Ferguillo stood in a very dark training gym. A dozen war golems lay around him, their broken springs and gears scattered all over the ground.
He panted hard, his arms twitching a little. He’d clearly gone beyond the limits of his stamina. Like slithering earthworms, sweat glided down his somewhat wan skin.
Without a sound, a strange man came out from the shadows. His hair was disheveled, and he wore a white wooden mask over his face. He observed Ferguillo for a moment, then suddenly asked, “Do you know why I made you fight clockwork golems nonstop for the past few days?”
“Because these clockwork golems merely emulate arcane skills. What looks like the power of arcane skills is merely the release of the leftover arcane energy from the magic crystals inside. So I can’t use my Mind Reading on them,” Ferguillo said.
“And so?” the strange masked man asked.
“So?” Ferguillo blinked, a little confused by what the strange masked man meant.
The strange masked man didn’t say anything. He merely watched him in silence.
“What you mean is… I shouldn’t always rely on Mind Reading?” Ferguillo said after thinking for a moment.
“I heard that Chris already defeated you back in St. Lauren,” the strange masked man said, his voice calm and indifferent. “In fact, you don’t even need someone like her who trained her physical movements to the level of instinctual reaction. Your Mind Reading would be mostly useless even against an opponent with merely a fast skill-launching speed. It will only waste your mental strength and arcane particles instead. Also, your so-called Mind Reading is merely the gift of your bloodline. It’s merely an outstanding perception when you focus your spirit in your left eye.”
“I still don’t understand what you mean,” Ferguillo said after a moment of hesitation.
“You still don’t understand?” The strange masked man looked at him. “The strongest bloodline talent in House Baratheon is the Storm Eye. In fact, the lens of their eye is simply made of dragon crystal. That’s why, for centuries, for millennia, they did everything possible to bring out the power of their bloodline, did everything possible to bring out the power of the Storm Eye. You don’t have the Storm Eye, but your strongest bloodline talents are the Undying Body and the exceptional spiritual sensitivity of your left eye. What you need to do is of course to bring out the power of these two gifts as much as possible.
“But who would have thought that the only use you made of the exceptional sensitivity of your left eye was to learn Mind Reading,” the strange masked man added after a pause, together with a cold laughter. “What a total waste! With your present level, a genuine powerful master only needs to create a feint with muscle control and by manipulating the flowing of arcane particles to fool your judgment. Haven’t you realized it yet? Just like how a clockwork golem’s movements come from the motions of its springs and gears, the flashes and rhythms of the nerves is the fundamental basis for every movement of a living body. With such an outstanding sensitivity like yours, it’s not impossible for you to perceive the flashes of the nerves as long as you focus your training in that direction. If you could do that, would you still need to try to determine your opponent’s next action? There are so many offensive mental skills on Doraster, don’t tell me there aren’t any that can directly block the commands sent by the nerves?”
“Petrifying Eye!” Ferguillo breathed out two words as though he couldn’t stop himself.
“Death’s Sacrifice together with Petrifying Eye should be the strongest taboo combination for someone with a bloodline variant like yours,” the strange masked man said. “If you think that what I just said makes sense, then stop wasting so much time and effort on Mind Reading and those other useless skills.”
“Many thanks for your guidance, senior.” Ferguillo took a deep breath, his face quickly calming down. “That said, who on earth are you… Why did you specifically direct my training in the infirmary?”
“You’re not House Baratheon’s only enemy. Neither are you the only one expelled from the clan simply because the clan deemed your bloodline variation impure,” the strange masked man said.
“So, you too are also…” Ferguillo froze.
“My bloodline variant is merely different from yours,” the strange masked man said. He didn’t sound all that impressed with Ferguillo’s understanding.
“In your current physical state, you could have left this place five days ago already. That’s why I already told Songat that you can leave the infirmary any time you choose, starting from now.”
This arcane master who’d already trained Ferguillo for five days turned around and left the training hall, but he suddenly halted his steps when he reached the doorway. He said, “I forgot to tell you something. In the match this morning, Golden Stag Academy already defeated Hawkmoon Academy and made it to the last eight. Rinsyi even decided to be the first one to fight. He dispatched the first three fighters from Hawkmoon all by himself, and forced the fourth one to use more than half his arcane particles. Then he just forfeited without a single scratch on him.”
Ferguillo didn’t seem surprised in the least. He merely asked, “What about the match yesterday between Holy Dawn Academy and Silver Trout Academy then?”
“Holy Dawn Academy won.” Ferguillo would hear about the course of that match in great detail as soon as he left the infirmary anyway, so this strange man with the white wooden mask didn’t want to waste too many words. He simply told him the result. But after striding a couple steps away, he actually added, “That Chris is very powerful, and she’ll be even more powerful in the future.”
Thinking he would hear Ayrin’s name instead, Ferguillo froze again.
When the strange masked man totally vanished from the doorway, Ferguillo said to himself, “You guys really did it, you made it to the last eight…” His voice was placid, but a certain light that couldn’t be seen usually shone in his eyes.
On the roof of the hotel where Charlotte and Ivan and the others lived, as the sun set in the west, Charlotte looked at Ayrin beside her, then looked at the copy of Breith Magazine in her hand, and couldn’t help but say, “Are you really letting Stingham fight in second position next time? That guy’s a real idiot though, he actually told that to the reporters from Breith Magazine.”
“It doesn’t matter anyway. The louder this guy talks about it, the less people will believe him,” Ayrin said with a chuckle.
A golden halo surrounded Charlotte under the setting sunlight. As she looked into Ayrin’s curved, smiling eyes, she said in a sudden fit of courage, “Ayrin, come closer. Also, close your eyes.”
Ayrin immediately understood what Charlotte meant. His eyes went wide. “Charlotte, are you going to kiss me?”
Charlotte became a little angry and embarrassed all of a sudden after hearing Ayrin’s blunt and totally unromantic reply. She’d even finally managed to summon her courage too! “Do you want to or not!”
“I think it’s best not to,” Ayrin said, scratching his head, his cheeks a little red.
“What?!” Charlotte suddenly shouted in disbelief. “Did you hook up with some nurse back in the infirmary? Even saying you don’t want me to…”
“It’s not that,” Ayrin hurried to say, looking even more embarrassed. “It’s because Teacher Liszt is worried something might happen to me, so Teacher Songat has been protecting me from the shadows for these past few days. I’m afraid he’ll see us. Plus, it’s a really bad time right now…”
Charlotte finally noticed Ayrin looking somewhere behind herself.
“Could it be Wilde and the others?! Didn’t they say they weren’t going to come and spy on us!”
Charlotte instantly turned around, a little mad, but she froze the moment she recognized that person’s face. Then she flushed bright red. “Fe… Ferguillo?”
“Wilde and the others told me Ayrin was upstairs… Did I barge in at a bad time?” Ferguillo said, a little awkward.
“Haha!” From somewhere not far away downstairs, they heard Wilde and the others laughing out loudly as if they pulled off some evil trick.
“That bunch of rascals, I’m going to kill them!”
Charlotte ground her teeth in anger, stamped her feet, cast her eyes down, then left downstairs.
Ayrin scratched his head and let out a couple silly chuckles, then patted Ferguillo’s shoulder, looking very happy. “You finally came out of the infirmary?”
“Ayrin, you’re really amazing… It’s much harder to steal a maiden’s heart than to get into the last eight in the nationals.” A small smile floated on Ferguillo’s lips.
“How are you doing with your wounds? Are you fully recovered?” Ayrin asked, sounding excited. “I still want to fight against you… I’d definitely improve that way.”
“Ayrin, for someone from House Baratheon, the interest of the clan comes before than anything else. That’s why, for people like Rinsyi, even other young men and women who are certainly going to become pillars of the kingdom in the future are enemies for them. That’s why he wasn’t only speaking empty words. On the tournament field, he’ll definitely kill you if he gets the opportunity,” Ferguillo said without answering Ayrin’s question.
“Then I won’t show any mercy either,” Ayrin said without even thinking about it.
“He decided to fight in first position today against Hawkmoon Academy… He won’t admit it out loud, but he’s already feeling pressured by you guys. That’s why he didn’t want to expose the other main members’ actual strength or their secret skills. In fact, his real level is even stronger than what he revealed today. That said, with his character, he’ll lose his composure as soon as he feels he can’t win,” Ferguillo quietly said, his tone dead serious. “With his true strength this year, he basically won’t lose as long as he doesn’t run into Morgan, so you guys will probably end up running into him… So, starting from tomorrow, you and I are going to fight against each other.”