and use the terrain, darkness, and shadows to their advantage as much as possible. Those publicly recognized as the strongest powerhouses among the shadow masters are called Shadowdancers, meaning they dance in darkness and shadows, making that world their own. In the whole of Doraster, there has always been only a dozen persons entitled to the name of a Shadowdancer.”
“Amazing!” Ayrin was even more excited. “Then this arcane skill of his, what secret is there to it?”
“It’s a domain-type taboo skill. It alters the elemental powers within a certain space. In the space he alters, he can move without much air resistance and friction, and the entire space will also push all his movements. That’s why he can reach such extreme speed.” Professor Plum looked at Ayrin. “Without getting into the theory, to put it simply, it’s just an arcane skill that pursues pure speed. He can rush in front of you, behind, to the left or to the right, anywhere around you. Also, this arcane skill can launch arcane particles in advance and save the power of the altered domain inside the body, pursuing the apex of invocation speed.”
“Is there any arcane skill that can restrict this skill then?” Ayrin looked eagerly at professor Plum. “Professor Plum, according to the drawing, our last fight in the group will be against Silver Trout Academy. The reason why teacher Carter told me to find you so urgently must be because he feels that time is very pressing, that we can’t waste any of it.”
“Flustered! Whether an arcane skill can be learned or not, is it a matter that can be decided by a few more hours, by a day or two? Those who can learn it will learn it, those who can’t won’t.” Professor Plum chided with an expressionless face.
He thought in silence for a moment, then he rummaged through a box not far behind him and took out a scroll. “Note down the content inside, you’re not allowed to take the scroll away.”
Ayrin struggled very hard and opened it with his swollen arms. He read it, full of excitement, but then became dismayed. “Professor Plum, is there another skill?”
Professor Plum’s expressionless face looked back at him. “Why?”
“Can this arcane skill really counter him?” Ayrin couldn’t stop himself from saying.
“Naturally.” Professor Plum glanced once again at his swollen arms. “With his arcane level, he can launch this skill at most five or six times. With your ability to endure blows, added to an arcane skill like this that can help you resist injuries, you’ll definitely be able to withstand it. And that’s even without taking into account your innate ability to absorb arcane particles.”
“But, to eat blows without answering back, that’s something very depressing.” Ayrin looked at Professor Plum, expectation written all over his face.
Professor Plum didn’t get angry. Instead, he thought again for a few seconds.
“This one then.”
He rummaged again in the box and took out another scroll, one even more ancient-looking, then gave it to Ayrin.
“Tears of the Dark Goddess?”
Resisting the pain in his arms, Ayrin unrolled the scroll and read it aloud in spite of himself.
“No matter how fast your opponent, as long as you can clearly see his movements, then of course you’ll have an opportunity to strike back.”
“Is this an eye skill that can stimulate the nerves in the eyes and the brain, that’ll make the scene in front of the eyes seem as if everything’s going slower?”
“More or less. Only, it has some sequelae, you’ll be left with some dizziness and blurry vision for a couple days after using it.”
“Just some dizziness and blurriness for a couple days, that’s not an issue,” Ayrin shouted in excitement. “Professor Plum, can I learn both these skills?”
“Ok.” Professor Plum merely nodded his head in a simple fashion. He let him go sit in a corner and go study them. When Ayrin obediently sat down, his eyes fell on the book in his hands.
In his hands was an ancient text he’d borrowed not long ago from the most ancient elven store in Eichemalar. It had a very long name: “The ultimate battle in the War of the Dragons, a memoir by Ruin Master Steven.”
“If you can learn even these two ancient skills that belong respectively to the dragon clan and the dark elves’ kingdom, then concerning your bloodline, there’d be only one final possibility left.”
This old, wrinkled arcane master lightly tapped his fingers on the page, such a voice reverberating in his mind.
“In the national tournament, each fighter’s indeed more powerful than the last.”
“I Awakened late, so I need to work even harder to catch up to them.” Such a voice resonated in Ayrin’s mind.
While he was busy carefully analyzing the two new arcane skills, a middle-aged man with disheveled golden hair walked inside a clockwork shop in Eichemalar’s eastern area, two attendants in tow.
This store sold antiques from the era of the War of the Dragons, with clockwork items as the main theme.
Inside the display windows on both sides of the deep-blue glass door , there were two clockwork soldiers as tall as half a grown man, a huge shield and an ax in their hands, uncommon arcane-resistant crystals inlaid in their bodies. With a mere glance, one could tell they were those formidable clockwork soldiers as strong as elite arcane masters from that legendary era.
It was only a pity the two clockwork soldiers were damaged. Inside the cracks on their backs and the sides of their heads, one could see many fractured springs and gears inside.
But the more one looked at the components inside, the springs big and small still without the slightest trace of rust on them, still twinkling with a dark light, the more one sighed in admiration at the frightening craftsmanship of those mountain dwarf master craftsmen.
“Seven hundred gold coins.” The price inside the display windows was also sufficient proof of how much people appreciated them nowadays.
“What breathtaking craftsmanship, what a wonderful era.”
When this golden-haired middle-aged man of seemingly very lofty status walked inside the deep-blue glass door, he sighed in lament at the sight of these two clockwork soldiers.
When he came inside, when his body was no longer illuminated by the sunlight, this man’s eyes flashed with an ashen-gray luster.
The boss of this store was a tall and skinny man enveloped in a green, high-necked arcane master robe in the antique style from the Era of the Dragons. Even though his back was bent, he was still half a head taller than ordinary men. His face brimmed with shrewdness, his hair kept even neater and glossier than many a steward from noble houses.
This shop owner bowed down in extreme shock when he heard this golden-haired man’s voice. He slightly raised his head, subconsciously doubtful in his mind. Because the man he knew should have had long silver-white hair. But his doubts vanished when he saw the ashen-gray luster glinting in the man’s eyes. He realized the other man had merely somewhat altered his appearance on purpose.
“Lord Dias, why did your honored self come here in person? Don’t you think it’s dangerous?”
He lowered his head, even more terrified, his entire person trembling with reverence and fear.
“Danger? Half the elite masters of the kingdom are after me, when have I ever been out of danger?” As if ruminating, this middle-aged man took a purple witch crystal ball from the display window at the side and played with it in his hands. “Only, is there anyone else as familiar as me with every stone and every tree in Eichemalar?”
Bowed down, his head lowered, the shop owner suddenly shook from head to toe. He seemed to have heard something from those words, but didn’t ask any further question. He merely said in a quiet, trembling voice filled with fear and longing, “Lord Dias, your servant awaits your instructions.”