Ayrin got out of bed before the sun rose, just as he usually did back in Holy Dawn Academy.
After a simple wash, he immediately started doing various stretches, then began a series of basic physical exercises.
After being treated for more than ten days, he already looked like an ordinary person on the surface. There were even no scars left on his skin thanks to his astounding regenerative abilities.
Only, Ayrin could tell his body was much stiffer than before. Many movements and postures that would have been easy for him before were simply impossible now. Even his physical strength seemed to have regressed.
However, though he was still forbidden from condensing arcane particles, he could at least do these basic exercises and start to improve again on his body and strength. He wasn’t bored anymore.
He’d worked up a good sweat after two hours of uninterrupted training. His looked faintly burned red, as though his skin had been scorched by fire.
Ayrin stopped, gasped for air, then emptied two bottles of medicine sitting by his bed after he’d stopped sweating. Then he inside the pool that could be filled with hot water, and took a steaming bath.
He heard a knock at the door after changing into a clean infirmary gown and resting for perhaps ten minutes. Cana came in, pushing a dining car in front of her, making her appearance right on time.
“Your complexion looks very good.”
Looking at Ayrin’s rosy cheeks, Cana greeted him with a smile. “How do you feel today?”
“Much better than yesterday. The stiffness should be totally gone in two or three days.” Ayrin didn’t hesitate to pick up one nutritional meal after another from the dining car. Then he started to eat.
“We’ll proceed to another body test after the stiffness goes away for good. If everything goes well, you should be able to condense arcane particles and undergo some high-intensity training, as well as practice with arcane skills, so that your body can return to its peak condition.” Cana handed Ayrin a letter with a smile. “Charlotte’s reply came back again. There’s another good news today. Songat said you can open the windows now and get used to the air outside.”
“Is that so?”
An excited Ayrin immediately hopped beside the windows in excitement and opened the double-layered windows.
A chilliness made him shiver all of a sudden. Many little goosebumps formed on his skin.
He deeply breathed in the slightly chilly air, as though he were infatuated with it. Though his lungs seemed to prick with slight pain from this feeling he was a little unaccustomed to, he still turned around and cheerfully said to Cana, “Teacher Cana, it seems a lot colder.”
“It’s really a lot colder, it’s not your imagination. Eichemalar always becomes colder this time of the year, every time without fail. It’s already fall now. Plus, Eichemalar hangs high in the air to begin with. They’d selected a spot without too much wind back then when they first built it, but the cold will still be very obvious,” Cana explained patiently, looking at Ayrin,
Ayrin’s ability to adapt and recover was obviously even better than she’d anticipated.
She went out of the room after leaving Ayrin with her instructions. Meanwhile, Ayrin read Charlotte’s letter while eating at the same time, just as he’d done during the past few days.
“She hadn’t mentioned it in the past few days, I also forgot… Today’s the day Dragon Breath Academy’s group one and Abel Academy’s group two are fighting. Tomorrow’s already the day the match between our academy and Rapier Academy takes place. Damn it, I might not make it back even for the match against team Silver Trout at this rate.
“That said, Chris and Moss and the others will definitely become victorious and wait for my return.
“Wait for me to come back! I’m already stronger now. Our goal is to win the national crown!”
After reading Charlotte’s letter, he looked out the windows and took a long, deep breath. He clenched his fist, his mien overflowing with confidence.
When autumn started its slow but inexorable descent on Eichemalar, the interrupted Hegemonical Cup of Starry Skies Academy Braves resumed once more.
Groups one and two, upper half, were the ones fighting on the first day. “Heavy Fist King” Gaskin, the first one Dragon Breath Academy sent out to fight, directly defeated all five members of the opposite team all by himself, easily winning the confrontation. Due to Hellfire Academy’s forfeiture, the other team in the same group directly advanced to the next round.
Without the threat that was Lotton, there was no doubt left Dragon Breath Academy would qualify out of group one.
In group two, Abel Academy had lost one of its main members in Massay, and their morale had obviously taken a great hit as well. But in a monster-level team like Abel Academy, the other four main members were all existences at the same level as Massay, so they also directly beat Linnpark Academy five nil thanks to the performance of a single member, “Fire Madman” Lucian.
Compared to these two groups without the slightest suspense, the matches on the second day had more appeal for the crowd of spectators.
Because everyone had their own guess as to whether the Ayrin who’d shown an exceptionally odd performance in the tournament previously would make his return. Or perhaps, one could say they were actively looking forward to his return.
“Is Ayrin making his comeback?”
“Did this hardest-to-read arcane master recover from his injuries yet?”
Breith Magazine was also fanning the flames with headlines like these.
“They’re coming out!”
“Team Holy Dawn is here!”
Half an hour before the start of the match, team Holy Dawn’s apparition in the field created an instant commotion.
“Ayrin isn’t here!”
“Just like the rumors said, Ayrin’s injuries are too heavy, so he has to be absent from the match.”
After making sure they couldn’t see Ayrin in team Holy Dawn, sighs of regret instantly rose in the plaza.
When they made their way inside the Arena of Fire and Blood through the tunnel reserved for participants, Chris suddenly whispered to Moss, “Moss, Ayrin isn’t back yet, so we must fight even hard… We definitely can’t lose before he comes back.”
Moss looked distracted for a moment.
“If we lose before this guy comes back, he’s probably going to mock me for the entire year, isn’t he?”
“We definitely can’t lose, not even against Silver Trout!”
The scenes of training from these past few days emerged in Moss mind in spite of himself.
“Moss, the innate talent of your bloodline is actually outstanding as well. So, even though it hasn’t been long since you Awakened, as long as you’re determined to become a genuine brave warrior, as long as you’re willing to train to the limit of your ability, putting your life on the line, then you’re also bound to make everyone stunned with your progress, just like Ayrin.”
Inside a training gym inside the athlete village, Carter looked at Moss and slowly said, “After one match, you should already have totally understood how to call upon every ounce from the power of your bloodline.”
Moss thought a moment then nodded, looking pretty serious. “I can transform on my own volition as long as someone insults me and my mother.”
“That means you understand your mother very well and love her very much. Ever since your childhood, you must have heard too many people slandering and vilifying her, so in the deepest part of your subconscious mind… Even when you desperately strive to train and fight, to prove yourself, it’s all for the sake of making her happy, because you want to protect her.”
Carter looked at Moss, quietly saying, his tone serious, “To prove yourself, to change everyone’s opinion about her, this is your current dream… Now that you’ve understood what you want to do, the reason you’re fighting, it shouldn’t be hard for you to transform on your own volition.”
Moss nodded, a faint urge to cry rising in his chest: “I should be able to do it.”
“But it’s not enough.” Carter patted his shoulder with a faint smile.
“Not enough?” Moss looked up at Carter, a little dumbstruck.
“Follow me.” With a slight smile, Carter led the way.
“Salamander Training Gym?”
Very quickly, Carter brought Moss to a rectangular training building. Seeing this building’s name, this training place suddenly gave Moss a very different feeling from an ordinary gym. He seemed to hear countless tiny sounds, as well as gusts of a breeze carrying a fishy smell.
Moss’ hair almost immediately stood up on end as soon as he entered this training building.
He saw a long, deep pit inside, and the bottom of this pit was covered in poisonous reptiles!
The mere sight of the forked tongue spitting out of these reptiles and their dark eerie eyes drenched Moss in cold sweat in spite of himself.
“Teacher Carter, what kind of exercise did you bring me here for?”
“Jump from here to the other side.” Carter stretched his finger and pointed at the other side of the pit, saying, very simple and very straightforward, “You’ll fall down in there if you can’t make it. The salamanders are poisonous enough to be mortal. The Salamander Pit is a training field that uses the most genuine threat of death to bring out all the potential in an arcane master.”
Moss’s legs immediately started to shake. He looked at the spot that seemed infinitely far away in his eyes. Even his teeth start to clack. “This pit is so long… Teacher Carter, with my current strength, there’s no way I can jump so far. There’s no way I can make the jump!
“I… I… With my normal level, I can jump half the distance at most!” Looking again at the size of the deep pit, Moss started shouting nonstop, “Even of this method can thoroughly stimulate potential, it still can’t make me jump twice as far! I’ll definitely fall down in there!”
“No. There’s a way that can make you jump that far.”
Carter looked at Moss, looked at this red-haired kid whose natural disposition was in fact a little cowardly, but who still had to courage to continue the fight against a formidable enemy even while trembling from head to toe. He shook his head with a smile. “For people with bloodlines like yours, the greatest advantage isn’t in fact to quickly launch Multi-Sizing and Fury before the fight, but to freely alternate between two forms.”
“Freely alternate between two forms?” Moss looked at him, still confused.
Carter casually squatted down, then drew a big man and a small man on the ground with a small stone.
“A great amount of arcane energy combines with your body after you use Multi-Sizing and Fury. Your body’s strength becomes explosive, your skin becomes hard as stone, your ability to withstand blows from your opponents increases by a wide margin. But at the same time, your body also becomes huge and heavy.”
Then Carter looked at him and slowly said, “This way, you’ll become a compact bundle of strength, but the weakness is that your speed and agility are lacking. Also, your frame becomes huge. Your resistance might be enhanced, but in the course of attacking your opponent, due to your lack of speed and agility, it’s very easy for the opponent to land his arcane skills on you. Even if they can’t make you fall back or cause you heavy injuries because of your ‘Flame Rock’ skin, they can still very easily slow you down even further, or maybe confine you.”
“However, just think about it.” Carter pointed at the big man and the small man he’d drawn. “Let me start from the simplest example. Say you’re a giant before jumping, making your strength surge many times over, but when you take off, your frame suddenly shrinks and makes the arcane energy combining with your body suddenly separate from you…
“Your body’s still incomparably heavy when you’re pushing on your legs, but when you’re leaping off the ground, your body suddenly becomes light. How far will you sail through the air then? Such enormous explosiveness applied to your tiny body, what kind of speed will you be able to reach with it?”
“Teacher Carter…!” Moss’ eyes widened all of a sudden. His breathing had also completely stopped. There was the feeling of an electric spark in his heart; he’d immediately understood the main points!
“Enlarge, explode, shrink… If you can freely do that, if you can freely switch at will between these two forms, then you can easily jump across,” Carter looked at him and said with a smile.
“This Salamander Pit can stimulate you into achieving this sort of progress. And in a match or in a fight, you’ll have many more possible combinations available to you with this ability. Just imagine, you enlarge and erupt with explosive strength, then instantly shrink when you jump, but when you land, you suddenly call upon your Multi-Sizing and Fury once more. How much arcane energy will suddenly rush to you from all sides and combine with you then, and make your boy become incomparably heavy once again? You’ll smash down like a little hill. Can you see the scene?
“Also, you can casually regulate your own weight while in the middle of the jump. You can alternate at will and make your movements as unpredictable as you want. It’ll be very difficult for the opponent to land an arcane skill on you then.”
“I understand now, teacher Carter!” Sweat poured from every pore on Moss’s skin. Only, he was sweating out excitement and because of his will for war, rather than shaking in fear.
“If you understand, then do it now.” Carter looked at the reptile pit in front of him, a smile floating on his lips again. “My final advice to you is, if you fail once or twice during training, then it’d be best if you could maintain the heavy shape of a small hill before you fall down. When you’re covered with ‘Flame Rock’ skin, the salamanders might not be able to bite you. Otherwise, you’re in for a real miserable treat.”